Sunday, January 11, 2015

One Little Word - Art + Milk Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipes

One Little Word - 2015 - Art
(Oddly, I don't happen to have any images for today as I spent the weekend making 3 pairs of linen pants for Ethan, who is going to Thailand on Thursday. I will post about that soon.)

I’ve spent a good bit of time thinking about how my life is about to change, due to the kids both becoming adults and my father-in-law passing away. I am really in the midst of these changes as various aspects of them have been occurring for the last couple of years.

At first, the changes were a bit shocking. How I defined myself, how I spent my time, where my priorities were and how I expected to interact with my family members changed dramatically; I don’t think I was very graceful about those changes. I spent a lot of time worrying, being sad, feeling left behind and off kilter since many of the things I had been focused on shifted.

Those attitudes were not helpful to me or anyone else. I decided that I needed to shift my perspective and look at them differently. I decided that I needed to shift from feeling bad, feeling a little sorry for myself, feeling empty or forgotten or useless in some ways, to feeling thankful for the opportunities that I still have, and especially for the new ones that are beginning to come my way. I am trying to shift from worrying to feeling gratitude. I am shifting my perspective.

As part of making that shift in a conscious manner, I am taking part in the “One Little Word” project this year. It is a spin on the idea of a resolution. However, instead of the resolution being some specific action(s), it is a focus on “one little word” and the implications of that word for you in your life. This is a project that I have thought about doing for several years, but have not actually gotten around to signing up for.

After much deliberation, I am choosing “art” as my “one little word. I started out considering "Accept" but it was not quite right. There is a bit of "suck it up and move forward" in that word that I did not want to have as part of my attitude. I considered, "Flexibility" as well, but that too including bending my will. I've done that for a long time, so I eventually decided on "Art" even though it is a very different kind of word that most of the others are choosing. I chose it for a variety of reasons. I am using it in a mostly non-literal way. To me, art is mostly about noticing the little details and their relationship to each other. Art is about taking a bunch of small things that may seem insignificant on their own, combining them, and coming up with something much more substantial. “Art” in this usage is about the “art” of looking, noticing and reframing. Making art is a central element in my life. It is part of who I am, how I recenter myself, part of how I find value in myself and how I have something to offer to others. Choosing “art” as my word is also about choosing to find time to be artful and make art more of a priority, a way to make myself more central in my own life. Art, in this sense, is about finding a better perspective, it is about noticing how things fit together in a bigger picture, it is about making time to make art and have art be a way that I recenter how I approach life.

Below is a link to a blog posting that I think most women could benefit from reading and doing. I hope you take the time to read it.
"Burn the Candle"

Milk Stout Cupcakes
via: Tasting Colorado by Michele Morris

3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Flour
1 tea. Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
12 oz. Milk Stout Beer (Left hand Brewery)
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 TB Vanilla
3 Eggs
8 oz. Sour Cream

8 oz. Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1 pnd Powdered Sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the muffin tin with either cupcake liners, or by buttering and flouring the cups.

Combine the cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt (I omit the salt).
Whisk the beer, melted butter and vanilla. Add each of the three eggs one by one. Add the sour cream. Blend this into the dry mixture gently. Be careful to not over mix.

Fill the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

To make the frosting, beat the powdered sugar into the cream cheese.

Here's the frosting I made for this batch of cupcakes. I liked that it was not super sweet:

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep time: 2 mins Cook time: 3 mins Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 3 CUPS

A simple recipe for classic chocolate buttercream frosting. Perfect for frosting cakes, cookies, brownies, or cupcakes.
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or ½ pound), softened (but not melted!)
3½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

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