Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

IMG_2017So, recently I have been pretty bad at the actual writing part of this blog. The being in my kitchen making (what I think are) delicious things, check. Taking the time to take pictures of said things, check. Actually sitting down to write the post and upload the pictures, not so much.

I made these a little while ago, but am just now getting aroung to posting. If you like chocolate, this cake is for you. The cake is rich, and dark, and crumbly.  It is sort of like devils food cake, but chocolaty-er. The supersweet buttercream frosting is the perfect pairing, providing a creamy, sweet contrast to the not-so-sweet cake.

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2/3 Cup cocoa
  • 1 Cup boiling water
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 3 eggs

Frosting:

  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-3 Tbs water (as needed)
  • Food Coloring

Directions:

IMG_1975

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners (I got 18 out of this recipe).

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and wisk in cocoa, set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, wisk together flour and baking soda.

In a stand mixer (or in a separate bowl with electric beaters) cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in cocoa and water mixture alternately with flour.

Divide among lined cupcake pans, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Set on rack to cool.

To make frosting cream butter in mixer and add sugar gradually  Add in vanilla and water as needed to reach the right consistency. Add food coloring, if desired, I used a purple gel. To create the rosette frost in a continuous swirl with a large star tip starting fromt the center and working your way out to the edges in a circular fashion.

IMG_1984IMG_2005IMG_2023

Advertisements

Make Your Own: Pesto

IMG_2552

Why yes, that is home-made pesto. And, yes, it is delicious. I love pesto. I am not sure I can get enough pesto. It is so versatile, and light, and tasty.

IMG_2596My original plan for this pesto was this delicious tilapia recipe, partly because it is really tasty and partly because I am home dog-sitting (see adorable dog photo) and my mom always has tilapia fillets in her freezer. I was all set, I had the green, I had the nuts, the garlic. Only problem is that I am a really scatter-brained cook (the flexibility in cooking makes me forgetful in ways I just don’t encounter in baking). I had the rice side practically finished when I realized I hadn’t made the pesto and decided to just skip it in favor of something faster.

But, I had all the ingredients, so I was going to make the pesto, just a little later than intended. Every time I make pesto, I make it a little differently and I have tried a few different recipes. This one was pretty delicious though, so I thought I would share.

Pesto

Based loosely on this recipe from The Complete Kitchen Garden.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup pine nuts
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 Cups of spinach and arugula mix
  • 1 Tbs dried basil (if you have fresh, fresh is always better, I add to taste. You could also skip it if you aren’t a fan.)
  • 1/4 Cup grated parmesean cheese (I am pretty generous with this and it tends to be heaping)
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil (plus more if needed)

IMG_2539Directions:

Mince garlic (I never feel this is adequately done in the food processor because I feel like the bowl is too big, but you could, theoretically, mince in the food processor). Add pine nuts and garlic to food processor and pulse until finely grated. Add spinach and pulse until incorporated. Add basil, parmesan and olive oil and pulse until it is the right consistency. It should be combined and sort of liquidy, but it will sort of hold together if you pick it up with a spoon.

Add to whatever dish you want: pasta with chicken and pesto, tilapia or other fish fillet, add when sautéing veggies. Do you have a good pesto recipe or a favorite something to put it on? I am always looking for a reason to eat pesto.

IMG_2585IMG_2568

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_2537All I want is summer. I want summer like a fat kid wants cake (as the saying goes, sort of). I want to wear cute dresses and wander about outside. I want the wind to be a pleasant occurrence, rather than the the thing I curse as it whips through me. I just want to be warm without needing to be inside wrapped in layers.

There is a small possibility that I might regret these statement mid-August when I am melting in the humidity; but I never want winter the same way I want the summer to arrive. These cookies are my attempt at bringing a little bit of summer early. What says summer better than coconut?

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Modified from Jan Thompson of Fairfax, Virgina (The 47 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World, 1983)

Ingredients:IMG_2434

  • 1 1/3 Cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanillaIMG_2448
  • 1/2 Cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°.

In small to medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

IMG_2470In a large bowl (or stand mixer), cream butter and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, and salt and beat until just combined. Add coconut and chocolate chips and beat to combine.

Roll tablespoon size balls and place on baking sheet (I line mine with parchment paper to ensure they slide off easily) about an inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or until they appear slightly golden on top. Cool and eat!

IMG_2485Coconut Choc Chip Cookies

Quinoa Salad

IMG_2317I started making this recipe this summer when a friend of mine introduced it to me. All sorts of tasty (and healthy) dishes come out of her/her mother’s kitchen and this is no exception.

It was perfect for the summer because, after cooking, it was a high-protein salad that I enjoyed making and eating, and it tasted great chilled. Problem was, it had become such a big part of my weekly meal planning (I would make some to bring into work a couple times per week for lunch) that it was hard to give up when winter came and all I wanted was warm, comfort food to keep me going until spring.

Some foods that are meant to be cold, just don’t work as a hot dish; this is not one of them. It was perfect for winter, or for your overly-air conditioned office, because it tastes just as great warmed up! And that makes me happy because I can eat it all year long.IMG_2268

So, whether your winter is hanging on or melting away, here is a salad for you.

Ingredients:

  •  1/2 Cup cashews
  • 1/4 Cup almond slices
  • 1/2 Cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4- 1 Cup broth
  • 1 apple (I use Granny Smith because I like how tart it is and the acid keeps it browns slower than other varieties)
  • 1/2 lemon or about 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/3 Cup Crasins
  • Olive oil (about a Tbs)
  • Salt and PepperIMG_2228

Quinoa Salad

Preheat oven to 325º. Spread cashews and almond slices (you could really use any nuts you like, I just happen to enjoy these two) on a baking sheet and toast 10-15 minutes, rotating them every 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. When done, set aside.

While nuts are toasting, take your rinsed quinoa and put it into a medium sized sauce pot. Turn heat to medium-high and toast slightly (you can skip this step, a lot of recipes say you should toast quinoa to bring out flavor, I just think it helps it cook faster), about 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of your cup of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until all water has evaporated. If, when the water is mostly gone, the tendril-like ring has not detached from the quinoa, add the extra 1/4 cup of broth (or more if necessary) until quinoa is tender and tendrils have detached. When done, set aside to cool slightly.

IMG_2244

Chop your apple into 1/2 inch (or whatever size you think is bite appropriate) chunks and place in baggie with lemon juice, shake to coat. This will help your apple from browning as well as providing a nice, fresh flavor.

In medium to large size bowl, combine nuts, quinoa, apple, crasins and a drizzle of olive oil (this is just to keep everything moist and help it stay together, less is more), salt and pepper to taste.

Variations on a theme: try a handful of spinach sauteed with a dash of ground nutmeg or 1/2 cup sweet corn.

This is by far my favorite way to eat quinoa, although I have had some very tasty recipes try to take its place. How do you like your quinoa?

IMG_2304