Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Giving into the Cupcake...Chocolate cupcakes with Cinnamon Honey Buttercream Frosting

I don't like being a trend follower, I much rather prefer being a trend setter. America's sudden infatuation with cupcakes baffles me. It isn't a cure for cancer people, it is just a small cake! I feel as if the cupcake is honestly just cake pulling a Superman/Clark Kent trick on everyone...anyone else feel like this, anyone...anyone...Bueller.

As a baker I find myself arguing against the cupcake often. When I pass a cupcake store I do not have the desire to go in, sometimes I pass it a million times and still don't go in. Am I curious as to what they have to offer? No, not in the least. I figured if I stood my ground long enough cupcakes would go away and I could say "I told you so." Unfortunately they are spreading faster then Starbucks in DC. Looks like they are here to stay, so I guess it is about time I started making cupcakes...and eating them.

Next time I go to NYC I plan on visiting this cupcake joint...Sweet Revenge. You might recognize the name, it is featured in a Chase Bank commercial. Here is a little video talking about their place. I like how they focus on taste and not looks, even though they have this great rustic awesome look going on. They have a great concept of pairing cupcakes with beer and wine...right on, right on. I plan on visiting one day soon! In the meantime I made these cupcakes for my brother's birthday and thought they were so good it was worth blogging about.
A BIG shout out and Happy Birthday to my little brother and big sister! They share a birthday but not much else! I always thought it was cool that you shared a birthday...I thought for sure you were really twins and somehow were born 4 years apart...it could happen right? In my mind we have always been the Three Musketeers and the four following us were our footmen...shhh...don't tell them I said that : ) Here's hoping you both have many years of adventures left...and if you ever need anything ask one of the footmen.

I made cupcakes and I liked it. You should make cupcakes, you will like it.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Honey Buttercream Frosting

adapted from Ina Garten

Cream the following on low mixer speed for 5 minutes:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar

Scrape down bowl and add the following one at a time:

2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla

In small separate bowl mix together the following liquid ingredients:

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 TBS brewed coffee

In separate bowl whisk together the following dry ingredients:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Add 1/2 of the liquid ingredients to the butter mixture, mix, scrape bowl. Add half of the dry, mix, scrape. Add rest of liquid, mix, scrape. Add remaining dry and mix just until combined. Scoop into lined muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes in 350 degree oven until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Honey frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 TBS Honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cream together until smooth, 1-2 minutes. The honey I used was crystallized so it gave the frosting a nice surprise crunch...very awesome on so many levels. : )

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Caramelized Baked Chicken

Caramelized chicken with Millet and spinach salad

Listen folks, I try so many recipes out...it is insane! I have a system. It is flawed. I have issues, this I know. : ) I figured I would take you along on a journey as we follow the life of a recipe in my world.

Oh hey, someone found me online, nice. They are clicking on me, I knew this day would come! Oh yes, here comes the copy and paste, that can only mean one thing! I have a new home!

My new home is awesome! I am surrounded by tons and tons of other emails. They all call me the new kid, but hopefully that won't last too long. I have lots and lots of space to hang around, and hopefully I will get to go out a play soon.

My new home is quickly getting crammed. At least 100 new emails have been added, and my space is shrinking like saran wrap on a hot day. I think she forgot about me. Was it something I said?

Day 123. The lights are dim. The light at the end of the tunnel has disappeared. I am longing for the days when I was "the new kid."

What was that? Is that her? OMG! I knew she remembered me! Finally, I can see and breathe again!

Looks like we are moving. Where to? A nice new piece of paper! Out in the open air! The sky never looked so blue...or is that her mixer?

The new place isn't as crowded as the old one. More space to move around. The den, the dining room, the kitchen. I move just about every day now, never time to settle in.

Finally. My day has come! She is testing me out! Ohh...make sure you sift that...don't over mix...watch it lady!

The moment of truth. 6 Judges. All of them harsh. Why am I so nervous? Could I have done something different? Wait for it, wait for it. Nothing. No feedback. What is she saying? Why is she crying? What does this mean?

My new home is dirty. My neighbors are a banana peel, a coupon, and a ripped paper towel. Oh well, better luck next time.

This is truly how my unorganized scattered recipe finding process goes. I find a recipe I like online, I email myself the recipe...no, not so my inbox is full and it looks like I get emails, but so I know where to find my recipes. Yes, I realize this is a flawed system, and yes I need a new one. Next that found recipe gets lost in my inbox for a few months, then I randomly go back and search through them and find inspiration. Then onto my next flawed step. I hand write the recipe in shorthand from my computer onto random scraps of paper. Then these random scraps of paper float around the house...from my room to the dining room to the kitchen to the den and then back to the kitchen. Then maybe a few weeks later I get around to trying this recipe out. If I like it I blog it, if I hate it I trash it. I do believe I deserve a reward for worst system ever! I also have tons of binders which are semi organized by course, these of course are mostly full of recipes I have yet to try. I am not even going to include all the magazine, and newspaper recipes lying around as well. I need to hire a secretary. No, I need to Spring clean before Spring is over. Wait, is it over? Oh well, I always have next Spring. : )

I came across this recipe on Allrecipes. It had over 1,000 positive reviews so I figured I would give it a chance. Not bad, not bad at all. It is simple, and that is nice. After it is cooked I used the juices and poured it over some cooked millet. That was a good idea. Good job me.

Caramelized Baked Chicken
adapted from Allrecipes

2 TBS olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 TBS ketchup
1 cup honey
1 clove garlic, chopped
Chicken pieces

Mix together all ingredients and pour over chicken pieces in a baking pan. I had about 16 pieces of chicken, thighs and legs, and this was the perfect amount. I used bone in chicken. I took the skin off 1/2 the pieces and left the other 1/2 on...1/2 because of fat and 1/2 because some people here love the skin and some hate it. Some people who reviewed the recipe used boneless skinless, so to each their own. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes, it depends on what pieces you use and how big they are. Cook until cooked...you know how it goes.

In other news I made these Cinnamon Rolls from Cooks Country...BEST. CINNAMON. ROLLS. EVER! Here they are without their cream cheese frosting, aren't they beautiful? After one bite I swear I could hear this song playing in the background..."Nessun Dorma" Listen to it...it will make you cry and then make you want to eat a cinnamon roll. : )

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Schnabigail Cookie

I just so happen to have the best friends a girl could ask for. It is true, I tell no lies. You can't pick your family, they are kind of just thrown upon you and whether you like them or not you always love them and will always have to share your life with them...which is awesome! On the other hand, when a friend sticks by your side, and continues to share in your journey they are there by choice, and for that they are extraordinary. Does that make sense...wait I feel an analogy coming on. Imagine you live in a room with a crazy person, if you are family there is no door in or out and you have to stay there no matter what...if you are a friend there is a door, and it is open and you can come and go as you like...but you stay. That is a true friend...and yes, I am that crazy person : ), thank you for staying. : )

Now this cookie, the Schnabigail Cookie, is named after my dear friend, Abigail. We met during Freshman orientation at college, and have been friends ever since. Do you know that feeling when you meet someone and you feel this instant connection, and you just click? Or as I like to call it, "The Jane Austen Moment"...when you meet someone and immediately think, "We shall be great friends"...which is what many Austen characters seem to say when meeting a kindred spirit. We are similar in so many ways, yet differ in many respects. We are creative, we like to make things, bake things, the outdoors, adventures, road trips, Disney songs, Enrique and Jimmy Eat World, cookies, writing notes to people, taking care of people, picnics, and so may more things! I like to think that going on a road trip with someone is a real test of friendship, and I am glad to say we have survived many road adventures together!

I don't remember how or why I first called her Schnabigail, it is random, but somehow it stuck. Now whenever we would embark upon an adventure she would always come well prepared with snacks. Apples, peanut butter, cheese, and most importantly her famous trail mix! Before I met Abigail my idea of trail mix was my Mother's version which consisted of pretzels, raisins, and peanut M&M's. Abigail's version was walnuts, raisins, cranberries, and chocolate chips. She must secretly hate me, because I am pretty sure I always ended up eating most of the trail mix. I couldn't stop myself it was so darn addicting and good! Even better when left in a hot car and the chocolate became a gooey and soft, that of course made it necessary to eat more of the trail mix and faster...because we all know melted chocolate will go bad if not immediately consumed. : ) I have been thinking of creating this cookie for some time now, and am proud to say, it is done. If you have a friend you treasure you should make this cookie for them. Chances are your friend is not as awesome as my friend...just saying. She has heard me say this before, but if everyone was lucky enough to have a friend like Abigail the world would be a far better place. Rock on, rock on.

The Shnabigail Cookie

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and browned

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat to 350 degrees F. On baking sheet, spread out walnuts. Toast walnuts for about 6 minutes, until browned. Remove from the oven, place in a small bowl and let cool.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam and crackle. That means that the water is evaporating from the butter. Once the crackling subsides, keep an eye on the butter. The butter solids will begin to brown. You’ll smell the butter as it browns. Once well browned, immediately remove the butter from the heat and place in a small bowl. Removing the butter from the pan will ensure that it does not continue to cook and burn in the hot pan. Allow the butter to cool for a few moments...if you don't let it cool it will turn your chocolate chips into chocolate syrup.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, measure granulated and brown sugar. Add the brown butter and beat together, on medium speed, for about 2 minutes.

Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. The mixture should become silky smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat.

With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the toasted walnuts, raisins, cranberries, and chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.

Cookies can be baked immediately, or the dough can be left in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes...do not chill longer otherwise the dough becomes dry and doesn't stick together.

Spoon balls by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown but still slightly soft in the center. Remove from the oven. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Random thought: Buying new gym clothes make me want to work out. Putting on new gym clothes makes me want to eat cookies

Monday, May 16, 2011

Technical issues and cookies

Wedding or Wedding Shower

Dear Readers,

Blogger is being weird. If you have gone looking for certain posts you were certain you saw here before...and now they aren't...yeah, you aren't crazy. Blogger keeps taking away and then re-posting posts, they are having technical difficulties. So, bear with us, hopefully everything will be back to working order soon! In the meantime I wanted to share with you some decorated cookies I have recently made. Enjoy, let me know what you think, and feel free to order some from me off Etsy. : )

Peace out.

PS. can you believe it is almost summer? Pretty sure we skipped Spring this year, guess they didn't get the memo.

Princess crown cookies...yes, I realize they kind of look like a hand flicking someone off, I apologize for that : )

Divine Mercy Sunday Holy Communion Cookies

Baptism Cookies, with my favorite phrasing : )

Super cute cowboy boots and hats for a Western themed wedding shower

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Red Wine and Honey Spinach Salad with Oranges and Red Onions

I have recently discovered that I love eating raw spinach so much more then eating lettuce. First of all, lettuce takes so much more effort to chew, swallow, fit in your mouth, fit on your fork, and fit into your diet. I have also recently discovered that I much more enjoy eating a tossed salad opposed to a salad that you pour dressing on yourself. Tossed is so much better, you use less dressing, and you spend more time enjoying your salad instead of stirring it. Umm, I think I think about food too much...what say you?

This past Easter my Aunt and Uncle made this salad and I was instantly hooked. Since then I have made this salad about 20 times. Who knew oranges in a salad would be such a wonderful combination. Remember a few years ago when we had that spinach scare? Poor spinach, they really took a hit that year. I am so glad they are back, and better....Popeye would be proud!

In other news I finally finished my 2 year long project of making my niece an apron. I was inspired by a cat design applique I saw on the SouleMama blog...which is an awesome blog FYI. I was thrilled with the end product and already have plans to start another one...which will probably take me another 2 years to finish. Me and my projects...I tend to start so many projects, and only end up finishing a handful or so. Does that happen to you? I keep telling myself that I am not allowed to start another project until I finish 2...this apron being one of the 2...so, what to finish next? Not too sure, guess I will just make this salad again and see what happens!

Red Wine and Honey Spinach Salad with Oranges

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBS orange juice or lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
Salt and Pepper

Whisk together. Use what you need and put the remaining dressing in the fridge.

Fresh Spinach
Oranges, cut each segment in half...I used clementines
Red Onions, chopped in thin slices

To assemble salad toss the spinach together with the oranges and red onions. I used 9 oz of spinach, 3 clementine oranges, and 1/4 cup of red onion. Toss together with some of the dressing. It really doesn't take a lot, so go easy, because you can always add more after.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Beignets, fancy fat pills

How about filled with nutella? So divine!
Beignets are fabulous. They are just as unhealthy as a doughnut, but so much better. If that isn't a sales pitch to make these then I don't know what is. We NEVER deep fry at our house, but a few times a year I make the exception when somebody requests Beignets. My sister was home on Spring break and when I asked her what she wanted for her last brunch at home she requested these. In the past I have been a slacker and used the Cafe Du Monde beignet box mix that you can find in most pancake sections at the grocery stores in the South. This time I decided to raise the bar and make the beignets from scratch. It was easy, and it was worth it...well worth it. I used the no knead recipe for Challah from my favorite bread book...Artisan bread in less then 5 minutes a day. I made the dough, let it rise for 2 hours, popped it in the fridge and then the next morning took it out of the fridge and made beignets. Wicked fast! Wicked good! If you are on a diet avoid these...if you are on a diet and want to cheat, make these.

adapted from Artisan bread in less then 5 minutes a day

3/4 cup + 1/8 cup lukewarm water
3/4 TBS yeast
3/4 TBS kosher salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Mix the yest, salt, eggs, honey, butter, and water in large mixing bowl. Mix in flour until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 2 hours. Then put in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 5 days.

Separate dough into 2 pieces. Knead slightly on floured surface until smooth. Roll out to 1/2" thickness on a well floured surface. Cut into 2" squares and place on parchment lined pan. Let rest and rise for 15-20 minutes.

Heat at least 3" high of oil in large saucepan to 360 degrees. Drop the beignets into pan, a few at a time...do not overcrowd. After a few minutes flip the beignets and cook on the other side. Using a slotted spoon remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining dough. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy hot with coffee.

Please enjoy my first video post! My niece is helping me...she is a professional sous chef!