Thursday, December 24, 2009

Apple Cider Cupcakes

So today, I decided to continue my powdered drink mix adventure and make apple cider cupcakes! These also turned out well, and the house smelled amazing for an added bonus.
Again, I had a hard time tasting the flavor I was trying to add. If any pro bakers out there know of a site or a shop that sells a large variety of extracts, please let me know. Apple cider extract might have worked with this.
I decided to use a spice cake mix with this one. I figured a white cake mix would be to sweet. I also considered a lemon cake mix, but figured the lemon flavor would drown out the apple flavor.


You will need:
1 box spice cake mix
3 eggs
3 packets (or 3 oz) powdered apple cider mix
1/3 cups vegetable oil
2/3 cups water
1/3 cups apple cider (The non-sparkling, juice kind)
1/3 cups sparkling apple cider
2 cans whipped white frosting (The logic behind this is you don't serve hot apple cider with whipped cream, but it could potentially be foamy. Maybe. And cupcakes need frosting.)
Cinnamon sugar mixed with festive sugar sprinkles (As much as you see fit)

egg beater
large mixing bowl
enough cupcake tins to hold 24 cupcakes
24 festive paper cupcake wrappers
pastry bag with round nozzle

Prepare cake mix according to directions.
Pour apple cider mix into cake batter
Line cupcake tins with paper wrappers
Pour batter into tins
Bake according to directions on box
Remove cupcakes and allow to cool
Frost cupcakes
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar/sugar sprinkle combination to desired taste
Refrigerate remaining cupcakes not devoured

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

This holiday season, I decided to make cupcakes. I flipped through one of my mom's Women's World magazines and saw some recipes. It then dawned on me that you could probably add any flavored mix to white cake mix and get your own unique cupcakes.
This recipe did not come from that magazine, but rather my own mind (I was so proud of my brain). They turned out pretty well (they certainly got a great response when I passed them out-- thanks, everyone). Unfortunately, I couldn't give them out to everyone, but I can post my recipe! I'm going to add my notes as we go along.

You will need:
1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 packets (2 oz) powdered hot chocolate mix
54 mini marshmallows
2 cans vanilla or white frosting

egg beater
enough cupcake tins (or silicone cups) to hold 18 cupcakes
large mixing bowl
pastry bag and nozzle (I don't know the specific name for the nozzle. You'll want one that makes the frosting look like whipped cream on the top!)
18 festive paper cupcake wrappers
sprinkles if desired

Make the cake mix according to directions. Add hot chocolate packets into cake mix.
(You might be wondering why I chose white cake mix instead of just going for chocolate cake mix. I tend to make my hot chocolate with milk and it never turns out super chocolatey. I was going for that with this recipe. That being said, the sweet flavor of the white cake mix drowned out most of the chocolate flavor, in my oppinion. You could try replacing some of the water with chocolate syrup. At the store, I found chocolate-covered mini marshmallows! But they were naturally a little over-priced.)

Line the cupcake tins with paper cupcake wrappers.

Drop 3 mini marshmallows into each wrapper.
(They tend to rise during the baking process, but it's okay. Once they reach the top they melt, and then the top of your cupcake gets crunchy!)

Pour the batter into the cupcake tins.
(I just used a laddle. It was on-hand and simple.)

Bake cupcakes according to the directions on the cake mix box.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Cover with frosting from pastry bag.

Sprinkle with festive sprinkles.

Refrigerate cupcakes you don't immediately devour.

Makes 18 servings.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baking Cookies

     My dad and I baked some sugar cookies from scratch, last night. As he was pulling the ingredients out of the cupboard, he whipped this out:

     I was struck by how old it looked, and dad said it had been grandma's (who has not been with us for almost twenty years). So I had a look at the can.

     Ooh! Special recipe book offers? Do tell!

     Okay, I know you can't read this, so here's what it says:

This beautiful collection offers our 200 most famous chocolate and coconut recipes (many illustrated in full color) for Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Candies, Beverages, and Frostings. To get yours, send $.25 in coin with your name, address, and ZIP code to: (They're old address, which I'm not putting down.)
To get more than 20 illustrated pages of plain and fancy recipes, pretested by General Food Kitchens, send $.15 in coin with your name, address, and ZIP code to: (Same as the first one.)

     How amazing is that? Fifteen cents for a book? And they wanted you to put the coins through the mail? Who does that?
     On a side note, there is actually a cent sign after the "25" and the "15" on the can, but we don't have that sign on our keyboards anymore. Weird, huh?
     So I did a little research on this product. The can says it's made by General Foods Kitchens, which I was fairly certain no longer existed. It turns out it was owned by the founder of Post Cereals, but was taken over by Phillip Morris (now Altria-- they sound less evil that way) in 1985 and then merged with Kraft foods when they got Kraft. There's some really interesting back-story on all of that, including centuries-old products, biblically-offensive cereals and suicide, which I will let you read on a separate page devoted to it: General Foods History. So this product is at least twenty-four years old, but I would guess longer, considering the prices for the books.
     As for the cookies, we over-baked a tray of them. The ones that were safe seemed a little off. But the good news is no one died from eating cookies with 40-year old ingredients!

Recent Extra Work

     After "House", I worked on "Bones". It wasn't anything super-exciting, but it was also at the Fox lot. It's nifty, because they have murals of some of they're best work painted on the studio buildings. Also, my inner-geek squealed for joy as I walked past an orange piece of paper taped to the column of a building that read, "Futurama Table Read"!
     The next show I worked on was "Cold Case". It was pretty nifty and was shot at Warner Bros. studios (my favorite!). I was supposed to do a car call, but they changed to a cocktail waitress and still used my car as a parked car. There was a Baldwin in this episode! I won't say which one, but we shared this exchange inside the bar while we waited for the shot to be set up.

Yeah, I've been doing that, too, ever since the time change.

Time change? What, are you from out of state?

No... Daylight Savings Time.

Oh! Daylight Savings Time...

     Yeah. It was pretty special.
     The next thing I worked on was "Sons of Tuscon", which will premier next year. It was shot in Santa Clarita, and I decided to drive there by way of Pearblossom Highway. That was the worst thing I could do, apparently. I got so horribly lost; missing turns or taking them way too early. But at least the scenery was beautiful, and I managed to keep my cool. If you're ever going to get lost, try Soledad Canyon. It's gorgeous! Fortunately, I was allowed to work the show, despite showing up an hour late. I kept in touch with Central, who kept in touch with the studio, and I guess they really appreciate that sort of thing ;) But from now on, I'll be using the freeways.


     This Halloween, I went to Disnyland (surprise) with my friend, Hottie*. This was not my first time at Disneyland on Halloween, but it was my first time going at Halloweentime. I was wonderfully uncrowded, until about 6pm (I think) when DCA let out.
     We went as goths. One thing I learned from the last Halloween I attended was Disney does not allow adults to enter the park in costume. That year, I went as a Greek goddess and my friend went as a monk. The security guard wouldn't let my friend in until he promised to buy regular clothes inside (this was back in the day when DCA was still a parking lot. Soooo long ago). As for me, the old man said I "looked cute" and allowed me to go in.
     Going as goths made sense, because it seemed Halloween-appropriate and it was an accepted, normal wardrobe choice at the same time. Win/win. We had barely walked ten cars away from ours in the parking structure when a mom at a minivan confronted us and told us we wouldn't be allowed inside. I told her our strategy of not really being in costume, to which she claimed her family wasn't that dressed up, either.
     "Yeah, we were pirates." She said.
     Now, unless you believe that everything in the movie "Dodgeball" is true, or you live in a renaissance fair, dressing as an 18th century pirate is not an accepted, normal wardrobe choice. Maybe I just don't live in the right town, but I think even she realized she was reaching.
     Either way, we were allowed in.

     Hottie wore these red contact lenses that I like to refer to as the sleeper-hit of Disneyland. Everyone was looking at her eyes. Many asked her if that was her real eye color! One man took her picture (and then took mine, to be polite). One woman, while we were standing in line for the Haunted Mansion, even asked her if she could tell her son that is what happens when you don't eat your vegetables.
     Even after we were inside, people were asking us why we were allowed in the park in costume. We'd usually point to other goths in the park when they asked us. You could tell they were real goths, though. They're wardrobe looked way better.
     Hottie and I had noticed this one girl in the park who was allowed in wearing a slutty halloween costume. Yes, I know I have pictures of me on here wearing my provactive Strawberry Shortcake costume, but the big difference is I am an adult. We encountered this girl later with her parents in line for Indy. The mom swore up and down that she was shocked that her 12 year old daughter was almost not let into the park in her cute (slutty) doughnut shop costume. Okay, 1. The girl had definitley hit puberty and 2. Her nametag read "Kristy Creams". Stupid mom.
     But enough of my angry I'll-tell-you-how-to-raise-your-kids rant. We had lots of fun. My favorite part was taking our pictures with all of the characters.
     The Fairy Godmother was out! How lucky was that?
     Hmm. Hottie took a picture of me doing the Thriller dance with Mickey, but I can't seem to find it. It was fun, though. Mickey, unfortunately didn't know what the Thriller dance was, so he had to copy my pose. ;)

*Hottie is not her real name, but rather her name on my blog. :)