Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So Sorry!

Ok, so we have been bad bloggers. Life kinda got in the way for a bit, with family issues, a show opening and finals kicking my butt. Jay and I have done two different battles, photos and all that we haven't posted yet. One of which was muffins and the other was gluten free desert pies for Thanksgiving. Muffins has photos up, and I'm going to be culling though the Thanksgiving photos soon. So that's what you've got to look forward too. When the semester starts up again in early January things should even back out again, as chances are things are going to be a little crazy around home for a while. (And that I was kicked out of my dorm for Christmas break, so the battles would then have to happen at mom's house...) But I promise, we WILL get this going again. I just had way too much fun doing this to let it drop.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, a day late.

I apologize for us missing Battle Saturday again this weekend. We will be battling this coming Saturday. That I promise.

Tonight though, I am waiting on the delicious that will be tomorrow's Indian dinner. We have a great little Indian grocery in town, and as Jay and his car were in town I had a ride to it. Wee Indian food! Jay and I were discussing the fact that he believes that you cannot perfect cuisine that you didn't grow up with. Essentially as neither of us are of Indian decent, neither of us would be able to perfect Indian cooking. I'm not sure I am completely with him as my mother makes some damn fine Cuban cuisine for someone who never tried it before marrying my dad. So I'm going to eventually try my hand at making real Indian food as an effort to prove him wrong. 'Cause I'm competitive and argumentative like that.

I love Chicken Tikka Masala. Love it. So much. So very much that I bought two separate types of prepared sauce to make it for myself here in the dorm. I learned to love it while studying abroad one semester, and brought it home al la a jar from publix that shortly after publix has stopped carrying. Which made my mom sad, as she really liked it and the jar was really quick and easy. Today I bought a jar of tikka masala concentrate and a bag-o-instant sauce. As of right now I have mixed plain yogurt, cubed chicken and the concentrate marinating in a bowl in my fridge. Tomorrow will be the test to see how it comes out.

I've also got veggies to add to it, like green beans and asparagus (which I will note, I am learning to like, but really only within curry). I also bought something called Papad. I'm not sure exactly what it's made out of, all I know is that one of my favorite restaurants in town, a Nepalese/ Tibetan restaurant, closed down and they served it with everything. Think like a crepe in thickness but really crunchy with a strong cumin flavor to it. Crispy happiness is what it is.

I will man up after this attempt to see if I can really do it from scratch. Though spice is expensive, and this jar-o-delicious-concentrate wasn't so... I guess we'll see when it's gone.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Battle this weekend.

Due to holiday plans and unforseen problems, Jay and I didn't get a chance to have our normal food battle. I'm sorry. Hopefully we'll be back next weekend.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oh Tuesday

I love the fall.
This is my favorite time of year. Hands down. Too bad for me that here in the south it's not really a season, but a delineation on the calendar reminding us that for a significant portion of the country the weather is changing for the cooler and prettier. That and Hurricane Season is over, which is always a relief. It also means cooking, especially things that take a long time in the oven or on the stove. Things that warm up the house and make it smell awesome.

Thanksgiving has almost always been one of my favorite holidays because it means all of my family from in state flooding my parent's house full bringing their own treats on top of what my mother has already made. When the family makes to leave, that's when friends start dropping by to partake in left overs, pie and conversation. We easily have 30 + people filter through our house in the course of the day. It's such a good feeling to get to sit down and enjoy the company of this many people. I can't imagine the small sit down Thanksgiving.

I'm really really looking forward to it. More so than Halloween, as I've never been much one for the huge party-drinking-craziness that people my age are really into. I actually much prefer sitting on the drive way with a big bowl of candy watching the little kids run around and act silly in their crazy costumes. But being away at college kinda keeps that to nothing, as the little kids that are fun to watch aren't on or around campus.

Sorry there's no recipe here tonight. Like I said last week the show has kept me really busy and I just felt more like sharing food traditions rather than the recipes themselves. Though if you have read this far and have any good dietary-specialty recipes you'd like to share, I'll all ears as this year Jay and I are going to visit friends in another state who are either vegetarian, can't eat wheat or are lactose intolerant. Which means there that weekend's battle will be an interesting one.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Once again, we here at Saturday Night Fights have fallen victim to technology. Or, more aptly, a lack thereof. Adri forgot to bring her camera over this week, so we'll be reproducing our efforts in MS Paint. Don't laugh, it took us over 9000 hours to do this. The photos we DO have are cell phone photos.

This weeks battle was savory pies. Since I'm forbidden from using organ meets (apricot and kidney pie is very, very tasty) because they gross Adri out, I decided to again consult the internet.

This week's entry would be portabello and tomato pies topped with blue cheese and pecarino.

We used a fairly standard puff pastry recipe. Combine salt and flour in a bowl and cut in half the butter. Add just enough water to make the dough stick together. Use your hands. I did. Cause I still don't have a mixer. Maybe I should try being Amish. Anyway, roll the dough out on a floured surface and spread remaining butter on 2/3 of the dough. Fold so that the unbuttered third is in between the other two, like folding a letter. Roll out, fold, and roll out again to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.

The really important part of the whole thing is to keep the dough cold and well floured. If the butter starts getting runny or the dough is sticking, pop the dough back in the fridge. I cut the dough into about 3" squares.

The topping is easy, just chop the mushrooms and tomatoes. Toss them on the dough then add crumbled blue cheese and shredded peccarino. Fold the dough to make a little basket, because the cheese will melt and run all over everything. Like a lactose lava flow.

I should have made a little egg wash for the crust, but I was too busy eating the filling. Yeah, I'm a fat kid. Life is goooooood.

Adri up. I actually started cooking about 1 in the afternoon, because my filling was Picadillo. These meat pies where ones that my Abuela used to make for us. I've snuck these things into a movie theater. I can't get enough of them. When I make picadillo I never quite make it the same as the recipe calls for, I kinda mix two of them together to get my favorite combination. This time I tried the typically recipe with ground turkey instead of ground beef or the suggested ground beef+ground veal+ground pork.

So as you can see by my wonderful illustration you need meat of choice, a half onion, 2 tomatoes, a half an onion, a half a green pepper, 4 olives with pimentos, a 3 oz jar of capers drained, a half cup of golden raisins (yeah, the golden bit matters to me) which are totally optional, and the spices which are a tablespoon brown sugar, a tablespoon wine vinegar and a bay leaf.

Brown the meat, add veggies and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the rest plus 1/4 cup water and let it cook for no less than 45 minutes, no longer than to dinner time. We let it stew for the next few hours on super low. Honestly, this stuff is better after it's sat in the freezer for a few days, or at least in the fridge overnight.

I should have let this cool a bit, but really it doesn't matter. I rolled out my dough and kinda treated these like you would ravioli. Through some filling down on a strip of dough, then place another on top and press it closed. Cut them apart and onto the cookie sheet and go. In the oven until the dough is good and cooked. Eat them warm, or wait like I do, 'cause I like them cold.

Since we had some leftover dough this morning, we decided that apple turnovers would be good breakfast. Roll out the dough in the same way as the other pies, cut into 3" squares, and top with sliced apples (we used granny smith), brown sugar, cinnamon and a little butter. Wrap the edges to hold in all that wonderful apple-y goodness. The syrup leaked out all over the pan, but I poured it back over the tarts. It was delicious.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Night Tastiness

Adri here, getting in late on a Tuesday night. Working in the shop all afternoon has be hankering for some chocolate-ly goodness in the way that only my mother really would make. And that is what I consider the most awesome version of Hot Chocolate ever. Really perfect for long days with just the edge of chill to them when you're dead dog tired, but still hankering for sweets.

You only need two things for this hot chocolate:

1 box cook and serve chocolate pudding
milk as required, less than 2 cups I'm pretty sure.

Make the pudding as listed on the back of the box, but before you put it in the fridge, put it in mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream. And done.

I promise this stuff is awesome. Awesome for the lazy or the tired or both. I realized that there are probably a billion more wholesome, tasty and amazing ways of doing this. But this version? Comfort food. I can't eat too much of it though, which is another reason this is great. What you don't eat now becomes pudding for later! Yay!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Battle Cookies

This week features another baking battle. Through a quirk of subconscious thought both Adri and I decided to do pecan related cookies. Her's were pecan pie cookies and mine were pecan bourbon oatmeal cookies.

This night be as much about my battle with my own impatience as it was with Adri.

We begin with toasting the pecans. Easy as cake. 350F for about ten minutes.

Toss with a little salt and 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.

Here's where impatience gets the best of me. Mix the butter, sugar, and shortening until "light and fluffy". Sure, I can do that. I'm a great, strapping young man. I've cut trails through rugged mountains, felled mighty pines with naught but my double-bit axe. Never mind that the recipe explicitly states that she used a stand mixer because the process takes a long time. Never mind that a culinary inclined friend warned me that, not only was this step important, but that doing it by hand would suck. My testosterone would carry the day!
So, I stir. And stir. And my arm's getting tired, but this doesn't bother me. I have set my Herculean strength to this task and no amount of stirring will deter me. And I stir. What is "light and fluffy" anyway? What scale is it even measured on? I bet it's one of those obscure measures, like the dram..... Stir, stir, stir. Why would anyone want to do this for a living? Stir, stir, stir. Man, this is boring....... I wonder how much longer I have to do this......stir, stir, stir..... WHY HAS THOU FORSAKEN ME LORD? AM I SISYPHUS, DAMNED TO PUSH MY ROCK FOR ALL ETERNITY? WILL MY PEOPLE NEVER REACH THE PROMISED LAND? WHAT DOES LIGHT AND FLUFFY MEAN? MAN, MY ARM HURTS. HAS IT REALLY ONLY BEEN THREE MINUTES? GOOD ENOUGH!

In retrospect, the conscientious application of technology would have saved me considerable woe. Unfortunately, neither Adri nor I have a proper mixer, so I was damned to use the vessel at the end of my arm. Needless to say, we will be investing in a mixer before another baking battle. My own refusal to embrace 19th century technology and the deleterious effect television has had on my attention span would be my undoing.

Mix in the vanilla, an egg, and the bourbon. For the purposes of this challenge I was able to purchase exactly two tablespoons of bourbon from my local booze-monger. Any picture showing me consuming a liquid which may in some passing way resemble bourbon is to be disregarded. It was apple juice, Mom.

Combine your dry ingredients and spices and mix into the batter small portions at a time. This keeps you from having a great big mess all over the apartment. Chop the pecan (I used the worlds smallest food processor for this) and fold in to the batter.

I ran a test batch first, just to see how it went. It didn't. The cookies spread all over the place, were gooey in the middle and burnt on the outside.

No matter. Thermodynamics will save me! Pop the dough in the fridge to chill for a bit. Have another glass of bourb....apple juice while I wait.

Better this time. Still spreading all over the place, but at least they're cooking evenly. Very crunchy. Dad will love these.

So, I'm a bit disappointed with the final result. They're very tasty cookies, but I seem unable to get the desired result. I lay the blame fully at the feet of the liberal media!

Now, before I start my half of this post there are a few things I'd like to point out. 1) Jay DID try to use the tiny food processor to get that light and fluffy thing going, which I have done in much larger, much more respectable machines. This baby tried, but nope, was NOT having it. 2) Everyone involved was of drinking age. Just so you know. Not that we do that often or to excess, but apple juice is totally cool. 3) We did not take nearly enough photos this week and WILL do better next week. I promise. 4) It's all my fault this is a day late, I was very tired all Sunday and fell asleep before Jay finished his bit. At like 8 pm. I am my mother.

So, My cookies, you say? They were delicious. They were a recipe from a butter box, so they are not by any means fantastic for you. But they do really really taste like tiny pecan pies, and HAVE to be better for you than a big ol' slice of that stuff. They are two different parts, a sugar cookie on the bottom and pie filling on top.

Like Jay I had to cream my butter by hand. Unlike Jay, I knew I was going to be doing this and took it slow. Real slow. In fact let the butter get way way too warm for these cookies to really hold together. The cookie batter itself is just a simple vanilla sugar cookie. Butter, vanilla, brown sugar, egg, flour, baking powder. Now, something else came up this evening that I feel I have to point out. Instead of every other weekend we've done this where we go shopping together to get ingredients, this weekend Jay had to go by himself. I had work to do in the land of pretty things and shiny objects, which sadly took most of the day. Jay looked over both lists not so well and ended up short on brown sugar and got baking SODA instead of baking POWDER. Now this wouldn't be an issue if I were a real person with a real stocked kitchen and had cream of tartar to substitute in. But I'm not, I'm a "college kid" and therefore lack normal rational kitchen things. So Thankfully Katie our guest judge had arrived by that point and I was able to get a ride out to the store while Jay wrestled with his "Light and fluffy". Katie saved the day. Lemme tell you.

I guess I did have a leg up on this. I've made these cookies for several years now, always at Christmas time for family and friends on our massive cookie plates that we give out as gifts. I have played the trails and tribulations game with them. I have learned to out wit the spreading, gooey mess that these can easily turn into. I have learned that mini muffin tins can do so much for you beyond tiny awesome muffins. They can make misbehaving cookies into little pie shaped angels. And that's exactly what I did. The topping for the cookies IS pecan pie filling. Delicious. I didn't get a photo of the precooked topping, but it's very like the cooked look. Only liquid-y and not crispy.

Gaze people! This may be the ONLY time where I have baked/cooked something that resulted in greater beauty than James. I am GOOD at cookies. He really picked the wrong person to battle here.

He conceded and Katie agreed that I had made a superior cookie. He still swears that he will beat me at a baking challenge yet. Katie was an awesome judge for us, but did keep us a good bit distracted, hence the lack of photos taken. She was awesome enough to teach us more about wine and how to pair it with ridiculous things like cookies. I'm always up for a new lesson about things that will make me a better more cultured person. We appologize to everyone at the local sandwich shop that cookies where not furnished on Saturday night! We did NOT forget you! We just didn't remember until after that shift had ended.

Of course, there will be a poll this week, so that you can tell Jay and I how YOU
would vote.

And the Interwebs support our in house judge! Adri Wins!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays

Adri here, time for another installment of whatever this really is. If you're here from Craftster, the blog post mentioned in my Crafster post is directly beneath this and thanks for reading. :D

I'm kinda a lazy kid, I like easy simple recipes. Like I heard Anthony Bourdain say once, If it's got more than four steps it's too complicated (unless it's French). Hence why I'm in love with absorption pastas. Plus, really really cuts down on dishes. I tried it first with my parents this summer. I kinda failed at it, too much water, cooked it too long, pork was too bland, etc. Then Jay made it a few weeks later, with some substitutions from the original plan I'd worked off of and it was great. Perfect even. So from there I decided to give it another shot. This time, it worked. I even made my own sauce, kinda.

Adri's version of an absorption pasta:
*1/2 a box of fancy little tomatoes (those in between plum and cherry in size?) though any size tomato would do. About equal to one big beefsteak one.
*1 or 2 italian sausages
*1/4 an onion
*2 cloves garlic, crushed
*2 cups chicken broth
*2ish cups of pasta
*basil and other spices to taste
*water or jar of sauce to cover

start by throwing in the sausage all pulled apart into bite size pieces (remove casing by cutting down the length and peeling it away, then pull off pieces), garlic, basil and spices until the sausage is browned a little.

Cut up the tomatoes in chunks removing seeds and skins. There are two ways to remove the skin of a tomato, both start with scoring the bottom so there's a little X then either putting them in boiling water until it peels back a bit or sticking them in the freezer until the same happens. Honestly, as they don't bother me I don't really worry about this bit. Let the tomatoes cook until you can push on them with a spatula and they break apart.

When this happens pour the dry pasta on top and add the 3 cups of chicken broth. I use it because it makes the sauce thicken up later in a way that water doesn't seem too. If there's still more dry pasta above the broth then either add water or a jar of sauce until the pasta is JUST about covered. I added water last time because I couldn't open the jar and Jay doesn't live here... so, yeah, water works too. Last time I did this I added WAY too much and had to leave the pot boiling for WAY too long and our pasta got mushy.

Leave the lid off the pot while the pasta does it's thing, and slowly the water/broth/sauce will boil away and thicken on the pasta. You might end up cooking it a little while longer than you normally would, but as long as the pasta isn't mushy you should be fine.

Finally when the water's all but gone give it a good few stirs and let it it back to thicken the rest of the way up. Serve and you've got dinner.

serves 2, 'cause that's dinner and lunch tomorrow.

**edit** Chelsea has a photo tutorial over on her blog on boiling the tomatoes and getting off the skin, though she did it specifically to can her own salsa. Same principle here really. Thanks Chelsea!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ol' Fashioned Mexican Standoff

As per popular opinion, James has officially won this battle. It was a good fight, but I threw in the towel on that Saturday night. Thanks for your votes!

This Saturday's battle? Tacos.

We had all week to look up competing recipes. And we did. Only to discover on Saturday morning on our way out to the store to stock up for Battle Tacos that we had both chosen the same recipe. Since Adri knew she wouldn't be able to win if I used that recipe, I let her go ahead with the shrimp tacos. I would return to my Mexican roots and create the traditional food of my people, the tribe of street food junkies. I'd be rockin the carnitas.

The best thing about food like this is that, in addition to being ridiculously good, it's also cheap. I started with a whole pork shoulder and did the butchering myself. while you can buy the individual pieces, or get it done in the store, we only spent about $3 on the whole bit. A little anatomy learning and a sharp knife can work wonders. make sure to set aside the skin and bones if you want to make pork stock later.

(note: the 11 photos following and one previous to the above make up the "anatomy learning")

Once you've got all your pig bits ready to go, add a little oil to a cast iron skillet or dutch oven and brown the meat.

Meat brown? Pull it out and set it aside on some paper towels, cause we're going to bust out some hardcore culinary technique. We're going to deglaze the pan, from the french tradition meaning "lets add some wine!!!". I just used some water, then scraped the pan to get all the good stuff off of it. Add the spices and the meat back and stir to mix everything into a wonderful mess. Add more water, so the meat's about 2/3's covered.

Now pop the whole thing into a 350 degree oven (that's Fahrenheit for our SI friends). This bit should take about 3 hours or so. Check on it about ever half hour or so until the pork falls apart to the touch. Add water as necessary to keep everything from drying out, but try to time it so that the sauce is thick when you pull everything out. When pork is cool break it up with your fingers.

Now for my secret weapon, home made tortillas. This was my favorite part a saturday night out. We'd stop at a food truck near the university and there's be the owner's mother, making tortillas on a griddle over a coal fire. I was always amazed she was able to put up with the hordes of drunken college students that flocked to her son's truck every night.

These are easy. Flour, hot water, baking powder, salt and lard. Yes, Lard.

Isn't it beautiful?

comebine the dry ingredants with the lard then, while mixing everything, slowly add the hot water until you get a doughy consistancy. Dough shouldn't be sticky.

Let it sit in the bowl for a bit. This is a good time to make a little pico de gallo. Just chop some tomatoes, onions, and cilantro and combine in a bowl with some lime juice.

Warm your skillet or griddle over medium heat and roll out your tortillas. The dough-balls (heh) should be about the size of golf balls. You don't really need specific tools, though throwing a little flour on your workspace helps keep everything from sticking. In this case, thinner is better.

Once you see bubbles start to form, it's time to flip. Sooooooooo gooooooooood.

Now, I want to clear my name. I just simply pointed out that we had the same recipe, and immediately Jay started looking for new recipes of his own. I never said I wouldn't switch mine out, and he KNOWS I would have if he'd been dead set on doing it. He just knew that I'd brought shrimp with me from my dorm to his apartment and would have felt bad if he'd used my food. But yes, I made Chipotle Shrimp Tacos and to accompany guacamole! Neither of these recipes are mine, nor are any of the ones Jay used. We won't pretend they are when they aren't. Though I will point out there are a number of places that this taco recipe can be found. Which is how we both ended up wanting to make the same shrimp tacos.

My tacos did take significantly less time to make than Jay's. Part of their beauty, I could feasibly make this for dinner one night without having the day off. That and they did have a vital ingredient to life: BACON. Lots of bacon. A half package of it. We each made about half of what the recipe called for, as we we're only two people eating enough tacos for twenty. But! back to the bacon. I cut it up into tiny tiny pieces and threw them into the pan to start rendering down.

While that was cooking up I chopped up 1/4 onion (though really could have used a 1/2 onion), one big and one teeny tiny chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and un-tailed my shrimps. Then I covered my shrimp in a decent sprinkling of cumin, 'cause I love cumin and think it goes well in most everything. Not in the recipe, but I liked it. I'd also prepped up some simple guacamole a little earlier while Jay was checking every half hour or so on his roasting pork. It's just simply an avocado, a small tomato, some onion and lime juice all smooshed around in a bowl until consistency is achieved.

When bacon's half done, pour off the grease and add the onion. Then cook until almost done, pour off more grease and add shrimp and the peppers. Give it a good couple stirs while the shrimp cook up.

Now you're pretty much done. Super simple right? When they are done squeeze over some lime juice. What I did for the last few minutes before the shrimp was one I laid out my taco-shells-from-a-box on a cookie sheet and put them in the still warm oven. About on 350 ish. About 5 minutes ish. Just enough to warm them up, crisp them up and make them not taste like plasticy gross.

And I'm done! Do your best to spread a little guacamole down in there and shake on those bacony shrimp. They tasted mighty fine, and we learned after the presentation photos that it was actually easier to eat my tacos if you popped open the shell and treated them more like giant nachos. The flavor was light and salty, with just the right amount of spicy to be appealing. Just perfect really. I had three. This morning we even found out that the leftovers made great omelet fillings on top of Jay's left over tortillas.

Now! As we were unable to get anyone to meet up with us for Battle!Taco! we need you are few readers to choose whose taco's you'd rather eat. Let us know! I know who my vote is going to be for! We shall let the interwebs decide.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Night Tastiness

Adri here, I've kind of decided that on Tuesday nights I'm going to update here with some of my favorite recipes. Or at least ones I make all the time. Sadly at this time I've got no pictures of any of these, but I'll get them asap. So for tonight? One of my dietary staples, what I call a Dinner Omelet. Also known as a Spanish Omelet. My recipe is loosely based on that from Clarita's Cocina which my Abuela gave me when I moved off to college so I'd not be with out home cooking. It's a pretty simple dish, but by some people's standards has a lot of steps, mainly that I've combined to make easier for one person to make. The one in the cook book is amazingly delicious. Well there are a few, but my favorite is the "Country Omelet". All parts of this sans eggs are kinda interchangeable and can be subbed to suit tastes.

Dinner Omelet!
Serves: 1
2 eggs
1/2 potato (any kind)
1/4 onion
1/2 Chorizo (or any other kind of meat, or none at all)
1/4 bell pepper (Jay likes it in his, I don't in mine)
1/4 of a tiny can of peas.
Garlic to taste
Olive oil

Start by roughly cutting all veggies, though slicing the potatoes into small cubes or thin slices works well.

Grab your favorite pan and toss in the oil and garlic until garlic is good and golden. Pull it out.

Add potatoes to the oil. Cook them until done, but not quite golden as you're going to take out now and set them aside.

Through in the rest of the veggies, sans peas, and meat of choice. When the veggies look like they are well on their way to done, but not quite add the potatoes on top.

Quickly stir up eggs and pour over. Wait a minute until the eggs are a little set on bottom and sprinkle on peas. I promise, they are delicious. It's how my mom got me to eat them as a kid.

Now you can do one of two things at this step, which is if you have a non stick pan, wait five minutes then throw the hole thing into an oven that's set at about 250-300 until the eggs are set on top. OR you can fashion yourself a lid from tin foil or a real lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes or again until eggs are set.

You can either flip the whole thing over in the pan to get that part of the omelet golden too, which I like to do as I have a thing about uncooked eggs, or you can just flip it out onto a plate and enjoy.

Double, triple, whatever for as many people as you have to feed. Though I should note that a 6 egg omelet tended to feed my family of four. And of course change ratios as desired as long as there is enough egg to hold everything together. :D

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tonight, we dine on CUPCAKES!!

It began simply enough. A Saturday evening lazing about in Adri's dorm room, wandering the internet and listening to the radio. Until, fatefully, Adri piped up "I want cupcakes."

a few minutes into recipe hunting the trash talk started. My preference, as always, was for chocolate. Adri wanted something more exotic. Next came the question of who would make the cupcakes. I feel, quite rightly, that I am the superior cook. Adri thinks that because she comes from a family with a long history of making amazing Cuban food, she's been imbued with some genetic culinary superiority. Maybe it's in that junk DNA scientists are always going on about.

Finally, the die was cast, the gauntlet was laid down, the cliche was overused.

"I bet I can make a better cupcake than you." I said

A quick trip to the grocery store later and the battle was joined.

I had decided that I would let loose my chocolate raspberry minions upon Adri's paltry horde of Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes. This shouldn't take long.

Everyone's Ingredients

The cupcake itself was a fairly simple fix: one box of cake mix and all it's necessary components (we can't all be St. Alton, okay?), one box of instant chocolate pudding to keep them moist, and a mess of diced raspberries.

Mix and fill muffin tins. Adri convinced me to buy fancy muffin liners. Yeah... but she's cute. Bake until done.

Chocolate ganache is easy. Set yourself up a double boiler.

As you can see, I designed and built a proper double boiler which uses advanced thermodynamic techniques to properly melt the chocolate and warm the cream without scalding.

Equal parts dark and semi sweet chocolate go into the top pot with the cream.

Use what you think is enough. This is chocolate we're talking about. If you mess up, you get to eat it. There is no downside. Once you've got nice smooth melted chocolate, reduce the heat and mix in confectioners sugar until you reach the same consistency as icing.

I added raspberry jelly into the mix while the chocolate was still warm. Makes it a little easier to work with.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread the ganache and top with a fresh raspberry, a little jelly, and a piece of hazelnut cookie. Have you ever seen a prettier cupcake made by a straight man?

Now, I see James has whole underestimated the power of good food over pretty food. But not the fact that I am probably one of the clumsiest people around. I got a pretty good start on my cupcakes, getting the strawberries cut up, sugared, and lemon juiced. I had no way of zesting my lemon as I needed for my strawberry toping. So I did it my kinda janky way. Which is to slice the zest off the lemon, scrape out any pith you may have grabbed (the white stuff) and cut the remaining yellow into tiny slivers.

Throw those on top of a box of diced up strawberries, squeeze half your lemon over the top, and finally add sugar, somewhere more than a cup. It's not a precise thing. You can check on it every once and a while and if the natural syrup created isn't thick enough for your liking add more sugar and let it sit. Preferably this sits for as long as you can manage, even a day before hand.

Now I went to go make my batter. But screwed up royally in the process. Knocking over my half cup of veggie oil all down the table and onto the floor. This though, turned out fortunate at it gave us our impartial judge for the evening. She brought me more oil.Throw in the oil, water, eggs, lemon cake mix and lemon pudding (instant). Then as I had an extra half a lemon I squeezed it into the batter and mixed it all up. Pour and Bake. Also don't do what I did and leave them in too long. They got dry, even with the pudding to keep it moist.

While those where cooking I did the last part of my awesome cupcakes. Butter Cream Frosting. With real butter and real cream. It just tastes better that way. I unfortunately had forgotten to set out the butter, so had to carefully microwave it soft. I say carefully because you don't want liquid butter, but you don't want ice chunks either like I had. I managed to get it pretty good and so added the vanilla, cream and confectioners sugar and stirred like mad. Until I gave up and James did it for me. Because he loves me. :3

Now with everything prepped time for assembly! First uncup the cakes and remove a cone shape from the top (so the strawberries have somewhere to sit!)

Add your fancy butter cream frosting around the edge of the cupcake to create a little wall for extra strawberry goodness.

and now Strawberry Lemonade Topping! Pouring the remaining syrup over the cupcakes.

How ugly but delicious is THAT? Amazing I tell you!

Now from here we had but to be judged. Tasha tasted both of our cupcakes, first Jay's then mine. She's a huge chocolate fan, his were beautiful, but I had my lucky cupcake spatula on my side. I knew I was going to win this. All silly smack talk aside I knew the chocolate was no match. While Tasha deliberated, we the competitors sampled each others wares. IF you are a chocolate lover, a serious dark chocolate lover you will love his cupcakes. They were dense, rich, and velvety on the tongue. Only one problem, you couldn't really taste the raspberry, which was sad. Still, really good. On to my own, which the big thing was it was a bit dry and the lemon could have been more intense in the cake, but you could definately taste it. The butter cream was awesome and topping tasted just like you'd dropped a bunch of strawberries into the best lemonade you've ever tasted.

Tasha announced the winner. ME! She also had a problem with the fact that the chocolate completely over powered the raspberry. Not that they weren't good, but they could have been better. Jay thinks that maybe hollowing out the top and adding raspberry jam inside, similar to how I did my strawberries would have worked out in his favor better. He's probably right.

So what do we do now with 18 cupcakes that we cannot fathom eating? Give them away of course! We walked down the hall of my dorm, out across the street to the Really Fast Sub Shop and back again. Everyone there loved us. We've been requested to come back next Saturday night and any other we need to get rid of sweets. The last two cupcakes where taken by the cutest set of twins walking back into my dorm. One hid her face in her hoodie chanting "I can't! I can't!" and the other we talked into taking the last of Jay's. The second her sister had taken the chocolate one, the other dove for the remaining strawberry lemon. It was very fun. All in all, it's Adri one, Jay zip. There are more pictures in our picasa page that you can find right here!

Jay's Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes:
1 Box of cake mix
1 box of instant chocolate pudding
1 box of raspberries
1 part of a jar of raspberry preserves
3 eggs
1/2 cup veggie oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 bag Semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bag Dark chocolate chips
1 small thing of heavy whipping cream
1 thing of confectioner's sugar

Adri's Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes:
1 Box Lemon cake mix
1 box lemon instant pudding
3 eggs
1/2 cup veggie oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 box of fresh strawberries
1+ cups of regular sugar

-Butter cream frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1+ teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon cream
3 cups confectioner's sugar