Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coconut Cupcakes

I love me some coconut. Many people are not of the same opinion. Especially younger people (someone explain to me why the incredibly delicious almond joy candy bar is considered "old people candy"?) I think it's the texture that throws them off. Shredded coconut just sort of...feels like something that isn't exactly food. But I enjoy that sort of thing. Food that seems more like a non food. Like these things.

I've been wanting to bake with coconut oil for a while now. It's quite versatile, and can also be used to pop popcorn, saute things, and it's good for your skin and hair ^_^. But it's so darn expensive. I finally splurged, so I knew I had to make something super good with it. I think I succeeded. These cupcakes have an awesome, delicate crumb and a very subtle coconut flavor. Even my coconut hating siblings liked them! It's the frosting that packs more of the coconut flavor punch. The recipe can easily be adapted for a killer yellow cupcake with vanilla frosting.

Coconut Cupcakes
(makes 17-20)
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut oil (I imagine butter would be fine as well)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream oil and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add extracts and eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and ending with flour mixture. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 1/2 full.
Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. 

Coconut Frosting 
6 Tbsp butter
2 tablespoon coconut milk 
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp coconut extract 
shredded coconut for garnish
Cream butter and powdered sugar, and salt. Add milk and extract and beat until desired consistency is reached. Top with shredded coconut.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spaghetti + Clams

I went on another visit this past week. It tasted like burritos the size of your face, bread in a can, and sweat. Man it's hot out. Probably not the best weather for my first ever camping experience. 
Bread in a can tastes good with cream cheese.
I don't think I've fully understood true heat until now. I'm not very tolerant of it. My house stays at a balmy 66 degrees all year round. Sleeping in a tent in 100 degree weather makes me appreciate a cool lake, a ceiling fan, A/C set at 78 degrees. 

So, naturally, I also didn't understand people complaining that it was too hot to cook dinner in the summer. I get it now. Boy do I ever. The goal is to make something fast, so you can get out of the sweltering kitchen as quickly as possible. Spaghetti and clams is a natural choice for me. The sauce just needs to cook for a few minutes so the flavors can meld together, and if you use angel hair pasta (yay, cooks for 3 minutes!) then you can theoretically have dinner on the table in like, 15-20 minutes. Stay cool everyone!

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce
(I don't really measure when I make this, so bear with me)


Angel hair, spaghetti, linguine, some sort of long noodly pasta (probably about half a box)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 6.5 oz cans of minced clams with juice
1/3 - 1/2 cup white wine
fresh parsley

Prepare boiling water for pasta while you make the sauce. Add olive oil to a medium skillet, when hot, add garlic and saute for a minute. Add clams and juice, and let it simmer for a few minutes, then add wine, and let it cook down a bit. When you're ready to eat, add parsley, and toss the drained pasta and sauce together in the pot you made the pasta in. Serve immediately, with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blueberry Almond Cake

We're all friends here, right? Since we've all gotten to know each other so well, I'm going to tell you about one of my stranger idiosyncrasies: my disgust with most small, round produce. 

I cannot explain how this started, but I know it goes back quite far. I have a vivid memory of my kindergarten class sitting in a circle on the floor, each person making a wish and then eating a grape (What the heck? I don't understand this ritual at all). I refused to eat that grape. Even if it meant causing a scene, even if it meant not getting a wish. To this day, I am repulsed by grapes, raisins, olives, capers, cherries, cherry tomatoes, get the idea. 

For some reason, I can handle blueberries baked into things, though they still aren't my favorite. Now, you may be wondering what's up with the weird looking pan above. It's called a Rehrucken pan, which means ribs of a deer. Apparently you're supposed to use it to make this sweet looking cake (which is supposed to look like a big hunk o' venison with garlic stuffed between the ribs. I think it looks a hedgehog). But our pan came with a recipe for an awesome and totally adaptable Scandinavian Almond Cake. 

Though I would have preferred mine without, we had blueberries in the house that needed to be used. Wanna make a lemon flavored one? Cut it in half and spread lemon curd inside. Coconut? Please do. 

Also....if anyone has a similar produce phobia, I'd love to hear about it so I don't feel like so much of a freak, haha. 

I didn't like touching those.

Blueberry Almond Cake 


1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 and grease your pan (if you don't have a Rehrucken pan, I think a loaf pan would be okay)

Beat together sugar, egg, milk and almond until smooth. Mix in flour and baking soda. Slowly add melted butter. Gently fold in blueberries (you can dust them with flour to keep the batter from getting blue) Pour batter into pan, and bake for 38-42 minutes until top is golden brown. Cool in the pan for 6-8 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Hello! I'm on vacation. Wanna see? Of course you do. 

Vacation tastes like melt in your mouth strawberries the size of your thumbnail. Of tart cherries and flaky whitefish. Of...Uncle Ben's rice pilaf? 

With a name like cupcake, you have to bake with it.

My family went to a fairly nice restaurant the other day. My dad, trying to watch his salt, inquired as to how salty the rice pilaf would be. 
"Well, it's Uncle Ben's," the waitress offered candidly. She also revealed the au gratin potatoes contained powdered cheese. My eyes widened, and as she left the table, we burst into a fit of giggles. The rest of the night was spent guessing where our various entrees had come from. Mashed potatoes? Definitely from a bag. A bacon topping was definitely of the precooked, microwave for 15 seconds a slice variety. Though the food definitely could have been better, we had a great time, and by the end of the night, were erupting in fits of laughter. And sometimes those are the best meals. 

I had a peanut butter pie for dessert that night, which was most definitely Sysco, or something of that sort. These cupcakes are totally homemade, as usual, and fancy to boot. I even used one of my precious peaches!

Peach Prosecco Cupcakes
adapted from Sing for Your Supper

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 egg whites
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup prosecco (or any other sparkling wine, or even sparkling juice would be fine)
1 small peach, peeled and diced

(Mkay, here's a note. To peel a peach, make an X in the bottom of it, like this:
Then, place the peach in boiling water for around 40 seconds. Immediately plunge it into ice cold water. The skin should peel right off).

Prosecco Frosting

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup prosecco
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 drops red and yellow coloring, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then beat in egg whites one at a time.
Add in flour mixture and prosecco in three alternating additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Gently stir in the diced peaches. Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

To make the frosting beat together the butter and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in one cup increments, then add prosecco, milk and food coloring. Frost cupcakes once they have completely cooled. Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My love for peaches is like a bad simile...

Good Lord I love peaches. Almost no food makes me happier than a fresh peach. It's just so rare that you come across something so vibrant and delicious in its pure and natural form. 

For the past couple summers, we've been getting these 25 pound boxes of amazing, tree ripened peaches. They are never fail fantastic, and I can't really eat other peaches anymore. You see, if peaches are not ripened on a tree, they will likely become mealy, and mealy peaches are just terrible. So...I look forward to these all year.
That is my hand. Some people say I have man hands. Nicer people say I have piano fingers. 

Of course I don't want to waste the precious fruit. But sometimes you just have more than you can eat before they are in tip top shape anymore. That's the time to make peach crisp. There's really no need to do anything fancy. The best desserts let simple ingredients speak for themselves.

Yeah, that is whipped cream from a can. It's hard to be as classy as I am all the time. 

Peach Crisp
adapted from All Recipes


  • 12 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced (You can use less. It'll be smaller.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla. Or nothing. Like I said, let the fruit speak for itself)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter 
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and grease a 8x11ish inch (Or an 8x8 if you're using fewer peaches) square baking dish.
  1. Place the peaches in the bottom of the baking dish, and sprinkle them with almond extract.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle the flour mixture in an even layer over the top of the peaches, and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until the peaches are bubbling and the topping is browned.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

First Date Focaccia

People are always talking about things you shouldn't eat on a first date. Corn on the cob, ribs, garlicky things. I dunno, I've never been on a first dinner date (my relationships have been a bit more offbeat, haha) but it seems like avoiding problem foods would be a lot of work. 

Wouldn't it show you're comfortable with that person? Mmm, maybe it's better to make a good first impression (I feel like that's a skill I lack...). Is it okay if you both eat the food in question?  Gah. I propose you cook at home, make some garlicky focaccia and messy spaghetti. That would impress me. And hey, if you get a good night kiss, neither of you will notice the other's breath, right?

Poke poke poke...
This bread and easy and rustic and you can do whatever you want to it. Olives, rosemary, sun dried tomatoes, anything would work. I went with sage and garlic. It tasted great to me, though I'm in this horrible allergy haze right now and my senses are greatly diminished. Hopefully I'll be able to taste it in its full glory tomorrow. 

Sage and Garlic Focaccia

  • 1 1/4  cups  boiling water
  • 4  tablespoons  chopped sage, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/4  cups semolina flour ( you can use all normal flour if you don't have this)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4  cup  olive oil, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  teaspoon  water
  • 1  large egg yolk
  • 1  teaspoon  sea salt or kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  1. In a two glass measuring cup, combine boiling water, 2 teaspoons sage, honey, and minced garlic; cool to 100° to 110°. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast over the mixture; let stand 5 minutes. Add flour, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon salt to the mixture. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until smooth.
  2. Transfer dough to a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and pat dough into a 14 x 12-inch rectangle on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
  3. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
  4. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, water, and egg yolk; set aside. Uncover dough. Make indentations in top of dough using handle of a wooden spoon or your fingertips. Brush egg mixture over dough. You don’t need to use all of the egg and oil mixture on top of the dough; spread enough to coat the top, and discard any extra. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with remaining sage, sea salt, and chopped garlic.
  5. Bake at 350° for 22-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Aw fudge...

Sometimes I feel like it's difficult to write a blog post because my life is kind of boring. I mean, I left the house once today. To get chocolate. The rest of my day consisted of baking in a frilly apron intermingled with mindlessly consuming a giant bowl of guacamole while reading I briefly donned some legwarmers and a hobo sweater to venture into the frigid (and creepy) basement. Thrilling, right? 

You have to find adventure in small things I suppose. A compatriot and I (words are fun ^_^) made fudge a few days ago. His overwhelming enthusiasm to do so was too amusing to resist, even though it was 9 p.m. And it was fun, running around weighing, mixing, thermometering...and it was definitely much easier with two people. But be prepared to soak some super sticky pans!

On a side note, does fudge remind anyone else of Arthur? Y'know, the episode when the librarian is trying to get Mr. Ratburn to sing about what he likes? Anyone? ...never mind, haha.

Easy Fudge
from Sugar Baby


2 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. butter
5 oz evaporated milk
2 c. Seven Minute Frosting (recipe follows)
1 tsp vanilla (or half a bean)
2 c chopped bittersweet chocolate

In a large saucepan over medium low heat, combine the sugar, milk, salt and butter and simmer until the sugar has melted. With a damp pastry brush, wipe down the sides of the pan to prevent crystals from forming. Attach a candy thermometer and allow the mixture to reach 235 F.

Remove from heat and immediately stir in frosting, vanilla and chocolate. Keep stirring until chocolate is completely incorporated.

Pour the fudge into a greased 9 inch square pan, and allow it to set overnight. Can be stored for up to a week!

Seven Minute Frosting (This makes a lot, so I'd half it)


1 1/2 c. sugar, divided
1/4 c. corn syrup
1/3 cup water
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt

In a heavy saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups of sugar, the corn syrup and water. Heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar has completely melted. Stop stirring, and heat the mixture to 235 F.

In the meantime, in a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt. Gradually pour in the remaining sugar until you get soft peaks.

Add the hot sugar in a steady stream down into the egg whites and beat until the mixture is thick and shiny, about 10 minutes. Use immediately.