Saturday, January 22, 2011

I feel like I'm on Cupcake Wars...and Mean Girls.

I had some leftover crushed pineapple from the carrot cake I made the other day so I decided that I would make some carrot cake cupcakes for my food science class to enjoy. Random treats are brought in frequently in that class, so there's no need to wait for a special occasion :D.
I got to work on my cupcake batter thinking there would be enough to make enough cupcakes for my whole class.
Sadly, I only had enough to make 14! You can't come to class with only 14 cupcakes for a class of over 20, so I had to think of plan B. I didn't want to make more carrot cupcakes because it took me so long to make the first batch (there's a lot more ingredient prep compared to a normal cupcake) but I knew I had to make more of something. So I decided on making the classic chocolate cupcake. This unexpected 2nd batch of cupcakes made the whole process a lot longer than I was expecting. It also didn't help that my icing bag exploded, and that I had to make more icing half way through. I started making the cupcakes at around 8:30 at night and didn't finish until 11:20! I still had a million things to clean but I just saved it for the next day and got ready for bed. I made so many cupcakes that I felt like I was on Cupcake Wars!
I frosted both cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. The carrot cupcakes got a garnish of crystallized ginger while the chocolate cupcakes got colorful sprinkles. 
Even though it took forever, they came out looking gorgeous! I'm glad I made some chocolate ones anyway because that's a flavor that teenagers are more familiar with.
Doesn't this remind you of the "1,000 Cupcake" display they always make the contestants do on Cupcake Wars? I really actually hate that show; the host is obnoxious and they always have a contestant on that has to act like a complete idiot. And the french judge? He'll say he absolutely abhors something and then you'll see his plate and he has demolished the whole cupcake... anyone agree with me here?
Anyways, everyone loved the cupcakes and despite being slightly foreign the carrot cupcakes were quite a hit :D

In other news, something more obnoxious than the host on Cupcake Wars is happening in my school at the moment. A group of (presumably) girls are sending out lists to everyone. There are many lists they have sent out, such as the "Sluts" list and the "Girls that keep their legs crossed/Prudes" list. I haven't seen all of them but the "Slut" lists are separated by grade so there is the Freshmen Slut list, Sophomore, etc. The lists are being spread by texts and texts only but somehow almost everyone in my school has heard about or seen the lists (and my school is big, with 2,500 students enrolled). The lists not only list girl's names, but also says a number of mean things about many of the girls on the list. It's just like Mean Girls! Except for in Mean Girls, the burn book was kept hidden and secret while these "burn" lists have been purposely spread by the girls that started them. No one knows who they are, or why they wanted to do it, but it's really ridiculous.
In fact, I am on one of the lists. The "Prude" list. It has around 30 girls on it (there are 630 people in my grade). The things is, though, that no one cares (for the most part) if they are on the "prude" list or the "whore" list. Most of us are taking it as a joke because SO many people are on a list! In fact, many people who aren't on a list want to make a "people not on the list" list! So the funny thing is that these girls who started the lists were trying to be mean and hurtful but in fact, no one cares! It has caused a lot of rumors and gossip, though. Everyone can't stop talking about it, but I'm sure it will die down..unless another list comes out. Anyway, just random drama that I wanted to share.

In other news... I made homemade creamy and chunky peanut butter!
I've never made homemade peanut butter because I always buy Skippy Natural. I like Skippy, but I don't like the fact that it has added palm oil. 
I got a big bag of raw peanuts from the bulk bins for $2.29 a pound. I ended up getting $3.11 worth which was almost 4 cups. I wanted to keep track of the prices so I could see if it was cheaper or not to make my own PB. In the end I made probably about 2 cups. A jar of Skippy has around 1 3/4 cup of peanut butter in it and costs around $2 dollars a jar. So in fact, buying Skippy is cheaper. But I'm sure I could probably find cheaper peanuts in bulk packaging or buy them on sale.

First, I dry-roasted the peanuts in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. I reserved 1/2 cup of those peanuts for when I made the chunky pb. By the way, raw peanuts freshly roasted taste SO much better than pre roasted peanuts!
I probably could have roasted them more, but I didn't want to burn them and ruin four cups of peanuts!
Plus, they continue to cook once you take them out of the oven. (You'll hear them sizzling!)
I then whirled em in the processor for a couple minutes-
 Once it got to this stage, I added a 1/4 tsp of salt (I ended up adding a dash more later, though).
I put some in a jar and then added the reserved peanuts to the remaining peanut butter that was still in the processor and pulsed it, just to chop the whole peanuts up a bit.
Here's what I ended up with!
I had just a little that didn't fit in the jars. *sigh* I hate when that happens.. On the left was the smooth (in a million-year-old artichoke heart jar) and on the right was the chunky. I immediately had to try some out on a saltine (the classic) and it was delicious! The Skippy kind is way too overpowering compared to this one.. it has an almost too roasted and salty flavor! You can actually enjoy the peanutty taste in the home made version. I think next time I might try adding just a little sugar in with the that a sin? I don't want it to taste sweet or anything, I just want a subtle balance.

The next morning I tried the peanut butter out on one of my favorite breakfasts. Toast with nut butter and banana!
Before banana-
I always doing crunchy whenever I do the nut butter/banana combo.. I just love the contrast!
Topped with banana-
mmm, the peanut butter taste even better on toasted warm bread!

Speaking of peanut butter, I made these amazing "Monster" Cookies a couple days ago. They're basically peanut butter oatmeal cookies studded with pretzel M&M's.

These cookies were a HUGE hit and just HUGE in general! Each cookie used 1/4 cup of dough batter!
Here's the recipe I used (slightly adapted)-
Monster Cookies
Yield: 13 large cookies

1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pretzel M&M’s
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the eggs, both sugars, vanilla extract, corn syrup, baking soda and salt. Then stir in the melted butter and peanut butter, followed by the oats and flour. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips and M&M’s. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
3. Drop the dough by ¼ cupfuls onto baking sheets (if weighing, each ball of dough was approximately 2.7 oz or 77g). Use your fingers to flatten the dough slightly. Baking for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are a light golden brown. Cool on a rack and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

These cookies are intensely peanut buttery and super chewy because of all the oats. They have almost 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in each cookie!! I think next time I make these I will increase the amount of flour and decrease the amount of oats. So perhaps 1/2 cup flour and 2 cups of oats. Other than that, these guys were perfect! Also, I used Brummel & Brown butter which worked out great.
Make these!!

Since I've had some questions on how I make my eggs (for sandwiches), I wanted to share with you guys how I do it. I've made two egg sandwiches recently that were really delicious, and came together in 5 seconds because of the egg cooking method I used. If you don't have an microwave egg poacher, there's no need to go out and buy one. You can use ANY container you have on hand but try to find one that will be roughly the same size as whatever bread you are using. I love using this method because you don't need to use any extra oil or dirty a lot of pans!

First, crack your egg into your container of choice. Then, depending on how you would like your egg you can do one of the follow: poke the yoke with a fork, swish the yolk a little so it is partially scrambled (my favorite way), or completely scramble the egg. At this point you can add anything you want to the egg such as salt, pepper, hot sauce, milk, seasonings, etc. Then top your container loosely with something like a plate, Tupperware top, or paper towel. Microwave for around 30-50 seconds. It will all depend on the size of your container but for me, I get the perfectly cooked egg at 40 seconds. You will hear popping/exploding sounds but don't be alarmed. If you stop the microwave and check your egg, the steam will escape and the egg might take longer. After it looks done, let it cool for a minute and then loosen it with a spatula from the container.
The whole process takes 2 minutes, and most of that time you can spend preparing other parts of your sandwich!
I had an egg sandwich with a wedge of french onion laughing cow cheese and spinach that was just divine..
Don't you love the butt ends of bread loaves? So much crunchy goodness!
The other egg sandwich I had was a real winner. It was on toasted whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread with a wedge of creamy swiss laughing cow cheese.
I love love loved this combo! I like to only partially mix the egg yolk before microwaving because then I still get to taste the egg yolky flavor independently but it's more dispersed throughout the whole surface area instead of all in the middle, ya know?

Anyways, I hope y'all try out this method; it's saved me a lot of time :D
What's you're favorite flavor combos with eggs? I need ideas!

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