Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Halloweenie- Halloween Sugar Cookies!

As you will soon see Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday, a very close second is Christmas :)

There hasn't been  a single year where I haven't dressed up for Halloween ( **As far as I'm aware maybe there was one baby year where my parents didn't dress me up?). The last two Halloweens up I've been characters who unfortunately no one knew...

About 7 people knew who I was and everyone else refered to me as "Spaceman" or "Speed Racer" ....c'est la vie..this one was totally worth it for those who knew how epic The Stig is :) 

Have I mentioned my super nerdiness? case you missed it... last year I was Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones...this was even worse because only one cheeky New Zealander knew who I was supposed to be..and everyone else thought I was a cave woman. 

So this year I opted for someone who was totally mainstream and out of the biggest block buster of the year The Avengers, I chose... 


Having a hammer feels very powerful! 

Thor and Loke...yes I named my cat Loke after THE Loke!

These EPIC Thor photos were taken by my two best friends from LaRose Media... the perks of having professional photographers as friends!!!  

Now down to the sweet stuff... I couldn't do Halloween without my own sweet something to give out! So here they are. 

My hands are creeping into this photo...can't keep my hands off these treats! 

The eyeballs are store bought but everything else is handmade!

Tips for Making These Halloween Cookies:

  1. Choose limited colors to make it easier on yourself- luckily black and white go with Halloween
  2. Keep it simple- choose a few shapes and a few patters to decorate
  3. Toothpicks are great tools! The cool swirl feathered effect came from drawing lines with icing and using the pick to draw icing down
  4. Let the base layer dry for a few minutes before adding the spider webs if you want a more 3D effect! 


Whoooo wants one?

Wrapped and ready!

If giving out homemade treats on Halloween wasn't so sketchy I'd love to do it every year! However giving these out as treats for my friends works just as well! Cheers to Tricks and Treats for next Halloween! Hope this inspires some creative sweets AND costumes! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cupcakes Two Ways!

So I'm going to keep this short and sweet...when I'm not coordinating weddings, baking, or blogging I work at Guilderland Family Chiropractic as a Chiropractic Assistant. Today marked the 117th Birthday for Chiropractic and in honor of the occasion I baked TWO sets of cupcakes.

Pop quiz...which of the above is gluten free?

If you know me at all you'd know I'm a chocolate and not a vanilla girl...and by the process of elimination I'd rather eat a gluten free CHOCOLATE cupcake than a plain old vanilla. However, back in my gluten indulging days I used this simple recipe for a classic vanilla cupcake that I fell in love with and know it's a deliciously good recipe.

To begin: channel your inner Maximus and assemble the ranks.

Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs

Fluff the butter and sugar together and then add vanilla extract and eggs one at a time. 
Combine dry ingredients.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk until batter comes together.

I know I have no picture but I assure you this is the most luscious, wonderful batter to behold! If it's not amazing then you've missed something! 

Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Ok ready for Dirty's dirtiest secret of all? My secret for delicious GLUTEN FREE Chocolate Cupcakes.... 

Oooh snap..oh no she didn't... I know..and I did. Since I was under a time crunch and knew I had one proven recipe I opted to give something boxed a shot...and let me tell you... I just tried one of these boxed cupcakes and YUM... HIGHLY recommend to any fellow Glu-tard!

I'm not going to explain how to make cupcakes from a box...if you're reading this then clearly you can read ;) 

Honestly no wheat-eater can tell the difference. 

I may skip a step and opt for a boxed batter but I will NEVER... I repeat NEVER opt for boxed and/or pre-made frosting... a girl needs to have some standards after all. 

Basic Butter Cream Frosting
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. 
Add remaining ingredients. 
Next add desired food coloring- but know because of the simple purity of this recipe the virgin color of the butter cream is quite spectacular and elegant all it's own. 

Another one of Dirty's Little Secret's: if you see a "Butter Cream" that is pure white...then it's not made with 100% butter but has been tainted and blended with shortening. This is why when people taste this pure version of butter cream they always remark on how amazing the flavor is! 

Remember when adding food coloring start with small drops and gradually add more as never looks like enough until it's too late. You can always add color easily taking it away is another story. 

These cupcakes are about taste and flavor so I kept the decor to a minimum by using my largest star tip fitted to my pastry bag.

Here's a bakers trick: Use a pint glass to help add frosting to your empty bag! 

Pick a style you feel comfortable with and pipe your frosting. 

Once's my secret for a lustrous finishing touch. 

Pearlizing spray!

Look at that shine!

There is really only one thing left to do....share and enjoy with someone you love! Nothing says celebrate like your very own cupcake :) 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Diana Banana Bread Mini's

Dirty is just one of the many nicknames I've acquired over the years. One of the original nicknames I had guessed it... Diana Banana given because of my bleach blonde banana curled hair. Why would you would call a curl in your hair after a fruit I have no idea but I digress.

This has become one of my favorite items to bake- not only is it simple and sweet but it's a forgivable batter that allows room for error and improvisation. Basically you can't mess it up unless you try, so please don't :)

 Remember the more ripe and gooey means the better ingredient for Diana Banana Bread.

This is the fun part- peel and mash the bananas! I use my hands but that's why I'm Dirty ;) 

Next add 10 tablespoons of MELTED butter- a nice mug full. 

I used my coffee mug to melt the butter via microwave. 

And mix...

Add brown sugar

Two beaten eggs + vanilla extract.

Sprinkle cinnamon and baking soda- think fairy dust.

Three cups of flour- don't they look pretty?

Mix, mix, mix! 

Now that your batter is prepared it's time for Dirty's Little Secret.... 

Dark. Chocolate. Morsels. 
*Note morsel NOT chip = chip on steroids

Nom. Nom. Nom. 

Next prepare the vessels! 

I know it's not fall but this pan makes the perfect mini sized Diana Banana Bread!

And because I made A LOT I used my silicone cupcake liners to make even more! 

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center. 

Remove from pan to cool completely before... 

Gift wrapping! My talented friend and owner of LaRose Media is road tripping to Colorado to film a wedding and I wanted to make something she can snack on on the way out. Hopefully these Diana Banana Bread Mini's make it past Chicago and she can snack in between filming :) 

Diana Banana Bread  *double batch
  • 6 very ripe gooey mashed bananas
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 package of dark chocolate morsels
Combine in a large bowl.
Mix with a wooden spoon.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I really can't take credit for the recipe of these, but I can take credit for their yummy execution!

To begin assemble all the will need:
  • Two eggs
  • Two sticks of butter
  • Two cups of brown (light or dark) sugar
  • Two cups chocolate chips (which ever brand strikes your fancy) 
  • Two and a quarter cups gluten free flour blend
  • Two cups gluten free oats
  • Teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • Half teaspoon xanthum gum 
  • Teaspoon baking powder
  • Half teaspoon baking soda
Do not, do NOT, DO NOT forget the xanthum gum- I did once and the result was flat and disastrous. Kind of like the time my brother put an entire batch of cookie dough on one cookie sheet thinking they didn't expand once they baked! Ha ha needless to say he had one large, overflowing sheet pan of a cookie! 

Find original recipe HERE. 

Mo butta mo betta!

Mmm sugar... 

  Ok, ok I cheated and used store bought flour- not a bad brand to buy, just don't forget the xanthum gum! 
p.s. I also added and extra quarter teaspoon of x-gum since this mix didn't have any! 

Ghirardelli- mmm any version of their chips are amazing, milk-bittersweet-or semi-dark are all YUM and easily interchanged in this recipe. 

Last but not least the homemade vanilla extract for a real gluten free treat- vanilla beans soaked in rum! 

Then you can assemble your troops! I got these measuring cups from my Aunt Anita for Christmas, aren't they great? Each half is its own size!


As with almost any cookie making process you first have to cream the butter and sugar, then adding in eggs and vanilla. 

Then slowly add...




Don't be afraid to get a little messy!

Ants love me. 

Then we get our hands Dirty Style- dig deep and roll 1 to 1 1/2 inch dough balls. 

I have a problem with size..

I always start at the 1 inch diameter and slowly my cookies just get larger...and inner fatness coming out! 

Then bake at 350 degrees F for...8 to 12 minutes- this depends on your oven- always set the timer for the lesser amount of time and check- there is no undoing a burnt cookie! So you sit around in your pajama bottoms and funky apron and wait...or is that just me? :) 

**A good rule of thumb for these cookies is to let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them onto cooling racks. Because gluten free flour lacks the same elasticity qualities of its glutenous counterpart fresh out of the oven they break and tare easily. 

As always I wrap, bow, and give away! These went to a going away party for the chiropractic assistant at Guilderland Family Chiropractic where I now work, and to Schotts Boxing. Sadly the boxers in training can't eat such treats- but it doesn't mean the trainers and people like myself who go for a good work out can't! I must admit I didn't feel quite so guilty after baking and eating some of these that day since the workout was so intense! 

Life's all about balance - work hard- play hard and ENJOY!