Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Date Night Dinner: Saucy Southwestern Lobster Rolls

You won't believe how hard it is to find "New England style" hot dog rolls the weekend of Memorial Day (or, as the young kids are calling it these days, I'm told "MDW").  Yes, I'm an old lady.  Anyway, when I get something in my head, I want it and I am hard pressed to let it go.  Gosh, I really am an old lady!  And when I got the invitation to join Saucy Mama's recipe contest which can qualify you for the World Food Championships, I knew just what I wanted to make.

It had a lot to do with the fact that John and I couldn't be in Maine this weekend, despite our original desire to.  Last weekend, I got a late-Friday night call that put me on a plane to Vegas 24 hours later for a 48 hour no-sleep, back-to-back meeting packed trip.  Needless to say, by the time I took the redeye back Tuesday night and made it into work Wednesday morning, no one wanted a lazy weekend more than me.  As consideration to the man that put's up with this crazy work schedule I have, I decided lobster rolls were just the thing to make him forget about a missed holiday.  

As you all know from the MANY times I have tried to win Saucy Mama's contest, she is certainly a difficult nut to crack!  But if there's anything that's ever had a shot...it's this lobster roll.  Deliciously saucy, I actually make mayonnaise from the Lime-Chipotle Marinade!  John told me not to tell his mom, or any "true" Mainer that I was twisting up their lobster roll but the first thing he said after eating it was "can we make them again?".  Maine, converted to the Saucy Mama way.

You can win three of your own Saucy Mama products, too!  The Grand Prize Winner will be able to choose 3 products on the list here:  http://barhyte.com/contests/.  To enter, tweet @SaucyMamaCafe and @GrowingFoodie about your favorite product and your dream dinner / meal with it.  We'll use random.org to pick the winner on Friday, May 30th.  Get tweeting!
Saucy Southwestern Lobster Rolls
Serves:  4
Saucy Lime-Chipotle Mayo:
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoon Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard
1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade
1 lime, zested, parts reserved for juice

Lobster Roll
12 ounces lobster meat, cooked, cooled, and roughly chopped*
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, thinly sliced
4 New England-Style hot dog buns
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Saucy Lime-Chipotle Mayo:  Using a food processor or hand blender, combine egg yolk, Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard, and 1 tablespoon of the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade.  Blend well.  Then, beat in canola oil, drop by drop, until the mixture starts to come together.  Then, drizzle in the rest of the oil in a very thin but steady stream.  Beat in 1/3 cup of the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade and lime zest.  Beat well and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss lobster meat, red bell pepper, jalapeno, red onion, and cilantro.  Add the Saucy Lime-Chipotle Mayo and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Meanwhile, brush melted butter on the outsides of the hot dog buns.  Grill or bake at 350 degrees about 3-5 minutes per side, until toasted.  Stuff the buns carefully and evenly with the lobster mixture.  Evenly distribute lime juice over the top of each lobster roll right before serving.  Enjoy immediately!

*You can also use frozen lobster meat making sure to drain thoroughly so there is no excess water in the lobster salad

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Copycat Hostess Cupcakes

Sometimes the stars align and everything you want to do happens so seamlessly you have to admit there is something bigger at work.  That's the story of my faux-stess cupcakes.  You see, I've had my eye on them for a while.  I almost made them for Valentine's Day but thought that I could make them for an even better occasion - sister M's birthday!

Now as you all know, sister M is a major chocolate lover.  So the weekend after I got back from my European tour, it was time to celebrate sister M's birthday and I needed to make these cupcakes ASAP!  Or risk losing out on making them for an entire year, which my brain could not let myself comprehend.

Coincidentally, a woman in the office who is a special favorite of mine had her birthday the same weekend.  And, she loves two things - lemon and chocolate (not together, mind you).  Since I only had chocolate things in the house, I figured, why not double the recipe and make enough of these cupcakes for everyone.  And so, like a dream, I was able to fulfill birthday celebrations for two women in my life who I love.  And might I say, the birthday celebrations were delicious!
Copycat Hostess Cupcakes (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
Serves:  24 (24 cupcakes)
4 ounces dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup brewed coffee
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine chocolate chips and cocoa powder.  Pour hot coffee over the mixture and let sit for 2 minutes.  Whisk until smooth.  Transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla extract into the chocolate mixture.  Slowly add the flour mixture into the chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Divide the batter evenly into the prepared tins.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center come out clean.  Let cupcake cool completely.

Filling:  In a small saucepan, combine milk and flour.  Bring to a boil until mixture is thickened.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add cooled milk mixture and beat well.  Lastly, beat in vanilla and powdered sugar.  Mixture should be very white and fluffy.

Frosting: In a small saucepan, heat cream until bubbles form on the sides of the pan.  Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit.  Whisk until smooth.

Assembly:  Using a small paring knife, cut a hole into each cupcake.  Fill each cupcake evenly with filling, reserving 1/2 cup of filling for the top decorations.  Dip each cupcake into the frosting.  Set on a large platter.  Once frosting is slightly hardened (5-10 minutes), garnish the tops by piping leftover icing over the tops in a curlicue.  Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve (up to 5 days).

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Yellow Rum Cake

When my sister M and husband (?!) M came back from their honeymoon, they brought me something they knew I would love.  Authentic Jamaican rum.  Well, that was just too nice to drink all by myself, right?!  So, I had to turn it into something that I knew others would be able to enjoy with me.

When John and I went to Puerto Rico in 2013, and when I was in Puerto Rico in college, my dad always enjoyed me bringing home some Bacardi rum cakes!  It was fun to try to recreate the ones we enjoyed together.

I spent 2 whole days bathing the cake in some sugary rum syrup (that I might have put on French Toast too, please don't tell anyone!).  There's something very springlike about a cake like this - light and bursting with alcohol.  Hopefully just like our summer!
Yellow Rum Cake (adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Serves:  10 (1 bundt cake)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dry vanilla pudding mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup rum
2 teaspoons vanilla

Rum Syrup:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Liberally grease a bundt pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, butter, vanilla pudding mix, baking powder, vegetable oil, milk, and eggs.  Beat well until fully combined.  Blend rum and vanilla into the batter for 1-2 minutes.  Pour the batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

In a small saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients.  Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer cooking 5-8 minutes until the syrup thickens slightly.  Remove from heat.

When the cake is warm and still in the pan, prick with toothpicks all over.  Slowly spread about 1/4 of the syrup over the cake.  Let the syrup soak in and add another 1/4 of the syrup - let the cake sit at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Remove from the bundt pan and prick the other side with toothpicks, including the sides.  Spread another 1/4 of the syrup over the top of the cake.  Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining 1/4 of the syrup on the sides and top of the cake.  Cover with plastic wrap to keep the cake moist until serving.

Keep in an airtight container up to 7 days.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Gluten-Free Brownie Tart

My sister, K, recently found out from her doctor that she should avoid gluten.  It's not a fully developed allergy but it was something he recommended when she complained of stomach paints.  It's been fun, yet challenging, to find some delicious that she can enjoy without using traditional gluten-y ingredients.

Mom made some delicious gluten free chocolate cookies a few weeks ago which John loved so much he started asking for them at home, not caring a bit that they were "gluten-free".  After a few weeks of gorging on chocolate gluten-free cookies both at our house and Moms, I thought it was a time to put the recipe through it's paces and do something a bit different.

The brownie tart is everything you want in a brownie.  It's chocolate-y and delicious.  Put a big scoop of chocolate ice cream on top and you really couldn't ask for anything better!
Gluten-Free Brownie Tart (adapted from Yammie's Glutenfreedom)
Serves:  6 - 8
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together the butter and sugars until the mixture is fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix until well-combined.  Add the baking soda and cocoa powder, mixing until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Weeknight Dinner: Skinny Fish & Chips

Don't worry, this is not an April Fools Joke!  When John and I get the chance to hang out in London, we always start or end the trip with Fish & Chips.  We've been to a ton of them in the city, from the local no-name, no-frills eateries to the ones synonymous with "Best in London".  Really, is there anything better than freshly fried fish and potatoes?  It's one of those meals we just associate with London.

We haven't been to London since early January (I know, how spoiled are we?!) and we still have a good amount of Alaska fish in the freezer!  One of my favorite parts about visiting other cities and learning about other cultures is the opportunity to broaden your horizons and bring back home with you some new ideas.  So last Saturday I decided to healthify the meal, if that was even possible.

Next weekend is Easter and I was trying out some new sweet treat blog recipes over the past weekend.  I was able to bake my cake in the time it took to get this recipe ready.  Then, stick it in the oven and you're free to clean up the kitchen or do whatever else you have to while dinner prepares itself.  Even John pronounced this healthy version "delicious" which means I know I've scored a winner.  Maybe we won't be missing London so much after all...

Skinny Fish & Chips
Serves:  4
1 egg white
2 tablespoons water
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 pounds halibut, split in 4 fillets of even thickness

3 potatoes, sliced into "fries"
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon black pepper
3 teaspoons salt

Homemade Tartar Sauce:
Homemade Mayonnaise (or light mayonnaise)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 dill pickles, finely diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Fish:  Grease 1 large cookie sheet liberally with cooking spray, set aside.  In a small bowl, combine egg white and water.  In another small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Working with each filet one at a time, dip one side in egg white mixture and then press into breadcrumbs.  Then, dip the other side into egg mixture and press into breadcrumbs.  Place on prepared cookie sheet and repeat until all fillets have been covered.  Bake 15-25 minutes, until fish is completely cooked through (will depend on thickness of filets).

Chips:  In a large bowl toss potato fries, oil, pepper, and salt.  Place onto a large cookie sheet, evenly spreading out the fries making sure their longest side is down on the pan.  Bake 25-35 minutes, flipping the fries once, until chips are browned evenly on both sides.

Homemade Tartar Sauce:  In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, and pickles.  Set aside.

Serve fish with tartar sauce, chips on the side, and some steamed peas - to get that real London effect!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Baked Alaska

Last week was my birthday.  My twenty-ninth birthday.  29!  It's hard to believe that's really my age.  When I graduated college at 22, I made a list for myself of the things I wanted to accomplish by the time I'm 30.  Every year that I inch closer to that magical number, I can't help but think about how little I have accomplished that my bright-eyed young self thought I would.

It's not like I'm doing bad, mind you.  I was promoted at work, leading my group officially as the Vice President (veep the group likes to call me).  I'm so happy with John and our life.  I find time to cook and bake and enjoy the kitchen like I love.  And I still get to read lots and lots of books a year!

So when you stop and think about it, I'm living a pretty great life.  And it was with that in mind that I wanted to make something special for my birthday.  The reason I live a great life is because of the people in it - John and my family - and I wanted to treat them for my birthday, too!  Baked Alaska brings me back to our last night's dessert on our wonderful trip to Alaska (check it out here and here).  It was a nice way to reminisce and remember that although I might not be 100% where I thought I'd be, the place I'm at is a really great one.
Baked Alaska (crust recipe from life made simple bakes)
Serves:  12 (12 minis)
Flourless Brownie Crust:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar
8 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons corn starch

Ice Cream:
Ice Cream of your choice

3 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar

Flourless Brownie Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 pan with tin foil and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Whisk in sugar.  Lower the heat to low and melt the chocolate chips into the mixture.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the eggs and vanilla.  Sift in the unsweetened cocoa powder and corn starch.  Mix until fully combined.  Pour into the 9x13 pan leveling the mixture.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, until brownies are cooked through and a toothpick comes out clean.  When the crust cools, use a large cup and cut out 12 brownie circles.

Ice Cream:  On each brownie circle, scoop one scoop of ice cream.  Place them onto a cookie sheet and freeze at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Meringue:  In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.  Add sugar and beat 3-4 minutes until stiff peaks form.  Remove ice cream domes from the freezer and top with meringue.  Freeze additional 2 hours or overnight.

Serve:  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Bake for 8 minutes, watching closely and turning often so meringues do not burn.  Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to bake the meringues prior to serving.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Chocolate Stout Pudding Tart with Bailey's Caramel

It's another week and I have another cold!  It must be the same prolonged cold, right?  But each week it's slightly different.  This week I have a terrible sore throat which can only be cured with cold ice cream and beer pudding.  Doesn't this happen to anyone else?

Luckily St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner so I could turn these cold remedy necessities into a super yummy blog post!  These tarts are insanely delicious and the stout (or chocolate stout if you prefer) adds a richness to the pudding that makes me want to make chocolate pudding with beer ever.single.time.
Chocolate Stout Pudding Tart with Bailey's Caramel
Pretzel Crust:
3 cups pretzels
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Chocolate Stout Pudding:
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups stout
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bailey's Caramel
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 shot Bailey's
1/2 cup heavy cream

Pretzel Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small food processor, grind the pretzels until it is a flour-like consistency.  Add the butter and sugar and process until a dough forms.  Press the crust into each of the 6 tartlet shells.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Chocolate Stout Pudding:  In a large saucepan, whisk cocoa powder, sugar, and cornstarch until blended.  Add milk, stout, and heavy cream.  Whisk until fully combined.  Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the pudding begins to thicken.  Add the dark chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the pudding is thick.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla, stirring well.  Pour into the crusts and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap to avoid skin from forming.

Bailey's Caramel:  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and butter.  Let the sugar caramelize until it is golden brown and add the Baileys and heavy cream.  Continue to cook on low until the caramel becomes fully incorporated again.  Store in an airtight container unrefrigerated until ready to serve.  The caramel will thicken as it cools so to drizzle, you may need to heat slightly again.
Drizzle over the pudding tarts evenly.
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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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