Monday, December 13, 2010

Peppermint Bark Cupcakes

Before jumping in to the recipe, I am still kicking myself for not taking a picture of these adorable cupcakes. Next time, I promise! These cupcakes are so delicious and absolutely adorable. Just ask the lovely ladies of Moms4Moms. I received so many compliments on them, both for their c
cuteness and their taste! It was quite the ego boost. :-)

Peppermint Bark Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 mini cupcake pans (this recipe will make 48 mini cupcakes). In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat shortening until fluffy. Add vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar and combine, scraping the sides of the bowl down as needed. Separate eggs, one at a time, saving the whites for later. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each yolk. Carefully add your flour mixture, alternating between flour and the 2/3 cup cold water, mixing until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat your egg whites until they form soft peaks (peaks will fold over). Once soft peaks have formed, add 1/3 cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks are formed (this takes forever!). Once your egg whites have formed stiff peaks, carefuly fold your egg whites into the cake batter. Once combined, gently fold in chocolate chips.

Use a teaspoon to place a little batter in each cupcake wrapper. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool in cupcake tins and start making frosting.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar, divided

In a medium bowl, beat 1 cup of softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in 2 tablespoons of milk and 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract. Gradually beat in an additional 3 cups of powdered sugar until smooth. If necessary, add milk, one teaspoon at a time to achieve spreading consistency.

Spoon small amounts into a piping bag and start frosting. If desired, crush a few candy canes and dust the cupcakes with some of the crushed peppermint, and maybe a couple mini chocolate chips.

This recipe makes more than enough frosting for the cupcake recipe above, even you like to give your cupcakes a very tall top hat!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Tart

For dessert this Thanksgiving, I made a Chocolate Caramel Tart. It was my second attempt at it. The first time I made it I followed this recipe. I was underwhelmed at it, mostly because I didn't like the crust. It was just kind of boring, and the whole thing was forgettable. So, in honor of the holiday, I created a new and improved recipe, and I am certain it will be delicious!

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar/regular sugar combo
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together. Add egg and mix well. Slowly add flour, salt and baking soda and combine well. Add pecans and stir.
3. Spread dough into a round tart pan.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until dough is nice and brown.
5. Remove from oven and cool on the counter for 10 minutes.

Caramel Ingredients:Bulleted List
  • 40 unwrapped caramels
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

1. While the crust is cooling, combine caramels and heavy cream in a two cup measuring cup.
2. Microwave for 1 minute; stir. Microwave/stir every 30 seconds until melted.
3. Pour caramel over crust. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Chocolate Ingredients:
  • 1 12oz bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
1. While the caramel is cooling, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in a 2 cup measuring cup. (Make sure it's DRY, as water will make the chocolate seize and it will be unusable.)
2. Microwave for 1 minute; stir. Microwave/stir every 30 seconds until melted.
3. Pour over caramel. Top with chopped pecans.
4. Return to the refrigerator and let it cool for 2 hours, or until set.
5. To serve, remove from refrigerator for 10 minutes. Pop the bottom out of the pan and place on serving platter and serve.
6. Top with fresh whipped cream, if desired.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

French Lentil Rice Soup

French Lentil Rice Soup

  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons uncooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped ham (or chicken), if desired
  • heavy cream or sour cream, if desired
  • chopped parsley, if desired

1. stir together broth, lentils, carrots, onion, celery, rice, garlic, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper in crockpot. cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

2. Remove one and a half cups soup and puree in a food processor until almost smooth. Stir pureed soup back into the crockpot. At this time add chopped ham in the soup and let simmer on " Warm" for a few minutes.

3. Serve soup in bowls, garnishing it with a dollop of sour cream or heavy cream and a little fresh parsley.

This so is so good! Everyone ate two bowls of it the night we had it, and then the boys ate it for dinner again last night. As leftovers I served the soup over some steamed rice. What was left I tossed in the Magic Bullet and pureed until smooth and then served it to the baby. This recipe is a keeper!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Asian Pork on Coconut Rice with Green Beans

Asian Pork on Coconut Rice
Serves: 6

  • 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce ( Maggi Taste of Asia, mild)
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons peeled, finally chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 pork tenderloin
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • sesame seeds and scallions, for garnish
Combine first five ingredients to make sauce. Divide sauce in two small bowls and set aside. Salt & pepper tenderloins and grill. 10 minutes before taking the pork off the grill, baste repeatedly the pork with half of the sauce. When the pork is done, remove from grill and let rest for a couple of minutes. Slice and serve with coconut rice and Asian green beans.

Coconut Rice:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • jasmine rice

Prepare rice according to package diractions, substituting coconut milk for equilvalent amount of water. Add a dash of salt and one teaspoon of sugar if milk is unsweetened. Cook until liquid is absorbed. Set aside.

Note: The second time I made this I needed to have enough rice for eight servings, so I used one can of coconut milk and supplemented the milk with some Thai Coconut Curry broth I bought on impulse at the grocery store. It was amazing!

Asian Green Beans

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends removed and cut in half
  • olive oil
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • sugar
  • sesame seeds (I use black sesame seeds)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

1. Blanche green beans, drain and set aside.
2. Heat a little olive oil and sesame oil in a saute' pan. Add a little splash of soy sauce and a tiny bit of sugar.
3. Add blanched green beans and red pepper flakes to the pan and toss, cooking until heated.
4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

This meal is one of my new favorites. It's quick and easy, and is pretty forgiving. The only downside? I only had my cell phone camera available to take a picture, and the quality isn't great. Oh well, I never claimed to be a photographer!

Photo credit, Me. Sorry for the poor quality.

Beef, Mushroom, Cheddar & Potato Pie

Before diving into the recipe, I just have to share a few thoughts...

1. This was originally a Rachael Ray recipe. You can see the original here. I changed it up just a tiny bit. Below is my version.

2. Just because a recipe says "Prep Time: 45 minutes", don't take it at its word. Trust me on this.

3. I love my Vidalia Chop Wizard. Actually, if we're being honest, I'm a sucker for all things "As Seen On TV". I have a mandoline, which I also love, but for this recipe my Chop Wizard helped me stay close to the 45 minutes of prep time Rachael claimed. :-)

Beef, Mushroom, Cheddar and Potato Pie
Photo Credit, Me. Sorry it's not great!


  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin and sauteed
  • 1.5 cups carrots, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a skillet, combine the beef, mushrooms, carrots, onion, celery, garlic and potato and cook, breaking up the meat, over medium-high heat until the beef is cooked through and some liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add the beer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cheese, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Let cool.

  2. On a floured surface, roll 1 puff pastry sheet into a 12-inch round. Place in a deep pie dish. Roll the remaining puff pastry sheet into an 11-inch round. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat mixture to the skillet. Lightly brush the edge of the crust with some of the egg wash, then place the second sheet on top. Press the edges to seal, then trim to a 1/2-inch edge.

  3. Place the pie on a baking sheet. Brush the top with more of the egg wash and cut an "X" into the pastry. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake for 45 minutes, tenting with foil if the crust darkens too quickly. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 minutes.

  4. If you have children, take the left over pastry dough, roll it again and let them go crazy with the cookie cutters. The dough gets tough very fast, but they will have fun for a few minutes.
I thought this was delicious, and Dan liked it, too. It tastes like "Fall" on a plate. Nicholas did as well, which is awesome, since he's three. Matthew, also three, ate a little bit, and then asked for ham and cheese. Ya win some, ya lose some. :-)

Disclosure: I provided all those links because I wanted to. I don't get any money, accolations, credit, etc. from providing them.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Crispy Oat Cookies

Crispy Oat Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup regular oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup crushed corn flakes
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter; gradually add sugars, beating well at medium speed. Add egg, and beat well; add oil and vanilla, mixing well.

Combine flour, soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats and remaining ingredients.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and flatten each ball with tines of a fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheets, and cool on wire racks.

Yield: 10 dozen

Jack's Sweet-Hot Party Pecans

Jack's Sweet-Hot Party Pecans

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspooons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 cups (one pound) pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients except pecans in large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to blend. Boil about 3 minutes. stir in pecans and toss well to coat. Spread nuts in a single layer in a jelly roll pan. Bake 45-60 minutes or until nuts are crisp, stirring occasionally. Cool. Store in airtight container. Makes 4 cups.