Walnut Encrusted Honey Dijon Salmon

The pervasive expectation that women should absorb the role of June Cleaver the dutiful housewife sank long ago, but a blind eye shouldn’t be turned to the fact that a woman’s approach to preparing food can actually say a lot about her (calm your bra burnin’ britches– this sentiment merely suggests that I’ve noticed a few sociological patterns corresponding to ways in which women get their cook on).

The Mistress of the Microwave: She piles her grocery cart high with Hot Pockets, Lean Cuisines, and everything fuss-free. Once home, she stores her loot in oversized freezers meant for deer carcasses because the average freezer isn’t built for women of her kind. Often overworked and exhausted, she lets her loyalties lie with the things that matter to her, none of which include food prep that requires effort beyond punching numbers on a keypad and removing plastic wrap. Just because her eating habits are low maintenance doesn’t mean she is.

The Eggs-n-Bacon Babe She’s great with the staples: eggs and bacon, mac and cheese, pasta and canned marinara. She gets an “A” for effort, but lacks inspiration across the board. She sees food as fuel, and doesn’t concern herself with variety or experimentation (caution: may hold true in other domains of her life as well). She tends to be a rule follower, and rarely goes above and beyond the call of duty to impress anyone. She sticks to what she knows and what she’s good at.

The Fad Diet Punisher: She hops from fad diet to fad diet like a frog diagnosed with ADHD, proclaiming her love for the flavor of the week (Shakeology, juice cleanse, gluten-free, grapefruit– you name it) by making her loved ones suffer right along with her. Her admirable desire to be healthy manifests in semi-neurotic ways, and she has a difficult time hiding her vanity. She is hard-working and dedicated– until something better or more promising comes around. Her kitchen pantry is decidedly one-note, showcasing whatever the moment’s commitment is and nothing more. What if you try to break free of her diet plan Shawshank Redemption style? Expect her to go heavy on the shaming, complete with a carefully crafted mini funeral pyre for that last unopened bag of Cheetos you tried to hide from her. Watch out, kids, mommy’s on a juicing bender!

The Spice Girl (Wannabe): She speaks fluent culinary jargon, dines at the finest restaurants, and has a (never-been-used) sous vide immersion cooker on full display in her pristine kitchen, but when it comes to skills, her presentation doesn’t match her performance. She’s passionate and eager to learn, but looks like an awkward duck while attempting to julienne an onion. Her hubris and desire to impress are at times obnoxious, but forgiven in the name of education. She has so much room for growth, and she’s determined to fill the gap (even though she won’t admit the former OR the latter part of that statement).

The Ina Garten: She’s a masterful cook. And she will instantly make you feel insecure about your own culinary aptitude. She experiments like a mad scientist, pushing the envelop to create amazing things with the freshest ingredients money can buy. She can often be found in her natural habitat (the kitchen) doing what she does best. She is a rare breed in reality and exists ALMOST exclusively on the Food Network. She is not immune to failure, but even her kitchen fails tend to be prettier/tastier/better than some of your finest kitchen achievements.

Whatever your approach to cooking, I believe that every woman (and man!) should have one recipe she keeps stuffed in her back pocket for those times she wants to elicit the “wow factor” without spending hours agonizing in her kitchen. This recipe should be deceptively simple, delicious, appealing to the eye, impressive, and easily memorizable. You don’t need to be an Ina to produce it, but it certainly requires more effort than slapping a box on a dirty microwave turntable.

The following recipe is that “one” for me. It’s a fool-proof tastebud pleaser that draws fans back for seconds. The hardest part is waiting for the oven to hit 400 degrees.

Walnut Encrusted Honey Dijon Salmon

Walnut Encrusted Honey Dijon Salmon

Serves 4 (or two hungry hungry hippos)

4 fresh salmon filets (with skin on botton)
Salt and pepper to season
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
2 heaping Tablespoons coursely ground dijon mustard
2 heaping Tablespoons lavender honey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 lemon

Salmon

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper

2. Place salmon filets skin side down on the foil/parchment

3. Season filets with salt and pepper (use your hands to rub seasoning into the meat for greater depth of flavor)

4. In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, dijon mustard, and honey

5. Generously coat the tops and sides of filets with the wet ingredient mixture

6. In a separate bowl, mix together bread crumbs and walnuts

7. Sprinkle dry ingredient mixture over filets until fully covered

8. Bake salmon for about 15 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily with a fork (since salmon filets often vary in thickness, it’s very important to check salmon periodically after about 12 minutes have passed; some filets may cook through more quickly than others!)

9. Use a knife to remove the skin before eating

10. Slice lemon into wedges and squeeze juice lightly over filets

11. Serve with remaining lemon wedges

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Truluck’s: Some of Southwest Florida’s Finest Seafood

Truluck’s: Some of Southwest Florida’s Finest Seafood

698 4th Avenue South, Naples, Florida

698 4th Avenue South, Naples, Florida

Southwest Florida is a prime destination for retirees and winter-weary Northerners looking for soul-warming sunshine and fine dining worth dying for. With gulf waters teeming with finned wild life, it’s no shock that fresh seafood is one of the region’s hottest edible commodities.

If you want the real deal, look no further than Truluck’s in Naples. Truluck’s combines a vibrant bar scene with an upscale-but-hardly-pretentious dining area boasting big, open windows that allow salty ocean air to weave and meander its way through the restaurant like an invisible thread of Southern hospitality.

Truluck’s is nestled right in the heart of charming downtown Naples; if you’re not a local Floridian, I recommend giving yourself a little extra time before or after your reservation to wander the area (it’s one of those special places where the car sightings are even better than the people watching).

The lights of downtown Naples, Florida.

The lights of downtown Naples, Florida.

Inside you’ll find tables covered in white linen and walls adorned with a few prize catches (sorry, no Big Mouth Billy Bass here, just a pretty sailfish and his cohorts). The waitstaff is nothing short of attentive, and the menu is stacked with a fabulous selection of seafood (some local, some flown in daily from elsewhere– always fresh).

Menu standouts…

Lobster Bisque: Undeniably rich and well-seasoned, this just might be the most delectable cup of soup you’ll ever try (no, I’m not even being hyperbolic right now). Take a moment to imagine this in your mind’s eye: a generous chunk of lobster sits delicately at the center of the cup as a steady-handed server pours the piping hot bisque over it in front of you. The pouring presentation offers more than just aesthetic appeal: it releases an aromatic mix of cream, boiled lobster, and pops of black pepper. The scent fills your nasal cavity as if to offer a momentary sensory prelude to the bisque obliteration about to ensue.  Blissful and entirely too good to share.

Florida Stone Crab: No description necessary. Crack ‘em and dunk ‘em.

Miso-Glazed Chilean Seabass: The seabass is flaky and light, yet full of sweet and zesty Asian-influenced flavor. The crab fried rice and cucumber slaw are perfect complementary sides, respectively warm and chilled, aligning with the the fish’s Eastern notes.

Carrot Cake: Homemade. Gargantuan. Topped with candied pecans. Drizzled with sweet, sweet caramel sauce. Layered and smothered with the perfectly tempered sweetness of cream cheese frosting. Built for multiple forks. If cakes were dinosaurs, this would be an Argentinosaurus.

A wedge of carrot cake fit for a family of four.

A wedge of carrot cake fit for a family of four.

*Truluck’s has a handful of additional locations as well, so if Naples isn’t in your future, be sure to check out one of their other spots!

Some additional Southwest Florida honorable mentions…

Greasy spoon breakfast spot: Lighthouse Cafe on Sanibel Island, FL. Bike the whole island, then gorge yourself on coconut french toast or pancakes in order to compensate for all the calories you burned.

Italian cuisine done right: Angelina’s in Bonita Springs, FL. Homemade cannoli and dishes seasoned with herbs pulled straight from the herb garden in the restaurant’s courtyard.

Legendary ice cream shop: Royal Scoop in Bonita Springs, FL. Animal cracker toppers, always.

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Coconut Cream Sandwiches

Deadly sin #5: Envy

It’s no secret that I’ve envied many of the well-established food blogs for their crisp, clear, and perfectly composed food porn. Cyberspace is completely over-saturated with enthusiastic bakers and cooks wanting to share their recipes, and photo quality (not linguistic aptitude) is the measure employed to separate the legitimate from the bastardly.

Shamefully, since it’s conception, Kailley’s Kitchen has fallen under the latter category.

No matter how hard you try, it’s just never going to be easy to entice your audience to bake your recipes and visit the restaurants you review when you photograph them with an iPhone 4S. Elite food porn websites like Food Gawker and Taste Spotting will decline 95% of the photos you submit because the “lighting” and “sharpness” of your photos do not meet or exceed the status quo. Without a DSLR and/or an ideal lighting setup, you’re a permanent fixture on the B-team’s splinter-infested bench.

After months of sticking pins in virtual food blog voodoo dolls, I decided to wash the green off my skin and invest in a shiny new camera of my own (fancy accoutrements not included, but imminent).

From gawky rookie status to breaking in the big girl underoos, Kailley’s Kitchen is on a mission to overhaul its current sophomoric web design and content in order to create something wholly better. It starts here with better photos (okay, so the “auto mode” training wheels are still on, but progress is a process), and ends in the near future with a completely revamped look (thanks to a devoted supporter/computer whizkid).

Stay tuned!

Coconut Cream Sandwiches

Coconut Cream Sandwiches

For the cookies (makes 20-24 cookies or 10-12 sandwiches):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the coconut cream filling:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream of coconut
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

…sprinkles are optional but strongly encouraged!

  • Coconut Cream SandwichesPreheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside
  • Cream butter and sugar in an mixer until light and fluffy
  • With mixer running on the lowest setting, add egg, milk, and vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated
  • Leave mixer running and slowly add dry ingredients
  • Shape dough into 1-inch balls, flatten, and place about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheet
  • Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes
  • Transfer cookies to wire rack and allow to cool completely
  • While cookies are cooling, use hand-held beaters to cream butter and shortening until smooth
  • Add cream of coconut, powdered sugar, and shredded coconut and beat
  • Spoon a generous dollop of filling onto the flat side of a cookie, cover with another cookie to complete sandwich; repeat with remaining cookies
  • If desired, top sandwiches with additional dollop of filling and finish off with sprinkles
  • Store in an airtight container in freezer for up to two weeks
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Kuma’s Too: Not Suitable for Vegetarians

Kuma’s Corner is arguably one of the most legendary late-night feeding troughs in Chicago. On February 13th, 2013, it hatched a new weapon of gastronomic mass destruction: Kuma’s Too.

Kneel before your master.

Kneel before your master.

Bigger, better, and more badass than its predecessor, Kuma’s Too brings its magical marriage of meaty monstrosities and metal mayhem to the edge of East Lakeview and Lincoln Park at (yes, you read correctly) 666 W. Diversey. It’s not quite the “cheeseburger in paradise” Jimmy Buffet had envisioned…

666 W. Diversey: Welcome to Hell.

666 W. Diversey: Omnes relinquite spex, o vos intrantes.

Kuma’s Too does not concern itself with being trendy or chic, nor does it have much consideration for the safety and well-being of your tympanic membranes. To care would be decidedly “un-metal,” and let’s face it, this place is anything but.

Inside, the walls are washed in hues best fit for the inner chasms of Hell: harsh and unrelenting orange, and lined with quasi-vintage metal posters from the Golden Era of blistering sound (think: Pantera, Slayer, Iron Maiden, and pre- “St. Anger” Metallica). Music ricochets off the walls, creating an ambient noise salute to those days of old. Don’t even bother crossing the threshold between the sidewalk and the restaurant entryway unless you’re prepared for your ears to bleed like sacrificial lambs; the musical selection is louder, faster, and heavier than any of the “house” music blaring from speakers inside those dime-a-dozen River North night clubs.

Like a crown perfectly poised atop the head of a monarch, a repurposed skateboard with “Bacon” painted across its face hangs right above the doors to the kitchen. It was then that I knew I was knee-deep in a greasy love affair with Kuma’s Too.

Crowning glory.

South of Heaven.

Reading the menu at Kuma’s Too is a more-delightful-than-usual experience for a couple reasons: A clear and concise description of how you can ask for your burger to be cooked (yep, you can order it bloody and still mooing), and “THERE ARE NO VEGAN OPTIONS ON KUMA’S MENU” is written in bold typeface at the bottom of the first page. Also, there’s a variety of macaroni and cheese offerings and a list of burgers each named after metal bands.

Kaijo Burger: Thick and juicy patty, bacon, bleu cheese, and frizzled onions.

Kaijo Burger: Thick and juicy patty, bacon, bleu cheese, and frizzled onions.

Kuma’s burgers are designed for those with appetites. Extra perks? The ketchup on the side is mixed with sweet and tangy relish, and the potato chips are home fried.

The Famous Kuma Burger: Medium-rare patty, bacon, and fried egg.

The Famous Kuma Burger: Medium-rare patty, bacon, cheddar, and fried egg.

A few rules of thumb:

1. Do not enter Kuma’s if hungover.

2. Be prepared to wait. If you wait, stay close by.

3. PBO (pretzel buns only).

4. Try the Slayer. Thank me later.

4. Headbanging is encouraged.

5. Bacon for the bitches.

Feast, my children, like there’s no tomorrow.

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Romantic Eats: Iced Sugar Cookies and Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

The word “romantic” holds different meanings for different people. Maybe it’s a long walk on the beach in the company of a man named Fabio (complete with untamed mane and Sasquatch-sized hands). Or perhaps it’s watching the original Star Wars trilogy with your honey while donning matching Snuggies. If you’re a real academic stick in the mud, maybe the only relevance it holds to you is that it’s an artistic and intellectual movement that sprang to life in the 1800s as a quixotic response to neoclassicism.

The point is, its meaning is open to interpretation. Sure, there are social and cultural constructs that help fit “romantic” into a rose petal-laden heart-shaped box, but as the old saying goes, “one [wo]man’s 50 Shades of Gray is another [wo]man’s horse head scene from the Godfather.”

Despite their philosophical differences, the strawberries and champagne types and the scroogiest of scrooges can agree on one thing: the right food can melt even the coldest of hearts into a puddle of starry-eyed love.

Early scientific studies show that these carefully concocted recipes may dramatically reduce divorce rates while simultaneously upping your chances of a lifetime of being lucky in love. So, unless you’ve settled into the idea of growing up to be a haggard old spinster, you ought to turn your oven on and get baking– your love life depends on it.

Iced Sugar Cookies

Iced Sugar Cookies

For the cookies (makes 2-3 dozen, depending on shape and size):

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened (NOT melted)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (slightly less than 1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For the icing:

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 to 4 Tablespoons whole milk (plus more for consistency)
Food coloring (optional)

Who says nights like these need to be limited to Valentine's, birthdays, and anniversaries?

Who says nights like these need to be limited to Valentine’s, birthdays, and anniversaries?

For the cookies–

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Cream together butter and sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy

3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each

4. Add vanilla and almond extracts and mix

5. Add lemon zest and mix

6. Add baking powder, salt, and half of the flour, mix well

7. Add remaining half of flour and mix until fully incorporated

8. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (otherwise it will be too soft to work with)

9. Dust counter with powdered sugar (or flour, but I prefer the sugar for a little extra zing of sweetness) and roll out dough with a rolling pin

10. Use cookie cutters to cut rolled dough into shapes and carefully lift onto parchment-lined baking sheet

11. Bake for 7-8 minutes (they won’t turn golden brown on top, but trust me, they’re done!)

12. Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire rack

For the icing–

1. Mix powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup and food coloring together with a hand-held beater

2. Slowly add more milk until desired consistency is reached

3. Spread onto cookies (this icing tends to flow and expand a bit, so you’ll find you won’t need as much as you think!)

4. Let harden before storing cookies

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

1 pound fresh strawberries (remember, bigger doesn’t always mean better)
8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese (full fat!)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1. First things first: rinse and dry berries well

2. Using a paring knife, carefully cut off the tops of the berries and hull out their centers (you can cut a small piece of the bottoms as well, if you’d like them to stand upright)

Ready to get stuffed...

Ready to get stuffed…

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar and until smooth

4. Spoon cheesecake mixture into a piping bag and pipe into each strawberry

5. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and serve (or refrigerate until serving)

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Works great with raspberries, too!

Works great with raspberries, too!

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Best Sushi in Chicago: Sushi Dokku

If you’re a sushi aficionado living in the Chicagoland area, I’m going to assume you were about as devastated as I was when the legendary Sushi Wabi on Randolph was closing in the spring of 2012. That cataclysmic loss sent me on my not-so-merry way through the seven stages of grief. The shock and denial lasted longer than it should have, and there was a period of time where I felt like my life no longer held meaning so long as a gaping void stood where Wabi once was. At long last, however, I made it to the acceptance and hope phase, during which time I began wishing on stars, two at a time, that a restaurant would surface that does sushi as well as Wabi did it.

Then one day, the dedicated masterminds behind my late, great sushi haven collaborated to open Sushi Dokku. Just a hop, skip, and a jump across the street from Sushi Wabi’s vacated home, Sushi Dokku joins the likes of Girl & the Goat and Nellcôte on what some have called West Loop’s slice of hipster Disneyland: Randolph Street.

Sushi Dokku’s storefront is very understated, reflecting the often under-appreciated and under-represented restaurant philosophy of “minimalist design, dynamic food.”

Inside, Sushi Dokku is equally minimalist in its décor. The bar area is heavy on the stainless steel, tossing a nod to West Loop’s industrial chic quality. Clear-front refrigerators situated at eye level flaunt an impressive bevy of tonics and elixirs designed to get you tipsy. The ceiling sports dark blue wooden planks arranged to replicate fishing docks projecting out into the coastal waters of Japan– virtual thoroughfares for fresh-caught fish to complete the transformation process from fisherman’s prize on the hook to a plated chef d’oeuvre garnished with pickled ginger and wasabi.

Unlike many Japanese restaurants in Chicago, Sushi Dokku’s menu is short and sweet. It may not have a list of maki that spans four pages, but what it lacks in prolific options it makes up for in a carefully selected shortlist of some of the finest morsels of food you’ll ever stick in your mouth.

Fire Roll: Tempura salmon, tobiko, and kaiware (radish sprout).

The Fire maki is a throwback off the old Wabi menu, and has been a longtime favorite of mine. The presentation is always impeccable, the heat is enough to tantalize your tongue without the need to gulp water, and the salmon is tempura fried to perfection.

Godzilla Roll: Tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, tobiko, and sesame seeds and oil

Godzilla Roll: Tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, tobiko, and sesame seeds and oil

If you want something rich in flavor, order the Godzilla roll. You will annhiliate it.

Panko Onion Roll: Garlic mayonnaise , onion, avocado, red onion, and micro greens

Panko Onion Roll: Garlic mayonnaise, onion, avocado, red onion, and micro greens

The Panko Onion roll is basically a glorious Japanese onion ring rolled up into elegant maki. Sushi Dokku offers several great vegetarian options, making it perfect for the meat-eating impaired. Yes, gentlemen, you can bring your pleather-wearing-bleeding-heart-vegan lady friend for a nice date night out– even SHE will find something she loves here.

Tuna and Microgreens Roll: Tuna, microgreens, avocado, and black pepper unagi sauce

Tuna and Microgreens Roll: Tuna, microgreens, avocado, and black pepper unagi sauce

The Tuna and Microgreens roll might win the award for “most-innovative-yet-simple” offering on the menu. Plump pieces of velvety tuna and fresh, crunchy microgreens never tasted so good as they do now, laden in black pepper unagi sauce. A quick dip in some soy sauce and you’ll swear you’ve just had a spiritual awakening.

Tuna and Microgreens Roll

Tuna and Microgreens Roll

End the night with dessert. Sushi restaurants aren’t typically known for aprés sushi sweets, but you’ll be sad you missed out if you don’t order the Fuji apple ice cream served atop a warm slab of spiced cake alllll drenched in thick, melted caramel.

Fuji apple dessert.

Fuji apple dessert.

The food coma will be worth it. Sweet dreams.

Check out Sushi Dokku’s website for directions, a detailed menu, and reservation information.

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Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes: A Super Bowl Tradition

Outside of organized religion, nothing seems so steeped in tradition– both the heartwarming and the inexplicable– as the wide world of sports.

I was raised in a household where the name Michael Schumacher meant a whole lot more than Michael Jordan, and Super Bowls and World Series came and went with little or no acknowledgement. When I wasn’t catching bits and pieces of taped Formula One races with my dad, I was scouring the Outdoor Life Network (hey, Canada, does it even still exist?!) on Dish for broadcastings of show jumping events hosted at Spruce Meadows. Though some might ignorantly beg to differ, both auto racing and horseback riding are sports– each with their respective traditions.

For racing, it’s the smell of brake dust and high octane racing fuel on Sundays at the Monaco Grand Prix. The vibrant podium ceremonies. Strong European influence (and domination). Unrelenting reverence for Senna. To understand it, read Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. No one can do justice to the enthralling mystique of racing like Enzo can.

For riding, it’s the smell of freshly oiled leather and sweet hay lingering in the cold air after a morning schooling before a show. The tall boots and the jacket and the braided manes and tails. Rich military roots. The partnership between man and beast

For a long time, that’s as far as my understanding of the sports world extended. Frankly, half-way into writing this post, I questioned my qualifications to even discuss this topic in a public forum for fear I might embody the unfortunate “chicks don’t get sports” stereotype. Indulge me.

Eventually, I actively engaged in a lesser known strain of seasonal affective disorder: Chicago Cub fan-dom. Every baseball season marks a brief cultivation of new-found hope and then an anticipated swan dive into pure misery. This adopted identity, and by extension, this disorder, often make me wonder about the nature of the apparent cognitive dissonance I was experiencing (consciously or unconsciously) while pledging my allegiance to the boy wonders (read: lovable losers) of Wrigley Field.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Cubbies are a century-old enigma of Major League Baseball. When you’re not scarfing Vienna beef hot dogs and tipping and spilling your Old Style while singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the 7th inning stretch, you’re whispering quiet little affirmations to yourself that “next year is our year.” If only the tradition of losing weren’t so deeply embedded into the team’s framework…

However, the big bad granddaddy of money-makin’ sporting traditions is (obviously) the Super Bowl. Every year, the event seeks to outdo itself in every possible way. Anyone who tells you “it’s all about the game” is a misguided fool; the Super Bowl is anything BUT all about the game. It’s 3.8 million dollar commercials and half-time extravaganzas (sans wardrobe malfunctions) and electrical mishaps and bigger-is-better grease-and-sugar-fest food. This year proved no different. Except for the fact I actually teared up while watching this year’s Budweiser ad.

In case you missed it…

Thank you, Budweiser, for making sure my eyes stay well-hydrated.

A couple years ago, these cupcakes became a new Super Bowl tradition. Everyone has their own way of honoring the big game, and this is mine. Suffice it to say, not one went unclaimed.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

Cinnamon Toast Crunch CupcakesFor the cupcakes (makes 14-18):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the buttercream:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (NOT melted)
4 ounces (half brick) cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream (or more for desired consistency)
Cinnamon and sugar and Cinnamon Toast Crunch squares to top

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with liners

2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and cinnamon until light and fluffy

3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between each

4. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and extract and mix until just combined (don’t overmix!)

5. Add milk and vegetable oil and mix until just combined

6. Spoon batter into cupcake liners and fill each 2/3 full

7. Bake for 16-18 minutes until slightly golden, then allow to cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

— buttercream —

1. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed in an electric mixer for about one minute

2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating well between each

3. Add crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and beat (make sure cereal has been pulverized to a fine dust, first!)

4. Add vanilla extract and beat

5. Add 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream and beat. Continue adding more, one Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached (be VERY careful it doesn’t get too liquid-y!)

6. Spoon frosting into a piping bag (or piping gun, if you’re feeling feisty) and pipe onto cooled cupcakes

7. Dust with cinnamon and sugar, and place a Cinnamon Toast Crunch square on top right before serving!

8. Place in large airtight container (make sure it’s deep enough so the frosting isn’t ruined) and refrigerate to allow frosting to harden.

If you want to try a different cereal themed cupcake recipe, check out my Lucky Charms Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream recipe!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

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