Friday, April 27, 2012
I have Annie from Annie's Eats to thank for these Sweet Spring Treats. I found her recipe on Pinterest and knew I wanted to try it sometime. A few days after I found it a friend asked me to make something lemony for her daughters birthday party. It wasn't hard to decide what that would be! For those I used the regualr Lemon Cream Cheese Icing but for me it was way too sweet. So I decided today to try the Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting from Martha Stewart that Annie suggested. Wow! What an amzing fluffy frosting! Sweet but not too sweet with just a hint of lemon from the zest. The original recipe asked for vanilla but I wanted the lemon flavor because of the cupcakes so I changed that to lemon zest. And I didn't use as much butter as it asked for. It turned out just right and was kind of like a fluffy cloud. My new favorite! ☺ A little more time consuming maybe, but not difficult and definitely worth it!
For the Cupcakes:
This is a doubled amount of Annies Original and yields 24
1½ cups + 4 Tablespoons AP flour, divided
1½ cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups sugar
Zest of 2 Lemons
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1¼ cups milk, room temperature
2 cups fresh blueberries
For the Frosting:
This is a halved amount of the Original Recipe from Martha Stewart
1¼ cups sugar
5 large egg whites*
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp. and cut into pieces*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract*
For the Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the 1½ cups All Purpose flour, the cake flour , baking powder, and salt; whisk together and set aside. In a mixer bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed for even mixing. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Blend in the milk. Mix in remaining dry ingredients just until incorporated.
In a small bowl toss the fresh blueberries with 4 Tablespoons flour. Using a spatula gently fold the berries into the cake batter. I used cupcake papers that were a bit bigger than the regular sized ones. I used a size 20 cookie scoop and put a slightly rounded scoop into each paper. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
For the Frosting:
Place sugar and egg whites in the heat proof bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingures; it should feel completely smooth.
Transfer bowl to the mixer stand. Using the wire attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has completely cooled and formed stiff glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
*Add the butter chunks, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Add vanilla and beat just until combined.
Switch to paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temp. in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using bring buttercream to room temp. and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.
**The changes I made were these; to begin with I cut the recipe in half because I didn't want to part with all of my unsalted butter and because I didn't think I needed 9 cups of frosting for 24 cupcakes. After I was done with the heating process I discovered that I had forgotten to add the last egg white, so I used only 4. I didn't beat it the 10 minutes it asked for, more like 6 or 7, and I only used 3 sticks of butter. I also left out the vanilla because I wanted a light lemon flavor so I added the zest of 1 lemon. When all the beating was done the zest was clinging to the paddle so I discarded it because the color and flavor were infused already.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Using a Sun Dried Tomato Tortilla and adding an avocado and some Cheddar CoJack cheese to some leftover Mango Chipotle Chicken I made a quesadilla for an easy lunch that was absolutely scrumptious!
1 large Tortilla
chicken and veggies, cut up
½ avocado, sliced thin
On a skillet melt butter and spread in a big circle. Lay tortilla on the butter then flip over so both sides are buttered. Shred cheese over entire tortilla and place chopped chicken and veggies and avocado over one side.
Heat over medium low heat until cheese is melted and the chicken is heated. Fold the cheese side up over the veggie/chicken side and continue to cook till the tortilla is lightly browned. Serve with sour cream. Enjoy!
Monday, April 23, 2012
Remember a few years ago when people started marinating chicken for the grill in Italian dressing? Good stuff! We still love that! buuuut, being me, the same thing over and over gets boring, so I've been thinking and looking around, keeping my eyes open for fresh inspiration. Recently at the grocery store I spied some Kraft Mango Chipotle Vinaigrette, and the 'lights' danced a funny jig when I saw this I knew I had to give this a shot. The Chipotle gives it just a little kick but not too much.
. So for round one I marinated some chicken tenders and veggies in this stuff, threaded everything onto skewers with bacon and fresh pineapple chunks and tossed it onto the grill. Voilà!! Delicious!!
Then for round 2 (because we had this two nights in a row ☺) because of the unpronounceable ingredients in the bought stuff I decided it wouldn't be real hard to make my own marinade out of fresh, real food. That turned out equally delicious but I forgot the fresh pineapple :( but I did have red peppers by this time. I had wished for them the night before. ☺ Mushrooms would be another great addition.
1 large mango
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar or honey
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Garlic Clove
2 teaspoons Dried Onion Flakes
1-1½ teaspoons Chipotle Chile Powder
Water, optional, for a smoother consistency
Place all ingredients except water into a blender and blend until smooth. It will be kind of thick. You can use it like this or thin it with a bit of water if you wish to.
3½ lbs. Chicken Tenders, trimmed
cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb. Applewood Smoked Bacon
cut each piece into thirds
Chunky Veggies of your choice
-Fresh Pineapple Chunks
Set chicken pieces and veggies/pineapple into separate bowls to marinate. Pour marinade over each and toss to coat. Refrigerate. Leave in marinade for several hours. I did mine in the forenoon for supper that evening. Wrap chicken pieces in bacon pieces and place on a skewer along with the marinated veggies and pineapple. Leave a bit of space between to ensure the bacon cooking properly. Grill to your satisfaction and enjoy! Make extra, this makes an awesome quesadilla the next day!!☺
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Saturday, April 21, 2012
I thought I should prove to anyone who might be wondering,that I do indeed do more around here than experiment in my kitchen. The weather has been pretty much perfect the last few days and I've been working outside. Love it out there!
The walkway that goes off of the patio needed help and the pillars were not there, so I fixed up the walkway and built the pillars this afternoon. It was not a difficult job but it did take a bit of muscle!Those round balls on the top? Heavy!! The sun and the wonderful breeze made a perfect working environment and the bluebirds and the cardinals serenaded me as I worked. Okay they were romancing each other, but I benefited from it. ☺
It's not perfect, I know. But the feeling of satisfaction is nice. And if I end up not liking it I can get rid of it without feeling guilty about $$$ spent. That's the beauty of DIY! ☺
I'll give you a glimpse of something so yummy we ate it two nights in a row (fresh made, not leftovers) last week. The boys told me I should start a restaurant because of it. Ha, not happening! They are warming up to my experiments though.☺ Nice to have their vote of confidence. I promise to post it next week, but for now I think it's time I go sleep.
And this was my lunch today with some of the leftovers. Amazing!
Enjoy your weekend!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
I'm kind of on a 'mini' craze right now. Love making these mini pies and listening to the kids tell me how amazing I am! haha ☺ They love these little things too, and it sure is nice when they're this easy to please.☺
Fresh peaches are not available yet but the ones I froze last year work like a charm for this and they taste like fresh ones. A super easy, quick, and cute dessert to serve for whatever reason.
Pie Crust Shells
drained and juice reserved
Clear jel, cook type
Cool Whip or Whipped Cream
Roll out the Perfect Pie Crust and cut into 4 inch rounds. I cheated... again...and used the bought stuff. Not sure why I do this because the homemade is much better and it really doesn't take that long to make.
Pampered Chef lends a hand here ☺
Make sure you prick the dough with a fork or it will shrink as it bakes. And it works best if the dough is cold and not room temperature. This prevents the gluten from activating and there is less shrinkage.
Fit into a tart pan or a muffin pan.
I couldn't decide which one I liked best so I used both of these and a cupcake pan. Turns out it didn't matter because in the end they were all cute and tasted the same. haha
Bake at 375°- 400° until golden, about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.
For the bottom layer:
(the boys did tell me they could do without this layer), but I had some things that needed to be used so I did it this way this time.
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1½ cups Cool Whip
Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffy then fold in the whipped cream or cool whip. Put a small amount in a thin layer in the bottom of the crust.
For the Peach topping:
juice from 1 quart of frozen peaches
Clear jel, add water to make a thick but runny paste
Heat the juice to boiling, then slowly add the clear jel and continue to boil until it thickens. Allow to cool then add the peaches and stir to combine. Cool completely before putting into the crust.
Enjoy... and Be Blessed!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Well almost. The tea is growing nicely in the herb garden and we have been enjoying the fresh mint flavor once again!
Don't know about you but I always think the traditional way of making iced tea is time consuming because you have to heat the water, brew the tea, than cool everything off again. Too many wasted steps, I think. And who has large amounts of refrigerator space (especially in the summer) to cool several gallons of tea at a time. (When I do it that way I think I have to make several at a time to make it worth it.) I was reminded recently of an easier method that brings out a stronger mint flavor and is not heated at all! Lovely! I made some today and everyone said it's better than the regular stuff. Who am I to argue with 5 people?!
Ingredients in bold.
Wash Tea Leaves (stems removed) place in a blender (6 cup size) until it's full then press down gently and fill again to the 5 cup mark. Add water to cover. Blend well. Pour mixture into a half gallon jar. and fill with water. Cover and refrigerate. I blended mine in the forenoon and finished the tea to drink with our supper.
When you are ready to finish it, put through a sieve, then I like to put it through again with a paper towel in the sieve to catch all the small stuff.
Put some ice into the tea and fill gallon pitcher with water. (Works well if you have tea flavored ice cubes), I didn't have any today so I just used regular ones and took them out again when it was good and cold so the flavor would not be diluted. Sweeten with your choice of sweetener. I used Stevia and a bit of sugar. It was refreshing and delicious!!
Monday, April 16, 2012
~ juicy ~ delicious ~
A freshly mixed homemade grilled burger with these toppings was a craving of mine last week. It was a simple fix and super juicy! I had mixed these burgers the week before and frozen them so they were not mixedfreshthesameday but they were a quick fix for a busy week night supper.
2 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
1 large egg
seasonings of your choice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Prepared Bacon Slices
Prepared Bacon Slices
Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
I had used things like garlic and herb and other seasonings that give good strong flavor. Mix just until the egg is not visible anymore. Don't overwork the mixture. Form into burgers and freeze or refrigerate if using the same day. They should have ample time in the fridge. Grill over medium high heat until still pink in the middle then remove from the grill and cover and let rest for about five minutes.
Have the onions and mushrooms ready to saute and while the burgers rest these can be made in a bit of olive oil and butter. Pile on top of the burgers and top with Swiss Cheese. Serve on a bun with BBQ sauce.
Friday, April 13, 2012
I was in the mood to make cupcakes but bored with brown chocolate (doesn't happen often). I also didn't want to use any time or make extra dishes dirty by making icing so I decided on these yummy ones for a fun change from their milk chocolate cousin. I served them to some guests and as they were leaving two of the little girls mentioned that they wanted a few to take along so I figured they must have been good. ☺
1½ cups mashed pumpkin
(I used 1 pint of home canned butternut squash)
1½ cups sugar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup AP flour
½ cup Spelt flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¾ teaspoon salt
Mix pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and oil together. Add the remaining ingredients. Line a cupcake pan with papers and using a size 30 cookie scoop put 1 scoop into each paper. Put a dollop of filling in the center of each cupcake.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
dash of salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
Mix cream cheese and sugar till smooth and fluffy. Add the egg and salt; mix again then fold in the chocolate chips. With a size 50 cookie scoop put a dollop of filling into the center of each.
Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
juicy and delicious!
Boneless, Center Cut Pork Chops
Coarse Kosher Salt
Freshly Cracked Pepper
Garlic and Herb Seasoning
In a cast iron pan heat olive oil till it's good and hot but not smoking. Add the chops leaving space in between each. Sear over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, turn and cook till done. This doesn't take long. Only a few minutes. Remove to a serving platter and cover tightly with foil to finish the cooking process. They should be just slightly pink inside. Let rest for about 5 minutes, covered. Serve immediately.
I love the flavors that are in this cake. The chewy-ness of the topping is another thing about it that I love. I was preparing a snack for our small group a few days ago and thought of this recipe. So, because I never make it unless there are extra people around to help eat it I decided it was the perfect opportunity. It was just as delicious as always! The recipe calls for it to be baked in a 9x13 cake pan but I like it flatter so I bake it in a 10½x15½ bar pan.
1¼ cups boiling water
1 cup quick oats
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup AP flour
¾ cup Spelt flour
Pour boiling water over oats and set aside. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each, scraping down sides as needed. Add vanilla and the oatmeal mixture and blend together.
In a seperate bowl combine dry ingredients and mix/fluff with a wire whisk. Fold into the oat batter.
Bake in a greased 10½x15½ bar pan for 20 (or till toothpick comes out clean) minutes at 350°.
While cake is still hot from the oven, spread the topping evenly over top and broil for about 2 minutes or until it becomes golden.
Watch it closely and turn pan to get it even. Don't walk away! It will burn quickly.
Watch it closely and turn pan to get it even. Don't walk away! It will burn quickly.
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Bring to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan. Remove from heat then add-
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
I don't make mashed potatoes very often for various reasons but when I do they are the very traditional ones I grew up eating as a child with butter, milk, salt and pepper being the main ingredients added. This particular night I decided it's time for a change so I put them through a potato ricer instead of mashing them and added freshly crushed garlic and fresh chives for a different flavor. It was a nice change from our usual ones. I served them with the Delicious Pot Roast. I also used some of the rich broth from the roast to make a delicious gravy for them. They were so yummy!
3½ lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes,
peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 Tablespoons soft butter
1-1½ cups sour cream
freshly cracked pepper
In a medium sized saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and cook until soft. Drain and press through a potato ricer. Add the butter and seasonings and stir until butter is melted. Add the sour cream and fold until combined. Serve and enjoy!
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
We enjoyed a long weekend in Ohio with my family over the Easter weekend and I did very little cooking which gave me a lovely break, but it also put me in the mood for something scrumptious. So when I made my grocery run to restock the fridge on Monday I picked up a chuck roast for last nights dinner. It turned out super delicious! I forgot to check the weight of it but I'm guessing it was somewhere in the 4-6 lb. range.
4-6 lb. boneless chuck roast
Montreal Steak Seasoning
8 ounces button mushrooms,
washed and stems removed
1 large yellow onion,
halved and sliced
2½ cups water
½ cup burgundy cooking wine
1 Tablespoon beef base
Generously season the roast on all sides with the Montreal Steak Seasoning.
Let it rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Put about 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil into a cast iron pan (or heavy frying pan). Heat the oil, then sear the roast on all sides over high to medium high heat to seal in the juices.
Place into a large crock pot.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute the onions and mushrooms for several minutes.
Pile this scrumptious-ness on top of the roast in the crock pot.
Mix together the water, wine, and beef base and pour around the roast. Cover and turn on low and cook for 5½ hours. Turn crock pot off and let rest for about a half hour before removing and slicing.
Everyone gave this their stamp of approval, well after they took the mushrooms and onions off the top, ☺ but these flavors were added and I got to enjoy them. ☺ There was very little left over. Just enough to put on top of a chef salad for my lunch.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
This past weekend we had a surprise birthday party for Shawn and I wasn't exactly in the mood for just another cake so I took a cake recipe that we love and made it into cupcakes. Nothing mind boggling there, but instead of the chocolate icing on the top of the filling that it gets I made a Magic Shell like you use for ice cream and dipped the filling into it for a quick finish. They were so yummy! And the shell was a fun change.
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
6 Tablespoons Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup canola oil
2 cups cold water
Put everything together in a mixer bowl except 1 cup water. Mix; scraping sides as necessary. Add the rest of the water and mix again. Do not over beat. Line cupcake pans with papers and with a size 20 cookie scoop, put a scoop the batter into each paper. Bake @350° for 20 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for a few minutes then remove and cool completely before topping with the filling.
5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1¼ cups milk
Cream together and beat:
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup Crisco*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
*I like to use the Crisco that I buy at the health food store that is not made with hydrogenated oil.
Add the flour mixture and beat again on high speed till lumps are gone and it is fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes. Refrigerate until the white part is good and cold so the magic shell does it's thing properly.
1 part coconut oil to 2-3 parts chocolate. Melt in microwave safe bowl or melt in a double boiler. I let mine cool a bit so it wouldn't mess up/melt the filling and make the whole thing cloudy. Put it into a bowl that is deep enough to accommodate the filling depth and start dippin'. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.
Wow Us Wednesday, Swing Into Spring, Time Travel Thursday, Taking Time, makin you crave monday, sunday showcase, see ya in the gumbo,
Monday, April 2, 2012
Happy 8th Birthday Serena!
Eight years ago at this time we had been waiting most of the night and would end up waiting all day until 7:30 in the evening for our girly to be born. The endless, boring labors are the things that I try not to remember too much of! But the end results were always so much fun! This time was no different!
We have all enjoy having a girl in the family and she is full of life and sunshine! She loves animals and being outside and tagging along with her brothers. They have been known to try to sneak out of the house after whispered plans to try and avoid having to let her come for a tramp in the woods. Is it possible to adore someone and be annoyed with them at the same time? If it is they achieve that at times but mostly they enjoy having her on their treks. They would do just about anything for her.
She is usually happy and loves to be with friends. She loves school and does well academically and looks forward to every day. Loves riding her pony and has Dad pretty well wrapped around her finger.☺ When asked to clean up her room she often sighs a dramatic sigh and says "what's the use?! it just gets messy again anyway!" She enjoys helping in the kitchen and is independent.
I always have to chuckle when I think of the day she was born. The boys at that time were something like 8, 7, and 5. We knew we were having a girl so as the time came close we decided to share our secret with the boys and tell them her name to see how well they can keep our secret. They did quite well! We had also told them that if they should wake up some morning and our friend Rhoda is there it means we went to the hospital to have our baby girl. The day came and she was there and took them to school. They began spreading the good news to everyone right away. In reality she was not born till 7:30 that evening so I guess it's a good thing that the ultrasound tech was right when she told us we were having a girl!
Serena we love you and enjoy the spice you bring to our lives!
One more thing, no more car seats!! Praises!! ☺
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Simple, Quick, and Pretty
What's not to like?!
They are super easy. I used bought Pie Crust to save time, but if you are wanting make your own go here for a great recipe. To change things up a bit I decided to bake 4 inch dough circles in muffin pans.
Make sure you poke the holes into the dough. This keeps it from shrinking.
The filling for the pie is also an easy recipe that I blogged last Spring, but with Strawberry season being somewhere just around the corner I will give it to you again because it makes all the difference in flavor and color. I start by mixing my own dry mix which is only 3 ingredients and fail proof.
1 cup clear-jel, cook type
2 cups sugar
2 pkgs. Strawberry Kool-Aid
Mix together well and store in a glass jar with a tight lid.
If I'm making this for company and I want the color to be very red, I thaw some frozen, chopped strawberries and strain the juice and use it in place of some of the water. It enhances the whole pie. In flavor and in the way it looks.
Combine ¾ cup dry mix and 2 cups water/strawberry juice in a saucepan and stir with a wire whisk over medium heat until thickened. Allow to cool completely before adding ripe strawberries. I like to use the Danish just to make the sliced strawberries stick together making it an actual strawberry pie and not so much a Danish pie. ☺ But that's just me. If you prefer more danish, go for it! Try it sometime, I'm sure you will love it, and it won't taste like preservatives. ☺
These would be perfect for a brunch or a tea party, etc. And they are fun and simple.