Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BBQ Pulled Pork

I LOVE Fall! With the return of the cooler (much missed!) weather, I was eager to dig out my crock-pot and fill our apartment with savory scents. I bought the last pork shoulder at Costco, so I ended up almost doubling this recipe (6 lbs of shoulder!) We had dinner for a week, and more is in the freezer for later.


3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 tablespoon hickory flavored liquid smoke
2 cups barbecue sauce (We used Sweet Baby Ray's)

Place pork in a slow cooker. Add water and liquid smoke. Cook on low setting for approximately 8 hours, until the pork is very tender and falls apart easily.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and discard the remaining liquid. Shred the pork using two forks. Place the meat back in the slow cooker along with the barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes until the pork is hot again. Serve on buns with extra barbecue sauce, if desired


Monday, September 27, 2010

Brioche Buns

I love the taste of homemade bread (I really need to make it more often!), but have never made homemade buns. These have been making the rounds in the blogging world, and when I planned on making a crock full of pulled pork (recipe to come!), I knew I had to try these out.

The recipe actually called for a combination of bread flour & all purpose flour, but I was currently out. They were still fantastic! I'm so glad that that I tried them, and I plan on keeping this recipe handy for the future. (Of note, when stored in an air tight container, they are still fluffy & fresh 3-4 days after being baked)

BRIOCHE BUNS (From Annie's Eats)
Makes 8-10 buns

3 tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
2½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds (optional)

Combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg with electric mixer. Mix briefly to combine. Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the butter. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes. The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.

Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

(Look at that beautiful texture!)


Friday, September 24, 2010

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

In honor of my adorable dog's 2nd birthday, I had to make a treat for him & share it on my blog. We just adopted him 5 months ago, but he quickly became a member of our family. He LOVES peanut butter (freezing some PB in his Kong will keep him entertained for hours), so I knew I had to find a peanut butter based recipe. I added more peanut butter to the recipe to give it a little more flavor, and since my dog wouldn't leave the kitchen while I was rolling out the treats, I knew it would be enough. And I was right - they are definitely a favorite treat for him! (Although, really, he loves anything that *might* be edible - he'll try it to find out!) Ideally, these would be made with a bone shaped cookie - I need to find one before my next batch!

Peanut Butter Dog Treats (Adapted from Bella's Bistro)

2/3 - 3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup Oatmeal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. (I ended up using my hands to almost knead the dough together). Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a cookie cutter.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until just firm to touch. This will be highly variable on the size of the cookie cutter you use - mine was about 1 inch in diameter and took about 15 minutes.

I'm sure your dog will ENJOY!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lime Raspberry Cupcakes

This was a wonderful, refreshing combination! The cupcakes were made from left-over batter from the Lime Cream Cheese Pound Cake, and the frosting was left over from the Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes. (I always keep the left-over frosting in freezer bags in the freezer especially for moments like this!)


Thursday, September 16, 2010

S'more Cupcakes

I think I've said this before, but this may be my new favorite cupcake! I haven't had the opportunity to have S'mores this summer, and while nothing will take the place of a slightly charred, melted marshmallow with chocolate & graham crackers, this is a very close second! You can definitely taste the three components of these cupcakes, and they are just as messy to eat as the original! (It's probably best to eat with a fork!)

I wasn't thrilled with any of the marshmallow frostings I could find online - I didn't want a meringue as it was 95 degrees out & I knew it wouldn't tolerate the walk to work. The recipes I found online that included fluff (which I felt would give it a real "marshmallow" flavor) were very thin. I have no idea how the bakers got beautiful swirls with the very runny frosting the recipe made! A little experimenting, and I found a delicious, appropriately messy frosting!


Graham Cracker Cupcakes (Adapted from Vanilla Garlic)
Makes 12-16 cupcakes

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (Approx 1 sleeve)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder

Preheat your oven to 350F. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin.

Beat the butter for about 30 seconds until well creamed. Add the sugar and mix for 3 minutes using a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to beat for 30 seconds for each egg.

Mix together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and baking powder. Add about 1/3 of the mixture to the butter mixture, then add 1/2 of the milk. Continue to add the ingredients in a dry-wet-dry method, ending with the dry. Continue to mix until just combined.

Scoop into cupcake papers, filling 3/4 of the way full (they don't rise much). Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Frosting (used as filling, from Our Best Bites)
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
1 cup real butter, softened
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
Optional: Additional cocoa powder as needed

Melt your chocolate chips and set aside to cool. Try to get it close to room temperature and still have it be soft and stir-able.

In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, and milk. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Boil 1-3 minutes or until thickened like a thinned pudding. Remove pan from heat, and cool completely in the refrigerator or freezer.

When chocolate flour mixture is cooled, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture until well combined fluffy, about 1 minute. Finally add in melted chocolate and beat again until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. If desired, add additional cocoa powder (or powdered sugar) to taste, up to 4 tablespoons more.

Marshmallow Butter Cream

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
16oz container Marshmallow Fluff

Beat butter & 1 cup of the sugar until light. Add 1/2 of the fluff, and beat until combined. Add the other 1/2 of the fluff, again mixing until combined. Beat in flour, and an additional 1-2 cups of the sugar until it is the sweetness & consistency you prefer.

Cut a hole in the center of the cooled cupcakes (using the cone method). Fill generously with chocolate frosting. Frost with marshmallow buttercream. (If the weather is warm, the frosting may spread some - I would recommend not piping the frosting all of the way to the edge). Garnish as desired.

(See, nice & messy!)


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mini Peach Galettes

With a fridge full of peaches that were ready to be eaten, I had to find another way to use them up. (My personal favorite is to cut up the peaches into bite sized pieces, sprinkle with a little sugar & let them sit for an hour. Then, add a little half & half.... MMMMM.....) The addition of cinnamon to the recipe makes it perfect for fall!

I definitely recommend using the parchment - I had run out, and had some difficulty with the galettes sticking to the pan. Still tasted delicious, but they weren't all pretty!

MINI PEACH GALETTES (Idea from The Comfort of Cooking)
Makes 4 Galettes

Dough for 1 pie crust (I use a butter based pie crust), divided into 4 pieces

2 fresh peaches, sliced into approximately 10-12 slices each
Blackberries (optional)
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. graham cracker crumbs

Heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix sugar & cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside

Roll out each piece of dough into a 6-8 inch circle.

Place 1 tbsp. of graham cracker crumbs in the center of each crust. Place approximately 5 peach slices onto the crust. Sprinkle approximately 1/2 tablespoon of sugar mixture on top of peaches. Fold the edge of each crust up and over peaches. Sprinkle each pie with a small amount of the sugar mixture.

Bake 25 minutes, until pies are golden brown. Let cool 3 minutes before serving.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Doughnut Muffins

I was soooooooo excited when I saw this recipe! Around the country, it is becoming state fair season. Having spent much of my life in Minnesota, and having a husband from Minnesota, going to the Minnesota State Fair was an annual event for us. We rarely went on rides (too expensive!), but we loved to people watch, walk through the barns (to see the worlds largest pig, of course!), and eat.

I almost always came home with a stomach ache! The state fair is the one time a year I could get fresh cheese curds or mini donuts or a bucket of cookies. I would usually pass on the other "Deep fried ______ on a stick." (I've seen everything I could think of deep fried at the state fair - Twinkies, Oreos, candy bars, pickles, bologna.....) And don't forget the dairy barn with the butter princess carving & the delicious fresh milk shakes. Or how about the "All You Can Drink" Milk stand (they served over 30,000 gallons last year!), usually conveniently located near the buckets of cookies.

As we are now living 1400 miles away from "home," and all of our friends in Minnesota have Facebook updates about the state fair, I knew I had to make these muffins to remind of the fair. They were a great substitution! My husband, who isn't a sweets person, but LOVES cinnamon & sugar, quickly devoured them. He put two on his plate, took a bite, and grabbed a third before he went to sit down!

With the fall apple season quickly approaching, I'm hoping to alter the recipe to mimic the tasty apple cider donuts served at all of the local orchards. (Not that I need another excuse to make these delicious muffins!)

DOUGHNUT MUFFINS (Adapted from How to Simplify)

For the muffins:

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk

For the coating:

1/4 -1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin.

Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Combine oil, sugar, egg, vanilla and milk in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and stir only to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. While muffins are baking, melt butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Shake muffins out of the muffin tin while the muffins are still hot. Dip muffins in the melted butter and then into the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

These are by far the most complicated cupcakes that I've made. They actually aren't difficult - just lots of steps! They look awesome in the end & are guaranteed to get some attention.

Everyone LOVED these cupcakes! (Personally, while they were good, the cupcake itself didn't have the best flavor - it was as though a bit of corn bread batter was mixed with the cupcake batter). I was the only one to have noticed the off flavor, so maybe it was just me. However, I'm very glad I tried these as the frosting is fantastic, and I think I've found my new favorite cookie recipe!

EGG FREE COOKIE DOUGH FILLING (Adapted from Cupcake Project)

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoon milk
2/3-1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients in a big bowl. (No special instructions, it's easy!)

MINI CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (Adapted from Annie's Eats)

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 325°. Line cookie sheets with parchment, if desired. (I didn't and had no problem with burnt bottoms or the cookies sticking to the sheets).

Mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips (by hand).

To make mini cookies for use on the cupcakes, use a VERY small amount of dough for each cookie (1 - 1.5 tsp each!). These bake for about 6-7 minutes. For full sized cookies, it will be 11-14 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden.

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

COOKIE DOUGH FROSTING (Also adapted from Annie's Eats)

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.


Cut a cone out of the cooled cupcakes & fill with some cookie dough. Frost cookies as desired with the cookie dough frosting. Garnish with the mini cookies & additional chocolate chips.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Waffle Bowls

I've always been an ice cream fanatic. Growing up, there was never a time when we didn't have ice cream in the house. (In fact, we often had multiple flavors around.) While I would love to make ice cream, my little fridge-top freezer doesn't have enough room for me to store my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment.

Instead, I decided to make waffle bowls out of Pizzelles. This is a simple recipe that came with my pizzelle iron (much like a waffle iron). To form the bowl, quickly remove the pizzelle from the waffle iron & mold. (Either over the end of a glass, or inside a bowl.) While these make small cups compared to the ones you buy at the grocery store, it's a great way to have a dessert without over indulging!


3 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted & cooled
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs & sugar. Add the cooled butter and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients.

Cook per your pizzelle maker's instructions. Immediately mold into desired shape.

Store in air tight containers.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Lime Cream Cheese Pound Cake

To be completely honest, the reason I made this cake was that I had a new rose Bundt cake pan that I wanted to use. (I also had a few limes to use up!) Before I talk about the wonderful cake, I have to tell you about the pan.

I LOVE Bundt cake pans (I wish I had more kitchen storage so I could buy more). When I was back in Minnesota a couple months ago for vacation, I drove past the Nordic Ware Factory. I can't believe I lived in Minneapolis for 8 years without knowing it was a few short miles from me! I was excited to find out they have a factory store that carries a lot of their cake pans, as well as other kitchen & grilling supplies that they make. The best part was the "seconds" area in the back, where you can buy pans for 50-75% off! I bought this lovely rose Bundt cake pan for only $10. (And I can't tell why it was a second - no scratches, baked perfectly!) If you are in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend swinging through St. Louis Park to stop at the factory store!

And, on to the cake... It was amazing! I was a little worried about it coming out of the pan, as it's fairly intricate. However, it slid out easily. The glaze provided a nice tart/crisp coating, and it had a wonderful texture. The nurses I shared it with couldn't get enough of it! Of note, I made 8 cupcakes from the batter in addition to the cake, and the cake still spilled over. I think this could easily be made in a 12 cup Bundt cake pan.

LIME CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE (Adapted from Williams Sonoma)

For the cake:

3 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
18 Tbs. (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. fresh lime juice (approx 1 large lime)
1 1/2 Tbs. finely grated lime zest

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Grease pan with butter (using a pastry brush) and "flour" (I use granulated white sugar in place of the flour - it adds a little extra crispness to the edge of the cake) a rose cake pan or a 10-cup Bundt® pan; tap out excess flour/sugar.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla, lime juice & baking soda.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour in three additions. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the lime zest.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter so the sides are higher than the center. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.

For the glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and granulated sugar until blended.

Set the rack over a sheet of waxed paper, invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the warm cake with the glaze. Let the cake cool completely before serving.

Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tangy Lime Bars

These were a fantastic summer dessert, and a nice twist from the usual lemon bar. I was happy to find a lime version of the classic lemon bar due to the large amount of limes I've had in my kitchen this summer. However, they didn't help me use up my lime stash very quickly, as I only used 2 of my limes. (Maybe I should have made a couple batches!) My husband, who loves lemon bars, devoured these, and they may be the first dessert I've ever made in which he ate more of them than me.

TANGY LIME BARS (Adapted from Whats For Lunch Honey?)
Makes 16 bars (an 8x8inch pan)


1/2 cup unsalted butter - melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottom and up the sides of an 8-inch baking pan with foil.

Combine the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Using your fingers, press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, our until the crust is fully baked - slightly browned at the edges.


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Greed food coloring - optional
Powder sugar for dusting - optional

Stir together the sugar and flour in a large bowl, until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs, then stir in the lime zest, lime juice & a drop of green food coloring.

When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300F. Slide the rack with the pan out and pour the filling onto the hot crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes longer. The topping should not jiggle in the center when the pan is tapped. Place on a rack and cool completely in the pan.

Cut into bars and if desired, sift powdered sugar over them just before serving.

Storing: the bars can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for several days (Although I doubt they'll last that long!)