Saturday, January 21, 2012

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

Valentine's Day will be here before you know it and we've created the perfect cupcakes for the occasion! Sweet, light, and fruity, these cupcakes are sure to show your sweetie just how much you care.

We made our strawberries & cream cupcakes miniature sized and topped them off with cream cheese frosting and tiny edible pink hearts. They were almost too cute to eat!

We used cream cheese in our batter and it made all the difference in the world compared to most cupcakes we've made in the past. These little cakes were so moist and perfectly formed. With a fresh burst of sweet strawberries in each bite, it was pure cupcake bliss.

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes
Serving Size : 2 mini cupcakes
Makes : 24 mini or 12 regular sized cupcakes

Ingredients :
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp butter, room temp
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 large egg, room temp
2 large egg yolks, room temp
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped strawberries

Instructions : Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and adjust oven rack to the middle. Wash and dice strawberries into small pieces. Sprinkle with 2 tsp of your sugar and set aside. In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add butter, cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until batter is smooth and creamy. Add liners to your cupcake pans and start spooning in mixture. Do not overfill your cupcakes. They should measure about 2/3 up your liner height. Once batter is divvied out, add 1 - 2 tsp of diced strawberries to the top of each cupcake. Using a toothpick, gently push the strawberries down into the batter and evenly distribute them around. Bake until the tops of cakes are golden brown, or 10 minutes for little cupcakes and 15 to 20 for regular sized cakes. To check if your cupcakes are done, insert a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean. Transfer your cupcakes to a wire rack to cool. Cupcakes should be room temperature before frosting.

Click here to view and download the high resolution recipe card

Everyone is sure to swoon over these! And a quick tip - we made a double batch of this recipe and they didn't last too long... Plan accordingly :)

Enjoy and Bon Appétit!
Nicole & Aaron

Monday, January 16, 2012

Harvest Maple Ham & Bean Soup

Aaron and I recently remade an old classic to help get us through some cold winter days. We've always loved ham and bean soup and wanted to give it our own flavor flare.

I quite enjoy the taste of ham paired with sweet maple syrup. Always have. It probably has something to do with my father making the best pineapple, maple ham roasts all my life and now plain ham holds nothing for me. So, our ham for the soup became lightly browned maple glazed ham. Instead of a more stock based broth, we wanted a creamy flavor that would compliment the ham and beans. Cream of asparagus soup was an excellent addition. It added a really mild, slightly sweet base to the entire soup.

With so many fresh and rich flavors mingling together, this soup is delicate and robust all at the same time. 

There's something so warm and inviting about this combination of ingredients. You just know it's going
to be wholesome, healthy, and happy soup.

The recipe makes a fairly decent amount, more than enough to freeze several helpings for later. It heats
back up fantastically after being frozen, just make sure to stir it well as the stock will separate some at first. As you can see from the images, we made skillet corn bread to eat with our soup. With butter and honey, it was the perfect "in between bites of soup" dessert!

Harvest Maple Ham & Bean Soup
Serving Size : 2 cups
Makes : 16 cups (4 quarts)

Ingredients :
1 lb ham, cubed
10 oz dried mixed beans
1 1/2 cups chopped green beans
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 can cream of asparagus soup
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water

Instructions : Add dried bean medley to a pot with water, asparagus soup, and stock. Begin to bring to a slow boil. After cubing ham, drizzle with maple syrup and sauté on low heat until ham is slightly browned. While ham is browning, chop up all fresh ingredients and add all remaning items into the pot. Simmer on lower heat for 4 hours or until beans are cooked thoroughly.

Click here to view and download the high resolution recipe card

Enjoy and Bon Appétit!
Nicole & Aaron