Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Happy Almost Halloween! For one of my classes yesterday we had a potluck. And since I have an overwhelming number of Halloween cupcake wrappers (and still do), I decided to make something festive. I've seen these around the web and decided to give my hand at it. I was originally going to make the cake from scratch, but after working all morning and studying for my midterm all afternoon, I opted with a box mix. This was seriously the first box mix I've used in ages. I was going to make my own frosting, at least. The frosting I chose was a Honey Buttercream, because I wanted to make these special. And since candy corn are infused with honey, I thought hey! Well, it was a disaster and it tasted like a pot of... butter. It was disgusting.

Luckily I had a container of vanilla frosting on hand, so I colored it, added some honey to that, and got these babies done! They went over well and were adorable.

But anyway, this isn't all this post is about. Because these are festive cupcakes and because all holidays need a little cupcake love I am giving away one copy of the cupcake cookbook "Cupcakes Year-Round". It has so many fabulous ideas of festive cupcakes to make, from Halloween spiders to cupcakes that resemble a beach!

If you want to win the copy of this book comment by November 4th and let me know what your favorite holiday or season is, and what you think the best cupcake would be for the occassion! I will pick the winner using a random number generator. Leave your email, so that if you win I can get in touch with you!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

I found Barefoot Contessa's recipe for her tomato soup at The Review Lady's blog (check my links on the side bar to see her blog). I've always loved Safeway's tomato basil soup, so I figured that this would only have to be better than that! The girls and I have been having biweekly potlucks, and this week it's my turn to bring the side dish. Because I love these flavors and it makes a lot, I decided it was the perfect opportunity. Though we haven't eaten yet, so I don't know how well it will go over, I did have a bowl of it for lunch and it was living up to my standards. I may run the immersion blender through it again - but the flavor is all there and all right!

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup Recipe


3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 (28-ounce) canned diced tomatoes, with their juice

4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 quart chicken stock


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

3. In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.

4. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock.

5. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet.

6. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.

7. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. Taste for seasonings.

So this is the final bowl of deliciousness. This was the first soup I've ever made and I deem it a success!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Naan & Curry

Indian food is one of the tastiest things ever and also one of the few things my picky boyfriend will eat when I cook. Actually, I lie, he's getting more adventurous. But I am confident that my curry will always win him over. This past week I bought a lot of chicken from Safeway because it's been on sale ($1.99 a pound), so I had to stock up as I usually do when the chicken is on sale. Now to decide what to cook with the other chicken I have... But I have a bit to decide because I still have leftover curry out the wazoo. Anyway, this isn't all about curry. I also decided to try my hand at some naan. The cooking method isn't the traditional way to make naan. I've made it on a grill before and it tasted delicious, but I didn't have the time today to set up the grill for the task. So I found a recipe that used the oven and I doctored it slightly. While my naan is definately puffier than the naan you'd find in an Indian restaurant, it still tasted the same and that boyfriend of mine at 5 of the 6 pieces.

Naan Recipe

2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt, room temperature
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1. Put warm water in a small bowl, add sugar and yeast and stir until dissolved. Set aside for 5-10 minutes or until it foams.

2. Blend in the warm milk, yogurt and melted margarine. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and poppy seeds. Pour in the yeast/milk mixture all at once and work it into the flour, using your hands. Continue mixing, adding flour or water as needed, until the mixture leaves the sides of the bowl.

3. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let stand in a warm place to rise for about 4 hours or until doubled in volume.

4. Preheat oven to 550 degrees F (285 degrees C) or your oven's highest setting and set a rack in the lower third of the oven. Place a large pizza pan or iron griddle on the rack and preheat. Also preheat the broiler.

5. Punch the dough down and knead briefly. Divide into six pieces and shape them into balls. Place them on an oiled plate and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let balls rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Roll out and stretch each ball until it is about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. Remove the pizza pan from the oven, brush with oil and place one of pieces of bread on it.

6. Bake at 550 degrees F (285 degrees C) for about 4 to 5 minutes until bread is puffed and has brown spots, then transfer to a wire rack, returning pizza pan to oven to keep hot. Place bread under broiler until 'charcoal' dots appear on the surface. Wrap finished bread in a towel while baking the remaining loaves. (If your pizza pan is big enough, try baking two loaves at the time.)

NOTES: I doctored the recipe by rubbing the naan with melted butter and garlic prior to putting it in the oven. While the taste wasn't extreme, there was a slight hint of garlic on the bread. Next time I think I'm going to add minced garlic to the actual dough.

Of course, I didn't just make naan like I mentioned already. I also made my foil proof curry that's done me right in the past. Oh man, I'm stuffed right now after eating this massive amount of food (served over Basmati rice). Yum, I can taste it again.
Curry Recipe

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 lb. onions
1 lb. tomatoes
1 sq. inch ginger
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp. tumeric
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
Salt to taste
4 tsp. cooking oil
Saute finely diced onions, ginger and garlic on high heat, stirring constantly until light brown. Reduce heat to low, add finely diced tomatoes. Stir well, cook for 5-10 minutes. Add and stir in all spices in order above one at a time. Add 1 inch cubes of chicken. Cook 30-45 minutes on low/medium heat, stirring periodically.