February 28, 2012

Basic Marinara

A few weeks ago, I checked out this Pinterest website that I was hearing so much about.  I was a bit confused by it at first, but I think I've caught on pretty quickly.  =)  I like that there is such a variety of things on there to look at, all in one place.  I came across a pin for make ahead meals.  I LOVE make ahead meals, so I checked it out.  I found this recipe for marinara in the bunch.  I could barely wait to try it!  I was able to make it over the weekend.  It smelled delicious while it was cooking!  I was able to get five two-cup servings and two one-cup servings in freezer bags. 

Basic Marinara

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
2 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 
3 (28-ounce) cans no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients (through fennel seeds); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 55 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

To store in the freezer: Ladle room-temperature or chilled sauce into plastic containers or zip-top plastic bags. Seal and freeze for up to four months. Consider freezing the sauce in one-cup increments (two servings' worth). That way, you can pull out exactly as much as you want for future meals. 

Yield - 12 cups

Hat Tip - My Recipes

February 12, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I'm still alive!  =)  Since Christmas, things have been a bit hectic here, but in a good way.  We had our first trip to Paris and London.  It was amazing!  The food (especially the pastries) were delicious!  At least once a week I ask Sweetie "When can we go back to Paris?".  I haven't gotten a clear answer yet, but I will be persistent. 

Last weekend, I made these cupcakes for dessert with some of our neighbors.  Unfortunately, the pictures I took didn't turn out and then all the cupcakes were gone.  Sweetie really liked these, so I decided I would make them again this weekend with the hopes of getting a better picture.

These cupcakes are delicious!  They have a very velvety texture with creamy, luscious frosting.  I enjoyed piping the frosting on these cupcakes, so I'm pretty sure I will be making more cupcakes so I can pipe frosting.  =)

I made a red velvet layer cake last year for Valentine's Day.  It was delicious as well, but these cupcakes are so darn cute and tasty! 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcakes -

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting -

4 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard muffin/cup pan with liners.

On medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Turn the mixer to high speed and add the egg.  Scrape down the bowl and beat until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and red food coloring to make a thick paste.  (It will take a few minutes.)  Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined.  You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.

Reduce mixer speed to and slowly add half of the buttermilk.  Add half of the flour and mix until combined.  Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining buttermilk and flour.  Beat on high until smooth.

Again, reduce the mixer speed to slow and add the salt, baking soda, and vinegar.  Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting -

Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated.  Add the vanilla and mix to combine.  Increase the speed to medium-high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Yield - 12 cupcakes

Hat Tip - Brown Eyed Baker