Friday, November 11, 2011

5-Ingredient Pumpkin Cupcakes

There are times when pumpkin cupcakes from scratch are in order, but there are other times measuring flour, sugar and spices holds little appeal. This is a recipe my friend Courtney shared with me three years ago, and it changed my life. Every time I take these cupcakes somewhere, I'm asked for the recipe and/or the leftovers. Today I went to my grandmother's house to bake with her, and this recipe was perfect. Grandmother was excited to find another treat she can share with people this fall.

5-Ingredient Pumpkin Cupcakes

- 1 box spice cake mix
- 1 can pumpkin (16 oz.)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1/3 cup water
- Cream cheese icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix everything (not the icing, of course) in a large bowl, and scoop into muffin liners.
Bake 18-22 minutes for standard size / Bake 12-15 minutes for 2-bite size

Yield 24 standard cupcakes

If you can take your eyes off my adorable grandmother, take a look at the Muffin Pan. This is no typical metal pan you'll find in stores. No, it's heavy duty for even heat distribution and perfect results. I prefer the Stoneware Muffin Pan, but this is nice and lightweight for Grandmother.

Check out the Smooth-Edge Can Opener! The lid is off the can, the edges are smooth, and there's no mess. Eggs and a Classic Scraper are hanging out in a Stainless Mixing Bowl.

The Easy Read Measuring Cups are one of Grandmother's favorite products because she can leave them on the counter while she pours ingredients, and she can read them easily thanks to the slanted measurements.

Grandmother is 83 years old (she doesn't mind me telling you), but she still loves to learn new shortcuts in the kitchen. She was thrilled with the Large Scoop for filling liners. This works for consistent cupcake sizes, but it's also great for preventing drips. Plus, in the words of Grandmother, "It's just fun to use!"

Then Grandmother and I used 2-bite size liners on a Cookie Sheet, and we (she) filled them using the Medium Scoop. We got 15 standard cupcakes and 24 2-bite cupcakes from this recipe!

I iced cupcakes while Grandmother added the recipe to her collection. The Stackable Cooling Rack I'm using is another of Grandmother's favorite items. She uses it every time she cooks, which I think is daily.

After finishing and cleaning, Grandmother and I sat down to enjoy our work. I wish I could tell you I ate my cupcake with a fork like a true lady, but that would be a lie. Do I get points for taking multiple bites instead of shoving the whole thing in my mouth?

Make these cupcakes when you have time because they're fabulous. If you don't have time, make it, and then make these cupcakes. There will be no regrets.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Buttermilk Pecan Crusted Chicken

Awkward top picture, right? I mean, it's a bunch of cooked chicken on a Rectangle Stone with a Digital Pocket Thermometer sticking out of it. Not the best food photography ever, but I've got to admit I took the lazy way out here. Rather than plate the final product properly for a photo session, I decided to just eat it. I'm not sorry.

This is a simple, healthy recipe that's good enough to serve guests yet straightforward enough to throw together for Thursday lunch. If you have chicken breasts, buttermilk, pecans, and panko, happiness is at your fingertips. Here's how to grab hold.

Buttermilk Pecan Crusted Chicken

- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup panko
- 1/2 cup pecans
- Salt and pepper to taste

Flatten chicken breasts to about 1/2-inch thickness, and marinate them in buttermilk for one hour. While chicken marinates, finely crush panko and pecans; stir together. (Panko = Japanese bread crumbs, in case you didn't know.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove chicken from buttermilk, shaking off excess. Dredge in pecan mixture, and place on stoneware. Bake 25-30 minutes or until chicken reaches 160 degrees. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Recipes that involve flattening meat intimidate most novice cooks, but let me put your mind at ease. The Meat Tenderizer makes it super simple, and it only takes a minute. The base is reversible with one side for tenderizing and the other for flattening. I trimmed the chicken with a 5" Santoku Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection, and then I spread it on the Large Cutting Board for pounding.

The outside coating really can't be any simpler. Pecans. Panko. Done. My chicken is marinating in a Small Batter Bowl (notice the lid), and the pecan mixture is about to happen in a Cake Pan. Panko is measured into an Easy Read Measuring Cup, and pecans are in a rip-off bag that says 1/2 cup but only contains 1/3 cup. Scroll down for Food Chopper action.

Ok, this is a must-have in every kitchen. The Food Chopper can be used with the base (as I did here) or without it, and it comes apart to go in the dishwasher. The blades even rotate to ensure even chopping. I've had this chopper more than ten years, and it's still blowing my mind.

This is so simple that it's almost embarrassing. Dredge the chicken in the pecan mixture, and place it on a piece of Stoneware. Any piece will work, but I'm using the Rectangle Stone. This is the most tender, moist chicken I've made, and I know stoneware has a lot to do with that. Three words: Even heat distribution. Ok, so take the chicken out of the oven, check its temperature, and add a little bit of salt and pepper. I use the Pampered Pantry Salt and Pepper with the Bamboo Grinder Set (pictured in the first photo), and that really is all the seasoning I need. High quality ingredients mean you get to use less!

This recipe is really simple. It's just something I clipped out of Health Magazine last year, and it's become one of my favorite dishes. The chicken is flavorful without a bunch of hidden calories, and the ease of preparation is almost too good to be true. Try this sometime, and let me know what you think!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spinach, Artichoke, and White Bean Dip

I don't think you can have too many dip recipes. This is especially true when it comes to the time of the year you spend bouncing from party to party, appetizer plate to appetizer plate, cocktail glass to cocktail glass, calorie. to. calorie. That's why I clipped this recipe from a recent issue of Cooking Light, my favorite magazine for food that tastes great without expanding my waistline. I'm not saying this is a perfect substitution for typical spinach and artichoke dip, but I am saying you can nosh on it while still fitting in those cocktail dresses you're depending on to get you through the party season.

(Displayed in Mini Baker from the Stoneware Collection)

Spinach, Artichoke, and White Bean Dip

1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can baby artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 (9-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Place Romano cheese, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, salt, black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, and white beans in a food processor, and process until smooth. Spoon into a medium bowl. Stir in the artichokes and spinach. Spoon the mixture into a prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella.

3. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown

This recipe seems pretty straightforward from the directions, but there's actually a lot going on. Start by organizing your spices into a Pinch Bowl, and get that Garlic Press pressing. No peeling the garlic! Here I'm using my Measuring Spoons and the Bamboo Pepper Grinder full of Pampered Pantry Peppercorn Medley.

Frozen spinach annoys me, but it's a lot less annoying when I take care of it with a Stainless Mesh Colander. The mesh in here is fine enough to keep the spinach from getting all over the sink. The rundown here includes the Measure-All Cup for mayonnaise and all other sticky, gross, don't-want-to-touch-that things, the Can Strainer, a 3 1/2" Paring Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection, Measuring Cups, and the Large Cutting Board.

Can I just say Smooth-Edge Can Opener for the win? Take a look at how this removes the entire lid from the top of the can... no sharp edges, no mess, no lid getting inside the beans... perfection.

The Microplane Adjustable Coarse Grater is the answer to shredded cheese of any kind. By grating your own cheese, you save a lot of money, and you don't have to worry about all that powdery stuff pre-shredded cheese contains to keep it from sticking together.

Artichokes go in the Manual Food Processor for quick chopping before being added to the Classic Batter Bowl where everything's coming together. Did you know the batter bowls go in the oven?

Artichokes, spinach, white bean concoction after being processed. Stir this with the Mix 'n Scraper, top it with cheese, and you're good to go!

The Mini Baker from the Stoneware Collection is the perfect size for this and other dip recipes, and it makes a beautiful presentation right out of the oven.

Enjoy all the parties you're about to hit without the "how much am I gaining?" mentality. Eat what you want, but have small portions. Substitute low-cal items such as this dip when possible, and avoid hanging out near the buffet. Nothing you don't already know, but put it into practice this year. I'll try to do the same.

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E-mail me: chefjennylyn[at]
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Almond Joy Cupcakes

Sometimes you come across a recipe that makes your mind spin with possibilities. That's how I felt when I saw an Almond Joy layer cake from Rachel Ray. After reading through the cake method, I knew I had to turn it into cupcakes. Note about me: I think of a lot of things in terms of cupcakes. Anyway, the cupcakes were a hit, but I thought they were really rich. The solution? Miniatures! Welcome to 2-bite Almond Joy cupcakes, one of my new favorites. I'm writing the recipe out as the original layer cake, but I'll make notes on doing cupcakes instead.

Almond Joy Cupcakes

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 tsp. pure vanilla extract, divided
1/2 tsp. salt plus a big pinch, divided
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 bag (14 oz.) sweetened shredded coconut (4 packed cups), divided
2 cups sliced almonds
3 cups heavy cream, divided
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 8-inch-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and butter the parchment.
(Cupcakes: Arrange liners)

In a medium saucepan, bring 2/3 cup water to a boil. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Whisk in the butter and chocolate over low heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. salt. Whisk in 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Pour in the chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in 1 packed cup coconut. Divide the batter between the pans and bake in the lower third of the oven for 35 minutes or until firm in the center. Let cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes, then invert onto racks to cool completely.
(Cupcakes: Bake 18-22 minutes for standard or 15-18 minutes for 2-bite)

While the cake cools, spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 12 minutes; let cool. (Probably better to toast almonds while you're arranging all the other ingredients. They can cool while cakes are baking, etc.)

In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup cream, the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and pinch salt and simmer, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tsp. vanilla and 3 packed cups coconut. When cool, fold in 1 1/2 cups almonds.

Split the cake layers to make 4 layers. Place 1 layer cut side up on a cake stand and spread with 1 cup of the coconut-almond mixture. Top with the second layer cut side down and spread with 1 cup more of the mixture. Repeat with the remaining 2 cake layers and filling, spreading the filling on the top. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours to firm up.

(Cupcakes: Scoop coconut mixture on top, and top with sweetened whipped cream and almond leftovers. No need to refrigerate anything for 4 hours to firm up.)

Whip the remaining 2 1/4 cups cream with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff. Spread over the cake. Sprinkle the top with the remaining almonds.

Yield: 1 layer cake, about 24 cupcakes, or about 40 2-bite cupcakes

If you know me at all, you know I am a prep work freak. Efficiency is great on the front end because it guarantees great results and stress-free recipe assembly. I recently read a post from a blogger who forgot to add sugar to a cake. Result? Making an entirely new cake. Laying ingredients out from the start prevents these mistakes. I'm using... Measuring Cups, Easy Read Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoons, Pinch Bowls, Adjustable Measuring Spoons, 2-Cup Prep Bowls, Quikut Paring Knife, Large Cutting Board, 3-Qt. Saucepan from the Executive Cookware Collection, and a Silicone Whisk.

When a recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp. of an ingredient, you can just grab your 1/2 tbsp. measuring spoon. This is one reason I love the Measuring Spoon Set - all measurements are included. Well, that and the fact that they're shaped perfectly for spice bottles. Oh, and the way they snap together. Ok, so I'm using a Stainless Mixing Bowl for my cake batter. All I can say about these is that I'm head over heels in love with them. They're definitely my go-to bowls for most tasks.

The chocolate sauce that's going to be mixed into the flour is in the 3-Qt. Saucepan from the Executive Cookware Collection. Then the Stainless/Silicone Sauce Whisk is doing its thing to blend ingredients while protecting the pan's coating. When a recipe tells you to add eggs one at a time, don't skip the step. I wish I could say this recipe is a breeze and comes together in no time, but I'd be lying. This is actually pretty complicated, and that's one reason I won't skip little things that make a difference in the final product. Crack eggs into a separate bowl (2-Cup Prep Bowl here) before adding them to batter in case of blood, rottenness, or shell fragments. If I cracked a rotten egg into this batter, I think I'd cry and vomit... in that order.

Whisk the chocolate concoction into the flour bowl, and it's time to add a cup of coconut. I don't know if you've noticed, but this batter doesn't require a mixer - just whisks. Here I'm using the Stainless Whisk, one of my favorite products. The one here is ten years old, and it's never rusted, never come apart, and never tried to keep half my recipe in its coils. Note: This batter is addictive, so don't taste it.

I toasted my almonds on the Medium Bar Pan from the Stoneware Collection. Things like nuts remind me how great stoneware is with its even heat distribution. I don't have to worry about scorching the almonds that are 1) expensive and 2) vital to this recipe. My coconut mixture is in the 4-Qt. Casserole from the Executive Collection.

Top each cupcake with coconut/almond mixture, and pipe a little sweetened cream on top. Garnish with leftover almonds, and you're good to go! I promise these are crowd pleasers. They're rich, delicious, and soooo satisfying! Be someone's hero, and bake these today.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coconut Chicken Tenders

Before you skip this because of the chicken's golden fried color, let me announce that this recipe is straight from the pages of Cooking Light. Welcome to a coconut chicken recipe that won't leave you feeling heavy, greasy, and gross.

Chicken breasts on sale equal a lot of chicken in the freezer, and a lot of chicken in the freezer equals a hunt for new recipes. Cooking Light came through for me again with a delicious, relatively simple dish that's not loaded with fat and calories. Grab some chicken breasts, slice them up, and make these tenders happen!

Coconut Chicken Tenders

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup rice flour (Jenny-Lyn: I used all-purpose)
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons canola oil
Sweet chile sauce (optional)

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine buttermilk and egg in a shallow dish, stirring well. Place coconut in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess. Dip chicken in egg mixture; dredge in coconut.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. Serve with chile sauce, if desired.

As always, getting ingredients out before putting anything together is a good call. This is how you prevent, "Oh, I don't have any eggs, but other ingredients are already mixed!" situations. Here's what's being used: Measuring Spoon Set, Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, Easy Read Measuring Cups, Small Batter Bowl, Cake Pans, Measuring Cups, Dots Pasta Bowl, Large Cutting Board.

I didn't take pictures because I didn't want to wash my hands five extra times while slicing chicken, but I used the 5" Santoku Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection. All I can say is that chicken doesn't have to be sawed, and if you're sawing, you need a new knife. I had no idea before I began using the Forged Cutlery Collection! My flour mixture, egg mixture, and coconut are in Cake Pans. These are perfect for dredging because of their deep sides and light weight. Note: The set comes with two pans, not three.

Cooking is messy. From the cake pans, chicken goes into the 10" Skillet from the Executive Cookware Collection. I'm using the Chef's Tongs for chicken handling, and I can't say enough about them. They have a long handle to keep my arm away from popping oil, and the silicone end keeps from scratching my cookware. Then there's the gentle grip that ensures coconut crust stays on the chicken instead of in the pan. Thanks, Chef's Tongs!

Ok, so if you're looking for a new way to use chicken breasts, look no further. These tenders are simple and delicious. Enjoy!

Like the products you saw used?
Shop Online 24/7 at
E-mail me: chefjennylyn[at]
Call me up: (205) 585-2464