Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My daughter requested red velvet cupcakes for her 10th birthday. I bought a boxed mix because I'd never made them from scratch, but then decided to experiment. I created this recipe based on my "Perfect Vanilla Cupcake" recipe that I love. I changed a couple of things and made sure it had the essential 3 ingredients, cocoa powder, buttermilk, and red food coloring. They are very dense which is just how I like them, and not too sweet. I tried a new frosting recipe. It's pretty basic, except it mixes for a LONG time. I really liked how it turned out, and I'll probably use it next time I'm piping on cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBSPs cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large eggs, room temperature
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1 TBSP red food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
4. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and food coloring; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (I use a muffin scoop that holds about 1/4 a cup).Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from mycupcakeaddiction on  youtube
1/2 cup softened butter
 4 oz softened cream cheese
5 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsps milk (if necessary)

1. Place butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mix on high for 5 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar. Once it is just mixed, turn the mixer to high and mix for 5 minutes. If it is a little too stiff, add 1-2 tsps of milk and mix in.

Slow Cooker BBQ Cranberry Meatballs

I have really been into slow cooker meals lately. When my kids get home from school and the chaos starts, sometimes I don't have as much time as I'd like to make dinner. It's always so nice to know dinner is already cooking. This recipe is more of an appetizer/party recipe, but why not make it a meal with rice. The original recipe called for 2 cans of cranberry and 2 bottles of BBQ sauce, but I made it with 1 of each and it was plenty of sauce for us. The meatballs don't have to cook very long because it's really just heating them since they are already cooked. 

Slow Cooker BBQ Cranberry Meatballs
adapted from sixsistersstuff.com
1 (24 or 32 oz) pkg frozen meatballs
1 (14 oz) can jellied cranberry sauce
1 (20 oz) bottle of BBQ sauce

Combine jellied cranberry sauce and BBQ sauce in a crock pot and stir until smooth. Add meatballs and stir until well coated. Cook for 2-5 hours on low. Serve over rice or with toothpicks.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Carrot Sheet Cake

I love sheet cakes! They feed a lot of people and are easy to frost. I made this one for Easter. I wanted to try it because of the fabulous description given on the website melskitchencafe.com. She writes, "this recipe has been around for a long time and was a renowned recipe in a large bakery that has since closed down. It definitely lives up to its fame! This cake is dense and moist and perfectly spiced. Topped with the whipped cream cheese frosting and it is a dream." I will definitely make this again. My 1 1/2 pounds of carrots gave me about 4 cups loosely packed. I peeled mine, but the original recipe left them unpeeled. I also added 5 minutes to the bake time because the middle wasn't done. So make sure you test the middle before you take it out.

Carrot Sheet Cake
4 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup water
2 tsps vanilla
3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
2 tsps salt
2 tsps baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 pounds carrots, washed and ends trimmed
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsps vanilla
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour an 11X17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Shred the carrots, finely, on a box grater or food processor. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, applesauce, water and vanilla. Whisk in the sugar to combine until evenly mixed.
3. In a second bowl mix flour, spices, salt, soda and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until moistened. Gently fold the carrots into the batter until evenly distributed. Bake the cake for 30-32 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely.
4. For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, vanilla and butter with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the frosting and whip to combine (don’t overmix or the frosting will become too stiff). The frosting should be smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Slow Cooker Ham

I tried a new way to cook my Easter ham this year. I stuck in in the slow cooker! I loved this idea because it freed up the oven for my potato casserole. There are many recipes online for slow cooker ham. In every single one I looked at, they had you discard the glaze packet and mix your own brown sugar and seasonings. That didn't make sense to me. SO, here's what I did. I put my 8lb. ham in my slow cooker and rubbed the seasoning packet all over it, top and bottom. Then I poured 1 cup of pineapple juice over the top. I cooked it on low for 6 hours. Next time I might try 4-5 hours because it seemed a tiny bit drier than I would have liked. Other than that it worked like a charm.

This is my before pic. I forgot to take an after one because we were ready to eat!

Easter Bird Nests

I've been wanting to make these and I finally remembered to buy the ingredients. My kids helped out, but the pretzel part was a little too difficult for them, so they just helped stick the eggs and peeps on. I didn't put peeps on all of them because some of us don't like them. We took a few over to our neighbors. It's a fun easy spring treat.

Easter Bird Nests
1 pkg (24oz) white almond bark
1 16oz bag of pretzel sticks
Candy eggs
Peeps (optional)

1. Melt the almond bark in a microwave safe bowl. Remove 1/4 cup of melted bark and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, dump about 1/2 of pretzel sticks in and pour melted bark on top. Stir well to coat pretzels. Add more pretzels if needed. I used about 3/4 of my bag. Don't use too many or they wont stick together well.
3. Scoop a small amount of pretzels onto waxed paper or foil. Using forks, arrange sticks into a nest shape. I made about 22 nests.
4. Dip bottom of peeps, and candy eggs into reserved melted bark and place on nests.
5. Let harden and store in an airtight container.

These are the eggs we used. They are my favorite!!

Since they were so cute, I displayed them on my cupcake stand.