Cheer-up Cupcakes

Well Jill still is pretty down about her boyfriend.  I do not know what we need to do to shake her out of this slump, but we thought that making her some nice food and having a whole morning of eating might just do the trick.  We know that she has been spending a lot of time alone as of late and has been eating a whole lot of ice cream.  She told us she has put on eight pounds in the last two weeks and that is not a good thing because she has always been at that weight where her doctors told her that she needs to be really careful.

Now true, if she is worried about her weight, it would make sense that we would not be giving her all of these really fatty and bad foods that would make things worse.  So we went a different route and tried to find deliciousness that was not too un-heart healthy.  I think that we did a really good job on that.  I have included the recipe here so that you too can be involved and get a sense of what the baking scene in Washington D.C. looks like.  Please let me know what your suggestions are after you have whipped up some of these goodies.

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon soda

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg whites

2/3 cups plain yogurt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Line 10 muffin cups with foil or paper liners.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, butter and vanilla on high speed for about 2 minutes, or until well mixed. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating for about a minute after each one. Now add the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt, in about 3 portions each, beating after each addition just until combined, and scraping down the sides to make sure everything is well mixed.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared cupcake pan and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick poked into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely on a rack.
  5. To assemble the Cupcake menorah, frost all the cupcakes with your choice of icing and decorate in any way your heart desires. Place 9 cupcakes in a row on a platter or foil-covered cardboard base. Raise the middle cupcake up higher than the others — the “shamash” or leader. Stick candles into each of the 9 positions. When it’s time to light the candles — enjoy the flickering flames while you eat dinner, then eat the menorah for dessert!

Chocolate Filed Crescents

While I still want to give you all some recipe ideas, I also want to give you some back story.  Most of the comments I receive about these creations, other than the ones telling me how good they, involve wanting to know where I experience them.  I’d like to say that I sample all the fancy restaurants in the D.C. area, but that simply isn’t the truth.  I happen to have made good friends who are in the know about recipes.  That and a couple of them working for catering businesses and they give us all the inside scoop.

 

This week I was meeting with Angela, who worked as a pasty chef at a restaurant for a few years in between undergraduate and law school.  She is probably the best friend that I have out here and if it was based solely on my friends’ abilities to bake tasty treats, she would win hands down.  After our discussion of internships and how each of us was doing with it (yes I told her all about my pants suit episode) she told me that she was going to make me something to forget all my troubles.  I somehow doubted that, but over the last year I’ve learned not to doubt Ang.

 

As she was whipping everything up in her kitchen, it reminded me of how many things I’m missing in my own.  When I moved up here, I left most of my baking utensils, pots and pans at home with my mother.  I guess you could say that I did my fair share of baking while I was at home, although I also know how to cook.  Not that I ever really get to do that for captive audiences anymore.  Again, a story for a different time.

 

Basically in the time that it took me to type that last paragraph, Ang had already started the preparation for her award winning (seriously) chocolate-filled crescents.  When all was said and done, it took her about 20 minutes to get it ready and 12 minutes to bake.  After feasting on these delectable goodies for a while, I asked her the recipe.  She gave me the one she wants published.  It isn’t as good as the ones she made me, but still pretty close.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup baking cocoa

3 tablespoon finely chopped pecans

2 tubes refrigerated crescent rolls

 

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons baking cocoa

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water

2 tablespoons butter, melted

½ teaspoon vanilla

 

In a bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in milk and vanilla.  Gradually add the cocoa.  Mix everything together.  Gently fold in the pecans.

 

Unroll the crescent dough and separate in to triangle shapes.  Spread about 2 rounded teaspoons of filling over each triangle all the way to ¼ inch of the edge.  Roll up each from the wide side.  Place the pointed side down on an un-greased baking sheet.  Curve them to make the corners have the crescent shape.

 

Bake them at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.  Remove them to a cooling rack.  While they cool, whip together the glaze ingredients until smooth.  Then drizzle them over the crescents.

 

This should give you about 16 amazing goodies for yourself or others.

Crouton-Topped Broccoli

I love croutons, so this is perfect for me.

1 package frozen chopped broccoli

2 tablespoons water

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cups cheese and garlic croutons (I used 3 cups :-D)

Place broccoli and water in a microwave safe dish.  Cover and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes; drain.  Stir in the soup, cheeses and milk.  Cover and microwave for 2 minutes or until cheeses are melted.  Sprinkle with croutons.

Enjoy!

Fruit Pizza

Something for those of you who don’t get your 3-4 servings of fruits on a daily basis.

1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 cup sugar, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 cups halved fresh strawberries (you need to go fresh)

1 medium peach, sliced thin

1 small banana, sliced thin

1 small apple, sliced thin

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Let dough stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften.  Press onto an ungreased 14 inch pizza pan.  Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes.  Cool on rack.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and juices.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Set aside to cool

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, milk, orange peel and remaining sugar until blended.  In a small mixing bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form; fold into cream cheese mix.  Spread on crust.  Arrange fruit.  Spread with reserved glaze.  Refrigerate until chilled.

Taco Crescent Bake

1 tube (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls

2 cups crushed corn chips, divided

1.5 lbs ground beef

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 cup (8 oz) sour cream

1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese

Grease a 13 x 9 pan

Unroll crescent dough (don’t separate), press into the bottom and sides of the pan

Seal seams

Sprinkle with one cup of chips; set aside

Brown ground beef and drain

Stir in tomato sauce and taco seasoning, bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes

Spoon over chips, top with sour cream, cheese, and remaning chips

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 25-20 minutes or until crust is a light brown

Crumb-Coated Ranch Chicken

2/3 cup ranch salad dressing

2 cups crushed cornflakes

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Pour salad dressing into a shallow bowl.  In another shallow bowl, combine the cornflake crumbs, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.  Dip chicken in dressing, then coat with crumb mix.

Place in a greased shallow baking pan.  Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear.

Tangy Asparagus Potato Salad

I’m still on the asparagus kick.  It is so good for you though.

4 small red potatoes, cut into small wedges

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 pound fresh asparagus, cut

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced chives

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water.  Bring to a boil; cook for 5-6 minutes or just until tender.

In a large skilled, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil.  Add the asparagus ; cover and boil for 3 minutes.  Drain and immediately place the asparagus in ice water.  Drain and pat dry.  Cut into 1 inch pieces

Drain potatoes and place in a large bowl; add asparagus.  In a small bowl combine the mustard and lemon juice; whisk in oil until combined.  Add chives, salt, and pepper.  Pour over vegetables and toss to coat.  Serve warm.

Vegetables are good for you

I find myself craving junk food more and more lately.  I told myself that I need to eat more vegetables, so I found this quick little way to make them more edible.

Roasted Asparagus

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place the asparagus on an ungreased baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper; turn to coat.  Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

You can save whatever you don’t eat by tossing it in a tupperware container and throwing it in the fridge.

Chicken and Chile Rice Stuffed Peppers

I’ve tried making these twice. The first time I made them, they were great. The last time I whipped them up, they were terrible. I was talking on the phone when I made them the second time, so it wouldn’t surprise me if I screwed up. It is also a really cheap recipe. Let me know what you think!

1 (15 oz) can Green Chile Sauce with Chicken

3 cups hot cooked long grain white rice (I like brown rice personally)

3 cups cooked chicken, cubed

5 large green bell peppers

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Spray a 9″ x 13″ dish with non-stick .

3) In a large bowl, mix the green chilie sauce with hot rice and cubed chicken. Set aside.

4) Assemble bell peppers by cutting in half and removing the membranes. Then fill each pepper half with the rie and chicken, dividing evenly.

5) Place pepper halves in the prepared baking dish and bake covered for 45 minutes.

6) Top each pepper with cheese and chopped red bell pepper. Bake uncovered an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Yields 5 servings.

Springtime Seasonings

I thought I would bring you a recipe that was recommended to me by a reader.  I’ve never tried this before, but I think it will come together nicely.  This loyal reader told me it is definitely a frugal recipe and makes at least six meals.  Here we go!

Salmon with Curry Chutney Sauce

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 salmon fillets (4-6 oz each)

2 tablespoons butter

2/4 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup mango chutney

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)

In a resealable plastic bag mix the flour, salt, and curry.  Put the salmon in then.  Close the bag and shake it so that the fish is coated.  Then, get a large skilled and cook the salmon in butter for 5-6 minutes per side.

In a pot, mix the broth, chutney and hot pepper sauce.  Bring it all to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer uncovered for 3-5 minutes.  Put it over the salmon.