Friday, May 28, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

... Bake Pink Lemonade Cupcakes!

When I saw these on my reader, I was extremely excited. This past weekend, I had a bonfire at a friends house along with friends coming from Georgia to visit. For the bonfire, we were celebrating the end of school so I wanted something that represented summertime. Enter lemonade. Even better, pink lemonade! These cupcakes were perfect for the bonfire and I even managed to save a few for a picnic with our house-guests! The cupcakes were very moist and definitely had the tang of lemonade. The recipe appears to be pretty versatile so I can't wait to substitute other fruit concentrates!

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch salt
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
4 egg whites
2/3 c. thawed frozen Pink Lemonade Concentrate
1/2 c. buttermilk (I used 2% and it worked fine)
Pink food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with liners. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg whites and lemonade concentrate. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, beating until just smooth.

Add just enough food coloring to turn the batter a light shade of pink.

Spoon batter into liners (fill about three-fourths full). Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting (see below).

Here is the frosting recipe that was included with the cupcake recipe. I utterly failed at making the frosting. It was a mess. But I figured I'd include it in case anyone wants to try it out! If you succeed please tell me the secret :)

Lemonade Buttercream
3 c. + 3 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pink lemonade concentrate
Milk to reach desired consistency*
Pink food coloring

Add the butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt, lemonade concentrate, and a few drops of food coloring to the stand mixer and mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined.

I'm pretty sure this is the step I screwed up on. I think I added too much milk because my frosting definitely didn't achieve that fluffy frosting consistency.

Recipe from Simply Sweet Bake Shop

Monday, May 17, 2010

Easy BBQ Chicken

This recipe is so easy, I wasn't even going to blog it. I'm not sure if it even is a recipe. I had a busy night planned with a business law final and taking a break from studying with a few friends. I needed a quick dinner for hubby that would still taste good for me whenever I got home. I threw together boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a bottle of barbeque sauce in the crockpot and let it cook on low for about 6-7 hours. The meat was perfect when I got home. Very tender and moist. While it lacked the crispy outside that you get when you do chicken on the grill, it lacked none of the flavor. This will definitely be a repeat on those days when we're too busy to cook!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pepperoni and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

This recipe was extremely easy and quick. I added it to our menu because I already had everything we needed plus who doesn't like pepperoni and cheese? The stuffing along with the italian seasoning on the outside made this taste like pizza-so good. Next time I'll definitely be using mozzarella cheese and may even add a breaded crust to the chicken.

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Sliced Pepperoni
Cheese (I used american but i think mozzarella would be delicious)Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper

Pound out the chicken breasts until thin

Layer the sliced pepperoni and cheese however much you would like

Roll the chicken up. If you have them, secure it with toothpicks, seam-side down. If not, place seam-side down in an oven dish.

Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with S&P and Italian Season to your liking (I also added a little garlic powder)

Bake on 325 for about 30 minutes or until done

*Sorry for the poor picture quality. Hopefully i'll be upgrading my camera soon!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

After making the Mexican Stuffed Shells, I realized how versatile the shells can be. It's basically just pasta, filling, sauce and cheese to cover. I started searching the internet for other things to fill them with and came up with this recipe fro Allrecipes. These shells are by far my favorite and definitely dinner party worthy. We had a few of hubby's friends over for a last home-cooked meal before one of them left for a 7 month boat tour. All three of the guys gave these thumbs up and even though I was planning on freezing half for later on there were only two left!

1 12-oz. package jumbo pasta shells
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
6-7 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup bread crumbs (We didn't have these on hand so I omitted them)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes with herbs, including the liquid (This was definitely better than a jarred spaghetti sauce. It added a little more flavor)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is completely cooked through and no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, ricotta, spinach, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, basil, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir together to combine. Add the cooked sausage mixture to the bowl and stir until evenly mixed.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread a thin layer of the chopped tomatoes in the baking dishes (either three 8×8″ pans, or one 9×13″ and one 8×8″). Stuff each shell with some of the sausage and cheese mixture, and arrange in the baking dishes, open side up. Spread the remaining tomatoes over the top of the pasta shells.

Cover the pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weekly Meal List

Last night I realized I really needed to go grocery shopping when the only thing I could round up for dinner was cheese grits and roasted asparagus :/ In my defense, this was my last week of school and I've been studying like crazy for finals. I have three big tests coming up this week so there are a few easy meals thrown on the menu for this week. I'm also excited to try out some new recipes I found!

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin w/ Oven Roasted Potatoes
Crock Pot BBQ Chicken
Beef Enchiladas w/ Yellow Rice
Pepperoni and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
Crock Pot Asian Style BBQ Chicken Wings
*I'm still trying to decide on the last meal. We're hoping to have some friends over so I'm always open to suggestions!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I am a cheesecake addict. Baked, no-bake, chocolate, plain, cherry, peanut butter... the list goes on and on. This recipe is my all-time favorite. It's so rich and creamy that it usually disappears in a few days. Sometimes I make my own graham cracker crust but this time I just used a pre-made crust. Either way it's delicious. Hope you enjoy!

For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
16 ounces cherry pie filling, chilled

Combine crumbs, sugar, and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350°F, 10 minutes.Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla, mixing at medium speed on electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Bake at 450°F, 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F; continue baking for 30-40 minutes. Loosen cake from rim of pan.

Chill. Spread cherry pie filling over cheesecake before serving.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Strawberry Cupcakes

I love going to the grocery store this time of year when they have the huge containers of strawberries for such a cheap price. My favorite way to eat them is dipped in sugar up until I found this recipe. It's from allrecipes but I adapted it a bit according to the comments to give it a stronger strawberry flavor.

2 ½ cups cake flour (I used all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk (I used 2% milk and it worked fine)
¼ cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups chopped strawberries (I pureed about 2.5 cups of frozen strawberries and left a few chunks in)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in chopped strawberries. Fill cupcake wells ¾ full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

The strawberry chunks along with the pureed strawberries made these taste even better than fresh strawberries with sugar! I frosted half with cream cheese frosting and the rest with buttercream. The cream cheese tasted the best but I can't wait to make them next time with strawberry frosting!

No pictures for this post. The cupcakes disappeared to quick for that!

ETA: I made a second batch because they were that good! And I took some pictures!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Homemade Manicotti

There is nothing better than homemade manicotti. Tons of cheese and loads of marinara sauce-the thought of it makes me hungry. Whenever I make these, people are so amazed that the noodles are homemade. I prefer the taste of the homemade noodles and they are also a lot easier to stuff than the store-bought variety. It's actually not too hard once you get the hang of it.

This recipe is from the Taste of Home Classic Cookbook. It is just cheese stuffed but I like to add beef or chicken occasionally.
Crepe Noodles
1.5 cups of flour
1 cup of milk
3 eggs
dash of salt
1.5 pounds ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
Shredded Romano cheese, optional

Whisk flour, milk, eggs, and salt in a bowl until smooth. Pour about 2 tablespoon onto a
hot greased skillet and spread to a 5 inch circle or smaller. Cook over medium heat until set; do not brown or turn. The top
will still be a little doughy. Repeat with the remaining batter, making around 18 crepes. Stack crepes between waxed paper and set aside.

Pour half of the spaghetti sauce into an ungreased baking dish.

For the filling, combine the cheeses, egg, and the parsley. Spoon about 3-4 tablespoons into each creep. Roll or fold up and place the crepes over the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over the top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. uncover and bake 20 minutes longer. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.

The first time I made these I didn't have anything to stack the crepes on so I decided to do it all at once. I made the batter and the filling and then began making the crepes. As one crepe was finished I would put it on plate, add more batter to the skillet, and then stuff the finished crepe and then put it the baking dish. It requires all your attention but I prefer to do it this way. Once you start making a few, you will get the hang of how much batter to use.