Chef Lily Bakes Sunshine Cupcakes

Chef Lily is sunshine. Her light blond hair is only the outside representation of her sunny disposition. Lily wakes up every morning at around 5:45 am with an indescribable joy to be alive. (The other members of her household are not as excited that she’s awake so early.) Her happy smile lights up the room and it’s hard to resist. After that intro, who else could make sunshine cupcakes except Chef Lily.


Sunshine Cupcakes with Pomelo Marmalade Buttercream Frosting

Gather It

Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pineapple, chopped

Frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup Pomelo Marmalade
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Make It

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners (makes 24 regular size cupcakes)
  •  
  • Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until smooth
  •   
  • Add eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract until combine
  •  
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • Add half of flour mixture to butter mixture and gently stir
  • Add milk and stir
  • Add remaining flour mixture and stir
  • Add lemon zest, coconut, macadamia nuts and pineapple until combined
  •  
  • Use spoon or scoop to divide cupcake batter evenly into 24 cupcake paper liners
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minute until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  • Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting (you may choose to eat a piping hot cupcake right out of the oven just to make sure they’re ok)

Frosting

  • Cream butter and powdered sugar together until smooth
  • Add Pomelo Marmalade, milk and vanilla extract until combined
  • Frost cupcakes
  •  
  • Lick some of the remaining frosting from the bowl

Gobble It

  • After frosting the 21 or so cupcakes that are remaining after you “tested” more than one, enjoy with a big glass of milk on a warm sunny day and smile
  •  

Aunt Becky’s Freezer Jam Classes at the Library

Aunt Becky will be teaching freezer jam class at two Multnomah County (Portland metro area) libraries in July. Freezer jam is the most simple and easy to make of all jam methods. It’s perfect for a beginner!

berry basket

You will learn how to make freezer jam from start to finish. The flavor of jam will depend on seasonal availability of local Oregon fruit. Materials include information on basic freezer jam recipes, ingredient information (e.g., types of sugar and sugar substitutes), and local Oregon farm locations for picking your own fruit.

Classes sizes are limited on a first-come, first-serve basis. Here are the details:

  • Thursday, July 9th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, Hollywood Meeting Room at 4040 NE Tillamook Street, Portland OR
  • Monday, July 13th from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Gregory Heights Library at 7921 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland OR

If you’re interested in classes at your library or other location, please email Aunt Becky at http://www.auntbecky@gmail.com. See you at the library!

Check out the library website for more information here.

Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Brownies with Blackberry Merlot Jam

Luscious chocolate bombs of goodness filled with melty blackberry merlot jam. Bonus is these take less than 10 minutes to make and 20 minutes to bake.

Gather It

 

  • Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix (also need one egg, water and vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup Aunt Becky’s Blackberry Merlot Jam

Make It

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Follow instructions on box for brownie mix
  • Fill muffin tin with 12 paper liners
  • Using measured scoop, fill paper liners 1/3 full of brownie mix
  • Add 1 tsp. jam
  • Divide remaining brownie mix into paper liners
  • Bake 20 minutes until brownies are done

Gobble It

Who are we kidding? Don’t wait for the brownies to cool! Use a butter knife to wedge a brownie out of the piping hot muffin tin. Try not to burn your finders as you delicately tear the paper off the brownie over a bowl. Since it’s warm, I guarantee the brownie will fall apart. Add a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream. Sneak to another room in your house to hide from your significant other/children/dog to gobble it down quickly and secretly.

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread is here! And it’s good! I mean really good! And there are no natural or artificial sugar substitutes. The only ingredients are Hood Strawberries, organic cane sugar, pectin, water and calcium powder (used with pectin to thicken).

The Story – Drew’s Jam

My almost-adopted 5 year old nephew “Drew” (previously referred to as “A”) has a hard time processing sugar. Like almost every kid, Drew loves candy, jam, etc. Unfortunately, every time he eats sugar, he takes a lot more trips to what I call “Melt-down City” for the next 24 hours. So occasionally he is allowed to eat sugar or sugar-free candy, but he can’t enjoy Aunt Becky’s Special Jam very often. Not wanting to compromise on taste, I went about developing a jam that he could eat with every PB&J sandwich and Eggo waffle. After all, I spoil and I’m not Aunt Becky for nothing!

The Sugar

As I mentioned, one goal of making a reduced sugar product was to spoil my nephew Drew in a manner that I feel is adequate. I also wanted to provide a product that my brother-in-law Scott and many of my other customers could enjoy. Scott has diabetes and has to watch his blood sugar really carefully.

Most reduced sugar jams either contain a sugar substitute which often leaves a weird after-taste or uses another natural sweetner. Since both Drew and Scott have to limit sweets in general, a sugar substitute like honey or white grape juice or agave was not a option.

Organic cane sugar at 1/3 the amount of Aunt Beckys regular Hood Strawberry Fruit Spread combines with uber sweet little Hood strawberries to make a bright red, lovely fruit spread.

The Cause – Alliance for a Healthier Generation

When I’m not making jam or developing recipes or selling at a craft show or farmers’ market, I have a day job I love. I work for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (the Alliance). The goal of the Alliance is to reduce childhood obesity. It’s a mission close to my heart. One dollar of every jar of Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread will be donated to the Alliance. Check out the Alliance website at www.healthiergeneration.org if you want to learn more about the Alliance or  www.teamhealthiergeneration.org to participate in a Team Healthier Generation event.

The Name

This is the funny part. When trying to decide what to call my new flavor, I asked for input from several people.

My co-worker Brian suggested “Mountain Strawberry Chutney” because of the big chunks of strawberries. Although I didn’t think the name quite captures what I am going for, now I might make some strawberry chutney!

Another co-worker Nicole suggested “Simply Sweet Strawberry”. This was a good suggestion as well, but didn’t give me a name if I want to create more reduced sugar flavors.

My sister Rachel came up with a LOT of ideas including:

  • Kick diabetes in the teeth
  • Take THAT glycemic index! Blam! Pow!
  • Delicious descent into jam world
  • Give sugar the shaft
  • Becky we shrunk the sugar
  • Try it or I’ll give you a knuckle sandwich (ala Lucy from Charlie Brown)
  • Less sugar but without the disgusting after-taste
  • You don’t have to worry it down (a nod to my Grandma Pauline)
  • You can eat three times as much. Please do, we’ll make more
  • Smackerel of sugar (thanks Winnie the Pooh)
  • So good, you’ll betray your friends to the White Witch (deep reference to the Chronicles of Narnia)

The best name suggestion was from my 4 year old nephew Lincoln, “Batman’s favorite jam!”

You can try a sample this Saturday, April 4th from 9am till 1pm at the Cedar Hills Recreation Center.

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade is a new limited edition batch for Spring.

Meyer Lemons are especially sweet with a flavor much more delicate than other lemons. Madagascar vanilla beans are rich, dark and creamy with an overwhelming sweet, buttery aroma. Vanilla bean paste is added to sweet Meyer Lemons for a delightfully sweet creamy combination.

Flecks of vanilla bean paste float in the cream lemony goodness. Meyer Lemon Vanilla Marmalade is a special edition, limited batch of just 10 jars. Check out the Contact Events and Shop page for details about upcoming shows or visit Aunt Becky’s Etsy shop to get your jar.   

Peach Bourbon Jam Oops!

A watched pot never boils…but it’s still important to watch a boiling pot. After a couple of months of making marmalade, my jam-making is a little rusty. I tried to whip up a huge batch of Peach Bourbon Jam last Saturday. First, I ran out of Bourbon. Then, my greedy heart filled my big jam pot with the last of the peaches I picked from last summer. So I transferred some of the jam to a second smaller pot. After simmering the alcohol off of the missing bourbon, I added it to both pots.

It was at this point that I made a fatal mistake (fatal to jam that is). I walked away from the stove. It was only for a couple of minutes, I swear. When I came back I expressed an expletive and stirred both pots quickly. It was no use. The batch in the large pot burned. I mean burned with the smell of scorched sugar that is unforgettable if you’ve ever tried to make a failed batch of toffee. (It’s possible I have burned a batch or two of toffee as well.) The only shining moment is that the small batch was saved.

Sadly, I only have 11 jars. Only 11 jars until August-ish of 2015! August! That’s way too long to wait for more. Alas, I have no other options. There’s no way to make the peaches grow and ripen any faster. And any peaches I could purchase from a wholesaler just won’t taste the same as the big juicy peaches I picked from a local Oregon orchard last summer.

Two of the jars are reserved for a special customer who says my Peach Bourbon Jam is “the best jam he’s ever had”. One jar is reserved for me. Because I need to make salmon baked with a Peach Bourbon Jam glaze once more between now and August. That leaves only 8 jars. So if the Peach Bourbon Jam is your favorite, don’t wait until April or May. Get it now. Get it quick.

Gracie is 10!

Gracie is 10! Double digits! Yes, she feels older. Yes, she is still the same sweet, beautiful, smart, creative and amazing girl. Yes, I am biased because I am her auntie. No, I am not wrong. For real-sies.

(Me and Gracie wearing the halves of our “Best Aunt” necklaces that she made me out of a sea shell.)

best aunt necklace

I love my nieces and nephews so much! Anna is creative and thoughtful and has a lovely singing voice. Lily is like sunshine, especially at 5:20am. My nephew “A” is funny and pretty sure he will actually grow up to be a super-hero. Lincoln is way too smart for his own good (and his parents), sensitive and creates a vacuum of noise around him. Baby Wyatt is smiley and sweet. Baby “S” is plooshy and social and happy. I could go on and on and on.

Now of course I love all my nieces and nephews, but Gracie I get. She and I are a lot alike. So much so, in fact, that my sister Heather suggested I start paying her for child support since Gracie is often more like me than anyone in our family. We both like our sandwiches cut into triangles, aka “boats”. We both are a little loud. We both love candy and, let’s face it, almost all food. Gracie has a much more beautiful singing voice than I can ever hope for. She also has her mom’s honey brown hair where mine is much darker. But we do look quite a lot alike. For example, this is comparable pictures of each of us around age 4.

Becky 4 Gracie 4

Gracie is neat and keeps her room fairly clean, like me. She definitely inherited her overwhelming love of stuffed animal from her mom. When she decided she didn’t want to read anymore (in the second grade), I bequeathed her my Lisbet and the Fire Kittens book my Grandma gave me in the second grade. She won an award at the end of the year for being of the highest volume readers in her class. Heather feels very strongly that the award really belongs to her for making that kid read every day.

Since I didn’t get to see her on the auspicious day she turned 10, this post is my happy birthday to her. Well, sort of. There was also the box from Amazon that arrived a couple of days ago with the Wonder Woman pop figurine and the Wreck this Journal she requested. I’ll be honest, I spoil so that wasn’t it. But you get the idea.

Happy 10th birthday to my Gracie! I love you squirrel!

The Best Laid Plans…

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry (John Steinbeck). I had big plans for new recipes and marmalade and reduced sugar jam in January and February.

Then life happened.

First up, my annual work trip to Little Rock, AR to meet with my awesome co-workers for a few days. It was a little bitter sweet because my friend Leslie was missing this year. She’s now working at a non-profit in her local community, which is good. But I still missed her.

The Amaryllis bulb I potted up in November bloomed.

Then the flu happened. I’m talking bronchitis plus a fever of 101 for three days straight. It was very inconvenient and a terrible waste of paid time off that could have been used doing almost anything else more fun. Also, I wasn’t able to finish the batch of orange marmalade I prepped.

But then good news, my short and sweet Iris bulbs bloomed. Flowers make me so happy!

After the flu, on my hunt for a recipe to compliment my Pomelo Marmalade, I made cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, I did not calculate the temperature of the milk which caused the yeast to rise incorrectly. So dense and flat cinnamon rolls came out of the oven. Sigh.

After getting over the flu, I celebrated Valentine’s day with delicate French pastries and wine tasting with my new boyfriend John.

It’s possible, just the tiniest bit, that I may have overdone it. The past week, I’ve been trying to catch up on my life from being sick. Honestly, I’ve also been having a super good time catching up on the fun stuff I missed out on.

I feel like this blog post is a series of random events and excuses for not doing much of anything related to jam the past few weeks. Also, I don’t know how to make it end. Maybe my mojo is off. So I’ll end it with the best, most awesome text ever from by 4 year old nephew Lincoln. As an intro, Lincoln has an imaginary sister. Because he doesn’t do things half way, his imaginary sister is Katy Perry. Now that you have the background, the text will make more sense.

Lincoln: “Hey Becky baby should come to my house sometime….my sister Katy Perry is not like my sister. Katy Perry doesn’t really like anyone in this world except me.” And that is all my friends. I promise to up my game for the next post.

Pomelo Marmalade

It’s marmalade season! In addition to Meyer lemon and navel orange, I’m adding Pomelo marmalade to the mix. Pomelos are enormous! And I am not exaggerating! Okay, I get it, too many exclamation points. But seriously, they are ginormous! Here’s a picture of a Pomelo cut in half next to a naval orange.

IMG_1842

Aunt Becky’s Pomelos are grown at Pearson’s Ranch in California. You can even order your own if you want.

IMG_1841

Pomelos are the largest fruit in the citrus family and ancient ancestors to the common grapefruit. Pomelos are sweet with little to no bitterness. A fresh segment has the flavor of a grapefruit with the sweetness of an orange.
IMG_1868

It has been a while since my last post. One of the projects that I completed was hanging up a new light over the sink in my kitchen. I like the look of these glass lights with the halogen bulbs.
IMG_1885
The new light really shows off the lovely pinky-orange of the Pomelo Marmalade.

IMG_1884

Pomelos are given during the Chinese New Year as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Pomelo marmalade would be an excellent substitution to the fresh fruit for Chinese New Year or a delicious addition to your marmalade loves.

If You Give A Girl…

If you give a girl a Harry Potter t-shirt that says “Muggle-born” for Christmas, she’s gonna wanna make a sign with a Harry Potter reference and a nerdy, yet awesome, joke.

 

2015/01/img_1672.jpg

2015/01/img_1557.jpg

2015/01/img_1655.jpg

Once she makes a sign for her laundry area, she’ll want to sew a new cover for her ironing board.

2015/01/img_1657.jpg

2015/01/img_1659.jpg

2015/01/img_1658.jpg

When the ironing board cover is done, she’ll want a little flap for her hose connectors.

2015/01/img_1665.jpg

After her pretty fabric square is installed, the girl will notice the floor doesn’t match very well. Since the laundry area is so close, she’ll notice that the floor in her powder room doesn’t match either. So she’ll decide to paint both floors at once. That’s right! Paint!

She’ll make a trip to the craft store for supplies. The girl will weave her way around a small, very articulate, little girl picking out craft paint colors to find the perfect stencil. It will be the stencil she was looking for! The girl will laugh at her Star Wars! reference.

After the craft store, the girl will go to the home improvement store for paint to go with her new stencil. She’ll select a dove gray paint for the floor and a snow white paint for the stencil. For the time being, she’ll buy the products the guy at the home improvement store suggests.

The girl will decide to do things right. First she’ll apply a deglosser/sander. She’ll wear safety goggles and gloves because she’s a teensy bit prone to accidents.

2015/01/img_1666.jpg

Then she’ll prime both floors. At this point, she will be feeling nervous about the end result.

2015/01/img_1667.jpg

Then she’ll paint two coats of flat gray paint. She’ll feel very nervous.

2015/01/img_1668.jpg

The girl will use her fancy stencil and brushes to stencil the flower pattern using the white paint. She’ll be excited about the look but not sure about the finished product.

2015/01/img_1669.jpg

Then the girl will go to the locally owned hardware store next to the sketchy comic book store. This time, she’ll pick out a water based sealant made especially for floors that dries “crystal clear”.

The girl will read the instructions and use a basic foam roller to apply the polyurethane. (She’ll have to look up how to spell the word polyurethane.) The girl will plan another trip to the home improvement store to return the fancy brush and the oil based polyurethane another day.

The girl will apply four coats of polyurethane to the floors. After each coat dries, she’ll add the next coat.

2015/01/img_1670.jpg

The girl remembers the trick her Uncle Randy taught her for painting. She’ll wrap her wet foam applicator in a plastic bag and place it in the fridge to stay wet between coats.

When the floors are dry, the girl will try hard to wait to use them. She will fail. It won’t matter. She’ll replace her washer and dryer without scratching her new floor.

The girl will hang up her sign and her lovely ironing board with its new cover.

2015/01/img_1671.jpg

After all that crafting and painting, the girl will watch a Harry Potter movie to rest and relax.

When she watches the Harry Potter movie, she’ll want to wear her “Muggle-Born” t-shirt.

When she wears her t-shirt, the girl will want to start a project…