Friday, January 15, 2010

Easy Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

This really should just be a recipe for the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting, because I made the cupcakes using a boxed mix, and all I did to improve on that was to add the zest of half a lemon to the batter. The real star of the cupcakes is the frosting. It's rich and creamy with just the right about of lemon flavor and tang to balance out the sweetness of the cupcakes. I added a Lemon Drop candy to each of the cupcakes to make them look special.

For the cake:
  • 1-18.25 oz box lemon cake mix
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • Zest from half a lemon
For the frosting:
  • 1-8 oz package of cream cheese (can use 1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 (or 1/4 cup) of butter, softened to room temperature
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (just a scant couple of squeezes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 16 oz. powdered sugar
  • 20-24 Lemon Drops (optional)

  • Bake the cupcakes according the to directions on the box, the only difference is to add the lemon zest to the batter last, and make sure that it is fully incorporated without any clumps. The cake mix I used made 20 cupcakes when the cupcake liners were filled 2/3 full. Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, it is very important that the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. If they are not, there will be lumps of butter or cream cheese in the frosting, and that will be very unappealing.
  • First, using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until they are uniformly mixed, then add the lemon juice and lemon extract, and mix briefly to incorporate.
  • Next, slowly add the powdered sugar in batches, and ensure all the sugar is incorporated before making the next addition. If you want a stronger lemon flavor, add a bit more lemon extract at this time. If you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar. This frosting is very versatile, and it is easy to make to your liking.
  • You can frost the cupcakes at this time, but I like to stick the frosting in the refrigerator for an hour or so, so it will firm up, and make the cupcakes easier to frost. After frosting the cupcakes, if you wish, top with a Lemon Drop and enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

CEiMB: Arugula, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly is from Maria of Half Meatball/Half Matzoh Ball Children. She chose for us to make the Arugula, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. This is a quick and easy meal, you simply sauté onions until they are soft and caramelized, you then add arugula to the skillet to wilt it slightly. Then you top your whole-wheat tortilla or flatbread with the onion/arugula mixture, dot with goat cheese, and pop in the oven. I added some sun-dried tomatoes to the onion/arugula mixture to balance the peppery flavor of the arugula with the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes. I also added a small amount of balsamic vinegar. It really perked up the topping. I used herbed goat cheese that had basil and garlic in it. I think this tasted great. It's really quick and would make a great dinner for one or two, or it would be a great appetizer when it is cut into wedges.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken Teriyaki Stir-fry over Udon Noodles

One of my favorite quick dishes to make is teriyaki stir-fry. I start with a purchased teriyaki sauce, my favorite is Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki, it has a great flavor and is full of sesame seeds, which I really enjoy. I then make some additions to the sauce, which I think really enhances the flavor of the whole dish. This time I served the stir-fry over udon noodles, but I often make this same dish with rice as well. The recipe makes a lot of sauce, so it is good to have something like noodles or rice to soak it up.

Chicken Teriyaki Stir-fry over Udon Noodles
serves 4

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups purchased teriyaki sauce
  • 2-3 heaping tablespoons chili-garlic sauce (or more or less depending on your preference for heat)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cups of assorted vegetables (I used a combination of onions, carrots, red bell pepper, broccoli, and sugar snap peas)
  • 1-8 oz. can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 4 oz. fresh bean sprouts
  • In a small bowl, combine the teriyaki sauce, chili-garlic paste, and honey. Mix well.
  • Place the chicken pieces in a resealable bag and add 1/2 cup of the teriyaki marinade. Move the bag around to distribute the marinade to make sure it coats all the chicken pieces, and place the bag in the refrigerator and marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining marinade for later use.
  • Following the marination, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add the udon noodles and cook according to the package directions.
  • While the water is coming to a boil and the noodles are cooking, begin stir-frying the chicken and vegetables. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add the vegetables that take longer to cook (onions, carrots, peppers) and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, just to soften.
  • Drain the chicken and add it to the skillet, discarding the marinade. Stir-fry the chicken until it is almost cooked all the way through, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add the vegetables to the skillet that cook quickly (broccoli, sugar snap peas), and continue stir-frying until the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and remaining 1 cup of marinade to the skillet, and cook until the sauce is heated through.
  • Place some udon noodles on a plate and top with chicken stir-fry and a few extra tablespoons of sauce.
  • Sprinkle some cilantro on top if desired.