Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Italian Style Entree "Cupcakes"!

Always looking for new and different ideas for meals this one "takes the cake", or should I say, "cupcake"?

Recently, while listening to "Everyday Food" on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112/XM 157, the host, Sandy Gluck, put together an interesting take on a "savory" cupcake with a Spanish Flair. I found this really interesting and asked Sandy (via Facebook) for the recipe. She graciously replied and explained that it wasn't really a recipe, but more of a "construction project" and described how she put hers together. Inspired by Sandy's creation, I put together an Italian version and the result was amazingly delicious!

First thing I did was throw together a pot of meat sauce which has to simmer for several hours. This is my Grandmother's recipe and a family secret, so don't go asking for the recipe! You'll have to be content with a photo of the sauce simmering on the stove!

Next, I made a thick polenta by mixing 1-1/2 cups of cornmeal into 1 quart of boiling salted water, and then whisked in about 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese.

When the polenta was cool enough to handle, I spooned about 3 tablespoons into the cups of an oiled muffin tin. Using your clean, then oiled fingers, push some of the polenta up the sides to form a "cup".

I then made a filling consisting of garlic, onion, chopped portabella mushroom stems, and Italian sausage (removed from their casings).

In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and saute' the garlic, onion & mushroom stems until soft.

Now add the crumbled Italian sausage and cook until it's browned and cooked through.

Add about a half cup of Italian style bread crumbs and mixed it all together.

When the filling is complete, I scooped about 2 tablespoons into each of the polenta cups.

Then topped each "cup" with the remaining polenta to cover the filling.

Next I browned some portabella mushroom caps in a little olive oil.

Then added about a cup of water, covered them and steamed them until they were tender.

Next, press the caps onto the filled polenta cups (These really do look like a cupcakes, don't they?).

Top the "cupcake" with the hot meat sauce and enjoy!

Actually very simple to make, and makes a delicious main course! I think I may try these in mini-muffin tins for great party hors d'oeuvres. And who said cupcakes were just for dessert?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Join Me Around The Campfire for some S'mores!

Well, there is no campfire, but we can still enjoy these delectable treats anytime, even inside, and you don't even need a campfire!

A s'more is a popular campfire treat consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker. The name "s'more" means "some more", as in: "give me some more!".

S'mores are associated with recreational camping. Part of the enjoyment of this simple dessert is the way in which it is made on such camping trips. A marshmallow is skewered on the end of a long stick (or metallic skewer) and held just above a campfire until its outer surface starts to brown. Once heated, the inside of the marshmallow becomes soft or molten. The marshmallow is quickly pinched off its stick with the waiting graham crackers, one of which has a piece of chocolate on it. Ideally, the heat from the roasted marshmallow partially melts the chocolate.
However, some people assemble the entire s'more on the stick and cook it all at once to ensure that the chocolate will melt.

Peanut butter can be added to the mix for additional flavor, either between a graham cracker and the chocolate piece or between the chocolate piece and the marshmallow. Keeping the graham crackers and chocolate near the campfire can help melt the chocolate.
Here's how you can enjoy these tasty treats inside without having to start up a campfire or even a BBQ grill!

Start with the simple basics:
Chocolate bars (Of course Hershey's works best!)
Marshmallows (store bought or homemade)

Place 1/4 of the chocolate bar on a square of graham cracker.

Skewer a marshmallow and lightly brown the marshmallow with the torch. I personally love my marshmallows "burnt"!

Immediately place the "melted" marshmallow onto the chocolate topped graham cracker and top with another graham cracker square and enjoy!!

Now if you don't have a culinary torch you can make these easily in your oven (even a toaster oven). Just place the graham cracker squares topped with the chocolate and marshmallow on a baking sheet.

Place them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes until the marshmallows are puffed & lightly browned and the chocolate just begins to melt.

Immediately remove them to a serving platter and top with the other graham cracker square!

Now here's a great variation of S'mores that I found even more delicious! This is also a great way for those who may be allergic to chocolate (like I am, though I still eat it), to enjoy S'mores!

These are called "Strawberry Shortcake S'mores", but I really don't see a connection with Strawberry Shortcake.

Just replace the Hershey's chocolate with some white chocolate chips or white chocolate candy-making wafers (Found at cake supply shops and craft stores), and add some fresh strawberries!

Top each graham square with the white chocolate chips or wafers, then a marshmallow.

Just like above, place them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. While they're in the oven, thinly slice the strawberries.

When they come from the oven, immediately top with 3 slices of strawberry and the other graham square and enjoy! These are heaven!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Cake for Two (or One)!!

Recently a friend of mine emailed me a recipe for this quick and easy "indulgence"! Apparently it's been made many times before, but this is the first time I've seen this and, of course, had to give it a try!

So quick and easy with just a few ingredients! You definitely want to try this yourself!

5 Minute Chocolate Cake

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 large MICROWAVE SAFE coffee mug

1. Spray the inside of the mug with non-stick spray.
2. Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.
3. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
4. Add the milk and oil, mix well..
5. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.

Please be sure that all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. You may even want to mix them together in a separate bowl.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed as it will "sink" back down when the baking is complete.

Allow to cool about 5 minutes, and tip out of the mug and cut in half, if you want to share. Serve this alone or with some of your favorite ice cream, if desired. Drizzled with a little chocolate or caramel sauce....O - M - G!

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Gives a whole new meaning to "cupcake"! Speaking of cupcakes, be sure and check out Martha Stewart's Cupcake's book, on sale now!!