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Zucchini Banana Snack Cake with Bourbon Icing

10 Jul

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One of the joys of summer is having a small garden to tend to. Nothing too large, just a little patch in the corner of the yard where I can plant a few tomatoes, a pepper or two, some basil and mint (gotta have those mojitos!) and of course, zucchini. This was something I looked forward to every spring –  turning over the earth, planting my little seedlings, knowing that with the help of the summer sun and pop-up rain showers, in a few weeks I’d be harvesting my abundant bounty of fresh summer crops.

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Until Mr. Groundhog arrived. Mr. Groundhog, along with his wife and two small children, first appeared in my backyard 3 years ago, and have returned to my yard every year since. (Actually, I suspect it’s a new litter of pups each year, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same fat, old Mr. Groundhog.) That first year, Mr. Groundhog and family proceeded to make themselves right at home by gnawing holes in the fences on both sides of my property, presumably one for ingress and one for egress. I tried patching the holes, to which Mr. Groundhog responded by tunneling an enormous trench under each fence, the better to pass his prodigious fat self through, I suspect. That first year, the Groundhog family then proceeded to take advantage of my generous hospitality by sampling one half of each of my ripening tomatoes and squashes, and devouring entirely the blossoms off any and all flowers growing in any reachable container on my deck, petunias apparently the popular favorite.

Slow, but determined learner that I am, the next year I again planted my little seedlings, watching as they grew, looking forward to those summer-ripened vegetables. However, Mr. Groundhog, evidently having wintered under my deck, was more than ready to go and hungry from hibernation, wasted no time decimating those plantings before even the first tomato blossom appeared. That was also the year I switched from container flower gardens to hanging baskets.

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This year, I gave up. No garden plot for me, just a lush, green patch of grass where then garden used to be, and which Mr. Groundhog and family seem to enjoy nibbling on immensely. Evidently groundhogs are not picky eaters.

Which leads me to my current predicament – depending upon the mercy of others for their surplus garden produce. And which is how I ended up with one of those baseball bat-sized zucchinis – compliments of my sister, who came back from vacation and found her (groundhog-free) garden full of enough oversized gourds to supply the entire batting line-up of the Boston Red Sox. And which is what led me to stirring up a batch of this fabulous snack cake.

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I was in the middle of pulling together what seems to be the obligatory summer zucchini bread recipe, and was literally just about to measure out the vanilla extract when I was struck by a flash of inspiration. This recipe doesn’t need vanilla. What this recipe needs is bourbon, and lots of it! So I subbed in a healthy teaspoon (or two) of Maker’s Mark, threw in a couple of over-ripe bananas and topped the whole thing off with an amazing bourbon icing, and there you have it – zucchini banana snack cake with Maker’s Mark icing. A delicious, easy, healthy (sort of) summer snack cake perfect for the picnic basket or backyard barbecue…..just be sure to keep it away from Mr. Groundhog.

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ZUCCHINI BANANA SNACK CAKE

Recipe adapted from One Ordinary Day

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons Maker’s Mark bourbon

1 cup shredded raw zucchini

1 cup mashed ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, sugar and Maker’s Mark until combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add shredded zucchini and mashed bananas and combine until well blended.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10  minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely.

MAKER’S MARK ICING

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 teaspoons Marker’s Mark

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon over warm or cooled cake.

Enjoy!

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Kentucky Derby Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

1 May

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Wicked Strong – that’s the horse my money is on for the Kentucky Derby this weekend. As a displaced, misplaced Massachusetts girl, I believe “wicked” is the perfect modifier for just about anything. So when my sister Laura (of the ultimate chocolate cake fame) brought to my attention that Wicked Strong was one of the horses competing in the Run for the Roses this Saturday, well let’s just say, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

Truth be told, I’m not a huge horse racing fan, and generally, I can think of about 99,999 other things I rather spend my money on than betting on the ponies.  But there’s something about the Triple Crown races – The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes – that entices me to crack open the wallet and place a wager or two. I love the pomp, the traditions, the hats. Last year, Lady Luck was definitely on my side and I was able to walk away with a tidy little sum.

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As everyone knows, the mint julep, a concoction of good Kentucky bourbon and mint, is the classic drink of the Kentucky Derby. But while searching for a good mint julep cupcake recipe, I came across a  recipe for Kentucky Derby Pie Cupcakes by Brown Eyed Baker, probably my most favorite blogger.  They looked so fabulous, I had to give them a try. And I’m so glad I did – light and moist, and chock full of little chocolate chips and walnuts, with just the right amount of bourbon essence coming through.

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If you’ve got a Derby party in your future, the odds are in your favor if you bring these little wonders – they’ll go all the way – win, place and show!

KENTUCKY DERBY CUPCAKES

Recipe first posted here by Brown Eyed Baker

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 tablespoons bourbon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake tins with paper liners – I got about 16 cupcakes with this recipe.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in the salt , walnuts and mini chips. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and bourbon. Set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and two sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until fully incorporated and scraping down the bowl between additions.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined and stop mixing after the last flour addition when there is still a little flour left in the batter. Finish mixing by hand using a rubber spatula.

Fill the cupcake tins about 3/4 full. Bake until light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 18 – 20 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely.

BOURBON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

pinch salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon bourbon

Using the wire whisk attachment, whip butter on medium high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once combined, add the vanilla and bourbon, mixing until incorporated. Whip at high speed until light and fluffy, 2 – 5 minutes. Frost as desired.  Sprinkle each with additional chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.

BUTTER BOURBON GLAZE

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bourbon

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved.Stir and allow to sit for 15 minutes until it thickens slightly. Drizzle over frosted cupcakes.

Enjoy!

 

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Bacon, Bourbon, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

30 Mar

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Years ago, when I first moved to my current address, it didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t the only Linda on the street. I had moved into a cute townhouse, located at the top of a small, one-way street that sloped gently downhill toward the small river that ran past us at the bottom of the street. The other Linda lived in the last house on the street, just before the little park that separated us from the river.

A few years after I moved in, we gained a wonderful new neighbor, Kym, who moved into the house located exactly halfway between my house and the other Linda’s house. It wasn’t long after her arrival that Kym began to differentiate between me and the other Linda by geographical placement. Thus, I became known as Linda-Up-The-Street, and the other Linda became Linda-Down-The Street. And although Linda-Down-The-Street moved away several years ago, I remain to this day, Linda-Up-The-Street.

I have to say that as far as neighbors go, I’ve had some of the best. We all watch out for each other, catching up while shoveling snow or planting window boxes. I’m fortunate to have neighbors that are truly generous and sharing…like this recipe. In addition to being a great friend and neighbor, Kym is one of the biggest supporters of this blog and my cupcakes. So I was delighted when she forwarded the recipe for these awesome cookies. In the true spirit of b.u.i. cupcakes, this recipe uses the perfect combination of salty, smoky bacon, rich dark chocolate and velvety Maker’s Mark bourbon to create the most delicious, decadent chocolate chip cookie ever. Seriously.

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So grab your frying pan and start the bacon sizzling. These cookies are too good not to try. Just be sure to share a few with your neighbors down the street.

Bacon, Bourbon and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

3/4 pound center cut bacon, 1/2-inch diced

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup reserved bacon grease, chilled

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

In a large skillet, fry bacon pieces until crisp and golden brown. Remove bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Reserve 1/2 cup bacon grease and refrigerate until solid.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a Silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, solid bacon grease, both sugars, bourbon and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time and mix to combine. Stir in the flour mixture, then add the bacon pieces and chopped chocolate chunks.

Drop rounded tablespoon of dough on prepared cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets about 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.

Enjoy!

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