Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mini Chocolate-Mint Cupcakes

I love baking, but it requires a lot of time and patience so I don't do it very often. I have had the non-perishable ingredients to make these delicious cupcakes for about a month and I was excited to finally start baking! I got to use some of my new baking accessories and my favorite bake-from-scratch-recipe-book, Cupcakes, all of which I received as gifts at my bridal showers and let me tell ya, it was a blast! I also got to use the new Stamper I received as a gift at my last shower from the hostesses with the mostesses, Kendall, Jessica, Jan, & Sherry.
Ingredients for Cupcakes
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a 24-cup miniature muffin pan with miniature paper or foil liners. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan; stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugar into the melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, whisking until combined after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla and peppermint extracts and then the salt. Gently fold in the flour; do not overmix.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until the tops are crackly and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 45 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.
Ingredients for Buttercream Frosting
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
Ingredients for Chocolate-Mint Flavoring
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
Directions for Buttercream Frosting
In a large, heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 mintues. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more.
Directions for Adding the Chocolate-Mint Flavoring to the Frosting
In a heatproof bowl, combine the butter and chocolate. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture; stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; let the mixutre cool to room temperature. Add the chocolate mint flavoring to the buttercream frosting mixture and beat until combined.
HAPPY FROSTING! The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days; bring to room termperature before serving.
Melting chocolate for cupcake batter & frosting
Voila! It melts before your very eyes so don't stop stirring!
Fresh right out of the oven!
My attempt to frost the cupcakes was ummm...err interesting. I broke...no, I exploded my pastry bag! Frosting went everywhere, and unfortunately I was so caught up in the mess I made that I forgot to take a picture. No worries, I did laugh pretty hard at myself, and Sam got a good laugh out of it too. *Not sure why the duct tape is on the counter, but I digress.
And here is my rectangular-baked-goods-carrier-thingamajig! This thing is awesome! It can carry mini cupcakes, big cupcakes, sheet cakes, etc, and your baked goods will arrive anywhere intact! I took some to my co-workers, some friends, my future in-law's, and of course saved plenty for Sam! On another very important note, I would also like to say Happy Birthday to Elizabeth Anne, my beautiful dear friend whom I've known since 7th grade, and Alexis, my beautiful 'Delta Mom'!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bachelorette Bash

My wonderful future sister-in-laws got together with one of our good friends, Carol, and planned a Bachelorette Bash for me in Fort Wayne! We had such a fun night and I think the pictures speak for themselves! My wonderful fiance sent me to get a manicure and pedicure Saturday morning, and I spent the afternoon looking for jewelry and something cute and fun to wear! I was so excited when it was finally time to get ready for my big night out on the town! After getting ready, it was time to head over to Carol's house for cocktails. I must say she made some very impressive cocktails! I love fruity martini's and our cockail choices were as follows: a Saketini ("Sackett-tini"), a Strawberry Blonde Martini, and a Wedding Cake Martini. I had the Saketini and the Wedding Cake Martini. I wanted to try all three, but I wasn't too sure about having 3 martinis before dinner. Before leaving Carol's house, Allison passed out black boas to everyone. My boa was white and she completed my outfit with a tiara. Woo Hoo we were ready to go!

Me & My Saketini

The Sacket-trio: Keri, Me, & Allison

Amy, Me, & Sara

Once we had a martini or two and everyone told their engagement stories we were off to dinner. We ate at a delicious, swanky little restaurant in downtown Fort Wayne called Club Soda. Club Soda was also where Sam and I had our first date. It was delicious and I recommend the cream sickle martini with any dinner item! It tastes like Flintstone's orange push pops for adults. We definitely stood out in our bachelorette party accessories! Dinner was amazing! We snapped some pictures and then we were ready to go out!

Our Group at Club Soda: (left to right) Sara, Carol, Keri, Me, Allison, Brooke, Amy, Julie, & Lubna

Me & My Cream Sickle Martini

The girls took me to a night club called Flashbacks, and we of course got in free because we were a bunch of girls at a bachelorette party! It was like going to a disco. They played all 70's and 80's music and I think we counted 5 bachelorette parties there including mine. Time flies when you are dancing the night away with your girlfriends! Before we knew it, it was time to leave. It was definitely an unforgetable night!

Lemon Drops at Flashbacks: (left to right) Carol, Allison, Me, & Brooke

Pictured left to right: Sara, Lubna, Brooke, Allison, Carol, Me, Amy, & Keri

Back row: Brooke, Sara, & Carol - Front row: Amy, Keri, Me, Allison, & Lubna

Back Where I Come From

Ahhh, back in Arkansas. It's hotter than a pig's belly and humid as the day is long! I couldn't be happier! Sam and I packed up the Highlander on Friday afternoon and headed south for a fun, exciting, and very busy week. This is a very long post, but I have much to share about my trip home so I couldn't cut it down any more. First stop: Tiffany and Scott's wedding in Northwest Arkansas! The wedding, reception, and especially the bride were all so beautiful! Tiffany is my first cousin and we are only 9 months apart so you can imagine how close we are. Tiff and Scott met a few years ago and I first met him at Christmas in 2007. We loved him from the beginning and he fit perfectly into our family. Here are a few pictures from the wedding and reception.
The Happy Couple After Saying "I Do"
Dad, Me, Mom
Sam, Me, Brandlyn, Dad, Mom, Ryan, Brit, & Spencer
Pawpa, Me, Sam, & Meme
Brandlyn, Brit, Ryan, & Me
Me with the Bride
Me & my brother Ryan
Ryan, Brittany, Braye (my cousin, Tiff's brother), & Me
Me, Aunt Terri, & Brittany...silly girls!
Mom and Uncle Scott. Mom was on the dance floor all night, literally!
Next Stop: My Bridal Shower in Maumelle, AR hosted by my 'MOH' Kendall and her mom, Jan, and one of my beautiful bridesmaids, Jessica, and her mom, Sherry. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and everything was perfect! The Buckler's beautiful home, the food, and great gifts were amazing, but my favorite part was talking, laughing, and catching up with my friends and family in Arkansas. I was so happy to see all of the familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a long time. The hostesses went all out to make the shower so special for me and I am truly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.
Jan Bollen, Kendall Jones, Me, Jessica Buckler, Sherry Buckler
Me and my long time friend Allison
Beautiful table with delicious sweet treats and drinks
Brownie Pops...YUM!
Aspen, Me, & Elli
Me and My Deltas: Kendall & Meredith
Me and Amy Heffington...I just love this girl!
Next Stop: Bathtime with the Girls. Aspen and Elli love when Aunt Jeni comes home to visit because they get to take hour long baths and they are always allowed to splash me. I put my cotton shorts and t-shirt on, but all they see is a fully clothed adult. You'd be surprised how long they stay entertained by this little game! The infinite giggles and smiles make getting soaked more than worth it!
Bath time with Aspen and Elli!
The girls love their daddy! If one gets to take a picture with him, then the other has to also!
The Besides the things I highlighted in this blog, we had many wedding appointments, layed out by the pool and swam in the afternoons, ate some great meals (Mom is a great cook) and spent time with my family. It was a wonderful trip!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Cookin'

One of our favorite things to do is cook together, but we hardly ever have time to. Usually, if he cooks then I do my homework, and if I cook then he is busy working late or doing yard work. But we found time in our busy schedules to do some cookin' together and we had a great time! We received the New Steak Book of recipes as a shower gift earlier this year and we love it! Sam cooked the most savory steak I have ever had and he did it without using a grill. I recommend this book to anyone!
The New Steak book and Ravenswood Cabernet Savignon made a great team!
Sam was in charge of the steaks and sauce. I bought this cool new red Paula Dean cast iron skillet when we realized we didn't register for one!

I was in charge of the grilled asparagus and rosemary-garlic mashed potatoes. Bon Appetit!