Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hello Again with Pumpkin Cupcakes!

Hello everyone!

It's Caitlin here. Sorry we have been absent for so long. I have definitely missed the blogsphere.
Just as an update - all of the Peas are now Seniors in College. We have the great fortune of living together in an apartment - which means we pretty much cook and bake all the time. However, we are all extraordinarily busy with schoolwork, jobs, internships, you name it, so our time on here may not be as plentiful as last year. We have made some new friends in the cooking world (shout out to all our friends from Tasty Kitchen!) and as always, our mothers are reading this (if no one else - we can always count on the Mother Peas). Our apron collection has grown by leaps and bounds, and our budgets have decreased to mere figments of imagination. So, when presented with the opportunity to bake cupcakes on someone else's dime - I naturally jumped.

Today the College of Arts and Sciences at LU had a showcase to promote the various majors, departments, and friendly competition between the engineers and the English Majors. (Trust me, Poe would have been proud of us). Well, the English Department commissioned this baker to provide some tasty morsels to bribe unsuspecting freshman to our table while we coerced them with pithy quotes and shiny rhetoric to join our ranks. So, I embarked on a journey of cupcakedom.

I decided on a pumpkin cupcake with cinnamon buttercream icing. It is beginning to be fall here in Tennessee, so I tried to encourage the changing season as much as I could. I think the cupcakes were a hit - and I was asked on multiple occasions for the recipe. So for all you inquiring ones - I give you the keys to the repository. Use them well and remember to pass on the love.

I actually began with a Martha Stewart Recipe as a base, but I am heavy handed with spices - so here is her recipe with my alterations. (You can find hers on her website Pumpkin Cupcakes - Martha Stewart Recipes). I also doubled the recipe - but a word of caution. Her website says it makes 18 cupcakes. I doubled - it and made upwards of 50 cupcakes. YES - 50. I just filled the liners half full - and still had 50. have been warned.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  • Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

  • I tried some new liners this time - and was absolutely thrilled with their results. It was the Reynolds Stay Brite Baked for You liners. Yes - that was a plug. But seriously - I loved the pattern. And they are foil-lined so the design doesn't get lost in the baking. Check them out:

    Then I threw my signature cinnamon buttercream on top:
    • ½ cup unsalted butter
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoons organic cinnamon
    • ⅛ teaspoons salt
    • 1 pound powdered sugar
    • 4 Tablespoons milk
    That is a Caitlin signature icing - and ask the other peas - it is highly addicting. One might even do her room mates dishes to lick the beater. Again - you have been warned.

    The cupcakes went over really well today - so thanks to everyone who came out to the table! While most visitors were my friends who I had warned about the impending arrival of cupcakes, a good number of people were trying my cupcakes for the first time. I would love to know what anyone who tried them thought. Drop me a message, comment, text, tag, link, page, carrier pigeon, smoke signal, tell my mother, etc.

    The other two peas send their love. I am not sure how much we will be on here - but I just wanted to pop in and say hey to our wonderful readers.

    As always, we love you all. Thanks for sticking with us.

    Grace, Peace, and Love.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Love for Chocolate

    Ohhhhh, this picture. Do you know what this is?

    This, my friends...this is happiness.

    You deserve some happiness in your life. You really do.

    But you know what? Today is Friday! So that helps, right?


    And such a day as Friday deserves a celebration, right?


    What a great excuse to get some chocolate! You're welcome! :)

    Happy Friday!

    the Peas

    P. S. No Russell Stover's French Mints were harmed in the taking of this photo. If anything, there were loved and cherished.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Menu Planning: An Open Forum

    Since I was a kid, one of the most fascinating phenomena to me has been grocery shopping.

    Ah, the grocery store--sweet haven of Nutella, fresh bread, and the baking aisle. Is it shameful that I feel contented relief wash over me when I walk into a grocery store--like there's actually a reason to have hope in the world? Then again, this was one of my favorite shows growing up. I like to think I had no chance.

    Come back, Supermarket Sweep! I have missed you greatly. And your conspicuous sweatshirt Peter Pan collars.

    Recently, I have decided to keep my indulgent grocery shopping in check by keeping every receipt I get, and I have done this for a couple of reasons. For one, I can track the prices on frequently purchased items, noting when they go on sale, thus saving myself a bit of money. But also, I am attempting to cut down on my instances of: "How on earth did I justify spending FORTY extra dollars on groceries when I specifically went right after dinner so I wouldn't spend frivolously?!"
    Receipt reviewing...those are dark times. I usually have some chocolate nearby to abate the pain.

    I am consciously aware that I need to nip this irresponsible spending in the bud. Someday, I'm going to find myself in a family as the head of the kitchen, and it's imperative that I know how to spend our limited income wisely. And this is where I'm sure that menu planning would help me out.

    I'm sure most of you are much more experienced than I am in everything that encompasses menu planning: things like dictating which recipes will show up when, re-creating leftovers, and filling up your pantry on a budget. Today, I offer no words of culinary wisdom. Today, I'm asking you for some much-needed help and advice.

    What is your method of menu planning?

    Do you do it at all? Why or why not? If so, what is your time frame for planning? What is your format for planning--spreadsheets or a good ol' fashioned laundry list? Do you use coupons, or do you think they are they a convenient excuse for wasting budget money? How often to you purchase "splurge" items? What convenience items are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of cost? How often do you utilize a farmer's market?

    I'm so eager to hear from you! I know your answers are going to vary, depending on your lifestyle and family size. But that's the beauty of this discussion--there's no right or wrong way to do it...unless you're approaching your shopping the way I am!

    Thanks for your thoughts, dear friends. I don't want to be thrust out into the murky waters of menu preparation without a flashlight. Just think--YOU could be my flashlight, and together we can escape the clutches of frivolous spending and find the path to culinary and familial greatness!

    Too much metaphor? Perhaps. Hints at mental instability? You bet. Aren't you glad you stopped by?!

    Praying earnestly for the return of Supermarket Sweep,

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Happy Pi(e) Day!

    Today is March 14th, which means it's Pi Day! If you've never heard of Pi Day, you must learn about it; it'll give you a fantastic excuse to make and eat dessert. And who doesn't love a great excuse to eat dessert?!


    Let me tell you this: today's date is 3/14. The Greek letter Pi's first few digits of mathematical value are 3.14. Get it?!

    As many of you know, I am not mathematically inclined. In fact, one of the happiest days of my life was a couple of years ago when I walked out of the last math class I would ever have to take. I nearly cried--and I'm not exaggerating.

    Growing up, the only day of math class I ever looked forward to Pi Day, March 14th. Derived from the first three numbers of Pi's mathematical value 3.14, Pi day was the best day in math class in the entire year solely because all of the math teachers would make pies.

    Pie--the only thing that could coax a book nerd with a sweet tooth to memorize numbers she would never care about otherwise.

    I owe so much to that clever math teacher who decided to make a teaching moment out of a clever pun. I remember one teacher who made a wager us students: if any of his pupils could say the first 20 digits of Pi, they would earn a slice of glorious pie. I remember memorizing the first not twenty, but twenty-one digits of Pi--I treated them like they were phone numbers. So in my mind, I was only memorizing three phone numbers to get a slice of pie--a small price to pay. Needless to say, I rattled the numbers off flawlessly in order to get myself a nice slice of pecan pie. The sad thing is that I can remember the flavor of the pie...but I can't remember the actual number.

    3.141...5...9...maybe? That's about all I've got...*sigh*

    I'm missing so many digits. This is disgraceful.

    And that's why I have a food blog...and don't work for NASA. Trust me--it's DEFINITELY in everybody's best interest!

    So in honor of Pi Day, I have decided to give you a pie recipe of my own. I made this pie for my dear friend, Laura Bailey. She is a wonderfully brilliant friend (who probably knows many more digits of Pi than I do) who proclaimed that she wanted--no, needed--a coconut cream pie for her birthday. And because she needed one so much, I made her one. Then again, I didn't really need much prodding to make her pie. So if you ever tell me you want a pie...I will probably make you one.

    Don't tempt me for the sake of it. That would just be cruel!

    Alright friends, let's get down to it: the great thing about this recipe is that it's full of delicious coconut without being overly sweet! I make mine in a graham cracker crust because...well, I actually prefer those over the traditional pastry crust. But if you don't have any graham crackers lying around, this would be great with a traditional crust too! This pie is fantastic in the warmer months--a great way to cool off! Just make sure this is in your life by summertime, ok?


    Coconut Cream Pie (serves 8-10)
    *click here for a printer-friendly version of the recipe*

    For the Crust
    • 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
    • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
    • 1 stick of butter, melted

    For the Filling
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 1 1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

    For the Topping
    • 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
    • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
    To make the Crust:

    To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan and add to the crumb mixture, stirring until everything is moist and just comes together (if you need to add butter or graham cracker crumbs to achieve your desired consistency, that's fine--these numbers are a starting point for you). Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie pan with your palm or the back of a spoon. Set aside, and make pie filling.

    To make the Filling:

    Whisk the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and flour in medium bowl. Bring the milk and coconut to a simmer (a rolling bubble) in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly--you don't want to have scrambled eggs in your pie! Return the mixture to the same saucepan. Cook the mixture until the custard boils then thickens, stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and mix in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Pour the custard to a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface--this prevents a nasty skin from forming on top of the pie. Chill until cold, at least 3 hours. Transfer the filling to crust. Cover and chill overnight.

    At this point, the pie looks like this. Still yummy, but now it's time to dress it up!

    To make the topping:

    Toast the coconut in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

    Using electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar, and coconut extract in medium bowl until stiff peaks form (make sure your whipping cream and beaters are cold--this encourages peaks to form). Spread the whipped cream over top of filling. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the surface of the pie. Serve the pie cold, and devour it!

    Mmm...the wonderful custardy goodness with the whipped creamy's enough to make you swoon! Let's take a closer look.

    Oh, look at that crunchy toasted coconutty goodness...I just wanna swipe my finger across the top of that pie. I'm mischievous like that.

    Darling friends, even if you're not into coconut, MAKE THIS PIE! Many of my friends who aren't coconut people enjoy this pie. And for those of you who enjoy're going to thank yourself for making it.

    Any day that celebrates with pie, even if it's remotely associated with math, is ok with me. I hope you enjoy Pi Day as much as I do!

    Taking every advantage of this blessed day,

    EDIT: To second what Amy said - I too celebrated Pi(e) Day. Mother Pea and I had every intention of making our own pie, but the whole "Spring Forward" thing threw us off. So instead, this Pea went to The Loveless Cafe (one of the best, most celebrated Southern restaurants in Tennessee). There, I had my choice of about 15 pies, I settled on the Southern Pecan Pie. OH MY GOODNESS. Best Pie ever. I still have some left will be eaten on 3.15 The IDES OF MARCH. Beware...

    Cautiously Full,

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Toil and Trouble

    Never fear, dear friends: we are still alive! This is a busy week for the Peas--it's the week before our Spring Break, and all of our professors are conveniently piling on the assignments to ensure our productivity (as our brains will be mush throughout the break). This leaves us with:
    1. Not as much time to cook
    2. Not as much time to blog
    3. Not much willpower to live
    HOWEVER--once we are free from our academic fetters, we will have some glorious time to get busy in the kitchen. Rumor has it that a recipe for coconut cream pie will be posted this weekend.

    Pie and freedom. It's going to be a good weekend.

    I'm just saying.

    Frantically remembering that we're students,
    the Peas

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Why Caitlin and Amy Shouldn't Sit Together in Class

    We're not very good at paying attention.

    Maybe we could pass this off as a visual aid?

    Happy Friday!

    The Peas

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Amy's Lemon Icebox Pie

    Is it just me, or has it been a really long winter this year? How many days has it been gloomy and overcast? How many days has the wind been whipping through the trees, across your cheeks, and into your bones? How many times has it snowed this year?!

    I've been praying for relief since the end of January. But then the groundhog saw his shadow. And I almost wept bitterly.

    But you know what? It's all ok because...

    SPRING IS ALMOST HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It's almost time for taking long walks on sunny days, picking fresh flowers, feeling the green grass under my toes. My friends, it's almost time for the earth to come alive again! I can't tell you how excited I am for longer days and trees with green leaves on them!

    This has been the theme of my thoughts lately. On Friday afternoon, I spotted a beautiful pink pie pan in my lovely friend Ms. Kenna's office. And like any mature person, I rhapsodized over the beauty of the dish and begged her to tell me where she got it. She coyly smiled at me and told me that she'd make a bet with me: if I could put something wonderful and worthy of her affections into that pie pan, I would get to keep the dish.

    Folks, this is a no-brainer: I am a college student. I'm all about the free stuff.

    Ms. Kenna loves the warm weather more than I do, so I knew I had to put something in that dish to remind her of the beautiful sunshine she loves so much. And what says sunshine more than the taste of fresh lemons?

    I think you know where this is going--I made a lemon icebox pie.

    Have you heard of the wonder that is lemon icebox? I think it might be more of a Southern thing. I've lived in the South all my life, so sometimes I just assume that everybody has heard of things like lemon icebox. But as I was making this pie, all of my friends from the North kept asking me what on earth lemon icebox pie was. I was astounded!

    If you've never had lemon icebox, this is going to rock your world! It's super easy, and even more delicious. The fresh lemon flavor reminds me of the fun times to be had in the warmer weather. This pie will be a staple for all of your cookouts and potlucks this summer! Add a homemade graham cracker crust, and people will grovel at your feet.

    Lemon Icebox Pie (serves 8-10)
    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

    For the crust:
    • 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
    • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
    • 1 stick of butter, melted
    For the pie filling:
    • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
    • 1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, or juice of 2 lemons
    • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
    • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
    Make the crust:

    Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan and add to the crumb mixture, stirring until everything is moist (if you need to add butter or graham cracker crumbs to achieve your desired consistency, that's fine--these numbers are a starting point for you). Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie pan with your palm or the back of a spoon. Set aside, and make pie filling.

    Whip up the filling:

    Combine all ingredients into a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat at a medium speed until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into the crust, and smooth the surface. Place the pie into a refrigerator (this the where the "icebox"comes in!), and let it sit overnight or at least 8 hours. Keep the pie chilled until ready to serve.

    My friends, give this recipe a try. Like I said, it's SUPER simple, and it's just so flavorful! You'll wonder how you lived life without it.

    As for the pie pan? I got to keep it. Life is good.

    Not-so-patiently awaiting warmer temperatures,

    P.S. Here's a fun trick: if you heat your lemons in the microwave for about 15 seconds, they'll give you a little more juice. Try it out!

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Crack in Cheesy form...or Amy's Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

    I'm about to do something very, very bad. You're probably going to never speak to me again. You're probably never going to come back to this blog. And you're probably going to hate me. But since we are friends, I've got to be honest with you.

    I'm addicted to garlic cheddar biscuits. And you're about to be too.

    And I don't even care!

    In a word, these things are amazing. The ingredients are right in your pantry. They're so simple to whip up, you can have yourself a batch in about 15 minutes. And I don't know what it is, but these little babies are just so good.

    So when you're wondering what's going to accompany the chicken you're having for the fifth night in a row because it was on sale for $1.19/lb and we're in a recession and you just can't allow yourself to upgrade to the $2.99/lb chuck roast because it's too extravagant, you should make these. Your family won't even remember that you're having leftover leftovers!

    That last paragraph might have been venting. I have given all of my funds for my education, and therefore, the betterment of society. I keep telling myself this and hoping that somebody will pay me something someday to do something. Maybe one day, I'll be able to afford a chuck roast.
    And what a beautiful day that will be.

    But I digress.

    Come with me, my friend. Your life will never be the same.

    Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
    (yields about 12-15 biscuits)

    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*
    • 1 1/4 cup flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/3 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup cheddar, shredded or cubed (I prefer cubed)
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), melted
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • parsley flakes, for garnish (if you're into that sort of thing)
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add cheddar and milk, and mix with a fork until well incorporated, when the dough follows the fork around the bowl. Place 1 tablespoon of dough on a greased cookie sheet, making sure the dough balls stay 2 inches apart. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes, until cheese is melted and biscuits are golden.

    While the biscuits are in the oven, make the garlic butter. Melt the butter, and stir in garlic powder and parsley (if using). When biscuits come out of the oven, immediate baste them with the garlic butter. Let them stand for a few minutes to absorb the garlic butter, and ravenously enjoy.

    I'm sorry for what this might do to your thighs...and then I'm not sorry. Look at it this way: in your arsenal, you now have a recipe that is (1) quick and easy to make and (2) a definite crowd pleaser. And that's all any cook could ask for, right? Right?!

    Right. At least I feel justified.

    Happy cooking,

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    Great Deals at the Hip Hostess Site!

    My friends, I have some exciting news! Debbie at The Hip Hostess has extended a generous offer to our readers. Until March 31st, readers of Three Peas in a Kitchen can enter the special promotional code 3PEAS (make sure it stays in all caps) to receive 20% off their entire order!

    These would make WONDERFUL gifts for any fashionista in the kitchen. Also, check out their beautiful set of tea towels, which would be perfect for any bridal shower...or even as a gift to yourself. And don't forget about those adorable aprons for cooks in training!

    This offer expires March 31st, so check them out soon. I know I will!

    Loving some savings,

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    This Is Amy's Grown-Up Christmas (or birthday...or whenever anybody wants to buy me a gift...) List

    As a young adult, I have many dreams and aspirations. I want to go to graduate school. I want to have a family. In my wildest dreams, I would run my own dining establishment with all of my friends and be as merry as the day is long.

    I also have a wish list. Yes, a culinary wish list. Actually, it's the only laundry list of things I want floating around in my head right now. I won't totally geek out on you and list everything, but I wanted to share these with you, my dear friends. Maybe you'll get them someday and show them to me. Maybe you'll even share them with me. Maybe you'll even buy them for me...

    Sorry. I don't make friends just so they'll buy me things. Promise.

    I promise!

    This, my friends, is not a cute little sheath dress. It is, in fact, an APRON! And it is entirely too adorable for me not to own. It's part of the collection of aprons at The Hip Hostess. They also make aprons in small sizes, so you can get one for your daughter too. Better yet, you could MATCH!

    Oh. Too cute. Way too cute. Must stop with the cuteness.
    This is a beautiful cast iron dutch oven. Not only can you set these babies on the stove--they're safe to put in the oven as well! The iron allows for more even cooking. My grandmother's has lasted her for YEARS...and years...and years. Truth be told, I don't know how long she's had hers. But this is a good sign--they last for a while. That's my kind of cooking tool.

    This beautiful specimen is a Calphalon stockpot. Again, there are SO many things I could do with this. I could make lots of stock for my beloved soups. I could make pasta galore without having to worry about the water boiling over. Maybe I could use it in the summertime for my attempts at canning. There are just so many possibilities.

    This makes me giggle every time I look at it. HA! It's a silicone pot holder. It's probably one of the best things I have ever seen.

    I am easily amused. Surprise, surprise.

    I know, I know. But you know you've thought of this too.

    Ahhh, to dream the impossible dream. Maybe not impossible...we'll see. I do want one though. And I would use it ALL THE TIME. But I don't have to justify that to you. I think you understand.




    I'm curious: What's atop your culinary wish list?

    Anxiously awaiting your responses so I can add more things to my wish list,


    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Amy's Creamy, Comforting Potato Soup

    It's the tail-end of February. For the South, this means that Mother Nature teases us with the weather patterns, giving us spring-like temperatures one day and a blizzard the next. And for those blustery cold days, God gave us the ability to forage our supplies and make something to combat such weather.

    And that, my friends, is potato soup.

    For as long as I can remember, I have adored all things potato--much like the rest of the human race. And since I was a kid, my mom has made potato soup. Luckily for me, it was our go-to supper during the winter months, and my siblings and I would happily lap up every last drop--and then some. We would fight over the leftovers, which is something my mom relished.

    The fighting over leftovers--not with each other. There were many punishments for those.

    Those soup has garnered me many friends, and even helped me win an Iron Chef competition. A guy once told me it tasted like something his grandma would make. I think that was my proudest moment ever. It it my dream to become a terrific grandmother.

    No, I'm serious.

    Creamy Potato Soup (serves 10-12)
    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*
    • 8-10 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 8 oz. cream cheese
    • 1 can cream of celery soup
    • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • Salt and Pepper, to taste
    • Milk, to thin as desired
    • Cheddar cheese, as desired
    • Green onions, as desired
    In a dutch oven or a large saucepan, boil potatoes and onions til fork-tender. Add cubes of cream cheese to mixture and stir until the cheese melts. To this mixture, add creamy soups. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and milk (if desired). Serve up the bowls, and garnish with cheddar and green onion.

    Seriously, it's that easy. You could saute some carrots, celery, or mushroom and add them in. You could add a cup--or two--of cheddar, and it would just be lovely. That's the great thing about cooking--you get to adapt things to your taste. I'm just giving you the outline of your masterpiece.

    And this soup is just so good, especially when it looks like that outside. I hope it warms your belly and spirit as much as it does mine!

    Peas and love,

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Caitlin's Cupcake Sunday!

    It's Cupcake Sunday here in a highly unusual 60 degree Nashville. 3 Days after my 21st birthday, I felt inspired to make a new batch of cupcakes. After extensive searching and inner reflection, I decided that I was going to try my hand at Snickerdoodle cupcakes. Now, to give credit where credit is due - I was inspired by Bakerella's Snickerdoodle Cookie/Cupcakes and Martha Stewart's Snickerdoodle Cupcakes. I actually followed Martha's recipe with a few minor alterations.

    I went home to bake these delicious little guys. My mom has one of the best kitchen's around. "Never skimp on tools for your kitchen. Always pay up for the best quality - you won't regret it." Janet AKA Mother Pea. (This is probably not a direct quote - but it's good enough) So, my mother has provided me with an ideal workspace. #1 Item that I couldn't bake without:

    A Kitchen Aid mixer is my favorite kitchen appliance. This guy can whip, blend, or do whatever else you want. It is the perfect baker's best friend. If you treat him (or her) well, it can do great things for you. I digress...

    Like I said, I followed Martha's recipe.

    Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream (Makes 24)
    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
    • 4 large eggs, room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 cups milk


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

    With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

    Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

    Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
    To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

    What I changed: I didn't have my cake flour at home, sadly. So, instead I took 1 tablespoon of flour out of every cup called for in the cake flour part - and substituted 1 tablespoon of powdered cornstarch. I did this at the recommendation of many fine bakers on the internet. It is crucial to use this substitution, because this type of cupcake calls for a fluffier cake. Just using All-Purpose flour will create a much denser cake. (All this I learned today). This worked like a charm, and I will certainly use that sub. again.

    It should also be noted that I am an eyeballer when it comes to measurements. So for things like vanilla, cinnamon, and salt - I generally just gauge it. I also used an organic cinnamon instead of a regular one - because I find the taste fresher and cleaner.

    I also combined some cinnamon and sugar and the sprinkled it on the individual cupcakes before I baked them. This created a nice crunchy crust on the top of the cupcake under the icing. It's like a surprise crunch!

    Now Martha's recipe calls from her Seven-Minute Frosting - which uses egg whites. I personally don't like meringue-like icing, so I went ahead and used my icing recipe from the last post with (again) some minor changes. Instead of using vanilla bean paste, I used pure vanilla extract and about 2 tablespoons of my organic cinnamon. Mix it all together and top the cupcakes. I am also a fan of sprinkling something on top of the icing - like my organic cinnamon.

    Cooking Story: During this baking session, right when I was about to put batch two of the cupcakes in the oven - the power went off in my whole neighborhood. Dread came over me as I realized I had cupcakes in the oven, no icing, and no refrigeration. What to do...what to do. So I go out on the porch and partake in the customary "YOUR POWER OUT? YEAH. MINE TOO." - this is what always happens in our neighborhood. So, I come back inside and read my new Kindle for a bit. All the while, becoming more anxious at the thought of not being able to finish these little guys before I head back to school. But, the electricity gods where with me, and poof! Suddenly I had power again. My fears were quelled and as was well.

    Back to present day - I am going to have these in the dorm if anybody wants one. Come on by - you are always welcome! Enjoy this wonderful weather and great natural light, Nashvillians. I fear it will not stay long. So, grab a cupcake and head outside.

    Grace and Peace,

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Cultured Cupcakes

    Guess what. So those cupcakes I posted yesterday? They are the featured item on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen Dessert Page. Amy called me into her room and we both proceeded to scream and jump around. So exciting. Go check it out!

    Grace and Peace,
    Publish Post

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Caitlin's Customary Cupcakes

    Last 4th of July I decided to make a batch of berry-decorated cupcakes. From there, my love of cupcakes only grew. I started making all kinds of cupcakes: vanilla, mocha, pumpkin, peppermint. I would bake them on Sunday at my house and then bring them to school and pass them out. There never had to be an occasion, just a love. I now have a wonderful collection of cupcake themed things that I gathered in the past year.

    Through all of this, one cupcake recipe has stood out among the rest. On a whim, I decided to make almond cupcakes. I didn't know if they would work out at all, but the cupcake muses were with me that day - and this recipe was born. So, I give to you, wonderful readers, my most treasured recipe for Almond Cupcakes with Ultimate Buttercream Icing and Topped with Cinnamon. (Yields 18, so you might want to double it)

    Almond Cupcakes with Ultimate Vanilla Buttercream (makes 18)
    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

    2 cup of flour
    2 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/8 tsp. salt
    1 cup of unsalted butter, soft
    3 1/2 oz. almond paste
    1 cup of sugar
    1 cup of milk
    3 large eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    Preheat to 350.

    Whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. In another bowl, mix butter, almond paste & sugar until light & fluffy - 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time. On low, alternately add milk & flour mixture. Stir in vanilla. Fill cups 2/3 full and then bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until done.
    I know it sounds weird to use almond paste - but it really works. You need to heat it up a little to make it pliable before you use it. In the store it is normally in the highest, furthest corner of the baking isle - near the marzipan and other such things. I really wouldn't try and substitute almond extract for the paste - it would make it too runny. But, if you want a more almondy flavor, I am sure you could add some extract in too.

    Now let those puppies cool completely before piping on this awesome butter cream (Yield 2 c.)

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
    3 to 5 Tbsp. milk

    Cream the butter, vanilla bean paste, and salt together. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk until creamy. You may need to add in some more milk or sugar until you get a consistency you want. I like a really stiff consistency just so my ridges in the icing don't fall apart. Then pipe on the icing with a fun wavy tip. Sprinkle cinnamon on top for added flavor and prettiness.
    I love these, and I hope you do to! Let me know what you think.

    Grace and Peace,

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Recipe by Amy: My Favorite Salsa

    For as long as I can remember, I have been CRAZY about salsa--as in, I can eat it...and eat it...and eat it...and stay in love with it. Like there are days when I crave salsa. Like I judge restaurants based on the quality of their salsa and whether I will be dining there again. Like I rhapsodize about salsa to the point when I should feel shameful. But I don't.

    My name is Amy, and I'm a salsaholic.

    Naturally, I have been experimenting with salsa recipes for many years. I've added everything from vinegar and lemon juice to red pepper flakes and coriander, just to see if I could find that extra little oomph. But now I have a recipe that I absolutely adore--and that, my friends, is because I add lime!

    Over the years, I have realized that salsa is a very personal thing, and that many people enjoy very different things when it comes to salsa. I like mine spicy, chunky, and full of cilantro. On the other hand, my mother prefers salsa that's mild and smooth--and that's ok too. I heartily encourage you to play around with this recipe. More than anything, this is just an example of the proportions you can use. But in actuality, the sky's the limit! Have fun with it!

    Amy's Favorite Salsa (yields 4 cups)
    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

    1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, with juice
    2 cans of Rotel tomatoes
    1/3 cup diced onion
    1 clove of garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
    1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    1/4 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon lime juice
    1/3 cup of chopped cilantro

    In a blender or a food processor, combine all of the ingredients. Pulse a few times on low for a chunky salsa, or puree for a smoother consistency. Chill for at least an hour to let the flavors get cozy with each other. Serve and enjoy your addiction.

    Ahh, a bowl full of love. If your mother asks you to make it when you come home from school, you know you've done something right.

    Peas and love,

    Recipe by Miranda: Sweet Corncake with Strawberries

    A few months ago, the "three peas" and a friend of ours competed in an "Iron Chef" competition on our campus. We had all watched the show many a time, and we wanted to give it a shot ourselves... So, we recruited a chairman, a camera guy, three food critics, and some friends to come enjoy all the food.
    Our chairman chose corn to be our secret ingredient, so we had to concoct an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert using corn. Now a dessert with corn....ehh? We weren't sure what to do. But then, I remembered my mom's corncake recipe, which is one of my favorite things she makes--and she is quite a little chef! So, we decided to make the corncake and add strawberries on top of it for a sweet, surprising twist.
    It was a hit!
    The corncake is wonderful alone! You can pair it with something savory--a Mexican dish, chili, etc. But, the strawberries give it a sweet flair, which is also fun to try!

    So, here's how to make this sweet treat:
    Now, first of all, I need to say that my style of cooking is not exact. I really like to "eye-ball" measurements. Instead of following recipies, I usually like to take a recipe and tweak it or make up something on my own. Naturally, these attempts do not always end in glory--sometimes they end in great failure...but that is the fun of it for me! So, here is the recipe, but play around with it a little bit to fit your taste buds....

    Sweetened Corncake with Strawberries (about 10-12 servings)
    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

    2 small boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix
    2 eggs
    2/3 cup of milk
    1/4 cup of sour cream (you can add a bit more for an extra creamy cake)
    1 can creamed corn
    2-3 tbs of sugar (depending on how sweet you like it...i think it's better when it's sweeter)

    Mix it all up in a bowl.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then bake it in a greased 9x13 pan for about 20 minutes. Edges should be golden brown, but be careful not to over-bake. When it's done, it should still be soft in the middle.

    It's creamy. It's sweet. It's really quite delightful.

    Now, for the strawberries...

    Simply slice the strawberries and put them in a bowl. Liberally dust them with sugar, and mix it up. Let the strawberries and sugar marry together in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. More time in the fridge is better...the longer they're in the fridge, the more juice the strawberries will release, the more sweet strawberry sauce you will end up with.

    Now, when the cake is cooled, dish it up and enjoy. Enjoy it with the strawberries. Enjoy it without the strawberries. Maybe, you can even think of some other fruit, veggie, etc. to try with the cake?

    Hope you all try this recipe, play with it, and enjoy this corncake as much as I do!

    Peace and Joy,


    Friday, February 12, 2010

    No new food, but thoughts by Caitlin

    So, recently I have started really keeping track of what I eat - just as an experiment to see what all I put in my body. I have been diligently documenting the things that I eat and looking at the breakdown of all the foods. Why? - you ask? Well, for one it is one of my new years resolutions to be more aware of what I am eating. Two - I wanted to see what my caloric in take would be as a college student who doesn't eat many of her meals off campus.

    On our campus, we have a Blue Coast Burrito, a Chick-fil-a, a Pizza Hut, some sort of off-brand Sub Shop, and our Cafeteria. Oh, and of course, a Starbucks. On any given day, students here will consume Starbucks and AT LEAST one of those other restaurants. While that doesn't seem so bad in theory, imagine when you lived at home and only had something like those places once a week. Doesn't seem unreasonable. However, living in a college campus means that pretty much all we eat is in the form fast food.

    Now, you could say, why not just buy all your food at the store and prepare it in your dorm room? Well, problem #1: We have to buy a meal plan if we live on campus. This means we shell out upwards of $1000 of already bought food each semester. So, it would be ridiculous for us not to spend that when our parents have already paid for it. Problem #2: As a college student, I don't have a ton of extra money to spend on full groceries every week in addition to having a meal plan. Problem #3: We have no way to prepare meals in the dorms other than the small, under-equipped, and usually occupied dorm kitchen. We can't have anything other than a microwave, coffee pot, and blender in our room.

    So, this all leads to eating many meals on campus. We can make a concerted effort to attempt healthy choices in these venues, but even then there is still a level of unhealthiness present in the best meals.

    Going back to the food tracker idea, I kept track of what I would eat in a normal day on campus. Based on a normal 2000 calorie diet - any normal college student would blow through those in a heartbeat. So to prempt that, I have started working out 3 times a week at a gym and doing yoga on the others. With the added exercise and healthy choices - it is still very difficult to maintain a healthy level of caloric intake in a day. It is no wonder so many college student gain weight when they head to school, it feels like we are set up to live unhealthier life styles.

    I didn't mean for this to be a rant on college food, but rather a look into what I have been eating. This is my Junior year, so I can only imagine HOW much of this stuff I have eaten regularly. I know I have gained weight since I have been at college. Now it is time to get rid of it. I am increasing my awareness, choosing healthier options and hoping my exercising pays off. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Grace and Peace,

    PS. Keep your eye out on Sunday for a new cupcake recipe from me. I have one brewing...

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Ruminations by Amy: Making Lemons Out of Lemonade...Sorta

    Remember when I lamented over my uneven cake? And remember when I said it would come back to haunt me? And remember when we at Three Peas told you we weren't experts? Well, my friend, now you will be able to revel in all of these things as I tell you my story.

    So I have a dear friend whose name is Mrs. Kenna. She is an admirable woman who pours love and warmth into the hearts of everyone she meets. Monday happened to be Mrs. Kenna's birthday, and she is definitely the kind of person who deserves a surprise party. And so, my friends and I decided to give her one.

    I happen to know that one of Kenna's biggest temptations is chocolate, so I knew that the chocolate-on-chocolate cake combination would be, in her terms, "killer." I also knew that the butter in the frosting would make her absolutely swoon, so of course I had to make the cake for her. Unfortunately, when I took the cake out of the oven, it was a little uneven. I frosted the cake and thought to myself that Mrs. Kenna wouldn't mind how the cake looked; she would still eat it and tell me she loved me, and I might be able to save a bit of my pride. I let the frosting harden on the cake for about 6 hours when I decided that it would be ok for me to put the lid on top of the cake pan. Oh, but I was wrong. So very wrong.

    The next morning, I discovered that not only had the frosting run off the top of the cake and congealed on the corners, but the cake itself had MIRACULOUSLY RISEN and stuck to the top of the cake lid!!!! It was the kind of gross, "I'm-going-to-pull-the-entire-top-of-the-cake-off-and-it's-going-to-look-terrible" stuck.

    And unfortunately, I discovered this fifteen minutes before the party.

    I put the cake down, ran to get Mrs. Kenna, and decided to say a little prayer for inspiration.

    Luckily, we ended up surprising Mrs. Kenna so well that she jumped out of her skin when we finally lured her to her party! While Kenna was getting showered with love, I retreated into the corner to figure out how on earth I could salvage the cake. I carefully pulled off the lid, but it was no use--I had ripped off a nice chunk off the top of the cake.

    This...was devastating. Then God saved me.

    It was then that I looked at the tombstone candle I had bought, and looked back at the cake. Somehow, I noticed that the ruined area resembled...a fresh burial plot (I know...I know). And so I would make a kind of mock momento mori birthday cake.

    I need help. I know.

    But I know Kenna very well, and I knew that her sense of humor could handle such a cake. And she LOVED it!

    Trust me. I know this is heinous.

    Mrs. Kenna, thank you for still being my friend even though I present you with such a heinous token of love on your special day. I am seeking help very soon; I promise.

    I cannot help but laugh every time I look at this picture. We told you we weren't experts...but I think it's definitely more humorous that way.

    Peace and love,

    P.S. Kenna now keeps the candle on her desk at work. I now feel justified in my failures.

    P. P. S. The pink star candles add a little something extra, I think.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Recipe by Amy: Quick-Fix Chocolate Cake with Easy Fudge Frosting

    One of the best discoveries of humankind would have to be chocolate. Let's just stop for a second and think about it.


    Right about now, you probably have a goofy grin on your face (unless you're one of the unfortunate people who don't like chocolate. If so, I'm sorry. You're really missing out.). You're probably daydreaming about the last time that euphoric sense of awesome enveloped your entire being as the bite melted in your mouth. Well...maybe I have something wrong with me. But I blame that on my mother; she is a veritable chocoholic.

    I'm sorry, Mom. I still love you.

    It just so happens that chocolate is one of the most universally liked foods in our society. And if you're like me, there are days when nothing but chocolate will do. And sometimes, there is (*gasp*) NO CHOCOLATE TO BE FOUND IN THE HOUSE! On those days, I am seriously bummed when all I can find is in my cabinet is a tin of cocoa powder.

    But fear not, my friends. There are quick solutions to such problems, and they are sitting right in your pantry! It's quick and easy, and you won't be sacrificing any flavor--or money. Come on. I will show you.

    Quick-Fix Chocolate Cake with Easy Fudge Frosting (serves 12)
    *Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

    Here are my partners in crime:

    I'm using canola oil, a box cake mix (they are cheap and good for the quick fix), eggs, powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla.

    First, make the cake according to the box's instructions. For some of you, making cakes is yesterday's news. However, I'm still going to walk us all through the process.

    P.S. For those keeping score, these boxes are about $1.25, depending on where you shop. However, there will be homemade batters later in the blog. I promise.

    Today is all about the quick fix!

    This is a WONDERFUL bottle of Honduran vanilla given to me by my dear friend Lauren Bickel. Fun fact: you can pick up a bottle of this stuff at your local Latin foods market for around $5. It's really STRONG, so I'd adjust your recipes accordingly. I usually add about half of the amount the recipe calls for. Plus, I love the smell. Thank you, Lauren Bickel. Let's be friends for a long time.

    Alright, you guys--I gotta keep it real. This is my mixer, brought to you by Wal-Mart for $15. It's not fancy, but she does the job admirably well. You're going to need one of these for the cake and the frosting.

    By the way, if you just happen to want to buy me a beautiful KitchenAid stand mixer, I will be your best friend forever.

    But I digress.

    Dump all of the ingredients into a pretty bowl that will match the pretty yolks. The rest of the contents will be pretty as well, and you'll just have a pretty picture altogether. I can feel the hunger pangs already coming on with this one picture. Uh huh.

    But then you'll beat the batter for two minutes, and it'll look much better. I promise.

    In fact, your batter will look so good that you will look at your beater and contemplate consuming said batter on said beater while your can of off-brand diet coke looks on with curiosity.

    And you will consume the batter. And you will feel so much better about life.

    And then, you will pour your batter into a greased pan(s) of your choice. Don't you remember that you greased the pan? You don't? Well, you did. And you know what else you did? You preheated your oven too. You're really on the ball today!

    Pour your batter into your greased pan (don't forget to smooth it out!) and place it into your preheated oven. Bake according to the package directions; a 13x9 (inch) pan is about 30 minutes.

    While your cake is baking, you should utilize your time and distract your cravings by making frosting. Now people have very diverse opinions about frosting: some prefer none, others ( think the more, the merrier. Let me just tell you now--this is a wonderfully rich icing inspired by my Granny. She makes the BEST chocolate sheet cake in the WORLD (no really, she does). She mixes pecans in her frosting, and every time she makes it, I cannot stop eating it. I'm making this cake for a crowd, so to be on the safe side, I opted against the pecans. However, you feel free to toss them in there.

    Let's get started.

    Gently pour 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder in your bowl.

    The milk! I forgot to put milk in my ingredients photo. You're going to need this because...

    You're going to add 5 tablespoons of milk in with the cocoa powder.

    And then you're going to add one stick of glorious melted butter.

    And then you mix the ingredients. I used a fork, but I think you'd get better results with a whisk. My mother is going to kill me because she got me a BEAUTIFUL set of whisks for Christmas.

    Thanks, Mom. I promise I'll remember to use them from now on.

    Then stick that mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil while you make great shadow puppets in an attempt to take a photo. Don't cook it--just bring to a boil while stirring every so often, and take it off the heat.

    That's right--you are now looking at the finished product. "But Amy--WHERE ARE THE REST OF THE STEPS?!?" Well friends, I am sorry. I have failed you. I did not get any pictures of the process after I took the chocolate mixture off of the stove. But never fear: I shall tell you what to do.

    Dump the mixture into a bowl. Pour in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Gradually pour in your powdered sugar cup-by-cup. Eventually, I added about 4 cups. My Granny didn't even use cups--she just gradually worked in a whole box of powdered sugar. But the beauty of this frosting is that you can make it as thick or thin as you want--all you have to do is adjust the amount of powdered sugar! So no worries, my friends. It shall be a lovely frosting indeed.

    Great news: the cake is done! You can tell by sticking a clean toothpick into the center and pulling it out. If it's free of batter, then it's done! But by looking at this cake, you can already tell that my cake is not even--I didn't smooth out my batter very well. This will prove to haunt me later. Details to come.

    Frost your cake while it's still warm. I didn't do a very good job frosting, but hey--why do you care? You're in a quick-fix, remember? You're just ready to consume it!

    Sometimes you might want to share your quick-fix cakes--such was the case with this particular cake. It might behoove you to have fun candles like this on hand just in case you have a great friend with an even greater sense of humor. This candle would actually help save my day--nay, an entire party. Details to come on this; it's quite a hilarious story.

    But meanwhile, you have the leftover frosting to eat. And your day just got a thousand times better.

    I hope this cake (or even just the frosting) brings you much joy and rapture. Here is the classic recipe breakdown:

    Quick-Fix Chocolate Cake with Easy Chocolate Frosting

    For Cake:
    1 box of chocolate cake mix
    3 eggs
    3/4 cup oil
    1/2 cup water

    For Frosting:
    5 tablespoons cocoa powder
    5 tablespoons milk
    1 stick melted butter
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 box of powdered sugar (adjust for thickness)
    1/2 cup of crushed pecans (optional)

    Preheat the oven according to the package directions on the mix box and grease your pan (s). Pour all of the cake ingredients in a bowl and beat for 30 seconds on low, then 2 minutes on high. Pour the batter into the greased pan(s), and place into the oven for the allotted cooking time (my 13x9 pan was in for 30 minutes). Place the baked cake on a counter to cool slightly.

    Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Pour the cocoa, milk, and butter into a bowl. Mix the ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Pour mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture reaches a boil, take it off the heat. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl, and add vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until ingredients are well incorporated and have reached your desired thickness. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency, add less for a thinner consistency. If adding pecans, stir them in now.

    Frost the cake while it is still warm, and enjoy thoroughly.

    Peace (Peas?) and love,