Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ciao, 2011- it's been real. Let's go out with a bang... and a super moist chocolate cake!

Well, another year over. 2011 has come to a close and with less than 24 hours left of this nutty year, we wanted to send you off properly... with the most moist, rich, delicious, sweet and overall decadent chocolate cake you will ever have (no matter what year it is). Topped with a butterscotch buttercream, this cake delivers in all things rich and guilty. Before we wash our slate's clean, let's dirty it up one more time with this cake ;)

Here's to hoping you bring closure to 2011 and embrace a new year with love, health, happiness... and perhaps a cupcake recipe or a new dish that keeps you open minded both in the kitchen, and in life.

Cheers!!! Here's to 2012 and another year of Gourmet Pantry delicious-ness!



Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant coffee
pinch salt
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375F and spray your cake pan REALLY WELL- this moist cake will stick like whoa, you may even want to line it with sprayed parchment paper if you have any (although I didn't and it came out fine, but next time I make this I might do that).

In a large bowl, sift your dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee, salt, baking powder & baking soda. Mix & sift well. 

In a bowl of your stand mixer or hand held mixer, gently combine the eggs, sugar, oil, extract, and milk. Once combined, add the dry ingredients a bit at a time to slowly incorporate. Lastly, add the sour cream and beat until your creamy batter has been formed and all lumps are gone. Pour into your cake or cupcake pans and bake (20-25 minutes for a cake, 15 for cupcakes or until your toothpick comes out clean).

*This recipe make 1 small cake and 48 mini cupcakes as I did, or 2 large cakes for layering. It makes a lot of batter, so be prepared!*

Butterscotch Buttercream:

1 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup butterscotch morsels, melted
1/4 cup milk

In your mixer, whip the butter with 1 cup confectioner's sugar until incorporated. Add the melted (but cooled) butterscotch, and add milk and remaining confectioner's sugar... alternating until your frosting is fully whipped and combined. Will be a very light brown/beige color. Gorgeous!!!

Frost cakes and cupcakes ones cooled completely, this moist cake really needs to be cool before pouring anything onto it, otherwise it will break. Now, time to serve..... and indulge :)




Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tilapia Tacos - less calories, but all the flavor!!!

Let's just say that this holiday season was filled with culinary indulgences (future recipes and posts to follow from said meals).

If you, like us, are finding yourselves in need of a bit of a diet detox, look no further. I really couldn't get over how flavorful this dish came out, and couldn't resist sharing it with you all. It is beyond easy, as it takes less than 20 minutes to prepare, and absolutely insanely tasty. Did I say that already? Well, it is.

Feel free to substitute the salsa, and I use whole wheat pita pockets instead of wraps or tortillas. This basic recipe can be altered to your taste, and makes a perfect hearty week night meal!




Tilapia Tacos

Ingredients:
1 lb tilapia filets (usually 4 medium sized filets, available at every grocery store that has a descent seafood section)
1 lime, zest & juice
1 tbsp butter
whole wheat pita pockets or mini wraps
mango salsa (I used a store bought kind from Whole Foods, all it contains if you wish to make your own is: diced mangoes, pineapples, red bell pepper, jicama, & sea salt)
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1 -2 tsp cayenne

First, preheat the oven to 375F and spray your baking pan with non stick spray. Place the filets evenly in your pan, season with salt pepper, zest & juice of the lime, and a tiny pad of butter on top of each filet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until finished (browns a little on the sides and top).
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the sour cream & cayenne pepper thoroughly.
In another bowl, mix together your mango salsa.

Let the tilapia cool, assemble and serve!
*Fun for a crowd & for a family, as you can assemble your own taco!


(the sour cream, served on the side)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Devil's food Whiskey cupcakes

Yes, I said it, Whiskey Cupcakes.

And yes, we apologize for the lack of postings lately- the holidays are upon us and we have been so busy cooking & baking we have barely had time to write it all down!

This recipe will make up for that. With all these holiday parties, we know you want to bring a snack that packs a punch. Let's just say the evening I served these cupcakes, we were all hurtin' the next morning due to the intense level of partying.

Ok, maybe the cupcakes weren't the cause of the hangovers (maybe it was the actual shots of Jameson?). I digress. These Devil's Food Whiskey Cupcakes are perfect for your next big night out on the town. Indulge a little, 'tis the season!

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee
2 eggs
1 cup milk, full fat or 1%

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a mixer, cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy, roughly 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift your dry ingredients together in a bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa powder, and instant coffee. Next, add the eggs 1 at a time to the creamed sugar. Now, slowly add the dry ingredients while alternating with the milk. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your cupcakes and strength of your oven.

Frosting:
2-3 cups conf sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup whiskey (the better the whiskey, the better the flavor as it is NOT cooked out)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels, melted

Melt the chocolate morsels until smooth. Let it cool while you whip the butter & sugar together. As the butter & sugar whips, add the whiskey. Keep adding sugar until it hits your desired consistency. I like mine a bit thicker, so I only used 2 cups. Want less whiskey flavor? Add less whiskey. Add the melted chocolate once at room temp, mix, frost, serve!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cinnamon Coffee Cake with a Tangy Cranberry swirl

I had a ton of my home-made Orange Cranberry sauce left over from cooking a second Thanksgiving meal! As I stared at a full jar of the striking red liquid velvet, I had an epiphany! I LOVE coffee cake and I LOVE Cranberry sauce. Why not bring the two together! And thus was born the Cinnamon Coffee Cake with a Tangy Cranberry swirl!

Ingredients for the cake
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
Ingredients for Orange Cranberry Sauce
  • I packet of fresh Cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3-4 tbsp of sugar (adjust the quantity based on how sweet or tart you want the sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). I used muffin pans to bake individual sized cakes, just line the muffin pan with a square of butter paper
  2. First make the sauce. In a large pot, pour the orange juice and cranberries and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Once the cranberries begin to pop, add the sugar and cinnamon and cook until the cranberries are mushy
  3. I don't like a chunky sauce, so I blend the cranberry mixture with a hand held blender and then filter through a sieve for a thick velvety texture. Set aside to cool
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the almond extract. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream
  5. Now start layering the muffin moulds. With a large spoon first put a layer of the dough, then add a tbsp of the cranberry sauce onto the batter and swirl with a toothpick/knife.Repeat until the mould is full, ending with the batter on top
  6. Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown/ or passes the knife test
  7. Remove and let the cakes cool completely on a cooling rack
  8. Mix 1/4 cup of powdered sugar with 2 tbsps of fresh orange juice to make a glaze
  9. Drizzle the glaze on the cooled cake and de-vour!







These make a great home-made holiday gift too! Why wouldn't anyone like a soft, moist, tangy and sweet concoction as a gift?

Friday, December 9, 2011

One Bite Cinnabon Cookies

It's a Cinnamon roll, it's a spiced cookie....No...It's a mini Cinnabon Cookie! Genius!
Fan mail can be sent to: abiteofheaven@inyourmouth.com



Ingredients:
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (1 ¼ cups)
4 oz softened cream cheese
3 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 tsp. dry active yeast
1 cup granulated sugar
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp Orange Zest (secret ingredient!!)
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ Tb. cinnamon
3 Tb. whole milk
1 cup powdered sugar

  • Mix 2 tsp. vanilla extract with 1 tsp. of dry active yeast
  • Cream the butter, cream cheese, vanilla with yeast, and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy—2-3 minutes
  • Turn the mixer on low. Add the salt, orange zest, then slowly add the flour. Scrape the bowl and mix until well combined
  • Press the dough into a flat disk. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for (at least) 30 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl
  • Flour a piece of wax paper and roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately ¼ inch thick (you can work in batches of dough to make it easier)
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough. Starting on the cinnamon covered side, carefully roll the dough tightly toward the other edge.
  • Press the seam firmly, then cut the roll into 1/3-1/2 inch slices and lay on lined cookie sheets
  • Repeat with the remaining dough and cinnamon sugar
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes
  • Cool completely. Then whisk the powdered sugar, milk and remaining vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Dip the face of each cookie into the glaze and set on a rack to dry

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Braised Salmon with Dill & Leeks in a Tomato Red Pepper Sauce

Easiest. Gourmet. Dish. I made this for a friend for Thanksgiving because he does not eat Turkey and let me tell you, there was not one flake of fish left on the platter! Tangy, fresh and velvety, this Salmon dish looks and taste completely gourmet but takes all of 15 minutes to make!!

1 fillet of Salmon (or 2! Just double the rest of the ingredients below as well)
1 Leek, thinly sliced (discard the green part)
1/2 cup dry White Wine
1/2 cup Tomato Red Pepper soup (I used this, because I had some left over from the other day, and also because I don't like chunks of tomato in my food! But you can definitely use just chopped tomato OR tomato sauce)
2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup of fresh Dill


1. In a hot skillet, add Olive Oil and garlic and saute until lightly brown
2. Now add the Leeks and saute until translucent
3. Add the soup, salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 2 minutes
4. Now add your fish and cook for an additional 2 minutes
5. Finally pour the White Wine in the skillet, sprinkle the Dill over the fish and bring to a low simmer
6. Now cover the skillet and cook for another 7 minutes or until fish is flaky



Once ready, sprinkle some more fresh Dill over the fish and serve alongside our homemade butterhorns! Perfect for sopping up that yummy sauce!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Simple Oatmeal Raisin Mini Muffins

Well it's about that time of the week, where you just really NEED it to be Friday but it isn't. You know tomorrow will be a rough day and you're going to need a power snack to get you through it. This simple muffin recipe is amazingly low maintenance, and doesn't even require a mixer, hand held or any other kind. A bowl and a spoon will work just fine. I am counting on these to power me through the remainder of the week. I know you've got all these ingredients on hand. You can use this simple base recipe, and add just about any combo of flavors, dried fruits, nuts, spices, etc. I made them in mini muffin tins, but you can use regular sized tins, as well. Go ahead, play with your food!

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup oats
2 tsps baking powder
1/3 cup raisins

Start. as always, be preheating the oven. 425F. Line the cupcake tins.
In a small bowl, soak the oats in the milk for 10-15 minutes or until the milk is fully absorbed by the oats.
In another bowl, whisk the egg, oil, and vanilla extract.
In a 3rd bowl, sift the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and raisins to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, along with the oatmeal mixture. Mix with a large spoon just to combine and form dough. Fill the tins 3/4 the way, bake 10-12 minutes (for mini, double the time for larger muffin tins) and serve nice & hot with a cup of apple cider, or at room temp the next day for a power snack! Yumm!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cranberry Ginger Quinoa & Beef 'Stew-Fry'

This cranberry craze isn't going away anytime soon... or at least until this massive box of dried cranberries is gone from my pantry. Paired it with some quinoa and a few shreds of beef--- and voila---- a healthy comforting dinner that is sure to satisfy you even on the coldest (or warmest, lately) winter nights! Note: Quinoa is a grain but super high in both protein and fiber, so amazingly good for you and you can cook this and eat it with just about anything. Think of it as a blank slate guilt free carb! Want to make the vegetarian version? Use vegetable stock & double up on the veggies vs the beef, it's all good! This recipe is dubbed a "stew-fry" because it is not rally fried, and certainly not as thick or fatty as most stews. But the flavor, oh it's still there. Enjoy!!

Cranberry Ginger Quinoa & Beef Stew-Fry

1/2 lb beef stew chunks (pre-cut from the grocery store)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1/3 cup red wine, whatever you have will work just fine
1/4 cup unsalted beef stock (for the stew-fry) + 1 cup beef stock (for quinoa)
salt & pepper
ground ginger
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup water

Start by soaking the quinoa in a bowl of cold water for 5-10 minutes. This rinses off some tart residue for later. In a small-medium sauce pan, add 1 cup beef stock with 1/2 cup water. Then, add the 1 cup of quinoa (rinsed and dried). Add dried cranberries, a pinch of salt, pepper, and ginger and let cook the way you would any rice or grain.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, add a touch of olive oil, and the diced onions & carrots. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and ginger. Let them cook until translucent, roughly 5-10 minutes. Then, add the shreds of beef stew and sprinkle with more salt, pepper, and ginger. Add the red wine, and let the alcohol cook out for about 30 seconds (it will sizzle a LOT at first, then calm down). Then, add the beef stock, lower the heat & cover. Let cook until the beef is cooked through (will be firm to the touch in the middle). When quinoa is finished, serve it up and devour.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Homemade Dinner rolls, Butterhorns, Cresecent rolls! Call 'em what you want!

Either way you slice/dice it, the fact is they are super flaky, buttery and the perfect vehicle to sop up the yummy left over pasta sauce, gravy or curry left on your dinner plate.

And as we mentioned in this post, we are almost always going to make our own bread from now on! Because its easy, fun, exciting, inexpensive and delicious! These rolls require very little effort, a cold rise overnight and a big appetite once they are golden brown out of the oven!


This recipe makes 32 rolls, I did not bake all that many, instead I froze half the dough for a rainy day

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you might need a bit more to add towards the end, depending on how sticky your dough turns out)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
1. First prepare the yeast by dissolving it in 1 teaspoon sugar and warm water. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine shortening and milk. Heat until shortening is melted; set aside to cool.
2.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt together. Add the cooled milk mixture and yeast to the eggs, and combine well to blend in all the ingredients.
3. Now add your dry ingredients: sift in the flour and baking powder in, and mix well. At this point you may feel your dough is too sticky to combine together. If so, add a little more flour so the dough is not sticking to your hands.
Once combined, cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
4. Next morning, remove the dough and divide it into quarters (I froze 2 quarters of dough to use another day). On a well floured surface, roll out the quarter to a 1/2 thick disc. Now cut the disc into 8 triangles. Spread the softened butter onto the surface of the dough.
** You can actually stuff these rolls with any number of fillings: Try a Garlic Herb Butter, Cranberry and Goat Cheese spread, or even sauteed onions, green peppers and sausages for a more savory take.

5. Roll each triangle from the larger to the pointy side, and transfer the roll on the baking sheet, with the pointy side down.
6. Once the baking sheet is lined with all your rolls, cover once again with plastic wrap. Now let it rise (it will double in size!) for another 3-4 hours.



7. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top!

 














Your dinner rolls are ready to be consumed! Make a breakfast sandwich with some scrambled eggs and cheese or enjoy as is with a cup of delicious coffee! Dinner rolls = happiness!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pantry Pot Pies: Cranberry & Cinnamon



As our pantry cleanse continues… we GOTS-TO get rid of all these Thanksgiving leftover ingredients before they go bad! Fresh cranberries being ‘Numero Uno’ on my list. They last for a while in the ‘fridge, but now they are reaching expiration and must be used. I always have some ready-made store bought piecrusts in the freezer. These are cheap, freeze beautifully, and everyone has got some leftover piecrust after these gluttonous days. This recipe makes the most delicious, individually indulged pies that you will ever whip up. Basic ingredients go a long way here, folks. They provide just the right amount of an afternoon snack at work to bring you back to your couch for a few minutes in the midst of a rough day post holiday time. Place in airtight containers and enjoy for up to 1 week.

Ingredients:

1 package store bought pie crust (need 2 sheets of crust)
1 quart fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup water
3 tsp cornstarch + ¼ cup water
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup milk (for coating)
sugar for dusting

Begin by preheating the oven to 450F. In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, sugar, ¼ cup water, orange zest, vanilla, and brown sugar and turn on medium-low heat. Mix well as it begins to cook down, but don’t let it boil or burn. Cook until the cranberries begin to soften and release their tart-y juicy goodness. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl dissolve the cornstarch in remaining ¼ cup water. Add mixture to the cranberries and let cook down for roughly 15 minutes until it is nice and thick- pie like filling consistency. Let it cool thoroughly before you put the pies together. While they cool--- roll out your pie crust dough. Most store bought pie crust comes 2-in-1. Roll out the first on a floured surface, and place 2 tbsp of pie filling, each about 2 inches from another to leave room for cutting and sealing. As if you were making raviolis! Once you have put the pie filling on the crust, take the second piecrust and roll it out, and place carefully upon the topped crust. Seal the edges with your fingers and leave about ½ -1 inch between the filling and edge of the dough so you know where to cut, and to leave some room for it to bake. Slice the edges with a knife, and pinch the corners together and round them up with your fingers. This takes a few minutes but it is SO worth the effort. See pic below for pre-baked pies. Shape them however you like! Next time I fully intend to use cookie cutters to make fun festive shapes!



In a small bowl, pour the milk and use a pastry brush or simply a paper towel to coat the pies, and dust with sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until your piecrust is browned on the edges. Let cool or enjoy nice and hot out of the oven!!



Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Corn Pudding, it's Corn Bread. It's Delicious!

Creamed Corn and Jalapeno Bread

2 boxes of Corn Bread Mix (Post Thanksgiving, almost everyone has leftover corn bread mix! If not, it's 99 cents a box!)
3 Eggs
2/3 cup of 2% milk (you can use whole milk if you want it to be richer!)
1 can of Creamed Corn (Unsalted)
3 Jalapeno Pepper, remove the seeds and finely dice
handful of chopped Chives (or Rosemary or Thyme! Whichever flavor you like most!)
1 teaspoon of finely grated ginger
1/2 cup of sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated (you can avoid this all together, for a less dense bread)
                                                                    Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, milk, creamed corn and salt/pepper and mix to combine. Now add the dry ingredients, Corn Bread mix, chopped jalapenos, chives, ginger and cheddar cheese. Mix well to avoid any lumps.
Pour the mixture in a well greased baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes or until you pass the knife test!

Voila!

Creamy, moist, sweet and spicy Corn Bread is ready to be devoured!

This the easiest recipe and you can jazz it up any way you want. Add sauteed onions and mushrooms or green peppers and your favorite sausage for a heartier bite!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sticky, Sweet and Saucy....Better-than-Ketchup Onion Marmalade!

Who does not like a nice juicy burger with all the gourmet fixings, for a weeknight dinner!? Who out there likes their burgers with just some wilted lettuce and a sorry slice of tomato? No Sir, that's NO WAY to eat a burger!

A perfectly cooked burger (in this case, it was a delicious Jalapeno Cumin Turkey Burger!) must be serenaded with all the fancy fixings you can gather. And making them at home, with ingredients from your pantry only makes it that much more special!

So, today we whipped up a sticky delicious Rosemary Onion Marmalade for our burgers! So simple to make and it's amazingly caramelized flavor will jazz up any burger like it's on crack! You won't regret slathering your bun with this goodness. You can send us thank you fan mail after you have licked your fingers clean!
 Rosemary Onion Marmalade
3 Large white onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of olive oil
3 teaspoons of chopped fresh Rosemary
1/4 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 cup of good Red wine (any kind you like to drink!)
salt to taste

Easy peasy! Throw the sliced onions into a wide pan with the olive oil and Rosemary and let them cook until translucent.
Then add the salt and white sugar and continue to cook the onions until they get some color on them
Once lightly caramelized, add the brown sugar and keep cooking until the onions get a darker caramelize on them.
Finally, add the Red wine, reduce the heat and let the onions and wine marry and make love!

This whole process takes about 20-25 minutes. Be patient and you shall be rewarded! The wine will reduce and thicken and the resulting product will be the most amazing gooey spreadable heaven!
It's great on a burger or even with some roasted chicken! Or throw it in some pasta or spread over crackers topped with tangy goat or blue cheese for a delicious appetizer!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Always start with Dessert! French Cinnamon Butter Cookies

Is a motto we live by very seriously, here at The Gourmet Pantry! So for our first "December Clean the Pantry month" recipe we present to you.....drum rolls......French Cinnamon Butter Cookies. These are buttery and crunchy yet velvety. Popularly known as Sables, it's the easier version of a Shortbread Cookie.

Ridiculously easy and viciously delicious! You're welcome!



Ingredients:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (more if you prefer)

In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until nice a fluffy. For all you fancy cooks with Kitchen Aid mixers, this cannot get any easier!


In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until incorporated. Do not over mix the dough

Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm

Scoop out a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball and place on a baking sheet (non-stick or parchment lined). With the back of a spoon, slight flatten the dough and top with powdered cinnamon (Nutmeg is another great option too!)

Bake cookies in a 350 degrees oven for about 12-15 minutes (depending on size of cookie) or until golden brown around the edges

Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on a rack. Enjoy with a delicious cup of tea or glass of milk

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Cleanse

No, not the juice cleanse, though I might need that after the eating marathon I had over Thanksgiving! But I'm talking about cleansing your pantry! Yes, this holiday season let's work on cleansing our overstocked pantries instead of cleansing our wallets!
It's amazing how much 'stuff' we can accumulate in our homes, over the course of a year. I'm constantly amazed by how much food I have in my kitchen, yet when I'm hungry, the only thing I think of is "I don't know what to eat!". Everytime I go grocery shopping I end up buying something I don't need but am tempted to cook/eat, and inevitably it ends up in my pantry, only to be forgotten in the piles of canned beans, corn, pasta, condiments and seasonings!

Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits. But I decided to get a head start on breaking my old habits of over stocking my pantry and dive into the New Year with a fresh, clean and rejuvenated pantry! So this holiday season, I'm locking up the wallet and credit cards and unlocking the hoards of goodies I have hidden in my kitchen, to create delicious, healthy and gourmet meals with ingredients I ALREADY have!

I'm resolving to only spend money on buying fresh produce/meats if I need it. But the bulk of the recipes that will be shared with you this month will be made from my existing pantry (and I'm sure a majority of those ingredients are ones you already have as well!).

The goal is to cook one dish everyday, and share the result with you lovelies, and I hope this will inspire you to reuse, recycle and reinvent with already purchased ingredients! And if I'm feeling extra adventurous I'll even try and point out how much money you will save by making these recipes at home! Not to mention the food will be healthier and tastier!

So, brace yourself, The Cleanse starts tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Raspberries & Pink Champagne….. in a cupcake


I do believe the title of this post says it all… but if that doesn’t do it for you maybe these pictures will…








Recently, it was a friend’s birthday and I just couldn’t help myself but get inspired by her favorite drink of choice: champagne, Proseco, and all things bubbly and delightful. For my birthday, she was kind enough to shower me with Magnolia cupcakes, so I just had to return the favor with an attempt to create her signature cocktail into a lovely little treat to enjoy during her festivities. I went with the mini cupcakes yet again, as they really do seem to make the best little party favor a girl can ask for. This recipe calls for raspberries (as I already had a bag on hand in my freezer that defrosted quite nicely), but you can use frozen strawberries, or even fresh if that’s what you have. *Note: if you use fresh berries, macerate them first in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of sugar to get the juices flowing, as that is the key to making these pop in the pan as they bake. This recipe is so simple, yet the flavors are so bangin’ pretty soon all your friends will want them RSVP’ing ‘YES’ to their birthday bashes. Cheers!!

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 tsp milk, soy vanilla (regular milk is OK too)
1 tsp raspberry extract
½ cup frozen raspberries, defrosted

Buttercream:
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup rose champagne
1 stick unsalted butter

Start by preheating your oven to 375F and lining your cupcake tins. To begin the batter, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in your mixer. Roughly 1-2 minutes. Next, add the eggs one at a time just to combine. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly combine to your wet ingredients and beat on low until dough forms. Finally, add the raspberry extract, defrosted raspberries, and milk, and beat 1-2 minutes until thoroughly combined. You will have a gorgeous purple-pink batter when all is said & done! Bake for roughly 10-12 minutes (for the mini-sizes, regular sized cupcakes will need about 20 minutes or until cooked through). Let the cupcakes cool thoroughly before frosting…

To make the buttercream, start with your unsalted butter at room temp, and whip it up roughly 30 seconds. Next, add the confectioner’s sugar ½ cup at a time, while alternating with the pink champagne (1/4 cup, a bit at a time). This will ensure a smooth, yet thick batter, that tastes like the most deliciously sweet pink champagne you have ever had in your life! Frost, and sprinkle with some sugar crystals for an added pop! 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The best thing since Sliced Bread....

...is fresh homemade Garlicky Rosemary Focaccia


I'm NEVER buying store made bread again. Well not never but definitely not if I can avoid it. Baking your own bread is so ridiculously easy that it hurts me to think why I don't do it more often. The possibilities are endless and list of ingredients kneaded (haa!) extremely simple! All you need is a little planning and a little more patience for the dough to do it's magic before you enjoy the fruits of your labor. And come on, who does not love the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through their apartment!?


5 cups of Flour
1 packet Instant  Yeast
2 tsp Salt
2 Cups of room temperature water
6 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tbsp minced Rosemary
1/2 tbsp minced Garlic

For crying out loud, please DO NOT use dried herbs or store bought bottled Garlic paste. This recipe requires very few ingredients, most of which a lot of us already have on hand, so make those few ingredients count!

Sift the Flour, Yeast and Salt together in a large mixing bowl [If you have a stand mixer, feel free to use that, but you don't need to be a show off! This bread kneads very little needing (see what I did there!), so feel free to use your hands!]
Now add the water and Olive Oil and bring the dough together by kneading for about 7-8 minutes. The dough will be sticky so use some extra Flour on your hands.
Now transfer the dough onto your kitchen counter (first sprinkle a generous dose of Flour!) and knead until the flour is fully incorporated, the dough will be elastic but not sticking to your fingers anymore.
Spread out the dough into a rectangle shape, large that the size of your original dough ball, brush it will Olive Oil and cover with saran wrap. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Once rested for 30 minutes, fold the dough over itself, like folder a piece of paper. Stretch it out into the rectangle again.
Spread the mixture of minced Rosemary and Garlic and once again cover with saran warp and let it rest for 30 minutes (I know!! by this time I was ready to tear a piece of raw dough and eat it! But patience reaps delicious rewards my friends!)

Repeat the above process of folding and stretching the dough once last time! This will help incorporate the rosemary and garlic into the dough (yum!!). Cover and let it rest for 1 hour.

While the dough rests, prepare your baking tray. You will need:

  • A standard baking tray
  • Foil
  • 1 large sprig of Rosemary
  • 4 cloves of Garlic (sliced in half)
  • 1/4 cup of Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste
Cover the baking tray with foil and prepare the herb oil. Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet, but you don't want it screaming hot because you don't want to fry anything. Bring to a low/medium heat and add the Rosemary and Garlic. Turn off the heat and let the herbs poach in the oil.
Now spread this oil, herbs and all over the baking tray lined with foil.
Transfer the resting dough to the tray and as a final step, using your fingers, make dimples in the dough and spread a liberal amount of olive oil over the surface of the bread. Don't get stressed by the amount of Olive Oil you are using, it's healthy (sort of..) and makes the bread so delicious!

Cover the tray with saran warp again and now transfer to the fridge to let it rest overnight. Yes....you have to wait just a little more to enjoy this deliciousness!

Next day, sprinkle sea salt over the dough and throw it in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden delicious!

Serve with Basil Oil and Balsamic or just shove pieces of heaven into your mouth and thank me for sharing this awesomeness with you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Apple Pie Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

The title on this post alone truly speaks for itself. What could be better than apple pie? Apple pie in a cupcake, with a nutella buttercream of course. This Sunday afternoon us Gourmet Pantry ladies went for a lovely stroll through Brooklyn, NY. A pit stop at the farmer's market & a hot cup of apple cider later, the idea for this cupcake was born. Tip: when baking with apples this fall season, use more firm, tart apples. They bake better & stand up to all that heat in the kitchen. We used Red Delicious- but you can easily substitute Granny Smith or MacIntosh. Check 'em out:




Apple Pie cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream:


Caramelized Apples:
2 red delicious apples
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
ginger & pumpkin spice –  to taste

Cupcake batter:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
8 oz vanilla greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Frosting:
1 stick butter
10 oz nutella hazelnut frosting (not quite an entire 12.3 oz jar)
1/3 cup milk
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Begin by preheating your oven to 375F, and lining your cupcake tins. Next, we must caramelize the apples! Cube up two apples (skins removed) in a pan with the melted butter. Add the brown sugar & spices and sauté on medium heat or until lightly browned. Make sure to leave them slightly crunchy in texture, as they will continue to cook in the cupcake batter. Remove from heat and let cool thoroughly as you create your batter.

In your mixer, cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until mixed. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter with the vanilla extract. Mix until thoroughly combined. Lastly, add the Greek yogurt and whip for 30 seconds or until a nice thick dough is formed. Add the cooled apples and mix with a spoon just to combine- beating them will only mash them up! We want these yummy chunks of apple to stand out in our cakes! Bake for 20-25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Cool completely as you whip up the nutella-goodness-buttercream.

For the buttercream: whip the butter & nutella together for 1-2 minutes. Whip it good! Add the milk, whip another 30 seconds, then add the sugar and whip some more. It will be light, airy, and amazing.
Frost & ENJOY!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Diwali!



Happy Diwali everyone!! It's the festival of lights and the Indian New Year! And to celebrate, we decided to cook up some delicious traditional Indian fare and share it with our loyal followers!

Don't be intimidated by the countless spices in your grocery store's ethnic food aisle. Instead pick up a few choice ingredients and you will be surprised at the versatility of them magic masalas!


First up: a classic and very popular street food from India, and so simple to prepare at home! Street vendors in Mumbai make these fresh to order and it's served between two pieces bread, slathered with Tamarind chutney and spicy Coriander chutney. Delish!! And the absolute comfort food on crisp Fall days.

 



Spiced Potato Croquettes

6 large potatoes (I used a combination of white and red)
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Jalapenos, finely chopped
1 inch of freshly grated Ginger
2tsps Poppy Seeds
2 tsps Turmeric Powder
Handful of Coriander leaves, chopped
Salt and Sugar to taste

For the batter
5 large tbsps of Gram flour (made from ground chickpeas)
1 tsp Red Chili Powder
Water
Salt to taste

1. Boil the potatoes and mash em up good - No instructions required for this! Add salt and sugar to taste
2. Prepare the batter with water and set aside. Be careful to not add too much water to the batter, you want it thick enough to coat the potatoes but not too thick!
3. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of Oil. Add the Poppy Seeds (let them pop), then Turmeric, Garlic, Ginger and Japalenos and saute for 2 minutes
4. Add this mixture to the mashed potatoes and mix well to incorporate
5. Form the potato mix into medium sized balls, dunk in the batter and fry until golden brown!

Enjoy the crisp and spicy Potato Croquettes with Tamarind chutney or even with plain ol' ketchup!



Curried Spinach & Lentil Soup - perfect for a cold fall day, this hearty soup is a whole meal in itself!


1 cup Yellow Pigeon Peas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toor_dal
3 tbsp Olive Oil/Vegetable Oil
1 cup Spinach leaves, julienned.
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 small Tomato, finely chopped
3 cloves of Garlic (you can substitute this with Garlic Powder too)jm
1 Jalapeno, finely chopped (leave this out if you don't like your food very spicy)
1 tsp Poppy Seeds
3 tsps Red Chili Powder
3 tsps Cumin Powder
4 tsps Garam Masala (very easily available in the Ethnic Foods aisle of your Grocery Store)
1 1/2 tsps Turmeric Powder
salt and sugar to taste

1. Start with soaking the Pigeon Peas in 2 1/2 cups of water, in a large pot. Bring this to a boil and let it cook until the lentils are soft to the touch. Remove from flame and use a hand blender to puree the lentils. I like to keep this puree a little chunky.
Transfer the pot back on a low flame, add 1 cup of water, salt and sugar and let it simmer on a low flame.

2. In a skillet, heat 3 tbsps of Oil. Once the oil is hot add Poppy Seeds and let them pop! Then add Garlic, Jalapenos,Onions and Tomatoes and saute until slightly browned.
Now add the spices: Tumeric, Cumin, Red Chili and Garam Masala powders and continue to saute 5-7 minutes more to cook the spices further.


3. Now add the chopped Spinach to this mix, stir it all together for 2 minutes.

4. Transfer this cooked spiced mixture to the boiling lentil soup and stir to combine.

5. Continue to stir and let the soup simmer for 7-10 minutes. The end consistency of this soup is not too thick and not too thin. After a taste test, feel free to add more salt if needed.



Traditionally, the soup is served over plain white rice or with Naan bread. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: The Pumpkin

In case you haven't noticed lately, we seem to be inspired by all things pumpkin here at the gourmet pantry. Fall is more than in the air- it is literally in the kitchen!

Recently, a good friend came over with a serious craving to carve a pumpkin and sip some wine. Is there a better way to spend a sunny crisp fall afternoon? Actually, yes--- when you take that cute little pumpkin you just carved a jaggedy face into and create all of the below recipes. That little jack-o-lantern can do more than light up your front porch or kitchen table, you can create all sorts of yummy meals out of him when you add just a few ingredients you already have in your pantry! Check out what we came up with: cinnamon sugar roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice soup, pumpkin oatmeal raisin cookies, and last but not least- chocolate pumpkin bread. So sit down, carve a big ole' pumpkin up, and make dinner out of him. Literally.




First thing's first, buy and carve a pumpkin. Invite a friend over, drink some hot cider (or wine, who are we kidding here). Be sure to scoop out all of the insides. Separate the seeds from the pulp on a large cookie tray. Rinse the seeds and let them dry overnight and store the pumpkin in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready to use (within 2-3 days). Maybe your pumpkin won't look as professional as ours (sarcasm, heavy heavy sarcasm there), but save the insides!




Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 stick butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Make sure the seeds have dried over-night (laid out evenly on a cookie sheet). Melt the butter and coat the seeds thoroughly. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon. Roast at 400F for 45-55 mins or until golden brown & crunchy to the taste. Let cool and store in a ziplock bag- indulge!




Next.... it's time to use up the rest of that lovely pumpkin puree right from inside your fresh pumpkin. Mixing the few ingredients we had in our pantry this spicy, slightly creamy, protein filled soup won't leave you out in the cold.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:
olive oil
garlic
red pepper flakes
12 oz pumpkin puree
14 oz package unsalted chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 8 oz can rinsed white cannellini beans

Begin by heating 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add the chopped garlic (finely chopped!) and the red pepper flakes. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, do not burn the garlic! Then, add the broth, pumpkin puree, & heavy cream. Reduce heat to medium-low and let these ingredients marry-up for 10-15 minutes. When it starts to come to a boil, add the beans and cook another 5-10 minutes. Serve with a dollup of cream cheese or goat cheese... whatever you have that will melt and give this soup an extra OOMPH. Serve with some toasty whole grain bread & sop it up!



OK.... had enough yet? No, actually, I think you need some dessert.... onto the COOKIES!! (and frankly, the best part).



Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 egg
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
15 oz (or half of 1 large can if you don't have fresh pumpkin) puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup instant oats
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Begin by preheating your oven to 350F, and whipping the butter (room temp!) with the sugars. Next, add the egg and vanilla and whip again for roughly 30 seconds, do not over-mix! Then, add the pumpkin puree and whip some more until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & pumpkin pie spice. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, a few additions at a time. Finally, add the raisins and oats and combine with a large spoon so as not to over-mix. Grease your cookie tray, and scoop using a small ice cream scooper or large tablespoon. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown around the edges, and it passes the toothpick test. Serve with fresh whipped cream for added pleasure!

Look, even our own Mr Peppy the Pumpkin wants to eat them they smelled so good!



If you are STILL reading, and STILL aching for some pumpkin. This dessert below is the ultimate indulgence, and will stay moist for days (especially if you tuck it up in some plastic wrap). We have truly saved the best recipe for last. Here's to hoping you enjoy these as much as we have! Happy Fall!

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin puree, whichever you have on hand)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup full fat sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin by preheating the oven to 375F. Line your bread loaf pan with nonstick spray or parchment paper (we used both to play it safe, and for easy removal). Whip the butter and sugar together in your stand-mixer until combined thoroughly. Next, crack the eggs one at a time and combine one at a time. Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, and sour cream. Whip for roughly 30 seconds until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spice. Slowly add in portions to the wet ingredients & whip for 1-2 minutes. When the dough has formed, add the chocolate morsels and mix with a spoon just to combine. Pour into the pan and bake 45-55 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Serve hot with fresh whipped cream. To. Die. For.



*Special note--- if you don't have a freshly carved pumpkin but still want to try these recipes, they work just as well with the canned version! Always go for the organic or pure pumpkin (without any additives or salts or sugars, maximize that true pumpkin flavor!*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Banana Bread Addiction, it continues...

If you saw our most recent post on the Peanut Butter Banana Bread, I hope it got your wheels turning to make some of your own. Because, in all honesty, it got mine turning as well! That little office competition I entered also gave me the opportunity to taste some really great variations to everyone's take on a traditional banana bread... and it suddenly had me experimenting with my own new recipe! Without wanting to buy any funky ingredients (like macadamia nuts or something equally as pricey and rare for me to use), I scoured my pantry looking for fun ingredients to throw in my banana bread recipe--- and here's what came out of it! A Honey Banana Bread with an Oatmeal Brown Sugar crumble topping. Um.... yes, please. 

Everyone has a box of instant oats in the back of their pantry and an old jar of honey (from that flu you had 8 months ago that had you drinking green tea with honey for 5 days straight... well, now you have another use for that little bear sitting in the back of your pantry!). The honey adds a certain hint of sweetness, moisture, and the topping is just, here it comes... amazeballs. 

Be wild, go for it. Or as my best friend has inked on her email signature: "Carpe Diem!"




Honey Banana Bread with Oatmeal Crumble Topping 

Ingredients:

3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup full fat sour cream
3 tbsp honey

topping:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup instant oats 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup all purpose flour


Begin to assemble this in the same you would with the previously posted recipe. Make sure all ingredients are room temp! Preheat oven to 375F. Spray the loaf tin, and line with parchment paper (if desired). Whip the butter with the sugar until combined. In a small bowl, crack two eggs and add the vanilla & honey. Add this mixture to the butter/sugar one egg at a time. This ensures the honey gets mixed in properly and doesn't get stuck. Finally, add the mashed bananas & sour cream. Mixed until thoroughly incorporated. Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda & salt. Slowly add to the wet mixture and beat only until well combined and you have dough. Do not over-mix! Pour into the pan, bake for 10-15 minutes before adding the crumble.

Meanwhile, in another small bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Mix all together with your hands, smoosh, smash, and make a lovely little mess out of it. Once the banana bread begins to set a bit, take out of the oven and evenly coat with the butter/topping mixture. The more, the yummier!!! Place back into the oven and bake another 45-55 minutes or until cooked through. Cool, slice, and EAT IT UP!









Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My award-winning (well, almost award-winning) BANANA BREAD!

Recently, it seems that my office has also caught the "fall foods" bug. A few overripe bananas were hanging out in our communal kitchen, and someone had the bright idea to host a Banana Bread Bake Off. With an office of about 200 people (and amongst them, a few intense bakers, even a graduate of the Culinary Institute!), I was sure to have some serious competition. There were over 10 variations of banana bread at the end of the day- but mine was the ONLY one that contained one magical ingredient: PEANUT BUTTER!

Ok, so I didn't win, but not everyone likes peanut butter (they're just crazy in my opinion), and there was not one "bad" loaf of bread on that table. I was "banana-breaded" out by midday, but I stick by my recipe and got plenty of compliments on it, as it was still a huge hit!
I call this Monkey Bread---- and I am sure you all know why. So the next time you find yourself with a few of over-ripe bananas, try this out. Amazeballs!



Ingredients:

3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup full fat sour cream
1/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
non stick cooking spray

Start by preheating your oven to 350F, and spraying your loaf tin with some nonstick spray (I also line mine with parchment paper, as it helps to remove the bread for easy removal and packaging later on!).

Next, take out your stand mixer, and whip the butter (make sure it is room temp). Then, add the sugar and blend until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time just until incorporated (do NOT over-mix any banana bread or bread recipe, it won't come out as moist or fluffy). Then, add the vanilla extract, mashed bananas, peanut butter, and sour cream. Mix again until combined. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt. Then, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Beat for 1-2 mins until well combined and your dough is ready to g-o, go. Pour into your pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and it is brown all around! Let cool, and enjoy!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin, pumpkin... who wants some pumpkin?!?!

Well, it is officially fall. That means one thing: PUMPKIN GALORE! Farmer's markets are stocked with all sorts of squashes, pumpkins, vegetables, and fruits from the fall harvest. The air is crisp, and everyone is craving the best this season has to offer. Lately, I seem to want to put pumpkin puree in just about anything I can get my hands on. SO, for dinner tonight, all I had was some defrosted chicken breasts, a bag of spinach, and naturally, some pumpkin puree in a can. Add some goat cheese, pine nuts, and some spice and TA-DA, the best fall dinner I have had in quite some time. This dish actually came out better than I expected, and I couldn't resist sharing it. If you don't have any pumpkin puree in your pantry, do yourself a solid and get a couple of cans. It will NOT go to waste. You can put this jar of amazing-ness in just about anything, from pasta & risotto to baked goods and now, chicken!! Try this recipe- not only is it healthy, but it is quick, easy & cheap! Is there anything better?



Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Breasts with sauteed Spinach

Ingredients:

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large bag of spinach (uncooked, or 1 box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained)
1/2 white onion, roughly diced
4 oz pumpkin puree
1/2 cup red wine, whatever you have left over in your apt will do just fine,
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, more or less depending on your spice preference
olive oil
salt & pepper
chili powder
balsamic vinegar
lemon juice
pine nuts, for garnish
goat cheese, for garnish


First, heat up a large sautee pan in medium-high heat with some olive oil. Dice the onions, then drop then in the oil when the pan is hot. Sprinkle with salt & red pepper flakes, let them sauté until they're soft and cook down (3-5 minutes). Meanwhile, season your chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Add to the sautee pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the red wine, and let cook down for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the pumpkin pie puree and cover. Let cook for 10 minutes, flip the breasts and cook 10 minutes more or until the breasts are cooked all the way through (become firm to the touch).

As the chicken is cooking, add a drizzle of olive oil to a large pot and heat on medium. Then, add the spinach. Drizzle with 2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice. Cover and let the greens cook down, these puppies wilt fast and fiercely. Let the chicken and spinach cool. When all is finished, plate it up, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and goat cheese (however much you like, I prefer a lot of cheese personally, you only live once. and it isn't worth living without goat cheese).

Enjoy!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Better late than never...

I need to begin this entry with a massive apology for the delay in postings lately. To say it has been one busy month (and that September is going to be even busier) is an understatement. We have a lot going on here at the GP, but we have some seriously awe.some. recipes for you. And a lot more to come!!! 

Going to make up for lost time by giving you two of my most kick ass cupcake recipes to date.  Yes, I said it. I know those Tiramisu ones looked great (and made a recent appearance lately in a mini version), but these are just... amazeballs. 

Today is Saturday, and it appears that everyone I know is throwing a party, & that I am not only attending, but bringing these bad boys along. These were made in a mini cupcake tin---- which I have found are perfect for parties and large gatherings. Just pop one of these in your mouth for a sweet treat that won't empty your calorie bank. 

On Deck:

Chocolate Cupcake with a Salted Peanut Butter frosting

Lemon Drop Shot cupcake (yes, with a vodka infused buttercream!)

First, drool over these pics.



Then, bake them. Instructions below.  Happy end of summer, everyone!

Cupcake#1 

Chocolate & Salted Peanut Butter Cupcake

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tbsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cocoa powder, Hershey's is my favorite
6 oz nonfat greek yogurt (plain)
1/2 cup milk

Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup milk
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
salted peanuts (I used beer nuts, they're even sweeter!)

Begin by making the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350. Then, in your mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, one at a time until mixed well but do not overbeat. In a seperate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder). Slowly add the dry to the wet ingredients, alternating with the greek yogurt and milk. Add the vanilla extract, and mix until well combined and smooth. Pour into the cupcake tins at least 3/4 of the way, bake for 20 mins or until passes the toothpick test. Let cool thoroughly before frosting, as always!

To make the salted peanut frosting:

cream the butter & confectioner's sugar together. It will look thick, but this is OK. Add the peanut butter and the milk, and it will smooth right out into peanut buttery goodness. 

Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and top with the peanuts! YUM!


Cupcake# 2:

Lemon Drop Shot Cupcake

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest & juice of 2 lemons
8 oz lemon flavored greek yogurt, non fat

Keep the oven preheated to 350. Same idea as above.... cream the butter & sugar together until fluffy in your stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time until combined. In a seperate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest together. Slowly add to the butter mixture and alternate with the lemon juice and lemon greek yogurt. Bake for 15-20 mins, and be sure to fill these up 3/4 of the way also!

The Vodka frosting (the best part!)

1 stick unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
citron flavored vodka

Cream the butter & sugar together, and thin out with as much or little vodka as you want. Add more sugar to make it thicker, add more vodka to make it more, well, powerful. This is the easiest recipe, it's all to desired taste and consistency!! Pipe onto the cooled mini's and shoot them into your mouth! Viola, a shot & dessert all in one!