I've been wanting to make these cupcakes ever since I bought the Cupcakes! book and flipped through it. There's a gorgeous picture of the cupcakes with a perfect spiderweb decorated on each. I convinced myself it wouldn't be too hard to replicate the design and set out to make these for Shane's office party. The cupcakes baked up beautifully and the frosting came together quickly. The spiderweb pattern, however, was quite tricky. I think part of the problem I ran into was that I didn't add enough milk to the brown frosting so it was a bit too thick which made it tough to pull lines through. I was still fairly pleased with the final product. The spiderwebs were cute and festive and that was the goal :) They were also quite tasty. I tried one of the cupcakes and they had good pumpkin flavor and were really moist!
Spiderweb Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes
from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/4 cup crystallized ginger cut into 1/8-to 1/4 inch pieces (I omitted)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 teaspoons whole milk
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low-medium speed, beat the melted butter, sugar and pumpkin until smoothly blended. Mix in the eggs and the crystallized ginger. On low speed, mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated. The batter will be thick.
Fill each paper liner with a generous 1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/2 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before turning them onto the rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth, about 1 minute, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute to lighten the frosting further.
Transfer 1/4 cup of the frosting to a small bowl, and stir in enough cinnamon to make the frosting a light brown color and enough milk to make a thick but pourable frosting. Set aside to use for the spiderweb decoration. Use a small spatula to spread a scant 1/4 cup of the remaining frosting on top of each cupcake in a smooth even layer.
Spoon the reserved cinnamon frosting into a small self-sealing freezer bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag, about 1/16 inch long. Hold the bag about 1/2 inch above a cupcake and slowly pipe 2 circles, one inside the other, on the frosting. Pipe a dot of frosting in the center. Using a toothpick, and beginning at the center, draw the tip gently through the frosting toward the edge of the cupcake. Move the toothpick about 3/4 inch away and, beginning at the edge of the cupcake, draw it toward the center. Continue pulling shallow lines, alternating the direction of the toothpick, around the top of the cupcake, to form a web pattern. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.
The cupcakes can be loosely covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
I record every episode of Martha Stewart's talk show on my DVR but I don't generally watch them. I simply fast forward through until I see Martha cooking or baking something. I'll stop to see what it is and if it's something I think I'd make, I watch. Otherwise, the episode gets deleted. I love being able to see something made as opposed to just reading a recipe and I find that it helps clarify any uncertainty in the recipe for me. This chocolate pie was featured on the show recently and I immediately thought of Shane. I've been trying to come up with something new to make him for his Halloween party at work and this fit the bill.
For the most part, this is a really simple recipe. The only thing that made me nervous was the filling. I had tried (twice) to make pudding a few weeks ago and had failed miserably so when I realized this filling was a variation on those pudding recipes, I was worried. Maybe I'm missing something, but I feel like it's incredibly tough to judge that exact moment between soupy pudding and way too thick (ruined) pudding. I think I may have gotten it right this time, but I'm not even 100% sure. I had Shane taste the filling after I added the chocolate and he seemed to like it so that was good enough for me! After I topped the pie with whipped cream I shaved some chocolate over the top and loved the effect. I'll be waiting on the final verdict on the pie from Shane and his coworkers but I would definitely make it again if he likes it!
Classic Diner-Style Chocolate Pie
from Baked's Matt Lewis, at MarthaStewart.com
30 chocolate wafer cookies (I couldn't find these and used Oreos instead)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chocolate malt Ovaltine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons whiskey (I omitted)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the crust: Place cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process until a fine powder is formed. You should have about 1 1/2 cups. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl and stir in sugar. Add melted butter and mix until well combined; mixture should feel wet.
Turn crust mixture out into a 9-inch round pie plate. Using the back of a large spoon, press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Transfer crust to freezer.
Make the filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, Ovaltine, salt, and cornstarch. Add egg yolks and whisk until combined; mixture will look like a thick paste. Slowly pour in milk and cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; let boil for 30 seconds and immediately remove from heat.
Add chocolate, whiskey, and vanilla; whisk until well combined and mixture has cooled slightly. Let stand, at room temperature, for 15 minutes. If a thin skin forms on the filling while cooling, whisk until skin is gone. Remove pie crust from freezer and pour filling into the crust. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
Make the whipped cream: In a deep mixing bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle granulated sugar and vanilla extract over cream; beat until soft peaks return. Do not overbeat. Serve on top of chocolate pie.
Shane's office is having a party tomorrow and I baked two treats for him to bring, which I'll have up the blog later tonight or tomorrow so keep an eye out!
Ever since I've started cooking and baking more, I've wanted to make lasagna. I don't know why I've waited so long, but I finally got around to it last week. I had seen this Mexican lasagna on both Annie's blog and on Pioneer Woman Cooks, and had decided to make it instead of a more traditional lasagna (I went with Annie's version since she'd already done the work of scaling the recipe down a bit).
While it took a while to prepare and assemble, none of the individual parts of this recipe were difficult. Plus, I was excited about how much food it made because I knew we'd have leftovers for a while. Unfortunately, Shane ended up not really caring for the lasagna so now there's a ton left over for me to tackle alone. (In his defense, I didn't think he was going to like it but he did try it, which is a step in the right direction.) I froze most of the leftovers so I'll be eating Mexican lasagna for weeks :) Not that I'm complaining, since I really enjoyed it! I used ground turkey instead of ground sirloin and still thought the lasagna had plenty of flavor. Once I get through my stockpile in the freezer, I'll probably make a traditional lasagna but I know I'll also be making this one again before too long!
from Annie's Eats
2 cups unprepared rice
3-4 cups chicken broth
2-4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1-1 ½ onions, chopped
4-7 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
taco seasoning (or chili powder, paprika and cumin)
1-1 ½ lb. ground sirloin
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa verde
8-12 small flour tortillas
12-16 oz. shredded Mexican cheese
4-8 oz. enchilada sauce
1 can corn, drained
sour cream and cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Cook the rice according to package directions with chicken broth in place of water. Salt to taste. In a large skillet, melt a ½ tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until onion is tender. Add in chili powder (approx. 1 ½ tablespoons), paprika and cumin (approx. ¾ tablespoon of each), or taco seasoning to taste. Stir to combine. Add the can of beans and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add cooked rice. Stir to mix well.
In the now empty skillet, brown the ground sirloin. Mix with chili powder (approx. 1 ½ tablespoons), paprika and cumin (approx. ¾ tablespoon of each) and salt to taste, as well as 2 oz. of water to create the taco beef.
To assemble the lasagna, pour half of the jar of salsa verde in an even layer over the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer evenly with flour tortillas to cover. Spread approximately half of the rice mixture evenly over the tortillas. Sprinkle with a layer of shredded Mexican cheese. Add another layer of flour tortillas. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Spread taco beef evenly over the enchilada sauce. Layer one can of corn over the beef. Top with the remaining rice mixture in an even layer. Spread the remaining salsa verde evenly over the rice, and sprinkle with a layer of shredded cheese to finish.
Bake at 375 F for 25-35 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begins to brown a bit. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving. Top individual servings with sour cream and fresh cilantro, for garnish.
This week's TWD was chosen by Clara of I Heart Food4Thought: chocolate-chocolate cupcakes! I'd actually made these cupcakes for our one year wedding anniversary (before I joined TWD) but they were delish so I had no problem making them again :) I figured I could deliver some of them to our neighbors so that we wouldn't be tempted to eat all 12!
I didn't want to make a trip to the store to buy any ingredients for this recipe so I made a few substitutions. First, I used semisweet chocolate instead of bittersweet in both the cupcakes and the glaze. I probably would've used semisweet even if I'd had bittersweet on hand because I'm just not a fan of bittersweet chocolate. Also, I substituted sour cream for buttermilk. I've been making that substitution in my baking a lot lately. I used to buy buttermilk but it inevitably went bad before I could use it all so I no longer buy it. I do, however, always seem to have sour cream on hand and I really like the way it keeps cupcakes moist so I've been using it in place of buttermilk whenever I can!
The cupcakes baked up beautifully and once they'd cooled, I threw together the glaze and topped them. I love this glaze recipe as it's so quick and requires so few ingredients and is still very tasty! I did top the cupcakes for my neighbor with some really cute Halloween sprinkles that I'd picked up at Target weeks ago, but I forgot to take pictures before I dropped them off! I didn't bother with Halloween decoration for our cupcakes hence the boring pictures! We had these cupcakes for dessert tonight and they were wonderful! I'm not even a huge fan of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting but these work for some reason.
Thanks for this selection Clara. We love them! The recipe can be found in Clara's blog or in my earlier post about the cupcakes. Be sure to head over to TWD to see the rest of the cupcakes...I'm sure there will be some amazing Halloween decorations!
(Sorry for the poor lighting in the photos. It was late by the time I finished making these....)
Apple Pie Cupcakes
from Annie's Eats
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 tbsp. sugar
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
20 tbsp. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well to combine. Add in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3-3/4 full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the apple filling, heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon and sugar and cook for a minute, until the mixture begins to bubble. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the apples. Mix well. Cook until the apples are somewhat tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
While the apple mixture is cooling, use the cone method (use a paring knife and cut a cone shape out of the top of your cupcake to leave room for filling) to remove a chunk from the center of each cupcake, making sure to leave a rim around the top of the cupcake. Fill the holes with the cooled apple mixture.
To make the buttercream, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. To decorate, top each cupcake with a swirl of the vanilla buttercream.
Makes 24 cupcakes.
I'm so behind on posting that I don't even remember when we made these crab cakes. It must have been at least a month ago. We had 2 cans of lump crabmeat in our pantry that I wanted to use up so I figured I would try yet another crab cake recipe. This is the third recipe for crab cakes that we've tried in the past 6 months or so and I think it's my favorite. These held together well and I think chilling them before frying them really helped. I guess that fact is really my main reason for saying this is my favorite recipe (it's a pain to fry up crab cakes when they're falling apart all over the pan when you flip them). That's not to say these weren't tasty, because they were but generally speaking, I'm still just not a huge fan of crab cakes. I would definitely choose any number of other entrees over crab cakes.
Also, I should make a note about bread crumbs. You can definitely use the ones you buy premade at the grocery store but it's fun to make your own sometimes! To make dried bread crumbs, you simply slice your bread up, lay it on a baking sheet and dry it out in the oven. I dried mine with the oven set on 175 F. Once the bread is completely dried, take it out and let it cool. Then all you have to do is tear the bread into chunks and throw it into your food processor. Leftover bread crumbs can be transferred to a ziploc bag and stored in the freezer for another use!
from Cooks Illustrated
1 pound fresh crabmeat
4 scallions, green parts only, minced (about 1/2 cup) (I omitted these)
4 teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as cilantro, dill, basil or parsley leaves
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
2-4 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 egg white
salt and pepper
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Gently fold the crabmeat, scallions, herbs, Old Bay, 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, mayonnaise, and mustard together in a medium bowl, being careful not to break up the lumps of crab. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Carefully fold in the egg white with a rubber spatula until the mixture just holds together, adding the remaining bread crumbs as needed.
Divide the crab mixture into 4 portions and shape each into a round cake, about 3 inches across and 1 1/2 inches high. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. (The crab cakes can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge the crab cakes in the flour and shake off the excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay the chilled crab cakes in the skillet and cook until the outsides are crisp and browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Drain the crab cakes briefly on paper towels, and serve with lemon wedges.
I've been making a ton of pumpkin recipes, and this is a good one! I think it's the time of year combined with a love of pumpkin I didn't realize I had until this year. This is a really quick recipe to pull together and the cookies bake up beautifully. Two warnings...first, these cookies are very cake-like so if you don't like your cookies cake-like this probably isn't the recipe for you. Also, this recipe makes a ton of cookies (60-ish). I've made a half batch both times I've made them. I really love the milk chocolate chips in these cookies but I much prefer milk chocolate to semisweet so I'm biased.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips
Heat the oven to 350 F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.
Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.
Makes 60 cookies.
A week or two ago I realized I hadn't made ice cream in a while and decided it was time to break out the ice cream maker again. Fall is coming and I'm sure I'll be eating less ice cream as the temperature drops around here so I'd like to get a few more recipes in before that happens. This time, I decided to make something for Shane. He loves chocolate and he loves Guinness beer so how could a Guinness-milk chocolate ice cream not be a great idea? I surprised him with this ice cream when he came home from work and he was pretty excited about it. I have to admit that even I was tempted to try some. It smelled sooo good! Unfortunately, I really am not a fan of Guinness so I knew this one wasn't for me. Shane, however, loved it! He thought it had just the right amount of Guinness flavor, which was good to hear because I was slightly concerned the beer might overpower the chocolate. We'll definitely be making this again but perhaps not until the temperatures start climbing above 60 regularly....
Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz
7 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Guinness Stout
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator and then freezer it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
This week's TWD was chosen by Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp: pumpkin muffins! I was excited about this pick for a few reasons. For some reason I have a lot of trouble with muffins so anytime I get to practice making them, I'm happy! Also, I've been on a pumpkin kick lately (not surprising given the time of year, I suppose). In the past few weeks I've made pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin ice cream but no pumpkin muffins.
I did make a few changes to Dorie's recipe based on what I had on hand at my house. The recipe calls for buttermilk as well as raisins and pecans. I didn't have buttermilk and while I know I could have subbed with regular milk and either lemon juice or vinegar, I had some sour cream I wanted to use up so that's what I went with. Additionally, I substituted for the raisins and pecans with white chocolate chips. I've really enjoyed the combination of semisweet and milk chocolate with pumpkin so I was curious to see how white chocolate would pair with the pumpkin. I used pumpkin seeds on top of about half of the muffins and left the others plain.
Another fun thing I did with this recipe was to try using my oven's convection setting for the first time. We've lived here for over a year and in all that time I've never used the convection feature so I decided it was finally time when I set out to bake these muffins. My hope was that maybe using the convection setting would be the magic my muffins needed to bake up correctly! Fortunately, it seems to have worked! I've never had muffins bake up so nicely. They baked up with the perfect little domes I'm always trying to achieve, so I was pleased. I gave these away so I didn't actually taste them, but they got rave reviews from those who did eat them. I'm sure I'll make them again so I can try them...perhaps with the raisins and pecans next time!
Check out Kelly's blog for the recipe and head over to TWD to see how the other muffins turned out!
All is right in my world now that I have my Macbook back! I barely survived the 4 and a half days I was without it and I'm pretty sure Shane wasn't a big fan of sharing the desktop with me so this was good news for everyone! It's running beautifully and now I can start to catch up with blogging on all of the things I've been creating lately.
What better way to resume blogging than with chocolate cake?? Saturday was Shane's birthday and I had plans to make him a chocolate cake, but not just any chocolate cake. Back in February or March of this year we had picked up a Spiderman cake pan at Michael's and I knew that's the cake I was going to attempt to make. I was very wary, however, of all of the decorating that would be required to pull this off. If there's one skill I really haven't improved on too much in the past year, it's cake frosting/decorating. In any event, I knew Shane would appreciate whatever I managed to create, so I went for it.
I decided to use Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake recipe. I've seen it on a number of blogs and everyone seems to love it. It was really easy to get together and baked up beautifully. The cake even released from the pan without too much trouble. As expected, decorating was challenging and exhausting but 5-ish hours later, I had finished! I was pleased with the result but even more importantly, Shane loved it! When we finally cut the cake up, the flavor was amazing! This is a really delicious cake and I can't recommend it highly enough!
Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
As I'm sure everyone has noticed, most of the recipes that make it on the blog are baking related as opposed to cooking related. That's not because we never cook - we just tend to cook the same things over and over again (and most of the time they're not very blog-worthy). Last week, however, we tried this new recipe for pork chops on a whim. When Shane caught me emptying a jar of apricot preserves to make these, I was pretty sure I'd be the only one eating them. Fortunately, he believed me when I told him the finished sauce wouldn't taste like apricots and gave these a shot. He really liked them and so did I! They're surprisingly easy to put together, especially because there are so few ingredients. Our pork chops were a little too thick and wound up a bit too dry but otherwise, a great dinner!
Sweet-n-Sour Pork Chops
from Robin Miller, FoodNetwork.com
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Salt and ground black pepper
4 (4-ounce) boneless pork loin chops
1 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped scallions (I omitted these)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork chops all over with salt and black pepper and add to hot pan. Cook chops 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Add apricot preserves, soy sauce and ginger and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer 5 minutes, until pork is cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in scallions.
A few weeks ago my mom bought me some really fun fall cookies cutters (includes different types of leaves, apple, pumpkin, acorn, squirrel). I used them to make and decorate sugar cookies this past weekend as part of a birthday gift for someone. I actually used this sugar cookie recipe for the first time last Christmas (before I was blogging). These were the best sugar cookies I've ever had so it was an easy choice to make them again when I wanted to make sugar cookies. I think the thing I love most about these cookies is the hint of almond flavor in every bite. It's just enough to differentiate these cookies from your typical sugar cookies but not so much that it's overwhelming.
from Annie's Eats
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups sifted flour
Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool.
Yields ~40 cookies.
This week's TWD was chosen by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy: caramel peanut-topped brownie cake. There is a gorgeous photo to accompany this recipe and it has definitely caught my eye every time I flip through Dorie's book. That said, I've never felt compelled to make it. I think that's mainly because it involves making caramel, which to be quite honest, scared me. There are certain cooking/baking challenges I look forward to, but making caramel is not one of them.
Things just didn't go well for me with this one. I decided to scale down the recipe and just make one smaller cake in my 4-inch springform pan. I wasn't sure, however, how high to fill the pan with the batter. I thought I left plenty of room for the cake to rise but I definitely didn't. By about 20-25 in, my cake had completely cooked over the top of the pan and started spilling over. Luckily, I took Dorie's advice and baked the cake on a baking sheet so chocolate cake did not wind up all over my oven. I managed to salvage the cake when it finished baking and set out to make the caramel. And then I failed. It took longer than Dorie said it would for my caramel to turn amber. I wanted to make sure it was dark enough that it wouldn't be bland but somewhere along the way I crossed the line from amber to burnt. The sauce looked fine but it definitely smelled and tasted a bit burnt.
Thanks Tammy for this pick and forcing me to step outside my comfort zone. Perhaps I'll have better results next time! If you're interested in the recipe for this cake, check out Tammy's blog and as always, head over to TWD to see all of the wonderful treats that were made this week!!
Occasionally, I'll watch Rachel Ray's show on the Food Network. I'm not into her talk show at all, but some of the cooking shows have good recipes. This was one that intrigued me when I saw it. We don't eat fast food much, but we do have a weakness for Taco Bell. I'm not sure Shane's ever had the taquitos at Taco Bell, but I love them, so I'm sure that's what made me want to try this recipe. I'm posting Rachel's original recipe below but we changed it up a bit. Shane had only chicken and cheese in his while I added some salsa and sour cream to mine. I really wanted to give this recipe a rave review but I can't. While the taquitos were quite delicious, ours didn't stay together (with the exception of the three that I salvaged for a photo). Some of them broke open right when we rolled them and put them on the baking sheet and others broke apart as they baked. I'm not sure what we did wrong but maybe we'll have more luck next time!
from Rachel Ray, FoodNetwork.com
2 cups shredded chicken (Rachel used rotisserie to make it quicker)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 can chopped green chiles, 4 ounces
a few leaves fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
vegetable or canola oil, for frying
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Season the chicken with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and mix in the chiles and cilantro or parsley. Dip the tortillas in 1-inch of warm oil to soften. Tightly roll a couple of forkfuls of chicken up in the tortillas. Place filled tortillas seam side down on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
A few weeks ago I made buffalo wings for Shane. While I enjoy buffalo wings (as long as they're not too hot), I also really love anything teriyaki. So, when I saw this recipe for chicken wings in teriyaki sauce that was Weight Watchers friendly, I had to make it. This recipe really couldn't be any easier. It utilizes the crock pot so you just throw the wings in the crock pot, mix up the sauce, pour it over the wings and you're done. About 5 hours later we had delicious chicken! Our wings were so tender that the meat was falling off of the bone. I thought they had great flavor...sweet, but not too sweet. When I went grocery shopping this week I grabbed more wings just so I could make this again soon!
Chicken Wings in Teriyaki Sauce
3 pounds chicken wings — about 16 wings
1 large onion – chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry — or chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic – minced
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Cut off and discard wing tips. Cut each wing at joint to make two sections. Place wing parts on broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat 20 minutes, 10 minutes a side or until chicken is a light, golden brown. Transfer chicken to Crock-Pot Slow Cooker.
Mix together onion, brown sugar, soy sauce, cooking sherry (or chicken broth), ginger, honey, and garlic in bowl. Pour over chicken wings. Cover and cook on Low 5 to 6 hours or on High 2 to 3 hours. Stir chicken wings once to ensure wings are evenly coated with sauce. Serve.
A few weeks ago Martha Stewart devoted an entire show to bloggers of all types...it was great! I was familiar with several of the bloggers but was excited to be introduced to a great new food blog: Smitten Kitchen. I've enjoyed reading through her many, many recipes. One in particular, which was featured on that episode of Martha Stewart, is this chocolate peanut butter cake. It looked so decadent and delicious that I knew I needed to make it asap. Plus, it's the sort of thing I knew Shane would love.
This cake was everything I expected it to be. First, it was a lot of work. Between making the cakes and the frosting/ganache and assembling the layers, I spent many, many hours working on this one. It probably wouldn't have taken as long if I had ANY skills when it comes to frosting layer cakes. No matter how many times I watch someone frost a layer cake, it never seems as easy when I do it myself. That problem aside, I still thought this cake looked pretty awesome when I finished (despite what my less than stellar pictures show :)). Shane brought the cake to work last week and it was a big hit. Shane said it was moist, rich and had just the right peanut butter flavor. Shane even sent pictures of a slice back so I could have one for the blog since I didn't try a piece. I would definitely make this again but maybe only for a special occasion.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
from Smitten Kitchen
Cake (makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.
4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.