Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make Your Own Starbucks Bottled Frappe


It's flippin' hot outside folks! Who's ready for Fall/Winter? This girl! Until then, I'm doing my best to stay as cool as possible by basking in the AC, only going outside when I need to get to where I'm going, and by experimenting with iced drinks.

The next few days are going to be scorchers, as well as early mornings for Randall and me. Our plans changed earlier this week, and we are now making our morning drive to Nashville tomorrow. Seeing as how we're far, far away from being considered early risers, we're going to need our caffeine fix to function properly. But there's nothing worse than drinking a HOT drink when it literally feels like you're walking through hell outside.

Ew.

After experimenting with brewing coffee, using the blender, adding this and that, I finally found the simplest, delicious, thirst quenching, iced coffee. This recipe does not require a coffee maker (what's more irritating that brewing coffee early in the morning, only to have it cool in the fridge after it's done?), or a blender. And the taste you'll experience afterwards will remind you EXACTLY of a coffee flavored Starbucks bottled Frappuccino.

What You'll Need:
  2/3 cups Ground Coffee (Any flavor. I used Hazelnut Cream)
3 cups Water
3 tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Milk or Cream

The Night Before:
 Add all ingredients (except milk or cream) into a quart sized jar/container and stir well.

Cover, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

In the Morning:
Strain the coffee base 2-3 times, and store back into the jar/container you used the night before.
(I'd suggest using a sieve with your strainer as well, unlike me)

In a (frosted) drinking glass, fill halfway with ice and pour in coffee until 3/4 full. Add milk or creamer the rest of the way, or to taste.

Finished Product


 Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

 I don't typically do the whole "What I'm Loving Wednesday" posts because I much rather read Nicholl Vincent's posts about her fabulous new life in Miami while I stick to what I know! But this week I want to share all the wonderful adventures (big and small) that I've enjoyed, and the ones I'm looking forward to.

I'm loving that my nephews get to finally come home after being in NICU after almost two months!
You have to read my sister in-law's blog about their journey. These little boys are seriously miracle babies. After finding out the results from the pathology report, it's a huge blessing that they're alive today (and doing great!). Lennox was released yesterday, and Paxton will make his way home in about a week or so!
Lennox!

Paxton!

I'm loving that the papers for the condo will FINALLY be signed on Thursday!
I am beyond ready to start working on the remodeling process! I have saved so many ideas that Randall and I like on Pinterest, I almost feel lost before even starting. Randall is being the practical mind by searching for  major appliances, while I'm thinking more creatively about the decorating. We have made some headway though. Friday, we're driving out to Nashville to pick up our new washer/dryer combo, a few rugs, a wine cooler (possibly), and a few other little things we've ordered. 

Below are some of my favorite inspiration pins!

Randall isn't a huge fan of decorating with colors, so I have to find ways of steering him away from plain old black and gray. We both agree that this cream, gold, and gray color scheme is a good compromise for the bedroom!

 This is another possible color scheme compromise for the bedroom, or living room. I love the white and gray with the turquoise accents. Even this small amount of blue may take some convincing, but I know it'll look great! I'm also in love with the stripes on the wall, but Randall thinks it might be too much trouble. Has anyone had any experience with painting stripes?

Another example of the stripes I love that I'd like to see in the downstairs bathroom. We both agree on the color combo, but I'm still going to have to work to get those stripes!

This might be an easier alternative to the stripes. If I can at least get one wall painted with a stencil, or my beloved stripes, I'll be pleased!

I'm loving my new flavor of cupcakes I made for an order through Macon Bakin' Cupcakes: Lemon Sweet Tea!
What's better than lemon sweet tea on a hot summer day? This is a sweet tea cake with a lemon sweet tea flavored butter cream. It's delicious!

Tea and Cookies! 48 cupcake order filled with my side business, Macon Bakin' Cupcakes!

I'm loving these cheesecake filled strawberries I made for Randall last week!
 This dessert was one of the pins that convinced me to join Pinterest, and I finally got around to making them last week. If you haven't made these yet, you're seriously missing out. I cut off the ends to keep them from falling over, and I dipped the bottom in chocolate to keep the filling inside. Julia, a friend of mine on Facebook, suggested I dip the whole thing in chocolate next time. Why didn't I think of that?!

I'm loving the result of this milk of magnesia face mask!
I posted about my oily skin problem and how I started using this face mask here. After using it for a week, day and night, I've seen a dramatic difference!

 I own every single season of Gilmore Girls, and Rory has always been a character I've admired. I love her personality, intelligence, ambition, and her love for reading! This is list of all the books shown, or mentioned that Rory read throughout the series. I knew that girl loved to read, but I didn't realize there were so many books!

I must have this wine and reading bathroom caddy!
I don't even think I need to explain why this is a must have!

After seeing the entire series almost 5 times, Randall and I are still loving Arrested Development almost every night!
 It's crazy how we are still finding jokes we missed EVERY TIME we watch it. After being cancelled for years, I can't wait for Netflix to start producing new episodes!
 I can't get enough of Buster!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Recipe: The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

It may be more fitting to call this post "Assembling The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich" rather than a recipe. Regardless, this was better than any boring ole' sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit! I got this idea from a pin I had recently seen on Pinterest using hamburger meat. Since I didn't have any, I decided this was a great concept for a breakfast sandwich using sausage instead!




What You'll Need
Sausage
Shredded Cheese
Eggs
Waffles (Homemade is better. If only I had a waffle maker!)
Syrup (optional)

Step 1
Mix cheese into sausage.

Step 2
Roll sausage into a large ball and flatten. Unlike hamburger meat, sausage will stick to a wooden cutting board, so you can use wax paper or do it right on the cool, greased skillet. Make sure your sausage patty is wide and thick enough because it will shrink as you cook it.

Step 3
 Create a hole in the center of the patty using a cup, or small dip bowl (pictured above). Turn on stove to medium and allow the bottom to brown slightly. Make sure you don't turn the heat up too much because cooking eggs on too high of heat can make them rubbery.

Step 4
 Once the bottom has started to brown up a little, crack an egg into the hole in the center. Allow the sausage and egg to cook until the patty puffs up and browns on the sides. There's no need to season the egg because the juices of the sausage will flavor it perfectly.

Step 5
 Carefully flip the patty and allow the other side to cook for a few minutes.

Finished  Product


 Sandwiching the patty between two waffles and drizzling a little bit of syrup creates the perfect sweet and savory taste that your palate craves in the morning.  I already know Randall's going to want me to make these before our drive to Nashville on Wednesday! We're going to pick up a few new appliances for the condo!

Macon Bakin' Cupcakes Tips

Last week, I successfully completed a new kitchen challenge...making a mass quantity of cupcakes. 140 mini cupcakes to be exact. While I'd like to think that I've mastered the art of creating delicious cupcakes, I had never tried to decorate, store, or transport so many at one time. For the most part, everything went smoothly! They all looked beautiful and most importantly, they tasted great!



These cupcakes were presented at Literacy Mid-South's Literatini event this past Thursday night at The Booksellers at Laurelwood, along with yummy martinis from various local restaurants.  I'm honored that Macon Bakin' Cupcakes was able to be a part of this! There was a great crowd as tickets sold out, and the bookstore had some great sales with 20% of all proceeds donated to help better the lives of Memphians who struggle with literacy.


You can still help support Literacy Mid-South by shopping at your local bookstore when you sign up for the Gives Back Program. Not only will you save money, but a portion of every transaction you make will be donated to the community partner of your choosing including, Literacy Mid-South, Le Bonheur, Arts Memphis, WKNO, and Theatre Memphis.

The reviews of my cupcakes were wonderful! I met a lot of people who kept going back for seconds, thirds, and more! If you're ever interested in my cupcakes for an event/holiday/party/etc. you can contact me on my Macon Bakin' Cupcakes facebook page, here.

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As I gathered my ingredients for this venture, I considered sharing my chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake recipe with you all, but that wouldn't make much sense seeing how I have my little side business and all. Instead, I'd like to offer some cupcake bakin' tips that I have learned from numerous mistakes, as well as from the advice of some amazing bakers (such as my beautiful mother).

Tip 1: Costly Butter, Cheap Butter, Fake Butter
When buying your ingredients at the grocery store, it can be tempting to buy the cheap stuff, or margarine. DON'T! Margarine and cheap butter have a higher water content which can cause it to separate when making butter creams. And when baking, less fat and more water can become an overpowering binding agent, causing layers of batter to stick together creating a tougher cupcake.

Tip 2: Creaming Butter at the Right Temperature

Whether you're making cupcake batter or a buttercream frosting, you will have to cream your butter. In order to do this, butter must be at perfect temperature. If it's too hard, you could potentially blow out your mixer (this has happened to me unfortunately), and if it's melted in the least bit your cupcake will be tough. DO NOT put your butter in the microwave. Even if it doesn't look melted, you've allowed too much water to come through the butter, thus creating the binding agent mentioned above.

If you're like me, you probably don't have time to remember to set the butter on the counter an hour before baking in order for it to reach room temperature. So you have two options. 1. Cut the butter into cubes and wait. When you touch a cube and it leaves an imprint of your finger, it's ready. 2. The fastest method for me is to grate the butter. It may get a little messy, but it's worth it being done right and quickly.



Tip 2: Mini Cupcakes
When making mini cupcakes, start out with a normal cupcake batch. The amount of mini cupcakes will be triple the amount of regular sized cupcakes (if your recipe yields 12 normal sized cakes, you'll end up with 36 minis). So depending on how many you want to make, you can always cut the recipe in half. 

Tip 3: Mini Cupcakes Baking Time
 I bake my minis at the same temperature as my normal sized cupcakes. Usually, I cut the baking time down to 10-14 minutes and they always come out perfect. Always check the readiness of your cupcakes by sticking a toothpick (or a fork if you don't have any) in the center. If it comes out 100% clean, they're ready to be taken out of the oven.


Tip 4: Filling Cupcake Liners
Normally when I'm baking regular sized cupcakes, I like to use a cookie dough scooper to fill my liners. This ensures you have a consistent amount of batter in each cup allowing each cake to bake evenly.

But when baking mini cupcakes, even a spoon is too big to fill the liners without making a mess. Instead, I suggest using a pastry bag. If you don't have any pastry bags, you can always cut off the corner of a ziplock bag and use that instead. Using this method keeps the liners and baking pan clean while ensuring 3/4 of the liner is filled.

Tip 5: 
 Cupcake Cooling
After you pull your cupcakes out of the oven, let them cool in the pan for only a minute. Afterwards, carefully remove them by gently tipping the pan, or using a fork to take them out individually, and let them cool on a wire rack (or any other surface if you don't have one). Keeping cupcakes in the pan longer than needs be can cause them to dry out and even seperate from the cupcake liners (another catastrophe I've had happen in the past).


Tip 6: Basic Decorating Cupcakes
Obviously, you need to allow your cakes to cool before applying any type of frosting to prevent it from melting. But if you're frosting a large batch like I did last week, you need to move fast adding any additional toppings after the butter cream is used. In my case, I waited until I had frosted 140 cupcakes before adding my chocolate chips... By the time I went to sprinkle them on, the butter cream was no longer soft enough for them to stick. Hand placing every single chocolate chip on 140 cupcakes is not fun.




Not only do risk more labor in waiting too long, you also risk cracking the beautiful swirls of butter cream. I suggest frosting a few and then add your decorations, and repeat. Or using a baking assistant which I will be doing for the first time ever this week with Jim Jam!



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Those are just a few tips that I can think off the top of my head for now. I'll be sure to share some more in future. This week for Macon Bakin' Cupcakes I'll be making 48 cupcakes for the wonderful nurses who have taken such good care of my little nephews in NICU! They get to come home soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Ongoing Battle Against Oily Skin: Milk of Magnesia Mask

 For years I have been searching for a cure for my oily skin curse.  I've tried countless recommended cleansers, face masks, toners, astringents, you name it. However, the additional problem with my skin is that it is VERY sensitive.  If a product is even the slightest bit harsh, my face transforms into a dry, flaky mess on top of being oily...

Thankfully, I have found some relief in a select few remedies that I'd like to share with all of my fellow greasy faced ladies (and maybe gents?). This is an ongoing battle (especially in the humid, Memphis, summer time heat) as my skin still hasn't quite found a balance. As I discover new, successful treatments, I'll be sure to share.


Milk of Magnesia Mask
This is the most recent (and perhaps the weirdest) oily skin care treatment I've found. While originally made to relieve constipation, this little bottle of wonder also contains disinfecting qualities that help absorb oil without drying out your skin.

How to Use:
On clean skin, wet face with a cool, damp washcloth.

Shake bottle and apply a layer of product on skin.

Let dry for to 5 to 10 minutes and wash with washcloth.

The first time I tried this mask out, it was after my evening skin routine. In the past, even after washing my face and applying skin care products, I would still wake up with slick, greasy skin. But the morning after using the milk of magnesium mask, my skin was only slightly oily!

The next day, I applied the mask before putting on my make up. Usually, I have to blot my face with 2-3 oil absorbing sheets 3-4 times a day! This time around, I only needed to blot twice with just one sheet!

Milk of Magnesium is inexpensive, simple, easy to find, and most importantly, very effective as a skin care product. I highly recommend it, but only to those who experience oily skin. Otherwise, this mask could potentially dry your skin out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Recipe: Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes with Chocolate Gravy

Last night while I was exploring Pinterest (you can follow me here) for inspiration for the new condo, I found a recipe that compelled me to set my alarm for 7AM just to try it. 

Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes. 
Need I say more?



The pancakes were delicious, but the addition of my grandmother's chocolate gravy made it heavenly. I know what most of you are thinking... "Chocolate gravy? Gross!" Right? WRONG! The first time I told Randall I was making biscuits with chocolate gravy, he was horrified. But after trying it, with all of its chocolatey goodness, he didn't want to stop eating even after he was full. 
True story. 

But if you're reluctant to try it (you're missing out!), you can serve these pancakes with chocolate syrup ( homemade recipe located at the end of my Ziploc Bag Ice Cream blog, here), regular syrup, or even by themselves.

Brownie Batter Pancakes: What You'll Need
 1/4 cup Flour
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tbsp. Cocoa Powder (I used unsweetened)
1 tbsp. Splenda + 1 tsp. Sugar (If you prefer, you can switch out Splenda for more sugar)
A dash of Salt
1 & 1/2 tbsp. Oil (or Applesauce)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
5 & 1/2 tbsp. Milk

Step 1
Set stove to medium and lightly grease a frying pan with cooking spray, or butter.

Step 2
Mix flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sweetener and/or sugar, & salt together.

Step 3
 Add oil, vanilla extract, & milk, and mix well.

Step 4
Once pan is hot enough (you can test this by adding a few drops of water. If they immediately bubble and dissolve completely, you're ready for the pancake makin'), pour a little less than 1/4 a cup into the center.

When the pancake starts to bubble up, gently flip it over with a spatula.

Allow pancake to cook for a few more minutes and remove.

Pancake Finished Product

If you really wanted to go chocolate crazy, you can add chocolate chips to the batter!

This recipe makes about 5-6 pancakes. If you need to make more, you can easily double the recipe.

Chocolate Gravy: What You'll Need
4 tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 cup Sugar
2 tbsp. Flour
1 & 1/2 cup Milk
4 tbsp.Butter (1/2 stick)
1 tsp. Vanilla

Step 1
Mix cocoa powder, flour, & sugar together in a sauce pan.

Step 2

Add milk and mix until all ingredients are completely combined (meaning no puffs of cocoa powder on the surface). Turn stove up to medium-high heat.

Step 3
 When the mixture starts to bubble, turn heat down to medium and stir until it reaches a thick, gravy-like consistency.

Step 4
Remove from heat and stir in butter & vanilla extract until completely blended. Allow gravy to cool, and then serve.

Chocolate Gravy Finished Product



 You can serve this with biscuits, pancakes, waffles, etc. I remember when my grandmother served us chocolate gravy with regular pancakes for the first time. It was like having dessert for breakfast! 

This recipe makes quite a bit, so you can store the leftovers in the fridge.

Brownie Batter Pancakes with Chocolate Gravy Finished Product



This is a chocolate lover's dream breakfast. The only thing that could have made it better was a side of chocolate covered bacon!