Saturday, May 26, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

So it's offical.  My oldest niece is an old lady.

Which makes me an even older old lady.

She turned 13 a week ago and its turning everyone's lives upside down.

I'm kidding, she's not turning everyones life upside down......yet.  ;p

But I am definitely seeing changes. I knew it was all over when I first saw her standing like this.



Ok.....so I totally made her pose like this for a picture BUT that's only because I couldn't for the life of me find a picture on Google of someone standing like this.

But am I not right?  I mean isn't this the quintessential angsty teen stance?

The first time I saw her like this I weeped a little.  My bug is getting big.  Sniff sniff.

Anywho....

She requested my Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes for her family shin dig






And this recipe is easy as cake!  

Just get yourself a white cake mix.  (I'm a pillsbury girl cuz me and the little guy can relate)

Replace the water with orange juice.  I've used the crappy juice before and it just doesn't come out as well.  Spring for the Naked juice (or any good quality juice) if you can....it makes a HUGE difference.

The zest of an orange.

And orange extract.  

This was the first time I used McCormick brand orange extract.  Before this I had been using an extract I got at an asian market.  With the old one I only had to use 2 tsp, but this McCormick didn't seem to be as strong so I used 4 tsp. 

Start with 2 tsp. and adjust to your tastes.  I actually taste the batter because I live life on the edge....but if you aren't as wreckless as me you can judge by smell or shear intuition.

Add a smidgen of orange food coloring if you so desire (and I do so desire)

 Bake (duh)





And frost with my vanilla Coffee Creamer Buttercream






I put an orange slice candy on top cuz I think it's darn cute!


Yum.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coffee Creamer Buttercream

I'm certainly not a food snob  

Not in any any way shape or form.

I'll eat a completely from scratch meal one night and then I'm totally down for dinosaur shaped nuggets the next.  If it's good its good.  Who cares.

But I do admit the one thing I've sort of snubbed is canned frosting.

It was all I knew for years and years and I loved it.  But since I started making my own the canned stuff is sooo....soooo......Blehhh!

It has a sort of chemical taste to me now that I never used to be able taste before.  You absolutely can't decorate with it because it's so soft so nothing ever looks cute.....there just really isn't many pros.

Once you try this recipe I promise you'll never go back to the can


Can you tell I shop at Walmart? 

What ever gave it away?


As a general rule of thumb I use:

1/2 # Butter  (1 cup) 
1/2 # All Vegetable shortening (also 1 cup)
2# Powdered Sugar


So its basically its a 2:1 ratio of sugar to fat by weight


Start by creaming together your butter and shortening.  Scraping down the sides as you go.  Then gradually add in your sugar, scraping down the sides.  Your mixture will be thick.


Now comes in your coffee creamer.  Gradually stir it in until you get a nice smooth consistency that will be easy for frosting or piping...not too thick.....not too thin.  I usually use around 3/4c. but I would start with 1/2c. and go from there just to be safe.  Don't whip it around too much...just until its smooth.  You don't want to create large air pockets.



Are you wondering where the vanilla extract is?   You don't need it yo!  All the flavor is in the coffee creamer.  The coffee creamer acts as the heavy cream that's normally in traditional buttercream recipes and eliminates the need for extracts because their flavors are so strong.

And you can get super creative with them.  Here I used French Vanilla but in the past I've used Hazelnut, Creme Brulee, Amaretto.....the possibilities are endless!  


*NOTES*

*You could do all butter if you prefer, but living in AZ I like to use half shortening because it's so damn hot and it helps it hold up better.  Especially if I am traveling with them in the car. But also because its not all shortening like other recipes you don't get that nasty film in your mouth.  Half half is just perfect to me


*This frosting crusts BEAUTIFULLY so if you are familiar with cake decorating and use the Viva paper towel method or any similar method for getting perfectly smooth buttercream cakes, this is the recipe for you!  Up until about 8 months ago I used to sell cakes and this is what I always used and it NEVER failed me


You can scoff at the canned frostings as you pass them in the store now.  Give this a try and let me know what you think.













Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chile Relleno

Ay yai yai......

Arriba arriba.....


I'm on a Mexican food kick these days.  Maybe it's because after 6 months of marriage I finally changed my last name......

And maybe now that I have a mexican last name I subconsciously feel the need to unleash my inner Senora? 

Or maybe its because I'm doing the low carb thang right now and mexican food really pairs well with a LC lifestyle...ya know.....once you stop thinking about tortillas and chips and stuff =P

My lastest venture.....Chile Relleno!

What sparked this idea was when I found a big bag of Poblano peppers at 99c only for you guessed it....only 99c! 

And then I started thinking....you stuff it with cheese....low carb friendly....and then I could have a solely egg based batter and skip using and flour and.....

Tah dah! 

You got yourself another low carb Mexican dinner





You need...pablono chiles, 4 ROOM TEMPERATURE eggs (I'll explain) and cheeses of your choice


Start by roasting your chiles.  I don't have any pictures because I did mine at work.  I don't have a gas stove at home so I would  have had to do it on the grill and with it already being 106 here in Phoenix, standing outside and continuously turning them didn't sound too fun.  I sweat enough at work all day in our blazing hot kitchen.  The last thing I want to do is come home and sweat some more.

Give them a good char and then either place them in a bag and seal, or place in a bowl and cover it with saran wrap.  This will create steam that will make taking the skins off easier.

After they've cooled down, you can start removing the skins.  I do this by filling a bowl with water and gently rubbing them submerged in the water.  It helps wash away all the little bits easier than just rubbing them off with your hands



Now to start stuffing!   Make a slit on one side of the chile.  GENTLY pull out the seeds and membranes.  Fill with your cheese mixture.  I used half cheddar half pepper jack....but you can do whatever you like.


Now for your coating.  Like I said before you need room temperature eggs.  The reason is because you are going to be whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks.  Eggs whites whip MUCH MUCH easier when they are room temperature.  It's the exact opposite of whipped cream....where you want everything as cold as possible.

So separate your yolks from you whites and beat the living crap out of your whites



I didn't get a picture, but you'll also beat your yolks until they are foamy and lighter in color.

GENTLY....(and the keyword here is gently)  fold your yolks into your whites....don't stir or whip!


Time to start frying!

Get some canola oil nice and hot in a big skillet.  Take a scoop of your batter mixture and place it in the hot oil.  Spread it out with a spatula to around the size of your chile.


Place the chile seam side down onto the egg mixture.  Then spoon some more batter over the top.  After the bottom browned I also folded some of the bottom batter upwards to seal it all together.



Cook until golden, brown, and delicious. Salt them as soon as you pull them out of the pan


I threw mine in the oven for a few minutes just to make sure all the cheese was melted and then they are ready to chow!



Eat it with some low carb mexican rice (or regular rice) and you'll be set


Now I'm off to add some Tejano music to my ipod and  polish my maracas.






Kidding about the Tejano music....not really my taste.




Chile Relleno 

5 poblano chiles, roasted and skins removed
2 C. shredded cheese of choice
4 room temperature eggs seperated
Salt

Make a slit in your roasted and cleaned peppers.  Remove the seeds and membrane and stuff with your cheese.

Whip your eggs white to stiff peaks and beat the yolks until frothy.  

Fold the yolks into the whites.  

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Scoop some of the egg batter into into the pan and spread it out into the shape of the chile.  Place the chile seam side down onto the batter.  Scoop more batter on top of the chile.  Fry until golden brown.  Salt immediately. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Teenager and a Hamburger Cake

A week from tomorrow my oldest niece is becoming a teenager

Sigh.

I honestly think I am handling it worse than her own mother.  It's just too fast!  

She and I have an interesting relationship seeing as how she was born when I was 9.  With me being the baby of 4 girls, she became the little sister I never had.  

She used to scale my bedroom door like a monkey and hang from the door handle trying to get me to open the door while I was doing homework.

I used to push her around the house in a neon green laundry basket and sit on the big rock in the front yard with her and eat cashews together.

And now here we are.  6 months ago she was a bridesmaid in my wedding (yikes!)  and now she's an angsty tweener!  Gaaaah! =(

Anyways, this got me thinking about her last few birthdays and I thought I would share the cake I made her from her 10th birthday party.

She had a swim party/BBQ so I made a giant hamburger.  Mostly because I really wanted to make a hamburger cake....but whatevs......it fit.  





I remember that all the kids got a real kick out of it.  As we were slicing it they were asking for "no pickle" or "hold the onions"  It was really cute =)




Since this was done 3 years ago I don't have any tutorial pictures.  But if you like the idea and want some pointers just shoot me a comment and I would be more than happy to help.




Oh and did I mention that she's getting little boobies?  Lord help me........

Lemon Artichoke Pasta

I like bold, strong flavors...the kind that sort of kick you in the nars.  (so to speak)  I like acids like vinegar and lemon, all things briney, and so much garlic that you will be breathing fire for days.

Now I realize not everyone likes their food quite as strong as me, so that's why this recipe is so perfect.  It has all the components and flavors I love, but their subtle enough for everyone to enjoy.

I made this dish today as an early Mother's Day lunch for my Madre.  This is one of her favorite things that I make.



Dice your onion and chop the artichokes.  Cook the onion in about 1/2 cup of olive oil.  I know that sounds like alot, but that is the base of your sauce.  You want the onions to be translucent, not brown.  



Once they begin to soften, add in your diced artichokes.  Let them cook for a minute and then add in your lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, capers, and toasted pine nuts. Let it all cook together for 2 minutes.  


 Turn off the heat and stir 2 tablespoons of butter.  Season with salt and pepper (be careful though because the capers are salty)

Toss with your favorite pasta  (I prefer linguine for this) 

If you're one of those people who feel like they need meat to make it a meal, diced chicken goes great in this!  Sometimes I do....sometimes i don't.....it depends on the day. =) 

Also, I made the regular version for my mom and a low carb version for myself by putting the sauce over spaghetti squash.  It was soooo good.  So any of you low carbers out there should give it a whirl!
 







Lemon Artichoke Pasta

1/2 C. olive oil
2 (15 oz) cans artichoke hearts, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 toasted pine nuts
1/4 C. capers,
3 lemons, zested and juiced
4 cloves of garlic finely minced
2 TB. butter
Cooked pasta of choice (I use linguine) 


*Optional: Cooked, diced chicken


Cook onion in olive oil until they are translucent.  Add in artichokes and cook for about a minute to soften.  Then add in your pine nuts, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, and minced garlic.  Cook all together for a few minutes.  Turn off the heat and add 2 Tb. of butter.  Stir together with cooked pasta.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

One of those thing......

I hate it when you bend down to pick something up in the shower and the shower curtain gets stuck in your butt crack. Please tell me this happens to other people....because it happens to me far too often.

Its as if my ass is griping the shower curtain for balance........


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Donut Bread Pudding

At that pesky place I'm forced to show up to 8.5 hours a day, 5 days a week (ugghhh...shudders) we have one dessert that far outshines all others.  Our donut bread puddingPartly because its  delicious and partly because the days we have it are very few and far between, novelty goes along way.  We literally had an old man that would come in every morning and ask if we were having it.  He was a real committed fan. We also had a lady on a scooter who comes in about every 4 months and expects it to be there on that ONE particular day. We get to listen to her whine the whole hour she spends beeping around the place.

Of course what customers don't understand is that it takes time to accumulate enough unsold donuts and pastries before we have enough to make a days worth of it.  Lucky for you I have scaled it down to a manageable amount for you to make at home.  Now the hard part is not eating the donuts before you get a chance to make it!  

Here's what you'll need


Milk, heavy cream, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and about a dozen stale donuts. And yes, I really do suggest letting them get stale.  All it takes is leaving the box open on the counter overnight and they'll be perfect.  It's the open box staring you in the face that's the hardest part of this whole process, but it really does work better if they are dried out a bit.

Also, notice I don't have JUST donuts even though I call it Donut Bread Pudding.  Assorted Breakfast Pastry Bread Pudding just didn't quite roll off the tongue quite the same.   Don't be afraid to use cinnamon rolls, honey buns, danishes, coconut donuts....I even threw in some apple fritters.  Get creative.  And wild.  Really, really wild.

Cube up your donuts and shove them into a buttered 9x13 baking dish.  You WILL have to shove.  It will look like alot but trust me you need the pan to be full.


 Next, mix up your eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Pour this mixture all over the pan.  Push the bread down into the pan and allow it to soak up all the liquid.  You can do this and let it sit over night if you would like, or you can just let it soak up for about 15 minutes before you bake it.


*Note: I don't add any additional sugar to my pudding, I like it to not be super sweet and let the donut flavor really shine through, but that's just me.  But if you like it a bit sweeter you could add sugar to your custard mix.  Maybe 1/2 cup?  If you have super sweet donuts like Krispy Kreme I really don't think you'll need it though. 

All mushy and gushy

Bake in a 350 oven.  For me it took about 20-25 minutes, but it can all depend on how dry your donuts were to begin with etc.  Check after 20 minutes by inserting a toothpick and seeing if it comes out clean.  Another sign it's done is it will puff up a little bit.  It's sort of hard to tell by this picture, but it is slightly puffed





Let it cool for about 20 minutes before you top it.  Our topping of choice at work is....believe it or not...........


pudding.  Yes, pudding.  

Don't underestimate it please.  I know most bread puddings have fancy glazes or rum sauces, or ganaches....but there is something about the pudding that I love.  And you can switch up the flavors too.  We usually do vanilla or banana and they are both  yummy. I made mine myself this time but in a pinch store bought it is quick and easy and still tastes good.  I made my pudding the night before so it would have plenty of time to set up for  "frosting" the pudding.

And Voila










Oh, and about what I said about work earlier...like shuddering and calling it pesky..... I only kid.  I love my job



Most of the time.



Donut Bread Pudding

1 dozen stale donuts, cubed
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups milk
5 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
*Sugar

Place donut cubes in a buttered 9x13 dish.  Whisk together cream, milk. eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.


*Note: I don't add any additional sugar to my pudding, I like it to not be super sweet and let the donut flavor really shine through...but that's just me.  But if you like it a bit sweeter you could add sugar to your custard mix.  Maybe 1/2?  If you have super sweet donuts like Krispy Kreme I really don't think you'll need it though. 


Pour over donuts and allow it to all soak in for at least 15 minutes before baking.  Bake in a 350 oven.  Begin checking after 20 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the center until it comes out clean and it has puffed slightly. 

 Allow it to cool at least 20 minutes before topping.




Vanilla Pudding


1 C. sugar
3 Tb. cornstarch
3 C. milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 Tb. butter
2 tsp. vanilla


In a saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in milk.  Cook and stir over medium heat until it begins to thicken and bubble.  Let cook 2 minutes more.  Remove the pan from heat and temper the egg yolks with about half of the hot mixture.  Add the tempered egg mix back into the pan and bring it all to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat and cook 3 more minutes.  


Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Pur into a bowl.  Cover with directly over the surface of the pudding to avoid a skin from forming.  Chill at least 4 hours before serving to allow it to thicken.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Posole

Now I may  only be 1/8 Mexican but I think I thrown down a pretty mean Posole!  I've been craving it since I last had it at Christmas time and Cinco De Mayo seemed like the perfect excuse to make it.  I normally don't "do" soups in this heat.  The thought of eating something steaming hot when its 97 outside makes my butt get swampy just thinking about it......but I decided this was worth an exception.

Here's what you'll need


Start by making your red sauce.  I've heard some people will use canned sauce or even enchilada sauce for a shortcut.....but I just can't bring myself to do it!  Once you see how easy making your own is and how much better it tastes you'll see why.

This is your basic red sauce.  The same stuff I use for making tamales. Start by taking the stems off the dried chiles and dumping out some of the seeds.  Place them on a baking sheet and warm them for about 3-5 minutes until you can smell them, but be sure not to burn them!


Then place them in a pot of hot water....enough to cover them.  Put the lid on and let them sit and soften for abut 30 mins.  After they are nice and soft place them in your food processor along with the salt, garlic, & cumin.  Thin it out to the right consistency with the soaking liquid.


Don't do what I did and try to shove it all in your mini processor because your too lazy to dig around for the big one.  Then you make big messes like this and it looks like your poor appliance is bleeding profusely.  Sorry little guy.

Then strain your sauce through a sieve.  No matter how long you blend it you will never get the skins of the peppers to totally break down so your left with little chunks that are funky and get all caught up in your grill.  It will leave you with a nice smooth sauce like this...


 Set your sauce aside for now and get to work on some juicy piggy!  Dice your pork shoulder as small as you can.  I know that can be hard to do with raw meat....and for gods sake don't cut yourself!  Just try to make it as close to the size of the hominy as you possibly can.  That way you can get both on your spoon and you don't have giant stew sized chunks of pork.


Brown the meat in your soup pot and take it out.


In the porky goodnesss that's left in the pan, saute your onions and bell peppers.  Once they start to soften add your pork back in along with your stock, hominy, and red sauce.  Bring to  boil then let it simmer until the pork becomes tender and the hominy softens.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.


Eat it with TONS of cilantro, citrus juice (I prefer lemon) and green onions mixed in.  Delish!

This makes a ton of soup, but if you going through the work of making it you might as well make alot!  And it freezes beautifully.



Red Sauce

16 dried chiles  (New Mexico, Ca etc)  usually ends up being about 5oz
2 tsp.Cumin
1 tsp. salt
4 garlic cloves

Rip of the stems and dump the seeds out of the chiles.  Warm in a 350 oven for 3-5 minutes until you can smell them but they don't burn.  Put in a pot of hot water, cover and let sit for 30 mins to soften.

After they soften, blend them with the salt, cumin, and garlic.  Add some of the soaking liquid until you get the desired consistency  Anywhere between 2 to 21/2 cups.  Strain the sauce through a sieve to get out all the pepper skins


Posole

2 # Pork shoulder roast diced small
1 Large diced onion
1 Large diced bell pepper
(2) 1# cans of hominy
Red sauce
12 C. Chicken broth

Brown the pork and then remove from pan and set aside.  In the same pan saute onion and bell pepper until soft and translucent.  Add pork back in along with the hominy, red sauce, and chicken broth.  Bring it to a boil then let simmer until the pork is tender and the hominy softens.  Adjust seasonings.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Low Carb Burrito Bowls

I'm currently back on the LC wagon trying to get myself slimmed down for my trip to Vegas in a month.  Vegas, much like Halloween, is an excuse to slut it up with your wardrobe and nobody really thinks less of you.  Short, tight dresses aren't normally my "thang" so I need to shed a few lubs beforehand and low carb does it the quickest for me.

The thing I really like about LC is you get to eat so many things that are such no nos on other diets....you feel sorta....naughty. haha ;)  Any diet that lets me eat bacon and guacamole is the diet for me!  These burrito bowls are so good you really don't feel like your dieting at all. And with Cinco De Mayo just a few days away you can still celebrate and stick to your diet at the same time....and celebrations are what kill me normally!  If I feel like I'm missing out I'll cheat.  Pair these bowls with  a 'Poor Girls Skinny Margarita and you won't even feel the urge to cheat!

Start by making your low carb mexican rice


A head of cauliflower, garlic, half an onion, and an 8oz can tomato sauce



And because I'm losing my mind I forgot to add beef stock and cilantro in the picture


Grate the cauliflower and dice the onion.  Start sauteing them in a large pan. After the onion is starting to soften add in the minced garlic (about 3 cloves) and......



Pour in the entire 8oz can of tomato sauce and your beef stock.  I probably used somewhere between 1/4- 1/2 c. of stock...depending on the size of your head of cauliflower.  Let it all bubble together and let the liquids reduce.  See how much liquid is in the above picture?  In the end it will look more like this....





Season with salt and stir in chopped cilantro.  Mmmmm


The rest is really up to you.  I had leftover steak that I cubed up and reheated with butter and garlic in a frying pan. You could use machaca, shredded chicken....whatever creams your twinky!  Then pile on the toppings


I used sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cheddar, and green onions.


Sure there's still a few carbs.....it isn't carb free, but you get all the flavors of a delicious burrito without all the guilt! And to me that's what it's all about!  Think about it compared to a bowl with with rice.  A cup of white rice has 45 carbs!  If you had 2 tbs each of the guac, sour cream , and salsa,  this bowl had about 8-10 carbs in it.  That's pretty darn good