Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mini Cupcakes

I got this idea from the fabulous Bakerella You could spend all day looking at all the amazing things on her blog. She is really talented. These little cupcakes were really easy once I got the hang of it, but wow what an undertaking without any helpers! It literally took me all day to do this plus the night before to bake the cake. Apparently Bakerella visted one other fabulous blogger The Pioneer Woman, which is actually where I found the recipe. These have more of a chocolate covered truffle taste than cake because the cake and frosting combine completely. They are very sweet, very adorable, and quite a lot of work. Try them... if you dare!

1. Bake a box cake according to the directions, 9x13 works fine. I used confetti cake and devils food cake. Red velvet is also recommended.

2. When cake is cool, crumble into a bowl. Mix in about 3/4 can of frosting (cream cheese is recommended). You want the cake to stick together when smooshed.

3. Roll cake into small balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. I used a small cookie scoop to gauge the size. They need to fit into your candy mold. Refrigerate for several hours.

4. In a small bowl, melt some chocolate brown Wilton candy melts. Microwave for 30 seconds stir, repeat one or two more times as necessary. You don't want to overheat the chocolate. Take a candy mold (the ones that look like Reese's PB cups) and fill half of them with the chocolate halfway. Press a cake ball in and rock it slightly to make sure the chocolate slides up the mold to the top edge all the way around. Repeat with remaining cups. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes until cooled. I recommend getting AT LEAST 2 trays of mold ($2 each), 3-4 is even better.

5. Melt the colored chocolate (directions in my chocolate pretzel entry), about a half bag will work. Carefully pop out each cake ball cup and dip into the chocolate. Press down until the colored chocolate barely touches the brown chocolate cup. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Place an M&M on top and some sprinkles. Repeat... over and over and over and over (about 50+ times). Put back in the refrigerator to cool completely.

6. Take a nap. You will need one.

Chocolate Pretzels

I had some extra chocolate from the mini cupcakes so Matt was wonderful enough to take little Murray up to 7-11 to grab me some pretzels. I need all the practice I can get for Katie's wedding! These are really easy to make and you can get really crazy with all the stuff you can sprinkle on them. Just a couple notes on a makeshift double boiler:

1. In a small saucepan, heat about an inch to 2 inches of water on low (I used a 1.5-2 on a burner tha goes up to 10). You want some small bubbles to form but you don't want it simmering or boiling. While the pot is still room temperature, place a room temperature pyrex bowl on top.

2. Place a handful of Wilton candy melts (my fave) in the pyrex bowl and stir until melted.

3. Dip the pretzel in and shake off the excess. Put on wax paper to cool. Immediately add sprinkles or whatever if you are going to. It is reeeeally easy if you don't dip 100% of the mini twist pretzels and they look cute. Just hold the bottom and do a scooping motion in the chocolate. Cool completely before removing from the wax paper.


Party Punch

Gotta have a yummy punch to wash down all the baby shower goodies! My mom is the queen of party punches.... the secret? Just start mixing! Taste along the way and adjust as necessary.

Party Punch
Serves: about 20

Mix together the following:
+1 bottle cranberry pomegranate
+1 can frozen lemonade
+1 can frozen orange juice
+3 cans water (from juice cans)
+1 bottle (can) pineapple juice
+1/2 bottle 7-Up

To keep it cold in the bowl, make a pretty ice ring! Get a cool jello mold or a bundt cake pan and fill with the blended punch or just plain 7-Up. You can add slices of fruit too. Make sure to freeze overnight. Don't make the ring too big to fit in the bowl! Enjoy.

Wheel... of... Fortune!

I had some leftover cake from making mini cupcakes for the baby shower and my mother-in-law's birthday had just passed... hmmm... what to do?? Well, her favorite gameshow is Wheel of Fortune and I happened to see a cool WOF cake... so ta da! I didn't feel like getting out all my pastry bags and tips, so this isn't pristine, but it is super cute and eveyone got a kick out of it. It is a single tier 9" confetti cake with a crumb coat of cream cheese frosting. Then refrigerate to firm up the frosting. Then I mixed a bunch of colors and went to town! Happy birthday Deb!

Shrimp Prima-scampi

I wanted pasta primavera and I wanted shrimp scampi... sooooo tada! This was tasty! Just remember this isn't supposed to be sop-it-up-with-garlic-bread saucy.

Shrimp Prima-scampi
Serves: 2

+1/2 box linguine
+1/2 bag shrimp, thawed & tails removed
+4-5 tablespoons butter
+Splash of olive oil
+4 cloves garlic, minced
+palmful of dried parsley
+fat palmful of dried basil
+1 box of Green Giant Immunity blend veggies
+Sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1. Cook the pasta per package directions.
2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, saute the shrimp and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter and a splash of olive oil. Add in the remaining butter, herbs & veggies and the red pepper flakes (to taste). Add the 5th tablespoon of butter if you deem it necessary.
3. When the shrimp and veggies are cooked thru, toss in the pasta.
4. Serve. Top with a little sprinkling of parm if you like.

Almost Carbonara

I didn't have much in the house (again) so I had to come up with something. The only meat we had was bacon... so I thought some kind of pasta would go well. Now this doesn't have egg in it so it's not a true carbonara... but it was yummy!

Almost Carbonara
Serves: 2-3

+1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
+8 bacon strips
+4 garlic cloves, minced
+1 1/4 cups milk
+4 ounces cream cheese
+1/2 cup butter
+1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain, then crumble. Remove drippings from the pan (leaving just a tad for some taste but not tons of fat) saute garlic until tender. Add the milk, cream cheese and butter; stir until smooth. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and bacon; heat through. Drain pasta; toss with sauce.

Chicken & Asparagus Risotto Skillet

This is a Pampered Chef recipe from Molly at Matt liked this and even ate it leftover. I am not a huge asparagus fan so I thought this was just ok. I think I would like it more if I swapped the asparagus for broccoli, but I don't think Matt would be as happy! This was definitely an easy one.

Chicken & Asparagus Risotto Skillet
Serves: 3-6

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts I used 1 pound of tenderloins
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1/3 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 oz. fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T lemon zest I omitted
2 cups milk
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces I used a half bunch, don't know if that was 1/2 pound
2 cups instant long-grain rice

Season chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in skillet and cook chicken 5-7 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm. Add milk, soup, asparagus, onion, garlic, cheese, lemon zest and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt to skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in rice; top with chicken. Cover pan; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Lemon Tea Cookies

I got these from fellow blogger I needed a non-chocolate dessert for my sister-in-law's baby shower and these sounded perfect and portable. They are definitely that. They are a little on the crumbly side because they are a tea cookie, so don't expect a large gooey cookie. Thanks Ashley!

Lemon Tea Cookies
Yield: 24 cookies

+1/2 cup butter softened
+2 tablespoon granulated sugar
+zest of 1/2 lemon
+2 tablespoons lemon juice
+1 1/4 cup flour
+1/4 teaspoon baking powder
+1/8 teaspoon salt


+1/2 cup powdered sugar
+juice of 1 lemon

In medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and whisk to combine well; set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, combine butter, sugars, lemon zest and beat in high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and beat to combine well. Turn mixer to low and slowly add dry ingredients. Slowly turn mixer up to medium to incorporate all the of the dry ingredients into the dough (this will take a couple minutes, but it will come together well - if you live in a dry climate, you can add 1 Tbsp water to make it come together). Remove bowl from mixer and roll cookie dough into 1-inch balls (no bigger) I used my small cookie scoop filled completely but no more, it was perfect. Place cookies onto a large plate or cookie sheet and place into fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment. I only used one sheet lined with a silpat mat and I fit 24 cookies. Remove cookies from fridge, place on lined baking sheets and place into oven to bake for 10-12 minutes (do not cook anymore - they may look underdone but they are not, do not them them brown). Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets.Once cooled, make icing by placing powdered sugar in a small bowl and, add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Stirring constantly, add additional 1/2 tsp lemon juice at a time until icing just comes together and is barely pourable. I added one small dot of yellow food coloring. Using a spoon, drizzle a small amount of icing over each cookie and let run down sides. Garnish with zest of lemon, if desired and serve.