Sunday, May 13, 2012

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting recipe

What nicer way to treat your mother-in-law than by baking her something sweet. Here's hoping she enjoys and appreciates them, though I am certainly wishing that I could be spoiling my mom in AK instead! I feel as if I really lucked out by having amazing parents, who put my siblings and I first to a fault. There really aren't words or time enough to describe all the wonderful things that she has taught me about being a strong, independent, resourceful person. Simply the value of the fact that she is someone who truly listens when you talk to her, no matter who you are. She would generously give everything that she has to her friends and loved ones, and does. And, despite having siblings, she never failed to make each one of us feel special in our own way. I loved her motto throughout our school years that 'as long as you try your hardest I will always be proud of you.' I love you mom!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Taken from the brown eyed baker 
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 20 minutes
For the Cupcakes:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons red food coloring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar (I had to add more powdered sugar to stiffen up frosting enough to use 1M)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin/cupcake pan with liners.
2. On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.
5. Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.
7. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
8. To make the frosting: Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.
*Note: This recipe can be doubled to make an 8 or 9-inch layer cake.
(Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Here is a good reference for cupcake decorating: Decorate This!. I used the 1M tip! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos recipe

This week it was time for some summer fun, especially after spending an amazing weekend taking in Memphis in May with friends. There is something so summery for me about seafood and cilantro! And these tacos were delicious. A few years ago I would have been skeptical: fish? and tacos? not a marriage I was interested in; however the Sunspot restaurant on Knoxville, TN's strip changed my mind about this. A weird place to grow an appreciation for fish tacos I will admit, but their food is delicious. Next time that you want to take in the Great Smoky Mountains, which I would highly recommend for the hiking (and not Pigeon Forge's ghastly array of go carts and mini golf), make a detour through Knoxville and eat at the Sunspot. I could wax nostalgic for a while about all the things I love about Knoxville, but I will leave you just one more tid bit. If you decide to go hiking there make sure to check out this amazing hiking website: hiking the smokies. It has never failed to disappoint us and I miss hiking so much on the weekends.
Ok now back to amazing fish tacos. Make these savor them and while you are cooking them consume some delicious chips and salsa while dancing around your kitchen singing to The Head and the Heart, just one of the many great bands at MiM, and thanks to my friend M for introducing them to me!

Baja Grilled Fish Tacos
Serves 4

cabbage slaw for topping                                      1 small head of cabbage shredded, 1/4 C minced fresh cilantro, 2 Tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp canola oil, 1/4 tsp salt                                                               1. Toss all of the ingredients together, set aside for serving
chipotle mayo spread                                                     1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro, 3/4 C light mayo, 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, 2 tsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, 1 garlic clove minced, salt and pepper to taste                                                      2. Combine all ingredients, set aside for serving
the fish                                                                  2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 3 tsp canola oil, 4- 6oz skinless mahi-mahi fillets, 12-6" corn tortillas, lime wedges (for serving)                             3. Combine the spices in a bowl. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, brush with the remaining oil, then rub spice mixture on evenly.
4. Grill on a charcoal or gas grill until fish is opaque, approximately 10-14 minutes, gently turning approximately halfway through. (AMT has lots of great suggestions and specifications for grilling which I did not include, as my husband took care of the grilling. When I attempted to relay their instructions he gruffly told me that he knew how to operate a grill and he did a great job as always, look at that sear! He loves being the 'grill master' and having barbecues.)
5. They suggest grilling the tortillas, but I cheated and heated them up in the kitchen, per package instructions.
6. Cut each fillet into 3 equal pieces. Smear the tortilla with the chipotle mayo, top with cabbage slaw, a piece of fish, and generous squeeze of lime. 

per serving (3 tacos): Cal: 540, Fat: 20g, Sat Fat:2g, Chol: 130mg, Carb: 52g, Protein: 36g, Fiber; 6g, Sodium: 900mg 

Friday, May 4, 2012

cheap diy storage

My husband recently requested a subscription to National Geographic for his birthday. So the question after getting a magazine monthly is what to do when you have read them once (No neither of us is cool enough to have a Kindle Fire or an iPad yet)? Do you recycle them? Do you give them away to someone else you know? We decided to keep them available for viewing in the lobby of the law office he shares. Rather than buying a magazine rack, here is what I did:

1. Cut the top off of a medium box (we are a little obsessed with bulk shopping lately, which gets to be like play Tetris in a small apartment)
2. Cover the box with brown craft paper (I wrapped it like a present and used a glue that would not clump or show through the paper, only reinforcing with tape on the bottom where it would not be viewed.
3. Measure the total size of the box, then purchase enough muslin fabric to make an interior lining (I only needed approximately a third of a yard, which was less than a $1. My box measured 9" in height and 28" total width.)
4, Wash and press your fabric, then cut to size, making sure to leave at least an extra inch total for seam allowances (you should have a large rectangle for the sides of the box and a small rectangle that fits the bottom of the box. Mine measured at 29"x 12" and 9"x8").
5. Stitch the top seam first folding half and inch of wrong sides together for the large rectangle
6. Stitch the sides of the large rectangle together with right sides together
7. Pin together and stitch the small rectangle to the large rectangle at the bottom with right sides together.

Once again sorry for the lack of pictures! I have been so forgetful lately!!