Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I had wanted to make these Irish Car Bomb cupcakes I found on pinterest in honor of St. Patty's Day. But I did not have Guinness or whiskey on hand and couldn't talk myself into spending that kind of money on booze just to make cupcakes. But I did have a bottle of Bailey's that my mom gave me. So, keeping the Irish Car Bomb recipe in mind, I came up with my own St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes. As it turned out, these are definitely the best cupcakes I have ever made. They might even be the best cupcakes I've ever eaten.

The cake alone is a triple chocolate treat. It's made from a dark chocolate cake mix, chocolate milk, and Bailey's Irish Cream. Then you have the bitter-sweet chocolate ganache filling, and finally the cupcake is topped with Bailey's buttercream frosting, which makes me think Bailey's should be added to all frosting--maybe all desserts.

1 dark chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1 cup chocolate milk

Ganache Filling:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoon butter

Bailey's Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of Bailey's Irish Cream
5 drops green food coloring, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the cake for the cupcake, combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide batter between 24 cupcake molds. Bake for 19 to 23 minutes or until the cupcakes are baked. Allow to cool completely. Using 1/2 tablespoon, scoop out the middles of the cupcakes.

Ganache Filling:
Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a minute then stir with a plastic spatula to combine. Stir in butter. Freeze until the mixture becomes thick but not hard, 10 to 15 minutes. Pipe or spoon the ganache into the cupcakes.

Bailey's Buttercream Frosting:
With a whisk attachment, whip the butter in a large bowl on medium-high speed for about five minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the the sugar 1/2 cup at time until all of it is completely combined. Add vanilla extract, food coloring, and Bailey's and whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes.

I actually made two versions of these cupcakes. One had the chocolate ganache filling and the other had a mint-chocolate ganache (added mint extract to the ganache). Eric loves mint and mint just seemed St. Patty Day-like. Eric loved these cupcakes. I personally thought the mint took something away from the chocolate taste and the amazing Bailey's buttercream frosting.



Friday, March 16, 2012

Turkey Burger with Avocado Sauce

I admit it, I have a love-hate relationship with Rachel Ray. I know some people absolutely adore her while others find her completely annoying. I'm usually intrigued by the recipes she comes up, but a lot of times I don't like how those same recipes actually turn out. But I have to say she nailed this turkey burger recipe. It has all the spices that I love, a generous helping of cheese (you all know how much we love cheese), and a ton of flavor.

1 1/3 pounds ground turkey
1/2 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, diced
1 rounded tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium-high heat.

Combine the ground turkey, onion, cheddar cheese, chili powder, ground cumin, serrano pepper, garlic, and pepper in a medium bowl and mix everything together with your hands. Separate meat into patties. Rachel Ray makes four patties, but I don't like my burgers that big so I made about seven patties.

Drizzle olive oil over the patties and place them in the hot skillet. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until the turkey is thoroughly cooked.

Rachel Ray made a cilantro cream to go with this burger. I used avocado sauce I previously made. It was incredible!



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sweet and Salty Chickpeas

Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are good for more than just making hummus.

While I was able to get Eric to eat zucchini bites (and like them), he stuck his nose up at these sweet and salty chickpeas--despite loving hummus. I, however, may have found a new favorite snack and cannot wait to begin experimenting with more flavors for these little peas/beans.

I found this recipes on The Cupcake Project.

1 14-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Spread the chickpeas out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Combine oil and seasoning in a bowl. Toss the chickpeas with the seasoning and serve hot. Store in an air-tight container.

I can't wait to try making these with cumin or cayenne pepper or garlic powder.



After making these multiple times and playing with different flavors, I have gotten rid of the olive oil since the seasoning sticks to the hot chickpeas pretty well without. My favorite flavor combination has become garlic powder, onion powder, and a little bit of salt. While I still can't get Eric to eat these, both my parents and his parents love them. They're kind of like snacking on a nutty popcorn. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pasta with Avocado Sauce

It is the middle of March and absolutely beautiful out. 75 degrees, blue skies, sunshine. The perfect day to try out this avocado sauce for a healthy and light lunch. I love avocado, but I had no idea it would make such a creamy, delicious sauce with just a few extra ingredients. And this recipe from the blog Two Peas & Their Pod required no alteration. (Except I did use garlic powder instead of garlic cloves because I was lazy and didn't feel like mincing garlic.)

6 ounces of pasta, (I used rotini)
1 large, ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced (I used about a teaspoon of garlic powder)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Place the avocado, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Toss with pasta and serve.

It's that quick and easy to make. If I had some on hand, I would have tossed some sun-dried tomatoes into the pasta too. Maybe next time I might dice up a tomato to go with it--because I will certainly make this dish again!



Monday, March 12, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I absolutely love buffalo chicken pizza. While it's good when ordered out, I have yet to find a good frozen version. So after looking through a few different buffalo chicken pizza recipes, I came up with my own. After picking off the red onions, even onion-hating, pizza traditionalist Eric liked it.

1 12-inch pizza crust
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (great way to get rid of leftovers!)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup red onions, sliced

Buffalo Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter, melted
5 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

White Sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons blue cheese dressing
1 1/2 tablespoons mayo
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of sugar
black pepper, to taste

To make the buffalo sauce, combine the butter, hot sauce, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar in a medium bowl. Toss with shredded chicken and set aside.

In another medium bowl, mix together the blue cheese dressing, mayo, garlic powder, sugar, and pepper to make the white sauce. Spread the white sauce over the top of the pizza crust, add the buffalo chicken, cheese, and finally the red onions.

Bake according to the pizza crust directions.