Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oreo Surprise Cupcakes

We had some oreos around the house that nobody was eating, so of course I had to make something with them. So I made chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cookies and cream frosting! Here's what you need for the cupcakes
Flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, and boiling water. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar
Add in eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. This picture looks a little gross, but I promise it's good, just go with it
Stir that together until just combined. Now add the boiling water, and stir that in. (Batter will be thin)
Fill a muffin pan with cupcake liners, fill each tin 2/3 way full with batter
Place in the oven and bake. Here's the finished cupcakes
Take cupcakes out of the pan and cookie on wrack completely. While cooling, prepare frosting! You'll need butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and oreos
In a large bowl, mix butter and powdered sugar
Add vanilla and milk, beating well
Chop oreos into bite size pieces and fold into frosting
I frosted a cupcake, took a bite, and well.. I got nothing. It was good but I didn't say mmm and take another bite. It was missing something for sure. I was thinking of ways to make these cupcakes have the WOW factor, and the Parent Trap popped in my mind. You know the part where they eat oreos and peanut butter? I've tried it before and it's so yummy. So what would give these cupcakes the wow factor more than peanut butter? So I whipped up some peanut butter filling! All it takes is milk, peanut butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Since you have filling for the cupcakes, you need to make a place to put the filling. Take a sharp knife and cut a hole in the top of the cupcake
Fill that space with the peanut butter mixture and eat the piece you cut out. I ate all 24, but you're not supossed to know that. Anyways, here's the filled cupcake
Frost the cupcakes!
I cut into it so you could see the filling
The frosting got in the way, but you can still see it, and I'm so glad I did this. Perfect combo!

Oreo Surprise Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup boiling water

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla until just combined. Stir in the boiling water until combined. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, fill each one 2/3 way full with batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Take the cupcakes out of the pan and cool completely on a wire wrack. Prepare the filling.

4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup milk

Beat together powdered sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla. (The powdered sugar might go a little crazy, so watch out). Then add in milk slowly. Beat until well combined. Scoop into the hole's of the cupcakes. Then prepare the frosting.

1 cup butter, soft
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
10 Oreos, chopped

Beat together butter and powdered sugar until well combined. Mix in milk and vanilla. (You may need to add more milk if the frosting is not spreadable). Fold in Oreos. Once you have filled the cupcakes, frost them. Finally, they are ready to eat! Keep the cupcakes stored in the fridge.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken Salad BBQ Style

I love chicken salad and sometimes I get sick of just regular sweet or salty chicken salad. If you understand what I'm talking about and you like bbq, you should make this.  This recipe is from Cindy Griffin and it is delicious! Thanks so much Cindy! Here's what you'll need
Disregard the can of rotel, I honestly don't know why it's in there, but it's not in the chicken salad. I guess I just decided rotel goes with this kind of food. Anyways, you DO need chicken, green onions, black beans, mexicorn, salt, pepper, bbq sauce, mayo, and sour cream. Cook the chicken and chop into cubes. In a large bowl, stir together, drained and rinsed black beans, drained mexicorn, chopped green onions, and chicken.
In a separate bowl, combine bbq sauce, sour cream, mayo, salt, and pepper
Stir until well combined
Pour this over your first mixture
Fold it all together and it's ready to eat!
You can eat it with tortilla chips, on salad, with a fork, pretty much anyway you please! Hope you enjoy it! Thanks again Cindy!

BBQ Chicken Salad
(Cindy Griffin)

3 cups cooked and cubed chicken
2 green onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup drained and rinsed black beans
3/4 cup drained mexicorn
1/2 cup bbq sauce
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine chicken, green onions, black beans, and mexicorn. In a separate bowl, combine bbq sauce, mayo, sour cream, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Add to the first mixture. Gently stir together and store in the fridge. Serve with tortilla chips!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Got the Blues? (Blueberry Cookies!)

I (Casey) found this recipe on Picky Palate blog and I've been wanting to make these cookies for a while, I've just been kinda iffy on them. Blueberry in cookies seemed odd to me, but I just went for it. I'm glad I did, I thought these were really good! They taste very similar to blueberry muffins and they have a bit of a cakey texture. If you like blueberries these are definitely for you! Here's what you need
Butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, baking soda, flour, salt, oats, white chocolate chips, & blueberries. Beat together butter and both sugars
Add vanilla and eggs
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, oats, white chocolate chips, & blueberries
 stir that together
 Add to the first mixture and fold in by hand
 Some of the blueberries will start to break. Scoop the dough into balls and put in the fridge about an hour, or until ready to bake.
Place the chilled dough balls onto parchment paper
 Bake and scoop off the pan right away to cool
 and the inside of the cookie

Blueberry Cookies
(adapted from picky palate)

1 Cup unsalted butter, soft
3/4 Cup brown sugar
3/4 Cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 Cup quick oats
1 1/2 Cups frozen blueberries
1 bag white chocolate chips (12oz)

In a large bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, quick oats, blueberries, and chocolate chips. Add to the first mixture. Gently fold in by hand. Scoop into balls and chill for a about an hour, or until firm. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place refrigerated dough balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet right away to cool completely. Eat up! :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's All Greek to Me

It was January 20, 2010 and I (Rachel) was about to embark on a life-changing adventure. The adventure=Athens, Greece for the whole semester!! It was one of the best semesters of my entire life. I made so many wonderful memories and friends while I was there. For many reasons Greece will always hold a very special place in my heart.

That being said, this one year anniversary of my send off was yet another excuse to celebrate with food. Greek food is amazing! I have been meaning to make an extravagant Greek meal for my friends all year, so what better time than this special day. I knew that I couldn't pull of this wonderful meal without some great helpers, thank goodness my dear friends Becca and Elizabeth love to cook and were so willing to help. I went to Greece with Becca and Elizabeth, I knew this would be important to them as well.

There are many tasty Greek dishes, however, I chose just a few of my favorites (I apologize in advance for the lack of step by step pictures for this post). Here is the menu:

Frozen Mint Lemonade
Chicken Gyros with homemade Pita Bread
Tzatziki Sauce
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Greek Salad

*All of these recipes came from Annie's Eats, except for the Frozen Mint Lemonade

We started with the pita bread since the preparation would take the most time. Here is what you need:
Flour, salt, package of yeast, honey or sugar, olive oil, and room temperature water. The original recipe makes about 8 pitas, but I was cooking for about 14. I knew pita bread would be pretty popular, so I tripled the recipe. First thing to do is mix the flour, yeast, salt, and honey or sugar together.
After the ingredients are nicely mixed, add the water and olive oil.
Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough beings to form a ball. Add more flour or water as needed.
 Once the dough has formed a ball, prepare a clean work surface with flour to knead the bread. While kneading, add flour as you go.
 Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until no longer sticky.
When you are finished kneading, lighly grease a clean bowl and form the dough into a ball. Roll the dough ball around the bowl to lightly coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with saran wrap or a damp towel for an hour and a half or until it doubles in size.
Apparently my bowl was not big enough! Now it is time to punch down the dough...I let Becca do the honors.
Nicely done Becca! That's the most exciting job. After you have released your anger on the dough, it is time to flip it onto a floured surface, form the dough into 8 balls (in my case 24) and then let rest for 20 minutes covered with a damp towel. After waiting 20 minutes, it is now time to shape the balls into round, flat pitas. Once again you are to let the pitas rest, but only for about 5 to 10 minutes. After all that waiting, bake the pitas for 3 minutes or until lightly browned.

So yum :)

While we let the pitas rise, we began making the chicken, hummus, and tzatziki sauce. I will start you off with the chicken, though. Here is what you need for the chicken.
Chicken breasts, dried oregano, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, cayene pepper, and plain yogurt. Mix all ingredients together except the chicken. Once all ingredients are mixed, add the chicken to the bowl and coat with the marinade. Chill in the fridge for one hour. After the hour has past, place the chicken on a cookie sheet covered in foil and broil for about 15 minutes. Slice the chicken and it is ready for the gyros. This is some of the best chicken I have ever tasted!

Ok, there are a lot of steps, but it is all worth it in the end. Now, it time to make the tzatziki. First start by letting the yogurt strain using cheesecloth (or in my case a coffee filter). You want to let the yogurt strain for several hours or overnight. You want as much moisture to to release as possible so the tzatziki is not watery.
While the yogurt is straining, begin peeling the cucumbers. Then, you can seed them, like you would a cantaloupe.
After doing this, shred the cucumbers. When the yogurt is fully strained, add the shredded cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Man, oh man, this tastes like Greece!

Now time for the hummus! You need LOTS and LOTS of garlic for this recipe, but that's what makes it so delicious. Take 2 heads of garlic and remove the papery outer skins. Then, wrap both of them in foil and place in the oven to bake for an hour or until tender. While the onions are roasting, heat olive oil in a skillet until warm. Add 2 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced. Cook until golden browned. Remove the garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with paper towels. Make sure to save the oil because you are going to need it! In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice and water together, set aside. In another separate bowl, whisk together the tahini and reserved oil. In a food processor, squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins, add the chickpeas, the remaining clove of garlic, salt and cayene pepper and blend until finely ground. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Steadily add the lemon-juice water while the food processor is running. Once again scrape down the sides of the bowl and process about a minute longer. Finally, add the tahini and oil mixture in a steady stream as well. Transfer the hummus to a serving dish and drizzle with oil and fresh chopped parsley. You can eat it now or refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
This was extremely delicious!

The only things left to prepare for the gyros are the french fries (we chose seasoned crinkle fries, but plain fries are great too) and cut up a couple tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions.

I did not take a picture of a gyro all put together...we all got a little anxious and scarfed them down before I remembered to take a picture :( However, I can tell you how to assemble a gyro: take the pita and slice it open, add a couple slices of chicken, some cucumber, tomato, onion, french fries and tzatziki sauce.

The final part of the meal was the Greek Salad. Cube up some tomatoes and cucumber. Slice half of a red onion, chop up about two handfuls Kalamata olives, and throw in about 2 packages of crumbled feta. I also like to add some oregano and olive oil. You can add salt, pepper, and vinegar as you prefer. Toss all ingredients together and voila! This was one LARGE Greek feast. I was definitely satisfied at the end of the meal, and I think I can speak for the rest of my friends as well.
Καλή σας όρεξη (good appetite)!

Chicken Gyros
For the tzatziki sauce:
16 oz. plain yogurt (not nonfat, if possible)
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
For the chicken:
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 1/4 lbs. chicken pieces (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
To assemble:
Pita bread
Fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
Red onion, sliced thin
To make the tzatziki sauce, strain the yogurt using cheesecloth over a bowl.  Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible.
Shred the cucumber.  Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible.  Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.  Whisk together until mixed well.  Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler.  (I butterflied the chicken breasts and then cooked them under the broiler.)  Once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.   Cut into strips.
Heat pitas (I sprayed with some spray oil and then popped them in the toaster oven for a few minutes).  Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes and cucumbers, french fries and sliced onions.  Serve immediately.

Roasted Garlic Hummus
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2 heads garlic, intact
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup water
6 tbsp. tahini
1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Remove the papery outer skins of the garlic heads, leaving them otherwise intact.  Chop off the top quarter of the head so that all of the cloves are exposed.  Wrap the garlic in foil and bake until very tender, about 1 hour.  Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the sliced garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the cooking oil.  Set aside.  Once the roasted garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves from their skins (you should have about ¼ cup).
In a small prep bowl, combine the lemon juice and water.  In another bowl, whisk together the reserved garlic cooking oil and the tahini.  In the bowl of a food processor, process the chickpeas, the roasted garlic puree, the remaining clove of garlic, salt and cayenne until the mixture is finely ground, about 20 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the machine running, add the lemon juice-water mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Scrape down the bowl and process for an additional minute.  With the machine running, add the oil-tahini mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream.  Scrape down the bowl and continue to process until the hummus is smooth and creamy.  Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, top with toasted garlic slices and minced fresh parsley, if desired.

Greek Salad
2 medium cucumbers, cubed and peeled
3 medium tomatoes, cubed
1 medium red onion, sliced
2-3 handfuls kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 small packages feta, crumbled
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. oregano
salt, pepper, and/or vinegar to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss and enjoy!