Archive | February, 2010

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

22 Feb

This recipe totally brings out the carrot cake lover in us all. And with a higher ratio of frosting to cake than in a normal cake, it is so much tastier. These cupcakes were brilliant when still warm.  Adapted from Martha’s recipe here.

My best practice for cupcake eating is to eat the top first (the part with the frosting), and then with the remaining frosting, re-frost the bottom, so you can enjoy that first-bite glory all over again.

I thoroughly enjoy nutmeg and all-spice, and I like the exotic flavor cardamom gives things, but spice to your own tastes.

Cupcakes Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. all spice
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • dash cardamom
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 peeled and grated carrots
  • Cupcakes Method

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; set aside.
    3. In another large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture mixing until well combined.
    4. Pour into cupcake tin (into papers!). Bake 20 to 25 min.

    Frosting Ingredients

  • 5 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/3 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Frosting Method

    1. Using an electric beater, beat cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar .
    2. Beat in vanilla.

    Enjoy deliciousness.

    Pasta with Squash and Pine Nuts

    18 Feb

    Somehow, this fall, I discovered how amazing squash is, when used as a base for pasta sauce. Unfortunately, as it is now mid-Feb, there are absolutely no squashes to be had at the market! Such is life. So instead, I bought a box of frozen squash and started with that!

    I have adapted this recipe to my undiscerning needs.

    Ingredients

    • 1 box o’pasta
    • 1/3 c. pine nuts
    • 1 box frozen squash
    • 1/4 c. olive oil
    • 1 yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic (yes, out of a jar, *gasp*)
    • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves, minced
    • 1/4 c. grated cheese (parm or mozz will do)

    Method

    1. Start pot of water boiling, get pasta going…
    2. Heat over to 400 and toast pine nuts (with sprinkling of salt) on a baking pan. A toaster oven might also do, come to think of it. 10ish minutes in the oven should do (don’t let them burn!).
    3. Defrost squash in the microwave. 6 minutes on high should do.
    4. In a deep sautee pan, add olive oil and sautee onions, garlic, and 1/2 of the sage until onions are glassy and sage is crispy. Add in squash puree and rest of sage, continuing stirring on medium heat.
    5. Once pasta is done, add in pasta (as long as there is enough room in the pan!), and put on high heat. Make sure pasta is evenly coated and slightly crispy.
    6. Add salt and pepper to taste. I probably added a good 1.5 tsp. of salt, but hell, I like the stuff.

    Voila! It would have been much better with fresh squash, and more chunky than the puree, but beggars (see also, squash lovers after squash season) can’t be choosers.

    Homemade Chocolate Pudding (plus raspberries)

    18 Feb

    Throughout history, there has seldom been a food made that has the ability to comfort and satisfy as chocolate pudding. Here, I bring you a fool-proof way to make it at home, without the wonders of Jell-O helping out.

    I made this last night for Danielle and Holly, and stuck it in the fridge right as we were beginning to eat dinner. I think because it was mostly made with skim, a little longer in the fridge would have been better in order to thicken it a bit more. But the pudding (with the raspberry accents) was so tasty!

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 c. cornstarch
    • 1/2 c. white sugar
    • dash salt
    • 3 c. milk (I use a blend of skim and heavy cream, since that all I usually have at home)
    • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • dash vanilla (optional)
    • handful of raspberries

    Method

    1. Combine cornstarch, salt, and sugar in double-boiler over boiling water. Slowly add milk, whisking.
    2. Continue intermittant whisking for ~15 min, until milk mixture gets a bit more thick.
    3. Add chocolate to milk mixture, continuing to whisk until thorough melted and mixed.
    4. Remove from heat (add vanilla if desired)
    5. Pour into ramekins (makes 4 very full ramekins), and garnish with raspberries
    6. Let cool in fridge until ready to eat (~20 min)

    Red (as a Beet) Velvet Cupcakes

    15 Feb

    I have always been a huge proponent of beets. Warm beets make any salad even better. And I’ll even eat them cold. I love the richness and sanguineness of the color, and the thick and juiciniess, just like steak. But I had never considered beets in a cupcake until now.

    So the back story to this, is that every Sunday, I whip up some manner of cupcakes to provide to my very willing colleagues on Monday morning. At first I think I did this as a way to make new friends at work (I just started working here in late Sept 09). Now, I think my colleagues have grown to expect them. Last week, a women’s network event brought Crave Cupcakes into the office. The Red Velvet cupcake was amazing! I wanted to make these, but was incredibly put off by the amoung of food coloring (something I disagree on principal with) required.

    Is there a way to make Red Velvet cupcakes without the artificiality?? YES! What follows is a recipe that I cobbled together from several I read through.

    Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

    Ingredients

    • 2 large beets
    • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
    • 3/4 c. white sugar
    • 1/5 c. light brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 c. milk
    • 3/4 c. flour
    • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt

    Method

    1. Pre-heat oven to 425. Wash beets and chop into large pieces, put into baking pan (liquid will form!) and cover with foil. Roast for ~40 min, or until a fork easily slides into the beets. Take out and let cool slightly. Rub off the skins with your hands (red hand alert!) and coarsely chop. Put pieces into blender and puree until somewhat smooth– or at least no more big chunks remain.
    2. Reduce oven heat to 350. Melt butter in the microwave. In a large bowl, beat together beet puree, melted butter, sugars, and eggs with an electric mixer.
    3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
    4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet bowl. The mixture should be dark red and beautiful (oh, and tasty too).
    5. Spoon batter into cupcake cups (3/4 full or slightly more generous). Bake for ~20 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Vanilla Roux Icing

    Ingredient

    • 1/2 c. milk
    • 2 tbsp. flour
    • 1/8 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 c. butter
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla

    Method

    1. In a small saucepan, whisk milk, flour, and salt until think and custardy consistency. Cool somewhat.
    2. In a small bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add in milk mixture. Beat until creamy and smooth.

    Makes ~12 most excellent cupcakes.

    They are moist, delicious, and have a cakey-ness to them that everyone seems to love today. The cupcakes were a big hit, and no one could guess the “surprise ingredient” I used… I actually kept an extra at home, so that I can treat myself at the end of the day.

    My Big Fat Greek Spanakopita

    15 Feb

    I don’t know where I got this idea, but yesterday, I was thinking about how tasty I recall my sister Kristin’s spanakopita being. I decided to try it! I’ve somehow, in my 27 years, never worked with filo sheets before, so it was clearly time to try. The recipe I followed (or rather, lack of recipe) was a medley of Kristin’s advice (obtained while I was driving, so not sure how closely I followed it anyway), and the various recipes found online…

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 package filo sheets, frozen
    • 16 oz fresh spinach
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 vidallia onion, chopped
    • 1 handful fresh dill, chopped
    • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    • 1/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1/2 lb. grated meunster cheese
    • 10 oz. crumbled feta cheese
    • 3 eggs
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/4 c. unsalted butter

    Method

    1. In a deep sautee pan on medium heat, put in 1 tbsp olive oil and half the spinach. Once wilted, put into collander (or sieve) to dry. Repeat with remaining olive oil and spinach. Let all wilted spinach dry, using several pieces of paper towel, pressing into the spinach, to absorb liquid.
    2. In pan, sautee chopped onions with smidgin of olive oil, until glassy. Let cool somewhat.
    3. In a large bowl, mix spinach, onions, dill, parsley, green onions, feta, meunster, and eggs. Mixture should be moist and sticky. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Pre-heat oven to 350. Melt butter in a small microwavable dish. With an 8 x 13 baking pan, use pastry brush to brush butter onto bottom of baking pan. Lift out one sheet of the filo and press onto the bottom. Brush a layer of butter on top. Add another sheet of filo, and repeat until you have 6 sheets of filo.
    5. Add spinach mixture and press down until you have a relatively flat layer. Place a sheet of filo on top, brush on butter. Repeat filo-butter until you have another 6 sheets on top. Brush on final layer on butter (kind of sop it on this time).
    6. Bake for ~30 min or until top sheet is golden brown. Cut into pieces soon after taking out of the oven. Serve warm.

    So tasty! The smell kept wafting out of the oven, and was quite delicious. The vidallia onion brings out a sweetness that accentuates the spinach and the sharpness of the feta.

    I think I may have cut it into pieces with a crap knife, because the top layers of filo kind of flaked off. I had leftovers for lunch today, and it was excellent. I also plan on freezing some, so I can share the coup with Rafe, once he arrives back from New Haven.

    Go spinach!

    Let the Kitchen Rule!

    15 Feb

    OK, for a very long time, I have been making kitchens messy. I enjoy this thoroughly. The kitchen has held a fascination and comfort for me, since I was very young (when I would hide from my older brother’s torments behind my mothers legs, as she stood by the stove making parathas or similar). In college, I was an avid cookie and flan-maker. In business school, potluck dinners were my thing. I am actively seeking to expand my horizons…

    This blog will serve as a record for me (and any friends who like to follow along with my kitchen adventures) to digest the outcome of these ventures.