TrueBlood’s Sookie Stackhouse: Luscious Lemon Fairy Cakes

TrueBlood. It all began with a book-as it usually does for me-Charlaine Harris’ Dead until Dark. Through the narration of the delightfully witty commonplace waitress, Sookie Stackhouse, Harris opens the closet door, outing all sorts of supernaturalism-vampires, weres, shifters, demons, fairies, witches, and mythical maenads. Definitely a Deadgirl kind of novel!

Then HBO came along and made it into a naughty Grindhouse-esque supernatural soap opera. Again, I’m not complaining as I’ve never been one to turn down a horror film just because of some sleazy exploitation, but really, the plotlines do mirror those typically found in The Young and The Restless.

My Screen Rant: My summers have become synonymous with another season of TrueBlood. This year, I’m glad to see we are over the dreadful lovesick Viking plotline with Eric Northman and back to some cool, calculated vampiric bloodshed. With the vampire Authority stepping up, rebel Russell Edgington eating himself back to health, and fiesty Tara reeking havoc as a freshly turned bloodsucker, things around Bon Temps are bound to get a bit…messy. And no amount of air-condition cranking can ever cool down the simmering antics of one Miss Sookie Stackhouse.

      

A bloody good reason to tune in Sunday nights this summer

The Recipe: These lemon cupcakes are as sassy, luscious, and tart asLouisiana’s favorite fairy, Sookie Stackhouse. Miss Stackhouse is always full of delicious surprises, so of course I added a generous dose of homemade and hand-forged lemon curd to these unbelievably light treats. Cap them with an equally blond dose of lemony buttercream or leftover lemon curd and adorn with a fresh summer strawberry just ripe for the pickin, and you have the prettiest little dessert a Deadgirl could ever concoct.

Luscious Lemon Fairy Cupcakes

(makes 22-24 pretty pixies)

Ingredients:

3 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter (soft as fairy skin)

4 eggs

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

¾ c milk

¼ c lemon juice or fresh juice from 2 lemons

Zest from 1 lemon

Lemon curd (recipe to follow)

Lemon Buttercream (optional)

Strawberries to garnish

Cupcake liners: lemon yellow, red and white checked, or other cutesy summer print-BLAH

How to Make Em:

Obligatory Reminder: Spray cupcake liners with non stick baking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Beat butter and sugar into creamy submission with your hand or stand mixer. I always use my hand mixer for that ultimately personal experience hehe!

2. Crack the eggs into the mix, one at a time, beating again after each addition.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, and milk. Set aside.

4. In another bowl, combine the boring stuff: cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. Stir  the dry boring ingredients into the creamed mix alternately with the lemony liquids. I always incorporate them with a rubber spatula for that hand-forged quality, but feel free to use your hand mixer or stand mixer again. Low to medium speed, please.

6. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake cavity about ¾ full for full figured buxom blond results and bake about 15-20 mins at 350 degrees.

Adorn: Dollop with lemon curd or pipe on the lemon buttercream frosting. Complete the look with a whole or sliced fresh strawberry. Eat up, bloodsuckers!

Hand-Forged Lemon Curd

(Fills 22-24 cupcakes; make a double batch if you are replacing curd for the frosting) 

Ingredients:

1/3 c sugar

3 Tbsp butter

3 egg yolks

2 Tbsp lemon juice or fresh squeezed juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

Wooden spoon, plastic wrap, bismark tip and pastry bag

How to Make It:

1. Add all the ingredients into a medium saucepan on your stovetop.

2. On low heat, use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until the sugar has disintegrated and the butter is completely melted.

3. Cook about 15 more minutes until the curd thickens. The mixture should coat the back of your spoon nicely without dripping off like oozing vampire skin scorched by the sun.

4. Allow the curd to cool slightly then fill your cupcakes with a bismark tip. The curd also acts as a lovely alternative to overly sweet buttercream frosting. Just remember to make a double batch!

5. To store leftover curd: add leftovers to a bowl and cover the surface of the curd with a piece of plastic wrap to avoid a yucky skin from forming.

lemon curd sticking to the spoon like it’s s’pose to

Lemon ButterScream Frosting

(Caps 22-24 pretty pixies) 

Ingredients:

1 pound bag of powdered sugar + an extra cup or two

1 cup butter (soft like fairy skin)

½ tsp salt

¼-1/2 whipping cream

3 Tbsp lemon juice or the fresh squeezed juice from about 3 lemons

1 tsp lemon zest

How To Make It:

1. Beat the butter, salt, lemon juice, cream, and zest into creamy submission with your hand or stand mixer.

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar a cup at a time to the mix. I always start with a one pound bag on low-medium speed and then add more until I get the desired thickness I need to pipe on to my cupcakes.

3. After the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost with your terrifically tart frosting. Adorn with a fresh ripe strawberry.

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Game of Thrones: Peppermint Screamcheese Frosting and White Walker Chocolate Bars

Winter is coming… 

            For all of you raising your banners for House Stark or bending the knee to King Joffrey; for those of us rooting for the Onion Knight, wondering what lurks beyond the Wall, or still lamenting the beheading of one amazing Ned Stark, tonight is golden!
            Game of Thrones Season 2 begins tonight. For me, it’s just another excuse to bake. And just so you all are clear about how loserific my reading habits have become, I did not finish Book 2: Clash of Kings in time for the season premier. However, I have decided that reading the book in tandem with the season will quench my thirst for more between episodes. If you haven’t figured it out already-I get into my shows.
            What are you looking forward to most as Season 2 begins? I am excited to travel beyond the Wall with Jon Snow, his wolf companion, Ghost, and the rest of the Night’s Watch. Will they run into the Grumpkins Tyrion Lannister scoffs at? I’m afraid it could be something far more deadly-like those awful, pale White Walkers the septons spin tales about.
            My recipes celebrate the good and the bad of what it means to “take up the black.”  Finding one’s place in a brotherhood solidified by strength, newfound honor, and iron will is definitely a plus. But coming face to face with an icy undead corpse is a whole other test of might…
                                              Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly Taking The Black on The Wall-looks warm!

Perhaps what lurks beyond the Wall??

            My inspiration came from the gorgeous artwork in my 2012 A Song of Ice and Fire wall calendar designed by fabulous artist, John Picacio. John’s stunning work in the calendar is based off characters from George RR Martin’s novels rather than the HBO series. The picture featuring Jon Snow and Ghost is so captivating that I had to use it as a background for my recipe photo. Photographer I am not, but I think it looks amazing! See more of John’s talent at www.johnpicacio.com
            The Recipes: My favorite chocolate cupcakes take up the black in their ebony liners; this time topped with a chilling dollop of Peppermint Screamcheese frosting reminiscent of all things cold near Winterfell. (Bake up your own favorite chocolate cupcake recipe or you can try mine from the September 2011 post). If that isn’t enough chocolate for you, White Chocolate Walkers should be what does you in. With just a handful of inexpensive ingredients and very light prep, these pale treats will definitely put the haunt in your forest. PS-I’ve substituted premium vanilla baking chips for the white chocolate; whatever trips your trigger.
Peppermint Screamcheese Frosting
(Makes an obnoxious amount)
Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2c) softened butter
1 8oz package of cream cheese (softened)
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp peppermint extract
1 pd bag of powdered sugar
2 dozen batch of your favorite chocolate cupcakes (or find my recipe in September 2011 blog post)
Black cupcake liners
Embellishment: Silver sanding sugar
How To Make It:
1. Cream the butter and cream cheese into submission.
2. Add the salt and extract. Beat on low for a minute to thoroughly incorporate the flavors.
3. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time by hand until thick and well blended.
4. After your cupcakes have been baked and cooled in the obligatory black liners, use a large star tip to add a generous dollop of snowy peppermint frosting.
5. Sprinkle with silver sanding sugar for added Night Watch drama.
White Chocolate Walker Bars
(Makes 12-16 ghostly pale yummies)
Ingredients:
5 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup premium white chocolate chips OR 6 oz white chocolate (chopped with a sharp blade)
**Remember, you can use ¾ cup premium white vanilla chips instead.
How to make em:
Obligatory Reminder: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prep a 9×9” square pan for baking.
1. Melt the butter and white chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Be warned that white chocolate burns easier than regular chocolate so you will need to babysit the pan and stir continuously.
2. Once melted, stir it up smooth. Remove from the heat and allow the chocolate to cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk up your eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate mixture (make sure it’s cool or your eggs will curdle. Ew).
4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined-no dry batter showing!!
5. Spread the batter evenly into your pan. Bake for about 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees.
Doneness Tip: The top of the bars will be lightly browned and cracking like freezing dry skin (ahem, white walkers).
6. Remove from the heat and cool on a wire rack at least an hour before cutting into.
                                             Enjoy or may the Others take you!

The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon: Bad Arse Cheesecake Brownies

So it’s time to say goodbye to another season of The Walking Dead. It’s a final farewell to Sophia, Dale, Shane, Patricia, and Jimmy. For those of you who don’t follow the series: first, shame on you! (You should. It’s good). Second, it’s not just about flesh eaters and gore. While flesh eaters and gore are enticing to a Deadgirl like me, it’s more about the character-driven story and moral/social controversy that every episode throws up in my face, demanding to be discussed to death with anyone who will engage me.

            Is the search for Sophia a lost cause? Is pregnancy during a zombie apocalypse a curse or a blessing? Who is the father? Does Carl’s hardening symbolize young people’s growing desensitization toward violence? Did Shane really kill Otis for Carl? Could I kill someone to save my own neck? Was Hershel insane to keep the walkers hidden in the barn unbeknownst to the group? Was it right for the group to go against Hershel’s wishes and kill the barn walkers? Is suicide a valid option in the midst of this kind of world crisis? Is killing Randall what Dale called “losing our humanity”? Was Rick keeping Jenner’s secret a secret a good idea? Can the group hold together, “hunker down, and make a life for themselves” as Rick demands, or is the group “too broken” as Daryl claims.
            Never has a television show or movie made me tap my moral compass or gauge my survival-ability as much as The Walking Dead. Never have I been so sucked into a character or a situation as I have been with The Walking Dead. I’ve really run the gamut of emotions-sobbing as Sophia stumbles out of the barn; cringing in horror as Glen is lowered into the well to lure out a waterlogged zombie; utterly pissed off when Andrea puts Beth’s courage to the test; justified when Andrea finally lets Laurie verbally have it; and smitten when Daryl finally lets down his guard and shows an ounce of compassion toward a grieving mother.
            As Daryl Dixon and Carol Peletier are my favorite characters in the show, my favorite part of the season was watching the beginnings of a bond form between them. I’ve been around the internet, reading other fans’ interpretations. Some think it is purely a mother-son thing (Carol being the nurturing mother Daryl obviously never had and still needs) while many believe a romance is blossoming between them.
             I surmise that Carol and Daryl are something deeper; way more complex. I don’t think it’s about mommy issues or any sort of physical attraction, but more about two completely fractured people identifying with each other’s weaknesses and finding a connection. As season two began, I loved watching Daryl’s hard exterior sort of drip away as he relentlessly searched for Sophia. Although he’s fairly socially inept, he managed to comfort Carol in a way that brought her closer to him and to the group. His violent reaction and withdrawn behavior at the search’s outcome suggests to me that Daryl blames himself, and feels like he failed the girl, her mother, the group, and ultimately Merle. I loved how the meek Carol steeled herself against his rage, proving that she could handle him. She picked through his wrought iron loyalty to Rick, his clear ability to lead and mechanically do what must be done or asked of him when duty calls, and she unearthed a “man of honor” beneath the twisted metal. All while battling the flesh hungry undead! But that’s just the start. How unfortunate that I must wait until next fall to watch the next phase.
            The Recipe: Redneck survivalist, Daryl Dixon. What’s the appeal? For starters, he says what needs to be said and does what needs to be done without a lick of concern for opposing views. He can keep you alive while staying alive, and he’s totally cool while doing it. As actor, Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), puts it, “’It’s hard not to look cool while holding a crossbow.” Or riding a motorcycle. Let’s face it-Daryl is just plain Bad Ass. What’s not to love?
            These cheesecake brownies are my ultimate favorite (like Daryl)-tough chocolate necessity combined with creamy dreamy cheesecake-sweet, yet totally Bad Ass. See the connection? I ask again, what’s not to love?
BadArse Cheesecake Brownies
(Makes 16-24 unstoppable yummies) 
Ingredients:
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (chopped by a sharp blade)
10 Tbsp butter
1 cup + 2/3 cup sugar (divided)
5 eggs (room temperature, please)
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 (8oz) package cream cheese (softened)
1 tsp vanilla
How to Make em:
Obligatory Reminder: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prep a 9X13” baking pan with nonstick baking spray.
1. Cream two eggs, 2/3c sugar, the vanilla, and the softened cream cheese into submission. Set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate and the butter together in a microwave safe bowl. Stir it up until smooth and completely combined. This mixture will need to cool a bit.
3. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of sugar and the remaining eggs.
4. Add the cooled melted chocolate until combined.
5. Add in the flour and salt until combined.
6. Spoon about ¾ of the brownie mix into the bottom of the prepped baking pan. Next, spread the cheesecake mix evenly over the brownie layer. Using a spoon, add small spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter all along the top of the cheesecake layer.
7. With a flat spatula, swirl the cheesecake and brownie dollops together to make a marbled effect. Don’t go into the bottom brownie layer. That serves as sort of a crust, if you will.
8. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into these supremely Badass brownies!!

Dexter: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Scream Cheese Frosting

Tonight’s the night. It’s going to happen again and again. Has to happen. Nice night. Miami is a great town. I love the Cuban food and pork sandwiches, my favorite. But I’m hungry for something different, now.” –Dexter Morgan
            Another season of Dexter has come and gone. I wish I could say the same for my crush on Dexter Morgan. I blame the author, Jeff Lindsay, for introducing me to the character and initiating this whole darn one-sided love affair. It began with Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the first novel in the series.
          True crime. I’ve read plenty, pouring over every detail of senseless acts committed by sociopaths and real scary bad guys, but I’d never picked up a fictional crime drama novel until Dexter. Admittedly, the title is what got me. I’m a sucker for alliteration. After only three pages, I was hooked. It usually takes an entire chapter. An amazing read; it’s more memoir than fiction.
           The fact that blood splatter expert, Dexter Morgan, is a vigilante-style serial killer is incidental. I mean, aside from his habit of killing only evil people, he has a fairly solid sense of morality. And even that demands some consideration. A killer that only strikes down other killers because he thinks innocent people deserve to live? Sounds fair to me. Besides, Dexter’s bottomless introspection and his mild-mannered living masking that sinister secret hobby intrigued me more. He’s smart, unassumingly charming, doesn’t have it in him to get all caught up in the complexities of love/relationships, has a terrific work ethic, and is-in my mind-a great catch! Then, place a stunning visual like Michael C. Hall to bring the character to life, and you’ve created the total Dexter package. If only I was a single fictional gal living in Miami
          The Recipe: “No blood. No sticky, hot, messy, awful blood; no blood at all. Why hadn’t I thought of that? No blood. What a beautiful idea!” –Dexter Morgan. No, Dex.  No mess and no blood; just luscious cocoa and a bit of red food coloring baked up yummy then injected with a Deadgirl’s ultra satisfying, hand-forged Screamcheese frosting.
          Red velvet cake is a Valentine’s Day staple. The traditional hues of red cake and white cream cheese icing symbolize the color of purity and love or naughty decadence (depending on who you are). This Deadgirl thinks a bit on the darker side and turns it into fluffy-gory cupcakes.
            “Needless to say I have some unusual habits, yet all these socially acceptable people can’t wait to pick up hammers and smash their food to bits. Normal people are so hostile.” -DM
Dexter Morgan Red Velvet Cupcakes
(2 dozen bloody good yummies)
Ingredients:
½ cup butter (softened for the slaughter)
½ c vegetable shortening
2 c sugar
3 eggs (room temp, please)
3 Tbsp baking cocoa powder
2 ounces red food coloring
2 c cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 recipes Screamcheese frosting (make 21/2 recipes if you want to fill or ahem…inject your cupcakes)
Make:
*Obligatory reminder: Spray your cupcake liners with non-stick spray. I always do, and my cupcakes come out stunning! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. All your ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing.
1. Cream the butter, sugar, and shortening into complete submission w/your hand mixer set to med-low.
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and food coloring to make a gory paste.
4. Add the gory paste to the creamed butter mix.
5. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
6. While yet, in another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the vinegar.
7. Alternately add the flour mix and the buttermilk-vinegar combo to the creamed butter mix. Start with the flour mix and end with the flour mix. Mix into creamy submission, but do not overbeat. You don’t want to ruin the aeration process here. This is a science, people!
8. Fill your liners 2/3 full using an ice cream scoop or a spoon.
9. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cupcake tops will spring back when lightly pressed.
10. Cool completely before injecting or smothering with Screamcheese frosting and adorning with a cute little syringe. (See photo below) I paper crafted one in honor of my second favorite television show. (Come on, you all know Game of Thrones dethroned Dexter last spring…)
To Fill your cupcakes: For thinner fillings like frosting or Bavarian cream, I use Wilton’s bismark tip #230. For thicker fillings like pudding or fruit, I stamp the center of each cupcake with an apple corer (don’t go too deep. You don’t want seepage), pull out the “core” of the cupcake, add my filling, and add a swirl of frosting over the hole. Simple stuff.
Deadgirl’s “Scream”cheese Frosting
(Frosts 1 dozen cupcakes)’
Ingredients:
½ c butter (room temp, please)
8 oz block of cream cheese (room temp)
1 pd bag of powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1. Beat the butter and cream cheese into creamy submission with a hand/stand mixer.
2. Add the salt. Mix well.
3. Gradually add the powdered sugar. I go by cups and typically end up using about 4-5 cups. Add sugar until your desired consistency and sweetness is achieved. If you are doing piping work with a decorator’s tip, a medium consistency is best.
Dexter Syringe Cupcake Toppers
Dexter prefers to sneak up on his victims, putting them to sleep with a quick jab from his needle. I could definitely see how that might make binding and gagging someone go much smoother.
1. Locate a suitable syringe image online. Print in color or black and white.
2. Printing black and white? Color the contents of your syringe red with non-bleeding ink.
3. Cut around the image.
4. Adhere to white cardstock with a good-quality adhesive. Cut around the image again.
5. Spread a thin layer of adhesive on the back of the image and apply a toothpick.
*If you want a larger image and a larger cupcake topper-enlarge the image and use lollipop sticks as toppers (found in most cake deco/craft stores-even Walmart carries em).
6. Add the syringe toppers to your cupcakes, positioning each topper as if it is piercing into your yummy frosting. Add a couple drops of red food coloring for a blood drip effect. You can go a little bolder and do a blood splatter on your serving platter with red food coloring and corn syrup. I’m a bit more simplistic.
                                           Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ghost Adventures & Paranormal State: White Chocolate Kahlua Fondue

Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Celebrity Ghost Stories, Ghost Hunters Academy, Most Haunted USA, Ghost Lab, My Ghost Story, Paranormal State, A Haunting….we are inundated with paranormal reality tv. Some might consider that an oxymoron (paranormal and reality side by side), but I don’t.
            In fact, I like it. I like that I can flip on my TV any night of the week and find something haunting the screen. Although it is turning me into quite the couch slouch. I’ll admit, I’ve watched more television in the past two years than in the last decade I’m sure, but that’s primarily due to the (finally) awesome paranormal and horror shows out there. Ghosts, serial killers, zombies, vamps and wolves, oh my! Anyway, I digress.
            I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and be completely transparent now (no pun intended). I really enjoy watching stories about paranormal research, but I don’t necessarily agree with every research team’s practices or beliefs about the paranormal. Mainly, because I’m an unapologetic Christian that holds tight to the belief the dead do not walk among the living and mostly because I’ve experienced the supernatural from a much darker side. You may be thinking that doesn’t make any sense. How can someone believe in their experiences with ghosts without actually believing in ghosts? Simply put, I think it’s all bad news. It’s much more insidious than that. I don’t think the apparition you see standing beside your bed is truly Grandma Mabel coming back with a reassuring “I’m okay now” message. Nor do I think the strange noises you hear down the hall are being made by the former resident that hung himself in the cellar. I know most paranormal researchers would argue vehemently with my perspective, and that’s fine. It makes for an interesting discussion.
            My screen rant: Presently, my two favorite paranormal reality shows are Ghost Adventures and Paranormal State. They are both so totally opposite in their approach and their casts couldn’t be any more different, but I love them both equally. I’ve been watching wacky Zack and the boys on Ghost Adventures since it first aired several years ago. I’m entertained by the almost over the top drama, the around-the-campfire narrated back stories of each location, and the constant barrage of ghostly activity that always seems to freak the guys out more than it does me. My favorite episode is definitely their visit to the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa, because of my own personal experiences in that house. About Paranormal State, I respect the research group’s dedication and seriousness when it comes to their investigations. I think that Ryan and his team truly care about the people they interact with, and I also think Ryan puts more stock into the spiritual side of the paranormal than most others I’ve watched. Sadly, I just recently found out on founder Ryan Buell’s blog that he’s leaving the show. I know I’ll miss his sweet smile, his thoughtful drone, and his contribution to this so very intriguing subject. He announced it back in January. I should really keep up on my blogs.
            I could write an entire novel on my experiences with the supernatural. I do intend on sharing many of my real life “ghost” stories, but if I gave away everything at once, what would keep readers coming back? Oh, yeah. The recipes. Duh.
The Recipe: Light in color, but heavy on indulgence; this subtly liquor-spiked fondue will be quick to disappear. Much like the entity standing at the end of your bed…muwahahaha
Ghostly White Chocolate Kahlua Fondue
(roughly 12 servings)
12 ounces white chocolate (chopped into small pieces with a sharp blade)
¾ C whipping cream
3 Tbsp Kahlua (you can add more if you want a bolder Kahlua creamy flavor)
Yummy things to dip: pound cake chunks, strawberries, seedless grapes, glazed and chocolate doughnut holes, shortbread cookies, pretzels
Add the dismembered chocolate pieces to a heat-proof bowl. In your small saucepan, medium heat the whipping cream until it is just about to boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces. Stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is smooth and silky. Stir in your Kahlua until completely incorporated. Transfer your awesome fondue to a small Crockpot to keep warm. You can also cover this fondue with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until you are ready to warm it up and serve it up. Don’t forget to add plenty of yummy things to dip with your disappearing fondue!