Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quinoa Italian Stuffed Peppers

 It seems so obvious that quinoa and Italian go together, right?  Seriously, I don't much care because I really loved this meal.  I loved the flavors and I loved that it was so nutritious.  I mean, with all the baking I do, I have to try to make my meals a little more healthful.  For those who don't know what quinoa is, it is an ancient grain that is high in protein and essential amino acids like lysine and also has calcium, phosphorus, and iron.  It can be used instead of rice in many dishes.  It is also gluten free.

 I have to brag a bit, because it make me so proud that every one of my kids ate this, including the pepper, without complaining and even said "MMM!  I like peppers."  It's like every mom's dream.  Well, maybe not every mom, but those mom's that make their kids eat fruit, yogurt, cheese for snacks...but I was honestly surprised that they ate the peppers, and actually liked them.
I would definitely make these again and not change a thing. 


  • 5 red, orange or yellow peppers
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock (or veggie)
  • 1/2-1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, quartered and diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 TBSP chopped fresh basil
  • 2-3 TBSP white wine
  • jarred sauce
  • 1 cup mozzerella or Italian cheese

Cook quinoa in chicken stock or broth.  (Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes, until light and fluffy, and/or the liquid is absorbed).  Meanwhile, place oil, chopped onion and carrot in a skillet (I used nonstick) and cook over medium high heat until tender, reducing heat if needed.  Add garlic for last 2-3 minutes of cooking.  Remove from heat.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash peppers and careful cut the stem out.   Line cookie sheet with tinfoil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut pepper in half and place on cookie sheet. 
Drizzle wine over cooked quinoa.  Dump in cooked veggies and spinach, beans, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and basil.  Mix to combine.  Taste for seasoning. 
Stuff peppers with filling.  Place a large spoonful of jarred sauce over the quinoa stuffing.  Place a few TBSP of cheese over each.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-40 minutes, depending on how tender you want your pepper.  Note:  I only did 4 peppers and put the filling in a baking dish, topped with cheese which was delicious on it's own.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

I do think the title of this entry kinda speaks for itself.  These are incredible... but also incredibly rich.  Like eating a homemade Reese's cup.  I would like to be trapped in a box made of these and be forced to eat my way out.  Then I could justify eating obscene amounts.  As it is, I am eating obscene amounts with no justification.  I can almost feel my thighs growing.  And I don't care...  because these taste better than skinny feels.  I know.  I'm sick.

Adapted from: RealMomKitchen


Brownie Base
1 box (1 lb 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 teaspoons milk

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter 
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray or shortening. (For easier cutting, line pan with foil, then grease foil on bottom only of pan. I do this all the time when I make brownies and bars)
Make brownies.  Spread in pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add enough milk so you will be able to pat or spread easily over brownie base.  Spread mixture evenly over brownie base.
In small microwavable bowl, microwave topping ingredients uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. For brownies, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator. (I take it out or the fridge about 15 minutes before serving. This allows the chocolate on top to soften a little)

NOTE:  I left about a row of plain brownies because I wanted a nice thick layer of peanut butter.    

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

Yet another pinterest recipe.  These are from King Arthur Flour and they have not steered me wrong yet.  I mean look at these.  And read the recipe.  Seriously, streusel, cinnamon chips, butter, cinnamon-- how could these not be amazing!?  They are, I assure you. 
But, time to fess up.  I knew looking at these ingredients, and as I filled my 12 count muffin tin, that these were going to overflow.  But I did not listen to my instincts, and instead was too trusting and believed that these made 12 muffins as the recipe stated.  I was WRONG, people!  My muffins overflowed and some stuck in the pan, resulting in them losing their beautiful tops.  It was so sad.  But before you start getting into fits of hysterics over it, please know that not one single one of these little beauties went to waste.  We picked up the broken pieces and rebuilt!  Well, maybe not, but we devoured, which has to count for something.

Anyway, you can see the pillage and feel better about yourself at least.  And then make these and not make my mistake, and then feel even better about yourself.  Oh, and then you will eat one of these and that will make you feel even better.  So, for the sake of your self-esteem, make these.

slightly adapted from: kingarthurflour

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 tablespoons soft butter

  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 2-3 TBSP water

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips or butterscotch chips

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line muffin pan(s) with cupcake papers, or grease lightly.  Prepare the topping by mixing the ingredients together until crumbly. Set aside.  
Prepare the filling by mixing the ingredients enough water to make filling with a soft, pudding-like consistency. Set it aside.

To make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, vanilla, and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the chips. Add the dry mixture to the liquid, stirring just until combined.

Divide half the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Dollop 2 teaspoons cinnamon filling onto each muffin, then top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with topping, pressing it in lightly.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 minutes before transferring them from the pan to a rack to cool.  

FOR THE GLAZE:  Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with tsp milk. Mix and add more sugar or milk until it ribbons, but still thick.  Drizzle over muffins after they are just warm or cool.   
Yield: 13-15 muffins.  OR 12 muffins and 6-12 mini muffins

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake


 My husband was going to a men's breakfast at church on Sat..  So, I did what any insane wife would do.  I got up at 6:30 on a Saturday, my day off. . . and made something for him to take.  Not just any ordinary something, but an incredibly scrumptious breakfast cake.  Lucky for me, there was a bit left for me to try.  With 10 men, 56 scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, biscuits, sausage, thick slab bacon, pancakes, muffins and fruit-- there was 3 pieces left out of the 16 pieces I sent with him.  Yeah, it's good.

I was afraid it was going to be dry, because the batter was so thick and it didn't look all that moist.  But it was perfect.  You can call this a breakfast cake, a coffee cake, a dessert, but no matter what you want to call it, it remains mmm, mmm, good! 



recipe from:

Serves 6-8
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  •  2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
  •  1 cup sugar
  •  1 egg, room temperature
  •  1 tsp. vanilla
  •  2 cups flour
  •  2 tsp. baking powder
  •  1 tsp. kosher salt
  •  2 cups fresh blueberries
  •  1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • scant 1/4 cup flour

 Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9" square pan or spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Cream butter with lemon zest and cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with a 1/4 cup of flour, then in another small bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.  Batter will be thick.  Spread batter into pan. Mix streusel topping ingredients, until small like peas.  Sprinkle streusel over batter.  Put in oven on middle rack and bake for 32-40 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

TWD: Baking With Julia- Chocolate Truffle Tartlets


Onto our second TWD!!  I looked at these tartlets and was dreading the process a bit.  The mixing and chilling and  the rolling, molding and chilling--  I am a get it done kinda gal.  I like to make things and eat them immediately.  Tarts require a bit more patience.  This one was no different.
I found the tart dough a bit challenging, even with an extra TBSP of water, it was crumbly and came apart a lot while I was rolling it.  Eventually I got into a groove and got them all in the pans.  But I knew I would love the filling.  I knew I would want to lick the yummy chocolate, egg yolks mixture in its raw form.  But to my dismay, I refrained.

Was all the waiting worth it?  Yes.  These tarts are full of so much chocolate flavor, they would satisfy even the worst PMS chocolate emergency.  I have frozen a few, just in case.
I used Almondina cookies for the biscotti, as they are biscotti like.  And I used dove chocolate for the milk chocolate bits.  Both delivered.  The little chewy bits in the Almondina added a nice and different texture, and dove chocolate-- it's one of my faves.
bits of white and milk chocolate!

I had 6-four inch tartlett pans, and the bottom was not removable, so I just put the on a baking sheet in case of spillage and for ease of oven removal.  But I have enough dough and filling left to do a full shallow tart, even with 6 tartlets!  Hence, the opportunity  to freeze some and also to share with neighbors!
Having this with ice cream is a must.  My husband and I both liked them better the day of, but they are still outstanding the next day out of fridge.
Thanks to Steph, Spike, Jaime, and Jessica for hosting.  You can go over to their blogs for the recipe or check out Baking with Julia pgs. 382-382.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mediterranean Crockpot Chicken Pasta

 My weekdays are crazy!  I am like a taxi service for my kids activities.  But really it is my fault.  Maybe overcompensating for homeschooling.  Wednesday and Thursdays are particularly difficult because we have church in the evening and worship practice.
 This meal was the brainchild of my insomnia.  That is when I get my most inspirational ideas.  I lay somewhere in between consciousness and unconsciousness and think of food.  Yes, I am a bit sick.  But I am thankful for the sickness, because yummy food comes out of it.  This meal was super easy-- went together in like 20 minutes total.  I love the crock, because while I am out playing taxi, it does the work.  You could always throw this in the oven for 35 minutes as an alternative.  One note: be careful not to overcook the chicken.  My crock is way hot and it got a little tough.  Part of me thinks it was the chicken... an old tough bird.  Either way, I just sopped the juices up with the chicken and it was still great. Mangi!!


  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken
  • 1/2 cup olive bruschetta (I like Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 cup quartered artichokes, drained
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 lb. cooked pasta
  • 3/4cup-1 cup feta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese

Place chicken in crock pot.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and then Italian seasoning.  Add in olive bruschetta, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and wine.   Cook on low for 6 hours or 3-4 on high.  Cut chicken into chunks.  Push chicken to the side and add in 2 TBSP flour to thicken sauce a bit.  Stir.  Add in parsley.  Add cooked pasta to crock pot and stir.  Add feta and stir.  Put in bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese liberally.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Blackberry Filling and Blackberry Buttercream

 I am the messiest cook in the world.  After making these cupcakes my kitchen looked like a war zone.  I had a bit of a challenge filling some because I didn't mash all the berries quite enough and the filling got stuck in the piping bag.  That is what I get starting cupcakes at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when I have to be out of the house by 4.  OOPS!   While icing them, I think I had more icing on my hands than in the piping bag.  Seriously, it was scary.

The original recipe calls for cake flour, which I am out of and frankly, I hate using.  It is ubber processed and I feel terrible using it... so instead, I used what was in my crock- a mix of wheat, oat and unbleached.  You can't tell.  The cupcake is still tender and wonderful!

These little beauties are just as tasty as they look. You can taste the blackberry in the icing, and the little surprise of blackberry in the middle of the cupcake= yum!  I have leftover filling which I am planning on slathering on pancakes or waffles on Saturday.  And a bit of icing was left as well, which I think I should eat by the spoonfuls between now and Saturday.  Yeah, I got big plans. 


recipe from:

Yield: 20-22 cupcakes 

Do you see those luscious little vanilla beans in the cupcake?
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  •  4 large egg whites, room temperature
  •  1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  •  1 1/2 cups sugar
  •  seeds scraped from a 5"-7" vanilla bean
  •  2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 


Preheat oven to 350.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat egg whites for about 2 minutes on high speed until they form soft peaks. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the butter and sugar are very light. Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add the rest of the milk, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then add the last of the dry ingredients.  Beat for a minute.
Fold in the egg whites.  Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 20-22 muffin wells, filling each paper liner about 2/3 full.   Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack. 

adapted from Baked Perfection

  • about 20 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 4-6 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  •  4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt

Place blackberries in a small bowl and sprinkle with sugar, let thaw. Mash blackberries and squish the blackberries in a fine mesh sieve to get juices out.  You should get about 3/4-1 cup. In a large saucepan, combine the blackberry liquid, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt. Heat and stir until the mixture boils and thickens, add in the berries and makes sure it remains thick. Cool completely.  Chill until ready to use. (This can be made several days in advance and any leftovers works well on toast, on pancakes, or mixed in plain Greek Yogurt.)  Use piping bag to put into cupcakes.  Place tip deep in center of cupcake, holding the piping bag with one hand and the cupcake with the other.  As you fill it you will feel the cupcake swell and vibrate.  Fill each cupcake.


 from Baked Perfection

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup blackberry filling (seedless blackberry jam or preserves can be substituted)
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 1/2- 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Beat butter and vanilla until creamy. Mix in blackberry filling and salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Smokey Beer Cheddar Chicken Tacos

My cousin sent me this recipe a few weeks ago.  It took a bit to get on the menu, but it was definitely going on the menu.  Her and I share a love for food.  But, let's go one step further, and say we share a love for good food.  So, I trust her when she recommends a recipe.  I would actually love to have her on here blogging too, because she is a great cook and she is freakin' hilarious!  Maybe someday I can convince her. 

Anyway. . .  cheddar, beer, tacos.  Do I really need to say anything more?  Of course I do, because I love to talk, or write.  Anyway x2-  I am not a beer fan.  Actually, I hate the taste of alcohol.  I had my first sip with my husband when we lived in Germany.  I figured if I don't like German beer, I won't like any beer.  I have taken many sips of wine and beer, and I can't help but wrinkle my nose.  And liquor, or mixed drink, forget it!  I can tell and virgin mixed drink from a normal in a second.  I cringe at the taste of the alcohol.  Sometimes, with four kids, I kinda wished I liked it.  But I don't.  BUT, I love to cook with it!  Cognac, champagne, wine, vodka, beer...  I like it all.  But in food.  
These tacos are very tasty, loved the smokey note from the gouda and smoked paprika.  This made a ton of chicken.  I made enchiladas with the leftovers which were also amazing.  If you got beer, cheese and chicken, you got this.  Simple and good.

slightly adapted from
serves 4+
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup good dark beer
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • lime
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese + more for topping
  • 3/4 cup smoked gouda, grated
  • taco shells
Taco toppings: greek yogurt, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, salsa, chopped onion, black beans, shredded lettuce, etc.


Put the chicken in the crock pot.  In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Dump over the chicken and dump the beer in.  Mix it around to coat the chicken.
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
When chicken is done, shred it up, either in the crock, or I take mine to a cutting board then through it back in the liquid.  All those yummy juices will redistribute back into the chicken. Taste and season (mine needed a bit more salt), then let sit in the crockpot for another 15 minutes or so. Turn off the crock and toss in the about 1/2 of each of the cheeses.  Squeeze the juice of a lime over the chicken.  Stir it in the chicken and transfer to serving bowl and make your tacos.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Early in my marriage, I made a carrot cake that was the best carrot cake I had ever had.  I got it from one of my cookbooks, but unfortunately for me, I have a million of them and don't know which cookbook it was from.  Wishing I had a brilliant mind, or at least brilliant memory at times like this.  
So, rather than driving myself into the cuckoo's nest by looking through my cookbooks, I went to the trusty internet.  After looking, I settled on this cake.  Made a few changes per people's comments and went to work.  I got it whipped up and put it into my 8" pans and into the oven it went.  That's when it happened.  Disaster struck.  Overflowing abundance of cake, spilling, burning, smoke alarms, and a very stinky house later, my cakes came out of the oven.   They remained unscathed, but I can not say the same thing for my oven or house.   Stinking cake!  
So do not attempt 8 inch cake pans, please.  Unless of course, you want to be as successful as I am to stink up your house before guests come over.  Then, by all means, use an 8 inch pan.
This cake was very moist and dense, but very tasty.   I will not say it is the perfect carrot cake, but it was surely very good.  The icing was delicious.  This was the cake rising from the ashes, and against all odds (or my mad baking skills, emphasis on "mad"), it was delish and gone in 2 days.

inspired by:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1- 4 oz. cup drained applesauce
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  •  3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or two 9 inch cake pans.  In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugars and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix into sugar mixture.  Stir in carrots and then the pecans or raisins. Pour into prepared pan(s).  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. 



  • 1- 8oz. pkg light cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 stick butter- room temp
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp milk

Beat the butter and cream cheese for 2-3 minutes.  Add half the sugar, the vanilla and mix, slowly, increasing speed as you mix.  Add remaining sugar and milk and beat until creamy, making sure to scrape the bowl to make sure it is all mixed well.  Add more sugar if needed to stiffen up.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Cups


Stop.  Okay, read this, then stop, and go make these.  I think I have eaten these for at least three meals.  They melt in you mouth and are just so good.  They remind me a little of peanut butter blossoms/ aka hershey kiss cookies, but are better.  The nutella is soft and just melts in you mouth.  The best part of being the head baker is I got to lick the spoon when I was done. 

I saw these on pinterest and was sold.  Had to make them ASAP!  Even my husband, who is not a huge fan of the peanut butter/dessert combo, is hoarding these. 

I will definitely be making these again.  Maybe a whole batch, for me alone to hoard.


recipe from:

yield: 30+


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used smooth, but chunky would be fine)
  • Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw), optional
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • Chopped peanuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.   Working with paddle attachment in electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the peanut butter and beat on low until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat until flour disappears, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in turbinado sugar (or granulated in a pinch).  Place each ball in a cup of a greased mini muffin tin. Bake 10 to 12 minutes,the centers may not be completely set. Remove the cookies from the oven and using the end of a thick-handled wooden spoon make a small, deep well in the center of each cookie and fill with Nutella.  Be generous.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of Nutella. Carefully transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely. 
Tip: Don’t worry about smoothing the Nutella at first. After you’ve put Nutella in each cookie go back and spread it. It will have melted a bit and be much easier to spread.

Oatmeal Cake with Brown Sugar Oatmeal Icing

When I was young, I had high cholesterol, so I went on a bran and oatmeal diet.  I still can't bring myself to cook with bran.  Oatmeal has always had its place though, in desserts.  Then recently, after a day feasting on pizza, grilled cheese and waffles (not in that order necessarily) I had blood work and my cholesterol was slightly elevated again.
I am hoping that ingesting copious amount of this cake will lower it, because I ate several slices.  Oatmeal for breakfast?  Certainly.  And for dessert too!  Somehow, it makes desserts healthy, I am sure.
This cake has been in my family for a long time and I am not sure where my mom got the recipe, but it has always been a family favorite. Super moist and dense and go ahead and mash your face in it.
It is like an oatmeal cookie in cake form.  Except it has a delicious brown sugar warm icing that is like candy over the top.  You could use the any leftover icing as a mask and attempt to lick it off your face.  I am sure my kids would just love to watch that trick.  Of course, I am not serious...  because the icing will barely make it on the cake, and the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan will surely be devoured, before it can make it to your face as a mask. 



Don't you just love how the pan is crooked in the picture?  I have mad skills, I know.
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening (or butter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins (Opt.)

Preheat oven to 350.   Pour boiling water over oats and let cool. In a med. sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt baking soda and cinnamon.  Cream together the sugars and shortening.  Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until incorporated.  Add the oats and blend.  Add the flour mixture and mix until flour disappears.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Cook at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
 Can add chocolate chips to cake for variation.


  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 4 TBSP evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
In a saucepan, melt butter and evaporated milk.  Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute.  Add coconut, oatmeal and pecans.  Mix and carefully pour over and spread on the cooled cake.
As a variation you can broil the cake to caramelize the top.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream

With strawberries being so inexpensive right now, I have been buying them every time I go to the store.  Sometimes, my kids will eat them for a snack, sometimes I will eat a whole container by myself,  and sometimes they rot in the fridge because I am saving them for something.  You know you've done it.  Let fruit rot in the fridge because you are saving it for something.  No one knows what that something is, but we all do it. 
No more rotting berries! Seize the day!  Take out the berries and dip them in chocolate, or eat the whole container over the sink.  Or best yet, make cupcakes!!

These cupcakes are delish. I love the soft pink of the icing and the bits of strawberry in them.  The cupcakes were moist with bits of berry in them as well.  For some insane reason, the cupcake itself tasted like banana to me, and upon bringing them to church to share, someone asked me if they were banana.  But they didn't smell like banana, and my husband and kids thought I was nuts for mentioning a banana flavor.  Very strange, but no matter which way you bite it, they tasted fabulous. 

adapted from
yield: 24 cupcakes plus a small cake

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups strawberry puree
  • 3 cups cake flour (I used 1 1/2 cups regular)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • heavy pinch salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350.    Line cupcake tins with liners, or grease/flour pans. Beat butter and sugar for 3 minutes.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating in between.  Add vanilla and strawberry puree and beat another few minutes (you can add 1 tsp. red food coloring here if you want).  Whisk together dry ingredients and add in 3 increments, alternatively with buttermilk to the butter mixture, mixing well in between each addition.  In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into batter.  Fill cupcakes to 3/4 full.  Bake cupcakes for 22-24 minutes (until toothpick comes clean) and cake for 30-34 minutes. 
Cool  completely before frosting.


  • 2 stick softened butter
  • 3 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 4 TBSP strawberry puree
  • 1/2-1 TBSP milk or cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 5-6 cups confectioners sugar (more if needed)
Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add 1/2 the sugar and 1/2 the strawberry puree and extracts.  Beat well.  Add remaining sugar, puree, and milk and beat until fluffy, adding more sugar if too soft, and puree or milk by the tsp if too stiff. Frost and eat!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TWD: BWJ- White Loaves

So, there are a bazillion food bloggers out there.  Seriously, I think anyone who likes to cook and bake has a blog.  But I think that is fantastic!  I absolutely love to look at others creations and learn from others.

Of course, there are the masters. . .  All the chefs on Food Network, and PBS broadcasting too!  And then there is Julia Child and Dorie Greenspan.  Julia Child was known for her unique and entertaining personality, certainly, but more for her incredible gift for making exquisite food and the way she savored eating it! 
My friend Cristine, who really inspired me to start my blog was part of a cooking/baking group called Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD), where each week they made a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, "Baking: from my home to yours."  An extraordinary cookbook.  They wrapped not too long ago and have started a new one which they opened back up to the public to join.  I jumped at the chance!  Any excuse to bake!  The book is "Baking With Julia": by Dorie Greenspan.  (BWJ)  So, the first recipe:  White Loaves.

Delicious tall loaves, as she says, great for making sandwiches.  These loaves were pretty easy for the most part.  I do not consider myself a bread maker, so if mine comes out okay, most people would be safe to try a recipe.  I found my kitchen aid could not handle the kneading though, and they hand to be hand kneaded.  But I am always up for the workout.  After kneading, I put it back in the mixer to add in butter.   It looked scary, got all gnarly and started coming apart, but after a few minutes, came back together.  It rose beautifully and baked up like a vision.  I rolled one of the loaves into a rectangle and slathered it with softened butter.  Slather, slather, slather.  Love that word.  Then I sprinkled it heavily with sugar and cinnamon and then rolled it up, sealing the bottom.  Plopped it in the pan for another rising session.  Next time, I will add some raisins too!

  I also rubbed a stick of butter over the tops when I took the out of the oven. This bread has a nice hearty crumb, but it is incredibly soft too.  It is fabulous for toast or sandwiches. 
Thank you to Laurie and Jules for hosting.  The recipe can be found on Jules blog:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Creamy Tuscan White Bean Pasta

Anything with the word Tuscan just sounds more fancy, doesn't it?  And you put it with food and it just ups the ante.  And "creamy" too.  I mean, anything sounds good when you put "creamy" before it.  "Creamy Tuscan" just oozes deliciousness from every syllable.   

My cousin Michelle sent me the link for this pasta dish.  She added the fire roasted tomatoes, which was a great addition.  So, I made it and it was so good!   And the smells while it was cooking were amazing!  My husband told me he knew it was going to be good just from the smell while it was cooking.

This dish is packed with veggies, so I am sure that cancels any calories you are ingesting for dinner, and that means dessert calories don't count either.   Yeah, I am sure there is some science behind it all. 

The beans hid out inside the hollows of the pasta, and added another element of creaminess to the dish.  My kids were picking them out and eating them, calling them cheese curls.   Not quite sure why.  My 2 year old was even snagging the beans from his brother's plate causing a fight to break out over dinner.  Yeah, that good.

adapted from: howsweeteats


  • 1 lb. cooked pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped turkey bacon or pancetta
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 cups fresh spinach, torn
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 drained can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/4-1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoon flour
  • 1 can (15 oz) 2% evaporated milk
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup asiago cheese
  • 1/4 cup good Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste


Put some salted water on for the pasta to cook in.  In a large nonstick skillet, over med-high heat, place 1 TBSP olive oil.  Add the bacon (pancetta) and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Scrape the onion mixture to the side of the pan, and add the butter and flour to the pan, stirring to make a roux.  Cook for a minute or two and add milk and evaporated milk.  Stir to make smooth and stir in onion mixture to the milk.  Cook, stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes, until begins to thicken. This will infuse the cream sauce with the onion and garlic flavor.  Add the cheeses and stir to mix.  Add in peppers, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, beans and spinach, and gently stir to mix. Reduce heat to low and stir every few minutes while you cook the pasta.   Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Drain pasta, reserving pasta water to thin sauce if needed.  Pour pasta into cream sauce and veggies.  Add the basil and stir to coat pasta well.  Top with more Parmesan.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

This is a lot like spaghetti and meatballs, but lighter.  The flavors are absolutely delicious.  I must admit, I looked at the lengthy ingredients list and was intimidated.  Or maybe it was a sense of dread I felt.  Not entirely sure, but either way, I was not really looking forward to making this dish.  But it was surprisingly easy.  I had to stand at the stove for 20-30 minutes in the beginning, and then just mix every once and awhile.  It makes the house smell amazing, like and Italian eatery.  I love the feelings that that evokes in me.  I like to pretend, because my mom is 100% Italian/Sicilian, that I am too.  I mean, isn't every blond haired, blue eyed girl, pasty white girl, an obvious Italian?  I think the Polish blond must run a little stronger through my veins. Ask my brothers.

Back to food.  So, make this.  Let me tell you why.  First, your kids will devour it, and because there are veggies hiding in that red sauce, you get some wonderful veggies in them.  You get as an added benefit to shove them in your face as well.  Second, it is really easy, even though it looks all complex and crazy.  Third, because I really enjoy bossing people around.  Ask my brothers. 


adapted from:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 slices bacon or pancetta, diced (I used turkey bacon)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 2 stalks diced celery
  • 4-6 large cloves garlic minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 links chicken or turkey sausage, squeezed from casings
  • 1/2 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes and their juice
  • 1- 14 1/2-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 1/2 TBSP butter
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


In a large pot or skillet, drizzle the olive oil and heat to med-high. Toss in the bacon and cook, stirring, for about 4 to 5 minutes, until browned. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook another 4-5 min., stirring, until they begin to soften. Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the ground meats, and cook, breaking up meat, until no longer pink, another 5 minutes or so. Spoon in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine, take a sip, and stir and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to get browned bits up, until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, broth, and sugar and bring to a nice simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the cream, butter, and parsley, stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves and taste and season accordingly. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to directions, until al dente (meaning still a little bite, no mushy pasta please!) Drain it.
Serve pasta topped with sauce and lots of Parmesan cheese for each person.  Make sure to have bread for dunking. 

Rocky Road Cake

This is one of those throw together cakes.  It took about 5 minutes to get it made.  The frosting takes longer than the cake to make.  My kids all licked off the icing, then devoured the cake.   I brought this to a church potluck and I was very tempted to eat just cake for lunch, but I thought it might look funny if I sat down with 3 pieces of cake and no other food.
This cake is incredibly moist and lick your plate good.  And I love this icing.  It is so light and has the texture or whipped cream almost.  There was a version of this frosting that my grandmother made and it needed to be cooked.  It was great. . .  except there would be tiny lumps of flour in it, that kinda made me gag.  This custard frosting is silky smooth and all can be done in the kitchen aid; no cooking required!
This recipe came from someone in my family, but is probably all over the internet.  You could top it with a fudge icing and marshmallows and nuts mashed into the icing... or top yourself with that.  But personally, I love it with the custard icing! A great cake!


The shiny spots are where the marshmallows melted: little pockets of sweetness.
  • 1 box devil's food cake mix
  • 1- 3 oz. pkg. chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2-3/4 cup choc. chips (I did 3/4)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a bundt pan, or use baking spray.  Blend the cake mix, mayo, pudding, eggs and water until mixed through.  Add the nuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows and gently stir in until incorporated.  Bake @ 350 for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 

NOTE: The marshmallows do melt into the cake, and create little pockets of sweetness.


Here is the link for the icing:
custard frosting