Sunday, June 22, 2014

Carrot Cake Cupcakes, take two

Carrot Cupcakes 1

Do you guys remember the carrot cake cupcakes I made back in 2011? I had another potluck last night and this one came with a "challenge" to incorporate vegetables into all the dishes. I decided I wanted to make those carrot cake cupcakes again, and this time with the frosting recipe that smitten kitchen had included (maple cream cheese frosting) since none of the attendees were lactose intolerant.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes by smitten kitchen
Makes 12 cupcakes (I halved her recipe, just like last time)

1 cup all purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups canola oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated peeled carrots (used up around 2 carrots for me)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake molds with papers.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

3. Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean (I baked them for 20 minutes in my toaster oven). Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Carrot Cupcakes 2
{Cooled and ready to be frosted}

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting by smitten kitchen
I also halved her recipe and still had some leftover

1 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 cup pure maple syrup

In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.

I chilled mine for over 30 minutes, but it still started "melting" as soon as I started frosting the cupcakes. And then since the cupcakes weren't consumed until the end of the potluck, the frosting looked like a bit of a mess. Oh well. I also dusted some maple sugar on top of the cupcakes since I felt that the maple flavour in the frosting was a bit too subtle.

I thought the cupcakes were just okay, but everyone was really nice and told me they loved my cupcakes. So yay for it being a success!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Diet Friendly Recipes

In case you weren't aware, I've been on a wheat-free diet all year long. That's why I haven't been baking very much, although I kind of have no excuse now that I own gluten-free flour. Anyway, all the wonderful things that people seem to experience after they cut wheat out of their diet (weight loss, decreased appetite, etc) haven't been happening to me... so I decided I needed to step up my game and go back on the diet I was on two years ago. Affectionally called the "no happiness" diet by yours truly, it is similar to the induction stage of Atkin's and basically entails cutting out carbs, sugar, and starch. (Those things make me happy, which is why I call this the "no happiness" diet :P) So two years ago, while on this diet, I basically ate tons of bacon, sausages, broccoli, and zucchini. In an attempt to avoid that same fate (been there, done that, so sick of them now) I decided to look for recipes on Pinterest. Found three that had potential, made them over the past three days, and was immediately crushed and disappointed. Sigh. But I'm still going to share those recipes with you here today :P

Savory Cheese Chive Muffins from Your Lighter Side

Savory Cheese Chive Muffins

So the recipe is actually for waffles, but I don't have a waffle maker so I decided to make muffins instead. The recipe should make 6 waffles; I doubled the recipe and got 12 muffins out of it.
Nutritional Information per waffle: Calories: 135, Carbohydrates: 3g, Fiber: .8g, Net Carbohydrates: 2.2g, Protein: 11.7g, Fat: 8.5g

1 cup processed, raw cauliflower (should resemble coarse crumbs)
1 cup processed mozzarella shredded cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese/shredded
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp chives
fresh parsley, optional
sun-dried tomatoes, optional

Heat waffle maker until ready. Add scant 1/4 cups filled with batter on the griddle. Set the timer for 4-6 minutes, peeking after minute four. If the waffle maker sticks, let cook slightly longer. Remove once cooked. allow to cool on a plate. Refrigerate remaining.

My notes:
-- I used 1 head of cauliflower, which yielded about two cups once processed. Apparently you can use "well drained, shredded zucchini" instead of cauliflower if you wish (got this from the comments section)
-- I replaced the 1 cup mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan with just 2 cups of a Mexican four shredded cheese blend. Yes, that means I'm missing 2/3 cups of cheese, but I felt my muffins were decently cheesy. Of course, the more cheese, the better, right?
-- I cooked the muffins at 350°F for 30 minutes and they seemed well cooked.

So the muffins weren't terrible; they tasted more like omelets than anything. But I really don't like cauliflower so I think that pretty much ruined the muffins for me. I also couldn't figure out a good sauce/side to eat the muffins with so I just miserably ate them with guacamole (avocadoes go well with omelets!). The recipe wasn't a disaster, but I won't be making these again.

Low Carb Revolution Rolls from Diet Plan 101

Low Carb Revolution Roll

One of the things I love most is bread and I have been so deprived of that this year. This was supposedly an acceptable bread substitute for those on Atkins, and it was an Induction friendly recipe. The recipe made six "rolls" which had 1.0g net carbs.

3 egg yolks, room temperature
3 Tbsp cream cheese (regular or light), room temperature
1 sachet sweetener (I used Splenda)
pinch of salt
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk egg yolks, cream cheese, sweetener and salt in a bowl until well blended.
3. In another clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy, then add in cream of tartar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
4. Gently fold in the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture until just blended, be very careful not to break the egg whites down.
5. Fill the batter into a greased 6-cup muffin top pan (or silicone baking mat/lined cookie sheet).
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

I will admit, it was cool seeing how eggs + cream cheese basically = "bread"... but it really was not bread. It was way too soft and moist and made this weird squishy noise every time I touched it. I actually made this recipe twice. The first time, I greased my muffin pan but the rolls still stuck to it. When I tried to scrape them off (after taking most of the rolls out), the protective coating of my pan came off so I had to toss it. The second time, I used cupcake liners, and that helped. But then the rolls stuck to the cupcake liners so I still lost some of the rolls. So the recipe says to use them "to make sandwiches or burgers." I cannot see how these flimsy things can be used to make a sandwich, which is what I was really hoping to make. The taste and texture of the rolls was also unpleasant to me so I consider this recipe a complete fail and cried on the inside while eating the rolls that I had made.

Greek Yogurt Egg Salad from Damn Delicious
Makes four servings

8 large eggs
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I used Japanese mayo)
1 teaspoon dried dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cover eggs with a tight-fitting lid and remove from heat; set aside for 8-10 minutes. Drain well and let cool before peeling and dicing.

In a large bowl, roughly mash eggs with Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, dill, salt and pepper, to taste.

So... I didn't boil the eggs the way she had written, but really you can boil them however you want. The point is to end up with 6 boiled eggs :P I also didn't have dried dill, but I like using fresh finely chopped pickles in my egg salad, so I added that instead. I normally love egg salad, so I thought having Greek yogurt would make this more diet-friendly and yet still delicious. The end result wasn't bad, but I quickly found myself feeling a bit nauseated eating it. It could be because I was eating it with the revolution rolls in an attempt to eat an "egg salad sandwich" and that combination was just... NO. After that experience I have no desire to ever eat this egg salad again, so now I have to figure out what to do with the rest of the large container of Greek yogurt I bought...

To conclude, I tried the above three recipes and ended up not liking any of them. So guess what I'm eating every single day? Zucchini. To be more specific, I eat scrambled eggs for breakfast, baked cheesy zucchini for lunch, and meat with garlic spread and avocado for dinner. Which aren't bad, just monotonous. But I'll be cheating on my diet next week, so I'm excited for that! (And also dreading it :P)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pineapple Cake Pops

Pineapple Cake Pops 5

Last fall Hostess with the Mostess blogged about a Tutti Frutti birthday party and included pictures of pineapple cake pops. These made the rounds on Pinterest, of course, and caught my eye. I strongly associate pineapples with the TV series Psych (obvi) and immediately knew I had to make these in honour of Psych's upcoming series finale. Psych finally ended this past Wednesday and so I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday making these cake pops. It was my first time ever making cake pops, and what an adventure it was! Of course I went to Bakerella's website to research this, since she is the queen of cake pops, so thank you Bakerella for all your guidance!

So the first part of making cake pops is, of course, making cake. I found a recipe for Pineapple Cupcakes on Bakerella's website and decided to use it to make pineapple cake. I halved her recipe and baked the batter in a cake pan instead of cupcake trays. Then I took her mango frosting recipe and halved that as well. Because you need cake and frosting to make cake pops!

Pineapple Cake from Bakerella

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour since I'm on a no-wheat diet)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature (technically should be 1.5 since the full recipe calls for 3, but how do you halve an egg?)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
10 oz. crushed pineapple, drained and pureed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer for several minutes. Add the eggs one at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl with each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in three additions with the milk in two additions (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Mix until combined with each addition.
5. Add the pineapple and mix until combined.
6. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake for about 15 minutes.

Pineapple Cake Pops 1

Mango Frosting from Bakerella

1 mango
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 lb box of confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Cut mangoes. Place mango pieces in food processor and puree enough so you have about 1/4 cup.
2. Beat butter and vanilla until creamy.
3. Add confectioners' sugar in several additions. beating until well combined with each addition.
4. Add 1/4 cup of mango puree and beat until completely combined.

I actually made 1/3 cup of mango puree and added it in, which turned out to be too much mango puree and messed with my frosting consistency. So I had to add in more confectioners' sugar to balance it out, which means my frosting was probably a bit sweeter than it should have been.

So I have the cake and the frosting... now what? Time to turn to yet another Bakerella recipe--the one for yellow cake pops! Her recipe was for smiley face cake pops, but same difference :P

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
-- Below: My cooled and crumbled cake, waiting to be mixed with the frosting.

Pineapple Cake Pops 2

2. Mix thoroughly with frosting.
*IMPORTANT NOTE* Bakerella had a small note about how you may not need all the frosting, so you should start out by using most of the frosting and then adding more if you need to. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I glossed over this and added probably 95% of my frosting and that was too much. My cake to frosting ratio was off and now my "mix" just looked like it was cake batter -_- Be smart and put in less frosting than you think you'll need and then add more as needed.

3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Should make around 25.
-- Below: Most of my cake balls were probably bigger than they were supposed to be, but it was so hard to roll them because of my mistake with the frosting. I made 27 cake balls and then stopped despite having a good amount of leftover "mix" since I couldn't fit any more on my tray.

Pineapple Cake Pops 3

4. Melt yellow candy melts (I bought a 1 lb. package at Michael's) in the microwave per directions on package (30 second intervals, stirring in between)--for this step you only need to melt a few candy melts.

5. Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. Insert a little less than halfway.
-- So I was cheap and didn't buy lollipop sticks when I went to Michael's (I don't even know how much they are; didn't bother looking for them) since I had long kabob sticks at home and thought I could just cut them. Turns out kebab sticks really don't like being cut and I gave up after cutting 10 of them. That was a painful experience... So I ended up with just 10 cake pops since I left the rest as cake balls.

-- Option 1: If you are finishing the cake pops in the same day, place them in the freezer for a little while to firm up. Make sure they are completely cold, and when you handle them in the later steps, only take a couple out at a time so they don't warm up.
-- Option 2: Place in the refrigerator overnight. (This is the option that I went for since I did everything up until this step on Tuesday.)

7. (Melt the yellow candy melts again.) Once the cake balls are firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the melted candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered, remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don't tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off too. (Pro tip: tap your wrist, not the pop) Then place in a styrofoam block to dry. Once completely dry, can re-dip for smooth coverage.
-- This part was horrible. I don't think my candy coating was melted to the correct consistency, since it was pretty thick, and as a result would form lumps on my (already lumpy) cake balls. I was afraid of overheating the candy melts in the microwave, and also had to worry about my candy coating starting to thicken/harden as soon as it came out of the microwave. I can see why my friend bought a BabyCakes chocolatier when she was making cake pops.
-- Below: Can you see the lumpiness on my cake pops? Pinterest had told me I could use an egg carton as a cake pop stand... this did not work out very well because the cake pops were constantly falling onto each other. Investing in a cake pop stand would probably be a good decision if I decide to make more of these... (Can you also see how I cut the kebab sticks at uneven lengths? Ugh so much fail in this picture.)

Pineapple Cake Pops 4

So now I had my yellow cake pops. How to turn them into pineapples though? In addition to my yellow candy melts, I had also bought brown and green ones. I melted some brown ones with the yellow ones and then piped that mixed colour onto my cake pops in x shapes to create the crosshatch. Unfortunately that didn't turn out as nicely as the original picture I was trying to imitate. I then melted the green candy melts and piped out "leaf" patterns onto my parchment paper. Once they dried, I dipped them into the melted green candy coating and stuck them onto the cake pops. And voila! Pineapple cake pops.

{With my friend about to watch the Psych series finale}

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Avocado and Corn Salsa

My mum's friend dropped off a whole grocery bag full of limes the other day. We're Korean; there are no limes used in any Korean food! I was at a loss as to what to do with them... having never made pie from scratch, the very idea of making one terrifies me (because, of course, the first thing that popped into my mind was key lime pie). Then my mind went to Mexican food... except I'm also not a big fan of tacos. What to do?! Look at all my bookmarked recipes... which were all about baking, of course. I didn't feel like baking. Time to search Serious Eats! And what did I find but a simple recipe for Healthy & Delicious Avocado and Corn Salsa! Perfect :)

Avocado and Corn Salsa

Avocado and Corn Salsa from Serious Eats

1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 ripe red tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 or 2 ears sweet corn, cooked
1 scallion, both white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the avocado in the bottom of a nonreactive mixing bowl and gently toss it with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Spoon the tomato on top of the avocado.
2. Cut the kernels off the corn. The easiest way to do this is to lay the cob flat on a cutting board and remove the kernels using lengthwise strokes of a chef's knife. Add the corn kernels to the mixing bowl. The salsa can be prepared to this stage up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate it, covered.
3. Just before serving, add the jalapeño(s) and cilantro to the mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice as necessary and season with salt and pepper to taste; the salsa should be highly seasoned.

So of course I made several changes to this recipe:
-- I wasn't kidding about the bag full of limes. 2-3 Tbsp of lime juice is not going to be good enough. I decided to triple this recipe and used 7 limes. Turned out that was one lime too much. My salsa was more like soup :P
-- You would think that tripling the recipe means multiplying everything by 3. But I felt like the ratio of avocados to the whole salsa was off so I ended up using 4 avocados instead. I did only use 3 tomatoes, but that was the only item that was correctly multiplied. I forgot to multiply the scallion and I used almost an entire cup of chopped fresh cilantro.
-- I couldn't be bothered with cooking corn and then cutting the kernals off! So I bought two 15.25oz cans of sweet corn and used that instead ;)

I really like this salsa! It's delicious and addicting once paired with chips.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Gooey Butter Cake

Remember how I spent last NYE making Sopapilla Cheesecake? Well, the tradition of baking delicious but unhealthy desserts on NYE continues! This NYE Gardenia and Keri again came over to my house and we made Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake. This scrumptious treat can be found posted a lot on Pinterest under various names, including "chess squares." So good!

Gooey Butter Cake 2
{How do they get it to cut so nicely in their pictures?}

Gooey Butter Cake by Paula Deen

1 package yellow cake mix*
(Paula's says 18 1/4 oz, but the largest I could find was 16.5 oz. Worked fine for me.)
1 egg
8 Tbsp butter, melted

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 Tbsp butter, melted
1 16 oz box powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13 glass dish with non-stick spray.
2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of the glass dish.
3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and butter; beat together until fully incorporated.
4. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Top should be a light brown color. Cool, slice, and enjoy.

Happy New Year everyone! May your 2014 be full of deliciousness :)

Gooey Butter Cake 1
{Fresh out of the oven}

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes

As you know, I have a potluck with my high school friends almost every month. This month, I decided to do something different. I am a huge Game of Thrones fan and had recently bought the official cookbook on Amazon. I decided that I wanted our winter potluck to be Game of Thrones themed, with everyone making a dish from the cookbook. It just so happened that our potluck took place last night, on the first night of winter. Winter is Coming? WINTER HAS COME!

Sansa has really grown as a character this past season, so I decided I wanted to make her favourite Lemon Cakes. The cookbook provided two recipes for the lemon cakes: one Elizabethan, and one Modern. I decided to do the Elizabethan one since that would be more similar to the one that Sansa loves (as if she's a real live person :P). They were quite simple to make and a great hit at the potluck.

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes 1

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes from The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook
Makes 36 small cakes (I ended up with 30; they are more like moist cookies than cakes)

2 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed
2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
Grated zest from 2 lemons
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a large baking sheet (I ended up using three).

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and granulated sugar. Cut in the butter, then add the zest and the whole egg and yolks. Mix thoroughly, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is no longer sticky and can be easily shaped by hand. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little water or lemon juice until the dough comes together. (I ended up needing the juice from about 1 1/2 lemons in order to get my dough to stay together when I rolled them into balls.)

3. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch across and place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, giving them room to spread as they bake.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops are just slightly golden. Allow the cakes to cool for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack.

5. Mix the confectioners' sugar and milk to a smooth consistency. Once the cakes have cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cookies. (I ended up using 2x the amount listed in order to have enough of the glaze.)

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes 2

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Avocado Devilled Eggs

I had my Christmas/Year-End potluck last night with some ladies I've known for years from Young Nak. We decided to have a theme ingredient that everyone must incorporate into their dishes (except dessert): GARLIC!

I know devilled eggs are not the first thing that come to mind when people say garlic, but the recipe does call for garlic powder so it works ;) I've been wanting to try these out for a while anyway so it was perfect. The recipe comes from this blog called Eating Well... Living Thin(er). I haven't really checked out Linda's recipes, but now that I've fallen in love with this dish, I should! It was a major hit at the potluck so I recommend it if you love avocado and eggs (like me!) :D

Avocado Devilled Eggs

Avocado Devilled Eggs from Eating Well... Living Thin(er)

6 hard boiled eggs
1 medium avocado, diced small
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Salt to taste

1. Cut boiled eggs in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out yolks.
2. Mash yolks with a fork. Stir in diced avocados, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.
3. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with cayenne or fresh, chopped parsley.

Very simple and quick! I didn't have cayenne pepper, however, so I just skipped that part. I usually use paprika instead in my devilled eggs, but I didn't this time because I had already packed it up into storage (my house is currently undergoing fumigation for termites -_-). I also used garlic salt instead of just normal table salt so I can get some extra garlic taste in there! ;) And even though I was generous in my scooping, I still had a bit of leftover mixture... which was not a problem for me since it was delicious on its own. Enjoy! :)