Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Recipe Review- If you like pumpkin this is the cupcake for you.

Optional game: Take a drink for every time I say "Pumpkin" in this post. (Disclaimer: you really probably shouldn't do this. Drinking that much would be hazardous to the safety of any baked goods. Do not operate an oven while under the influence of alcohol)

Oh yea its pumpkin time. I literally just can't get enough of everything pumpkin so it wasn't good enough to make just pumpkin cupcakes- I made pumpkin cupcakes, with pumpkin pie filling, and pumpkin cream cheese frosting. That's a whole lotta pumpkin- and that's the way I like it.

I already knew I would be making pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin frosting (super easy, you just sub some canned pumpkin for some of the wet ingredients in your recipes. I will share mine at the end of the post) but gee that just wasn't enough. I briefly debated filling them with pumpkin mousse since I had good results from the chocolate mousse filled cupcakes that I made the week before. I don't know that just didn't seem special enough. I took a page from who used pumpkin pie filling as frosting, but instead I used it to fill the cupcakes. I had limited time to make these so I used a store bought pie and scooped the filling out. A quick turn in the mixer and my pumpkin pie filling was ready!

Pumpkin Cupcakes
adapted from "I like You: Hospitality Under the Influence" by Amy Sedaris 
yield: 24 cupcakes

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, salt, and baking powder. Add flour in three batches, alternating with the milk. Add pumpkin and mix until batter is smooth with no lumps, but do not over beat. 

Divide batter evenly among cups, and bake for 18- 20 minutes or until tops are just golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on rack to room temperature before frosting.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
yield: frosts 24 cupcakes and then some

8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla.

Mix in powdered sugar a little at a time, gradually increasing speed until desired consistency is reached.

printable recipe 

I brought these to a pumpkin carving party that a friend hosted and they were quickly gobbled up! We carved pumpkins and then toasted the seeds and ate all sorts of pumpkin treats. Here are our jack-o-lanterns!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

PS-Just in case you were playing- you should have drank 22 times. I hope you weren't doing shots. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brownie Stuffed Cookies

Recipe Review: woah. 

When I saw these on Bakerella I seriously had a small heart attack. How simple and genius and I had never seen it before. Why on earth haven't people been stuffing cookies all along?

Bakerella called these "pillow cookies" and made them jumbo sized. I did this at first, and while they tasted AMAZING I didn't like that they were oversized, and they didn't look aesthetically pleasing. I played around with different batches and different ways to combine the brownies and cookie dough before coming up with something that I liked.

Eventually I devised a way to make the cookies just about normal sized, with a bite of brownie in the middle. In person the cookies have noticable bump in the middle so you can tell that there is something in them- for whatever reason the photo doesn't relaly represent that, so I just wanted to warn you ahead of time that it's normal!

How to make brownie stuffed cookies

1. Bake some brownies.
  • I used fudge brownie mix- not really sure what kind, whatever was on sale. Use your favorite! You don't want the brownies to be too thick so be sure to bake them in an 13x9 pan. Be sure not to overbake them- they're gonna go in the oven again with the cookies, so if they are on the slightly underdone side its ok.
2. Make your cookie dough.
  • I've been baking chocolate chip cookies using the recipie on the back of the Nestle chocolate chip morsels bag since I was a kid. I never change it. My tips however are to let your butter soften to room temperature rather than microwaving it. The butter's temperature and consistancy makes a big difference in how the cookies turn out. Also bake the cookies on parchment paper, and always start with a cool baking pan or the cookies will spread too much and turn out thin.

3. Assemble cookie/brownie stacks.
  • Use a 1inch circle cookie cutter to cut out brownie circles. Scoop cookie dough into balls using a dough scoop.  Pinch a little bit of dough into a pea sized ball. Squish the brownie down a little to compress, but don't flatten completely. Stack ball of cookie dough directly on top, smoosh the cookie dough down on to brownie to get it to stick. You'll want the cookie to be directly on top because if it is off center the ball of dough will fall off in the oven. Flatten the pea sized dough and use it to stick the brownie to the sheet. 

4. Bake according to your cookie recipe, cool, and enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

BBQ Pulled Seitan with Maple Slaw

Recipe Review: Saucy and Tangy and full of flavor and protein, I didn't miss the meat!

This past weekend my good friend from high school visited San Diego to compete in a Triathlon. She chose to do the SheRox triathlon and raise money for ovarian cancer research in honor of her mother who is a survivor. Erica's mom and I went to the triathlon to cheer her on- and she did awesome! The Tri was an all women's race, and there were participants from ages 9 to 70. It was incredibly inspirational to see all the women out there racing for this cause, and all the people there supporting them.  Its actually not too late to donate! If you are interested in making a donation or want to know more check out Erica's fundraising page here.

Once the race was over she stayed with me for a few days and we got some serious eating of yummy things done. Erica is a vegetarian and opts for vegan whenever possible. I was stressed about finding vegan options for her, but turns out some of my favorite restaurants had some really great vegan options. We had breakfast (and mimosas) at The Naked Cafe, some awesome eggplant enchiladas at Ranchos Cocina, and the most incredible Ethiopian food from Muzita Abyssinian Bistro that we ate entirely with our hands.

For a long time (7 years!) I didn't eat any meat, but I ate fish so I had never learned to cook things like tofu, or veggie proteins. (I was also in high school/college so mom or the dining hall was the one doing the cooking anyways.) I fell off the wagon at the end of my spring semester freshmen year. I was sick all the time and started getting nosebleeds. Probably because I was eating a steady diet of grilled cheese, tuna sandwiches, beer, and not much else. I never went back to being veggie, but I'm totally open to meatless meals, and prefer fish over meat.

We cooked at home one night and made BBQ pulled seitan sandwiches with maple broccoli slaw. I had never tried a meat substitute other than tofu (which I don't like the texture of) so I was a little dubious. The seitan was packed in water, and once drained looked a lot like chicken. Plain and uncooked it tasted like bread, but with a more meat like texture. Also the seitan was more dense than tofu, which I liked. The meal was easy to make and really tasty. We bought most of the ingredients at Trader Joe's, with a quick side trip to Henry's Sprouts for the Seitan.

BBQ Pulled Seitan
serves 4

2 packages chicken style seitan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red bell pepper
1 small orange bell pepper
1 medium onion, diced
18oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
4 onion buns

12 oz package of your choice:
Broccoli or Cabbage Slaw
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1.4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Prepare the slaw first so it has some time for the flavors to soak in. In a medium bowl combine all Slaw ingredients. Toss well and refrigerate. 

Dice bell peppers, and onion and sauté in olive oil over medium heat 10 minutes until soft and fragrant.
Drain seitan and chop coarsely into strips. Add seitan and barbecue sauce to pan. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the sauce has absorbed.

Toast buns and top with seitan and slaw. Serve immediately.

printable recipe

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicken Stew

Recipe Review: Home cooking- just like mom made. This is my comfort food. 

A bunch of times I've blogged about making recipes that we had when I was a kid. We had our staples, chicken and rice casserole, pumpkin cookies, my dads chili, but nothing is a more quintessential childhood food for me than chicken stew with parsley dumplings. It screams cold weather, home cooking, hearty comfort food. When I was a kid we never added potatoes and instead served this over rice. I skipped the dumplings this time because I was feeling lazy but they are super yum, and absorb all the rich flavors of the stew.

Chicken Stew with Dumplings
yield: 8 servings

6 cups chicken stock
5 chicken breasts, cubed
salt & pepper
3 cups carrots, sliced
3 cups celery, sliced
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
3 red potatoes, cubed
2/3 c flour
1 cup cold water

1 1/3 cups milk
4 cups bisquick
2 tablespoons parsley

Put chicken, stock, onion, salt and pepper in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 30 minutes.

Add carrots and potatoes, simmer 10 minutes.

Mix flour and water in a small bowl. Stir flour mixture and celery into chicken mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened.

In a medium bowl mix bisquick, milk and parsley until a soft dough forms. drop by spoonfuls onto boiling stew. Lower head and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat 10-15 minutes longer.

printable recipe

This always tastes about a hundred times better the second day, so don't judge it too harshly at first. Actually if you're ambitious make this a day ahead, but quit before the dumplings. Reheat the next day and cook the dumplings.

So I'm finally caught up with blogging! Much less idle time with the new job (which is a really good thing.) I can't believe that October is already half way over. This year has completely flown by.  I got a new issue of Fine Cooking recently and the cover story was Thanksgiving! I realized that by blogging almost every single thing that I cooked for thanksgiving last year I was setting myself up to not have anything to blog this year! I'm pretty strict with what goes on my plate at thanksgiving and don't really like to change it up. The traditional dishes are what I really love. I'll have to try some inventive desserts or appetizers this year so that I have something to write about!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting Crafty

Last month I did some cupcakes for a nautical themed baby shower. My friend Deana was organizing and she commissioned the cupcakes, and informed me that she had found the cutest cupcake toppers on Etsy. Sure enough the toppers were adorable, but the first thought that came to my mind was "I could make those" 

So without further ado- I'm delighted to introduce my Etsy shop:
stop in and get some cupcake toppers! I just finished a bunch of halloween designs:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sicilian Seafood Stew

Recipe Review: Savory Seafood Stew with classic Italian flavors

It's Fall. I know this not from the calendar, or the weather (It was around 75 last weekend) but because I'm craving soups and stews. I haven't had this in years but suddenly I had a really intense craving for the seafood stew my mom used to make. It has the most amazing flavor, the oregano and the peppers give it a really unique taste that's hard for me to describe. (I know I know that was really helpful) Its not "fishy" at all, rather it's savory. I get really nervous putting clam juice into things because it smells so fishy out of the bottle, but don't be scared! I know this isn't the best photo- but this stuff is so good! (you try photographing seafood stew and making it look yummy- no easy task) Its pretty hearty on its own, but a side of french bread is nice so you have something to soak up the extra liquid with.
Sicilian Seafood Stew
yield: 4-6 servings
source: my mom

1 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup celery, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
large pinch of crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram of 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
16 oz bottled clam juice
1 29 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup red wine
1/3 lb scallops, rinsed
1/3 lb shelled raw shrimp
1/3 lb white fish, cubed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon capers

In a large soup over medium high heat pot saute onions in olive oil for 2 minutes.

Add celery, red and green peppers and saute for 2 minutes

Stir in garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, basil and marjoram. Lower the heat, over and cook for 2 minutes.

Add clam juice, tomatoes, and wine. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add seafood and cook for about 4 minutes until scallops are no longer opaque and the shrimp are just pink.

Stir in lemon juice and season with black pepper to taste

Top each serving with capers and serve.

printable recipe

This is a classic family recipe that I grew up eating. My mom got the recipe from a coworker- so the original source is unknown. I added some white fish which is something my mom didn't do but its a bit more economical than shrimp and scallops. Next time Kevin wants to try throwing in some mussels and making it more of a cioppino. Happy Fall! soups and stews, hot tea, PUMPKIN (!!!!) ahh I love this seaon.