My oldest's half birthday falls on my birthday, so there's always a lot of cake and cupcake baking around this time of year. :)
She told me she wanted to make these cupcakes, and I silently squealed for joy. These are so much fun to make. So messy, so fun.
So of course they had to come home with us. Another happy birthday to me! Now all the hubby has to get me is some more Ceylon cinnamon from Penzeys and he's set. I make it so easy for him. ;)
Zak! Designs has a newer version of confetti bowls available too, you can find them on the Rachael Ray website and on Amazon.
My mom has the exact same bowl, and hers is the one we always mixed up batches of chocolate chip cookies in. And served up a meal of spaghetti cabayero in. So I knew when I saw the same bowl last night for $12.50 at the antique mall, I had to buy it. Happy early birthday to me!
It was like deja-vu a thousand times over washing the bowl in the sink last night! I can't tell you how many times I washed that bowl growing up. Or as a grown-up home for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. ;)
This is hubby's micro rock crawler. He put beebee pellets in the tires so that it can do all sorts of cooler things. Like span huge cookie obstacles.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening*
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
chocolate chips*** (lots)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter, shortening and sugars. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture. Then fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes about 5-6 dozen.
*instead of 1/2 cup of shortening you can substitute a 1/2 cup of margarine, or use another 1/2 cup of butter
**we typically use bread flour because I buy it in the big honkin' bag at Sam's Club for cinnamon rolls, etc.
***I like to use 3 different kinds of chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet and a super-dark (like Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet). We usually add about half a bag of each, or cut up chocolate bars. Or try butterscotch chips in place of one of the chocolates. So good!
and this Alice in Wonderland-inspired Impossible Things:
I might have to order that one. We love Alice in Wonderland. It would be fun way to coerce a smile out of tired grumpsters in the mornings when I'm trying to get them to eat their Froot Loops.
There's nothing wrong with Texas sheet cake. It's just not one of my personal favorites in the baking world. And I'm Texan so I can say that. Ok not really. But my dad is from Texas so when I was little I always thought that meant I was Texan, the same as I was Irish/Czechoslovakian.
(but since Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia...where does that leave my family? Czech? Slovakian?)
Anyway, back to brownies. Basically what I have been searching for is a from-scratch recipe that tastes just like a box mix. This makes no sense. I know this. But it is what it is.
Enter Baked. Or, my Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook that I ordered earlier this year. More specifically, The Baked Brownie recipe.
Mercy. Crunchy top, gooey chewy center.
Can I get a brownie Amen?
Finally, a brownie recipe that is not only as good as a box of Betty Crocker - it blows Betty Crocker out of the water (or the Willy Wonka chocolate river).
And it's Oprah-approved. She totally dubbed it her favorite brownie.
Look at those two in the background. All ready with their glass of milk even.
Tips from Baked: A great brownie is easy to make, but you have to be aware of several factors.
1. Use a dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona. A pale, light-colored cocoa does not have enough depth.
2. Make sure your eggs are room temperature and do not overbeat them into the batter.
3. Make sure you check your brownies often while baking. Once the brownies have been overbaked slightly, they have reached the point of no return.
Oh, and buy the new Baked cookbook too: Baked Explorations.
You can find gorgeous handmade napkins on Etsy, and I'm sure the big box stores all carry them. But I needed a lot. So I went to Sam's Club. They had 8-packs for just under $8.00.
But leaving them white wasn't any fun. Bust out the Rit! I wanted to bust out the Dylon but for some reason the big box didn't have them anymore and I was too lazy to go to Joanns.
I filled up the sink with enough water for 6-8 napkins to move around freely, added 4 tablespoons of salt, and then mixed the dye into 2 cups of warm water before pouring it into the sink.
I added the pre-soaked napkins and stirred them around. You're supposed to stir constantly for 10-30 minutes according to the directions. I tried to do this - but it just didn't happen (it never happens). I stirred for maybe a few minutes and then walked by every 10 minutes or so and stirred them around.
After the time was up I rinsed them in water until the water ran clear, ran them through a couple cycles in the washing machine, and then threw them in the dryer.
The napkins are part polyester, so I didn't expect the dye to take as well as it would have to 100% cotton, but they still turned out to be really pretty, soft colors. The kids love them! And yay for no more paper napkins.
These would also be fun to dress up with fabric embellishments for different holidays or to match to your kitchen colors.