Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes… Yum!

Yesterday, March 8, was my birthday.  Traditionally my mom makes my favorite cake for me- angel food cake.  This year was the exception, so I decided to make my own birthday cupcakes!

I love baking, so I looked through one of my Betty Crocker cookbooks and found a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with chocolate orange icing.  I was so excited to bake completely homemade cupcakes…. with a little pizzaz.

Although I ran into some difficulties with the cupcake batter (I forgot to add the orange zest so I had to start all over again), the cupcakes were delicious!  I truly think that these are the best cupcakes that I have ever made.

Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe:

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes

 

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup hot water

2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

3/4 cup margarine

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place paper baking cups in 24 regular size muffin cups.

2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  In another bowl, mix hot water and cocoa until dissolved- set both bowls aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat margarine with electric mixer until smooth.  Gradually add sugar- 1/2 cup at a time (beat well after each addition).  Beat 2 minutes longer.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each.  Beat in vanilla and orange zest.  On a low speed, mix in cocoa mixture and flour mixture- alternate each.  Beat until well blended.

4.  Fill 24 cupcake cups 2/3 full.

5.  Bake for 20- 25 mins or until cupcakes are spongey.  Remove and cool.

Frosting Recipe:

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup margarine, softened

3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

3 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons orange juice (pulp free)

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1. In a large bowl, mix butter and melted chocolate until well blended.

2. Stir in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Beat in vanilla and orange juice until smooth.

3. Beat in orange zest until well blended.

4. Use spatula to put icing into a sealable sandwich bag, seal, and cut off corner.

5. Frost cupcakes using bag to create swirl and place small pieces of orange peel on top as garnish.

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New Wok= Stir Fry Time!

Today I met my friend, Kristen, at Ikea in College Park.  I tend to frequent Ikea, and I am a tad-bit obsessed with it (of course I had already blogged about Ikea in my Craft room post).  While she was looking for furniture for her new apartment, I had my eye set on a new wok!  I have been using a really large, deep frying pan to make stir fry, but I have always wanted a wok.  I am sure that she thought that I was crazy, but as soon as I saw it, I got super pumped.

Dan, of course, was also pumped (not really, but he did appreciate my stir fry that I made tonight).  My mom had given me a bunch of cook books for Christmas one year, so I decided to use the Taste of Home: Winning Recipes book for a stir fry recipe.  Of course I ended up changing things around a little bit, but it was DELICIOUS!  Here is the Taste of Home‘s recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 pound beef top sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups cauliflowerets
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • Hot cooked riceDirections
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the first eight ingredients until smooth; set aside.
    • In a skillet or wok, stir-fry steak in oil for 3-5 minutes. Add broccoli, cauliflower, onion, carrots and soy sauce mixture; cover and cook for 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Yield: 4 servings.**In my recipe I did not use the ginger, I marinated my sliced beef in Trader Joe’s Soyaki marinade, and I did not use cauliflower (I used canned baby corn, a diced portabella mushroom cap, and water chestnuts instead).

Ramen Stir Fry. Spruce It up!

Ingredients.

Pretty much everyone has either heard of or tried the packaged instant Ramen noodles sold in virtually every quick stop hop or grocery store in the U.S.  (If you haven’t, I am not really sure what to say to you.  Perhaps you should go try some.)  Ramen/ Oodles of Noodles is pretty much the camping/ college food.

As much as I like Ramen on its own, I do try to figure out ways to spruce it up from time to time.  A couple of nights ago, Dan and I realized that once again we had some vegetables that we needed to use up and I didn’t have a lot of time to make a fancy dinner.  So while browsing the pantry I came across chicken flavored Ramen.  First thought- gross with veggies.  Second thought- oh. Don’t use the flavor packet. Duh.

I cut up some yellow onion, half a clove of garlic, diced carrots, a portabella cap, and half of a yellow squash.  I found some Soy Sauce and sesame seeds.  In a my deep frying pan (I do not have a Wok), I sauteed the veggies, onion, and garlic (using some soy sauce and oil).  While doing that I cooked the Ramen according to the instructions on the packaging, but I did not use the flavor packet.  After the veggies were soft, I drained the Ramen and added it to my pan (med.-low heat).  As I cooked them, I added a little more oil and more soy sauce for flavoring (the oil helps the noodles not the stick to your pan).  I added the sesame seeds at the end.

Stir Fry!

This is very quick!  You can use up some of those veggies in your fridge/ counter without having to spend a lot of time cooking! Yum!

Black Bean Soup

One of my go-to dinners is black bean soup.  I always mix it up a little bit, but it is always delicious!

I always start with black beans (I recommend using canned if you are in a hurry… dry bagged beans take quite some time to cook).  I usually use two cans of black beans so that I will have left overs.  I also add about a can of water to the beans once they are in the pot. I chop up baby carrots, about a quarter of a yellow onion, a clove of garlic, and maybe some potato or I use canned corn.  Like I said, it really varies depending on what I have in the fridge or pantry.  I mix all of these ingredients together in the pot along with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chili powder (to taste).  I bring these all to a boil and let simmer for 5- 10 mins.  (If you don’t like the crunch of the small pieces of carrots, you can always boil these first before you add them to the soup to make them squishy.)

I always make corn bread to go along with the soup.  My go-to for corn bread is Jiffy (I don’t make home-made corn bread).  I was raised with Jiffy, so I of course love it!  When the soup and corn bread are both ready I spoon the soup into bowls (made by yours truely) and put some cheddar cheese on the tops of the soup.  Corn Bread gets a little bit of butter.  So Yummy!!!

About Me.

Oh hi.

My name is Allison.

I am an art teacher based in Maryland.

I enjoy art, ceramics, sketchbooking, dancing when no one is around, singing in the car, decorating.. and redecorating, cooking, people-watching, and random music.

I am engaged to the love of my life... I can't wait to be married to him.

I like learning about new things.

I find people to be interesting.

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