Monday, April 16, 2012

Recipe: Buffalo Cupcakes

 Back in January, I wrote about pastrami cupcakes, a recipe that was inspired by a great cooking blog called Emily Bites. For this week, I needed to make something for lunch.  Usually I make extra of something I am making for dinner, but none of the recipes I chose for this week worked well with making extra, so I decided to make some kind of "cupcake".  Scott originally suggested Thai-inspired cupcakes, but I couldn't really think of anything that would work.  Then I remembered that Emily Bites has made buffalo cupcakes in the past. She uses chicken, and I try to eat vegetarian at lunch, and Laughing Cow blue cheese wedges, which to be honest, kind of gross me out.  I would rather have a little good blue cheese then use something that might not be great.  Plus, a little blue cheese goes a long way flavor-wise.

Buffalo wings are great, but they are not particularly healthy, so this is a great way to get that buffalo flavor fix without the points!

Vegetarian Buffalo Cupcakes
Makes 20 cupcakes, each serving is 2.
8 points for 2 cupcakes

40 wonton wrappers
16 ounces mushrooms
2 bags Gardein chipotle lime "crispy fingers"
6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
12 tablespoons buffalo sauce

Prepare the faux chicken according the the package directions.  When cooked, chop into small pieces.  Saute mushrooms in non-stick pan until cooked, then process in a food processor until well chopped.  Mix faux chicken and mushrooms in a large bowl, pour in buffalo sauce and toss to coat.

A perfect, easily portable, lunch
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with olive oil spray.  My muffin tin makes 12 muffins, so I did this in two batches.  Push 10 wonton wrappers into the bottom of the muffin tin.  Top with about a tablespoon of mushroom/faux chicken mixture (this will take some estimating.  Just make sure you have enough to do 2 layers in 20 cupcakes.  It may help to separate mixture into quarters.)

Put another wonton wrapper on top of the mixture, then another layer of mushroom/faux chicken.  Top each cupcake with about a half a tablespoon of blue cheese.  Spray the top with more olive oil spray (this helps the wonton parts that are sticking up to brown).  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Let the first batch cool, then do the same thing for the second batch.

This is such a great dish because it reheats and travels well.  This size recipe made enough lunches for two people for the whole work week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Recipe: Balsamic Whipped Cream

Strawberries, marshmallows and raspberries
were great for dipping
I am not a huge dessert person, but when I get the chance to combine the savory and the sweet, that is when you have my perfect dessert.  Most of the time I don't bother with dessert, although I do enjoy baking and just tried to make macarons for the first time! But, on Friday night I was invited to a friends house for dinner, and I would never show up empty handed.

I am also obsessed with balsamic vinegar.  One of those fancy places where you can taste a ton of different olive oils and vinegars just opened up in the Annapolis Town Center, near the Whole Foods where I do my grocery shopping, so of course the other weekend Scott and I had stopped in and we picked a couple of things up.  The place is called Cleo's Fine Oils & Vinegars and one of the vinegars we got is a 25 year old balsamic.  It is the perfect balance of sweet and sour, and it goes great on pretty much everything.  Drizzle it on pasta? Check.  Marinate chicken?  Check.  Put on ice cream? Check.

Heavy cream, powdered sugar and balsamic,
ready to start whipping
For this particular dessert, I knew I needed something good for a small group, that would travel well since they live about 30 minutes away, and would combine sweet, savory, light, and my balsamic obsession.  I had a hunch that a balsamic whipped cream would work and after some searching around the Internet, found that some people had done it.  I sort of winged it with amounts, and it worked out perfectly!

I served this with strawberries, marshmallows and raspberries, but it would go well with lots of fruits as well as sponge cake and cookies.  I have a feeling pretzels would also be good with this.

Balsamic Whipped Cream (4 generous servings, 6 regular servings)
The finished balsamic whipped cream

8 oz heavy whipping cream
1/8 cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons REALLY good balsamic vinegar

Put all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until the cream forms light peaks.  Dip various fruits and sweets and enjoy.