February 29, 2012

Guiness Black Bottom Cupcakes

A friend of mine from high school recently posted an article about a local bake shop that makes awesome cupcakes, often using some sort of ale as the base.  I was intrigued to say the least.  When, on their blog, they posted an actual *gasp* top secret recipe, Amanda let me know and I jumped at the chance.  So here, my friends,  from one friend to another, are the crazy cupcakes.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  
Start with top ingredients: In medium bowl, mix cream cheese, egg, sugar, and salt using an electric mixer until creamy. Set aside.  But only if you want to.
For the bottom ingredients:  In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to mix it all together. Place beer, melted butter, vanilla, and vinegar together in a separate bowl and whisk together. Then take the liquid and mix it into your dry ingredients. Use mixer until combined. 
Looks so appetizing, right?
Requirement: Cute Cupcake Papers.
Fill half the paper with bottom mixture (chocolate), and spoon 1 tablespoon of the top mixture (cream cheese stuff).  You can swirl them together if you'd like, or just do half and half.
Bake in preheated oven, 18-20minutes.
Top with Irish Cream Frosting, because - apparently - this recipe needs a little more alcohol.

Guinness Black Bottom Cupcakes (from Sweet and Stout)
Bottom Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)
1 cup stout beer
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
Top Ingredients:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake papers in muffin pan. I believe this made a dozen full size cupcakes, but it’s been a while.
2. Start with the top ingredients. In medium bowl, mix cream cheese, egg, sugar, and salt using an electric mixer until creamy. Set aside.
3. Now for the bottom ingredients: In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to mix it all together. Place beer, melted butter, vanilla, and vinegar together in a separate bowl and whisk together. Then take the liquid and mix it into your dry ingredients. Use mixer until combined.
4. Drop 2 tablespoons of bottom mixture (chocolate) into prepared cupcake liners. Top with 2 tablespoons of top mixture (white cream cheese). You could swirl them together if you like, or just do half and half. (Either way, they taste delicious!)
5. Bake in preheated oven, 18 – 20 minutes.

Irish Cream Frosting
  • ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • cups powdered sugar
  • 3 -4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream (Note: the mini bottles that are sold at the liquor store contain the perfect amount.)

Directions:


  1. In a medium bowl, blend together cream cheese, butter, and Bailey's. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing well until it’s all incorporated. Use immediately. The frosting will harden in the fridge, so plan on bring it back to room temperature if you must refrigerate it before frosting the cupcakes.

Enjoy with love.



February 27, 2012

1000 Gifts: 161-180


 -The Ninth Installment of 1000 Gifts-

161.  Being greeted at the door with a strong hug and a firm kiss
162.  The way he appreciates the meals I make
163.  Lemon-Garlic Salmon
164.  My tour guides
165.  That moment when dinner is over, yet we linger at the table just 'catching up' on                                              .         our days
166.  That feeling of satisfaction after mailing a package.  Anyone else?
167.  Coffee in one hand, the Word in the other
169.  A nicely made bed
171.  Coming home to an empty sink
172.  Efficient meetings
173.  Bowling
174.  Diet Pepsi
175.  Cinnamon Rolls on a Sunday
176.  The comfort of old friends
177.  Pesto on Pizza
178.  His Grace
179.  Efficiency
180.  Quelf with my favorite ladies

All is Grace.


February 17, 2012

Valentine's Day

This was going to be a post about Valentine's Day.  I had drafted a nice little dissertation and rant about the things that I love and the things that I loathe about the holiday.  It was nice. But, then I reread it and I annoyed myself.  Does that ever happen to you?  I get sick of my voice, or in this case, my writing.  So I erased it.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the flowers and the gifts and the wonderful evening that the Mr. had planned and brilliantly executed.  I just didn't feel the need to recount every moment, because there was something more important that occurred during our date.

We had finished our dinner early and were walking down Main Street through the sleepy downtown, ducking in and out of smallish shops on our way to the dinner theater when it hit me.  An overwhelming feeling of, well, I'll call it "love" but it was more than that.

It was comfort.  It was security.  It was knowing that the man that held my hand, holds my heart, and I am safe.  Couples who have been married much longer than we may laugh, shake their heads, and roll their eyes at this, for they have known it for ages.  But, bear with me... I'm discovering.

I'm discovering that butterflies are slowly replaced with comfort.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about letting ourselves go and ceasing to shower and living off of Cheetos.  And, fear not, I still get butterflies.  I still go weak at the knees with one look from him. I still get all dizzy-like when I stop and think of the treasure I have in him. And I still really like kissing him. But, the butterflies now have a companion.

This companion is a comfort that knows that I am known.  This comfort has replaced the "I hope I look okay in this outfit," and the "I hope he thinks I'm funny," and the "I wonder if he likes me as much I am like him..." and the "Is he going to propose tonight?" butterflies.  This man knows me and still chooses to spend his life with me and I have never known a comfort like this and I trust it will only grow with time. It may sound unromantic, but, between you and me, from one uber romantic to another, it's not.  It's definitely not.

I can tell you that our Valentine's Day date was wonderful.  Cole planned a spectacular evening, and we had a wonderful time, and I felt extremely loved.  I can also tell you that I would have felt equally as loved and as known had we stayed home in our sweats and played Scrabble. (Mostly because I would have beat him mercilessly)

I love Valentine's Day; but I also love knowing that my man does not need a holiday to celebrate us.  He doesn't need an excuse to bring home flowers, or make the bed, or leave love notes everywhere, or take me out on the town.  He does that on a Thursday... or a Monday... or in the middle of the day... just because.

I love getting dressed up and spending a night out; but I also love knowing that he finds me just as beautiful in slippers as he does in high heels.

I love getting flowers or thoughtful gifts; but I also love hearing him pray for me, or coming home to a clean kitchen, or listening to him make up songs to sing to me. I simply love the way he loves me.

And, honestly, I'm learning how little I know of love. But, I have a gracious Teacher and a willing lab partner and we're all in this together for His ultimate glory and our eternal good.


Happy Friday, Friends...



PS - Dear Miss Hicks (high school English teacher),  Please forgive the inordinate number of times that I began sentences with conjunctions.  I know you taught me better than that.  I'll learn someday.

February 13, 2012

Valentine's Eve

Warning: Read no further if you're too entirely tired of hearing how wonderful my husband is.


Still with me?  Okay!

Brief Review:  So, on Friday, as if I could forget just how much my husband chooses to love me on a practical, daily basis, he took me - on his own initiative - on a date night to the opening night of The Vow (perhaps the girliest chick flick of all time) just because he knew I had wanted to see it.  In case my memory needed any jogging about how wonderful he is, he babysat two kiddos with me on Saturday night.  Watching him with kids = major swoonage.  And, after working all day on Sunday, I came home to him making dinner for me with strict instructions to stay on the couch.

Then, today happened.

Today was nothing special - just another day at the office.  Cole had class in the morning and was running errands in the afternoon.  After a long day at work, I arrived home and opened the door to this:

Hand-cut hearts that say, "Why I Love My Bride, Laura..."
 He had cut out individual hearts and stuck them ALL.OVER.THE.HOUSE.  with reasons of why he loves me.  Can you say "Swoon"?
 Yes, the one on the lamp says: "For the way you light up my life."  ♥   


 "For watching Sports with me."
 "The way you keep me warm."
 "How you enjoy our life together."
 "How you are my home."
 "For the way you smell."  - on a candle.  Clever man.


 "For the way you cook"
 "For helping me see the importance of garlic."  True story.



 "For being My Love." - on the painting of the place where he proposed.
 "How you took my silly last name." 
 "For your loving heart."
 Every.Where.

I am absolutely speechless.  I stood in the center of our living room with my hand over my mouth just turning in slow circles taking it all in.  I'm certain that I still haven't read all of them.  I'm completely overwhelmed.  This man knows me and knows how to make me feel loved.

Even on a non-holiday.

Well, I'm smitten.


February 10, 2012

Friday's Letter

Dear Beloved,
There are so many days when it's all I can do to drag myself up the stairs at the end of the long day. There are so many times when I feel spread so thin, I have nothing left to give.  There are so many times when I feel like I'm nearing the end of my rope, searching for a knot to hold onto.
And then, you are there.  At the top of the stairs, at the end of my rope: you are there - loving me, encouraging me, feeding me with Hope for tomorrow.  You love me with patience and you love me with selflessness and you love me when no words come and you love me when I am unlovely and you love me and you love me...

You love me when I allow the urgent to supersede the important; and you remind me of the important when I lose sight. You are my safe place.  I love this forever-walk with my hand in yours - we can go anywhere.

19 months is not nearly long enough. I love you.

All is Grace.


February 8, 2012

Bagels: The New Donut

How do you spell donut?  Doughnut? Dohnut? Doenuht? Seriously, tell me. These are the things that keep me up at night. Thankyouverymuch.

Speaking of round things that often have holes in them and are generally unhealthy, I made bagels.  Did you know you can make bagels at home?  Apparently, you can.  Also, did you know that you boil bagels?  Apparently, you do.  And, do you know how satisfying it is to eat something & knowing every ingredient that went into it?  Apparently, it is uber satisfying.
Apparently, I learned a lot in my bagel endeavor.

A month ago, a fellow blogger posted about his bagel-making endeavor.  I was inspired.  So, here you have it - the great Boboth Bagel Adventure of 2012.

Per Seth's suggestion, I used Melinda Lee's recipe for Jo Goldenberg's Parisian Bagels.  Yes, Parisian.  Are you impressed yet?  And, after having done a test run, I would choose no other way.
 Yeah, there's dough involved.  Go figure.  Knead the dough: Knead the dough at medium low speed on the mixer – or by hand (using a push, turn and fold motion, energetically) for about 10 minutes – or until the dough is firm and solid when pinched with the fingers. Add flour as needed if the dough is sticky in your hands, or sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl (if using electric mixer). 
Prepare the baking sheet: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with shortening and sprinkle the baking sheet with cornmeal. 
First Rising: When dough is kneaded enough, place it in an oiled mixing bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature until it has doubled in volume – about 1 hour. 


Shape the bagels: When the dough has doubled in volume, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and punch it down with extended fingers to remove excess gas. 

Divide the dough into 10 pieces (each will weigh about 3-4 ounces). Shape each piece into a ball. Allow the balls to stand and relax for a few minutes – then flatten each one with the palm of your hand. 

With your thumb, press deep into the center of the bagel and tear the depression open with your fingers. Pull the hole open, pull it down over a finger and smooth the rough edges. It should look like a bagel! Form all of the bagels and place them on your work surface. 

 This was completely my favorite part.
Second Rising: Cover the shaped bagels with wax paper or parchment paper. Leave them at room temperature just until the dough has risen slightly – about 10 minutes (this is called a “half proof”). 
Prepare water bath: Near the end of this rising time, bring the 3 quarts of water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the malt syrup or sugar; then, reduce the heat and leave the water just barely moving – at a slow simmer. 
Water-bathing the bagels: Into the gently simmering water prepared earlier, slip one bagel at a time (use a large skimmer, and gently lower them into the water). Simmer only 2 or 3 bagels at a time – do not crowd the pan. The bagels will sink and then rise again after a few seconds. Simmer gently for one minute, turning each bagel over once during that time. Lift each bagel out of the water with the skimmer, drain briefly on a towel, then place each bagel on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all bagels are simmered, drained and on the baking sheet.
Baking the bagels: Brush each bagel lightly with the egg-white-water mixture.
Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. When the bagel tops are a light brown, turn them over to complete baking. This turning-over step will keep the bagels in a rounded shape, instead of their being flat on the bottom. When brown and shiny, remove the finished bagels from the oven.  Place the bagels on a metal rack to cool.



MAKES 10-12 LARGE BAGELS
Ingredients3 1/2 cups (approximately), bread flour [or substitute all-purpose flour]
2 packages, dry yeast
3 tablespoons, sugar
1 tablespoon, salt
1 1/2 cups, hot water (120-130 degrees)
3 quarts water
1 1/2 tablespoons, barley malt syrup [or substitute sugar in the same amount]
1 egg white – beaten with 1 teaspoon, water
topping of choice, if any (see Variations, below)
cornmeal for sprinkling on the baking sheet

(all recipe instructions taken directly from Melinda Lee's recipe. No alterations. For a better idea of how to make them and for other variations, visit her website.)

Enjoy with Love.


February 7, 2012

1000 Gifts: 141-160


141




















                                                        -The Eighth Installment of 1000 Gifts-

The ability to digest gluten
142
SNOW.
143
Nights without homework
144
The patient and compassionate way my husband loves me
145
The healing power of Saltines and Sprite
146
Walmart with my brothers-in-law
147
Rainy, bare roads
148
Inside jokes
149
A cart full of groceries
150
Sleeping in
151
Goat cheese
152
Talking politics with my husband
153
Breakfast in bed
154
Hard-boiled eggs
155
Surprise date nights
156
Coming home to my man
157
Dinner with the small group
158
Finding a hidden love note in my purse
159
A good laugh with coworkers
160
Lunch dates


All is grace.


Just Us

We will also remind you that this is just a BLOG…just the highlights. We don’t sit around happily smiling for pictures all day long. Our life is far from perfect: we are imperfect people serving a perfect God. We do strive to glorify God, but we fail miserably and find comfort in knowing that our debts have been paid and we have been set free.

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