Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

As I've mentioned before my husband loves anything buffalo, so I'm always on the lookout for different dishes involving buffalo sauce. I'm new to the world of ground chicken and at first, I was afraid of under- or over-cooking it. I think I got it down. It's actually hard to find here, unless you want dark meat. I finally found some and stocked up. I know I can ground my own, but I'm just not there yet. I loved the texture of these burgers. I expected the meat to be a little dry, but it was moist and flavorful. I stuffed these with bleu cheese, but most of it melted into the meat. Regardless they were delicious. The hot sauce gave the meat a nice kick and the bleu cheese cooled it down. These are perfect when you're in the mood for wings, but not the mess.

Buffalo Chicken Burgers
Source: Becoming Domestic

1 pound ground chicken
2 - 4 oz. bleu cheese crumbles (I didn't measure.)
1 egg (I omitted.)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup  - 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg (if using), wing sauce, salt, and pepper in bowl with hands until well mixed. If mixture is too wet, add extra bread crumbs. Divide mixture into eight even pieces.

Flatten each piece into a patty. Top four of the pieces with cheese crumbles and top with another patty. Close up the sides.

Place burgers on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Top with extra bleu cheese and wing sauce, if desired.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

When I first saw these cupcakes, all I did was dream about them. I was dying to make them right there and then, but I had neither lemons nor strawberries nor time. A few days (or weeks) passed and I finally got around to making these. WOW. These were very lemony and very delicious. The other reviews I read said the cake had a light lemon flavor, but mine did not. They had a punch you in the face lemon flavor. Maybe it was the lemons. I bought some beautiful, juicy lemons at the store. The recipe called for the zest of three lemons and the juice of one and a half lemons. As I started to zest and juice, I quickly learned my lemons were very fragrant, large, and juicy, so I reduced the lemon zest to two lemons and the juice to one lemon. I still think the cake was very lemony and I could have cut down even more on the lemons.

The only problem with these cupcakes was they overpowered the fabulous, strawberry, I-can't-stop-eating it, swiss meringue buttercream. This icing was so light and delicious. These cupcakes would have been even better with a simple vanilla buttercream or even cream cheese icing—something heavier to better compliment the denser, flavorful cake. All in all both recipes were a winner, just not together. Now go and make these!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride as adapted from Martha Stewart Living

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted since I used salted butter.)
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon zest (3 lemons) (I used 2.)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 and 1/2 lemons) (I used 1.)
1 teaspoon vanilla (I only used 1/2 teaspoon.)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a muffin tin with 24 cupcake liners.

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

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beating on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, and ending with the flour mixture

Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full. Bake for 18 - 24 minutes, rotating the pans at the halfway point (I forgot to do this and mine were fine). Cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
6 teaspoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, cut into 16 pieces (room temperature)
1/2 cup strawberry puree 

In a large heatproof bowl (or stand mixer bowl) combine meringue powder, water, and sugar. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to stand mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, whip mixture on high until it holds stiff peaks (about 6 - 7 minutes). Continue beating and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Add strawberry puree.

Continue beating until buttercream is thick, smooth, and glossy (about 3 - 5 minutes).*
*If mixture starts to look curdled, keep beating.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tequila-Lime Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Cream

Just like I have a passion for baking, Randy has a passion for grilling. He's always on the hunt for a new marinade or sauce to try when he's grilling. He's even tackling two different kinds of BBQ sauce this summer. The idea for this shrimp came from a Weber's grilling book. The shrimp were excellent and tasted like a margarita. We finished off the tacos with some grilled veggies and chipotle cream that added a nice punch of heat. This is definitely a keeper.

Tequila-Lime Shrimp 
adapted from Weber's Way to Grill

1 pound shrimp, deveined and cleaned
1/2 cup tequila
3 tablespoons triple sec
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno slices

Whisk all ingredients except shrimp and jalapenos together until sugar is dissolved. Add jalapenos and shrimp. Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Grill on high heat for about 4 minutes or so, until shrimp is pink and cooked through.

Chipotle Cream
1 cup sour cream
1 and 1/2 - 2 teaspoons chipotles in adobe sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
pinch of salt

Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry-Pineapple Pie

Back before I started blogging, I used to make pies all the time. I made one for each holiday. Since I began blogging, I rarely make pies anymore, focusing my attention on cupcakes and cakes. I'm going to start mixing things up and make more pies again. When I saw this recipe, I knew right away I had to make it. I love pineapple and Randy loves strawberries, so this pie is a perfect fit—just like we are.

While this pie was good, I think I went a little overboard squeezing all the juice out of the pineapple. I was so worried that I would have a runny pie that I squeezed and squeezed the pineapple until it yielded not a drop of juice. Also, while pineapple and strawberries are very sweet, the addition of the lemon cut their sweetness. I think I would add an 1/8 cup more sugar next time, plus sprinkle the crust with sugar.

Make sure you cover the edges of the pie crust, so they don't get overbrowned like mine. I have a pie crust protector and popped it on about 20 minutes into baking. I wasn't paying attention and didn't notice that it was too big for my pie pan and exposed the crust too much.

All in all this was a good summertime pie and I think with the changes I mentioned above, it would be even better. I'm going to give it another try.

Strawberry-Pineapple Pie
Source: Adapted from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters as seen on Milk & Honey

2 favorite crust recipes (I used store-bought because I am lazy.)
2 (20 oz.) cans unsweetened crushed pineapple (packed in juice)
1 and 1/2 cups fresh chopped strawberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup, plus 2 and 1/2 tablespoons juice from pineapple
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Unroll pie dough onto the bottom of a greased pie dish and set in fridge until filling is done.

Pour the pineapple into a sieve set over a bowl and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Use a spatula to gently press the pineapple to remove as much of the juice as possible. (Do NOT go overboard and squeeze every last drop of juice until the pineapple is dry!) Reserve and measure the juice.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 tablespoons of reserved juice and cornstarch until thoroughly combined. Add remaining half cup of juice, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt, and whisk until combined. Add the pineapple and strawberries and stir gently until evenly coated.

Add fruit mixture to pie shell. Add top crust and seal edges. Cut slits near center of pie. If desired, brush the top crust and edges with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 20 minutes and check crust for browning. Loosely cover crust with foil or a pie crust protector (make sure it fits!) Bake another 20 - 25 minutes until crust is evenly browned. Cool pie on a rack for at least two hours.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Margarita Cupcakes

For Randy's Fiesta Stache Bash, I made margarita cupcakes for dessert. I was eyeballing the recipe that starts with a cake mix, until Confections of a Foodie Bride made them from scratch. This recipe came out so good. The cupcakes baked up perfectly with nice little domes and were tender and moist. I topped them with a basic butterceam spiked with tequila and lime and it paired nicely with the cake. This is a perfect summertime treat when you're looking for something out of the ordinary. The lime flavor reminded me of a lime popsicle. I sprinkled the tops with colored sugar which gave them a "crunch" when you bite into them.

Margarita Cupcakes 
Source: Cupcakes: Confections of a Foodie Bride

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted because I used salted butter.)
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and fill a cupcake tin with 24 cupcake liners.

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

Cream butter and sugar on high for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly. Add lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla. Beating on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, and ending with the flour mixture.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 20- 25 minutes (mine only needed 18 minutes). Cool completely before frosting.

Tequila-Lime Buttercream
2 sticks butter, room temperature
4 - 6 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons tequila
1 lime, zested and juiced

Cream the butter. Add tequila, lime juice, and lime zest. Beat well. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Randy hits the BIG 3-0!

Happy Birthday Honey!

Randy turned 30 this past weekend! And we celebrated his dirty thirties with a Fiesta Stashe Bash. What could be better than Mexican food, beer, margaritas, and mustaches? It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. We made all the food ourselves, and had a mix of American and Mexican food—from a taco bar to meatballs to pasta to chicken strips to potato salad to Dorito salad to tons of different side dishes, such as rice and beans, and dips such as spinach, layered taco, and queso. Thanks to all who helped out!

I made three kinds of cupcakes: Red Velvet, Margarita, and Vanilla w/ chocolate icing, which I made look like a big mustache. Check out the cool lame face we made out of the cupcakes.

Here's a few pics from the festivities:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Creamy Taco Mac

As soon as I saw this pasta dish, I immediately made it—and it didn't disappoint. It's so versatile. You can use any pasta you want and add anything you like to it. I added a can of black beans and red pepper flakes to pump up the spiciness factor. I think it would also be great with a red bell pepper, corn, and green chilies. This was so easy to make and took under 30 minutes. This is a perfect weeknight meal. Simple and tasty.

Creamy Taco Mac
Source: adapted from Delish as seen on Annie's Eats

1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef
12 oz. pasta (I used rotini.)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I added this.)
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained (I added this.)
5 tablespoons taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese (I used Neufchatel.)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used low-fat.)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain and reserve 1/2 - 3/4 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over high heat. When the beef is almost done, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Drain and transfer to pot used to boil pasta. 

Mix in the diced tomatoes, black beans, and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 - 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, and reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Top each serving with shredded cheese, if desired.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Baked Zucchini Slabs

One of our favorite pizza places makes the best deep fried zucchini slabs. They are battered, greasy goodness. Unfortunately since the loss of my gall bladder, fried foods make me very sick, so I tend to avoid them. After craving the fried ones for quite some time, I decided to try and make them at home. I baked them instead of frying and I used panko bread crumbs. While they are not as good as their greasy cousins, they were still delicious. Baking these brought out the sweetness of the zucchini and the panko gave them a nice crunch. So the next time I'm craving fried zucchini, I'll make these instead.

Baked Zucchini Slabs
2 medium-sized zucchini
2 eggs
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray a flat baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Slice zucchini into slabs and season with salt and pepper.
Put flour and zucchini in a ziplock bag and shake to coat.
Beat eggs in a small bowl.
Pour panko bread crumbs on a plate.
Dip zucchini slabs into egg and then bread crumbs.
Bake 10 minutes and then flip the slabs.
Bake an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with ranch dressing, if desired.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

It's my friend Becca's birthday! We celebrated over the weekend and I surprised her with these red velvet cupcakes topped with brown sugar cream cheese frosting. Becca loves chocolate—she's a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

Last year I surprised her with a triple chocolate cake. I wanted to do something different and then I remembered that she loves red velvet cupcakes. We had a chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet cupcake tree at our wedding. Becca didn't know there were red velvet and she took a chocolate one instead. She was so disappointed when she found out later. She wasn't disappointed with these cupcakes, and neither was I. After I arrived at the bar, I found out it was another friend's birthday, too. And it just so happens that Amanda loves red velvet as well. Happy birthday girls!

These were quite honestly the most perfect cupcakes I ever made. They were tender and moist with the perfect amount of tang from the buttermilk. The sweet icing perfectly complemented the cake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Icing
Cupcakes: adapted from Cake Man Raven as seen on Cathy's Kitchen Journey
Icing: adapted from Joy the Baker as seen on Beantown Baker

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 and 1/2 cups cake flour (I used AP and replaced 5 tablespoons with cornstarch)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder and set aside. In another bowl beat together buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vegetable oil, food coloring, and vanilla on medium speed until blended. Slowly add flour mixture and beat until combined.

Fill liners about 3/4 full and bake for 16 - 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Icing
1 stick butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
2 - 4 tablespoons water (or milk)

Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add brown sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.