Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2/25/13 to 03/03/13

Hello, Happy Wednesday!  This week already has started and I feel like I've had to hit the ground running.  Work has been incredibly busy, as usual.  Home life has been decently busy as well.

I'm mid-way through re-decorating one of the bedrooms in our house for my middle child, Ashton.  Needless to say, I've been dragging my feet on it a bit and he has been chomping at the bit to have it done.  At this point, it's painted.  The trim still needs to be painted a complimentary color (the walls are a sage-y green), a dresser still needs to be purchased, and everything of his still needs to be moved into the new room.  While I would love to say this is going to be done this weekend, in all reality, it may be another week or two. 

Other than that, things have been pretty copacetic around here.  Menu plans really have been non-existent the past few months.  This  has really made dinner more stressful than it needs to be, but I haven't had the motivation to really do anything  about it.  Hopefully starting to write more on the blog again will give me the jolt I need to break out of this rut I've been in.

So here goes nothing, our first menu plan in practically forever....

Refried Beans
BBQ Chicken
Baked Potatoes
Pork chops
Sweet Potatoes
Beef and Rice Casserole
Hamburger Helper
Nothing fancy.  No bells or whistles this week.  I decided to keep it pretty simple so that hopefully I'll have time to work on some house projects (my sons room is still waiting...).  For more ideas on what to have for dinner, check out Laura's Menu Plan Monday at her blog.  She's got some great ideas along with a handful of other gals who have some tasty dishes planned for the week!
So what's your family having for dinner?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cake for Breakfast - French Toast Cupcakes

Breakfast is one of my all time favorite meals.  There are so many ways to mix it up and keep it fresh.  There's pancakes, eggs, omelets, crepes, and french toast. 

French toast is probably a favorite out of the bunch.   It can be jazzed up with different flavors such as vanilla, hazelnut, and peanut butter, to name a few.  It also is delicious just as it originally is, without any added bells or whistles.

That being said, I really love dessert.  Dessert is my favorite meal of the day.  My husband always gives me a hard time about the order in which I eat my meals, insisting I set a 'good' example by eating my dessert after I eat the actual meal.  Picky, picky.

With that being said,  I thought the only logical thing would be to make a dessert that (at least flavor wise) would fit into the meal category. 

After scouring the Internet for different breakfast flavored recipes, I settled on French Toast cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.  I actually used two different sources for the recipes for the cupcake and the frosting, the original sources are noted by the recipes.  They turned out magnificent.  The kids liked them, and I really enjoyed them.  They were so delicious!  While we (we being my children) won't be actually eating these little cakes for breakfast, they certainly remind me of breakfast and the tasty french toast we often enjoy at our house.

French Toast Cupcakes
recipe from Life Is Better With Cake Blog

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 lg. eggs, separated
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting - recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners (the original recipe says approx. 12 cupcakes for are produced from the recipe, I ended up with about 21).

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar.  Mix on low until it is just incorporated, and then raise the speed to high and mix for about 10 minutes until the butter and sugar mixture is nice and fluffy.

While the butter and sugar is mixing, combine the rest of the dry ingredients into a bowl.  Whisk them together and then set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla, and then set aside.

Add the egg yolks one at a time to the butter mixture, waiting until the yolk is completely mixed in before adding the next one.

Next, reduce the speed of the mixer and alternately add the flour mixture (3 additions) and the milk mixture (2 additions).  Add just a little of each at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Once all the milk and flour have been added, speed up the mixer until the batter is smooth.  Transfer the batter into a separate bowl.

Clean the mixer bowl out and then put the egg whites inside.  With the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.

Fold the egg whites into the batter until just incorporated. 

Pour the batter into the lined muffin pan.  Fill each cup about 3/4 full. 

Bake until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (I baked ours for about 30 minutes, but I think 27 would have been sufficient).

Remove the cupcakes from the oven, cool completely, then frost.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
slightly adapted from The Cupcakery Blog

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. maple extract, more or less to taste
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and salt until creamy.  (I actually softened my cream cheese and butter in the microwave for a few seconds as I forgot to set it on the counter prior to making the frosting.  I also forgot to add the salt as the original recipe suggests, and the frosting still tasted delicious, in my opinion).  Add in the maple syrup and maple extract (again, here, I actually didn't use maple syrup, I used Mrs. Buttersworth.  Not sure if this makes a huge difference, but my family thinks real maple syrup is too sweet and I didn't want to purchase a whole bottle for just one recipe).  Beat this mixture until the extract and syrup is fully incorporated.

Add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until all of the sugar has been add in.  Mix the frosting on high in between additions.  Mix until the frosting has a light and fluffy consistency.

Frost cupcakes.

When I made these cupcakes, I simply garnished them with some edible grayish pearls.  They also are delicious when garnished with bacon "sprinkles."  I just wasn't in the mood to cook up any bacon when I made these though.


Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Been Awhile

Do you ever feel like everything is crazy and that you have no time for pretty much anything but the basic functions such as eating, sleeping, working, etc.?  I sure hope so, because if I am the only one, that would suck, as well as make me feel pretty darn pathetic.

It only has been about a three months since my last post, but whose counting, right?  Go ahead and call off the search parties... I'm back.  I unsuccessfully attempted NaBloPoMo, have celebrated Thanksgiving, done Christmas shopping, baked many cupcakes, cookies, and desserts, as well as have celebrated Christmas with family since anyone has last heard from me.  I've also changed jobs, and done many loads of laundry, rang in the New Year, and probably numerous other things that would generate various degrees of interest.

So what exactly has been preventing me from posting these last few months?  Not exactly any one thing in particular.  It more has been a zillion little things that just form a unsurmountable obstacle when it comes to my time and my energy.

The holidays have come and gone.  While I absolutely love the whole holiday season, I am thrilled it has finally passed us by.  I really enjoy being with family, and just the whole spirit of the season, but the amount of stress I create for myself is not something I will miss. 

A little less than a month ago, I changed jobs at work.  While I am thrilled to be doing something different (I loved my old job, but sometimes you just gotta mix it up), it has been a rollercoaster of busy.  The transition from my old job to my new job has been a stressful one.  I think the ride will finally be over, as they have finally gotten a replacement in my old position and so I will not be juggling new and old responsibilities anymore.

Now that things seem to be settling down a little bit, I am hoping I can focus more on things that I want to focus on.  Some of these things include my new job, some projects I have around the house, my blogging, and of course spending time with friends and family.

Some things I am looking forward to this year include my kid's birthdays (which although are not for another two months, I already feel like there is some pressure - self induced, of course - to plan some sort of party or something), the new job - and the opportunities it will bring, my baby brother's wedding, and the Revenge of the Leftovers.**

(**officially, I believe that the name of the movie is going to be Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, or something along those lines, as well as the release date has been changed to 09/27/13**)

Anyways, this post really has no specific point, other than pointing out that obviously I'm a slacker who hasn't written anything in a few months.  As well as to be an opportunity to write about my excitement over a children's movie that comes out in 217 days.  (Only 5 days until the first trailer **jazz hands**)

 I cannot wait.