Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

If you are like me, it doesn't matter what time of year it is, peppermint mocha is always a good combination. Sometimes the barista at SB will look at you funny if its the middle of summer, but hey, if it tastes great in winter it tastes great in summer too.  I used the guise of Valentine's Day to make these and took them to school. Two days later I found myself making another batch for my roomie and her roomie from college. Yes, they are that good. (I made these a while back, but only recently wrote the post. Oddly enough, the green ones go well for St. Patrick's Day, which I spent studying at a coffee shop...)

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes (from Annie's Eats)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 tsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir together.  Combine the milk, coffee and peppermint extract in a liquid measuring cup.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugars.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the eggs one at a time.   Alternately mix in the dry and liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting (from Wilton)

Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening  
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened  
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract (I substituted half for peppermint, be careful not to put too much in!)  
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)  
2 tablespoons milk  
Food coloring of your choice

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla/Peppermint. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For multi-color frosting: divide frosting in two. Dye one bowl with food coloring. Fill up one side of the pastry bag with one color, and the other side with the other. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Strawberry Pineapple Crumble

I love Joy the Baker.  My amazing sister pre-ordered her recently published cookbook for me for my birthday last month.

It arrived on my doorstep the day it was published.  Amazon is a wonderful thing.

I've yet to bake anything out of it.  But, I have drooled over every photo.

I don't claim to have even half of Joy's kitchen genius, but I did tinker around with this recipe just the same.  Kristi has encouraged me to go as gluten-free as possible and eliminating the flour from this recipe seemed easy enough.  Flax seed, coconut, and pecans are added to the oatmeal crumble.  I had intended on a bit of cinnamon, but it slipped my mind before the pan slipped into the oven.  Sliced banana might also bump up the tropical flavor.
(Gluten Free) Strawberry Pineapple Crumble (adapted from JTB)
makes 6 servings

1 pound strawberries, sliced 
1 pound fresh pineapple, sliced 
pinch of salt 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats 
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flax seed
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix strawberries and pineapple in a small casserole dish (8x8).
In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients.
Spread oatmeal crumble evenly on the fruit.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Until the fruit is soft and bubbly.
Allow to sit for 15 minutes (if you have that much self control) before serving with ice cream.  I had Moose Tracks in the freezer.  Surprisingly, chocolate and peanut butter goes well with pineapple and strawberries.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oysters in White Wine Cream Sauce

This dish is the result of another Kroger manager's special. While picking up a few groceries on Saturday afternoon I walked by the fresh fish counter and noticed fresh oysters on special. I couldn't pass those up, so I also added some heavy cream to my basket. I also looked over the fresh herbs, but I couldn't decide on what would go well with oysters, so I just decided to wing it once I got home.

  • Fresh oysters
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Cream
  • Dry white wine like Pinot Grigio
Open the oysters and drain any liquid into a skillet. Wash the oysters under cool running water. Add the oysters to the skillet and turn the heat to medium. Season with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt. Add a good amount of white wine to the skillet, so there is about 1/4 inch of liquid. Add some dried basil and parsley, or use fresh if you have it. Simmer the oysters until the liquid is mostly gone, turning the oysters several times. Make sure the oysters are done - they should be tender all the way through. If they aren't done, add some water and continue to simmer. Once the oysters are cooked and the liquid is mostly gone, check the seasoning, then add some cream. Simmer the sauce a bit more until it is nicely thickened then serve.

Honey-Ginger-Soy-Lime Yellowfin Tuna

This is a very simple, yet delicious recipe for those who like tuna.

  • Yellowfin Tuna Steak
  • 1 Tbs Honey
  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 Tsp Fresh Grated Ginger
Combine the honey, soy sauce and lime juice. Stir until the honey is dissolved then add the ginger. Marinate the tuna steak for about 20 minutes in this mixture. Sear the tuna in a skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, just enough to to lightly brown each side. Serve the tuna steak cut into 1/4 inch slices, with your choice of vegetable.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pan Seared Trout with Oven Roasted Root Veggies

Sometimes I just get a foodie urge to cook something with great ingredients. Today was one of those days. I hit up the local Whole Foods and perused to see what was on sale and what just looked fantastic. I started in the produce section and filled my basket with wonderful organic veggies like carrots, turnip, purple sweet potato, and rutabaga. I moved on to the meat/fish counter and stood there for a while whilst being asked several times if I had been helped, but I needed time to 1. decide which protein to buy and 2. decide what to do with said protein. (Sometimes those two happen at the same time, sometimes #2 happens which then determines #1...) This time I decided on the trout that was on sale. The only bad thing? It still had its head!! Fortunately the lovely worker decapitated it for me, so I didn't have to do the dirty deed myself. 

Pan Seared Trout
1 whole de-boned, de-headed, de-scaled trout
garlic powder
panko bread crumbs

Generously season the fleshy side of the fish with the salt, pepper, and garlic. Add a light dusting of the bread crumbs (just so you end up with the lovely golden brown crust). Heat up a saute pan with a lump of butter. Gently place the fish in flesh side down in the hot pan. Listen to the wonderful sizzle as you create the crispy brown crust. Flip the fish over to finish cooking. (No idea how long it took, but the fish was really thin, so I would guess only about 5-6 minutes total).

Oven Roasted Root Veggies
1 parsnip (peeled)
4-5 small carrots
1 sweet potato
1 rutabaga (peeled)
1 small onion
Olive oil
Salt & pepper & garlic

Pre-heat oven to 350F (or hotter if you are in a hurry). Slice/dice the veggies into reasonable "bite size" pieces. Toss with olive oil. Spread out on baking sheets (I used two). Generously season with salt, pepper, garlic, or whatever spice you want. Bake for 20 mins. Stir the veggies. Bake for another 20-30 mins, depending on how big of pieces you used.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grain-free Pumpkin, Cranberry, Chocolate Chip, and Walnut Scones

I'm on a great rotation this month!  Its been four days and I've probably already learned more than I did during the entirety of last month!  Both attendings are excited about helping me learn a bit of tropical medicine before my journey to Ghana.  And there are no weekends or call.

The downside is being at the hospital for 8am lecture and not leaving until after dinnertime.  I wanted to make something healthy for breakfast that could be easily consumed in the car.  There were some cranberries and half a can of pumpkin in the freezer from this fall, so here we have pumpkin and a whole collection of other things scones.  A scone and hard boiled egg will make great grab and go breakfasts for the next few days.

Don't let me fool you.  These are not the usual sweet, dissolve in your mouth scones you'd enjoy with a cup of tea.  If you must (or choose to) have a gluten-free diet, this recipe is an acceptable substitute for the much tastier original.  Also, if fresh cranberries are unavailable, raspberries would probably work.  Or additional chocolate chips and walnuts can be added.

Grain-Free Pumpkin, Cranberry, Chocolate Chip, and Walnut Scones 
makes 8 scones
2 cups almond flour
1/3 cup soy flour
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 cup cranberries
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix all ingredients together. The dough will be moist.  Form into a circle and cut into 8 triangles.
Bake at 350 F on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 30-40 minutes.