Vanilla Cupcakes

  1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  3 large eggs
  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin)
  1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  1/4 tsp salt
  1/4 cup milk
  Confectioners (Butter cream) Frosting:
  2 cups confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
  1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  2 tbls milk or light cream
  Food colors (if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon zest, flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
6. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 17 - 20 minutes or just until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. 
7. Do not over bake or the cupcakes will be dry. 
8. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. 
9. If you want flat topped cupcakes then slice off the dome of each cupcake, with a sharp knife, before frosting. 
10. If you want to pipe the frosting, I like to use a large Wilton 1M star decorating tip. 
11. Cupcakes are best eaten the same day they are made, but they can be covered and stored for a few days.

Confectioners (Butter cream) Frosting: 

1. In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. 
2. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. 
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
4. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). 
5. Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed. 
6. Tint the frosting with desired food color 

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Chicken Salad Pitas

  1 cup plain whole-milk Yogurt
  2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  1 cup chopped red bell pepper 
  3 cups chopped cooked chicken 
  1/2 cup chopped pitted green olives 
  1/2 cup diced red onion 
  1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
  6 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, cut in half 
  12 Bibb lettuce leaves 
  6 (1/8-inch-thick) slices tomato, cut in half 

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. 
2. Combine chicken and next 5 ingredients (through chickpeas) in a large bowl. 
3. Add yogurt mixture to chicken mixture; toss gently to coat. 
4. Line each pita half with 1 lettuce leaf and 1 tomato piece.
5. Add 1/2 cup chicken mixture to each pita half.


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