Category Archives: kitchen equipment

Kiwi Vanilla Cupcakes with Kiwi Buttercream Frosting

Do your lips pucker up at the mention of a kiwi? Maybe it’s just me… All too often I’ve eaten sour kiwis, especially in the winter, no matter how long I let them ripen on the counter. Luckily in the summer, sour kiwis aren’t a problem, and in fact I ended up with a surplus of ripe kiwis recently. So I’m excited to be sharing with you some refreshing kiwi vanilla cupcakes with kiwi buttercream frosting that taste just like eating a ripe kiwi, and hopefully you’ll have a chance to try it out before the summer is over!

Kiwi vanilla cupcakes with kiwi buttercream frosting

When my box of kiwis from the wholesale club decided to all ripen at the same time, my gut instinct was to make kiwi cupcakes. But having never done it before, and given that kiwis have quite a bit of moisture to them, I looked to the internet for guidance. As it turns out, not too many people have done straight up kiwi cupcakes with kiwi frosting. Almost all the posts I saw were strawberry kiwi cupcakes, which sounded great, but I didn’t have any strawberry. I ultimately ended up combining two recipes: a strawberry cupcake base that substitutes kiwi for the strawberry, and a delicious-looking kiwi buttercream recipe that uses the surprising ingredient salt for a great kiwi flavor. It was important to me that the kiwi flavor would come through in both the cupcake base and the frosting, and I loved the idea of having flecks of the jewel green kiwi fruit and black seeds throughout.

I also recently purchased a set of fluted silicone cupcake liners, in the hopes that I would be to save money on cupcake liners when I’m baking for myself or small parties, since I never seem to have cupcake liners on hand when I want to use them.  The interesting part was being able to pop out the finished cupcakes from the silicone cups without needing to grease them, they came out like magic! I also liked the smooth fluted sides of the cupcakes that looked so neat and clean compared to the crumbs and mess that comes with peeling back a paper liner.

Cupcakes slide neatly out of the silicone cupcake liners

Unfortunately, the lesson learned is that silicone is neither good for heat retention nor heat conduction, so my cupcakes took WAY longer to bake than they should and ended up getting very browned on the tops and bottoms before the inside was even cooked through. When they were finally done, the taste was still wonderful, just the tops were a bit over-done with all that extra time. The silicone was a huge disappointment, so I think I will go back to using regular paper liners. Alas, we were not meant to be. I suppose I’ll hide the silicone liners away until I find another use for them that doesn’t involve heat and baking. I bet they’ll be good as molds for things like gelatins, mousses, and no-bake cheesecakes.

Kiwi vanilla cupcakes with kiwi buttercream frosting



Kiwi Vanilla Cupcakes with Kiwi Buttercream Frosting (makes 1 dozen)

Cupcake base recipe adapted from Trilogy Edibles
Frosting recipe adapted from Sideways Sweet

Ingredients:

Cupcake base:

  • 1-2 whole fresh kiwis (enough to make 1/3 cup of mashed kiwi)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • slightly over 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites

Frosting:

  • 1 whole fresh kiwi, mashed
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • slightly over 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • a pinch or two of sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners (I do NOT recommend using silicone liners).

2. Peel the 3 kiwis you will need for the cupcakes and frosting, and mash them well using a fork, trying to break up large chunks. See the consistency of the mashed kiwi below for reference. If your kiwi is not soft enough to mash with a fork, puree it in a food processor or blender. You will use 1/3 cup of the mashed kiwi for the cupcakes, and the remainder can be set aside for the frosting.

Mashed kiwi

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt for the cupcake base. In another small bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla, and the 1/3 cup mashed kiwi.

4. In a large bowl, cream the 1 stick of butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, then add sugar and continue beating until fluffy. Turn down the speed to medium and blend in egg and egg whites until just blended.

5. Turn mixer to low speed and add half the flour mixer, mixing briefly until just blended. Then add the milk and kiwi mixture, blend briefly until just combined. Finally add remaining half of the flour mixture, scrape down sides of bowl, and finish mixing just until blended.

6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, and bake for 22-25 minutes until tops are golden and just dry to the touch, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (If you so happen to be using silicone muffin cup liners, you may need to add an extra 10-15 minutes of bake time on top of this.) Remove from oven and cool thoroughly before frosting. If using silicone liners, remove them as soon as the cupcakes have cooled just enough to handle.

Batter in silicone baking cups

Kiwi vanilla cupcakes at end of original baking time – centers still raw in the silicone baking cups, but probably what yours will look like if baked in regular paper liners

The cupcakes after another 15 minutes in the oven, finally cooked through but clearly overbrowned using the silicone liners!

7. Make the frosting: Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add approx 3-5 tbsp of mashed kiwi to the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and blend well. You can always add more kiwi but you can’t take it back once it’s in there. Just make sure the mixture is still light and fluffy and doesn’t become watery. Now add vanilla and confectioner’s sugar, and blend thoroughly.  Stop to taste the frosting, making note of the degree of sour versus sweet. The final step is to add the salt and mix well, and taste again.

Kiwi buttercream frosting

The frosting flavor should really round out and come together at the end, without being too sweet or too sour. You won’t taste the salt, but it will balance out the kiwi and the sugar so that the uniqueness of the kiwi flavor shines through. I swear the frosting tastes so addictive and refreshing, like a perfectly ripe kiwi, mmm!

Kiwi vanilla cupcakes with kiwi buttercream frosting

These cupcakes are best the day of, and look beautifully summery when garnished with slices of kiwi. The frosting comes out a very pale pastel green, with flecks of the black kiwi seeds throughout. You’ll find the kiwi pairs surprisingly well with the buttery vanilla in the cupcake, brightened up by the bold kiwi flavor in the frosting. I couldn’t believe how fresh of a taste it was, considering how rare it is to hear about kiwi cupcakes as a concept. Everyone who had one of these asked for a second, which must be a good sign right? ;) I know I’ll be making these again and again when I have all those extra kiwis in the summertime!

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Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken

One of the best kitchen investments I have ever made is the slow cooker that I bought this year. Allow me for a moment to sing its praises… For a mere $11, a lovely 4-quart slow cooker was shipped to my door (a slick deal indeed!) Since that day, I have been salivating over all the delicious things I can make effortlessly in a slow cooker, all without turning on a stove or stepping outside my dorm room. It is the best appliance ever for a busy student like me, as well as for anyone out there who would love to have hot, homemade food without spending time cooking. You rarely have to check on the dish either, since slow cookers keep the liquids from evaporating, so food does not dry up and burn. The longer you cook meat in a slow cooker, the more tender it gets, until eventually it just falls right off the bone. In fact, I always have to prevent myself from constantly opening the lid to check up on the wonderful stuff stewing in my slow cooker, since opening it releases heat and slows down the cooking process. But… when my slow cooker sits in the same dorm room that I live in… it is impossible not to gravitate towards the delicious smells that fill my room! Also, since slow cookers are, by definition, cookers that cook slowly with low heat, I often like to take advantage of the nighttime, to cook in my slow cooker while I am sleeping! (Genius, if I do say so myself). With so many recipes calling for a cook time of 6-8 hours, it is ridiculously easy to throw the ingredients into the slow cooker before bed, and wake up to a pot of food that I can eat for lunch and dinner that day, all without spending time cooking over a stove. Yes, I am absolutely in love with my slow cooker.

slow cooker thai peanut chicken

In fact, my love for my slow cooker grew ever more when I discovered the blog “A Year of Slow Cooking“, by Stephanie O’Dea. She challenged herself to cook with a slow cooker for 365 days, and the recipes that she blogged about propelled her overnight into a slow cooker superstar. She now has two slow cooker recipe books published, and is essentially an internet celebrity. These recipes opened my eyes to just how much I could do with a slow cooker, and offered me tons of mouth-watering ideas as I was getting acquainted with my slow cooker. One of the first recipes I made with my slow cooker was this Thai peanut chicken that I adapted from Stephanie. My chicken was falling off the bone, and melt-in-your-mouth. The peanut sauce was balanced between the creamy taste of peanut butter and the savory flavor of soy sauce and hoisin sauce, and was awesome with rice. I am definitely addicted to the sauce! Such a yummy, hearty chicken dish that required so little effort… now that’s what I’m talkin’ about :)

slow cooker thai peanut chicken



Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken (makes 4-6 servings, uses a 4-quart slow cooker)

Recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (may also use drumsticks, or mix and match!)
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green), sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2  medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • (optional) freshly chopped scallions for garnish

Directions:

1. Stir together lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, chicken broth, hoisin sauce, and curry powder. The peanut butter doesn’t have to be completely well-dissolved, but do your best. Set sauce aside. Prepare vegetables.

prepared ingredients and sauce

2. Place sliced garlic at bottom of 4-quart slow cooker. Place chicken thighs on top, spreading them out to cover the bottom of the cooker. Add potatoes next, and finally the peppers and the onions. Pour prepared sauce into slow cooker.

slow cooker loaded up and ready to cook

3. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, then increase heat to high for 2 hours. (Or you may cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours). Stir contents once or twice after initial 4 hours, but refrain from opening lid to check on the dish!

don't open the lid!

4. Adjust sauce for taste at the end as needed. If you would like a thicker sauce (which I always like), you may remove the chicken and boil the sauce on high with the lid off, or add a cornstarch slurry and allow to boil on high with the lid on until thickened. Serve over rice, top with freshly chopped scallions and enjoy! Mmmm!

a second batch that I made with red peppers

slow cooker thai peanut chicken


The cutest apron!

Thank goodness I’m finally done with my board exam, I can finally write again :) For a while now I’ve been meaning to write about these really cute aprons that I saw. I had the website bookmarked and then it slipped my mind, until recently I was cleaning out my bookmarks and saw it again. The company is called Flirty Aprons, and they have a whole assortment of various styles that range from sweet and classy to sassy. I fell in love with this pink floral apron:

"Chic pink" apron

So pretty! I love how it looks like a summer dress instead of a boring or frumpy apron, especially with that lovely bow (I am a sucker for bows on dresses and clothes, such a sweet feminine touch!) One thing I absolutely cannot pull off is looking nice while working in the kitchen. I know, I can’t believe I just admitted that. But it’s true… I’m always worried that I’ll spill something or get flour on my clothes, so I head into the kitchen with my t-shirts that I don’t particularly care about. A cute little apron like this would make me feel so much more like one of those kitchen goddesses on the Food Network that are always making food and still dressed like they’re ready to entertain guests! Now all I need is my own kitchen to sashay around in… so this apron is definitely going on my wishlist for when I get my own apartment :)


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