Celebration Cupcakes

Today is my friend Jodi’s birthday and last night she came over to my house for some pasta, wine and Grammys.  I surprised her with these Celebration Cupcakes (even though we are both trying to eat healthier) because I think everyone deserves a little cake for their birthday.  I’ve made these cupcakes before but haven’t blogged about them so instead of photographing the process I took these iPhone photos.

This recipe has become my go-to cupcake recipe.  They are easy to make and flavorful, especially if you like a hint of almond (you can easily leave the almond extract out).  We loved them.  Mmmm…cupcakes.

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Additions:

  • Candy oyster pearls

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Almond milk

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Coastal Living magazine

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

Sometimes I come across a recipe that has me lingering a few seconds longer than the others but yet for whatever reason, I pass it by.  This recipe for Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples is a perfect example of that.  Each and every time I come across it, I pause and think Wow, that looks good.  Finally, I caved.  It won me over and I couldn’t go another day, another minute, without making it.

Smoked sausage (I used turkey) is mixed with apples and green beans and simmered in a flavorful broth of wheat beer, brown sugar, cider vinegar and orange peel before being topped with bits of fresh sage.  The alcohol in the beer cooks off and the remaining flavor adds a layer of depth which blends so well with the sausage.  The apples and green beans are perfectly crisp while the orange peel provides a fresh, subtle citrus flavor which pleasantly permeates the whole dish.  I had high expectations for this dish and the result was as good, no, better than I expected.  My only complaint: don’t boil the sausage with the green beans as the recipe states in step one (I think this is an error).  Only boil the green beans in step one and brown the sausage in step three.  And when you eat it, try to get a little bit of everything in one forkful.  It’s worth a full mouth.

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The ingredients:

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In a large saucepan combine 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper; bring to boiling.  Add green beans (not the sausage). Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

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Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter; add apples. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples are just tender.  Transfer to a platter.

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Add sausage to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add to platter; cover. Drain fat from skillet.

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Carefully add remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam); stir to scrape up browned bits. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened.

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Return sausage and green beans to skillet to coat in glaze. Fold in apples. Return to serving platter.

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Sprinkle with sage.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Turkey kielbasa

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Turkey Panini with Citrus Aioli

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest sandwich person.  Aside from the occasional Wawa junior hoagie, I don’t desire a sandwich very often.  At lunchtime, I usually get so cold in my office that I need something warm and cold sandwiches don’t usually cut it.  Sometimes, however, a warm panini with gooey cheese can be the perfect solution.  Since sandwiches are paired so perfectly with soup I thought this Turkey Panini with Citrus Aioli would be a great complement to the Winter Tomato Soup I posted on Monday.

Smoked turkey slices and provolone cheese are the base to this sandwich which I topped with baby spinach instead of watercress (because I had a huge tub of spinach on hand).  Adding a fresh and citrusy touch, an aioli made simply with mayonnaise, lemon and lime zests, garlic and lemon juice is lightly layered on the bread before topping it with the turkey and cheese.  This panini, which can be grilled on either a grill pan or a panini maker, is a great twist on the standard turkey sandwich.  If you have turkey and cheese in your fridge and you just don’t want another plain old sandwich, consider this.  It doesn’t matter what kind of turkey or cheese you use or even if you don’t have any leafy greens.  If you love mayonnaise like me, grab a lemon and a lime and whip up some of this citrus aioli for a yummy condiment to any sandwich.

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The ingredients:

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Combine mayonnaise, lemon, lime, pepper and garlic and spread evenly over half the bread slices.

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Top evenly with turkey, watercress (or spinach), cheese, and remaining bread slices.

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Coat a grill pan or panini maker heated to medium-high heat with cooking spray.  Arrange 2 sandwiches in pan.  If using a grill pan, place a cast-iron or heavy skillet on top of sandwiches and press gently to flatten.  Cook 2 minutes on each side (leave cast-iron skillet on sandwiches while they cook).

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Repeat procedure with remaining sandwiches.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Baby spinach
  • Light mayonnaise
  • Reduced-fat provolone cheese
  • Whole-wheat bread

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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