Saturday, August 31, 2013

Barbecue Chicken Salad

Changes are taking place...

so that means you eat the same things.

Like pizza, and burgers, and frozen lasagna, and...chicken salad. 

I had absolutely no intention on sharing yet another chicken salad recipe with you at least until summer 2014, but then this happened and I simply couldn't resist.  I threw this together on a whim one day (several weeks ago, actually.  I've been MIA, if you haven't noticed.  Like I said though, there are some changes taking place in our lives- more on that at a later time, but no, I'm not bearing child) and it was love at first bite.  But we're kind of barbecue freaks in this house.  It's sweet and spicy and tangy and perfectly acceptable this labor day weekend.  And a heckuvalot more up my alley than smoking a brisket.


sorry, keeping it short today folks!  hopefully i'll be back in the blogging swing of things soon!

Barbecue Chicken Salad

1 large chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (I used Head Country Hot for a little kick!)

Combine chicken celery, onion, and corn.  Sprinkle with italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and toss.  Add in mayo and barbecue sauce; toss to coat.  Refrigerate for one hour or until ready to eat.

Chelsea Original :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lemon Cake with Coconut Marshmallow Frosting and Toasted Coconut

So I'm sure you've figured that I have feelings for you now.

I’m talking to you, Lemon Cake.

And five years ago I said these words to Nathan and we finally became a couple. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

He is absolutely hilarious (today I endured a brief dance breakout at Lowe’s and some very enthusiastic singing in the car), incredibly thoughtful (he’s the guy to thank for my beloved stand mixer and chi flat iron, as well as the occasional “because-I-love-you” donut, and I'll never forget that perfect proposal), does a mean worm (and has a scar on his chin to prove it), is the most adorable sleeper (we’re talking arms stretched behind his head as if he’s posing for a Levi’s ad), and has a pretty face to look at (yea, he’s a stud). It’s kind of hard to put into words how much I love this guy.

So in honor of five years with the man of my dreams, I made us a celebratory cake. Bursting with lemon, topped with a coconut marshmallow frosting and flaked, toasted coconut, it’s just a little gesture to say I love you, Nathan.

And thanks for letting me change my facebook status.

Lemon Cake with Coconut Marshmallow Frosting and Toasted Coconut

Makes one (9-inch) springform pan

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
the zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (this was 3 lemons for me)
3 tablespoons milk

Marshmallow Frosting
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut, toasted if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a round 9-inch cake pan (mine was springform) with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together sifted flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add in cooled butter and vanilla extract, whisking until combined. Stir in all of the lemon zest. Add half of the flour mixture, stirring well, then add in the lemon juice and milk. Stir in remaining dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Pour into the greased 9-inch pan and use a spatula to even out the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cake is set and springs back when touched. Remove and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat-proof bowl, preferably the bowl of your electric stand mixer. Place over top of a double-boiler that contains simmering water, and whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are slightly warm. Immediately remove the bowl and place it on your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beating slow at first and gradually increasing the speed to high. Beat for 6-7 minutes until glossy and thick, then beat in coconut extract for another minute until combined. Frost cake as desired, then top with coconut!

Adapted from How Sweet It Is.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake: Mission Complete

This is it baby.

It took one year, seven rounds, fifty+ Official Cupcake Explorers who at long last found one chocolate winner.

Let’s start at the beginning. Last June I was chosen to participate in the quest for the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake for the incredibly creative blog The Cupcake Project. I wrote up a little blurb as to why I should be chosen. It went along the lines of I have a blog, I’m a baker, I’ve made the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake, blah blah blah. Anywho, my wit and words won me a prized spot in this little venture. (And you should have seen the celebration. Bouncing-in-my-seat, hands-in-the-air ecstatic. Luckily, in the privacy of my own home).

And so the quest began. All seven rounds, as it turned out. The goal was a 60 percent vote by Explorers to agree that Yes! This is the Ultimate! Now I won’t lie, I did vote rounds 2 and 6 as winners, and every round had its pros (nicely domed, easy to follow recipe, wonderfully sweet) and cons (ugly appearance, too dense, somewhat dry), but all that turned around when I received Round 7’s recipe in an email mid-May.

Perfect everything. Perfect appearance, perfect crumb, perfect density, perfect texture, perfect chocolate flavor, perfect sweetness; ultimately perfect!

And so, without further ado, I give you…

The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake!!

See Stef’s Blog, The Cupcake Project, for more reviews about the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake!

The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake

Makes 12 cupcakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 ounces of your favorite chocolate (you can use any plain chocolate that you like except white chocolate or candy melts. The chocolate doesn't have to be one typically earmarked for baking- any chocolate that isn't flavored and doesn't contain mix-ins like nuts, krispies, nougat, etc. will work.)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil, measured in a liquid measuring cup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup room temperature water, measured in a liquid measuring cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined. Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a separate medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well after sifting. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined after each addition. Mix in water until just combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in the oven. Check for doneness at 18 minutes - a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. If they are not done, check again every two minutes until they are done. (Mine took 20 minutes!)

Immediately remove cupcakes from the cupcake tin and place on a cooling rack or on the counter to cool to room temperature.

[If you would like to add coffee to the recipe, either add 1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee granules along with the sifted dry ingredients, or replace the water with room temperature brewed coffee.]

Adapted from The Cupcake Project.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

bits and bites

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts.  Figured it was time to be random.

1.  I mentioned this in the last post, but I’m currently reading (almost finished!) Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  Loving it.  This is not a happy-go-lucky book.  You’ve been warned.  Also, recently read Her (Laura Zigman) and love love loved that as well.  Witty, well-written, chicklit at its finest.  Couldn’t put it down. 

2. A week or so ago, Nathan and I were out and about and the Google Maps Car passed us!  We waved from our vehicle.  Then, the other night, Nathan was in our front yard and it drove down our street!  He waved (let’s hope that's all he did).  How cool is that?!  It’s the little things :)

3. So I am officially obsessed with four new blogs:  Sally’s Baking Addiction (great indulgences, great detail as to how each ingredient is imperative to making every treat delicious), Averie Cooks (more indulgences and more detail- which has aided me in tweaking some of my recipes at the bakery to make my goodies even better!), Joy the Baker (awesome recipes, awesome writing.  Something about her wit just sucks me in), and The Small Things Blog (hair and makeup help, anyone?  This girls got you covered.  So many cute hair ideas.  (I’m hooked on the alternative bun.)

4. Speaking of following blogs…I added a Bloglovin’ gadget.  Feel free to follow me!

5.  And last but not least, a girl I work with at the bakery recently asked me if I cook at home after baking all morning.  My response:  "not at much as I would like". 

Here is a (large) handful of recipes I came across during July that I hope(!) to make :) I dream big.  Enjoy browsing for yourself, my friends.

whole wheat no-knead dinner rolls with honey butter.  who doesn’t love warm, soft, homemade rolls?
blt pizza.  with roasted corn and crumbled feta.  wow.
cherry vanilla layer cake.  beautiful.
chipotle chicken salad.  let the chicken salad obsession continue.
easy oreo ice cream sandwiches.  simple and genius.
frozen coconut mango pops.  they’re healthy too!
banana zucchini pudding cake.  moist moist and more moist.
maple dijon salmon with bacon.  made this.  loved this.
peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate chip cookie crust.  this might convert me to love cheesecake.
smores cookie sandwiches.  graham cookies + marshmallow filling, dipped in chocolate.
strawberry tuxedo cake.  gorgeous.
salted dark chocolate truffle cookies.  so making these for Christmas.
united states of burgers.  there’s a burger for every state!

oh, and what's that picture at the top of the post, you ask?  just you wait. 

just you wait.