November Foodie Pen Pals- Reveal Day!

**Unfortunately, I lost all of my photos for this post. Please continue reading to find out more about the program!**

Wow, sorry for my blatant lack of posting! I was on vacation with my family in Colorado over Thanksgiving and have been stuck at work all week! I have some exciting stuff coming up in December and I can’t wait to do some baking this weekend!

This was my second month participating in the Foodie Pen Pals (FPP) program. This program is about connecting blog readers, writers and foodies! Foodie Pen Pals is organize by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean. Each month, you sign up and get paired with another blogger or reader. Once the pairings go out, your pen pal emails you to find out what food you like or dislike. Based on their answers, you prepare a box of goodies to send out to them while a different pen pal sends a box of goodies to you. I mean really, who doesn’t love getting surprise packages in the mail! For more information about FPP, click the button below.

The Lean Green Bean

I got a package from Andrea, she is a blog reader from Missouri. She wanted to make sure that I got lots of goodies I would enjoy, so she asked me questions about the foods I like and dislike. I replied with a long and random list of all sorts of stuff, and I couldn’t wait to see what Andrea picked out.

Included in my package was a wonderful hand written note from Andrea explaining her reasons for choosing each item in the box. I think this is one of my favorite parts of the FPP, because I love picking out each item for my pen pal. So I am always curious about why each item was chosen for me.

Andrea sent me Lentil chips. They are so different from anything I have ever tried. Light, crisp and savory with a salty twist.They are all natural with not artificial colors or flavors, no preservatives and no trans fat. If you are looking for a new healthy snack, give these a whirl!

My other favorite items I got this month was Moose munch! This stuff is so addicting! Lastly, a special thank you for sending me some local honey! I will surely enjoy this. Andrea suggested I try a honey buttercream, and I just might take her up on that!

This month, I sent a box to Debbie in Arizona. Debbie is a blogger of Accidentally Delicious.

Debbie enjoys natural and wholesome foods. She is also a big fan of jams! My Foodie Pen Pal did such an awesome job last month that I actually went out and bought some of those same things I got for Debbie! The individual hummus packets are now a staple in my house. I hope you liked the items I picked out Debbie!

Next month, Foodie Pen Pals is raising money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy #FPP4Sandy. Instead of sending a box to another participant, we will be donating the money we would have spent on our packages to a relief fund. If you don’t feel like donating money, there will also be a place where you can send a holiday care package to those who may not be able to celebrate this year. I think this is a fantastic idea and encourage you to get involved! Send me a message or visit Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean.

Mini Apple Pies with Gluten-free Crust

Mini desserts are my favorite because I am a fan of tasting. I don’t need a whole cheesecake, or ice cream sundae; I just want a taste. My second obsession is desserts in jars, but more on that later. I started seeing a lot of mini pies popping up all over food blogs and I was instantly intrigued.

If you are short on time, you can buy a frozen pie crust at the grocery store. One box (2 crusts) will make 6 mini apple pies. The recipe I use for my pie crust is from The Pioneer Woman blog,  and by substituting a few ingredients, it is very easy to make a delicious gluten-free crust! Several wonderful friends in my life are gluten-free and it is nice for me to be able to share my desserts with them. Click here for the gluten-free pie crust recipe.

The perfect single serving size!

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My favorite Pie Crust! You would never know it’s Gluten-Free!

When I made this pie crust for the first time, I was hooked. It was easy to prepare, rolls out well and tastes amazing! I don’t think I will ever make another pie crust again, especially since my boyfriend requests this one!

Note: To make the non gluten-free version, just substitute all purpose flour instead of gluten-free flour and omit the Xanthan gum. This pie crust it wonderfully flakey, and melts in your mouth. If you are someone like me, who enjoys sneaking a taste of uncooked pie crust, the gluten free version is not taste good because of the Xanthan gum.

Pioneer Woman’s “Perfect Pie Crust”, adapted to be gluten-free
Yields 2 large pie crusts (or 12-14 mini pies)

3 C All purpose gluten free flour (I use Red Mill)

1 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum

1 1/2 C Vegetable shortening

1 Egg

5 tbsp Cold water

1 tbsp Distilled white vinegar

1 tsp Salt

  • Combine the flour and xanthan gum and mix well.
  • Add the shortening and use a pastry cutter to blend the shortening into the flour until it forms small pebble like crumbs (Note that the gluten-free version will produce a very Play-Doh like consistency at this point because of the xanthan gum).

Cut the shortening into the flour

  • Lightly beat an egg and add it to the flour and shortening. Next add cold water and then distilled vinegar. Lastly, add the salt. Mix together using a wooden spoon just until combined.
  • Cut the dough in half, placing each half in a Ziploc bag. Using either a rolling pin or the palm of your hand, gently pat the dough out to form a circle. Each bag will make one pie crust.
  • Put in the Freezer for at least an hour, I prefer to freeze mine overnight. When you are ready, remove the crust from the freezer and let it thaw for at least 15 minutes.

I find this dough works best when cold, so no need to wait too long. If you are looking to make only the bottom of a pie crust, then only remove one of the crusts from the freezer.

I prefer to roll my piecrust out between two pieces of wax paper and coat each side of the crust with flour, because the gluten free piecrust can be sticky and can crumble easily. I have a hard time picking it up from the counter top without something underneath it. Otherwise I suggest using a very generously floured surface. Roll the dough from the middle-out, until you reach your desired thickness. If the dough gets too soft, I put it back in the fridge for a little while.

Roll out between wax paper

When you have rolled it out, use the wax paper to flip the pie crust into your pie plate. Pinch edges using your fingers or a fork to form a decorative edge. Add your fillings and bake according to your pie directions.

I prefer the thicker crust

Let me know what you think. It truly is the “perfect pie crust”!

Fall Cupcake Tasting Party

As my passion for cupcakes grew, so did my love for desert tables. I asked a friend of mine to gather a group of ladies together for a cupcake tasting party. The goal of my party was to offer my cupcakes to a new audience and get feedback on my flavors. For a month and a half I planned a menu, bought lots of decorations and baked and baked and baked some more. The hardest part for me was deciding what flavors to make!

Fall dessert table by Beyond Frosting

Since I had chosen six flavors, I knew I was in for a lot of work. I did as much as I could the day before the party. I did all my baking, and prepped some of the appetizers. I had very detailed design plans for each cupcake, including photos for inspiration, a list of materials needed and a decoration plan. I tried to stay as organized as possible. The day of the party was so exciting; I managed to stay pretty calm, up until about two hours before it started.

Here are the flavors I chose:

Biscoff Cookie Bliss: Vanilla cupcake with Biscoff cookie dough center topped with Biscoff buttercream and caramel drizzle

Biscoff Cookie Bliss cupcake with caramel drizzle

Oh My Apple Pie:Vanilla cupcake with fresh apple pie filling topped with cinnamon Swiss meringue buttercream. I made these two ways, both in the cupcake form and as to-go in jars!

Oh My Apple Pie cupcake

Oh My Apple Pie cupcakes in a jar

Pumpkin Up the Jam: Pumpkin cupcake with pumpkin mousse filling topped with cinnamon Swiss meringue buttercream

Pumpkin cupcakes with Fondant toppers

Triple Chocolate Brownie: Chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache filling, brownie batter frosting and topped with chunks of brownies and more ganache

Triple Chocolate Brownie cupcake

Chocolate Raspberry Dream: Chocolate cupcake with fresh raspberry filling, topped with chocolate mousse, a mini chocolate cupcake and more fresh raspberries

Chocolate Raspberry Dream cupcake

Red Velvet: Red velvet cupcake with white chocolate ganache filling, topped with cream cheese frosting

Red Velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting

For my table decorations, I had to be creative, since I did not want to invest too much money in elaborate food displays.  I knew it was important to have a variety of levels to display my cupcakes. I wrapped boxes in brown craft paper, burlap and lace. I really loved the way the boxes turned out. I got some mini pumpkins and wrapped them in ribbons to use as fillers on the table. I originally saw the idea on Good Housekeeping. I just think they are so stinking cute.

Fall dessert table

I purchased four square plates, which held nine cupcakes each. I lined each plate with a colored piece of paper. This is a tip I learned from the Amy Atlas blog, (if you like party planning, I highly recommend following her blog).  I also purchased the black cupcake stand at Target and the glass dessert tray from Ikea. I shopped for inexpensive decorations in the dollar section at Target as well. I am very happy with my purchases because I know I will use them again!

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Foodie Finds!

Okay, I have to admit, I am becoming addicted to my foodie finds. Maybe it’s the holiday shopping fever, maybe it has to do with finally starting my blog, who knows. Regardless, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Cake Boss! Who doesn’t love this show!

The cake boss is in town! Well I guess he is in many towns now, since this display was in my local grocery store! They are $25 and there were two cake design options, I think I prefer the balloons.

So much fun stuff!

Mission Sweet cinnamon and sugar tortilla chips. I must admit I was tempted, but I held back. One day I will come back for you.

The perfect Tortilla bowl molds! I was at Los Agaves (my favorite Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara) recently and they are now serving some of their dishes in these awesome tortilla bowls. I must have them, only $10.99.

Pie bite press at target for $9.99. I think I am going to have a very hard time trying not to buy a dozen things every time I go into target. I feel like I have to walk the Christmas section every time I go in, so I don’t miss anything. Let me know if you have ever tried something like this, I am very curious.

Bakery boxes in the dollar bins! You can’t really beat that deal. There were several different colors, I grabbed all of the snowflakes ones. It comes with a divider so you can put four cupcakes or different types of cookies in them. Now I have to look for them every time I go dangit!

Show me some of your Foodie Finds!