Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes

This post only gets live-action shots because the cupcakes were devoured too quickly. I've made these once before and they were a hit both times. This time I brought them to a reunion weekend with my best girlfriends from high school to my friend Kayleigh's beauuuutiful camp in Canada. After a rough summer of working and taking classes, this weekend was AMAZING and I cherished every moment of it.

It was my friend Ali's birthday, so I brought 24 of these cupcakes with me. I know everyone likes cupcakes, but Ali really reallyyy likes cupcakes. Have you ever seen someone cry over wanting a cupcake so bad? Apparently that can happen, and has happened to Ali. Maybe even more than once. Anyway, we could never have a birthday celebration for her without cupcakes, and with the gourmet chocolate cake Ali brought from home, we were all well-fed throughout the weekend.

For me, my favorite parts about food blogging and cooking in general are the stories behind each recipe and who you share it with. Being able to escape the city for a weekend and spend time with my best friends was the real treat, these cupcakes were just dessert. :)

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes (Cake Recipe from Hershey's)
Makes: 24 cupcakes  Prep: 15 minutes  Total: 40 minutes

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water
24 Oreos, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, then add milk, oil and vanilla and mix well. Add 1 cup boiling water (batter will be very thin) and pour into cupcake tins. Drop a whole Oreo cookie into each cupcake tin and top with excess batter or push down to cover. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out dry.
To make frosting, beat together softened butter and vanilla until creamy. Mix in powdered sugar in 3 parts. Microwave chocolate chips in 30-second increments and stir until melted and add to frosting. Mix well and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Asparagus and Crab Risotto with Orange Gremolada

Time for a little catch-up blogging. My summer ended a little crazy but I have a few new recipes to share! Even though I love the freshness of summer produce, I'm already looking forward to the comfort food of fall. That being said, here's a great spring/summer recipe I found in one of my grandmother's vintage cookbooks she sent to Boston with me after my last trip home. The book is called One-Dish Meals from Food & Wine magazine, and though some of the dishes are pretty hysterically outdated (casseroles, anyone??) I found a lot of great ones I can't wait to try.

I made homemade chicken stock for the first time, which I would not advise someone to do in a tiny kitchen in the middle of August with no air conditioning... I did it anyway, and it was worth it. I took a carcass leftover from a rotisserie chicken and simmered it in a large pot with water, chopped vegetables (carrots, onion, parsley, celery) and some salt and pepper for 4 1/2 hours. After draining, I stored it in a large container in the fridge and used it within 3 days. Super easy and it made the risotto that much better!

Asparagus and Crab Risotto with Orange Gremolada (Adapted from Food & Wine)
Makes: 5 servings  Prep: 15 minutes  Total: 1 hour

4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 lb crab meat
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

In a medium pot, simmer broth and water together and cook chopped asparagus until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove, drain and set aside.
In a large pot, cook diced onion in 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs oil until slightly translucent. Add rice and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the vermouth, salt and pepper. Next, add the broth one 1/2 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding more. Continue this until all the broth is used and absorbed or until desired thickness is reached.
Lastly, mix in the crab meat, asparagus, orange zest, minced garlic, parsley and remained 1/2 tbs butter. Heat through and serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gingered Zucchini Orange Bread

I know summer is supposed to be all about fresh produce and farmers markets, but recently all I've wanted to do is bake. So - sneaky me - I found a way to incorporate seasonally appropriate ingredients with my craving for baked goods. The result is a new citrus-y spin on zucchini bread. If you've ever been turned off by the idea of veggies in your baked goods, this bread will bring you around. The glaze on top makes it especially decadent, so add it generously. (I may have dipped a piece of bread in the leftover glaze... perhaps that's a bit too generous.)

Bread is one of my favorite things to make. There is something very maternal about the process, particularly when it involves kneading with your hands and waiting for the yeast to rise. However, bread is very time consuming, so pour-and-bake loaves like these give you all the pleasures of baking bread without the hours spent. (No knead, har-har.) This batch makes two loaves, so make one for yourself to enjoy and share one with friends! Or not. Your call.

Gingered Zucchini Orange Bread
Makes: 2 loaves  Prep: 20 minutes  Total: 1 hour, 5 minutes

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbs orange zest
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp orange juice

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ginger in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together sugars, olive oil, eggs and vanilla.
Using a food processor, shred the zucchini on a grater setting and add to the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing thoroughly. Add chopped walnuts and orange zest. Pour into two greased loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out dry.
Combine powdered sugar and citrus juices in a bowl to make the glaze. When the loaves are done, let them sit for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans and set onto wax paper. When loaves are cool to the touch, brush on glaze with a basting brush, letting a little drip down the side. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.
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