Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mocha Almond Cuppycakes

So the other night, the boyfriend and I had a small dinner party. Being that I have been on a sort of cupcake roll lately, I decided to continue down that path and experiment with flavors a bit. Well experiment, I did, and the results were tremendous! The rich blend of chocolate and coffee was amazing, but the icing on the cake (pun intended) was the sweet frosting that just pulled it all together.

I am absolutely in love with almond flavoring, and have been ever since my cousin and I made nearly half a ton of these Italian cookies which feature it as the main ingredient. It is uh-may-zing. I kid you not. So anyway, because I'm obsessed with it, I try to use it whenever I can. This recipe seemed perfect.

Mocha almond cupcakes. How can I describe them? They taste SLIGHTLY coffee-ish, but mainly like very dark chocolate. Unless you know there's coffee in there to begin with, you probably won't be able to taste it, but what you WILL be able to taste is decadence.

1 cup + 2 tbsp white flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cold coffee (I used regular, but I may try hazelnut next time, and believe me- there WILL be a next time!

2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine baking soda, cocoa powder, flour, and salt.

4. Slowly begin to add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Alternately add coffee. Continue alternating dry ingredients and coffee until all ingredients are incorporated.

5. Pour batter into 18 prepared baking tins (sprayed and floured or lined).

6. Bake for about 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

7. While the cupcakes are baking, make your frosting.

8. With a hand mixer, combine the butter, almond extract, and vanilla extract.

9. Slowly add cocoa powder alternately with milk.

10. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If you accidentally thin it out too much, add a little more powdered sugar. It's not too difficult to whip up a batch of frosting, now is it?

11. Decorate with a piping bag or with a spoon. Garnish with almonds, if desired.

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Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

It's been over three weeks since my last post, and believe me, I bet you all were thrilled to be exempt from feeling guilty about not clicking my blog. Fear not, though. I'm back an I've got an entire backlog of recipes to share!

First, I'll start with my bacon-wrapped scallops. As you know, I have been celebrating "date night" by preparing a delicious dinner that costs more than $2 per serving and is absent of leftovers. We have been eating quite a bit of fish lately, so I wanted to continue with the seafood theme while also getting creative. I know, I know... bacon-wrapped scallops isn't some novel culinary invention, but whatever. Have you ever made them in your home kitchen? No, you say? Well then don't judge!

I found a few recipes online, but because they all required a zillion steps that I didn't care to take, I decided that I'd wing it and do it my own way. As it turns out, my own way turned out to be just wonderful, if I do say so myself! I served with roasted green beans and red mashed potatoes made with garlic and plain fat free yogurt rather than sour cream. So, so good!

The recipe is incredibly easy, so I'm not really going to post the ingredients, but rather I'm going to skip to the method.


1. Obtain any quantity of large sea scallops.

2. Obtain half as many bacon strips as you have scallops. Slice each piece of bacon in half so that you now have as many bacon pieces as you do scallops. Amazing.

3. Wrap a piece of bacon around the scallop and secure with a toothpick.

4. Sprinkle top of scallop with garlic powder and salt.

5. Arrange foodstuff in a prepared baking dish.

6. Pour about a 1/4 cup of white wine around the scallops and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the  internal temperature reaches 120'.

7. Heat a frying pan and melt a dab o' butter. Sear the scallops on each side for about a minute so that they develop a gorgeous golden brown crust.  They should be about 145' inside. Pin It

Monday, October 8, 2012

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Just when I thought that my recipe for banana bread couldn't get any better, I went ahead and added a little bit of this and a little bit of that to achieve a level of chocolaty perfection that was previously unheard of. Seriously, my final product was absolutely sensational. In fact, it was so sensational that it almost forced me to give up on my diet for the day. But ah! I didn't HAVE to give up on my half-assed diet due to the fact that the recipe calls for applesauce instead of butter. Yeah, yeah... I know. I'm back talking about applesauce as a substitute, but seriously. It's an awesome swap and if you're not yet a a believer, this is the recipe to try as a first step.

Now not to pat myself on the back or anything (who am I kidding? I adore self-praise), but I really do have a knack for switching up my recipes and making them even better. Let the applesauce sub and the addition and subtraction of cocoa powder and flour, respectively, serve as evidence of my talents. I also added mini chocolate chips, but that's amateur stuff, so I'm not really looking for loads of credit on that one.

3 very ripe and spotty bananas, smashed to baby food-ish consistency
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (You must use minis, otherwise the regular-sized chips will sink to the bottom of the pan and you'll find yourself in a mess that I'm not willing to help you crawl out of)

1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In a large bowl, mix mashed banana, sugar, and eggs together. Add applesauce and stir until well incorporated.

3. In a smaller bowl, mix cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking power, and baking soda.

4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ones. Stir and scrape bowl.

5. Add mini chocolate chips and stir.

6. Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle top with mini chocolate chips if desired.

7. Bake for an hour.

I usually wrap my loaf in saran wrap almost immediately after it comes out of the oven. This traps in the moisture and keeps it tasting amaaayyy-zing. Also, I usually make this at night and let it sit till the morning. Breads and muffins always taste best when they've have time to rest and the flavors have had time to marry.

P.S. I'll post pictures soon, as I am currently too lazy to fetch my camera.
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash (Fat Free!)

Obviously, I've been going nuts posting about my dinner last night. I'm aware that I come across as crazy, but whatever. The food was delicious and it was incredibly easy to prepare, so it'd be selfish of me to keep all of this goodness to myself. If you know me, you know that I'm not a huge fan of sharing. I'm trying to work on that, and I feel that providing y'all with my recipes is a good start. Although, based on my audience feed, I have a feeling that most of my followers are Adsense "watchdogs". What the heck, friends? I'd like to know who my "real" followers are, so do me a favor and subscribe to what I pour my heart into. It doesn't cost you anything, so really, you have no excuse to hide your identity. Unless you're a stalker.
So anyway, I'd like to take a moment to chat about the recipe here. It's for roasted butternut squash, which really couldn't be easier. It's also great timing because it's in season! Whoo hoo! I actually just saw it at the farmers' market for $2 per pound. Ha ha. I'd like to support local farmers, but it's hard when I saw the same veggie on sale for 39 cents per pound the other day. Oh great, I've just invited a barrage of hate mail for that comment. 
The picture makes it look ugly.
Blame it in my ancient telephone.

The ingredients other than squash are really only for color, so they're not all that necessary. Therefore, if you don't have any of the extra stuff, don't worry about it. You're good in my book.

1 butternut squash
1 tbsp
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
1ish cup of water

1. Cut your squash in half, lengthwise. Cut each half in half.
2. Arrange your squash quarters in a deep baking dish. I used a stoneware baking dish that I got for my birthday. I love it!
3. Pour your water around the squash.
4. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar together, then sprinkle over the vegetable. I actually didn't do that, but I wish I had.
5. Shake a bit o' salt over it all.
6. You have two choices here. You can either bake for an hour and a half at 350' or you can bake it for less time at 400'. Whatever path you choose is fine by me. Just be sure to test the squash via the ever sophisticated method of fork puncture. Generally, I let my squash kick it old school in the oven after I turn it off. Maybe you'd like to copy me?
7. Slice it and throw it down. Yes, you can eat the skin.

Yes, this is a repeat photo, but I thought you might like to take a gander at the squash portion of the vegetable dish.

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Roasted Sweet Baby Peppers

Last night, as I was shopping for my date-night dinner, I stumbled upon a bag of baby peppers that happened to be on sale for a mere two dollars. Due to the fact that these little suckers were not only absolutely adorable, but also a complete bargain, I couldn't help but snatch up a bag to bring home. Immediately upon seeing them, I knew that they needed to be roasted. I mean seriously, there's really no other way to eat them.

Having never roasted peppers in the oven before, I turned to the Internet, only to find several sets of instructions that suggested that I put them in an oven heated to 450' for thirty minutes. That was after I was supposed to coat EACH pepper in two teaspoons of oil. GTFO. Not gonna happen. So, I decided to do it my way, which meant that I was going to use far less oil and bake them at the same temperature that I did my shrimp. The result? Perfection to sixth power. Yes, that's a real mathematical equation.
I didn't really measure anything, so I'm going to skip the ingredients and jump straight to the method.
1. Pour 1/4-ish cup of oil into a baking dish. Add a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. What I sprinkled in didn't even equate to 1/8 tsp combined, so seriously-- a dash of each is quite enough.
2. Place about 1 pound of peppers in dish. Coat them with the oil mixture.
3. Bake at 350' for about 15 minutes, then increase the temperature to 450 and bake for another 4-5 minutes. If what you're baking it with needs to bake for longer than 15 minutes, then by all means, let the peppers hang out for a little longer at 350'... maybe like 6-7 minutes. It's as simple as that.
So the picture above also includes a serving of roasted butternut squash. Stay tuned because that recipe is coming soon. 
This is how the table looked after the shrimp, squash, and peppers were all done up.

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Healthier Baked Stuffed Shrimp

Who doesn't love baked stuffed shrimp? Who doesn't love getting on the scale the morning after and realizing that they haven't gained three pounds from all that butter? Me, me, me!! Baked stuffed shrimp is one of my favorite things to eat, and I have finally found a way to make it without having to feel grease drip down my esophagus. The secret is to use applesauce instead of butter. For those of you who are skeptical, hear me out. You cannot taste the apple specifically, but what you CAN taste is amazing flavor that fails to hold a candle to butter. Honestly, I prefer the taste of these shrimp over any I've tried that have been made the traditional way. Pinky swear.

So the store brand buttery round crackers (Ritz crackers for all you mega zillionaires out there!) are the only bad thing in this recipe. Sure, a sleeve of buttered crackers really adds up, but compared to a more traditional recipe, it's not that bad. I paired this recipe with roasted baby peppers and butternut squash (recipes to follow). The combination was amazing, so I suggest you read allll the postings related to last night's dinner! :)

8 jumbo shrimp, shelled, de-veined, and butterflied
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed to resemble sawdust
1/2 cup  unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp dried parsley
juice of 1/2 lime (Yes... lime... NOT lemon!)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, depending on how hot you like it!)

1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. Combine crushed crackers and applesauce. Mix very well and add all remaining ingredients (less the shrimp).

3. Taste your mixture and make sure that you like it. It it's too dry, add more applesauce or lime, depending on which flavor you prefer. It's all about satisfying your taste buds!
4. Divide your cracker mixture into 8 portions. Make an oval and stick the mixture on top of the butterflied shrimp. Fold the tail over so that it sticks to the stuffing.
5. Place your shrimp on a prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tails turn pink.
6. Cut the remaining half lime into two wedges and squeeze over your shrimp if desired. To me, this makes the dish, but whatevs... it's up to you!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Freestyle Broccoli Quiche

Because of our chaotic schedules, Tuesday has been unoficially transformed into quiche night. I usually combine all of the ingredients the night before and pop the sealed container of raw ingredients in the fridge. That way, when Tuesday rolls around, all I have to do is pour the egg/broccoli mixture into a prepared pie plate and toss it in the oven for about an hour. Why don't I anticipate saving Tuesday time by pouring the mixture straight into my plate, you ask? The simple answer is that I don't trust that I won't spill it. What a horrible disaster that would be to have to clean up such a mess.

Anyway, on Monday night, I realized that I didn't have all of the ingredients that I normally use to make my standard broccoli quiche, so I did what any normal kitchen goddess would do. I improvised, and let me tell you, it was amazing! I used less milk and the leftover Mexican cheese that had been taking up residence in my refrigerator since the last time I made chili. I also didn't use any onions, which admittedly, aren't called for in my standard recipe, but are good to add in when your five pound bag of tear-creators is on the fritz.

I also omitted the crust, as I usually do, but this time, it was not by choice, but rather out of sheer necessity because I didn't have any butter kicking around. I know, I know... how does a girl who loves to bake not have a few tablespoons of butter laying around? Well my friends, had my seen my stomach bouncing around during my exercise sesh last night, you'd understand why.

2-3 cloves pressed garlic
1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese (Kraft makes this one with a "touch" of Philadelphia in it... it's to die for!)
4 eggs
1 cup skim milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bag frozen broccoli (I think this is a pound?), partially cooked via microwave

1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In bowl, beat eggs. Mix in salt, pepper, and garlic.

3. Add broccoli and cheese.

4. Pour egg-broccoli mixture into prepared pie plate.

5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let set for a few minutes before serving. Pin It

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Teriyaki Marinade

It has been very, very busy in my house lately , which means that I haven't had much time to dedicate to cooking up crazy concoctions of tummy-warming goodness. On nights that I have only fifteen minutes and leftovers are not an option, I turn to stir fry. How easy is it to whip up a stir fry, you ask? It's as simple as cutting up raw chicken, tossing a bag of frozen wok-ready vegetables in a pan, and stirring up a simple yet delicious marinade.

Prior to last night, I never measured out any of the ingredients for my marinade. I decided, however, that if I wanted to share my masterpeice marinade with you, that it would be in my best interest to take the time to use my colorful measuring spoons and cups. I think it was worthwhile.

This marinade is sweet with aromatic notes of cinnamon and ginger. You may think that adding cinnamon and ginger is strange, but don't hesitate.... just do it because its so, so good. The flavor is almost reminiscent of a peanut sauce, but the catch is that there are no peanuts! Who would have thought?! Next time, I may try adding a tablespoon or two of the creamy stuff, ya know, just to see what happens. :)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamom
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp red wine vingegar
2 tbsp water (or more, depending on how strong you like the flavor)

1. Mix all ingredients together.

2. Pour over stir fry ingredients (chicken, beef, vegetables, etc.) and cook until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

3. Brag to everyone on Facebook about how wonderful your cooking skills are. Don't forget to give me credit!

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Pop Cuties

As some of you may know, I am obsessed with all things pumpkin.There's just something so remarkably sweet about those cute little orange, plump, ribbed spheres of goodness. I love the way they taste, look, and smell (when combined with cinnamon et cetera). I should also mention that pumpkins are the only things I like about Halloween. To me, Halloween is just a scary time of year when evil-- and harlots-- are welcomed into society for a whole day. That's right... a whole day of scary and slutty. Oh dear.

So what's a girl to do during the season of Halloween madness? Well, my friends, I turn to pumpkin... and not the tainted ones that some creepy individuals choose to carve rather frightening faces into, either. I mean pure, unadulterated pumpkins in their unmarked flesh.
Anyway, I know it's early in the month, but I am already getting pumpkin fever, and Naturally, I wanted to try something creative that showcased my love for the sacred squash. So this is what I came up with: "White" chocolate covered marshmallows. It doesn't sound like much, but they're Ay-de-orable and I plan to make about three hundred more of them and force feed them to my loved ones in a last ditch effort to appear thin.

Ingredients/ Supplies:
1 cup orange candy melts (I used Wilton)
10 marshmallows (I used the store brand because they had a stronger shape. I bet it's because they were stale, but I found this preferable anyway.)
1 graham cracker
candy sticks
4 x 3 candy bags
green ribbon


1. Melt chocolate on the stove or in the microwave. If you're using the microwave, make sure to melt it in increments of thirty seconds so as to not burn the candy.

2. Crush your graham cracker and place the crumbs in a small dish. 

3. Poke the candy sticks into the center of each marshmallow and dip the marshmallow into the melted chocolate. I had to end up "frosting" my marshmallows because the chocolate wasn't thin enough. If you would like your chocolate to be thin enough to dip into, I'd suggest adding a teaspoon or so of shortening to the dish before microwaving.

4. Once the marshmallow has been adequately coated, press the bottom into the graham cracker crumbs. It looks like hay, doesn't it?! Let's just pretend it does.

At this point, my boyfriend said that he couldn't envision the final outcome. Instead, he said that they looked like pumpkin ejaculate. I can't make this stuff up.

5. Place your candy treat on a wax paper-lined dish. Once your treats are all made, pop the plate into the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.

6. After lots of time has passed, remove the marshmallows and bag 'em up. Then tie a ribbon and admire your little pumpkin cuties. 

Here, he admitted that they looked cute and stated that if I chose to pack one in his lunch tomorrow, all of his coworkers would be jealous. I'm all about making eighteen year old girls feel inadequate about their kitchen skills.

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