Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I came across this recipe for salted caramel cupcakes and knew I had to make them. I typically don't bake, so this had to be cheater style. It was super easy with minimal measuring. They came out very moist, rich, and sweet. When I make the next batch, I'm going to up the salt a bit though some at work thought it was perfect the way it was. The original recipe comes from http://www.joyshope.com/.

By the way, "salted caramel" is a little misleading; it's very caramely, and the sea salt just emphasizes the caramel taste. It's not at all salty if that was scaring you.

Salted Caramel Cupcake
One box chocolate cake mix and ingredients to make it (I used Devils Food)
Sea salt
3-5 Skor or Heath bars
1 jar caramel ice cream topping (or make your own, if you're that kind of person)
Your favorite vanilla icing (homemade or storebought - I used cream cheese)
Squeeze bottle

Bake the cupcakes according to the package directions. When the cupcakes are almost done, pour the jar of caramel into a glass measuring bowl (since it has a ridge that makes it easy to pour from) and add 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt for every 8 ounces of caramel. Warm in the microwave for 1 minute then stir. Pour the caramel/salt mixture into the squeeze bottle.

As soon as the cupcakes finish, inject caramel into the center of each. Move them to a cooling rack.

While they are cooling, smash the candy bars into tiny pieces. I enjoyed putting them in a ziplock and beating them with a rolling pin.

Once cooled, top them with frosting and sprinkle the candy bar pieces over top. Drizzle leftover caramel over top of each of them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweet Sausage Rolls (aka Sinful Bites of Joy)

These are very very bad for you but oh so delicious. A week or so ago, I was looking for things to make for the church-wide Children's Sabbath breakfast and came across these nuggets of goodness. Made a few pans, tried one (okay, more than one), and carted them to church. They were gone before anything else.

They are ridiculously easy. The recipe I found called them Sweet Sausage Rolls but they should be renamed Sinful Bites of Joy. You'll know why when you try them. The dough soaks up the sugar/butter mixture and the chopped pecans stick to the bottom. It's salty. It's sweet. It's crunchy. Try them!

Sinful Bites of Joy
1 tube crescent rolls
24 little smokies
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

Unroll crescent dough and separate into triangles; cut each lengthwise into three triangles. Place a smokie on the long end and roll up tightly; set aside.

Combine the melted butter and other ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour it into the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9x13 glass dish). Arrange smokie rolls, seam side down, in butter mixture. Bake uncovered, at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 2 dozen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grilled Naan Bread "Pizza" with Mango Chutney, Prosciutto and Ricotta

This is another Aarti recipe - I really love Indian flavors, and have invested in LOTS of Indian spices, and since Aarti usually makes traditional food with an Indian twist, it doesn't feel like we're eating Indian food every night. Case in point, this yummy pizza. The recipe below is with my changes.

With the creation of my incredibly awesome new HEB, I once again have regular access to great ethnic foods. Yes, I could have driven to Central Market but it just never happens. Plus that place is a madhouse! I spotted the naan bread and the prosciutto on my first visit to HEB. Priorities, you know... Kroger doesn't carry either item. Though they might now that HEB is in town. My local Kroger has renovated completely and added a sushi bar to compete. Sorry, Kroger, not gonna work on me.

This was super easy - start to finish, 20 minutes? HEB is lacking one thing - paneer cheese. So instead I went with ricotta, and it was delicious. Jason has never had paneer so I need to find some soon and let him try it. In the meantime, this pizza could use a variety of cheeses on it (feta would be good, too, but Jason hates it). You could also try a variety of toppings. We both really liked it. Very flavorful and a nice change from a strictly tomato based pizza.

Grilled Naan Bread "Pizza"
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons sweet mango chutney
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (for a kick!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
A glug extra-virgin olive oil
4 pieces of naan bread 
4 slices prosciutto, diced

Preheat your grill.

In a small saucepan, combine the tomato paste, mango chutney, minced garlic, and water over medium heat, until well combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes and then remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the mozzarella, ricotta, cayenne, cilantro, ground cumin and extra-virgin olive oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Divide the tomato-mango chutney sauce evenly among the naans, spreading to coat the top. Evenly divide the cheese mixture among the naans and then add the chopped prosciutto. Throw it on the grill for 3-4 minutes until the crust is crispy around the edges.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Syrup (for Pumpkin Spice Latte)

I did not take a picture of the syrup because, honestly, I had no decent container to put it in. I can point you to the blog that I found the recipe on - she has a great photo of it: http://cooklikeachampion.blogspot.com/2010/09/pumpkin-spice-syrup-for-pumpkin-spice.html

In case you didn't know, I really love coffee. A lot. And I really love Starbucks. A lot. I count down the days until the pumpkin spice latte hits the stores and try to justify the $5 pricetag as many times as I can until it goes away for the year. This syrup may be the key to suddenly having a lot of extra money in the bank - it's so.good. And, since it's homemade, I know what's in it.

I made the syrup in about 10 minutes using stuff I already had in the house (I try to always have canned pumpkin on hand for the dogs - though I admit it's hard to find the stuff right now!). When it was done, I made myself a pumpkin spice latte. Well, as good as I could make without an espresso machine. I used one of my dark, bold KCups and brewed it on the 'iced coffee' setting, which is really concentrated. I poured that into a glass with warmed nonfat milk and about 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin spice syrup. It was very similar to the deliciousness that is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. So similar that I'm fighting the urge to drink 10 more tonight.

If you have an espresso machine, will you invite me over? I'll bring the syrup.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons pumpkin purée

In a small pot over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the remaining ingredients. Allow to cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not boil. Strain mixture using cheesecloth or a tea towel. Pour into a small (8-10 ounce) bottle and store in the refrigerator.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, simply add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of syrup for each shot of espresso.

For an iced latte, stir together syrup and espresso before adding desired amount of cold milk.

For a hot latte, add frothed milk and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mushroom Bolognese

This recipe is from the October Cooking Light. It's interesting how the mushrooms take on the same features of a ground beef/pork, especially when you dice it small and cook it down. It was hearty, flavorful, and rich - very good with a little parmesan cheese and whole wheat noodles. This was a low calorie meal, too.

Mushroom Bolognese
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 pound ground pork
8 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup whole milk
10 ounce uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Combine porcini and boiling water in a bowl; cover and let stand 20 minutes or until soft. Drain porcini in a colander lined with a paper towel over a bowl, reserving liquid. Rinse and chop porcini.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and pork; cook 10 minutes or until pork is browned, stirring to crumble pork. Add cremini mushrooms, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 15 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add porcini; cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add reserved porcini liquid and wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes as necessary. Stir in milk; cook 2 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon salt to cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce; top with cheese and parsley.

Chili (with Bison and Beans)


Since the temperature dropped below 90, I decided it was time to have a bowl of chili. Jason and I are both counting calories these days so I went to the token healthy chef on Food Network, Ellie Krieger, for a recipe. Her three bean and beef chili had great reviews and was low calorie. She uses finely chopped vegetables and beans and just a little bit of meat. Certainly not a "Texas Chili" but very good nevertheless.

I somehow decided to make things more difficult for myself and bought dry beans instead of canned; this worked okay, I just had to boil and soak them a day ahead of time and increase the cooking time. In the future, I'll be back to canned.

We opted to use ground bison instead of beef this time.

Chili with Bison and Beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
2 carrots, diced (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (90 percent lean)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Source: Ellie Krieger (includes nutritional info)

Lasagna Rolls

I was watching Fine Living Network one day and saw a quick "how to" on making a lasagna roll. I decided it had to be easier than making lasagna and I needed to try it! Now, I cheated a bit for the sake of time. I purchased a jar marinara sauce to use and made the filling myself. This made it quick and cut down on the pots used.

We both really liked it; it tasted like traditional lasagna but was prettier on the plate - not to mention the portion control was easier!

The ricotta mixture is from Giada.

Lasagna Rolls
2 cups (or so) marinara sauce
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (I used microwave bacon)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, bacon, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Ladle some marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.


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