Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Happy Easter to My Peeps!

THE PEEP EXPRESS!

I might ramble a bit today (what else is new?) because there are several reasons for writing today’s post. One being that I think this post is very appropriate for Easter since I made coconut cupcakes (I just think of Easter when I think of coconut cake…don’t ask me why!). It is also a fun post because my hubby has gone totally creative insane (just take a peek at the peeps in the pictures!). 😉 We have now resorted to playing with our food!

BRINGING ON MORE PEEPS!

This is a sentimental post for me since the first picture I had on my banner for this blog was of these very same coconut cupcakes! Some of you may remember that photo (it was not a very good one – it had white balance issues). It certainly would have been rejected by my friends at the foodie photo websites! Back then (in November), I did not even know of those sites, so it would not have been a concern! Maybe I was better off not knowing about those sites! Now they just stress me out! Anyway, you food bloggers will know what I am talking about! 😉

BEN PEEP

Back to the cupcakes…these cupcakes were a huge hit with family and friends when I first made them. Such a big hit, in fact, that I had some people (and you know who you are!) driving over to my house to pick them up on a moment’s notice. They truly are that good! In fact, I will be calling those people today once all these photos are taken because we do not need to be eating these. You will know why when you click on the link to the recipe below!

The other reason for just having some fun today (and being sentimental) is because I am saying goodbye to WordPress.com and moving to a hosted site within the next few days. 😦 That may not mean a whole lot to many of my readers, but when you return after the move, you will see a very different Bunkycooks.

THESE ARE SO CUTE!

I am excited and scared to death anxious about the new site because it involves way more computer skills than I have, so if things are a bit whacky for a while, please bear with me! To my subscribers (thank you, by the way!), you will probably need to subscribe again to the new site because I am not sure that the subscriptions will transfer over.

Now, once again…about the cupcakes…they are incredibly fattening delicious, so if you are looking for a really yummy coconut cake recipe, it does not get much better than this one! You can click HERE for the link to Ina Garten’s recipe. Now you should have known it might be her recipe if they are that decadent!!!

I hope you enjoy the pictures today. We are now TOTALLY certifiable! Keep checking back over the next few days to see the vastly improved Bunkycooks with a printable recipe and all! (Yeah! And the crowd went wild!)

I have had fun with my peeps and I hope you do the same this holiday weekend! This post gives a whole new meaning to the term “peep show”!

Let’s get together soon! Have your peeps call my peeps and we will set up a date! 😉

OLYMPIC ACROBATIC PEEP TEAM

OLYMPIC ARCROBATIC PEEP TEAM!

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Filed under Coconut Cupcakes, Desserts, Easter, Fun Stuff, Peeps

The Giant Cupcake Debate

Cupcakes are huge right now and have been for several years. Some are literally huge as in the picture of my giant cupcake!

I bought this mold from Sur La Table over the summer for the fun of it. There was no event to bake for. I was just curious to bake one of these gigantic cupcakes (or else I was terribly bored). I do think it would be great to bake for a child’s birthday. It is a cute idea.

There is one recipe for a chocolate pound cake that comes in the cardboard wrapping around the cupcake mold. This is a Wilton product, so I naturally assumed there would be more information (recipes, tips, etc.) on their website. However, there is only limited information with the same recipe and some tips from bloggers.

My first thought was why did they not break this pan in to 2 sections? It does not take a professional cake baker to see that one side holds more batter (the base) and is larger and therefore, will require more baking time than the other (the top). I also had the additional problem of being at 4,000 feet plus and was obviously concerned with high altitude baking issues.

After all of the reading and being totally confused, I decided to go ahead with the chocolate pound cake recipe that came with pan. Who, after all, would know better than Wilton what worked for their cake pan??

Click here to link to the recipe.

Well, of course, I ran into problems with this recipe. The batter was WAY too much for the pan. I filled the halves as suggested, but the batter ran over the top of both sides while cooking. I am sure that this should have been a really moist cake, but due to the fact that I had to keep the pan in the oven longer to get the bottom half to cook completely, the top dried out (not a surprise). It took the full 70 minutes (as suggested in the recipe). Now would this have been different at sea level? I really don’t think so. There is just more batter to cook on one side. You would not know there were problems by looking at the cake (pictured above), but it was just not up to snuff. It was just okay.

I decided I would try this again when we were not at 4,000 feet and this time I would take some of the suggestions of the bloggers and use a cake mix and make a recipe that mixed a few of the suggestions into one. I do not bake cakes on a regular basis. Who needs to be eating this stuff anyway? But now I was on a mission to find a better option should I want to have a successful giant cupcake in the future for one reason or another.

Here is my recipe:

Giant Cupcake

1 package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe French Vanilla Cake Mix
1 package Jello Cook and Serve Vanilla Pudding
1 cup whole milk
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted, melted butter, cooled

Mix as directed on box, which is to blend dry and wet ingredients on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

I ended up with about 6 cups of batter. I sprayed the pan with Pam with flour (works like a charm!). I filled the bottom half with 3 cups and the top half with 2 cups and then split the remaining batter with more going to the bottom half. The bottom half was placed toward the back of the oven. The rack was in the middle of the oven. I cooked the cake at 325 degrees (verified by an oven thermometer). This is what happened.

At 25 minutes (what some bloggers suggested as total cooking time), the cake was no where near done, but the bottom half (in the back of the oven) was browning quickly, so I covered it with aluminum foil. This was a mistake as the batter was still so loose the weight of the foil caused the batter to spill over the pan.

At 35 minutes and a mess in my oven, still not done. At 45 minutes, the top part of the cake was done. I put the pan back in for 5 more minutes. Voila! Both sides were cooked perfectly! I let the pan sit on a rack for 15 minutes. The cake released perfectly. I cooled both halves, trimmed the excess, frosted, and decorated the cake.

The cake was moist and evenly cooked. It was really quite tasty (for a box mix). I was prepared to test another cake and bake the halves separately, which I am sure would work perfectly, but it certainly is preferable to bake the cake all at once. The cake is also the right texture to hold the weight of the top of the cake and frosting. I prefer cakes from scratch, but I have to say this was a pretty good cake! So, when you are need of a larger cupcake, give this recipe a try.

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Filed under Baking, Fun Stuff, Recipes

Kitchen Gadget Wishlist for Christmas

What I would really like for Christmas is something much like the Chipmunks…new front teeth and no braces! I just had braces put on about 6 weeks ago and it truly is not a fun experience, especially at an advanced age. Oh, well. Make lots of soup and mushy food for the next 10 or 11 months and drink lots of wine! That is the way to get through this. Not necessarily in that order.

Now since getting rid of the braces is not an option for me for Christmas, I can tell you the things that I would ask for if I did not already have them as well as the goodies I might like to get.

My husband would tell you I have way too much kitchen stuff and do not need a thing. Well, kitchen goodies and shoes are two things a girl can always have more of. You never know when you are going to need a cherry pitter (recently purchased and not used yet) or a pair of red patent leather heels (I did not buy those, but thought about it).

Here are some things that I would say are hard to live without if you do a lot of cooking or playing in the kitchen.

1) Cast Iron Dutch Oven – 5 or 7 quarts. It is absolutely essential for soups, stews, braising and almost anything you can think of. It will substitute for all the other cooking vessels you do not need (tagine). It goes from stove top to oven and evenly cooks foods. I think Le Creuset is the best. Would not be able to survive without it (well, sort of).

2) Fine mesh sieve – This item does all sorts of kitchen chores. It sifts, filters, skims, makes soups and custards smooth. I have several styles and sizes as well as a chinois. They make preparing, cooking and finishing dishes much easier.

3) Really good mixer. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer as well as a less expensive mixer. There is no comparison. You cannot get the same texture or volume in whipping or beating without the more powerful machine and the right attachments. It also is nearly impossible to do bread dough. Big gift request if you make it, but a lifelong investment.

4) A really good set of knives. Again, this isn’t cheap, but it is a long-term investment. If you are only allowed one knife this year, find a top-notch 8 inch chef’s knife. That is the one I go to before any of the others.

5) A slow cooker. We recently bought a new Kitchen Aid slow cooker after extensive reviews. The All Clad cooker had good reviews as well, but we opted for the Kitchen Aid version. The slow cooker seems to be making a comeback in these times of comfort food, so it should be an option on your Christmas wish list.

6) A high quality digital kitchen scale (not spring-loaded) to weigh your ingredients and not measure them. It makes an incredible difference in baked goods.

7) A good oven thermometer. You can’t be cooking at 400 degrees if your oven temperature is in actuality at 375 degrees. I use mine all the time.

Now, if I could put a wish list together of things I don’t need, but would want…

1) Tagine. I know I can use the Dutch oven, but if you make Moroccan dishes, this is a very nifty and authentic way to cook them. And they look so pretty (think shoes)!

2) More cookbooks. A foodie always loves new cookbooks. Again, I know that I have way too many, but anything French (I am now into pastry cookbooks) is always a great gift.

3) Authentic espresso maker. Not the ones with the pods, but the real thing. Better yet, a built-in coffee and espresso maker!

4) Cuisinart Mix-It-In Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker. Now we all know that none of us needs this, but it sure looks like fun! The sprinkle dispenser is very cool.

5) The ultimate gift would be lots more counter and storage space for all the kitchen stuff I have and may end up with in the future. There are so many goodies out there…it is nearly impossible to find a place to store it all along with dishes, wine glasses, serving pieces, etc. I am sure this may be a request for many of you.

I hope Santa brings you all the goodies you want for Christmas. Almost any kitchen item is a good one, is my thinking, but certain ones are definitely more useful than others (kind of like the shoes we want and the ones we actually need).

Happy cooking and Happy Holidays!

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Filed under Appliances, Christmas, Cookware, Fun Stuff, Kitchen Tools