Monday, December 17, 2012

Cookie Exchange 2012

Loved it, so fun! For years I had attended a cookie exchange, thinking how fun it would be to host! But my friend did a wonderful job, and we weren't about to take that away from her :) Then we moved a year ago, last year was my first year not attending the annual cookie exchange, and I missed it so much! This year I decided to host my own! There were 8 of us, and it was a great time with many yummy treats to take home!

Here are the cookies that we were able to enjoy:

Cream Wafers-
1 C. butter, softened
2 C. flour
1/3 C. whipping cream

Combine butter, cream and flour: mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.  Roll about 1/3 of dough at a time to about 1/8 inch thick on floured service.  Cut into about 1 1/2" circles or small cookie cutter stars, hearts, etc.   Place each cookie in a bowl of white sugar and turn the cookie around so that both sides are coated with sugar.  Place on cookie sheets; prick with fork about 4 times.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes or just until set but not brown; cool.  Put cookies together in pairs with Creamy Filling.

Creamy Filling:
1/2 C. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 1/2 C. of powdered sugar
food coloring

Cream above ingredients until smooth and fluffy.  Spread between the cookies.  

m&m pretzel bark
pretzel sticks
a bag of caramel bits (if you can't find the ones i used, any caramel candies will do - about 20 should work)
1 cup chocolate chips, or a hershey's milk chocolate bar + a bar of dark chocolate
mini m&ms

line an 8" x 8" pan with wax or parchment paper. the latter is better, by the way. spread out a layer of pretzel sticks, enough to cover the surface. in a small saucepan, pour about half of the bag of caramel bits and add about a teaspoon of water and melt over low heat, stirring constantly. spread the caramel on top of the pretzels. 

place the chocolate chips (or break up the bars into small pieces) into the top of a double boiler (or, if you're like me, in a glass bowl that fits perfectly into a saucepan), and set it over an inch or so of simmering water. melt the chocolate, stirring every 10 seconds or so. this goes on top of the caramel layer. sprinkle with as many mini m&ms as you want. as for me, i used about half of that bag. put the whole shebang into the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight if you do this late-ish at night like i did

Spritz Cookies –
1 stick butter (soft)
1 stick margarine (soft)
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp almond flavoring
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour

Mix all together and put dough in spritz maker – can make all different shapes.  If you want to put color to the dough, it makes a nice touch!
Bake 375 – for 10 mins –depends on your oven.  Just bake until bottom gets slightly golden brown.

Dipped Gingersnaps 

2 C sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 C butter
1/2 C molasses
1 Tbsp ginger
1 C oil
4 C flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 pkg white almond bark

Mix all ingredients together except almond bark.  Shape into 3/4 inch balls; roll in sugar and bake at 350 degrees on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.  After they have cooled, dip in melted almond bark.

Nut goodies

4 sq. almond bark
1 pkg. choc. Chips
1 pkg. butterscotch chips
1 cup peanutbutter

Melt the above 4 items (I just use the microwave)

1 cup peanuts
3 cups mini marshmallows 
1.5 cups Rice Krispies

Stir all the ingredients together and then drop on wax paper

Store in the refrigerator


2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.

From Alyssia***and my favorite recipe that I would have made if I would have had enough peanut butter cups on hand on a snow day...


1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
(cream together then add)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
(mix dry ingredients in a small bowl then add to cream mixture above slowly)
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1-14 oz Reeses Peanut Butter cup minis

Shape dough into balls and put in ungreased tart-size muffin tins.
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned
Push peanut butter cups into each cookie until almost covered.  Let cool a few minutes before removing from tin.  Use a knife tip along edge to remove.

Enjoy!  Makes approx. 4 dozen

I made 
Thick Cut-Out SugarCookies for everyone to decorate and take a few home. You can see in the picture above the three-tier tray of plain cookies ready to decorate, homemade Vanilla Buttercream Icing, and sprinkles.

To pass around, I made Candy Cane Blossoms. Last year was my first year making them, but the quickly became a favorite in my house!

Other cookies that were included but I didn't get recipes for include:
Cream Wafers
Oreo Balls
Sweet and Salty Bar

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Breakfast Egg Bake

1 large pkg.hash browns
salt and pepper
1/3 cup butter
1 cup Canadian Bacon
1 cup Sausage or a roll
1/2 cup bacon (fried crisp)
1/4 cup of milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken, can do 1/2 of each too)
2 cups of cheese (any kind)
1 dozen eggs

Place hash browns and melted butter in 9X13 casserole and place in oven at 350 for 25 minutes. In the mean time begin browning meat (if using sausage). Combine eggs, salt and pepper, and milk to make scrambled eggs.

Once meat and eggs are made, remove Hash browns from oven and top with desired meat combinations. Next  spread 1 can of soup, then cover with scrambled egg mixture. Over all this, put 2 cups of cheese. Bake at 350 for additional 20 minutes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Perfect Vanilla Cupcake

I have finally found it. Although I would consider it more of a yellow cake flavor than white vanilla, it was moist, delicious, perfect! I will be using this again, and again, and again...
I will admit, if you are looking for a perfectly smooth top, while the recipe showed a glorious dome, mine was not. but flavor and texture won out!

Perfect Vanilla Cupcake
Source: Glorious Treats


1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- let sit 5 minutes)

Preheat oven to 350F. 
 In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together with whisk, and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds.  Add vanilla and oil, beat. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture.  Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.  Beat until just combined.  The batter will be thin.   Pour batter into a muffin pan about 2/3 full.
Bake 12-14 minutes. Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.
*The recipe above will work for a 6″ cake.  To make an 8" or 9" cake, double the recipe for an.

Serves: 14 cupcakes

Freeze in airtight container, unfrosted, 1-2 months.

Nutrition: 165, unfrosted

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mock Angel Food Cake

There is a baker in town who I've used for many occasions, graduation, wedding, first child's baptism, etc. She makes the BEST Mock Angel Food cake. I love it, but of course only get it for special occasions. I have been on the hunt for my own version, and finally found it!

Mock Angel Food Cake

2 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
dash of salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp almond flavoring
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp baking powder

Mix together with a wire whisk sifted flour, sugar, and salt. Add boiling water, let cool (this may take several hours). Add almond.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar and baking powder. Beat until stiff.
Gently fold into other ingredients, stir until just mixed.

Bake in ungreased 9x13 pan for 30 min.

Tastes best topped with Vanilla Buttercream frosting.

Serves: 20-24

Freezer: Honestly, it tasted even better after being in the freezer!

Nutrition: 107 calories per piece, unfrosted.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu {the easy way}

I had been going through a funk where I just didn't want to cook. We moved houses, everything was unorganized, and I just thought I had better things to do with my time! Last night I finally decided to cook a good supper, and found this recipe...FANTASTIC!

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Source: slightly modified from Mel's Kitchen

For the Cordon Bleu:
3 large, thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise (to make two thinner chicken breast cutlets; you will have 6 total thin chicken breasts)
12 slices good quality deli ham
1/2 cup bread crumbs (preferably fresh)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese (I used 6 slices)

For the Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube, crushed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter. Set aside.

Lay the cut chicken breasts in a single layer in the 9X13-inch dish. Layer each chicken breast with two slices of ham and top with slices of Swiss cheese, layering across the chicken breast to make sure the entire chicken breast is covered with ham and cheese. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the chicken.

Bake the chicken for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through completely, the cheese is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden.

When the chicken is almost done, in a medium saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the flour, whisking constantly. Cook the flour/butter mixture for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking quickly. Stir in the chicken bouillon granules and salt. Whisk mixture constantly over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer and thicken, about 3-5 minutes.

Once the sauce has bubbled and thickened, remove from heat and stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Keep the sauce warm until the chicken is finished baking. If your sauce is too thick, whisk in some more milk. If it's too thin, simmer longer.

Serve each chicken cordon bleu portion with warm sauce. Makes 6 servings.
Serves: 6

Freezer: You can easily make the chicken ahead and freeze. Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce should be made fresh. If you choose, you can skip this when serving (however I strongly recommend making it!)

Nutrition: 550 calories each

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chocolate cupcake

We have a WINNER! These were moist DAYS later :) Now, I'm a little strange, but I'm not normally a chocolate person. But these, with vanilla frosting, were pure heaven!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: Bakerella

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill cupcake tray with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together with a wire whisk. Add eggs, oil, vanilla and milk and mix until combined. Add hot water and mix, do not over mix.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes for mini's, 18-20 minutes for full-size cupcakes.

Decorate with Vanilla Buttercream

Serves: 24 cupcakes, or I made 48 mini's

Nutrition: on frosted cupcake is 118 calories, unfrosted mini's are 56 calories

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sunny Cupcake

Happy Spring! This cupcake makes me feel bright and cheery :)

My kids and I made this for a preschool treat, so fun, so easy!
We were in a rush, so we used box cupcakes (preschoolers don't know the difference anyway!!)
Candy Corn for the sunrays
Rope Licorice for the smile
Mini Chocolate Chips for the eyes
Idea found in the Taste of Home Cupcake Magazine :)

I was Featured on:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Georgetown Cupcake's Red Velvet Cupcakes

Anyone besides me love DC Cupcake?  I love to watch it when I catch it on TV, my husband thinks I'm insane and just walks away :) We made the Georgetown Red Velvet cupcakes, and they were fabulous! Texture and moisture was spot on. I would have liked a little more "chocolate" flavor, so next time I intend to add extra cocoa powder!

Georgetown Cupcake Red Velvet Cupcakes
Source: food folks and fun, adapted for 12 cupcakes - fabulous consistency, moistness, but next time I will try buttermilk and/or more cocoa

1 5/8 C all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature (preferably European style)
7/8 C sugar
1 large eggs, at room temperature
2 T red food coloring (no-taste liquid food color, such as McCormick)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey pure Madagascar Bourbon recommended)
1 1/4T cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 C whole milk, at room temperature
3/4 t baking soda
3/4 t apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard cupcake pan with baking liners.

Sift together the flour and salt, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Using a whisk, whisk together the red food coloring, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Slowly add this to the mixer bowl, mixing slowly until well incorporated.

Add one third of the flour, followed by one third of the milk and mix until combined. Repeat. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the last third of the flour, followed by the last third of the milk and mix until incorporated.

In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the apple cider vinegar. You’ll see the baking soda and vinegar fizz up. Mix thoroughly and add this reaction to the batter. Mix until just incorporated.

Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pan, about 2/3 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serves: 12

Nutrition: 186 calories, without frosting

For the Vanilla Cream-Cheese Frosting
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature (preferably European style)
4 C (or 1 pounds) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 t pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey pure Madagascar Bourbon recommended) 
6ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Place the butter and cream cheese in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream for about 2 minutes on medium speed.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and beat until well combined. Be sure to beat on high speed at the very end for about 2 minutes to ensure that the frosting is light and fluffy.

others to try:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Banana Bread

A family favorite around here is the super simple and ever delicious, banana bread!

Low Calorie Banana Bread
Source: N/A

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (I omit)

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs; mix well.
Beat in the bananas, sour cream, applesauce and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture just until moistened.
Fold in chips, if desired.
Pour into 3 mini-loaf pans coated with cooking spray. If desired, top with chocolate chip layer.
Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Or 1 large loaf-pan for 55-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Serves: 3 mini-loaves, 8 thick slices each
or one large loaf

Can freeze loaves in airtight bag/container for up to 3 months
Nutrition: 185 calories per slice with chocolate chips
115 calories per slice without chocolate chips

I topped one loaf with mini-Chocolate Chips, the kids LOVED it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mexican Chicken

Mexican Chicken

1-1/2 pounds chicken (or you can substitute any meat - pork, boneless round steak, etc)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 can black beans, drained
1 (20 ounce) jar of Salsa
1/2 cup beef broth

Place chicken breasts in crockpot and mix with all other ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with rice.
Serves: 4-6

No prep necessary prior to freezing. Place all ingredients in a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to eat, thaw, and place in crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.

Nutrition: 6 servings is 423 calories (depending on salsa used)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cheesey Chicken Lasagna

Picture Source: What's for Dinner?

Cheesey Chicken Lasagna
Source: adapted from What's for Dinner?

3 cups skim milk
1 (1 oz) pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
3 C. cubed, cooked, chicken
1/8 tsp pepper
1 (16oz) lasagna noodles, cooked
1 1/2 C cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 C mozzarella cheese, grated

Boil chicken for 20 minutes, or until done. Prepare noodles, rince under cold water when finished.
Simmer 3 cup milk and ranch dressing over low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in the Chicken and pepper. Layer half of lasagna noodles, sauce, and cheese in a well buttered pan. Repeat layers. Bake covered at 350 for 40 minutes then uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serves: 1 9x13 pan or 2 8x8 pans

This is perfect to split into 2 8x8 pans. Complete recipe as stated above until the lasagna is assembled. Then freeze. When ready to eat, thaw and bake covered at 350 for 40 minutes then uncovered for 20 minutes.

Nutrition: 12 slices = 286 calories each

* I only had 8 ounce oven ready lasagna noodles, this does make for a "light" lasagna, I think it would be better with more noodles!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's!

a sick baby means she gets her own picture later.

her "rockstar" apparel left little to be desired by our 3rd photo shoot! She was not loving pictures :(

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frog Cake Pops

My friend's little girl was turning 4, and she asked me to help her make Cake Pops for the party! It is a tedious task, so it's always more fun to make them with a friend :)

My friend had gotten all the supplies, so this was none of my creativity, I just showed up and supplied the labor :)

We used the Wilton Markers and were sadly unimpressed with their sticking power on the chocolate.

Friday, February 10, 2012



1 cup brown rice
3 cups shredded chicken (approximately 2 large chicken breasts)
2.5 cups shredded Mexican Cheese, divided
2 (14 ounce) cans red enchilada sauce
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed
1/2 yellow onion, diced (if desired)
10 flour toritillas

Boil a large pot of water, once water is boiling place chicken breasts inside and cook for 20 minutes, or until done. Use a fork to shred.

Cook Brown Rice.

After chicken is shredded and rice is cooked, place both in a large bowl with 1 can of enchilada sauce, 2 cups of cheese,black beans and the diced onion. Mix Well. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Fill 10 tortillas with mixture rolling them and place in the 9x13 baking dish. I like to split mine amongst two 8x8 baking dishes. Pour 2nd can of Enchilada Sauce and remaining cheese over top of Burlattas.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Delicious served with Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Serves: 10

Once prepared, cover and freeze until ready to use. To serve, thaw and bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes, or until warmed through.

Nutrition: 646 calories each

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yellow Cupcakes

Everyone needs a perfect yellow cake in the recipe box. I tried this one and thought it stayed beautifully moist! I ate a cupcake several days later and it still was moist - something I have found rare with most homemade cupcakes! It did have almost a cornbread type cupcake taste though.

Moist Yellow Cupcake
Source: Bakerella

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter (room temperature)
1 cups of sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1.5 cups of sifted flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of whole milk (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon butter flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcake tins (double the recipe to make 3 8-inch cakes).

Cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream for about 7 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour and milk (alternating to creamed mixture), beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and butter flavoring to mix; until just mixed.

Fill cupcakes 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, depending on your oven. Tops will begin to brown.

Serves: 12

Nutrition: 207 calories (unfrosted)

Top with Chocolate Buttercream - divine!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bakery Vanilla Cupcake

I used Sweetapolita's Bakery Style Cupcake to make FunFetti Cupcakes! So cute, the kids loved the looks of them :)

Sweetapolita described the cupcakes as: "a sweet, sturdy and “eggy” cupcake (sorry if that sounds odd, but it’s the only way I can describe that taste)."

I felt the cupcakes were a little dense, but the flavor was spot on. Now to try to figure out how to achieve this wonderful flavor in a fluffier cupcake!

I topped these with my delicious Marshmallow Buttercream.

Bakery Style Cupcake
Source: Sweetapolita

3/4 cups self-rising flour
5/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cups white sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup  milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside. In a large bowl, on medium speed of, cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Fill liners 3/4 full and bake until tops turn golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 18 minutes.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Serves: 12 cupcakes

Nutrition: 202 calories, unfrosted

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Marshmallow Butter Cream Frosting

This was delicious. Maybe one of the best frostings I've had. It was sweet, but not too sweet. So smooth! The one downside would be that it doesn't keep it's shape very well, so not great for Swirling!

that was my swirling attempt :)  Beautiful, but slowly fell!

It worked better just frosted the old fashioned way with a knife

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting
Source: adapted from Hoosier Homemade

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Milk to thin if needed

Beat butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Add marshmallow fluff and vanilla. Add milk if the frosting is too thick
Serves: will frost 24 cupcakes

Nutrition: 140 calories per serving (when serving 24)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Caramel Cake Cupcakes

For my mom's birthday last week I wanted to try a new fabulous cupcake, and this was the one I found. It tasted just as divine as I imagined :)

BUT, do not make this when you are in a rush for time...the caramel icing takes time and patience!!

Caramel Cake Cupcakes
Source: The Cupcake Project


  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (The Cupcake Project states you can substitute 2% milk instead of sweetened condensed milk.  The cupcakes will just be a lot denser. I felt they were plenty dense as is)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • caramel icing (see below)

  • Directions:
    Cream Butter and sugar, beat in eggs. Add flour and sweetened condensed milk, alternating between the two. Add the vanilla.

    Fill the cupcake liner 3/4 full

    Bake at 350F for 20-24 minutes, or until cupcakes bounce back when touched lightly. They will be slightly browned on top.

    Serves: 10-12 cupcakes

    Nutrition: 209 - unfrosted
     315 with caramel icing.

    Caramel Icing
    Source: adapted from The Cupcake Project

  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 3/4 C evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • Directions:
    In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, mix butter, evaporated milk and two cups of sugar. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Do not allow to come to a boil. Once sugar dissolves, reduce heat to low.

    Stir regularly until the liquid reaches the soft ball stage. It's easiest to check for the soft ball stage with a candy thermometer (the caramel should be about 235 F).

    If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can test by dropping a small amount of caramel into water to see if it forms a soft ball.

    It may take up to thirty minutes to reach the soft ball stage.  Do NOT turn up the heat because the caramel can easily burn.

    Mix in Vanilla. Let Cool - but keep an eye on it.

    This is the 2nd spot where I swayed from the original recipe. After it cools about 30 minutes, stire for 10 minutes to get it nice and thick like an icing, so that it is creamy and ready to spread

    Serves: 24cupcakes

    Nutrition: 109 (for 24 servings)

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012


    Have you been in search of that brownie that just melts in your mouth? These are them. Delicious. I'd rather have a vanilla cupcake, but my middle child had a half birthday (pretty big deal when you're a preschooler!) and her favorite is brownies. She requested brownies to take to school (with a summer birthday they celebrate half  birthdays instead...) And so I found this recipe, fabulous. Melts in your mouth perfection. After eating one of these you will never buy a box mix again (except for those lazy days, ha!)

    Best Basic Brownie
    Source: Tasty Kitchen

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cups White Sugar
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • ⅔ cups Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Salt

  • Directions:
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan.

    Melt butter. Add ingredients in the order listed, mix just until mixed.

    Bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not overbake.

    Serves: 24

    Nutrition: 168 calories, unfrosted
    233 calories each when lightly frosted (half batch of my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)

    While they are delicious plain, to add to the chocolatey dreaminess of the basic brownie, add chocolate frosting :) For my daughters class I used a half batch of my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting so that the preschoolers wouldn't be on too big of a sugar high!

    You could even dazzle them up with sprinkles :)


    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Chocolate Buttercream

    If you remember my Vanilla Buttercream, this is just a derivitive of that. I am not typically a full on chocolate person, but this frosting I ate by the spoonful :)

    Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 c butter, room temperature
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract ( or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (add more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp milk (use more if it isn't getting as fluffy as you'd like, adding slowly 1 Tbsp at a time)
  • Directions:
    1. Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy. Add Cocoa Powder.
    2. Add vanilla extract and milk and continue to beat for another minute.
    3. If desired, add more milk if the frosting isn't as fluffly as you'd like
    Additional Notes:
    **If you want a stiffer frosting that will hold its shape a little better when warm, substitue 1/4 c of the butter with 1/4 c of trans fat-free vegetable shortening.

    Serves: about 2 cups, will frost 12 cupcakes or a 9x13 pan of brownies.

    Freezer: store in the fridge 2-3 weeks or freezer up to 3 months. To use, bring to room temperature and re-whip prior to applying to cake or cupcake

    Nutrition: 263 calories per serving (when divided into 12 servings)

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Sweet N Spicy Beef w/Noodles

    Anyone ever eat at Hu Hot? It's a favorite in my house, and sorely missed since we moved! Even my kids loved it there and beg to go back! You create your own Asian stir fry and watch as it's cooked on our grill.  Delicious Mongolian stir fry! This meal was compared to our experience there by my munchkins.

    Sweet N Spicy Beef w/Noodles
    Source: adapted from OAMM

    1 lb. lean flank steak, chopped into bite-size pieces
    1 tbsp sea salt
    1 tbsp black pepper
    1 tsp olive oil
    1 medium white onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
    1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
    1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, diced
    1 cup sugar snap peas
    1 cup baby carrots
    8 oz. pasta noodles
    2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
    4 tbsp honey
    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

    (All veggies are optional and can be changed out to any of your liking!)

    Boil water for pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

    Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat to saute onion, garlic, peppers, carrots, and peas just until they start to get brown and tender. Remove veggies from heat and set aside. Season steak with salt and pepper, then cook in same skillet until meat has reached desired doneness. (Veggies and steak can be cooked together if you would like to save on time).

    Add soy sauce, honey, and red pepper flakes to skillet, and saute to cover meat. Turn heat down to medium, and add in veggies and cooked pasta noodles. Stir to saute another 4-5 minutes.

    Serves: 4

    Package the cooked pasta in a quart-size freezer bag and seal. Pour sauce ingredients, uncooked veggies, and uncooked chopped steak into a gallon-size freezer bag and seal. Place both bags inside another gallon-size freezer bag; label and freeze. To serve, thaw in refrigerator, then cook meat and veggie portion, adding noodles just before serving.
    Calories: 439

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

    A staple for any baked good, from here so many other flavors are possible. Simple and delicious!

    Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

    • 1 c butter, room temperature
    • 3-4 c powdered sugar
    • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract ( or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (add more to taste)
    • 5 Tbsp milk (if doubling, you can use 1/3 cup milk)

    1. Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy. 
    2. Add vanilla extract and milk and continue to beat for another minute. 
    3. If desired, add more vanilla to taste, or more confectioners' sugar to make it stiffer.
    Additional Notes:
    **If you want a stiffer frosting that will hold its shape a little better when warm, substitue 1/4 c of the butter with 1/4 c of trans fat-free vegetable shortening.

    Serves: Will frost 12 cupcakes

    Freezer: store in the fridge 2-3 weeks or freezer up to 3 months. To use, bring to room temperature and re-whip prior to applying to cake or cupcake

    Calories: 258 calories per serving

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012


    Welcome to 2012! Time for a new year, new resolutions, and a lot more fun!

    2011 was a big year for us, after 3 years of talking about it, we moved back to our hometown! Our son started kindergarten, our 1st daughter started a new preschool, and the baby turned 1. While I miss my perfect house and my fabulous friends, it was the right choice for us at this point in our lives. It is wonderful to be in a smaller community surrounded by our parents, who can now participate in their grandkids lives and have a relationship with them they otherwise never would have been able to have! Perfect :)

    1. Freezer Cooking. I have on and off always {since having baby #1} filled my freezer with meals for "a rainy day". 2011 I started to take that to a whole new level after discovering the blog OAMM. I don't use all the recipes, but it's a great start for ideas! I love planning my monthly menu ONCE, spending a day feeling like I can actually cook, and then for the rest of the month enjoying the easy life of just pulling out the meal and baking it. done.

    2. Cupcakes. yum, I love cupcakes. Last year I got hooked. This year I want to perfect. My sister graduates in May and she has asked me to make mini cupcakes for her party. Now to find my favorites, perfect them, and create for her party!

    3. Pretend to like cooking. While with Once a Month Cooking I spend one day a month pretending to like cooking, I'd like to try to expand on it...and exploring new recipes to get our family out of the same old boring routine...wish me luck

    4. Non Kitchen Fun. To sit down and play with my kids more. The laundry can wait, as the kids grow too fast! To have fun sewing, love it. To organize my life/home. To turn our new {6 months living here} house into our home, even if we do only plan to live here for a few {2-5} years.

    Bring on 2012!
    *Sorry for the poor quality phone picture, but this is my new toy :)