Monday, February 24, 2014

Mrs Baxton's Long Island Iced Tea

For my gentleman's surprise party, I rented a limo and we all stocked it with beer. I also know that he really likes Long Island Iced Teas, which are excellent because they are full of liquor but don't taste too boozy. I did a search for the best recipe and then multiplied it by 10. I then took some regular water bottles, emptied them out, and funneled in all the ingredients to make 10 individual Long Islands. Closed up the bottle, shook 'em up, refrigerated til it was time for the party.

They turned out perfectly! I'm usually terrible at mixed drinks! I never even bothered to post about the time I made chocolate pudding shots because they were so bad. So this was pretty magical. They were consumed and enjoyed, and I have no photos of them.

Mrs Baxton's Long Island Iced Tea
AllRecipes

1 fluid ounce vodka
1 fluid ounce gold tequila
1 fluid ounce rum
1 fluid ounce gin
1 fluid ounce Cointreau or triple sec
5 fluid ounces sweet and sour mix
2 fluid ounces cola
1 lime wedge

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice; pour in vodka, tequila, rum, gin, Cointreau, and sweet and sour mix. Cover and shake until the outside of the shaker is frosty. Place a few cubes of ice into a highball glass, and strain in the iced tea. Top with the cola, and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

My gentleman's birthday is coming up, and being the most awesome girlfriend ever, I gathered up his friends and threw him a surprise party. Instead of making a cake, I opted for cupcakes, for the following reasons:
1) He does not really like sweets (I'll expand on this in a minute).
2) Everyone would be drunk, and cupcakes are much easier to eat.
3) I could decorate them with little flags and make them piratey.

I have never made anything so beautiful in all my life.

cupcake

So here's what they are: chocolate stout cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. I used Steelhead Extra Stout for an extra-strong flavor, and added about a tablespoon of instant espresso powder to deepen the chocolate flavor. Both of these things helped to significantly reduce the sweetness and make it much more Gentleman-appropriate.

The frosting was also wonderful, and it worked so well with the cupcake to add an extra something special and counteract the bitterness. It's basically a buttercream with some homemade caramel mixed in. I won't lie; I really screwed up the caramel. Twice. The first time, I burned it. The second time, I accidentally hit the softball stage and when I added the cream the entire thing seized and was ruined. I ended up using the burned caramel. It turned out it wasn't too far gone and the richness of the buttercream hid the mistakes.

caramel

These worked out perfectly. They accomplished all of the things I had hoped they would. Everyone was drunk, everyone ate cupcakes. Some of the other gentlemen decided to smear frosting on each other (don't ask) and I can tell you that was much easier to clean up than cake would have been. Most importantly, my gentleman really liked them!!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
From Dough See Dough via Pinterest

Cupcakes:
3/4 cup hershey's special dark cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce bottle Guinness Extra Stout, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

Salted Caramel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Frosting:
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Mini pretzel twists to garnish (I did not use these)
Sea salt, for topping

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 24 muffin tins or line with cupcake liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the stout, butter, vanilla and eggs. Beat together until combined. Mix in Greek yogurt until smooth and well combined. Carefully stir in dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until cupcakes are domed in the center and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before place removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the salted caramel: place sugar and water in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir carefully until sugar is dissolved, being careful not to touch the sides of the pan. Bring mixture to a boil and stop stirring. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until mixture turns a deep amber brown color, about 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and carefully stir in whipping cream and vanilla extract. Let cool for 1 hour.

To make the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until well combined. Add in 1/2 cup of caramel and mix until fluffy.

Frost cooled cupcakes with salted caramel frosting and drizzle remaining caramel on top. Garnish with a mini pretzel twist and a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, if desired.

Servings: 24

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cookie Monday: Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

It snowed AGAIN this weekend - we have a total of about 33" stacked up in my yard from all the storms recently - so I wanted to avoid going to the store if possible. Luckily, I had all the ingredients for these basic peanut butter cookies. These are the standard, classic PB cookie. Criss-cross on the top and everything. I got it from my old Southern Living Cookbook, which is almost always reliable for these sorts of things. The cookies were tasty and enjoyable. And, fun fact! according to the cookbook, they have only 83 calories apiece. Hooray!

cookie

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies
The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, page 147

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sugar

Beat butter and peanut butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs, beating well.

Combine flour, soda, and salt in a medium bowl; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in vanilla. Cover and chill 3 hours.

Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls; place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Dip a form in additional sugar; flatten cookies in a criss-cross design. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 6 dozen

Friday, February 07, 2014

Super Bowl 2014

Okay! Let's wrap this all up. So we had a Super Bowl party last weekend and a bunch of people came over. For me, this was really my first opportunity since moving to this house a year ago to really Have A Party. I got lots of drinks and chips, and I printed out huge posters from Tumblr of things like Tom Brady crying and Peyton Manning's head on a horse. I even printed out Marshawn Lynch to put into a bowl of Skittles.

skittles

So here's a basic rundown of what we had, besides Skittles, chips, soda, and beer:

table

*Vegetables & dip
*Buffalo Chicken Dip from my friend Kiefer (no recipe available, sorry)
*Taco Dip
*Sideline Smokies
*Strawberry-Lime Margarita Jello Shots
*Smoky wings from Grumpys in Allentown:
grumpys

*These bad boys from my friend Jason:
cookies
Unsure what exactly they were, but there was definitely a crushed pretzel base, some caramel, and some chocolate. SO good. I wish I had gotten the recipe.

*Brownies (from a box), cut into football-shapes with a cookie cutter and decorated with icing:
brownies

*Cupcakes from a box, with homemade printable flags I found on Pinterest
cupcakes

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Sideline Smokies

Well, I posted about the foods that didn't work at our Super Bowl party, so now it's time to read about the good ones. So, obviously I can't vouch for this one since it's meaty. Lots and lots of meat. But I had zero of them left by the end of the night, and my gentleman was annoyed that we had no leftovers. What I've ascertained from this is the following: these are amazing and should be made for every football game and/or party.

They are very, very easy. I put on some surgical gloves and carefully wrapped up the Li'l Smokies in bacon, then baked them with some brown sugar. They were done just as the game was starting, so I stuck them in my football-shaped crockpot on a low setting so people could eat them throughout the night. They didn't stay super-crispy while in the crockpot, but they did maintain all of their flavor and that's what's important.

Definitely going to make this again. Surprised?

lilsmokies

Sideline Smokies
Betty Crocker

16 ounces bacon
14 ounces little smokie sausages
1 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet or jelly roll pan with tin foil.

2. Using kitchen scissors cut your bacon into thirds. There's no need to cut each individual piece; cut the whole slab at one time.

3. Wrap 1/3 of each bacon slice around a smokie and secure it with a toothpick. After you have wrapped all of the smokies, place them on the baking sheet and sprinkle brown sugar on top of each smokie.

4. Bake sausages for 40-45 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the brown sugar has melted.

5. Serve immediately or keep warm in a slow cooker.

Servings: 48

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

Guys, I'm striking out here with all these eggless "cookie dough" dips from Pinterest. Everyone raves about them. There isn't a blog around that doesn't feature one dip or another. But I tried the Funfetti Cake Batter Dip a few months ago and it was just okay. And then this one was just terrible. Just. Terrible.

The biggest problem here is that I don't know WHY it was so terrible. I didn't even take it out of the refrigerator for our Super Bowl party. I just left it in there. I made my gentleman and the first few guests poke at it with pretzels to see if it was just me or if it really was just mediocre. Myself and one other person hated it, my gentleman and another guest felt it was 'just okay' but didn't hate it. I don't get it. The texture? The cream cheese tanginess? The fact that it did not taste like monster cookies?

I'd like to say I'm done making these dips but you know I'll try another recipe eventually anyway. I always do.

I didn't take a picture since it never left the refrigerator, so instead, here is a picture of the bowl of Skittles I decorated with Marshawn Lynch:

skittles

Monster Cookie Dough Dip
The Girl Who Ate Everything via Pinterest

8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup plain M&Ms
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter until smooth.

Add in the powdered sugar, brown sugar, flour, and vanilla.

Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer or just a wooden spoon, mix in the oats. Add the M&Ms and chocolate chips.

Store in the refrigerator until serving. Serve with pretzels, graham crackers, or apple slices. You can dip or spread this depending on how thick you made your dip.

Note: You can use more or less oats to adjust the thickness of your dip. Start with about 1 1/2 cups oats and keep adding until you reach your desired thickness. If you use quick oats you might use less since it's finer and will make the dough thicker.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Strawberry-Lime Margarita Jello Shots

We had a Super Bowl party at our house this year! I will post about all the food at a later time (when I have a chance) but I at least wanted to share with you the most genius new invention, discovered on Pinterest: Jello shots made inside of hollowed-out strawberries. They were delicious AND nutritious AND full of tequila.

I used lime jello because a box of unflavored gelatin was $9.00 and a box of lime jello was 89 cents. As such, I did not add as much lime juice as the recipe called for and just added some extra tequila. Seemed reasonable. I didn't put the limes on the top, even though it would have looked cute. They set up very well and were gone by the end of the night. Largely by me because they were so good! This will be a fun idea to experiment with on various occasions.

*Note: while googling to find where I got this recipe, I discovered that this is way more complicated than most people's recipes. Most people just use the tequila and some lime or lemon juice, then dip the tops in salt or sugar. Meh. Do whatever you want!

shot

Strawberry Lime Margarita Jello Shots
She's Cookin' via Pinterest

2 pints large, fresh strawberries
2 limes, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup good quality tequila
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
6 tablespoons water
1-2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Pinch of salt

Cut the bottoms of the strawberry flat to get them to stand upright. When you do so, make sure that you do not cut off so much that there is a hole at the bottom. Use a huller, apple corer, or paring knife to carefully remove the fruit from inside the strawberry. Once the strawberries have been emptied, use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to pat the outside of the strawberries dry. Check each strawberry and make sure there is not a hole in the bottom before you start filling.

In a medium bowl add tequila and fresh squeezed juices. Sprinkle gelatin over the top. Heat water in a microwave until boiling, add sugar and whisk a few times. Pour hot sugar water into the tequila and add Grand Marnier and a small pinch of salt.

Whisk the mixture until gelatin dissolves (about 3 minutes). If gelatin is not dissolving, heat briefly (start at 30 seconds) in the microwave, being careful not to allow mixture to boil and continue whisking. The sugar will also dissolve. Pour the mixture into a 1 cup glass measuring cup and slowly pour into the center of each strawberry. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.