Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

I should have a lot more post by the two year mark, oh well. Better luck with the coming year. Anyways to celebrate I am hosting my very first giveaway, and depending on how this one goes there could be more to come in the future. I've been thinking for the past few weeks on what I should use for my first giveaway and finally decided upon the Wilton Ultimate Cupcake Carrier. I feel it is best to give away an item that I personally own and can vouch for the quality. It's very sturdy and is easy to clean. I had a cheap carrier in the past and was always worried about it falling apart and me dropping my cake. The Wilton caddy has a locking closure so I never have to worry about it opening while I'm carrying it. To enter into the drawing (where there will only be one winner) all you need to do is post a comment with a link to your favorite cupcake recipe. Then on Friday April 2nd a winner will be drawn and announced.

Photo from

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shamrock Cookies

I made these yesterday for my friend's birthday as well as Saint Patrick's Day. Since we had class today, I made enough for the entire class. They were a huge hit! Fair warning though, these are pretty time consuming to make because you pipe the batter into a clover. And since I doubled the recipe and made 70 cookies it took a long time. But I did learn something new, printer paper is oven safe. I learned this after I forgot the pattern under the parchment paper when I baked the cookies. I used a size 12 round tip for piping both the cookie and the frosting. In the future I will reduce the amount of cocoa powder because it tasted too chocolaty for green velvet. Also the cookie will leave your mouth a bit green.

Green Velvet Whoopie Pies: Source: cookies adapted from Dinner and Dessert, originally from Better Homes & Gardens, December 2008 Idea to make them shamrock shape:

For the cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. cocoa powder (although I recommend reducing o 2 T, possibly 1 T)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 oz. green food coloring
For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

1. I used a printed shamrock as a template under parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
5. Blend in the vanilla.
6. With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated. Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients. Do not over mix.
7. Blend in the food coloring.
8. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip (size 12).
9. Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the shamrock print as a guide.
10. Bake 8 minutes or until the tops are set.
11. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred. Repeat with any remaining batter.
12. Allow cookies to cool completely before sandwiching.
To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.
Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip. Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear. Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container. I refrigerated an hour before serving.

Yield: 35 Sandwiches

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan March 14-20th

Sorry that this is a little late, but better late than never.

Sunday: Broccoli Mushroom Soup
Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: Taco Salad
Wednesday: Skyline Chili
Thursday: pizza (bell peppers and onion, and half with pepperoni for Dan)
Friday: butternut squash macaroni and cheese
Saturday: grilling if weather permits

Plus I need to make two batches of cupcakes this week. One needs to make 32 and the other only needs to make 12. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments section. Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pasta Alla "Not-Ka"

I first started making this dish last summer. It is absolutely delicious and so easy and quick to make. The recipe comes from a show that Lifetime aired last year called "Cook Yourself Thin" which is also available as a cook book. The purpose of the show/book is to take fattening foods and make a few changes to make them healthier while still tasting good. I've made a handful of the recipes, with this one being the best and likely only one that will make it to the blog. I made a few changes as well which further reduces the amount of calories and makes it healthier by using whole grain instead of white pasta. This meal has become a go to meal for us, in fact I'm about to heat up some leftovers for dinner. Enjoy!

Pasta Alla "Not-Ka"
Source: Cook Yourself Thin
Serves 4: 8oz
Calories per serving: 371 in the original recipe
Weight Watchers 7 points per servings (based off my changes that are in bold)

1-2 teaspoons olive oil (I use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil)
3 cloves garlic (I used 1 T minced garlic)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I use yellow or white onion)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes in juice, pureed in a food processor
Pinch red pepper flakes
8 ounces penne (I used Barilla’s whole grain)
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons evaporated nonfat milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I’ve also used an equal amount of Romano cheese made with goat’s milk)
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil (I didn’t measure the basil, I think I pulled about 6 leaves off of our plant)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the penne.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the 2 teaspoons oil with the garlic over low heat until the garlic begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook until the onion is softened, about 2 more minutes.
4. Add the tomato, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes.
5. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer very gently 10 minutes.
6. Stir in the cream and evaporated milk and simmer 1 more minute.

7. Meanwhile, after the sauce has cooked 5 minutes, add the penne to the boiling water and cook until just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the drained penne to the saucepan and simmer until the penne is al dente, 1 to 2 minutes, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if the mixture is dry. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, along with the basil and black pepper.

8. To serve, divide pasta among 4 serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. (I didn’t drizzle oil over it and I mixed all of the cheese in while cooking)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Best Sugar Cookies Ever!

I've tried several different sugar cookie recipe before finally finding one that I love. The original recipe calls for almond extract but I changed it to lemon because of a potential nut allergy. I think the light lemon flavor gives it a little something special. I've tried making them using just vanilla or just lemon and both times they come out a little bland. I've made these as roll out cookies with royal icing, cream cheese icing and chocolate icing, as well as rolling the dough into balls and coating them with colorful sprinkles. A friend of mine liked these so much that she asked me to come to her house to give her a lesson on how to make them. She agreed that these are much easier to make, and is happy that she can now make sugar cookies with her grandson.

Sugar Cookies:
Source: Annie's Eats, my changes are in bold

1 c butter, softened
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
2 ½ c flour, sifted
1/2 cup sprinkles (optional)

1. Cream butter.
2. Add powdered sugar.
3. Blend in egg, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest, salt and flour.
4. Chill dough until firm, about an hour.
5. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
6. Prepare workspace with sifted powdered sugar
7. Prepare cookie sheet, I use foil sprayed with Pam for easy clean up.
8. Roll dough to desired thickness, 1/8” to ¼”or use a portion control scoop and roll the dough into a ball.
9. Cut out desired shapes or roll the dough in the sprinkles, and carefully transfer to prepared cookie sheet.
10. Bake for 10-12 minutes be careful not to brown the cookies. (about 15 minutes for the round cookies with sprinkles.)

Yield depends on the shape of the cookie, when I made them round dipped in sprinkles it made 30 cookies.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan March 7th - March 13th

Sunday: out to eat with the family
Monday: lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and homemade apple sauce
Tuesday: Pasta alla not ka with a salad
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: 15 bean chili
Friday: vegetable frittata with baked apple slices
Saturday: homemade pizza and a salad

Andes Chocolate Mint Cookies

The first time I made these was for a thank you to Dan's friend for letting us use his lake house for the weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday. Except Dan kept forgetting to bring them with him, so three days later I made another batch and added the cocoa powder, it makes a huge difference. The cookies taste so much better with the small addition. I loved these cookies so much that I have butter softening on the counter to make another batch. As I'm sure you've noticed I haven't updated the blog in a really long time, so there is actually several months between this time and the last. I highly recommend these for anyone who loves chocolate and mint. And the cute little box is from World Market.


1/4 c salted butter-softened (I used unsalted)

3/8 c dark brown sugar (I used light)

1/4 c sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 T cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

5 oz Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips

1 1/3 c all purpose flour, sifted


1. Cream together butter and sugars

2. Mix in egg and vanilla

3. Sift together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder

4. Blend flour mixture into sugar mixture

5. Stir in baking chips

6. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

7. Shape dough using a cookie scoop and place onto prepared cookie sheets. (parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray)

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes

Yields: 21 cookies