Sunday, March 21, 2010

Appetizers for BUNCO!

Never in my life did I ever think I would be the BUNCO type.  But when you move to a city where you don't know many people, you learn to expand your horizon's.  Thank goodness I did!  BUNCO really is a fun and mindless game and a GREAT way for the ladies to hang out on a Saturday night.

We have LOTS of salmon in our freezer...thank you, I decided whatever I made was going to have salmon in it.  I opted for a variation on a smoked salmon cream cheese dip.  Alex and I smoked our own salmon with a stove top smoker my dad gave us.  LOVE this product!  Makes smoking salmon SO EASY!!!!

I have a ravioli maker that REALLY helps out for this dish.  You can do it without this item, but if you are challenged with sealing your 'pillows' like I am, you'll appreciate the ravioli maker.  I got mine at Williams Sonoma a couple of years ago.

Smoked Salmon Dip Pillows
8 oz smoked salmon
8 oz room temperature cream cheese
6 tablespoons green onions
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg + an extra egg for an egg wash
1 package frozen puff pastry

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Defrost puff pastry for 30 minutes.

Mix together smoked salmon, cream cheese, green onions heavy cream and egg until well combined and set aside.

Cut puff pastry into three pieces on the fold.  Roll out so it will fit over the ravioli 'pot'.  Fill each 'pot' with the salmon mixture, about a teaspoon in each. 

Roll out another piece of puff pastry for the top of the pillow.  Place the metal ravioli cutter on top and press down until pieces are separated.  You may need a ravioli cutter for this part.

Place pillows on a greased cookie sheet and brush with egg wash.  Cook for 12-14 minutes.  Serve immediately.  

These babies were a HIT at BUNCO!  And I won the most games for the night!  YEAH!!! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I have been wanting to make Guinness cupcakes FOREVER!  Last year for St. Patrick's day I was pregnant and felt too miserable to go to great lengths to make a dessert.  But this year....GUINNESS CUPCAKES, BABY!

These are Irish Car Bomb's in a PERFECTLY packaged cupcake!  They are a little labor intensive, but SO worth it!  I will find a way to put Guinness in EVERY chocolate cupcake I ever make from now until I die. 

I have a NEATO tool to share that I stumbled upon while making these cupcakes.  Because I don't follow directions well, I realized half way through that I didn't have enough muffin tins to make all the cupcakes.  I had pulled out some new cupcake papers I had just bought and showed them to Alex.  He pointed out to me that I could cook the cupcakes in these papers...Yeah...WHATEVER...But NO...I REALLY COULD!!!  Reynolds Backing Cups ROCK!!!

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
Thank you to Confessions of a Tart for linking me to the recipe.
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.

Put the butter with the beer in a sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a mixer bowl, beat the eggas and the sour cream together. Add the beer/butter/cocoa mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat briefly just to combine. Using a rubbet spatula, fold the batter until completely combined, making sure to incorporate little pockets of flour on the bottom so that the batter is of equal consistency everywhere.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way if you want flatter cupcakes and 3/4 if you want domed. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick or a slim knife inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

NOTE: Just in case you are impatient, like me, and think it would be better and faster to do this step by putting the chocolate in the cream on the stove...DON'T...if the temperature gets too high, the oils in the chocolate will separate and make chocolate chunky floating in its oils, rather than smooth and tasty!  I had to redo this part to get the beautiful ganache you see below.
Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped. Using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes.

I didn't actually wait for the ganache to be cool before I piped it.  I didnt even using a piping bag.  I poured it into the hole in the cupcake I made.

Make the frosting: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffly. Slowly add the powdered sugar, letting it incorporate, utnil the butter becomes thicker and stiff (you will know when this happens). Slowly drizzle the Bailey's (or milk or cream or a combination thereof) and whip until combined. Ice and decorate the cupcakes.
Just in case you are wondering why the recipe says 3-4 cups of powdered sugar...they bank on you shooting powdered sugar all over your kitchen.  :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Marinades ROCK!

These days I am all about simple and pure yummy...all at the same time.  How do I do it?  Marinades!  As I mentioned in my previous post, I like getting my meats at Costco but get tired of same old, same old.  Since my flank steak marinade was so successful I decided to try it out with salmon.  OH YEAH, BABY!  I scored this recipe off  If you haven't checked this site you...DO IT!  I always search recipes by highest rating and I haven't been let down yet. 

Grilled Gingered Salmon
1 cup soy sauce

1 cup muscovado (dark brown) sugar
1 (5 inch) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 (3 pound) whole salmon fillet with skin
1 untreated cedar plank

The recipe calls for three pounds of Salmon, but because it was just Alex and I tonight, only used a pound so I reduced the recipe into a third.  The original recipe called to grill the salmon on the cedar plank, but we weren't up for grilling tonight so we cooked the salmon in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.   
The marinade looked so fabulous I just couldn't dump it down the drain.  So I pulled a Rachael Ray and made a sauce out of it by cooking it down on the stove top on medium for 10 minutes.  We served it up over rice and drizzled the sauce over the top.  FREAKING FABULOUS!!!!  The salmon by itself with great, but the sauce added some SERIOUS flavor...especially to the rice.
I have to apologize up front for this was taken with my cell phone.  It was the only way you were going to see this dish before I devoured it. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alton Brown sure is quirky...but makes a GREAT flank steak!

For those of you that shop at Costco, you can appreciate getting food items in BULK.  I like being able to shop once and have food stashed in the freezer for when I don't feel like getting out and doing the grocery shopping.  The draw back to this method of shopping is you end up eating the same food over and over and over.  It can get a bit tedious.  I like to get the flank steak Costco offers, but I found I kept making fajita's with it.  That doesn't do me any good, especially if I am trying to get my blog readers new yummy recipes. :)  I decided for a change of pace and stumbled upon a recipe by Alton Brown.

I LOVE Food Network.  In fact, before child, I used to spend my Saturdays and Sundays camped out watching my favorite cooking shows.  Alton Brown was never on my line up of  shows I drooled over.  I appreciate the fact he is a food GEEK, but I just can't get into that guy.  His food, on the other hand, I can appreciate!

Freaking Yummy Flank Steak! (this isn't what Alton Brown calls it, but he also calls for you to use your blow dryer to blow on the charcoal...GEEK!)

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
4 scallions, washed and cut in 1/2
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into 3 equal pieces

Heat charcoal, preferably natural chunk, until grey ash appears. In a blender, put in oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, and sugar and puree. In a large heavy duty, zip top bag, put pieces of skirt steak and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Allow steak to marinate for 1 hour in refrigerator.

Remove steak from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Using a blow dryer, blow charcoal clean of ash. Once clean of ash lay steaks directly onto hot coals for 1 minute per side. When finished cooking, place meat in double thickness of aluminum foil, wrap, and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Remove meat from foil, reserving foil and juices. Slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Return to foil pouch and toss with juice. Serve with grilled peppers and onions, if desired.

I've included the recipe in it's entirity from Food Network's web site...Alex and I didn't go to the lengths of using the blow dryer on the coals...just in case you're wondering.  I marinated the steak as the recipe called for and then Alex just threw it on the grill until medium well. 

THIS IS THE BEST RECIPE FOR FLANK STEAK I HAVE COME ACROSS!!!!  You HAVE to try this.  If I was going to open a restaurant, I would use this recipe.  It was so good, you only get pictures of what we didn't eat the first night.  We used the leftovers over greens and had a KILLER steak salad.