February 20, 2012

The Better Chip

Recently, The Better Chip offered to send me some of their products to review. There's a reason I call my husband Mr. Carbohydrate so I eagerly responded yes and was excited to get some samples of their chips to try out. I wanted to do something fun with them, but they sat on my counter looking all flavorful and delicious and we just ate them- rather quickly. I finally decided I should at least nacho-fy the last bag (Nachos are the ultimate after Church food if you ask me) so yesterday I made a big plate with the sweet onion chips. Then I walked into the other room to grab my phone and came back and five of the chips were missing. Then I added the cheese and a little taco meat/beans left over from the other night, some tomatoes, cheese, and cooked them, went in the other room... and a few more were missing. The survivors were topped with some shredded lettuce and green salsa and were quickly devoured. The chips are crunchy, flavorful, and all gone. And that makes me a little sad!

These chips really are 'better'- all natural, with 40% fresh ingredients, no preservatives, gluten free, non-GMO, vegan, delicious! And... they taste great (sometimes that's not a given with 'healthy' stuff, you know?) My favorite were the jalapeno (that's why they aren't in the picture above... they were ingested a little too quickly). The red pepper were really flavorful and delicious. The sweet onion are had just the right bite to them (and a subtle cheddar flavor, seriously good!) You can learn more about what makes these chips better here.

PS Once again Amazon rules the world, you can even buy these chips online (I still think that's a little weird, but with free shipping I'm all over that!) Let me know if you try and like them (and excuse me while I go order chips online, just don't tell my brother, I'm pretty sure he'll think that's super nerdy!)

February 10, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

With red as a favorite color (and pink a close second) I would be remiss if I didn't post anything for Valentine's. My blog reader has exploded with red velvet desserts- cakes, brownies, cookies, even pancakes, and while red velvet is a personal favorite over here (since I chose it for our wedding) I'm still not sure about all the varieties. I love a good red velvet cupcake and every time I make these I get the same comment- "I don't like red velvet cake because it's usually so bitter, but these are amazing!" I've posted my box recipe before and know some people don't like it but the fact of the matter is these cupcakes are delicious and easy and with sick kids and busy schedules, that's just about perfect for me. 

I made these cupcakes last Valentine's for a friend's wedding and I don't think I ever got to posting them. They turned out really cute and fun- I used a million different pink and red Valentine's cupcake wrappers from my collection (I always pick up a few packs on Valentine's clearance- red is a neutral around here and good for everything and I never regret buying these!)

I frost my cupcakes using a large plastic decorating bag (mine is from Ateco) and tip that I picked up at our local cake decorating store, ABC Cake Decorating in Phoenix. So far my biggest problem with them is that I want everything in their store (Edible glitter? Another decorating tip? A few more cookie cutters? Cupcake wrappers? More Americolor gel coloring? How did I just spend $50 and not even buy a cake pan?) They are awesome and I really recommend dropping by their store. You can also buy most of that stuff on Amazon and it's a bit of an initial investment but totally worth it. My $7 piping bag has literally frosted 1000's of cupcakes and it's so much faster than applying the frosting with a knife (not to mention the aesthetics!) Form meets function? Sign me up!

PS This kit looks like a good place to start if you are new to piping cupcakes- my bag is a little bigger but I think this could do a great job and would be easy to learn with.

What are you making for your Valentine this week? A tried a true recipe or something new? I've pinned a million recipes to try and am slowly getting there, one recipe at a time. I tried the homemade heart oreos floating around the internet last night and they didn't turn out quite as expected (I think my dough was a little soft for some reason?) Follow up post soon I hope. They were certainly delicious (I made mine chocolate) and need to be shipped out of my house asap.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
from Anne Strawberry
{printable recipe here}
1 cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ounce red food coloring (one small bottle- I buy mine in bulk at Smart and Final)
1 box German chocolate cake mix (I recommend Betty Crocker)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients in stand mixer and beat for two minutes until combined. Using a 2-tablespoon scoop, scoop into 24 paper-cup lined muffin tins.

Bake for 21-24 minutes or until cupcakes spring back slightly when touched and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on racks and frost once completely cooled.

Cream Cheese Frosting

from Anne Strawberry
1 package of cream cheese, softened (I like to use Neufchatel, less fat and I don't notice much difference)
1/2 cup butter, softened (one stick)
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds of one vanilla pod, scraped
dash of salt
6 cups of powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency, this is a baseline)
1 Tablespoon meringue powder

In a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the milk, vanilla, and salt, and blend.

Next, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, cover the bowl of the mixer with a dish towel, and turn it on low until everything is combined. Then increase the speed for a minute or so until the frosting is light, fluffy, and delicious. The meringue powder will help set the frosting after it dries so it holds its shape.

Add 1 T. Lemon or orange zest and substitute juice for the milk to make a tangy citrus frosting