Friday, December 31, 2010

Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

Happy New years eve! warning, this recipe is not gluten free. It was made for a party where there was no food allergies.

Today I set out to make those cupcakes that were shown on Oprah, by the DC Cupcake girls. Well... I guess everyone saw that show. 2 days of searching and 6 grocery stores later, my husband found some fresh strawberries for me. At each place, the produce person was very familiar with why the strawberries were sold out. I honestly have not watched a single episode of Oprah this season. I just haven't had time... UNTIL just the other day. It was after Christmas and I spent the day being lazy. My kids are out of town, so why not. Course it happened to be a show on things to serve for New Years. This recipe looked great. It is not Gluten-free. However I could easily make it that way. My daughter is out of town and I am cooking for 16 people. So I am going with the easy gluten route. Sorry, if you want them gluten free all you have to do is use your favorite gluten-free flour blend instead of regular all purpose flour and add 1tsp of xanthan gum. This is the recipe given on Oprah.com, but I changed mine just a tad. With a little of my banter thrown in between. Note: They said this makes 36 mini cupcakes enough for 12 flutes. But I found I had 48 mini cupcakes with some still left over. So if you need more than 12, don't worry.


Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes (36 mini cupcakes, 3 per Champagne flute)

1/2 cup fresh strawberries , diced
1/2 cup good Champagne (sweet rose Champagne suggested)
2 1/2 cups flour , sifted
1/2 tsp. baking powder , sifted
1/4 Tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs , at room temperature
2 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk , at room temperature

Champagne Buttercream Frosting
16 Tbsp. (8 ounces) unsalted butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar , sifted
1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup good Champagne (sweet rose Champagne suggested)

Strawberry Layer
24 fresh strawberries
1 cup good Champagne (sweet rose Champagne suggested)

Chocolate Ganache
2 cups high-quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

For Serving:

12 glass Champagne flutes

Directions

Step 1: Baking the Mini Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 mini cupcake pans with 36 mini baking cups or grease pans with butter if not using baking cups.

Dice up 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries
Wash first of course....

and soak in 1/2 cup of Champagne. Set aside.


Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.

Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated.

Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.

Gently fold in the diced Champagne-soaked strawberries, just until incorporated.

Scoop batter into baking cups

 and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. If using paper baking cups, peel off all of the paper baking cups from the cupcakes at this time.


Step 2: Making the Champagne Buttercream Frosting

Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Add the confectioner's sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Add the vanilla extract, milk, salt and Champagne, and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Place frosting in a disposable piping bag with a large round tip.

Step 3: Preparing the Strawberries

Slice 24 strawberries lengthwise and soak in 1 cup of Champagne for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 4: Making the Chocolate Ganache

Fill a medium saucepan with an inch or 2 of water and place over medium-low heat. Place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a medium glass bowl over the saucepan and melt the chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until the chips are completely melted. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the saucepan. Pour the ganache into a plastic squeeze bottle. (If a squeeze bottle is not available, you can drizzle with a spoon.)

Step 5: Assembling Layers in Champagne Flutes

Line up 12 glass Champagne flutes. Insert 1 mini strawberry Champagne cupcake in the bottom of each glass. Next, pipe a swirl of Champagne buttercream frosting on top of each cupcake. Add several slices of Champagne-soaked strawberries, and a drizzle of chocolate ganache. Repeat layers. Finally, place a third mini strawberry Champagne cupcake at the top of each glass, pipe with a final "Georgetown Cupcake signature swirl" of Champagne buttercream frosting, and top with a final drizzle of chocolate ganache.

I left the final drizzle off. I thought it would make it messy.
Thanks Oprah and DC cupcake company!
..

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas

I hope all of you had a great Christmas. I was reminded today how many readers I have. My inbox was quite active. Sometimes I look at my "Followers" link and just think it is a small amount. Until I get email after email from all over the place, people I do not know. It is wonderful. I enjoy every bit o it. Every question. Thank you all out there. Even if you are not a "registered follower" I treasure you all.

Today was Christmas day. I had the joy of making my gluten-free cinnamon rolls for a beloved gluten-intollerant family ( I love you Griffith family!) . They are like family to me in more ways than one. I had company in from out of town, they were swamped with company too and making it to see them was out of the question, but I made them the rolls for Christmas morning, and I must say. I think I got more joy out of that, than anything else this Christmas day. I love to cook (duh!). I especially love to cook for those that appreciate it. They called, and messaged me saying how good they were. "The best gluten or non gluten cinnamon rolls I have ever had". Ok, you may not understand, but to me that was the best gift I could receive. Knowing my food made someone happy.

I got everything I wanted this year, and then some. A lot of cooking gadgets, a new camera for better cooking pictures and an adorable coach purse. What more could I ask for? Happy eaters!!! And I got those too!!!
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope yours was as blessed as mine!
From our family to yours

Friday, December 24, 2010

Another go at Gluten-Free Garlic Cheese rolls.. but doing biscuits

It is Christmas eve. In our home, it is tradition to attend our candlelight service at our church, then come home and eat a Turkey dinner, and then open gifts. We do stockings Christmas day, because Santa comes Christmas morning. It has been that way since the day I was born and I am passing on the tradition to my kids. I basically make everything for dinner at Christmas that I do on Thanksgiving. You can see the menu here.
I wanted to make a better version of my garlic rolls for Taylor. This is a different attempt for my daughter. She loves loves loves bread. She liked the other version of my gluten free garlic rolls, but I am going for LOVE. Trying biscuits this time.

Garlic Cheese Biscuits
1 ¾ cups gluten-free flour mix
1 tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
5 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Topping
2 tbsp butter, melted
3 clovea garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.

Cut in butter until mixture has pea-sized flour-coated butter pieces throughout.

Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add the milk and cheese to the well and stir to combine.

Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in preheated oven (450)  for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.
While biscuits are baking, melt butter and mix with minced garlic and let it sit in the hot butter to take away a little bit of the bite. Pour over the top and serve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gluten Free Cheesecake Cups

I didn't want to leave Randy out of the cooking frenzy. The man LOVES cheesecake. I didn't want a huge pan of it. So I made little cupcake cheesecakes. They are good. I mean really really good. I use Kinnikinnick gluten free graham cracker crumbs and you can't even tell the difference. Cheesecake is naturally gluten free anyway.

Gluten Free Cheesecake Cups
Half a bag of gluten free graham cracker crumbs (I use Kinnikinnick)
1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Here is a picture of the graham crumbs I use.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Place gluten free graham crumbs in the bottom of each muffin liner, top with 1 tsp butter and pinch of sugar. Set aside.

2. Cream together the cream cheese and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy, and thoroughly combined. Add the egg, beating until well combined. Mix in the vanilla.

3. Divide the batter evenly among each cup on top of crumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges and top are set.

4. Cool completely and then chill for at least a couple of hours. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Gluten-Free Challah Bread

The Bread monkey is on my back again. (A.K.A Taylor). Time to get out my creative side and get a dinner bread made gluten-free that she can be happy with. I am going to try making:
Challah. I adapted this recipe from another blogger "I am gluten free". I had to change it up for our tastes. But I would highly recommend anyone try this recipe that is gluten intollerant. Yummy bread.

Usually Challah is braided. But seeing how I can't use regular processed flour, That is not going to happen here. Traditional challah recipes use a large number of eggs, fine white flour, water and sugar. As you can see this recipe is prepared differently for the Gluten challenged people out there. But the taste is all there and well worth the prep time.

Ingredients:
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (120 degrees)
1 ½ cups cornstarch
¾ cup white rice flour
½ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
3 tablespoons almond meal
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons potato flour
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup honey
4 eggs + 1 extra egg yolk (at room temperature)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Add yeast and sugar to warm water. Stir until frothy.
2. Sift together cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, almond meal, xanthun gum, salt, and potato fllour and poor in a heavy duty mixer (Kitchenaid).

3. With mixer running, add yeast mixture, then add melted butter and honey.

4. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until blended.

5. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes – batter will look like pudding.

6. Spoon batter into greased 9” spring form pan or 9x5 inch loaf pan.

7. Smooth top surface of batter I did this by spraying Pam on my clean hands and spreading it by hand.

8. Cover pan with plastic wrap sprayed underneath with Pam type spray so it won’t stick to batter as it rises.

9. Let rise in warm place for about 45 minutes.
10. Using a fine serrated knife, cut 4 diagonal lines across top of bread about 1/8 inch deep to allow the steam to escape.

11. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Cover with foil after first 20 minutes then take it off for the last 25 minutes.
12. Transfer to wire cooling rack, rub top with butter while it’s still hot.
Yum

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cupcakes

It is almost here! Christmas day is slowly approaching. Makes me not want to work or do chores and just hide away cooking in the kitchen all day. The kids are out of school which makes getting my work done even harder. I have been doing the finishing touches on my new dog clothing line at http://www.purecountrypetboutique.com/. The line gets launched January 1st. Not necessarily great timing, but it is what it is. I have been working on this line for 6 months, so I am happy it is finally coming to an end. At any rate. I am burnt out and just want a week off.

Nothing smells like Christmas to me more than Gingerbread. There is something about having the tree all lit up, the Christmas music on and the house smelling like Gingerbread. So today, Gingerbread it is!
If you are not gluten intollerant, simply leave out the xanthan gum and use regular all purpose flour. As always I have a link to my all purpose flour blend. It is very easy to make it is just 2 parts rice flour, 1 part tapioca starch/flour, 1 part potato starch. I sift it together and make a huge bag of it so that it is ready for all of my baking needs anytime I want.

Here is the recipe!




Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cupcakes


2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups Gluten Free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

Directions
1.Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 10 muffin tins with paper baking cups, and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

2.In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in the eggs.

3.Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly.

Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool a few minutes,

then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Vanilla Frosting1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions

1.With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2.Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

3.Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. I put it in a large ziplock bag and cut off one corner with the scissors.

Then I squeeze the frosting out onto each cupcake. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gluten-Free mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

I got the cutest mini cupcake baking cups at Henry's. I wanted to make something festive with them, but I also am craving chocolate. (What's new?). Our Southern California weather took a nose dive and we actually have rain. It is always good to have a change, and since it doesn't last long, I don't mind. It just gives me another reason to cook. I am making little mini cupcakes with festive m&m's on them. I know sometimes the whole gluten free recipe looks daunting. It really isn't that hard once you have a staple of gluten free flours in your home. I simply sift together all the dry ingredients and then you can't taste the difference. It is worth the effort. 50% of eating for me is the fulfillment of making the food. That is why I love to find people that love to eat, it is a perfect pairing. =)

Oh and while I am at it, I must say how excited I was to receive a huge box full of gluten free products at my door yesterday. I won a gluten-free giveaway contest from Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom. My daughter is so excited to have so many options available to her. Look at all this stuff:


Ok on to my cupcakes. I adapted this recipe from "I am Gluten Free".

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup sorghum
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tbsp tapioca starch
2 tbsp potato starch
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 packet starbucks via instant brew
1/8 tsp gelatin
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Sprinkles of choice.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In medium-sized bowl, sift together white rice flour, quinoa flour, sorghum, almond flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, ground espresso, and surejel. Set aside.

Combine milk, canola oil, sugar, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar in bowl of kitchenaid mixer. Mix until just combined. Keeping mixer on low speed, slowly add dry ingredients. When everything is blended together, increase speed to medium high for 3 minutes.

Spoon mixture into cupcake liners until they are about 3/4 full.

Bake 18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to sit in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Allow to completely cool before icing.

Chocolate Ganache Icing
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix the milk, agave, vanilla, and sea salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt chocolate chips in microwave on 50% power for 2 minutes.
Once the chocolate chips are melted, add to milk mixture and mix until completely blended.

When both the cupcakes and the icing have reached room temperature, spoon the ganache over the cupcake, add sprinkles or candy for decoration.


Let set at room temperature for 2 hours before eating. I can't say enough COOL COMPLETELY before eating. They will taste 100% different.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

My husband and I love tortilla soup. Sadly so many of the recipes call for velveeta cheese. Sorry, not gonna do it. I wanted to make a fresh version that did not use processed cheese. It was a success! We like it spicy. I can't wait to have the leftovers again tomorrow. It was perfect.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium white onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut in wedges, for serving
Tortilla chips for serving.

Directions
In a large pot add onions, garlic, jalapenos, and tomatoes and chicken broth. Heat to boiling then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowl. Top with chicken, cheese, tortillas and cilantro and serve. I like mine with a squeeze of lime, Yum.

Brown Sugar Cookies Gluten-Free or regular

The baking frenzy continues. Seems like every time I finish one batch... they are gone. Between the gaming nights my son has with all of his friends here, and the girls Varsity basketball team. I am lucky if I get a taste. Oh well... I love to cook and bake so I am really not complaining. It gets my creative mind flowing. I really love it when I can make gluten free cookies and my son devours them. Mostly because he has an issue if it is "gluten free" He is not intollerant and so he complains. He has his own cupboard in our home, full of what I call "nasty unhealthy processed food." I would not give him that stuff, but he is rail thin. 6'2" of skin and bone and one of the most finicky eaters I have ever met. I sneak him healthy food whenever I can. This recipe is not healthy, but it IS gluten free and he loved them. As always, remember you can make this normal gluten cookies by omitting the xanthan gum and using regulary all purpose flour. I use my gluten-free flour blend.

This is hands down one of the best cookies I make.

Brown Sugar Cookies
1 1/3 cup  butter
1 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Large Egg plus 1 Yolk
1 TBS Vanilla Extract
2 cups gluten free all purpose Flour blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder

for topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Melt 1 cup plus TBS of butter in a small pan and keep on the low heat for 4 minutes until the butter is a light brown color and smells nutty. Pour into a separate bowl and add the remaining 4 TBS butter and whisk to melt the butter.

2. Let cool 3 minutes , then add brown sugar and salt. Whisk until brown sugar is completely clump free and smooth. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together flour,xanthan gum (omit if not gluten free) baking soda and baking powder. Add to the wet mixture and mix until fully combined, using a spatula.



3. Combine 1/4 cup of each sugar and brown sugar and mix. Roll out 36 balls of dough and coat in the sugar combination.

4. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet or stone.
Let cool and enjoy!

English Toffee

My husband loves his toffee. Yes, I could just keep him at bay by getting another heath bar. But this is the holidays! Besides, heath bars don't even come close to how good this toffee is. I like to make it and freeze it, then use it whenever a recipe calls for toffee bits. It is great. It is naturally gluten-free, so no difference there.  Super easy. I hope you try it!

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

In a heavy saucepan mix butter, sugar, water and salt. Stir constantly with a high temperature spatula until it reaches 290 degrees... a tan color... don't let it get too dark. You know what toffee looks like.
pour onto a buttered sheet pan with edges.
 Don't let it touch you at all, obviously it is dangerous. Let it cool only slightly then sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Let the chips melt and then spread them evenly across to make the chocolate topping.
Chill for 2 hours then crack and serve.

Gluten-free Cornbread

Life is funny. It is all about change. Nothing ever stays the same. I guess you can say the only thing that stays the same is that you can guarantee change. The last 3 years my life has taken drastic changes. Moving from Oregon, the only place I can remember calling home, to Southern California. I have found a new home. While I miss my friends and family back home, I do not miss living there. Summers in Oregon are beautiful, but the rest of the time... not beautiful (for me). If you love rain, then it is the place for you. I get that some people love it. I can't stand it. Moving here gave me a whole new perspective on life. I am able to be active year round. If I need some peace, I drive 5 minutes to the beach. The other plus is the cuisine. Serious food here. Not only that, pretty much every place has gluten-free options on the menu. A lot of our grocery stores have everything labeled that is gluten-free. Thank the Lord for that! I have been learning more and more how to make regular food into gluten-free food. One thing I love about Gluten-Free is that I can still have cornbread. Cornbread and hunny butter  a comfort food for me. It is one of those dishes I can remember from my childhood. For some reason we ate out at a local pie house a lot. I used to get a side of corn bread all the time. I have always loved corn bread. It is a comfort for me.

Gluten-free Cornbread Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x9x2-inch pan.
Mix together in a large bowl:
1 cup stone ground corn meal
1/4 cup corn flour
3/4 cup gluten-free self rising flour blend (link is for my recipe)
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
In another bowl, whisk together:
2 large eggs 1 1/3 cups milk
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Fold in:
3 Tbsp melted butter or vegetable oil.


Pour the batter into the greased pan

 and cook for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in it comes out clean.

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