Thursday, August 22, 2013

Coconut Raspberry Cupcakes

I've been on a coconut kick. While there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion, I'm not fully to blame. You see everyone keeps requesting coconut. Who I am to deny a request? Especially when it's for one of my favorite flavors (and for my favorite person!). My husband and I have transformed our bodies over the past two years with diet and exercise. Because of this, I have been baking much less. For his birthday, he decided he didn't want cake. I know, right? He's crazy! So I didn't plan on making him a cake like I normally do. Well at the last second, my husband broke down and asked me to make him coconut cupcakes for his birthday. I obliged, but I didn't have many ingredients on hand. I found some shredded coconut and raspberry jam in the pantry and came up with raspberry-filled vanilla cupcakes with coconut buttercream. These were sweet and fruity and devoured by the birthday boy! 

Coconut Raspberry Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
Coconut Buttercream
1/2 shredded coconut (optional)

After the cupcakes have cooled, fill them with the seedless raspberry preserves, using the cone method. Then top with a swirl of coconut buttercream and some shredded coconut if desired.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chicken & Waffles with Spicy Maple Drizzle

I never had chicken and waffles until I met my husband. I know it's a Southern dish typically made with crispy fried chicken, but here in the Northeast, it's made with shredded chicken in a cream sauce. I wasn't a fan of the creamy kind and wrote off chicken and waffles—that was until I had the real deal at a pop-up dinner that I attended. (Read about Pop-Up dining here. It's an amazing experience.) This version, which included a popcorn dusted chicken thigh on top of a cornmeal waffle with a drizzle of jalapeno syrup, was the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and spicy. I couldn't stop thinking about the dish afterward, so I decided to recreate it. While it wasn't as good as the original dish, it satisfied my chicken and waffles craving.

Chicken & Waffles with Spicy Maple Drizzle
Inspired by Peculiar Culinary Company

Breaded Chicken
3 chicken breasts, sliced in half
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

2 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, salt, and pepper and place on a plate. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Dip chicken into the bread crumbs, then the egg mixture, and again into the bread crumbs. Place chicken in a greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Belgium Waffle
Bake your favorite waffle, using a waffle iron. I used a box mix, but you can make your favorite waffle recipe. This one from Alton Brown is really tasty! 

Spicy Maple Drizzle
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan over low heat until syrup is warm. Drizzle on top of chicken and waffles and enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Coconut Creme Cupcakes

If you already didn't know, I love coconut. It's my favorite flavor. I think you either hate it or love it. Many don't like it because of its texture. I love the flavor and the texture, and I tend to gravitate toward coconut-flavored treats. I made these coconut creme cupcakes for my coconut-loving friend's birthday, and they were well received—even by the self-proclaimed coconut-hating partygoers. I stuffed chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with coconut pudding and topped them with coconut buttercream and then dipped the tops in shredded coconut. They are a coconut-lovers dream!

Coconut Creme Cupcakes
Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 1 dozen)
Chocolate Cupcakes  (makes 1 dozen)
1 cup shredded coconut

While the cupcakes are baking, make the coconut creme filling.

Coconut Creme Filling
1 package coconut cream Jell-O pudding
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Whisk together all ingredients and chill for one hour. 

Coconut Buttercream
2 sticks butter, room temperature
4 - 6 cups powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 - 4 tablespoons water

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add coconut and vanilla extracts and beat well. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.

After the cupcakes are cooled, remove the centers of each cupcake using the cone method. Fill the centers with coconut creme filling and then top with coconut buttercream. Dip each top in shredded coconut and enjoy!

Friday, August 2, 2013

French Dip Sandwiches

I love Pinterest, but I am weary when it comes to recipes from the site. I've had a few flops along the way. Sure, I pin a ton of recipes that I want to try, but I usually read the comments and reviews before I give them a whirl. Boy was I happy that I gave this one a try. I was hesitant because of how salty dry onion soup mix could be, but everything turned out great! The roast beef for these French dip sandwiches was tender and succulent while the au jus was beefy and not too salty. 

French Dip Sandwiches
Source: Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body via Pinterest

4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast (or sirloin roast, tri tip, brisket, rump roast, etc.)
2 envelopes dry onion soup mix
3 cups beef stock
1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
10–12 rolls
5–6 slices provolone cheese (optional)
Whisk together onion soup mix, beef stock, and pepper. Pour a little of the liquid on the bottom of the slow cooker and place the roast on top. Pour the rest of the mixture on top of roast.

Cook on low for 6–8 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove meat from slow cooker and shred with two forks on a cutting board. Strain the liquid left in the slow cooker with a fine mesh strainer and discard any chunks. Add about 1/2 cup of the liquid to the shredded beef to keep it moist and reserve the rest.

Preheat broiler. Place shredded beef on rolls and top with 1/2 slice Provolone cheese. Place in broiler until cheese is melted and buns are toasted. Serve with au jus on side for dipping.