Daily Cravings: Southwestern Potato Nachos

23 Jan

Photo Credit: The Sweets Life

One of my all time favorite meals is the “Kitchen Sink Nachos” from Jim ‘N Nicks. Unfortunately, we don’t have one in our new hometown.

When I spotted these potato nachos I knew they’d be a good possible replacement, and how wonderful will these be to serve at a Super Bowl party? I can’t wait to make these!

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Sifting Through Cupcake Wars

23 Jan

The fabulous Food Network show Cupcake Wars has started again and is as wonderful as last season if not better.

Just the other week, the episode culminated in what is officially my favorite final cupcake arrangement. Winners, Sift Cupcake & Dessert Bar created a rustic display perfect for a fall wedding or one set in wine country (where their business resides). I stumbled upon a quick interview of theirs with Cupcakes Take the Cake giving some insight to one of my favorite shows and desserts. I’m hoping they won’t mind me reposting their interview here, it’s too good to pass up!

Photo Credit: Sift Cupcake & Dessert

How did you decide to appear on Cupcake Wars? Did you create a video application?

We created three audition videos! We never heard back, so we would just make a new one and keep calling the producers to see if they watched it. By the end, I’m sure they only said yes to make us stop calling. ūüėČ

What was the filming/taping like?

It was incredibly intense. The crew on the set was amazing…I don’t know how they are even standing at the end of the show…we were only still standing because we won $10,000!! Everyone worked so hard, it was a very looooong process. I remember begging the producer to let me change my shoes…my feet were killing me! Corey was a natural, she helped keep us grounded and calm (or so it seemed).

What was it like behind-the-scenes?

It’s so sureal actually being on the set that you’ve only watched on TV. It’s also a little intimidating being in someone else’s kitchen and having four or five cameras running after your every move. Many times we were like, “Woah! Watch out for the cameraman!” as we’re running with a hot pan.

How different were your experiences than what we saw on TV?

It’s really amazing how long you film for versus how LITTLE of it actually makes it in the 30-minute show. We tried giving Justin some of the wine we were using…that didn’t make the cut. Ha!

Were you given guidance by the Food Network? Were there things you wanted to do but were unable to?

Take my shoes off, sit down, and enjoy a glass of wine. They didn’t allow that…

How did you choose your winning cupcakes?

We decided on our Samoa and Pink Champagne, which is one of our best sellers (and perfect for weddings!). Then we decided to bring in a little wine country with our Zinger (Zinfandel Ginger). We could have used our Ooh La La (top-selling red velvet), but we just felt that flavor was a little played out.

What was the competition like?

Competition was tough.¬†Lucy & Leo’s gave us a run for our money. And at the end we really had no idea which way the judges would go. We had two completely different wedding looks and themes. We called them on the air date to congratulate them on a great show. They were good competition!

How has winning affected your business, if at all?

Wow. We imagined business would increase…we just had no idea by how much. Let’s just say that we took in extra money in sales that week…and paid for it in overtime! Ha!

In all seriousness, our Sift family has worked so hard, they are simply amazing and we couldn’t be more grateful. They must love what they do because they keep sticking around.

What are you planning on doing with your winnings?

We are launching a Wine Country Cupcake Truck! We’ll roam the valley and vineyards and pass cupcakes to the wine-weary…or wine-happy. Follow us on Twitter¬†@Sifted.

Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?

We just received our first Food Network order for¬†Guy Fieri’s birthday cupcakes! We’re doing sushi, burgers, bbq, pizza, and Jack Daniels-themed cupcakes. We’ll send pics when they’re done

Be sure to check out Cupcakes Take the Cake for other little cupcake gems like this!

Daily Cravings: Blueberry Pancakes

20 Jan

Photo Credit: My Kitchen Moovement

Don’t these pancakes just look delicious? Of course they do!

Unfortunately, I got a call today from the doctor saying I failed my Glucose Screening from Monday. This means tomorrow at 7 a.m. I’m headed to the hospital to do a three hour test full of blood-work and boredom. If I don’t pass, all of these sweet treats will just be dreams for the next ten weeks. Let’s hope for the best.

Semi-Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Pie

16 Jan

What more does a pregnant woman want than ice cream? Not much, that’s what.

So, for Christmas I asked for the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment. Well, it finally came in this week! Even though it looks like this outside….

I’ve been planning ice cream recipes.

For my first go-around I decided on mint chocolate chip. After looking around, I found a basic recipe, nothing fancy but with good reviews and a yummy looking photo. (Yes, I do judge some recipes according to their photos as well.) Here a little tip if you’re a newbie with your ice cream maker as well: chill the ice cream mixture before putting it into the mixer.

This was yummy, but made more than I expected. It was just over two quarts worth. So with the extra batch I decided to make a pie! Nothing complicated just a quick throw together. Here’s what you need:

Recipe

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

  • 4 cups 2 percent milk
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 8 drops green food coloring
  • 2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla and peppermint until the sugar has dissolved. Let mixture chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the directions from your manufacturer. After the first 10 minutes, open the lid carefully and add the chocolate chips, then return to churning. Once the machine has stopped churning, remove the thickened ice cream and put into a freezer safe container. Freeze until hard (about 2 hours), then serve.

For the pie:

  • Chocolate pie crust
  • Oreos (crushed)
  • Chocolate sauce

Chill the pie crust before filling it with a proportional amount of your ice cream. Cover with crushed Oreos (about eight cookies was plenty). Then top with the chocolate sauce and place in the freezer.

Fauxstess Cupcakes: The Best EVER

12 Jan

I’ve been looking around for inventive cupcake ideas when I came across this miraculous recipe.¬†Faux Hostess Cupcakes.

All I have to say after making these is, Thank you, Google. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

First of all, the chocolate cupcakes for this recipe will now officially be my “go-to” chocolate cupcake. It’s light and moist and not overly chocolatey. Moving on to the cream filling. Oh the cream filling. Also another recipe I’ll be reusing. It could easily be used as frosting for a S’mores cupcake, which is an exciting prospect. Sweet and creamy, what more do you need? Lastly, chocolate ganache needs no explanation. I mean it’s chocolate.

All of these components combined made for a cupcake that was heaven-sent. The entire batch has been gobbled up over the past few days, and that was with us even trying to pace ourselves!

One little warning in assembling these little cakes: do not pipe in the filling from the top. The blogs I read said “don’t worry the ganache will cover the filling.” Well, it didn’t. I’d recommend either piping it in from the bottom or cutting out a little crater in your cupcake and recovering. Also, I realize my piping swirls aren’t perfect. I’ve never really done much detail piping. For a first time, it’s acceptable though.

Take my word, you MUST try these cupcakes. It will change your world.

Recipe adapted from Bake at 350 and Family Kitchen:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl sift together sugar, Dutch process cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla and then add into the dry ingredients. Whisk in the hot coffee.

Fill lined muffin cups 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla exrtact
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme

Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream; beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in batches, alternating after each addition. Beat in the marshmallow creme; set aside or refrigerate.

Inject each cooled cupcake with 1-2 tablespoons of the filling with a piping bag.

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 7 ounces chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat stirring frequently until the cream is hot and just starts to boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Spread warm but slightly cooled ganache over the tops of the filled cupcakes. Level off ganche with knife or spatula and let cool for 15 minutes.

Daily Cravings: Macaroni and Cheese

11 Jan

Photo Credit: Southern Plate

I’ve always loved mac-n-cheese. Always. I mean honestly, who doesn’t? You’re just not American if you don’t, or at least not Southern. However, my love for macaroni and cheese has quadrupled since I’ve been pregnant. In fact, during the first few months when morning sickness ruled my life it was all I could eat.

Easy-Mac, homemade mac, whichever way you choose to make this cheesy goodness, you really can’t do it wrong.

Photo Credit: Hog and Hominy

First Love: Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

10 Jan

Remember when you were just a kid and your favorite dessert was the basic yellow cake and chocolate icing? Always so moist and perfectly sweet, great for every birthday.

Well that’s what we’ve got here.

My first batch was dry and honestly overcooked by a couple of minutes. I thought I’d try something new and substitute sour cream for the milk just to see if this really made for a moister cake. Sure enough it did!

I loved the flavor of this cake. While still being a more dense little cuppie, it kept a beautiful texture and taste. I must warn you though this frosting may be a little rich for all the kids. For me though, a big chocolate lover, it was heavenly.

 

Recipe

(Printable Version)

Classic Yellow Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups AP Flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 STICK) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

Directions

Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter on high until soft. Add sugar and continue beating on medium-high until light and fluffy (3 minutes). Then add eggs one at a time as usual, beating slightly in between. Make sure this mixture is well mixed and fluffy before adding the dry ingredients.

Measure sour cream and vanilla. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by 1/2 of the sour cream and so on and so on ending with flour.

Scoop batter into cupcake paper-lined muffin tins filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Rich Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 T butter room temp
  • 3 oz baker’s chocolate melted
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 tsp whipping cream

Melt chocolate and set aside.

Beat butter then add melted chocolate and vanilla to mixing bowl. Mix ingredients together completely, scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all ingredients.

Slowly add the powdered sugar, milk and whipping cream to chocolate mixture alternating between dry and wet ingredients. Continue to beat until the frosting has reached a light and fluffy consistency.

Daily Cravings: Ham and Cheese Sliders

6 Jan

Photo Credit: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Have you ever had these little sammies at a wedding show or some sort of reception? If not, you’re missing out!

These sandwiches are smothered in a butter-mustard-poppyseed mixture which makes a simple ham and swiss slider out of this world.

Daily Cravings:Chocolate Chunk Nutella Cheesecake

4 Jan

Photo Credit: La Fuji Mama

I’ve had this little gem stashed in my bookmarks page for many many months. Three of my favorite things: nutella, chocolate and cheesecake. Thank you Fuji Mama!

YUM! I’ve got to make these.

Christmas Dessert Almost Didn’t Happen

3 Jan

I decided to bake a cake to bring to my Grandmother’s for Christmas. It really wasn’t needed, there would be other goodies there, but I took the opportunity to bake a little something anyway. Rather than re-tackling the Vermont Spice Cake as my hubby requested I thought I’d test out my unused bundt pan. It was a wedding gift that has sat unloved for over two years, and Tina from My Life as a Mrs. had a recipe I just couldn’t resist.

Chocolate Chip Cake. Did I mention it has chocolate ganache drenched over the top? Tell me you could say no this because I know you can’t.

Because I love you readers, I cannot lie to you, I had a few issues with this cake. Don’t get me wrong the flavor here was AMAZING! Very moist while still being sweet and the ganache (I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips) was perfection.

However, the instructions said to let the cake cool completely before flipping it to the plate. Here’s where I hit a snafu. I began this cake a little too late and just had to go to sleep before it could cool completely. I covered the cake and left it to do in the morning. Upon going to flip the cake to the platter the next morning it didn’t budge, not one centimeter.

I thought this was the end of my Chocolate Chip Cake attempt. Then, with a little help from my mom I got it out, but some of the top stuck to the pan. No worries, I pieced it back together and figured my ganache would cover the trouble spots (which it did).

My other issue with this cake is that the wonderful little chocolate chip all sunk to the bottom (er well top) of the cake. After eating a few too many pieces of this cake, I’ve decided next time I’ll only sprinkle the chocolate chip on the top of the batter once in the pan. The ganache on top was plenty sweet for the rest of the cake. I’ll either try ¬†that, or whip my badder a little more to see if I can’t get a thicker consistency to hold the chips in place.

Like I said, even with these minuscule mess-ups this cake was a big hit and one I’ll definitely be making again.

Recipe

(Printable Version)

Ingredients

For the Cake:
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix (She used Duncan Heinz, as did I)
1 Large Box of Instant Vanilla Pudding
4 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Oil
2 tsps Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

For the Ganache:
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions

For the cake:

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together the first 6 ingredients in a stand mixer until combined. Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula. Spray a Bundt Pan with non-stick cooking spray (don’t be afraid to be generous with the spray). Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for one hour.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Do not leave it overnight as I did. Once cool, invert to cake pan.

For the Ganache:

Once the cake is cool prepare the ganache.

Melt all ingredients over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Stir constantly until smooth then let set for 10-12 minutes. Slowly drizzle over the cake when ready, if you do it too early it will all slide off of the cake. (As you can see I could have let mine set a minute or two longer).

Once on the cake allow it to cool further then cut yourself a slice and enjoy!