Slow Cooker Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry

Indian food and curry-based dishes are my jam; This much we have established.  So far, I’ve made Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Curry, and, most recently, Curried Egg Salad.

Slow Cooker Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry | A Nerd Cooks

Though delicious, those dishes (with the exception of the egg salad) can be a little time intensive.  They’re great for dinner on a weekend, but maybe aren’t what I’d opt for after a long day at work.

However!  Making a curry in the crock pot allows me (and you!) to enjoy all of that deliciousness, while putting in a fraction of the effort and time.

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This recipe comes from the blog A Spicy Perspective, and has been modified just slightly.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 14. oz cans chick peas, drained
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • basmati rice, for serving

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil, onion, garlic, and ginger.  Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Place the onions, garlic, and ginger in a blender.  Add the can of coconut milk, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and honey.  Blend until completely smooth.

Pour the sauce into a 4 quart slow cooker.  Add the chick peas and sweet potatoes and stir to coat everything.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 (or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender).

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the 1/4 cup of heavy cream and stir.  The cream is not necessary here, but adds a rich luxuriousness to the curry.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice.

Slow Cooker Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry | A Nerd Cooks

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Another of Sean’s coworkers had a birthday recently.  As the designated baker for such affairs, I went to work over the weekend to come up with something fun and delicious.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

She placed no limitations on what I could make, so I went with a flavor combination that I really enjoy (and hope that she will, too): cookies and cream.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

My first inclination was to go with a chocolate cake, but instead opted for something that would allow you to really see that you’re eating a cookies and cream dessert.

The cupcake is a basic yellow cake recipe with bits of Oreo cookie mixed throughout, while the frosting is a classic buttercream with pulverized Oreo crumbs mixed in.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

The yellow cake and frosting used here are slight variations on the recipes in Joy the Baker’s newest cookbook.

You’ll need:

For the Basic Yellow Cake (makes ~2.5 dozen cupcakes) –

  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 12 Oreo cookies, broken into bits

For the Classic Buttercream (makes ~4 cups) –

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 8 Oreo cookies, pulverized

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well between additions.  Add the vanilla extract.

Reduce the speed to low, and add half of the flour mixture.  mix well.  Add the buttermilk, until well combined.  Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Fold in the Oreo cookie pieces.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full and bake 20-25 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, add the room temperature butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat it on medium speed until the butter is soft (~1 minute).

Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, the salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is well incorporated.

Add another 2 cups of the powdered sugar, along with the heavy cream/milk.  Beat on low speed, and add the additional 2 cups of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.

Once you’ve achieved your desired consistency, beat the frosting on medium speed for about 4 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.  During this time, also add the pulverized Oreo crumbs.

Frost the cupcakes and decorate with Oreo cookies, if desired.
Cookies and Cream Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Strawberry Caprese Salad

This salad screams summer, to me.Strawberry Caprese Salad | A Nerd CooksI took this to a gathering last weekend, and it was well received.  I’ll be making it all spring and summer long, for sure.  In fact, I’m making it again today! Strawberry Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks I saw this recipe on Cooking for Keeps.  The amount of ingredients can easily be multiplied depending on how many people you’re feeding.

You’ll need (serves ~4):

  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
  • 3 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • small bunch basil leaves, sliced

Add the strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella to a bowl.  Toss together. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.  Pour over the salad. Add the sliced basil leaves and toss everything together. Strawberry Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

After nearly a week of rainy weather, we had a beautiful weekend in the Baltimore area.  The weather was warm and the sun was shining.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes | A Nerd CooksA friend hosted a BBQ at her house, and in honor of the gorgeous spring weather, I made these Pink Lemonade Cupcakes.  See the pink cake peeking over the foil liner?Pink Lemonade Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

The cake is super moist, and the cake-frosting combo is tangy and not-too-sweet.  And the sprinkles on top add a bit of crunch and sparkle.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

The cupcake recipe comes from Confections of a Foodie Bride (modified a bit), while the buttercream frosting is from Joy the Baker’s cookbook.

You’ll need:

For the cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes) – 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • red food coloring, optional

For the frosting (makes about 4 cups) –

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream/milk
  • yellow food coloring, optional
  • yellow sprinkles, optional

For the cake, begin by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line your muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.  Add the lemon zest and juice.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk in alternating fashion, starting and ending with the flour.

If you want your cupcakes to be pink, add the food coloring, one drop at a time until the batter is whatever color you want it to be.

Fill the prepared cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until a knife, when inserted into the center of the cupcakes, comes out clean.

Allow them to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, add the room temperature butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat it on medium speed until the butter is soft (~1 minute).

Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, the salt, and lemon extract. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is well incorporated.

Add another 2 cups of the powdered sugar, along with the heavy cream/milk.  Beat on low speed, and add the additional 2 cups of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.

Once you’ve achieved your desired consistency, beat the frosting on medium speed for about 4 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.  During this time, you can also add the food coloring, one drop at a time, until the frosting is whatever color you want it to be.

Frost the cupcakes and decorate with some sprinkles, if desired.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Curried Egg Salad

Have lots of leftover hardboiled eggs from the Easter holiday that you don’t know what to do with?  Me too.

Well, that is until I realized that I could make curried egg salad.Curried Egg Salad | A Nerd CooksYou’ll need:

  • 6 eggs, hardboiled, peeled, and diced
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or mayo)
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pita pockets
  • arugula

Combine the diced eggs, yogurt, curry powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Scoop some of the egg salad into a pita pocket with arugula.  Go to town.

One of the nicer things about this recipe is that if you’re using Greek yogurt, it’s relatively guilt free.  You could also use only egg whites or mostly egg whites to further increase the health factor.

Curried Egg Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes – Updated!

Sean was nice enough to volunteer me to be the unofficial baker for his new coworkers’ birthdays.  Not that I mind.  Really.  Truly.  It gives me an excuse to bake, and frees me from the responsibilities of having to eat the creations.  One of his coworkers had a birthday recently, and her only request was “not chocolate”.
Funfetti Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Her request allowed me to return to a favorite recipe that I’ve made over and over – Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes.

However, that post was in desperate need of an update: the pictures from that post are from 4 years ago and are not the greatest.  I also wanted to have the new post reflect the frosting recipe that I’ve been using lately – it’s a classic buttercream frosting that comes from Joy the Baker’s newest cookbook.

Funfetti Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need:

For the cupcakes (makes about 24 cupcakes) –

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles, plus more for decoration

For the frosting (makes about 4 cups) –

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream/milk
  • food coloring, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners.  Set aside.

Combine the egg whites, vanilla, and milk in a bowl.  Set this aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter and half of the egg mixture.  Beat together on low speed with the paddle attachment. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the remaining egg mixture, and beat until things are just combined.

Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.  Fill the cupcake liners halfway, and bake for 17-21 minutes.

Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, add the room temperature butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat it on medium speed until the butter is soft (~1 minute).

Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, the salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is well incorporated.

Add another 2 cups of the powdered sugar, along with the heavy cream/milk.  Beat on low speed, and add the additional 2 cups of sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.

Once you’ve achieved your desired consistency, beat the frosting on medium speed for about 4 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.

Frost as desired and garnish with more sprinkles.

Funfetti Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

These cupcakes are a classic, yet fun, choice that everyone will enjoy.  One of the really fun things about them is that you can change up the color of the sprinkles and frosting to cater to your needs.  Want something for St. Patrick’s Day?  Opt for green frosting and a medley of green sprinkles.  Christmas?  Red, green and white.  Gathering where sports will be watched?  Go with your team’s colors! Funfetti Cupcakes | A Nerd Cooks

Strawberry Ricotta Toast

Given that we’re three full months in, now seems like a good time to check in and evaluate the resolutions that we made at the beginning of the year.  Shall we?  You’ll recall that I listed mine here, and that they included:

  1. Drinking more water
  2. Exercising regularly and consistently (i.e., 4x/week, all year)

A third that should have been added is to: 3. Read more books for pleasure.

I started tracking my exercise on my calendar, like a kindergartener, with shiny stickers.  Every day that I exercise, I put a sticker up.  At the beginning of February I started also tracking my distance,which is written next to the stickers.  There’s something about it that’s actually pretty reinforcing, so I’m going to stick with it.

You’ll notice that I’m falling short of my 4x/week goal, and averaging about 3x/week.  This is a vast improvement over the 0x/week that I was exercising before the new year, so I’m calling this one a win (with room for improvement, of course).

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As far as drinking more water goes, I’m certainly drinking more during the course of exercise, and just doing okay at other times.  Onward and upward.

When it comes to the reading bit, I’m doing quite well.  I finished I Know This Much Is True, Hyperbole and a Half, Yes Please, and I’m in the middle of Not That Kind of Girl.

How is everyone else doing with their resolutions?  Still going strong, or have you abandoned them?

Now, back to what you’re really here for: the food.

Wondering what to do with that Dutch Oven Bread I showed you last week?  Maybe you’re curious about how you can work a little Homemade Ricotta Cheese in there, too?  Say no more.
Strawberry Ricotta Toast | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe comes from the blog The Little Epicurian.  It’s simple, but yields delicious results.

You’ll need:

Slater some ricotta onto the toast and top with strawberries.  Drizzle a little honey over the top, and add a few chopped pistachios.

Simple to make, beautiful to look at, and delicious to eat.

Strawberry Ricotta Toast | A Nerd Cooks