Thursday, May 31, 2012

Screwdriver Cupcakes

Cooking with alcohol was on the brain over the holiday weekend.  The Bananas Foster pancakes were the first thing.   These cupcakes were the second.  Last year I had seen a book called Booze Cakes  when I was out and about.   Naturally I had to see if the library had that.  They did.  I love the Arapahoe library.   I do.  

I looked in my cabinet, still had some Ketel 1 Oranje.   How fortuitous.   This recipe was meant to be.

The recipe indicated it would make 12 cupcakes.   I ended up getting about 40 mini cupcakes and 6 regular size cupcakes.   Perfect for my sister to take in to her co-workers. 

What You Need

3 eggs
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons orange zest (I zested 2 oranges - no measuring spoon for me)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup orange vodka
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

6 tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons orange juice (used the juice of the two previously zested oranges)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons orange vodka
food color, if you would like to tint the frosting

Flaked coconut and orange sprinkles  

Jenni's Frosting Feedback:  I made the frosting according to the instructions in the recipe and thought it was too thin.  I guess I was envisioning a buttercream that I could pipe, but I don't think that's how it was designed.  I ended up adding another cup (maybe 2) of powdered sugar to the frosting to get it a little fuller.   I would frost the mini cupcake then hold it upside down over the bowl for the excess to drip off.   It has a delicious flavor and I have extra frosting left over for another orange vodka buttercream adventure.  Pondering....pondering. 

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350.  Line cupcake pan with liners.  Lightly spray the inside with cooking spray. 

Beat eggs until foamy.   In a mixing bowl, cream butter, mix in sugar and zest.  Beat in the eggs.
In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl whist together orange juice and vodka.   Add flour and vodka mixtures to the egg/sugar mixture in three alternating additions.  Fold in coconut.  Pour batter into muffin tins (use a spoon for the mini cakes).  

Bake mini-cakes for 10 minutes.   Bake full size cupcakes for 21 minutes. 

For the icing:  In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Mix in vanilla, orange juice, and cream.  Fold in vodka.  Feel free to modify the recipe or maybe use your favorite butter cream recipe with a hint of orange if you'd like it to be more sturdy (based on my amateur experience). 

Garnish frosted cupcakes with coconut and/or orange sprinkles.    Listen to your friends heap compliments on you.

Recipe Source:  Booze Cakes

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lemon Earl Grey Bars

The first time I remember having tea was when my mom took my sister and I to England when I was 8 years old.   We would go on day trips from our home base in Eastbourne.   Every afternoon we'd stop somewhere for tea and dessert.   The focus was on savoring.  Eating your sweets slowly.  Enjoying each bite.  I came home from that trip with my own little metal teapot, sugar dish and tea bag rest.  Little Jenny (I didn't convert to Jenni, with an i, until 4th grade), so grown up with her very own teapot. 

Fast forward and this recipe shows up in Cooking Light.  I've always loved lemon bars and I was intrigued by the addition of tea.   I took these bars to a picnic over the holiday weekend and they were gobbled up quickly.   

What You Need


1 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces

1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3 large eggs

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with foil that extends 2 inches beyond sides; coat foil with cooking spray. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon tea leaves from 1 tea bag (discard remaining tea in bag), and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press into bottom of prepared pan.

Bake at 350° for 19 minutes or until lightly browned.

To prepare filling, place juice in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tea bag to juice; cover and steep 10 minutes. Squeeze juice from tea bag into bowl; discard tea bag. Combine granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Add rind and eggs to juice; stir with a whisk until combined. Add sugar mixture to juice mixture; stir with a whisk until well combined.

Remove crust from oven; pour filling onto hot crust. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan by lifting foil. Remove foil; cut into 16 bars (or smaller so you can share with more people).   Sprinkle bars with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar.

What I Thought
I found that the filling didn't set as much as I thought it would.    Maybe I would bake it a minute or two longer next time.   Not sure if it was the recipe, the Denver altitude, or just me.  Store in the fridge until you serve them. 

Recipe Source:  Cooking Light

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bananas Foster Pancakes

It's a holiday weekend.   Time for being with friends out in the sun, bbq, music fests, and sleeping in.  There should be no guilt.  Especially about cooking with rum at breakfast time.   This was a quick improv on my part using a banana that was about to cross over to the land of banana bread if I didn't do something fast.    Make whatever kind of pancake you'd like.   I used the Krusteaz honey wheat pancake mix.     This recipe made enough to top two servings of pancakes - if you're feeding more, be sure to double up. 

*I was not interested in setting anything on fire, so technically these are bananas foster style pancakes.*

What You Need
1 banana
2 tablespoons rum (I used Captain Morgan)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter/margarine

What You Do
Slice the banana into a small bowl.   Add rum and sugar, stirring to make sure all surfaces of the banana have been covered by the sugar/rum mixture.   Let sit for 20 minutes or so while you enjoy your coffee.   

Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat.   Add banana, sugar, rum mixture and stir occasionally until the banana mixture is heated thoroughly and smells good.   Add an extra splash of rum if you'd like.    If necessary, put a splash in your coffee as well.

Spoon topping over your prepared pancakes.   No additional syrup or topping should be needed.  

As today is Memorial Day, please take a moment to reflect on those who have given their lives so that we have the freedoms we do today.    The reason we're free to live, work and play where we want is due to the sacrifice of those who put the safety and security of the USA first.  Now and throughout history. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Korean Style Beef Tacos

After a good experience with the Thai Beef Taco recipe from Cooking Light, when I saw the Korean Style Beef Taco recipe in the June magazine, I was ready to jump headfirst into another Asian-inspired taco adventure.   I keep some of the basics of Asian cooking on hand, such as soy sauce, fish sauce and chile paste.   Instead of running to the store to buy the condiments I was lacking (such as sesame oil and rice wine vinegar) I used what I had (chile olive oil from Greece and plain white vinegar).   That easily saved me at least five bucks.   The flavors in the marinade and the pickled cabbage will immediately start a party on your tongue.  The marinated steak would also be awesome in stir fry.  Happy dining!

What You Need

Marinated Steak
1/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons lower sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons chile paste (all I know is I bought mine at the H-Mart and the label is in Korean - I use it for any Asian recipe requiring chile paste)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil (I used some chile oil I had instead)
a heaping spoonful of jarred minced garlic (or 4 cloves minced)
12 ounces skirt steak sliced into strips
1/8 teaspoon salt

Quick Pickled Cabbage
3 cups store bought slaw mix with cabbage and carrots (or chop your own cabbage - that's your call)
a not as heaping spoonful of jarred minced garlic (or 2 crushed cloves)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (I used plain white vinegar, since that's what I had on hand)
1 tablespoon sugar.
2 tablespoons chile paste

What You Do

Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish. Add steak to dish; cover. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning after 30 minutes.

Cooking Light Instructions
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove steak from marinade, and discard marinade. Thread steak onto 8 (8-inch) skewers; sprinkle with salt. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Grill tortillas 30 seconds on each side or until lightly charred; keep warm. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates, and divide steak evenly among tortillas. Divide the Quick Pickled Cabbage evenly among tacos.


What I actually did
Preheat your foreman grill in your kitchen.   Put as many slices of beef as will fit comfortably on the grill and cook 1-2 minutes on each side until done.    Use the grill to warm the tortillas as well.   Divide the steak among the tortillas and serve with the pickled cabbage.

How to Make Quick Pickled Cabbage
Place cabbage in a medium bowl with garlic. Bring vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and chile paste to a boil. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cabbage; toss. Let stand at least 30 minutes.

Have you ever had kimchi?
Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish, often made with cabbage.   The quick pickled cabbage become more kimchi-like if you have any leftovers.   Thank you to my resident expert in Korean cuisine for letting me know.   I would have just thought it had more of a kick.       

Recipe Source:  Cooking Light

Monday, May 21, 2012

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

Coconut makes me happy.   The scent of coconut alone reminds me of an early childhood vacation to Florida.   I loved seeing the palm trees way up high and the fallen coconuts on the ground.   The smell of sunscreen also brings me back.   Even now, I associate palm trees with vacation.  Even if I go to a palm-free destination.  Like London.

Every single banana bread recipe that I've tried in Cooking Light has been easy and delicious.   When I have 2-3 bananas that are reaching the point of no return I refer back to a recipe.    All of the bread recipes in Cooking Light seem to call for the use of non-fat plain yogurt.   I don't eat it, I just bake with it.  I don't want to waste it, though.

Did you know that it can be frozen?   I feel like I read that in a nutrition article - to convince you that regular yogurt, frozen, is a viable alternative to highly sugared commercial frozen yogurts and ice creams.   I haven't tried it as a dessert, but I'm game for baking.   I just scooped out the 1/4 cup I needed and it baked just fine, in my opinion.   

It's time.  Get your tropic on while getting ready for work in the morning.   Cue the Jimmy Buffett.

What You Need

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter/margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons dark rum (I used Captain Morgan...some for the bread and some for me)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut


1 tablespoon flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice (I used key lime, in a bottle)

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350°.   Line your 9x5 loaf pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  It makes clean up a breeze.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour (no adjustments for Denver altitude) or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan and peel edges of foil down. 

Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread.
Cool completely on wire rack.    And if you're me, take your warm slice outside to the front yard, bask in the sun, and imagine the palm trees. 

Recipe Source:  Cooking Light

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Salted Peanut Bars

Yesterday's cold, rainy weather lent itself to holing up in the house and not feeling guilty.  Except for when I went to the gym.   Rainy weather shouldn't deter me from fitness, but who am I kidding...sometimes it does.    Now today, we have beautiful weather in Denver - ideal for food photography outside along with a bike ride.   The Bike MS is looming - a little over a month away. Between now and then are my "excused absences" from road biking including a long weekend in Tahoe and mission trip in Missouri.   So the only person who will be hurt if I don't ride every opportunity I have is me.   My butt and legs will blame me each of the 150 miles. 

Now onward to awesome.    The recipe for these bars found their way to my inbox in the past week or so, and I held on to it for a rainy day.  Like yesterday.   Easy to make, and although the recipe said it makes 36 bars, I cut each square into two triangles.   They are very rich, so a little will go a long way.  If you must have two, you must.   It's all good.  

I love dry roasted peanuts which is why this recipe appealed to me.   If you've never mixed them with candy corn for a sweet and salty mix, remember to do it this fall.  Southwest Airlines, one of the few airlines to serve anything (and with a smile!) , serves peanuts on their flights.   And if for some reason there is someone with a strict peanut allergy on the plane, they will give you double crackers instead.   I can't imagine having an allergy, much less one so severe that someone else eating peanuts can require an epi-pen and a visit to the emergency room.  So, if you, or a family member, has this kind of allergy, this recipe is not for you.

The other thing I realized while making this recipe is that there is an overpriced monopoly on peanut butter baking chips.   At the grocery store there was just one choice, Reese's, and it was almost $4 for a 10oz bag.   I was not willing to drive around on a chip hunt, so I sucked it up.

What You Need

1 pouch (1lb 5oz) Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
3 cups mini marshmallows
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter/margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 bag (10oz) peanut butter chips
2 cups crisp rise cereal
2 cups dry roasted peanuts, salted

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350.   Line your 13x9 with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water and egg until soft dough forms.  Press dough in pan using floured fingers.   Bake 15 minutes until set.  Immediately sprinkle marshmallows over crust; bake 1-2 minutes longer until marshmallows begin to puff.

In a 4 quart saucepan, cook corn syrup, butter, vanilla and chips over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted.   Remove from heat; stir in cereal and nuts.   Immediately spoon cereal mixture evenly over marshmallows.  Refrigerate until firm (overnight worked well).   Pull bars out of pan using foil and cut into the shapes of your choosing.   They slice really well when cold. 

Recipe Source:  Betty Crocker

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Last Chance Apple Crisp

When people feel lazy in the kitchen it's easy to look in the cabinet or fridge and emphatically proclaim "There is nothing  to eat!"  For many Americans that is not the case.   We don't want what we have.   We don't want to figure out what to do with what's left.   It's easier to order a pizza or hit the grocery store for what we want at that particular moment.    Today I had that struggle.  I scoped out the kitchen and nothing looked good.    Then I found pancake mix.  Hooray!  Breakfast accomplished.   Around lunch time it happened again.  I had a bowl of cereal.   I snacked on the last broken crackers in the pantry.   Finally my sister told me to do something with the apples in the fruit bowl.  It was the last chance for these poor apples.   We aren't eating them fast enough.  They deserve something better than being thrown in the trash.   

I pulled out a cookbook, flipped to the index, and looked under A.  For apple.  Success!  I found the recipe for "Choose a Fruit Crisp."  Not only did it help me finish up the apples, it also finished up the brown sugar.  And the coconut.  Making something new, and tasty, using what I already had on hand.  

What You Need

6 smallish granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter/margarine
1/4 cup coconut

What You Do

Preheat oven to 375.   Place sliced apples in an ungreased square 2 qt baking dish.  Stir in the granulated sugar.

Make the topping by combining oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg in a small bowl.   With two knives (or a pastry blender), cut in the butter/margarine until it is crumbly.  Stir in coconut.  Sprinkle over apples.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown.   Serve warm.   This was the debut of the new bowls I bought in Turkey.   They make the crisp look especially amazing.

The moral of the story:  It's unlikely there is nothing to eat in your kitchen.   Sometimes it takes a little work and creativity to use up what you have.  When you were little your parent may have told you to eat your dinner because there are starving children in _______ (insert country here).    Food going to waste anywhere is a shame.  If you can't / don't want to eat it, can you give it away?  Make a dish for a family or friend you know?  Freeze it for later?  Create a "last chance" dish of your own today!

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book

Cheesecake Brownies

Kitchen enthusiasts, welcome to another recipe from my Bake MS Campaign.   The Colorado Bike MS is on June 30. The good news is that I've raised $800 so far.  The bad news?   I have not gotten as much time in the saddle so far this spring compared to the other years I've done this event.    Today was a little cool and very overcast, but I couldn't come up with an excuse that would justify not getting on my bike.    My friend Sarah made a donation to my ride during lent when she had given up sweets.   And then I went to Greece.   Finally, the time was nigh to make sure that I baked her thank you gift!

What You Need

1 package fudge brownie mix (family size for a 13x9 pan - and the eggs, oil and water that the box calls for)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (to go in the brownie batter for additional chocolatey goodness)
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter/margarine, softened
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

drizzle:  1/2 cup chocolate chips and a drizzle of vegetable oil

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350.

Line your 13x9 pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.   Prepare brownie mix per box instructions, stir the 1/2 cup chocolate chips into the batter just for fun.   Spread brownie batter in the pan.   

Make the cheesecake layer by beating cream cheese, butter and cornstarch until fluffy.  Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk.   Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.   Pour cheesecake mixture evenly over brownie batter.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned.   Cool.

I chilled mine in the pan overnight and then sliced them up the next day.   To make the drizzle, combine the chocolate chips and oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat on low until just melted.   Stir until smooth then drizzle away.   Store bars in the fridge.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lemon Pound Cake

Sometimes I bake for the sake of  baking.   And sometimes it's for a purpose.   I feel less guilty making sweet treats when I know they are destined for someone else.   It removes some of the temptation from my path.   Today at the gym my trainer asked what I was having for lunch after the work out.   I said that I didn't know.  He said that it was a good question that deserved an answer.   I deliberately misheard "desserts are the answer" and said he was right.   But I had deli chicken on a mini wheat bagel and carrots with homemade hummus instead.  

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago in an email and was holding on to it for the right occasion.    And the birthday of my friend and co-worker was the right occasion.   This cake is delicious with a kick of lemon and not too sweet.    Have a slice and enjoy.

What You Need

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 6 tablespoons lemon juice (I bought two mammoth lemons at the store and was good to go)
6 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup plain full fat greek yogurt
1 cup powdered sugar

What You Do

Heat oven to 325° F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Add half the flour mixture, then the yogurt, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not overmix).  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes (Colorado time was closer to 75 minutes). Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn it out* onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of the remaining lemon juice.  I used my electric beaters for ease and to eliminate any lumps.   Add additional juice if needed to get the glaze to a thick, but drizzle-worthy consistency. 

*The flaw in my design For reasons unknown to me, the cake would not come out of the pan.    So the whole "turn it out onto a wire rack" never really happened.    I sliced large sections and took them individually from the pan, sliced them smaller and then drizzled the glaze.  

Recipe Source: Real Simple

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chai Banana Bread

One of the things I like about Sunflower Market is the ability to buy things from the bulk bins.   It could be enough cherry yogurt pretzels for a roadtrip.   Or the 3/4 teaspoon of cardamom that I needed to try this recipe.   Spices are expensive and I don't want to buy a whole container if I'm not going to use them regularly.   So I put what I needed into a little baggy and off I went.  

If chai isn't your thing, try this classic banana bread recipe instead.  If chai is your thing, get baking.   You'll devour this in no time!

What You Need

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3)
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
Cooking spray
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons skim milk

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended. Add sugars; beat at medium just until blended.  Spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Combine flour, soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.

Combine cardamom and next 3 ingredients. Stir 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture and 1 teaspoon vanilla into batter. Pour into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray (I always line my pan with foil and spray the foil - no cleanup!). Bake at 350° for 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan; cool.

Optional icing (I didn't do it, but it sounds good):  Combine remaining spice mixture, remaining vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk. Drizzle over bread.

Recipe Source:  Cooking Light
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