Monday, February 21, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with CreamCheese Buttercream Frosting



2 Cups Sugar
1/2 pound 2 Sticks butter at room temp
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
2 ounces Red Food Coloring
2 1/2 Cups Cake Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1Cup Buttermilk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar

Although the cake recipe comes from Paula Deen...I needed to try a new frosting. I found the balance of the following combination works best for me...and these cupcakes.

1 Stick Butter
1 8 oz. block cream cheese- softened
1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 Tablespoon Heavy Whipping Cream
1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

You can adjust these amounts depending on the flavor and consistency you prefer. The amount shown above should liberally frost 12 cupcakes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Homemade Pizza with Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Arugula, Shaved Parmesan & Truffle Oil -to go with -Garlic Butter Clams

I made this meal for my husband on Valentine's day. We aren't big on the holiday. However, I wanted to make him something he would love. If he could- he would eat hamburgers and pizza everyday. So I thought why not make him a pizza- one that we would both enjoy. Its healthier than ordering from a restaurant and is really reasonable when it comes to cost and preparation.

Truffle Oil
Prosciutto & Mozzarella
Shaved Parmesan (I prefer freshly shaved-from a nice block I keep in the fridge)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (LA Organic from IHeartOliveOil)
Pizza Dough (Mine was fresh from the bakery)

(**I did not include amounts here because it all depends on taste.**  )

I did not have the time to venture into making homemade pizza dough for this recipe- so I used Publix fresh and ready pizza dough. It is reasonable, costs less than $2.00 and can be refrigerated for a couple of days. When you are ready to use it- make sure you leave it at room temperature for an hour or so.

For the prosciutto and mozzarella- I used the type from the deli section of the grocery store- that has them rolled into a pinwheel. It makes it easier to slice even portions for the pizza.

Preheat your oven to 350.
Rolling out your pizza dough may take some patience. It is at times hard to stretch and form as you'd like. You can start with twisting it and pulling by hand. But what I found works best is a combination with a rolling pin.
Dust a large cutting board with flour - place your dough in the center and work out to the edges. It may take a little while, but keep with it. You can use your hands in between to pull and shape as you want.

I use a pizza pan that you can find almost anywhere. It has perforations on the bottom of the pan- makes for an extra crispy and delicious crust.

After you have formed your dough to the desired thickness-
Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Make sure you have a nice thin layer- but not too much. You don't want an oily pizza.

Next take the slices of Mozzarella and prosciutto and place evenly spaced on the pizza.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye as all ovens are different and you don't want it to get too dark.

We like our pizza pretty crispy so I like to leave it in until it is a nice rich, golden color.

After your cheese has melted and the crust has cooked- remove the pizza from the oven and drizzle an even, liberal dose of the truffle oil -in a spiral motion- on the pizza.

Then cover with Arugula- as much or as little as you like. (Remember it is like spinach in that it shrinks when it cooks.)

Then top with shaved Parmesan and put back in oven for another 5-7 minutes. You want everything to come together but not cook so much that the arugula is mushy.


We used the crust from our pizza as a "dipping bread" for the yummy garlic-butter from the Little Neck Clams.

This is a super easy side--

Select as many clams as you would like to serve. Rinse them out when you get home and set aside.

Finely mince 2-3 cloves of garlic- put in saute pan with 3 Tablespoons butter.
Melt the butter and saute the garlic, being careful not to burn either. Add the clams and a about 1/4 cup dry white wine. (Sadly, I was out of white wine when I made these and substituted chicken broth and it was fantastic. Gave it a ton of flavor and you didn't taste the "chicken" at all.)

Let cook until the clams pop open and the sauce reduces.
Serve and enjoy hot!

**Remember: Don't eat or try to eat any clams that didn't open while cooking!**

And to go with everything I made a simple salad of Arugula, thinly sliced, crisp cucumbers and shaved Parmesan. Lightly dressed with Oil and Vinegar.
(See below)

My big score from the Del Ray Beach Garlic Festival :

And many thanks to for showing me some amazing products and teaching me about all the fantastic oils and vinegars they carry from around the world!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nutella Brownies

I sometimes have to bribe my husband to do "handy" things around the house. Last night I needed some book cases put together. If all he needs is a little something sweet  to get things done- I am happy to oblige. This recipe came from my love of chocolate, abundant supply of Nutella and the need for a little something different in a brownie. Brownies are easy to make and require little time- (they are perfect for a treat when you are pressed for time.)

This recipe is for a double batch- as there are never enough decadent, gooey brownies to go around--it's rude not to share.

2 Cups Butter at room temperature (should be soft to the touch)
4 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Nutella
9 Ounces  Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (melted and cooled)
6 Large Eggs
2 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Nestle Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
1/2 Teaspoon Fine Salt

Preheat the oven to 350.
Butter and flour (2) 9 x 13 pans.

I melt the chocolate chips in a double-boiler type set up. I use a metal bowl which transfers well for cooling. Make sure to turn the water to simmer- needs to be hot enough to heat the bowl containing the chocolate chips. Stir frequently while melting.
After thoroughly melted and smooth- remove chocolate from stove and set aside. Make sure it is cool before adding to butter mixture-as if it is too warm it will melt the butter and sugar.

While cooling the chocolate- Put the butter in a mixer or large bowl and whip until pale and light in texture. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy.

Add 3/4 cup of the Nutella (set the rest aside to drizzle on top) and blend well. Be sure to scrape the sides down so all ingredients are combined.

Add in the cooled chocolate- mixing slowly so texture stays light.
Then add the eggs one at a time. Mixing after each one. Add the vanilla.

Sift the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
Add slowly- folding them into the mixture.
Take the bowl of the mixer stand and run a rubber spatula through to fold in any lumps of the sugar and butter that the mixer couldn't reach.

Pour the batter into the greased and floured pans. Smooth out and make sure there are even levels throughout the pan.

This will yield a pretty thin brownie. But, don't worry you will have plenty of flavor!

Bake for about 30 min- until the brownies have puffed at the edges and the top is shiny. It will still seem uncooked or gooey in the center. That's how it should be...if you leave it in too long it will overcook and turn into a hockey puck.

After a few minutes of cooling

In a coffee mug (or something convenient and microwavable) soften the rest of the Nutella for 15 sec.
Using a spoon -drizzle over the top of the brownies. You can do more/less depending on your love of Nutella.

Continue to cool brownies before cutting.


The original recipe for Brownies with Walnuts was on - it has been altered to my specifications.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chili Cheese Bean Dip

This is one of the easiest and quickest crowd-pleaser, party apps-- ever. You can easily tailor it for vegetarians.

It can be made ahead and heated when ready to eat.

9x13 Baking Dish

Tostitos Scoops (or similar)

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I use a bit more)
2 Blocks Cream Cheese
2 Cans Refried Beans
2 Cans Hormel Chili

Open refried beans and spread evenly on bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle light layer (to taste) of shredded cheese.
On stove top, combine cream cheese and chili. Melt cheese and combine well. Stir frequently- don't let it boil.
When well mixed- pour evenly over refried beans.
Cover with remaining shredded cheese. (Should be a even, full layer.)

When ready to eat-- preheat oven to 350 and bake for 10-15 min. When heated throughout- turn broiler to low and lightly brown the top.

Serve hot with scoopable tortilla chips.

Sorry, there is no picture for this one...but, I'm sure you can imagine all of the oooey gooey cheesy goodness!