Thursday, October 29, 2009

pumpkin cupcakes.


[yes. this is my picture. i'm working on my food styling/photography skills - what do you think?]

fall is my favorite season. maybe it's because i love all things pumpkin.

the other night, my roommate and i decided to have a little bake-fest [she's my sous chef/cooking prodigy - i love it]. 

we googled 'pumpkin cupcakes', and martha stewart's recipe was the first to pop up. let me just tell you, martha does not disappoint.

there wasn't a frosting recipe, so i took the liberty of using a cream cheese frosting recipe that i now have memorized. excellent choice on my part, if i do say so myself.

[the recipe makes about 20 cupcakes. i had to make another batch so i could take some pictures].

martha stewart's pumpkin cupcakes
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. coarse salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. line cupcake pans with paper liners. set aside. in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. set aside. [don't worry if you don't have all the right spices. we didn't have allspice, so i just doubled the amount of nutmeg].
2. separately, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. [i apparently can't read recipes, and just softened my butter instead of melting it - it still worked great]. whisk in pumpkin puree. [the recipe calls for 15 oz. of pumpkin puree, which is actually half of of the cans of pumpkin you find at most stores].
3. divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway to 3/4 full. bake approximately 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. [in my oven it was almost exactly 20 minutes].

cream cheese frosting
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. add vanilla. then add powdered sugar. it will be too thick to use regular beaters after you add the powdered sugar, just fyi. hope you have a kitchenaid. or you don't mind using your muscles. i pipe my frosting out of a re-usable featherweight piping bag i purchased at michael's. and this recipe makes exactly the right amount needed to frost one batch of these cupcakes.



ps. i weighed less the day after i made these. they're magic cupcakes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a sewing dilemma.


ps. i have not gained weight. contrary to what this photo might lead you to believe.

so what is this, you ask?

it's a low-quality photo, taken by my computer, of a zip-up hoody that i sewed. from scratch [i don't really know if you would say you sewed something 'from scratch'. oh well].

i'm taking a sewing class at school, and this was our first project. it's a little emo. the fabric has skulls. i finished it today. no tears were shed in the process [i came close], but there was some blood - that's a whole different story.

now i'm on to project number 2. which is where i need your help.

project 2 is a men's tailored shirt. 

i'm making it for the boy.

it will be a 20-ish hour investment. seriously.

my teacher told me to make sure and inform him that if we were to break up, i would need the shirt back. seriously, she did. [i told him, and he didn't think it was very nice].

anyway, here is my dilemma. i had wanted to make the shirt out of very high-quality fabric. if i'm going to invest that much time into constructing an article of clothing, i want everything about it to be high quality. that way, when the boy wears it, he will happily tell everyone in the vicinity that his woman made it for him. because she is awesome. 

but today, i went to the fabric store.

and the high quality fabric i had wanted was expensive.

and i mean expensive.

like $50 for the amount of fabric i need - that kind of expensive. 
[ok, maybe that doesn't sound like a lot, because you would pay a lot more for it in the store. but think about that + 20 hours worth of my time. that's a lot of value. plus, i'm cheap].

so here's the thing. the money is not the major deterrent in my not wanting to spring for the awesome fabric. it's more the, what if i mess up? or what if it doesn't even fit him well and he never wants to wear it in public? i would kick myself for splurging on the pique - that's the fabric that feels like heaven.

so then i thought, maybe i'll make the shirt out of a not-so-awesome fabric... and then, if i mess up, it's not a big deal. and if it doesn't fit him perfectly, it's not a big deal. and then i can know how to make a second shirt of perfection, which i can construct out of the fabric that better be laced with 24-carat gold thread for how much it costs. plus, i'll then have an instant christmas present.

but what if the first shirt turns out perfect? but i made it out of crappy fabric, so the boy definitely isn't going to want to show it off to anyone.

this post is way too long. and i have obviously put way too much thought into this.

so - for all you seamstresses out there [or you can pretend] - what would you do? have faith in your seamstress skills and go for the big girl fabric? or hope you have 20 more hours of sewing left in you to make the real deal after you do one for practice?

if you help me, i'll bring you a cupcake.

or mail it to you.

seriously, i have 40 sitting on my kitchen counter.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

winner winner, chicken dinner.

a random number generator told me to pick #6.

so i did.

Blogger Jessica said...

ooh, pick me please! I'm having a baby in December and would love for you to take some shots of him when he's still a newborn. I live in Utah too.

October 20, 2009 1:12 PM

yay for you jessica! e-mail me and we will make this thing happen. 

ps. i can't even tell you how excited i am to do some newborn shots. i thought i would have to wait until february when my newest little nephew will be born :)

pss. stay tuned for a wednesday recipe i will be posting later today. i'm baking up something right now. at 12:47 am.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

baked rigatoni.

remember how i dreamt about pasta?

well, after i woke up, i thumbed through the better homes and gardens cookbook my roommate left on our kitchen counter and found the pasta of my dreams. [and by pasta of my dreams, literally, i mean i found a pasta recipe exactly like what i had dreamt].

so i made it for dinner.

it was amazingly delicious for how simple it was to make. really. 

i have a fabulous cook of a friend who i wanted to try it so i could have an expert's opinion. he said he gave himself a stomach ache from eating it so fast - that's how good it was.

i also had the best intentions of taking some beautifully styled photos of the meal as well - which didn't happen. we ate it too fast. i was lucky i even got one. oh well, there's always next wednesday!

here's the recipe:
7 ounces dried cavatelli or wagon wheel pasta [i used rigatoni. which is why i changed the recipe name]
12 ounces uncooked italian sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick
3/4 cup chopped onion [1 medium]
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese [or more than a cup. whatever]
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. cook pasta according to package directions. drain. set aside

2. in a large skillet, cook the sausage, onion, and garlic until sausage is brown. remove from skillet. drain. [my amazing cook friend told me that if you boil the sausage first, it is easier to slice before browning. i'll have to try that next time].

3. in a large bowl, stir together pasta sauce, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese [or more than that], and the pepper. add the cooked pasta and the sausage mixture. stir gently to combine. spoon the mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish.

4. bake, covered, in a 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until nearly heated through [you'll know when it's ready because the edges will be bubbling]. uncover; sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese [or more than that - i like cheese. leave me alone]. bake about 5 minutes more until cheese is melted.

and voila - thank you better homes and gardens!

ps. you can still enter the giveaway below.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

a giveaway: because i feel like taking pictures.


[i just used this picture because i thought it was funny].

my camera is getting dusty again. i have lots of people that tell me they need some pictures, and i even have a few sessions lined up in the next few weeks, but i feel like doing some pictures just for fun. 

so i'm giving away a photo session - any kind you want. family, kids, engagements, or just because you feel like you're good looking... everyone can use more pictures of themselves.

all you need to do is enter a comment below and i'll pick a winner randomly in a few days.


if you live in the utah county area, that would be awesome...

or if you're in the bay area, california area that works too [i'll be visiting soon].

feel free to enter even if you live somewhere else. i could probably use a vacation.

this will be fun.
ready, set, go.

Monday, October 19, 2009

i decided to start posting paintings on mondays.


Friday, October 16, 2009

face of friday: my awesome mother.


 yesterday, my mom flew into utah for a weekend visit. and 9 days ago was her birthday. so i thought it would be more than appropriate to share what makes judy beck so awesome.

1. she gave birth to 7 pretty cool children - #6 being the coolest [me].

2. she has the best pie recipes ever. ever. and this woman does not hide her talents under a bushel. 90% of the city of fremont knows how awesome my mom's pies are. in fact, thanks to my mother, i thought giving pies to people was just a standard life practice. the first time i went to a boy's house for dinner i brought an apple pie - they laughed at me.

3. her lasagna recipe is pretty awesome too.

4. she's a pretty funny. and i know that she thinks a lot more funny things than she actually says out loud - she's just too nice to say them all.

5. she let's me complain about how hard i think my life is. and then tells me to keep pushing forward.

6. i'm pretty sure my mom is in better shape than i am. we went on a bike ride once and she pretty much kicked my butt. and that was when i was in high school. and i was skinny.

7. she's my most faithful blog reader.

8. she writes incredible poems and stories. i'm sure you'll see them around one day after someone figures out they need to be published.

9. she's always ready to have a good time and loves eating as much as i do.

10. she is a fabulous photo assistant. and a pretty decent model too.

11. she really is the most giving person i know.

love you mom :)


Thursday, October 15, 2009

when i get to have babies.

i will gladly take lots of boys.


like 4, maybe 5.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

sugar cookies.


as promised...

the most fantastic sugar cookies on the face of this earth.

you may have seen these before on my blog here or here. so i figured it was due time to share the recipe [the cookies in these other posts actually look better than the pumpkins. just sayin].

also, as promised, where they came from: a good church friend from california taught us how to make these when i was in high school - and i will love her forever.

deb child's sugar cookies
2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 egg yolks
2 t. vanilla
4 1/2 c. flour

2 lb. bag of powdered sugar
3 T. powdered meringue
1 t. clear vanilla
1 t. butter flavoring
1/2 t. almond flavoring (optional)

for cookies:
first, cream butter and sugar. then, add egg yolks and vanilla. add flour to mixture gradually. the  dough will roll out best if it has been chilled for a few hours. roll out cookie dough to 1/4-1/2 inch thick, and cut into desired shapes. place cookies on a buttered cookie sheet or a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

mix ingredients. [seriously, that's about it]. Add water to the mixture incredible slowly, until the icing is at the proper consistency for piping through a bag - but it should still be pretty thick. then, feel free to add some color.

and here are some tips.
it's preferable not to do everything at once. when i try to finish these up all in one day, i start to go crazy and the icing job shows it. maybe make up the cookie dough one day and bake and frost them the next. or cook them with a helper - it makes life a lot easier.

i roll my cookies out thick - like 1/2 inch thick - before cutting the dough into desired shapes. they taste better that way.

watch your oven to figure out the exact cooking time. i take my cookies out when they just barely start thinking they want to look the least bit golden on the edges. they'll be softer and more awesome and last longer.

and here's the biggest tip of all - icing. it looks hard, right? wrong. use a piping bag to frost an outline on your cookie - i frost all of my outlines at once. then, thin the remaining icing with water [it doesn't take very much]. use this thin icing with a spoon to fill the inside of the cookies that have already been outlined - that's how the frosting gets so smooth. and if you have any piping icing left, use it for further cookie decoration.

let the icing dry overnight. trust me. then wrap them up, or serve them at a party and impress all your friends.

happy baking!


if i'm a terrible instruction giver, please feel free to tell me and ask questions :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

get excited.


yes, i am up way too late.

i'm blaming it on the fact that i fell asleep on my couch today in the middle of the afternoon. i didn't mean to, i just did. 

and you know what i dreamt about? 


i know, it was a little weird. but it made me want to cook. and take pictures of food. and share the love with you. which i'm going to do... starting tomorrow. 

here come recipes on wednesdays.

it's gonna be big.


ps. i'm sure they're mostly going to be recipes i steal from other people. like my sister. but don't worry, i'll always tell you where they really came from.

pss. it's raining outside. i love it.

psss. yes, i wear animal prints. no, it's not always trashy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

puppy love.


in case you were wondering...

dogs are hard to paint.

but then, it's finished. you send it off, and the recipient tells you they were so happy with how it turned out that they might have cried.

and you forget how hard it was and how badly you wanted to throw your paintbrushes.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

dear northern californians,


i'm coming home.

get excited.

from november 5-7, approximately.

well, actually, my coming home is contingent upon whether or not i can round up a few families for photo sessions that weekend.


shoot me an e-mail at for the details.

everyone needs some family photos for their christmas cards, right? right.

[above is the photo and christmas card i designed for my brother's family last year].