Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cajun Fried Shrimp

I picked up panko bread crumbs at the grocery store to give them a second chance. I've used them before and I wasn't a fan. I'm still on the fence about them. I think they work really well for some dishes, such as veggies and shrimp, and not so much for others. I think I'll stick to my regular bread crumbs for dishes such as pork, chicken, and fish. That aside, the panko bread crumbs make these shrimp really, really crispy. I loved the crunch and the spice of the cajun. They were fabulous. I could have just eaten these and nothing else for dinner. If you like crunchy, spicy shrimp, give these a try.

Cajun Fried Shrimp
about 40 small-medium shrimp
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup garlic bread crumbs
4 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
2 - 4 tablespoons canola oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Clean and devein shrimp. Place flour, salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning in a ziploc bag and add shrimp. Shake to coat shrimp.

Beat eggs in a bowl. Mix together 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning and panko and garlic bread crumbs and spread on a plate. Dip shrimp in egg then bread crumb mixture. Repeat with remaining shrimp.

Heat canola oil over high heat in a skillet. Fry shrimp a few at a time until golden brown and no longer pink. Drain excess grease on paper towels.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dragon Cupcake Cake

Ever since I started making cakes a little over a year ago, I've been keeping my friends and family from having to worry about cakes for any occasion. I'm asked so much now, that I have to turn some requests away. Now if I could only get paid to make these cakes...

My first cake last year was for my godchild. It was terrible compared to the cakes I can make today. This year the birthday girl (Isn't she cute in her dragon shirt?) requested a vanilla dragon cake. I racked my brain and was thumbing through my Hello Cupcake! book and I found an alligator cake. I thought that I could adapt it into a dragon cupcake cake. This took me a long time to make—longer than it should have. I should have scrapped the design and started over, but I was too exhausted. I finished it and it was cute, but I'm not so sure that it looked like a dragon. My godchild and her friends thought so, and I guess that is all that matters. Oh well, there's always next year.

Dragon Cupcake Cake
Design: adapted from Hello Cupcake!

24 vanilla cupcakes (I used a box mix. Still looking for a great white cake recipe!)
1 red fruit roll-up
6 - 10 fruit slices (I used orange.) 
10 marshmallows
batch of vanilla buttercream dyed green (recipe below)
12 - 14 square cookies (I used Lorna Doone.)
tiny batch of vanilla buttercream dyed brown (for snoot)
tiny batch of vanilla buttercream dyed blue (for eyes)

Bake cupcakes and let cool. Meanwhile, make frosting and tint desired shades of green, blue, and brown. Using the leaf tip, frost each cupcake.

For the scales: Press cookies into 12 - 13 cupcakes to look like scales and pipe frosting over cookies.

For the tail: Place one cookie flat on top of one cupcake leaving the point hang off the cupcake. 

For the claws: cut fruit slices in half and press into foot cupcake. I used 3 for each foot.

For the teeth: cut triangles out of marshmallows with sharp knife. I dusted them with powdered sugar to make them less sticky. As you can see, I forgot to add the teeth to the cake when I put it together.

For the tongue: Fold fruit roll-up and slice a V into the tip. Place in the "mouth" of the dragon.

For the eyes: Put a dot of blue icing (or whatever color) into the center of each marshmallow. Place the marshmallows together on top of the "head" cupcakes.

For the snoot: Pipe two circles on each "nose" cupcake to resemble a snoot.

Place cupcakes together to form the shape of a dragon.

Vanilla Buttercream
2 sticks of butter
6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 - 6 tablespoons water or milk

Cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Garlicky Parmesan Shrooms

I love shrooms! (Not the funny ones.) On top of burgers, on top of steaks, put them on anything and it will taste great! I made these to jazz up some plain ol' burgers recently. How could you go wrong with a juicy burger piled high with mushrooms and swiss cheese? These were easy and tasty and go with just about anything. Don't mix the mushrooms when done baking (like I did) or you will ruin the parmesan crust on top.

Garlicky Parmesan Shrooms
10 white mushrooms
2 - 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Wash and slice mushrooms.
Mix everything except parmesan cheese together
Transfer to a baking dish.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are a summer staple at our house. Now that it's spring, it's time to pull out those warm weather recipes. I filed away this
recipe last year and I totally forgot about it until I saw it again on Christine's Cuisine last week. My husband loves buffalo wings, so I'm always on the hunt for anything buffalo. The original recipe calls for onions, celery, and carrots, but we don't like crunch in our sloppy Joes, so I omitted them. I served this on kaiser rolls with lots of bleu cheese crumbles. The end result was delicious. The brown sugar gives the spicy sauce a hint of sweetness. This is a meal that gets better as it sits, so the meat gets a chance to soak up the sauce.

Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes
Source: Adapted from Rachel Ray 

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds ground chicken
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot 
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (for topping)

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and break it up with wooden spoon, cooking until no longer pink. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 7 - 8 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, tomato sauce, and stock. Pour into the pan and stir to combine. Simmer a few more minutes. Place filling on the buns and top with bleu cheese crumbles.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

100th Post!

Happy 100th post to me!

Well I finally made it to 100 posts! Even though this post is a recipe that I already made before, it is special. Everyone deserves a second chance. I didn't really like the Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream that I made for St. Patrick's Day. But, I must have done something right, because Randy's coworkers loved them. The art director at his program enjoyed them so much that she asked me to make them for an upcoming art show. I was honored.

I gave the recipe another whirl—this time following it exactly—except I made them into mini cupcakes. Well I'm glad I made these again, because they were delicious. Maybe it was the full fat sour cream and regular milk or maybe it was the size. Whatever it was, they turned out perfectly moist and delicious. Plus they were the right size to pop in your mouth whole. They were devoured at the art show and I received lots of compliments.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

For my birthday, my husband bought me a mini tripod for my camera to help me take photos for my blog. I tested it out on these cupcakes and I think it's a keeper—just like him.

When I think of Easter dessert, coconut bunny cake and Boston Cream Pie comes to mind. Since I just made coconut cupcakes, I decided on these Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes I saw in the March issue of Woman's Day. The issue had a cupcake section with some pretty interesting recipes. I'm planning to try most of them. Since I had a busy weekend, I used a french vanilla cake box mix for the cupcakes and subbed Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting for the glaze. These got rave reviews from my husband's family. They were so yummy that I ate two of them before we even made it to dinner. The recipe below is how it appears in the magazine.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
Source: Woman's Day, March 2010

2 and 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 and 1 /2 sticks butter (room temperature)
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with 24 cupcake liners.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

On low, alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with flour mixture.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18 - 20 minutes. Cool in pans a few minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract for 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze topping:
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 water
3 tablespoons butter

Combine chocolate, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Let cool a few minutes before topping cooled cupcakes.

To assemble the cupcakes:
Use the cone method to remove a chunk of cake from the center of each cupcake.
Put aside chunk of removed cake.
Fill the holes with pudding.
Place chunk of cake back on top of cupcake like a plug.
Top with chocolate glaze and a maraschino cherry (if desired).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Birthday Coconut Cupcakes

Happy Birthday to me!
It's my birthday! And this year I want coconut cupcakes! Every year my aunt makes me a strawberry shortcake for my birthday. While I like strawberry shortcake, it's not my favorite. Last year, my husband asked me what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday and I told him coconut. And he responded, choose again, no one likes coconut. So this year, I decided to make my own cake and I made coconut because it's my favorite. These were delicious and exactly what I wanted. The coconut flavor wasn't overpowering and the cake tasted like coconut sugar cookies. The icing perfectly complimented the cupcakes and wasn't overly sweet.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut-White Chocolate Frosting
Source: Woman's Day, March 2010

2 and 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 and 1/2 sticks butter
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (or vanilla)
3/4 cup light coconut milk (do not use cream of coconut)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in sweetened flaked coconut and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in coconut extract.

On low, alternately beat in flour mixture and coconut milk, ending with flour mixture.

Fill cupcake liners and bake 20 to 23 minutes. Cool in the pans for a few minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Coconut-White Chocolate Frosting
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1 brick cream cheese (I only used half.)
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt white chocolate chips and set aside.
Beat together butter, cream cheese, and coconut extract.
Add melted chocolate and beat until blended.
Add powdered sugar and beat well.
Top cupcakes and dip tops in sweetened flaked coconut.