Sunday, August 22, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting

Mmmm time for another yummy cupcake recipe. Cupcake baking has become my new Sunday afternoon ritual (posting about them on the other hand has fallen to the wayside. lol)

I had a boxed mix of red velvet cake mix, left over from a previous project. I'm really into jazzing my cupcakes up or adding something unique to the mix, but I did not want to mess with these, so instead I pulled out my newly acquired Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book and whipped up some homemade cream cheese frosting.

I've only had cream cheese frosting once before, but I have been told by many red velvet cupcake loves that they just aren't the same with any other frosting so I had to try this out. I have to say... It is DELICIOUS!

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluff, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add Sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smoother and combined, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed.

*If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.

I got carried away when decorating because of my new baking purchase: The Cuisipro Cupcake Corer and Decorating Set. (Google it.. it's been my best purchase yet!) This amazing little kit not only contains two squeeze bottle icing containers but also has a special cupcake corer. I was able to pack these cakes full of cream cheese frosting. Check it out!

Icing recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Photos courtesy of Kristina Romeo

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I've been baking so much lately that I had to finally buckle down and try something new for dinner. I was ready to venture out and make something really out of the ordinary. That didn't work out so well. I immediately found a great chicken recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Annie's Eats. Yes, I know...50% of my dinner posts are chicken, but this dish contains artichokes. Anytime I see artichokes on the table, I run in the opposite direction. I honestly am not sure why, but I tasted them once and didn't care for the flavor.

Since I was ready to prove to myself that I can change, I gave this dish a try: Chicken and Artichokes in a White Wine Sauce. It just sounds great, right? Well it most definitely is! The tartness of the artichoke mixed with the tangyness of the wine sauce went perfectly over top the breaded chicken and mushrooms. It was like comfort food got a kick of robust flavor!


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp herbes de provence
(or other combo of dried herbs. I used salt free all-purpose seasoning.)
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 (14 oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/3 cup dry white wine1/3 cup chicken broth

1) In a shallow dish, combine the flour, dried herbs, salt and pepper and stir with a fork to blend. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Using tongs, coat the chicken breast halves in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.

2) Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate; cover and keep warm.

3) Add butter to the pan and warm until melted. Next, add the mushrooms and artichokes to the pan and cook until most of the liquid is released from the mushrooms and the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

4) In a liquid measuring cup, combine the white wine, chicken broth, and reserved tablespoon of flour; whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to the skillet, cooking until it is warm and slightly thickened. Return the chicken to the pan to warm through and cover with sauce. Serve the chicken with sauce spooned over the top, and garnish with grated Parmesan and fresh parsley as desired.

I am ready to admit it, I am anti-artichoke no more! This dish was amazing!!! You've got to try it. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For...

...ICE CREAM CONE CUPCAKES!!! Yup! I said it.... Ice Cream Cone Cakes!!

Imagine scrumptious little cupcakes, baked right inside the perfect cupcake ice cream cone. They are great for munching on the go, impressing friends and beyond amazing for children's birthday parties. (My mother made these for my birthday in Kindergarten. They were so much fun. I loved them!)

Your favorite boxed cupcake mix (including egg, oil and water as directed)
You favorite frosting
24 ice cream cones

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare boxed cupcake mix as directed.
2) Sit 24 ice cream cones in the divots of two cupcake pans. (This helps keep the cones from tipping while baking.) If you have left over batter, make a second batch.
3) Fill cones 3/4 of the way full. (I stopped around the top of the little circle line in the cone.)
4) Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when testing.
5) Let cool then ice as desired.


(Another set of great photos by: Kristina Romeo)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Steak... in a hurry

Steak is always a nice treat and lately, my local grocery store has been selling it for the right price. You can't go wrong with a London Broil for only $1.99 a pound, right? The one thing I have learned from my recent steak endeavours is that the London Broil is a pretty tough cut of meat. I've really only been able to cook it to perfection once. It's kind of upsetting, but what can you do?

Tonight, I didn't want to bother waiting for the grill to heat up so I decided to cook it on my grill pan. I cut thin strips of steak and threw it in the pan with some butter. (Butter? You might be saying? Yes... this is a little trick I learned from preparing Hobo steak in my cooking class last month.) So in it went with some salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. I cooked the strips until they were medium, then threw in diced red onion, continuing to cook until the onion was tender. To round out my meal, I lazy baked some potatoes (i.e. microwave) and threw them in with the meat.

The photo definitely does not do this meal justice. It was very tasty and created very little mess for me to clean up! ;)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Oh Oh Oreo Cupcakes!

I have been on a baking frenzy lately! Ever since wowing my co-workers and friends with the two variations of S'mores brownies I recently made, I can't seem to get enough! I decided it was time to change things up and take a stab at making cupcakes. It was really hard to pick a recipe with so many different options out there, but for now, Oreo Cupcakes won the battle.

I want start by mentioning this is the first time I've ever made cupcakes from scratch. Usually, I just pull a box out of my cupboard and go with it. I have to admit... starting from scratch was a piece of cake! (No pun intended.) The recipe may seem overwhelming at first, but it's really easy. And I just LOVE that this recipe calls for 1/2 an oreo sitting at the bottom of the cupcake.

(I LOVE this picture!! Mad props to Kristina Romeo for the shooting and devouring!)


For the cupcakes:
30 Oreos, 1 side twisted off and reserved for frosting *

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup veggie oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners and place 1 Oreo (cream side up) in each liner.
2) Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.
3) In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir until well blended.
4) Add flour mixture to large bowl and beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
5) Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
6) Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter (about 1/4 cup).7) Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely

For the frosting:
2 lbs confectioner’s sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening (or 1 cup and 2 tbsp of butter... I did this. It tastes MUCH better)
1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Oreo crumbs, made from reserved sides (used above) and additional cookies

1) Beat shortening (or butter) and water together.
2) Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar and beat until creamy.
3) Add vanilla and beat in well.
4) If needed, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, to attain desired consistency.
5) Beat in Oreo crumbs.
*If frosting will not be used right away, store in an airtight container.

Optional Garnish:
15 Oreos, split in half and placed atop the frosted cupcakes

This recipe makes about 30 cupcakes, so I hope you have a lot of hungry friends!! ;)

* You’ll probably need more than 1 bag for the cupcakes, frosting and garnish

Recipe Credit: