Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Downton Abbey eats (and yes I'm alive)

Whoa -- I can't believe my last post was in August and looking back, the topic is ironic. Soon after I wrote that, I got a call to interview for a job position back in my old Birmingham stomping grounds. And guess what! I got the job and started a few months ago at FOX6 News.

My official title is Community Web Producer which means I blog for 27 neighborhood websites, process video and write stories for my main news site, and take care of the station's social network.

But I'm ready to get back into it, even if it's a little soft. Spending all day online and writing takes a lot outta ya, so it's taken me a while to get settled into the new routine in addition to returning to B'ham.

Now for the good stuff! A small group of friends and I are in love with Downton Abbey and get together each Sunday for a viewing party. And being the food lovers we are, we have to have something to nibble on.

For the first episode we went a little carb happy (I wasn't that sad) and had ginger scones, cranberry-oatmeal bars, and red velvet cupcakes. And of course we washed it down with tea. My friend Liz, who made the scones, used a Cook's Illustrated recipe and added a vanilla glaze. The scones are not sweet so the glaze was a perfect addition.

Last week, we dialed it back a bit and my friend Hannah baked not-too-sweet chocolate cupcakes. I could have just eaten the frosting and been happy! Liz, who is a recipe developer, stepped up and created a fun cheese plate for us from the Whole Foods cheese counter. 

She chose a dill havarti (possibly havarti -- I just know it was good), a truffled goat cheese, an aged gouda, and a red wine-washed goat cheese. I think the gouda and red wine-washed were my faves. Rounded out with some Wheat Thins, apple slices and clementines -- irresistible.

Last week I was going to bake some Bea's Brownies, but I had to work, boo. We had some very severe weather with a few tornadoes in Alabama in the wee hours of Monday morning, so I was up in the studio with the weather crew Tweeting furiously. I think I will make them for this weekend because now I'm craving them!

Now for the good part! Check out the recipes for the baked goods and enjoy!

Steven Smith teas -- we had White Petal, Meadow and Mao Feng Shui

Ginger scones with vanilla glaze -- Life of Spice blog has a similar recipe. As for the glaze, you can simply search "vanilla glaze for scones" and come up with several versions.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
2 eggs 
2 tablespoons red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk together soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl and mix well.

Add the remaining wet ingredients to the curdled milk and whisk well. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until large lumps disappear.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting when cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together margarine and cream cheese with a mixer until combined. Add the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup batches, mixing until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate sour cream icing
My friend Hannah used the following recipes with a few changes
Cooking Light Chocolate Cupcakes (with butter and 2% milk)
About.com Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (using only 2 cups powdered sugar)

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