Saturday, March 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes

Don't think I haven't noticed how drastic my ratio is of savories vs. sweets is on here. Trust me - I love my sugar! However, my baking undoubtedly lends more towards pastries than sweet dessert-like treats. Although I haven't questioned too much on why this is, I guess it's because gluten-free flour is expensive, and I would rather put it towards more practical goods. Pastries (muffins, scones, quick breads) can be sweet and decadent, but can also be geared to more of a breakfast item for those quick mornings.

However, that being said, I love having a specific reason to baking. Like birthdays! I seriously get mildly depressed when a birthday doesn't come with some kind of dessert. It's what makes it so special.

Enter: Peanut butter banana cupcakes, in honor of The King. My mother-in-law happens to adore that man, and it happens to be her birthday, so these had to happen with all the happenstance going on. (Happen just happened a lot).

I followed this recipe subbing in my own gluten-free flour blend and they turned out perfectly! I'm actually pretty excited, because I totally winged it on the flour. The crumb is light and airy, but still dense enough to bond well with the heavier peanut butter buttercream. I'll be using this recipe again for other versions. Coconut frosting might be key in the future.

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes
Adapted from Mark Matusmoto
Makes 9 large, 12 small

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 eggs
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter

Ingredients for the frosting:
8 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (I wouldn't suggest using the natural kind)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cupcakes To-Do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Mash together the banana and lemon juice until smooth, then whisk in the eggs. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use a fork to whisk together the flours, xantham gum, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the butter until well incorporated. Add the banana and egg mixture and mix until just combined.

3. Fill the cupcake molds about 2/3 of the way full and put the pan in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to prevent the cupcakes from overcooking and becoming dry. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

Buttercream To-Do: 1. Beat the butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until it is light and fluffy. Spread on the cupcakes with a butterknife or pipe on for a more refined look. I'm hardly a refined person, so I went with the former option. ;) Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Arugula and Walnut Pesto

Sundays are pretty low-key around here. We go to church (Scott helped me in Sunday School today. That was pretty cute), we get fed lunch at his parents, stuffed with dessert at mine, and then we head to Freddie's for some grocery shopping. We return home late-afternoon, which leaves me more time than our usual week nights to prep dinner. This extra-long stretch means I can get super wild in the kitchen...which also means Sunday dinners result in adding another recipe to the books, or adding some more contents to our trash.

While we were wandering around Fred Meyer grabbing the usual suspects, I got to thinking of how I could use the arugula that was slowly dying in our fridge. I knew pasta was in the plan for dinner, so pesto came to mind. It didn't take me long to walk straight to the bulk department and fill up on some walnuts. Hi-ho, bulk department TOTALLY the way to go. 3/4 pound for six dollars? This equals out to many more walnuts happenings soon.

This turned out way better than I had expected. I used various other pesto recipes to form a base of how-to-do, including these two. While the peppery taste arugula holds was delish, it was really the salty parmesan that blew it out of this world. But that's me, who could have a hunk of parm in my lip the whole day and be totally content.

This played well with pasta, but I would definitely suggest warming it up in a sauce pan (while your noodles are boiling) and adding spoonfuls of boiling pasta water as necessary to get it all creamy and juiced up.

Arugula Walnut Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

3 cups loosely packed arugula
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cloves garlic (preferably roasted)
1/4 cup heaping walnut halves
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
S&P to taste

1. In a food processor, get your arugula, lemon juice, garlic, walnuts, and cheese roughly grated and mixed up.

2. Stream in olive oil as the processor is running to get it all smooth and pureed.

3. Taste. Add salt and/or pepper. Taste again. Say "mmm."

4. Use as you wish! Leftovers will be on my sandwich tomorrow.