Monday, August 8, 2011

Lemon Curd Filled Cupcakes with Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

I took a basic cupcake recipe and added some of my favorite things to it and this is what I came up with. I had leftover homemade lemon curd from a previous dessert, but you can find lemon curd next to the jams and jellies in most grocery stores.

Lemon Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 325 F.
1 C. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
Pinch of Salt
3/4 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. butter at room temperature
2 egg whites (best at room temperature)
Zest of one lemon
1/3 C. buttermilk
1/4 C. lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Add egg whites one at a time and beat until fluffy. Add lemon zest, beating well. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk. Add lemon juice. I used a mini muffin tin and filled each liner about 3/4 full. Bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely. With a small teaspoon scoop cake from the center of each cupcake. Pour Lemon curd in a plastic bag and cut off the corner tip. Squeeze about 1/2-1 t. of lemon curd in each cupcake.

Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

4 T. butter softened
4 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
Zest of one lemon
2 T. Blackberry puree
1/2 t. vanilla
1 C. confectioners sugar

In a medium bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until well combined and fluffy. Add lemon zest, vanilla and blackberry puree. Blend well. Add sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy. Top each cupcake with frosting making sure to cover the lemon curd.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ham and Apple Pitas with Honey Mustard

This recipe was inspired by a dish from one of my favorite restaurants. I know it sounds weird, but it's really good! Even my little girl likes it! Make sure you use the soft, Greek Pitas or Pita Wraps. They don't have a pocket. It's just flat bread.

1 Granny Smith Apple, cored and chopped
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 T. butter
8-12 slices of smoked ham lunch meat
4 oz. Cheddar cheese
4 flat bread pitas
Honey Mustard

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Lay two pitas flat on the pan and set aside. The pitas are kind of big, so you will have to cook the pitas two at a time.
In a non-stick pan, melt butter and add apples and cinnamon. Cook on medium low heat until the apples are slightly softened.
Spread 1/4 of apples on one side of each pita. Top with two or three slices of ham. On the other half of the pita put about 1 oz. of cheese or more if you like more. Place in the oven an cook open faced for about 2-3 minutes. Fold in half and bake for 3 minutes more. Repeat with the second batch. Dip your sandwich in your favorite brand of honey mustard, or make your own!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oatmeal Caramelets

These are always a crowd pleaser! They are really easy too!

2 C. flour
1 1/2 C. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 t. salt
2 C. quick oats
1 t. baking soda
1 1/2 C. butter, melted (I know it's a lot, but it makes a lot too!)
12 oz. milk chocolate chips
1 jar Butterscotch Caramel topping (plain caramel or plain butterscotch is fine too)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, oats, soda, and butter, until crumbs form. Press half of the mixture into a greased (make sure you grease the sides well!) 9 x 13 pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. When melted, spread the chocolate evenly over the oatmeal crust top with whole jar of caramel topping. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over the caramel and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Chill for easy cutting.

Creamy Farfalle with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Yummy and easy!

1 lb. farfalle pasta
2 T. butter
3/4 to 1 lb. mushrooms (I like crimini)
1 lb. thin asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 C. mascarpone cheese (can be found in the specialty cheese section)
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 C. toasted slivered almonds
1/4 - 1/2C. freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook farfalle until al dente, about 12 minutes. Make sure your water is well salted. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute 5 more minutes. Add farfalle, reserving some of the pasta water (about 1 C.). Stir in the mascarpone cheese, nutmeg and parmesan cheese. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is not as creamy as you would like, add 1/4 C. of pasta water at a time until it is the desired consistency. Top with toasted almonds and additional Parmesan cheese. Serves 6.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Provolone Stuffed Sausage Meatloaf

I came up with with recipe after having a cheese stuffed meatball. I thought it would be fun to try it with meatloaf. Sausage was on sale, so I put an Italian twist on it.

1 lb. lean ground beef
3 mild Italian sausage links, removed from casing
1/2 C. chopped red onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
2/3 C. marinara sauce
1 C. crushed saltine crackers
2 eggs, whisked
1-2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley
10-12 deli sliced provolone cheese

Saute onion and garlic in 1 T. olive oil until onion is soft. Set aside to cool. Mix together beef and sausage in a bowl. Try not to handle to meat too much. Add the cooled onion and garlic along with the next 7 ingredients and gently mix just until combined. Spread the mixture out onto a 8 x 16" piece of parchment paper. Make sure the thickness is even throughout. Mine was about 1/2" thick. Lay the slices of cheese on the meat leaving about a 1" border. Using the parchment, roll the meat into a loaf, pulling the parchment away from the meat as you go. I found it made less of a mess and was easier to roll the meat with the parchment. You don't have to use it. Place the meat in a loaf pan seam side down. Seal each side of the loaf to prevent the cheese from oozing out. Bake at 350 F for about 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted reads 165 F. Let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Top with a drizzle of marinara.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

French Macarons

I had my first french macaron at a little cafe in Salt Lake. They call them "buttons" there. This little tiny meringue cookie didn't look like much, but when I tasted it, I was in love! I would probably go there every day to get one if this little cafe was closer and if one little button didn't cost almost $2! Yes $2 for a little macaron that is only about the size of a silver dollar! I decided I would have to make them myself. After making several batches, I could see why they are so expensive...maybe. These are temperamental little treats, but they are so worth it! I can't even express how satisfying it is to get perfect batch after perfect batch! My most recent attempts have been the best yet! Perfect smooth tops and perfect feet at the bottom! I was so excited I danced around the kitchen. My 1 year old thought this was hilarious. I read several blogs about making the perfect french macaron and most of the recipes were measured by weight. I don't have a very reliable kitchen scale, so I went with Martha Stewart's recipe. I have tried raspberry, pistachio, hazelnut, and chocolate. Pistachio is my favorite, and chocolate is my least favorite. For some reason they had an almost stale texture to them. I used the dutch processed cocoa powder...I don't know what went wrong. Anyway, in my attempts to make the perfect macaron, I have learned that the number of times you fold the meringue and almond flour mixture together makes all the difference. Your batter should be shiny and smooth. I think on average I fold about 50 times. You don't want to fold too much or you won't get the feet you are looking for. If you don't fold enough, you won't have smooth tops. Also, you need to make sure that you let them sit long enough that they are no longer sticky or tacky to the touch before you put them in the oven. If you put them in too early, they will crack and peak. I have tried cooking them at a low temperature for longer periods of time as suggested in other blogs, but I think heating the oven to 375 and then reducing it to 325 just before putting the macarons in the oven works best.

Raspberry Macarons

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, for filling

Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 to 10 minutes with a hand mixer or 3 to 4 minutes with a stand mixer. I add my gel food coloring just before stiff peaks form. Do not use liquid food coloring. Be careful not to overwhip. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees. Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macaroons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macaroons.) I like to lay my macarons on the wire rack up side down to prevent the center from settling on the bottom and creating a hollow inside. Sandwich 2 same-size macaroons with 1 teaspoon jam. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Chocolate: Substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder for 1/4 cup of the almond flour.
Coconut: Substitute 2 tablespoons desiccated unsweetened coconut for 2 tablespoons of the almond flour, and add 1/2 teaspoon rum; sprinkle with additional coconut before baking.
Peanut: Substitute an equal amount finely ground unsalted peanuts (peanut flour) for the almond flour.
Pistachio: Substitute 1/2 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios (pistachio flour) for 1/2 cup of the almond flour, and add 2 to 3 drops forest-green gel-paste food coloring.
Raspberry: Add 1 tablespoon fresh raspberry puree, strained, plus 3 to 4 drops dusty- rose gel-paste food coloring.
Vanilla Bean: Add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use.
Hazelnut: Substitute 1/2 C. finely ground hazelnuts for 1/2 C. almond flour.

Suggestions for Fillings:
Chocolate: Chocolate Ganache
Coconut: 1 cup Swiss Meringue Buttercream, mixed with 1/3 cup angel-flake coconut.
Peanut: Chocolate Ganache, or store-bought dulce de leche, jam, or peanut butter.
Pistachio: 1 cup Swiss Meringue Buttercream, mixed with 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios or white chocolate ganache
Raspberry: 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
Vanilla Bean: 1 cup Pineapple Buttercream , 1 cup Swiss Meringue Buttercream, or 3/4 cup store-bought jam or preserves.
Hazelnut: 1 C. Chocolate hazelnut spread

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sugar cookies

I have never been a huge fan of sugar cookies, but I found this recipe on-line and I actually like it a lot! It makes a lot of cookies, so I usually half this recipe!

1 1/2 C. butter, room temperature
2 C. white sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
5 C. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

Combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Form into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the the fridge for at least 1 hour. Instead of flouring the surface you will be working with, you can use sugar. It creates a nice sugary crispy crust and leaves the inside of the cookies soft and chewy. Roll the dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and cut out your shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Bake at 400 F. for 6 to 8 minutes.

I love buttercream frosting, but I think this glaze/icing turns out really pretty, so I opted for that this time. I like the flavor too.

1 C. confectioners sugar
2 t. milk
2 t. light corn syrup
1/4 t. almond extract or vanilla
assorted food coloring

Mix together milk and sugar. Add corn syrup and extract and beat until smooth. If the icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Color icing according to your liking and paint on cookies with a brush.