Friday, April 29, 2011

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

You may be saying to yourself, "But David, these do not look like carrot cake cupcakes!" I know, I know. They look more like rolls with melted Velveeta. But I promise you they are yummy carrot cake cupcakes. My decorating vision was not well executed. I've always decorated carrot cake with little carrots made of frosting but this time I wanted to do something different. I got a little carried away with the drizzling of the orange frosting. I blame the mimosa I was drinking! Oh well. They taste fantastic so that's all that matters.


1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated carrots


1/4 cup cream cheese softened
2 tablespoons butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

2. In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar with a mixer for 2 minutes or until it becomes lighter in color and a little frothy. Add the vegetable oil, vanilla and carrot and mix with a spoon.

4. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture and combine. Fill the 12 muffin cups to the top with the batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


1. In a medium size bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Once combined, beat the vanilla in. Add the powdered sugar little by little until smooth.

2. Frost the cupcakes once they have cooled to room temperature.

3. Decorate them differently than I did. Ha!

Also, be sure to 'like' Baking Boy on Facebook or follow Baking Boy on Twitter!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Natalie Merchant - Leave Your Sleep

Last week marked the one year anniversary of the release of Natalie Merchant's Leave Your Sleep album. Normally I don't think twice about an album's anniversary. However, Leave Your Sleep has become one of my absolute favorite albums. She turned other people's poetry into music, 26 songs to be exact. It contains a broad range of musical styles and somehow remains completely cohesive. I find some sort of comfort in this album, something I can't explain.

I was lucky enough to see her live two times last year. Once was an intimate show last April at the Poetry Center. Such an amazing show. I also saw her this past July at the Chicago Theatre which I briefly blogged about here.

Anyone who hasn't heard this album should have a listen. Get the full version with the 26 songs. In the booklet she explains each poem and gives the background of the original poet. I just love it! So there. Haha. I think this post got a little melodramatic. Oh well. Have a listen to The Peppery Man, one of my favorite songs off Leave Your Sleep:

Also, be sure to 'like' Baking Boy on Facebook or follow Baking Boy on Twitter!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Goose Island Brewery Tour

I love going on brewery tours. I've decided I need to check out every brewery tour available in Chicago. I've been to a couple in Milwaukee including Lakefront Brewery and Sprecher's Brewing Company. Both were a lot of fun so if you're ever in Milwaukee, check 'em out.

Goose Island Brewery is the biggest in Chicago so I was really excited to see what they had to offer. It's $10 for a the tour plus beer tasting and a souvenir glass. Per usual, you get a fashionable wristband:


You're allowed to take a beer on the tour...bonus! It's not included in the cost of the tour but you can buy one at the bar before the tour starts. The tour takes place in one room where the tour guide explains extensively their process of brewing, along with a lot of Goose Island facts.

There's the obligatory Q & A but at that point I think we were all ready to chug (I mean try) some samples, so not a single question was asked. Ha!

The tasting was my favorite part of the tour. You're probably thinking I'm a lush but, was just fun. I swear! The tasting was set-up in a communal style. Very different than any other tasting I've experienced. As you can see in the above picture, you get to try 6 different beers. The samples were not as generous as I thought they would be. However, the guide went into detail about each one; color, smell and taste. Other tours I've been on are not nearly as detailed when it comes to the tasting. We also got a souvenir glass. Another bonus...

....and totally worth it! sure to 'like' Baking Boy on Facebook or follow Baking Boy on Twitter!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gloomy Weather

I'm really considering moving to a warmer climate. Someplace where there's more sun than clouds, more warmth than cold. This Chicago spring gets 2 thumbs down. With the exception of a couple warm days, it's been cold and cloudy. Yuck. This was the view from my front window yesterday:

Cold, cloudy and barely any growth on the trees. Yuck.

At least the 7 foot snow pile is gone:

But, I need warm weather...and sun. Now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Impostor In My Garden

My little basil seedlings are growing up so fast:

The second set of leaves are starting to emerge:

Just a couple of weeks ago they were tiny little sprouts. As long as the weather warms up in the next few weeks, they'll be ready to go outside. I took advice from Natalie and I've been gently blowing air on them each day to toughen them up a bit and get them ready for the windy outdoors.

However, there is an impostor in the garden:

That's definitely not basil! Maybe mint? Hmm...I think I'll let it grow just a little and transplant it and see what happens. But it's probably just a weed....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grilled Tilapia with Cilantro and Lime

First of all HAPPY EARTH DAY! Do something today (and everyday!) that is earth-friendly.

Secondly, Happy Belated Anniversary (yesterday) to me and Rob. Whooohooo! 8 years and counting! We celebrated last night by going to our favorite BYOB Mexican restaurant in the city of Chicago: Los Nopales. They have the best chorizo. I could literally bathe myself in it. YUM. One of these days I'm going to devote a whole post to my Los Nopales adventures.

Last but not least, let's talk about grilled tilapia. My new favorite thing to grill. We've been having a few warm-ish days here and there so Rob and I try our best to take advantage and grill. The great thing about tilapia is that it's a mild tasting fish and will easily absorb the flavors you marinate it in. You can really be creative and mix up whatever flavors you like. Here's my recipe. If you're not a fan of cilantro, you can substitute it with fresh basil or parsley.

Printable Recipe


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
The juice of 2 fresh limes
The zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic

4 fresh tilapia fillets (roughly 1 pound)


1. In a large baking dish that will fit the four fillets, combine the above ingredients (but not the tilapia) and mix well.

2. Once mixed, add the tilapia fillets and evenly coat them in the mixture. Marinate the fillets in the mixture for 1 hour in the fridge.

Swim in the marinade little fishes!

3. Coat a non-stick grilling tray with a light coating of oil. Set the tray on the grill and heat grill to medium high.

4. Once heated, add the fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes each side.

Rob, the Grill Master! sure to 'like' Baking Boy on Facebook or follow Baking Boy on Twitter!

PPS...I'm going on a Goose Island brewery tour tomorrow. I can't wait! Look for a post about it soon!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The City of Fake People

A few weeks back Rob and I took a little road trip to Carmel Indiana. Why Carmel you ask? Well, for his birthday this past December I bought him tickets to a jazz show. It was a trio of performers: Nikki Yanofsky, Jane Monheit and Diane Reeves. We had 2nd row seats (which was amazing) and it was held at the brand new Center for the Performing Arts. A beautiful venue and an amazing show. I loved all three performers. Jane has always been a favorite (her voice is like buttah, just like Lizz) but I have to say Diane's performance was spectacular. She's a seasoned jazz singer and it shows.

So I was hoping that Carmel would have a fountain of caramel in the town square. I know that's very Willy Wonka-ish of me to think but I was hoping. Alas, they did not. But they did have sculptures of people all over the little town. They are all in various positions, doing various things. Frozen in time. They were creepy, seriously. We were walking around the town on Sunday and there were no 'real' people around, just these fake people. It reminded me of the movie Return to Oz where all the people were turned to stone. Eerie....

Yes I'd love to with you...?

 Really deep thoughts...

 Would you like to water my basil? uhhh...nevermind...

 Hey! get a room!

Why the stern face? Here, let's have a photo shoot...say, "cheese!"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turkey Chili Yum Yum Yum

I officially love my Crock-Pot! Rob made turkey chili last week and it turned out so good. This picture was after we had a couple helpings so he made a full 6 quarts. We've had plenty left over for lunches and enough to freeze. I'm not going to post the recipe because he loosely followed a recipe he found online. There were a lot of changes and additions to it and I didn't keep track of all of them. Whoops! But, I've been given a lot of great recipes from people so there will be more Crock-Potting soon!

I love you little red Crock-Pot!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

City Porch Garden 2011

So Rob and I have started the planting for our porch garden. Through trial and error we have found that certain things grow well on our porch and certain things do not. We are limited as far as sun goes so it's a little tricky. However...Mint, oregano, rosemary and basil all grow fairly well so that's what we're sticking to this year. We use a lot of basil when cooking so we planted lots of seeds this year. Right now we have the seedlings in our front window since there is abundant sunshine:

It's so exciting seeing the little seedlings sprout!

Last year we planted parsley from seed. This is what it looked like last summer (scroll down to the end of the post). I had no hope for it. But, at the end of summer, Rob brought it in the house and kept it in the front window. Now it looks like this:

It's suddenly doing really well. It only took A YEAR! But now I have high hopes for it.

I can't wait until it's warm enough to move the plants outside and plant flowers. I love flowers! I also can't wait to enjoy my porch, herbs and flowers while drinking some mojitos. Yum!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Long gone are the days of my little Post it note drawings. I am now using Adobe Illustrator. My old way of doing illustrations was, well, backwards. I love working in Illustrator and I'm slowly teaching myself how to use it (with a little help from Rob). Here are a couple I did recently. I didn't spend a lot of time on them so they aren't perfect but I'm pretty happy with them. And I'm excited to make new illustrations!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blueberry Scones with Streusel Topping

I found this recipe online and have to say it’s one of my least favorite scones I’ve made. It's not a bad recipe by any means it's just not a favorite (like this one). And not because of taste, but because of texture. No offense to Joy of Baking where I found the recipe. There are a lot of great recipes on that site! I just found this to be too cake-like. And the streusel topping made it seem more like a muffin then a scone. Regardless, give it a try. It was tasty!

Printable Recipe


1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut up into little chunks)
1 cup fresh blueberries


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut up into little chunks)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl whisk together milk, egg and vanilla.

3. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add butter to flour mixture and combine using a pastry blender. When the consistency is course and 'crumb-like' fold in the blueberries.

4. Pour milk/egg mixture into flour mixture and stir only until it clumps together. Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cover your hands with flour and knead the dough lightly-only once or twice. Re-flour surface if needed then flatten dough into a circle until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces.

5. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and evenly spread out the scones. Brush them with a light coat of milk then prepare the streusel topping.


1. Whisk together flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter and using a pastry blender, mix until the consistency is course and 'crumb-like'. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons on to the coated scones.

Note: This makes more streusel topping then you need. Save it and sprinkle it on vanilla ice cream. It’s delicious!

2. Bake the scones 18- 20 minutes until they are lightly browned. Remove and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. These are best the day you make them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Have a Crock-Pot!

Finally. It's kind of shocking that I didn't own one. My Mom (thanks Mom!!) bought me one:

Mine is red, not silver. Red is my favorite color and when I finally get my red KitchenAid mixer (hint, hint Santa) I will have a matching set of red appliances. Whoohooo. I'll be doing some Crock-Pot cooking this week. Stay tuned!