Coming Soon! Mini Blueberry Cupcake Recipe and a New Website

Okay folks, I have breaking news here at the Joy of Caking!

After years of procrastinating. I have finally purchased the web domain www.thejoyofcaking.com.  Yay – happy dance!  And soon (if all goes as planned) I will be moving my site from Wordpress.com to WordPress.org.

I hope (more like pray) that in the process I don’t lose all of you great people.  I have a philosophy about this transition which I’ll share with you, along with this great recipe for these delicious Mini Blueberry Cupcakes as soon as I get settled.

Mini Blueberry Cupcakes

Wish me luck!

Fresh Baked Molasses Cookies

It’s officially fall (in my mind).  We don’t need a confirmed date on the calendar to substantiate that.  Do we?  After all, it is the 3rd of September, the kids are back in school, the morning air is crisp and cool, and I’m looking forward to apple and pumpkin everything.

It’s funny how the changing of our seasons brings about subtle changes in our lives.  Changes that most of us embrace without much thought.  How many times have you opted for a new hair style for the summer months, scoped out a new menu for chilly autumn nights, looked for that perfect winter coat for the coldest months of the year, or decided to take on the challenge of a good spring cleaning of your house? 

With fall (here) I’ve been thinking about change too.  I’ve been thinking of ways to shake up the content on my blog a little. 

I’m not talking about writing politically controversial posts that would ignite a spark or a wildfire.  Although, every once in awhile I’m tempted by to do something like that because I love a good debate, and I like to use that part of my brain that doesn’t get exercised nearly enough.  I know – curse me if you must.

With my thinking cap on,  I have a couple ideas that I’d like to implement here in the future.  If I do, I may even ask for your help in orchestrating some of them.  Are you game?

In the meantime, while I’m working all of that out in my head, let’s get down to business.  Cookie business.

These cookies are the result of me having a craving for molasses cookies.  It’s not like I haven’t made molasses cookies here before – twice actually.  I do fear that these cookies have just moved to the front of the line though.  Probably because there is an ingredient in these that you won’t find in the other two cookies that I’ve made.  Coffee!

This recipe is simple to make.  One bowl actually.  Drop, not roll, too. The flavor is especially good, and I’m really drawn to the texture of this cookie.  One of my other recipes produces a chewier, flatter cookie.  I do like those too, but I think that if both cookies were sitting next to each other on a plate I’d choose this cookie over the other just because of the texture.  I know that’s not true for everyone though, so here is the recipe for my chewier, flatter molasses cookie.

Fresh Baked Molasses Cookies

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. vegetable shortening

1/2 c. molasses

2 small eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 1/2 c. cold brewed coffee

3 c. all-purpose flour

Course sugar for sprinkling on top

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper; grease lightly with non-stick cooking spray

Makes about 2 1/4 dozen cookies

In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients except the flour.  Mix well with electric mixer.  Beat in 1 cup of flour at a time until they are all mixed in thoroughly.  Let dough rest for 15-20 minutes and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Drop onto prepared cookie sheets using a dining tablespoon.  Sprinkle with course sugar.  Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or slightly firm to the touch.  Cool on cookie trays for several minutes before transferring to baking rack.

What kind of cookie texture do you like?  Does it depend on the type of cookie, or is it across the board?

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My First Night of Glamping!

Ready or not – glamping here I come!

Just so you know, I’m writing this post from the Pink Paradise!

With today being the last day of July, I was slightly discouraged because the camper remodel isn’t completely done.  Of course there are a number of legitimate reasons for this.  The extreme heat this summer has slowed us down, family emergencies, illness, broken down vehicles, and lack of money are just a few of the things that have kept us from finishing her up.  Hey, it happens.

And then I had an epiphany… Why does she have to be completely finished to enjoy her?

With that thought bouncing around in my head I quickly tracked down some bedding that would fit the camper bed.  I then asked hubby for a few minutes of his time so we could convert the dining table into the bed; he graciously obliged.  As he disappeared to work on another project that was calling his name, I lit my new Yankee Camping Out candle, poured a glass of wine, cranked the tunes, and hopped up on the bed with my computer to write.  Yep, it’s just me and PInky.

Between the smell of the fresh linens and fresh air I am in heaven. The temperature inside is perfect, the dimmed lights in the camper project a warm and cozy feeling, and looking outside all I see is darkness.

I  remind myself that one of these days soon we will finish this project.

In the meantime, I will sit back, relax, and enjoy using her just the way she is.

I only wish that all of you could be here glamping with me.  What fun we’d have!

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Peanut Butter Fudge and Bah Humbug?

Bah humbug?

So far, I haven’t won a single pair of (the most beautiful) cowboy boots (that I’ve ever seen) that The Pioneer Woman is giving away this holiday season. The last winner hasn’t been announced yet but I’m fairly certain as my luck runs, it won’t be my name that’s picked from that Oklahoman’s hat. 

Like a lot of other hard working folks in this country, we are feeling it’s economic collapse.  So no, there won’t be a sleigh full of presents parked under our tree come Christmas morning.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I forgot to add the butter to the one and only (favorite) batch of frosted sugar cookies I made for the holidays.  Please don’t ask…

As I sat sipping my nice warm cup of coffee and writing this post  the picture became very clear.  Sometimes we need a few bah humbugs to remind us that a good life is not  just about pretty boots, money, and perfect cookies – it’s about so much more than that.

If you know of someone who is having a bah humbug holiday make them a batch of this fudge to help sweeten their day.

Peanut Butter Fudge

1/2 c. margarine

2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. milk

1 c. peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 c. powdered sugar

Lightly spray a 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt margarine; stir in brown sugar and milk.  Bring to full boil for 2 minutes – stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter and vanilla.  Once completely mixed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time.  Beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.  Refrigerate until firm.  Cut and serve.

Wishing everyone a joyful holiday!

2012 Holiday Gift Ideas

I  like to believe that nearly everyone has the capacity to give meaningful gifts that won’t break their banks.  Today, I’m going to make a few suggestions to get you thinking outside of the box this holiday season.  The good news; there is still plenty of time to brainstorm and come up with your own great and doable gift giving ideas.

1.)  The gift of time.  Pick something that you’re good at, or comfortable doing. and give the gift of time; organizing, snow shoveling, babysitting, pet walking, car washing, photography, handyman work, etc., and   make a gift certificate for the gift recipient.  To avoid confusion, make sure the certificate is job and time specific.  It’s also a good idea to write your phone number on the certificate with the message; call and let’s set a date!

2.)  Cook.  For years, I have made it a habit to make homemade meals to give.  They are always a huge hit.  I like to prepare foods that can be frozen and reheated later.  Trust me when I say that recipients of these gifts will gladly make room in their freezers for a batch of  your homemade meatballs, lasagna, mac & cheese, meatloaf, quiche, or homemade soup. 

3.)  Bake.  While cookies are one of the most popular treats to give during the holidays, try zeroing in on Christmas morning.  I don’t know many people that would be disappointed with a big pan of homemade cinnamon rolls, a delicious breakfast casserole, or even a tasty breakfast pizza that they can enjoy while opening presents.  Make sure your recipient knows in advance that you will be delivering a special treat.

4.)  Craft or Create.  I don’t know about you, but I love receiving handcrafted gifts.  My mother in-law is a wonderful quilter.  She produces some of the most beautiful quilted projects I’ve ever seen.  I love receiving something she makes for a couple reasons.  One, I’m a horribly impatient person when it comes to sewing and  I know my limitations.   And two, her work is so beautiful that if I wanted to purchase something similar, it would cost me a fortune.  These quilts are now treasured heirlooms – just like the ones my mother made and I now cherish.

And while I’m not quite as creative as my mother was, or mother in-law is, I can come up with a few inexpensive gifts to make all on my own.

Sometimes a batch of homemade hot cocoa, a pretty little cup to serve it in,  peppermint sticks to dip in the cocoa, and a handmade card make the perfect gift. 

 

What are you asking for this holiday season?  World peace, good health and prosperity, a spa day,   gift cards, help around the house, clothes,  a new car, or something else? 

Blogging Fame and Glazed Strawberry Crumb Muffins

Do you ever wonder what life would to be like if you were suddenly catapulted into the category of one of the world’s top bloggers? 

What if it was your blog that landed you a  spot in a popular magazine?  Or brought you good fortunes like your own television show, the opportunity to contract with a well known book publisher, or promote brand name products? 

Would you graciously accept the fame and publicity, or would you run  from it as fast as your little feet would carry you? 

What do you think makes certain bloggers or their blogs popular? Is it the blog or bloggers personality?  Does hard work have a lot to do with it?  Is it as simple as pure luck?  How about the quantity or quality of posts?  

What do you think?

Now, hold onto your socks because I’m about to knock them off with this recipe for Glazed Strawberry Crumb Muffins I’ve come up with.

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Glazed Strawberry Crumb Muffins

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1/4 c. butter, melted

1 c. sour milk

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped strawberries

Crumb Topping

2 tbsp. butter, softened

1/4 c. brown sugar

3/4 c. quick cook oatmeal

Using a fork, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

Glaze Topping

1/2 c. confectioners sugar

One to two drops of milk

Mix until sugar is dissolved; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, add oil, butter, sugar, and eggs; mix thoroughly by hand.  Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir until completely blended.  Add sour milk and flour by alternating; mix until all ingredients are combined.  Fold in berries.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown, or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Leave oven on, and immediately sprinkle crumb topping over muffin tops.  Return to oven for 2 minutes.  

Remove coated muffins from oven and cool completely.  Once cool, drizzle glaze topping over crumb topping. 

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies and Breaking the Rules

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I know food photography rules.  Don’t take pictures head on, don’t get to close to your food,  and good photographs have good composition. 

So, explain to me what is it so wrong with taking a close up, head on picture of a stack of delicious homemade Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies.

These cookies are packed full of peanut butter flavor.  They are heartier since they have oatmeal in them, and they are soft and chewy.

The recipe was adapted from The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes cookbook.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly:

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Stir together, and stir in:

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. quick cooking oats

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

Drop with dining tablespoon (approximately 3 inches apart) on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are set, but not hard.  Makes 1.5 dozen large cookies.

Enjoy!