June 23, 2011

coconut lime cupcakes with basil lime cream cheese frosting

The other day I had a life-altering experience when I randomly decided to stop for a cup of gelato on my way home. I saw this flavor called coconut basil. I tasted it. I got a whole cupful of it.

Those spoonfuls of creamy coconut basil heaven may have been the best ten minutes of my day, but I would never admit that.

For the rest of the afternoon I obsessed over how else I could combine those two flavors. Soup? Rice? Fish? Cupcakes? Cupcakes.

These are the things I think about.

 These are fantastically sweet and coconut-y with a hint of lime zing to them. I do wish the flavor of the basil would have come through more in the frosting though. Next time I make these I will be trying other basil-adding methods. But I have to finish these up first.

So now I am single-handedly ridding the world of coconut lime cupcakes with basil lime cream cheese frosting. It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it. And I am winning the battle...these cupcakes don't know what hit them.

Coconut Lime Cupcakes with Basil Lime Cream Cheese Frosting 
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
2 T. fresh lime juice   
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 T. lime zest
3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes, ground up in food processor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
Into a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Using a hand held mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time until just combined. Add vanilla, coconut extract, and lime juice. Add buttermilk and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Mix in the lime zest and shredded coconut.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks before frosting.


1 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (4 T.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. lime zest
1/4 cup finely chopped basil (I put mine in the food processor)
approx. 4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup toasted sweetened coconut flakes, for garnish

Using a hand-held mixer beat cream cheese and butter together until light and smooth. Add vanilla extract, lime juice and zest, and basil and combine. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated and at desired consistency. Add more sugar if desired texture is not reached. Adjust flavors as desired.

Pour coconut flakes evenly onto a baking sheet. Place in 350-degree oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring often and keeping an eye on them so they do not burn. Remove when golden-brown.

Frost cupcakes and garnish with toasted coconut flakes.

June 20, 2011

roasted brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are like that guy who was the big nerd in school, the one that nobody really liked and usually stayed away from because he kind of smelled bad, but then he shows up to the 10-year reunion and has become an enormously successful inventor or business owner and his looks have finally settled into place and he's super attractive and doesn't even know it, which makes him even cuter.

You know that guy?

Brussels sprouts (by the way I just found out it's brussels with an "s", which I think is kind of annoying because the "s's" blend together so you might as well just call it brussel sprouts like I always have and think is better anyway) were always a hated menu item in our home. They were mushy and stinky and just the worst kind of green vegetable, besides lima beans obviously. 

Then I picked some up recently, thinking that I should give them another shot since it's been so long and maybe they've changed and become successful business owners or something. Because they definitely still looked the same.

And what do you know, they were delicious! 
They must've just needed that 10 years to mature. Just like that nerdy guy.

Okay but actually it's all in the preparation. 

My mom is a good cook, but sometimes maybe we had brussels sprouts that had been beaten into submissive little squishies, and I don't know how it happened.

These kind are easy and beautiful and crunchy and hubby and I both fell in love with them. 

Roasted Brussel(s) Sprouts

Brussels sprouts 
Olive Oil (I used lemon infused, delish)
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground pepper or Lemon pepper (I like it with lemon pepper)

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Heat a pot of water to boiling. While it is heating, remove any bad leaves from the sprouts and trim any stems that are too big. Don't cut the stem too much though or the sprout will fall apart. Then slice each sprout in half lengthwise.

Place sprouts into boiling water for 1-2 minutes, until they are nice and beautifully bright green. While they are boiling, fill a large bowl with cold water and some ice. 

Remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon or just dump them into a strainer, then put them immediately into the ice bath to stop them from cooking.

Place sprouts, cut side up, onto foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss them around a bit to coat them and add more seasonings if you need to.

Place them into the preheated oven and roast for 10-15 minutes.

I served them with these chipotle sliders, which I wrote about on In Good Taste. Check it out here if you want!

June 9, 2011

mixed berry baked french toast

Jetlag is good for some things.

It's good for inappropriately long naps at weird times.
It's a good excuse for being useless at work.
It's good for eating 6 meals in a day because your flight started at 11am in Paris and you got fed meals on the flight but then you arrived in Chicago at 1pm and you still had to eat lunch again and dinner too.

It's good for making someone who normally cringes at the thought of any hour before 9am into a perky morning person who gets up and takes long walks and plants flowers and makes beautiful breakfasts...all before 9am.

I don't really ever make breakfast except for on weekends and holidays. I always vow to be cute and wifely and get up early enough to prepare an enticing breakfast for my husband before he goes to work. Then I sleep instead.

But this is the second weekday in a row of inspired early morning breakfast-making. And this particular one turned out decadently delicious.

So in other words, jetlag is good for my husband.

We'll see how long this lasts.

Baked Berry French Toast
Serves 3-4

1/2 loaf of day-old french bread/baguette, sliced into 1-inch slices (I used 8 slices)

Berry mixture
1 cup mixed berries (I used fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
zest from one lemon
1/2 T. sugar
1 T. A/P flour

Egg mixture
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Streusel mixture
4 T. butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Additional fresh berries
Homemade whipping cream, if desired (I whipped about 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream with about a tablespoon of confectioner's sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Delish.)
Maple syrup

Butter an 8x8-inch glass pan. Place bread slices in two rows in the pan, slightly overlapping each slice. (This makes the part of the bread that is sticking up get caramel-y and crusty so all your bread isn't soggy.)

Combine the ingredients for the berry mixture in a bowl. Spoon this over the bread in the pan.

Combine the egg mixture ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour this evenly over the bread and berries, covering all the bread as much as possible.

Cover with foil and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how much time you have/your hunger level).

Preheat oven to 350. Combine streusel ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the bread from the fridge and spoon the streusel over the bread/berries, making it as evenly distributed as possible. You may try to spread it a bit if you like.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until the mixture on the bottom is good and bubbly. I removed the foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking to try to get a nice crustiness on top.

Top with desired toppings.
Die and go to heaven.

June 7, 2011

last night a tj saved my life

Please forgive the lame title, it seemed like a good idea in my head.

But for real. How many times has Trader Joes come through in the clutch? Just walking in there sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the low-effort-but-still-incredibly-delicious options. 
Low-effort is totally my style. 

Just ask my makeup bag. Or my comb. Or my shower.

The other night I whipped up some delicious TJ's frozen orange chicken. I know, I'm a goddess in the kitchen. I served it with jasmine rice (bombdotcom) and this salad. It is really a fantastic little meal. Not gourmet, but fantastic. 

One of my other Trader Joes favorites? This pulled pork.  

Here's another favorite.

These croissants are so surprisingly buttery and flaky and chewy that you would hardly know they are from the freezer section.

What are your Trader Joes life-savers? I know I am qualifying chocolate croissants as life-savers, but I really think that's not too far from the truth. Pastries are my weakness. And cookies. Unless those count as the same thing.

June 1, 2011

Lemon "cupcakes"

 I use quotation marks because I almost want to call these muffins. 
Muffins with cream cheese frosting. 
Could there be a better muffin?

 They are sweet, but not overly sweet. And the texture is more dense, similar to that of a muffin or maybe even a pound cake. Either way, they taste quite good. I felt bad because I was asked to make cupcakes for an event, and well, I had 24 of whatever-you-want-to-call-these, and no time to throw together anything else, so I brought these muff-cakes. 

Anyway, people seemed to like them. And I ate like 3 of them beforehand, because for some reason I thought that if I kept tasting them, I could be convinced that they were in fact cupcakes. It didn't work, and I just ended up 3 cupcakes fatter.

Ah well.

A veritable cupcake army!

Lemon Cream Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe adapted from here and here
Makes 24-30 cupcakes

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 T. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream

1/2 cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 T. Lemon Juice
1 tsp almond extract
approx. 6-7 cups of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with paper cups (or grease it).
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lemon zest and extracts; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick). Fill muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 

For frosting, cream butter in a small mixing bowl. Add softened cream cheese, and beat until smooth. Add lemon juice and almond extract. Beat on high until smooth. Add powdered sugar, adding more until desired consistency. You may also play with the lemon juice measurements if it is not lemon-y enough for you. Frost cooled cupcakes.