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cupcakes

Small Batch Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Sometimes you just want a baked treat without having to go to some expensive bakery downtown, or make a large batch of something sweet that will be tempting you for days afterwards. Hence, the convenience of small batch baking! I have tried a few red velvet recipes over the past few years and this one is my go to. I adapted it for my mug cake recipe but this small batch version is great if you’re making dessert for a small group or want to make a treat for your vegan BFF. But let’s be honest – I basically ate these myself over the span of 24 hours! lol

Tip: I used reduced fat cream cheese and my icing turned out way to soft. Taste wise it was fine, but it was so soft it was oozing down over the edges of the cupcakes. If you add too much icing sugar it becomes too sweet and you lose the cream cheese flavour. Add more butter and you risk it feeling too greasy or tasting too buttery. I tried chilling the icing and it was helped but it was difficult to get it out of the piping bag. I suggest using regular cream cheese. And the cupcakes aren’t terribly red because I try to avoid using large amounts of food colouring.

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red velvet cupcake

That’s basically my daughters craft table in the background. 🙂 Nail polish is “Wined Up” by Sally Hansen topped with Graffiti by Revlon.

Small Batch Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp oil
1 Tbsp red food colouring
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/8 tsp almond extract or extra vanilla

Directions
Preheat the oven at 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with 6-7 paper liners and grease it lightly.
In a medium size bowl, mix together the milk and vinegar allowing it to curdle. This will take about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar too.
Once the milk has curdled, stir in the oil, food color and the extracts. Whisk it well to combine.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly add the wet ingredients to it, stirring it until all the ingredients come together. Small lumps are okay. Take care to see that you do not over mix it otherwise you will not get fluffy cupcakes.
Fill each muffin tin 3/4ths full of the batter.
Bake it for about 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean or with very little crumbs is okay too. Mine were done after 17 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it remain there for 5 minutes. After that remove the cupcakes from the pan and let it cool completely before you can frost it.

I used regular cream cheese icing to decorate them but feel free to use your own favourite vegan version.

F.N. Vanilla Cupcakes + Icing Rose

I was so excited this summer when I found the May 2015 issue of the Food Network Magazine at the thrift shop. It features 50 cupcake recipes! I thought I’d give the basic vanilla cupcake recipe a try as I’m always trying to find that perfect balance of vanilla flavour and moist but light cake. I followed the recipe to a ‘t’ and used all of the batter to fill the muffin tins. Big mistake. It was way too much and the cupcakes overflowed in the pan. The edges got to crispy and the middles sank a little. I also found the cupcakes a bit to salty. The buttercream recipe was pretty basic, but I did take the opportunity to try making an icing rose. The tip I used was the next size down I believe but it still turned out fairly well. Despite the problems I still ate them up. I might try the recipe again but reduce the salt and use the extra batter to make a little cake in a ramekin or one of Miss M’s silicone bake pans. That would be really cute!

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Vanilla Cupcakes

Whisk 1 1/3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Beat 1 stick softened butter in a separate bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 1 minute. Add 1 cup sugar and beat until creamy, 4 more minutes. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, then 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture in three batches on low speed, alternating with 1/2 cup milk total. Beat on medium-high speed until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until the tops spring back, 20 to 25 minutes for vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, and 18 to 20 minutes for spice cupcakes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream

Beat 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, 3 cups confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt with a mixer on medium speed until just combined. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until creamy, 3 minutes. Beat in 2 tablespoons milk until fluffy, 1 more minute.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-cupcakes.html?oc=linkback

Video on how to make an icing rose:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4o6g29mh5Q

Chocolate Banana Muffins w/ Choc. Peanut Butter Icing

My 4 year old has decided that she no longer likes bananas so I had a couple lying around that didn’t get eaten. I poked around in Pinterest and found this recipe that I thought would be a nice change from plain banana bread. I was about 3 spoonfuls shy of 1.5 cups of mashed banana so I topped it up with apple sauce and it worked really well. The muffins are very soft and moist with a hint of banana and lots of chocolate flavour, especially with the icing. To make them a little more decadent I added Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing from Chocolate Covered Katie. So freakin’ good! And a bonus – my daughter likes them! I highly recommend these.

Tip: a whisk makes for quick banana mashing.

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Chocolate Banana Muffins

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 large)
⅓ cup oil
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1½ cups flour
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Sugar for sprinkling on tops

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine bananas, oil, egg large mixing bowl.
In a separate large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder. Add to banana mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. (Mine took 21 minutes)

Makes about 16-17 muffins if measuring with an ice cream scoop.

Source: http://www.chef-in-training.com

Low-fat Chocolate Icing + Homemade Icing Sugar

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made an awesome chocolate zucchini cake. Unfortunately, I ran out of icing sugar so I tried a homemade version in this recipe for low-fat chocolate icing. I don’t think I was able to grind my sugar enough using my blender. I’ve had it for a few years so maybe I need to sharpen the blades or something. I used the first recipe I came across but I should have known better. America’s Test Kitchen has  video on YouTube which used this formula – 1 cup of white sugar to 1 tsp cornstarch and after grinding, strain through a sieve. I’ve included this recipe below. Texture wise, in the sugar I made you could feel a few of the larger sugar granules. You can see the graininess in the cake pic. 😦 Taste wise, the resulting chocolate icing was pretty decent. A little sweet but a nice compliment to the not too sweet cake. I would definitely make it again, using store bought icing sugar!
Low fat chocolate icing

Low-fat Chocolate Icing

Yield: 2 cups
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 7 tablespoons one-percent milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Combine the powdered sugar and cocoa together in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the milk, butter, melted chocolate, and vanilla, and process until smooth.

homemade icing sugar

Homemade Icing Sugar

(powdered sugar/confectioners sugar)

1 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp of cornstarch
Grind in a blender or spice grinder until it is transformed into a fine powder, at least one minute. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any larger sugar granules. Measure and use as needed.

Master List of the BEST Cookbooks

Ever since I really started cooking non-diet food about 6 years ago, I’ve been scouring the internet, looking for the best cookbooks for the home cook. I’ve come across a ton of recommendations from many trusted sources including:  Huffington Post, Food52, Stylist, Cooking Light, Food and Wine, the Food Network, Good Housekeeping, and Chatelaine Magazine. Most of these were recommended by well known, professional chefs. I took note of when I cookbook was mentioned by more than one of these sources and made this master list. If you’re looking for a new cookbook for either yourself, or as a wedding gift, or housewarming gift, any of these would be a great choice – or perhaps the beginning of a cookbook addiction. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. 😉

Note: I apologize for the images. In the editor they look normal, but when I post they go out of whack. I have no idea how to fix them.

Joy of cooking  

Joy of Cooking

The Silver Palate Cookbook. I don’t have this one but you can find some of their more popular recipes online such as their Ratatouille or Chicken Marbella. Epicurious is a great source for recipes.

Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. This is the only one I have so far and it’s quite comprehensive, although it doesn’t have any photographs. It does have some drawings which illustrate various techniques and the inside of the covers are filled with lovely fruit and vegetable illustrations.

The Fannie Farmer cookbook. My library only had the older version and it was set aside for conservation, if I remember correctly. Here’s hoping they manage to find another one and I’ll report back later.

Julia Child: Mastering the Art of French Cooking

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I’ve made one recipe from Ina for cheddar biscuits and they were really good.

Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations.

Bouchon

James Beard’s American Cookery

The Art of Simple Food

Plenty (Vegetarian)

The Silver Spoon

The Moosewood Cookbook (vegetarian)

Baking From my Home to Yours

Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts

The New York Times Cookbook – from the New York Times I’ve made splayed chicken in a skillet and it was yummy.

How to Cook Everything. There is an app you can get with free basic recipes if  you’re curious. I’ve made a stew, no knead bread and some blondies, all of which were quite good.

The French Laundry Cookbook

Ad Hoc at Home

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This is one of the most recent cookbooks which was created by the well known blogger. There are hundreds of recipes on her blog: http://smittenkitchen.com/recipes/

Banana Bread with Choc. Peanut Frosting

Well I haven’t been posting because I haven’t really been cooking. Ten days ago I re-injured my knee. Back in high school I suffered a meniscus tear which is basically where the tissue that stabilizes the knee gets torn. This weekend, some of that tissue got lodged inside my knee and I couldn’t straighten my leg. I ended up in emergency and then I had surgery last Wednesday. I’ve been trying to stay off my knee ever since, which means packaged and frozen foods for me for the most part. I started to feel a bit better yesterday and overdid it a little, making some banana bread and later, some chickpea stew . The banana bread recipe was from Betty Crocker and I used the batter to make one loaf of bread plus 9 muffins (baked for 18 minutes) which I topped with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting. Sooo good! Almost worth the foot and calf pain from overcompensating for my knee!

Do any of you have any ideas for super simple meals with minimal prep?

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired (I used half walnuts and half chocolate chips)

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.
Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.
Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Source: Betty Crocker Big Red Book

Easiest Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 oz dark chocolate, chopped and then melted (20 sec intervals in the microwave)

2 Tbsp whipping cream

Directions: Combine the peanut butter and melted chocolate, then stir in the cream.

Source: Ricardo Magazine, Ricardo Larrivée

 

“Classy” Chicken!

Here’s another recipe that I’ve discovered through Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag which used to air on OWN Network here in Canada. They reviewed the cookbook “Best of Bridge Cookbook” and this was one of the dishes they made. “Classy Chicken” is a terrible name and the end product is not much to look at, but I promise you it’s delicious! This really should be called Creamy Curried Chicken or something along those lines, and it’s quite rich. I have to admit that I had a tummy ache after I went to bed, but it might have something to do with everything I ate as well. I had Pillsbury crescents beforehand, some white wine, and for dessert I made Martha Stewart’s Malted Chocolate Cupcakes. (The link has the same recipe, minus the Whoppers) I couldn’t taste the malt powder at all in the cupcakes, but the batter was rich and the cakes themselves were quite chocolaty.

Mr. M came over again and he liked the chicken so much that he was smacking his lips (much to my vexation). 😉 I will definitely be making this one again. As usual, I forgot to take pics last night so I took a pic while I was polishing off the leftovers for lunch today. It be even better today than it was last night.

Classy Chicken

Classy Chicken

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. oil
2 cups broccoli (or asparagus)
1 – 10 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 – 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Rice for serving

Instructions:
Chop up chicken into bite-sized cubes and sprinkle with pepper. Heat oil in a skillet and cook chicken pieces until opaque (do not overcook). Drain. Steam broccoli until cooked but still crunchy. Arrange broccoli at the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Place chicken on top. Mix together soup, mayonnaise, curry and lemon juice and pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bake, uncovered, at 350F for 30-35 minutes. Serve over rice.

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