Archive for August, 2010

Onesie Sugar Cookies for a Baby Shower

Here are a few photos of the sugar cookie favors I made for a baby shower.  These cookies were so much fun to decorate!  I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe and decorated the cookies with royal icing.  The onesie cookie cutter is from Michael’s, and the rattle cookie cutter is from Sur La Table.  Enjoy!

Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Frosting

In my opinion, coffee and chocolate are a match made in heaven.  I love all things coffee related, so when I saw these cute cupcakes on the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog, I just knew I had to make them.  According to my #1 taste tester, these cupcakes were “freaking awesome.”  The cupcakes were chocolaty with a hint of creamy coffee flavor.  They were extremely fluffy, and so tasty (trust me, I just devoured one :) ).  The frosting was velvety, creamy, sweet, and deliciously coffee flavored.  I garnished the cupcakes with a few chocolate sprinkles, but I think a chocolate covered espresso bean would also be a fabulous (and yummy!) topper for them.  Even if you aren’t a fan of coffee, you will love these cupcakes!  Enjoy!

Mocha Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1½ teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature

Directions

  1. Mix the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until dissolved; set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
  4. Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, brewed coffee mixture and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting cupcakes.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Source: Brown Eyed Baker Blog, Originally adapted from My Baking Addiction

Note: I made the cupcakes the day before I made the frosting.  After the cupcakes had cooled, I stored them in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.

Espresso Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons espresso powder

Directions

  1. Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.
  2. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two.
  4. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.

Yield: Enough to frost 12 cupcakes

Notes:

  • Do not skimp on the whipping of the frosting.  It may seem like a lot, but it really does give the frosting a wonderful fluffy, silky, & delicious texture!
  • I stored the leftover frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  They kept very well this way!  Before serving, let them come to room temperature for 30-45 minutes.

Source: Brown Eyed Baker Blog

French Green Beans

In my opinion, no dinner is complete without some sort of vegetable component.  The great thing about vegetables is that there are so many different varieties and countless ways to prepare them.  This recipe combines two of my favorite cooking methods: roasting and sautéing.  The peppers and onions are roasted in the oven, and the green beans are blanched in boiling water and then sautéed in a little olive oil.  After all the veggies are cooked, they are combined to create a delicious and colorful side dish.  Enjoy!

French Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound French string beans, both ends removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, large diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, large diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for just 4 minutes.  Drain immediately and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  When they are cool, drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl toss the onion and bell peppers together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, tossing with a spatula from time to time to be sure the vegetables roast evenly.
  4. Just before serving, reheat the string beans in a large sauté pan drizzled with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on a platter.  Spoon the roasted vegetables over the string beans and serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves: 6

Source: Barefoot in Paris Cookbook, by Ina Garten

Saucy Italian Orzo

Saucy Italian Orzo

This is a great recipe for a weeknight meal because it’s easy to make and most of the ingredients are common pantry staples.  It’s packed full of flavor, and the spinach provides a healthy dose of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.  Each serving contains just 340 calories, and it’s low in fat and high in protein.  It only takes 30 minutes to make, and the leftovers are great the next day.  Enjoy!

Saucy Italian Orzo

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (or ½ lb. ground beef & ½ lb. Italian sausage)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes with basil, oregano & garlic
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, orzo and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until orzo is tender. Add spinach; cook and stir until spinach is wilted.

Serves: 6

Source: Taste of Home Simple & Delicious Magazine, January/February 2010

Italian Sausage Skewers

These Italian sausage skewers are the perfect little appetizer.  Each toothpick contains a bite-sized piece of sausage, a strip of basil, a kalamata olive, and a mini tomato.  The combination of these 4 colorful ingredients makes for a delicious bite, and the flavors work really well together.  They are fun and easy to make, and can be prepared a few hours ahead of time, so they are great for a party.  I used sun-dried tomato and mozzarella flavored sausage when I made them, which was a huge hit.  Enjoy!

Italian Sausage Skewers

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Italian style sausage (I like Aidell’s brand)
  • 8 large basil leaves
  • 12 pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 24 grape tomatoes
  • 24 toothpicks

Directions

  1. Cook the sausage according to the directions on the package.  Slice the sausage into bite-sized pieces (I sliced them into ½ inch rounds & then sliced each round in half).  Cut the basil leaves lengthwise into thirds.
  2. Slide a grape tomato onto a toothpick, followed by a kalamata olive. Then add a strip of basil, folding so it fits nicely on the toothpick.  Then add a piece of the cooked sausage.  Position everything on the end of the toothpick so the toothpick can stand up on its sausage end.

Note: This appetizer can be prepared several hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Serves: 6 (each serving is 4 pieces)

Source: Slightly adapted from The Food You Crave Cookbook, by Ellie Krieger

White Wine Sangria

White Wine Sangria

If you are a wine enthusiast like me, then you will love sangria.  While I do enjoy the occasional cocktail or beer, wine has always been my beverage of choice.  Sangria is a fun twist on wine, and it’s the perfect fruity summer drink.  It’s been on my “to make” list for quite some time, so when my family came over for dinner last weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to mix up a pitcher of sangria.  Everyone loved it, including my younger brother who doesn’t even like wine very much!

Since this was my first time making sangria, I searched around on the Food Network’s website for a recipe that looked good.  During my search, I found that there are many ways to make sangria.  Many of the recipes I skimmed through called for the addition of brandy or other liqueurs, but I wanted a recipe that only had wine as the alcoholic component (I wanted this to be a simple and light drink… nothing too boozy!)  The recipe I chose has apple juice in it, which went very well with the white wine.  Another fun thing about sangria is that you get to eat the yummy fruit after it has soaked up all of the juice– everyone agreed that the grapes were their favorite.  I’m so glad I discovered this refreshing drink!

White Wine Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle white wine (such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc)
  • ¼ cup super fine sugar
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 small Golden Delicious apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 (12-ounce) can seltzer water
  • Ice cubes

Directions

  1. In a large pitcher combine the wine and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the seltzer and ice cubes, and stir to mix well.  Put the pitcher in the refrigerator and let the sangria sit for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
  3. Just before serving, stir in the seltzer and ice cubes.

Source: Adapted from the Food Network, Brian Boitano

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Last weekend I had a delicious chocolate cupcake from Sprinkles bakery and it inspired me to bake my own chocolate cupcakes.  This was my first time making chocolate cupcakes from scratch, and I’m very happy with how they turned out!  As a home baker, I like to have a collection of reliable, “go-to” recipes for certain common baked goods (including chocolate chip cookies, various cake/cupcake flavors, pie crusts, and sugar cookies).  Sometimes I have to try multiple recipes to find exactly what I’m looking for (I tried at least 5 sugar cookie recipes before settling on the one that I now call my favorite), so I consider myself lucky to have found this fabulous chocolate cupcake recipe on the first try.  I will definitely be making these cupcakes again in the near future!

The cupcakes were really moist and fluffy and had just the right amount of sweetness and chocolaty flavor.  The batter was super easy to mix up with just a wire whisk — no mixer required!  I made these cupcakes for a family dinner last weekend and everyone really loved them.  I frosted the cupcakes with a simple chocolate buttercream frosting that I whipped up in my stand mixer.  The addition of melted chocolate and a little milk gave the frosting a nice glossy sheen.  Like the cupcakes, the frosting had just the perfect amount of sweetness and chocolate flavor, and it complemented the cupcakes very well.  Try these cupcakes- you won’t be disappointed!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ cup whole milk plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 12 cupcake molds or muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter.  Then whisk in the dry ingredients.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tin, filling each about three-quarters full.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove the cupcakes from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

Source: All Recipes

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup + 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute).  Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Add the melted chocolate and 1 tablespoon of milk and beat on low speed until incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is smooth and glossy, about 2-3 minutes.  (If frosting is too thick, add another tablespoon of milk and beat until desired consistency is reached.)

Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking


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