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Archive for September, 2011

Its fall so I have a lot of pumpkin based recipes floating around in my head.  However, its fall and I’m super busy (thank you academia and your job market schedule!) Until then, I wanted to bake and I knew I had 3 ripe bananas mocking me every time I opened the freezer and a couple of half used bags of craisins from various meals.  Thus was born the banana craisin muffins: out of procrastination and what was in our house.

Banana Craisin Muffins
Makes 12, 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

1/3 cup Craisins (I used Ocean Spray brand)
2/3 cup Sugar substitute (I used Splenda sugar blend for baking)
1/3 cup Smart Balance buttery sticks
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt

Instructions

(1) In a large mixing bowl, cream butter/buttery sticks and sugar substitute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add very ripe, mashed bananas and mix well.

(2) Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add to creamed mixture. Fold in craisins.

(3) Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

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I made these cupcakes over a month ago.  As my last post pointed out, I’m terrible at being a blogger.

These cupcakes were made for B’s large family reunion that involved cousins and relatives from B’s Italian side.  We wanted to make a cupcake that represented this Italian heritage.  After tossing around a number of different ideas, we decided we wanted to try to make a cupcake that was reminiscent of a pizzelle cookie.  This is how we came up with the idea to have a cupcake that featured both anise extract and anise seeds.  During our test trials, we tried the cupcakes with a chocolate ganache (to be reminiscent of a pizzelle filled with chocolate), but that was unsuccessful.  The ganache flavor was just too strong and overpowered the anise to the point where you couldn’t really taste it.  This is why we decided to go with an anise flavored chocolate whipped cream icing.  This provided both the chocolate and anise flavors we were looking for without one overpowering the other.

Enjoy!

Pizzelle Cupcakes (Adapted from a recipe on the Food Network website and this recipe)
Made 31 cupcakes (supposed to make 24).

1 1/2 C unsalted butter, (3 sticks), at room temperature
2 C sugar
3 C cake flour, sifted
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 C milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp anise seeds
1 tsp anise extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

Icing

2/3 cup powdered sugar
5  tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp anise extract

For the cupcakes:

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line the muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Raise the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.)

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and anise seeds. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and anise extract, and also set aside.

Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at time, waiting for each one to be fully incorporated before adding the next.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Alternately, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, waiting for each to be fully incorporated before adding the next (scrape the bowl down occasionally). Raise the speed to medium and mix briefly until a smooth batter is formed. Transfer the batter to a large bowl.

Thoroughly clean the bowl of the mixer and put the egg whites inside. Whip the egg whites on high speed, using the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks are formed.

Working in 3 batches, using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter, until just incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the cups in the muffin pan. Bake, rotating the pan once, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool completely.

For the icing: Combine confectioners’ sugar and cocoa in small bowl. Add cream and anise extract; beat until stiff.  We were without a piping bag so we put the whipped cream icing into a plastic Ziploc bag and cut one of the corners.  I would recommend the piping bag; the final result comes out looking much nicer and cleaner.

Top cupcakes with a piece of pizzelle cookie.

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Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what I did for these recipes.  I have been very bad and keeping this updated (damn you dissertation!) so I had started a draft with the websites I built from and left it at that.  Unfortunately, this was a month ago. Since I can’t remember the changes I made I figured I would produce the source websites.  Here are the changes I think I made based on the source websites:

Red Beans and Rice (I built off of this website): I don’t believe I made any changes from this recipe

Collard Greens (I built off of this website): Key difference between what I made and this recipe were: (1) using Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon strips; (2)  I used a combination of vegetable broth and water to cook the collard greens to add some flavor; (3) I reduced the amount of butter

Oven-Fried Cajun Baked Catfish (I built off of this website): I believe the change that I made was to do 1/4 C panko and 1/4 cornmeal for the breading.

My September resolution is to do better as a mediocre blogger with no following.  But I have a feeling this won’t really occur until October (damn you dissertation and job applications!)

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