March 31, 2010

Fun Spring Find...Dry Daffodils!

My world tour has nearly come to an end...thank goodness.  Last week I was in Tokyo and Shanghai for work and I have never been happier to be home!  I did have a good trip, but nothing is better than your own home, husband and furry kids at the end of the day!

So, after I got home, we needed to go grocery shopping.  We decided to go to Trader Joe's for about our once every couple month trip there to stock up.  I absolutely love Trader Joe's floral section and this past Sunday was no exception.  I am so excited to share my find with you!

I saw daffodils all stacked up on top of each other not in water and thought it was a bit weird, so I read the sign a little more closely and it said "dry daffodils, place in water and they will bloom".  I was a tad skeptical, but for $1.49 per bunch, it was worth a shot.

I bought 2 bunches, brought them home, placed in water and they looked like this:

About 24 hours later, they started to open up!  I was amazed.  This picture was taken last night, so about 48 hours later...full bloom!

Not bad for $3.00!  Now, I have a touch of spring on my kitchen table :)

March 14, 2010

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

In honor of one of the greatest days of the year, St. Patrick's Day, I decided to attempt a recipe that a former Knottie friend of mine gave me.  I have also seen it pop up on a few other food blogs lately, so they must be popular this time of year!

I was also excited to use my new camera as an early birthday gift from Steve to take these pictures!  I was really excited to see it had a "gourmet food" setting. :)

These were fairly time consuming, but not overly complicated.  I made 19 cupcakes out of this recipe.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup Guinness beer
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1-2 tsp. Irish whiskey (optional, I used a smidge less than 1 tsp. of Jameson per Steve's insistence)

Baileys Frosting
3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar (I used about 3 1/2)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 - 4 Tbsp Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream or a combination thereof...I used a small airplane bottle size of Baileys~apx. 4 tsp. and a splash of heavy cream)

Make the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line cupcake cups with liners
  3. Bring Guinness and butter to a simmer over medium heat
  4. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth, Cool slightly
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into a large bowl to blend
  6. Using a mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend
  7. Add Guinness/cocoa mixture to egg mixture and beat to just combine
  8. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed
  9. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
  10. Divide batter among lined cupcake pan, filling them apx. 2/3-3/4 of the way.
  11. Bake in preheated oven until tester comes out clean (recipe said 17 minutes, ours took apx. 22)
  12. Cool cupcakes on rack completely.
Make the filling
  1. Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heat proof bowl.  
  2. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate, let sit for 1 minute over the chocolate
  3. Stir until smooth
  4. Add the butter and whiskey (if you choose) and stir until combine
  5. Let ganache until cool until thick, but still soft enough to pipe into cupcakes

Fill the cupcakes

Using a 1" cookie cutter or a corer (I used a corer, it worked like a charm), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes.  You want to go most of the way down, but not all the way.  Aim for around 2/3.

Put the cooled ganache into a piping bag and fill the holes on each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting
  1. Whip the butter in the bowl for several minutes, you want it very light and fluffy
  2. Slowly add the confectioners sugar, a few tablespoons at a time
  3. When the frosting looks thick, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk or cream) and whip it until it is combined.
  4. If the frosting got too thin (it shouldn't, but just in case), you can add a few more spoonfuls of confectioners sugar.
Decorate and enjoy!

March 13, 2010

RoTel's Southwest Chicken Skillet

This is yet another successful recipe we recipe we received from a guest at our wedding shower, which is hard to believe was nearly a year ago already.  Man, how time flies.  Thanks Aunt Lisa for the recipe!  We will definitely be adding this to the rotation.  We really liked the flavor and I liked the minimal dishes it required to make it!

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch chunks (I used 2 Costco sized ones)
1 cup uncooked rice
1 10 oz. can RoTel Diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water
3 green onions thinly sliced, reserve 2 Tbsp. for garnish
sour cream (optional, but we think it added some good flavor)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to high heat.  Cook chicken until no longer pink, stirring frequently.  Stir in rice, can of RoTel, can of tomato sauce, water, and green onions.  Bring to a boil, cover.

Reduce heat to low, cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.  Stir the mixture.  Top with shredded cheese and the reserved green onions.  Cover.  Cook 5 minutes more until cheese melts.

Serve with sour cream if desired.

March 9, 2010

Where in the world have we been?

Paris and Munich actually!  I apologize for my lack of posting, but it has been a very hectic month for us.  We listed our house on the market (and have our first offer to be approved, keeping fingers crossed) and work has been very busy.  I had to travel to Europe to visit some of my colleagues, and luckily, we had enough frequent flier miles for Steve to join off we went!  It was definitely nice to have Steve to come home to every night after a long work day!  And I think he enjoyed exploring the cities a bit too.

Since I haven't been posting any new recipes, I thought I would share some pictures of the food we ate over the last week.  One thing I love about Europe is the amazing food to be had.

Steve with his first crepe...ham and cheese.

We survived on bread and cheese in good.

French Onion Soup

Coq au Vin and Fondue

German Snack Plate

Bavaria at its finest...pretzels and beer

Beef soup


Prost!   Excuse my look of exhaustion, jet lag.

More cheese and pretzel

Another snack plate.

I discovered a new favorite beer...weiss (wheat) and lemon refreshing!

All in all, it was a good trip.  It is always good to be home, but fun to see new places and things.  Stay tuned for my trip to Asia in a few weeks...unfortunately Steve won't be joining me for that one!


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