Tag Archives: Recipe Girl

Buffalo Tofu Tacos and a Bake-off

I really enjoy tofu. I know that many people are turned off by its texture and lack of flavor, but those are two qualities I appreciate. I’m not one of those people that is easily persuaded by texture, as I know a lot of people are (though I do have my limits with super-slimy). And as for flavor, that’s easily fixable – tofu is so incredibly versatile and it’s like a sponge; almost any flavor can seep into its pores.

That being said, when I had a craving for buffalo chicken, I figured I would give buffalo tofu a shot. I didn’t want to simply marinate some tofu in Frank’s Red Hot and call it a day – it needed some frying action first. That reminds me of the other reason I like tofu – it’s so easy to prepare. All you need is a deep skillet with canola oil, slices of extra firm tofu that’s been pressed to get rid of excess water, and buffalo sauce. Heat the oil, add the tofu (try not to touch it except to flip) and cook it on either side about 2-3 minutes. It’s that easy! I served my tacos with red onion, shredded lettuce, avocado, diced tomatoes, and some shredded cheese. YUM.

On Tuesday  night my kitchen was put to the test. Aside from making the above dinner, I also had to prepare my entry for our company bake-off. I decided to make How Sweet Eat’s Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles, and RecipeGirl’s Oreo Cheesecake Bars. I didn’t have time to snap a picture of the truffles, but look at these Oreo bars. I knew I had a pretty good chance at placing.

After all was said and done, I wound up taking first AND second place! I scored a gift card and a dessert cookbook – two things I can’t wait to put to good use.

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Filed under Baking, Vegetarian/Vegan, Wedding

Chocolate Espresso Hazelnut Cupcakes

I decided to get adventerous with the making of these cupcakes. I took a base recipe from Recipe Girl and kind of ran with it. I think the hardest part was coming up with a name for my creation that wasn’t miles long!

I’d been holding off making baked goods for a few reasons. One, being in super-saver mode I didn’t want to buy ingredients I didn’t have and all of the cupcakes on my to-do list had extra ingedients. I also hate baking when I don’t have somewhere to bring the goodies because some always go to waste.

So, since we saved a ton of money in groceries last week and were heading to a BBQ on Monday, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to make some cupcakes! While I made the cupcakes, my fiancé got started on his second batch of beer from the kit I had gotten him for Christmas. We had quite a nice little domestic Sunday afternoon.

The chocolate cupcake recipe I found actually mixed all of the ingredients together in a blender. As someone that still doesn’t have a stand mixer (hello wedding registry!), the idea of not having to do it by hand was amazing. I literally poured all of the ingredients into the mixer, turned it on, and waited. I did assist with the mixing a bit, but that’s really just because I’m impatient.

I decided to snazz up the regular chocolate recipe by adding espresso and hazelnuts. I was a little unsure at first if I should have just used hazelnut coffee, but I’m glad I went with the espresso and mashed hazelnuts. I didn’t brew the espresso, I just threw it in as a dry ingredient.

For the frosting, I decided to tackle a buttercream again. This time the hand mixer was a little nicer, and only spewed a bit of butter. All was well until I got to the actual icing of the cupcakes. I must have misplaced a piece of the pastry bag I just bought, so it’s basically unusable. We picked a tip and used a rubberband to hold it in place, but the tip was definitely too small to ice the whole cake. So I wound up just using a spoon and doing my ugly version. I really need to take a class or some lessons to get better at that!

I found the frosting recipe from a blog called Ming Makes Cupcakes, that has a ton of numbered cupcake recipes, and I seriously want to make them all. But I figured I’d do just one at a time.

They are definitely decadent cupcakes. I made them normal size and the batter only produced 10 cupcakes, so I made two batches and the icing was able to cover all 20 cupcakes. I definitely think they’re a one and done type cake, which I’m more than okay with!

Everyone at the BBQ that tried them was really impressed. It’s always nice to hear “oh man, these are awesome! Who made them?!?” when you’re at a gathering. My fiancé made a point to say he really enjoys when I deviate from the recipes and make them my own. I’m definitely becoming more comfortable with the idea of my own(ish) recipes, and I love it!

The base cupcake recipe is great if you’re pressed for time. You can pretty much add anything to snazz them up from regular chocolate. As for the icing, we all know buttercream can be made into pretty much any flavor, so get creative!

Go-To Chocolate Cupcakes
– makes 10 cupcakes –

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup hot water
½ cup canola oil
1 large egg
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup of espresso*
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts*

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 12 regular-sized muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
2. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a blender. Cover with the lid and blend on medium-speed until blended. Pour in the water, oil, egg and vanilla. Cover with the lid and blend on medium-high speed until smooth and well-blended, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice.
3. Pour into prepared pan/cups, dividing evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of one cupcake comes out clean, 15-17 minutes.
4. Transfer to rack to cool for about 10 minutes, and then carefully remove cupcakes from the pan and set them on the rack to cool completely before frosting

* are my additions to the base recipe!

Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:
1 stick butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp coffee (I used espresso)

Directions:
Blend all ingredients together
Frost cupcakes!

So happy nomzing!!

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Filed under Baking, Cupcakes, Recipe

Baking Away!

This past week was pretty serious when it came to my cooking. Not only did I make Eggplant Enchiladas and Southwest Soup & Tortas, but I also did some pretty serious baking. Well, for me at least. Of course it was nothing like Serial Baker, but that’s besides the point.

On Wednesday after getting in an argument with our upstairs neighbor about “stinking” because we cook, I decided to finally start my cupcake experiment. Don’t worry; there will be a post about that in the near future. Then on Saturday, I had two occasions to bake for – first, I was going to meet more of my fiancé’s family at Passover dinner, and it was also one of our friend’s birthdays.

For whatever reason when I was little, I wished I was Jewish. It probably came down to the simple fact that I wanted to be something I wasn’t. Just like I always wanted glasses, and secretly hoped I’d break a lower-extremity bone so I could use crutches. At any rate, my fiancé is half Jewish, and though his family isn’t really practicing, they do have Passover dinner just as a way to all get together. They don’t do any thing really traditional (such as the Seder, etc.), but there was some typical fare. That’s where my first baking attempt came in to play.

Early last week I was trying to figure out what I could bring with us. I wanted to make something, but wasn’t sure what. I had remembered my mom’s principle (she’s a school nurse) making “matzo bark” and I had asked for the recipe. She never got it, but conveniently later in the week I was reading YumSugar and stumbled upon a “Toffee-Chocolate Matzah” recipe! We’ve had a box of matzo for awhile, so I knew I was at least half way there with the ingredients. After reading over the recipe, I realized it was completely doable in terms of ingredients, skill level, and time.

Once I had made that recipe, I moved onto my next task – Kahlua Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies. Say that 10 times fast! I found the recipe from Recipe Girl, who also provided me with the delicious Pumpkin French Toast I had made this past fall. Again, I had to cream the butter by hand with the back of a spoon, which I complained about continuously. But other than that, the recipe was pretty straight forward. I did have to go out and get more chocolate chips and powdered Espresso, but that was it!

I did make a few alterations to the Kahlua Espresso cookies… I didn’t have any Kahlua, but I did have Bailey’s (from my Guinness & Bailey’s cupcakes). So instead of going out and buying more alcohol that would just sit around, I figured I’d use what I have. Also, between the two recipes, I ran out of brown sugar. But I did have a brown sugar and Splenda mix, so I was able to use that for the rest of the cookies. While I haven’t had the original recipe, I can’t imagine mine tasted much different from them.

When we arrived at my fiancé’s Aunt’s house, I was thrilled to hear that everyone was a huge fan of chocolate covered matzo. They were definitely enjoyed by everyone, and since there was so much food we got to take home the leftovers! Say hello to a delicious little snack during the week! The cookies were also a hit at our friend’s party. By the time we got there, they had an ice luge out and in full force, so some sustenance was in order. I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed those as well.

So, if you ever find yourself with some extra Matzo hanging around, or the inability to eat leaven bread, I suggest giving the Toffee-Chocolate Matzah a try. Here’s the recipe from YumSugar, who got it from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients:
4 sheets unsalted non-egg matzah
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
Coarse sea salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper Place matzah in an even layer on baking sheet and set aside.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and immediately reduce temperature to low. Cook, stirring, adjusting heat as necessary, until sugar has completely dissolved and begins to bubble. Drizzle toffee over matzah and spread to cover using a spatula.
4. Transfer toffee-covered matzah to oven and bake until toffee has a rich, shiny sheen, 10 to 20 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Tent matzah with aluminum foil and let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
6. Remove foil tent and spread melted chocolate over matzah to cover; sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer matzah to refrigerator and let chill at least 2 hours.
7. Break chilled matzah into pieces. Matzah will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature.

And, if you’re ever looking for some chocolate, coffee, liquor and cinnamon, give these Kahlua Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies a whirl!

Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ Tbsp. espresso powder
1 Tbsp. Kahlua
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed firmly
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted & cooled a little bit
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
3. In a small dish, dissolve espresso powder in Kahlua; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, use electric mixer to cream butter and sugars together. Add Kahlua mixture, eggs and vanilla; beat until thoroughly combined. Add cooled, melted chocolate and continue to beat until it’s mixed in. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until all flour is incorporated into the dough, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) 2-inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown and no longer look gooey in the middles. Cool completely on wire rack.
Yield: About 5 dozen

Being in a rush after all the baking, I didn’t take a picture of them after they were done. Then, I wound up eating all of the cookies and matzo before I realized I still needed a picture! So my sincerest appologies for not having pictures of the deliciousness. But I promise they were yummy!!

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Filed under Baking