Milano cookie Easter bunnies!

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Hey guys and gals. I’m sorry for the lack of blog posts. I went almost an entire month without posting ANYTHING. I really am sorry. I know I’m lame- life is busy and it’s getting warmer. No excuse, I know, but today’s post is a super duper adorable one that I think you’re really going to LOVE.

BUNNIES!

Easter bunny Milano cookies!

I’m insane, I know. You’re thinking, “Really?!” But yes. You’re probably also thinking “Why didn’t I think of that!?”

I had this idea a while ago, and I never actually implemented it. But I wanted to for so long that this year I finally had to. I really didn’t know what to use, how to do it, etc. But it all came together and I had everything I needed in my house.

Easter bunny cookies!

What you need:

  • Milano cookies
  • White chocolate or white Candy Melts (I used Baker’s white chocolate)
  • sprinkles for eyes/nose
  • black food coloring (optional)
  • paper for ears

Originally, I planned on using Oreos covered in white chocolate, and just make bunny faces. But I bought a package of Milano cookies for the first time in forever and I realized… they’re BUNNY SHAPED. Well, not really. But kinda.

Easter bunny cookies.

I also used the new banana Milanos, which I think are really good. You can use any kind you want, obviously. Mint. Raspberry. Plain. Whatever.

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Authentic Irish soda bread with not-so-authentic whiskey butter.

Dutch oven irish soda bread.

I LOVE Irish soda bread. Love it. Actually, let me rephrase that: I love homemade Irish soda bread. The kind my mother and I make. I hate to break it to you: the raisins and caraway seeds in “Irish soda bread” are an American addition. I don’t find them too offensive; corned beef and cabbage is an American-Irish tradition as well, and my family has eaten it every St. Patricks Day since we’ve been in this country. However, that said, when I make my own bread I do not include them. I have occasionally, for fun, but on the regular I skip them. Probably because I don’t like raisins.

Most people make their soda bread on a baking sheet or sometimes in a cake pan. Traditionally, Irish soda bread was baked in a bastible, which is essentially a cast iron Dutch oven. It was made over hot coals or a fire, hanging in this bastible. So today, the recipe I’m sharing with you is made in just that: a Dutch oven. My Dutch oven is quite large- 7.25 qt. If you have a smaller one it will do just fine. I probably wouldn’t recommend going under 3.5/4 quarts, however.

Dutch oven irish soda bread.

Dutch oven irish soda bread.

And yes- if you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use a cake pan, a pie plate or a baking dish and skip alla dis.

Irish soda bread is the EASIEST bread to make. It usually has super minimal ingredients, can be “kneaded” without much more than just a wooden spoon, it has no “rise” and it really is supposed to be rustic and rough looking. So it makes a perfect bread for beginners. If you’ve never made bread, this might be a really easy intro for you.

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Depression era hipster cake.

I’m all about old timey things. I always say I was born in the wrong era- I should’ve been born around 1900 so I could have been a “flapper.” I love everything about the 1920’s/1930’s and I am obsessed with vintage everything. I collect vintage Pyrex/Depression glass/jadeite and vintage cookbooks. And vintage canning jars.

I’m just an old soul.

Anyway, I saw this cake over at gbakes.com and I knew I had to make it. Women during the Great Depression (and during WWII) were the original hipster vegans. Just not by choice. They had Victory Gardens, used butter & eggs rarely. And meat? It was a treat. I myself haven’t made a “cake” in quite some time. So when it involved such little effort and no eggs/butter? Hey. I’m there.

Depression era hipster vegan cake.

The best thing about this, though, is that it’s relatively cheap. And you don’t have to go run out and make sure you have the ingredients. I mean, most people have all the ingredients on hand- whether you’re vegan or not. Vinegar? Everyone has it. Canola or vegetable oil? Same. And most folks have cocoa powder. Which, by the way, is definitely vegan, whether you choose to use Dutched or regular. I like Hershey’s Special Dark myself.

The finished product kind of looks like a composition book, doesn’t it? Haha. Also: darkest cake I’ve ever made. Yes, I used dark chocolate but still. This cake is so dark it’s black.

Depression era hipster vegan cake.

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Dark chocolate raspberry zombie brainy cakes.

(“Okay first things first, I’ll eat ya brains. Then imma start rockin’ gold teeth and fangs… cause that’s what a mothafuckin’ monstah do…”)

..

Walking Dead Valentine's Day cupcakes with brains!

When our friend Matt (of Best Wings LI fame!) approached me via Facebook message and asked if I’d be willing to make some Walking Dead inspired Valentine’s Day cupcakes (on about 3 days notice), at first I was like “Uhhh…” I didn’t know what to do. My first reaction was no. I mean, I had ideas, but then I was thinking how I could probably NOT pull them off because where do I get ANYTHING zombie-themed in FEBRUARY!?

However, I calmed down and came to the realization that I’m an artist. Seriously. Like Jack Nicholson said in (one of my favorite movies) The Departed; “Yanno John Lennon? He said: I’m an artist. Ya give me a fuckin’ tuba, I’ll get you somethin’ out of it.” Why would I worry about buying anything when I have 4+ years of art school, 1 semester of sculpture class, a childhood of Play-Doh and Sculpey experience and over 10+ years of baking experience? Plus, there’s this newfangled concoction called fondant- it seems to be a hit on The Food Network! I could use that to make whatever I needed.

Thing is? I never really used it before. *dum dum dummmmm*

How hard could it be?

First things first: what kind of cupcakes was I going to make? Next: what was I going to do for this “Walking Dead” theme? I decided on dark chocolate cupcakes with fresh whole raspberries mixed in. Topped with chocolate frosting, then some crumbled Oreo cookies – which is basically the cake world’s universal symbol of “dirt.” Not only is that appropriate  but it adds texture to the otherwise smooth & sweet frosting. I used these big, over exaggerated black cupcake liners to up the ante on the drama. And then…? What else??

Walking Dead Valentine's Day cupcakes with brains!

Brains.

Zombies, brains… it’s a no-brainer, right? Har, har. Plus, when you Google “Walking Dead cake” or cupcakes, there’s quite a few bloody brains included in the search. Good enough for me! Plus brains are way cooler than Sheriff’s badges or whatever. Confession time: I never saw the Walking Dead. Ugh. I know I know! I want to- but I have to start from the beginning, and like what happened with Dexter… basically, I need the series to be OVER so I can watch it all in one weekend, k. I can’t watch everything up to a certain point and then wait for a new season! IT’S CRUELTY!

But I knew enough about it to know what it involves. Duh. And Jay’s friend from work’s brother was a writer on the show back when it first started, so I definitely knew enough about it. Plus I have Facebook, and friends. I hear things. And see things. I know all about Glen. #spoilers

Walking Dead Valentine's Day cupcakes with brains!

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Red currant cupcakes.

This is probably the first and last time you’ll see red currants on this blog.

Red currants.

Enjoy it.

See… they don’t grow locally. And they’re usually imported, and they’re usually pricey. Like $5.99 for 6 ounces pricey. Mmm hmm. And they’re not for everybody. They’re not like apples or oranges that everyone loves. They’re kind of a niche product. Most Americans don’t even know what a red currant tastes like, let alone have they seen one.

I’m telling you. My whole life and I’ve seen fresh currants TWICE in a market. TWICE.

Red currant cupcakes.

But that’s why they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day. Because they’re hard to find, they cost a pretty penny, and they’re just pretty. They have these perfectly round, translucent little orbs on the cutest little vines. They’re very delicate, too, and you realize when working with them just how hard it must be to pick them without crushing them. Which I’m sure only adds to the price.

I stretched out 12 ounces of red currants to make two 8-oz. jars of red currant jelly and then I used a bit of that jelly to fill some cupcakes. And I had to top them with fresh red currants too. I mean… if we’re gonna be decadent and floss a little bit… *pops collar*

Red currant jelly.

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Red velvet whoopee pies!

Well. I definitely got a bit of inspiration. It struck out of nowhere, but when it came I was more than happy to go with it. Even if it isn’t groundbreaking.. it’s fun.

Red velvet whoopee pies! With cream cheese frosting filling.

It has been a LONG time since I have made whoopee pies. I think… 5 years? I really don’t know why. They’re so cute. And fairly easy, really. They’re also a nice change from your typical cookies or cupcakes. And when they’re red velvet, they’re even cuter, I think.

Don’t you agree?

And by the way, is it “whoopee” pie or “whoopie” pie? Someone plz get back to me, thx. Anyway, yeah. Red velvet whoopee pies. Or whoopee.

red velvet whoopee pies.

And there is no special equipment needed to make them. Just cookie sheets, your hands, a mixer and a recipe. Oh- and the frosting of your choice to fill them with, of course. Although you could opt to just leave them as soft cookies, with a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar on top, too.

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Honey, lemon & ginger “flu” tea.

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

Just a few weeks ago, back in mid-January, I was very sick. Like, sick sick. Not hospital sick, but sick enough to where I ended up at the doctor twice in one week, was on two different antibiotics for a total of 2 weeks (one of which is an antibiotic they give anthrax exposed patients! Lovely!) and had to get a chest X-ray. It was wicked. Wicked gross… and it lingered for a wicked long time. I still have a little cough!

I didn’t make myself any spiced honey this season either. I’m an idiot. I made my parents two gigantic jars and neglected to make myself anything. However, I saw a quick and easy alternative on instagram and decided it wasn’t too late to make it. Hopefully I will not be sick again this season, but just in case…

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

Honey, lemon and ginger go into a jar. It sits for a few days, then when you’re sick you just take two tablespoons of the liquid and pop it into a mug. Fill with 8-10 oz. of boiling water and drink! Ta-da. Immediate flu tea. Magic.

Twelve ounces of honey makes two 8-ounce jars. One lemon makes one small jar, too. And ginger stretches pretty far; you can use small thin slices. I recommend making a 16-ounce jar if you can, because it’s easier to work around. I decided to split mine into two separate jars.

And it’s the same thing as the spiced honey- you can use it to ward off the cold/flu or use it when you already have the cold/flu to ease (and shorten the duration of) symptoms.

Honey lemon ginger flu tea.

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