Monthly Archives: February 2013

So sweet, I think

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So I recently found I have a grand love for portrait photography.  Mostly thanks to Santa and the Canon T3i he so graciously brought me 🙂  I took this picture of my daughter a couple weekends ago, and I love the way it turned out.  Best tidbit – that sweet looking face is intently focused on the scorpion Daddy is showing her off camera.  Can’t scare this kid!

 

kid portrait photography

 

Mmmm….soft pretzels….

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Who on this planet doesn’t love a good soft pretzel?  Especially a home-made one, fresh out of the oven?!? Now I’m hungry…but I’ll press on.  I made these Rosemary Sea Salt Pretzels a few months ago, and they were A-mazing.  So I thought I’d share the recipe.  Did I mention they also include the recipe for an awesome rosemary cheese sauce?  Oh yeah, no joke.

rosemary sea salt pretzel

And then today, I came across these and I just had to pass it along – Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels.  Sweet meets pretzel = my heaven!   Guess I know what I’m baking this weekend…

Rosemary Roasted Chicken

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This was my first official whole roasted chicken ever!  I’ve cooked a turkey once, maybe twice in my life, but that’s about it.  And truthfully, I’m sold.  Home-cooked chicken breasts are always so dry and tasteless it seems.  This chicken was perfectly juicy and moist (and we had enough left over to make an awesome Thai coconut soup the next day!)  I took some liberties with this recipe though.  For one, no one in my house will eat a tomato – roasted or not.  So, I omitted those and chose to stuff the chicken with lemon wedges instead.  And I changed my cooking time/temperature based on good friend’s suggestion – so glad I did.

y Lemon Roasted Chicken

The Recipe:

1 (5.5-6 lb whole roasting chicken), giblets removed

1 tablespoon salt (sounds like a lot, but it really needs to soak into all the meat)

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped – plus whole sprigs for the cavity

1 lemon, cut into wedges

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

The Process:

*Pre-heat oven to 425 F

1.  Remove chicken from packaging and remove giblets.  Rinse under cold water and pat dry.

2.  Stuff cavity with lemon wedges and several rosemary sprigs.

3.  Blend butter, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Rub compound butter onto (and under) chicken skin.

4.  Tie legs together (don’t make my silly mistake first and not but the breast side up before doing this!) with kitchen string and tuck wings under.

5.  Place chicken in roasting pan.

6.  Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes at 425 F.   Breast should reach an internal temperature of 165 F.

 

Any one else have some good tips for a newbie chicken roaster like myself?

Tiramisu Cupcakes

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Recipe adapted from here

Like I said, I made these for my husband’s birthday last month and they were a huge hit.  I personally wasn’t a fan of the cake (too dense I felt), so here’s my adaptation using the cake from the Beehive Lemon Cupcakes.

Great for breakfast too – I mean, they do have coffee… 😉

Tiramisu cupcake

The Recipe (makes 24 cupcakes):

2-1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

1-1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Zest of a lemon

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I added closer to 1 cup)

Coffee syrup (recipe follows)

Mascarpone/Ricotta Frosting (recipe follows)

The Process:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F (I’ve found with my picky oven that I do better with 350 F)

2.  Put paper cupcake liners into muffin cups.

3.  Place flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and nutmeg in a bowl and mix together.

4.  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium-high speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes). Scrape sides as necessary.

5.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until thoroughly incorporated.  Add in vanilla and lemon zest.

6.  Add half the flour mixture and mix until blended.  Add half the milk.  Mix in the remaining flour mixture and then the remaining milk.

7.  Add the chocolate chips and mix at the lowest speed (I honestly prefer to mix things like this in by hand so I don’t over-mix my batter)

8.  Using a small ladle or scoop, spoon the batter evenly into the paper lined muffin cups.

9.  Bake for about 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown (I found with these cakes, that 13 minutes was perfect, so I say experiment with your oven)

10.  Remove cupcakes from tin and place on cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely.

11.  Using a fork, poke several holes in the tops of the cooled cakes.  Spoon over about 1-2 tablespoons of the Coffee Syrup on the top of each cupcake.  Pipe on Mascarpone Frosting and garnish with either cocoa powder and/or extra mini-chocolate chips.

Coffee Syrup

1 cup strongly brewed coffee
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Add powdered sugar to coffee, mix to dissolve.  Cool to room temperature.

Mascarpone-Ricotta Frosting

1 cup heavy cream
Mascarpone cheese, 8 oz. container
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese, strained slightly
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk

Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  In a separate bowl, whip the cheeses, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until thoroughly incorporated.  Gently fold in whipped heavy cream.  Pipe frosting onto cupcakes with star tip.  Dust with cocoa powder and extra mini chocolate chips.

Beehive Lemon-Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Beehive Lemon-Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ll admit it – cupcakes and I have a love-hate relationship.  Or maybe it’s my oven and cupcakes have a love-hate relationship.  Either way, it’s taken me forever to get the proper time to temperature ratio.  But, by George, I think I’ve got it!  I loved the brightness of the lemon (if that’s even a culinary expression, if not – I call dibbs!) paired with the bitterness of the semi-sweet chocolate in these cupcakes.  And the icing was light and not overly sweet – the perfect combination in my opinion!

I have an awesome recipe for Tiramisu cupcakes that I made for my husband’s birthday last month, and honestly I wish I had used this recipe for the cake – would have been the perfect pairing.  I’ll post that next 🙂

Beehive Lemon Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

The Recipe (makes 24 cupcakes):

2-1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (the original recipe calls for cloves, but that sounded way to harsh of a flavor in my opinion)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

1-1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla (my addition, because what’s a cupcake without vanilla!)

Zest of a lemon (my addition as well, but I felt like I needed to incorporate some of the lemon flavor from the frosting)

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I added closer to 1 cup)

Beehive frosting

Chocolate sprinkles for garnish

The Process:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F (I’ve found with my picky oven that I do better with 350 F)

2.  Put paper cupcake liners into muffin cups.

3.  Place flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and nutmeg in a bowl and mix together.

4.  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium-high speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes). Scrape sides as necessary.

5.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until thoroughly incorporated.  Add in vanilla and lemon zest.

6.  Add half the flour mixture and mix until blended.  Add half the milk.  Mix in the remaining flour mixture and then the remaining milk.

7.  Add the chocolate chips and mix at the lowest speed (I honestly prefer to mix things like this in by hand so I don’t over-mix my batter)

8.  Using a small ladle or scoop, spoon the batter evenly into the paper lined muffin cups.

9.  Bake for about 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown (I found with these cakes, that 13 minutes was perfect, so I say experiment!)

10.  Remove cupcakes from tin and place on cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Beehive Frosting

The Recipe:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (about 6 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla (my addition again…I have a thing for vanilla apparently…)

2 tablespoons milk

2 drops yellow food coloring (I ended up using 4)

The Process:

1.  Cream the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and cream cheese in your mixing bowl at medium speed.

2.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla, and beat for 1 minute, cleaning sides as needed.

3.  Add the milk and the yellow food coloring and beat until completely blended, about 1 minute more.

I ended up using a star piping tip to make my “beehives”, simply trying to mound up the frosting (as they recommended), didn’t seem to look right.

Hope you enjoy!

Valentine’s Gingerbread Heart Cookies

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Valentine’s Gingerbread Heart Cookies

It’s almost Valentine’s folks – time to break out the sappy cards, red roses, and mind-numbing amounts of chocolate.  Why not add some cookies to the mix this year? This “beary” good gingerbread recipe turned out much better than I anticipated!

Valentine's heart gingerbread cookie

The Recipe: (Yield depends on size of cookie cutter)

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup shortening

1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons molasses

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk (I added it, totally optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla (cause what’s a cookie without vanilla?!?)

White icing (recipe follows)

Optional:

Sprinkles, etc.

Prepared red icing/gel

The Process:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.  Mix 4 1/2 cups of the flour, baking powder, and ground ginger together in a bowl.

3.  Place shortening and brown sugar in the bowl of your mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Scrape sides of bowl as necessary.  Add in molasses and beat until blended (Pro-move: spray measuring spoon with cooking spray or wipe with oil to help the molasses slide out easily).

4.  Beat in eggs at medium-low speed until incorporated.

5.  Add half the flour mixture and mix at low speed (unless you want to look like you’ve been playing in the snow…or worse…) until incorporated. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix again.  At this point, I found my dough was entirely too crumbly, so I added about 1/4 cup milk – you do what you suits you though.

6.  Using some of the remaining flour, sprinkle your clean work surface.  Place dough on surface and shape dough into a half circle, flour the top.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until about 1/4″ thick.

7.  Line the cooking sheet with wax paper or a silpat.  Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter (I used hearts, it is Valentine’s of course) and place them on the cookie sheet. Shape and roll out remaining dough and repeat.

8.  Bake in preheated oven for 11-15 minutes.  Remove when edges are slightly browned (oven mitts people!).  Let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

9.  Decorate, Decorate, Decorate!  If you’re like me and have a toddler, time to put the little stinker to work 🙂

White Icing (basic Royal icing recipe):

1 egg (white only)

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/8 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla (my addition, but made the flavor much better)

The Process:

1.  Separate the white from the yolk, discard the yolk (or use in another recipe).

2.  Using a mixer, beat egg white until white and frothy.  Beat in sugar a little at a time.  Icing will get thicker right away, but will appear smooth.

3.  Add the lemon juice (TIL that the lemon juice is what helps the icing to harden on the cookie!) and beat again for about 4 minutes.  Cover the bowl with a wet kitchen towel or paper towel so the icing doesn’t dry out.

Enjoy!  Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂