Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Spring is Here!

I love this time of year. The weather is getting warmer. The sun is shining brighter. The sounds of lawnmowers fill the air. And I get in the mood for baking and cooking! I think now that the slummy winter is gone, and my spirits are up, I'll be updating this ol' blog with more sweet and savory treats on a regular basis! (Especially now that I'm a subscriber to Kraft Magazine and Cooking Light!!) Goodbye crickets!

I was so excited by the arrival of my first Kraft Food & Family mag this past month that I went on a cooking spree. I've exhausted most of the recipes I have been wanting to try, except for one. The cover recipe - Lemon-Cream Cheese Cupcakes.

I've been saving this tasty morsel for a special occasion. With the beautiful yellow color, what better time than now?!? It does help that the hubs and I are going to a party hosted by his coworkers tonight...and the fact he's in charge of bringing a dessert...AND that he LOVES anything lemon!

Without further ado, I present to you (drum roll please...):

Lemon-Cream Cheese Cupcakes!

1 pkg. (2-layer size) White Cake Mix
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Lemon Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 cup Water
4 Egg Whites
2 Tbsp. Oil
1 pkg. (16 oz.) Powered Sugar
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened **1/3 reduced fat will work fine
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Lemon Zest for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, water, egg whites, and oil in a large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. (Batter will be thick.) Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Spoon batter evenly into 24 paper-lined muffin cups.

Bake 21-24 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, beat sugar, cream cheese, butter, and juice with electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Frost cupcakes. Garnish with lemon zest.

I, of course, had to sample one before I could possibly even consider allowing them to leave the house!! They.Are.Delicious! Very moist and flavorful!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Nothing can describe this meal more than the simple Greek word, εύγευστος (for those non-Greek speakers, this means delicious). Having traveled to Greece before, my husband is very fond of Greek dishes. He loves it all: Spanakopita, Kreatopita, Gyros, or really anything covered in Tzatziki sauce! I've been trying to humor him and satisfy his cravings (I'm not as big of a fan - mostly because I don't like Feta cheese or olives) and have recently discovered that I am a fan myself of Tzatziki sauce.

So naturally, when a friend of mine, Leslie, mentions the Gyro Burgers she made for dinner, my ears perked up. The recipe seemed simple enough so I ran it by the hubby (a huge fan of burgers, I couldn't imagine what he'd do when he learned of a Greek burger!) to hear his thoughts. Just as I suspected would happen, he instantly said we HAD to have it for dinner the following night.

The burgers are so simple to make and turn out very tasty. The flavor was very full and the sauce complimented it well. We will definitely be making these again. However, next time, we'll be using flat bread instead of pocket pitas. That way we can get a better balance of all of the ingredients with each bite!

Gyro Burgers

2 (8 oz.) containers plain yogurt, divided
1 (1 oz.) package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/4 c. diced onion
6 pita bread rounds (or flat bread)
2 c. torn lettuce leaves (we used shredded lettuce)
1 tomato, seeded and diced

1. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 container of plain yogurt with the envelope of ranch dressing mix. Remove half of the mixture to another bowl.
2. Into one of the bowls, add the remaining container of plain yogurt and diced cucumber; mix well. Cover and refrigerate.
3. Preheat grill and lightly oil grate.
4. Mix ground beef and onion into the remaining half of the yogurt mixture. Shape into 6 hamburger patties.
5. Grill patties on medium heat for about 7 minutes on each side, turning once.
6. Assemble pitas with the burgers, lettuce, tomatoes, and sauce.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras!

Today...was Fat Tuesday. A day for people to celebrate, have fun, and get stuff their faces with great food! A great coworker of mine is from the south and to honor this tradition of Mardi Gras, we decided to have a Fat Tuesday feast for lunch! All of the typical guests were present. Jambalaya, Gumbo, Cornbread, and saving my dish for last, King Cake!

King Cakes are something I had heard of, seen pictures of, but have never actually eaten. Heck, I didn't even know what went into one aside from yummy-looking frosting and colorful sugars! Oh, and you can't forget the little baby hidden inside! Click here to learn more about this tradition.

I began my quest for a great King Cake recipe online - where I also begin. I also surveyed some great women (and bakers alike) on the RB board. Lo and behold, I settled on a recipe from allrecipes.com. It had many great reviews, 4 out of 5 stars, so I figured it would be a winner.

One thing I did not realize when I volunteered myself to make our dessert, was that King Cake takes hours to prepare! My southern friend told me to save myself some time and run over to the nearest Price Chopper and buy one for $3.99. I couldn't do that. I was on a mission. I was going to bake this thing myself and it was going to be great!!

Well, I attempted. I conquered. And boy was it a success!! The "cake" (King Cake is not really a cake as we picture it to be. To my surprise and enjoyment, it is more like a cinnamon roll - a bread-like dough with a flavorful center!) was a hit!! The husband was also very thankful that we did not completely devour the cake today and I had some leftovers for him to enjoy.

The pictures, as usual (I really need to rig myself up a light box!), do not do this justice. The outside is fun and festive, and the inside is delicious. Hands down, I give this once-a-year treat a double thumbs up!

Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

**NOTE** For the frosting, I strayed away from the recipe and used A LOT more than suggested. Rather than measuring, I just dumped some powdered sugar in a bowl, added a little splash of water, and stirred until it was the right consistency (adding more sugar or water, as needed).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

There's a first time for everything!

For a while now, I've been wanting to try my hand at making risotto. I've heard it's pretty tasty, but can also be complicated. The husband hinted that he might like it, too, by purchasing a Risotto Cookbook for my birthday a few months ago. I decided to dive in last night and give it a shot. The recipe I used was not from the cookbook, but from the Kansas City Star! Not only that, but it's all done in the microwave!! Super easy and VERY delicious! The recipe is for the rice with veggies only, however, I added some cooked boneless chicken breasts (cut into small cubes) to make it a meal! We served it alongside some leftover garlic bread that needed to get eaten. (Picture Quality = Poor)

Risotto with Peas and Mushrooms

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups fat-free chicken broth
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. In a 3-qt. baking dish, microwave butter and oil on high 45 seconds to 1 minute or until melted.
2. Mix in rice and onion. Microwave on high 4 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.
3. Stir in chicken broth and microwave on high 10 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes.
4. Add mushrooms and microwave on high 8 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes.
5. Stir in peas and microwave on high 2 minutes.
6. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Boozin' Dessert

I cannot remember where I came across this recipe, but when I saw the title my interest instantly perked up - Margarita Cupcakes!?! Alcohol...in a cupcake? Um...yes, please!

Margarita Cupcakes

9 oz. margarita mix
3 oz. tequila
3/4 oz. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (used Triple Sec)
white cake mix
3 egg whites
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. lime zest
1 recipe lime buttercream frosting (recipe below)

1. Mix together the margarita mix, tequila, and Grand Marnier in a large glass or spouted bowl. Reserve 1 1/4 cups of this for the cupcake batter and drink the rest as a treat while you're baking.
2. In a stand mixer, add the margarita mixture (1 1/4 cups), cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, and lime zest. Mix on low for about 30 seconds, then increase to medium speed for 2 minutes.
3. Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin pan and fill cups 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
4. Once the cupcakes have cooled, make the frosting for the cupcakes.

Lime Buttercream Frosting

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. lime juice (I added more to get a stronger lime taste)
green food coloring (optional)

1. Add all ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until combined.
2. Turn the speed to med-high until the icing is light and fluffy. Use water to thin the frosting if necessary (I used a few Tbsp.).
3. Add the icing to a pastry bag or use a spatula/knife to frost the cupcakes.

** To get the effect of salt with a margarita, I sprinkled some granulated sugar on top of each cupcake.

Tasty Side...or Meal!

Thought this would work nicely as a side with our leftover chicken and spinach lasagna, so I whipped up a loaf while waiting for Ryan to get home. I ate my share with my leftovers, however, Ryan decided to make his share a meal and finished off the loaf. Either way, we both agreed it was fabulous!!

Pepperoni and Cheese Bread
(Source: Amber's Delectable Delights)

1 roll refrigerated French bread dough
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese (I substituted Italian blend for both cheeses)
Egg wash (1 egg white, water)
Italian seasoning (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Roll out bread dough and sprinkle with cheeses, place pepperoni (as much as desired) on top of the cheese.
3. Carefully roll the bread dough into a cylinder shape. Pinch ends and top to seal.
4. Brush top and sides of loaf with egg wash.
5. If desired, top loaf with cheese, pepperoni, and/or Italian seasoning.
6. Make a few diagonal slices in top of loaf for air to escape while cooking.
7. Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.