Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vanilla-Peppermint Cupcakes

Like many people these days, I have a love of cupcakes.  Individually portioned cakey, frostingy goodness...what's not to love?  Every year I decorate our tree with candy canes and usually end up throwing them away at the end of the holidays.  Wasteful, I know.  So this year, I decided to try something different and used the candy canes to MAKE food with...genius, I know.  The first round of candy canes were crushed so that I could coat my Peppermint Truffles in festive peppermint goodness :).

This second recipe that I tried comes from a bakery called Sprinkles.  Yes, I bet you've heard of them before because they basically invented the whole cupcake craze as we know it today.  But, at $3.25 each or $36/dozen it'd be an expensive (and gut busting) habit to have.  So imagine my suprise when I found a recipe to their famous Vanilla-Peppermint Cupcakes on Oprah's website!

After doing some reasearch, I realized the importance of using room temperature baking goods when the recipe specifies.  I always thought it was just to make life more difficult but really it's because room temperature butter creams easier and room temperature eggs fluff up more, resulting in a light and airy cake.  While frosting these puppies, I learned just how delicate they really are!  Definitely following  baking instructions to a T from now on!  By the way, I also might halve the frosting recipe next time as even when I felt like I was frosting each cupcake with a lot, I  still had tons leftover!  For now, I'll leave the recipe as it was originally's for the frosting lovers (like my husband!) out there!

So take a look at my finished product below and for those that were my taste testing guinea pigs, leavea comment.  Think I can sell my cupcakes?  I'll take cash, check, or credit card - thanks!

Vanilla-Peppermint Cupcakes
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Yields: 1 Dozen


For the Cupcake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk , room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg , room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites , room temperature
For the Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , firm but not cold
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar , sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp. milk

To make cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together milk and extracts; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.
To make frosting:
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the extracts and milk and beat until smooth and creamy. Do not overmix or the frosting will incorporate too much air; it should be creamy and dense, like ice cream. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if frosting does not have a spreadable consistency.
To frost:
  1. Scoop a generous amount of frosting on top of a cooled cupcake (used a heaping tablespoon...apparently this wasn't generous enough!). Hold the cupcake in one hand and with the other hand use a small offset spatula to smooth the frosting over the entire top of the cupcake. To achieve the Sprinkles look, use the length of the spatula to create large swirls around the circumference of the cupcake. Or for a more homespun and rustic quality, use the tip of the spatula to create small ridges and waves in the frosting.
  2. Be careful to handle the cupcake with care and not grip it too tightly, which can crush the delicate cake. In general, the less the cupcake is handled, the better. An experienced Sprinkles froster can frost a cupcake with only a few turns of the spatula!
  3. Top with crushed candy canes!
Source: Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes; as seen on Oprah

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan

I <3 Indian Food...and over the years I've converted Chris, too!  Our favorite Indian Restaurant ever is Ambar India in Clifton.  My cousins Jim and Kat say that it's the best they've had pleases even foodie New Yorkers!  I think that Ambar and Wok Inn Express (my Aunt's restaurant in St. Benard) are the 2 things we miss most about living in Clifton.  While this wasn't quite Ambar, I thought it was quite good!  It took way more effort than I'd like and so I'd rather drive 25 mins to go to Ambar or order from another Indian restaurant in a fix but it was the pride in knowing that I COULD make Indian food that made it worth it to me.

Chris' favorite Indian dish is Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken).  Sometimes, restaurants don't serve that dish and they suggest Chicken Tikka Masala instead.  The two seem to be very similar except that Chicken Makhani is sweeter and at Ambar has nuts and raisins (not sure if this is universal?).  So, I took the liberty to modify this recipe to make it closer to Makhani vs.Tikka it a hybrid if you will.  That's the beauty of cooking is sometimes you just find yourself inspired to give a recipe your own touch :).

As a side note, I was so excited that this recipe used ground cardamom.  After having invested in this interesting spice to make Finn Nisu Bread (or Misua as my in-laws know it as), it's just been sitting in my spice cabinet waiting to be used again.  Regarding the Garam's apparently a very common sweet/savory spice that's used in Indian food.  Since I didn't want to invest in yet ANOTHER spice not knowing if I'd ever use it again, I decided to Google for substitutes.  I also considered knocking on our neighbor's door to see if I could "borrow a tsp of spice" (they're both Indian on either side...and it's like borrowing a cup of sugar lol!).

Now, it may not be the prettiest  looking food but I assure you it was tasty.  (Yeah, just ignore the bite taken out of my naan...Chris suggested I take a photo for my blog AFTER I started eating!  I'm surprised  more wasn't gone as the aroma during cooking was devine!).  Since our grill is covered for the winter, I made the naan on an open George Foreman and then kept it warm in the oven since I could only make 2 at a time.  Thank goodness I halved the naan recipe...but even then there was so much excess!  At least I don't have to ration it like at Ambar where each piece of  plain naan is like $2.50.  There was plenty to go around and this naan had GARLIC (an upcharge at Ambar)!  Nothing like sopping up the curry sauce with some fresh naan...mmm!

Chicken Tikka Masala
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  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (omitted)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into large cubes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chili, minced (used 2 oz canned diced jalepenos; adjust heat to your preferences)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (Googled for a substitute and used 1/4 tsp ground cumin + 1/4 tsp ground coriander + 1/6 tsp ground pepper + 1/6 tsp ground cardamom + 1/6 tsp all spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Combine everything on the marinade list, including the chicken. Marinate in a plastic Ziploc gallon bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is better.)
  2. If you have a gas grill or grill pan, grill the chicken until slightly undercooked. If you have a charcoal grill, thread the chicken onto skewers first. (Or, use a skillet like I did...)
  3. Set the lightly grilled chicken aside on a plate. Melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat then add the flour. Add the garlic and jalapeño, and stir for a minute. Stir in the seasonings, sugar, and salt. Add the tomato sauce, and stir for one minute. Add the half-and-half, peanuts, and raisins, and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  4. Add the chicken to the sauce (remove it from the skewers if you did this) and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve with basmati rice and naan.
Source: modified from What's for Dinner, as seen on A Taste of Home Cooking

Printer-Friendly Version

Prep Time: 30 Min
Cook Time: 7 Min
Ready In: 3 Hrs
Yields: 14 Pieces

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside in a warm place (used warm oven) to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  3. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
  4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.  Store cooked naan in a warm oven while cooking the rest, if desired.
Source: All Recipes

Monday, December 21, 2009

Assorted Truffles  These are DELICIOUS!  Rich and melt-in-your-mouth...look and taste like the pros made them...and probably a bazillion calories (so good thing you can only eat a little before the richness is too much!).  But here's the kicker...truffles are actually really EASY to make!  I was pleasantly surprised :).  I'm pretty sure that these and cakeballs will be staple desserts year round.  The beauty of it is that the possibilities are endless and can be changed to match the season.  I considered doing egg nog truffles (substitute the heavy cream with egg nog and spike it with rum) and strawberry (add strawberry preserves) but those got the axe because I don't like egg nog and strawberry felt to Spring for me.  Perhaps Strawberry for Valentine's Day ;).

What follows is a picture of my finished truffles and rough estimates of the flavorings and toppings that I added to create each. 

Family - Be prepared for these delicious morsels to rock your world on Christmas Day.  PS:  Stephen I took special care to make sure that the flavors stayed separated during the making process and there was minimal chance of nut contamination!

Assorted Truffles
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  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
For the Chocolate: cocoa powder for topping

For the Peppermint Crunch: 1/2 tsp peppermint extract for ganache; 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes for topping

For the French Vanilla Coffee: 1 1/2 tsp powdered Folgers French Vanilla Cappucino mix OR 3/4 tsp instant coffee + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract for ganache; powdered sugar for topping

For the Peanut Butter Chocolate: 1 Tbsp peanut butter for ganache; 1/2 cup crushed peanuts for topping

  1. Bring the cream and sugar to a boil over low heat, pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth.
  2. Separated mine into different bowls; one for each flavor.
  3. Add respective flavoring to ganache and then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight)
  4. Use melon ball scoop or spoon to scoop out some ganache.  Roll (using fingertips) into walnut size balls.  (You don't want to handle  the ganache too much because it will melt and make your hands a mess.  It's okay at this point to be a bit misshapen because you can reshape it after it's rolled in the topping.)
  5. Optional: If desired, freeze balls at this point and then prepare chocolate coating in double broiler.  To coat, dip ball in chocolate using a fork.  Sprinkle desired topping over tuffle and then place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and put in fridge to set.
  6. Roll in desired topping and chill until ready to serve.
Source: A Christine's Kitchen Chronicles Original inspired by Sing For Your Supper

Tacos in Pasta Shells

I'm a little behind on posting recipes.  This one was made for dinner last week.  Wanted Mexican but didn't want to go the old stand-by Taco Salad route.  This one sounded interesting so thought I'd give it a try. I figured anything pasta has to be good :).  It was pretty good but a little more effort than I would have liked so probably wouldn't make the regular rotation.  Still looking for that perfect weeknight Mexican dinner!

Tacos in Pasta Shells
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Prep Time: 30 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Ready In: 1 Hr 
Yields: 6 Servings


  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 18 jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups salsa, divided
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips (omitted)
  • 1 cup sour cream (used non-fat plain yogurt)
  • onions, diced (optional)
  • black olives, sliced (optional)
  • tomatoes, diced (optional)
  • jalepenos, sliced (optional)
  • lettuce, sliced (optional)

  1. In a large skillet, brown beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add cream cheese, 1/2 cup salsa, salt and chili powder; mix and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Toss cooked shells in butter.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Pour about 1/2 cup of salsa into botom of 9x13 baking dish.  Fill shells with beef mixture and arrange in baking dish; pour remaining salsa over shells. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove dish from oven and top with Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese and tortilla chips; return dish to oven to cook for 15 minutes more.
  6. Top with miscellaneous taco toppings and serve.
Source: Modified from All Recipes

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Sandwich Cremes

I had some cream leftover after making the Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie and even a Penne a la Vodka dinner so I decided to make some Christmas cookies.  Turns out that I had copied a recipe from Chris' mom that I liked and used cream so it was a perfect use of my leftover cream and leftover butter.  My favorite part about this cookie is how it's bite sized and it just melts in your mouth! 

I didn't have a rolling pin or a round cookie cutter/small glass so I ended up just rolling balls and smooshing them down.  They didn't end up being perfect looking for this reason but it makes it look more homemade :).  I brought a lot of the cookies to work for my co-workers to eat (so Chris and I wouldn't eat them all!).  They were gone by noon so I'd say the verdict is it was good!

Christmas Sandwich Cremes
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Yields: 4 dozen cookies


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Food coloring

  1. In a small bowl, combine the butter, cream and flour. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
  2. Divide into thirds; let one portion stand at room temperature for 15 minutes (keep remaining dough refrigerated until ready to roll out). On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a 1-1/2-in. round cookie cutter. Place cutouts in a shallow dish filled with sugar; turn to coat. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Prick with a fork several times. Bake at 375° for 7-9 minutes or until set. Cool on wire racks.
  3. For filling, in a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Tint with food coloring. Spread about 1 teaspoon filling over half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.
Source: Country Woman November/December 1998, p40 as seen on Taste of Home and Mary Lynn's recipe box

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

After making Roast Chicken for dinner I decided to save the carcass.  At first I intended to give it to my mom but I forgot to bring it when I went to visit over the weekend.  So, I decided I'd use it myself to create some Chicken Noodle Soup.  I started out with the intent of making Chris' Grandma B's recipe but then as I tasted the broth created by the carcass I decided it would be a shame to cover up all that wonderful natural chicken flavor with fake chicken.  This resulted in my winging the recipe (no pun intended).  Here's another original recipe.  Nothing like a steamy bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup to feed the soul!

Chicken Noodle Soup
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  • 1 picked over 3-4lb roasted chicken carcass with bits of meat and skin attached
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • Cold water
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • 3-4 stalks cerelry, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried savory
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb egg noodles
  1. Place chicken carcass in large stockpot.  Add enough cold water to cover the carcass.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer gently for at least 1 hour (longer for a stronger broth).  Discard bones and if desired, strain broth through a mesh sieve to remove smaller particles.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to stock pot and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  3. In a separate pot, boil egg noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  4. When ready to serve, put some noodles in a bowl and then ladle soup over the top.
Source: A Christine's Kitchen Chronicles Original

Monday, December 14, 2009

Foodie Blog Roll

I've added my favorite food blogs to the list on the right.  I am much inspired by these blogs and hope you will be too!  Please feel free to add me to your food blog roll and if you think you have a Food Blog that you think i'd enjoy, please leave a comment so I can check you out!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Yes, it's as delicious as the title makes it is an apple pie, it is cheesecake, it is awesome!

Be sure to put aside a good chunk of time to make this. Quite possibly the most complex dessert I've ever made as every component was made from scratch.  Sure, you can use store bought crust, store bought apple pie filling, store bought cheesecake mix, store bought whipped cream, and store bought caramel...but that defeats the purpose!  It was oh so worth the effort and the calories!!!  And I can't believe how pretty it ended up looking (yup, that's my actual pie in that pic down there) :).

This was complimented deliciously at dinner club with Emily's homemade Caramel Apple Ice Cream (which, the pairing was not at all coordinated...great minds just think alike!).

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
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For the crust:
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (About 21 graham crackers, crushed)
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • ½-¾ cup caramel (store bought or recipe below)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
For the caramel:
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
For the apple filling:
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
For the cheesecake:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the topping:
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 3-4 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
  • ¼-½ cup caramel (store bought or recipe below)
  • Chopped pecans
  1. To make the caramel sauce, combine the butter, heavy cream and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium and continue to boil until the mixture is thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.
  3. To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling. Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell. Set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  5. To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.) Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer. Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.
Source: Annie's Eats

Iced Sugar Cookies

I've never made Holiday cookies and so I wanted to try my hand at them.  I brought a plate full to dinner club, despite the fact that they didn't fit the apple colored, maybe :).  These were supposed to be cut-out sugar cookies but I was having technical difficulties so they became round cookies instead.  Tasted delicious either way.  A nice soft sugar cookie with beautiful shiny icing!  I had fun playing with different decorations, as you'll see below  :).

Iced Sugar Cookies
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Yields: About 48 cookies (2.5 to 3 inches diameter)


For the cookies:
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
For the icing:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp almond extract (used vanilla extract because my brother is allergic)
  • Assorted food coloring
  1. To make the cookies - In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cover and chill dough at least one hour (but overnight is best).  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using hands, rolldough between hands to create balls about 1 to 1.5 inches thick.  Place ball on ungreased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper) and flatten ball to about 1/4" to 1/2" thick.  Bake 6-8 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.
  2. To make the icing - In a medium bowl add milk then mix in powdered sugar.  Stir until smooth.  Using an electric mixer, beat in corn syrup and almond extract until smooth and glossy.  Icing should be pretty thick so it doesn't run off cookie but if you find icing is too thick to dip, add more corn syrup.  Divide into bowls and add desired food coloring to each.  Dip front of cookies into icing and lay flat to dry until icing has hardened.
Source: cookies and icing recipes modified from All Recipes

Friday, December 11, 2009

Spicy Rapid Roast Chicken

I took the day off of work today because I had 7 vacation days left and only need 6 days to do the 2 full weeks of Holiday stretch.  This Friday happened to work better for me than next to take off and it also gave me the chance to do most of my Christmas shopping.  As I was running my errands and making a nice dinner I realized this is what it must be like to be a Homemaker/SAHM (Stay at Home Mom...without the kids part ha!).  It was kind of nice for a change of pace but I could see how it would wear its novelty out eventually.

For tonight's dinner, I chose to do a roasted chicken.  Kroger sells whole chickens for $0.88lb which makes it an inexpensive meal.  It was dee-lish!  And, it only took like an hour to cook which means with a little overnight prep, it could be a regular week night meal if we so choose.  Rapid roast, indeed!  I have quite of bit of meat leftover and was thinking of either making more chicken pot pie, chicken a la king, or Chinese congee (or jook as my family likes to call it).  I even saved the carcass...which I'll probably give to mom and have HER make me jook instead lol.

Spicy Rapid Roast Chicken
Printer-Friendly Version

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 1 Hr
Ready In: 1 Hr 30 Min
Yields: 8 Servings

  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Rinse chicken thoroughly inside and out under cold running water and remove all fat. Pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Put chicken into a small baking pan. Rub with olive oil. Mix the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, paprika and cayenne pepper together and rub underneath and outside chicken skin.
  4. Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Lower the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and continue roasting 40 minutes, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C).
  6. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes and serve.
Source: Modified from All Recipes

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Banana Pancakes

Sometimes you just feel like having breakfast for dinner...

I had some overripe bananas and didn't want to make the same old banana bread or muffins.  There was a banana caramel cupcake recipe that sounded appealing from Annie's Eats but that sounded too ambitious for tonight...and cupcakes can't be eaten as a full meal!  So, banana pancakes for dinner, it was.

Banana Pancakes
Printer-Friendly Version

Prep Time: 5 Min
Cook Time: 10 Min
Ready In: 15 Min
Yields: 12 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil and bananas.
  2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.
Source: All Recipes

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chinese Chicken Corn Soup

I don't cook much Chinese food even though I'm Chinese.  And, probably have mentioned it before that I don't even really like rice all that much...I guess you could say I'm a bit strange like that.  Anyway, this is a favorite of mine when we go to restaurants and since my family doesn't so much keep written recipes I was on my own for this one given some inspiration from the internet and my recollection of how it should taste.  I hope you enjoy this original.

Chinese Chicken Corn Soup
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Cook Time: About 30 minutes
Yields: About 6 bowls?

  • 2 (14 ounce) cans reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 (14.75 ounce) cans cream-style corn
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 egg whites 
  • Green onions, sliced
  1. In a medium stock pot combine water, broth, and chicken.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and add onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper.  Simmer about 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. 
  2. Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool slightly.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred or cut into bite size pieces.
  3. While the chicken is cooling, in a small bowl mix together the corn starch and about 1/4 cup of the broth.  Mix until no lumps remain and then add the cornstarch mixture to the stock pot.  Bring mixture back to boil and stir constantly until well mixed.
  4. Add the creamed corn and chicken pieces to the broth then season soup with sesame oil.
  5. Reduce heat and slowly add egg white while swirly the soup with a fork to break the egg pieces apart.  The eggs should cook and form strings similar to egg drop soup.
  6. Serve hot and garnish with green onions.  
Source: A Christine's Kitchen Chronicles Original

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cincinnati Style Chili

Anybody that knows me would know that I am a HUGE fan of Skyline Chili.  Eating Skyline is seriously a ritual for me: While waiting for my order to arrive, dash a bit of hot sauce on the oyster crackers and eat a few.  The 3-way quickly arrives (sometimes half vegetarian (black beans & rice mixture)...which often confuses the waitresses!) and I first eat the shredded cheese off the top until a thin melty layer remains, then cover the dish with lots of hot sauce, then cut the noodles into a column followed buy cutting that column into a row, eat a square of delishness, repeat until all that remains is a bit of chili juice on the plate.  Ahhh.  Heaven. 

I always joke that one reason that I could never move away from Cincinnati would be that I would have Skyline withdrawal.  Sure, you can buy Skyline in a can or frozen but it's not the same.  Even further off from the real deal but still good in its own way is the powdered Cincinnati-style chili mixes.  There's something about the consistency of the chili at the restaurant (velvety smooth and not too runny!) and the huge and flavorful mound of Skyline cheese (yes, I swear they have their own special cheese!) that really makes the dish.

Tonight, I tried my hand at making Cincinnati Style Chili from scratch.  I found several recipes and this just might be a series of posts until my quest for the best recipe is complete.  (If you have one you love, please share!).  This particlar one was good but not GREAT.  Very similar to the Cincinnati-Style (Blue) Powder packets that you can buy in the local groceries but with a weaker spice in my opinion.  Definitely NOT Skyline.  Alas, that secret recipe lies with the Lambrinides Family...if only I had thought of asking them to share it with me when they were my parent's neighbors!

Brief tutorial for Cincinnati Chili Virgins (ha, no pun intended!):
One-way: Chili only
Two-Way: Spaghetti noodles topped with chili.
Three-Way: Spaghetti noodles, chili, finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
Four-Way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, and red kidney beans OR finely chopped white onions
Five-Way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans AND onion.
Coney: Mini hot dog in a bun with chili; mustard and onions optional.
Cheese Coney: Mini hot dog in a bun with chili and shredded cheddar cheese; mustard and onions optional.
Pizza: Not really a traditional usage but sometimes I like to mix things up a bit.  You can use a regular pizza dough and top it with chili for the sauce.  Top with cheddar cheese, onions, and cut up hot dog pieces.

Cincinnati Style Chili
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Photo credit: Delicious Melicious

Yields: 6 pints

  • 3 lbs. lean hamburger, DO NOT BROWN!
  • 2 qts. water
  • 2 lg. onions, finely chopped
  • 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 5 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate squares (or 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 10 drops Tabasco sauce
  1. In a large pot whisk together hamburger, water and onions until beef is broken up; Turn stove on and bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Then add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 2 or 3 hours, uncovered.
  3. Serve it your way, as per tutorial above.
Source: Modified from Delicious Melicious