Thursday, February 24, 2011

Black Magic Cupcakes

Posted by: Annie

Confession: I actually made these cupcakes for Valentine's Day, but knew that I would not have the post ready, so I purposely set one cupcake aside and decorated it with non-Valentine's sprinkles. (Boo me and my slow posting.) These cupcakes were very rich, but the super light frosting balanced out the cupcake perfectly. I shared these cupcakes with my co-workers on Valentine's Day, and actually used them to bribe two students to finish their multiplication problems. Behold the power of cupcakes...

For the cake:

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong coffee

For the frosting:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powders, baking soda and powder, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, use a mixer to beat together oil and sugar, on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined, approximately two minutes. Beat in buttermilk and coffee. Reduce the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture.

Fill each cupcake tin 3/4 of the way full. Bake 25 minutes until the top of the cupcakes appear firm. Remove from pan and cool thoroughly before frosting.

For the frosting...beat cream in a large bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form.

In a separate large bowl, beat butter and sour cream on medium speed until creamy. Add in sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt, and beat for approximately 2 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate and fold in whipped cream until well blended.

Frost cupcakes and decorate!
Source: Sugar Plum

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas

Posted by: Annie

This recipe has been sitting in my favorites since early January and they were well worth the wait! These are hands down one of my favorite dishes I have ever made. 

I was unexpectedly off from work last week due to approximately five inches of snow that blanketed Philadelphia, and I took advantage of my time home and whipped up these addictive enchiladas.

8 large whole wheat tortillas
3 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
28 oz red enchilada sauce
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
1 tbsp BBQ seasoning 
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and salt and cook until golden (10 minutes). In a separate bowl mix enchilada sauce and BBQ sauce until well combined. 
Mix chicken, bbq seasoning and cayenne pepper in with the onions. Stir in 1/2 cup enchilada/BBQ sauce mixture and add in 1/2 cup cheddar, and 1/2 cup colby jack cheese. Stir until mixture is combined, and turn off heat.

Drizzle enchilada/BBQ sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture. (I separated the mixture into eight sections in the pan to ensure an even fill). Roll each tortilla up and place in the baking dish. Pour the remaining enchilada/BBQ sauce on the tortillas and add remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lemon Bars

Posted by: Maggie

Thursday through Saturday of last week were absolutely gorgeous here in Washington, DC.  While I'm typically a lover of cold weather, it was a really nice change to have a few 70-something degree days in a row, and it really got me looking forward to spring. 

I usually try to have some type of baked treat around on the weekend when Jeff is here, and I thought these lemon bars from Heather Christo's site (thanks!) looked like a nice fresh treat to match the sunny weather. 

These absolutely did not disappoint.  They had the perfect amount of tart lemon filling, and even my chocolate loving boyfriend really enjoyed these.  I meant to distribute the leftovers among my friends when I saw them yesterday, but I forgot the container in my fridge.  Now I have half a pan of these taunting me.  Sigh.  I guess I'll just have to eat them myself!

Here's what you'll need:

For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
4 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Using a pastry cutter/dough blender (or a food processor) thoroughly combine the crust ingredients.  I used a dough blender since my food processor is tiny, and this takes a good 10 minutes (and expect a sore arm!)

Firmly press the crust into the pan using a spatula, and poke a few holes with a fork to release steam while baking.

Bake crust for 15 minutes.  When you remove it from the oven, press down with a spatula to release air bubbles and make a more compact crust. 

While the crust is baking, make the filling.  Whisk together eggs in a medium bowl until fluffy.  Add the sugar, whisking constantly until well combined.  Add the flour and mix until well combined.  Lastly, add the lemon juice and whisk until thoroughly combined. 

Pour the filling over the hot crust when it comes out of the oven.  Return to the oven to cook for another 15 minutes.  Let the lemon bars cool completely (I stuck mine in the fridge because I'm impatient), and sift powdered sugar over the top before cutting into bars. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Butterscotch Muffins

Posted by: Maggie

I think I've mentioned a couple times that I play in an adult kickball league here in DC.  In the winter since it's obviously too cold to run around on the national mall where we typically have our games, we play at a gym in Dupont Circle.

Since I'm playing on Sunday afternoons this season, our team has been either going out to brunch or taking turns hosting before the game.  Last Sunday I went to a brunch hosted at my friend's place, and brought these along as my contribution.  They were super moist and delicious, and reminded me of the muffin version of these cookies I made in the fall.

What you will need:

For the muffins:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup applesauce
2 large eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
¾ cup butterscotch chips
¾ cup chopped apples
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped

For topping (optional):
Dried apple slices
Maple syrup
Granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin pans with paper liners (about 18 liners total) and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix lightly with a fork to blend, and stir in the oats.  Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract until blended.

With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating just until incorporated.  Fold in the butterscotch chips, apples, and toasted pecans.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.  These muffins don't rise very much, so don't be worried about filling the cups higher than you normally would.  If desired, press a dried apple slice into the top of the batter in each cup.  Drizzle lightly with maple syrup and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh, siblings...

Posted by: Maggie

So, no new recipe until tomorrow morning, but I had to share this funny little tidbit.  Co-blogger Annie and I have an eighteen-year old sister named Emma.  Emma caught wind of the fact that we use  to track our blog statistics, and thought it would be funny to load up the tracker with ridiculous search terms.  I'm pretty sure my neighbors heard me howling with laughter when I saw these this evening.

(Click to see the whole search query...I'm not computer savvy enough to figure out why it won't display the whole image.)

These are only the PG rated ones; there were several more unprintable google queries. 

Thanks for the laugh Emma.  I can't speak for Annie, but I never blog drunk, I almost always cook with pants on, and I always thoroughly sanitize my hands before baking.  And uhh...when I'm cooking for others I always wear pants.  All of you out there who have actually eaten my food can continue to fearlessly do so.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cranberry Orange Salad

Posted by: Maggie

A few years ago before I really got into cooking, my mom made me a recipe box with about a dozen easy recipes that she made while I was growing up, that were easy enough for a cooking novice to conquer.  This recipe was one of them. 

This salad, which is actually titled "Christmas Salad" on the recipe card, is frequently served in our household before - you guessed it - Christmas dinner.  However, there is nothing inherently Christmasey about it, and since I didn't have it this holiday season I felt the need to remedy that situation.

My mom never adds goat cheese to her salad, but I was eating this as a meal and wanted a little something extra to make it more filling. Feel free to leave it off if you're not into goat cheese - it will still be insanely delicious.  I'm just a sucker for any salad with the fruit/nut/cheese trifecta, and this quick recipe is no exception. 

What you'll need:

For the vinaigrette: 
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 T cranberry or white wine vinegar
2 T sugar
1 t Dijon mustard
1/4 t salt

For the salad:
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 T sugar
1 bag (10 oz) dark leafy salad blend (I think mine was called baby greens)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 small log goat cheese, sliced

Mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a container with a lid, and shake well to combine.  Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with a sheet of waxed paper and set aside.  Combine pecans and sugar in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar caramelizes.  Transfer pecans to waxed paper, and let cool before breaking apart.

Toss lettuce with dressing. 

Arrange lettuce, cranberries, oranges, onions, goat cheese, and pecans on a plate.  Commence drooling.

Source: Maggie and Annie's lovely mom (Update: Maggie and Annie's lovely mom thinks the salad was possibly from Southern Living, but a quick search for Southern Living Christmas Salad didn't bring up anything similar.  Sorry to the original source!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mini Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes

Posted by: Maggie

I'm kind of in disbelief that I haven't posted a cheesecake recipe on here yet.  It's one of my all time favorite desserts, especially types that have a fruit topping or swirl to cut the cheesecake's intense richness and sweetness.

I brought half of these into work, and one of my coworkers who isn't even into sweets went back for seconds and thirds.  Usually I'm pretty good at only trying one or two or whatever I make, but the few I have leftover are calling my name from the fridge.  So much for attempting to make portion controlled sweets!

These would also be a perfect Valentine's treat for your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, sister, landlord, hairdresser, electrician, plumber, dentist, or cat.  Actually, not that last one. ;)

Anyone have any fun Valentine's Day plans? Last year Valentine's Day was on a Sunday, and Jeff and I went out the following weekend (instead of that Saturday or Sunday) to CoCo Sala.  I actually really liked doing that, since we were able to avoid the crowds, and order from the regular menu instead of your typical overpriced Valentine's Day prix fixe.  We're going to PS7's this Saturday, which I'm pretty psyched about.  I think they'll still have their normal menu on Saturday.  I'm looking forward to trying them - they're a dressy place, but have mini-hot dogs as an appetizer, and cocktails made with Miller High Life.  In other words, straight up awesomeness.

Here's what you will need:

For the crust:
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar

For the topping:
6 oz. fresh raspberries
2 tbsp. sugar

For the filling:
2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and line cupcake pans with paper liners (I got these awesome hot pink ones from Bake It Pretty in case you're wondering!)  In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar, and stir until crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Press one tablespoon of the graham mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  I used a shot glass to press it down - it was the perfect size.  Bake for 5 minutes, until just set and transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the raspberry puree, combine raspberries and sugar to a food processor, and pulse until completely smooth.  Pour puree through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of the seeds.

To make the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Blend in the sugar until smooth.  Mix in the salt and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

To assemble, spoon 3 tablespoons of the cheesecake batter over the crust in each cupcake liner.  Dot a ½ teaspoon of the raspberry puree in a few dots over the cheesecake filling.  Use a toothpick or a wooden skewer to lightly swirl and create a marbled effect.

Bake until the filling is set, about 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let chill for at least 4 hours before serving.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Irish Cheesy Beer Bake

Posted by: Annie

In my house, snow day and comfort food go hand in hand. That is how during last weeks snow day homemade mozzarella sticks, and macaroni cheese were consumed in the same sitting. My roommate told me that she saw this particular mac & cheese recipe on a Rachel Ray cook-off and when I heard it involved beer- I was sold. Unfortunately, white Irish cheddar was not to be found at my local grocery store, and in the snowy weather I was not going to attempt to drive to my favorite foodstore (I drive twenty minutes out of my way every weekend to grocery shop - that is how serious I am about my groceries), so regular white cheddar had to suffice. Nonetheless, the macaroni was creamy, had an awesome flavor and a bit of a bite!

What you will need:
2- 12oz bottles of an Irish lager beer
16 oz rotini pasta
6 T butter, divided
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 c flour
2 cups half and half
12 oz grated White Irish Cheddar or regular white cheddar
8 oz grated Medium Cheddar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large sauce pot, heat the beer and bring to a boil. Next, reduce the heat and simmer until the beer has reduced by half. Set aside.
In a separate pot cook pasta according to package directions.
In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add in onions and cook until soft, approximately four minutes. Next, stir in the garlic and saute for an additional two minutes. Add in flour and whisk constantly for three minutes. Pour in the beer, half-and-half, and heat to a boil, once again consistently whisking. Lower the heat,  simmer and stir occasionally  until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low and mix in the two cheeses; stir until melted and smooth. Mix in the salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked pasta and tomato halves. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. 
In the microwave melt 2T butter. Mix with breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Posted by: Annie

The other day I did a very dangerous thing- I went food shopping without a shopping list. I ended up with three bags of shredded carrots...and I had no recipe in mind. This led me to make a cupcake version of one of my favorite desserts- Carrot Cake. The original recipe called for raisins, but I left them out because I am not a huge fan of them in carrot cake. 

What you will need:

2 c sugar
1 1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extra
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups flour
2 t cinnamon
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 salt
3 cups grated carrots 
1 cup raisins 
1 cup chopped walnuts (1/2 cup extra for garnish)

3/4 lb cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 pound unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 t vanilla extract
1 lb confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl beat together sugar, oil and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix in half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir in the carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the dry ingredients and add to the batter. Mix well until combined. 
Line a muffin pan with liners and scoop batter into 22 muffin cups; each cup should be about 3/4 of the way full. For the first ten minutes bake the cupcakes at 400 degrees. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from cupcake pans and cool.

For the frosting, cream the cheese, butter and vanilla. Stir in the sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth. 
Frost cupcakes when cool, and garnish with walnuts if desired. 

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