Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall is in the air

It's been awhile since I last blogged. I've kinda been taking a break from baking - as in less orders and more baking for myself :) I'm also enjoying fall quite a lot this year. I've always considered myself a summer person, but after this crazy heat wave we had in the DC area this summer...I think I am REconsidering what my favorite season is.

Last weekend was beautiful! We took a metro ride down to the Eastern Market in DC. I have lived in the MD/DC area my whole life and have never ever been. We enjoyed it so much we brought family friends from London, down to the market this weekend as well. Look at all the beautiful fall colors at the market:
(click to view collage larger)

Waited in line for a good 30 minutes for this crepe!

We decided to make dinner based on whatever we bought from the market. Here is what we ended up with on our menu that evening:

~Fresh Raviolis (2 flavors - Mozzarella and roasted tomato; goat cheese, butternut and apple) half of it I toasted ("St. Louis style") and the other half I boiled. We made a few different sauces on the side: marinara, vodka sauce, and a brown butter sage sauce with bacon (which went great with the goat cheese!)
~Homemade meatballs (a mix of pork, veal and beef)
~Brussel sprouts (my BFs family recipe...and it includes bacon and butter! I think bacon and butter can make anything taste good)
~Salad (fresh mesculin mix with grape tomatoes served with a hom
emade citrus honey mustard dressing)
~Topped off with a bottle of Vidal from the Lailey Winery we got on our trip to Niagara on the Lake this summer.
AHmazing dinner...

It was SO good! I kinda felt like how I feel after I eat a thanksgiving meal lol... but it was worth it! Oh and I can't forget the most important part of the meal... DESSERT :) Our family friends have never had a Cara Lee Cupcake so I whipped up some homemade Orange cupcakes scented with fresh zest topped with an orange zest swiss meringue and filled with a Grand Mariner raspberry filling. The jam I had bought on our trip to Niagara this summer as well. I mixed in a teaspoon or so of GM and some orange zest into the jam before filling the cupcakes.
Got to use my new orange with polka dot liners

The inside...

It's been such a great weekend and I'm loving fall... not ready for the cold weather to move in just yet though. In the meantime I will be getting ready for Halloween the rest of this week ~Cara Lee

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

So last night one of my closest friends invited me over for dinner. I was excited because she said she was ordering Indian food and she had exciting news. I had been raving to her all week about these pumpkin cupcakes I had made the other day and I wanted to bring over something (I hate going to people's houses empty handed). Since she is vegetarian, I decided to whip together some vegan pumpkin muffins. I'm amazed how nice and light these came out! Perfect for fall :)
Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

(adapted from

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or from a can)
  • 1/2 cup soymilk (I had vanilla soy milk)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I actually used canola oil)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses (I subbed regular syrup since I had no molasses)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Grease muffin tins with vegetable shortening or spray on oil. (I used liners)
  3. Sift together dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (pumpkin through molasses).
  5. Pour wet into dry and combine.
  6. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way.
  7. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy!
Oh I forgot to tell you the wonderful news: my friend asked me to be in her wedding! I'm so excited!!! I'm so pumped to be apart of Ash & Andrew 2011 ;-)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mom to Mom Health

(Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Frosting)

This weekend a friend of mine launched her new website Mom To Mom Health. I made some cupcakes for the event :)

Mom to Mom Health was started after her diagnosis of breast cancer in 2007. After overcoming it, she made it her mission to share what she has learned with others. She had no family history of breast cancer or any serious health issues, which lead her to believe that the chemicals in the environment played a role in my developing breast cancer. The site is dedicated to chemical free personal care products for women, men and children.

Did you know....
~ That cosmetic products we use daily, like shampoo, body wash, make-up, and even baby lotions contain chemicals that have been linked to serious health concerns such as cancer and birth defects? And did you know that it is perfectly legal in the US for companies to make personal care products with these harmful ingredients?
~The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has almost no authority to regulate cosmetics. Most ingredients are never tested for safety.

At Mom to Mom Health you can purchase everything from bath products, skincare, makeup, hair care and more. And with every purchase $1 is donated to Please visit her site - it's a great resource and the donations go to a great cause. (PS - did you know October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month ;-)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monster Truck Birthday

Here's a cake I did kinda last minute for my boss' son's 3rd birthday. Originally I wanted to do an actual monster truck tire, but I just did not have time. So I came up with this idea. It would also go great for a racing car theme too.

The bottom layer was chocolate cake with vanilla swiss meringue and covered in chocolate ganache. Top layer is vanilla with strawberry swiss meringue and covered also in chocolate ganache. I've become a big fan of covering cakes in ganache under the fondant.

I was up pretty late putting the cake together. I decided to buy the fondant for this cake because 1) red and black are the hardest colors to dye the fondant and 2) it tastes good and I think the kids would like it better 3) I'm lazy to make marshmallow fondant. I bought Duff's fondant at Michael's. I think it tastes good, but it's so hard to roll out! It's so soft and when I was covering the top layer with the red Duff fondant, I was almost done and sealing the bottom and trimming the excess and it rips!! It was 3am and there was no turning back. I ended up making a fondant "patch" and used it kind of like a sign for the Happy Birthday part. Whew! I almost freaked out! lol.
What do you all think of the new Duff fondant?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The "new" cupcake?

Yesterday I decided to buy myself a new cookbook. I usually scour the internet for recipes to try, but I figured I would like to add a new book to my very limited collection. I get overwhelmed at the book store - SO many cookbooks I would love to have. I ended up with Making Whoopies: THe Official Whoopie Pie Book. I have been wanting to make these for awhile. Word on the street is that the whoopie pie is the new cupcake? Who knows! But they are fun and really easy to make. My first encounter with a whoopie pie was in elementary school. I was a Brownie girl scout and every week someone brought a snack. This one girl would always bring these whoopie pies. I think that may have been the last time I really had a whoopie pie actually. Fast forward to today, there are all kinds of whoopie pie concoctions - red velvet, pumpkin, to jalepeƱo corn bread. I decided my first ones should be the traditional whoopie. There is a great debate as to whether the filling should be made with vegetable shortening or marshmallow fluff. I try to use as little shortening as possible when I cook anything and I prefer the marshmallow myself - just seems more "natural" ;-) Oh and I also swapped the vegetable oil with canola for the cake part as well. Hey, every little bit counts right? They came out perfect! I made mini pies (I love mini anything - mini eclairs, mini 8oz. coca cola in the can, mini cupcakes... I think you got the idea!). Just use a cookie scoop to drop the dough evenly on the cookie sheet. After they cool and you put them together, you can make them a little more funky with sprinkles or dip them in chocolate ganache. And now that it is October, I think they would be a fun treat for any Halloween party.
Whatcha think? Fun huh?