Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mint Julep Kisses

These are required by my two besties (Heather and Shannon) for all occasions. They both put them as their favorite cookie I make - so clearly it must be.

Mint Julep Kisses
From Kentucky Derby Museum Cookbook
Yields 6 dozen

4 Each egg white stiffly beaten
1 1/2 Cup sugar, white
1 Teaspoon extract, peppermint
6 Drops food coloring, green or another color if desired
12 Ounce(wt)s chocolate, baking, bittersweet chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat egg whites until stiff, gradually adding sugar. Add peppermint extract and food coloring. Stir in chocolate bits.

Drop by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Put in preheated oven and turn off immediately. Leave in oven overnight or for several hours. Store in an airtight tin box.

Chef's Note: For the chocolate, I grate it with a cheese grater or I pulverized it in a food processor. In a food processor, you will end up with some chocolate "dust," but add it to the batter - it only makes them more chocolatey. If you prefer, you can use mini chocolate chips.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chipotle & Rosemary Roasted Nuts

I always need to have something savory in the baskets - usually a spicy nut mixture. This year I went to Ina Garten for inspiration.

Chipotle & Rosemary Roasted Nuts
From Ina Garten, Food Network
Yields 3.5 pounds

28 Ounce(wt)s cashews whole unroasted unsalted
14 Ounce(wt)s walnuts, English whole
14 Ounce(wt)s pecans whole
6 Ounce(wt)s almonds, whole
0.66 Cup syrup, Maple
1/2 Cup sugar, light brown, packed
6 Tablespoons juice, orange
4 Teaspoons pepper, chipoltle, dried
8 Tablespoons rosemary, fresh minced
1 to taste salt, Kosher

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

My nephew loves 3 things, cranberries, cookies and icing...honestly the only things these are missing are being dipping in icing to give him the perfect cookie ever...not that he minds 2 out of 3!

Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
From Crisco
Yields 3 dozen

3/4 Cups Crisco, butter-flavored sticks
3/4 Cups sugar, white
3/4 Cups sugar, light brown, packed
2 Large egg, whole
2 Teaspoons extract, vanilla
1 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 Teaspoon salt, table
2 3/4 Cups oats, old-fashioned
1 Cup cranberries, sweetened dried
1 Cup walnuts, halves chopped

HEAT oven to 350ºF. Coat baking sheets with no-stick cooking spray.

BEAT shortening, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat into shortening mixture until smooth. Stir in oats, dried cranberries and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

BAKE 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Orange Brownies

More chocolate...I don't get tired of it, do you?

Orange Brownies
Yields 24

8 Ounce(wt)s chocolate, baking, unsweetened
8 Large egg, whole
16 Ounce(wt)s butter, unsalted
2 Cups flour, all-purpose sifted
1 Teaspoon salt, table
2 Cups marmalade, orange
2 Teaspoons extract, vanilla
4 Cups sugar, white
Optional Ingredients:
4 Cups pecans broken in pieces

Directions: Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and add salt, vanilla, and sugar, and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one. Add the flour and beat until smooth. Stir in nuts.

Pour half of batter into greased 9x13 pan and make a smooth surface. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the batter is frozen, spread preserves on the batter in a thin layer. Pour remaining batter over the preserves and gently smooth it over to cover.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting brownies. Cool them completely on wire rack. Serve.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

There is no sour mash when it comes to TRUE Kentucky Bourbon...keep your Jack away from my Evan. This Kentucky Colonel does not mess around with fake bourbons...I would lose my commission.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY Yields 50

3 Cups NILLA wafers finely crushed
1 Cup sugar, powdered plus extra for rolling
1 1/2 Tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/2 Cup pecans finely chopped
3 Tablespoons corn syrup, light
1/2 Cup bourbon
1 to taste sugar, white for rolling

Mix together vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, cocoa, nuts, corn syrup and bourbon; mix well and shape into 1 to inch balls. Roll in sugar and powdered sugar.

Store in airtight container.

Chef's Note: You can replace the bourbon with dark rum, but why would you want to?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Chocolate Crackled Cookies

Nothing but chocolate does the holidays justice, so when I make my holiday baskets, chocolate is the star. This time, there were 5 or 6 different chocolate options...

First up:
Chocolate Crackled Cookies
From Crisco
Yields 3 dozen
1 1/4 Cup sugar, light brown, packed
1 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks
1 tsp extract, vanilla
2 Large egg, whole
2 Cups flour, all-purpose
6 Tbls cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/2 tsp salt, table
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 Cups chocolate chips, mini semisweet
1/3 Cup sugar, white
1/2 Cup sugar, powdered

BEAT brown sugar, shortening and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; beat until fluffy.

STIR together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Gradually add to shortening mixture, beating at medium speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill 3 hours.

HEAT oven to 375ºF. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar to coat completely. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


1 1/4 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 1/2 Teaspoon ginger, ground
1 Teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 Teaspoon cloves, ground
1/2 Teaspoon allspice, ground
1/4 Teaspoon salt, table
1/4 Cup butter, unsalted
1/2 Cup sugar, white
1/2 Cup molasses unsulfured
1 Large egg, whole lightly beaten
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Cup water boiling
1 Tablespoon ginger, crystallized thinly sliced

Into a bowl sift together the flour, the ground ginger, the cinnamon, the cloves, the allspice, and the salt.

In another bowl cream the butter, add the sugar, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg, beating until the mixture is smooth.

In a measuring cup combine the baking soda with boiling water and stir the mixture to dissolve the baking soda. Stir the mixture into the molasses mixture (the mixture will appear curdled) and stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine the ingredients well.

Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin tins with paper liners and spoon the batter into the liners, filling them halfway.

Bake the cupcakes in the middle of a preheated 350. oven for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (The cupcakes will be flat or slightly indented on top.) Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let them cool.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 Ounce(wt)s softened cheese, cream regular
2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 1/2 Cups sugar, powdered
1 Teaspoon extract, lemon
1/2 Teaspoon oil, lemon, optional
1 Teaspoon zest, lemon
2 Teaspoons juice, lemon

In a bowl cream together the cream cheese, and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add the confectioners' sugar and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth. Beat in the zest and the lemon juice and chill the frosting for 30 minutes.

Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and top each cupcake with some of the crystallized ginger.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 Cups flour, all-purpose
1 1/2 Cup sugar, white
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt, table
1 Teaspoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/2 Cup oil, vegetable
1 Cup buttermilk, full-fat at room temperature
2 Large egg, whole at room temperature
2 Tablespoons food coloring, red
1 Teaspoon vinegar, white
1 Teaspoon extract, vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.

Using a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

Dish batter into cupcake papers and bake for approximately 22 to 24 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 Ounce(wt)s softened cheese, cream regular
4 Cups sifted sugar, powdered
1 Cup softened butter, unsalted
1 Teaspoon extract, vanilla

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, sugar and butter on low speed until incorporated.

Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally.

Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using.

May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 18 cupcakes

3/4 Cups flour, all-purpose
3/4 Cups flour, cake sifted
1/2 Tbls baking powder
1/4 tsp salt, table
1/2 Tbls cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground for dusting
1/2 Cup butter, unsalted at room temperature
1 Cup sugar, white
2 Tbls sugar, white for dusting
2 Large egg, whole at room temperature
1 tsp extract, vanilla
3/4 Cups milk, skim

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. sprinkle the top of each cupcake with the sugar.

Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Pipe frosting on each cupcake. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

8 Ounce(wt)s softened cheese, cream regular
1/2 Cup softened butter, unsalted
1 Teaspoon extract, vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon, ground
4 Cups sugar, powdered

In a medium bowl, combine butter and cream cheese. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Add the cinnamon, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time). Beat until smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Caramel Apple Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 24 cupcakes

2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
2 medium Fuji apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe below
Caramel syrup, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 regular size cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low speed, combine the sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract until blended. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low until blended. Stir in the apples.

Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched with your finger, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Either pipe Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting onto the cupcakes using a pastry bag and your favorite tip, or spread each cupcake with the frosting. Drizzle each cupcake with caramel syrup.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tbls vanilla bean paste (you can use the same amount of extract instead)
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla bean paste until smooth and thoroughly blended. Slowly add the powdered sugar and salt. Mix until smooth.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes with Cookie Dough Buttercream Frosting

Always up for a new challenge from my team, and needing to top my previous endeavor, Ames found me the following recipe to try. So much for going with something summery and fruity...

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes with Cookie Dough Buttercream Frosting
Yields 30 cupcakes

For the cookie dough:
2 sticks butter, softened* (I prefer using Butter-flavored Crisco)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 Tbls milk
1 Tbls vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Combine the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes Beat in milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Beat in the flour and salt until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, shape the dough into balls or tubes. Freeze on a parchment lined baking sheet overnight.

For the cupcakes:
3 sticks butter, softened* (I prefer using Butter-flavored Crisco)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (24 total) - you will probably have left over batter, so if you have 3 cupcake pans, use them all and line 30 with papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla.

Using a 3 tablespoon scoop, fill the prepared cupcake liners 2/3 full with the cupcake batter. Place a frozen cookie dough ball on the top center of each cupcake and push lightly so it does not fall to the side when moving the pan.

Bake at 350 for 16 to 18 minutes.

For the frosting:
3 sticks butter, softened* (I prefer using Butter-flavored Crisco)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbls milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 ounces mini chocolate chips

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the salt, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth and combined.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips!

So these were a HUGE hit - much more than I thought they would be. They look a little weird after baking as some ended up with a sink-hole in the middle from the cookie dough. Things to note - you can just buy the cookie dough if you want to (I did as I was short on time). Make sure you divvy it up and freeze it for as long as you can. I only did it for an hour, but I am sure they would have been better if they had frozen longer.

So some of the comments where:

Nate the Great: your cupcake just completed my life's meaning. holy freaking goodness of chocolate


Soccer Megan: OMG!!!! Those cupcakes are amazing!! My first experience with them... Holy Yumminess!

CFAB: These cupcakes are killing me---best thing to ever happen to me

Monday, July 04, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake - More Than a TV Cartoon From the 80's

A true Southern delight, made delicious by my great grandmother, Frances (aka, FaFa). All you need is some fresh berries and Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream) and my FaFa's short cakes.

Macerated Strawberries
2 pints fresh strawberries, quartered and diced
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, white

Mix the berries and the sugar and let sit. When left to sit the berries with release their own juices.

Short Cake
Yields 8 cakes

2 Cups flour, all-purpose sifted
2 Teaspoons baking powder heaping
1/4 Cup crisco
1 Large egg, whole
1 Tablespoon sugar, white rounded
1/2 Teaspoon salt, table
1 Cup milk, whole or more as needed

Mix as biscuits. Add more milk if needed.

Bake at 475 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned.

1 short cake
Macerated strawberries
Cool Whip or freshly whipped cream

Slice open the sort cake. Spoon over with strawberries and juice. Top with some Cool Whip or whipped cream. Add the top of the cake, more strawberries and juice and another dollop of cream.

Grilled Zucchini Courtesy of Chez Pink (aka Big Ass Zucchini, Part III)

There is nothing better than fresh zucchini grilled up with a little seasoning at the height of summer.

So in case you missed it - here is the original "beast."

It's so simple, you don't really need a recipe.
Grilled Zucchini

Thick slices of zucchini
Greek Seasoning to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Toss zucchini with oil and seasoning. Grill over a medium-hot fire for 2 minutes per side, or until desired doneness.

3-Day Weekends are for Barbecuing

Not that I ever need an excuse to BBQ, but a 3-day weekend certainly makes it feel like a requirement...a least when you are related to my Dad.

So Barbecue Chicken it is.

First, you need the right sauce, my Mom's.

Bumpy Barbecue Sauce
Yields 1 cup

1/2 Cup butter
1 Each lemon, juiced
1 Cup ketchup
1/4 Cup worcestershire sauce
2 Teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 Teaspoon pepper, black
2 Teaspoons sugar, white
1 to taste Tabasco, optional

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add lemon juice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, sugar and pepper. Simmer until flavors are melded, about 20 minutes.

Add Tabasco to taste.

Then the rub...sorry, it's my secret and I won't post that. You will just have to buy it from me.

My method belongs to ATK, with a couple of tweaks.

Barbecue Chicken

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or 4 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts , 10 to 12 ounces each
Ground black pepper
Large disposable aluminum baking pan
1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce or bottled barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving

Light large chimney starter filled with hardwood charcoal (6 quarts) and allow to burn until all charcoal is covered with layer of fine gray ash, about 20 minutes. Build three-level fire by stacking most of coals on one side of grill, arranging remaining coals in single layer in middle of grill, and leaving remaining side empty of coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill with lid, and let grate heat up, about 5 minutes. Use grill brush to scrape cooking grate clean. Grill is ready when temperature of stacked coals is medium-hot and that of single layer of coals is medium-low.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Cook chicken, uncovered, over hotter part of grill until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move chicken thighs or legs to middle part of grill and move chicken breasts to area with no fire and cover with disposable aluminum roasting pan. Continue to grill thighs or legs, uncovered, turning occasionally, until dark and fully cooked, 12 to 16 minutes for thighs, 16 to 20 minutes for whole legs. Continue to grill breasts, skin-side up, for 10 minutes. Turn and cook for 5 minutes more or until done. To test for doneness, either peek into thickest part of chicken with tip of small knife (you should see no redness near bone) or check internal temperature at thickest part with instant-read thermometer, which should register 165 degrees for dark meat and 160 degrees for breasts.

Brush pieces liberally with barbecue sauce during final 2 minutes of cooking. Transfer to serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature, passing extra barbecue sauce separately.

My changes: I find that the chicken easily needs 10 minutes more than this. I season with my rib rub instead of salt and pepper. I also put the sauce on the chicken with 5 to 7 minutes left in the cooking process.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Who Needs Cake...?

...when you can make Red Velvet Pancakes?

Happy 3-day weekend everyone. First, I have to start out by explaining that this recipe came from The Breakfast Cook by way of way of the fabulous Gemma, who cooks breakfast for my brother's company. So I cannot take credit for the idea or the recipe. However, you all know me and you know I make changes. So...

Let's start with the Butter Pecan Syrup. I am allergic to tree nuts, so this just became Butter Maple Syrup for us. However I am including the original recipe here and then will explain my changes.

Butter Pecan Syrup
Yields 2 cups

1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks)
4 oz (wt) pecan halves (about 1 cup)
1 cup real Maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons extract, vanilla
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1 pinch Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a sheet tray and place them in the oven. Toast the pecans, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned and fragrant. You don’t have to go too far, because we are going to cook them in the butter for a few minutes as well.

In the meantime, preheat a heavy 10-inch sauté pan over medium. Add the butter and let it begin to melt.

When the butter is mostly melted, add the pecan halves. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the pecans are well toasted and have a rich brown color.
When the butter begins to foam around the pecan halves, add the maple syrup all at once. Continue to cook the butter-syrup mixture until it is hot and bubbly.

Momentarily remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla extract and the water; incorporating with a whisk or wooden spoon. Return the pan to the heat and cook the mixture for 3 to 4 more minutes; until the mixture is hot and thickens slightly.

Taste the syrup and add a pinch of salt.

This syrup can be made well in advance and re-warmed before serving. As it cools, it will “break” on you; meaning the syrup and butter will separate. Just give it a good stir before saucing the pancakes.

What I did differently: Obviously, I skipped the pecans. I melted HALF the butter. Once it stopped foamed and started to brown a little, I added the syrup. Then I followed the directions as above.

Next up - Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. Now this needed NO tweaking from me. I can say that I didn't measure the orange zest. I only had 1 large orange, so that was all the zest that was used and it was the perfect amount. If you don't have a Microplace zester - order one NOW - it is a MUST HAVE in the kitchen.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 1 cup

4 oz (wt) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar, white
1 teaspoon extract, vanilla
1 tablespoon zest, orange

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Using the paddle/beater attachment and the lowest setting, combine the ingredients until well incorporated. Once, you won’t get splattered, increase the speed and whip the ingredients together until smooth.

Serve in a small bowl alongside the Butter Pecan Syrup.

Now that the toppings are done, you can move on the main event - Red Velvet Pancakes!

Red Velvet Pancakes
Yields 14 to 18 pancakes

8 oz (wt) flour, all-purpose (about 1 ½ cups)
1/2 oz (wt) cocoa powder, unsweetened (about 2 Tbls)
2 oz (wt) sugar, white (about 3 Tbls)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, reduced-fat
2 large eggs, whole
1 teaspoon extract, vanilla
1 tablespoon food coloring, red (liquid)
2 oz (wt) butter, melted (½ stick)

Preheat your griddle or heavy pan over medium heat. If you are using a non-stick electric griddle, set the electric griddle temperature a little under 325 degrees. You can tell if the griddle is hot enough when a couple of drops of water sprinkled onto the cooking surface dance with a sizzle and a hiss, before evaporating. For surfaces which aren’t non-stick you will need to grease it up with a little oil, shortening or clarified butter on a paper towel before proceeding to cook.

Next, melt your butter. I do this by placing the butter in a bowl and putting it in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Then, I let the butter sit until I need it in the recipe. This way I make sure the butter isn’t too hot.

Weigh and measure all of the dry ingredient into a bowl large enough to hold all of the batter. Then, with a whisk, stir to thoroughly combine. This breaks up the lumps that might exist in the flour or cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and food coloring.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture; stir until mostly combined. Add the melted butter to the batter; folding gently.

For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup of batter on to the hot griddle. For this I use a disher (ice cream scoop). Cook the pancakes on the first side until they puff up and are full of bubbles and the edges begin to look dry; about 4 minutes

Turn the pancakes over and cook on the second side until they are cooked through; roughly another 3 minutes.

Pay attention to your heat, if on the first side the pancakes are getting really dark before bubbles start to form and the edges begin to dry, turn the heat down. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with the Whipped Cream Cheese and Butter Pecan Syrup.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Whole Mess-o-Potato Salad

Fourth of July weekend means barbecues and picnics - which also means pulled pork, barbecue chicken, burgers, coleslaw, baked beans and, you guessed it, potato salad.

so I have 3 potato salad recipes I make. One with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette, my Granny's which has a sweet and sour marinade, green onions, hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise and Miracle Whip (quite Southern and quite good) and then the one selected for Sunday's festivities - Potato Salad Vichyssoise - so names for the creaminess and the chives. It always seems to be a big hit.

Potato Salad Vichyssoise
Yields 4 servings

Chef's Note: If using small red new potatoes, cook the potatoes whole and unpeeled. Once cooked, drain and cool completely. Cut into small quarters, sixths or eighths (depending on the size of the potatoes).

1 teaspoon salt
3 Pounds potato, baking or small red new
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
1/2 Cup sour cream
1/4 Cup chives, fresh chopped
To taste pepper, white, ground

In a large covered saucepan, bring 3 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over high heat. While water is coming to a boil, fill large bowl with cold water. Under cold running water, rinse potatoes and peel with vegetable peeler, placing each one in bowl of water when finished.

Remove one potato from water. Cut potato width-wise into 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Return slices to water and repeat process with remaining potatoes. In colander, drain potatoes and slip them carefully into boiling water. Cook over medium high heat until slices can be easily penetrated with tip of a knife, about 5 minutes. In colander, drain potatoes, taking care not to break slices.

With wooden spoon, carefully return potatoes to pan. Place a folded clean dish towel over pan and lay saucepan cover on top. With heat turned off, let potatoes sit in pan about 5 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave potatoes to cool, about 15 minutes. While potatoes are cooling, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and 1/4 cup chives in a small bowl, and stir with a fork until blended.

Cover and refrigerate potatoes until needed. Remove dressing and potatoes from refrigerator. With wooden spoon, spoon dressing over potatoes and gently toss to combine, being careful not to break potato slices.

Turn potatoes into serving dish and, if desired, garnish with chives.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Zucchini Muffins Courtesy of Chez Pink (aka Big Ass Zucchini, Part II)

Read my previous post if you want to know about the BAZ. But in case you didn't see it...

So I didn't make enough soup, so recipe two was my Zucchini Bread...but I didn't want a bunch of zucchini loaves around my house (because I would eat them all), so I decided I would take them to muffins seemed a better idea. Bring on the cupcake papers...

Zucchini Quick Bread
Yields 6 demi loaves or 2 regular loaves or 30 muffins

Chef's Note: I rarely add raisins and because of my allergy I never add the nuts. I include them here in case you want to. You do need a food scale for this recipe!

4 Large egg, whole
1 Pound sugar, white
1 Cup oil, vegetable
1 Pound flour, pastry or all-purpose
1 Teaspoon salt, table
1 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
3 1/4 Teaspoons baking powder
14 1/2 Ounce(wt)s squash, zucchini grated
1 1/2 Teaspoon extract, vanilla

Optional Ingredients:
8 Ounce(wt)s raisins, seedless
4 Ounce(wt)s walnuts, English

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Plump raisins: Put raisins in a saucepan and cover completely with water. Boil water 10 to 20 seconds. Strain and spread raisins on parchment paper to dry and cool. Raisins should be added to mixture after they dry, otherwise they will sink to the bottom of the batter.

Beat the eggs. Add oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add alternately with the zucchini to the liquids starting and ending with the flour. Add nuts and raisins. Pour into greased pans and bake.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Cool on racks.

If making muffins, line muffin pans with cupcake papers. Scoop batter into papers until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on racks.

Cool Zucchini Soup Courtesy of Chez Pink (aka Big Ass Zucchini, Part I)

My best friend, Chez Pink, has her first vegetable garden. Lucky for me, I get to benefit from her spoils. First up, world's (or Hapeville's) biggest zucchini ever!

After weighing in at 4 1/2 pounds, I knew I had to come up with multiple applications for this puppy! I decided to start with Some Cool Zucchini Soup...unfortunately, it only used about 1/6 of the zuke. I got this recipe from NPR about 3 years ago when I was driving into work, I believe on my last day at EarthLink (or near to it).

Cool Zucchini Soup
Yields 4 Servings

Chef's Note: This is a very satisfying version of the zucchini-mint soup I so enjoyed. I've never quite figured out how to add the flavor of the mint while still preserving the smooth texture. I'm still working on it. But using mint as a fine herbal garnish works well, as does using basil.

1/4 Cup oil, olive
2 Medium squash, zucchini coarsely chopped
1 Medium onion, yellow coarsely chopped
1 Large lemon zested
1 Cup stock, chicken, low-sodium or vegetable
1/2 Cup buttermilk, reduced-fat or less, to taste
1 to taste salt and pepper
4 Sprigs basil or mint, fresh finely chopped or julienned

Place the oil in a heavy pot. Add zucchini, onion, lemon zest and a little salt to help draw out the juices. Sweat them, covered, for 25 minutes. Check and stir frequently. Don't let the zucchini brown. Don't overcook it, either, or it will take on an unappetizing olive hue.

When the vegetables are quite tender but not mushy, add the stock. Simmer everything together for 5 minutes.

Using a blender set on high, puree the soup in batches and strain it through a fine strainer or sieve, discarding any fibrous solids. Whisk in buttermilk to taste and chill at least 4 hours.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Blondies for Camp Sunshine

This week was Camp Sunshine week at work. One of my employees, Jessie, is a long-time survivor of leukemia and attended Camp Sunshine as a kid. Ever since, she has been a camp counselor and goes back every summer for a week for the Keencheefoonee Road Race. Prior to her trip, she hosts a mini-bake sale at work and since my arrival 15 months ago, I started to contribute. The deal is, donate for a sweet treat, a little or a lot. It is always a big success, especially in a small company like ours.

Peanut Butter Blondies

1 1/2 Cup sugar, white
1/2 Cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
3 Large egg, whole
1/2 Cup butter, unsalted softened
1 Teaspoon extract, vanilla
1 Cup flour, all-purpose
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt, table
6 Ounce(wt)s chocolate chips, semisweet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar, peanut butter, eggs, butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread into an ungreased 9x13 pan (metal or glass)**. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. The will be cracking and brown around the edges when done.

Cool, cut and serve (best when served slightly warm).

**If you don't know the ATK sling method, I swear by it.
Making a Foil Sling: Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mocha Cupcakes from Ms. Paula Deen

So I have become the cupcake queen at work...I'll try anything once. But after one try, I have to change it and mold it and make it my own. So while I took inspiration from Ms. Deen, the Southern Belle herself, these have been edited from her original.

Now hers included a Kahlúa cream center. The problem was it was to be made with Chocolate Cool Whip - this is the holy grail of ingredients as it took me months to find. You would have thought that I was a 49er panning for gold or something. I found it after much searching and a day trip down south, but it wasn't worth it for the amount you end up putting in. Now maybe if you carve out some of the cupcake it might be worth it, but honestly these are so moist and delish - you don't need it.

Mocha Cupcakes
Yields 30 cupcakes

2 1/4 Cups flour, all-purpose
2 Cups sugar, white
3/4 Cups cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt, table
1 Cup oil, vegetable
1 Cup coffee, brewed cooled *espresso is preferred
3 Large egg, whole
8 Ounce(wt)s sour cream
1 Teaspoon extract, vanilla
24 Each chocolate covered coffee beans for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add oil, coffee, and eggs. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla.

Spoon the batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, for 16 to 18 minutes. Let them cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Coffee Buttercream Frosting for Mocha Cupcakes
1 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks
6 Cups sugar, powdered
3/8 Cup cooled coffee, brewed *espresso preferred
1/8 Cup, liqueur, Kahlúa

In a medium bowl, beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth, then beat in the coffee and Kahlúa.

Spread the Coffee Butter cream frosting evenly over the cupcakes and garnish with chocolate covered coffee beans, if desired.