Batter Licker

November 22, 2011

butternut squash cupcakes with maple-sage goat cheese frosting

My butternut squash bonanza continues! Think of this as a play on pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Except way better.

Honestly, I thought these up a year ago and never got around to making them. But they haunted me through spring and summer, and now that we’re back to peak butternut squash season, I had to make it happen.

So when last weekend’s Friendsgiving dinner got scheduled, it was a no-brainer. I knew exactly what I wanted to try.

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That’s the beauty of Friendsgiving. My friends and I officially launched the make-whatever-you-want concept last year, after decades of being told by our families that, no, we could not make butternut squash soup as an appetizer instead of Bopop’s bowl full of grapefruit tradition, and no, we could not make a cornbread, sausage and peppers stuffing instead of the rustic bread, sausage, apple and onion standard. (more…)

January 4, 2011

creamy butternut squash soup with a kick

Filed under: cheese,soup,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 9:10 pm

It’s teeth-chattering cold in my San Francisco apartment. That makes it a perfect night for using some freshly roasted, pureed and frozen butternut squash leftover from one of these to make butternut squash soup. It’s also a good time to wonder why I always visit Boston and its bone-chilling weather in January.

Usually, we venture back East for the New Year, excited to experience that magical bit of winter wonderland that snow-less San Francisco can never quite achieve. But this time around, Christmas decorations have already been re-packed and my cute tabletop rosemary Christmas tree has made its way into soups and stocks and even an aromatherapeutic bath or two. With the holiday season so utterly behind me, except the extra pounds that have chosen to stick around, I wonder how the blistering cold and the post-blizzard, muddy snow could possibly retain their charm. Regardless, I look forward to visiting with Jay’s grandmother, checking in with the Tarves family, and eating some of the best food Boston has to offer, from Frank McClelland’s sophisticated New England-French fare at L’Espalier to authentic Italian and hand-made pasta dishes at Francesca’s. And this time, when Francesca asks why Jay hasn’t made an honest woman of me yet, as she has every visit for the last several years, I’ll flash the bling her way.

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But back to the soup: onions, marjoram (or oregano!), and garlic add aromatics and a delicious depth of flavor to roasted butternut squash puree. But two other ingredients really transform this vegetable soup into something luscious. Cream cheese blended with the seasoned puree creates a sumptuous, velvety texture, and a kick of cayenne adds an unexpected, utterly delicious spiciness to balance the rich creaminess of this soup. (more…)

December 25, 2010

pizza dough cinnamon rolls with vanilla-espresso cream cheese glaze

Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 2 6-inch pans (about 12 mini rolls 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch deep)

1 package Whole Foods fresh pizza dough (about the size of a softball)
8 Tbsp. butter, divided and softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
flour for rolling out dough

Remove dough from refrigerator, cover lightly with a towel, and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F, and butter bottom and sides of two 6- or 7-inch round baking pans with 1 Tbsp. softened butter per pan.

Sprinkle counter with flour, and roll out dough into a rectangle until 1/4-inch thick. Spread 4 Tbsp. softened butter over entire surface of dough. Sprinkle sugar and salt evenly over the butter, and then sprinkle cinnamon generously over the sugar.

For mini rolls, tightly roll the long end of the rectangular dough over itself, and pinch end of dough against body of dough to seal, using a little warm water on your fingertips to seal the edges as needed. (If you prefer larger rolls, roll the short end over itself, and seal in the same fashion.)

Using a pastry cutter or very sharp knife, slice cinnamon log into 1-inch thick rolls. Do ahead: cinnamon rolls can wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen at this point; defrost in refrigerator one day prior to baking.

Place rolls in buttered round baking pans, leaving a little space between each roll to give it room to rise. Top each cinnamon roll with a small bit of softened butter, evenly distributing the remaining 2 Tbsp. softened butter between the rolls.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until top of rolls is only slightly golden. Remove from oven, and top warm rolls with Vanilla-Espresso Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe below). Serve immediately.

Vanilla-Espresso Cream Cheese Glaze

4 oz. cream cheese or neufchatel cheese (lower in fat and calories, but works equally well in frosting), softened
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. finely ground espresso or coffee beans

Mix together all ingredients until combined. Zap in microwave for 15 seconds if needed to further soften the cream cheese and make the mixture more pourable. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls.

November 9, 2010

caramelized onion and feta pastry bites

Filed under: appetizer,cheese — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 12:12 pm

I blame my friend Kelsey for my consumption of Trader Joe’s has these Caramelized Onion and Feta Pastry Bites every since she introduced them to me at a dinner party a few years back. They make a perfect appetizer, not only because the fillo pastry dough is stuffed with an irresistibly yummy feta-cream cheese mixture topped with caramelized onions, but also because they go from freezer to oven to mouth in 20 minutes.

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So, of course, I had to figure out how to make them at home. (more…)

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