Tuesday, February 22

Lemon-Lime Chocolate Pistachios

When I said I'd make it up to you, I bet you didn't think it'd be so fast. ;)

As I was reading through my friends' blogs on FoodBuzz, I discovered a link to a monthly cupcake challenge! The Sweetest Kitchen hosts a monthly Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge and February's ingredient is chocolate cake. I found Jamieanne's challenge just in time to create a cupcake, but not enter it into the competition. But I'll share anyway. :)

Chocolate Pistachios 

Honestly, I'm blanking on what (or rather, how much of the stuff) I put into these cupcakes. :) These cupcakes are definitely my own creation, and are probably something I'll continue to tweak until I get it juuuuuuuuuuuust right.

Here is my partner-in-crime in the kitchen.

Here is what Kyleigh is working on in the above picture. Into the mixing bowl went all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Into the bowl for the stand mixer went butter, granulated sugar, and 2 large eggs.

I added the flour mixture alternately with buttermilk; begin and end with the flour mixture. Mmmm, don't you want to just dive right in? Forget baking, just hand me a spoon!

I've had these Reynold's Foil Cups sitting in my baking cupboard waiting for just the right filling. I decided this is it. So here is the batter in the muffin pan in the oven.

After baking at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, here they are! Ready and waiting to be frosted.

While the cupcakes were cooling, I had a dilemma. What should top these chocolate cakes? I had a few ideas in mind, but I couldn't decide on which one. So I tried calling my list of sounding-board people but to no avail. I was left to my own devices.
I actually didn't go with any of my awesome ideas. :) I went in a different direction entirely because I didn't have everything I needed for any one of my crazy concoctions. While I was looking in my pantry for inspiration, I found it! Pistachio pudding mix! The hubs like pistachio so I guess you could say I did this for him. I started with a buttercream icing base, added the pudding mix, and made the needed adjustments.
After tasting, I just wasn't happy with it. I added 2 1/2 Tbsp of lime juice as well as 1/4 tsp lemon extract. That sealed the deal!

It was time to ice the cupcakes. Don't they look cute? :)

CrockPot Tuesdays: February 22nd

Today I'm not at home so I'm not able to do a Crock Pot dinner. However, I didn't want to leave anyone hanging so I asked my Mom if she knew of anything off hand I could use for today. So today's recipe is courtesy of my Mom. (No pictures this week though. Sorry guys! I'll make it up you, I promise!!)

Mama's Crock Chicken

Frozen chicken breasts
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1 chopped onion
3 sliced up carrots

    If you have some potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, or celery hanging around, you can toss any of those in, too! Toss everything in the Crock Pot together. Cover, and let it go! The timing depends on your individual slow cooker, but a good range on low is about 6 to 8 hours. Check on it at about the 6 hour mark. Make sure the chicken is fully cooked. I think this sounds good over a nice pile of brown rice. Hope y'all enjoy!

Friday, February 18

Dessert of the Week-- Brownie Bites

Ah, Fridays--how I love you! 
Although, not nearly as much as I love these new Brownie Bites! :)

    The days leading up to Valentine's Day, the holiday stuff goes on sale. I found one out-of-place package of mini silicone baking cups that turned out to be the last one. On sale and heart shaped, how could I not get these???

I know I wanted to do something with these, but I didn't know what. Then I was at the grocery store and found these:
    Y'all remember those cinnamon chips my mother-in-law brought back from New York last year? I had never seen them before, and had yet to run across them around here. Until last week. Hershey's Cinnamon Chips!! I was beside myself with excitement, so I grabbed a couple bags. :)

I had fun playing with angles with the camera and ingredients.

Here I am, in the kitchen again, looking at the heart silicone cups and cinnamon chips and baking chocolate and then it hit me like a mac truck--Chili Brownie Bites!!!! I've also been wanting to make an "adult" icing of some sort. See, Nate and I went to the liquor store the Saturday before Valentine's Day as part of our 'kids free' night courtesy of Nate's parents (a HUGE thanks again go out to them!!!!). I picked up Raspberry Vodka and have been dying to incorporate it into a sweet something. So I got to work on the new brownies.

Oh yea, Nate was at work and Abby was napping in her crib. Kyleigh didn't actually sleep during naptime so she fell asleep on the couch watching one of her shows. :) Since I was alone, I took a lot of pictures--I've tried to keep what shows up on the blog to a minimum though. :)

One stick of softened butter went into the bowl of my stand mixer with one cup of sugar.

These were beaten together until creamy and then I added one large egg.

Beat until creamier.

Now it's time to beat in one cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Also beat in was the flour mixture (1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground allspice).
It turned out a little dry, so I beat in 3 Tbsp of milk.

Once the milk was added in, it was a good consistency for forming dough balls.

I made them about 1/2 an inch or so.

     I wanted to incorporate the cinnamon chips, so I found something to make a hole in the center of the balls. Please pardon the chipping nail polish--it is not as Xtreme Wear as it advertises. haha

I shoved in about 6 cinnamon chips into each one. Huh? Oh, the fondue fork. Yeah, well, I was looking for something to create the holes with and that was the only thing I could find that wasn't too big. Hay, it works. :)


After closing up the holes, I placed the dough balls into the baking cups.

They baked at 350 degrees F for only 10 minutes. When you open the oven door, the fragrance of chili powder and chocolate wafts into your face. Aaaahh.

They cooled in the cups on the baking sheet for a couple minutes and then I turned them out onto my red plate. Valentine's Day may be over, but love is something that should be shared always, right? :)

While they were cooling, it was time to treat my self to an over-21-indulgence.
A Raspberry Vodka Cream Cheese Frosting.
(pictured below)

On a side note: I do mention being over 21 for this delectable morsel, and I have adhered to this being atop only some of the Brownie Bites that are for the adults.

So that the underage ones, or those that just want a frosting without alcohol, can have a sweet topping I topped the rest of the brownies with the Strawberry Butter Frosting leftover from the Lil' Devils. 'Course I couldn't go without topping them off with red sugar sprinkles!


Wednesday, February 16

You Lil' Devil

Since I finally have a few minutes, it's time to play catch-up from Valentine's Day.

Here are my girls decked out for Valentine's Day. Abby's pigtails didn't last too long after the picture was taken--as you can see, she was pretty excited about them. Kyleigh was excited about her red pants with silver sparkles with her furry white long-sleeve shirt (under her jean jacket) with a pink sequin heart on the front. She was definitely dressed for her class party. :)

For today, we need a special dessert. So I decided to make Lil' Devils.

We made Devil's Food Cake in individual-serving sized heart shaped foil baking cups. While baking up the  cakes and letting them cool, I whipped up the filling. I wanted it to be red or pink for Valentine's Day and to contrast nicely with the chocolate cakes. I made a Strawberry Butter Frosting.

First, use a softened stick of butter, about 2 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar, about 3 Tbsp milk, a good heap of strawberry jam and a few drops of red food coloring. Beat until smooth. 

     Once the cakes have cooled, it's time to fill 'em up. Using the zip-lock bag method, pipe the frosting into the cake. I made two holes--one in both of the upper parts of the heart. Just poke the piping bag in and fill it up--you'll see the cake start to rise and that's when you know when to stop and move on.

So that the spots won't look out of place, finish it off by making them look like horns--'cause these are tasty little devils. ;)

After I finished filling them, I placed them back on the baking sheet and put it in the freezer a bit--just to help the frosting set. Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 15

CrockPot Tuesdays: February 15th

    Growing up my favorite meal was my Mom's Shepherd's Pie. It is still my favorite comfort food and has become one of my step-dad's favorites, too. While I enjoy making it for myself, I don't get to make it too often (I'm the only one that eats it in my family). I thought maybe by making it a different way, I could entice my little ones to eat it. Without any further ado, 

Crock Pot Shepherd's Pie.

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 small onion
2 cans white cream corn
1 can yellow cream corn
5 potatoes, peeled & cubed
3-4 carrots, peeled & sliced
finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika

Here we've got one can of the white cream corn (I used 2) and one can of the regular yellow cream corn.

Into the Crock Pot goes the chopped up potatoes and carrots, the browned meat, sauteed onions with mined garlic, the chopped fresh parsley, as well as the other spices.
Then it is time to add in all three cans of cream corn. Set on low and let it go! Mine cooked for about 6 hours; you are looking for the potatoes and carrots to be tender. It is good served with a dollop of ketchup, too! :)

This is a comfort food that will not disappoint! Whether on a cold day, or even a warmer one, this is a surefire hit!

Friday, February 11

Dessert of the Week-- Valentine's Cupcakes

    My daughter has not let me forget that Valentine's Day is coming up. She has been asking multiple times a day for a countdown. So in honor of the most anticipated holiday by my 4 year old, we are baking up a storm this weekend.
    The first priority is getting cupcakes done for Kyleigh's class on Monday. We are baking Kyleigh's Cupcakes. We bought fun Valentine's baking cups and Kyleigh is super excited about baking for her friends.

At another point this weekend, we will be using a Devil's Food Cake recipe and baking them in individual heart shaped baking cups. We will then pop the little cakes out and cut them in half. If we can ever decide on a filling, we will then complete the whoopie pies. :) Stay tuned!


    I almost forgot! Kyleigh and I painted our toe nails--Kyleigh did mine. Didn't she do a good job? :)

I also painted my fingernails, and look! They match my mixer!! haha That was a complete coincidence by the way.

Once they were baked and frosted, it was time for some quality testing. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. ;) As you can see, Abigail "tested" it thoroughly. :)

    While Abby was making sure everything turned out well, Kyleigh and I were decorating. I dipped just the tip of the heart marshmallows in a glass of water (to help them stick to the frosting better) then stuck them onto the cupcakes. Kyleigh used the red and pink colored sugars. 

    I think we did a pretty good job. :)

Tuesday, February 8

CrockPot Tuesdays: February 8th

    This week I wanted to do something a little different. No soups or stews. This week isn't done when you cover and turn it on. There is more that needs to come together at dinnertime. 
    I'm not quite sure why, but the beautiful weather we have today gave me the urge to have Mexican food for dinner. I asked myself, "how can that translate to the slow cooker?". And then it came to me, use it to make a filling for a soft taco!

So let's get started! 

Get some olive oil heated up in a pan while you chop up one onion.

 As the onion gets chopped, add it to the pan.

 Add in 3 teaspoons of minced garlic.

While we wait for the onion to start browning at the edges, let's get the rest of the ingredients: a packet of taco sauce (found in my pantry from a little while back), one can of chickpeas that has been drained and rinsed, a small can of tomato paste, and one can of chili ready diced tomatoes.

Once the onions have started to brown, add in one pound of lean ground turkey. When the meat is almost finished, add in some chopped fresh cilantro.

Just after the meat has been browned, pour the contents of the pan into the CrockPot.

On top of the ground turkey mixture, add in the can of chickpeas, the undrained can of diced tomatoes, the can of tomato paste, and the taco sauce.

Stir it all up, cover, and turn on to high. It's going to cook for about 4 hours. The plan is to make some cheese sauce before dinner and heat up the refried beans. Then, on the table, we will set out the tortillas, shredded mozzarella cheese, green olives, the ground turkey mixture, Greek yogurt, and then the cheese sauce and refried beans. Is it dinnertime yet?? :)


How did it turn out?? I've been keeping y'all in suspense, really sorry about that. :)
    It seems like 4 to 5 hours on high works well. With an hour left, I added in about a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and about a tablespoon of lime juice. It smelled so soul-warming!

     It turned out great! It was a wonderfully hearty yet figure-friendly filling for some soft tacos. We had refried beans, green olives, and shredded mozzarella wrapped up with it in some whole wheat tortillas. We topped them off with a good dollop of Greek yogurt and cheese sauce. Yumm!!

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