Tuesday, August 21, 2012

french coffee macarons with nutella filling

french coffee macarons with nutella filling -- design. bake. run. blog

french macarons in the making -- design. bake. run. blog

last night i made some cream puffs (more on that later) with pastry cream filling. with the left over egg whites, i decided that i should use up the coffee almond mixture i had made up some time ago (the last time i made french macarons, using pierre herme's recipes) and is now sitting in the freezer waiting to be used. so yes, i went ahead and made some french macarons last night.

the coffee macarons turned out pretty good. but i must say, there is a big difference in how the cookies come out between the weighted dry ingredients vs. the cup measured ones. in the past i've mostly just use david lebovitz french macaron recipe and adapt accordingly to my liking. sometimes they come out okay, sometimes the cookie shells are hollow. these ones from last night was nothing like that. they're a tad more chewy in a good way and there are no hollow shells! plus, for some odd reason the batter was a little more forgiving. it felt like i had folded the batter a million times, but nope, that wasn't reflected in the outcome of the cookies. only one tiny thing i really didn't care about in these ones was how the feet look. i felt like david lebovitz recipe gave me better feet. these ones didn't look as pretty and the cookies came out flatter. they do look and taste the part so i guess it's okay. it's just a matter of my personal preferences.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

mini red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

mini red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

i've been itching to bake lately. i wanted to try out some red velvet cupcake recipes. although i've baked plenty of cupcakes in my lifetime, i've never really made a whole lot of red velvets. to be exact, i've only made them two other times before today. one was to try it just to try it and the other was last december for one of my many baking days before christmas just because.

the need to try out some red velvet recipes was because i'll be baking 50 mini ones for a wedding in october, along with 50 other mini chocolate cupcakes and some french macarons. yes, it'll be a fun week preparing for it, and quite an experience as i've yet to make this many goodies before for such a special occasion. i hope they'll turn out great and delicious, no matter what. :)

okay, so i finally managed to whip up a batch of mini red velvets earlier today before dinner. i love full size cupcakes but sometimes i feel like it's too much so mini cupcakes are the perfect size to feel satisfied but not over indulged. of course, if one's not enough, you can always have two (or three). i have to say, this recipe's not too bad. i tried one tonight after the assembly and it tasted pretty good. but i think i may need to adjust some things to make sure the cake doesn't taste too dry or even give you the thought of dryness. of course it could be because of my recipe substitution for buttermilk as i didn't have any buttermilk on hand. i ended up using 2% milk and some lemon as buttermilk substitution. either that or try out plenty of other red velvet recipes and see which one i like best.

all and all, the recipe was a success. i'll probably make it again with some adjustments. below's the recipe i used if you're interested in making these yourself. i halved it and made 24 mini cupcakes instead of doing the full recipe which makes 24 regular size cupcakes.

delicious mini red velvet cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
from food network's paula deen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the cream cheese frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

in a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. in a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

for the cream cheese frosting:

in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

garnish with sprinkles, chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry, or whatever you like (i used good old sprinkles for mine).

red velvet cupcakes out of the oven

red velvet cupcakes

recipe makes 24 regular cupcakes. or half it like i did to make 24 mini ones.

note: you can frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a tip (i used a round tip, they're nice and simple and come out beautifully). i also only baked my mini cupcakes for 18 minutes instead of the 20-22 minutes. i say anywhere between 16-18 minutes should be fine. of course, check your oven temperature as baking time varies from oven to oven.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

looking forward to a year from now

so the olympics have been on the last week and a half. seeing all these athletes and their crazy amazing bodies is… what's the word? well, let's just say i've been inspired to get back into shape again. i mean really get back into shape and for good this time around. it's another added motivation. of course i know my body will never be as rock hard as theirs, but close enough will work for me. i just want to be lean and toned; in shape and healthy. i'm thinking i'll be approaching 30 in a couple of years, i really should try to enter my 30's at the best shape of my life and keep it.

 since baby #2, i've been easing myself back into exercising and eating better. but the last couple of months i've fallen off the wagon and the numbers on the scale are not good. i want to say i'm almost the same weight as i was exactly at this time (9-10 months post baby) compared to baby #1. i was hoping with baby #2 it would be different. it was for a while, until recently. and i can't go on with what i've been doing recently; eating whatever i wanted, skipping runs and strength training workouts. my weight has creeped up to 108 lb from 101 lb. i cannot be 108 lb this time around, no way!

to help me get into the best shape of my life i've decided to take baby steps, as we all should know, losing weight and looking good doesn't happen overnight. it takes a lot of time, effort and commitment. you must want it and do something about it to make it happen. you can say i'm making that first step today. with 2 months to go before my baby turns 1, i want to ensure that come her first birthday, i'm a step closer to my ideal figure. i'm not exactly sure what ideal is, but for now, let's say something in the ballpark of lean, toned (with muscle definitions please?! =/) and 95-100 lb.

these are the things i'll be doing for the next 2 months (and beyond):
- run 3-4x a week, 15 miles total to start, then slowing increasing to 25 miles/week
- strength training 3x a week (pilates, yoga, basic strength moves)
- 2 sets of 20-rep modified pushups, dips and lunges every night
- drink lots and lots of water
- eat at least 1 piece of fruit and 2 servings of veggie a day (i'm terrible at this, sometimes i'll go on for days without eating a single piece of fruit! veggies on the other hand i'm much better at, but still not good)
- portion control, really pay attention!

here are some things i'll keep as reminders along the way. the quotes below are great. they've helped me a lot in the past and i know they'll do the same this time around.

a year from now...
i love this quote. i try to tell myself this every day... i want to look ahead a year from now and know i've really done it or at least is getting there because i've made the commitment to start today.

yesterday you said tomorrow -- just do it!
this is my favorite all-time no slacking quote. no excuses, just do it!

i run to be... fit
here's me with my cutie pie (baby #1) at the nike women's marathon (nwm) expo in october 2010. i was at my lightest weight (96 lb) post baby #1, and before baby #2 of course. i want to get there again.

all smiles before race time @ nike womens marathon 2010
me before the nwm. i must get there again... not only with my figure, but also with my running speed! ran my first ever half marathon in 2:04. i know i can do it again. :)
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