June 28, 2011

(Reddish) Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes are a classic! So, for Fathers Day this year, I decided to bake up a batch for my family. I have never made red velvet cupcakes before, so I was a little apprehensive. But I gave it a try and hoped for the best!

Okay, now first let me start out by saying: I HAVE USED SO MUCH BUTTER since I started baking! This is serious people. I bet I have used tens of pounds of butter for baking purposes just in the last year. I feel like Julia Child or Paula Dean, except I'm not trying to use butter as much as them. It's just how recipes are! It astonishing, I know. Okay, enough of that. Let's get to the recipe.

I know, you don't have to tell me. These aren't red. Okay, but there is a good reason! We didn't have much red food coloring...yes, poor planning. So I just put in about 15 drops, and I called it good enough. And, my sister said they should be more red after they have baked. This is a lie.

Proof this is a lie.
Further proof.
My sister (aka the liar who said they would be more red after they
got out of the oven) attempting to frost the cupcakes.
Even so, they did turn out pretty delicious. They just looked like chocolate cupcakes. For the frosting, I used regular Cream Cheese frosting from allrecipes.com. The recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting can be found here. I also found a Red Velvet Cupcake recipe on allrecipes.com, that can be found here. Both are very good recipes!

So, as an end to my Father's Day, I sat outside reading one of my favorite author's books and ate a cupcake. 

Joanne Fluke is a native Minnesotan that writes these amazing
murder-mystery novels! Plus, they include recipes too! 

Here is my collection of her novels. She has a few more, but I
desperately need to catch up! I highly recommend these
books for foodies and mystery-lovers alike!

Oh yeah, and this is the waterfall my dad built. He is very proud of it, so I thought I'd put it up here so you can see his hard work. Both my parents are obsessed with plants and landscaping! They have average jobs by day, but turn into plant and yard connoisseurs by night. We even have a gardening shed, and three different sitting areas surrounded by beds of plants and grape vines! Maybe I'll post more later...but for now, enjoy your summer! 

June 20, 2011

Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

I was almost going to make this for my final Spanish project, but wasn't quite sure it was traditional or not. I am pretty sure this is an "Americanized" version. Real Sopapilla is a "fried pastry and type of quick bread" according to Wikipedia. The pictures kind of remind me of funnel cakes. But this recipe, the Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie recipe from allrecipes.com, seems very different from traditional Sopapilla.

It starts with a can of crescent rolls that you stretch to fit the bottom of the pan. Then, you add the mixture of cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract into the pan to completely cover the crescent roll layer on bottom. Open the second can of crescent rolls, and make a layer on top of the cream cheese. After that, you simply stir together the butter, sugar, and cinnamon and dollop it over the top.

It takes about 30 minutes to bake, and it should come out with a nice golden-brown crust. When it is cooled and ready to serve, squeeze some honey over it (if desired) and enjoy with a tall glass of milk! I recommend this dessert to any cream cheese lover. The crust is perfectly fluffy yet crispy, and the cinnamon topping is so yummy!

Close-up of the bubbling crust just after it
came out of the oven. Mmm!
It's a very rich dessert, so I had to eat it in small amounts. But with my family of four, the pan was gone within days! Such a good recipe!

Oh, and I just have to share this...it's a review someone wrote about the recipe on the website. I thought it was hilarious! Enjoy:
"Ok. This is, undoubtedly, the most outstanding-delicious-amazing-wonderful dessert recipe I have EVER tried. Unbelievable. If you don't rush right out and pick up the ingredients for this, you are missing out ON LIFE! I have tasted a lot of desserts, I have tried a million recipes, but I can honestly say (and my family will agree) that this is the most wonderful dessert ever. It was made by the Gods. You know how every recipe you read on Allrecipes.com has reviewers improving upon the recipe in some way? Well you won't see that with this recipe. Nope. It would be absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to improve on this one in ANY way. It's perfect. Sent from heaven. And in addition to the perfect flavor is the fact that it LOOKS beautiful, even if you throw the crescent rolls in sloppily (like I did). It's also so unbelievably easy to make that I am ASHAMED I didn't know about this sooner because it would have saved me a lot of sweat and stress while trying to throw something together for potlucks. All I can ask is that you not share the recipe with anyone. It's so good it should be a secret!"

...And sometimes I cook

"You know, sometimes bakers have to cook. And when that day comes, they should pray something doesn't go wrong."  -Laura (Food Blogger)

But nothing went wrong here! Tricked ya there, didn't I? I made up that quote by the way...that's me, Laura. Yep! Anyway, moving on...before school ended, I had a final Spanish project that involved cooking Latin food! I mean, how fun is that? And, I learned two new recipes that I will certainly make again in the future. One dish was Lemon Garlic Tilapia, and the other was an Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa. Both were very very tasty, and they would be great summer dishes!

 Let's start with the Salsa. This recipe can be found at allrecipes.com entitled "Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa," or you can follow this link to find it. The ingredients are very basic and easy to find (not to mention pretty cheap)! You start by peeling/pitting/seeding (if needed) and chopping up the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic. Then you stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion, and olive oil.  After that, the recipe advises to refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes before serving. This is to blend the flavors together.

The colors look SO great together, and it tastes even better! I did take some advice that critics gave the recipe on the website. They said the juices all went to the bottom of the bowl and it became very watery. So, I drained some of the juice out of the tomatoes before adding them in. This seemed to do the trick! There was  also a tip that you could just buy diced tomatoes in a can and drain them instead of chopping up your own tomatoes. But I enjoyed the fresh taste of the ones I used.

Adding the red onion (1/4 c.)

3 Tbs Olive Oil

1 tsp. Salt (ACTION SHOT! Look at that salt go!)

And now the Tilapia "al Ajillo". Again, it's a very simple recipe. (And I'm glad I didn't mess it up!) It's basically tilapia fillets, some garlic, olive oil, salt/pepper, and chopped parsley and lemon for serving.

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs tilapia fillets. All we had was 2 fillets, so I used those. First you season the fillets with salt and pepper, then heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Put the fillets in, and after 1-2 minutes, add garlic slices. It doesn't take too long to cook the fillets. Mine took about 4-8 minutes. And you want the garlic to get a dark golden brown color, but not burned.

When the fish is done, test it by flaking it with a fork. If it flakes easily, then it's ready to serve! I served mine two different ways. One fillet I did the traditional way--or the way in the recipe--by sprinkling some of the cooked garlic over the fish, adding some parsley, and lemon juice on top.

For the other one, however, I used some of the amazingly-delicious salsa I had just made, and added it on top. In fact, the recipe mentions that it is also commonly served this way too, with salsa on top. My family enjoyed both versions!

My mom whipped up some steamed corn and Mexican rice, and it was a Latin meal to remember! The tilapia was so tasty with the fresh lemon juice and the garlic slices weren't too overpowering like I thought they would be. It actually added a lot to the recipe! You can find the recipe at Food.com, entitled "Tilapia al Ajillo (garlic tilapia)" or follow this link. The fish dish itself has only 260 calories per serving, but it's very filling! I would recommend this recipe to anyone who wants a quick dinner that's easy to make, and doesn't require much effort or ingredients. We always have steamed veggies on hand, and little side dishes that are easy to heat up, so it's a great meal to serve to the whole family!

¡Buen Provecho! (Bon Appetit!)