Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Winner! Winner! Cupcake Dinner!

If you follow me on facebook, you probably noticed I posted this link last week.  Well,  here are my pictures of my cupcake - you'll notice my pictures aren't quite as good as the Tribune's...something to work on over Christmas break I suppose!

The competition was a lot of fun to compete in and I'm looking forward to next year's competition already!
This is how the whole process worked: I entered my recipes online, and waited patiently anxiously for a month until they notified finalist. *Bragging ahead* I have to say I was proud when they notified me I was the only finalist to have two recipes chosen! Another post about the other recipe later.  I made both recipes, delivered them for testing/photographing and then again, waited for the awards the next week.  These cupcakes took third in the filled category, not my ultimate goal, but still highly respectable.  So here they are:

Don't worry, I actually piped the frosting for the official ones!

If you've been on pinterest you may have seen a couple pins about filling cupcakes with apple butter - well, that's exactly what I did. Everyone that had one really seemed to enjoy them, of course that was mostly my family and they're a little biased, so take that with a grain of salt!  Here's the recipe; hope you enjoy them!

Apple Butter Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting
(Don't worry, it sounds more complicated than it really is!)

2/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk

Apple Butter (or if you're a food snob like me, you make your own)

2 sticks butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line or grease a cupcake tin. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extracts.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, and baking powder. Beat 1/3 of flour mixture into wet ingredients. Alternatively add the flour mixture and milk/sour cream to the wet ingredients, blending until smooth after each addition.
Fill the cupcake liners about 1/4 full. Create a crater with the back of a small cookie scoop and drop in 1-1/2 tablespoon of apple butter into each cupcake liner. Fill the liners with rest of batter until about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (It’s OK if the apple butter leaves residue on toothpick). Allow to cool completely before frosting.

While cupcakes cool, place all frosting ingredients in a bowl. Mix until frosting comes together and is smooth. Do not mix too fast, to avoid whipping any air into the frosting. Frost cupcakes to taste.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finals, Pork, and Wrecks. Oh My!

Hello all! if you've noticed a hiatus from posting, then you'd be very observant.  With the past week of Thanksgiving and studying I just did not meet up to my lofty ambitions of blogging more than three days a week.  Well fail. But that's okay, absence makes the heart grow fonder right? So...are you all fonder now?

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of thoughts of thankful things and lots of delicious food! I have to say, on Saturday, I was extremely thankful after we got through a minor wreck unscathed.  God was definitely watching over what could have been a big wreck and turned it into hardly anything but a scare.  What are you all thankful for?

It's hard to imagine that this time next week I will be freaking out over my first big girl law school final.  I'm feeling a little something like this right now.

except that I refuse to wear anything but sweat pants and forgetting to shower has become a norm.  Sorry husband! Just look at those wedding pictures from when I was pretty for the next three weeks! With all this finals craziness, I do have to say that I'm looking forward to a couple things after finals are over, in no particular order:

  1. Christmas
  2. A massage (thank you Lexis Nexis points!)
  3. Getting my hair cut - don't worry, nothing drastic
  4. Christmas
  5. Christmas parties
  6. Sleeping
  7. No studying for a few weeks
  8. Florida (perk about being married to a youth minister, they pick good places for conferences!)
Until then though, it's back to studying, wearing comfy clothes and not showering.

Onward to the recipe.
Remember a couple weeks ago when I made this. Well this is what we had it on:

Pulled pork. I think my husband fell in love with me all over again.  Secret is, it was super easy. We're talking crock pot easy, also delicious. Since it's just the two of us, we froze half of it and saved it for later and surprise of all surprises, it was just. as. good.

Without delay, here it is!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

3-4lb. pork shoulder
2T yellow mustard
1/4 c paprika
1/4 c sugar (brown or white)
3 T garlic powder
3 T salt
2 T onion powder
2 T black pepper, ground
1 T dried parsley
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c barbecue sauce (your favorite)
2 c. water

Hamburger buns
Barbecue sauce (your favorite)

In a small bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.  Slather pork with yellow mustard - just enough to cover the outside of the meat in a thin layer.  Rub the dry ingredients into the mustard coated pork and put in crock pot.

Cover the pork with ketchup, barbecue sauce and water.  Cover the crock pot and set on low for 8-9 hours or until meat is tender.  Remove cooked pork from crock pot and shred with forks.  Serve on buns with barbecue sauce.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Remember how last week was comfort food week at our house?  Well here's another fruit of my labor:  Chicken tortilla soup.  I am a big fan of soup and also a big fan of Mexican food.  This of course was the perfect combo, even Mike said this was a soup he could eat a lot of - high praise from that meat loving man.

I'm just going to let most of the pictures do the talking on this one.

I've become a kind of connoisseur of chicken tortilla soups if you will and this one has all the good stuff from all the soups I've had.  Hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do; my mouth's watering just looking at these pictures.

Chicken Tortilla Soup


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 jalapenos, finely diced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 bag boil-in-bag brown rice, cooked (or 2 cups prepared rice)
3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 limes, juiced, plus wedges for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Option garnishes
1 cup shredded cheese
avocado slices
tortilla chips

In a large saucepan heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and jalepenos and cook for another minute. Pour the chicken broth, water, tomatoes, corn, rice, and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add your chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from pot. When cool enough to handle shred it and set it aside, or place in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with paddle attachment and shred that way (believe it or not, it works like magic!) Return chicken to pot and add lime juice and fresh cilantro. Garnish with tortilla chips, cheese and avocado if desired.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkeys For My Favorite Turkeys

As Thanksgiving quickly sneaks up on me approaches, I've come to realize that I'm running out of days for Thanksgiving themed foods/crafts.  Sure, I could do all of them after Thanksgiving, but I just don't think my heart would be in it.  It's like singing Christmas carols in July, it's just wrong.  So since a class was cancelled today, and since I spent three hours going through one last final hardcore edit on that monster paper, I made these...

...for my little turkeys, aka the youth group kids.  Being a youth minister's wife means I have a lot of interaction with the teens.  As we all know, teens eat...a. lot. So I oblige, regularly.  

Now don't get me wrong when I call them turkeys, I love those kids a lot. However, most of the time instead of being the fun, young adult, I end up acting like a mom.  Even when I try I can't keep from saying "that's not a good idea". I have gotten better at it, but anytime I "mother" them, it comes from a place of love.  Even though it's hard for me to be carefree and let them be, I still have a lot of love and compassion for those kids and I am thankful for all their unique traits that make them who they are and the wonderful Christian young people they are growing to be.  So little turkeys, if you read this, it's just one more reminder that I love you all.

On to the how-to's of the turkeys:
Well, it's simple.  It took me about 20 minutes to make 20 of these.  

You will need:
Golden Oreos (double stuft) 
Mini Nilla Wafers
Candy corn (5 per turkey)
Almond bark - any flavor, melted

Dip the back of Nilla Wafer into the almond bark and attach to one side of the Oreo.  Using a toothpick, make eyes on the top of the Nilla Wafer.  Using a spoon, make a thin strip of almond bark at the top of the Oreo in the gap between the cookies and attach 4 candy corn, like so: 

Last, cut off the yellow part on the candy corn (one candy corn per turkey), now you've got your nose.  Attach the nose with a bit more of almond bark (I used the toothpick for this, my fingers are too fat for anything else).  Let the cookies dry and harden and voila! 

You have turkeys for your little turkeys.  Enjoy and be thankful for the little turkeys in your life! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Honey-Garlic BBQ sauce

Last week was comfort food week at the Coghill house seeing as I needed lots of comfort to get through this stinking paper.  But good news: I am finally in the editing phase which means the end is near! So to kick off our unofficial "comfort food" week, I made some bbq sauce.

Yep. It's pretty delicious (this is coming from the girl that doesn't really care for bbq sauce).  It's also fairly simple to make; it's one of those wonderful set it and forget it type things.  Also, it makes a lovely companion to things like pulled pork sandwiches (hint, hint).

In addition to making wonderful yummy food last week, I also have been religiously listening to My Hope Is In You.  If you haven't heard it, you should because it's great (forewarning though, the music video's kinda sad!).  It's been my great reminder that the end is near on the semester of law school!

Alright, enough yammering, here's the recipe.  Happy Monday to you all!

Honey-Garlic BBQ Sauce
adapted from All Recipes

            2 cups ketchup
            4 cloves crushed and peeled garlic
            1 cup water
            2 tablespoons hot sauce
            1/4 cup honey
            1 T garlic powder
            1 T onion powder
            2 tablespoons molasses
            2 tablespoons brown sugar
            1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
            1 teaspoon soy sauce
            1 teaspoon salt
            2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
            1 pinch paprika
            1 pinch crushed red pepper
            1 pinch ground white pepper
            1 pinch ground black pepper
            1 tablespoons cornstarch
            1 tablespoon water
            1/2 cup butter


In a large saucepan over medium low heat, mix together everything but the last three
ingredients (2 T cornstarch, 1 T water, 1/2 butter). Allow the mixture to simmer approximately
30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of water. Adjust amount of water as
needed to fully dissolve cornstarch. Stir into the sauce mixture. Continue simmering
approximately 2-3 minutes. Stir butter into the sauce mixture. Continue simmering mixture
approximately 5 more minutes, or until butter is melted and the sauce has begun to thicken.
Serve over meats prepared as desired.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with Sugared Walnuts and Bourbon Whipped Cream

I dare someone to say the title five times fast.  My fingers felt tired just typing that title!  In all seriousness though, this recipe is amazing. I was creeping on some facebook pages when my friend Jason Pelache posted this beauty. Sadly Jason is in Japan without a stove. So if you make these, think of Jason and savor every bite.  Needless to say, this one goes out to him in Japan.

As complicated as this title seems, it's not really too bad to make.  I made most everything the night before and it was extremely smooth.  Everything in this recipe works together; its really the epitome of teamwork in action.  Added bonus: anyone you make these for will instantly love you - so cook away my friends.  It's certainly a perfect weekend recipe - one more reason to look forward to the weekend (unless you're a law student with a paper due and finals coming up that is!) Enjoy & have a wonderful weekend!

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with Sugared Walnuts & Bourbon Whipped Cream

Sugared Walnuts
*Do these the night or a couple days before; they're seriously good on almost everything!

Adapted from

16 oz. pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 t cinnamon

Turn slow cooker on High for 15 minutes before use.  Once slow cooker is hot, stir nuts and butter together.  Add in powdered sugar blending until coated evenly.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and uncover.  Cook uncovered for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until nuts have a crisp glaze. Transfer to another bowl and add cinnamon.  Store for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with Bourbon Whipped Cream
Adapted from Foodie Buddha

1 1/2 cup flour
1 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
3 ½ t baking powder
1 1/3 cups milk
1 t vanilla
1 egg
3 T melted butter

Whipped cream:
2 T powdered sugar
2t bourbon (optional)
1 c heavy whipping cream

apple slices

Sift together first four ingredients and place in a bowl.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and place the milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter.  Whisk dry into liquid until mostly combined (a few lumps are won't be problematic).
In a hot greased skillet, pour desired amount of batter (we liked about 1/3 cup) and top with apple slices.  When bottom is light brown, flip pancake over and cook until golden brown on both sides. 
Yields about 8 medium pancakes.

Whipped cream:
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mix and whisk until stiff peaks form. 

Assembly: pancake, pecans, (butter if desired) syrup topped with whipped cream.  Eat & enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

As fall is leaving and the icy death known as winter is approaching, I leave you with one last fall-fancied feature.  The Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies.  If you're a pinterest-er then you've seen these things all over that place and by and large they live up to the hype. But before I leave with said recipe a little about me...It is my blog after all.  Okay I'm kidding - mostly; I'm not really that self-centered...okay okay, I'm not that self-centered most of the time.

But seriously, about me now.  As finals approach and my paper deadline (anyone else able to tell I've been writing a paper by my correct grammar and extended vocabulary?) draws ever nearer, I just have this to say: This whole daylight savings time thing is really cramping my style.  Now at 5pm when it's pitch black, instead of being prepared to study, I'm more prepared to go to bed.  Seriously unhelpful for studying.

On the flip side, I keep waking up uber early thinking I've overslept because it's so stinking sunny outside! There's really nothing like waking up in a panic that you've overslept to start your day of right, agreed?

Other than my whining, I am seriously looking forward to a teeny bit of time off over Thanksgiving break. We get to see both sides of the fam in OK, and it's basically been a year since I've seen the wind-come-sweeping-down-the-plain so I'd say it's about time.  Now if I can only get through the next week and a half of constant work I'll be good...ish...Truth is I won't be "good" but I'm sure going to pretend like everything's fine.  Hope you all are adapting to the time change much better than I am.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies
Adapted from The Cooking Photographer

1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 packets of Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix, not the sugar free stuff - you wanna all the sugar you can get.
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1 bag Kraft Caramels (14 oz)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment!)
In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
With your mixer (or an energetic spoon) cream together butter, sugar, salt and the 5 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.
Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
Do yourself a favor and don't eat the dough at this point. It's super sweet. When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels. 
Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. (I used a rounded cookie scoop-full. My scoop holds about a Tablespoon.)
Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Rolls

One of my favorite things about fall is pumpkins! It is by far my favorite gourd and probably my favorite fruit/veggie too.  When September hits, I wait patiently until I see those orange globes shining like beacons of fall goodness in the grocery aisles.  I know, I know it's a little excessive, but a girl never forgets her first love, of pumpkins that is...

Anywho, one of my favorite things to make with this blessed gourd are pumpkin cinnamon rolls.  Yep, that's right.  I'll just let that sink in with a picture.

I top this love of mine with my adoration of all things cream cheese.  It's seriously good and would be a wonderful treat for Thanksgiving breakfast or just any breakfast.  Enjoy my friends, but don't blame me when you gain 5 lbs. ;)

Pumpkin Rolls with Cooked (yes, you read that correctly) Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 16-18 rolls

For the dough:

1/4 cup warm water

1 scant tablespoon yeast (1 package)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 ½ cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit a few minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan on the stove top until the butter is melted. Combine this with the sugar in a large heat-proof mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Let the milk mixture cool until it is just warm to the touch - NOT HOT. Then stir in the yeast and the pumpkin. Add the salt and five cups of the flour all at once, stirring until all the flour has been absorbed. Squish it between your hands if you’re having trouble incorporating the last of the flour. The dough will be sticky, but should come together in a shaggy ball. If it's still more the consistency of cookie batter, work in an additional 1/2 cup of flower.
Cover the dough and let it rise for 1-3 hours. During this time, it should double in bulk. At this point, you can punch the dough down and refrigerate it overnight or continue shaping the rolls.
To shape the rolls (either immediately or with the refrigerated dough), sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and dump the dough on top. Pat it down into a rough rectangle and then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a rectangular shape about a half an inch thick, longer than it is wide. If the dough gets sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on the dough’s surface and on your hands.
Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the brown sugar and the spices. Spread this over the rectangle of dough, leaving an inch of bare dough at the top. Sprinkle one cup of the toasted pecans over the dough, if using. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder and pinch it closed at the top.
Grease the pan you desire to use for the rolls. I find that 2 9x13s work best for me. Using twine (or I just really like floss, I mean who doesn’t have an abundance of that on hand?), cut the cylinder into individual rolls 1 - 1 1/2 inches thick. Place them into your baking dishes so they have a little wiggle room on all sides to rise. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise until they fill the pan and look puffy, 30 minutes for already-warm dough and 1 hour for dough that’s been refrigerated.
About 20 minutes before baking, begin heating the oven to 375°. When the rolls are ready, bake them for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden and starting to look toasted around the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through cooking.
Now would be a good time to make the frosting.  Go ahead and scroll down for the how-to and ingredients.
Let the baked rolls cool for about five minutes and then frost the tops.  Eat them immediately. Leftovers will keep for several days and are best reheated for a minute in the microwave.

Cooked Cream Cheese Frosting

16 ounces (2 bars) full-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature for at least 1 hour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar 

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the softened cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or simply use a large bowl and hand beaters). Whip the cream cheese on high speed for several minutes, until it is completely smooth and silky. Scrape the cream cheese out into a separate bowl and set aside.
Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a small saucepan. Turn the heat on to medium and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. It will look lumpy at first but whisk vigorously to create a smooth paste. Continue whisking as the mixture comes up to a simmer. It will thicken rapidly and dramatically as it comes to a boil (see photo below). Simmer for 1 full minute, then turn off the heat. Scrape the flour and milk paste into the mixer bowl. (If you want to be 100% sure there are no small lumps, pour it through a mesh sieve, but I didn’t really have any problems with that.)
Turn on the mixer or beaters and whip the flour-milk mixture for 10 minutes (no seriously, 10 minutes), or until it is lightened and no longer piping hot. It should be lukewarm or cooler. Slowly add the cream cheese, whipping constantly and the vanilla. Continue whipping until the two are completely combined and smooth and silky. If not using immediately, store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Whip again briefly on high speed before using. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato Soup

I'm not sure about where you live, but this morning mid-Missouri was greeted with rain with a slight bit of ice in it.  Yes. Ice. Rude. It's still officially fall weather, not officially winter yet, just calm down on that craziness please!

Yes. I am a winter-hater. I want my warm/temperate weather year round and a beach.  (Yes, I do realize Missouri doesn't have beaches, but if I had it my way, they would.)  So with all this nastiness outside, it means it's time for some comfort food.

Hello gorgeous.  You and me are going to be best friends.

I have to say, I was not a fan of tomato soup until I tried this one out.  It's hearty and chunky without tasting like you're eating a bottle of ketchup.  Of course it's best paired with a grilled cheese and lots of cheese.  

As for me, I will be staying inside and reading all day.  Don't get too jealous though, I will be reading law books.  Feel less jealous now? That's what I thought.
Hope you enjoy and stay warm wherever you are this day.

Sun-Dried Tomato Soup

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained but juices reserved
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 t dried thyme or 2 thyme sprigs
1 T dried basil or 1/4 fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream - seriously. Use the heavy cream. It makes all the difference.  

In a large saucepan, melt butter in the olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until softened, about 4 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and canned tomatoes. Combine reserved tomato juice and chicken broth in a 3 to 4 cup measure. Add water to make three cups liquid. Add liquid to pot with basil and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs. 

Transfer small batches of soup to a blender and puree. And when I say small batches, I mean small batches; otherwise you'll have a very large mess. I only know that from experience. Return to pot and warm over low heat. Stir in cream and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yield: 4 servings.  Serve with something cheesy.