wish me luck!

Hey Guys! North Carolina Sweet Poatato Commission is hosing a recipe contest taking a stand against the marshmallow + sweet potato combination. I decided to enter my awesome brunch hash into the contest, wish me luck! Be sure to check out all of the great sweet potato recipes they have. 

What fun sweet potato recipes do you have?!

sweet potato + sausage hash
yields 4 servings

4 sweet potatoes (about 4 cups diced)

1 mild italian sausage link

2 spicy italian sausage links

1 onion diced
1 garlic clove chopped
1 t. onion powder
½ t. garlic powder
8 basil leaves
4 T. olive oil
salt + pepper

Preheat oven to 400º F. Dice sweet potatoes to your preferred size. Drizzle 3 T. olive oil and salt + pepper to taste over the potatoes and place on baking sheet. Roast potatoes for about 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish. 

Heat a skillet on medium and add 1 T. olive oil and the sausage links (casing removed) crumbled. Cook until browned. Next add onion and cook until translucent. Add in garlic and seasonings and cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Pull your sweet potatoes out of the oven and add them to your pan. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle over the top of your dish before serving. 

improv style:
there's a million ways you can improvise this dish. don't have sweet potatoes? you can use any kind you like: yams, yukon gold, red, fingerling, you get the idea... same goes with the sausage: breakfast, all mild, all spicy, chorizo, pork, chicken, jalapeno chedar. not a fan of sausage? bacon, canadian bacon, diced ham, or pancetta would all be lovely substitutions. this is a throw what you got in a pan and make it kind of hash. add in your favorite herbs. think oregano, chili powder, thyme, parsley. i think it would be even better if you topped it with a poached or fried egg with a slightly runny yolk (no eggs for me for another 23 days - sigh). also, you can cook the potatoes in the skillet if you prefer. i like the oven because i can get everything else prepared faster while the potatoes get nice and soft in the oven. 

family traditions

Where did the last 2 weeks go? I swear I had all of my posts lined up ready to share with you guys. Easter's coming up and Passover too… In my family we celebrate both. I wanted to share some of our family recipes with you guys and then things got crazy, like INSANELY crazy. I started a new job and I've been working like a madwoman. AND last week my little sister was in town. It was great, except I forgot to share my awesome family recipes with you guys… so sorry! So I'll overload you this week to make up for it, k?

Every family has their own traditions. In my family, early morning before a special holiday, we have Aunt Bobbi's Buns. We don't have an Aunt Bobbi, I have no idea who she is - but I'm thankful for her buns!!

It's an insanely easy recipe to make and the best part is it only requires you to turn on the oven in the morning. The rest of the prep is done the night before (if you can really call it that). Some people call this monkey bread and I'm sure tons of people have their own spin on it. This is how my family does it. For us, everyone fights over the center pieces (the extra soft, gooey pieces). My sister Carolyn and I always fight over our other sister's pecans (they're not into the nuts). I usually win - the joys of being the oldest sibling. 

What are your family holiday traditions?

aunt bobbi's sticky buns
my mother's recipe adapted from a newspaper clipping from long ago but I found it online here
yields 8 servings

1 package Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
1 box Jello cook-n-serve butterscotch pudding mix
¼ c. melted butter
½ c. packed brown sugar
½ c. pecan halves
¼ t. cinnamon

the night before:
Spray a bunt pan with non-stick cooking spray (I use PAM). Sprinkle nuts into the cake pan and then top with 14 - 18 of the frozen rolls. Enough to fill the pan but not so many that the balls overflow the pan. Pour the pudding mix over the frozen rolls.

In a small bowl, mix butter and brown sugar together and then pour over dinner rolls with pudding mix. Finally, sprinkle with cinnamon, cover with plastic wrap,  and set it in a cool oven overnight. I know this sounds crazy, but trust it… it works and it's awesome. 

in the morning:
Pull out your cake pan (this is REALLY important, don't forget like I have before). Preheat your oven to 350º F and bake your bobbi's for 18-20 minutes until the frozen dinner rolls are cooked. They should sound slightly hollow when tapped (you know what a cooked dinner roll should look like - you eat them). Place a large plate over the top and invert and let sit for a few minutes. Pull the pan off and you have yourself a gorgeous and EASY special breakfast! 

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!!

improv style:
i'm sure you could use any type of frozen dinner roll as long as it was a basic dinner roll and not a crescent, etc… if you try another brand, let me know how it works! maybe try a whole wheat brand? unfortunately, the pudding mix is kind of essential to this recipe but if you're trying to be healthier (calorie wise), you could use margarine instead of butter. i don't recommend this. and finally, how do you feel about nuts? not a fan? leave it out… only have walnuts, substitute it! i bet some crumbled dried fruit would be a nice addition as well. maybe a little drizzle of rum (2 - 3 T.) would give it an extra holiday kick?! 


3 irish men

I'm super excited to share this recipe with you guys. Two of my very good friends are dating Irish men so this year I wanted to go all out for my Paddy's Day post. A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend the day in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day with one of those friends. I wish we lived in the same place so I could share these cupcakes with them! I know both of my girlfriends would LOVE these treats. 
I figure if you're going to make a boozy cupcake, you might as well go all out. This is a rich, moist, flavorful dark chocolate stout cupcake, stuffed with a whiskey spiked ganache, topped with a tangy, not too sweet baileys cream cheese butter cream frosting. Sounds complicated but it's really not. Each bite hi-lights a different flavor and I love how they come together. Some might call this an Irish Car Bomb cupcake but I prefer 3 Irish Men. There may or may not have been a rough night in college during Whistler weekend that involved one too many Irish Car Bombs. I've never been able to drink one since. These cupcakes on the other hand are a different story! If you're a chocolate lover, this is the cupcake for you.
3 irish men cupcakes
adapted from pinch my salt originally adapted from david leberman
yields 15 cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
2 eggs
½ c. sour cream
6 oz (about ¾ c. not including the head) guiness 
2 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
½ c. dark cocoa powder
1¼ c. flour
1 c. sugar
6 T. melted butter
pinch of salt

for the ganache:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
c. heavy cream
4 T. Jameson Whiskey
2 T. butter

for the frosting:
1 stick of butter at room temperature
3 c. powdered sugar
4 oz cream cheese
4 T. baileys

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line your cupcake pan with cupcake papers and set aside. In a large bowl, mix eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and beer together. In a separate bowl, sift together your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, powder, cocoa, and salt). The sifting is important because cocoa powder tends to be very lumpy. I just used a fine mesh sieve but use whatever you have on hand.

Add half of your dry ingredients into your wet and mix well. Once incorporated, add the remainder of the dry to your wet and stir until well combined. Melt your butter in the microwave and add this to your cupcake batter. Stir one more time until it's fully mixed and you're ready to drop the batter in the tins! 

I used an ice cream scoop so that each cupcake was uniform in size. Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ of the way full. Bake for about 25 minutes. You'll know the cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out of the center clean. 

Let cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. If you get impatient, you might end up with floppy cupcakes. They need time to cool down before you remove them from the tin!

While your cupcakes are cooling, get started on your ganache. In a small sauce pan, heat cream over medium heat until it's really warm but not boiling. Chop chocolate into small chunks and place in a medium sized bowl. Add butter in small chunks. Once your cream has warmed up, pour over the chocolate and butter. Stir until it melts and becomes cool. Finally add in your whiskey and set aside to firm up a little bit. 

While your ganache is cooling, use a small circular cookie cutter (or in my case a melon baller because I didn't have one) and remove a small portion out of the center of each cupcake. If you don't have either of these tools, carefully use a pairing knife and a spoon to remove the center. It doesn't have to be a perfect circle. You're going to fill it with ganache and top it with frosting so no one will know anyway. 

The ganache should have this consistency to it (still soft but holds it's shape). It will take about 15-20 minutes to cool to this texture. 
Once all the centers are removed, fill a ziplock bag and cut the tip off or piping bag with the cooled ganache and stuff your cupcakes with the filling. 

On to the frosting! In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Slowly add in your powdered sugar about a half a cup at a time. I've found by doing this it helps melt the sugar better and it makes the frosting a lot less grainy! Once all of your sugar is incorporated, add in your baileys. I used a piping bag to frost the cupcakes but you can use any method you like. Ta-da! Super fancy cupcakes for your Paddy's Day celebration! Or any day really, lets be honest! 

improv style:
i wanted an authentic irish cupcake to celebrate st. patricks day. you can use any stout beer and whiskey you like for this recipe. you can also leave out the whiskey from the ganache if you don't like it. you can adjust the amount of booze by a TBSP or two less if you want a VERY subtle flavor. however this recipe probably won't take more booze... i packed it with as much flavor as possible. if you don't have sour cream on hand you can use non-fat yogurt or greek yogurt. just make sure it's plain flavored. i know it probably sounds like a weird ingredient for cupcakes but it helps make them really moist, keeps it lower in fat, AND balances out the sweetness. it's the miracle worker of the cupcake!