Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gingerbread whoopie pies with maple buttercream


Okay, I admit I've been a bit of a tease. I showed you a picture of these whoopie pies almost two weeks ago, but I've been holding off giving you the recipe. I figured I'd make you read about some veggie recipes first =). But I think you've waited long enough - these whoopie pies are super delicious, and it's time to share the recipe.

This recipe came from a whoopie pie cookbook that a friend of mine got me for my bachelorette know, to make sure that I'd be "making whoopie" plenty in my married life ;). Hehe...okay, sorry about that. Anyway, it's a great little cookbook, with a whole bunch of recipes for cakes and fillings that you can mix and match. I've made a few different versions, but I think this gingerbread/maple version might be the best.

Now, these whoopie pies are total sugar bombs. There is absolutely nothing nutritionally redeeming about them, but the indulgence is definitely worth it. Share these with some friends or coworkers, and you'll make everyone's day!

Have you ever made whoopie pies? What is your favorite flavor combination?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Italian stuffed mushrooms


Stuffed mushrooms were one of my family's favorite appetizers to serve at parties when I was younger. In fact, stuffed mushrooms was one of the first recipes I really learned to make on my own. So when I was coming up with recipes for my party last weekend, stuffed mushrooms seemed like a perfect choice, especially since many of the guests were vegetarian. I was also glad to have this vegetable-centered dish in the mix along with the selections that involved bread/dough/crackers. When I started searching for a recipe, this Italian stuffed mushrooms recipe on  Epicurious really stood out - it had great reviews, and with fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and basil, I knew it would be full of flavor. Now, there's a fair amount of chopping and grating involved in this recipe, so it isn't something you want to be doing at the last minute before a party. But luckily, you can make the filling and even stuff the mushrooms ahead of time, so all you have to do is pop them in the oven at party o'clock!

Italian stuffed mushrooms
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes about 24 mushrooms

Olive oil
24 oz. white button mushrooms, stems removed and chopped, caps reserved
1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb
1/4 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely grated Fontina cheese 
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten

Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 deg F. Heat a splash of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom stems, fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. Saute until vegetables are tender and much of the water has evaporated from the mushrooms, about 12 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl and cool for 10 minutes. Stir in grated cheese and basil, and then season filling to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in beaten egg. Mound filling into mushroom caps and place caps in a baking dish (filling side up). Bake until mushrooms are tender, about 25 minutes, and serve immediately.

Note: filling mixture can be made and mushrooms can be stuffed up to one day ahead of baking. Store prepared mushrooms in a covered container in the fridge until ready to bake.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chocolate-whiskey cake


I'm excited to finally tell you about one of my absolute favorite cakes! I first made this cake over two years ago for a dinner party - I came across the recipe in Gourmet Today and decided to try it simply because, well, how can you turn down chocolate + booze for dessert? It was a major hit with my friends - perfectly moist and chocolatey, with just enough whiskey flavor to elevate the cake to a level of sophistication that you don't usually find in chocolate cake. And if the deliciousness of the cake wasn't enough to convince you to try it, it's actually quite straightforward to make and improves if made ahead of time! It is the perfect choice if you are looking for a simple but impressive dessert to serve to guests (but if you eat it all yourself, I wouldn't blame you).


What is your go-to dessert for guests?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Three party dips

Thank you for the nice comments on my last post! My mom and I cooked like crazy for the celebration party that we threw last night. We both love cooking, so we had a lot of fun with the preparations. All the food came out great, and the party was wonderful! Here are some photos of the spread:


Clockwise from the top left: blue cheese tart, butternut squash and apple bruschetta, zucchini and goat cheese rolls with raisins and pistachios, Italian stuffed mushrooms. The bruschetta recipe can be found here on Tri to Cook, and the zucchini rolls recipe can be found here on Cara's Cravings.


On the dessert table, we had monster cookies (peanut butter oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and M&Ms), chocolate-whiskey cake, gingerbread whoopie pies with maple buttercream, and cranberry pecan caramel bars.


We also made three dips that we served with pita chips and veggies. We had roasted red pepper and eggplant dip, Persian yogurt and spinach dip, and herbed lima bean hummus. I promised to tell you about all the party recipes, and I'm going to start with these dips. I've already posted the roasted red pepper and eggplant dip recipe, so you can check that out if you want. The lima bean dip is a great twist on traditional chickpea hummus, and is super flavorful due to garlic, cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, and cumin. The spinach and yogurt dip is creamy and delicious, and went especially well with the veggies. The three dips all had unique and distinct flavors but still complemented each other very well. Well, without further delay, here are the recipes!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Some news + a party menu

Those of you who are regular readers know that I've been very busy these last several weeks finishing up my Ph.D. thesis. Well, I am very happy to announce that I successfully passed my thesis defense yesterday, which officially makes me Dr. Paradise! Thanks for sticking with me through this period of rather low posting frequency - I can't wait to get back to cooking and blogging now that I have more free time!

I am having a party at my apartment this weekend to celebrate completing my Ph.D., and as you might imagine, I've planned an extensive menu. It's going to be all hors d'oevres and dessert, including some recipes by local Boston bloggers. Here's what is on the list (I'll be posting all the recipes over the next couple weeks):

Recipes have been posted and links added so you can easily find the recipes.

Zucchini and goat cheese rollatini with raisins and pistachios (from Cara's Cravings)
Italian stuffed mushrooms
Butternut squash and apple bruschetta (from Tri to Cook)
Pizza monkey bread (from Healthy and Sane and Confections of  Foodie Bride)
Gorgonzola tart with honeyed tomato butter
Pumpernickel toasts with cream cheese and smoked salmon
Spiced pecans with rum glaze


Chocolate-whiskey bundt cake
Gingerbread whoopie pies with maple buttercream
Monster cookies (peanut butter oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and M&Ms)
Cranberry pecan caramel bars

My mom and I cooked several of the recipes today, and the cooking will continue until Saturday evening! I couldn't be happier right now =).

What are your favorite party recipes?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Moroccan ragout with poached eggs


When I saw this recipe highlighted on Food52, I knew that I had to make it soon and I knew it was going to be amazing. Sausage and tomato sauce with Moroccan spices and poached eggs? Yes please. I changed the recipe a bit, reducing the amount of oil, using Spanish chorizo instead of merguez sausage, and substituting potatoes for half the sausage. It really was fantastic - we gobbled up half of it for dinner on Saturday night and the leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. And I might have eaten the last remaining bit for breakfast today. This is one of those standout dishes that I'd happily eat for every meal of the day - I already can't wait to make it again!