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Chai Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

February 28, 2015

I love my book club. We rotate around to people’s houses and get together every few weeks to talk about a new book over food and laughter. It is always a most excellent way to spend an evening. Our latest hosts cooked up an Indian feast, so I decided to try my hand at some chai-inspired cupcakes. These spicy little cakes are balanced out by a delicious cream cheese frosting (plus a surprise filling)!

20150130 Chai Cupcake 04

You will need:

  • 2 t ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1/8 t ground black pepper
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 2/3 c milk
  • 8 oz light cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • OPTIONAL: caramel sauce (I picked up a 10 oz Fleur de Sel version from Trader Joe’s)

20150130 Chai Cupcake 02

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add paper liners to a tray for 12 cupcakes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon with the ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream 1/2 of the butter into the granulated sugar.
  4. Mix in the egg and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla until well combined and fluffy.
  5. Mix in the salt, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture.
  6. Mix in the flour and the milk, alternating between the two. Stir just until combined.
  7. Fill each cupcake cup 2/3s full of batter.
  8. Bake 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden. A toothpick or tester in the middle should come out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the cupcake tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. In a stand mixer or using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese with the remaining 1/2 cup of butter.
  12. Beat in the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/4 t of the chai mixture and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  13. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar on low speed until combined. Then increase the speed to medium until fluffy and smooth.
  14. OPTIONAL: Use a cupcake or apple corer to remove a small part of the top of the cupcake. Fill with the caramel sauce.
  15. Frost the cupcakes as liberally as desired.
  16. Share with friends (and there will be no leftovers)!
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Slow Cooker Spicy Pork Ramen

February 21, 2015

20150209 Ramen

D and I decided to make this for a cool night. We love using our slow cooker, because then you have dinner ready when you come home from work. This is fun and spicy and delicious!

You will need:

  • 2-3 lb pork butt
  • 2 T Chinese five spice seasoning
  • 1 t black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 t salt, divided
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 4 T sesame oil, divided
  • 2 T chili paste (sambal oelek or sriracha)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c water
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 6 T rice vinegar, divided
  • 5 T brown sugar, divided
  • 4 c broth of your choice (recommend low or no salt)
  • 1 c chopped carrots
  • 1 lb butternut squash, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 T plus 1 t curry powder
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • ~6-10 oz fresh ramen noodles

Then you will…

  1. In a small bowl, combine the Chinese five spice seasoning with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.
  2. Spread the spice mixture on the pork.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet.
  4. Add the pork and brown on all sides. Turn off the heat.
  5. Place the pork in your slow cooker.
  6. In the same skillet, heat two tablespoons of the sesame oil with the chili paste until fragrant.
  7. Add the onion, tomato, ginger and garlic. Saute until the onions are starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  8. Put the onion-tomato mixture into a food processor and pulse until blended.
  9. Add the water, lime juice, three tablespoons of the rice vinegar, and a tablespoon of the brown sugar to the food processor and pulse a few more times.
  10. Pour the mixture over the pork.
  11. Pour the broth over the pork.
  12. Add the carrots to the slow cooker and give it a quick stir.
  13. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours.
  14. Remove the pork from the slow cooker, shred and set aside.
  15. Stir the mushrooms into the broth. Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour.
  16. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  17. Pour the squash in a 9×13 baking dish.
  18. Top with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
  19. Stir to mix and place in the preheated oven.
  20. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until roasted and tender.
  21. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of sesame oil over medium heat.
  22. Add the shredded pork to the skillet.
  23. In a small bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar with the soy sauce, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
  24. Pour over the pork and stir to coat.
  25. Allow the pork to crisp up on one side, about 3-5 minutes. Stir and allow the pork to continue to crisp, another 3-5 minutes.
  26. Remove from heat, but keep the pork warm.
  27. Add the ramen noodles to the slow cooker and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes.
  28. Stir half of the pork into the slow cooker broth.
  29. Put some of the butternut squash in the bottom of a bowl. Top with the mushroom broth and noodles.
  30. Add more crispy pork, scallions and any other topics you desire (we like a fried egg!).
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Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

February 15, 2015

This is based on ingredients that I have in my pantry on most days. It is easy to mix together and goes great with your favorite ice cream (or on its own)!

You will need:

  • 8 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 c old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c dark chocolate chunks

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Mix in the baking soda, salt, nutmeg, oats and flour.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
  6. Spread in the prepared dish.
  7. Bake 18-23 minutes or until just turning golden and set in the middle.
  8. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from baking dish and allow to cool at least another 5 minutes before eating.

20150127 Chocolate Chunk Bars

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Hot Honey Spiced Milk

February 10, 2015

20150126 Hot Milk

When I lived in Germany, there was an excellent tapas bar next door to my apartment building. One of my favorite after dinner drink was Heisse Milch mit Honig or hot milk with honey. It was slightly sweet and the perfect way to wind down the night. This is my take on the drink. Try it out as an alternative to cocoa! This recipe makes two servings.

You will need:

  • 2 c milk
  • 3 T honey
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • Dash of ground ginger
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves

Then you will…

  1. Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. Warm over medium low heat until hot.
  3. Serve with cookies!
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Fresh Arugula Pasta

February 4, 2015

I have fuzzy memories of making pasta with my parents¬† when I was little using a hand-cranked pasta machine. I remember it being a messy and laughter-filled affair. D and I really enjoy fresh pasta, but we usually pick some up from one of the farmers’ markets. Sometimes though, we will make some at home on the weekend.

20150118 Arugula Pasta 01

You will need:

  • 5 oz fresh arugula
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 1 t ground basil
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 3 1/2 c flour

20150118 Arugula Pasta 02

Then you will…

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil
  2. Blanch the arugula for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out the excess water.
  3. In a small food processor, combine the arugula with the eggs, salt, pepper, basil and garlic. Pulse just until mixed.
  4. Put the flour on a large, clean mixing surface like a cutting board or counter.
  5. Make a well in the middle and pour the egg mixture into the well.
  6. Use a fork to begin mixing the flour into the egg mixture.
  7. When it starts to form a dough, switch to your hands. Knead until the flour is incorporated.
  8. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Form into pasta shape of your choice. You can roll it thin and cut into long noodles like linguine or pappardelle; alternatively you can use a pasta maker to make bucatini, macaroni and more! I use a little cornmeal to keep the fresh pasta from sticking.
  10. Allow to dry for at least an hour before cooking.
  11. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  12. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, about the point where the pasta rises to the top of the pot.
  13. Serve with your favorite sauce.

20150118 Arugula Pasta 03

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Blueberry Coffee Cake

January 28, 2015

This recipe comes from my middle school cooking class.  I have made a few tweaks over the years to tone down the sweetness and let the blueberries shine through all the better. It makes a great addition to any weekend.

20150118 Blueberry Coffee Cake 02

You will need:

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries or 2 c frozen (thawed and drained)

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 of cold butter (cut into small pieces) with the brown sugar, oats, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and nutmeg. I recommend using your fingers to mix the ingredients together into a crumbly meal. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the sugar, salt, baking powder, the remaining teaspoon, ginger and cloves.
  4. Melt the remaining butter and mix it into the flour mixture.
  5. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until just combined.
  6. Fold in the blueberries.
  7. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

20150118 Blueberry Coffee Cake 01

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Pizza Bread

January 22, 2015

20150101 Pizza Bread

This dish reminds me of monkey bread, since the small pieces of pizza bread can be easily pulled apart. We served this as part of a potluck dinner on New Year’s Eve.

You will need:

  • 1 can of refrigerated biscuits, each biscuit cut into quarters
  • 2 c shredded Italian cheese
  • 2 t dried basil
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 jar (14 oz) pizza sauce

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cut biscuits with cheese, basil, oregano, garlic and olive oil.
  3. Spread the mixture in a 9×13 baking dish and dot with the pizza sauce.
  4. Bake 25-35 minutes or until the biscuits are cooked through and golden.

 

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