Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Thing With Buttermilk…

I almost never, ever have buttermilk lying around.  When I need it for baking, I do the cheat thing (milk + a tablespoon or two of white vinegar, and let it sit for 10 minutes before using).

Then I decided it was time to (wo)man up and buy some real buttermilk so I could make some legit oven-fried chicken (I promise the recipe is coming soon).  Yeah, ‘MURICA!  (Sorry, “real buttermilk” sounded very all-American-apple-pie to me)

But now I have half a quart left of buttermilk sitting in my fridge.  I don’t like pancakes, and I don’t want to make any more oven-fried chicken, so I thumbed through some cookbooks and decided to whip up some cupcakes.

While the cupcakes were baking, I realized I didn’t have any butter or cream cheese to make any sort of frosting.  Awesome.  We all know that cupcakes without frosting is just really sad, plain muffins.  I surveyed my refrigerator and saw half a pint of whipped cream.  So… that’ll have to do.  And, from experience, when working with whipping cream (I prefer a hand mixer to a stand mixer), cover your bowl with a cloth on one end, so it doesn’t look like someone sprayed white paint everywhere.

The great thing about this combination, which really was just a way for me to use up some perishable ingredients in my refrigerator, is that the flavors are very mild and not very sweet.  So basically I can eat this for breakfast.. right?

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Buttermilk Cupcakes & Whipped Cream Frosting
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (8 tbsp.) butter, softened to room temperature*
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar

Ingredients for the frosting:

1 cup whipping cream, straight from the refrigerator
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Line a cupcake tin, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla extract.  Alternate mixing in the dry ingredients with the buttermilk (I like to pour 1/3 in at a time) on low speed.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake tin 2/3 of the way full.  Once it’s in the oven, turn down the heat to 325 degrees, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached.

After 10 minutes of resting in the cupcake tin, place each cupcake on a wire rack.  Let cool completely before frosting (unless your ultimate goal is for your cupcakes to look like a runny mess).

To make the frosting, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat, slowly increasing the speed to high.  Beat for 5 minutes or until soft peaks form.  I dolloped mine straight onto the cupcake and used the back of the spoon to spread it around – I love the homemade-look for cupcakes; I think they taste better, but that could just be purely psychological.

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* If you are super short on time or you decided to bake on a whim, and didn’t have any time to let the butter soften to room temperature, nuke it at the lowest power for 2 minutes.

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One-Pan Lunch

People often ask what it’s like to be funemployed (by choice).  Do I like it?  Do I get bored?

Are you kidding me?  I freaking love it!  It’s the only time I’ve ever had to really focus on myself, without any distractions (work, school, etc.).  As a result, I’ve been working out more (today an old German lady had a cat t-shirt that said “Hot flashes cause global warming” – I am not even joking), cooking healthier, and soaking up the surprisingly warm San Francisco sun.

I’ve tried to make some of the stuff I bookmarked, such as slow-cooker pulled pork, pork tenderloin, and oven-fried chicken (recipe to come in a later post).  But then sometimes I run out of stuff to make because I’m still retaining some of my bachelorette spirit.  Like the time I only had beer and ketchup in my fridge.  Those were dark times, but those were also incredibly fun times.

After a round of Zumba (if there is any proof that there is a God, this would be it – this higher being determined that I am not to be a dancer in this life) and spin, I decided a juice wasn’t enough to tide me over until an early dinner.  Steaming a head of cauliflower to turn into a mash seemed like too much work, and my pot of water wasn’t boiling quickly enough.

So I stared into my fridge.  I never have enough to make a complete meal, because if I have pasta, I have no sauce.  There’s cheese, but no bread.  There’s broth, but no meat or other veggies to put in.

I was able to round up a handful of cherry tomatoes, a bag of baby kale and spinach, some leftover pearl couscous, and, after rummaging through the depths of my cabinet, a small can of chunk light tuna, all of which I threw into a pan with some olive oil and salt.  Seriously.  If there’s something I would love to specialize in, it’s one-pan meals.  Not as glamorous, but less cleanup means a big win for me (or, let’s get real, for Sam).

And this was delicious.

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Super Quick Easy Healthy Lunch

Ingredients:

Half a cup of cherry or grape tomatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Small can of chunk light tuna (or any other cooked protein)
Handful of baby spinach or kale
Cooked couscous, quinoa, or rice (really any cooked grain/pasta will work)

Swirl a pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, and toss in the tomatoes, sprinkling them with a bit of salt.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes burst easily when pricked with a fork.  Add the can of tuna (do not drain), and cook for another minute. Finally, throw in the spinach (don’t worry, it will wilt quickly) and the couscous and put a lid on the pan.  Let steam for 30 seconds, or until the greens have wilted down a bit.  Stir to mix everything evenly.  Enjoy!