January 28, 2010

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

{printable recipe here}

My little man is three. I'm in total shock. He's been all about birthdays lately (what with everyone else in the family having a summer/fall day- so he's had a lot of birthday experiences to remember!) When his started getting close he kept asking for orange cupcakes and orange balloons. My mom asked him a couple weeks ago what we would have for his birthday and he again insisted, "People always have cupcakes for their birthdays!" She then said, "Sometimes people have brownies," to which he quickly replied, "Cupcakes with brownies on top?"

Maybe next year I'll make the cupcakes with brownies on top happen. For this year, though, we made Orange Cupcakes (my little man is a very willing helper when it comes to baked goods- sits right on the counter and is in charge of dumping in ingredients and locking and unlocking the mixer). I flavored a yellow cake with orange zest and made orange frosting by adding orange zest and subbing fresh orange juice for the milk in my usual cream cheese frosting. I also made a batch of chocolate cupcakes, thinking only the kids would go for the obnoxious orange colored food. I was wrong- the newly dubbed "Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes" flew off the pan (which explains the crappy picture, no time to play with your food when guests are clamoring!) Try these- they're good for adults and kids alike, although I would definitely go with a milder orange color if you aren't catering to the kiddos!

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes for my Little Man
by Anne Strawberry

{printable recipe here}

1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Oil
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
Zest from one Orange, finely grated
1 Yellow Cake Mix (I like Betty Crocker's)
Orange food coloring (or red and yellow)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients except food coloring in stand mixer and mix on low to combine, about one minute. Then increase speed to medium high for two more minutes until well blended. Add drops of food coloring to achieve desired color and mix lightly until incorporated.

Using an ice cream scoop, portion batter into lined muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back which touched with a finger tip and they look done.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
1 block Neufchatel (reduced fat) cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 bag (1 pound) powdered sugar
Fresh squeezed orange juice (from the zested oranges), as needed (about 1 tablespoon)

Cream the cream cheese, butter, and orange zest until smooth and well combined. With the mixer off, add the powdered sugar. Cover with a clean dish towel and combine on low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Remove towel and increase speed to make a smooth frosting, adding orange juice or more sugar until desired consistency is reached. Using a large tip (or a gallon baggie with a small corner clipped off) pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

January 27, 2010

Chocolate Cheerios Giveaway

(this giveaway is now closed) Have you seen the new Chocolate Cheerios? I can't get over how delicious they are. We've been eating them at our house with blueberries, frozen raspberries, and bananas. I'd probably eat them with anything, really, since Honey Nut Cheerios are my very favorite cereal.

With the new release of this awesome cereal I have a little giveaway for two free boxes of any General Mills cereal. MyBlogSpark contacted me to see if I wanted to try some General Mills cereal and I couldn't resist (especially since I ate Cheerios for breakfast everyday while I was pregnant with my little man and I still like them, which is no small feat. Maybe that's why he loves cereal so much?) Anyways, I read that the kids who eat cereal do better in school and the adults have better diets. So I'd like to encourage you to try some Chocolate Cheerios. I compared the labels and while they are absolutely delicious, they're healthy cereal option too. That's what I like to hear.

Meanwhile, I'm brewing up a dessert recipe featuring these yummy treats I mean breakfast goods. I'll be back soon. Leave a comment if you want to win two boxes of your favorite General Mills cereal (one entry per person and US residents only, contest ends 02/03/10). Make sure you leave a way for me to get a hold of you.

PS- Sorry for the lack of content lately. We've been busy (and honestly, eating cereal more than delicious homemade meals more often than I'd like to admit). But come back tomorrow for some special cupcakes for my little man's birthday!

Disclosure- Please note the free VIP coupons and information have been provided by General Mills and MyBlogSpark, but the opinions are my own.

January 11, 2010

Cafe Rio Pork Salad and Burritos with Cilantro dressing

{printable recipe here}

This is probably my most requested recipe so I'm going to repost it. It's simple and easy and always a hit with a crowd. I made it this weekend and used chicken tenders since that's what I had on hand, but I usually use pork loin. It tastes amazing as a salad (for the ladies usually) or as burritos (for the guys). The next day I like to make crispy quesadillas and after they are cooked I sneak in handfuls of spinach that melt right in so no one notices. It's easy to freeze the leftover meat and everyone loves it. I like to serve this with homemade refried beans (also cooked in the crock pot- you can do those first over night then start the meat in the morning). Yum.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad and Burritos

from Anne Strawberry
{printable recipe here}

1 pork loin or boneless pork roast (about four pounds, whatever you find)
1 can Dr. Pepper (NOT diet- and I prefer Coke normally but Dr. Pepper is better in this I think)
1 cup brown sugar
2 T. dry mustard powder
1 T. dry cumin powder
2 cloves minced garlic (or granulated garlic if you're in a hurry)
1 can Chipotle chiles in Adobo Sauce

First, open the can of chiles and drain the sauce into the Crockpot. Then discard the chiles. Chipotles are just roasted jalepenos and are plenty hot- so omit them unless you want lots of heat! I can find this stuff in the Mexican food aisle at Fry's and Safeway, so look around. Don't use the plain Adobo sauce (mine came in a tall little jar with a yellow lid) because the flavor is all wrong and I had to throw my last batch of pork out!

Then add sugar, mustard, cumin, garlic, and Dr. Pepper. Stir everything and toss in the trimmed, whole pork loin. Try piercing it a few times so the flavor steeps in during cooking. Rotate throughout the day and after about 5 hours on high the meat should be shred-able. Reduce heat to low, pull apart the meat with two forks and leave the lid off the Crockpot for a bit to let some of the extra liquid evaporate and soak into the meat (the longer it cooks shredded the tastier it will be, just watch and make sure there is enough liquid).

Meanwhile, make the dressing in a blender. Serve pork with tortillas, black beans, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, and cilantro dressing. Dish it up and enjoy! I also like topping it with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Cilantro Tomatillo Dressing

4 Tomatillos (throw away the outer peel and quarter)
1/2 Cup Mayo, not Miracle whip
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Packet Ranch Dressing mix
pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1 bunch of cilantro, washed and stems discarded
1 Lime

Blend all ingredients (except lime) in a blender and let thicken in the fridge. For more spice, add a Serrano pepper. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime and enjoy.

January 5, 2010

Tarte Tatin for TWD's 2nd Anniversay

I love France. I LOVE French food. I love apples. This special second anniversary Dorie treat was destined to be a winner (or so I thought!) I used a varieties of apples I had on hand (Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady, and Yellow Delicious), quickly peeled them with favorite apple tool (which I highly recommend if you like apple pie, apple sauce, or even apples at all- grab one on Amazon or check out Ross. I got one there for next to nothing last year). I melted the butter, which is probably one of my favorite smells in the world, sprinkled on the sugar, placed the apples on top, and cooked the caramel. Everything was great and so I added the puff pastry on top and placed it in the oven.

When it came out I placed my platter on top and quickly flipped it- only to have a huge rush of caramelly apple juices leak out onto my mom's recently mopped floor (sorry!) Of course my family wasn't derailed by a little mess and we made quick work of the tarte. In retrospect I think I should have cooked the caramel longer and maybe even let the apples sit over a collander (like Alton Brown recommends sometimes) to remove some juice. I'll have to try this method again though, because as Ina would say, Apples, Pastry, Sugar, and Butter- how bad can that be? Speaking of my dearest Ina, I love her quick apple tart. It's a lot like I pictured this recipe turning out and probably one of my top 5 recipes from the last year (not to mention one of the easiest!)

Now in honor of TWD's 2nd Anniversary, I'm linking my favorite ever Dorie treats. Maybe reviewing these links and photos will hold over my sweet tooth... which has absolutely loved TWD. Not likely, though!

Blueberry Pie

White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Pudding

Split Level Pudding

Apple Pie

French Chocolate Brownies

Florida (Key Lime) Pie

Dimply Peach Cake

La Palette's Strawberry Tart

French Pear Tart

It would appear that I REALLY like pies and tarts (no shock there- I'll take pie over cake any day of the week).

And my very favorite (and first) TWD recipe- Brioche Snails (and again here)- especially the pastry cream inside. Love me some pastry cream. Now just reviewing these recipes has made me feel like I'm long overdue for a marathon or something. See you at the gym!

Last- my Tall Man's favorite ever Dorie treat (still, after a year and a half and many many baked goods later...)- Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Now I need some advice. For the first time (ever, I think) I'm having a vegetarian over for dinner on Friday and would love some input on your favorite, company worthy meatless dishes. We have our loosely termed "vegetarian night" about once a week but it's usually not more than homemade refried beans and tortillas with fresh salsa. I'd love to hear your knock out vegetarian meals! Besides, with the New Year here, I think more meatless meals are in order! I'd also love to hear your favorite Dorie recipe so far- please let me know!

(Grab the recipe for the Tarte Tatin here! Thanks again Laurie for such a fun group and Dorie for the great recipes!)