Saturday, January 14, 2017

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing

My daughter and I made some desserts for a wedding reception tonight to add to a long list of homemade desserts that others have made.  I made chocolate mint fudge and sugar cookie bars.  My daughter made these smooth-as-silk chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing.  It's the icing that's special, and the recipe is all hers! 
Erin- if you're reading this, think of this as a buckeye cupcake. :)

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing (my daughter)
46 of your favorite chocolate cupcakes, baked and cooled

3 sticks butter
2 cups smooth peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter.  Add the peanut butter and blend until thoroughly combined and creamy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar. 
Load a decorator's bag full of icing and go to town!  Add some chocolate sprinkles if you wish.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

greek honey cake

Get your taste buds ready for some good cake.  My daughter and I found this recipe for Greek Fest which is taking place today!  We made two batches of this cake this morning (6:15am) so it's fresh and warm and gooey with an orange essence.  It's going to be a hit.

greek honey cake (
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chopped walnuts (we omitted since we made it for a school project)

2 cups sugar
2 cups honey (We used Turkish honey from Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. 
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange rind. Set aside. 
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. 
Pour honey syrup over the cake. For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

world's best lasagna

No joke- I think this really is the world's best lasagna.  Over 10,000 people at allrecipes declared it 5 stars.  My husband is sure it's the spicy sausage I used, which was my idea. :)  My entire family enjoyed this dish and my husband typically doesn't enjoy lasagna, nor two of my kids.  They kept remarking that it tasted like pizza.  My oldest was eating it out of the pan as I was trying to put away the leftovers.

world's best lasagna (adapted by
Note:  I made it simpler and lower in fat.
2 pounds hot chicken Italian sausage (see image below)
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar (I used 1 Tbsp sugar substitute)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
10 no-bake whole wheat lasagna noodles (see image below)
16 ounces ricotta cheese (I used fat free)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, paste, sauce and water.  Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and half the parsley.  Simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours.
Combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To assemble, spread 1 1/2-2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Arrange 5 noodles over meat sauce.  Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture.  Top with a couple handfuls of mozzarella cheese.  Spoon 1 1/2-2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Repeat layers and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil.  To prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, December 2, 2016

quinoa chicken parmesan soup

I went into making this soup with high hopes but a little reservation.  Quinoa with a parmesan flare?  I wasn't sure.  I am SO glad I made this soup because it's terrific!  I will be making this one again and again.  I am excited about the leftovers because it made a huge amount. (Sorry, bad picture.  It looks delicious and smells divine in real life.)

quinoa chicken parmesan soup (adapted from the sister's cafe
2 giant frozen chicken breasts from Costco
1 cup quinoa
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 (24 ounce) can Hunts garlic and herb flavored spaghetti sauce
1 (14.5) ounce can petite diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling

Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray.
Place frozen chicken breasts into slow cooker.
Rinse quinoa and add it along with the Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic, onion, spaghetti sauce, petite tomatoes and chicken broth.
Cook on High for 6-7 hours.
Remove the chicken and shred then add it back to the soup.
Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in Parmesan and allow to melt.
Top with more Parmesan and fresh basil if you'd like.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

woodland animals baby shower

My daughter was invited by a friend to help prep for a baby shower and my daughter had a blast helping.  You can see why!  I asked for some pictures because I knew something fantastic was happening and I knew I should file away these ideas.  I love the woodland creatures theme.  My daughter's favorite part was helping with the hedgehog dip.  Super cute!  One day...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

pumpkin chocolate chip blondie bars

Halloween was so fun!!  I love the brilliant fall colors, the boo-ing, the treat deliveries, the pumpkins (oh how I love the pumpkins in all their varieties!), the lit candles in sweet and spicy fragrances, jack-o-lanterns, costumes, downtown trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, the primary Halloween party and neighborhood trick-or-treating.  Endless fun.
Our friends Stephanie and Brent delivered these delicious goodies.  The pumpkin bars were so moist and delicious I asked for the recipe.  This recipe will replace the one I already had. :)

pumpkin chocolate chip blondie bars (Stephanie)

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup-1 cup all purpose flour (I usually do about 3/4 cup + 2 tbs)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Set oven to 350, spray 8x8 square dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg, vanilla and pumpkin. Pour in all dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread dough evenly into prepared baking dish. (I usually sprinkle the top with chocolate chips too). Bake 15-20 minutes (check with toothpick). 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

cinnamon roll cupcakes

My daughter asked me to pick up some refrigerated cinnamon rolls but wouldn't say why.  This is why.  We are all in awe.  She saw these cinnamon roll cupcakes somewhere and can't recall where but she remembered exactly how to make them.  They're easy and they're gorgeous!   Now she's going to put a few into cellophane baggies with a pretty ribbon and give them to a few people she's been thinking about.

cinnamon roll cupcakes (my daughter)
makes 20
2 tubes refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (we used Trader Joe's brand, 5 rolls in each tube)
1 package yellow cake mix, batter prepared according to directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line muffin tins with paper liners.  Fill each liner 1/3 of the way full with cake batter.
Slice each cinnamon roll in half, lengthwise.  Place a slice of cinnamon roll on top of the cake batter.  You will need to squish them in a bit.
Bake at 350 degrees for 2o minutes.  Let cool then drizzle with the icing provided with the cinnamon rolls.