Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Berry Tart

Summer Berry Puff Pastry Tart

Posted by: Maggie

Look at me actually posting something seasonal, and appropriate for the upcoming 4th of July holiday! I always seem to have the worst timing when it comes to recipes I make, and I always want things like pumpkin at totally inopportune and unseasonal times (umm...like now. It's hot here and I'm craving fall.)

I have to put my desire for fall aside for now, because berries are so gosh darn delicious in the summer that they almost make this disgustingly hot season worthwhile. I do not like summer at all. I just despise the heat and humidity, and all the people who tell me that my hair "doesn't look that bad" when it frizzes so much that I look like Art Garfunkel's long lost sister. The only thing I like about this season is that berries aren't sour and disgusting in June, July, and August like they are the rest of the year.  Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are my favorite fruits, and I usually eat them all before I have a chance to bake with them. 

Come on, look how pretty? Who wouldn't scarf all these down before making dessert? These practically are a dessert! (As you can tell from the pic below I originally planned to use strawberries on the tart too, but changed my mind and just ate them!)


Inhale all the berries you want for the next couple months, but make sure you set aside a small stash to make this tart. It was one of those desserts that I didn't have high expectations for - I just thought it would be something for Jeff and I to snack on - and it totally blew both of us away. We may have polished off the whole tart in two days. It's fruit, so it's ok. 

Summer Berry Puff Pastry Tart

Here's what you'll need:

Flour for your work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
A combination of blueberries and raspberries (blackberries and strawberries would also be great!) I didn't measure the fruit, just eyeball it according to your own tastes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, slightly roll out puff pastry sheet, and transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet. Gently score a 1 inch border around the edge of the puff pastry with a knife, being careful not to cut all the way through. Brush beaten egg on the border you've created, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until golden and puffed, about 18-22 minutes.

Using the tip of a knife, gently re-score the border of your puff pastry without cutting through. Gently flatten the center of the pastry sheet. Cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes. 

While cooling, make the cream cheese mixture. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the heavy cream, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, and beat again until smooth. Spread the mixture in the middle of the cooled pastry sheet. 

Arrange your fruit in desired pattern, and sprinkle with the remaining powdered sugar. Store leftovers (if there are any!) in the fridge.

Source: Real Simple

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mexican Quinoa

Posted by: Annie

I am a complete creature of habit when it comes to my food. Typically I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch, and then decide on one thing to eat for dinner Monday through Thursday. Very, very boring for a food blogger, I know. In the winter I was constantly making black bean soup. I would make a pot on Sunday and eat it every night for dinner during the work week. Lately, I have not been in a black bean soup mood (maybe it is the 90 degree days we have been having here in Philly! Yuck!), but I think this Mexican Quinoa will be my summer replacement for black bean soup! 

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large white onion
10 medium crimini mushrooms, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I could only find grape tomatoes!)
2 small avocados, peeled and diced
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt to taste

Cook quinoa on the stovetop by adding one cup dry quinoa to 1 and ¾ cups water. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes, until cooked and all the water from the pot has evaporated. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.

While the quinoa is cooking dice the onions and mushrooms and sauté over medium heat in one tablespoon olive oil. Heat until lightly browned and the moisture has been cooked from the mushrooms.

Add the cooked quinoa and black beans to the pan with the mushrooms and onions, stir, and heat through.

Add two tablespoons lime juice and lower the heat. Mix in the tomatoes and avocado. I served mine with a dollop of low-fat sour-cream and hot sauce!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Overnight French Toast Casserole

Overnight French Toast Casserole

Posted by: Maggie

So, I've been gone for awhile with no explanation. Sorry. Or should I say...lo siento?

I'm leaving for a work trip to Lima, Peru bright and early tomorrow morning - a trip which is a result of a couple weeks of insane hours at work, and very, very little cooking. While most of the trip will be spent working, I'm super excited to have ceviche and pisco sours somewhere other than the Latin American bar across the street from my office!

Annie was in town visiting last weekend (we went to see the Glee tour!) and I made this french toast casserole for our breakfast one morning. It was obviously way too much food for the both of us, but it would be excellent if you're hosting brunch and don't want to stand over the stove all morning flipping pancakes for people.

Back with more recipes (and pictures of my trip!) soon!

For the French Toast:

1 loaf crusty sourdough or french bread
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For the Topping:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
nutmeg, to taste (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces

Grease a 9x13 glass pan with butter. Tear your bread into small pieces, and place evenly in pan. Beat together eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla, and pour mixture evenly over bread. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

You can make the topping at night and refrigerate separately from the casserole, or mix it together in the morning. To make the topping, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add butter pieces, and using a pastry blender or 2 knives mix together until it resembles coarse crumbs.

When it is time to bake the casserole, sprinkle topping over bread mixture, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve immediately with maple syrup.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Campfire Delight Cupcakes

Posted by: Maggie

Have you noticed that we're big fans of cupcakes around these parts?

Not counting this post, Annie and I have 106 recipes on this blog, 12 of which are cupcakes. 11% of our recipes are cupcakes. Ridiculous. Yet, I continue to bake them.

Of all the delicious things I make (I'm so humble, I know...) nothing elicits a happier response from my culinary guinea pigs than cupcakes. I'm a sucker for praise and admiration, so I keep baking them. When I made lemon cupcakes back in April, one of my coworkers told me the unexpected treat made her day. That's some powerful cake, man.

Jeff and I went to a Memorial Day barbeque last Sunday, and when I asked the hostess what I could bring she specifically requested cupcakes. I was more than happy to oblige, since I look for any excuse to pawn off baked goods to willing recipients. 

When I saw Sweetapolita's recipe for a sky-high, dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow layer cake a few months ago, I'm pretty sure I drooled on my laptop for a solid five minutes while gazing at the delicious looking photos. But, I make cupcakes - I don't do layer cakes. I don't even own a cake pan. While I could have put forth a smidgen of effort and adapted the recipe for cupcakes myself, that's not my style. I forgot all about the cake until a couple weeks ago when she posted the cupcake adaptation of her Campfire Delight cake.

These cupcakes were crazy delicious (anyone remember that reference? I know it's so 2005.) My friends at the barbeque gobbled them up. One guy there compared the cake portion to "a Hostess cupcake that actually tastes fresh." Sorry Hostess, but he's right.

I doubled the recipe and ended up with 53 cupcakes. I sooo did not need that many. The original, un-doubled recipe (as written below) was supposed to yield 18, but be aware that you may end up with a lot more. These cupcakes expand a lot, so be sure not to overfill your cupcake tins.

For the Cupcakes:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line your cupcake tins with paper liners.

Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, add all the wet ingredients. With your mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix for 2 minutes. The batter will be quite soupy - this is ok!

Pour batter into the prepared cupcake fan, filling just slightly more than halfway. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then remove from pan to cool completely.

While you're waiting for the cupcakes to cool, make your filling. DO NOT, make this filling with a hand mixer. You can cream together the butter and sugar with one, but put it away before adding the marshmallow fluff. I'm pretty sure mine is going to die very, very soon as a result of doing so, because the second I turned it on the filling spun around the beaters like cotton candy and got all up in the mixer's crevices. I don't know if a stand mixer would be any different, or if it would have helped had I used a paddle attachment like the recipe indicated. Use your best judgment about your kitchen tools, but I would recommend spraying a metal spoon with non-stick spray and just stirring this together the old fashioned way.

For the filling:

8 large marshmallows
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces Marshmallow Fluff
Pinch of salt

Arrange the marshmallows on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place baking sheet on lower rack of your oven, and toast marshmallows under the broiler until they are brown. Mine took about 3 minutes, but keep an eye on them since they burn very quickly. Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until well blended. Add vanilla and mix on high for 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, and stir well with a non-stick spray coated spoon until well combined.

When your cupcakes are cool, cut a small portion out of the middle with a paring knife, or use one of those handy dandy cupcake corers to make the job easier. I recently got mine at Target for around $5. Using a small piping tip, fill the hollowed out portion of the cupcake with the marshmallow filling.

For the Frosting:

(Double this recipe if you frost heavily, like I did in the picture.)

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar, plus more as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup Classic Ovaltine
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup whipping cream

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until well combined. Add in vanilla and Ovaltine, continue to beat until combined. Add in the melted chocolate, and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Beat in whipping cream on medium high speed for about 2 more minutes. I added about 2 additional cups of powdered sugar to get it to piping consistency.

Frost cooled, filled cupcakes with frosting, garnish with chocolate sprinkles and a Whopper candy, if desired.

I recommend storing these in the fridge due to the cream in the frosting, but be sure to bring them to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

Source: Sweetapolita
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