Happy 2013!!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy new years!
I thought I'd share with you some of my New Years Resolutions.
They're nothing too crazy, mainly just doing better with things I'm already doing.
1. visit the gym more
2. read at least 5 new books
3. take a trip somewhere anywhere
4. start coming up with my own recipes
5. finish my book
Out of all of the above, number five will by far be the hardest.  I've been writing this book for a little over two years now but I hit a wall about 6 or so months ago and now I haven't even looked at it.  I'm hoping with this time away from it I will be refreshed and somehow know exactly how to get it moving again.  So for now I'll just put to be continued...

My mother-in-law gave me some vanilla beans for Christmas so I decided I have enough that I can not be so picky with how I am going to use them.  As you probably know, vanilla beans are not cheap.  So my first recipe I've tried with them is a simple but tasty one...Vanilla Bean Cupcake with a Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting.

2 1/4 cups cake flour (recipe below on how to make your own cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

How to make Cake Flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp corn starch

Take the cup of all-purpose flour and take two tablespoons out.  Then take the two tablespoons of corn starch and add them to the flour.  Sift the flour and corn starch together and you have one cup of cake flour. 

Cupcake Directions
1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed for 2 minutes, or until the butter and sugar are very light. Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
5. Once ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), distribute the batter between 18 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack.
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract 
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and seeds from vanilla bean until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until well blended.
2. Add in vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of milk. Blend on low speed until moistened than switch to high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
cupcake recipe from My Baking Addiction

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