Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Best Part of Waking Up

Happy weekend readers! I don’t know how the weather has been for all of you, but here in Maryland, Sunday consisted of rain, rain, and then a lot more rain. Most people get a little down in the dumps when its cold and wet outside, but I always look at it as an opportunity to slow me down. For those who know me, I have a serious problem sitting still. It’s something that drives me boyfriend, and me from time to time, crazy. He tells me that I vibrate. No matter what we’re doing, I am always thinking of what to do next, where to go, how to occupy myself, and when all of those questions are exhausted, I’m tapping my foot, bouncing my leg (thanks grandma for that restless leg syndrome I so wonderfully inherited), or some sort of fidgeting. In the past, gloomy days like today have given me the worst type of cabin fever, but over the years I have learned to take advantage of them. I am so busy moving and doing, that when I have to be inside, I have learned to stop and breathe. This morning I woke up and immediately thought, what is something that I have wanted to do, but haven’t been able to sit still for and do… and doughnut holes popped into my head. A few weeks ago I happened upon the most delicious looking image of doughnut holes on Pinterest and immediately book marked the recipe. It was a picture of chocolate doughnut holes from Smitten Kitchen and they made me instantly drool. The only problem, I am not a huge chocolate fan, especially not for breakfast. So I did some experimenting this morning standing in front of a pan full of hot oil, and made these delicious apple doughnut holes. Some i rolled in cinnamon sugar, and some I covered in an apple glaze, and both were just delicious, and the perfect start to a rainy day. Although making your own doughnuts is not as easy as running to the nearest donut shop, who wants to get hold and wet over a dozen doughnut holes!

Apple Doughnut Holes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temp
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 apple, medium, peeled, cored, and grated/shredded
vegetable oil for frying

In a mixer, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt). All in eggs, milk, and butter and mix until a dough forms. Fold in apple shreds. Heat about 2 inches deep of oil in a pan to 350 degrees (Use a candy thermometer to monitor and maintain this temp during the entire cooking process). Drop dough into the oil, about a tablespoon at a time, and let cook on one side for 2 minutes, then flip over and cook for another two minutes, until the balls are an even golden brown. It is best to cook about 3-6 at a time. Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and let drain for a few minutes and cool. When cooled and drained, roll in cinnamon sugar (1 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon), or glaze with the apple glaze.

Apple Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp milk
1 tbsp apple juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Add in milk and apple juice and mix using a fork until all powdered sugar is dissolved. Stir in cinnamon. Roll doughnut holes in glaze and coat as desired. If you think the mixture is too think for your liking, add more apple juice 1/4 tsp at a time until desired consistency, but remember, a little bit goes a long way and you don’t want to get it too runny!

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I’m no Green Thumb.

The most wonderful thing about summertime for us Marylanders is the fact that things are finally green and for about 4 straight months, things actually grow and bloom and look wonderful. My mom, being a Californian, grew up with fresh fruits, veggies, etc in her backyard on hand year round at all times. How nice. So of course, her and my dad, as long as I can remember, have spent countless hours doing yard work as soon as the first little bud appears on a tree outside. I have never been one for getting my hands dirty, but after years of having fresh tomatoes on hand I am now willing to spare a day or two of dirt under my nails in exchange for fresh herbs, vegetables, and the occasional fruit just a few steps away from the kitchen sink. So naturally, with the weather starting to warm up and the plants starting to green up, I get the itch for those home grown fresh ingredients and the amazing recipes I can put together using them. Nothing tastes better than a juicy tomato fresh off the vine and some freshly picked basil leaves. So with this new summer inspiration, and cinco de mayo just around the corner, I grabbed a bunch of veggies and racked my brain for something delicious to throw together for dinner. So here is a great, and easy, chicken recipe that screams summer to me!

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Grilled Chicken with Summer Salsa

4 Chicken Breasts
Salt and Pepper for Seasoning
4 Tbsp Chili Powder

3 Large Tomatoes
1 Apple
1 Red Onion
1 Large Cucumber
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tsp Garlic Salt
Fresh cut Basil or Cilantro to taste. 

Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook on medium heat, turning occasionally, until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked thoroughly.  

Meanwhile…
Dice up all vegetables and mix together in a large bowl. Add oil, vinegar, and garlic salt and toss. Top with chopped herbs.

Serve chicken topped with salsa, or enjoy the salsa on the side with chips, crackers, or a toasted roll. 

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Easy as Pie

…Pizza pie that is. Lately I have been putting in some major overtime hours at work (Those student loans are not going to pay themselves, but boy do I wish they would!). So with late dinners and an early bed time, I have been racking my brain for how I can make a delicious meal without heating up something frozen, and avoiding the deadly drive through. So of course, the easiest thing to make that pops into my head is pizza. How can you go wrong with pizza! Cheese, loaded vegetables, crispy crust… divine! But how can I put a twist on the classic pizza, but still keep it easy and quick. So i did some research and found plenty of great ideas, but the one that a friend suggested to me was the winner, tortilla pizza. Now I don’t know about you, but I love the super thin, crunchy crust pizza’s that you can order from your typical pizza places, so a tortilla seemed the perfect substitution (plus a wheat tortilla makes it so much healthier, which helps with that diet I’m kinda sorta trying to stick to). So here is my rendition of a tortilla pizza. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Crispy Crunchy Tortilla Pizza

1 Large Tortilla, wheat or flour
2 Cups mozzarella cheese, although any Italian cheese would be delicious!
2 Tbsp pizza sauce or tomato sauce, I used 3 cheese tomato sauce for the extra creaminess
Toppings of your choice. Pictured is:
1 small sliced tomato
1 tsp dried oregano
Some sliced red onion
2 Tbsp fresh basil

On your stovetop grill pan, lightly oil the pan then add tortilla and cook on medium heat for a minute or two just to warm up. Add pizza/tomato sauce (be light on the sauce, too much can make the tortilla soggy, which is no good), and 1 1/2 cups cheese. Cover with a lid and let cook until the cheese is melted. Add toppings and then cover with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover with the lid again and let cook for 5 minutes, or until the tortilla is golden brown on the bottom. From here you can enjoy! Or, for extra crispness, stick the pizza in the oven under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese gets nice and bubbly. Or, if you’re feeling the summer weather, scrap the stovetop all together and cook on the grill for a slightly smokey flavor (which is my favorite way of cooking if you ask me.). Altogether, you made a pizza in less than 10 minutes, and using fresh ingredients makes it taste just that much better, and much healthier which is a plus!

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The heart of the batter.

When thinking about my first post to put up here, I spent hours contimplating whether it would be about one of my kitchen mess ups, like the countless times I’ve attempted to make bread, and it just won’t rise (feel free to leave me some tips in this area! I need all the help I can get) or to just jump in and try some spectacular new meal challenge, such as taking on risotto, which my friend can just magically whip up so effortlessly (its the best damn risotto I’ve ever ever eaten). Instead, I decided to stick to what I know. Baking.

So today I am going to share with you my most demanded cupcake recipe. Cupcakes are what made me get started with that Kitchen Aid mixer. But long before I could even reach the knobs to turn on an oven, my great grandma first introduced me to the joy of food. Most summers, my parents would pack up our old Toyota, and drive the 8 hours to a town in Ohio and visit my family for a mini vacation, and we always stayed at my great grandma’s. I don’t remember much, just that she always kept her Christmas tree up in her basement, lights and bulbs and all, and that she had the most fantastic garden I have ever seen. I call her to this day great grandma with the garden, because she grew everything she ate, and loved to garden. But my most fond memory of visiting her adorable little home is her apple butter. Every morning for breakfast I would sit at the table with my grandpa and dad and eat a piece of toast with her homemade apple butter on it. And it was the best damn apple butter. So obviously I still find any excuse to use apple butter on or in anything. And I only use locally made apple butter, just because I have become a snob about it thanks to great grandma with the garden.

So here is my loved Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Apple Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, inspired by Great Grandma with the garden.

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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper baking cups in 24 cupcake cups. Combine together flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set to the side.
In your mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition, and scraping the bowl as needed. Beat for an addition minute or two until nice and creamy. Beat in the pumpkin and the vanilla. The mixture may look a little chunky or not well blended, thats perfect! On low speed, mix in flour mixture, alternating with milk, beating until well blended.
Fill baking cups 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 18-23 minutes, or just until the edges turn golden brown. Allow cupcakes to cool completely until icing.

Apple Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup apple butter
1 tbsp cinnamon
8 oz powdered sugar

In mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add in apple butter and cinnamon, beating until combined and scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat for an additional minute until fluffy. Add in powdered sugar a little bit at a time, beating until combined and fluffy, but spreadable. Either pipe or spread on top of your cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

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