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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spinach, Pear, Pecan, and Cranberry Pinwheels

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If you Pinterest, this is a recipe you'll want to pin. Google reader users, star this. Email subscribers, don't delete this email!
I hate to be bossy but trust me on this one! These are my new favorite finger food. They're great little appetizers and I can totally see us bringing these on picnics in the summer. Okay, confession: we don't "picnic" often, but I think we need to start. We have an adorable picnic basket, given to us as a wedding gift, and now we have the perfect food to take on our picnics! I digress...
When I served these, I had at least ten different people approach me to ask what exactly was in them or how I made them. Their enthusiasm says it all--these babies are good! I'm always looking for party foods that can be served cold and are made ahead of time, and this meets both of those qualifications. Don't try to make these and immediately slice them, they won't hold together as well. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before cutting and they'll hold together nicely, as you see in the photos.

Enjoy! And let me know if you take them on a picnic ;)

One Year Ago: NO recipe--Happy Leap Year Day! :)

Spinach, Pear, Pecan, and Cranberry Pinwheels
adapted from Veggies by Season

-1 package pesto-flavored tortillas (6 ct)
-5-8 oz. light cream cheese, softened (depends on how much cream cheese you like on there)
-2 pears, diced small
-1 oz. butter
-pecans, chopped
-2 cups spinach, chopped into small pieces
-dried cranberries

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced pears and saute until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. To assemble pinwheels, spread a layer of cream cheese on each tortilla. Sprinkle diced pears, pecans, dried cranberries, and spinach over the top of the tortilla.
3. Roll up each tortilla tightly and place in a container or a large ziploc bag, seam side down. Allow to sit for at least 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, cut the edges off of each tortilla before slicing off individual pieces.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quinoa Chowder with Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Feta, and Scallions

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Chobani Giveaway Winner announced at the very end of this post!)

I felt so healthy eating this soup that I saw on Joanne's blog that I felt no shame eating extra dessert that evening! This stew was packed full of nutrients from the spinach, sweet potatoes, and quinoa and a hefty sprinkling of salty feta made for a comforting dinner a few weeks ago.

The week I made this, Ryan was on business travel so I ate it a few days in a row (and consequently ate extra dessert a few days in a row ;)). Reheating soup is one of my favorite easy dinners. While we're still waiting on Spring I urge you to make a few soups to eat throughout the week. If you don't like the idea of eating the same meal multiple days in the row, store individual servings in the freezer to thaw and reheat whenever you need a quick lunch or dinner. The busier we get, the better I get at planning ahead...a little extra work on the weekends is always worth it!

If you decide to give this chowder a try (which you should!), I recommend using chicken or vegetable broth instead of water (or a combination). Cooking the quinoa in the water and using it in the soup was a little blander than I would have preferred. I think some low-sodium broth would've provided the extra boost of flavor that it needed. All in all, a wonderfully healthy meal that I had no problem dining on for a few days!
One Year Ago: Chocolate Chip Reese's Pieces Cookies

Quinoa Chowder with Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Feta, and Scallions
from Eats Well With Others

-3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
-1 tbsp olive oil
-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
-1 tsp ground cumin
-salt & freshly ground pepper
-1/2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
-1 bunch scallions, including an inch of greens, thinly sliced into rounds
-6 cups baby spinach
-1/4 lb feta cheese, crumbled
-1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1. Put the quinoa and 2 quarts of salted water into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. While it's cooking, dice the vegetables. Drain the pot, saving the liquid. Measure the liquid and add water to make 6 cups.
2. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper. Cook for 30 seconds before adding the cumin, 1 tsp salt, and the sweet potatoes. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the quinoa water and half of the scallions. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
3. Add the quinoa, spinach, and remaining scallions. Simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the feta and cilantro. Season with salt and black pepper.

You guys REALLY like your Chobani, as evidenced by the number of comments I got on last Thursday's post. I am so glad I asked the question I did...I loved hearing what everyone was looking forward to for the weekend. I seriously smiled as I read through the comments...people getting ready to have a baby, people celebrating birthdays, people spilling the news about their pregnancy, people pumped to just lay low...so many fun things! I should start asking that question every weekend, it made me so much more excited for my own weekend! 

As for the winner of a case of new Chobani flavors, the lucky one (picked via random number generator) is ChiTown Girl! Send me an email at natalie.mclaury@gmail.com with your address and Chobani will get the yogurt on its way! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Eat and Repeat: Bacon and Egg Risotto

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You may remember that my personal challenge for this year is to visit 6 restaurants on the "Best New Restaurants in St. Louis" list and, on the months I don't visit a restaurant, attempt to recreate something off of the menu. We're calling it 2012 Eat and Repeat. I  oohed and aahed over our January visit to Salt and had no idea which of the fabulous dishes we'd tried I'd end up recreating. Would it be the chocolate brulee? The butternut squash soup? The pig's tongue? Umm no, definitely not the pig's tongue.
In the end, it was the bacon and egg risotto. I've had this dish twice at Salt now and each time was wowed by how such a simple dish could leave me with such a memory. I blame it on the drippy egg yolk, which was the perfect dressing for the creamy risotto with specks of bacon.
I used my basic skills about risotto making and checked out a few recipes online before coming up with this version. I have no insight into Salt's recipe, but this captured many of the same elements: cheesy risotto, salty bacon, and of course the drippy yolk! Mine looks a little reddish in the pictures, I think because I ran out of chicken broth and had to use some beef broth (use all chicken broth as listed in the recipe below). This is a heavy dish--if serving as a side, you can probably feed 4-6 mouths. As a main, more like 2-3, depending on how hungry you are. If you're worried about eating uncooked egg yolks, buy pasteurized eggs!
Looking for other risotto dishes? Try Spring Green Risotto or Creamy Vegetable & Edamame Risotto.

One Year Ago: Split Pea Soup (similar to the Split Pea and Barley soup I just posted, but with bacon!)
Two Years Ago: White Chicken Chili

Bacon and Egg Risotto

-5 cups chicken broth
-1 1/4 cup arborio rice
-5 slices bacon, diced
-1 cup onion, diced
-1 tsp crushed garlic (I used garlic paste from Trader Joe's)
-1 tbsp butter
-1/4 cup green onions, chopped
-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
-salt & pepper, to taste
-3 or 4 egg yolks

1. In a large saucepan, heat chicken broth until simmering. In a second saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent (4-5 minutes).
2. Add diced bacon to the onion skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is browned and beginning to crisp. Add garlic and rice and stir for a few minutes to toast the rice.
3. One half cup at a time, add the warmed chicken broth. Stir frequently (you don't need to stir continuously though) until each half cup of broth is absorbed. Repeat until all broth has been added to the risotto and it begins to thicken.
4. Stir in white wine, cheese, and green onions. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
5. Immediately divide risotto amongst bowls and top with an egg yolk. Carefully break the yolk and mix it in with the risotto.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

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Cookies and brownies are fine dessert options, but certain occasions call for cake. Celebrations call for cake. A few weeks ago, friends John and Kelly had their son Joshua baptized at our church. It was already my week to bring treats for everyone to enjoy after the service and when I heard Joshua's baptism was that Sunday, I knew a cake was in order.
Although I was tempted to once again make the dark chocolate cake with hot chocolate buttercream, I decided to branch out and go for a yellow cake this time. I'm starting to love making layer cakes--they look so regal and impressive standing tall on a cake plate, perfect for celebrations! I've realized baking cakes from scratch really isn't much more difficult than using a boxed mix and it is always worth the extra effort!
If I'm going to continue making layer cakes, I need to start leveling the layers before assembling the cake. I've had to employ some creative frosting techniques and I'm lucky no cakes have toppled yet ;) I will say that working with frozen cake layers is a lifesaver--I can't imagine trying to frost a warm cake (I don't recommend it...).
Overall this was a solid yellow cake recipe. You can't beat the classic combination of yellow cake and chocolate frosting! The frosting was my favorite part and was incredibly easy to put together--I love when recipes call for melted butter (no waiting for it to soften!).
So readers, I want your thoughts on cake...what occasions do you think call for cake?

Two Years Ago: Schulz's Guacamole Salad

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting
cake from Annie's Eats, frosting from Hershey's

for the cake-
-2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
-1 1/2 cups cake flour
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 3/4 cups sugar
-4 large eggs
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/4 cups milk (I used 2%)

for the frosting-
-1 stick butter, melted
-2/3 cup cocoa
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/3 cup milk
-3 cups confectioners' sugar

1. To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour the prepared pans, tapping out the excess. Set aside.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend and set aside.
3. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the milk. Beat just until incorporated.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the 2 prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool on wire racks for 20 minutes before inverting the cakes onto the racks and peeling off the parchment. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting (I stuck the layers in the freezer for 30 minutes or so to make it easier to frost).
5. To make the frosting, combine the cocoa and the melted butter. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar and milk, alternating. Add a bit of extra milk if frosting is not thin enough.
6. To assemble the cake, place one of the layers on a serving platter. Top with frosting and spread to cover evenly. Top with the second layer and use remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as desired. Cover and store at room temperature.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Buffalo Wing Hummus

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Love buffalo wings but don't want to make a messy batch in your kitchen? Love buffalo wings but your waistline doesn't? Love buffalo wings and need a daily fix? This hummus is for you!

I'm not a die-hard buffalo wing lover, but I do appreciate the flavor. Recently I picked up a few cans of garbanzo beans with the intention of making hummus. You see, I bring my lunch to work nearly every day. I really try to pack healthy lunches because when I'm at work, I have no choice but to eat the serving of vegetables or piece of fruit. By getting some of these nutrients in during the day, I don't feel guilty about eating a cookie (or three) later that evening.
Lately I felt like my lunches were getting boring and I needed a little extra motivation to eat them every day, which is where the hummus came in. From Food Network Magazine, this is a much healthier way to get that buffalo fix. Though this was best with carrots and celery, I bet it'd be really good with crackers or as a sandwich spread as well. If serving it at a party, I'd probably sprinkle some blue cheese on top...I found myself wishing I had some last time!

Looking for that buffalo wing flavor elsewhere? Try any of these:

Buffalo Wing Hummus
slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine

-1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed (1/4 cup liquid reserved)
-2 cloves garlic
-1/8 cup tahini (you can omit if you don't have, though this is what gives hummus its true taste/texture)
-1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
-3/4 tsp paprika
-1 tbsp barbecue sauce
-2 tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank's buffalo sauce)
-1/2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
-3/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Add the chickpeas, chickpea liquid, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth and creamy.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reese's Fudge Pie

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As the oldest of four, I have the tendency to "mother" my younger siblings. There's no denying it, though I still cringe each time they mockingly call me mom. I'm sure once I have my own children, I'll focus my mothering tendencies on them, but until then Julia, Quinn, and Renatta are going to have to put up with it! ;)
Of course, my mothering tendencies have their perks. Now that Julia and I live away from our parents, there is no mom to make us our birthday dinner and dessert of choice. Instead, that task falls to each other...one we've managed quite well the past few years! It's gone both ways...two years ago Julia made my all-time favorite ice cream cake (which deserves a blog post! I'll make it sometime!) and last year she created the ultimate dirt cake (oreo pudding) topped with gummy worms. Never mind that I'm 25 and requesting dirt cake...
When it comes to Julia, she's all about two things: peanut butter and chocolate. Two years ago, it was a heavenly chocolate peanut butter torte. Last year, I tackled my first layer cake and made the chocolate peanut butter cake (we're STILL talking about that frosting!).
This year, I knew I needed an equally decadent chocolate peanut butter concoction and I certainly found it with this Reese's Fudge Pie. Graham cracker crust, a thick layer of chocolate fudge, a cream cheese peanut butter topping, and Reese's peanut butter cups throughout made for one rich dessert!
Break out the glasses of milk for this one--this dessert is not for the faint of heart! Chocolate peanut butter lovers will go crazy for this pie which features both flavors equally prominently.
What's your favorite chocolate peanut butter dessert? It's never to soon to start thinking about Julia's next birthday...

One Year Ago: Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Two Years Ago: Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

Reese's Fudge Pie
from Cookies and Cups

for the crust-
-9 whole graham crackers, crushed
-1/3 cup melted butter
-1/3 cup sugar

for the fudge-
-1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
-3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (original used a combo of milk choc and semi-sweet)
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 (8 oz) bag Reese's minis (reserve a few for the topping)

for the mousse-
-1 cup peanut butter
-1 cup powdered sugar
-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat)
-1 1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed

1. To make the crust, mix all ingredients together and press into a 10-inch springform pan. Bake at 350F for 8 minutes and set aside to cool.
2. To make the fudge, mix all ingredients together over medium low. Stir until smooth and completely melted. Pour fudge over crust, spreading evenly. Press Reese's minis into the fudge (reserve about 10-12 for the topping).
3. To make the mousse, mix the peanut butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a bowl, beating with a mixer until combined and smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over the top of the pie.
4. Coarsely chop remaining Reese's minis and sprinkle over the pie. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before cutting into slices and serving.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Almond & Coconut Macaroon Granola (and a Chobani Giveaway!)

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It's no secret that Chobani is my all-time favorite yogurt. I first fell in love with Greek yogurt on a vacation to London. Ryan and I would pop into a grocery store each morning and buy full fat Greek yogurts and breakfast pastries. The pastries were good, but it was the yogurt that we couldn't get enough of. I don't know what brand we were buying overseas, but here in the United States, Chobani is our go-to. Occasionally we'll try other brands and they are admittedly good--you can't beat the thick texture or extra protein in any Greek yogurt, but none of them compare to Chobani.

Recently Chobani came out with three new flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Blood Orange, and Passion Fruit. When they offered to send me a case of the new flavors--and give one of my readers a chance to sample them as well--I was so excited, literally running to the front door every day after work to see if it had arrived yet.
Because my favorite way to eat yogurt is with granola, I decided to make some in anticipation of my special package. My favorite granola ever is still this one, but this almond and coconut version was the perfect match for the Chobani. The granola was only lightly sweet, a good match for the fruity flavored yogurts. Ryan and I had no problem devouring the Chobani. I have a hard time picking a favorite...I used to love pomegranate and lemon the best, but each of these new flavors are noteworthy as well. Bottom line is, you can't go wrong with Chobani...especially when paired with homemade granola! (Note--after trying all three, Ryan said blood orange was his overall favorite, he thought the seeds in the passion fruit were kind of weird, and he thought the apple cinnamon was the best match for the granola. I agreed with him, except I love the seeds in the passion fruit, as well as how thick the 2% fat version was! Ultimately, each is good in its own right!)
As I mentioned above, Chobani is giving one of my (United States) readers a chance to try the new flavors as well. Leave a comment on this post telling me something you're looking forward to this weekend (because YAY, it's almost the weekend!) and I'll announce the winner in Tuesday's post. Leave your comment by 9:00 pm Central on Monday for your chance to win!

One Year Ago: Spicy Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Stew (in the crockpot)

Almond & Coconut Macaroon Granola
slightly adapted from Healthy Food for Living

-2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
-1 cup puffed wheat cereal
-1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-2 tbsp coconut butter, melted
-1/4 cup + 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp pure almond extract
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 cup sliced almonds
-1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large place, place the oats and puffed wheat cereal. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, melted coconut butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Whisk until smooth before pouring over the oats and cereal. Stir until evenly coated. Add coconut and almonds and stir to combine.
4. Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges of the granola are beginning to brown. Remove from oven, stir, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mushroom, Spinach, and Scallion Tart with Goat Cheese

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Any time I've ever read anything about phyllo dough--whether in a magazine, a cookbook, or another blog, it always mentions how difficult it is to work with. I've read about how easily it tears, how crucial it is to cover the pieces you aren't using, and how temperamental it is in general. Do you blame me for avoiding it?!
Often times when my mom pays a visit, she comes bearing food gifts, usually things like leftover quinoa that won't be good by the time she's back in town (so I use it for cookies!) or, most recently, half a package of phyllo dough. Because the thought of wasting food makes me cringe, I knew it was time to conquer phyllo.
One night after work I got to work. Not sure what to expect, I probably looked like the Tasmanian devil ripping around my kitchen...so paranoid was I that my dough would immediately dry out. As it turned out, the phyllo wasn't nearly as finicky as I'd anticipated. My first piece tore as I placed it in my baking dish, but the rest of the process went quite smoothly.
The finished product was a pleasant surprise. The flavors reminded me a bit of this egg dish. My only lesson for next time is MORE oil/butter on each layer--mine was flaky but could've been even flakier! This would be lovely as a breakfast, brunch, or lunch dish. If you're not up for working with phyllo, I think this would work just as well with a store bought pie crust pressed into a pie dish (you'd likely have enough filling for almost 2 pies!).

One Year Ago: Southern Banana Pudding (WHY haven't I made this again?!)
Two Years Ago: Pesto Roasted Vegetables

Mushroom, Spinach, and Scallion Tart with Goat Cheese

-1 lb mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/2-inch thick (called for a mixture, I used all button)
-5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
-1 tsp kosher salt
-12 scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, washed & shaken dry
-3 1/2 cups (4 oz) flat leaf spinach, stemmed, washed, and shaken dry
-10 sheets phyllo dough (14 x 9 inch)
-4 oz fresh goat cheese
-3 large eggs
-1/3 cup milk (I used half and half)
-3 tbsp chopped mixed fresh herbs (I omitted, none on hand)

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss mushrooms with 2 tbsp olive oil and 3/4 tsp salt. Place on lined baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Add scallions and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Move mushrooms and scallions to one side of pan. Add spinach to empty side and roast until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool briefly and then squeeze spinach dry.
2. Brush an 11 x 7 inch pan (or a 10-inch round pan) lightly with some of the remaining olive oil. Working with one piece of phyllo dough at a time (keep the rest covered under a damp towel), place sheet on tart pan, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Brush lightly with olive oil. Place a second sheet of phyllo into the pan and brush with oil. Continue with remaining sheets. Fold edges at top. (I placed most sheets in one direction and a few in the opposite direction--horizontally, 2 across--in order to best cover the entire pan.)
3. Form a double layer of aluminum foil into a rectangle and place on top of phyllo. Place pan on baking sheet and baking for 7 minutes, until edges are set. Remove foil and baking an additional 3 minutes, until golden all over. Remove from oven, leaving baking sheet.
4. Reduce oven to 375F. Puree goat cheese, eggs, milk, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt in a blender until smooth. Add herbs and pulse to combine. Spread roasted vegetables over crust and pour custard over the top.
5. Place tart on baking sheet in oven and bake until custard is set, 20-23 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brown Buttermilk Bread

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I don't really understand people who either A. Don't like sweets or B. Only have dessert once or twice a week. Believe me, I realize that daily dessert isn't necessarily the wisest choice. Every time I open a magazine or turn on the news I feel like I'm bombarded with reports of how harming sugar is. I get it, I get it...but my giving up dessert is like asking a fish to give up water.

Okay, maybe that's a bad analogy. Fish can't live without water, I can live without dessert...although I hope I never have to try!
Point is, forgoing dessert is a pretty foreign concept to me. Then I made this bread. Suddenly, I found myself ripping off extra chunks of this after dinner instead of rummaging through the contents of our candy drawer (true story, we have a candy drawer) or indulging in whatever baked good sat on our counter that week.

With 100% whole wheat flour and a hefty dose of wheat germ, it's fairly healthy! The outside crisped and browned perfectly while the inside stayed soft and moist. Even better, it's a quick bread! No worrying about if your yeast is fresh or waiting for it to rise. This literally comes together in minutes and after a quick half hour in the oven, you have warm, fresh bread ready to be eaten (whether with dinner, OR for dessert ;)).
Two Years Ago: Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup (about as easy as it gets!)

Brown Buttermilk Bread

-3 cups whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup cornmeal
-1/2 cup wheat germ
-1 3/4 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-2 tbsp honey
-1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl mix oil, honey, and buttemrilk. Add the dry ingredients and mix well (I did this in my stand mixer with the dough hook).
3. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Shape into two equal-sized balls. Cut an "X" across the top of each loaf. Place on a baking sheet or a pizza stone (if using a pizza stone, place in the oven to preheat while the oven is heating) and bake for 30 minutes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sour Cream Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

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Cupcakes are probably one of my least favorite desserts. Not in the sense that I'll (ever) turn one down. More like I just love ice cream and cookies more! These cupcakes, however, have started to change my mind about cupcakes (okay, these chocolate ones helped too!).
These baked up perfectly, with flat tops idea for decorating. The texture of the cake is hard to explain. Dense, but not heavy. Moist, but firm. The sweet buttercream was balanced by the tang of the sour cream in the cake.
I mentioned I was sent a bunch of candy to create recipes with, courtesy of Wrigley and Amy Atlas Events. My lemon ice cream cake hardly made a dent in my stash, so I set about to make something else. Although I originally intended to make more Valentine's Day-themed decorations, the shapes of the Skittles and Gummy Lifesavers that I decided to use screamed "Spring flowers" to me. It's no secret that I'm, quite literally, counting down the days to Spring, so I figured I'd prepare for the upcoming season with these cupcakes.
How fun are these? Admittedly, decorating like this is not my forte....so I was pretty pleased with how these turned out. To make "stems" I microwaved a Starburst for about 20 seconds and then rolled it with my hands into the desired shapes. I thought the various flower designs were pretty cute! Regardless of how you decorate these, don't miss out on the sour cream cupcakes!
Sour Cream Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
cupcakes from Food Network, frosting from my sugar cookie cupcakes
*yields about 16 cupcakes

for the cupcakes-
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-pinch of salt
-1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-3 eggs
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup milk
-3/4 cup sour cream (I used low-fat)

for the buttercream- (note-this made enough to spread a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake. If you plan to pipe it on, you'll need to at least double it!)
-1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tbsp heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line 16 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides if needed.
4. Add vanilla, milk, and sour cream, mixing to combine. Gradually add flour, mixing just until combined.
5. Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, rotating pan halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
6. To make the frosting, beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add vanilla and cream, beating until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.
7. Frost and decorate cooled cupcakes as desired.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Devil's Food Fudge Cookies

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This recipe is for you if:
-You don't keep sugar and flour on hand (what? who ARE you?)
-You're lacking baking skills, or so you think
-You need dessert but don't have a lot of time
-You love cookies that taste like brownies
-You stocked up on cake mix last time there was a sale and you don't know what to do with it all

Point is, these are easy (4 ingredients!), impossible to screw up, and taste like brownies in cookie form.

Win, win, and win. Now go make some!
One Year Ago: Fluffernutter Cookies (speaking of easy recipes, these take THREE ingredients!)
Two Years Ago: Chipotle Stuffed Chicken

Devil's Food Fudge Cookies

-1 Package Devil's Food cake mix
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup oil
-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix the cake mix, eggs, and oil in a large bowl until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Drop tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes (cookies will still look moist). Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.