White Chocolate Cranberry Poke Cupcakes

White Chocolate Cranberry Poke Cupcakes

Did you get a chance to see my Sugared Cranberries recipe? Well, here is where I used some of mine.  They paired well with my white chocolate cream cheese frosting on top of the cranberry poke cupcakes. I tried these out on my family at Thanksgiving. They were well received. If you can’t find cranberry Jello gelatin, substitute with raspberry Jello gelatin. And if you prefer to use a shortcut, just use a box of your favorite white cake mix. I won’t tell. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened (Do not soften in microwave)
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cranberry JELL-O gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 package (6oz total) Baker’s White Chocolate bars
  • 1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cup powdered sugar

CUPCAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Add cupcake liners to cupcake pans.
  2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, almond extract, milk, & sour cream. Whisk until blended & set aside.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients (cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt) in the mixer for 30 seconds so the baking powder and salt will be well incorporated into the flour and sugar.
  4. Slowly add the pieces of butter a few at a time while the mixer is on medium speed. Beat for approximately 1 minute or until the dry ingredients are crumbly and moistened by the butter, giving it the look of coarse sand. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl.
  5. It is important to SLOWLY add approx. 1/2 of the egg mixture with the mixer on very low speed then increasing to medium speed for 1½ minutes — the batter will be thick and fluffy. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Add the remaining egg mixture in 2 pourings, scraping the bowl and beating for 20 seconds after each addition. It is now ready to pour into cupcake liners.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Pierce tops of cupcakes with fork immediately after cooking.
  7. Combine boiling water with JELL-O gelatin. Stir until dissolved. Spoon gently over cupcakes, allowing to sink into fork holes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight is best.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt chocolate according to package directions.
  2. Beat cream cheese and butter in large mixing bowl for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add melted chocolate, vanilla extract, lemon juice and powdered sugar. Beat for another 2 minutes.
  4. Pipe onto cupcakes and garnish with sugared cranberries.

White Chocolate Cranberry Poke Cupcake

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Sugared Cranberries

Sugared Cranberries

Hello everyone! It’s officially the holiday season once again. It’s also my favorite time of the year for baking and cooking. I thought I’d start off with something really easy to make. Sugared cranberries are great for garnishing your desserts or dessert trays or even as a sweet and sour treat all on it’s own.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar divided (2 cups & 1 cup)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine 2 cups of sugar with the 2 cups water in a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Do not bring to a boil!
  2. Remove from heat as soon as sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a large bowl, add cranberries. Top with the sugar syrup you just made and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight is best.
  4. After your cranberries have soaked, drain off syrup completely and allow to sit in strainer for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Pour remaining  1 cup of sugar in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Add cranberries and shake until all cranberries have been well coated.
  6. Empty contents of bag onto a wire rack (with pan or foil underneath to catch excess sugar.)
  7. Let cranberries dry for at least an hour.
  8. Store in refrigerator until ready to use as garnish.

Sugared Cranberries Close Up

Grilled Chicken Marinade

Grilled Chicken Marinade

I have a huge gas grill in my backyard. In the spring and summer I love using my grill. But I am awful at remembering to exchange the empty propane tank. When this happens, my laziness and disappointment kick in and I change my mind and decide to just cook whatever it is on the stove or in the oven instead. Especially if I am not cooking for company. Recently, I was at IKEA and on a whim, bought a grill pan. I have no idea why I never had one before? I’m guessing probably because I have the gas grill in the backyard. Now this grill pan has become my favorite pan to use. I’m always thinking of what else can I try to grill on it? It’s usually chicken though. So I started running out of flavors to use on the chicken. Here’s a marinade I recently tried which my picky eater son actually enjoyed. (It is probably because there’s beer in the marinade. Don’t worry, he is over 21.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons diced onions (I used red onion, but any type will work)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups ale or beer (I used a bottle of 805 brand ale. If you don’t like to cook with alcoholic beverages, substitute with ginger ale.)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (if you prefer dark meat use 6 skin-on thighs)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix the first 10 ingredients together. (Olive oil through parsley.)
  2. Slowly add the beer to the mixture, as it will foam and bubble.
  3. Place your chicken in a gallon Ziploc bag.
  4. Pour the marinade over the chicken.
  5. Remove as much air out of zip bag before sealing. Turn the bag from side to side to make sure all the chicken has been coated with marinade.Grilled Chicken Marinade 1
  6. Place the bag flat on a small rimmed kitchen sheet pan and into the refrigerator. Allow to sit at least 2 hours, overnight for best results. Turn the bag every few hours to keep the chicken coated on both sides.
  7. Cook over medium high heat.  Depending on thickness, 6-7 minutes per side. Grilled Chicken Marinade 3

Mini Key Lime Tarts

Mini Key Lime TartI wasn’t going to post this recipe because I totally baked the crust for too long on these when I made them. And I was disappointed and frustrated especially because the  key lime filling turned out so well. I hate when things I make don’t turn out good. But not to fear, I have adjusted the baking time on this recipe for you so your crusts won’t turn into hockey pucks like mine did.

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons key lime juice (6-7 key limes)
  • zest of 1 key lime
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS FOR CRUST:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and line a standard 12 cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.
  3. Divide crust evenly amongst the 12 liners, approx. 1 heaping Tbsp in each. Press firmly into the bottom of each liner.
  4. Bake for 3-5 minutes. Set aside on cooling rack.

DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F degrees.
  2. Prepare a water bath on the stove. (Pot with boiling water.)
  3. Once the water is boiling, place eggs, sugar, key lime juice, zest and melted butter into a large bowl and begin whisking.
  4. Whisk vigorously over the boiling water bath until thick and light (approx. 5-10mins).  You can also use a hand mixer. The mixture is ready when it’s light, thick (like pudding), and ribbons form when you run your whisk through it.
  5. Pour into pre-baked tart crusts and bake for 5 minutes or until set. The center of the pies should jiggle just slightly the pan is nudged.
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack, then place in fridge for at least 2 hours.
  7. Serve cold, topped with whipped cream and key lime zest.

 

All Fruit Popsicles

Watermelon PopsicleIt is summer time. Days of 100 F degree weather are the norm here. The nice thing about summer is the abundance of fruit available. And I tend to buy more than we can eat before they go bad. Here is a great way to use some of your extra fruit up and a healthy alternative to store bought corn syrup and whatever else popsicles.  Plus, who doesn’t like a nice cold popsicle on a hot day? If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use plastic cups and popsicles sticks with cling wrap to hold them in place. Feel free to switch up your ingredients. I just used what I had on hand, but there are tons of different combinations out there. This recipe yields 6.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups watermelon chunks
  • 2 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 nectarine, sliced
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberriesWatermelon Popsicle 2

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a blender, puree the watermelon chunks.
  2.  Watermelon Popsicle 1
  3. Fill 1/4 of your molds with watermelon puree.
  4. Add equal amounts of each fruit into the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 3
  5. Pour the rest of the watermelon puree to the fill line on each of the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 4
  6. Freeze your filled molds for 4 to 6 hours; overnight is best. Watermelon Popsicle

Quick and Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad 1Do you need a quick and easy side dish to take to an office party or family gathering? I’m almost embarrassed to share this recipe because it’s really so simple  and all the flavor comes from a store bought pesto sauce.  But, hey you had to cook the pasta and cut up everything yourself.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound rainbow rotini pasta (or whatever shape of your choice)
  • 8 ounces cubed Colby Jack or Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 8 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3.8 ounce can of sliced black olives, drained
  • 3/4-1 cup pesto or Italian dressing of your choice
  • 8 ounces hard salami cubes (this is optional. I didn’t have any on hand but it tastes wonderful in the salad.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Chill in ice bath and remove once pasta is cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, cut up cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, and salami if using.
  3. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir in pesto. Mix well.
  4. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight for the next day.

Pasta Salad

Vietnamese Style Chicken Wings

Vietnamese Wings 1Yes, once again I’m making chicken wings.  Most the Vietnamese chicken wing recipes I’ve seen call for fish sauce. As my son and I are allergic to most things seafood, I cannot use it as it is too strong.  So, believe it or not, that is why I am using Worcestershire sauce for the unami in this recipe. Thus, the reason why I call it Vietnamese “style.”  These wings are sweet, sticky and a little bit spicy. Good news is this recipe is quite simple, uses only a few ingredients, no oil frying required and done in less than 45 minutes.  For my vegetarian friends, maybe you can substitute fried or pan seared tofu as the sauce itself is quite tasty.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce Kecap Manis
  • 2-3 tablespoons Sambal Oelek Chili Paste (start with 2 tablespoons and add more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • cilantro chopped for garnish
  • lime wedges (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F degrees.
  2. For easier clean up, cover a baking sheet in foil or use a silicone mat as the sauce becomes quite sticky.
  3. Lay out the chicken wings in a single layer in prepared baking pan.
  4. Season the chicken wings on both sides using salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned or cooked through.
  6. While the chicken wings bake, prepare the sauce.
  7. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the sweet soy sauce, chili paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to mix well.
  8. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the wings to a large bowl. Add half the sauce and, using tongs, toss to thoroughly coat. Return the wings to the lined sheet pan and arrange in a single, even layer. Vietnamese Wings Tray
  9. Bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned. Remove from the oven. Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
  10. Optional: Serve with a lime wedge. I like how the lime juice offsets the sweetness of the soy sauce. Vietnamese Wings 2