Friday, December 25, 2009

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Icing

I baked these cupcakes to take to my co-workers the other day and I think they turned out pretty good!

I don't really bake that often. Mostly because I don't have the time, which is probably a good thing since I have a serious sweet tooth. I had been wanting to make peppermint cupcakes for a while and planned to use peppermint bark in some form. However, I didn't really have the time to research recipes. So I sat in the parking lot at H-E-B and googled "peppermint cupcake recipe" on my iphone and this popped up. The plan was to make these AND peppermint bark to garnish with. When I got home I realized it was totally crazy of me to think I would have the time to make cupcakes and the bark so I settled on garnishing with crushed candy canes. Merry Christmas everyone!

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream
James Gray, Dozen cupcake bakery in Pittsburgh
yields two dozen cupcakes (I think? The recipe doesn't say but I accidentally overfilled the cupcake papers and I ended up with 11/2 dozen.)

White chocolate, 6 ounces
Large egg whites, 41/2
Milk, 1/4 cup, plus 3/4 cup
Vanilla, 11/2 teaspoons
Cake flour, 3 cups
Sugar, 1 cup, plus 3 tablespoons
Baking powder, 1 tablespoon, plus 11/2 teaspoons
Salt, 3/4 teaspoon
Unsalted sweet cream butter, melted (cooled), 9 tablespoons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate in microwave, about 1 minute. Don’t overcook.

Combine egg whites, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed. Add the butter and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened and then increase speed to medium and beat for about 11/2 minutes.

Scrape bowl well and gradually add egg mixture in three batches, mixing about 30 seconds after each step to incorporate completely. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium until nice and smooth.

Fill cupcake papers two-thirds full and back until lightly golden on top, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Peppermint Buttercream

Sweet cream butter, 1 pound
Confectioner’s sugar, 8 cups
Peppermint extract, 1/8 teaspoon

Mix butter until smooth. Add confectioner’s sugar in small batches, mixing well after each batch. I add about 1 tablespoon milk after each installment to keep the buttercream smooth. Add a good peppermint extract.

Once all confectioner’s sugar is added, mix on high speed for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the buttercream is light and its color is bright white.

Garnish cupcakes with a peppermint stick or crushed peppermint or a peppermint leaf.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tortellini & Zucchini Soup

Hi there everyone! I'm so sorry for being such a blog slacker! I can't believe it has been two months since my last post. I will do my best to make my posts more regular.

This is a soup recipe that I found on It is one of my favorite winter recipes because it's so easy, flavorful, and is healthy! I love finding new recipes that not only taste great but are not full of fattening ingredients. According to, one (1.5 cup) serving only has 203 calories. It is very filling too. So even if I am only serving this for dinner I don't feel hungry at all when I'm finished. Definitely don't skip the red-wine vinegar, it gives it such a great flavor. Enjoy!

Tortellini & Zucchini Soup
Serves 6 (1.5 cups each)

Extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons
Carrots, 2 large, finely chopped
Onion, 1 large, diced
Garlic, 2 tablespoons, minced
Fresh rosemary, 1 teaspooon, chopped
Vegetable broth, 2 14-ounce cans (low sodium)
Zucchini, 2 medium, diced (about 9 ounces or 2 cups)
Tortellini, fresh or frozen, preferably spinach-&-cheese
Plum (roma) tomatoes, 4, diced
Red-wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots and onion; stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth and zucchini; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add tortellini and tomatoes and simmer until the tortellini are plump and the tomatoes are beginning to break down, 6 to 10 minutes. Stir vinegar into the hot soup just before serving.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cold Cucumber and Cubanelle Soup with Cashews and Chives

Fall may officially be here but that doesn't necessarily mean us Texans will have cool weather every day from here on out. Which is why I don't feel so bad about posting this recipe right now. Though the ingredients might seem a bit odd, the flavor is amazing! It is a very refreshing dish that I will be making often. I made this on a Sunday afternoon to serve later in the evening with a salad and it was so nice to have a portion of the meal already prepared. It is perfect to serve with a salad or grilled shrimp/fish.

This recipe is from Gourmet magazine's September 2009 issue. This issue featured recipes from A to Z. Though my photo below might not be the best (Gourmet's photo is much prettier), it is still a delicious recipe that you should definitely try! I hope you enjoy this soup as much as my husband and I did!

Cold Cucumber and Cubanelle Soup with Cashews and Chives
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a starter dish

Cucumbers, 3 large (2 1/2 lb total), peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
Cubanelle pepper, 1 (Italian green frying pepper), halved lengthwise and seeded
Water, 2 1/2 cups
Extra-virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup
Unsalted roasted cashews, 1/2 cup
Red-wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp
Garlic clove, 1 large, chopped
Garnish: diced tomato, chopped chives

Puree cucumbers and half of Cubanelle (finely chop remaining half for garnish) with water, oil, cashews, vinegar, garlic, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a blender (in batches if necessary) until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and chill until cold, about 2 hours. Whisk before serving and season with salt and pepper.
Note: Soup is best the day it is made.

(If you can't find Cubanelle peppers, you can substitute with another mild pepper. I had to substitute Anaheim peppers. And please, always use a spoon to take the seeds out of peppers.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Greek Salad with Herbed Pita

I am constantly trying new recipes and I find that the biggest challenge is to find one that is healthy and still tastes great. My goal was to create a blog where I could post my favorite recipes so others can add them to their collections. I am not a chef so all recipes are from cookbooks and the internet. I wish I was clever enough to come up with my own recipes though!

My first recipe is from Williams-Sonoma's Food Made Fast: Salad cookbook. It was a birthday gift from my in-laws and I love it! I have found quite a few recipes in this book that are very tasty. I am not surprised that my step-mother in-law chose this cookbook as my gift because she is the Queen of Salads! Every salad of hers that I have tasted has been so unique and so yum! This is an easy salad that is filling enough as a main course, but if you prefer a little more sustenance you can always grill some chicken to chop up and toss in. Also, don't be afraid of making your own salad dressings. It's super easy and tastes much better than that stuff in a jar!

Greek Salad with Herbed Pita
Serves 4

Lemon juice, from 1 lemon
Garlic, 1 clove, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons
Pita bread, 4 rounds
Dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon
Hearts of romaine lettuce, 2, coarsely chopped (note: I just buy a bag of romaine. Half a bag usually does it if you're cooking for two.)
English (hothouse) cucumber, halved crosswise and thickly sliced (also known as seedless cucumbers)
Tomatoes, 2, cut into wedges
Assorted brine-cured olives, 1 cup (I prefer kalamatas)
Feta cheese, 1/2 lb, crumbled
Green onions, 8, thinly sliced

Make the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and a generous amount of pepper. Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup oil until smooth.

Warm the pita: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut each pita into 4 wedges. Arrange on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with the oregano and place in the oven to warm for about 10 minutes.

Assemble the salad: Meanwhile, add the lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes to the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Arrange on plates and top with the olives, feta, and green onions. Place the warm pita wedges alongside the salads and serve.