Baby Love

Seems like it’s baby season right now. Every where I look my friends have just had or are having a baby. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of baking the cake and cupcakes for a friend’s baby shower. I was quite nervous with this being my first big event, but I think the end results were not too shabby.

Now for some details. I call this cake my Ruffle Cake. This particular ruffle cake was strawberry, lemon poppy seed cake filled with strawberry buttercream and iced with vanilla buttercream icing. I used a rose tip to pipe the icing and it took what felt like half my life to ice the entire cake. The cupcakes were chocolate cake filled with nutella and topped with vanilla buttercream icing.

My favorite part of the shower (besides the glowing guest of honor) was when a guest came up to me and asked me if the cupcakes were filled with nutella. After I said yes, she shook my hand and said ‘spectacular.’ I never never did find out her name but she totally made my day :).

Here are some more fun pictures:

I made little flags to top the cupcakes. The crowd favorite was ‘B is for Booger.’ I really wanted to put ‘B is for Boob’ but couldn’t get the image of kids running around the room screaming boob so I decided to leave that one out.

Since the cake was very tall (a little over 10 inches) I placed a cardboard piece in the middle of the cake so it would be essentially be a 2 tier cake when cutting. Very easy to do, just make sure you tell the person cutting the cake not to try to cut all the way through.

The Pretzel Cupcake

For folks who love a salty and sweet treat, this cupcake is for you!

The Pretzel Cupcake is a fun way to jazz up a classic recipe. And it looks pretty cool too.

Why Did The Banana Go To The Doctor?

Because the banana was not peeling well….hahahooahhaha oh my, I think I need a vacation.

Okay, let’s be serious for a moment and talk about these seriously good Banana Nut Muffins.

A while back a friend asked me to post a good banana bread recipe. I know, I know, this isn’t banana bread. But what’s a girl to do without a loaf pan on hand. Don’t worry though, these delicious Banana Nut Muffins can easily be converted to a banana bread recipe.

One of your bananas needs to be mashed by fork. You want to just lightly mash it to give your muffins good texture.

The other banana you can mix until smooth along with the brown sugar, butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla.

Now this is the important step. When mixing in the dry ingredients, do NOT use a mixer. Use a spatula and gently mix in the dry ingredients and mashed banana until just incorporated. Over mixing will cause the muffins to come out tough. Don’t worry about lumps, they will bake away. The key to super moist and soft banana nut muffins or banana bread is to not over mix and using super ripe bananas!

Fill each muffin tin about half way. Use an ice cream scoop to have the muffins bake to the same size. They will be nice and moist and will peel out of the tins easily after they are baked.

Okay, just one more. What do you call two banana skins? A pair of slippers.

Pesto Gone Wild – Starring Avocado and Spinach

I am a huge fan of Pesto. I love it with pasta, in sandwiches on pizza, with eggs…the list goes on and on.

What I love most about pesto is not only the various ways you can use it, but also the various ways you can make it.

This particular pesto recipe features avocado and spinach as the star ingredients.

Avocado, spinach, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and Parmesan...mouth is officially watering after listing the ingredients in this pesto recipe.

This pesto literally brightens up your meal. The beautiful color makes any dish you prepare with it more appetizing. We tossed it with spaghetti and grilled chicken and it made for a very springy meal. Don’t be fooled, it’s actually quite heavier than you would think. The creaminess of the avocado makes it feel like a real pasta sauce.

And all you folks with nut allergies, you finally have a pesto you can enjoy!

Aye Carumba, Chimichurri!

Ahhh Chimichurri. The smell of Chimichurri takes me back to the good ole days when me and the hubs were living in Buenos Aires. We didn’t know much about anything when we first moved there, but what we did know is that every restaurant we went to served chimichurri. And it was oh so good.

Italian Parsley, Cilantro, Fresh Oregano, Garlic....have I got your attention?!

The reason Chimichurri is so awesome, is because it tastes fabulous with everything. Grilled Chicken, Bread, Steak, Empanadas, Grilled Veggies, Salads, Pork Chops…the list goes on and on. And it’s fast and easy. Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and you have yourself a flavor packed condiment that rocks any meal.

Thank You Argentina, you are genius.

There’s No Wrong Way to Eat a Reese’s!

Did you know that Mr. Hershey has created over 45 variations of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? A few examples include:

Marshmallow – the traditional cup with an added layer of marshmallow filling

Crunchy – a traditional cup with crunchy peanut butter, as opposed to the smooth peanut butter in the original

Thank you Wikipedia, for making me a little smarter and unfortunately, a little hungrier today.

Without realizing it, I created a similar version to one of Mr. Hershey’s ‘limited edition’ variations:

Dark Chocolate – peanut butter filling in a dark chocolate cup

These Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are so simple to make and perfect for a quick chocolate fix!

The filling, three simple ingredients: peanut butter, butter, and confectioners sugar.

Mix the filling ingredients together with and electric mixer and then roll into approximately 2 inch balls.

Using a fork, dip your peanut butter balls into melted dark chocolate.

This is an optional step. Place the balls into mini muffin tins. You can also just place the balls directly onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet.

Refrigerate the balls for about 15 minutes and then peal them out of the muffin tin. They won't be perfect in shape, but they will taste fantastic!

Pop the whole thing in your mouth, eat the sides first, just remember, there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s!

When Life Hands You A Pepper, Stuff It!

Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh Oh
You got the right ‘stuff,’ pepper.
You’re the reason why I write this blog.

I realize I might have just dated myself with this NKOTB reference, but the opportunity was just too good to pass up.

Beautiful colors, fantastic flavors and great nutritional value. These Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers really do have the right stuff. They are perfect for spring time meals and simultaneously act as cheerful table decor.

The first step is to remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers. You can cut the peppers horizontally or vertically, whichever way you prefer. I did both to add a little dimension to the presentation.

The key to tender peppers is to blanch them for 4-5 minutes before you fill them. Place the peppers in salted boiling water and remove them carefully with tongs.

Now for the filling: sauteed onions, garlic and jalapenos accompanied by black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, Mexican rice, seasonings, cheddar cheese and any leftover bell peppers you have.

Pack the filling into the pepper, bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes and you have yourself a gorgeous meal!

It's actually quite a filling meal. Puns aside, I was stuffed!

Happy 6 Month Anniversary, My Dearest Blog

Today marks the 6 month anniversary of Me Versus Martha. It almost feels like an April Fool’s joke on myself because it feels so hard to believe. Like many things in my life, I thought this might be a passing interest that loses its fizzle. But nope, 6 months in and still going strong. I think we’ve decided to go steady :).

So let’s do a quick recap of the last 6 months. Since October 1, 2011 I have:

Had 5,641 fabulous visitors browse Me Versus Martha,

Tried 26 New Recipes,

Written 33 Blog Posts,

And finally, have had 3 posts featured on FoodGawker.com (Berry Scones, Strawberry-Hazelnut Crepes, and Cinnamon-Pecan Rolls)

Thanks for the support fellow blog followers. Here’s to another 6 months!

Get Your Day Rollin’ with Cinnamon Rolls

I am very shamelessly admitting to my fellow readers that I have eaten 6 cinnamon rolls in the span of 4 days. I am well on my way to a bigger pant size and utter happiness.

People often ask what I do with all the baked goods I make. I always spread the wealth. I have some very happy co-workers and friends. This week, the only person that was happy was me.

Cinnamon-Pecan Rolls are a sure fire way to make any Sunday morning better. Little did I know I was going to be making my Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning better.

This was a very special day for me. I got to use my dough hook attachment in my standing mixer for the first time! That just looks fun, doesn't it?

After pulling the dough off the super fun dough hook, knead it for another 30 seconds with your hand and shape it into the shape above..oval?

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and let it rise for about 2 hours.

Now for the fun part. Punch the dough to take the air out. Then place it on a well floured surface and use your knuckles to get the rest of the air bubbles out of the dough.

After you have rolled your dough out into a 12x16 rectangle, spread your filling (brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans) on the dough leaving a 1/2 inch border on one of the 16 inch sides (preferable the side away from you). Lightly pat the filling into the dough.

Roll the dough using your fingers and thumbs (coolest part of your hands).

Slice the rolls in half. Then in thirds. Then in thirds again. This will help you cut the rolls evenly so they will all be the same size.

You would think the recipe is coming to an end. Negative. At this point, I put the rolls into a well buttered pan. Covered it well with saran wrap and then placed the pan in the refrigerator overnight. I actually prefer this 2-day method of making cinnamon rolls because otherwise you’d have to wake up at 6 a.m. in order to get the recipe done before brunch…and that ain’t happening.

In the morning, you want to 'proof' your dough for about 30 minutes. All this involves is placing your rolls in an unheated oven over a bowl or pan of boiling water. The steam will wake up the yeast.

After you have proofed the cinnamon rolls, place them in a 350 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Once the rolls have cooled slightly, pour your cream cheese icing over each roll. Make sure it gets in all the nooks and crannies!

Eat immediately. And then for 5 days after. Unless you plan on sharing. But sometimes sharing is overrated.

It May Be Hot Outside, But It’s Chili Up In Here!

I won’t lie, I’ve been waiting until it gets warm outside to post this Chili blog entry so that I could use this title. So worth the wait.

This is the perfect, no fuss no muss, too tired to cook an elaborate meal, surprisingly healthy, one-pot Chili recipe. Throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker in the morning, and come home to a satisfying and delicious meal.

Chili

There are no subsequent pictures, because that’s how easy this recipe is :). Enjoy!

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