Buffalo Chicken Cups

January 29, 2013

My Other Half and I went on a buffalo chicken binge recently. We made my delicious Buffalo Chicken Dip, these low-calorie buffalo chicken rolls and finally, these adorable Buffalo Chicken Cups as an appetizer at a dinner party we hosted.

I found the recipe for the latter on one of my very favourite blogs, The Girl Who Ate Everything. We seem to have similar tastes because everything she makes looks mouth-wateringly good to me! I really look forward to her new posts and just love her food photography. I wish my photos were that good! Anyway, if you haven’t already, check her out!

I just love this cupcake-style take on one of my favourite dips. Such a great football snack!

Buffalo Chicken Cups
Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

½ (4 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Ranch dressing
1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
18 wonton wrappers
Blue cheese crumbles (optional)

Mix cream cheese, ranch, sauce, chicken and half of the cheddar cheese. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Place one wonton wrapper in each of six cupcake holes. Press it in to take shape. Spoon a tablespoon of the chicken mixture and top with another wonton wrapper and add another tablespoon of chicken mixture. Do this until there are three wonton wrappers in each cupcake, ending with filling on top. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese and blue cheese (if using it). Bake for 18 minutes at 375 degrees or until edges are golden brown. If the wonton wrappers are burning, cover with tinfoil. Use a knife to loosen the edges and pop each cupcake out.

If you haven’t noticed, the filling is  practically identical to my Buffalo Chicken Dip. I would love to try these using a mini-cupcake pan! They’d be super cute as an hors d’oeuvre!

Remember last fall, when I posted about the best Oreo cupcakes ever?

Well, the famous cupcakes are back and better than ever! This time, with a seasonal twist.

Introducing the new, delicious and irresistible summertime favourite…

Chocolate & Berry Buttercream Cupcakes.

Perfection.

Just a reminder, but the cake recipe is dairy and egg-free (which means vegan, I think).

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Canadian Living

3 all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp cider vinegar

No mixer required! In a big bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk in water, oil, vanilla and vinegar. Spoon into paper-lined or greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean – about 24 minutes.

Berry Buttercream Icing
Adapted from Canadian Living

3/4 cup butter
3 cups icing sugar
1/8 cup whipping cream (or milk)
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup blackberry jam (or use 1/8 cup seedless raspberry jam and 1/8 blackberry jam, like I did)

Beat butter until smooth and then gradually add icing sugar and then cream. Beat in vanilla. Gently stir in blackberry jam.

This recipe can easily be used with other types of jam – but beware of seeds! They’re not nice in icing. These were a big hit at our most recent book club meeting – they were all gone! The only problem is the icing can get running when warm… so keep these babies in the fridge as long as you can!

Clearly you’ve noticed that the latest and greatest food fad is cupcakes. They seem to be everywhere I go. There are TV shows just about cupcakes. Cupcake shops are popping up on every corner. People are substituting cupcakes for a real cake at their wedding. Even my friends are making them. And the more intricate and detailed they are, the better.

Delicious Oreo cupcakes!

Ironically enough, this post is about fabulous cupcakes, but I have never been a big cake person. Maybe it’s because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. For my birthdays, I always wanted cheesecake or ice cream cake, and I still feel that way. Actually, you can skip the cake all together and just give me Thai food. And lots of red wine. (Also, my birthday just so happens to be in 5 days.)

I have been, admittedly, somewhat enchanted by this whole cupcake phenomenon. Exactly a year ago for my birthday, my Long Lost Friend make me the most incredible cupcakes I have ever seen – totally edible, looked like a TV dinner! She got the recipe from the book Hello Cupcake! (which my friend and fellow blogger Una Lounder has to trade, by the way).

Then, my fellow j-schooler and friend Hilary Duff posted this incredible Oreo cupcake recipe on her blog. I absolutely loved the whole Oero cookie in the bottom, and Oreos are my favourite store-bought cookie. And Dairy Queen Blizzard flavour too.

That was almost a year ago though, and I pretty much forgot about the recipe. And then can you guess what happened???

Yup, the obvious. Canadian Living came out with its own rendition of an Oreo cupcake recipe. And I was – predictably – sold.

I guess the decision between Hilary’s recipe and the Canadian Living recipe wasn’t really that easy. So I listed the benefits of each recipe:

Hilary’s recipe – cream cheese icing, a whole Oreo in the bottom, chunks of Oreo. throughout the cupcake Canadian Living’s recipe – chocolate cake, generally prettier to look at.

I ended up deciding to semi-merge the recipes. Sort of. Actually, I just made the Canadian Living recipe but put a whole Oreo in the base of each cupcake. That was the most important part, I felt. I was also fascinated by the Canadian Living recipe because the cake part is dairy-free. I had never baked anything without eggs before, so this intrigued me. And I wasn’t quite sure it would work.  I was prepared for the challenge.

Well… I don’t know how else to say this. The cupcakes were probably the best I’ve ever had. And I know that’s saying a lot, especially since I don’t like cake. But these were unreal. I couldn’t stop eating them! They were so moist and delicious – everyone who tried them agreed. The icing was the best non-cream cheese icing I’ve ever tasted. And the cookie in the base… well, it’s basically the best surprise ever.

Now, I did forget to put the chunks of Oreo in the icing, but it didn’t make a difference. I took a dozen of these cupcakes to book club for De’s birthday and another half dozen for a potluck at work. They were GONE! A huge hit and an absolute must-make recipe.

Oreo Cupcakes
Adapted from Canadian Living
Makes 24

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp cider vinegar
24 Oreos, for the bases (optional)
6 Oreos, quartered (for garnish)
Crushed Oreos (for garnish – optional)

Icing
1 cup butter
4 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk in water, oil
and vanilla. Stir in vinegar. Place one Oreo cookie into the base of 24
paper-lined muffin cups. Pour cupcake batter over top. Bake in 350 degrees until
cake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to rack and let
cool completely. Beat together butter, icing sugar, cream and vanilla until
fluffy. Spread on cupcakes and garnish each with a quarter Oreo.

I can’t stop raving about these cupcakes. I think I know why they’re so good – they’re incredibly unhealthy. But they are dairy-free. And they are mouth-watering. So please – try them!!! You won’t regret it, I promise!

I have always been a bit of an organizational nut.

When I was little, I used to library-catalogue all my books. I put stickers on them with numbers and had a register and everything. I would colour-coordinate my drawers, re-name all my pirated songs I downloaded, made sure I had all the same types of hangers in my closet… I wanted everything to be just right, and normally that meant symmetrical, uniform and keenly organized.

This got worse when I headed to the Grammar School, where I had to juggle way too many extra-curricular activities and a really demanding work load. I had homework deadlines, texts, exams – all of which I had to prepare for while working around Girl Guides, dance classes, church stuff, soccer games, musical rehearsals, voice lessons and at one point, track & field and basketball.

Barbie cupcakes for Sian's birthday!

I found the only way to stay on top of everything was to keep a details agenda. Our schools gave them out on the first day of classes every year and I made good use of them – to the point where I couldn’t function without it by my side. In fact, I often had bad dreams about losing it and feeling like my entire life was falling apart. My friends were like that too – you just had to be obsessively organized if you were a Grammar School student (let alone an International Baccalaureate student) who had goals to achieve.

This trend continued throughout university and ended up being a skill I was grateful to have. In the workplace it’s also been an asset. Some people find it a little weird (like My Other Half) when I re-arrange my spices and toiletries 3 or 4 times a month, but hey… it keeps me sane!

Naturally I also like planning and organizing events. Surprises, dinner parties, house parties, vacations, holidays… even my book club and soccer team. In addition, it really makes me happy to spoil the people I love. Hand-in-hand, those two qualities equal amazing surprise parties for my friends and family!

I decided to target my dear friend Sian (referred to as Xi’an in this post). We’re in a pretty similar boat – both have settled down in Ottawa as adults, but most people from our university days has moved away. We both complain about how we don’t have any friends (when in reality we probably have plenty), so I wanted to show her that she does have friends and lots of people who love her and think she’s fantastic in Ottawa.

I contacted her boyfriend, who is another one of my very favourite people, and we divulged a plan to surprise her and invited all necessary people. She thought she was being taken on a romantic birthday date alone with him when suddenly – SURPRISE! – 15 of her closest friends were there!

Sian's new Oprah cook book

Here’s where the cooking aspect comes in: I made confetti cupcakes! They were Barbie pink and said “WE LOVE SIAN”… totally perfect for the occasion. Her reaction was so cute – genuinely surprised and humbled by all the love around her.

So, if you need someone to organize something – anything – I’m your girl. Especially if it’s a type of party or surprise or get-together. And if you’re lucky, really really lucky, you’ll get Barbie cupcakes too.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIAN!

Festive Christmas baking!

December 13, 2010

Maybe it’s my roommate’s wonderful decorations, maybe it’s because I play Christmas music all day every day at home, and maybe it’s the chilly weather, but one thing’s for certain: I am feeling more festive this year than ever before!

The perfect sugar cookie

In true Christmas spirit – and like any good domestic – I took this festive feeling to the kitchen. With three parties in three days, I decided to go on a bit of a Christmas baking rampage. The result was delicious, but extremely messy. It left my couches covered in cooling baked goods and my sink and counter piled high with things to be washed.

I cut a lot of corners. I used store-bought cupcake mix, for example. Why? My theory is that drunk people don’t care if you made it from scratch. So why bother? Saves time and definitely save money.

Here’s what I made:

Chocolate Cupcakes with festive icing and edible decorations
Peanut Butter Balls (at My Other Half’s request)
Sugar Cookies, also with Christmas detailing
Christmas Rice Crispy Squares and Candy Canes

Crushed Candy Canes on my cupcakes

There’s really not much as far as recipes go for these, because they’re self explanatory or the mixes were store-bought. You can get the Rice Crispy Squares recipe on the inside of the box, and I recommend a trip to the Bulk Barn for all other festive needs. Here’s the Peanut Butter Balls recipe, though, which was awesome and also used Rice Crispies.

My Other Half helped a lot with the cupcakes, which were a blast to make together. The key? Getting really awesome food colouring and not being afraid to use it. It was the same brand I used for my Halloween cupcakes too.

Another note: don’t bring cupcakes to parties where people are drinking. No one will eat them. Drunks prefer salty snack foods, like dips and chips. Thankfully I learned this at the first of my three parties and kindly gave the rest of the cupcakes to a house full of boys that I know. No doubt they devoured them, or at least picked at them.

I love the holidays! And I can’t wait to get home to be with my crazy and wonderful family. Merry Christmas, and remember: Jesus is the reason for the season!

I’ve mentioned my time at the Rose & Kettle Tearoom before, and explained that my domestic life really started there. One of the things we always sold by the cash register was a variety of fudge – chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla, maple. We’d make a new fudge every week or so and snack on it as the week went by. Understandably, I learned how to make it and got pretty adventurous. I made peanut butter fudge, fudge with nuts, mint chocolate fudge… it was a terrific place to work, as you can see.

Vanilla fudge

One night recently I had a craving for it. I whipped it up and quickly discovered that my sweet tooth has drastically changed since I was 14 years old – I didn’t remember my fudge being that sweet, especially since I used to eat a lot of it while working at the Tearoom. It’d delicious, but sweet stuff it just not up my alley these days. However, if you love sweet things like fudge, this is an easy recipe (I suggest cutting the recipe in half because you end up with a whole 9×9 pan of it, and even at a party it’ll never all get consumed).

Julia’s Easy Fudge

4 tbsps of evaporated milk
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup margarine
4 cups icing sugar

Mix first three ingredients on medium heat until bubbles form across top. Add four cups of icing sugar once off the stove. Mix until little white lumps are completely gone. Add flavour if desired – tsp of vanilla extract, peppermint extract, cocoa powder, coconut, nuts (1/2 cup for peanut butter or cocoa). Pack into greased 9×9 pan and refrigerate. Cut.

It drives me nuts just how much sugar is in this recipe, but that’s exactly what fudge is, unfortunately.

Delicious Halloween cupcakes!

I failed to mention the beautiful two dozen cupcakes I made for my Halloween birthday party… I had a vision and they turned out great. Chocolate cupcakes with bright orange icing and Halloween sprinkles (complete with little pumpkins). They were a hit! Minus the fact that I am still finding orange icing around my house… Aren’t they pretty? Cupcakes are all the rage!

Oh, and for those of you who were waiting on it, the Green Curry recipe is now posted here.

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