Cookbook update: Six Down

4 months in to my New Year Plan to make one recipe out of each of my cookbooks, and I’m not doing as good as I thought I would be. Time to step it up.

Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

You may remember this book from that time I tried make fake spaghetti and meatball cupcakes (incidentally, to find that link I went through every blogpost tagged “cupcake”. It was a delicious odyssey through my past.) This book is awesome, but often sets the bar way too high. I’m terrible at art things in general, and feel very accomplished if I can frost something better than a five-year-old. The technique explanations in the front are helpful, but I think I would need a lot more practice to do most of the suggestions in here. Others look really cool, but might not taste very good, like the fake corn on the cob cupcakes made out of yellow and white jellybeans. Anyway, it took me awhile to choose a recipe that I thought looked easy enough for me to accomplish and also good enough for me to eat:

You've seen these guys before

You’ve seen these guys before

The hardest part was separating out the Oreos so that all the frosting was on one side. Recipe at the end.

Also, the slightly less dramatic:

The Everything Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Pamela Rice Hahn

The Everything Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Pamela Rice Hahn

This one may be less flashy than cupcakes, but there’s no denying it’s super useful. We got it as a wedding present from the Wiess masters (well, I guess the ex-Wiess masters by then) along with a magical pressure cooker/slow cooker/rice cooker device. It is easily the best kitchen thing I own. Seriously, you should get one if you like cooking at all. We use it at least two or three times a week, whether to cook rice or chicken fast or to slow cook a whole meal. I decided to try something I’ve always wanted to make:

Pear butter

Pear butter!

The recipe was really easy (as you can see after the cut), but it didn’t turn out like I was expecting. In the end, it was more like an applesauce consistency than a butter. Still delicious on a toasted English muffin though!

Recipes:

Owl Cupcakes

So there isn’t really a recipe for this as such, but here are my steps:
Ingredients:
Chocolate cupcakes
Chocolate Frosting
Oreos
M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces or whatever

1) Make chocolate cupcakes
2) Frost them
3) Twist the Oreos apart, being careful to get all the frosting on one side. A few seconds in the microwave might help.
4) Use a paring knife to kind of whittle the non-befrostinged Oreo halves in half. If you try to break or cut them, they’ll snap in jagged, uneven pieces, so just whittling away slowly is better, making a line over and over again
5) Place two Oreo quarters at the top of each cupcake for eyebrows (ears?)
6) Place two Oreo halves over these to be eyes
7) Place two candies in the middle for eyeballs
8) Place one candy sideways below these for the beak, pressing it in to the cupcake slightly

Pear Butter
Ingredients:
6 medium Bartlett pears
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbl fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 orange slices
1 lemon slice
2 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
some salt

1) Peal, core, and dice pears. Add them to the pressure cooker with wine and lemon juice. Bring to low pressure for 8 minutes.
2) Turn off heat and release pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure and remove lid. Puree mixture in blender.
3) Return puree to pressure cooker (or a pan on the stove). Add sugar, stirring and cooking over low heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Increase heat to medium and boil gently for about 30 minutes.
4) Remove orange and lemon slices, cloves, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean pod. Cool and refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freeze for 4 months.

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