Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sorry Dear...(Margarita Cupcakes)

Joe had to go out of town for work this past week and while I missed him terribly (and still do since I'm in London now - terrible timing!), I enjoyed a week full of Joe-free food (lots of feta cheese, whole grains and veggies and hardly any meat - and I might have had popcorn for dinner one night). All kinds of stuff that he wouldn't feel jealous in the slightest about missing.

Except for these cupcakes that is.

Some friends and I had plans to go to Movies in the Park (if you don't live in Chicago its something they do in the summer with a free movie playing on a jumbo screen in a park - basically an excuse to have a picnic in the city) one night and I had been dying to try this recipe.

So while my friends (and co-workers) happily devoured them, poor Joe didn't get a single one. I guess I'll just have to make them again : )

I got this recipe on Annie's Eats and knew I would love it when I saw the frosting was a swiss buttercream. These cakes are seriously delicious and have a good kick to them. I opted for a green sugar garnish to mimic decorative rim salt, but as Annie noted, a sprinkling of coarse salt would actually work too - I just wasn't brave enough!

Margarita Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 limes, zested and juiced
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
2 cups sugar
8 large egg whites
Pinch fleur de sel (coarse salt)
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2-4 tbsp. tequila

Source: Annie's Eat's

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325˚ F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir with a fork to blend. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, brush the cooled cakes with tequila to emphasize the true margarita flavor.

To make the frosting, combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together, though it may take a long time!) Stir in the lime juice and tequila and mix until fully incorporated and smooth.

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream and garnish as desired.

Cupcake on FoodistaCupcake

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Flank Steak with Chimichurri (and my 5 year anniversary)

So this was not my wedding anniversary, not a blog anniversary, or even work. Somehow, out of the blue on my way home from work Tuesday night, it popped into my head that it was 5 years to the date that I had moved to Chicago. I got a little nostalgic and called my good friend April who moved out to Chicago with me (and sadly lives in Denver now) to reminisce about our move, or our "escape" from Ohio as we liked to call it. 5 years ago I moved with all my possessions in a U-Haul (btw, I highly recommend that all single women drive their own U-Haul at least once in your life, it makes you feel like a new woman), having 1 friend and 1 brother in the city, anxious and a little nervous about what laid ahead.

Now, I'm so fortunate to have a great group of friends, a job that I love like a lot, and most importantly, my best friend and husband Joe. So just as I was thinking about going out and celebrating, I remembered I had this flank steak marinating in the fridge and a hungry husband at home. Joe and I had a celebratory beer on the balcony and then cooked dinner and found a Criminal Minds rerun on TV that we hadn't seen before - a perfect evening : )

I've been meaning to try chimichurri sauce, which is the easiest and most delicious thing in the world. Seriously, you can put this stuff on anything; fries, any type of grilled meat, over avocado (as I did with my meal), mixed in with your cilantro, lime and black bean rice (as I also did with my meal).

I decided to put it over marinated, grilled flank steak, which was soooo delicious - I'll be making this stuff again soon!

Flank Steak Marinade


1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds flank steak

Mix the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, and ground black pepper in bowl, and pour the marinade over the steak - I did mine in a large Ziploc bag, but you could use a bowl or a shallow glass dish. Marinade for 6 - 24 hours.

Preheat the grill to medium/high heat, oil the grate and grill for about 5 minutes on each side.


Chimichurri Sauce


1 large garlic clove
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add garlic, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, oil, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a food processor then pulse until herbs are finely chopped.

Source: Adapted from What's on My Plate (Gourmet 2001)