Monday, July 30, 2012

Watermelon Cupcakes ~ Yellow & Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Every year our friends have a fun summer party & we go every year. This year, their theme was "watermelon". I was so excited when she ok'd me to bring dessert & cupcakes. I had these in mind. But, life has a way of changing plans & we were unable to make the party. I am so sad for many reasons but will leave it at that. To perk up this post, LOOK at the cupcake picture above... Aren't they cute?!

We were there in spirit! 
<3 Lishie

Yellow & Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
  • 2 1/3 c + 1 TBSp flour, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 c milk
  • 1 c semi-sweet MINI chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cups in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder & salt; set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl occasionally. Beat 2 minutes longer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, alternately add flour mixture, about one-third at a time,&  milk, about half at a time, beating just until blended. Fold in 1 c mini chips combined with 1 TBSp flour.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each with about 3 tablespoons batter or until about 2/3 full.
Frost with desired frosting.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans; place on cooling racks. 
Cool completely, about 30 minutes. 
Makes 24 cupcakes 

Desired Frosting ;):

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 4 c powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla  
  • green food coloring
  • pink food coloring 
  • red decorating sugar
  • 1 c semi-sweet MINI chocolate chips
Combine the first 4 ingredients until smooth.
Take 1 c of the frosting & mix in green coloring.
Mix pink coloring in the leftover frosting.
Carefully frost only the middle of each cooled cupcake with pink, leaving the edging bare. Using a pastry bag, pipe the green around the edges to create the "rind". Sprinkle red sugar carefully onto the pink coloring in middle. Dot with the mini chips to create "pits".

Balloon Mini-Cupcakes

Gabriel & I were invited to our church's Vacation Bible School recital so I wanted to bring along something special. The theme was Up in the air, fly... so I made these cute balloon minis to bring. They are very easy but so cute & fit the VBS theme very well!

<3 Lishie

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes 

from Gourmet January 2004

  • 1 c a-p flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 TBSp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg

  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with liners. 

    Whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt in a bowl. Stir together milk & vanilla in a small bowl. 

    Beat together butter & sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4mins . Add egg & beat until just combined. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and milk mixtures alternately in batches, beginning & ending with flour & mixing until just combined. 

    Divide batter among muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full, & bake until tops are pale golden & a wooden pick or skewer inserted in centers comes out clean, about 15 mins. Invert cupcakes onto a rack & cool completely. 

    For each color, transfer 1/4 c frosting (see below) to a separate small bowl and tint with food coloring, then frost tops of cupcakes. Use curly ribbon to create the "balloon affect". I also used a little edible blue glitter on the blue ones to make it a little more special. The recipe says it yields 24 mini cupcakes, but I actually got 30+ out of it!

    Vanilla Frosting
    • 1/2 c butter, softened
    • 4 c powdered sugar
    • 1/3 c milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    Combine all ingredients together until smoothe.

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Swap time! Bloggers Choice ~ Lentil Bolognese

    I love these swaps, especially when I find a recipe that I love!!! This week, we have the ever popular "Swapper's Choice" which means our Blog Swap Queen, Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking gives us a URL of a fellow blogger & we can pick ANY recipe we want to make. It is not easy. Well, unless you, as I do, have had a recipe bookmarked to try.

    And bookmarked, I had this gem: Lentil Bolognese. Only thing is, my hubby won't eat lentils or any beans for that matter. When I read Nicole of PreventionRD's post, it struck me as funny because this recipe was one in a week full of non-hubby approved ones. I, too, having the same issue, chose this one to make now for my lunches while off from work a couple of days. I cannot believe I waited so long to make this! It is delicious. The lentils add so much to the sauce. I pretty much stuck to the recipe except I thought I had carrots (well, I had them but used them all in salad not thinking the night before). I love carrots... Next time!

    Check out Nicole/PreventionRD's blog- it is wonderful! The pictures are amazing & I love all of the nutritional information. She is a Nutritionist!

    <3 Lishie

    Lentil Bolognese 
    slightly altered from PreventionRD(through My Bizzy Kitchen)
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1/2 c diced celery
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
    • 2 c low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
    • 1 c dried lentils (any color – mine were brown)
    • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes with juice
    • 2 tsp dried oregano
    • 2 tsp dried parsley
    • 1 tsp dried basil
    • salt & pepper, to taste
    In a large stock pot, heat oil on medium-high. Add celery & garlic. Cook, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add vinegar and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the broth, 1 c water, lentils, tomatoes, oregano, parsley & basil. Reduce heat to medium & simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occassionally. Yield: 6 servings (6 cups).
    For Nutrition Information go here

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Jungle Animal Cuppies

    "Jungle Animal Cuppies"
    Chocolate Chip Brownie Cups w/ Chocolate Frosting
    slightly adapted from Hershey's Kitchens 

    • 1 c butter
    • 2 c sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • eggs
    • 3/4 c HERSHEY'S Cocoa
    • 1-3/4 c a-p flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt 
    • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper bake cups. OK, somehow, MINE yielded 24 cupcakes! Go me! LOL- more to go around ;)
    2. Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 to 1-/2 min.s or until melted. Stir in sugar & vanilla. Add eggs; beat well. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder & salt; beat well. Stir in 1-1/3 c chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups (I used a scoop). 
    3. Bake 25 to 30 min.s or until surface is firm; remove from oven. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. 

    Decorate! I had so much fun with these... I thought, hmmm... how can I make easy, FUN, celebratory cupcakes for 3 year olds?! Well, here you go. Each child gets a cupcake & animal crackers. Cannot beat that. I hope Gabriel & his friends have a great party at school!!!! <3 Mama Lishie
    Frosting is Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting. Sprinkle on green "Jimmies" for the grass, then place 2 animal crackers on. Yep, that easy. But the fun is immense! And yep, my son knows he is cute (exhibit A:)

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    Honey Ham, Gruyère & Dijon Mustard Palmiers
















    So this is a funny post on my anniversary. We've been married 7 years & really, we are low-key, comfortable people. Prefer a night at home then any foodie lure in the world  to a nice restaurant. Prefer time with our 3 year old rather than a babysitter. Prefer relaxing at home... So, also, since my hubby is watching his cholesterol, no sweets to be baked... 

    Why am I posting about Honey Ham, Gruyère & Dijon Mustard Palmiers then? Ha ha... word association. I had seen this wonderful tutorial on ham curing on Thyme for Cooking... And Bayonne Palmiers were the highlight. Since my hubby is from Bayonne (Bayonne, NJ, that is) & where we live, I thought it suited the day. Although I did not cure my own ham & these were not made from Bayonne, France ham... they WERE absolutely delish.

    Happy Anniversary to my hubby <3

    <3 Lishie

    Honey Ham, Gruyère & Dijon Mustard Palmiers 

    • 1 can crescent rolls
    • 2 TBSp Dijon mustard
    • ­1 c shredded Gruyère cheese
    • 1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
    • 4 oz. very thinly sliced deli honey ham 

    Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out the crescent roll dough on a baking sheet. for each crescent triangle, lay one slice of ham across it, spread a little mustard, sprinkle some of the Gruyère & roll up... Place back on the baking sheet & sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Serve with more Dijon mustard to dip. Enjoy!

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Cheesy Wild Rice & Broccoli

    A delicious side to perk up any meal... Nutritious... eat your broccoli! You can also add fresh spinach or asparagus to this dish!
    <3 Lishie

    Cheesy Wild Rice & Broccoli

    • 1-2 TBSp olive oil
    • 1 c wild rice
    • 2 1/4 c chicken broth(or veggie broth)
    • 2 small heads of broccoli florets
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 TBSp butter
    • 1 c shredded sharp cheddar
    • S & P
    Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the rice & stir to coat. Toast the rice, stirring often, just until it starts to turn golden.
    Pour in the chicken broth, bring to a boil, turn heat to low, & cover.  Cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

    Add in the broccoli & garlic, continue cooking for 5 -10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat & stir in the butter, cheese & S & P; Taste. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Pesto Pasta & Spinach

    Another yummy meal from the fresh basil in our yard. The plant, thanks to my pop-in-law, is humongous. This is easy, quick & most importantly, a cool meal that can be served hot, at room temperature or cool/cold in the summer!
    <3 Lishie

    Pesto Pasta & Spinach

    • 1/3 c  pine nuts
    • 2 c  fresh basil leaves
    • 3 cloves garlic, peeled 
    • S & P
    • 1/2 c grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
    • 1/2c  good, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 lb pasta (favorite shape)
    • 14 oz fresh, baby spinach, washed

    Toss the first 5 ingredients into the food processor. Process! As the ingredients combine... drizzle in the olive oil. Sauce is done when it is the consistency you prefer!

    Meanwhile cook the pasta al dente... The last 2 minutes of cooking, add the spinach into the boiling pot with the pasta. Drain all & combine with the pesto & serve. ENJOY!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Pesto-topped Flounder & Green Beans Packets

    This meal was so tasty, quick, easy, refreshing & healthy! I enjoyed it so much. With the bountiful amounts of fresh basil blessing our garden (thanks Pop-in-law), this was a natural choice. If you are looking for a fish dish, try this. If you do not want to turn on the oven, fine, throw the packets off-heat onto the grill!!!!  OMGoodness... Delish.
    <3 Lishie

    Pesto-topped Flounder & Green Beans Packets

    • fresh green beans, cleaned/ends clipped
    • 2 oz fresh flounder, 1/2" thick
    • 2-4 slices lemon + lemon juice
    • 1/4 c basil pesto
    • pinch black pepper
    Place a handful of green beans 12" square of heavy foil, sprayed with a little cooking oil. Lay one fillet onto the green beans.
    Squirt the fillet with lemon juice, spread evenly with the pesto, pinch with pepper & place 1-2 lemon slices on top. Bring together two opposite edges of foil & seal with a double fold. Fold remaining ends to completely enclose food, allowing space for steam to build. Place foil packets on a  baking pan.
    Bake @ 400 degree F about 15 minutes or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork. Open packets carefully to allow steam to escape. Transfer packet contents to plates.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Chocolate Cream Pie

    We were invited to a good friends' house for a bbq this past weekend & the request was dessert; chocolate... Cold & refreshing, no oven prep, this immediately came to mind. And it was a hit!
    <3 Lishie

    Chocolate Cream Pie
    Originally from Gourmet (many moons ago & has evolved.)
    • 2/3 c sugar
    • 1/4 c cornstarch
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 3 c whole milk
    • 6 oz (chopped or chips) bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)
    • 2 TBSp unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 tsp vanilla 
    • 1 chocolate, ready-made crust
    • 1 c chilled heavy whipping cream
    • 1 TBSp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 c bittersweet chocolate mini chips (I use Ghirardelli)
    Make filling: Combine sugar, cornstarch & salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Whisk gently until combined. In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together milk & egg yolks. Add milk mixture to saucepan in a slow & steady stream, whisking until mixture is smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to bubble & thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Immediately turn heat down to a simmer & cook, whisking constantly, for one minute more until thick. (The constant stirring and low heat prevents the eggs from scrambling. Be sure to stand attentively at stove and keep scraping whisk against the bottom & edges of pan where mixture is more likely to overheat.) Off the heat, immediately whisk in chopped chocolate, butter & vanilla. 

    Transfer filling to a bowl. Press a piece of saran wrap directly over surface of filling to prevent film from forming & refrigerate until cool, 1-2 hours.

    Once filling is cooled, spoon filling into ready-made crust & spread evenly. Cover with saran wrap, pressing directly against surface of filling, & chill for at least 5 hours or up to one day.

    Before serving, make topping: Place heavy cream in chilled mixing bowl. While whipping on medium-low speed, add sugar & whip until the cream forms peaks. Spread whipped cream over pie, leaving some of the chocolate filling showing around the edges. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips & refrigerate until ready to serve. ENJOY!

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Swap ~ Vegetarian

    It's the middle of July!!! Half my birthday month flew by... how did that happen? Well I will move on & enjoy the rest of this glorious summer. This post is our bi-weekly Swap from my National Cooking Board, put together by Sarah from A Taste of Home Cooking (THANK you, Sarah!) I love, love, love these swaps & the subject was Vegetarian. I always am looking for a great veggie dinner for when my sister visits & I love my veggie meals too so I was ecstatic. I got this gem from Mary Ellen... & I saw quinoa. Now, I am really not a fan of quinoa (to the extent I pronounce it Quin-Noah purposefully- it's Keen-wah.) When I saw Mary Ellen had a recipe she wanted to share I became ecstatic again. Her blog is great! That, combined with my hubby's need to eat better/lower his cholesterol... And I made it. And it was yummy. Not "I cannot wait to eat quinoa again yummy" BUT it you love or like the grain, MAKE this. It came out moist & tasty. The only thing I will interject here is that this was a hard one for the summer for me- turning on the oven (to roast the garlic) in 100 degree weather like we've had (even with a/c) was awfully hot & tough. But the outcome was delish. Thank you, Mary Ellen!
    <3 Lishie (btw- I gave my Round Pasta)

    This is Mary Ellen's Italian version of quinoa:

    Quinoa with Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, and Spinach from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
    • 1/2 c quinoa, rinsed and drained (it is important to rinse quinoa to wash off any residue which can be bitter in taste)
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, I like them for some kick)
    • 2 tbsp dry white wine
    • 1 c vegetable broth
    • 1/2 bulb roasted garlic (about 6 cloves), chopped
    • 1 small tomato, seeds removed and chopped
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
    • 1 tbsp shallots, chopped
    • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
    Heat olive oil in a pot
    Add shallots and red pepper flakes and saute for 1-2 minutes
    Add quinoa and stir for 1-2 minutes
    Add wine and stir until absorbed (wait until you see how the quinoa jumps around in the pot when liquid is added!!)
    Add broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover. Let simmer until broth is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.
    Once the broth has absorbed, stir in the roasted garlic, tomatoes, spinach, and cheese.
    Serve immediately.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    General Chow's Tofu

    We are lessening the red meats in our home so I cautiously asked my hubby, "tofu?" And when he replied, "OK." (Not, "OK!", mind you, but it would have to do...) I got the green light. I was excited because, you see, for years I was a vegetarian (until my body resoundingly fought against itself & would not absorb nutrients). I still love tofu & many vegetarian meals wholeheartedly & rather enjoy when my veggie sister comes to dinner. One of our favorite meals, General Chow's Tofu, is from a classic Chinese Restaurant in Greenwich Village, Susie's.  So when I saw Heather, (of Hezzi D's Books & Cooks) General Chow's Tofu I knew this was the first tofu meal I'd make for the hubby to try. This is very much adapted from Hezzi D. (go to her recipe if you want spice!) It was a resounding hit!!!

    Here's what I did...
    <3 Lishie

    General Chow’s Tofu 
    • 2-3 TBsp canola oil, divided
    • 1 package (14 oz) extra-firm tofu
    • 1/4 c onion, diced small
    • 2 TBSp garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp powdered ginger
    • 1 c water
    • 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
    • 3 T. sugar
    • 1 lemon's zest & juice
    • 1 t. black pepper
    • 1 bunch broccoli
    • 2 TBSp water
    • 2 TBSp cornstarch

    Drain the excess water from the tofu & pat tofu dry with a paper towel. Slice the tofu length-wise into thin rectangular slices. Then cut each slice into a triangle.
    One pan method! Heat 1 TBSp canola on the bottom of a large skillet.  Add in the tofu & sear tofu slices on each side until browned.  Remove the tofu to a plate.
    Add remaining 2 TBSp oil into the skillet over medium heat. Add in the onion, garlic, & ginger.  Cook, stirring, until onions are softened but not browned. Add in broccoli florets, stir. Add 1 c water, soy sauce, sugar, lemon zest & juice, & pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil.

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch into the 2 TBSp water & incorporate it into the boiling sauce.  Simmer until thickened then add back in the tofu. 

    Serve over rice. Enjoy!

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Grilled Kabobs

    I have been sick for the last few days (no fun!) but am thankful for my support system. My hubby has been handling dinner very well, even wrapping up the food I am unable to eat! One night, he made these. They were pretty darn good. Apparently, the produce guy said that the new potatoes were awesome on kabobs on the grill. Always listen when someone who normally doesn't talk, gets excited because they want to TELL you something good! And he did. <3 Lishie
    • Fully cooked chicken sausage with apple (Johnsonville now has them!) cut into bite-sized pieces
    • new potatoes, skins left on, cleaned & halved or quartered
    • bell peppers, cut in nice, square pieces (similar-size to the sausage & potatoes)
    Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes (prevents scorching), then assemble.


    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Banana Cookie Bars

    Ohhh yum. Need something other than banana bread or muffins to use up overripe bananas? Well, I did too! Look no further... Try these Banana Cookie Bars. And if you are not allergic to coconut (like I am), add that on top too because I think it would be a perfect addition!

    This may make me sound like a bad mom but my tot loves bananas so much he eats two a day lately. So in order to make sure we have enough, we buy two bunches. With this heat, the bananas ripen quickly so this ooey-gooey reipe is what I came up with this week to utilize those yummy, over-ripened fruit.

    <3 Lishie

    Banana Cookie Bars

    • 1 c graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1 c butter, softened
    • 3/4 c confectioner sugar
    • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
    • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 2 c dark chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep/grease a 9×9" brownie pan.
    In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, & salt; Set aside. In another bowl, mix the butter & confectioner sugar until creamy. Add the crumb mixture slowly whisking or beating until combined. Press mixture into prepped baking pan.
    In a medium bowl, mix together condensed milk & bananas until incorporated. Pour this mixture over the graham cracker crust. Sprinkle  the chips & walnuts over the top.
    Bake for abut 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool completely,about 10-15 minutes. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving... Makes 16 nice-sized bars.