Thursday, May 26, 2011

Because of You..

I love when a friend is willing to share a recipe.  I happened to notice that miss Mindy had a lovely idea on her blog about peanut butter cupcakes.  I had to try it.  I have been thinking about making peanut butter cupcakes for a while, I am not a huge fan of peanut butter, so I haven't been too excited about making them..until I saw Mindy's post.  Oh my goodness.  My daughter loved me today, because of these cupcakes.  Mindy put Reese's peanut butter cups in her cupcakes..BRILLIANT lady that she is. (you can find her recipe and the post that inspired me..right here!)

I found a chocolate cake recipe that sounded really promising, (you can find it here) Instead of sour cream I used plain Greek Yogurt.  A handy tip that would have been awesome to know about five years ago..make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature.  This will help A LOT.  I didn't even know this until um, today?   Ha. So, make your choice of chocolate cake, and when you have filled your cupcake liners, plop a Reese's cup into that.  see, brilliant.   

The peanut butter frosting.  I don't really like cream cheese based frosting.  Mainly because I don't like the tang of the cheese, it's just a personal thing for me.  Plus, I am married to a man who doesn't like cream cheese, sour cream, salad dressing,, I just used my buttercream recipe, but did some things different.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

2 cups butter
1 cup peanut butter (Not really sure about this, I just added what was left in the jar)
Powder sugar
Whip Cream

Notice, I didn't put the amounts of powder sugar or whip cream.  Mainly because I went by taste with the sugar, and I used the whip cream to make the frosting spreadable and smooth, so go by looks...(you really can tell a book by it's cover..or rather, a frosting by it's smoothness)  

Fudge Frosting..yep, folks, two frosting...why?  Why NOT?  So yummy, do divine..and it kept with the peanut butter cup theme. Plus, Mindy used peanut butter with chocolate..which dear old Wally did not have, so I had to improvise, right? 

Fudge Frosting: (found at the same sight that I found the chocolate cake..)

1 stick of butter, melted
4 tbsp cocoa powder
powder sugar
whip cream

whisk together the melted butter and cocoa until smooth.  Start adding the powder sugar and whip cream.  I just kept adding both until the frosting looked more like milk chocolate and less like dark.  

Look into my eyes and tell me you love these!   You will.  Unless you don't like Reese's, or chocolate..or in the case of my cute nephew, are deathly allergic.  :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sometimes, I suck at baking

I had this glorious idea for a cupcake. It was going to be beautiful, and delicious. It wasn't. I am usually my biggest fan, I have loved almost every cupcake I have made, until yesterday. These cupcakes had the promise of being something great. Not so much. The batter was actually one of the prettiest batters I have made. The color was a deep lavender, I was excited. First pan in the oven had the looks of light fluffy cakes..and they over flowed. My mistake, each batter acts differently in the oven, some fluff and dome, others raise and then spread..this one, well, it was going all over the place! So, I made sure not to overfill the cupcakes,they were alright. I was going to make a goat cheese frosting, instead of cream cheese..never been a huge cream cheese frosting fan. But the way these  cupcakes were going, they were not deserving of a new frosting. I mean, we all know the frosting is the best part, right? I made buttercream, and tried one. Eh. They weren't the best cupcake out there, the recipe could use some tweaking. The original recipe found at smitten kitchen, used frozen strawberries. I didn't have any, so I used blackberries. They are not very sweet, and the seeds ruined the light crumb of the cake. They were okay. Seriously, but they need some revamping.  Here is the recipe, I would try the strawberry one first. It was actually a fun batter to make, seriously, it had the promise of a truly great cupcake..I don't know if I'll revisit blackberry cupcakes..maybe when my very own bush has produced some, we'll see.  

Pink lady cake..or in my case, the purple oops

4 1/2 cup cake flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups puréed blackberries
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven 350. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar baking powder and salt. Add the butter and berries and mix. In a bowl, add the egg whites, milk and some vanilla (I added vanilla because the berries were really tart) whisk together and slowly add the milk mixture into the flour mixture, scraping down the sides as you go. Fill your cupcake liners. I would use less than you normally would. Bake in the oven for 20-24 minutes. Let Cool and frost. These actually would go well with cream cheese frosting..

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Donuts..the homemade way...

My kids love getting treats at the store.  If we happen to be in our favorite grocery store, they always ask for a donut.  I oblige and usually (though not lately..trying to be good) I get a bar donut with creamy maple buttercream frosting on top.  My kids pick the chocolate glaze donut.  We love donuts.  I have been known to eat like five glazed donut at one sitting..(just once though and that was like ten years ago..really, I am telling the truth).  I wanted to see if I could make my own at home, and to see if homemade was better.  Need I worry?  no.  I made two versions.  One of which I didn't get pictures.  Batteries dead.  Anyway, one was a baked donut. (I ended up frying these) the other was fried.  I liked the idea of a baked donut, but I didn't like the texture.  A donut is suppose to be fluffy, and melt in your don't want to chew a donut, right?  I love how Krispy Cremes just melt in your mouth.  So, if you want a healthier version, then head to this blog and check out her baked donuts. Let's be honest though, when I am eating a donut, I'm not thinking about it's health content, or what it will or won't do to my thighs.  Donuts are for indulging in. Glazed and Simple.

Homemade Donuts:
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup lukewarm milk
3 tbsp sugar
6 1/2 tbsp of unsalted butter melted
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
oil for frying.  I used Olive oil, because that is what I had on hand.   I haven't been buying vegetable oil since reading this book (and ignore the fact that I am making something with sugar and refined flour in it)

Place yeast, sugar and milk in a mixing bowl and whisk until it is foamy.  Add the eggs and butter and mix until just incorporated.  Add 1 cup of flour and mix.  Switch to your dough hook, and add the rest of the flour one cup at a time.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times, maybe six to eight times.  Place your dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel and place in warm spot and let rise, 45-60 minutes.  Roll out dough to about 1 1/2 inches thick, and cut your circles.  If you don't any fancy round cutters, just use your biggest cup and a pastry tip (these worked great for me!)  Place the shaped donuts on lightly greased baking sheets, cover with dish towels and let rise again for about 30 minutes, or until just risen.  Start heating up your oil.  Meanwhile, make this chocolate glaze if so desired:

Chocolate Glaze: (courtesy of Alton Brown)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
4 ounces chocolate, chopped
2 cups sifted powder sugar

In a pot combine butter, milk, syrup and vanilla.  Heat until butter is melted.  Decrease the heat and add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.  Take off of heat, place in a bowl over warm water and whisk in powder sugar.  (the warm water will help to keep the glaze smooth and um, glazed.)

Fry your donuts in batches.  Let the donut cool slightly and then dip into the glaze, let the extra glaze run off and then place on a cooling wrack to let the glaze set.  Repeat.  You can also use a sugar glaze or cinnamon sugar.  These were so good.  When I was frying them I thought they were going to be more like scone, which isn't what I was going for..but surprise, once these puppies were cool enough to eat, they had the same texture as a store bought donut, just better!

Salted Caramel Popcorn

If you want a quick and easy treat to wow your family members, or guests, or neighbors..or even strangers, I would suggest this recipe.  My big sis makes a caramel popcorn that is more dry, almost like rub or crumbled caramel.  I like it, but I love gooey caramel corn.  LOVE IT.  (I love a lot of things..if you can't tell)  I asked my Pops how to make gooey, chewy corn so he gave me the recipe, and I make it a lot.  Maybe a little too often.  Try it.  It's sticky and worth the mess!

Caramel Popcorn (adapted from my Pops recipe)
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dark or light corn syrup
2 bags of microwave popcorn, popped and in a large bowl. (I use the Smart Pop butter) You can also use freshly popped corn, but I have to say, I like the texture of microwaveable popcorn better

In a medium sauce pan, place all the ingredients and cook on medium heat.  The butter, sugar and syrup will start coming together.  Stir it just a little to get the butter really in with the sugar.  Let the caramel cook, it will start to bubble.  I just start testing mine with the good old cold water trick.  (pour a little of your caramel in a small measuring spoon with some cool water, let the caramel sit for a minute to cool and then pick it up and squish between your fingers.  If it's still really runny then let the caramel cook a little longer.  You want it to be at a soft ball stage, so that when you rub it, the caramel can hold it's shape.   That's what you want!  You could cook it a little longer and let the caramel turn more into a hard ball stage, that would be super crunchy, but I am sure would be yummy)  Once the Caramel is at your desired stage, pour it over the popcorn waiting in the bowl.  Use a really long wooden spoon or metal spoon, to stir the caramel and popcorn together.  Make sure to get the bottom of the bowl, the caramel likes to sink.  Pour the popcorn onto a lightly greased baking sheet and spread the mess of corn around into a somewhat even layer.  Let the popcorn/caramel set for a couple of minutes before diving in.  Wait about, five to ten minutes.  And YUM!  Dig in.  (if you are using the sea salt, sprinkle the salt on top of the popcorn once you have it evened out in the pan)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Buttercream

simple and straightforward really.  Read my post on my new chocolate cupcakes to get the recipe for the cake part.  Just add some chocolate chips to it!  (can you tell that I'm tired and trying really hard to get this post up before I zone out?)  Anyway, my recommendation for these pretty babies, is to chop your chocolate chips.  The batter is pretty light, and I think the chips would sink.  And plus, this also ensures that every bite has some yummy melted chocolate in it.  You can't go wrong with that!  For the frosting, I just used my standard buttercream.  1 cup butter, 2 cups powder sugar..mix until light and fluffy, add some vanilla and milk to make it smooth and add more of the chopped chocolate.  My kids loved these, so did my honey..even though he claims to be sick and tired of cupcakes.  I only ate a half of one!  (trying to stay away from know, living here in SU, got to be ready for swimming suits...)  :)

Roasted Parsnip and Red Potatoes with pasta

So, I know this has nothing whatsoever to do with sugar.  Are you shocked?  Wipe yourself off the floor and read this post!  As I have mentioned before, I love the blog, Meet Me in The Kitchen.  She inspires me to make better and tastier food for my family.  I have made her Roasted Butternut Squash with Turkey Bacon and penne pasta..(mouthful..oh so good) I loved this pasta dish.  My kids on the other hand, stared at me like I was crazy when I made the butternut squash.  So, I had to rethink this recipe to make it family approved and I am happy to report, that it was...with one minor exception of Mister L, who kept insisting that he didn't like it and who then proceeded to eat the entire serving I gave him.  Go figure.

Parsnips.  I was a little leery of this vegetable.  What was it exactly?  A very large white carrot?  A long and fat radish?  (Thank you Bountiful Baskets for making my life so adventurous.)  So, it's a vegetable, right?  Which means I can roast it, right?  Which is what I did.  So, here is the recipe, if you want the butternut squash though..just swap out the parsnips and potatoes with the you know, the squash.

Roasted Parsnip and Red Potatoes with Pasta.

2 medium sized Parsnips, diced
3 small to medium Red Potatoes, diced
4 cloves of garlic, either left whole or diced
Olive Oil, about 3 tbsp.
Salt and pepper and any other seasonings to tasted

Preheat oven to 400.  In a bowl, combine your diced vegetables and garlic and drizzle on the Olive Oil.  Season well, and toss to coat.  Place on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until your vegetables are cooked though and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, prepare you pasta.  I used Penne, but any bite sized pasta would work here.  Dice and cook some bacon. I used four strips of bacon, but you can use more or less.  It's the "garnish" of this dish, so you don't want it overpowering the vegetables and sauce.

White Sauce:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup cheese (I used cheddar this time)

In a sauce pan, pour your flour.  Using a whisk, slowly add the milk, whisking to prevent lumps.   Cook on medium heat, and continue to whisk until the sauce has thickened.  Removed from heat and add the cheese, stir until the cheese is melted.

Pour the pasta in a well greased casserole dish, and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta.  Gently toss the pasta and sauce together.  Sprinkle on the roasted vegetables and bacon.  Sprinkle on some cheese to make a nice crust, and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.

I think this recipe is pretty adaptable.  I have to say, I loved the roasted potatoes with the pasta.  I wasn't a huge fan of the parsnip.  S made a good point and said the parsnip was a little sweet for this dish.  All in all though, this was a great dish to feed my family.  If you would like to see the original recipe, go here