Oct 4, 2008

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Months ago, my friend Amber asked me to find her a good Red Velvet cupcake recipe. I'm not sure I'd even eaten a Red Velvet cupcake before. I just knew that they were red. After a little sleuthing I learned some interesting things about Red Velvet cake. In World War II, when foods were being rationed, chocolate was scarce. So, in order to color their cakes, beet juice was used - leading to the deep red color. Nowadays, we have chocolate and red dye in every grocery store, but the cake still stands. The chocolate in this recipe is used more as a leavening agent, and when mixed with the buttermilk and vinegar, it adds to the rich, red, velvet-y color.

So, after my research, I can now present you with what I believe is - by far - the best Red Velvet cupcake recipe I've ever had. Even better than Sprinkles. And the frosting - oh, the frosting! - is divine!

You'll notice when you read through the recipe that some of the measurements are in weight, not volume. Do NOT just convert it to cups. It must be measured out. Kitchen scales come in all different forms, but it's not too hard to find a cheap one at any grocery/superstore/kitchen store. This is a key reason why these cupcakes are so amazing. The ingredient measurements are perfect, and so worth the extra effort.

16 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
13 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring (a 1oz bottle is the perfect size)
1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider both work)
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cup water

For the cream cheese frosting:
3/4 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 pound butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

2. In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla, and water; mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally. Mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.

3. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center or a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool.

For the cream cheese frosting:
Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
The frosting can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator up to a week.
Frost cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.

This recipe will make about 30 regular sized cupcakes, 16 jumbo cupcakes (cook 22-24 minutes), or 60 mini cupcakes (cook 10-12 minutes).

Now...go make these! They are HEAVENLY!

recipe adapted from the Food Network

Alfredo Sauce

Super Easy and Super Yummy! The first time I made this with grated parmesan cheese in the tall green can. Don't make that mistake! It was super grainy and nasty. Go buy a package of shredded parmesan cheese. It melts much faster and has a better flavor.

1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley(optional)

1.Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Stir in parsley and serve.

S'more Brownies

Another Food Network Favorite! I doubled the crust. We were also in a hurry(we brought this over to our neighbor's for a dessert night) so I just used a box brownie mix. It turned out heavenly, I can't wait to try it with the full brownie recipe(and a great big glass of milk)! They were even better the next morning for breakfast...

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch fine salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
4 large cold eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups large marshmallows (I just used 16)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch.
For the crust: Lightly butter the foil with some of the melted butter. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the brownie. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir, and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. Alternatively, put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Stir the light brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares. (this part was tricky! Just make sure you clean the knife after each cut or you will make a huge mess!!)

Chocolate Cake and Strawberry Sauce

This recipe is all Emma. Some of you may remember her restaurant menu, which was all chocolate. She was in charge of treats for our weekly Family Home Evening. What did she choose? Chocolate. With chocolate sauce. With strawberry sauce. That's my girl!

Since she was going to be making it with me, and since we were going to be making 3 different things, I wanted to simplify it by using a box cake mix. So, I won't be listing that recipe. I used a Devils Food Betty Crocker mix and added a small box of instand vanilla pudding mix. Other than that addition, I did everything else according to the directions and cooked it in a bundt pan("It's a bunt..." - name that movie!).

For the strawberry sauce I boiled 4 cups of strawberries and mashed them with a potato masher while they cooked. I then added 1/4 cup of sugar and pureed it in the blender.

For the chocolate sauce I used a ganache recipe from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, but it was much too thin. I would suggest using a chocolate glaze recipe, or letting the cake cool longer in between coats. I put a cooling rack on top of a large mixing bowl. Then I placed the completely cooled cake on top of the cooling rack and poured the chocolate ganache over it. The bowl caught the drippings and I reused them 7 times to drip over the top of the cake, each time letting it cool a bit.

My husband raved about this cake - and he doesn't do that often. We all loved it and it was gone in two days!! (One of those days I had more pieces than I'd like to admit...). Sorry that this isn't a traditional recipe, but it was really simple and Emma was ecstatic!

Rebekah's "Favorite Apple Pie"

My friend, Rebekah, posted this recipe on her blog and it sounded so good I just had to make it. I had some weird crust issues, but it turned out delicious! I used my regular crust recipe, but doubled it and for some reason it was way too moist. I added some extra flour and thought it was fine until I went to roll it out and found it to still be too moist and floppy. But, I just wanted to get that pie in the oven, so I used it as it was and it turned out just fine.

Here's what Rebekah had to say:

Now don't get the idea that I never visit bakeries or desert menus for pie. I do. I just go for the cream pies because those I do not make very well. I get lazy and use a boxed pudding mix. I readily admit that bakery and restaurant cream pies are far richer and therefore, far superior to my own. I just feel guilty adding all that sugar and cream so I’d rather not know how much was actually used. Fruit pies are easy to justify especially if you make it yourself. The sugar is minimal and the butter sprinkled on top really doesn’t count. Wink, wink.

Favorite Apple Pie (really that is what it's called, mom will have to clarify where it comes from because I just copied it out of her recipe box)

6 large,tart apples
2 T flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown cugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t butmeg
1/8 t salt
1 T lemon juice
3 T butter

Peel and cut the apples into 16 slices each. Place in a pan with 1/4 cup cold water. Simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Fill pastry pan with apples. Combine remaining ingredients except lemon juice and butter and sprinkle over apples. Add the lemon juice over the top and dot with the butter. Add the top crust and cut vents in it. Bake at 450* for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350* and bake for 45 minutes.

Pastry recipe for 2 crust pie
2 c. flour
1 t salt
Mix together and then cut in 2/3 cup shortening until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add 4-5 T cold water and moisten. Divide in half. Roll out one half and place in empty pie pan. Add filling and then cover with rolled out remaining portion.

Perfect Pizza Dough

It took me years to finally find a recipe for pizza crust that tastes restaurant-quality. Apparently it isn't so much the ingredients as it is the technique!! It might take you a couple of tries to get it right, but trust me, when you do, the results will speak for themselves. The first time I made this I thought my house was going to burn down! My pizza stone turned completely black while it was pre-heating in the oven and our house filled with smoke. I put the pizza on it anyway and it turned out perfect!


1 1/2 cups 110 degree water
2 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbls. olive oil
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup cornmeal
pizza sauce - of your choice, as needed shredded cheese - of your choice, as needed toppings - of your choice, as needed


-In a large bowl, dissolve sugar and salt in water.
-Add oil and flour to bowl and stir with heavy spoon for 1 minute.
-Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a circle.
-Sprinkle yeast evenly over dough and knead for 12 minutes.
-Divide dough into 2 equal-sized portions for pizza OR 4 equal-sized portions for calzones and roll each portion into a ball. (see Notes, below)
-Place dough balls in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm location(don't be surprised when it doesn't rise much...you didn't put much yeast in it! it's not supposed to rise a lot).
-Place a dough ball on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle a light coating of flour on top.
-Working from the edges to the center, press dough into a 12" circle.
-Preheat a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven for 1 hour.(this is the main part I was missing!)
-Coat a large board with cornmeal and place the dough onto the cornmeal.
-Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
-For calzones, fold crust over itself in half.(I make mini calzones - see below)
-Gently shake the cutting board, assuring it isn't sticking to the board.-Slide the pizza/calzone from the cutting board directly onto the stone in the oven.
-Bake in a 500 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden.
Notes: Before allowing the dough to rise, you may place it in a plastic zipper bag and freeze. When ready to use, thaw at room temperature, then proceed with instructions.

I like to make one pizza and use the rest of the dough for pizza rolls/pizza pockets/mini calzones.
Sorry I didn't take a picture when they were out of the bag. I got them all bagged up and then remembered the picture...and by then I was too lazy to take them all out again. :)

Sep 6, 2008

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I guess I should label this post just "Sweet and Sour Sauce," since the meatballs are just frozen meatballs from Costco, but the combination is what makes this meal so stellar. The sauce is straight out of Betty Crocker's Cookbook(a staple in our house), with just a few small modifications. We like to serve this over brown rice with a green salad as a side. I'm labeling this as kid-friendly because I've never met a child who didn't love this dish. I usually serve it when we have big group dinners with lots of kids because I know everyone will like it...and it is SO easy and flexible. It can be made ahead of time, frozen, microwaved, crock-potted, or whatever else you can think of and still taste delicious.


1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 can (20 oz)crushed pineapples** in juice, drained and juice reserved
2/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper***


1. Mix brown sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan.

2. Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup; stir into sugar mixture. Stir in vinegar and soy sauce.

3. Heat to boiling over medium heat stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in pineapple and bell pepper.

4. Use sauce immediately, or cover and refrigerate for 2 weeks or freeze up to one year.

Betty recommends you serve this with pork, poultry or seafood. I usually cook about 30 Kirkland brand meatballs in the oven for 18 minutes and throw them in a crock pot, cover with sweet and sour sauce, and leave on the low setting until we are ready to eat. If I start the meatballs first and cook the sauce while they are in the oven, I can be done with this meal in less than 20 minutes. We use a rice cooker for our rice so all I have to do at dinner time is assemble the food on plates! So easy!

* The original recipe calls for half of what I posted above. When using this sauce for dipping, I would recommend halving it(like if you are having egg rolls), but for this dinner, you want a lot of sauce.
**if you don't have a can of crushed pineapples you can use any other kind of pineapples(sliced, chunks, tidbits, rings) and just cut them up. I prefer to use pineapple tidbits or chunks and leave them as they are so the sauce is a bit chunkier
*** I prefer red bell peppers for flavor and color. I usually use 1/2 of a bell pepper, diced.

Yummy Banana Bread

This picture was taken 2 days after I made the bread and it's sat in the fridge...so it got a bit shiny.

This is the best banana bread recipe I can find. I tried a bunch before adopting this one as my favorite. It is moist, sweet, and just the right texture. Plus, it has lots of banana flavor! One of the most important things is to use very ripe bananas. Over-ripe. You want as much sweet banana flavor as possible.

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, whisk flour, soda, salt, and sugar. Mix in beaten eggs, melted butter and mashed bananas.

3. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for one our or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I like to add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon, but that can be done to your liking. Have some fun with this recipe - make muffins, mini loafs, or pour it all in one loaf pan and make a big moist loaf of banana bread. I always double this as my family will eat one batch in a day and I like to make it last at least 2.

Corn Dogs

I first have to comment on the small portions of side dishes...this was my daughter's plate. That said, we can move on!
My husband made these delicious corn dogs for dinner tonight. They were a hit! Well, except my son wasn't a big fan, but he's not much of an eater lately anyway. Initially Ian made the batter too thick(by adding a little extra cornmeal and flour) but then thinned it out by adding an extra egg and a little milk. I would suggest you experiment with the thickness of the batter. We like ours a little on the thicker side, so his alterations worked great for us!
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white sugar*
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
2 (16 ounce) packages beef
16 wooden skewers

1. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder. Stir in eggs and milk.

2. Preheat oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat(we used our deep fryer). Insert wooden skewers into frankfurters**. Roll frankfurters in batter until well coated***.

3. Fry 2 or 3 corn dogs at a time for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.
*He substituted honey for the sugar, which is why he added more flour and cornmeal. He thought the honey would make the batter too thin.
**Roll the hot dogs in cornstarch before dipping in the batter, it helps the batter stick.
***You can pour the batter into a deep drinking glass or a mason jar. That way, you can just dip the dogs in the batter and keep your hands clean.

Bubble Up Pizza

This is a family favorite not just in our house, but in my husband's family as well. Super easy and definitely a kid-friendly meal. My kids love to make this with me.
2 packages (3 oz) grand size tube refrigerated biscuits(should be 16 biscuits total)
15 oz pizza sauce

6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Any other toppings desired - cooked sausage, ham, or ground beef, pepperonis, olives, pineapples, etc.

1. Quarter biscuits and place in a greased 9x13 pan. Top with sauce and toppings. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with cheese and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.

My only extra advice is to make sure the biscuits are cooked thoroughly before adding the cheese. We've had too many un-done biscuit centers...yuck.

Banana Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the frosting below.

1 (8 ounce) package cream
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream


1. In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream
When Banana Bars have cooled completely, frost with above frosting. I found this frosting to be thinner than most - which made it light and delicious, but also didn't stay on the bars when they were room temperature. So I suggest chilling until serving. I also froze half(with the frosting on) and defrosted them in the fridge before serving.

Blueberry Cream Pie

Sorry for the poor picture....we need a new pie tin and I never thought to take a picture while I was serving it. I made this for dessert last week when we had some friends over. I got the recipe for the blueberry sauce from my friend Dawn, and modified(slightly) the crust recipe from my sister, Shannon. Then I just mixed some heavy whipping cream and a box of cream cheese for the topping...So yummy! This recipe is kind of a hodge-podge collaboration, so I apologize for the helter-skelter-ness. (That is SO totally a real word.) But if you can follow it and decide to make it, you won't be disappointed.

Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter - cold
1/4 cup ice water(just enough to make dough stick together)
(above ingredients make one crust)

1. Mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, add water until dough sticks together.

2. Shape dough into a ball. You can either use dough immediately, refrigerate, or freeze for later.

3. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place dough between two sheets of wax paper, roll out to a round disk, slightly larger than your pie pan. Fold into quarters, place in pie pan, unfold and press into pan. Prick bottom and sides of pan thoroughly with fork, bake 6-8 minutes.

Blueberry Sauce
1qt (4 cups) blueberries(I use frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
2-4 tablespoons cornstarch(for this recipe, use the full 4 tablespoons)

Mix berries and sugar in small saucepan, add cornstarch. Cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for one full minute.

Pour into warm pie pan. Chill in refrigerator.

Cream Topping
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1. Mix heavy whipping cream until it stiffens. Add sugar and vanilla and mix until sugar is dissolved. Chill.

2. Whip cream cheese in mixer.

3. Mix the whipped cream with the cream cheese...but I think I whipped it too long because it got a little softer than I would have liked.

4. Pour cream mixture on top of the blueberries and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Fabulous Frenchbread

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
2 cups water
6 cups bread flour (I just use white flour)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (I've never used these)


1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with 2 cups water, 3 cups flour, salt, sugar and vegetable oil; stir well to combine*. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

3. Divide dough half. Roll each half into a 9 x 12 rectangle and roll up jelly roll style, starting at long edge. Seal edges and place seam side down on a large baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.

4. Use a sharp knife to slash each loaf diagonally 3 times. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

*I just mix it all in my Kitchenaid -including the kneading time- for about 7 minutes on the #2 setting, then put it in a greased bowl, covered with a damp towel in the warm oven. Other than that, I follow all of the directions and it turns out perfect every time!

Aug 9, 2008

Buttermilk Cornbread

YUM!! I doubled this recipe, cut into quarters, froze 3 quarters, and we had one for dinner that night. Ian made some honey butter(just mix some honey in with your butter - super easy!) and we devoured this!
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.

2.Melt butter in large skillet*. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3.Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*Melting the butter and mixing in the ingredients all in the same skillet/pot/pan cuts down on a bunch of messy dishes. Great idea!

Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

(the chicken looks a little pink from the red wine...I promise it's cooked all the way!)

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 lime, juiced (I used 1/4-1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
10 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup salsa

1. Saute chicken in a medium saucepan over medium high heat for about 20 minutes(took me more like 12). Add vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Simmer for an extra 10 minutes.

2. Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, warm, and turn over to heat the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve lime chicken mixture in warm tortillas topped with tomato, lettuce, cheese and salsa.
I changed a few things with this recipe. We didn't have red wine vinegar, but we had red wine from another recipe, and we had vinegar...so I did half wine, half vinegar and that worked fine. I didn't add the oregano - I thought that sounded like an odd thing to add. If I'd had cilantro, I would have added that instead. We were also out of tomatoes, so I used red, orange, and yellow bell peppers - pretty and yummy too!

Jul 20, 2008

Doughnut Muffins

I'm not sure where exactly we got this recipe from...my recipe card says my mother-in-law, but both my husband and myself think it came from my sister in law. Either way it is so absolutely ridiculously delicious! They take a little more effort than your typical muffin, but they take much less effort than a doughnut. And they are so worth it!


24 tablespoons(3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
6 cups flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons nutmeg
1 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup buttermilk

16 tablespoon(2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour muffin tins

2. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time until just mixed in.

3. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

4. Combine milk and buttermilk with a wooden spoon. Mix 1/4 dry ingredients into butter mixture. next, mix in 1/3 milk mixture. Continue alternating wet and dry, ending with dry. Do not overmix.

5. Add 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup dough into each muffin cup. Bake 30-35 minutes.

6. Melt 16 tablespoons butter. In separate bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. When muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove from tin, dip in butter(the whole muffin) and roll in cinnamon and sugar.

*If you're not going to eat/serve them all(it makes a lot), freeze them before you dip in butter and sugar. Then, when you're ready to serve again, thaw, microwave, and coat in butter, then cinnamon and sugar mixture. They'll taste just as fresh as the day you cooked them!

*I've also seen these made in muffin cups and just the top is coated in the butter and cinnamon/sugar. This would make for much less mess, but in my opionion, much less yumminess. It would be a good solution if you're in a hurry.

Jul 16, 2008

Poppyseed Chicken

When my mom was sick we had many meals brought over. Our first meal was this poppyseed chicken. My sister and I had hardly eaten anything for the past week or so, and weren't really feeling very hungry anyway. We served ourselves small portions, but had to go back for more...and more! It is sooo delicious, and very easy! The only downside is that it's not the healthiest dish(with all of the creams and butters), so we like to serve it over brown rice, next to a vegetable.
5 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups crushed buttery round crackers(Ritz)*
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Place the chicken into a 9x13 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, stir together the condensed soup and sour cream. Pour over the chicken. In a separate bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter. Sprinkle over the chicken and sauce.

3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top of the casserole is browned and the sauce is bubbly.
*To crush the crackers, I put them in a gallon zip lock bag and go over them with the rolling pin.

Jul 10, 2008

Hawaiian Rolls

 We first had these rolls at my friend Amanda's house and I couldn't wait to make them myself. I changed it just slightly, so I posted the original recipe below and my alterations below that.

1 1/2 cups warm water (110
degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon honey
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 tablespoons butter flavored
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle for a 2 pound batch; press Start. The dough can be a bit sticky, so you may want to add a little bit more bread flour as it mixes.

2. When the dough cycle is complete, turn the risen dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide into twelve equal pieces. Form the pieces into rounds and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

My changes:

I didn't use the bread machine - I just mixed it in the mixer and used the dough hook for the kneading, placed it in a greased bowl and let rise, then spread out on the counter to form into rolls. Also, I made 24 instead of 12, but my friend said they're way better when you make them in the larger size, so I'll try that next time. I used my basting brush to spread a little bit of egg mixed with cream on top before cooking, and melted butter on top after they came out of the oven. Don't be afraid to use the molasses - I loathe that flavor, but you can't tell it's in here. They melt in your mouth!

I just updated this post with some new and better pictures and wanted to add one more note. I made these for a church activity and we were out of lemon extract. I just omitted it and they ended up tasting more like Hawaiian Rolls. Either way is fantastic. With the lemon they are more fragrant and obviously lemon-y, but without it they are equally as fabulous, just different. Also, for the church activity I made 48 smaller rolls instead of the 12 large and they were gone fast!

Jul 7, 2008

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Delicious. We made no changes. It made plenty so we delivered to 2 sets of neighbors, and still have plenty!

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter flavored
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, 1 cup creamy peanut butter and white and brown sugars. Add vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add slowly to creamy mixture.

3. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Flatten balls with a fork.

4. Bake for 7-8 minutes depending on size (we did exactly 7). Cool on wire racks.

5. To Make the filling: Combine 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and milk in a small bowl adding enough milk to make for a creamy, frosting like texture. Spread frosting on one cookie and top off to make "sandwich".

Jul 5, 2008

Clone of a Cinnabon

I wish Ian could take credit for these awesome creations, but no. I've got to give credit to Marsha Fernandez from AllRecipes.com. This recipe has received 5 stars(out of 5) from 2067 reviewers - and it is sooooooooooooo awesome. Ian makes these about a couple times a month to take to work when his branches have no doc errors...and he always saves some for us. They are divine.

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees
F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream
cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt


1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.

2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown**, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

*We actually double the frosting recipe, which I didn't do in this post because I wanted to post the recipe as-is from the website.

**DON'T overcook!!! In order for these to really taste like Cinnabon's rolls, you cannot overcook these. They need to be just cooked enough that they aren't doughy, but are still soft and dense.

Peanut Butter Play-Dough

This past week I had a house full of kids, so I decided to make them some edible play dough. This recipe was great and made a bunch for another day!

3 1/2 cups peanut butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 cups honey
4 cups dry milk powder

1. In large bowl, cream together peanut butter and confectioners' sugar, then beat in honey and fold in milk powder. Divide into 15 equal portions and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

I mixed all of the ingredients in the mixer in the order stated above, but had trouble when I added the milk powder. It was just way too thick! So I turned it out onto my counter and mixed it with my hands, which took a while, but worked really well. The kids LOVED this. And they loved that they could eat it. My nephew was really hesitant because he said it would make him sick(bless his heart for being obedient and not eating regular Play-Doh!), but once I told him that this was different he tried it and liked it. They didn't eat very much, they more just tasted it and then played with it. My younger daughter sat and played for a full hour, 30 minutes after everyone else had left the counter!
Also, I tried it with organic peanut butter and it was way too sticky, so I added a little Jiffy and that seemed to help.

Jun 29, 2008

Best Brownies

These brownies are absolutely divine when they're fresh and warm, but the best part about them is that they are almost better the next day. I say almost because it's pretty hard to beat warm gooey brownies, but these don't get dry and hard the next day, like most baked goods. We love them served over homemade ice cream, so I will add that recipe at the end.

Best Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened
cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
4. To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.
Vanilla Ice Cream
This recipes uses the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker, which we absolutely love!
1 c whole milk, well chilled
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 c heavy cream
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Turn machine on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.

Jun 28, 2008

Chicken Parmigiana w/ Chunky Marinara Sauce

My husband made this for me on Mothers' Day. It was perfectly crispy outside and nice and moist inside. I tend to overcook my chicken because I have a raw-chicken-phobia(anyone else?) but Ian is very good at cooking chicken just right. He matched this dish perfectly with the Chunky Marinara Sauce recipe below.

Chicken Parmigiana

4 (4 ounce) boneless, skinless
chicken breast halves
1/2 cup seasoned bread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter or
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and basil. In another bowl, beat the egg. Dip chicken into egg, then coat with crumb mixture. In a large skillet, brown chicken in butter and oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

Chunky Marinara Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and
diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2 to 4 minutes until crisp-tender, stirring frequently.
2. Mix in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until flavors are blended, stirring frequently.

Jun 25, 2008

Cream Puffs

OK I have to appologive for the crummy picture. It was taken the day after I made them and they'd been sitting in the fridge overnight. The powdered sugar that I dusted them with the previous night had been absorbed or something, so you can't see it. But, don't let the ugly pic fool you - these were super stellar.
This recipe was much easier that I thought it would be.
2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant
vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 eggs (you need to experiment and see how you like it. I did 4 eggs and found it a bit too eggy when I tried a puff without the filling. But with the filling I couldn't tell)

1.Whisk together vanilla instant pudding mix, cream and milk. Cover and refrigerate to set.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

3. In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil*. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry. When you remove the puffs from the oven, they will be very large and full. As they cool, they will shrink. To prevent them from shrinking too much, prick each with a toothpick while hot to let some of the steam escape.

5. When the shells are cool, either split and fill them with the pudding mixture, or use a pastry bag to pipe the pudding into the shells. I used my frosting tool(no idea what to call it) and made a bit of a spiral in the puff before replacing the tops of the puffs.
I then melted some chocolate chips with a little bit of corn syrup, put it into a plastic bag and cut the tip off to drizzle the hot chocolate over the tops. When that had cooled and hardened, I sprinkled the tops with powdered sugar.
*a rolling boil is a boil that doesn't lessen when stirred.

Spice Cake Oreos

We have used this recipe on just about every kind of cake mix and it has worked perfectly every time. It's SO simple and SO delicious. If you want a more traditional Oreo flavor cookie, try this recipe.

1(18.25 oz) cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil - or 1/2 cup shortening
1 can cream cheese frosting(or any flavor)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine all 3 ingredients(I use my stand mixer).
3. Roll into 1-2 inch balls and place on baking sheet, flattening slightly.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes until just cooked.
5. Let cool on wire rack. Match cookies into pairs of similarly sized cookies. Spread one with frosting and top with second cookie.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Filling and Lemon Butter Frosting

This is an Easter Sunday favorite for our family. It takes a lot of time, but it is so worth it. It's actually a bit deceiving, though. It's not actually a lemon cake. It's just a very dense yellow cake with lemon filling and lemon frosting. I've tried using the cake for other recipes(specifically, my daughter's birthday cake) but it isn't as good without all of the lemony layers.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup white sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh lemon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 inch round pans. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
To make filling: In medium saucepan, mix together 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth. Mix in 6 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup sugar, and bring mixture to boil over medium heat. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. In small bowl, with a wire whisk, beat egg yolks until smooth. Whisk in a small amount of the hot lemon mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan, beating the hot lemon mixture rapidly. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes, or until thick (not to boil).
Pour mixture into medium bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface to keep skin from forming as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 3 hours.
To make frosting: In large bowl, beat confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until smooth. Beat in milk, and increase speed and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
To assemble: With long serrated knife, split each cake layer in half horizontally, making 4 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a serving plate. Spread with half of the lemon filling. Top with another layer, and spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Add third layer, and spread with remaining half of the lemon filling. Press on final cake layer, and frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Refrigerate cake until serving time.

PB&J for the Masses

When I was pregnant with my 3rd, I had no energy to feed anybody. My sweet husband ended up working his tail off just to keep my family fed and my house liveable. One idea we had was to make a bunch of sandwiches and freeze them so that all I had to do was take some out, let them defrost, and serve them with yogurt and a fruit. I know making PB&J is one of the easiest things on earth, but when you're carrying a 9lb kick boxer, every little time saver becomes a life saver. So here's what we do every other month or so:

I start with 2 loaves of bread, spread them out all over the counter. I then spread half of them with Peanut butter and the other half with Jelly, working row by row. Then I combine them into sandwiches and use my nifty Krustbuster. We used to use the Pampered Chef Cut 'n Seal but my hands got sore after a while. The Krustbuster is much easier.
Depending on what I'm using them for, I'll either seal them in individual plastic bags(to put in my older daughter's lunch box) or 9 in gallon Ziplocs to use at home. Then I just stick them in the freezer and save for busy days!

Honey Wheat Bread

I have modified this recipe a bit from it's original, and every time I make it I do it different. So what you're getting here is a general idea. What I have found with baking bread is that there are so many different techniques and combinations of ingredients, that each person has to figure out what works best for them. I'll try to give you the simplified version with some substitutions at the end.

I start with ground wheat. We originally bought a manual grinder. After about an hour of my husband, myself, and my two daughters tiring ourselves and only coming up with 1 cup of wheat, we gave up that idea. We then purchased the Kitchenaid Grain Mill Attachment(look around, you can get a better price), which is wonderful! It's fast, not too loud, and works great.

1 (.25 ounce) package rapid
rise yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup warm water (110
degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 (12 fluid ounce) can
evaporated milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup melted shortening
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour(I just use regular white)
2 tablespoons butter (optional...I usually do without)

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Let sit about 10 minutes - until yeast has become a layer of foam on top of mixture.

2. Combine milk, 1/4 cup water, shortening, honey, salt and wheat flour in mixer or bowl. Mix in yeast mixture, and let rest 15 minutes. Add white flour, and mix with dough hook (or spoon) until dough forms a ball. If you have a mixer, you can turn it to 4 speed and let machine knead for about 7 minutes. If you are doing this by hand, knead about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with non-stick spray, and turn to coat.

(this dough is actually a little more moist and sticky than usual, but it still turned out great)Cover the bowl with a warm, damp towel. Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled. If I'm in a hurry I turn the oven to warm, and when it is ready, I put the towel covered bowl in the oven and turn the oven off. This way it only takes about 20 - 25 minutes to rise.

3. Punch down, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface(depending on the dough stickiness - I usually don't flour the counter at all), and pound out the bubbles.

Cut dough in half down the middle and roll each loaf into a long cylinder - about the length of your pan.

When you transfer the dough to your buttered (I spray them with Pam)bread pans (9x5), tuck each end under itself and smush the bread into the loaf to take up the bottom of the pan.

If you wish to butter the tops of the dough, do so now. I usually just sprinkle some oatmeal on top. Cover again with damp towel. Let rise in a warm area(again, to speed things up, pop in the warm oven) until doubled; second rise should take about 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tops are dark golden brown. Butter crusts while warm(if desired). Slice when cool.

Variations: I usually subtract some of the white flour and make up for it by adding a combination of flax seed, wheat germ, and oatmeal. I also like to add a bit more honey. The original recipe called for only 1/4 cup, but I usually add just over 1/2 cup, and sometimes more. I'm sure you could take away more white flour(or even all of it) and add more of the wheat flour, but I prefer my bread to be a bit softer. You'll notice I don't use regular metal pans for my bread. I prefer silicone pans for most of my baking. Bread slides right out of the pan and it doesn't keep cooking hen I remove it from the oven.

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