August 31, 2011

Sweet Treats Week #3: Glazed Doughnut Muffins

How's your week so far?

Think you're getting any cavities?

I hope you like what you've seen. We're half way through Sweet Treats Week. That makes me sad.

But it's okay! There are still two more delicious posts awaiting you.

Today I'm sharing some muffins. Muffins that came out so pretty, if I do say so myself.

They really do taste like doughnuts. My favorite part, of course, is the glaze...which I may or may not have stuck my finger in the bowl as I was dipping these. These muffins are double dipped by the way. I'm a firm believer that you can never have enough glaze.

The hubby ended up taking these in the car ride to work with him. That may not have been the best idea. Sticky fingers + new silk tie= disastrous laundry day. But he did think they were good!

Servings: 15 muffins

Muffin Batter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 ¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste (I used ¾)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and water. Whisk until smooth. When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip. I glazed my muffins twice. Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day. 

*Note: I froze half my batch. So far they've held up pretty well!

How are you liking Sweet Treats Week? Would you like to see more themed weeks in the future?

August 30, 2011

Sweet Treats Week #2: Mocha Almond Crunch Biscotti

Happy Tuesday folks! I've got a special treat for you (I wonder how many times I'll use the word "treat" this week) for our second Sweet Treat. When I asked if anyone would be interested in doing a guest post for Sweet Treat Week, Rachel was the first to respond. You might remember me guest posting on her blog with my berry waffles. Needless to say, I'm very happy to have Rachel here today!

Hi everyone! I am so thrilled to be guest posting for Christina today. She is wonderful, so I am sure all of her readers (yeah, I’m talking about you) are wonderful too! Not too long ago, Christina made some amazing waffles and shared them on my site, so I am so happy to be here to return the favor. 

When Christina told me she was having a “Sweet Treats Week,” I was so excited to think up a yummy treat to contribute. I’ve only made biscotti once before, but ever since, I knew I wanted to create a version with chocolate and coffee involved. That’s how this recipe was born. The other version was great too, but really, can you beat chocolate? While these are baking, please check out my blog

Mocha Almond Crunch Biscotti

2.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbsp espresso powder
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
½ cup dark chocolate chunks
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, espresso powder, toasted almonds, chocolate chips and chocolate chunks.
3. In separate bowl (I use a small measuring cup), whisk together eggs and vanilla.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. This is a very dry dough, so I started with a spoon, but ended combining the ingredients with my (clean) hands.
5. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
6. Form the dough into two flat logs on the parchment paper. It spreads a little, but not much, so make these slightly smaller than the width that you would like your biscotti to be.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let the biscotti cool completely before slicing into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices.
8. Lay the slices flat on a baking sheet (you can use the same one, with the parchment), and bake for 7-10 minutes, flip each one over, and then continue to bake for an additional 7-10 minutes.

Verdict: This was great! It was a little fragile, but tastes great. I love the combination of flavors involved. I was glad I decided to add the almonds, but if they aren’t your thing, feel free to leave them out.
Husband’s take: When I told him I was making biscotti, he said “Oh, that hard stuff?” However, I caught him eating some with his cup of coffee and he said “This is really good.”
Changes I would make: None.
Difficulty: Easy! It is a little time-consuming since you have to bake it twice, but I actually did this over the span of two days. It is very forgiving in that regard. 

Thanks again Rachel! I hope you all will show her some love!

August 29, 2011

Sweet Treats Week #1: Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Welcome to "Sweet Treats Week" on This Woman Cooks! Every day this week will be dedicated to some kind of sweet treat, including several guest posts and a giveaway for that sweet tooth you're bound to have by the end! If all goes well, I'm thinking there will be plenty more weekly themes in the future. Kick back and keep an eye on your blood sugar, you're in for a sugar high!

You are about to see an overload of cupcake pictures.

I couldn't stop.

I was so proud of my little creations that I took well over 50 pictures. I repositioned them, set them on ramekins for some cool angle shots, hopped onto the table, hovered over on a dining chair...

I was a crazy person on Friday, August 19th at 10:30pm. That's not when these pictures were taken, obviously. This was at 11:00am the next morning. But the night before I was a raving lunatic. Okay, I might be exaggerating. Ahem. I was a little crazy. In my pajamas, pacing the kitchen back and forth muttering to myself about frosting. Sorry Twitter and Facebook friends. You were the only ones around to talk to!

The first batch of frosting I made was a strawberry one. I originally wanted to do strawberry vanilla cupcakes. The strawberry icing was coming along together well, until I scooped it into the piping bag. It was a mess. No pretty ringlets around my cupcakes. I was very sad. Then I got angry. Frustrated. Confused! Panicked. I told myself to take a break and worry about it the next day. But I couldn't go to sleep, not without finding the perfect frosting recipe. Hence the pacing and sticky fingers at 11:30pm.  

I scoured the web for ideas when I remembered Jessica's insane amount of cupcake recipes. I decided to try her vanilla buttercream. Oh. My. Diabetes. I may never use another frosting again. Thanks for saving me yet again, Jessica. :)

Vanilla Buttercream
Source: How Sweet It Is
Serving: frosting for 15-20 cupcakes

2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of milk, if needed

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thick, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached If it’s too thin, add sugar gradually until it thickens. Frost cupcakes and top with sprinkles.

Source: Cupcakes with Sprinkles
Servings: 12-15 cupcakes

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of Butter, room temperature
1 cup of Sugar
1/2 heaping Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 large Eggs
1/4 cup Whole Milk
1/4 cup Plain Yogurt1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Sift twice. With an electric mixer on medium speed, add butter 1 Tablespoon at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt and vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Do not overbeat! Fill lined cupcake tins approx. 2/3 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Start checking at 15 minutes. Don't over bake or they will be dry.
Be sure to check back every day this week, there will be a new sweet treat waiting for you!

August 27, 2011

The Week Wrap Up 8/22-8/27

I've been so impressed with the food blogging community in the past two weeks. Baking hundreds of peanut butter pies and starting a fundraiser for someone in need. Not to mention the enormous amount of baked goods being auctioned off and cookbooks being signed. It is an honor to be a part of this community and I had no idea I would love it so much when I first started this blog. This has become more than a hobby to me, it truly is a passion.

This week I found so many things to share with you that I had fallen in love with and placed in my must-bake-immediately file. Keep up the fabulous job, I'm counting on you!

Here's what I shared with you this week:

Here's what I bookmarked:

Mini Monster Cookies- The Fresh Fridge

Chicken, Spinach, and Parmesan Hot Pockets- In Good Cents

Mint Buttercream Frosting- In Katrina's Kitchen

Coconut Cream Pie- Bake Me Blush

Rustic Mini Peach Tarts- What's For Dinner? 

Triple Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins- Good Life Eats

Dark Chocolate Souffles- So, How's It Taste?

Frosted Cookie Brownies- Food Snots

Chicken and Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake- Food Snots

Sky-High Confetti Cream Cheese Brownies- Not Rachael Ray

Phew! I'm exhausted. 

That's a wrap! Have a fantastic weekend! Hope to see you back Monday for the beginning of Sweet Treats Week. :)

August 25, 2011

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

Something's coming.

There's gonna be some big things happening on This Woman Cooks! next week. A whole week of sweet treats brought to you by yours truly and by several other fabulous bloggers. To prepare you for the massive tooth ache you're gonna get, I thought I'd share a recent breakfast treat I made for the hubby. Oh. Did I mention there will be a giveaway involved by the end of sweet treats week... stay tuned.

It's hard thinking up something portable, not so messy, and convenient for the hubby to take with him on the car ride to "work" (third rotation-internal medicine). He scarfs down whatever baked good I've made for the week and washes it down with a fruit smoothie. That I also make. Nightly. I'm too good of a wife. Where are my roses!?

I knew he'd like this because: 1. He loves bananas. 2. He is obsessed with Nutella. Every time we go to Costco I have to talk him out of buying the two ginormous bottles that he will not have a chance to finish before their expiration date.

Despite all the Nutella that went into this bread, I found it to be unpronounced. Apparently I have a Nutella problem too! I suggest adding more, a few tablespoons or so, unless you're not a crazed Nutella fan. In which case, I'd worry about you.

Source: Visions of Sugar Plum
Makes 1 loaf

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe banana
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Nutella

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together banana, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy and well combined - about 2 minutes.  Beat in eggs until well combined - about 2 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour mixture until just combined.  Divide 1/2 of of the batter into a medium bowl; stir in Nutella until combined. 

Alternate spoonfuls of batter into loaf pan until all of the batter is used up.  Swirl batter gently with a knife (not too much!).  Bake 1 hour or until well risen, deep golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into bread comes out with moist crumbs attached.

What are your ideas of a portable/convenient breakfast?

August 23, 2011

One-Pot Southwestern Chicken and Rice

Wanna know one thing I don't like about summer?


Before sitting down to write this post I slathered my legs with hydrocortisone. The hubbs thinks it's hilarious. Apparently they don't like his blood. I haven't even been outside much. They've taken residence inside our house! Those little buggers hang out on our porch and every time I take our dog out one of them manages to fly in despite my awesome ninja moves to slam the door shut. Fast flying suckers.

Anyhow. I digress.

Let's talk about the food! You might have seen this on a recent week wrap up. I will make anything deemed as "southwestern". I love all the components of this dish. It's an easy one to make your own. Want more heat? Spice it up with cayenne pepper, jalapenos...and um... what else adds more heat? I'm a wimp. I know nothing. I know this had plenty of cheese, black beans, corn, salsa, and sour cream. I was a happy camper. The hubbs was too!

Oh, and cilantro! Are you a lover or a hater? I love it, as long as there's not too much. I like the flavor hanging out in the background among the cheese. Cheesy rice = happy life.

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Serves 4-6

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used two and butterflied them)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (I used one cup)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used two cups)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn
4 ounces cheese (I used cheddar)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Salsa and sour cream for serving

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. The chicken will cook more in a subsequent step. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

To the pot, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook until the edges are just slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Return the chicken to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter or plate. Stir the black beans and corn into the pot. Add the cheese and cilantro. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the rice with the chicken, adding salsa and sour cream, if desired.

*This left us with plenty of leftovers; a perfect weeknight meal to package up for lunch the next day. 

What do you like to take for lunch?

August 22, 2011

Weekend Bites + Menu Plan Monday 8/22

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun, pick up a new hobby, ride a bike, make something new? I did a few of those things. I'd like to wish a happy first day of school back to everyone back home in Miami. I hope you all have a great day and like your teachers/professors/students. Show them who's boss! Or, be respectful. :) 

This weekend was a low key one for us. On Friday the hubbs and I tried to grilling pizza for the first time.

We were 89% successful. There was an incident with plastic and a tabletop (more on that to come). The bottom corner of our crust was also burned. But it was still really good! Thanks to MJ from MJ's Kitchen for the recipe!

Then there was an incident with cupcake frosting. Also a first time thing to happen in the This Woman Cooks! kitchen. Piping frosting. Who would've though it would turn me into a crazy person. I was determined to get it right before going to sleep Friday night and stayed up perfecting my circular design. If you're a follower on Twitter and Facebook, I shared this picture triumphantly with you when I was done. I was so proud.

A typical weekend lunch. Homemade mac and cheese with spinach!

Chocolate muffins for the hubby to take for breakfast.

Lastly, we've recently adopted a new weekend tradition. Gelato! We're obsessed with a small gelateria that just opened and changes out their flavors every week. Talk about a sure-fire way to get me going back. I had maple bacon and evil- a chocolate gelato with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. SO GOOD.

What did you do this weekend?

I almost forgot- it's Monday, here's my menu plan for the week!

BLT Pasta
Orange Honey Chicken with Broccoli and Rice
Smothered Pork Medallions with Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Grilled Chicken and Lemon Basil Pasta
Pulled Pork Sandwiches

What's on your menu this week?

August 20, 2011

The Week Wrap Up 8/15-8/20

Hi friends! Welcome to the weekend. What do you have planned? I've got cupcakes to take to a friend's house, pizza to grill, anddd...lots of lazying around to do on Sunday. I do need something from you- more dinner recommendations! As you'll see in today's wrap up, I've only got one new dinner bookmarked for the week. A girl can't eat pies and chocolate all day! Well, I could, but you know what, I don't think the hubby would like me walking around in my fat pants all.the.time. ;P

If you're new to The Week Wrap Up, here's how it works:

1. Every Saturday there will be a weekly wrap up of all my posts for the week.
2. I will feature all the links I've bookmarked from that week.
3. I will also feature your posts- if you'd like me to share a recipe that you've recently blogged (or bookmarked), leave me a comment and I'll pick my favorites.

Here's what I shared with you this week: 

Here's what I've bookmarked:

 Orange Honey Chicken- Edesia's Notebook

7 Layer Bars- Steph's Bite by Bite

Chocolate Granola Bars- Cookies and Cups

Macadamia and White Chocolate Cookie- Everyday Insanity

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars- Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Strawberry Tart- Beloved Green

Lemon Meringue Pie- The Baked Been

That's a wrap! Now it's your turn. Would you like me to feature one of your recipes? Share your links with me!
Have a great weekend!

August 18, 2011

Summer Veggie Pasta

I feel like I did a lot this summer.

I ate lots of veggies. More than the ones I usually eat. I grilled many of our meals. I made lots of ice cream. I made bread and a few other homemade (tomato sauce) goodies (pop tarts). I also found new blogs to love, increased blog traffic, and gained new readers (hello new friends!!).

As for things accomplished that aren't food/blog related... I read some new books (although there is always so much to read and I always feel behind), entertained my lovely, beautiful family members, completed a few home projects, turned another year older, spent lots of quality time with the hubby, and celebrated events with friends.   

The only thing I didn't accomplish... write a best selling novel. Oh well.

There's always next summer.

This pasta dish is very light and truly brings together the flavors of summer. I paired it with a side salad and toasted bread. The tang of the goat cheese was my favorite part about this dish. 

Source: inspired by one I found here.

Servings: 2
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley (if using fresh, 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon basil (if using fresh, 1/4 cup)
3 ounces mild goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
1 cup rigatoni whole wheat pasta
Heat a skillet over medium low heat. Pour tablespoon of olive oil. Add minced garlic once oil is hot. Stir continuously, making sure garlic does not burn. Remove garlic from skillet once it has turned golden brown into a small bowl.

Start pasta water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add more olive oil if needed and added chopped pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes then add zucchini. Add pasta to your saucepan if boiling, season with salt. 

When the peppers and zucchini are cooked to your liking (soft, tender), add cherry tomatoes, parsley, basil, and goat cheese. Heat until tomatoes release their juices and cheese has melted. Drain pasta and place in serving bowl. Combine veggie mixture and garlic with the cooked pasta. Toss, season with salt and pepper, add more goat cheese and olive oil if desired.  

What did you accomplish this summer?

August 16, 2011

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

I know you've thought about it.

Toyed with the idea of buying an ice cream maker.

Wondered if it would be a good investment.
Do you really need another gadget in your kitchen?

Yes, my friends.
I'll say yes again.
This is reason enough to get yourself one.

By far the best ice cream I have made to date. Better than the double chocolate chip ice cream I shared with you recently. I don't know how to tell you how good this strawberry-madness-in-a-bowl is. It's sweet without being overly sweet, creamy, dreamy, with the right amount of sour cream that you'd never guess that was a main ingredient.

There are no eggs so you don't have to worry about making a custard base. You'll start by washing and hulling the strawberries and showering them in sugar, as you saw in the pictures above. Once you've blended everything together the bowl will go in the fridge for a while to get nice and cold before churning. You can eat it right after it's churned. The ice cream will be ridiculously soft and velvety, like soft serve. Or you could freeze it for a firmer consistency. I like it either way.

Does summer have to end?

Source: Two Peas & Their Pod
Makes 1 1/4 quarts ice cream
1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vodka or kirsch (omitted)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a medium bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, if using. I left the alcohol out. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve and all of the strawberries are coated. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth, but still slightly chunky.

Refrigerate mixture for at least one hour. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I know. I'll make pumpkin ice cream in the Fall. :)

What's your favorite ice cream?

August 15, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 8/15

Happy Monday! I'm embracing this Monday as it's one of the last few that I'll  have all to myself before school starts again. I've got big plans to sit around, read Thirteen Reasons Why, bake something in the kitchen, run some errands, do some cleaning, and watch Masterchef. Sounds like a productive day to me.

How was your weekend? The hubbs and I spent a lot of time together, watching movies, going out to eat, and having some ice cream.

 Lunch from Zingermans. My first time, can you believe it?

A cute, small gelato place just opened nearby. I think this is going to become our weekend treat.

Doughnut muffins. Recipe coming ASAP.

We also went to see Sarah's Key. I thought it was a good adaption from the book. Intense.

 Anddd we went out for sushi with some friends.

What did you do? 

I got my menu together pretty quickly yesterday. That never happens. I had a lot of options to choose from! I'm excited to try out a lot of these new recipes, many that I got from this week's wrap up.

Honey Dijon Chicken Tenders with Zucchini Rice
Tuscan Pasta with Tomato Basil Cream
One Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice
Grilled Pizza
Caramelized Onion Burgers with Spicy Mayo

What's on your menu this week?