Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

This recipe was super yummy, super fresh, and light...definitely will be a repeater! 
I think I can also take most of these ingredients and make spring rolls out of them. 
Thankfully, I have an asian market close by my house so I was able to pick up some of the harder to find ingredients, but hopefully they are at the regular supermarket.

The hardest thing to me about this recipe is the prep and cutting all the carrots and cucumber to edible, pretty, julienne size. I have been told by my best friends husband (whom we deem the "cutting nazi") that I don't know how to cut into matchstick pieces...I am definitely a believer that you need good (and sometimes expensive) knives. I have not gotten there yet, but when I start to set up my own kitchen you better believe that Williams Sonoma will be getting a visit from me :)

My work with "run of the mill" knives:

not too shabby :)

So, once again I got my inspiration from Bev Cooks her recipe added chicken, I just didn't have time to grill up any, so mine was the veggie version.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Almond Cupcakes Chocolate Buttercream and Brown Sugar Toasted Almonds

If it weren't for the internet I am pretty sure that I would be eating spaghetti, tacos, enchiladas, and white rice every week. Haha, total dramatization, but sometimes I don't want to even try to be creative and I go back to "cooking autopilot" mode.

I now have also expanded my baking, which used to consist of box cake/cupcake mixes and cookies were the only thing I would make from scratch. Well, no more box mixes for this lady!! And I am pretty sure I found the BEST cupcake/frosting recipe EVER.IN.LIFE. seriously I wanted to take a spoon to this frosting.....and I think I actually did :)

I got this recipe from How Sweet It Is blog I really need to start making my own recipes, but it will probably happen on a long holiday weekend...we have a couple of those coming up and I see a lot of baking in my future.

I changed only one thing from the original recipe, I did not melt the butter, I know it would have changed the texture a bit, and I wasn't ready for am used to doing all my baking with room temp butter, so I just did that.

2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Sugared Toasted Almonds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg white and sugar until smooth and combine. Gradually add melted butter while whisking constantly, then add in extracts. Stir in dry ingredients until well combined, then add in milk and stir until a smooth batter forms. Using a 1/4 cup measure or ice cream scoop, fill liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cupcakes are set. Let cool completely.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add in sugar and cocoa powder with the mixer on low, speeding up once combined. Add in extract and beat on medium, scraping down the sides if necessary, for 2-3 minutes. If frosting is too thick (I like mine thick), add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, beating for another minute or two to smooth it out. Repeat if necessary. If frosting isn't thick enough to be spreadable, add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar while beating until it thickens. Frost and top with sugared almonds below.

Sugared Toasted Almonds
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add almonds. Tossing and stirring constantly, toast for 1-2 minutes, just until almonds start to brown. Reduce heat to low and toss in sugar, stirring to coat. Stir constantly and cook for another minute, then remove and place almonds in a bowl. After a few minutes of cooling they will harden and you can break them apart and place on frosting.


Flank Steak Fajita Lettuce Wraps

I am such a creature of habit and I seriously have chicken like 5 to 6 days out of the week. I rarely eat red meat, I wouldn't even know how to buy a steak. Tri-tip, ribeye...I have no idea! 

So, when I saw this recipe I really wanted to try it.  Bev Cooks blog has been posting everything I want to eat like right now: shrimp pad thai cups, asian steak salad with bok choy, Vietnamese noodle salad with chicken (I am making this in a couple days), corn muffins with bacon and parmesan (seriously! I am trying to eat better, so I am not sure if I will make this...or I will half the recipe so if I eat all of them it won't be so bad??) 

OK, back to dinner tonight it was really good, but will require some flossing afterwards. That's one thing I hate about steaks...always getting stuck in the teeth.

Flank Steak Fajita Lettuce Wraps
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb flank steak
2 cloves garlic minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger finely minced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
2 carrots julienned
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 lime 
2 scallions finely sliced
Hearts of romaine
fresh cilantro for garnish

Cook the steak according to your preference, the original recipe calls for searing it in the pan, I did that this time, but next time I will probably barbecue it then slice it thinly afterwards.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet, toss in the garlic, ginger and scallion, saute for 30 seconds.  Add the red bell pepper and carrots.  Season with a pinch of salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, but don't let the vegetables lose their "bite".  Remove from the heat while you make the sauce.

In a small bowl combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil. Squeeze in the lime and add the brown sugar to taste. Whisk to combine.

Add the steak to the vegetables and pour the sauce over everything. Toss to coat.

Serve in the romaine heart like a "boat". Garnish with any remaining lime juice, scallions and cilantro.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Balls

I'm talking peanut butter M&M's, peanut butter snickers, peanut butter twix, peanut butter and banana (my fave post workout snack), peanut butter and apples, peanut butter on a spoon...I could very easily go Dr. Seuss on y'all and say I can eat it on a train, in a plane...anywhere LOL. And it's safe to say when the peanut butter is combined with chocolate it does something magical.
When I saw this recipe on How Sweet It Is blog, I had to try it.  The recipe is actually for a donut pan, but I don't have on, so I used my cake pop technically this recipe could be called "donut holes" but I just decided to call them cake balls.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Balls

 1/2 cup oat flour
1/2  cup almond flour
2T coconut flour (I didn't have coconut flour, so I just added more oat flour)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter melted
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2T unsweetened applesauce (I didn't have any on hand, so i just put an apple in the worked)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2t vanilla
1/2t salt
1t baking powder
1/8t cinnamon
1/3 cup peanut butter chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour your pan.
In a medium sized bowl mix together the oat flour, almond flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.
In a small bowl whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and applesauce.
Whisk in melted peanut butter
Stir wet into dry until combined. Do not overstir. It will look slightly lumpy.
Stir in peanut butter chips if you are using them
With a spoon, spatula, or piping bag, transfer the batter to your pan.
Bake for 16-20 minutes.
Test with a toothpick for doneness.
Let them cool before frosting.

I left a little room at the top for my first batch and they didn't completely fill up the sphere.
So on my second batch I completely filled them to the brim and it turned out much better.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2T peanut butter

Melt the chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler until thoroughly melted.
If using a microwave stir after every 20 seconds until melted.
Dip the donut holes and sprinkle if you desire :)