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Gluten Free

One of the ideas that I have running around my head is experimenting with “alternative cupcakes.” Not to the extent of BabyCakes Vegan Gluten Free low sugar cupcakes, but, specifically, gluten free and how to lower sugar/boost nutrition, and still have the cupcake seem like a cupcake.

I am a pretty dedicated King Arthur Flour baker. I like their dedication to standards and quality, their business model, as well as the baking education that they give, both online and off. I picked up some of their new gluten free baking mix (expensive!) and am looking for good recipes to try.

Also, anyone want to send me 1-2 oz of Xanthum gum? This goes by teaspoonfulls in recipes, yet I can only find 8 oz containers of it. Silly.

Recipes on my list of things to try:
Zahirah did gluten free chocolate peanut butter muffins, which look pretty good, and use honey instead of white sugar.

Something from BabyCakes Cookbook

Anyone have good links for gluten free cakes/cupcakes/pastries?

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Mexican Chocolate Cupcake with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Frosting

Woohoo for Air conditioned kitchen! Boo for still melting my frosting!

I am kitten sitting for some friends of mine, and while I am here, I am taking full advantage of their air conditioned kitchen to play with baked goods. I also did not bring butter or milk over with me the first day, so I needed a vegan cupcake.

I found this Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe listed a few places online. I liked the fact that it didnt use any milk substitutes, and that it had balsamic vinegar for acidity (rather than white vinegar, which is also not in this kitchen.) “Mexican Chocolate” is typically spiked with cinnamon for a slightly spicy kick, and these cupcakes also have cayenne pepper. They do have a spicy after kick.

I wanted to try this Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream, because I think it may go well with my dulce de leche cupcakes. The frosting was great, except I think I overbeat it, and/or the kitchen was too warm, so the butter started to melt.

This is different than the buttercream curdling. Most meringue based frostings (as well as my Cooked Flour Frosting) go through a stage where they look curdled. This is normal, and the answer is to keep beating it. However, when it starts to look like tiny fat globules and shiny liquid, something happened and you need to start over. (Or, ya know, eat it, because it is butter and sugar and therefore tasty, just not smooth and not pretty.)

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe from
Makes 12 servings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup canola oil*
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

This is a one bowl cake. Put everything in a bowl, and mix it up. Do not overbeat, but stir until just smooth. You can leave out the cayenne pepper, or substitute chili powder for less heat. (Edit 7/25/2010: Since this is an egg and dairy free cake, you actually can agitate the flour a bit, because it is the gluten that holds the cupcake together. Making this a second time, i put in 1 tsp of Cayenne pepper, and I think the chili powder provides a slightly better taste. I also upped the Cinnamon to 3 tsp., as I think the cinnamon came out more pronounced. The downside was that many thought the chocolate flavor wasn’t there.)

*(Note: Serious Eats has made this cake without the canola oil, so it may be optional. I would think that the cake would be drier, and I tend to like moist cupcakes.)

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. You can also make one 8 or 9 inch layer, and cook for approximately 30 minutes. A toothpick will come out clean when finished.

Top with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

A few notes on the swiss buttercream: when the eggs are at proper temperature, you can feel the mixture and it will no longer feel gritty. Make sure that everything is clean, otherwise the initial meringue will not fluff up. When adding the butter, “curdling” or it looking lumpy is fine, just keep beating. “Melting” is not okay. Make sure your kitchen is cooler than 75 degrees or so , otherwise the butter may melt. If you are really worried, watch this video on 123 Swiss Buttercream.

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Red Velvet Pumpkin Cupcakes

Rather, red velvet cake mix made with pumpkin. I took half a cake mix, 7.5 oz of pumpkin (half of the can), one egg, and a little bit of oil. (I did not measure it.)

It came out cakey, like an actual cupcake. The first pumpkin muffin attempt was just a spice cake mix and canned pumpkin. That was good, and had a distinct pumpkin taste, which was good. The texture was more of a muffin. So, I wanted to try out adding typical “cake ingredients” to see if they would come out. And they did!

Tomorrow, I will attempt (again) my grandmothers cooked flour frosting. Look for that later!

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Banana Cupcakes with (Attempted) Strawberry Frosting

I had a few older bananas, and faced with the choice of banana bread or banana cupcakes, I chose the cupcakes. I used Banana Chiffon Cake recipe. Chiffon cakes are made with oil, with most of the leavening coming from egg whites.

My egg whites did not whip up. I probably did not check the pan or the whisk to make sure that they were absolutely residue free, so I will have to do that next time.

The cupcakes browned rather quickly, but they rose with a nice dome top. The bananas did something funky, as the inside seems to have tiny dark spots, almost like threads. I assume they came from the bananas.

The frosting? Well, strawberry frosting still eludes me. I learned that my frosting does need some fat in it. I started with cream cheese, strawberry puree, and strawberry jam. I mixed in 1.5 lbs of sugar, and it was still quite runny. I mixed in some shortening, and it firmed up. Will mix in shortening at the beginning next time.

I played with the frosting. I am deciding what type of decorations look and taste best on cupcakes. These were made with just a disposable piping bag with a large part of the tip cut off. Pretty! Will have pictures once I figure out a photo editing program :)

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Orange Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Marmalade Frosting


I wanted to make a cupcake with a taste combination that is not normally seen. I think the taste combination was great! I think the cupcake was a bit dense, so I will play with it a bit. I topped these with candied orange peel, but those came out slightly crispy.

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Cake Recipe.

2 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup flour
1 cup Cocoa (I used a mixture of Valhalla and Hershey’s)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk. (Next time, I may swap some out for orange juice, for more of an orange juice flavor)
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (I am never buying McCormick extract again. Go for the good stuff.)
2 tsp Pure Orange Extract
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp orange juice (I put this in the boiling water, because my orange juice was in ice form.)

Whisk dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add everything else, except the boiling water, into the bowl. Mix for two minutes. Add boiling water, and mix until combined.

This made 18 regular size cupcakes, 24 mini cupcakes, and a 6 inch cake. Cook until done. (I am horrible, and did not time any of it, but I watched it until it was done.)

Chocolate Orange Marmalade Frosting.
Adapted from The Cupcake Project

1 cup butter, at room temperature.
6 oz Orange Marmalade (I weighed this, or I think it is about 2/3 cup).
3 cups of powdered sugar. (I think I used more than this, but I wanted a stiffer frosting.)
2 tbsp Orange Juice (or use 1/4th cup for thinner icing for frosting a cake).
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 oz melted unsweetened chocolate. (I used Nestle’s pre-melted packets.)

Beat butter until creamy, then beat in the orange marmalade. Add in half the powdered sugar and mix. Scrape down bowl. Add the orange juice, extracts, and chocolate. Beat until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, scraping down the bowl once.

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Bacon Wrapped and Chicken Fried Shrimp


Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
Take Bacon. Cut in half or thirds.
Wrap around shrimp.
Attach with toothpick.
Fried until done.

Chicken Fried Shrimp.

Make flour mixture (flour, garlic powder, pepper, pinch of salt.)
Make Egg dredge (one egg, lightly beaten, and some milk.)

Dip shrimp in flour mixture, then egg, then flour mixture, then drop in deep fryer. Fry for about 3-5 minutes until done. Eat.

Shrimp Two Ways

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Slow Cooker Italian Chicken


So, if I follow a recipe, it fails. When I make it up? Success!

Make Italian Dressing, or something resembling it. I used Marsala Wine, Olive Oil, and some Vinegar, and Italian Seasoning spices. (I got the latter from the bulk bins at Whole Foods in Austin, but I am sure a packet would work.)

My slow cooker is a Rival 5.5-qt. Crock Pot, and the recipe was fine for it.

Place four chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. My chicken breasts were frozen. This is an issue for some people, because frozen chicken breasts may spend more time in the “danger zone,” and it is not recommended to do this with frozen meats. Use at your own risk.

Top with Italian Dressing. Add a 14.5oz can of tomatoes (mine were Italian style with spices already in the can.)

I cooked on high for 5 hours, then shredded the chicken to let it cook in the juices while I cooked rice.


If I had to write a recipe?

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

One packet Italian Dressing mix
1/2 to 3/4 cup Marsala Wine (or whatever wine you like to cook with.)
1/4th cup olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
4 chicken breasts
1 14.5oz can tomatoes
Rice (optional)

Mix Italian Dressing mix with Wine and vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the Olive Oil while whisking.

Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Pour dressing over the breasts, and top with can of tomatoes.

High for 4 hours (5-6 if chicken breasts are frozen). I am sure you can do low for 8-10 or so, but I have not tried it yet.

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Slow Cooker Bottom Round Roast

Easy slow cooker recipe. As I am at the end of my financial aid, and, frankly, broke until I get my Fall money, I have to use the stuff in my fridge and freezer. Which, since I try to buy as frugally as I can. When I see a good deal, I get a lot :)

I originally got the bottom round roast for chili, as I prefer mine with beef chunks (as they are better able to stand up to multiple hours of cooking). But, I had an extra.

So, this is my very simple recipe. Laugh if you want, it tastes great and feeds me for a few days.

One Bottom Round Roast
One package onion soup mix
One can condensed cream of mushroom soup
One tsp dried minced garlic
salt and pepper

I salted the roast, and browned it in a large skillet. I put the roast in the slow cooker, and deglazed the pan with about a half cup of water. Poured this over the roast, and topped it with pepper, the onion soup mix, and the can of mushroom soup. I was very careful with the mushroom soup, as I wanted most of it to cook on top of the roast, rather than on the bottom where it could burn.

High for 6 hours, or low for 8-10. I cooked it in roast form on High for 4 Hours, then cut the roast and let it simmer in the sauce for another hour.

Serve with Bread. (And, yes, I made this bread almost specifically for sopping up the sauce made by this dish.)

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Salsa Verde

I spent two months in Mexico for a study abroad program. By the time I left, I was so sick of eggs and salsa verde that I did not eat them for a while. After I moved, and started on the current cooking craze, I wanted to try to make my own sauce. Luckily, if you can find the ingredients, salsa verde is pretty easy to make.

Jalapenos or Habaneros
Cilantro (if you want)

I tend to add about one pepper per 2-3 tomatillos, and this makes a VERY spicy salsa. You can always reduce the amount of peppers.

Remove the husks from the tomatillos, and rinse under water. They will be kinda sticky, but dont worry about it. Take the top off the jalapenos or habaneros (and, please, be careful! I did not pay attention one time and burned the corner of my eye with habanero juice! Ouch! You can use latex gloves if you are sensitive. I tend to just hack off the top and dump it into the water, so i never touch the inside.)

Bring a pot of water to boil, enough to cover the tomatillos and the peppers. Salt the water, and boil the tomatillos and peppers for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Reserving the boiling liquid, put tomatillos and peppers into a blender. (You can cool them first if you want). To the blender, add salt, a few cloves of garlic, and a quartered onion. Blend until smooth. (If this is warm, be careful, and be sure to vent the top of the blender).

At this point, you can add cream cheese and make the perfect sauce for enchiladas. Or you can use this salsa directly in cooking. Or, it makes an excellent spicy dip for chips, as an alternative to red salsas.


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Chicken Marsala

My partner asked me to learn to make Chicken Marsala. I do not like to drink wine, so I had never cooked with it. But, I like cooking for other people, so I attempted it.

It was actually easy! It was almost like making gravy, but easier and not as thick. There are a few different varying recipes out there, so this is how I did it. I took my inspiration from recipes by Emeril Lagasse and Tyler Florence.

I took two chicken breasts, and cut them in quarters. (Once down the middle, and then once again to split them in half long ways, so I had 1/4ths, and not strips). I lightly pounded them with the heel of my hand. (Fun!) I put salt and pepper on the breasts, then dredged them in seasoned flour. I then browned them in a large saute pan in some olive oil. I wanted them to be done with this step, as opposed to browned then finished cooking in the sauce.

I sliced the mushrooms, then sauteed them in the leftover oil, but added a tablespoon of butter. I added salt towards then end. The mushrooms soaked up all of the butter, so I added half a tablespoon of butter, and some extra flour. We like a lot of sauce, so I turned off the burner and added 1 cup of Marsala wine. I turned the burner back on, and stirred the wine around to scrape up the bottom of the pan. When the wine had reduced, I added 1 cup of homemade chicken broth (straight from the crock pot), and reduced it slightly. I added back in the browned chicken breasts, and let it simmer and cook for a few minutes.

Served over pasta. Yum!

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