September 23, 2012

Homemade Whole-Egg Mayonnaise

Making homemade mayo was surprisingly easy and fast. I now only make it from scratch -- it only takes a few minutes, so it's ready and available right when I need it. Mayonnaise is a condiment that I use both sparingly and infrequently, so it is especially helpful to be able to make a small amount on demand.

And don't worry about not having the ingredients... other than the use of a lone egg (highly likely you've got one lurking in the fridge), this recipe exclusively calls for pantry-only ingredients. Plus, many mayo recipes call for only the egg yolks, but I hate waste so this one uses the whole egg. No fussing and separating required.

I'd much rather whip this mayo up in a few minutes than take ten to run to the store for a big jar that will sit there taking up fridge space for months! You'll find this homemade spread to be far fresher and creamier than anything you'll find on the shelf. Enjoy!

1/4 t. dry mustard powder (or 1/2 t. dijon mustard)
1/4 t. salt
1 whole egg
1-2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil

Directions: Using a food processor (or immersion or regular blender) add the first four ingredients up until the oil. Turn the processor on and allow the ingredients to mix. Then, VERY SLOWLY drizzle the cup of oil into the running processor. It will look to be a liquid consistency at first, but you'll notice that toward the end of the cup of oil it will have firmed up to be thick and creamy.

If desired, add a little more vinegar (I like mine slightly more tart) or even spices like curry or cayenne to create a flavored mayo.

Pin it on Pinterest!

September 17, 2012

Tropical Paradise Cupcakes

Pineapple pound cake cupcakes with pineapple glaze and coconut-pineapple cream cheese frosting.

Tropical enough? Grab a pina colada to tide you over until these cupcakes are done. I baked these for our annual retreat at work, where we planned to have a cupcake competition. I immediately dubbed the competition "Cupcake Wars" (because I obviously am glued to the show on the Food Network) and it was GAME ON.

I immediately knew I wanted to do a pineapple pound cake with cream cheese frosting.... because it's warm and beautiful out, and what's better than a vacation-inspired, zingy and invigorating cupcake flavor? Plus, the thought of a "work retreat" made me think of being far far away on a remote island. That inspired this cupcake-wars-like cupcake display that I made for my cupcakes to lounge in:

 My favorite Philly bakery, Brown Betty Dessert Boutique, makes an incredible pineapple pound cake cupcake that made me fall in love with this flavor years ago. I never before knew that a cupcake could be refreshing, tart, and sweet all at the same time.

There's also something magical about cream cheese frosting. It transforms this juicy, bright cupcake and takes it to a seriously decadent level...

What's that you say? Used up all of your vacation time this summer? No worries here on cupcake island. All you'll need now is a little toasted coconut; colored umbrella and swimsuit are optional.

Tropical Paradise Cupcakes: Makes 18 cupcakes

Pineapple Pound Cake
1.5 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 6-oz. container of vanilla lowfat yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or lowfat milk with 1+1/2+1/8 teaspoons white vinegar stirred in and left for 5 minutes)
1.5 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained, with the liquid pressed out very well through a strainer and reserved, Crushed pineapple processed for a few seconds in the food processor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut on a baking sheet and toast, stirring every few minutes, until golden-brown. Set aside. Put cupcake liners in cupcake tin.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy. Then add each egg, one at a time, mixing after each addition. 
Stir together the yogurt and buttermilk (or sour milk). In another bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Then add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and beat on low. Add 1/2 of the yogurt mixture and gently mix again. Add the flour, beat, then the yogurt, beat, and end with the flour mixture, stirring in each stage until just combined. Do not overmix!
Now fold in 1 cup of the toasted coconut and the crushed pineapple (1/2 cup extra will be used to decorate cupcakes). Fill each cupcake tin about 2/3 of the way full, then bang the cupcake tin flat against the counter a few times to release air bubbles and smooth top. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove each cupcake to cool completely on a wire rack. Meanwhile, prepare frosting and glaze as directed below:
Coconut-Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, room temp
8oz. cream cheese, room temp
4 cups powdered sugar
2 T. lemon zest
2 t. pineapple juice (from reserve, above)
2 t. coconut milk (or 1 t. coconut extract)

With electric mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until completely incorporated. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beat on high until smooth and incorporated. Add lemon zest, pineapple juice, coconut, and beat again until fully mixed. Refrigerate 20 minutes to stiffen slightly before using to decorate.

Pineapple Glaze:
1 T cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Reserved pineapple juice from 20 oz. can, above
2 t. butter

Add cornstarch and granulated sugar to a small saucepan and stir. Place over high heat and all pineapple juice, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a low boil and cook five minutes or until thick and reduced, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat, add the butter, and stir until butter melts. Keep at room temperature or refrigerated. 

Cupcake assembly: Use a toothpick to poke almost all the way through each cupcake from the top down a number of times. This will create tiny "channels" for your pineapple glaze. Pour 1 teaspoon pineapple glaze over each cupcake and spread across top. Allow it to seep in for a few minutes. Pipe frosting atop each cupcake, then garnish with toasted coconut. Top with a piece of candied pineapple. Keep extras refrigerated, remove 15 minutes before serving.

September 4, 2012

Blueberry-Graham Greek Frozen Yogurt

What is that contraption dispensing delightful frozen treats into my dessert bowl? It's called Yonanas, and it was my carefully premeditated impulse buy of the weekend. This isn't a product review, but briefly: the Yonanas machine has a super-fast set of rotating blades inside that cranks creamy frozen yogurt like dessert from frozen bananas and other fruits. It's ice cream -- sans milk, fat, and added sugar. Sign me up.

I found out about it when I walked my dog past someone else's overflowing recycling bin two weeks ago and noticed the box popping out. It doesn't take much more than a picture of a dessert machine to stop me in my tracks. And I am sorry, unknown neighbor person, that I might have casually rummaged through your bin while looking over my shoulder to make sure nobody was around. I just needed a second look at the Yonanas box. And also I have no shame.

Part of me wishes I had never seen it, because then a) I'd be $50 richer, and b) I wouldn't have just eaten large bowls of (healthy, fruit-disguised-as) dessert two nights in a row. But I'm 99% glad I did see, it because this thing is awesome!

Problem: Matt hates bananas. Issue: This machine was born literally to process frozen bananas. After extensive research, I was glad to read that it happily accepts other fruits along with the bananas, and even other fruits on their own if you want something a bit more sorbet-like in texture. But I needed to know that I could accomplish that creamy, fro-yo texture and taste without bananas (Let's be honest, while I love feeding M, this was really about being able to justify to him that we actually needed this machine so I could keep it). 

As I swiped my credit card at Kitchen Kapers, the entire store's staff (okay it was just three people) were taking bets on whether Matt would end up falling in love with the machine even though he hates bananas.

I probably owe those people a follow up phone call. Because tonight we made some very truly delicious true frozen yogurt without the use of bananas. Knowing that I can use Yonanas to do this fast-tracked this machine from the "meh, maybe?" lane to the "frozen yogurt at the touch of a button!? let's keep it!" category.

I'm probably overly excited to keep trying different frozen yogurt, fruit, and ingredient combinations. Some I'm thinking of:
Apple pie: vanilla yogurt, dried apples, oats, and cinnamon
Peanut butter chocolate: frozen banana, peanut butter, cocoa powder
Peach cobbler: vanilla yogurt, frozen peaches, graham cracker

Allright, I'll stop, but I'll surely share with you more recipes as I make them! But move over Ben n' Jerry's Frozen Greek Yogurt -- we've got success with this homemade, totally healthy, pure ingredient Blueberry-Graham Frozen Greek Yogurt. That's dessert done right. 

*Note: I believe that you can use your food processor and/or blender to make this dessert, too. Some reviews online said that the Yonanas machine simply churns out a somewhat creamier and more cohesive product, but I am sure you'd have great results with what you've got.

Blueberry-Graham Greek Fro-Yo: serves two
1 6oz. cup blueberry greek yogurt (or other berry flavor)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 rectangle graham cracker, broken
a dash of cinnamon

Stir the Greek yogurt to combine the berry flavor. On a non-stick baking sheet, dollop small rounded spoonfuls of the yogurt, then place in freezer until firm (about two hours). Next, using a Yonanas machine or blender, add (alternating, in this order if using Yonanas) frozen yogurt dollops, blueberries, graham cracker, cinnamon, bluberries, graham cracker, and ending with more frozen yogurt. Enjoy while cold.

Feel free to check out this link if you're interested in buying Yonanas.

September 2, 2012

Baked Quinoa & Broccoli "Mac n' Cheese"

I love it when an entire dish evolves into being because of a single ingredient. I guess you could call it "ingredient inspiration," when you've got one star ingredient and so you create the meal to spotlight and elevate it.

That's how this dish came about for me. I'd like to say that it was because I wanted a really healthy meal, but that's a lie, so I'm not even going to go into all the crazy health benefits of this bowl of gooey goodness -- you already know quinoa is a perfect protein, cheese is high in calcium and protien, too, and broccoli is basically super food of the universe.

To be honest, it all started with my favorite cheese, a sale, and a checkout girl.

Now I know that a lot of people call Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck" because it can be quite pricey to shop there, but I wander its aisles often enough to have noticed that there are certain Whole Foods products that are priced daily at a cost that is more economical than regular grocery brands (and is likely much better quality). But that's in in-depth discussion/love story for another day.

One example, though, is this cheese that keeps going on sale.  This particular Tilamook Farms natural white cheddar cheese is staring me in the face when I walk in the door. And its once again $2.99/lb. When I see this my eyes do that cartoon thing where they bug out. (I think there is a sound cue that goes something like baroooga!) I run to the stack of beautiful, creamy blocks of tightly wrapped cheese and begin to cradle them, deciding which weight I'll be coming home with.

It's a happy love story where I devour the cheese daily in any form I can. Like right now, as I write this, I keep pausing because I'm slicing off giant hunks and eating it atop crisp slices of Pink Lady apple. AMAZING COMBO!

But, back to another amazing combo. This dish. So I'm checking out and the check out girl goes:
 "Isn't it awesome when this cheese is on sale? It's soooo good. I use it in Quinoa Mac n' Cheese and it's, like, the best. I mean, what's not healthy about Quinoa mac n' cheese?"

A credit card swipe later and I'm running home, cheese in arm like a football, and heading straight for the kitchen. NEED-QUINOA-MAC-N'-CHEESE-NOW.

And so do you.

Baked Quinoa & Broccoli "Mac n' Cheese": serves 4
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance butter
1/2 large Spanish onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (vegetable stock for vegetarians)
salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 lb. frozen broccoli florets (cut into smaller pieces)
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
1 cup shredded cheese, for topping

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and swirl to coat pan. Add the onions and saute until translucent and slightly golden. Add the garlic and stir, one minute, then add in the quinoa and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in the chicken stock, salt & pepper, and nutmeg, stirring well.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover tightly and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. During the last 2-3 minutes of simmering, add in the frozen broccoli. Turn the heat up to return to temperature, then allow the broccoli to warm through.

While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 400ºF and lightly grease an 8" or 9" square baking dish.

When the quinoa is done, let it sit off the heat for about 5 minutes and in the meantime, whisk together the milk, egg, and Parmesan cheese. Add 1 tablespoon of warm quinoa mixture to the egg mixture to temper it, then quickly stir the liquid into the pan of quinoa. Add the 2 cups of cheese and pour it all into the baking dish.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown on top.


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