Friday, July 29, 2011

White Cupcakes with Vanilla Almond Frosting

I made these for a baby shower this week and had several requests for the recipe so here it is. They are yummy for sure! 

White Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
4 egg whites
1 1/3 c. water
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 c. sour cream (I use light)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

whisk together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and beat until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and cook according to box directions. Watch carefully towards the end so they don't get too brown.

Makes 30-34 cupcakes
cake recipe from our best bites

Vanilla Almond Frosting
1 c. unsalted butter, softened 
3-4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract 
1/4 c. milk

*If you like stronger almond flavor use 1 tsp. each of vanilla and almond extracts

Cream butter with mixer. Beat in milk, extracts and 3 cups powdered sugar. Add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Andrea's Gooey Caramel Popcorn

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large bowl popcorn- with the un-popped kernels removed

In a medium saucepan combine butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. If you have a candy thermometer, heat caramel to softball stage. Otherwise, just allow the caramel to boil for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat.

This popcorn is best warm, but saves well and is a favorite treat for family night, parties, and for our family trip to the beach every year!

Monday, July 11, 2011

BLT Coleslaw

I used to make a dish similar to this one when I was first married, but have long since lost the recipe. Last week I recreated it to the best of my recollection and we loved it! This is a perfect side dish for barbecues and Summer meals!

1 (16 oz.) bag coleslaw mix
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. white vinegar
1 Tbs. oil (vegetable, canola or olive)
2 Tbs. light mayonnaise
1/4-1/2  tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Black pepper, to taste

Place coleslaw mix in a large serving bowl. Add bacon and tomatoes and stir well. Mix dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over coleslaw. Mix well. Refrigerate until serving. Serves 6.

Fruit Tart Dessert ("Fruit Pizza")

This is another 4th of July-inspired dessert that my daughter loves to make. Fruit tart has always been one of her favorite desserts and I admit, I am partial to it as well. We use homemade sugar cookie dough (try this one or this one or this one), but you could very easily save time with the store-bought refrigerated sugar cookie dough. We made this version red, white and blue, but you can use many different kinds of sliced fruit. It just tastes like Summer to me! Recipe adapted from Kraft.

2 cups sugar cookie dough (homemade, or use a 20 oz. roll of refrigerated dough)
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) vanilla instant pudding mix (I use sugar-free)
1 1/4 cups cold milk
1 cup thawed whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)
2 cups sliced mixed fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, mandarin oranges...)
Miniature marshmallows (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 375° F. Line a 12" pizza pan with foil; spray with cooking spray. Roll out cookie dough to form a crust. Flute the edges, if desired. Bake 14-16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely. Carefully remove cookie from pan and foil; place on a serving plate.
  2. Beat pudding mix and milk in a large bowl for 2 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in whipped topping; spread onto cooled crust.
  3. Top with sliced fruit. Refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.
NOTES: If pizza pan is not available, trace a 12-inch circle on parchment paper or foil and place on rectangular. Place cookie dough onto circle pattern. Bake as directed.

Best if eaten the same day you make it. Serves 16.

Broken Glass Jello

My daughter and I made a few red, white and blue food items to celebrate the 4th of July last week. I came across this recipe from You could use any colors of Jello to suit your taste and purpose. While Jello is not my favorite, my kids just loved these!

1 (6 oz.) box red Jell-o gelatin (I used sugar-free Raspberry)
1 (6 oz.) box blue Jell-o gelatin (I used Berry Blue)
4 cups boiling water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (Such as Knox)
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (I used Fat-Free) 
  1. In 2 separate (9 x 13") rectangular pans, sprinkle each box of Jell-o. Add 2 cups of boiling water to each pan. Stir until the gelatin dissolves. Put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or until firm. 
  2. Spray a clean 9 x 13" pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cut each flavor of Jell-o into small blocks. Carefully mix the blocks of Jell-o in the prepared pan.
  3. In a different bowl, sprinkle 2 pouches of unflavored gelatin into 1/2 cup cold water and stir to combine. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water and mix until the gelatin dissolves. Add the can of sweetened condensed milk. Stir and cool.
  4. Pour the milk mixture over the Jell-o blocks and stick it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (or overnight). 
  5. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve. Makes about 28 servings.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

I made this cake for my husband for his Birthday and can I just say it is divine!!! It's a little more work than your average chocolate cake but it's definitely worth the extra effort.

*from Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes Issue 

12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch round by 2 inch high cake pans with butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess.  Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate ins melted, about 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1-2 minutes.  Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.  Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl.  In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds.  Add remaining 1 1/4 C sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2-3 minutes.  Replace whisk with paddle attachment.  Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.  Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition.  Add about 1/3 of flour mixture; followed by half of buttermilk mixture mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds.)   Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated.) Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.  Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25-30minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack.  Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45-60 minutes.
Note: Don’t make the frosting until the cakes are cooled, and use the frosting as soon as it is ready.  If the frosting gets too stiff to spread easily, wrap the mixer bowl with a towel soaked in hot water and mix on low speed until the frosting is creamy and smooth.  Refrigerated leftover cake should sit at room temperature before serving until the frosting softens.

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (chocolate chips work)
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp table salt
1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
Melt Chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted.  Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes.  Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of stand mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.
Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1-2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees).  Place bowl on stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth.  *If you find after beating, your frosting is still too soft for your liking, try chilling in the fridge until it sets up a little more.

Monday, July 4, 2011

German-Style Hamburgers

I went to look up this recipe yesterday here on this blog and was shocked to find that I'd never posted it. This is a recipe that I've made for nearly 10 years and my kids always request it for the 4th of July. It's a simple recipe, but distinctive enough to be special. Recipe from Taste of Home magazine. 
Happy 4th of July!!!

1/2 cup shredded hash brown potatoes (thawed, if frozen)*
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pound ground beef

In a bowl, combine potatoes, onion, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. (I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment for less mess:) Shape into 4 patties, about 1/2 inch thick. In a skillet (or on a sheet of tin foil on the grill), cook patties over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, or until no longer pink, turning once. Serve on buns with your choice of condiments: Lettuce, tomato, sliced pickles, avocado, ketchup, or my favorite, honey mustard.
Serves 4.

*If you have extra hash browns to use, try this Zucchini Potato Pie.

Sand Art Brownies

 My oldest daughter made this brownie jar for Father's Day in her church Activity Days recently. We thought the gift of the beautiful jar was a cute idea, but then we made and tasted the brownies and... YUM! Recipe from Monica Torpy.

Layer in a large mason jar:
  1. 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 tsp. salt
  3. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  5. 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  6. 2/3 cup white sugar
  7. 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  8. 1/2 cup white (vanilla) baking chips
Directions to make brownies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175° C). Grease a 9 x 9" square baking dish. Pour the contents of the jar into a large bowl and mix well. Stir in:
  1. 1 tsp. vanilla
  2. 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  3. 3 eggs
Mix until just combined, then pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Serves 12.
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