Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes

I adore cream cheese frosting.  In my opinion, there is no better frosting out there.  So when Corey asked me to make red velvet cupcakes for Valentine's day I quickly agreed!  I decided to make them in mini form since I got a mini cupcake tin for Christmas this year and knew they would be perfect to bring into work.  I made a normal batch of cupcakes (that yields 12) and got 48 mini cupcakes out of it!  That way everyone felt a lot less guilty about eating 2 or 3!  I stuffed the icing in a plastic baggie and cut off one of the corners and used that as a piping bag, it worked perfect to get the icing on the tiny cupcakes.

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from my Vanilla Cupcakes
yeilds 48 mini cupcakes (or 12 regular size)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 cup milk
red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Add red food coloring until desired red color.  Divide among 48 mini (or 12 standard) lined cupcake tins.

Bake for 12 to 20 minutes in preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted, comes out clean.  Note: I started checking them at 12 minutes, since the mini are so much smaller, they cooked much faster. Place on a rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
yields plenty frosting for 12 standard cupcakes
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz of cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and cream cheese, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.  I used between 2 - 2 1/2 cups.  Use less for stronger cream cheese taste and more for sweeter icing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup - Lightened up!

Oh my goodness was this soup delicious!  Last year I made this rediculous Loaded Baked Potato Soup for the Superbowl rather than making a bunch of appetizers.  It was a fun indulgence and a great dinner to go along with the game.  This year I wanted to do something similar.  I had been saving this recipe from Lauren and absolutely loved her idea to use pretzel rolls as the bread bowls.  I mean, I just can't tell you enough how good this soup was!  It tasted so indulgent without being terribly heavy since its the lightened up version!  This is a perfect Sunday dinner on a cold evening, especially a Superbowl type of evening!

Trader Joe's was out of of pretzel rolls so I used mini loafs instead, we had plenty of leftovers!

Lightened up Broccoli Cheese Soupvia Call Me Mrs. Rapp

1/2 onion, diced
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour 
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 cup half-and-half 
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets 
1 pinch nutmeg 
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar & white cheddar) 
salt & pepper
splash of chicken broth, if needed for thinning (I didn't need this)
optional: bread bowls or pretzel rolls!

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook the onions for 3 to 4 minutes.

Sprinkle flour on top. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute or so until bubbly, then pour in milk and half-and-half.  Add nutmeg, then add broccoli, a small dash of salt, and plenty of black pepper.
Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

Stir in cheese and allow to melt.  Taste seasonings and adjust if needed.  If you serve it in a bread bowl or pretzel roll, just scoop out the insides and add soup. (You can also throw it in the oven under the broiler to make it a little bit firmer and toasted if needed. I just left it as is.) 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Picatta

Chicken Picatta...mmmmm!  This is a very well known "restaurant" dish and one that might surprise you at how quickly it pulls together.  All it takes is boiling your pasta, dredging and cooking your chicken, then throwing together your sauce.  Its an easy and impressive weeknight meal.  We absolutely loved the lemony sauce!  I went with a recipe that called for chicken broth rather than white wine since I'm pregnant and its also cheaper.  While they are pretty interchangable, I love the white wine version and would probably exchange them next time I made this! 

Chicken Picatta

2 chicken breasts, buterflied and cut in half (or if you have thin ones you can just use 4)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
all-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock (or dry white wine)
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 package of thin spagetti

Boil pasta water and cook according to package directions. 

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.  When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes.  When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes.  Remove and transfer to plate.  Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil.  When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner.  Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers.  Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor.  Check for seasoning.  Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove chicken to platter.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously.  Add half of the pasta and stir to coat, add additional pasta if you have excess sauce (I think I ended up using about 3/4 my pasta).  Add pasta & sauce to a plate & top with chicken.  Garnish with parsley.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

I have been wanting to make simple refried bean & cheese enchiladas for a while because I knew they would be a big hit with Corey.  They were so easy and quick to make.  Enchiladas are great because you don't really need a recipe, you can just stuff them with whatever you have on hand or whatever you feel like!  I wish I would have made a double batch of these.  I don't know how, but I still underestimate how much my husband eats.  I was thinking we would have leftovers...no way! 

corn tortillas stuffed with refried beans, cheese, & salsa

layed in the pan

pour enchilada sauce over the top, then more cheese!

mmmmm, straight out of the oven

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas
yields 6-8 enchiladas

1 can refried beans
shredded cheese
6-8 corn tortillas*
1 can enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread beans in the middle of tortillas.  Sprinkle a small amount of cheese down the middle as well as a small spoonful of salsa if desired.  Roll tortillas and place seam side down in baking pan.  Once you have filled all of your tortillas, pour enchilada sauce over the top.  Sprinkle more cheese over the top of the enchiladas.  Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through. 

*Note:  we love using corn because they get soft but crisp up a little on the edges and add a nice texture.  Feel free to use flour or whole wheat flour tortillas if you prefer!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Roasted Green Beans w/ Balsamic & Parmesan

I have to admit, green beans have never been my favorite veggie.  Green beans and carrots are the ones I usually need some sort of flavoring to cover up the taste in order for me to choke them down!  Sorry!  However, these green beans were really, really good!  Lauren served them with the stuffed pork tenderloin and I loved them.  Green beans happen to be one of Corey's favorite veggies, so I keep a big bag of them (along with other veggies I like) in the freezer to quickly steam them as a side to dinner.  Needless to say I am happy to come across a recipe like this that I love too.  These were so easy to throw together and roast while my pork tenderloin was roasting as well.

Roasted Green Beans w/ Balsamic & Parmesan

1 lb fresh green beans
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Trim ends of beans and cut beans in half so you have bite-sized pieces.

Place cut beans on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with S&P.  Toss green beans with tongs or hands to coat.  Make sure to spread them out in a single layer on baking sheet.

Roast 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn oven up to 450 and roast for additional 10-15 minutes.

Season beans to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper if needed, then sprinkle with finely grated parmesan. Serve hot.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pork Tenderloin stuffed w/ Goat Cheese, Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This was by-far the most amazing pork tenderloin I've ever made!  It is a beautiful and impressive dish to serve, and it was so incredibly easy too!  My friend Lauren had us girls over for dinner a few weeks ago and made us this delicious meal and I couldn't wait to make it at home as soon as she posted the recipe!  Make this, you won't be sorry!!!

my ingredient list

my pork tenderloin package had two small tenderloins included.  Here they are both split open and one spread w/ filling

after filling, I wrapped them up and secured w/ toothpicks

out of the oven!


Pork Tenderloin stuffed w/ Goat Cheese, Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Call Me Mrs. Rapp
yields 4-6

pork tenderloin (my 1.5 lb package included 2 tenderloins; I used both)
2 oz. sun-dried tomatoes
2 oz. light cream cheese
1.5 oz. goat cheese
6 oz. spinach, roughly cut or torn
1/3 cup pesto
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, pesto and garlic in a bowl.  Mix until well combined.

Create a slit in the pork tenderloin, lengthwise, so it lays flat like a book (careful not to cut all the way through).  Spread mixture onto tenderloin, and fold back around filing lengthwise.  Use toothpicks to secure.

Place stuffed tenderloin on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork is 155 degrees.  Note: I would highly suggest using a meat thermometer as cook time can vary depending on the thickness.

Let pork rest for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes

 So I have a little surprise news for you.......

We are pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right!  We are so excited to finally be able to share the news!  We are beyond blessed by the Lord!  We are expecting the little one mid-August, right after we celebrate our 3rd year anniversary!  If you would like to follow along with my pregnancy journey please add our new family blog to your reader:  jourdanleighfam.blogspot.com.

Now on to cupcakes!!!  Before we even started trying I had it all planned in my head how I was going to share the news with our families in a really fun creative way.  And then it happened and honestly all my ideas went out the door!  I mean this was my family and Corey's family and how could I keep the secret from them!  Basically we just ended up telling them as soon as possible :) 

Then a few more weeks went by and we decided we were comfortable telling our close friends.  So one Friday night when my closest girlfriends and I were getting together to make dinner and watch a movie at one of our houses, I decided to bake baby pink & baby blue cupcakes and see who would catch on!   It didn't take long before everyone realized what was up (since they knew we were trying) and I was happy to share the news in at least a semi-creative way!

These cupcakes were finally the cupcakes I had been searching for.  After making a few different cupcake recipes previously and always being disappointed by the outcome, I was determined to find a perfect moist cupcake.  These cupcakes are it.  They are incredibly moist and the icing is on point!  If you are looking for a great simple vanilla cupcake, this is for you!

Vanilla Cupcakes
yields 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Divide among 12 lined cupcake tins.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted, comes out clean. Place on a rack to cool.

Vanilla Buttercream
via original post Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of milk, if needed
2 sticks of butter, softened

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thick, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper & Bacon Fontina Pizza w/ Balsamic Glaze

This pizza was phenomenal!  It was the first time I had ever used fontina on pizza (at all actually) and it was the perfect pizza cheese I thought!  The combination of the crunchy, salty bacon with the sweet roasted red peppers & caramelized onions was amazing!  I love making pizzas on the weekend, they are so fun.  And this was a really easy pizza to make with a pre-made crust from Trader Joe's and a great mix up from the regular!

see all that bacon, roasted red peppers, & caramelized onions!

probably should have taken a pic before adding the rest of the cheese so you could see what was under there!

mmmm hot out of the oven

with the balsamic glaze
Roasted Red Pepper & Bacon Fontina Pizza w/ Balsamic Glaze
slightly adapted from How Sweet!

pizza dough
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1 small onion, sliced
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 roasted red peppers, cut into strips
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese
2 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to come to a boil, then let simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes until thickened & reduced to about 1/3-1/2 cup.  Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes to thicken.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add butter, sugar, and onion and cook over low heat until caramelized.

Add bacon to another skillet and cook until crispy and fat is rendered.  Remove with a slotted spoon and cool.  Crumble cooled bacon.

Roll/press pizza dough into desired shape and brush the surface with olive oil and top with minced garlic.  Sprinkle on 4 ounces of fontina cheese, then top with onions, red peppers, and bacon.  Sprinkle remaining fontina and romano evenly on top.  I also sprinkled with some dried basil.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.  When pizza is finished baking, drizzle glaze on top and serve.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted red peppers are called for in a lot of recipes and rather than continue to type it out each time, I thought these babies deserved their own post!  So when I was making this delicious pizza I'll share with you tomorrow, I decided to document the process of roasting the red peppers as well.  Love the difference a little natural light makes!  Come on spring!

start with two beautiful red peppers

get them nice and broiled

then peel off the skins!

Making your own roasted red peppers is really as easy as a four simple steps:

1.  Turn your oven onto the broiler setting.  Place red peppers on their side in a roasting pan of some sort. 
2.  Roast on all sides turning every few minutes as needed until all sides are blackened.
3.  Remove peppers from the oven and cover pan with a clean kitchen towel allowing peppers to steam for about 5-10 minutes.
4.  Once peppers have cooled, carefully peel off blackened skin.  Then remove stem and seeds from inside.