May 18, 2009

Fried Rice with Asparagus and Chicken

I found some leftover brown rice in my fridge and decided to put together a spring inspired fried rice for dinner last night. I diced asparagus to use in place of peas, which are not yet in season, and Jesse grilled up chicken breast because we try to use the grill as much as possible in warm weather. Jesse actually hates Chinese food, so he was a little worried at first, but in the end he declared it was leagues better than takeout fried rice.

Fried Rice with Asparagus and Chicken
1-2 cups leftover brown rice
1 large onion
1/2 lb asparagus
1/2 lb grilled breast
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat wok or pan to medium high and coat with olive oil. Chop onion into large pieces and sautee until translucent and browned. Rinse and dice asparagus and add to the pan. Sautee approximately 5 minutes, until asparagus is slightly softened. Add rice and continue to cook over medium high heat for another 5 minutes to flavor the rice. Meanwhile, shred grilled chicken into small pieces and add to pan. Finally, add soy suace, vinegar, tumeric, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat.

May 15, 2009

Cupcake Contest Take 2

Last Monday was the third annual cupcake contest hosted by Brooklyn Kitchen. This year's event featured almost 60 cupcakes, bakers, and testers, packed into Union Pool's backyard.

sister's "Fire Antz" aka spicy chocolate cupcakes

It was impossible to try them all - I think I probably tasted about 20. And I successfully paced myself, limiting my sampling to half or quarter sized bites of the cupcakes, so that I didn't end up with a tummyache at the end of the night like last year.

I didn't win anything again (the competition at this event is always so steep), but I was happy because I got a lot of compliments and my cupcakes were popular enough to have all disappeared by the end of the night. I called them honey babies just because I wanted to come up with some kind of catchy name, but really they have been likened to a great muffin or coffee cake with a light honey spice flavor, topped with amazing frosting. The maple, chopped almonds, and sparkles of sugar are what makes this cupcake sing.

I'm already planning my recipe for next year's contest...I'll definitely be incorporating chocolate.

Honey Babies with Maple Almond Frosting
9 tbsp butter
3/4 cup raw turbinado sugar
heaping 1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
2 tsp bourbon vanilla (bourbon steeped with vanilla beans)
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup ground almonds (1 cup of almonds ground in the food processor until it resembles coarse flour)
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp bourbon vanilla
6 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp milk
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Butter two 12-muffin tins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in honey, eggs, vanilla and milk.
In a separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. Beat dry ingredients into wet mixture until smooth. Scoop batter into muffin tins and bake for approximately 15 minutes until knife inserted comes out clean.

For frosting, cream butter and powdered sugar. Mix in vanilla, maple syrup, milk, and half the chopped almonds. Adjust sugar and butter to desired consistency (my measurements above are approximate). Frost cupcakes, and then sprinkle remaining almonds and a little sugar over top of each. Makes 24 cupcakes. This recipe can easily be cut by a third to make a batch of 12 large cupcakes.

Smoky Vegetarian Crock Pot Baked Beans

After a trip to the southern BBQ joint Blue Smoke, I was craving some more warm, tangy baked beans. I figured it would be easy enough to make in my crock pot. I was also lucky enough to receive a jar of Catskills homemade maple syrup as a gift from Jesse's coworker - I don't know how he made it, but his syrup has a crazy smoky flavor! So it was perfect for whipping up a smoky barbecue sauce to coat the beans. Thanks to the special syrup, this recipe tasted great without any bacon or pork (as baked beans traditionally include), but I think I'd be happy making these vegetarian again even without the benefit of the smoke.

Smoky Vegetarian Crock Pot Baked Beans

2 cups dried beans
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp smoky maple syrup
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
several grinds of pepper

The night before, place dried beans in bowl to soak, filled with water about two inches above the beans.
Whisk together remaining ingredients and reserve in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, drain and rinse beans. Combine beans, barbecue sauce, and 1 1/2 cup of water in crock pot and stir until beans are coated in sauce. Let cook on low approximately 4 hours, turn to high for 2-3 hours, and then turn to low until ready to serve.