Cookie Monster Cooking http://cookiemonstercooking.com Healthy. Indulgent. Delicious. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Almond Butter Cups http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/16/dark-chocolate-pistachio-almond-butter-cups/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/16/dark-chocolate-pistachio-almond-butter-cups/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:00:28 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4194 I know, I know.  You can just buy peanut butter cups at the store.  But can you buy dark chocolate and pistachio almond butter cups???  I have never seen such a delicious treat so clearly I needed to just go ahead and make them myself.  {Although if anyone has seen something along those lines please…

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Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Almond Butter Cups | cookiemonstercooking.com

I know, I know.  You can just buy peanut butter cups at the store.  But can you buy dark chocolate and pistachio almond butter cups???  I have never seen such a delicious treat so clearly I needed to just go ahead and make them myself.  {Although if anyone has seen something along those lines please share so I can go check them out … and have even more candy in the house.  On second thought, don’t tell me.}

So with Easter coming up I figured it would be fun to share a recipe for homemade candy.  Because as much as I kid, we all know that I prefer to make things myself anyway.  And these almond butter cups?  They only have a few ingredients … and you can pronounce every single one.  Plus, they are easy – nothing complicated here.

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Almond Butter Cups | cookiemonstercooking.com

And one of these with a cup of tea at night can make any day better.  I have a bad habit of getting on the internet and researching medical ailments anytime I have an itch or cough or obsessively think I have new mole (it’s never new).  Which leads to me convincing myself I am dying of something or other.  Which then leads to a giant flip out over nothing … some yelling at my husband since he tells me I’m fine and I don’t believe him … you know, total awesomeness.  Hypochondriac much?

Anyway, I may done this the week I made these almond butter cups.  Hot tea + almond butter cups = a cure for all made up sicknesses.  As does a visit to the doctor who also confirms that your husband was indeed correct.  Oops.  But we won’t dwell on that fact.

Decadent dark chocolate, creamy almond butter and a little saltiness from some crunchy pistachios.  I mean, you just can’t go wrong.

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Almond Butter Cups | cookiemonstercooking.com

And dark chocolate is totally healthy, right?  Just go ahead and nod your head in agreement.

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Almond Butter Cups

Yield: 12 cups

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Almond Butter Cups

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped and divided
  • ½ cup creamy almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or melted butter, if needed
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped

Instructions

  1. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
  2. Add half of the chocolate to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power for 30 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted, stirring after each. Alternatively, use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.
  3. Using a small spoon or a cookie scoop (my preference!), evenly distribute the melted chocolate in the prepared tins. Gently drop the pan on the counter several times if needed to help flatten and smooth the chocolate out so it is in an even layer. Transfer the pan to the freezer and let firm up for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat together the almond butter, 2 tablespoons butter and confectioners’ sugar until nice and smooth. If your mixture isn’t completely smooth, add in the vegetable oil (or melted butter) and beat again (I needed to do this). When the chocolate is ready, remove the pan from the freezer. Drop small spoonfuls of the almond butter mixture on top of the chocolate, use a small spoon to help spread it out if needed and again drop the pan on the counter several times to help flatten/smooth it out. Transfer the pan back to the freezer and let firm up for another 15 minutes.
  5. Melt the remaining half of the chocolate using the same method described above. When ready, remove the pan from the freezer. Working 2 to 3 cups at a time, drop even portions of the chocolate on top of the almond butter layer. Quickly drop the pan on the counter several times to even out the chocolate (since it is so cold it will harden much faster this time). Immediately sprinkle the tops with some of the chopped pistachios. Repeat with the remaining cups. Freeze the pan once again for 15 minutes or until the chocolate is completely set.

Notes

I prefer to store these in the refrigerator in an airtight container. We like to eat them chilled but you can definitely let them come to room temperature before serving. Just depends on your own preference!

This is one of those recipes that I think the quality of chocolate makes a difference. The better chocolate you use, the better they will taste!

These are not super duper sweet with the dark chocolate (they are definitely sweet but you catch my drift). Use semi-sweet or milk chocolate if you prefer instead.

http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/16/dark-chocolate-pistachio-almond-butter-cups/

Source:
Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking. Originally from Fifteen Spatulas.

 

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Polenta Bites with Ricotta and Shaved Asparagus http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/14/polenta-bites-ricotta-shaved-asparagus/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/14/polenta-bites-ricotta-shaved-asparagus/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:00:43 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4180 So is it bad that looking at these pictures makes me want to run into my kitchen, make another batch and shove a few more of these polenta bites into my face??  Because that’s exactly what I want to do right now. I expected to like these babies … but did not expect to loveeee…

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Polenta Bites with Ricotta and Shaved Asparagus | cookiemonstercooking.com

So is it bad that looking at these pictures makes me want to run into my kitchen, make another batch and shove a few more of these polenta bites into my face??  Because that’s exactly what I want to do right now.

I expected to like these babies … but did not expect to loveeee them.  I’ve made them quite a bit over the last few weeks.  But they are the perfect appetizer, brunch contribution or for just making for yourself to eat after work outside on the patio with a glass of red wine.   Yes yes, that one wins most.

Plus then you can reheat the leftovers and consume far too many for lunch the next day.  Perfectly acceptable since there are veggies involved.

Polenta Bites with Ricotta and Shaved Asparagus | cookiemonstercooking.com

And I mean, shaved asparagus is just so darn pretty.  Look at those ribbons!  We all know that I am a sucker for pretty food.  Plus I am totally smitten with the fact that when you shave asparagus it tastes great raw.  Don’t run away until you’ve tried it!

Now.  There are a few steps to make these bites but each part is simple and you can do it all in stages and in advance.

Make the polenta, chill it and cut into rounds.  Mix up the ricotta mixture, prep the asparagus.  You can do all of this ahead of time and just keep them stored in the fridge in airtight containers.  That way, all you have to do is the bake the polenta when you need it and then assemble!  It’s easy, I promise.

And another little tidbit for you – alternatively, you can just go ahead and bake the polenta bites.  Let them cool completely and then store in the fridge.  You can reheat them the next day (350 for about 10 to 15 minutes) and they will be right back to crispy and awesome.  And then assemble as directed in the recipe.  Can you tell I experimented a lot with these??

Polenta Bites with Ricotta and Shaved Asparagus | cookiemonstercooking.com

Crispy polenta, creamy salty ricotta and fresh bright asparagus.  That’s one glorious trifecta right there.

Polenta Bites with Ricotta and Shaved Asparagus

Yield: 24 bites (using a 2 ½ inch round cutter)

Polenta Bites with Ricotta and Shaved Asparagus

Ingredients

    For the polenta base:
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse polenta (not instant or quick cooking)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • For baking:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • For topping:
  • 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • lemon zest, for garnish

Instructions

  1. To make the polenta - add the milk, water and salt to a medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a low simmer. Slowly pour in the polenta in an even stream, whisking constantly the entire time. Turn the heat down to low and partially cover with a lid. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, whisking every few minutes to get out any lumps (be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan). Remove from the heat and add in the butter and parmesan. Whisk until combined.
  2. Carefully transfer the polenta to a rimmed baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread using a spatula to about ½ inch in thickness (you don’t need the edges/shape to be perfect since you’ll cut the polenta later). Let cool for about 5 minutes then transfer the pan to the refrigerator and let chill for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. To bake - preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the polenta is completely cool and well chilled, use a cookie cutter (or a knife) to cut out the polenta into your desired shape getting as many pieces as you can (I used a round 2 ½ inch cutter).
  4. Place the polenta rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top of each round lightly with the melted butter. Combine the parmesan and panko in a small bowl and then top each round with some of the mixture, lightly pressing it into the top of the polenta. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the rounds are slightly crispy on the outside. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the topping - add the ricotta, salt, garlic powder and parsley to a small bowl. Mix until combined.
  6. Lay the asparagus spears on a cutting board and use a vegetable peeler to shave off thin ribbons (I find it easiest to hold the tough end of the asparagus that you normally cut off). Set aside.
  7. To assemble - top each polenta round with a good dollop of the ricotta mixture (I like to kind of spread it out a bit on the round) and then a heaping of the shaved asparagus. Garnish with lemon zest if desired.

Notes

See the body of the post above for make-ahead instructions.

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Source:
Cookie Monster Cooking

 

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Orange Chocolate Chip Bread with Brown Butter Glaze http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/11/orange-chocolate-chip-bread-brown-butter-glaze/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/11/orange-chocolate-chip-bread-brown-butter-glaze/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:00:47 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4171 I’m all about the citrus lately … in case that wasn’t already blatantly obvious.  Which even surprises me, considering about two years ago I hated (like with a serious passion) any type of citrus in baked goods.  Sure, I have always loved fruit but in cookies or cake and the like?  I don’t think so…

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Orange Chocolate Chip Bread with Brown Butter Glaze | cookiemonstercooking.com

I’m all about the citrus lately … in case that wasn’t already blatantly obvious.  Which even surprises me, considering about two years ago I hated (like with a serious passion) any type of citrus in baked goods.  Sure, I have always loved fruit but in cookies or cake and the like?  I don’t think so jack.  Clearly the times have changed.

So today I have for you an orange chocolate chip quick bread.  No mixer required.  Just some bowls, a whisk and a spatula.  And a quick bread means you can eat it for breakfast right?

That may have been the case if I didn’t go right ahead and smother it in a brown butter glaze.  And oh goodness gracious this glaze.  I would just drizzle it straight into my mouth all the time if that wouldn’t give my dentist a heart attack.

Orange Chocolate Chip Bread with Brown Butter Glaze | cookiemonstercooking.com

And I have the best dentist so I wouldn’t want to do that.  So side story – the first time I went to this dentist after we moved here they were asking all about me and what I did and I mentioned this blog.  It has become a huge conversation topic during each visit and a few weeks ago while I was having two old cavities replaced I mentioned the lemon poppy seed cupcakes.  Within seconds, some of the other staff materialized in the room and wanted to know why I didn’t bring any for them to sample.  It was pretty entertaining.  But really, is it a good idea to bring cupcakes to your dentist??  That are made of lots of sugar??

Anyway, my husband went in for his check-up a week later and all they wanted to talk about was the cupcakes.  Ha!  Who’s more popular?  This girl, that’s for sure.  Why I care that my dentist likes me more than my husband I don’t know.  Let’s just go with it.

Orange Chocolate Chip Bread with Brown Butter Glaze | cookiemonstercooking.com

So make a loaf of this bread for yourself or maybe for Easter brunch, yes?  And if you find yourself licking some of the glaze with a spoon just let it happen (but don’t tell your dentist it was my idea).

Orange Chocolate Chip Bread with Brown Butter Glaze

Yield: 1 (8 ½ by 4 ½ inch) loaf

Orange Chocolate Chip Bread with Brown Butter Glaze

Ingredients

    For the bread:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil*
  • ⅔ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • For the glaze:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • about 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.**
  2. To make the bread - in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and egg until well combined (it will clump together at first but just keep whisking and it will smooth out). Add in the vanilla, coconut oil, milk and orange zest and whisk again to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix.
  3. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the top. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil. Once the bread is cool enough to handle, gently run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the glaze - add the butter chunks to a small skillet. Let the butter melt over medium heat and then continue to cook, whisking frequently, until it begins to brown (this takes several minutes). You should see brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Once you see those bits, turn off the heat and continue to whisk constantly for about 30 seconds, until the butter is golden brown. Be careful not to burn the butter - those bits can turn black quickly.
  5. Transfer the browned butter to a small bowl (make sure you get all those caramel bits in the pan!). Let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add in the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla extract and salt and whisk to combine. Add more milk or confectioners’ sugar to achieve the consistency that you want. Pour the glaze over the completely cooled cake. Let set before slicing to serve.

Notes

*Make sure that you melt the coconut oil first and then measure out the correct amount (otherwise you may use too much). Alternatively, you can also substitute in canola or vegetable oil - they should both work fine here.

**If you only have a 9x5 inch loaf pan, you can go ahead and use it. However, be sure to check the loaf while baking about 5 minutes earlier than noted in the recipe above.

http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/11/orange-chocolate-chip-bread-brown-butter-glaze/

Source:
Cookie Monster Cooking

 

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Thai Chicken Bowls http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/09/thai-chicken-bowls/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/09/thai-chicken-bowls/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:00:42 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4158 If we’re being honest, today I feel like I have nothing to say.  My husband is probably laughing and shaking his head as he’s reading this, since he is of the belief that I ALWAYS have something to say.  I may be known to ramble on and on about silly things while he’s trying to…

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Thai Chicken Bowls | cookiemonstercooking.com

If we’re being honest, today I feel like I have nothing to say.  My husband is probably laughing and shaking his head as he’s reading this, since he is of the belief that I ALWAYS have something to say.  I may be known to ramble on and on about silly things while he’s trying to watch TV or do whatever he does, and he is usually happy when I return home from hanging out with friends since he thinks I’m talked out.  Ha!  Like that would ever happen.  Please now, who does he think I am?

But maybe it can happen?  Hmmm dare I say the husband could be right?  In this case I actually haven’t talked much at all today but here I am staring at my computer screen and nothing.  Nada.

Thai Chicken Bowls | cookiemonstercooking.com

And we really enjoyed these thai chicken bowls so I can’t even blame the chicken.  Instead I’ll blame the dreary weather – it’s dragging me down.  Making my concentration fly away.  So instead I’ve spent a large chunk of time being snoopy and watching people from the window in my office.  Because people watching is fascinating.

People watching while enjoying a leftover bowl of this meal right here is even better.  Like that transition today?  So smooth huh?

This is definitely a great weeknight meal right here.  So many layers of goodness in one dish.  Crispy veggies, sweet pineapple and chicken flavored up with peanut sauce (I prefer my homemade version but you could definitely use store-bought!) and then served on top of a bed of coconut rice, my favorite.  Throw in some cashews for even more crunch and finish it off with a bit of sriracha for some kick.

And … and … you can prep different parts of it ahead of time, which will make it even faster.  Make the coconut rice in the morning or the day before, cook the chicken breasts or even use a rotisserie chicken!

Thai Chicken Bowls | cookiemonstercooking.com

This really is a winner winner chicken dinner.  I know, I know, I used that phrase last week.  Do you see what I mean?  I got nothing.

Thai Chicken Bowls

Yield: 5 to 6 servings

Thai Chicken Bowls

Ingredients

    For the rice:*
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked brown basmati rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 ¾ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • For the bowls:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 3 cups coleslaw mix or sliced cabbage**
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • ⅓ cup cashews
  • ½ cup peanut sauce
  • salt, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for serving
  • sriracha, for serving

Instructions

  1. To make the rice - add the rice, coconut milk, water and salt to a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, give it a good stir, then cover and turn down the heat to medium-low / low. Let simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat (leaving the cover on) and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. To make the bowls - set a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the olive oil. When hot, add in the onion and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the veggies are crisp tender. Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add in the pineapple chunks, cabbage and green onions. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the pineapple is warm and the cabbage is wilted down. Turn down the heat to low and add in the chicken, cashews and peanut sauce. Stir to combine. Season with salt to taste (I added about ½ to ¾ teaspoon - it will depend on how salty the peanut sauce is that you use).
  3. To serve, spoon some of the rice into a bowl. Top with some of the vegetable chicken mixture. Garnish with cilantro and serve with sriracha if desired.

Notes

*The amount of liquid required and the cooking time for the rice will vary depending on brand. For the kind I buy, I use the amounts listed. If your package suggests something different, use the same amount of coconut milk listed above and then adjust the water. Additionally, keep an eye on it and adjust the cooking time as needed.

Regular white basmati rice also works if you can’t find brown!

**I had no intention of using a coleslaw mix for this recipe but the last few weeks at the grocery store I could not find a regular ol’ cabbage! I planned to use sliced napa cabbage but had no luck buying any, so just use whatever you have!

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Source:
Cookie Monster Cooking

 

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/07/lemon-poppy-seed-cupcakes-blueberry-cream-cheese-frosting/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/07/lemon-poppy-seed-cupcakes-blueberry-cream-cheese-frosting/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:00:51 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4134 It’s Monday again and well, Mondays call for cupcakes.  And let’s call these celebration cupcakes … for the fact that it may actually officially really be spring!  Yes, yes, I know that the official start of the season was a few weeks ago, but this was the first time that we had a string of…

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting | cookiemonstercooking.com

It’s Monday again and well, Mondays call for cupcakes.  And let’s call these celebration cupcakes … for the fact that it may actually officially really be spring!  Yes, yes, I know that the official start of the season was a few weeks ago, but this was the first time that we had a string of slightly warmer days.

On that note, we finally went to the store this weekend and got all the goodies to start our garden.  So funny story.  We were merrily shopping away for our garden supplies when I realized I was supposed to be at a potluck brunch thing that I do with my friends every few weeks.

I somehow managed to put it on my calendar for Sunday (not Saturday).  Which set off my crazy mode – you know, dashing to get out of the store, get home, finding something to bring (since I didn’t make my planned contribution because I thought it was the next day) and finally winding up grabbing a bag of cookie dough balls from the freezer.  Thank goodness for cookie dough, right?  Saves the day.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting | cookiemonstercooking.com

So do you see why I need a cupcake on this Monday?  I was frazzled mcdazzled.  And then it carried through the rest of the weekend because all the things I scheduled were now flipped around.

And my type-A personality can’t handle that kind of funny business.  Which brings me to cupcakes.  These cupcakes will make any day better.  I took my favorite favorite favorite vanilla base and jazzed it up a bit with lemon and poppy seeds.  They are light, tender and well, pretty perfect.

And then there’s the frosting.  A blueberry cream cheese frosting.  With just a hint of blueberry flavor from fresh blueberry puree, it pairs deliciously with the slightly lemon base.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting | cookiemonstercooking.com

Cupcake Monday.  I think it should be a thing.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: about 22 cupcakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the frosting:
  • 6 ounces fresh blueberries
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 ½ to 5 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Garnish ideas:
  • lemon zest
  • fresh blueberries
  • poppy seeds

Instructions

  1. To make the cupcakes - preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the poppy seeds and give it a quick stir. In another medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the granulated sugar and lemon zest. Use your fingers to rub them together until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add in the butter. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until it is very light. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add in one third of the flour mixture. Next, add in half of the buttermilk mixture, beating until incorporated. Repeat this process, one third flour mixture, remaining half buttermilk mixture. Finally add in the remaining third of the flour mixture. Once incorporated, increase the speed to medium low and beat for 2 minutes, to ensure it is well aerated. Fill the prepared cupcake tins evenly with the batter (about ⅔ of the way full).
  4. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting - add the blueberries to the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the skins, using a wooden spoon to help push it through. Measure out ¼ cup of the strained puree and set aside (any extra you can discard).
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and butter. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar (start with the 4 ½ cups) to the bowl in several batches, beating on low / medium-low until combined (it will be very stiff at this point). Add in the ¼ cup blueberry puree, vanilla and salt. Start on low then increase the speed to medium high and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the bowl and beater blade as needed. If the frosting is not thick enough to pipe, add in additional sifted confectioners’ sugar to get it to your desired consistency (and beat again on medium high - I usually add the full 5 ½ cups since I prefer it to be stiffer when piping).
  7. Pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish as desired.
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Source:
Cupcake base adapted from my vanilla bean cupcakes, which were originally from Baking: From My Home to Yours. Frosting from Cookie Monster Cooking.

 

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Baked Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/04/baked-asparagus-mushroom-pasta/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/04/baked-asparagus-mushroom-pasta/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4100 So asparagus and I are BFFs right now.  I can’t stop buying it – maybe a little excessively so.  When I was at the grocery store this week, the cashier actually stopped to ask me what I was planning to make with all of the asparagus I had piled in my cart.  I politely smiled…

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Baked Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta | cookiemonstercooking.com

So asparagus and I are BFFs right now.  I can’t stop buying it – maybe a little excessively so.  When I was at the grocery store this week, the cashier actually stopped to ask me what I was planning to make with all of the asparagus I had piled in my cart.  I politely smiled and answered but really in my head it went something like, why are you questioning my asparagus???  And then two seconds later … hmm maybe it is a little much???  And then stop it, why on earth do you care that the cashier is asking about your excessive asparagus buying???

Because the butcher and I have regular weekly conversations about my cooking plans (and his too), so this is really nothing out of the ordinary.  Apparently I am just very defensive about my asparagus.  Hmpf.

Baked Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta | cookiemonstercooking.com

But it is just so good.  Such as when it is in a creamy cheesy pasta bake with plenty of mushrooms?  With a panko / parmesan topping that gets nice and crispy in the oven?  You betcha.

I’m in that weird phase right now where the weather is starting to get a little bit warmer so I am craving spring vegetables and the like … but I’m also not ready to give up on comfort foods.  Hence this pasta dish.  Combines everything in one.  Winner winner chicken dinner.  But no chicken.  Just veggies.

Baked Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta | cookiemonstercooking.com

I hope that all made sense.  It’s Friday and my concentration is long gone and I’m having trouble forming coherent sentences.

So tell me … weekend plans?  Anything fun lined up?  Whatcha got for me?

Baked Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Baked Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients

    For the pasta:
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 (8 ounce) package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears, ends removed and cut into 2 to 3-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound your favorite pasta shape (I used shells)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 8 ounces provolone, shredded and divided
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add the onion, mushrooms, asparagus and garlic to a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to combine. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the veggies are tender. Remove from the oven and add the veggies to a large bowl. Set aside the baking dish for later. Maintain the oven temperature at 400.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta (you want it to be al dente) according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water, then drain and add the pasta to the large bowl with the veggies. Add in the diced tomatoes and set aside.
  4. To make the sauce - in a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted add in the flour, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk for about 2 minutes, until golden brown and nutty in fragrance. Slowly pour in the milk, continuing to whisk constantly. Let the mixture come to a simmer, still whisking fairly frequently, and cook until it thickens up a bit, about 1 to 2 minutes after simmering. Remove from the heat and add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and parmesan. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the sauce into the large bowl and then add in half of the shredded provolone cheese. Mix until well combined, adding in a little of the reserved pasta water if needed to loosen the pasta up (I didn’t need any). Season with salt / pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish you used for the veggies. Top with the remaining provolone. In a small bowl, mix together the panko and parmesan and sprinkle over the top.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the top is golden and bubbly.
http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/04/baked-asparagus-mushroom-pasta/

Source:
Cookie Monster Cooking

 

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/02/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-pretzel-cookies/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/02/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-pretzel-cookies/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 09:00:40 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4071 With brown butter.  Just go ahead and add that to the end of the title up there.  The length was getting a little crazy (and tongue-tying) so I cut it off.  The first clue was when my friends couldn’t repeat the title back to me after trying them … yeah, time to change the name.…

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies | cookiemonstercooking.com

With brown butter.  Just go ahead and add that to the end of the title up there.  The length was getting a little crazy (and tongue-tying) so I cut it off.  The first clue was when my friends couldn’t repeat the title back to me after trying them … yeah, time to change the name.  But really it’s a super important part of these cookies, so we’ll just pretend it’s up there with the rest.

You don’t even want to know how many attempts it took to get these cookies just right … but it was soooo worth it.  Even the failed batches were delicious – although the amount we had in the house (and still have in the freezer) was / is borderline ridiculous.  So I started force-feeding them to friends.  Apparently I’ve turned into the crazy cookie lady.  But I promise they enjoyed them so it’s cool.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies | cookiemonstercooking.com

Kidding aside, these peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel cookies are incredibly good.

  1. They have that sweet and salty thing going on big time, which I just can’t get enough of lately.
  2. They are chewyyyy.  Essential.
  3. There’s the brown butter factor.  Which we just can’t overlook.  Whole different level of goodness I tell you.

If you’ve never browned butter, don’t be intimidated.  And don’t get too upset if you burn it the first time.  Ahem, I may have some first-hand experience in that department.  After you do it a time or two you get the hang of it … and then there is no turning back.  Your world will be changed.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies | cookiemonstercooking.com

So go make me proud and bake up a batch of sweet and salty cookie awesomeness.  Or just come raid my freezer … there’s plenty to go around.  I’ll share, promise.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Yield: about 22 to 24 cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup roughly crushed pretzels

Instructions

  1. Cut the butter into chunks and add to a small skillet. Let the butter melt over medium heat and then continue to cook, whisking frequently, until it begins to brown (this takes several minutes). You should see brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Once you see those bits, turn off the heat and continue to whisk constantly for about 30 seconds, until the butter is golden brown. Be careful not to burn the butter - those bits can turn black quickly. Pour the butter into a bowl and let cool down so that it’s warm and not hot.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cooled brown butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add in the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth and completely blended. Add in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Beat again on medium until well combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the chocolate chips and pretzels. Transfer to the refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. When the dough is done chilling, scoop about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of dough (I used my larger cookie scoop) and drop onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 to 3 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops lightly with some of the sea salt.
  5. Bake for about 9 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are set and the edges are a light golden brown (they may not look completely done but will continue to cook when you take them out). Let the cookies cool directly on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack.

Notes

I don’t usually use natural peanut butter when baking but it’s all I’ve been buying lately and it worked fine for me with this recipe on numerous occasions.

http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/04/02/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-pretzel-cookies/

Source:
Cookie Monster Cooking

 

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Orange Poppy Seed Scones http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/03/31/orange-poppy-seed-scones/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/03/31/orange-poppy-seed-scones/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:00:05 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=3994 Surprise!  Today is a very special day as we are inviting you to a virtual baby shower honoring Kelly from Life Made Sweeter and Hilary from My Own Blog Review.  To celebrate these two lovely ladies, we are sharing 11 recipes and crafts that are ready to “pop.”  So fun, right?  Be sure to “pop”…

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Orange Poppy Seed Scones | cookiemonstercooking.com

Surprise!  Today is a very special day as we are inviting you to a virtual baby shower honoring Kelly from Life Made Sweeter and Hilary from My Own Blog Review.  To celebrate these two lovely ladies, we are sharing 11 recipes and crafts that are ready to “pop.”  So fun, right?  Be sure to “pop” over and check out everyone’s posts!  And a big congratulations to Kelly and Hilary!

Baby Shower Invitation

Now let’s get to the food and chat about this delicious breakfast treat that I whipped up for the special occasion.  I’ve been wanting to experiment with orange poppy seed scones for a while now and this baby shower was the perfect excuse to give them a try.  After quite a bit of fiddling (and plenty of taste testing later), I am finally happy with the way they turned out.

Buttery and tender but not cloyingly sweet, these scones are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.  The orange flavor is definitely there but not overpoweringly so.  I may have enjoyed a few too many … all in the name of quality control.  Yes, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

Orange Poppy Seed Scones | cookiemonstercooking.com

And now so you can explore all the other fun treats that were made to celebrate:

  1. Key Lime Pie Popsicles – Spoonful of Flavor
  2. Cheddar Bacon Crescent Poppers – A Little Claireification
  3. Sweet Indulgence Popcorn mix – It Bakes Me Happy
  4. “Pop”ular Tiramisu Blondies – Frugal Foodie Mama
  5. Lollipop Centerpiece – The Mandatory Mooch
  6. Buttered Popcorn Creme Brulee – Baking a Moment
  7. Orange Poppy Seed Scones – Cookie Monster Cooking
  8. Lemon Poppyseed Baked Donuts – Blahnik Baker
  9. Candy Popcorn Pops – Little Miss Celebration
  10. Lemon Drizzle Iced Poppyseed Cakes – What Jessica Baked Next
  11. Lemon Cheesecake Pops – What’s Cooking Love?

Baby Shower Round-Up

Congratulations again Kelly and Hilary!  We are so excited for you both!

Orange Poppy Seed Scones

Yield: about 8 to 10 scones

Orange Poppy Seed Scones

Ingredients

    For the scones:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • For the glaze:
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Instructions

  1. To make the scones - preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and poppy seeds in a large bowl. Using your fingers, two knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour. Continue until the mixture resembles even-sized crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until the dough comes together. Do not over mix (the mixture will be on the drier side but stop when it comes together - if needed add additional buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time).
  3. Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet (I used my muffin-sized dough scoop – which holds about ¼ cup of batter). Alternatively you can pat the dough into a circle on a floured surface and then cut into triangles. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, until the scones just start to turn golden brown.
  4. To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice in a small bowl (add more or less of the orange juice to get it to the consistency that you want). Drizzle the glaze over the scones (let the scones cool if you don’t want the glaze to melt into the scones!).
http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/03/31/orange-poppy-seed-scones/

Source:
Adapted from my cranberry orange white chocolate scones.

 

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The Little Things – March 2014 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/03/28/little-things-march-2014/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/03/28/little-things-march-2014/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 09:00:34 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4018 Let’s chat about March happiness! {In case you are new and curious, you can refer to my first little things post to see why I started the series – it involves a story about me yelling at cars.  It’s good stuff, I tell you.} So I’m officially calling March the month of the winter that…

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The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

Let’s chat about March happiness!

{In case you are new and curious, you can refer to my first little things post to see why I started the series – it involves a story about me yelling at cars.  It’s good stuff, I tell you.}

So I’m officially calling March the month of the winter that won’t go away.  But even with the ridiculous crazy weather it’s been a good few weeks.

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

First and foremost, the beginning of March was the end of busy season at my other job!  Woooooooo!  No more nights and all-consuming weekends at my desk.

Please note the beagle mouse pad.  No I am not a crazy beagle lady at all.  Hmmm.

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

Fact – I get hangryyy in between breakfast and lunch.  Current fav fav fav snack to keep me from getting all not so lovely.  Plain greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, fresh blueberries and roasted coconut chips.  Awesomeness in a bowl that makes me smile every time.

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

It’s starting!  Pretty flowers are slowly coming back!

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

My mom came for a week-long visit and we spent one morning exploring the oh-so-pretty Duke Gardens.  I’ve been meaning to do this since we moved here last summer.  It’s about time I got my butt in gear.

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

Speaking of my mom’s visit, we also made an obligatory stop at HomeGoods to peruse around.  And I found these bad boys.  I went running over to them – no I’m not weird at all.  Sort of burlap-type flowers with cute little handwriting all over them.  I die.

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

I also found this picture frame.  WHICH MATCHES MY FAVORITE MUG EVER!!  I don’t let anyone touch said mug.  Ahem, I may have told my mom to put it back when she tried to use it.  But seriously, the frame matches it – do you see this?  And I love it.  Winning at life right here.

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

My favorite beagle celebrated her 7th (!!) birthday.  We had lots of fun giving her a special treat.  She didn’t seem to care that it was her birthday and I wanted to hug her first.  She just wanted that treat in her belly as fast as possible.

The Little Things - March 2014 | cookiemonstercooking.com

And lastly, the return of iced coffee.  Well, the return of me making large batches of homemade iced coffee to have on hand at all times.  Completely necessary once the weather actually starts to stay a bit warmer…

So what little things made you happy this month?  Let’s share and chat and I’ll make you some iced coffee while we discuss.

 

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