Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Babies

Looking through pictures today, I realized the majority of all the pictures I take are of my dogs. And why not? They're so cute! Plus they're much more photogenic than my husband or me. (Shhh ... don't tell Rod I said that!) Even when they're just sleeping I find them adorable! Actually, when they're sleeping, I find them to be the cutest, which makes total sense. When they're sleeping they're not licking the carpet, chewing on their paws or barking (unless they're dreaming of chasing squirrels). They just look so sweet and innocent, which is the exact look they're going for because it helps them get away with anything!

Mercedes is our oldest baby. She is a Maltese/ Shih Tzu mix and is 5 years of age. I love bringing her everywhere, and she loves to be with me at all times! With her tucked under my arm, I'm pretty sure I could pull of being a Beverly Hills housewife. (Yes, sometimes I dream of that ... is that wrong??)

Such a cute puppy ...


I don't think she's changed too much as she's aged though. Just gained 5 pounds is all and lost some of the gray in her coloring!


Lucky is our youngest, although he is the biggest. I notice him taking the "big brother role" on now too with Mercedes. He always "protects" her from one of the neighbor dogs! Lucky is a Cockapoo and just turned 4 a couple of weeks ago. He is happiest chasing toys around the house, and especially loves being outside in the summer chasing a tennis ball.

My favorite pictures of him are from when he was a puppy. He was the cutest puppy I've ever seen! I wish he still looked like, but his looks changed drastically as he grew. He's still cute, just not this cute furball!


And here's a few older pictures. Still cute, just more scruffy looking than that puppy!!



Hope you enjoyed seeing some pics of my babies! Get used to them ... they'll be lots more in blogs to come I'm sure!

Please excuse the quality of some of these pictures. They've been taken over the years with phone cameras, point and shoot cameras and the like. And I only became interested in photography this past year, so I didn't really pay attention to lightening or anything before.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Root Beer Cake (and Cupcake Bites)

I love making these root beer cupcake bites!! I think I've made them more often than any other flavor. Well, at least lately. This time, however, my husband picked the flavor. I wanted peppermint vanilla, but he chose root beer. So I decided to give in without any argument. It was tough, but I did it!

This time around I mixed the cake with vanilla frosting. However, I didn't notice a difference in taste by changing up the frosting. I thought it would help give it a root beer float type flavor, but it didn't make a difference. At least not to my taste buds! Then I thinned ou
t the white candy coating with some shortening so it would drip down the sides of the cupcake bottom a little bit and look like a scoop of ice cream. And, to celebrate the upcoming "holiday", I topped with heart shaped candy sprinkles. (Also, by using these I didn't have to sort through a bag of M&Ms picking out only the red ones!) I think they turned out super cute. Of course the best part is how they taste!!

With this baking experience I learned that my husband will always pick the flavor made with chocolate, where I, the self-proclaimed chocoholic, leans more toward the vanilla flavors. What's going on with that???

P.S. A great thing about cupcake bites is that th
ey're individually sized servings. Perfect when trying to be a little healthier. No need to worry about serving up a too big piece of cake! However, you still need to watch how many you eat so you don't take three at a time! ;o)

I've been asked by a few people for the cake recipe so here it is. I've actually only ev
er used it for cupcake bites, but the cake does look good when it bakes. It has a nice, moist flavor that would work well as a cake or cupcakes. You can play with frosting flavors like a vanilla whipped version or just top with ice cream to give it a root beer float like flavor. It would be so much fun for kids or any root beer lover!

Root Beer Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/06/root-beer-float-cupcakes/)

Ingredients:

2 cups root beer (OR 1 1/2 cups root beer and 1/2 cup root beer schnapps for a fuller root beer flavor - this is how I do it
)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the original recipe calls for dark chocolate, but I like regular better)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar works as well)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

How To:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or two 8 inch rounds or line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.

In a small saucepan or pot, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, mix in the vanilla extract then slowly whisk the egg/ vanilla mixture into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. (Make sure to do it slowly so you don't cook the eggs.) Gently fold the liquid into the flour mixture in the large bowl. The batter will be slightly lumpy, which is fine because you don't want to over beat and make the cake tough.

Pour batter into prepared pans or fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out clean. (About 17 minutes for cupcakes, or 25 for a cake.) Transfer pan(s) to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost with your favorite frosting, ice cream or whatever floats your cake! Eat and enjoy!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Unhappiness

Warning: This is not a baking post. It does not contain cute or yummy looking pictures. In fact, maybe it's because of baking that I'm in this mess! Consider yourself warned ....

I took pictures of my husband and I over the Christmas holiday and I can't bear to download them. I can't stand how chubby I look in those pictures! I've spent so much time baking and decorating that I guess I've forgotten to take care of myself. And now, I'm paying for it and hating the way I look.
I was hoping it was just a phase, but these last few days I hate looking in the mirror. And mirrors are kind of avoidable. At least in my life. You know since they're in both bedrooms and bathrooms. So, chubby me = unhappy me.

So, what's next? I know I need to work out. And eat those fruits and veggies more often! I've been eating so unhealthy the past few months. I don't buy myself anything to make for lunch so I end up eating a couple of cookies and an orange, or another bowl of cereal. Then I'm starving by dinner and end up pigging out. Now is the time to get it under control!! But I don't do diets. I love food too much.

There's a gym just a few minutes from my house. Thinking about checking out the fees to join that. I know I won't stay true to working out to video tapes so maybe if I'm paying for a membership I'll feel like I have to go and then it will just become habit. It's too cold to go for a walk daily so tomorrow I will FOR SURE go to the gym and inquire about membership. Hopefully I can afford it!!

I know I need to do something about being unhappy with myself. Only I can change how I look!! I love to cook and bake so I need to find a way to balance all of that with the healthy things in life.