Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hummingbird Cupcakes

I found this recipe on cupcakeblog.com and then used my own buttercream frosting recipe with a bit of nutmeg added. Highly recommended! I topped them off with a slice of banana browned in butter.

Hummingbird Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, with liquid
2 mashed bananas
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt with a whisk in a good sized bowl.
2. Beat eggs.
3. Add oil and vanilla to beaten eggs and mix until somewhat combined.
4. Add egg/oil/vanilla mixture to flour/sugar/baking soda/cinnamon/salt mixture.
5. Mix together pineapple, bananas, pecans until combined.
6. Add to the rest of ingredients and stir to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for ~25 minutes until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Ice after they've cooled several hours.

Buttercream frosting

4 c powdered sugar
1/4 or more tsp nutmeg
1/2 c butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 T whipping cream

Cider-Glazed Chicken Sausages with Butternut Mash

I found this recipe in this month's edition of the magazine Everyday Food. Turned out really tasty. Using an iron skillet really helped to brown up the onions and sausage. Next time I'd use less yogurt to get a thicker mash or maybe even eliminate the yogurt.

Cider-Glazed Chicken Sausages with Butternut Mash

2 tsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1" wedges
1 lb chicken sausages
7 fresh sage leaves
3 c apple cider
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 small butternut squash (1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1/3 c Greek Yogurt

In a large skillet or shallow heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and sausages and cook until sausages are deep golden brown, 6 minutes, turning sausages and stirring onion halfway through. Add sage and cider and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook until cider is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine squash, potato, and apple. Cover by 2" water and bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high. Cook until squash and potato are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 minutes.

Drain vegetables and apple and transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth. Add yogurt, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Divide butternut mash among four plates and serve with sausages and onion.

Pasta with Sausage and Leeks

I found this recipe in the magazine Everyday Food and it reminded me of the sausage and leek risotto I love to make. This dish turned out quite yummy and was much less time consuming than the risotto. You could even add in some spinach and grape tomatoes.

Pasta with Sausage and Leeks

1 lb. pork sausage (like Jimmy Dean)
3 lbs. leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into slices
1/2 -1 c white wine
2 T unsalted butter
coarse salt and ground pepper
box of small pasta shells or bow ties
shaved Parmesan

In a large skillet, cook sausages over medium-high, breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned. Transfer leeks to sausage in skillet and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until mostly evaporated. Stir in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 c pasta water. Drain pasta, return to pot, along with sausage mixture, and toss to combine. Add enough pasta water to create a light sauce that coats the pasta. Toss to combine and serve with Parmesan.

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

I found this recipe on cupcakeblog.com. Simply rich and delicious. I mean, what could be better than the combo of peanut butter and chocolate. Tasters commented, "Jen, you've outdone yourself on these."

Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

5.4 ounces dark chocolate or 3/4 of a 200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cocao
22 tablespoons butter (yes, nearly three sticks of butter)
1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
4-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Melt chocolate and butter over a water bath.
2. Add sugar and stir, let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
3. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
4. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each
5. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended.
6. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Filling

4 ounces or 1/2 package of Philly cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 c or more of milk (to a pipeable consistency)

1. Beat cream cheese and peanut butter until combined.
2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until combined.
3. Add the milk and beat until combined.

Chocolate Ganache

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add butter and vanilla and stir until combined.
5. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture and let cool for 10 minutes.
6. Sift powdered sugar into the mixture and beat until combined.
7. Continue to beat with an electric mixer until lighter in color and creamy.

1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone. You can also use an apple corer to easily pipe out a cylinder.
2. Fill the cavity with a teaspoon or so of peanut butter filling.
3. Replace top.
4. Frost with ganache.
5. Decorate as you wish.

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I decided to make these cupcakes on my sister's recommendation. She found the recipe on a blog, but the original comes from The Washington Post and was featured in the Cupcake Wars in 2008. She claimed these were so incredibly fantastic I would just melt. I tried the cake. Good consistency and tasty. I tried the icing. Great creaminess. I tried them TOGETHER. And yes, they are by far, now one of my FAVorite cupcakes EVER! I cannot say it enough, these are SOOOooo delicious!!

Coconut Cupcakes:
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a medium-sized bowl.

Place butter in stand mixer; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add half the sugar and beat for 1 minute. Add the rest of the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl as needed.

Add the eggs to the butter one at a time; beating for 45 seconds in between each egg. Then add the vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients in, in 3 seperate additions, alternating with the sour cream (in 2 seperate additions). Add coconut last; mix until just combined.

Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 the way. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Frost once cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream (may substitute coconut milk)
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut

Using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until well-combined, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and heavy cream; continue beating on medium speed. Add powdered sugar in increments; combine first with spatula to minimize the mess. Once smooth, frost cupcakes and roll in coconut flakes.

Celebration Chicken with Smashed Potatoes

I found this recipe in Everyday Food magazine, in a Newman's Own advertisement actually. I ended up using Bernstein's Restaurant Recipe Italian dressing, a more creamy Italian. I served it with a down-scaled version of the smashed potatoes, found in the same magazine. Yum! Both the potatoes (my new favorite) and the chicken turned out delish. Got some greens in the mix with a little broccolini.

Celebration Chicken

1/2 c Italian salad dressing
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c panko breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 t ground pepper
1 lb. chicken tenders
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a shallow glass dish, whisk together salad dressing and egg. In another dish, combine panko, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

Dip the chicken tenders in the salad dressing mixture, and then coat in the panko mixture. Repeat once more, dredging in dressing and panko. Place on baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and browned on top.

Smashed Potatoes

small fingerling potatoes
coarse salt
extra virgin olive oil

In a medium pot, bring potatoes to a boil over high in salted water. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes; drain. Place a folded dish towel on a work surface and place a potato inside. Gently smash potato so that it is flattened but still in one piece (edges will split). Repeat with remaining potatoes.

Preheat oven to 450'. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 T oil. Place potatoes on sheet and brush tops with 1 T oil. Bake until crisp and golden, 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Season with salt.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Taco Salad

This is seriously THE BEST taco salad I have ever eaten. Secret is in the dressing. I got the recipe from the owner of a scrapbook store in Chico and she said she's given it out so many times she can't count. It's sooooo dang good. I usually make a double batch because I like to have lots of leftovers.

Taco Salad

1 lb ground beef
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c taco seasoning

Fry beef in skillet and drain off fat. Add onion and kidney beans and cook several minutes.
Add taco seasoning and water according to package directions. You don't want the mixture to be too wet, but enough water to have mostly evaporated off after a few minutes.

1/2 c sugar
1 t salt
1/3 c ketchup
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 t paprika
1 T dried onion bits (found in spice aisle)

Mix dressing all together and serve over bed of bibb lettuce, torn, topped with meat mixture. I like to garnish my salad with avocado slices, grape tomatoes, and a MUST, Tostitos Hint of Lime tortilla chips.

Chickpea Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

I found this recipe in America's Test Kitchen - The Best Simple Recipes. Turned out to be a great meatless dish and was quite filling. The recipe says to use a potato masher to crush up the chickpeas, but I found putting them in a large Ziploc and then taking a meat mallet to them worked quickly and was easy to clean up. I also used pre-made breadcrumbs in a canister, rather than baking and shredding my own crumbs. I served the cakes with a green salad and my latest favorite potatoes, Jamie Oliver's best potatoes (recipe posted earlier).

Chickpea Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

breadcrumbs (about 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
1 cucumber, peeled and shredded
1 1/4 c 2 percent Greek yogurt (i liked vanilla flavored), divided
6 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
2 large eggs
4 T olive oil
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 (16 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium shallot, minced
1 lime, cut into wedges

Stir drained cucumbers, 3/4 c yogurt, 2 T scallions, and 1 T cilantro together in bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Whisk eggs, 2 T oil, garam masala, cayene, and 1/4 tsp salt together in bowl. Place beans in large Ziploc and mash with mallet. Stir in bread crumbs, egg mixture, shallot, and remaining yogurt, scallions, and cilantro. Form bean mixture into six 1" thick patties.

Heat additional 1 T oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add half of patties and cook until well browned, 4-5 min per side. Transfer to place and tent loosely with foil. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Serve with cucumber-yogurt sauce and lime wedges.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Moroccan Meatballs with Herbed Couscous

I saw this dish posted on the menu at work for lunch one day and decided to do a search for the recipe since it sounded so good. Found the recipe on bbcgoodfood.com and couldn't wait to make it. It was a little trouble finding the ground lamb, but I tracked a couple packages down at the Nugget. So glad I doubled the batch! It turned out delicious!!! I will definitely be making this again. Sorry for the metric units; it is off bbc.com. If you don't have a scale, I would just follow the water:couscous ratio on the box.

Moroccan Meatballs with Herbed Couscous

500 g lean ground lamb
1 red onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cm chunk ginger root, grated
pinch of dried chili flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
olive oil
800 g can plum tomatoes, diced
200 ml chicken stock
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Herbed couscous:

200 g couscous
50 g butter
350 ml chicken stock, boiling
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

Put the lamb, onion, half the garlic, half the ginger and half the spices in a bowl and season well. Mix (clean hands are best) and form into little meatballs (will form about 30).

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick pan and add the meatballs in batches, frying until browned all over. Scoop out, then add the rest of the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock and season. Simmer for 10 minutes until sauce is thickened. Stir in the cilantro.

To make the couscous put in a bowl with the butter and some seasoning. Pour over the chicken stock and cover with lid. Leave for 10 minutes. Stir the herbs through and serve with meatballs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Masala Chai Cupcakes

I found the cake base recipe on http://cupcakeblog.com, but made up the spices to create a chai flavor. I think I perfected it, not to brag, but it's quite delicious!

Masala Chai Cupcakes

1 c sugar
1 c butter
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
4 eggs
2 T milk or heavy cream
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground cloves
1 t fennel seeds, grounds in mortar and pestle
1 t allspice

Beat butter and sugar with mixer. Add eggs one at a time and beat in. Add milk/cream. Mix flour, baking powder, and spices. Mix dry mix into batter. Divide into cups (makes 12) and bake at 350' for 25 minutes or until done.

Buttercream Frosting

4 c powdered sugar ( more or less according to desired consistency)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t allspice
1/2 c butter
2 t vanilla
4 T heavy cream

Whip together powdered sugar, butter and spices. Add vanilla and cream and beat on high for 4 minutes. Load in icing bag and top on cooled cupcakes.

Roasted Chicken Pasta Salad

I can't remember where I found this recipe, but I want to say Cooking Light magazine. I've made it so many times and have gathered quite a following of fans on it. Great cold and even better after it marinates overnight. It's a fun spring/summer dish to eat with a cold Bud Light lime or Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus!

Roasted Chicken Pasta Salad

3 c uncooked pasta
1/3 c fresh orange juice
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
2 T virgin olive oil
1 T stone-ground mustard
2 t sugar
1 1/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 1/2 rice vinegar
2 c shredded cooked chicken
1 1/2 c red grapes, halved
1 c thinly sliced celery
1/3 c chopped red onion
1/3 c coarsely chopped walnuts
3 T fresh chives
2 T fresh parsley

Cook pasta and cool. Pan fry chicken and get a good golden brown skin on them. Combine oj and next 7 ingredients (through vinegar). Whisk together. Mix pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, red onions, walnuts, chives, and parsley. Pour liquid on top and toss.

Simple Blueberry Muffins

I found this recipe on tastykitchen.com, but then made some substitutions and additions. They turned out fantastic. So creamy and fluffy. A great base if you want to change up the fruit selection or even add chocolate chips.

Simple Blueberry Muffins
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ cups Butter
  • 1-¼ cup White Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • ½ teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1/4 cups Milk
  • 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1-½ cup tiny wild Blueberries
  • raw sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a muffin pan or use paper liners. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add milk, cream, and flour mixture. Beat until combined. Stir in blueberries.
3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle with raw sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.