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Monday, November 19, 2012

pumpkin spice scones... and some other stuff

happy happy monday :)
is everyone getting ready for thanksgiving... i am SOOOO looking forward to it... a visit to new york has been long overdue... i'm so looking forward to spending time with my family, seeing my sister who is back from france for a bit, and helping her with her wedding plans, spoiling my adorable nephew, celebrating with cocktails with my fabulous cousins, going to the parade with the hubby, my boys, my pops and the rest of my family... and of course my mom's amazing thanksgiving dinner... i just love this time of year... but i'll leave my thanksgiving love to my post-thanksgiving blog post...
now... onto why we are here today... pumpkin scones... i am a pumpkin scone feine... i know people get all amped up for the arrival of the coveted starbucks pumpkin spice latte, but i feel kinda like "ehh" about them... i'd rather my usual caramel macchiato... but their pumpkin scone... i swoon... luckily for me i don't have starbucks to close to me... otherwise i'd be broke and possibly a bit chubby around the middle... so what's a gal to do... well, make them at home of course, and defiantly get chubby around the middle...
i found this recipe while cruising through pinterest... and i have to say, these are a winner in my book
pumpkin scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg
1. preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
2. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with fit the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger
3. add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture
4. mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse crumbs, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas
5. in a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half-and-half and egg
6. fold the wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball
7. pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle about 4 inches by 12 inches
8. use a large knife to slice the dough making three equal portions...cut each of the portions in an X pattern (four pieces) so you end up with 12 triangular slices of dough
9. place on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 14-16 minutes, or until light brown... place on wire rack to cool before glazing

  for the glaze i just combined some heavy cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg... and drizzled it generously atop each warm scone... mmm...
now onto the other stuff... i just want to give a big love shout out to my husband, who on friday had his chiefs initiation...
for the past two months he has been going through a traditional initiation process for all who advance to chief... and it finished on friday, culminating with a lovely dinner, and ceremony in which he was honored with some fellow coast guardsmen... i am very, very proud of him... and i was so happy to take part in this moment with him... it was a little embarrassing standing in front of everyone pinning his anchors on him... but what is a loving wife to do :)
congratulations hubby... i love you
i'll catch you all after thanksgiving...
i wish you all a wonderful holiday... and as always, happy baking!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

cookie butter and pumpkin cupcakes

there is only thing i can say about these cupcakes... they are EFFING awesome!! every bite is like eating the very best flavors of fall and winter... pumpkin, cinnamon,  and gingerbread... mmm....
now... before i get started i have to thank trader joes for bringing so many good things into my life... like chile lime chicken burgers, my chocolate/coffee bean and sugar grinder, dark chocolate caramels, veggie pot stickers, almond and apple butter... and now... this... this delicious gift... cookie butter... many of you have probably heard of biscoff spread... this is basically the same thing... and it is utterly amazing... whether you eat it by the spoonful, on pretzels, or my style... faceplanting right into the jar :)
i figured it would make a delicious topping for a pumpkin cupcake... and as always, i was right...
pumpkin cupcake recipe (yields 12 cupcakes):
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 eggs at room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
7.5 ozs. pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. pure maple syrup
1.preheat the oven to 350 and prepare the cupcake tins
2. in a medium saucepan, melt and brown the butter, set aside to cool
3. in a small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together
4. in mixer, beat the eggs and the sugars together, when combined add the cooled melted butter
5. gently fold in the dry ingredients, and don't over mix
6. whisk in pumpkin and maple syrup until combined
7. bake about 17-20 minutes, cool on wire rack before frosting
speculoos "cookie butter" cream cheese frosting
4 ozs. softened cream cheese
1/2 cup of trader joe's speculoos cookie butter spread
confectioners sugar
heavy cream
1. in a mixer, blend the cream cheese and the cookie butter until smooth
2. gradually add the confectioners sugar until you reach your desired sweetness, and the heavy cream until you reach the desired consistency
3. try not to eat it right out of the bowl, and frost your cupcakes!!

now the hubby doesn't share my enthusiams for eating the cookie butter straight from the jar... but he could not get enough of these cupcakes... and he actually said these are probably one of his top 5 favorite cupcakes i've ever made... sweet!
 have a great weekend everyone... and as always happy baking!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

trick or treats and thoughts and prayers...

well hello everyone... i hope you all are enjoying this thursday... it's been a tough few days here for me, my heart has been heavy with the thoughts of my hometown of Staten Island... and with all of the people that have been devastated by the hurricane... i don't even know where to begin with how i feel about what has happened... i can't even watch the news anymore, it's just too hard... as a family, we were extremely lucky... all of my family and relatives live in safe areas of the island, although they are still without power, we were blessed... it seems every hour more tragic stories emerge... some are too hard to even bare...
i like many New Yorkers are very proud of where we come from... we are very protective of our city, maybe that's why new yorkers are kinda like a different breed... it's very aggravating sometimes seeing how Staten Island is portrayed... now, i'm not going to say that those yahoo's on mtv, mob wives and bad girls club don't exist, because believe me, Staten Island is full of some characters... but it is also a tightknit, family loving community, one of which i am happy to belong... and it's really getting old being the forgotten borough... the dumping ground... the laughing stock of the city... that spare sock with no mate you find in the dryer...
the island is undergoing some serious heartbreak right now, and so many are still left wondering where people are, and how to even begin to make sense of it all...
there is one thing i do know, Staten Island is home to a tough bunch of New Yorkers, and the rebuild will bring us closer and more resilient...
my thoughts, prayers and much needed love to all...
and to all of those first responders, and unselfish givers of comfort and aid, the ones who brave the search and rescue... thank you
now... on a lighter note... i hope everyone had a happy halloween... or, if your town postponed the trick or treating until this weekend, i hope you and yours will enjoy the day... as for us, we were lucky enough to celebrate halloween on several occassions... first it started on friday with the school's halloween costume parade, followed that night by the schools halloween party, then the next day, the town had it's annual halloween howler, which is another party and parade...
now... as for costumes... my littlest guy made it easy on me... he wanted to be none other than his favorite (and i think my favorite) avenger... captain america... the minute he put his costume on, the little guy acted like he was some toughnut... this kid cracks me up... i mean, look at that face...
haha... lego man photo-bomb...
but he's not always so serious... here he is fooling around in one of the silly masks my parents had sent up for the boys to mess around with... he's a character...
and here they both are... clowns...
now... onto my big guys costume... i have to say i am really proud of myself with this one... he was a built to scale lego minifigure... and i made the costume all by myself... well... the hubs helped a little too :)
 pretty damn awesome right?! now if you knew anything about my boy, he is a bit of a lego freak... like border line obsessed... so... this costume was just right up his alley... and it was hilarious to see him walking around with this on...

here he is at his school, surrounded by the other kids... i have to say it made me smile to see him at the center of this...
 oh... and by the way he won third place at the towns costume contest... i (along with a few other townies) thought he deserved first, but oh well, what can you do... all that really mattered was the smile on his face... and believe me, under that big ol' lego head, he was grinning from ear to ear :)
until next time...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

sweet mascarpone and maine blueberry tart, and a welcome back

well hello, and a good afternoon to you all... today is a very happy day in our little house... why? because the hubby will be home... FINALLY... it feels like he has been gone forever, and the thing is, this was one of his shortest patrols... it was just a very stressful 45 days... and i really needed him here for a lot of things... but, i kept it together and soldiered on... but tonight, our family will be complete again...
to celebrate the hubs return i decided to make a yummy fresh fruit tart... using none-other then maine blueberries... these blueberries are ahh-mazing... i have truly fallen in love with all the fresh fruits and veggies maine has to offer... delectable
 to start the tart off, i used dorie greenspan's sweet tart dough... my go-to tart dough, it's always a delicious success...
makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg*

1. pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor... scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas
2. slightly whisk the yolk, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition... when the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds
3. just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change– stop the machine!
4. turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped during the mixing process
5. now press the dough into a buttered tart pan.. press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan... you want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture
6. freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking
7. to fully or partially bake the crust: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 8. butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust... and here is the kicker, because you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights... put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes
9. carefully remove the foil... if the crust has puffed a bit during baking, press it down gently with the back of a spoon... return to the ovem, and bake the crust about 10 minutes longer until it is firm and golden brown
for the mascarpone cream, blend mascarpone, heavy cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla bean until nice and creamy... then i topped the cream with beautifully ripe blueberries

i also made a yummy fresh strawberry and blueberry sauce... it was the perfect little topping for the tart... i just slightly simmered blueberries, strawberries, fresh lemon juice and sugar, then added a bit of cornstarch to help thicken it... then i used my emulsifier to blend it down... i'm so glad i went the extra bit and made this... i think the hubs will really enjoy this... he's a blueberry fanatic

 welcome back hubby, you have no idea how much we've missed you...
and as always... happy baking to you all :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

banana peanut butter fudge swirl frozen custard (or otherwise known as 2 ingredient ice cream)

so... i have a delightful treat for you all... a rich and luscious frozen dessert that is as simple to make as it is amazing to eat... frozen banana cream custard with peanut butter and homemade hot fudge sauce... and the kicker... NO ICE CREAM MAKER NEEDED... are you hooked yet?!?
so here's the list of the main ingredients:
14ozs. (1 can) of sweetened condensed milk
1 pint of heavy cream, whipped into medium stiff peaks
1 package of instant pudding mix, any flavor you fancy... i chose banana
*and any mix ins you want... i went with peanut butter and some homemade hot fudge i had made the day prior... honestly, you can mix in just about anything... go crazy, get creative, be happy!
now here's the break down...

 1. empty one can of sweetened condensed milk to a large mixing bowl
 2. using a hand mixer, blend in 1 package of instant pudding mix
 3. fold in the pint of the heavy cream which was previously transformed into billowy whipped cream
 4. now the mix ins... i used little buttons of peanut butter, and some ribbons of fudge... thanks to the recipe found over at kevin and amanda's blog... so happy for their stellar ideas :)
5. slightly blend in the mix ins... place into a container and freeze for at least 24 hours, and resist the urge to splurge before it's ready!!
now you have it folks... creamy, thick and oh so decadent frozen custard like ice cream... i wouldn't exactly call it ice cream, because it has a thicker consistency... and let me warn you, it is RICH... i could hardly finish my bowl... but it was hard to put the spoon down... my thighs won't be too appreciative...

 there's nothing wrong with a little more fudge, is there... says the fatty...

 well... enjoy your weekend... and if you're feeling fancy... get off your butt and in the kitchen... you won't regret making this dish!!
and as always... happy baking :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Avast ye scallywags!!

well shiver me timbers!!
happy national talk like a pirate day!!
to mark this occassion (which i was made aware of by my mom this morning... thanks mom!!), i made my little buccaneers some adorable swashbuckeling cupcakes...
enjoy you landlubbers!!!
and here is my happy little band of pirates... love these two faces!!
happy baking me heartys!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

banana chocolate chip cake and some other stuff

i feel like i'm in a bit of a funk lately... kinda like i'm suffering from a slight motivation problem... which is not a good thing when the hubby's away and the kids want to play...
i know for the most part it's because i am not feeling that well, blah blah blah... lingering health issues, blah blah blah... but i'm not going to bore you with that...
what i will do instead is share with you a quick and super easy recipe for banana bread... and right now on this chilly grey day, it's the perfect thing to warm you up a bit, not to mention it will make your house smell ahhhmazing!!
banana chocolate chip cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups of sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cup of smashed bananas
2 lrg. eggs
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of chocolate chips

1. preheat the oven to 350, and grease and flour a 8x8 cake pan (you can actually make them into muffins too)
2. in a medium bowl, sift and combine all the dry ingredients
3. make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add all the wet ingredients plus the chocolate chips
4. incorporate the ingredients together, but don't overmix
5. spread the batter into the pan, and bake 30-35 minutes or do the ol' toothpick trick

in other news... i'm working on a fun giveaway for you all... i'm busy putting it together... but i promise it will be something fun :) so stay tuned!!
on a side note... my littlest guy started pre-k... it just blows my mind to think about it... he really likes school so far, even though he sometimes acts like he's too cool for it... honestly, this kid thinks he's a real bad ass... it makes me laugh
enjoy this cozy up weather... and as always... happy baking!