Archive for January, 2008

That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.

I LOVE CUPCAKES. I mean, who doesn’t right? They are little bites of heaven…and as my friend Matty Binks wisely wrote…”Whoever created the first cupcake deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.” Anyway…I love to make fun animal inspired cupcakes. I like to say they are for my nieces and nephews…but really…I make them for me because I love cute things. Especially sugary frosted baked goods type cute things! These little piglet cupcakes were inspired by some cupcakes I saw on Flickr. YUM. But after going to 50 different cake decorating stores, and not finding any pink candy chocolates…I had to improvise. I ended up with the following recipe:

PIGGIE CUPCAKES
recipe from Julie Foxworthy

INGREDIENTS:
Strawberry Cake Mix
Eggs (for Cake Mix batter)
Oil (for Cake Mix batter)
Strawberry Frosting
Marshmallows (Large)
Mini Chocolate Chips
Strawberry Pink Sugar Wafer Cookies
Bag of Mini M&Ms
Pink Decorator Sugar

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Bake and frost cupcakes per package directions
  2. Slice big marshmallows in half, and dip the sticky side in the pink decorator sugar
  3. Drill two little holes (I used a wooden kabob skewer) into the marshmallow where you would like the nostrils to go
  4. Fill each nostril with an upside down mini chocolate chip (so the flat side is showing)
  5. Set aside snouts
  6. Cut strawberry wafers into triangle shape pieces with a sharp chef’s knife…(some of the wafers will pull apart from the cream filling, but I just kept cutting a bunch of them, until I had enough that had stuck together)
  7. Pick out a bunch of blue mini M&M’s out of the bag and set aside
  8. Assemble the Pigs by placing on the snout, the ears, and the eyes
  9. Enjoy!

1 comment January 30th, 2008

The Ice Festival Mascots…

Every year in Plymouth, Michigan they have a pretty cool Ice Sculpture Festival, and every year I throw a party for my family and friends at my tiny little apartment (which is right downtown). It’s my one chance a year to really bust out and experiment with making a bunch of treats for my friends to fill up their bellies. This year, I decided that I needed to do some wintery/icy types treats…and in my vast searches, I found this amazingly cute recipe for making polar bear cakes. They were literally too cute to eat!
Check out the directions for assembly below.

Polar Bear Cakes
Recipe from FamilyFun.com

INGREDIENTS:

Light-colored cupcakes, 1 regular and 3 mini
White frosting
Shredded coconut
3 large and 2 small white gumdrops
1 Junior Mint candy
Chocolate chips, 4 regular and 4 mini

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. First, frost the top, sides, and bottoms of both a regular-size cupcake and a mini cupcake with white frosting. For each cupcake, frost the bottom first; then use a fork stuck into the bottom to hold the cupcake while you frost the rest of it.
  2. Roll the cupcakes in shredded coconut; then, working on waxed paper, set the cupcakes on their sides with the top of the smaller cupcake stuck to the bottom of the larger one to form the bear’s head.
  3. Add 2 horizontal slices from a large white gumdrop for ears, a Junior Mint candy for a nose, and 2 chocolate chips for eyes. For each cub, frost a mini cupcake and a large gumdrop, then roll them in coconut and arrange them on their sides as shown. Add 2 horizontal slices from a small white gumdrop for ears, a chocolate chip nose, and 2 mini chocolate chip eyes.

Add comment January 29th, 2008

Pastry, Figs, Stilton, Walnut and Port Wine Reduction

Every so often, my friends and I gather and have little “cooking parties”, this appetizer was something I whipped up at one of these soirés. The recipe was taken off of Epicurious.com and I have to say this little dish was quite delicious.

However, in the future, I would serve this as Epicurious recommends as an after-dinner dessert (instead of appetizer), since it’s sweetness along with the strong flavor of the cheese lends itself to an upscale dessert.

Warm Black Mission Fig, Walnut Crunch, and Blue Cheese Tartlets
Recipe taken from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS for Walnut Crunch:

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

INGREDIENTS for Figs and Puff Pastry:

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
Pinch of salt
9 fresh figs (preferably black Mission), stemmed, cut lengthwise in half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup ruby Port
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
3 ounces La Fourme d’Ambert or Stilton blue cheese, diced or coarsely crumbled, room temperature
Honeycomb or honey

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS for Walnut Crunch:

Stir honey, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in medium skillet over medium heat until sugar melts. Cook until mixture boils and is deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Mix in walnuts. Pour out onto sheet of foil; cool completely. Chop walnut crunch into small pieces. Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS for Figs and Puff Pastry:

  • Stir 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and salt in heavy large skillet over medium heat until sugar is evenly moist. Cook until sugar begins to turn golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes (mixture may be granular). Place figs in sugar mixture, cut side down, and cook until figs begin to release juice, about 3 minutes. Add butter; swirl skillet to melt. Remove skillet from heat. Add Port and let stand 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer figs to plate and cool. Return syrup to boil, whisking until smooth. Cool syrup completely. Figs and syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Rewarm syrup before using.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Roll out thawed puff pastry on lightly floured surface to 12×8-inch rectangle. Using 3 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out 6 rounds; arrange on prepared sheet. Divide walnut crunch among pastry rounds. Top each with 3 fig halves, cut side up.
  • Bake tartlets until pastry is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Tartlets can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm at 350°F for 8 minutes.
  • Arrange cheese atop warm tartlets. Brush or drizzle with warm Port syrup, then top with cube of honeycomb or drizzle with honey.
  • 1 comment January 17th, 2008

    Yummy Chopped Salad

    There is a restaurant near my house that has a really good chopped salad. I liked it so much that I tried to duplicate it at home…It came pretty close, and is really very tasty.

    Here’s the mix…

    Chopped Salad
    Recipe from Julie Foxworthy

    INGREDIENTS:

    Chopped iceberg lettuce
    Diced tomato
    Diced cucumber
    Chopped black olives
    Chopped red onion
    Crumbled feta cheese
    Italian dressing of your choice

    RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Chop up all ingredients
  • Throw them in a mixing bowl
  • Pour over dressing
  • Toss with hands (the best way to dress a salad, NO TONGS!)
  • Serve and enjoy!
  • Add comment January 17th, 2008

    Eurasian Grill – Restaurant Review

    Every time I turn around, my boyfriend, Chris, seems to be chomping on something or another…but he must have the metabolism of a gerbil…because the boy never gains a pound, and is the skinniest boy alive I think.

    Amazingly though, with all his eating, he is not really all that into food. In fact, he is down right food apathetic. He eats to survive…because his body requires it. Dinner time is matter of fact…it doesn’t matter to him whether he is eating a peanut butter sandwich or a chicken dinner I’ve spent the entire day cooking…which is kind of why I haven’t really cooked for him much during our year of dating. It seems a waste of time and energy, to prepare something amazing, when the boy could be just as happy eating a frozen pizza. (hee).

    Which means, we tend to eat out. A lot. (Too much).
    We have our old standbys…(El Nibble Nook…Siam Spicy…etc)…but once in a while, I get him to bust out and try something new with me.

    The other evening, we went to a little restaurant just a few miles from his house. It’s in a little strip mall in West Bloomfield, tucked away.

    But don’t be fooled by the strip mall exterior. This restuarant served me one of the best (if not THEE best) piece of tuna I have ever eaten. (the photo is from my phone camera, and doesn’t do it justice). It was a sashimi grade cut of tuna steak…seasoned with a smoky, peppery concoction, and seared to perfection. It was then sliced into strips, and served rare with a side of sushi rice and some sautéed bok choy, and a soy-based dipping sauce that was the perfect pairing. The tuna was literally…LIKE BUTTA, as they say. And as much as I tried, I could not help myself from eating the entire thing. (It was huge!)

    Chris ordered the old standby of General Tso’s Chicken. It was the crispiest coated chicken ever, (just how I like it), with a juicy tender morsel of chicken inside. It was coated with a sweet (but not too sweet) sauce, with just the right amount of seasoning and heat, and a side of broccoli. It wasn’t too saucy, so you could actually taste the chicken…and not drown in the sauce.

    We also enjoyed salads with Wasabi dressing. A little spicy for my taste…but very good if you like it hot.

    The dessert was disappointing. We had the chocolate lava cake, which was a luke-warm gooey mess. More like chocolate pudding, instead of a cake with a molten center. Not the best of endings, but that tuna was so good, I can easily overlook the dessert.

    I’ll definitely be going back to the Eurasian Grill very soon, and bringing all my foodie friends to enjoy it with me!

    Add comment January 16th, 2008

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