A Recipe for Life

There is no recipe for a delicious baked good today, just a recipe for the rest of my life.  I’ve talked a lot about the cupcake in my blog name, but up until now, I have failed to tell you about chemistry and crew.

I finished my second week of classes, and free time does not exist (welcome to the life of a science major).  For crew, we have a saying “Eat, Sleep, Row.”  Right now, it’s eat, sleep, row, class, homework.  Usually one of the those things doesn’t fit and it’s usually sleep.  Although I’m a busy bee, I’m so happy to be back in the wonderful world of chemistry.  I’m taking a organic chem class and I’m TAing (helping the lab instructor)  a chem lab.  It’s so cool to see students exploring chemistry in lab for the first time and watching chemistry come to life.  (Sorry if I sound like an old woman, but it really inspired me to keep plugging away at chemistry when I see their reactions.) The only downside of TAing is I have to prep solutions for the lab.  Sounds like fun right, expect when you’re working with dangerous chemicals.  I was very careful, but I just get extremely nervous.

Well a little about crew,  4:30 does come early, but every morning is worth it.  I see all my teammembers up and awake ready to row with me, and I’m excited.  This past week (when I was sleep-deprived) I would go to practice in a really cranky mood, but by the end of practice, I was so much happier and relaxed.  Another plus, I get to see the sun rise everyday.  I think this is one of the reason’s that crew is the best sport.  Most sports are played on a  field or inside a gym (BORING).  I get to see the glistening river, the changing of the seasons, and other wonders of nature.

Right now I’m plugging away at my chemistry homework and enjoying the peaceful morning.  I got to sleep in today, and I still woke up at 8 AM.  My body is all out of whack.  There’s a little update on my life,  feel free to tell me how you’re doing.

I leave you with two pictures.  See what you can make of them.

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Espresso Chocolate Shortbread

Do you remember the Espresso Cupcakes?  Well, I do because what’s not to love about chocolate and espresso.  These two awesome flavors join forces to create a lovely cookie.

I’m back at college, so I’m working with limited resources.  You’ll see later all of the examples of this throughout the post.  Who hasn’t had one of those moments when they need some key ingredient or important gadget?

Mix one tablespoon of espresso powder with a tablespoon of boiling water.  Let the espresso steep until it cools. Feel free to use strongly brewed coffee or espresso in place just just 2 tablespoons of either.

I brought lots of random ingredients with me to college in little plastic baggies including espresso powder.  No I’m not a drug dealer, I’m just bringing some sodium bicarbonate to college.  (P.S. Sodium bicarbonate is common baking soda)

Begin by mixing together the 2 sticks of butter and powdered sugar.

It would be great to have a had a mixer but this is college.  I had to mix it all by hand.  It’s best to have softened butter.  I took the butter out of the fridge 1 hour before I was ready to bake.  Don’t worry if you forget to prepare ahead of time, I always always always forget.  Put the butter in the microwave on the lowest power level for 20-40 seconds (depending on the strength of your microwave).

My home microwave melts my butter in 10 seconds where the college microwave tookover 40 seconds.  Play around with yours because you never want melted butter in your recipe that doesn’t call for it.  But, on the other hand, when you’re mixing by hand, harder butter means more elbow grease. Great for those buff crew arms I’m trying to build.

Mix the butter until it is all smooth, and there are no chunks.  By hand: 5 minutes, by mixer: 3 minutes on medium.

Here’s where the butter is incorporated with the sugar but there are still visible chunks.  You don’t want butter chunks in your cookies. →

Here the butter is all mixed in sans chunks. Ready for the next step. ↓

Add the espresso mixture and the vanilla.You can see striations of butter (I hope I used striations right, it sounded good?).  This step helps magnify the butter clumps, keep stirring to  incorporate all of these.

Add the flour just until it’s all mixed in.  Don’t overmix or you will get tough cookies instead of chewy, gooey cookies.

Add the chocolate chips.  I brought chocolate chips from home to college (my tight budget college mind).  But of course, I had them in my car for 6 hours on the drive up to college and in my room for a few days.  When I was gathering up my ingredients, I discovered my chocolate chips were no longer chocolate chips, but instead one giant chocolate chip all melted together.

So I had my lovely friend, Karen, chop it up for me into bite sized pieces.

Add the chocolate pieces to the dough and mix just until incorporated.

Look at the soft, tasty dough.

Place the delicious sticky dough into a gallon bag. Use a rolling pin or your hands (for those lacking key

gadgets). Pat or roll until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick.

Put in the fridge for 2 hours or in the freezer for 25 minutes.

Remove from the cold unit.  Preheat your oven to 325˚F.  Cut in squares.  Put on a greased baking sheet.  Of course, our kitchen had no baking sheets.  (We just got our lovely old house renovated so I had to trade baking sheets for new windows and insulation to prevent frostbite in the winter).  The sacrifices I make.

Use a fork to poke holes in the cookies.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.  The cookies will harden a little more after they come out of the oven.  If you want softer cookies, bake for 15 minutes.  For crunchier shortbread, 18 minutes.

Enjoy these delectable shortbread with a glass of milk.  You’ll taste the intense coffee flavor while your tongue feels the melting chocolate.   Finally, you’ll taste that smooth buttery flavor characteristic of shortbread (2 sticks of butter will do that).

Recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours

Recipe:Chocolate Espresso Shortbread

Oatmeal Spice Cookies

Every oatmeal cookie I’ve ever had has oatmeal accompanied by raisins.  Don’t get me wrong, I love oatmeal raisin cookies.  I love oatmeal with some brown sugar and raisins for breakfast.  I love blueberry oatmeal muffins.  I loved baked oatmeal with some warm milk.  I just love oatmeal.  These cookies feature oatmeal front and center enhanced by a variety of spices: nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.

Enjoy these crisp cookies with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, salt, cloves, and oatmeal until well combined.

In your mixer or another bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg together until smooth. (Here are the ingredients ready to mix and after mixing)

Add flour mixture into butter mixture just until combined. Add more oatmeal if you like lots of oatmeal bits in your cookies.

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.

These cookies will spread considerably, so space mounds 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and slightly firm.  They will continue to brown slightly while cooling on the sheet.  Wait 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool.  These cookies will be fragile while warm, so take caution.  Enjoy with your milk (chocolate milk sounds really good too).

Recipe from For the Love of Cooking

Recipe: Oatmeal Spice Cookies

Blogs I Follow

So I’m officially starting another year at college.  I would love to say that I will continue to bake as often as I did before, but there are commitments called homework, chemistry, crew, food, and sleep that also consume my time.  Wish me luck as I continue my journey through college and try to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life.  No biggie, right?  Nothing life changing or anything?  Can’t I just be hit with a strike of lightening and my future becomes clear.  If only? Well, I embark on another year to sift through choices and choose my following or followings.  I will try, try, try to bake for you and for my own sanity.  Any housemates or crewbies out there, you may get to partake in some of my spoils!?!  I leave you with a few baking blogs,  that I follow semi-religiously (nothing stalkerish or anything). Here’s a screenshot of my Safari Favorites page.  All but 2 of these 24 bookmarked pages are blogs (including mine).  Don’t even mention the word obsessive.  (I’m very blogging illiterate, so I couldn’t figure out how not to have the picture get cropped, HELP! or just disregard)

Check these out when you’re hankering for a good recipe and pass on any recipes that you think deserve praise.

The Pioneer Woman: posts about food, photography, daily life, she also gives away mixers and such pretty often so keep your eyes peeled

The Noble Pig: recipes full of deliciousness and lots of fat, sugar, and butter, so eat wisely

Dessert First: high-class pastries

The Sugar Crafter: recipes from every genre and for every occasion

Brown Eyed Baker: lovely recipes with pictures at every step

Joy the Baker: has nice recipes and clever how-tos (homemade cake flour and brown sugar)

Smitten Kitchen: recipes for baked goods, desserts, but also has cooking recipes for dinner and side dishes for those who are more cooking inclined

Baking Bites: recipes, notes from other blogs, and other cooking tidbits

Bake at 350: has wonderful pictures and recipes for cookies with colorful icings and designs, I’m interested in trying this sometime

My Baking Addiction: gorgeous photos and delectable treats

17 and Baking: one of my inspirations for starting this blog

Cake Wrecks: actually not really a baking blog with recipes and such, shows cake disasters

King Arthur Flour – Baking Banter: this is where you go for recipes from the experts, King Arthur Flour also has a website full of ingredients, baking tools, recipes, and much more.  I’ve actually taken some classes at their store in Vermont, well worth the money.  Also, when you’re in a baking bind, they have a baking hotline to answer all your questions.

Well, these are a few of the baking blogs I follow semi-religiously.  Let me know, if you know of a good one (besides my own), that you think is worth checking out.