Friday, March 25, 2011

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes with Coconut Meringue

It's time for dessert!

I haven't posted a dessert recipe yet and I believe this is a great one to start with. I do have to warn you that it's rather...involved. It's not necessarily difficult, but these aren't your easy peasy cupcakes. But they're SO sweet and tart and wonderful. They're from CUPCAKES! from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. If you like to bake cupcakes this is a great book to own.

Notice the filling and crust on the bottom? They're a great surprise for anyone eating your cupcake!

Makes: 24 cupcakes -maybe even a few more
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 18 to 22 minutes
Assembly time: 15 minutes

24 paper liners for cupcakes pans (2 1/2 -inch size)

1 large lime, scrubbed (for 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice) -I actually used key lime for this. I had to buy them for the key lime juice you use in the filling so I opted to use key lime rather than lime here...
4 large eggs
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/4 cups water 1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Key lime juice

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Reserved 3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Prepare the cupcake batter: With a citrus zester or fine grater, zest the lime (or key lime if you do what I did) and reserve 1 teaspoon. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over a strainer into a small bowl: you should have 2 tablespoons. Set aside. Separate 2 of the eggs, place the whites in a large clean mixing bowl and the yolks in another bowl. (This was the most confusing step for me. The zest, 2 T. juice, and 3 yolks all go in the same bowl...the bowl you'll use to make the batter. The whites go in another bowl for the meringue.)

3. Add the remaining egg, cake mix, pudding mix, water, oil, coconut flavoring and lime zest and juice to the yolks. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.

4. Bake the cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Increase the oven heat to 450 F.

5. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before filling.

6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Place the sweetened condensed milk and Key lime juice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip. Press the tip 1/4 inch into the top center of each cooked cupcake and squeeze the bag to release about 1 tablespoon filling into the cupcake. Scrape off any excess filling with a rubber spatula. Place the cooled cupcakes nearby side by side on a baking sheet.

7. Prepare the meringue: Add the cream of tartar to the reserved egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until frothy, 45 seconds. Add the coconut flavoring and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Continue beating on high, adding 1 tablespoon sugar at a time, until the whites form stiff peaks (if you pull the beaters from the meringue, the meringue should extend from the beaters in straight stiff peaks). Spoon 2 tablespoons meringue onto the top of each cupcake and swirl to spread it just to the edges with a short metal spatula or a spoon. Place the pan in the oven. Bake until meringue is light nutty brown in color, 5 to 6 minutes. Serve at once, or allow to cool 10 minutes then serve.

Store in a cake saver at room temp for up to 3 days.


Sorry for the lengthy instructions but that's how the recipe is written out. I followed it exactly with the exception of:

*The lime juice used in the batter. I bought 20 key limes for the filling and decided to use those in the batter as well. When all was said and done I had 7 key limes left over. If you buy Key lime juice, rather than using fresh, then I would use the lime as directed.

*I ended up piping on the meringue. It's faster and easier than using a knife to spread it on. Plus, I think it looks prettier. I also sprinkled lightly toasted coconut and just a pinch of key lime zest over the top of each cupcake before baking the meringue. It makes for pretty garnish and tells people what is in your lovely cupcakes.

*I did make one considerable change, or addition I would say, to the recipe. I've had a Key lime pie cupcake before and it had a graham cracker crust on the bottom. It was delicious, but this recipe did not call for it. So I made graham cracker crust mixture with 1 cup crushed graham crackers, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 5 tablespoon melted butter. Toss all those together and place a little in the bottom of each cupcake cup. I just eyeballed how much I wanted but it was probably a tablespoon in each...maybe a little more. Pack it down with a spoon and there you go! I ended up baking it in the oven for a few minutes to crisp it up before I poured the batter in, but looking back I don't think that would be necessary because you then bake the cupcakes. In my cupcakes the crust was slightly crunchy, almost a cookie consistency. I liked it, but I'm interested to see if the crust would be a little softer if I don't bake it before hand.

Anyway. These are SO very tasty. I like the meringue because it's not too sweet and balances the sweetness of the filling. These may take a bit of effort to make, but I definitely recommend them if you have to make cupcakes for a special occasion or for a birthday. They're beautiful AND yummy. I hope you like them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi-Ina Garten

I own Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook and that's where I got this recipe from. I'm sure you can look on and it'll be there too.

My husband loves me whenever I make this. The citrus balances the butter and the red pepper flakes add just the right amount of heat. Make this for a weeknight meal or for a special dinner because it looks impressive even though it only takes about 15 minutes to make (and that's including time to boil the pasta!).

Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds linguine
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
5 Tbs. good olive oil
3 Tbs. minced garlic (9 cloves)
2 pounds large shrimp (about 32), peeled and deveined
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley -I definitely recommend using fresh. It has flavor than dried and is really cheap and easy to find.
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons) -I've used the bottled kind in a pinch and it tasted fine.
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds -I think this is merely for presentation and I generally only do it if I'm making it for company.
1/4 t. hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. (I don't usually add the oil to the pasta water. It doesn't actually keep the noodles from sticking together..even though all our mothers told us so. And in this case, you're mixing the noodles with the sauce so they won't stick together anyway.)
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 tablespoon of salt, and the pepper and sauté until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Serves 6

It doesn't get much easier than that! My only suggestion would be to be careful with how much lemon juice you use. I've made this and it turned out perfectly, but then I've also made it and it was too lemony. I'm not sure how it happened because I swear I was following the recipe but, nevertheless, it did. And it just doesn't taste as good if you go overboard with the lemon. Oh and I think that 1 1/2 pounds of pasta is a TON. A pound is more than enough I can always cook more if you think you need it. I hope you like it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Reuben

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day by eating corned beef and a Reuben sandwich.

Rye bread -I used the marbled kind just because I think it's pretty
Corned beef -1/2 pound makes 3-4 sandwiches depending on the size of your bread and how much you put on the sandwich.
Sauerkraut -a couple Tbs. per sandwich
Thousand Island dressing -a Tbs. or so per sandwich
Sliced Swiss cheese

Lightly toast rye bread. Layer corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese on one piece of rye bread. Place under broiler until cheese is melted (it melts quickly so don't walk away). Top with second piece of rye bread. Enjoy!

I didn't use a real recipe for this but I rather enjoy Reuben sandwiches and I want to encourage all of you to try this. I know that each of the ingredients may sound kind of gross, but believe me when I say that the combination is delightful. Seriously. If you aren't a fan of sauerkraut this sandwich might change your mind. The Reuben sandwich is bold and delicious and not for the faint of heart. But you should try it even if you are...:)...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken Fiesta Salad

This is also from the Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2007 edition. It happens to be a Bake-Off winner.

this is missing the black beans only because I forgot to open the can
Vegetable oil for frying
4 corn tortillas

16 leaves red or green leaf lettuce (about one head)
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into thin bite-size strips
1 large mango, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into thin slices
2 large plum (Roma) tomatoes, finely chopped
1 can (15 oz.) Progresso black beans
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (4oz.)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 package (1.25 oz.) Old El Paso 40% less-sodium taco seasoning mix
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder (this adds a wonderfully smokey flavor to the chicken)
2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and stems
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
dash salt

1. In 8-inch skillet, heat 1/2 inch oil for frying over medium heat. With pizza cutter, cut corn tortillas into 1/4-inch wide strips. Fry strips in batches in hot oil 1 to 2 minutes or until golden and crisp. With tongs, place fried tortilla strips  in paper towels to drain.

2. On individual plates, evenly layer lettuce, bell pepper, mango, avocado, tomatoes, beans and cheese.

3. Lightly spray 10-inch skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken strips; sprinkle with taco seasoning mix, chipotle chili powder and water. Cook uncovered over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Set aside.

4. In food processor or blender, process all dressing ingredients until well blended and cilantro is finely chopped. Arrange chicken evenly over salads. Drizzle about 3 tablespoons dressing over each salad. Top each evenly with tortilla strips.

Serves 4 (3 cups each)


First off...I've never done the tortilla strips. I think that sounds like way too much effort. If I wanted them I'd just buy them already made.
Second. I have used the Dole frozen mango (thawed, of course) rather than a fresh mango and I really like it. It's fast and the pieces aren't mushy when they thaw. Also, that way I can make this when mango isn't in season.
Third. When I don't feel like cutting chicken breasts I use chicken tenders (as seen in above picture). Sprinkling the taco seasoning, chipotle chili powder, and water over pieces of chicken that large doesn't work very well so I make a paste with the those ingredients and brush it on. It kind of creates a crust. And I use canola or olive oil because cooking spray is SO not enough to cook chicken. Do whatever you want though :)

There may be quite a few steps to this recipe, but it really doesn't take that long. Especially if you buy pre-torn lettuce, pre-grated cheese, ect. I like it because it's super flavorful and fresh tasting. I hope you like it too!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Curry Pork Burgers with Spicy Ketchup by Sunny Anderson

I think these are amazing. Seriously. They're such a change from your typical burger and I love it. The spicy ketchup is worth's sooo good.

2 1/2 lb. ground pork
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. curry powder
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. cayenne pepper
3 scallions, chopped (green onions)
2 large clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. olive oil
6 hamburger buns (I have been converted to OROWEAT 100% whole wheat sandwich thins...100 calories and 5 grams of fiber-y deliciousness. TRY THEM. They're so much better for you and taste great. They're usually right by the hamburger buns.)
1 head butter lettuce
2 to 3 tomatoes, sliced
Spicy Ketchup, recipe follows

Spicy Ketchup:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter
1 cup ketchup
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/4 cayenne pepper
1 scallion, finely chopped

Serves 6-8
Full Recipe

I didn't follow the recipe exactly. In my opinion, NO ONE needs to eat a burger that is nearly a 1/2 pound. And that's what you would get if you use 2 1/2 pounds of pork for only 6 patties. I think you can make 8 patties from 2 pounds of meat...but that may just be me...Anyway, I cut the recipe in half (used 1 pound of meat) and adjusted the spices accordingly (you don't have to be exact) and it turned out DELICIOUS. Oh, and I have found that ground pork can be difficult to find. Just ask your friendly butcher to grind some up for you if you can't find it because I think beef might have too strong of a flavor for this.

Also, I didn't have any fresh garlic (gasp! that has never happened) so I just used garlic powder. The conversions for cloves is on the container (thank goodness!) and it actually made this easier to make. In fact, I recommend using garlic powder for the spicy ketchup. I just stirred everything together (minus the butter because I wasn't cooking the garlic) in a little glass bowl and popped it in the microwave to help the flavors meld. I didn't have to use a pot, which means one less dish to clean up! And we all like that, don't we?

As for condiments...I put the spicy ketchup, peperoncini, tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion on mine. YUM! The hubby put the ketchup, pickles, cheddar cheese, and mayo and he liked it quite a bit. I think crumbling a little feta on top would have been a nice addition. Have fun with these...though the burger does taste like curry so I would suggest staying along those lines. Do whatever you want though!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Red Wine Beef and Mushrooms

This is from the Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2007 cookbook. Even though many of the pictures don't look all that appetizing I've found the recipes to be quite delicious in general. It's a good cookbook to own. The hubby thought this was beef stroganoff and was a little disappointed when he first saw it, but concluded it was much tastier upon trying it.

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 lb. lean boneless beef stew meat
1 c. dry red wine
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 1/4 c. water (I substituted chicken broth/stock has more flavor than water...)
2 packages (8 oz. each) fresh whole mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. dried thyme leaves
3/4 t. each salt and pepper
2 dried bay leaves
1/4 all-purpose flour
1 package (12 oz.) uncooked fettuccine
1 jar (15 oz. whole pearl onions in water, drained
2 T. sugar

In 6-quart Dutch oven, cook bacon until lightly browned. Remove bacon; set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add beef; cook and stir until browned. Remove beef from Dutch oven.

In same Dutch oven, heat wine to boiling. Add broth and 1 cup of the water; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in bacon, beef, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Over medium-low heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender.

Remove bay leaves. In small bowl, mix flour and remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth. Add to beef mixture; cook and stir about 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thickened.

Cook fettuccine as directed on package. In 8-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in onions and sugar; cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned. Stir onion mixture into beef mixture. Serve over fettuccine; if desired sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6 (This can easily be cut in half, which is what I did. It fed two people for two meals, though the second night I ate it with a little more pasta to stretch it just a bit)

Here are just a few suggestions:

*I actually had beef stew meat on hand. I randomly bought it and thought it'd be easy to use, but I quickly realized I didn't actually know of many recipes that call for beef stew meat. I'm sure you could just cube up some pot roast meat or whatever you want if you don't have beef stew meat.
*I ended up using linguine because the grocery store was out of fettuccine. How that happens, I'm not sure, but I actually liked the outcome. The pasta didn't overwhelm the beef, which it might have had I used fettuccine.
*I have no idea where to find canned whole pearl onions. Even finding the frozen ones is difficult. I've seen fresh at the Sunflower Farmers Market and I'm sure those would work just as well. In fact, I think I'd prefer the fresh over the canned. Anyway, I didn't actually have these so I used shallots. I just cut them into smaller chunks, cooked them for less time, and still achieved the onion-y flavor using what I had on hand.

I was quite pleased with how this turned out. I think the bacon totally makes the dish. But then again, bacon makes anything better :)