Sour Cream Corn Bread

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I have made this corn bread several times now. We’ll eat it with dinner, then I’ll serve it again as toast for breakfast. Making cornbread in a loaf pan allows you to easily slice it into toaster-friendly pieces. This recipe is delicious toasted, and spread with butter. This is a very moist cornbread, so you don’t have to worry about it drying out overnight, as long as you keep it covered.

I received Make It Ahead by Ina Garten for Christmas from my parents. Ina’s recipes have almost never failed me. I find that they’re straightforward, and one tastes better than the next. Sometimes I find that she’s a little heavy-handed with the salt for my taste, but I find that these days I typically cut her suggested amount of salt in half. In this recipe, I didn’t, and the bread was delicious. Not salty at all.

In the book, this recipe calls for a specific type of cornmeal: Bob’s Red Mill medium-grind cornmeal. I did not stray from the instructions. I found a store in my neighborhood that sold it, and didn’t try the recipe until I purchased it. I’m not sure how this recipe would turn out if fine-grind cornmeal were used.

The recipe calls for two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2-inch loaf pans. I decided to cut the recipe in half and make one loaf in a slightly larger loaf pan, which is why my slices look more rectangular than square. The recipe calls for extra-large eggs. Many of Ina’s recipes do. I used large eggs, and they worked fine.

Sour Cream Corn Bread
Recipe from Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead Cookbook

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill medium-grind yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder (see note)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
Salted butter and strawberry jam, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line the bottom of two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2-inch loaf pans with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, and eggs and then slowly whisk in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix them together with a rubber spatula, until combined. Don’t overmix! Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the top, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Place the pans on a rack and cool completely.

When ready to serve, slice the corn bread, toast it, and serve with salted butter and strawberry jam.

Note: Check the expiration date of your baking powder to make sure it’s still active.

Make It Ahead: Bake the corn breads, cool completely, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost, if necessary, slice 1/2 inch thick, and toast.

Yield: 2 loaves

One year ago: Easy, Cold Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
Two years ago: Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Muffins
Three years ago: Easy Black Beans and Rice
Four years ago: Jerk Shrimp Mini Pies
Five years ago: Chocolate Pancakes
Six years ago: Baked Shrimp Scampi
Seven years ago:
Chicken Piccata

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Candied Orange Peel

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One of my sons has been asking me to make candied citrus peels for a couple of years now, but I was never able to find a recipe that received consistently good reviews. The reviews were all over the map. Last week I received a box of tangelos from Harry and David (a wonderful Christmas present that I receive from my sister-in-law every year) and my son asked again about the candied peel, so I decided to try to make them. I combined the technique from two different recipes and I was very pleased with the results. To me, these taste exactly like those orange slice candies that my grandmother used to buy me when I was little. To this day, I still love them. They’re one of the very few non-chocolate candies that I like. I might even say love. They take me back to the days when my grandmother would take me to Woolworth’s (which she called the five-and-ten) and let me buy a bag, which was a big deal because when I was growing up, our general rule at home was that we weren’t allowed to have candy unless we were bleeding.

This recipe is not difficult, just a little time consuming because you have to boil/blanch the orange peels three separate times. Next time, I might make my segments slightly thinner.

Next, the boys want me to try lemon and grapefruit peel. They’d also like me to dip some of them in chocolate!


Candied Orange Peel

Recipe adapted from Epicurious and Food Network

2 large oranges, washed
2 1/2 – 3 cups sugar, divided
Water

Cut 1/4″ off the top and bottom of the oranges. Score the orange peel into quarters. Remove the peel including the pith. Slice the peel into 1/4″-wide pieces, lengthwise.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the orange peel for 15 minutes, then drain.

Put the peel back into a pot of cool water. Bring the water to a boil. When the water has reached a boil, remove the peel and drain. Repeat this step again then set the peel aside.

Pour 2 cups of sugar into a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water. Bring the solution to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is gently boiling, add the orange peel. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, drain the peel.

Just before the peel is boiled in the sugar syrup, pour 1/2 – 1 cup of sugar into a shallow bowl. Toss a couple of pieces of peel in the sugar at a time to coat them. Once coated, place the sugared peels individually on a piece of aluminum foil. Don’t let them touch or they’ll stick together. Let them dry for several hours until they’re no longer sticky.

Yield: ~32 pieces

Seven Years Ago:
Zucchini Gratin

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Graham Cracker Bites

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Graham Cracker Bites

My boys LOVE this recipe. Well, three out of four do. The other one likes these, but doesn’t go crazy over them. One of my sons asks me to make these all the time. The boys can’t decide if they like them dipped in dark or white chocolate better. These are reminiscent of s’mores, with their graham crackers and chocolate, but they’re not as messy, and nicely bite-sized.

I use Honey Maid graham crackers for this recipe. The box comes with three packages of graham crackers, each wrapped in waxed paper. This recipe calls for two of those three packages. Do make sure that once you grind the graham crackers, you have 2 1/2 cups of very fine crumbs. If you don’t have enough, your mixture won’t be firm enough. Once you pour the liquid ingredients into the crumbs, it takes a little elbow grease to get everything mixed together smoothly.

It’s important that once you form the mixture into balls that you chill them. I notice that mine tend to sag a little after I get them rolled and before I get them into the refrigerator or freezer (I used the freezer the last time I made them to speed up the chilling process.) Once chilled, you can re-roll them if they’ve sagged a bit. Make sure you have a parchment-lined baking sheet available once you start dipping the balls. Once dipped, they want to go immediately onto the parchment. If you’re using candy melts, which I did, the chocolate will become firm very quickly, so make sure that as soon as each ball is dropped onto the parchment, you’re ready to sprinkle them with a little salt.

 

Graham Cracker Bites
Recipe from Mother Daughter Dishes via Serious Eats

2 packages graham crackers, crushed finely (approximately 2 1/2 cups)
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 bag chocolate melts or dark chocolate chips (for dipping)
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Grind approximately 2 packages of graham crackers in a food processor to form fine crumbs. You should make enough crumbs to equal 2 1/2 cups. Transfer the cracker crumbs into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and salt to the graham cracker crumbs. Mix with a firm rubber spatula until completely combined.

Scoop out the mixture using a small cookie scoop and roll into balls. I like them to be about an inch in diameter.

Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until they are firm.

Melt the chocolate chips or chocolate melts in the microwave until smooth. Remove the balls from the fridge and drop them, one at a time, into the melted chocolate—use a fork to completely coat each candy.

Carefully place the coated bites on parchment paper then immediately sprinkle with kosher or sea salt. Allow the candies to sit at room temperature until the chocolate sets—it won’t take long.

Keep refrigerated.

Yield: ~36 pieces

Seven years ago: Chewy Sugar Cookies

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Quinoa and White Bean Burgers

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I know I’ve mentioned this several times before, but I LOVE Fine Cooking magazine. I receive a subscription every year for Christmas from my parents. I end up trying several recipes from each issue and I have many magazines on my cookbook shelf with dog eared pages, waiting for me to have time to try their recipes.

I love quinoa burgers and I also love bean burgers, so the combination of both in a single burger was very appealing to me. I’m also always trying to find something that’s appealing to my vegetarian son (the vegetarian who doesn’t really like vegetables.) I figured he might like these because they look like burgers, yet there’s no meat in them. Well, no luck. He’s always willing to taste things, but he never seems to like any of them. Hopefully one day…

These come together quickly and unlike some other vegetarian burgers, these don’t need to chill prior to cooking, so once you mix them up, you can form them into patties and cook them. This recipe offers some flexibility. For instance, I didn’t have any pine nuts, so I substituted cashews. I’m also not a huge fan of fennel seeds, so I omitted them.

Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa before cooking it. If you rinse it prior to cooking, it’s natural coating, called saponin, will be washed away. Some think that saponin can taste either bitter or soapy, so it’s a good idea to rinse it away before cooking.

I served these burgers on brioche rolls, and they were delicious. There’s a slight hint of lemon in the burgers which gives them a light and lovely taste. As with many of the recipes I’ve posted recently, if you have extra burgers, they heat up very well and make great leftovers. I had one for lunch and a minute in the microwave was all it needed.

Quinoa and White Bean Burgers
Recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine, Issue 134

1/2 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Bring a 3-quart saucepan of water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Drain well, pressing against the strainer with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much water as possible.

Transfer to a food processor and add the beans, oats, pine nuts, mustard, Worcestershire, thyme, fennel seeds, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Process to a thick, smooth paste. With wet hands, form the mixture into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add the patties and cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides, ~8 minutes total. Serve hot.

Yield: 8 burgers

Seven years ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Shrimp with White Beans, Spinach and Tomatoes

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The flavor in this dish was unexpected and wonderful. The lemon zest and juice brought this dish to life. I loved it so much I had two big servings. I also had it the next day for lunch. I love a meal that makes for good leftovers.

I love this dish for a number of reasons: it’s very healthy and it’s easy enough to throw together for a weeknight meal. I almost always have the bulk of the ingredients on hand. I always have a bag of frozen shrimp from Costco in my freezer. I buy the biggest ones I can find that are peeled and deveined. They come with the tails on, and sometimes I take them off before cooking, and sometimes I leave them on. This time, I took them off. I always have chicken stock, garlic, onions and lemons on hand too, and based on the number of recipes that I make with beans, I typically have a shelf full of them in one of my kitchen cabinets.

I served this dish as is, but it can also be served over rice, which will nicely sop up some of the sauce. When making this, the amounts of the ingredients are not set in stone. If you really like tomatoes, add another one. Add some more spinach if you like greens. The recipe is very forgiving and can be modified to suit your taste. I made it exactly as specified, and don’t plan to change a thing next time I make it.

Shrimp with Spinach White Beans and Tomato

Shrimp with White Beans, Spinach and Tomatoes
Recipe from The Kitchn

Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium ripe tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes, diced (~3/4 cup diced)
A few handfuls of washed baby spinach
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced into a chiffonade
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 (15.5 ounce) cans Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chicken stock
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed if frozen)

Warm a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like your food), and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir the diced tomato into the onions and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until some of the tomato liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are beginning to break down. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add the beans and chicken stock, and simmer for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beans are warmed through. Stir in the basil, lemon zest, and juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Turn the heat down to low and partially cover to keep warm.

Wash the shrimp, pat them very dry, and season both sides with salt and pepper. Set a second pan over high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. When the oil is hot enough that a flick of water evaporates immediately, begin cooking the shrimp in batches. Cook the shrimp, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until they are pink and opaque all the way through. Transfer to a plate.

To serve, spoon the spinach and bean mixture into bowls and top with a few of the shrimp.

Yield: 3 – 4 servings

Two years ago: Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Four years ago: Boston Cream Pie
Seven years ago: Chicken Stew with Biscuits

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Individual Mac and Cheese Cups

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One of my sons is a huge dairy fan. He loves milk, yogurt and things made with cheese like macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, etc. He saw me looking at this recipe the other day and he begged me to make it. When I looked at the recipe I found that it was easier than traditional macaroni and cheese recipes because you don’t need to make a roux. The cream cheese mixed with the milk, which is incredibly easy to do, replaces the roux.

These little mac and cheese “muffins” are great right out of the oven, and they’re also great as leftovers. I was surprised how well they stayed together. I didn’t have any trouble getting them out of the muffin pan. I had one for lunch today as a leftover and my son had three for dinner. This recipe is definitely a keeper and good enough to be added to our regular dinner rotation. My son, the one that requested that I make these, LOVED them. My husband and I did too. These would be great as an after-school snack. They reheat well in the microwave.

This basic recipe has infinite possibilities. I might add bacon next time. I think some broccoli would be a nice addition too. A little cayenne pepper would be nice too when I’m not making them for my son. You can add anything that you think goes well with mac and cheese.

 

Individual Mac and Cheese Cups
Recipe adapted slightly from Martha Stewart

1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more for greasing the muffin pan
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese (2 cups)
Salt and pepper
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 1/4 cups whole milk
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 12-well muffin pan. In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon melted butter with breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup cheddar.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni until al dente, according to package directions; drain.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; add cream cheese and stir until melted. Gradually stir in remaining cheddar until melted. Add cooked pasta, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Using a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop, divide the mixture into the 12 muffin wells. Using the ice cream scoop, the mixture should divide evenly into the muffin pan. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of each “muffin”. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven; let sit for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. You might need to run a knife around the outside of each “muffin” to loosen it from the pan.

Yield: 12 servings

Two years ago: Homemade Wheat Thins
Four years ago: Alsatian Pizza
Five years ago: Pear Salad with Raspberry Cream
Six years ago: Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Seven years ago: French Lentil Soup

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Gnocchi Verde (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)

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One of the many reasons I love shopping at Trader Joe’s is because of their frozen food section. They have the most interesting frozen vegetables. Two of my favorites are their sliced peppers and cleaned and sliced leeks. They sell 10 oz. bags of frozen, chopped spinach too, which are perfect for this recipe. For the last couple of weeks, my TJs has been out of frozen spinach, so I have had to use fresh baby spinach (I used four 5-oz. bags), which adds a little extra cooking to this recipe, but is just as delicious.

When making this, it’s important to cook the spinach until nearly all of its moisture has evaporated. If it hasn’t, your dumplings will be too moist and there’s a chance that they’ll fall apart when you boil them.

Another tip about this recipe: the dumpling mixture takes a full hour to chill, so do allow enough time for that when you start the recipe. When you boil the dumplings, you’ll notice that some of the chopped spinach comes off in the water. I haven’t figured out how to avoid this.

These can be served as an appetizer, or as a side dish with dinner. They are also incredible as leftovers. I ate a plate-full for lunch and they were delicious and very satisfying.

My husband and I love these dumplings. The boys? Want to take a guess? Not one taker. Go figure.

Gnocchi Verde (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)
Recipe from Food52

4 tablespoons butter
Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted completely, squeezed dry of all moisture, and chopped very fine (about 1 1/2 cups), or 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, cooked, squeezed dry, and chopped
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided

Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost all of the moisture has boiled away and the spinach starts to stick to the skillet.

Add the ricotta and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 more minutes.

Transfer the spinach-ricotta mixture to a large mixing bowl and use a rubber spatula to mix in eggs, flour, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan,1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, until the mixture is quite firm.

Preheat the broiler and bring 6 to 8 quarts of water, seasoned with the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, to a boil over medium heat in a large pot. Flour your hands lightly and shape the chilled gnocchi into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Drop the gnocchi gently into the simmering water and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until they puff slightly and are somewhat firm. Lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a towel to dry.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a shallow, ovenproof dish and swirl it around to evenly distribute.Arrange the gnocchi in one layer across the bottom, leaving about 1/4 inch between each one. Dribble the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over top, then sprinkle the gnocchi with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Broil for about 3 minutes, until the cheese melts and is golden brown.

Serve at once, with additional grated cheese if desired.

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Two years ago: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
Four years ago: Cocoa Banana Muffins
Five years ago: Honey Wheat Cookies
Six years ago: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
Seven years ago: Turkey Meat Loaf

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Andean Potato and Cheese Soup (Locro de Papa)

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Andean Soup

I have never cooked with queso fresco before. I saw some in Costco the other day, so I picked up a package. I bought 2 eight-ounce blocks, so you’ll probably see another cheese recipe or two before I use it up. Queso fresco (or “fresh cheese”), is mild, mellow and a bit salty and a bit buttery. If you’re not a feta fan, this would be a good, slightly more mild substitute.

This soup was delicious. It’s a traditional Equadorian soup that’s light but filling. It can be served as an appetizer or as a light main course. I enjoyed the little bites of chewy cheese that accompanied the chunky vegetables. If you like a slightly spicier soup, you can up the red chili flakes.

This is a nice soup for a cold winter night. My husband and I both loved it. The boys, not so much.


Andean Potato and Cheese Soup (Locro de Papa)

Recipe from thekitchn.com

Olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds (about 4 fist-sized) all-purpose potatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Pinch dried chile flakes (or to taste)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 ears ripe corn, kernels sliced off (or 2 cups frozen corn)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
6 ounces (1 well-rounded cup) queso fresco, cubed
1 cup whole milk
Salt
Pepper

Warm a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large pot (at least 5 quarts) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and just starting to turn golden-brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until the edges of the potatoes are beginning to soften, another 5 minutes.

Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add the garlic, oregano, and cayenne. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir into the onions and potatoes. Add the stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the corn kernels, peas, queso fresco, and milk to the soup. Bring back to a simmer (do not boil) and cook until the corn and peas are tender, another 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

 

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Two years ago: Mini Hot Cocoa Cookies
Three years ago: Granola
Four years ago: Quick Chick Pea Curry
Five years ago: Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
Six years ago: M&Ms Cookies
Seven years ago: Chick Pea Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

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Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

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If you are a fan of Funny Bones, these cupcakes are for you. The chocolate cake recipe is amazing, as is the peanut butter filling. They taste just like Drake’s Funny Bones without the chocolate coating on the outside, and with a much better chocolate cake. Funny Bones were my favorite of the Drakes cakes of my childhood. I also liked Devil Dogs, Yodels and Ring Dings, but the Funny Bones were my hands-down favorite. As far as other snack cakes went, I was never a huge fan or Twinkies or Sno Balls. I much preferred the chocolate snacks.

These cupcakes are easy to make and easy to fill. The filling comes together in no time because it only uses three ingredients: peanut butter, butter and Marshmallow Fluff. I’m not a big fan of recipes that have junk like pre-made Marshmallow Fluff in them, but when these seemed like they might taste like Funny Bones, I had to try them. They were a huge hit in our house, except with one of my sons, who still basically only eats peanut butter. He eats so much of it in sandwiches that he’s turned off by anything else that has peanut butter in it. Even these!

I’m usually a frosting fan, but with the creamy peanut butter filling, these cupcakes don’t need anything more than a dusting of powdered sugar. There was a little filling left over, so I frosted a couple of cupcakes with the filling. My sons ate those and raved about them.

Here’s what I learned when making this recipe: when the directions say to lightly spray a muffin tin, do just that. Don’t be heavy-handed with the cooking spray or it will pool at the bottom of the muffin cups. When you dust the pan with cocoa, you’ll end up with a chocolatey sludge. Not ideal. Your butter definitely wants to be at room temperature before you use it in the frosting.

This is going to be one of my go-to chocolate cupcake recipes, even if I don’t fill them. I loved the texture and flavor of the cake.

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Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Cooking spray
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup warm water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray, then dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using a mixer, beat in eggs, buttermilk, oil, and 3/4 cup water on medium until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter among cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes and let cool completely on rack.

In a large bowl, using mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and peanut butter on high until fluffy, 3 minutes; fold in marshmallow topping. Transfer to a zip-top bag and cut off one corner to make a 1/2-inch opening.

With a melon baller, scoop out center of each cupcake base and set aside (these pieces will plug cupcakes after filling). Hollow out each cupcake a bit more, discarding crumbs. Fill cavities with peanut butter mixture and replace plugs. (Refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 1 week.) To serve, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Yield: 18 cupcakes

Two years ago: Chicken, Ham and Cheddar Roll-Ups
Three years ago: Orange-Scented Almond and Olive Oil Muffins
Four years ago: Coconut Blondies
Five years ago: Asian Pork Tenderloin
Six years ago: Black Bean Brownies
Seven years ago: Sugar Spiced Nuts

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Maple

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Sweet Potatoes Pecans Maple

I have had my eye on this recipe for a long time. I’m a huge fan of recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi. One tastes more interesting and full of flavor than the next. His combination of herbs and spices may seem a bit strange, but the resulting dishes end up tasting wonderful.

This is a very interesting sweet potato salad. My husband said it reminded him of something that would be served at Thanksgiving. I think it’s the cinnamon that made him feel that way. It’s like no other potato salad you’ve ever tasted. A bit sweet and a bit savory with a big explosion of flavor. I love it, as did my husband. The boys would have none of it. Too many colors and flavors for them.

The original recipe called for sultanas. I had to look that one up. One site I found said it was a pale green grape. Another site said it was a golden raisin. I am not a huge fan of raisins, so I decided to use grapes. I didn’t notice the spice from the red pepper flakes. If you like a little spice in your salads, I’d up this to 1/2 teaspoon. You want to make sure you have fresh herbs for this recipe. Dried won’t do.

My kitchen scale was put to good use when I had to measure the pecans and the grapes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Maple
Recipe adapted ever so slightly from The Ottolenghi Cookbook

2 sweet potatoes (about 850g [2 lbs] in total)
3 Tablespoon olive oil
1.5 ounces pecans
4 scallions, roughly chopped
4 Tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1.5 ounces sliced grapes
salt and pepper

For the dressing

4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wash the sweet potatoes and scrub the skin. You’re not going to peel them. Cut them into a 3/4 inch dice. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy clean-up) and toss them with the olive oil until they are all coated in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast them for 30 minutes, gently stirring them after 15 minutes.

On a separate baking tray, toast the pecans for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and chop roughly.

To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl with some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

When the potatoes are cooked, transfer them to a large bowl while still hot. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro, red pepper flakes, pecans and grapes. Pour the dressing over and toss gently to blend. You may not need all of the dressing. Season to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings

Two years ago: Chicken and Rice Soup
Three years ago: Cajun Jambalaya
Four years ago: Red Velvet Cupcakes
Five years ago: Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
Six years ago: Shrimp with Spiced Masala and Coconut Milk
Seven years ago: Breakfast Cookies

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