Monday, February 28, 2011

Butterbeer Cupcakes!

The second I saw this recipe, I knew I HAD to make them! Especially after visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I finally had an entire day without plans, and a party to attend, so I knew it was the perfect occasion for these! They were a LOT of work, but totally worth it!
Taste: SO good! Exactly like the actual butterbeer!
Texture: Cupcakes came out a little dry, I would recommend only baking for about 13 minutes. The ganache in the middle added a lot of moisture though.
Would I make this again?: They are a lot of work but really delicious! I might just make other butterscotch flavored stuff. Except I might have to make these when the last movie comes out.

Butterbeer Cupcakes
From: Amy Bites
Makes 18

For the cupcakes:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda

For the ganache:
1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips
1 cup heavy cream

For the buttercream frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 16-oz. package powdered sugar
Splash of milk or cream (as needed)

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream your butter until light and fluffy. Add your sugars and beat until well-combined. Beat in your eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in your vanilla and butter flavoring.

Alternate adding your buttermilk, cream soda, and dry ingredients in batches until all are well incorporated. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

For butterscotch filling: In a double boiler (heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove), combine butterscotch chips and heavy cream and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cool to room temperature. Fill a squeeze bottle with ganache and insert into the center of each cupcake, squeezing until filling begins to overflow.

For buttercream frosting: Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt and mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until reaching desired consistency. Add milk or cream by the Tablespoon as needed. Frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of butterscotch ganache..

Friday, February 25, 2011


Woo it's the weekend! Hope you have fun plans! I have a couple, but not too many. Hopefully can fit some relaxing in! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

follow the yellow brick road

It's no secret I'm obsessed with Wicked (remember this post). And I'm sure there are a ton of people out there who love The Wizard of Oz. I stumbled across these adorable gems on Etsy and HAD to post them. They are so cute!! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies with Nutella

So I made these for my work department in honor of Valentine's Day. I found a random recipe for cake mix cookies and "iced" them with Nutella. I tried to pipe the Nutella from a Ziploc, but failed at work when I didn't have time to find scissors. So they look a little rough, but tasted fantastic! 
Taste: SO good! Just like little cakes, and the Nutella added some sweetness.
Texture: Very moist cookies.
Would I make this again?: Yes, definitely. With any kind of cake mix.

Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies with Nutella
1 package of cake mix (Strawberry) 1 large egg
1/4 cup of oil
1/4 cup of water

1 jar Nutella

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine cake mix, egg, oil, and water. Beat until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredient (s).
Drop by teaspoon about 1 inch apart onto greased cooke sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes or until done. Frost with Nutella

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Best Thing I Ever Ate : Ippudo NY

Ippudo NY
65 4th Avenue
New York, NY 10003-5220
I had read about this restaurant on the Travel Channel and The Food Network. We attempted to go for lunch, but there was a 45 minutes wait. So we tried again at dinnertime, this time we faced an hour wait, but figured it was worth it. And it 100% was worth the wait. It's a Japanese Ramen noodle chain, with it's first American chain in New York City. 
We started with the Hiarata Buns with pork. They were seriously to die for. Best pork bun I've ever tasted, hands down! And being half-Chinese, I've tasted a lot of pork buns. The boyf doesn't necessarily love pork, and hates mayonnaise, but LOVED these! The bun was the softest I've ever felt or tasted. It literally melted in my mouth. The "original spicy buns sauce" added the perfect amount of spice. And the lettuce added a great crunch to round out the appetizer. And the pork was perfectly cooked and flavored. Oh man, these were out of this world good. 
Next up was the Ramen. We got the "Karaka Kogashi Miso Ramen", or spicy Miso. It had a great charred flavor with a good amount of spice. It was really delicious! We also got the "Shoyu Ramen", soy flavored Ramen. It was also really good! I added some spicy broth to this to add some flavor and spice. The noodles were perfectly cooked, and apparently are made downstairs. And they give you this huge soup spoon, which is really fun. Now I need to find where I can buy them! 
We also got sake which came in really fun shot glasses with boxes around them! The atmosphere at Ippudo is really fun. It's upscale, but also relaxed. There are separated booths, and communal tables around a fire. The waitresses all yell in Japanese, I think they yell Thank you and Goodbye, when people are leaving, but it's really fun to hear and watch. I loved this place, and will definitely try to go back everytime I'm in NYC!
Ippudo on Urbanspoon

Best Thing I Ever Ate : Katz's Delicatessen

Katz's Deli
205 East Houston Street
NY 10002
I had seen this place on multiple shows (Best Thing I Ever Ate, Man vs. Food, etc) so I knew I wanted to grab a sandwich. The place is crazy, the line was out the door when we left. There are 4 lines at each deli slicer, and no one really knows what they are doing. You get a ticket when you walk in and they write what you get at each station. First you get a sandwich, then go to another counter for fries, then another for drinks. It was a mess! But once you figured it out, it worked. 
The boyf and I split a Corned Beef sandwich as they looked huge. And we made a good decision, I barely ate 1/4 of it! It was filled with about 10 layers of corned beef. It normally comes on Rye, but since I'm not a fan, we got it on a sub roll. The sandwich was massive, but really delicious! It came with a plate of home-made pickles which tasted more like cucumbers, but were good.
The other famous sandwich there is the Pastrami, which we will probably get next time. Overall it was a fun experience to see where "Harry met Sally" and all the famous people's pictures on the wall. The deli came up on both our boat and bus tour, so I'm glad I can say I have been and have tasted the humongous sandwiches! 
Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

Best Thing I Ever Ate: Shake Shack

Shake Shack
Multiple locations in NYC

I heard about this place from 2 friends, one of whom lived in New York City for 5 years. So we made it a point to make it here for a meal. The menu is fairly simple: burgers, hot dogs, fries, frozen custard and milkshakes. We got a burger, fries, and a strawberry milkshake. It was really delicious! 
The burger was a manageable size, which I loved. The pickles were extremely seasoned, which were a little strong by themselves, but took the burger to a whole new level. The crinkle fries were really fun and crispy. And the strawberry milkshake was really creamy and delicious. The place gets really crowded so looking for a table could be difficult if you have a larger group. But the atmosphere is fun. Upon further review of the menu, we spotted the "Great White Way" concrete with vanilla custard, marshmallow sauce, and crispy crunchies and might have ordered it later if we weren't stuffed. There is also a "Preztel! Concrete" with chocolate custard, peanut butter sauce, chocolate covered pretzels, and marshmallow sauce. YUM! Definitely getting one of those next time. But I would highly recommend stopping by this place for a great burger and shake! 
Shake Shack (Theater District) on Urbanspoon

The Big Apple

This past weekend, the boyf and I randomly decided to drive up to New York City for the long weekend. Mainly because he had never been, but partly, just because! We had a great trip, filled with bus tours, boat tours, delicious restaurants from The Food Network and the Travel Channel. Mainly tourist things, which was a lot of fun! I'll be posting about the restaurants later, they were all delicious! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Hope you are spending the day with loved ones! I don't need extravagant gifts, being with someone you love is the best present you can receive.
 Found: Betty Crocker

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cupid Missed

This weekend 4 of my girlfriends and I are traveling to Charlotte to visit one of our best friends! We are using this opportunity to go on our 4th Annual "Cupid Missed" Anti-Valentines Day bar crawl. Remember I described it last year? But we didn't technically go on that crawl, so this year is our 4th go-round. (And no, I didn't break up with the boyf, but I can't miss out on all the fun with the girls!!!) Here is our shirt design this year:
And how about this for next year?

valentines day cards

Send these adorable cards to your sweetheart this Valentines Day:
 Found: Etsy
And once again, Tiny Prints has the cutest cards/invitations!!

almost valentines day

Well it's almost Valentine's Day, and I have been slacking on the heart/love posts. So here are lots of cute things I have saved up: 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Cups

I also made these for the Super Bowl. Everyone loved them! Included me. Even though Jalapenos are too spicy for me. I sucked it up and loved these little appetizers! 
Taste: SO good! Pretty spicy, but creamy and delicious.
Texture: Moist filling, and flaky buttery biscuits
Would I make this again?: Yes! Definitely, for any and all parties! 

Jalapeño Popper Cups
From: Pillsbury

1 can (12 oz) Pillsbury® Golden Layers® JRs refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1 can (4.5 oz) Old El Paso® chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)
1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 tablespoons cooked real bacon pieces (from 3- to 4.3-oz jar or package)
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
20 Old El Paso® pickled jalapeño slices (from 12-oz jar), drained

1.Heat oven to 375°F. Separate each biscuit into 3 rounds. Press 1 round in bottom and up side of each of ungreased mini muffin cups.

2.In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients except jalapeño slices. Spoon heaping 1 teaspoon mixture into each cup; top each with 1 jalapeño slice.

3.Bake 13 to 19 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from pan to serving platter; let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Loaded Baked Potato Dip

I made this dip for the Super Bowl, and it was a hit! It was really quick and easy to make. You can make it a day in advance, and the flavors would have time to really blend together. I added more cheese, because I didn't think it would hurt, and it came out out a little chunky. But the flavors were great!
Taste: SO good! Tasted just like the name describes.
Texture: As I said, a little on the chunky side with extra cheese, but it's ok!
Would I make this again?: Yes, definitely! 

Loaded Baked Potato Dip

1/4 pound thick cut bacon
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used a cheese blend and it was still cheesy and delish)
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons hot sauce
waffle fries or potato chips

Put everything in the bowl. (You can save a little bacon and chives to garnish with.)
Mix. Pour it into your container and let chill for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Garnish with the reserved bacon and chives. Serve with some chips or waffle fries.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Best Thing I Ever Ate: Vienna Inn

Vienna Inn
120 East Maple Ave
Vienna, VA, 22180

Growing up in Chantilly, I was always hearing about Vienna Inn and how good the chili dogs were, but I never got around to trying it. It is a semi-famous hole in the wall and once you walk in you immediately know that you are in for a treat. The family style tables were filled with families and friends all there to enjoy bar food and beer. It's a little confusing if you have never been, so we awkwardly sat ourselves and waited to see what would happen. We ordered food and were told that beverages are self-serve. An interesting concept because you then have to tell the cashier what you ordered. The friendly neighborhood atmosphere gives this bar/restaurant its charm.

We tried the chili cheese dog, chili cheese fries and onion rings. All delicious and would highly recommend it all (especially to diners drive-ins and dives).
If you are in the mood for a fun/refreshing dining experience, hit up Vienna Inn. It's a couple minutes down 66 just gotta watch out for rush hour.
xoxo A [bloggy sis] (Who really sucks at taking pictures- JK love you!)
Vienna Inn on Urbanspoon

Grilled Tuna with Olive Tapenade

I saw this recipe while running at the gym, and it sounded really healthy and delicious. I LOVE olives! Especially randomly snacking on them for a little salty treat. But apparently I had never really had a tuna steak, and can't say I'm a huge fan. I also had the boyf do the grocery shopping, and he went to a sketchy Giant, so the fish most likely wasn't very fresh. But he also mistakenly got some salmon, which wasn't awful.Taste: The olive tapenade was great! 
Texture: Chunks of olive- how could you go wrong?
Would I make this again?: I will probably never try to cook tuna steaks ever again. Apparently I don't even like the taste? But I would make the tapenade to put on other things! 

Grilled Tuna with Olive Tapenade

1/2 cup chopped, pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup chopped green olives with pimientos
1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 (6 to 8-ounce) 1-inch thick tuna fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the olives, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, oil, capers, and lemon juice.

Spray a grill rack with nonstick, nonflammable cooking spray. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Grill the tuna until desired degree of doneness, about 3 minutes per side. Serve the tapenade over the grilled fish.

Red Wine, Mushroom and Artichoke Chicken Skillet

This dinner was pretty quick, easy and delicious! And diet friendly. 
Taste: A lot of different and complex flavors.
Texture: Moist with different textures.
Would I make this again?: Probably. It's not one of my all-time favorites, but pretty good!

Check out that steam! 
Red Wine, Mushroom and Artichoke Chicken
From: Gonna Want Seconds

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped garlic
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
1 can-14 ounce diced tomatoes (or fire roasted diced tomatoes with chilies if you like more heat. Trader Joe's has a great version btw)
1 cup tomato sauce
pinch of sugar
1/3 cup Merlot wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 can (14 ounce) artichoke hearts, quartered
3/4 cup green olives stuffed with pimientos, sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of spaghetti, cooked and drained
Parmesan cheese, shredded, for serving

1.Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan to medium high and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken and quickly saute until just browned. Remove to a plate.
2. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion until they just are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 3 - 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until the are soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, wine, balsamic vinegar, basil and oregano and simmer the sauce for about 10 for flavors to marry. Stir in the artichokes, olives, and the chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through (It took me about 10 minutes. The exact time will depend on the size of your chicken chunks.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3.Serve with hot spaghetti and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. And LOTS of Italian bread ;)