Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Happy Birthday Max! For the past few weeks, every time I bumped into my buddy Max in the hallway at school, he batted his eyelashes at me and reminded me that his birthday was coming up soon. Well, his birthday was yesterday, and I didn't forget about him. I thought that these Rocky Road cupcakes sounded like the ultimate man-pleaser, so I made them today for Max. I used my favorite chocolate cake mix for the base, and topped it with this great, fudgy frosting. I'm still licking my fingers, it's so gooey!

Rocky Road Frosting:

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup mini marshmallows
½ cup chocolate covered or plain almonds, coarsely chopped (I used chocolate covered ones)
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Put the chocolate, butter, condensed milk, and salt in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touch­ing, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate and butter have melted and the frosting is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water and stir in the vanilla.

Scrape the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until the frosting thickens further and cools to lukewarm (so it won’t melt the marshmallows), about 3 minutes. When thickened, the beaters should form lines in the frosting. Fold in marshmallows, almonds, and chocolate chips. Allow the frosting to thicken until it’s a spreadable consistency that won’t run down the sides of the cupcakes. (Just play around with it, you’ll know when it’s ready.) Let the cup­cakes sit uncovered until the frosting firms up, about 1 hour.

Source: howtoeatacupcake

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

This weeks Barefoot Bloggers post, chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry, seemed like it was chosen especially for me. My hubby loves both goat cheese and tomatoes, and I have been meaning to use my mini tart pans that I got as a wedding gift for a long time now. The original recipe called for using puff pastry, but since I wanted to use my tart pans I made a homemade tart shell. They turned out really great, I will definitely make these again, maybe switching up the ingredients.

Savory Tart Shell
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small slices
3 to 4 tablespoons ice cold water

Mix together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture forms pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over the flour mixture and toss with fork until moistened. Repeat with the remaining water, one tablespoon at a time and gather the dough into a ball with your hand. Do not handle the dough too long. Wrap into a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will allow the dough to relax and make it easier to roll, keeping it from becoming tough. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface, applying pressure from the center to the edges until it is about 12 inches in diameter. Cut out six 4 inch circles onto the dough and press them into the tart pans (or one 9 inch pan if making a larger tart). Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Adapted From: Tartelette


Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.

Adapted from: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Soft Garlic Knots

I read a lot of blogs. At last count my Google Reader followed 89 different blogs. I could never keep up with this many different blogs without my Google Reader. If you read more than one blog, you should try it. You'll never go back. One of the best things about it is that you can "star" posts that you want to save for later. I use this mainly for recipes that I think look good when I read them for the first time. When I am making dinner, and have no idea what I want to make, I'll sift through my starred recipes and pick a few to try. So today I went back and found this beautiful recipe from Annie's Eats, a blog from a Medical Student/Mom from IU. I always trust a recipe if Annie says that she liked it. These rolls were wonderful, light, and so easy! I'm not that experienced using yeast, but I wasn't intimidated by these at all.


For the dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup + 2 tbsp. lukewarm water

For the glaze:
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. melted butter
½ tsp. Italian seasoning


To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, milk and water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10 inch long rope and tie into a knot. Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center. Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center. Transfer shaped rolls to a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.

To make the glaze, finely mince the garlic or press it through a garlic press. Mix with the melted butter and Italian seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.

Source: Annie's Eats

Brownie Pudding

This is the first month that I have has it all together enough to be able to make a bonus recipe for Barefoot Bloggers. Each month, two mandatory recipes are chosen, along with a bonus recipe for those of us who want to join in for more fun. When I saw that Tia from Southern, Eh? had chosen this brownie pudding as this month's bonus recipe, I knew that I had to make it. If you've noticed that I haven't posted much this week (admit, it... you've missed me, haven't you?), it's because I'm on Spring Break! I'm staying with my in-laws this week, and I left my camera at home (insert *gasp* here). I made dinner for them tonight, along with Phillip's cousin Jeremy and his lovely wife Melanie (they are becoming frequent guest stars on my blog), so I thought that this would be the perfect dessert.


1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional (I didn't use this)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Swedish Meatballs

When my family gets ready to head down to Mexico (which we've done for the past few years around New Year's), we aren't looking forward to the beaches or the waves. For weeks before we go, we talk about one thing. The Food. We all have our favorite spots, but a favorite among all of us is Babe's Noodles & Bar. Our trip is not complete without making a stop there for eclectic favorites including Thai Noodles, Crab Spring Rolls with Peach Sauce, Grilled Dorado,and my personal favorite, Swedish Meatballs. Swedish Meatballs? At a noodle bar? In Mexico? Yeah, I was skeptical at first, too. The owners of Babe's, while an integral part of the scene in Playa del Carmen these days, are originally from Sweden, so Swedish Meatballs are a natural choice to add to their menu. The last time we were there, I set myself on a mission: Recreate those meatballs when I got home so that I wouldn't have to wait another year to taste their fabulousness again.

When I am trying to find a specific recipe,and I have no idea how to start, I always pull out my copy of Joy of Cooking, it never disappoints. This time was no exception. While these may not be exactly the same as Babe's, they definitely fix my craving, and I am already wanting them again. I served them on top of mashed potatoes, and topped them with lingonberry sauce (found at Mejier).


1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. onions, finely minced
3/4 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. ground beef
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups beef stock


Melt butter in a small, heavy-bottomed pan and cook the onions until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the bread crumbs and water. Let stand 2 minutes. To the bread and water, add the remaining ingredients and the reserved onions. Beat on low speed until smooth. Turn the mixer to high and beat until the mixture becomes light in color and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Use two spoons dipped in water to shape the meat into 1" balls.

Heat the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Cook the meatballs in batches of 15 -20, making sure to brown them evenly on all sides. Remove the browned meatballs and drain them briefly on a plate lined with paper towels.

After all the meatballs have been cooked, add the flour to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Slowly add the beef stock. Cook while whisking until the gravy is thick and smooth.

Strain the gravy if desired. Pour the gravy over the meatballs and serve hot.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chicken Piccata

This week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe was chosen by Lindsey of Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings. This was a great weeknight meal that would be wonderful for entertaining. The lemon sauce was very lemon-y and fresh, it was a great recipe for the warm spring evening we had earlier this week. The only change that I made was that I used chicken tenderloins instead of full breasts, because that is what we already had in the freezer. I can't wait to make this again, the only thing I would do differently is to make a little more sauce, because it was so good over the pasta that we had on the side.


2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used chicken tenderloins)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Source: Ina Garten: Barefoot Contessa at Home, page 96-97

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jaeda's Birthday Cake

A few months ago, I posted Harp's Birthday Cake. Well, today I helped throw his big sister Jaeda's birthday party. It was an all-out pirate theme, complete with a pirate ship birthday cake! It turned out really nice, and it was a hit with the kids.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Alfredo Sauce

This alfredo sauce is one of the first recipes that I mastered when I started cooking as a teenager, and is now a staple in our family. However, because of its richness it is a special treat, and one that Phillip was very excited to have tonight. It can be served classically over fettuchini, but tonight Phillip & I had it over our favorite new convenience food, lobster ravioli from Sam's Club. I have actually never measured for this recipe before tonight, I just normally taste it until it tastes right. Feel free to add or subtract parmesan cheese to your liking.


1 half pint heavy cream (also known as whipping cream)
1 stick butter
6 tablespoons parmesan cheese **


Add butter and cream to a saute pan. Whisk over medium-high heat until the butter melts and the mixture starts to bubble. Sprinkle in parmesan cheese, just a little at a time (whisk until each addition melts in). Simmer for 3-4 more minutes, whisking constantly. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

** I use kraft parmesan cheese. Yes, the powdery kind in the green container. In all other respects of my life, I am a parmesan cheese snob. I have tried this recipe with fancy imported parmesan cheese, and it just didn't taste right. Feel free to try it either way and see what you think.


Thanks for the great response to my giveaway!

To select the winner, I used's random number generator. I deleted the multiple posts and the winner is....

#26: Shauna

Shauna - please email me at to claim your prize.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Happy Blogoversary To Me! - GIVEAWAY!

One year ago today I started this blog. I thought that it might be fun to have a place to share my recipes, and it sure has been. I've been so surprised with how positive my friends and family have been about this new part of my life. I've only had a few people call me crazy! Here's a look at some of my creations from the past year:

In honor of my blogoversary, I'm going to put on my first giveaway! I've decided to gift one of my lucky readers with my favorite cupcake cookbook:

This cookbook is so inspiring to me. The author is so good at showing you how to make beautiful designs with simple frosting and candies. To enter, leave a comment on this post before 8:00 am eastern time tomorrow, March 3rd. I will use a random number selector to choose the winner, and will post the lucky person's name later that day.

Thanks for making my first year of blogging a success!

Fauxstess Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes earlier this week for my brother-in-law's 21st birthday! Phillip & I joined his parents at Purdue Friday night to celebrate, and we had a great time. These cupcakes turned out so cute, I just can't stand it! I doubled the recipe to make two dozen, but other than that, I didn't make any changes.


For the cupcakes:
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. cake flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. water

For the filling:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 ½ tbsp. plus 1 tsp. heavy cream

For the frosting:
¼ cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly coat the wells of a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together egg yolks, canola oil, ½ cup sugar and water until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

In a clean medium bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat one quarter of the egg whites into the batter to lighten the mixture. Add remaining whites and gently fold the mixture together until no streaks remain.

Evenly divide the batter between the wells of the prepared muffin tin. Bake until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched in the center, about 13-16 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly in pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, in a medium bowl beat together the butter, confectioners’ sugar, Marshmallow Fluff and 1 ½ tablespoons of the heavy cream until fluffy. Reserve ½ cup of the mixture – transfer the rest to a pastry bag fitted with a ¼ - inch round tip. Beat the remaining 1 teaspoon of cream into the reserved ½ cup of filling, cover and reserve.

Gently insert the tip of the pastry bag about ½ - inch deep into the top of each cupcake and lightly squeeze in some of the filling.

To make the frosting, in a small saucepan heat cream over medium heat until steaming, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and dip the top of each cupcake to thoroughly coat. Spoon the reserved filling into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip and pipe curlicues across the center of each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 10 minutes to set the frosting.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from Food & Wine