Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vampire Cupcakes

Vampire Cupcakes
I got this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Baking Bites. I actually took the easy way out and started with a mix and store-bought icing...I'm sure hers tastes better being homemade, but alas, this pesky dissertation thing keeps getting in the way. The only other tweak was that I supplemented the cherry pie filling with writing-icing gel for the "blood" dribbles.

1 package (18.25 ounces) white cake mix with pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin pans with 24 muffin liners.
2. Beat above ingredients ~2min or until smooth
3. Fill ~2/3 full with cake mix
4. Bake 15-20 min or until toothpick almost clean
5. Cool completely

1 can cherry pie filling

Puree cherry pie filling in a food processor until fairly smooth. (Very small pieces of cherries are ok.)
Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top.
Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the cherry filling and spoon about tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity, filling it almost to the top with filling. Top off with the flat circle of cake you just removed to seal the hole and hold the “blood” filling in place.

Frost with white icing (I used whipped fluffy white)

Dip a wooden toothpick or skewer into some leftover cherry pie filling and poke two fang-holes, about 3/4 inch apart, in the frosting on one side of the cupcake. Dribble a little extra filling from the holes for effect.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Squash and Panko Casserole

Squash and Panko Casserole

4 medium-sized yellow squash, cut into 1/4'' half moons
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic salt

1/2 medium carrot, grated
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
4 Tbsp butter, melted

1) Simmer squash, onion, salt and pepper, over medium heat, about 15 minutes or until squash are soft.
2) Stir in 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup cheese, milk, and grated carrot. Transfer to an oiled baking dish.
3) Top with remaining breadcrumbs and cheese, and drizzle with melted butter.
4) Bake at 350 F in a preheated oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Icebox Cake

Icebox Cake

3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies
Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings)
In a large bowl, beat cream, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
On a flat serving plate, arrange 7 cookies side by side in a circle, keeping 1 cookie in the center.
Spread with 1/2 cup whipped cream, making a 7-inch circle. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making 11 layers of cookies and ending with a layer of cream (there will be a few cookies left over). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, dust top lightly with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.

(I had to use oreos with the middles scraped out...)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Navajo Stew

This is a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, and we've loved it since we had it with our friends in Asheville last winter. It's hearty, healthy, and spicy -- perfect for cool fall and winter nights...

Navajo Stew
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 red or green bell peppers
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can of tomatoes
1 Tbsp. canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz.) can of butter beans of black beans, drained
flatbread (tortillas, lavash, or pita)
plain yogurt, sour cream, or Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Lightly oil a baking sheet.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes.
Stem and seed the peppers and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Peel the onion and cut it stem end to root end into thin wedges.
In a bowl, toss the vegetables with the garlic, oil, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Spread on the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Stir and continue to roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender but not mushy.
While the vegetables roast, puree the tomatoes, chipotles, and cilantro in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
When the vegetables are tender, put them into a 2- to 3-quart baking dish, stir in the tomato-cilantro sauce and the beans, and return to the oven until hot, about 10 minutes.
A few minutes before serving, warm the bread in the oven. Serve the stew in bowls topped with yogurt or sour cream, with warm flatbread on the side.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumpkin Apple Cake

This was a great recipe find from Zoe Bakes. I pretty much followed the recipe as written and was very happy with how it turned out. I used local organic Jonagold apples, but I'm sure any tart, good-for-baking apple would be just great. I happen to really like the taste and consistency of the whole what pastry flour (and the added health boost it provides), but if you don't, you can probably swap out white flour instead. The pumpkin, butter, and sour cream really keep the cake super-moist and the apple layer just seals it all in. A great fall recipe!

Pumpkin Apple Cake

Sauteed apples:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large apples (any combination of your favorite baking apples), peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel topping and Cake (they are made together and then divided)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter softened
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

To start:
1. Grease an 8-inch springform pan (I am wondering if mine is actually 9in?)
2. Preheat oven to 350°
3. Saute the apples in the butter on medium heat, just until they start to soften. Remove from heat and add the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
4. In a stand mixer combine the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the 1/2 cup butter and blend well.
5. Measure out 2/3 cup of the mixture into a separate bowl to make the streusel. Add the 3 tablespoons sugar and pumpkin spices to this separate bowl, blend and set aside.
6. Add the baking soda, pumpkin, sour cream and eggs to the flour mixture left remaining in your mixer. Blend until smooth, about 2 min.
7. Layer the cake batter, then the sauteed apples and finally sprinkle the streusel over the top.
8. Bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour. Allow to cool in the pan and then remove the springform. (Very good served warm with vanilla ice cream!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I found this recipe on Dozen Flours blog and had to try it. It's one of those classic-looking recipes, and one that I happened to have all the ingredients for in the house already (plus, how can something not be good with 1 cup of butter + 2 cups brown sugar?!) I think it turned out well, even if I botched the cooking time slightly. I did mine in my Baker's Edge pan and didn't do it long enough. (Overcompensating for the PB chocolate bars being cooked too long I guess!) That being said, they still taste delicious, if a bit gooey. The only changes I made were doing 3tsp/3Tbsp cinnamon/sugar on top (vs. 2 and 2) and I added white chocolate chips to half the batter per Scott's request. I have to say that while I tend to love just the simple bars without added chocolate, others thought it was a good suggestion...

Snickerdoodle Blondies
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (or 3) tablespoons white sugar
2 (or 3) teaspoons cinnamon
1-2 cups white chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.
Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish.)
Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.
Bake 25-30 (30-35 with Baker's Edge?) minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool slightly. While still warm, cut into bars with a sharp knife.
Yields: ~20-25 servings

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Not Quite a Crabcake

This is being posted out-of-season, but I'm trying upload recipes a little each day...
This is a cake I made for several summer birthday gatherings. The baking part is easy, but I won't lie: cutting and icing the claws and the sides of the crab is kind of time-consuming! But usually the reaction is worth it, and the thing actually tastes really good too!

Not Quite a Crabcake

1 package (18.25 ounces) butter recipe yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1.5 Tbsp vanilla (or vanilla paste)

Vanilla pudding, prepared, colored with yellow food dye

Anything, dyed orange

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9x13in pan.
2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. After scraping sides of the bowl, increase mixer speed to medium and blend 1 1/2 to 2 min­utes more-- the batter will look thick but well combined.
3. Bake about 30 min, or until toothpick comes out almost clean.
4. Cut crab shape out of center of pan. With remaining pieces, shape front and rear claws (careful, if you mess up you'll need to make another small cake to get enough for claws!)
5. Hollow out small part of the center of cake (like carving a jack-o-latern), fill with pudding -- this is the crab's "mustard"! (Hint: not telling people it's there can be mildly amusing)
6. Re-assemble top onto cake, put claws together and frost, using frosting-coated pretzel rods for other legs.
7. Refrigerate until ready to eat -- enjoy!

Pumpkin Praline Cake

As Fall gets into full swing, time to start posting my favorite fall recipes...this one is definitely at the top of the list:
Pumpkin Praline Cake (adapted from Betty Crocker)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 box yellow cake mix (Betty Crocker Super Moist is good)
1 cup (from 15-oz can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 container (1 lb) cream cheese frosting (Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy)
Caramel topping, if desired
Additional coarsely chopped pecans, if desired

1. Heat oven to 325°F.
2. In 1-quart heavy saucepan, stir together butter, whipping cream and brown sugar.
3. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until butter is melted.
4. Pour into 2 (9- or 8-inch) round cake pans; sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup pecans.
5. In large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed.
6. Carefully spoon batter over pecan mixture in each pan.
7. Bake 43 to 45 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.
8. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack.
Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Stir remaining 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice into frosting.

To assemble cake, place 1 layer, praline side up, on serving plate.
Spread with half of the frosting.
Top with second layer, praline side up; spread remaining frosting to edge of layer.
Drizzle with caramel topping and additional pecans.
Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Peanut butter-crusted chocolate cookie bars

Another recipe made up during my lunch break...preliminary husband-tastings get a thumbs-up!

Peanut butter-crusted chocolate cookie bars

16 Nutter Butter (or peanut butter sandwich) Cookies
3 Tbsp. butter melted

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 large eggs
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag peanut butter chips or 1 container TJ’s mini-PB cups

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray.
2. Place cookies in food processor container; cover. Process 30 to 45 seconds or until finely ground. Add butter; mix well. Press firmly onto bottom of baking pan.
3. Place the cake mix, eggs, salt, and melted butter in a large mixing bowl.
4. Blend with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are moistened, 1 minute.
5. Add PB cups/chips and stir or blend on low another 30 seconds, just to incorporate.
6. Turn the dough into the pan, and spread it evenly over crust with fingers or a rubber spatula.
7. Place the pan in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bars are firm but still soft.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes, then slice and serve.

If I make them again: I might add another Tbsp melted butter to the cookie mix, as it was a touch dry.

Update: After a day of being cut, these things dried out and really weren't that great. Next time I won't bake til the toothpick is clean (really I think 20-25min should be enough; I ended up doing it for 35min in a Baker's Edge pan), and I think I would swirl some Better 'n Peanut Butter lightly through as well for some more PB gooeyness.