Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I dyed my hair today. I think I'll go ahead and pay professionals to do it from now on. I didn't totally mess it up or anything, but it's a serious pain in the patoot and I know I missed a bunch of hair in the back. Luckily, I was just dying it a shade darker (you know, to cover up the gray and random blonde strands) so I'm sure it's not noticeable. I think there's a bit of a red tint to it, though, which I'm not a fan of.

Now I just need a haircut. And I'm thinking about going a little crazy and going an inch or so shorter than usual. Who knows. It's seriously shaggy now, so anything would help.


Monday, April 20, 2009


Dude. Time moves slow and fast at the same time. It's blowing my mind. Here's what I've been up to...

-I've been getting more hours at work. This makes me sleepy sometimes, but I sure do like money.
-Filbert is rapidly losing weight and he has to go to the vet. This worries me.
-All jokes aside, I'm beginning to think yarn is like my crack. Seriously. I want it.
-I've officially turned into a cranky old man. I wish teenagers would shut the fuck up and I hate how everyone drives. Plus, I use the word "hooligans" far too often.
-I finished the Harry Potter re-read and I'm sad now.
-Jenny's wedding is ripping our family apart and making me die inside.

And how have you been?


Thursday, April 2, 2009


Today, I made cupcakes for knitting night because we had two birthdays in the group this week, Pam and Tammy. Unfortunately, Tammy didn't show, but we celebrated Pam's birthday nonetheless! I made two varieties of cupcakes: vanilla with vanilla bean frosting and chocolate with chocolate mousse frosting. This is how my day went...

Around midday, I decided on the recipes I wanted to make. I made up a shopping list, which was pretty extensive since our baking ingredients were low (flour, sugar, etc.). The only tricky ingredient I had to find was a vanilla bean. I knew the local Sparkle wouldn't have it and I doubted Wal-Mart would, so I set off for Trader Joe's.

The drive was fantastic - I love to drive on a nice day with the windows down and the music cranked up. Good stuff.

At Trader Joe's, I was sorely tempted. They have so much cool food, and at reasonable prices, too! Unfortunately, they didn't have a lot of my ingredients, including the ever so elusive vanilla bean. I thought about it and, as I was pulling away from Trader Joe's, I realized... Heinens. They have some of the more hard-to-find foods. So, I journeyed to Avon and found my vanilla beans and the rest of my ingredients at Heinens! Yay!

The baking went surprisingly well. Nothing went horribly wrong, nothing caught fire. My only issue... When the recipe says something along the lines of "until a toothpick comes out clean", that's such bull. My toothpick came out clean and my cupcakes looked like this when cut open...

So, I stuck them back in for a few more minutes.

The frosting had me a little concerned, especially the chocolate mousse frosting. I was very worried it wouldn't set up because it seemed pretty runny before I refrigerated it. Plus, my egg whites never quite got "stiff". But, in the end, it set up pretty decently! Hooray! The vanilla bean frosting was very simple. So much so that I thought it couldn't be that good if it was that easy, but it turned out delicious! The vanilla bean was a MUST - totally added to the flavor.

And this was my finished product...

The vanilla cupcakes were the favorite, I think. I must say this about them: The vanilla cupcakes are VERY vanilla-y and the chocolate cupcakes are VERY chocolate-y (and very rich!). You have been warned.

Here come the recipes...

Vanilla Cupcakes

*I halved this recipe, which made about 12 cupcakes*

-1 3/4 cups cake flour
-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-2 cups sugar
-1 tbsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
-4 large eggs
-1 cup milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Vanilla Bean Frosting

-1/2 cup softened unsalted butter (one stick)
-1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
-3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-pinch of salt
-Seeds from one vanilla bean

In a small bowl, combine butter and whipping cream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the butter. Beat until smooth. Beat in sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Finally, beat in vanilla extract. If frosting is too soft to work with, refrigerate 10 minutes.

Chocolate Cupcakes

-1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup sugar
-3 large eggs
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard cupcake pan with liners.

In a large heat resistant bowl, combine the chocolate and butter over a pot of simmering water, without letting the bottom touch the water. Stir gently until melted and well combined. You may use a microwave, if preferable.

Remove chocolate from heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the sugar. Beat with a handheld electric mixture until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each egg to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well blended.

Using ladle or small measuring cup, fill the cupcake cups 2/3 of the way full. Bake until the cupcakes are firm to the touch about 20 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse Frosting

-16 oz semisweet chocolate *I used 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips and 4 oz milk chocolate chips - that's all I had!*
-1/2 cup unsalted butter
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-8 egg yolks
-8 egg whites
-4 tablespoons white sugar

Melt 16 ounces chocolate and 1/2 cup butter over double boiler, stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons vanilla, whisk in yolks. In a separate bowl, beat whites until foamy, gradually add sugar, and continue beating until stiff. Fold into chocolate mixture. Whip the 1 1/2 cup cream in a separate bowl and fold into chocolate mixture.

*The chocolate cupcakes came out kind of sunken-in. I made a little hole in the middle of them and filled it in with the frosting and then filled up to the edge. The frosting is pretty runny until you refrigerate it for about 15 minutes, so it's kind of messy.*

The cupcake recipes both made about 12 cupcakes - the chocolate probably would have made about 16 if stretched. The frosting recipes, however... I made the full amount for both recipes and I probably could have frosted my house with all the frosting that made. Especially the chocolate mousse frosting... Oh my goodness. Here's a picture of the leftover frosting (mind you, this is after lots of "tasting" and me saying "screw it, we have way too much anyway" and throwing out what was left in the bowl).

Unless you're frosting a giant wedding cake, cut that recipe in half! At least! I probably used about 1/4 of it for 12 cupcakes. If that.

Sorry this post is so long... Geez. I can ramble.