Sunday, March 9, 2014

Black and Tan Cupcakes

With St. Patrick's Day coming up and my frisbee tournament this weekend, I have beer on the brain.  However, as much fun as it is to drink it, beer also makes for awesome flavor in food.  From Cheddar Pumpkin Beer Soup, to chili, to dessert, beer makes most things better.  This time it's in cupcakes.

A Black and Tan is a favorite in my group of friends, so I figured I'd attempt to make the stratified look while also using the Guinness' and pale ale's signature flavors.  This makes them a little more labor intensive than most cupcakes, but trust me, the flavors and the look will have your friends and tastebuds talking about as much as I do when I drink one too many.

Black and Tan Cupcakes

Makes about 48 cupcakes.


  For the "Tan" part:

     3/4 cups of butter,  room temperature
     1 3/4 cups of sugar
     2 1/2 cups of flour
     2 tsp of baking powder
     1/2 tsp of salt
     3 eggs, room temperature     
     1 tsp of vanilla extract
     1 cup of pale ale like Bass
     1/4 cup of milk

  For the "Black" part:

     3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
     2 cups of sugar
     2 cups of all purpose flour
     1 tsp of baking soda
     pinch of salt
     1/2 cup of butter, melted and cooled (must be cooled so as not to solidify in Guiness)
     1 Tblsp of vanilla extract
     1 bottle (12 oz) of Guinness stout beer, room temperature (must be room temp, see above)
     3 large eggs
     3/4 cups of sour cream

For the topping:

     2-3 containers of vanilla frosting
     1 jar of caramel topping


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  Start with "Tan" part:

     In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
     In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.

     In yet another bowl, combine the milk and beer.  Add this to the butter and sugar mixture alternating with the flour mixture.  End with last part of flour mixture.

     Place two to three dollops of batter into cupcake liners.  This batter will rise much more than the Guinness batter, so only fill it about 1/4 of the way.

     Bake until just set.  About 8-10 minutes.  You don't want to fully cook these because they will finish cooking with the Guinness batter.

     Once baked enough, place in freezer for about 30 minutes.  This will help to make sure the batter doesn't get dried out when baked again and is what makes the stratified look of the Black and Tan.

  In the meantime, for the "Black" part:

     In a medium bowl, mix together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

     In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and vanilla.  Slowly add in the Guinness while stirring.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add in the sour cream and combine fully.

     Slowly add in the flour mixture.  Stir just enough to combine.

Once the "Tan" part is done freezing, remove from freezer and fill the cupcake liners with the Guinness batter.  Fill to the top since this batter won't rise as much.

Drop the oven temp to 360 degrees.

Bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Rotate halfway through bake time.

Let cupcakes cool then top with vanilla frosting and drizzle on the caramel.

Special thanks:
Jess from Inquiring Chef for the Guinness recipe and to Erica at Sweet Tooth for her recipe that was adapted slightly for the pale ale cupcake.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Strawberry and Oats Muffins

Baking was my first love when it came to cooking.  Well, after my "throw in everything I could find in the refrigerator" mac n cheese I made when I was about 13.  I swore it was good.  I'm not so sure anymore.

I took a cake decorating class and instantly fell in love.  I would jump at the chance for bake sales where I could show off my new skills.  My only problem was my short attention span, so half the cupcakes looked awesome, while the rest looked like the cupcakes we were used to at elementary school carnival cake walks.  Not bad, just not as special as I had in mind.  I try to be an artist, I just need to choose my battles, and elaborate cake designs are something I'll have to work up to.  I mean if I could make the cakes that Buddy does on "Cake Boss" I'd be stoked, and I think I could hold my own if I could stand decorating for hours on end, but really I'd just end up eating half the icing in the process.

Anyway, my baking has taken a slight turn recently and become a little less eloquent in appearance and a little more explorational in tastes.  Gone are my Funfetti cupcakes with beds of roses piped on top, and in their place are slightly healthier, but just as delicious muffin recipes.  See my other recent creation Healthier Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins.

Soon I will go back to my cupcake creations. I'm thinking an Old Fashion Bourbon Chocolate cupcake sounds pretty good for Fall, but for now, let's ride this healthy kick for as long as we can.

Strawberry and Oats Muffins


1 1/4 cups of Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 lb of Strawberries
2 tsp of White Sugar
1 tsp of Balsamic Vinegar
2 Eggs
1/2 cup of Butter
1/2 cup of Brown Sugar (packed)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp of Salt
1/4 tsp of Finely Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp of Cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Prepare a muffin tin with either cooking spray or paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mix the oats and plain yogurt together.  Set aside.

Slice or roughly chop the strawberries.  It should come to about 1 1/2 cups.  Place in a bowl and coat with sugar and balsamic vinegar.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, black pepper and cinnamon.

To the yogurt mixture add: eggs, melted butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract.  Do not over mix.

Gently add the flour mixture to the oatmeal.  Batter will be lumpy (still don't over mix!)

Gently fold in the strawberries and the vinegar mixture.

Spoon batter in the muffin tin.  Fill to the top.

Bake for about 18 minutes or until the tops are browned.  A toothpick inserted int he middle should come out cleanly.

Recipe courtesy of:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Italian Monkey Bread

LA has an abundance of farmer's markets, and I've been here almost two years, but I had yet to partake in one.  That is until last weekend.  I don't know what took me so long because it was more magical than I could have imagined.  Items from fresh fruits to seafood to pies lined the walkway.  It was hard to not buy everything.  However, the one stand that won all of my money was the olive oil and mozzarella stand.

Having spent an extended period of time in Spain, I've become a little bit of an olive oil connoisseur.  Nothing beats single estate Spanish olive oil.  It has an earthy flavor that is a bit of an acquired taste, but makes dishes fuller in flavor.  Single estate just means that it is made from a single source rather than a blend of different oils.

Quality olive oil also has a lot of benefits.  My hair never looked better after eating home cooked meals filled with olive oil every night.  It also acts as an anti-inflammatory and despite it's fat content, helps fight obesity along with many other health problems.  Look good inside and out.

Because of my new purchases (two bottles of homegrown olive oil and homemade mozzarella - yummm) I needed to find a dish that would utilize the quality ingredients.  Despite my love of Spain, it's food doesn't get me quite as excited as it's Italian counterparts.  Since I had extra time due to my extended time off I went with something traditional in ingredients, but a little more out of the box in presentation.

If you are cooking for kids, or just want to eat like one, this meal is perfect.  I know I've been on a health kick lately, but I couldn't resist the fun that this dish packs into each bite.

You may be familiar with the original version of this dish that resembles a cinnamon bun.  However, this time I wanted to make it into a savory main dish, so I tried out two different popular italian flavors in order to use my oil and mozzarella.  Half of the ring is bruschetta and the other half is pepperoni pizza.  Appetizer and main course in one.

Italian Monkeybread (Bruschetta and Pepperoni Pizza)

Ingredients: (Double the filling ingredients other than the cheese if only making one flavor)

2 lbs of Pizza Dough (two of those pop open tubes)
24 slices of Pepperoni
6 oz of Mozzarella Cheese
12 Cherry Tomatoes
24 medium Basil Leaves
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp of Olive Oil
Parmesan cheese for topping
Oregano to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Marinara Sauce and Balsamic Vinaigrette for dipping


Chop up the garlic before starting.  Let it sit until you are forming thedough balls.  Garlic is packed with health benefits, but they only gain these benefits if they sit out for at least five minutes after being chopped.

Pull dough into large marble sized balls and flatten them to just slightly bigger than a pepperoni slice.

Cut tomatoes in half and season with salt and pepper.

Place tomatoes, basil and half of the cheese (divided up evenly) on top of half the dough.  On the other half place the remaining cheese and pepperoni slices.

Heat the oil in a pan and cook the garlic until just beginning to brown.  About 8 minutes

Fold the dough over the ingredients, forming balls.

Take a brush and coat the inside of a bundt pan with the garlic oil.  Place the first layer of dough balls and brush on more oil.  Top with parmesan and oregano on the pepperoni bites and salt and pepper on the bruschetta bites.  Repeat with each layer.

Let dough sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 400.

Bake dough for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

Let sit for an extra 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Serve with marinara and balsamic vinaigrette.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spicy Coconut Milk Chicken

This dish was inspired by my friend's roommate who made a similar dish for us one night.  Her family is Indian, and I find myself being more and more surrounded by Indian cuisine recently.  I've been adventuring slowly into this realm.  I love the Indian food I've had in the past (meaning the two times I've eaten it) but I admit that I'm a little intimidated by the blend of spices and multiple flavors each dish packs.

This dish was my metaphorical toe in the water of Indian cuisine.  It isn't completely culturally accurate, but for a basic weeknight dinner it will delight your taste buds.

As a bonus, this dish is dairy free because it utilizes coconut milk.  And even though you are probably thinking the same thing I thought - when will I ever use up the rest of the coconut milk? - trust me it is more versatile than you think.  Substitute it for milk in baked dishes like pancakes and it will add an extra touch of sweetness that you won't be sorry about.  Also, check back soon for the recipe for my Mumbai Fish Fry, that will give you one more option.  It's definitely a worthwhile investment to switch things up if you want to go dairy free or just add to your arsenal of flavors.

Spicy Coconut Chicken


1 lb of Chicken
1 Tbsp of butter
1 Leek, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1/4 cup of Onions
1 Tbsp of grated Ginger
2 tsp of Thai Chili Paste
1/2 Tbsp of Curry Powder
Pinch of Cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup of Coconut Milk
1 tsp of Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp of chopped fresh Cilantro


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat butter in pan.  Saute leek, garlic, onions and ginger until soft.  About 10 minutes.

Coat chicken in Thai chili paste, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Put chicken and vegetables in a glass pan.  Pour in the coconut milk, lemon juice and top with cilantro.

Bake until cooked through.  About 20 minutes.