Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm addicted...


I just bought another one. Isn't it cool though?!??! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Orchid Update!

Some of you may remember my post back in June about my new orchid. I have loved orchids for years, and growing them is slowly becoming an obsession of mine. They are almost like children - I LOVE these things! Here is a photo of my first orchid -
The blooms lasted for a LONG time, but finally they all dropped. I cut the spike, and it has been continuing to grow new roots.
Here it is now. I had some problems with scale insects (gasp!) but hopefully I got rid of them before they could spread. It's still doing quite well...I'm just trying to be patient as I wait for a new spike to start so I can get some new blossoms!

A few weeks ago, my wonderful husband brought me this new challenge. He found this orchid outside of his office, abandoned and sad. :( I brought it inside, trimmed it's dried up spike, and repotted it. I was a little worried about it, but just yesterday I noticed that a new leaf is starting to grow!!! I can't wait to see what color blooms this plant will produce! It is looking so much happier and healthier!

And so the obsession grows. I was at Henry's Market on Saturday and noticed these BEAUTIFUL orchids. They were huge...most of them about 3 feet tall, and gorgeous. They had white ones similar to my little orchid at home, and purple ones. I definitely have a thing for the big white phalaenopsis orchids with the yellow centers, and I just couldn't stop looking at them. I was still thinking about them when I got home from grocery shopping, and decided to go for it - they were only $20...how can you pass that up!?!??!!? So, yesterday I went back to the store and selected my very own plant. I also bought a stand for it so that it would have it's own spot in my house. It is SO beautiful - I love that it has multiple branches! I can't wait for all the buds to start blooming. :) See how pretty it is? :)


Monday, September 8, 2008

Cherry Vanilla Coffee Cupcakes

The other day I had a moment of pure flavor delight. I had just finished drinking my fresh cup of Kona coffee, and began to eat my breakfast of granola and cherry vanilla yogurt. I was suddenly overcome with awe at the mingling of flavors in my mouth. I couldn't let it slip away, so I decided to try to capture it in cupcake form. I browsed several recipes and came up with my own crazy concoction incorporating all of the ingredients I listed above.


I apologize for the crappy picture...I did a poor job of decorating, so I didn't bother taking any cupcake glamor shots.

I started with a simple recipe for coffee cupcakes, adapted from several different Kahlua cupcake and coffee cupcake recipes. I specifically wanted to include yogurt in my cupcake recipe. Once baked, I started the cherry vanilla filling. The filling didn't thicken enough, so I had to add more cornstarch and cook it again. It sure tasted good though! I filled the cupcakes using the cone method, which was a first for me. The cupcakes were hideous...they looked like surgery had been performed on them. Yikes! But, that's what frosting is for! I used my own personal recipe for vanilla bean icing. Unfortunately I didn't have enough icing to cover all the cuppys, but the ones that got frosted looked much better. :)

Overall, they were really good! I served them at my Labor Day party, and they were eaten up in a mad grab. I usually am NOT a fan of fruit-filled things, but these worked well. It was an interesting flavor combo. Not quite what I remembered from my moment of epiphany, but good just the same! I even heard a couple people say that these were my best cupcakes yet! I tell you, that vanilla icing will melt anyone's heart! :)

Cherry Vanilla Coffee Cupcakes
Cupcake Batter: (serves 12 to 15)

2 cups flour (448 grams)
2 cups sugar (448 grams)
¼ teaspoon salt (1 gram)
1 tablespoon dark roast coffee grounds
¼ cup water (120 ml)
¼ cup coffee or coffee liqueur (120 ml)
½ cup butter (112 grams)
1 cup Greek yogurt, at room temperature (240 ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla (5 ml)
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda (6 grams)
2 beaten eggs

Grease or line two cupcake pans. Preheat oven to 350° F. In mixer, combine flour, sugar and salt.
Mix butter, coffee and grounds, and water. Add to flour mixture and mix lightly. Add yogurt, vanilla, baking soda and eggs and mix well for 2 minutes.
Pour batter into pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes and unmold cakes to cake rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cherry Filling

2 cups cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Add cherries, water, and vanilla to a pot. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
2. Stir together sugar and cornstarch then stir into the cherries.
3. Cook until thick, about 20 minutes. (I had to add more cornstarch and cook it again, so I would recommend adding the cornstarch before you take it off the heat and letting it cook for a while longer so it can thicken a bit while cooking.)

Assemble
1. Fill each cupcake with filling. I used the “cone method”, but many methods will do.
2. Frost filled cupcakes with Vanilla Bean icing:
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
5 T whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
vanilla bean

Beat powdered sugar and butter in a small mixing bowl. Scrape out vanilla beans and stir in into sugar mixture until they're evenly distributed. Add whipping cream and vanilla, beat until smooth. Add remaining cream if needed to reach spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cupcakes.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How well do you know your spouse?

This little survey has been floating around, so I figure after 1 year
of marriage and 7 years together, I'd give it a try! :)

1. They are watching TV….. What are they watching?
Dirty Jobs, NFL, CNN

2. You're out to eat.what kind of dressing do they get on their salad?
Balsamic Vinaigrette

3.What's one food this person doesn't like?
red peppers

4. You go out for a drink. He/she orders…
Alcoholic: Stone or other dark microbrew...if we are at a GOOD Mexican
restaurant, then a top shelf margarita, Non: Iced Tea

5 Where did he/she go to high school?
Marion Steele

6.What size shoe do they wear?
9.5

7. If this person were to collect anything, it would be?
Gremlin memorabilia

8.What is their favorite type of car?
Gremlin (or pretty much anything AMC - but not a Pacer!)

9. This person could eat __________ everyday?
mangoes

12.Favorite sports team?
San Diego Chargers!
(Cleveland Browns come 2nd)

10.Favorite cereal?
granola

11. This person wouldn't be caught dead wearing…
Tight Jeans

13.Who will he/she vote for?
Obama!

14.What is their sign?
Virgo

15.What is something you do that he wishes you didn't do?
Play with my Crackberry (I don't even mess with it that often,
seriously.)

16.How many states has this person lived in?
Ohio and California (plus a couple long stays at several military
bases/schools for training)

20. This person could spend hours….
surfing, working on the Gremlin

17.What is his heritage?
Irish, German

18. You bake them a cake for their birthday….What kind do they want?
Depends on his mood...no regular requests.

19.Did he/she play sports in high school?
Football for a while


Now… how well do you know your spouse? (JKnotties, this means you!)