Mar 26, 2012

Spicy Truffles

Today we are going to be talking about Valentine's Day. Well, I am going to be writing about it and you will be quietly agreeing with me while you read. If you agree, just nod your head. I'll know.

I just have to confess my dislike of Valentine's Day. And before you go thinking this bitterness comes from a woman scorned, or even just from a woman who hasn't gotten what she wanted on this special day of love, think again. My husband is both sweet and thoughtful. He never forgets a birthday, anniversary, or Valentine's Day. And until a couple of years ago, he always bought me beautiful flowers each February 14th.

That's because a couple of years ago, I asked him to stop. I'm sure right now plenty of you are thinking I'm insane. And you'd be right. But for many other reasons besides this (I do have four children).

Still here? Okay we'll continue... I asked him to stop bringing me flowers because flowers on Valentine's Day do not mean that my husband loves me, thought of me, cares deeply for me, or even that he thinks I'm kinda great. Flowers on Valentine's Day mean my man thought that if he didn't buy me flowers, his wife would be upset that he didn't bow to society's pressures to spend $100 on something that will be dead and in the trash in 2 weeks.

Flowers because my husband was afraid of sleeping on the couch? No thanks.

Now, flowers on May 7th? December 11th? August 3rd? Any random day and just because he thought of me? Yes please!

I do know that for some women, Valentine's Day might be the only day they do get flowers. To you I say... make your husband these spicy truffles. Randomly. On April 3rd. January 15th. Any day in November. Surprise him and make him feel special. Maybe he'll love them so much that he'll go to the florist right away and bring home a dozen red beauties. You never know...

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1/3 cup cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine cream, cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Heat and stir until simmering. Add chocolate and stir until melted.
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until firm - about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Place toasted coconut and cocoa powder in separate bowls. Remove chocolate from fridge and let sit 30 minutes to soften. Scoop out chocolate into tablespoon-size segments. Roll into balls and roll in toppings to coat.

Mar 19, 2012

New York Cheesecake

Have you ever been to The Cheesecake Factory? And had a brain aneurysm trying to pick a flavor of cheesecake to eat? Seriously, there are more flavors on that menu than in a bag of Jelly Bellies. Don't get me wrong - I loooove The Cheesecake Factory. I love their meals and their cheesecakes. I just have serious commitment issues when it is time to pick a cheesecake. Fruity or chocolatey? More basic original flavor or something so un-cheesecake-ish, like red velvet? Caramelly? Oreos? Cookie dough? Nuts? Snickers? Gah! Do you see my dilemma?! Luckily for you, I made a perfect, plain, New York Cheesecake that you can either eat simply, or jazz up as much as you like. I added my friend's blueberry sauce recipe and it was perfect. No aneurysms in sight. 

One little note to keep in mind - this cake cooks for an hour and then cools in the oven for 5-6 hours. And then it needs to chill in the refrigerator a few hours before serving, so it's nice and cold. It's best to bake it the day before you plan on serving, so it's cooled and chilled before you need it. 


1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (About 15 whole crackers chopped in the food processor. Or smashed with a hammer. Your choice)
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a spring form pan (or a cake pan) with foil and grease with nonstick cooking spray. 

Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter or margarine, and cinnamon until well blended. Press mixture onto the bottom of a spring form pan (or on the bottom and up the sides of a cake pan).

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Boil about 4 cups of water and pour into a large baking pan. Place cheesecake inside pan filled with water. 

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Do not open oven. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.

Mar 16, 2012

Double Chocolate Cookies

This is just a variation of our traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe for when I'm craving a little more chocolate... well I suppose that's always. But these are the perfect craving calmer. And carb calmer. And yummers.


1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add cocoa and mix again.

In a separate bowl combine flour, soda, and salt. Stir dry mixture into wet mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Or shove them in your mouth while their hot... and burn your mouth. Totally worth the pain.

Mar 13, 2012

Vanilla Birthday Cupcakes

My baby boy is 5... years... old. *sniff* He has always had a special place in my heart. I got pregnant with him 2 months after my mom passed and 4 months before my daddy passed. We named him after my dad. I like to think that my son was sent to us with a little extra sweetness from my parents. He is super sweet, super snuggly, adores his momma, and has the most warm, big, brown eyes I've ever seen. His favorite color is pink. He loves Legos. And flying kites. Most days he can do no wrong. But on the rare occasion he does, he sure knows how to get out of it. 

So when my angel boy asked for pink birthday cupcakes to take to his preschool friends, I happily obliged. I even spruced them up a bit by adding nonpareil sprinkles to the insides, making them like Funfetti cupcakes. I adapted a recipe from my favorite blogger, Jessica. They were just right!


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup assorted nonpareil sprinkles + more for top of frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. Fold in assorted sprinkles.
Pour into cupcake tins and fill 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool, then frost.
 Vanilla Buttercream
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of milk, if needed
Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thick, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached If it’s too thin, add sugar gradually until it thickens. Frost cupcakes and top with sprinkles. 

Mar 12, 2012

Bananas Foster Cookies

I sure wish I'd taken the time to get a really good pic of these yummy treats. This pic definitely does NOT do them justice. We were running out the door to go to our church's talent show and I didn't have good lighting or time to really show these babies off.

I'm not a huge banana fan, but I am a lover of sweet carbs (hello, have we met?). This is the perfect blend of sweetness and texture to make these cute treats melt in your mouth. So good!


1 sheet puff pastry - thawed (half package - can be found in the freezer section of grocery store)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon milk
3 medium bananas, peeled
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon brown sugar - divided
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 18 muffin cups with cooking spray.

Make egg wash by mixing beaten egg with milk.

Unfold thawed pastry onto lightly floured surface. Roll out into an 18x9 inch rectangle. Brush with egg wash. Use a pizza slicer to cut pastry into 18 (3 inch) squares. Press the pastry into prepared muffin cups. Press center with finger.

Bake 10 minutes. Press center with handle of wooden spoon. Bake 6 to 8 minutes longer or until golden brown. Immediately press again in center. Let cool.

While pastries are cooking, heat 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a pot over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Combine remaining tablespoon of brown sugar with sour cream.

Remove pastries from muffin cups to serving dish and fill with 2-3 slices of bananas. Drizzle brown sugar sauce over the tops and add a spoonful of sour cream mixture. Serve immediately.

Mar 9, 2012

Sweet Potato Burgers

AKA Yamburgers!

These little yummies took a little longer to make than I expected, but in the end, they were worth every minute. They were so full of flavor and texture and deliciousness that I have vowed to make them weekly. I'm thinking of making a huge batch and freezing them. I'll let you know how they work out when I do.

They're also extremely good for you with lots of fiber and vitamins. See? Sometimes I make healthy food too. I don't eat dessert all the time. Well at least not for every meal. Maybe only two out of three.

2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs.), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
15 oz. black beans, drained
1 cup sweet corn
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup rolled oats
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
Oil for pan frying.

Cube your potatoes (leaving the skin on) and either oven roast (400f.), steam, or microwave in a large heat-safe bowl with a couple TBSP water until tender - I find the microwave to be a real time saver, and takes about 6-8 minutes. Stop to give them a stir every minute or two, until mashably soft.

Meanwhile, cook your quinoa. A 1/2 cup of dry will make enough for the burgers, but feel free to make extra. Add the quinoa to a small pot over medium heat, and let it toast for a minute or two. Add double the amount of water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Let cook 12-13 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it sit without removing the lid for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, meanwhile... Add your oats to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it looks like very coarse flour. About 30-40 pulses.

In a large bowl, combine about 2/3rds of the beans, and 2/3rds of the sweet potato. Mash with a potato masher until slightly chunky and not quite smooth. Add in the rest of the beans, sweet potato and all of the seasonings. Give it another mash or two, keeping some of the texture. Add all the other ingredients, and stir to combine.

Heat a skillet over medium-high, and add a drizzle of oil. Form about 1/2 cup of the mixture into a tight ball, then press it between your hands into a patty. Place patties in the hot skillet and cook 4-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate in the oven to keep warm, and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Add oil and adjust the heat on the pan as needed.

Chipotle Mayo

1 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
2-4 tablespoons of milk

Place 1 chipotle pepper, milk, and mayo in blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve on hamburger buns.

Recipe from

Mar 8, 2012

Homemade (healthier!) Pop Tarts

I'm going to make a confession. As much as I try to pretend I'm a healthy-non-processed-whole-foods eater, sometimes I really just want a package of Oreos. Or a box of Lucky Charms. Or maybe, just maybe a box of Pop Tarts.

I know a lot of you real grown ups would say that Pop Tarts taste like cardboard. And you'd be right. But apparently I like the taste of frosted, jelly filled cardboard. I'm not quite grown up yet (because I'm not a Broadway star yet, helloooo), so it's OK for me to like frosted, jelly filled cardboard. And to down a whole package of Oreos or three bowls of Lucky Charms in one sitting.

Okay, now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about my eating obsessions, I can tell you that regardless of whether you like cardboard or not, I think you'll love these tasty treats. They actually taste BETTER than cardboard. Shocking, I know. And they have wheat flour, so you totally don't have to feel guilty at all for eating 3. But if you go for a fourth, I will most definitely send a stink-eye in your direction.

We were able to get about 16 tarts out of this recipe. And they were so yummy!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup melted butter
1 cup plain yogurt
fruit jelly or jam – any flavor

Combine flours, salt, butter and yogurt.

Knead the dough just a little bit to make it nice and workable. Roll out the dough onto parchment paper. Roll as thin as you can without ripping the dough. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into Pop Tart size rectangles - we did about 3.5"x4.5".

Place about 2 teaspoons of jelly/jam on 1/2 of the dough rectangles. Spread the jelly around, leaving about 3/4" space from the edges. Wet the edges by dipping your finger in some water and dragging it around the edges. Place a plain rectangle on top of the jellied rectangle, sealing the edges together with a fork. Poke holes in the top to allow air to escape.

Transfer parchment paper to a baking sheet. Bake in a 350° oven 20-25 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. Remove from oven and as soon as tarts are cool enough to touch, flip them upside-down to flatten. Cool and frost.

Icing Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
Nonpareil sprinkles

Thoroughly combine powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of milk. Add more if it seems too thick. Drizzle or baste tarts with icing. Sprinkle with nonpareils.

Recipe adapted from
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