Sunday, October 26, 2008

A baking filled weekend and some calculating too.

Ergggh... I just lost my post. I have some great pictures from the bake sale but cannot find my camera cord. We had a bake sale to benefit the Simple Room this weekend at the Panther 5k and homecoming football game. I will put some pictures up next week.

As for programming, I'm working on my calculator and think I have a pretty good grasp on it, but I'm having trouble getting at retrieving the second number the user enters. I will most likely be in for office hours. Well, I'm off to go work on it some more before I go to bed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spooky spooky

I missed my last blog post! I didn't even realize it. I was in Ohio for the weekend and time slipped through my fingers. I am excited that we are moving a new direction in programming; the windows application seems a lot more interesting and fun to use. We will get to be a lot more creative with our programs.
Because Halloween is just around the corner, I decided to bake some spooky spider cupcakes. These cupcakes are from the book Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor. They are a really dark cupcake with orange frosting, with a spider cookie on top.
To make the spider cookies, first melt down 2 1/2 cups of chocolate chips with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup milk. (I used semi-sweet chocolate chunks, as they were on sale this week.) Once that gets all smooth, stir in a 1/2 cup cocoa pebbles cereal and 3/4 cup crushed chow mein noodles. Drop the mixture by spoonfuls onto a foil-lined or parchment-lined baking sheet. Then, stick 8 chow mein noodles into the sides of each little blob to make a spider. It should look like this.

Look at the little guy! He's so cute. Now just put them all in the fridge so they can firm up.

Next, prepare the cupcake batter. Into a large mixing bowl, put one chocolate cake mix, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Mix it all on low speed for 30 seconds, and then on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the edges of the bowl with a spatula. It should look like this.

Sorry for the weird shadow. Then, scoop the cupcake batter into paper-lined muffin tins. I used regular-sized and mini-sized, but you can do whatever. Bake them a 350* for about 20 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly touched.
Now for the assembly. I just used store-bought frosting and dyed it orange. You can do whatever. First, you want to put a little bit of orange frosting into a ziploc bag and cut off the corner so you can give the little spiders eyes.

Then, you'll just want to frost the cupcake with the orange frosting and place the spider cookie on top! That simple. I frosted most of the little cupcakes with some leftover chocolate frosting and put candy corn on them. Mmmmm...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Apple Days = Apple Pi

I mean apple pie... hehe...

In good ole Greenville today there was Apple Days! on the square. I was intrigued so I thought I would check it out. I walked through the whole shindig in about 10 minutes, finding a lot of fried food, a lot of kids, and a lot of garage sale stuff. However, I did buy a 5-lb. bag of apples at Wayne's Produce stand. So I thought... I must bake something with apples. I found a recipe for caramel apple pie that sounded good, so I spent my afternoon baking it.

Before I begin the process of the apple pie baking--a little about my programming. This week we studied and worked with interfaces. It seems pretty simple, and I was able to create my program pretty quickly, even without tutoring help. I'm glad that I'm feeling more comfortable with the material. Anyways, onto the pie.

First, I made a home-made pie crust. You could just buy a pre-made one at the store, but I'm cheap and I already had the ingredients to make one homemade. It doesn't take long, and it tastes wonderful.

For this crust, start with 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 1/3 cup shortening in little chunks. Then cut the shortening in with two knives, or a pastry cutter.
Next, add 4-5 tablespoons of cold water until the mixture starts to hold together. Then roll it all into a ball. Roll the ball into a big flat circle. Or, an amoeba-like blob, like mine. Whatever works.

Then, fold the circle into fourths and place in pie plate. Unfold in pie plate, and flute edges. I did this special scallop edge thing, but you can just fold it under if you want. Or, you can do like my mom does, and press the edges with a fork.

Now for the filling. First you must start with the apples.

I didn't use all these apples, I think I used 8. You need to turn the above apples into the below apples. You do this by peeling slicing. It takes a long time. To avoid boredom, I moved my peeling and slicing station into the living room so I could watch TV. This was probably not the most sanitary move, but it's not like our house is that sanitary anyways.

Next up, you need to chop pecans for the filling and the crumb topping. If you have a food processor, you could just throw the pecans in there and chop them up. However, I don't, so I just used a knife. I chopped up probably about a cup. You could also use walnuts, and that would probably taste great, too.

Save half of these chopped pecans for the crumb topping. Mix the other half with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons white sugar, 4 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Then mix this with the apples. Resulting in this.

Next, comes the secret to the caramel apple pie. Spread about 1/4 cup of caramel ice cream topping in the bottom of the crust. Then, dump the whole apple mixture into the caramel-lined crust. Then, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle that over the apples. This is not a healthy pie, folks. Well, it's probably healthier than a caramel-lined chocolate pie. But that will be for a different day.

Somehow I did not get a picture of the apple-filled crust. Oh wells.

Now for the crumb topping.

Combine in a bowl the following: rest of the pecans from earlier, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks.

Do the same you did earlier for the crust, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Then sprinkle the whole mixture over the apples in the pan. It should look like this.

Put this baby in a 350* oven for 55-60 minutes, or until it is golden brown and gets all juicy. Mmmmm....
I had a hard time getting the lighting right with these finished pictures. There was no natural light, as it was nighttime.

Some friends came over to watch the Cubs. What's more American than baseball and apple pie?



Thanks guys for taste-testing!

Happy baking everyone!

Here's the recipe:

Caramel Apple Pie

  • 7 cups sliced apples
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • CRUMB TOPPING, recipe follows

Combine apples with lemon juice and vanilla. Combine pecnas, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch; add to apples. Spread caramel topping in bottom of unbaked pie shell. Pour apple mixture over caramel. Drizzle with melted butter. Top with CRUMB TOPPING. Bake at 350* for 55-60 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter

Combine flour, pecans, and brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly.