Sunday, February 26, 2012

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

All things green have been showing up in stores. Seems like every year people would like to be Irish on Saint Patrick's Day. We drink green beer, and Irish coffee to try to blend in with the true Irish. But really we are just being consumed by the holidays.

Let's face it; it's fun to be consumed by all these holidays. It's an excuse to have a party or bake a special dessert. I made an excuse to bake these Irish Coffee cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day. It is a coffee cupcake with a Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream. If you like Irish coffee, you will enjoy these cupcakes.

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Coffee Cupcakes Ingredients - makes 12 cupcakes
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals1 cup flour1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Boil water. Mix with vanilla and 2 tablespoons of instant coffee crystals. I used 4 packets of single serve coffee.
2. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.3. Add the egg, buttermilk and vegetable oil; mix to blend.4. Mix in the coffee mixture to the batter.5. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop batter into cupcake liners. Bake 18-20 minutes.Bailey's Irish Cream Buttercream
2 cups butter
3 cups powder sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream

Cream the butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Slowly add powder sugar and mix on low speed until blended. Mix in Bailey's. You can add more if you wish; if it becomes too soggy, add more sugar.

I used a Wilton 1M tip to frost the cupcakes and decorated with a fondant clover.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

All Smiles at Papagni Wines

I attended the Madera Wine Trail's Wine and Chocolate weekend on February 11th and 12th. Our (boyfriend and I) first stop was Papagni Wines located right off highway 41. There was a small crowd, which made it feel comfy and somewhat intimate. The wine tasting was located in the bottling room due to the tasting room still being prepared to open February 13th. (It's now open!) The employees serving the wines were friendly and approachable. They answered any questions we had about the wine and their production. As we finished our tasting, the Seller Master announced anyone interested on a tour was welcome to join him.

Tony, A.K.A. Morgan Freeman, the Cellarmaster, was a great host! He showed us the machinery where all the grapes passed through to get bottled. We had wine straight from the tanks of Pinot Grigio, Muscat of Alexander (dry white), Muscat Canelli, and Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines did not have their labels ready, therefore, not available for purchase, yet.

Here are my tasting notes from the wines available for tasting during the Wine and Chocolate Weekend. This is only my point of view according to my tongue tasting and brain processing. :) For more information check out Papagni Wines website at

2009 Malvasia Bianca: slightly sweet, berries, raspberry, sweet strawberries and some melon.

2001 Alicante Bouschet: their award winning wine, smells like cherry, taste like spices, cherry, and some blackberry.

Pinot Grigio (sorry, didn't write down the full name/year): a wine what I call "search for flavors" as they are not very powerful. I tasted pear and some peach.

Muscat Canelli: an easy to drink wine especially for the sweet wine drinkers. Tasted like nectarines. My favorite sweet wine from Papagni.

Some pictures from our tour...

Grapes drop off from the trucks here...

Filter grapes in this tank to make grape juice packaged in buckets and delivered to Canada, New York and other places...

The cellar with 3,000, 4,000, 6,000 gallon tanks kept at about 41 degrees...

Tony, Seller Master, giving us a tasting straight from the tank. All smiles! :)

The vacuum filter spins around, sucks out the juice from the inside and a blade trims the dirty stuff...

The new tasting room...

Thanks to their great hospitality we are sure to come back!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cookies n' Cream Rice Crispy Treats

Growing up, my mom often made rice crispy treats. It is a great quick treat on a weekday. She would make them in a pan, and flip them over into a plate when done. We'd have a round rice crispy treat covering an entire plate. My favorite way to eat is when it is just done and still warm. Grab a piece and pull it off to see the marshmallow stretch like cheese.

I've been thinking of how to step up this treat. I've seen Oreos added into desserts such as ice cream, frosting, pies...Oreos are great to add to these treats. The chocolate cookie blends well with the cereal crunch and the cream filling with the marshmallows.


3 cups chocolate cream filled cookies, broken into small pieces
1/4 cup butter
10oz mini marshmallows
3 1/2 cups Rice Crispy cereal

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a pan at low heat.

Pour marshmallows into the pan and continue folding until all marshmallows have melted.

Remove pan from heat. Blend cookies and cereal into the marshmallows to coat evenly.

Line a casserole dish with parchment paper to avoid treats sticking to the dish. Spread mixture into the dish.
Wait about 15 minutes so that it is slightly cool. Cut into squares and enjoy the chocolate creamy gooeyness!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Pancakes with a Sweet Message

Do you have the final details ready for your sweetheart tomorrow? If you need another breakfast idea, I have the perfect detail. Let your Valentine know how you feel through pancakes! These pancakes are heart shaped and include a special message.

First, prepare pancake batter either from scratch or by following mix instructions for six to seven pancakes. The consistency we need is somewhat thick, not runny. If you pour into a pan it should keep its shape.

Pour about 1/4 of the batter into a squeeze bottle.
To the remaining batter, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of water. Mix and add red food coloring. Mix until incorporated. Pour into a squeeze bottle.

Heat a pan to low heat and spray with nonstick butter spray.

Take the non-colored batter and write your message. The message needs to be written backwards, so that when you turn the pancake it will read correctly. We do this so that the pancake looks smooth and the message is not on the "bubbly" side of the pancake. (Yes, I did the XOXO as OXOX when I flip it over, this is where I learned.)

Quickly take the colored batter and draw a heart around the message, fill in any letters (like the inside of B, e, o), and fill in the heart.
Once the pancake no longer looks runny, flip over and finish cooking.
Wake up your Valentine with a nice breakfast with a message. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's events this weekend!

Check your favorite winery for events this weekend. Many are holding special tastings or dinners for Valentine's Day.

I will be attending the Wine & Chocolate Weekend at the Madera Wine Trail. Check back next week for a post on my experience. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Valentine's Mug Cookies

February is here and Valentine's Day is just around the corner. For those with a special someone, you may already have ideas to show how much you care. If not, here I am to help.

I found a cool cookie cutter while browsing through World Market. The "Side-of-the-Cup Cookie Cutter" comes in a flower, star or heart shape. The cookies hang from your mug. The heart shape cookie cutter is great to make cookies and greet your special someone good morning, not just on Valentine's Day, but any day.
The cookie cutter comes with a shortbread cookie recipe as well. The cookies come out soft and have a nice butter like taste. And what dessert does not taste better with chocolate! After all, Valentine's Day is about chocolates. Dip the cookies in melted chocolate and oh goodness! They are good!

Shortbread Cookies
Recipe from World Market

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour

My suggestions
Chocolate melts (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, stir in the vanilla. Add flour and salt and mix well. Roll out cookie dough and cut cookie.
Transfer cookies to a baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place the cookies in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. This will prevent cookies from spreading while baking. In the mean time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cookies for 10 - 12 minutes. My cookies took the full 12 minutes.
Let them cool for about 30 minutes. Melt chocolate melts according to dir
ections. Dip cookies in the chocolate and sprinkle nonpareils or your choice of decoration.
Place cookies on parchment paper and refrigerate for about 15 minutes until chocolate firms. Position cookie on the edge of a mug and "Good morning!" to your special someone with a yummy goodie!