Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sweet Pork

Sweet pork calls my name pretty regularly.  I don't make it near as often as I should.  And lately I've been a last minute cooker, as in "what's in the fridge that we can hurry and throw together" at 8:30 at night!  And since this is a slow cooker just hasn't worked out this spring.


I'm going to change that this week!  It is on the menu & I couldn't be more excited.  This is probably one of my most talked about recipes.  Whenever I see someone around town and they bring up the blog...this is the recipe they always seem to mention.  It really is that good!

The meat can be used in Burritos or you can throw it on top of a salad, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make all of the sides that go with it!  You've got to throw on some Cilantro Lime Rice, black beans, and you absolutely cannot have this without the Tomatillo Ranch Dressing!!  You can also make some Tortilla strips, but they are not as essential as the other 3.

Hope you enjoy these A LOT during the rest of the spring and throughout all the summer months!

Sweet Pork

2 cans (4 oz. each) chopped green chilies
1 can (8 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
1 boneless pork loin roast (2-2 1/2 pounds)
Place roast and all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Shred meat with a fork. Return to slow cooker for 30 minutes.
Wrap in a burrito with Lime Cilantro Rice, black beans, & cheese.  Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and Tomatilla Ranch Dressing.
Make a salad & top the salad with some black bean, Lime Cilantro Rice, and Tomatilla Ranch Dressing.
Either way you WILL make this again!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've never been the biggest fan of red velvet. 

Tony (the hubby) LOVES red velvet!

Needless to say, he doesn't get it very often.  But, that may change after making this recipe.  I saved two, one for Tony and one for me so I could have a taste (since they were going to someone else).  And it's a good thing they weren't left sitting around in my home!  Dangerous I tell you!!  And DELICIOUS!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
(with cream cheese frosting)

For the cupcakes:
1 box red velvet cake mix (I could only find this in Duncan Hines brand)
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
For the Cream Cheese frosting:
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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with 24-30 cupcake liners.

Mix cake mix, eggs, oil, buttermilk, sour cream, and vanilla together until smooth.  Scoop into cupcake liners about 3/4 the way full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting (this is my fabulous cream cheese recipe found here!), beat the cream cheese and butter together until combined well. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk and beat again.

Pipe on to cooled cupcakes.  Top with red sprinkles or chocolate decorations.

(I just melted down chocolate almond bark & placed it into a sqeeze bottle.  Then I laid out some wax paper on the table and started making designs.  Just let them sit until they are hardened and then peel them off and top your cupcake!  It is so fun & cute!!

Devour & don't feel one bit guilty!!  That's an order!:)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bacon Avocado Pasta Salad

This recipe (along with many other pasta salad dishes) is one of the reasons I love summer time!

This salad got rave reviews from my husband.  Some of the kids liked it, but Eli told me it would be better without the tomatoes or avocado, but what does he know, he's only 9!!

This would be a perfect summer pot-luck salad to go with any BBQ's you've got planned!  Trust me, you'll LOVE it!

Well, that is if you like tomatoes and avocados.

Bacon Avocado Pasta Salad
Recipe adapted from Life's Ambrosia
1 pound campanelle pasta (or other variety, but I love the campanelle...SO CUTE!!)
1 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
3 large tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces (or cherry tomatoes, halved)
2 avocados, cut into bite size pieces
1 bag (3 oz.) real bacon peices

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain & then run under cold water to cool it down. 

In a large bowl, combine the mayo, lemon juice, salt, garlic, pepper, and dill.  Stir in the cooked pasta, tomatoes, avocado and bacon pieces, and toss to combine.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lime Cilantro Rice with Pineapple

We're on our way!!  It has been one of the longest months of my life, but I'm pretty excited to spend this week with my Caleb & Eli in Tennessee.  What a journey it will be!  Wish us safe travels & luck!:)

Since it's grillin' season I thought I'd give you some wonderful grillin' menu items this week (and a cupcake recipe...what can I say?!)

This rice goes so well with grilled chicken or fish.  Add in some watermelon and you've got yourself a wonderful summer meal!

Lime Cilantro Rice with Pineapple
Recipe from Our Best Bites
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons real butter
juice from 1 lime
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2-3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, combine the rice and water.  Bring it to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes, still covered.  Add the butter and stir until melted.  Add the lime juice, pineapple and cilantro.  Stir to combine & then add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Cute story I have to start out with today since I'm thinking about my youngest son Rhett.  These cupcakes were for his 5th birthday and he is graduating from preschool next week and I'm going to miss it because I'll be in Tennessee with my other 2 boys for their DI Competition.  This emotional momma's having a rough time dealing with that!
So please bear with me!
(Just a little teaser for you to help you make it through this momma's ramblings!:))
While we were sitting in church Sunday on Mother's Day (and after being spoiled by my family), Rhett turns to me and tells me that tomorrow (Monday) is going to be Rhetty Day and that everyone has to buy him pressents!  I guess he figured since Mom's get a special day he should too! 

I chuckled and didn't think about it much until Monday rolled around.  After I picked Rhett up from school he said, "Oh yeah, it's Rhetty Day!  Did you get me some presents?" 

Um,  But I did get Subway for lunch & he loves Subway, so that was his special lunch for Rhetty Day.  He was a little disappointed when there were no presents waiting for him at home, but we had a fun day & I guess that made up for it! 

I totally dropped the ball on Rhetty Day, but I only got a days notice that it even existed!:)  Next year!

Ok, back to the cupcakes.  Our family has been off soda/pop/carbonation of any kind since August 2011.  Our goal was to go the entire school year without any soda!  We have all done great & are almost there!  The kid's have missed it a bit and so I thought these would be fun.  No actual root beer, but we still get the root beer flavor...and in a cupcake!! 


Root Beer Float Cupcakes
For the cake:
1 box vanilla cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
For the Root Beer Buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons root beer extract
Root beer ice cream topping (for drizzle on top)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Mix cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla until smooth.  Scoop batter into liners about 3/4 full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove to wire rack and let cool completely.

When cupcakes are cooled prepare frosting by creaming the butter and cream cheese.  Add the root beer extract and mix to incorporate.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and drizzle a little root beer ice cream topping on top.  You could also use root beer barrells to top.  You could just top it with a whole barrell, or you could crush some of the barrells and sprinkle them on top.

Just like eating a Root Beer Float!!

(Here's these pictures again of the birthday boy with his cupcakes.  He thinks it's fun to make a different face everytime I take a picture!  What a silly, cute boy!!)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Smoky Red Beans & Rice

I know everyone is probably shocked that today's recipe isn't a cupcake.  What can I say...I've made a TON of cupcakes in the last couple of weeks & I want to share them ALL with you! 

I've still got 4 more cupcake recipes waiting, but I decided we should at least throw in one recipe that's a little heartier & healthier before I dive back into the cupcakes (and don't you worry, there will be one coming this week sometime!)

My hubby (Tony) could live on rice I believe.  He would love to have some with every meal.  So when I found this recipe I thought it would be one he would love.  And it was.  And the kid's really liked it.  And it's pretty inexpensive to make.  And it's low in fat.  And it's super filling.  And it's really easy to throw together. 

Now doesn't that make you want to go try it TODAY!!

Smoky Red Beans & Rice
Budget Dinner: about $.93 per serving.
Recipe from Our Best Bites
1 pound dry red kidney beans
6 cups water
5 bouillon cubes
1 Kielbasa sausage, cut into bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's is good & you can find it at Walmart & most grocery stores)
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon coriander
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 cups long-grain rice (we love jasmine rice)

Place beans in your crockpot & cover with water.  Let sit overnight without turning on your crockpot.

In the morning, rinse & drain beans.  Put them back in the crockpot along with the water, bouillon, sausage, garlic, liquid smoke, creole seasoning, cumin, coriander, oregano and cinnamon.  Cook on low all-day.  (Put it together in the morning & it will be ready by 5:00 or 6:00, perfect for dinner!)

When the beans are tender you can mash some of them or most of them or all of them.  Just whatever your preferences are.  I just pulled a few to the side of the crockpot & using a fork mashed them.  That works pretty good.

When it's about time to eat, start the rice.  In a medium saucepan bring your water, vinegar & rice to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cover.  Cook for 20 minutes.

When rice is done you're ready to serve!  Just place a large ladle of beans into a bowl & top with some rice.  Dig in!! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes

Only 11 more days until me & my 2 oldest boys jump on a plane and head to Tennessee!  I'm really looking forward to this trip.  Well, everything except the heat & humidity!  I may just die & there's no telling what my naturally curly hair is going to do while there, but it's all part of the experience right?!

I just want to give a quick thank you before we move on to today's DELICIOUS recipe to everyone who has donated money & helped us fundraise.  We really appreciate it, so a huge THANK YOU to you!!

Alright, on to another cupcake.  Are you surprised?  It seems like all I've been doing for the past few weeks is baking (and mainly cupcakes!).  So, I'm sorry for the lack of healthy, dinner menu recipes...I promise I'll do better in June!:)  But I've got to say, I have loved creating & making all these fun cupcakes, and I've been able to help raise money for my boys by doing it as well!  So I've been killing 2 birds with one stone: #1 Raising money for my boys, #2 Feeding my desire to bake & not making myself gain 300 pounds in the process!:)

Hope you enjoy this one...words cannot express my love!

White Chocolate Rasberry Swirl Cupcakes

For the cake:
1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon clear vanilla
Raspberry pie filling
White Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream:
1 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup smashed raspberries
4-5 cups powdered sugar
Raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with 24 muffin liners.

Mix cake mix with eggs, oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla until smooth.  Scoop batter into muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Spoon a teaspoon of raspberry pie filling onto the top of each cupcake.  Take a toothpick and swirl the filling into the batter.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let sit for about 5 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring inbetween until melted & smooth.  Add the heavy whipping cream until it's about the consistency of a heavy syrup.

Dip the tops of each cupcake in the ganache.  Lightly scrape off any excess so it doesn't run down the sides of your cupcake.  Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to help it set up.

For the frosting; cream the butter and cream cheese for about 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the mashed raspberries & mix to combine.  Add teh powdered sugar a cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Pipe onto cupcakes & top with a fresh raspberry.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Barbie Birthday Cake

I made this cake for a neighbor & I had so much fun!!  It's been a while since I was able to make something cute with pinks & purples!   Kyla's been out of that stage since about age 5...she never was a big pink lover anyway (gasp!).

There's really no recipe for this cake.  I just used a regular vanilla cake mix & a vanilla buttercream recipe for the frosting.

I used a small star tip for the dress.  And although your hand will be in agony by the time you're done with all those stars, it really isn't hard or too time consuming!

Here's a few steps that I used in making this cake that might be helpful to someone else.

I "crumb coated" the cake first.  It's just a thin layer of frosting to cover the cake.  It will help keep any crumbs from falling away from the cake and getting into your final layer which will keep it looking good.  It's also great to help you design whatever it is you're doing with the cake.  Just use a toothpick and "draw" your design into the cake so you can follow it when you start frosting.
Now just work your way around the cake with the stars.  They need to be pretty close together, and try not to put them in lines, but just'll look better trust me! 
For the body, you just frost right over the body of the barbie.  Then you just embellish however you would like.  We created a necklace & added some candy flowers and pearls. 
Turned out pretty cute & was a joy to make!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcake

If you are a regular reader here you've probably already guessed that Kyla came up with these cupcakes!  She's our PB & chocolate lovin' girl (she takes after her Dad).  She's always coming up with great ideas for PB desserts.  Like the PB Whoopie Pies.  DELICIOUS! 

So plan a time to make will not be disappointed!

(I told you we were on a cupcake craze!!!)

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcake

1 box devils food cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
For frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
8-10 PB cups, chopped
extra PB cups for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.

Mix cake mix, eggs, oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla until smooth.  Fill liners 3/4 the way full with batter & bake for 15-18 minutes.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until light & fluffy.  Add 3 cups of the powdered sugar and the cocoa & mix until combined.  Add the milk & as much more of the powdered sugar you need to reach your desired consistency.  Put in the chopped PB pieces and mix to combine.  (I used my chopper to chop the PB cups & all the pieces stuck together pretty good, so I was a little worried, but when you get them in your mixer it disperses the pieces and works wonderfully!)

Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and top with half of a PB cup.

I'm officially drooling right now!
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