Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Until this past weekend, I had been out of my kitchen for 2 weeks due to a business trip! 14 days people..

Do you know what that means to an avid kitchen goer??


Luckily I had some recipes in the arsenal so the blog wasn't out of commission while I was gone, but the entire two weeks I was locked up in my hotel room all I could think about was what I was going to make when I got home.

I arrived home Saturday night, greeted by my adoring boyfriend and spent the early evening feasting on some good ole Texas BBQ with some friends.. delish.

Sunday morning the kitchen was going to be mine.

Eating the same stale bagels, raisin bran and yogurt (not all at the same time, I had a rotation going) for 14 days does a toll on healthy(ish) and delicious were two prereqs for my Sunday morning bake sesh.

Bananas in the freezer + peanut butter in the cabniet + mini chocolate chips= perfect muffin combo.

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
A swEEts original
Oven: 375 Bake Time: 15 minutes
Makes 8 muffins

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup flax seed meal
1/2 cup crushed bran flakes (crushing 1 cup of bran flakes=1/2 cup crushed)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 ripe banana, mooshed
1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
2 TBS oil
1/4 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips * optional

Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine flour, flax seed meal, bran flakes, baking powder and soda.
In a small bowl, whisk egg, oil and vanilla yogurt. Add smooshed banana, peanut butter, honey and continue to whisk until blended.
Add banana mixture to dry ingredients and mix with wooden spoon until well combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Using an ice cream scoop, place one heaping scoop in each muffin cup.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until muffins bounce back to touch and are lightly browned on top.

Mountain Man said: "You can taste the healthy in these...but in a good way"

Happy Baking!

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Life as told by Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Mandy of 'What the Fruitcake?!' Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on the recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

September happens to be the month of Mandy's wedding anniversary so she took the challenge a step further and established a theme: "Whatever happens in your life in September, that's what I'd like your cookies to be about"..

I racked my brain for the best way to represent the month of September before realizing that so much of my life has its roots in this month...

And so I share with you..

My Life's Septembers as told by Decorated Sugar Cookies

Growing up my father was in the Army. We moved a lot, every 3 years or so actually, and September  always meant a new place to live, new friends to make, and new play grounds to discover.

most up to date pic of the fam

Right before my sophomore year of high school we moved for the last time to Herndon, Virginia, where I ended up meeting some of my best friends at Herndon High School, where every school year started in September.
me and my high scool girlfriends

After 3 years of being a Herndon Hornet, September came and I traded in my red and black for the purple and gold of James Madison University (GO DUKES!!). 

being good alum at a local game

In college, September meant rush and my sophomore year I made a big decision to join a sorority (yes, I was a sorority girl) I couldn't resist... the ladies of Alpha Sigma Alpha stole my heart.

my ladybugs :)

After four years in the 'burg, I decided I still didn't have enough school and come September I started  graduate school at Georgia Southern University. 

Sport Psych (thats what I do) grad students

My second year of grad school, just as we were getting into the swing of things, September came and I met a long haired, fu-man-chu sporting, Mountain Man, who stole my heart.

 the infamous MM- on the first night we hung out, note his stache.. ew.

Upon my second go at graduation, it was time for a real job. Fortunately, all my hard work paid off and in September 2009 I was hired to work as a contractor for the Army.

And there you have it folks..

 My life by way of Septembers as shown through Decorated Sugar Cookies..

What about your September's? Anything special come to mind?

Basic Sugar Cookies
Bake time: 8-15 minutes Oven: 350
Refrigeration: at least 1 hour
Recipe adapted from Peggy Porschen

1/2 cup + 6 TBS unsalted better, room temp
3 cups + 3 TBS AP flour
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until just creamy.
Beat in egg until well combined, making sure to scrape down sides of the bowl.
Sift flour in a seperate bowl.
Add sifted flour to butter miuxture and mix on low until non sticky dough forms.
Knead dough into ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces (making it easier to roll out)
Wrap dough balls in saran wrap and place in fridge to stiffen for about 30 minutes.
Once chilled, take off saran wrap and place on a lightly floured surface.
Roll out dough and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Arrange cut outs on baking sheet and place in fridge again for 30 minutes (so they don't spread).
Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake for 8-15 minutes, baking until slightly golden on the age.
Place baked cookies on cooling rack and completely cool before decorating.

Royal Icing
Recipe by Wilton

4 cups powdered sugar
3 TBS meringue powder
6 TBS water
various food coloring

Beat powdered sugar, meringue powder and water until icing forms peaks and sheen from icing goes away- about 10 minutes of constant beating.
Add more water to make thinner icing for flooding.

For great tips about decorating sugar cookies and some beautiful examples check out Bridget at Bake at 350! Her cookies are honestly some of the best ones I've ever seen.. they're basically perfect!

Until the next Daring Bakers' Challenge!
Happy Baking!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Butterscotch Blondies

Maybe I'm a little bias, but in most cases I really think brunettes do have more fun.

When it comes to these delicious little cookie bars however, I'm beginning to think that maybe blondies have more fun??

I say this mostly because the possiblity for additions are absolutely endless! Although brownies are everything you could ever need for a chocolate fix, blondies can be adapted for all sorts of cravings depending on what you add- dried fruit, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, bits of candy- and who knows what else!

I printed this recipe a few months back and finally remembered to grab butterscotch chips the last time we were at the grocery store...

recipe found on Simply Recipes
Oven: 350 Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Fills an 8x8 pan

1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup AP flour
1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter and flour 8x8 pan.
In a large bowl, whisk melted butter and sugar.
Add egg and vanilla, continuing to whisk.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk until blended.
Fold in butterscotch chips.
Pour batter into pan and spread as evenly as you can.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack and allow blondies to cool completely.
Cut into squares and EAT!

What do you think, brownies or blondies??

Happy Baking! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Texas Three Pepper Jam

I know what you're thinking, jam is supposed to be made with traditional fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries...

You're that what you wanted to hear?! But in trying to embrace my new life in Texas, I thought what better way to do so than with some jars of homemade pepper jam?

Pepper jam or jelly is more of the savory variety. Although it does have its fair share of sugar in the mix, it's not your 'spread on some toast and eat me for breakfast' kinda jam... Instead, it should be enjoyed along side a good piece of fish, on top of a burger or served with cheese and crackers.

I chose to use a variety of peppers for the different flavors they would bring to the mix and even used some fresh peppers that Mountain Man's brother brought back for us from their family's enormous garden! Check this thing out..

Sticking with the Texas theme, this was the second jar of jam that I sent to Anna along with my Blackberry Blueberry Port Jam for Steph Chows Jam Exchange.

Three Pepper Jam
Makes about 6 8oz jars of jam

1 large red pepper
1 large green pepper
1 large yellow pepper
3 jalapenos
1 box no sugar pectin + 1/4 cup sugar
3 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Finely chop all peppers and pat dry to soak up some of the extra moisture from the peppers. You want to make sure you have about 4 cups of chopped peppers, so if you need more than 3 then chop away!
Pulse peppers in a food processor a few times, making sure not to completely puree them.
Place chopped peppers and vinegar in a large pot over medium heat.
In a small bowl, mix pectin and 1/4 cup of sugar. Add to peppers and vinegar and continue to heat until boiling (about 10 minutes).
Once a rolling boil has been reached, add the rest of the sugar (another 5-10 minutes).
Bring back to a boil and let the mixture boil hard for about 2 minutes.
Test jam using the chilled plate test* have a plate waiting in the fridge- at this point place a small amount of jam on plate- if the jam doesn't run then you're set.
Remove from heat and prepare jars for canning.
Warm jar tops in a small pot of water over medium heat (you're heating them so they seal better)
Fill jars with jam, leaving room at the top.
Set lid and tighten ring.
Place filled and sealed jars in large pot of boiling water bath.
Keep jars covered in boiling water for about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from water bath and allow to cool.

When you need a little Texas in your life or just in the mood for something different, give this jam a go! You won't be disappointed!

Happy Baking! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Let the Voting Begin!!

When I was in 3rd grade I ran for Vice President of my Elementary School's Student Government.

It was a big deal.....seriously.

I had to give a speech in front of the whole school about why I wanted to be VP and I'm sure I made up some awesome stuff like longer recess and candy machines.

But ya know what? I don't even remember if I won or not.

What I do remember however, was my slogan: "Vote for me, Evan B, for VP"

So what does my one shot at childhood politics have anything to do with the Project Food Blog Challenge?  The answer is simple...

You've seen my post- Project Food Blog: The Definition

Now you've got to go to Food Buzz and vote for sweetebakes. (Please!)

The voting is simple. If you're not a part of Foodbuzz already, it is a great community of bloggers and food lovers chock full of delicious dishes, tips, tricks and friends- so head on over, sign up and vote for me today!! You have until the 23rd.

And just like I did way back when, I'll leave you with my catchy slogan with one minor alteration.

Vote for me, Evan B, for PFB!!
V is for Vote Vote Vote!

And if you're really feeling generous...if you could head on over to Sweetest Kitchen and vote for my cupcake in this month's Mystery Box Challenge: Childhood Memories that would be spectacular! (Pretty Please!)

An Ode to a Childhood Favorite: Fudge Rounds Cupcakes

I know I'm asking a lot of ya'll, but I promise there will be some good recipes to come the rest of the week! 

This post however, is all about you and your support.. I appreciate every single one of you out there whether you realize it or not..Thank you for all your kind words of support and encouragement thus far :)

Happy Monday and Happy Baking!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ode to a Childhood Favorite: Fudge Rounds

As a child we weren't allowed sugary cereals in the morning, my mom packed us a well balanced lunch, we always had a glass of milk with dinner and we had to eat at least half of the vegetables we had on our plate- even if that meant plugging your nose and chugging your milk after each bite...I totally didn't do this, I'm just giving an example of what a silly child would do....

My mom packed my lunch almost every day of my childhood...ok, maybe she packed my lunch all the way into high school,  but she had to make my little brothers' lunches anyways so it just made sense to make mine as well! Don't judge. You're just jealous my mama loved me so much :)

As I mentioned before, our lunches were always well balanced: a sandwich on wheat bread, a little bag of chips, a piece of fruit or maybe some veggies, a juice box and a sweet treat to round it all off- normally something of the Little Debbie variety.

My love of sweets started early. Not to say that my salami and butter sandwiches weren't delicious (yeah, I was a weird kid OK!) but it was the desserts of my childhood that stick out in my mind.

When Jamieanne of The Sweetest Kitchen announced this month's Mystery Box Challenge: Childhood Memories, my mind immediately wandered to the days of Doug, POGS, recess and Minnie Mouse lunch boxes.

Every afternoon I would open my lunch box excited about what may be inside... what will the dessert be today? A Nutty Bar? Oatmeal Cream Pie? Fudge Brownies? Star Crunches? Or my absolute favorite: Fudge Rounds!!

For this month's Mystery Box Challenge: Childhood Memories, I am honoring the Little Debbie Fudge Rounds in cupcake form.

So here's to you Fudge Rounds, delicious chocolate cookie sandwiches, filled with a delicate chocolate cream, drizzled with even more chocolate, making children happier one individually wrapped cookie at a time.

Fudge Round Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes, filled with Chocolate Cream and topped with Chocolate Ganache.

Chocolate Cake
You can use any chocolate cake recipe you'd like, but I highly suggest my Chocolate Layer Cake recipe: this one.

Quick Chocolate Ganache
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In a double boiler (heat small amount of water in a small pot until simmering, place heat proof bowl over pot) heat cream until warm. Add chocolate chips and whisk constantly until chocolate is completed melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
Reserve 1/2 cup of ganache and place in fridge.
Set aside the remaining ganache for later use.

Chocolate Cream
1/2 cup chocolate ganache, completely cooled*
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat cream with hand held mixer until soft peaks form.
Add powdered sugar and beat until just blended.
Place in fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.
Add cooled ganache to chilled whipped cream and beat until stiff peaks form.
If cream seems a little soft after the addition of chocolate, return to fridge to stiffen for about 15-30 minutes.

* I can't stress how important it is that the ganache is completely cooled. If you add the ganache and the whipping cream doesn't seem to be setting, place back in the fridge to chill a little longer before trying to beat it again.


Make sure your cupcakes are completely cool before embarking on the assembly.

Filling: Prepare a pastry/decorating bag with star tip or filling tip if you have one. Fill bag with chocolate cream (save some for decoration). Press tip into each cupcake and lightly squeeze in filling, slowly pulling tip out of cupcake as you squeeze.
If you're squeezing too hard your filling will explode out the top, so be aware of the pressure.

Frosting: Place a spoonful of chocolate ganache on each cupcake and softly spread across top, creating a smooth layer of ganache on every cupcake.

Decoration: Change tip on decorating bag to a 1 or 2 tip. Squiggle filling on top of ganache to resemble a Fudge Round.

I think I did Little Debbie proud 
Happy Baking!!

What was your favorite childhood dessert??

Don't forget to head over to The Sweetest Kitchen for some delicious voting!
Voting starts on the 21st!
The winner of September’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:

Thank you to all our prize sponsors!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Project Food Blog- The Definition

If there was ever to be a definition of me as a food blogger it might look a little something like this...

Evan @swEEts proper noun \ev-in 'at' sw-eets
  Definition of EVAN @SWEETS
1 : a food blogger
   : lover of anything sweet
   : passionate and self proclaimed foodie
   : weeknight/weekend baker
   : aspiring bakery owner
2 : kitchen risk taker
   : creative designer
   : taste engineer
3 : originator of the 'Traveling Sweets' (see also Traveling Sweets)

Origin of Evan @swEEts
 A very small galley kitchen nestled in the plains of Central Texas.

First known use: December 2009

Related to Evan @swEEts
 Cookies, Cakes, Brownies, Bars, Pies, Jams, Muffins, Scones, Biscuits, Buttercream, Icing, Cinnamon, Chocolate

You think I can submit that to Webster?? What about Foodbuzz?

I mentioned a few days back that I would be participating in a blogger competition and this is it! The challenges have begun :)

For those of you that have been here before you know what I'm all about... If sugar and butter happen to be two of the main ingredients in a recipe then count me in, throw some chocolate in the mix or better yet cinnamon, then I'm all yours!

Let's face it, I, Evan Elizabeth, put the 'EE' in swEEts!
My first fondant and tiered cake

Believe it or not, Mountain Man (my boyfriend) and I do occasionally eat savory things too.. In fact, we're both pretty decent cooks, but that's not where my passion lies. 

I love to bake.

Baked goods celebrate joyous occasions, milestones, achievements, birthdays and anniversaries. They can turn a frown upside down, remind people that you're thinking about them, bring folks together, be the beginning of a great day or make a bad day just a little better.

I started this blog not only as a means to document my recipes and adventures in the kitchen, but to stay connected with friends and family as well as make some new ones along the way.

Sweets make people happy- and that's why I started The Traveling Sweets. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury (or income) to travel far and wide to visit my friends and family, but my sweets do...a cookie here, a cake there, just a simple and yummy way to show those I care about that I'm thinking of them. Every time I send a sweet from Texas to the mountains of Tennessee, the shores of Rhode Island or the desert of Afghanistan, I know a little part of me is making its way there as well.

Those sweets get around!

And I'm always up for an adventure..

Like when I traveled over 1000 miles from Texas to Georgia, wedding cake in tow, for a friend's wedding (which I'm doing AGAIN in November?!)...

... or when I went to visit Mountain Man for his birthday while I was living in New York for an internship and hand carried little fondant replicas of him and his brother to be placed atop a mountain of a cake I had to make once I got there...

... or when I had to figure out the best way to get little flower pot cupcakes (I had to run to make my connection mind you) and their delicate gumpaste flowers through airport security as a surprise for my mother's birthday...

All in all, just another day in The Kitchen of the Traveling Sweets and these adventures are only just beginning!

Mountain Man and I have big plans for opening a bakery one day and look forward to spending countless hours in the kitchen fixing up all kinds of goodies for ya'll! In the meantime, I'll keep spending my Saturday and Sunday mornings whipping up delicious morning goods...

Decorating cakes for family and friends..

And baking cookies for all of you to enjoy..

There are some amazing bloggers participating in this competition and I hope you'll spend some time getting to know them as they blog about their passions and inspirations in the kitchen. So head on over to Foodbuzz to check that all out!

Of course, feel free to stick around here, kick of your shoes, grab a cup of coffee and browse my archive of sweets!

I love hearing from all of you out there in the blogging world so I hope you'll keep checking up on my baking adventures, following up on my traveling sweets and leaving the wonderful comments I so often find here. 

Happy Baking!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jam Exchange 2010 & Awards

As I mentioned a few posts ago, this summer I took part in Steph Chows 2nd Annual Jam Exchange...little did I know that it would lead to a complete obsession with jam and the whole process of canning.

I was partnered with Anna from Blondie's Cakes and knew I would be in for a treat whenever her jams made it my way. I mean, anyone who loves Biscoff Cookies as much as I do has to have good taste! Her blog is full of delicious dishes, like her Apricot Almond TartChocolate Guinness Ice Cream.. oh and did I mention she loves decorating cakes just like me?! I think Steph made a perfect match up!

After browsing her site and between a few friendly emails I knew I would be receiving her Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam, but she wanted to keep her second jar a secret till it made its way to Texas. With high expectations, I waited anxiously for her package to arrive in the mail.

Watermelon Jam?! Genius!

And holy cow did they taste good!

The Watermelon Jam tasted almost like Jolly Ranchers and the Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam is going to be the perfect addition for some cookies I'll be making soon :)

I can't wait to see what happens next year!

An award!? For me!? 

I honestly got goosebumps when I first saw a message from Nancy over at Spicie Foodie who graciously passed along The Sunshine Award, The Beautiful Blogger Award and The Innovative Chef Award. For those of you not familiar with Nancy's delicious dishes you need to make your way over there immediately! Beautiful pictures, creative, delicious entrees, and some delectable desserts can be found all through the Spice Foodie.

Then after spending a find Sunday traveling for business, I settled into my hotel room, turned on my trusty Mac and found a new message from Marisa from Cook's Book who was sharing another award with me.. A Blog with Substance

Marisa had such nice things to say when sharing this award with me and the feelings are absolutely mutual! A fabulous writer, Marisa is a lover of anything food and there is always something new and scrumptious looking popping up on her site. You must absolutely check it out!

The rules of the awards are to pass them along to fellow bloggers we also feel deserve them, but I enjoy soo many blogs that I don't even know where to begin! I'm going to have to think about check back.

You all have no idea how much your comments and following means to me... These kind of awards are a kind reminder that you're liking what I'm dishing up and that makes me so extremely happy!

Happy Baking!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oatmeal Cinnamon-Raisin Scones

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a status update, via my news feed on facebook, of a friend proclaiming that anyone in the NYC area must go to Levain Bakery, claiming she just had the best cookie she had ever eaten and offered a link.

The best cookie she's ever eaten!? Of course I had to check this out..

Levain Bakery in NYC is supposed to have some of the best cookies known to man.. unfortunately I've never personally tried one, but if they're anything like the scones I made this morning then I don't doubt it!

As I browsed their website I came across a recipe for their Oatmeal Raisin Scones. I've had the page bookmarked for a while now and as I scoured my recipes for a good weekend morning scone this one just screamed "Pick me! Pick me!"

Now, I am no stranger to scones.. in fact I have a slight obsession with them..just take a look at my Sweet Potato Scones, Blackberry Scones, Maple and Bacon Scones, Carrot Cake Scones, Asiago & Rosemary Scones and whenever I'm at a bakery it's my go-to breakfast pastry. All that being said, I think these are hands down the best scones I have ever made/had.

I made a few tweaks here and there but the texture and flavor are perfect. I also halved the recipe and still got 6-8 good sized scones. For the original recipe check it out here.

I could seriously eat the whole batch...

Oatmeal Cinnamon-Raisin Scones
adapted from Levain Bakery
Oven: 350 Bake time: 20 minutes

1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup plus 2 TBS white sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS flax meal*optional
6 oz butter, cold and diced small (about 1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup cinnamon chips*optional
1/2 cup buttermilk *plus about 2 TBS for brushing

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
Combine all ingredients except for buttermilk until sandy consistency is reached. Do not over mix!
Pour in buttermilk and continue to mix until just combined. If dough doesn't seem to be sticking together add more buttermilk, a little at a time.
Turn out dough on lightly floured surface (if dough is sticky sprinkle flour on top of dough as well). Form mixture into flat disc about a 3/4-1 inch thick.
Cut scone into triangles like you would a pie or pizza or use a round cookie cutter.
Place scones on baking sheet and brush each lightly using 2 TBS buttermilk.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and bottom.

Have a great weekend!
Happy Baking!

I'd also like to let you all know that I'll be participating in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog and would greatly appreciate your support. A little background on what it is all about: Foodbuzz is sponsoring a contest for the next Food Blog Star and a shot at $10,000- a series of culinary blogging challenges have been created and as a contestant you must create a post following the rules of each challenge. Come judgement day a series of judges will critique each post to see if you have what it takes to be the next star.. in addition to the judges, support from fellow bloggers and admirers is considered as well, which means I'd love your help when the time comes :) So be on the lookout for the first challenge next week!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

British Basil Biscuits

Say that three times you just tried huh?

I first came upon these delicate little cookies while perusing the blog The Omnivorous Bear. The author of the blog, Wendy, is a lovely Brit who patiently deals with silly American girls who sometimes reads through posts too quickly and misinterpret British foodie terminology.

 It's kind of a funny story actually..

I saw these "biscuits" and thought yum.. basil biscuits? I wonder what she served them with? So I asked her..

Her response was kind, although she was probably wondering what the heck I was talking about..

She simply ate them... along side a cup of coffee perhaps...

What else would you do while eating COOKIES?!

Being one of my first (of many) visits to her site I didn't realize she was British. Biscuits=Cookies.

Basil cookies intrigued me even more than basil biscuits did!

I have to be honest, I had kind of forgotten about these cookies until I got a message the other day from Wendy on Twitter (you should totally follow me by the way) but I sure am glad she reminded me!

These cookies are definitely different, but different in a good way. They offer a unique flavor and a light buttery texture that will keep you coming back for more... and they're ridiculously easy to make too!

Word of warning, this is a weighed recipe so if you don't have a kitchen scale I highly recommend you go and spend the $20 at your nearest Bed Beth and Beyond.

Wendy's Sweet Basil Biscuits
Oven: 350 Bake time: 15-20 min
Makes about 15-20 biscuits

113g butter or 1 stick
60g sugar
60g almond meal (finely ground almonds)
110g AP flour
Handful of basil, finely chopped
Slivered almonds for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.
Add almond meal and then flour.
Mix until completely combined.
Finely chop your basil and sprinkle on counter or cutting board.
Turn out your dough and roll in chopped basil.
Form dough into log and cut into 1/2 inch cookies.
(I put my log in the fridge for a little to firm up)
Place sliced cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges of cookies are slightly browned.
Transfer to cooling rack.

Please go visit Wendy at The Omnivorous Bear, she infuses Vodka with basil and tomato!  If that doesn't spark your interest I don't know what would!

..and Wendy, I am still determined to get you a real American biscuit one day.

Happy Baking! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Home is Where the Heart (and Cupcakes) are..

I hadn't been home since Christmas....Christmas people! I let 8 months pass before getting home.. that's like an all time record for me!

So when I finally had a good excuse to take the time off work and get out of hot and steamy Texas I jumped at the chance.. and let me tell you, it felt fantastic.

I spent Labor Day weekend on the east coast for a few important reasons:
1. My Mom's birthday was a couple weeks ago
2. My Dad was home from Afghanistan for one of his breaks
3. My Aunt was taking her final vows as a nun
4. My youngest brother is leaving for a year abroad in Japan
5. My other brother is leaving for a year of working in Australia

So with everyone going every which way in the world, this was going to be one of the last opportunities for all of us to get together.
My "little" brothers aren't so little...

The long weekend was spent eating good food with an amazing family.

I knew I couldn't show up empty handed for this important reunion so in true Traveling Sweets fashion, I traveled the Texas to Virginia route through the airport terminals, cupcakes in tow, as a belated birthday present for my mom.

My mom is a Master Gardener so I wanted to make her something that combined her love of gardening with her love of sweets..I also wanted an opportunity to practice my flower making skills so when I found these adorable little pots at Michaels I knew what had to be done. The recipe for these light and delicious chocolate cupcakes will be at the end of the post...

Thursday night we feasted on a big ole pot of blue crabs. Any good east coast family knows a good deal on a bushel of crabs and when my mom saw $35 bushels at the local grocery store she couldn't pass it up. And so a feast was had.. I think my hands smelled like crabs for the next 2 days.

On Saturday morning we made our way up to Philly for my aunts final vows as a nun. I come from a family of foodies so when my dad suggested we leave a little earlier than planned in order to stop by one of Philly's famous cheesesteak joints all of us happily agreed.

Full of steak and cheese, we completed our journey to the Medical Mission Sisters compound in time for a birthday dinner for my Oma (grandmother) complete with Black Forest Cake- be prepared for a Black Forest Cupcake sometime in the near future!
My cousin Ciara couldn't get enough.. she had about 3 pieces..

My aunt's vows took place Sunday morning and after the ceremony we celebrated with an absolutely amazing Filipino feast and were entertained by a Filipino dance troupe.

Coming home for weekends like this make me wish we lived just a little closer to home...but at the same time, being so far from my family and friends makes me cherish my time I do have with them even more. And it's good to know that we won't be this far away forever.

As favorite Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Frosting.

Chocolate Layer Cake
Oven:350 Bake:20-25 minutes (cupackes) 40-50 minutes (cake)
Fills 3 8inch round pans or atleast 30 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, softened
16oz (1 package) of light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 8oz container of sour cream
1 cup hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Melt chocolate in microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.
Beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Add vanilla and then add eggs 1 at a time beating until just incorporated. Add melted chocolate beating until blended.
Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Beat after every addition until blended. Gradually add 1 cup of hot water in a steady stream at low until blended.
*just FYI the batter is going to look extremely thin and you might think you've messed up, but I promise you it's going to be perfect :)

Pour batter into paper lined cupcake pans.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (cupcakes) or 40-50 minutes (cakes).
Place baked cakes on cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan to completely cool or take cupackes immediately out of pan to cool on rack.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in microwave. Stir in cocoa powder until combined. Slowly add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add more milk if necessary.

I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend.. 
anyone eat anything spectacular??

Happy Baking!