January 31, 2010

Moving, Stuff

This is what our life has been looking like lately:

It's actually been surprisingly therapeutic -- cleansing, almost.

Did you know that I had 32 pairs of shoes "stealthily" (as AC put it) hidden away in my closet?? I'm slightly appalled. But at least I had to sort through all of them for the move...I was able to downsize to 29! ;) And who has 3 half-used bottles of cumin in their spice cabinet? And 2 boxes of cornstarch? Yup, apparently us. But those have all been consolidated as well.

Off to more purging and boxes. See you on the other side!

Edit: I talked to my friend, and she said 30 pairs of shoes is normal. Especially if that count includes flip flops. So there.
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January 22, 2010

Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes

6 days! That's how long I was cooped up in our tiny little apartment, sick. I can't even begin to explain how fun that was. Turns out that I had the flu, which then developed into a bronchial infection...which basically meant that I couldn't go 10 minutes without having a major coughing fit. Good times all around.

Anyway, cupcakes always seem make everything better -- especially when they are this good. While I actually made these before I almost died, I do remember talking about how these have become one of our favorite cupcakes so far. Some cupcakes are noticeably dense or crumbly; these are extraordinarily soft, delicate and moist. Black coffee (our secret ingredient for everything!) brings the cake's chocolaty flavor to a "where's my @!&*#$ cup of milk?" level, and the Oreo cookie bits in the cream cheese frosting make everything all the more delectable. I mean really, when can you ever go wrong with Oreos and cupcakes?

In other news, we are moving to Rockridge in less than a week!! We can't wait -- especially for our new kitchen which will be ohhh, about 3x times the size of our current one :D

So yeah, posting will be fairly light over these next couple of weeks as we begin to pack, move, and unpack (who wants to help??). Pictures of the new pad coming shortly!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from Hershey's Black Magic Cake
Frosting recipe adapted from Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 8-0z packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
5-10 Oreo's, crushed

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into cupcake tins.

2. Bake about 10-15 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

3. Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Pound Oreo cookies into crumbs, and mix into frosting. Frost cupcakes and serve.
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January 16, 2010

Real Chicken Noodle Soup

I've been really sick this past week. Fever, migraine, chills, sore throat, body aches, coughing -- the whole nine yards. But guess what I woke up to that made being sick almost worth it?

Even the broth was made from scratch (and love) :D

If homemade chicken noodle soup can't make you feel better, I don't know what will! Once I get out of my delirious state, I'll have to bug AC for the recipe. Not that I'm biased or anything, but you'll definitely want this one. Until then, it's off to bed for some sleep, meds, and more sleep....

Cooking credit goes to this cutie; am I a lucky girl or what?! ;)
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January 11, 2010

Best. Chili. Ever.

This chili might be the reason why I ended up marrying AC. I know, know -- bold statement. But trust me, you just have to try this chili.

The first time I had this, I almost died from 1 - tastiness and 2 - disbelief that AC's cooking might actually be better than mine! :P Incredibly bold and spicy, this thick chili also has a slight hint of sweetness to it that makes for a very complex flavor. What else would you expect when key ingredients include coffee, dark beer, wasabi, two types of peppers, six different spices, and brown sugar? Traditional staples such as sausage, kidney beans, tomatoes, onions, and beef broth only add more layers of depth.

Anyway, I'm not alone in my sentiments -- family members and friends also LOVE this chili. AC made a triple-batch for his (fishing) bachelor party weekend up in Clear Lake, which was supposed to last the entire weekend, and it was gone after the first night. And every time my parents see us, they ask AC when he's going to make another batch of chili. Yup, it's that good.

Eat this with some Fritos Corn Chips and I guarantee -- wow, I sound like a commercial! -- you'll start a following of your own :)

Washabinaros Chili
Recipe from All Recipes

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced
tomatoes with juice
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
1 cup strong brewed coffee
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
3 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans
2 Anaheim chile peppers, chopped
1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 habanero pepper, sliced

1. Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot and place the pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions, garlic, beef and sausage until meats are browned. Pour in the tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste and broth. Season with chili powder, cumin, sugar, oregano, cayenne, coriander, salt and wasabi. Stir in one can of beans, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat remaining oil. Cook Anaheim, serrano and habanero peppers in oil until just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir into the pot and simmer 2-3 hours.

3. Stir in remaining 2 cans of beans and cook 1 hour more.
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January 05, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

Now that the holidays are over with, I think we've officially gained 10 lbs. Between Christmas cookies, dinner parties, hot appetizer dips, and holiday chocolates -- not to mention an overdose of my mom's deliciously addictive home cooking -- we are ready to kick 2010 off with some healthy, skeeeny food.

But first, this glorious cheesecake :D

I actually stumbled across this in my search for a recipe that uses fresh cranberries. You see, my family likes to buy things in bulk (if you haven't already noticed) -- and my mom had two HUGE bags of cranberries that she couldn't use up by herself. So naturally, we ended up with one of those bags...wondering what on earth to do with it. Good thing we found this, otherwise we would have been drinking cranberry juice for years.

This festive and luscious cheesecake was made for my auntie's "toned down" new years party, which boasted 28 different food dishes. I say toned down because last year, we had 40-something dishes. Why do we insist on gorging ourselves with so much food? I have no idea. But it's always delicious, and has become a tradition we look forward to every year :)

Anyway, this stunning cheesecake is the perfect dessert for holiday festivities. Not only is the presentation impressive, but it's both delicious and easy to make. Chocoholics (like me) love the rich, chocolate wafer crust. And the cheesecake's light, creamy texture and subtle orange flavor provide the perfect contrast. The highlight, of course, is the bright and slightly tart cranberry compote, which pulls all the flavors together beautifully.

While this cheesecake did a great job of using up some of those cranberries in our fridge, we still have a whole 1/2-bag left. At least this bodes well for our urinary tracts, right? ;)

Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2002

1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies, broken
2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind cookies and chocolate in processor. Add butter; blend until moist clumps form. Using plastic wrap as aid, press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 1/4 inches up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling:
Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Wrap 2 layers of heavy-duty foil around bottom and up sides of springform pan. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Beat in flour. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, just until blended. Beat in orange peel and vanilla.

Pour filling into crust. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until filling is just set in center but still moves slightly, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove cake from water bath; transfer to rack and cool completely, about 4 hours. Cover and chill overnight.

For topping:
Stir sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; add cornstarch mixture and bring to simmer. Add cranberries; cook until beginning to pop, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in orange peel. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. (Cheesecake and cranberry mixture can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Run knife around top edge of cheesecake to loosen. Release pan sides. Top cheesecake with cranberry mixture. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

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