Sunday, January 24, 2010

Magnificent Magnolia

After an emotional breakdown from cabin fever, Rick and I decided to make cupcakes. I didn't have any cake flour on hand, so we decided to use Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcake recipe (below). of my favorite bakeries in the world. I would LOVE to return back there one of these days. It is the bakery that inspired my cupcake obsession. We didn't have butter after I used it for the cake, so Rick made Wilton's version of buttercream icing (good for decorating, bad for tasting).

Here's the cupcake, Valentine's Day style complete with wrapper and sprinkles:Here's the cupcake dissected, the darker (very very slightly) area is where I cut out a little cone and drizzled honey into the cupcake. Yes! So sweet.

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
3 tablespoons water
Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

MMM Processed

I made biscuits and gravy for breakfast today with the usual shortcuts. :) I bought Pillsbury flaky biscuit dough and baked those up. The biscuits didn't soak up the gravy like I had hoped and are better served with jam. In the future, I'm either going to use buttermilk biscuits or just make my own country biscuits.

The gravy turned out okay, I think we should have used a cheaper brand that had more fat because I had to add a pat of butter to the sausage to have enough to make roux. I also used reduced fat milk, which I think also had an impact on the creaminess of the gravy. I also reduced the gravy for a long time because of the reduced fat milk, which I think intensified the sweetness of the gravy from the lactose in the milk. All in all, not bad for a first attempt.

Gravy Recipe:
1 pound of sausage
4 cups of milk
4-6 tablespoons of flour

1. Brown sausage in skillet. As soon as sausage is completely brown, turn to medium heat.
2. Add flour by the tablespoon, stirring constantly. Let the flour turn BROWN before adding another tablespoon (if you don't, your gravy will taste like flour).
3. After you have added enough flour to mske the gravy as thick as you like, add milk and stir with whisk.
Serve over biscuits.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fast Snack

I wanted a quick tasty snack today and topped some Triscuits with Neufchatel cheese and cracked black pepper. The pepper definitely made the snack.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thighs that Size

I love dark meat and always complain about how chicken breast is often dry. So, when Rick did the grocery shopping this time around he bought boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I didn't realize what a pain in the ass it is to trim thigh meat. I think I'll live with the dry breast meat in the future. So, I made a chicken rice casserole today, where did I get the recipe? Why...AllRecipes of course! I have to say the dish was quite disgusting when it first came out of the oven after a couple days it became slightly more edible. I didn't take any pictures. Boo.

The Usual

Rick and I went to Thai Kitchen for dinner last night. YUM! I ordered my usual which was the red curry. I don't know why I insist on ordering it when I go to restaurants if I already know how to make it. Anyway, it was delicious.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lackluster Cookies

Boo. If I could give myself one star on Yelp, I would. I made some chocolate chip cookies today, but with a couple handicaps. Of course I can blame the handicaps or just my lack of baking experience for these flat, poorly mixed cookies.

So, here's the list of why things went wrong, could be just one or a combination:
1. I started with Milk Chocolate Chips (I prefer bittersweet/semisweet)
2. I don't have my handwritten recipe book with Russ' Delectable Chocolate Chip recipe, so I used the one on the back of the chip bag
3. The recipe called for baking soda and I used baking powder (there was no acid in the recipe for the soda react with!)
4. I don't have a hand mixer or stand mixer, just my actual hands and a wooden spoon to mix
5. The butter and the sugars were not completely creamed (thanks to #4)
6. I didn't have an "ice cream" scoop to consistently measure out the batter

What did go well:
1. I used a Silpat (yay for minimal dishes!)

Here's what the disaster looked like (very flat cookies):Here's my tribute to Silpat!Here's the recipe if you feel so inclined to use it, or not:
HERSHEY'S Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped nuts(optional)

1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 5 dozen cookies.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Burger without the Bun

After staring at the ground sirloin and pork chops in the refrigerator for half an hour, I decided I was too lazy to make a brine for the pork chops. So, we had burgers for lunch with no bun, so really it was more of a burger salad. I keep referencing AllRecipes lately to find recipes for food. Today I tried the Tex-Mex Burger with Cajun Mayo. It was rather tasty, as usual I made a couple substitutions, but it turned out quite well, if not a tad dry. I also used Miracle Whip instead of mayo because Rick LOVES Miracle Whip. I added a frozen southwest vegetable mix to the frying pan after the burgers were done. The veggies picked up all the bits and pieces that were left on the bottom of the pan. Very flavorful. Can't say I'm dying to make this recipe again, but it wasn't bad.

Here's the top of the salad:

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Make Other People Fat

Otherwise known as, I have half a buttercream vanilla cake that I don't want to eat for fear of getting fat. Rick bought me a cake from Wal-Mart which was rather tasty, but I didn't want to eat all of it. I have always wanted to try making Cake Pops, but since I didn't have the sticks to make cake pops, I made cake balls. Here's a link to the Cake Pop Queen herself: basically mushed up the cake and frosting in a bowl and formed little balls and coated them in chocolate. Very sweet, fattening and decadent. I just need to figure out how to make the chocolate coating a little thinner.
Here's a peak inside one:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Addicted to Modifications that I am gainfully unemployed and still on a hunt for a job, I am left with an abundance of free time. Recently bought the Barilla Plus penne that is full of protein (thank you legumes) and decided I wanted to make a baked dish. Okay, so I'll be upfront and confess that I did not make anything from scratch in this modified recipe (see below), but it was darn good. The heartiness from the protein pasta made up for the lack of meaty goodness in this recipe.

I have never made a baked pasta dish, aside from lasagna and I have to say that combining the cheese mixture with the pasta before baking was new to me. Like lasagna, this was better the second day. Yum! I modified this recipe


1 (16 ounce) package Barilla PLUS pasta
2 cups ricotta cheese
4 cups diced mozzarella cheese (I used Pizza Hut cheese)
1 egg, beaten
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (I used Ragu's marinara sauce because it was on sale)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T oregano
2 T basil
1 t garlic powder
1 cup sour cream
2 T red pepper flakes (spicy!)
2 cups of frozen peppers (need veggies in the diet)


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
2. In a medium bowl, mix parmesan, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese (2.5 cups), sour cream, thawed peppers, herbs and red pepper, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4. Pour a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in penne mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by remaining mozzarella cheese.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Read Your Labels Carefully

I picked up this Nacho Cheddar Popcorn Seasoning at the movie theater and there was enough in the container to take home and sprinkle my popcorn with. If you take a close look at the picture it states there's no MSG in the formulation. HURRAY! Right? or not!

Take a look at the ingredients. Many times companies will use disodium inosinate paired with disodium guanylate in place of MSG. Is it really better? You make the decision, but at least you can make an informed one. :) MMM soooooo deliciously umami (the fifth sense, aka savory).

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year Nachos

Rick and I are huge fans of processed foods, so we rang in 2010 with Nachos! Yum! Tostidos chips, canned refried beans, pourable cheese, avocados with guacamole seasoning, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, canned jalapeno slices, pre-shredded cheese all topped with light sour cream. DELISH!