Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sausage and Lentil Soup

  • Hearty soups are an absolute favorite for me in the wintertime. Throw in some crusty French bread and a warm fireplace to sit near and I am a very happy gal. This robust one-pot dinner packs in lentils, sausage and plenty of vegetables, including mushrooms, spinach, onions and garlic. I love beef broth and red wine in soup; they give the dish an amazing richness that compliments the meat wonderfully and allow the food to be oh-so-comforting. Adapted from a recipe from Whole Foods, this recipe is nutritious, filling, and delicious.  A loaf of crusty bread is the only accompaniment you need for a complete meal.

  • Yield: about 6 servings

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 pound sweet and/or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms (such as white, cremini, shiitake, portobello and oyster), chopped
  • 1 cup (about 7 ounces) dried French or brown lentils, picked through and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes, with their juice
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 pound baby spinach, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add sausage and cook, breaking into small chunks, until it begins to brown. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released most of their liquid. Add lentils, beef broth, mushroom or chicken broth, tomatoes and their juice, wine and pepper flakes; cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes.

Add spinach and salt and pepper, stir well and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more; stir in thyme.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and top with Parmesan. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Golden Sweet Potato Brownies

I'm not one to cut the chocolate out of a brownie, but this recipe seriously doesn't need it.  Similar to my Sweet Potato Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, this "brownie" is super moist, wonderfully sweet, with just the right amount of spice.  However, this recipe has more of a moist brownie-like texture than my cake recipe, and the cake part - or should I say "brownie" part - is a little sweeter as well.  These are not crumbly like brownies, though...I guess you could say they are stuck in the middle between a brownie and a cake.  The brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter make this recipe super sinfully rich. And the glaze on top is just delicious.  I don't recommend adding a frosting because that would make the dish a little too sweet.  I do, however, recommend adding the golden raisins (regular are fine too, but the golden complements the color better), and they are incredible when soaked in boiling orange juice for an hour. The shredded sweet potato (or yam) that you use melts away into the cake, similar to what a carrot cake would be like. I also love the sunny-orange-golden color this cake makes; it's unlike anything I've ever eaten before.  Do NOT use canned yams for this recipe because I have no idea how that would turn out!  I would think that it would make it too moist/wet.  Use fresh, shredded yams or sweet potatoes for the best results because they will be amazing!

Yield: 1 9x13 inch baking dish (about 20 servings)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups peeled and finely shredded sweet potato (or yam)
1 cup golden raisins (optional)

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; stir into the batter just until blended. Fold in the shredded yam and (optional) raisins. Spread the batter evenly in the greased baking dish.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center, comes out clean. Mix together the confectioners' sugar, butter and milk until smooth. Spread over the brownies while they are still warm. They will absorb some of the glaze. Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Salisbury Steak

I always see Salisbury Steak on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory under the "Specials" list, but I never really knew what it was.  Sooo......the other day, after going to the Cheesecake Factory and getting their incredible White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake (so sinful), I decided to look up a Salisbury Steak recipe.  I learned it was basically a very beefy/steaky-flavored hamburger patty with gravy.  Sounds pretty darn good to me!  So I decided to create my own recipe.  The result was filled with delicious mushroom, onion, beefy, yummyness! The hamburger patty itself is super flavorful, and using some of the gravy ingredients - like the soup mixes - in the actual patty ingredients make the patty incredibly tender as well.  This was the  first time I had ever tasted Salisbury Steak, and it's the only recipe I will use because it was so tasty.  I highly recommend serving this over creamy, garlic mashed potatoes, and with a side of peas, and/or corn.  The next time I make it, I'm going to attempt making it into a Shepherd's Pie!  My dad came up with that [surprisingly] great idea.  I also want to make the patties into meatballs and try having it as a pasta, with the gravy as the pasta sauce.  Yum yum yum!  Whatever variations you want to make out of this recipe, I promise it will taste fantabulous.  Don't even bother ordering the Cheesecake Factory one...this one is definitely better. :)

1 10-oz can French Onion Soup
1 10-oz can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 packet Dry Onion Soup
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder


  1. In a large bowl, mix together 1/3 cup French onion soup, 1/4 cup Cream of Mushroom soup, and a dash of the dry onion soup with ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, and black pepper. Shape into 6 patties.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown both sides of patties (do not cook them completely through in the center.  The insides should not be cooked completely, only the outside). Pour off excess fat.  Gently spread the onions and mushrooms on top of the patties and throughout the skillet.
  3. In a small bowl, blend flour and both remaining soups until smooth. Mix in remaining dry onion soup, ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder. Pour over meat, onions, and mushrooms in the skillet. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, gently stirring occasionally.  Serve hot.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

I could go on all day with these mouth-watering pictures.......
                                            ....but I won't.  Because I know you guys just wanna get to the recipe already.  Let me start off by saying that these are the most magnificent muffins I have ever tasted in my entire life.  (My second favorite is tied with my lemon raspberry muffins and my chocolate chip muffins.) They are like CRACK.  You will be wanting one of these EVERY SINGLE DAY once you bake them.  In fact, my family has already decided to have these for Christmas day breakfast!  Yep yep --- they are that good.

Let me tell you a little bit about them.  The muffin cake itself has the perfect amount of spice; wonderfully cinnamon-y, with just the right amount of nutmeg. It is also super moist and tender, everything you would dream the perfect muffin should be.  You know what a snickerdoodle tastes like right? (I'm working on the perfect snickerdoodle recipe by the way)  Hopefully you do.  Well...these muffins tastes just like snickerdoodles...just in muffin form of course (which makes them way cooler).   Plus they are fluffy.  Which makes them way better than snickerdoodle cookies(:  Anyways, on the outside of these heavenly clouds of pure deliciousness is a decadent cinnamon-sugar-butter topping which causes every single bite to melt in your mouth. may sound like I'm exaggerating but I swear I'm really not.  And I haven't even gotten to the absolute BEST part of these muffins: the NUTELLA center.  Mmmmm...once you take the first bite into these treats, you'll discover a chocolate surprise in the middle, filled with warm, fudgeysinful nutella.  The chocolate in the nutella pairs amazingly with the vanilla-cinnamon-y-buttery muffin.  They make fantastic left overs too, but are best eaten warm from the oven (of course, these only lasted up until the day after I made them, but they were still awesome). 

Ohmygosh just make these muffins.  I promise they will be a new favorite of yours!

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
yield:  8 medium-large muffins
  • 1/3 cup (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 heaping teaspoons Nutella (about 4 tablespoons)
Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4.5 Tbsp unsalted butter (1/4 cup + 1.5 teaspoons)
Preheat oven to 425F.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl of an electric or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed.  Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  DO NOT overmix – stir until *just* combined.
Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter into muffin cavity.  Layer with 1 heaping tsp Nutella in the center and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top.  If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok.  They will not overflow.  Repeat layering batter + Nutella into each muffin tin.  I got exactly 8 muffins.
Bake at 425F for 5 minutes.  Reduce oven to 350F and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes until batter is set. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.
While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping.  Melt the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Stir and stick back in microwave if not fully melted.  In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.  Dip the top of each muffin generously into the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Swirl them around in the cinnamon-sugar a bit to make sure you get a thick coating. Set upright on cooling rack.  Enjoy!

***photo-creds to Sally's Baking Addiction, and this recipe was adapted/altered from her as well.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

This is the recipe that got my mom into liking chicken sausage.  I had tried it once at Trader Joes and loved it, but my mom said she only like sausage with pork or turkey.  "Chicken is definitely not sausage," she would say.  However, she caved and said yes when I asked if I could make this recipe, and she definitely did not regret it once she tasted this wonderful soup.  It's very hearty, filled with lots of veggies, cheesy tortellini, and flavorful chicken sausage (which is also healthier than pork).  The broth is very flavorful as well, with tomato juice, white wine, and chicken broth.  I recommend (just like any other one of my soup recipes, really) enjoying this soup with some [garlic bread] on the side for dipping. Yum(: If you like spicy things, feel free to add as much red pepper flakes as you want.  This is is such a great recipe for a chilly night, not to mention its easy and economical.

1 8-ounce package sweet Italian chicken sausage links (mine had roasted peppers in them)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced carrots 
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
4 ounces canned, petite diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 14-oz cans low sodium chicken broth
9 ounces refrigerated cheese tortellini (I used half an 18-ounce bag)
3/4 cup fresh, chopped red tomatoes
8 ounces spinach leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
Garnish: Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat Dutch oven with 1/2 tsp of oil to coat and saute chicken sausage until browned and just cooked through. Remove from pan, let cool slightly, slice into small slices (about 1/2 inch thick) and set aside.
  2. Heat remaining oil in pan, add carrots and saute for about 4 minutes.  Add onions and mushrooms, and saute about 8 minutes more, or until the carrots are tender.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, stir in wine, broth, and canned tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add tortellini. Cook for another 5 minutes and then stir in spinach and tomato. Cook until the spinach wilts, 2 minutes.
  3. Return sauteed sausage pieces to the soup, cook for an additional 5 minutes, add the butter, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste and serve when butter is melted. Garnish with Parmesan if desired.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cheesy Potato and Corn Chowder

This takes comfort food to a whole new level.  That's what I love about chowder recipes...they're easy, yet incredibly rich and literally the definition of true soul-food.  This is rich, creamy (yet chunky!), cheesy, and full of fabulous flavor.  It's also incredibly perfect for those cold, winter nights.  I wouldn't change anything about this's just too perfect.  The only thing I may experiment with is trying it with different meats, like chicken, ham, or - I think this would taste best - sausage. My family and I gobbled it up and we all agreed that this is one of my best chowder recipes of all time.  I served it with crusty french bread for dipping, and it was a wonderful, southern, comforting meal.

Yield: about 6-8 servings

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion 
2 14.5 ounce cans chicken broth
3 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn
1 15-ounce can creamed corn
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
1 2.5 ounce package country style gravy mix
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup shredded, Mexican-style blend cheese
Garnish: crumbled bacon, sliced green onions, and/or extra cheese (optional)


  1. In large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add potatoes; cook over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in both corn cans and chiles; return to boiling. Combine milk and heavy cream, and dissolve gravy mix in the milk/cream mixture; stir into boiling mixture.  Let simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add cheese; cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.  Garnish (if desired) and serve hot.
***If you love spicy, feel free to add some hot sauce to your bowl(:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tilapia Parmesan

  • Mmmm..cheesy...buttery fish.  So yummy.  This recipe is so simple, yet so delicious.  Many people find tilapia recipes bland and boring...well, not this one.  I absolutely love it served over rice because of the amazing sauce...the rice soaks it up and tastes sooo yummy.  This is super easy and better than anything you'd order in a restaurant.  Everyone in my family had seconds, and we didn't end up with any leftovers!  The texture is perfect, and the zing of the Parmesan and spices were also perfect.  The blend of flavors is truly incredible. This recipe is sure to impress!

  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds tilapia fillets
  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder, celery seed, paprika, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sweet Potato Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin pie fork

Woah now.  Sweet potato cake?  There's sweet potato pie...and pumpkin cake...and potato bread...and sweet potato casserole...but sweet potato cake?  Yeah okay so it sounds a little strange at first, but it's really not all that weird when you think about it.  Sweet potatoes are super similar to pumpkin, and there's pumpkin cake, so why not have a sweet potato cake?  At least this is what I was thinking before I made this magnificently scrumptious masterpiece.  I brought this to school for a party, and all my friends - and the teachers - raved about it. It is SO amazing.  The secret ingredient in this recipe is the beer.  I don't know the scientific reason for it, but beer makes baked goods so incredibly moist and have the softest texture.  Oh and I haven't even started on this cream cheese frosting.  It's like heaven in your mouth.  Beating it for 3 minutes makes it fluffy and it melts in your mouth.  And the cinnamon flavor mixed with the sweet potato flavor makes the whole dish just scream fall.  And with fall comes Thanksgiving(:  This cake may just be on our Thanksgiving table this year...

Yield: 1 9x13 inch pan

1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking dish.
2.Stir together the sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and sweet potatoes. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a separate bowl; stir into the batter 1 cup at a time, alternating with the beer just until everything comes together. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
3.Bake for 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting (optional) or serving.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cream Cheese Frosting: 
  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


1 With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
2 Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sweet-and-Salty Tomato Chicken

  • This is the best chicken recipe I've ever made!  What I love the most about it is it's so unique; I've never tasted anything like it before.  It tastes like something prepared at a five-star restaurant.  The tomato sauce has the perfect amount of sweet and salty, and the red wine makes it oh-so savory.  It's light, but tastes rich and comforting all at the same time.  And the result is so incredibly tender.  It broke apart very easily; I didn't even need a knife!  Oh -- and the sauce is the best part.  The sauce is awesome dipped with bread, or poured over rice. yummy!  Add the amount of cayenne and red pepper flakes based on how spicy you like it.  I served this with a side of green beans and some crusty, french bread, and it was a phenomenal meal.
  • Yield: about 4 servings
  • Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts 
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 14.5 oz can plain, diced canned tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T white vineger
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • cayenne pepper to taste

  1. In a shallow dish or bowl, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper. Coat chicken breasts with flour mixture. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown chicken on all sides. Remove from skillet, and drain on paper towels.
  2. In the same skillet, combine the tomatoes, wine, chicken broth, brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt, chili powder, mustard, celery seed, garlic and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and return chicken to skillet. Cover, and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is tender, no longer pink and juices run clear.

5 Minute Coffee Cake In a Mug

Ohmygoodness.  This is pure GENIUS.  Who wants to go through the trouble of baking a huge pan of coffee cake one morning that would take over an hour to prepare when you're super hungry?? Not me, that's for sure..  I prefer eating not long after waking up.  This recipe is absolutely amazing.  It's SO delicious!  It's perfectly sweet, moist, buttery, and pairs perfectly with --- shocker --- coffee! I can honestly say it's one of the best coffee cakes I've ever had.  It's definitely THE BEST classic coffee cake I've ever had (yup, even yummier than Starbucks).  And it's ready in minutes.

You can find this incredible recipe here.  BUT make the alterations below!

The alterations I highly suggest are:
~Do not let the butter get melty. It should be softened; just soft enough to cream the sugar in.  You will get a much moister cake when the butter is soft like this.
~Cook it based on your microwave.  All microwaves are different levels of power. Check it after 45 seconds.  My microwave is pretty powerful, so my cake was perfectly cooked in only 45 seconds.  The very tippy-top was still slightly gooey (in a good way!), but the inside was definitely cooked.  To check, try sticking a knife into the center of yours to see if it comes out clean.
~Use 1 tablespoon of flour in the topping. The topping was way too floury with 2 tablespoons.  You may have to crumble it a little with your hands cause it was kind of wet, but super yummy.
~Mix half of the topping into the batter. This assures a delicious, buttery, brown sugary, cinnamon-y delight in every bite(: Instead of a heaping sugar-butter blob on top.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs

I'm not a huge fan of dressings.  Whenever I have a salad, I don't usually use that much dressing; its just never been my thing.  However, after making this recipe, my whole viewpoint of dressing completely changed.  Who knew that ranch dressing could make chicken so........wonderful??  The ranch dressing added sooo much incredibly delicious flavor to the chicken, and made it perfectly salty and wonderfully moist.  You truly can't get any moister than this chicken is.  This is definitely one of my new favorite chicken recipes.  Ohmygoodness, just typing about it makes me want to eat a bunch of it.  The chicken literally melts in your mouth, and it's super duper addicting.  The sauce is awesome too, especially over rice!

Yield: about 6 servings

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup ranch dressing
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste (optional)
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place chicken in the bowl, and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chocolate Chip-Apple-Cinnamon Bread


I wanna start off by saying that I am SO SORRY I haven't posted in so long!  My school started at the end of August and I've been super busy with my crazy schedule.  Buttt.... this recipe is totally worth the wait.  I made this a few weeks ago and I fell in love with the flavors of cinnamon, apples, and chocolate.  I know they sound kind of weird together, but I promise the flavor is really delicious.  I love the nutty flavor as well.  It's such a wonderful bread/cake to make in the fall, and goes great with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream when hot from the oven.  It also tastes divine the next day with a cup of coffee.  What I loved the most about this bread is that it has so many different flavors, textures, and ways to eat it!  My entire family gobbled it up within a day, and I will definitely make it again.  The next time I make it, I will experiment with walnuts, white chocolate chips, and maybe vanilla chips and/or cinnamon chips.  I also may try swirling the topping into the batter, or maybe even swirling in some - - - - wait for it...........Nutella! Yumm!

Yield: 1 loaf

2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used almonds, but walnuts would be my first choice)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1.5 cups chopped apples
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips (i used semi-sweet, but dark or white would be great too)

1.  To make the topping, in a small bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon and finely chopped nuts. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a separate large bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract, and mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in apples, nuts, and  chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with topping.
4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F (175 degree C) oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw

I do not like coleslaw with mayonnaise...yuck.  Mayonnaise in coleslaw is so heavy and gross, in my opinion. However, I love vinegar based coleslaw, and this is the BEST Cole Slaw recipe ever!!  America's Test Kitchen has yet another success.  I served this with barbecue sandwiches and it was such a delicious, southern meal.  This is now my go-to coleslaw recipe.

Published May 1, 2011.  From Cook's Illustrated.
To keep our coleslaw recipe crisp, we needed to find a way to make the cabbage shed its excess water. Our usual technique involves salting the cabbage for a few hours, but we were determined to speed up the process. We discovered that sugar, which we were already including in our coleslaw recipe, has the same effect on cabbage that salt does. Microwaving a batch of shredded slaw that we’d tossed with salt and sugar made it shed the same amount of liquid that it had taken three hours to release at room temperature. Cooling down our cabbage was easy: We simply chilled the dressing and then refrigerated the finished coleslaw for a few minutes. 


Do not use a pre-shredded coleslaw mix with this recipe; its texture and flavor are inferior to fresh cabbage. If you don’t have a salad spinner, use a colander to drain the cabbage, and press with a rubber spatula to remove all excess liquid. When it comes to the sweetness level of coleslaw, tastes vary. For this reason, prepare the coleslaw as directed and then season to taste with up to 2 teaspoons of sugar or up to 2 teaspoons of vinegar, adding one teaspoon at a time.


  • 1/4cup cider vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
  • 2tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2large green cabbage (about 1 pound), cored and shredded fine (about 6 cups)
  • 1/4cup sugar, plus extra for seasoning
  • Table salt
  • 1large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. 1. Combine 1/4 cup vinegar, oil, celery seed, and pepper in medium glass or metal bowl. Place bowl in freezer until vinegar mixture is well chilled, at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
  2. 2. While mixture chills, toss cabbage with ¼ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with large plate and microwave on high power for 1 minute. Stir briefly, re-cover, and continue to microwave on high power until cabbage is partially wilted and has reduced in volume by ¬one-third, 30 to 60 seconds longer.
  3. 3. Transfer cabbage to salad spinner and spin cabbage until excess water is removed, 10 to 20 seconds. Remove bowl from freezer, add cabbage, carrot, and parsley to cold vinegar mixture, and toss to combine. If desired, adjust flavor with sugar or vinegar. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes. Toss again before serving.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Oh my word, these were so scrumptious.  I brought these yummies to a cook out - attended by a bunch of hungry runners - and they disappeared before I had a chance to blink.  One runner said (and I quote!) "that may have been the best cupcake I've ever had."  The chocolate cupcakes themselves have the perfect amount of cocoa, are moist, fluffy, and aren't too sweet...allowing you to taste the chocolate more.  The frosting is definitely the BEST buttercream frosting I've ever had.  I have never used heavy cream in frosting before, and now I'll never stop!  Heavy cream makes the frosting so incredibly fluffy and melts in your mouth.  Using shortening in the frosting also gives it an amazing consistency; Not too runny, not too dense.  I don't think there's anything that compliments buttercream frosing better than rich, chocolate cupcakes. This recipe is truly perfection.

Yield: about 12 cupcakes

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one medium cupcake pan or line with paper liners.
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared muffin pan (batter should be just below the rim, for large cupcakes. For medium cupcakes, pour batter 2/3 to 3/4 full) and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, carefully remove cupcakes from pan, place on wire rack, and allow to cool completely.  Frost generously with Buttercream Frosting (recipe below).

For the Buttercream Frosting:


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and butter until fluffy. Add sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.
  2. Add salt, vanilla, and 6 ounces whipping cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add additional 2 ounces whipping cream if necessary. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy, at least 5 minutes.  Frost cooled cupcakes.  

You will have some frosting left over (I had about a cup) you can either use it for another recipe or eat it by the spoonful...your choice(;