Friday, November 15, 2013

Peanut Blossom Cookies


Peanut blossom cookies are my littlest brothers favorite kind of cookie! These peanut blossom cookies (find the original recipe here) are the perfect blend of chocolate and peanut butter, and they are so soft!  Be aware: when you start eating them, you might not stop!  
About to go into the oven! 
Just before the chocolate kisses get put in! They need to go back into the oven for just a minute after the kiss is pressed into the cookie to allow the chocolate to harden (makes it just delicious!) 
Ingredients:
1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar for decoration
2 (9 ounce) bags milk chocolate candy
kisses, unwrapped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture until well blended. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. ( I put them back into the oven for about a minute to allow the chocolate kiss to set.)  Allow to cool completely; the kiss will harden as it cools.

Prep Time: 20 Min.

Cook Time: 12 Min.

Yield: 24 Cookies (ish)




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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Back from the Hiatus!

Well, I am finally back from my three month hiatus! Between the start of my fall semester, and just overall involvement around campus, I have not kept up with my blogging.  I can say though, I am back to posting!  To give you all a little look into my life the past couple months, one of the best ways to do that is to show you what sorority recruitment is like at the University of Mississippi.  
Rush week for us occurred during the first week of October, however, the recruitment process begins in the spring of the previous year.  Between practicing songs and dances, to ordering special decorations- recruitment is a time consuming, but completely worth it aspect of sorority life.  
At the University of Mississippi, sororities participate in three rounds of recruitment within the rush week.  This year, the rounds started on Tuesday, and the new members received their bid to their house on Saturday!  We have two days of philanthropy, two days of skit, one preference round, and then the greatest day: bid day! 
As a member of Pi Beta Phi, I am just going to give a little insight into each round! Our philanthropy is Read. Lead. Achieve, and to learn a little about it, watch this darling video (seriously, it is so cute!)  Every night during formal recruitment, each sorority house "transforms".  Because our philanthropy is focused on literacy, we turn to Dr. Seuss for inspiration!
I know I am swayed in this direction, but I truly think that we have the cutest decorations!  They are bright, colorful, and eye-catching!  
During the philanthropy rounds, there are several components!  Initiated members get to know the girls going through recruitment, they watch our national philanthropy video, and they also get to watch a video that shows the involvement of the girls in the sorority! 
The next night is skit night, and once again the house completely transforms. This night is a more fancy, and rather than girls wearing t-shirts and shorts, everyone is in a dress.  
This round is based upon a skit that each sorority puts together that is supposed to be humorous, as well as show a little bit about the sorority!  This year our skit was based around The Price is Right, but instead we called it, "The House is Right"!  
It was such a fun night!  We had such a great skit (again, I am swayed a little bit, but just because I am so in love with my sorority!)  The skit was a mix of humor, dance, and information, and I can truly say that I laughed each round that I watched it (and there were a whole bunch of rounds.)  
One of the best parts of this night is that it is a little bit more of a serious tone.  The girls get to know the sorority more, and we get to know the potential new members more! 
This night is also a great bonding time for all of the initiated members.  After spending many, many hours throughout this week together, we somehow all seem to love each other!  I truly got to know the sisters  in my pledge class even more, as well as my sisters in other pledge classes!
The last night that is involved in recruitment is preference night.  This is the most serious of all the nights, and this is where you truly get to know the girls that you might be calling your sorority sisters the next day!  
For this round, many of the sororities wear long matching formal dresses, and the new members are wearing their fanciest dresses.  This night is all about letting the girls know why they should choose that house to be theirs for the next three and a half years.  
We demonstrate all of the most important aspects of our sisterhood, and what our values truly are.  This is the night that I knew that I wanted to be a member of Pi Beta Phi!  That night I knew that this was the perfect organization for me, but I would have never known about all the friendships that I would soon treasure!
The day that makes the entire recruitment process worth it is BID DAY!  We have the most amazing executive committee in Pi Beta Phi, and we had the recruitment to prove that!
This year our theme was "circus", so everything was brightly colored, super cute, and just all around adorable.  
Bid day is just as exciting for the initiated members as it is for the girls who get their bid to join a sorority!  
All of the girls become so close throughout this week, and I can truly say that we become "sisters"!  
Did I mention how cute our theme is? I mean, we got rainbow colored swirly lollipops! 
When the sorority reads out the girls who received bids, there are screams of joy from the house that could be be heard from miles away!  This girl was one that was welcomed by one of those screams!  I had her for water parties (a pre-recruitment "get to know" of sororities on campus), and at that point I had no idea that she would one day become my sister!  And I am so thrilled that she is,  I could not be more excited!
Recruitment is one of the best parts of fall.  Although all of the girls are running on VERY little sleep, we are physically exhausted, and running on fumes, it is truly one of the most amazing experiences I have ever been involves in, and I cannot wait until next year!  

I will blog again soon, I promise! 

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Called to Serve Cupcakes


This weekend I attended a missionary farewell for one of my great friends.  His last request of mine for two years was to bake cupcakes for his farewell bar-b-que at his house, so I of course had to oblige!   
I decided to make a simple (but oh so yummy) vanilla cupcake with a seven minute frosting garnished with nonpareils and a paper missionary tag!  

These vanilla cupcakes are now my go to vanilla recipe!  They are moist, springy, and just yummy.  It took me many, many vanilla cupcake recipes to find the perfect one, and every time I have made this recipe they come out flawless!

The seven minute frosting that I paired with these cupcakes was fantastic.  It tasted delicious, and much to my pleasure, was stiff enough to pipe and keep its shape!  I think one of the key reasons this worked was letting the sugar, cream of tartar and water mixture boil before adding it to the egg whites.  
Since I was planning on adding cut-out missionary tags (I found them here) I knew I had to add a little bit of color, so I gathered some nonpareils and just sprinkled the edges, to add some fun! 
I could not have been happier with the finished product! The bar-b-que was great, and I was so happy that I got to see one of my friends before he left to serve for two years in the Liberia, Africa mission.   
Ingredients:
Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting:
2 cup white sugar
 2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 egg whites
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
For The Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over-beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean (Note: mine were done at 20 minutes, so be sure to check your cupcakes then to avoid over-baking!).

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

For the Frosting:
In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes. Frost the cake of your choice.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Yield: 24 Cupcakes



Enjoy! 

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

And it's a.....


Recently I had the best opportunity to make gender reveal cupcakes for the cutest mother-to-be I know!  She lives out of the state, so as a way to tell her mom what she was having, she had me make cupcakes to deliver that were filled with colored cream, that would reveal the gender of her soon to be grandchild! 
The future mama let me know that her mom loves chocolate cupcakes, so that is the base that I started out with!  I used this chocolate cupcake recipe , and it is seriously one of the most delicious, moist, and springy cupcakes I have ever made.  
In order to fill the cupcakes, I had to make a hole in the middle of the cupcakes, so I got to use my super cool tool! I purchased my cupcake corer at the Williams Sonoma outlet, and you can find a similar one here.  

Usually when I fill cupcakes, I put the "tops" back on top, however I wanted the cream to be abundant, just to make sure that the grandma-to-be could find out the gender (and have it be obvious)!  I used a cream filling that I found here, and it is so, so yummy.  Then I just used Wilton gel food coloring to color the cream.  Notice I put them on different trays and labeled them, because mixing them up would be tragic! 
For the frosting, I wanted to do a "swirl".  I had never attempted it, but I must say it was a success!  I filled two 12 inch wilton pastry bags (one with pink, and one with blue) and put them into a 16 inch Wilton pastry bag, and piped them with a 1M wilton tip. 
The swirl turned out so cute!  Just to add one more element to the cupcake, I decided to add a little white question mark.  I used white chocolate chips and just melted them, then cut an end off of a pastry bag and put them in the freezer to firm up.  
They turned out exactly how I wanted them to, and they were oh so yummy (of course I had to taste test them!)
Recipe:
Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Filling:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 pinch salt
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting: 
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Cube of Cream Cheese
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
Blue Food Coloring Gel

Directions:
Cupcake Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract and water and whisk until the mixture is smooth and all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. 
Distribute the batter evenly among the prepared pans, filling each well about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove the pans to wire racks and let the cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and cool completely on the wire racks.

Filling Directions: 
Make filling: In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening together until smooth. Blend in confectioners' sugar and pinch of salt. Gradually beat in 3 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. beat until light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag with a small tip. Push tip through bottom of paper liner to fill each cupcake.


Frosting Directions:
Mix until you have the right consistency to work with a piping bag. 
Make filling: In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening together until smooth. Blend in confectioners' sugar and pinch of salt. Gradually beat in 3 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. beat until light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag with a small tip. Push tip through bottom of paper liner to fill each cupcake.

Prep Time: 30 Min

Cook Time: 20 Min

Yield: 18 Cupcakes 




P.S. 


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