Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Here in California we are under a statewide Shelter in Place directive. There’s only so much house cleaning I can do to pass the time. So now it’s on to baking. I decided to bake some treats for my elderly mother and her neighbors and make little treat boxes for them. These carrot  cake cupcakes were one of the items I made for them.

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots, or more to taste
  • 1 (8 ounce) can finely crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

CUPCAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper muffin liners. Set aside.
  3. Place flour in a bowl. Add salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Sprinkle in ground ginger and cinnamon. Whisk thoroughly until combined. Set aside.
  4. Add sugar to a separate bowl. Whisk in eggs until mixture is smooth and pale yellow, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Heat butter and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat until just melted but not too hot. Whisk into the bowl with the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add carrots, crushed pineapple, pecans, and raisins. Stir well.
  6. Stir flour mixture into the carrot mixture until no dry spots remain.
  7. Pour mixture into prepared cupcake pan. Carrot Cake Cupcakes 1
  8. Tap the pan against your counter to let any big air bubbles rise to the surface.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting, at least 40 minutes.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and lemon juice together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar to form a smooth frosting. Spread evenly over the cooled cupcakes.Carrot Cake Cupcakes 3
  2. Garnish with grated carrots. (optional) Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Air Fryer Tofu

Air Fryer Tofu 4

My son gave me an  air fryer last Christmas. I was skeptical about using it. But it turns out to be a convenient tool. I use it frequently instead of using my oven or dealing with deep frying oil splatters on my person. I started with the usual, frozen fries and egg rolls.  But now I’ve ventured out to actually making recipes with the air fryer. Today’s test is crispy air fryer tofu. I made a simple marinade for this. Next time I will make a sauce to pour over these. But I set out to make crispy tofu and I would say the air fryer did it’s job well.  Keep in mind, I have a large 5.8 quart air fryer, if you have a smaller one you may have to cook in batches. Hey, I actually made a vegetarian dish!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (16 ounce) block extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
  • sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place heavy pan over tofu block to squeeze out excess liquid for 15 minutes. Discard liquid.
  2. Cut tofu into bite sized pieces.
  3. In a small bowl or Ziplock bag, place tofu pieces and add remaining ingredients for marinade. Let sit for  an additional 15 minutes,
  4. Preheat your air fryer for 5 minutes on 380 F degree.
  5. Add tofu blocks to your air fryer in a single layer. Cook for 15 minutes. Check around the 8 minute mark, and flip tofu blocks over. Air Fryer Tofu 1
  6. Plate crispy tofu and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Air Fryer Tofu 3

Apple Cranberry Stuffing

Apple Cranberry Stuffing

When you have a big family dinner planned it’s hard to give all your dishes your full attention. So take help where you can, and go the semi homade route. This quick recipe is an excellent side dish and if you substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock it can be vegetarian too.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 stick of butter or 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red or yellow onion, chooped
  • 1 package  (6 ounces) Ocean Spray Craisins® (dried cranberries)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 package (14 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Stuffing mix
  • Poultry seasoning optional

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F degrees.
  2. Heat the butter or oil in a 3 quart sauce pan over medium heat.
  3.  Add the apples, celery and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the stock to the saucepan and heat to a boil.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  6. Add the stuffing and dried cranberries and mix lightly.
  7. Add additional poultry seasoning to taste. (This is optional, as the stuffing mix is already seasoned.)  Spoon the stuffing mixture into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.  Cover the baking dish with foil.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the stuffing mixture is hot. (For crunchier stuffing, bake uncovered.)

Oreos Frosting Cupcakes

Oreo Cupcakes

Rejoice chocoholics! Have I got a cupcake for you! I’ll give you the scratch recipe, but feel free to go the semi homade route and start with your favorite box of chocolate cake mix.  The frosting is made with all the extra help you can get. So no judgements made here. These are great to share with your friends, families or co workers. The holidays are coming up, make a batch for your next holiday party.

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 jar (12 ounces) chocolate fudge topping
  • 1 box (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • package (14.3 oz) Oreo chocolate creme sandwich cookies, crushed

CAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre heat oven to 325 F degrees.
  2. If you are using a packaged cake mix, prepare as directions state. Otherwise go to next step.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add oil, coffee and milk and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat 2 more minutes. Expect batter to be thin.
  4. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups, filling cups half full.
  6. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when gently touched. Cool in pans 3 minutes. Remove from pans; use end of wooden spoon to poke 3 holes into each hot cupcake. Oreo Cupcakes 1
  7. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate fudge topping uncovered on High 20 to 30 seconds or until thin and pourable. Spoon over warm cupcakes. Cool completely, about 20 minutes. Oreo Cupcakes 2
  8. In the meantime, prepare the frosting mixture.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. In medium bowl, beat pudding mix and milk with whisk about 4 minutes or until soft set. Fold in whipped topping with spatula. Oreo Cupcakes 3
  2. Stir all but 1/2 cups crushed cookies into pudding mixture. Oreo Cupcakes 4
  3. Spoon frosting mixture on tops of cupcakes. Top with remaining crushed cookies.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Oreo Cupcakes 5

Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole

 

 

Tater Tot Casserole

My favorite cooking shows to watch when I was growing up were “30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray” and “Semi Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee.”  These ladies taught me to cook meals quicker and to use ready made help to make recipes easier. To this day I still like to incorporate concepts I learned from these cooks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 16 ounces of nacho cheese sauce
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted if frozen
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted if frozen
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese
  • 1 28 ounce bag Ore Ida frozen mini tater tots

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare 13″X 9″ baking dish by greasing with cooking spray. Set aside baking dish. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
  2. In a skillet, cook ground beef over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink; drain fat. Add onions and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Stir in cheese sauce.
  3. Place meat and cheese mixture in prepared baking dish.  Tater Tot Casserole 1
  4. Layer peas and corn on top of meat mixture. Tater Tot Casserole 2
  5. Layer shredded cheese on top of peas and corn. Tater Tot Casserole 3
  6. Lastly, layer evenly tater tots on top of casserole.
  7. Tater Tot Casserole 4
  8. Baked uncovered 50 minutes or until tater tots are crispy and golden brown and mixture is bubbling.

 

Tater Tot Casserole 6

Easy Chicken and Rice Bake

No peak chicken

After weeks of health issues and doctor and specialists appointments, I just want to think about something else. ANYTHING else. These days, I have been making easy recipes. Some are so embarrassingly easy I just can’t get the nerve to post them on this blog. This recipe is probably one of them. Don’t be too hard on me. Remember, I’ve not been well lately.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1 can cream of chicken
  • 1 can cream of mushroom
  • 1 empty soup can of water
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pack Lipton onion soup mix

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Prepare a  9″ x 13″ baking dish by greasing with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix rice, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, water, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
  4. Pour rice mixture in prepared baking dish.
  5. Place chicken breasts on top of rice mixture.
  6. Salt and pepper each chicken breast.
  7. Spoon equal amounts of dry onion soup mix on top of each chicken breast. No peak chicken 1
  8. Cover dish with foil.
  9. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. No peaking!
  10. Garnish with chopped parsley. (Optional)No peak chicken 2

Skillet Orange Chicken

Skillet Orange Chicken 3

I don’t like to deep fry foods. I mean, I like to eat deep fried foods. I just don’t like dealing with the all that oil splattering and the clean up afterwards. And also, I’m a bad luck magnet. If you can get burned or cut or hurt by something, 8 out of 10 times I will be that person. This is as close to deep frying as I get by skillet or pan frying foods. So for those of you who were wondering why I didn’t deep fry my chicken for this recipe, now you know.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less or more according to your tastes)
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons cornstarch, salt and pepper.
  2. Add chicken pieces into cornstarch mixture. Stir to coat.
  3. Heat large pan over high heat and add oil. (add more oil if needed to coat bottom of pan)
  4. Add chicken to the pan. Continue cooking over high heat until browned and turn over. About two minutes per side. Skillet Orange Chicken 1
  5. Meanwhile make the orange sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons cornstarch, marmalade, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and chicken broth.
  6. Once the chicken is browned, reduce heat to medium and add the sauce mixture. Cook and stir until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  7. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions if desired.
  8. This recipe makes up to 4 servings. Skillet Orange Chicken 2

Pineapple Pulled Pork

Pineapple Pulled Pork

It’s officially summer over here. When it gets over 100 degrees I don’t want to do anything but lay under the ceiling fan and melt until the air conditioner gets going. Needless to say, I sure don’t want to be cooking in a hot kitchen. That’s where my crock pot comes in handy. Let it do all the work and I get all the credit. I’d say that’s a big win.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast
  • 1/3 cup Hoisin sauce (found in your grocery store international aisle)
  • 1 cup fresh or canned pineapple, mashed
  • 2 cups chicken stock

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place pork roast in crock pot. Cover roast in the Hoisin sauce  and 1/2 of the mashed pineapple. Save the other half of mashed pineapple to serve on shredded pork.
  2. Pour in chicken stock.
  3. Set crock pot to High and set timer for 5 hours.
  4. Once pork is done, shred pork with two forks. Pineapple Pulled Pork 2
  5. Serve on Hawaiian bread rolls, or regular dinner rolls or tortillas.
  6. Enjoy!

Pineapple Pulled Pork 1

One Pot Swedish Meatballs and Noodles

Swedish Meatballs 2

I remember when my dad  was in the hospital, he used to say how much he liked their food. And I would think to myself, “Must be the drugs they gave him.” I recently spent four days in the same hospital my dad stayed. So I got to eat quite a few of the same meals there myself. None of my meals were outstanding or deserved rave reviews like my dad gave them. But the one thing they had in common was they were comforting. Comfort foods, like meatloaf and mashed potatoes or roasted chicken.  Foods that made you feel better being alone in a strange place and stuck in a strange bed for whatever scary health reason you are there.  So maybe that’s why my dad raved so much.  I have no idea what this has to do with my Swedish meatballs and noodles recipe, but I do consider it a comfort meal. And being in the hospital made me think of my dad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (Use 1/2 a pound, if you like smaller meatballs)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 cup seasoned panko or breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pepper for meatballs
  • 1 teaspoon salt for meatballs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream or milk
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper. Shape your meatballs into 1-2 tablespoons sized balls.
  2. Heat your oil in a pot over medium high heat. Place your meatballs into the pot. Cook meatballs for 1 -2 minutes and flip.
  3. Add the beef broth and heavy cream (or milk) and worcestershire sauce and stir well.
  4. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the egg noodles. Stir every minute, until the pasta is cooked and the liquid has reduced to a sauce that coats the noodles. 6-8 minutes.
  5. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.

Swedish Meatballs 1

Easy Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I never need a special reason to eat or make Mexican food.  Once you see how easy this rice is to make, you will be volunteering to bring the Mexican rice to your family gatherings or potlucks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • chopped cilantro or green onions for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add 3 tablespoons oil in a deep skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the rice and stir constantly until the rice turns golden brown.Mexican Rice 1
  2. Next add the chicken or vegetable stock. The mixture will bubble up and should be followed by the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and salt.Mexican Rice 3
  3. Bring to a boil and and stir to dissolve the tomato paste into the stock mixture and rice.
  4. Cover with skillet with a lid and turn down the heat to low and set timer for 20 minutes.
  5. When the rice is done, fluff with a fork.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro or green onions.Mexican Rice 4