Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best ever Frosting and Cupcakes

I made some cupcakes last week for the Riverfront Festival.   Some were for the Senior Center Bake Sale and some others were earmarked to go to the vendor dinner the night before the festival.    I had a lot of fun with them, mainly because I filled the cupcakes with a frosting that is so good, and relatively easy to make.  And it's pretty darn stable as well, at least in the sense that when it meets warm temps it doesn't melt all over the place all that easily.   I have to say thanks to my friend Marge for introducing me to this frosting.   She made it a few years ago and frosted a cake with it.  She also uses it as a filling for Gobs, which is a Pennsylvania treat, and totally wonderful.  However, this post is about the cupcakes and what I filled them with.  

I did use a cake mix for the cupcakes, mainly because most people expect that, for some reason good homemade cakes are not as well received. But that's OK. Cake mixes are quick and easy and used for a reason.


Now for the fun stuff. I made some mini cupcakes, and found out just how many you can actually make from a mix, and all I can say is WOW, I had no idea you could make so many. Luckily for me I have two mini tart pans and some mini tart molds so I was able to bake 34 at a time. I filled them with this frosting, in fact here's the link from Pioneer Woman with some great pictures of the process. I didn't get any pictures taken of the process, quite frankly, I was in a hurry and it was more important to get this made than to take pictures. I will take some at a later date though, cause this is so not the last time I make cupcakes this way.
This frosting does lend itself to the process of piping quite nicely, and I was pleasantly surprised. I took a pastry bag, with a pastry nozzle that had a wide opening, and pierced the top of the cupcakes with it and filled them with the frosting, pulling back on the bag as I was pumping it in.
Production line

Filled and ready for frosting

 It did take me a couple of tries to get the right amount in, and some of the mini cupcakes kind of burst with the filling, but that's not a bad thing. Then I frosted the tops with some commercial frosting and voila, filled cupcakes.
Chilling out in the freezer

And I have to say, they were a big hit. When I told my dear husband about them he said it sounded good, but he wanted some with a squiggly line and writing on top, so I accommodated him.
Signed cupcakes



Here's the recipe and how-to's for the frosting. Oh and by the way, this is the original recipe for the Red Velvet Cake frosting. Just sayin...


Frosting: Boiled Milk Frosting
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract



Whisk together the flour and milk and heat over a medium heat, stirring constantly until it gets thick and cooks for just a minute or so. And you do have to be vigilant on this, trust me, it can get lumpy. I actually take the milk and flour with an ice cube and shake it together for a just a few seconds or so in a sealed tumbler, it breaks up any lumps. (This is also a great hint when making gravy, shake some water and flour together with an ice cube or two and then add the flour mixture to the sauce, keeps some of those lumps out of the gravy).
Set this aside to cool down, very important, you don't want this to be hot when you add it to the sugar and butter.
Cream the butter and sugar together until most of the sugar crystals have dissolved. I like to add the vanilla extract at this point as the  alcohol in the extract will also help the process. (although if you're like me and forget to buy vanilla extract, head to the liquor cabinet and add in a some Kahlua or a sweet liqueur instead of the extract, so long as it's not really strongly flavored, no one will be able to tell the difference.) *Note to self, remember to buy those vanilla beans soon so you can make your own extract. Sorry, got sidetracked there.
Add in the cooked flour and milk mixture, as soon as it's cooled all the way down and whip it together with the butter and sugar. I used my whisk attachment on my Kitchenaid, and whipped it until it was light and fluffy. Keep going, I really couldn't tell you how long I whipped it, but it was several minutes. This will increase in volume, by a fair amount. I know I filled up a 4 cup container with the frosting and stuck it in the fridge for later on. This is not a really sweet frosting, but it is so tasty. And I know it's tasty, cause I kept sneaking tastes of it.

This makes enough to frost a two layer cake as well.  And it freezes, beautifully.  In fact I keep a couple of piping bags filled with the frosting in my freezer, I just take them out and let them defrost in the fridge overnight and I'm ready to go.    

* Some other names for the frosting are:  Cloudburst Frosting, Roux Frosting, Heritage Frosting and Mock Buttercream.  



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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Venison, Pot Roast and Fish Balls for Senior Lunch

One of the reasons I like to volunteer my time and talents to helping cook meals at the Senior center is because I get to try new cooking new foods, new recipes and learn from others.   Besides which I get bored cooking the same old stuff all the time.    And last week was a good example.
Sarge marinated and cooked up a couple of venison hams, and oh my goodness were they good and well received.   I made some pot roasts and we also served up some potatoes and carrots with the meat.   Sarge cooked up a big old pot of turnip greens and some Lima Beans and Ham as well.   And I can't forget the cornbread and biscuits that were served alongside the salad.    Here's a few pictures of some of the prep work.   We got a little bit excited when it came time to serve the meal, and we had to scramble a little bit but that's par for the course.   And I didn't get all the pictures I wanted either. 
Pot Roast, ready to be carved

Cornbread and Bread Pudding

Venison, in the process of being carved up.

Fish Balls

If you noticed I didn't say anything about the Fish Balls up above, but that's because I was saving the mention for the last.    With the price of fish these days, well the price of any food, you don't want to waste anything.    A few weeks ago we had some stellar Fried Tilapia and for some reason there was some left over.   Well, we do try to use up all the food we cook, so I made some really tasty Fish Balls out of the Tilapia.    With a little bit of Tartar Sauce on top, they were very tasty.  The recipe follows, well such as it is.   You'll need to eyeball and taste your own.

Fried Tilapia Fish Balls

2 lbs. Fried fish fillets, chopped up in food processor 
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, reduced sodium one
Heavy cream, to taste

Mix the chopped up fish together with the egg yolks and Old Bay Seasoning.   Fold in the beaten egg whites and add enough cream to make the fish stick together when you try to form a ball.   Place the fish balls on a greased baking sheet and drizzle with some olive oil.   Bake in a 375 deg. oven for about 15 minutes and serve with some tartar sauce.  

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Taquito's, Wontons and Tapa's Night for April

It was a wild and stormy night, well, ok it was a wild and stormy day yesterday, and I think people just wanted to stay home so we didn't have as large a turnout as usual, but we were still able to have a few people in and visit with.   And sometimes it's just nice to have just a few people you can have a lovely conversation with.   I got to visit a little more last night and it was wonderful.    The food wasn't bad either.
I made some Taquito's and Wontons,
And then there was some wonderful Smoked Salmon, some of the best I've had in years.
Salmon in front, wontons and taquito's in back
And Pizza
A relish tray with krab and olives
And some fantastic Tuna
Tuna with seaweed salad and wasabi, wonderful  (pardon the blurry picture)
All in all a nice gathering with great conversation and lovely people.  

And by the way, I'm going to be the guest chef next month at the Crooked River Grill.    Here's a sneak peak at the projected Menu;
Chips and Salsa on the tables along with Escabeche of Jalapeno's and Carrots
Albondigas Soup for a starter
Carnita's with Refried Bean and Lime Cilantro Rice and of course some flour tortillas
and Pico de Gallo

I'll be demonstrating how to make your own Refried Beans, as well as making Pico de Gallo and Carnita's.  So stay tuned and I'll keep you updated.  

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Senior's Lunch for the past two weeks

I think I've said this before, but this month seems to have been extremely busy, so I've not posted as much as I think I should.     I've still been doing my stint at the Senior Center, cooking my little heart out.    I do enjoy cooking, obviously.   I also get to try making recipes I would never try at home, and I learn, every single time I go there, I learn something new.    My fellow cooks are fantastic, and have years of experience and I'm shameless in asking questions of them.   We each have strengths that tend to complement each other as well.   I may not have cooked in a commercial environment, but I've done my share of cooking for large groups of people.  
 I thought I would give you a little glimpse of the dishes as we're preparing the food.   
Biscuits ready for the oven.

Cornbread ready for the oven

Creamed Corn at the back and some custard cooking in front

Cabbage cooking down for the Cabbage and Kielbasa boil

Prepping Mac and Cheese
And since it was Easter, one of our volunteers brought an Easter Cake.
Then there was last week.
We had Hamburger Steak over rice
And some Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Carrot Salad
Green Beans
Green Salad
And I neglected to get pictures of the dessert table, but then again, I'm usually pretty busy getting the food ready to serve at noon.    This past week we fed almost 100 people, which is a pretty decent turnout.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and Boat Club for April

This month has been busy.   Everytime I turn around, I've got another place to go or another commitment to meet.   But I did make it to Boat Club last Monday.     And as usual I'm glad I did.    We always have good food there, and this week was no exception.     From a wonderful smoked Brisket to smoked Pompano dip, from Chicken Enchilada's to Oatmeal cake.    And in no particular order,
Potato Salad

Chicken Enchilada's and Mac and Cheese (my contribution)

Deviled Eggs

Smoked Brisket

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Oatmeal Cake

Lemon Cakes

Chicken and Broccoli Lasagna Rollups

More Deviled Eggs

Chips and Salsa

Fish Dip
And I can't leave you without a recipe.    The Peanut Butter cookies were brought by someone else, but I knew the recipe, giggle.    I think these are without a doubt the absolute best ever, Peanut Butter Cookies, oh and they're gluten free.     So that's what we'll call them,

Best Ever Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies     10 minutes    375 degree Oven

1 cup Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)
1 cup Sugar
1 Egg

Mix sugar and egg together, until smooth.  Then stir in the Peanut Butter.   Form dough into small balls, walnut size and place on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.   Then you get fancy if you like.   Use a fork to flatten and make a pattern with the tines of the fork.   Or you can flatten the cookie a little with your hand and press a Hershey Kiss in the middle.   Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees or until the cookie is done.    Let stand about a minute or so and then put them on a cooling rack.   

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Skidne Æg (Hard cooked eggs in Mustard Sauce)

Looking for a new idea for something to do with some of those leftover hard cooked eggs?    How about trying something a little different?   Skidne æg was one of my favorite lunches growing up, which translated means Dirty Eggs, not the greatest name, but the flavour, well, let me just say it's yummy.     Ideally, you want eggs that are just barely hard cooked, most recipes call for a 7 minute egg.    However, this recipe does yield itself very nicely to hard cooked eggs as well.    Which is why I'm posting it today.
Skidne  Æg

If you have kids, they wanted to decorate hard cooked eggs, and you probably have a few left over since you know your kids didn't really want to eat all those eggs, just decorate them.   I know you can always make egg salad sandwiches, or potato salad or sliced eggs on bread.   However, why not try this with some of the eggs.  And by now you're probably sick of the hard cooked eggs anyway. 

Peel your hard cooked eggs and set aside.   I made some eggs up for this, because I didn't decorate any eggs this year, but as I said before, this is also a great light lunch so go ahead and boil a couple of eggs if you don't have any handy.   I'll wait.

Ready? Good, so am I.

To start with, make a white sauce, simple right?   But try using this trick, heating your milk in the microwave while you are making a roux.   Which is just your basic flour and butter or oil, in a pan.   Then whisk in the hot milk with the roux and cook for a minute or so until it is thickened.   Add a couple of tablespoons Dijon Mustard and whisk that in.  Some salt and pepper to taste and then you are ready for the eggs.
Serve the eggs with a side of rye bread.

There you have it, a simple, different way to serve those pesky leftover hard-cooked eggs or just a nice light lunch.   
Skidne  Æg


yield: 1 servingprint recipe

Skidne Æg (Cooked eggs in Mustard sauce)

prep time: 5 MINScook time: 5 MINStotal time: 10 mins
Mom used to make this every Easter as one of many ways to use up leftover hard cooked eggs. But she also made it from time to time during the year as a nice light lunch. I make it for myself as a lunch occasionally.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 soft or hard cooked eggs, peeled.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook eggs, either soft cooked or hard cooked, peel and set aside while making the sauce. 
  2. Heat 1 cup milk in microwave until hot. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon flour and whisk together and let cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the hot milk into the pan, whisking constantly. Let cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. If you desire a more mustard taste, add another tablespoon of Dijon Mustard.  
  3. Warm the peeled hard cooked eggs, or barely cooked eggs in some hot water for just about a minute or two, if they're cold.   Or   just stick the peeled cold eggs into the sauce and spoon the sauce over them for a couple of minutes to warm the eggs up again.   Just keep the pot on low while you're doing that.  
Created using The Recipes Generator

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Feta Cheese Spread

Feta Cheese Spread


   Oh, you want to know what it was?  Sorry, I really don't have a name for it.   In fact I got the idea from a local restaurant and then did my own little riff on it.   I think I'll call it a Feta Cheese spread.   Basically, you smoosh up some feta cheese, add Mayonnaise, some Cavenders Greek Seasoning and a minced garlic clove or two.   I actually think I overdid it with the garlic, but maybe not.   I love garlic anyway, and while it may not keep the vampires at bay, with garlic breath you can keep just about anyone else away. 

Whether you want to or not.

Feta Cheese Spread with Chips
 Seriously, try this, or better yet, put it on a chicken wrap and inhale that wonderful Feta goodness.  

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Seriously Good Mac and Cheese

After making Mac and Cheese for the senior lunch a couple of weeks ago I received a lot of  comments on how good the dish was, and I posted the recipe that I used for that.  But that one made a whole lotta Mac and Cheese and would probably be more than you really need to make for a gathering.   So when I was asked to bring Mac and Cheese for Easter I decided to make a smaller amount.  And still ended up with more than we needed, but that's OK, I like leftovers.

Mac and CheeseTo start with, get a big old pot of water boiling.   You need to add a little salt and I like to add some olive oil to the water as well.    Cook the macaroni to your preferred level of done-ness.   Personally, I like mine cooked all the way, about 11 or 12 minutes.

While the macaroni is cooking, grate the cheese.   I used a pound of Colby Jack cheese, but you can use a mixture of Monterey Jack Cheese and Cheddar Cheese.   If you have some sharp cheddar handy, throw some of that in there.     Sprinkle the grated cheese with about a tablespoon of cornstarch and toss.   Set this aside while you make a white sauce.

Heat up 4 cups of half and half or whole milk, until almost boiling.  Then in a separate pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter and stir in 2 tablespoons flour, then add the hot milk and whisk together and cook until thickened.   Your sauce won't be real thick, don't worry about that.   As soon as it's cooked a little to get rid of the raw flour taste, dump in the grated cheese and stir together.   The cheese will melt at this point and that little bit of cornstarch on the cheese will help to keep the cheese from separating.   (Did you know you just made a Bechamel Sauce?  You did.) Add about 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/8th teaspoon hot mustard powder or two tablespoons prepared yellow mustard and 1/8th teaspoon cayenne pepper to the sauce at this point.   Taste, and adjust the seasonings, you can always add more, but taking out that cayenne pepper, well, let me just say this, it ain't possible.  (I know this from experience).  The mustard actually makes it taste more cheesy. 
Cubed Velveeta on cooked macaroni

Let it stand a couple of minutes while you cube up some Velveeta cheese.   I used the new Queso Blanco.   Just about a cup or so, again to your taste.   Mix the cubed velveeta into the hot macaroni and stir, then pour the cheese sauce over top, mix it all together gently.
Bechamel Sauce poured over cooked macaroni and Velveeta
Macaroni with Bechamel Sauce

Top with some panko bread crumbs that you've mixed with a little butter, and sprinkle over the top.   I melt some butter in a little pan and then add the Panko to it and stir it around, and brown it just a little teensy bit.
Panko with butter and cheese

  This time round I also added about a half cup of shredded cheese to it as well.    Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
Mac and Cheese

  Take out of oven and let stand for 10 minutes, then serve.    And at this point, stand well back from the pan, you're going to have people elbowing into the line.     This is some seriously good Mac and Cheese. 

Sauce Recipe for Mac and Cheese

4 cups half and half, heated almost to boiling.
2 tablespoons flour mixed with 2 tablespoons butter to form a roux
1 pound grated Colby Jack cheese, or,
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese grated and
1/2 pound Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese grated (optional)
1 tablespoon cornstarch, sprinkled over the cheese
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot mustard powder or
2 tablespoons yellow mustard,
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Cook Macaroni according to directions, butter a large casserole dish, 9x13 inches works well,  and put the cooked macaroni in that.
Heat half and half almost to boiling and set aside.   Melt butter in a saucepan, add flour and stir together to make a roux.    Add the hot half and half and whisk together until it has thickened.   Add the spices, whisk together and then add the cheese.   Stir together until melted and the sauce has thickened a little.   Pour over the cooked macaroni and Velveeta Cheese cubes.   Mix together gently and sprinkle some buttered Panko bread crumbs on top.   Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until nice and bubbly and hot.  Take out and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.   This stuff is HOT when it comes out of the oven, and needs to rest, besides which, you'll just burn your tongue if you try to eat it fresh out of the oven.   I know this because, well, let me just say my tongue is just fine now.  



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