Monday, December 29, 2008

Chocolate chip muffins

Sunday morning I woke up earlier than normal for a weekend and I decided to try to make muffins. I was craving chocolate chip muffins, so I dug around in the cabinets and pulled out all of the ingredients I had on hand. I wasn't in the mood to get out so early. Then this recipe from Mr. Breakfast popped out and me and it was settled! Chocolate chip muffins were a go! They turned out way better than I expected and taste better today than they did yesterday. I think being in a container over-night moistened them up a bit. Anyway, I'll post the recipe here and then below it add my comments/suggestions.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

(12 servings)

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup light-brown sugar
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2/3 cup milk
* 1/2 cup butter -- melted and cooled
* 2 eggs - beaten
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 package (12 oz) chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans -- chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F. and grease up twelve muffin cups.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla until blended. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Spoon batter into muffin cups; bake 15-20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove muffin tin to wire rack; cool 5 minutes and remove from tins to finish cooling.

Serve warm.

I found that the batter wasn't sweet enough for me, so I added about another half cup of sugar. Also, it was thicker than I wanted, so I added half a stick more of melted butter and about a half cup more milk. I baked them for about 17 minutes. They turned a nice brown color. I also used walnuts because that's what I had, and I think that was rather fortunate. I love the chocolate & walnut combination.

This settles it, no more packaged muffin mix for me! This was simple and so much tastier than the muffins from pre-packaged mix. I will be trying blueberry soon because those are Corey's favorite. Unfortunately, Corey isn't a huge fan of chocolate in breakfast items, so I think I enjoyed them much more than he did! I brought the rest to work today, so hopefully the bosses will polish those off this week. They liked the ones they had this morning!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas spirit

I left my craft bag at my grandmother's house after my trip there last weekend. I have a habit of leaving at least one important item at the places I visit. Maybe it's insurance that I have to go back? Since I haven't been able to craft, I wrapped all of the Christmas presents and decorated the tree. It's pretty late in the season for it, but I have been busy with other things... traveling mainly.

We're having a Christmas party this weekend, so I've been decorating and cleaning a little bit every day to prepare. I'm ready to have a night where we just chill and don't do anything. Do those kinds of nights actually exist? Friday night we're going to a wine tasting and then shopping to prepare for the baking extravaganza Saturday morning. I'm getting all Christmasy and excited! Here's some holiday cheer straight from my living room!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Icing is my foe

Apparently I can't ice cupcakes to save my life. Also, I suck at making butter cream frosting. I kind of hate butter cream frosting in the first place, so I likely won't try again. Cream cheese frosting is where it's at. The cupcakes tasted good, though. I really enjoy the flavor of almond extract in cakes. I made this little cupcake for Lonnie, who is an Alabama fan.

Carson, my boyfriend's son who is 9, helped me with the process. He plays Cooking Mama on the Nintendo DS, so he loves to make things in real life that he's learned to do on the game. First we started with meatballs, but throwing them back in forth in the game is easier than doing it in real life. We ended up with a few dropped meat balls.

Carson separated the egg yolks for me. I was really nervous about letting him do it because I didn't get good at it until college. But I pulled out a practice bowl for him and he did each egg perfectly. No kidding, this 9 year old separated egg yolk for the very first time and didn't get any shell or yolk into the cake batter! I am super impressed with him.

At first I thought he was helping so he could lick the bowls and beaters (this is a trick I always pulled when I was his age), but he just wanted to bake. He measured the ingredients for me and used the hand mixer, too. I was really just supervising. He also wanted to read the recipe to me. It was a great learning experience for him because he learned about measurements and conversions. How many nine year old boys know the difference between the abbreviations of tablespoon and teaspoon?

Now that I'm done bragging on the boy... We had craft night last night and I found my groove on the wine trivet I'm cross stitching. Lonnie and I had headaches all night, but I still had a really fun time with the ladies. Lonnie's snowman looks great so far. The colors in the pattern are very nice and will look great on her mom's wall. Dayna is making a robot bag and it is the cutest thing I've ever seen. If I wasn't on handbag restriction (Corey's orders), I would buy it when she's finished. She cuts out felt into shapes and stitches them onto the bag to form a robot. She attaches gears and buttons for eyes, etc. Really cute idea. She made an owl bag previously and it turned out really cute, too.

I brought my cross stitch to work today so I can work on it at lunch. It's a nice little break from typing all day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snowman Christmas Ornament

In order to learn how to cross stitch, I bought an entire kit at Hobby Lobby. Well, two actually. This is the only one I've finished so far. Lonnie's mom loves snow men, so I made her this cute little ornament. I really love how it turned out! Believe it or not, the most difficult thing for me was affixing the piece to the frame. Hot glue works wonders! I am especially proud of the little black french knots for eyes. I'm getting better and better at them. I find them easier to accomplish on cross stitch pieces compared to embroidery. I am now working on the blanket stitch, which is totally evading me. I just need to sit down and get it done.

This weekend is the Alabama vs. Florida game and we're having a gathering at the house. I'm going to bake cupcakes with crimson frosting for Lonnie. I hope this turns out better than the blue frosting I was trying to make for the Notre Dame cupcakes! I've read up a little bit on how to color white frosting, so hopefully that will prove to be useful. I'm going to bake the funfetti cupcakes again because they were like crack to Lonnie. She loved them more than chocolate. Which is a big deal! I'm hoping some other friends come over to eat them so I won't be tempted to eat six in a row.

I'll also be making a butter cream frosting from scratch for the first time. I usually make cream cheese frosting, but I want to work with my new piping bags some more. I hear butter cream is easier to make fluffy and pretty. I'll be posting pictures of my confectionery delights. It will also be practice for my Christmas cupcakes I'm making for our party in December. I have some Christmas tree sprinkles (jimmies) that I can't wait to use. They'll look lovely on some red and white icing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Completed Apron

I finished two projects, but I just haven't been here to talk about them. The holidays are hectic times, as I'm sure you know. Since I finished these last two projects, I've started one and hit a wall. I don't know what it is, but by the time I get to crafting, I'm exhausted and lethargic. Even at craft night I just look at the projects in my craft bag and wish that they were already finished. This isn't good when Christmas is coming up and I still have three presents to finish.

I'll quit my whining now and post pictures of the apron I made for my Best Pal. I put little gnomes on them because she loves them. I really like how the vines on the bottom turned out. The satin stitch took a while, but it looks nice if you ask me.

Yeah, I'm going to iron it before I give it as a gift! I have one more apron to work on, but I think I'm going to wait and make it for myself. I really love aprons and I don't have one of my own currently.

As far as Christmas presents go, I'm nearly finished with gift shopping. I've had a lot of fun with it so far. I love Black Friday and I made my way out to a nice mall with my cousin early that morning. I did get some good deals on stuff I needed and a purse that I didn't need. I have an unhealthy obsession with designer bags.

I'm getting back to work now. Happy crafting!