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Got a Toothache? Me Too! Screw That, Let’s Eat Cupcakes.

14 Mar

A couple of weeks ago, I started to experience a constant, throbbing pain in my jaw. I quickly realized that this was due to a wisdom tooth which has, over the years, been commented on by several dentists and oral surgeons, including one who told me I should undergo a cosmetic procedure to correct my “oddly-shaped head.” Perhaps you can see, now, why I’ve gone so long with these extra teeth in my pie hole.

The above is a photo I took of the x-ray of my mouth (I was bored, jittery and in pain, and I decided to get creative) taken by the loudest, most distracted doctor I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. So here I am guys, letting ya’ll in, inviting you to see right through me. Do you feel that connection? Do you…FEEL it?

Now, I won’t go into all the gory details of what the hell the problem was, but let’s just say I walked out of that office feeling awesome, and leave it at that. Also, my spirits have lifted just a tiny bit since my last crazy-emo post, mostly due to the fact that this very blog got a tiny little mention in Serious Eats, a site that I absolutely love. Hooray for Sad Shibow!

That little tip o’ the hat encouraged me to get to work on a new creation. Armed with a new electronic icing decorator, an amazing-sounding recipe and way more basil than two people really need in one apartment, I started on my Basil-Olive Oil Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing. Just a little tidbit to get all of you grown-ups excited: there’s wine in this recipe! WINE! Don’t believe me? Well, ADULTS, let me show you the exact brand that I used (if you haven’t already, you might want to avert the eyes of any children whom you are trying to shield from the cruel, profane world I inhabit):

Gifted to us at our housewarming by Sylvapotamus, who probably lived up to the name of this wine after checking out the new crib!

Basil Olive Oil Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces of fresh basil leaves

3 eggs

Juice and zest of one lemon

1 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of sweet white wine (And a few little sips for you, my dear 21+ readers)

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

big pinch of salt

In a large bowl, combine olive oil and basil, and let sit for at least an hour. Then strain out as much of the oil as you can– you should be left with about 2/3 cup– through a sieve. Discard the basil leaves (or save them and make basil-infused olive oil!) and combine olive oil with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Then beat in eggs, one at a time, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add 1/3 of this dry mixture to the oil mixture, mixing until fully incorporated. Then add half of the wine, continue mixing, and continue alternating between adding dry mixture and adding wine until all of the ingredients are in one big happy bowl. Scoop mixture into prepared muffin tins, and bake at 350º F for about 25 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden and spring back when touched. Let cool, then make your icing.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (enough to gently frost a dozen cupcakes)

4 ounces of cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese

1 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

With a hand mixer on medium speed, combine all ingredients until fluffy and fully mixed. Using a rubber spatula, piping bag or super-fantastic electronic icing decorator given to you by Sylvapotamus for Christmas, pipe frosting out onto each cupcake.

I'm being really real with you guys. Observe the well-frosted cake surrounded by some pretty shabby-looking friends.

So, verdict? Delicious. Really, really good, especially when warm. Also, these were not too sweet, which I appreciated. The only real downside was that I wasn’t able to detect very much basil. I would still, and probably WILL still, make these again, perhaps infusing a different fruit next time around. Though I guess I should probably take a break from the sweets for a while, given my recent tooth ailment…

…yeah. Fat chance of that.

I’m Baking Coconut Cakes, and I’m Baking Them Indian Style.

24 Jan

That’s because I have no counter space and have to sit on the floor. Ba dum bum.

Still there? Cool. So, the new kitchen is taking some getting used to. I have no counter space. That is not an exaggeration. In my old apartment, if I needed to reach something on the top shelf of a cabinet, I’d climb onto a tabletop and grab my prize. Here, I would have to find a way to straddle the stove in order to reach anything up high. If you know me, you know I will not be able to find a way that does not involve burning my lower half somehow. So, if you happen to see a recipe for a Brown Bottom Roast in the next couple of weeks, you’ll know why. You’ll also know not to make that particular dish yourself.

So even though I’ve been spending quite a bit of time getting to know my kitchen floor a little better, baking in the new place has been fun. My boyfriend painted the space a really pretty colonial blue– it was piss yellow before (I’m convinced that if you walk into Benjamin Moore and ask for the color “piss yellow,” they will hand you a bucket of the repulsive grime that coated our walls, even though they should probably just flush it all to hell)– so now sometimes I even bake when I’m not sad! What?!*

Anyway, this past weekend, we had a housewarming party that God decided to decorate with the first real snow of the winter. That meant that we were frantically running around in slippery, sleet-y weather getting together last-minute necessities. It also meant that one of us slipped and fell on her brown bottom [roast] and cursed the gallon of milk that anchored her to the ground for a good couple of minutes. Then she went home, cried, shook and churned out some mini coconut cakes for the party. Then they both got ready, ate cheese, drank wine, and partied, and everyone lived happily ever after forever. The End. Let’s do this!

Mini Coconut Cakes (makes 24 individual cakes, or an 8-inch round cake if you prefer)

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups of dried coconut (you can use sweetened or unsweetened, but I used sweetened because I had a ton left over from my fat bunny cake, and because it’s yummy)

4 large egg whites

Pinch of salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) of melted and slightly cooled butter

2 tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons of sweetened dried coconut for sprinkling over the batter

Preheat your oven to 375ºF, and grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine sugar, flour and coconut, then set aside. In a separate large bowl, whisk together egg whites and salt until smooth, then add in butter and lemon zest and stir until fully combined. Add dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. The mix should look a little lumpy and soggy, which is exactly what you want anything you make to look like:

Using a teaspoon, spread batter evenly among muffin tins, and then send this into the oven until the tops are deeply golden, which should take about 15 minutes. I’d also rotate the pan about halfway through cooking, unless you want some uneven toasting, like this:

Guess what I didn't do! Guess!

Turn these out onto a rack and let them cool completely before enjoying. Seriously, they’re much better when they’ve cooled, mostly because your tongue’s not burnt. Once cooled, these were a pretty big hit. This was actually the second batch that I’d made in two days, because a good portion of the first batch had mysteriously vanished from the kitchen. Methinks the new walls have a healthy appetite for coconut…

*Not to worry, I’m still a grump. I still give rude commuters dirty looks, and I still hate Christmas. Some things will never change. Like the name of this blog, no matter how pretty our kitchen is now (sigh, it’s so pretty…). Pinky promise.

Sad Shibow Needs a Peanut Buttery Hug. Google Provides Said Hug. Kind Of.

6 Nov

I’ve had a rough few weeks. As I’d mentioned, the devil passed through me or something a little while back and left me bedridden for a solid couple of days. What I didn’t mention was that I had to say farewell to someone special to me around that time too. That might have been rougher than being laid up for 48 hours. Well, it was definitely rougher. It’s always pretty terrible to have to let go of a good friend, not knowing if it’ll be a forever thing or a temporary thing. Hopefully it’s a temporary thing. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Oh, I also messed up my back again shoveling a sludge-y mess of snow off of my front steps. I feel like I’m going to have to have some sort of epiphany wherein I conclude that in order to permanently cure me of my lower-back ailments, I’ll have to train to become a kickboxing champion, and finally face my fear of another total beat-down. There will be a movie montage. Mark Ruffalo will play my trainer because I love him. And I will win and I will be cured. The end. Cue random empowering Kanye track (yes, those do exist).

One of the things that’s helped me from turning into a total bawling mess of a baby (maybe not baby, because babies are cute and this hasn’t been cute) has been the pretty amazing search terms that have led unsuspecting individuals to this blog. A perk of running this blog is being able to see how people actually land here, and that is quite an entertaining perk when you’re feeling low.

Oh Google, you have provided me with endless opportunities to turn my brown frown upside brown down.


Now, I did not make any of the following up. I’m not that creative. Of note is the fact that very few of these terms actually have anything to do with baking:

“Classy wolf” This brings to mind the Coo–ooookie Crisp Wolf, which is awesome, because although I’ve never mentioned it, that has always been my favorite cereal. Does God read my blog?

“Sumo Cookies” Two cookies encased in a doughnut. First cookie to slip outside of the doughnut ring gets eaten. That was lame. I have no idea what sumo cookies are.

“How to get a girl to forgive you” There is no way there is anything on this site that will help you with that, dude. Well, until now.  You’re welcome.

“Johnny Walker cake” Not something I’ve made before, but certainly something I’ll keep in mind. Thanks, lushes.

“You’re welcome monster” It’s either a Google image search that led to a recent picture I posted, or a brand new nickname for me. Polite ogre? I guess I’ll take it.

“Shibow” Creepers

“Sybil Bakes” Creepers

“Shibow syndrome” Whatever it is, you know you want it.

“Twinkie Pants” Only in America do these probably really exist. I bet they never go bad, either.

“Hug forever” I would not advise doing this. You’ll need your arms free to fight off robbers and provide me with more hilarious search terms.

“Whave canned” What’s that? Did you mean canned whale? How did canned whale get you here? There’s such thing as canned whale? Wait…

As you can tell, I’ve been needing and trying to distract myself with silliness. I also figured that baking something that would involve a lot of time and effort would probably take my mind off the madness, too. It doesn’t hurt that this particular something includes a classic combination that I cannot live without: it’s peanut butter jelly time, people.

Two of my childhood BFFs.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes. With Jelly IN the Cupcakes. This Excites Me To No End. (makes 12 cupcakes)

For the Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat or all-purpose flour (I prefer whole wheat, and so does the woman who invented this recipe, which makes us best friends)

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt (I would increase this to 1 teaspoon if the peanut butter you use contains any sweeteners)

3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter (Do not use all-natural PB. It pains me to say that, but that stuff does not bake well. As a compromise, you can use Skippy Natural No-Stir, which contains some sugar, but no hydrogenated oils)

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

1 cup of brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup of milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of grape jelly

For the Frosting

8 ounces of cream cheese or neufchatel

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar

1 cup of creamy peanut butter (Same deal as above, fight the urge to go all-natural. I’m looking at you, hippies.)

Yes, that really is what I have decided to title this recipe. Don’t hate. Anyway, line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and preheat your oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Meanwhile, in a larger bowl, use a hand mixer at medium speed to beat together peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, then stir in vanilla.

With mixer on low, alternate between pouring in the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined (Meaning don’t go nuts or fall asleep with the mixer going. That’s just dangerous anyway.), then distribute the batter evenly into cups of muffin tin. I’ve found that an ice cream scoop comes in really handy for this. It only took me, like, nine years to figure that one out.

Bake these for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to ensure even baking, and remove when a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean. Cool these in their tins for a good ten minutes, then take them out and let them cool completely either on a rack or in the refrigerator, which should take around an hour.

Use this time to make some frosting. In a small bowl, with mixer on medium speed whip together cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add in salt and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, add in the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, scraping the sugary sides down every now and then to make sure everything’s incorporated. Finally, add in the peanut butter just until combined with cream cheese.

This looks the way a mouthful of peanut butter feels. Use a rubber spatula to separate frosting from beaters.

Before frosting, let’s fill these babies. Fill either an icing decorator or an empty squeeze bottle with your jelly or preserves. Gently push into each cupcake and move the squeezer (I really don’t know what other term to use. Kids, look away, I guess.) around a bit to make room for the jelly. Squeeze while slowly pulling the bottle out so that there’s a tiny bit of jelly popping out of the tops of each cupcake.

Do you think you're ready for this jelly?

Then frost using either a rubber spatula or your fancy icing decorator if you’ve got the patience to rinse the jelly out of it (I do not.) You can add a dollop of jelly on top like I did, if you’re into being super obvious, like I am.

You really can’t go wrong with such a classic combo. What I’m trying to say is that these were killer. I spent about half of a Saturday on them, so I think I succeeded in my mission of creating something time-consuming and distracting. In order to further busy myself, I’ll be packing for a midweek trip to San Diego, to visit/harass my best friend. I miss her like crazy and am really looking forward to kicking back in beautiful snow-free weather. So, basically, the plan is to bake, eat, hide and repeat. I’m nothing if not well-adjusted.

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