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A young and slightly ignorant woman who has always loved baking and cooking, I want to make people happy with food as often as I can. I'm here to whisk away and explore!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Preppy College Girls and Chicken Nuggets

I have so many recipes backed up that I need to blog. I feel quite neglectful letting them stack one upon each other like forgotten or old magazines you'll never read again but can't really bring yourself to throw away...I promise to treat you better, dear recipes.

Two weeks ago (two weeks, ah! So long ago. So much shame.) I decided to venture out into the land of the unknown. It's become a thing. First ugly food, now deep fried savory things? It's bizarre. I don't even know who I AM any more. Okay. That's very much untrue and I'm being melodramatic because this is supposed to be a baking blog and BAM! I decide to heat a huge pan of oil and decorate my kitchen in little droplets of oil that refuse to be cleaned up without smearing over everything. Hot oil is like college aged preppy girls. (I sincerely apologize to everyone I will most definitely offend in the next few statements) It's loud, can cause drama flames to flare up very easily, and generally gets its issues all over everything and everyone within a certain vicinity. But you think it's your friend! So you try and clean up the mess and avoid more mess. Nope. It's impossible. Also, if there are any college aged jock dudes around, it's not too far behind.

Hot oil = preppy college girls.
Okay, I am being too harsh on my peers here. But there was a whole gaggle of them in the Student Union Building yesterday and they were singing Kesha out loud in the study area like they were God's musical gift to mankind. Break it down, shall we?
Study Area
People Trying to Study
Said people appreciating the quiet atmosphere to study in
Preppy girls in yoga pants/weird bun things on their heads singing Kesha
Off key
Oh. Sorry, that's Ke$ha...m'bad.
Candice has the urge to fry aforementioned yoga pants girls in very hot oil so they shut up.

AH! If you ever have an experience like this and you need something to ease your rage...you can go home and make homemade chicken nuggets and eat them all. Not saying I ate them all or anything. But if I did...I totally have an excuse and it is legitimate, I swear.

A while ago I saw some disgusting chicken nugget video about the process that chicken nuggets come to be. And I was all "EW! How awful! What is the world coming to? This is despicable and I refuse to ever purchase another chicken nugget!" and then maybe a week later I ordered like, 17 hundred chicken nuggets from McDonalds. Go me. My mom (eating a salad of course) made some comment to me as I munched those crispy little death morsels..."Weren't you just talking about that pink slime stuff the other day? The stuff that's in those? How do you eat it? Do you just distance yourself?"
Thanks mom. Calling me out and shaming me for my nugget addiction...the woman is wily, I tell you. I need to learn her crafty ways. Well! Lo and Behold!! Homemade nuggets. Tasty nuggets. Nuggets o' awesome.

Recipe for Nuggets O' Awesome:
4 chicken breasts cut to bite size pieces
1 cup of marinade*
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp onion powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Oil for frying
*I used 1 cup of dill pickle juice, but the chicken had a very pickley taste after frying. I thought that was awesome. But if you don't really like dill pickles, try using half a cup of pickle juice and something else to compliment it. I plan on using mild fruit juices or coke. (anyone ever had Coco cola chicken? Amazing.)
Marinate your chicken pieces in the marinade for at least four hours and up to 24 hours. Heat oil to 375 F in a large high sided skillet. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and milk. Throw together all the dry ingredients into a gallon sized ziploc bag and shake it up to combine. Take your nuggets and dip them in in the eggy mixture, then throw them in the bag. Go to town shaking it...shake some more. Then shake off the excess from the chicken pieces and lay then in the hot oil to fry. Fry three or four at a time, don't let the oil get too hot or else they will burn. Fry about two to three minutes on each side and then drain them on layers of paper towels. 
Eat them as soon as you can without burning your fingers or the roof of your mouth. Because nothing quite ruins the eating experience when you have that burnt feeling on the roof of your mouth. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Signs of Spring and Orange Pistachio Cupcakes

Tulips are here. So are forget-me-nots. Also...the sun stays up til eight o'clock.
This means SPRING!
Okay, so it is still raining cold, hard, ugly rain and venturing outside usually means misery, but it's coming. There are signs. I love the signs.

So today being a Saturday completely to myself (my family is out of town) with zero obligations to the outside world I decided to wake up at 7 o clock in the morning and be HAPPY and PRODUCTIVE. (See  how those things are in caps? That means stuff just got real.) Do you know how much more time you have when you wake up at 7 instead of at ten? It's crazy...

So. What does HAPPY mean in my personal dictionary? It means making cupcakes. And cupcakes can kind of be productive, right? (I did three loads of laundry and cleaned all the bathrooms just to make sure I covered the PRODUCTIVE aspect of the morning. You know, just in case. I wanted there to be no doubts regarding the matter.)

Happy Productive Signs of Spring Cupcakes;
Mandarin Orange and Pistachio Almond Cupcakes
So that's a long name. I'm sorry, you'll have to deal with it because all those words are important for everyone to understand how awesome these cupcakes are.
Fluffy almond cake: check

Juicy bits of mandarin oranges: check

Crunchy pistachios: check

Lightly sweet almond buttercream and cute springtime topping of orange segments and pistachios: check

Happiness and productivity: check

Now, decorating these cuties proved a challenge. I started with green tinted frosting. Because pistachio cupcakes=green. Understandable.

But it didn't look quite right. So I added orange tinted frosting to the equation. Better....But then I tried frosting them with just the plain white un-tinted frosting. I liked the way those ones looked best.

What can I say? I like simplicity. And it seems classier that way. But of course, when you make these yourself (You will be making these, right? RIGHT? Ok, good.) you can decorate them however you please. You can even skip all the trial and error of frosting tinting since I got that out of the way for you.

Mandarin Orange and Pistachio Almond Cupcakes (Makes 12)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 cans mandarin oranges, with syrup
1/2 cup shelled and chopped pistachios
Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Open the cans of mandarin oranges and measure 1/4 of the syrup in to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of buttermilk to this syrup, set aside. Using mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk/syrup mixture in 3 additions to the batter. Chop orange segments roughly to measure 1/2 cup. Fold with pistachios into the batter. 
Measure the batter into the muffin cups, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool completely before frosting. Top with additional chopped pistachios and remaining mandarin orange segments.

Almond Buttercream Frosting:
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 stick of softened butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup shortening
Whisk together sugar, vanilla, almond, and milk in stand mixer. Add butter one slice at a time, beating until incorporated. Add shortening and whip about 8 minutes until double. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Me dealing with the Ugly: Oatmeal Raisin Cupcakes

You guys ready for some ugly food?
I love baking...because I feel that baked things tend to look prettier. I mean. C'mon. Cupcakes? They are probably the prettiest things you can eat. I'm having a hard time thinking of something that is cuter than a cupcake. And so I usually don't get super excited about shrimp scampi or meatloaf. It just isn't nice looking. Tasty, yes. Beautiful? Not so much.
But sometimes I try and work my way off the beaten path of the frilly baked goods and try to make ugly food. It's hard. It is so very hard.

My little artsy soul is repulsed by something so ugly as an Oatmeal Raisin Cupcake. Yes, my dear friends. I have created an UGLY cupcake. It's most likely a sign of impending doom. The end is coming. An ugly cupcake. Oh my oh my.

But then...I tasted it. And it kinda helped a little. Who am I kidding. It helped a lot, because it was darn scrumptious.
It was a little like a oatmeal cookie, but in a cupcake form. Doesn't that sound nice? Just make sure you close your eyes when you eat it so that the ugly doesn't have an effect on your taste buds.
Because oh my goodness, is it uhhhglee!

Oatmeal Raisin Cupcakes
1/2 cup of softened butter
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of vanilla or plain yogurt
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup of oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup raisins
Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl when needed. Add the vanilla, applesauce, yogurt, and vinegar. Beating until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients slowly. Fold in the raisins. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until the tops bounce back when touched lightly.

Maple Glaze Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons of water
Mix together all ingredients with a whisk. Add more water if needed. Drizzle on cooled cupcakes.

Monday, April 1, 2013

March's Favorites

Hurrah! Round two of monthly favorites here. March was a fun fun month. First off, EASTER. We have already established that Easter is the best day of the entire year. So, yes. Secondly, lots of exciting baking things happened. And thirdly, lots of NON baking (but just as exciting) things happened.

Exciting Non Baking things first:
Ruby The Berry 
Sadly, my trusty (kinda) dependable  car, Florence, finally bit the dust. Driving on the thruway something popped, everything rattled. And my car died. An adventure ensued, my mother got feisty with a police officer, the police officer got catty, diabetic glucose lows happened. Annnnnd. My car took one final trip to the dump. :( BUT! Just as all good things come to an end...more good things are right around the corner. Like this brand new happy red little vehicle named Ruby the Berry.
I love it. I have to pay 200 bucks a month for five years to have it, true. But I'm excited. I'm excited to have a car that isn't held together by zip ties, and I'm excited to be paying for my own things, making a way in the grown up world of adults, building up credit and all those things. And I'm able to do it all sporting a cute car!

Brazil Trip
Last week we had our first official Missions Meeting at our house on Sunday night. This June I and a team of people will be traveling to Brazil for a one of a kind missions trip. There is so much stirring and moving going on around this trip. Wayyyy too much for me to explain in one small post. I haven't been back to Brazil since high school, so that's five years of doubts and fears I'm dealing with. But also five years of giddiness and catching up to do with good old Brazil and me. There will be water filters, and boats on rivers, Portuguese (yikes!) and hopefully churrasco and guarana! Hurray Brazil food...I am very nervous and mostly looking forward to it with lots of excitement! More news to come...

Baking Things!!
Homemade Cheese:
Best. Time. Ever. Go find the recipe (oh look, a link! How convenient...) and make it as soon as humanly possible. It will change your life. It was my number one fun kitchen adventure this month.

March's Pinterest Finds:

Crocheted Apples...cutest snack in the world!

Homemade Fettuccine. Looks good, no?

A tutorial on how to make caramel swirls for decorating. I've got to try this. 

Your March Favorites:
Facebook Favorite:

Pinterest Favorite:

I am SO looking forward to April! I can't wait for the warm weather and the sunny days, lighter flavors, more veggies and gardening...hope yours is just as wonderful to look forward to. :)