Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

A few weeks ago, our office admin had her birthday, and I was feeling in the mood to bake! So, knowing she had a weakness for peanut butter cups I decided the best way to celebrate was to bring her a ginormous peanut butter cup in cupcake form! I adapted my chocolate cupcake recipe from Hershey’s and then dropped Reese’s peanut butter cups into them. I got the peanut putter recipe from something I came across on pinterest and when the two were married together, it was a harmonious celebration of deliciousness in my mouth! Also, I was shocked to find that the recipe for the cupcakes called for a cup of boiling hot water to be stirred into the batter right before pouring it out into the cups. I thought this was so weird, but it made the cupcakes light and airy, and fluffy! I have to admit I think thats the secret to perfect cupcakes so I will be trying it from now on! I guess it gives some extra moisture to evaporate out during the cooking process. which helps to keep the cupcakes from getting dry, crumbly, or dense. But, enough chatting, lets get to baking!

Ingredients: 

Chocolate Cupcakes 
2 cups Sugar
1 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour
¾ cup Cocoa Powder
1 ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
1 ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1 cup Milk
½ cup Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup Boiling Water

Peanut Butter Buttercream
2 cups (4 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
4 cups Confectioners Sugar
1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
Pinch Salt
2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions:
Start by preheating the oven the 350 degrees F.  Line 2 cupcake pans with baking liners.  Set aside.
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In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, milk, olive oil, and vanilla.  With the mixer running on low, gradually add the dry ingredients until fully incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the boiling water; mix until the batter is smooth.  The batter is supposed to be thin. IMG_3287

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, once they are all poured, drop one Reese’s peanut butter cup into each cupcake.  Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into a couple cupcakes comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for a couple minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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While the cupcakes are cooling, make the buttercream.  Cream the butter in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar and mix (gradually increasing in speed) until the sugar is fully incorporated, about 5 minutes.  You may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times.Add the peanut butter, salt, and vanilla and whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Once the buttercream is creamy and airy, it’s done.
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To frost the cupcakes, place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large, open-star tip.  Pipe in a circular motion, starting at end up and working up.  Top the cupcakes with chocolate shavings, if desired.IMG_3300
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Movement Mondays – What Now

Wooo! I always love me some Princess Riri, annnd paired with this choreography, it just goes to a whole other level. I die. Such a fan of all the little moments, what can I say I’m such a sucker for lyricality, its kinda “my thing” or in comparison to relationships I guess good lyricality is “my type” Im drawn to it. If you can make me hear of feel all the little pieces of the music, im ALL. ABOUT. THAT. So, enjoy, my little dance fiends, and happy movement mondays!

Choreography: Derek Mitchell
Contemporary Jazz Class
Music: What Now? Rihanna

Dining Room Dreaming

Right now is probably the worst time to be posting about how excited I am to decorate our dining room, considering It is currently being referred to as our “holding room” aka the room that holds all our shower and wedding gifts until we find somewhere we can actually store them in our house! BUT its pretty much a blank canvas staring me in the face everyday, so I cant resist day dreaming about it every time I sit in the living room thinking about how empty and lonely it looks! We repainted the room for a really terrible tiffany blue (a color I love, just not on the wall) to a really serene blue gray. I feel like this color really makes the wainscoting pop off the wall AND it looks even more awesome since we have replaced the old ugly bamboo shades with some nice white 2″ faux wood plantation shutters, our first new house splurge, but I don’t regret it one bit, but more on that next week!

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When I think about how I want my dining room to look, I am convinced I live in the wrong region. I have such a Charleston look in my mind, so its kind of hard trying to figure out how to bring it to Huntersville, but I know its exactly what I want! I found this great article about all the crucial elements to include in your “Charlestonian dining room” so I will be sure to take these to heart as I continue planning the room!

Let me preface these pictures by saying I was probably drawn to the blue because it was easiest to imagine recreating this in my already blue dining room, but don’t let that discount my true love for these awesome interior designs!

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After searching and searching I think David and I have definitely decided that a dark wood table is the way to go, because it will be pretty timeless. Im not super into the base on this one, I want something that won’t look aged and out of date in a few years, but I do love the white chairs! David had a time talking me out of an all white dining set, but I am getting used to the idea, and I think the brown will be a nice way to break everything up and give it a bit more formality, plus it hard to pull off the all white away from the coast!

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In addition to the white chairs here I also really love the buffet! Perfect for storage, ads a pop of color and it isn’t some HUGE mass of wood just hanging out in the room, I hate that, I feel like it really brings everything down, and I am aiming for a little more bright and airy.

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Speaking of china storage, HUBBA HUBBA! I love these floor to ceiling shelving units that really let the china be on display! I mean if I am not going to use it all the time I at least want to be able to look at how pretty it is! And thats really the point, right? But I dont think David is all for the wall to wall installation so, I lost out on that one.

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I really love this room, I think mostly because the feel of the room is so similar to ours with the gray blue paint and the white molding and chair rails, etc. But I love all the LITTLE things in this room, the bright flowers, the tall candle sticks, the round table and mis-matched, but still coordinating, chairs. I am kind of digging the round table, and I read in the article I referenced above that the round tables are better for smaller spaces where you can’t fit a longer table to sit a ton of people, so I think that is a viable option for us as well, but I don’t know that a round table would be me “forever table” and for what formal dining tables cost, I feel like that’s what I need to be looking for.

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I also really like the casual look of this room, it could be dressed up really easily, unfortunately David hates wicker, so that out, and I have to say im not a huge fan of it in the dining room, but I do like the SHAPE of these chairs, which I think is what drew me to this design in the first place. We will see how it pans out. I am sure our dining room will end up being a hodge podge of all these different things.  But I know we will get it right at some point. trial and error is the name of the game!

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I am also toying with the idea of getting some really luxurious end-cap chairs to kind of spice things up a bit. I think it will really finish off the room nicely. I just love the way they make a big statement and then if you’re lucky enough to get to sit in the big comfy chair, you will feel special. I have a feeling if we do this, scotch guard will be my best friend, because I will LITERALLY die if someone dumps their dinner all over my fancy fabric chairs! I can’t wait to start working on this room and getting everything organized, although I know that is a few months out. But a girl can dream, right?

I ate Brussels sprouts and I liked it…

**to the tune of that catchy Ke$ha song** But really… I did. I have to admit have fear the sprout for sometime now. all I knew is that it looked like a miniature version of collards, which (shocking southerner confession) I absolutely hate. I hate the smell, the appearance, the texture, the taste. EVERYTHING about collards. So when I saw everyone and their grandma posting all these pictures of Brussels sprouts and my friend Katy telling me she was obsessed with them I figured it was worth it to give them a shot, so we did! And we always go big or go home, so for our first soirée into sprout city, we cooked a whopping 2lbs of Brussels sprouts in the oven and prayed the whole time that we would at least SOMEWHAT be able to consume the final product. I am not normally nervous about the end result of our meals, because I know if I pick things that look delicious and follow the recipe I am bound to get something remotely close to the desirable end result. But… this one just had me nervous. Luckily I liked them and David was OBSESSED. He said that he would eat them like potato chips. haha I thought that was a bit extreme but I am glad we had a favorable end result. So, if you are looking for a good way to get into Brussels sprouts, I recommend trying this, it has a balsamic glaze and its cooked with olive oil and garlic, so there are a few other flavors working to your advantage to make it delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussel Sprouts
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup good Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 400. Slice brussel sprouts in half through the core. Toss with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.

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2. Place on cookie sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

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3. To make balsamic reduction: put 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup. About 15 minutes.Then, place brussel sprouts in a serving bowl and toss with balsamic reduction.

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Super quick and easy, and we served ours with a pan seared porkchop that was topped with David’s homemade BBQ sauce. It was quite tasty and when combined with a salad…. we figured we had a rather healthy dinner on the table that night!

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I definitely suggest giving this one a try of you have been a little weary of trying brussels sprouts, it made me a fan!

Wedding Shower Weekend

This weekend we ha dour first wedding shower in Augusta! It was so much fun to see lots of people from home, and to celebrate such a monumental life event with all the people who have had a hand in shaping my life. This shower was thrown by the wives in my parents supper club group from church. I was excited to be able to share the day with all of them, and appreciate all their hard work in preparing for the day, especially Ms. Jane for making those delicious shrimp and grits and few other dishes, even though she wouldn’t be able to be there because her daughter was trying out for Rallycats at Clemson (which she made, WOOT!)

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Me with all the hostesses (minus Jane!)

The shower so awesome! We had a brunch, because breakfast is only the most awesome meal of the day!!! They served lots of deliciousness, like shrimp and grits, quiche, fruit salad, petit fours, and lots of other deliciously wonderful pastries!

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Everything was also decorated to a T! It was so cute!!! And it was fun to be “queen for the day!!” Is that ever not fun!? The answer is no. I also loved how they made everything really personalized, so I had monogrammed petit fours, and mimosa cups!

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And who doesn’t love a monogram!? Although it was weird to see my married monogram slapped all over everything haha, I haven’t really used it for much of anything yet! But, like I said, the decor was great. They were able to set everything up in the same room so we could all sit together, and all the centerpieces were so well put together, plus we all know I love to decorate.

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We got lots of fun gifts, including this really awesome monogrammed serving tray. David was sad he keeps getting excluded haha! He said “why can’t they just put an ‘S’ on everything why does it have to be all about you!?” But… lets be honest, when is David ever going to use a monogrammed serving tray? Never. Alright, moving on!

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We got lots of awesomely useful things for our new house, curtains, a comforter set, some plates, kitchen things, yard tools, decorator items, sheets, pillows, a little bit of everything. I have to say, we had pretty good timing with the new house and the wedding! I can’t wait to get everything unpacked and washed and be able to use it all! Speaking of packed…. we had Rhonda the honda loaded down with stuff on the way home, we probably looked like the rednecks come to town, but at least we were able to get it all in the car! 
IMG_3437All in all it was a great weekend, and an awesome first event! I am so excited to start doing less stressful wedding things, like going to showers and parties, because sitting around making spread sheets and t0-do lists is stressing. me. out. So its nice to have a little break!
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Rachael Ray’s Pecan Crusted Chicken

Confession: I have been hiding this from you. Not necessarily on purpose, but mostly because I just didn’t know I hadn’t already posted this recipe. I actually went to make this a couple weeks ago and was too lazy to find my recipe card box in all our stuff from the move, so thats when I tried to search it on here and was flabbergasted to find that no such recipe had been posted on my blog yet. Tragedy indeed. So in attempts to wrong the right here is one of my top-5 FAVE Rachael Ray 30 minutes meals. My sister and I used to make this all the time when we were living at home and it is always delicious. Unless you burn the crust, so try to avoid that!

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1-2 tbsp.garlic powder
  • 1-2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 3 egg whites
  •  4 handfuls of chopped pecans
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 and then heat an oven safe pan to medium-high heat with 2 tbsp of olive oil .

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Salt and pepper the chicken then dip each piece of chicken in a mix of flour, garlic and poultry seasoning. Then dip in the egg whites, then next coat in crushed pecans.

 

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Cook each breast 2mins/side in the pan, should be golden brown when done.

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Next place the entire pan into the oven for 8-10 minutes (chicken shouldn’t be raw before going into the oven). Then let cool 3-5 minutes and serve.

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Looking glass, looking glass what do you see?

When I picked out the…muse for our master bedroom at the new house one of the key components was the mercury glass lamps on the bed side tables. I have been oogling all different kinds of mercury glass lamps for a while, from pottery barn, west elm, and a few other places, and I just couldnt justify spending a few hundred bucks on a light for the bedroom, so I took to the internet to see what kind of solution I could come up with. I remembered seeing several pins about making your own mercury glass and since I already had that looking glass mirror spray I figured it would be pretty easy.

Once I found my tutorial the next step was to find the perfect cheap glass lamps to deface. last year I did a post about tinting my glass lamp in my bedroom and I made it orange. Well, Since it was only covered with mod podge and food color, David’s contribution to this project was to use nail polish remover and hot water to return the lamp to its original clear glory.

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It took a little elbow grease but he was able to get all the orange off. Then, I was on the hunt for lamp #2. I was determined to have matching lamps from IKEA and went to pick up another of these $22 glass lamps, but they were all sold out and on back order. Glass is clearly all the rage. So, I decided to pick up a smaller version and if I absolutely hated the size proportions, then I could use that lamp somewhere else and keep looking or wait until the larger ones were back in stock. Then on the way out of IKEA, as always we stopped by the AS-IS bin to see what we could score. It was definitely a win! I got this awesome lamp for 50% off and it was GORGEOUS! and I love it.

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See! So pretty! So, all you need for this little craft project is some Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint (I got mine at Wal Mart, I always have trouble finding it at Michael’s) and a mixture of water and vinegar. Spray a light even coat of the spray paint on each lamp base (you will probably have to do a few layers) But after each layer you want to flick a little bit of the water mixture on the paint, it dries pretty quickly so anything longer than 5 minutes really starts to diminish the effect (known from personal experience)

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The picture above is my lamp with several layers of paint on it. After the first few layers it was almost completely see-through with the light on, so that didnt work. once you splatter the water all over the lamp, use a damp rag to dab it off. DO NOT RUB, just dab up the water.

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This will start to remove the finish. If you are having issues with the paint coming up, try adding more of the vinegar because the acidity is what eats through the paint. You want to repeat this process for every layer of pain that you do, I did about 4 or 5. I was pretty satisfied with the outcome, however after purchasing a few other mercury glass bits and pieces for the room, I think I really would have liked it a lot more if I did a light layer of gold underneath, since most mercury glass pieces seem to have a gold undertone. I am probably going to strip it down and try again with the gold, so I will keep you posted on the results! But here is how they look in the room for now!

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Vote to Support Autism Research and Awareness

ChrisHi, Loyal CPandB readers! 
My name is Chris Watts & I work for the Marcus Autism Center which is apart of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (For out of state folks– the children’s hospital in Atlanta). I have my masters in Social Work and am thrilled to help families around the greater Atlanta Area every day. I absolutely love what I do and what Marcus does. I am on the research team at Marcus and help connect families to research opportunities with skilled clinicians that provide feedback and coaching to families with children on the spectrum.Which is so fun, because I can help families find exactly what they need and connect them to supportive systems! The research I am working on is looking to find the earliest signs of Autism. Finding it earlier — earlier intervention! Imagine how many children could be helped and sooner!!
Again thank you, Kristin for helping me get the word out. Thank you, Dragon Con for  this opportunity! 
All the best! 
Chris Watts

 

The Marcus Autism Center, located in Atlanta, GA, has the opportunity to win up to $50,000 to fund research and awareness programming through the Dragon Con Charity Poll.

According to the organizers, ” The charity that receives the most votes will receive 50% of the monies raised at the show and 50% of the company match.  The #2 charity will receive 30% and the #3 charity will receive 20%.  While the charities placing 4th and 5th in the poll will not be selected as an official 2013 charity, we will make a $10,000 cash donation to each for participating because we believe all five are extremely worthy causes”

My friend Chris is a Research Recruitment Coordinator at the Marcus Autism Center, and has been working tirelessly to raise awareness and funds for this cause, so, in attempts to give her a little boost in the polls, I am asking you all to please support the Marcus Autism Center in all that they do!

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Marcus Autism Center is the largest not-for-profit autism research and treatment center in the United States, treating more than 5,000 children a year. It is dedicated to developing innovative solutions through research. As and NIH Autism Center of Excellence, our team is committed to early diagnosis and evidence-based interventions to improve outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). With our team of national experts and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Marcus Autism Center is dedicated to helping children realize their greatest potential.

Marcus Autism Center relies on generous philanthropic support from corporation, foundation and community leaders, as well as funding from local and state governments.

Visit www.marcus.org for more information.

Make sure to cast your vote for the Marcus Autism Center here: http://www.dragoncon.org/?q=Charity_Poll

Voting is only allowed once per day, but please visit daily to voice your choice for our official charities. Voting will end at midnight on April 28th and the results will be announced on May 1st. You can event vote from an Ipad or Iphone. So it shouldn’t take too long! Chris and I appreciate the support and your vote can MAKE a huge difference for many children. 

Crockpot Pulled Pork

David and I had this a while back at a pot-luck dinner we had with a few of our friends right around the holidays, and we have been dying to get our hands on the recipe ever since. Well, we still haven’t managed to get our hands on the recipe from Brad and Audrey, so we took to the interwebs and did a little research to make sure when we finally tried our own, it would be what we were looking for. We knew theirs involved the meat cooking in some kind of marinade or vinegar sauce or something, but we decided to go for a dry rub and to let the meat cook in its own juice, and I have to say, this was a positive life choice. I definitely recommend giving this one a try, especially with memorial day and summer right around the conner, its great for days when you want a meal that tastes like you slaved away in the kitchen or over a grill ALL. DAY. but in reality you were out sipping brews by the pool while your crock pot did all the work. So, Here’s what ya need to know about making a crockpot BBQ.

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh pork shoulder or fresh ham
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Ground red pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 c. vinegar

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Instructions:

Rinse meat and pat dry. Sprinkle a teaspoon of liquid smoke on meat and rub it in.

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Liberally sprinkle with red pepper.

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Place meat in a dry crock pot and cook for almost 10 hours (we only cooked ours for 8…because 10 seemed too long). There will be plenty of liquid in the bottom of pot when you finish.

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In a small saucepan, combine crushed cayenne pepper and vinegar. Bring to a boil.

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After chopping up meat add salt and this mixture to taste.

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Place it back in the crockpot until you are ready to serve it, OR if you are ready to chow down, place the bbq on a bun, or eat it plain, and enjoy that little taste of summer, with minimal effort. So delicious!



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