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Got leftover pumpkin? Make cupcakes!

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It seems like the only time of the year I make anything with canned pumpkin is Thanksgiving.

This year was exceptional, too, since, in addition to a pumpkin cheesecake, I made pumpkin soup with apples, carrots and onions.

And then I was stuck with half a can of pumpkin puree.

What now?

Turns out, you can whip up a pretty nice cupcake with just half a cup of the pureed squash.

So if you’ve got some canned pumpkin to spare, here’s a great recipe to use those leftovers — after Thanksgiving and, really, all year long:

Pumpkin Cupcakes
Adopted from The Neelys

Ingredients

Pumpkin cupcakes:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. canned pure pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Maple cream cheese frosting:
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese
2 T. butter, at room temperature
2 T. pure maple syrup
2 c. powdered sugar
Chopped toasted pecans, for topping, optional

Directions:

For the pumpkin cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 1 (12-cup) muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the butter and the sugar. Beat with a hand-held mixer until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time. Incorporate the dry mixture into the wet mixtures together until thoroughly combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake until the tops turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting .

For the cream cheese frosting: Add the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and salt to a large bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until thoroughly combined.

Top the cupcakes with the frosting and chopped pecans, if you want.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Comments { 5 }

Weekend Dish: Spanish rolls

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One of my favorite things to eat — I mean, I should really have stock in Nanding’s Bakery in Kalihi — are Spanish rolls.

Seriously, they are the perfect snack for anyone who loves — like me — bread, butter and sugar.

Spanish rolls are a popular yeast-raised bread — similar to pandesal — that originated in the Philippines. The dough is shaped into long, buttery logs — bastón — and rolled in a mixture of breadcrumbs and sugar.

I can — and have — eaten several in one sitting

I asked my mom — to me, the world’s greatest cook and baker — to try to make some for me. She loves making homemade bread, and I figured this would be a great project. We’d both benefit!

So she scoured the web, searching for a recipe for Spanish rolls, and found this one.

We tried it, it worked, and we’ve already made it twice!

Here’s the recipe:

Spanish rolls
Jane’s Kitchen

Dough ingredients:

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 pack active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm water
1 fresh egg, lightly beaten
4 T. butter, melted
4 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the filling:

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup bread crumbs and 2 T. sugar (for dredging)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl or cup of warm water, add the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir, then set aside in a warm place for at least 5 minutes until foamy.

In a mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients — flour, sugar and salt. To that add the warm milk, butter, egg and yeast mixture. Mix until it can be formed into a dough.

Place the dough on a on a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes or until it becomes a smooth, elastic ball.

Put the dough on a grease bowl. Turn the dough once to cover all sides with grease. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for at least 1 hour until it doubled in size.

While waiting for the dough to rise, you can start preparing the filling. In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy. On another bowl, mix the bread crumbs and sugar. Set both bowls aside.

After an hour, knead the dough for at least 2 minutes then divide into four 16 equal parts. Flatten the doughs into a rectangular shape about 3×5 inches in size. Brush the dough with the prepared filling leaving about a half an inch from the edge without. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Roll the dough from corner to corner. Dredge the rolls into a bowl containing the breadcrumbs and sugar mixture. Place them (seam side down) on a greased or non-stick baking tray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside for another 30 minutes.

Bake the rolls in the oven for least 20 minutes.

Comments { 14 }

Weekend Dish: Elote y Calabacitas

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One of my besties is a vegetarian, and I always felt bad when we went to dinner parties that the only thing she could eat at the buffet was a iceberg lettuce salad.

So I got in the habit of learning how to make hearty vegetarian dishes for potlucks. I mean, it’s not like we carnivores can’t partake in veggies, too. But at least my girlfriend — and other vegetarians — would have something more substantial to eat than baby carrots.

This was one of my go-to recipes, a quick and simple Mexican side dish with corn, tomatoes and zucchini.

And yes, it calls for bacon — not vegetarian! — but I’d always put that on the side.

Here’s the recipe:

Starts with bacon

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Fry bacon in a skillet and set aside. This is going to be the garnish on the dish. To make it vegetarian, fry this separately. But if not, keep the bacon fat; you'll cook the rest of the dish in it.

Elote y Calabacitas (Corn and Zucchini)
From “Mexican Cooking Made Easy” by Diane Soliz-Martese

Ingredients:

2 strips of bacon (or more, if you want)
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 cups zucchini, cut to 1/4-inch slices
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cumin
Ground pepper
2 c. canned whole kernel corn, drained

Directions:

Fry bacon in a skillet, then remove and crumble for later. Add onions to skillet and saute over medium heat until soft. Add tomatoes, zucchini, salt, sugar, cumin and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender. Add corn. Mix and cook until hot. Place in serving dish, sprinkle on crumbled bacon.

Comments { 5 }

Weekend Dish: Baked crescent roll taco ring

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I’ve been looking around for new potluck dishes — mostly because I’m bored of the ones I already make.

And I stumbled on this one the other night on Facebook.

Its primary ingredient got to me: Pillsbury crescent roll dough.

I was in.

I have a secret crush on the refrigerator dough. I can literally eat all of the buttery rolls one 6-ounce can make — and I have.

So when this called for one of my secret vices, I had to explore it a bit further.

Turns out, this is a great potluck dish, especially if there are kids invited. It’s got taco meat and cheddar cheese baked inside and all of your favorite taco toppings right in the middle.

It’s a simple dish to make, but a challenge dish to eat. (Lots of components.) But it’s crave-worthy good.

Here’s how you make it:

Ingredients

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This is a simple recipe that calls for just a handful of ingredients. But these aren't cheap ingredients. If I had to buy everything — I had some of these things in my kitchen already — it would cost about $20.

Baked Crescent Roll Taco Ring
Adapted from a couple of recipes

Ingredients:

2 8-ounce cans of refrigerated Pillsbury crescent rolls
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 package taco seasoning — or make your own, like I did!
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives
Sour cream, guacamole, salsa

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, cook beef/turkey with taco seasoning. Or, you can do what I did and make the taco meat from scratch, using chopping onions, garlic, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt and freshly ground pepper. I also used a bit of the chili mix from Rainbow Drive-In. (Winner!) Drain.

Unroll crescent rolls. Place wide end of triangles in center of pizza pan, forming a ring, overlapping dough as necessary. Spoon meat into center of each triangle, then add cheese. Bring smaller ends of triangles over meat and cheese mixture, tucking ends under.

Bake 20 minutes, or until rolls are golden. Serve warm.

Comments { 18 }

Weekend Dish: Funfetti Cookies

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My sister, Crystal, has been talking about these Funfetti cookies her friend makes.

The recipe calls for the candy-freckled Pillsbury cake mix and frosting, adding just an egg and oil.

So I bought the cake mix and a tub of frosting, planning to make them for her birthday dinner tonight. (Here’s that recipe.)

Except when I looked online for the recipe and found ones made from scratch instead.

One that I particularly liked was by Julia Mestas (@JuliaMestas), a food blogger from Costa Mesa, Calif. She writes a great blog called “Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body,” and last year she posted a recipe for Funfetti cookies that she made for her soccer team.

They were a huge hit — and they looked so easy to make.

Plus, it helped that I had all of the ingredients on hand.

So I decided to ditch the cake mix and bake these fun versions instead.

Here’s how it all went down:

Funfetti Cookies

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Pillsbury has a recipe for Funfetti cookies using its cake mix and frosting. I opted to make one from scratch.

Funfetti Cookies
Slightly adapted from the recipe from food blogger Julia Mestas (@JuliaMestas)

Ingredients:

2 sticks (or 1/2 pound) softened butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
(1 tsp almond extract, optional)
1 egg
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup rainbow jimmie sprinkles (the long thin sprinkles)
2 tbsp rainbow perils (tiny balls sprinkles)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg (and almond extract, if you want). Beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cornstarch, soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and continue on mix until it’s all added and combined. Don’t overmix the batter. Mix in the sprinkles (don’t overmix or the sprinkles will start to bleed into the dough).

Using an ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop cookie dough onto cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart (fits 8 cookies per sheet). You don’t have to flatten the ball. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges start to turn a light golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container up to four days.

Comments { 5 }