Monday, September 30, 2013

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

These are the cupcakes I made myself for my birthday. :) I tried a new chocolate cupcake recipe that I really liked. The batter was very thick, but the cupcakes turned out moist. They also had a nice shape after I baked them. It's an interesting recipe because you let the batter sit for at least an hour, so make sure you leave time for that. I refrigerated mine for about 6 hours. I immediately put it into a cupcake tin and baked it. I got the idea for the frosting from a cookbook and just used store bought caramel ice cream topping instead of making my own caramel. I added a tiny sprinkle of coarse sea salt on the top and tada! I loved the end result! My brother and SIL were visiting and the cupcakes got their approval too. :)

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1. In a heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa powder.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the granulated sugar, butter, and water, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
3. Whisk the milk, egg, extra yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until combined.
4. In a bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until blended. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 1 hour or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
6. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Set on a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Salted Caramel Frosting
adapted from The Cupcake Diaries
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping plus additional for drizzling (I used Smuckers in the jar)
Coarse sea salt for garnish

1. Add butter, powdered sugar, milk, salt, and 1/2 cup caramel topping to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high until light and airy.
2. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Drizzle with a little caramel topping. Sprinkle each cupcake with just a dash of coarse sea salt.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Oreo Cupcakes

We are very big Oreo fans, and these cupcakes are pretty amazing. I've made Oreo cupcakes before and had hoped to post them, but they weren't quite what I had wanted. I did a little recipe research and decided to make these yesterday and they are definitely winners. This is a dense cupcake, which I LOVE! I had some double stuf Oreos that I bought accidentally so I ended up using some of those. The original recipe has the crushed Oreos sprinkled on the top, but I mixed mine in the frosting. In the recipe process, it seemed kind of strange to me to cream the butter and add the milk and vanilla instead of the sugar. The butter and milk just don't mix very well together, but you end up beating everything at the end for a few minutes so it doesn't really matter. After they bake, they'll be just below the tops of the papers, but look amazing after you pipe on the frosting,

Oreo Cupcakes
adapted from
1 pkg Oreo Cookies (36 cookies)
2 1/4 cups flour, plus 2 TBSP for the Oreo chunks
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Insert 24 liners into tins.
2. Twist apart 24 Oreos. Place the wafer with filling on it, filling side up, in the bottom of each paper liner. Cut other wafers in half. Save 24 halves to place in the frosting. Crush the other wafer halves to mix into frosting. Set aside.
3. Cut the remaining 12 Oreo cookies into quarters with a sharp knife. Toss with 2 TBSP flour and set aside.
4. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and mix to combine.
6. Add the dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until integrated. Stir in sugar. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg whites. Beat for 2 more minutes. Stir in the quartered cookies.
7. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full (I use a large scoop that holds 3 TBSPs.) Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely in the pan.

Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 butter at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
2 tsps vanilla
7 cups powdered sugar
2 TBSPs milk
1/2 cup crushed Oreo wafers

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer. Beat on medium-high until completely smooth, 3-4 minutes. Add the butter and shortening and continue to cream until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar and mix until incorporated, scraping down sides as needed. Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. Mix in reserved crushed Oreos. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes and top with 1/2 Oreo wafer.

Note to self: After making these for a 2nd time I changed the amount of cookies inside the batter. A 14.3oz. pkg of oreos has 36 cookies. Original recipe called for 45 cookies which I guess is a family size pack? 12 oreos quartered is enough though. *2/6/16 Changed frosting recipe to add shortening. MUCH BETTER.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits

I have been looking for a good fluffy biscuit recipe for awhile now. I have tried many that turn out like rocks. These are fluffy and buttery and I loved them! We had them with eggs, bacon, and gravy for a meal. Then the next day I had one for my lunch (yes) with homemade jam...YUM! Just typing this makes me want to go bake some more. I followed the original recipe almost exactly, except I used regular flour, baking powder, and upped the salt, instead of using self rising flour because I don't really ever buy it. I used a grater to shred my cold butter and it worked really well. My biscuit cutter is 2 1/2 inches and I got almost 8 full sized biscuits from the recipe. I recommend checking your biscuits at 10 minutes, but baking till golden. It was about 15 minutes for me.

Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits
adapted from
2 cups flour
3 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
5 TBSPs cold butter, cut into cubes (or use a cheese grater)
2 TBSPs cold shortening
1 cup cold buttermilk, plus an extra 3 TBSP if needed
2 TBSP melted butter for brushing on top

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper, silpat, or aluminum foil, dull side up.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together until combined. With a fork or pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until each piece is coated and the size of small peas. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in one cup of the buttermilk. Gently mix it around until it's combined. If the dough doesn't look wet, add in the extra 3 TBSPs of buttermilk to moisten it. You don't want it runny, just visibly moist.
3. Flour your surface and gently place your dough on top. Dust the top of the wet dough with a little more flour ensuring that your fingers don't stick into the dough. Bring the dough together with your hands, gently, for about 10 seconds. Flatten into a 1- 1 ½ inch thick circle. Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter (I used a 2½ inch). Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps the edges of the biscuit and hinders rising.
4. Place each biscuit on the lined baking sheet, so that the sides are barely touching. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter.

 Dough should look a little wet.

 I got 7 biscuits and 1 runt from the recipe.

 Ready to eat!

 Fluffy Insides

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lemon Angel Hair with Chicken and Spinach

This recipe has lots of lemon flavor! It fed my family of 6 with just a tiny bit leftover. The original recipe calls for angel hair pasta, but you could actually use any type of pasta that you like. I used the perfect chicken recipe for the chicken in this dish, and I think that it added a lot to the flavor. You get tart lemon, creamy sauce, and salty chicken and it all tastes amazing together. Also, the spinach makes it healthy, right? :)

Lemon Angel Hair with Chicken and Spinach
adapted from therecipecrayonbox.blogspot
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2-2 cups cooked chopped chicken (or Perfect Chicken)
2 lemons, zested and juiced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 cup Parmesan, shredded (divided)
1 cup baby spinach, stems removed
3 TBSPs extra virgin olive oil

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water well, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over low heat. Add oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Cook until the oil sizzles (about 7-10 minutes). Add lemon juice, half-and-half, and 1/4 cup of pasta water to the garlic oil mixture. Raise the heat to medium and heat until the sauce begins to bubble.
3. Add the pasta, zest, and 1/2 cup Parmesan to the cream sauce. Toss for a minute or two. Add chicken and spinach, and toss until well distributed. Top with remaining cheese.

Perfect Chicken

This is one of those recipes I pinned and have been wanting to make. It's pretty darn good! I doubled the original recipe because I have 6 people in my family, so 2-4 chicken breasts wasn't going to cut it. If your chicken breasts are on the large size, you can cut them in half. You might even want to pound them a little with a tenderizer to make them even in thickness. I usually use frozen breasts, which is what I did in these pics. I just thawed them in the microwave and then followed the directions. Also, I don't have a dutch oven, so I just cooked them in a frying pan and transferred them to a baking dish. The whole reason I made this chicken in the first place was to try this recipe here. We liked it so much I wanted to try the chicken on it's own, and it really is good. In this pic I also make my homemade rice-a-roni. I cooked the rice in the pan I browned the chicken in, which added more flavor to the rice.

Perfect Chicken
adapted from
4-8 boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
2-3 TBSPs olive oil (I used canola)

1. Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the seasoning, rubbing in to coat.
 2. Pour oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven, and heat to med-high. When nice and hot, add chicken to the pan (in batches if necessary). Cook 2-3 min per side. If any chicken has been removed, add it back to the Dutch oven. Place uncovered Dutch oven in a 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until juices run clear. Let sit on a plate 5-10 minutes before cutting, shredding, or eating.