Breakfast/Brunch

Gingerbread Waffles with all the Fixin’s

Gingerbread Waffles

Our Christmas morning brunch consisted of bacon, mimosas and homemade waffles—gingerbread waffles! For me, it really couldn’t get much better than that.

When the big seester brought up waffles for our menu, I quickly suggested a gingerbread spin since the flavors were perfect for the season and well, because I’m obsessed with everything gingerbread.

I turned to good ol’ Martha Stewart as I had read some great feedback on her version of gingerbread waffles. The batter came together quickly and isn’t the least bit fussy. Once we ladled the batter onto the griddle, you could instantly smell the delicious spices mixed with molasses. And because we were going the extra mile for Christmas, we added some awesome fixin’s that went with the crispy, spiced waffles – Grand Marnier whipped cream and a tart cranberry compote. YUM!

These waffles definitely celebrate the flavors of the holiday but are so darn good, I intend to have them year round–particularly since they freeze beautifully. And I’m all about stocking up on my freezer meals.

Have a great weekend, Folks!

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Gingerbread Waffles with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream and Cranberry Compote
Makes approximately 8-10 waffles

Ingredients:

Cranberry Compote:
1 12-ounce bag cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier Whipped Cream:
2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Waffle Batter (From Martha Stewart)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses

Prepare the compote. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir and simmer the ingredients for 20 – 25 minutes until the berries have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Set aside.

Prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds soft peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar and whisk until you reach stiff peaks. Slowly pour in the Grand Marnier and whip until combined. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Heat the waffle iron.

Prepare the waffle batter. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, butter, milk, sour cream, and molasses in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, and whisk until smooth.

Grease the waffle iron as needed and ladle in the batter. Cook until golden brown and serve with the whipped cream and a dollop of compote.

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Desserts/Pastries

Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Whipped Cream

Raspberry Cupcakes

Man, old, man…..There’s a Baby Epidemic going around!

Yep. In less than 8 weeks, I’ve attended 5 baby showers. Now that’s a lot of baby games!

Raspberry Cupcakes

And not to brag, but I’m kind of a pro now when it comes to guessing how many jelly beans there are in a baby bottle…..or gauging the diameter of momma’s tummy using a roll of toilet paper….or everyone’s favorite–identifying the type of candy bar that has been melted/schmeared into a little diaper. Yep, y’all don’t stand a chance!

For the most recent shower I attended, I decided to bring some cuppies to the party. My friend, who is the momma-to-be, doesn’t really enjoy overly sweet desserts so I wanted to make something light but that would still satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

Raspberry Cupcakes

I ended up making these fluffy Raspberry Cupcakes that were flavored with fresh raspberry puree. And instead of your standard buttercreams, I topped them with rosette swirls of raspberry flavored whipped cream.

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Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Whipped Cream
Makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter:
2¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
½ tablespoon almond extract
½ cup raspberry puree*

Raspberry Whipped Cream:
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup raspberry puree*

Garnish:
fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in another bowl.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the almond extract and then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating the mixture for another few minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Gently fold in the raspberry puree until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Slowly add in the raspberry puree and whip until combined.

Fit a piping bag with a fitted tip. Fill the bag with the Raspberry Whipped Cream and pipe decorative swirls on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with fresh berries.

**To make Raspberry Puree, add 2 pints of fresh raspberries with 2 tablespoons of water in a blender. Puree the berries until smooth. Pour the raspberry mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Depending on how sweet the raspberries are, you can also add a few teaspoons of sugar while you puree them.

Desserts/Pastries · Sunday Family Dinner

Pistachio–Orange Blossom Cake

Pistachio-Orange Blossom Cake

Our monthly Sunday Family Dinners have kind of morphed into Saturday Family Dinners. It may not have the same ring to it but after an evening of consuming tons of goodness, the last thing I want to do is to drive back home to San Diego to make it to work the next morning.

March 2013 Family Dinner

So last weekend, we held our monthly Fam-Din at my seester’s casa where we jumped into a Middle Eastern inspired menu. The seesters made Roasted Garlic Hummus, Cucumber-Chickpea-Feta Salad, Shish Tawook and Basmati Rice.

March 2013 Family Dinner

Shish Tawook are chicken skewers that are marinated in yogurt, citrus, spices and then grilled. My seester served them with toum which was a super garlicky sauce that she was obsessed with. Truth be told, I had no idea what toum was before this weekend but it was fantastic over the chicken. As for the salad, it went really well with the Shish Tawook as the acidity helped to cut and brighten the dish.

March 2013 Family Dinner

Initially I was going to bake fresh pita to serve alongside with the hummus and chicken but well…I got lazy, really lazy. And since one of my seesters lives down the street from a wonderful Middle Eastern grocery store, I decided to pick up some of their delicious sangkak that they bake fresh throughout the day. Sangkak is a Persian flatbread that is slightly chewy and the one I picked up from Aria was about 36 inches long, speckled with sesames seeds, and was steaming hot.

Pistachio-Orange Blossom Cake

As for my homemade contributions to dinner, I made a Pistachio-Orange Blossom Cake for dessert and Pomegranate Mojitos. Yea, yea….I know mojitos are Cuban but I considered it a fusion since I used pomegranates and fresh mint for this cocktail—totes Middle Eastern flavors. 🙂

Pistachio-Orange Blossom Cake

As for the cake, well…..truth be told, this was an 11th hour addition. The original dessert I had planned to make was a Pistachio Pound Cake but when it cooled, it weighed a gazillion pounds and was as hard as a brick!!! It totally confounded me as the recipe appeared “normal” and I didn’t over bake it but that’s how new dessert recipes roll sometimes. Hit or miss. But if I didn’t experiment on my loved ones, who would I try new recipes on? 🙂

So with dinner just a few hours away, I pulled out one of my tried and true recipes and modified it a bit to compliment our Middle Eastern themed menu. To a trusted cake batter, I added finely ground pistachio nuts, fresh orange zest and a few dashes of orange blossom water that I had picked up when I grabbed the sangkak.

With a hope and a prayer, I served my “do-over” cake with fresh berries, a citrus scented whipped cream and crushed pistachios. And guess what? The seebs and kids really liked it! Really! Because if they didn’t, they would’ve told me in a heartbeat. That’s the thing with family. They give brutally honest feedback–something I completely appreciate it….when it comes to cooking, that is.

The cake was rather light and beautifully aromatic from the pistachios and orange flavors. And although I did cover it with a glaze, it wasn’t too sweet and paired well with the fluffy whipped cream I scented with orange zest. As for the berries, wonderfully tart and bright.

All in all, it was a delicious and successful Fam-Din! And true to form, we hadn’t finished 1/2 of our meal before we started planning April’s menu—Japanese!

The Vapors would be so proud.

 

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Pomegranate Mojito
Appetizers: Roasted Garlic Hummus with Sangkak Flat Bread
Entrees: Shish Tawook with Toum, Crispy Rice, Cucumber-Chickpea-Feta Salad
Dessert: Pistachio-Orange Blossom Cake

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Pistachio–Orange Blossom Cake
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

Cake Batter
2¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups buttermilk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1½ tablespoons fresh orange zest
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
½ cup finely ground pistachios

Glaze
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
¼ cup roughly chopped pistachios

Orange Scented Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons fresh orange zest

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and eggs in another bowl.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, orange zest and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and with the paddle attachment beat at medium speed until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the almond extract and orange blossom. Then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in ½ of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in 1/3 of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating for another minute to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed and then add in the ground pistachios. Mix until just combined. Pour the cake batter into a well greased bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minute before carefully inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake has completely cooled, create the glaze. In a large measuring cup, combine all the glaze ingredients except the nuts. Microwave in 20 second intervals until the glaze has just combined (whisking in between). Slowly spoon the warm glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in between spoonfuls. Sprinkle the crushed pistachios over the cake and let it cool for 1 hour before slicing and serving. *The glaze is quite thin. For a thicker consistency, double the amount of powdered sugar.

Before serving, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the zest and whip until combined.

Serve the cake with dollops of whipped cream, additional chopped pistachios and fresh raspberries (optional).

Drinks · Ice Cream

Boozy Mint Chip Shakes — Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Boozy Mint Chip Shakes

Need something green to help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Well you’re in luck because I’ve got a super green, super delish and super boozy shake for you.

Boozy Mint Chip Shakes

Tons of mint chocolate chip ice cream blended with Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream and topped with swirls of mint flavored whipped cream. Green, minty deliciousness!

HAPPY ST.PATRICK’S DAY!!!

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Boozy Mint Chip Shakes
Serves 2

Ingredients

Mint Flavored Whipped Cream
½ cup chilled heavy cream
½ tablespoon sugar
2 drops mint extract

Shake
2 heaping cups mint chocolate chip ice cream
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon malt powder
2½ ounces Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream
1-2 drops green food color (optional)
Sprinkles

Prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the mint extract and whip until combined.

In a blender, combine ice cream, milk, malt powder, Irish cream and food color (optional). Blend until the mixture is smooth and combined.

Pour the shake into two chilled glasses and top with swirls of whipped cream. Add sprinkles and enjoy!

Desserts/Pastries

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake…because it’s Leap Day!

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

It’s Leap Day-–so let there be Cheesecake!

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake to be exact.

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

You may be wondering what Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake and Leap Year have in common. Not much really but I’ll take any excuse to indulge in something yummy and pretty 🙂

Happy Leap Day!

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Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:
2½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling:
24 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
¼ Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
¼ Teaspoon Cornstarch
2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Lemon

Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Sugar

1 Pint Fresh Strawberries, washed and stemmed

Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan by wrapping the outside with 2-3 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Pour into the pan and evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cornstarch until well combined. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven. Fill the roasting pan with hot water to come halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Allow the cake to sit in the oven (heat turned off) with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes. Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Carefully release the ring mold.

Prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency.

Arrange the whole strawberries on top of the cheesecake. Place a piping tip inside of a pastry bag and fill with whipped cream. Pipe decorative patterns of whipped cream on top of the cheesecake.

Desserts/Pastries

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

 

Ever since I picked up these super cute lime green-polka dot cupcake liners, I’ve been wanting to make some lime cupcakes. Something light, fluffy, and fragrant. From the combination of cake flour and egg whites, these cuppies fit the bill perfectly.

I also went back and forth for awhile between a few different possible frostings for the cakes—-lime cream cheese, lime buttercream, lime swiss meringue buttercream….so many options. And then the lime whipped cream I had made for the Key Lime Cheesecake popped in my mind. I just loved it with the cheesecake and felt like it would be great with the cupcakes. After a quick survey of some peeps, it was settled—Lime Whipped Cream it was.

 

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

 

And it was P-E-R-F-E-C-T! Since the cakes were so light and fluffy, the whipped cream was a perfect pairing! I had never had a cupcake topped with whipped cream before and the end result was actually quite refreshing.

Flavored whipped cream….my new FAV cupcake topping. If you’ve never tried the combo before, immediately pick up some heavy cream and go directly to your kitchen and try it out!

Mmmmm…..

Thanks for reading and have a lovely weekend!

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Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream
Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter (Adapted from My Baking Addiction):
2 ¼ Cups Cake Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ¼ Cups Buttermilk
4 Large Egg Whites, at room temperature
1½ Cups Sugar
1½ Tablespoons Fresh Lime Zest
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Key Lime Extract

Lime Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 TablespoonsFresh Lime Zest

Garnish:
Fresh Lime Zest
Fresh Lime Slices

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in another bowl. Put the sugar and lime zest in a mixer bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and with the paddle attachment beat at medium speed with a stand mixer until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the extract and lime juice, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating the mixture for another few minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the zest and whip until combined.

Fill a piping bag with a fitted tip. Pipe on the whipped cream on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with additional lime zest and lime slices.

Desserts/Pastries

Key Lime Cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake

I know I always harp on about it.

But I freaking love citrus.

In the foods I cook/eat, beverages I like to drink, fragrances for my hand soaps and lotions, and even for decor.

I’m a Citrus-a-holic.

Key Lime Cheesecake

I know. I’ve got issues 🙂

Key Lime Cheesecake

Since Key Lime Pie ranks among one of my top favorite desserts, I wanted to take it’s bright flavors and marry it with one of my other favorite sweet treats—Cheesecake!

If you love citrus and limey things, this dessert is perfect for you! The tartness is fully pronounced but not overwhelming and the citrus-whipped cream is the ideal pairing.

As I mentioned in my post about Key Lime Pie with a Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust, it’s tough work to squeeze the juice out of those little buggers! But Key Limes have such a distinct flavor that I didn’t want to substitute them with Persian Limes. Lucky for me, my sis had just picked up a bottle of pure Key Lime juice from Williams Sonoma. And since I was intent on packing in as much citrus flavor into this cheesecake as I could, I also used Key Lime Extract. (My sis had given me a bottle as a gift since she knows what a key lime freak I am!)

Key Lime Cheesecake

Sure, if you just “kinda” like the flavors of citrus, you could decrease the amounts of juice, zest, or extract. But what fun would that be?

I myself, just might even try to add more zest next time. 🙂

And with that my friends, thanks for reading and have a WONDERFUL MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND!

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Key Lime Cheesecake
Makes one 9-inch Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:
2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling:
24 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
¼ Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons Key Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Lime Zest
1½ Teaspoon Key Lime Extract

Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoons Lime Zest
Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan and press crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the lime juice, lime extract and zest until well combined.  Pour the filling over the cooled crust.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven with a pan half full of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. (To prop the oven door, I use a wooden handled spoon to keep it ajar a few inches). Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.  Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes.  Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake.

When you are ready to serve, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the zest and whip until combined.

Pipe the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake and garnish with additional lime slices and zest.

Enjoy!