Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes. Dante On The Stereo.

Chocolate Turtle Cupcake

Whoa!

Warning: Over the top cupcake alert.

These Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes have so much going on. They start with a rich, but tender chocolate cake that is filled with a creamy caramel. The caramel oozes into the cake and makes it meltingly moist. As if that was not enough, the cupcakes get topped with a silky smooth rum-scented salted caramel buttercream icing, a drizzle of chocolate and caramel and a sprinkle of crunchy praline pecans.

All I can say is WOW!

Just a few notes:

1. The original recipe said it yielded 24 cupcakes. I got closer to 30, which meant that I did not have enough icing to frost all of the cupcakes.

2. The recipe for Brown Sugar Pecans makes waaay more than you need for the recipe. They are so delicious though, that you should make the whole recipe and use the remainder on top of ice cream or as a snack.

3. Store bought caramel would work fine as a substitute for the homemade.

Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe follows)
Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Caramel Buttercream (recipe follows)
Brown Sugar Pecans (recipe follows)
Chocolate Syrup

Directions:

1. Cut a small hole in top of cupcake and fill with caramel sauce.

2. Trim hole cut out into a flat disc and place on top of caramel.

3. Use a closed star tip to pipe buttercream on top of cupcake.

4. Drizzle a little chocolate sauce and caramel sauce over the icing, then sprinkle with chopped brown sugar pecans.

Makes about 30 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350℉.

2. Line 30 muffin cups with cupcake papers. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. (My batter looked curdled after the first addition of buttermilk, but smoothed out eventually.)

6. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Makes about 30 cupcakes

Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup whipping cream

Directions:

1. Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan.

2. Increase heat to high. Swirl pan to keep the mixture moving as the sugar melts. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after about a minute.

3. After approximately 2 minutes the mixture will turn a light shade of amber. Watch very closely and remove when it is dark amber, another 30 seconds or so.

4. Immediately remove from the heat and add the cream. Whisk to combine. Caramel may bubble up and seize. Just return to low heat and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Caramel Buttercream

Ingredients:

½ cup + 2 Tbs granulated sugar, divided
2 Tbs water
½ tsp salt
¼ cup whipping cream
¼ cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Tbs dark rum

Directions:

1. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and water in a heavy saucepan.

2. Increase heat to high. Swirl pan to keep the mixture moving as the sugar melts. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after about a minute.

3. After approximately 2 minutes the mixture will turn a light shade of amber. Watch very closely and remove when it is dark amber, another 30 seconds or so.

4. Immediately remove from the heat and add the cream and milk. Whisk to combine. Caramel may bubble up and seize. Just return to low heat and stir until smooth.

5. Whisk together the egg yolks, two remaining tablespoons of sugar, and salt.

6. Slowly add hot caramel to egg yolk mixture.

7. Pour combined mixture back into saucepan over medium low heat, and stir continuously until mixture coats the back of the spoon.

8. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a stand-mixer bowl. Beat the mixture with the wire whip at medium speed until it is light and cool (about 3 to 5 minutes). It is very important for the mixture to be completely cool before adding the butter.

9. Replace wire whip with the paddle attachment. Gradually beat in softened butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. When all of the butter has been incorporated, beat the buttercream on high until mixture is light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute.

10. Reduce the speed and beat in the vanilla and rum. Increase the speed once again and beat the buttercream for another minute, until light and creamy.

Brown Sugar Pecans

Ingredients:

1 cup pecans
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325℉. Line baking sheet with non-stick foil.

2. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir until brown sugar dissolves.

3. Toss pecans in mixture and spread over prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake pecans for 25 minutes, stirring half way through.

Recipes from Bakers Royale
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

‘My Friend On The Couch’.

Man, I just love song titles like that. It just begs to be listened to so you can find out the what and why.

‘MFOTC’ is from the debut album by Edinburgh-based band Dante, produced and recorded by Frightened Rabbit’s Andy Monaghan. It is one of 10 lovely, celticky tunes full of plunky guitar, friendly fiddle, solid drumming and thoughtful lyrics.

Check out Dante on the band’s Website, where you can link to buy their music.

Cheers!

Posted in Cupcakes | Tagged | 2 Comments

Cheese-Stuffed Burgers. Color Collage On The Stereo.

Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

“I was walking down the street the other day, and someone threw cheese in my face!

I thought, ‘Very mature’.”

I’ve made Cheese-Stuffed Burgers before like these here and the Mushroom-Bacon Stuffed Cheeseburgers here. Today’s recipe is by far the easiest with minimal ingredients, but maximum flavor. They are definitely my favorite of the bunch. I liked the big ooze from the stacked sliced cheese, but blue cheese crumbles also make a fabulous stuffing (I didn’t take a photo of those).

Cheese-Stuffed Burgers
Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds (680g) lean ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cheddar or American cheese slices, each slice quartered and the quarters stacked or 32g blue cheese crumbles
4 hamburger buns

Directions:

1. Combine beef with salt and pepper. Divide into 8 equal portions.

2. Shape each beef portion into a thin patty.

3. Top half of the patties with a stack of cheese. Top with the second patty. Seal the edges well.

4. Place burgers on a preheated grill and cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium.

Serves 4

Recipe from Vermont Castings Modern Grilling Cookbook
Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

This advice loaded tune is pretty depressing. The catchy doo-wopness is deceptively cheerful until you dig into the lyrics.

The last lines of the song really gripped me since I’d like to think that someday I’ll get to say hello to my long gone mother.

“Don’t be frightened when it’s time to meet your maker
Cuz the ones who wrote the books, they could be fakers
None of us will know, til he’s knocking on the door
So greet him with a smile, and say hi to my mom.”

Check out Color Collage on Facebook and Bandcamp, where you can name your price to get their music.

Cheers!

Posted in Beef | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pork Chops With Cider, Horseradish, And Dill. New Music From Holy Holy.

Pork Chops With Cider, Horseradish, And Dill

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Ah, selfies. What a crazy age we live in. Entertaining though.

This may be one of the best recipes for pork chops I have ever had. I shouldn’t be surprised since every single thing I make from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has been amazing.

These Pork Chops With Cider, Horseradish, And Dill are the perfect meal for an autumn night. In less than 30 minutes you have tender chops fragrant with apple in a tangy glaze. I would never have thought that dill would taste so fabulous with the pork. It’s the perfect accent to this sweet and savory dish.

Pork Chops With Cider, Horseradish, And Dill
Pork Chops With Cider, Horseradish, And Dill

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (120 ml) cider vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) hard or pressed apple cider
2 tablespoons (30 grams) freshly grated horseradish
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 bone-in loin pork chops, 1/2 inch thick (1 1/2 pounds/680 grams total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Directions:

1. Whisk the vinegar, cider, horseradish, salt and cayenne together in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel and generously season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add the pork chops to the skillet and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the chops, cook 1 minute longer, then transfer to a plate. Pour off any fat in skillet.

4. Pour vinegar mixture into the emptied skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 to 4 minutes.

5. Return the chops and any accumulated juices from their plate to skillet; turn to coat both sides with glaze. Continue to cook over medium heat in the glaze until the center of the pork chops registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

6. Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter and pour the glaze from the pan over them. Sprinkle with dill and serve.

Serves 4

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Pork Chops With Cider, Horseradish, And Dill

I’m loving this new song from Australian band Holy Holy. Super catchy.

Check out Holy Holy on Facebook and the band’s Website, where you can learn of upcoming shows in Australia and buy their music.

Cheers!

Posted in Main Courses, Pork | Tagged | 1 Comment

Short And Sweet. Pimm’s Eton Mess.

 Pimm's Eton Mess

If you need a laugh go here and read about how this cat poster came to be.
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Mmmmm….Eton Mess. With Pimm’s….super yum. This classic British pud of conflicting origin is one of our household favorites.

Crisp meringue, lightly whipped cream and strawberries muddled with some sugar, vanilla and a splash of Pimm’s. It’s fast, light and the perfect way to end any meal.

 Pimm's Eton Mess
Pimm’s Eton Mess

Ingredients:

1 pound/400g strawberries
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Splash of Pimm’s liqueur
1 cup low-fat yogurt or freshly whipped cream
4 ounces meringue cookies or nests (These store bought ones are really good)
A few sprigs of fresh mint

Directions:

1. Slice the strawberries, place in a bowl then toss with the sugar.

2. Add vanilla then mix everything together with a fork. Add a splash of Pimm’s and mix again.

3. Spoon 2 tablespoons of yogurt or whipped cream onto each serving plate. Add some strawberry mixture then crumble over half the meringues. Mix again then crumble over the remaining meringues. Garnish with mint.

Serves 4

Recipe slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Meals In Minutes
 Pimm's Eton Mess

Time for a short song. I’m not sure where the title comes from because the lyrics have nothing to do with cats or cages. Pretty melancholy.

“I love like a child, laugh when I can
And fight like an ignorant man
And I smoke, I smoke for the rush
To keep my head above all the things that she does

In the end, I guess she’ll figure out
Until then I’m sleeping in “

And a wicked sweet song. Love this.

Check out Del Water Gap on the band’s Website, where you can learn of upcoming shows in Brooklyn and buy their music.

Cheers!

Posted in Dessert, Short And Sweet | Tagged | Leave a comment

Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas. Beautiful New Music From Skinny Dipper.

Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas

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Chimichangas, those crispy, delectable deep-fried burritos made popular in the American southwest, get lightened up (well, a little bit!) in this oven-fried version. Chicken is mixed with a spiced salsa, cheese and onions before being rolled up in flour tortillas and baked until golden. Super easy, super delicious and super fast, this is one of the best recipes I have made recently.

Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas
Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas

Ingredients:

2⁄3 cup picante sauce or salsa
1 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
1 1⁄2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 green onions, chopped
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
2 Tbs butter, melted
Guacamole
Additional shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onion and salsa for serving

Directions:

1. In a large bowl mix together the chicken, picante sauce, cumin, oregano, cheese and onions.

2. Place about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Fold opposite sides over filling.
Roll up from bottom and place seam-side down on a baking sheet.

3. Brush rolled tortillas with butter.

4. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes or until golden.

5. Top each chimichanga with guacamole and toppings of your choice.

Serves 6

Recipe from KitchMe
Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas

Oven-Fried Chicken Chimichangas

I would typically serve up Tex-Mex with something loud and margarita-ready. However, I heard this song for the first time today and fell instantly in love with it.

I’m going to Scotland next month, so started searching around for bands and new music in the hope that I could see a live show while there.

I happened upon this gorgeous song from Glasgow-based Skinny Dipper. Such beautifully soft vocals singing such lovely lyrics. The song title is actually “Hospital Bed” from the forthcoming EP ‘Masks’.

Check out Skinny Dipper on Facebook and the band’s Website, where you can learn of shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh. You can pre-order the new EP on Bandcamp.

Cheers!

Posted in Chicken, Main Courses | Tagged | 1 Comment

Watercress, Pickled Onion And Pear Salad. New Music From Dirtwire.

Watercress, Pickled Onion And Pear Salad

Let’s do a happy dance for FRIDAY!

This is a very simple salad that packs a bunch of flavor. The peppery watercress is balanced by the sweet pear, the pickled onions add a vinegary bite and a squeeze of lemon juice brightens all.
Watercress, Pickled Onion And Pear Salad
Watercress, Pickled Onion And Pear Salad

Ingredients:

5 ounces watercress
4 large pickled onions, sliced
1 pear, sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Half a lemon
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, toss together the watercress, pickled onions and pear. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze the lemon over the salad and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

Recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Meals In Minutes

Watercress, Pickled Onion And Pear Salad

I was a bit apprehensive about having a listen to “The Well”. Blame it on the creepy turtle on the cover of the forthcoming EP ‘The Carrier’ by Dirtwire. Turtle with big, gloomy industrial thing going on in place of a shell.

Nothing creepy about this song whatsoever. Just a stripped down, folksy tune that aims to raise awareness about the need for water conservation.

Check out Dirtwire on the band’s Website, where you can learn of upcoming shows and buy their music. New EP is due out on September 9th.

Cheers!

Posted in Salad | Tagged | Leave a comment

Symphony Chocolate Chip Cookies. New Music From Pree.

Symphony Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Symphony bars, those toffee almond chocolates from Hershey, are a great way to change up the flavor of chocolate chip cookies. I made a version with oats in the dough a long time ago (here). Today’s version uses a typical chocolate chip cookie dough with a hint more vanilla and a splash of milk for added richness. The cookies are packed with the chopped candy bars, chocolate chips and nuts. Yum.
Symphony Chocolate Chip Cookies
Symphony Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup plus 2 Tbs butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 oz chopped Hershey’s Almond and Toffee Symphony bar
6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

3. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Mix 2 minutes longer.

4. Add flour mixture and mix to combine. Stir in chopped chocolate, chocolate chips and walnuts.

5. Drop dough onto prepared sheets by rounded tablespoons, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes until tops begin to color.

Makes about 30 cookies
Symphony Chocolate Chip Cookies

Check out Pree on Facebook and the band’s Website where you can learn of upcoming east coast US tour dates and buy their music.

Cheers!

Posted in Cookies | Tagged | 2 Comments