Friday, October 23, 2009

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Fluffy Cinnamon Vanilla Frosting

As promised, ANOTHER Martha Stewart recipe! I actually made these a week or so ago and have just now gotten around to telling you about them. I made these for my friend Shaunda. Her birthday was at the beginning of October, but I didn't actually get the chance to bake something for her on her actual birthday because I was out of town.

Of course I turned to my trusty Martha Stewart Cupcake Cookbook for a recipe! I had marked her Snickerdoodle Cupcakes to make in the fall and thought Shaunda's birthday was the prefect opportunity to try it out!

...Maybe not so much...

I must tell all of you that Martha calls for these cupcakes to be frosted with her famous Seven-Minute Frosting. I DID have great intentions of making the frosting, but for whatever reason it just would not come together. I got very frustrated and I finally had to give up on the Seven-Minute Frosting and turn to something else. I was running out of patience and ingredients! lol So I instead decided on her Fluffy Vanilla Frosting, but made a couple changes to it so that it would complement the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes. All in all, I think the cupcakes turned out great, however, I really was hoping to have success with the Seven-Minute Frosting. I think the cupcakes would have looked a lot prettier and probably not been as sweet (don't get me wrong they were delicious, just probably would have been better with the other frosting). Until next time Seven-Minute Frosting ... get ready cause I AM gonna master you! ;o)

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Fluffy Cinnamon Vanilla Frosting
(recipe from Martha Stewart Cupcakes, also found here)
For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

For the frosting: (below are with my changes, check here for the original version)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon

With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

Add vanilla and cinnamon, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
**I also dusted the tops of my cupcakes with addition cinnamon (NOT CINNAMON SUGAR-that would make it too sweet).**

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

A co-worker of mine had a birthday coming up and I had already planned to make her something special...I just didn't know what. Part of me wanted to make a cake, but the other part of me wanted to have another excuse to make another recipe out of Martha Stewart's Cupcake Cookbook! (Stay tuned I have another one coming that is just as good!)

I flipped through the pages of the cookbook trying to pick something I thought would suite her taste buds. I finally decided on Martha's Applesauce Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. Whew...that's a mouthful! I wanted to make something that fit the fall season (hence the Halloween liners!), but I didn't know if she would like the flavors. It turns out it happens to be one of her favorites, lucky me!
These cupcakes we incredible! I can't even begin to tell you how moist they were. Applesauce always seems to make such a big difference (and it's better for you). The flavor was so good and the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting complimented it so well. I omitted the nuts from the recipe, just because some people don't care for them, but you certainly could leave them in. I actually think I wouldn't have enjoyed these as much with them. These cupcakes really were amazing! Another BIG Martha success! :o) If you are looking to make a treat for this fall season and want something that's not pumpkin, give these a try. They will be a crowd pleaser!

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe from Martha Stewart Cupcakes...also found here)
For Applesauce Spice Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups store-bought applesauce
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped (optional - I omitted)

For Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin and a 6-cup tin with paper liners. **While the original recipe says it makes 18 cupcakes, I was able to get 22 out of the recipe. I used my large Pampered Chef scoop to dish out the batter evenly. I think 18 would have made HUGE cupcakes.**
Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Put 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, the granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs, one at a time. On low speed, mix in applesauce and then flour mixture. Stir in nuts, if using, by hand.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in tins on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in the clean bowl of electric mixer make frosting. Mix cream cheese with remaining 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter and 1 cup brown sugar on medium speed until smooth. Spread cream-cheese frosting on muffins. Muffins can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bruschetta with Fresh Garden Tomatoes and Basil

Yes, I know, it's a little late in the season to be posting this...
But really I am still getting wonderful tomatoes and my basil plant is just so big sitting out in my garden that I couldn't resist a Sunday afternoon appetizer of tasty Bruschetta!
The hubs and I love Bruschetta. I knew that I had to make it one more time before I was all out of my garden tomatoes. It is so simple but a very elegant tasting dish. I made it on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy while watching football! Not your typical football snack, but it sure is delicious!
Bruschetta with Fresh Garden Tomatoes and Basil
(from the kitchen of Liesl)
about 5 medium sized tomatoes
2 - 3 cloves of minced garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
about 2 Tablespoons olive oil
about 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
2 fresh basil leaves (cut chiffonade style)
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 French Baguette
Olive Oil to brush on bread
Garlic salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If Baguette is not pre-sliced, slice at an angle with a sharp bread knife, making slices about an inch thick. Place slices on a baking sheet. Combine olive oil with a couple dash of garlic salt and brush mixture onto the topside of the bread. Toast for about 7 minutes or until bread is nice and toasty.
While bread is cooking, in a medium sized bowl combine garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Using a whisk, stir to combine. Add basil.
As far as the tomatoes go, I know some people do versions of Bruschetta with the tomatoes being peeled. I don't mind my skin on. You do want to seed the tomatoes and cut into small bite sized chunks. Once all the tomatoes are cut, add to the olive oil mixture and stir to coat the tomatoes.
Then all you do is place a spoonful on the topside of the each bread slice (the one you coated with the olive oil garlic salt mixture). Top with extra fresh cracked pepper if desired.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inside Out Buffalo Wings

This recipe (from A Dash of Sass) popped up in my Google Reader last week and I was so excited that I went straight home from work and made it for dinner that night! The hubs and I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything Buffalo style...especially wings! I was immediately intrigued by this recipe because it seemed like it would satisfy my want for wings, but yet it wasn't as unhealthy as the greasy fried ones.

This meal was so delicious and easy to prepare! I served it wish a small salad with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing and franks buffalo wing sauce. It was a perfect side to the chicken. I will definitely be keeping this meal in a regular rotation! I couldn't believe how tasty it was. The chicken was so moist and full of that buffalo flavor we love so much!

Inside Out Buffalo Wings
1 pound thin chicken cutlets
4-5 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (I used low-fat)
4-6 tablespoons Frank's Buffalo wing sauce (the original recipe says hot sauce, but I wanted to use wing sauce)
salt and pepper
**see note**
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place one chicken cutlet between two sheets of wax paper. Using a meat tenderizer or a heavy saucepan, carefully pound the meat until it is approximately 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Be careful not to tear the chicken. Repeat with each cutlet.
Season each side of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper.
Place approximately 1 tablespoon of crumbled blue cheese on the wide end of each chicken cutlet. Roll the cutlets around the blue cheese crumbles. Secure each roll with a toothpick.
Place the rolled cutlets in a baking dish. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the cutlets with hot sauce. Roll the cutlets around so that they are completely covered with hot sauce.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Carefully remove toothpicks. Serve warm with crunchy celery. Feel free to drizzle more hot sauce over the rolls before serving.
**These are the exact measurements from the original recipe, however, I didn't measure a thing. I say just use what looks good and based on your tastes. If you want more or less sauce, go for it. Same goes with the blue cheese.**

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reese Bars

Readers meet Heggy (my adorable Toy Schnauzer), Heggy meet my wonderful Readers!

A little over a year ago, the hubs and I decided to finally get a dog. I was so excited. I had been literally begging the hubs ever since we got married. So last May, Heggy found her way into our loving home. It has been an enjoyable ride. She truly has changed us and I couldn't imagine her not being a part of our family.

Unfortunately, Heggy has been sick for a long time. Most doctors that have seen her have said she just has bad allergies. She's had everything from itchy skin to ear infections to unusual bathroom habits. We have switched her food several times, but finally decided to put her on Orijen dog food (the fish and potato recipe) and that seemed to make a big difference. On top her symptoms going away, she's now one of the softest things I have ever felt!! I have read lots of reviews and gotten several recommendations for the Orijen dog food. So far so good. Heggy seems to love the food. But sadly, last week our little Hegster started acting funny again. She started drinking a lot of water, developed a really sour odor, seemed to have lost her "spunk" and then on Wednesday the hubs came home to find her right eye matted shut.

We were able to clean her eye up up enough to open it, but I decided that I for sure needed to take her back to the vet. So Thursday of last week, off she went to the vet AGAIN. They kept her all day and ran several tests. So to make a long story longer :o) they discovered that she still has a minor ear infection but they were more concerned about her eye. They recommended that we take her to a specialist.

So Friday, Miss Heggy went to see the specialist. They concluded that she has developed a cataract in her right eye. She apparently was also born without the ability to produce tears. (she will have to be on lifelong meds for this) She also has a "fatty deposit" on her eye, which has caused some inflammation. They are recommending cataract surgery, but we aren't sure what to do yet. It's a lot to take in and A LOT of money :o( She is currently on 5 medications (that are unbelievably expensive). She seems to be doing a lot better. She had stopped eating for a couple of days which really had us worried, but yesterday she finally ate all on her own. She has been such a cuddle buddy with her mommy all weekend. It breaks my heart when I look down and see her looking up at me with a sad face (and a cloudy eye). She stayed by my side all weekend though, and even if I got up she would get up and follow me wherever I went. I held her every chance I got! I think having a pet really prepares you for kids....not that I am anywhere near ready for any of those!!! :o)

Heggy has to have a surgery on Oct. 12, where they will do an ultrasound of her eye and also another test to look at her retina to determine if it is even healthy. For now, we are hoping that this "fatty deposit" will go away and not be the start of something worse. I never knew I could love an animal so much! So, we just take it one day at a time now. And in the meantime, I made these Reese Bars in honor of my chocolate (totally sweet) schnauzer! So go fill your bellies with these delicious treats, and send some prayers up to doggie heaven for our little one.

Since I already talked your ear off, I am not going to go on and on about these bars. But I am going to tell you that they are delicious and so easy to make!
If you like Reese Cups, then these are going to be your new best friend!
Reese Bars
(from the kitchen of Liesl)

2 cups of crushed graham crackers
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup melted butter
1 cup peanut butter

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
5 tablespoons peanut butter
Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Crush graham crackers in a food processor and measure out two cups into a medium size bowl. Add powdered sugar. Melt butter in microwave and pour over crushed graham crackers and powdered sugar. Add peanut butter and stir mixture to combine. (do not use a mixer for this) Press graham cracker mixture evenly into greased baking dish.

For the topping: In a microwave safe dish, heat milk chocolate chips with peanut butter until melted. Carefully not to over cook it. Stir to combine the peanut and chocolate. Carefully spread over the graham cracker mixture.

Chill for several hour or overnight. Cut into bars, I think I got 15 nice sized bars out of it. (You can also use cookie cutters to make shapes, I wished I had halloween ones small enough, those would be really cute!)