Boozy Pina Colada Cupcakes

Lazy Saturday afternoons are 100% made for relaxing, doing chocolate sea-salt body scrubs, and making Boozy Pina Colada Cupcakes! I whipped these babies up for a house warming party tonight, and while I won’t eat them (alcohol ain’t my thing), I feel fancy bringing them!

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They’re super simple!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 18.25 oz box yellow cake mix
  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple in juice, not drained

Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2-5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 3 drops yellow food colouring (optional)

Let’s begin! Combine the cake mix and pineapple in a mixing bowl, and portion out into 24 cupcakes. Bake at 350 F for 18-25 minutes. They will be super moist, so be careful when you’re doing a toothpick test, or bits of pineapple may come out in. If they do, put them back and they’ll stick there fine 😛

For the frosting, cream the cream cheese and butter with a stand mixer or hand mixer, then whip in the rum. Add the confectioners sugar in cups until you get the desired taste and consistency. Once well combined, beat it on high until it’s light and fluffy.

You can pipe it on, or you can just spoon it on, whatever floats your boat! I piped it on for a fancier look. Now add the coconut! I mixed mine in a baggie with the food colouring for a bit of depth to the presentation, but you don’t need to. Sprinkle it on the cupcakes! Refrigerate them until it’s time to serve, and you’re golden! You don’t have to put the rum in if you’re serving to kids or people who don’t do alcohol, but it adds a fun spin!

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-Happy Cooking!

Bonfire Cupcake

I’m 17 now. The whole birthday thing happened yesterday. *Hiss*. That’s me showing my distaste for birthdays and growing up and all that jazz. Okay, now I’m going to ignore the fact that I’m another year older and tell you how much fun I actually had on my birthday, and how well my cupcakes (instead of a cake) turned out! I didn’t have much of a party, just a bonfire in my backyard, so I thought I wouldn’t be able to do any cool food, but I really wanted to do something, and bonfire cupcakes ended up being the solution! You can use any cupcake base for these, it’s just the cool icing that was the point, but I went with a low-fat pineapple cupcake, because YUM. I pulled them off of Skinnytaste, and they were absolute magic!

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Ingredients (for the icing):

  • any kind of stiff icing, I used a store bought one which had to thicken up with icing sugar
  • red and yellow liquid food colouring (really good food colouring would make your life a lot easier though)
  • chocolate dip (chocolate chips, butter, milk) [optional but recommened]
  • pretzel sticks

Once you’ve made your cupcakes, let them cool COMPLETELY, otherwise the icing will melt off. Seriously, like a few hours at least.

While they’re cooling, mix lots of yellow and not so much red food colouring into a tub of icing until it becomes a nice bright orange, a few drops at a time. If you’re using storebought icing, you’ll probably need to thicken it with icing sugar like I did, but kudos if you have a really good buttercream or creamcheese icing that you can use!

Put the 2/3 orange icing into a piping bag with a medium star tip on it and pipe it in a swirl going from the outside of the cupcake, in, finishing it of with a little flourish at the tip! It helps piping if you keep the bag at a 45 degree angle.

Add red food colouring to what’s left over of your orange icing until it becomes bright red. Dip a toothpick into the icing and stripe it along the “flames” of icing already piped on. You can run the toothpick flat against the icing,and it will get several stripes at once, and don’t be afraid to make lines in the plumes of “fire” because it will just help it look even more realistic!

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If you’re dipping your pretzel sticks in chocolate, melt chocolate chips in a double boiler, and add little bits of butter and milk until it becomes liquid and shiny (I didn’t really pay attention to detail here I just eye-balled, sorry guys). Dip the sticks into the melted chocolate, and put them in the fridge or freezer to set on a sheet of parchment paper. When ready to serve, prop three sticks in a teepee shape on top of the icing, and voila! You have a delicious little bonfire. The chocolate pretzels really are delicious. They taste like chocolate wafers!

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These are great for bonfire night or the 4th of July, or Canada day, or any time when you have a bonfire, really! Or any time at all I mean, seriously, they’re cupcakes!

-Happy Cooking!

Braided Bread

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This is traditionally made on Easter, and I totally realize that it’s way too late for you guys to make it, but I made some, and it’s so good I have no idea why anyone would possibly only make this once a year.

It’s a long process to make this, but you’re not doing anything for most of it, so it’s not a problem!

I got this recipe from Food Wishes, and really loved how it turned out. I changed the ingredients up a tiny bit, but only to change the flavouring, so the bread is practically the same. If you want to see how it’s done, go and check out the site! I love cooking from video tutorials, because you can see exactly what your recipe is supposed to look like every step of the way. I’m considering doing them myself, but that might be a long time coming.

Ingredients:

Bread:

  • 1 (.25 oz) packet of dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100 degrees F.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp anise seeds
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • a drop of your food colouring, go for whatever colour you want, or a mix of colours!

This bread is super flavourful and really fun to make and look at! You can cover the whole thing in icing, or you can drizzle it like I did, or you can be grown ups and not put any icing on at all (who wants to be grown ups though, seriously?)

Dissolve yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in warm water in a large bowl. Let stand until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, lemon zest, anise seeds, lemon extract, and salt, together in a bowl.

Pour egg mixture, melted butter, and milk into yeast mixture once proofed, and stir to combine. Add 4 cups flour, 1 cup at time, stirring after each addition. When the dough is ready (it will be quite sticky), turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour (or more, I did) as necessary, 5 to 6 minutes.

Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Place a damp cloth over the bowl, place bowl in the oven with the oven light on, and let rise until doubled in size, 12 hours or overnight.

Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper, and set them aside.

Punch the dough down and divide into four equal portions. Divide each portion into three ropes. Braid each set of three dough ropes to form four small braided loaves. If you know you’re awful at braiding, you could probably just make them into two stranded twists. Transfer loaves to prepared baking sheets, 2 per sheet, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. The recipe didn’t say to do it, but I covered mine with a damp towel so they wouldn’t dry out, or you could probably cover them with cling film, dusting them with flower first so it doesn’t stick (drape it over, don’t tightly cover them).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bake bread in the preheated oven until the tops are golden and the bottom of the loaves sound hollow when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. It’s not completely necessary, but I brushed mine with milk to promote nicer browning.

If icing them, you need to let them cool completely before icing them, as with anything.

The icing is super easy, and sets up hard. Just mix everything together, and you’re golden!

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-Happy Cooking!

Irish Soda Bread

This is a recipe for Irish Soda bread which I found on the blog Skinny Taste quite a long time ago, and didn’t have the chance to try until now. I adapted it, using all white flour instead of half white, half whole wheat, and halving the sugar, omitted the raisins and I added anise seeds! I bought them for making easter bread tomorrow, and they smelled so good that I couldn’t resist. I thought they would be prefect in this slightly sweet, breakfasty type bread. I even sprinkled them in my corn flakes and berries this morning!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp anise seeds (When I make this again, I’ll go up to 2 tbsp, for more anise flavour)
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced fat buttermilk

This recipe is super easy. Preheat your oven to 375 F

In a large bowl, whisk everything but the buttermilk together.

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Add the buttermilk a little at a time, until it pulls together into a soft, very sticky dough.

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Flip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed it for about a minute, then you can form it into a round, slightly flattened loaf, or you can do as I did and half it, and form it into two smaller round loaves. I did that, because I want to keep one, and bring one to some friends as a little Easter gift this afternoon. Place them (or it) onto a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper on it, or you can do as I did and use a baking tile, preheated in the oven and dusted with flour.Image

For two small loaves, bake for about 30 minutes, (for one larger one, bake for 40 minutes) or until golden, and test to see if they’re (or it’s) done by inserting a tooth pick into one. If it comes out clean, you’re good to go! I saw a recipe for Irish Soda bread where and egg wash was brushed over it a few times as it cooked, but it get’s a lovely golden colour without one. Image

Let it cool for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack, then enjoy plain, or with butter or jam.

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This was hard for me to not eat a ridiculous amount of, an I’m not a huge bread fan! Moist inside, crusty, and very flavourful. Sevral thumbs up!

-Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Éclairs

Pâte à chou. Say it with me, pah-ta-shoe. It’s the fancy French way of saying puff pastry, and until today, was my sworn enemy. It was the only thing which I could not get to come out right, no matter how many times I tried. For the past week or so, I’ve been crawling the net, looking for different recipes, and video tutorials, and finally felt that I could try again. My dad’s favourite dessert would finally be possible (I hoped…).

I used the éclair recipe from Joy Of Baking, which had a magnificently helpful video tutorial, but halved it, and these turned out pretty well! I was very pleased with myself 😛 The only thing is, I started these up before I was even fully awake this morning, and I grabbed the 1/3 cup instead of the 1/4 cup for the flour, so the dough was a little more paste-like than it should have been, but these worked out okay anyway. I had to cut tiny slits in the sides and leave them in the oven for another 10 minutes to dry them out a bit, but they still puffed up beautifully, and held up well with the cream.

Now, as you may have noticed if you’ve kept up with my posts and seen my pictures lately, I’m back home, on the sunny Caribbean island of Grenada, and that means that there are slight cooking limitations.  Like the fact that there hasn’t been any heavy cream or whipping cream on the island for a couple of months. While I was here over March Break, I volunteered in a French breakfast and lunch café, and the owner was having to call in favours from the grocery store managers to get some in so the restaurant could function (let me tell you how low-fat was not in the café’s vocabulary). Anyway, this made it quite hard to make traditional pastry cream, so I had to find a recipe which didn’t call for it. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked 🙂 I’ll include it, but I recommend the one from my Éclair Cake recipe (only half of it though), if you want the real deal. I like this one because it uses a whole egg, and not just yolks, and is a lot lighter feeling and tasting.

I also failed epically at the chocolate glaze because I only discovered after the fact that I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed for it, and tried to make something random with no success at all. None. It turned out to be a thin sticky mess, but it still tastes good! Use the glaze from the Éclair Cake recipe as well for this. It’s glossy and magnificent and super easy to do.

Essentially, this entire recipe is a big, fat, “Do as I say, not as I do!”

Enough of my ranting, let’s get to the recipe!

Ingredients:

Pâte à chou:

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp white sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut up
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

This makes 9 small 2″ puffs, or 6 normal 3″ puffs.

Lightened up pastry cream:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 large egg (I mean it when I say large, people)
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Again, go for the glaze from my Éclair Cake recipe.

To make the pastry, begin by preheating your oven to 400 F.

Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, and set aside for a couple minutes, then put the butter and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring it to a boil.

Once boiling, remove it from the heat and add the flour mixture all at once, and stir it together with a wooden spoon until combined. Place the saucepan back on the heat, an stir the mixture constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick ball, which should take a minute or two.

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Move the dough ball to an electric mixer, or use an electric hand mixer, and beat on low speed to cool the dough down a bit, for about a minute. Once the dough is just warm to touch, start adding the beaten egg, a little at a time, and continue to mix until you’ve got a thick paste.

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If you have one, scoop the dough into a piping bag and pipe it in 2 inch lines onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat, but if you don’t, you can use two spoons to do the job. Get a little more than a table spoon of the dough on one spoon, then push it off and onto the baking sheet with the other.

Not gonna lie, I found a really great trick for filling a piping bag on Martha Stewart’s website, which is to cover the tip with foil or cling film, prop it in a glass, and fold the sides down, then scoop whatever you’re piping in. It works really well.

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I was too lazy, but I highly recommend brushing the puffs with an egg wash to make them more golden.

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Bake them in the preheated oven for 15 minutes to form the shell, then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for another 25 minutes, or until golden, to dry out the inside.

As aforementioned, I used a tiny bit too much flour and these didn’t dry out too well (which you can tell by inserting a wooden skewer to see if it comes out clean). If you have the same problem, cut small incisions in the sides with a sharp knife and put them back in the oven for five minute intervals until they dry out. No more than 10 minutes though. After that, remove them from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.

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Let’s not judge me for the missing éclair. I had to test if they were okay because of the extra flour 😛

To make the pastry cream, whisk together the milk with the cornstarch in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until very hot and steaming, but not quite simmering. Whisk your egg together with your sugar in a bowl until well beaten. Slowly whisk in half of the hot milk mixture, adding it about 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Stir the egg mixture into the saucepan of milk, and cook gently until thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Set it aside to cool. *Watch this carefully guys! You don’t want scrambled egg bits in your pastry cream, so stir it constantly.*

Once your cream is well chilled (I threw mine in the freezer for a bit, covered with plastic wrap pressed against the top), scoop it into a piping bag and, using the smallest tip, pipe it into your éclairs. If you don’t have a pastry bag, cut the éclairs in half with a very sharp knife and spoon it on, then sandwich them.

To finish, dip your éclairs in your chocolate glaze of choice, then enjoy! You can eat them right away, or keep them in the fridge for a couple of days, or do what my dad (very weirdly) likes to do, which is freeze them. They pretty much turn into fancier, more of a pain in the butt, ice cream sandwiches. To each their own, I guess.

Seriously, please ignore my horrible glaze job, and just trust that I can actually make a decent one, just not this time. I’ll update y’all when I make these better next time!

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Even with all my epic fails today, these turned out pretty great. Mistakes in the kitchen aren’t the end of the world 🙂

-Happy cooking!

Garlic Parmesan Dinner Rolls (For Two)

Wooo. I’m making pasta again for supper tonight (nothing special, just store-bought pesto sauce with some chicken breast), so I thought it was time again to make these rolls, which I’d made for a big family dinner quite a while ago. I have a strange obsession with tiny servings of recipes, though (mainly because I never cook for more than two or three people), so I figured I’d scale this down, and make only two for Papa and Dad tonight.

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This is how gorgeous they were when I made the full batch of eight the first time!

Ingredients:

  • rounded 1/2 tsp active dry yeast *
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100-110 F)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 egg **
  • 1/4 cup and 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp melted butter or margarine
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, or more to taste, divided
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped parsley
  • olive oil for brushing (or a little extra melted butter or margarine)

*Yeast comes in packages of 0.25 oz, or 2 1/4 tsp. For this recipe you need a 1/4 of a package, which is just barely over 1/2 a tsp. Go for a rounded teaspoon, but because yeast runs away, you’ll get the amount you need 🙂

**A single egg has about 4 tablespoons worth of egg in there, once well beaten, so beat it, then scoop a tablespoon. Sometimes I find egg hard to scoop, so it’s easiest to beat it in a liquid measuring cup with an easy pour spout, and pour it into the tablespoon.

Whenever I describe these to people, I call them cinnamon rolls which have grown up, and become cheese filled, and savoury 😛

First, you need to make a sponge, which is kind of giving the yeast a little head start at rising. Mix the yeast, sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, and warm water in a bowl, and cover. Let is rest for 15 to 20 minutes, until it becomes bubbly and foamy.

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After that, you’re going to stir in the salt, olive oil,  and the quarter of beaten egg. Stir, stir, stir. Next, you’re going to add the rest of your flour. This dough is super sticky, so don’t be tempted to add more, unless it really, really needs it. It should be able to just pull away from the sides of your bowl.

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When you’ve completed that, cover with a damp towel, and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, which should take about an hour, to an hour and a half.

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Once finished rising, scrape the dough onto a generously floured surface, and then generously flour the top of it. This is a no knead dough, so pat it gently into a small rectangle, then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a 6×3 inch rectangle, about a half inch thick. Mine was about 6×4, but 6×3 is ideal.

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Take your finger, and flatten about an inch on one of the shorter sides, then go to town with your filling, avoiding the flattened bit. I brushed a generous amount of melted butter inside, then evenly sprinkled the minced garlic, chopped parsley, and about 2 tbsp of fresh parmesan cheese.

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Now, sprinkle some water on the flat bit, to ensure sticking, then, going from the other short end, roll your dough into a teeny log, and cut it in half.

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Look at how cute it is. Look!

Then place them on your baking sheet (I used a square cake pan, instead of a massive sheet), cut side up, and cut an X on top so that your filling will be more exposed. Brush with olive oil, or extra melted butter or margarine, and then  sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese. Cover and allow to rise for another 20 to 30 minutes.

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They have a bit of a tendency to tip over when they’re rising, but it’s no biggie.
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Preheat your oven to 400 F. Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, until the tops turn golden brown. Freshly grated parmesan is ideal, but I only had slivered, so they didn’t turn out exactly as pretty as the first time, but they were enjoyed just as much!

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-Happy Cooking!

Breakfast Quiche

My dad isn’t a big breakfast person, but I wanted to do something kind of special for his birthday, so I whipped up this super quick breakfast quiche. I’m just gonna give you guys a recipe for one, but you can multiply and make as many as you need 🙂

I had a tiny bit of left over pie crust in the freezer from a while ago, seriously, only enough for this one quiche, but it was all I needed! My recipe for pie crust is on this post, but store bought crust is welcome. I always like having pastry crust in my house, in case of a baking emergency 😛

Ingredients (for 1 quiche):

  • about a 1 1/2 inch ball of pastry dough, thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 2 slices of salami (or you can substitute other cold meat)
  • black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out your dough and place over one of the cups of a large, upside down muffin tin (large muffins, not like a huge tin). Cook the pastry in the preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes, until set, then remove from the oven and let cool while you whip up the filling.

Beat the egg with the cream with a fork or small whisk, making it as frothy and fluffy as possible. Tear salami into very small pieces, add them to the egg, and beat again.

Remove your crust from the cookie tin and put on a plate. Fill the crust with the egg mixture, sprinkle on cheese, and pepper to taste. Place in the microwave for one minute to start, and be amused as you watch it puff up into a balloon. Use your judgement, and if you don’t think it’s cooked through (aka, it’s still a little jiggly), microwave for another 30 seconds.

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A perfect, special breakfast for one!

-Happy cooking!