September 14, 2010

Ode to Summer . . .

Summer to me means warm weather, cool homemade lemonade, and SMORES! What better way to celebrate a great summer than making Smores cupcakes. This was my first attempt at this recipe and they are sinfully good! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Cupcakes:

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Dark Chocolate Cocoa powder or I prefer Sharffen Berger's
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers

Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with paper baking cups. 
  • 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)
  • Sprinkle crushed graham cracker into the bottom of each of the lined muffin cups
  • Fill cups 2/3 full with batter
  • Bake 22 to 25 minutes
  • Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
Makes 30 cupcakes

Marshmallow Buttercream Icing:
1 cup butter, softened
1 7-oz jar Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • In a large bowl, combine butter and Marshmallow Fluff. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Reduce speed and slowly add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until soft and fluffy.
Notes:
Garnish cupcakes with broken pieces of graham cracker and bite size chocolate pieces

Happy Baking!

Lemon Raspberry Surprise

Lemon has always been on my top 5 favorite flavors. I think I get that from my Mom. She got me started on my love of everything lemon. It doesn't matter if it's pie, cake, cookies, you name it if it's lemon I love it. So I thought I would share a recipe I recently tried that was a HUGE hit with my co-workers and friends.

Lemon Cupcakes:
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. 
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lemon peel and vanilla; mix well.
  • Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick).
  • Fill paper-lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Raspberry Puree:
1 – 12 oz bags of frozen raspberries
½ cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
·         Thaw the raspberries in large fine meshed strainer suspended over a large bowl. (This may take a while)
·         Once berries have completely thawed, force the juice from the berries by gently pressing the berries with the back of a large spoon. All that should remain in the strainer is the raspberry seeds.
·         Throw away the seeds. Stir in the lemon juice and sugar to the remaining raspberry pulp. (For extra flavor you may add a little raspberry liquor)
Store covered in the refrigerator up to a week, or freeze up to a year.

Makes approximately 1 3/4 cups

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tbs lemon juice
4 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 to 10 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, lemon rind, and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy
  • Add confectioners' sugar in 2 additions. Beat until creamy
  • Add more icing sugar or juice as needed for easy spreading or piping

 Assembly:
  • Once your cupcakes are completely cooled scoop a small section from the center of the cupcake. If you have a cupcake corer - great - if not you can use an apple corer, melon baller, or just a spoon
  • Fill hollowed out portion of your cupcake with raspberry puree. Be sure not to over fill or this will make icing your cupcakes difficult and messy
  • Spread or pipe your desired amount of lemon cream cheese icing onto the cupcake
  • If available, garnish with a fresh raspberry and/or sugared lemon peel
Happy Baking!

September 7, 2010

Comfort Food 101

One of my favorite comfort foods is chicken and dumplings. I don't know why but somehow I always feel better about the world after a nice warm bowl of chicken and dumplings. So since we are getting ready to start Fall I thought I would share an easy and delicious recipe.

Quick Chicken and Dumplings
4 cups water
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (I just buy one of those great pre-made roast chickens from the store)
2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
4 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1 tsp. pepper
1 (7.5 oz.) can refrigerated biscuits (this depends on what you like - I personally prefer to use Annie's brand frozen pre-made dumplings OR spaetzle - homemade German noodles)
  1. Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often.
  2. Separate biscuits in half, forming rounds; cut each round in half. Drop biscuit pieces, 1 at a time, into boiling mixture; stir gently. Or if using frozen Annie's dumplings simply break into small pieces and add to mixture. 
  3. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes.
Notes:
If you would like to make the recipe lighter just use reduced sodium, reduced fat cream of chicken soup
If you would like to make this dish with spaetzle please use the following recipe:

Spaetzle
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 pinch of salt
water or milk to moisten - generally about 2 tbs. ( I prefer milk)
  1. Lightly whisk the egg and salt in a bowl.
  2. Slowly add flour and stir after each addition.
  3. Add water or milk and mix in.
  4. The batter should be gooey but not runny. If you add too much liquid simply add a little more flour to tighten up the mixture a bit.
  5. You now should have a "dough".
  6. Add dough to your chicken and dumpling mixture by placing  a bit of your dough on a cutting board (wood works best) and taking a large knife and cutting small pieces of dough off into the boiling mixture.
  7. Continue step 6 until you have used all of your dough and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

August 28, 2010

New Twist on an Old Favorite

Growing up Beef Stroganoff was my favorite. My mom always made it for me for my birthday or special occasions. Although I loved it and still do it always felt heavy and I would be uncomfortably stuffed after eating. So recently when I was craving my favorite comfort food I decided I wanted to try a different twist on it to see if I could make it a little lighter. What follows is the recipe I came up with.

Turkey Stroganoff

1 lb. ground turkey or ground chicken if you prefer
1 small onion diced
2 tbs margarine or butter (low fat versions are better)
1 10 3/4 oz can of your favorite cream soup (chicken or mushroom)
8 to 12 oz low fat or no fat sour cream
2 to 4 tbs milk (depending on how thin or thick you like your sauce)
1 pkg wide egg or homestyle noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Put the water on to boil for your noodles according to the directions on the package.
  2. Melt butter/margarine and add onion. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes just log enough to soften.
  3. Add turkey and cook thoroughly on medium until there is no longer any pink.
  4. Once the turkey is completely cooked through lower the heat and add the soup. Stir well to combine.
  5. Stir in sour cream starting with just 8 oz. and 2 tbs of milk. If you prefer your sauce a little thinner add remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe serves 6

Enjoy!

August 27, 2010

Cupcakes in a Jar?


For those of you who don't have the time to make a homemade treat there is this awesome company called Bangerang Bake Shop. You can find them at their website: http://bangerangbakeshop.mybisi.com/. These cupcakes are so delicious.
I have personally tried the Big Salty Carmella Fella. It's a rich dark chocolate cake layered with Dulce de Leche and topped with Dulce de Leche buttercream frosting and Fleur de Sel (french sea salt). I am a huge fan of chocolate covered sea salt caramels so this was a must try. It did not disappoint.

The other cupcake I have tried from Bangerang is the Vanilla Dream. I am one of those weird people that prefers a vanilla flavor to a chocolate. This cupcake had the best of both worlds. It's a vanilla bean cake made with vanilla sugar and real vanilla beans. Then they layer all this vanilla deliciousness with a rich dark chocolate buttercream made with Scharffen Berger chocolate.

You have to try these cupcakes! The best part is you can order online and have them delivered directly to you or the friend or family member of your choice. :)

August 26, 2010

For My Friend Brendan

Recently I signed up to do a cupcake fund raiser for a dear friend at work so I had been trying recipes out on my co-workers. The day I brought in the Vegan Coconut Lime cupcakes I had many brave souls timidly try them and then walk away smiling and saying yum all the way back to their desks. One particular co-worker and fellow foodie friend Brendan even came back and said he liked them better than "regular" cupcakes and would love to see a vegan version of Carrot Cake. Well, here you go Brendan! Enjoy!

For cupcakes:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup plain or vanilla soy yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup finely grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins (golden raisins work nicely)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

  1. In medium bowl, mix together sugar, vegetable oil, yogurt and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices - mix until smooth.
  2. Fold in carrots, walnuts and raisins.
  3. Spray your cupcake liners with non-stick baking spray.
  4. Fill the liners 2/3 full and bake for 26 to 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Let cool completely before icing.
For vegan cream cheese icing:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, softened
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (such as Toffuti), softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
  1. Cream together margarine and cream cheese just until combined.
  2. Use handheld mixer to whip while adding confectioners sugar in 1/2 cup incriments. Mix until smooth and creamy.
  3. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Tightly cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Note: You may use additional chopped walnuts and/or raisins to garnish.

Recipe makes 12 cupcakes

Happy baking!

August 25, 2010

Cupcake Liners, Toppers, and Glitter Oh My!

One of the most awesome places on the web to find everything you could possibly need for cupcakes is Layer Cake Shop Baking Supply. They can be found at http://www.layercakeshop.com/. They have everything from fun and funky cupcake liners to flavored oils and bakery boxes. I love their cupcake liners especially the polka dot and gingham. Their flavored oils come in practically every flavor imaginable. Cotton candy or butterscotch anyone? How about champagne or cheesecake? They have sugars in every color of the rainbow and then some. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Check them out!