Friday, August 10, 2012
Posted by squillen at 4:26 PM
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I don't know many people who don't love cupcakes. These individual serving sized treats are perfect for someone who would like to splurge a little, but not overindulge.
I make cupcakes whenever I go to my scrapbook weekends. I take two varieties and these deliciously moist, Southern Caramel Cupcakes were the ones I took just recently to a crop. A light, buttery cake topped with homemade caramel and a candied pecan. Could you get any more southern than that?
These take time to make -- at least, the caramel does. So make sure you give yourself ample time. Whomever you make these cupcakes for, they will love you for it! Enjoy!
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups cake flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Your batter at this point will be really light and fluffy.
In a bowl, mix together all your dry ingredients. In a measuring cup, put your milk and vanilla.
Alternating, add some dry ingrediens and then some of the wet. Do this until all has been added and mixed in. Your batter should be slightly thick, but fluffy like frosting.
Using a large cookie scoop, scoop your batter into paper lined muffin tins. Bake at 350* for approx 15 minutes. When a toothpick inserted comes out clean, remove from the oven and dump onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.
Homemade Caramel Topping
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, put 4 cups sugar and 1 cup butter (cut up into pieces) and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the butter/sugar begins to turn a caramel color. (Approx. 10 minutes)
When the sugar turns a deep amber, add 2 cans evaporated milk (Pet brand preferred) and 1 tsp sea salt (no substitutions). Whisk until smooth. It might take a few minutes, but as the milk heats up, the sugar will dissolve.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and lower the heat a smidge to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When your candy thermometer reaches 245*, pull the pot from the heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. Mix in well.
If you have a stand mixer, pour the hot caramel into your mixing bowl and using the paddle attachment, beat on slow for 30 minutes, or until the caramel becomes thick and is spreadable. Let sit again for 30 minutes.
Spoon some caramel onto each cupcake. Using a knife or small offset spatula, spread the caramel around to cover the surface of each cake.
*NOTE: Do not let this caramel sit too long otherwise it will set up too much and won't spread out as easily - and you could pull up the top of your cake.
Put 2 cups pecan halves in a skillet and add 1/2 cup sugar. Over medium heat, keep stirring the pecans and sugar around until the sugar melts and coats the pecans. It will turn an amber color like the caramel. When it does, remove from the heat immediately and dump the coated pecans onto a piece of foil or on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Allow to cool, then break up into pieces.
*NOTE: These can be made up days in advance. Store in an air-tight container until ready to use.
Posted by squillen at 10:36 AM
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I love short ribs, but whenever I make them, I always go to my go to recipe with tomatoes, red wine, Italian herbs and all that good stuff. It's always an Italian dish! I decided to try something new. While searching around the internet, I came across a recipe for chile rubbed short ribs, which gave it a more Latin/South American flavor. Something I definitely wanted to try.
With short ribs, you need to make them well ahead of time. They take 4 hours to braise in the oven to ensure the sinew has broken down and for the fat to render completely. Do it properly, and you'll have a finished product that's juicy and tender and mouthwateringly delicious!
There are a lot of components to this dish and while it may look awfully fancy in my picture, it's really not. In fact, I would even consider this dish something a beginner could easily make. So if you're feeling intimidated, don't!
Step 1: SHORT RIBS
Put chile powder and salt in a bowl (2:1 ratio). Generously coat all of the short ribs and set aside. If you can, do this step the night before so they can soak in all that smoky chile flavor.
Put some oil in a large dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. When hot, put in your short ribs and sear all sides of the pieces. If all of your short ribs didn't fit in the pan, sear some and then put them on a plate. Repeat searing the remaining ribs. Place all seared ribs back into the dutch oven.
Add to your pot:
1 1/2 cups red wine (a good Spanish wine would be fantastic for this)
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 Spanish onion, sliced
1 lime, cut in half, squeeze juice into the pot and drop the lime into the pot
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 can green chiles, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
Put the lid on and pop this into a preheated 250* oven. Cook for 4 hours.
Step 2: PICKLED ONIONS
Peel and thinly slice 1 red onion. Put in a large ziploc with 1/2 cup warm water, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Seal up the ziploc, removing as much air as possible. Pop in the fridge and let sit. This step can be done a day in advance to give your onions more time to pickle.
Step 3: SOPES
Sopes are these lovely little fried corn pancakes. They have a hint of sweetness that pairs well with the robust short rib.
In a bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups masa (I used Maseca), 1 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp salt.
In a saucepan, put 2 1/2 cups milk and heat to boiling. Once boiling, turn off the burner and add 1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces.
When the butter has completely melted, pour the hot milk into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes for the masa to absorb the liquid.
If you have an electric griddle, use it. If you don't, you can use a skillet over medium heat. Heat your griddle to 350*. Drizzle the hot griddle with oil or melted butter. Use a 2 Tbsp cookie scoop and scoop blobs of batter onto your griddle surface. Take a metal spatula and carefully press down each blob to make a little pancake. (I did have to coat the back of my spatula with some butter so the dough wouldn't stick to it.) Cook for 6 minutes on each side. When they're golden brown on both sides, remove and set aside. Repeat until all the batter is cooked up.
Step 4: PLATE!
When all of your steps are done, it's time to plate.
Begin by placing your sopes down first. I used spring greens and layed them down on top of each sope. Then I put a piece of short rib meat on top of that! Crumble a little Cotija cheese on top of that, then drizzle with some Mexican Crema. The final step is placing some of those pickled onions as the garnish.
Voila! So simple. So SO delicious. Your family will be amazed by your mad culinary skills! Enjoy!
Posted by squillen at 9:02 PM
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Posted by squillen at 3:58 PM
Monday, June 11, 2012
In recent months, I have made a pledge to myself and to my family to cook healthier meals. I'm the one who has made this commitment, but you'll notice I use some unhealthy things - because my family would revolt if we went 100%. Baby steps, people.. baby steps.
We love Asian food. My husband has been to Thailand many times and he is usually all over anything Chinese, Thai, Japanese.. you name it.
When I was at the commissary, I bought this bottle of something called PB2 (see image below). It's basically the pulverized remains that are usually discarded after they make peanut butter. It's 85% less fattening than regular peanut butter, but you still get all the protein benefits -- and right now, I'm doing this protein forward diet so I'm all over this stuff!
Not only is this dish HEALTHIER than it's original, it's tasty and I swear, your family won't even notice the difference. At least my family didn't until I told them there was no sugar in this dish and it was less fattening.
Now on to the recipe!
In a bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup PB2
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 packet (2-3 tsp) Splenda
1/4 tsp chili oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Mix all ingredients together and set aside.
For the main component of the dish, I used:
3 chicken breasts, cut against the grain, into strips
1/2 cup green onion, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped or julienne
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and grated
2-3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup peanuts
I also added some peas, but you can add whatever vegetables you want.
Heat your wok until it starts smoking. Add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and saute the chicken with 2 cloves garlic, minced and 1 tsp fresh ginger root, peeled and grated. I also added the red bell pepper, since they take some time to cook. If you use broccoli, add in the beginning.
When the chicken is almost cooked through, dump all the peanut sauce into the center of the wok. Stir until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken. Add cilantro, green onion, carrots, and peanuts at this time. Remove from the heat and serve with rice or noodles (if you want).
This will make enough food for 6 people. Enjoy!
Posted by squillen at 8:37 PM
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
There's a restaurant near us that I absolutely love. It's classy and swank and the food has always been excellent. You should see their brunch buffet!!!! One of my favorite dishes there is a grilled Cubano skirt steak. It's actually an Asian-Latin fusion dish because they put a spicy Thai Tamarind sauce on top.
I decided to try and recreate this recipe once and was very pleased with the results. (verrrrryyy pleased!)
First, you want to make sure you use the right cut of meat. Skirt steak. It's also referred to as hangar steak. It comes from the belly of a cow and is a very thin cut. It has a ton of flavor all on it's own, but it's not particularly tender on it's own so I like to marinade it. I wouldn't replace with flank steak. Flank steak is thicker and you won't get the same results. Trust me.
Here's a diagram of where the skirt steak comes off a cow!
Posted by squillen at 8:48 AM
Monday, May 21, 2012
Paige was craving shrimp last night and I didn't want to make scampi or any kind of pasta dish. I normally make this dish without the shrimp, but thought it would be delicious in this.
This will make enough for 4 people, depending on how big a serving you want. It's easy to add a little more here and there to adjust for a larger group.
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
6-8 new red potatoes, large dice
1 large onion, sliced
1 lb chorizo sausage, sliced in half, then sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water and salt. Bring to boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and cool.
In a skillet, heat about 3-4 Tbsp olive oil. When it's hot, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Let the potatoes get some color on them. Add the chorizo and shrimp. Cook and stir occasionally to make sure all the shrimp cooks. When the shrimp is light pink, remove the pan from the burner. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if needed.
In a medium sized saucepan, put 3-4 cups water and 3-4 Tbsp vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so it is no longer boiling. You can have this water ready and waiting on the side so your hash doesn't get cold while waiting for this to get to temp.
When your water is good and hot, take a wooden spoon and swirl the water to make a little whirlpool. Have an egg already broken in a bowl and quickly, but carefully pour directly into the center of the whirlpool. This helps the white swirl into the center. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to dry.
Dish up some hash and put the egg on top. Use a vegetable peeler and shave some manchego cheese on top. Manchego is a wonderful sharp Spanish cheese that complements this Spanish influenced dish. Sprinkle chopped chives on top to give it a splash of green. Serve immediately.
Posted by squillen at 7:27 PM