31 March 2010

Birmingham Boot Camp

So yesterday I worked out and did Body Pump for the first time in *cringe* two weeks (I have many excuses, none of them very good).  Today? I can't move...  But at the same time it feels sooo good to be sore again!  So I know we have talked about exercise and weight loss in the past, but it is almost swimsuit season, or if you live in Birmingham TODAY is swimsuit season, its 80 degrees outside people!!! 

It is time to jumpstart your weightloss! My friend Brittany just started this program called Birmingham Boot Camp.  You meet 3 days/week for 1 hour sessions, 20 sessions total.  The program is a little costly at $200, but it works out to $14.95/session.  After reading the stats, I want to do it also!!! But since I just bought a plane ticket to NYC, I don't have the money...

Average weight loss: 5-12 lbs.  Average inches off MIDSECTION: 1-3!!  Average body fat loss: 3-5%... that's a lot!  People, I think it's time for boot camp.

This is a picture from their website!! The workouts are outside in the gorgeous weather!

So no more excuses, get out there and exercise!!

If you can't afford it, I have a bunch of Gold's Gym 10day passes.. come to body pump with me! I go 3 days a week!!  And trust me, it's a ridiculous workout.

Happy Running!

30 March 2010

Out of this world frosting!

So yesterday I told yall all about the chocolate cupcakes, and today I am going to tell you all about the frosting... bc no good cupcake is complete without frosting, especially this one.  For once I really wanted to try something different than just normal frosting, and let me just tell you, this frosting just adds a little something different to cake than normal buttercream decorator icing.  That's because this one has a whipped cream consistency that is simply, for a lack of a better phrase, to dieeee for!  Pioneer Woman found it on another site and decided to share it with everyone who worships reads her blog....

You must try this icing soon, and try it with something chocolate, because chocolate makes the world happier (its true, they did a study on it!).  Just trust me on this one, k? Great!

5 T flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar


In a saucepan, mix together the milk and flour. 

Place over medium heat and continually stir until it thickens,
it will be very thick!!
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely!!

You can even place a bag of ice under it after its cooled for a few mins, to allow it to cool the rest of the way!

In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.

Once the flour mixture is cool, mix in the vanilla extract.  Then pour this over the butter/sugar mixture.

Mix them together for ~5-10 secs, then STOP the mixer.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give it a little whirl with a spoon.  Then turn the mixer back on high for ~40 secs.  This is important: DO NOT OVERMIX!!! If you do, the entire thing will come apart and you will have to start over :(... So once it reaches a whip cream consistency, stop mixing.

Makes enough to frost ~14 cupcakes, double recipe to frost an 8in cake.  Serve over something chocolatey, and enjoy!

Also, add some sprinkles for fun!! Simply pour the sprinkles into a bowl, and swirl the cupcake in them until it's covered!

Pack them up, head to the party, and enjoy your own chocolate/frosting heaven :)

Happy Baking!

29 March 2010

That's the best cupcake I've ever had!

So yea, second time in a week I made a ton of cupcakes, but this time I had an excuse!! It was my friend's 23rd bday!  The cupcake and frosting recipes are both from PW, and let me tell you, it is the absolute best cupcake I have ever made. Or eaten. Period, end of discussion.  When I took my first bite into this cupcake, I immediately entered heaven, or at least my own personal version of heaven, what I like to call "cupcake/chocolate induced coma heaven"... or something like that.  In honor of PW I'm givin ya the step-wise recipe (ps. its all written out again at the bottom if you don't enjoy scrolling).

First of all, I halved the actual recipe to make ~14 cupcakes.  The original recipe is double this and makes the most amazing chocolate sheet cake ever (9x13). K, now that that's taken care of:

Start by melting 1 stick of regular butter (aka not unsalted). 
While it's melting, boil 1/2 cup of water.

After the butter melts, add 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder. 
Mix thoroughly.

Add the boiling water to the pan and then allow it to bubble for about 30secs or so.  Turn off the heat, and set it aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Pour the hot cocoa mixture over the flour/sugar mixture and stir it a little to allow it to cool.

Pour 1/4 cup buttermilk into a measuring cup. 
Add an egg and stir together.

Add 1/2 tsp vanilla to the mixture.  Whisk it all together. 

Pour the buttermilk mixture over the flour/chocolate mixture and
stir it all together.

Spoon into lined cupcake pan and bake for 20 mins on 350.

Allow to cool, and enjoy them thoroughly like I did :))
Tomorrow I will post the frosting recipe, so stay tuned!

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Melt 1 stick of regular butter in a pan.  While the butter is melting, boil 1/2 cup of water. 
2.  Once the butter is melted, add 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder, mix together.  Stir in the boiling water and allow it to boil for ~30 seconds.  Turn off the heat and set aside.
3.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Pour the hot chocolate mixture over it and stir it a little to cool the mixture down.
4.  Pour 1/4 cup buttermilk into a measuring cup.  Add an egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and mix it all together.  Pour this over the flour/chocolate mixture and stir it all together.
5.  Spoon into lined cupcake pan and bake for 20-25 mins.

Happy Baking, and enjoy the beautiful alabama weather we are supposed to have this week :))

23 March 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Stress. Sucks. So. Much.  UAB med school, not cool for making me wait soooo long to find out whether I will get in our not.. Oh! and South Alabama, you had the audacity to MOVE the day you were supposed to tell us back by two weeks, so I'm mad at you too!

So what do I do when I am seriously stressed out??  If you answered anything other than bake, you don't know me. At all.

When I think of heaven, I think of fluffy vanilla cupcakes covered in amazing chocolate icing... that is what my heaven will have, oh it will also have sprinkles... and cherries... and my bulldog, bc we can cuddle and snore for eternity, not that I snore (thats the dog!).

I should be going to the gym, I should be studying for my test, I should be sleeping (bc right now I am falling asleep on my couch)... I should be doing a lot of things, but right now I say to hell with it ALL!! I want to bake my vanilla cupcakes with scrumptious chocolate frosting, and then curl up on my couch and watch New Moon... again... for the 50th time... don't judge me... so that is exactly what I am going to do.  And it will relieve my stress and make me happy, hopefully.

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 T unsalted, room temp butter
1.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Put flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, and salt into your kitchenaid mixer with paddle attachment and mix on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency.

2.  Add half the milk and mix just until incorporated.

3.  In a seperate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and the rest of the milk.  Add this to the flour mixer.  Mix all together on a low speed until it is all incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Mix for a few more minutes or until the batter is smooth.

4. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until light (very light) golden and cake bounces back when you touch.  Let the cupcakes cool on a rack in the pan for a few mins, then remove them from the pan and let them cool completely.

See how light they should be when they are done!

5.  When cool spoon on chocolate or vanilla frosting, whatever is your fancy, add some sprinkles (they just make life more fun).

6.  And enjoy!!

It did make me happier!

Happy Baking (and wish me luck, I find out very soon)!!

19 March 2010

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

I am going to take a small baking break, just for a hot sec, k??? You with me?  I am in need of a little romance, mostly because my love life is, well, non-existant haha.  Well I know I have mentioned Pioneer Woman once or twice, but she is amazing... Her life is amazing... but, her love story is truly AMAZING!! The good news?? You can read all about it on her blog.  This woman went from being an all-city, country club girl to being the wife of a rancher in the middle of nowhere when she was just 22 years old!!

If you are in for a night, well hell, a couple nights of sitting down with a glass of wine to read this amazing story, you won't be disappointed... I laughed, I cried, and I was amazed that a beautiful love story could actually be real... The BEST part??? It is going to be made into a MOVIE! And, the most amazing Reese Witherspoon just may play her :))) Pure happiness, with a happy ending, duh.

Click Here.  Scroll to the bottom, the first entry is at the bottom of the page, and read your way up!

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels just may be the best romance yet...

PS. let me know if you loved it as much as me :) It made my week!

Happy Friday!

18 March 2010

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

I just want to take some time out of your day to talk about something muy importante... Buttermilk. Cheddar. Biscuits.  Mmmmmm my mouth is already watering again.  This recipe is from the most amazing, wish she was related to me, cook ever, Ina Garten (aka Barefoot Contessa).  Ina always tries to make me fat, and I would totally let her if it wasn't swimsuit season... and if I didn't want to fit back into my Citizens jeans (what?? they're expensive!!).

Anyway, these are perfect for any occasion.  Day after birthday breakfast.  Road trip food to Tampa (filled with ham and more cheddar cheese, duh).  Or for just anything you can imagine... Just try them, k?? (and before you do, make sure you read and prep allll the ingredients before any mixing... I messed up the first time I made this bc I didn't read it all first)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
12 T unsalted, COLD butter (1.5 sticks), diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 egg
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg beaten with 1 T water or milk

1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Place flour, baking powder, and salt in an electric mixer with paddle attachment.  With mixer on low, quickly add the cold, diced butter.  Mix JUST UNTIL pea sized clumps form.

Make sure you really dice the butter!

So when you add the butter, these pea sized clumps will form.

2.  Mix together the buttermilk and the egg and beat lightly with a fork.  With mixer still on low, quickly add this to the flour/butter mixture once the pea sized clumps form.

3.  In a small bowl mix the cheddar cheese (I used a little more than 1 cup) with a little flour, then add to the mixer and mix a little.

The dough will be very sticky when you are done.

4.  Dump dough on a well-floured surface.  Knead the dough a few times.

Make a nice ball before you roll it out!

5.  Roll dough out into a 10" x 5" rectangle, and cut into 8 pieces.  Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Brush tops with the egg wash mixture.  Bake for 20-25 mins. Serve hot!!

They should be about 3/4" thick uncooked

So when they are cooked, they are nice and plump!!!!

Ps. In case you were wondering, I didn't get to hug Big Papi at the Red Sox game, the security guard chased me down when I was on my way... but here is a picture of how close I got!

A little blurry, but, again, I was being chased haha... little blonde girl running from the police with camera in hand = funny mental image... Papi is #34 by the stairs (which I also went down and could almost touch Francona, the coach, but I was chased away... again).  Anyways, it was a fun spring break!!

Happy Baking and have a great weekend!!!

16 March 2010


Sorry for the posting hiatus (which will continue for a few more days)... I am in Tampa on Spring Break!! This has been such a fun trip and I just may post some pictures of it next week.  Tonight I am going to see a Red Sox spring training game, so naturally I am jumping up and down like a 6 year old at Christmas haha, def the highlight of the trip.. but only if Big Papi (aka David Ortiz) will give me a bear hug.. we shall see.

Hope everyone has a great week!

11 March 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcakes

Two words. Hazelnut. Chocolate. YUMMM!!!!  This chocolate heaven cupcake is filled with hazelnut and chocolate sauce and covered with hazelnut icing... salivating yet?! I am!! Yesterday, well these last 8 months really, have been soo unbelievably stressful while waiting to see if I get into medical school this year.  Since I find out sometime in the next two weeks, saying the stress is getting to me is beyond an understatement.  SO, what do I do when I am stressed?? I bake, I bake, I bake until I am completely covered in flour, and my cute strawberry slippers are flat from me standing up so long.  It's amazing I am not 1,000 lbs... seriously, thank you God for inventing BodyPump!!  So if you are stressed this weekend, or if you, like me, just have a LOVE for anything and everything chocolate, bake these... you won't be disappointed. (Oh! guess where this recipe is from???... yep, Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook... a-m-a-z-i-n-g)

Picture from the book

3/4 cup + 1T all-pupose flour
2.5 T unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 T unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup of milk (I always use skim)
1 egg
1/2 cup hazelnut and chocolate spread (aka nutella)

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Put flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a mixer with paddle attachment (or handheld electric whisk).  Beat at slow speed until all is incorporated and mixture appears sandy.

2.  Slowly pour milk into the flour mixture, beat until all mixed.  Add egg and beat well.  Scrape down the sides and then mix again.

3.  Spoon batter until 2/3 full in pre-lined cupcake pan (recipe makes exactly 12 cupcakes).  Bake for 20 mins, or until center bouces back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for a few mins in the pan, then remove cupcakes and cool completely on drying rack.

4.  When cupcakes are completely cool, hollow out a small section in the center of each cupcake and fill with a dollop of Nutella.  I used a circular cookie cutter, pushed it down a few centimeters, then pulled it back up.  Then used a knife to remove the section.

Removing a center.  Cupcake on left already has filling.

Small area only removed!

Hazelnut and Chocolate Frosting:
1.  Beat 2 cups sugar and 5T unsalted, room temp butter in a mixer with paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together.

2.  Turn mixer to a slower speed, add 2 T milk.  Once milk is incorporated, turn mixer on high and mix until it is light and fluffy (at least 5 mins).  The longer you mix the lighter and fluffier it will be.

3.  Stir in 1/3 cup Nutella spread by hand until evenly mixed into the frosting.  Spoon onto the cupcakes only after they have completely cooled.  Serve with 3 hazelnuts on each and enjoy!!!

Yummy, yummy cupcakes!!

Happy Baking!!!

10 March 2010

Following and comments!

So I have been asked by several people who are unfamiliar with the "blog world", how do I comment and how do I follow your blog??

I would LOVE it if everyone could follow my blog, seriously I get really excited when a new follower adds! (I know, I know I'm a dork...known it for years).  But, because I am using the blogspot domain and do not have my own, they place stupid restrictions on who can follow.  So, if you have a gmail, yahoo, twitter, aim, netlog, or a website you can become a follower.  Simply look to the right, click follow, click whatever you have (gmail, etc) and sign in.  Then you can follow my website!!!! Or you can be like my mother and make up an email simply to follow my website... what can I say, she's a pretty good Mom!

If you don't want to or can't follow, you can still comment on any post!  At the bottom of this post, you will see a thing that says "0 comments", click on it!  You will be taken to a new page.  Look below the comment section, it says "Comment As", scroll down to "name/url" and type in your name or to "anonymous" and make an anonymous post!

I hope this helps! Please comment on any post or ask me questions!!! If there are any recipes you want me to try out or find for you, let me know!!

09 March 2010

How to: Ice a cake!!

Before I took the cake decorating class, I HATED icing cakes because I always got crumbs all in the mixture... ok, ok, I lied... I still hate icing cakes.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to decorating cakes, and still hate it when there are crumbs in it.  The way to really learn all the fundamentals of decorating is to take a class (which are offered all the time at Hobby Lobby and Michael's)... BUT if you don't have the time or the money to take a class (even though they are all ~$50 for a 4 week class), you can look at the following videos and it will help a lot!!!

My Tips:
1.  You need to buy a turn table.  I got my at Louise's Cakes-n-things in Hoover, Al, but like everything else they are sold at Hobby Lobby... yall getting it yet that I live in that store?! No? Well you don't read my blog enough then...

2.  You need to buy the right kind of icing spatula.  Most shows and videos show an off-set spatula (ie. it isn't straight), but for novice decorators, you need a straight one... again go to Hobby Lobby.

3.  DON'T get frustrated!! It is hard to master perfectly icing a cake, and, like everything else in life, it takes A LOT of practice!!

Click here to see a step-by-step demonstration of how to ice a cake.  There is also a video on the page to watch along with the instructions and pictures.  This is from the Wilton site, which also gives tips on how to fill and use pastry bags etc.

Click here to see Cake Boss decorate a 3-layer cake.  For this you need pastry bags though, and the proper tip.  Spatula not needed.

Happy Baking!!!

08 March 2010

Buttercream Icing recipe and Coloring tips!!

SO I know that I have given you some good cake recipes, but its time to give you some icing recipes!!!  I almost always use buttercream icing for cakes, it has a great consistency and tastes great.  The buttercream recipe is from Wilton, and it is the recipe given in a Wilton Course 1 decorating class.  But, first I'm going to give some decorating tips!!!
Color your icing!!! Coloring your icing allows you to ice your cake in a beautiful color if you don't know how to or don't want to decorate your cake!  To color buttercream icing you CAN NOT use food coloring drops that you find at a grocery store, they make the icing wayyy to thin and can even give it a bad taste.  You need to buy concentrated icing coloring, which you can get at a cake decorating store or Hobby Lobby.

They look like the bottles in the picture above.  To color your icing, take a clean toothpick, place it in the color and stir it around to get a big dollop on the toothpick.  Then place the toothpick in the icing and stir to get the coloring off, throw toothpick away.  Mix the icing well, and set bowl aside.  The color of the icing will darken in a few mins, then, if needed, add more coloring to achieve desired color.

Buttercream Icing recipe:

1cup white vegetable shortening (crisco)
1 tsp colorless vanilla extract
2 T milk or water
1 lb pure cane confectioners' sugar
1 T Wilton meringue powder
A pinch of salt

1.  Cream shortening, flavoring, and water together in your Kitchen Aid mixer (a hand held mixer isn't good enough for this recipe).  Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients and throughly mixed together.  Blend a couple more mins, until creamy.

2.  This makes a very, very stiff consistency icing.  If you are using this batch to ice your cake, add a couple more tablespoons of water, one at a time, until it thins out some.  If you are using this batch for decorating, it needs to be stiff, so just add ~2T more water to it.

1.  In order to get a white icing, and not an off colored yucky yellow one, you must use colorless vanilla extract which you can sometimes find at publix but is always at Hobby Lobby.
2.  The confectioners sugar must be exactly accurate or this won't work.  Publix sells 1 lb bags and 2 lb bags already pre-weighted, so use those.
3.  I have never seen the meringue powder at a grocery store, you need to go to a cake supply store or Hobby Lobby to buy it.
4.  This recipe makes ~3 cups of icing, which is enough to ice the cake.  You will have to make a 2nd batch if you also want to decorate the cake.
5.  A hand held mixer will not work for this recipe, it just isn't strong enough to make it correctly... sorry!

Chocolate Buttercream Icing:
1.  To the buttercream recipe above, add 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa and add an additional 1-2 T water to recipe.  Mix until well blended.

Tomorrow I will give instructions on how to ice a cake!!

Happy Baking!

07 March 2010

Cookie project for kids!!!

So yesterday morning I was in body pump doing lunges... I take that back, I was dying with shaking legs doing lunges.  But since spring break is in a week I pushed myself to finish every single one.. After I was done (and walking awkwardly to my water bottle bc my legs were no longer functioning) the girl next to me told me she envied me... Immediately I looked behind me, surely she wasn't addressing me, right?!?!  Well she was, she said she never finishes lunges, because when her legs start shaking, she stops... That comment pretty much made my week and made me want to finish all the sets.  Today my entire body hurts and I look retarded walking since my hamstrings are tight, but I feel good about myself.  Remember when I told you not to forget your New Year's resolutions, well today is the day to make sure you don't, its beautiful outside! So go for a walk, and make yourself feel better!!

Now, onto the better stuff... Cookie fun with kids!!!!

Last wednesday the girls I babysit and I made sugar cookies and decorated them for my good friends husband who is currently serving overseas in Afghanistan.  This was sooo much fun and the girls LOVED it!  This recipe is from Pioneer Woman... if you don't know who she is, you should visit her site, shes awesome!  This is a great kid-friendly, fun to make recipe!!  The sugar cookies taste great, and the kids literally get to paint them, yea I said it, paint them before they bake!! And then get to decorate them with icing!


Cookies (makes ~36 cookies):
2/3 cup shortening (aka crisco)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp grate lemon or orange zest (I used lemon)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 whole egg
4 tsp milk
2 cups flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Egg Glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
2-3 drops food coloring

4 cups confectioners sugar (1 lb bag)
1/8 cup milk
1 egg white (optional)

1. Cream shortening, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla throughly together.  Add in egg and beat until light and fluffy.  Add in the milk and mix.

2. Sift together the dry ingredients, then add it to the creamed mixture.  Divide dough in half, slighlt flatten between two sheets of waxed paper, then refrigerate for 1 hour (or freeze for 20 mins).

3.  Roll out dough on a well floured surface and then use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes.
4.  Mix together the egg yolk glazes and make all your desired colors.
5.  Using a soft paint brush, let the kids decorate all the cookies (before baking)!!!

Making stars for Trey!!

And some smiley faces for the other soldiers!!

6.  Bake at 375 for 6 mins.  Do not allow the top of cookies to brown.  Cool cookies completely.

7.  Mix together the icing with a hand held mixer.  Place the icing in the ziploc bag, push the icing down to a corner of the bag, and cut off a small amount of the bottom corner of the bag.

8.  Decorate and serve!!!

We had a great time and the girls asked me if we could do this every week... probably not going to happen, but next time we can make cupcakes, my fav as everyone knows!!

Happy Baking!!

01 March 2010

Hungry Girl

Have you been wondering how to make your absolute favorite recipes more low calorie??? Then you HAVE to go check out Hungry Girl.  She can take anything, and I mean ANYTHING, you want to eat and give you a low-calorie awesome version of it to try at home.  I subscribe to her (for free!!) and recieve daily emails with tips, suggestions, and recipes!  What I really like about her, since I live alone, is that a lot of her recipes are for 1. 

For example, I got an email this week for Mississippi Mud Pie (YUMM).. she reduced the calories from 615/serving to 233/serving... I seriously need to start channeling her mind in my daily life.... BUT the recipes are easy and you would never guess that all the stuff is low calorie!

This is her Mississippi Mud Pie.

One of her recipes is my go-to recipe for nights when I want to eat something good, but am wayyy to lazy to fix an entire meal... so basically 3-4 nights a week... don't judge me.

Tomato-Basil Chicken:
Prep: 5 mins
Bake time: 30-35 mins

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.  Take a boneless, skinless chicken breast and cut off all the fat (I always use 1/2 chicken breast per person).
2. Place heavy duty aluminum foil in a pan (I use my 9in pie pan), spray top of foil with pam.  Place chicken in center of pan and fold up the sides a little.  Pour 1/2 can basil, oregano, and garlic (or Italian) diced tomatoes over top of chicken.  Fold foil up (so it is closed on all sides). 
3. Bake for 30-35 mins, or until center is no longer pink.
4. Serve with a large salad, and enjoy!!

Happy Baking!