PostHeaderIcon Audrey’s 1st Birthday Cookies

My baby had her first birthday last month. It still baffles me that I have a one-year-old, but I was excited to make her my sugar cookies. I haven’t made them in way too long so this was her first time trying them. She.loved.them. Yay!

I just wanted to share these cute cookies with you. If you’d like to try making them yourself, here’s the recipe and some helpful tips. Feel free to email me if you have questions!

Isn’t she the cutest!?

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PostHeaderIcon Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Remember me?

I’m a bad blogger, I know. The only excuse I can offer you is that I’m busy with an almost one-year old (can you believe my baby is almost one!?) and I haven’t been very creative in the kitchen. I tend to make the same dishes over and over again, all of which are already on my blog. And the few times I’ve made something new, well, it just wasn’t blog-worthy.

Well, these cupcakes are definitely blog-worthy. My husband, Audrey, and I went to my brother and sister-in-law’s condo for the 4th of July and I brought these cupcakes and my favorite salad (recipe to come!). I know my brother loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter so I made these with him in mind. The chocolate cupcake is made with sour cream, making it super moist, and then they’re topped with a truly amazing peanut butter frosting.

The combination is perfection. You must make these soon.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cupcake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

To make the cupcake batter, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk together and set aside.  In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the sour cream, milk and vanilla extract.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth.  Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended.  Mix in the whipped topping until smooth and fluffy.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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PostHeaderIcon Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa & Black Beans

If you’re looking for a fabulous vegetarian entree, look no further. This was the first time I cooked with quinoa and was quite surprised with how much I liked it. It definitely had an interesting texture but I’m looking forward to using it in this dish as well as others soon. All of the ingredients blended very well together. I enjoyed it just the way it is but my husband thought it needed some meat in it. It would be wonderful either way.

I recently joined Weight Watchers so I’m always in need of healthy and delicious dishes and this definitely fit the bill. I calculated these peppers around 6ish WW points per half since the only items that counted as points were the quinoa, black beans, enchilada sauce, and the cheese. Not too shabby.

Ingredients:

4 bell peppers (any color), sliced in half stem-to-tip, seeds removed
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles (don’t drain)
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil, if desired
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 28 oz can red enchilada sauce

Directions:

Add quinoa and onion to a large saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 5 minutes, cover, turn off heat and let steam 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In the meantime, microwave pepper halves 2-3 minutes to soften slightly. (Prepared this way, the peppers should come out crisp-tender. If you want them crisper, you can omit this step.)

Pour quinoa/onion mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir in black beans, tomato, green chiles and their juices, cilantro, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. If the mixture seems to dry, drizzle in a bit of olive oil.

Pour enchilada sauce into a 9×13″ baking dish. Divide filling among peppers. Nestle stuffed peppers into the enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook about 5 minutes longer. Serve peppers drizzled with enchilada sauce.

Source: One Lovely Life

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PostHeaderIcon Chicken Enchiladas

These have been on my to-make list forever and I kept putting them off. Honestly, I read the recipe over and it looked a little time-consuming for me. I can be a very lazy cook (hey, it’s hard when you have an eight month old – that’s right, she’s 8 months already!) but I finally gave in and made them since my husband’s grandparents were visiting for the weekend. This was my first time making enchiladas at home and I was very impressed. Like I said, it was a bit time-consuming but not enough that I wouldn’t make them again.

The chicken cooks in the homemade enchilada sauce, which I found to be an interesting technique which gave fabulous results. The enchiladas can be assembled ahead of time and I’m sure they would freeze very well. However, I found it was easier to make the enchilada filling in the afternoon and then quickly assembled them right before popping them in the oven.  Our company LOVED them and even went back for seconds. I’m pretty sure that’s a compliment, but they’re so sweet I’m not sure if they were just being polite. :) In my defense, my husband liked them and he’s not a huge fan of mexican food.

Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Directions

Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion mixture. Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro. Stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from America’s Test Kitchen
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PostHeaderIcon Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes

 

This was our (belated) Valentine’s Day dessert. Often times the biggest dilemma in our household is what I should make for dinner/dessert. Such problems, huh? :) I always want to make something new (so I can experiment with new recipes and post them to my neglected blog) but my husband always requests old favorites. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE our old favorites as well but I like trying new recipes. So, when I came across this amazing recipe for Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes I knew we would both be satisfied.

The cupcake base is a simple one-bowl recipe with a little espresso powder added in to amp up the flavor. Then they are brushed with Kahlua and topped with Kahlua buttercream frosting. Yes, they do taste as heavenly as they sound. They were very easy to whip up, I was able to make the cupcakes during Audrey’s morning nap and the frosting during her afternoon nap. I love being so productive during her naps. Even though Valentine’s Day is over this is definitely a treat that can be made anytime for your special someone.

 

 

Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes

Yield: approx. 20-24 cupcakes
Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup warm water
¾ cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For brushing the cupcakes:
Kahlua liqueur

For the frosting:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
7-8 Tablespoons Kahlua liqueur
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.   Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a large mixing bowl combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt; whisk well to blend.  Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high speed until smooth, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full.  Bake until the tops spring back when pressed lightly, about 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Poke a few holes in the top of each cupcake with the tines of a fork and brush with Kahlua while still warm.  Allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated.  Add in the Kahlua and beat on medium speed until well blended.  Add in the heavy cream and beat on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

 

Source: Annie’s Eats

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PostHeaderIcon Chili

Last week my mom came to visit for the entire week – Audrey and I had such a blast having her here. When the week was over we were both very sad to see her leave. We relaxed at home, went out a little (if it wasn’t too windy), played with Audrey a ton (of course!), ordered in food, and cooked a little at home as well. It was a chilly week so my mom made her famous chili (no pun intended) and it definitely hit the spot. Delicious chili with loved ones is a perfect combination. Kelly and I loved it and enjoyed it as leftovers even after she left. This chili gets (even) better as it sits so make sure you make enough to have leftovers…..mmmmm! I wouldn’t change a thing except maybe add a little hot chili powder in to give it a little kick. Other than that, please make this soon to enjoy with your loved ones.

And because I can (hey, it’s my blog), here’s a cute picture from last week. She has my mom wrapped around her little finger. :)

 

Chili

Ingredients:
2 lbs. hamburger
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 can chili beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans tomato soup
1 can (11.5 oz) tomato juice
5 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 cup elbow noodles

Directions:
Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Crumble the hamburger into the pan and cook evenly until brown. Add all ingredients except the elbow noodles. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

In a separate medium pot, cook the elbow noodles. Add them to the chili 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with shredded cheese.

 

Source: My mom

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PostHeaderIcon Browned Butter Brownies with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

Yes, really.  If that title doesn’t make your heart skip a beat then I don’t think you’re human.

I’m sure most people are trying to lose those extra holiday pounds (myself included) so save this recipe as I’m sure the sugar high from Christmas will wear off eventually. These brownies are truly amazing. Moist brownies topped with the sweetest peanut butter frosting, it’s truly the perfect combination. However, make sure you make these brownies when you have guests because this is not a dessert you want to be alone with. The only mistake I made when making these was doubling the recipe and making a 9×13 pan of delicious brownies. I highly suggest making the original recipe (in an 8×8 pan) unless you’re feeding a ton of people since these brownies are so sweet, a little bit definitely goes a long way with these bad boys!

Browned Butter Brownies with Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting

For the Brownies:
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

For the Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
Pinch of salt

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat. Continue cooking until butter has turned a golden-brown color. It should smell caramel-y. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and cocoa. Add vanilla. Stir in eggs on at a time, until well-incorporated. Stir in salt and flour until just combined.

Line an 8 x 8″ baking dish with parchment paper. Pour in brownie batter and smooth the surface. Bake brownies at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until brownies are set. (A toothpick inserted will still come out with a few crumbs) Allow brownies to completely cool before frosting.

Make frosting by beating butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and pinch of salt until light and fluffy. Spread over brownies. Slice brownies into 16 squares.

Makes 16 brownies.

Source: One Lovely Life

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PostHeaderIcon Classic Lasagna

My husband and I both agreed that this was the best lasagna we have ever had. I have always enjoyed the standard lasagna recipe with bottled sauce, cottage/ricotta cheese, etc. but this recipe takes lasagna to a whole new level. In place of the bottled sauce and cottage/ricotta cheese, you make a wonderful homemade red sauce and white bechamel sauce. The two sauces compliment each other perfectly. Once you make this recipe there’s no looking back. It’s truly incredible. So incredible that we had this for dinner on a Monday and the finished the leftovers the very next day, and let me tell you that rarely happens in this household.

This was probably the most time-consuming dinner I’ve made in a very long time but it was well worth the effort. This lasagna does dirty a lot of pots and pans so do yourself a favor and use no-boil noodles, it will give you one less pot to clean.

Classic Lasagna

Ingredients:
Red Sauce:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
6 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

White Sauce:
3 cups milk (not skim, I used 2%)
5 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

9 lasagna noodles, boiled for half the time or 12 no-boil noodles
1 pound ground hamburger
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded

Directions:
Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or with a napkin dipped lightly in olive oil. Set pan aside.

In a large skillet, brown the ground hamburger over medium-high heat. When cooked through, drain and set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. When oil/butter is hot, add the garlic, stirring constantly. When the garlic is lightly browned, add the onion and mushrooms. Continue cooking on medium-high heat until the vegetables are soft and browned and the fluid has mostly cooked out. Remove from heat and either using a handheld immersion blender or transferring the vegetables to a blender, blend the vegetables to a paste-like mixture. Return the pot to the heat (pour the pureed vegetables back in, if using a stand-alone blender) and add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Then add the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir. Cover and let the sauce sauce simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Right before using the red sauce in the lasagna, stir in the reserved ground turkey.

While the red sauce simmers, if using lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the noodles for half the time suggested on the box. Once the noodles are cooked, drain, but do not rinse. Add a dab of olive oil to keep them from sticking together. Skip this step if you are using no-boil noodles.

Also while the red sauce is cooking, melt the four tablespoons butter. When the butter has melted add the flour, stirring constantly to combine and letting the mixture cook, while stirring, for a minute or two. Gradually add in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the salt and pepper. Slowly whisk the white sauce, ensuring it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan, while cooking it over medium heat. Continue slowly stirring or whisking while the white sauce cooks and thickens quite a bit, about 5-7 minutes (it may take a little longer but it will thicken).

Preheat the oven to 350° F. To begin layering the lasagna, keep in mind that you’ll have three layers of noodles as well as three layers of the sauces and cheese – so plan on splitting all the sauce and cheese piles into thirds so you don’t run out at the end. On the bottom of your lightly greased baking pan, layer three pre-boiled noodles/four no-boil noodles, slightly overlapping the no-boil noodles. Layer the red sauce, white sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, spreading all to the edges and top with another layer of noodles. Again, layer the red sauce, white sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and top with the final layer of noodles. Layer the sauces and cheeses again.

Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Source: Mel’s Kitchen

 

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PostHeaderIcon Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins have always been a favorite of mine. However, I seem to go in streaks when I make them. I haven’t made them in what feels like forever but this week I suddenly craved them so I browsed my favorite blogs looking for delicious fall muffins. Well, I found way too many for one person to make in a season but I’m excited to share these muffins with you! They are perfect with a cup of milk or coffee on these beautiful fall days. And, of course, what’s not to love about eating dessert a muffin for breakfast?

The original recipe contained about double the spices that are listed below. I wanted to tame down the spices a bit to showcase the delicious pumpkin and white chocolate chip flavor. Therefore, I halved the spices (I have reflected this change below) and I think all the flavors complimented each other perfectly. These also contain chopped walnuts, which I enjoyed in the recipe but they could easily be omitted and the muffins would be just as delicious.

Audrey really loves to be in the kitchen with me while I cook and bake. She sits in her Bumbo chair and watches my every move, it’s so cute. I either tell her what I’m doing step by step or I play fun kid music and dance and sing while I cook….she usually just stares at me. I’m sure she thinks I’m nuts. :) I love it.

(My baby is exactly 4 months old today. How the heck did that happen?)

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 oz white chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Combine the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir briefly to combine.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, pumpkin, and unsalted butter, about 2 minutes. Add in the chocolate chips and nuts.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Do not over mix.

Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about two-thirds full.  Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

-makes approximately 12  muffins-

Source: adapted from Sugared Whisk, originally from Culinary Concoctions of Peabody

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PostHeaderIcon Garlic Rice Pilaf

An alternate title to this post could be “My Favorite Side Dish.” I have been making this garlic rice pilaf for years and I’m surprised I haven’t shared it with you. I think the reason why I haven’t shared it yet is because I can never seem to take a good picture of it. Some things are definitely difficult to photograph, and rice is one of them. I’m not saying this is a “good” picture by any means, but it’s the best I’ve got.

This recipe is absolutely delicious, very easy to make, and makes your home smell heavenly. What’s not to love about that? I usually serve this with island chicken (which is a favorite in our household) and a vegetable. The island chicken cooks at 350° and this dish cooks at 375° so I usually average the temperature to 360° and they both cook perfectly. Make this and your family will thank you.

Garlic Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup long-grain white rice
2½ cups chicken broth, divided
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Have ready a covered casserole dish.  In a saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and rice to the pan and cook until both are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, cover, and bake for 25 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1½ cups chicken broth and bake, covered, for another 45 minutes.  About 15 minutes before it is finished baking, stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Note: This recipe can be doubled without increasing the baking time.

 

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen?

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