June 23, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Steve asked me to bake something for his team meeting where they celebrate whomever's birthday it is that month. Yes, his work team. Of grown adults. I would rather celebrate with a nice cocktail...but to each their own. I jokingly asked if he wanted me to make clown cupcakes or those cupcakes in ice cream cones since I was having a flash back of elementary school, but he assured me that wasn't necessary.

As we were in Costco (one of my favorite places to shop) this weekend, I found a Barefoot Cookbook I didn't have yet, Barefoot Contessa at Home. It was just $20 and I was thumbing through it, came across the recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting that looked yummy. Steve said make it, so we got the book and I made these tonight.

They are delicious! The cupcake recipe itself is kind of involved, but it is worth it. At one point, when alternating the wet and dry mixes into the main mix, the cupcake batter was looking like an Irish Car Bomb shot gone bad...but I kept the Mean Green Kitchen Aid 'a goin' and it all came out great in the end.

The frosting is so light and creamy and not over-powering. I was also pretty excited to use more of our new kitchen gadgets, a sifter and my cake decorator!

This recipe said it made around 14-15 cupcakes. When I made them, it yielded 23. Nothing like having these left over to munch on!

Cupcake Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

2 tablespoons brewed coffee

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup good cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (our oven took 20 minutes exactly), until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Frosting Ingredients

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 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.

June 22, 2009

Lonestar State Cheesecake

When we went to go complete our registry at Williams Sonoma, the sales associate was really pushing the springform pan I had on my registry but chose to not get.  She claimed it was the best thing they had in the store, so I caved.  I like to bake and I had never tried a cheesecake and this Kaiser pan would allow me to do that.

I got this recipe off the Food Network website, from a cook I have never watched before, Sunny Anderson.  It seemed easy enough and it was getting high ratings, so I gave it a whirl.  Plus, I got to use some new kitchen gadgets...springform pan, food processor, Kitchen Aid mixer and a mandoline slicer (for the strawberries)!

I am not one to brag about my mad skillz, but this was a pretty gosh darn good cheese cake.  Creamy, not too rich and simple to make.  Again, this got a resounding "yum" from my parents and hubby, so that made me happy!

Note:  You do need a 9" springform pan to make this recipe.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (original recipe called for cinnamon, I opted for regular)
6-8 tablespoons butter, melted (I used 8)
4 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar plus,
2 Tablespoons
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sour cream
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, sliced (you could probably use what ever fruit strikes your fancy)

Heat oven to 325.

In a food processor, blend graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until moist, but not wet.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.  In a large bowl, using an electric beater, combine cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the lemon juice until light and smooth.  Slowly mix in the eggs until well blended.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 55 minutes or until the center sets.  (Our oven took about 60 minutes)

Turn oven off and remove the cake.

In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and remaining vanilla.  Spread this over top of the cheesecake and return to the warm oven for 30 minutes.  Remove and then let cool to room temperature before removing the springform.  (I actually let the cheesecake get to room temperature and then put in the fridge for 4 hours until post-dinner...came out great).

Meanwhile, in a small bowl toss together blueberries and sliced strawberries with remaining sugar.

Serve slices of the cheesecake with the fruit as a garnish.

June 21, 2009

Barefoot Potato Salad

Shocker...another Barefoot Contessa recipe, from her "Barefoot at Home" cookbook.  We were having my parents over for Fathers Day BBQ and I wanted to make a potato salad to accompany the steaks we were grilling.  Steve really likes potato salad with a mustard taste and I love potato salad with dill.  This seemed like a happy medium for both of our taste buds and I got to use herbs from our garden.  Both Mom and Dad gave their "yum" of approval...and my mom is not a huge dill fan!  

What I also liked about this recipe is that it seemed just about right for 4-6 people.  Sometimes the Barefoot seems like she is making food for a small army, but we only have a small Tupperware left of this!

3 pounds small red potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk, milk or white wine (I used 1% milk)
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion (we used shallots)

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water.  Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife.  Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel,  Allow the potatoes to steam for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the mayo, milk (buttermilk or wine), Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on their size.  Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl.  While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten (as the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing).  Add the celery, onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  

Toss well, cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

June 18, 2009

Sunburst Lemon Bars

My co-worker gave me this recipe so I could use my Kitchen Aid for another recipe. It is really easy and I had all the ingredients in the house...an added bonus! This is a great dessert for summer, light and refreshing. It was also the first time I got to use my Williams Sonoma Gold Touch 9x13 rectangle pan and it was everything I hoped for! Ha!

A bit of advice...don't make this too late at night if you want to finish it up before you go to bed. You have to wait for it to cool completely before you frost it. That really bummed Steve out!

2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened

4 eggs slightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients. With your paddle attachment, blend until crumbly. Press mixture evenly in the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake crust at 350 for 20-30 minutes until light, golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine all filling ingredients, except the lemon juice. Blend well. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour mixture over warm crust. Return to oven and bake an additional 25-20 minutes or until top is light, golden brown. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine all the frosting ingredients. Add enough lemon juice to desired consistency and taste, blend until smooth. Spread over cooled bars. Yields about 36 bars.

June 16, 2009

Basic Yummy Quiche

My mother-in-law gave us this recipe at one of our showers so I decided to make it this past weekend.  We had a big day of yard work planned (specifically, cleaning up tons of helicopters from our front yard), so I wanted a big breakfast to "power us up" for the day ahead.  My girlfriends had gotten me a bunch of baking things, including a quiche/tart pan and I was excited to put it to use!

This was so easy and yummy!  It is even great leftover!  This recipe is meant to be a base.  You can add whatever meats, veggies, etc. in it that you want...I just wouldn't add more than 2 otherwise it might not fit in the pan!

1 pre-made pie crust (my mother-in-law uses the ones already in a dish, you can also put the crust in a pie pan if you do not have a quiche pan)
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
12 bacon slices (I used more like 9) or 1 cup of ham chopped up
1 small can of mushrooms (can also use onions, green peppers, whatever you wish to taste)
4 eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup cubed swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (you can use cubed too)

Preheat oven to 425.

Spread crust out into pan.  Spread the softened butter onto the crust and put in the refrigerator to chill.

If you are using bacon, fry up the bacon, drain and crumble.  Set aside.  
Mix together the eggs, cream, salt and nutmeg with a wire whisk.  Stir in cheese and other desired ingredients (mushrooms, onions, etc.).
Remove pie crust from fridge and spread out the bacon on the chilled crust.  Pour egg mixture on top of that.

Bake 15 minutes at 425.  Turn oven down to 350 and bake for 35 minutes.  When a knife comes out clean in the center, it is done.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.


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