Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coconut Cupcakes

These look divine and perfect for Easter!

Coconut cupcakes
Ina Garten, makes 18 to 20 large cupcakes

• 3/4 pound unsalted butter at 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 all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

Cream cheese frosting
• 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
• 3/4 pound unsalted butter at 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.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one 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 three 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 cup 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.

Cream cheese frosting

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.
Frost cupcakes with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with the remaining coconut, and jellybean for an Easter touch!

Cupcakes: I use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups.
Frosting: It is very important that the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature and that the confectioners’ sugar is sifted to ensure no lumps in the icing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Balls of cake..dipped in chocolate = YUM!

Ok I haven't exactly had these yet but I love cake, and creamcheese and who wouldn't love both even more in a little bite-sized ball dipped in chocolate?! I had never heard about doing something like this so I'm intrigued, could be really fun for a kids birthday party or holidays.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

1 box red velvet cake mix
(or any other flavor you desire, cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)

1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)

1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)

wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.

2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.)

4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)

5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Note: I also only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Toasted Rice

I found this recipe on a little, eensy weensy corner of spread about New Orleans inspired cuisine in one of the recent Food Network magazines. The nutty flavor from toasting the rice prior to cooking really elevated the flavor and kick. I will make again and soon. Total of my time spent cooking and prepping this dish: maybe 8 minutes, tops.

Toasted Rice
4 T butter
2 cups converted long-grain rice (Like Uncle Ben’s)
1 t salt
½ t pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
Green onions

Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Stir in n rice, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the rice is golden, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken broth and water; bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat, 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in chopped scallions and parsley.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Yummy Baked Salmon

On Saturday night Laura's husband Barry made the most delicious salmon dish. I'm sharing here with his permission. In his words: Share it. Modify it. Make it your own. For someone like me, whose salmon repertoire includes grilled or in a foil pouch, this recipe is a welcome addition. So, so good. It reminded me of dishes I've had at Thai-fusion places.

Medium onion, slightly caramelized in bacon grease and butter.
1-2 Serrano pepper seeded and finely chopped (I used one, but a little more heat with coconut can be good. You could also use jalapeños or other hot pepper.)
½ yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
1 red sweet pepper
¼ to ½ tsp ground cardamom
1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
3 tomatoes peeled and diced
2 cloves minced garlic
Handful of crushed mint leaves. I used dried but would prefer fresh.
1 14oz can of coconut milk. To this add a healthy sprinkling of sea salt and gradually whisk in the fresh-squeezed juice of two limes.

Rinse salmon fillets or steaks and place in glass casserole dish. Mix all ingredients and pour over fish. Bake at 300 for 40-60 minutes. Fish is done when it is opaque temp 135-140 degrees.

I’ve sometimes used other spices like cloves and allspice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

More and new veggies are on my list of 2010 to-dos. Last night, I finally made brussels sprouts. I realize they aren't exactly an earth shattering new vegetable, but my mom did not make them when I was growing up so they were new to me.

I knew boiling/sautéing them wasn't going to work (texture didn't sound appealing and I had three pots on the stove last night). Plus, my Mad Hungry cookbook said roasting them was the best way to eat them (in her opinion).

At the grocery store, I picked small sprouts with tightly formed leaves. They were really, really good. Crunchy, salty and fresh tasting. The only issue I have is the smell. Brussell sprouts are related to cabbage and you can smell it.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Small, closed sprouts
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 350 or 375. Wash the sprouts, slice off the ends and remove any sad/overly green leaves. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the sprouts with a fork.

Next time, I might hit them with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice after the come out of the oven.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sherried pineapple pork tenderloin

I've always loved Cooking Light recipes so when I saw their cookbook '5-Ingredient Cookbook: Fresh Food Fast' I just knew I had to have it. Unfortunately it was one of those books I set aside forever - until yesterday...I started browsing and easily bookmarked about 25 or more pages of recipes I can't wait to try. And I also tried 2 out which were fantastic and SO easy - here they are:

Sherried Pineapple Pork Tenderloin
A thick and glossy sauce makes any dish feel elegant, but this one takes all of five minutes to make. The Red Cabbage and Carrot Slaw is a great side with this.

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray
1 (6-ounce) can pineapple juice
2 tablespoons sugar - I used brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1. Sprinkle pepper evenly over pork.
2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray; add pork. Cook pork 3 to 4 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook 10 minutes. Turn pork over; cook 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink).
3. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 3 minutes. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
4. While pork stands, combine pineapple juice and remaining 3 ingredients; add to pan drippings. Bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup. Spoon sauce over pork slices.

Red Cabbage and Carrot Slaw
2 cups matchstick-cut carrots
3/4 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage
3 tablespoons unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing gently to coat.