food, recipe

Recipe: Small Batch Cupcakes

Small Batch Cupcakes (made in the toaster oven!) by sarah.blog

As one-half of a two person household, I’m always looking for ways to not make giant amounts of food that will either go bad or result in us feeling like we have to eat way too much. Cupcakes are delicious, but two people do not need 24 of them!

Since I’ve mastered making two chocolate chip cookies from scratch in the toaster oven, why not try cupcakes? I used cake mix, instead of baking them from scratch, to avoid turning six cupcakes into a big measuring, multi-bowl mess. I figured if I’m only going to end up with six instead of 24 at the end, the process should be about one-fourth of the usual difficulty, right? 😉

I forgot to take photos of them when they come out of the oven, so here’s the best I can do for the look of the actual cake until I bake them again:

Small Batch Cupcakes (made in the toaster oven!) by sarah.blog

Yum!

Now go make your own…

Small Batch Cupcakes

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe makes six cupcakes using part of a box of cake mix and homemade buttercream. They can be baked in a toaster oven for maximum simplicity.

Ingredients

For the cakes:

  • 1 cup cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter (softened) or oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 egg

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Combine all ingredients and beat on medium (or by hand) for 2 minutes.
  3. Divide batter into 6 sections of your greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake at 350F for about 14 minutes, or until golden and springy (or a toothpick comes out clean).
  5. Cool completely before frosting.

While your cupcakes cool, make your buttercream icing.

  1. In a bowl combine butter, sugar, and salt.
  2. Beat on medium until blended.
  3. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  4. Mix for an additional few minutes.
  5. While you’re mixing, add more milk in small splashes until it’s just the right consistency.
  6. Frost your cupcakes!

Optional: If you want your batch to be iced with half vanilla and half chocolate, frost the first three cupcakes, then toss a few tablespoons of cocoa powder in with a splash of milk and mix. Frost the last three cupcakes.

For my cupcakes, I used this (light-colored) Wilton 6 Cup Regular Muffin Pan and baked them in my toaster oven (the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven) for 14 minutes (the lowest time listed on my cake mix for cupcakes in a light baking tin).

Enjoy!

food

Week of Sandwiches with a Side of Wisdom

Confession: We recently ate fajitas for dinner 4-5 times per week for four weeks in a row. They’re really delicious and we bought quality ingredients, so it was pretty great.

But it was time to change it up, so: sandwiches! All week. 

A Reuben

 

Turkey, bacon, avocado

Until recently we’d tried to rotate between so many dinner ideas and constantly change things up. But then one day we admitted we both really love Tex-Mex and the fajita streak was born. (We printed the same grocery list each week! So easy and saved a lot of time!) This week we decided to focus on limiting cooking time so we could spend it elsewhere (like our bathroom remodel and work-ish side projects), so sandwiches happened. And they’re delicious, too.

What I’m saying is: cut yourself some slack sometimes. You’re not running a restaurant with a seasonal menu inspired by your early morning trip to the docks. Who cares if you eat a zillion fajitas or require extra bread for the week? 

I’ve become really good at treating myself right and I hope you are too.

food, recipe

Dutch Baby is Delicious, a Recipe

Dutch Baby, preparing to eat

I ate a Dutch Baby today… but I promise that’s less horrifying than it sounds. Also, less Dutch because Dutch people don’t even know what you’re talking about if you say you’re making one. (I’m married to a Dutch person. He made it, but had never had it before because it’s not actually Dutch.)

Apparently it’s a German Pancake, except it’s actually from German immigrants who were mistakenly referred to as Dutch when they got to America. (Don’t even get me started on that.) What I’m saying is this is basically an old timey American-made pancake pretending to be European.

Also, it’s delicious. The edges are a nice, flakey pastry while the inside layers are a bit custardy.

It looked so fluffy coming out of the oven:

Dutch Baby, fresh out of the oven

We followed this video recipe from Food Wishes and it worked like a charm. I’ve added a text version, including our notes, below so you can try it too.

Dutch Baby (aka German Pancake)

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup flour (firmly packed into measuring cup)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash of cinnamon, optional
  • 3 tbsp clarified butter (See: how to clarify butter)
  • juice from a Meyer lemon
  • powdered sugar
  • a bit of extra butter for brushing on top

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Combine eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in blender.
  • Pulse in blender to combine. (Blendtec took 10 seconds tops.)
  • Heat 10″ cast iron skillet on high on stovetop.
  • Pour clarified butter into skillet.
  • Pour batter into skillet and put in oven.
  • Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes.
  • Garnish with melted butter, lemon juice, & powdered sugar.
  • Eat immediately!

Additional Notes:

  • We used an 8″ skillet and just left a little batter behind.
  • Baked in our fancy toaster oven and it came out perfectly.

[ Recipe from SarahBlackstock.com via Food Wishes ]

Dutch Baby, plated

Yum!

food, recipe

Taco Salad & Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

I tracked my food on MyFitnessPal for several months last year and with minimal effort (and mostly eating the things I love), I saw some solid results. I didn’t really cut things entirely out of my diet, but the portions were carefully considered and smaller, and I combined things differently each day to find a better balance. I’m getting back in the swing of things again now and remembered this salad is pretty great for something that involves lettuce.

The Texan in me loves all things Tex-Mex, so this Taco Salad is just my kind of thing, in spite of still being a salad. To make one yourself, combine some lettuce, tomatoes, canned black beans, roasted corn, avocado, cilantro, cheese, tortilla chips, and grilled chicken (with taco seasoning, if you’d like). Top it with your dressing of choice, like Blendtec’s Tomatillo Ranch. (This one’s a great option because it’s delicious & is only 20 calories for 2 tablespoons.)

Taco Salad with Blendtec's Tomatillo Ranch Dressing (2T = 20 calories).

A post shared by Sarah Blackstock (@sarahblackstock) on

Yum!

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1⁄2 cup low-fat milk
1 medium tomatillo, husked and halved
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
1⁄3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
1⁄2 avocado
1⁄4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
1⁄2 tsp dried dill
1⁄8 tsp paprika
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1⁄2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
  • Add ingredients to blender.
  • Select “Dressings” if using a Blendtec, or blend on Medium Low to Medium speed for 30 seconds.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Source: Blendtec via sarahblackstock.com

food, recipe

An Evening with Comfort Food

Listen, sometimes you’re popping Midol and craving comfort food so you look up the recipe for Luby’s Mac & Cheese. And then your husband wants Cracker Barrel’s Hashbrown Casserole so you look up a copycat recipe for that. And then The Pioneer Woman’s Salisbury Steak happens too. Oops?

macncheese-lubyscopycat
Instagram

Last year Houstonia Magazine did a comfort foods issue and Luby’s shared their Macaroni and Cheese recipe. I’m including it here so I won’t lose it, because it was spot on and I’ve got to eat it again.

Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 cups dry elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 ¼ cups boiling water
3 cups shredded cheese (I used Cheddar & Monterey Jack.)
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Cook macaroni 1 to 2 minutes longer than package directions so pasta is soft but not mushy. Drain.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine dry milk, flour, and butter. Whisking constantly, gradually add in boiling water.
  • Add 1 cup of cheese and continue whisking until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Fold in macaroni, 1 more cup of cheese and salt.
  • Transfer to a lightly greased 11×7 inch casserole dish and cover with foil.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until sauce in center of casserole is thick and creamy.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese evenly over top. Return to oven until cheese melts.
  • Devour!                                                                  from sarahblackstock.com

Sometimes you just have to starch out, y’all. And gooey cheese is delicious. But why stop there when you could follow it up with a yellow cake with chocolate frosting?

I made a “Perfect Size” cake from Duncan Hines in my toaster oven. It’s 6″ so big enough to serve its purpose, but small enough to not have me eating cake every day for a week. It was super easy, comes with its own tiny pan, and turned out really light and fluffy. (If you’re more in a chocolate chip cookie mood, I’ve got my two cookie recipe right here. Toaster oven optional, but welcome!)

duncanhines-minicake
Instagram
food, happiness engineer, technology & web

Toast Ambassador

The other day I needed to sign up for a Google Apps email through WordPress.com to use at work, which meant getting a new domain first, and soooooooo:

toastambassador.com

Welcome, ToastAmbassador.com to the Internet! 😀 (I’m sarah@ there.) I really love toast, and my name is an alias for the cute toast emoji (look!) in our Automattic Slack. (Which leads to someone realizing that for the first time occasionally and going, “Why are you a smiling piece of bread?”)

Anyway! Isn’t that little toast logo just the cutest? And so official! The Kawaii Toast is from Collective Creation & the leaf frame is from Erin Bradley Designs (both on Etsy). I combined them in Inkscape to make my status as Ambassador of Toast super legit. Have you visited the site and joined my toast mailing list yet? 

Related: Remember the last time I needed a domain and ended up with tennisballwearingawig.com? (I’ll never forget, Pretty Little Liars. That was just too odd.)

food, life

Chat & Cookies & Plans

Cookies from Try the World
Instagram

I snacked on some treats from a recent Try the World delivery today while helping users in WordPress.com live chat. Pictured: Chocolate Truffles from Truffette de France (Canada), Orange Gingersnaps from Nyåkers (Sweden), Sablés à la confiture d’Abricot from Orientines (Morocco). I’ll share a full review of the subscription box soon.

This morning the plumbers came by and disconnected a gas line from an old built-in gas heater and removed the wall-mounted toilet from the master bathroom. Both had been there since 1960. I’ve been really nervous to start the bathroom renovation, because water & pipes & mystery, I guess, but there’s no turning back now. (Ahh!)

This weekend I’m going to go check out a few bathroom vanities I’ve seen online to see if I want to buy one of them, because I’d really rather cross them off the list if they’re a no go and move on. It’s all happening now! Keep my bathroom & bank account in your thoughts. 😉