Monday, September 1, 2014

Smoky Bourbon Chicken

Happy Labor Day!!! 

It's a perfect day to get outside, enjoy some family time and fire up the grill.

Need some picnic inspiration?  Give this smoky bourbon chicken a try.  The recipe is from Cook's Country - so you already know it's amazing. 

Smoky Bourbon Chicken
1 1/4 cups bourbon
1 1/4 cups soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 shallot
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons pepper
2 whole chickens
1 cup wood chips
4 wooden skewers

Bring bourbon, soy sauce, sugar, shallot, garlic and pepper to a boil in saucepan.  Cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Set aside 3/4 cup for basting.

With chickens, breast side down, cut through bones on both sides of backbone with kitchen shears.

Flip chickens over and split in half lengthwise.

Cut 1/2 " deep slits across breasts, thighs and legs.

Tuck wings behind backs.  Divide chicken halves between 2 ziploc bags.  Add bourbon mixture, seal bags and refrigerate 1-24 hours.

Remove chicken halves from bags and pat dry with paper towels.  Insert 1 skewer lengthwise through thickest part of breast down through thigh.  Grill chicken, basting every 15 minutes with reserved bourbon mixture.  Cook until temperature registers 165 degrees.

Move chicken to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 15 minutes.

The pictures of my chicken don't really do it justice.  The skin got a little dark on one of the legs but don't let that discourage you from trying it.  It really was tender and juicy and flavorful.  (I don't eat the skin anyway so it doesn't matter to me if it gets a little charred.) 

No matter what your plans are for this 2014 Labor Day, I hope that you enjoy your day to the fullest.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Caramel Frappaccino Cupcakes

Starbucks has mastered the art of creating irresistible drinks that appeal to a massive audience.  Seriously, I can hardly go to a grocery store without small children walking around with Starbucks cups in their hands, adults sipping on hot drinks as they shop and seniors meeting at small tables over Starbucks coffee drinks.  I don't know of any other company has been able to market their products to  - well, EVERYONE.

I also hold Starbucks personally responsible for introducing Americans to a whole new set of words too: Frappaccino, Macchiato, Expresso Con Panna, Dolce Latte, Americano.  Is it just me or does anyone else get nervous in the line at Starbucks line because they don't know how to pronounce half of the words on the menu?

The last time that I was at Starbucks, I ordered a decaf coffee.  A simple, small decaf coffee.  (Which I was informed is referred to as a "tall".)  The barista who took my order absolutely insisted that I change my order to a decaf cafe Americano instead.  She claimed that it would be "INFINITELY" better than a plain old decaf coffee.  (I think she really didn't want to brew a new pot of decaf for me because it was easier to make a decaf expresso, add hot water and call it a decaf Americano.)  


I really wasn't prepared to give my defense for wanting a plain old decaf so I agreed to try the recommended coffee drink.  To be honest, it wasn't terrible but I would have been just as happy with a piping hot cup of plain old decaf.  It's not that I'm opposed to the fancy coffee drinks, I just think they're lost on me.  I'm more of a simple coffee drinker.  

I think that part of my concern with the fancy coffee drinks is the calories and fat.  A white chocolate mocha has a whopping 470 calories and 18 grams of fat!  (Sorry if I just burst your bubble.)  I would much rather EAT those calories than drink them.  My solution - cupcake versions of the famous Starbucks coffee drinks.  

Apparently I am not the first person to come up with this idea because the internet is FULL of cupcake recipes that are a direct result Starbucks restaurant genius.  I chose the Caramel Frappaccino Cupcakes from for my very first Starbucks cupcake. 

Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes


Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix well and scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, beating until combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin tins, filling each about halfway full.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
When finished baking, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; then turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

 Prepare caramel buttercream.

 Prepare caramel sauce.

Cut a hole in the center of each cupcake.

Put a spoonful of caramel in the center of each cupcake.

Pipe buttercream onto each cupcake.

Drizzle with caramel sauce and insert a straw.

Viola.  I've never tried a caramel frappaccino from Starbucks so I can't really tell you how it compares to the drinkable version but I can tell you that the cupcake version is pretty awesome.  The homemade caramel filling and caramel drizzle just puts these cupcakes over the top.

My apologies goes out to Starbucks for the harsh assessment of your restaurant.  I do think that you are a marketing genius --- but I really just wanted a decaf coffee!