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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm back! / Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

Hello friends - I am back. And I don't mean I have set my feet back in the United of States. I mean, actually feel like I'm back at it. We recovered from jetlag in time to receive company from CA (miss you already Young family!), and now have recovered from company. I have one child with a cold, but at this point, I'm going to take it.

I am done with my babysitting job, and am enjoying my family. I know there are some new adventures around the corner, with some possibilities already in the hat (ballroom dance teacher? summer work at an Organic Farm?) but I'm content to wait on those and leave them at God's feet for now. I think I FINALLY found a drum instructor I'm going to go with here in CO. So life is good, and I'm seeing some happy endings, and new beginnings.

I really am, I swear, going to catch you all up on Paris. I plan to post pics of the food. Those are coming soon. But remember that child with the cold? Yes, mmhmm. So I'm going on two nights of fragmented sleep, and am not up to it today.

However, today we did make some wonderful cupcakes, and I will share that recipe with you. I plan to catch up and post some other recipes soon of things I've made this past month.

To save time chopping, I bought bittersweet chocolate chips.

Gooey Chocolate and Hazelnut Cupcakes
from Indulgent Cupcakes by Susannah Blake
makes 12



2 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons blanched*, hazelnuts, ground (I just finely chopped them)
3/4 cup self-rising flour (I used Whole Wheat Pastry)
1/2 cup chocolate and hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
to decorate
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream ( I used organic)
2 tablespoons chocolate and hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
about 3 tablespoons blanched* hazelnuts, toasted and cut into large pieces
a 12 cup muffin pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then line the muffin pan with paper liners.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave, then set aside to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the ground hazelnuts, then sift the flour into the mixture and fold in. Stir in the melted chocolate.
Drop 1/2 tablespoonful of the mixture into each muffin cup, then flatten and make an indentation in the center of each dollop of mixture using the back of a teaspoon. Drop a generous dollop of chocolate spread into the center of each one, then top with the remaining cake mixture. Bake for about 18 minutes (mine took longer, not sure if it's the WW flour, altitude or both, but it took about 24 min.) until risen and the tops spring back when gently pressed. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and creamy, then stir in the chocolate spread. Let cool for about 30 minutes until thick and glossy.
Spread frosting over the cupcakes and arrange a cluster of nuts in the center of each one.
* To blanche the hazelnuts, put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes. When they are cool enough to touch, simply rub between your fingers to get the skin off.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dinner this week

I'm not sure if I'll be able to post again before we leave. My sister-in-law arrives Friday, and my husband and I will be leaving Saturday to go to France for 6 days! I can't wait. We will be staying in Paris, and be taking one day trip to the Champagne region while we are there. We plan to do a mix of sightseeing and relaxing. I have been dreaming, and dreaming, and dreaming of the food! I can't wait to share all the yummy details with you all when I get back!

This week dinner has been very random so far, but the rest of the week looks to be more organzied. I am going to try out two recipes from the Epicurious' Dinner Rush, and see how they are. My only complaint about these menus, is that they are not on a budget like the Whole Foods weekly planners are, so you have to be careful. One meal I just bought two small lamb chops to try for the family, and I'll make an extra 2 vegetable dishes to go with the meal instead. Meat two nights in a row! Can you believe it. The boys have been asking for more protein though, so there it is. I tend to pile my plate with the veggies, and any vegetarian leftovers in the fridge. So this is what's on the menu for tonight and tomorrow night.

Green Bean and Roasted Tomato Salad
Gourmet April 1997

yield: Makes 2 Servings
Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

5 plum tomatoes, each cut lengthwise into 4 slices
1/4 pound haricots verts (thin French green beans) or small green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
a heaping 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 cup mixed baby salad greens

Preheat oven to 450° F. and lightly grease a baking sheet.
Arrange tomatoes in one layer on baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes in middle of oven 15 minutes, or until edges are browned, and cool.
While tomatoes are roasting cook beans in salted boiling water 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. In a colander drain beans and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain beans and pat dry.
In a bowl whisk together juices, zest, mustard, oil, shallot, and salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange tomatoes, overlapping them, on 2 plates and mound mixed baby salad greens and beans on top. Drizzle salads with vinaigrette. Serves 2 as a first course or side dish.

Light Mediterranean Salad with Lamb Chops
Parade April 2008

Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tsatsiki
Gourmet March 2009

Instead of serving the Gyros with the salad with Papaya Dressing that they recommend (I couldn't find a papaya at the store), I just bought a Orange and Cranberry salad dressing that looks yummy. Better for a quick weeknight dinner anyway, because you guys, I've got to PACK! :)