Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon these yummy cupcakes, but as soon as I saw them I HAD to make them. Um, a cookie dough ball in the centre of a moist vanilla cupcake...my idea of pure heaven! The original idea came from sugar on top, I used her icing recipe, my own cupcake recipe and the cookie dough recipe from Alton Brown.

Be warned, there is raw egg in the cookie dough so if that worries you this cupcake is not for you... and you are totally missing out.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes (Cake)

1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter
2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeded (optional, vanilla beans are a great touch but not necessary if you don't have any)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 c.milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.
4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
5. Split vanilla bean length-wise and scrape seeds out with a knife and add to batter.
5. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
6. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth.
7. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Note: It is very important to whip the batter between each step for an extended amount of time. This will create a nice fluffy batter and cake.

Cookie Dough

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips


1. Melt butter.
2. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.
3. Pour butter and sugars into mixer bowl and beat on medium speed.
4. Add egg, yolk, milk, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
5. Slowly add flour until thoroughly combined.
6. Stir in chocolate chips.
7. Scoop dough with a small scoop (about an inch in diameter).

If you're planning on making actual cookies, scoop with a larger scoop and bake at 375 for about 14 minutes. Cool on sheet for a few minutes.

8. Roll into little balls and place on cookie sheet.
9. Freeze for 1 hour or more.


2 sticks butter, soft
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 c. heavy cream


1. Cream butter and sugar on low.
2. Once blended, add vanilla, salt and cream and whip for 5 minutes.

To assemble cupcake:

1. Fill cupcake liner with batter.
2. Place frozen dough ball on top, do NOT press down.
3. Bake. As batter cooks it will rise up and surround dough ball.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fresh Baked Bread from the Oven

I have always wanted to try baking bread. Neither of the G-mas ever did it so I had no point of reference on how to go about doing it, but I wasn't about to let that stop me. So I took my first attempt at bread yesterday. I found a simple looking recipe online for a Farmer's Loaf (my favourite kind at the local bakery) and I set to proofing the yeast and cutting in the butter etc... I ended up with a very crumbly dough that wouldn't hold together and wasn't kneading properly. Having no idea if this was normal, but suspecting it wasnt't, I decided that I'd come this far I might as well bake it and see what happens. It was AWFUL. Misshapen, hard, lumpy, and tasted so bitter and yeasty it left a sour taste in my mouth for hours after. So into the bin it went.

This morning I woke up with the resolve that I wasn't going to let a wee bit of dough defeat me. So I got online and found a recipe for Amish bread. How hard can that be? It's Amish, if they can make it by hand and bake it in a wood fed oven I surely can make it with my KitchenAid mixer and fancy oven.

The results were heavenly! Nice chewy crust and a soft moist inside. And it was very simple to make. It takes 5.5 hours from start to finish so if you're thinking of hot fresh bread for breakfast you might want to make the dough the night before and refrigerate it and let it rise in the morning and bake it off.

The recipe makes 2 loaves, but I decided to make 1 loaf and divided the second loaf into eight pieces and made mini-loaves.

Amish Bread taken from recipezaar.com

1/4 oz dry active yeast (1 pkg)
1/4 c. water, 100 degrees Fahrenheit
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp salt
2 1/4 c.water
2 1/2 tbsp shortening
6-7 c. all-purpose flour
1/8-1/4 c. butter

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tsp of sugar (taken from the 1/3 c.) until foamy and doubled in volume, about 10 minutes.
2. In large bowl, combine sugar, salt, 2 cups water and shortening.
3. Stir in yeast mixture.

4. Gradually add flour to form a soft dough.
5. Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth.
6. Place in a greased bowl and cover and let rise for about 2 hours.
7. Punch down and divide into 2 portions and form loaves.
8. Place in greased 9 x 5 loaf pans and prick tops with fork.
10. Let rise until higher than pans (about 2 hours).
11. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

12. Cool for 10 minutes
13. Rub butter all over tops of loaves. Place pans on sides until loosened. Remove bread from pans and cool completely on racks.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cheesy Bacon Scalloped Potatoes

Barbecue season is upon us and there's nothing I love more with a nice juicy steak than potatoes. Especially these ones. Full of cheese and bacon and cream this is comfort food at it's best. I've been playing around with this "recipe" (and I use that term lightly cause I really just guesstimate everything) for a while now. I think I have finally perfected it so that it's creamy without being soupy and the cheese, bacon and potatoes are all balanced. Hope you try it and let me know what you think!

Cheesy Bacon Scalloped Potatoes

3 lg. russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 c. (approximately) Cream (Heavy/Whipping or Half and Half work well)
3 tbsp Butter
1 c. Grated Cheddar (I use light marble)
6 Slices of Bacon cooked crisp, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Slice enough potatoes to fill your dish (I needed 3 huge ones for a small corning ware dish)
2. Spray your dish with Pam or rub with a bit of butter and then put down a layer of potato slices.
3. Pour a bit of cream over and then put another layer of potatoes down.
4. Put little dots of butter and then another layer of potatoes and then more cream. Salt and pepper every 2nd layer.
5. Continue doing a layer of potatoes and cream and then potatoes and butter. Every 3rd or 4th layer sprinkle with cheese and bacon.
6. Top with remaining cheese and bacon and some more butter and then cover and bake at 350 degrees for an hour or more depending on how big your dish is.
7. Garnish with diced scallions, or sour cream, or both!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Bumble Bees

Nothing says springtime like bumble bees buzzing all around, bringing the flowers back to life. And nothing says tasty like these little peanut butter and graham crumb bees. I had these years ago when my cousin made them for a daycare she was working at and I always remembered them. A little digging and I found the recipe at Kraft's website.

My husband has brought a whole bunch of them in to work to share, I'm looking forward to the empty containers coming back!

Peanut Butter Bumble Bees

1 c. Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter
1/4 c. butter
1 c. icing sugar
1 1/2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs (about 25 squares crushed)
1 square Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
1/2 c. sliced almonds

1. Combine peanut butter, butter and sugar in a bowl.
2. Fold in graham crumbs and mix well.
3. Shape into 1 inch ovals.
4. put melted chocolate into a small ziploc bag and snip the corner off and drizzle chocolate over the tops of the bees.
5. Insert almond slices on side to form wings.

Creamed Corn

This is not that gloopy, fluorescent yellow, runny stuff from the can. This is REAL creamed corn, good ol' down home cookin'. I got this recipe from Chef Chuck Hughes, star of Food Network's Chuck's Day Off. I altered it slightly to make it a bit more calorie friendly.... but just a bit cause without all the creamy goodness it just isn't the same.

Creamed Corn
Chuck Hughes

3 Cobs of Corn, niblets cut off, (or 1 cup of frozen corn defrosted)
1/2 c. 35% Cream
1/2 c. Half & Half
1 tbsp butter
A pinch of coarse salt
A grinding of cracked black pepper

1. Husk corn and remove niblets from cob with a sharp knife.
2. Put into a saucepan and cover with cream and half & half.
3. Boil on medium heat until the kernels are soft and the liquid becomes thick and is reduced by half. About 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and add butter and salt & pepper to taste.

Serve alongside your favourite country-fare!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quinoa with Mushrooms, Spinach, Peppers and Red Wine

I've started experimenting with Quinoa. If you've never heard of Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) before here's a little something about it. Quinoa is a grain, not unlike couscous or rice. It was one of the 3 main staples of the ancient Inca civilization (along with corn and potatoes). Quinoa is a super food, it has more protein per ounce than red meat and it has a near-perfect amino acid balance. It also is a good source of fibre, complex carbohydrates, calcium, iron and vitamins B and E. It is gluten free, easily digested and very versatile. And lastly Quinoa has been included on every space shuttle mission since the 60s due to it's nutritional benefits.

Last night was my first attempt at cooking with Quinoa. My husband (read: Guinea Pig) liked the taste of this dish but has some issues with the texture. I'm sure a few more tries and he'll come around!

Quinoa with Mushrooms, Spinach, Peppers and Red Wine

1 c. Organic Quinoa (Quinoa must be rinsed for 3 minutes under warm water before cooking. )
2 c. Water (you could substitute chicken or vegetable broth)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/4 med. red pepper, diced
1/4 yellow pepper, diced
1/4 medium orange pepper, diced
1 c. quartered mushrooms
1 c. fresh baby spinach, chiffonaded (cut in thin strips)
1 garlic clove
1/4 c. red wine (you could also use white, red is what I had on hand)
1 tsp. Club House Vegetable seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse Quinoa.
2. In a rice cooker or pot add Quinoa, water, garlic powder and salt and cook until all water is absorbed and Quinoa is soft.
3. While the quinoa is cooking, sautée onion, peppers, garlic, spinach and mushrooms in olive oil.
4. Add Vegetable seasoning and salt and pepper.
5. Add wine and cook on med-low until veggies are tender and liquid is reduced by half.
6. Add cooked Quinoa and mix. Remove from heat and serve.

Monday, April 13, 2009

S'mores Indoors!

I was out walking with the girls today and I could smell someone burning leaves and brush and it made me think of bonfires and how much I love S'mores. So off I headed home to make some!

There could very well be a recipe for something like these somewhere out in cyber-space but I decided to create my own and the result was very yummy! It's a take on Rice Krispie treats:

S'mores Indoors

40 marshmallows (1 bag)
3 tbps butter
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups Golden Grahams Cereal
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips
250g bag of dark chocolate chips

1. Melt 2 tbps butter in a saucepan on medium heat.
2. Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
3. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
4. Add cereal and mini chips and stir until combined.
5. Pour into greased 8"x14" pan and using your hands press into the dish. (If you wet your hands slightly this works better.)
6. Put dark chocolate chips and remaining tbsp of butter into a bowl and microwave until melted.
7. Spread melted chocolate over top of cereal mixture and smooth out covering the cereal.
8. Refrigerate until set.