Category: Arwyn!

Fiendish figs.

Before I get started with fiendish figs, let me say that my fiendish feline is extremely excited. See, because at this time of year everyone hangs up cardboard cut-outs or pictures of black cats, or has light up black cat figurines, and because stores are selling stuffed black cats & black cat costumes, etc, she thinks October is Arwyn Awareness month. Silly muffin. She thinks she should get royalties for all her likenesses out there. Though I must say, I do agree, she does deserve accolades & recognition… just look at how gorgeous she is! Coincidentally, last week it was her 9th birthday. I know, she doesn’t look 9! Happy birthday, sweet girl. ❤

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And so the Halloween season starts. SO EXCITING. By now, if you’re a regular reader, you know that Halloween is my most favoritest holiday. Last year, I put together a compilation post of some of my best Halloween ideas, but I did it before I posted any new ones, so be sure to check out the NEW compilation post and also Halloween category if you’re in search of ideas. Anyway, Halloween & me are BFF’s from way back. Seriously. I’m kinda obsessed with this holiday. It goes back further than me, though, it was my great-grandmother Rooney’s favorite holiday & my maternal grandparents loved it too, so in turn my mother always loved it. So growing up my house was always filled with different kinds of papier-mâché pumpkins & ghosts & goblins; many of which were vintage, handed down through the generations. As a matter of fact I see much of it in Martha’s Halloween magazines each year, labeled as ‘rare’ or ‘sought after.’ I have two pumpkins from the 1940’s that hang in my windows with lights in them that are probably worth a pretty penny. Not that I’d ever sell. As it is, my dumb ass just last week broke the last jadeite bowl of my grandmother’s that I had left in an act of stupidity.

So anywho, in the new 2011 Martha Stewart Halloween magazine (aka my 2nd bible, the first being this), stewed & honey-drenched figs are featured along with cheese as part of a Halloween menu. Ironically, the day I bought the magazine *cough*way back at the beginning of September because I’m insane*cough* I had also bought a delicious looking pound of fresh figs at my favorite market. Also equally ironic was that that evening, Punk Domestics posted a link on Facebook titled something along the lines of “Fig it up.” Hm. Were figs trying to send me messages? Are they trying to mess with my subconscious?

*cue theme from ‘Psycho’*

Not likely. It was just fig season, is all. But my story is far creepier. Either way, I got the message: time to work on those figs!

I hadn’t planned on preserving them, bit upon further inspection a few were ripening, and if you know figs you know that happens quite quickly. And once it does, it’s an express train to no-good town. So I decided to make some fig preserves, knowing full well I can’t leave well enough alone & that they would soon turn into something else…

The Common fig (Ficus carica) is widely known for its edible fruit throughout its natural range in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region, Iran, Pakistan, northern India, and also in other areas of the world with a similar climate, including Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Georgia, Oregon, Texas, South Carolina, and Washington in the United States, south-western British Columbia in Canada, Durango, Nuevo León and Coahuila in northeastern Mexico, as well as areas of Argentina, Australia, Chile, and South Africa.

Figs can also be found in continental climate with hot summer, as far north as Hungary and Moravia, and can be harvested up to four times per year. Thousands of cultivars, most named, have been developed or come into existence as human migration brought the fig to many places outside its natural range. It has been an important food crop for thousands of years, and was also thought to be highly beneficial in the diet.

Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well.

-Wikipedia

It looks lovely in the sunlight…

As it got closer to October, I thought figs were an appropriate thing to use around this time of year. Seeing as how not only are they plentiful & in season, but they also look a bit sinister in the form of jam or preserves. Blood red & seedy, it could be any kind of body part or bodily organ in a jar for your Halloween pleasure. As a matter of fact, even when not in the form of preserves & just sliced figs look a bit strange. Plus, it pairs well with cheese, so it’s great to have a small plate of sliced figs or jar of preserved figs open for your Halloween party, with some Humboldt Fog cheese (as Martha recommends) or Brie, or even Mascarpone cheese & crackers. Alternately, you could make haunting little fig cookies, such as I did. You know, fiendish figlets; cookies somewhat like Fig Newtons… but scarier. Muahahaha. They even resemble cut-up fingers, sort of, especially if you roll your dough strips a bit thinner. Very Halloweenie. And also kind of vampirical (is that a word?) when you think about it. You cut through the flesh of a fig, which if ripe is almost bruised like human flesh, and you get to the bloody middle. How creepy & morbid am I!

I used Black Mission figs, which are a very sweet variety, therefore I added some lemon juice to my preserves as to add a little balance (and to add some acidity for preservation, just to err on the side of caution). I also chose to add a smidgen of super-finely chopped crystallized ginger, and by smidgen I mean smidgen. I didn’t want it too overwhelming, just a slight hint of it. Another excellent option is anise, if you like that, or even lemon zest. But just the fig alone is divine, however, so don’t sweat it if you’re not into the additions. I used (and slightly altered) an incredibly easy Emeril Lagasse recipe that you don’t need to process in a water bath; you can just jar it and refrigerate it for immediate use. And if you’re using it just for the cookies or for a date/time not too far in the future, and you’re just going to refrigerate it, then you can do that.

Speaking of those cookies…

It’s also pretty lovely in artificial light, wrapped in dough.

FIG & GINGER PRESERVES

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound figs, washed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅛ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger (or even more if you want a significantly more powerful ginger flavor)

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix figs and sugar together and cook on low heat, uncovered, about 30 minutes. After the figs break down slightly, about 10-15 minutes, add lemon juice and ginger, then stir.
  2. If processing, pour hot preserves mixture into a hot, sterile 1-quart or 2 (1-pint) glass canning jars, filling jar to within ⅛-inch from top; wipe rim and seal jar with lid. Put jar in water-bath canner or on rack set in a deep kettle and cover with hot water by 1 to 2 inches. Bring to a gentle simmer (180° to 185° degrees), and process, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer jar to a rack using tongs and let cool completely. Store in a cool, dark place. If not processing, pour into a warmed jar and cool then refrigerate and/or use immediately.


FIENDISH LITTLE FIG COOKIES (adapted from The Boastful Baker/Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 large egg white
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 8-oz. jar fig & ginger preserves

Directions:

  1. Cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add the egg white and vanilla and beat in. Scrape down the bowl and paddle again. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight.
  2. Place racks in middle and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into two 6 x 8″ rectangles. Cut each into 4 equal strips. Spoon a line of filling down the center of each strip. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges together. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheets, seam side down. Place baking sheets in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  4. Using a serrated knife, slice each log on the diagonal into 10 cookies. Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.

The more I look at them, the more they look eerie. Maybe it’s just me, but they remind me of a Halloween candle I used to have that was in the shape of a hand, coated in flesh colored wax, but then when you burned the fingers… the wax inside was red. These are some spooky little cookies, huh?


This recipe can be adapted to use whatever kind of figs you have, actually almost any kind of jam, preserves or paste (i.e. guava) as well. The full recipe includes directions on making a fig filling instead of my preserves, if that floats your boat. I like mine for this time of year because they’re a redder color than the traditional fig filling, adding to the creepy vibe. You could also roll the dough into strips, fill it, fold it and them gently roll it thinner & cut out different shapes or just use the dough to make thumbprint style fig cookies. Use your imagination, that’s what this time of year is all about, isn’t it?

I sprinkled some orange sugar on each cookie before baking (black sugar would work well too!), and then when they were cooled, I stacked ‘em up and stuck in some cute little labels; similar to cupcake toppers I guess. I created them myself in Photoshop and have oh-so-kindly prepared & uploaded a .PDF file for your use, should you wish to use them for your own fiendish fig cookies. All I ask is that if you post them on your website or blog, please give credit where it’s due. If you have any questions or trouble with the PDF & you desperately want to use it, e-mail me & I’ll see if I can help you out.

Otherwise… enjoy eating your fiendish fig cookies. Eat them before they eat you, or serve them to your favorite vampire.

Image courtesy of the wonderful HBO

*ahem* Oh, wow, how did that picture get there? Ha. Okay, last week in my Halloween compilation post, I mentioned I’d be sharing Halloween legends & their Celtic origins in detail this year. And so, here’s a scary little vampire tale for you to kick things off, in keeping with the season:

Did you ever hear of the Irish Vampire “Dearg Due”? No, not the infamous Dracula who was created by an Irishman named Bram Stoker but a true Irish Vampire that haunts central Ireland. The very name, Dearg-due means “red blood sucker” in Irish. She is a fiend that seduces men with her beauty and then sucks them dry of their blood.

Ancient Celtic folklore speaks of an Irish girl well known through the Irish countryside for her great beauty. To her father’s fierce dismay she fell helplessly in love with a poor local peasant. Her father condemned their love and arrange for her to marry a wealthy business man who was anything but nice to her. So angry with her father and distraught by her plight she committed suicide.

Legend said she was laid to rest near Strongbow’s Tree in Waterford. On one cold, windy Irish night she rose from her shallow grave. She then hunted her domineering father and abusive husband and sought her vengeance by sucking their bodies dry of blood until they took their last breathe and died.

From such evil acts she will eternally be known as Dearg-due. The Red Blood Sucker Vampire who is forever dammed to rise once a year and to use her beauty to lure men to their deaths.

-source The Irish Jewelry Company

 

Cupcakes for kitties. Kinda.

This isn’t a recipe post today, but more of a review of sorts. My cat Arwyn (who isn’t ALL mine, I have to say, she’s really my mom’s cat… but I call her mine) is very stylish. What would you expect really, from a family who has a HUGE interest in fashion? She has a different collar for every occasion and holiday. When I was asked if I’d like to get a cupcake collar from Dog Collar Boutique, I immediately thought of her. Yes, Indy is very handsome, and stylish in his own way. But he’s a boy, and he’s 100% ALL BOY. He likes destroying all his toys, playing in the dirt & mud and roughhousing. Arwyn is a girl, and while I hate to be all gender-biased and what not, I’m hesitant to put a cupcake collar on a boy dog. I may sound insane by writing that, but anyway, I told them if they’d like to they could send an extra-small sized one for my female cat to proudly prance around in. I had been looking to buy a cupcake collar for her for a long time and couldn’t find one that I really liked. Otherwise, I’d get a cupcake leash for Indy & use it only when I take him out *wink*

And send one they did! They sent the cutest little collar for Arwyn, and it came a few days ago.

It came all wrapped up so nice, and with a magnet too!

Super adorable little cupcakes…

So I opened up the package, and put the magnet on my fridge, and put the collar on. It looks so cute. Of course, here are some requisite photos. Arwyn is a wonderful model, isn’t she? And so gorgeous!

This last one doesn’t show the collar, but it’s just here to emphasize her beauty

This particular collar style comes in a few other different patterns/colors as well. So a big big BIG thank you to Dog Collar Boutique! If you have pets, you should take a peek at their website. They have tons, and I mean tons, of beautiful collars, and they come in a large variety of sizes. If you have a small dog or a cat, the extra small or small sizes would be perfect, depending on their weight and size. They also have leashes, harnesses, carriers, doggie coats, and more! They also have cat collars and a gorgeous line of sterling silver dog tags.

Of course, my favorites are the ones with cupcakes

Chocolate chip cupcakes.

Entenmann’s chocolate chip crumb loaf used to be one of my absolute favorite cakes as a kid. I remember being really sick once, and I had no appetite. The only thing I wanted was sweet stuff, so my mom bought me chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate chip crumb loaf and I ate them watching ‘Mary Poppins.’ So as you can see, I was always into chocolate chip treats and confections, especially when I’m not feeling up to par. Like a comfort food, you know? And last week, it just so happens I was pretty sick. Feverish, sore throat, the whole nine yards. I still am really, but I’m on the way to wellness (I think it’s partially due to these little beauties). So what else was I supposed to make when I got the baking bug?

These cupcakes don’t taste anything like that Entenmann’s crumb loaf, they actually taste more like chocolate chip cookies in cupcake form. But the frosting? The frosting tastes exactly like chocolate chip ice cream. I could’ve eaten it right out of the bowl… and I did a little bit, I can’t lie.

The batter is very thick, like cookie dough, and hard to maneuver. And it doesn’t rise much at all, so filling them a little more than ¾ full is probably a good idea. I anticipated a bigger rise so mine didn’t clear the tops of my cups. I also used nut cups which probably threw them off even more, though. I also halved the recipe, so maybe that threw things off a bit on top of everything else. Who knows.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 7/8 cup sugar (or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Mix milk and vanilla in a separate small bowl.
  2. Reduce speed to low.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold into batter. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
  5. Bake cupcakes about 22 minutes or until testers inserted into centers come out clean. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days, unless otherwise noted.

CHOCOLATE CHIP BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth.
  3. Fold chocolate chips into buttercream. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

I used mini-chocolate chips, but the recipe was meant for the regular ones, so do whatever works for you. You could use any kind of chips you like for these, really. Butterscotch, peanut butter, white chocolate. If you made the cake and frosting bases chocolate and used white chocolate chips it would be a really nice contrast too.

Arwyn, my petit chat noir with a delectable chocolate chip cupcake


This is another awesome recipe stashed away in my bible. I highly recommend it. Not for cats, really, but it makes a cute picture :)

Military Monday & “The winner is…”

I have a few things I’d like to discuss today, but first lets get down to business about who won the giveaway. Lemme just say, wow guys! Thanks to everyone who entered, some of your comments were very funny and we liked reading them. Picking a winner was tough, but the contest officially ended at 12 midnight on Saturday and yes, we did indeed pick a winner. The winner is… *drum roll* Courtney from Courtney’s Sweets! Congratulations, Courtney, enjoy your tumblers. And again a big thank you to Sourpuss Clothing for helping me out with the giveaway. Go buy lots of stuff from them, kthx. And for those of you who didn’t win, I’m sorry, you still rock, and just to let you know in September I’ll be doing a HUGE giveaway for Cupcake Rehab’s 2 year birthday with lots of prizes… so stay tuned!

Now onto something a bit more serious. My dear friend Yoyo over at topstitch.org does something called Military Monday. Here’s an explanation, in her words:

HOLA AMIGOS,

I JUST WANTED TO EXPLAIN MILITARY MONDAY TO YOU AGAIN INCASE YOU MISSED IT ON TWITTER SINCE I YAP ON THERE WAY TOO MUCH LOL.

WHEN I ADDED CARSON DALY ON TWITTER I NOTICED HE STARTED DOING MILITARY MONDAY, I DECIDED I WANTED TO DO THE SAME.

SINCE MEMORIAL DAY, I LIST (IN 2POST’S) 100 SOLDIERS THAT DIED IN IRAQ SINCE THE FIRST ONE.
THEY DO SO MUCH FOR US AND IT’S THE LEAST I COULD DO. THEY NEED TO BE HONORED AND REMEMBERED EVERY DAY.

I KNOW YOU ALL ASKED WHAT YOU COULD DO. IF YOU WANT TO DO WHAT I AM DOING (YOU CAN COPY AND PASTE FROM MINE) OR IF YOU WANT TO THINK UP SOMETHING ELSE TO DO.

I REALLY WOULD APPRECIATE IF YOU ALL JOINED ME IN DOING THIS EVERY MONDAY. IT’S ONCE A WEEK AND IT WOULD MEAN EVERYTHING TO ME BUT PLEASE DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO.  I DON’T WANT TO GUILT ANYBODY INTO ANYTHING AND I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND IF YOU DON’T WANT TO.

THANKS GUYS. HAVE A GREAT EVENING!!

So I of course said I would do Military Monday as well! And here to kick off my first Military Monday post are Arwyn & Indy, showing their patriotism (and Indy has a special message for everyone)…

Arwyn loves her country!


Rescue pets know this is true just as much as soldiers do!


I’d like all of you to visit Faces of the Fallen: Iraq & Afghanistan Casualties and read through the listings. Click on as many soldiers as you can, read about them. I think you’ll find that you’ll be reminded of someone you know, a brother, sister, cousin… an old high school friend. You’ll think of your son or daughter, husband or wife. It will upset you, it will hit close to home. And it should. We should never let a day go by that we don’t think of these people, never let a day go by that we don’t get upset about this war, we should never ever become jaded and passive and allow this to just happen without having a reaction.

As someone who knows a Marine who’s served twice in Iraq, I know what his wife feels when he leaves to do his duty. I know what she feels, but I can’t imagine how she feels. The war is not a video game, a Lifetime television series or a movie. It is real, its happening every day and its tearing families apart. The least we can do is honor those who were brave enough to die in service to our country. I DO NOT AGREE WITH THE WARS WE ARE IN, BUT I WILL ALWAYS SUPPORT OUR ARMED FORCES.

Thank you for reading, and congratulations again to Courtney!

Shrimp Po’ Bubba’s… or Po’ Arwyns.

I love shrimp. I could eat it all day I think. I’m partial to fried shrimp, though. Fried in any capacity: tempura, beer batter with tartar sauce, shrimp parmigiana, coconut shrimp, etc. Arwyn (my cat) also loves shrimp. She’s not really as picky as me though- she likes any kind of shrimp. She eats around the coatings or sauces she doesn’t like. I’m not as evolved as that so I stick to what I like. And I likes fried shrimp.

The queen of frying, Ms. Paula Deen, made this and therefore I had to. I renamed them Shrimp Po’ Arwyns because of my cat who, just a few minutes ago, ate the remaining shrimp off her own little plate. No tartar sauce ;)

SHRIMP PO’ BUBBA’S ARWYN’S

Uncle Bubba’s Fry Mix:
  • 6 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Shrimpy goodness:
  • 2 pounds, uncooked shrimp, peeled (tails left on), deveined and butterflied
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup Louisiana hot sauce (recommended: Texas Pete)
  • 2 cups Uncle Bubba’s Fry Mix
  • Peanut oil, for deep frying
  • Tartar sauce, or Cocktail sauce, for dressing
  • Lettuce and tomato slices, for topping
Directions:
  1. Lightly sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a small bowl mix the eggs, 1/4 cup water and hot sauce. Place the fry mix in a shallow dish. Dip each shrimp in the egg mixture and then into the fry mix.
  2. Cook’s Note: If the fry gets lumpy you can sift it to make smooth.

  3. Heat 3 to 4-inches of peanut oil (in a Dutch oven or deep-fryer) to 350 degrees F.

  4. Place the shrimp in the pot and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove with a clean strainer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels for a minute.

  5. Serve on a toasted hoagie roll with tartar sauce, lettuce and tomatoes.

A few edits, if you will:

  • I use tartar sauce on mine, which is what the original recipe called for. But some people prefer cocktail sauce (see above photos) so have that available as well.
  • I didn’t have self-rising flour so I made one using a cheat and it worked just fine. I also omitted the water in the egg/hot sauce mixture- it made the batter too watery and none of it stayed on the shrimp when they were put into the oil. Also, in the aforementioned mixture I used plain old Tabasco sauce, which I love, instead of Louisiana hot sauce but you use whatever you want or whatever you have on hand.
  • My fry mix didn’t get lumpy at all, so I didn’t have to sift, but I made only one pound of  (jumbo) shrimp and halved the fry mix recipe (and the egg mixture, of course) and still have a ton of mix left over.. so keep that in mind. But thats okay because it keeps for 4 months in an airtight container.
  • I myself would add some paprika and maybe cayenne to the fry mix, it was a bit bland for me. But I live on hot sauce and my taste buds are immune to an extent so its really a matter of taste.
  • I did not butterfly the shrimp, either, but thats pretty obvious.
  • You’ll need a candy thermometer to check the temp of the oil, too. But you should have one of those anyway. If not- go get one.

Happy summer!