Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strawberry-Covered Chocolate Ice Cream Cupcakes

This is my entry for the 2011 Ice Cream Cupcake contest co-run by Scoopalicious and Cupcake Project. A twist on chocolate-covered strawberries, these are the inside out version featuring a strawberry cupcake surrounding a filling of dark chocolate ice cream, and topped with some candy coating.

First, you start with strawberry cupcakes (I used a box mix, but added an extra egg and substituted buttermilk for the water in the recipe, to get them extra firm.)

Hollow out a bit of the bottom using a paring knife or a cupcake corer.
Let a carton of chocolate ice cream sit out for about 15 minutes to soften it enough to fill the cupcakes. I used Häagen-Dazs Dark Chocolate, to get the richest, chocolatiest taste.
Once you've hollowed out all your cupcakes, fill them with the chocolate, smoothing the edge with the back of a spoon. Leave them upside down and put them in the freezer for at least an hour to make sure the ice cream has time to set.
When the ice cream is back to set, take them out, flip them over, top with some candy coating and chopped fresh strawberries, and you're done!
I've already looked at some of the early entries for the contest, so believe me, I have no delusions about winning anything with these. But they were fun and delicious, and now I'll have something to think about for a year until the next ice cream cupcake contest!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day

Today was National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day, and I celebrated by making three pies. Welcome, summer! Just in time for a heat wave here in the Northeast. Not maybe the best weather to have a 400-degree oven on for an entire evening, but once you've got the rhubarb and the strawberries, you're already on a dead set course and there is really no return.

Normally I would like to have experimented with each of the three pies and tried to make something different in each, but they were feeding a crowd so I just went with a tried and true recipe, with a little kick--adding some orange zest and orange juice to the filling gives it just the perfect balance to the tart rhubarb and the sweet strawberries.

Brushing the top of the pies with milk and sprinkling with sugar also helps give it that golden, sweet crust.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Olive Penguins

Now that wedding season is fully upon us (I went to one last weekend, and have two more to go in the next month and a half), it seemed appropriate to post this adorable photo of olive penguins who look all dressed up and ready for their big day. Disclaimer: this idea is NOT mine originally, I shamelessly borrowed it from Kathy Calculates, and they were too adorable not to make. The photos, however, are my own:

Here is how you make them:
Each penguin body is a jumbo olive, with a notch cut out for the belly and filled with softened cream cheese. The head is a medium olive. the feet are a circular slice of carrot (not too thin), out of which you cut a little wedge which you insert into the head to make the beak. Slide a toothpick down the center of everything and... voila!
I found that you want to eat these fairly quickly after you make them, because they started to taste a little stale/canned after a day. I would make these same-day for a dinner party if you can, and not try to make them last more then 12 hours. I tried to avoid the canny taste by getting more gourmet olives, but wasn't able to find any better quality olives that were jet black like these. They're not the most delicious thing you've ever eaten, but they are SO cute.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Occasions call for Big Cakes

Recently, a couple housemates were celebrating a birthday, a considerable success at work/school, and embarking on a journey abroad, all within the same week. While three separate cakes sounded tasty, it seemed only fair that such a big celebration deserved a really, really big cake.
As you can see, it barely fit in my oven:

I used a 16" cake pan (available in craft stores), two boxes of cake mix, in which I substituted buttermilk for the water and reduced the oil a bit, to make sure the cake would be solid enough to come out of the pan in one piece. It took three tubs of standard frosting to frost the top, sides, and pipe the wording and border. Next time, I will probably try to make two shallower ones to make a layer cake, because this ended up being quite a thick piece of cake with no frosting in between, but all in all there were really no complaints.

And in case you were wondering, it took them less than a week to eat it. I love my housemates.

Toothpick Day

In honor of the 139th anniversary of the day the toothpick was patented, my housemates and I declared February 20, 2011 as Toothpick Day. The theme was obvious. The results, delicious.

I was not the only contributor, which made it even better. Above you can see some toothpick bruschetta, contributed by a talented (and complicit in my celebratory attitude) housemate, which was delicious. Some of the other highlights:

Mini PB&J bites on a stick

Bacon-wrapped little smokies

Fresh pineapple (a welcome break from the other decadence)

Spicy BBQ meatballs

Ham and swiss roll-ups (with a little mayo and Dijon mustard for kick)

Cheese and pepperoni toothpick bites

Salad on a stick (with accompanying homemade balsamic vinaigrette)

And last, but not least, tortellini on a stick with marinara dipping sauce.

Happy Toothpick Day, everybody!

What are you celebrating today?

I can't tell you when it started. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to celebrate everything. Birthdays. Holidays. Anniversaries. Commemorations. Seasons. Sports. Special events. Not-so-special events. If you can pin a theme on it, I want to celebrate it. I also, coincidentally, love to feed people. Nothing makes me happier than a kitchen full of friends and family, celebrating something important--or not so important--and sharing the occasion over good food and drink lovingly prepared. By me.

So this is my homage to celebrations. Ones you would expect, and ones you maybe wouldn't. I'm no cooking genius--most of my ideas are not original, I have never taken a cooking class, or a photography class for that matter, and I make no claims on creativity or uniqueness in the cooking or blogging world. But for what it's worth, for a purposeful gathering of ways to celebrate the big and small joys of everyday life, it seemed these ideas belonged somewhere, together.

And now... on to the food!