Monday, April 28, 2008

Chocolate-Covered Banana Cupcakes

We bought too many bananas last week that were the same ripeness & ended up with a few of those nice soft brown ones that are so perfect for cooking. I told Matt I'd make him some banana bread but he said he wanted banana cupcakes with chocolate frosting. That made me think of one of my favorite summer treats frozen chocolate-covered bananas rolled in peanuts. Seems like a wonderful combination for a cupcake as well.
Chocolate Covered Banana Cupcakes
I didn't want the cupcake to just be a small banana bread, I was hoping for something a little lighter. I search around & found a whole bunch of recipes that were very similar so that's what I went with. This is a much moister cupcake than my typical one, probably because of the banana. It is a little heavier than I had hoped for but really it tastes so good & bananay (is that word?) that is doesn't really matter.
I used a simple chocolate ganache for the frosting because I felt it most simulated the chocolate coating on a frozen banana.

Banana Cupcake

3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 eggs
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. sour cream
1/2 c. mashed bananas
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 8 muffin tins. Cream butter and sugar until light & fluffy. Add egg & beat again. Dissolve baking soda in sour cream, add to creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in banana, flour and vanilla until everything is combined. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean. There maybe a little sticking due to the banana. Allow to cool before frosting.
Banana Cupcakes
Makes 8

Chocolate Ganache

4 oz chopped chocolate (I used a mixture of semi & bittersweet)
1/4 c plus 2 T cream
1 T butter

Bring butter & cream to a boil. Boil over chopped chocolate & stir until chocolate is completely melted. Frost cupcakes & sprinkle with some salted chopped peanuts if you wish. Put cupcakes into the fridge to set the ganache.

Weekly Menu - 4/28 - 5/2/08

Oh, did we eat well this weekend. Matt made our favorite comfort meal, roast chicken & vegetables. Its so simple to put together but always feels like a special treat. In a post this week we'll be showing our favorite way to prepare a chicken for roasting, spatchcocking.
Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

Now on to the Menu Planning Monday

Mustard & Pretzel-Coated Chicken Breasts - inspired by a Rachel Ray recipe & an amazing honey mustard we have.
Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese with Ham & Peas - I usually make it with Gruyere, carmelized onions & tomatoes but Matt asked for this combination. - RESULT - This combination is fabulous too.
Beef Stroganoff - My Mom's classic, really easy recipe. - RESULT - Classic comfort food.
Curried Roasted Vegetables over Raisin Couscous - A new take on one of my favorite dishes.

Friday we'll be eating out to celebrate Matt's birthday on the 2nd & mine on the 3rd.

This week's cupcake is a tribute to one of my favorite things, Chocolate Covered Bananas.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Merguez Lamb Patties with Golden Raisin Couscous

This dish really doesn't look like much but don't let the fool you because the flavor is fantastic. The lamb & spices have a wonderful North African flavor which balances nicely with the sweetness of the raisins in the couscous. It's a good thing too since it took trips to three grocery stores to find ground lamb (or even lamb we could grind ourselves without) as well as three grocery stores & a middle easter market to find the harissa. This really surprised me as we were shopping at the "gourmet" markets. Anyway if you like lamb (& can find some harissa) make this.
Lamb Patties with couscous
Matt likes things extra spicy so that's a big dollop of harissa on each patty, I skipped that.

1 t fennel seeds
1 lb ground lamb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T harissa (more or less to your tolerance for spicy)
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 c chicken broth
3 T golden raisins
1/2 c couscous
1/4 c chopped cilantro
zest of 1/2 lemon

Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until a shade darker, about a minute. Grind to a fine powder. Mix together lamb, garlic, harissa, cumin, fennel, coriander, cinnamon and salt with your hands being careful not to overmix. Form into 4 patties about 3/4-inch thick. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat then add patties. Cook for about 9 minutes turning once.

While the patties are cooking bring the broth, raisins & a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in couscous. Cover & remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in cilantro & lemon zest.

Makes 4 patties & 2 servings of couscous
adapted from Gourmet March '08

Friday, April 25, 2008

Marinated Soybean & Tomato Salad

In an effort to eat more vegetables we are trying to make more salads for lunch as a side instead of chips (its so hard when Lund's has the amazing Tavern Mustard chips). We really aren't big fans of just a green salad so have been looking for other alternatives. This is one of the first ones we tried & I've already made it twice this week. It comes together really quickly, smells heavenly of garlic & fresh basil & looks beautiful with the bright green & red. The original recipe called for canned soybeans but I usually have some mukimame (shelled soybeans) in the freezer to eat as snacks. They work perfect for this recipe because they have a nice bite to them & you can just use what you need while keeping the rest frozen for another time (open a can & you are stuck with finding a use for the leftovers right away). We've also changed the dressing a bit because we felt it was a little too heavy on the mustard but it can easily be changed to suit your taste.
Marinated Soybean & Tomato Salad

Marinated Soybean & Tomato Salad
adapted from Dr. Weil's My Optimum Health Plan

1/2 c frozen soybeans
1 med tomato, seeded & chopped
1 t olive oil
1 t garlic, finely chopped
1 t balsamic vinegar
1/2 t Dijon mustard
1/4 c basil leaves, finely chopped

Microwave the soybeans on high for 30 - 40 seconds just to thaw them. Mix the the olive oil, vinegar, garlic & mustard in a bowl, add the tomato and the beans. Stir in the chopped basil and let the mixture sit for at least an hour to blend the seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 1 serving but is easily increased.

Next time I think I'll try adding a little red onion....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dark Chocolate & Bacon Cupcakes

I love salty sweet things. One of my favorite sweets is dark chocolate, really don't waste my time with wimpy milk chocolates. One of my favorite salties is bacon, truly a food of the gods. I had my first taste of the two together is a Vosges Mo's Bacon Bar which I frustratingly enough haven't been able to find since moving to Minneapolis. So, I decided why not blend those two things together myself into a cupcake.
Dark Chocolate & Bacon Cupcake
I had run out of the Dutch Processed Cocoa I have been using & decided to try Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa which is a Dutch Processed blend. I was afraid it wouldn't have the flavor I was looking for but I was wrong. This cocoa gives a wonderful dark color & just the dark chocolate flavor I was looking for. Plus its about half the price & I can get it at Target.
Don't skimp on the bacon in this recipe because these cupcakes are best when you get a nice chunk of bacon in each bite. I sprinkle each cupcake with a little Fleur de Sel before serving for just that extra touch of saltiness.

Dark Chocolate & Bacon Cupcake

8 slices good thick-cut bacon
1 c unsalted butter
1/2 c Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
3/4 c water
2 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 c well-shaken buttermilk
2 T vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 24 muffin tins.
Chop bacon into about 1/2-inch pieces. Cook over med-high heat in a skillet until bacon is brown & crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Pat any remaining oil off the bacon. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in cocoa. Add water and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in separately sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the cocoa mixture and whisk until just combined (it will be a little bit lumpy). Stir in bacon.
In goes the bacon
Fill muffin tins to about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean. It's a moist cake, so don't worry if a few crumbs stick to your tester.
Allow cupcakes to cool.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

1/2 c unsalted butter
2/3 c Hershey's Special Dark
3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

About 2 cups frosting.

This is Hershey's Frosting recipe & still the best one I've tried.

Frost the cupcakes & sprinkle with a little Fleur de Sel right before serving.
Dark Chocolate & Bacon Cupcake

Mustard-Crusted Pork with Carrots & Lentils

This dish looks quite fancy but really comes together fast. The original recipe called for pre-cut carrots & canned lentil which would have made it even faster but I just cut my own carrots & dried lentils. It seemed silly to not used what I had in the cupboard. The flavors here were really good & all blended together nicely thanks to the crossover of flavors; carrots roasted with the pork, mustard on the pork & in the lentils, etc... Don't skip the sprigs of thyme in the lentils as they surprisingly add a lot of flavor.
Mustard-crusted pork loin

1 c dry lentils
1 pound carrots, peeled & cut into small sticks
5 1/2 T olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/4 lb) pork tenderloin
2 T Dijon mustard, divided
1/4 c fine dry bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves smashed
2 fresh sprigs of thyme
2/3 c chicken broth

Cook the lentil uncovered in simmering water until soft, about 25 minutes. Drain & set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 F. In a shallow baking pan toss the carrots with 2 T oil. Season with salt & pepper. Put into preheat oven to roast while preparing pork.
Pat the pork dry & sprinkle with salt. Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 3 minutes total. Put the pork on a work surface and brush with 1 T mustard. Stir together bread crumbs with 1/2 T oil & then press onto mustard coated pork. Put the pork into the pan with the carrots & roast until a thermometer inserted into the center resisters 140 -145 F. Remove pork from The roasting pan & let rest for 5 minutes. Let carrots continue to roast.
While the pork is resting, heat 2 t oil with the garlic & thyme in a small saucepan or skillet over med0high heat for about 1 minute. Stir in lentils, broth, 1 T mustard and cook until heated through & broth has reduced some. Season with salt & pepper. Discard thyme before serving.
The carrots should be brown & tender at this point. Slice pork & serve.

Serves 4
adapted from Gourmet Nov '07

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Asian Chicken Salad

As it starts to get warmer here we start to crave lighter dishes. Yesterday was 77 F, a wonderful 14 degrees above normal so the perfect night for a pretty green chicken salad. The recipe we used to make this had you poach the chicken breasts with a few sprigs of cilantro & a whole green onion. I did this but really it added nothing no flavor or scent to the chicken so I'm going to just leave that step out. The dressing is very nice but very gingery so if you are not a ginger fan use a little less. I've also changed the dressing to add slightly more ponzu & less vegetable oil to make it a little more flavorful & a little less oily.
Asian Chicken Salad
Asian Chicken Salad
adapted from Bon Appétit May '08

1 skinless boneless chicken breast (You could also use leftover roast chicken & skip the poaching step. Use about 1/2 lb)
1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
4 ounces sugar snap peas
2 baby bok choy, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 red jalapeno, thinly sliced (remove the seeds & ribs if you like it mild)
2 1/2 - 3 T ponzu
1 1/4 T seasoned rice vinegar
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 T fresh ginger, peeled & minced

Poach the chicken in simmering salted water until cooked, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate & allow it to cool. Turn the same water up to high & add the snap peas. Let them cook for 1 minute & then drain them. Rinse the peas with cold water to cool them. Shred the cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken, peas, cilantro, boy choy, cucumber and jalapeno together.
In a small bowl whisk together the ponzu, rice vinegar, oil & ginger. Add the dressing to the salad & toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper.

We served this with some chow mein noodles on top for a little extra crunch.

Serves 2

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekly Menu 4/21 - 4/26/08

The weather finally seems to be turning to spring & we even bought a grill this weekend. Dinner was cooked & eaten outside last night
#111 - Getting "manned up"
Things look a little drippy the rest of this week but hopefully soon you'll be seeing lots of recipes for the grill in the weekly menu.

Ok, here's the Menu Planning Monday. We'll be trying lots of new recipes this week so come back for the recipes & reviews.

Asian Chicken Salad with Snap Peas & Bok Choy - From Bon Appétit May '08 - RESULT - A really good salad that we will make again. It's really quite pretty with its bright greens.
Merguez Lamb Patties with Golden Raisin Couscous - From Gourmet March '08 - RESULT - We had some trouble finding the ingredients but I'm glad we did.
Pasta Carbonara - from Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes
Mustard-crusted Pork with Carrots & Lentils - from Gourmet Nov. '07 - RESULT - Fabulous flavors for not a ton of work. This would make a nice dinner party dish.
Sausage & Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna - One we made awhile back that is in the freezer

This weeks cupcake will be Dark Chocolate & Bacon. Yes, bacon. This cupcake is inspired by Vosges' Mo's Bacon Bar. The salty & sweet are really, really good together so I hope they turn out the same way in a cupcake. - RESULT - This could be heaven.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Baked Penne with Sausage & Zucchini

We don't usually have pasta twice in a week but we had some leftover tomato/vodka sauce to use as well as some pork that was waiting to be ground into Italian sausage. It was a gray sort of day & a gooey baked pasta sounded perfect. I also had some zucchini in the crisper so I decided it couldn't hurt to throw something green in. This turned out wonderful, I think I like it better than our lasagna. The creaminess of the vodka sauce, the fennel flavor of the sausage & the melted cheese were so good togheter we had to stop ourselves from eating it all in one sitting. We especially like the crispy pasta on top.
Baked Penne & Sausage
Matt did some research into different Italian sausage spices mixtures & came up with a different one for this batch. I think it was much better than the Alton Brown recipe we used before. This one had a little more depth.

Italian Sausage Spice

1/2 t garlic powder
1 T fennel seeds
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t kosher salt
1 t paprika

Mix with 1 lb ground pork. If grinding the pork yourself mix in with the meat when you run it through the grinder. This is a sweet sausage, add crushed red pepper flakes to make a hot sausage.

Baked Penne with Sausage & Zucchini

8 oz dry penne
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 zucchini
1 cup tomato/vodka sauce
1 & 1/8 cup grated mozzarella
grated parmesan

Grease a 5 x 6 glass baking dish with a little olive oil. Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook the penne until al dente according to the directions. Drain & set aside. Meanwhile cook the Italian sausage, drain any excess grease and set aside. Cut the zucchini into quarters lenghwise then into 1/2 pieces. Mix the penne, sausage, zucchini, tomato sauce, & 1 cup mozzarella together. Put mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella & some grated parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is bubbly & brown.

Serves 4
Baked Penne & Sausage

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lingonberry & Cardamom Cupcakes

The inspiration for this cupcake came from two places. First, I had Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberry Preserves at the Original Pancake House the other day & thought lingonberries would be good in a cupcake. So, off to Ikea to buy a jar. Second, I had bought a jar a cardamom for the Royal Foodie Joust & decided I needed to find some other uses for it. Cardamom is often used in Scandinavian sweets so it makes sense to pair it with the ligonberries.
Ligonberry & Cardamom Cupcakes
I used a basic white cupcake batter & flavored it with the cardamom & used the ligonberry preserves as a filling. This cupcake was delicious & the smell of the cardamom mouth-watering. The slight tartness of the lingonberries works perfectly with the sweetness of the cupcake & frosting.
I had some trouble with the frosting (frosting seems to be my downfall). I thought a sour cream frosting would work well with these flavors but since I didn't have sour cream I decided to substitute yogurt. I've done this in batters & its worked just fine but for a frosting I should have drained the yogurt through some cheesecloth first because it was too wet. Then I added some preserves to the frosting which also added more liquid. So, I had to keep adding more & more powdered sugar to get a nice consistency (I actually ran out of sugar before it was perfect) which took away any of the slight sourness from the yogurt anyway. The frosting tasted good in the end but next time I'll either make a cream cheese frosting for these or just do a plan white buttercream.

Lingonberry and Cardamon Cupcakes
recipe adapted from White Cupcakes by Clare Crespo

3 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t ground cardamom
2/3 c unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 c milk
1 t vanilla
1/4 c lingonberry preserves (you may need a slightly more)

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare 18-20 muffin tins. Shift the flour, baking powder, salt & cardamom together. In another bowl, cream the butter gradually adding the sugar until light & fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time. In a small bowl combine the milk & vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture & the milk mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time. Mix well between each addition.
Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the batter into the bottom of each prepared muffin tin. Spoon a rounded teaspoon of lingonberry preserves on top of the batter. Top the preserves with another tablespoon of batter. Cupcake tin should be about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 - 22 minutes or until cupcake is beginning to brown & firm. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.
Ligonberry & Cardamom Cupcakes
Makes 18 - 20 cupcakes (this recipe halved really well)

I won't bother sharing the frosting recipe I used because it really didn't work. Just use your favorite white frosting with these.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Baked Chicken Parmesan

We had half a bottle of tomato basil sauce in in the fridge & Matt asked me to make Chicken Parmesan this week. Boy, I haven't made this is such a long time & can't remember the last time I made it with real chicken & not a vegetarian "chicken' patty. I won't wait so long to make this again though. It was so tasty & really pretty easy. I loved the way the breading tasted on the chicken & how the cheese got brown & a little crispy. We served it with a small bed of whole wheat linguine & a side of zucchini sautéed with garlic, a perfect meal.
Baked Chicken Parmesan

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 low-fat mayo
3/4 c panko (or any other breadcrumb)
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t dried oregano
1/4 t dried basil
1 c tomato sauce
2 slices provolone cheese
1/8 c grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 F. Coat the bottom of a glass baking dish with a little oil. Pound your chicken breasts until they are even, you are not looking to make them really thin just even them out so they cook evenly. Dry the chicken with a towel. Coat the chicken breast completely with the mayo. Mix the breadcrumbs and spices together in a shallow bowl or plate. Dredge the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture & coat them completely. Place the breaded chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, spoon the tomato sauce over the chicken. Place one slice of provolone on each breast & then sprinkle with Parmesan. Baked for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & starting to brown & the chicken is cooked.

Makes 2 servings

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oyster-flavored Beef & Broccoli

Years ago my brother gave me a cookbook called Chinese One Dish Meals, I think he bought it at an Asian market in Duluth. When I was trying to think of menus for this week I rediscovered it in the cupboard. I've had pretty good success with it in the past though I have stayed clear of things like Pigsfeet in Soy Sauce & Meat in Ketchup Sauce. It's an odd book with everything written in Chinese & English. I can't figure out if its written for an English speaking audience with the Chinese in there to make it look more authentic, especially when I see recipes that suggest serving over a tortilla or pita instead of rice! It really doesn't matter though as I find the flavor I get from these recipes is closer to what I would get in a Chinese restaurant than any other I've tried.
Oyster-flavored Beef

1/2 lb lean beef, cut into 1"x2" slices
1 T soy sauce
1 T sherry
1 T cornstarch
4 T vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
6 slices ginger root, peeled
1/2 c water
1 1/2 T oyster sauce
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1/2 t sherry
2 t cornstarch
2 t sugar
few drops sesame oil
pinch of pepper
1 c mushrooms, whole of small or cut in half
1 c broccoli, blanched
1 carrot, sliced & blanched

Mix together 1 T soy sauce, 1 T sherry, 1 T cornstarch. Add meat and marinade for about 1/2 hour.
Mix together water, oyster sauce, 1 1/2 T soy sauce, 1/2 t sherry, 2 t cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil (careful it's got a strong flavor) and pepper in a bowl & set aside.
Heat 3 T oil in a preheated wok. Add onion & ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add 1 T oil to the meat mixture & put into wok, stir-fry just until the color changes. Stir in oyster sauce mixture & stir-fry over high heat until bubbly & starting to thicken. Add vegetables and stir-fry quickly until everything is hot & covered with sauce. Serve over hot rice.

Oh, & dessert was the leftover mango coulis & whipped cream served over poundcake.
Poundcake with Mango Coulis
I made a two serving poundcake loaf from Small-Batch Baking. Yummy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekly Menu - 4/14 - 4/18/08

Ok, enough with the sweets & on with this week's Menu Planning Monday!

Oyster Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry - RESULT - This is a dish I like to order out & this recipe comes really close to the flavor in a restaurant.
Baked Chicken Parmesan - Using some leftover tomato basil sauce. - RESULT - Wow, did this turn out good. We'll be adding this to the list of things we make over & over again.
Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup - Matt would have this every week.
Creamy chicken wild rice soup
Baked Sausage Pasta - Using homemade Italian sausage & leftover tomato vodka sauce. - RESULT - Cheesy sausage goodness!
BBQ Ribs & Sweet Potatoes - Going the cheaters route on this one & bought some ribs that just need to be heated.

This week's cupcake will be Swedish Lingonberry - RESULT - A really good cupcake, I especially liked the cardamom flavor in it, but the frosting was a problem.

As usual check back through the week for the recipes & results.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake

The minute I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen it was bookmarked in my recipes to try. Let me just say this is one killer dessert! The smell of the brown butter & toasted hazelnuts is enough to make you crazy, we were tempted to eat all the batter even before baking it.
Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake
This is a dense rich cake & then you add the chocolate draping sauce on top, heaven!
I made half of the recipe & baked it as 3 four-inch individual cakes. They only took 35 minutes to cook compared to the 50 of the original recipe.
I also didn't have enough hazelnuts so I substituted some blanched roast almonds & think you could do this whole cake with almonds if hazelnuts are hard to find or too expensive.
Next time we make it, there will be a next time, we might try it hot out of the oven with just a little sprinkled powdered sugar. If we make the draping sauce again we will add a little more cream to thin it out as it was quite thick.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Raspberry Angel Food Cupcakes with Cubby's Frosting

Growing up Cubby's Frosting was a standard on all birthday cakes in our house. (I think Cubby was my Dad's cousin.) This fluffy white frosting wasn't too sweet & was perfect with my favorite pink cake mix (to this day I'm not sure what flavor the cake was but it was pink). This week's cupcake was inspired by those birthday cakes.
Raspberry Angel Food Cupcakes with Cubby's Frosting

Raspberry Angel Food Cupcakes
(Adapted from Chockylit's Honey Chiffon Cake)

1/4 t salt
1 c + 1 T all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
3/4 t baking powder
3 T olive oil
2 T skim milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 c raspberry jam (or jelly with the seeds strained out)
4 egg whites
1/4 t cream of tarter
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c frozen raspberries, broken into small pieces
pink or red food coloring (optional)(the raspberry jam makes the cupcake a light brown color & we wanted pink)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 15 muffin tins.
Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer. Combine oil, milk, egg yolks, and jam in another bowl. Stir to combine. Start to beat the dry mixture on a low setting and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. Add the cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. Transfer the batter to the egg whites (if you are using food coloring add it at this point too) and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
Fill cupcake cups about 1/4 full, sprinkle with frozen raspberry pieces then add more batter until 1/2 full. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 15 cupcakes

Cubby's Frosting

5 T flour
1 c milk
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c shortening
1 c very fine granulated sugar (or 2 c powdered sugar)
2 t vanilla

In a saucepan over low heat cook flour while adding the milk slowly, stirring to form a paste. Remove from the heat & place in the fridge until evenly cooled.
Beat together butter, shortening & sugar. Add your cooled roux and the vanilla. Beat until smooth & fluffy.

As you can see Cubby's Frosting is a favorite with the next generation too.
#96 - David works through the frosting Chase & Cupcake

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cafeteria Food

This is the first week since January that we aren't posting the weekly menu. Matt's sister is here to visit Minnesota colleges so I am sampling the only the finest in cafeteria fare...
#98 - Cafeteria Food
I will be back later this week with our weekly cupcake, Raspberry Angel Food with Cubby's Frosting.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I think this might have been my best cupcake yet, well maybe its tied with the Lemon Blackberry Cupcakes. The cupcake itself came out very chocolaty & moist but not too pudding like. The Perfectly Chocolate Frosting came out smooth & shiny. The peanut butter added just the right enough of saltiness & had the great stick to the roof of your mouth feel. If you have kids make this one for them, they'll love it.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

1/2 c unsalted butter
1/4 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder
6 T water
1 c sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 t vanilla
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/8 t salt
3/4 c creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 12 muffin cups by lining with paper or greasing.
Melt butter in a large heavy sauce pan over med-low heat. Whisk in cocoa. Add water & whisk until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in separately sugar, egg, yogurt and vanilla. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt together then sift into cocoa mixture. Whisk until just combined. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Fill a pastry bag with the peanut butter & fit it with a star tip. Stick the tip into the top of a cupcake, pushing it about 3/4 inch deep (I found the perfect depth was the length of the tip). Gently squeeze the pastry bag to fill the cupcake, withdrawing it slowly as you squeeze. Scrape any excess peanut butter from the top of the cupcake. Fill all the cupcakes.
#92 - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Frost the cupcakes with Perfectly Chocolate Frosting.

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup dutch processes cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

About 2 cups frosting.

Top each cupcake with a star of peanut butter.

Curried Chicken Salad

Here's a little lunchtime bonus this week. The perfect use for that leftover roast chicken from Sunday. The sultanas & apple add sweetness while the almonds add a wonderful crunch. Of course its even better on homemade bread.
Curry Chicken Salad

1 apple, peeled & diced (I like something a little tart like a Granny Smith)
3 1/3 - 4 c cooked chicken, pulled into small pieces
1/2 c slivered almonds
3/4 mayo
2 t curry powder
1/4 c sultanas or raisins

Mix everything together.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

This recipe has been a favorite of mine for awhile. Its pretty easy to make & I can make just two servings easily. I also find by doubling the recipe it makes a nice party dish. It just seems a little fancier serving someone one of these rolls instead of a slice of lasagna. Also if you're like me & like it when the noodles get a little crispy on the edges in lasagna, every serving gets a little crispy this way.
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
I used jarred sauce but if you have time to make some homemade go for it!

1 cup pasta sauce
4 lasagna noodles (do not use the "no boil" noodles)
5 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed with all the liquid squeezed out
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
1/3 c part-skim ricotta
1/2 c grated mozzarella
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 c grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350.
Boil the noodles according to the directions on the package.
While the noodles are cooking mix the spinach, garlic, egg, ricotta, 1/4 c mozzarella, salt, pepper & nutmeg together.
Spoon 1/2 cup of pasta sauce over the bottom of a small baking dish, I find a loaf pan works well for this recipe.
When the noodles are done lay them out on a cutting board. I use a paper towel to blot some of the moisture off so the topping sticks better. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the four noodles.
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Roll the noodles up with the filling inside & place them seam side down on top of the sauce in the baking pan.
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Spoon a little of the remaining sauce over each roll. Then top with remaining mozzarella & Parmesan.
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbly & the cheese is melted & golden

Makes 4 rolls or 2 servings.

You can change up this filling in so many ways by adding things like sliced mushrooms, roasted red peppers or meat.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

As I think I've mentioned before I love risotto & its creamy comforting goodness. Its one of those things that you can really add anything you have in the cupboard to. For this risotto I used some asparagus I had leftover from last week & half a bag of frozen shrimp I had in the freezer from a curry awhile back. Matt was afraid the flavors of asparagus & shrimp wouldn't play well together but something told me they would be great. I was right. Neither overpowers the other but they compliment each other beautifully.
Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

2 1/2 c chicken broth or stock
1/4 c white wine or chicken broth
1 T unsalted butter
1/2 T olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 c Arborio rice
6 oz fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces. Reserve the tips separately.
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/2 T unsalted butter
2 T grated Parmesan

Bring broth to a simmer & keep it there through this process.
In a large, heavy saucepan melt butter & olive oil over medium heat. Add onion & garlic & cook until just translucent, do not brown. Add rice & stir to coat. Add the wine (or broth). Cook, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, until completely absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth and asparagus pieces (less the tips). Cook until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Keep adding broth 1/4 - 1/2 cup at a time in this manner, adding more as the last amount is absorbed. After 10 minutes of cooking add asparagus tips. Keep adding broth as before. After cooking 15 minutes add shrimp. Keep adding broth as before. When rice has absorbed all but 1/4 cup of the broth & is tender but still firm & the shrimp is pink remove from the heat, this should be about 5 minutes after adding the shrimp. Add remaining 1/4 cup broth, 1/2 T butter & Parmesan. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves 2
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Measurement Abbreviations

T = Tablespoon
t = teaspoon
c = cup
lb = pound
oz - ounce


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