Monday, April 30, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dreamcakes


I think I’ve mentioned before how much I LOVE cupcakes. Well, word must have got around, because last week I was asked to bake cupcakes for a work colleague’s birthday.



I immediately thought of a Chocolate Peanut Butter cake I had made from SmittenKitchen.com (her site is amazing and I get so much inspiration from her, so please go check it out right now!) for my dad’s birthday last Spring. Only this time, I thought I would simplify things a little bit and make cupcakes as opposed to cake, and skip the chocolate ganache (although it was sinfully delicious on the cake). Instead, I chose to top them with miniature Reese's, which I thought added a cute extra touch. 






These cupcakes turned out better than expected and they truly are dreamcakes!  The cake is moist and delicious and the frosting was just as good as I remembered. But really when your combining ingredients like peanut butter and chocolate, where can you go wrong?




My co-workers must have agreed because I’ve had multiple cupcake requests since I brought these in last Tuesday J




Chocolate Peanut Butter Dreamcakes
Adapted from Smittenkitchen.com
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup neutral vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour into cupcake liners, about ¾ of the way full.
Bake 18-20 minutes and let cool.
Peanut Butter Frosting
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick buter
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
Mix everything together except for the peanut butter. Once sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla are mixed together add the peanut butter and beat till smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!





Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grilled Chicken and Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Basil and Tomatoes


It’s official. This is my very first post of something I made in the month of April, in the year 2012. No more recipes from past cooking experiences, no more poorly taken photographs. Those first few posts will be affectionately referred to as my “practice” posts moving forward.

I’m so proud of this very first post (I’m serious, just ask my family who watched me giddily prepare and photograph the experience from the very beginning all the way until I took my first bite). And what a first “official” recipe it is. It’s Gnocchi (yum!) with goat cheese, fresh roma tomatoes, grilled chicken and topped with fresh basil. Did I say yum? YUM!

There is nothing better on earth than carbs and cheese, except for maybe a good glass of red wine. They are, unfortunately, my two favorite things in the whole entire world. So it’s fitting that this first “real” post is one that embodies my two favorite things. I will admit, that I didn’t have the courage to muster making gnocchi from scratch (I’ll save that for a later date J).











This gnocchi is light (as light as gnocchi can be) and is mixed with grilled chicken, fresh tomatoes, basil, goat cheese and just a touch of lemon juice. It’s delicious and I dare you not to love it just as much as I did.

Oh, and if you like, I encourage you to pair it with a nice glass of wine, just like I did!


Grilled Chicken and Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Basil and Tomatoes

1 Package Gnocchi
2-3 Large Chicken Breasts
2-3 cloves of garlic
3 Roma Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 oz Chevre Goat Cheese
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Pat chicken breasts dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add garlic to the olive oil in the pan and place chicken breasts in. Brown chicken breasts (4-5 minutes each side). Transfer to a baking sheet and bake chicken for 25 minutes.

While your chicken is cooking, boil water and cook gnocchi according to the packaged instructions. Slice tomatoes and basil and set aside. In the bottom of your serving dish, place goat cheese, about ½ c of the pasta water, olive oil and about 2 Tsp of fresh lemon juice. Whisk together.

Remove chicken from the oven and tear or cut into strips. Mix pasta, chicken, tomatoes and basil together in the serving dish with the goat cheese mixture. Mix well and serve!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Balloon Chocolate Ice Cream Bowls

People come up with the darndest things, don’t you think? When I saw these, I knew I had to make them. Not just because they look incredibly delicious but also because they’re fun! You know that feeling you get when you get to pop the bubble packaging, or when you hear a balloon go POP! It’s just exciting, albeit slightly annoying to your fiancĂ© and friends. You get butterflies in your tummy when you hear the pop even though you know the noise is coming. You don’t? Maybe it’s just the kid in me.


Anyways, when I saw these chocolate ice cream bowls that you make by dipping balloons in chocolate, the kid in me HAD to try them. Not to mention that after making chocolate ice cream bowls, you then HAVE to make an ice cream Sunday which then must be eaten immediately, because chocolate bowls melt and who would want that kind of a mess, right? That’s what I thought.





I found these on pinterest. If you haven’t heard of pinterest yet, you must be living under a rock. It’s this amazingly addictive site where people “pin” all these wonderful, crafty ideas that they find on the internet. These chocolate ice cream bowls are one of those wonderful ideas. They’re easy, fun, delicious and you must go make one yourself right now. Here’s how:

Chocolate Ice Cream Bowls
Water Balloons
Melting Chocolate (I used Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips)
Canola Oil 
Wax Paper

Blow up water balloons so that they're slightly bigger than the size of a fist. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. 

Pour your chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and microwave 1-2 minutes until the chocolate is melted. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil, enough that the chocolate  pours smoothly off of a spoon. Dip the bottom half of the balloons into the chocolate several times until the bottom of the balloon has a fairly thick covering. Set the balloons onto the wax paper. Once all of your balloons have a thick covering of chocolate, put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator to harden. (They only need about 30 minutes). 

Once your chocolate has hardened around the balloons, take them out of the refrigerator and pop each balloon. Peel the ballon out from the inside of the chocolate bowl. You'll have to do this quickly as the chocolate will start to melt from the heat of your hand. Fill each chocolate bowl with your favorite ice cream and top with your favorite toppings! 

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Superbowl Sunday Brownies


Boys love football. They also love food. Which is why I decided, what better time to make football inspired brownies than on Superbowl Sunday?


These adorable (and easy!) football shaped brownies were quite the party pleaser at the Superbowl party we attended in early February and it wasn’t just the kiddos that were excited about football shaped food. I’m convinced that anytime you get creative with food, both grown-ups and kids alike get excited.


While my Seahawk's, unfortunately, did not make it to the Superbowl this year, these brownies are a winner any time of year!


Chocolate Football Brownies
4 squares Unsweetened Chocolate
¾ cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350°F.

Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove brownies from pan. If you don’t have a football shaped cookie cutter, these are easy to cut into the shapes of footballs.

Butter Cream Frosting
1 stick butter
1-2 tsp vanilla
¼ c milk
3 c powdered sugar

Mix the ingredients together. Put into a piping bag and decorate your brownies like footballs!

Boozy Holiday Gift Ideas


The holidays tend to be rather gluttonous around my house. There’s always lots of food, lots of drinks and lots of festive cheer! But in between Thanksgiving, Holiday Lights Shows, My nieces Christmas program, holiday shopping, parties and Christmas (wooooo, I’m exhausted just thinking back to all of that)…we found the time to create these fun and festive holiday infused vodka recipes that we gave away to friends as Christmas gifts!


We took cranberries and limes and pomegranate seeds and infused our favorite vodka with the fruit to make a tasty and decorative holiday treat. The best part about this was that it was not only super easy, but also really inexpensive. Don’t like cranberries, limes or pomegranates? This recipe could be easily adaptable using any of your favorite fruits.





Cranberry Lime Infused Vodka
12 Empty Bottles or Jars
2-3 Fifths of Vodka
Cranberries
Limes
Sugar

Make sure your bottles have been rinsed and dried. Put the cranberries and lime peels into the bottles (or the fruit of your choice). We also did a pomegranate version. Using a funnel pour vodka into the bottles until it's about an inch from being full. Add about 1 tablespoon of sugar to each bottle to help sweeten the flavor.

Seal the bottles and let sit anywhere from 2 weeks to several months.

These make great gifts year round!

A Day at the Bluff

Have you ever had pumpkin donuts? If not, I suggest you go out and find some right this minute. I’m serious. Stop doing whatever it is you’re doing and find yourself some pumpkin donuts. Or, use the recipe I have below from Better Homes and Gardens. Skip over this post, and make them. RIGHT. NOW.

The fall is my most favorite time of year. It’s not just that I happen to be an October baby that makes me love it so much or that I’m getting married this fall in September. Nope. It has nothing to do with either of those things. Although, I’ll admit, they are added perks! What makes me love the fall so much, other than the beautiful colors, the warm fall days and much cooler nights, is that I get to go to Greenbluff and eat Pumpkin Donuts!




Greenbluff is an association of small family farms just a short 30 minute drive north of Spokane, WA. It’s fun all year round. The crops vary by season, but any time of year, you can go and pick your own fresh, locally grown produce. In the fall, they have the Harvest Festival. It’s Awesome. Apple picking, hayrides, fresh apple cider, pumpkin patches and oh man those pumpkin donuts. They are TO DIE FOR. I’ve tried, time and time again to find a recipe that will compare, but nothing will come close, except for maybe the recipe I have below.





Every October we head up to Greenbluff to pick pumpkins and buy pumpkin donuts by the dozen. Yes. I said by the dozens. I’m serious, you can’t just buy one of these and I dare you not to try and eat more than one in a sitting. They’re addicting.


And I’m not the only one who thinks so…



My niece Ocean enjoying a pumpkin donut!

Pumpkin Donuts
**Taken from Better Homes and Garden

2 
tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 
cup sugar
2 
teaspoons baking powder
1/2 
teaspoon salt
1/2 
teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4
 teaspoon baking soda
1/4
 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8
 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or a Dash of ground nutmeg
1/8 
teaspoon ground cloves
1/2
 cup canned pumpkin
1/3
 cup buttermilk
1 
egg
1 
egg yolk
1/2 
teaspoon vanilla
2 
cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high seed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour until well combined. Cover and chill 3 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-inch doughnut cutter, dipping cutter into flour between cuts. Reroll as necessary.

Fry doughnuts, 2 or 3 at a time, in deep, hot fat (365 degrees F) about 2-1/2 minutes or until golden, turning once. Using a slotted spoon, removed doughnuts from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. Coat warm doughnuts in Spiced Sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 12 doughnuts plus holes.

Spiced Sugar
1/2
cup sugar
2 
teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a small bowl, stir together sugar, ground cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg. Dust donuts in sugar and enjoy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hello World!


Welcome to SavoryandSweetEats! I hope you find my blog both entertaining and useful for easy and delicious recipe ideas. I absolutely love to cook and I’m convinced I got this gene from my grandmother. She was Lebanese and boy did she know how to cook. I can’t remember a time from when I was young that we didn’t arrive to her house and we weren’t welcomed by food.

I’ve never blogged before, and don’t consider myself a “writer” but I LOVE to cook, bake and eat! I think I knew my “love” of cooking and baking was quickly becoming an obsession when I looked through my camera and found more pictures of the food and treats I was making than the people I was making them for!

The first few posts I’ve put up are recipes and photos of things I’ve made over the past year or so. Basically, that’s my disclaimer for the quality of photos as well as the timing of the posts. Who writes about Christmas presents in April? Well I do. Or, I should say I do, when I decided a year after becoming obsessed with cooking, baking and photographing all kinds of food for the past year to start a blog.

For now, welcome to my blog SavoryandSweetEats!