Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Pop Rocks Cupcakes

This month's What's Baking theme was Peppermint, which was perfect for the holiday season. I had decided to make chocolate peppermint cupcakes until I came across candy cane flavored pop rocks when I was out Christmas shopping. I couldn't resist the candy that I ate as a child and used it to dust the tops of the cupcakes. The result was amazing! The candy on top of the cupcakes tasted like fizzy candy canes. They were a hint! I'm now on the hunt for other popping candy flavors so I can make other cupcake creations. 

Chocolate Peppermint Pop Rocks Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose and cornstarch.)
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. (Batter will be very thin.)
Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake about 20 - 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

Peppermint Buttercream
2 sticks butter, room temperature
5 - 6 cups powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 - 4 tablespoons water (or any other liquid.)

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add peppermint extract and beat well. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached. Beat well.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Drunken Cherries

This recipe was given to me by my husband. He wanted me to make these for him to give as Christmas presents. After he tasted them, however, he decided he was going to keep them all and only share a few. I don't blame him. They're addicting! The recipe called for plain rum, but I only had smoked and pineapple, so I decided to use the pineapple run to give them a pineapple upside-down cake flavor. The cherries turned out great! They were a sweet, boozy, and chocolately treat. Make these for the adults, but hide them from the kids!  

Drunken Cherries
Source: adapted from Taste of Home, December 2012

50 maraschino cherries (with stems)
1/2 cup pineapple rum
1 teaspoon shortening
4 oz. chocolate

Drain maraschino cherries from juice and soak overnight in pineapple rum.
Drain cherries (save rum for making drinks while you dip the cherries or discard).
Pat cherries dry and place on paper towels to completely dry.*
Melt chocolate a few pieces at a time with a little bit of the shortening in the microwave or over a double boiler. (I always use the microwave.) Be sure to stir often.
Dip the cherries into the melted chocolate, and place on waxed paper or parchment paper.

*Make sure cherries are completely dry before dipping in chocolate.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Growing up, my Aunt Margie made the best Christmas cookies. My favorite was her cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. Every year, I looked forward to those tangy and light cookies. They were so pillowy and soft. When I was old enough, she shared the recipe with me, but I lost it. With no way to recover it, I had to hunt down another recipe. I am sad to say while these are yummy and soft chocolate chip cookies, they are missing that tangy flavor I remember and not as cakey as the ones from my childhood. 

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: adapted from Bakingblonde

2 cups plus 3 tablespsoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 sticks butter (melted and cooled)
6 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla1
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup mix chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
Beat butter and cream cheese together on medium-high until smooth. 
Add sugars and vanilla, and beat until combined. 
Cool cookies on baking sheets for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Add flour mixture, and beat on  low until incorporated.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop dough onto baking sheets, and bake for 12 - 14 minutes until edges are light brown.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

Looking for a quick and easy treat to fill out your cookies trays this year? Well, look no further. Peppermint and white chocolate are a match made in heaven. So are pretzels and chocolate. So why not combine all of these? The result is a crunchy and salty pretzel enveloped in sweet white chocolate with tiny pieces of crunchy, minty candy canes. You know you want one! 

Peppermint Bark Pretzels
1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate (broken into pieces) 
about 1 tablespoon shortening
25 medium-sized pretzels
2 candy canes (crushed)

Crush candy canes and set aside.
Melt white chocolate a few pieces at a time with a little bit of the shortening in the microwave or over a double boiler. (I always use the microwave.) Be sure to stir often.
Dip the pretzels into the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper or parchment paper.
Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Pretzels are also lovely dipped in milk chocolate and sprinkles:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookies

Martha Stewart has failed me again! Well, these are technically not a failure, but they are not what I had envisioned. As I rolled the cookie dough into little balls and placed them on the cookie sheets, I was dreaming of soft sugar cookies studded with Andes white chocolate peppermint pieces and mini chocolate chips. Then I baked them. The little dough balls spread out into flat, thin puddles, producing a super crispy cookie. I think I overbaked the first batch. They weren't getting brown on the edges, so I let them bake a few extra minutes. This resulted inedible rock-like cookies. (think drink coasters!) I underbaked the next batch, and these cookies were much better. The result was a thin minty cookie with a crispy exterior and chewy interior.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookies
source: adapted from Everyday Food, December 2012

2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 egg
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup Andes peppermint crunch baking chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. 
Beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy. 
Add egg and peppermint extract and beat well.
Turn the mixer to lower, and gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips and peppermint crunch baking chips.
Roll dough into balls and place at least 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 12 - 14 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
Cool on baking sheets for 2 - 4 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

White & Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. Nothing can beat them. My favorite are the original tollhouse filled with semi-sweet chocolate chips. I was trying to make some room in my cabinet, so I decided to use up the open baking ingredients. I found a half-bag of milk chocolate chips and a half-bag of white chocolate chips. Of course chocolate chip cookies were the first recipe to come to mind! These were sweeter than the original, which uses my favorite semi-sweet chips, but very addicting. They are perfect to leave out for Santa with a tall glass of cold milk.

White & Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
source: adapted from Nestle Tollhouse

3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (softened)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 package white chocolate chips
1/2 package milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. 
Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla with a mixer on on medium-high until creamy and fluffy. 
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Roll dough into balls and bake on ungreased baking sheets for  9 - 11 minutes. 
Cool on baking sheets for 2 - 4 minutes.
Place on wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Adventure Time Birthday Cake

I was recently asked to make my four-year old cousin a birthday cake. I happily said yes until I was told the design he wanted: Adventure Time. Adventure, what? I had no clue what it was or what the characters looked like, so I did a quick Google search. When I saw the simple little characters, I was relieved. I could do that! I think it came out pretty good!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Enchilada Stack

I had planned to make enchiladas for dinner, but the corn tortillas weren't having it. Each time I filled and rolled one, it split in half. I tried rolling the tortillas when they were cold and warmed in the microwave, but I had no luck. I cut my losses and went back to the drawing board. I decided to just make a deconstructed enchilada instead. It was kinda like enchilada lasagna or an enchilada stack. I didn't have high hopes for this dinner, but boy was I surprised. It was delicious! I loved the flavor of the slightly sweet corn tortillas with the spicy meat and bean mixture and mild green enchilada sauce. I just love it when a dinner fail turns into a winner!

Enchilada Stack

1.5 pounds ground beef (or turkey)
1 can corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 (4 oz.) can green chiles (undrained)
4 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
18 small corn tortillas
1.5–2 cans green (or red) enchilada sauce (or 2 cups homemade)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef (or turkey) and drain. Add corn, black beans, green chiles, taco seasoning, and water and mix well. Heat mixture until thoroughly heated and set aside.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and layer six tortillas on the bottom on the pan, overlapping the tortillas.

Cover tortillas with one-half of the meat mixture, and drizzle 1/2 can of enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese, and cover with six more tortillas. Repeat with meat mixture, 1/2 can enchilada sauce, 1/3 cup cheese, and remaining six tortillas.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until top is nice and crispy.

Garnish with salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, and cilantro (if desired).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sugar Cream Pie

Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a pie. And pie just so happens to be our What's Baking theme for November. Every year, I typically stay away from classic apple and pumpkin pies and try something new for Thanksgiving. This year was no different. I saw a recipe for a sugar cream pie in a magazine last year, and I knew right away that I needed to tuck it away for this year. I misplaced the recipe but after a quick Internet search, I came across this recipe. It had rave reviews. It smelled heavenly while it was baking—like french toast—so I had high hopes for this pie. The verdict: It was too sweet and had an odd consistency. The consistency was like a firm jelly, slightly like custard, but not rich. It was not the delicious sugar cream pie I had envisioned. My little cousin, however, loved it and called it cream of wheat pie. 

Sugar Cream Pie
source: Allrecipes

1 prepared 8-inch pie crust (unbaked)
1 and 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used cinnamon.)
1/4 cup butter (chilled and diced)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, flour, and cream with a wooden spoon. 
Add milk and vanilla and continue stirring mixture is smooth. 
Pour mixture into pie crust. 
Sprinkle top with nutmeg (or cinnamon) and drop small chunks of butter onto pie.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes.
Cool completely before serving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey and Chorizo Chili

My husband wanted me to make this chili that I whipped up recently, but I couldn't find poblano peppers at the grocery store. So I decided to mix it up a bit and create a new chili. I used a bell pepper instead of the poblano pepper and turkey instead of beef. Then I added Mexican chorizo to amp up the flavor. I also added fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers, white beans, and light red kidney beans. The results were saucy, spicy, and satisfying—nothing short of delicious. It was not as rich or sweet as the other chili, but it packed some heat, which I really enjoyed. If you're looking to add something a little different to your chili, add some chorizo. You won't be disappointed.

Turkey and Chorizo Chili
Source: adapted from Taste of Home, August/September 2012 and Hanover

1/2 pound Mexican chorizo (casings removed)
1 pound ground turkey
1 green bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 large can (40 oz.) light red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 large can (29 oz.) tomato sauce
1 small can (15 oz.) fire-roasted tomatoes
1 small can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers 
2 small cans (15 oz.) white beans (one drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips for garnish (optional)

Brown chorizo in a large skillet and add to a crock pot. Brown turkey in chorizo drippings and add to crock pot. Add peppers, tomatoes, beans, spices, and sauce, and mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips, if desired.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This year my husband and I celebrated five years of marriage. It's been a wonderful five years, and I wouldn't change a thing. I always make us a cake to celebrate our anniversary, and since we love beer so much, I wanted to incorporate beer into a recipe this year. Pumpkin beer is one of our favorites, so we decided to sample more than a dozen different pumpkin ales, such as Saranac, Weyerbacher, Fegley's, Long Trail, Shipyard, and Blue Moon, in search of the best. While the ones I mentioned were all good in their own right, they were not the best. I'm pleased to announce that a local pumpkin ale topped the list this year: Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale. It's not too heavy and has a great pumpkin flavor that is accompanied by a nice blend of fall spices. It made us the perfect anniversary cupcakes: pumpkin ale cupcakes topped with salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream—which just so happened to fit this month's What's Baking theme of Baking with Pumpkin or Sweet Potatoes. The results were heavenly!   

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes
Source: adapted from Snappy Gourmet

1 box spice cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup pumpkin ale plus more for brushing tops (I used Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale.)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with 18–20 paper cupcake liners.

Whisk together cake mix and spices. Add pumpkin, beer, and eggs. Beat on medium speed for two minutes.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 19 to 23 minutes. 

Remove cupcakes to a wire rack and while warm, poke holes in the tops with toothpicks and brush with reserved beer. Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Source: adapted from Living Eventfully

6 teaspoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, cut into 16 pieces (room temperature)
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce

In a large heatproof bowl (or stand mixer bowl) combine meringue powder, water, and sugar. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to stand mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, whip mixture on high until it holds stiff peaks (about 6 - 7 minutes). Continue beating and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Add salted caramel sauce. Continue beating until buttercream is thick, smooth, and glossy (about 3 - 5 minutes).*

*If mixture starts to look curdled, keep beating.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Turkey, Chorizo, Black Bean, and Sweet Potato Chili

I love chili. It's the perfect dinner on a football Sunday. It's perfect for a cool fall day. I also love trying different types of chili recipes. When my husband suggested this chili recipe, I wasn't sure about it at first. It called for sweet potatoes, black beans, poblano peppers, and Mexican chorizo. While chorizo is delicious, it's also not one of the healthiest ingredients. It can be very greasy and tough on the tummy. I suggested we use half ground turkey and half chorizo, and omit the jalapeno peppers. We were pleasantly surprised at how tasty this chili was. It was one of the most flavorful chili recipes that I have ever tasted. It was spicy, rich, and satisfying—perfect for a cool fall day. 

Turkey, Chorizo, Black Bean, and Sweet Potato Chili
Source: adapted from Taste of Home, August/September 2012

1/2 pound Mexican chorizo (casings removed)
1 pound ground turkey
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 poblano peppers (seeded and chopped)
1 bell pepper (any color, seeded and chopped)
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped)
2 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Brown chorizo in a large skillet and add to a crock pot. Brown turkey in chorizo drippings and add to crock pot. Add to crock pot and stir in tomato paste. Add peppers, tomatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, stock, and spices. Mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Microwave Salted Caramel Sauce

Making my own caramel intimidates me. I've heard it takes a few times to get it right, and I'm one of those people who like to conquer recipes on the first try. When I came across this caramel sauce recipe that you make in the microwave, I was intrigued. So I set out to conquer the caramel! The first try was a fail, but at least I knew what I did wrong, so I was able to correct it for my second try. The second pass was successful. The result was buttery, sticky, and salty—everything a good caramel sauce should be. You can use this in a variety of recipes or just eat it straight from a spoon. I used it to make special cupcakes for my five-year wedding anniversary.

Microwave Salted Caramel Sauce
Source: Cook's Illustrated via Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice (or vinegar)
1/2 cup heavy cream (heated)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice together in a 4-cup glass measuring cup or medium glass bowl. Microwave until the sugar mixture turns an off-whitish/yellowish color for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave.

Set mixture on the counter for about 5 minutes. Your sugar mixture will darken as it sits. Meanwhile, heat the cream in a small saucepan until hot.

When sugar mixture is a nice amber color, add the cream slowly a few tablespoons at a time. It will bubble up, so be careful. Stir in the butter and salt until combined. Once cooled, store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a month.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blue Moon Cupcakes with Orange-Scented Cream Cheese Icing

I'm a huge fan of beer. Blue Moon is one of my favorites, but lately we've been branching out from our old standbys and trying some new craft beers. I've become a huge fan of seasonal beers such as pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest brews. But when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I didn't care that it was a summer flavor. I knew I had to make it right away. If you don't like beer, you won't like these cupcakes. The beer flavor really comes through and it's enhanced by the orange zest added to the batter and the icing.

Blue Moon Cupcakes
Source: Sweet Tooth via Pinterest

1 and 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature)
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup Blue Moon beer plus more for brushing tops
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cupcake tin with 24 cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bow, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy on high speed.

Add eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and beat until combined.

Combine milk and beer. Turn mixer to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter/sugar in three additions, ending with flour.

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Remove cupcakes to a wire rack and while warm, poke holes in the tops with toothpicks and brush with reserved beer.

Orange-Scented Cream Cheese Icing
1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
1 block cream cheese (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (or more)
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar
1 - 2 tablespoons water

Cream together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and orange zest. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating well and adding water one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze

These were one of the easiest and most delicious muffins I have ever baked. Take a cake mix, add a can of pumpkin, and some spice, and voila! Seriously, you need to make these. For those of you who are cake mix snobs, put your feelings aside and make these muffins. They were the most moist and flavorful pumpkin muffins I have ever tasted. One word of caution, the tops do turn out a little ugly. They don't rise much and the way they look when you plop them in the pan is the way they will look when they're finished. Nothing a little icing can't hide. I drizzled the tops with a cinnamon glaze. 

Pumpkin Muffins
Source: Mama B via Pinterest
(yields 18 cupcake-sized muffins)

1 box of spice cake mix (any flavor will work)
1 can pure pumpkin (not pie filing)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 325 or 350 degrees, according to box directions, and line a cupcake tin with 18 paper cupcake liners. Mist liners lightly with nonstick spray.

Whisk together cake mix and spices. Add pumpkin and water gradually while mixing on medium speed until combined. Batter will be thick.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and top with cinnamon glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons any liquid, such as water or milk

Whisk together powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Whisk in liquid one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached, adding more liquid or powdered sugar as needed. Pour over the tops of muffins.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beer Bread

I am addicted to Pinterest. I can waste hours pinning recipes and things for the home. It's my way to unwind after a stressful day at work. And it's a way for me to find new recipes to try. I found this simple recipe for beer bread on Pinterest, and it just so happens that this month's theme for my What's Baking group is quick breads. So I had an excuse to make it. And it came out wonderful! I used Stegmaier Oktoberfest beer from our local Lion Brewery (we're blessed to have a handful of local breweries), which added a nice hint of spice to the bread.

Beer Bread
source: Short Stop Blog via Pinterest

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (I used Stegmaier Oktoberfest.)
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Melt butter in microwave and set aside. 

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

Add beer and mix until combined. (Dough will be sticky.)

Place dough into loaf pan, and pour melted butter on top of loaf.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tamale Pie

We love Mexican food. When we love something, it becomes an obsession until we're so sick of it that we can no longer look at it, let alone eat it. However, this never seems to happen with Mexican food. Even though most Mexican dishes share the same few ingredients, just purposed in a different way. This is the case with this tamale pie recipe. It uses Mexican spices, chicken, chiles, and cornmeal just like a tamale, but the ingredients are layered into a delicious pie. This dish is a warm and comforting meal, perfect for a cool autumn day.

Tamale Pie 

Source: Adapted from Prevention RD
Yields two 8- or 10-inch pies

For cornmeal layer:
1 (8.5 oz) box corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy.)
1 can cream-style corn
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar.)

For filling:
2 cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
3/4 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 (10 oz) cans red enchilada sauce
3/4 cup shredded cheese
*shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, tortilla chips for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray two pie plates with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine corn muffin mix, creamed corn, milk, egg, green chiles, and cheese. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined and divide mixture into two pie plates. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

While the crust is baking, mix together chicken, black beans, green chiles, and taco seasoning. 

When the crust is done baking, pierce entire surface with a fork. Pour one-third to half of the enchilada sauce on top. Top with chicken mixture, drizzle with remaining enchilada sauce, and sprinkle with cheese. 

Bake again for 12 to 15 minutes. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and tortilla chips before serving (if desired).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Creamsicle Cake

My mom requested a creamsicle cake for her birthday this year. I was never really a fan of orange-cream flavored baked goods, but after tasting this cake, I have since changed my mind. I used a cake mix as the base and added orange gelatin and orange juice in place of the water to pump up the orange flavor. I filled it with whipped topping mixed with orange gelatin mix and iced it with the remaining whipped topping. The result was a light and luscious orange-vanilla cake. It was a perfect cake for the end of the summer.

Creamsicle Cake
source: adapted from Bird on a Cake

1 package white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines french vanilla.)
3/4 of 3 oz. package orange flavored gelatin 
eggs, oil, and water per directions on box (I used orange juice in place of water.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spay.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium speed for two minutes.

Pour batter into prepared cakes pans, and bake according to directions on box.

Cool pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, and then invert pans onto rack and remove cakes. 

Cool completely before frosting.

Icing and Filling

1 container whipped topping (You can also use fresh whipped cream.)
1/4 of 3 oz. package orange flavored gelatin

Fold remaining orange gelatin into whipped topping (or whipped cream) and fill cake. Frost cake with remaining whipped topping (or whipped cream).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tandy Cake Cupcakes—Take Two

Peanut butter and chocolate are a classic flavor combination. And here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Tastykake Kandy Kakes are a popular treat. I decided to update my old tandy cake recipe, using a salted peanut butter filling and chocolate icing. I was really happy with the update, especially with the salted peanut butter filling. It was good enough to be eaten with a spoon on its own.

Tandy Cake Cupcakes—Take Two

First, I baked my go-to recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes.
Then, I filled the cupcakes with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting using the cone method.
Last, I topped them with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting.

Vanilla Cupcakes
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 plus 2 tablespoons milk

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 milk 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. When cooled, fill cupcakes using the cone method, and top with icing.

Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Beat together peanut butter, butter, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zucchini Bread

I love the summer. The hotter, the better, especially if I'm lounging in the pool or hanging out in my backyard with a glass of wine in my hand. This month's What's Baking theme is "Bake Your Happy Place." My happy place is my backyard. It's secluded, has a pool, nice flowers, and a huge maple tree hangs overhead for shade. Don't forget the swing and adirondack chairs. The only thing it's lacking is a big beautiful garden. I love vegetables from the garden, but unfortunately I don't have a green thumb. Lucky for me, my cousin does. She has a gorgeous garden in her backyard, and she dropped off a few large zucchinis for us. My Backyard = My Happy Place and since zucchini comes from the backyard, I decided to go with it. I made two loaves of traditional zucchini bread and was thrilled with the results. You can mix it up by adding white chocolate chips, pecans, craisins, or pineapple; the choices are endless This is the perfect treat to enjoy in my happy place, my backyard.

Zucchini Bread
source: adapted from Simply Recipes

2 eggs (beaten)
1 and 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cup melted butter (cooled)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray two loaf pans with nonstick baking spray.
Mix together eggs, sugar, vanilla, zucchini, and melted butter. 
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and mix until combined with a wooden spoon.
Fold in the walnuts and raisins if using.
Divide the batter equally between two loaf pans.
Bake for 1 hour (mine was done at 45 minutes, so check around the 40-minute mark). 
Cool bread in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.