Root Beer Cupcakes with Bourbon Cream Frosting

19 Apr

My husband’s birthday was yesterday.  We won’t talk age.  I told my kids my husband and I are counting backwards now.  They didn’t buy it.

I wanted to make cupcakes for my sweetie.    Originally I wanted to make Guinness cupcakes.  I’ve made them before and they are moist and delicious especially topped with an Irish Cream frosting.  But an idea came to me at the last-minute.  We love drinking bourbon cream and root beer.  Tastes just like a creamy, dreamy root beer float.  Totally delicious, totally dangerous!  You can keep drinking them and before you know it, your mind is “floating”!!!!  So I say to myself “why not turn this into a cupcake?” Thus Root beer cupcakes with Bourbon Cream Frosting is born!!!  The problem was, I was out of the bourbon cream.  This isn’t something sold at the grocery store, I had to make  a special trip to the liquor store.   Can I tell you how embarrassing it is going to get bourbon at noon on a Wednesday with your 3-year-old??  I felt like a made for TV movie.  It just felt so wrong.  When I went to the register to pay, I felt compelled to explain that this was for baking purposes only!  The woman behind the counter didn’t care.  She put my bourbon in a tell-tale brown paper bag and my daughter and I walked off.   But not before I threw in a “let’s go make cupcakes” for good measure!

Root Beer Cupcakes with Bourbon Cream Frosting

1 1/2 cups root beer

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cups cocoa

2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking soda

Bourbon Cream Buttercream

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp Bourbon Cream liquor *

Pre heat oven to 325

Combine root beer and butter in a saucepan, once butter has melted, remove from heat.  In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs and vanilla.  Add to cooled root beer and whisk until combined.  Add in the cocoa and the sugar, mixing well.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and the baking soda.  Add this to your root beer mixture, whisking until flour is incorporated.  Batter will be very runny, but will bake up nicely.  Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full.  I poured my batter into a large Pyrex measuring cup.  This made pouring into my cupcake liners much easier.  Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until your cupcakes spring back when touched.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.

For the buttercream

Combine softened butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl.  Beat until very fluffy, about 10 minutes.  Add in powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add in the salt.  Add in your bourbon cream.  This is something you may have to taste as you go along (darn huh?).  4 tbsp to half of  my buttercream added a subtle flavor.  You may want to add more if you want the bourbon to be more pronounced.  To make this kid friendly, I added about 4 tbsp of root beer to the other half of my buttercream.  Root beer extract would be better, but the soda was just fine.  Mix buttercream until creamy.   Try to save some for the cupcakes!

* Irish Cream could be used instead of Bourbon Cream.  Kahlua would be tasty too!

cupcake portion adapted from Food Network

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Grilled Chicken Sausage with Cream Cheese and Jalapeño Slaw

15 Apr

Summer is in the air. It is sunny today and in the upper 70’s. We are happy. My neighbors are so happy, that they are opening their pool today….on April 15th?? Oh, well, it’ll be their shivering behinds not mine. But I do know where they are coming from. After spring break, we are all just ready. Ready for the pool, warmer weather, and to play outside from morning to dusk. We are ready to catch fireflies, watch butterflies and gaze at the stars. We are just waiting in anticipation for the sound of lawn mowers, sprinklers, and the ice cream truck. Oh the ice cream truck. I do NOT like the ice cream truck, its my dinner time nemesis. Nothing grinds our evening meal to a halt quite like the ice cream truck. Because of course that’s when it comes. I’ll be more specific. We hear the first unmistakable notes of The Entertainer sometime between me telling my daughter to eat with her fork not with her hands and me yelling at my son to stop talking and start eating. This happens almost nightly without fail. It’s uncanny. There’s this slow motion moment where forks pause slightly in mid-air, ears perk up and one of my kids shouts “Ice Cream Truck!!!!”. Now, the truck is several blocks away mind you, but the notes are just the perfect pitch for a child’s sensitive ears. Suddenly it’s chaos. Chairs are turning over, silver ware is rattling, my dog is barking like mad. I’m yelling at everyone to sit back down, but it is futile. They are focused on one thing only. They grab their hard-earned allowance money and run for the curb. And wait. And wait. And wait. Until finally that tinny music coming from those worn out speakers finally approaches. Money and ice cream exchange hands. My children return to the kitchen grinning with satisfaction. Since they are good kids, they promptly put their loot in the freezer and return to their now cold meals. But they eat with a new-found zeal. Victory has made them hungry.

In honor of summer, I decided to get out of the kitchen and grill something easy. I loved this recipe. The cream cheese sounds odd, but it’s a nice contrast to the hot sausage and the spicy slaw. You could certainly omit it if you prefer.

Grilled sausage with jalapeño slaw and cream cheese

1 package chicken sausage ( such as Johnsonville Pork and Chicken Sausage)

2 cups broccoli slaw mix

1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

1 tbs stone ground mustard

2 tbs cider vinegar

3 tbs olive oil

½ tsp salt

pepper

very soft cream cheese

Grill Sausage on a pre heated grill for 15-20. In the last minute of grilling, add your hot dogs buns, to toast.

While sausage is grilling, combine broccoli slaw mix, jalepeno, mustard, vinegar and oil. Add salt and pepper, adjusting the seasoning to your tastes. Stir well. Set aside.

Smear very softened cream cheese onto your toasted hot dog bun. Add sausage and pile on slaw mixture!

Brownie Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips and Marshmallows Bits

12 Apr

Have you ever seen the show Hoarders?  I haven’t seen too many episodes, because at some point it gets difficult to watch.  In most areas of my life, I’m the exact opposite of a hoarder, I’m a chucker.  I can’t get rid of things fast enough.  Just ask my family.  My kids know that if they want anything they’ve created at home or at school to be saved, they must tell me ASAP because I will file it under TRASH as quickly as possible.  Now before you judge me for not being sentimental about my mini Monet’s creations, let me say that I do keep all the truly magnificent pieces of art or school work.  I’m not completely heartless.  I just have a low threshold for crap.  And paper turns into piles of crap very quickly.  Don’t get me started on the newspaper!  My husband barely finishes the newspaper and I’m grabbing it out of his hand and cart-wheeling it to the recycling bin!  This stuff breeds if left untouched.   I like order.  It calms me.  That’s not a sign of a disorder is it?

There is one area of my home, however that is in utter and complete chaos.  My baking pantry.  It is so bad, yesterday I opened the door and two bags of chocolate chips smacked me on the forehead!  I have cake mix boxes galore.  Flour and sugar bags are vying for space.  Brown sugar bags are smooshed in the back.  I have 4 lonely cupcake liners crumpled up in a corner.  There are at least 5 frosting containers, 4 boxes of vanilla pudding ( I don’t even like pudding), several bags of caramels, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine and Easter M & M’s, plus an assortment of holiday candies that  were intended for my kids, but at the last minute I figured they’d be better baking ingredients,  a 7 lb bag of confectioners sugar that is leaking sweet, powdery dust over my countertops every time I get it out, which I have to do often to reach my cocoa powder ( 1 of two containers in my pantry) and finally I have a variety of spreads, and bottles of syrups that have crusted caps and are stuck to the shelves.   So the thought hit me (literally).  I am a baking hoarder.  Gasp!!  Could it be?  I won’t even mention the two dozen boxes of butter in my freezer!!!!  AAAHHH!!  The one consolation is that  if we experience a natural disaster, we could survive for a few days on a version of the Buddy the Elf diet.  If truly necessary, we COULD eat butter sticks.   Yes, my friends, there is only one way for me to dig out of this disorder:  bake, bake and bake some more!!!   I decided to make Brownie Cookies.  Great way to use up some chocolate.  Found a bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips, thought I may as well add those for variety.  Then I found a container of marshmallows bits (which I purchased simply because they were cute) hidden behind my flour.  I thought, what the heck, lets polk- a- dot the cookies with these!  I am supremely happy with the end result.  These are not only tasty, but they carved out a little more room in my pantry.  Which I will promptly fill with more stuff on my next trip to the store.  Once a hoarder, always a hoarder.  Besides, you never know what will be on sale.   And if heaven forbid, a natural disaster should occur in this part of Ohio, like a hurricane or volcano eruption, I will be ready!!

I baked these in whoopie pie pans I had purchased ages ago.  They still had the paper cover on them!  You would still get excellent results making cookies on a sheet pan.

Brownie Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips and Marshmallow Bits

1/2 cup butter

4 oz.(1 oz )  unsweetened chocolate baking squares, chopped

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips

1 cup marshmallow bits (or more if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 350

Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate and chocolate chips in a saucepan.  Melt over low heat stirring often until smooth.  Remove from heat and cool.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl beat eggs and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Slowly add flour mixture. Beat well.  Add in your cooled chocolate and beat until chocolate is well incorporated.  Once it is all combined, stir in the peanut butter chips.

If using a whoopie pie pan, add two scoops (I used two large spoons)of batter into each cavity.  Top each cookie with marshmallow bits.  Feel free to polka dot as you see fit here.  You can also add in the marshmallow bits along with your peanut butter chips if your prefer.  I wanted them sprinkled on top to add contrast.  Complete personal preference.  If you are using a sheet pan, drop dough by 2 tablespoon fulls onto a cookie sheet.  Leave room, these will spread.  Bake in whoopee pie pan for 11-12 minutes.  On a sheet pan, bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool in pan or on baking sheet for a minute or two.  Then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Adapted From My Recipes

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