Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Chocolate Cherry cupcake 1It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Need a special treat for your sweetie? Or maybe just a little treat for yourself? Sure you could just buy a box of cake mix, but nothing says love like a homemade baked good. Okay, we can cheat a little with the frosting. Go ahead and get your favorite vanilla frosting. I won’t tell. In fact, I’ll help you dress it up. This recipe makes 1 dozen standard size cupcakes. So, if you want to make more be sure to multiply ingredient quantities.

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons cherry extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup chocolate cherry chips (or you can use cherry flavored chips like Gurley’s.)

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 container vanilla frosting
  • 4 drops red gel food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon cherry extract

CUPCAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the butter, sour cream, eggs, cherry extract and lemon zest and mix well until the mixture is smooth. (About 30-45 seconds.)
  4. With a spatula stir in the chocolate cherry chips.
  5. Place 3 tablespoons of batter into each cupcake liner. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add red gel food coloring to vanilla frosting one drop at a time, mixing until desired shade of pink is achieved.
  2. Add cherry extract and stir well.
  3. Frost cupcakes as you like.
  4. Optional add a maraschino cherry or other toppings for decoration.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcake 2

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Pork and Shrimp Wonton Soup

Won TonAre you feeling the winter blues? I’ve got a cure for that. How about a fusion of tasty meat dumplings, savory broth and piping hot noodles? In my family, wonton soup has never been served as a starter for dinner. It was the main entrée. Once you make and eat your first pot of wontons, you will be kicking yourself for not learning to make these sooner. Be sure to wrap extra, as you can freeze the wontons and have half the work done for your next wonton dinner. Go basic with just wontons and soup, or go all out with wontons, soup, noodles, vegetables and the protein of your choice. Me? I always go all out. You can thank me later.

WONTON INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 pound of ground pork
  • 8-10 peeled and deveined large shrimp, roughly cut
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and minced
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, minced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, minced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine (rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package wonton wrappers

SOUP INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 cups chicken stock (Stock gives a richer flavor, but you can use broth)
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 pound baby bok choy
  • 2 cups snow peas

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add all soup ingredients to stockpot, EXCEPT baby bok choy and snow peas. Heat on low to simmer while you are wrapping wontons.
  • To prepare wontons, layer a baking sheet with wax paper or foil and set aside.
  • Mix all wonton filling ingredients into a large bowl. (except the wrappers of course.) Wonton meat mix
  • Place 1 wonton wrapper on work surface, then place 1 teaspoon filling in the center.
  • Brush all edges with water.
  • Lift opposite corners together to form a triangle to seal in the filling.
  • Make sure all the edges are secure by pressing down. Wet the opposite corners of wrapper and overlap one on top of the other and press corners together.
  • Place wonton on baking sheet. Continue until all wontons are made. (If you plan on saving some for another time, place wontons in freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months.)
  • In another stock pot, fill half way with water and boil.
  • When water is boiling, add wontons in batches of 15-20 depending on the size of your stock pot.
  • Wontons are ready in about 5-8 minutes when they float to surface. (Make sure they are cooked through. Pork should be gray and shrimp opaque.)
  • Add cooked wontons to serving bowls.
  • Add bok choy and snow peas to your simmering soup for 3 minutes.
  • Now add soup to wontons in serving bowls. And you are all set to enjoy your wonton soup!

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS/TOPPINGS:

  • Chinese egg noodles
  • Prepared meats from Chinese grocers/deli counters: BBQ pork slices, roasted duck, beef stew meat
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Minced cilantro and/or green onions

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