Iron Chef Mommy

The journey of a mother and wife in her very own kitchen stadium

Archive for February, 2010

Valentine’s cupcakes – the best part of the day!

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 19, 2010

So, the fact that I’m posting my Valentine’s cupcakes about a week late, that should give you some insight as to how busy I am. We were buried in snow… no, literally. Buried. Meaning there was 2+ feet of snow in my backyard. So, actually, my child was buried. Up to her waist. I have pictures. They’re adorable. Brett even took the snowblower into the backyard (that was money VERY well spent…and yes, I say that every time it snows) and make a huge 4 ft tall slide for her to slide down. We were freezing and soaking wet, but it was so worth it. She had so much fun, and kicked and screamed when we took her in because she was so windburnt.

So, we made Valentine’s cupcakes. After they were made, I went on an all out search looking for the memory card to my camera. Those of you on Facebook know what my morning was like that day. No wonder I didn’t get anything done. I was too busy flipping over my couches looking for it. So, this picture of my Valentine cakes is a bit grainy, my blackberry definitely can’t do what my camera can. But they looked adorable. And they tasted yummy. Until Saturday, when I headed to see my darling friend Angelina for her bachelorette party at the Sands Casino. We were getting ready and she mentioned the icing tasted a bit salty… then I thought back… that’s what I get for letting the 2 year old stand in front of the mixer with my back turned. She put a touch more in after. Oops. Oh well. The Sands was great. We had a wonderful time – we ate dinner at Emeril’s Chophouse and it was beyond fantastic. I mean, amazing. I had duck, which was perfection. It melted in my mouth. I wanted to ransack the kitchen and eat everything.

So, back to Valentine’s Day. I was pleasantly surprised that my darling husband had an adorable singing card and TWO boxes of chocolates for me when I arrived home Sunday morning. He rocks. Definitely a keeper.

These cupcakes are yummy. The cakes are moist and spongy and have a great flavor. It’s actually the recipe for Amy Sedaris’ Vanilla Cupcakes. The frosting is really yummy. At least it was before my princess dumped a bit more salt into them. I added Wilton Rose Pink coloring to the icing to bring that nice pink color and they’re topped with Wilton toppers and heart sprinkles. Oh, those are Wilton heart liners too.

So, here you go:

For the cupcakes:
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar

Beat well, then add:

Add 2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk

Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, ’cause I’m doing something wrong.***

Those are Amy’s directions. She gets 18. I halved the recipe and got 11. Oh well.

For the frosting:
3 c. confectioners’ sugar, sift if lumpy
1/4 c. Crisco
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk

In bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the Crisco, vanilla and salt. Alternately add milk and remaining sugar; mix until smooth and creamy. Add more sugar to thicken or milk to thin if needed for good spreading consistency. Frosts tops and sides of two 9-inch layers or one 9x13x2 inch cake.

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Posted in Baking, Cupcakes, Holiday, Sweet | 1 Comment »

I admit it, I’m a snob. There, I said it.

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 12, 2010

I bet half the bitches that hate me, or read this blog just to get some info on what’s going on in my life are thinking, wow, she really is a snob. Well, sorry to crumble your cookie girls, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Cookies. Chocolate chip to be exact.

I like to think I’m not addicted to any sweets (lie #1). I basically ate nothing but ice cream through my whole pregnancy with Madeline and wondered why I gained so much weight. Thank goodness for genetics is all I have to say about that (and my darling mother, the personal trainer). I got to a point when I was pregnant that my mother (and husband) basically had to pry the ice cream spoon out of my hands. I was addicted. Then there’s chocolate. For a few years, I was like Kyra Sedgwick’s character in The Closer. I had chocolate everywhere. It was in my desk at work, in my car, in my purse, briefcase, in the freezer. Hell, I even kept a bag of Dove chocolates in my nightstand (because the 12 steps to the kitchen was just too far). It’s been awhile since I’ve had chocolate in my nightstand. I like to think that was the coping with the stress of my job. Now I just keep it in the freezer… and there’s way less of it.

But, I’m not actually a huge dessert person. If I’m out to eat, I can actually just have a bite or two of whatever is there and be fine. My sweet tooth is satisfied. Cheesecake, chocolate cake… just a few bites are enough for me. Ice cream is a different story… I probably could never completely give that up. Same goes for chocolate chip cookies.

I literally could eat a box of chocolate chip cookies in a sitting, no question. Luckily, I’ve stopped myself before doing so, but I’ve definitely sat my ass down and gobbled up 10 or 12. Sometimes it’s while I watch the Biggest Loser. Sometimes I feel bad while doing it, but then I remember that once I feel my pants get tight, everything gets cut out for 3 weeks and suddenly, I’m even lighter than before I started (thanks again Mom, for the rocking metabolism). Anyway, they are my guiltiest pleasure ever. I appreciate them even more now, and here’s why-

After Madeline was born, before I even left the hospital, my mom and I agreed (well, she said she was going to help me so I had no choice basically!) that I would listen to her nutrition plan for 6 weeks to drop most of the weight I had gained and keep the nutrients I needed since I was nursing and needed extra calories. I agreed and figured I could do anything for 6 weeks. Besides, I’d just eaten probably a ton of ice cream in the last 6 months or so (the first 3 was nothing but Chinese food… gross, I know. don’t ask. I rarely go near it now). I was all set… then we walked in my door. My mom’s oldest sister sent me a box of cookies from Chip ‘N Dipped. Well, these darling things were the last thing I needed. But now there were 2 dozen of them in front of me. Giant chocolate chip cookies, half dipped in chocolate. Holy shit. Well, she packed up half of them right away. Then she told me everytime I lost 10 pounds I could have a cookie. That was it. I asked her right away if I could have 2 since I dropped almost 20 pounds just at the hospital. No dice. So I had no choice but to listen. I wanted those cookies. So I lost the weight and those cookies were every bit worth the wait. I would dream about them. I could give up a lot of things… never chocolate chip cookies.

Since then I have been trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I will be the first to admit I never had a lot of luck with baking cookies. Either my pan wasn’t right or the oven was too hot or the rack was too low, take your pick. When those things weren’t an issue, it was the recipe itself. I never got that “whoa” taste from cookies I’d baked at home. I’m very picky about my cookies. I like them to have a bit of crispiness around the edges with a softer middle that leave you craving a huge glass of milk. Well, I found them. Finally. Not only did I find the perfect recipe, but my oven decided to work wonderfully, my racks were way at the top, and the cookies were literally perfection. I ate one right out of the oven and two more once they cooled. I’m ready to polish off about 10 more, but it’s almost midnight so I’m thinking that’s not the smartest idea. So, if you’re a cookie person, these are definitely for you.

World’s best chocolate chip cookies

You’ll need:

2 eggs
1 (12 oz bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

You’ll have to:

First, mix together flour and baking soda and set aside.
Cream butter, white and brown sugar, vanilla and water in electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture a little at a time. Mix well until creamy. (You’ll want to make sure there are no lumps, but don’t overbeat… overbeating releases glutens in the flour and makes everything starchy and glumpy and weird). Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
Make little round balls, about 1 tsp apiece, and place onto well greased cookie sheet (I use Pam for Baking). Place on top rack in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove immediately from pans and cool on wire racks.

This recipe makes 36 cookies. Now, there’s nothing wrong with 36 cookies, except that I’d eat every single one of them. I halved the recipe and got 20 cookies.

They’re delicious– Even Madeline thought so when she tried to taste the cookie batter…..(or as she would say, “mmm….a-wishous!”)

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Miscellaneous, Musings, Quick, Sweet | Leave a Comment »

Superbowl (of food) Sunday…

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 10, 2010

Well, I’m a bit behind, of course. As noted in my last post, things are going to be changing around here in the next few weeks, so I’d ask those of you that do read to hang in there until they’re all finished. Posting is probably going to be slightly limited, only because I am one person and only have so many hours in a day to get shit done. I’ll do my best to have things go smoothly, but that’s never a sure thing with me. Ha.

So, Superbowl Sunday. My take on it? I usually don’t watch football during the season. I did in college because I would probably have been thrown out of my house if I wasn’t cheering for the resident team, our NY Giants (or Cattie’s Steelers). So, my Sunday’s in college consisted of beer and food, and whatever game happened to be on tv. We’re pretty much a baseball house. But, if an NY team happens to make it to the playoffs, will I watch? Maybe. Brett’s stepdad is a Giants fan as well, so if we’re up there on a Sunday, chances are that game is on.

Now, one of my closest, dearest, best friends is a New Orleans native. We have gone back and forth over the 10 years we’re friends, I should move south, she should move north… neither is likely, especially now that we have 2 feet of snow dumped on us and she’s what you would call a “tropical people.” I was glued to the tv during Katrina and the storms that have hit since, worrying about her and her family – since we’re friends we’ve been through quite a bit, husbands, children, and a whole lotta crap. I love her dearly. Anyway, her Saints made (and have since won, in case you’ve been living under a rock) the Superbowl. Of course I was happy for her – and my dad, who lived in NO for quite a few years, was beyond thrilled. Plus, I’m an Emeril fan. So we set out to cheer on the Saints and watch the game. Brett’s friend moved back into PA about a week or so ago from AZ, and it was an understatement that Brett was happy to have him back. So he came up for dinner (I made my Shepherd’s Pie at Brett’s request) and we enjoyed some snacks. I didn’t go overboard since Brett’s trying to eat a little healthier since we’ve started working out together. I made my famous 7 layer taco dip (more healthy than the other option, buffalo chicken dip) and I made wings. Baked, not fried, so slightly better, but I left the skin on. Yum. So, if you’re throwing a party, these are easy and yummy. Enjoy!

7 layer taco dip

You need:

9″ or 10″ pie plate
taco sauce or salsa 2-3 tablespoons
refried beans (1 can)
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
taco seasoning envelope
chopped tomatoes
chopped scallions
sliced olives
cheddar/jack cheeses

Mix one can refried beans with 2-3 tablespoons of salsa or taco sauce and spread into bottom of pie plate. In a seperate dish, stir together sour cream and mayo. Spread on top of bean mixture. Layer 1/2 envelope of taco seasoning. Cover dish with shredded cheddar/jack cheese and top with chopped scallions, tomatoes, and olives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Homemade buffalo wings

First get:
30 chicken wings
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup hot sauce (like RedHot)

Then:
Take flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt and mix in large ziploc bag. Drop wings into bag and shake to coat. Remove wings. On large baking sheet, place tinfoil then spray with cooking spray. Place wings on cooking sheet and refrigerate for one hour.

Remove wings from fridge. In small saucepan, combine butter and hot sauce. Add tabasco if needed. I added some honey and 2 tbs brown sugar because I thought it needed a little zing. Coat wings in sauce and place on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, turning wings halfway through.

Posted in Appetizer, Baking, Chicken, Dinner, Holiday, Meat, Miscellaneous, Quick, Vegetables | 1 Comment »

ch-ch-changes…

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 6, 2010

Well, it’s been a wonderful first month of 2010! Blogging is great, family is wonderful, and the kitchen smells fantastic! I must say, the craziness is wonderful and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, instead of trying to slow down, we’re going full steam ahead. Between home, school, family and everything in between, I’ve decided to throw some more fun into the mix! Stay tuned for some great updates and some new appearances for this blog in the coming weeks!

In the meantime, I will still be posting some recipes – especially this next week with the Superbowl (go Saints!) tomorrow and Valentine’s day and lots of playdates coming… be sure your cabinets are stocked – we’re going to be cooking fools!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Musings, Quick | 1 Comment »

Cinna-who?

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 4, 2010

So, last week I attempted to make a coffee cake. It was delicious, although not very aesthetically pleasing. It looked really funny. I put the crumb topping on before I put it into the oven. When I took the cake out, it had disappeared! It sank into the cake. Now don’t get me wrong, it was really yummy. The crumbs were scattered throughout the cake so when you took a bite, it was a pleasant surprise. Next time (and after next time I’ll post the recipe) I’d probably let it bake and put the topping 10 minutes or so before it was done. Live and learn. Anyway, I got to thinking about things I’d like to try and make. Everytime I go to the mall, I walk past Cinnabon and my mouth waters. But- 4 bucks for a cinnamon roll? Come on. So I thought, I could do these. I found a recipe and went to work. I was surprised at how easy it was to do, considering I am not super experienced with working with yeast.

Now, a few things first. I halved the recipe. This is for the FULL recipe. I didn’t need that many because, well, I didn’t know how they were going to turn out, but mostly, I didn’t have that much flour left in the house. I am running VERY low. If you’re going to half the recipe, make sure you use a baking calculator like this one. Anyway, here’s the original recipe:

You will need:

2 cups of warm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons dry yeast (or two packages of dry yeast)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Canola oil (I use Canola, but you can use any kind of cooking oil) (you can also use shortening, if you prefer)
6 to 7 cups of flour

Then you:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit for a minute or two. Add the sugar and salt. Mix. Add the cooking oil (or shortening), 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth.
Stir in 3 more cups of flour. Begin kneading the dough, adding the final cup of flour. If the dough seems too sticky, knead in more flour, a quarter to a half cup at a time.
Let the dough “rest” for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll the dough into a rectangle that’s 24 to 30 inches long by about 16 inches wide. Spread with soft butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the wide end, roll into a log.
Cut the cinnamon rolls into equal sized slices (approximately one inch wide each or slightly more) and place into two greased 9×13 pans. Put in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown).
Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out of the pans.
This recipes makes two dozen cinnamon rolls. If you want REALLY BIG cinnamon rolls, cut into 12 equal pieces 2 inches wide.
Total amount of time needed from start to finish (including time to bake) is about 2 hours.

Okay, now my edits. These were good, but a few things. Nowhere does it say how much butter you should use. I melted 1/2 stick and painted the dough with it. Eh. I would probably use more, and just let it get soft and spread it to get a thicker coat. I would say 3/4 stick for a 1/2 recipe to give you an idea of how much. Now, the consistency of these were great. They looked good, they were a great size. My only issue was the dough wasn’t really sweet. It needed something else – icing. Now, I was running late to bring these to a playdate so I did the only thing I know how to do – improvise. I grabbed the other half of the stick of butter, threw it in a small saucepan to melt. I added maybe a capful or so of vanilla and some confectioner’s sugar (roughly 1/2 cup or so) and whisked it together. It tasted pretty good… a little thick so I just put a few drops of milk in to loosen it up and poured it over the rolls. PERFECT. They were delicious. I’ve been picking at them for the last couple of days here and there.. throwing them in the microwave and then eating them. Faboosh!

Normally, this is where I would post a picture of these delicious creatures. However, my daughter has managed to break pieces off of each one and it’s now one big cinnamon cakey-thing in the tupperware. I should have snapped a pic before I dashed out of the house, but, live and learn. Next time, I promise. If it’s any consolation to any of you, they looked amazing.

This is a recipe that even the most novice can do. The most important part is to be patient and let the yeast rise as needed or they will come out tasting like bricks. Good luck!!

Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Sweet | Leave a Comment »