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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mexican Quinoa

We have been trying to eat healthier and including less meat into our diets. Quinoa fast became one of our favorites. We love Mexican flavors, so this dish was very appealing to us. A friend made a version of this for us, and we were hooked. It's one of those dishes that can be served warm, room temperature, or cold. It can be a side dish or a main meal. If you've never experimented with quinoa, try this dish! You won't be disappointed.

Mexican Quinoa
Source: adapted from A Teaspoon of Happiness via Pinterest

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 and 1/4 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinsed)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 (15.5 oz.) can corn
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
salt to taste

In large saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium-high heat.
Add garlic and sauté until about one minute.
Add broth, quinoa, cumin, pepper, and cayenne pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer on low for 20—25 minutes.
Stir in diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, and cilantro just before serving.
Can be served either warm or cold.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Layered Greek Hummus Dip


I love hummus, so when I saw a recipe for layered Greek hummus dip on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it right away. It was easy to throw together and just involved some chopping (a food processor would make this a snap). I made this dip for a party and served it with pita chips. It was a big hit!

Layered Greek Hummus Dip
Source: adapted from Kraft via Pinterest

1 package plain hummus
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup cucumbers (chopped)
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (chopped)
1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano

Spread hummus onto the bottom of 9-inch pie plate.
Drizzle olive oil over hummus.
Sprinkle cheese, cucumbers, red peppers, olives, and oregano over hummus.
Serve with pita chips and enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

I am the designated birthday cupcake baker in our circle of friends. My friend chose triple chocolate cupcakes for his birthday. I made my go-to chocolate cupcakes, filled them with chocolate ganache, and topped them with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting. They were decadent and delicious!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose and subbed out three tablespoons for corn starch.)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, beat together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water with a hand mixer on medium-high speed. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake about 18–22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache
Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup chocolate chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Simmer the heavy cream in a small saucepan until hot. Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Add the butter and stir until silky and smooth.


Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting
Source: Hershey

1 stick butter
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (I use heavy cream.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter, and stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. If needed, add additional milk and powdered sugar to get desired consistency.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chocolate RumChata Cupcakes

When a friend asked me to make him cupcakes for his birthday using chocolate and RumChata, I was thrilled to get another chance to bake with RumChata. I had previously made these RumChata Coconut Cupcakes, but I wasn't 100 percent happy with the outcome. I think the pairing of coconut and RumChata came out too sweet. I wanted a do-over. I decided to make a chocolate cupcake, filled with a whipped RumChata white chocolate, and topped with a RumChata cinnamon cream cheese. These cupcakes were awesome! They were not overly sweet, and everyone loved them.

Chocolate RumChata Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In another bowl, beat together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water with a hand mixer on medium-high speed. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake about 18–22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.

Whipped RumChata White Chocolate Ganache
Ganache inspired by Smitten Kitchen
4 oz. white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream (minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons RumChata

Place white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Simmer the heavy cream and RumChata in a small saucepan until hot and simmering. Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Stir until silky and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes. With a hand mixer, beat ganache on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.


Cinnamon RumChata Cream Cheese Frosting
4oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
3–4 cups powdered sugar
2–4 tablespoons RumChata
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time and RumChata one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add cinnamon and beat well.

RumChata Coconut Cupcakes

When I was asked to make another RumChata cupcake, I realized I never blogged the first ones I made. For those of you who aren't familiar with RumChata, it's a cinnamon cream liqueur. I think it tastes like rice pudding or close to Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. A friend of mine asked me to make her RumChata cupcakes with coconut for her birthday. I could not figure out how to mix the two flavors. I came up with a RumChata vanilla cupcake, filled with whipped coconut white chocolate ganache, and topped with RumChata buttercream. The result was a sweet cupcake with flavors of RumChata and coconut. I wasn't thrilled with how sweet the cupcakes came out, but they were delicious. I vowed to rock a do-over.

RumChata Cupcakes
Cupcakes inspired by Melissa Bakes 

1 stick butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup RumChata

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake liners.In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.Turn mixer to low and alternately add flour mixture and Rumchata in three additions, ending with flour.Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 18 - 20 minutes.Cool completely on a wire rack and top with your favorite icing.


Whipped Coconut White Chocolate Ganache
Ganache inspired by Smitten Kitchen

4 oz. white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Place white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Simmer the heavy cream and coconut extract in a small saucepan until hot and simmering. Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute. Stir until silky and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes. With a hand mixer, beat ganache on high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.





Rumchata Buttercream
1 stick butter (room temperature)
2–3 cups powdered sugar
3–4 tablespoons RumChata

Beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and RumChata one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cherry Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet are one of my favorite cupcakes behind coconut, of course! They are tangy, moist, and delicious. They are also one of my good friend's favorites. This year for her birthday she asked me to jazz up my red velvet recipe up with cherries.The result was a tangy red velvet cupcake with a hint of cherry flavor, a cherry surprise in the center, and cherry-scented cream cheese frosting on top. I thought they might be too sweet, but they turned out perfect! Just about everyone loved them and declared them their new favorite! If you like cherry and red velvet, you have to try these!

Cherry Velvet Cupcakes
Source: adapted from Cakeman Raven as seen on Food Network

2 and 1/2 cups cake flour (I used AP and replaced 5 tablespoons with cornstarch.)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 tablespoons cherry juice (from jar of maraschino cherries)

1 teaspoon almond extract
24–48 maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 24 cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder and set aside. 
In another bowl beat together buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vegetable oil, food coloring, cherry juice, and almond extract on medium speed until blended.
Slowly add flour mixture and beat until combined.
Drop 1 or 2 cherries in the middle of each cupcake before baking.
Fill liners about 3/4 full and bake for 16 - 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Cherry-Scented Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz. block cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
5–6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoons almond extract
2 to 4 tablespoons cherry juice (from jar of maraschino cherries)
a few drops of red or pink food coloring

Beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add almond extract and cherry juice. With mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add food coloring and beat well.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Healthy Cherry-Almond Oatmeal Bars

We have been eating healthier for some time now. I don't bake much, except for special occasions. I've been trying some healthy recipes. This recipe for oatmeal bars looked good, but it was just okay. It lacked flavor. I think it would be much better with the addition of honey or some spices.


Healthy Cherry-Almond Oatmeal Bars
Source: adapted from Kath Eats Real Food

1.5 cups rolled oats 
(I used quick cooking oats.)
1/2 cup almonds 
(or cashews, walnuts, peanuts, etc.)
1/2 cup dried cherries 
(or raisins, cranberries, dates, figs, etc.)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds 
(or chia, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, etc.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk (I used almond milk.)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 X 9 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour into pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
Let cool before cutting.