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Friday, January 17, 2014

Cooking Show #5--Cupcakes!! With Salted Caramel, or Nutella Filling...& Mascarpone Frosting

We filmed cooking show #5 this week.  My featured guest, Emily, is a friend of my daughter's.  Emily is currently enjoying a gap year before enrolling in Harvard this fall.  She's doing all sorts of fun things--taking classes, working on service projects--but I'll bet it'll be hard for her to top the three months she spent in the south of France this fall.
Here's Emily behind the counter of a bakery that she worked at while she was in France.

Before she left on her adventure, I asked her if she would be a guest on my cooking show when she came back.  She enthusiastically said, "YES!"  I've been eagerly awaiting her return, wondering what types of exotic treats we'd prepare when she came back.

The best-selling treats at the bakery?  Cupcakes!  And the best-selling flavor?

Nutella!

Not quite the exotic recipe I was expecting, but I've never filled cupcakes with anything, so it was a bit of a challenge.

Emily also suggested making salted caramel cupcakes.  GET. OUT.  My favorite.  How did she know?

We used my vanilla cupcake recipe.  Emily told me that the recipe at the bakery was a very closely-guarded secret.  She was allowed to make the cupcakes, but the ingredients were already measured and she was never told the exact amounts.

We used Emily's frosting recipes, however.  Can I just state for the record that I, a staunchly loyal fan of buttercream frosting, have evolved into an even bigger fan of mascarpone frosting?

You'll need to put a bit more time and effort into these cupcakes than you would for basic frosted cupcakes. I think you'll agree, however, that the extra time that it takes--to make the salted caramel and to fill the cupcakes--is time well-spent!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Berries With Vanilla Glaze--A Pick-Me-Up for Winter Doldrums

Winter, be gone!

If only it were that easy.

Even though it has been pouring rain, the sixty-degree temps of the last couple of days brought a bit of spring fever with them.


Clyde has spring fever, too!

  I settled for a bowl of berries instead, doctored up with a vanilla glaze.  I know, I know...berries are not in season.  Which is exactly why I want them.  Because if they were in season, I wouldn't need them to cure my spring fever, because it would no longer be winter and I wouldn't have spring fever.  Are you following my logic?

This recipe is so simple, and so good!  At first bite, my girls declared, "This is a keeper!" "Make this again!" And I will, anytime I want to chase the winter doldrums away.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Blog Review

I just checked my dashboard.  I can't believe that there were 247,000 page views last year!  A more than five-fold increase over 2012.  I am truly humbled and grateful!


Most Page Views

For the second year in a row, Crock Pot Boneless Country Style Ribs was the most popular post.  This recipe received 155,000 page views!

Coming in a very distant second, with almost 12,000 page views, Crock Pot Boneless Beef Short Ribs.

And finally, a dessert recipe!  The third most-popular post, with almost 7,000 page views,  Sea Salt Caramel Rice Krispy Treats.  This is definitely one of my favorite recipes from 2013.

The first time I made them, I scorched them.  They were still fabulous!


Audience

For the third year in a row, the country with the most page views was the U.S., of course.  This year, however, the country with the second-greatest number of page views was

Canada!


My Personal Favorite Post


It's only appropriate that my favorite post from 2013 is

Selfie.  How I wish I had started blogging when my kids were younger.

Thank you for visiting!
Happy 2014!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cheesy Blueberry French Toast Bake

Happy New Year!!

I've been cooking up a storm throughout the holiday season.  Lots of tried-and-true favorites (which I've already blogged about), and lots of new recipes and experiments.  

This is what I made last night for our New Year's Eve dinner.  Heart-shaped lobster ravioli.

This recipe was filed under Good, But Not Good Enough To Blog About.  Not good enough partly because a. I was happy with the sauce, however the pasta dough could use some work but mostly because b. it took me two frustrating hours to make.

And so my streak of so-so recipes continued.

Until this morning, that is. 

I think my streak of cooking & baking failures has finally ended!

It took this package of not-quite-fresh bread to get me rolling.  Ba-dum-bum, pun intended.  Rolls, get it?
Okay, my comedic timing still needs work.  Something else to shoot for in 2014.

Anyway, back to our story....

Stale bread or rolls are perfect for making French toast.  I've never, ever had success making any type of French toast casserole, however.  Oh, I've certainly tasted casseroles that I liked.  One time I was at a friend's house and she had made a spectacular cinnamon French toast casserole.  

She sent me the link to the online recipe and I only looked at it long enough to see that it called for three sticks of butter.  I. Just. Can't. Not even for special occasions.  Unless it would provide at least 24 servings, but then only because if I were to host a breakfast for 24 I'd be frantic enough that I wouldn't care how much butter I used.  Yet again, I digress.

I'll cut to the chase:  I've attempted to make many French toast casseroles that weren't loaded with butter.  And I've never liked any of them.  Until today!

I googled like crazy and adapted a Kraft recipe to suit my needs.  Ironically, there was no butter in the original recipe. I decided that butter wasn't the enemy after all and used a teaspoon or so to grease the pan.