Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Glazed Cupcakes with Vanilla Creme Filling

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A couple of weekends ago I was watching Cupcake Wars on Food Network and it totally inspired me to bake.  I wanted to make cupcakes, of course, but wanted to do something "fancy" and something from scratch.  I got online and started searching for something and came across this recipe on one of my favorite food sites, Our Best Bites.  I've never made anything from them that I didn't like so I thought I'd give it a try.  Don't let this recipe intimidate you because it isn't hard, it just has several steps.  These cupcakes were TO DIE FOR!  I happen to absolutely love chocolate ganache and could simply eat it with a spoon so topping the cupcakes with it was just perfect.  I've used the vanilla creme before for cake frosting so I knew that would be great too.  Definitely try the creme recipe for cake frosting sometime, because it is really good and easy.  I hope you enjoy these and have a Happy Valentine's Day!


Devil's Food Cupcakes

1 C Flour
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar
4 T unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C luke warm water
1/4 C buttermilk

Position rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with liners. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. I know lots of people skip sifting, but in some recipes it’s really important. This is one of them, so just pop it in a strainer and shake all those lumps out.

In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and buttermilk, beating on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not over beat.
Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups- use a cookie scoop for even filling. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Anywhere from 15-20 minutes. Mine usually only take about 15- don’t over bake! Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then remove them and let them cool.

*My cake stuck a little more than I would like to the paper liners so I would suggest spraying them. 

Vanilla Creme Filling

3 T Flour
1/2 C milk (whole milk is best, but I use non-fat when it’s all I have and it’s actually fine)
1/2 C real butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. Smash any flour lumps with a rubber spatula to keep mixture smooth.

Keep cooking mixture until it resembles pudding.

Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. As it’s cooling, feel free to stir it occasionally to speed up the process and keep it from forming a crust on top. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.
It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Don’t be scared. It’s going to look like a goopy mess and kind of lumpy and separated.

But you just wait. It’s gonna blow your mind in a few minutes. Beat on med-high until it comes together and becomes light and fluffy. It can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
It will transform from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky. If the time has passed and it still looks like a hot mess, just keep on beating and it should eventually come together. Feel the mixture between two fingers to see if the sugar granules have dissolved; if not, just beat a little longer.

Use it to fill or frost cupcakes, cakes or other pastries. You can’t go wrong putting this on just about anything :)

*This is more than enough to fill 12 cupcakes.  If you're going to use it to frost a cake or cupcakes I suggest doubling it.

Time to fill cupcakes:

Now there’s 2 ways to fill a cupcake. I use them both depending on the consistency of the cupcake I’m using. See what works best for you. One option is to take a pastry bag with a regular tip on it and place it directly in the center of the cupcake. Press out filling while slowly pulling the bag up and out.

Another method is to take a sharp knife and remove the center of the cupcake in a cone shape. Place filling inside, cut the bottom of the “cone” off, and place the top part back on.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 C Cream
2 T real butter, melted
8 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
Place chocolate in a bowl. Pour melted butter over it. Place cream in microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes- it needs to be at a simmer. Immediately pour over chocolate and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for about 3 minutes and then stir until smooth. Let it cool until it’s a good spreading consistency and then spread on top of filled cupcakes.

That filling is so so good combined with the moist cake and silky ganache.  I will be making these again!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spanish Spaghetti with Olives

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Do you need a new take on that same boring spaghetti dinner?  If so, I have the answer right here with my Spanish Spaghetti with Olives.  This was fun to make (yes I said fun) and turned out delicious!  The rich meaty marinara sauce pairs perfectly with the tang of the olives and the subtle hint of heat that comes from the crushed red pepper.  My 3 picky kids even gave this a thumbs up!  I used ground beef but ground turkey would be great too I'm sure.  Oh, and how do you like the picture?  I finally dragged out my awesome photography light and love how this turned out.  Those little S&P birdies look like they want some spaghetti too! 


8 oz thin spaghetti
1 TB olive oil
3/4 C chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed saffron thread (OPTIONAL)
16 oz extra-lean ground beef
1 jar marinara sauce (about 32 oz)
1/2 C sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
1/4 C water or chicken broth
1 TB capers, drained
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.

While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic; saute 1 minute.  Add beef and cook until browned.  Stir in oregano, celery salt, red pepper, black pepper and saffron.  Stir in marinara sauce, olives, broth, capers, and half of the parsley.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. 

Either add pasta to meat mixture and combine or serve sauce over the pasta.  Whichever you prefer!  Sprinkle with remaining parsley.  Serves 4-6

Friday, January 6, 2012

Egg and Sausage Casserole

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Happy New Year!  I can't believe it is already 2012.  I am so ready for a new year and know that there are so many good things to come!  The last two months have been so crazy busy for me that I didn't realize I hadn't blogged in so long.  December was especially busy because I was asked by my kids' elementary school principal to make Cake Pop gifts for the entire faculty as Christmas gifts.  I ended up making about 400!  I was happy for the opportunity but I was so glad to be done with it.  We had a wonderful Christmas and were so thankful to spend it with our family here in Utah. 
One of my kids' (especially Ethan's) favorite dinners is this Egg and Sausage Casserole.  I don't remember where the original recipe came from but I've been making it for years and have changed it a bit.  It is so easy and quick too!  We always have it for dinner but it would, of course, make a great breakfast too.  It makes a whole 9x13 pan but it reheats great.  It is easy to lighten this up too by using Jimmy Dean's Low Fat pork sausage, low fat crescent rolls, and low fat cheese.  I hope you enjoy this easy recipe!  


1 lb ground pork sausage
1 (8 oz) tube refrigerated crescent roll dough
10 eggs, beaten
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Place sausage in a skillet and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.  Drain and set aside.
Line bottom of prepared baking dish with crescent rolls dough and sprinkle with crumbled sausage.  In a large bowl, combine beaten eggs and the rest of the ingredients.  Pour over sausage and crescent rolls.
Bake in prepared oven for 35-45 min, until eggs have set and top is golden. 
Makes 8 servings.