Running the fine line between too hard and too easy

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let there be light

Since we have moved into our home (almost a year!) I have been wanting to change the light fixtures in the home. Don't get me wrong; the light fixtures are fine. They aren't hideously dated or anything. But they are a matted silver color, and not really our style. I have been looking for a chandelier that was reasonably priced. And lighting is surprisingly expensive!

I stumbled upon this fixture on (of all places!) and it was such a great deal, I couldn't pass it by. I ordered it today and had a free shipping code. So with 6 linen shades and the fixture the grand total was $112! I cannot wait to see it installed in our newly painted dining room.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sneak peek: we've been busy!

I wanted to quickly post two sneak peeks at what we've been up to the past two weeks. It's been quite the adventure in Pleasantville!

These two crazy kids have been busy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Follow-up: Cake Flour

Earlier this year, I attempted to bake a cake from scratch (see post here). As you may remember, Mr. W and I encountered quite the conundrum. There was no cake flour to be found at Publix. We ended up substituting AP flour for the cake flour and the cake came out fine. But we still search every grocery store we walk into for the mysterious Cake Flour.

Well, after months of grocery store trips and shelf audits in the baking and flour aisle, we finally came across Cake Flour! Who would have thought that this would be such a hard item to come by? And of course since it was there, I had to pick up a box to keep in the pantry for the next time I get the urge to bake a cake.

Mr. W's birthday cupcake

My husband has a love for peanut butter and chocolate. While ordinarily, he is not a "sweet tooth" person, he does find enjoyment in certain desserts and treats. For his birthday, I decided to make a peanut butter cupcake.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more for decorating
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

--Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

--Make the cupcakes: Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed
to low. Mix in peanut butter. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Add flour
mixture; mix until combined. Mix in sour cream.

--Spoon scant 3 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup. Bake until pale golden and a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 13 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.

--Make the frosting: Put cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and butter into the clean bowl of a mixer fitted with the clean paddle attachment; mix on medium- high speed until pale and fluffy. Stir in peanut butter with a rubber spatula.

--Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons frosting onto each cupcake. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 10 minutes. Using tines of a fork dipped in confectioners' sugar, score each top in a crosshatch pattern. Cupcakes can be refrigerated in single layers in airtight containers up to 2 days.

I made the cupcakes accordingly and left out the frosting. Mr. W and I are not huge fans of frosting so if I generally will leave the cupcake naked when baking for us. The cupcakes were dense and moist and yummy! The natural peanut butter is very important and the taste comes through in the cupcake. Without the frosting, the cupcakes will last up to a week stored in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter cupcakes fresh out of the oven

Turkey Meatloaf with a side of fun

Meatloaf is an American staple. The Ws like turkey meatloaf and it often makes the meal planning calendar. However, in an effort to try a new twist, I found this recipe from Martha Stewart Kids. I thought it would be 1) a really fun way to try the same old staple and 2) an easier way to store leftovers. Here is the recipe:

Serves 6

3/4 cup ketchup
2 pounds ground turkey
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
2 slices sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 chopped dill pickle, (1 medium pickle)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves , minced
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup ketchup with the remaining ingredients until well combined. Divide mixture among 6 cups of a 12-cup (4 ounce) muffin tin, spacing them evenly and gently compressing and mounding the tops. Brush tops with remaining 1/4 cup ketchup.
Transfer tin to oven; bake until inside temperature registers 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 45 minutes.

Remove from oven; let rest 5 minutes before removing from tin. Serve hot.

I ended up using extra ketchup because I really like to coat the top of the meatloaf. The meatloaf was awesome though! And one meatloaf cupcake was plenty. We served it with some mashed potatoes and it was heavenly.

Here are the cupcakes about to go into the oven

Served with a side of steaming hot mashed potatoes