Friday, April 27, 2012

Boston Cream Pie Cupcake

This cupcake was awesome. I found this recipe on That Skinny Chick Can Bake and that recipe was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.  I used the cupcake and ganache recipe from that site but I used my own pastry cream recipe because I've had such great success with it and didn't want to try anything else when I already love my pastry cream.  My husband felt there wasn't enough pastry cream in the middle so I had to drizzle it on top too.  

6 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the cupcake tins
1 1/2 cups flour, plus more to dust the cupcake tins
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.  Grease cupcake tins (makes about 20 cupcakes), then dust with flour.  Set aside.
Cut butter into tablespoon sized pieces.  Heat butter and milk in microwave till butter is melted. Set aside.

In electric mixer, whip sugar and eggs on high till fluffy and pale yellow, and thick enough to form a ribbon when mixture drips off whisk attachment...about 5 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium and add baking powder, salt, then slowly add flour.  Mix only till just incorporated.
With mixer on low speed, slowly add milk and butter mixture.  Mix just till smooth.  Add vanilla and mix just till incorporated.

Divide batter into the 20 cupcake slots...about halfway full.  Bake, rotating halfway through if needed (check to see if baking evenly), for about 15 minutes.  Check by gently pressing center of cupcakes with finger...if done, the cake will spring back immediately.

To serve, either cut out a part of the center to fill with pastry cream and replace top on hole or cut cupcakes carefully in half with serrated knife, top bottom half with about one tablespoon of pastry cream, add top half and drizzle with ganache.

Pastry Cream:

2 c. half-and-half

1/2 c. sugar

pinch of salt

5 large egg yolks

3 tbsp. cornstarch

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat half-and-half, 6 tbsp. sugar and salt in saucepan over medium heat until simmering and sugar is dissolved.  Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until combined.  Whisk in the remaining 2 tbsp. sugar until thick and creamy about 30 seconds.  Whisk in the cornstarch until pale yellow, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk the half-and-half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper.  Be VERY slow so you don't scramble your eggs.  Return the entire mixture to the saucepan scraping bowl with spatula and return to a simmer over medium heat whisking constantly until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, like a pudding.  Off the heat whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl.  Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until set and cold which is at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.    

Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or honey)

Heat cream and corn syrup in microwave till hot.  Add chopped chocolate, and let stand till chocolate starts to melt.  Stir until smooth.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grilled Honey-Lime Pork Tenderloin

So not the most flattering picture but that is what happens when my husband carves meat and takes a picture of it.  He was less than impressed when I told him I needed pictures before we ate dinner.   This is an Alton Brown recipe and it was really tasty.  I love the honey in this it really shines through.  I'm a huge fan of adding honey into marinades for meats and this really was a winner.  I got the recipe from Food Network.

Grilled Honey-Lime Pork Tenderloin

1 whole pork tenderloin, approximately 1 pound
1 lime, zest finely grated
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce  (*optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silver skin.  Place the lime zest, lime juice, honey, salt, and garlic powder in a small, lidded jar and shake to combine. Pour half of the marinade mixture into a 1-gallon resealable bag, add the chipotle pepper, and move around to combine. Add the pork tenderloin to the bag and seal, removing as much air as possible and place in a container to catch any leaks. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, rotating the bag halfway through the time. Place the remaining marinade in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use.  Remove the tenderloin from the bag and allow to sit at room temperature while preparing the grill. Remove the reserved marinade from the refrigerator.  Fill a large chimney starter with natural lump charcoal and light. Once the charcoal is ashy and white, approximately 30 minutes, dump the hot charcoal onto the lowest grate of the grill and spread into an even layer using extra-long tongs. Place the cooking grate back on the grill and cover with the lid; heat the grate to medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.  Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Remove the tenderloin from the bag and place in the center of grate. Discard bag with marinade. Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, turning every 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.  Remove the tenderloin from the grill and place on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil folded at the edges to create a basket, and pour on the reserved marinade. Wrap tightly and rest for 10 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and slice. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Honey Cornbread

I like my cornbread sweet and this recipe always hits the spot.  I like making cornbread because it reminds me of home (South Carolina).  Of course, my kids love it because in their eyes it is like bread and they think we should eat bread every single meal.  I made this with a big bowl of chicken and dumplings and it made my night.   So good!

Honey Corn Bread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk (or alternative such as Almond Milk)
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted (or dairy-free)
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Pour into buttered 8X10 pan and bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.  To make corn muffins, place muffin paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Evenly divide the cornbread mixture into the papers. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oven French Fries

I made these this week just to give my sister the recipe.  I love oven fries and if done right they are really tasty.  I prefer not to fry things these days as it really isn't good for my kids and they are what I care most about in this world.  But what kid doesn't love french fries?  So, I make these usually about once a week and we do a burger night or something similar with them.  They are quick and easy and can be prepped ahead too.  The key to good oven fries is a hot, hot oven, an already hot baking sheet and make sure your fries are completely dry before adding oil to them. If they are even a little bit wet you'll have soggy fries.  

Oven French Fries

3-4 Russet Potatoes
1/8 c. canola oil
Salt & Pepper
Seasoning of choice

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with the baking sheet IN the oven.  I peel the skins off my potatoes first then slice them into whatever shape I want, shoestring fries, steak fries, your choice.  If you are doing this ahead of time place all your french fries in water to prevent them from turning color just be sure to dry them thoroughly before using.  Place in a bowl, simply pour over the oil and seasoning.  I love to use garlic powder and paprika or a Ms. Dash blend.  Toss to coat all potatoes.  After your oven has preheated along with your pan, take the hot pan out and dump all your potatoes with oil and seasoning onto the baking sheet.  Bake approximately 15 minutes, flip all fries and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.   

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffin

I found this recipe on Chef Heidi Fink's blog and adapted it just a bit to make it what I was in the mood for.  These muffins were so good!  I don't know why all my muffins don't have an amazing streusel topping!  

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffin

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tb melted butter (I use non-dairy)

3 medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups small fresh blueberries  
Streusel Topping
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 Tb all-purpose flour
2 Tb melted butter (or non-dairy buter)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, including the top of the muffin tin, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and the baking powder and the salt. In a large bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the egg, beat well, then add the sugar and vanilla and beat again. Finally, add the melted butter and stir until completely mixed. Before you mix the wet and dry ingredients, make the streusel. Place the pecans, brown sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir well to mix. It should not be too wet. Add a bit more flour if the streusel seems too wet. Set aside.  Now, mix the muffin batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with the blueberries. Use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together until just mixed. There should still be dry streaks of flour visible.  Scoop batter into muffin tin and top with some of the streusel topping.  Bake 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate Peep Nests

 We made these peep nests on Easter.  I'm not sure where I saw this or who I heard about it from but I didn't have a recipe and I'm pretty sure I used too much chocolate since my kids were covered in it by the time we were done.  Both the kids loved getting elbow deep into the chocolate and helping me make these nests.  Once we finished and put the eggs in the nests and took out the mama peeps my husband sat down to eat his dessert.  My daughter told him that she loved the peeps and their babies so very much that she couldn't bare the thought of any of us eating them.  I think he was a bit disappointed that he wasn't allowed to eat his dessert!  Later the chocolate got the best of her and she did allow everyone to eat them.

Chocolate Peep Nests

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. butterscotch chips
1 - 5 oz. can chow mien noodles
12 peeps
Bag of M&M's (we used the speckled M&M eggs)

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips together over a double boiler.  Dump the entire thing of the chow mien noodles out into a bowl.  Pour chocolate mixture over the top and stir to combine.  Using a muffin pan, spray generously with cooking spray and place chocolatey chow mien noodles into each muffin tin.  I used the back of a spoon to create an indent in the center of each to form the nest and give the candy eggs a place to rest.  Allow to harden in refrigerator for about an hour.  I used a butter knife and just popped it into the side of each muffin tin and the chocolate nest popped out.  Top with candy eggs and peeps.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dutch Baby Pancake

My family likes when I make this because they think it looks fancy and is special but truth is this recipe is so easy! You basically throw everything into a blender, pour it into a hot pan, bake, and poof, your awesome mom!  I got this recipe from Melissa D'Arabian at Food Network

Dutch Baby Pancake

3 tablespoons butter (regular or non-dairy)
3 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup milk, heated 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave (I use almond milk)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the butter in a large, ovenproof, nonstick saute pan and place in the oven. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the eggs, flour, warm milk, sugar, vanilla extract and pinch of salt, and blend on medium-high speed until uniform. (If mixing by hand, combine the eggs with the milk until the mixture is light yellow and no longer stringy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, sugar, vanilla, and pinch of salt, and whisk vigorously to remove the lumps, about 30 seconds.)

Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. The butter should be melted. Swirl the butter around the pan to coat completely, and then pour the remaining butter into the batter and pulse to blend. Pour the batter into the hot pan and return the pan to the oven. Cook until the pancake is puffed in the center and golden brown along the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.

Using a spatula, remove the entire Dutch baby from the pan and place on a cooling rack for a few minutes to allow the steam to escape without condensing along the bottom and rendering the pancake soggy. Dust with confectioners' sugar when cooled slightly. Slice the pancake into 8 wedges on a serving platter or cutting board.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blueberry Crumb Cake

I love wild blueberries.  I mean regular blueberries are good but wild blueberries are awesome.  The fresh blueberries here are way too expensive and look sad but I can get frozen wild blueberries so I buy those and use them.  Since Spring is around the corner, well for us anyways.  I know many people in the states it has been unseasonably warm already but for us in Japan it is still cold and jacket weather.  I decided to make this blueberry crumb cake.  As it was baking in the oven all I could think about was eating a nice big slice of this cake with a Grande Soy Carmel Macciato.  I don't have coffee in my house anymore since giving up dairy because what's a cup of coffee without half and half?  My wonderful husband voluntarily gave up coffee as well since he knew how much I loved it and how hard it was for me to do.  I watched everyone in my house eat this cake for two days while I patiently waited for my Starbucks drink.  Today was finally that day.  After a trip to the doctors office with my kids I found a parking spot next to Starbucks.  That sounds easy but here there is no parking, parking is a thing nightmares are made of.  Even here on the Navy base, parking is non-existent.  With sick kids I can't just walk and get my coffee but I snatched up that spot and had to carry my sleeping 2 year old into Starbucks to get us all some drinks before heading home and heating up that amazing blueberry cake.  It was well worth the wait.  This cake is amazing, especially the topping with the layer of sugar sprinkled over the top.

1/2 stick non-dairy butter (or regular)
1 Tablespoon (additional) non-dairy Butter
3/4 cups Sugar
1 whole Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups All-purpose Flour
2-1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cups Almond Milk (or whole milk)
2 cups Fresh or frozen Blueberries

3/4 sticks non-dairy Butter (or regular)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, and a salt. Stir and set aside.
Cream 1/2 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter with cinnamon and sugar. Add egg and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until totally incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stir in blueberries until evenly distributed.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Pour in batter.
In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients and cut together using two knives or a pastry cutter. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.  Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp. of sugar over the top.  Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve with softened butter.