Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marble Cupcakes

After a brief hiatus, the cupcakes are back. And, we're on to a new section as well. To make it official... welcome to the third section of Martha's cookbook, simple and sweet. Before each section in the cookbook there is a brief description of what the section will be like. Before starting to bake the cupcakes in this section I actually stopped to read what I would encounter. Something I didn't do in the 2 previous sections. One interesting detail about most of the cupcakes in this section is that they won't have any glaze, filling, icing or any topping at all. Aside from the occasional dusting of confectioner's sugar the cupcakes in this section will be naked. Yowza!

Marble cupcakes (this isn't the exact recipe, but it's close) have the honor of leading off the section. No pressure. I have made marble cake before, though more often than not it's with cheesecake. I love the unique design that you get with each cupcake and that no two cupcakes turn out to be the same. I also suspected that the pictures I took would be interesting since the insides of the cupcakes would have the marble pattern as well. When there isn't any icing I need something to jazz up the picture.

These cupcakes were pretty standard and easy to make. No funny business. Taking out the icing element also makes things much easier and much less time consuming. It also results in less dishes to wash which is always okay by me. But, because this cupcake required both vanilla and chocolate batter it did require more dishes than a normal cupcake batter might. Someday I will have a person to clean up after me.

My first order of business was making the vanilla batter which took no time at all. After the vanilla batter was made I set aside one cup of batter that would become my chocolate portion after I combined the cocoa powder and water, and then mixed them into the batter. Once I had my vanilla and my chocolate I was ready to pour them into the cupcake liners. Martha said to fill the liners with alternate spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate batter. Of course I listened to Martha. The only problem with alternating the spoonfuls is that the batter doesn't really get evenly dispersed. Swirling the batter with a toothpick to get the marbled effect did definitely help to level everything out, as well as tapping the cupcake pan on the counter, but they still weren't completely level. I hoped that baking them would even everything out.

I baked the cupcakes for 20 total minutes with a turn halfway through. They came out perfect at 20 minutes and were nicely rounded as well. However, some did have little bubbles or protrusions (I think that's actually a word) which I attributed to the state of the batter when the cupcakes went into the oven and that they were a little uneven. I also assume (this may or may not actually be true) that because the cupcakes are 2 different flavors and don't contain the same ingredients that they bake a little differently. Or the third option (probably the right one) is that I messed something up, since Martha's look perfectly round in the picture in the cookbook. Oh well. They still tasted good and I really loved the marble aspect.

I did dust the cupcakes with confectioner's sugar (hard to tell from the picture) before serving them, and to be honest, the sugar didn't do much for them in terms of look or taste. Personally I would have liked icing on them better, especially since the cupcakes were quite dense, I think icing would have really added to them. But, they were very good on their own, particularly with a tall glass of milk.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Who Takes A Vacation?

I do! And that's where I've been for the past couple weeks. Well, actually, we got back from vacation last Sunday at about this time. After vacations you're supposed to feel rested, right? Not the case for me. After driving in the car for about 17 hours back from Florida and then driving to Philadelphia and back just the other day, I've been a little tuckered out. But, I'm back now and ready to rock and roll.
Who's always ready to rock and roll? Rollins is! We got him groomed right before we left for vacation so he would be clean and handsome when he visited his grandparents. He got a bandana from the groomers as well. He looked so cute I couldn't help myself.

Our first stop on this vacation was Philadelphia. As part of my shedding for the wedding plan I've also been training for the Broad Street Run which is a 10-mile run in Philadelphia the first weekend in May. Bobby has done the run for the past few years, but this was the first year that I signed up to do it. I'm not a big runner. I don't particularly enjoy it (until very recently I lived by the rule to only run when being chased and I'm not often chased) and the most I'd run before starting my training was 4 miles, not even half of what I would have to run in the race.

I managed to get injured about 2 weeks before the run. Yes, my timing is impeccable. But, I got treatment and some pain meds (doctor prescribed of course) and made it through the 10 miles in 1:37:53! I don't get excited about much when it comes to running, but I was very excited about this. My goal was a 10-minute mile (1:40 total running time) since that had been about the pace I trained at. Since I didn't run for a week and a half before the race due to my injury (knee if you're wondering) I was thrilled with my time. Not only had I finished, but I had beaten my goal. Best of all I beat Bobby by 1 second (he'll say he let me win, and he did) and I got a shiny medal for my accomplishment. I also finished better than more than half of the women who ran the race. I was really proud. I was also really sore the next day.

After my big 10-mile extravaganza I ate whatever I wanted that day and Bobby and I treated ourselves to spending the rest of the week in Florida with my parents. We drove down (so we could bring Rollins with us, he loves to swin in my parent's pool) in our pretty new Jeep...
Bobby's dream car. Isn't she pretty? The fun part, other than riding in a Jeep of course, was that we didn't tell my parents we had gotten a new car so when we pulled up in the driveway they had no idea. It also resulted in my dad deciding that perhaps it was time for he and my mom to become owners of a new Jeep. They haven't purchased one yet, but it may not be too far off... sorry mom.

Once we were safely in St. Augustine a week of relaxation and fun in the sun ensued! Rather than recap all the details for you, because that's boring, here are some pictures (mostly of Rollins) that chronicle our trip. First up... the pool!

If you can't tell from the video, Rollins loves the pool. He swam just about nonstop the entire time we were there. My parents pool now has less water and a lot more dog hair than it did before we got there.
Rollins didn't just enjoy the pool, he enjoyed the beach as well. He frolicked in the waves and ran around with some puppy friends he made on our daily walks. This dog lives the life. He even managed to squeeze in a couple afternoon naps with his daddy.
Laying around by the pool, walking the beach and taking naps weren't the only things we did. We also frolicked around on the golf course during a practice round at TPC Sawgrass for The PLAYERS Championship.
For those that know anything about TPC Sawgrass this is the famous 17th hole. A lot of the golf balls hit don't make it to the green on the first shot.

As part of my Christmas gift from Bobby this year he bought me tickets to see Lady Antebellum in Jacksonville. They're my favorite country band and to top it off Darius Rucker was going to open for them. For those who don't know, that's Hootie... as in Hootie and the Blowfish. Needless to say I was very excited for the show.

Mr. Rucker was great, sang some Hootie classics which I appreciated.
Lady A didn't disappoint either.

On our last night, we dressed ourselves up in more than the bathing suits we had been wearing most of the week and had a nice dinner out with my parents before we embarked on our monster drive back to Connecticut.
We clean up pretty well.