October 2013

browned-butter-pumpkin-creep-cakes

My goal was to accomplish two things this weekend: make something that involved canned pumpkin, and make cupcakes that I could call Creep Cakes. Done and done.  Do you see that mummy towards the back? Yes that’s a mummy.  We are all ready for Halloween at the Braley household.

 

Why Creep Cakes, you ask? Two reasons: 1) the name makes me giggle, and 2) a ‘creep’ isn’t really defined as anything other than something that’s creepy. So really there are no standards or expectations of what a Creep Cake should look like (i.e., you can get away with sub-par decorating skills).
Onto the recipe…these have to be the best pumpkin cupcakes ever. I modified the recipe from this site, to include applesauce, more spices, and some extra flour. I also used a maple cream cheese frosting rather than the salted caramel.  The browned butter in here provides a wonderfully nutty flavor that complements the pumpkin and spices perfectly.  I think. I don’t really have any formal training that allows me to say that with total authority.

Cupcake Recipe

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Frosting Recipe

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325. Brown the butter by melting it in a fry pan over medium-low heat until golden brown. Skim off some of the foam on top, then add to a large mixing bowl. Cream with the sugars, then add in the eggs and vanilla. Beat several minutes. Add the pumpkin and applesauce.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Incorporate into the butter mixture.  Fill a muffin tin with liners, then pour in the batter so each one is about 3/4 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Let cool.

To make the frosting, beat all ingredients until smooth. For a thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar.  If you want to turn them into Creep Cakes (and why wouldn’t you),  you can use a variety of candies/decorators to turn them into witches, ghosts, bats, and unidentifiable creatures. I found that I excelled in the unidentifiable creature category.  Colored sprinkles, M&Ms, black licorice, and colored gel pens were my key tools.  Oh and I used the white mystery Airhead for the mummy.  Which, now that I think of it, probably tastes really horrific on a pumpkin cupcake. Oh well, the future eater can remove them.

If Creep Cakes aren’t your style, or perhaps you are serving these somewhere that requires a bit more class, a simple dusting of sugary sprinkles will do the trick.

Banana Spice Cookies

banana-spice-cookies

Do I have too many banana-related recipes on this blog? Sorry. I easily fall into banana, corn, and potato ruts. They really suck me in. And I always have ripe bananas on Sundays that are calling my name, literally. I don’t know how they do it.

These are soft, fluffy, and puffy cookies. I am in love with them.  They taste like banana bread in the form of a cookie, with a hint of fall spice.  I modified the recipe from Simply Recipes, a cooking website that has yet to lead me astray. I think because she sometimes uses the term ‘test kitchen.’  Test kitchen??? My test kitchen is my kitchen. And now that I’ve said kitchen 4 times I’m realizing what a funny word that is. Kitchen.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cream the butter and sugars together, then beat in the egg, vanilla, and bananas. In a separate bowl mix the flour, spices, and baking soda. Mix into the sugar mixture just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 11 minutes.

Chili

chili

I miss the days when chili was just chili. There was one version. Mom was making chili for dinner, and you knew exactly what you were getting.  Now, there are 1,456,999 chili recipes and they all claim to be the best. You need to add hot sauce, make it with turkey, add some beer, use maple syrup, include a pinch of sugar, and the list goes on. Googling chili recipes is about as overwhelming as pinterest. What the $%#@ am I supposed to make?

So I decided to make a basic ground beef chili, and I just added ingredients that I thought would taste good. I added a beer because I like how beer/wine smells when it’s cooking, I added a teaspoon of cocoa powder because I like chocolate, I added the corn flour because I like thicker soups, and I added corn because John made me. You will also notice the absence of beans. We don’t like them.  And other than that the recipe is pretty standard. We both scraped our bowls clean and went back for seconds, so I think it’s pretty good. I won’t tell you it’s THE BEST, because I don’t want to send you on the emotional roller coaster that I went through choosing this ingredient combo. But, we really liked it and will probably continue making it this way just so I never have to google the word ‘chili’ again.

Recipe

  • 2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can beer
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1/4 cup corn flour 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (can use up to 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot, brown the beef.  Add in the chopped onion and continue to cook for a few more minutes.  Pour in the beer, and simmer for about 10 minutes or so, then add the tomato sauces. In a separate bowl, whisk together the corn flour and water; stir it into the chili to let it thicken. Add in the corn and all remaining ingredients.  Let simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream.  We ate this with John’s famous Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

 

Favorite Singapore Eats

Hi! I’m back from the far East. And while I haven’t really been cooking, I have definitely been eating. There are soooo many great restaurants in Singapore, which is sort of shocking given that I think that the average weight of a skinny-minny Singaporean is probably 80 lbs.  And while I like to say that they just lucked out in the gene pool, I caught myself at a wonderful Italian restaurant called Garibaldi eating this:
Pistachio flan…

And Parmigiana di Melanzane (Neopolitan baked eggplant with mozzarella, basil & tomato sauce)…

And Fettucine Pomodoro…

While the Singaporean next to me ate soup. Just soup. So not such a big mystery after all. I was taking lots of pictures of my food though so I’m hoping everyone assumed I was a food critic and not a piggy American.  Anyway, the food was fantastic.  Delicious, authentic, perfect Italian cuisine. And a beautiful restaurant in a really fun area.

I also had another wonderful dinner at a place called Indochine along the Singapore river.  

Beautiful restaurant and amazing patio on the water,  and I never knew I liked Indo-Chinese food so much. In fact I didn’t even know that was a cuisine.  But it includes these delicious stir fried noodles with prawns (called Mee Khmer):

And this view…

Then on to my faaaaavorite restaurant I have been to in Singapore, House Cafe on Dempsey Hill. 

Look at that patio! Of course no one was eating out there because it’s always 105 degrees in Singapore with 100% humidity.  It’s a nice thought though.  

The whole Dempsey Hill area is apparently very popular for Saturday/Sunday brunch, complete with mimosa and bloody mary specials. And in the case of this restaurant, an entire menu of french fry variations (if you can see it peering through my glass of wine):

I tried two, the truffle zucchini fries and the sweet potato niblets.

To go along with my eggs benedict.

If you’re seeing a theme of over ordering here, you’re right. I can only tell you that when you’re eating alone for so many meals in a row, food is your friend. So is wine.

I showed a little more restraint when I ate at Club Street Social the next day, which is a cute trendy little restaurant tucked away on a mini side street. I had a great caprese sandwich with prosciutto. And that’s it.

And finally, I topped off my tour-de-eating with a cozy little french bistro &Made by celebrity chef Bruno Menard. 

I had a delicious salmon sandwich with dill-mustard-tartar sauce and THE BEST FRENCH FRIES EVER – served with chipotle-bbq-ketchup.  Great idea, Bruno.

And there ends my all-you-can-eat weekend in Singapore. I felt quite accomplished, actually. I hit a lot of Singapore hotspots and had some really great meals.  In my mind there’s no better way to enjoy another country than to enjoy their food. Luckily I enjoy the hotel gym, too.

loaded-baked-potato-casserole
Are my potato recipes getting redundant? I don’t apologize. I love them, and so does my husband.
We’re the Braleys, and we’re addicted to loaded baked potatoes.
What’s another way to eat a loaded baked potato? Slice them into mini pieces and BAKE THEM IN A SOUR CREAM SAUCE. And top with bacon, cheese, and chives.
Sour Cream sauce
3 large baking potatoes
1/2 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cup milk
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh chives
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
~1-2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese
~1/2 cup cooked bacon bits
Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the potatoes into very thin slices (as thin as you can without chopping off your fingers).  Spray a baking dish with Pam, lay the potatoes slices upright (I did three rows of slices so it looked like 3 whole potatoes side-by-side), then add in the onion slices between every few potatoes slices. Drizzle with olive oil, then S&P to taste.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a skillet, then whisk in the flour.  Reduce the heat to low.  Pour in the milk (I used skim), and whisk to combine. Turn off the heat.  Add in the sour cream, and continue to whisk to get rid of the lumps.  Stir in the chives and salt.  Season to taste.  Pour the sauce over the potatoes.
Bake for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are fork tender.  Top with cheese, bacon, and more chives, then return to the oven to melt.