February 28, 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

I was surprised to learn how many people hadn't heard of/tried a date (the fruit silly) when I made this appetizer.  So I wanted to give you a short tutorial about what they are.  If you already know, skip the next paragraph. 

Dates come from a tree called the Date Palm tree and they grow in large "clumps" sort of like banana's at the end of a long stem.  They aren't sure where it originated from but they think it was probably around Iraq, but Egypt seems to be the largest producer as of 2011 according to Wikipedia. There are several different stages of ripeness but usually by the time you buy them in a grocery store they are dried to some extent.  Dates are used a very large variety of foods but usually here in the U.S. you would buy them chopped and use them in breads or desserts. Usually found near the raisins. You can also buy them whole and eat them plain or stuff them with almonds, walnuts, cream cheese or many other things.  Or you can just try this recipe! Whole dates are usually refrigerated. 

There, now don't you feel like you learned something today? I do what I can. 

I brought these to my neighborhood dinner club party recently and they were loved by all.  They are very simple to put together although you probably will have to go look for the dates.  I found mine at Trader Joe's.  Goat cheese is simple to find and if you can't find it or don't like it you can always substitute with cream cheese. 

I hope you'll give these a try at a party you're hosting or attending soon.  They are delicious!

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Recipe from Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

  • 1 (8 ounce) package pitted dates
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 (16 oz) package bacon
Cooking Directions
  1. Slice each date in half length wise.
  2. Scoop in a small amount of goat cheese, close the date around the cheese.
  3. Cut the bacon in half length wise and wrap one slice around the cheese filled date. Place in a foil lined baking dish or rimmed cookie sheet, seam side down.
  4. Bake at 400º for 20-25 minutes.

February 26, 2014

Sesame Peanut Noodles

I guess I'm on some sort of Asian food craving thing huh? This is another vegan recipe in case you're wondering.  I'm getting close to finishing my month of vegan eating and I have begun to stray quite a bit.  So, with that being said, meals like this help me stay on track.  It's delicious and easy and it makes you feel like you're eating a full meal even though there isn't any meat here.

If you're looking for a saucy type of recipe then you might want to double the sauce below because the regular portion size just barely clings to the noodles.  I found it to still be very flavorful and if I do double the recipe next time I'm not sure I would add ALL of it, just keep adding until you get the consistency you desire.

The flavor is awesome.  I happen to love Cilantro but you could omit it if you don't.  The bean sprouts add a yummy crunch and the Cilantro gives it a freshness that I love.  The peanut taste is perfect and not too overpowering.  I served mine at room temperature but it keeps well in the refrigerator as well.

Great meatless meal idea here. 

Sesame Peanut Noodles
Recipe from Nigella Express page 261

Dressing Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic-infused oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
Salad Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 lbs cooked noodles
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups snow peas
  • 1 medium red pepper, seeded and cut into small strips
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Cooking Directions
  1. Begin by making the dressing. Use a small bowl or a jar with a lid to add the dressing ingredients. Shake or stir until well combined.
  2. Place the noodles, bean sprouts, snow peas, sliced red pepper and sliced scallions into a bowl.
  3. Pour the dressing over the noodle mixture and mix until thoroughly covered.
  4. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and cilantro.
  5. Store or serve

February 24, 2014

Spicy Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onion and Barbecue Sauce

You may or may not know that my neighborhood does a dinner club once a month.  See, the theme was cheese.  I saw this recipe on Pinterest and have been dying to give it a try so I knew this event was the perfect one to break it out. This sandwich does take grilled cheese to a whole new level.  Some people are just so smart, I mean how did I not think of this? It's brilliant.

So basically you can leave off the pepper jack cheese if you're not into spice, or you can make it even spicier by adding some hot sauce or even jalapeños.  Really, this sandwich makes me realize all the grilled cheese possibilities that I've been neglecting my whole life.

You need to try this sandwich.  Seriously.  Try it!

Spicy Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Barbecue Sauce
Recipe modified slightly from Ring Finger Tan Line

  • 8 slices bread (your choice but I used sourdough)
  • sharp cheddar cheese, sliced (about 1 slice per sandwich but it depends on bread size)
  • pepper jack cheese, sliced (depends on bread size)
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup or more of your favorite barbecue sauce
Cooking Directions
  1. Slice the onion thinly and place into a large skillet with about a Tbsp of oil or butter.
  2. Cook on medium low for about 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and turning golden.
  3. Remove the onions to a small bowl and top with barbecue sauce, stir together until coated. Add more sauce depending on how saucy you want it.
  4. Butter one side of each piece of bread and lay on piece of bread on a hot skillet or griddle.  Lay both the cheeses on top of that slice of bread, top the cheese with the saucy onions and place another piece of bread (butter side up) on top the onions. 
  5. Repeat with the remaining bread, cheese and onion mixture.  
  6. Watch the sandwiches carefully so they do not get over brown on the bottom, when golden flip them over and cook the other side until golden over medium heat.  Takes about 4-5 minutes on the first side and 2-3 minutes on the second side. 

February 21, 2014

Banana-Blueberry Muffins

I'm in the middle of a month long vegan attempt.  I say attempt because I'm not very good at being a vegan but so far I've been doing pretty well.  I'm also happy to say that I have had some nice weight loss and that has made it easier to continue. 

One thing I've enjoyed in the mornings are muffins.  I made some blueberry muffins early on and then I made these and I love them.  The thing about vegan recipes is that sometimes they can turn out try.  I've been lucky and both muffin recipes I made were totally moist and delicious.  This recipe is dense and full of flavor.  I think adding the dish of water to the oven while cooking really works. 

You're going to love this muffin regardless of whether you're watching your diet or not.  Moist, and full of flavor.  What more could you want? 

Banana-Blueberry Muffins
Recipe from examiner.com

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (defrosted and rinsed)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325º
  2. Place an oven safe dish of water in the cold oven, about 2 inches of water.
  3. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake papers, 12 total.
  4. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer add the bananas, sugar, oil and vanilla.
  6. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients a little at a time until combined.
  7. Stir in the blueberries by hand so they won't break as much.
  8. Fill each cupcake paper with equal amounts of batter and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness using a toothpick in the center, when it comes out clean they are done.

February 19, 2014

Lo Mein with Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots

Sometimes I just have a major craving for Lo Mein.  I'm usually way to lazy to actually go out and pick some up.  I was totally thrilled to see a vegan version of it in a cookbook I borrowed from the library and knew I had to try it. The only bad part about this recipe is that now I know Oriental Ramen noodles are vegan.  This is bad because I know how bad they are and yet seeing them in this recipe was basically giving me permission to eat them.  So I did.  I had to.  For experimental purposes of course.

I'm happy to report that this recipe is delicious.  It doesn't hurt that it has my weakness in it (Ramen noodles) but it also has all the veggies I like.  I have to tell you that the original recipe calls for tofu and not as much sugar snap peas, but I'm not a huge fan of tofu so I left it out.  You can do that as the cook, customize what you're making to suit your tastes.  :)

You could easily modify this recipe to fit your carnivorous tastes by adding chicken, beef or shrimp so feel free to make it your own.

Lo Mein with Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots
From Good Housekeeping The Family Vegetarian Cooking page 136

  • 2 packages (3 ounces) Oriental flavor ramen noodles
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces (2 cups) sugar snap peas, cut into 1" pieces
  • 3 green onions, cut into 2" pieces
  • 1 package (5 ounces, 1 1/2 cup) shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup bottled stir-fry sauce
  • 3 ounces (1 cup) fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add ramen noodles but reserve the seasoning packets, cook for 2 minutes. Drain the water but reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile in a 12 inch skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat, or until very hot. 
  3. Add the peas and green onions, cook until they are tender crisp (3 to 5 minutes).
  4. Stir in the carrots, stir-fry sauce, and 1 ramen noodle flavor packet to taste depending on how much salt is in the stir-fry sauce. Cook until the carrots are tender, about 2 minutes. (Discard remaining flavor packet or save for another use). 
  5. Save some bean sprouts for garnish at the end. 
  6. Add the noodles and the reserved cooking water and bean sprouts and cook for 1 minute, while stirring. 
  7. Sprinkle with remaining bean sprouts and serve. 

February 17, 2014

Homemade Jerky Marinade

My husband is in airports all the time, and in case you haven't been in an airport lately you should know that everything is very expensive.  If you want a salad you're looking at about $9 or more. Healthy food in an airport is always expensive.  Needless to say we try to think of things that he can take with him from home.  That way we know what's in it and we know that it's healthy.

We made some jerky a little while ago and now we're just on a quest to try out different marinades.  I have to tell you, out of the two this one is my favorite.  You can make it as spicy as you want but I liked the tanginess of the hot sauce better then the red pepper flakes.  This way is more of an all over spice and not just spice when you eat a flake.  It's a little sweet and very flavorful.  I'm looking forward to trying more but this one will be done again.  It's just a good all around flavor that I enjoyed immensely.

If you're into making your own jerky you should definitely give this one a try!

Homemade Jerky Marinade
Recipe from AllRecipes

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Blend all the ingredients together.
  2. To use: Place 1 lb of sliced lean meat in a zip lock bag or leak proof container and pour the marinade over the top.
  3. Turn the meat and sauce every couple of hours to coat well. Let marinade for at least 24-48 hours.
  4. Remove the meat from the marinade and discard any remaining marinade.
  5. Follow manufacturers instructions to dehydrate the meat.  It took me about 6 hours.  Keep checking it as it will depend on how thick the meat is.

February 13, 2014

Monster Cookies

You're looking at the cookie that my daughter and I decided to make for my gramma.  She doesn't cook anymore and she has a huge sweet tooth (like yours truly) so we decided it would be fun to send her some cookies. My gramma's appetite isn't what it used to be anymore so I realize that cookies aren't the healthiest thing in the world but I felt slightly better about it being full of oatmeal.  That way it's practically health food.  Right? 

Well maybe not. 

These were fun to make.  I used the pink, white and red M&M's because it's almost Valentines day but you could use any of the colors you want to fit any upcoming holiday.  You basically just put all the ingredients in a large bowl and combine them and then scoop them onto a cookie sheet.  No need to dirty your stand mixer unless you want to. 

The original recipe is doubled from the one below, but this recipe below makes PLENTY!   This made 63 cookies. 

Monster Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp Karo syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips (because I was too lazy to only do 1/2 a bag)
  • 12 oz M&M's (Same reason as above)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
  3. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugars and combine, then add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Drop the dough by spoonful or cookie scoop onto the prepared cookie sheets. The cookies don't spread out so they will pretty much stay in the same shape that they are placed on the cookie sheet. If you want a flatter cookie you will need to use the bottom of a glass to flatten them before baking.
  5. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Do not over bake.

February 12, 2014

Chocolate Cake With Coffee Ganache

What better way to say "I Love You" then chocolate cake? Especially if your loved one doesn't do Dairy or eggs!  I was surprised by this cake because I expected it to taste different somehow but it tastes exactly like a regular chocolate cake!  You can't tell a difference AT ALL!  I promise you, I consider myself to be somewhat of a chocolate expert. 

You are witnessing the reason my weight loss has slowed tremendously this month.  This darn cake!  It's so moist and chocolaty.  The apricot preserves on top and then the ganache are more then I can take.  I simply must get rid of it.  So I'll probably just eat the whole thing while watching the Olympics. :)

If your Valentines Day plans call for chocolate this year, you should consider this cake.  The cake is delicious and the apricot and chocolate ganache is such a perfect taste combination.  I just love it. 

Oh, and if you don't like coffee don't worry.  I don't drink coffee and I still love this cake.  The coffee just makes the chocolate taste even better.  Not a strong coffee flavor at all, can't taste it at all in the cake and only slightly in the ganache. 

Chocolate Cake With Coffee Ganache
Recipe from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau page 146

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup black coffee or espresso
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For Glaze
  • 1 cup apricot preserves or jam
  • 2 Tbsp water
For Ganache
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp black coffee or espresso
  • 2 Tbsp non-dairy, non-hydrogenated butter (such as Earth Balance)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Spray an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan, or a springform pan with cooking spray and set aside. 
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, soda and cocoa in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. 
  4. Mix the milk, coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla together and then pour into the well you made. 
  5. Mix the ingredients together until smooth. 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. 
  7. Let cool completely. 
  8. For the glaze: Use a small sauce pan to bring the preserves and water to a slow boil and let cook until the preserves are thickened and cling to the spoon.  This took me about 5-10 minutes. 
  9. Meanwhile start the ganache by combining the ingredients and putting them in a double boiler over medium-low heat to slowly melt and combine.  Stir often. 
  10. Pour the warm preserve glaze over the top of the cake and use a knife to spread it around over the top. 
  11. Next slowly pour the ganache over the top of the preserves, use an off set spatula to spread it around over the top.  
  12. Serve the cake immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. 

February 11, 2014

Valentines Day Gifts

My daughter and I decided to make her class and teachers some Valentines day gifts.  I thought you might like to see how we did it.

First cut out your desired shape.  I used a cookie cutter and traced a heart shape on a plain piece of paper, then cut it out and taped it onto the cup.

Use the tip of the pen to lightly tap the desired colors. This markers dries quickly so if you make a mistake you only have a minute to fix it. Remove the template and let dry.

The finished product. We made three and on the back we wrote each of the teachers names.  One cup was for my gramma.

For the gift bags.  Just print the template here. Cut them out and then place them inside a gift bag.  Fill the bag with as many fish as you want and then close and give away to the class.

We also filled the cups with M&M's and the remaining Swedish Fish with a little note attached to the handle for each teacher.

Things you will need:

  1. Ceramic marker.  I got mine from Michaels and they are called DecoColor. 
  2. Ceramic mugs, plates or whatever you want to decorate. 
  3. gift bags - clear or mostly clear (found at Wal-Mart in the party supply section near the cake decorating stuff)
  4. Swedish fish OR Goldfish crackers
  5. Color printer

February 10, 2014

Homemade Fruit Bars

Whenever possible I try to make snacks for my daughter to have at home and to take to school with her for snack time.  I've made fig newton's here and she loves them.  

Just use your child's favorite preserves or jam for the filling and you should have a winner.

I found this recipe very easy to make.  I was wondering about the dough at first because it seemed really crumbly but it worked perfectly after it baked.  I let them cool completely and they held their shape while still being soft with a crumbly topping. I store them in a air proof container in the refrigerator.

These bars are a great option if you're looking for something easy and delicious to put in a lunchbox or to have at home for a snack. If I'm packing some for my daughters snack at school I usually put them in a Tupperware container and not a zip lock bag so they hold their shape throughout the day.

Homemade Fruit Bars
Recipe from Two Pea's and Their Pod via Weelicious Lunches

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  • 3/4 cup fruit preserves or jam
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Using your food processor, combine the flour, oats and pulse for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the sugar, salt, butter and butter and pulse until the dough holds together when pressed.
  4. Spray a 9x13 inch dish with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper and spray it as well.
  5. Put half the dough in the prepared pan and press it in using your hands or a spatula.
  6. Spread the jam on the dough and then top with the remaining dough and press down with your hands or a spatula.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cut into the bar size you desire and serve.

February 7, 2014

Blueberry Muffins (Vegan but you'd never know it)

This recipe surprised me.  Not because it's vegan but because my daughter loves them!  My daughter is such a picky eater and yet she still loves them.  I couldn't be happier.

Some people ask me what vegan actually is, so here's a short description and it can change depending on personal preference. Vegan's don't eat dairy (including eggs) or meat.  Some vegan's don't eat oil and some people just try not to have sugar either.  So there  you have it, you'll notice by the recipe below that there aren't any eggs or butter in this recipe.  I used frozen blueberries which is why mine sort of had a blue tinge of color, if you use fresh berries that won't happen as much.

The muffins had ton's of blueberry flavor, they were moist inside and golden brown with a little crunch from the sugar on top.  I love them and so does my husband.  I usually include one in my daughter's lunch or for a quick breakfast when we're on the run.

I hope you'll give these a try even if you aren't vegan, you'd be surprised by how many things you probably already eat that would be classified as vegan foods. :)

Vegan Blueberry Muffins
From Good Housekeeping's Family Vegetarian Cooking page 23

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond/coconut)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used cinnamon)
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400º
  2. Put 12 muffin cup liners in a muffin tin.
  3. Use a food processor to grind up the oats into a fine power. 
  4. Add the ground up oats to the bowl along with both flour's, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. In a small bowl use a fork to combine the non-dairy milk, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract.
  6. Now add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until moist.
  7. Add the blueberries and incorporate well.
  8. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, the cups will be very full.
  9. Sprinkle the sugar over the tops of the muffins.
  10. Bake for 23-25 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. 
  11. Remove to a wire rack to cool. 

February 5, 2014

Dinner Club: Theme - Healthy Foods

Dinner club took a slight hiatus this last year but we're back on track for 2014.  I hosted January's dinner club and I chose "healthy" just because it was January and everyone I know is on a diet.  I wanted to see what other people were making for their own families so I could promptly steal their recipes. :) Not steal so much as just kindly borrow.

Turns out my neighbors make some killer healthy food.  Not everyone submitted recipes to me but I'm still going to show pictures and describe them the best I can.

Thank you everyone for coming to dinner at my house!  I can't wait till the next one!

I cannot believe that I didn't remove the cap to the fruit dip BEFORE taking a picture.  UGH!  I promise to make this again myself very soon and replace this horrible picture.  I'm so sorry because this dip was the my biggest weakness of the night.  I LOVED it!

This dip was brought my Melissa Y.  She brought one other item too but hasn't given me the recipe for it just yet.  I will post it as soon as I get it.

Chocolate Fruit Dip
Recipe from EmilyBites via Taste Of Home Cooking School Cookbook

  • 8 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups light whipped topping
Cooking Directions
  1. In a bowl or a stand mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder together until creamy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and whipped topping and beat together again until thoroughly mixed and smooth.
  3. Serve with any fruit, graham crackers, marshmallows or anything that might be delicious covered in chocolate.

I had posted about these meatballs already but here they are again.  They were nice to have at dinner club not only because of their yummy flavor but also because they were in the slow cooker and they didn't require my constant attention.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
Recipe from here

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup wing sauce (I used Franks)
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all of the meatball ingredients together in a medium bowl making sure the ingredients are well dispersed.
  2. I used a small cookie scoop to get even sized meatballs. Roll them in your hands to make them a nice round shape. 
  3. Place the meatballs in your slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top.
  4. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for about 3-4 hours.

This dessert is one I made based on the fact that it didn't use sugar, which I gave up in January….well tried to give up.  I did sample some of the cake below.  I had to, as a blogger it was only right.

The filling in these little babies does taste like cheesecake and with no sugar you don't have to feel guilty about two or three or four.  Just sayin.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Recipe from French Press

  • 1 pound hulled strawberries
  • 8 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fat free or low fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  •  graham cracker crumbs
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine the cream cheese, yogurt, honey and vanilla in a bowl and use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to cream the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Use either a small spoon to scoop the cream into the hulled strawberries or use a frosting bag and tip for a more decorative design.
  3. Top each cream filled strawberry with the graham cracker crumbs.

Brought by Lynn T this was our one "not so healthy" OK not healthy at all but totally delicious and very much appreciated cake.  Very chocolaty and moist, great option if you need a dessert and don't have time to use traditional methods!

Crock Pot Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Cooks.com

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup water
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a 5 quart slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray, or you can use a metal coffee can or a crock pot cake bake pan.
  2. cover
  3. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 on low

Another great recipe brought from Lynn T was this Couscous and Lentil recipe.  I really liked it and I think everyone else did too.  I'm a huge fan of Feta cheese and it was the perfect cheese here.  Healthy really does taste good!

Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad
Recipe from MyRecipes

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 can (14 oz) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked couscous
  • 1 cup red diced bell pepper
  • 1 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Place lentils in a large saucepan and cover with water so it's 2 inches above the lentils.  Bring to a boil, cover and then turn to simmer and let cook for 25-30 minutes. Drain well and cool.
  2. Bring the broth to a boil in a medium sauce pan, add the couscous.  Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork. 
  3. Combine the lentils, couscous, bell pepper, mint, parsley and onions. Stir together in a large bowl. 
  4. In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, oil, Dijon, garlic and black pepper.  Whisk to combine and then pour over the lentil mixture.  Add the crumbled feta and gently mix. 
The pictures below are for the other items that were brought but that I didn't receive recipes for. 

Beautiful spinach salad with cucumbers, beets, and avocado's brought by Emily L.  Thanks Emily!

I'm not sure of the exact name for these but they were little pizza's in won ton wrappers brought by Melissa Y.  She brought some marinara to dip them in and they were so so good.  Thanks Melissa!

Spaghetti with tomatoes, Kalamata olives and plenty of Feta cheese brought by Shannon B.  I love these flavors together.  Yummy, thanks Shannon!

Lisa F brought some yummy sushi and California rolls.  Delicious!  Thanks Lisa!

February 3, 2014

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

You are looking at the little football cupcakes that I brought to the Super Bowl party I attended on Sunday.  They certainly did look adorable and good enough to eat.

My husband was my "tester" on this night because I'm still trying to stay off sugar for the most part so here is his review.
"The cake was moist, great chocolate flavor but not overpowering. The frosting was rich and creamy which was a fine contract to the cake itself.  Delicious with a big glass of milk!  Unlike most chocolate on chocolate desserts this cupcake is not so rich that you only want one.  Best cupcakes I've ever had."  

Overall the cupcakes where a hit.  I made a dozen and we had to leave early to get home and put my daughter to bed but there were only four left at that time. I'm sorry to say that my team didn't win but my cupcakes did, and that made me feel better!

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker via Cooks Illustrated

Cupcake Ingredients
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces chocolate chips, melted (milk, semi-sweet or dark)
Making the cupcakes
  1. Heat oven to 350º
  2. Line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners. 
  3. Add the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder and hot coffee to a medium bowl and stir until smooth.  Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. 
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in another medium sized bowl and set aside. 
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the vegetable oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract.  Whisk until smooth. 
  6. Slowly add the cooled chocolate to the mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. 
  7. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the mixing bowl and mix until smooth.  
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan so there is an even amount in each cup and bake for 17-19 minutes. 
  9. let cool slightly in the muffin pan for about 10 minutes and then move them to a cooling rack. 
Making the frosting
  1. Use a food processor to blend the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt until smooth. 
  2. Add the corn syrup and vanilla extract and process until smooth, 5-10 seconds. 
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the melted chocolate.  Pulse 10-15 one second pulses until smooth. 
  4. The frosted cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 
**There is another step for this cupcake that I opted not to do.  You can find it at the link I provided above.**