Thursday, March 29, 2012

Neapolitan Layer Cake (with marshmallow frostings)

I had so much fun experimenting with this recipe.  I found my inspiration on Pinterest (follow us using the link on the right!) and went with it!

I thought it would be delicious with some marshmallow frostings...nice and light and fluffy.  And since this cake was for Caleb's birthday, and he's not a lover of traditional frosting, I thought this would be perfect for him.  Guess what?  He liked it!

Score for Mom!:)

The kids all really liked the Strawberry frosting the best & although I am a chocolate lover and thought that would be my favorite, I am absolutely in love with the vanilla frosting!!  IT. IS. TO. DIE. FOR!  Can't wait to try it on some cupcakes!

Neapolitan Layer Cake

For Cake:
1 box Devil's food cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 3 9 inch round cake pans, set aside.

Mix all ingredients together in your blender until batter is smooth.  Pour 1/3 of the batter into each pan.  Using a spatula spread batter evenly into each pan. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn the cakes out of their pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Now to make the frostings.  Make one at a time and just put them in a tupperware and set them in the fridge until you're ready to frost your cake.

For Chocolate Marshmallow frosting:
1 jar (7 oz.) Marshmallow Creme
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavored shortening
1/4 cup half and half
8 oz. Cool Whip

Beat the marshmallow creme, powdered sugar, melted chocolate (make sure it is room temp.), shortening, and half and half until smooth.  Add the Cool Whip and beat until just combined.
(As you can probably tell in the picture, the chocolate frosting isn't as "fluffy" as the others.  I'll let you in on a secret...I forgot the cool whip...ooops!:))

For Vanilla Marshmallow frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 jar (7 oz.) Marshmallow Creme
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz. Cool Whip

Beat cream cheese, marshmallow cream and vanilla.  Add the cool whip and beat just until blended.

For Strawberry Marshmallow frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 packet of Strawberry Kool-aid
1 cup Marshmallow Creme
8 oz. Cool Whip

Cream together cream cheese and kool aid powder, scraping sides often.  Mix in marshmallow creme until incorporated.  Add the cool whip and mix until just combined.

To assemble:
Place first layer of cake on cake platter or plate.  Top with chocolate frosting.
Lay another cake on top of the chocolate frosting and then top with Vanilla frosting.
Now add the last cake and then top with the strawberry frosting.
Sprinkle with chocoalte sprinkles.

Here's the Birthday Boy with his cake!:)
(Bad picture...shouldn't have had him sittin if front of the window!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taco Cupcakes

When Caleb (11 year old) told me he wanted Spanish Rice and Ravioli's for his birthday dinner, I was kind of grossed out. (ok, a LOT grossed out!)  Not because I don't like either one, but because they just don't go together.  So I made him choose.  He decided he'd rather have Spanish rice than the ravioli's and I told him I'd find something great to go with it.  And I did!

When you say the words taco's and cupcakes in the same sentence, it just doesn't sound appealing in the least to me.  But trust me when I say these are a kids dream!!  If your kiddo's like taco's they will love these!

And I love that they can be "dressed up" for adults too.  Add some sour cream and guacamole and you've got a little piece of Taco Cupcake heaven!! 

And to make these even more appealing...they are on the light side!  Each cupcake has 164 calories (without the sour cream or guacamole) and is 4 WW points!

Taco Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Emily Bites
1 pound lean ground beef (or lean ground turkey or chicken)
1 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
wonton wrappers (found in the produce section)
queso dip (I used Tostitos)
Chunky Salsa
1-1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (use reduced fat for calories and WW points listed above)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brown beef (of meat of choice) with taco seasoning in a frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the black beans and cook a few minutes until heated through.

Grease 2 muffin tins lightly with cooking spray.  Push a wonton wrapper in the bottom each cup.  Spoon a teaspoon of queso into the bottom and spread.  Follow with a spoonful of meat mixture, then a spoonful of salsa, and then sprinkle with some cheese.

Take more wonton wrappers and place over cheese, with corners of wrapper in between the corners of the first layer wrappers. Repeat the layers.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the wonton wrappers are golden brown.  Let them cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Serve plain or topped with sour cream and guacamole!  YUM!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

I found this recipe on Pinterest this last week when I was searching for a cool cupcake for my now 11 year old Caleb to take to school and share with his class for his birthday.  (Wow, that was a long sentence!)

I knew he'd love it since one of his favorite things in the world is Sonic's Cherry limeade drinks.  And since our family is off soda for this entire school year (it's been almost 7 months...the kids are doing great!!!) I thought this might be the perfect thing for him!

They turned out so cute & were one of the best things I've ever eaten.  And I love that they just shout SPRING.  And to top it all off, it was such a beautiful day too.  I got a little bit of sun while watching Caleb play soccer at recess before treat time. 

Such a great day!

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats

For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons limeade concentrate
3 eggs
3/4 cup half and half
green food coloring

For the lime topping:
1/4 cup limeade concentrate
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar

For the frosting:
7 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
5-7 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice (1 jar is enough to make 24 cupcakes)
fresh lime slices
maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking  powder and baking soda.  Set aside.

In your mixer, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar and beat until creamed.  Add the limeade concentrate and mix to incorporate.  Add the eggs one at a lime and mix in.  It will look pretty disgusting at this point, but don't worry you're doing it right!!  Add 1/3 of the flour and mix just until incorporated, then half of the half and half, and mix, another 1/3 of flour...mix, rest of the half and half...mix, and end with the flour, all mixing just until incorporated.  Mix in green food coloring to desired greenness.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 the way full (a large cookie scoop works great for this).  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, start making the lime topping.  Whisk together the limeade concentrate and powdered sugar until there are no lumps. 

Dip the tops of each cupcake into the lime mixture.  Keep it upside down for a little bit to let any excess drip back into your bowl.  Like so...

Place cupcakes back on the wire rack while you make the frosting.

Combine the powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and about 5 tablespoons of cherry juice in your mixer.  Mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated and then beat on medium high until smooth.  Add more cherry juice until it reaches the desired consistency.

Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.  Top with a maraschino cherry and 1/4 of a lime wedge.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

We made this recipe a while back & I had totally forgotten about it until this morning when I stumbled upon it going through my gazillion photos. 

It's kind of embarrassing how many pictures of food I have.  And it always makes me hungry when I go looking through them.  It's not good!:)

So, this recipe was really good and so easy to throw together.  Serve it with some green salad and Garlic Bread & you've got yourself a winner of a dinner!:)

Sour Cream Noodle Bake
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 pound ground beef
2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1 package (12 oz.) Egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown beef in large skillet.  Drain fat and then add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper.  Stir together and turn to low and let simmer.

Cook the noodles until al dente (according to package directions).  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl mix sour cream and cottage cheese and green onions.  Add the noodles to the bowl and stir to coat. 

Put half of the noodle mixture into a baking dish (9 x 13 pan works or a casserole dish is good too).  Top with the meat mixture and then sprinkle with half of the cheese.  Repeat layers. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Taco Seasoning Mix & Chicken Soft Tacos

We love hearing from our readers.  In comments, e-mails, through facebook, in person, you name it!!  Even if it's just a little hello, it really makes our day!

This last week we received an e-mail from a reader that just sent us over the moon!  Some of the things she shared in her e-mail were perfectly stated that I just had to share! (with her permission)

These are her words: 

"I've lived away from my family (who love food) for most of my adult life after leaving for college and I often find myself on the phone with my Mom asking her for a recipe of a favorite dish.  If I can learn how to make it, I can recreate a sense of home no matter where I happen to be. I think a culinary legacy is a very important part of family life not only to draw from in the present but also to connect us with our past as well as to pass on to future generations....I think it's terrific that your culinary legacy is being created and shared from generation to generation.  Our food tells the story of who we are."

Sounds a lot like me.  If you've been a follower of this blog for a while you know I'm always calling home getting recipes from my Mom as well. 

There are just certain dishes that will always remind me of a loved one.  Carrot Pudding with Lemon Sauce (Grandma Wilson), Aloha-Soyu Marinade (Brother Jared and wife Candy), Frape (my Dad), Mom's famous Spudnuts (my Mom), Jello Poke Cake (brother Chad), and the list could go on and on and on. 

Thanks Blayne for your wonderful words and for letting me share them with our readers!!

Taco Seasoning Mix & Chicken soft Tacos
Budget Dinner Totals: Chicken for tacos=$5.21 and makes about 12 tacos, which equals 43 cents per taco. (tortilla, rice, cheese, lettuce, sour cream & any other ingredients you stuff in there are not included in this total.)
  For the Taco Seasoning Mix:
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons salt
4 teaspoons cornstartch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons beef bullion granules
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

Combine all ingredient and mix together.  Store in an airtight container for up to a year.  (I did the best I could figuring out how much the seasoning would cost.  From my estimations this recipe would cost you about 36 cents.  That means every tablespoon of seasoning mix you use is gonna cost you a whoppin' .06 cents...that's 1/6th of a penny!!!)
For the chicken:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup water

Cut chicken into bite size pieces.  Heat oil in large frying pan.  Add the chicken and cook until browned and chicken is cooked through.  Add the water and taco seasoning and stir to combine. 

Serve in warm tortillas with Spanish Rice, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

Everyone needs a perfect Cream Cheese frosting in their arsenal of recipes.  If you still have not found "the one", HERE IT IS! 

I use to buy the store made cream cheese frosting (gasp!), but since finding this recipe a few years back, I never want to see store bought cream cheese frosting again!! (well, never is a strong word, but if I can help it I will always make this recipe!)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
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2 packages (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until combined well.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk and beat again.

This recipe makes a lot.  It will frost 24+ cupcakes piping it on (like the above picture), if you are just going to spread it on cupcakes you could half the recipe and have plenty. 

It is perfect on Pumpkin Bars & Spice & Carrot cakes/cupcakes.  It is also delicious on Chocolate and Vanilla cakes/cupcakes (pictured is on a vanilla cake & it was delicious!!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Glass Block Jello (and other St. Patty's Day food ideas)

It's so much fun to eat green on St. Patricks day!  It had always been a challenge for me to find the perfect "green" food for my family to eat (since they're not into the corned beef and cabbage thing!), but I now have the best St. Patty's Day dinner's that the kids LOVE!!
It's a pretty simple meal. 

I make chicken quesadillas.  Of course we use the Spinach Tortillas (kid's can't even tell the difference) and then just fill them with shredded chicken and cheese.  Serve it with some Guacamole and sour cream, or with green salsa.
We then have a fun side to go with it.  You can just make it simple and have a green salad, or Pistachio Jello Salad, or the Glass Block Jell-O (the recipe you will get today!)

For drinks you can serve Frape or Lime Kool-aid.
And best of all...Dessert!  Here's a few of my favorites for you.  Mint Brownies, Jello Poke Cake, and Mint and Chocolate Chip Cupcakes.

Glass Block Jello
Recipe from Our Best Bites
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4 3-oz. packages lime Jello
2 packets unflavored gelatin (like Knox)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring 4 cups of to a boil. Combine the 4 packages of Jello with boiling water and stir until Jello is dissolved.  Pour into 9 x 13 pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but overnight is better.
After your Jello is set, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil.  In the meantime, sprinkle 2 packages of unflavored gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water and allow it to stand for 4 minutes. 
When the water is boiling, pour it over the dissolved gelatin and stir to combine.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix well.  Let cool to room temperature.
Spray another 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Cut the lime Jello into cubes and put them in the new 9 x 13 pan.  Pour the cooled milk mixture over the Jello.  Make sure they are all distributed evenly and that they are not sticking out of the milk mixture too much. 

Place in the fridge to chill overnight.  Cut into squares and serve to your little leprechauns!:)   (If you happen to have a four-leaf clover cookie cutter, that would be darling too!

NOTE:  This Jello can be made with any flavor and colors you would like.  Try red for Valentines, Red and green for Christmas, a variety for fun, etc.
Here's a picture of our St. Patty's Day meal last year....YUM!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Knock Your Socks Off Brownies

This recipe is originally called Knock You Naked Brownies.  The name intrigued me (since I'm a brownie LOVER.  Here's some of my favorites we've posted: Sea Salt Brownies, Best Brownies Ever, Congo Bars, and Mint Brownies), but I didn't think it was appropriate for my little ones. Especially since Eli wanted these to be brought for his class for his birthday last week. 

So we renamed them. 

I figured even if they just knock off your socks they've gotta be good, they don't have to knock off all your clothes to be heavenly!  Agreed?  Good.

And just in case you're wondering, all the little 3rd graders kept telling me I was the best cook, one boy even told me that if I opened up a bakery shop I would make millions!
They ARE that good!

Knock Your Socks Off Brownies
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman
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2 boxes German Chocolate Cake Mix
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup (2 stick) butter, melted
60 whole caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together the cake mixes, 2/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter.  It will be thick, just make sure it's all combined well. 

Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a well-greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Brownies will not be fully cooked.
Melt caramels with the 1/2 cup evaporated milk in a microwave safe bowl.  About 1 minutes intervals, stirring in between works well in my microwave.  When caramels are melted, pour over the brownies.  Sprinkle with the pecans and chocolate chips. 
Put the remaining brownie batter on your work surface (lightly spray it with cooking spray and it will make the process easier) and using your hands shape it just a little smaller than the 9 x 13 rectangle.  I then cut it in half (it's easier to move that way), and then place on top of pecans and chocolate chips.  Do the same with the other piece as well.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.  Then refrigerate for several hours.  When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the top (optional), cut and enjoy!

We put them in baggies and added a cute little Happy Birthday Eli sticker to them for his class.  (Which is why we didn't add the powdered sugar, but they look and taste delicious with it!)
Can't believe my little Eli is 9!!  Only one more year then we've only got one left in single digits!  Crazy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Buttermilk Caramel Syrup

This is my favorite syrup ever!!  It is so good on Buttermilk Pancakes, Mom's Waffles, french toast, African Pancakes, etc. 

It's also to die for on vanilla ice cream, or any other dessert that call for a caramel sauce!

We had it on our African Pancakes last night & as I was oohing and aahhing about how good it was I may have said that I could just drink the stuff.  Well, Tony (hubby) and the kids started egging me on & it turned into a bet, and I'm ashamed to say I gave into temptation.  (that darn competitive streak in me!) 

I poured the syrup right into my mouth.  Ok, actually it came out a little faster than I was expecting and most of it hit my chin and drippled all down my neck and onto my shirt.  Tony was laughing so hard he had to leave the table for a minute.

It was delicious (at least the little bit that hit my mouth)!

Give it a try.  (Not the drinking of it, but on something wonderful!):)

Buttermilk Caramel Syrup
Recipe from Our Best Bites
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3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup real butter (no substitutes)
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the buttermilk, sugar, butter, corn syrup and baking soda in a 4 quart size saucepan (or larger).

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once it reaches the boiling point, reduce the heat and simmer (make sure it keeps bubbling) while stirring for 7-9 minutes.  The syrup will start darkening as you cook.  It should get to a golden rich brown color. 

Remove from the heat and add vanilla.

It will thicken as it cools down.

Here is the syrup on our African Pancakes.  SO GOOD!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

African Pancakes

Growing up we always called these African pancakes. 

But everyone else I've ever known calls them German pancakes, but they will always be African pancakes to me!  Although they are pretty much the same thing...they just taste better when you know they're African...try it, you'll see!:)

These are such a fun kid pleasing recipe!  If you haven't tried these yet, you should (adults like them too!)  They are best served with Buttermilk Syrup (recipe to come tomorrow!) and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. 
We do breakfast for dinner at my home once a week because they are easy and inexpensive meals.  So on that crazy night of the week (Wednesday for me!) we go the breakfast route...and these are perfect for one of those nights!
African Pancakes
(Budget Dinner Totals:  $1.75 for whole pan.  Cut into 6 servings = 28 cents)
1 cube butter
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
6 eggs
dash of salt
dash of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour and milk together in a blender until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time and then the salt and sugar.  Set aside.

Place butter in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Put in the oven until butter is melted.  Pour the egg mixtures into the pan and return to the oven. 

Bake for 15-30 minutes or until it starts browning.  Mine took about 20 minutes, but it will just depend on your oven, so just start watching it around 15 minutes.

Stay tuned for the best Buttermilk Syrup recipe tomorrow!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Homemade Oreos

This one's gonna have to be short.  I've got laundry piled up to my ceilings.  Every hamper in my house is completely over-flowing & it is driving me crazy.  So today's task is to get every. last. piece. of. dirty. clothes. washed! 

And then I'm going to stay up on it and NEVER have this problem again! 

Ok, so it'll probably be this way again next week, but here's hoping!:)

This recipe will cheer up any situation & make you want to take on the world (or your laundry).

Homemade Oreos
Recipe from Your Cup of Cake
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1 box devil's food cake
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs in a mixer.  The dough will be thick and sticky.  Scoop dough (about 3 tablespoons) onto cookie sheet.  Gently pat down the dough so it makes a nice thick disk, don't pat it down too much.

Bake for 7-10 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Make frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter together until combined.  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar until you have a nice smooth frosting.

Frost the bottom of one cookie and then place the other cookie on top.  These are delicious!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Better than Twix Bars

We had a fun night out with the girls in our church last week.  Everyone brought something for everyone to try with a copy of the recipe for all the other girls.  It was my type of activity!:)  There were so many great foods, and I'll be sharing some more of them in the next few weeks!

Kyla decided to share and try out these twix bars (cause she loves twix...though not as much as Reeses)!  They were pretty easy to put together (if my 12 year old can do it, YOU CAN!).  And just in case you were wondering, I believe they ARE better than a twix bar!:)

Better than Twix Bars
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2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
14 oz. bag of caramels, unwrapped
2 1/4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil and lightly grease it with cooking spray. 

Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add the flour and mix.  It will be crumbly.  Press evenly into the bottom of the pan and then prick the crust with a fork.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.

Cool completely.

Melt caramel and cream gently in the microwave until smooth.  30 second intervals is what I like to do, stirring in between.  Pour over the cooled crust and chill for about 15 minutes.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave at 30 second intervals stirring in between until melted and smooth.  Pour over chilled caramel and spread to the edges of the pan.  Chill until the chocolate is set.

Remove from the fridge about 5-10 minutes before cutting.  This will make it a little easier to cut.  Cut into bars and serve.  Store any uneaten bars in an airtight container in the fridge, but let them set out for a few minutes before trying to eat them, or you might lose a tooth!:)
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