Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mini Funfetti Cupcakes

Look at these cuties right here. Don't you want to pinch their cheeks and then gobble them right up?!

If you are feeling down, just scroll through these pictures and I can guarantee a smile will start to creep up on your lips.

Let's make homemade funfetti cupcakes, and let's make them into little bebes, and let's top them with a creamy dreamy vanilla buttercream. I think this is a great idea.

For me, funfetti instantly brings me back to childhood. The nostalgia alone has me craving a second batch. These cupcakes have a nice soft crumb thanks to the use of Greek yogurt, which replaces about half the butter of a traditional cupcake.

This recipe is just like the wonderful boxed cake mix and frosting tub-o-sugar cream of our childhood, elevated with a bit of adult class. Since we are never too old for sprinkles, we are using two kinds. First, traditional waxy rainbow sprinkles (some people call them jimmies? I don't trust those people) get mixed all throughout the cake batter. Then, after piping our buttercream, we are going to make-it-raaaain non-pareilles. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

You could also use those flat, circular sprinkles in the batter. Whatever you do--do NOT use non-pareilles anywhere within the cupcake. They will bleed their color right into the batter and leave you with very unappealing tie-dye batter rather than fun speckles of color.

OK, that's enough business for one day. It is cupcake time!

Here's what you need for Mini Funfetti Cupcakes* (Print Recipe!)

For the cupcakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain fat-free greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles (not non-pareilles)

For the frosting
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 or 3 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)

Here's what you do

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 24 cup mini muffin tin with festive mini cupcake wrappers (see note).

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring the first egg is fully incorporated before adding in the second. Turn the speed down to medium low and add half the yogurt, vanilla, sprinkles, and dry mixture. Repeat with the second half, mixing until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to give the batter one last stir, making sure to scrape up the bottom of the bowl.

Use a small ice cream scoop to dollop the batter into the muffin tin, about 3/4 full. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, prepare the buttercream. In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the butter until fluffy, at least five minutes. This seems like a long time but that is how you will get pillow-y frosting!

Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla extract as well as the powdered sugar little by little. Once all the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream. You may add the remaining heavy cream if you prefer a looser frosting, or simply omit it if the frosting is to a consistency of your liking.

Place the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a star tip and frost the cupcakes. Sprinkle with a few non-pareilles for a fun finishing touch. Keep in the fridge and bring to room temperature about an hour before serving.

Note: I actually got 30 cupcakes out of this batter. I only had one mini muffin tin so I just lined the tin with 6 additional liners after the pan cooled after the first batch. These may not need the full 8 to 10 minutes of cook time, so be sure to watch a smaller second batch carefully.

*Recipe adapted from Roxana's Home Baking
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Pizza with Parmesan Ranch Cream Sauce

That is quite a lengthy recipe title, but it just goes to show that this pizza recipe is JAM PACKED with flavors.

Last week I made my Chicken Pot Pockets for dinner (one of our favorite weeknight recipes!), and we found ourselves with extra pot pie filling than there was puff pastry to stuff. I packed it away in the fridge sadly, thinking for sure this would ultimately get tossed in the garbage as most forgotten leftovers do.

The next day I was still thinking about that chicken pot pie filling--what can I say, food really is always on my mind. That's when it hit me. Pizza. Pizza makes everything better and generally everything tastes better when it is on a pizza.

I told Cory what my plan was and he giggled like a school girl was totally on board with the idea. My general vision was a white cream sauce, chicken pot pie filling, mozzarella and garlic or herbs on top. Then, in an effort to show me up, Cory suggests making the cream sauce a RANCH cream sauce. Ugh, this is love.

Needless to say it was exactly what the pizza needed. A light side salad was the perfect accompaniment to make this pizza into a meal. Sure, it seems a little indulgent and it is. Pizza = indulgence. And pizza = happiness, so don't sell yourself short--you DESERVE this Chicken Pot Pie Pizza with Parmesan Ranch Cream Sauce.

It's also a great excuse to make chicken pot pockets first. You know, just spreading our dollars. The recipe below will make 2 12-inch pizzas--perfect for feeding a crowd!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fresh Corn and Pesto Salad

Summer in a dish. Here it is, here it is. And it is tastier than you could have ever imagined.

Fresh is best, and this salad is all that and a bag of chips. Minus the chips.

Fresh Corn and Pesto Salad is the perfect side dish for your next cookout! I'm thinking any Fourth of July spread would be made better with this recipe on the table. All of the greatest gifts of summer are jam packed into one wonderful and tasty salad.

Let's first talk about fresh corn. Crisp and slightly sweet. Perfectly golden. Ugh. Love it. I literally love corn. There, I said it. And when you can get fresh corn, on the cob, well--what are you waiting for? Make this salad!!

Along with juicy/sweet/crisp corn, cut right off the cob, we are going to throw chopped cherry tomatoes and green bell peppers into a nice, big serving bowl. After a little toss to mix things up, we are going to coat the whole she-bang in a delicious pesto sauce. Traditional pesto is all we need here. The freshness of the basil with the rich bite of pine nuts and the salty tang of parmesan cheese elevates the flavor and send it off the charts.

Enjoy this salad with a burger. Or hot dog. Or grilled sausage. Or a shrimp bake. Anything! I have eaten this salad 3 times in the past week and I think it will be a staple on your summer table as well :-) Enjoy!

Here's what you need for Fresh Corn and Pesto Salad* (Print Recipe!)

4 ears of fresh corn, husked
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil, cleaned and picked off the stems
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 to 1 cup parmesan cheese
about 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you do

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and par-boil for about 5 minutes. Strain and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Once cool enough to handle, carefully cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to a large bowl. Toss in the tomatoes and peppers.

Combine the basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse 5 to 7 times until everything is finely chopped. With the processor running, slowly drizzle the olive oil through the spout until a smooth sauce forms. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl to be sure you get all the good stuff! Pulse twice more.

Add half the pesto to the corn mixture and gently stir to incorporate. Once most of the vegetables have been well coated, add the remaining pesto and toss again. Chill for at least 30 minutes up to a couple of hours and stir well before serving.

Can I have some, mama?

*Gas Stove Girl original recipe

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

In the world of chewy, decadent, delicious cookies, I think these little bebes reign supreme. They are a wonderful marriage of crumbly peanut butter cookies, gooey chocolate chip cookies, and chewy oatmeal cookies. The trifecta, if you will.

Bonus! These cookies are dairy free and contain no flour. Perhaps they aren't completely guilt-free, but I completely support having an extra 2 or 3. They are just the perfect little snack bite!

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies come together in a mixing bowl with a strong wooden spoon. A little elbow grease goes a long way. Softened cashew butter is our base. Nutty, slightly sweet, totally decadent. To the cashew butter we add unsweetened apple sauce, quick oats, baking soda, a pinch of salt, and a bit of sugar. Because we are worth it, I toss in some mini chocolate chips--totally necessary!

I really cannot say enough good things about these cookies. I am obsessed with cashews and, as a result, absolutely love cashew butter. But don't worry--if you have almond butter or peanut butter on hand, they will work just as well! If you want a more traditional oatmeal cookie, feel free to sub out the chocolate chips for a few raisins instead!

Add these cookies to your next BBQ menu--they are sure to be a hit (and nobody will know they are just a teeeeny bit healthier than most cookies!)

Here's what you need for Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies* (Print Recipe!)

1/2 cup softened cashew butter
1/2 cup quick oats
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here's what you do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

If your cashew butter is not to a stir-able consistency, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time. Cool to room temperature and add to a medium mixing bowl. Add in the oats, salt, baking soda, sugar, and applesauce and stir until completely combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Using a small ice cream scoop, roll 1 tablespoon sized balls of the dough and place on the baking sheet. Be sure to leave about 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake for 8 minutes until the edges are just golden but the cookies are still a little gooey in the middle. If your cookies did not spread, use the bottom of a flat glass to flatten the cookies about 1/2 inch thick. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Cookies will last well-wrapped at room temperature for about 3 days (though I doubt they last that long!)

*Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Oh yes, oh yes, you're welcome.

Say it with me now: Peanut. Butter. Ice Cream. Peanut. Butter. ICE CREAM!!

I am still trying to figure out if my mom getting me an ice cream machine was the best or worst thing to happen to me. Probably a little bit of both. Sure, my waistline isn't THRILLED but in everything other sense, ice cream machine = life.

Many ice cream recipes are custard based, so it involves egg yolks, and tempering said egg yolks, and letting the mixture thicken. And these ice creams are delicious, they really are. But this. Ooooh, this.

This Peanut Butter Ice Cream is ridiculously simple. Fool-proof, even. But more importantly than that, it is outrageously delicious. It is made of a just a few good ingredients, and it is this simplicity that takes this ice cream above and beyond. The salty sweet joy of peanut butter packed into every creamy, cool spoonful.

As long as you have an ice cream maker (or a very nice friend with a ice cream maker!) you can absolutely make this recipe! And trust me when I say you should make it A.S.A.P.!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chicken Caesar Sandwiches with Dill Potato Salad

I think picnics are an under-utilized date idea.

What is more fun and romantic than packing up a homemade meal, preparing refreshing adult beverages, and enjoying dinner in the park? 

Yesterday was the first perfectly warm summer day in Boston so Cory and I wanted to be sure we spent some time outside enjoying the sunshine. A picnic down at Jamaica Pond was just what the doctor ordered!

I prepared simple but delicious Chicken Caesar Sandwiches with a side of Dill Potato Salad. A great picnic meal should be easily portable and just as delicious chilled, warm, or at room temperature. For this meal, I prepared the potato salad ahead of time and the sandwiches just before we packed up to leave. 

I think the best compliment Cory gave was saying how it felt like we had bought the sandwiches at a nice sandwich place. And they are an absolute cinch to make, for far less dough than you'd spend at a local sandwich shop! The homemade potato salad is just a bonus! I lightened it up by using greek yogurt and dijon mustard for the dressing, and tossing it with red and yellow potatoes, celery, shallots, and fresh dill. Totally fresh and delish. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas with Corn and Avocado Salad

I have a very urgent message from my kitchen to yours: YOU NEED TO MAKE THESE QUESADILLAS.

I was telling my friend about this mouthwatering creation and she said: "I am convinced that barbecue sauce is the greatest condiment of all time." This was such a wonderful nugget of wisdom--it is so true!

I had a hard time photographing these BBQ Chicken Quesadillas with Corn and Avocado Salad but I knew I needed to share this recipe with you immediately. This was one of those meals that I cooked, plated, took a bite and immediately closed my eyes and said "MMMMmmmmMMmmmm." When that happens...well, people need to know about it.

There are a few key components take these quesadillas above and beyond. Tender chicken breast that is baked to perfection, crusted in a bunch of tasty spices is a good place to start. Thinly sliced red onions add a necessary tang. Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce because...well...see comment above. Monterey Jack cheese is an absolute necessity--it melts so wonderfully and keeps all the tasty goodness packed inside crispy whole wheat tortillas.

Because we can't stop, won't stop, I also add some crispy bacon strips. Duh.

There are a few different ways that people build quesadillas. I prefer laying one tortilla in a big pan, adding all the fillings to one side then folding the tortilla in half to form a half moon. Some people layer one tortilla on top of another and cut it like a pizza, but I tend to lose all my filling this way.

When it comes to bringing this whole meal together, sour cream is a great way to cool down the spicy tang of the barbecue sauce. The corn and avocado salad is fresh and light, the perfect compliment to our crispy, gooey quesadillas. Let's get to it -- I know you can't wait any longer!