Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Another Mother Runner

I have been running, with varying levels of seriousness, for about eight years. I recently (finally) ran in my very first half marathon, the Smuttynose Rockfest in Hampton, New Hampshire. I went into the race with the attitude of not caring what my finish time was, but just wanting to finish (but secretly had a 2 hour 30 minute hopeful time in my head)

Picking up  my number for the half marathon!

Despite the cold, rainy day, I was able to run the entire race, not stopping to walk (except for a quick pee break in the woods) in 2 hours and 19 minutes!!! I was super proud of myself and am already looking forward to my next half. I already registered for the New Bedford Half Marathon in March, 2013.

 Anyway, I look for running inspiration where ever I can. One of my favorite sites to give me a little push is Another Mother Runner.   Reading about the highs and lows that other women have in not only the running "careers," but in life as well is not only inspirational, but educational as well.  It shows us that we are not unique in our critiques of ourselves as women, but that despite what we perceive as personal flaws, we cannot and should not let that keep us from getting out there and running toward our goals (pun intended).

Even if you are not a runner, check out the Another Mother Runner site. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Look To The Cookie

Some people call them Half Moons.  Others call them Black and Whites.  Still other have called them Half and Halfs.  But, they are just plain delicious!

I have been wanting to make these for a while; basically, ever since I purchased my copy of Junior's Dessert Cookbook.  I LOVE these tasty treats.  They are not really a cake, nor a cookie, but a scrumptious circle of wonderfulness all their own!  They even had their 15 minutes of fame in a Seinfeld episode.

Anyway, I finally decided to make these yesterday.  While the process of putting them together is a little bit of work, the result is well worth it, as my co-workers can attest to, as I brought some of these in to work today.  Try for yourself!

Junior's Black and White Cookies (from the Junior's Dessert Cookbook)


2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2/3 cup heavy cream


10 cups confectioners' sugar (2 1/4 pounds)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 hot water, cup plus
3 tablespoons hot water, plus more as needed
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted (at least 60% cacao) 
For the Cookies:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
Grease 2 baking sheets and line with parchment paper. 
Sift both the flours, the baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Then, sift the mixture again into another medium bowl.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium, cream the butter and granulated sugar together until light yellow and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the extracts. 
Sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the batter and, using a wooden spoon, stir in, then add about one-third of the cream and stir until mixed. Repeat until all the flour and cream is mixed in well. 
Using a 1⁄4-cup ice cream scoop or 1/4 measuring cup scoop about 1⁄4 cup batter onto the prepared baking sheets for each cookie. Spread out with a small metal spatula into a 3-inch circle. Space the cookies about 3 inches apart to bake.
Bake just until the edges begin to turn light golden and the tops are puffed and spring back when touched, 12 to 13 minutes. The cookies should be only light golden on the bottom, not golden brown. A pick inserted into the center should come out clean. (Do not overbake!) Let the baked cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer, upside down (bottom side up), to wire racks and cool completely. 
For the Frosting: 
Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Stir in the corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1⁄2 cup hot water until smooth. Add more hot water, if needed, a little at a time, until the frosting is spreadable. 
Transfer 11⁄4 cups frosting to another bowl; stir in the melted chocolate and the 3 tablespoons hot water. 
Cover the frostings with a damp paper towel to keep them fresh and spreadable as you work; if the frostings stiffen too much, stir in a few more drops of hot water.
Using a small metal spatula,, spread white frosting over the entire flat bottom side of each cookie. When the frosting feels set, frost half of each cookie a second time, this time with chocolate frosting, layering it on top of the white and making the center line as straight as possible. Let the icing dry until it is no longer soft to the touch, at least 2 hours, and store the cookies, between sheets of parchment or waxed paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Do not refrigerate or freeze these cookies.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama's Election Night Speech

I certainly don't want to turn this blog into a political one, but I wanted to post President Obama's election night speech.  This is the tone and feeling that he portrayed during his first campaign, and hopefully, can carry through the next four year.

Let's work together!

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vote Vegan Chai Spice Snickerdoodles!

So, since my daughters; elementary school is also a polling location, every year the PTO organizes a bake sale on election day to raise some money for the school.  I always contribute something to the bake sale, and since I am on my vegan baking kick, this year's contribute is also a vegan item.

Thank God (again) for The Post Punk Kitchen and their unbelievable vegan baking recipes!  I chose to make these Chai Spice Snickerdoodles for the bake sale.  These came out so perfectly that it took all my willpower not to eat the entire batch.  The smell was just mouthwatering, and they taste just like chai tea!

OK, I did eat one; I had too, so I could make sure they were OK to sell to the general public!  Again, make these for your family and friends and see if they can even tell they are vegan. 

Chai Spice Snickerdoodles (from The Post Punk Kitchen)

For the topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch cloves

For the cookies:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together on a dinner plate. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix for at least a minute, until it resembles applesauce. Then mix in vanilla.

Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough. Get in there with your hands to mix, it’s the easiest way to get the dough to come together.
With clean, moist hands, roll dough into walnut sized balls. Pat into the sugar topping and flatten into roughly 2 inch discs. Transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread a little). This should be easy as the the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, they should be a bit browned on the bottoms. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Vegan Treat

I have been on a vegan baking kick for the past few weeks, and have had some great successes and some pretty awesome mistakes.  However, thanks to Isa Chandra Moskowitz at The Post Punk Kitchen and her wonderful recipe book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World," I have found great recipes for vegan chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that no one (and I mean NO ONE!!!!!) has even suspected were vegan.

The chocolate version, with a vegan peanut butter buttercreme.

These have been such a hit that I was even able to send them into my daughter's Halloween party in her school and the kids loved them!

This is the vanilla version with a vanilla buttercreme, decorate for Halloween!

Again, you can feel free to make these cupcakes and give them to anyone with total confidence,  They will never know you are giving them a vegan cupcake (unless you spill the beans, of course).

Vegan Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.
Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).

Lightly spray the liners with cooking spray and pour batter into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Get Your Mojo On!

So, my last posting had me singing the praises of a local cupcake establishment, but since then, I have come across another fabulously delicious and sweet cupcake shop right here in Weymouth, Massachusetts:


My first introduction to the Mojo was when I saw these lovely ladies compete on the Food Network show "Cupcake Wars."  At the time, they did not have a store front, but a few months later I saw in the local newspaper that they had set up shop in my hometown.  Being the baking nerd that I am, I had to check them out.

I am SO glad I did.  From when I first entered the store, Maureen, the owner, made me feel welcome, almost like an old friend!  And on every visit since, she welcomes me by name and knows my girls as well.  The other staff that work there are just as friendly and kind, and have a great rapport with all their customers.

And I haven't even mentioned the star of the show yet...the cupcakes!!

They have a rotating menu of cupcake flavors daily.  Some flavors are more frequent than others, and they also have a great selection of seasonal cupcakes as well.  I have tried many of their flavors so far; their carrot cake is devine.  Many times carrot cake can be dry and mealy or overly spiced, but Cupcake Mojo's carrot cake is perfectly moist with a great carrot flavor and just enough cream cheese frosting to compliment the cake, without overpowering.  I have also especially enjoyed the seasonal Pumpkin Mousse cupcake (pumpkin anything rocks!),  the "Joyous Almond" (their take on the famous candy), and the Apple Cider.  They even recently made a "Hurricane Sandy" cupcake, to commemorate the coming hurricane, by topping a chocolate cupcake with a smooth peanut butter butter creme, covering that with more chocolate butter creme, drizzling it with even MORE peanut butter and chocolate, and topping it off with cut up candy bars!  Needless to say, I had to partake of this creation (what?  I needed the sugar energy to prepare for the storm).  I was not disappointed.

Learning to decorate (and eat!) cupcakes at at Cupcake Mojo in Weymouth, MA.

Cupcake Mojo also caters and has a party room for birthdays and other events.  I even had my daughter's 10th birthday there, where the kids learned how to fill and decorate cupcakes.

So, the next time you are looking for a sweet treat, get your behind over to Weymouth Landing and into Cupcake Mojo! Cupcake Mojo on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 9, 2012

These Cupcakes are Wicked Good!

Despite my 140 by 40 plan, I do have a major, major sweet tooth.  I find it hard sometimes to resist that old friend of mine when he comes knocking on my door with his decedent, come-hither look.  I have been for the past week pretty good at keeping to my meal plan, avoiding the ice cream and chocolate that are my usual downfalls.  However, the other day I was done in.  Done in by a small, hand held tread wrapped in a pretty little package.  Done in by a Wicked Good Cupcake!

Oh, before you judge me, you need to know all the facts.  This wasn't just any old little  Betty Crocker cupcake with canned frosting.  This was a special, once a year event cupcake.  This was a Chocolate Guinness and Bailey's cupcake made by Wicked Good Cupcakes in Cohasset, Massachusetts in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  A dense, dark and moist chocolate cupcake baked with Guinness Extra Stout and topped with a swirl of Bailey's Irish Cream infused cream cheese buttercream frosting.  Aren't you drooling as we speak (or read, as the case may be?)  Wait, just take a look at this picture:

You had me at alcohol!
Yes, that is some stout and Bailey's goodness!

What is best about Wicked Good Cupcakes is that you don't have to live on the South Shore of Boston to get them!  They ship their cupcakes in a cupcake-in-a-jar fashion nationwide!  Holy buttercream!!!  They have a plethora of drool worthy flavors to choose from, like  Natalie's 24 Karat Kake, Hummingbird, Peanut Butter Surprise, and Cuckoo for Coconut.

So, if you have a hankering for a sweet treat, don't delay.  Get your behind to Wicked Good Cupcakes in Cohasset, MA, or order online and have them shipped direct to you.  It's eatin' time!

Wicked Good Cupcakes on Urbanspoon