Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Baked Brownies

BAKED brownie

I’ve had this BAKED Brownie recipe tucked away for a while now & finally was able to try it last week. It’s claim to fame was supposedly after being announced as one of Oprah’s favorite things, but I have my faulty DVR to thank for missing that episode! The recipe comes from the baked shop in NYC & is known for it’s rich flavor & fudge-like consistency. I had my expectations set high in believing this brownie was going to rank high as THE best brownie ever. Was it good? Yes. Was it intensely rich? Yes. Was it THE best? No. Sadly, not for me. But, I am a milk-chocolate loving girl & the flavor of these brownies was just too rich for my taste-buds. But none of us are alike, and gosh darn if Oprah loves them, then I’m sure there’s a lot of others out there that will too! Put this recipe to the test & decide for yourself, or just go the lazy route & pick up The Baked Brownie box mix at Williams-Sonoma :) XOXO....little j Y

The Baked Brownie
Adapted from: baked NYC's BAKED Brownie

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), coarsely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
 5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter sides of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside. In a large bowl set over simmering water, stir together the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder until melted and smooth. Keeping the bowl over the water, turn off the heat and add the sugars. Whisk until combined.

Remove boil from double boiler and let cool to room temperature. {Pop in the fridge or freezer for 5 minutes to speed up the process.} Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, add 3 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the 2 remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Stir in the vanilla.

Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until just combined. Do not over mix the batter. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares & serve.

take a bite into BAKED goodness.....a brownie like no other

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chocolate-Coffee Cake Pops

Red, White & Blue!!

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Independence Day than with a little family BBQ, fireworks, & some festive CAKE POPS. For me, it was one last get together before I headed off to Los Angeles to start my big girl job. That’s right, my days of moping on blog posts & being unemployed are soon to be of the past. I’m hoping my new employment status doesn’t equate to a hiatus from the blog world, so I’ll make an effort to continue with the kitchen adventures every now & then. Might be kind of hard without my mom’s nifty Canon on hand to take pictures! Happy Belated 4th of July!! XOXO....little j Y

Chocolate-Coffee Cake Pops
*Makes 50-60+ depending on size

1 box Devil’s Food Cake mix {+ eggs, oil, H20, 2+ Tbsp instant espresso}
¾ tub Whipped Cream Cheese frosting
1 lb. bag dark chocolate candy melts {2 lbs if you plan on making a lot!}
2-3 tsp instant espresso + more to your preference
4-inch lollipop sticks
sprinkles for decorating

Use the Red Velvet Cake Pops' recipe as a guide. Add instant espresso to cake batter before baking. Add more instant espresso to dipping chocolate during the melting process. Make sure cake dough has hardened a bit in the fridge/freezer before attempting to dip in chocolate. You’ll know it’s not cold enough if the cake keeps falling of the stick. Dip, decorate with sprinkles, set aside to harden & enjoy!!

festive Cake Pops!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Muffins

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Muffins

This past Mother’s Day we celebrated with a special brunch at CUPS Culinary. The goal was to get my Mother more in touch with her inner Betty Crocker, with this hands-on class where everyone was responsible for making a dish to contribute to the brunch. Luckily for her, the brunch turnout was overbooked and the food stations were a little crowded. Therefore, we {as in--my sister & I} were left with a quite simple egg dish to prepare. So rather than slaving away in the kitchen that morning baking these muffins, my mother spent her time snapping photos instead—something she’d rather be doing anyway! :) Mission not quite accomplished, but we had fun anyway. Still love these muffins the second time around & plan to use the base of this recipe again for other muffins too. Give 'em a try! 
XOXO....little j Y

Mother, Belle & Myself {not a fan of my "low pony" look!!}
Lemon Glazed Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from: Michelle Ciccarelli, Owner of Cups Bakery
*Makes about 22 muffins

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temp
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup heavy cream (*milk used in original recipe)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed & picked through for stems
zest of one lemon (*meyer lemons used in original recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin pan.

Cream butter and sugar in mixer for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, with the mixer on low. Add vanilla, sour cream, and heavy cream and mix until blended.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Scoop batter into prepared muffin pans, filling to the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned. Let cool.

Lemon Glaze

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
fine zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp

Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds.  Whisk & continue to heat at 30-second intervals if needed. Pour atop muffins before serving.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nutty Zucchini Bread

Nutty Zucchini Bread....YUMMY!

Our backyard garden is beginning to flourish with everything from bell peppers to corn, tomatoes, cucumbers & of course…ZUCCHINI! Lots and lots of zucchini!! I was starting to run out of ideas of what to make with the darn things, when I decided to give this delish recipe a try. Definitely a keeper!! XOXO....little j Y

Nutty Zucchini Bread
Adapted from: Paula Deen’s Zucchini Bread
*makes 2 9-inch loaves

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini {squeeze out excess liquid with a paper towel}
1 tsp lemon juice
¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange chopped nuts on baking sheet and toast in oven for 5-10 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine beaten eggs, water, zucchini, and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together. Fold in nuts. Pour batter into 2 9-inch loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Let cool.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Best EVER Peanut Butter Protein Shake

mmm mmm goooood
Tired of drinking those bland & boring protein shakes? Well look no further because this really is the BEST tasting protein shake I've made in years. It's SOOO good that I guarantee a protein shake addiction in your near future. Feel free to adapt the shake to your diet. Cut out the almond butter to save fat & calories on the days where you have already surpassed your daily amount. It still tastes amazing without it!! XOXO....little j Y

Best EVER Peanut Butter Protein Shake
*Makes 2 cups/serving

3/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Milk
1 scoop Isoflex Peanut Butter Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
1 Tbsp Bob's Red Mill Organic Flaxseed Meal
1-2 Tbsp Almond Butter or Low-Calorie PB (such as Better'n Peanut Butter)
LOTS of ice (about 8 cubes)
optional: use 1/2 coffee 1/2 milk ratio for liquid

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Add additional liquid or ice until desired consistency is reached. If you're feeling a little rebellious, go ahead & top with a drizzle of chocolate syrup. However, know that I only added whipped cream & chocolate syrup for visual appeal :)

seconds, anyone?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Coconut Cupcakes

coconut cupcakes :)
My latest obsession has been anything with that sweet flavor of shredded coconut. I sprinkle some into my oat bran, top it on some yogurt, and I even made a version of a little Almond Joy candy. I can’t get enough of this stuff! So when my friend mentioned this recipe, I couldn’t wait to get baking. What else could be more delightful than a mouthful of these moist, buttery, coconut cupcakes? They turned out wonderful & made for a great dessert at my friend’s baby shower. This recipe is definitely one worth repeating. XOXO....little j Y

Coconut Cupcakes
Recipe by: Barefoot Contessa
*Makes 24 cupcakes

Cupcake Batter:

3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 oz sweetened shredded coconut 
                                           + more if desired

Cream Cheese Icing:

1 lb cream cheese at room temperature
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 ½ lbs confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the cupcake batter, begin by using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and almond extract and mix well.

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

Line muffin pan with paper liners. Use an ice cream scoop to fill each cup to the top with batter. Bake 25-35 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean when testing. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan & then cool completely on a baking rack.

For the icing, blend together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts in an electric mixer. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes with cream cheese icing & sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Optional Ideas: Use toasted coconut in the recipe. To do so, arrange shredded coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir every 5-10 mins to ensure even browning.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Potato & Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips
It’s no surprise I’ve been on a blog hiatus for the past few weeks. I have been busy preparing for job interviews since I only get one shot to make a great impression. Hopefully my hard work pays off & I get an offer soon. I’m ready to work already!!

I have to thank Leanne over at Healthful Pursuit for peaking my interest in homemade potato chips. Just a few weeks ago I was munching on a bag of sweet potato chips that had to have been 20x’s worse than your average potato chip. All that added oil really packs in the calories. Thankfully, if you have some time and patience you can enjoy a guilty-free potato chip fix by making your own! It’s the alternative version to making chips using a dehydrator, however I think I want to try the dehydrating method sometime too.

XOXO....little j Y

Homemade Potato & Sweet Potato Chips
Recipe from: Allrecipes.com

Wash potatoes {I used Russet & Sweet Potatoes} & slice thinly with a vegetable slicer. Arrange in a single layer on a microwave-safe glass dish. Lightly spray (optional) with PAM butter spray & season with kosher salt or your favorite seasoning salt. Microwave potatoes in batches. Potatoes will generally take 7-7 ½ minutes on high. Sweet potatoes are done in about 4 minutes. Potatoes will become crispier as they cool. 
Potato Chips!!

YUM :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sweet Potato Sandwich

Sweet Potato Sandwich

Back when I was in nursing school, I had the opportunity to observe surgeries in the Operating Room. On one particular experience, I was sitting in on a spinal surgery. Besides watching from afar in my sexy PPE get-up {also known as personal protective equipment, which is anything but sexy,} I had nothing else to do but engage in small talk with the surgeons, OR Tech and the medical equipment sales guy. I’m sure I was told some vital info about the surgery & the step-by-step synopsis of what was occurring, but I don’t seem to remember that part.

What I do remember is when I was asked what my favorite meal would be. Next comes the part where I felt like a total ding-dong for saying such a lame answer. At this point, I was already feeling a little woozy because I was starving. All I could think about was what I was going to eat for lunch. So what did I answer?? I said it would probably be a sandwich and a salad. LAME!! The guys were kind of surprised and said my answer could tell a lot about what kind of date I would be. I felt like my answer made me sound like one of those girls who ordered just a salad and definitely a girl that would make for a boring date! But as the surgery continued on, I started thinking that not all favorite meals have to be lavish. In fact, I happen to love sandwiches and don’t think I’ve ever had one that left me disappointed. Of course it’s probably not my favorite meal, but who can choose just one favorite meal anyway?

I do like to frequent cafés often & I’m always down for a tasty sandwich. While in LA, my friends and I stopped in at simplethings sandwich & pie shop for a late lunch. I was tempted to try their Portobello Mushroom Pie, but had to pass it up after I found out it had cheese in it. {Since I’m giving up cheese for a while.} So instead, I chose their ½ sandwich-½ salad deal {BIG surprise!} The salad was amazing, but it was their Sweet Potato sandwich {sans the goat cheese} that I found extra appealing. So as soon as I got home I wanted to re-create a version {my own version} of their sandwich. It’s not completely the same, but I loved the idea of sweet potatoes on a sandwich. So here it is!!! XOXO....little j Y

Sweet Potato Sandwich

1 pretzel bun, toasted w/ spray butter
1 Tbsp caramelized sweet onions {see recipe below}
1 sweet potato, baked
1/3 cup coleslaw {see recipe below}
{optional: cheese of your choice}

Step 1: Follow recipe for making Pretzel Buns or use your favorite roll/bun/bread. Toast in toaster or brown bun over stovetop in pan. {If using cheese, toast bun & quickly melt cheese under broiler.}

Step 2: Spread toasted bun with basil-avocado spread & top with caramelized onions.

Step 3: Layer with baked sweet potatoes.

Step 4: Scoop on the coleslaw.

Final Result: Sweet Potato Sandwich

Caramelized Onions
*Makes 4 sandwich servings

1 sweet onion, sliced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Melt butter and heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cover with lid {to let them “sweat”} for 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking onions over low-medium heat for 45-60 minutes until caramelized.

Baked Sweet Potatoes
*Serving sizes vary with potato sizes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking pan with foil covered with an olive oil or butter spray. Cut sweet potatoes into ½ inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in a single-layer onto foil. Lightly spray potatoes with butter spray. Sprinkle with kosher salt & pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until soft when pricked with a fork.

*Makes about 2 cups

2 cups coleslaw mix {I used 3-Color Deli Cole Slaw Mix}
¼ cup {4 Tbsp} extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp vinegar {I used rice vinegar}
2 Tbsp light mayo
3 tsp sugar
kosher salt & pepper, to taste

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, sugar, and mayo. Add coleslaw mix and stir to evenly coat. Season with kosher salt & pepper. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pretzel Buns

Pretzel Buns!!

This post is in continuation to the Basil-Avocado Spread. It may be no big surprise that my newest inspired recipe is indeed a sandwich! The spread & pretzel buns are just two pieces to this quite complicated puzzle. I’m pretty sure that once I finally post the end result, few will venture out to make it. Who else has time to spend 5 hours in the kitchen cooking, besides me?

If you don’t have time to make these delish buns for my sandwich, at least break this recipe out when you’re in an savory mood for some pretzel buns. These pretzels do not even compare to the crap they sell at the movies. Believe me. I have fallen victim to purchasing one in the past & immediately regretted it. Munch on these little bad boys next time you pop in a movie & you’ll be in pretzel heaven. Dip them in a little honey-mustard, nacho cheese, or even sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar & you’ll be good to go. XOXO....little j Y

Pretzel Buns
Recipe from: STRESSCAKE
*Makes 10-15 depending on size

1 ½ cups warm water {110-115 degrees F—use a thermometer!}
1 packet of Active Dry Yeast
2 tsp sugar
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Poaching H20:
2 quarts water {8 cups}
¼  cup baking soda

1 egg, lightly beaten
kosher or pretzel salt

To make the dough, combine warm water & yeast packet in mixer bowl. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add sugar, flour, salt and melted butter and mix {using the dough hook} until thoroughly combined. The consistency should be more smooth than sticky. Cover mixing bowl with a towel & let the dough rise in a warm place {like the oven} for 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Cut dough into size/shape of your preference. Keep in mind that the final result will be larger. To shape the dough into a bun-like form, stretch the dough into a round ball by pulling the sides to the bottom and seal it by pinching the dough together. You’ll want the base of your bun to be just as smooth as the top. To get a visual on how this is done, check out the tips on how to shape dough to perfection at Fine Cooking. Arrange dough balls 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or baking mats. Cover lightly with a towel and let dough rise {back in the oven} for an additional 30 minutes.

The pretzel buns will need to be poached prior to baking. To do this, bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add baking soda and lower heat to a simmer. Carefully slip rolls {a few at a time} into the simmering water. Poach on each side for 30 seconds. Remove and return to same baking sheets, ensuring that the seam side is down.

Glaze poached dough with egg wash. Sprinkle with kosher salt {or pretzel salt if your prefer that} and cut a slash or X at the top of each bun.

Bake buns at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Rotate pans for even browning. Let cool on wire racks. Eat warm with a dab of butter or use buns for a sandwich.

How 'bout a pretzel baguette?!
Looking for more pretzel ideas? 
Check out STRESSCAKE's blog for more yummy recipes! I want to try the pretzel dogs!! :D

Basil-Avocado Spread

Basil-Avocado Spread

I found inspiration for creating a new recipe after enjoying a late lunch at a new hot spot café in LA, while visiting friends there this past weekend. There are several elements to this new recipe idea, so I will post bits & pieces as I make them & then eventually it will all come together in the final result!

I must say…this avocado spread turned out phenomenal. I love it so much I just might have to throw my jar of mayo out & give that junk up for good. It’s best used as a spread on your favorite sammy or as a dip for freshly baked fries. Stay tuned….more to follow! 
XOXO....little j Y

Basil-Avocado Spread
*Makes ¾ cup

1 medium ripe avocado
1/3 cup light sour cream
3 large basil leaves
1 medium garlic clove
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste with additional salt/pepper if necessary. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lemon Basil Chicken

Lemon Basil Chicken

A few weeks ago I was in Costa Mesa and came across this hidden gem called Chicken Maison. It’s a little Mediterranean chain restaurant with generous portions and flavorful rotisserie chicken. They make a Lemon Basil Chicken that I just loved, so I did my best to recreate a healthier version here. The secret to keeping the chicken moist is to brine it in advance. You’ll never believe the difference it makes! XOXO....little j Y

Lemon Basil Chicken
*Serves 5

5 Chicken Breast Filets {boneless, skinless}
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp garlic, minced or chopped fine
1/3 cup white wine
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 large bunch of basil, julienned & chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
juice of 1 lemon {slice & reserve leftovers}

{General Brining Formula: ½ gallon H2O + ½ cup table salt + ½ cup sugar} 
*If brining with kosher salt, use 1 cup for this formula. Note: Brining is OPTIONAL.

To obtain more flavorful & juicier meat, always brine it in advance. For boneless, skinless chicken breasts you only need to let the chicken brine for 30-60 minutes. Brine bone-in or skin-on meat for 1-2 hours. For an entire chicken, you’ll want to brine for 4-8 hours. Also be sure to brine meat in a non-reactive container. I use a large plastic bag, but brining in glass bowl or dish also works. Learn more about the Basics of Brining at Cooks Illustrated.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and let cook for less than 60 seconds {you don’t want to burn the garlic}. Remove from heat. Stir in wine, lemon zest, basil, kosher salt, and pepper.

Arrange the chicken filets in a baking dish. Season filets with kosher salt & pepper. Pour lemon basil sauce over chicken filets. Slice leftover lemon {that you used for juicing} into wedges or slice a fresh lemon & toss the pieces into the baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your filet. Boneless & skinless chicken breasts are done once they reach 140F. {Dark meat is done when it reaches a temperature of 160F.} Remove from oven and cover with foil. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Creamy Mustard Tilapia Fillets

Creamy Mustard Tilapia Fillets
Recently I decided to give up cheese for a while. I LOVE cheese. ALL kinds of cheese. I realized that I eat it way too much and too often. I was hoping that cutting out cheese would produce some miraculous results like those people who incredibly loose 10 pounds just by cutting back on their soda consumption. Sadly, I have no results at all. Perhaps it has something to do with all the cream & butter in my diet? One of these days I’m going to have to cut back on those too. But first, I wanted to make some Creamy Mustard Tilapia Fillets! If I can’t have cheese, then I might as well eat something creamy, right? This dish makes for a quick & easy weeknight dinner and my family loves it. XOXO....little j Y

Creamy Mustard Tilapia Fillets
Recipe inspired by: Ina Garten’s Mustard-Roasted Fish
*Serves 5-6

5-6 tilapia fish fillets {fresh or defrosted}
8 oz crème fraîche {see recipe below}
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 Tbsp drained capers
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Spray bottom of baking dish {any size you have that’ll fit all the fillets} with butter or olive oil spray. Arrange fillets {skin side down if you are using fresh fish} in baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine crème fraîche, mustards, and capers. Add salt & pepper to taste {about 1 tsp kosher salt & ½ tsp pepper}. Spoon mustard sauce evenly over fillets, making sure fish is completely covered. Bake 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. You will know it’s ready when the fish flakes easily. Serve immediately.

Homemade Crème Fraîche
*Makes 8 ounces

Crème Fraîche
I’ve never tried Crème Fraîche before so I can’t compare this to a store-bought version, but it is easy to make. Just prepare it one day in advance & it’ll be ready to use. Find more information on different methods HERE.

1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp buttermilk

Mix cream & buttermilk in sealable container. Let sit in a warm place for 13+ hours {I put mine in the oven since it was too cold in the kitchen.} The mixture will gradually thicken. Store in fridge until ready to use. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tea Party Tarts

This Friday FOODBUZZ is hosting the Top 9 Tea Party Takeover in an effort to help raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer Research.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women and the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States. Donations toward the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund will help to find better methods for early detection and improve treatment options. Most cases of ovarian cancer are not detected early, so take initiative to seek medical advice if gynecologic cancer runs in your family.

You can take part in the Tea Party Takeover by stopping over at Kelly Confidential and creating your own virtual tea party to help raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Then throw on your cutest aprons & get to baking some of my Tea Party Tarts. Choose from a fresh Blueberry-Strawberry Tart, a Blueberry Tart, or the Baked Apple Tart!

Don’t forget to checkout Foodbuzz on Friday, March 25th to see the Top 9 recipes from the Tea Party Takeover :) XOXO....little j Y

Tea Party Tarts

Blueberry-Strawberry Tart & Blueberry Tart

Blueberry-Strawberry Tart

Crust: {makes 8 4-inch tarts or 1 9-inch tart}
Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen
1-½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s powdered sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
9 Tbsp {1 stick + 1 Tbsp} unsalted butter, cold & cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup confectioner’s powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup apricot jelly or jam
1 Tbsp water

To prepare the pastry dough, place the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add cold butter and pulse 12-15 times, or until the butter forms small pea-sized bits. With the motor running, add the beaten egg. Continue to pulse until the dough starts to come together into a mass. Quickly dump dough onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or a few days in advance. {*Note: If you do not have a food processor, you can use a pastry cutter to mix the butter in with the flour mixture. Then gradually add the egg and mix until the dough forms.}

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll dough out into large circular or rectangular shape. Use the 4-inch tart pan to measure out smaller circles. Cut ½ inch larger than the tart pan. Lightly press dough into tart mold. Use the rolling pin to roll over top of pan & cut off any excess dough hanging over. Prick dough with fork. Store in freezer for 30+ minutes before baking. {*Note: Tart dough tends to shrink when it's either not cold enough or if it's been stretched too much. Cut out as many tart circles as you can after rolling out the dough to avoid working the dough too much. Also make sure you either refrigerate the dough in the tart pan for at least 1 hour or pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes. I went through many junky & shrunken tart crusts before I figured this out!}

When ready, tightly cover dough with buttered foil {shiny side down}. Place on cookie sheet & bake for 15 minutes with the foil. Take off the foil & continue baking an additional 3-5 minutes until lightly golden brown. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn! Let cool.

For the filling, mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl using a hand mixer. Whip until creamy. Set aside.

To make the glaze, heat the apricot jelly and water in a small saucepan. If you are using jam or preserves rather than a jelly, sieve the mixture after it is heated. This will get rid of any apricot clumps and leave you with a nice glaze.

When the tart crusts have cooled, brush the bottoms & rims of the crust with the apricot glaze. Scoop in cream cheese filling. Top with blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries. Lightly brush fruit with apricot glaze to finish it off.

Blueberry Tart

Baked Apple Tart

Baked Apple Tart

Crust: {makes 8 4-inch tarts or 1 9-inch tart}
Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen
1-½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s powdered sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
9 Tbsp {1 stick + 1 Tbsp} unsalted butter, cold & cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 apple {I used Fiji-You’ll need a few apples if you make the 9-inch tart}
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ Tbsp unsalted butter, cold & cut into small pieces

¼ cup apricot jelly or jam
1 Tbsp water

See instructions above for making tart crust & apricot glaze. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

When ready, cover tart dough with buttered foil {shiny side down} and bake on cookie sheet for 15 minutes to pre-bake the crust. Remove from oven and add apple slices in a circular fashion. Sprinkle on sugar and dot with butter. Bake an additional 30-40 minutes or until lightly golden. Brush with apricot glaze and let cool.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marshmallow Crème filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Marshmallow Crème filled Chocolate Cupcakes!!
If you’ve been searching for the best chocolate cake recipe ever…look no further! After a little research I came across this recipe shared by Ina Garten called Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. It got awesome reviews & was quite popular among fellow food bloggers, so of course I wanted to make it too!

But, I couldn’t help but wonder who the master creator behind this recipe was. I mean, don’t you want to know who Beatty is!? As it turns out, Beatty is the grandmother of a friend of Ina Garten. Back in the day, Beatty would whip up her famous chocolate cake & send it off with her husband on his milk route so he could deliver to their customers. Ohh that is surely one milkman I would look forward to seeing! What ever happened to milkmen anyway??

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake is light, super moist, and its rich, chocolaty goodness is sure to please any palate. The secret ingredient? Coffee! I decided to make a batch of cupcakes with this recipe & the results were marshmallow crème filled chocolate cupcakes topped off with a little ganache…absolutely sinful. If you leave out the marshmallow filling, they will still turn out delicious too :) XOXO....little j Y

Marshmallow Crème filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe inspired from: Ina Garten’s Beatty's Chocolate Cake
* Makes 24 cupcakes

1 ¾ cups flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cups cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Arrange cupcake liners in muffin pan. {Tip: Lightly spray the top of the pan with butter to avoid cupcake tops from sticking to it after baking.}

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into bowl of electric mixer. Mix on low speed {using paddle attachment} until combined. In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix lightly with a fork. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Lastly, add in the coffee and stir until just combined. Pour or scoop batter into muffin liners {about 2/3 high}. Bake for 18 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes in pan before transferring to baking rack to cool completely.

{Modifications: To bake as a cake, pour batter into 8 or 9 inch round pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees F.}

1 (7 oz) jar Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème

After cupcakes have cooled completely, you are ready to add in the marshmallow filling. Scoop marshmallow crème into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Insert tip of pastry bag into center of cupcake & squeeze in desired amount of crème. If the crème puffs out of the cupcake, scrape off any excess before applying the ganache.

½ cup heavy cream (+ extra to achieve desired consistency)
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat the heavy cream & chocolate chips in a bowl over a pot of simmering water until smooth. Add additional heavy cream to thin out the consistency of the ganache. Using a knife, spread a thin layer onto each cupcake. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake with Fresh Berries & Whipped Cream

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake with Sweetened Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries

It has been WAYYYY too long since I’ve posted on my blog, as I have been busy both in and out of the kitchen these past two weeks. Thanks to everyone who left such kind & supportive comments on my last post. While I was moping around my inability to find a nursing job, I lost track of the accomplishments I had been making. Let’s not forget that I made Top 9 on Foodbuzz twice in one week!! That surely is an accomplishment that I am proud of. As far as finding a job is concerned, it seems that my luck is picking up and it turns out that not everyone is overlooking my qualifications as I had originally thought.

So you may be wondering what exactly has been going on over here in sunny San Diego. For one….IT SNOWED and while the snow didn’t show up on my doorstep, it sure did get pretty close!
View of Snow Topped Mtns near my House
And then a few days after the snow came SUNSHINE & I soaked up all the goodness with my sweet puppy Ryder at the Del Mar Dog Beach.

It was hard to snap a picture of Rye running around like crazy, but I did get this one after he had ran straight into the ocean {& really quickly out!}

Amidst all of the weather changes, we also had a little family celebration for my Mother’s birthday. Per her request {or at least close enough} I made her a lovely pound cake topped with homemade whipped cream & an arrangement of fresh berries. While the pound cake was good I have to admit it wasn’t great. It can be with a few alterations and I do suggest that you make some if you chose to go with this recipe. I found the cake to be a tad bit on the dry side and I think more moisture {perhaps milk or more honey} would benefit and make for a better end result. It was either lacking moisture or maybe I baked it too long. So be weary of the dryness and be sure you don’t over bake like I might have. Also, if you have never considered toasting your slice of pound cake, give it a try!  I love mine toasty & warm :) XOXO....little j Y

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake
Recipe by: Ina Garten via Cook’s Illustrated
*Makes one 8-inch loaf

2 sticks unsalted butter, at cool room temperature (cool = set out for 1 hour)
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease & flour an 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5-inch loaf pan.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, put the eggs, honey, vanilla and lemon zest in a glass measuring cup but do not combine. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, with the mixer on low speed. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before turning cake onto baking rack to cool completely.

Sweetened Whipping Cream
Recipe by: Ina Garten

1 cup cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a pre-chilled mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment of your mixer and whip ingredients on medium then high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Be sure to not over whip. Serve with pound cake & fresh berries.

Looking for more dessert ideas?? Find them over @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies's Link Party!!