> I never bake. Ever. It is probably for the best, as both of us are diabetic but sometimes you need a little extra sweet in your life.
Cupcakes are super trendy right now (and I’m not one for trends), but for a novice/lazy baker like me they do have their advantages – I don’t have a cake plate, I’ve never been able to get a cake to look pretty, and they already come portioned out for you.
I made a yellow box cake mix with chocolate frosting. They turned out super light and the cupcake was good even without the frosting, not that I’d eat them that way! After I was done, I thought about making cupcakes from scratch next time. I’m not sure I’m ambitious enough to try the strawberry mint cupcakes pictured above, but here are some that I’m thinking about trying.
At a work potluck I had a pink lemonade cupcake and it was probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. The cakes were lemon filled with lemon custard and topped with lemon flavored icing colored with a little food coloring. I have found a recipe using regular boxed cake mix and pink lemonade concentrate. I love love love lemon and can’t wait for a reason to make these.
Who doesn’t love red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting? Hell, I’d eat a frog if it was topped with cream cheese frosting. Not sure how I feel about a raspberry topper, but I can get behind the nuts. Looks perfect for a Valentine’s Day surprise for my honey.
This is a pineapple cupcake with pineapple cream cheese frosting, topped with toasted coconut. I think they put a bit too much frosting on the cake (can’t believe I said that). Daniel wasn’t so sure about the flavors at first, but I can always take the extras to work if they turn out too sweet.
I thought these were pretty cute – of course if I made them they would have to be either Florida Gator orange and blue or Chicago Bears blue and orange!
There is no middle ground with those little green cuties – you either love them or loathe them.
Why you need to love them: one word – cruciferous! These little members of the cabbage family are packed with Vitamin C, fiber, Vitamin K, folate and can lower your risk for cancer.
The most common mistake in cooking them is overcooking them! Steaming for 6-7 minutes is the fastest way to get them ready for your table and will avoid releasing the glucosinolate sinigrin which is the cause of that terrible sulfurous smell that turns most people off of brussels.
I started my brussel sprout journey with a Tyler Florence recipe (see below) that featured onions, bacon, and potatoes in addition to the sprouts. I had only had the veg once before and wanted to love them, but they were quickly placed in the “Yuck” category with mushrooms and mayonnaise. Daniel and I like the hash so much that I don’t even use bacon or potatoes in the dish anymore.
It is a “work in progress” dish however as there is a fine line between beautiful, tender, caramelized brussels and soggy, greasy, sulfurous veggies. Daniel doesn’t mind if they get a bit sulfury, but unfortunately when I made the dish for Thanksgiving at my Mom’s house they were a big F as in fail. Dad was grouchy that I was making them at all so I’m sure he was really annoyed, but he was pretty quiet about it. Poor Mom did her best no to be negative but I could tell she didn’t like the recipe. Better luck next time!
Here is the link to Tyler’s recipe:
Bacon and Brussel Sprout Hash on the Food Network
I think I need an immersion blender. I have been making a lot of homemade soup this fall and I hate dragging out the regular blender and blending the soup in batches. I already make too many dishes when I cook ( just ask Daniel). Then I got to thinking… what other gadgets could my kitchen use? As an ode to my sister-in-law Lesley, here are the top five gadgets I’m wishin’ for (list subject to change):
- Immersion Blender
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer
- Ritz Adult Kitchen Apron
- Pasta Machine
- Microwave Popcorn Popper
I think my family has figured out that Daniel and I like to cook – at least my parents and mother-in-law have. Xmas breakfast didn’t look quite like this. I attempted Huevos Rancheros with mixed results. I think I’m going to have to find a better recipe for the salsa/red sauce.
My parents gave us a cooler of meat and goodies from Omaha Meats and a subscription to a great cooking magazine called “Cooks Country” – it’s not as “country” as it sounds, trust me. Ok, it’s not full of “fine dining” recipes but it’s not Betty Crocker, either. When we visited my parents over Thanksgiving I went through her backlog of magazines and made copies of all kinds of great recipes – she wouldn’t let me take them with me so you know it’s a good magazine! There is another publication that I’d like to try one day called “Cooks Illustrated” – I think it’s more what I’m looking for (tips, tricks, gadget reviews as well as recipes) but I picked the one with lots of color pictures to start. Don’t you just hate it when a cookbook doesn’t have pictures?!
My mother-in-law, Elin, gave us a glycemic index cookbook and a great pot – a 7 quart non-stick casserole. I’m super excited to make soup or a roast in that pot. My dutch oven is only 4 quarts and sometimes it just isn’t big enough. I do need to read the directions before I use it because I’ve already killed one pan (cast iron) in my short cooking life and I certainly don’t want to do that again.
For Xmas dinner, I made the usual – lasagna. I’ve made a homemade sauce (crushed tomatoes, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley) the last few times but I was feeling off (come to find out I was incubating quite a cold) and used a jar sauce – Ragu “Mama’s Garden” chunky. I know…Ragu, but really it’s pretty good. It has lots of chunks of veggies, maybe a few too many for a lasagna, and it might be a bit sweet for some people, but it is a good, inexpensive sauce in a pinch. Luckily I don’t have an Italian Grandmother to spin in her grave.