Sunday, April 26, 2015

#16 - Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Bean Frosting

It had been a long time since any cupcakes came out of my kitchen. There was a time when that was just about all that came out of my oven. A friend of mine mentioned liking cherry chip cake with vanilla frosting so I figured, what the heck... I'll give that a try! It's fun making something with someone specific in mind and a bonus when they actually like it! I also sent a bunch to work with The Hubs because his co-workers are perfect guinea pigs and the cupcakes were a hit with them too.


Cherry Chip Cupcakes
with Fluffy Vanilla Bean Frosting

Makes 22-24 cupcakes.

1 package plain white cake mix
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 - 10oz. jar maraschino cherries without stems, drained and finely chopped, juice reserved
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
1 teaspoon almond extract

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners and set the pans aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, yogurt, cherries, cherry juice, oil, egg whites, vanilla and almond extract in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl. Beat for 11/2 to 2 minutes longer on medium, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed.
  3. Spoon or scoop a 1/4 cup of cupcake batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full.
  4. Bake the cupcakes until they are golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
1 cup shortening, Crisco
1 - 7oz. jar marshmallow cream
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frosting, place the shortening and marshmallow cream in a large mixing bowl, and blend with an electric mixer on low until creamy. Add powdered sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and blend until smooth. Add more milk if needed.

When cupcakes are cooled, frost generously. Top with a cherry or cherry candy if desired.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

#15 -Fixin' Floors and Dad's Beef Stroganoff

Fixin' stuff with Dad.
Dad and I spent the better part of the week on a minor remodel of our bathroom. Apparently, the toilet had been leaking for who knows how long and had turned the underlayment to mush. Some of the subfloor was pretty bad too!

Stripped it all down...

...and here's my new floor!
Of course I didn't stop with the floor! We decided to get a new vanity and sink.  I also got the bright idea to install wainscoting! Oh, and we had a stubborn leak under the sink.  I think it's all done now though. It needs some new paint but that's gonna have to be a Summer project 'cuz I'm done!
In between all that fixin', Dad offered to cook dinner!! You better believe I took him up on the offer!! He made a super yummy beef stroganoff.  His recipe called for mushrooms, which I am NOT a fan of, but it was really good! I didn't even taste the fungi!

Dad's Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from Paula Deen.
Yield: 4 servings (although if actually fed 6 of us)

  • 1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak, cut into thin strips
  •  All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Cooked egg noodles

Sprinkle the steak strips with salt and pepper, and then dust with flour. In a large skillet, quickly brown them on both sides in the olive oil and butter. Remove the steak from the pan. Add the onion slices, garlic and mushrooms to the pan drippings. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour. Put the steak back into the pan with the onion and mushrooms. Add the mushroom soup and beef broth. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in the sour cream the last few minutes, right before you serve. Serve over cooked noodles.
(Recipe #15 of 52)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#14 - Overnight Blueberries & Cream French Toast Casserole

I had the makings of a Happy Easter with my Mom & Dad (The 'Rents) and The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning in town! It was so good to have all of my people under one roof (my other two peeps - The Hubs and The One Still at Home were here too, of course!).  I spent the better part of the weekend in the kitchen cookin' up a storm for The Fam... LOVED IT!!!
For Easter breakfast, we had Overnight Blueberries & Cream French Toast Casserole. As usual, I made a few changes to the recipe, like using croissants instead of bread and I added vanilla bean paste to the blueberry syrup. It was SUPER decadent! Dad said that he was pretty sure there was a law in California that stated you were only allowed to make this recipe once a year because it's too good. Tee, hee.... he's silly, but right!
Here's the recipe and know that you've been warned!

Overnight Blueberries and Cream French Toast Casserole
Recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups 
Serves 10
  • 18 slices of white bread, day old works best OR 6-8 croissants
  • 2 (8 oz) blocks Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen blueberries (before thawed)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 10 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (OR vanilla bean paste)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
Blueberry Syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen blueberries (before thawed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. Spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray.
  2. Cut all the bread (croissants) into cubes. Spread half the bread in the prepared pan, pressing down slightly.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together. Drop by the spoonful the cream cheese mixture evenly on the bread layer. Top with the blueberries and then the remaining bread.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Pour over the entire casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking to take the chill off.
  6. Remove plastic wrap and cover with foil to bake.
  7. Bake covered at 350° for 30 minutes and then remove cover and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until center is set.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Bluberry Syrup
  1. While the casserole is baking prepare the syrup. IN a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn starch and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it's reached a boil simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Add in blueberries and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.
  3. Pour syrup over entire casserole or individual portions.
Serve immediately, or cover and store for up to 2 days, reheating before serving.