Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


Posted by: Maggie

You didn't honestly thing we were done with pumpkin yet, did you? I'm pretty sure I've had this recipe from Smitten Kitchen bookmarked since she posted it almost two years ago, but I'm just getting around to making it now.


Jeff and I are having a very Halloween/fall themed weekend.  We plan to see Paranormal Activity 2, carve jack-o-lanterns, and go to a haunted forest.  The haunted forest doesn't allow children, so I'm hoping that means it's actually scary! I wanted to make a Halloween themed treat to go along with our fun, and when I gave Jeff the vote between these cupcakes and another Halloween recipe I have saved, he chose these.

A couple notes about the frosting...

 - It's very soft, even though I adjusted the ingredients as per suggestions on the original source of the recipe.  I was able to pipe it using a large round tip - I wouldn't suggest using a star tip since it doesn't hold its shape well.  After piping the frosting onto each individual cupcake I stuck them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up.

- While delicious, I can't taste the maple flavor at all.  I think if I upped the amount of syrup that would make the frosting even less stable.  I wonder how maple extract would affect the flavor? If anyone tries it out let me know!

About the decorations...

- I bought an "Autumn Mix" from the grocery store that contained pumpkins and two colors of candy corn.  They need to sell those little pumpkins on their own - they're so cute for decorating if I do say so myself!

- They're not pictured because I unfortunately only had a couple minutes to photograph these before heading out the door, but I decorated some of them with a candied pecan half in place of the candy pumpkin.  When I first started cooking I was always really frustrated when recipes called for something like candied pecans, but didn't actually say how to do it.  It's not always obvious to new cooks! To make them, put 2 1/2 tablespoons of white sugar, and 1/2 cup pecan halves into a small skillet.  Stir constantly until the sugar caramelizes and coats the pecans.  The sugar will seem to melt suddenly - for about 5 minutes you'll just be pushing sugar around in a pan thinking it will never liquefy.

Here's what you'll need:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
Candied pecans and Autumn Mix for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line cupcake pans with 18 paper liners.

Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium for about 5 minutes, or until fluffy.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.  Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk/vanilla mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full, and lightly rap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - about 20-25 minutes. Cool on racks completely before frosting.

Frosting recipe:

12 oz (1.5 packages) cream cheese, softened
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 c maple syrup

Mix ingredients together on medium speed until fluffy. 

adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Leite's Culinaria

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mexican Chicken Casserole


Posted by: Annie

I pretty much love anything that you can top with guacamole. Sometimes when I am in restaurants I actually order dishes based on whether or not they are served with a side of "guac". I made this dish because I really wanted to eat the guacamole that was sitting in my fridge calling my name. In retrospect, I realized I could have just enjoyed the guacamole with a handful of chips, however my obsession with the avocado goodness led me to cook and discover a new favorite - Mexican Chicken Casserole. I served up this Mexican inspired dish with loads of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. 


What you will need:
1 cup fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
2 (4.5 oz) cans chopped green chiles
1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated fat free milk
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup light cream cheese
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
12 (6 inch) tortillas
cooking spray
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 oz tortilla chips, crushed (about six chips)

Combine the chicken broth and one can of chiles in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. (flip the chicken once during this process) Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside the cooking liquid. Once the chicken cools, use two forks to shred the meat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Mix in the remaining can of chiles and the chopped onion. Saute until soft. Mix in the reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey jack, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce, stir well. Add in the shredded chicken and cook for an additional two minutes. Remove the mixture from heat.

Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Layer four tortillas on the bottom of the dish and spoon 2 cups of the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Repeat this step two more times- the final layer will be the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake for thirty minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cornbread


Posted by: Maggie

Delicious, moist, perfection.

What you'll need:

1/2 cup salted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 t baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet.  Remove from heat, and stir in sugar.  Dump into a medium bowl, and quickly add eggs, beating until well blended.  In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk with baking soda, and stir into butter mixture.  Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Mine had already started to get dark at the edges by 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it for burning. 

Source

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Black Bean Soup


Posted by: Maggie

A couple years ago for Christmas, my mom made me a recipe box as one of my gifts.  It included this simple and delicious black bean soup recipe that has become a staple in my kitchen.  Typically I'm not crazy about eating leftovers, but since soup is one of those rare foods that tastes better the second day, I'm sure I'll be getting a few lunches out of it this week.

I also mixed up some homemade cornbread and baked it while I was making the soup.  I mentioned last month that I'd baked a failure of a cornbread recipe, and needed to find a good one to make up for it.  I found an awesome recipe that I will be sharing tomorrow...get excited, it's that good.

Here's what you'll need for the soup:

2 T canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T cumin
1/4 t red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (16 oz) cans black beans, undrained
1 can (14.5 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth
16 oz jar hot salsa 
2 T lime juice

Heat canola oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Cook onion until tender. Add in spices, and saute until fragrant. Add in garlic and saute for one additional minutes. Remove from heat.

In a blender or food processor, puree two cans of the beans, with liquid.  Stir into saucepan.  Stir in remaining beans, salsa, broth, and lime juice.  Heat mixture to a boil over medium to medium high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste if desired.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Classic Hummus


Posted by: Maggie

Little known fact: the very person who posted this hot mess, and this yummyness, and this reason to go to the gym for eleventy billion hours straight, used to be a vegetarian.  I'm not going to tell the story of how and why I became a vegetarian, because although I have the utmost respect for people who can maintain that lifestyle, I would never wish a bacon-free fate upon anyone.  And, if I tell you the reasons that led me to my several year long, self-imposed hiatus from meat, you may become a vegetarian yourself.  They're that compelling.  Trust me.

Anyway, I may no longer eat sad cheese sandwiches for lunch, or claim that tofu hot dogs are as tasty as the real thing, but one food item has stuck with me since I first tried it as a difficult 16-year old vegetarian back in 2000.  Hummus.  I actually remember my mom bringing home what can only be described as a hummus and pita "snack pack", and falling in love with the delicious garlicky substance.  She was probably just trying to find a way for me to get protein from a food other than cheese, but she ended up introducing me to one of my favorite foods on the planet.

Up until last night, I never made hummus on my own.  But now that I've realized how simple it is (and paid $8 for a jar of tahini I'm determined to use up) I'll surely be making it again.  I see a red pepper, or an eggplant version on the horizon.

Now, onto the recipe.  Serve this with baby carrots, pita bread, or pita chips.  Or just dip your fist into the bowl and lick it off.

Here's what you'll need to yield approximately 2 cups:

3 T lemon juice
1/4 c water (plus more to thin out hummus to desired consistency)
6 T tahini, stirred well
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 minced garlic cloves (I used the minced, jarred garlic - about 1.5 t)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
Parsley, for garnish

Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl.  In a separate small bowl, mix together tahini and oil.

Process chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the food processor bowl, and add lemon/water mixture.  Process for 1 minute.  Scrape the sides of the food processor bowl again, and add tahini/oil mixture.  Process for 15 seconds.  Give it a taste, and add more seasoning if needed, or water to thin to your desired consistency (I added about 3 extra tablespoons of water).  If you added more seasoning or water, continue to process until creamy.  

Transfer to a serving bowl, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.   

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Rotini


Posted by: Maggie

This is a pasta dish that I make fairly regularly, but finally got around to photographing and writing up last night.  It's a great weeknight dish since it takes about 30 minutes total from start to finish.

I adapted the recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook I've had for years.  The recipe says it serves 4, but it really serves 2 if your appetite is more hearty than that of a goldfish.  Don't let the fact that it's a Weight Watchers recipe deter you from trying it - it's quite flavorful, not to mention filling thanks to the fiber packed spinach and whole wheat pasta.  (No they're not paying me to say this, I just really love this pasta!)

Lastly, give the raisins a chance.  I thought they were going to be weird the first time I made this too, but they're very tasty.  According to the cookbook, spinach, ricotta, and raisins are a classic combination in Sicily and southern Italy.  I don't know anything about that, I'm just repeating what the cookbook tells me!

P.S.  Happy birthday to my fabulous sister and co-blogger Annie!!! It's been a delightful 23 years and I'm so proud to call you my sister and friend!

Weren't we cute?!


Now, back to the pasta...here's what you'll need:

2 T golden raisins
2 cups whole wheat rotini
1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach
4 t olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 t salt
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 t pepper

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in hot water until soft and plumped, about 10 minutes.  Drain and discard water.

Cook the rotini according to package directions.  Drain and place in serving bowl.

Meanwhile, cook the spinach according to package directions (I did this in the microwave).  After it has completed cooking, drain and squeeze out the excess liquid.

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion until softened, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat and stir in the cooked spinach and salt.  Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Add the spinach, raisins, Parmesan, and ricotta to the rotini.

Toss to combine, then sprinkle with the pepper.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Apple Bread


Posted by: Annie

Can you tell we love pumpkin on this blog? Here is another delicious fall recipe to add to our rapidly growing pumpkin recipe collection.  I split this recipe in half because we only have one bread pan at my house, and I did not feel like waiting in between loaves to clean up.  The recipe posted below is the original, and yields two loaves.

What you will need:

3 cups flour
2 t ground cinnamon (I doubled this)
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 c apple juice or water (I used water and the apple flavor was still strong)
1 large baking apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans (I used Pam cooking spray meant for baking and it worked out perfectly)

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and water/juice. Beat the ingredients until well blended. Mix the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture until moistened.  Stir in the apples, and pour into prepared bread pans.

Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pans, and continue to cool on wire racks.

Source

Monday, October 11, 2010

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup


Posted by: Annie

Finally the temperatures have started to drop and I can annoy people around me by loving the cold. I can also make soup. This soup was a major hit in my house. We are notorious for never eating our leftovers, but every drop of this soup was finished. Also, besides being delicious this soup is healthy!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon bottled grated ginger (I could not find this in a bottle, so I finely grated a fresh piece of ginger)
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled (I also could not find this ingredient. I was at the mercy of Fresh Grocer by my work so I omitted this ingredient)
2 cups water
2 (14 oz) cans fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
1 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta (I probably added a little more than 4 oz, but just remember to add more broth if you want a nice broth to noodle ratio)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red chile pepper, finely chopped (I used half of a chile pepper)


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute garlic, ginger, and lemongrass (or not, in my case) for three minutes.  Stir in water and broth, and bring to a boil.  Once the water/broth combination has reached a boil, add in chicken and pasta.  Cook for an additional five minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Remove from heat (at this point I dumped the contents of my skillet into a big soup pot for easier stirring) and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Let stand 5 minutes and discard lemongrass (if used).


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies


Posted by: Maggie

Thanks to my love for pumpkin, another key fall flavor has been unfairly neglected here on A Bitchin' Kitchen.  I decided to bake something with apple to help make our quickly growing collection of fall recipes more well rounded.

While browsing through the archives of one of my favorite baking blogs - Visions of Sugar Plum, I came across the recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies, and immediately knew it was the fall recipe I was looking for. 

I was a bit worried about finding dried apples, but I was able to track them down in the baking aisle at Harris Teeter (not with the raisins, or the other dried fruits in produce as I had originally suspected).  Funny story, while at the grocery store picking up ingredients for these cookies, I knocked over an economy sized glass jar of applesauce, broke it, and then ran away from the scene of the crime.  Who does that? It's like I immediately regressed to being a 5 year old and was afraid of telling an employee that I made a mess.  I feel like I should send them a batch of these delicious cookies to apologize.

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup apple sauce (I used sweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup finely chopped dried apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and then stir in oats.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and applesauce on medium speed until creamy.  Add in egg and vanilla until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in oat mixture.  Stir in pecans, butterscotch, and apples until combined.

Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto cookie sheets about an inch apart.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheets, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

*Note - I almost always chill cookie dough for 30 minutes or so before baking, but I found it to be unnecessary with these.  They don't spread much at all, and I ended up rolling the dough into small balls and slightly flattening them to get a nicely shaped cookie. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beef Enchiladas


Posted by: Maggie

One of the many great things about having Jeff in my life is that I feel more inclined to make labor intensive or time consuming recipes for dinner.   It never seems quite worth it to cook something that takes longer than 30 minutes when I'm the only one eating it.  Fortunately, Jeff is a willing guinea pig when it comes to my cooking endeavors.  I'm also fortunate that he's patient, since we did not start dinner on Friday until 8:50 since these (worth the wait) enchiladas took Sooooo. Stinkin'. Long.

This recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook, which my lovely sister and co-blogger Annie gave to me for Christmas.  You can also find the recipe online here.

It's easy to adjust this recipe to your desired spiciness since it calls for canned green chilies and red sauce, both of which are usually available in mild, medium, or hot.  I used mild stuff, but ended up dousing my portion in Tabasco, so next time I make these I'll probably use spicier ingredients. 

Here's what you'll need:

For the sauce...
1 T canola oil
1 T all-purpose flour
1 can (28 oz) enchilada or Mexican red sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T chopped cilantro

For the meat...
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 whole medium onion, finely diced
2 4 oz. cans diced green chilies
1/2 t salt

For the tortillas... 
10-14 corn tortillas
1/2 cup canola oil

For assembly...
3 cups grated cheddar
1/2 cup chopped black olives (I left these out because Jeff doesn't like olives, but I think they would be delicious if you use them!)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional, for garnish)

Step #1 – The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Step #2 – The Meat
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives (if using), and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. If desired, sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving. Serve with sour cream and Mexican rice, and enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies


Posted by: Maggie

Happy October!

It's time for more pumpkin!!! When I mentioned on Tuesday that I have a truckload of pumpkin recipes to get through, I wasn't kidding in the slightest.  I see a lot of recipes for pumpkin cheesecake, and pumpkin brownies, but I wanted a recipe that combined the two.  Unfortunately, I'm not talented enough to make up recipes on my own, so I was happy when I came across exactly what I was looking for on Beantown Baker's blog originally from Cara's Cravings.

I know a lot of people are weirded out by the chocolate/pumpkin combo, but believe me, it's delicious.  Then again, what isn't better with chocolate?  I tried chocolate covered bacon at this restaurant called CoCo Sala back in February, and it was everything I dreamed it would be.


Here's what you'll need:

Brownie Batter
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Cheesecake Batter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
2 T + 2 t all-purpose flour
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 t vanilla extract
2/3 t cinnamon
1/3 t ground ginger*
1/3 t ground cloves*

*Do 1/3 teaspoons even exist? My brain was feeling a tad gelatinous last night from playing flip cup, and rather than try and figure out that situation I just used heaping 1/4 teaspoons...moving on...

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" square metal baking pan.

Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients.

Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together by running a butter knife back and forth through the pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.
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