Brain Cupcakes

For Halloween this year I decided to make some yummy and creepy brain cupcakes.  These were rather easy to make and had such a fun look to them.  I used a simple chocolate cupcake recipe and paired it with a quick and easy-to-make butter cream frosting.  I hope you enjoy these as much as the rest of us did.

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, stir in the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk; beat well. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.

 

Butter Cream Frosting for Brain Cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 pound (1 box) powdered sugar

1 teas vanilla

3-4 tbls milk

In large mixing bowl cream butter.  Add vanilla and 3 tbls milk, mix well.  Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing well.  Add additional milk if needed to achieve thick consistency that holds its shape well.  To get a creepy brain color add 1 drop red food color and 1 drop green food color.  Alternatively you can also use some grey food coloring paste.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip to pipe a brain pattern on each cupcake.

 

 

Brain Cupcakes

Brain Cupcakes

 

 

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Halloween Cocktails

It’s Thursday and cocktail time here on My Breakfast At Tiffany’s!  Since this weekend will be filled with Ghouls, Goblins, Vampires and Witches, I decided to post some Halloween inspired cocktail recipes.  The easiest way to create spooky cocktails is to use black vodka.  It should be available at your local liquor store, but if you can’t find it, then stick to some of these other creepy drinks!

Blood Sucker Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Bacardi O

1/2 oz Cointreau

2 oz pineapple juice

drizzle of grenadine

In cocktail shaker with ice combine Bacardi O, cointreau, and pineapple juice; shake well.  Pour over ice in a cocktail glass.  Drop a couple drops of grenadine onto inside of glass to create spooky bloody drizzles.

Blood Sucker Cocktail

Blood Sucker Cocktail

Black Devil Martini

2 oz dark rum

1 oz dry vermouth

black olives on a toothpick

Shake dark rum and dry vermouth with ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a martini glass rimmed with orange sugar. Garnish with black olives.

Black Devil Martini

Black Devil Martini

Almond Joy Martini

1 oz chocolate flavored vodka

1 oz Frangelica

1 oz coconut rum

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour into a chilled martini glass and let the kid in you enjoy!

Almond Joy Martini

Almond Joy Martini

Screwed-Up Screwdriver

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice

1 1/2 oz black vodka

1 black licorice twist, for serving

Place ice in a tall glass and pour juice in to half way up the glass. Pour vodka over the back of a cocktail spoon into glass so it sits on top of juice and creates a layer of blackness. Slice 1/4 inch off each end of licorice, and use as a straw.

Black Vodka Cocktails

Black Vodka Cocktails

*All of these and more can be found on MarthaStewart.com and fineliving.com

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Homemade Mac-n-Cheese

This week was C.P.’s birthday and usually we go out to a nice dinner, but since we have both been feeling tired and a bit run down, we decided we would go out over the weekend instead to celebrate.  This meant we would be home on his actually birthday night so I wanted to make a nice dinner.  I have often made a nice filet or something extra special for these types of occasions, but this time he wanted his “true favorite”, homemade mac-n-cheese.  That’s an easy one and so delicious!  I have made this recipe several times and it always comes out so wonderfully!  You can give it your own twist easily, by using a mix of your favorite types of cheeses.  I typically use a blend of Cheddar, Jack and parmesan for mine.  I especially like this recipe because it is creamy but not liquidy like many mac-n-cheese recipes.  Also you can add bacon and onions if you wish.

Homemade Mac-n-Cheese

1 pound of large elbow macaroni

2 tbls butter

3-4 tbls flour

2 cups milk

2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (use any of your favorites)

five strips of bacon

parmesan cheese for topping

bread crumbs for topping  (my favorite are Panko bread crumbs, a Japanese version)

Generously grease a large casserole dish and set aside.  Cook and drain elbow macaroni, place it back into the large pot used to cook it.  Slice bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and cook in a sauce pan.  Once bacon is cooked thoroughly add 2 tbls butter and let melt, but do not burn.  Add 3-4 tbls flour and whisk quickly just until mixed in, then add milk.  Whisk and stir to thoroughly combine and cook over med heat until it begins to thicken.  Once milk mixture begins to thicken add 2 1/2 cups of your favorite shredded cheeses.  Continue stirring over medium heat until well blended and slightly thick.  Pour the cheese mixture over the elbow macaroni and thoroughly combine.  Pour into greased casserole dish.  Top generously with shredded parmesan cheese.  Finish dish by topping off with some bread crumbs.  Place into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until topping begins to brown.  Enjoy!

Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

This homemade mac-n-cheese recipe is dedicated to C.P. for his birthday!!  And we are going to enjoy it with left-over pulled pork all week!!

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Pulled Pork–In Honor of Swine Flu! (Just Kidding)

Ok, so maybe its not that funny, but with so many family members, friends, and coworkers coming down with the swine flu, I just couldn’t resist. And just to clarify, NO you CAN NOT get the swine flu from eating pork (as some of our favorite celebs have suggested). If you do find yourself feeling a bit flu-like then you are best sticking with bland foods and lots of liquids. Try dry toast, white rice, bananas, apple sauce, and chicken soup or broth. Also, replenish any lost electrolytes with gatorade. I also strongly believe in the importance of vitamin C and am always eating and drinking foods and beverages with high vitamin C content. This is useful throughout the year but I find myself paying even more attention to my vitamin C intake during cold and flu season. Yes, healthy foods rich in vitamins and nutrients help keep your immune system working at its fullest, so eat healthy, get plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, and hopefully you will avoid the swine flu (or seasonal flu for that matter) this year. Unfortunately many of us will come down with some form of flu, so maybe I’ll post a blog actually dedicated to that soon. Hmmm….something to think about…..

But, for now I’ll go ahead with my original post on pulled pork!

Pulled pork is a favorite around my house and this week I’m am busting out the handy dandy slow cooker once again! This time pulled pork is on the menu, and soon my whole house will be filled with the delightfully yummy aroma of juicy pork roast!

Pulled Pork

1 3-4 pound pork shoulder
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

Trim and place pork roast in crockpot (again I use crockpot liners for easy clean-up), salt and pepper roast.  Mix half of the bottle of BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and cider vinegar.  Pour mixture over roast and set crockpot to low.  Cook on low 9-11 hours.  Shred pork with fork and mix in more BBQ sauce if desired.  Serve warm on a soft roll for pulled pork sandwiches or along side some home-cooked mac-n-cheese!  Enjoy!  I’ll also post a recipe for my homemade, from scratch, mac-n-cheese in my next blog!!!

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Chicago Foodie Experience

I was in Chicago this last week for a medical science conference and had a great time trying the food and drinks.  If you ever go to Chicago you of course have to try the famous Chicago Dogs and Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, but beyond that there are many more tantalizing food and drink options.  I learned what an American Gastro-Tavern has to offer.  Following suit with the British Gastropub and the French Gastro-Bistro, America now has come to offer the Gastro-Tavern.  It’s a smart idea, a casual yet sophisticated Bar/Restaurant serving excellent drinks and modern takes on classic American food.  Think “grown-up” burger and beer joints for a foodie crowd.  The burgers are dressed up with elegant cheese and topping options, the vegetable sides are topped with goat cheese and unique spices, and the french fries are flavored with truffle oil.  Beyond the food, the drinks are also sophisticated classics.  Try a pear blossom martini, a Champagne Charlie (modern twist on the mimosa), or a double passion cooler.  The wine selections are also very thorough and delicious.  The prices are very reasonable, and the atmosphere is friendly and laid back, not trendy and stuck-up.  So find a Gastro-Tavern near you, and experience it for yourself!  Or, the next time you are in Chicago check out the Luxbar or the Gage Restaurant and Tavern!

Gastro-Tavern

Gastro-Tavern

Luxbar

Luxbar

Pear Blossom Martini

2 oz Grey Goose La Poire (Pear) Vodka

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 oz apple juice

Shake all ingredients with ice in a martini shaker.  Pour into martini glass and garnish with apple or pear slice, or a maraschino cherry.  Enjoy!

Pear Blossom Martini

Pear Blossom Martini

Champagne Charlie

Pour 2 oz Cointreau into champagne flute.  Fill glass with Prosecco and garnish with orange bitters or a mandarin orange slice.  Enjoy!

Champagne Charlie

Champagne Charlie

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Nothing like the smell of roast!

I always remember how good dinner always smelled when I was a child.  I had the privilege of enjoying family dinners on most nights when I was a child, and I can still smell mom’s home cooking!  I must admit that most of what I have learned about cooking and baking originated from my mother, and for that I thank her very much!  I still remember the comfort of coming home to a warm house glowing with the aroma of dinner.  It would be cold and snowy outside and warm and toasty inside.  I still can see the fog on the windows formed from the delicious oven heat inside meeting the cold of the glass from the chilly snow outside.  Now, I still enjoy coming home to the comfort and aroma of warm cooking roast wafting through my house.

Since winter is slowly approaching and has brought us some cold weather this week I decided to break out my crockpot and enjoy some good comfy, winter home cooking.  (Ok, so 65 degrees during the day  isn’t that cold, but for southern california its been downright chilly this week!)  I bought a lovely chuck roast and some good crusty french bread and made the most amazing french dip sandwiches.  The beef was so tender and the rustic flavors were to die for!  And it was so easy!  Just throw the roast in the crockpot with some herbs and beef broth, turn it on to low and let it go for 8-10 hours.  When you return home from work in the evening you will be greeted by comforting and welcoming aromas.

Ingredients

3-4 pound beef chuck roast

2-2 1/2 cups beef broth

1 teas dried thyme

1 teas dried oregano

2 teas cracked pepper

Place roast in the crockpot (I use disposable crockpot liners, they are genius and make cleanup a snap!).  Add dried herbs and spices.  Pour in enough beef broth so the liquid comes about 3/4 of the way up the side of the roast.  Turn crockpot to low and leave it for 8-10 hours.  Remove meat and let it cool for a few minutes, meat will be very tender and juicy.  You can use the remaining juices for dipping if you like.  Just strain off the fat/grease and whisk in some flour if you would like to thicken the sauce slightly.  I enjoy it just as it is! If you do not have a liquid separator for removing the fat/grease layer, you can line a regular colander with heavy paper towels and strain the liquid through it.  For the sandwiches I like to use crusty french bread and slap on a slice of provolone cheese.  You could even butter and toast the bread if you like!  Enjoy!

Beef French Dip

Beef French Dip

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PINKTINI Cocktail Time

Its time for my weekly Thursday cocktail recipe.  In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I have devised a fun girly PINK drink that I like to call a Pinktini!  Hope you enjoy!

PINKTINI

2 oz vodak

1 oz cointreau

1 oz cranberry juice

1 oz pomegranate juice

splash of lemon-lime soda

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.  Pour into a martini glass and enjoy!

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