February 5, 2016

Groundhog Cupcakes

These cupcakes from Bakerella are probably the single most adorable cupcakes I've ever made, and they're quite tasty as well. (They're topped with candy, so of course they are tasty.) She's spot on with her recommendations for the candies to use to make these cute cupcakes.

I think these will have to be a tradition for us. The one thing I might consider changing would be to put a peanut butter filling inside the cupcake or a mini peanut butter cup inside just to make the cupcake itself a bit more interesting. The cupcake recipe, though, for a one-bowl simple recipe makes a mighty tasty cupcake.

I was a bit misleading when I shared these on Facebook because I said, "I could really gopher a cupcake right now!" So if you need a gopher cupcake, these will work, too. (And if you find a reason you need a gopher cupcake, let me know. That will give me another reason to make these.)

Groundhog Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp. milk
18 peanut butter cups
36 candy eyes
72 Hershey's Drops
36 brown M & Ms or Reese's Pieces
18 black candy balls
1 marshmallow
Edible food black marker
Handful of chocolate chips
10 chocolate cookies, pureed into crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Fill cupcake tray with 18 cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together with a wire whisk. Add eggs, oil, vanilla and milk, and mix until combined. Add hot water, and mix. It will be very liquid. Pour batter into a large spouted measuring cup for ease, and fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until done.
While cupcakes are baking, make the groundhogs. Melt a few chocolate chips in the microwave to use to "glue" everything together. Unwrap the peanut butter cups, and place on a baking sheet. Use a toothpick to apply the chocolate "glue" to the black noses into place. Then "glue" the 2 Hershey's Drops, and place as cheeks. Add the candy eyes in the same manner, and let the chocolate harden. Cut marshmallow into 18 small pieces, and glue on for teeth. (The original recipe called for marshmallow bits, but I improvised because I couldn't find them at the store.) Use the food marker to draw between the teeth. Repeat for all groundhogs.

For chocolate frosting, beat butter until creamy. Add vanilla, and mix. Slowly add powdered sugar and cocoa, and mix until combined. Add 1-2 Tablespoons milk, and mix until creamy and smooth.

Use a knife or offset spatula to frost cupcakes. Dip into cookie crumbs to add the dirt to your cupcake. Then carefully place a groundhog onto each cupcake. Smash the frosting up behind it to hold it in place if needed. Add 2 more Hershey's Drops for paws by placing them in the frosting. Glue on M & Ms or Reese's Pieces for ears. Makes 18 of the most adorable cupcakes ever!

January 25, 2016

Salsa Verde Chicken Chili

After I made a batch of Salsa Verde Chicken, I then moved onto Cookies and Cups' version of Chicken Chili. I made a few minor tweaks in seasonings, and this is amazing!

For something so healthy, it's loaded with flavor. I did top our portions with a bit of shredded cheese, but you could go without if you like leading a boring life. This is thick and really loaded with chicken. I think you could stretch the chicken a bit, either using 2 cups or increasing some of the other ingredients to make this recipe go even further.

Salsa Verde Chicken Chili
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup frozen corn
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 cans cannellini beans, drained, rinsed and divided
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. aleppo pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. smoked salt
3 cups salsa verde chicken
24 oz. chicken broth

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and corn until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, and saute for 2 more minutes.

Place one can of drained and rinsed beans into a blender or food processor. Transfer the onion mixture into the blender or food processor as well. Add in the cumin, aleppo pepper, paprika and salt. Blend the mixture until it is a thick paste.

Add the chicken to the unwashed dutch oven over medium heat, and stir in the chicken broth. Add in the bean mixture to the broth, and stir to combine. Finally add in the remaining beans. Heat the chili until it just comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer the chili for 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Salsa Verde Chicken

You know where your mind is when you type slow cookie instead of slow cooker. I found this recipe from Cookies and Cups, and I made it within a couple weeks, which is pretty fast for me to get to a recipe that doesn't involve chocolate. It also used up that last jar of tomatillo salsa that was sitting on my shelf.

This recipe is super simple and perfect for a weeknight. You end up with a plethora of chicken that can be used in tacos, burritos rice bowls, casseroles or an amazing chicken chili.

Salsa Verde Chicken
2 - 2 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
16 oz. salsa verde

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours or on high heat for 4 hours. Shred with two forks, and serve or use in recipes. Makes roughly 4-5 cups of chicken.

January 18, 2016

Mini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies

I've made quite a few batches of cookies lately, and these are one of my all-time favorites, along with the NY Times ones. Love & Olive Oil nailed it with these, minus the espresso powder.

The edges are perfectly crispy and crunchy, rich with the brown sugar flavor. And the inside is a gooey and delicious mess that my husband described as cookie stew. Weird, but I love him anyways.

By the way, I bought the skillets recommended in the original post. For us, they are totally worth it for these cookies alone. Make a double batch, and freeze the extra dough in cookie-sized portions.

Mini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea or kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
Flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter or grease 8 mini (3.5-inch diameter) cast iron skillets. Arrange on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until incorporated. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add dry ingredients and oats, and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Spoon dough into 2-inch diameter balls, approximately 2 tablespoons per ball. Drop balls into prepared skillets. Top with a few more chocolate chunks and a sprinkle of flake salt (if desired). (Dough balls can also be frozen on a lined cookie sheet until frozen solid, and then transferred to a zip top bag for later use.)

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until edges are golden and center is just set but not overcooked. If you like your cookies gooey, err on the side of underdone. If you like your cookies crispy, cook for a minute or two longer. Add one minute of cook time if cooking dough from frozen, and do not thaw first.

Makes 8 skillet cookies.

Proscuitto-Stuffed Chicken Breast

Obviously there's no shortage of sweet treats on my blog, so I'm happy to have a savory to add to the mix. Again, no pictures because there's no way it would look appetizing if I tried to photograph this, but Baker's Royale makes it look as delicious as it tastes.

These are phenomenal. They're a bit more work than a standard meal for us, simply because I don't usually use string to truss my food. Still, I think you could easily make a larger batch, freeze, thaw and then cook as directed. They would be great for a meal to impress for entertaining, although they're not really complicated.

I ad-libbed on the mushroom sauce, but it was amazing the way I've noted.

Proscuitto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 thin slices prosciutto
8 thin slices provolone cheese
Basil leaves, the tube kind
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth

Fillet chicken breasts horizontally. Open breast in half, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Place 1 chicken breast half on a work surface, cut side up. Spread a dollop of basil (from the tube) evenly onto the chicken. Lay 1 slice of prosciutto on top of chicken. Layer with a slice of cheese. Roll up chicken lengthwise, and tie with kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Pre-heat oven to 450°F. Heat 1 Tbsp. butter and oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet. Add chicken, and cook until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roulades reads 165°, about 7-8 minutes. (The chicken will be cooked through but still juicy.) Transfer chicken to plates, and let rest for 10 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, cook mushrooms in remaining Tbsp. butter, along with some pepper. As needed, add chicken broth to prevent sticking. When you remove chicken from the skillet after it is baked in the oven, pour the mushroom mixture into that skillet. Add a bit of chicken broth, and scrape up all drippings and cheese. Use as a sauce to top the chicken.

Makes about 8 small portions or 4 large ones.

Note: If your toddler questions the basil in the chicken, might I suggest serving broccoli as a side so that can be used as an excuse that some got into the chicken? Worked for me, but only because he likes broccoli.