Suburban girl dropped in the Cities, cooking as much as possible and learning along the way.

Chocolate Chai Cupcakes with a Cream, Honey, and Cinnamon Frosting (Roses not included.)

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Well, it HAS been a while, hasn’t it?!  I’m getting settled into my job, so I have the time to update this more regularly.  My lovely friend Kristen was moving out of her apartment today, and I offered to bake her some cupcakes as she had recently bestowed upon me some of her incredible handcrafted pottery.

As for the roses, well, they’re from my sweet boyfriend, surprising me out of the blue.

In order to craft a cupcake worthy of Kristen’s taste buds, I searched through her pintrest and found a mocha cupcake recipe to use as a base for these babies.  They’ve been well received and as for my own opinion, they’re my favorite cupcakes I’ve ever made or eaten.

The honey in the frosting complimented the flavor of the chai tea within the cupcake, the cake itself was moist and flavorful but not overpowering, and the aftertaste was pleasant.

The cake was adapted from Sweet Revelations Mocha Cupcakes and the frosting was from Eats Well With Others.

Lets get started!

Ingredients

CUPCAKE:

  • 3/4 cup hot and strong chai tea
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature (Hint: I stick my butter from the fridge into the microwave for 18-20 seconds and it’s perfect for creaming)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (Hint: I cheat and stick cold eggs in really warm water for 5 minutes, it’ll bring them right down to room temperature)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 dash of ground ginger
  • 1 cup buttermilk (Hint: I use 1 cup regular milk (2% or whole milk work best) and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and it works about the same.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (USE IT I PROMISE IT MAKES THE CAKE MOIST AND DELICIOUS AND THE TASTE ISN’T AFFECTED AT ALL.)

FROSTING:

  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt

Directions

To make the cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake trays with 24 cupcake liners. (I used leftover valentines liners and some shiny metallic ones.)
  • Once the tea has steeped long enough in hot water, add the cocoa powder to the cup, stir well, and set it aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground ginger. Set it aside.
  • Mix the buttermilk and vanilla extract together and (you guessed it) set it aside.
  • Cream the butter, salt, and brown sugar together in a large bowl.  Once sufficiently creamed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and whisk until smooth. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, whisking again. Add the second 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture, whisk well. Finally, add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture and whisk until it almost looks velvety (or, y’know, combined).
  • Add the chai tea and cocoa mix to the batter, mixing well.
  • Add the mayonnaise and stir it in. (TRUST ME, OKAY.)
  • Fill each of the cupcake liners evenly with the batter. (I used about two spoonfuls to fill each of the liners.) (HINT FROM MY GUY: If you come up a bit short, if you fill the empty cupcake nooks (without liners) halfway with water, it will help the rest of the cupcakes baked evenly.)
  • Pop the trays in the oven for 16-18 minutes.  I would suggest doing a single tray of 12 at once so the oven doesn’t get crowded and not distribute the heat properly.
  • They are done once a toothpick can come out clean after being poked into the cupcake.

To make the frosting

  • Whisk together the powdered sugar, cream, honey, cinnamon, and salt until smooth and slightly thick. (It will be a bit less thick than buttercream frosting, but still a substantially thick frosting.)
  • Frost the COMPLETELY COOLED (very important that they are COMPLETELY COOLED) cupcakes with the frosting, either using a spoon (warning if you use a spoon the lure of eating all of the frosting before it hits the cake will intensify), piping bags, or a knife to spread the frosting on the cakes.

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ENJOY!

This recipe should make 24 cupcakes, but I’m not going to bother telling you a serving size because really, who can just eat one cupcake and call it a serving?

Double Glazed Sugar Cookies (That Apparently Taste Like Donuts)

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What do I do when I have an extreme desire to bake, but nothing I’ve made previously is cutting it?
CREATE A NEW SUGAR COOKIE THINGY!  I built it around Sally’s Baking Addiction Funfetti Cookies, seen here.

Lets get started!

Ingredients

For cookies:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups spoon & leveled all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (absolutely necessary)

For Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • Approximately 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions

To make the cookies:

  • In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until it is fairly smooth and lump-free.  Add the sugar and continue beating until it is well incorporated.   Add in the egg and vanilla, scraping the sides and stirring.
  • In a separate bowl, add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar and combine.
  • Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly so as not to make it too difficult to mix.  The dough will be a thicker cookie dough.
  • Form the dough into 15 golf ball sized balls and chill them for at least two hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once the dough is chilled, grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper and place the cookie dough balls on them.
  • Flatten the cookies slightly.
  • Bake the cookies for 8 or 9 minutes, but not any longer.  The cookies won’t look done, but take them out anyways.  Let them cool on the hot cookie sheets for at least 3 minutes before moving to a drying rack or plate.

To make the glazes:

  • Add all of the milk and powdered sugar into a small bowl
  • Whisk
  • Separate 1/3 of the glaze and mix in the cocoa powder with the 1/3 until well incorporated.

To glaze the cookies:

  • Once the cookies are cool, dip them in the plain white glaze and let the glaze dry.
  • Dip a fork or pronged object in the cocoa glaze and drizzle over the cookies.
  • Let dry.

Congratulations, you’ve made double glazed sugar cookies!  My friends, the lovely taste-testers, claim they taste like cookie versions of donuts.  Let me know what your taste-testers think!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

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Hi, y’all!  Sorry I’ve been away, I got bit by a crabby tick which got me sick for a week, and I’ve been working my patootie off to make some more money before I move in on Thursday to my apartment!  I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls for AGES when a lovely friend of mine notified me about this amazing recipe from Recipegirl.com and I simply HAD to try it out.  I was not disappointed whatsoever, and it was much easier to make than I’d originally thought.

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I tweaked Recipegirl’s recipe slightly to make the pancakes fluffier and the cinnamon filling thicker, but otherwise it’s the same.

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Lets get started!

Ingredients

CINNAMON FILLING:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted but not boiling
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

CREAM CHEESE GLAZE:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

PANCAKE BATTER:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

To make the cinnamon filling:

  • Grab a small bowl and mix together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.   Pour the sugary mix into a quart-sized ziplock bag and set it aside.  Tip:  I set mine upright so all of the filling ended up in a corner of the bag.

To make the topping:

  • In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat and add the cream cheese.  Whisk until almost smooth.  Dump powdered sugar into the pan, whisk and add in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside while you make the pancakes.  (You’ll heat it up later when you’re ready to eat the pancakes.

To make the pancake batter:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and lemon juice in a small cup to create a faux buttermilk.  Add the milk mixture, egg, and oil to the dry ingredients until the batter is moistened like normal pancake batter.  Small lumps are fine.

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To cook the pancakes:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-heat and run a small amount of butter over the surface.
  • Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or cup to spread the batter into a circle (about 4-inches in diameter).
  • Reduce the heat to medium low.
  • Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling.
  • Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (just as you see in a regular cinnamon roll). Make sure not to get too close to the edges, or it’ll fall into the pan!
  • Cook the pancake until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it’s golden brown on the bottom.
  • Slide a thin, wide metal spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over.
  • Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon.
  • Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling.

Before eating:

  • Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze.

ENJOY!

The recipe makes about 8 four inch pancakes, and the serving size is two pancakes.

Piggy Chicken

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What exactly happens when a food enthusiast’s favorite type of books are murder mysteries?  She reads Joanne Fluke’s “Hannah Swensen” series.  Each book details a gruesome murder, which the local cookie shop owner, Hannah Swensen,. always ends up involved in.  They’re splendid reads, and they all have multiple recipes tucked away inside.  I HIGHLY recommend the series.  Anyhoo, in one of the most recent books “Cinnamon Roll Murder,” there appears a recipe for Piggy Chicken.

Lets get started!

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  • 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbs. dried chopped chives
  • 1/3 cup dried minced onions
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. regular sliced bacon

Directions

  • Lay each chicken tender between two sheets of plastic wrap and place on a cutting board. (I took my normal chicken breasts and halved it, then cut the halves into thirds or fourths, depending on the size of the breast.)
  • Using a meat hammer, pound as flat as you can get them. (If you pound on the undersides they’re less likely to fall apart.) Stack and set aside.
  • Find a shallow pan (or two) that will hold the tenders with at least one inch between them on all sides. Spray pan with Pam.
  • Move one flattened tender to the cutting board, remove top sheet of plastic wrap.
  • Mix chives and onions into cream cheese.
  • Using a spatula or frosting knife, spread approx. 2 tsp. of cream cheese on the flattened chicken tender. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  • Roll up the chicken tender like a jelly roll; pick it up & move it to the bottom of the cutting board.

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  • Wrap one piece of bacon around the chicken roll, trying to angle it so as much of the chicken roll as possible is covered. Place in prepared pan with at least one end of the bacon under the chicken tender roll.
  • Repeat until all tenders have been rolled and covered with bacon.  (They don’t have to be completely covered, no worries.  I tore some of the bacon strips in halves so I had enough to cover all the chicken tenders I made.)
  • Put pans into 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, then turn oven up to 425 for an additional 5 minutes, or until bacon is crisp.

Tah-Dah!  Fairly simple recipe for a bacon-y, chicken-y appetizer.  It could also be a meal, if you ate enough of them.

Ranch Marinated Chicken

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Hello, all!  This might be the first recipe I ever made that wasn’t a baked good, back four years ago.  I figured it was time to share it, since the reaction I got from my family when I fed the completed chicken to them all those years ago has stuck with me, encouraging me to keep cooking.

Overall, this recipe is exceedingly easy to prepare a day ahead of time, just toss the marinating chicken in the fridge before you go to bed (or before you leave for work in the morning, if you’re me) and fry it up when you return.

Lets get started!

Ingredients

  • 5 chicken breasts
  • 12 ounce bottle of ranch dressing
  • 1/4th cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • A pinch of rock salt

Directions

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  • Make certain you have the required ingredients

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  • Place all ingredients in a gallon freezer bag and mix thoroughly.

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  • Split whole chicken breasts into halves and place into marinade in the bag.

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  • Make sure the marinade is coating the chicken halves completely.

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  • Let the chicken rest in the marinade in the fridge for at least four hours.  I’ve found it to be best done before twelve hours, but it was fine all the same.
  • If you’re at home, shift around the bag from time to time, just to make sure the marinade is still covering the chicken.

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  • Remove the marinated chicken from the bag.
  • Tip: You can wipe off some of the marinade after you take the chicken out of the bag so the chicken doesn’t become greasy while cooking. (It depends on personal taste.)  The picture above is how the chicken looked after squeegeeing some of the marinade off.

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  • After those hours are up, take each chicken slice and fry it in olive oil on about medium heat until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.

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  • It should look like the above picture when it is nearly done.

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Congratulations, you’ve made Ranch Marinated Chicken!  Pretty easy, huh?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Spicy Turkey Sausage Patties

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About two years ago, my aunt found out I loved to cook, so she bought me Barbara Kingsolver’s fantastic book, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” which chronicles Ms. Kingsolver’s life for a year while she grew and ate local-based food.  It is chock-full of recipes and wisdom regarding food and eating practices, I recommend it highly to anyone interested in agriculture, gardening, or food in general.  Here is her website regarding the book.  http://animalvegetablemiracle.com/

ANYHOO, this recipe came from her book.  It wasn’t my favorite recipe of all time, but it smelled amazing.

Lets get started!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds raw ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/8 cup (Or 2 tablespoons, depending on the measuring system you use) chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tablespoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (Or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (Or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Directions

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  • Grab all of your ingredients to prepare them.

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  • Chop whatever fresh ingredients you are using!  I have fresh oregano from my herb garden, so I used that.

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  • Add all of the seasonings and onions and toss until mixed well.

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  • Add ground turkey.  If the meat seems a bit dry, moisten it with a little bit of olive oil.
  • I made around nine patties.

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  • Fry on medium heat with a bit of olive oil in a frying pan.

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  • This is about what the completed patties should look like!

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  • An easy, complete meal with a simple salad and brown rice.

Enjoy!

Can’t Miss Margherita Pizza!

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Back in April, I took a trip to the wonderful Pizza Lola in Minneapolis with a foodie friend.  (Brilliant place, you should definitely check it out if you ever get the chance.)  We ordered a simple Margherita Pizza and fell in love with the medley of ingredients.  I just laugh, laugh, and laugh when people try to tell me that there isn’t any tastable difference when the produce comes from the supermarket versus when it comes from a local farm.

Now, for this recipe, I didn’t have any farm-fresh produce on hand, but I just HAD to attempt to recreate the magic Pizza Lola created.  This recipe isn’t a copy of what Pizza Lola made, but it is pretty dang good for a home-chef.

Lets get started!

Ingredients

DOUGH:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoon (1 package) instant dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot!)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups bread flour, or as needed
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few shakes of garlic powder (optional)
  • A few shakes of dried basil (optional)
  • A few shakes of oregano (optional)

TOPPINGS:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 5 medium-large plum (also known as Roma) tomatoes
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

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  • Add the water, yeast, sugar, and a 1/2 cup of the flour into a mixing bowl. Stir well and let sit for 20 minutes. It might get bubbly.
  • Add olive oil, salt, garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, and 2 cups of the flour, and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until it’s together enough to turn out on to a lightly floured work surface to knead.
  • Knead for about 10 minutes, while adding more flour a little at a time, to produce a soft, elastic and slightly sticky dough. Do not add too much flour, just enough to keep it from sticking to the work surface as you knead.

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  • Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Drizzle a few drops of oil and coat the top of dough to prevent the surface from becoming dry.
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

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  • Once the dough has risen for 2 hours, plop it onto a greased cookie sheet and squish or pat it into a 11 by 13 inch rectangle.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, after all, it’s just going into your mouth and stomach , where your eyes can’t see!
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and pop the pizza dough into the oven for 8 minutes.

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  •  While it is baking, take out those deliciously plump tomatoes and fresh basil.  Thinly slice the tomatoes, shred the basil, and halve the garlic clove.  I could probably have sliced the tomatoes thinner, but it worked out all the same.
  • Also, mix 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and whisk until combined.
  • Once that is all done, the 8 minutes should be up.  Remove the pizza from the oven and brush it with olive oil before rubbing it with the halved garlic cloves.  Mince the garlic cloves into tiny pieces after rubbing the crust with the halves and sprinkle over the crust.
  • Arrange tomato slices on crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; sprinkle evenly with cheese.

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  • Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is golden.

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  • Sprinkle pizza evenly with sliced basil, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the vinegar mixture evenly over the pizza.  Serve to your very impressed guests!