Monday, May 30, 2011


This is actually a recipe that Matt whipped up for Breakfast on Friday morning. I had taken a PTO day so he made us breakfast that morning. He scrambled some eggs up with a chopped vidalia onion and some cut up sausages. He added this smoothie to go with it and it was perfect! 

I really like smoothies but don't want to purchase them everyday. Our only options around our house for smoothies are either McDonald's or Caribou. Neither of which I consider to be real smoothies.

This one is super easy and our magic bullet makes it even easier! Smoothies in about 5 minutes flat for uber cheap!

Source: Amy's Kitchen Creation Original

1 cup frozen fruit (we used a blend of strawberries, blueberries, melons and grapes from Aldi)
1 cup (8oz) orange juice

Put both ingredients into the magic bullet and blend until you reach your desired consistency. We like ours thin but not too thin.

What I love most about the bullet is that there is no additional cleanup. You make your smoothie in the same cup you'll drink from. One dish is dirtied and no time is wasted!

Here's something my dear 'ol Husband doesn't know... when I made his smoothie tonight (he's been sick and requested a smoothie for 'dessert') I added 2 tsp of flax seed. hehehe Feel free to add flax seed or any other extra ingredients for added nutrition, I bet you'll never notice!

We were at Aldi again the other day and picked up a different fruit blend. I can't wait to try it. Smoothies are definitely an easy way to get in your daily recommended fruits. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My Mom recently had a Birthday and I offered to make her Birthday dessert. I was eager to try my hand at red velvet cake and this was the perfect occasion. I asked her if she wanted a cake or cupcakes and she chose Birthday cupcakes! Awesome! Cupcakes are easy, transportable and always well received.

I've never eaten red velvet cake before. I always had this preconceived notion that it would taste 'funny'... as if there was an absurd ingredient in it or something. Who knows. I was wrong. I was so wrong. These were phenomenal. They were perfectly moist and oh so delicious. Oh, and that cream cheese frosting? It was TDF (to.die.for). Definitely the perfect companion for my new beloved red velvet.

Annie never lets me down. I found this red velvet recipe on her website and it was perfect.

The batter is a beautiful, deep red color!
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: Annie's Eats
Yield: about 24 cupcakes

For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

For the frosting (see note at end)
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. In my picture I used a Ziploc bag with a hole snipped at the end. My Mom doesn't have piping bags on hand (not many people I know do) and I didn't think to bring one with.

*Annie recommends to increase the quantities by 50% to make more frosting. This will allow you to have more frosting on your cupcake and if you're swirling it by using a large star tip, you'll want to have the additional frosting. You may end up with some frosting leftover, but hey, you'd rather have that than to be short frosting, right?

I had these cute edible decorations left from Christmastime and I used those to decorate a few of the cupcakes. Although they are edible, I don't think they're desirable. I don't know about you but when I'm eating a cupcake, I really don't want to bite into a hard crunch. I think they're really pretty on these cupcakes though. It really makes them look elegant; like little pearls.

Banana Walnut Muffins

Eeek. I didn't realize my picture was that bad. I guess that's what I get for taking pictures at 10:30pm  in an already dark kitchen. See that cute stand that I have my muffins on though? I saw my Mom had one when we were visiting and she said that she got them at Walmart for $3! When I was there the next day, lo and behold they still had some in stock! I grabbed two of these black ones and a white wire bowl that is currently housing my apples.

Anyway... back to the muffins... My Mom had made some muffins a few days ago and passed this recipe along.

Banana Walnut Muffins
Adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis

2.5 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flax seed
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup applesauce (original recipe calls for vegetable oil)
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
4 mashed bananas

Preheat your oven to 350*. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, table salt, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, flax seed and walnuts, . Stir to lightly combine.
In a separate large bowl, combine your sugars, oil or applesauce, vanilla, eggs and mashed bananas. Make sure to mash your bananas completely or you'll end up with banana chunks that won't bake properly during the baking time (trust me, i know.)

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
If you're not using cupcake liners, generously grease a muffin pan with baking non-stick spray. Divide the batter evenly into the cups. I filled them 3/4 full to almost completely full. I got two pans out of the recipe, so 24 muffins total.

WW info: 5pts per muffin

These would be a great breakfast combined with a smoothie and a small yogurt. Light, refreshing and filling!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

I'm really not a fan of peanut butter in treats like this. If I'm going to eat peanut butter I'd rather have a PB&J sandwich. I know, I know some people may now be considering me insane. But, it's true.

These little morsels may be a game changer though. My willpower and I can beat these little guys. I had a few of them the day I brought them to work, but that was it. I was satisfied without them. Yay!

They're really very easy to make. If you've got some pretzels, peanut butter, melting chocolate (I used almond bark) a few other ingredients and a little bit of time set aside, you too can make these! 

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp butter, room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pretzels (round pretzels or even the square ones will do!)
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (or almond bark)

In a small bowl, beat the peanut butter and butter together until smooth and creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract until well mixed – you may need to add more to get the filling thick and stiff enough to hold its shape.

Roll teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture between your palms to form balls. Sandwich between two pretzels and put on a plate or cookie sheet. Freeze the pretzel sandwiches for half an hour.
Melt the chocolate according to package directions. (I put mine in the microwave for 30 seconds and then stirred it around and it was good enough. It all melted together nicely after being stirred around)

Dip each pretzel sandwich in chocolate, about halfway. If you're really feeling crazy, dip the whole darn thing. People will get a surprise bite of pretzel-y peanut butter-y goodness when they bite in. Kind of like those Take 5 candy bars! 

I set each dipped pretzel sandwich on waxed paper to let them all dry.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

This was a fabulous, filling meal. I've had taquitos at restaurants before, usually in their appetizer samplers. They've always been pretty good. I'm pretty certain that they're always fried though. Which is obviously, why they taste so good :-)

This recipe was SO simple to prepare. Honestly. I cooked the chicken the night before, let it cool, put it in the refrigerator and then the next night it took all of about twenty minutes to prepare and only about 15 minutes in the oven. Super simple!

As you can see, there was enough filling to feed an army! I used a whole package of 10 tortillas. I made burritos with it because I knew I'd need to break into another pack of tortillas with all of that filling and I really didn't want to.

I love how crispy these got in the oven without getting too crispy. I wish I would have been better prepared. These would have gone great with some lettuce, fresh salsa, gresh guacamole and sour cream. A very quick and delicious meal for any night of the week. These would be perfect as an appetizer as well.

Go easy on the spice and you've got yourself a perfect kid-friendly, finger food meal! You could even reserve a bit of the chicken mixture, without any of the seasoning to make some for the kids; then continue on and spice it up to your tastes.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Adapted from: Annie's Eats

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Vine Ripened Salsa from Tastefully Simple
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (I used bottled)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin (I omitted)
1/2 tsp onion powder (I omitted)
2 tsp Garlic Garlic from Tastefully Simple
3 tbsp chopped cilantro (I used cilantro cubes)
2 tsp Onion Onion from Tastefully Simple
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese (any cheese will do)
10 tortillas (approx. 6 inch size)
1 tbsp Ole Ole Fiesta Sauce from Tastefully Simple
a pinch or two of coarse salt

Preheat your oven to 425. I lightly sprayed a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. You could use parchment paper or a silpat as well.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, spices, cilantro, chicken, fiesta sauce and shredded cheese. Mix thoroughly until well combined.

If you need to, microwave your tortillsa just a little to make sure that they're flexible enough for tightly rolling.
Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up tightly around the filling. Place them seam side down on your baking sheet. Continue this process with the remaining filling and tortillas. Filling them more/less to your liking.

Line them up, evenly spaced on your cookie sheet and lightly spray the tops of them with cooking spray. Take a pinch of your salt and sprinkle it over the tops. Don't skip this step. It may sound odd, but it'll be delicious.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve plain or with your favorite toppings.

I'm bummed that I didn't take any other pictures. If you want a drool-icious photo, go check out Annie's post.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Perfect Party Cookies

I've really been on a baking kick lately. I just love to be in the kitchen and baking. I love when my recipes turn out, I love when my kitchen smells of whatever is happily baking in the oven, I love the smiles on faces when someone tries something I make and they enjoy it. Baking is also a great stress reliever for me.

The only thing I don't love? Having cakes, cookies, muffins, cupcakes sitting at home and staring me in the face. I do not have very strong willpower. I will eat them. So, when I can make something and bring it to someone or somewhere I'm the happiest! I get to do something that I enjoy, gift it to someone and call it a day without adding any calories to my daily intake.

I made a double batch of these cookies one day last week to bring to my Dentist appointment and to a staff meeting at work. Who brings a box of cookies to their Dentist, right? Well, my Mom used to work at this Dentist office so I know them pretty well. I knew they wouldn't mind getting a little box of sweets for a lunch time treat.

They went over well at both locations. The Dentist emailed me and said "I just ate one of those chocolate chip cookies and thought I had died and gone to Heaven. THANK YOU soooo much for bringing them in. You are the best." Now, if that's not a compliment, I don't know what is. At our staff meeting, a coworker had three of them before we even left the meeting room. Again, I'd say that's a pretty good compliment.

You will not be disappointed when you make these cookies. They're so easy to prepare and not to mention, you don't get that many dishes dirty. You don't even need a kitchenaid/stand mixer! I mixed this all up with a spatula! One thing to note, if you're doubling the batch like I did, make sure you have enough sprinkles on hand. You'll need 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) of sprinkles. I might have a sprinkle obsession and had plenty of them, but I don't know if non-baking households will have a sprinkle surplus like I did.

This would be perfect  to make with kids. Not too many ingredients, simple measurements and they look fun and festive. They're sure to catch a kid's eye!

This was my second time making a double batch. Can you tell I had to get creative with my sprinkle options? We've got a little Christmas sprinkles, some Spring-time sprinkles and some rainbow sprinkles.

Perfect Party Cookies
Source: Stephanie Cooks

1 cup of flour
1 cup of boxed yellow cake mix
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter melted & cooled slightly
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
4 tbsp sprinkles of your choice

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together your flower, cake mix and soda, set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until slightly creamy. Add the sugars and stir well.Add the flour mixture, stir well to combine. Add your chocolate chips and sprinkles, sitr well to combine.

(At this point in Stephanie's recipe, she says to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes because the dough will be runny. I've made these twice now and did not have runny dough either time. Use your discretion. If your dough is runny, refrigerate for 30 minutes. If it's not, you could charge on and not worry about refrigeration.)

Using a cookie scoop, place dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Keep dough cool in between batches. I did put mine in the refrigerator while a batch was baking.

Bake 12-15 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center sets. Cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and remove to a wire rack.

Personally, I love a cookie that is a little crisp but also a little chewy so I took them out at the 12 minute mark, let them cool on the sheet and then transferred them to the wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies were even worthy of me taking out my cookie jar from the cupboard! I still have some dough at home in the refrigerator. I think I'm going to bake up some cookies and sell them, bake sale style, at my garage sale this weekend. Like I said, I don't want to add too many calories to my daily intake!

For some reason, when I made these last night again, they ended up being really thin. They spread out so much on my cookie sheet. I ended up only being able to put 6 on a cookie sheet at a time because they spread so thin. Personally, I loved them this way. The outside was just crisp enough, but they were still chewy. My Husband said "I feel like I'm eating a wafer." However, her liked them enough to still eat two.

I'm not sure what I did. I think because I was multi-tasking in the kitchen, I probably added a little bit too much, or not enough, of something. I still enjoy them, but just make sure to watch your measuring!  

Or else you'll end up with a giganto cookie!