Honey Lavender Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe courtesy of Spice Ice Cream (I found it on foodgawker.com)
  •  2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried lavender*
  • 185g unsalted butter (about 13 tbsps)
  • 3 tablespoons honey (floral varieties work beautifully)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Honey and Cream Cheese frosting
  • 250g cream cheese, softened (a little over 8 oz. but 8 oz. was enough for me)
  • ¾ cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place sugar and lavender in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. In a large bowl, beat butter, lavender sugar and honey until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla extract.

Fold the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture. It should be moist/stiff but not wet. Spoon the batter into 12 x muffin papers and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool completely.

To make the cream cheese icing, place cream cheese, icing sugar and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until smooth and blended, scraping down the sides to incorporate all the ingredients. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Use a palette knife to smooth icing onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with dried lavender flowers, if you like!

Results:  I don't think I used enough butter so these were a bit dense but still edible.  I also happened to have fresh lavender from my professor's garden so I used that.  Nice light flavor.  When using fresh ingredients, use about 1/3 more than dried.


Pork and Chorizo Burgers with Green Chile Mayo

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse
Note: Don't let the length of this recipe dissuade you. It's very simple.
  • 1/2 pound chorizo, outer casings removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 large hamburger buns, or 4 (6-inch) lengths French bread, split in half crosswise
  • 1 cup coarsely grated pepper jack cheese, optional
  • Green Chile Mayonnaise, recipe follows
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Place the chorizo in a food processor and process until finely chopped (sausage should appear crumbly.) Transfer to a large bowl and add the ground pork, garlic, Worcestershire, Essence, salt and cayenne and mix gently but thoroughly, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Form the mixture into 4 (1-inch) thick patties, about 8 ounces each, and place on the grill. Cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium. (IS HE SERIOUS? WHO UNDERCOOKS PORK?) During the last 2 minutes of grilling, toast the buns and sprinkle the cheese over the tops of the burgers, if desired, and cook until melted.

Transfer the burgers to the bottom of the buns and place on plates. Generously top each burger with 2 tablespoons of the Green Chile Mayonnaise and place the tops of the buns over the sauce. Serve immediately.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Green Chile Mayonnaise:
1 cup good-quality mayonnaise (homemade is best)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 poblano pepper, roasted and peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, poblano, and lime juice and process until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Results: I know it seems like a lot but it really wasn't that much.  First I roasted my poblanos.  As they roasted, I created the essence.  Then I made the burgers.  As the burgers grilled (on my grill pan), I made the mayo and toasted the buns.  I used cheese slices instead of shredded cheese.  Less messy.  I also upped the amount of minced garlic in the burgers because I was out of powdered garlic.  You can use Creole seasoning if you don't have the spices to make the essence.

This was really good.  Rashan was over the moon over these!  Like could NOT stop talking about them!  It was pretty funny.  I liked them but he said he loved them more than me at that moment.  Side eye.  I should knock your burger on the ground!  But I try not to waste food.


Tyler's Ultimate Spaghetti Carbonara

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 bacon slices, cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 onion, chopped (I would get a small one)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti.

Heat a 3-count (Meaning pour olive oil for 3 seconds) of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and onion and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the onion is caramelized and the bacon is crisp. While that is cooking, crack the eggs into a large serving bowl. Add the cream and cheese and whisk together. Scrape the bacon and onion into that bowl along with the cooking fat.

When water has come to a boil, throw in the spaghetti and stir to separate the strands; cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and add that to the bowl with the bacon and eggs. Drain the spaghetti, add it to the bowl, and give everything a toss. Invert a plate on top of the bowl to hold in the heat and let the pasta set for 5 minutes. Remove the plate, toss in some salt and lots of cracked black pepper and the parsley and you are done!

Results: Good... but a little wetter than I expected.  I may have put in too much cooking liquid.  And I halved the recipe and there was still too much for two people.  But quite good.  How could you go wrong with bacon, cheese, eggs and pasta?


Mexican Lasagna

Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast, available in the packaged meats case
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Salt
  • 8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas, available on dairy aisle of market
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or shredded pepper jack
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - twice around the pan. Add chicken and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Top with the scallions and serve.

Results: This recipe is an oldie but goodie.  I've made it in various forms multiple times over the years.  This time I sauteed bites of boneless skinless chicken breast (didn't love the chicken).  I also used mozzarella and topped it with chopped cilantro.  I also subbed regular tortillas.  I shocked myself for actually being in a place where I would've liked this recipe better without meat.  It was still super yummy!


Fusili with Spinach and Asiago Cheese

Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis
  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (9-ounce) bag fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces (1/2 pint) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup (about 3 1/2-ounces) grated Asiago
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, warm olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook until the spinach wilts, about 2 more minutes. Add the cooked pasta and toss. Add the cheeses, salt, pepper, and the pasta cooking liquid and stir to combine.

Transfer the pasta to a serving plate and serve.

Results:  I used spaghetti instead which I'm sure is part of my problem.  Other issue: I can't stand cooked cherry tomatoes.  This solidified it.  So disgusting.  I can't stand that burst when you bite them.  UGH!!!!  I should've used more spinach.  It would've been more delicious in spite of the tomatoes.  Either way this recipe was just ehhh to me.

Note: I'm at least 4 recipes behind on posting so I'll be posting daily or near daily this week to catch up. I won't be going by weeks anymore either since I missed a few weeks and have no idea what week we're on or should be on.  Cia! 


Fashionista Teacher Pt. I

So today is the first day I'll post my outfits as a teacher.  As a graduate assistant, I probably slacked off in my outfits a bit more than I should have.  But now that I'm THE teacher on the collegiate level, as some people like to say over and over again in shock that I have the position (LOL!!), I want to always look professional.  No jeans.  This meant I had to go shopping :( because I don't have enough clothing to last that long.  LOL @ the frowny face.  We all know that was really :) because who doesn't love a shopping spree??  Even better when it's someone else's money but whatever!  So here are the outfits for this week of school.  I even pulled out my fashion blog poses!  Excuse the lighting in the second set.  It was the end of the day. 

The first is my Tuesday outfit.  Look at that baby face.  See why I have to dress like an adult?  The first day, I blended right in with the students and got to hear one of them talking trash about trying to get into my class.  That was pretty hilarious.

Jacket: The Limited
Dress with belt: Ann Taylor Outlet (on sale for 1/3 of original price!)
Shoes: Nine West Outlet

I was so excited when I put on this outfit!  I felt teacher-y but still cute.  I do have to remind myself daily not to wear my magenta pumps all the time.  So far, I've only repeated one pair of shoes but I have too many open-toed shoes (that I'll mostly refrain from wearing) to continue that for long!

Lol.  After seeing this pics, I totally thought, geez, you should NOT have stopped watching America's Next Top Model!  And/or it's time to start watching again!  Such a hot mess.  Lol.  I was just doing what the fashion bloggers do.  Methinks I will henceforth just be myself.  You know... so as not to look so awkward... LOLOL!! 

I love this outfit!  I was so excited when I put it on!

Jacket: Banana Republic
Shirt: Martin + Osa (RIP)
Pants: Martin + Osa (Miss you... XOXO)
Shoes: Nine West Outlet
Necklace: Don't remember, bought it at least 4 years ago & wore it once!
Ring: Forever 21 (the stone fell out and I still like it!)


Week 33, Recipes 1 & 2: Angry Lobster with Tomato-Chile Butter & Confetti Corn

This angry lobster recipe is angry because it's been whacked... and I think also because it's simmering in crushed red pepper flakes.  MMMM  You'll need to get the recipe from this Tyler's Ultimate Cookbook link because typing it out is a bit tedious.  Very yummy!!  And beautiful as you see!  I'm very proud to have cooked this.

It was my first time cooking lobster.  The tails were on sale for $2.99 each!  They were small tails but 2 was enough per person.  So exciting!  I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.  Lobster, like all shellfish, is temperamental
 so be careful not to overcook it!

Confetti Corn
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten 
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small orange bell pepper, 1/2-inch diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kernels cut from 5 ears yellow or white corn (4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil, minced fresh chives, and/or minced fresh parsley leaves
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. Stir in the bell pepper and saute for 2 more minutes.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Over medium heat, add the corn, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn just loses its starchiness. Season to taste, gently stir in the basil or other green herbs, and serve hot.

Results: Soooo good!  Perfect complement to the lobster!  I used chives, basil and parsley.  The orange bell peppers were $6.99/lb. at Whole Foods!!!! OUTRAGEOUS!!  A three-pack with orange, yellow & red was still a horrendous $3.99/lb. but I bit the bullet and got that instead.  The first time I try recipes, I try to stick to their conventions.  I experiment the second go round.  I think this will be just as delicious with red bell peppers. 


Week 32, Recipe 1: Black-eyed Pea Salad

So I had this salad for the first time on the 4th of July.  It BLEW. MY. MIND!!! OMG!! WHY IS IT SO GOOD?? HOW DID I NEVER KNOW ABOUT IT!?!  SO SIMPLE! SO DELICIOUS!  I had to have it and I had to make it!  My chef-y mind decided to go for a simple take on an already simple dish for a cookout.  I knew it would be splendiferous!
  • 2 cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 container of fresh salsa (don't go for the jarred, use the ones in plastic tubs in the refrigerated section or make your own)
  • juice of one lime
  • cilantro
  • salt
Combine peas and salsa.  Add lime juice, cilantro and salt to taste. 

Results: A.MA.ZING!!  I LOVED THIS!! And it was a hit with everyone there!  It was referred to by some as, "My favorite dish here."  Woohoo!!   The above photo was taken quite far in the devour-ification of this yumminess! 


Week 31, Recipe 2: Banana Pancakes

Recipe courtesy of Addean1 on allrecipes.com
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil and bananas.
  2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot. 
Results: Eh.  Just okay.  Rashan liked these more than I did.  I think they probably need to be cooked on lower heat.  I added nutmeg and cinnamon-infused sugar.