Monday, June 29, 2009

BB: Gazpacho

I've never really had an interest in trying gazpacho. Cold soup? Normally, I am all about soup, but HOT soup. Cold soup does not sound interesting to me at all. Reluctantly but in the spirit of Barefoot Bloggers, I made June's second recipe - gazpacho. And you know what? I love it. With the coarse chopped vegetables, it is more reminiscent of pico de gallo or salsa than the pureed smooth tomato soup I typically think of when I hear "gazpacho." I added some cilantro for flair, and while a toasty piece of crusty bread would go fabulously with this, I didn't pick any up at the store and have to settle for gazpacho, all by itself.

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook on page 79
Chosen by Meryl of My Bit of Earth

* 1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
* 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
* 4 plum tomatoes
* 1 red onion
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
* 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup good olive oil (I've been cutting back on this quite a bit)
* 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Whipped Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Whew! Long title! My best friend and her mom found these cupcakes on the Good Housekeeping website and suggested I make them. My husband came home that day and mentioned that his coworker was having a party on Saturday - perfect! The GH recipe calls for a plain buttercream frosting, but thought it needed a little something more. I asked around and got some suggestions, and when someone said whipped peanut butter cream cheese frosting, I was SOLD!

I did a little googling to get a general idea of proportions, then threw some together for a wonderfully creamy, cream cheese-y, peanut buttery delight! Despite overbaking them a tad, the cupcakes were delicious and not overwhelming on either the chocolate or peanut butter flavor. I did, however, get a pocket of air above the peanut butter ball inside each one. I remedied this by poking through the top of the cupcake with the decorating tip, filling that space with frosting, then piping the swirls on top.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Whipped Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake recipe from Good Housekeeping
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the filling and cupcakes:
~2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
~1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
~10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
~1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
~1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
~3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
~1 teaspoon baking soda
~1/2 teaspoon salt
~1 cup sour cream
~2 tablespoons milk
~1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
~2 large eggs

For the frosting:
~8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
~4 tablespoons butter, softened
~1/2 cup peanut butter
~3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
~1 cup cool whip

1. Prepare Filling: In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, mix confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until blended. Shape mixture into 24 balls using heaping measuring teaspoons. (Balls will be sticky and don't need to be perfectly shaped.) Place balls on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 standard muffin-pan cups with fluted paper liners.

3. Prepare Cupcakes: On waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In 2-cup liquid measuring cup, mix sour cream, milk, and remaining vanilla; set aside. In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat granulated sugar and remaining 8 tablespoons butter just until blended. Increase speed to high; beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 1 to 2 minutes more or until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until ingredients are combined, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

4. Spoon 1 heaping measuring tablespoon batter into each muffin-pan cup. Drop 1 peanut butter ball in center of each cup and top with another heaping tablespoon batter. Bake cupcakes 25 to 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 23 minutes and they were over-done, so watch them carefully!) Immediately remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

5. When cupcakes are cool, prepare frosting: In large bowl, with mixer on medium-low speed, beat butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter until smooth and blended. Add powdered sugar slowly, incorporating fully after each addition. Add cool whip and beat until smooth and creamy. Frosts cupcakes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pomegranate Mojitos

My husband loves anything pomegranate and anything mojito. We've had pomegranate mojitos in restaurants before, but I decided to surprise him today by having some ready when he got home from work. I knew he would love it!
Ok, ok, you got me. My mint plant is overgrown and I am tired of looking at it. Mojitos, it is!

Pomegranate Mojitos

1 teaspoon sugar (helps the medicine go... oh nevermind.)
1 tablespoon of fresh mint leaves
juice of 1/2 of a lime
1 shot of clear rum
1 shot of pomegranate juice
1 shot of club or lemon-lime soda

Add sugar, mint, and lime juice to a glass. Muddle with the end of a wooden spoon or any such device. Add 3-4 ice cubes to glass, then add rum, juice and soda. Stir to mix and enjoy!

Hoisin 5 Spice Chicken

As soon as I saw this recipe at Bella's Bistro, I couldn't wait to make it! I love chinese 5 spice powder and am always so excited to find a new recipe to use some. This marinade did not disappoint! We grilled instead of baking and loved it.

Hoisin 5 Spice Chicken
Source: Cathy's Kitchen Journey/Bella's Bistro

6 chicken drumsticks
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 tablespoon honey (I used agave nectar)
2 tablespoon soy sauce

Preheat oven to 500.

Add all ingredients, except chicken, to a large Ziploc bag. Close the bag and shake gently to combine. Add chicken to the sauce bag, seal and toss to coat. Set in the fridge for a few hours.

Bake in upper third of oven until skin is browned and chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grilled Peanut Chicken

I'm back! There was a slight hiatus there while I did a little traveling and finished up remodeling our bathrooms. Ready to get back in the swing of things, we figured up the grill this weekend and starting looking for inspiration. By this point I know my google reader and cookbooks are tapped out for grilling marinades, so I went to my long lost bookmarks folder. There I found this gem, which had patiently been waiting for me to finally go out and get some curry.

I knew my husband would like this recipe, but the original recipe calls for just brushing the sauce on while the chicken is cooking. I prefer to marinate. We had two large chicken breasts that I cut up into kabobs, then I doubled the sauce and added a little water to thin it out (listed below are the measurements I used). I used about 2/3 of the sauce to marinate the chicken for about 90 minutes. The rest of the sauce I heated up when the chicken was done and served it as a dipping sauce -- this is a definite must! The sauce is so wonderful for dipping. Some of the reviewers suggested heating it up with some brown sugar, but I was too lazy for that this time around. Maybe next time!

Grilled Peanut Chicken
Slightly modified from: Allrecipes

~ 4 tablespoons reduced fat peanut butter
~ 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
~ 4 teaspoons soy sauce
~ 2 cloves garlic, chopped
~ 2/3 teaspoon curry powder
~ 2 dashes ground cayenne pepper
~ 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1. Preheat grill for high heat.
2. In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Pour 2/3 of the sauce over the chicken and marinate for at least one hour.
3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken until cooked through.

4. Heat remaining 1/3 of sauce and serve on the side.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tuscan Turkey Burgers

I felt like having burgers again over the weekend, and Cara's Tuscan Turkey Burgers were next on my list to try. One of my basil plants is doing very well, so I picked a handful of leaves to make just enough pesto for this recipe. I skipped the balsamic reduction out of laziness, but I'll try to make it next time because it really would add a lot to the dish. As I made them, we still loved them.

Tuscan Turkey Burgers
Source: Cara's Cravings

1 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup pesto
1/3 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 hamburger buns
1 plum tomato, sliced
handful of field greens
4-6 oz fresh mozzarella
balsamic syrup (reduction)

Combine turkey, pesto, sundried tomatoes, onion, and garlic and mix well. Place stone on grill and heat up. Form turkey mixture into 4 balls, tightly packed. Drop on hot stone and flatten with a spatula. Cook for about 8 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center. Top with slices of fresh mozzarella and close the grill for a few minutes to warm the cheese. Serve on toasted buns with field greens, tomato slices, and a drizzle of balsamic syrup.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These cookies have a special place in our house, as they were one of the first recipes my husband and I made together. We love them and since he bought 4 packages of craisins months ago, I decided it was time to use one up with an old favorite. These cookies are great because they stay nice and soft, but, they do get flat (for me). Maybe next time I'll try chilling the dough to see if that helps. I always add some cinnamon and nutmeg to get them a little more depth.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Source: Ocean Spray
Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen (I got 3 dozen)
Adaptations in italics

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 6-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Sweetened Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Per Serving (1 cookie): Cal 135 (6%DV), Fat Cal. 54, Pro. 2g (4%DV), Carb. 18g (6%DV), Fat 6g (9%DV), Chol. 15mg (4%DV), Sod. 138mg (5%DV), Vit. A 47RE (4%DV), Vit. C 0mg (0%DV), Vit. E 1mg (2%DV), Calcium 16mg (1%DV), Iron 1mg (3%DV), Folate 5Ug (1%DV), Zinc <1mg (1%DV), Pot. 54mg (1%DV), Dietary Exchange: Other Carbohydrate 1, Fat 1.5

Thursday, June 11, 2009

BB: Curried Couscous

I think I may have had couscous once or twice, but I have never prepared it at home, so I was excited to try making it. Now, it is totally my new favorite thing. So many ways to dress it up and SO easy to prepare! 5 minutes in boiling water, which it completely soaks up? How easy is that? I am in love. If only it weren't all carbs. We loved this dish and the raisins were a particularly welcome burst of sweetness. I was pleasantly surprised (due to a lack of knowledge of cumin) that the dish is not spicy. See how the others did!

Curried Couscous
Chosen by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester
Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, page 94

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Flower Cake Pops

I knew I was going to have another opportunity make treats for a party, so a few weeks ago when I made the organic lemon cake, I made two layers, wrapped them well, and stuck them in the freezer. I had cake pops on my mind for those layers. I have made cake bites before, but with all the amazingly cute things Bakerella has been doing with cake pops, I wanted to try my hand at those.

I decided to start with something simple and do flowers*. I picked up the mini romance Wilton set of cookie cutters, and used the petal flower and tulip shapes. I decided to make two flavors, lemon cake with strawberry frosting, and german chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting. They were both absolutely delicious! To aid in telling them apart, all the chocolate flowers were purple and the lemon/strawberry ones were orange.

Here, in pictures, is how I chose to form them. After crumbling the cake and mixing with the frosting, I pressed the cake/frosting mixture into a jelly roll pan. The pan went into the freezer for about 20 minutes to set the cake. Then I used the mini cookie cutters as if I were making... cookies. :-) I pressed it into the cake, lifted it away with a spatula, then used the end of the spatula to gently apply pressure to the cake to unmold the flower. These got packed up in an airtight container, and put back in the freezer until I was ready to dip them (which for me was a few days later). To complete them, melt candy melts in the microwave or over a double boiler. Press a stick into the frozen molded flower, and then dip into the melted candy. Use a toothpick to help clear off excess, if desired. Sprinkle with colored sugar immediately, then set in styrofoam block to set. (There are no pictures of the dipping process because, gosh, it is messy!) I ended up getting 50-60 pops out of the cake mix, and was able to dip about 40 of them per 14 ounce bag of candy melts.

*I later discovered, flowers are not simple. It is no fun dipping cake pops when you care about the shape of the final product. Such a pain!!

Strawberry Lemon Cake Pops
~two 8" or 9" rounds, or one 9x13 pan of lemon cake (store bought or homemade)
~16 ounces, about 2 cups, of strawberry frosting (store bought or homemade)

German Chocolate Cake Pops
~one 9x13 pan of german chocolate cake (store bought or homemade)
~16 ounces, about 2 cups, of coconut pecan frosting (store bought or homemade)

Other items:
~colored candy melts
~colored sprinkles
~shortening (for thinning candy melts, if too thick for dipping)
~mini cookie cutters in flower shapes
~patience. Lots of patience.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jerk Chicken Wings

The ingredients for this recipe fell together easily for me... scallions were on sale last week and I had stocked up, and drumsticks went on sale this week. Everything else I already had plenty of. As soon as I finished blending the marinade, I knew this had been a good choice. It smelled heavenly! We grilled them and they turned out great - flavorful and spicy. I am glad I cut down and just used one jalapeno, it was just enough heat for me.

Jerk Chicken Wings
Source: Everyday Food Magazine

12 scallions, tops and bottoms trimmed, chopped
8 cloves of garlic
4 dried bay leaves
1 habanero or 2 jalapeno chiles, chopped (I used 1 jalapeno)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
4 teaspoons ground allspice
course salt and ground pepper
6 pounds chicken wings (I used 3 pounds drumsticks)
lime wedges, for serving

1. In a food processor, pulse scallions, garlic, bay leaves, habanero, vinegar, thyme, allspice, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons pepper until coarsely ground. In a large shallow dish, toss chicken with jerk mixture and refrigerate at least one hour (up to 1 day).

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken on foil lined rimmed baking sheet and cook until browned, 35-40 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
To grill, cook over medium, covered, until cooked through, 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. Serve with lime wedges.