Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

Adorable, right? Ok, maybe these reindeer are slightly special....but they taste great, so who cares?

Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies
via Budding Baketress

3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate-covered mini pretzels
Mini brown M&Ms
Regular-sized red M&Ms

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, milk, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat until just blended.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. To make reindeer-shaped cookies, pinch the bottom of the ball slightly to form a point, then gently flatten with your hand. Space cookies about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until set or just beginning to brown. 

Remove from oven and immediately (and gently) press two mini pretzels into the tops of the cookies for the reindeer's antlers. Press two mini brown M&Ms in for the eyes and one red M&M for the nose (or any other color... some of mine ended up with green noses. They might be South Pole reindeer.). 

Allow to cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack or paper towel to cool completely. 

Makes about 40 reindeer cookies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate cupcakes with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

These cupcakes were delish! The chocolate cake is my go to Hershey's recipe, and the peppermint cream cheese frosting was divine. Seriously....squirt in your mouth-divine.

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes 24-27 standard sized cupcakes)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)
1 cup boiling water

~ Directions ~
*Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350*F.
*In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
*Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute.
*Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin, don't worry, this is right).
*Fill liners 2/3 full with batter. (I usually put the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout, and then pour the batter into the liners.)
 *Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-24 minutes.
*Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 Tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (about 3/4 of a regular block of cream cheese)
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 to 3 Tablespoons heavy cream, heavy whipping cream (or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds)

~ Directions ~
*Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
*Add powdered sugar (a little at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
*Add vanilla and peppermint extracts
*Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don't add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
*Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)

To achieve the red stripe in the frosting:  Before filling a large piping bag with frosting, add some red gel food coloring to a toothpick, and draw two (vertical) lines with the red dye on the inside of the piping bag. Then carefully fill the piping bag with frosting.  Squeeze some frosting into a bowl until you begin to see the red stripe, then frost the cupcakes. 

Top cupcakes with some crushed candy canes (they will "melt" after a bit, so they need to be served right away) or a small piece of peppermint bark (I used a little peppermint Andes candy).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Dip

This was spicy yet satisfying. ;) Delicious, basically. And so easy to whip up!

via Our Best Bites

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened (light works great)
1 c. mayonnaise (light also works here, but DON’T use Miracle Whip!)
1 c. Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 4-oz. can fire roasted green chilies
1/2-1 4-oz. can diced jalapeno peppers*, drained
optional: 8oz bacon, cooked and crumbled
1-2 sourdough baguettes, sliced, and/or crackers
*1/2 can is mild with a little bite, a whole can is definitely on the spicy side, but if you’ve got taste buds of steel, you might prefer a 7-oz. can. 4 ounces definitely pushes the limit for my husband and I and our kids won’t touch it.
Preheat oven to 350. If using bacon, reserve 2-3 Tbs and sprinkle on top of dip before baking.  Combine cream cheese, mayo, parmesan, and garlic and stir until smooth.  Add jalapenons and green chilies.  If using bacon, stir in remaining bacon.  Spread dip into a 9″ pie plate or a small baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining bacon if using.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until dip is bubbly and golden brown.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

I made these for Thanksgiving appetizers, and they disappeared. Fast.

 Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
via Annie's Eats
For the dough:
1½ tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2½-3 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
½ cup small diced ham
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
To finish:
6 cups water
4 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt (or pretzel salt), for topping

To make the dough, combine the yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2½ cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix until a dough has formed.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until a soft, elastic dough forms.  Add the remaining flour a 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is tacky but not sticky.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles on the surface, about 1½ to 2 hours.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 4 equal pieces.  Stretch or roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 4-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle some of the diced ham and the shredded cheese over one third of the dough closest to an edge, lengthwise.  Roll up tightly, filling edge first, so that the filling is tightly sealed inside.  Slice the log into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough, and the remaining filling.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 2o seconds and turning once. They should be slightly puffed.  Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer them back to the baking sheet.
Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Brush the warm pretzel bites with the melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Snickerdoodle cupcakes

YUm! I don't even really care for snickerdoodles the cookies, but I should have known that a cupcake version would be awesome.

Snickerdoodle cupcakes
via Martha Stewart


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  4. To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco No. 809 or Wilton No. 1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Perfect Cupcake Frosting and Filling

recipe by
3 T Flour
1/2 C milk (whole milk is best, but I used non-fat when it's all I have and it's actually fine)
1/2 C real butter
1/2 C sugar (that's granulated sugar, not powdered sugar)
1 t vanilla extract, or other flavor if you wish.
Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. I think this is the critical point for any of you who have had problems with this recipe. I have a feeling people are under-cooking this part. Let it cook, while stirring, until it looks like pudding (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir it). Even though it's thick, you can still it through a mesh strainer (just whisk the mixture in the strainer to push the thick stuff through) and then let it cool completely to room temp. or chill it in the fridge. It needs to be cooled completely. If you don't let it cool completely, it will melt the butter and you'll have runny frosting.
It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You'll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat on the highest speed you can get to without it spraying all over the place for 7 minutes. Yes, 7 whole minutes, maybe even 8 or 9. I know that seems like a long time, but that's when the magic happens!

You will be scared because it will look like a weird goopy mess at first and you'll wonder what on earth you did wrong. Keep beating and something amazing happens. It goes from that goopy mess to something thick, velvety smooth, and perfectly fluffy.

Use it to fill cupcakes or other pastries, or as a frosting on top. You can't go wrong putting this on just about anything :)
One batch makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes .

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cashew Sweet and Sour Pork

This was an easy dish and really tasty! I loved the cashews in it. They added a yummy crunch. :)

Cashew Sweet and Sour Pork
from Our Best Bites

2 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
1 Tbsp. apple juice
1 lb. pork tenderloin or boneless pork chops, thinly sliced
1/3 c. water
¼ c. sugar
¼ c. cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. oil
1/3 c. chopped cashews (or exactly one of those little .99 bags of Fritos cashews at the front of the grocery store)
¼ c. green onions
2 tsp. minced or grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced or pressed
6-8 oz. snow peas, trimmed ( I used a bag of those microwavable peas)
1 8-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained

Now…to get your pork super thin, you’ll need to partially freeze it. When it’s semi-frozen (or mostly-frozen), you can either cut it very thinly with a sharp knife or pop it into your food processor fitted with the slicing blade.

Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch, sherry, and pork. Toss well.

Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch, water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and ketchup. Stir with a whisk; make sure there are no clumps with the cornstarch.

Now collect everything that’s going into the stir fry next to the stove so you can access it easily.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. canola oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add pork and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add onions, ginger, and garlic.

Stir-fry 1 minute. Add snow peas and pineapple. Stir-fry 3 minutes more. Whisk sauce ingredients again and add to pan, bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in cashews and serve over hot rice. Garnish with more cashews and green onions if you want.

Brown Sugar Spiced Pork

I usually make this with garlic mashed red potatoes, and it is YUM-licious. I mean, YUM!!! Go make it soon. It's a great dish for when you have guests over, because it's easy, impressive, and mouth-watering. Seriously, my sister begs me to make this. Regularly. I almost had to cut her off, it was getting ridiculous. She was turning into an addict. A sugary, delicious, spicy pork addict. Oh well, I might as well join her.

Brown Sugar Spiced Pork Loin
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


Rub Ingredients:
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pork tenderloin cut into 3-4 chunks
1 tablespoons olive oil

Glaze ingredients:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (about 6-8 cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon, then rub the pork with the spice mixture. Heat the oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet  over medium high heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Brown the pork, turning to brown each side, about 4 minutes total. Leave pork in the skillet. If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, brown the pork in a skillet and transfer it to a foil-lined baking pan.

Stir together the brown sugar and garlic and pat on top of each tenderloin.  If you have extra, dump it in as well! Roast in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes. Let pork stand in the skillet at room temperature for 10 minutes. Slice on the diagonal and serve, spooning the sauce from the skillet on top of the pork.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

We had our annual ladies craft-it-up night for our church last night, also known as Fantastic Friday. We were asked to bring a snack to share, and I kinda forgot about it. lol! Usually I plan way ahead with what I'm making, in search of the perfect recipe, and so on and so on. Obsessive? I prefer prepared, thank you. ANyways.

Luckily I remembered with two hours to spare, so into the kitchen I ran! Well, first a quick detour to Pinterest to find a recipe. I wanted pumpkin cupcakes, since fall is in full swing! I found a fantastic recipe right away, and barely had enough butter, but I made it work. It felt like Cupcake Wars for awhile in there.

These got rave reviews at the crafty night, and I only returned home with two cupcakes. (of which one has already met it's demise)

Pumpkin Cupcakes
adapted from Made in Mel's Kitchen
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the  brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until well combined.  Add dry ingredients, and mix on low until smooth. Fold in pumpkin puree.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Makes ~ 24 cupcakes.

For the frosting, I made a batch of this easy cheater caramel (haha), and used about 3/4 cup of it in the frosting recipe below.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth.  Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable. Alternatively, you could use just under 1/2 cup of your favorite caramel sauce. (which is what I did. I cannot seem to conquer caramel yet!)

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel.  Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).  Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration.  If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny.  If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Homemade Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas
recipe courtesy Raley's "Something Extra" Magazine


2 cups flour
3 tbsp shortening
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water


Mix together flour, shortening, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl with a fork until mixture resembles course crumbs; stir in water. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead several times to form a smooth dough.
Cover with a cloth and let stand for 30 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal parts. Roll each into a 7 inch circle.
Cook each tortilla in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and puffed.

I know the picture doesn't look like much, but these tortillas did prompt my very picky daughter to tell me that I make the best tortillas ever. They were very yummy!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Blackberry Cake with Raspberry Frosting

Blackberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting
(source unknown)

My husband had this cake at work once and quickly brought the recipe home so that he could have it again :)


White cake mix
1 3oz package raspberry gelatin
1 10oz package frozen blackberries (thawed)
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup hot water

1 12oz container cool whip (thawed)
1 10oz package frozen raspberries (thawed and sweetened)


In a large bowl combine cake mix and gelatin powder. Add blackberries with juice, eggs, oil and water. Beat until well blended. Pour into greased 13x9" pan and bake for 35-40 minutes and 350. When I made the cupcakes I baked 12 at a time and they took about 18 minutes.

For the frosting fold raspberries into the cool whip lightly smashing the berries to release the juices. Spread over cooled cake and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Note: This really gets better the longer you let it sit. We love it best the next day :)


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake
from Giada De Laurentis

What you need:

1/3 cup finely crushed chocolate wafers ( I used oreos minus the cream filling)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 orange, zested
1 egg
Butter, for greasing

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the crushed chocolate wafers and the melted butter. Place a tightly packed teaspoon of the wafer mixture into each mini-muffin cup and press down firmly.

In a food processor combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, 1/4 cup of the sugar, half of the orange zest, and the egg. Blend until smooth. Lightly grease the sides of the mini muffin tin with butter. Fill the cups with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cheesecake mixture (it says 1 1/2 tbls, but this doesn't make enough for that. I did about a tablespoon). Place the mini muffin tin in a cookie sheet and pour enough hot water in the bottom to come halfway up the sides of the mini muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes. Transfer the mini muffin tin to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use a small knife to gently pop the cheesecakes out of the cups.

Just before serving, combine the remaining orange zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Top each individual cheesecake with about 1/4 teaspoon of the orange zest mixture and serve.

These are so yummy! Can't wait to make them again!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simple white cake

Simple White Cake
Makes 12 cupcakes or 1 9" round cake
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bacon Ranch Slowcooker Chicken

 ***This took literally 5 minutes to prep-I even threw my chicken in frozen and it worked perfectly! We all loved the taste and it was so easy to make! Definitely going in the rotation!***

Bacon Ranch Slowcooker Chicken

4 Servings

2 butterball turkey bacon strips, cooked and shredded
1 tsp minced garlic
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 10.75 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup (98% fat free)
1 cup fat-free sour cream
16 oz. chicken breasts
8 oz. pasta (I used rigatoni)

Combine the first five ingredients. Place chicken in slowcooker and pour sauce over the top. Cook on high for 3.5 hours. Serve over hot noodles.

Monday, October 3, 2011

peanut butter cup cheesecake bars

***So pretty much this cheesecake rocked everyone's world. My family was practically swooning over in delight. It's rich, decadent, and if you like the PB and chocolate combo, it's to die for! Rory told me to never make another kind of cheesecake ever again. I'll see if I can change his mind with some Oreo cheesecake... yum!***

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars
via The Sweets Life

-7 whole graham crackers, broken into small pieces
-6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted & cooled
-3 tbsp brown sugar
-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-1/8 tsp salt

-2 packages cream cheese, softened
-2/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 eggs
-1/4 cup sour cream
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 bag mini Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped

-2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8-in pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 3-4 inch overhang on each side. Grease foil.
2. Make graham cracker crust by adding crackers to food processor and pulsing until fine. Add butter, brown sugar, flour, and salt. Pulse until mixture is combined. Press into the bottom of the baking dish.
3. Bake crust for 12-15 minutes until browning. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in sour cream and vanilla extract until fully combined.
5. After chopping Reese's peanut butter cups, set aside approximately 1/2 cup for later. Stir the remaining chopped candies into the cream cheese batter.
6. Pour batter into baking pan, spreading evenly over crust. Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes (rotate halfway through), until the edges are set and middle still jiggles slightly.
7. Cool cheesecake for 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate 3-24 hours.
8. Remove from fridge and using the foil overhang, remove bars from pan. Cut into small squares. Melt bittersweet chocolate in the microwave (stirring every 15 seconds). Drizzle chocolate over bars and top with remaining chopped Reese's cups.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate buttercream

 (I don't know why this is showing up in all caps, so excuse the yelling)

 I'm on a cupcake kick right now-they are so much fun to bake and decorate! Luckily I have lots of willing tasters. :) These cupcakes were delish-though I think I could have taken them out a minute or two early. The frosting is delectable and came together in minutes. I think frosting cupcakes has gotta be my favorite part-playing with the different tips and ways to swirl it. Ahh...cupcake bliss!


Peanut Butter Cupcakes

from Martha Stewart


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more for decorating
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Mix in peanut butter. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Add flour mixture; mix until combined. Mix in sour cream.
  3. Spoon scant 3 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup. Bake until pale golden and a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 13 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.
Chocolate Buttercream
from Savory Sweet Life

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used half regular, half dutch process)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  1. Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red Velvet cupcakes and cream cheese frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes
from Pinch My Salt

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.  In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.  Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda.  Yes, it will fizz!  Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake cups with cake batter (they should be 2/3 – 3/4 full).  You may not fill all the cups, I ended up with 20 cupcakes.  Place muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don’t overbake!
5. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.  Frost cupcakes with cream cheese icing. (recipe below)
6. Enjoy the cupcakes with those you love!

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.  Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.  If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).

Recipe Notes: If you prefer a sweeter and/or stiffer frosting, more powdered sugar can be added (up to four cups). But remember, the more sugar you add, the less you’ll be able to taste the tangy cream cheese!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

One-Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice

One-Pot Southwest Chicken and Rice

From Mel's Kitchen Cafe
(can you tell I love this blog?)

*Serves 4-6
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn
4 ounces cheese (used a combination of Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Salsa and sour cream for serving

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. The chicken will cook more in a subsequent step. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

To the pot, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook until the edges are just slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Return the chicken to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter or plate. Stir the black beans and corn into the pot. Add the cheese and cilantro. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the rice with the chicken, adding salsa and sour cream, if desired.

This was tasty and satisfying. And I only used ONE skillet...I adore those meals.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grilled Rosemary Buttermilk Chicken

Grilled Rosemary Buttermilk Chicken  

from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Note: this recipe is so flexible and easy you can double and triple to your heart’s delight. The idea is basic – just add enough buttermilk to cover the chicken and throw in as much rosemary as your soul can take. I like a lot of rosemary flavor. Use what you like. 

*Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 quart buttermilk
5-6 sprigs fresh rosemary
Place the chicken breasts in a large ziploc plastic bag. Pour in the buttermilk to cover the chicken. Add the rosemary sprigs. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight, about 8-10 hours.
Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. With tongs, take out each chicken breast one by one, shaking off excess buttermilk and removing the rosemary sprigs. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through but still moist. Tent with foil for about 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

This made some delicious chicken, very moist...we prefer a bit more flavor though-some salt and pepper helped, after grilling. Still, it was so easy to make! That gives it big points in my book. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rice with Herbs de Provence

Sorry no picture here. You would think that rice would be so easy to photograph, but as it turns out it's pretty boring. Huh. Anyway, trust me when I tell you that this is really very yummy :)

Rice with Herbs de Provence

1 c. white rice
2 c. chicken stock
11/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper


The original recipe has you cook your rice on the stove, but I'm a modern girl and just threw everything in my rice cooker, gave it a stir and let it go. It turned out great!

Easy as can be, but much better than plain old white rice for dinner :)


Saturday, August 27, 2011

chocolate cupcakes with caramel swiss meringue buttercream

 Yeah, um. Yum. Not much more to say! The cupcakes were a little diva-ish in the prep (3 bowls) but they didn't overflow their wrappers, which is more than I can say about my other chocolate cake recipe lately. So these get 5 stars!

Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Annie's Eats

Yield: 24 cupcakes

½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled.  Mix in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 5 cups


  • 1/2 cups sugar plus 2 tbsp
  • 6 large egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce


  1. Whisk together sugar, the egg whites, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 140 degrees. (I rub it between my fingers, if it's grainy, it still needs more time.)
  2. Return bowl to mixer; fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Switch to paddle attachment. Reduce speed to medium low; add butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue until smooth.
  3. Add caramel and vanilla; beat on lowest speed until combined, 3 to 5 minutes. The buttercream can be made 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Before using, bring frosting to room temperature; return to mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until smooth. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)

 If you've been to Tucano's or any other Brazilian eatery (or are lucky enough to be Brazilian and eat these all the time), then you may be familiar with these deeeelicious cheesy bread bites. Rory and I always fought over the last one in the bread basket at Tucano's when we went while poor college students. Usually for an anniversary, and always for lunch. (cheaper) but enough about us, how about these lovely yummy little nuggets? They're so easy to make and ooey gooey full of cheese! I paired them with Mexican Mac and Cheese (so it was a heavy cheese meal, lol) but they'd be great with anything really!

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)
from All
1/2 cup olive oil or butter
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk or soy milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups tapioca flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 beaten eggs
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Pour olive oil, water, milk, and salt into a large saucepan, and place over high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat immediately, and stir in tapioca flour and garlic until smooth. Set aside to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Stir the cheese and egg into the tapioca mixture until well combined, the mixture will be chunky like cottage cheese. Drop rounded, 1/4 cup-sized balls of the mixture onto an ungreased baking sheet. (my batter was a bit runny so I poured it into a mini muffin tin-it worked great!)
4. Bake in preheated oven until the tops are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Mexican Mac and Cheese

 This is cheesy, yummy, and a teeny bit spicy from the chilis. Also a great vegetarian (and pantry) meal.

Mexican Mac and Cheese

Recipe (yield 8-10 servings):

16 oz bag uncooked pasta, any kind you prefer (I used some ziti but usually use egg noodles)
3-4 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 15 oz can of corn
3/4-1 cup whole milk
1 7 oz can diced green chiles (make sure you don't buy the small can)
2 1/2 tablespoons salt, divided
pepper to taste

Fill a large pot half way full with water. Add to the water 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. I like to make mine in a large skillet. Dump the corn, chiles, and 3/4 cup milk. Turn heat to medium. Stir and allow everything to heat through for 3-5 minutes. When the milk begins to bubble around the edges, add shredded cheese in batches. Stir mixture and allow each batch to completely melt before adding the next. I do this about three times. Your noodles will finish cooking sometime around now, so remove them from heat and drain in a colander. When the noodles have finished draining, put them back in the same pot you used to boil them in. Set aside. The sauce should be about done at this point. Give it a good stir and make sure the cheese is all melted. If you feel like the sauce is too thick you can add a little more milk in to thin it or if you feel like it is too thin then add a little more cheese (you can't go wrong). Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. It won't need much pepper, but it will need some salt. Start with 1/2 tablespoon and go from there. When the sauce is seasoned to your liking, pour all the sauce directly over the waiting noodles in the pot. Stir to combine and coat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cowboy Quesadillas

Delicious, easy, and fast! Plus the whole family loves them, and they are great for using up leftover rice!

Cowboy Quesadillas
Recipe by Our Best Bites

1/2 C white rice
1/3 C black beans
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1/3 C fresh frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
2/3 C diced tomato
3 Tbs sliced green onion
1 1/2 C shredded cheese (any type or combo you like)
1/4 C bbq sauce (our fav and hands down best, is Sweet Baby Ray's)
6 small tortillas (fajita size, about 6″)

Dipping Sauce
equal parts bbq sauce and ranch dressing

Combine rice, beans, chicken, corn, tomato, green onion and shredded cheese.  Add bbq sauce and stir to combine.  Place about 1/3 C of mixture on half of each tortilla and fold over to close.
Heat a skillet to medium heat on the stove top.  When hot, spray lightly with cooking spray, or drizzle with canola or olive oil.  Place quesadillas in pan and cook for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crisp.  Flip and repeat on opposite side.  Cool for a few minutes and then serve with BBQ-Ranch dipping sauce.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Double Lemon Delights

Double Lemon Delights
from "Favorite Brand Name Bake Sale" Cookbook


2 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tbl grated lemon peel, divided
1 tsp vanilla
   Additional Sugar
1 c powdered sugar
4-5 tsp lemon juice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl; set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar in electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, 1 tbl lemon peel and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speen until blended.

Drop dough by level 1/4 cupfuls (I did 2 tbl scoops) onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Flatten dough until 3 inches in diameter with bottom of glass that has been dipped in additional sugar.

Bake 12-14 minuted or until cookies are set and edges are golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes; transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and remaining 1 tbl lemon peel in small bowl; drizzle mixture over cookies. Let stand until icing is set.

So these were totally and completely delicious! I know that there is a lemon overload on this blog right now, but these are totally worth it! Yummy, yummy!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Lemon Bars

I have always wanted to try making my own lemon bars, and these did not disappoint! Tart and lemony, they're the perfect start to the warm weather coming our way. I think I'm crushing hard on lemons lately, I can't get enough! Luckily my friend has a lemon tree and she is very generous so I'm going to enjoy it. :D

Lemon Bars
adapted from Make it Do

2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
2-3 tbsp milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Mix above dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until well blended, add milk, and mix until it comes together. Press into pan and cook for 25-30 minutes until slightly golden brown. While crust is cooking make the lemon later:

4 eggs
pinch of salt
4 tbsp flour
2 cups sugar
2 lemons zest and juice

In a medium bowl, beat eggs with salt. Mix in rest of ingredients. Pour over hot crust and bake for another 25 minutes.

Cool and dust with powdered sugar.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Skillet Lemon Chicken

Skillet Lemon Chicken
adapted from Ready, Set, Eat

I used the recipe on Ready, Set, Eat as a basic guideline, but there were quite a few things I changed due to what we had on hand :) This is how I did it, but you can go to the website for the original recipe.


2 cups uncooked white rice
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
16 ounces fresh broccoli florets 
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cloves garlic, minced 
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest


Start cooking the rice.  While it's cooking, place chicken in medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and toss slightly. At this point I cooked the fresh broccoli so it would be ready to add to the skillet by the time the chicken was done cooking.

Use the rest of the olive oil to coat a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add broccoli and garlic; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes. 

Stir together broth and cornstarch in small bowl until well blended. Gradually add to chicken mixture; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in lemon juice and zest. Serve over rice.


This was really simple and had a lot of good garlic and lemon flavor. After we had dinner we started to think of what else we could use this with. It would work really well over pasta with some freshly grated parmesan cheese, or by itself alongside some garlic mashed potatoes. Bonus: my daughter ate it all! Yes! Really good basic recipe to have on hand, I didn't even have to go shopping for ingredients on this one!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tortellini with Lemon Cream Sauce

Tortellini with Lemon Cream Sauce 

1 package fresh cheese tortellini (8 oz.)
3 tablespoons butter
1.5 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Begin cooking fresh tortellini according to package directions.

In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add in heavy cream and bring to a boil.  Once you've reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium.  Add in the juice of one lemon, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Taste the sauce to check for salt and pepper.  I like a lot of pepper in my cream sauce and if it doesn't taste savory enough, it probably needs more salt.

Allow the sauce to bubble lightly until it reaches your desired consistency.  Once you are happy with the thickness of your sauce, reduce the heat to low until your tortellini is ready.

Drain tortellini and add to the large saucepan.  Toss to coat.  Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated black pepper and a slice of lemon.

Uh, DELISH. That's all. Not the most healthy meals, so only make it once in awhile. Or when you really need something satisfying!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

creamy taco mac

Creamy Taco Mac
adapted from Annie's Eats

1¼ lbs. ground turkey
  8oz. dry pasta shapes (I used a whole 16 oz box)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.  Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground turkey over medium-high heat until no longer pink.  A few minutes before the turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet.  Once the turkey is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.  Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

**my notes...this was delicious, fast, and easy. A staple in our house! Leftovers are just as good too!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Corn Chowder

Please forgive my poor photography skills, I'll work on it :) But believe me when I tell you that this was yummy and easy to make (two of my favorite things!).

Corn Chowder
"Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book"

6 ears fresh corn or 3 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 c. chopped onion (I used dried onion since the man is anti-onion texture)
1/2 c. chopped sweet green pepper (I skipped this)
1 tbl cooking oil
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1 c cubed, peeled potato
4 tsp all-pupose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 c milk
3 slices bacon, crisp cooked, drained and crumbled
2 tbl snipped fresh parsley


1. If using fresh corn, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cobs, set aside.

2. In a large saucepan cook onion and sweet pepper in hot oil until the onion is tender but not brown. (I skipped this step and moved right into the chicken broth. I added the dried onion at the same time I added the corn). Stir in the chicken broth and potato. Bring to boiling: reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 min. Stir in corn. COok, covered, about 10 min or until potato and corn are tender, stirring occasionally.

3. In a small bowl combine flour, salt, and pepper. Stir milk into flour mixture; add to corn minture in saucepan. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 min more. Add bacon; heat through. If desired, garnish each serving with parsley.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

salted caramel cupcakes

 I made these the other week-oh my! they were soo delish. That frosting is amazing, and then you add in caramel sauce? yup. It's all over. mmmm....

Salted Caramel Cupcakes
from Our Best Bites

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar (dark brown sugar is REALLY important!)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. milk

Sara's Perfect Cupcake Frosting
About 1/2 c. caramel sauce
12 Werther's soft caramels
Dipping chocolate (just a wee bit), made with bittersweet or dark chocolate; I used 4 oz. of chocolate with 1 tsp. canola oil and had plenty leftover
Kosher or sea salt

I didn't do the chocolate dipped caramels on top cause I forgot to buy them, but it was still delicious.

Preheat oven to 350. Using 18 cupcake liners, line muffin tins. I used paper liners, but I think foil would be a better choice.
In another bowl (preferably the bowl of an electric mixer), combine sugars and butter together on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 1 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Prepare dipping chocolate. Dip the ugly side of the caramel into the chocolate, about halfway down the caramel. Place chocolate-side-up on a plate and then allow to harden. 
Prepare Sara's Perfect Cupcake Frosting. Very gently mix the caramel sauce or buttermilk syrup into the frosting--you want there to be swirls of caramel visible. Add a little more if you want--this is an art, not science here!After you've frosted the cupcakes, top each cupcake with a chocolate-dipped caramel and then sprinkle with a VERY scant sprinkling of Kosher or sea salt--it's just a little garnish and a really enhances the flavors of the cupcake.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie

...made this yummy peanut butter pie over Labor Day. Not the healthiest thing....but delish nonetheless. Recipe below in case you'd also like to go into a peanut butter chocolate coma like I did.

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie


    1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust 1 cup creamy peanut butter 1/2 cup sugar 8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature) 4.5 cups (12oz. container) of non-dairy whipped topping, divided 1 jar Hot fudge topping, divided


Combine in a med. bowl, the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups whipped topping. Spoon mixture into the pie shell. Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie. Reserve 2 tbsp. of hot fudge topping and place remaining hot fudge topping into microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Microwave for 1 min. Stir.

Spread hot fudge topping over pie to cover the pnut butter layer. Refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, spread the remaining whipped topping (1.5 cups) over hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers. Place the 2 Tbs. hot fudge topping in a small plastic bag and knead for a few seconds. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle over pie. Do the same with 2 tbsp. peanut butter going in the opposite direction of the hot fudge topping.

Friday, March 11, 2011

chocolatey peanut butter cookies

Soft & Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

What You Need

4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup  peanut butter
2 eggs
1 pkg.  (2-layer size) devil's food cake mix

Make It

HEAT oven to 375ºF.
BEAT cream cheese, peanut butter and eggs in large bowl with mixer on low speed 1 min. Add dry cake mix; beat on medium speed 1 min. or until mixture pulls away from side of bowl and forms soft dough. (See Tip.)
SHAPE into 44 (1-inch) balls. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Flatten each ball, in criss-cross pattern, with tines of fork dipped in sugar.
BAKE 7 to 8 min. or just until edges of cookies are set. (Do not overbake.) Cool on baking sheet 2 min. Remove to wire rack; cool completely. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

marshmallow fondant

Here is the recipe I've used for my marshmallow fondant-I've used it on quite a few cakes and it usually comes together easily for me, of course I've had stubborn batches, but not too  many. It's fun to make your own fondant, definitely cheaper than ready-made, and it tastes better. (according to my hubby, I don't eat it)

marshmallow fondant

 Carousel cake

Ice cream cone cake

Minnie Mouse cake