Meg’s Cooking Corner

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Candy Corn Cupcakes

With Halloween around the corner, life is busy with finding those perfect costumes, making treats for halloween parties and building excitment for the big night. I have become hooked on Pinterest, and it's been fun to find lots of great Halloween ideas there. I wanted to make some cute but simple cupcakes and loved this idea I saw here to make layers of color like candy corn. Dress up my favorite white wedding cupcake recipe with food gel, halloween liners, sprinkles and of course candy corn, and it made some cute little cupcakes!

Candy Corn Cupcakes

1 Duncan Hines white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites
-Add a tsp of almond extract (in addition to the vanilla) if you wish to have a different flavor.
Yellow and orange Wilton food gel (about a 1/2 tsp. of each)

Preheat oven to 325F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (you'll need up to 36). In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar and salt. Add remaining ingredients except for food coloring and beat with hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until well blended.

Divide batter equally into two bowls. Mix about 1/2 heaping tsp. of yellow coloring into one bowl of batter and 1/2 heaping tsp. of orange coloring into the other bowl. Stir until colors are to your liking.
Divide the yellow batter evenly among the muffin tins. I used a standard cookie scoop, which measures about 1 Tbsp. Holding the edges of each pan firmly, bang the pan a few times on the counter to level out the batter. Repeat the process with the orange batter. Fill cupcake liner about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. When ready, swirl the frosting onto the cupcakes using an Wilton 1M tip and garnish with sprinkles and a candy corn. Here's what the cupcake colors look like:

Frost with your favorite white frosting or use this recipe:

Wedding Cupcake Buttercream3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp whipping cream

In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on low speed. Mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for another three minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired spreading/piping consistency. Yield: Enough to frost 12 cupcakes    

*This recipe doubles or triples well

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stuffed Pizza Rolls

Now that my oldest son is a teenager, he wants to eat all the time. And to my dismay, he constantly asks for unhealthy things I don't buy like hot pockets and frozen pizzas rolls. So I was excited to find on the blog Our Best Bites a recipe for homemade stuffed pizza rolls. This recipe is very quick to make, easy to adapt, healthier than the storebought stuff and makes a teenage boy happy and full (for the moment).

Stuffed Pizza Rolls

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough (or make your own)
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
mozzarella cheese
marinara/pizza sauce for dipping
Pizza toppings of choice: pepperoni, sausage, vegetables, etc.

*For a different variation: try chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and dip in ranch sauce

Preheat oven to 400. Unroll your pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so it's about 12" x 8". Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 24 squares (6 x 4 rows).

Place cheese and desired toppings on each square. Carefully lift up the corners of each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. Pinch to make sure each ball is sealed shut and then place seam side down in  lightly sprayed pie pans (or similiar sized dishes). Brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil or melted butter. Sprinkle on garlic and Italian seasoning and top with parmesan cheese. Cook them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm with warmed marinara sauce on the side for dipping.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Orange Chocolate Cake

My oldest son has all the makings of a foodie. Although he loves the typical teen fare of junk food, he will try everything and even loves foods such as octopus and shrimp with ice cream (don't ask!) I love it when his birthday comes around because he always has an unusual birthday cake request. This year he wanted an orange and chocolate cake. I wasn't too sure about the combo, but was pleased to find this cake by Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa). I knew she wouldn't let me down, and sure enough, it was wonderful: orange cake dotted with chocolate chips, an orange glaze to keep the cake moist, and a chocolate ganache to top it all off! Thanks for another great cake request, Jake!

Orange Chocolate Cake

*This cake would also be wonderful baked in mini bundt cake pans for a delicious fall treat for friends!

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temp
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temp
1/4 cup grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp instant coffee granules (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 (175C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.

Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks or chips with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Tomato Basil Pizza

We love to make homemade pizzas around our house. I usually will make one kid-friendly (a.k.a. boring pepperoni) pizza for the kids, and one fun pizza for my husband and I. Our favorites are bbq chicken bacon, chicken pesto, or my new favorite creation: tomato basil pizza. I had a bunch of leftover fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil leaves from making my favorite tomato caprese salad, and decided to use them in a pizza. The result was a pizza that is fresh, satisfying, simple to make and so good!

Fresh Tomato Basil Pizza

fresh mozzarella cheese, grate a little and cut the rest into slices
1-2 tomatoes, sliced thin
fresh basil leaves, cut into long strips
fresh grated parmesan cheese

pizza crust (try my favorite bread machine dough recipe or this one)

Pizza sauce: (makes enough sauce for 2 pizzas)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400. Make pizza dough as directed. Roll dough out onto pizza pan. Set aside. Combine all pizza sauce ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour over crust. Sprinkle some grated mozzarella cheese over sauce. Arrange fresh mozzarella slices, tomato slices and fresh basil leaves around pizza (see picture). Sprinkle with more grated mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-25 min until golden brown and bubbling.