Vegetarian Couscous

I. Love. Couscous. It seems like such a simple thing, but it always adds so much to a meal. While it is so great on it's own, I'm always trying to find ways to spice it up and bring it into its much-deserved spotlight rather than leaving it as a measly side dish. Unfortunately, I'm not as good at improvising with cooking as I am with baking so I've had a lot of failed attempts (my apologies to my friends and family who have been victims of this...and to the couscous I've ruined). Last night, however, I was feeling ambitious and went for a new strategy...which actually worked?...and was really good? Yeah. Weird. Anyways, here's my recipe for Vegetarian Couscous!

Quick side note: I had just got back from a run when I made this so I wasn't really feeling like doing a ton of dishes. Because of this, I didn't actually measure any of the ingredients used-the following are plain guess-timates.

2/3 box of couscous
1 cube of vegetable bouillon plus 2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons olive oil
ground cumin, to taste (I used a lot)
1/2 roma tomato, cubed
2/3 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen spinach

1. Pour 2/3 box of dry couscous in a large bowl.
2. Boil 2 cups of water and add 1 cube of vegetable bouillon. Stir until cube is completely dissolved.
3. Once bouillon cube is completely dissolved, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Continue stirring while you add ground cumin. I wouldn't add too much to begin with-you can always add more later! :)
4. Stir in chickpeas and tomato. Let the mixture sit for a 2-3 minutes while you struggle to break off some frozen spinach.
5. Stir in the frozen spinach. I didn't defrost the spinach beforehand because the boiling mixture broke it down almost immediately. That and defrosting actually requires planning ahead.
6. Once spinach is cooked and well incorporated, pour the boiling mixture over your dry couscous. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

Don't judge me for actually watching the couscous absorb the liquid. It's cool!

Remove the plastic wrap, stir, and enjoy-I chose to do so with a big cup of my favorite tea!

I'm Back!

Obviously last semester wasn't the most successful on the blogging front...guess that means I was being a good student? Anyways, I'm back and hoping to blog a little more this semester-starting with my most recent baking adventure. I made these the for the first time a few months back, but they're always a hit so I decided to make'em again! So here are some new photos for my Cookie Dough Cupcakes! I was pretty busy the day I made these, so I picked up some Betty Crocker frosting at the market on my way home--still super good!


Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Cupcakes

For those of you who are expert puzzle do-ers and possibly fluent in pig latin, you probably caught on to my last hint. And no, you didn't understand it wrong---Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Cupcakes are REAL. Yeah, I know. NOM. My coworker Charlie showed me the recipe at work Sunday morning and I was determined to make them. As everyone knows, it's Shark Week, and what goes better with Shark Week than Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Cupcakes? Nothing. Soooo, here was my contribution to Shark Week Dinner 2011 edition!

Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Cupcakes 
Homemade Fudge Sauce (making this first will allow it to cool as you make the cupcake batter) 
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Hot Fudge Cupcakes
1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup homemade fudge sauce
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
2/3 cup peanut butter
2.5-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
pinch of salt

Step 1: Homemade Fudge Sauce
-Combine sugar, cocoa, salt, and flour in a pot.
-Bring water to a boil. Gradually add hot boiling water to sugar/cocoa mixture.
-*Continuously* stir until mixture thickens.
-Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
-Leave in pot and let cool as you make the cupcake batter! :)
Step 2: Hot Fudge Cupcakes
- Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
-In a bowl, whisk egg and brown sugar until smooth.
-Add milk, whipping cream, butter, and vanilla--mix until combined.
-Stir in sour cream.
-In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. When well combined, add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth.
-Prepare a cupcake pan with liners and using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to each cup. Swirl in fudge sauce at the top of each cupcake.
-Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool before frosting.
Step 3: Peanut Butter Frosting
-Cream butter and peanut butter together in a large bowl.
-Gradually add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.Mix until frosting is smooth.
-If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar.
-When cupcakes are cooled, poke a small hole in the center using a knife. Using a pastry bag (or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off if you're cheap like me :P), slowly fill the cupcake with the peanut butter frosting
-Once filled, frost the top of the cupcakes and drizzle with the remaining hot fudge sauce. :)

Shark week, oooh-ha-ha!---->(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krdFR5a6a5o)

Plans for my next cupcake adventure?! Mixing Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Cupcakes and Cookie Dough cupcakes! Awwwww yeahhh :) Rich hot fudge chocolate batter from these cupcakes with the dough from my favorite cookie recipe screams winning all over. I don't have a twitter, but if I did I'd say something along the lines of #soooopumped...but I don't. So I guess I'm just really excited! :)

"You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true - anyone can cook... but only the fearless can be great." -Chef Gusteau

Cookie Dough Cupcakes :)

I'm realizing that the further I get into this blog, the more and more it turns into a food blog--specifically a baking blog. Not exactly a bad thing...nor is it really surprising. Anyways, I've been finding myself with a lot of free alone time these past couple weeks which has been amazing. It has given me time to think, relax, and most importantly concoct some pretty delicious things in my little kitchen :)  Last Friday, for instance,  I perfected a recipe that I tried for the first time a few months ago; cookie dough cupcakes. Originally I had followed the directions for these cupcakes and used box mixes for both the cake batter and cookie batter. It almost killed me but I didn't have the time or ingredients to do either :'( They were good, but not right. SO, I made them again for a tailgating party with my coworkers (my first Brewers game!) and they turned out much better :)

^^^^there's cookie dough inside there^^^^ :O

Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Step 1: Cookie Dough
*Make this in advance! Waiting the hour for the dough to freeze can be rough!
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
-Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt; set aside.
-Mix the softened butter and sugars in a large bowl until smooth.
-Add the egg and the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
-Mix in the flour mixture, just blended.
-Fold in the chocolate chips; mixing just enough to evenly combine. 
-Form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Place onto a baking sheet, and freeze until solid (about an hour).
Step 2: Basic Yellow Cake
*Perfect for a double layer round cake too :)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Line cupcake pan with paper baking cups.
-In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mixing well.
-In a small bowl mix together the milk and vegetable oil. Add the milk and vegetable oil mixture as well as the softened butter and vanilla to the dry flour mixture.
-Add the eggs and continue mixing until well blended.
-Pour into prepared cupcake pans, filling each about 2/3 of the way full. Place a frozen cookie dough ball on top and press it down slightly into the batter.
-Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted (not in the center--avoid stabbing the cookie dough) comes out clean.
-Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then place on wire racks and cool completely...or eat immediately ;)

I made another amazing batch of cupcake last night, but I'm exhausted and have to be up early tomorrow (eeek, today? :/) for a shift. Buuut here's a hint; eanutpay utterbay othay udgefay upcakescay. Riddle me that.
"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude." -Julia Child


Banana Crumb Amazingness

I came back from the grocery store last week with a massive bunch of bananas, positive that I could eat them all with no problem. Problem. I also came back with pounds of strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and apples. Literally, POUNDS. When does that ever happen for a college student? When her parents come to visit of course! :) So, long story short, the bananas started to grow those little brown spots. Small note: I will not eat a banana that is, what others call, ripe. It has to still be a little green for me to come near it. Anyways, I didn't have a bread pan for banana bread, so I decided to try out banana muffins! I usually am not a big fan of muffins, but these turned out great---got good reviews at work as well :)

  • -1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • -1 teaspoon baking soda
  • -1 teaspoon baking powder
  • -1/2 teaspoon salt
  • -3 bananas, mashed
  • -3/4 cup white sugar
  • -1 egg, slightly beaten
  • -1/3 cup olive oil (can be substituted with melted butter)
  • -1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • -2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • -1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • -1 tablespoon butter

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
    2. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or line with muffin papers.
    3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, and olive oil. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.
    4. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
    5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
    6. Enjoy!!! :)

Getting Started

After a lot of struggling through accidentally creating a blog in Spanish, I'm finally starting to figure things out! While blogging was originally an attempt at keeping everyone up to date with my travels (that fell through the cracks...oops), I'm now hoping that it will be a fun new way to stay connected with people...aaaaand post recipes that I've been dying to try/things that are making me happy at the moment. :) We'll see how this goes! :)

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -Sally Berger