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Monday, January 23, 2012

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Flipping through the Magnolia Cookbook, Black Bottom Cupcakes sounded like they would be fun to make. I didn't find this recipe to be amazing, they were just okay. The chocolate cake part was kind of dry and not chocolatey enough. I put some sweetened condensed cream on top of the cupcake part  to boost flavor and moisture when eating. The cheesecake type top was better than the chocolate bottom, but also nothing amazing. I honestly think it probably pays to just use a box of chocolate cake or brownie mix. Those usually taste better than this recipe did. The only thing that might happen if you use a different recipe is your cheese topping may sink more depending on how dense your recipe is, but hey, that's not necessarily a bad thing. You can also if you want after it comes out of the oven, drizzle some sweetened condensed cream on top of the cheese part.

Magnolia Black Bottom Cupcakes
Cream Cheese Filling:
12 oz. cold cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg @room temp.
1/3 c. miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1-3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. oil
1 c. sugar
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla

Line 18 cups of muffin tins with papers.
Cream Cheese Filling: beat cream cheese, sugar, until smooth. Add egg, beat well. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.

Cupcakes: Combine dry ingredients, set aside.Using med. speed, beat oil, sugar. Add dry ingredients in 2 parts, alternating with buttermilk, vanilla, until well blended. Carefully spoon into papers, filling 2/3 full. Drop 1-1/2 T. cream cheese filling in each. Bake 30-35 min. @350ยบ. Cool in pans 30 min. 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Best Baked Ziti Ever

The Best Baked Ziti Ever

  • 1 lb 1% fat cottage cheese
  • 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
  • 3 ounces parmesan cheese , grated
  • salt
  • 1 lb ziti pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh basil , chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4 inch pieces
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F.
 Whisk cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside.
 Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 Tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander.

Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12 inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.

**Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl, transfer mixture to Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. 

Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat.

Transfer pasta mixture to 13 x 9 inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 3 Tablespoons basil and serve.

**Can substitute jarred alfredo sauce for heavy cream and cornstarch
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Magnolia Vanilla Cupcakes

Magnolia Bakery is quite famous. I believe that the items they are most known for are their Vanilla Cupcakes and Banana Pudding. Magnolia Bakery owners have put out a cookbook, so now you don't have to travel to the Big Apple to get a taste of these famous items. You can reproduce them in your own kitchen. Make sure you have the ingredients prepared before you start to bake, it will make your life much easier. If you are properly prepared these are relatively quick to make.

I made the Vanilla Cupcakes and they were quite rich, the frosting made them even richer. I'm not a frosting person, but this was actually one of the better frostings.  I made the vanilla buttercream one. You can purchase The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook here.

Advice from Magnolia: 

  • Butter, eggs and milk should be at room temperature before you even think about beginning a recipe.
  • Softened butter is butter at room temperature, if you press your finger into properly softened butter, it will leave an indentation, but retain it's shape.
  • Always use large eggs for baking.
  • When creaming butter it's necessary to beat the butter until it's light and fluffy, which takes about 3  minutes depending on which type of mixer you're using. Most people, especially if they're  just learning to bake or don't bake very often, don't realize how long 3 minutes is, so they wind up not creaming their butter for the proper amount of time.
  • Only use real vanilla extract

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes
Magnolia Bakery

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes


• 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing
Magnolia Bakery

Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes


• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1/2 cup milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.

Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of a good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.

If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing
Magnolia Bakery

Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes


• 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 1/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar


To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes, or until lukewarm.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until creamy and of a desired consistency.

This is really a spreading frosting and not a piping one, while my first two look okay the ones all the way on the top left. Later ones started to look watery/ grainy with the piping method. The ones that were spread look nice. (by the way this was fake piping meaning ziploc bag style) 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Holiday Sun Catchers

Do you love when the sun shines in your face? I know I do. Although it is become bitterly cold outside and winter has arrived these quick and easy sun catchers work for anytime of the year, just make sure your picture reflects that time of year. This post shows how you can make a beautiful sun catcher for the holidays or any other time of the year. I have done this with little kids, they are easy to make and come out looking gorgeous, especially when you use vibrant colors, and not pale ones, those do not come out as nice. When I had made this sample, they seemed to be great colors, however when I separated the thin pieces of tissue paper, mainly the orange one, it was more of a peach color, than a orange. This is what I had, so I made it work. On my sample, I did not use a second piece of paper, but if you do, it will look like a suncatcher from whatever side you see it from and will have a much neater look to it.

Materials You Will Need:
Clear Contact Paper
Construction Paper-preferably black 2 pcs
Tissue Paper in many different colors

1. Draw a picture of your choice on the construction paper. In this case, it was a dreidel for the holiday of Hanukah. Repeat on second piece of paper, making sure it matches the first.

2. Cut out the picture leaving a frame of the picture. Repeat on the second picture. For example:

before cutting ------>

after cutting, you should then be left with this -----> Keep this part.

3. Cut a piece of contact paper double the size of your construction paper.

4. Peel back paper from the contact paper placing it non sticky side down on the table.

5. Place cut-out on the contact paper.

6. Place tissue paper inside frame overlapping each other, so that no gaps remain.

7. Take second paper and place on top of the first picture.

8. Fold contact paper covering the entire picture and then trim sides.

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