Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blogging by Mail: Package has arrived

My Blogging by Mail package arrived a couple of days ago, all the way from Australia. It was sent by Silver from Dragon Musings, another mom with three young kids. All three of my kids were quite excited to see what was in the package especially since the box was decorated with Winnie the Pooh.

Inside the box were
-Tim Tam biscuits, an Australian cookie that I had heard about but never tried. These particular ones are pink inside and only are sold in October.
-A large bag of Mixed Berry Brownies. Even though they had traveled for 10 days, they were still very good, brownies definitely travel well.
-A bar of Mixed Berry Chocolate and the recipe for the brownies so that I can make them myself
-A package of Cadbury chocolates with Australian animals on each wrapper for the kids (Gina loved the picture of the Tasmanian Devil, though she keeps calling it a bear)
-A diary for 2009 (this will definitely get a lot of use)
-A recipe magazine. I love cooking magazines and can't wait to read this one.
-A can of Spam. She had read on my blog that I had never tried Spam so now is my chance.

Thanks again to Silver. I really enjoyed getting this package and I'll be checking out your blog whenever I get a chance.

My package was sent to Fran at apple, peaches, pumpkin pie.

A big thank you to Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness for organizing this. It was a lot of work with 117 participants.

Baking GALS: Cookies in the mail

A while back I came across this group called Baking GALS. It is a group of bloggers who organize bakers to send goodies to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afganistan. Each group sends to one specific soldier who then shares all the treats with his buddies.

This afternoon I made Blondies with Andrew's help. The recipe is from Cooks Illustrated and it is very easy. I had grand plans to make another kind of cookie but that never happened. I did buy lots of other stuff to fill the box and the kids donated their Halloween candy.

In addition to the Blondies pictured below, I also am sending several packs of gum, two bags of peanuts, two packs of dried mango from Trader Joe's, two boxes of granola bars, lots of Halloween candy and today's Sunday edition of the San Jose Mercury News. The box goes in the mail tomorrow.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween cupcakes

I needed to bring some kind of treat for Gina's Halloween carnival at school and originally I was going to bake some kind of cookie. Then I saw these cupcakes on a local blog and changed my mind. They are called Tombstone Cupcakes. In the original posting, the cupcakes are black bottom cupcakes while I opted for the Betty Crocker mix this time. I did make my own chocolate frosting. The original posting also used homemade shortbread cookies. I knew I wouldn't have time for that so I bought Oatmeal cranberry Dunker cookies from Trader Joes. They have white chocolate drizzled on them which created a nice effect. I couldn't find chocolate wafer cookies at the store so I used chocolate bunny graham crackers and crushed them finely for the dirt. I also made a few little marshmallow ghosts.

Chocolate Frosting (from alpineberry blog) - I doubled this
(makes about 1.5 cups frosting which is enough to frost 12 cupcakes)

2 ounces (4 tbsp / half stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (either natural or Dutch-processed is fine)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2-3 tbsp milk or water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter and cocoa powder until mixture is soft and well combined. Add the confectioners' sugar, 2 tbsp milk and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add the last tablespoon of milk if frosting is too stiff.