Microwave Cake: Secret Recipe Club

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Sorry I have been a little MIA recently: real life stuff, go figure.  But I am back, and I am back to meet a need we all have: need for a quick cake fix.

Specifically, a quick cake fix with lots of frosting on top.

I often find myself with an intense yearning for something sweet and we need it in and around our mouths ASAP.  As I was browsing around Melissa’s food blog Melissa’s Cuisine for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I found my solution to this eternal conundrum: a cake you can make in the microwave in less than 5 minutes.

So I ran out to the store, bought cake mix (yum), and made myself a microwave cake.  Now sure, it’s not the same as a cake made from scratch and baked in the oven, but I tell you, my sweet tooth was quite satisfied.

MICROWAVE CAKE
Barely adapted from Melissa’s Cuisine

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons angel food cake mix
6 tablespoons yellow cake mix
4 tablespoons water
Dash of vanilla extract
Sprinkles and frosting, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Mix together both cake mixes, water, and vanilla extra. Pour into two mugs. Microwave for 1 minute to 1 minute and 20 seconds (depends on the strength of your microwave). Garnish with sprinkles and frosting.

Makes 2 servings.
Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

How to Deep Fry Candy: Cadbury Crème Scotch Egg

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Easter is a very important time of the year for me for one main reason: lots and lots of candy.

So I think that it’s time to learn how to deep fry candy.  Are you ready?

Now I normally eat healthy, mostly vegetarian even, with lots of fruits and vegetables.  But some days I just need sugar- and not just sugar but deep fried sugar.  And then there are days when I just want to eat frosting with a spoon.  But today is a day for deep fried dessert- let’s save the frosting for tomorrow.

Let me walk you through the steps to get some warm, sweet, fried treats.  It’ll be like a state fair in your own home.  No need to weave through endless crowds and screaming children- we can enjoy our deep friend treats in silence at home (or while watching

This time I decided to go all out. Four words: Deep. Fried. Cadbury. Egg.

Cadbury eggs just may be one of my most favorite types of candy out there, and I still have a few leftover from Easter.  I was inspired by Cakespy’s dessert version of the English bar food Scotch Egg.  I love a good pun on a plate.

If you don’t like Cadbury eggs (I feel sad for you), you can do this with any candy bar or cookie.  Follow the same basic techniques here.  The recipe below is a more complicated and fancy batter (if you can call deep friend chocolate fancy).  First, you coat the candy in a gooey chocolate batter, and then you roll it in a salty crunchy Ritz cracker topping for that ultimate sweet and salt combo. Deep fry it, and boom: instant gratification.

The best tip for deep frying  is to have everything ready when you start dipping and frying.  Work slowly and carefully and follow directions.  Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of your oil: nothing is worse than a stomach-ache 30 minutes after enjoying a deep-fried treat because your oil was not hot enough.

If you want a simpler, more classic version of deep fried food, you can also just use any pancake batter (even the batter from a box) in place of a homemade batter.   Just follow the same general steps in this recipe: heat oil, dip in batter, deep fry, drain, devour.

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CADBURY CREME SCOTCH EGG
Barely Adapted from Cakespy

INGREDIENTS

4 Cadbury crème eggs, frozen
1 1/4 cup flour, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup crushed Ritz
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons oil
Vegetable oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS

Unwrap and freeze Cadbury eggs for at least 2 hours, if not overnight.*

Prepare your batter and dipping process. In a bowl, place a 1/2 cup of flour. In another bowl, lightly beat one egg. In a third bowl, place crushed Ritz. Set aside.

Fill a large pot with oil so that it is about 4-6 inches deep. Heat oil to 375°F. (This will take about 12-17 minutes). When oil is almost to temperature, begin making batter.

In a large bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Whisk in milk, vinegar, and oil. This should be a thick and somewhat sticky batter (thicker than a pancake mixture).

Working with one Cadbury egg at a time (leaving the others in the freezer). Place into prepared batter. Completely coat with spoon. You want the egg completely covered but be careful not to make this batter coating too thick (you will have leftover batter after frying all your eggs).

Using floured hands transfer to bowl with flour. Coat with flour. Dip in beaten egg. Dip into crushed Ritz crackers and coat. Fry for 1-1 1/2 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining Cadbury eggs (you can keep them warm by placing them on a baking sheet in an oven at 250°F.).

Makes 4 Scotch Cadbury Creme Eggs.

March Top 10

1. Oreos

I want it alllll, and I want it now.

2. Spring Break

A benefit of still being in school.

3. Yoga Pants

I feel like my love for yoga pants occurs all throughout the year, but they deserve direct recognition of their endless comfort.

4. Going Caffeine-free…for a week

While I was on spring break I decided to go a little nuts and go off caffeine completely.  While I was sleeping great, I kept getting these mysterious headaches every afternoon.  There is not direct diagnosis, but maybe I need a little caffeine in my life.

5. Soda

While I was off caffeine, I was not giving up soda.  I’m not a crazy person: soda is my life force.

6. Buzzfeed quizzes

I know people complain about everyone posting their buzzfeed quiz results, but I love them.  Britney Spears is my 90′s pop idol, I was meant to go to the high school in Grease, that I am getting a A- in life, and that my secondary Harry Potter character is Minerva McGonagall.

7. Curb your Enthusiasm

Best show ever.

8. Sherlock

Second best show ever.

9. Warmer Weather

I am back to wearing just one pair of pants.  Freedom!!

10. Favorite Recipe this Month: Muffaletta

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Babbaganoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)

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Spring break is…over.

I don’t know what I am going to do when I am working a real job without any of these academic breaks. A problem for future not, not present me.  Present me is just looking forward to having a week without having to teach or work.

I’ll went home to Houston for the break, and besides the joys of seeing my family, I love trying lots of new food places in Houston.  Last time I was in Houston for the winter break, mom and I went to a Lebanese restaurant and I ate some great food- including babbaganoush.

So what did I do then? Found Cook Illustrated’s recipe, put it on our Christmas Day menu , and chowed down. And I have been dreaming about eating it again ever since.

Babbaganoush is very similar to hummus but using eggplant instead of chickpeas.  Creamy roasted eggplant, tahini, and parsley pairs wonderful with pita bread or pita chips. This dip can be served cold or room temperature, so it’ll be a great dip to help cool down once the weather actually starts warming up

BABBAGANOUSH
Barely Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

2 large eggplants
1-1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for serving
3 cloves roasted garlic
Chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

Preheat grill over high heat for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-high heat. Place eggplants on grill and cook for 15 minutes, rotating 3 times (for 45 minutes total). Remove from grill and let cool slightly. Peel eggplant skin and remove meat from eggplant.

Place eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic in a food processor. Process until smooth. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving. Top with parsley and additional olive oil. Serve with pita bread or pita chips

Pinto Bean Burger

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It’s that time of month again for secret recipe club!  For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Nayna’s blog, Simply.Food.  I was excited when I saw lots and lots of ethnic recipes on Nayna’s blog, especially lots of Indian recipes.  I haven’t eaten Indian food in a long time- the last time was probably when I was 18 and was making appearances at lots of graduation parties.  Lots of the parties had an Indian buffet, which often left something to be desired (AKA I just ate a lot of naan).

I was tempted to try some Indian recipes for dinner, but one day I had an intense craving for a veggie burger.  Since Nayna’s blog is vegetarian, I figured this was a great place to look for a fix for my veggie burger craving.  And satisfy it it did- this is a great, easy pinto bean burger that will satisfy any hungry stomach.

And I also realized that no matter what you do sometimes, delicious food like veggie burgers is not going to look super pretty.

PINTO BEAN BURGER

Slightly Adapted from Simply.Food

INGREDIENTS

2 cans pinto beans
1 potato, cooked
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon aloppa pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for cooking
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
4-6 scallions, chopped
6-9 burger buns
Ketchup, hummus, tomato, lettuce, and onion for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor combine pinto beans, potato, salt, lemon juice, aloppa pepper, smoked paprika, and olive oil. Fold in chopped parsley and scallions. Form mixture into 6-9 patties.

Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Coat pan with olive oil and fry burgers, about 4-5 minutes each side. Serve on buns with desired toppings such as ketchup, hummus, tomato, lettuce, and onion.

Makes 6-9 veggie burgers.

Mushroom Chili Dogs: Improv Challenge

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Many people say that television has too much of an influence on children.  Perhaps, perhaps not.

Either way, I love television.  Reality shows, movies, HBO (Best ever!), cooking shows, Real Housewives of anywhere, sci-fi, historical- I will take them all.  And television has been an influence on me throughout my life.  Back in childhood, I had my definite favorites.  I love Lamb-Chop and grew seriously attached to my stuffed lamb Linda because of it (she may or may not still have a place in my adult bed…TMI? I apparently need some more human contact).  Anotehr favorite of mine was no doubt Sonic the Hedgehog

I always wished I could be Tails. Being a fox with two tails that could propel me through the sky was an ultimate childhood dream.  And to be friends with Sonic? I could die happy.  I still can’t even talk about that episode when Tails was considering allying with Dr. Robotnik and betraying Sonic.  Can’t.

Well, when this month’s Improv Challenge came along with the task of using mushrooms and sausage in a dish, I got a wicked idea.  I was going to create a chili dog, Sonic and Tail’s favorite food.

When I first ate a chili dog as a child, I hated it.  And I felt guilty to disagree with Sonic, but what was the appeal young hedgehog?! Now I like chili dogs, but I wanted to update it and adapt it to my tastes this time.  Creating a rich mushroom chili on top of sausage.  Delicious.

I’m having a childhood flashback to when my parents used to sing “Dr. Robotnik, he’s my hero” just to spite me.  I need a chili dog.

MUSHROOM CHILI DOGS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

For the Mushroom Chili:
Butter
3-4 cups chopped mushrooms
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

For the Chili Dogs:
4 Italian sausages
4 hotdog buns
Chopped onions, for serving
Shredded cheese, for serving

DIRECTIONS

For the Mushroom Chili:

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add enough butter to coat pan. Stir in mushrooms, seasoning with salt and pepper, and cook until browned and tender, about 5-9 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Stir in ketchup, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Simmer until reduced and thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

For the Chili Dogs:

Heat grill over medium-high heat. Grill sausages for about 3-5 minutes per side (this will vary based on the type of sausage being used). Place hotdog buns face down on grill to toast. Place sausages in buns. Top with mushroom chili. Garnish with chopped onions or cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 chili dogs.

Thanks to Frugal Antics of the Harried Homemaker for hosting! Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

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Happy Pi(e) Day!

Any holiday that mandates a celebration with lots of food, especially dessert, is an a-okay holiday in my books.  Thankfully most holidays here center, or at least feature, lots and lots of food.  And while celebrating math is not something I support quite as much, I’ll celebrate Pi Day if it means I get to eat some more dessert.

While Boston Cream Pie isn’t technically a pie, it has the word “pie” in the title, it’s a dessert, and it’s delicious- so I say it works for Pi day.  And what’s even better is putting Boston Cream Pie in individual-sized adorable cupcake form.  Make sure to have some type of pie today to celebrate!

BOSTON CREAM PIE CUPCAKES
Slightly Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

For the Pastry Cream:
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature & in 12 pieces
3 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Icing:
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

For the Pastry Cream:

Place cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in cornstarch until pale yellow and thick.

Slowly whisk the heavy cream into the egg mixture to temper. Return to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, wrap tightly with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Using a stand mixrer or hand mixer, beat butter into flour mixture one piece at a time. Beat until mixture forms moist crumbs, 1-3 minutes. Beat in eggs. Beat in milk and vanilla. Increase speed and mix until smooth, light, and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Pour batter into cupcake tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Use a pairing knife to cut a whole in each muffin, removing excess cake. Fill each cupcake with pastry cream and place cupcake top back on top.

For the Chocolate Frosting:

In a saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder, salt, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter in melted. Whisk in powdered sugar. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes. Pour frosting on top of cupcakes. Let set for at least 30 minutes.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Soda Cracker Torte

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Soda crackers are the food you turn too when you are too nauseated to eat food but know you need to eat something.

Starting out a food blog post talking about nausea- tell me, is your mouth watering yet?

Well, soda crackers can be so much more than a snack of desperation when you are feeling sick.

I am a sucker for any recipe that involves meringue in a unique way.  I just cannot say no to whipped, sugary egg whites.  But I love this salty combo by adding in crushed saltines and nuts into meringue.  This is my kind of dessert.   Tastes like what I imagine heaven to be like- sweet pounds of puffy meringue that is crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

SODA CRACKER TORTE
Barely Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

INGREDIENTS

20-25 saltine crackers, crushed
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup chopped nuts
Whipped cream and cherries, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 inch by 8 inch baking dish.

Beat egg whites and salt until frothy. Increase mixer speed and gradually pour in granulated sugar. Continue to beat until egg whites are glossy and and firm. Fold in saltine crackers and nuts. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely. Serve with whipped cream and cherries