Roasted Red Peppers & Sweet Onion Orzo Pasta

DSCN0203Have you ever looked in your fridge and then looked at your cupboard? Nothing.  Looked back in your fridge and then back at your cupboard?Nothing.  As I sit there fighting with myself, because I know very well there is plenty of food there, but lack the motivation, inspiration or creativity to make things work.  Also, I’m fighting with my laziness to go to the store.  Sometimes, you just want things there, already made.  Like a magic icebox that can read your mind and creates what you crave as you open it, and viola!  Or that magic cupboard from the “Indian and the Cupboard” except  for bringing little toys to life, it brings your dry goods together into a delicious, magnificent dish.

Okay, yes this is all wishful thinking and definitely takes the fun out of cooking.  However, sometimes, just sometimes…

There are many wonderful websites out there can produce recipes for based on what you already have on hand in the kitchen.  Again, I was fighting laziness and time was ticking.  Okay, okay it was more like my tummy was grumbling.  This recipe is simple and surprisingly flavorful all on its own.  I needed a side dish and saw a leftover box of orzo pasta.  I also had left over chopped sweet onions from breakfast and half a bottle of roasted red peppers.  This came together well and can be eaten as a side or by itself!  Happy Spring everyone!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
15 min. 10 min Easy 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small sweet onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Garlic salt
  • parsley
  • half a bottle of roasted red peppers (16 oz. jar)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in small pan on medium heat.  Chop onions and mince garlic, then add them to the pan.
  2. Sautee until onion is translucent.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, cook pasta according to directions on box.  Approximately 9 minutes for an al dente texture.
  4. Drain the roasted red pepper and chop into pieces.
  5. Drain pasta when it is done cooking; add in roasted red peppers, onions and garlic.  Sprinkle in garlic salt and parsley to season and toss until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Serve as desired.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Chocolate Orange CupcakesNothing cures a bad mood or the case of nerves like chocolate.  I’m not a huge fan of chocolate but this cupcake recipe had me coming back for more.  This recipe was created using the cake base from a German Chocolate Cake recipe.  I’m allergic to coconut, but I had to try the recipe that uses coffee in its recipe!!  One of my weaknesses is coffee.

When I do enjoy chocolate, it is usually chocolate covered oranges.  There is something sweet and refreshing about oranges dipped in chocolate.  A friend of mine and I had a bake date (with wine of course!) and decided to make these devilish cupcakes!

These bad boys did not last long!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
20 min 15-30 minutes Intermediate 3 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 oz. Semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ¼  C Cake flour
  • ¾  C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½  tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp baking soda
  • ½  tsp salt
  • 1 C lukewarm coffee
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 ¼  C  unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ¼  C sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½  tsp pure vanilla extract

Ganache Filling

  • 8 oz.  dark chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • ¾ C  heavy whipping cream
  • 2 TBS  unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 TBS  Grand Marnier or any orange liquor

Orange Dream Frosting

  • 2 TBS  butter, at room temperature
  • 4-5 C  confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 TBS  orange juice
  • 2 TBS  Grand Mariner or other orange liqueur
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 TBS grated orange zest or a drop of orange oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler (*or you can use a metal mixing bowl over boiling water in a pot).  Set melted chocolate aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl,  sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a measuring cup, mix buttermilk and coffee together.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, until it is fluffy.
  6. Add eggs one at a time and be sure to mix them well before adding the next egg.
  7. Add melted chocolate and vanilla extract until mixture is well incorporated.
  8. Alternate mixing the flour mixture and coffee/buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  9. Fill cupcake liners until 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Ganache:

  1. Place chocolate in a medium (heat-proof) bowl.
  2. On stove heat butter and heavy cream, until it comes to a boil.
  3. Immediately pour the boiling mix over chocolate and whisk gently until completely incorporated.
  4. Stir in liquor and let it cool and set.
  5. Pour ganache into a condiment bottle and squeeze contents into the cupcakes (once the cupcakes have cooled.)

Frosting Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, cream butter, orange juice and Grand Marnier together
  2. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until the frosting peaks to a consistency to your liking.  (I’ve found that four cups usually does it.)
  3. Add in the pinch of salt and orange zest until well blended.
  4. Add to a piping bag with your desired decorating tip.

Lemonade Cupcakes with Chambord Buttercream Frosting

It’s been a stressful couple of weeks and I love to bake.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  I’m the person who bakes and hands out my goodies.  Baking is more than making cookies and cupcakes and making them look pretty.  For many, baking is an art, but for me it’s therapy.  I love losing myself in a recipe and recreating it into my own.

This week I’ve wanted to create raspberry lemonade cupcakes with a Chambord frosting.  My raspberry sauce, however, didn’t come out the way I wanted, so we just have lemonade cupcakes.  I substituted the raspberry sauce for lemon curd, and man o’ man, it’s still delicious!!

To get the reddish tipped roses, I used a Wilton 22 tip, Wilton sparkle red gel and the Chambord Buttercream frosting.  I learned this trick on Pinterest.  Yes, Pinterest is kind of an addiction these days.  You can find this tip on our “Tips, Tricks & Essentials” board.  Fit the tip in a piping bag, line one side with red gel food coloring and then carefully fill the bag with frosting.  Start with the red line facing upwards and start at the center of the cupcake and go out.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
15 min 15-18 min. Easy 12

INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ C         unsalted butter
  • ⅔ C         sugar
  • 3 lg.        eggs
  • 1 tsp      lemon extract (or a ¼ C of lemon juice)
  • 1 ½ C      Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp  baking powder
  • ¼ tsp     salt
  • ¼ C         milk
  • 1              lemon (zested)
  • 1 6 oz. jar of lemon curd

Chambord Buttercream Frosting

  • ½ C         unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • ½ C         milk
  • 4-6 C      Confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 TBS     Chambord liquor

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven at 350°F and zest lemon, then set aside.
  2. Beat butter & sugar until light & fluffy
  3. Add eggs, one at a time
  4. Beat in lemon extract until fully incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. On low speed alternately add the flour mixture and milk.  Always begin and end with flour.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden brown and then let the cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Using a piping bag or squeeze bottle, insert lemon curd into three different spots in cupcakes.  Then decorate to your heart’s content.

Frosting Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, cream butter and milk together.  Then add in the Chambord.
  2. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until the frosting peaks.  You may add more Chambord for flavor. 🙂

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Photo taken by Nicole Ramos

The first time I ever tried this cake is when I had to make one for a close friend’s birthday.  It’s the only cake he loves and I could see why.  I looked and looked for the best possible recipe and decided on Paula Deen’s Pineapple Upside Cake recipe on Food Network.  I love Paula Deen! She reminds me so much of my grandmother when she cooks!

So, for this recipe, I cut it down and thought it would be cute as individual serving portions, rather than a large cake.  You’ll need a jumbo 6 cup muffin pan for this recipe.  If you only have a 12 cup muffin pan, I recommend substituting cans of diced pineapple instead of the sliced and arrange the dice pieces to reflect a pineapple slice.   This recipe should yield 16 individual cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C  butter, plus 1/2 C (melted)
1 3/4 C   sugar
3 lg  eggs
1/2 tsp  pure vanilla extract
1 tsp  baking powder
1/8 tsp  salt
3/4 C  buttermilk
1 C  brown sugar
2 (20 oz.) cans of pineapple slices
1 (10 oz.) jar of maraschino cherries
Nonstick spray (I find that Pam’s Nonstick Baking Spray works best)
aluminum foil or parchment paper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat ½ cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, add the 1 1/2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Spoon the brown sugar (Approximately 1 tablespoon per cup) evenly into each muffin cup. Spoon the melted butter (about 1 teaspoon) equally over the brown sugar. Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries over the brown sugar. Reserve remaining pineapple slices and cherries for another use.
  5. Spoon batter into the cups until the cup looks about ¾ full, over the fruit and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Cover wire racks with aluminum foil or parchment paper and invert the mini cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.

Viola!!  You are now ready to serve everyone something amazing!  These would be great to serve at a dessert party!