Monday, September 27, 2010

Banana Cupcakes 2 Ways

But before I made some scrumptious mini cupcakes…I ran a 5K!

This was the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure.  It’s held in the Seaport area of Boston, a beautiful location right by the water.  I ran this 5K last year, and at that time it was my very first 5k!!

The weather was beautiful…or so I thought.  It was actually pretty warm, and I think that didn't work in my favor.


There were tons of people here


Even the mayor said a few words (Brian was around taking pictures)


And they’re off!  Yeah I was NOT near the front

IMG_5084There I am!   


And again near the end… not so smiley anymore :) 


My official time was 31:04 :/  Kind of frustrating honestly.  My friend Jocy and I are training for a 10K that’s in a couple weeks, so we have been running more regularly and longer distances.  I also had my best time in March (29:10) during a 5k in a MONSOON!

So somehow I was almost 2min slower on Saturday and it’s just frustrating…any thoughts?  Apparently I’m training too slowly. 

Well it was still a good run anyways, and later I made some cupcakes!

I volunteered to bring cupcakes to my friends house to watch the Pats game, and had been dying to try out this combination that I’ve had in my head for a while now.

For the cupcakes I actually used this Cooking Light recipe.  I wasn’t going for a “light” recipe but it sounded good so I went with it.  I only used the cake portion of this recipe, not the frosting.

I even got to try out my new box of King Arthur cake flour that was in my goodie bag from the trip to King Arthur!



I doubled the recipe which made 60 mini cupcakes  IMG_5124


Then is was frosting time!

I ended up making 2 different kinds as a couple of my friends are allergic to nuts.

Banana Cupcakes with: 


Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream or

Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting!

First the chocolate…  I bought a “nutella” type spread at Whole Foods   IMG_5134

Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream

  • 1/2 stick butter softened
  • 1/2 cup choc. hazelnut spread
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-2T milk

Blend all together with a mixer, add the milk 1T at a time until it’s the right consistency.  You don’t want it too wet or it wont spread or pipe well. IMG_5136


Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz Neufchatel cheese
  • 1/2 stick butter softened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk as needed (1T at a time)


I piped the frosting  IMG_5143 IMG_5149

The cream cheese frosting was a little wetter and I didn’t want to add more sugar, so I used a simpler tip without any design.

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I loved both flavors!  I found the chocolate hazelnut buttercream slightly overpowered the banana, maybe a little banana slice ontop would be good.  The honey cinnamon was a nice balance with the banana. 

But when they are mini you don’t have to choose!!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baking Brownies and Crackers

We didn't just stop at Pizza dough when us bloggers were up at King Arthur in VT. While our pizza dough was rising we busted out some whole grain crackers and whole wheat double chocolate brownies!

First we learned a little about the wheat berry and it’s parts. IMG_4881

We also learned about Whole Wheat Flour. The biggest tidbit of information I learned is that I had definitely used rancid WW flour before!? Ew!! That smell, that kind of strong smell that you think whole wheat flour has?? Well that would be RANCID whole wheat flour! We smelt rancid and fresh, and fresh WW flour smells like regular flour…basically it really should not have much of a smell at all…just flour-y :)

So keep it in your freezer and we can avoid this issue. Now I just need to find some nice freezer safe big flour canisters.

The cracker dough is very simple and very similar to the pizza dough except there is no yeast here. IMG_4883

This time we had baking buddies! Michelle and I tore it up in the kitchen and produced some delicious cracker dough.

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While this dough baby rested, we gathered various seeds and herbs to use to season our crackers.


Divided the dough in half (half for me and half for Michelle) and then cut our halves into 4 little pieces.


I had some King Arthur seed mixture, fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, and oregano from their gardens), herbs de Provence, and coarse salt


Spread your seeds out on the board and roll the dough into the topping!


We each had a sheet pan full.

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Time to bake! Will you just LOOK at that oven!!!?! The thing is MASSIVE, and goes really deep inside. When turned off at night is never cools down, and if it does need to heat up from being cold it takes 2 DAYS!! Everything is manually regulated, and the doors push in to prevent heat from escaping. Really makes our home ovens seem like Easy-Bake ovens compared to this bad boy.


I jumped at the chance to wheel in a batch of crackers, you may have seen a picture of it on one of the other girls blogs! IMG_4921

Oh and then we made the most decadent brownies I’ve ever created….

*EDIT - I found the brownie recipe online through the King Arthur website here! This is the same recipe we made in class*


Hello butter and brown sugar IMG_4927

The last ingredient was 2 CUPS of these chocolate chips! It’s amazing because they sort of melt into the batter, so it’s not overly chocolate-chippy but you still find some chips here and there. IMG_4929

This is the key ingredient to really intensify the chocolate. IMG_4930

Mmmmm. We were told to wait until tomorrow to eat them (if that was possible), because as they sit overnight you wont be able to taste the bran as much as you would fresh out of the oven.IMG_4956

Also some completed crackers, which I broke up into pieces and bagged them. IMG_4957 IMG_4958

1 day later:


o.m.g. like fudge, but cake, but fudge…so delicious and so rich.


These crackers and brownies were SIMPLE and oh so good.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nantucket: Cisco Brewery

Before this trip, the last time I had visited Nantucket I was barely a teen so I really had no clue about the nightlife or any of the great bars on the island, not to mention a brewery/winery/distillery!

That’s right…Brewery + Winery + Distillery = one of my new favorite places ever!

If you go to Nantucket you must MUST visit Cisco.


I have tried a couple of their beers before, most recently the Cherry Woods that I was obsessed with after enjoying this sour refreshment at Armsby Abbey back in July

The brewery isn’t a bar downtown, it’s a bit off the beaten path and you probably wouldn’t randomly drive by if you were just visiting for a weekend.  We knew about it because my cousins love it (they know the island well) and Brian loves trying new beer and visiting breweries. 

We actually visited Cisco, twice in 3 days :)  The first was Sunday for a tour.  Through a combination of the public shuttle + walking down a fairly pedestrian un-friendly road…we made it.  On a Sunday at 2pm it was already pretty crowded, but we found our tour guy, Stu.  We were lucky that it was just us and one other couple. 

We started with the brewery, and while we toured our little sample cup was never empty for more than a few minutes…we sipped on Grey Lady and I’m pretty sure this is my new favorite beer.

The beer production is all done by hand still, even the labeling of the bottles!  They have recently enlisted the help of two off-island breweries (1 in Ipswich, MA and one in NY) to assist in the production of some of their popular beers as the Nantucket brewery can’t handle the demand; they are maxed out! 

The Labeling “station”:


They recently released a series of oak barrel aged beers called The Woods series.  This is where my beloved Cherry Woods comes from.  There is also Dark Woods, Lady of the Woods (the Grey Lady in oak barrels…we bought a bottle but haven’t opened it yet), and White Woods.  The barrels are recycled from their wine production; when they are no longer suitable for wine, they are used to produce these beers!  White woods won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup…unfortunately there was not much of this beer produced and therefore was never released to the public.   

IMG_4462 Can you believe each French Oak barrel costs about $1000!!!!

We didn’t try all the beers during the tour (but not to worry, we came back Tuesday and had a sampler)

Next was the winery…again a small production. 

IMG_4468They actually get their grapes from the west coast, either in whole grape or juice form.  Nantucket just is not a great place to grow grapes for wine.  The first sample was the Chardonnay.  This is probably my most favorite Chardonnay now…I’m usually not a huge fan, I find them too sharp and dry, but this was buttery and smooth.  I really liked it.

We also tried a Pinot Noir and a sparkling Pinot Grigio infused with cranberry.  So refreshing!

And then there was the booze…



They make a regular vodka, blueberry, cranberry, orange and vanilla vodka.  All naturally colored from the fruit. 


We had a few small samples


And then tried a few of their new liquors…my favorite was the coffee liquor…mmmmm, delicious!  This would make an amazing brunch cocktail.


And not that we got to sample it, but they also produce a single malt scotch, called Notch (you can’t call it “Scotch” unless it’s made in Scotland).  It’s been aged for 8 years and sells for a mere $888.00 a bottle!!  Apparently its amazing, very highly rated, and yes they do have plenty of people who buy it…we asked ;)


Check out this sweet copper still!!  So cool in person.               IMG_4492

The Notch ages in these barrels for 8 years, and there’s still no guarantee each barrel will be good enough.IMG_4494
The beer, the wine, and the vodka are all delicious…but the BEST part of visiting Cisco is the atmosphere… IMG_4496 live music…IMG_4498 IMG_4499

It’s basically just a big open, outdoor, chill bar.  Bring a lunch, your dog, and your friends and spend an afternoon in the sun…

It was PACKED on a beautiful Sunday afternoon


And I had fun taking photos of all the adorable dogs :)

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Oh and enjoyed a refreshing Cherry Woods.  Brian had their 15th Anniversary brew…it was an American style Tripel, and very strong.

IMG_4512 IMG_4516 IMG_4520


Seriously go here.

Did I mention we went twice in 3 days??

Brian really wanted to do a sampling of all the beers and they don’t do samplers when its busy (as it was Sunday).

So Tuesday we rode bikes down, brought lunch and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon…there was barely anyone there and it was awesome.

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We picked up a few items from Bartlett Farm Market down the road… There need to be more BYOFood Bars.

Raw Vegetable Salad…sooo good.


Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

IMG_4696 And a delicious tomato, fresh mozzarella, and prosciutto sandwich on fresh bread. IMG_4698

Some friendly bar games.


Amazing how empty the place was compared to Sunday

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After the sampler I walked over and got a cocktail


Peach and Pineapple infused vodka with OJ, cranberry, and club soda…yeah think that was it.

It was delicious, not too sweet and not too strong…I don’t like a strong vodka taste in my drinks


IMG_4717  Can you tell we liked it here??