Monday, June 27, 2011

Mini Chocolate Chip Orange Cupcakes, my best leftover idea yet!

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the show Masterchef, but I am in love with it!  I could watch it a matter of fact I kind of do.  After I missed an episode cause I had to work, I looked for it online and in the process found out that there is a Masterchef Australia, which is on like everyday!  It is also addictive and awesome, as a matter of fact I like it more than Masterchef US.  Mostly cause they do Masterchef class, where they teach the students and the viewer a few recipes.  The one I watched last night featured Vincent Gadan, who is an amazing pastry chef.  After watching that, I HAD to bake, I just HAD to!

So I opened the fridge this morning, and what do I see?  A big tub of leftover chocolate frosting from my brother-in-law's birthday cake last week.  I knew that I couldn't waste what to do with it?  I know, combine it with oranges in a mini cupcake.  Low and behold, the chocolate chip orange cupcake was born!  I substituted orange juice for the water in the cake mix and added the zest of one large orange and a cup of chocolate chips.  I would have preferred mini chocolate chips, I'll have to try that next time.

Mix together the cake mix, orange juice, oil and eggs.

Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes until combined well.

Add in the chocolate chips and orange zest.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Orange Cupcakes
makes 48-60 mini cupcakes and 24-30 regular ones

1 package yellow cake mix
1 1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
Zest of one orange
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, orange juice, oil and eggs together for 2 minutes until well blended.  Add in the orange zest and chocolate chips.  Pour into baking pan and bake for 10 minutes (mini) or 18 minutes (regular).  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting with chocolate buttercream frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 2 cups or so

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup warm water
4 cups confectioners sugar (or how ever much it requires to reach the right consistency)

Cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Mix the cocoa into the water until dissolved.  Add into the butter and beat until well mixed.  Slowly add in the confectioners sugar until you get the consistency you desire.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Graduation cupcakes!

A few weeks ago now, our family had two graduations on the same little one graduated from preschool (I feel so OLD) and my brother-in-law graduated from high school.  In honor of such wonderful occasions I decided to make some cupcakes.  

For my daughter's, I made mini cupcakes with blue and pink graduation hats since those are the colors she and her classmates wore from graduation.  Then for our little BBQ at home, I made big cupcakes with green hats (that was my brother-in-law's school color) and pink ones for the graduation girl.  

Now, I must confess, that with all the things going on that week and the fact that I had to bake goodies for the end of the quarter parties at the college I work at, I cheated on these cupcakes.  Yup, that's right, I used box mixes.  See, I do it sometimes...not often but every once in a while you just don't have the time or energy to bake from scratch.  I do it, you guys do it...we all do.  So do you forgive me?!  : D

Grab some of these in whatever color you need.

Make candy squares for the graduation caps...

Whip up some quick buttercream frosting...


Place squares on top of the frosting and using a #2 tip, pipe on little tassels with yellow frosting.  

So stinkin' cute!

To make these, the directions are pretty simple.  Bake yourself up a bunch of cupcakes, whatever size, flavor and method you prefer.  Make some candy squares with candy melts, top cupcakes with frosting and candy squares then pipe on tassels with yellow frosting.  couldn't be easier!  And arent' they adorable!  I just loved the heck out of the mini ones!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blackberry Crumble for twelve...or one!

Tonight and tomorrow morning, the classes I test are having end of the quarter potlucks.  I have to say that these things are my favorite part of the quarter.  We all get to sit and socialize and eat yummy food.  What more could you ask for, right?  Since this is also my daughter and brother-in-laws graduation weeks (my daughter's from preschool, and my brother-in-law's from high school) it is a crazy hectic week for my family.  I already am going to be working hard on Friday decorating and working on some mini chocolate chip cupcakes made to look like graduation caps...I didn't want to spend all of today baking too.

I decided I wanted to make something simple, something I could throw in a baking pan and be done with.  I thought of blackberry crumble.  Seemed like the perfect idea till I though of having to bring a spoon and dig out two baking dishes and so on, yup I was back to square one.  Then, light bulb, bring them pre-portioned out...bake them in cupcake liners!  Duh!  So here you have them, mini blackberry crumbles.  They smell delicious...gosh I hope I can resist until tonight...I hope the other batch makes it till morning!  These are going to require a sign to keep my family away for sure!

Add the sugar and tapioca to the blackberries.

Stir to coat them...

Spoon into the cupcake liners and bake for 15 minutes.

While you wait, go ahead and make the oatmeal crumb topping!  Yum!

When the berries are done, spoon on the topping and bake another 15 minutes.

Cool for about 15 minutes and then enjoy!

Mini Blackberry Crumbles
makes 12 mini crumbles or one big one
adapted from For the Love of Cooking

3 cups frozen or fresh blackberries
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. instant tapioca
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. oats
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. softened butter

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Start by placing the berries in a bowl and allow them to defrost a bit if frozen.  Sprinkle on the sugar and tapioca and mix well.  Spoon into 12 cupcake liners placed in a muffin tin.  (Or pour into a small baking dish.)  Bake for 15 minutes (20 if in a baking dish).

Meanwhile, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a bowl using a fork or pastry blender.  Mix until crumbly.

When the timer goes off, remove the berries from the oven and spoon the topping over them evenly.  Bake for another 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.  Great served along side vanilla bean ice cream!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Ultimate Peanut Butter Brownie

Earlier on this week, my husband turned to me and asked if I was planning on baking this Friday, and if so, he had a request.  Now originally I had planned on taking this week off since I baked three things last week but my hubby almost never makes requests so I decided to humor him and make his delicious request.  You see, he wanted brownies...peanut butter brownies.  I don't know about you all, but I feel like there is no better combination in the world than peanut butter and is like a gift from God!  Yummy!

So Thursday night, I found myself contemplating these peanut butter brownies...should I put peanut butter swirls...or peanut butter cups...or I know, crumble up peanut butter cookies?  What to do, what to do?!  I decided to take a page out of the Mythbusters know the Mythbusters, right?  (I love me some Mythbusters!)  Well, I decided if it was worth doing, it was worth overdoing!  I did all of them, the peanut butter swirls, cookie crumbs and peanut butter cups.  It's a peanut butter and chocolate explosion in your gooey and peanut buttery and chocolately...mmm...yummy...I almost don't want to share these with anyone!

Start by baking some peanut butter cookies...

Chop up some peanut butter cups...

And a couple of those cookies we just talked about...

Pour your batter into a pan...

Sprinkle on the goodies...

Bake and viola!  They you have it, the ultimate peanut butter cookies!

Ultimate Peanut Butter Brownies

1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixing bowl cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Mix until completely incorporated.  Pour into a greased 9"x13" baking dish and sprinkle cookie pieces and peanut butter pieces on top.  Drizzle on the melted peanut butter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pizza Calzones!

On my last day off I found myself contemplating the typical question my whole family wonders about from 2-5 pm...what is for dinner?!  (And who's cooking it...though on the nights I am home that is usually the easy part to answer.)  I felt that we needed to have something fun and yummy...and rewarding since about half of the family was outside slaving away to get some garden work finished before it started raining again.  Seriously Washington, I know you are known for your rain and all, but it was Memorial Day was supposed to be nice!

After much thought and consideration of how energetic I felt about cooking, I decided on pizza calzones.  They are pretty easy and fun to make, plus my family loves them.  They disappear every time.  I mean, what's not to like, its like a pizza pocket but way better!

Start by making a batch or two of pizza dough.  You can also buy store bought, but it really isn't any easier to work with and the homemade stuff tastes much better.  Plus you can talk about how you baked it from scratch...then your family has to practically worship your cooking skills!

Place all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl while the yeast is set aside to activate.

Once the yeast mixture is active, add it and the olive oil to the dry ingredients.

Mix until completely incorporate.  It will form a slightly sticky dough.

Knead in a stand mixer or by hand until soft and smooth.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl to rise until about double.

Pizza Dough
Makes about 1 large pizza or six decent sized calzones
adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis's recipe on epicurious

3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast from the jar)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil

Start by dissolving the yeast into the warm water.  Let it sit until it is slightly foamy.  While you wait, place the flour, sugar, salt and Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl.  Give it a little stir and set it aside until the yeast mixture is ready.

When the yeast mixture is active, pour it and the olive oil into the mixing bowl and mix it until completely incorporated.  The dough should be sticky, but not overly so.  If it is really sticky, add a little bit more flour to the mix until it is just slightly sticky.  It should stick to you hands when you put them in the dough but not be difficult to remove.

Switch the beater to a dough hook if you are using a stand mixer or turn the dough out onto a floured surface if you aren't, and knead until soft and smooth.  It took me about 5 minutes on the stand mixer.  This will also make the dough less sticky so don't worry too much if you start with slightly sticky dough.

Place the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel for about an hour or until the dough has risen to twice its size.  When it is done rising, place it on a lightly floured surface and either cut into 6 pieces for calzones or roll out for a pizza.  (That is about how much a single recipe makes.)

Cut dough into pieces to make calzones.

Roll dough out until about 6-8" in diameters.

Place sauce, cheese and fillings on the dough and then fold to form a half circle.  Pinch to seal in the fillings.

Pizza Calzones
Pizza dough (as many batches as you need to make enough)
fillings such as pepperoni, salami, peppers, olives, etc.
Pizza sauce, 1 medium jar made about a dozen calzones
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 500F.

Take a piece of the pizza dough and roll it out using a rolling pin until it is about 6-8 inches in diameter.  Place a spoonful or two of sauce on the dough and spread till about 1/2" from the edge.  Place a layer of cheese down and then top it with whatever fillings you like.  We used ground sausage, mini pepperoni, canadian bacon, bacon bits and green peppers.  Top all of that off with another layer of cheese and carefully fold one side of the dough over to the other so that the edges meet up and form a half circle shape.  Be careful to keep all the goodies inside while doing this.  You might need to stuff a few runaways back in here.  Press the ends together and then fold over in whatever design or however you'd like, to keep all of the fillings in!

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden browned.