Strawberry Cupcakes

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Ok, I promise I DO make cupcakes that aren’t chocolate or strawberry… Just not lately. 😜 As someone who is perched definitively in the chocolate camp, I was surprised at how much I enjoy these. Moist (I hate that I just used that word) vanilla cake folded with strawberries and a strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream that tastes like a strawberry milkshake. Mmmhmmm! I will say this frosting is a pain in the booty to make, all that constant whipping and temperature checking… A lot needs to go right. But when it does, you get this frothy, lighter-than-air frosting that is well worth the wait. I make this in peppermint and marshmallow as well 😋 Good stuff, Maynard!

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes:

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2½ cups finely chopped fresh strawberries

For the frosting:

  • 1½ cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:

  • To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend.

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  • Next, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each egg.

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  • With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture with the milk in 2 additions, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with a spatula.

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  • Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling each about ¾-full.

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  • Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (this was about 24 mins in my oven), rotating the pans halfway through baking. Allow to cool in the pans a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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  • To make the frosting, place the strawberries in a food processor or blender. Puree until completely smooth.

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  • Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved (which will feel like it takes FOR-EV-ER).

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  • Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temp. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, completely incorporating before adding the next batch. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and again. From personal experience, this can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 10-15. Don’t give up!20140625-151302-54782927.jpg
  • Finally, blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely mixed.20140625-151301-54781178.jpg20140625-151300-54780337.jpg
  • Frost and enjoy!

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

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Mmmm, strawberries.

 

Mark’s Best Ever Bacon Cheeseburgers

As these babies bear the name of their creator, I tried convincing Mark to write this as a guest blog. He begged it off, claiming he wasn’t as good with “book-learnin” words 😜 so I’ll do my best and update if I’ve missed something! Anyway. These burgers. Aaaaah. Thick, juicy, delicious. The ingredients will run you a bit more than the average burger but they are soooo worth it! You want a good mix of meat so you have plenty of fat and beefy flavor. Bacon is optional… Who are we kidding, who says no to bacon?! We got some great, thick-cut stuff from Goose the Market, as well as some yummy short rib. The best meat is obviously ground fresh, so hit up your local butcher or better yet- grind it yourself. Then fire up the grill and be prepared to feast 😋 The quantities I listed are enough to feed at least 6 people, depending on how big you make your burgers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb short rib
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1 lb chuck
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • Sliced cheese of your choosing (we went with Cheddar, but the possibilities are endless)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder

Directions:

  • To start, place your strips of bacon on a foil lined cooking sheet. Throw ’em in a cold oven, turning it to 400 degrees and cooking for about 20 minutes. Set aside on some paper towel to drain the grease.
  • Next, it’s time to grind some meat! Glorious meat.

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  • If you have a stand mixer, invest in the meat grinder attachment for the meat-lovin man in your life. Thanks to my fab mother-in-law for gifting us ours! 😘 Mark suggests cubing your meat to make it easier to fit through the grinder. Once you’ve got the meat through, use your hands to mix in your pepper and powders… NOT the salt! Don’t add the salt til the very end, or you’ll end up with some dryyyyy meat. Gross. Anywho, just eyeball those spices, because neither Mark or I have a clue how much he used. Just keep sprinkling til it looks/feels/smells right!

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  • Next, form your patties. Use your thumb to put a dentin the center. This will keep your patties from deflating on the grill.

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  • If you’re preparing ahead, this is the point you can pop them back in the fridge. You want your meat as cold as possible before it hits the grill to get the best flavor. Otherwise, fire up your grill. If yours is a gas grill like ours, light 2 burners to high heat and leave the 3rd off. If you’re using charcoal… Use your best guesstimate. Either way, you want an internal temp of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit for safe eating. Salt your patties just before placing them on the grill. Cook til desired doneness, adding bacon then cheese over the top if using for the last few seconds. (In our hosting guests/impending concert excitement, we forgot to get photos of this part. Whoops!)  Remove to a plate to rest and let those juices settle.

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  • Dress ’em up the way you please and you’ve got one TASTY burger!

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Recipe from Mr. Mark Daily, inspired by Chris Eley of GtM and Smoking Goose Meatery. If you’ve never been to either, please rectify that situation. A couple of Indianapolis gems!

Goose the Market – 2503 N Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46205 (get a sandwich while you’re there!)

Smoking Goose Meatery – 407 Dorman St, Indianapolis, IN 46203 (you can pop across the street to Flat 12 to get some brews to go with your delightful burgers 🙂 )

 

Black Bottom Cupcakes

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Rich chocolate. Gooey cheesecake. That’s all you need to know! 😜 But really, these are some of the yummiest and easiest cupcakes in my repertoire. They aren’t the prettiest, but they’re so tasty no one seems to mind. Give ’em a try!

Ingredients:
For the topping:

  • 1 block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your muffin tins (this recipe makes about 18 cupcakes). Using either a stand mixer or hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Add egg yolk, mixing well until completely combined. Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula and set aside.

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  • Next, prepare the cupcakes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder). Once well blended, add wet ingredients (water, oil, vinegar, vanilla) and mix until smooth.

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  • Fill each liner about 2/3 full with cupcake batter, then top with about 1 tbsp of cheesecake mixture.

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  • Bake about 25 minutes, until edges are firm to the touch. In the words of the recipe’s author: YUMMO! And super easy, right?! Happy baking 😄

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Recipe from Rachael Ray Everyday

Restaurant review: Ember Urban Eatery

Ember is situated in Fletcher Place on the south side, an area quickly growing in terms of culinary offerings. Not far from Fountain Square, it’s situated in the old Donato’s space at the corners of Virginia, Fletcher, and East streets. They opened earlier this year, and we’ve had our eye on trying it since they participated in Devour Downtown. Friday night before the Ray Lamontagne concert proved to be our opportunity! Sorry for the lack or photos; we were with friends and we were digging in before I thought about it.

I have to start with our rather unfortunate encounter with the owner. Not knowing how busy this joint typically is at 6:30 on a Friday night, I thought it was a good idea to make a reservation. So I did, via Open Table, and made the rez for 6 people as we had another couple potentially joining us and thought it better to overestimate than under (right?!). We get to the restaurant and find it’s not super busy. The 4 of us are shown to a table on the patio, we order drinks, all is well. The owner (who seated us) comes marching over and asks if one of us is Erin with the reservation, so naturally I identify myself. She then goes on to scold me like a small child for making a reservation for 6 people and only having 4, stating that she “eats the cost” of less people showing up because Open Table charges the restaurant for “no-shows”, approximately $2.50/person. Oh, and could I go ahead and get back on the site and change my reservation so she wouldn’t get charged? She ended by telling me it would look bad on me, as an Open Table account holder, if I continue to make reservations for more people than I actually expected and my account would be flagged. She then proceeded to sit a few tables away and light up a cigarette… Um, are you kidding me?! I had no idea Open Table charged for guests that don’t arrive, and I’ve used the app in similar situations but have never, EVER, been treated that way by restaurant staff, let alone the owner! To say it put a bad taste in my mouth was putting it lightly.

Thankfully, the food was better than the attitude. Ember offers a rotating tap of mostly local draft beers, which seems to be becoming an expectation in most new restaurants (a trend I’m more than okay with!) as well as a reasonable wine selection. Our group shared an order of chicken wings and spinach artichoke dip, which was plenty for 4 people. The wings were smoky and crispy, easily some of the better wings I’ve tasted. The dressing served with them was a bit peppery, however, so I just ate mine plain. The spin dip was ok, nothing to rave about. The menu consists of a wide variety of sandwiches and burgers with a few pasta options. Our friends chose sandwiches with fries; Mark also ordered an Italian beef sandwich. I opted to try one of the specials for the day: smoked scallops with pancetta and wilted spinach on a bed of risotto. I was not disappointed! The scallops were perfectly cooked with the right amount of smokiness, and the pancetta added a nice bit of saltiness to the dish.

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No one else was overly impressed with their food. I sampled some fries; they were similar to Wendy’s in my opinion. Mark’s Italian beef wasn’t seasoned well, and he said it wouldn’t even make his top 10 in the city… I’m not sure he’s even tried 10 different Italian beefs in Indy, so that’s saying something. For 3 beers, an app, 2 entrees and tip, our bill was about $60- to me, not worth it. We might have gone back to try more of the menu, but after the tongue lashing we received from the owner, I’d rather take my business elsewhere. There are too many new places popping up to waste my time!

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

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Didn’t want to throw you guys off with something too fancy – so here’s a dinner that’s got a few steps, but can easily be made ahead of time. This would be a great supper for someone who is sick, just had a baby, etc. It can be made and stuck in the freezer, then just baked a bit longer to compensate! I like to think of this as a healthier take on a similar Velveeta casserole I’m sure we’ve all had at some point in our lives 😉 And the little bit of cayenne gives it just a hint of a kick. I highly recommend trying this if you’re looking for a new way to use quinoa!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (doesn’t matter what kind; I’ve made it with red, white, and tricolor with equally good results)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 garlic powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions. In the meantime, steam broccoli just a few minutes so that it is still a little crisp but mostly tender. Put quinoa and broccoli in a large bowl with your chicken and set aside.

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  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or don’t, if you’re making in advance). Next, we’ll make our cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, onion, and spices and continue whisking until light golden, or a couple of minutes.

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  • Now slowly whisk in the milk, allowing it to simmer until it bubbles and thickens (about 5 minutes, give or take).

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  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Pour your cheesy goodness over your quinoa, broccoli, and chicken and stir together until well mixed.

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  • Finally, spread the mixture into a greased or foil-lined 9×13 casserole dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is bubbling. Serve up a scoop and chow down 😋

Recipe slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Grilled Chili Lime Pork Tenderloin

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I have a confession to make… I only really learned how to use a grill last summer. Embarassing, I know! It’s not like it’s hard. Anywho, this quickly was added to the “oooh we gotta make this again” list once we got a taste. True, it takes a while to marinate, but the end product is soooo worth it. Tender, juicy pork infused with chili flavor and hints of lime, this is another meal that looks really impressive and elegant with little work involved. Add a green side and you’ve got a delightful meal!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Directions:

  • Place pork in a shallow dish/pan of your choosing. In a bowl, combine oil, lime juice, soy sauce, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir well to combine. Pour mixture over pork and use hands to coat completely. Cover dish and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight if possible. (We marinated ours for about 8 hours and I thought it was perfect. Up to you and your preparedness level!)

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I didn't realize I'd bought a two-fer package, but I went ahead and made both since the total weight was 1.5 lbs. it didn't go to waste!

I didn’t realize I’d bought a two-fer package, but I went ahead and made both since the total weight was 1.5 lbs. it didn’t go to waste!

  • Once you’ve reached desired time of marinade-goodness, prepare your grill. Get your grill nice and hot, about 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the grill is ready, season each side of your pork with a little salt and pepper before placing on the grill. Sear, without moving, for about 4 minutes. Flip pork and sear other side for another 4 minutes.

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  • Once you’ve got some tasty looking grill marks on both sides of your tenderloin, flip it back to the first side and decrease the temperature of your grill to about 475 degrees. Close lid and cook for 6-8minutes, depending on how pink you like your tenderloin (regardless, the internal temperature should reach about 170 degrees). Flip and repeat on opposite side until desired doneness reached. Remove from grill and let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing and serving. This step is really important- it cooks the pork just a tiny bit more and allows all of those delicious juices to settle inside. Plate with the side of your choice and some extra lime wedges for an extra shot of lime flavor if you’d like!

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Recipe from A Farmgirl Dabbles

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

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This past weekend, I baked 4 dozen cupcakes for a coworker’s daughter’s high school open house. Of the 4 different flavors, this one is one of the more time consuming but is one of my favorites to make… partially thanks to the fact that the recipe always makes too much of the eggless cookie dough filling (so you can eat as much as you want, no salmonella risk involved!). I also made these for Jack’s 1st birthday, and they were met with Jack’s version of 3 Michelin stars.

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I love this recipe because it invokes that classic chocolate chip cookie flavor, but in a cupcake… Can it get much better? Topped with cookie dough flavored buttercream and a smattering of mini chocolate chips, these are sure to be a hit.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

For the filling:

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting: 

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mini chocolate chips for garnish

Directions:

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Don’t you just want to grab a spoon?! *Insert Homer Simpson drool sound here*

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Recipe from Annie’s Eats