Phew! The holidays kicked my butt this year. How did my parents do this? Better yet, WHY did they do it??
Although I try to post only the best of my kitchen attempts, here are some of my absolute favorites from last year. I mean the ones I crave & want to make again & again.
Happy New Year to you!!
1. Gardener’s Pie (vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie): This is always a huge hit. I took it to a Christmas pot luck this year and got so many compliments from vegetarian & non vegetarians alike.
2. Best Coffee Cake in the World There are no surprising ingredients in this but it’s simply delicious. Perfect for a special brunch or to warm up a chilly Sunday morning.
3. Kermit Smoothie (green smoothie) Want to sneak a handful of spinach into your family’s gullets? Try this! So yummy, easy & fun.
4. Blueberry Lara Bars. A healthy, yummy & portable snack. Perfect for hiking or just to carry in your purse (or man purse) to keep the munchies at bay.
5. No Knead Bread. If you’ve never made bread before I strongly encourage you try this one! It takes less than 5 minutes to prep and is so rewarding! There’s something wonderful about the smell of bread baking in your home.
6. Glory Bowl. After the holidays many people (ahem, THIS person) feel compelled to eat a little, shall we say, “lighter?” Although this dish contains many light elements the rice & dressing make it so satisfying. I had serious doubts about it when my dear friend Kinga recommended it but now it’s one of my favorites. Try it!! I mean it, really! I wouldn’t put it up here if it weren’t super yummy.
7. Red Velvet Cupcakes. Make these for Valentine’s Day! Or use green food coloring and make them for St. Patrick’s Day.
8. Simple Caesar Salad. This is a cheater’s version of caesar salad. Oh garsh sometimes I crave caesar salad so much but don’t want to get involved with raw eggs & anchovies etc. This is a satisfying remedy when you’re short on time. Now that I make this I find most restaurant salads disappointing. Totally reminds me of an ex boyfriend’s mom (who happened to be an excellent cook) answering the waiter’s “How is everything?” with a tragic look followed by her New York accented, “Mine’s bettah.”
9. Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookies. After trying many recipes, I have to say that these are my favorites for both simplicity & results. Because of the cornstarch they end up a bit pale and can trick you into thinking they aren’t done but they are soooooo sooooooo sooooooo (sooooo) good. Every time I make them I have to double the recipe b/c of all the greedy hands snitching them off the cooling racks (G!!!).
10. Vegetable Pot Pie. I just realized I have a few “best _____ in the WORLD” recipes. Do I exaggerate? Or am I just hungry? Anyway, this pot pie was a sleeper hit! I always loved pot pies. From the nastiest to the high end restaurant ones. But I was tired of paying $5.00 for a tiny Amy’s vegetable pot pie, plus I thought I could feed more than 1 person with a lot less packaging. This recipe takes almost 3 hours to make but is TOTALLY worth it! YUM.
11. Broccoli Gribiche. Last year I started making some dishes from Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day” and this was one of the hits. I seriously didn’t make ONE bad dish from that cookbook and still use it every week. This is a surprisingly hearty, satisfying yet tasty meal that can be a main or side. The simple ingredients make it a no-brainer!
12. Moscow Mule. Alcohol is a good way to end a list/night/year so here is a simple, tasty drink that we enjoyed time & again mostly during the summer. Our friend Trish introduced us to them last June when we stayed at her house in Denver. We drank them all summer. Not all day but you know what I mean.
I hope you enjoy these recipes & for all the best to you in 2013!
Maddie wanted “flowers & butterflies” at her birthday. I found this idea on Pure & Yummy. It was surprisingly easy. Between these & the store-bought Breakstone’s French Onion Dip
it was my most asked about recipe at the party. Really people? Store bought onion dip? (But honestly, I love it too!)
Here’s what you need for the strawberry lemonade cupcakes (filthy toaster not included):
2 1/4 c flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest
12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1.5 c sugar
3/4 c milk
2 c fresh strawberries, chopped
1 c lemonade concentrate, thawed
3/4 c confectioner’s sugar
1. While you are preheating the oven to 325, look at the clock.
What? Only 10:37PM? PERFECT time to start making these for tomorrow!
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt & lemon zest
in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until it is fluffy.
4. Add sugar and eggs (one at a time).
5. Add half of the flour mixture & mix on a low speed.
(Someone forgot to take pictures of the next few steps. I was “in the zone” i.e. tired.)
6. Add milk and mix until smooth.
7. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture & mix on low until JUST blended.
8. Fold in strawberries.
Now spoon mixture into the paper liners
about 3/4 of the way to the top.
You should have 24 cupcakes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. I did the toothpick test- it should come out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool.
Now you’re ready to make the syrup! Get out your “ingredientses” (as Teresa Giudice calls them):
This is really easy: just whisk together the confectioner sugar & lemonade concentrate in a small bowl. With a toothpick, make holes in each cupcake (deep holes as you are going to saturate each cupcake by drizzling the icing over the tops and into those deep holes (that’s what he said.) How many holes? I dunno – 6-8? 4-10? Whatever you’re up for! In the original recipe she made mini cupcakes but I made standard sized so you decide! WARNING: this is likely to make a sticky mess so put something under the cupcakes to catch that stuff unless you really love cleaning & re-cleaning your counters.
Author: “Hello, Cupcake!” via pureandyummy.com (I have slightly changed some of the writing.)
Recipe type: Dessert
A fresh, sweet, summer cupcake!
2¼ c flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest
12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1½ c sugar
¾ c milk
2 c fresh strawberries, chopped
1 c lemonade concentrate, thawed
¾ c confectioners powder sugar
Preheat oven to 325.
Fill cupcake tray with paper liners for 24 cupcakes.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Stir with a fork and put aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter until it’s fluffy. Add sugar & beat well. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add half of flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low until just mixed. Add milk and mix until smooth. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended. Fold in fresh strawberries with a spatula.
Spoon batter into liners about ¾ of the way full. Should fill all 24 liners.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean.
Let them cool COMPLETELY! (I’m serious.)
SYRUP: Whisk together powdered sugar & lemonade concentrate. **MESS ALERT: Lay some wax paper under your cupcakes before you go any further!**Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops of each cupcake. Drizzle syrup over tops of cupcakes saturating each one.
Frost as desired!
I made a plain vanilla buttercream for the frosting because I wanted something firm and less sweet (HAHA!! – RIGHT!) that could hold up those butterflies. This is SO easy and I completely forgot to take pix. I added fuschia food coloring to it and voila! I had pink frosting upon which a butterfly could light. (Light?)
Make sure your frosting is firm enough to hold the butterflies. Just add powdered sugar until it’ll work!
How did I make those dad-blamed butterflies, you ask?
First, all you need is:
1. Wilton’s Candy Melts (whichever color(s) you like) for the WINGS. (From Michael’s or Party City or you can even order online.) I had green & brown.
2. Store-bought frosting for the BODIES.
3. White or colored non-pareils (which I totally forgot to add)
4. A couple of Ziploc bags.
Here’s what you do:
1. Cut up pieces of wax paper. A piece for each set of wings and another little piece for each antenna. Put them on whatever surface you plan to use to cool them.
2. Add about 1/2 cup brown (or whatever will be your OUTLINE) candy melts to a Ziploc bag. Follow the directions on the Wilton’s bag. It will tell you how long to microwave, then massage/mix, microwave some more. When it is all melted and gooey, close the Ziploc and cut a corner off of it.
3. Put your drawing or printout of the wings/antenna under each wax paper so that you can trace it with the melted candy. Apparently I did not take pix of this but I will attach a PDF of my drawing in case you want it. Trace the outline of the wings and antennae (they should not be connected).
4. Now melt whatever colored candy melts you got in another Zip-lock. This will be what you use to “color” the wings. Just fill in between the lines. Don’t worry about being too perfect. Thank garsh I got a pic of this!
You’ll get the hang of it quickly!
Buttload of wings!
5. Let them cool. I actually made these the night before and left them out. Out of reach, that is, of tiny hands.
6. Frost your cupcakes. I used Wilton’s cheapest disposable bags with tips that didn’t even fit! I just forced the tips in and hoped for the best! After frosting the cupcakes (making sure my frosting was on the “stiff” side) I stuck the wings in and using a small round tip and another frosting bag I connected the wings with the brown bodies. What did I make the brown bodies with, you ask? Good question! I used that Duncan Hines store-bought chocolate frosting. It’s very firm and since you barely need any of it, who gives a fig if it’s not homemade? Who’s gonna notice? Then stick the antennae in however you like them!
Thank garsh only my hands are in the picture at that hour!
I wish I had more photos of the decorating steps. That part was done in the morning up against the clock so I had no time for fanciful pix. But I’m sure to do it again and will leave myself more time. Or not!
Don’t worry too much about these – they’ll look cute – you don’t have to be a perfectionist about them. I saw other versions of these that were VERY cute with different colored butterflies, each matching its own cupcake. That was way too ambitious for me, not to mention both Michael’s & Party City were out of pink candy melts.
Yesterday Maddie told me about a cupcake she had at daycare. It was sooooooooo good (according to her) that she wanted to make some today. I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman site. They are E-Z and yum-ee. The directions below are taken almost verbatim from her site except for small notes & tweaks.
You need these ingredients for the cake part:
1 cup vegetable shortening
1-¾ cup sugar
2-½ cups cake flour
1-¼ tsp salt
2 whole large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2-½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-½ teaspoon vinegar (I used white)
**NOTE: You won’t make the icing until the cupcakes are completely cooled BUT you might want to take this time to set the stick of butter and 8oz package of cream cheese out to soften at room temp.**
Preheat oven to 350. Line 18 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
Aren’t these cute?
In a LARGE bowl, cream shortening & sugar together until fluffy. I used a medium bowl and I paid for it later.
In another bowl sift flour & salt together.
Look at those hands -somebody send me my AARP card, pronto!
In yet ANOTHER bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda & vinegar. I actually used 2% milk here b/c my buttermilk was gnarly having been over a week past the “enjoy by” date. You can also easily make your own buttermilk but I was racing against Bea’s nap clock & feeding Maddie lunch and couldn’t spare the time needed to give myself a refresher on how to do that.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the reason for the large bowl will be illuminated (Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer – which incidentally, I did NOT yet read.) right NOW! Start mixing the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately into the shortening mixture until fully combined.
Before pouring them, we added food coloring to half the batter to make some pink cupcakes. Ooo la la! Have you noticed that some little girls like pink?
Spoon or pour (mine was a little too thick to pour) into cupcake liners.
Note: this recipe is for 18 cupcakes but I think you could make 20 cupcakes as I had batter spillage. We live and we learn. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely.