8.27.2012

Nutella Cloud Cupcakes

.  This will be my only post for the week because Robbie and I are headed to Colorado this weekend for a wedding and some much needed time in the mountains.  Okay, not really needed  but you know what I mean.  Beautiful forests, crisp mountain air, and endless hikes with our puppies are all we need to have a wonderful time.  Not asking too much, is it?

So because we'll be gone, I figured I'd leave you with a recently discovered extra special recipe, which just happened to jump to one of the top goodies I've ever made.  No.  Doubt.  About.  It.


I first made these per a request from a coworker who needed a treat to pass out during a charity event at work.  I went with these cupcakes because A) everyone likes cupcakes, B) almost everyone likes chocolate, and C) no one can pass up Nutella.  Am I right or am I right?  And not to toot my own horn, but these dang things were a hit.  So much so that [I kid you not] I had coworkers I'd never even met calling my desk to get the recipe.  These cupcakes are that impressive.

The chocolate cupcakes are honestly the best quality chocolate cupcakes I've had the pleasure of making.  They're richly chocolately, , yet moist at the same time.  But what I know you've never had is this frosting, which has been repeatedly described as cloud-like.  Hence, the name.  Uh, okay, how is that not tempting?  This Nutella Frosting is like no other frosting I've ever had.  It's flavored with a subtle hint of Nutella and absolutely melts away as you bite into the cupcake.  I'll go ahead and compare it to a ridiculously light and soft mousse, I guess.  Yep, that's it.


Oh and if you can tell from the pictures, I had a blasty blast piping this frosting.  I love the look of bakery piping but have never been able to replicate.  But this frosting let's me do it with ease.  Into my keeping-forever-recipes this goes!

Well I hope everyone has a lovely week, we'll be busy getting ready for the coming weekend but I know Robbie and I are both too excited to get back to the mountains.  And even though these pictures aren't too great [I was in a bit of a rush!] and my description by no means does these cupcakes justice, I'm begging you to make these ASAP.   They are to die for and even prompted Robbie to ask me to make these twice.  Which he never does!  Enough said.


And because I wouldn't have dared to change the recipe, I'm directing you to Sweetapolita where the recipe originated.  What a saint ☺ .

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8.25.2012

Blueberry Raspberry Crumble Bars

Hey, oh!

Long time no post, huh?  Okay, only a few days.  But I do feel like LSM has been a bit neglected as of late.  This whole new job thing has got me going a million miles an hour and leaves me completely crashed at night.  So no time for posting.  I'm sure you'll forgive me though.


Not too much [but at the same time, a lot going on!] over our way.  Let's see, for this weekend I'm planning on fitting in a lengthy run on Saturday morning [we'll see how that goes though because for some reason my knee has been bothering me], helping with a special work event later that morning [more to come on that], and then finishing Saturday painting our deck with Robbie and his papa.  No real plans for Sunday except that dear ol' Robbie is leaving town again for work.  Boo to that.

We're kind of boring, huh?  I know, I'm trying to work on that.  Robbie and I have some fun travel plans coming up soon though, so that'll shake things up a bit!


But for this weekend, I have a special end-of-summer treat to share with you all [gah, I can't believe summer is ending already...!].  These Blueberry Raspberry Crumble Bars [which I was tempted to call BlueRaz Bars, but refrained] are a classically simple bar to make yet result in an over-the-top, humongous goodie.  No joke.  These bars are thick mamas.  If that even makes sense.  And so, so scrumptious.

Where to begin?  Well what makes them so easy is that the the base and crumble are one in the same.  Meaning that you make one mixture that is used for the base and the topping.  Easy peasy.  The filling is somewhat gooey, studded with chunks of sweet and tart blueberries and raspberries, and pairs perfectly with the crunchy, buttery outsides.  Cue salivating mouth...now. 


My thoughts are that you can grab some local fruits from the farmers market this weekend and make this recipe in a snap to share [or not] with your loved ones.  Now get bakin'!  .

Adapted from A Passion for Baking

Ingredients:
Crust and Topping:
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1-1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Filling:
2 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. fresh raspberries
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:
  1. Generously coat 11x7-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. For crust and topping, place flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon into a food processor.  Pulse to blend (about 20 seconds).  Add butter and pulse until you have a crumbly mass (not dry by sticking together).
  3. For filling, toss blueberries and raspberries in a small bowl with sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.
  4. Spread half of crumble mixture into prepared pan and pat down gently.  Spread fruit filling evenly over crust.  Top as evenly as possible with remaining crumble mixture and press slightly.  Chill 30 minutes.
  5. Heat oven to 350°F.  After chilled, bake bars 40 to 45 minutes until fruit starts to bubble.  Reduce oven to 325°F and bake additional 15 to 20 minutes or until fruit that is bubbling is deeper in color and edges of squares are browned.  Cool completely in pan before cutting or refrigerate 2 to 3 hours before cutting.
Yield: 15 bars

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8.21.2012

TWD Baking with Julia: Popovers


.  Whoa.

Easiest thing I've ever made, let alone the easiest TWD recipe to date.  And guess what?  Still dang scrumptious.

 A true one-bowl wonder that you'll want to keep in your repertoire.  Especially if you want to impress any visitors.  Popovers are simple but they look [and taste] fancy-schmancy.  Agreed?  Agreed.


I was actually a little taken aback at how short this recipe was.  But like I've said before, some of the best goodies come from the simplest of things.  And in this case, it's never been more true.

The popovers themselves are so light and airy, the classic popover many of you are probably used to.  I fell in love with the doughy innards and slightly crisp exteriors.  And the simple base got me thinkin': how many variations of this treat could you conjure up?!  Pair the popovers with sweet preserves, honey, or add in some savory items such as cheeses and herbs.  The possibilities are seemingly endless.


Once again, Dorie came through 100%.  What a lady.

And since I know I've peaked your interest, head over to our August hosts blogs, Vintage Kitchen  Notes and Bake with Amy, for the popover recipe.  Also, don't forget to check out the TWD LYL post to see all of the other TWD participants posts and get the inside scoop on how it all went down.  Bon appetite!  .

My Notes:
  • As you'll read in the recipe, you can make the popovers in either a popover tin [which I don't have] or in regular muffin cups.  I opted for the latter, so as you can see, my popovers aren't as 'high' as most popovers.  Nevertheless, they were still wonderful!
  • Dorie says to serve the popovers straight out of the oven, and I wholeheartedly agree.  But I did throw some into a ziploc bag over night to see how they'd fare, and I've got to be honest, they were still pretty good.  Maybe throw them into the microwave for a couple seconds to heat them up, but I had no problem eating them straight from the baggie.


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8.17.2012

Cherry Hand Pies

.  As you may have read, Robbie and I just got back from an exciting [and exhausting] weekend with my relatives.  I really can't explain the feeling I have when I'm around them, except for the fact that I don't think I could love any others more than I do those people.  Regardless that I live halfway across the country from many of them, they are truly the most accepting and genuine people I have had the pleasure to meet.  And I'm lucky enough to call them my family.

But all good things must come to an end and unfortunately I had to come back to the 'real world.'  But I was anticipating this return a little more than most because...

I'm starting a new job!

Don't freak.  Same company, and even though I had a wonderful time in my previous position, I'm overly eager to begin this new one.   I think the idea of starting something new and getting to learn a whole lot is [nerdily] exciting to me.  Don't get me wrong, I had a unique experience in my very first job, learned oh-so-much, and met some amazing people [most of which I will keep in touch with for the rest of the my life] but new is always intriguing.  Right?!  Right.


So needless to say, this week has been nuts-o.  And to boot, there's some important birthdays and multiple wedding events coming up this weekend.  It never seems to stop.  But I can't and won't complain.  Busy is good ☺

So to lead you into the weekend [this will be my last post for the week], I thought this would be a perfect time to share a nostalgic treat [well, at least for me].  Something that reminds of my childhood growing up in Washington State and the wonderful memories I have with my relatives.


Cherry Hand Pies.

Not gonna lie, I didn't eat much Cherry Pie growing up [even though it's my favorite!] but you can bet I ate my fair share of cherries!  I mean c'mon, cherry trees are everywhere in the good ol' state of Washington.  If I do remember right, my grandparents even had a cherry tree in their yard...

Anywho, these Cherry Hand Pies are a wonderful breakfast goodie.  I know it's wierd to hear [or read] that but surprisingly these little pockets of fruity yummyness are not overly sweet.  In fact, the pastry itself really lends itself to the wonderful sweetness of the cherries [so make sure you get good ones] and so much so, that I decided to make a simple icing to drizzle over the hand pies.  Perfect touch, too, if I do say so ☺


Well I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, Robbie and I will be on the go basically the entire time.  So see you next week!  .

My Notes:
  • The original recipe called for strawberries, so feel free to switch out the fruit in the filling for whatever your hear desires.  I'm itching to try some blueberries...
  • Next time around I may try the pie crust from my Bumbleberry Pie.  That was one dang good pie crust and I can imagine the buttery, flakey crust would be perfect with this recipe!

Adapted from Barbara Bakes

Ingredients:
Cherry Filling:
2 lbs. (4 c.) cherries, pitted and chopped
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
Pinch of salt

Pastry Dough:
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. shortening
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 to 2 tsp. water

Simple Icing:
1/4 c. powdered Sugar
2 tbsp. water

Directions:
  1. For filling, in a small bowl, mix cherries with flour, sugar and salt (increase the sugar depending on how sweet the cherries are).  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350º.  For pastry dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add shortening and cut into flour mixture with pastry blender or mix with hands until crumbly.
  3. Add milk and mix with spatula until  pastry begins to come together.
  4. Lightly flour your hands and countertop and turn the dough out onto the countertop. Knead the dough, folding over 10 to 20 times.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/3 to 1/2-inch thickness.  Cut into rounds using a 2 1/4-inch ring.  Roll each round as thinly as possible (about 5 to 6 inches in diameter).
  5. Combine the egg and water to make an egg wash; set aside until ready to use.
  6. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling onto the dough. Brush the edges of half of the dough lightly with egg wash, fold over, and seal edges together with tines of a fork. Gently press down to flatten and evenly distribute the filling and cut 3 slits in the top of the pie.  Place pie onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Repeat with remaining rounds.
  7. Brush tops of pies with egg wash and sprinkle with decorating sugar.
  8. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.
  9. For icing, mix powdered sugar and water until smooth (add additional water by teaspoonfuls until desired consistency).  Drizzle icing over pies.
Yield: 2 dozen hand pies


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8.15.2012

The Asian Invasion

.  Or a family reunion as most would probably call it.  But we'll go with the former.

Regardless of what we call it, this last long weekend in McCall, Idaho was one of the best I've had in a long while.  Food, family, beaches, a lake, and just good ol' laughs all jammed into a few days with some of the people I love most in this world.  That's a recipe for one weekend I didn't want to end.  I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful my relatives are.  Whether I've seen them in the last 15 minutes or the last 15 years [and sadly that amount of time had gone by since I'd seen many of them!], everyone seems to pick right up wherever they left off.  It's a truly special group of people.

And since there are way too many memories to discuss with you all in one post, I've opted to share a bunch of photos instead.  And believe me, these don't even begin to cover all of the hilarious moments and loving, genuine people I am so blessed to call my family.  But I had to cut it off somewhere!  Nevertheless, enjoy!  .

Pictures from the first night.  Please take note of the creeper van Robbie and I were so obliged to drive around all weekend.

Some of the younger kiddos.  Basically, they can all be models they are so dang precious!


Had a chance to hit the greens and attempt golfing.  So fun and beautiful though!

These are all of the 'families' that make up the big Wakasugi family!  And to think that a lot of people weren't even able to make it!

More family photos!

Took part in a hilarious wiffle ball game.  We have some athletes in this family!

Apparently I was a part of a photo shoot...

Also got to have some fun out on the lake.  The pontoon pulled the tube so fast that my cousin could stand up! Oh and not pictured, we jumped off a cliff!  SCARY!

More family at the beach soaking up the sun!

Last but not least, all of the Wakasugi family together.  Just like it should be.

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8.07.2012

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Bread


Well...

It ain't the prettiest thing you've ever seen.


BUT!  It's downright tasty.  Otherwise I wouldn't have put out the effort to even showcase this recipe on LSM, now would I?  But you may be wondering what happened, huh?  Well basically my impatience got to me and when I tried to take the bread out of the pan [pretty much right after it got taken out of the oven...], the loaf split in two.  Dang it.

However, I will admit, I couldn't resist posting this recipe because of all of the zucchini recipes blowing up my Google Reader as of late [oh, and because my co-worker brought me the biggest zucchini I've ever seen].  So I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.  I've seen a dozen of good lookin' zucchini recipes but I would bet that this Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Bread has to be one of the better tasting recipes out there. 


Juuuuuuust kidding to every other blog out there that has posted a zucchini recipe...don't hate me.

But I will stand by this recipe through and through.  It's that scrumptious, easy, and simply kept my fingers grabbing for more.  I first had this bread when I was visiting my aunt and I immediately asked for the recipe.   The bread was way too flavorful and uber moist to pass up. The original didn't have any chocolate chips [so feel free to leave those out] but I couldn't resist.  Who doesn't like a little dose of rich chocolate?!

On a side note, Robbie and I are headed to Idaho this weekend for the Wakasugi Family Reunion [wahoooooo, I seriously can't wait!], so this will be my last post for the week.  Too much work and packing to get done before we head off.  So it looks like I'll have two trips to catch you guys up on when I get back!  Remind me  .

My Notes:
  • I actually made a couple of batches of this bread because I had so much zucchini to use but also because I botched the first round [I forgot to put in the canola oil].  However, the bread still turned out really good!  So for a healthier version, you could leave out the canola oil.  But I suggest going with the full fat version ☺
  • Like most quick breads, this recipe is the best after a day or so because it gives all of the flavors time to really meld.  Or you can dig in right away.  Your choice.
  • The original recipe called for three 5-3/4x3-inch mini loaves, so if you choose to do this just bake the breads for approximately 40 to 45 minutes.


Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 tsp. banana extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. shredded zucchini
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In a small bowl, beat the egg, bananas, canola oil, banana extract, and vanilla extract.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour batter into 9x5-inch loaf pan.  Bake approximately 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool almost completely before removing from pan to wire rack.  
Yield: 1 loaf


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8.04.2012

Petit Amuse: My First...Review?

Yeah, LSM is kind of a big deal now...

Okay, not really.

But guess what guys?!  My first review has finally rolled around and I'm SUPA excited!  Honestly, I never thought I'd be doing one of these, reviews are only for those big time blogs with all of the sponsors and ridiculous amounts of daily views.  LSM doesn't quite fit into that category. 


But lo' and behold, I magically made it on to some mass e-mailing list [sorry, it's the truth!] of Petit Amuse and received a note asking if I would like to review their product.  Or products, I should say.  I was a tad skeptical at first because who knows what's floating around the internet these days, but I gave it shot.  And both Robbie and I are glad I did!

So what is Petit Amuse?  Well literally, the words are a French term that means 'mouth amusement' (a.k.a amuse-bouche for you Top Chef watchers).  But as a company, the words represent a business that searches for the best artisan food producers that the general public isn't familiar with and brings the tasty bites of food to your doorstep.


Not only can you shop their Marketplace but you can also sign up for a monthly sample box filled with three to four hard-to-find artisan goodies for only $10.  And this is what I got to experience.  Except for free, yo.

After I signed up, I promptly received a little box filled with five treats from companies I had never heard of.  Love it.  So here's what I got:

Cha-Chas from Lark Fine Foods
Ice Wine Jelly from Caramoomel
Garuka Bar from Garukubars
Sun Dried Tomato and Parmesan Popcorn from Oogie's Gourmet Popcorn
Salted Rosemary Shortbread from Lark Find Foods

So for a true review I need to be honest, right?  Right.  I actually really liked everything in the box except for the Ice Wine Jelly.  The only reason is because I'm not much of a drinker and that jelly literally tasted like wine.  A dry wine at that.  I could totally see the jelly at fancy party though, it would make a great conversation piece and it's definitely a unique product.  So don't let my opinion deter you.


As for the rest of the products?  YUM!  Even Robbie went to town on these samples!  The Garuka Bar was by our favorite item though.  The bar had a wonderful flavor of honey, cranberries, peanuts, peanut butter, and oats.  So not only are these bars ridiculously good, but crazy enough they're healthy and a wonderful source of energy.  Ugh, was it good!  Robbie and I both agreed we should indeed purchase some we loved them that much.

Let's see...both of the cookies were also fabulous.  I personally loved the Salted Rosemary Shortbread because it was so interesting.  It was both a savory and sweet cookie and kept me wanting to take just one more bite.  The chocolate cookie was great, too.  Of course it was chocolatey but also had a slight hint of spice that hit you towards the end of your bite.  Definitely yummy but not sure if I would purchase them?


And last but not least is the popcorn.  For you popcorn lovers, get this!  The popcorn was light, crunchy, and slightly seasoned.  Again, something that kept my mouth wanting more and that's always a good sign!  And this product comes in multiple flavors.

Not gonna lie, this was such a fun experience!  I wouldn't mind getting these little packages of treats every month and for such a great price, too.  If anyone tries this out, please let me know!  I'd love to hear about your experience.

Thanks Petit Amuse!

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