Friday, June 22, 2012

Chocolate Waffles

We all know of my love for chocolate and how I will jump on any chance to eat it for breakfast. These were actually inspired by their main ingredient though: Chocolate Syrup. 

When we got married, we had ice cream sundays and root beer floats as the treat at our reception. Because of this, we have been swimming in chocolate syrup ever since. In an effort to use as much of it as possible before it is no longer good, we use it whenever possible. There are only so many times you can have it over ice cream before it begins to get old. This recipe uses 1/2 cup plus some for drizzling! Score.

On the plus side, these tasted very good. And they store well too - freeze any extras then pop them in the toaster like you would an ego waffle and have chocolate for breakfast whenever you want!

Yield: 4-6 servings

6 tbsp coconut oil (or butter or shortening)
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate syrup, plus more for drizzling
1/2 tsp vanilla
Powdered sugar and fruit for topping (optional)

Preheat a waffle iron. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, milk, chocolate syrup, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine (batter will be slightly lumpy). Add the coconut oil and whisk until combined. Put 1/3-1/2 cup of batter onto the waffle iron, depending on size, and cook until crisp. Continue with all the batter. Top with chocolate syrup, powdered sugar, and fruit if desired.

Source: slightly adapted from Derek's Chocolate Waffles, Food Network Magazine, March 2012, page 61

Monday, June 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

I stopped by the store the other day on my way home from work for something I can't remember. Maybe chocolate ice cream? Milk? Those are generally the only things that warrant a special trip to the store. All of this is besides the point though because that trip to the store turned out being very successful for one reason: Better Home and Gardens Special Interest Productions Cupcake Edition - Second Printing. That is the long way of saying that I found a magazine completely dedicated to cupcakes. 

Basically it is cupcake heaven. There are different sections dedicated to different types of cupcakes and it includes special ways to decorate. I. Am. In. Love. 

I decided that these Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes would be the first of many to be made out of recipes found in that book.

Side note: this was the first time I have ever swirled frosting. With a little help from Hunter, it was very successful in my book! 

Enjoy some chocolaty peanut butter goodness!

Yield: 34-36 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
4 oz chocolate, melted

8 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
Milk, up to 3 tbsp
4 oz chocolate, melted

Peanut butter cups for decoration (optional)

Line muffin pans with paper baking cups. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add peanut butter and beat until combined. Gradually add brown sugar and sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until combined and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition.

Place half of the batter in a separate mixing bowl and add the melted chocolate. Mix on low speed until combined.

Fill the prepared muffin cups by alternating spoonfuls of peanut butter batter and chocolate batter, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Use a butter knife to swirl the batter in each cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Add milk, 1 tsp at a time, until frosting reaches piping consistency. Divide frosting into two portions and add melted chocolate to one half. If necessary, add in additional milk or powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

To frost, spoon peanut butter frosting into one side of the piping bag and chocolate into the other so the two frosting's are side by side. Pipe frosting's in swirls onto cupcakes. Top with shaved peanut butter cups.

Source: slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Edition: Cupcakes, Second Printing Page 27

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Avocado Spinach Pesto Pasta with Lemon Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Two of my favorite things are avocados and pesto. Combine them into one? Yes PLEASE! I loved this dish. The pesto flavor wasn't overpowering and the avocado added the perfect amount of depth and creaminess.

I am trying my hardest to make full meals instead of just part...old me would have made the pasta and called it good. But, the new more complete planner that I am tryng to become decided chicken would be a nice addition. I am glad I included it. It not only made it more well rounded, but added a flavor punch all it's own.

Yield: 4-6 servings

For the Pasta:
12 oz linguine
1/4 cup almonds
1 avocado, seeded
2 cups spinach
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp olive oil

For the Chicken:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp lemon zest
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

Place the almonds in a food processor. Pulse until small crumbs. Add the flesh from the avocado, spinach, basil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and continue blending. This will help to thin it up a little. Stir in the parmesan, using a spoon, not the food processor.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pesto mixture to pasta, toss to coat evenly.

Combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and lemon zest. Cover the chicken breasts in lemon juice. Dip into the bread crumb mixture and completely coat.

Warm olive oil in a skillet. Place crumb coated chicken in the skillet and cook though, turning occasionally. Serve warm.

Source: pesto adapted from Me versus Martha, chicken Tasty Tiff Original

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lemon (or Lime) Bars

You may have noticed a lack in baked goods lately. Here is my reasoning: all I want to bake are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies. I have desparately been trying to think of things to bake, but nothing compares. I have no desire for baked goods that aren't these brownies. However; I think I may have found something in these Lemon bars that will snap me out of my trance. These were oh soooo good. I just wanted to eat one more...then just one get the picture. This reaction is similar to the one I had with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies so maybe, just maybe, I will resume baking things here sometime soon.

Whoever gave lemon curd it's name should have been a little more creative. Curd just doesn't sound good and doesn't nearly do justice to how it tastes. So, if anyone knows of another name I would love to hear it because I reeeeally don't like calling this divine lemon topping curd.

A couple notes:
1.) I made both a Meyer Lemon and a lime version. Did you know that a Meyer Lemon is a cross between a Mandarin Orange and a Lemon? I learned that when I made these. Anyway, back on topic...both worked beautifully. I imagine it would also work really well with normal lemon, it would just be more tart.
2.) Don't slice your finger open when they are covered in lime juice. I promise you that it doesn't feel good.
3.) Enjoy!

Yield: 9-12 bars

For the Crust:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Filling:
3 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon (or lime) juice, strained (about 8 lemons)
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp grated Meyer lemon (or lime) zest

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan.

To make the crust combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Mix in the butter using a food processor, pastry cutter, or two forks until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden and feels firm when lightly touched. Set aside and reduce the heat to 325 degrees.

To make the filling, in the top of a double broiler, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolk, lemon juice, and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Place over (but not touching) barely simmering water and add the butter pieces. Using a large spoon, stir constantly until the butter melts and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 12 minutes (if you have a thermometer, it should register 160 degrees). Remove from the water and strain the lemon curd through a medium-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and let cool for 10 minutes. Pour over the baked crust.

Bake until the center is just set, 13-17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes then cover and redrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. The filling will further thicken as it cools.

If desired, sift a thick layer of powdered sugar over the top of the bars. Cut into squares and serve.

Note: the sugar tends to melt if stored, so it is best not to use it if you will not be serving them the same day.

Source: Essentials of Baking, Revised Edition, Williams Sonoma, page 55

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

A couple weeks ago Hunter woke up with a craving for cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, time was not such that I could satisfy that craving. However, as I was browsing Food Gawker later that day, I stumbled upon these guys.

Since I still wasn't really in a bread baking mood, I thought this was a perfect compromise. Cinnamon rolls that are easy to make as a muffin. Somebody in the food world knew that I was in need.

The taste isn't 100% cinnamon roll, but they come very close. We were both very pleased with how these turned out - sweet, moist, and perfectly cinnamon-ny (is that even a word?). 

So, if the craving for cinnamon rolls ever strikes and you just aren't feeling the whole yeast-take-forever-15-steps thing, make yourself some cinnamon roll muffins. You won't be sorry.

Yield: 12 muffins

For the Muffins:
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter
1 cup milk

About 1/4 cup cinnamon/sugar mix (it can be as cinnamon-ny or sugary as you like)
2 tbsp butter, melted

1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray (I chose this option).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or food processor or two forks or your fingers) cut in the cold butter until about the size of peas. Add milk and stir until a sticky dough forms.

On a well floured surface, knead the dough 8-10 times. Roll out a rectangle about 12 inches in length - warning your dough will be sticky so don't be shy with the flour on your hands or the counter. Pour the melted butter over the dough and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar mix. Be careful not to get too close to the ends.

Carefully roll one side of the dough to the other, creating a log. Using a knife or thread (or floss in my case) cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Place in piece in the muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, mix a tiny bit of milk into the powdered sugar. Gradually add more, about 1 tsp at a time until it reaches the consistency of icing. Drizzle over the muffins.

Source: adapted from She Bakes Here, found on Food Gawker

Monday, June 4, 2012

Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce and Spinach

I seem to menu plan in themes. Last time I planned our two week menu, it was all Asian themed. The time before that, all Mexican. Up to this point, none of this has been on purpose - however, I will be far more aware of this trend now that I have noticed. Our menu is mostly based on a combination of recipes I want to try and what I am in the mood for. I won't make anything I don't currently feel like eating.

As you can tell from this recipe, I am currently cooking all things Italian. I was doubly excited about this recipe because not only does it look and sound yummy, I also had some Greek yogurt that I needed to use up.

And now for a confession: I never actually buy garlic cloves. I buy the big jar of pre-minced garlic. Needless to say, I never know exactly how many garlic cloves I am putting in, I just wing it. But, let's be honest, I'm not always super consistent at measuring when it comes to cooking anyways. 

Yield: 6-8 Servings

1 lb pasta of your choice (I chose penne)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.), chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 cups fresh spinach
1 lb ground hot Italian sausage
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Cook the ground Italian Sausage, drain, and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until garlic begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add in mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat and add in the cooked Italian sausage. Continue cooking for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the spinach, and cover the skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and add in the Greek yogurt, marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese and stir until well blended. Add the pasta. Stir until the noodles are coated.

Source: adapted from Back to her Roots

Friday, June 1, 2012

Monterey Chicken

Anything that gets the response "this is one of the best things you have made" is a keeper in my book. That was my husband's response when I fed him this for dinner. I served it with Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes, just for a complete reference to that response. As it happens, I liked this a lot as well. It will definitely be something that is made again.

Chalk another point up to Pinterest. As much as I fought against signing up, I am glad my sister convinced me. It has helped me in more areas than just the kitchen.

Anyway, if you need a yummy idea for Sunday dinner (or any other day of the week really) don't count this out. It is bursting with flavor and sure to please.

Yield: 4 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine were massive so I cut 2 in half and it worked perfectly)
1/4 cup bbq sauce
1 14 oz. can Rotel tomatoes, drained (canned with green chilies added)
1/4 cup bacon bits
1 cup colby jack cheese, shredded
sliced green onions
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pound out chicken breasts to flatten. Season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken until no long pink (I just used a frying pan on the stove, but an actual grill would add another wonderful element I am sure) and place on baking sheet covered with foil. Top each chicken breast with one tbsp bbq, 1/4 cup tomatoes, one tbsp of bacon bits, green onions, 1/4 cup cheese. Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).

Source: slightly adapted from All Things Simple, found on Pinterest