Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

Right now in the Bean, it is pouring rain. I might even venture to say it is chilly outside. And on television, I just saw a back-to-school commercial. I mean it is July, and at my new job, we are planning our holiday menu! Is it just me, or is this summer flying by? I haven't even been to the beach and suddenly I find my mind wandering to cozy sweaters and warm coffee drinks.
But before I get carried away with my lusty thoughts for autumn, I want to hold on to the summer just a little longer. Lazy days, hazy afternoons and long evenings. Roof tops, grill food and late night walks.
Dripping ice cream cones, sangria and the best fruit the year will offer. So before you get carried away thinking about the rest of the year to come, hold on to your summer for just a few weeks longer. Found this gem on Annie's Eats and would highly recommend the combination between sweet blueberries, smooth cream cheese frosting and zesty bright lemon.

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
3. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.) Garnish with fresh blueberries.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Carrot & Zucchini Frosted Sweet Bread

I've been going to church for about three and a half years, which is pretty surprising to anyone who knew me prior to then, because I was downright opposed to organized religion. I have heard a lot of things that have, unfortunately, gone in one ear and out the other, but on Sunday, I heard something that will stick with me for a really long time. There are times in our lives where we can be staring in the mirror and totally forget the person we are. Therein becomes a gap -- the gap between who we say we are, and what we really do. And the more negligent we are with the decisions in our lives, the bigger that gap becomes.
I have a certain perception of myself, as most people do. I think I am strong. I think I am a good person. I think I am healthy, forgiving, logical and well-adjusted. I think I am tough, thick skinned, funny and active. I think I have a purpose, that I am a good friend and that at the end of the day, I generally like who I am. Lately, I've been taking a good hard look in the mirror, and that girl has, in a way, faded. I'm horrible at returning phone calls to people I love. I am angry, sensitive and forgoing the things I say I love and the person I say I am for things that inevitably, end poorly. I am selfish and tired and full of decisions that I am not sure whether they are helping or hurting me. I am a hypocrite and I, above most things, hate hypocrites. But I decided, yesterday, that I am done with that. I am, from here on out, in recovery.

As I heard on Sunday, the point is, our baggage isn't who we are, it is our fuel for who we can become. And as corny or as cliche as it sounds, I am ready to become the best that I can. And I am ready to get back to doing all of the things that I really love. This, being one of them.

Carrot and Zucchini Sweet Bread with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups shredded carrot
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese (we used half reduced fat, half regular)
1 cup powdered sugar
Zest of one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla. Some clumps of brown sugar may remain. Fold in the carrot, zucchini, and walnuts.
2. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, ginger, and baking soda.  Whisk to blend together. Slowly add to flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir until just combined. Spread batter into an ungreased 13x9 baking pan.
3. Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
4. Once the cake is cooled, cut it into rectangular or square pieces to your size liking. Make the frosting -- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon zest with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Spread or pipe the frosting over the cooled bars.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seven Layer Bars

Julia and I are standing there in the kitchen laughing hysterically. We are picking the crumbs off of the counter and sneaking in little bites of our cooling masterpieces here and there. We have flour up to our elbows, and our non-air conditioned kitchen is steaming from the mid-summer sun and our overheated oven. It is the simplest of times that sometimes make the best of memories. It is these times where life seems easy, and perhaps even clear. It is these times that you make some absurd pinky promises to your best friends, like, "one day, we are going to do this for a living."
And so began our planning process. We hope, once we move into our new apartment in September, to break into the Farmer's Market niche in Boston. Will it be easy? No. Will it be time consuming and frustrating? Yes. But could it be an incredible opportunity to do something you love with someone who makes you laugh until you cry and makes a mean cookie? I think so. So now, we're compiling some of our favorite recipes to get them tested by friends, family and co-workers, and here is the first we are sure to have on our list.

Seven Layer Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Place butter in 13 x 9 inch pan and melt in oven. Swirl to coat bottom and sides with butter. Make sure your pan is liberally coated. It makes the bars tastier and easier to remove from the pan.
3. Spread and even layer of graham cracker crumbs over bottom of pan. Layer chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and nuts over crumbs. Pour condensed milk over nuts. Sprinkle coconut over condensed milk. 
Bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool.