My Crazy Cocina Caliente!!

Just a crazy little latina, stirring up trouble in the cocina!

Cupcakes & Lemon! July 30, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Cupcakes — Vanessita! @ 11:13 pm
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Sorry Sorry Sorry!!! I know it’s been about a week since I’ve updated my blog but we’ve been very very busy!!!  Busy both with our families and busy in the kitchen, which means lots of blog updates soon to come!!

Last Thursday I tried 2 new cupcake recipes from my “125 best Cupcake recipes” book (given to me by my WC exchange nestie!!!).  I had recently stocked up on lemon so I decided to make Lemon Yogurt cupcakes and Pink Lemonade cupcakes.
I will warn you ahead of time: The Lemon Yogurt cupcakes are now near the top of my all-time favorite cake flavors- I just can’t express how YUMMY these cupcakes are.  I received SOOOOO many compliments from my co-workers.  In the exact words of my co-worker Andrew: “mmmmmmmmm”, haha – which my manager replied with “I totally agree!” 🙂  (and that means a lot because my manager is SOOOOO not a sweets person).

Cupcake1.1

Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes
From: 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, Julie Hasson (p. 55)

Makes 12 cupcakes
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 1/4 Cup AP Flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted & cooled) (1 stick)
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat)
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon oil or lemon extract (I used extract)

1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, butter and egg until smooth.  Add yogurt, lemon zest and juice, and lemon oil, beating until smooth.  Add flour mixture, beating just until smooth.  (I did this in my stand mixer)
3. Scoop batter into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.  Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

I topped these cupcakes with my own lemon-cream cheese frosting:

1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick)
1/2 block of cream cheese
Powdered Sugar
Lemon Juice

In a stand mixer mix the butter & cream cheese until smooth (at room temp).
Start adding powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want (I went for a stiffer consistency).
Add in about 1 tsp. of lemon juice, mix well.
If it becomes too liquidy, add some more powdered sugar.

Now, I had been looking forward to making these pink lemonade cupcakes for a LONG time.  Sadly they weren’t everything I was expecting them to be.  My co-workers did like them but told me they were a little too tart and perhaps too dense. 😦 boo.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
From: 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, Julie Hasson (p. 107)

Makes 10 cupcakes
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Pinch Salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup veggie oil
2 egg whites
1/3 cup thawed frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 to 3 drops of red food coloring (I used pink Wilton icing gel)

1. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg whites and lemonade concentrate.  Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of the flour and two of buttermilk, beating just until smooth.  Add just enough food coloring to turn the batter a light pink shade.
3. Scoop batter into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.  Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

I topped these with a Pink Lemonade Buttercream I found on IheartCuppyCakes.

Lemon Buttercream
From: I Heart Cuppycakes

3 cups + 3 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Red food color (I used Wilton pink gel)

Add the butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt and lemon juice to the stand mixer and mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined.

Add pink food coloring and mix until frosting is uniformly pink.

While the pink lemonade cupcakes weren’t my favorite- I’m glad I decided to try a few new recipes.  I would have never thought of baking with yogurt and I was very nervous when I first read the recipe- but man o man is it delicious! Super moist and flavorful- the icing was just the perfect addition as well.  I WILL be making those again! 🙂

 

Yum Yum Steak!!! July 23, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Steak — Vanessita! @ 12:24 pm
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I have a confession for you guys today: I do not own a real grill.

Wait, it gets better.

I’ve really never ever grilled in my entire life.

I know, sad isn’t it?!

Growing up my parents never owned a grill- and when they finally bought one I was about to move out and my brother took possession of it and didn’t let any of us touch it.

Hubs and I have a George Foreman grill- I love since it cooks things really quick but its such a pain to clean!!!  We actually take turns now- he washes it one time and I’ll wash it the next.  It’s such a pain since we can’t remove the grill plates (on our model).
So lately I’ve been making everything in a skillet… and boy do I love it.  The skillet provides super easy clean-up… only one pan to clean- we don’t even have to fight over whose turn it is to clean because it’s such a small task neither of us minds.

So for the past few months I’ve “grilled” all my chicken, steaks, burgers, EVERYTHING on a skillet.  When I came across this recipe on the WC board I knew I had to try it.  The title really caught my attention “Best Steak Ever”… oh really? That’s a bold claim- and man, it sure was one MIGHTY tasty steak.

This is also an easy recipe to make.  It did take a quick trip to the grocery store since I don’t normally buy shallots (green onions) but since I had some wine on hand (thanks Judy!) I figured it was worth a try.

Steak1.1

The Best Steak Ever
From: What Recipe (Thanks Catherine!)

1 tbsp oil
1 sirloin steak, seasoned with your favorite combination
1 large shallot, minced I love the taste of shallots so I added 2 🙂
3/4 cup beef broth I added an extra splash, just because I felt like it.
1/4 cup red wine I also added an extra splash of this- hey, the steak was calling for it! Don’t judge me! 🙂
1 tbsp butter

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and heat thru. Add steak and sautee 4 minutes each side or until medium. Remove from skillet, place on a plate and tent with tinfoil and keep warm.

Add shallots to pan and sautee for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine beef broth and red wine and add to pan. Reduce by half. Add in drippings from steak and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add in butter, stirring until melted and combined. Remove from heat.

So, that’s it!
Super easy and SOOOO tasty!

Next time you’re in the mood for steak and you don’t want to haul the grill out or mess with the cleaning- I highly recommend this recipe!

 

My First Fondant Cake!!! July 21, 2009

Filed under: Baking — Vanessita! @ 10:58 pm
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Yesterday I took you on a journey- first stop: making fondant, second stop: baking up the delicious Dulce de Leche cake.
Now we’ve reached the last leg of this fondant-baking-decorating journey.

Finished3

Sunday afternoon I spent nearly 4 hours baking and decorating… I was really motivated to try and make a cute cake using the fondant I had made the day before.

Step 1: Get your apron on, it’s time for the baking to begin!!!

Apron

Isn’t it cute?! I bought this off FlirtyAprons.com

Once the cakes were baked and out of the oven cooling, I started to work with my fondant once again.  Remember- I made the fondant the day before.  It’s recommended that you let the fondant sit overnight before using it.
I started by covering my work station with corn starch and kneading in some more Crisco to the fondant (it seems a little dry)…  After kneading it for a few minutes I got it to the perfect consistency.  I shaped the fondant into a small flat circle and started to roll it out using my rolling pin.

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After rolling the fondant out to the right size/shape… I rolled it up on my rolling pin and put it over the cake.
Then using my fondant smoother I smoothed down the top and worked my way down, making sure the fondant stuck to the cake and that there were no visible air bubbles.

Once the fondant looked like it was on right, I used a sharp knife to cut off the excess fondant.  I quickly double wrapped it in saran wrap.  If the fondant is stored right you can use it again and it lasts quite some time.

Fondant2

Then it was time to decorate the cake.

First I rolled out my blue fondant and using my Wilton Ribbon Cutter tool, I cut a wavy ribbon to put along the bottom of the cake.  Dabbing my finger in water and moistening the back of the fondant I was able to “glue” the fondant ribbon to the cake.

After I had the ribbon on I went back to the blue fondant and started to cut out various circles using my Wilton Fondant Cutters (circle shape pack).  Once I had enough blue circles, I balled up my fondant and wrapped it up.

Time to bring out the purple!
Again, I rolled out the fondant and cut out various circles in different sizes.  I let the circles sit for a bit so they’d get hard and be easier to work with.  (Be sure to put away your extra fondant so it doesn’t dry out!!!)

After waiting for the circles to get a bit harder I brought them over to the cake.  Using water as my glue, I dabbed a little water on the back of each circle and laid them on the cake.  Be sure you know where you want to lay the decorations before you plop them on your cake.  If the back is too wet and you drop the decoration on the wrong spot the color may spread onto your white fondant base.  BAD!!!  So be sure to not wet your decorations too much and to be sure where you want to place the decorations first.

After I had laid enough circles on my cake I let it sit out so the decorations would harden onto the cake.  I have to say, for it being my first time ever dealing with fondant it looks pretty good!

Finished1

While working with fondant in general is easy- it is time consuming.  Between making my own fondant and rolling out each batch, it took a toll on my upper arms.  Be sure you aren’t in a rush when working with fondant!

Finished2

So- what do you think?!?!

I’m excited and I can’t wait to work with fondant again.  I’ve already got some ideas in mind. 🙂

P.S.: Here’s a pic of the mess I made 🙂 I thank God for such a wonderful hubbie who helped clean it up.  He said: “If the cake would have tasted bad I wouldn’t be helping you clean up this mess!” hahaha!!!!

Mess

 

Dulce de… DELICIOSO!! July 20, 2009

Filed under: Baking — Vanessita! @ 9:43 pm
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After working on my fondant the night before I decided I needed a cake to decorate it with.
I had bought a can of dulce de leche a few weeks ago and knew this was finally the right time to use it.

After a little googling I found a great recipe on YumSugar.com- although the original recipe called for making your own dulce de leche, I thought I’d skip that and make the delicious cake and buttercream also mentioned in the post.
Let me start by saying the cake is absolutely delicious!!!!!! If you’re looking for a great, moist-but-light cake- I would highly recommend this recipe.  This is something I will be making again! 🙂

Original Recipe

Ingredients:

Ingredients

***Please Ignore the Baking Soda, he snuck into the pic!!!**

For the cake:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup milk
5 egg whites, at room temperature

For the frostingSince I only needed the buttercream to act like a crumb coating, I halved this recipe.
12 tbsp. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 package (16 oz.) confectioners sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
sliced almonds, optional for garnish

Make the Cake:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter and flour two round cake pans each 9 inches in diameter and 1-1/2 inches deep.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light.
  4. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and, dividing the flour mixture into three batches, beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the milk just until combined.
  6. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with clean, dry beaters and set on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten whites into the batter just until incorporated. Divide the batter between the prepared pans; smooth with the spatula.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the pan sides to loosen the cakes. Invert onto racks and let cool completely.

Mixer2

Make the Frosting:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until nut-brown in color, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add confectioners sugar, vanilla, salt, and butter. With the mixer on low, slowly add cream; beat until smooth. If frosting seems too thick, stir another tablespoon cream into the mixture.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Carefully slice each of the two cooled cakes in half to make four layers. Set one layer on the cake plate. Generously spread about 1/3 cup of the dulce de leche on top. Top with another cake layer and spread with another 1/3 cup of the dulce de leche. Repeat with another cake layer and top with the final forth cake layer. Set dulce de leche aside.
  2. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting. If using the sliced almonds, press into the sides of the cake. Drizzle with remaining dulce de leche. Refrigerate until serving.  I omitted the almonds.

Wanna see how it turned out?
Stay tuned for part 3 🙂

 

Homemade Marshmallow Fondant

Filed under: Baking — Vanessita! @ 9:18 pm

I have been wanting to work with fondant for quite some time.  After seeing all the gorgeous cakes created on the Food Network and on shows like the Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss, I wanted to just TRY to make something half as nice.
Now- I know I’m no where even CLOSE to their level of creativity and perfection- but practice makes perfect, right?

I started off by making my own fondant.

photo_picnik

I used THIS recipe and probably half a stick of Crisco.  Believe me, I never thought I’d be working with Crisco- but it was a great tool.  Greasy, but it really did the trick to keeping the fondant off my countertop and off my hands.
The fondant itself wasn’t difficult to make but it is VERY time consuming.  It probably took me over an hour to make my batch plus color two small pieces of it.

 

Ingredients:

16 oz white marshmallows  (I used the large marshmallows)
2 tb water
2 lb icing sugar (approx. 8 cups confectioners’ or powdered sugar)
(DO NOT USE ALL OF THE SUGAR)

Directions: This is where it gets messy! Be sure to grease up your spoon and bowls, but be sure to have everything out before you grease up your hands! haha.

1. Melt marshmallows and water in a double boiler or microwave.
Heat until melted.

2. Place half of the sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the middle.
Pour melted marshmallow in and mix.

3. Add remaining sugar and continue kneading. (add more powedered sugar in tablespoons as you are kneading. Micture should not be sticky)

TIPS
—grease your hands and the bowl.
Also, let this stuff rest overnight.
It will be pretty stiff when you try to knead it again, but it can be microwaved for five to ten seconds (start off with 5) and it will soften right up and be perfect for rolling out and playing with.

Discard all the crusty residues.

To Use:

If fondant is too hard, place about 30 sec. in microwave. Dust work table with cornstarch, and knead for a couple of minutes.
Then roll as thin as you want with rolling pin dusted in cornstarch. To avoid it from stickin to your work surface, turn rolled dough frequently, and continue dusting with cornstarch until you have reached desired thinnes.
To color: Separate small amounts of fondant & color with paste food colours to the desired tone. Knead until colour is smooth and completely uniform.
This fondant does not set fast at all. When you have formed your flowers, set them on a curved surface so they don’t loose their shape (hang them upside down) It will not be as perfect as Gum Paste, but it will work. Also, start making flowers at least two days in advance to allow them to set.

Additions
add 2oz melted vanilla candy melts. I added about a teaspoon of vanilla extract

My Notes:
The kneading too FOREVER!!! I kept adding Crisco because I had a lot of tearing.  When I was finally done I double wrapped each color very tightly, but first put a thin layer of Crisco over each bundle.  Wrap it up and let it sit overnight!!

It was very fulfilling to make my own fondant and wasn’t as scary as I thought.  I really recommend making your own fondant- it tastes SO much better than any other fondant I’ve ever had.

 

Gorgonzola Turkey Burgers! July 16, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Turkey — Vanessita! @ 7:42 pm

Yep…we’re on a roll with ground turkey 🙂  And even more cheese!

Here’s another delicious and nutritious turkey burger recipe that includes one of my favorite foods: Gorgonzola cheese.  YUMMM!!!!  I may love cheese but I think Gorgonzola is my favorite, such pungent flavor, it’s delicioso!!!!  So when I found this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.  The original recipe called for making mini-patties but I made regular sized patties instead.

Gorgonzola Turkey Burgers:
Adapted from: Here

Ingredients

  • 1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4  pounds  ground turkey breast
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4  cup  reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2  tablespoons  minced sweet gherkin pickle (about 2 small)  We skipped this
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 12  (1-ounce) dinner rolls We used regular burger buns
  • 6  curly leaf lettuce leaves, torn in half
  • I added an egg white to help keep the patties together (had a bad experience last time, haha)

Burgers1 

Preparation

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add cheese, stirring with a fork just until combined. *I added the egg in here Divide turkey mixture into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 4 patties; cook patties until they’re no longer pink & fully cooked (doesn’t take long at all).

Combine mayonnaise, pickle, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Cut rolls in half horizontally. Spread about 1 teaspoon mayonnaise mixture on bottom half of each roll; top each with 1 turkey patty and 1 piece lettuce. Cover with tops of rolls. Serve immediately.

Burgers2

I also whipped up a small batch of lemon yogurt sauce.  2 tablespoons of non-fat plain yogurt, about 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice and a little pepper.  I used this as my “mayo” and also topped my burger with a slice of avocado. YUM!

We paired this with some oven baked french fries and it was one delicious meal!!!  It’s in our rotation and I do plan on making them again.

Burgers3

My score?  Probably a 4!

 

Happy 4th…just a few days late! July 13, 2009

Filed under: Appetizers,Baking — Vanessita! @ 12:59 pm

In true Vanessa fashion- this post is very late.

Those of you who know me personally know I usually tend to run a little late when it comes to getting places.  Whether its traffic or wardrobe problems, something usually happens.  Hubs and I are teased that we’re always the last ones to arrive to group get togethers. lol.  But I promise, I’m working on changing that bad habit!  I even made it to 2 weddings on time! And to the 2nd we were the first guests there! haha.

So here it is, my Fourth of July post, just 9 days late 🙂 Sue me.

We spent the morning with my family at their new Ranch 🙂  My parents recently bought a house with five-acres.  The house is about 45 minutes from our place so I don’t get to see them often.  This was probably the first time I had seen them in about two weeks (versus a few times a week when they lived close by).

My mom asked me to bring a new appetizers and specifically requested the chili dip I had made for an event before.
This stuff is like crack- super addicting! (Not that I would know! PINKY SWEAR!)  But seriously- it’s addicting and so delicious.

ChiliDip2My sincere apologizes for the semi-fugly picture!

Chili Cheese Dip (From Joelen’s Culinary Adventures)

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened I doubled the recipe, used 2 packages of cheese
1 (15 ounce) can chili Used 2 cans of chili
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese I used a Colby-Jack blend
1 tomato, chopped & seeded Skipped this step
chopped chives for garnish

Combine all the ingredients above except for chives and mix thoroughly.
Place in baking dish and bake for 20-23 minutes until warmed and bubbly OR place in mini crockpot to keep warm.
Garnish with chives.

It’s so good!!! Please put this on your list for your next party… I promise it’ll be a hit!!!

I also whipped up some Spinach & Artichoke dip that I baked inside of won-top cups.
This is sort of a made-up recipe adapted from several types of dips I’ve made in the past.

WontonCups1

Spinach & Artichoke Dip:

1- 11oz pack of Frozen Spinach (Thawed, drained, and patted dry)
1 can of artichoke hearts (I buy the quartered kind)
1 brick of cream cheese
1 cup sour creamAs much shredded cheese as your heart desires (I probably added a good cup, cup and a half)*
1 package of won-top wrappers (My grocery store only had the square kind)
Set aside from extra cheese for topping
Salt & Pepper to taste

*You can add the cheese of your choice.  I normally use mozzarella or Parmesan, one time I even added Asiago!… but use whatever floats your boat.

In a large bowl I add the spinach and the chopped up artichoke hearts (I chop mine up pretty small).
Then add in the sour cream, shredded cheese, and the softened cream cheese.
Mix until all the cheeses are blended into the greens.

I then put the mix into a baking dish and bake it up until the cheese is well melted (About 20 minutes).

While the dish is baking I take the won ton wrappers and form them into cups by putting them into my (well-greased!) cupcake pan.

Once the dip is nice and melty- I add it to the won ton cups.  Then I stick the cupcake pans back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the cups are nice and crispy.  Before I remove them from the oven I sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of each cup and let it melt.

Serve them up warm- it tastes so much better when the cheese is nice and gooey!

Lastly, I baked up a cake- a VERY patriotic cake.  I’ve got to say I’m proud of this one.
I saw this cake originally on 17 & Baking (check her out, she’s awesome!)… I took her idea and ran with it.
I won’t list the recipes I used for the cakes here, but I made 1-red velvet 8″ cake, and 2-white/vanilla 8″ cakes (one colored blue).

fourthcake1.1

Flag Cake:

3 cakes: 1 red, 1 blue, 1 white (kind of obvious huh?)
Enough Frosting to cover this bad boy PLUS enough to ice the various layers.

Feel free to check out 17 & Baking for the details instructions.  Here’s a short run-down of what I did.

  • Cut the red & white cakes in half using a cake leveler
  • Cut out the center of the blue cake leaving a ring (you won’t need the inside)
  • Cut out the centers of 1 red and 1 white half
  • Stack the first two colors (the still in tact white & red layers).  Make sure to frost between each layer.
  • Stack on the blue ring (icing both the top and insides)
  • Inside the blue ring stack the white & red cake cutouts.
  • Frost the entire cake- and viola!

FourthCake3.1

I used a classic cream cheese frosting:

1 brick of softened cream cheese
1 stick of softened butter
2 cups+ of powdered sugar
A splash of vanilla extract

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Blend the cream cheese & butter in a stand mixer until well blended.
Little by little add the powdered sugar until it reaches the right consistency (may take more than 2 cups!)
Add a splash of vanilla extract, and mix until its all blended in.

FourthCake4.1

I hope you enjoyed your Fourth!!!