Yum Peaceful Cooking: March 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Beer

I while back...sometime in January, Betty Crocker posted a recipe  for Beer and Bacon Mancakes. Basically pancakes for your man that contain beer and bacon. Sounds pretty good, right? If you're into pancakes. Which I'm not. I'm probably one of the few people who do not order pancakes when she eats at iHop. I prefer crepes.

Ok, with that said...and by judging the above photo...I'm sure you can guess what came next.  Super simple.....very yummy...(if you don't mind a little "meat" in your cupcake, that is)....and a lot of fun.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Beer

1 box of your favorite white or yellow cake mix
What ever other ingredients that are call for on the cake mix box, minus the liquid. (probably just eggs)
1 12 oz bottle of beer (you won't use it all...the remaining is for your own personal consumption)
1 lb bacon

Preheat the oven according the the instructions on the box of cake mix. Line 24 cupcake cups.

Fry 1/2 of the bacon and crumble. (tip: with your kitchen shears, cut the raw bacon into squares and fry them up....then you don't have to "crumble" them)

Follow the instructions on the cake mix box except....instead of adding the suggestion water, replace it ounce for ounce with beer. If your not familiar on how to poor beer without creating a giant "head" of froth (which could make it difficult to measure)....just tilt the bottle or can and the measuring cup towards each other...almost level, and gently pour so that the beer is running into the measuring cup, along the 'wall'. I hope that makes sense.

Once the beer is poured into the batter, you'll have some frothy fun. Mix as instructed on the box. Fold in the crumbled bacon.

Divide the batter amongst the lined cupcake cups. Bake according the box instructions. Allow to cool completely before icing.

Meanwhile....you need to "candy" the remaining bacon.

Preheat your oven to 375'. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil (for easy clean up) and place a rack on it.

Get out some brown sugar...maybe 1/4 - 1/2 cup? Place the bacon on the rack and sprinkle generously with brown sugar. Place in the oven and bake for a maybe 10 mins? The time will vary depending on the thickness of your bacon. Basically, when they're halfway done and ready to turn over, you're going to sprinkle the other side with more brown sugar. Bake until done. Crumble and set aside.

Now this is where things get a little "fuzzy". I think it was Super Bowl Sunday when I made these. And I made the icing...ummm....after the game and definitely under the influence. Let's just say...I forgot to measure stuff. I know I started off with a basic icing recipe:

1 1/2 cups butter
4 ups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup or more of cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla....but wait. I didn't add vanilla. I poured in maybe 1 tsp? of maple flavoring.

Beat the butter for 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Reduce the speed to medium and add the powder sugar and cocoa powder 1/2 cup at a time. Beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla maple flavoring (not maple syrup....maple flavoring is concentrated). Taste it and adjust the cocoa powder and maple flavoring until you love it!

Ice the cupcakes and top with candied bacon

I really did have fun making these. If you're not into bacon...don't bother. If the idea of sweets and meat mixed together doesn't appeal to you....don't bother. Me? I love bacon. I love maple and bacon. The cupcakes weren't overly sweet.....and the icing was to die for!

There is one thing I'd do differently. I'd candy ALL of the bacon....even the bacon that gets folded into the batter.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Zucchini and Potato Pancakes

Joy the Baker does it again! Yes, this is another fantastic recipe from her newly published cookbook titled Joy the Baker Cookbook with 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes.

The past few posts here have been part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef

What a great time I've had playing with this cookbook. There have been several times where I couldn't decide which recipe to try next. They all look so good. And when I say "look"...I mean...wow! Joy took all the photos herself. They seriously make you want to try each and every recipe in this book. Mouthwatering, enticing, luring.....

Not only are there fantastic photos but (without trying to sound cliche-ish).....what a joy it is to read. She has her funny, quirky, witty anecdotes with each recipe. Kinda makes you feel like you know her...or at least can relate...and want to know her. And then makes the dish all the more desirable. 

If you're looking for a cookbook with lots of sinfully delicious, easily made, sure to be satisfying recipes then this is your book. You wont find meat or much at all that can be served for a traditional dinner (but hey....breakfast for dinner is one of my all time favorite meals). What you will find are lots of decadent desserts and breakfast treats that will make you feel as if you're the most special person on this planet. Indulgent. I don't know what else to say....I think indulgent pretty much sums it all up.

Oh...and in the "Kitchen Tips" chapter....there's even a recipe for making your own vanilla extract. Not to mention 'how to get the bundt out' (tips on how to correctly remove a bundt from the pan without it falling apart), 'seasoning a cast-iron skillet' and my favorite....'Am I seriously Out of Brown Sugar?'.

I just love Joy!

Zucchini and Potato Pancakes
Printable Version
Makes 12-16 pancakes

4 TB olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced onion (Joy says yellow...I used what I had)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 zucchinis, give or take)
2 cups peeled and grated potatoes (4 small? 2 large)
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Sour cream for dipping
Paprika and / or cumin for garnishing

In a medium sized skillet, heat 2 TB of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until it's translucent. Add the garlic and continue to saute for an additional minute. Place in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the zucchini and potatoes along with 1/2 tsp of salt. Place in a strainer, over a medium bowl and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Press down with a clean cloth or paper towels, squeezing out the excess water.

Clean out the bowl (so you don't have too many dishes to do tonight) and whisk the eggs. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Stir in the sauteed onions and garlic along with the strained zucchini and potatoes.

Heat the oven to 200' F to keep the pancakes warm as you make them in batches.

In the same skillet (yep...still keeping the dirty dishes down to a minimum), wiped clean, heat the remaining 2 TB of olive oil over medium heat. Drop in pancake batter in by rounded tablespoon. Gently flatten (shape) with a fork. Cook for 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Place cooked pancakes on a plate of sheet in the oven to keep warm while you finish with the rest of the batter. I used a 10" skillet and fit 5 - 6 pancakes per batch.

Serve with sour cream and a dusting of paprika and / or cumin.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Pecan Praline Topping

This week for the the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef we got to choose what ever recipe we wanted to show you all. This recipe caught my eye on several levels........

I have a thing for cast iron skillets.

I have a thing for praline.

I have a thing for buttermilk in baking recipes.

And now...I have a very serious thing for this recipe alone. Ooh....MY....gawd! This cake is flippin' amazing. Light, fluffy....not too sweet because the praline has that roll. And it does it well! The scale is going to be yelling at me if I don't stop eating it.

If you end up purchasing Joy's cookbook....you'll find the recipe on page 113, titled Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Walnut Praline Topping.  I happen not to like walnuts. So I automatically swap them for pecans whenever called for in a recipe.

Buttermilk Skillet Cake with Pecan Praline Topping
Printable Version

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
6 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

Praline Topping:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
good pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts if that's your thing)

Preheat your oven to 375' F. Grease and flour an 8" over safe (ie: cast iron) skillet, along the bottom and up the sides. Joy says a 9" cake pan will work as well. Don't make up your mind yet....please.

I want you to see how big...errr...small an 8" skillet is. You'll see in a minute the importance of this.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, with a stand or hand mixer, cream together the granulated sugar and butter until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg and yolk, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between the two.

Beat in the vanilla.

Now....with the mixer on low, add half of the flour. Beat until incorporated. Add the buttermilk, and beat again until incorporated. Finally, beat in the remaining flour until almost fully incorporated. Stop beating and continue with a spatula to fully incorporate the flour.

Pour / spoon the batter into your prepared pan.

Smooth the batter in the pan evenly. (clears her throat)....put a pan on the bottom rack. Just in case. Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While things of unknown magnitude are going on in the oven....you should make the pralines.

Combine the brown sugar, butter, cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a soft boil and let boil for 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it. It likes to get a little rambunctious....just stir it down.

After 3 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and nuts. Allow to set for about 20 minutes to thicken up a bit.

I don't know why....something I did maybe? Or just one of those quirks...but (clears her throat)...I had a bit of a mishap.

I'm really glad that pan was in there to catch the mess. At first I was fretting a bit. But then I decided to let it ride. I turned the oven down to 350' and let it cook a bit longer since the center wasn't set yet. And hoped that my house wouldn't be inundated with that burned sugary smell.

Once I had determined (with aforementioned toothpick test) that he cake was done,  I let it cool for a minute and then placed the pan on a plate.

It needed examining. How was I going to pull this off? Scrap it and start over? I have a thing about throwing away perfectly good food. So that thought didn't linger long. I considered cutting off all the crunchy edges (oh the pain of the thought) and inverting the pan so the cake would come out. but I knew I'd mess it up even more.

I decided to....embrace the rustic. Forget the perfection and clean beauty of the intention. And just pour the praline over the whole thing....skillet and all

And then discovered the raw beauty that only a cast iron skillet can pull off with such comfort.

What happened next was pure taste-bud nirvana

I want to say....you should probably cook this cake in a 10" skillet or a cake pan. But there's a part of me that has a thing for this bad boy.....just as it is.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

When Joy the Baker said these biscuits are quick and easy...she wasn't exaggerating. I found them to be light and fluffy with a little tang and nuttiness and a hint of  honey sweet. Now Joy talked about these for breakfast and brunch. I had them for dinner with soup. I'd like to have some more this weekend with soft scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. I bet my girls would too. You see....this recipe makes 8 - 10 biscuits. Two were eaten last night (one by me....the other by a fly-by daughter...it was a quiet night around here). When I got home from work tonight....there was one biscuit left. I quickly laid claim to it and ate it with some leftover soup.

It wasn't enough

I want more

I want some for dessert with homemade strawberry jam. Or more honey.

Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits
Printable Version

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes. Plus more for the skillet
4 TB crumbled goat cheese
1 cup buttermilk
2 TB honey

With the rack in the upper 1/3 portion of your oven, preheat to 400'. You will want to place a 10" cast iron skillet on the rack so that it too can be preheated.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using the tips of your fingers, quickly incorporate the chilled butter cubes and crumbled goat cheese into the flour mixture until you have what resembles coarse meal. You might still have some bits of the butter and cheese that are the size of small pebbles and / or oak flakes. That's to be expected.

Make a well in the middle of your flour mixture. Whisk together the buttermilk and honey and pour into the "well". Using a fork, combine the flour and buttermilk mixture until all of the flour is incorporated. Set aside.

Remove the skillet from the oven and plop a tablespoon of butter in there to melt. Rotate the pan around so that the entire bottom and sides are covered with butter.

Spoon the batter, by a "drop" full (about 1/4 cups worth) into the hot skillet, leaving about an inch between each biscuit. 6 will fit in there comfortably.

Bake for about 14 - 16 minutes or until golden brown and the tops look dry and a little firm. Let rest for 5 minutes.



Joy the Baker has come out with a cookbook and I'm thrilled to have been asked to participate in the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*