A year ago, I created a Facebook event for a dinner party on April 21, and for some reason selected 2012. I got a lot of flack for my mistake, so there was a standing invite for over a year.
I was not feeling a dinner party, and was inspired by a mimosa bar on I saw on Pinterest, so brunch party it was.
Since I was trying to get out of complex planning and prep, I decided to keep the menu a simple continential/buffet style. The top item was bacon (any surprise?), which I made in the oven for the first time. Not bad.
Chai was a favorite flavor from a previous party, so I knew these would be a hit – and they were. They have just the right amount of spice, a little crunch from the pistachios and some extra sweetness from a glaze.
The mini quiches couldn’t have been any easier. I’m glad I decided to make these as they really rounded out the menu and made it seem more work that it really was.
(From Cooking Light, May 2011)
- 7 9/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 chai blend tea bags, opened
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Cooking spray
- 1/3 cup shelled dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1. Preheat oven to 375°.
- 2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut open tea bags; add tea to flour mixture, stirring well. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
- 3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle nuts evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
- 4. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle evenly over muffins.
Also, am I the only one who likes Bloody Marys?
I rarely make brownies because Leo says “they’re too much chocolate in one bite.” So, when he was in Vegas, I made these dark chocolate brownies, which were amazing. I don’t see how he doesn’t like brownies, but he is a fake picky eater – someone who says they don’t like things, but will eat anything. These brownies were very fudgy, a huge plus for me. And they were only 147 calories each! Yes – I took out a measuring tape and cut each brownie a 2×2 inch square.
They were dense and rich; I ate two when they first came out of the oven. I brought the rest to work, since I knew that if I kept them at home – and Leo wasn’t around – I would eat them all. It’s important to check on them a little earlier than the timer. There should be some crumbs on the toothpick when checked, or else they won’t be as fudgy.
DARK CHOCOLATE BROWNIES –adapted from Cooking Light
- 4.5 ounces (approx. 1 cup) AP Flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used Trader Joe’s)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350
- Weigh or measure out flour and combine with cocoa and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.
- Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-save bowl, and microwave for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds. Stir until smooth, and set aside. Cool slightly. Add sugar, milk, vanilla extract, egg yolks, and egg; stir with whisk until just combined.
- Add butter mixture to flour mixture, stirring until combined. Pour batter into an 8-inch square metal baking pan coated with cooking spray.
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out almost clean.
Pumpkin pie is probably my favorite kind of pie. No, that’s a lie. I like cherry pie a la mode. But pumpkin pie is my favorite seasonal pie. I wouldn’t feel like it was the holidays without it. It probably doesn’t hurt that I also make some awesome amaretto whipped cream to top it off.
I’ve been making pumpkin for Thanksgiving and Christmas for years and years. It never mattered if I had a final the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was up early in the morning making the pie before the turkey went into the oven. When we rented a cabin in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with a limited kitchen, I was up early again, battling a rustic can opener. It’s a tradition I’d never give up.
Also a tradition (or requirement, really) is adding crushed cloves for some extra spice. I did it once at my dad’s request, and since then, no pumpkin pie feel complete without it.
(adapted from Cooking Light)
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (recipe below)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk (*Needs to be low-fat, or else the pie will not set in the middle with this cooking time and temperature!)
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 large egg
- 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin
- Whole cloves, to taste.
Pumpkin Pie Spice (2 teaspoons):
- Combine 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
- 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
- Cooking spray
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
1. Position oven rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. To prepare filling, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pumpkin, and stir with a whisk until smooth. Smash whole cloves (to taste) between 2 paper towels with a meat tenderizer (or a mortar & pestle, if you have one)–but do not grind. Stir into pie filling.
3. To prepare crust, roll dough into an 11-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under and flute.
4. Place pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour pumpkin mixture into the crust. Place baking sheet on lowest oven rack. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove pie from oven); bake an additional 50 minutes or until almost set. Cool completely on wire rack.
5. Make right before serving: To prepare topping, beat cream with a mixer at high-speed until stiff peaks form. Add the amaretto and powdered sugar, and beat until blended. Serve with pie.
How embarrassing. I haven’t blogged for too long.
Having so many food blogs in my Google Reader can be very detrimental, especially when I am trying to create a menu for a dinner party. I ran into this recipe for Vanilla Chai Cupcakes from Gimme Some Oven. I’ve been wanting to try the Chai Cupcake from Sugar Bliss, so this recipe was calling my name.
I love the spices in chai. They are the spices of fall and make me feel warm inside. I feel like these spices are only welcome between October 1 and the end of November. After that, people start delving into the chocolate and peppermint Christmas flavors.
One of the spices in this recipe is cardamom, which is very strong–and expensive. A small jar at the grocery store will cost around$15, but cardamom is available in bulk at Whole Foods. I was able to get just the amount I needed for 40 cents. Not bad.
While I love eating cupcakes, they are not my favorite things to bake. They rarely come out as fluffy as I like–but not these. The vanilla chai cupcakes are spring and cool nicely for the frosting. I’m not a frosting fan, so I definitely tried one of these before I iced them. Highly recommend it.
Vanilla Chai Cupcakes
(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp chai spice mix
- 1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted (measure, then sift)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Chai Spice Mix (makes 4 tsp):
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp chai spice mix
- 1 Tbsp cold milk, to thin out the buttercream
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan with liners.
2. In a small bowl, combine the chai spice mix ingredients. Set aside.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the chai spice mix. Fold in the flour and buttermilk, alternating twice, and stir until combined. Mix together the baking soda and vinegar in a separate bowl, then add it to the batter and mix until combined.
4. Spoon into prepared cupcake tins until 3/4 full and bake 17-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is creamy. On low, mix in the vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Carefully beat in the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick, add 1-2 tbs of cold milk until the desired consistency is reached. Top cooled cupcakes.
I haven’t been cooking much the last week, since I’m gearing up for a Fakesgiving feast tomorrow. I love hosting dinners and feeding my friends. Featured food at my family’s Thanksgiving is always turkey, tamales, and my dad’s stuffing. I wish I could make my dad’s stuffing, but it’s different every year. He just lets the grocery store speak to him on Thanksgiving day.
I know how much Abby likes looking at menus, so I am posting tomorrow’s Fakesgiving menu for her enjoyment (and torture). It’s probably too much food, but I learned from my grandma. She cooks for an army and everyone gets leftovers.
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Walnut & Blue Cheese Log
- Fried Ravioli
- Tri-Color Rotini Bake
- Orange-Buttermilk Rolls
- Green Bean Casserole (wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it)
- Fancy Wild Rice
- Candied Sweet Potatoes
- Pumpkin Pie with Amaretto Whipped Cream
- Vanilla Chai Cupcakes
It seems like this is going to be the season for soup. Which I have been fine with, because there is nothing more that I love than homemade soup (I say that about a lot of foods, but I do love homemade soup). My favorite is my grandma’s albondigas or sopa de fideo.
I got the recipe from a friend, Mackenzie, at the first recipe exchange. I had never gotten around to making it, because soup and summer don’t mix well. Plus I had no idea what mulligatawny soup was, except for Kramer’s favorite from the Soup Nazi.
But once the weather turned, the I felt like I only wanted to eat soup. So I make pork stew one week and then this the following. Leo saw that it had curry and apples and said, “I don’t know how I feel about this…” But since it was THE mulligatawny soup, and it was good enough for Kramer, he’d try it.
To my (honest) surprise, it was good. I didn’t doubt Mackenzie’s taste–it was more of the idea of a curry-based soup. It wasn’t overpowering, and the apples remained a good consistency. The main concerns are making sure both the rice and chicken cook for an adequate amount of time–not too long or too short.
It’s a bummer you can’t really get an idea of what’s in the soup. But I said it once, and I’ll say it again. Soup sucks for pictures.
Leo says: “Can I have a second bowl?”
Please file this under: “I want to eat it everyday.”
I remember trying fried ravioli with my dad as a kid and loving it. (I think my dad may be a silent foodie.) Since then, I’ve tried it at various restaurants and to no avail could it recreate the same taste. And I actually made some, using regular breadcrumbs and mini ravioli for a Super Bowl. That version was good, but it didn’t come close to matching this one, which uses panko breadcrumbs. Panko has become, just within the past year, one of my favorite ingredients. It crisps better than regular breadcrumbs and don’t absorb much grease.
This crispy ravioli recipe was delicious. It had the right amount of crisp and the roasted grape tomato sauce was simply delicious. I also think the type of ravioli I used, spicy beef and sausage, added an extra–and maybe essential–kick. This meal could easily be made vegetarian by swapping out the sausage ravioli for cheese or spinach ravioli.
I ate leftovers for lunch the next day. The crispiness was ruined by the microwave, but the taste prevailed and I was happy. On another note, I need to learn how to make my own pasta.