the baker upstairs

1.18.2017

Chicken Asparagus Pasta

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This flavorful and delicious chicken and asparagus pasta is the perfect light dinner or lunch for a busy day!

This flavorful and delicious chicken and asparagus pasta is the perfect light dinner or lunch for a busy day!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am the laziest dinner cook ever. I know you would think that since I'm a food blogger, I probably spend all day cooking some amazing and gourmet dinner, but you would be wrong. I put off cooking dinner pretty much every night until the last minute, and even though I usually have a menu plan in place, I almost always go for the easiest option available. Most of what we eat is boring and easy and repetitive, like tacos, sandwiches, or soup from the freezer. One thing my kids love and will always eat happily is pasta. I've even found that I can get them to try new vegetables (such as asparagus) if I serve them in a warm and creamy pasta dish.

This flavorful and delicious chicken and asparagus pasta is the perfect light dinner or lunch for a busy day!

This chicken and asparagus pasta satisfies pretty much all of my criteria for dinner: it's quick, it's easy, it's tasty, it's not terribly unhealthy, and everyone likes it! I love the creamy sauce with the tender asparagus and juicy chunks of chicken. It's perfect for a busy night, since it only takes about thirty minutes to make, and it's one we'll make again and again!
Chicken Asparagus Pasta

1/2 pound rotini pasta
2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half or greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the asparagus to the skillet and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Saute until bright green and tender, then remove from the skillet.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining three tablespoons of butter. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking constantly, followed by the milk and half and half. Let cook until thickened and starting to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, until the parmesan is melted. Return the skillet to the heat and stir in the chicken and asparagus, until heated through. Serve hot and enjoy!
This flavorful and delicious chicken and asparagus pasta is the perfect light dinner or lunch for a busy day!

Originally published on Somewhat Simple

1.16.2017

Golden Butter Waffles

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These amazing homemade golden butter waffles are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and so delicious!

These amazing homemade golden butter waffles are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and so delicious!

Did anyone else get a waffle maker for Christmas? I've been looking for the perfect waffle maker pretty much the entire time I've been married, and have been through quite the series of so-so waffle makers. They always seem to heat unevenly, and the waffles never turn out the way I want. This year I got my sister in law Codie's name in our family gift exchange, and she had a waffle maker on her wish list. I decided it was time to do some actual research and buy a waffle maker with good reviews, instead of just buying whatever cheap crap I came across at Target. After a lot of searching, I found this waffle maker with great reviews on Amazon and bought it for Codie. And then I was immediately jealous that I didn't have one for myself!  Needless to say, I remedied that situation quickly. (Lest you think I'm just very selfish, my husband actually likes it when I choose my own Christmas gifts, because then he knows I get what I really want.) 

These amazing homemade golden butter waffles are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and so delicious!

These golden butter waffles were my first crack at using the new waffle maker, and they turned out awesome! The edges are crisp, the insides are fluffy, and the flavor is perfect. Add a little butter and syrup on the top, and you've got breakfast perfection! I'm sure they would work well in whatever waffle maker you have and love, so don't feel like you need to rush out and buy the one I like if you have one you love instead. I'm just sharing to give you a little tip-off if you, like me, have struggled to find a good waffle maker for nearly fourteen years now. :)
Golden Butter Waffles

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Add the butter and milk to a small bowl or measuring cup, and heat in the microwave for one minute and thirty seconds, or until the butter is melted. whisk in the vanilla and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar, and mix until just combined (small lumps are ok). Let sit five minutes.

While the batter is resting, preheat your waffle iron. Add the batter and cook according to your waffle maker's directions. For my belgian waffle maker, 1 cup of batter cooked for 4 minutes was perfect.

adapted from Like Mother Like Daughter
These amazing homemade golden butter waffles are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and so delicious!

1.13.2017

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

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These luscious and delicious Boston cream pie cupcakes are so fun to make, and gorgeous too!

These luscious and delicious Boston cream pie cupcakes are so fun to make, and gorgeous too!

I know most people don't start spring cleaning until it's actually spring, but for me, January is the time to declutter. I love putting away the Christmas decorations and then cleaning the house top to bottom, giving away or selling anything that doesn't fit or is no longer needed. Sometimes it feels like such a big job, but the reward is so awesome that it's worth the effort. So far this year, I've cleaned out both of the kids' closets and packed away the too-small clothes, organized all of their toys and added correct labels to the toy bins, and organized my pantry. I've also been working on organizing my laptop, which sadly is kind of a mess. In organizing my photos, I came across these photos of these amazing Boston cream pie cupcakes I made forever ago, and I realized I never posted about the deliciousness. It would be a shame not to share, so here they are!

I started with a tender and sweet vanilla cupcake, added a luscious vanilla custard filling, then dipped the whole thing in a silky smooth ganache. They are such a fun combination of flavors and textures, and I love how pretty they look too. They're the perfect treat to cheer you up during these horrible gray winter days. I know it looks like a lot of steps, but I promise they're all pretty easy. If you want to make things even easier, you could fill them with store-bought vanilla pudding instead of the homemade custard (although the homemade custard is amazing!). What's most important is that you make these cupcakes, post haste!
Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold, cut into small cubes
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream or greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla

for the filling/topping:
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warm
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl or a the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the sour cream and vanilla in a measuring cup, and add about half of the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture. Beat until well blended and smooth. Add the other half of the sour cream mixture, and beat until smooth. Fill paper liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the custard filling, in a medium saucepan off the heat, whisk together the vanilla, egg yolks, and sugar, until the mixture is light yellow. Add the flour and mix to combine, making sure there are no lumps. Add the warm milk slowly, whisking constantly. Heat the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. Cook one minute, continuing to whisk, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the custard and cool to room temperature.

To make the ganache, add the chocolate chips to a medium bowl. Heat the cream to boiling on the stove or in the microwave, and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit five minutes, then stir until smooth. To assemble the cupcakes, cut a small circle in the center of the top of each cooled cupcake (I used a sharp knife, but you could also use an apple corer or melon baller). Add a spoonful of custard filling, then replace the top. Dip the top of the cupcake into the ganache, then let cool until set.
These luscious and delicious Boston cream pie cupcakes are so fun to make, and gorgeous too!
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