Sunday, July 27, 2008

Strawberry Cupcakes w/ Pink Buttercream Frosting

Recipe courtesy Meikel Reece
2 1/2 cups white sugar (1/2 less if you want it less sweet)
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk, room
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree (recipe follows, and sometimes I use a full cup)

Strawberry Puree
1 cup hulled & sliced Strawberries
1/2 cup Sugar
1 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. Or put the liners in cup cake tins.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely.

Recipe Courtesy Magnolia Bakery NYC
The vanilla buttercream we use at the bakery is technically not a buttercream but actually an old-fashioned confectioners' sugar and butter frosting. Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Combine stawberries, sugar, the juice of one lemon and the lemon zest. Make sure that stawberries have been coated and let sit overnight or at least 1/2 hour. Puree in food processor.

For cupcakes bake for 18-20 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 24 cupcakes.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Banana Muffins

Recipe courtesy Giada De laurentiis.
These are delightful muffins, especially when they are good for you too.
When I make these I make several healthy substitutions, they will all be in brown. enjoy!
3 cups all-purpose flour Whole wheat baking flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar Beet sugar or Stevia sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature Tofutti non dairy cream cheese (trust me it's delicious!)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature Soy Butter
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature Just use all 8oz of Tofutti Cream cheese
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted I use Peacans because I love them, but walnuts are great too.

Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly. The muffins may be eaten warm or cooled completely and frosted.

To frost the cupcakes: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone cheese and then beat in the honey. Spread the frosting over the muffins. Sprinkle with the walnuts.

These are mine and Luke's new favorite thing, and they are really filling as well. And even though we all know that cream cheese frosting makes everything better, these are also good bald.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto

I would like to preface this recipe with a statement about hard work. Anything worth doing is hard, and so it is with risotto. You may have to stand over a pot of boiling rice, lovingly ladleing steaming spoonfuls of hot broth on to the ever awaiting rice, but it is worth every moment. You reap what you sow, and this is so worth it!

Recipe Courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large vanilla bean
3 cups peeled cubed (1-inch wide) butternut squash, about 12 ounces
2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon
3/4 cups finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and add them, and the bean, to the broth. When the broth comes to a simmer reduce the heat to low. Add the butternut squash to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the butternut squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the broth down to very low and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Discard the vanilla bean. Turn off the heat. Gently stir in the butternut squash, Parmesan, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and salt. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chives. Serve

Summer Boulillabaisse

Recipe Courtesy Real Simple
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound cod fillet, skin removed; cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 pound mussels, scrubbed (I generally omit these, unless you can find some "fresh" in Utah best to just leave out. Shrimp on the other hand is fairly easy to find. I get mine at Costco, and the frozen ones are pretty good!)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped (If you can't find the fresh herb you are looking for, go for the next best thing. I would not hesitate to use Italian parsley in this recipe.)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the cod, shrimp, and tomatoes and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Add the mussels and cook, covered, until the cod and shrimp are cooked through and the mussels have opened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with the tarragon before serving.

Substitution: This light French seafood stew works well with a variety of fish. Sea bass, flounder, and halibut are tasty alternatives to cod, so buy what looks best at the market.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Rice Works

I am so glad I ran into these little treasures, Thanks Target!
Riceworks chips are made with a selection of the finest ingredients including whole grain brown rice and sesame seeds that are mixed into a dough. The dough is then rolled into a thin sheet, cut into individual chips and baked in a state-of-the-art oven. After baking, the chips are fried in low saturated, zero grams of trans fat sunflower or safflower oil to produce a crisp yet tender texture. They are Doritos healthy and sophisticated cousin, try them you will love them!

Yellow Tomato Salsa

Recipe Courtesy Real Simple
1 1/2 pounds yellow tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 cup red onion
1/4 cup torn basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Pulse tomatoes in a food processor until roughly chopped.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in onion, basil leaves, and salt.

Serve with hearts of romaine, sliced zucchini, and crackers.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings


I LOVE Kashi! All their products are so tasty and good for you!

GOLEAN Crunch & Heart to Heart Golden Maple Brown Oatmeal
Here are my favorite additions to this delightful cereal & oatmeal :
Bananas & Pecans (if you toast the pecans first it tastes like dessert, it's wonderful)
(For the oatmeal add a drizzle of pure maple syrup, it's heaven.)
Pecan's or Walnuts & Crasins or Golden Raisins
Granola & your favorite dried fruit.
Soy milk is my favorite to accompany these cereals.

TLC Crackers, Country Cheddar
I love these, they are perfect in every way.

TLC Cookies, Oatmeal & Dark Chocolate
Obviously we could all make these and they would probably be amazing.
But generally time is of the essence, so I turn to these healthy versions of my favorite cookie.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My version of a Venezuelan Hot Dog

"Ever eat so much you feel sick? Isn't that the best,
then you feel like a real American . . . oh that was strangely patriotic . . ." -Jim Gaffigan

I am usually very anti-hot dog, but seeing as it's almost the 4th of July
I thought I would share my favorite way to eat a hot dog.

8 hot dog rolls, preferably potato
8 hot dogs, preferably pork
Relish of your choice
1 (6-ounce) bag Lays classic potato chips

Grill your dogs, for me it's just the only way. I also grill my buns, but that is just a personal preference. While your dogs are grilling, open the bag of Lays, and slowly begin to smash the chips with your hands, smash until they are completely demolished, still crisp but totally smashed and then set aside.
Check your buns, they only need a minute or so on the grill. Once your dogs are done to your liking, assemble as follows:
Bun, dog, ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish and top with a rediculous amounts of crushed potato chips.

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese

I would like to preface this recipe with a statement. When I cook I never measure, and when I mess around with recipe's (like the one below) I am always trying to make it taste better, so I do it a little different each time.
I will add my additions and changes, but it does make a different outcome than Giada's. But I think that cooking should be an evolution, what may be great in L.A. may not work so well for Provo. So I make each recipe to match my mood, my climate and more often than not my wallet.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
Additions courtesy of yours truly!
1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms I left these out,because the only place I could find them was williams and sonoma
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped also 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves sometimes I omit this completely, depending on mood.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves Basil was on sale when I first made this and I love it,
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves really you can't go wrong with any of these herbs.
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and brown), stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese I use the Toffuti non-dairy cream cheese
1 pound rigatoni pasta I use whole wheat
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 28oz (for a more "soupy" sauce) or 16oz can diced tomatoes.
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften. Ignore this if you omited the dried mushrooms.

Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, canned tomatoes and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese is incorporated.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes remember that whole wheat takes longer. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten the sauce. Toss with Parmesan and serve. This pasta is delicious cold as leftovers too!

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