Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chili's Salsa

We don't have a Chili's in Lynchburg so it is a big treat when we are able to go to one out of town. My favorite thing about Chili's is their salsa and chips. The salsa is really simple and isn't chunky at all. I don't have a big tolerance for spicy things and their salsa burns me up! My Dad sits there and practically eats it by the spoonful while I am barely dipping the chip in. It's so good though!

This recipe is really close, but isn't exact. The raw onion taste in this version isn't right. I don't know how Chili's gets by with not having that. I also think that mine turned out a little bit more spicier than Chili's version. I will use less jalapenos next time.

I got the recipe from RecipeZaar. The only adjustment that I made to the recipe is that I added 1/2 tsp sugar instead of 1/4 and as I mentioned above, I will add less jalapenos next time. Enjoy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Key Lime Cupcakes

These are by far some of the best cupcakes that I have ever had. My Mom has done nothing but beg me to make these again since I tried them a few weeks ago. The cake was extremely moist and suprisingly heavy. The recipe made plenty of a delicious cream cheese frosting. One of my biggest complaints about recipes a lot of times it that they don't make enough frosting for the cupcakes/cake. I will definitely be doing this one again.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit's September 2008 issue. I cut it out last year to make and just now got around to it. You can view the recipe from their website here.

Change of Plans

Well, I recently posted that I am going to make my way through Martha Stewart's book "Cupcakes" by making and posting about the recipes. I was planning on just doing it on my own, but I found an online club that I joined that is going to go through the book together. I am very excited about being part of this! The group has already posted their first recipe. I will join in for next months, Zucchini Spiced Cupcakes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cupcake Recipe #1 - Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with Fluffy White Icing

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to make my way through Martha Stewart's cookbook "Cupcakes". I hope to make one recipe a week. I stuck with a fairly easy recipe for this first try. I figured that the easiest way to feel out the cookbook would be to try the very common combination of a simple vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting.

I was not disappointed in the cupcake at all. The cake is very light and actually reminds me of a pound cake flavor. This is probably because of the acidity of the buttermilk that you typically get in a pound cake from sour cream. They are moist, but not super moist. It wouldn't hurt for them to maybe cook a minute less or have just a bit more buttermilk. I also plan to add more vanilla to the batter if I ever make them again.

The frosting is to die for. It is a simple vanilla buttercream with only 3 ingredients. it calls for unsalted butter but I used salted and I am happy that I did. I tend to like frosting that isn't pucker your lips sweet. I think that the salt helps mellow the sweetness of the frosting.

This should turn out to be fun. I plan to take the 34 cupcakes that are remaining (maybe 33 by the time the night is over hehe) to work tomorrow to share with my co-workers. I definitely don't want to leave them hanging around here. Something tells me though that I won't have a problem getting rid of them. :-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cupcakes by Martha Stewart

I love cupcakes. I would usually rather have a cupcake than a piece of cake. The best cupcakes that I have EVER had were cupcakes from the famous Sprinkles Bakery in Newport Beach, CA. When I went to NYC in March, I wanted to find a cupcake that matched Sprinkles soooo bad but none came close. The best cupcakes that I have found in Lynchburg, VA where I live are at Montana Plains Bakery. They are very moist and the icing is amazing.

I made a huge splurge recently and purchased Martha Stewart's new book Cupcakes. I never buy cookbooks at full price. I would rather find them somewhere like a yard sale or used book store. I just couldn't wait to get this one though.

I have decided that I am going to challenge myself and try to make a recipe a week from Martha's book until I get through them all. I read that there are 128 different recipes in the book. I may skip a few if they just really don't appeal to me.

My plan is to try my first pick this weekend. I am most likely going to do make the Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. Stay tuned!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

White Chicken Chili

I make this chicken chili recipe at least once a month during the year. It's super easy and it freezes really well. I have altered the original recipe quite a bit as I have found what works best in it. The original recipe called for you to marinate the chicken in tequila, lime juice and other spices. A lot of times I don't have time for this and I don't drink, so tequila isn't a staple in my house. I have found other ways to incorporate the citrus flavors into the dish that the marinade brought to it.

White Chicken Chili
2 lbs chicken breasts (bone in or boneless)
3 cans great northern white beans
2 - 4 oz cans of diced green chilis
6 cups of chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large onions, diced
2 TBL of olive oil
1 TBL cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Juice of one lime and the zest of half.
3 cups of shredded monterey jack cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper
- Either bake or grill chicken until done
- In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent
- Add the green chiles, lime juice, zest, cloves, cumin and cayenne pepper and continue to saute for around 3-4 minutes
- Add the chicken stock and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer.
- Dice or shred the cooked chicken and add to the pot. Cook for another 10 - 15 minutes.
- About 2-3 minutes before serving, add 2 cups of the shredded cheese and allow to melt in the soup.
- Serve chili with remaining cheese and other various garnishes. You could use, diced scallions, sour cream, cilantro, tortilla chips, avacado, etc.

**If you would rather not heat up your oven or grill, you could substitute the chicken breasts with chicken that has been pulled off of a rotisserie chicken from the store. This is a great way to save time.
**Many times a large block of monterey jack cheese is more expensive than buying a mexican blend of shredded cheese at the store. I have used a colby, monterey jack cheese blend before instead of just plain monterey jack and it has worked just fine.

Until next time...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Even Better Granola Bars

I posted a granola bar recipe recently and have found another one that is even better. This is adapted from Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa) recipe for granola bars. I won't be trying anymore recipes because this one is definitely my favorite. I have found in the past that the recipes that I have tried are either way too crumbly or are too cakey. This recipe also has less butter/oil than the other recipes that I have tried which is a good thing too. I believe that the way that you boil the honey, brown sugar and butter together really helps hold the other ingredients together so that they have enough glue to them.

Granola Bars
(adapted from Ina Garten's recipe)
2 cups oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 TBL butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

- Preheat your oven to 300
- Mix together the oats, coconut, almonds and pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes to toast all of the ingredients
- Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, salt and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute stirring constantly
- After pulling the oat mixture out of the oven add it to a bowl.
- Add the wheat germ and honey mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the dried fruit and combine.
- Heavily grease a 9x13 pan. If you have it, place parchment in the bottom as well.
- Press the mixture evenly into the pan. Use parchment or wax paper on your hand to do so and it won't stick to your hand.
- Bake for approx 25 - 30 minutes until lightly toasted brown.
- Allow to cool for 2 hours before cutting as the bars need to set up. Loosen the bars around the edges of the pan and flip onto a cutting board. Cut into the size squares that you would like.

**There are multiple variations that you can do with this. You could sub one of the fruits out with dried raisins, pineapple, etc. You could also sub a different type of nut. I may eventually try to substitute some chocolate chips with one of the fruits and maybe add some peanut butter to the liquid mixture to make a chocolate peanut butter bar. (And use peanuts as the nut)