Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sweet Potato Muffins with Cinnamon Mascarpone Filling

Surprise! It's another sweet potato recipe. I just can't get enough of those darn good sweet potatoes, folks! I saw this recipe for sweet potato muffins on an amazingly yummy blog called Vanilla Sugar. A while back I put this recipe on my "blog to-do" list, and then I recently had the perfect occasion to try it! As you may remember from my last post, my family celebrated an early Easter this past weekend. Well, my sister Melissa gave up desserts for Lent so I needed to accommodate her and make something she could eat! I thought to myself, hmmmm, this recipe is for muffins but they're slightly sweet so they might taste like a dessert....perfect! Melissa can still eat "dessert" with the rest of the fam after our Easter dinner. :)

This recipe was a little different from many that I make because it did involve a few extra steps (although I would not describe it as complicated, per se), and it required one ingredient that I do not use very often (mascarpone cheese). Otherwise, there was nothing to it, I'd say!

You can find the recipe I used from Vanilla Sugar here. One step that took a little longer was the need to roast sweet potatoes ahead of time for the "sweet potato puree." As you can see from the pictures below, I actually removed the skins before roasting the potatoes.

Generally I leave the skins on if I'm just making my typical roasted sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries. Anyway, so removing the skins took a few extra minutes than usual, but no biggie really! I actually baked them with olive oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Boy did they smell good when they were roasting!!

Here you can see me making the sweet potato "puree." I simply used a fork and then a whisk to mash the roasted sweet potatoes.  I suppose that I could have also put the cooled potatoes in a food processor too. Next time maybe!

The next few pics entail the making of the actual muffins. I won't "narrate" too much. You can figure out what I did from the pics! Oh, and with the liquid ingredients I did make one change. The recipe calls for buttermilk, but I used light vanilla yogurt instead.

I had fun Easter paper cupcake liners, of course!

Now it's time for the cinnamon mascarpone filling...sooo delish, let me tell you! I had never actually tried mascarpone cheese before on its own, so I took a taste before I made the filling. It's good! I would describe it as a sweet cream cheese (in case you're also not yet familiar with it!). Below are a few pictures of me cutting out the centers of each muffin (to do this, I used a small grapefruit spoon that has serrated edges - worked great!) and then you'll see some pics of me piping in the filling. I did this while at my parents' house, so I had Mike and Melissa to take a few pictures of the process. Thanks, photographers!!

And there you have 'em! Sweet potato muffins with cinnamon mascarpone filling. These are definitely a delicious sweet treat (yet not technically a dessert, which was key for my sista :)) that I think you'd love. Give 'em a shot, and be sure to let me know if you do!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easy Icebox Cake

Hi friends! I have missed you (and maybe you've missed me too?!)... It's been over a week since I last posted a recipe! Do forgive me, please. :) I have been creating delicious recipes, I promise. I just haven't found the time to blog about them! I thought I'd share with you here a recipe that I've made twice within the last two weeks. It's that good!! This dessert is called "icebox cake," and I found the recipe on a blog I enjoy, Brown Eyed Baker. The actual recipe I modeled mine after can be found here.

At the very minimum, you can make this dish with just three ingredients. How easy! Hence, the title of this post, "Easy Icebox Cake." ;-) The cool thing about this recipe though is that you can very simply jazz it up if you want to, and you can create it with endless flavors. I love a recipe like this one!

Here are the three basic ingredients:
-graham crackers
-2 boxes instant pudding (any flavor or flavors!)
-cool whip (optional)

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, it's really four ingredients since you have to use milk to make the instant pudding. Oops! So, four ingredients it is.

As I said earlier, I made this recipe twice in the past couple weeks. The first time I made it was right around St. Patrick's Day, so I chose to use pistachio flavored pudding since it's such a great St. Patty's Day green color! The second occasion for which I made this icebox cake was the early Easter that my family had this past weekend. Our schedules don't allow us to get together on Easter weekend this year, so we celebrated this past weekend at home in NY. I had a pretty busy week last week so I knew I had to make something that wouldn't take much time...

Below are some pictures from my first venture with pistachio pudding, and then you'll see pictures from the Easter dessert creation. I went "all out" and used two different flavored puddings for the Easter one....woah! I know, I'm living on the edge. I'll tell you what those flavors are in a bit when you get to those pics!

Did I mention that this recipe is EASY? All you do is just layer the ingredients and then let the dish sit in the fridge overnight. That is all, folks!

Jake, Mary, and Mike! I brought the pistachio icebox cake to their house when we visited for dinner. :)

Okay, now on to icebox cake #2 (aka early Easter dinner dessert!)... Oh, and by the way, bear with me here. I realize that I am including a lot of pictures with this post, but I just like seeing all the layers and how the whole thing comes together... I'm pretty simple-minded, I know. It doesn't take much to entertain me! Check out the fun ingredients I put into this next one... The possibilities are endless!

Lemon & coconut cream puddings this time - fun combo!

I added bananas on the coconut cream layer - yum! A little extra potassium for this dessert's consumers. ;-)

Time for another graham cracker layer!

And then the lemon pudding layer...

...with blueberries!

Cool whip and fun Easter sprinkles!

Here's a close-up of the sprinkles - can you see the little Easter bunny shapes?

Here you can see the layers, although they're not too "defined." When the dessert sits overnight, the layers seem to meld together a's quite delicious that way! The graham crackers get a little soft and all the flavors come together nicely.

And finally, here's me! I don't get a chance to have others photograph the "Barbershop" all that often, so my sister was nice enough to take a picture of me with our Easter dessert.

So what other flavors would you include with this dessert? What about a vanilla and chocolate pudding combo? Maybe with some strawberry slices? Mmmm. Oooh, I know...spread some peanut butter on the graham crackers! That'd be really fun to do with chocolate pudding. Tell me your ideas, friends!

Stay tuned 'til next time... I have several other recipes in the line-up! ;-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homemade Veggie Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

Now does that sound like a meal or what? Homemade veggie burgers and sweet potato fries! Yummm. I love trying veggie burgers at different restaurants when I go out to eat, and I've always wanted to try making my, I did just that. :) Although I am not a vegetarian, sometimes I eat like I am one...I just looove my veggies! I was super psyched to make my own veggie burgers at home. And let me tell you, I will be making these again for sure!

The recipe I used was one from a great blog entitled "Oh She Glows," which focuses on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, I found out about these veggie burgers through another blog that I've mentioned as of late, Kath Eats. Love this girl! So, Kath had recently made veggie burgers by following the Oh She Glows recipe...and I then did the same. :)

You can check out the recipe at the link I provided above. I will admit that I omitted a couple of the less common ingredients - the chia seeds and the pumpkin seeds. I probably could have found them at the store, but I was lazy and chose not to! I would definitely be interested in trying them sometime though. I also substituted red kidney beans for the chickpeas simply because I happened to have kidney beans on hand but not chickpeas.

The recipe really is sooo simple. Essentially, you prepare your ingredients (cleaning, chopping, etc.), put them all in a food processor, process away, shape the patties, and then bake them! Could it get any easier?! I think not. ;-)  Here are some pictures of the process...

Kidney beans and carrots, followed by other veggies including onions, red peppers, spinach, and cauliflower (the cauliflower wasn't in the original recipe; I added some that I had steamed earlier)...

Time for spices!! I added garlic, basil, and chili powder.

Next, throw it all in the processor!  Love all the bright colors.

Check out how you can still see all the colors of the veggies, even though they're all blended together. Neat! 

Above, you can see the next ingredient, sunflower seeds! These are not processed with the rest of the mixture; rather, you just stir them in.

Now you add some flour (the recipe calls for spelt flour or the flour of your choice). I used whole wheat. Then form the patties!! I halved the recipe, and it made four patties.

I baked mine on parchment paper, but next time I might baked them on a well greased pan. The recipe said you could do either, but a couple of my patties stuck to the parchment just a tad. You can see that in the picture below...the patties didn't burn though, don't worry. The marks on the parchment are just from when I flipped the burgers halfway through the baking.

What should we pair with our veggie burgers?! I know! Sweet potato fries!! These are incredibly easy and very healthy too. Now that's a winning combination. ;-)

All you have to do for the sweet "tater" fries is cut your potatoes in fry-like shapes (I leave the skins on mine), drizzle them in olive oil, and then sprinkle them with whatever spices you'd like (options include rosemary, garlic, chili powder, cayenne, basil, etc.). Bake around 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Voila! You have yourself some baked "fries"!!

I had my veggie burger plain without any additional toppings other than the tomato slices you see below. I also did not have a bun or bread with my burger... As you can see, I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner (although, the wine was in a fun beer glass) so I saved my calories for the wine instead of bread. :)

If you're a fan of veggie burgers but have never made your own, or if you generally just enjoy eating healthy foods, I highly recommend you try these... They take no time at all to make and if you usually have fresh veggies on hand like I do, you can make them almost any night of the week! Enjoy, friends! You'll love this meal so much that it will be pretty much gone before you know in this picture here!!