Monday, May 31, 2010

Paula Deen's Blueberry Muffins

Okay, so this is going to be quick and to the point.  These muffins are not good as the recipe is written. 

My mother made them with the blueberries she just bought (don't worry, she's making up for the horrible muffins by making her yummy pie that I am having the tiniest sliver from b/c the BBQ sauce on the ribs we had for dinner had WAY too many calories).  She was so super excited about them b/c she loves watching her make stuff and things, well, this has tons of fat in it, it has got to be good!

Well, apparently, she didn't remember the chocolate cream cheese pound cake.

She remembers now.

Well, the problem with this recipe is that it is so bland.  There is NO FLAVOR in the muffin.  NONE. 
The blueberries taste all good, but the muffin isn't all blueberry.  There is batter.  Flavorless, gag me batter.  It's a soft muffin, don't get me wrong.  But it tastes like metal (from the 2 TABLESPOONS of baking powder) and nothing else.  There is no salt in the muffin, no vanilla, and just plain white sugar.

If you are going to make these muffins, please, cut the baking powder to 2 tsp, add at least a tablespoon of vanilla and use either salted butter or add a tsp of salt. 

Also, if you are going to add the sugar on the top, do it before 10 mins of baking time or it won't stick to the top.  You can either add them after 5-6 mins, or (even better idea for more flavor) dip the top of the fully baked muffins in melted butter then dip them into some brown sugar w/ a speckling of cinnamon.  That would be good.

Okay, I'm done warning you guys.  I'm gonna go help her make blueberry pie now. Ciao.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy One Year Anniversary to my Babes!!!!

So this is a sort of food post!!!  The love of my life and I celebrated our one year anniversary (which is today) last night.  We actually have a two-fer celebration, we went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for dinner last night and we're going to Ron White on June 4th! 

Dinner was amazing, and seriously if you have never been to a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse before and there is one nearby, go!!!  It is delicious!!!

We went for the first time in KY this past October.  He spent hours and hours driving down to Irvington to go camping on his property only for it to be pouring rain all day, so we skipped camping for a hotel and haunted houses in Louisville.  He was so disappointed about not camping so I took him to Ruth's Chris to make it all better. 

I've been to TONS of steakhouses before.  Tons.  I've been to Morton's, Krapil's, Harry Caray's, Jack Gibbons...  to name a few.  I have yet to try Gibson's, but one day.  Maybe.

Anyways, back to the food.  Ruth's Chris has been around for 45 years, w/ over 100 locations.  That just goes to show you how DELICIOUS their food is. 
Their steak is brought out on a plate that reaches a temperature of 500 degrees F.  The steak is literally sizzling on the plate as it is being brought out.  The steak continues to sizzle as you cut into your first bite... second bite...  I'm not even sure when it stopped sizzling b/c I was in such a state of bliss. 

I would like to say that I would try something new every time I go somewhere. But since this place isn't an everyday (hell, maybe once a year) place, I stuck with what made me happy last time.

They have something called Ruth's Classics.  It's a menu that you choose the starter, either a specific soup or salad, then the main meat, there are four meats for $39.95 and another four for $49.95, then one side and then a dessert.

You can substitute for a charge, which neither of us really cared about.  For us, last night it was about having everything and anything we wanted. 

I chose the Harvest Salad again.  OMG, I dare say it was even better than the last time.  I'm not joking when I say I will drive the hour out there to specifically buy a couple of these salads for work lunches throughout the week.  Not kidding. 
Mike had the Steak House Salad with blue cheese dressing. 
For our main course, I had the 11oz Filet and Green beans with roasted garlic (and i mean there were like 10 cloves of fresh roasted garlic in there!!!).
Mike had the 16oz Ribeye and Sweet Potato Casserole. 
Sweet Jesus.  Let me tell you this, it didn't look just like this picture.  It looked about 4,000 times better.  The top crust is brown sugar and pecans and deliciousness.  Thankfully, we shared our sides and it was pretty even in splitting this.  I can tell you right now, if he hadn't shared, I might have stabbed him with my fork.  No joke.

For dessert, it comes with this cute little chocolate cake w/ a side of fresh berries in a sweet cream sauce.  Mike got that, but I opted to get Creme Brulee. 
Okay, now this picture.  Oh, this is EXACTLY what it looked like.  Pure decadent deliciousness.  I mean really people, this was pure sin. 
Thank God Mike doesn't like creme brulee b/c if I was making this at home...  oh Lord, let's not think about those arteries...

I cannot tell you how hard it was to get up, nor how much it hurt to sit up in the car on the way home.  I was sooooo full, but it's ok since I ate nothing all day in preparation.

I really think that next time, I am just going to have steak and a side.  I really think that dessert put my WELL over the edge of fullness.  But omg, it was so worth it!  Who am I kidding, I'm so gonna get it again!!!

So here is to the most wonderful man in the world by my side, through all the good times and bad, through nearly killing each other while remodeling a house, through the moments of pure bliss and the moments of quiet splendor...  Happy Anniversary my love.  I love you more than anyone can love another, and I never want to go through life without you by my side.

Okay, no more sappy boring pictures  :)

Happy Anniversary Babes!!!

Spanakotiropita (Spinach Cheese Pie)

My mom's spanakotiropita is my FAVORITE!!!
I have always wanted to make this with her b/c one day I'll be the one making it all the time.  We make it three different ways in this house, logs, triangles and sheet pan.
First, you have to make sure you get good filo dough.  Apollo is good, it doesn't dry out to quickly.  You;re going to find this mostly at ethnic produce markets than you would at your local Jewel or Dominick's.  She always gets #7 b/c it isn't too thin and believe me, too thin can be a major pain in the butt!

Next is the filling.  Here are the ingredients:

3 pkgs of chopped spinach or 3 lbs of fresh cooked spinach
6 tbsp olive oil
6 scallions, minced
1 lb feta cheese-don't get the pre-crumbled stuff
1 lb cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 tsp dill
6 medium eggs, beaten well at room temp
1/2 lb sweet butter
1 lb filo, at room temp


Thaw spinach (if using frozen) and drain well.  If using fresh spinach, cook first and remove moisture.  Chop if necessary, discarding any coarse stems.  Heat oil and saute scallions until soft and wilted.
Add spinach and simmer until moisture evaporates completely.
Rinse feta under cold water,drain and crumble it in a bowl.  Blend in cottage cheese, parsley, pepper, and dill.
Add beaten eggs and mix well.
Add spinach and scallion mix to the cheese and eggs and mix well.
This is the final inside product.  Cover and chill until ready to use.
This stuff is good.  Try not to eat it before you make the pastry, ok?  :)

Next, melt some butter in a saucepan
This is going to be your glue to hold the filo dough together.

Using a nice clean flat surface, lay down one sheet of filo dough.  I'm going to show you logs first.

Take a spoonful of the spinach mix and spread it in a line about 1 1/2-2 inches from the bottom of the sheet.  Fold the bottom over the top of the spinach and roll over once.
Take a pastry brush and brush the melted butter along the sides.  The fold the buttered sides over on top of the filled section.
Brush the sides again w/ the butter and roll until there is no more dough.  
Brush the top crease w/ a little more butter and set aside to do the next one.

Next, triangles.
Take a sheet of filo and cut if in half lengthwise, using sharp scissors so it is a skinnier piece. 
 Place a spoonful of the mix in the corner and fold over like the above picture.  Brush some melted butter over the top and continue to fold to each side.

Brush a little butter on the edges to seal and move on.

The logs and triangles bake at 350 degrees F for about 10-20 mins depending on how brown you want them.
We like them like this:

Now for the easiest of them all (and the one my mom likes best b/c it is so easy!)
The sheet pan is so easy, but it uses a lot more filo dough.  

First, use a cookie sheet that your filo dough will fit.  Ours was slightly bigger than 9x13.  You can spray the bottom before putting the first layer on or not, it should be fine if you don't.  Place the first layer on, brush melted butter over the entire sheet.  Make sure there is enough for the ends of the sheets to flap over the sides of the pan.  
After you brush the butter on, place another sheet of filo over that and brush more butter on it.  Repeat until you have at least 6-7 layers of filo dough.  

Next, press the spinach mix on top of the filo dough.  

 And then put a sheet of filo on top of that, brush more butter on top...  Well you get the picture.  Repeat the filo dough, then melted butter until you have another 6-7 layers of buttery goodness.  Did you really think this was going to be healthy just because there is spinach in it??  Really?

 Next, cut the edges off, leaving a little left over, about a 1/2 inch from the edge of the pan.

 Then you are going to make an edge by folding the layers together and under, kind of like pie crust.  

 Now it is done.  
Bake in the oven @ 350 degrees F for 1 hour.  It'll be all golden brown and delicious.  Yum!


Soooo buttery and spinachy and yummy!


If can freeze these before you bake them so you can have them on hand when ever you want.  Since the one batch can make a ton of filling, you can make some for that day in a smaller pan or make all logs or triangles and freeze some for later use.  We always have some in the freezer ready to take out and cook for a couple of servings for just the couple of us. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cannoli Cupcakes

One of my best friend's moms has been asking me to make her cannoli for a long time now.  I have the absolute worst time trying to make those shells and while I know I can buy some from the store, it just feels like it's not the same as a homemade cannoli.  I could never pass it off as my own completely.  Especially because the shell is half the pastry!

So I came up with these cannoli cupcakes as an alternative.  I mean, really?  Who doesn't like cupcakes?  So I thought of all the different ways I could make them.  I knew the frosting would be the filling, but would I use mini chocolate chips, chocolate shavings, would I nix the chocolate all together (yeah right), would the pistachios be in the cake and the frosting???
So many ideas.

Then, what kind of cupcake would it be?  I wanted something that would be so close to a "shell" as possible.  Something dense and maybe a bit crunchy w/ chopped pistachios in it. What kind of a cake will hold up well like that?
I remembered we had made tea bread in my first week of pastry class at RMC and I thought that would be a great idea!
I played around with the recipe some to make them more cakey and not bread-like.  I looked online for ways mess around with it but not mess it up.  Here's what I came up with:

For the Cupcakes:


1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup of shelled, unsalted pistachios
1 teaspoon of salt

1 stick of butter, softened to room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup of AP flour


Grind the pistachios, sugar and salt in a food processor.  I finely ground most of it, but I left some finely chopped pieces as well, so that the pistachios weren't just flavor, they were there and you knew what they were.

In an electric stand mixer, cream butter, vanilla and the eggs until smooth, add the pistachio-sugar mixture until well combined.  Add the flour until just combined.

Line your cupcake pan w/ paper liners of your choice.  Pour the batter evenly into the paper liners, about 3/4 full.  You should have about 14-16 cupcakes.

Bake for 25 mins (the recipe from class was supposed only be 12-15 min for muffins, but since it's a wee bit different, they seemed to take longer.  Check at about 20-25 mins and go from there).
The cakes will have a bit of crumb sticking to the toothpick you put in to check, but no batter.  Just moist crumb.

Let them cool before taking them out of the pan b/c they will be HOT.  Once they are cool enough, transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the Frosting:


1 lb (16 oz) of ricotta cheese, drained of excess liquid
1/2 cup of granulated suagr
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of shelled, unsalted pistachio, chopped


Add the ricotta cheese, sugars, vanilla and cinnamon to a large bowl.  Hand mix w/ a rubber scrapper so you can scrape the sides.  Once it is completely mixed, add the pistachios and fold into the frosting.
Put the frosting in a piping bag w/ whatever tip you'd like and frost!

They were sooo good!!  My piping job kinda stunk, but that's what the next step is for!

I couldn't find any mini-chocolate chips so I just used a chocolate bar and shaved it.  Well first, I used a micro plane to sprinkle it on, but it looked like cinnamon.  I realize there is cinnamon in the frosting (which really made it for me), but it was just to add something to the frosting, not be a "known" ingredient. 
So I shaved the chocolate w/ a veggie peeler.  I got some pretty nice curls.  Btw, despite my known dislike of dark chocolate, I used dark chocolate for the shavings b/c the milk chocolate would have been muted and tasteless w/ so little on it.  I wanted the chocolate to be tasted, but not overpowering (which was good that I didn't find mini chips!)
This is w/ milk chocolate.  I did try it first!  But I couldn't really taste it at all.
Mmm....  So good!!!

 You can tell by the crumb that this is a dense cupcake.  And you can see the pistachio inside, making it even thicker and closer to a "shell" than a light fluffy vanilla cupcake.  I was really happy with the way these turned out.  And I was even more excited when Momma Tina loved them!  

Oh, and you should have seen my dad!  I saved him and my mother each one.  Dad was sooo mad he couldn't have more.  Don't fret though, I made him a whole batch for himself (ok, minus the one I stole!) last week!