Monthly Archives

August 2010

Breakfast Enchiladas

August 30, 2010

Oh goodness gracious, what a weekend!  A weekend that was about ten steps away from what I had planned. For more details on that and a little lesson in getting up and brushing yourself off visit the Kitchen Confidential tab above, where I’ll be blogging food musings every now and again of the off-the-record variety.

Aside from the things that can’t be counted on, like when you stack cake on top of cake on top of cake, there are a few things that can be counted on. Good food tops that list, and boy did J. and I eat well all weekend.

We stuffed ourselves full at Pita Pit on Saturday afternoon, followed by a late dinner that night at Azalea where I ate the most delicious portobello mushroom fries. There was also lunch at Macaroni Grill and lazy Sunday morning breakfast that consisted of these Breakfast Enchiladas with a few too many cups of dark roast Starbucks coffee.

Most of the time my cooking inspiration comes from magazines, blogs, and cookbooks. But the enchiladas were all J.’s idea. When asked what he wanted for breakfast, he said breakfast burritos with eggs and salsa, which I turned into enchiladas with sharp cheddar cheese and avocados. Couples collaboration at its best. Simple, quick, delicious.

Breakfast Enchiladas
(Printable Recipe)

*8 large eggs
*1/3 cup milk
*1/2 tsp. taco seasoning
*1/8 tsp. black pepper
*4 large flour tortillas 
*6 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
*3/4 cup jarred salsa
*2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 12×12-inch casserole dish. Set aside. 
*In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, taco seasoning and black pepper. Pour into a nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until eggs are soft-scrambled. Remove from heat.
*Place 1/4 cup of the shredded white cheddar cheese in the center of each of the four tortillas. Evenly divide egg mixture among the four tortillas, placing the eggs atop the cheese. Roll up each tortilla, folding in the sides to prevent the mixture from spilling out, and arrange in the greased baking dish.
*Top enchiladas with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and the salsa. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn oven to broil and continue to cook for 5 minutes more.
*Remove enchiladas from the oven and top with chopped avocados just before serving.

Happy Cooking!


Video Tutorial: Marzipan Flowers

August 26, 2010

Today Espresso and Cream is getting a tech-savy update with the addition of my first video tutorial on how to make marzipan flowers, like the ones pictured on these cupcakes.

I’ve been planning on doing a series of videos for the site as long as I’ve been blogging. Planning being the key word. Despite my good intentions, for some reason I’ve avoided filming any tutorials every time I’ve considered doing so. I’ll blame it on bad hair days. But from now on, heck with bad hair days. The videos will continue to roll out. Bear with me as I learn more about how this whole make-your-own-video stuff works.

Do any of you have suggestions on what you would like to see made in to a video tutorial? If you do, send ’em my way!

Basic Marzipan
(Printable Recipe)

*7 oz. almond paste
*1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
*1 Tbsp. corn syrup (some readers have said they have found the mixture too sticky. Depending on the type of almond paste you use, the corn syrup might not be necessary. Start without it, then add it in if necessary)
Food coloring (if desired)

*In a large bowl, knead all the ingredients together until well combined. Form into desired shapes.
*To store, keep in a zip top bag until ready to use.

Happy Baking!


Strongbow Hard Cider Cupcakes

August 24, 2010

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a passionate beer drinker. In fact, I’m not much for alcohol in general, and when J. and I sit down to have a drink, a half glass of anything is enough to satisfy my tastes.

What I am is a Strongbow drinker.

Strongbow, as in the English hard cider, my favorite alcoholic beverage, and pretty much the only drink I ever really have a craving for. It’s crisp, and bubbly, and slightly sweet. Just sweet enough, I reasoned, to put it into a cupcake. Playing up the apple notes of this cider, I peppered these cupcakes with a bit of ground cinnamon and apple jelly.

And in case you weren’t temped already, I gave you chocolate, too. Apples and chocolate? Heck, why not? I’m already made a cupcake based on something from a beer bottle for goodness sake. The time to be risky, if there ever was one, is now.

I know that questions will come in about how that little flower was made. It’s an edible marzipan flower and it’s super easy to make. So easy, that I think a tutorial is in order. More details to come! Until then, bake some cupcakes and bide your time.

Strongbow Hard Cider Cupcakes 

(Printable Recipe)
*1 stick butter
*1 cup granulated sugar
*2 large eggs
*1/4 cup apple jelly 
*1 tsp. vanilla extract 
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
*2/3 cup all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup hard cider (such as Strongbow)
*3/4 cup self-rising flour 
*2 sticks butter
*2 cups powdered sugar
*1 tsp. vanilla extract 
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/4 cup cocoa powder
*1 Tbsp. milk, if needed 
*Shaved coconut (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Set aside. 
*With an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add in sugar, then eggs one at a time, and beat until well combined. Add in apple jelly, vanilla, and cinnamon and beat until just combined. 
*Beat in all-purpose flour until just combined. Beat in the hard cider, followed by the self-rising flour. Spoon batter into muffin cups, about half full. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire rack.

*Meanwhile, prepare frosting. Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Beat until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the extra tablespoon of milk, if needed.
*Top cupcakes with icing and shaved coconut, if desired.
*I also topped my cupcakes with homemade sugar flowers. Tutorial to come! 🙂

Happy Baking!



Healthy Eating While Traveling

August 23, 2010

I don’t know about you all but I’m in a bit of a crazy place right now. After a three day trip to Florida for work, I returned to Des Moines, only to turn around and head out to Illinois for a weekend at J.’s apartment. The weekend was lovely and relaxing. I didn’t think about work or the number of things on my to-do list, but now I have six bags of flour, ten bags of powdered sugar, and five bags of sugar in my car that need to be brought upstairs and a cake baking in the oven at 10:45 on a Sunday night. Cake for a wedding this weekend. Cake, cake, and more cake. I’ll let you know when I see the end of the cake-baking tunnel.

With that said let’s talk strategies for healthy eating while traveling, shall we?

Most of the time I feel pretty darn good about the food choices I make while in the air or on the road, but there are other times nothing short of dismal. You know those trips where you never get hungry because you just keep eating? Ugh. I absolutely hate that feeling, so I’ve made it a point to try and avoid it at all costs.

And while traveling this past week I was reminded of how easy it’s become to make healthy choices. Here are a few of my favorite tips, places, and choices for eating on the go.

Breakfast I can’t stress enough how important it is to eat a healthy, balanced breakfast every day. It sets the tone for your eating choices throughout the rest of the day and gets your metabolism started from the get go. Breakfast is probably the easiest meal to eat while traveling, too. My go-to travel breakfast joint is Starbucks. Avoid the high-calorie drinks and breakfast pastries and stick with a tall skim or soy milk Misto (part coffee, part steamed milk) and an oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts. 

Lunch This past weekend, Starbucks came to the rescue for me, too. I picked up one of their veggie/pita/hummus plates, which clocks in at around 280 calories, and paired it with an iced skim latte. Starbucks aside, magazine stands and convenient stores are a great place to pick up a healthy lunch. Most carry some type of protein bar, but choose wisely to avoid consuming a candy bar in disguise. Out of those that are readily available, my faves are Cliff and Luna bars. Pair them with a piece of fruit or a V8 vegetable juice and a water and you have a fulfilling, complete lunch.

Dinner Sometimes dinner should be a guilt-free indulgence, but multiple days of travel-induced indulgence can leave to a bit of food regret later on. To avoid over-eating, start with a light, broth-based soup or a salad with the dressing on the side. And when it comes time to order your entree, load up on the veggies (ask for the butter on the side) first, then add in a small serving of grilled fish or chicken breast and a carbohydrate like black beans or brown rice. And if sweet potatoes are on the menu I order one with butter on the side and load it up with broccoli for a filling, fiber-rich meal.

Think Ahead More often than not, travel is unpredictable. Options are sparse in many small airports, and convenient stores choices are unpredictable at best. To avoid cravings and unhealthy food choices when blood sugar levels start to plummet, take a stash of options with you in your purse or suitcase. Lara Bars are one of my favorite healthy choices for travel. Or, take along a few servings worth of almonds and dried fruit.

Be back soon with more cake-craziness updates and a lot more tasty food. Until then, I’m off to catch some shut-eye because heaven knows I’m going to need it this week!

Happy Cooking!


Candied Almonds

August 19, 2010

Greetings from Florida! No, I’m not posting from a beach. In fact, I’m posting from a hotel room while preparing for a full day of work tomorrow. But not to worry, I took a few photos before I left this morning of a recipe I’ve been dying to share with you all.

Although I hope there are plenty of other good reasons why J. enjoys dating me, I think there is one thing that definitely tops the ‘cool’ list. When we first started dating, the concept that he could pick out a food he enjoys and ask me if I can figure out how to make it. Some of the items on this list?

*Texas Roadhouse Rolls with Cinnamon Butter
*Homemade Salted Nut Rolls
*Candied Almonds
*Green Goddess Salad Dressing

You can best believe you will see all these recipes on the pages of Espresso and Cream eventually, but today we are here to talk candied almonds. When J. traveled to Europe in January to study WWII history, he ate a lot of really awesome food. Awesome food like candied almonds sold on the street, sold in paper cones, just begging to be consumed.

Turns out, they are super easy to make, too! Give them a try, the recipe only requires four ingredients and has one step in the instructions. Doesn’t get much easier than that! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get some shut eye before my busy day! 

Candied Almonds
Courtesy of All Recipes 

*1/2 cup water
*1 cup sugar
*1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
*2 cups whole almonds

1. Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds. Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Separate almonds using forks. Allow to cool about 15 minutes. 
*Note: Make sure all the liquid completely evaporates. It will start to be slightly grainy and sand-like in texture and stick to the almonds when all the liquid is evaporated. 

Happy Cooking!