Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why I love Flagstaff

This is why I love Flagstaff. It finally hit 60 degrees outside and people are out socializing and soaking in the sun. I couldn't ask for a better day!

Flag Brew is where I'm spending this beautiful day. This gives me hope that summer is right around the corner. Yup perfect 80 degree summers that makes the Flagstaff winters so bearable!

Cheers!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Earl Grey Cupcakes

I stumbled across this recipe with my partner Matt and he wouldn't leave me alone until I made them, and am I glad that he was persistent. This cupcake is so delicious and has so many flavors packed into every bite, its defiantly a new favorite.


Ingredients:
1/2 cup of 2% milk at room temperature
4 Earl Grey teabags
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self rising flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and add the 4 Earl Grey teabags to the milk. Cover and let infuse for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes squeeze the remaining milk from the teabags and discard.

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take about 3-5 minutes. Add the almond extract and the eggs one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.

Sift the two flours together into a separate bowl. Add one-third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-third of the infused milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and mil have been added.

Once you have done all of that you can carefully spoon your batter into the cups, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake in the over for about 23 minutes until they are slightly raised and golden brown. Use a toothpick to check if they are done.

Once out of the oven let them sit in the pan for about 10 minutes and then take them out to cool on a wire rack. Once completely cooled you can frost them with yummy buttercream frosting.


For the frosting:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup 2% milk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl beat the butter, milk and vanilla extract, and half of the powered sugar until smooth. This can take several minutes. Gradually add the remainder of the powdered sugar and beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.

Once mixed, add two drops of red and two drops of blue food color to get a beautiful light lavender frosting to decorate your yummy treats with!

Tips:
Make sure that all items that call to be room temperature are. Also, even though you might want to open up the oven and look at the cupcakes while they are cooking DONT. Letting the cold air in even once can cause the cupcakes to not rise properly. Use the over light and look through the glass. :)


A big thanks goes out to Primrose bakery for this recipe and wonderful cupcake book that has inspired new recipes in my life.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My New Mixer and Red Velvet Cupcakes!

So I finally got my hands on my Moms Kitchen Aide mixer! Its only taken me 5 years but I finally got it! (she's getting a new one) But what this means is that I'll be taking my baking to a whole another level!!! :)


The first thing that I decided to bake was Red Velvet Cupcakes... I had been craving them for weeks and wanted a really yummy one so I figured I better make it from scratch. I would consider myself a really great cook, but an even better baker. I've had a lot of women in my life that have taught me everything that I know over the years and I hope one day I can pass it on to others. 






Now heres the recipe!


Red Velvet Cupcakes:


Ingredients
3    eggs
3/4  cup  butter
3  cups  all-purpose flour
2  tsp.  unsweetened cocoa powder
2-1/4  cups  sugar
1-1/2  tsp.  vanilla
1 1oz. bottle  red food coloring (2 Tbsp.)
1-1/2  cups  buttermilk
1-1/2  tsp.  baking soda
1-1/2  tsp.  vinegar

Directions
1. Let eggs and butter stand 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 28 2-1/2-inch cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
2. In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, and 3/4 tsp. salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium-high 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until combined. One at a time, add eggs; beat on medium after each. Beat in food coloring on low.
3. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture; beat on low to medium sped after each just until combined. Stir together baking soda and vinegar. Add to batter; beat just until combined.
4. Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake 15 to 17 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely. 

Frosting!
The frosting that I used was a very simple cream cheese frosting. 

8 oz of Cream Cheese (softened)
8 oz of butter (Softened)
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs pure vanilla

In a mixer, mix cream cheese and butter together. Then slowly add the powdered sugar to the mix and lastly add the vanilla. 

ENJOY! 









Im Back...

I know that it has been a while since I have last posted but IM BACK and cant wait to show you everything going on in my life. :) I hope everyone has been well and is excited for the Holiday Season!

:)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Vegas weekend with Cher

I have to confess something right now before I go any further... When I was a little pre-teen/teen gay boy tucked away in the closet, covered with my Southern Baptist up bringing, I used to sneak listening to Cher in between country and praise and worship music. It gets even better though... I've never been one to pick up the words from songs that I hear and so I was, and still am always making up words to go with the song... knowing that I didn't know the correct words.

Well, one day I was singing "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Cher and I thought I was sooooo cool because I finally knew the words to a song. Well come to find out that I didn't. Instead of singing, "If I could Turn Back Time" I was singing "If I could turn around, If I could find my way". The funny thing is that I did it in front of some close family friends and they started laughing at me... I'll never forget that moment. I hope Cher will forgive me. Now onto the Trip!

So I have to say that this trip was absolutely wonderful! For those of you who don't know, Cher tickets were a gift to me from Matt for quitting smoking and being so successful at it. (Isn't he awesome!) It also fell really close to our anniversary so we made it a combo trip. Here's a rundown of the trip.

Sunday:

  • Travel To Vegas
  • Check into our room at Caesars Palace
  • Lose $20 in a slot 
  • Pop open a bottle of Champagne to enjoy while getting ready for Cher
  • Go to the Concert (or Experience as I like to call it)
  • Lose another $20 in a slot machine
  • Enjoy a night out around Vegas with Matt.
  • Eat Steak and Eggs at 1:30am at the Award Winning restaurant in some shitty little casino.
Monday:
  • Enjoy and amazing breakfast from room service
  • Check in at the Qua Baths and Spa at Caesars Palace
  • Enjoy a wonderful 1 hour massage
  • Spend 5 hours in the Qua Roman baths
  • Eat an amazing dinner at Marrakech Moroccan restaurant 
Tuesday:
  • Check Out of Caesars
  • Eat at Serendipity 3 
  • Drive Home
Now for the documentation of the trip. Ill start with the hotel room. We stayed in a Deluxe room at Caesars Palace and it was amazing! Here are some photos.

The Sleeping / Living Area

The Bathroom

TV and Desk

The VIEW

Next up, I want to show you some of the video from the concert. Now I must warn you, the quality is pretty bad because they were super crazy about filming the show so I had to sneak it a few times. Also, I apologize for all of my screaming. It got a little intense at time. 

Half Breed


video



If I Could Turn Back Time


video

Believe


video

I have some audio clips as well that I want to try to get up on my blog, but Im going to have to reformat them. Now onto the relaxing part of the trip.

On Monday Matt and I enjoyed an amazing day at the Qua Baths and Spa located in the Augustus tower at Caesars Palace. This place was amazing! There were 4 different saunas ranging from dry to wet and herbal infused, and a really amazing arctic room that actually had snow falling in it. But my favorite were the Roman Baths, 3 different mineral water based jet baths. So relaxing, definitely a place to spend hours relaxing the stress away. Here are a few pictures that I found online. 



After a very relaxing day at the Spa, we went to a Morracan restaurant called Marakeech just off the strip. A few of our friends had been raving about it so we knew that it was a must while we were in Vegas on vacation. Its a 6 course set menu just under $40 that is amazing! Make sure you eat light during the day because you'll leave stuffed. Its a really cool experience. They start off by washing your hands with rose water and there are beautiful belly dancers there to entertain you as well. Here is a little more information about it. 

Feast
Six-Course Moroccan Feast
All courses served with Homemade Moroccan Bread.

Appetizer
Moroccan Style Shrimp Scampi in lemon, wine, and garlic sauce. (acknowledged as the best in Las Vegas)

Harira Soup
Traditional Moroccan Lentil soup with rice, lemon, and spices.

Marrakech Salad
Hummus, accompanied by assorted vegetables in Moroccan seasoning.

Beef Kabob
Filet Mignon marinated in 7 moroccan spices and grilled to perfection.

Main Course
Royal Cous Cous platter served with Cornish Game Hen in a traditional raisin-vegetable sauce.

B'stilla - Dessert
Our Version of the Moroccan Classic transformed into a Dessert. A fillo dough pastry stuffed with nuts, fruit, and sugar. Then topped with heaps of powdered sugar and cinnamon. Served with Moroccan Tea



For more information visit.

http://www.marrakechvegas.com

On Tuesday it was time for us to say Goodbye for now but we thought we couldn't leave without eating at Serendipity 3. The peanut butter frozen hot chocolate for 2 was a perfect way to end the best trip to Vegas I have ever had. 




Thanks for visiting the Chronicles of and Ex Smoker... Come back soon for my next blog about my guilty pleasures of TV. :)