Saturday, September 3, 2016

Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcakes

I made these for a friend's birthday and used Ina Garten's recipe because she has never steered me wrong before. I love everything about these from the shredded coconut, to the cream cheese frosting, to the almond extract in the batter and the frosting.

-3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
-2 cups sugar
-5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
-1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
-3 cups flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-1 cup buttermilk
-14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:-1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
-3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
-1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Snickers Rice Krispie Bars

Snickers Rice Krispie Bars

-1/2 stick butter
-5 cups mini marshmallows
-5½ cups rice krispie cereal
-½ cup peanuts
-11 oz caramels (unwrapped) or caramel bits
-3 TBS heavy cream
-2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt butter over medium low heat in a large sauce pan. Add in marshmallows and stir together untill the marshmallows are completely melted. Pour in rice krispie cereal and stir together untill the cereal is completely coated. Pour cereal mixture into a greased 9x13 in pan and press down evenly.
Sprinkle peanuts evenly over the top of the rice krispie treats.
Combine caramels and heavy cream in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir until caramel is melted and smooth. Pour caramel evenly over the top of rice krispie treats.
Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments (for about 90 seconds total), stirring after each interval until smooth. Pour chocolate over the caramel layer and spread evenly.Let chocolate set completely, cut and serve.

Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad
For mine, I diced an avocado and stirred it into the salad just before serving, but my hubby doesn't like avocado so the salad isn't pictured with it.

-1/4 cup lime juice
-1/4 cup olive oil
-2 Tbsp sugar or honey
-2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-2 cups mango, diced
-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1/2 red bell pepper, diced
-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Whisk together lime zest and juice, olive oil, sugar/ honey, cumin, salt and cayenne. Toss with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or chill until serving.

Mango Curry Quinoa Salad

Mango Curry Quinoa Salad

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-4 Tbsp lemon juice
-4 Tbsp yogurt
-1 Tbsp sugar or honey
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-2 cups mango, diced
-1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
-3 scallions, sliced
-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, yogurt, sugar/ honey, salt, cayenne and garlic. Toss dressing with the remaining ingredients, serve immediately or chill until serving.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

These are one of our favorite desserts. The texture of the chocolate part is more cake-like than brownie-like, but the original recipe I started with calls them brownies, so I stuck with it. I always use light sour cream and cream cheese and they come out great, but go full fat if you prefer.

Brownie layer
-1 stick butter, melted
-3/4 c water
-1/4 c cocoa powder
-1/2 c sour cream
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 c sugar
-2 c flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt

Cheesecake layer
-8 oz cream cheese
-1 egg
-1/3 c sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1 c chocolate chips

Mix melted butter with water and cocoa powder. Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 c sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ones. Pour brownie mixture into the bottom of a greased 13x9 pan.

Mix cream cheese, egg, 1/3 c sugar and vanilla for cheesecake mixture. Drop spoonfulls of cheesecake mixture over the brownie mixture. Use a knife to swirl and marble the batters. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the entire pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature and enjoy.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Nutella Cookie Bars with Sea Salt

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Nutella Cookie Bars with Sea Salt

I got this recipe from Two Peas in a Pod and then made a couple changes to suit my taste. These were really yummy.

-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
-3/4 cup processed cocoa
-1 cup butter, at room temperature
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup light brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 cup chocolate chips
-1/2 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt, and cocoa. Set aside. With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Divide the dough in half. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan. Spread the Nutella over the dough. Top the Nutella evenly with the remaining cookie dough. It is ok if some of the Nutella peaks out, but try to cover it as much as possible. Sprinkle the cookie bars with sea salt. Bake cookies for 30 minutes, or until cookie bars are set around the edges, but still a little soft in the center. Don't overbake. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack. Cut into squares and serve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lemon Chicken Soup with Spinach

Lemon Chicken Soup with Spinach

This is a nice twist on the classic chicken noodle soup. The lemon brightens the flavors and adds an unexpected touch. I based this soup on the classic Greek lemon chicken soup, but then added spinach for extra nutrition. Any rice or pasta would work in this soup, but adjust your cooking times based on what you use (add a cup or two of extra water if you use brown rice). You could use white beans instead of the chicken and veggie broth in  place of the chicken broth for a vegan version of this soup. You could use a rotisserie chicken for this soup, or any leftover chicken that you have on hand. This recipe makes a large pot of soup,

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-3 carrots, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-8 cups chicken broth
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-2 tsp oregano
-1 tsp thyme
-1 tsp rosemary
-2 cups desired pasta or rice (I used whole wheat shells)
-3 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
-1/2 lb spinach, torn into bite sized pieces
-juice of 2 lemons

Heat olive oil in a soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and carrots, stirring and sauteing until softened (5-10 minutes). Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add broth, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Bring soup to a boil. Add pasta or rice, reduce heat to medium and simmer according to package directions. Add chicken and spinach., cook 5 additional minutes, stirring intermittently. Stir in lemon juice and serve.