Sunday, April 29, 2012

Three Bean Escarole Soup

Guess what I did on Friday?!?!

I went to my first professional baseball game at the new Yankee Stadium! My mom said that she thinks I saw a game at the Red Sox stadium when I was in elementary school but I don't remember so I'm not counting it.

My friend, Michelle (ya know, my fellow baking friend), got free tickets and invited me. I was so excited to get out of New Paltz and do something fun. We knew that it was supposed to be cold so we had a couple adult beverages before we went in to create a little liquor blanket. It was the perfect idea because I stayed nice and toasty until about the 6th inning.

I also enjoyed a classic baseball meal of a philly cheesesteak and cheese fries.  You only live once, right? Plus, how could I say no to fries served with a cute little fork? I couldn't. And we may have stopped at Denny's on the way home where I may have consumed a slice of peanut butter pie and half of a waffle drenched in syrup.

Other than the cold, I had a really great time! I still know little to nothing about baseball. I tried to pay attention to Michelle's explanations and concentrate but my previously mentioned liquor blanket also affected my attention span. But I suppose I can officially consider myself a Yankee fan, which gives me a wonderful opportunity to do some shopping :)  I promise I'll make an effort to actually learn something about the game/the team so I'm not THAT girl in the pink Jeter jersey who says things like "Uuummm, is it the last quarter yet?". And anyone that knows me, knows I would never buy a pink sports jersey. That's an abomination.

us before the game. Michelle let me borrow a hat so I would fit in. And you all know how I feel about being Irish... <3

first train ticket!
taking some selfies on the train :)
me outside of the stadium!
stadium bathroom. yeah, this happened.
go Yankees!
in our seats
in front of the field.
chilly and sleepy on the way home
 I'm a huge baby about being cold. I think my bones are actually still aching from how cold I was by the end. My stomach also needed a huge detox from all of the garbage that I threw in it. So I decided to make up a batch of this soup. It's basically a meatless version of my greens and beans soup. The ingredients are simple but it has a great taste from the garlic and the tomato sauce. So make up a batch of this soup if you're looking for a warm and light dinner option! I like to serve it with the crustiest, garlicy-est, heartiest piece of whole wheat bread that I can find. Enjoy :)

Escarole, 3 Bean, and Roasted Garlic Soup (6 servings – 246 calories) adapted from Cooking Light
  • ½ of a head of garlic
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped escarole (about 1 pound)
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pink beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese (for serving)
  1. Mince and sautee half of a head of garlic and 1/4 cup Great Northern beans. Mash with a fork until pastelike. Stir in thyme and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in at the bottom of a large stock pot over medium heat. Add escarole to pan; cook 3 minutes or until escarole wilts, stirring frequently. Add remaining Great Northern beans, broth, and next 4 ingredients (through pink beans). Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until escarole is tender. Stir in garlic mixture; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 10 minutes before serving. 
  3. Serve and sprinkle with cheese.

mmmm garlic bean paste

my delicious detox.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Happy Earth Day!

I love "holidays" because they are an excuse to bake themed goodies. My friend, Michelle, and I decided to get together to bake some earthy cupcakes and drink fruity beverages. We decided on cookies and cream cupcakes and peach bellinis. YUM!

made with $5 Andre champagne and peach Bacardi with frozen blueberries for ice :)

The cupcakes are great for several reasons. The bottom is half of an Oreo cookie, cream side up. The cake portion is a dense vanilla cake with HUGE chunks of Oreo. I'm glad that I decided to go with chunks instead of crushing the Oreos because it gave the cupcake a nice texture. Oh, and the cream cheese frosting. No explanation necessary.

We decorated them with crushed Oreos to look like dirt and stuck some gummy worms on top. We also tried to make flowers on some with Skittles. Not quite as cute as we had envisioned but juuuuust as tasty. 

The only issue with this cupcakes is that we overcooked them a bit. We took them out and noticed that they were a little gooey on top so we decided to throw them back in the oven for a couple minutes. When we took them out and let them cool, the tops and sides were a little hard. That's when we realized that the gooey-ness was probably due to the cream in the Oreos melting. So don't be fooled by the sneaky goo! They still tasted delicious, just not as moist as they could have been.

Cookies and cream is always a crowd pleaser with kids and adults. And the surprise Oreo bottom takes the cupcakes to a whole new level. Making these for someone with a serious cookies and cream addiction? Serve it with a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream for a decadent overdose :)

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes (24 cupcakes) from Beantown Baker

For the cupcakes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour, plus 2 Tbsp for the Oreo chunks
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 pkg Oreo cookies
For the frosting
  • 4 oz cream cheese at room temp
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) butter at room temp
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
  2. Twist apart 24 Oreos. Place the wafer with filling on it, filling side up, in the bottom of each paper liner.
  3. Cut the remaining Oreo cookies into quarters with a sharp knife. Toss with 2 Tbsp flour and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl cream the butter until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and mix to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until integrated. Stir in sugar. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg whites. Beat for 2 more minutes. Stir in the quartered cookies.
  7. Fill the cupcake lines three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes (maybe even 18) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.
  8. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer. Beat on medium-high until completely smooth, 3-4 minutes. Add the butter and continue to cream until fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  9. Frost the cupcakes. For dirt cupcakes, garnish with crushed Oreos and gummy worms. For regular cupcakes, garnish with crushed Oreos and half of an Oreo.

Oreo bottoms

flour coated Oreos

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mushroom Bleu Cheese Turkey Burgers

It was gorgeous today! It was the perfect jeans-and-a-t-shirt weather, which is my absolute favorite. It's not so chilly that you wish you had a sweater but also not so hot that you wish you had a pool.

Pure perfection.

The weather in NY is so bipolar. Two posts ago, I shared a recipe for white hot chocolate because I so cold all the time!

Well, nice weather makes me crave summer food. For me, summer food is anything that either requires no cooking or can be made on the grill.

Burgers are one of those foods. And I think a burger tastes best when eaten straight from the grill while wearing Aviators and sitting on a deck. So that's what I did.

Except mine came off of a grill PAN on the oven because my landlord doesn't allow grills. Major summer bummer.

My favorite part of a burger is the toppings. I generally use a Sandwich Thin or two pieces of lettuce (don't judge... it creates more room in my stomach for meat) because I don't want a bun distracting from the juicy burger and the plethora of toppings. However, this can make for a pretty messy situation because I don't have a huge bun to hold all of the goodies in. So for this burger, I decided to throw some of my favorite toppings INSIDE the burger. Mushrooms, bleu cheese, and onions.

I'm a genius.

I think the additions helped to keep the turkey burgers really juicy. But it also made them a little tricky to flip without breaking because they were so jam packed with veggies and cheese. I found that making the burgers a little smaller and thicker made them stay together better. If you think the mixture has too much moisture, just add some breadcrumbs to soak it up!

I ate mine with lettuce, tomato, and onion and a combination of spicy barbecue sauce and bleu cheese dressing. Unfortunately, I did not have any bacon in my fridge. But if I did, I probably would have skipped the Sandwich Thin and wrapped this burger in bacon. Because that wouldn't counteract the idea of a healthy turkey burger at all. Nope.

Mushroom Bleu Cheese Turkey Burgers
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Buns
  • Lettuce, tomato, and onion for topping
  1. Lightly saute the onion and mushrooms.  Drain well (you may even want to pat them dry).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground turkey, mushrooms, onion, bleu cheese and soy sauce. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Form into 4 burger patties.
  3. Spray the grill pan with cooking spray. Place patties on the pan and cook for 10 minutes per side, or until well done.   
  4. Serve with buns and any desired toppings!

look at the beautifully browned exterior!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

This is one of my favorite appetizers. I think that might be true of most people.

It's great because it's all the deliciousness of wings without the mess. This never used to matter to me because I had a boyfriend so it was totally acceptable for me to have wing sauce all over my face and up to my elbows because... who was I trying to impress? Well, now that I'm single, I can't just go around looking like a caveman while enjoying party snacks. I figure that I have to at least put on a show of being civilized for a little while. So this means I'll have to step away from the large glasses of gin and saucy finger foods. Or smuggle them into the bathroom in my oversized purse to enjoy in private. Either way.

I love that you can eat this dip on crackers, bread, veggies, chips, etc. My favorite is the celery. I throw a legitimate tantrum if I order wings and they don't come with celery or, even worse, warm carrots. Unacceptable.

This is definitely a staple for any party. With all of the sporting events that are always going on (don't ask me what they are, I only pay attention to the NFL) and graduation parties coming up and summer BBQs that are quickly approaching, I figured this would be an appropriate recipe to share. Or just make it for yourself for a personal party because you're great!

You can experiment with various cheeses and amounts of ingredients but this is my favorite combination. It's not too soupy or too dry. I like to only use blue cheese dressing whereas some recipes call for ranch and blue cheese. I add A LOT of hot sauce. To the point where eating it makes me sweat a little. Like probably more than is in the written recipe because I'm famous for being like... ok, just one more dash... I mean, just like a couple more squirts... well, this bottle is half empty so I might as well just use it too...   I'm probably going to get a stomach ulcer.

Oh, and I make the leftovers into the BEST grilled cheese ever. I'd do a post about that but I've never managed to take a picture before I devour it in like two bites. Sorry, but I knew you'd understand.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip
  • 4 boneless breasts of chicken (I use the equivalent in chicken tenders because they cook faster)
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder (or anything else you like to season chicken)
  • 1 jar/bottle blue cheese dressing (I use Marie's extra chunky or low fat, depending on my mood)
  • 1 bar low fat cream cheese
  • 1 6-8 oz package reduced fat shredded white sharp cheddar (other shredded cheese can be used)
  • 1 bottle hot sauce (I use Frank's)
  1. Season the chicken breasts as desired (I use the ones listed above). Saute in a pan until completely cooked through. Let the chicken cool and then shred. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Pour the wing sauce over the shredded chicken and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight (depending on how much heat you want the chicken to absorb). 
  3. When ready to assemble the dip, drain the chicken in a strainer. This will ensure that your dip is not soupy. 
  4. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Next distribute the drained chicken evenly. Cover the chicken with the blue cheese dressing. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top.
  5. Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is slightly browned and dip is warmed all the way through. 
  6. Serve with tortilla chips, baguette slices, crackers, baby carrots, and celery sticks.

cream cheese layer
spicy chicken
blue cheese layer
shredded cheese layer
all baked and ready to be dipped into!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

White Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate? In April?

Crazy, right? In New York, we had about 2 weeks of 70 degree weather. I was wearing skirts without stockings and trading in my boots for my pumps. I even brought all of my winter coats and heavy sweaters to my mom's house to put in storage for next year.

I jumped the gun, probably due to wishful thinking, because now it's back in the 40s and 50s. New York weather is all over the place!

Anyway, after those two weeks of being spoiled with gorgeous weather, the return to our typical early spring climate left me feeling chilled to the bone. Possibly because I currently have no appropriate coats. So I broke out the white hot chocolate.

I actually can't believe it took me so long to share this easy recipe because I think it's the only reason I survived the winter.  It is absolutely delicious, sweet, and creamy. It's far cheaper than buying a cup at Starbucks and, in my opinion, it tastes wayyyyy better. It's also really simple to make. I had assumed that since coffee places charge 5 bucks for a white hot chocolate, there must be some scientific process or magical ingredients. Nope. Just some milk, chocolate, some spices, and a simple stirring motion. Viola!

There's something about homemade hot chocolate that just screams "There's no place like home!" to me.  I love making a mug of this and curling up under my fleece covers with a good book or some trashy television. It is VERY rich so a small mug is more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth and warm you up! So until the weather warms up again, I'll be choosing this steamy treat for my nightly sweet tooth indulgence :)

If you need to study or get some work done, pour yourself a half of a mug of strong brewed coffee and fill the rest of the mug with the white hot chocolate. BAM! White chocolate mocha! You're practically a professional barista. 

If it's been "one of those days" and you need a little extra relaxation, this white hot chocolate is also delicious with a shot of Bailey's. Or so I've heard...

White Hot Chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk (you can use whatever percentage you'd like; you can even use half-and-half for an extra rich and creamy taste)
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  1. Heat the milk and spices until almost boiling.
  2. Add the chocolate and stir constantly (so it doesn’t burn) until it is fully incorporated.
  3. Serve with marshmallows and whipped cream. 

so much deliciousness with so few ingredients!