Monday, September 29, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Sunday, September 28, 2008

vegetable not-sagna pasta toss

That name is very Rachel Ray, isn't it... unnecessarily grating but solid nonetheless. I only vaguely followed this recipe but I liked the technique of mixing in the pasta water with the cheese -- it made a simple and really delicious sauce. My notes in brackets.

Ingredients

1 pound curly pasta (recommended: campanelle or cavatappi by Barilla)
Coarse salt
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach [I used a whole bag of fresh]
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium zucchini [I used yellow squash]
12 cremini or baby portobello mushrooms, sliced [I skipped]
[I added about five tomatoes plus a handful of cherry tomatoes]
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 roasted red pepper, drained, pat dry, quartered lengthwise then thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese [I used ricotta con leche, which is almost fat-free]
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, a couple of handfuls, plus some to pass at the table
1 cup fresh basil leaves, about 20 leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg, eyeball it [yum, eyeballs]

I skipped all of these:
2 rounded tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup milk


Directions

Heat a pot of water to a boil for pasta. Salt boiling water and cook pasta to al dente. Heads up: reserve a ladle of the hot cooking water just before you drain pasta.

Place the frozen spinach on a plate and microwave to defrost it according to your microwave's directions. Place defrosted spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring out the liquid. [I skipped all of that]

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Halve the zucchini lengthwise then thinly slice into half moons and add to the pan along with the mushrooms. [I added tomatoes in this step] Cook 2 to 3 minutes then add onions and garlic to the pan. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. When the onions are tender, about 5 minutes, add defrosted spinach, separating into small bits as you handle it, and the roasted red peppers and toss to heat through.

[I skipped these whole step with the sauce and just picked up with the ricotta] Transfer veggies to a dish and return skillet to stove top. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and the butter. When the butter melts into extra-virgin olive oil, add 2 rounded tablespoons of flour and cook a minute or so, then whisk in stock and milk. Bring to a bubble and thicken the sauce, reducing it 2 to 3 minutes. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slide vegetables back into sauce.

Place the part-skim ricotta in a large shallow bowl and combine with a ladle of boiling, starchy pasta cooking water. Stir to combine then add in a couple of handfuls of grated cheese. [I added nutmeg and red pepper in this part]

Drain pasta and toss with cheeses. Add half the vegetables and sauce to pasta and toss to combine. Tear or shred basil and toss into pasta. Adjust seasonings. Top bowlfuls of Vegetable Not-sagna with remaining veggies in sauce and pass extra grated cheese at the table.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dog treats: bacon and olive oil

I'm at it again with the dog treats. I can't help it, Sally ate all the other ones. That may be partially due to Ernie and Gaby liking to feed them to her, because she gets so very excited.
These were not quite as easy to make, because the dough is more crumbly. But I think Sally actually likes them better than the peanut butter ones.
Of course, that is probably because they're filled with bacon-y goodness.

2 packages real bacon bits
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. beef broth
1 c. corn meal
3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/3 c. warm water

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal and bacon bits. In a large measuring cup, stir together 1 1/3 c. warm water and the broth and pour into dry ingredients. Add the olive oil and stir together to form a loose dough. Knead on a work surface until smooth.
Roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thick, and then cut into 1-inch squares.
Bake 12 minutes, flip, and then bake 12 more minutes. Let cool completely.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Slow cooker vegetable lasagna

This was so, so tasty. And, as with almost everything for the slow cooker, really easy.
One warning, though -- it's not pretty when it comes out of the slow cooker, just because everything has been in there cooking together. But it tastes great, and I didn't really care that it wasn't pretty.
Plus, vegetarian! I'm always happy when I can get Ernie and Gaby to eat a meal with no meat.
Also, I made this in my really big slow cooker (6 qt., maybe?) and it filled the whole thing. You might want to scale it down a little bit if you've got a smaller slow cooker.

From the slow cooker genius, of course.

1 26 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 small container of ricotta cheese (I recycled the plastic already. 10 oz? 12 oz?)
8 slices of mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded Italian cheese mix
1 large eggplant
3 summer squash
1 pound of slices mushrooms
bag of baby spinach
2 Tbsp. warm water


Wash all of the vegetables. Slice the squash and the eggplant in long, slices, about 1/4 inch thick. These are going to be your noodles! I did not peel the squash or the eggplant. In the bottom of your slow cooker, pour about 1/4 cup of pasta sauce. Layer in a few pieces of squash and eggplant. Smear some ricotta cheese on top. Add a handful of baby spinach and mushrooms, and a few slices of mozzarella cheese. Pour in some more pasta sauce. Continue layering the ingredients until your crockpot is full, and you have run out of ingredients. Top with the end of the pasta sauce and the shredded cheese. Put 2 tablespoons of warm water into the empty pasta sauce jar, cover, and shake. Pour the remaining sauce on top of everything.
Cover your crockpot and cook on low for 5-8 hours (I did 3 hours on high, 1 on low). This is done when the vegetables have reached their desired tenderness and the cheese is melty.

Peaches and Cream Pie

My grandmother made this pie for us this weekend. It's different from most pies because it has a cake-y "crust" and a layer of cream cheese filling. It was a nice change from a typical pie.

Step 1:
3/4 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. milk
3 Tbsp. butter
1 small package instant vanilla pudding

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients at medium speed. Spread in 9" round pan.

Step 2:
1 (15 oz) can of peaches, drained, juice reserved

Place peaches on top of batter.

Step 3:
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
1/2 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. peach juice (from canned peaches)

Mix together and beat well. Spread on top of peaches. Do NOT spread to edge of pan.

Step 4:
Mix 1 tsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of pie. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baked Butternut Squash and Apples

Another blogger, Kerry at To Every Meal There is a Season, posted this recipe on her site. It's originally from Simply In Season (World Community Cookbook). It's one of those dishes that could be a dessert or a side dish. I served it with sausages last night and the sweet/savoury combination was truly yummy.


2 lbs butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and fibers removed; cubed)
2-3 baking apples (roughly chopped)
1/3 c brown sugar
3 T butter, melted
1 T flour
1/4 tsp allspice

Arrange squash and apples in baking dish. Combine next 4 ingredients in a small bowl then sprinkle on top of apples and squash. Cover and bake at 350 degrees until squash is tender, 40-50 minutes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

our collective awesomeness

I am lifting a glass to all of the food blog contributors at the moment -- we have collected so many good recipes here that tonight, instead of looking online or in a cookbook for something to make with only the contents of my refrigerator, I did a search on Food Goodness. I found Becky's three-cheese penne and made a variation of it, and it was really delicious. We have achieved critical mass! We are so excellent.

smooth-enough tomato sauce

I think of myself as a fairly competent cook, but not a very confident one. I use recipes more than half the time and usually think they turn out better than most of what I make up on the fly. So, when I went to make this recipe from Bittman's lackies -- found here, and I wound up with a variation of the first one -- and realized very quickly that it just wasn't working, I got a little nervous. But it went OK and the tomato sauce turned out pretty well. I can't say that this was Worth It in capital letters; the amount of time and attention it takes doesn't seem proportional to the amount of better it is than a jar of Classico. If you find yourself with 6 million pounds of tomatoes and no clue what to do with them, though, I'd recommend it.

Core and chop 50-60 tomatoes. I used the food processor with regular blade on it -- not pureed, because there should still be some small chunks. Drain off as much of the juice as you can.

Saute lots of chopped onion and garlic in a giant pot. Add two or three chopped red peppers and saute until soft. Add the tomatoes and a generous pinch of salt and red pepper.

"Raise the heat so the mixture bubbles off water as soon as it appears. You’re not stewing the tomatoes as much as you’re caramelizing them, so be aggressive here." -- says the Bittman surrogate. This is the place where I completely left the recipe behind -- there was so much water, there was nothing resembling carmelizing going on. So what I did, which sounds ridiculous, is boil it at full heat for about five hours. Stirring once every 10 minutes or so. Really. Still no caramelizing. Feet hurt afterward.

When the sauce has finally thickened, there is still a lot of chopped tomato residue on the bottom of the pot. Stir in a generous splash of balsamic to taste, a little sugar, more salt, more red pepper. Cool for a little while, until it isn't crazily hot.

Use the immersion blender and puree until smooth-ish. There are still small chunks in mine and it's not perfectly smooth, but it's pretty close. Stir in ridiculous amounts of chopped basil and parsley to taste. Find someone to give you a foot rub.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clams in herb broth

This is adapted from a Gourmet recipe

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
2 medium tomatoes, cored, chopped (from my garden!)
3 cups dry white wine
1 cup water
3-4 dozen small littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (from my garden!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme (from my garden!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (from my garden!)
2 pinches of dried crushed red pepper


Melt butter with olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add white wine and 1 cup water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.
Bring broth to boil. Stir basil, parsley, oregano, and crushed red pepper into broth in pot. Add clams, cover, and cook until clams open, 5-7 minutes minutes (discard any clams that do not open).

Note: The original recipe actually calls for you to then remove the clams from the pot, and add linguine and cook until al dente. Then add clams back in and simmer until everything is cooked through. I was too lazy to do that, so we just sopped up the broth with some nice fresh baked bread.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spicy Chickpea Stew

Courtesy of Weight Watchers

If you buy baby eggplants (I did) or Japanese eggplants, you can skip the usual salting step.

1 1/2 lb eggplant cut into 1/2" cubes
4 t olive oil
1 T minced onion
1 T minced carrot
1 T minced celery
1 T grated peeled gingerroot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T raisins
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t ground cumin
14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes
1/4 t hot sauce
16 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 fresh or frozen peas
2 T chopped parsley
1.5 C cooked couscous

Makes 4 servings, 7 pts/serving

In a large skillet (I used my dutch oven), heat the oil. Saute onion, carrot and celery until wilted, about 5 min. Add the ginger and garlic, saute 30 sec. Add eggplant and saute about 5 min or until beginning to soften. Stir in raisins, cumin and cinnamon and stir well. Add tomatoes and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 min. Add water if stew becomes too thick. Stir in chickpeas and green peas and simmer 10 min. Stir occasionally. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over couscous.

*I almost never make a recipe exactly as it is written. I omitted the celery and carrots and replaced them with a mix of red and yellow peppers. I also upped the qty to about 1 C and did about 1/4 C onion. I used about 1/3 to 1/2 C raisins (1 T of raisins? You may as well not bother). And, because I was out of couscous, I used a mix of Israeli cousous, red quinoa and baby chickpeas from TJs. Lastly, I skipped the hot sauce and used diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers. Just the right amount of heat and flavoring and not too sweet or savory. We ate this with whole wheat dinner rolls but could have used naan.

summer squash casserole

I think Shannon and I both made this last week -- it's very decadent and cheesy. From A Veggie Venture.

Serves 8 [not in my house -- was more like 4 or 5 servings]

2 pounds yellow squash, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced into half moons

SAUCE
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream [I used fat-free plain yogurt]
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 egg yolks, beaten slightly with a fork
2 tablespoons chopped chives

TOPPING
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup panko or dried bread crumbs [I used a mixture of both]
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Chopped chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F.

SQUASH
Place squash pieces in a microwave-safe dish, add a tablespoon or two of water and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high until squash reaches the desired tenderness. (It won't soften much more in the oven, so do watch the tenderness. I cooked the squash until it was cooked but still had some slight bit of bite.) Drain if needed.

SAUCE
In a saucepan, melt the butter, sour cream, cheese, salt and paprika until smooth. A tablespoon at a time, whisk the hot sauce into the eggs, then return to the saucepan. Stir in the cooked and drained squash. Arrange in a greased shallow casserole dish.

TOPPING
Mix the topping ingredients. (Next time I'll brown these a bit in a skillet.)[I did this -- not sure if it made a difference.] Arrange evenly across the squash.

BAKE
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until hot and bubbly clear through. If the topping isn't browned, slip under the broiler for a few minutes, watching carefully so not to burn. Sprinkle with the chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lemon Pork With Cumin - Slow Cooker

This was really yummy, and I made some mashed potatoes and roasted some parsnips, carrots and apples which went with it nicely.

I used two pork steaks instead of the leg joint, half a lemon and didn't have any white wine so only used the recommended amount of stock. I also didn't have any cumin seeds, so I used ground instead and chucked some extra in because I love it so much. I will probably use slightly less lemon next time for my smaller recipe because the flavour really intensifies with the slow cooking and it was a bit unbalanced. But still very delicious.

Here's the real recipe from The Slow Cooker Cookbook by Gina Steer.

Serves 6

1.5kg/3lb pork leg joint
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large lemon, preferably unwaxed or organic, cut into wedges
150ml/ 1/4pt dry white wine
300ml/ 1/2pt veg or chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
few fresh sage leaves
1 tbsp cornflour
lemon wedges and fresh sage leaves to garnish


1. Preheat the slow cooker on high. Discard the rind and any excess fat from the pork joint. Heat the butter in a frying pan, sear the pork on all sides and place in the cooking pot.

2. Add the onion, garlic and cumin to the butter remaining in the frying pan and saute for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon wedges to the pan and continue to saute for another 3 minutes; then spoon over the pork joint.

3. Blend the wine, stock and soy sauce and pour over the joint; then add the sage leaves. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 5-7 hours.

4. Remove the joint from the pot and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquor into a pan and bring to the boil. Blend the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of water, then stir into the boiling stock. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and smooth. Serve with the joint, garnished with lemon and sage leaves and freshly cooked vegetables.


** If you like crisp skin on the joint, do not brown the joint before cooking. Once cooked, remove the pork joint from the cooker and grill the skin under a preheated grill for about 10 minutes.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Slow cooker stewed tomatoes

I love stewed tomatoes. I usually only want to eat them when I've got macaroni and cheese, but you could eat them anytime, I guess.
Usually I just open up a can and heat them on the stove, so I was excited to try this recipe today. It didn't disappoint -- these were much better than the ones you get in the can, and really simple. And it made a ton, enough for Ernie and I to both eat them (Gaby does not eat tomatoes), a container for the fridge and another for the freezer.
I think you could make them with fresh tomatoes (I'm thinking of you, grower of all the tomatoes), you'll just need to increase the cooking time so that they get nice and soft. And I'm thinking you don't even have to blanch and peel them, the skins will slide right off when you take them out of the slow cooker. Perhaps I'll have to pick some tomatoes this week at the farm, so I can give it a try.

Recipe, not surprisingly, is adapted slightly from the Year of Crockpotting.

2 cans of whole plum tomatoes (28 oz cans), drained (I used regular canned whole tomatoes, peeled, because I couldn't find plum)
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (I didn't use this, because we were having mac and cheese)
4 T butter, sliced (you might be able to decrease this to 3 Tbsp. I decreased it from the 5 she called for)

Drain the tomatoes--use a strainer--you don't need any of the can liquid. Put the tomatoes into the crockpot. Sprinkle on the ground black pepper. Add the Parmesan cheese, if uesd. Slice your butter into thin squares, and dot them over the top of the cheese.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until cheese is bubbly and is beginning to brown.

Blueberry crumb bars

Recipe shamelessly taken from Smitten Kitchen, who I have a total cooking blog crush on.

I've had the blueberries in the fridge for more than a week as I tried to find the time to make these bars. I finally made the time this morning, and I'm glad I did. So, so good. I'm going to polish off the whole pan myself.

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Technique: Potato Ricer as Veggie Dryer

Ok, so this isn't a recipe, but a technique that I discovered last night while making zucchini bread. After reading Hef-K's comments about her zucchini bread taking forever to bake due to the high water content in the zucchini, and suggesting that folks dry their zucchini before using, I decided to find a solution to this problem. If you're like me and have closets and cabinets and drawers and basement shelves full of cooking gadgets and implements and widgets, you might have a potato ricer. After shredding the zucchini in the food processor, I loaded it into the ricer and squeezed most of the green juice right out. It took 10 seconds and worked incredibly well, leaving me with piles of "drained" zucchini shreds without staining a nice clean dish towel green. I think this will be a particularly good method for draining thawed frozen spinach, which always yields a ton of deep green water.

garden fresh tomato soup

I felt like I needed to find a recipe specifically for fresh tomatoes rather than canned, although I'm not sure if it made a difference. In any case, this is good -- I tripled the recipe and am going to freeze most of it, and I think I'll stir in some parmesan and milk or cream when I defrost.

4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 slice onion
4 whole cloves [I only had ground, and you can really taste them... I like it, but if you don't care for cloves, I'd skip this step]
2 cups chicken broth [I used vegetable]
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste [I used less than this]
big splash of balsamic vinegar [I added this based on the comments from All Recipes]

In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and run the mixture through a food mill into a large bowl, or pan. Discard any stuff left over in the food mill.

In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar and salt, and adjust to taste.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Beef stroganoff

Ernie really likes steak. I could take it or leave it, honestly, but since he puts up with me cooking a lot of chicken and fish (or vegetarian), I make steak for him once in a while.
I do very much like beef stroganoff. It's one of my father's favorite meals and I can remember my mother making it for him on special occasions (his birthday, their anniversary, when he'd come home from sea).

This recipe is from "Mama Now Cooks Like This"

2 lb. sirloin, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 c. (one stick) butter
2 c. coarsely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced (I put mine through the press)
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp. flour (I thought my gravy was a little thin. Next time I'll use more flour)
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c. beef stock
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
handful of chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. dry fettuccine
2-3 Tbsp. butter

Brown strips of meat well in 1/2 c. butter. Remove from pan, but keep warm. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and cook until tender.
Stir flour into vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add beef stock and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Combine white wine, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and parsley. Add to pan.
Cook fettuccine in boiling water according to directions. Drain and toss with butter. (or not. I didn't)
Return meat to pan and cook until reheated.
Serve meat and sauce on a bed of noodles.

(sort of) Slow cooker chimichungas

I love chimichungas. I even love to just say chimichungas.
This is what's for dinner tonight. I tasted the meat a few minutes ago, and it's really good. I think you could use chicken instead, just adjust the cooking time. In fact, I'll probably try that next time.

Recipe from here. We are having this with salsa (not homemade, unfortunately), sour cream and guacamole.

1 1/2 pound hunk o' meat (I used a chuck roast)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup water
1 T dried minced onion, or 1 diced fresh onion
1 can tomatoes and chiles--drained
1 can diced tomatoes--drained
burrito-sized tortillas, and whatever toppings you like

Salt and pepper your meat on all sides. Plop it into the crockpot and cover with 1/2 cup of water. Add onion Cook on low all day---I cooked this for 8 hours.
After your meat has cooked all day, remove it carefully. Skim the fat out of the liquid at the bottom of your stoneware, and remove excess juice. You really only need about a cup of juice left in the crock.
Put your meat back inside, and shred it with two forks. The meat should come apart easily. If it doesn't, cut it in pieces and cook on low a few more hours.
Add the can of drained diced tomatoes and drained tomatoes and chiles.
Turn your crock to high to warm everything up.
When the meat is hot again, start making your little chimichanga packets. Steam a few tortillas at a time by stacking them on a plate and covering with a dampened paper towel. Microwave for 60 seconds.
Take a steamed tortilla and plop a spoonfull of meat in the center. If you use too much meat, it won't fold correctly.
Fold the bottom and top of the tortilla, then the sides. The sides need to overlap a bit, so the meat doesn't escape.
Heat up some oil in a big skillet. When it is super hot, carefully put the chimichanga into the oil, seam-side down. Fry until golden brown (about 1 min) then flip.
Top with cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

chocolate zucchini muffins/cupcakes

Are they muffins? Are they cupcakes? You decide! (I prefer to think of them as muffins... they sound healthier that way...)

I saved this recipe twice in my recipe bookmarks, tagged once as each. Brilliantly, I also forgot the eggs when I was baking this today -- and I'd doubled it to use up a huge zucchini, so that's a total of six missing eggs. I made 12 muffins to take to work and two large breads, and they all taste great, but the bread completely falls apart when you cut into it. Oh well, more for us. I'm not complaining.

1 1/2 cups (360 mL) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil
3 eggs [don't forget them, duh]
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (120 mL) buttermilk [I substituted low-fat yogurt]
2 cups (480 mL) grated zucchini
1 cup (240 mL) chocolate chips
2 cups (480 mL) unbleached flour
1 cup (240 mL) cocoa, sifted [I never sift anything]
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) allspice [I substituted nutmeg, but you can't really taste it through all the chocolatey-ness]
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease large muffin pans and line with muffin cups.

In a medium bowl mix together the sugar, butter and oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well Incorporated. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and mix until well combined. Spoon batter into large muffin pans. Bake in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, while preparing the icing (hs note: I made these without the icing, also - don't overcook them or you will lose all the moist goodness - you want them to look almost done in the oven - they will continue to cook for a few minutes after you pull them from the oven from the residual heat).

Yields 9 large cupcakes or 20 standard cupcakes.

from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook by Audrey Alsterburg & Wanda Urbanowicz

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting

Mmm...cupcakes.
A few weeks ago Ernie and I discovered there is a CakeLove counter in Tyson's Corner mall. Unfortunately, they don't stack the buttercream frosting as high as they do at the one in DC. Which of course got us to asking ourselves why we were paying $4.50 a cupcake when I could just make some.
So today I did. I made the cupcakes while Gaby was still at school, so that we could make the frosting when she got home and decorate them together.
Which is why some of them look like this:

This recipe is from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook. The Magnolia Bakery, if I remember correctly, is in NYC and is the one where Carrie used to shove whole cupcakes in her mouth during episodes of SaTC. I could be wrong about that, but I think that's right. (we went there during our SaTC tour last year, but I was not feeling great that day)

Chocolate cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (see Note)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


Vanilla buttercream frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar (I used 6 cups). If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.