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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toasted Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

 Peanut allergies aren't easy. They require so much effort when going out to eat. You have to tell the server to let the kitchen know that you have a peanut allergy. After they go tell the kitchen, the server usually comes back saying that they have almonds in the kitchen.
Peanut allergies are confusing to most people, but let me explain. 
Peanuts are not nuts. They are no where related to almonds or cashews. 
They are legumes. Related to chick peas, or soy, or bean sprouts. 
This recipe called for peanut butter, but I geniusly substituted yogurt to bind the cookie dough together. It worked.
 These cupcakes were delicious, but annoying as hell, and I would have to call them a disaster. 
I would never make them again, at least, I'd omit the marshmallow (meringue) frosting, and use a different one. 
I tried making the meringue twice. The first time it was very runny and never formed stiff peaks, the second time it was barely stiff enough to make 9 cupcakes, and then became to soft to nicely frost the rest of the cupcakes. A-nn-oy-in-g.
 That's not to say that they weren't delicious, because they were. I just wouldn't recommend making the meringue the same way that this recipe says to. If you have a better way, use that way.
None-the-less, if you make these, and they come out right, you'll be saying "yumm". 

Toasted Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes
cupcakes from Organic and Chic
meringue from Take a Megabite

For the Cupcakes:
(if you don’t want to use all organic ingredients… this recipe will still turn out wonderfully)
2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract
2/3 cup organic canola oil
2 teaspoons organic white vinegar
2 cups cold water

For the Cookie Dough Balls:
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (i know we’re not baking them, it’s for flavor)
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (if you have a nut allergy, 2 tablespoons of yogurt will work as a binder as well)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the Meringue:
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
large pinch of salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, water, vanilla extract and vinegar.
Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to overmix.  The mixture will be quite wet, but that’s ok.
Pour the batter until the cups are two thirds full and place in the oven for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cup comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack until completely cool before topping with cookie dough ball.

For the Cookie Dough Balls:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment (or with a large bowl and a wooden spoon) cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes in the machine.  Beat in peanut butter (or yogurt if using) along with the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add all at once to the butter and sugar mixture and stir until incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Spoon a scant tablespoons size amount of dough in your hand.  Roll into a ball and place on a cookie sheet.  Make 24 little cookie dough balls, and refrigerate until ready to top the cupcakes.

For the Meringue:
In a large pot, bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer.
In a large, heat-proof bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and salt.  The mixture will be grainy, because of the sugar.
Place bowl over simmering water and whisk as it heats.  The sugar will dissolve after about 5 minutes.  Keep and eye on the mixture, it shouldn’t get warm enough to cook the eggs.  Yucky.
Transfer the egg white and sugar mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  With a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, on high, until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes)  The mixture will be fluffy and glossy and look like melted marshmallows.  It’ll be sticky too.  Beat in the vanilla extract last.   Cover, and set aside until ready to frost cupcakes.

To Assemble Cupcakes:
Use a small paring knife to cut a 3/4-inch whole out of the top/center of the cupcakes.  Don’t cut the whole center of the cupcake out… just make a little hole for the dough ball to rest without rolling off.
Place dough balls on top of cupcakes.
Place meringue frosting in a pastry bag (or large Ziplock bag) fitted with a medium-large tip.  Use your instincts for the size of the tip.  Any size (star or round) medium tip will do for frosting these cupcakes.  Pipe frosting around the edges of the cupcake and over the dough ball in a circular motion.  Frost all cupcakes.
Turn on oven broiler.  Yea… it’s about to get real.
Place 12 cupcakes on a baking sheet.  Place cupcakes under the broiler for about 1 minute.  Don’t even close the broiler door.  Keep an eye on them as they toast.  You may need to remove the cupcakes and rotate the pan to ensure that they cook evenly.  Once toasted, remove cupcakes, and toast the remaining 12 in the same fashion.
Serve cupcakes!
Cupcakes will last, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.  They’re delicious.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Can I be honest and tell you how much I love to eat?
Not just fatty, buttery food, but also simple vegetables and fruit. 
I guess it is just the way I grew up.
 Once upon a time there was a man who grew tomatoes. Not only tomatoes, but peppers, squash, eggplants, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries in his amazing garden.
This garden was lush. Full of vegetables that you could pick and just eat right then and there.
This garden was a garden that I grew up going to. 
I grew up picking green peppers,  pulling out the seeds, and biting into them. 
They were fresh, they were tasty. They were in my Grandad's garden.
I used to play in the sprinkler in his back yard. Going to my grandparent's house was so much fun.
My Grandad is such a great man. He tells stories of how he used to make forty-five dollars a week.
How we worked all day and all night just to make that forty-five dollars and save money so he could buy my Grandma the best diamond engagement ring. 
My Grandma talks about how it was the biggest diamond out of all of her friends. That story and stories like that make me happy. I love hearing about how they used to go get 65 cent crab-cake platters. 
I love my Grandma and Grandad. They are so special to me.
Of course, I totally took something healthy (tomatoes) and turned them into something fried and unhealthy. You'll have to forgive me.
Fried Green Tomatoes
This recipe from allrecipes.
4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends.
Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Creamy Cheesecake With Berries

 I'm gonna kick my feet up then stare at the fan

Turn the TV on, throw my hand in my pants

Nobody's gon' tell me I can't
Okay, so I'm not really going to throw my hands in my pants, or stare at the fan, but it sounds nice. This silly song is sung by Bruno Mars. It's cute I suppose.
 Batter never really looks good, but I say give the batter photo a chance.. Who doesn't like big mounds of cream cheese? Butter? Sugar? Yum.
Cast of characters for this cheesecake. Eggs, sugar, lemon zest, heavy cream, vanilla, graham crackers, butter, and lots and lots of cream cheese.  
I think life is like a cheesecake. Ya never know what you're gonna get. 
Creamy and smooth on the inside, crusty and crumbly on the outside. With berries on top, of course. 
That's right. Don't you wish you had a piece?

Lemon Cheesecake with Fresh Berries
Crust - Ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter; melted
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Cheesecake - Ingredients:
4 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each; room temperature
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs; room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
zest of two lemons
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Topping - Ingredients:
2 cups of fresh berries
¼ cup apricot preserves plus 1 tables spoon hot water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tightly wrap a 9 inch springform pan in heavy duty foil. This step prevents leaks when using a water bath. I also take the extra step by placing the foil wrapped spring form pan inside an oven bag while baking.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom of your pan and about 1 inch up the sides. Bake for 7 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack.
3. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
4. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with your paddle attachment, combine the sugar and lemon zest and mix until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. Add in the cream cheese and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream and vanilla and mix until smooth.
5. Pour batter into prepared crust. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.
6. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, the edges will appear to be set, but the center will still have some jiggle to it. At this point, close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. After one hour has passed, carefully remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once the cake is completely cooled, place it into the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Top will fresh berries and serve.

1.Make sure you use a good quality springform pan.
2. Use a water bath!
3. Wrap the bottom half of the pan tightly in heavy duty foil before baking (this helps prevent the water from leaking into the pan).
4. If you are slightly OCD like me, place the foiled pan into an oven bag for extra security.
5. Allow the baked cheesecake to cool in the oven and then on the counter before placing in the refrigerator (directions will explain this).
6. Have a back-up plan if your cake cracks…fruit acts as an excellent crack concealor or you can just embrace the cracks!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

I like you. You make me smile. I picture you sitting there, reading my blog, sipping a cup of tea, or coffee. I picture you sitting there with slippers on, curled up in a comfy chair, with a blanket near by, or a puppy, or a kitten to keep you warm.
Actually, that's what I'm doing right now. I'm sitting here with a cupcake that I just made (which is oh-so-delicious), with my dogs, and with my fantastic thoughts. Ooh, aren't I full of myself, thinking that my thoughts are so fantastic.
I've been working on this post un-officially for 25 minutes now. I keep taking breaks to look off into space, and to take a bite of my yummy cupcake. I keep thinking about what the weather will be like tomorrow, what time I'll need to wake up to get to the gym before work, what time I'll be home, and if I'll want to do yoga, or relax, or watch TV. Not going to lie, it's probably going to be TV.
I find it hard to find time to watch all of my TV shows. I love TV. Reality, drama, comedy, whatever. It's pleasing to me. Tonight it will be Desperate Housewives and the Borgias. Tomorrow United States of Tara, which I love.
 United States of Tara is so good. It's so fun to watch someone with so many personalities, when I feel like mine is so set in stone. I just have one personality. That personality loves to bake, eat, drink, sleep, yoga, kiss my dogs, camp, ski, shop and watch TV. 
Enjoy these cupcakes, I sure am. I'll stop babbling now. K thnx bai.

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
makes 8 cupcakes

Cake- Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup fresh raspberries, roughly chopped

Put a rack in the middle of the oen and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt inside a bowl.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and almond extract.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating just until incorporated.  Fold in the raspberries.
Divide the batter among lined muffin cups.  Bake until pale golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Turn cupcakes out onto a rack to cool completely.
Spread frosting on cupcakes once cooled.

Buttercream Frosting - Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1/2 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
1 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.

Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

-This recipe will make enough frosting to generously frost 12 cupcakes. Double this recipe to frost a 9" round cake.
-You can easily adjust the consistency of this recipe by simply adding in more heavy cream or milk.
-If you are a fan of shortening in your buttercream. simply omit one stick of butter and replace with 1/2 cup shortening.
-Clear vanilla extract is used in this recipe to keep the frosting nice and white. If you don’t mind a slight color change, feel free to use pure vanilla extract.
-Covered and refrigerated frosting can be stored for up to three days. Simply bring it to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. You may need to add a couple of teaspoons of heavy cream or milk to revive the consistency.
-If you choose to dye your frosting, go easy with the dye. Remember, you can always add more color, but you can’t remove it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Campfire Chicken

 Who likes bugs? I sure don't. I "deal" with them.
Camping is for two types of people. People who aren't scared of bugs, and for manly men who aren't afraid to kill bugs for their wonderful wives. We kept our tent clean, we went to sleep in cold weather and snuggled, kept warm.

My husband isn't afraid to kill bugs. He makes me happy that way. He keeps me safe. 
We diced garlic, carrots, potatos, chicken, mushrooms.
Roasted on a campfire. 
 Yum. So tender. So delicious. This can be made on a grill at home.
And seriously, who doesn't end a camping evening with roasted marshmallows or even s'mores?

Campfire Chicken
This recipes serves 6 people with no pots to wash!
12 pieces of Dark Meat Chicken
6 Large Carrots -peeled and cut
6 Med to Large Potatoes -peeled and cut
4 Large Onions
1 Package of Fresh Mushrooms -optional
6 or 8 Large Cloves (NOT HEADS) of Fresh Garlic -peeled - 3 to 4 per bag
4 Chicken Bullion Cubes - 1 per bag
1/2 cup water - 1/4 cup per bag
4 Tbl. Butter - 2 Tbl. per bag
4 tsp. Thyme Leaves - 2 tsp. per bag
Salt - to taste
Black Pepper -to taste
Olive Oil - about 3 or 4 Tbl. per bag
2 large Reynolds Foil Bags

2 pieces of chicken per person - I usually use 1 leg and one thigh per person. White meat gets too dry if it is not perfectly timed.

Spray the inside of the foil bags with Pam Spray.
Rinse Chicken and remove skin (if you want) from the thighs. 
Put 3 legs and 3 thighs into each foil bag.
Peel the carrots, potatoes and onions and cut up into semi large chunks. Put half of the veggies in each foil bag.
Peel (do not chop) the Garlic and put half in each bag.
Remove any dirt on mushrooms, cut off the bad part of the stem if any.. and divide evenly for each foil bag. 
2 Bullion Cube along with a 1/4 cup of water goes into each bag.
Divide the butter, oil and spices between the two foil bags as well.

Seal the bag thoroughly!!!
Gently turn bag a few times to mix around all the ingredients.

Put on the grate over a hot campfire. 
Cook for about 1 hour or so... turning bag after about a half hour.

You can serve right from the bag with no extra dishes if you are careful in the way you open up the foil. I just lay it on a table a slice it right down the middle. 

Don't let the flames surround the foil bag, try to keep them under the bags and as consistent as possible.

You can open the bag (BUT BE CAREFUL not to tear the foil) to test the veggies and chicken for doneness.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ricotta Fritters

 I'm watching Sex and the City 2. 

I'm getting all giddy watching Carrie and Big kiss each other. 

I'm thinking about how much I love the first Sex and the City movie so much more. 

I have zero makeup on. 

I'm wearing jeans and an old t-shirt, polka dot grey socks.

I'm getting sleepy sitting next to my warm puppies.

My husband just turned twenty-five. 

Yup. Twenty-five.

For a gift I got him a tent, and an air mattress.

Guess what? We are going camping this weekend.

 I've never been camping. 

 I'm looking forward to stream-walking.

We are taking our big dog, Nala. 

She hates the rain!

I can't wait to see her face when we walk in a little stream.

She's such a good girl.
I'm scared of bugs.

I don't like the idea of being in a tent without protection from scary animals.

What's a girl to do?

I think I'll make ricotta fritters in the mean time, and calm my nerves.

I think I'll spray enough bug spray to coat the entire campsite.

I think I'll snuggle up to my hubby and stay warm. 

He'll keep me safe for sure.

Ricotta Fritters
From Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni

I used a tablespoon to portion the dough. Don’t use one that holds more than 1 or 2 tablespoons or the insides will still be raw. These fritters are crisp on the outside and oh-so-light and fluffy inside.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
3 eggs
8 ounces  ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for frying.
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

In a large mixing bowl whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl rub zests into sugar until fragrant. Whisk in eggs, ricotta, and vanilla to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combines. Batter can be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to 1 day.
Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan with high sides to 350F. ( I like to use at least 4 inches of oil.)
Fry in batches, using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon drop spoonfuls of dough into hot oil and fry about 1 minute per side (if the dough scoops are ball shaped they will turn and roll themselves in the hot oil!). Remove fritters from oil and drain on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and eat warm.