Archive for August, 2010

“Mochatella Scrumpcakes” Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

Ahhhh!  Three of my favorite things.  All brought together in a convenient little package. =)

I was, at first, going to make these with just a whipped cream/cream cheese frosting. Then I found mini chocolate hazelnut biscotti to put on top. So, I thought to myself, why not throw some Nutella in the frosting too?  So, that’s what I did.

Thanks to Ila and Michelle for helping me name them. I will pay you royalties.

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) hot brewed espresso or very strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream

Heat oven to 350°. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine hot espresso, cocoa, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, combine the flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Add about one third of the flour mixture to the batter, along with half of the sour cream. Beat until blended. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and the remaining sour cream. Beat in remaining flour mixture. Beat in the cocoa and espresso mixture until smooth and well blended.

Fill prepared muffin cups about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Makes about 18 cupcakes.

Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • about 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. half and half if needed

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, Nutella, and butter.

Beat on high until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. If needed, add a small amount of half and half (approximately one tablespoon) to adjust the consistency.

Fill a pastry bag with about a 1/2 cup of frosting and using a 1M star tip, pipe  on top of cupcakes.

If you wish, top with a dusting of cinnamon and a mini chocolate hazelnut biscotti.


Homemade Taco Seasoning

This is so much better than the little package.  And… probably have most of the spices already in your spice collection.  I modified it a little and added some of the jalapeno powder that I had, plus a teaspoon of salt.  Exactly 7 teaspoons of this equals what is in that package.

  • 6 tsp. of chili power
  • 5 tsp.  paprika
  • 4 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

I added, optionally:

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. jalapeno powder

Mix all together and store in an air-tight container in a cool place for up to six months.

Recipe courtesy of

Almond Joyish Cupcakes

I had to make these twice.  The first cake recipe left much to be desired.  Too crumbly.  A friend of mine gave me her tried and true recipe for devil’s food cake that is much better.

The coconut filling and chocolate ganache frosting were very good.  No changes were made there.  The coconut recipe I used made a lot of filling.  I had more than enough to fill at least 18 cupcakes.

The ganache stiffened up nicely in the refrigerator after about two hours, so you may want to make this first.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream

Heat cream to a just boiling in a pan. Be sure to remove it as soon as it boils so it does not boil over.

Place chips in a large bowl and pour cream over top.  Tap a couple of times on counter to have chips settle in.  Let sit for about two minutes.

Stir, until it’s completely incorporated.

Place in refrigerator for about two hours, stirring frequently, until a good consistency for frosting.  Make sure to scrape the hardened parts off the side of the bowl, as this is where it hardens first.  It went from glossy liquid, which is lovely as it was, to this thick deliciousness:

Missy’s Devil’s Food Cake

  • 1 cup butter {no substitutions)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-1/4 cups buttermilk

Measure flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.

Cream butter and sugar, add flavorings and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the sugar-butter mixture mixing until all ingredients are well incorporated. Finish by mixing on medium for a minute.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Place liners into cupcake pans. Evenly distribute batter among cups. I use an ice-cream scoop, filled 2/3 of the way up.

Side note: This batter is delicious!!!

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from pans to cooling rack until completely cooled down.

Coconut Filling

  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 7 oz. pkg. shredded, sweetened coconut

In a skillet over low, combine the sweetened condensed milk and the coconut. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 10 minutes, or until the milk starts to hold its own path when a spoon is dragged across the bottom of the pan. Set aside to cool.

Cupcake Assembly

After cupcakes and filling have cooled and the ganache has hardened enough to pipe or spread, get ready to fill cupcakes.

Using a small paring knife, cut out a cone shaped piece out of the top of the cupcake.  Using a small spoon, add filling into that cavity.

Replace cone on top of the hole.

Using either a piping bag or a knife, either pipe or spread ganache over top of each cupcake, as desired.

Sprinkle extra coconut on top and add a few almonds to decorate and finish off its Almond Joyishness.

Refrigerate for about an hour to have filling set up inside cupcake before serving. I found that trying to eat it before that doesn’t work too well.

Old Bay Roasted Sweet Potatoes

One word to describe these. Awesome.

I really do love sweet potatoes.  Simply roasting these with Old Bay seasoning, salt and olive oil, give this side dish the perfect spiciness that pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the potato.

To be honest, I didn’t measure how much I put on the potato.  I sprinkled liberally, I can say that.

I used one quite large sweet potato, scrubbed it clean and cut it into one-inch chunks.  I place them on a cookie sheet and pour some olive oil over top.  Then I added a good amount of kosher salt.  Everything needs salt.  Then I sprinkled the Old Bay over that and mixed it all up with my hands. If I had to guess, I’d say I put about a teaspoon of salt and maybe two teaspoons of Old Bay.  But like I said, I’m not really sure. But you could visibly see the Old Bay on them

Roast in the oven, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes at 350°, or until tender.

Mojo Marinated Pork Tacos

I made these tonight and they came out really, really good.  I’m upset that my pictures are not as good.  But, I ordered a new camera today, so it should be here by Monday.

This  is a recipe from Cuisine at Home: Grilling cooking magazine.  They have some really wonderful recipes.  Seriously.  Everything I’ve made is pretty much delicious.

They are served with  Grilled Salsa.

For the mojo marinade:

  • Juice from one small orange
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. each black pepper and red pepper flakes
  • 2 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed

For the tortillas:

  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 cup low-fat refried beans
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Whisk together all of the mojo marinade ingredients and pour over the pork.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat on one side and medium-low on the other.

Grill pork, covered, over medium-high heat until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 150° about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, tent with foil and set aside to rest.  Meanwhile, prepare tortillas.

Top tortillas with about 2 tablespoons each of the refried beans and cheese.  Grill over medium-low heat until cheese is melted.

Slice pork thinly. Top each tortilla with slices of pork and Grilled Salsa.

This would even be lovely with Rozzi’s Mango Blueberry Salsa.  But with that I’d omit the beans and cheese.

Grilled Salsa

This salsa has a wonderful, deep smokey flavor.  Serve with Mojo Marinated Pork Tacos or anywhere you’d use salsa.

Makes 2 cups

  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes or 4 large regular tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, wrapped in foil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/4 chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Grill tomatoes, onion, garlic packet and jalapeno until soft, about 5 minutes, turning frequently.   Remove from grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Peel tomatoes, garlic and pepper. Place in a food processor with remaining ingredients and pulse until blended, but still chunky.  Set aside until ready to serve.

Gravy (Tomato and Meat Sauce for Pasta)

I know there are a lot of different terms for this. I call it gravy. Always have. Always will. It’s from growing up in an Italian household from the Northeastern part of the United States. So, call it what you will; tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, meat sauce or gravy. But, whatever you call it, it’s a good foodgasm.

So…..where to start? First you need to figure out what meat you are making the gravy with. No meat = no gravy, pretty much.

Normally, I use 3 lbs of ground meat mix (beef, pork and veal) and make meatballs with that. They need to be pre-cooked FIRST. Do not attempt to put them in raw, they will not cook and it’s just gross.

I also put in 1 lb of hot sausage, cooked and cut into links and usually some type of pork. Ribs normally, but I have also used a boneless hunk of pork. Today, I am actually using a piece of beef for a change. Either way, cook it first. I bake the pork in the oven with the sausage at 350° for a good hour, turning it once.  You want a nice, crisp crust on the pork.  Please season it first.

Like I said, it’s up to you. Just meatballs are fine. You need some meat to call it gravy. If not, it’s just tomato sauce.

Once all of that is prepared, you can start the gravy.  For it you will need:

  • 3 cans of crushed tomatoes (I use Tuttorosso in the green can)
  • olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • red wine
  • salt
  • pepper, ground fresh
  • pinch of sugar
  • freshly chopped basil
  • freshly chopped parsley

In a large stock pot, saute garlic, onion and red pepper flakes for about three minutes, stirring so garlic does not burn.

Add tomato paste and stir well.  Add about a 1/4 cup red wine to it and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the three cans of crushed tomatoes, stir well to incorporate with paste mixture.  Fill one of the cans with water and add it to the sauce.  Season with about a teaspoon of salt, a few grindings of pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Stir again.  Bring to a slow boil.  Add another 1/4 cup of wine or more to the sauce. 

Add all of the meat now and lower heat to a simmer.  Cover the pot, leaving the lid askew, so the sauce thickens.

Check and stir every 30 minutes and cook for at least five hours.  Taste every now and then, as well, for seasoning and to see if it’s getting “done.”  You’ll need a loaf of Italian bread to do this.  It’s a must.

Just kidding. But it is a good way to taste it.

When it’s almost done, add some freshly chopped basil and parsley.

When it’s done, turn off heat.  Spoon over a steaming dish of pasta of your choice or just dive in with some bread and go at it.