Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cheesy Garlic Bread

When I'm at a restaurant, I'm the type of person who gets more excited over appetizers than the main course itself. Especially at Italian restaurants, the appetizers are so delicious and flavorful, you can satisfy your entire appetite before you even get past the first page of the menu. One of my all time favorite appetizers is garlic bread! Most places have the right idea; Italian bread plus olive oil plus garlic. And other places...not so much. It's actually kind of fun to go to different restaurants and try their own unique twist on this classic.
This particular garlic bread recipe comes from Laura Vitale and it is the BEST I've ever had. It combines all the ingredients that make the perfect garlic bread and I don't think I will ever come across another version that tops this. Best of all, it's so easy to make at home! The only downside is that you really have to develop some sort of self control to stop yourself from having it 7 days a week.

Let's begin!!


  • 1 loaf of Italian Bread (I also like ciabbata)
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley (rinsed)
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
In a small food processor, combine parsley, garlic, and olive oil. Puree until smooth

Slice the loaf of bread in half so that it opens up and lays flat. Lay the bread on a sheet of foil on a baking pan. Spread olive oil-parsley mixture equally on both halves

Put the two halves back on top of one another and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes

Remove from oven, unwrap and sprinkle both sides with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Feel free to add as much or as little cheese as you desire! Place back in oven (leave them flat like this) and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown

Tip: As delicious as these are by themselves, you can also pair them with a side of marinara sauce


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Can someone answer a simple question for me? Why do die-hard sports fans get so offended when a less knowledgeable fan decides to root for their favorite team? Are people not allowed to change their mind about certain players or teams? Or does it not count if they haven't been a loyal fan since the start? I seriously don't get it, but it's obviously important enough for people to argue over nonstop. Even though I don't know much about sports, I do know one thing. You never want to be that guy (or girl) who gets called out for being on...dun dun dun...the bandwagon. From my observations, this is probably the biggest insult from one fan to another. It kind of reminds me of middle school when kids were called "posers" for liking certain bands or wearing certain does that term still exist these days??

But bandwagons don't end in sports. There has been a slew of bandwaggoning in the world of cupcakes lately. Ever since cupcakes started becoming popular a few years ago, there has been one flavor that always tops the charts and beats out the rest. RED. VELVET. This is my favorite cupcake flavor and it's always the one bakeries take most pride in.

If I'm not mistaken, red velvet cake is something that originated in the South during the Great Depression. Today, it's sold all across the country in cake, cupcake, and cookie form. It gets its "velvet" name from the texture and consistency of the cake itself. And the red only comes from the food coloring.  If done right, a red velvet cake should be extremely moist and fluffy because of the butter, creams, and buttermilk.

So if this is what bandwagons are like, then I guess they're are not such a bad thing after all. I'll proudly stay on the fluffy red velvet bandwagon until I find reason to jump onto a new one!

Let's begin!

Batter (yields 36 medium-sized cupcakes) 
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  •  1/2 cup buttermilk (or 2 Tablespoons dry buttermilk in 1/2 cup water)
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1oz red food coloring
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 8oz cream cheese, cold
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside

Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla extract

After everything is combined, add the entire 1oz food coloring
Tip: The red food coloring will stain your hands and clothes so be very careful when adding

Add in the dry flour mixture, about a 1/2 cup at a time, and mix on low speed until everything is combined

Line a 12-cupcake pan with cupcake liners and scoop batter in, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean

Cool in pans for 5 minutes and remove to cool completely on cooling racks (takes about an hour). In the meantime, prepare cream cheese frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat together butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
Slowly add powdered sugar and mix until smooth

Tip: Do not frost cupcakes until they are COMPLETELY cool otherwise the frosting will melt off. What I like to do is put the frosting in the fridge for an hour (or until the cupcakes are cool) so it can become a little firm.

Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Tip: You can easily frost and make swirls by adding frosting to a ziploc bag and cutting a tiny hole in one of the corners.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you know what makes me a little sad? The fact that I haven't dressed up for Halloween in nearly 10 years. For the past decade, my Halloween has been: get really excited that it's almost Halloween, think about a costume, never decide on a costume, stay home and watch Hocus Pocus. In that order. Every. Single. Year.
But it wasn't always like this. I used to dress up and go trick-or-treating all the time! I loved dressing up in cheap thrift store costumes, dousing my face with silver glitter, and going from house to house collecting candy.  Maybe the reason I don't do that anymore is because the definition of Halloween has changed a little for people my age. I mean, I think it would be a little socially frowned upon for a 20something-year-old to mix in with the kiddos and go door to door yelling, "trickortreeeeaaat!" (even though I think I can probably pull it off). Or maybe I'm just not hanging out with the right people? These days, all the cool kids usually dress up in something outrageous and go to cool-kid house parties or gallivant around WeHo.
What am I doing with my life?

Sometimes I wish it were Halloween season all year long. I love the Fall. The weather, the decorations, the mood, everything. But since it can't be October all the time, I settle for making these cookies at least once a month. Whoever thought to combine pumpkin and chocolate chips was a genius. Every time I take these to work, they are gone within a matter of hours and I'm constantly getting requests to make more.
This recipe comes from George Duran at Food Network.

Let's begin!!

Ingredients: (Makes over 35 cookies)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 12oz bag (2 cups) milk chocolate chips (don't use semisweet)
  • Parchment paper
First, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Tip: Do not use wax paper or IT WILL burn.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
 Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth

Slowly add the sugars to the butter and mix until the mixture is light and fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time, and mix some more

Mix in pumpkin puree and vanilla extract

Add the flour mixture to the batter, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until everything is combined

 Using a spoon, stir in chocolate chips.  Scoop one tablespoon of dough onto a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 15-20 minutes

 Try them yourself and share with friends!