A few weekends ago, Jeff and I headed out to Lexington to pick up some tickets from his uncle, and we decided to stop at Wilson Farm since we were in the area. I'd only been to Wilson Farm a couple other times back in the fall and loved it there. Apparently everyone else loves it too because it's been crowded every time I've gone -- and this time was no exception.
It's a little different in the spring. The bins of pumpkins and gourds are replaced by potted plants and trees ready to be taken home and planted. (It made me wish even more that we had a yard.) Once we wove our way through the gorgeous spring flowers, we shopped mostly for produce, getting salad items and fruit, and then wandered over to the meat section and picked out some pork chops, chicken breasts, and steak to get us through dinners that week.
Then I started focusing on lunches. I like taking interesting dishes for lunch as opposed to just sandwiches and salads, so when I saw a package of white, orange, and purple cauliflower, I was inspired to incorporate it into a flavorful lunch dish.
When I noticed some tri-color Israeli (or pearl) couscous, the cauliflower plan morphed into a cauliflower couscous recipe.
I grabbed fresh spinach, shallots, and some feta and spinach chicken sausage to round out the meal.
Tri-Color Cauliflower And Couscous
3/4 pound tri-color cauliflower florets, chopped
1 cup tri-color pearl couscous
1 1/4 cups chicken broth, plus 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup more as necessary
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 spinach and feta chicken sausages, thinly sliced
2 cups spinach
Salt and pepper
Fill a medium saucepan with about 1 inch of water, and set a steaming basket in the pan. Add the cauliflower, cover the pan, bring the water to a boil, and steam cauliflower, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups chicken broth to a boil. Add the couscous, and cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute shallots for about 2 minutes.
Add chicken sausage slices, and saute until brown, stirring and turning while cooking.
Lower heat to medium, and stir in cauliflower, and couscous. If needed, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chicken broth to keep everything from sticking.
Add the spinach, and cover and cook on low heat until spinach starts to wilt.
Stir the spinach into the mixture.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
I separated the cauliflower couscous into four containers, so I could take it to work for lunch that week. It rewarms nicely in the microwave.
Have you ever seen something while food shopping that inspires you to suddenly plan a whole meal around it?
Chocolate chip cookies are usually quite a crowd-pleaser and so are cupcakes -- so what happens when you put the two together? You get sweet, rich, decadent chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes.
I saw the recipe for these over on Jen's blog (Beantown Baker) and had to make them the very day I saw them. Technically, the cupcakes are a two-day process because the cookie dough needs to be made, scooped, and then frozen overnight before being baked into the cupcakes, but I have this awful (or is it wonderful?) habit of keeping balls of cookie dough in the freezer so I can bake cookies at a moment's notice. If you're not like me, plan ahead and make your cookie dough the night before you want to bake the cupcakes. I always use The New York Times' chocolate chip cookie recipe, but Jen has an eggless version on her site -- in case you're not okay with the possibility of eating raw eggs. The cookie dough gets really gooey but may not fully bake inside the cupcakes.
I made these cupcakes two ways. For the first batch, I used full-size scoops of cookie dough (1 1/2 tablespoons), and I ended up with large sink holes in my cupcakes.
For the second batch, I tried using smaller scoops of cookie dough (2 teaspoons), and the cupcakes kept their height much better -- and I still thought there was a good cookie dough to cupcake ratio.
You could really go either way because it's easy enough to hide the sink holes with frosting.
And speaking of frosting, the brown sugar frosting that tops these cupcakes tastes just like chocolate chip cookie dough before you add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips. It's really sweet, but I love it! (Maybe this comes from too many years of eating cookie dough.) The chewy mini cookies on top are just an added bonus.
In the future, I plan to make mini cupcakes instead of full-size cupcakes because these are so rich and may be too sweet for some people in such a large portion. A mini would be just right. I have to admit, though, that I ate one for breakfast with a cup of coffee and found that the coffee helped cut the sweetness of the cupcake, so I recommend at least serving these with coffee, if not eating them for breakfast.
Alright, so have I convinced you to make these?
Here's your plan of attack:
- Have your frozen balls of cookie dough ready to go.
- Make the mini cookies for garnish.
- Make the cupcakes.
- Once the cupcakes are cool or nearly cool, whip up the brown sugar frosting.
- Frost and garnish the cupcakes.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes (adapted from Beantown Baker)
Print this recipe
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks softened butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Your favorite cookie dough (or Jen's eggless cookie dough), scooped into balls with a small or medium cookie scoop, and frozen overnight. You'll need 24 balls of dough.
Brown sugar frosting (recipe below)
Mini cookies for garnish (recipe below)
Mini chips or chocolate flakes for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (or line one pan and bake one batch at a time).
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, and set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed until soft, about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, and continue beating on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, and beat for 30 seconds after each, scraping bowl as needed.
Measure out milk and vanilla together.
Add about one-fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture, and beat to combine. Add about one-third of the milk/vanilla mixture, and beat until combined. Repeat, alternating with the flour mixture and the milk mixture, ending with the flour mixture.
Scoop batter into paper liners, fill them about half to three-quarters full. (I used two medium scoops of batter per cup.)
Top each cup with a frozen ball of cookie dough. Press down just slightly to adhere the dough to the batter.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until edges start to turn golden, and toothpick inserted in cupcake (not cookie dough) comes out clean.
|How adorable is this little guy?|
Transfer pans to wire racks to cool. After about 5 minutes (or until cupcakes are cool enough for you to handle), remove cupcakes from tins, and set them on racks to cool completely.
Once the cupcakes are cool, frost them with the brown sugar frosting. Garnish each cupcake with a mini cookie, and sprinkle some mini chocolate chips or chocolate flakes on top.
Store cupcakes in fridge, but serve at room temperature.
Brown Sugar Frosting (adapted from Beantown Baker)
3 sticks softened butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and brown sugar, and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until smooth.
Add in the salt, milk, and vanilla extract, and beat just until smooth and combined.
Use immediately. (I may have been a little heavy-handed, but I didn't have enough frosting for all of the cupcakes, so either go sparingly or make an extra batch.)
Mini Cookies (adapted from Beantown Baker)
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats, and set them aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, and set aside.
In bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Using a small (2-teaspoon) cookie scoop, scoop out a portion of dough. Divide that portion in half, and roll each half into a ball. Place the balls on the prepared cookie sheets at least 1/2 inch apart. Continue until the pans are full. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 6 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool cookies on sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Repeat with any remaining dough.
Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag until ready to use. (These can be made a day ahead, and you'll have lots of extras for snacking on.)
I absolutely adored these cupcakes and can't wait to make them again in mini form. Thanks, Jen, for the recipes and inspiration!
Do you like cupcakes or cookies better?
Hope you all had a wonderful Easter (or a wonderful Sunday if you don't celebrate Easter)! We sure did! Jeff and I got up bright and early on Sunday morning and headed down to the Cape to meet up with my family (who drove up from CT). Both of my sisters were home from school (one from Pittsburgh and one from Ithaca), so it was especially nice to see them, along with my parents, my little brother, and the dogs. We spent the day coloring eggs, playing games, and, of course, feasting. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we couldn't have asked for a better day. Pictures say it best, so here goes...
|I love that first glimpse of the Bourne Bridge on the way to the Cape.|
|The Easter Bunny brought me a little something!|
Can't wait to try the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.
|Let the egg coloring begin!|
|So proud of our handiwork|
|Mud turtle cupcakes|
|My sister's birthday was last Tuesday so we celebrated that too.|
She was actually born on Easter morning... 19 years ago.
|Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.|
We made our way back to Boston in the rain and traffic.
We've got a fridge stocked with leftovers as well as a split pea soup my mom threw together for me, using the ham bone. We also have a lot of hardboiled eggs to eat!
What was your favorite part of the weekend?
Labels: Holiday - Easter