Friday, November 4, 2011

Carrot Cake Comparison

Today, I am honored to be recognized by a fellow food blogger, Jen of The Beantown Baker. She's included me in her (fabulous) Friday Favs series!  Hop on over to her blog to see the results of my carrot cake comparison!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chipotle Salsa Turkey Burgers

Whew! It's time to dust off the cobwebs around here. We've had a busy summer and I took some time to focus on my family, friends, and home. I'm excited to get back to blogging again, especially with fall just around the corner and a new season of Glee and Glee Cupcakes!

Part of the reason for the slow down around here is that I wasn't really making new recipes. To keep things simple in the kitchen, I fell back on things I've made before and knew we loved. This recipe is one that I made many times over this summer. The inspiration came one day when there were a few odd ingredients in the fridge that needed to be used up. This is one of those recipes that, now, I can skip the recipe card and go based on memory - and I love that!

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These turkey burgers are a great choice when you are looking for something different than your run-of-the-mill burgers. The chipotle and adobo sauce provide a great smokiness, and the red onion is bright punch of flavor. We love them!


Chipotle Salsa Turkey Burgers



Chipotle Salsa Turkey Burgers

Yield: Serves 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey

  • 1 chipotle pepper with about 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

  • 1/3 cup salsa

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • juice from one large lime, divided

  • 2 teaspoons chili or taco seasoning

  • 1/2 an avocado

  • burger buns, lettuce, sliced tomato, cheese, and whatever else you like to put on burgers

Instructions

  1. De-seed and mince the chipotle pepper.

  2. Add all ingredients except avocado and half of the lime juice to a large bowl.

  3. Mix gently just until thoroughly combined; do not over-work.

  4. Shape into four equal burgers. Grill over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center.

  5. Mix avocado and reserved half of the lime juice in a small bowl. Spread avocado mixture on burger bun. Build the burger with your favorite toppings, and enjoy!


    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Good Morning Muffins

    Long ago, I learned an important kitchen lesson: read the recipe in its entirety before you even think about making it. Too many times before that, I'd only have skimmed the ingredient list, then go to make the recipe and realize I need an overnight rest/marinade, or the final product needs 4 hours to set afterwards, or some other hidden time requirement. I'm much better, now, at properly preparing myself for a recipe. Still, I sometimes get ahead of myself.

    Last Saturday I was happily pouring over a new baking book, when I saw this muffin recipe. I thought to myself, "perfect! I'll prep the ingredients tonight and bake in the morning." I often do that, these days, since dragging out containers of dry ingredients and measuring them is a lot easier when our son is asleep, than when he is awake. Later that evening, when I set out to combine dry ingredients and locate all the others and arrange them in an easy-to-grab place in the fridge, I realize there was very little prep work that could be done. Sure, I could throw together the few dry ingredients, but those comprised not even a third of the ingredient list - not a huge time saver. I didn't want to grate the zucchini or chop the apple ahead of time, so I conceded and left all the prep work for Sunday morning.
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    As I made the muffins on Sunday morning, I wondered if all this work (in itself not much, but more than any other muffin recipe I've made) would be worth it. I got my answer shortly after removing these glorious muffins from the oven. Absolutely - yes! I was so excited to try one, I didn't even wait for them to properly cool. These quickly became my new favorite muffin, and I can't wait to make them again. The add-ins play so well together, against the almost nutty whole wheat muffin base, with just the right hint of cinnamon to round it out.

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    These lightly sweetened muffins are packed with delicious add-ins and make a fabulous breakfast!

    Good Morning Muffins


    Good Morning Muffins
    Source: Slightly adapted from Flour, by Joanne Chang
    Yield: 12 muffins
    Preparation time: 20 min
    Cook time: 45 min
    Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup (40 grams) wheat or oat bran
    • 1/2 cup (120 grams) hot water
    • 1 small zucchini, grated (about 1 1/2 cups packed or 200 grams)
    • 1/2 cup (80 grams) raisins
    • 1/2 cup (50 grams) pecan halves, chopped and toasted
    • 1/2 cup (60 grams) unsweetened flaked coconut
    • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1 cup or 120 grams)
    • 2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
    • 3 eggs (or 3 Tablespoons ground flax seed with 9 tablespoons water)
    • 3/4 cup (150 grams) canola or safflower oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups (210 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
    • 3/4 cup (75 grams) old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

      Instructions

      1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with nonstick baking spray or paper liners.
      2. In a medium bowl, stir together the bran and hot water until the bran in completely moistened. Add zucchini, raisins, pecans, coconut, apple; stir until well mixed.
      3. If you are using eggs: Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat sugar and eggs on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture thickens and lightens. (This will take 6-8 minutes with a hand-held mixer). On low speed, drizzle in oil, slowly, and vanilla. Adding it slowly is key to maintain the air you have beaten into the eggs. If you are using flax seed/water as an egg substitute: add sugar, flax seed, water, oil and vanilla to a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.
      4. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, folding carefully with a spatula until well combined. Add the bran mixture and fold until well combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim.
      5. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until muffins are lightly brown on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove muffins from pan to finish cooling.
      6. The muffins taste best the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room tempurature for up to 3 days. They can be frozen up to a week, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

        Tuesday, May 24, 2011

        Glee! Star-Berry Cupcakes


        For tonight's season finale (*tear*), I chose to present Rachel's cupcake. I am always sad when the show goes on break or the season ends, but this time I am also excited, as I will have all summer to dream up awesome Gleecakes (thanks, Kelsey!) for the rest of the gang, including Finn, Quinn, Puck, Santana, Brittany, Artie, Sam, Sue, Mr. Schue... maybe even a (crazy)Gleecake for Terri?


        Rachel is an exceedingly driven member of the student body at McKinley High. She wants nothing more in life than to be a star (well, aside from gaining the affections of Finn). She lets nothing stop in her way of getting as much exposure as possible - from always speaking her mind on any Glee club matter, to securing television commercials for the group, to demanding solos in competition.

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        Rachel is consistently reminding us that stars are her signature icon, so incorporating stars into her cupcake was a given! As Rachel would most surely attest that she is naturally uber talented, I chose a starfruit, with it's natural star shape, to adorn sparkly buttercream topped cupcakes. However, I also couldn't resist hiding a star inside the cupcake because, really, how much fun is this?!

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        Rachel's Star-Berry Cupcake combines vanilla cake with a surprise strawberry star baked inside, topped with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, silver pearl dust, and sliced starfruit.

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        Star-Berry Cupcakes


        Star-Berry Cupcakes

        Source: Vanilla cake reworded from Confections of a Foodie Bride, Strawberry cake slightly adapted from Good Things Catered (inactive blog), Buttercream slightly adapted from The Culinary Life/Garrett McCord and Beantown Baker/epicurious,
        Yield: about 12 cupcakes
        Total time: 4 hours 10 minutes, including 2 hours inactive time

         

        Ingredients

        For the strawberry cake:

        • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
        • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        • 1/8 teaspoon salt
        • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
        • 3/4 cup sugar
        • 1 large egg
        • 2 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
        • 2 tablespoons oil
        • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
        • 1 cup chopped strawberries
        • 1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries, ground fine (optional, for coloring; can use red food coloring instead, if desired)

        For the vanilla cake:

        • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
        • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
        • 1 cup sugar
        • 2 1/2 large eggs (beat the third egg in a small bowl, use half)
        • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
        • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

        For the buttercream and decoration:

        • 4 ounces egg whites (from a carton is fine)
        • 6 ounces sugar
        • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room
          temperature
        • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
        • 2-4tablespoonspureed strawberries
        • 1 starfruit, sliced thin
        • silver pearl dust

        Instructions

        For the strawberry cake:

        1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare one 9" or 8" round cake pan by spraying with baking spray. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl. In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and mix until combined. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chopped strawberries and ground freeze dried raspberries (or food coloring, to desired shade of pink/red).
        2. Pour batter into cake pan. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and continue to cook on wire rack until thoroughly cooled.
        3. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours to prepare cake for cutting. Once frozen, use a small star cookie or fondant cutter to make star shaped pieces of cake. Use immediately or store, well wrapped, in freezer until you are ready to continue with the cupcakes.

        For the cupcakes:

        1. Preheat oven to 350. Line one muffin/cupcake baking pan with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.
        2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for 3 minutes on medium-high speed until the butter is light and creamy in color. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream the butter for an additional 60 seconds.
        3. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl before each addition. Add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed. Stir vanilla into the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
        4. Add roughly 2 tablespoonds of batter to each cupcake liner. Place one frozen strawberry cake star in the batter, standing up and all facing the same way. (Remember which way stars are placed, so that decoration added to the top of the cupcakes at the end can signal which way to cut/eat the cake to reveal the star.) Continue to add vanilla batter to each cupcake liner, making sure to cover the stars.
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        6. Center the pan onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 15-18 minutes. (A skewer test won't work here, since it would go into the pre-baked star cake.)
        7. Let cool completely in the pans. While baking and cooling, prepare buttercream. Frost cupcakes with buttercream, sprinkle with pearl dust, and top with sliced starfruit.

        For the buttercream:

        1. Add egg whites and sugar to a heat-safe bowl. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk lightly until the muixture reaches 140 degrees F and the sugar is dissolved.
        2. Pour hot whites into a room-temperature bowl and whip with a wire whip until double in volume on medium-high speed. When the mixer stops, the meringue should not move around in the bowl. Meanwhile cut up butter into 2-inch pieces. (The butter should be slightly moist on the outside but cold inside.)
        3. On your mixer, remove the whip and attach the paddle. Add half the butter into the bowl immediately and pulsate the mixer several times until the meringue has covered the butter completely. To pulsate the mixer, turn it on and off in a jerky motion. This forces the butter on the top to the bottom of the bowl. Add the balance of the butter and pulsate mixer several times. Slowly increase the mixer's speed, starting with the lowest speed and increase the speed every 10 seconds until you reach a medium-high speed.
        4. Continue beating until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Reduce speed to low. Add vanilla and 2 tablespoonds of strawberry puree and continue to beat on low speed for 45 seconds. Then beat on medium-high speed for an additional 45 to 60 seconds. Add additional puree, if necessary, to acheive desired color and taste. If frosting gets too soft, powdered sugar can be added to help stiffen it back up.
          Note: Leftover buttercream can be placed in plastic containers with lids and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost completely (several hours) and rewhip before using. Storage: Store the icing in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

        Tuesday, May 17, 2011

        Glee! Gingered Bow Cupcakes

        glee

        Emma is one of my favorite characters on Glee, so I was very excited to make her cupcake this weekend. On the outside, Emma is a reserved, polished, sweetheart of a guidance counselor with a little spunk to go along with her firery red hair. Inside, she wrestles with more complex issues - a battle with OCD and a longing to be loved by the one man who stole her heart.

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        I knew from the start that her cake would be carrot cake, but with her recent proclamation of Gingerhood, a little kick from some ground ginger was definitely in order! The ginger also helps add a level of complexity to the flavor of the cake, to play off Emma's internal struggles. In keeping with Emma's polished exterior, I topped the cake with a tribute to her signature bow blouses and throwback hairstyle - a white fondant bow with curled tails.

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        Emma's cupcake combines gingered carrot cake with a delicate cream cheese frosting, topped with a signature bow!

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        Gingered Bow Cupcakes


        Gingered Bow Cupcakes

        Source: Slightly adapted from Baking Illustrated

        Yield: about 24 cupcakes

        Total time: 45 minutes

         

        Ingredients

        • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (12 1/2 ounces)
        • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
        • 1 teaspoon baking soda
        • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
        • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
        • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
        • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
        • 1/2 teaspoons table salt
        • 1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7), peeled
        • 1 1/2 cups evaporated cane juice (10 1/2 ounces)
        • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
        • 4 eggs (large)
        • 1 1/2 cups safflower oil
        • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
        • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
        • 1 tablespoon orange juice
        • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (4 1/2 ounces)
        • fondant, for decorations

        Instructions

        1. Wash all bowls, pans, utensils, and equipment in hot, soapy water. Dry thoroughly.
        2. Wash all carrots thoroughly to ensure they are free of pesticides.
        3. Day dream about Will Schuester.
        4. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans with sterilized cupcake wrappers.
        5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
        6. In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wash food processor components thoroughly with hot, soapy water, then dry pieces and fit bowl with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into large bowl.
        7. Realize you are alone and break down in tears, singing "All By Myself."
        8. Pull yourself together.
        9. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Full cupcake wrappers 2/3 of the way and until toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, about 16-20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time.
        10. Cool cupcakes to room temperature in pan on wire rack. When ready to frost, prepare icing. Try not to pass out while working with cream cheese and butter. Process cream cheese, butter, orange juice, and vanilla in clean food processor workbowl until combined, about 10 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add powdered sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Frost cupcakes and top with fondant bow. Have a cupcake to make yourself feel better.
        11. Resume day dreaming about Will Schuester.
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          Tuesday, May 10, 2011

          Glee! Vote for the next cupcake!


          After one final week off, I'll be ready to return next week with another Glee Cupcake. My problem is - I can't decide which one to make! You can help me out by voting for the one you want to see next. I've narrowed the field to Puck, Brittany, or Emma.



          The winner is..... 
          Emma!
          Look for Emma's cupcake here on Tuesday!

          Tuesday, May 3, 2011

          Sourdough French Toast

          Much to my own dismay, there will be a short break in the Glee cupcake series. I did make the next ones this past weekend, but the recipe needs tweaking, so I'm holding it back. Artie deserves only the best!

          Instead, I bring you another weekend breakfast treasure: sourdough french toast. Sourdough bread is one of my husband's favorite foods. He is originally from northern California, and when we head that way to visit his family, a stop in San Francisco is a must. We love taking a stroll down to the Boudin sourdough factory, grabbing a loaf and some cheese, and sitting on the waterfront to enjoy our snack. Of course, it also makes a great companion on the next leg of our trip - wine country. Sourdough + cheese + wine tasting = a great way to spend a beautiful California afternoon. CRW_0016c
          While the sourdough bread from our local grocery store isn't quite the same as Boudin, it's still a fun reminder of our trips out west. I wanted to do something fun with a recent loaf that I purchased, and this seemed like a delicious idea. Someday I will make the leap and try making homemade sourdough, but for now our local bakery bread works just fine!

          Sourdough is a great choice for french toast because the bread itself carries so much great flavor. Just a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg is used to enhance the natural beauty of sourdough.

          Sourdough French Toast


          Sourdough French Toast
          Source: Slightly adapted from Napa Farmhouse
          Yield: Serves 4
          Preparation time: 10 minutes
          Cook time: 15 minutes
          Total time: 25 minutes

           

          Ingredients

          • 1 loaf dense sourdough bread
          • 2 large eggs
          • 1/4 cup milk
          • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
          • 1 teaspoon honey
          • 1 pinch kosher salt
          • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
          • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
          • 1-2 tablespoons butter, plus more as needed
          • pure maple syrup, for serving
          • fruit, for serving

          Instructions

          1. Cut the sourdough into four 1-inch thick slices, then cut each slice in half, diagonally. Reserve the rest of the loaf for another use.
          2. In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, honey, salt, and spices.
          3. Heat enough butter in a large skillet so that it coats the surface (larger skillet would need more butter).
          4. Dip slices of bread in egg mixture, coating both sides, and then add to skillet. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
          5. Serve immediately, with maple syrup and fruit.

            Tuesday, April 26, 2011

            Glee! Blackberry Blackbird Cupcakes

            gleec

            Welcome to the second installment of Glee cupcakes!  I was so excited to discover that it would be a 90 minute episode tonight, that I couldn't wait to get started on the next cupcake.  I seemed to hit it right on the money last week - a diva cupcake for Mercedes paired with an episode with her being a true diva (puppies, anyone?). Seeing the previews for tonight's episode made my pick for this week easy - Kurt!

            glee-kurt

             One of my favorite performances from Kurt is the recent Blackbird, sung after the death of Pavarotti (the Warbler's canary mascot), and that became the inspiration for Kurt's Glee cupcake. I used my favorite vanilla bean cake recipe for the cake, because I knew they bake up with a flat top that would be perfect for the design I had in mind.

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            Kurt's Blackberry Blackbird Cupcake combines vanilla bean cake, blackberry filling, and lime swiss meringue buttercream. A nest of candied lime peel holds a fresh blackberry on top of a beautiful rose of buttercream.

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            Blackberry Blackbird Cupcakes


            Blackberry Blackbird Cupcakes

            Source: Cake reworded from Confections of a Foodie Bride,
            Buttercream slightly adapted from The Culinary Life/Garrett McCord and Beantown Baker/epicurious,
            Candied lime peel reworded from Martha Stewart
             
            Yield: about 16 cupcakes
            Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

            Ingredients

            For the cake:

            • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
            • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
            • 1/4 teaspoon salt
            • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
            • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
            • 1 cup sugar
            • 2 1/2 large eggs (beat the third egg in a small bowl, use half)
            • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
            • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
            • 1/2 cup blackberry jam
            • 16 fresh blackberries, rinsed and dried

            For the buttercream:

            • 8 ounces egg whites (from a carton is fine)
            • 12 ounces sugar
            • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
            • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
            • juice of one lime

            For the candied lime peel:

            • 1 lime
            • 1 1/2 cups sugar
            • 1 cup water
            • superfine sugar, for coating

            Instructions

            For the cake:

            1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin/cupcake baking pans with 16 cupcake liners. Set aside.
            2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Split and scrape the vanilla pod into the butter, discard pod (or reserve for another use). Beat for 3 minutes on medium-high speed until the butter is light and creamy in color. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream the butter for an additional 60 seconds.
            3. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl before each addition. Add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed. Stir vanilla into the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
            4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Lift up and drop each pan onto the counter top a couple of times to burst any air bubbles and allowing the batter to settle. Center the pans onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 15-18 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
            5. Let cool completely in the pans. While baking and cooling, prepare buttercream and candied lime peel.

            For the buttercream:

            1. Add egg whites and sugar to a heat-safe bowl. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk lightly until the muixture reaches 140 degrees F and the sugar is dissolved.
            2. Pour hot whites into a room-temperature bowl and whip with a wire whip until double in volume on medium-high speed. When the mixer stops, the meringue should not move around in the bowl. Meanwhile cut up butter into 2-inch pieces. (The butter should be slightly moist on the outside but cold inside.)
            3. On your mixer, remove the whip and attach the paddle. Add half the butter into the bowl immediately and pulsate the mixer several times until the meringue has covered the butter completely. To pulsate the mixer, turn it on and off in a jerky motion. This forces the butter on the top to the bottom of the bowl. Add the balance of the butter and pulsate mixer several times. Slowly increase the mixer's speed, starting with the lowest speed and increase the speed every 10 seconds until you reach a medium-high speed.
            4. Continue beating until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Reduce speed to low. Add vanilla and lime and continue to beat on low speed for 45 seconds. Then beat on medium-high speed for an additional 45 to 60 seconds.
              Leftover buttercream can be placed in plastic containers with lids and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost completely (several hours) and rewhip before using. Storage: Store the icing in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

            For the candied lime peel:

            1. Peel lime with peeler from top to bottom. Using a sharp knife, carefully remove any thick white pith from lime peel. Cut peel into thin strips.
            2. Bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice-water bath. Add lime peel to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lime peel to ice-water bath to cool. Repeat process.
            3. Heat sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Drain lime peel and add to saucepan; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lime peel to a wire rack set over parchment paper to drain. Toss with superfine sugar to coat. Store candied lime peel in an airtight container up to 3 days.

            Assembly

            1. Prepare cupcakes for filling with the cone method: Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake. Fill the cupcake with a rounded teaspoon of blackberry jam. Remove the tip of the cone (to leave room for the filling) and replace the top to the cupcake. Cake is a terrible thing to waste, so be sure to enjoy all those little pieces you cut off!
            2. To make rose design, fit a pastry bag with a large star tip, such as Wilton # 1M. Fill bag with buttercream, and pipe onto cucpcake in a circular motion, starting in the center of the cupcake and moving outward.
            3. Top with fresh blackberry and pieces of candied lime peel.
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            Friday, April 22, 2011

            Turkey and Chickpea Burgers

            I can't believe it's been almost two years since I started eating clean. (For anyone that's new, take a look back at my introduction to clean eating post.) I haven't been perfect - pregnancy did have an effect on my diet, and I did the best that I could during the few months when not much seemed appetizing. Obviously pregnancy throws a kink in one's weigh loss plans, but I am happy to say that renewing my commitment to eating clean after the birth of our son helped me reach my pre-pregnancy weight. I feel great and am happy to be back on track towards reaching my ideal weight.  Sure, I still bake some decadent desserts and a few non-clean meals and side dishes, but overall, adapting recipes to be a almost, if not totally, clean is second nature. I don't miss much about full fat and over processed foods. I rarely enter the aisles at the grocery store; most of my time is spend in the produce section! I have come to a place where clean eating is easy. It's our lifestyle now, and I am so happy to have over 100 clean recipes on this blog to share with you! 

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            One of my favorite recipes sources is still, two years later, Clean Eating Magazine. I'm not with it enough to know when the next issue is supposed to arrive in the mail, so when it does, it's like Christmas. I have to flip through right away, and check out the newest ideas.  Spring has finally made its way to New England, and that means only one thing to my husband: it's grilling time!  I went back through some old issues for any recipes that were overlooked, and rediscovered this recipe for turkey and chickpea burgers.

            Turkey burgers are my favorite, and this is a great twist on them. These are quick to throw together and taste great!

            Turkey and Chickpea Burgers


            Turkey and Chickpea Burgers
            Source: Slightly adapted from Clean Eating Magazine, Jan/Feb 2009
            Yield: Serves 5
            Preparation time: 10 min
            Total time: 25 minutes

             

            Ingredients

            • 1 can chickpeas (15 oz)
            • 1/2 cup scallions, roughly chopped
            • 1 teaspoon cumin (we use coriander)
            • 1 teaspoon fresh black ground pepper
            • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
            • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
            • 1 pound ground turkey breast
            • red onion, tomato, lettuce, and buns, for serving

            Instructions

            1. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, scallions, cumin, pepper, salt and worchestershire sauce. Pulse until smooth.
            2. Transfer chickpea mixture to a large bowl. Add ground turkey and mix until well combined.
            3. Divide mixture into 5 equal portions and shape into a patty. Grill burgers over medium heat, about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through.
            4. Serve burgers on buns with your favorite burger toppings.

              Tuesday, April 19, 2011

              Glee! Choco-Diva Cupcakes

              gleec

              I was in the mood to bake cupcakes over the weekend, but found myself without a cause. Certainly one should be able to make cupcakes just for the heck of it, but I thought for a moment about what I could celebrate with cupcakes, and quickly thought of Glee! My favorite show returns with new episodes this week, after a hiatus during the month of March. I love everything about this show - the music, the satire, the one-liners, the drama, and most of all, the insane talent.  Fellow Gleek Krystal suggested I make some Glee themed cupcakes, and got me started with a few great suggestions!

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              I had already planned to make chocolate cupcakes, so Krystal's suggestion of a choco-diva cupcake for Mercedes jumped out at me. Mercedes is a sassy and confident member of the glee club, with the desire to be in the limelight and the talent to back it up. Befitting of her large personality, I created an over the top cupcake with definite style and intense flavors.

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              The Mercedes Choco-Diva Cupcake combines coconut chocolate cake, coconut cream filling, and almond buttercream, with caramel and chocolate ganache drizzled on top. For extra flair, the frosting is piped in a ruffled design, inspired by Cook like a Champion.
               
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              Note: I am on a dairy-free diet for the time being, so I made the vegan chocolate cupcakes below (the perfectly domed tops at Oh She Glows convinced me I need to try her recipe - and it did not dissappoint!), but you can use your favorite chocolate cake recipe.

              Choco-Diva Cupcakes


              Choco-Diva Cupcakes
              Source: Cake and Frosting adapted from Oh She Glows, Coconut Cream filling adapted from here, Caramel and Chocolate Ganache Glaze adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours
              Yield: 12 cupcakes
              Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (make the caramel first to cut down on idle time!)

               

               

              Ingredients

              For the cupcakes:

              • 1 cup non-dairy milk, (regular milk is fine if you aren't sensitive to dairy or following a vegan diet)
              • 1 cup evaporated cane juice
              • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
              • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
              • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
              • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
              • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
              • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
              • 1 teaspoon baking soda
              • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
              • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided

              For the frosting:

              • 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery stick or equivalent, at room temperature
              • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
              • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
              • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
              • 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk, (regular milk is fine if you aren't sensitive to dairy)

              For the filling:

              • 1 can coconut milk (do not use light milk)
              • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
              • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice, or sugar

              For the caramel:

              • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice, or sugar
              • 1 tablespoon water
              • 1 teaspoon agave nectar, or light corn syrup
              • 1/4 cup reserved coconut cream (from filling)
              • 1 teaspoon Earth Balance buttery stick or equivalent, at room temperature

              For the chocolate ganache glaze:

              • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
              • 1/4 cup reserved coconut cream (from filling)
              • 1 tablespoon water
              • 1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice, or sugar

              Instructions

              One Day Ahead: Identify which end of the can of coconut milk you'll open with the can opener, and place it that-side-down in the refrigerator. It's best to chill it at least 24 hours, as this will allow the cream to separate and rise to the top.

              For the cupcakes:

              1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. With an electric or stand mixer, beat together the non-dairy milk, oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, almond extract in a large bowl. Beat on medium speed for one to two minutes.
              2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until all the clumps are gone. Stir in coconut, reserving 2 tablespoons.
              3. Pour batter into prepare pan (it will be thin), about 2/3 full for each. Sprinkle tops of each with reserved shredded coconut (they will self-toast in the oven and add another great dimension to these cupcakes!).
              4. Bake for 22 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely in the pan.

              For the frosting:

              1. In a mixing bowl, beat Earth Balance (or equivalent) with an electric or stand mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add milk, vanilla, and salt and beat and additional minute.
              2. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Beat until fully combined, then another 5 minutes more. Add additional milk, a little at a time, if necessary to reach desired consistency.

              For the filling:

              1. Open can of refrigerated coconut milk. Pour off the clear/milky coconut water (it will be on the top if you chilled the can open-side-down). This can be saved for smoothies or added to juice.
              2. Scoop the cream out of the can and into a small bowl (about 1 1/2 cups).
              3. Combine 1 cup of coconut cream, vanilla and cane juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cupcakes.

              For the caramel:

              1. Add cane juice, water and agave nectar in a small heavy bottomed saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, without stirring. Let boil until a nice amber color is acheived, about 5-10 minutes. It's easiest to check the color of the sugar by dropping a small amount on a white plate.
              2. Once at the desired color, remove the pan from the heat, and stand back to add the coconut cream and butter (it will spatter). Stir the caramel to calm it down, then pour into a heatsafe bowl.
              3. Let caramel cool for one hour before topping cupcakes.

              For the chocolate ganache glaze:

              1. Add the chocolate to a medium heatsafe bowl.
              2. Add the coconut cream, water and cane juice to a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
              3. Pour cream mixture over chocolate, and let sit for 30 seconds.
              4. Using a whisk or spatula, slowly stir the chocolate/cream mixture with slow, concentric circles starting in the center. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

              Assembly! (thought you'd never get here, eh?)

              1. Prepare to fill the cupcakes - the cone method works best here. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake. Fill the cupcake with coconut cream. Remove the tip of the cone (to leave room for the filling) and replace the top to the cupcake. Cake is a terrible thing to waste, so be sure to enjoy all those little pieces you cut off!
              2. To apply the ruffled frosting, fill a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip (such a Wilton #104) with buttercream. I find that placing the cupcake on a small piece of foil makes it easy to turn while applying frosting. With the fat end of the tip facing out, pipe a circle of frosting around the edge of the cupcake, using a back and forth, overlapping motion. Fill in the center of the frosting ring to leave an even layer for the next level of frosting. Complete the second layer using the same back and forth overlapping motion, with a slightly smaller circle. Again, fill in the center so it is one even layer of frosting. Complete one more circle, smaller yet, for the third layer. Move the tip and and down, while turning the cupcake, to make a crown of frosting on top.
              3. Using a large spoon, drizzle caramel and chocolate ganache glaze over the cupcakes.

                Friday, April 15, 2011

                One Pot Meal: Baked Chicken

                One pot meals are a thing of wonder.  This especially rings true for a messy cook such as myself. Despite the fact that we have somewhere on the order of four times more counter space now than we did in our last home, I still manage to cover all the surfaces during some of my more involved cooking/baking days. I have been known to exclaim, "I don't have anywhere to put this!" only to have my husband look at me in bewilderment. In my defense, it usually involves needing my sink, which is, in my opinion, rather small for the size of our kitchen.
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                With my parents coming to visit last Sunday for a grandson-fix, I was inspired to make this by a lonely whole chicken wasting away in our deep freezer.  This recipe is easy all around (even more-so if you get your butcher to cut up the chicken for you) and great for when you have company.  Toss all the ingredients in a roasting pan and pop it in the oven for 50 minutes.  We even used the roasting pan as the serving dish and let everyone pick out what they wanted, buffet style.  With just one dish to clean up, it allowed for less time in the kitchen and more time where it counts - with family!

                Simple, but classic flavorings of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and thyme make this baked chicken dish a great choice for last minute guests, or anytime you want a wholesome, comforting meal with minimal effort.

                Baked Chicken with Onions, Potatoes, Garlic, and Thyme


                Baked Chicken with Onions, Potatoes, Garlic, and Thyme
                Source: Slightly adapted from Everyday Food, October 2009
                Yield: Serves 4
                Preparation time: 10 minutes
                Cook time: 50 minutes
                Total time: 1 hour

                 

                Ingredients

                • 1 whole chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces and breasts halved crosswise
                • 1 pound white new potatoes, halved (quartered if large)
                • 1 large red onion, cut into eighths
                • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and left unpeeled
                • 6 sprigs thyme
                • 1 lemon, quartered
                • 1 pound baby carrots
                • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
                • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
                • Coarse salt and ground pepper

                Instructions

                1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken, potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, thyme, and lemon in a 12-by-16-inch roasting pan.
                2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar and drizzle over chicken and vegetables.
                3. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Turn chicken skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 50 minutes.

                  Tuesday, April 12, 2011

                  Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

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                  I recently talked about regional differences in traditional breakfast foods. With our first little one here now, we seem to be starting some breakfast traditions of our own. Once each weekend, we get up and cook a delicious breakfast together, be it biscuits and gravy, eggs with toast and hash browns, bagel sandwiches, or my favorite - pancakes! It's a nice change from a bowl of cereal or cream cheese laden bagel, and fun to prepare a meal together.

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                  We typically use my favorite pancake recipe with apples and (sometimes) cranberries, but last week I got inspired to make peanut butter banana pancakes. I'm not sure where the urge came from, but my husband sometimes slathers peanut butter in between his pancakes, so I knew he would be on board! At the last minute, chocolate chips sounded like a perfect addition, so I tossed a few into the batter.

                  I am so happy with how these pancakes turned out. There is a great balance of the three main components, which complement each other well in every bite!

                  Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes


                  Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes
                  Source: Adapted from my favorite pancake recipe
                  Yield: Serves 4 (2 pancakes each)
                  Preparation time: 10 min
                  Cook time: 15 min
                  Total time: 25 minutes

                   

                  Ingredients

                  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
                  • 3/4 cup oat bran
                  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
                  • 1 teaspoon salt
                  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                  • 1 egg
                  • 1 cup milk
                  • 1 tablespoon oil
                  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
                  • 1 tablespoon honey
                  • 1 banana
                  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

                  Instructions

                  1. Add the peanut butter and honey to a heat-safe bowl. Microwave in 20 second intervals on low power until mixture is softened and warm. Mash half of the banana, and slice the remaning half into 1/4 inch thick rounds, then cut the rounds into quarters. Stir the mashed banana into the peanut butter mixture.
                  2. Stir together oat bran through cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg, and oil; stir to mix.
                  3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stir just until mixed. Fold in peanut butter mixture, chopped banana, and chocolate chips.
                  4. Heat griddle or pan, then spray with cooking spray. Drop 1/3 cup of batter onto griddle, repeat with remaining batter. Heat until bubbles form at the surface and bottom is lightly browned, then flip and cook through.

                  Friday, April 8, 2011

                  Curry Shrimp with Green Beans and Soba Noodles

                  A few weeks ago I mentioned one of our favorite curry recipes, and said it was one of two favorites. Today, I am bringing you the other favorite! After trying so many different recipes, this one always stood out as the best. When I went back to evaluate why, and compare all the recipes, I found that this one calls for twice the curry powder that the others do. That could definitely explain why we like this recipe so much more!

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                  As luck would have it, I wanted to make this right as we ran out of curry powder. I was due to refill some other spices, so I turned to my trusty spice store, Penzeys, for a new order. I flipped to the curry page in the catalog and was instantly overwhelmed. There were so many different kinds, and I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize "curry powder" was really a blend of several different spices. I thought curry powder was just - curry powder, like turmeric is just turmeric. Boy, was I wrong!

                  I grabbed my empty curry jar and scanned the ingredient list, then picked the one in the catalog that sounded the closest and crossed my fingers as I placed the order. I chose the sweet curry powder, and it turned out to be the perfect choice. It was just the right blend for us!

                  This is a fabulously quick, easy, one pot meal - great for a weeknight. This combination of spices is our favorite curry sauce, which I suspect we will be able to use in many other curry dishes in the future!

                  Curry Shrimp with Green Beans and Soba Noodles


                  Curry Shrimp with Green Beans and Soba Noodles
                  Source: Slightly adapted from The Gracious Pantry
                  Yield: Serves 2-3
                  Preparation time: 5 min
                  Cook time: 15 min
                  Total time: 20 minutes

                   

                  Ingredients

                  • 1 pound frozen shrimp (peeled and deveined, tail off)
                  • 1 can light coconut milk (14 oz)
                  • 1 pound fresh green beans
                  • 3 green onions, diced
                  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
                  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
                  • 1 teaspoon paprika
                  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
                  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
                  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
                  • 6 ounces soba noodles

                  Instructions

                  1. Combine all ingredients except soba noodles in a large pot or pan, cover and bring to a boil.
                  2. Once you have a nice rolling boil, remove the lid and continue to cook over medium to medium-high heat.
                  3. Add soba noodles and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, until noodles are soft and shrimp are cooked through.

                    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

                    Tilapia with Lemon Pesto and Oven Roasted Tomatoes

                    We've been in a fish rut for a months now. All I seem to make with our stash of frozen tilapia is fish tacos. While fish tacos are pretty darn awesome, I knew I would need to move on, eventually. For a while I could blame it on the nice weather (I'm talking last summer, here), but even in the dead of winter, I turned to that easy-to-prepare, delicious, healthy fish taco recipe.
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                    I could further blame it on the fact that most of the tilapia recipes in my queue call for breadcrumbs, and I can't find whole wheat breadcrumbs in the store. Or, I did eventually find some, but a look at the ingredient label revealed that they contained high fructose corn syrup. (In breadcrumbs? Really?) They immediately went back on the shelf. Yes, I know I can make them at home, but I'm too lazy busy to figure out how to achieve the right texture.

                    Enter one of my favorites blogs: Elly Says Opa! This recipe caught my eye because I had some pesto to use up, and allowed me to skirt around my bread crumb debacle.

                    This turned out to be a quick, simple way to prepare a flavorful dish!

                    Tilapia with Lemon Pesto and Oven Roasted Tomatoes


                    Tilapia with Lemon Pesto and Oven Roasted Tomatoes
                    Source: Elly Says Opa!
                    Yield: Serves 2
                    Preparation time: 10 minutes
                    Cook time: 20 minutes
                    Total time: 30 minutes

                     

                    Ingredients

                    • 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
                    • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
                    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
                    • 2 tablespoons pesto
                    • 1 lemon
                    • 2 tilapia filets
                    • salt and pepper

                    Instructions

                    1. Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the tomatoes and the garlic with the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes.
                    2. Meanwhile, juice the lemon and reserve both the juice and the juiced lemon. To the juice, add the pesto and stir to combine. Season the tilapia with salt and pepper and then spread the pesto mixture on top of the fish.
                    3. Take the pan of roasted garlic and tomatoes out of the oven and nestle the cut lemon into the pan. Place the tilapia on top of the lemon and tomatoes and put back in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is flaky and no longer opaque. Spoon the tomatoes over the fish.