Thursday, March 27, 2014

i'm baaaack: s'mores cupcakes

Well, it's almost been a year since my last post, which is a little embarrassing.  I got pregnant shortly after my last post, and wasn't really interested in eating, so not much cooking happened.  Then we moved, I got a job, and in the whirlwind of getting ready for baby and seeing more family since we're back in Texas, this poor bloggity got neglected.  But I'm back and ready to document more delicious adventures in the kitchen!

To celebrate being back in the ole' blogisphere, I bring you:

S'mores Cupcakes
For the graham cracker crust:
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the cake:
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sour cream
For the frosting:
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to blend.  Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾-full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Let cool in the pan about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl set over a pan of a few inches of simmering water. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined.  Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Brown with a kitchen torch (or I used the oven broiler on low and watched carefully so they didn't burn!)

Source: Annie's Eats

And... since you're still reading after my 10 month hiatus, I give you:
Baby Ruby :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

honeydew cucumber cooler

You know that feeling you have when you've been out of town - the one where you've been eating out constantly and all you want are some vegetables and home cooked meals?  Well, that's how I felt after my trip to Seattle.  So when I saw this recipe in my new Real Simple magazine, I knew it was calling my name.

I have officially become an Indiana wimp when it comes to heat - the high was 85 and I went to the pool, drank about 80 gallons of water, and then decided today was the day for this refreshing drink.  It totally hit the spot.  I drank it on the patio with a plate of the broccoli pesto pasta I posted yesterday , and it was wonderfully green and delicious.  Next time I may do half sparkling water in the glass to cut the sweetness a little and add some fizz.

Honeydew Cucumber Cooler
1 honeydew melon, peeled and chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced, divided
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Puree melon, half of cucumber, and mint leaves in a blender until smooth.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large pitcher.  Add lime juice and remaining half of cucumber slices.  Stir well, then serce over ice, garnished with lime slices, if desired.

Source: Real Simple magazine, July 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

broccoli pesto pasta

Lane has been working in Seattle for the past 6 weeks, and is finally coming home tomorrow!  I haven't felt like cooking for one while he was gone, so I've been living on eggs, Lean Cuisines and sandwiches. Boo.  My shopping cart seriously looked like this almost every time I went.

But now he's headed home, and I decided I'd make myself a special meal to commemorate my last night of bachelorette-hood: a vegetarian dish that I knew Lane wouldn't feel sad about missing. ;)

This broccoli pesto was absolutely delicious, and I'm so glad the recipe made enough to freeze for later.  I was definitely skeptical at first, but I love broccoli and pesto, so why not?  If you're looking for another way to use broccoli besides just a side, or a healthier pasta sauce alternative, try this!  I promise you won't be disappointed.

I used whole wheat spaghetti because that's what I had, but next time I'm definitely using farfalle or penne.  Something about those shorter noodles seems like it would work better.

Broccoli Pesto Pasta
1 lb. broccoli, chopped into florets
1 lb. pasta
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
½ cup greek yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Boil the broccoli florets for 3-4 minutes, until fork tender.  Remove the broccoli and place in the food processor or other bowl.  Add the pasta to the same water and cook according to package directions.  Drain, reserving about a cup of pasta water, then return the pot to the heat.

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat until the butter is melted.  Add the onion and salt and saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Season with pepper to taste.

Add the garlic and onion mixture to the food processor and pulse to combine.  Scrape down the sides as needed.  Add the greek yogurt and process until smooth.  If needed, gradually add a little pasta water at a time until the sauce is smooth and creamy.  Toss with the pasta and serve with parmesan.

Source: Annie's Eats

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

beef fajitas

Since we moved to Indiana almost 2 years ago, we haven't been to a single Mexican restaurant here.  (Don't worry, I make up for it on trips back to Texas!)  This is partly due to the fact that my husband is a blasphemous Mexican-food hater and partly because I just don't believe there could be good Mexican this far from the border. 

My assumption was (sadly) proven wrong a couple weeks ago when I went to a popular Mexican restaurant here with some friends.  In an effort to fix my unsatisfied craving for good fajitas, I tried this recipe and OH WOW.  This is what fajitas should taste like.  Marinate them all day for maximum deliciousness, or do like the original author suggests and freeze the steak in the marinade for fajita emergencies.  Bookmark this recipe, folks.  You don't want to lose it.

Beef Fajitas
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 shot tequila (optional)
Juice and zest from 1 orange
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Large handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Place the steak in a large freezer bag or a shallow dish.  Whisk remaining ingredients together and pour over steak.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.  Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.  Heat a grill (or grill pan, in my case) to medium high heat, and grill the stake for 5-6 minutes per side. 

Remove from heat and tent with foil, letting the meat rest for 15 minutes.  Slice against the grain and serve with grilled onions, peppers, queso, guacamole, sour cream and tortillas.  Or just some sliced avocado sprinkled with salt, if you're me.  Enjoy!

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

chicken and bok choy "salad"

Oh boy, have you seen this video?  That has definitely been me for the past 5-ish days.  I spent so much time soaking up the beautiful weather yesterday that I got sunburned. And celebrated.  We've been rollerblading daily, and going to the dog park as often as I can handle cleaning my car (and dog) afterwards.  I am putting away the heavy sweaters and coats tonight, and then I'll celebrate again.

I love trying new recipes and it is not unusual for all of our dinners for the week to be completely new.  I must be really picky, because I rarely think something is worth repeating!  This recipe, however, is different.  I loved it, and ate it for lunch and dinner for days until it was all gone.  We ate it warm, but according to many, it's just as delicious cold.  Apparently that's why it's called a salad, but I'm not hip enough to understand. ;)

Yes, I realize it is quite a long ingredient list - once you've got all that assembled, you can put it together pretty fast, and it's worth it!  And if you're wondering if I have been making anything besides Asian food these days, you'll probably be glad to know that now I'm on a Mexican kick, so prepare for some can't-be-found-in-Indiana goodness coming your way soon.

Chicken and Bok Choy "Salad" with Orange Sesame Dressing
For the "salad"-
4 cups brown rice, cooked
1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 bok choy, rinsed, trimmed, and thinly sliced (I watched these videos to show me how) 
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds (I actually forgot these and it was still good!)
For the dressing-
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup canola oil

To make the salad, combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously to combine.  Add salt and pepper to your preferences.  Add the dressing to the bowl with the salad a little at a time, tossing gently to coat.  You may not use all of the dressing - I had about 25% left over.  This kept in the refrigerator for about 3 days in an airtight container.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from A Cozy Kitchen


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

lemon loaf cake

Springtime is here! The high today is 46, which is far from balmy... but when it's sunny and I can see the 60's in the 10 day forecast, I'm a happy camper.  Charlie the dog and I celebrated some warmer temps with an experiment in rollerblading.  Let's just say that we put on a show for my neighbors. One that ended with me laying flat on the sidewalk.  Twice.  It was the most fun he's ever had on a leash, but I'm terrified I won't live through round two.

Lane and I celebrated Easter with a church service, our favorite restaurant in Indy, and this lemon cake. Oh, and we did our taxes, but that wasn't so much of a celebration. ;-) If you're in the mood for a fresh, sweet, and tangy dessert, put this cake on your short list.  I'm not sure if I should admit this, but it lasted only a little more than 36 hours at our house.  Take that as a good sign.
Lemon Loaf Cake
For the lemon cake- 
3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/8 cup grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
For the lemon syrup-
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 
1/3 cup sugar 
For the lemon glaze-
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter the sides and bottom of a standard 9-inch loaf pans. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Mix together the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice on low speed, using either a stand or hand mixer. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the melted butter. Add the sour cream and vanilla and continue mixing until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold it in.  Don't overmix here!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes, rotate the pan, reduce oven temperature to 325º and continue baking an additional 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then continue to cook about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the loaf from the pan and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaf. Brush with the lemon syrup, allow to soak in and brush again. Allow the cake to cool completely (at least 30 minutes).  I didn't use all the simple syrup here, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt!

When the loaf is cool, prepare the lemon glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. The glaze should be thick but pourable. Add more lemon juice if needed to reach desired consistency. Pour glaze over the top of loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the cake sit for about 15 minutes, or until the glaze hardens, before serving.  

Source:  Cook Like a Champion

Friday, March 29, 2013

citrusy chicken stir fry

Lane and I went to Tennesee a couple weeks ago to meet my family at my grandma's house for her 86th birthday.  It was a great long weekend filled with good ol' southern cookin'.  After the roadtrip home and my first time at Taco Bell since college (gag), we were desperate for some vegetables.  This totally hit the spot, apparently, since we fought over the leftovers and I woke up to a text from my night-shifter husband requesting a repeat soon.  Done.

I totally recommend using fresh, but frozen broccoli will work in a pinch. We've tried it both ways and fresh wins, no question.
Citrusy Chicken Stir Fry 
2/3 cup orange juice
Juice and grated rind of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons juice)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons corn starch
3 cups broccoli florets 
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small or medium red onion, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices

In a large skillet, whisk together the sauce - first 6 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a heat-safe bowl. I pour it right back in the glass measuring cup I used.  Rinse out the skillet and wipe it dry.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with corn starch.

Add about 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan to coat it. Add the seasoned chicken and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the veggies and stir occasionally until the broccoli are tender-crisp.  Add the sauce, a few tablespoons at a time, allowing the sauce to bubble up after each addition. Serve immediately over hot rice.  Top with toasted sesame seeds if desired.

Source: Our Best Bites