Sunday, October 30, 2011


One thing I have to admit I love about news & weather websites/TVstuff is how easily and frequently they sensationalize any possible divergence from "normal" weather.  Last winter, we had a "snowpocalypse" and I will admit, last January saw way more snow than I can remember in the last 15 years - in fact, the only time I remember more snow was January 1994 when they were cancelling school by the week and I actually only had three days of school in January.  That was, as you say, epic.

So, enter today.  Well, last night, actually, started predicting a snow storm with actual accumulations along the northeast corridor, including Philadelphia.  By the time I left work, they had updated it to the season's first Nor'easter.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, let me break it down like this: really really sucky windy storm that usually comes down from Canada to mess things up real good between Virginia and Ohio and up to Maine, generally involving heavy cold precipitation of some sort.  Now, I like snow a lot, but a nor'easter was not what I wanted to hear.

So I wake up this morning to my alarm, believing I can probably head out to the suburbs and teach before anything serious starts, if it's even more than just crappy rain.  I'm lying there for just a minute before rising and I hear it:  tap, tap, ping, tap, etc.  I think to myself, "'s not freezing rain.  Not yet," and get up, pulling my bathrobe warmly around me as I head into the kitchen for breakfast.

Angst is in the window, smacking at the snowflakes.

Yup.  Snowflakes.  In October.  I mean, for heaven's sake - it's not even Halloween yet!  Everyone was freaking out all over Facebook, swearing they were going to move if we were in for another winter like last year, or worse.  Me?  I'm kinda hoping for it :)

Anyway, because it's so unusual for snow to start so early in the season ("normal" first snowfall in Pennsylvania - with any accumulation likely - is mid-December), everyone, including, is now talking about Snowtober.  I guess that's kind of clever.

In case you were wondering, I did not ride the train a half hour out to the suburbs for the privilege of teaching at least three students who didn't bother practicing.  Instead, I watched really awesome make-up tutorials on YouTube by this angelic little English girl, Klaire de lys, and then completely neglected to paint my own face.  Poor Mister.

Eventually, I got it together to make dinner, which really couldn't have been anything other than Black Bean Soup with Kale and Rice from Vegan on the Cheap.

I was so relieved when the soup came out so chunky and substantial, because I know Mister's not a fan of soup dinners and he didn't eat much all day, but he seemed pretty happy about everything except eating his dinner with a spoon.  I had forgotten how rich the broth is, and what a fabulous mouthful all the ingredients come together to make.  Some sweetness from the carrots, creamy black beans, chewy rice, bitter kale, and tangy tomatoes were all brought together and spiked with a savory broth with simple spices.

Nevetheless, I knew Mister would be craving something more to eat later on, so when I was washing up the pot afterwards, I put a stick of Earth Balance out to soften.

Right now, my home smells incredible.  I started out with the intention to make Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting, also from Vegan on the Cheap, but decided I had very little interest in the frosting.  I started to just make chocolate cupcakes, but then decided to "doctor" them a little, resulting in a cupcake version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which were always among my favorite [Trick or] Treats.

It was a simple alteration, really.  I started by filling each cupcake tin about 1/3 of the way

then I dropped about a half teaspoon to a scant teaspoon of peanut butter (I used chunky 'cause that's what we stock, but you can use whatever makes your little heart sing) into the center of each future cupcake, pressing down very lightly to set it in place.  The dough is actually pretty stiff, so you shouldn't have trouble.

Once the PB was safely nestled in a little chocolate nest, I plopped the rest of the batter on top, filling each cupcake paper almost to the top, taking care to ensure it fell completely around the glop of PB, encasing it.

After teasing Mister and I with a luscious smell for about 25 minutes, these little beauties were finished cooking and ready to cool as much as we would allow them to...

Back to Klaire de lys for a few minutes...ah, so that's how they did the make-up for Black Swan.
And other stuff I don't really need to know.  Thank you, YouTube!

Okay, back to the cupcakes.

So good.  Seriously.

There were a couple of things I'd like to tweak in order to make this recipe completely my own and utterly scrumptious.  Cooking Light got me in the habit of mixing up my flour to lighten it and then gently spooning it from the bag to my measuring cups before leveling them off.  The idea here is that you use less flour = less dense baked goods = fewer calories.  I think I need to abandon that for these cupcakes, in order to make them the dark, dense, fudgy outside I want them to be.

I think they could hold a little more peanut butter, too.  I think a full teaspoon, maybe even heaping, would be in order here.

I also need to remember to check how much cocoa powder I have before committing to a chocolate cupcake recipe.  I didn't have exactly a half cup of it left and I think that was to the cakes' detriment.

Believe me, these will be made again.  And again and again and again, especially if we have a really snowy winter.  Once I've "perfected" them, I'll share a recipe.

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