Monday, February 14, 2011

Quick and Cheesy Valentine Lunch

Today there was absolutely no time for a planned Valentine Day dinner. My solution was fast and fun!  I made an ordinary salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions and added chopped chicken tenders left over from last nights dinner. I toasted 2 slices of bread in the toaster and used my Wilton heart cookie cutters to cut them into heart shapes.  I popped the salad with the toast hearts, threw up $5.00 worth of cheesy Valentine's decorations; which took all of ten minutes and I called it done! Oh, I also I popped a couple dozen vanilla bean cupcakes in the oven last night and frosted them with homemade vanilla bean frosting and sprinkles. So a cute and festive dessert was ready.
 No time, no problem...just roll with what you have!  : D

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 vanilla bean
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy; 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape contents of vanilla bean into the butter and add the sugar. Continue beating until sugar is thoroughly incorporated and mixture is fluffy again. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula and beating well between each addition. Add sour cream, milk and vanilla. Continue to mix until all ingredients are fully blended. Add flour mix one cup or so at a time. Be sure to mix well with each addition of the flour mixture. Mix until batter is light and fluffy. Line 2 cupcake tins with paper cups and fill each well 2/3 of the way up. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. All ovens are different, so watch you cupcakes carefully when they have been in for about 16 minutes. Cool cupcakes before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, soft
1 vanilla bean, split
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
good pinch of salt
1 teaspoons vanilla

Add sticks butter to a mixer and beat until smooth and fluffy. Scrape vanilla bean and add contents to butter.  Add confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time; beating continuously while you are adding the sugar and scraping down sides of bowl as you go.  Add salt and vanilla.  Beat for about 5 minutes, or until frosting is light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag fitted with desired tip or frost with icer or butter knife.

Cooks Notes: I like to freeze my cupcakes right out of the oven. I take them out of the freezer 10 minutes before I’m ready to frost them. It makes for an amazing moist cake. YUM!