Swimming in Muffins

As if I needed even more sweet, bready, browned lumps of dough, tonight I baked up a batch of apple coffee cake muffins. I actually do need them, though–to take with me to a party tomorrow. The professor for the drawing class I’ve been a TA (teaching assistant) for this semester likes to turn the final critiques for her classes into food parties. Since there’s a lot more space in the ceramics studio for a nice buffet spread, we really go all out in there with everything from appetizers to dessert all brought in by the students. However, the drawing studio has basically just one small stand we could put food on, plus it doesn’t get thoroughly scrubbed top to bottom like we do to the ceramics studio before the final crit, so bringing a lot of food isn’t really…safe.

So we’re just having a small breakfast party. One student is picking up bagels, another cream cheese and butter, Toby (the professor) is bringing orange juice and utensils, and I offered to bake muffins. 🙂 Starting with a recipe from my now-beloved Martha Stewart Baking Handbook–no joke, I’ve been turning to this book whenever I’m looking to bake something because if she hasn’t included a recipe for what I want, she’s at least offered some tips on how to make it perfect–I modified it to use a fruit that is actually in season: apples. The result?

Bucket O' Muffins
Muffins everywhere, oh no–er–yay!
A nice big tub full of mini apple coffee cake muffins. 😀 One suffered severe decapitation during my attempt to remove it from the muffin pan, so in its beheaded, dual-part state, it succumbed to the wrath of my tummy. These muffins can be very well summed-up in one word: fantabulous. While not quite like a coffee cake, they definitely have the flavors of one, and they bake up with such a light, delicate, airy, and very moist crumb that I could’ve easily devoured more if it wasn’t for the fact that they are already spoken for. It’s sad that food has to have a designated purpose for me to not eat it. Like the two remaining Portuguese sweet muffins all wrapped up and metaphorically labelled “Robyn’s” for when I see her on Friday. Otherwise they’d be swimming in my tummy with more maple syrup. Mmm.

Apple Coffee Cake Muffins Close-Up
Tumbly bundles of goodness
So hopefully my students will like these tender little morsels as much as I do. Mostly because I really don’t need to be bringing home a ton of super-yummy muffins tomorrow that no longer have any kind of reservation placed on them… ;x

Red Velvet Cake with Buttercream and Fondant

The real main event of my birthday party meal was, of course, the cake! And what a cake it was–it took me nearly the whole week to prepare between baking the layers, freezing and defrosting them, filling and sealing it, and then decorating it with fondant and icing. Since I had to make up my own recipe for the icing, it didn’t quite work out the way I was hoping, since I’m clearly not experienced enough at this just yet. However, it impressed my friends, and that’s what really counts!

I’m only including the recipe for the red velvet cake layers this time because the buttercream and icing were things I put together on the fly and I completely don’t remember what I did in any sort of detail. I bought the fondant from a craft store because I definitely didn’t want to mess that up–I’ll experiment with making my own sometime in the future.

Continue reading

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Sauce

For the main dish of my birthday party dinner, I put together a simple pasta dish with pieces of chicken and a light lemon sauce. Butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice comprised the simple sauce which was tossed with chicken and then some ziti. Just before serving, I added some freshly-grated parmigiano (yay for my new Magic Bullet!). Despite preparing a total of two pounds of pasta, there were very little left-overs.

Continue reading

Stracciatella Soup

In keeping with the Italian theme of my party, I started off dinner with a nice, steaming pot of stracciatella soup. Stracciatella is an Italian-style egg-drop soup; the name literally refers to “tiny pieces,” and reflects the fact that unlike Asian egg-drop soup which has a thickened broth that maintains the threads of egg drizzled in, the pieces of egg in stracciatella are so tiny that the soup has more of a creamy texture than a piecey-egg texture. Of course, the other ingredients give it a much different flavor, too, but that is the primary difference.

Continue reading

Tomato-and-Basil-Topped Bruschetta

Another appetizer I had at my birthday party this year was a simple bruschetta with tomatoes and fresh basil. Along with fresh pieces of garlic and some freshly ground black pepper, this was one fantasticly fresh-tasting topping for toasted slices of a bakery loaf of Italian bread.

Continue reading

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

One of the snack foods/appetizers I put together for my birthday party just over a week ago was a dip made with sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Other ingredients included fresh oregano that I’ve been growing myself, some dried thyme, garlic powder, milk, and some freshly ground black pepper. To serve it, I had some plain ridged potato chips and onion and garlic chips.

Continue reading