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Monthly Archives: March 2012

St. Patrick’s Day Treats!

Yesterday, I made some chocolate Guinness cupcakes with a Bailey’s Irish Creme buttercream. I followed the recipe pretty closely. The recipe recommended making them in a jumbo size, but I did them regular cupcake sized. I didn’t know which Guinness to buy, so I asked a nice girl who was buying some which would taste best in a chocolate cupcake. She said that she makes them every year and uses the Guinness Draught. This was good news for me because it was available in a 4-pack! I also used Bailey’s in place of the Guinness in the original recipe for the frosting. I added a bit of milk to make the frosting soft enough to pipe onto the cupcakes with my new star tip. The cakes were very tasty with a light Guinness flavor. The frosting was WAY too strong for me personally but everyone else said it was awesome.

I got the recipe for both from Leite’s Culinaria: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook by David Arrick

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup dark stout, such as Guinness, poured and settled before you measure
2 large eggs
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Vanilla Bailey’s Buttercream:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted or whisked.
3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Creme liquor
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Make the cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and place a baking rack in the center of the oven. Line 24 regular sized cupcake pans with liners (Mine had a basket print on the outside! :D)
2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cocoa powder, and stir until smooth. Then stir in the stout. Set the mixture and aside to cool for 10 minutes.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the eggs and the sour cream. Slowly add the cooled chocolate mixture, making sure to incorporate it well. Next, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt, and whisk until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.
4. Fill each prepared cup about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the tops are just firm to the touch and a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Leave the cupcakes in the pan on a rack to cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack to cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour.

Make the buttercream
5. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, Bailey’s, vanilla, and salt to the bowl, and continue to beat until very smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little green food coloring if you would like at this point too!

Construct the cupcakes
6. Frost each cupcake in a way that you like. I used my new star tip and a piping bag. The original recipe recommends sprinkling each cupcake with a tablespoon of the crushed pretzels but I just used some green sugar crystals I had here. The cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container or frozen for up to 1 month. However, they were gone by the end of today. The rig crew sure did like them! 😀

Today (St. Patrick’s Day) I made some chocolate cupcakes with a mint chocolate ganache filling and mint buttercream. These I got from The Cupcake Bakeshop website by Chockylit. I love her basic chocolate cupcake recipe so instead of the one she paired with the mint chocolate ganache and mint buttercream, I used the one that I like so much. I like using Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa because it is less expensive than Valhrona. It is pretty amazing with Hershey’s so I am sure it would be amazing with the high quality chocolate. I found that when I added the milk directly from the refrigerator, the mix would look like it was breaking. I think the milk made the butter cold enough to partially solidify so I am going to try taking it out of the fridge when I start making everything to let it warm up a touch next time.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe by Chockylit (I doubled her base recipe)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1 cup + 4 tablespoons sugar
1 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup milk, not fridge cold
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Beat butter until light in color. Add sugar and beat until it is fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add the eggs and beat until everything is well combined.
Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small bowl and whisk to combine. (Whisking the mix aerates it so you don’t have to sift it together)
Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mix and beat to combine. Add half of the milk/vanilla and mix well. Continue alternating between the dry mix and the wet once more, finishing with the last portion of the dry mix.
Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

The Mint Chocolate Ganache and Mint Buttercream were from a completely different recipe. I adapted it a little by accident. I forgot to add the butter and the teaspoon of mint after I mixed it all up but it ended up working out anyway!

Mint Chocolate Ganache
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
(1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves)

Directions:
Chop the chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
Heat the cream and mint leaves in a small saucepan until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Pour the cream through a strainer, over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until the chocolate is completely melted. (If you add the butter and chopped mint from the original recipe, you add it here.)
Let the chocolate mixture cool then put it into the refrigerator to thicken for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Mint Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon all natural peppermint extract

Directions:
Whisk the butter until creamy, scrape bowl.
Add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract, and mix until combined. I tasted it after I added 1/8 tsp of the peppermint extract and ended up adding another 1/8 tsp. The consistency was perfect at this point but you can add more powdered sugar if it isn’t piping consistency for you. My frosting sort of looked like it was grainy to me but I think it was the fault of the milk being too cold again. I think it really makes a difference.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, you can fill them. I use an apple corer to take out the centers of each cupcake and snack on the middles while I am filling! I filled the cupcakes with one overfull teaspoon of the ganache and then piped on the frosting. (Tinted green for St. Patrick’s Day with a little food coloring while it was mixing.)

I topped mine with brown and green dark chocolate M&Ms 😀

This batch was the second time I used the star tip. I really love the way the frosting looks on these cupcakes! It is bakery worthy I think 😀

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in The Bakery!

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make Shepherd’s Pie tonight for dinner. I did a pretty traditional recipe from Alton Brown, except I substituted ground sirloin for ground lamb.  I also added a handful of shredded jack/cheddar cheese mix and a sprinkling of garlic to the potatoes because I like interesting potatoes.  I also put a good twist on the Shepherd’s pie by making it into cupcakes! I found some jumbo muffin size foil wrappers at the grocery store today and they made a much nicer serving size than the regular cupcake sized liners were. They were a little harder to fill and smooth the potatoes on because they are a bit flimsier than a real cup would be. I just picked them up in my hand and held them closed while I got the potatoes nicely spread on it.

Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Ingredients

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
1/4 cup milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded jack and cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

For the meat filling:
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 12oz package button mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions:

Wash the red potatoes and place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Put the pan on high heat with a lid, until it boils. Once it boils, uncover it, and turn it down to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are fork tender, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a microwave safe bowl, in your microwave for about 30 seconds – just until it is heated through. Once the potatoes are ready, put them in the bowl of a standing mixer and add the milk/butter mixture plus the cheese and salt/pepper/garlic powder. Mix them until they are whipped nicely. If you don’t have a mixer, you can put them back into the saucepan with the other ingredients and mash them with a potato masher.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, carrots, and mushrooms and saute just until they start to brown. Add the lamb, salt and pepper, and garlic and cook until everything is nice and brown and cooked through. Sprinkle the flour around the pan and mix it well. Let it cook for another minute and then add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, and thyme. Stir it well. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it until it is thick like a gravy. This took me around 5 minutes but it could take up to 10-12 depending on the heat of your pan.

Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture. Line a baking sheet with foil Jumbo muffin liners in a 3×4 grid. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the liners almost to the top with meat filling. The mixture should fill 12 liners. With a smaller scoop or tablespoon, put a spoonful of mashed potatoes on each one. Flatten and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are nice and brown on top.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in General Food, Meals!

 

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Lasagna Cupcakes

I was reading through my food blogs on Flipboard one night and I found a recipe for these lasagna cupcakes. I modified it a little bit because I have made lasagna quite a few times and I know what I like in it. The original recipe is from Tablespoon.com but I changed it so much that I am going to just re-write it in my own words here. I chose to use gyoza skins instead of wonton ones because they are already round. I liked the way they came out when I used them whole but they can also be cut to size to allow you to see the layers a bit better when you take the cupcake out of the liner to serve it. The gyoza skins end up being soft like regular noodles.  If you use a whole one, the top layer skin sticks out of the sauce just a little bit and becomes crunchy, just like the edges of a lasagna baked in a 9×13 pan!  I used my family’s classic ricotta mix from our lasagna recipe I have been making since I was a kid. The sauce, I kind of made up as I was going along but it is the basic meat sauce I always make really. I love these so much and I am currently dreaming up all the different recipes I can turn in to cupcakes now!

Lasagna Cupcakes
Makes 22 cupcakes

For the Sauce:
3 8oz cans no salt added tomato sauce
1/2 a large, yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 lb ground turkey, browned
salt and pepper to taste

For the Filling:
1 8oz container ricotta cheese
a handful of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

44 gyoza wrappers
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350F.

To begin, brown the onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. While they cook, put the sauce into a medium saucepan. Add the onions and garlic to the sauce and use the same pan to cook the ground turkey. I seasoned the turkey itself with salt and pepper and a little bit of garlic powder as well but you don’t HAVE to do that. Once the turkey is done cooking, add it to the sauce as well. Let the sauce cook while you mix up the ricotta cheese and until you are ready to assemble. I left it for a good hour while I made dessert tonight. The longer it cooks on low, the better it will be.

Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, garlic powder, and salt/pepper in a bowl. Taste it. If it needs more of anything, you can add it now.

To assemble the lasagna cupcakes, line your cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners. I found these to be much easier clean up than spraying the pan itself and building them that way. Spray the liners with a little bit of cooking spray. Place one gyoza skin in the bottom of each well. Add a tablespoon or so of the meat sauce, then about a teaspoon of ricotta, then a sprinkle of mozzarella. Place another gyoza skin on top of that, then another teaspoon ricotta cheese, a tablespoon of sauce and another sprinkling of mozzarella. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until they are golden on top and bubbly.

When I got to the last 4, I ran out of ricotta cheese. Instead of ricotta, I layered gyoza, meat sauce, pepperoni slice, mozzarella, gyoza, meat sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella. These were a touch smaller than the other ones but still just as tasty! Now for the pictures.

In the beginning…

First layer, complete:

Baked!

Close up!

366: Picture 73

Plated:

I can’t wait to make some more of these to freeze for lunches. It is such a great idea that can be applied to a bunch of different recipes! I might actually do this with shepherd’s pie for tomorrow night’s dinner. Hope you enjoy!

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in General Food, Meals!

 

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A nice dinner

My sister reminded me last night that I haven’t written a blog post since October so I thought I would throw one up tonight after I finished making dinner. I even have pictures! 😀

I decided that since it was a beautiful day out today, I would open all the windows in the house and clean. Once I got started, I ended up wanting to cook a nice dinner as well. The spring air makes me so happy 😀 I made cheeseburgers with animal sauce, caramelized onions, pretzel rolls, and salt and vinegar chips. I was intending to grill the burgers and potatoes but the grill ran out of propane after the potatoes were done. I ended up making those in a cast iron skillet instead.

I didn’t really change the recipes that I used for each thing so there aren’t too many comments to make.

Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Salt and Vinegar Grilled Potato “Chips”

I saw Bobby Flay make these on a commercial for his grilling show the other day. They were pretty delicious. I made them with Golden Potatoes that were pretty small but I still cut them in coins before I put them on the grill. Pre-boiling them really does make them cook so much faster!

Ingredients
6 golden potatoes, scrubbed
Canola oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Red Wine vinegar (Malt would have been better)
Kosher salt

Heat the grill to medium.
Place potatoes in a pot of cold water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and cook for 10 minutes once it starts boiling. Drain, let cool more than I did and slice into 1/4-inch slices.

Toss the potato pieces in a little oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Place them on the grill until they are golden brown and cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes.
Take the slices off the grill and move them to a platter in an even layer and immediately drizzle with the vinegar and season with salt.

Pretzel Rolls I have made quite a few times and every time, they are amazing. This time was no exception. They don’t have a lot of ingredients and they are pretty easy. I use my mixer so my recipe varies a bit from what the original says to do. I got the recipe from Serious Eats, along with the ones for the animal style sauce AND the caramelized onions. I highly recommend Serious Eats whenever I can.

Pretzel Rolls

Ingredients
2 3/4 – 3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup and 1 tablespoon hot water
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cornmeal

Place the bread flour, instant yeast, kosher salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix with the beater until it is well combined. Swap to the dough hook and stream the water in while the mixer is on low speed. Once all the water is mixed in, set the mixer on 3-4 and let it mix for a few minutes until the dough forms a ball. Put the dough ball into a greased bowl and let it double in size (30 minutes or more).

Once doubled in size, punch the dough down and separate it into 8 equal pieces (I ended up with 7 this time) and form each piece into a ball. Slash the tops with an X and let them rise for another 30 minutes.

During this time, fill a stock pot with water and let it come to a boil. Heat the oven to 375F. Once it starts to boil add the baking soda and sugar to the water. Do it slowly because the baking soda will make the water froth! Once 30 minutes are up, boil the pretzels for 30 seconds on each side. Place them on a baking sheet that has been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle the rolls with Kosher salt while they are still wet from their bath. (The original recipe says to use egg whites but I didn’t want to waste an egg)

Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown and look like pretzels!

Next up, the caramelized onions! These are part of the Serious Eats spread on how to make an In-n-Out burger at home. I followed the directions for the onions and also for the animal sauce.
Serious Eats In-n-Out Burger Recipe

Ingredients
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

To make the onions:
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt to skillet. Reduce heat to medium low, and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally until onions are well browned, about 15 minutes. Once onions begin to sizzle heavily and appear dry, add 1 tablespoon water to skillet and stir. Continue cooking until water evaporates and onions start sizzling again. Repeat process, adding 1 tablespoon of water with each iteration until onions are meltingly soft and dark brown, about 3 times total. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

To make the sauce:
Put the mayo, ketchup, relish, sugar and vinegar in a bowl and mix until it is combined.

Finally, I made a tomato mozzarella salad with basil, parsley, scallions and vinegar/oil for the dressing. It is something I make in the summer all the time so I thought it would go well with this dinner. This is the recipe I followed originally for it. Tomato Mozzarella Salad is based on a caprese salad. I use a pint of regular red grape tomatoes. Unfortunately, it is not the season for tomatoes so these were a little bit too tart.

The last photo is the best, I think! Everything all finished and ready to eat 😀

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Meals!

 

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