Simple advice for a better life.

European cupcakes 2Cupcakes have earned their universal popularity.

Everyone loves them.

Having a cupcake on your dessert plate makes you feel real special, because it’s like having  your personal mini cake.

There are myriad of cupcake recipes out there, to please everyone’s taste.

Today I will share a European recipe for chocolate cupcakes, with cream cheese frosting.

This recipe yields 20+ cupcakes.

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Rum Extract (or Vanilla if you prefer)
  • 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese (regular or 1/3 less fat)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

Cupcake Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whip the butter and sugar to form a thick paste (about 1o minutes on high).
  2. While mixing, add one egg at a time, and beat in well to incorporate.
  3. Mix in the extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, and baking powder.
  5. Mix flour mixture into the egg and butter, just to incorporate.
  6. While still mixing at low-speed, slowly add the milk alternating it with the cream.
  7. Preheat oven to 35o degrees F.
  8. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners, and fill them with batter all the way to the top of liner.
  9. Smooth out the tops, and bake 20 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the pan, and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
  11. Once cooled, frost them with cream cheese icing.

Icing Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and extract.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, and keep mixing until creamy.
  3. Fill a cake decorating sleeve with icing and decorate the tops of your cupcakes.

European cupcake

Mini Apple Pies – Delicious Recipe

Mini Apple PiesThese Mini Apple Pies look so adorable, elegant and delicious.

I highly recommend them, as an easy and interesting  dessert after a fulfilling meal.

All you need is few basic ingredients for the crust, couple of Granny Smith apples, and you are ready to roll.

This recipe yields 12 cupcake size mini pies.

 

Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour (I use unbleached)
  • 3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks), cold and cubed
  • 4 Tbs. ice water
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon extract

Apple Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 medium apples (Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, etc)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. corn starch
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

Pie Crust Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, cut the cubed butter with flour, using a fork , or pastry blender.  You can also work the butter into the flour with your hands, then finish it with a fork or pastry blender.
  2. Add sugar, and work it in.
  3. Add ice water, and mix by hand to form a ball of dough.
  4. Place the finished dough in a sealed plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even over night.
  5. While the dough is resting in the fridge, prepare the apple filling.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge, and cut into two pieces (3/4 and 1/4).
  7. Place the 3/4 of the dough on a floured sheet of parchment, or waxed paper.
  8. Place another piece of parchment or waxed paper over the dough.
  9. Roll out the dough into a very thin (2 millimeters thickness) rectangle.
  10. Using a round biscuit cutter (4 inch in diameter), cut out 12 rounds.
  11. Fit the rounds into ungreased cupcake tins, and press them gently to fit the cups.
  12. Using a fork, poke holes in the bottom of each mini pie crust.
  13. Generously fill each mini pie crust with apple filling.
  14. Take out the remaining dough from the fridge, and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper to a very think rectangle.
  15. Using a pizza cutter, cut thin strip, to use to construct a lattice design over the top of the apple filling.
  16. Brush the tops of the pie crusts with egg wash (egg yolk beaten with water), or milk.
  17. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F, for 35 minutes.
  18. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving.

These are cute and absolutely yummy.

Directions for Apply Filling:

  1. Peel the apples. Remove the seeds and seed nests.
  2. Dice the apples, and place in a small bowl.
  3. Sprinkle with the white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, corn starch and flour.
  4. Toss gently, to coat the apples with dry ingredients.
  5. Fill cupcake mini crusts.

I am sure you will absolutely LOVE the deliciousness of these very personal, mini apple pies.

They are equally delicious warm, as well as cold.

Birthday Party AppetizersWhether you are cooking at home, dining out, or ordering take out, there are almost always some leftovers to deal with after the fact.

There is nothing wrong with having leftovers.   After all, you spent time and money on this food, so you deserve to enjoy it to the last morsel.

Some prepared dishes are not suitable for later use as a leftover…they lose their taste and texture, so it is best to just part with them right there and then.

Numerous others, on the other hand, are still great for at least one or two meals, or even to be frozen for that rainy day when you have no time or desire to cook.

Some people do not like leftovers, and never keep them.  However, if you are like me, you don’t mind them, and feel that you get your money’s worth if you use them.

Most Europeans don’t believe in leftovers….maybe because they hardly ever have any.

They serve their meals already preportioned per plate, and make just enough to feed the crowd they accounted for.  The portions are large enough to satisfy the consumer, so there is no need, or room, for seconds.  Therefore, there are no leftovers.  Any remaining food on each plate, which hardly ever happens, is discarded.  It is almost impolite to ask for a “Doggie Bag”.

Here in the USA we have no problem asking the waiter/waitress to pack up our leftovers to take home with us.

It is very important to keep track of your leftover food in your fridge, which is one of my pet peeves.  I almost feel like I am a fridge police, whether it is at home or at work.

There is nothing worse than seeing “old” food sitting in the fridge way past its safe consumable time.

My personal time line for using up leftovers in up to 3 days…4 being the absolute max.

Now I will share my best way of using up leftovers, and keeping your fridge fresh, and ready for restocking.

Since most of us work full-time, and don’t have much time for cooking during the week, we prepare extra food on weekend, to hold us over for couple of days.  Then by mid-week, it’s time for some take out.  By Thursday we have leftovers to use, or lose.

I consider Thursday  a “Leftover Smorgasbord Dinner Day”.  We pull out all the leftovers from the past few days, and add something new if needed, and call it a day.

Everyone is to create their own plate of food from the smorgasbord spread available.  We also use disposable dishes and utensils that day, to save time on clean up effort.  Whatever food is remaining after this dinner, gets discarded for good.

This is the BEST way to free your fridge of leftover food, and to prevent any food from hiding in there for too long.

Since we have no dishes to wash on this day, we devote our time to cleaning up the fridge, and getting it ready for fresh food from Friday or Saturday shopping.

It works very well every time, and it also is fun, economical, and stress free.

I suggest you try it too, and share your comments.

Have fun!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Roasted turkey ready to servePumpkin-RollOrange-Apple-Cranberry sauce 2

It is time again to give thanks for all our blessings, and to spend time together with family and friends.

Thanksgiving holiday this year will be low key at my house, since all my children and their families, will be spending it with their in-laws.

I am counting my blessings, because we will be all together for Christmas!

Today I will not be posting any new recipes, but will provide links to my previous posts, for your convenience.

Roasted turkey ready to serve

Here is my favorite turkey roasting recipe.

stuffing ready to serve 2

Stuffing with Italian Sausage and herbs.

Orange-Apple-Cranberry sauce 2

Homemade Apple Orange Cranberry Sauce recipe.

Sweet Potatoes casserole - ready to serve

Sweet Potato Casserole.

I did not post a recipe, since it was a very simple process of cooking sweet potatoes, mashing them with a seasoning of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Then, placing the mashed potatoes in a greased casserole dish, covering them with a layer of miniature marshmallows, and placing them under broiler just long enough to form a golden crust.

Need to watch them carefully, since the marshmallows can burn VERY quickly!!

Pumpkin-Roll

Since I am not a big fan of Pumpkin Pie, I bake Pumpkin Roll as one of my Thanksgiving desserts.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY TO YOU ALL!!!

Cheese Cloth wrapping step 1

Stuffed cabbage - servings 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was chatting with a friend of mine about cooking ….surprise…..surprise…; she was telling me about an interesting dish her family and friends really enjoyed.

She kindly shared her recipe, so I finally had a chance to try it out, and share it with you.

The preparation process might look involved,  but it really isn’t bad.

The finished product looks impressive, especially before the stuffed cabbage head is cut up into serving sections.

Serving piece

 Ingredients:

  • 1 head white cabbage
  • 1.5 lbs. meatloaf mix meat (pork, beef, veal)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded on a large eye grater
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 Tbs. catchup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet of cheese cloth ( easily found at your grocer)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cubes beef bullion
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water.
  2. Add 1 Tbs. salt, and bring to boil.
  3. Remove one layer of the outer leaves from the head of cabbage and discard. Trim the end of the core, but do not carve it out.
  4. Place the head of cabbage into the boiling water (core down), and boil for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the cabbage head with the core up, and boil 15 minutes longer.Cooling the cooked whole cabbage
  6. Remove from heat, and submerge the cabbage in ice water for 15 minutes.
  7. Save the cabbage water for later use.
  8. Gently trim off some of the thick rib of the cabbage, from the core upward, but make sure the leaves remains attached to the core.Cabbage head ready for stuffing
  9. Gently unfold the leaves one by one, and spread them out to the side of the core. Don’t worry if they split slightly; it will be fine once the head is reconstructed.
  10. Repeat this process until you have at least 3-4 layers of leaves.
  11. Cut out the middle portion of the remaining tightly folded leaves (save for later use)
  12. Set the cabbage leaves aside for now.Sauteing veggies for stuffing
  13. Add oil to sauce pan, and heat it on medium heat.
  14. Add the chopped onions, and saute 5 minutes.
  15. Add shredded carrot and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  16. Add chopped garlic, and saute 1 minute longer.Stuffing ingredientsStuffing ready to use
  17. In a large bowl, mix the meatloaf mix with the sauteed onions, salt and pepper, paprika, Italian Seasoning, chopped parsley, egg, water, and catchup.
  18. Mix all to incorporate evenly.
  19. Spread the cheesecloth on a platter, and place the cabbage leaves over it.
    Stuffing step 1
  20. Make a large ball (size of a tennis ball) put of the prepared filling,  and place it in the middle of the spread out cabbage leaves.
  21. Bring up one layer of leaves, and fold over the filling ball, to enclose it.Stuffing step 2-3
  22. Spread a generous amount of filling onto the second layer of leaves.
  23. Fold them up towards the created filling ball, and carefully recreating the head of cabbage.
    Cheese Cloth wrapping step 1
  24. Repeat this process until all the leaves are used up.Cheese Cloth wrapping step 2
  25. Bring up all 4 corners of the cheesecloth, fit snugly around the stuffed cabbage head, and tie it all together at the top of the head.Cooking step 1
  26. Place the ball of cabbage in a medium pot.
  27. Mix 5 cups of cabbage water with beef bullion.
  28. Mix in 1/2 of the tomato paste.
  29. Pour over the tied cabbage head.
  30. Add bay leaves, and more water if necessary, so at least 2/3 of the cabbage ball is submerged.
    Cooking step 2
  31. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  32. Remove cabbage head from the pot, and set on a serving platter.  Remove and discard the cheesecloth.
    Cooking step 3Cooking step 4
  33. Carefully place the cabbage head in an oven proof casserole dish, and set aside.
  34. Heat the remaining liquid in the pot, and cook to reduce to about 2 cups.
  35. Mix flour with a small amount of cabbage liquid, to form a smooth paste.
  36. Mix in  heavy cream, and remaining 1/2 of tomato paste.
  37. Pour this mixture into the cabbage water.
  38. Bring to boil and cook for few minutes to form a creamy sauce.
  39. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  40. Pour sauce over the cabbage head.
  41. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and bake it uncovered for 20 minutes.
  42. Remove from oven, and cut up into wedges (from middle top of the cabbage head toward the bottom).
  43. Serve it hot.

Enjoy and share comments.

 

 

 

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