Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Journey Continues...

My attempt to post three different recipes for this month has been foiled by my inevitable future, the grown up world beckons and I have answered the call. Well, I got to leave them a detailed message anyway...as I wait patiently for my dream job to find me. This leads me to a new culinary adventure in a city where whole vanilla beans are plentiful and an international vibe is sure to influence me further. I'm both saddened and elated at my new venture and the prospect of thoroughly destroying my very own kitchen is overwhelmingly tempting. So, in response to the relocation, new temp job, and the general chaos associated with any move; next month's post may be short and simple (if I find the time for it at all). But rest assured that I will be back with a baking vengeance, beaters at the ready and powdered sugar to be spared!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Slutty Brownies

I typically post my blog within hours of finishing a dish, but this time around I wanted to include the reactions of my tasting audience. Although it was mostly inaudible moans and elaborated sighs I'm sure you can understand their deeper meaning. These brownies are special in more ways than one: there are a food blog sensation, they tend to please any palate, and they are incredibly easy to make. Despite the fact that I don't typically allow my recipes to include boxed cake mixes I couldn't hide the fact that the ease of this recipe appealed to me. The reviews were all stellar and the entire batch only lasted two days, because taking small nibbles all day is clearly justified in this case. These brownies are perfect for any occasion: bad break-ups with boyfriends, long grueling days at work, and any excuse to bring chocolate into your life would be fully acceptable.

Slutty Brownies

1 package of Oreos
1 Box of Brownie Mix (spring for the Ghirardelli, just do it)
1 Roll of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

The instructions for this are blissfully simple. Smoosh the cookie dough into the bottom of a 13x9 pan, then layer on the Oreos, and finally top it off with the brownie mix, following all instructions on the box. Bake according to the directions on the back of the brownie box. For additional decadence spoon some ice cream over a bowl of warm, gooey Slutty Brownies and enjoy to your heart's content, ignore the protestations of your stomach.
My favorite kitchen helper/food model
Ta Da!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Greek Potatoes

This month my food blog is celebrating its one year anniversary and in celebration I am going to attempt three posts. I have chosen to challenge myself by trying to stick to a theme, the first being something savory, followed by something sweet, and then the finale will be a dish that combines the two contrasting flavors. For my first challenge I decided to attack the pantry and see what needed to be used and how it could be turned into something fabulous. The great thing about potatoes is that they are the perfect vessel for new flavors. Being able to disguise something new inside such a familiar shell can allow you to introduce your family to different culinary delights from other cultures. The Greek potatoes can be described as just that; they are crunchy roasted potatoes with a simple sauce which can be used in so many variations. It can work well as a salad dressing or a marinade for chicken or pork.

Greek Potatoes

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large shallot, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients sans the potatoes into a food processor, I won't tell anyone that you cheated out of mincing that garlic either! Add salt and pepper to taste and slice the potatoes into wedges. Toss half of the vinaigrette with the potatoes in a large bowl and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Save some of the sauce to top the wedges with after they get out of the oven. 
Had to make some of them extra crispy for my picky Mom, after all it is going to be Mother's Day soon, should probably start sucking up to her now.

Friday, April 19, 2013

He-Man Cookies

Don't let the title of these seemingly strange cookies fool you, for they are sure to please any palate. After all, bacon goes with everything, right? After visiting the Oklahoma State Fair with my family last year and tasting the oddly delicious treats that abounded, mostly deep-fried mind you, we came across a new sensation. Chocolate covered bacon....who knew that the sweet and salty combination would become so popular and gain such renown. To celebrate my father's birthday this year (25 years young, again) I took it upon myself to   create something that was just different enough to grab attention, but still held the familiarity that we all know and love. Chocolate chips cookies mixed with crispy, smoky bacon pieces. Bliss? The recipe may have been taken from the back of the Nestle bag, and the bacon is not some organic specially smoked or seasoned variety, this recipe is truly bringing baking back to the basics. Two distinct flavors blended together to create something new and exciting. Try taking these to your next spring get-together and see how the compliments rain down upon you!

He-Man Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, unsalted and softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. of chocolate chips (1 bag)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped bacon, 1/2 pieces
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fry a whole package of bacon, cause you can never go wrong with too much, and set it aside to cool. Cream together the butter, sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl and gradually add them to the wet mixture, beating well. After the bacon has cooled chop it into 1/2 inch pieces, measuring out the desired amount. With a rubber spatula stir the chocolate chips and bacon into the cookie batter. Spoon the batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 -14 minutes, until golden. This recipe makes 'about 5 dozen' according to the bag, but you just may need to make more, because they go fast!
Happy Birthday, to my ole' man :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Robin's Nest Cupcakes

With Easter arriving this weekend, family and friends coming together and kids running around gathering colored eggs, what better reason to add to the sweetness? I'll have to preface this alcohol-free post with a plea from my nieces to be able to return to their coveted post as taste-testers. Not only was this a chance for us to be in the kitchen together but a chance to put our hands in melted chocolate! The bird nests are made of Chinese chow mein noodles covered in chocolate. Unfortunately, the only way to shape them is to use, as Ina Garten says, a cook's best tools: clean hands. Autumn however took this opportunity to sneak chocolate noodles out of the bowl as I was tediously trying to form nests. The flavors this time around are pretty subtle,  simple vanilla cake and two flavors of chocolate were used. But the end product was really more about the presentation, my girls would eat any flavor of cupcake as I'm sure any child would. Easter may have many different meanings to many people but one thing seems to be universal, families coming together and sharing food and love. So I send you love and hope for great food this weekend from our thoroughly destroyed kitchen to yours!

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 2 sticks butter (unsalted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar, adding the eggs and yolks alternately. Once it has been beaten thoroughly add the vanilla and whipping cream. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until it is well combined. This batter is rather thick, but have no fear, I have yet to steer you wrong with a faulty recipe. Just be sure to keep one eye on your batter and one on your niece...raw batter doesn't seem to faze her. Bake them for 20-22 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Allow them to cool completely until you frost them. I used a leftover bag of white chocolate chips, melted them down and tinted them green, then spread them over the tops of the cakes and gave them a healthy dose of green sprinkles. 

Chocolate Robin's Nest

  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 can of Chinese chow mein noodles, check the Asian foods section
  • Clean hands!
After tempering the chocolate in the microwave sparingly add the noodles, making sure to cover each piece until the can is empty. Now comes the fun part, dive right in and attempt to mold a respectable bird nest. Trust me, it is harder than you think and you must work quickly before the chocolate begins to cool. In the end they will have a adorably rustic look to them, add candy eggs to complete the illusion. And your family is sure to be thrilled with your cupcake ingenuity and praise you for straying from the traditional route when it comes to Easter sweets. You could even go the extra mile and bring the cupcakes already frosted and allow the kids to make their own chocolate nests!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shamrock Shake Cupcakes

Being the good Irish non-Catholic girl that I am, St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays, not only for the parties and green beer, but the camaraderie that comes with it. I'm sure we are all familiar with the sentiment "Kiss me, I'm Irish!" but on this special day anyone can be Irish and the bonds of drunken friendship are bound to blossom. These particular cupcakes are less about highlighting the alcohol, because there will be plenty of that, and more about fulfilling that 1:00am beer-induced need for something sweet. The creme de menthe can be pretty potent stuff, and at first the 1/4 cup the recipe called for had me fearing for my audience's taste buds. But the flavor becomes much more subtle after baking, and it provides the cakes with a nice minty green color. This recipe requires a lot of time for the ingredients to meld together properly, so be sure that you can devote ample time to this endeavor. Although I would have gone a different route with the white chocolate frosting I stuck with the timely recipe and it turned out to be the perfect compliment to the cakes. Lesson learned: Always follow the rules....well, in baking that is! If I can handle it, this month may be a two-for-one deal, with cute alcohol-free Easter cupcakes in a few weeks. My nieces are getting pretty fed up with their lack of involvement as my primary taste testers, I imagine my brother would not appreciate them consuming alcohol, even if it is disguised as a cupcake ;)

Shamrock Shake Cupcakes

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup creme de menthe
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow the egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Also in a glass measuring cup combine the buttermilk and creme de menthe. Let me tell you a little secret about buttermilk, add some lemon juice to regular milk and allow it to stand for 10-15 minutes. Cause who has more than one use for buttermilk anyway! Beat the shortening and sugar together until whipped, add the vanilla. Alternately combine the egg whites and the milk mixture to the shortening and sugar until it is well combined. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with the batter and bake for 15-18 minutes. 

White Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, roughly half of one bag
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
Heat the heavy cream over low heat until just simmering, add it to a bowl with the white chocolate chips, allow it to sit for 5 minutes before you stir. After stirring until smooth allow it to sit for 15 minutes while you beat the butter in a larger bowl. once the time is up add the white chocolate mixture to the butter and slowly add the powdered sugar,  one 1/2 cup at at time. This sounds like an agonizingly slow process just to make frosting, but trust me when I say that it is worth it!

Remember: We are all Irish on the inside! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Love Hurts" Cupcakes

The typical Valentine's Day is full of unexpected surprises and open declarations of love, but not in my world! This much loved greeting card holiday holds both good and bad memories, but mostly they tend toward the negative. So, in my mind love should come with a jolt of something different and mysterious, all while being disguised as innocent and unassuming...Chocolate is most often the flavor associated with love so why not turn that idea on its head and add a spicy Mexican flair to it. Most people are familiar with the 'Abuelita's' brand of Mexican hot chocolate, it has a peppery cinnamon undertone and truly brings out the deep flavor of chocolate. Considering my delicate palate and not wanting to easily offend my primary tasting audience I opted to use a recipe that wouldn't set our mouths ablaze. To abate the heat from the cake itself I decided to top the cupcakes in chocolate ganache and a sweet and light whipped cream frosting. This provides both a subtle hint of passion which can be easily tempted away by the marked sweetness of the frosting. In the end it both tantalizes you with its appearance and then knocks you off your feet with its flavor, much like love! <3

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave safe measuring cup heat the water and whisk in the cocoa powder until it dissolves completely. Put this aside and in a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar, adding the egg, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil mixing until smooth. Alternately add the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture into the large bowl. Spoon the batter into your cupcake liners and bake for 15-18 minutes. For the chocolate ganache simply temper a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips in the microwave for thirty second intervals until it is smooth and creamy. The easiest and most effective way to fully cover the cupcakes is to wait until they are cooled and swirl them in the melted deliciousness. Be sure and save enough for yourself, ganache should never go to waste after all...

Whipped Cream Frosting

3 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Now this one requires some patience, but the end result is worth it, trust me. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and find a comfortable standing position and ready your hand beaters, you are in for some quality time in your kitchen. But the look of surprise and delight on your friend's faces is all worth it. After all, love isn't love without a little elbow grease and a pinch of pain...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Champagne Cupcakes with Lemon Filling and Buttercream

Nothing labels something a true celebration of life and love like champagne, it's that light bubbly concoction that can bring a feeling of effervescence to your soul. Not only do you feel the slight elation and buzz of alcohol, but there is a sense of decadence that comes with it. Baking with alcohol can at times, be tricky, it can leave an unusual and unappetizing "twang" to your goods, or the flavor can disappear all together. But after seeing it done numerous times with spectacular results on Cupcake Wars, one of this baker's many muses, cupcakes baked with a bit of champagne sounded grand! I will warn you that this particular recipe turns out a rather runny batter, but the small sacrifice of a dirty kitchen counter is easy to bear when your house becomes full of the intoxicating smell of these special cakes. Not only was this cupcake idea one that I have been itching to try, but it happened to coincide with the birthday of a very special friend. She is beautiful inside and out, and the sweet, simple taste of champagne would compliment her personality and her party splendidly. Enjoy!

Champagne Cupcakes with Lemon Filling and Buttercream

Champagne Cupcakes

4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cup milk
1 cup shortening
1/2 to 2/3 cup champagne
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
8 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the milk, shortening, champagne, and vanilla; beat until well incorporated. Add the egg whites and mix for 2 - 4 minutes, it will have a pretty runny consistency. Fill your desired cupcake liners with the batter, and bake for 12 - 14 minutes, or until edges have browned slightly.

Now, because you have no doubt learned by now that I just can't leave my cakes plain and lifeless, what better filling to add than lemon. It is just as light as the champagne flavor, but has enough of a punch to stand out on its own. I cheated and used a store bought can of lemon pie filling, don't tell, but homemade lemon curd would taste just as good. Simply use a spoon and remove the center of the cooled cupcake and fill it with a small spoonful of the filling.


3/4 cup of unsalted butter
8 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Food Coloring (optional)

Cream the butter, gradually adding two cups of powdered sugar, until it is smooth. Add in the milk, vanilla, and food coloring. Once it is all combined, with the mixer still on, add the remaining cups of powdered sugar one at a time. This recipe makes roughly 4 cups of buttercream.

I decided to make my cakes more festive for the party by adding a white chocolate "M" to represent the first name of the birthday girl.