Friday, July 23, 2010

Watermelon Lemonade

Having had multiple consecutive 90 to 100 degree days, I've been looking for a refreshing drink that I'd be able to enjoy on our newly rebuilt deck. This was fairly quick to make up, with the assistance of a food processor, and was a nice change from a regular lemonade. With watermelon being plentiful during the summer, I encourage you all make a pitcher to enjoy!

WATERMELON LEMONADE (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 1 gallon

2 cups lemon juice
4 cups fresh watermelon puree, strained through a coarse strainer to remove seeds & large pieces of pulp
1 1/2 -2 cups simple syrup (Adjust to desired sweetness)*
6 cups cold water

Stir it all together and serve over ice. Add a few ounces of sparkling water (we used lemon flavored) to add a bit of fizz just before serving.

* SIMPLE SYRUP: Simmer one part water with one part sugar until sugar has dissolved. Let cool. (I used about 1 1/4 cups of sugar & water, and had about 2 cups when the syrup was done).


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes

Nothing is worse than being on call on your birthday. I swear the pediatric chief residents have our birthday schedule, and put everyone on call on their birthday! (What's even worse is when there is a 2 hour code on your birthday call shift.....)

Anyways, I've been trying to make cupcakes for people when they are on call on their birthdays. I made the Carrot Cupcakes for one of my senior residents last June when he was on call on his birthday. For my birthday, I made the delicious Oreo Cupcakes.

This time around, I made these wonderful Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes. My colleague was on call in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on her birthday (and call in the PICU can be tough - she didn't get any sleep!) She said chocolate raspberry was one of her favorite combinations, and I've been wanting to try out this recipe. (I've made a different Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake last spring - I don't know if I could pick a favorite between the two).

I hope she enjoyed these cupcakes as much as the nurses & other physicians did. I've had a great few weeks working with her & hope her next birthday can be spent with family & friends instead of patients!

Makes Approximately 24 cupcakes


9 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup skim milk

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a small bowl sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Stir in the coffee and milk, and mix until combined. Add in the remaining dry ingredients, again mixing just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling the cups about 2/3-3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


1 (12 oz.) bag frozen raspberries, thawed
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor. Place in a saucepan. Whisk in the sugar and cornstarch, and heat, stirring frequently until the mixture boils. Once it has thickened, remove the pan from the heat. Cool to room temperature before using.

Once cupcakes & filling are cool, inject 1-2 tsp of filling into the cupcakes. I used a regular cake decorating tip to inject into the cupcakes - they are light & airy, so there is no difficulty with this step!


5 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate and jam in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate and jam. Let stand for about 3 minutes. Whisk together gently until smooth. If any unmelted lumps remain, microwave a few seconds and whisk again. Let the ganache cool a bit until it has thickened slightly. Spread a small amount onto each filled cupcake.


16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
3/4+ cup seedless raspberry jam

Place the butter and jam in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream on medium-high speed until well incorporated. Add the powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments and mix until smooth after each addition. Tint with icing color as desired.

Frost cupcakes as desired.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Bars

Two hours before we were supposed to leave for a gathering, I discovered that it was a housewarming party (not a bunch of friends meeting at a nearby bar!) I love to bring treats to parties, so I had to make something that I could easily finish in a limited time frame. Within 2 hours, I had baked, frosted & cut up these bars, walked the dog for 45 minutes, and gotten ready for the party. To speed the process along, I did place the bars in the fridge to finish cooling so that they were completely cool by the time I frosted them.

These were a huge hit - both by the people at the party, and my co-workers who enjoyed the other 1/2 of the pan the next day! Even though they were 2 days old by the time they were finished, people were still raving about them (down to the last crumb left in the tupperware). The vanilla beans give the cookie a great flavor (along with the beautiful specks!), and the cream cheese in the frosting keeps it from being overly sweet.

VANILLA SUGAR COOKIE BARS (Adapted from Annie's Eats)
Makes approx 48 bars (2x2 inches each)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbls. vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet (mine was 12 x 16″) with butter.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and seeds from the vanilla beans. Mix in baking soda. Add flour into mixer bowl, and beat on low speed just until incorporated.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake approximately 15 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.


12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
Food coloring (optional)

To make the frosting, place the butter & cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla and confectioners sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Tint as desired with food coloring. Spread over the cookie in the pan, garnish as desired, cut into bars and serve.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blueberry Scones

Can you see that I'm on a bit of a blueberry kick? Blueberries have been so affordable recently that I always seem to have a fridge full of them to use.

Every recipe that I looked up last Saturday morning required ingredients that I was out of. (Even though they were "normal" ingredients like sour cream, heavy cream or buttermilk). I used the proportions I found on multiple recipes to come up with this delicious recipe.

They are not extremely sweet - they would be perfectly complemented by a simple glaze. I used the leftover blueberry syrup/sauce from last week. It was a wonderful combination!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup butter, chilled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries
6oz container of vanilla yogurt
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar & baking powder. Add butter cubes, and pulse 8-12 times until the mixture becomes crumbled.

Add yogurt & egg, and pulse until just combined. Gently mix in blueberries in as few strokes as possible.

Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, shape each half into a 6-inch circle. Cut into 6 wedges.

Bake on ungreased sheet about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm!!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I have to thank my mother-in-law for this pie. When I was home a week ago, she asked if I wanted her rhubarb - she didn't plan on using it & she knows how much I enjoy baking with it (and making my Great-Grandma's Jam, which I'm sure I'll be making soon!)

It's not too weird to get rhubarb & other garden goods from family, but not many people fly across the country with it! I'm sure the guys at security wondered why my carry on bag was over 1/2 full of rhubarb stalks! (That, and a wonderful new bundt cake pan that I can't wait to use! I'll also blog about that later...)

Between the wonderful rhubarb from my in-laws, and a large crate of strawberries from Costco, I knew I had to make a pie!

The flavor of this pie is wonderful! However, I don't think I baked it quite long enough as the bottom of the crust wasn't coming out of the pan as easily as I would have liked. Also, the filling was quite runny (which I know can happen from a fresh fruit filling) Either way, if you don't mind it in more of a crumble form in your dish, you'll love this pie!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE (Adapted from AllRecipes)
Makes 1 pie

1 cup white sugar
3 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.

In saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar & cornstarch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat down, and simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Turn off heat

Stir in strawberries & vanilla. Place filling in pie crust, and cover with top crust. Cut slits in crust if using a solid top crust.

Apply yolk to top of pie with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly and brown. Cool on rack.

Makes 2 single crusts or 1 double crust

1 cup unsalted butter, chilled & cut into pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Add butter pieces & blend until just combined.

Slowly pour in cool water while processor is running - stop when dough forms crumbles.

Lightly knead dough until it forms a ball. Divide dough into two parts. Flatten each part into a disk.

When rolling out dough - I use a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar instead of flour to prevent sticking - it prevents an overly "floury" taste to the dough and makes the dough a little sweeter.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blueberry Waffles with Fresh Blueberry Syrup

We have been eating some fantastic (& inexpensive) blueberries recently. I never ate many blueberries when I was younger, but I'm loving them now! And what a perfect fruit to incorporate into a July 4th breakfast!

These were fairly easy to whip up. However, the waffle iron was a mess afterwards from the popping blueberries while cooking. I initially had some difficulty with the waffles splitting (which I've read can happen with blueberry waffles in a belgium waffle maker), but found that if I turned the temperature down, I had less of an issue. The waffles weren't overly sweet, and were complemented nicely by a simple blueberry syrup/sauce on top.

BLUEBERRY WAFFLES (Adapted from VeganYumYum)
Made 6 large Belgium Waffles

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Tbs Sugar

1 (6oz) Container Blueberry Yogurt
1 1/3 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Oil

1 Cup Fresh Blueberries
Spray Oil for the waffle iron

Preheat your waffle iron.

Mix all the dry ingredients together well with a whisk. Add the wet ingredients & whisk until combined. Gently fold in berries.

Spray your waffle iron with a little bit of oil. Follow the baking instructions for your waffle maker. (Mine has a measuring cup for the batter, and beeps when the waffles are done - I found that they needed another 1-2 minutes after my maker indicated they should be done.)

BLUEBERRY SYRUP(From A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen)

1 container fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Heat above ingredients in a small sauce-pan till bubbly and boiling, cook till it thickens slightly.

Serve warm over waffles.

(When it cools completely, it has a texture similar to cranberry sauce).


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 4th Vanilla Cupcakes

Not just any vanilla cupcakes, Red, White & Blue cupcakes! I wanted a fairly quick & easy cupcake to make for a July 4th BBQ. I've started a new rotation at the hospital where I'm on call every 3rd night, and with absolutely no sleep during my first call shift, I knew I needed something that wouldn't require too much concentration, in case I spaced out a little during the process.

Not sure if it was the recipe, or the baking cups, but I had a problem with the batter running over the edge. I filled them 2/3 - 3/4 of the way full, and at least half of them had runover. Thankfully, most of it was easily peeled off of the cups so that they are somewhat presentable.

I based these off of the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcake recipe. I wanted to make sure they had a good vanilla flavor, so I substituted some of the milk for French Vanilla Non-Dairy Creamer. This gave a nice vanilla flavor to the cupcakes. I also used the creamer in place of the milk in their frosting recipe, a trick I've been doing in most vanilla frosting recipes since I started making cakes in the 9th grade of high school (12 years ago already!) So, for all of you that have known me for that long, and have loved my frosting - that is my "secret ingredient" that I've never shared before!

VANILLA CUPCAKES (Adapted from Magnolia Bakery)
Makes 24 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vanilla non-dairy creamer (liquid)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gel Coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Like cupcake tins with liners.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk/creamer and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.

Split the batter into 3 bowls, and dye the batter the colors that you desire (I used red (be sure to use no-taste red if you are using Wilton dyes) and blue)

Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 - 3/4 full. I spooned in the various colors, alternating white, blue, white, red. You can very carefully swirl them together with a toothpick, but be careful not to over mix - you want the colors defined, not mixed into a gray/brown concoction!

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla "Buttercream" Frosting (Adapted from Magnolia Bakery)
Frosts 24-36 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup vanilla creamer
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar, the creamer and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes, in a stand mixer. 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 desired consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.

Frost as desired.

(Magnolia recommends using within 3 days, and NOT storing in the refrigerator)