Cooking for a Picky Eater's Blog

So I went to the local farmer’s market yesterday with my friend Anna. I’d never been before, but I’ve really been wanting to make pickles lately. I love dill pickles and I used to make them with my mom when I was little. I remember sitting outside and cleaning cucumbers to make a huge batch of pickles right around my 9th or 10th birthday and getting really sunburned. We used to have a contest with each jar of pickles, whoever got the smallest pickle in the jar won. I always thought it was a pretty good contest! But pickles really have very little to do with cupcakes… So we went to the farmer’s market to get pickling cucumbers and since Anna needed some things too, we walked around a bit. There were peaches everywhere, and at one of the stands, a cute little blond boy asked me (in one of the thickest accents I’ve ever heard) if I wanted to buy some peaches. I actually did want some sort of fruit, so why not peaches?

Well, it was eleven billion degrees outside yesterday and of course I got sunburned again, but the heat must have made the peaches ripen at the speed of light. I picked out ones that weren’t ripe yet on purpose because I wanted to make cupcakes in a few days. Well, but the time I got home later in the day, they were really, really ripe, and a bit smushier than I prefer them to be when eating them fresh. I remember thinking about peach cupcakes a few weeks back, and wondered if there were any recipes out there. I searched and found this recipe from Martha Stewart.

Peach Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C)

1-1/2 cups  all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange zest (I used lemon zest because that’s what I had on hand)
3/4 cup milk
2 peaches or nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced and cut into thirds

1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and orange(lemon) zest, beating well. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth. Fold in peaches or nectarines.

3. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated over for 23-28 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.

Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

The cupcakes are cooling on my counter right now, and they smell incredibly delicious! I haven’t made much with peaches before, so I didn’t know how well peaches and nutmeg went together, but I’m a believer now! I’ve made some brown sugar cream cheese frosting to put on them, but it’s firming up in the fridge right now, so I can’t quite frost them all yet. Once they’re completely ready to go, I’ll update the blog with some pictures!

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Hello! This is Anna, friend of Denise, with a guest post here featuring my family’s recipe for banana bread. This is the recipe that my Gramma Roberts, my dad’s mother, used to make banana bread. My Gramma came from an Italian immigrant family and lived much of her life in New York state. She was an excellent cook; in fact, she and my grandfather met as cooks in the military during World War II. I have wonderful memories of her homemade pasta: fresh spaghetti noodles are incredible! But I digress–the banana bread! It’s moist, it’s delicious, and people have told me, “I can’t stand bananas, but I love this!”

Gramma’s Banana Bread

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

1 cup mashed banana

(Peel the bananas, place them on a plate, and mash them with a fork. I never measure that out precisely; I use four really large bananas or five smaller bananas. And did you know–bananas can be frozen and thawed later for use in this recipe? They look terrible when they come out of the freezer because the peel turns black, but zap them in the microwave, and they’ll be squishy and perfect for banana bread!)

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and stir. Then add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. It will be dry and difficult to stir at this point. Then add the mashed bananas and mix again; the batter will be somewhat runny after this.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Crust should be golden-brown, a little darker brown around the edges. Let cool, then remove from pans. Store by wrapping in aluminum foil or in a large ziploc bag. Enjoy!

Note from Denise – It’s true, this is THE best banana bread I’ve ever had, and I don’t even really care for bananas all that much!

Thanks Anna for posting this delicious recipe! You can find Anna at Jacob’s Cabin Lost Podcast or at LOST Audiobooks where she is currently reading “Our Mutual Friend” by Charles Dickens.

So my love of cupcakes is probably going to get me in trouble with my diet! This week I found a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate raspberry cream cheese frosting. I stared at it for a few days and decided on that on my day off (Wednesday) that I was just going to have to try this recipe out. Plus, I really wanted an excuse to go back to Michael’s and get the Wilton glitter gel icing that I’d seen a few days before, and some mini cupcake wrappers.

I decided to make both mini and regular size cupcakes. I took the minis to my internship at the hospital because I knew that just 12 cupcakes wasn’t going to do it, but 24 minis almost did (maybe I need a second cupcake carrier…), and I sent the regular sized ones to my husband’s work. I was very glad to hear from more than one person that these were some of the best cupcakes they’d ever had! I only wish that I’d come up with the recipe myself! Even my husband who had previously said that he didn’t even LIKE cupcakes (he thought they were always too dry) has changed his mind after the two batches that I’ve made recently.

This recipe was actually incredibly easy to make, and I’ll definitely be making these several more times. Just for fun, I added some of the glitter gel icing into the frosting, but the sparkles didn’t show up very well so I added a little bit of food coloring as well. I’ve had A LOT of frosting in my life since my mom started teaching cake decorating when I was a baby… none of that frosting prepared me for how incredibly delicious this would be! I don’t think that I’d ever had white chocolate and raspberry together before, but I’m certainly a fan now. I’ll probably have to make a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake for the holidays this year… I now have a tub of left over strawberry cream cheese icing from the weekend, and a tub of this icing left in the fridge as well, so I keep sneaking one or two spoonfuls of it a day hehe! I’m going to have to find something to do with all of this frosting, that’s for sure!

Somehow, maybe by sheer luck, all of this cupcake baking hasn’t destroyed my diet like I thought that it would. I guess moderation really is the key!

So I’ve been obsessed with reading Annie’s Eats lately, and I’ve been wanting to try some of her recipes. This weekend, we’re doing a Summer Birthdays celebration for the whole family since several of us have birthdays in the summer, myself included! When I came across Annie’s recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes, I knew that I’d have to make them. I actually was going to make a different type of cupcakes for the get together tomorrow, but when I stopped at the grocery store today and saw that strawberries were on sale, I decided to go ahead and try them tonight!

I’m definitely going to be making these again! I’ve been really liking the raspberry lemonade flavor combination lately, so I might do that some time as well. I’d like to try making cupcakes with peaches in them, or some kiwi cupcakes as well… I’m also wondering about rhubarb… Could I make strawberry rhubarb cupcakes?

I found a fun Wilton cupcake carrier at a craft store today, so now I have a much easier way to transport cakes and cupcakes so I’ll probably be making them a lot more frequently. I also bought a decorating bag and some tips. I found some glitter sparkle gel frosting that I’ve really got to find a way to use it. Glitter frosting! That is SO something that I should have invented because I love glitter!

Buying decorating stuff was really fun because my mom used to teach cake decorating with Wilton when I was a lot younger, and I’ve done some decorating, but I’ve certainly declined in my decorating abilities since I’ve not used them in a very long time! In 4th grade though, I won the cake decorating division for my age group at the county fair! I got $10, a ribbon, and a bag of flour. I decorated a popcorn cake (so that it would keep much longer than regular cake so that it could be kept at the fair) in the shape of a dog, and I made her look like our dog, Cassie 🙂 I’ll never be as good of a decorator as my mom is, but I intend on getting back into practice.

My awesome husband made me a birthday cake this week (my birthday was last Friday, but we went out of town so no time to make a cake that day) and it was really delicious. He made spice cake with homemade cream cheese icing. I’d never made cream cheese icing from scratch before, but wow, that was seriously sugary and very delicious!

Blueberry muffins (frozen)This is the first time that I’ve ever made muffins from scratch (no box or mix or anything) and I think they turned out pretty well. I used Alton Brown’s recipe from Food Network and made two different batches. The first batch, I used some frozen blueberries that I’ve had in the freezer for a while. I also way over-filled the cupcake wrappers so they expanded way over the edge of the pan. The frozen blueberries were a bit watery, even though I had tried to warm them up a bit and get some of the excess water off.

For my second batch of muffins, I used fresh blueberries and I only filled the wrappers about 2/3 of the way full so that they would be a much more manageable size. This also means that I have some leftover batter so that I can make some more muffins as soon as I buy some more wrappers! I guess this will be an exercise in seeing if muffin batter can stay in the fridge overnight and still be good to go for the next day! Here’s the second batch, complete with the extra raw sugar that I added to the top of them. I think that it makes them look all pretty 🙂 Blueberry Muffins (fresh)I didn’t actually get a chance to try one of the muffins from the fresh blueberry batch since they went to a friend, but I’ll ask how they turned out!

I’m definitely going to have to make some more muffins soon because I love how easy they are! And after making them from a recipe instead of a box, they really were not that difficult! I’m definitely going to have to make some cranberry muffins in the fall when we have fresh cranberries in the store.

Alton Brown’s recipe for Blueberry Muffins from the Food Network:

12.5 oz cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsps baking powder

Heavy pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup of yogurt

1.5 cups blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 380 degrees F.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, egg and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients reserving 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients and toss with the blueberries. Stir mixture for a count of 10. Add 1 cup blueberries to mixture and stir 3 more times. Reserve the 1/2 cup of blueberries.

Using a #20 ice cream scoop, add the mixture to greased muffin pans. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of berries on top of muffins and press down lightly. Place into the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Remove from oven and turn out, upside down on tea towel to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

Hi, I’m Denise and I’m a picky eater who loves to cook and bake! I started cooking with my mom when I was little, but I’ve always been a picky eater. My mom is especially good at baking and since she’s really far away, I really miss all of her cakes and such. I’m about to get a box in the mail filled with homemade jams and jellies though, and I’m really looking forward to them!

When I was little, I pretty much didn’t like anything that had more than about 5 different ingredients, and I really hated to have my food touch. I can handle recipes with multiple ingredients now, but I still don’t really like my food to touch 😉 My husband is a very picky eater as well, maybe even more than I am. Sometimes it amazes me that we can ever decide on something to eat! We’re both slowly trying new and different things but probably a lot of the recipes that I’ll make on here will be onion-free since that’s one of the things that we both really dislike.

I’ve been reading food blogs for years, and watching the Food Network even longer and it’s making me want to branch out and try different foods more frequently. I’ve started to like Indian food a lot, and some Thai and Chinese food as well. My favorite it probably Italian food though. I’m only a little bit Italian, but I think that this little bit is my taste buds 🙂 I love cheese, tomatoes, and garlic, so any recipe that incorporates all of these things is probably going to be something that I’m interested in.

I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for many years (10-12 years maybe?), but after years of going to restaurants and only ordering salads, I decided to start eating chicken again. I’m not very confident in cooking chicken because of just not even thinking about it for so many years, but that’s something that I’m working on. I tried bacon again a few years back and I can safely say that I definitely enjoy bacon as well. I don’t remember my mom putting meat in a lot of things when I was little so I just never really think about adding it to meals. I think pasta sauce and lasagne are just fine without meat so I guess can’t really see the benefit of adding it.

Since the beginning of 2010, I’ve been working hard to lose weight, so I’ll try to incorporate some general nutrition information in with some of the recipes. I’ve been doing well and losing weight for the last few months, but probably only because I haven’t been baking as much. I’ve just found a bunch of new dessert recipes that I’d like to make so we’ll see how well the weight loss goes when it’s delicious desserts time!

Deciding to make a food blog was a pretty easy choice for me. I spend a good deal of my waking hours thinking about food, and what I’m going to eat next. I love cooking and baking and then posting pictures online through Facebook or Twitter, so food blogging was the next logical step. I’m not very talented at photography, especially food photography, but that’s something that I’ll be continuously working on. I’m in nursing school so that severely limits my free time for cooking and baking, but after graduation next year, hopefully I’ll really be able to ramp things up.