Friday, May 31, 2013

May Re-Make Recap

How is it the end of May already? I feel like I was just lamenting the cold temps in February and March and now here we are, almost to summer, temps in the 70s and 80s and the humidity quickly setting in. Crazy how time flies, isn't it?

spring linguine

I couldn't get enough of asparagus while it was in season (and, let's be honest, I'm going to continue to enjoy it throughout the summer). The linguine with Alfredo, asparagus, peas and poached egg was just as good the second time around. I love a poached egg on top of, well, just about anything really.


When I need a quick, tasty dinner these grilled chicken Caesar flatbreads are my go-to. In fact, after typing up this post I decide to add it to my weekly menu. So good.

I've made this antipasto salad countless time but recently I've become obsessed with chopped salads where all the ingredients are finely chopped. I turned this salad into a chopped salad and man, oh man was it good.

I've also been on a burger kick lately and in looking back through some of the burgers I've made I stumbled upon these ultimate sriracha burgers. The fact that I've gone more than two years without remaking these is a crime. Such a fantastic, flavorful burger.


Whenever I make burgers I have to make these oven fries. The method takes a little bit of time but the results are worth it.

For a healthy dish this bacon broccoli mac and cheese packs a lot of flavor. I always love adding veggies to my mac and cheese because I feel less guilty eating it.

Chicken fajitas

I went all out for Cinco de Mayo this year, starting with these delectable citrus chicken fajitas. I marinate the chicken for a couple of hours in the citrus marinade and the flavors are incredible. You can really taste the lemon, lime and orange.

And what Mexican meal would be complete without these homemade refried beans. I cannot stress enough how good these are. And so, so simple. I implore anyone who buys canned refried beans to try this recipe. They even freeze beautifully (or so I hear, I never have leftovers).

I had to make the spicy pork and asparagus stir fry again while asparagus was in season and it never fails to amaze me how a recipe with such simple ingredients can be so flavorful. We all love this one. A lot.


I went a long time between making these Philly cheesesteak sloppy Joes for the first time and finally remaking them, but now that I have we've rediscovered our love for this simple sandwich. I've been serving mine with lettuce, tomato and raw onion, along with a red wine vinegar, oregano and mayo sauce, to be like a cheesesteak hoagie. Delicious.

After seeing this recipe for orange chicken on another blog recently I had to make it. And then I realized I already had. Ha! Just goes to show it had been too long. It's a little time consuming but that crispy coating bathed in the delicious, spicy orange sauce is so worth it.


These Sausage and Spinach Breakfast Sandwiches were so delicious I decided to try another combination - ham, asparagus and goat cheese. All I can say is wow. The flavors were perfect and I can't wait to try other variations soon.

We had quite a few overripe bananas sitting on the counter so SP suggested I make banana bread. I added chocolate chips and was reminded why I like this recipe so much. Good thing we have more bananas in the freezer.

I really struggle with side dishes, especially in the spring and summer when my old standby of mashed potatoes won't cut it. This chickpea salad with tomatoes, lemon, and herbs is flavorful and healthy and reminded me why I love beans so much.

We had a cookout with my parents to celebrate Memorial Day and I brought one of my favorite sides - beets with goat cheese and arugula. In looking back through my blog to find a post about this salad I realized I've never actually done one. If I'd known I would have taken a photo of the gorgeous platter of food. I bought both regular and golden beets and they were delicious. It's a good thing we eat this salad all summer.

I wanted to make an easy side dish for Memorial Day and since we've been eating a lot of potato salad lately I thought macaroni salad would be perfect. This recipe is so easy and simple.

Beef and Broccoli

Baby Girl is allergic to nuts so Chinese food is off-limits due to the risk of cross-contamination. It's a good thing I've got recipes like this beef and broccoli that taste almost as good as what we can get from our favorite local restaurant.

club salad2

I needed a quick dinner since the girls from my bootcamp class have decided to get together to exercise once a week, so this California club blue cheese chopped salad was perfect. This time I subbed hard boiled eggs for the chicken, which I think was a great idea.
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BLT Spaghetti Carbonara

You all know how much I love carbonara. I've made quite a few versions over the years but this BLT Spaghetti Carbonara might just be my new favorite.


In this recipe, traditional carbonara is paired with tomatoes and spinach for an awesome twist. The tomatoes and spinach cut the richness of the carbonara (and we can pretend this is semi-healthy because of the veggies, right? Right). Baby Girl was a big fan, which is saying something because so far she hasn't been into spinach. Mixed with ingredients she loves - bacon, tomatoes and, of course, pasta - made it more palatable.


Even SP, not the biggest fan of carbonara, loved this one. He kept asking me what I did differently with the bacon and said it was perfectly seasoned, creamy and delicious. I have to agree. If you love carbonara, you've got to try this version.

BLT Spaghetti Carbonara
Modified from Nigella Lawson and Tide and Thyme

1 pound spaghetti
6 slices bacon, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 large onions, sliced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 6 oz bag baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet that will fit the pasta later, cook the bacon until crispy but not crunchy. Add the onions and cook until softened and starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and spinach and cook for a few minutes to wilt the spinach, then add the white wine or vermouth and let it bubble so that, after a few minutes, you have a small amount of thick syrup left.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs, Parmesan, cream, pepper and nutmeg.

Add the pasta to the pan with the bacon, tossing well to coat with the syrupy sauce. Take the pan off the heat (remove from the stove completely, don't just turn off the burner) and add the eggs and cheese mixture, swiftly tossing everything with tongs to mix. Grind over some more pepper and grated cheese, if desired. Serve.
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know we usually make homemade pizza on Fridays. Now that the temps are climbing I'm less interested in heating the oven to 550 degrees but I still had a hankering for pizza flavors. Enter these Pepperoni Pizza Sliders, a knock-off of the Sweet Ham and Swiss sliders that have been so popular in the blogosphere lately.


These did not disappoint. They were incredibly easy to assemble and tasted great. Between the three of us we ate all 12 sliders. Whoops! Next time I'll serve them with a Caesar or antipasto salad on the side to make more of a complete meal.

Pepperoni Pizza Sliders
As seen on What's Cookin, Chicago?

For the sandwiches:
12 slider rolls
3/4 cup pizza sauce
24-36 slices pepperoni
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For the topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Separate each roll, then spread a little pizza sauce onto both halves. Place 2-3 slices of pepperoni and a large piece of shredded cheese on each roll. Close rolls and place them close together in a 9x13" baking dish.

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients. Brush evenly over all of the sandwiches, just enough to cover the tops; let sandwiches sit for 10 minutes to absorb the butter and seasonings. At this point, sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead, covered and kept in the fridge ready to bake.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 5 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Recipe Swap: Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich

It's Blogger's Choice recipe swap time again and this round I was assigned Ali's blog, Sparks From the Kitchen. I spent a lot of time looking through her blog before deciding on this Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich. I've been on a serious sandwich kick lately, eating one at least once a week, and SP was just asking me to make something with BBQ sauce.


I wanted to add a few toppings to the sandwich so I mashed up an avocado with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and added crispy Romaine and sliced tomato. Baby Girl loved this sandwich, making all kinds of happy noises while she was eating. SP and I liked it, too, although I forgot to add additional BBQ sauce to our sandwiches and we both thought they needed it for that extra kick. It's a simple sandwich that tastes great.

Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich
As seen on Sparks From the Kitchen

2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
8 pieces cooked bacon
Cheddar cheese, sliced thin
BBQ sauce
Kaiser rolls
1 avocado
Juice of half a lemon
Romaine lettuce
Sliced tomato

Preheat grill pan or grill over medium high heat.

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Add to the grill and cook 4-5 minutes on the first side, the flip and cook 3 minutes on the other side. Brush chicken with the BBQ sauce and then add the cheese. Turn off the heat and tent loosely with foil to melt the cheese.

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash the avocado with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Split the rolls in half. Put some of the mashed avocado on the top half of each roll. Place a little sauce on the bottom piece of bread, top with chicken, bacon slices, lettuce and tomato. Add the top piece of bread and serve.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hamburger Steak with Onion & Mushroom Gravy

With the weather quickly changing from spring to summer I knew I had to take advantage of a cool day to make this Hamburger Steak with Onion & Mushroom Gravy.


This one was right up SP's alley with the mushrooms and mashed potatoes but my stomach is definitely in light summer mode and it seemed too heavy. It was delicious, so I'll definitely make it again in the fall or winter.

Hamburger Steak with Onion & Mushroom Gravy
As seen on Our Best Bites, adapted from Cooking Light

1 pound ground sirloin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon butter
1 large white onion, vertically sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sliced baby portobello mushrooms
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Divide the meat into 4 1/2″-thick patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the patties and cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the patties from the pan and set aside. Drain off any excess fat/grease.

Heat the teaspoon of butter in the skillet. When melted, add the onions and sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until they become tender and start to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes (you may need to add an additional teaspoon of oil if the onions are burning or sticking). Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are tender, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

When the onions and mushrooms are cooked, sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon of flour and stir quickly to combine. Add the broth and vinegar and cook until thickened. Add the beef patties and heat through. Serve each patty over mashed potatoes and top with mushrooms, onions, and gravy.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Southern-Style Mustard Potato Salad

I have a go-to potato salad I've been making for years, but when my friends Paula and Melissa recently discussed the beauty of Paula's Southern-Style Mustard Potato Salad I figured it was worth a shot.


The two recipes aren't really that different, mine has celery seed and sour cream where Paula's doesn't, but that's about it. I was looking for an easy side dish to serve with my Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes and since I already had some hard boiled eggs and celery in the fridge I quickly boiled some potatoes, chopped up the other ingredients and tossed them all together.

This was fantastic. Even Baby Girl ate her entire serving, which was a big deal since she hasn't liked any other potato salad. It takes next to no time to prepare and tastes outstanding. Definitely make it a day in advance so the flavors have time to meld.

Southern-Style Mustard Potato Salad
Slightly adapted from The Saucy Southerner

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 eggs, hard-cooked, peeled and very finely chopped
3/4 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup red or sweet onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped dill pickles
2 tablespoons dill pickle juice
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water until just about to fall apart. Drain well in a colander then added back to the hot pan to dry out for 5 minutes.

Place the potatoes, eggs, celery, onion, dill pickles and pickle juice into a large bowl. Add the mustard and mayonnaise, stirring gently so you don't over mix. Try to keep the potatoes unmashed. Add salt and pepper, adjusting to taste.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Make it a day ahead for best results!

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Sausage and Spinach Egg Bake

I've had my eye on Melissa's Sausage and Spinach Breakfast Sandwiches ever since she posted them a year ago. Melissa makes a batch of this egg bake every Sunday for her and her husband to enjoy for breakfast during the week. It sounded like a great idea and something we'd love, but every Sunday would roll around and I wouldn't have enough eggs or it would be 9pm when I remembered I wanted to make a batch. After Melissa mentioned them again recently I figured enough was enough and I needed to have these sandwiches in my life, so I added an extra dozen eggs to my shopping list.


I whipped this up on a Sunday afternoon and, seriously, this could not be easier. It's such an easy method it's almost ridiculous - all you need to do is cook your add-ins (if necessary, see below), whisk up some eggs and bake it off. I portioned out 4 servings for SP and I to eat during the week and froze the other 6 squares (see method below). SP ate his plain, I made mine into a sandwich and added some hot sauce with each bite.


The possible variations are only limited to your imagination. Bacon, ham, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, different cheeses like feta or goat cheese, the possibilities sound delicious. I'll definitely be experimenting soon. Thank you so much for this one, Melissa!

Breakfast Sandwiches
As seen on Alosha's Kitchen, originally from Foodie with Family

3/4 lb breakfast sausage
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 to 1 cup chopped cooked spinach
2 cups shredded cheese, divided
10 eggs
1/4 cup milk
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

For serving:
1 slice of bread, toasted
Hot sauce or ketchup

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it into small chunks with a wooden spoon as it browns. Cook until no longer pink, then add the minced onion and garlic and saute until slightly browned and fragrant, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Be sure to get the corners and sides well, too. Evenly distribute the sausage mixture over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Scatter the spinach, if using, over one or both sides and top with half the cheese.

Crack all of the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of milk and freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Whisk to beat together until the mixture is an even color. Pour gently and evenly over the contents of the baking dish. Top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the eggs are set in the center (just a little jiggle to them) and golden brown around the edges.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before using a thin spatula to run around the edges and loosen the cooked egg. Using two spatulas, gently pull out the egg bake in once piece onto a cutting board. Allow it to cool for 10 more minutes before slicing into 10 pieces.

Eat immediately on toasted bread with hot sauce or ketchup OR:

To Refrigerate:

Place each piece of egg bake in a small Tupperware or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to eat, toast the bread, microwave the egg bake on high for 30 seconds to one minute depending on your microwave, assemble on toast and serve.

To Freeze:

Place a single layer of plastic wrap on a baking sheet. Arrange the pieces of egg bake on the plastic wrap with a little space between them. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in the freezer until solid. When they are firmly frozen, wrap each piece of egg bake with plastic wrap. Transfer the wrapped pieces to a resealable freezer bag. Mark the date and contents and freeze for up to 6 months. When ready to eat, unwrap the egg bake and microwave on high for 1 1/2 - 3 minutes, depending on your microwave. Assemble on toasted bread and serve.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baked Oven Fries

I've been making these Baked Oven Fries for more than two years but I've never given them their own blog post. That needed to change.


These are so easy to make and come out perfectly every time. We all love them and I appreciate being able to make fries at home, from scratch, without frying them. I usually make only two potatoes so I cut down on the amount of oil. You don't need a lot, just enough to coat the baking sheet. Be liberal with the salt and pepper - potatoes absorb salt so while it may seem like a lot, you want them seasoned properly.

Baked Oven Fries
As seen on Annie's Eats, from Cook's Illustrated

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into even-sized wedges
5 tablespoons vegetable, canola or peanut oil, divided
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 475˚ F.

Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Cover with hot water and soak for 10-30 minutes. Put 4 tablespoons of the oil onto a heavy, rimmed baking sheet. Tilt the sheet to evenly coat the pan with the oil. Sprinkle the pan evenly with the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Drain the potatoes and dry them on clean kitchen towels, patting dry with additional towels. Dry the empty bowl, then return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.

Arrange the potato wedges on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using a spatula and tongs, flip each potato wedge, keeping them in a single layer. Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, 15 minutes. Rotate the pan as needed to ensure even browning.

When the fries are finished baking, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain some of the grease. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
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Monday, May 13, 2013


As I mentioned in the last Blogger's Choice post, when I was checking out Caroline's blog I found another recipe I ended up making for breakfast that same day. This is not a complicated recipe by any means, and is probably something a lot of people ate growing up, but it was (shockingly) my first time making Egg-in-the-Hole.


I loved this so much, especially using the cut-out to dip into the egg yolk. I love runny eggs and this is such a simple yet fun twist to a normal fried egg and toast breakfast.

As seen on The Barbee Housewife
Ingredients are for one serving

1 slice bread
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large egg
Salt and pepper

Cut a hole in the center of the slice of bread using a biscuit cutter or clean drinking glass.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Place both the bread and the cut-out in the skillet and let it cook for 1 minute. Place 1 tablespoon of butter into the hole in the center of the bread, then crack the egg and drop it into the hole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Allow the egg to cook for 1 minute, then flip the bread with a spatula (the cut-out, too). Sprinkle this side with salt and pepper and let cook until the egg is at desired doneness.

Remove from pan and eat immediately.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Recipe Swap: Scallops with Tarragon Butter Sauce

When I sent SP this recipe for Scallops with Tarragon Butter Sauce and told him I was making it for the Fish/Seafood recipe swap he was so excited. He loves scallops but we rarely have them due to the cost.


I only made a few modifications, mainly subbing chicken broth for the white wine because I didn't have any in the house and didn't want to put off making this so we could buy a bottle. I wish I could say Baby Girl tasted scallops and fell in love, but, well, she didn't. She did eat two small pieces, but that was it. The rice I served alongside she devoured. She also wasn't a huge fan of the spinach. In her defense, I think this was the first time she's had it. As much as I love spinach, I rarely cook it as a side dish. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I did so hopefully after a few more exposures to it she'll come around.

I loved everything about this dish, especially the delicious sauce. I ended up adding quite a bit of sauce to my bowl so the rice could soak it all up. Yum. SP decided he really isn't a fan of tarragon, however. Say what? Oh well, there are plenty of other herbs in the garden.

Scallops with Tarragon Butter Sauce
Slightly modified from Becoming Pigzilla, adapted from Food and Wine

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 lb sea scallops, dried well
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 bunch fresh spinach
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chicken broth
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

In a large non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil with 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Season scallops with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Put scallops in the pan. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until browned on second side and just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add spinach to the pan. Turn several times to coat in pan juices. Add the lemon juice, and cook until the leaves are wilted. Divide spinach on plates and place scallops on top of spinach.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil; cook until reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons butter to form a smooth sauce. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon zest and tarragon. Season and adjust flavors to taste. Pour over scallops and serve.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Cheeseburger Macaroni

I've had my friend Melissa's recipe for Cheeseburger Macaroni on my meal plan for more than a month. It just kept getting pushed back, which is a real shame because it was so easy and so delicious. It's basically a Hamburger Helper meal made from scratch.


You'll notice this recipe doesn't include oil. Melissa has practically eliminated all oil/butter from her cooking, using the natural fat in the meat instead. It really is ingenious and the recipes I've tried sans oil are just as flavorful as if I'd started with the requisite 1 tablespoon of oil. The ground beef I buy is 80/20 and by starting with a hot skillet and browning the meat for a few minutes before adding the onions and garlic I was able to render enough fat to cook everything properly without having to drain off any excess later.


This is a simple, hearty one-pot meal the whole family enjoyed. The flavors are so perfect and I love a recipe where you cook the pasta in with the rest of the ingredients. I'm just sorry I waited so long to make it.

Cheeseburger Macaroni
As seen on Alosha’s Kitchen, from Ezra Pound Cake

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups beef (or chicken) broth
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces macaroni
1 cup (4 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated
4 scallions, chopped

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beef, breaking apart the meat, until it starts to brown and render some of its fat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft and the meat cooked through.

Meanwhile, whisk together the broth, mustard, ketchup, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Add to the meat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the macaroni.

Reduce the heat to medium, and cover. Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring every few minutes to make sure the pasta doesn't stick.

When the macaroni is done, remove skillet from heat and add the grated cheese, stirring until melted. Top each serving with some of the chopped scallion and serve immediately.
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Monday, May 06, 2013

Virtual Baby Shower: Cannoli Cupcakes

I know you're surprised to see cupcakes on this blog but I have a good reason - my friend Krystal and her husband, Eric, are expecting their second child any day now. It's a boy (yay!) and his nickname is Cupcake. When Eva decided to throw Krystal a virtual baby shower she knew just what the theme should be. I've had my eye on these Cannoli Cupcakes for a long time so this was the perfect excuse to make them.


You know I very rarely bake so initially I was overwhelmed by the number of steps, but everything is actually very easy to do. I decided to cut the recipe in half since I didn't want 12 cupcakes in the house and can't send them to SP's office because everyone is trying to avoid sweets. It was very easy to do, although I ended up with enough batter for seven cupcakes. Good thing Pop-Pop was visiting and took two home for him and my mom to enjoy. I also didn't want to break out the stand mixer for such a small amount so I did everything with my trusty hand mixer. Worked just fine. And for novice bakers who don't own piping bags or tips, I put the filling into a food storage bag, cut off the bottom edge and just used that to fill the cupcakes. As for the frosting, I know they would have looked nicer with piped frosting but they still tasted great just spreading it on top.


Everything was so simple and came together in no time flat. Baby Girl helped, of course, and loved tasting everything, especially the frosting. I loved stuffing the inside of the cupcakes with the cannoli filling, which makes the cupcakes super decadent and delicious. We really love cannoli and these were light without sacrificing flavor. The frosting recipe couldn't have been easier, although I may use more cocoa powder next time for a stronger chocolate flavor. SP proclaimed this his all-time favorite homemade cupcake, which says a lot because we both prefer boxed cake (shh...)


Congratulations to Krystal, Eric and big sister Elena. And check out the other delicious cupcakes over at Eva Bakes.

Cannoli Cupcakes
As seen on Tide and Thyme, adapted from Fabulicious! by Teresa Giudice
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain (or vanilla) lowfat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tablespoon sugar

1 2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

Combine the butter and sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if you're using a hand mixer) with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. Add eggs, one at a time to the mixer, until fully combined. Then add in the yogurt and vanilla extract. Once everything is combined, reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add in the flour mixture until a batter forms.

Divide the mixture evenly into the prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the cupcake pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Squeeze all of the excess liquid from the ricotta cheese (or drain overnight in a strainer lined with paper towels placed over a bowl). Place the ricotta, mini chocolate chips and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until fluffy.

Cut a small circle, using a paring knife, in the top of each cupcake and pull out the center. Discard the centers (or eat them with some of the frosting...wink, wink). Transfer the ricotta mixture to a piping bag with a tip large enough for the mini chocolate chips to pass through and pipe into the center of each cupcake. Alternately, you can put the filling into a plastic food storage bag. Seal the bag and cut off one of the bottom corners so the filling can pass through.

Prepare the frosting by combining the heavy cream, sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Start on low speed and increase to medium-high beating until stiff peaks form.

Transfer to a large piping bag with a large star tip and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Or just frost the cupcakes with a knife - they'll still taste great. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over each cupcake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Friday, May 03, 2013

Pull-Apart Pizza Bites

A few weeks ago Baby Girl and I met my mom and aunt for dinner. We went to a pizza place and since it was a Thursday I figured I'd make something other than pizza for dinner on Friday. Then Maeghan posted these Pull-Apart Pizza Bites and I figured they were different enough from pizza to warrant making them the day after a pizza dinner.


I served these with Caesar salad to make it more of a dinner. We really enjoyed these - simple to make and great flavor, especially dipped in pizza sauce. Baby Girl loved that it was even easier to eat than pizza. These would also make a great appetizer for a party.

Pull-Apart Pizza Bites
As seen on The Way to His Heart

1 ball pizza dough
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed (about 24 pieces)
Sliced pepperoni

For Topping:
Olive oil
Italian seasoning or pizza spices
Grated Parmesan cheese
Serve with pizza sauce

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.

Roll the dough out into a thin round, as if you're making pizza. Place one mozzarella cube and two pieces of pepperoni about an inch apart around the dough. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough around the mozzarella and pepperoni. Alternatively, divide the dough into 24 equal sized pieces, approximately 1 oz. each. Place one mozzarella cube and one to two pieces of pepperoni slices on each piece of dough. Pull the sides of the dough up around the cheese and pepperoni. Pinch to seal and place the dough, seam side down in the pie plate.

Repeat with the remaining dough and place the pieces of dough in a circular pattern around the pie plate.

Lightly brush olive oil over the top of the dough balls. Lightly sprinkle the Italian seasoning or pizza spices and Parmesan cheese over the top of the dough balls.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with pizza sauce for dipping.
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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Bruschetta Burgers

We had a taste of summer a few weeks ago and I scrapped my original dinner plans to grill the first burgers of the season. I even made the fire myself (we use a charcoal grill). I was so excited to grill - it's been a long winter cooking burgers indoors and I've missed that smokey flavor. Those burgers were so delicious I immediately went looking for another burger recipe to make the following week and remembered Cassie's Bruschetta Burgers.


I immediately vetoed the idea of making my own bruschetta for two reasons - I was lazy and our supermarket makes an awesome version for their olive/appetizer bar. I plan to make my own this summer when tomatoes are in season and I'm growing my own basil but for now the store-bought was fine. I also decided to sub fresh mozzarella for the provolone because, well, I can't get enough of fresh mozzarella.

These were delicious, sort of like the caprese burgers I loved last summer. The garlic butter on the buns was an awesome touch and I especially loved the balsamic mayo, which Baby Girl was eating by the spoonful. Thanks for a killer burger, Cassie!

Bruschetta Burgers
As seen on Cassie Craves, inspired by Cookies and Cups

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (more to taste, if desired)

6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup basil, sliced into a chiffonade
1/4 cup finely-shredded asiago cheese
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 garlic clove, finely grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil (I usually use a couple of tablespoons)

4 hamburger burger patties
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

4 sandwich buns
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Pinch each of salt and pepper

Combine the mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl; refrigerate until serving.

Combine tomatoes, basil, asiago, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil in another small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving.

Season burger patties with salt and pepper and grill, turning once, until desired doneness. Top each patty with a slice of cheese and remove from heat.

Combine butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Spread evenly over each bun half and place buttered-side-up on a baking sheet. Broil or toast until browned and fragrant.

Serve the hamburgers on the garlic bread buns, topped with a generous pile of bruschetta and a slather of the balsamic mayonnaise.
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