Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time for Key Lime

A few weeks ago The Pioneer Woman tweeted something about Key Lime Cupcakes in Salt Lake City and I thought the idea was brilliant.  The odd thing is that I don't think I have ever had true key lime pie.  I just really like the idea of it.  Over Christmas I made a quick version key lime pie I found in a magazine, but it was not very good and I decided it was too much of a failure to share.  It did not ruin my desire for key lime and I am glad for that.    
Immediately after reading this tweet, I jumped online and into my 500 Cupcakes cookbook for recipes.  I found many that were like the one I am going to share with you and others had actual key lime cream filling with meringue for frosting.  I thought about combining these recipes to some degree by mixing different cakes with the different frostings, but in the end I decided to stick with the recipe I found on Bon Appetit.  I was feeling lazy and didn't want to deal with a six step process to make cupcakes.  I will someday, just not now. 

These are delicious and I had enough batter to make 18 cupcakes instead of 12 like the recipe said.  They didn't rise very much, but maybe they were not suppose to, I'm not sure and I can't really tell from their picture if theirs did or not. It took me forever to actually bake these because I kept missing one thing or another and I kept missing the fact that the butter and cream cheese need to be at room temperature.  I also added coconut to the tops of half of them.  I think it was a good addition.
Cupcake Ingredients 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon neon-green food coloring
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk


  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted utter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Coconut if desired 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Whisk both flours in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then next 3 ingredients (batter may look curdled). Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Spoon scant 1/3 cup batter into each liner.
  2. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool.
  3. FROSTING: Beat all ingredients except coconut in medium bowl until smooth. Spread over cupcakes. Spinkle coconut on top. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli

I hate winter. Lemons are acting as my sunshine replacement lately...and I've been incorporating them into everything. Keeping with that theme, I was inspired to make one of my favorite warm weather dishes recently. Crab cakes make me remember how lovely summertime can be and help me cling to hope that it will soon return. I've got my fingers crossed and sandals at the ready.

Crab Cakes (adaptations from Healthy Appetite and Big Girls, Small Kitchen)

16 oz crab meat (I found this in a can but I'm sure it would be better fresh)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
fresh parsley, chopped
scallions/green onions, chopped finely
lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
few dashes cayenne pepper or seafood seasoning (like Old Bay)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Form into 2 inch diameter patties (or whatever cake size you desire). Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a skillet. Brown each side of the crab cakes.

Lemon Aioli (adapted from the Neely's recipe)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons lemon juice
lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dill
salt and pepper

Wisk all the ingredients together. Serve cold as a garnish for your crab cakes.

Pair with an ice cold Corona (+ lime) or some other quintessentially warm weather drink. Summer here we come!

Shrimp and Grits

I am claiming to be from Alabama these days even though I was born and spent most of my formative years in Virginia--hence no accent and the inability to work "y'all" into a sentence. Therefore, I'm relatively new to these things called grits. They always seemed like a big pile of mush, so I never really had any interest in them...until this recipe changed my life, that is. Luckily, it is a pretty involved process or I might make them all the time and be morbidly obese (like 50% of the South...see a pattern?). It's much more successful as a two person job, especially when someone else does 90% of the work. Thanks, Kurt!


They don't look very impressive on a plate but are amazing.

Anniversary Grits (from "Glorious Grit's: America's Favorite Comfort Food" by Susan McEwen McIntosh)
Yields 8 to 10 servings

  • 8 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups uncooked stone-ground grits
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese (or similar, we used Jarlsberg because it was cheaper)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (x3 for Kurt)
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage (optional), sliced (we left this out to make it pescatarian friendly)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2-1/4 cup less-sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (use milk for a lighter version, you won't miss the cream at all)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 3 pounds large raw (we used cooked) shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Combine milk and salt in large, heavy saucepan; cook over medium-high heat just until mixture starts to boil. (Be careful not to let milk boil out of the pan as it comes to a boil--it can do so quickly.) Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until thick, stirring often. Remove from heat, and add cheese, butter, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts; cover and keep warm.

While grits are cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add bell pepper, onion, garlic, and sauté 2 minutes to soften. Add sausage, and cook 6 to 7 minutes or until browned, stirring often. Add wine, and cook until almost all liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle flour over mixture in skillet, and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (Flour will start to brown.) Gradually whisk in chicken broth and cream; add bay leaves and Creole seasoning. Bring mixture to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, 7 minutes or until thick, stirring often. (Mixture may be cooked to this point, and then covered and kept warm until serving time.)

Just before serving, add shrimp to hot sauce, and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink (or warm through), stirring often. Remove and discard bay leaves, and stir in parsley. Spoon shrimp and sauce over grits and serve immediately.

Be careful! They're so good, it's addicting!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beef and Corn Quesadillas

I have had a meeting after work every night this week except last night.  I wanted to make something that did not require pulling it from a plastic bag and putting it in the microwave.  The problem is that I did not think ahead at all and did not want to leave my apartment once I was in it, so whatever the recipe was, I had to have all the ingredients.  I pulled out the cookbooks and binder of recipes in search of something.
I kept finding things that I could make minus one ingredient that was not that random, I just didn't have them on hand, like peanuts. I ended up flipping through my latest Real Simple and finding a recipe for Beef Quesadillas. I didn't have all the ingredients, but it gave me some inspiration for my own recipe.  I mixed up some of the veggies I had on hand and needed to use before they went bad and added extra spices.  They turned out to be really good and I have enough for lunch tomorrow.  I think the measurements below are close to what I mixed in, but I didn't measure anything.

 Beef and Corn Quesadillas
  • 1/4 Red Onion, diced
  • 1/4 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 Box (about 5 oz) Frozen Corn
  • 12 oz Ground Beef
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt & Black Pepper
  • Mike's Dried Chili Mix 
  • lots of Cheese
  • Taco Shells
  1. Warm about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and add onion, pepper and corn.  Mix over medium heat for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the beef, about a 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 tsp chili mix. Cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes more. 
  3. In a clean skillet warm about a 1/2 tablespoon of oil on medium low heat. Toss in a taco shell and spin it around to oil one side, then flip it over to oil the other.  Allow one side of the sides to slightly brown.  
  4. Flip over the shell and add in about a 1 cup of the beef mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese on half of the shell.  Fold the other half of the shell over. Allow the shell to brown on one side before carefully flipping it over to brown the other. Once the cheese is melted remove it from the pan and cut into quarters. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This is Amazing! Spaghetti Carbonara

 This is so good! How did I not know about it? I mean I guess I knew about it, I just never tried it. It was so easy and quick and tasty, I had to share it. It came from my Martha Stewart Great Food Fast cookbook. I didn't take any pictures cause I didn't plan on posting this up, sorry.
  • 8 ounces bacon (8 slices), cut 1-inch thick crosswise
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil (for the pasta). In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  2. Salt the boiling water generously; add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package instructions.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, and half-and-half. Set aside.
  4. Drain the pasta, leaving some water clinging to it. Working quickly, add the hot pasta to the egg mixture. Add the bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss all to combine (the heat from the pasta will cook the eggs). Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese. 
  5. Enjoy!  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The End of Slump: Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

I have been in a bit of a slump.  Maybe it's the weather, but I love all the snow, I want more.  Maybe it's real work or the fact that I haven't been out on my bike in months and the tires are flat as it hangs in my room or maybe it's the upcoming holidays.  Whatever it is, I have been totally uninspired to bake, cook, or many other things that need to be done.  I mean, it's not that I wanted to eat pot stickers twice last week, I just didn't feel like even thinking about making something I that didn't come out a bag.  Saturday night I was so uninspired and didn't want to eat another veggie burger, so I went next door to my friendly (sometimes) neighbors and asked what he was feeding me.  I was very lucky cause Kurt and Mel were making up some squash risotto. I felt I had to make something worthy this week, so while waiting for dinner to be finished, I went to find something yummy to make myself and found Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce.  

This recipe is pretty simple and made much more than four servings.  It was Sunday dinner and payback to Mel and Kurt for Saturday, and lunch for two days. Since I bought a whole rotisserie chicken and shredded the whole thing, I had extra for another meal.  (The other half I mixed with some ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and honey for bbq sandwiches tonight.)  It was really good, but I think it would have been better if the pumpkin sauce was made with some milk or half and half instead of water, but maybe I am just crazy.  Thoughts anyone and if you agree any idea how much you would change the recipe? 
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken with the skin removed, meat shredded
  • 7 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground chilies (my brothers special mix)
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine chicken and scallions. Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a blender, puree pumpkin, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full). Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish.
  3. Lay tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in baking dish.
  4. Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  5. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
  6. Enjoy!