Sunday, February 28, 2010

Devilish Cocoa Sandwiches

Ever heard of a Suzie Q? They have to be my mom's favorite sweet snack of all time. She LOVES those little chocolate sandwiches. So, when I came across this recipe while looking around one day, I added it to my favorites, knowing that one day, I would have to make them for her. These little chocolate sandwiches are SO yummy. What I love about them is that they are not too sweet. You can eat one, and won't feel a sugar overload. The filling is SUPER simple...let's see, it's a can of vanilla frosting! My mom told me these were so good, that she wants these every year on her birthday from now on.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (12-ounce) can whipped vanilla frosting - I used Duncan Hines.
  1. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk to blend. Stir in buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Stir with a wooden spoon until just blended.
  3. Spoon some of the mixture into a large resealable plastic bag. Snip a ½-inch corner from the bag. Pipe 3 ½ x 1-inch logs, about 2 inches apart on prepared pan, about 12 per pan. Bake until firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  4. Spoon the frosting into a 2nd resealable bag. Snip a ½-inch corner from the bag. Pipe some of the frosting onto the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with another cookie, flat side against frosting. Continue with remaining cookies and frosting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

My 2nd (2nd to cheesecake) favorite desert EVER has to be Red Velvet cake. I LOVE me some Red Velvet cake, but I rarely get it because not everyone loves it as much as I do. I wanted one more thing to add to my Valentine's baskets. I didn't want to do the traditional Red Velvet Cupcakes. 1) Because everyone does them, and 2) because I was already doing 2 different cupcakes (Pink Lemonade Cupcakes and Vanilla Cupcakes). These little pies are so cute. Mine were made in a little bit of a hurry, so, I'm sure they could've turned out a lot neater. The cake part isn't as sweet as I would like, but maybe that's because the filling is sweet. Man, these are good. If you're the type that doesn't like overly sweet treats, these are for you! P.S. You cannot make these with regular red velvet cake batter. It will just run everywhere.

for the cookies:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 oz. red food coloring
for the frosting:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.
  2. Using a heart template cut out from card stock, trace evenly spaced hearts onto pieces of parchment paper sized to fit two cookie sheets. Place the parchment on the cookie sheets so that the side you have drawn on is facing down; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  6. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated. Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients. Do not overbeat.
  7. Blend in the food coloring.
  8. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the heart tracings as a guide. Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack. Repeat with any remaining batter. Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.
  9. To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.
  10. Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip. Pair the cookies up by shape and size.
  11. Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up.
  12. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear. Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.
Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

Vanilla Cupcakes w/Vanilla Buttercream

I love just a good ole' vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting every once in a while. I have had these in my favorites for a while now, and have to been trying to find an excuse to make! Well, because I was making Valentine's gift baskets, I decided to add these along with the Pink Lemonade Cupcakes, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, and Rice Krispie Treat ♥'s, Can I just say, the buttercream on these babies is SO good!! I even saved the! I have been getting most of my cupcake recipes from Annie's Eats. I love just about all of her stuff. Anyways, this cupcake's frosting is really good, but I'm not sure if I liked the actual cupcake. Though they bake up beautifully, I just didn't like the taste... =( So, I am still on the lookout for a vanilla cupcake. If ya find one that you love, lemme know! =)

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

for the cupcakes:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon (optional) - I opted out of this one.
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk - I used 2%.
for the buttercream:
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
for the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners. Set pan aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest, if using.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack and allow to cool completely. 
Yields 12 cupcakes.

for the buttercream:
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
  2. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds.
  3. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice.
I doubled both parts; I got 24 cupcakes and more than enough buttercream to frost them all.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

I have had cupcake fever lately. I'm trying to find some recipes for cute and different cupcakes for my son's 1st birthday party. I can't wait. I have tried these 3 times, 2 different recipes. The first ones I tried, we liked the cake part of it, but not so much the frosting. The second ones, we LOVED the frosting, not so much the cake. So, I fused the 2 and got this one. They are SO YUMMY!!! They are sweet, but not too sweet. I can't wait to make these for his birthday! Although there are 3 months left before his birthday, I decided to make this for my Valentine's "gift baskets," that's why there are cute little conversation ♥'s on them.

Recipe Source: Cake Batter part is from 100 Best Cupcake Recipes , and lemon buttercream is from I ♥ Cuppycakes!

for cupcakes:
1 pkg (18 oz.) white cake mix without pudding in the mix
1 cup water
3 egg whites
1/3 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Red food color (liquid is okay)

for lemon buttercream:
3 cups + 3 Tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Red food color

To make cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper baking cups.
2. Beat cake mix, water, eggs whites, lemonade concentrate, oil, and food color in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes.
3. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
4. Bake 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

To make buttercream:
1. Add the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and lemon juice to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mixing until combined.
2. Add red food coloring and mix until frosting is uniformly pink.
3. Frost cupcakes, and garnish with pink sprinkles, if desired.
Yields 24 cupcakes.

Ashley’s tip: The frosting was too thick for my liking, so I added about another tablespoon of pink lemonade concentrate.

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

For Christmas every year, I make big gift baskets for our family members with lots of homemade goodies in them...all sweet, of course (though, I am looking for some good savory items to put in for this year coming up). This past Christmas while buying ingredients for the baskets, I came across these adorable marshmallows...French Vanilla marshmallows shaped like little snowmen (you'll see in the picture). So, I have been trying to figure out how to use them. I usually put Snowman Soup in the baskets, but I didn't this year for some reason. On the back of the bag was the recipe for this cupcake. Sounded cute. So, I tried it. What it boils down to is this: This is just a chocolate cake with chocolate whipped cream on it. Very easy to put together. They were very good. I prefer whipped cream over buttercream most of the time anyways. They were really cute, too. Because I made these on Superbowl Sunday, I made some chocolate Fleur de Lis to put on them as well (again, see picture).

Recipe Source: Kraft Foods

  • 1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food cake mix
  • 2 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows, divided - Of course, I used the cute French Vanilla Snowman Marshmallows
  • 4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder - I omitted this. I topped some of them with shaved chocolate instead.
  1. Prepare and bake cake batter as directed on package for 24 cupcakes; cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, place 1 cup of the marshmallows, the chocolate chunks and milk in large saucepan; cook on low heat until marshmallows and chocolate are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring constantly. Cool at least 30 minutes. Gently stir in whipped topping.
  3. Frost cupcakes with the whipped topping mixture; top with the remaining 1 cup marshmallows. Sprinkle evenly with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Store leftover cupcakes in refrigerator.
Yields 24 cupcakes.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

Ever go to Sonic and get Cherry Limeade? Well, I have, and they are really good! I personally prefer the Cranberry Limeade. Just a couple things about this cupcake: 1) The frosting was wonderful! So good! I ate just the frosting off a couple of the cupcakes. 2) I wasn't impressed with the actual cupcake. I don't know what went wrong but, it just didn't come out right. The bottoms on all of them were slightly overdone. The cupcake itself was really buttery. The butter soaked through the liners. The cupcake was dense, too. It was an okay cupcake. I think I might try to concoct my own cupcake batter, though, next time.

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

For the cupcakes:
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. limeade concentrate
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
For the lime syrup:
  • 3/4 cup limeade concentrate
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For the frosting:
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 tbsp. (or more) maraschino cherry juice - I used a little more.
  • red food coloring (optional) - I used some.
For decorating (optional):
  • fresh lime slices
  • maraschino cherries
  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl combine the cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir together and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth.
  3. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed.
  4. Add in the limeade concentrate and mix to incorporate. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions.
  5. Add in the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix ingredients just long enough to incorporate but no longer.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack over wax paper to cool completely.
  7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the limeade concentrate and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lime syrup. Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.
  8. To make the frosting, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter and maraschino cherry juice in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated, then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth. Add more maraschino cherry juice as needed to achieve desired texture. Add red food coloring if desired.
  9. Frost cooled cupcakes. Garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries, if desired.
Yields 24 cupcakes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bobby's Goulash

I really like watching Paula Deen & her boys. My mom gave me some of cookbooks that she never uses, and one of them is the Deen Brothers' book called Y'all Come Eat. I love it! There are so many recipes in it that I want to try! This one is goulash that Paula Deen makes for her son, Bobby, on his birthday. It was so yummy, and made a ton! We ate on it for 2 or 3 days. It is VERY filling. I could barely put down 1 bowl, and I was full! To me, it tastes like a tomato-y beef & mac.  Very good!

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds ground beef - I used 73/27.
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt - I used kosher.
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

1. In a large Dutch oven (I don't have the pleasure of having a wonderful Dutch oven, so I used my big pot.), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in the oil about 10 minutes, breaking meat up with a fork as it cooks. Add the onion, cook and stir for 5 minutes. (It doesn't say to in the recipe, but I drained out most of the grease. Mine ended up turning out thick, but I don't know if I would've liked all that extra grease in there.)
This is the beef before I added the onions.
This is the beef and onion mixture without all the extra grease.
2. Add the remaining ingredients except the macaroni.Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in the macaroni; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Let the goulash stand for 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
Me: I would give it about a 8-9. It was very filling and yummy! 
Hubby: He says a 10. He says it was very hearty & enjoyable. =) I love him!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the spirit of Mardi Gras -- I attempted King Cake

The key word here is attempted. It did not turn out like I had hoped. I got this recipe from Emeril Lagasse, of course, because he's from Louisiana. Well, this is a time consuming recipe...don't expect it to take just an hour. This takes a few hours to put together. The one thing I didn't like about the cake - well, besides the fact that it didn't really turn out - is the overdone lemon taste. There was too much lemon. I followed every step exactly...tried to at least. I thought it tasted really yeasty (I don't know if that is a word or not. Lol!), and I didn't like the texture. The inside of it didn't look like a king cake to me either. Well, here's the recipe, pictures, and some notes to go with it. Good luck...if you try! For me, I'm going to buy a king!

Recipe Source:  Emeril Lagasse

  • 2 packages dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Purple, green, and gold sugar sprinkles
  • Plastic baby toy - I opted out of this.

  1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Combine the yeast, sugar, butter, and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the milk. With the mixer on low speed, beat the mixture for about 4 minutes to dissolve the yeast. If the yeast mixture doesn't begin to foam after a few minutes, it means it's not active and will have to be replaced.
  2. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until it lightly comes together, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and climbs slightly up the dough hook.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl. Coat the dough with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Mix well.
  5. In another small bowl, combine the remaining powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk. Mix well and set aside.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out 30 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. Spread the cream cheese filling across the center of the dough.
  7. Bring the two long edges together and seal all sides completely. Using your hands shape the dough into a long cylinder and place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring. Place a well-greased 2 pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain the shape during baking. Press the plastic baby toy into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm, draft free place. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.
    I didn't have a metal coffee can or shortening can. This was about the only thing I could think of to use. It's an oven-proof pot.
    8. With a sharp knife, make several slits around the top of the ring. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. After baking remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool.
The reason my cake looks "all banged up" on the bottom is because that is how many times I took the cake out to check for doneness. =(

9. Drizzle the cake with the sugar glaze. Sprinkle the cake with sprinkles, alternating colors. Cut the cake into individual pieces and serve.

I don't know what happened. I checked the cake 3 times. Maybe I shouldn't have...I don't know. The 1st time I checked: not done, 2nd time: not done; 3rd time: overdone. Ugh! The cake, like I said, tasted yeasty, the glaze & cake were too lemony, and the cream cheese filling was basically dried and had absorbed into the cake. The filling should've been creamy. Anyways, I probably will never try a king cake again, but if I do, I will make sure I have ample time to make it and am not stressed out at the!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Crab Ravioli in Creamy Tomato Sauce

I have been looking for interesting dishes to try as part of my resolution, and I found this one while searching for ravioli recipes on Food Network's website. This isn't traditional ravioli though. 1) It's made with wonton wrappers (SUPER easy prep), and 2) Crab isn't really traditional filling for it? I will say, this is YUMMY ravioli, but it is a little me. This will be added to my recipe book, and WILL be made again. If you like crab, you should try this!

Recipe Source: Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee

  • 1 (6-ounce) can lump crabmeat - I used Bumble Bee, but I didn't use the Fancy Lumpmeat, I used the other 6-ounce crabmeat, & it worked great.
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 (12-ounce) package wonton wrappers (about 32 wrappers)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk - I used whole milk.
  • 1 (1.3 ounce) package creamy tomato sauce mix - I used Knorr brand Parma Rosa sauce mix.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Drain crabmeat, reserving liquid. In a small bowl, combine crabmeat, cheese, and Italian seasoning.
  2. This is about 1/3 of what you get. I was almost done with making the ravioli, and figured I should take a picture of what the mixture looked like.
  3. Brush a wonton wrapper with the beaten egg.
  4. Place about 1/2 teaspoon crab mixture in the center, and fold wrapper diagonally to create a triangle. Press edges to seal. Transfer to a flour-dusted baking sheet. Repeat until all of crab filling has been used; this should make about 32 ravioli. (I put 1 teaspoon of the crab mixture in each wrapper because 1/2 teaspoon just looked too skimpy. I ended up with 31 raviolis.)
  5. This is 1 teaspoon of mixture on the wonton.
    This is the ravioli folded, sealed, and ready to go!
    Here are all of my little crab raviolis ready to go in the pot. As you can see by the top left and top right corners, I was trying to be a little creative. =)
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine milk and reserved drained crab liquid over medium-high heat. Whisk in sauce, add butter, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Keep sauce warm over low heat while you boil the ravioli.
  7. The sauce reduced a bit after I took this picture, and it is a deeper orange color than this.
  8. In batches of 8, drop ravioli into boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes, or until ravioli rise to the surface. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer ravioli to sauce. Repeat until all ravioli are cooked. (I didn't transfer the ravioli to the sauce. Instead I just poured some over the ravioli.)
  9. Divide ravioli equally among 8 plates. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
  10. Ratings: Me: 5 stars! Hubby: He said a 9.5 out of 10! My parents: They both said "YUMMY, it was SOO good!"