Thursday, August 19, 2010

Snickers Cupcakes!

OK So I imagine you are all starting to wonder if I am ever going to bake again with all the dinners that have been posted here lately. Well to answer your question, yes YES I can and to prove it I made these Snickers Cupcakes! I was looking at All Things Cupcake and they did a post about Restless Chipotle who recently did a post about the top 50 cupcake flavors on the Internet! Well of course I was intrigued and I had to check some out. When I came across Snickers Cupcakes at number 5 I knew this was something that I had to try out it was calling my name! While checking out this site I also stumbled over here to My Baking Addiction and saw that there was her version as well! I opted to go with the My Baking Addiction Cake and the frosting from Homemade by Holman. I was very pleased with how these little cuppies turned out! The frosting is sweet but a nice compliment to the very moist and yummy cake! But the best part is the surprise that waits inside!

Snickers Cupcakes
Recipe from My Baking Addiction
For the cake:

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs; lightly beaten
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon of vanilla
24-30 frozen Snickers Miniatures

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line (2) 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, vanilla and water.
4. Evenly divide the batter amongst the prepared pans. {I use a large ice cream scooper it holds 3 tablespoons of batter}.
Here they are ready to have a lovely frozen treat buried inside like treasure!!
5. Gently push a frozen Snickers Miniature bar into the center of the batter and smooth the surface making sure to cover the candy bar with batter.
I love this photo! Hee Hee I love when something is hidden inside! It is like a little bonus like a free gift with purchase! Ohhh who doesn't love that? (If you don't I think you are crazy and should seek professional help!)
The deed is done! You can't even tell there is an amazing chocolate nougat surprise in there ready to be married to a gorgeous chocolate cupcake!
6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. ( Yes it will come out clean even though there is Snickers in the middle! I too doubted this and mine were done at 18 minutes)
7. Cool cupcakes thoroughly on wire rack.


by Homemade by Holman
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup caramel sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar
8 mini Snickers bar and Carmel sauce for garnish

Beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Add caramel sauce, heavy cream and vanilla and mix to incorporate. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating on low speed until incorporated to reach the right consistency. Increase speed to medium-high and whip about one minute until light and fluffy. Fill a piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes or frost as desired.

Garnish with chopped Snickers bars and a drizzle of caramel of caramel syrup.
Here they are naked just frosting!
And here with their snickers garnish
Ta Da!!
And here is a look at the center! This is what I am always curious to see. Sorry I had to use the flash I could not get the lighting to work with me at all!
And here is a little closer!

Ok so lets get real for a minute... these little suckers are pretty damn good. The frosting is a bit sweet and there were some that almost cringed at it but then kept hoarkig it down. When I asked for feedback and said "SO is the frosting too sweet?" The answer was always "NO. It is sweet but not too sweet it all goes together." I do think that these would be amazing with a Carmel Swiss meringue butter cream and next time I make them that is just what I will use! I think if you like snickers you will love these and they are fun and when someone asks you "what kind of cupcakes are those?" and you respond "snickers cupcakes!" with a proud grin you will see their eyes light up with curiosity!Then you could stalk them and watch them eat it without their knowledge to get what you think is a more real and honest opinion on the goods.... or maybe that is just what I do! LOL
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vegetables Napoleon


Nothing says summer time like fresh vegetables all bright and full of color and flavor! Some of my friends have been lucky enough to have amazing gardens (ahh hemm Haley!) and I am so jealous! The heat has killed nearly everything I planted even the flowers! You know it is bad when you leave the house at 7am for work and it is already 81 degrees! Well at least the grocery store has had some good produce even if my green thumb has sun burnt to a golden brown!

So I decided to make  nice light dinner of garlic mozzarella chicken baked potato and vegetables napoleon!
Making vegetables napoleon is very easy. I decided to make mine with a combination of eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and roasted red bell peppers. I think next time I am going to omit the eggplant and use portabello mushrooms instead!

Vegetables Napoleon
Egg Plat
Summer Squash
Red Bell Peppers (roasted)
Mozzarella cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

First thing you need is roasted red bell peppers. I used the method of roasting them on my gas stove top. You want to roast them until they are blackened. Move them to  a plate to cool.
while they cool place a towel over them so that they continue to roast and keep in all that flavor. Once they are cool to the touch you want to remove all the blacked parts and throw it away. You do not want to rinse them or you will lose all that sweetness that the pepper gets. Just peel it off with your finger tips and it will come off easily. Then slice them up removing the seeds and set to the side.

Now what you want to do is slice the vegetables up and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sat and pepper to taste (you can add any other seasonings that you prefer to bring out the flavor of the vegetables) drizzle some EVOO over the vegetables and until they are all coated with spices and the oil. If you use egg plant it can tend to be thirsty and soak up the oil so be sure the rest of vegetables are well coated and use a little extra if need be.

Take your seasoned veggies to the grill and grill for approx 3 to 4 minutes per side. Be sure to spray your grill with some cooking spray to ensure that they do not stick to the grill. What you want is the grill marks on the vegetables. It is ok if they are not all the way cooked as you will be finishing them in the oven. Once they are done remove them from the grill take out your mozzarella cheese and get your bell peppers. On a baking sheet you want to layer the vegetables. and in between some of the layers of eggplant, squash, zucchini and peppers place a little bit of cheese. Not too much but enough to bring it all together and add some flavor.

Once you have them all stacked and ready to go you can drizzle a little EVOO on top of them and bake at 350 for 5 to 10 minutes until your cheese is melty and slightly browned.

Plate and serve!

I definitely think these would be great with portabello mushrooms and I will definitely be making these again!
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Broccoli Gratin


OK people! So if any of you decided to try out the Croque Monsieur then you are probably wondering "dear lord what am I going to do with all this bechamel sauce?!" Well I am here to tell you exactly what I think you should do with it! You need to make this broccoli gratin! You will definitely be glad that you did!

Broccoli Gratin
2 cups bechamel sauce
1.5 lbs broccoli
8oz sharp cheddar cheese (the better quality the cheese the better the taste!)
Plain bread crumbs for dusting
Parmesan cheese (approx 1/2 cup, you are just using it to sprinkle on)

First things first, take your cheese out of the fridge an cut it into small cubes. You can grate it if you want but if you don't want to risk losing or knuckle or wasting all that time then cutting it into small cubes will work just as well! Once you get it all cut up nice and small set it off to the side! If it is room temp it will melt easier into your sauce. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 and start to boil some water on the stove. Once you get your broccoli all cut up so you only have the florets (just the tops.) Throw a little bit of salt in the water. Once the sauce comes to a boil throw in your broccoli and set your timer for 2.5 minutes 3 maximum. Trust me on this. You just want the broccoli to get a nice dark green. After three minutes pull it out of the water and drain well. In a sauce pan on the stove heat up your 2 cups of bechamel sauce (if you need the recipe click here) continuing to stir it so you do not burn it. Once your sauce is nice and hot put in the cheese that you cubed. Remove it from the heat and continue to stir until all the cheese melts into your sauce. Once the cheese is all melted into the sauce place your broccoli in a bowl and pour the sauce over the broccoli and coat it all. Once it is all coated pour it into a casserole dish. Dust the top with bread crumbs and then sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until it looks like this...
I had set out some venison steaks (deer meat that we have from the Hubby's fabulous hunting adventures last winter) and the plan was to have mashed potatoes and broccoli gratin, however, every potato I cut into was black in the middle! And I had just bought them! So I was already in the middle of dinner I decided to improvise with a box of broccoli rice! It turned out so yummy anyway!
It went wonderful with a nice Merlot!
How did I not notice that grain of rice on the steak ruining this shot! LOL Oh well! This is a great dish to make to use the rest of your bechamel sauce and a great change from just plain broccoli! MMM MMM good!!
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Croque Monsieur

Hello Hello!

Lately I have had a serious urge to try some new and exciting recipes... things that excite me and scare me a little. Going outside of my comfort zone and telling my self "you can do it!" pardon the water boy reference! So I decided to make Croque Monsieur, which also entails making Bechamel sauce! Now you might be asking yourself "What in the heck is Croque Monsieur?" Well I am going to tell you. Croque Monsieur is a French open-faced sandwich that is mostly served at bars or cafes as something quick. It is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. The name is based on the verb croquer (to crunch) and the word monsieur (mister) When you combine that you get a sandwich called "Mr. Crunchy" well any toasted open faced sandwich that gets a Mr. in front of the word Crunchy is definitely something that I want to try I don't know about you! I decided to make my version of this the more elaborate way by coating the bread in a béchamel sauce as I mentioned earlier. Now if you are asking yourself "What the heck is Béchamel sauce?" don't worry because I am going to tell you! Béchamel is a white sauce; milk thickened with butter and flour roux. This sauce is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine and is also used in many Italian dishes. It is also very easy to make which is always fabulous news!

I made the béchamel sauce first (this recipe that I have for the béchamel is large! I have another recipe, to be posted next, that called for the béchamel sauce so I made the whole batch at once and stored the extra in an airtight container in the fridge for a day before making the other. If you wish to cut this down you should get the same effect in a smaller quantity)

Now there are many ways to make this sauce and if you want a lot of options just google it! There is the most traditional way of an onion studded with cloves (that is how I will try it next time) but I opted for this simple recipe and it was wonderful.

Béchamel Sauce
1-quart whole milk
1/2-cup flour
1/2 cup or 1 stick sweet butter (unsalted butter)
Salt and pepper (You can use white or cayenne. White pepper would be more traditional)
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme (I had to omit this as there was none at my store and my sauce was still very good)

First you need to make the roux (pronounced row) Melt the butter on low when the foam disappears that is when it is time to add the flour. Whisk in the flour for 5 minutes until it is a blonde color and starts to bubble a little. This step is done to cook out the starchy taste of the flour and you can take this roux down to a deep brick color for some recipes but you want this to stay a blonde color. Once this has happened then add cold milk. I poured it in slowly while whisking. The key here is to make sure the milk is cold. Add in your spices and simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce will start to thicken. A little note I that once the sauce is at a simmer it will not get any thicker. You need to whisk to be sure that nothing on the bottom is burning but the simmer I really to cook in the flavors and thicken the sauce. The sauce is ready when it will coat the back of a spoon and hold a line. What it means to "hold a line" is that if you wipe your finger across the back of the spoon the line will stay so that you can still see the line it won't be runny and cover your line. I added about 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of ground sea salt, 1/16 teaspoon nutmeg (I would have liked to use fresh ground nutmeg, however, I could not find that anywhere so I used the ground kind I had in my spice rack) The way I understand it is that you don’t want this sauce too over powered with spices because it is the "base" of the recipes it is used in and then you build on that! You can add cheese to it while it is still warm and melt that in. I choose to leave mine without and add it later to each recipe since the two recipes that I was using the sauce for called for different cheeses.
Once I made the sauce I placed it in a container and cooled it in the fridge. A couple hours later when we were closer to being ready to eat I prepared the sandwiches.

Croque Monsieur
French Bread
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Smoked Ham (preferably black Forrest ham not to thinly sliced)
Cheeses (the traditional way is with a Gruyere but that was not available to me so I used Swiss you can use any melty cheese)
Parmesan Cheese
You will want to take your French bread loaf (preferably the nice round loaves however the long skinner versions will work as well your slices will just be slightly smaller) cut your slices of bread and place on a baking sheet. Try to keep them the same width so they will all cook in the same amount of time. Lightly coat the bread with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) by drizzling it from above. Once that is done flip the bread over on the sheet so that now the bread with the oil is on the bottom. This is to help make your bread crunchy underneath while it cooks. Brush the tops of your bread slices with your béchamel sauce that you made. Make sure you get the sauce all the way to the edges of the bread to ensure that it does not burn. If the bread is coated to the edges it will not burn. I then placed some smoke cheddar and Swiss combination cheese on top of the sauce. Then you just layer it. I put the Ham on next.
Photobucket (Ok so that is not entirely true! I forgot the ham and had to add it last because I just knew something looked off! Durr!! I swear!)
I then took tomato slices that I had salted and peppered and placed them on top of the ham. On a few I then put a few pieces of asparagus. Then you top it with some melty grated cheese like Fontina or Swiss. Grate just a tiny bit of fresh Parmesan over the top of the sandwiches. This gives another layer of flavor and you do not need much.
Photobucket (see! much better with the ham actually on the sandwhich)
Lightly drizzle the tops with some EVOO and place in the oven at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese I melted and browned and it looks like this! Photobucket Photobucket

Jason and I were so thrilled with the way this turned out! I served it with a light salad with some home made ranch dressing and a nice white wine. Photobucket As well as a nice glass of white wine! And this
is one of th best white wines I have ever had and it is usually 10 dollars or under! I also love Toasted Head Chardonay. Photobucket It was so simple yet had the taste of something so sophisticated. It was a pleasure to make and to eat! This is going to be a family staple I am sure! You should defenitly try this out. You can top it with anything! Or just do it simple and tradition cheese and ham.
Bon appetite!!
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicken Florentine

One of my best friends Brenda sent me a picture text message the other day of her boyfriend Ian making dinner for her after a long day at work!! When I asked what it was that he was making she said "Chicken Florentine!" And then she added in the best part "and it is low calorie!" Wait what? For a second I thought about replying with "ohhh, well enjoy your cardboard dinner then!" because lets face it we have all tried the low calorie and low fat versions of rich and yummy good recipes because we are drawn in by the lure of "low calories" and "healthy" but you are almost always left a bit disappointed and wondering if you should have just done it the original and yummy way and just spent a couple extra hours in the gym that day! Well I opted to save my pessimism for myself and said "great let me know how it turns out!" Well Brenda just raved about it so I decided I had to try this for myself! OH MY GOSH!!! This chicken was so good SO GOOD! Thank goodness I did not have a insert foot in mouth moment by responding with my first thoughts! (Sorry Bren but it was my initial thoughts!) I think this is a recipe that everyone should keep! It is so easy so delicious and definitely worth it! I decided to serve my chicken on top of some Vermicelli noodles and also made some steamed asparagus to go with it!
I got the copy of the recipe emailed to me but we are trying to find the origin of what book it came out of so I know who to properly credit. Until then here is the recipe...

Chicken Florentine
serves 4
4 teaspoons Canola Oil
Two 6 ounce bags of baby spinach (about 12 cups)
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (trimmed)
salt and pepper
1 shallot minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 Garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon unbleached AP flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Heat broiler and move the rack 5 inches from the heating element

1. Heat two teaspoons of the oil in a 12 in skillet over medium heat until simmering. Add the spinach, one handful at a time, stirring often. Cook until wilted, abut 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander. Place the colander over a bowl or large measuring cup and press the spinach with a spatula until all the liquid is expelled. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.

Here is my chicken getting ready to go in the skillet

2. Season the chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium high heat until smoking. Carefully lay the chicken in the skillet and cook them for 4 to 6 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a plate and lightly tent with foil.

3.  Add the shallot and the garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the broth and water scrapping up any browned bits.

Here is everything cooking away!

4. Return the chicken breasts along with any accumulated juice to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low and cook until the thickest part of the chicken breasts reach 160 to 165 with a meat thermometer (about 10 to 15 minutes.) Flipping the breasts half way through. Remove chicken and place it on a plate and lightly tent with foil once again.

5. Simmer the sauce for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream and lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This is what I did as I waited for the simmering to happen!

6. Cut the chicken breast cross ways into 1/2 inch thick pieces and arrange in broiler safe 2 quart casserole dish. Scatter the spinach evenly over the chicken and pour the sauce on top of the chicken and spinach. Sprinkle with the cheese on top and broil for about 5 minutes until golden brown and serve.

The timer went off and here it was! In the oven! Just beautiful!

Plate and serve!

340 calories per serving 11 grams of fat; 3 grams of sat fat; 15 carbs; 44grams of protein;4 fiber; 670 sodium mg

I can't say it enough you must try this recipe.... you know you need a new dinner idea to try and this is going to be it! Once you do it you will thank me!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beer Cake!!

Hello Hello!!

Last week I had a cake order for a birthday. They told me that they wanted a cake that looked like beer and that the birthday boy had a favorite type of beer and that was "Natural Light" I decided to make a chocolate cake filled with Dulce De Leche and frosted with a vanilla butter cream. Had I not had to tint the icing and make it look like a beer I would have used a chocolate frosting but I think the butter cream complimented the cake very nicely as well! Jason was eating all the pieces that I had trimmed off and claimed that it was amazingly good! I plan on making it in cupcake form with a ganache frosting in the weeks to come!!

I used the chocolate cake recipe off the back of the Hershey's coca can! I just made a few changes! I used buttermilk instead of milk and I used strong hot coffee for the boiling water! It got rave reviews from the party goers as well!



Please pardon the horrible photos but the day before I had to have this cake done the air conditioning went out in our house! For those of you who do not know Southern Oklahoma has had some lovely hot and humid weather!! I was literally taking it out of the fridge for 10 minutes at a time so it would stop melting as the repair guys were in the attic with my husband trying to fix our AC problem! SOOOO that is why the pictures are not at the best angle. This cake was also huge! It was three 11x15 cakes stacked on top of each other!! I know my decorating skills are still amateur but I have to say I am pretty proud of this creation!
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