Thursday, June 30, 2011

Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes

4th of July is right around the corner!  I already shared a mayo-free Herbed Potato Salad recipe earlier this week that would be great for your celebratory picnic but no meal is complete with dessert.  If it were up to my husband, a 3 course meal would consist of the courses: cookies, cakes, and ice cream!

This festive cupcake is quite easy to make and reapplicable to any holiday's colors.  Dye the blue batter green instead and suddenly, you've made Christmas Cupcakes.  Dress them up with shades of pink and maybe purple for Valentine's Day.  The possibilities are endless and this cake base is to die for!  It's moist with a tender crumb.  Deee-licious!

PS: I apolgize for the not-so-great photo.  We nearly forgot to take one before they were all gobled up and I actually made these for last year's 4th of July when my photo skills just flat out sucked (but hey, with practice, we all get better!)...

Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes
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For the Cupcakes
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 For the Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes:
  1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the buttermilk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the buttermilk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating. For red, white and blue cupcakes: Separate the cake batter into 3 different bowls. Add blue food coloring (I use gel) to one bowl, the red to another, and leave the third bowl as is. Using a small spoon, fill each cupcake liner with a small, even layer of blue, then white, then red on top. 
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to cooling racks and cool completely before frosting them.
For the Frosting
  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading or piping consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.
Source: Cupcakes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours and Frosting from Magnolia Bakery as seen on Sing for Your Supper

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Herbed Potato Salad

Do you cringe at the meer mention of potato salad because it conjures up images of heavy mayonnaise laden caloric nightmares?  Or, do you fear the potato salad because said mayo laden food has been sitting out at the family picnic for who knows how long?  Fear no more, friends.  Fear no more.

Just say no to calorie bombs and food-poisoning threats.  This potato salad is none of that.  In fact, this potato salad's flavor actually comes through more when it's room-temperature rather than cold.  This is the potato salad of the 21st century.  Fresh and light yet still packed with pure flavor.  Use FRESH herbs in this dish and you'll thank me.  It's a winner.

Herbed Potato Salad

Herbed Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 lb potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • fresh dill, finely chopped
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • garlic, minced (optional)
  • fresh lemon juice (optional)
  1. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes in bit-size pieces. Boil them in lightly salted water until fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Take care not to overcook.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 3 tbsp (extra virgin) olive oil with 1 tbsp white wine vinegar.  If desired, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for extra freshness and acidity.  Pour in 2 tbsp chicken or vegetable broth, 1/2 a tsp Dijon mustard, and garlic if desired then whisk away. The vinaigrette will become thicker. Add the finely chopped fresh dill and parsley to the vinaigrette and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
  3. Drain the potatoes, let them steam-dry for a few minutes and then add them to the dressing while they’re still hot so they'll take on the flavors. Sprinkle the chopped scallions in there and let the potato salad cool off.  Serve at room temperature or cold by refrigerating until ready to serve. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

I have a cousin that is OBSESSED with Panera.  I'm talking every time she is in a city that has one it is on her "to do" list.  Sure it's a chain but who can blame her?  They do have really delicious food and chains provide great consistency no matter where you go.

This recipe is being dusted off from the archives.  It sat in the deep dark recesses of that black box that is my husband's computer hard drive for over a year before seeing the light of day again right here, right now.  You see, this time last year I was making lots of food but was lazy about blogging.  And then by the time I got time to blog, it just didn't worth doing so because the season had already changed.
Ah seasons.  This salad TOTALLY captures the spring/summer season.  It embodies all that is good about the bountiful seasonal fruits and veggies.  It is also inspired by my cousin's favorite restaurant, Panera.  Please go make this salad today.  It's a beautiful display of color bursting with natural sweetness and filled with nutrition!

Two Years Ago: Pasta Salad - This one ALWAYS gets gobbled up when I bring it to a party!

Summer Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Vinaigrette


For the dressing:
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. minced shallot
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1½ tsp. poppy seeds
For the salad:
  • Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • Strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • Blueberries
  • Mandarin orange segments
  • Fresh pineapple, cubed
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the vinegar, sugar, shallot, dry mustard, salt, mayonnaise and orange juice.  Process to blend well.  With the feed tube open and the processor on, add the vegetable oil in a steady stream and continue processing until incorporated.  Add the poppy seeds and pulse briefly just until blended.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. To make the salad, chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces.  Plate individual servings of the lettuce in salad plates.  Top each serving with strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges and pineapple cubes as desired.  Drizzle lightly with the poppy seed dressing and serve immediately.
Source: Salad from Annie's Eats; Dressing from Jamie Cooks It Up

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Singapore Mei Fun

Remember my 23 Things in 2011 list?  Yeah...totally not on track for completing that right now since April and May were totally non-productive.  Up until that point though I had been very good about making roughly 2 items off the list per month but (as usual) not as good about blogging about them in a timely manner.  The only reason I'm blogging about this particular recipe now is because my facebook fans voted on it to be my next blog post!

Singapore Mei Fun made my list of things I wanted to make this year because it is one of my favorite dishes that my mom makes.  Interestingly enough, I recently learned from an Asian Heritage Month work event that this dish isn't even authentic Sinaporean food.  Oh well.  It's delicious.  And it's easy!  I think the real secret to making a good Singapore Mei Fun (Rice Noodle) dish is the fact that the noodles are "cooked" by soaking them in water instead of boiling like your typical noodle.  A quick stir fry is all it takes to finish it off!

My mom gave me a "recipe" but as with all of our family's "recipes" they are more loose guidelines of what ingredients and generally how to make the dish.  There's not any specifics of how much or how long so that's where my Google research helped.  Thank goodness for Google to help fill in the gaps.  This was just like Mom's!

One Year Ago: Firecracker Shrimp

Singapore Mei Fun (Curry Noodles)

Singapore Mei Fun (Curry Noodles)

Yields: 4-6 servings


  • 8 ounces rice vermicelli (mei fun - check your Asian aisle at the local grocer)
  • 2 tablespoons rice cooking wine 
  • 2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 4 ounces small shrimp, shelled and deveined 
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded scallions 
  • 1 small onions, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow curry powder 
  • 3/4 cup Chicken Broth 
  • 4 ounces other meat such as Chicken, Beef, or Chinese Barbecued Pork, cut into julienne
  • 1 egg, scrambled, fried, and cut into julienne (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles in enough cold water to cover overnight, or until noodles are limp and softened. Drain in a colander and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and stir fry the chicken and/or beef until nearly cooked through.  Remove and set aside on a plate.  Add additional 1 tablespoon oil and shrimp, and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add the scallions and stir-fry 30 seconds, or until shrimp have just turned orange but are not cooked through. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, onions and green pepper, and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the curry powder and stir-fry 10 seconds, or until fragrant. Restir soy sauce mixture and swirl it into the wok. Add the chicken broth, and 1/3 cup cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Add the drained rice noodles and return to a boil, stirring noodles to completely coat in curry mixture (chopsticks work best for this!). Add the meat mixture, and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, or until shrimp are just cooked through and liquid has been absorbed by the noodles. Add the cooked egg, if desired.  Serve immediately.
Source: Inspired by my Mom and The Wisdom of the Chinese Recipe. Published by Scribner, 1999.  As seen in an Cooking Light message board.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recipe Swap: Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

If you're a lover of pancakes or just breakfast in general I highly encourage you to check out this week's recipe swap recap at A Taste of Home Cooking.  There were copious amounts of pancake recipes that were submitted along with a few other delicious goodies!  Breakfast for dinner?  Yes please.

Originally Jey submitted her Baked Eggs in Pastry Puff recipe for me to make but realized that this egg prominent dish would be a no-go with Chris.  Though I had planned on making it for myself and then making him something separate Jey was kind enough to swap out this pancake recipe for me to make instead.  It was yummy and quick to make (as is the beauty of breakfast foods!) though I think I was expecting a fluffier texture to be imparted from the sour cream.  I left out the lemon zest because I forgot to get a lemon from the store but did use some bottled lemon juice instead.  Next time, I think I'll either use more ripe bananas or more sugar because I'm used to my pancakes being sweeter than this was.  Another possibility would be to use non-lite syrup ;).

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I submitted these French Toast Cups with Sausage and Apples.  Mmm!

Two Years Ago: Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
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Yields: 12 pancakes


  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 3 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Sour Cream
  • 3/4 Cup plus 1 Tbsp. Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • Zest of 1 Lemon (omitted)
  • 2 Bananas, diced
  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest.  Slowly add the dry mix to the wet ingredients and mix to combine, then stir in bananas.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Spoon batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Flip and cook an additional minute.  Continue, working in batches, until all batter is used.  Serve with sliced bananas and maple syrup. 
Source: Slightly adapted by and as seen on Jey of Cooking from Ina Garten on the Food Network