Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Funfetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream


Posted by: Annie

I am officially in a very fall festive mood! This past weekend, Scott and I went out for Halloween dressed as Spartan cheerleaders from the 1990s Saturday Night Live skits that featured Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri.  It was actually the first time Scott and I ever dressed up for Halloween together (and this was our FIFTH Halloween as a couple!) 

I stubbornly decided that I was not going to pay an absurd amount for a polyester costume that I could easily make, so not only did Scott and I have our first costumed Halloween, but I made our first Halloween costumes! (And by made I mean carefully ironing on pictures to black sweatshirts without setting the house on fire.) We were very successful cheerleaders and took our roles very seriously, as made apparent by the seventy-one pictures I found on my camera the next day. I will spare you all and only share this gem:


In addition to Halloween, the weather is amazing and fall seems to be officially here. To celebrate this awesome weather and fall season, I made homemade funfetti cupcakes using autumn colored sprinkles and topped them with even more sprinkles and a chocolate buttercream. I am so pumped to make these for every possible holiday that stores sell sprinkles for. (President's Day Funfetti cupcakes anyone?)

What you will need: 

For the cupcakes: 

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sprinkles (any color you like) 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tins with 12 liners. 

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, for approximately 3 minutes. Next, mix in eggs and vanilla until combined. 

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add half of the dry mixture to your sugar mixture and beat to combine. Beat in milk. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients. Lastly, stir in sprinkles. 

Fill each cupcake tin 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake 18-20 minutes. Cool completely, and decorate. 

For the frosting:

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 cups confectioners sugar
2 sticks butter
6 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat chocolate in microwave at 30-second intervals until melted. Set aside and allow to cool completely. 

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Using a mixer at low speed, beat well, frequently scraping the sides of the bowl. After one minute, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat an additional two minutes. Mix in the cooled chocolate and continue to beat at medium speed for an additional minute. If the frosting appears dry, add more milk, one teaspoon at a time. 

Makes 4 1/2 cups. 

Source: How Sweet It Is (cupcakes) and Williams-Sonoma (frosting) 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mini Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes, and The Awkward Tale of Halloween '96

Mini Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes

Posted by: Maggie

I feel like a major buzz-kill by admitting this, but I don't really love Halloween. More accurately, I don't love dressing up for Halloween. I love haunted hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, and cute kids in costumes just fine. I don't love that 99% of costumes available in stores for grown ladies like myself are either trampy or matronly, with practically no middle ground.

The last time I really dressed up for Halloween was in 7th grade. Incidentally, it was also the last year I ever went trick-or-treating, but more on that in a minute. My mom had an old gypsy costume that I borrowed, and I piled on the makeup, crazy gold coin earrings, loads of dangly bracelets, and a headscarf. I was past the age of dressing up for school at that point, mainly due to my desire to invisibly walk the halls of Ocean Township Intermediate School without being taunted by the girls who had already figured out mascara, flat irons, and padded bras. Meanwhile, I still looked like the bastard love child of Art Garfunkel and Jan Brady. I'm ok now. May God bless Lancome Definicils, the Chi, and late teenage growth spurts.

Anyway, I got home from school that afternoon, and prepared to go trick-or-treating with one of my equally awkward friends. I have no recollection of what she dressed as for Halloween, but I do remember that she affected a British accent for the whole evening, not breaking character once, even though I'm fairly certain it had nothing to do with her costume. Birds of an awkward feather...

We traipsed through the neighborhood collecting candy, and finally arrived at one of the last houses on our route, which just so happened to be the home of my unrequited middle-school crush. He was blonde, all of his clothes came from Structure, and he was a bit of a troublemaker. Be still, my 12-year old heart. We walked up the pathway, rang the doorbell, and there stood my crush holding a bowl of candy and looking annoyed. I will always remember the eleven words he said to us next: "Aren't you girls a little old to be trick-or-treating?" His response didn't seem to faze my friend, but as I defeatedly walked home that evening, my heartbroken 12-year old self vowed never to trick-or-treat again.

When I went off to college, I tried to get in the Halloween spirit, once by dressing up in angel wings, a halo, and normal clothes, and once by wearing a helmet and carrying a sword. Although, in retrospect I think I may have stolen the sword from someone else's costume.


Those pictures were taken in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and I haven't dressed up since - not even in a half-assed construction worker with a sword kind of way. 

Things are changing this Halloween. Who remembers Salute Your Shorts? If you were born in the early to mid-80s like Jeff and myself, and live in the United States, there is a strong chance it was one of your favorite childhood shows. Jeff is going as camp counselor Kevin "Ug" Lee, and I will be going as camper Z.Z. Ziff. My costume consists of a Camp Anawanna tee shirt, a whistle, peace sign/earth earrings (Z.Z. was a hippie, remember?) and a syrup bottle for administering awful waffles (link NSFW thanks to some perverted and inaccurate descriptions of an awful waffle, but it's the only site I can find with a definition. Sorry.) Fun, nostalgic, not trampy, and inexpensive? That is the kind of Halloween costume I can get on board with.

I may be wary of the dressing up side of Halloween, but I can easily get on board with the desserts. I found the recipe for these Halloween cheesecakes over on Gingerbread Bagels. Lindsey's Halloween spirit is infectious, and it's enough to even warm up a Halloween Grinch like myself to the holiday! These are super good, and since they're miniature and portion-controlled it means you'll have more room for Halloween candy!

Here's what you'll need:

15 Halloween Oreos, whole
6 Halloween Oreos, pulverized in the food processor
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Orange gel food coloring

Preheat oven to 275 degrees, and line 2 muffin tins with 15 foil liners. Place one whole Oreo in each liner.

Place cream cheese in a large bowl, and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat throughly to combine. Add in vanilla extract and eggs, and beat until combined. Finally, gently mix in the sour cream.

Add in orange gel food coloring until the batter is your desired shade. Stir in Oreo crumbs.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin tins. You can fill these almost to the top since they don't really rise. Bake for 22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Chill overnight if you can wait that long!

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Source: Gingerbread Bagels

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tiramisu Trifles


Posted by: Maggie

Almost everything you see posted here is something I've made within the past week, or two weeks at the most. Neither Annie or I have a huge backlog of recipes waiting to be posted like a lot of food bloggers seem to (P.S. super-jeal of you bloggers who do since I'd looove to post daily!), so it's easiest just to share recipes with you as we make them. 

However...on occasion, a really awesome recipe slips through the cracks, and doesn't get posted in a timely manner. I made these trifles about 5 weeks ago on a night that I cooked for Jeff. I made us roasted garlic crostini and homemade spaghetti and meatballs, and I wanted a dessert to go along with the Italian theme.  I even hinted about the recipe over on Twitter and never delivered!

Now, weeks later, you finally get to know that the mystery desserts I mentioned on twitter were tiramisu trifles. I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath. Right? 

This isn't your traditional tiramisu by any means, and I'm pretty sure that real Italians would scoff at my use of Oreo cookies over ladyfingers, and ricotta over mascarpone, but they were extremely delicious and simple to make. I also liked that I wasn't left with a ton of leftover dessert - I used large stemless wineglasses to serve these, and it perfectly filled three glasses. 

Here's what you'll need:

For the base:

1 cup heavy whipping cream 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 tablespoon Kahlua if you have it)
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules

For layering:

1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (Grind Oreos in a food processor without the cream centers. The centers are easily scraped out of divided cookies with a butter knife.)

For the garnish:

Fresh Strawberries
Chocolate shavings

Prepare the whipped cream and cookie crumbs (indicated under the "for layering" portion of the ingredients) and set aside. 

Combine whipping cream and granulated sugar (from the "for the base" section of the ingredients) in a medium bowl. Beat until cream is stiff, and set aside. 

Combine ricotta cheese, cocoa powder, vanilla, and instant espresso granules in a medium bowl. Beat until blended. 

Add ricotta mixture to the whipped cream, and gently fold in with a rubber spatula until no white streaks remain. 

To assemble, start with a layer of the ricotta mixture. Next, add a layer of the whipped cream, and then a layer of cookie crumbs. Repeat until all ingredients are used, and garnish with chocolate shavings and fresh strawberries. 

These can be refrigerated for up to a day before serving. I made these about 4 hours before serving, and the cookie crumbs stayed crisp, however on day 2 they had absorbed a lot of moisture (but were still delicious!) 


Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

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Posted by: Annie

I found myself awake this past weekend at 7:50 a.m. Like, really? My alarm goes off every day for work at 5 a.m. and I dream about the weekend when I get to wake up naturally and sleep past nine. Of course, once I wake up and realize I have lots of errands to run, lessons to write, and cookies to bake, the guilt kicks in. That is how I end up baking pumpkin snickerdoodles in the kitchen at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

Last year I made these gems, which at the time became one of my favorite pumpkin recipes. While pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are still up there, pumpkin snickerdoodles are my new favorite. These cookies scream fall, and fill your house with the best scent EVER.

Pumpkin the cat, meet pumpkin, the cookie:

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

What you will need:

For the cookies:

3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the coating:

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash of allspice

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together to blend. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars on medium speed until well combined. Next, still on medium speed, beat in pumpkin. Then, add the egg and vanilla extract. Lastly, add in the dry ingredients. Beat until combined, but do not over mix. Cover the dough, and refrigerate for one hour, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and spices for the sugar coating. Scoop dough (approximately 2 1/2 tablespoons) and roll into a ball. Roll the dough ball in the sugar mixture, and place on the lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Take a drinking glass with a flat bottom and moisten with water. Dip the glass in the sugar mixture, and use it to flatten the dough balls. Re-sugar the glass as needed.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Remove when the centers of the cookies have set. Let cool on the baking pan for approximately 5 minutes, and then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.

Helpful tools for this recipe:

Cookie Dough Scoop

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Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats/Recipe Girl/DLYN

This post contains affiliate link(s). 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spicy Bean and Rice Burritos


Posted by: Maggie

I have made this recipe so many times, and have neglected to share it with you for one reason: I cannot take a good photo of it. Beans just aren't pretty, especially when they're all smushed into a tortilla. Don't let this homely burrito fool you though...it's super delicious, and could give Chipotle a run for their money.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it's customizable based on how healthy you want to be. I went to a wedding on Saturday with exceptionally delicious food and cake, and may have had several drinks more than what would be considered reasonable. When you start your day with a Bellini at 9 am, and finally finish it with an Irish coffee at 11 pm, you're going to want something healthy-ish for the following days, and fast. Needless to say, I made some healthy tweaks when I cooked this on Monday.

To somewhat healthify this recipe, I used brown rice instead of white, fat free greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and reduced-fat cheese instead of regular. I did stick with regular flour tortillas though, because whole wheat tortillas make me sad. If anyone knows of a brand that doesn't taste like sandpaper, please enlighten me.

I've said it a million times on here that I'm not crazy about leftovers, but these are definitely an exception.  I have the rest of the burritos all assembled and wrapped in foil in the fridge, ready to heat up for the rest of the week.

P.S. Don't forget that we started a Facebook page! Feel free to "like" us if ya want!

Here's what you'll need:

For the filling:

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Several dashes cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
1/4 cup fresh salsa

For serving:

6 burrito-sized tortillas, warmed
8 ounces shredded cheese (I used a reduced-fat Mexican blend, Cheddar or Monterey Jack would also be good!)
Shredded lettuce
4 green onions, chopped
Fat-free Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, and cayenne. Cook briefly until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add in drained and rinsed beans, and water. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 8 minutes, mashing the bean mixture slightly. Remove from heat, and stir in rice and salsa.

Divide mixture evenly among the center of each tortilla. Top with cheese, lettuce, green onions, and greek yogurt. Roll up, and serve!

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Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, October 10, 2011

Petit Pains au Chocolate


Posted by: Annie

I can't pronounce the name of this dessert. I could awkwardly say "petit pains au chocolate" when I started baking these delicious pastries. But then, I acted like an impatient child and I bit one of these delicious bundles of chocolate in half as soon as it came out of a 400 degree oven, and proceeded to burn every taste bud off my tongue.

So now, I can't really taste anything, let alone say fancy French names. Don't worry though, I will not let my burnt taste buds get in the way of me eating approximately four more pains au chocolate before dinner!

What you will need:

Two sheets puff pastry (1 17.3 ounce package), thawed, and each sheet cut into 12 squares
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
4 3.5 ounce semisweet chocolate or milk chocolate bars cut into 6, 2 x 3/4 inch pieces
Granulated sugar
Powdered sugar

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush each puff pastry square with egg wash. Place a chocolate in a corner, and roll up dough, covering the chocolate. Pinch edges together to seal the chocolate inside. Repeat with the remaining dough and chocolate. Place the prepared pastries on the baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool on a wire baking rack. Dust lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

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Source: Epicurious

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes for Two



Posted by: Maggie

Hey guys...we started a Facebook page! It would make our day if you'd go over there and "like" us! Please and thank you :) 

Moving along...

Remember back in August when I made Jessica's brilliant Vanilla Cupcakes for Two?

They were awesome, and I've showed a remarkable amount of restraint with this recipe. I thought that knowing how to make two delicious cupcakes would lead to doing so every day, but fortunately for my bottom I was incorrect.

However...I've had it in the back of my mind since first making the recipe that I wanted to try my hand at turning it into some different flavors. Well, Jeff was tired of listening to me whine about pumpkin shortages, and brought me a can. I immediately decided to come up with a pumpkin version of cupcakes for two, and 3 batches later I have a winner!

The first batch was awful, the second batch was mediocre, and the third batch was like a party in my mouth. This cupcake is moist and tender, with a light pumpkin flavor and a lot of fall spices. Top it with cinnamon buttercream, and shove it in your face hole. You will thank me.

Here's what you'll need:

For the cupcakes:

1 egg white
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/4 cup cake flour
1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line your muffin tin with two liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg white and sugar until thoroughly combined. Whisk in oil, vanilla, and pumpkin until fully incorporated. In a small bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Gradually stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined. Lastly, stir in milk. The batter will be very liquidy.

Divide the batter between two liners filling slightly more than 3/4 full. You will have a small amount of batter left that you can eat with a spoon, or just throw away, depending on how afraid of salmonella you are. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cake is set and a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely before frosting.

For the cinnamon buttercream frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted after measuring
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cinnamon until throughly incorporated into frosting. Makes enough to generously frost two cupcakes.

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Cupcakes heavily adapted from How Sweet Eats, and frosting is by me!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Seasoned Sweet Potato Chips


Posted by: Annie

I have Yam versus Sweet Potato confusion. 

Growing up, I was a very difficult child and hated baked potatoes. As a result, my mom would always make me what I thought was a baked yam. They were orange in color, sweet tasting, and in my opinion far surpassed the baked potatoes that everyone else was eating.

This week, I bought potatoes that were labeled yams and had the following text exchange with Maggie:

...and then I was very concerned. Was I making yam chips? Sweet potato chips? I then went to the most excellent source of information ever - Google. I read this and now believe that I possibly bought sweet potatoes that were mislabeled as yams. Nevertheless, these chips are awesome, and fallish, and make me very excited for the crisp fall weather that has begun.

What you will need:

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean and sliced into 1/8" slices
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add sweet potato slices and oil to a re-sealable bag or large tupperware and shake to coat. In a small dish, combine the seasonings and add to the sweet potatoes. Shake again to evenly coat. Lay potato slices on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake 12-14 minutes (around 12 minutes mine were getting dark, so keep an eye on the potatoes while cooking!)

Remove the potatoes from the oven and flip. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until crisp. Place potatoes on a wire cooling rack to cool (they crisp up more while cooling.)

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Source: Simple Comfort Food

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sweet Potato Ice Cream


Posted by: Maggie

I know what you may be thinking...sweet potatoes? In ice cream? Blech.

Hear me out.

I cannot find any canned pumpkin in Alexandria, Virginia. Actually, let me rephrase. I cannot find any Libby's canned pumpkin in Alexandria, Virginia. The other brands are watery and worthless when it comes to baking. "Give me Libby's or give me death!" - Patrick Henry. Yep, pretty sure our Founding Fathers are all rolling over in their graves as I type this.

I used my one single can of Libby's pumpkin (purchased last fall) on pumpkin bread and pumpkin oatmeal a couple weeks ago. I didn't know at the time that I would have so much trouble tracking it down this fall. Jeff lives 40 minutes away from me, and was supposed to bring me a can last weekend, since apparently there is no shortage out where he lives.

Welllll, he forgot. I got sad. I turned to my second favorite orange fall food for comfort, the humble sweet potato. I stopped being sad when I remembered bookmarking We Are Not Martha's Sweet Potato Ice Cream last year, back before I had an ice cream maker.

This stuff is so delicious that I barely miss pumpkin. Sure, I'll buy it if my grocery stores ever get their acts together and stock the shelves. I have about 300 pumpkin recipes starred in my Google Reader after all.

Note: If you use the very popular Cuisinart ice cream maker for this, keep an eye on it as it churns. This recipe makes slightly more than 1 quart of ice cream, and mine overflowed a bit!

Here's what you'll need:

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
5 egg yolks
1 cup sweet potato puree (see recipe for instructions, or buy it pre-made. I used 3 small sweet potatoes and had a bit of leftover puree.)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the sweet potato puree, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, stab potatoes several times with a fork, and bake for 60-90 minutes (depending on size of potato), or until fork tender. Let cool completely, then cut in half and scoop out the flesh.

Add the sweet potato flesh and 1 tablespoon of water to a food processor, and process until completely smooth. Measure out 1 cup, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is hot.

In a medium-sized heat resistant bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks. Slowly pour half of the cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking the entire time. Next, pour egg/cream mixture into the remainder of the cream in the saucepan, whisking the entire time. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes, or until mixture has slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil!

Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium-sized heat resistant bowl. Whisk in the sweet potato puree and spices until thoroughly combined.

Cover, and refrigerate the bowl for at least 12 hours before churning in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. It took about 20 minutes in my Cuisinart. Freeze for several hours before serving. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before scooping for the best texture!

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Source: We Are Not Martha, originally from Sweet Bytes
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