I know it’s been a while but I’m finally back :)  I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress and it unfortunately didn’t like my blog template.  That needed to be fixed… and it took a lot longer than I ever expected.  In the interim, I was afraid to try and publish any new content so I (im)patiently waited it out :)  But yes, I’m back and happy to bring you these super tasty vanilla cupcakes!   Recently I was contacted by Singing Dog Vanilla asking me to try their vanilla extract.  My first response was a resounding “sure thing!” and was even more pleased when they agreed to sponsor a giveaway for one of my blog readers!  A giveaway in which the winner will have a choice between two different Singing Dog Vanilla products!  A giveaway that will tap your creativity!  A giveaway that is not limited to “US Residents Only”… this time it’s open to those of you in Canada as well so this giveaway really is a good thing!



No matter how much I like something, it’s hard for me to make it twice… especially twice in the span of a single week.   The recipe has to be special… very special.  And it has to be good… very good.   And even so, there are bazilions of recipes for the same thing so why make one of them  multiple times?  Why not try other recipes for that same thing and perhaps find something {gasp!} even better?   One of the exceptions to this, of course, is Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake.  I’ve made that countless times… it’s THAT GOOD.  Truth be told, right now I’m pretty darn full from dinner but could easily eat a slice of it right now… it’s THAT GOOD.  But… I digress ;)  I’ve been making quite a few ice cream recipes lately and loving them all.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to try out a recipe for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  I remembered how good things turned out when I used the David Lebovitz recipe for chocolate ice cream and searched his archives for a vanilla one.  No lie… David Lebovitz can make ice cream.  And I’m not talkin good ice cream… I’m talking fantastic, terrific, amazing, best-you-ever-had, jump-back-and-kiss-yourself, so-fabulous-that-you-make-it-two-weekends-in-a-row ice cream.  Ice cream that’s so good it moved me to post an open letter about it on Twitter… something dorky like “Dear David Lebovitz, your vanilla bean ice cream is amazing… Love, Em”.   Yeah, I toldja… dorky.  But what can I say?  This vanilla bean ice cream is so good I had no shame… I was moved to tweet about it!  It’s THAT GOOD!




I think I’ve mentioned a time or ten that I’m not a huge fan of chocolate. Not that I dislike it… can’t really say that… it just doesn’t float my boat like many other flavors. Vanilla, on the other hand, is a different story. For me, vanilla ranks right up there with lemon… though admittedly it’s a distant 2nd place :) Until recently I never really thought much about all the different kinds of vanilla. Oh sure I knew you could buy vanilla extract, vanilla paste and vanilla beans but I wasn’t aware of just how many kinds of vanilla beans there are. I received an order of six different kinds of vanilla beans and thought I’d do a little taste test with a dish that’s among my all time favorites… cremé brulée.



Happy St. Patrick’s Day


These are just standard vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing.  The recipe for the cake can be found hereThe recipe for the icing can be found here

Have a great St. Patrick’s day. Even if you are into green beer, I won’t hold that against you! LOL

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Arborrio Rice Pudding

Another week has gone by… actually FLOWN by is more like it… and it’s time once again for Tuesdays with Dorie :)   This week’s host was Isabelle of the blog Les Gourmandises d’Isa and she chose the Arborrio Rice Pudding recipe. Vanilla… chocolate… or both… so of course I had to make both :)

Done well, rice pudding is a dessert I really like. Every once in a while I’ll order it in a restaurant though I do make it quite often at home.  It’s been another week in which I’ve been crazy busy… and I seriously considered sitting out this week.  But I really like rice pudding!  And the Hubs had never eaten it but being the chocolate lover he is, well, as soon as I said “chocolate”, well, he was in! LOL

The recipe (which can be found on Isabelle’s site) is not a difficult one at all but for some reason it gave me fits. Par-boiling the rice was easy, heating the milk & sugar was easy, combining the par-boiled rice with the milk/sugar was okay too.  But… it was the “simmering” for 30 minutes that just started things downhill.  At 30 minutes, what I had was soup.  Rice soup, sure, but soup nonetheless.  Removing it from the heat and having little faith that my rice soup would miraculously transform itself into rice pudding just by sitting in the chiller for 6 hours, I put it back on the burner and ran to the TwD site P&Q’s section to see if other people had the same experience.  Uh… yup… they did!  Luckily Dorie herself popped in and told us the recipe in the book has a major typo and it’s supposed to be simmer for 55 minutes.  Big difference!

By that time my Arborrio rice pudding had been cooking for 40 minutes so I just added 15 minutes to the time and thought I’d be good to go. Stupid me.  Stupid… stupid… stooooooopid me.  I never set a timer according to the recipe instructions… instead setting it about 2/3 of the time and checking it.  I truly regret not doing that because my Arborrio rice pudding was scorched beyond belief.  The whole inside bottom of my favorite stainless steel saucepan was horribly, horribly scorched :(  

I salvaged the non-burned rice pudding and separated into two ramekins.  To one I added the scraped innards of half of one 6.5″ vanilla bean (for me)… to the other I added just shy of 2 ounces of semi sweet chocolate (for DH).  We let them sit in the chiller for only a little while since we wanted to eat it warm (really the only way I like my rice pudding).  The chocolate one was definitely less creamy – I guess when the chopped chocolate melted it added a bit more liquid which kept it from setting up like the vanilla bean one.  After tasting it I thought it was way way way over the top too chocolaty… but DH thought it was just fine :)  And I’m wondering, is it just me or does my chocolate rice pudding look like a dish of no-bean chili? LOL  Seriously!  I think it does!

In my final analysis I think this recipe tasted just meh.  Nothing special, nothing terrible, just okay.  I’ll save my arborrio rice for making risotto and stick to my tried and true method for making rice pudding…. leftover rice (a day or two old is best), milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and golden raisins. Oh yeah, that’ll do it for me ev-ree time :)

As for my scorched saucepan, I was afraid it was a lost cause.  I soaked it… I boiled water in it… I scrubbed it… I was about ready to toss it out… and then DH spent a considerable amount of time scrubbing the heck out of it using a bbq-grill cleaning pad and Comet Liquid.  Amazingly, somehow he got it clean.  YAY DH!!

Please check out the rest of the TwD bakers to see how their rice pudding turned out :)

Have a delicious day!

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