Post #32: Another Giveaway!

Wanted to let you in on another awesome giveaway hosted by Family Fresh Cooking - see the link to her site in my sidebar! 


Good luck, I know I wanna win this thing too! 


Post #31: Awesome KitchenAid Giveaway!

I just wanted to take a quite sec to let you in on an awesome KitchenAid giveaway by the Reluctant Entertainer!  (You can see the whole blog entry here!)

I'm always trolling food blogs, and can't help but enter all of the giveaways...I'm going to win one someday!  All I have is a 2-cup Cuisinart chopper, so I'm in it to win it in this one!    Go have a peek!


Post #30: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Sometimes I feel like the only things worth blogging are totally homemade.  100% from scratch, or I'm not impressed.  But!  I always have a box of cake mix or brownies in the ol' pantry, just in case I get a craving and don't have time to from scratch it.  Today is one of these stories. 

I had just put in my morning workout, had a yummy lunch, but something was missing.  Something...sweet.  But, I didn't feel like messing up the kitchen for the 543498573495th time in 2 days, so I went for my boxed cake mix.  Milk chocolate.  I had no frosting.  Crap.  Well, I'll make the frosting from scratch then.  No fuss, no muss!  Then my eyes saw this little box of strawberry creme pudding mix that I had to buy because I'd never seen it before.  Then the wheels started turning.  I could do something with this.  And so I did.  :o)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

For the Cupcakes:

1 box of your favourite chocolate cake mix.  Prepare according to the cupcake directions.  (A really dark one would work nicely!)

For the Filling:

1 box of Jell-o strawberry creme pudding mix.  Prepare according to directions.  I did half heavy whipping cream, half milk.  Creamy, rich, and wow!

For the Frosting: 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (the love of my life!)
1 - 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip these ingredients until nice and fluffy in your mixer.  Easy as that.  This makes a crap ton of frosting, fyi!  Also, this is the best buttercream I have ever made, hands down! 

To Assemble:

 Make the pudding filling while the cupcakes cool.  When it has set up, it is time to fill!  I have a handy dandy Wilton cake decorator with a filling tip.  It injects right down into the center of your cupcake, fills it up, and leaves nary a trace that the cupcake was ever disturbed.  If you do not happen to have one of these (they are $12 at WalMart, so why the hell not?)  you can do this the slow poke way: take a knife and cut a circle out of the top of each cupcake.  Keep the "lid" you have just created, and remove a small amount of cake from the middle.  Proceed to spoon the filling into your little crater until it is full, then replace the "lid" and you're good to go! 

Top with the frosting, and serve these bad boys.  They are SO yummy!  I was impressed fo sho.  Easy too.  Start to finish, less than 1 hour.  How sweet it is!


Post #29: Cheddar Biscuits a la Red Lobster

Mr. Pirate and I are not soup people.  I don't think I have ever made soup.  Ever.  The other day, mom sent me home with a giant container of New England clam chowder (her soups are the - the only soups I've ever loved!).  Her clam chowder is thick, rich, chunky, and has bacon.  In other words, it's perfect.  These biscuits are just the frosting.  ;)

I made these at dinner time, so no more natural light!  This is the best I could do!  :(

Cheddar Biscuits

2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix
4 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup cold whole milk
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 pinch salt


Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine Bisquick and cold butter. Don't combine too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter about the size of peas.
Add cheddar, milk and 1/4 tsp garlic.
Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.
Drop 9 equal portions onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until tops are light brown.
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp garlic powder and parsley flakes.
Use a pastry brush to spread garlic butter over tops of biscuits.


Post #28: Pumpkin Donut Holes

Annie's Eats is one of my favourite blogs ever.  In fact, the last three new recipes I have tried have been from her! 

This was my very first time making donuts, or anything that even resembeled donuts.  Roughly 34987324 of the blogs I follow had pumpkin donuts as their most recent recipe all at once, so I knew I had to try too. 

First of all, let me say and I made these with the enormous help (and comic relief!) of my little sister. She's so much fun to cook with! She will probably read this, so thanks for all of your help and laughs...and I'm sorry you deep fried your finger! ;)

Now, let me just tell you, donuts are a lesson in patience.  If the oil is too hot, they burn quickly on the outside, while staying doughy on the inside.  If the oil is not hot enough, the colour is nice, but they lose the crispiness that a fried cake-style donut should have.  Lucky for us beginners, this recipe yields enough dough to allow for errors...and don't I know it!

At first, we tried donuts.  We rolled the dough, cut it, donut holed it, and put it to the fryer.  They turned dark quickly, which sucked, but they still tasted good.  We figured we'd try donuts on more time, this time, a tiny bit thinner, with the oil turned down.  These ones turned out a little better, but not great looking.  LOL!

That was when we switched to donut holes exclusively.  We stamped them out with the mouth end of a normal sized shot glass, and it worked perfectly.  The holes took about 2 minutes to fry, were done all the way through, were crisp without looking burned, and maintained all their crispy outside-cakey inside goodness - just the way we like.  :o) 

The downside was that they only really taste good for the first few hours.  I know fresh is always best, but I was expecting them to hold up for at least a day.  But then again, when you buy donuts at the store, they don't keep well either.  In Annie's recipe, she made a glaze for them - I didn't.  I just rolled them in cinnamon sugar.  Perhaps a glaze would lock in the freshness.  I'll have to try it again and find out!

Give them a try!

Pumpkin Donuts (or Donut Holes!)

Yield: about 16 doughnuts and doughnut holes
For the doughnuts:
3½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
Canola oil or peanut oil, for frying
For the cinnamon-sugar:
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the spiced glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
2 tbsp. milk
To make the dough, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter and beat until well blended. Stir in the egg, then the egg yolks, and then the vanilla until incorporated. Combine the buttermilk and pumpkin in a liquid measuring cup and whisk together. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Once the dough is mixed, cover and chill for at least 3 hours or until firm. (The dough still seemed quite soft so we did an additional 30 minute chill in the freezer.)
On a well-floured work surface, roll or pat out the dough to a ½-inch thick round. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Using a 2½ to 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough. Use a smaller cutter (or a wide pastry tip) to cut a hole out of the center. Reroll and cut the dough scraps as necessary.
Add oil to a large saucepan or Dutch oven to a depth of about 2-3 inches. Attach a thermometer to the side of the pan and heat the oil to 365-370˚ F. Add the rings of dough to the hot oil so that they are in a single layer and not touching. Fry, turning once, until both sides are golden brown and doughnuts are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes total. Use a skimmer/strainer to remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined rack. Bring the oil temperature back up to the target range before repeating with the next batch of doughnuts. Use the same process for the doughnut holes, frying for a shorter time.
To make the cinnamon-sugar, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish and whisk to blend. When the doughnuts are just cool enough to handle, dip half of them in the cinnamon-sugar to coat completely, shaking off the excess.


Post #27: Carmelicious Cake

I first saw this lovely cake on Sing For Your Supper's Blog and decided that I had to make it for my mom's birthday that was a few days away. 

Usually my relationship with cake is simple: you bake it, I eat it.  I'm more of a cupcake maker.  That being said, I'm trying to increase my kitchen repertoire, so I'm gradually adding double - and eventually - multi-tiered cakes to the mix.  Word to the novice cake bakers out there: this is not what I would call an easy cake.  It's not terribly difficult, but certainly not easy.  I should have eased myself in with a nice double layer white cake with white icing.  Simple.  :)  But, I jumped into this one head first!  Also, I gave myself 2.5 hour to get it done start to finish before we had to hurry out the door.  I felt rushed.  Take your time with this badboy. 

I got good reviews on the flavour, but my frosting skills definitely need work.  lol!

My pictures seems to be getting worse and worse...I need a new camera!

Southern Caramel Cake
Caramel Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup hot water
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the caramel syrup: place 1/2 cup of the sugar in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts. When it becomes a dark amber color (about 5 minutes- watch it closely!), remove from heat and whisk in the hot water VERY slowly until dissolved. You’ll be left with a syrup about the consistency of simple syrup. Cool completely. *The first time I tried this I added my hot water too fast and ended up with a rock-hard lump of caramel, so be sure to add the water VERY slowly while whisking!

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and the cooled caramel syrup; blend. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately, beating until smooth. Pour into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans lined with wax paper and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Caramel Filling

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Cook the sugar, butter, cornstarch and milk together in a double boiler until thick (mine never got too thick and I cooked it for at least 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and add vanilla. Let cool for about 5 minutes then pour over the warm cakes still in their pans (I poked holes all over my cakes with a toothpick so it would soak up the liquid better). Let the cakes sit out at room temperature in their pans until completely cooled.

Caramel Buttercream

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and very slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth (be careful, as the mixture will definitely bubble up and possibly splatter a bit as you add in the cream). Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, gradually add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately (or to harden the frosting a bit).

To assemble the cake:
Slide a dull knife all the way around the edges of the cakes to loosen the sides from the pan and (using a spatula or possibly your hands- however you deem fit, really), lift the cake from the pan, peel the wax paper off the bottom and place, caramel side up on a cake platter.

The second layer is easier- just line the cake up evenly with the bottom layer and gently overturn the pan, setting it upside down (caramel side down; so you’ll have caramel-to-caramel), then peel off the wax paper.
Using a cake spatula, gently and evenly spread the caramel buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until about 1 hour before serving. Makes one 2 layer, 9-inch cake


Post #26: Pop Cake

This is my first try at making a pop cake - a boxed cake mix with a can of pop.  :o) 

I wanted to make something that tasted like a creamsicle, so I used a vanilla cake with orange pop, topped with a vanilla frosting. 

The results were not what I wanted, but still delicious (it tasted like a vanilla cake that was dyed orange...).  Since it was my very first time doing this (and I've read reviews saying that sometimes the cake stays gooey in the center...gross) I didn't want to add anything.  I just wanted to see if it would work.  And it did.  Yay! 

Next time, I will either add orange extract or zest an orange into the batter, just to give it that dreamy creamsicle taste!  Also, the cake, though moist, was really crumby - I think adding 1 egg might help this.  I'll let you know.  ;) 

Another way I'm gonna try it is making the pop cake with a vanilla cake and Sprite, and then making a decadent orange buttercream! 

As a side note: I think the reason some people's didn't set up is that they used too much pop.  I bought a 20oz. bottle, but you only need 12oz! 


Post #25: Peach Cobbler (with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!)

Sometimes ice cream is good enough to hit the spot.  Other times, it needs a little somthin' somthin'.  You know what I mean. 

If you have ever been fortunate enough to live in/visit the Austin area of Texas, I'm sure you have been to The Salt Lick - an amazing barbecue restaurant in the middle of nowhere, but somewhere around Austin.  Everything there is perfect, and the peach cobbler is no different!  I'm willing to bet that the only place that peach cobbler tastes better is Grandma's house deep in the heart of Georgia.  But seeing as how my grandma can't cook and lives in Canada, I have to settle with the Salt Lick.  Lucky for us non-Georgia grandma having types, this is hardly settling. 

Peach Cobbler - Salt Lick Style


1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup room temperature milk
1 room temperature egg


1 (28 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained (I used fresh peaches, 2 large peaches will do!)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Melt butter in a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt.
Stir in milk & egg.
Pour evenly over melted butter.
Combine peaches, sugar & spices and spread over batter-DO NOT STIR!
Bake 35-45 minutes at 350°F until batter comes to the top and is golden brown.
Serve warm with homemade vanilla ice cream (recipe right below this one!)


Post #24: Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream...without the machine!

You know how sometimes you just really want some ice cream?  Like really want some ice cream?  Usually when this happens to me, I wander over to the freezer, pull out a pint of Ben&Jerry's, stand with the freezer door wide open, eating right out of the carton.  But this time, to my shock and dismay, we had nothing.  Not even the lazy man's 'one bite left in the bottom of the container'.  This gave me a sad face.  Did I mention I was still in my jammies and couldn't justify getting dressed and ready just to run out for a pint of ice cream?  My conscience would have needed an extra trip to the gym in order to sort that out.

So then I entered that phase of a craving where you start looking for something else.  Something that isn't really what you wanted, but it'll do.  So I started digging in the fridge to see if anything stood out.  Nada.  But I did notice we had eggs, heavy cream, milk, etc...  Could I make my own ice cream with these items?  Surely not.  I don't have an ice cream maker.  Another sad face.  Aw. 

But the craving was too strong.  I needed ice cream.  So I met with my sous-chef, Google, and asked him if I could make ice cream without a machine.  The answer was yes.  But all of the websites warned that it takes forever.  I was willing to give it a shot. 

I used a simple recipe so I could get the best results possible.  Next time, I will try a different flavour, or use add-ins, because I really don't feel like it will make much of a difference in prep.  I found the recipe on, and the original poster says they got it from a Ben&Jerry's cookbook.  While, I wouldn't say that Ben and Jerry will be knocking my door down for me to make this for them, it is a very creamy, rich, and yummy recipe. 

French Vanilla Ice Cream:

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used a double strength vanilla extract from Penzey's - it packs an extra vanilla punch!  YUM!)


Beat the eggs until light and fluffy
Gradually whisk in the sugar
Pour in the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth

At this point, you can put your misture in your ice cream maker, put it to the correct setting, and in an hour or so, you'll have rich, creamy ice cream.  But for those of us who live in apartments and don't have the space to rent to an ice cream maker, follow these instructions:

Before you start mixing the ingredients, put a baking dish, pyrex bowl, or anything freezer safe in the feezer to chill.  Mix all of the ingredients as stated, then put in the chilled dish.  Every 30 minutes, open the dish and stir like cazy!  You want to break up any large ice crystals.  The smaller the crystals, the creamier the ice cream.  After you do this every 30 minutes for about 3 hours, leave the ice cream to freeze solid. 

See, how hard was that!? 


Post #23: Coconut Lime Muffins with a Lime Glaze

I almost never have limes in the house.  Never.  But I needed one the other day, and couldn't find the singles on sale, so I bought a giant bag, removed the one I needed, and gave in to the fact that I would probably just throw the other 37 limes away.  I just hate wasting food.  So then I figured I'd keep them to put up a show that I would use them, wait for them to rot, and be like "oh man!  I really wanted to use those!  Shucks!"  Then I'd smile as I tossed them into the trash, feeling like a tried, but failed.  Har har har...

But, I decided to do an internet search.  After sifting through about 5 million recipes for key lime pie, and another 5 million chicken with lime glaze recipes, I found this gem.  This muffin really brings the business.  Not too limey, not too coconutty - this recipe really meshes the two flavours well.  The original recipe did not call for a glaze or frosting, but I really hate a dry muffin.  A simple lime glaze was just the ticket. 

Coconut Lime Muffins with a Lime Glaze

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup key lime juice (I just used regular limes.  Not sure what difference it makes!)
1 -1 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut


Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, eggs, oil and Key Lime Juice.

Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just until all are moist, do not overmix.

Spray Large muffin tins lightly with cooking oil.  Large.  Like this recipe only makes 6 muffins large.

Layer batter and coconut by filling tins 1/2 full with batter, then 1 tablespoon of coconut, then fill to about 1/4 inch from top with batter and top with 1 tablespoon of coconut.  (My suggestion here would be to push the coconut topping into the batter a little - it browns fast!  I ended up picking off some burned pieces.  Not a huge deal, but after 20+ minutes in the oven, that coconut is pretty darn toasty!)

Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, until tops are brown and the coconut is toasty; a toothpick inserted in the center should come out almost clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, run a knife around the muffins and place on serving dish or store in airtight container. 

For the lime glaze: squeeze the juice of about one lime, and add powdered sugar until it become somewhat thick, but still able to drizzle.  Then, just dizzle it over the top of your muffins and enjoy!


Post #22: Veal, Spinach, and Portobello Mushroom Stuffed Shells

Last weekend, my sweet in-laws took us to San Antonio.  San Antonio has so much good food, it's not even funny!  We culinarily wasted spent one day at Sea World - which, if you have never gone, I reccommend it...but definitely during off-season!  The lines were long, but the dolphin shows are insane!  I was sad about the Shamu show...seeing whales in captivity sucks - that wilted dorsal fin gets me every time!  Funny I don't feel the same about seals or dolphins.  What can I say, I'm a conundrum.

Moving on!  We ate at this great restaurant on the Riverwalk called Iron Cactus - chipotle salsa to die for!  But that is not what this post is about!  My husband and I had a rough trip to SA last January.  Anything that could go wrong definitely did: car trouble, it rained the whole time, and the Riverwalk had been drained.  Drained!  The only hightlight from the trip was the food.  After the concierge at the hotel reccommended Saltgrass (are you kidding me?!)  We went exploring and ate at a delicious place called Paesano's.  So, on this trip, we decided to take the in-laws there too.

Personally, I have a hard time not ordering something seafood-y, so I went with a pasta dish with shrimp and mussels.  My hubs on the other hand, went bold: veal, spinach, and portobello mushroom stuffed shells.  Major yum!  They were perfect.  I had to make them, or at least try.  What of my attempt, you ask?  Let's just say that my husband won't be needing to go back to San Antonio any time soon.  :o)

I made dinner close to 8pm, so I had to use flash in the photo.  After uploading the photos to the computer, they were so bad that I don't even want to post them!  My apologies.  I need a better camera/photography setup fo sho.  Stuffed shells all kinda look messy anyway... ;)  Just try the recipe, it's a winner!

Veal, Spinach, and Portobello Mushroom Stuffed Shells

About 20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked with salt and oil, and cooled
1lb. ground veal
1 medium sized white onion
A giant handful of spinach
A portobello mushroom cap or two, depending on how much you like mushrooms!
Garlic.  I used 2 cloves, but they were HUGE - probably closer to the size of 4 regular cloves.
Basil - I bought mine in a little tube near the fresh herbs.  It lasts longer, and packs huge taste!  I probably used about a tsp. of this stuff
A jar of your favourite red sauce; I went with Newman's Own Bombolina (for the great basil taste!)
A jar of your favourite alfredo sauce; I used Buitoni Light Alfredo
Italian blend shredded cheese
Salt and pepper
Butter or oil for sauteing


Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onion, mushroom, and spinach with a little garlic and salt and pepper until onions are translucent and spinach is wilted.

In a seperate pan, fry up the veal with the remaining garlic.

Once the veal is browned, throw everything in a food processor (add the basil) and whirl it up until it is pretty fine.  Not a paste, but not huge chunks!

Take a 9x9 pan and put a nice layer of red sauce on the bottom, and swirl in some alfredo.  Stuff the shells with the mixture from the food processor, top with the remaining red/alfredo sauces, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake about 20 mins. or until cheese is bubbly and browned around the edges. 


Post #21: Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

I wanted to make something sweet, but was having a hard time choosing between this recipe, and a recipe for a raspberry chiffon pie - both look summery, sweet, and yummy, and I had everything I needed for both of them!  (Usually that's how I decide...but I even had the Sure-Jell on hand, go figure!).  Essentially, I chose to make these cupcakes because I love - LOVE - buttercream and cream cheese frostings, and this one is BOTH!  Fat booty, here I come!  I'll just make the pie for a family gathering in the future... ;)

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Recipe from: Joylicious

(Prep time: 45 minutes; Total cooking time: 2 hours)
makes approx. 20 cupcakes
    1 package graham cracker crumbs
    1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 Tbs), room temperature
    1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 cup + 2 Tbs sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt4 large egg whites
    2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled & coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F and line 16-18 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Mix one box of graham cracker crumbs with butter using a food processor. The mixture should hold together when pressed with fingers, add more butter if needed. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the crushed graham cracker into the bottom of each prepared muffin tin. Press down using fingers and bake for 3-5 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove immediately from oven and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks appear, about 3-4 minutes, be careful not to overbeat. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder & salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy and then add the vanilla & beat on a low-speed. Then add half the flour mixture until incorporated then mix in the sour cream or yogurt. Add remaining flour & mix until just blended.
Gently fold 1/3 of the egg into the batter until combined, do not over mix the egg whites or the cake will fall flat. Add remaining egg and fold in the chopped strawberries. Fill each muffin tin about 3/4 of the way and bake for about 20 minutes depending on your oven. You can test the doneness by sticking a toothpick through the center, if it comes out clean it is ready to take out!
Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 packets of cream cheese (16 oz)
2 sticks of unsalted butter (16 Tb)
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar slowly in small batches, beating on low speed until incorporated. Once all sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy. Refrigerate for 1 hour. When ready to serve, spread icing on cupcakes or use a pastry bag with a star tip. Garnish with freshly cut strawberries and graham cracker crumbs and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Post #20: Non-traditional tzatziki sauce

I find the reason I tend to burn out on blogging is that I feel like I have to create something fancy and marvelous every time (think SprinkleBakes...damn her and her amazing everything!). But today, as I was prepping this tzatziki sauce for our impending gyro feeding frenzy this evening, I realized that I should blog about the delicious food I make on a daily basis.  It's just me and my husband at home, and we're not fancy people, but we do love a good meal! 

Traditional tzatziki is so good, but I am truly my mother's daughter, so, like her, I try to find ways to make good food better. 

My Tzatziki Sauce

1 (16oz) tub plain Greek yogurt (you can definitely save the cash and buy regular plain yogurt, but Greek yogurt is so thick and creamy, it's worth the extra cost!)
1/4 of a large cucumber, peeled, and minced (diced if you want a chunkier sauce)
1/4 medium sized purple onion, minced
1 tsp. dill (fresh is always better, but dried will do the trick!)
2+ cloves of garlic (I just used 2 because they were huge!)
splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Easy directions: just mix it all up!  Tastes best if you put in the fridge for at least an hour before serving!

Also, I always have a bottle of Greek seasoning in the house, and I add a few shakes of it to the sauce as well.  It adds a little hint of oregano and spearmint - big yum!

Tzatziki makes a great gyro topper, salad dressing, or dip for pita chips and veggies!


Post #19: Nanaimo Bars

I am Canadian.  There, I said it.

Now that that's out in the open, let me also say that I have been in Texas for over 9 years now, so the 'Eh?' days are, for the most part, just a blurry memory.  However, this dessert, one of my favourites, is native to my motherland, and is still on my mind.  Canada isn't really known for its culinary prowess, but when we do make something good, it's damn good! 

My mom had been making these bars for as long as I can remember, and they pretty much incorporate everything I love in a good dessert: sweet, custardy, chocolate, coconut...well, you get the idea.  I find they are never impressive to look at, but please don't let that fool you!  This is a recipe that once you try it, you'll be hooked!

Nanaimo Bars

1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 large eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup fine coconut


1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 4 ounces chocolate
4 tablespoons butter or 4 tablespoons margarine


Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler or heavy saucepan.
Add egg & stir to cook & thicken.
Remove from heat.
Stir in remaining ingredients& press firmly into an ungreased 9 x 9-inch pan.

Cream all ingredients together; beat until light.
Spread over bottom layer.

Melt chips & butter over low heat; cool.
When cooled but still runny, spread over middle layer.
Chill in refrigerator.


Post #18: White Chocolate-Vanilla Raspberry Filled Cupcakes w/ a Milk Chocolate Glaze

Oh, filled cupcakes!  They are precise, complicated, and finicky, and yet, I am drawn to them like a pirate to treasure.  

I adapted the recipe from Cupcake 29 at Ming Makes Cupcakes.  This blog is a wealth of delicious looking, albeit complicated cupcake recipes.  Ming's look way better than mine, but mine are also quite delicious!  

One thing I would change in making these in the future is the glaze.  Yes, the glaze is good, don't get me wrong, but these cupcakes deserve something more!  I'm thinking a white chocolate raspberry buttercream, or a thick and rich ganache. What do you think?

I also apologize for the crappy picture.  Natural light is at a premium in my apartment, and I baked these later in the afternoon, so this is the best I could do! 


Post #17: Homemade easy, a caveman could do it!

Hello, hello! 

I have decided to rejoin the wonderful world of blogging after a (too) long hiatus - partially because of work, and partially because I got lazy.  But let's not dwell on the past.  I'm here now, and that's what matters.  (Also, I have a lot of time on my hands now that I am the trophy wife of the recently graduated Dr. Pirate!)

If you have never tried your hand at homemade salsa, I would definitely urge you to do so!  Yes, it's easy (and delicious!) to buy a jar of Pace, but where's the satisfaction in serving that to a guest?  Besides, it's so easy to make salsa that there's no excuse not to!  Plus, you have so many choices!  This is how I made mine:

Pirate Salsa

2 tomatoes (the softer the better...more juicy!)
1.5 jalapeno peppers (I seeded one, and kept the seeds from the half. If you want it hotter, add more seeds!)
approx. 1/2 cup roasted corn
1 poblano pepper, roasted
approx. 1/2 of a good sized purple onion
a generous handful of cilantro
salt, pepper, cumin, garlic to taste

1. Chop all ingredients to your desired size, I kept mine rather chunky
2. Bring to a boil on the stove
3. Let cool, add cilantro, and eat!

I boat motored mine ever so slightly, just to make it a little more juicy. 
Next time, I'm gonna add black beans! YUM!


Post #16: Raspberry Oatmeal Scones

After my most recent raspberry fumble, I felt I had to redeem myself! (I love raspberries!)

These scones taste like scones! (said in a Willie Wonka voice).  You know that taste that all scones have.  Slightly salty, not too sweet?  Exactly.  With that being said, even Mr. I don't like sweets said these could have been sweeter, and I'm inclined to agree.  I think next time I make these, I'll macerate the raspberries a little to sweeten them up. 

Charming banter aside, you need to work fast with this dough.  I used frozen raspberries and they still bled into the mixture and made my dough a weird purply-grey colour.  No matter, they baked up fine, and go great with a nice cup of coffee.   

Directions say 20-25 minutes, but I definitely only had them in the oven for 17.  I would have had another walk of shame had I left them in for the entire time.  Like our baker's motto at work: we bake to colour, not to time. Words to live by.

Raspberry Oatmeal Scone

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour  (I just used 4 cups all purpose - does whole wheat really make that much of a difference?  I've never used it, so I'd like to know!)
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, diced (yes, I bought unsalted this time, be proud!)
½ cup cold buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg beaten with a splash of milk or water (for egg wash)
2 cups frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl sift together together the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the cold butter and knead in with your hands until the mix begins to resemble coarse crumbs (there should still be lumps of butter throughout the mix). In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture along with the raspberries and mix until just combined. The dough will probably definitely be sticky.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and make sure it is completely combined. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough until it is about ¾ to and 1 inch thick. I ended up having to use my hands to pat the dough down since the raspberries got to be a bit messy. Cut the dough into segments and place onto a lined baking sheet. You can either go ahead and flash freeze these to save for later or place them directly in the heated oven.
Brush the tops with egg wash right before baking and then bake for 20 to 25 minutes. If you’re using frozen dough at this point it might take an extra 10 minutes or so, but that’s why I will typically place frozen dough in the oven as it’s heating up instead of waiting for it to preheat.

This recipe is huge, by the way.  This made 16 giant scones for me - giant.  Like 5 inch diameter.  Yeah, me and the man of the house can't eat that much - frozen future scones, here we come!


Post #15: A Sweet Blog Compilation

Think you have a great idea for a weekend sweet?  Link it here, and see what other fellow food lovers have to offer!


Post #14: Brown Butter Jam Bars (aka Failblog)

So, as I'm trolling around other food blogs, I keep seeing brown butter everywhere!  Brown butter cookies, brown butter cupcakes, etc..., and all of the comments are rave reviews - how you've truly never tasted anything in your life until it's made with brown butter.

So here I am, hopping on the bandwagon.  To tell you the truth, I have never really put a lot of thought into the butter I use.  So much so, that when a recipe calls for unsalted, I still use the salted butter that I always buy.  I like salted, what can I say!?  I also always forget to let my butter get to room temp before I start a project, so you will most definitely see me in a mad rush, throwing it in the microwave for 30sec. before I can do anything.  Sometimes I don't get all of my mices en place.  Haha.

Well, my verdict in the battle of brown vs. regular butter is that I honestly didn't notice much of a difference aside from the extra work (which probably stems from never thinking about the butter I use...).

Some tips that probably would have prevented this culinary flop:

Make sure you put the crust in an even layer.  I thought it was, but parts of it baked perfectly, while others turned into this unappetizing brown/crumbly stuff.  I also think I left the butter in the freezer for too long.  In the future, I'd take it out when it was on the softer side of semi-frozen.  My "dough" was hardly a dough.  I wasn't going to let this little bungle stop me, (though I almost did).  I just decided I would move on, finish the project, an trim away the bad parts later. 

Even though I seemed to screw this up a little, I will definitely try it again.  I will buy regular, unsalted butter.  I will follow all directions to the letter (which I sometimes get scatterbrained and forget to do), and I will resist all urges to cut into them before they are cold.  I promise!

Yeah, and out of about 50 pictures, this was the best one.  Fail.

Brown Butter Jam Bars
from One for the Oven, which they got from Crepes of Wrath

The Crust:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For The Filling:
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup jam or jelly

(yes, I used salted butter both times - I am a culinary rebel like that.  Also, I used light butter, it makes me feel better about stuffing my face later.)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. To make the crust, melt 1 cup of butter in a pan at medium-high heat till the butter starts to brown. When the butter is amber in color and smells slightly nutty, strain through a sieve into a heat-proof container, such as a small glass mixing bowl. Place in the freezer for 30-40 minutes until thickened and semi-frozen. Combine the powdered sugar and flour in a large bowl, then use a pastry cutter or your hands and add in the butter until a dough is formed. Press into a lined and/or greased 9×13-inch pan and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden and set, then remove from the oven and set aside.

2. To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Brown the remaining butter, then pour the butter into the egg mixture very slowly, whisking as you do it so the eggs don’t scramble. Whisk in the vanilla.

3. Pour half of the filling over the baked crust, then spoon large dollops of the jam over the filling, reserving about quarter to top the bars with. Pour the rest of the filling over the jam, then spoon small dollop over the top with the remaining jam (you can add a bit extra jam if you feel like it needs it). Don’t worry if it looks a little messy or weird, it’ll look pretty when it’s baked! Bake until the filling is golden brown in color, about 25 to 30 minutes, also at 375 degrees.

Allow to cool completely, or you'll be in a jam! (I'm so funny!)  No really, the jam will scald you!  Also, I cut mine when it was cooled, but not completely cold.  It fell apart.  I salvaged what I could for photos...and pretty much ate the rest like an animal.  Liz Lemon style.


Post #13: Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownie Bars (feat. Brutus and Lucky!)

These are Heaven.

There, I said it.  

It's seriously like eating a brownie, a rice crispie square, and a nutter butter all at the same that drool?

The brownie recipe I used (which was suggested from the Brown Eyed Baker herself!) was a little time consuming, but they are sooo good!  A perfect match for the peanut butter/chocolate chip/rice crispie topping!  But, aside from the brownies, this is so quick!  I mean hell, use a boxed mix, and this will take no time or effort at all, and it is so good, it will impress anyone!

Not the best picture, but I thought it was high time y'all met my dear friend Brutus!

And then Lucky slunk into a few shots!  I love my cats!

Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownie Bars

Adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker :o)
1 batch of your favorite brownie recipe for a 9×13-inch pan (I used this recipe, which I tweaked slightly, or you could use a box mix, I won't tell anyone!  Just make sure it's for a 9x13!)
½ cup salted peanuts (Funny side story: I actually forgot these and ended up tearing into a bag of trail mix and picking out the peanuts.)
8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
1½ cups creamy peanut butter (or crunchy, whatever)
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ cups cripsy rice cereal (yeah, I buy knock offs for baking, what of it?  :P)
1. Prepare the brownies according to the directions and bake for about 5 minutes less than the recipe states. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with the peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups. Return to the oven and bake for 5 additional minutes.
2. While they are finishing baking, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the cereal to evenly coat. Remove the brownies from the oven and evenly pour the chocolate and peanut butter mixture over top. Spread to cover evenly. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting and serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  These last a long time (if you don't eat them all right away!)  I was still chowing down about a week later, and they still tasted awesome!