Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!! Our celebration is now very low key since we have moved to another country. However that doesn't stop us from having a good time at home. A friend back home sent me cupcake liners and toppers to make our day more special and I totally appreciate it. I got up this morning and started in on the cupcakes for the boys as a surprise for when they come home. I made extra to make sure they could also share with a few of their dutch friends. This is a moist chocolate cupcake and is very airy and this is my go to chocolate cupcake recipe from now on!
Cocoa Cupcakes~18 cupcakes
2 cups Cake Flour(I used self rising)
1 1/2 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Cocoa(I used unsweetened)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1/2 cup Butter,softened
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius
In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar.Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add Cocoa powder and buttermilk,mix on low speed at first making sure to scrap the bowl on all sides and then bring the speed up more to mix it well. Add your baking soda and salt to you flour and add in a little at a time to batter. Mix until just blended and fill your cupcake much depends on how many cucpakes you wanted. I filled mine a little over half. Bake 20mins,cool and frost.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Crack Macaroni and Cheese

Nope thats not a typo! We couldn't get enough of this stuff. There was complete silence from the boys as they ate (and let me tell you that is something that rarely happens during dinner time). The oldest passed on dessert so that he could get a smaller helping of crack n cheese instead. When the youngest ate it without complaint, I knew I had a winner. We are addicts and we don't care!

Back home I made another homemade version that didn't really turn out well here. I used cheddar cheese and when I used dutch cheese in place of cheddar it was a disaster. The cheese fell to the bottom and clumped..and it was just gross. I had to come up with a new way to make it.(For those who are new to my blog,you can't really buy cheddar cheese here. They have it in small bags but it costs alot and I don't like the taste of their version of what cheddar cheese is). I found various recipes on the internet and combined several of them to get just the right amount of cheese and milk and this was so perfect.
If I had to come up with one thing it would be that we have all decided that we arent a crumb topping family. I never added it to my old version and the next time I make this(I will be making it over and over again) I will leave it out. I will include it in the recipe incase you are a crumb topping family. This dish will serve atleast 6 peeps.
Crack Macaroni and Cheese..Serves 6 350 or 180 celcius
3 TBLSPNS melted Butter
3/4 cup crushed Butter Crackers;Saltines would work fine too
While cooking pasta,crush crackers into large crumbs. Melt butter in saucepan,pour over crackers,mix and set aside. Heat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease a 2 QT casserole dish and set aside.
2 cups dry Macaroni:cooked and drained
3 TBLSPNS Butter
1/4 cup finely minced Onion
3 cups Milk
3/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Ground mustard(decided not to add this)
1/4 tsp Pepper
4 cups shredded Cheese..use all one kind or several kinds
I always add my seasonings in with my milk before hand so that I don't need to worry about measuring it out when everything is needing to be added. If you havent done so,cook your pasta;drain and set aside. In a medium pan over medium heat melt butter and add onions.Cook for 2-3 mins until they become semi translucent. Add the flour;cook for 1-2 mins stirring constantly..DO NOT let it turn brown or burn. Stir in milk and seasonings: cook stirring frequently until mixture boils and becomes thick. Stir in cheese and turn off the heat. Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and mix. Pour this mixture in the greased casserole dish; sprinkle topping all over and bake for 35 mins or until bubbly and hot in the middle. On a side note I also didnt add in the onions but all the recipes out there call for them. We arent big onion eaters at all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cocoa Brownies

Once and awhile I crave brownies. It isnt often though because they are always a little bit on the decadent side to me. I can eat one and I'm happy for the next 6 months. It was time again to make a batch when a very nice blogger by the name of Decora sent me a kilos worth of dutch cocoa in thanks for something I sent her. I've never baked with unsweetened cocoa before and now I understand the wonderful flavor of it. So thank you Decora! This brownie recipe is super simple and there are probably a thousand better recipes out there..but this works for us. Feel free to add in another cups worth of whatever you like..m&m's,nuts,peanutbutter chips. I added in 1/2 cup of creamy peanutbutter to ours and we loved it.
Cocoa Brownies
1/2 cup Butter.melted
1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1 additional cup of whatever you want in there.
Preheat oven to 350 or 180celcius. Grease 8 inch sqaure pan and set aside. In medium bowl combine melted butter and cocoa and stir until cocoa is dissolved. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each one. Stir in vanilla, flour and salt and mix until you no longer see flour(make sure to NOT overmix). Stir in the additional ingredients of whatever you like,mixing in and then spread into the pan. Bake for 25 mins making sure to not overbake. I tend to like mine a little on the underdone side and by the time it cools off it has finished baking on the inside. 25 mins worked for us with having the toothpick inserted in the middle coming out jsut about done. Cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream or alone.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Maple Apple Crisp

I'm a fairly big fan of apple crisp. I have weird issues with hot apples but there is something really good and comforting about a bowl full of apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. I must admit though that I get bored with the same cinnamon,nutmeg flavor and every so often I will stray away from the original and try something new. Then I am always reminded that it isnt always a good thing to mess with what you consider to be ok in the first place. I was drawn in by the Maple in the title. I quickly went down stairs and set out to make it. The topping isnt your traditional crisp in the sense that it's not really crispy at all,more soft but equally tasty in my opinion..and I think alot of that had to do with the amount of butter that it called for. I added flour to the apples after I cut them to soak up some of the maple syrup in hopes that it would thicken it up a bit. The recipe calls for Real Maple Syrup,however I cant stand the taste of it and used regular maple syrup that I picked up at an american food store in Amsterdam. When the timer went off I noticed that it was really runny and the topping hadnt browned up so I left it in 15 mins longer. By then the juices had thickened up a bit and the topping had a nice brown color to it. I let it sit for awhile and tasted it. I was super disapointed that the maple syrup didnt come threw more. It still has a very nice flavor with just a hint of maple but I was hoping for a little more. My husband said he loved it this way and prefered for it to not be over powering with the maple. My two sons actually licked their plates clean so all in all it wasnt a total failure but not something I would make twice. I wasnt turned off by the runny juices in went really well with the vanilla ice cream. It was a nice change but Im moving on to something else.
Maple Apple Crisp
5 Granny Smith apples;peeled,cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Oats
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
Heat oven to 375 degrees or 190 celcius. In a bowl combine the butter,flour,oats and brown sugar mixing until it resembles a crumb type mixture;set aside. In a 8x8 inch pan spread the apples and pour maple syrup over the top and mix until all apples are coated. Sprinkle topping over the apples and place into oven. Cook for 35 mins or until the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Crock Pot Marinated Chicken

I had made a crockpot meatloaf the other day and decided not to blog about it. The reason being is that it was the first and last time I will ever make one in the crockpot as long as I live. There is something really gross about cooking raw meat in it's own fatty juices all day and when you take it out it has a thick layer of fat underneath the meat..eewww! I've never had that with anything else I have cooked in a crockpot and I will never forget it either.

I found this recipe from another website and decided to give it a go. The trick with this recipe is to make sure you marinate the chicken overnight. It keeps the meat super moist and it makes all the difference in my opinion. I made the mistake of pairing this chicken with nasi rice wich wasnt good at all. You have two totally different flavors begging for your attention. What this chicken cries out for is either asian noodles or fried rice. I ended up going back into the kitchen and pouring some of the marinate juice over it all and then it was perfect. I used a teenie weenie chicken since I have yet to find a fatty here so mine was done in 3 hours. I will give you the original time although I need to say that alot of people complained on the website saying it was to long of a time and was done in about 4 hours. So keep that in mind if you decide to make this.
Crockpot Marinated Chicken
1 (3lb whole chicken),skin removed
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Honey
1 tspn Worcestershire Sauce
2 tspns Balsamic Vinegar
2 tspns Lemon Juice
1 tspn Sesame Oil
2 tspns minced Garlic
Remove skin from chicken and empty inner cavity of contents within. Pat dry and place in a bowl or large zip lick bag. In a bowl combine all other ingredients and mix well. Pour over chicken and marinate overnight,turning once or twice. Place chicken in crock pot,pour juice over the top..making sure the breast side is down,cover and cook on low 8 or high 4 hours. The first time you make this I would really watch to see how long it takes or you could come home to a seriously dried up chicken.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm in love..

Oh my I am so happy. Back home I was the crock pot queen. I used it several times a week and just loved it. When we moved to the netherlands everyone I came in contact with had never heard of a crock pot. I was so down about that. After a year of being here a friend spotted one and told me about it. I went down with my husband a few days ago and happily plunked over the to big amount in my opinion and bought it! It's a 6.5 liter and has a LCD screen and comes with 3 settings. I have visions of soups and stews and roasts and just everything cooking in there. Stay tuned for crock pot recipes!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Spicy Potato Wedges

I realise this isnt the most attractive photo but that shouldn't stop you from trying this recipe. If you are looing for a side dish of potatoes with a "kick" then this is for you. I made homemade sloppy joe's lastnight and this went perfect with it. I have stopped telling my youngest son what certain ingredients are when Im cooking and the result has been him cleaning his plate and asking for seconds for the past year. This isnt so spicy that you cant serve it to kids but if they do have an issue with it then by all means possibly leave some of the ingredients out. I didnt put the Cayenne pepper in it but only because we didn't have any.
Spicy Potato Wedges
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 TBLSPN Chili Powder
2 tspns. Onion Powder
2 tspns. Garlic Salt
1 tspn. Sugar
1 tspn. Paprika
3/4 tspn. Salt
1/4 to 1/2 tspns. Cayenne Pepper
3 1/2 lbs. Large Red Potatoes,cut into wedges( I used regular potatoes instead)
In a lrge bowl combine the first 8 ingredients; add potatoes and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees or 200 celcius for 30-35mins or until potatoes are tender and golden brown,turning once. Serves 4-5. I put all of mine on one sheet and baked it for close to an hour.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Taco Bell Sauce

One of the fast food places we miss is Taco Bell..well my husband and oldest son miss it more than I do. They loved the quesadillas there and although I can make my own we still missed the special sauce that came along with it. I searched online for a copy cat recipe and found one that got really good reviews. I made it lastnight and my husband loved it. He said it had the right amount of kick that the original had. I tried some aswell and thought it was pretty good. I am not a fan of overly spicey sauces or food so it took one normal size bottled water for me to eat half of a quesadilla. So all you expats out there who are missing Taco Bell give this a try at home.

Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce
1/4 cup Mayonaise
2 tsp minced Jalapeno slices
2 tsp Jalapeno juice..from the jar
3/4 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/8tsp. Garlic Powder
Dash of salt.
** Mix all together and spread on either one or two of your soft tacos and then make you quesadilla as normal. If you want to re create a taco bell quesadilla it calls for steak or chicken and one cup each of cheddar cheese and monterey jack. You also need 2 slices of american cheese or more cheese if you dont want to use those. I havent tried it this way yet but we plan to. The sauce makes enough for two quesadillas or more if you go less on the sauce.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vanilla Cupcakes

For the most part I avoid my children's school like the plague. I don't believe I need to be hovering over them all the time and honestly..I couldn't stand school when I was in it so I can't imagine spending lots of time there now...don't be alarmed,I attend all parent/teacher functions and make sure my children are where they need to be learning wise. I of course believe we should all be involved when we find something that interests us. So when my youngest son came to me and said that they were having a sugar feast at school on friday I knew right away what to make!!!

My son is in the "Groene Kikkers" class wich means in english: Green Frogs. I love and collect frogs so after checking somethings online, I set out to make them. I have been hearing about Billy Reeces amazing vanilla cupcakes on several blogs and decided that since I needed a large amount I would make these. As it always happens I never have everything I need to so I end up having to make up a few things as I go along. Everything turned out fine and the cupcakes were indeed perfect! I love the very vanilla taste of these and when you pair them with Buttercream Icing..well you are in for a winner. this makes a big batch..about 30 to be exact..wich is what I came away with. The recipe calls for not self rising cake flour..well I only had self rising and I ended up adding half a tablespoon of baking powder since I had to add in regular flour anyway. I didnt have whole milk,but used 2% instead and still everything worked out fine.
Billy's Vanilla Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups Cake Flour
1 1/4 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
1 TBLSPN Baking Powder
3/4 tspn Salt
1 cup unsalted Butter,cut into 1-inch cubes
4 Large Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
1 tspn Pure Vanilla Extract
** Preheat oven to 325(160-170celcius). Line cupcake pans with paper liners;set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement,combine flours,sugar,baking powder,and salt;mix on low speed until combined. Add butter,mixing until just coated with flour. On a side note I dont yet own a kitchen aid mixer and insted used my hand held one and it worked fine. In a large glass measuring cup,whisk together eggs,milk and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed,add wet ingredients in 3 parts,scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Divide batter evenly among liners,filling 2/3 full. Bake,rotating pan halfway through,until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean..about 17-20 mins(mine were done in 20) Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Yields about 30 cupcakes.