Monday, January 25, 2010

Cupcakes, Frittatas, and the Melting Pot

What a lovely weekend. It was calm and relatively low stress. Not only did I get to spend time with Jeremy, but I also got to bake (and eat) all these yummy treats. First, a few words about my latest crockpot dinner, Chianti braised short ribs. I decided to use some spinach and risotto to finish out this dish, as I'm on a total risotto kick and Jeremy hadn't been around to taste my last round.

The short ribs came out fairly well. I really enjoyed the sauce and tomatoes that they were cooked in, though I think next time I'll use pork spare ribs or try to find some bison ribs. Not that these were bad, I just don't think I'm into beef short ribs that much. To me they were a little dry, just a hair. One thing I did learn though, was to sear your meat in a sauce pan first before putting it in the crock pot. This will coat the outside in that nice flavorful crust, if you will. Similar to what you would do with a steak.

I also took some time this weekend to make some king cake (from scratch) as well as snickerdoodle cupcakes. Let me tell you, these cupcakes are awesome. The recipe is from Martha Stewart and can be found HERE.

The recipe makes 24 cupcakes, however, since I was taking them to work, I decided to make mini cupcakes so more people could enjoy them. Plus, they make wonderful bite size snacks throughout the day. Also, I would cut the seven-minute frosting recipe in half. Man, it makes a LOT of frosting. As I was frosting these yesterday, I thought to myself, man it's a shame to throw all this frosting away, I should do something with it. So I put the remaining frosting in a container and into the fridge. Because it's a marshmallow/meringue type frosting, I wasn't sure how it would hold up, but I though I'd give it a try. Well I'm so glad I did this, because this morning I woke to a mess on the floor and a very guilty looking cat. Now the story goes like this...

I wake up this morning and grab the king cake and the cupcakes to put them near the door (lest I forget them). At this point I realize that I have the cupcakes that were in cake caddy, but I couldn't find the ones that I had just wrapped up with aluminum foil. They weren't on the table, in the kitchen, on the chair, nowhere. At first I thought I was loosing my mind, surely they didn't just disappear... did they? Then the light bulb goes off. I slowly walk myself over to the dining room table and peer over the edge to the back side. Yep, there they are, laying upside down. UGH! I step closer to examine the damage. They are still contained in the tin and foil, more or less, but there are distinct tears in the foil as if some little creature was trying to get at that fluffy white icing. I turn my head and said little creature is peering through the doorway looking at me clean up this mess. After we had a little "discussion", and she could sense the anger in my eyes, she took off under the bed and hid for the rest of the morning. Probably a smart decision. Anyway, I managed to salvage 12 of the 24 cupcakes that fell and then was very grateful that I kept the remaining icing from the previous night. I managed to remove all the icing from the 12 salvaged cupcakes and re-icing them doing a half-ass, but probably not too bad, of a job. I think people at work will still like them, even though the icing isn't perfect. See the above picture for what they looked like, pre Malachi attack.

Also this weekend I whipped up a king cake (see above mention) as well as a breakfast frittata (eggs, bacon, shallots, cheese, bacon, green onion, bacon, potatoes... and bacon). Garnish with avocado and Greek yogurt.

To make one of these, I used a mandolin (not the musical instrument) to slice up some potatoes and fry those up in a cast iron (or other oven proof) skillet. Also add green peppers, onions, garlic, shallots, bacon, meat, whatever else you want. When these are about done pour over 5-6 eggs scrambled. (I add pepper, pinch of salt, turmeric, and cumin to my eggs during beating). You'll want to let the bottom of the frittata set up carefully pulling the sides away and allowing some of the egg to slide down and cook. After it's beginning to set up, (top may still be liquid) add some cheese and stick in the oven on a rack 6" from the top. Broil for 3-4 minutes, watching it until it turns brown in color. Ta da. Frittata.

I realize this post is getting long, so I'll just quickly update you on our melting pot experience. Jeremy and I went last Friday night, for the first time. It was a LOT of food... and expensive. We got the 'big night out' special, which includes a cheese fondue, salad, meat course with your choice of broth fondue (NY strip, lobster, ravioli, shrimp, fillet minion, wurst, chicken), and a chocolate fondue. To me, the best part was the cheese. I'd love to go back for happy hour and just do cheese fondue and drinks. The chocolate was also very tasty, though we were quite full at that point.

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