Candy Corn Kisses and Halloween Dreams

Imagine my surprise as I walk to the checkout at Target (arms loaded with goodies since I refused to get a basket thinking that would keep me from over shopping…silly me) and I see a special on Hershey’s Kisses.  I approach the display and see the original Milk Chocolate Kisses, Milk Chocolate with Almonds and then I see it…new candy!  The heavens opened and angels sang from above.  I love new candy flavors and Hershey’s Kisses always seem to have something special surrounding every holiday.  But wait, it is August.  The last time I checked the First Day of School is no holiday and Labor Day doesn’t deserve a special edition candy.  They were…brace yourselves…HALLOWEEN CANDY!  Two months early.  What is this world coming to?  Nonetheless, I take a look at the new flavors.  One is Pumpkin Spice and the other is Candy Corn.  Intriguing.  This mysterious candy hooked me and impulse beat up will-power and common sense with one blow.  I bought them.

I love candy corn.  I will eat them until I am in a sugar induced coma.  A friend in college introduced me to the candy corn and peanut mix.  The sweet and salty combination aids in reducing my sugary sickness.  Enough about my love for a pretty disgusting candy…more about the Kisses.  The wrapping on the Kisses is cute.  Silver, orange and yellow just like a candy corn!  Ingenious.  I proceed to unwrap this little 4.5 gram wonder and the Kiss is also candy corn colored and layered!  Adorable.

I am a bit nervous about tasting this candy, so to postpone the inevitable I smell it first and then shove it in Ben’s face so that he can give me his opinion on whether or not to consume it.  It smells sickeningly sweet.  We agree on that.  Ben refused to try the Kiss because he truly hates candy corn.  I am a brave woman who enjoys a challenge, so I take a bite.  The texture is much different than a true candy corn; much creamier and softer.  The taste…definitely not candy corn.  Not like white chocolate either.  Kind of an artificial honey and butter flavor.  Not too great.  But, like other weird tasting foods, they draw me back for more.  I think this was partially due to the fact that I could not pin down their flavor.  It’s just so dang sugary.  Too sugary for my liking and not enough like my love, the original candy corn.  Are they bad enough to throw out?  Probably so.  Are they still in my pantry?  Yes, they are.

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Being a lover of coconut, I have been wanting to find a coconut cupcake recipe for a while now.  I found two recipes that sounded equally delicious, how is a girl to choose?  I chose based on the fact that I had all the ingredients for one recipe, and not for the other!

I also liked that this recipe uses coconut milk which adds an unobtrusive yet rich coconut flavor. 

There is sweetened dessicated coconut in the batter that adds some texture to the cake itself which is a nice contrast to the smooth icing.  I toasted some coconut to sprinkle on top of the cupcakes.  The toasted brown color visually contrasts the bright white icing and creates yet another layer of texture in each bite.

The cake itself has a dense almost poundcake like texture.  This may be due to the fact that I committed a culinary sin with this recipe; I failed to read through the recipe before beginning.  I began as I normally would with a cupcake.  Cream butter, add sugar and cream…now this is where my brain decided that “cream” meant coconut milk instead of cream as in “To rub or work soft butter, sometimes with sugar, against the sides of a bowl until creamy or fluffy.” As I add in the milk I start to think to myself, this doesn’t seem quite right.  This is the time (too late) that I read through the recipe and realize my fatal error! Here is the batter at this point…

I make the decision to keep going and challenge this baking rule of mixing technique.  If I’d followed the recipe correctly I might have ended up with a different cupcake…but these were just fine!

This recipe is written as it should be.  If you’d like to try my method, I’ve included that as an alternate set of instructions below the recipe.

Coconut Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup of canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut toasted for sprinkling


1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and cream till light and fluffy again, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.

2 Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each to ensure mixing. Be sure to scrape down the sides after each egg to ensure even mixing.

3 Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in one bowl. In another add 1 cup of a well shaken can of coconut milk and a teaspoon of vanilla. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix, then add 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Continue alternating with the wet and dry mixtures, ending with the dry. Stop mixing once just as the ingredients become incorporated; do not overbeat.

4 Fold in the coconut. Scoop into cupcake papers about one half to three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15 to ensure even baking. Be sure to check with a toothpick to see if the cupcakes are done. If the toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean, then they’re ready. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or two in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


1 Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scraped down the sides and bottom.

2 Slowly add the powdered sugar, taste as you go adding more sugar until you have reached the desired sweetness.

3 Spread onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top and serve.

Makes 18-20 cupcakes.

“Carrie can’t read the directions” Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and coconut milk and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.

2 Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each to ensure mixing. Be sure to scrape down the sides after each egg to ensure even mixing.

3 Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in one bowl.  Add dry ingredients and mix on low.  Stop mixing once just as the ingredients become incorporated; do not overbeat.

4 Fold in the coconut. Scoop into cupcake papers about one half to three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15 to ensure even baking. Be sure to check with a toothpick to see if the cupcakes are done. If the toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean, then they’re ready. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or two in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Accidental Peach Cobbler

I bought peaches for a dinner party a few nights ago.  My plan was to cut them in half, remove the pit, sprinkle with some brown sugar, broil them and serve with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream…tada!  The easiest dessert next to scooping ice cream from a carton into a bowl!  I will have to try this another time. Due to the extreme fun of the evening as it progressed, dessert became an afterthought and I found myself with 6 beautiful peaches and not a thing to do with them.  The wheels start turning and I raid my kitchen…a container of blackberries…butter…sugar… it shall be a COBBLER!  I usually end up making crisps, with oats and pecans.  I wanted to try more of a cake or biscuit type topping for this dessert just to shake things up.  After all, I am a culinary rebel.  I referenced a few different recipes and came up with this one.  I must admit, this was delicious despite the fact that I kinda burt the topping 🙂  Here are the changes I would make for future cobbler endeavors.

1.  Add 1 more containers of blackberries unless you don’t like seeds, just add more peaches

2.  A teaspoon or so more cornstarch to counter the slight soupiness

3.  Don’t let Ben have any…more for me

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

4-6 fresh peaches peeled, pitted and sliced

1 (or 2) containers fresh blackberries

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 t lemon juice

3 t cornstarch (will try 4 next time)

1/2 t cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 2 quart casserole.  Cook for 10 minutes in 400 oven.

1 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar (or use half brown, half white)

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

6 T cold butter cut into cubes

1/4 cup boiling water

Combine all ingredients through salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut butter into flour mixture until the butter is in small pieces and the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Mix in water until just combined.  Take casserole out of the oven and drop dough on top of the fruit in mounds.  Sprinkle top of cobbler with a few tablespoons of white sugar and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Top should be lightly browned and fruit bubbly.

Dinner Party

What I had envisioned as a quiet evening for two became a dinner party for 6 in about half an hour this past Sunday evening. When I am having people over for dinner I like to put quite a bit of planning and thought in to the meal. However, as of noon on Sunday I still had not decided what to make for dinner! I finally decided on steak and a bread and vegetable salad. Ben is the steak master, and I’d had the salad at a cooking class with Rebecca Rather at Central Market earlier this summer, so I felt like it would be a nice and fairly easy meal to put together. I decided to make prosciutto wrapped parmesan breadsticks from a Giada DeLaurentis cookbook. Ben suggested that we also have some port salut cheese and crackers. We went to the grocery store together which is a rare occasion. Having a grocery partner is much more fun than going alone! I’m including the salad recipe below. I would include the steak recipe as well, but it’s Ben’s secret and I am not even allowed within 5 feet of the kitchen when he makes it…ok, not really. I just don’t know exactly what he uses. The meal ended up being pretty delicious. I would recommend tossing the salad just an hour or so ahead and try not to have leftovers or overdress it. I found myself with an unsalvagavle bowl of lovely vegetables tossed with soggy, deteriorating bread cubes at the end of the night. I hate throwing food away, so next time I’ll either make half the recipe or just toss half the veggies with half the bread and save the rest for the next day.

Summer Vegetable Bread Salad
1 loaf sourdough cut into 1-inch cubes and toasted
4 ears of corn cooked and taken off the cob
3 large heirloom tomatoes cut in wedges (I used 8 campari tomatoes)
1 large cucumber sliced and seeded
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
2 bell peppers cubed (I used 1 yellow and 1 orange)
1 T each roughly chopped basil & parsley

2 t minced garlic
2 t dijon mustard
6 T red wine vinegar
2 t honey
1 t salt
1/2 cup good olive oil

Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil. Drizzle in oil while whisking dressing until combined.

Toss all vegetables except for herbs in a large bowl. 45 minutes before serving, toss vegetables, herbs, bread cubes and vinaigrette. Let sit at room temperature until serving.


I came across this site again today after many months of neglecting it.  Here are a few of the ones that made me laugh out loud.  Can anyone explain to me why exactly I find these so humorous?  I don’t think I would find it as funny if the cats were replaced with dogs.  I am a bit embarrassed that I am so amused by them…but alas, I cannot deny that I am easily entertained.  Give me a silly animal picture and slap a few words on it and you’ve got me hooked.

more cat pictures
more cat pictures
more cat pictures
more cat pictures

Snickers Taste Test

In line at the grocery store I spot a Snickers bar, a dark chocolate Snickers bar AND an almond Snickers.  We used to have a cat named Snickers, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this post.  I decided to get all 3 and conduct a little taste test.  Before beginning the tasting I tried to guess which one I would like the best or if they would just be too different to choose a favorite or if my palate was just not one to properly conduct and judge this kind of contest!  Then I realized…they are just Snickers and no one reads your blog ANYWAY!  So, the tasting began.  I had a glass of water on hand to cleanse my distinguishing palate between bites.  I take a bite of original Snickers taking time to savoy the flavors…very comforting and familiar.  Sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy.  Dark chocolate Snickers…different texture (harder chocolate shell) but similar insides.  The dark chocolate does make the flavors a little different, less sweet.  Here I go back and forth between original and dark a few times.  Then on to almond Snickers which has the least fat and calories of the three!  Oh, wait, it is also the smallest in net wt.  About 0.25 oz less.  Tricky.  Now I like this almond variation.  The nuts have a crunchier texture than the peanut and, lets face it, almonds are way more sophisticated a nut than the peanut…which is A LEGUME mind you!  The verdict is…Snickers Original!  Snickers almond is a close second and dark chocolate comes in third.  I hope you use this information the next time you find yourself standing in line at your local grocery store.

Motorcycle Cake Update

I completely forgot to post the picture of the completed motorcycle cake we had made for my Dad’s 60th birthday!  It was a hit and my Dad really liked the cake.  It was quite impressive AND it tasted great as well…a tough thing to do with cake 🙂  Here are a few pictures and the link to the bakery in Austin who made the cake.  I highly recommend this bakery.  We had the Valrhona chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream…delicious!

Cupcake Sundae

I drove to Austin for my sisters 22nd birthday.  With Sarah, no trip is complete without a stop at Whole Foods on Lamar.  I frequent the coffee bar at Whole Foods where a display case is always full of delicious looking cupcakes.  Now, these are not your simple frosted cupcakes.  On this Sunday afternoon the case boasted cupcakes that looked like apple pies, hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream sundaes…with a cherry on top!  I am usually just an observer of the cupcakes, but when Sarah and I went to pay for our coffees the guy at the check out (who had noticed us drooling on the display case) asked us which cupcake we were going to get…so we got one.  The precious cupcake traveled back to Round Rock and was dessert for Sarah and me.  Beautiful and impressive…yes.  Delicious…not so much.  It was edible (and I ate it) but not the moistest cake or the tastiest icing I’ve ever had.  The consistency of the cake was more like dry sweet cornbread, much like the cupcake I ate at Cupcake Cafe in New York…also beautiful and unpalatable.  I don’t think you have to sacrifice taste for beauty, but this cupcake did.

Not All Cereals are Created Equal

I have fond memories of eating bowls and bowls of sugary cereal as a kid.  My mom would always buy us healthy cereals most of the time.  However, on our birthday we would get to pick a birthday cereal.  This is when I would enjoy the wonders of Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Honey Combs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  There is something special about Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  It leaves your milk so absolutely cinnamon-sugary wonderful that drinking the milk from the bowl is just about as good as eating the cereal!  Anyway, with food prices going up, up and away I have been trying to buy more store brands.  Ben and I were at HEB a few weeks ago and I picked up a box of the generic brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch called Cinni-Mini Crunch.  As I place the box in the cart, Ben says “No, you can’t buy that.  It doesn’t taste the same.”  With a sigh and an eye roll I get the regular and more expensive Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I’m at HEB a few days ago and I decide that I’m going to buy the Cinni-Mini Crunch despite Ben’s warning.  I ate a bowl of it yesterday morning and…Ben was right!  It looked the same and smelled the same, but upon the first square of cereal entering my mouth I could tell that it was not the General Mills cereal known as Curiously Cinnamon in the UK.  So, my husband was right and generic CTC is just not as tasty as the real thing.  Lesson learned.

Cooking and Controversy

I attended a cooking class last night at Central Market in Austin.  Rebecca Rather, who I have blogged about before, taught the class.  On the menu: cold cucumber soup, bread salad with summer vegetables, frosted sugar cookies, molten chocolate cakes, and ginger peach upside down cake.  I’m not going to go into detail about the class.  The food was tasty, especially the bread salad and peach cake.  My reason for writing is to address an issue I started contemplating on my drive back to Waco last night.  Cooks, chefs, cooking teachers and cooking entertainers…who is more worthy?  More important?  More talented?  During the class last night, someone mentionned a show on the Food Network and referred to the host as a chef, to which Chef Rather replied, “Well, those people aren’t really chefs.” as she stirred another unknown and unexplained ingredient into the recipe I was suppossed to be “learning” to make.  I have been to other classes at Central Market where the chef teaching the class really explained what she was doing, why it was important to cream butter and sugar thoroughly, how to tell how well meat was cooked just by poking it, and how to avoid common cooking problems.  The class was entertaining and I ate great food.  None of those teachers, however, owned 5 star restaurants, had their own cooking show, and had also written numerous award winning cookbooks.  Can anyone be an incredible chef, teacher, entertainer, and business owner all at the same time?  Emeril Lagasse entertains and has a celebrity personality.  I wonder about his cooking abilities at times.  Rebecca Rather has two successful businesses and has written great cookbooks…but she was not the best teacher.  Christopher Kimball can explain in great detail how to make the perfect poundcake, but I would not want to watch him on tv.  Anthony Bordain wrote an entertaining article about the Food Network.  I agree with some of the ranting, but also think that not all people in the business of food can or should be judged on the same criteria.  Ok, so Rachel Ray is annoying and none of her recipes seem too amazing or inventive to me…but she’s incredibly popular, she’s easy to relate to and she’s doing quite well for herself I imagine.  Part of me says “What a shame it is that people like that are making tons of money making mediocre food while well trained chefs at small, increbibly delicious and wonderfully innovative restaurants go unnoticed by the majority of the population.”  Maybe that’s how it SHOULD be.  Maybe fame would ruin those chefs and their restaurants.  If those chefs decided to write a cook book and create a line of their food to sell at HEB maybe they would be spreading themselves too thin and the restaurant would no longer be a success.  Do I think that the Food Network people are the best chefs out there?  No.  Do I think they should be burned at the stake for making recipes using store bought foods?  No.  This brings me to the battle between Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star.  These shows are completely different.  You can’t even really compare them.  Top Chef looks for a true CHEF who can really cook.  They don’t have to be funny, witty, clever or good looking.  Food Network Star is all about personality and presentation…and their food must be edible.  In conclusion, people are different, people have different talents and that’s just how it is.  Is it fair for people with less cooking talent to make more money than those CIA trained chefs?  As I tell my fifth graders…life is not fair.  That is my two cents.