Roasted Red Peppers & Sweet Onion Orzo Pasta

DSCN0203Have you ever looked in your fridge and then looked at your cupboard? Nothing.  Looked back in your fridge and then back at your cupboard?Nothing.  As I sit there fighting with myself, because I know very well there is plenty of food there, but lack the motivation, inspiration or creativity to make things work.  Also, I’m fighting with my laziness to go to the store.  Sometimes, you just want things there, already made.  Like a magic icebox that can read your mind and creates what you crave as you open it, and viola!  Or that magic cupboard from the “Indian and the Cupboard” except  for bringing little toys to life, it brings your dry goods together into a delicious, magnificent dish.

Okay, yes this is all wishful thinking and definitely takes the fun out of cooking.  However, sometimes, just sometimes…

There are many wonderful websites out there can produce recipes for based on what you already have on hand in the kitchen.  Again, I was fighting laziness and time was ticking.  Okay, okay it was more like my tummy was grumbling.  This recipe is simple and surprisingly flavorful all on its own.  I needed a side dish and saw a leftover box of orzo pasta.  I also had left over chopped sweet onions from breakfast and half a bottle of roasted red peppers.  This came together well and can be eaten as a side or by itself!  Happy Spring everyone!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
15 min. 10 min Easy 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small sweet onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Garlic salt
  • parsley
  • half a bottle of roasted red peppers (16 oz. jar)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in small pan on medium heat.  Chop onions and mince garlic, then add them to the pan.
  2. Sautee until onion is translucent.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, cook pasta according to directions on box.  Approximately 9 minutes for an al dente texture.
  4. Drain the roasted red pepper and chop into pieces.
  5. Drain pasta when it is done cooking; add in roasted red peppers, onions and garlic.  Sprinkle in garlic salt and parsley to season and toss until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Serve as desired.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Chocolate Orange CupcakesNothing cures a bad mood or the case of nerves like chocolate.  I’m not a huge fan of chocolate but this cupcake recipe had me coming back for more.  This recipe was created using the cake base from a German Chocolate Cake recipe.  I’m allergic to coconut, but I had to try the recipe that uses coffee in its recipe!!  One of my weaknesses is coffee.

When I do enjoy chocolate, it is usually chocolate covered oranges.  There is something sweet and refreshing about oranges dipped in chocolate.  A friend of mine and I had a bake date (with wine of course!) and decided to make these devilish cupcakes!

These bad boys did not last long!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
20 min 15-30 minutes Intermediate 3 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 oz. Semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ¼  C Cake flour
  • ¾  C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½  tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp baking soda
  • ½  tsp salt
  • 1 C lukewarm coffee
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 ¼  C  unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ¼  C sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½  tsp pure vanilla extract

Ganache Filling

  • 8 oz.  dark chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • ¾ C  heavy whipping cream
  • 2 TBS  unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 TBS  Grand Marnier or any orange liquor

Orange Dream Frosting

  • 2 TBS  butter, at room temperature
  • 4-5 C  confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 TBS  orange juice
  • 2 TBS  Grand Mariner or other orange liqueur
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 TBS grated orange zest or a drop of orange oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler (*or you can use a metal mixing bowl over boiling water in a pot).  Set melted chocolate aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl,  sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a measuring cup, mix buttermilk and coffee together.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, until it is fluffy.
  6. Add eggs one at a time and be sure to mix them well before adding the next egg.
  7. Add melted chocolate and vanilla extract until mixture is well incorporated.
  8. Alternate mixing the flour mixture and coffee/buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  9. Fill cupcake liners until 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Ganache:

  1. Place chocolate in a medium (heat-proof) bowl.
  2. On stove heat butter and heavy cream, until it comes to a boil.
  3. Immediately pour the boiling mix over chocolate and whisk gently until completely incorporated.
  4. Stir in liquor and let it cool and set.
  5. Pour ganache into a condiment bottle and squeeze contents into the cupcakes (once the cupcakes have cooled.)

Frosting Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, cream butter, orange juice and Grand Marnier together
  2. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until the frosting peaks to a consistency to your liking.  (I’ve found that four cups usually does it.)
  3. Add in the pinch of salt and orange zest until well blended.
  4. Add to a piping bag with your desired decorating tip.

Caramel Apple Cider Muffins

Caramel Apple Cider MuffinsCaramel Apple Ciders are synonymous with fall and winter days.  Apple ciders have been warmed up with spices such cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and vanilla. One of our favorite things next to food is books.  It is a perfect evening, if either of us can curl up with an amazing new book and some Caramel Apple Cider.  The Sonoran desert hardly gets snow, but on a really chilly day, this drink can truly warm you up.  So these muffins are inspired by this wonderful drink.  We added a crumble topping and a salted caramel drizzle for extra yumminess!

Leave us a comment and tell us your favorite winter memory or your favorite thing to do to unwind!

 

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
15 min 40 min. Easy 2 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4               eggs
  • 3  1/3 C all purpose flour
  • 2 C            apple cider
  • 1 1/3 C    sugar
  • 1  C           butter, softened
  • 4 tsp        baking powder
  • 2 tsp        cinnamon
  • 1 tsp        salt
  • 2 tsp        vanilla

Crumble Topping

  • 1 C            brown sugar
  • ½  C         sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • ½ C          butter (cold)
  • 2 tsp        cinnamon

Salted Caramel Drizzle

  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 C  caramel

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut up butter into small cubes.  In a small bowl, combine all crumble topping ingredients together and blend until it is crumbly.
  3. In another small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Set it aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well and then add the vanilla.
  5. Alternately, starting with the flour mixture, mix in the flour mixture and apple cider on low speed.
  6. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way and bake for 10 minutes.  Add crumble topping on top and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
  7. Mix the salt and caramel together.
  8. After baking let them cool for about 5 minutes and then drizzle salted caramel on top.

Gift of Giving (Home/Family Series Part 3)

Gift of Parenting

It is said that the love of a child is the greatest gift of all.  For new parents, you can help make things that will enhance a child’s growth or stimulate their environment.  You can help build a new art center in the playroom.  Make a wooden monogram letter decorated pertaining to the child’s interests.  Frame a book cover of the child’s or one of the parent’s favorite childhood books.  There are many great ideas on the web and some that are handmade and ready to sell to those of you who aren’t crafty (like us!) and those of you that time just isn’t on their side.

You can make magnets out of scrabble letter and a customized magnetic board!

Do you have any great or fun gift ideas for new parents?  Please share them below in the comments section.

Cranberry White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookieWe love an excuse to bake (or really just to lick the bowl!)  Some of our favorite recipes will be shared this month.  One of our favorites is the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies and we’d thought we give this recipe a little holiday twist by adding some cranberries.  We hope you’ll enjoy

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
 15 min.  30 min.  Easy 3 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 C  butter (softened)
  • 1 C  sugar
  • ¾ C  light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 TBS  pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp  salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ C  all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp  baking soda
  • 10 oz of white chocolate chips (chunks, if you prefer)
  • 1 C  macadamia nuts (chopped)
  • 1 C  dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set it aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Add in the eggs one at a time.  Then slowly mix in the flour mixture.
  4. Fold in cranberries, white chocolate chips and nuts until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Scoop into small cookie balls and bake for 8-10 min.

Gift of Giving (Experience Series Part 4)

Gift of Time

Are you really good at something like tennis or numbers?  Offer to give your time to someone who may need it.  Offer to do a friend taxes if they struggle with it every year or feel they get charged too much.  Offer to babysit for neighbor so they could go out on a date night.

Are you an amazing cook?  (Which we know you are!)  Offer to cook dinner or give cooking lessons to others.

Use your talents or skills for the benefit of others.  Offer teaching lessons if you are great a playing the piano or are an dance/fitness instructor.  Offer a free class.  You may even be able to boost business through word of mouth 😉  Who knows?

 

Baked Cinnamon Apple Donut Holes

It has been a crazy few months and we’d like to thank each and every loyal fan we have out there.  Since our hiatus, we’ve added new Facebook followers, more Twitter followers, added more pins to our most followed boards and our blog has reached several different countries.  We knew it was time to come back and share again.  Your patience and support means a great deal to us.

So in return, we plan on giving you 25 days of posts (and great gift giving ideas for the holidays) as a thank you.  Within the spirit of the holidays,  we hope you’ll enjoy the great dishes and drinks we’ve prepared, as much as we have enjoyed creating them.  We hope to bring you fun recipes from other food blogs (today’s features Chocolate Shavings, we found on Pinterest!) and great entertaining ideas (because there is always a holiday party around every corner).  We will feature a “Gift of Giving” series at the end of every post for fun and creative ideas this holiday season.  If we can bring you nothing else, we’d love to spread some holiday cheer into your hearts and homes because there is nothing more we love to do than in creating memories with the ones we love.  Enjoy!

We stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest and pinned it to our Test Kitchen Worthy board.  This is a great snack for the kids and Big Kids alike on a calm December evening or a great accompaniment to breakfast!

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
15 min 30 min (total) Easy 24 donut holes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup of lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of bite size chunks of apple, peeled and cored
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of milk

Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugars, salt and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the cold chopped butter.
  3. Gently mix the pieces of butter with the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Separate any butter cubes sticking to together by covering it with the flour mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Mix in the milk and fold in the chopped apples.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Fold using a spatula or spoon making sure not to overmix. Place a spoonful of batter into each mold of a buttered mini muffin pan.  **Tip**If you have a cookie scoop this is very handy!
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the donuts are just golden.
  7. While baking, in a small bowl combine cinnamon and sugar for the coating and whisk together until blended.
  8. Remove donuts from the oven, unmold and lightly brush each donut with the melted butter.  Dunk in the cinnamon sugar mix and thoroughly cover.  Shake off excess sugar and serve immediately.

Gift of Giving (Experience Series Part 1)

Donate Your Time or Money to a Local Nonprofit Organization

We all get those commercials on TV and we get those pleas for donations in the mail.  Some of us may even go as far as volunteering at a soup kitchen or local Salvation Army.  What we suggest is volunteering your time at a smaller local nonprofit that often get lost in the holiday season.

Do you have a hard to buy for cousin who very passionate about literacy?  Make a donation in their honor to a local literacy organization with a pamphlet to them on how they can make a difference too.

Do you know of new parents?  Find a local nonprofit children’s museum and buy an annual membership for them.  They’ll get to take their kids to something fun and you’ll be supporting something local.

Do you have an artistic teen family member.  Donate some money in their honor and include a pamphlet on how your teen can use his/her art to advance the cause.

Need help finding a nonprofit in your area?  check out: GuideStar for listings in your area/state.

Lemonade Cupcakes with Chambord Buttercream Frosting

It’s been a stressful couple of weeks and I love to bake.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  I’m the person who bakes and hands out my goodies.  Baking is more than making cookies and cupcakes and making them look pretty.  For many, baking is an art, but for me it’s therapy.  I love losing myself in a recipe and recreating it into my own.

This week I’ve wanted to create raspberry lemonade cupcakes with a Chambord frosting.  My raspberry sauce, however, didn’t come out the way I wanted, so we just have lemonade cupcakes.  I substituted the raspberry sauce for lemon curd, and man o’ man, it’s still delicious!!

To get the reddish tipped roses, I used a Wilton 22 tip, Wilton sparkle red gel and the Chambord Buttercream frosting.  I learned this trick on Pinterest.  Yes, Pinterest is kind of an addiction these days.  You can find this tip on our “Tips, Tricks & Essentials” board.  Fit the tip in a piping bag, line one side with red gel food coloring and then carefully fill the bag with frosting.  Start with the red line facing upwards and start at the center of the cupcake and go out.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
15 min 15-18 min. Easy 12

INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ C         unsalted butter
  • ⅔ C         sugar
  • 3 lg.        eggs
  • 1 tsp      lemon extract (or a ¼ C of lemon juice)
  • 1 ½ C      Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp  baking powder
  • ¼ tsp     salt
  • ¼ C         milk
  • 1              lemon (zested)
  • 1 6 oz. jar of lemon curd

Chambord Buttercream Frosting

  • ½ C         unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • ½ C         milk
  • 4-6 C      Confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 TBS     Chambord liquor

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven at 350°F and zest lemon, then set aside.
  2. Beat butter & sugar until light & fluffy
  3. Add eggs, one at a time
  4. Beat in lemon extract until fully incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. On low speed alternately add the flour mixture and milk.  Always begin and end with flour.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden brown and then let the cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Using a piping bag or squeeze bottle, insert lemon curd into three different spots in cupcakes.  Then decorate to your heart’s content.

Frosting Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, cream butter and milk together.  Then add in the Chambord.
  2. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until the frosting peaks.  You may add more Chambord for flavor. 🙂

Coffee Cocoa Brownies

These delicious and moist brownies are something I have been making since I first started baking as a kid. They are technically coffee, cocoa, cinnamon brownies, but that takes too long to say. This is one of the easiest recipes for brownies from scratch that I have found. I really like cinnamon, so normally I add at least one more teaspoon, but some people may find that a little strong. In addition, if you don’t want to add coffee grounds, a good substitute is instant coffee. I hope you enjoy!

Photo by Nicole Ramos

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Yield
15 min 45 min Easy 12

 Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 ounces melted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½  cup all-purpose flour
  • ½  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fine ground coffee (espresso grind works)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (this will make getting the brownies out a lot easier) .
  2. With a whisk beat the eggs until fluffy and light yellow. Sift and add dry ingredients ingredients, and mix to combine.
  3. While mixing slowly add the butter, mix until just combined. Careful not to over mix the batter, as this will make for a more cake like batter
  4. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes.
  5. Check for “doneness” with a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan, and it should come out clean.
  6. When done, remove to a rack to cool. And of course try to resist the temptation to cut into it until it’s mostly cool!