Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cupcake Challenge Round-up

This is the last post in the Cupcake Challenge over at Hooiser Homemade!  This month has flown by!  You would think that this had turned me away from making more cupcakes but I'm actually whipping up a batch as I type away!   This challenge has been a lot of fun!

First week (Taste of Summer) - Blueberry Hill Cupcakes
Second Week (Summertime Activity) - Baseball themed Cupcakes
Third Week (Cake Mix) - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Fourth Week - Devil's Food Marshmallow Flowers

Hope you enjoyed this month as much as I did, now I'm craving some fall flavored pumpkin.... maybe next week!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Baja Style Fish Tacos

I have been craving good fish tacos for a while now and these did not disappoint!  I love fish tacos that are fried versus grilled, I know it's not the healthiest but they are so yummy!  I pulled together a couple of recipes and mixed them together to create this fabulous combination.  I will definitely make this again!

Baja Fish Tacos
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil and Broke Ass Gourmet

Avocado Salsa

1 large avocado, diced
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 diced jalapeno
juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Lime and Sour cream Sauce

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 chipotle in adobe sauce, finely chopped
1 minced garlic clove
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Season to taste.  Set aside.

Beer Battered Fish

2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup beer,  I used Newcastle
Pinch of salt
3/4 lb. tilapia, cut into 2 inch pieces

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a plate add a small amount of flour.  Heat one inch of oil in a heavy bottomed pan.  Dredge fish in flour and then drop in batter to coat.  Drop fish into pan and cook until golden brown, flip over and cook other side until golden brown.  Once fish are cooked, drain on paper towel lined plate.   Sprinkle with salt while they are still hot.

To serve, warm small corn tortillas.  Place 2 - 3 pieces of fish on each tortilla, drizzle a small amount of lime juice.  Cover with lime sour cream and avocado salsa.  Salt to taste.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cupcake Tuesday - Devil's Food Cake Flowers

It has been a really busy week and while I did a lot of cooking and baking I didn't have any time to post anything!   I did have my first venture into large batch baking and made 150 cupcakes as a favor for my really good friend this weekend.  That was an interesting experience and not as bad as I thought it would be - the key was organization!  

These are the last cupcake in the Cupcake Challenge over at Hooiser's Homemade and I have been wanting to make these flower cupcakes for a while!  They were really easy and fun to make!  All you need are some marshmallows (I used minis) and colored sprinkles!  

These cupcakes are the Hershey's chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting - yum!  The resulting cake is deliciously moist and chocolaty which is a great contrast to the tangy cream cheese frosting.   Once the cupcake is frosted with an off set spatula,  cut each marshmallow in half.  Dip the sticky cut side of the marshmallow in colored sprinkles of your choice.  Arrange the marshmallows on the cupcake in a flower design, the frosting will act as glue for the marshmallows.   

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Hershey's

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350°F. 

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into paper lined cupcake pans. 
Bake 8 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

It's Tuesday!  Time for another Cupcake Challenge over at Hooiser Homemade!   This week the challenge was to take boxed cake mix and turn it into something special.  I've been seeing a recipes for peanut butter chocolate cupcakes for the last couple of months and have been wanting to make a version of my own.    I decided to try our the boxed chocolate mix in the same style as my favorite vanilla cake mix recipe.    This recipe calls for sour cream and pudding mix which gives the cupcakes a really rich texture and they don't feel like cake mix at all.   In addition I added these wonderful mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's that we always have around the house.  Topped with come peanut butter frosting these mini cupcakes were a very rich and delicious treat.   I was glad that I made these in mini form because they were so rich and I would make these again because they were so tasty!   Be careful because this recipe does make a TON of mini cupcakes!

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package of Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Mix all ingredients together.  Mix until well combined on low speed.  Beat on medium speed for 1 - 2 minutes.  Stir in peanut butter cups until well incorporated, reserving a handful for cupcake garnish.    Scoop into paper lined mini cupcake cups and bake 12 - 15 minutes until toothpick entered in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire rack before topping with peanut butter buttercream.

Peanut Butter Frosting
recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Frost your cupcakes and garnish with a mini peanut butter cup.  


Friday, August 13, 2010

S'mores Cookies

I love to bake, but I usually don't care much about eating what I bake.  This is an exception!  I could have eaten them all, these are so delicious that my hubby ate a DOZEN in one day!  I had to make them again just so that I could get to eat one and because I had told the whole office about them and they needed to try them!  So far everyone who has had them loves them, the mixture of graham cracker crumbs, chocolate and marshmallows makes you feel like you are sitting around a campfire.

They are a little time consuming but they are SO worth it!  I will be making these next week for my sisters bake sale - I hope that people like them! 

S'mores Cookies
Recipe from Baked Perfection
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of Hershey bar into each cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wilton Gum-paste Class

I have been taking the Wilton Classes at the Michael's near my house for the last 2 1/2 months.  I am currently in the Gum-paste and Fondant class which is SUPER FUN!!!!  Today was a lot of fun - we learned how to do carnations, roses and calla lilies, which was intimidating at first glance but ended up being enjoyable!  The classes are two hours long which fly by and leave me wanting to rush home and practice!  I am very proud of my results so I had to share! :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cupcake Challenge - Small Batch Chocolate Cupcake

So this is second week of the Cupcake Challenge over at Hoosier Homemade!  This week the challenge is all about summertime activities.  I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to make until my sister invited us to an Angels game!  We haven't gone to a lot of games this year but when we do it is always with family and friends and we have a wonderful time.  It's hardly ever about the game for us - while my husband is a true Angels fan, I could really care less!  For me it's all about the cold beer, peanuts and wonderful conversation!  :)

Since neither of us need or want a ton of cupcakes hanging out I decided to try this new small batch chocolate cupcake recipe that made only four cupcakes which was perfect!  The chocolate cake was deliciously moist and full of chocolate flavor!  The frosting on the other hand did not work out for me and I won't even try to post it.... you can't win them all. :)

I also tried out making these fondant pieces, I am currently taking my final Wilton class - Fondant and Gum Paste and thought it would be fun to try a few things out.   They definitely aren't perfect but we had some fun making them.  

Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from The Cookie Shop

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons melted butter, cooled
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Line 4 cups of muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and sugar.  In a separate bowl mix the yolk, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and butter.  Add wet ingredients into dry and mix until incorporated. Evenly distribute between cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

I saw this recipe on Rainy Day Gal a while ago and thought that this would be perfect for one of the nights that I have my Wilton class or have to work late.  I can get everything together the night before if I  know I'm going to be home late and just have the hubby pop in the oven before I get home.   I am so glad I bookmarked this one because the result was wonderfully delicious and very hearty!  It had a wonderful kick from the peppers and I used Trader Joe's taco seasoning which is a little spicy.   This makes a large amount that we had for lunch later in the week and that I froze in tupperware in individual portions that are perfect to take to work and pop in the microwave for a quick and filling lunch.   This will stay in my recipe box and I can't wait to make it again!

Mexican Lasagna
Recipe from Rainy Day Gal

1 lb. ground turkey
1 (15 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 cup water
1 packet taco seasoning
2 (4 oz) cans diced green chiles
2 (14 oz) cans refried beans
1 (6 oz.) can sliced black olives
6 large flour tortillas
3 cups grated cheese - I used a Mexican blend

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a skillet brown ground turkey, I added a small amount of olive oil to add some fat to the turkey.  Add tomatoes, taco seasoning and water.  Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.  Remove from heat.

In a bowl, combine beans, green chiles and black olives.

Coat a 9x13 pan with baking spray.  Spread half of the bean mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Cover with two tortillas.  Spread with a cup of the cheese and then cover with half of meat.  Add an additional layer of tortillas and remaining beans.  Add one more cup of cheese and the rest of meat mixture.  Add a last layer of tortillas and the remaining cup of cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until heated thru. and bubbly.  If you refrigerate the dish before baking as I did you will need to bake for 15 minutes covered in foil, then remove the foil and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving with a dollop of sour cream.   ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting - Cupcake Challenge

I love Hoosier Homemade's site, have you checked it out?  I especially LOVE Cupcake Tuesday!  So when she posted the Cupcake Challenge I decided to whip out my mixer and join in!

This weeks challenge is about Summertime flavors, and putting them into a cupcake.  When I think of summertime I think of all the delicious flavors that I can find at the Farmer's Market, especially the blueberries!  When I saw this recipe for Blueberry Hill cupcakes on Yumsugar, I knew I had to make them!   I did make a couple of changes, I didn't add the lemon in the cupcakes but used my new favorite product, vanilla bean paste.  I love the wonderful flecks of vanilla bean that it leaves in whatever you add it to and it is a lot easier/cheaper then adding whole vanilla beans.  I also made a lemon cream cheese frosting instead of the one that they recommended.  I love the tangy bite of the cream cheese and can't think of a better combination then blueberries, lemon and cream cheese!  YUM!

The result was a cross between a cupcake and muffin, the cupcake wasn't too sweet which was nice and they were very moist.  I loved the burst of blueberries in the cake and the gentle vanilla background.  I would make these again - maybe adding a little more sugar or maybe vanilla bean yogurt instead of buttermilk to the batter to make them feel like a cupcake.  Overall they are something that I recommend making while blueberries are still in season!

Blueberry Hill Cupcakes
Adapted from Yumsugar

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries, frozen for 4 hours

Sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.  In a seperate bowl whisk together melted butter and oil until well combined.  Whisk in eggs one at a time.  Whisk in buttermilk, milk and vanilla bean paste until fully incorporated.  Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Stir in blueberries.  

Fill greased or paper lined cupcake pan 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Real Simple

8 oz. room temperature cream cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add in lemon juice and zest.  Slowly incorporate powdered sugar until fully mixed.  You can add more cream cheese if you want a thicker consistency.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Avocado and Corn Salsa

I am lucky enough to live next a wonderful produce store that gets produce directly from farmers in the area.  It always has very fresh selection and living in Southern California we are lucky enough to have local produce all year long.  Right now I can't get enough corn!  It is so deliciously fresh and sweet that I have been throwing it on the grill, making creamed corn and this weekend making fresh corn salsa.  This was a really easy and fresh way to dress up our tri-tip tacos!

Avocado and Corn Salsa
Recipe from CD Kitchen

1 whole avocado, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
5 - 10 cherry tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 whole shucked ear of corn
1/2 red onion cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 whole jalapeno, diced and seeded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Add avocado into glass bowl and combine withe juice of 1 lime.  Mix well to prevent oxidation.  Add tomatoes, corn kernels, red onion, jalapeno and fresh cilantro, mix to combine.   Add more lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.  Before serving mix with more lime juice and check the salt and pepper for flavor.  This salsa will need a lot of salt and pepper for flavor.