Friday, October 26, 2012

Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes

Make these cupcakes. Even if you don't love cupcakes, make these. They are similar to a carrot cake or banana bread in texture and not overly sweet. I've had these bookmarked for about a month now and have been waiting to make them. I've been waiting mostly because having one dozen cupcakes around for two people is a huge waste. I made them for this weekend, in which friends will come over and hopefully eat them alongside carving pumpkins. 

I was drawn to this recipe because, as most people, once fall hits we desire warm, spiced baked goods to keep us warm. As New York Magazine published a few weeks ago pumpkin is the new bacon and I, for one, was over the pumpkin obsession as soon as it started this fall. So, when I saw this recipe it fit right in with a spiced, seasonal baked good but it offered something new and different. 

Having tried parsnips for the first time just last fall, they are a fairly new vegetable to me. Any different way in which I can use them is a welcome idea. The most tedious part of making these was grating the parsnip. Despite getting increasingly frustrated during the process (while simultaneously trying to fend off a monster kitten who was anxiously trying to eat any scrap of parsnip that fell to the floor) it was definitely worth it in the end. 

Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes, from Everyday Food Magazine (with slight changes, see notes below)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour 
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon for frosting
  • 2 cups grated parsnip
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  In separate bowl combine brown sugar through vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
  2. Divide batter among muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool completely.
  3. To make frosting beat cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, butter and confectioner's sugar until combine. 
  4. To store, refrigerate cupcakes in airtight container, up to two days.
notes:  I reduced the brown sugar to 1/2 cup, the butter to 1/4 of a stick- or 2 tablespoons, and made my own pumpkin pie spice with what I had on hand by combining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Just as I get excited to wear a favorite sweater or winter dress when the weather turns cool, I get excited to start eating all the veggies and fruits that aren't abundantly available during spring & summer.  Brussels sprouts undoubtedly have a bad reputation, but I feel that they are slowly shaking that off as the word gets out that they are delicious either roasted or sauteed (never boiled or steamed!).  The pairing of sauteed brussels sprouts with bacon is a good one.  It's a reappearing combination on this pizza that was made multiple times last winter.   It's a combination of crunchy and crisp and just salty enough.

This was one of those combinations that came out of the blue.  A sort of make it up as you go, as most salads tend to be.  I love shredded raw brussels sprouts salad  with parmesan and dressing in a wrap in the summer, and the combination was even more delicious heated through.  The addition of the roasted pear simply happened because 1.  I love pear in salads and 2.  The red pears looked so pretty when I saw them.

This salad is easy and can serve either four as a side or two as a main dish.  And, of course, can be made vegetarian by not using the bacon.  In addition, feel free to substitute any of your favorite fall fruits for the pear.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad
serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main dish

  • Olive oil
  • 6 pieces of bacon, chopped in to bite size pieces
  • 2 lbs brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 2 pears, halved
  • Herbs of your choice
  • Shaved parmesan cheese
  • Balsamic glaze or reduction (make your own!)
  1. Half your pears and drizzle some olive oil on top.  Sprinkle with herbs of your choice.  Bake about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan.  Add bacon and let cook until getting crispy.  Add in shredded brussels sprouts and continue to cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring. Salt to taste
  3. Serve one half of a pear over a bed of brussels sprouts and bacon mixture.  Top with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Simple Bean Salad

A couple weeks back I took photos of this gorgeous and delicious Simple Bean Salad.  Molly Shuster wrote up a great post about using dried beans and the maker behind these ones. Head over to Eat Boutique to see it!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Cookies

The idea for these cookies began while I was staring at a bag of hazelnuts that's been sitting in the pantry for about 6 months.  They were bought and used in a couple of recipes but we discovered maybe we don't like hazelnuts.  At least not as raw nuts by themself. Nutella is probably the one hazelnut based thing that I like, and probably so much so because it's paired with chocolate.  Anyway, these cookies were inspired by that bag of hazelnuts that had no use and a love of Nutella.  

The hazelnuts were toasted and ground into a meal that was used, along with whole wheat pastry flour, as the base of the cookie.  A few simple other ingredients and these cookies turned out perfect.  They remind me of the chocolate chip cookies my mom makes, which are perfect every time, but these have that little something different.  Next time you are thinking of chocolate chip cookies - give these ones a try. 

They bake up tiny, perfectly nutty, and loaded with dark chocolate.  I made them on a recent day off and they were the exact thing that a dreary and rainy week day needed-the smell of toasted nuts and butter wafting through the apartment. 

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Nestle Toll House recipe

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 egg & 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. To make hazelnut meal: toast one cup of hazelnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as you don't want them to burn.  Once they are toasted, remove, and place in a dish towel to remove skins.  It's okay if some of the skins are left on.  Once you have removed the skins place hazelnuts in a food processor and process until they have a flour/meal like consistency.  Be careful not to over process as it will start to turn into hazelnut butter. 
  2. Brown your butter.  Place butter in a pan over med-high heat, stirring occasionally until you begin to see small brown flecks and it gives off a nutty aroma; approximately 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  4. Once butter has cooled whisk together with sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  
  5. Once all your wet ingredients are mixed, add your dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Roll dough into one inch balls and bake at 350 for about 7 minutes.