Archive for July, 2010

29th July
2010
written by Cleone

Cupcakes

Our beautiful friend, Pam, invited us out to Makakilo for her dad’s 50th birthday party a few weeks ago.   I offered to make cupcakes.  The theme for the party was “Hawaiian”.  I wanted to follow the party theme so I started thinking about what fruits I could use that represented Hawaii, or a tropical island.  The ones that came to mind were mango and pineapple.

After reading some food blogs, I was inspired to make cupcakes stuffed with these fruits rather than mixing these fruits into the batter.  I thought that it would be a nice little surprise to bite into a cupcake to find it filled with fruit!  Of course I did not just fill the cupcakes with fresh fruit.  I made fruit jam instead!

I scoured the internet to find recipes on making jam.  Some were more elaborate than others but overall, I stuck to the basics: fruit, water, corn starch, and sugar.  I will do another post on these jams later, but for now, let us focus on the pretty and yummy cupcakes!

Vanilla Cupcake Batter

Chocolate Cupcake Batter

I usually only make one kind of cupcakes, but since it was for someone special and for their special day, I decided to offer some variety.  Some people like vanilla while others like chocolate, so why not give them the option?

Batch of vanilla

Batch of chocolate

I made the jam the night before, baked the cupcakes in the morning, filled them in the afternoon, and brought them over to the party to frost.  I want to thank my new friend, Allison, for helping me finish assembling the cupcakes.  She helped top the cupcakes with shredded coconut.

Vanilla filled with mango

Chocolate filled with pineapple

During the night, we saw the little kids quietly go up to the dessert table (which really was the kids table) and sneak some cupcakes outside.  It was a pretty funny sight.  So cute!  And if the kids like them, then I would say they were a success!  The adults liked them as well!

The recipe for chocolate cupcakes and vanilla buttercream frosting are featured in an earlier post so I will just provide the recipe for the vanilla cupcakes here.  Oh, and check back later for the pineapple and mango jam entry!

VANILLA CUPCAKES
(Adapted from More From Magnolia)

Makes 24 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Another method is to whisk these ingredients in the large bowl.

2. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter for about 30 seconds.

3. Add sugar to the butter and beat on medium for about 3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating each addition until incorporated.

5. Mix together milk and vanilla in a measuring cup.

6. Add about 1/4 of the flour to the butter and sugar and mix until incorporated.

7. Add about 1/3 of the milk and vanilla to the batter and mix until incorporated.

8. Alternate mixing the dry and wet ingredients until each addition is incorporated in the batter.

9. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and scoop the batter with a large spoon into the cups. Fill about the cups about 2/3 full.

10. Bake for about 22-25 minutes until tester comes out clean. Mine were done at 24 minutes.

To fill the cupcakes:
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack after taking them out of the oven.
Using a small knife, make an incision into the top of the cupcake and cut around until a small dome is cut out.
Fill the cupcakes with jam or preserves.
Cut off the excess cake from the dome and replace the top of the cupcake.
Frost the cupcakes as you like.


12th July
2010
written by Cleone

Stuffed mushrooms

The last few times I went to Costco, I was looking forward to picking up some shiitake mushrooms but unfortunately, they were not in stock.  They haven’t been in stock for a while.  I didn’t think mushrooms were seasonal.  So instead, I grabbed some huge white mushrooms.  I didn’t realize they were “stuffer” mushrooms until I got home.

I used some up for a chicken dish and they were great because even when they cooked down, the mushroom was big enough that it didn’t disappear in the sauce.  I used the remainder for stuffed mushrooms.

Every time I have stuffed mushrooms, it always seems to be at some cocktail party or at a corporate mingling event with light pupus.  Stuffed mushrooms seem to be a stand up type of food.  I am either grabbing it from an appetizer spread or from a tray being maneuvered around the room by a server.  These are the settings I always associate stuffed mushrooms to be offered in.  Wherever they are served, they are quite delicious.

Ingredients

Pancetta, mushrooms, and garlic

I had some pancetta left so it was a nice substitute for the bacon that the recipe originally calls for.

De-stemming the mushrooms

Since these mushrooms are gigantic, the stems were quite easy to remove.  I just used my hand to wiggle them and they came right off.

Mushroom caps

Cooking the stuffing

The stuffing mixture

Before oven

After oven

They do shrink a bit during cooking but they were still a pretty good size for pupus.

STUFFED MUSHROOMS
(Adapted from allrecipes.com)

Serving size: 4-6

Ingredients:
1 ounce pancetta or bacon, chopped into small pieces
1/2 package of cream cheese (I used a little less)
2 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, and extra for sprinkling
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 drops of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of black pepper
1 pound large stuffer mushrooms, stems removed
Removed stems, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a saute pan on medium high heat, cook pancetta for about 5 minutes to render fat.

3. Add garlic and chopped stems to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until soft.

4. Transfer pancetta and stems to a bowl.

5. Mix in cream cheese, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and worcestershire sauce until well incorporated.

6. Spoon filling into mushroom caps and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle extra Parmesan cheese on top.

7. Bake in oven for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.

Note: I used a little less than 1/2 a package of cream cheese because honestly, it is a lot of cream cheese. I will try it with Greek yogurt next time as it has a similar consistency and about 99% less fat.

5th July
2010
written by Cleone

Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce

We eat a lot of chicken.  In fact, we have different cuts of chicken stockpiled in the freezer.  I prefer the taste of chicken to pork and sometimes beef.  I also think that you can do more with chicken than with the other two.

I had a craving for a creamy mushroom sauce so I whipped up something in the kitchen and it came out really good!  We bought a big carton of mushrooms so it was perfect.  The mushrooms were actually “stuffer” mushrooms so they are HUGE.  I did make stuffed mushrooms another night but I’ll leave that for another post.

Sliced fresh mushrooms

Onion and garlic

For the sauce

White wine works really well with chicken.  It does add a level of flavor to the meat that is very pleasing to the palate.  I guess it makes sense that white wine should be paired (for drinking) with chicken (and seafood).

The thickener

A lot of creamy sauces are made with a cream or milk.  I wanted to make this dish less fattening.  The beauty of cooking at home is that you can choose what you put in your food and you can substitute ingredients to your liking.  There are always ways to make a dish with less fat and calories.  I used cornstarch instead of cream to thicken the sauce.  I am not sure if it is an ancient Chinese secret but I know a lot of Chinese dishes are thickened this way.  Growing up, I always saw my mom using cornstarch to thicken sauces, therefore it is my preferred method.

Chicken cooking in the sauce

When everything is thrown together at the end, it smelled spectacular.  This dish was definitely tasty over rice.  AM enjoyed it a lot.

CHICKEN WITH CREAMY MUSHROOM SAUCE
(My own recipe)

Serving size: 2 – 4

Ingredients:
4 large chicken thighs, or about 1/2 pound
4 large white mushrooms (or more if you prefer)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium size onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon sea salt, 1/2 for seasoning chicken and 1/2 for sauce
1 tablespoon pepper, 1/2 for seasoning chicken and 1/2 for sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 for seasoning chicken and 1/2 for sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch + 1 tablespoon water, stirred together in a separate bowl
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Place chicken on baking sheet and season both sides with sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake chicken for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium high heat, cook garlic and onion in oil until onion is translucent; about 3 minutes.

4. Add mushrooms to the pan and stir around with a wooden spoon. Add water and continue stirring.

5. Add chicken broth and white wine and stir for another 3 minutes.

6. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder and continue stirring.

7. Add cornstarch and water mixture and mix into the sauce completely. The sauce should start to thicken. Let the sauce come to a simmer. Taste and make sure it is seasoned enough to your liking.

8. When the chicken is ready, take out of oven and place into pan. Cook with the sauce for about 10 – 15 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

9. Serve over rice.

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