Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cherry Lime Cupcakes

Cupcake love.  Its all around.  Shops devoted to cupcakes, Fancy cupcake papers.  Cupcake decorations, edible and not.  Blogs devoted to cupcakes. I like cupcakes but I don't love cupcakes.  That is until now.  And no, it is not these cupcakes.  Though they are good, they do not compare to the lovely Cherry Lime Chocolate Cupcake I ate at La Tea Dah from Sugar Mountain Bake Shoppe. 

Honestly, this was the closest I could find.  I know it's not chocolate but I had to give these a try.  They were good but they weren't wow.  I just checked the Sugar Mountain Bake Shoppe site and could not find that cupcake.  I need to call them.  Maybe I dreamt it.  Oh, that would mean I did not really consume any calories if I dreamt it.  

You know I could even find a recipe close to what I had...  I think I may have to buy another, if its even available.

For now, if you would like to give these a go, here is the recipe.

Cherry Lime Cupcakes

2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
zest of 3 limes
1 stick (8 Tbs or 4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with liners. Makes 24 normal size cupcakes.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and lime zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.

Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between 18-24 cupcakes. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch. Transfer the cupcakes cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes. Frost and decorate after fully cooled.

Cherry Frosting

3 3/4 cups confectioner’s’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 teaspoons cherry extract
1/4 cup half and half
red food coloring (optional)

To make the frosting, combine the confectioner’s’ sugar, butter and half in half in a bowl.  Mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated, then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth. Add half and half as needed to achieve texture. Add more cherry extract if needed to achieve desired taste. Add red food coloring if you want a more festive cherry look. Frost cooled cupcakes. Garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries.

Friday, July 27, 2012

BEST Fried Green Tomatoes

I can't eat these things or think about these, fried green tomatoes, without thinking about the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

I have made these a few times with varying results.  This recipe, given at one of our CSA pick ups, is a great recipe.  I think your results may change based on how thick you slice your tomatoes.  Follow the recipe and you will be right on track.   I wish I had followed the suggestion of slapping some mozzarella between two of them and smothering it in marinara sauce.  WOW!  Next time...

These do not absorb a lot of grease, just try to keep the temperature higher rather than lower.  If they sit longer in the pan they have an added chance of absorbing more grease.

BEST Fried Green Tomatoes

4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Slice tomatoes a little shy of a 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends. 

Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat. 

In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels. 

AND if you want to go all out, slap a slice of mozzarella in between two slices of the fried green tomatoes and cover in marinara.   

Note: I used my ends and a few extra tomatoes to make something else.... stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zucchini Tart with Dill and Garlic

Had my fabulous four monthly dinner get together.  It was my turn.  I always fret about what to make.  A few things I knew I wanted in my dinner.  Light and lots of fresh vegetables.  When I saw this tart from Fine Cooking I knew it would make an appearance. 

I made the tart with dill and garlic instead of thyme.  I really liked it although I would like the dough to be a bit more tender.  I will make it with a different dough next time- one that is not so crumbly.  I also will overlap the zucchini a lot more so that you get more zucchini in every bite.

I served the tart with a chop chop type of salad- I will have to post that one because I dont want to forget about it.  I also served cucumber soup. I will post about that too.

Zucchini Tart with Garlic and Dill
Recipe adapted from this recipe from Fine Cooking 117 , pp. 63
May 3, 2012

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
5 oz. cold unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1-1/2 lb. zucchini, trimmed and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. plain goat cheese, softened
3 tsps. chopped fresh dill
1 clove garlic minced 

In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, and 3/4 tsp. salt until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the vinegar and 3 to 4 Tbs. cold water, pulsing until the dough just comes together. Shape the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk; wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough on a well-floured surface into an 11-inch round that’s 1/4-inch thick. Put the dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and chill until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.

In a colander, combine the zucchini with 2 tsp. salt and drain for 30 minutes. Place between paper towels and press.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Toss the zucchini with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil, garlic and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese with the dill and pepper to taste. Spread the cheese over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange the squash rounds in tightly overlapping concentric circles all the way to the edge of the dough.  Bake until the zucchini is golden, 40 to 50 minutes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lemon Chicken, Baked not Fried

A friend gave me this recipe many years ago and I have to say I have made it quite a bit. It is very tasty and easy.  Way less calories then the fried stuff you find at Chinese/American restaurants.  It's very crispy too. 

Lemon Chicken
This is a quick and easy recipe that has super flavor. And no frying! It is a favorite around here. I always double the sauce because I love it on the rice that I make to go with it.

6 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons water

3 cups corn flakes, crushed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ketchup
1/2 cup honey

1 cup chicken broth
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350F.  Trim chicken breast, rinse and dry.  In a wide low based bowl, whisk together egg white soy sauce and water. Set aside.  In another wide low bowl combine cornflakes, pepper and ginger.  To crush corn flakes you can place them in a plastic bag and roll over them with a rolling pin.  You don't want to crush them too finely because you want the texture. 

Dip chicken into egg white wash.  Then dip into coating, both sides.  Place on aluminum foil lined baking sheet.  (Makes for faster clean up).

While chicken is baking make sauce.  Whisk together the ingredients in a saucepan.  Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  It will thicken up fast.  Once thickened, turn down heat to low to keep warm.

Chicken will take about 20 minutes to 40 minutes depending on how thick your slices are.  The best way to get a read is to use a thermometer. I check to see if chicken gives when depressed with the back of a fork.  If the chicken feels firm and does not give, then, it's done.  Pour the sauce over chicken and serve.  Or you can just set the sauce on the table and serve country style.  I love to pour mine over my rice as well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pecan Muffins

I had a little pecan meal left.  Oh, about a cup.  I wanted to use it up and didn't want major sweets laying around like macarons (which I would devour gleefully).  Since I am always looking for easy breakfast ideas because it is so much easier to have something quick in the morning, I decided on muffins.  

What's nice about these is that it nicely hid the nuts that my daughter usually picks out of her muffins.   The muffins simultaneously delivered a bit of healthy protein (and carbs of course) to my children's little bodies and brains.  Thereby helping them focus on their studies, rather than on their bellies. Yes, this was a  couple months ago when school was in session.

It's really not hard to make up your own recipes.  It takes a bit of knowledge and experience but it is fairly easy.  You can always use other recipes as your guide.  As long as you get the main bones of a recipe in there, you will have success. 

Add a bit of peach jam to these babies and pump up the yum factor.

Perfect Power Pecan Muffins

3/4 cup  sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup sunflower oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup pecan meal

Mix all the dry ingredients except for the sugar and set aside. Combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar.  Add in the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Do not over mix.  Pour into muffin cups. Makes 15 muffins.  I use a 12 muffin cup pan and a few small ramekins to do the job.  Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes.  You want the tops to spring back when you touch them.  Cool in pan for about five minutes then remove and place on a cooling rack. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Animals and Oatmeal Cookie Bars

UPDATE: Picture added. Yes, those are swirl caramel chips that I tossed in there.

We have been away on vacation. We did not purposely go to see animals we just happened to keep encountering them.  The first picture below was from a visit to a zoo, though not on our vacation, I just had to share it nonetheless.  And of course, that day, we were on a mission to see animals.
A little lesson at the zoo for me and the girls.   My lesson, turtles grunt.  The girls lesson- turtles love to wrestle.

Thank you bee for everything you do.  Never leave us!

Ran into a bunch of ladies taking a walk.  They were cackling away.

The prettiest rooster I ever seen.

Tiki- so cute.

No, I dont have a picture of these nice cookie bars because they disappeared rather quickly.  I will make them again (I did and thus the picture) and post a picture.  I did however want to pass along the recipe.  These are great for a take along- not having to make each and every cookie.


1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 c. oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 lg. pkg. chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. quick Quaker oats
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  Combine wet ingredients  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until blended. Spread in large ungreased cookie sheet (preferably a jelly roll pan). Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Cut in bars. Great for camping or picnics.

Monday, July 2, 2012

McCracken CSA

I have wanted to do a CSA for a couple years now. I finally found one. I am super excited about it too.  The vegetables were wonderfully fresh and varied.  I couldn't be more stoked about it- honestly.  Cant wait to dig into it. 

If you do not know what a CSA is, it is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture.   You enter into an agreement with the farmer to pay for your produce upfront, thereby providing the farmer with much needed funds for the start of the season.  As the weeks go by you share in the bounty of the harvest.  You do also share in the risk.  So if there is a drought or something, you could lose out a little or a lot in the amount you receive.  Some CSA's have a certain amount of work that is factored in.  You can learn all about it on Local Harvest and find where one in located near you.  Click here.

Our CSA is through McCracken Farms in Brockport NY.  In the coming weeks I plan to share information about them as well as document the produce we receive and what we do with it.  Yeah!  McCracken Farms shares recipes and ideas as well as information about the produce that is current.  It is such a lovely touch and I sure appreciate it!
P.S.  I have never had fresh carrots before so this was a total treat for me.  I plan to use the carrot tops as well.  I will let you know what I end up doing with it!