Saturday, March 27, 2010


This lovely meal came from a dear friend of mine named Sumiyo. I met her in my college Ceramics program. On top of being a gorgeous Japanese native, and an AMAZING ceramicist she also was a phenomenal cook. She invited me over to teach me some authentic Japanese cooking. She gave me slippers to wear and a Japanese apron she brought with her to the States. This dish, known as Nanban-zuke has become a treasured favorite of mine. I always think of her when I'm preparing this dish. More or less it was explained to me that Nanban-zuke means a marinading of deep fried food in vinegar. I was taught to use salmon, but I've read about many other things used since the Portuguese and Spanish enjoy this process as well.

Homemade Ding Dongs/Devil's Food Cupcakes

Haha. Ding Dongs. Makes me laugh... I have honestly never eaten a Ding Dong before. Maybe a Ho-Ho once in awhile. I was browsing for a "healthy" dessert over at and found a recipe that would please those around me. I tend to bake for others because it makes me happy (and also keeps me skinny...) ! Cooking Light calls these "Devil's Food Cupcakes" but Ding Dongs are funnier to me.
It was a new adventure for me making the Marshmallow creme (for the center filling). I had marshmallows around, but I decided to make the creme from a recipe I found over here. The recipe was successful, but I used my Agave syrup instead of Corn-Syrup and it def overpowered the rest of the flavors. Remember Laura, Agave syrup is MUCH sweeter! You don't need that much! When will I learn? So, to remedy this, I melted some marshmallows with a little butter in a pan (not very Cooking Light like) and gradually added the marshmallow mixture I made up prior. This brought back the marshmallow-y flavor I had before the Agave mishap! I think what I did was a little unconventional, but I was trying to reverse sheer boobery! Next time I would let the creme sit in the fridge a little longer so it could harden up a little before filling the cupcakes.

Recipe to follow...

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Marshmallow Filling


  • 3/4 cup (3/8 lb.) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow cream (I made my own using the link found above)
  • Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (see below )


1. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

2. In another bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in half the flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in milk just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture and stir just until incorporated. Spoon batter equally into 16 muffin cups (1/3-cup capacity; cups should be almost full) lined with paper baking cups.

3. Bake in a 350ยบ regular or convection oven until tops spring back when lightly pressed in the center or a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes; remove cupcakes from pans and set on racks to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

4. With a small, sharp knife, cut a cylinder about 3/4 inch wide and 1 inch deep from the center of the top of each cupcake. Trim off and discard about 1/2 inch from bottom of each cylinder. With a knife, hollow out a small cavity inside each cupcake.

5. Spoon marshmallow cream into pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Twist end of bag tightly to secure. Place tip in cavity of one cupcake; without moving tip, squeeze filling into cavity, to 1/4 inch from top. Repeat to fill remaining cupcakes. Insert cake cylinders into holes.

6. Spoon chocolate cream cheese frosting into another pastry bag, fitted with a 3/4-inch star tip, and pipe onto tops of cupcakes, or spread on cupcakes with knife.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa


In a bowl, with a mixer on low speed, beat cream cheese and butter until well blended. In another bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cocoa. Beat into cream cheese mixture until frosting is smooth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

I am IN LOVE with the recipe! A little girl who I teach once in awhile and that I just adore had her birthday today. I had her little sunshiny face as inspiration for me last night when I made this. She ended up loving these cupcakes and hearing/seeing the happiness made it all worth it. :) Thanks again Deb, you are so dependable.
I loved the subtle peach flavor in the cupcakes paired with the cream cheesiness of the frosting. I didn't obviously have fresh peaches (it's Spring in NY) so I dug out my frozen diced peaches and drained them. They turned more into a mush, but it added to the smoothness of the batter.

Recipe to follow...

(never too old)

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 24 to 28 cupcakes

3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) buttermilk, sour cream or full-fat yogurt
3 large peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped smallish (I went for a 1/3-inch dice)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 28 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then the vanilla. Gently mix in the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the peach chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens back up a bit, about 30 minutes, then spread or dollop on cooled cupcakes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu

I had a HORRENDOUS day of substitute teaching today. I'd say the highlight was when a 7th grader spat a lugie at the blackboard I was standing near....oy to the vey. I brought my new Cooking Light magazine with me and during my greatly anticipated lunch break I decided to pick out a do-able dinner I could whip up when I arrived home. I found a Hot and Sour Soup with only 110 calories for 1 1/4 cups! It was a completely easy process to make and I felt good eating it.
I substituted Bok Choy for the canned bamboo shoots they called for. One thing I would do differently would be to not use a Thai Culinary Stock next time. It added way too much flavor from the beginning and then when it came to adding all of the garlic/ginger/pepper/soy-sauce it became a little overpowering. I actually did the egg drop part with no screw ups (for my first time egg-dropping)! Wa hoo. This meal made today kinda okay.

Original recipe to follow...

Cooking Light's Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu

1 (14 oz.) pkg. firm water packed tofu/drained
1 3/4 C. water, divided
1 (1/2-oz.) pkg. dried sliced shiitake mushroom caps
4 C. fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
1/4 C. white vinegar
2 T. less sodium soy sauce
1 T. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 t. white pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 T. cornstarch
1/2 C. canned sliced bamboo shoots, drained and cut into julienne strips
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 C. thinly diagonally slice green onion tops

1) Place tofu on several layers of paper towels. Cover tofu with several more layers of paper towels; top with a cast-iron skillet or another heavy pan. Let stand 30min. Discard paper towels. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes.

2) Bring 1 1/2 C. water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in mushrooms; let stand 30min. Stir in broth and next 6 ingredients (through garlic); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 min, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1/4 C. water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture, tofu, and bamboo shoots into broth mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Slowly drizzle egg into broth mixture (DO NOT STIR). Place pan over low heat; cook 1 minute. Stir soup gently to combine. Sprinkle with green onions.
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 C.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Banana, Cherry, White-Chocolate Cupcakes

Baking really does help to fix a depressed mood. This post-graduation period is quite taxing. There are so many worries floating around in my brain. But I know I'm not alone in that.

On a happier note, today marks my 4.5 year anniversary with my awesome guy. I figured it might be nice to show up to his place tomorrow with a treat of some sort. This is Nigella Lawson’s Banana, Cherry, White Chocolate Cupcakes from How to Be A Domestic Goddess cookbook. Amazing recipe- the only thing I would say before making this is that I hope you're a fan of banana, because the flavor takes over the whole cupcake. I love banana, so it was A-Okay with me. I'm also not a fan of white-chocolate, but it paired well with the cherry and didn't overpower the cupcake like milk/dark chocolate would.

I shared a cupcake with my mother. She mentioned that she would be equally as happy replacing the white chocolate with pecans. I thought that was a nice suggestion...I think i'll try that next time around.

Recipe to follow... ENJOY!

Banana, Dried Cherry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 C. unsalted butter
3/4 C. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas

4 tbsp sour cream
2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder

2 C. plain flour
3 T. dried cherries, roughly chopped
2 oz. white chocolate, roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then, off the heat add the sugar, vanilla and bananas, mashing them with a fork in the pan.

4. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs a fork, add the cream, then fold them into the melted butter, sugar, and banana mixture.

5. Add the baking soda and the baking powder and stir in.

6. Add the flour, cherries, and white chocolate. Mix gently with a spoon just until the ingredients are combined.

7. Spoon into the muffin pan filling ¾ full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top.
8. Remove the cupcakes in their paper to wire rack and leave to cool lightly.