Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Corn And Black Bean Salad

As the weather starts to really heat up outside, I felt it was time to share with you this refreshingly cool, tasty salad. Black beans and corn tossed with a little cider vinegar and cilantro... this salad is delicious and addicting! Matt and I love this dish, and I love to make it during the summer months. It is the perfect side for any backyard cookout; and if you serve it with a bowl of baked scoops, you'll have yourself a perfect appetizer that your friends and family will love to munch on.
Try it... and I'm certain you'll love it as much as we do! :)

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 cans of corn (White, Yellow and Mexicorn), drained and rinsed
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Ground red pepper (or paprika) to taste

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cilantro, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Add corn, beans, onion and red pepper; gently mix to combine all ingredients. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Can be stored up to three days in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mario Bros (Chocolate) Cake

Life, where are you going? You're whizzing right by me everyday! Sometimes I wake up and think, wait a second... where have the past few years gone? Life, slow down! You're going by way too fast!!

My nephew's birthday was this past weekend, and I'm baffled at the fact that he is now eight years old! I remember the day he was born... I remember getting the call from my sister saying her first little baby was here and then rushing up to the hospital to hold him in my arms. I was in such awe over him! I was delighted to finally be an aunt!! But now, my little buddy isn't a baby anymore... He's now a super inquisitive, extremely bright, creative and funny little man who loves video games! :) So for his birthday party, I made this deliciously chocolate Mario Bros cake. 
I went with the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake recipe. The flavor was chosen (without hesitation) by the birthday boy himself. The Hershey recipe is super easy, super moist, and super delicious! Yum and fun... What more can a kid ask for? :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Deviled Eggs

My family members are huge fans of deviled eggs. I'm talking, huge fans! We love them. If ever there were a holiday where deviled eggs were not on the table, well... I'm really not sure what would happen. A holiday without deviled eggs is just unthinkable!
Typically, I make deviled eggs by adding a little of this and a little of that to the filling... tasting... then adding a little more of this and a little extra of that. So when I made a batch for Easter, I decided to measure out my ingredients and lock these down to a written recipe. They are delicious! And their presence will continue to grace the table at our holiday meals. Obviously, you don't have to wait for the next holiday to roll around before you crank out some tasty deviled eggs (because I definitely won't be waiting!). So whenever you're ready, here you go!

Yields 36 deviled eggs
18 large eggs
2/3 cup light mayo
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper 

Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with water. On the stove-top, bring water to a boil over high heat.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water, and transfer eggs to the bowl to let cool for about 5 minutes.

Once eggs have cooled, crack and peel them. Cut eggs lengthwise down the center. Remove yolks and place in a small mixing bowl,  and arrange egg whites on a serving dish. Add mayo, mustard, pickle relish, salt and pepper to the bowl of yolks. Using a fork, mash ingredients together until well combined and smooth. Spoon filling into the hollow center of the eggs. (I placed filling in a piping tube fitted with a star tip for a fancier presentation.) Sprinkle with paprika.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Strawberry-Vanilla Cupcakes filled with White Chocolate Ganache

Vanilla cupcakes...

Filled with white chocolate ganache...

Topped with a delightful strawberry buttercream frosting...

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about these springtime beauties. :)

My hubby called me at work a couple weeks ago because his office announced a bake sale they were hosting to raise money for Relay for Life. "Would you want to bake something for it?" he asked. Hmm, would I want to bake something... absolutely, yes! Would I want to bake something to help raise money for a great cause... most definitely, yes!! After hanging up the phone, I instantly started brainstorming what to bake. The sale was categorized as a Spring Bake Sale, so I immediately thought of strawberries. I figured cupcakes would be a nice addition to any dessert table, so I went with it... I decided to make vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting. It wasn't until the day before baking that I decided to add a little extra sweetness by filling them with ganache. White chocolate and strawberries - YUM!
Since people were going to purchase the cupcakes, I didn't want to get too experimental. I made vanilla cupcakes which I've made before because I knew they were tasty. I doubled the recipe, so that I would have 24 cupcakes, and used 4 large eggs (instead of separating a lot of yolks). I ventured out with the frosting and tweaked it until I found just the right flavor (delightful!). The frosting was definitely my favorite part of these cupcakes! Now I'm on a mission to find the perfect strawberry cake to go along with it. :)
These cupcakes were so delicious! It was hard to part with all of them. Matt came home with great feedback from his office, so I know I'm not the only one who swooned over these babies. :) This is an excellent dessert for any springtime party. Whip up a batch, and your friends won't leave until they've finished off the last one. So tasty! 

Below are the recipes for the ganache and frosting...

Yields enough frosting and ganache for 24 cupcakes
1/4 cup whipping cream
4 oz white chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
4 oz fresh strawberry puree
2 tbsp whipping cream

For the ganache... Place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small sauce pan, bring cream to a boil. Pour boiling cream over chocolate; let stand for a couple of minutes. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate to thicken. 

For the frosting... In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer to low speed. Gradually add in 3 cups of sugar, and mix until well blended. Add vanilla, strawberry puree, and whipping cream; blend until well combined. Gradually add (up to) an additional cup of sugar until you reach your desired consistency. 

To assemble cupcakes... cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of the cupcakes. Gently cut off the tip of the cone. Fill the cupcake by spooning the ganache into the center of the cake. Replace the top of the cone over the filling. Frost cupcakes.

Source: frosting adapted from My Baking Addiction, ganache adapted from Martha Stewart

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