American Cancer Society: Cupcake Competition

Yay!!!! I won my first cupcake competition!

The Judging Room

My pecan pie cupcakes in the judging room.

A youth contestant named Jacob Eagle made these “spaghetti and meatball cupcakes”. He entered the “Special Occasion” category.

Yummy Shrimp and Grits cupcakes made by an Amateur Contestant

Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes made by Whole Foods


Pecan Pie Cupcakes

So, as y’all know I have a cupcake competition coming up to benefit the American Cancer Society. The category I signed up for is “What says Charleston?” and it has to be creative. Pecan Pie, as we all know, has been a traditional southern favorite for many years.

I had originally started with the idea of making sweet tea cupcakes and I stumbled on a sweet peach tea recipe. It had you use the crystal light packets and they were GROSS. So my sister BEGGED me to make the pecan pie cupcakes and they were great. Hopefully I will place in the competition on Sunday!

As y’all can see above, my way of being creative with the cupcakes was actually making them look like pecan pies as well as tasting like one. If you are interested in the recipe, I have it below.

Pecan Pie Cupcakes
Adapted from: The Cupcake Club
Makes 12

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and oil at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until light, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary.
Add flour mixture to oil & sugar mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add in sour cream. Fold in pecans and vanilla. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Tap pan against counter to release air bubbles.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Brown Sugar Buttercream

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter, softened and divided
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tbsp whole milk

1. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, 1 stick butter, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in the 2 tablespoons butter. Let cool in refrigerator until somewhat firm.
2. In a large bowl, beat cooled brown-sugar butter mixture and at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to achieve a spreadable consistency.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mushroom Kale Rice Bowl

I have been on a vegetarian kick this week if you haven’t noticed. It is just too hot here in South Carolina to sit down to a meal of meat and mashed potatoes. And honestly, I’m not feeling meat lately (sorry to my meat lover followers). The vegetarian dishes I’ve been making this week have been SO good and it doesn’t have anything weird in it like tofu (sorry to my tofu lovers but it is a little too bouncy for me). Anyways what I am trying to say is that I think many people would love this if they would venture out a little and try some awesome veggie dishes!

Also, as you may have noticed, I plated my dish without rice. I was really hungry, ok? It was good with out, but if you need some extra carbs to fill you up, go ahead and eat the rice with it!

Mushroom Kale Rice Bowl
Adapted from: Blog Babble

Serves 4
4 cups cooked white rice
2 bunches of kale, chopped
2 portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt/pepper for mushrooms
2 tbsp peanuts

Prepare rice in rice cooker and cook according to directions. Slice portabella mushrooms and chop up kale. In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add kale over medium high until done (not too soggy, not too crunchy) Prepare Spicy Peanut Sauce (below). In a skillet, saute onions in 1 tbsp olive oil until tender. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender. Add salt and pepper and toss in pan.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
2 Tbsp creamy salted peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (yuzu flavored or add 1 tsp lemon juice)
5 dashes cayenne
fine black pepper to taste

Place a small pot over med-high heat on your stove top. Add all the sauce ingredients and stir briskly until they melt and blend together. Reduce heat to medium and simmer/stir for about two minutes. Turn heat to low.

Final Directions:
Add sauteed mushrooms, onions, 1 tsp soy sauce and spicy peanut sauce to the large pot with the kale. Toss until well mixed and garnish with peanuts.

Thanks for visiting!

Squash and Barley Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is going to be an interesting blog, so don’t skip it. It’s WORTH reading. Like how it is worth reading the ingredients in a recipe for a squash and barley salad. I can’t seem to follow directions well which is very important in baking. Cooking, not so much. I think I may have slight ADD or maybe I am just a little air headed. I don’t know. Anyways, hopefully I will get that straightened out before I go off to culinary school so I don’t add 4 sticks of butter when I am only supposed to add 2. I’ll save that story for another time.

So back to the story for today. I did not see all the ingredients for the recipe and I ASSUMED I only needed broccoli, squash, barley, and balsamic vinaigrette which was exciting for my mom. She doesn’t like spending a whole bunch of money on ingredients for one dish. So my mom went to the store and came home with the broccoli I needed. As she walked in the door, I saw the rest of the ingredients I needed for this dish. Major fail. So I made some adjustments. Then I realized the recipe was in grams and celsius which totally excited me even more because I hate math. When I say hate, I mean HATE. I have struggled with it for as long as I can remember. Google saved my life with a converter, thank God for Google or I would have died and you would have missed a great dish!

Squash and Barley Salad
Edited Recipe: BBC Good Food
Serves 8

1 cup barley
1 squash, cut into long pieces
2 zucchini, cut into long pieces
3 cups chopped broccoli
1 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup roasted tomatoes
1 tbsp small capers, rinsed
1/3 cup basil, chopped

For the Dressing:
5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

Heat oven to 395F or 200C. Place the squash and zucchini on a baking tray and toss with olive oil. Roast for 20 mins. Meanwhile, boil the barley for about 25 mins in salted water until tender, but al dente. While this is happening, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Saute onions until tender and add roasted tomatoes, cover and turn heat to low. Drain the barley, then tip it into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well and let it cool.

Boil the broccoli in salted water until just tender, then drain and rinse in cold water. Drain and pat dry. Add the broccoli and remaining ingredients to the barley and mix well. This will keep for 3 days in the fridge and is delicious warm or cold.

Thanks for stopping by!

Vanilla Roasted Peaches

I am going to admit right now that I am not very proud of this dish. But I felt I had to put it up because it is one of my first desserts of many to come. It tasted phenomenal but I am not happy with the plating, the lighting and the angle of the picture. But I will say that this is my first venture into making desserts other than cupcakes, so I will give myself that much. I will definitely be venturing into making more desserts and pastries because I have chosen to and already applied for a baking and pastry degree at Johnson and Wales. I guess I have a lot to learn about the plating of desserts. The lighting is not so much my fault but Mother Nature’s. We got a heavy rainstorm today so it was dark and cloudy.

On a good note, as I said earlier these roasted peaches were absolutely amazing! I had two of them. 🙂 I will definitely be making these again. So when I do, I will post a hopefully improved picture of this dish. On another note, what would you rather see for my next post, meringues or french macarons? Leave a comment below with your choice.

Johnson and Wales Application

I have been so busy lately creating The Danielle Fund and keeping up with promoting it that I forgot to tell you all my good news! I have submitted my first college application to Johnson and Wales: The Charlotte Campus. I am so excited because I absolutely love everything about the school! I love the size because it is only about 3000 students. It is small for a college but not so small that you will know every single person. The class size for labs is about 30 students, labs meaning the kitchen. And the class size for my academic classes are about 60 students, I believe. I love the location, it is in the Uptown Charlotte. I have never lived in a city so this is kind of exciting for me! The baking and pastry classes have big windows so passerbys can look through the window to see what we are making. Just talking about the campus makes me so excited to go there in one year!

There is so much to do at Johnson and Wales and in Charlotte. Johnson and Wales offers lots of clubs and sports. They also offer some dance classes like Zumba and yoga. And we all know that Charlotte is a top spot for concerts! I can hardly wait until I get my acceptance letter!

Update: The Danielle Fund

Hello to all who have been keeping up with Danielle’s progress. Danielle had her second and final surgery on July 31st. This surgery was to get rid of a neurocytoma that she was diagnosed with. I have created a fund to help raise money to pay for these costly surgeries. The goal is small for now; if it is successful, I will increase it later. If you can, please make a monetary donation. No donation is too small! Please spread the word! Like our page on facebook, The Danielle Fund and share, share, share! We need to raise as much money for her family as we can! Thank you for your support!

Danielle’s Story:
On July 16th, 2012, my best friend called. I figured it would be about the newest pair of shoes she wanted or her new favorite song, I was wrong. She called me sobbing into the phone, I could hardly make out any other words than “We think Danielle has cancer”. Kaylyn has been my friend for three years and I would do anything to help her out. When we found out Danielle had cancer, I had to help some way, somehow.

Early July 2012 she was suddenly experiencing the sensation of charlie horses in her arms and awful pains in her neck. Her family took her to the doctor to have an MRI done and found a brain tumor. Danielle and her family’s world was sent spiraling into a whirlwind of emotions. She was immediately rushed to MUSC and brain surgery became their one and only option.The brain surgery occurred only one day after the tumor was found by the MRI. After the surgery concluded, it was immediately sent off for a biopsy. While recovering from her surgery, Danielle would ask the nurses, “Am I going to die?” What do you say to a 14 year old girl with a possible cancer diagnosis?

The results from the biopsy came back with good and bad news. The good being she would be okay. The bad being, she had cancer, BUT it was treatable. It is a non-aggressive cancer called neurocytoma. All of this happened in the course of one week turning the family into an emotional wreck but strengthening their faith with God. Danielle was sent home after a week of recovery from her first surgery. The doctors discussed how they would treat the cancer; their options being radiation or another brain surgery. The option they felt was best was another brain surgery which took place today on the 31st of July. She is recovering from the surgery and will be back home in 2-3 days.

As brain surgeries are very costly, I would like to raise money to help my best friend’s family out. Please make a donation if you can. No donation is too big or too small. If you can’t make a donation please spread the word. Thank you!