Cupcake Fondue and Finale Party!

I had been waiting to make this ever since I saw it in How Sweet It Is‘s blog. But it’s not exactly the type of thing I’d just make for myself. It also seemed kinda complicated to bring into the office. Perfect for a finale party though! A couple weeks ago P and C came over to watch the Fringe finale! Olivia vs. Fauxlivia! Chocolate ganache vs. vanilla buttercream vs. sugar glaze! A battle of worlds =) For the toppings I just grabbed some stuff out of the pantry; an array of sprinkles, nuts, cookie crumbs, crushed banana chips and coconut. The pantry is a little out of control, I know.

Vanilla buttercream with sprinkles…

Buttercream with cookie crumbs…

Chocolate ganache with bananas! (My favorite combo)

Ingredients:

Vanilla Cupcakes via Cupcakeblog:

  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1¼ cups almond milk

Chocolate Ganache via Cupcakeblog:

  • 10 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup Silk Creamer
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TB buttery stick
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup buttery sticks
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with wrappers.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar together in another large bowl. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients until completely combined. Fill cups 2/3’s full and bake 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

For the ganache, chop chocolate if not already small and put in a heat proof bowl. In a small sauce pan, heat cream on medium heat until small bubbles form around the edge. Pour cream on chocolate, let sit for a minute and then combine. Add in vanilla and butter. Beat in powdered sugar until creamy.

For the buttercream, beat butter and shortening until fluffy. Add in sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. To make the buttercream dip-able you’ll need to beat in a fair amount of milk. Start with 1/4 cup and add as much as needed.

Enjoy!

Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Kabobs with Double Goodness Tomato Soup

Before jet-setting to Miami, the girls and I made a Target trip to get our vacation essentials. They got toiletries in 3 oz. or less… I got the Fun Stuff Silly Snacks cookbook. Logical. (Side-note: I also got Fun Stuff Cupcakes. May have a problem here) One of the first entries in the “Reinvented Classics” chapter was Grilled Cheese Kabobs.

I had always been afraid to make grilled “cheese”. What would it taste like? Fake cheese in small amounts is usually fine because I mix it with other things and it’s close enough in taste to satisfy my craving. But a whole sandwich? That’s a lot of fake cheese! Enter daiya. I had been hearing good things ever since Amy’s started using it. After some hesitation I decided to give it a go and… WOW. Just wow. Never have I tasted something that brought me back to pre-lactose-intolerant Joanna.

Always searching for ways to add in vegetables I modified this grilled cheese from Closet Cooking and paired it with some Double Goodness Tomato Soup.
Serves 4.

Ingredients:

Grilled Cheese:

Spinach Pesto:

  • 1 cup baby spinach (packed)
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 TB walnuts
  • 1/4 cup silken tofu
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon (juice and zest)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Tomato Soup:

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB earth balance natural buttery spread
  • 1 large leek, chopped and washed
  • 20 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 14.5 oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter on low heat. Stir in leeks and cook until leeks are soft but not turning brown, 3-4 min. Add in sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, and water and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 min.

While the soup is cooking, you can make the pesto for the sandwich. It’s really easy! Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. Done!

After the 15 minutes is up, remove the soup from heat, and puree with an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Now time for the sandwich! Heat a grill pan on low. For each sandwich assemble 2 slices of bread, 1 TB butter, 3 TB pesto, and 1/4 cup mozzarella. Grill about 7 min each side or until cheese is nice and gooey. To make kabobs cut into 1-in. squares and skewer. I liked the idea of having bite-sized sandwich pieces to dip in the soup, but easily could’ve just dipped the whole thing =).

Tequila Lime Chicken with Cheesy Spanish Rice and Cucumber Tomato Salad

H taught me how to make lime chicken and cheesy rice. I would visit her all the time in college and even crashed on her futon for a summer when she lived in Fenway. Hot nights, cheers from the game, BigBucket Strawberry Margarita mix, and lime chicken. Legendary.

H’s recipe is a little different than this one from Ina Garten, but after seeing that Ina added tequila, I couldn’t help myself… I had to try it! I’m sure in college discarding booze in a marinade seemed unthinkable. College me also would’ve been just fine with tequila, chicken, and carbs but these days I try to be a balanced adult… sometimes =)

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup gold tequila
  • 1 cup lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Rice:
Cucumber Tomato Salad:
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped,
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice from 2-3 limes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the marinade, combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and refrigerate at least a few hours, but overnight if you have the time.

Similarly with the ingredients for the salad, put together the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, beans, corn, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl and refrigerate a couple of hours to overnight. This is key though still good if served immediately.

When the chicken is ready, fire up the grill (or grill pan in my case to medium heat). College us had a George Foreman, but it was always SO hard to clean! I think they make money on people buying a new one every year.

You’ll want to start the rice at this time too because it takes about 25-30 min to cook. Prepare rice as directed. Five minutes before the rice is done, add in the cheese alternative and mix it around allowing the cheese to melt.

Once the grill is hot, cook the chicken for 4 min on each side and then repeat. This is my dad’s rule for chicken and it always works for him. Sometimes it works for me and sometimes H catches me frantically jumping up and down unable to reach the fire alarm. Hopefully it’ll work for you too =)