Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A.MA.ZING! 3 - 2 - 1 Microwave Cake

RECIPE ALERT!  RECIPE ALERT!

We interrupt this regularly-scheduled blog post  to 'announce' this incredible new recipe!!
*^*

I am just giddy with glee to share this with you today....

Individual mini cakes and they're ready in a minute!

WHAAATT????

(double size)

After a friend recently emailed this recipe to me, I just had to give it a try!

This is one of those F.U.N recipes!!  Perfect when you have a sweet tooth craving and it's very low in fat and calories to beat!!

Kid - friendly too....soo kid-friendly you can hardly believe it.

Take a box of angel food (1 - step) cake mix, pour it into a ziploc bag, then add a favorite box cake mix - your favorite flavor.
(I used Funfetti) Blend both together....measure out a portion, mix with water and pop in the microwave for a minute!!!

CAN WE EVEN IMAGINE???

All you have to remember is 3 TB. mix, 2 TB. water - 1 minute in microwave!

I tried doubling the recipe in one mug and it was still done in a minute.  


I drizzled a little powdered sugar glaze over top....

The mix...the mug...the cake

The possibilities are endless...try different cake mixes..carrot, lemon, strawberry, red velvet, chocolate.  Just remember one of the mixes has to be an angel food cake (1-step, not 2).

 When you mix with water, it will 'foam' up like the angel food cake...the end result has the texture of angel food cake with the cake flavor...amazing!!!

Here's the directions that even a kid can do!
3-2-1 Microwave Cake

1 box Angel Food Cake Mix
1 box Cake Mix - Any Flavor
2 Tbsp Water
Makes 1 serving.

In a ziploc bag, combine the two cake mixes together and mix well. For each individual cake serving, measure 3 Tablespoons of the cake mix combination and mix it with 2 Tablespoons of water in a small microwave-safe container (I used a rounded bottom coffee mug - ungreased). Microwave on high for 1 minute, and you have your own instant individual little cake!

Keep remaining cake mixture stored in the ziploc bag and use whenever you feel like a treat! You can top each cake with a dollop of fat free whipped topping and/or some fresh fruit.

ENJOY EVERY FUN AND TASTY BITE!!

The Country Homemaker Hop
Weekend Potluck
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Mrs. Fox's Sweet Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday

mop it up mondays

Mixitup

Bloglovin

I've been introduced to another option for subscribing to my blog...with this one, new posts from all the blogs you follow come into your inbox in one email...it seems to be simpler to me, and I really like what I've seen there. You can easily add the blogs you follow.

See what you think...
(Icon on left sidebar too)

If we all hang together, hopefully we can get through the changes because of the loss of GFC...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guest Post: 4 Little Fergusons/Philly Steak Cheese Pizza & Texas Cowboy Pie

I am more than tickled...beside myself, actually, to be able to introduce to you, and share my special friend, Tonya, from 4 Little Fergusons.

I've only been following her a little longer than 6 months, but we are sisters of the heart, and in the Lord, and have quickly formed a special bond.

Not only do I try many of her delicious recipes, she just amazes me with all the things she does...I've teased her that I do believe she MUST have a CLONE. *-*

Be sure to grab a napkin because you'll need to wipe the drool off your chin as you read through these TWO amazing recipes...COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE!

Please give a warm welcome to the beautiful....the special woman, mom, photographer and sweet friend...Tonya Ferguson.

Take it away T....


Hello friends of The Better Baker! I’m Tonya.
070vintage
I am a midwest mom of 4, 3 of those miracles arriving in the last 4 years.
235b&w
The words spoken most often at my house are:
Hello”, “Goodbye” and “I’m Pregnant.”
I guess if I was being truthful, you’d also hear the words: ”I said No!” and “I need FIRST time obedience” as well. All this, set to the backdrop of , “It’s MIIIIINE“.
Hey, I have a 1 and 3 year old, what do you expect? :)
It's MINE! (2)
I am addicted to photos of my kids, trying out new recipes and I love to "talk shop" with other Momma's. I am into natural remedies, limiting TV time to promote reading, "Slow Obedience is NO Obedience" and making all those little moments count.
I am so so honored to be here at The Better Baker today! Mrs. Baker has quickly become a favorite blogger friend of mine, and rarely a day goes by that she and I don’t message each other or comment back and forth. She brings me such joy, and I am so thankful the Lord has allowed us to find each other in this big world of blogging!

We are doing something cool today, a 2 for 1 if you will. Both The Better Baker & 4 little Fergusons blogs will be featuring “Cook Once, Eat Twice” recipes!
I was raised in a Waste Not, Want Not home, so I am all about leftovers! When I found two different recipes both needing a roast, I decided to Cook Once, Eat Twice and share with you guys!
Let me tell ya, this is not your Momma’s Carrots and Potatoes Pot Roast dinner…

Philly Cheese Steak Pizza

(click title to print)
013
  • 1 whole Small Green Pepper, Julienned
  • 1 whole Small Red Pepper, Julienned
  • 1-¾ cup Fresh Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 whole Small Onion, Halved And Sliced
  • 4 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Pizza Crust, Brushed With Olive Oil, Seasoned With Garlic Salt, And Baked According To Package Directions
  • 8 ounces, weight Container Spreadable Plain Cream Cheese
  • 1 jar Pizza Sauce, 14 Ounce (I only used half the jar)
  • 2 cups Shredded Provolone, Divided Use
  • 1 cup Shredded Colby-jack Cheese
  • ½ cups Pickled Banana Pepper Rings
  • ¼ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ teaspoons Oregano
  • 1 can Beef Broth (14 Ounce Can)
  • 1 whole 2.5 pound Pot Roast, Divided
Slow cook pot roast with salt, pepper and beef broth 8-10 hours on low. Shred.
Take 1 1/2 cups meat, drained, from the crock pot, putting the rest away for tomorrow’s dinner, Texas Cowboy Pie.
001
In a large skillet, saute the peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic in 1 teaspoon of oil until tender.
Season pizza crust with garlic salt to taste. Bake according to package directions. My favorite pizza crust is the recipe on the back of the Fleishman’s Pizza Yeast packet. We do a big Pampered Chef bar pan size pizza, but circle would be great too.
Once crust is seasoned and baked, spread crust with a thin layer of cream cheese, then pizza sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup provolone cheese.
Top with pepper mixture, shredded beef, pepper rings, and remaining provolone cheese and Colby jack shreds.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and oregano.
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 450F.
Enjoy your delicious dinner!
Now, with your leftover pot roast you can make another meal:

Texas Cowboy Pie

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Ingredients
  • 3 whole Large Potatoes, Cooked And Mashed
  • Milk, Sour Cream, Butter, To Taste, For Mashed Potatoes
  • 4 Tablespoons Of Your Favorite BBQ Sauce
  • Leftover Pot Roast
  • 2 cups Shredded Cheese
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
Peel and cube potatoes in uniform sized cubes. Cover potatoes in water and boil, uncovered, until soft. Drain liquid, reserving one cup of the liquid. Mash potatoes until no lumps are left, adding potato liquid as necessary to reach your desired consistency. Stir in sour cream, butter and/or milk as well as salt and pepper, to taste. Spread warm potatoes in the bottom of an 9×9 pan.
Mix BBQ sauce with leftover shredded beef roast and layer on top of potatoes. Top with cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 350F.
This is a delicious way to use leftover pot roast!
There you have it! Cook once, Eat twice…gotta love it! :)
A great big Hug & Thank You goes out to Mrs. Baker and all her readers for allowing me to visit today.
Come on over to 4 little Fergusons today to see another great “Cook Once, Eat Twice” recipe!
Picnik collage fish
Hope you all love these recipes like we did!
~T

Thank you!  Thank you! Tonya for sharing these special dishes!
MMMM Good!

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Linky Widget

HAVE YOU NOTICED THE NEW LINKY WIDGET ON THE LEFT SIDE OF MY BLOG?...right under the Country Cooks Across America blog button?


Are you aware that GFC is ending this week, on March 1st?

That means for all of you who have 'subscribed' to my blog via GFC...will no longer receive my blog posts.

I want to give you a few options to continue to receive my blog posts...

 You have to sign up for this (Linky) service in order to start following. It is free and totally confidential. Linky offers the same service as Google Friend Connect. It will allow you to follow this blog, so if you haven't joined Linky yet, please click on the widget to be sure you are following me here at The Better Baker.

#2 option is to subscribe to my blog posts via email.
You can do that by scrolling down just a tad more...below the
Foodbuzz ad...and click on "subscribe by email"...or RSS feed.

#3 option is to 'like' me at Facebook - that option is a little lower in the sidebar. You will then see my posts in your Facebook feed.

Thank you very much for your interest and support in what I do here....it means more than words can say. Do hope we can continue to be in touch.

Please feel free to ask any questions anytime.


Caramel-Stuffed Snickerdoodle Cookies

I have been very fond of Snickerdoodle cookies since I was a kid.  They were the first cookie I made when in 4-H.  They qualify as Comfort Food in my book.

So when I saw this 'dressed up' recipe for my beloved cookie...filling it with another beloved favorite...caramel! I couldn't resist making them.


Thank you to The Baker Chick for sharing this great recipe.

(Of course I'm partial to someone with that BAKER name in the title of their blog too!=)

Please be sure and check out her post - she has great pictures and plainly explains how to put these yummies together before baking.
(And don't forget to tell her I sent you over) *-*


CARAMEL-STUFFED SNICKERDOODLES

2-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tb.(1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 c. pure vegetable shortening
1-3/4 c. sugar, plus more if needed
2 Tb. ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 lg. eggs
48 soft caramel candies or Rolos unwrapped
(make sure they are soft...otherwise the caramel will harden inside the cookie)

 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In large bowl bowl, using an electric mixer combine butter, shortening, and 1-1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small (1 1/4-ounce) ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough. Break the ball into two and place the caramel into the middle. Form one large ball and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Leader Enterprise - Oct 5 2011

Though I know it 'signals'winter is just around the corner, autumn is my favorite season.I LOVE the colors, the decorations, the lower temps and I love the foods that come with fall. I've decided to share some info and recipes using apples for your fall enjoyment.


Apples are a great source of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. A medium apple contains no fat and only 80 calories. Apples are also thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes and asthma. No wonder they say "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!".

- Select apples that are firm and bruise free.

- Store in refrigerator to slow ripening and keep flavor; chilled properly, they should last 90 days.

- Slip slices and dices into mixture of 1 part lemon and 3 parts water, or 100% apple juice with added vitamin c, to slow browning.

- One lb. sliced equals about 2-3/4 c; diced,about 3 cups. As a rule, 2 large, 3 medium or 4 small equal 1 pound.

Because of cross-pollination, there are thousands of varieties, but only about 100 are produced for sale.

Here are the qualities of just a few varieties available in our area.


- GALA: (my favorite!)crisp,firm,mild,sweet-best for snacks and salads.

- JONATHAN: firm, spicy, sweet with a crisp snap-best for sauces, snacks, salads, pies and applesauce.

- IDARED: firm,tangy flavor similar to Jonathan-best for snacks, applesauce and baking.

- MCINTOSH: tender, juicy, aromatic and sweet-best for snacks and cooking; if using in pies, add more thickener.

- CORTLAND: sweet with a hint of tart and tangy-best for salads and garnishes as this cut fruit is slow to brown.

- RED DELICIOUS: sweet and juicy-best for snacks and salads-not particularly suitable for cooking or baking.

- EMPIRE: a sweet cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh-best for snacks, baking and cooking.

- FUJI: sweet, juicy and firm; good for all uses.

- GRANNY SMITH: crisp and very tart-good for all uses, especially cakes, pies and applesauce.

- HONEYCRISP: crisp, mild and honeyed flavor-best for snacks, salads and sauces.


This salad is such a yummy treat, and no one will ever guess it's sugar free if you choose to make it that way.

It tastes best if eaten the same day its made.


CARAMEL APPLE SALAD

1 (15 ozs) can crushed pineapple,slightly drained

1 (4-serv) pkg.(sugar free) butterscotch instant pudding mix

1 (8 ozs) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed(fat free)

4 unpeeled, diced apples

1/2 c. dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Place pineapple in medium bowl. Stir in dry pudding mix and blend well. Add whipped topping; stir in apples. (Nuts stay crisper if sprinkled over top).



This is the only recipe I use for apple dumplings.



EASY APPLE DUMPLINGS

4 Granny Smith, or favorite baking apple

2 (8 ozs) pkgs.refrigerated crescent rolls

2 sticks butter

1-1/4 c. sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 (12 ozs) can Mt. Dew or 7-up(diet is fine)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9"X13" baking dish. Peel and quarter apples. Separate crescent rolls; roll apples in rolls from big end to little end. Place in prepared pan. In saucepan, melt butter; add sugar & cinnamon (I mix the two first) Pour over apples, then pour Mt. Dew around sides and middle of dumplings. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hr. Serve warm with ice cream. I cover pan with foil after 30 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. May use Splenda instead of sugar,but be aware it bakes faster.



ALL DAY APPLE BUTTER

5-1/2 lbs. apples-peeled, cored and finely chopped

4 c. white sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp.salt, optional

Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on high 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and cook 8 to 10 hours, stirring occasionally,until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.



This is an interesting recipe I recently tried when shared with me by a friend. I'd eaten oriental salad, but never made it before and was very pleased at the addition of apple. It keeps nicely refrigerated for several days.

ORIENTAL SALAD

1/2 med. head of cabbage,chopped

1 pkg. Chicken Ramen noodles, noodles broken; save seasoning packet

4 chopped green onions, with tops

3 chopped apples (I used gala)

1/3 c. slivered or sliced almonds

Toss above ingredients together

In small shaker or jar, place seasoning packet along with

1/2 tsp. each,salt & pepper

3 Tb. sugar

1/2 c. oil

3 Tb. cider vinegar

Mix well; pour over salad. May add nuts to each serving,instead of to salad, if preferred.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I got pretty excited when I saw this recipe at Six Sisters Stuff.

When I initially saw the recipe, I 'Pinned' it to my Sweet Tooth Yummies board...they've been RE-pinned many times and that was another reason why I HAD to make them!

Things have really taken off for me at Pinterest and I'm thrilled to pieces!

I took these yummy bites to a ladies meeting at church and was asked if the recipe was on my blog. 

{So if you've been waiting for this recipe...HERE YA GO GALS!}

It was the week of Valentine's Day so I thought this would be a 'holiday-sy' treat and sprinkled them with red sugar.

The only thing I would change next time is that I think I'll bake them in jelly roll pan.  I like a little bit of cake with a lotta frosting. *-*

The brownie is very tasty, and I SO love the chocolate chips and nuts throughout. They are a great addition to change up the texture.

I always think of my one and only son-in-love, Greg, when I see red velvet cake because it's one of his favorites.

HERE'S TO YOU GREG!! =)
Brownies:

1 (18 ozs) box Red Velvet cake mix
3/4 c. butter, after melted
1 egg
1/2 c. water
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. nuts, chopped, divided (optional)

Preheat oven to 325*.

Combine butter, egg & water in a bowl. Add dry mix, stir until the ingredients are combined, and lumps are gone.

Add chips and 1 cup of nuts, and pour mixture into the greased 9x13-inch baking pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and place the cake on wire cooling rack.

White Chocolate Buttercream:

1/2 c. (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 c. powdered sugar
4 oz good-quality white chocolate (not chips), melted –
1 – 2 TB. heavy cream

Cream butter until soft and fluffy then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time; allow the sugar to mix in before adding the next 1/2 cup. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat on medium speed for 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the melted white chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer on low, add in heavy cream 1 tbsp at a time and beat at medium speed until the frosting has reached your desired consistency.

Linked to Weekend Potluck
Mop it up Monday
Melt in your Mouth Monday
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Recipe of the Week
Gooseberry Patch Recipe Roundup - Red Velvet 











Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chocolate Chai Drink

I've been a lover of chai for years...my daughter Deb introduced me to it years ago.

Since then, I've introduced it to a number of others as too, who have shared it with others as well...

So on...and so forth!

It's a wonderful Indian drink (tea) that is creamy, spicy, and sweet.


Daughter Deb did "12 Days of Chocolate" posts at her blog for Valentine's Day and this was one of the wonderful recipes she shared.

Now I have to admit...I prefer the raspberry or spice chai, but I do love the chocolate as well.  I think the cardamom 'makes' this drink what it is...and what I love.

So if you've never tried chai before, here ya go...spread your wings and enjoy something new.  It's wonderful, warming and satisfying.

And if you've enjoyed chai from a mix, try making it yourself from scratch.  It's oh so good!


CHOCOLATE CHAI

1 cup water
2 tsp. black tea or 2 black tea bags
1/3 c. sugar or sweetener
1/4 c. dark cocoa or Dutch-process style unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
whipped cream for garnish
nutmeg for garnish

In small saucepan, bring water to boil.  Remove from heat and add tea.  Cover and steep for about 5 minutes.  Remove tea bags and pour or strain tea into large saucepan.  Add sugar and cocoa powder to tea in large saucepan.  Stir to dissolve.

Mix cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom in bowl. Add to liquid; heat and stir.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat.  Stir in milk and vanilla until heated through. Do not allow to boil.  Remove from heat.  Pour into waiting mugs and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

(If you prefer, you could strain the tea before drinking.  I don't mind the spices floating on the top, but if you do, then strain it first.)



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

{Slow-Cooker} Chicken Enchilada Soup

Oh my Goodness Blogging Amigos!

If you fancy Mexican food in any way, shape or form, you're going to love this recipe.


IT'S DELICIOU-OSO!!!
(you know what I mean!=)

I made it the same day I saw it because I couldn't wait to try it.  Tiffany at Eat at Home shares MMMMMarvelous recipes and I am pleased with every one I try.  I pinned this and know it has been repinned many times.

This recipe serves 12, and since there are only 2 of us, I cut it in half.

It calls for 1 can of cream style corn, and I still added the whole thing, and we thought it was MUY BIEN!!!!

If you family doesn't care for the zip of green chilies, just substitute with regular tomatoes. Or use one can of fire-roasted tomatoes if you prefer.  This delicious soup will take the chill off on a cold winter's day.

It's really wonderful. Great to serve with a sandwich or salad, or maybe even nachos?


CHICKEN ENCHILADA SOUP

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. chicken tenders or diced chicken
1 red bell pepper, diced, optional 
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans tomatoes with diced green chilis
1 can cream style corn
1 cup frozen corn
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans enchilada sauce
3 cups milk

Place chicken in bottom of the slow cooker. (Tiffany used frozen chicken and did not thaw it first).  

Add all other ingredients except chicken soup, enchilada sauce and milk.  Stir the last 3 ingredients together and pour over others in slow cooker.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
Top with shredded pepper jack cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Linked to Recipe of the Week
Feature Friday

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Post: A'lil Country Sugar/Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I am so thrilled to be sharing this prize winning recipe (from my prize-winning friend) Angie today. She not only has a wonderful blog - A'lil Country Sugar - I have met Angie personally...after we were both bloggers. We don't live far from each other and have gotten together a few times. She's a very dear lady and friend, and the comments she shares about me below make me BLUSH!

I love this gal and so enjoy the recipes she creates. Please please please visit her blog and even subscribe to her posts. You won't be sorry!
Take it away, Beautiful Ang....



Hi, my name is Angie Walker, the operator of A'lil Country Sugar.
But before I get into talking about myself, I would like to do a
little talking about this wonderful lady Marsha at the Better
Baker Blog.

Marsha and I have been friends since I started blogging full-bore
in 2010. She not only is a good, great, awesome friend, but she is
also an inspiration. Marsha can take the most troublesome of times
and see all the good in those troubles. She will completely flip-flop
the direction (of the bad) and get it going in the right direction
(the good). I am so glad to have this wonderful lady in my life.

I have called on her many times for advice, we have cried together,
and vacationed together (Sweetielicious). And the really neat thing
about knowing Marsha, we only live 20 minutes away from each
other. When you visit Marsha's blog, her fan page, or her pinterest,
make sure you mark all those pages because you will want to
return. Also, if you get the chance to get to know Marsha personally,
you are one lucky person.....I know I am!!

To tell you a little about me; I have been blogging steadily since July
of 2010. What started out as a hobby has quickly turned into a full-time
commitment. And I am not complaining because I am loving every
minute of it.

I have lived my entire life in the same small village in Ohio. Being
constantly trapped between endless cornfields and cows, I love to travel.
My oldest brother is an Air Force retired Veteran, and while he
was serving I got to visit....New Mexico, Alaska, Arizona, etc...

I never made it over-seas, but some day I will.
I have three wonderful adult children and two grandchildren.
I'm a full-time college student working on my BA in supervision and
leadership. I graduate this May....WOOP! WOOP!
I hope you all enjoy my recipes, my blog, and my fan page, because
all of you have made this possible for me. You are my strength, my
motivation, and my commitment.
Thank you Marsha for letting me post at your blog today.

Another zucchini "job well done".

Zucchini is one of the homeliest vegetables of the garden (I think). But they are versatile. One of the most versatile veggies out there.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if zucchini grew as beautiful as this muffin? PPFFSSSTTT....I'd be growing tons of zucchini if they looked and tasted like this.
Don't you just hate it when you make muffins and the batter exceeds the muffin pan by one or two muffins?
Just don't forget: when you have empty muffin cups, make sure you put water in them. Don't bake them empty.
Plus the steam from the water filled cups helps in the baking process.


And they look like this when they are done.
This has got to be one of the best zucchini recipes ever. Especially when dark chocolate is involved.
And the white chocolate ganache.....THE PERFECT TOPPING!

 
Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with White Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBS instant coffee granules
1/2 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. grated zucchini
1 c. Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the coffee granules and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat on low, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time and mix until combined. Add grated zucchini. Stir to thoroughly incorporate.
Slowly begin to add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. When everything is thoroughly mixed, stir in the dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups. I filled mine almost to the top.

Bake muffins 20 - 25 minutes, or until wooden pick checks clean.
Completely cool on wire rack.

White Chocolate Ganache
1 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream
In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chips and cream. Microwave on high in 20 second intervals, stirring after each 20 seconds. Do this until chocolate is soft enough to melt and become creamy with stirring.
After muffins were completely cool, I dipped each top in the ganache, and set them back on wire rack to dry.

Thanks so much Angie for sharing with us here today!  You'll always be a winner in my book! =)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Leader Enterprise - Sept. 21 2011 - Patriotism

(I'm still trying to get caught up with past published articles)

It was a pleasure to see all the ways that folks remembered 9/11. Truly was heart-stirring to see flags everywhere. Shouldn't it be that way all year long? So many lovely tributes to the fallen-it is great to know we will never forget. My family was affected directly that day as my brother, Alan, worked at the Pentagon, then and still. He had emailed me that morning to say he had a meeting at 9 AM, but I had no idea if he was in the building or not. His emotion-filled call came at 11:30. Thank the good Lord - Al had been across the street but tragically lost 2 coworkers. Our son, Dave, was in the navy and his ship was the first to leave port to head to NYC to give aid. We SHOULD always remember that fateful day that changed America, and hopefully, our families, for the better.

When kids run through the door after school, make sure they have healthy options to choose from for snacks. It was always refreshing for me to have a snack when I got home from school. How great to have things on hand that kids can mix together themselves.I found these mixes-any-kid-can-make-ideas in a Cooking Light magazine.
SWEET TOOTH MIX
2 c. pretzel sticks
2 c. multigrain cheerios
1 c. mini marshmallows
1/2 c. milk chocolate M & M’s
1/2 c. raisins

SALTY-SWEET MIX

1-1/2 c. honey nut shredded wheat
1 c. dried mangoes or pineapple
3 c. whole wheat triscuit crackers
1/2 c. roasted almonds

WILD ANIMAL MIX
2 c. animal crackers
3/4 c. dried blueberries or craisins
3/4 c. roasted pecan halves
2-1/2 c. popcorn

CRUNCH-CRUNCH-CRUNCH MIX
1/2 c. dried cherries or cranberries
2 c. whole grain rice chex
1/2 c. roasted unsalted pistachios(or favorite nut)
3 c. crunchy flaked cereal


CHEESE-FREAK MIX
2 c. whole grain cheddar goldfish crackers
2-1/2 c. cheddar flavored mini pretzel twists
1 c. dried apple rings
1/2 c. roasted unsalted peanuts

GORP (Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts) is most commonly a mix of peanuts,raisins and chocolate candies. These three flavors are mixed in a bag or bowl to create an ideal salty/sweet flavor popular with adults and children the world over. In addition to great taste,it also packs a nutritional punch. There’s no real formula for GORP, the idea being that trail mix can be a mix of almost any dried fruit, grain and nut.

One egg provides a 4-year-old with almost one-third of thier protein requirements for the day. If your kids like them, keep a bunch of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for after school snacking.
Yogurt sundae: In a parfait glass, layer several times low-fat vanilla yogurt, berries (in season or defrosted) and a sprinkling of low-fat granola.

Fruit smoothie: Blend low-fat vanilla yogurt, cut-up fruit of your choice and ice cubes.You can also use plain yogurt and add a little pure vanilla extract. It's a great way to sneak in one or two servings of fruit and fiber in your kids into diet.
Frozen banana with whole grain crackers and a little bit of peanut butter

Homemade trail mix: Mix a medley of raisins, nuts, dried cranberries and semisweet dark chocolate chips (try not to go too heavy with the chocolate chips).

Honey graham crackers with a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter (try stirring in a dash of cinnamon). Enjoy with a cup of low-fat milk.
String cheese and frozen grapes
Fruit kebabs (pieces of cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, strawberries and pineapple)

Apple slices dipped in peanut butter or nutella
Carrot and zucchini sticks with ranch dip
Make fruit and vegetable desserts like carrot cake, blueberry cobbler, pumpkin muffins. Cookies and cakes are great ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables.


Black-Bottomed Banana Bread

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

3 medium-sized ripe (or overripe) bananas

1/2 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
Topping:

1/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons rolled oats

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour bottom of a 9″ loaf pan. If using an 8″pan, just bake the leftover batter in a ramekin or two. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add sour cream, eggs and bananas and mix until incorporated.In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir into the wet ingredients. Split the batter in half. Sift the cocoa powder into half the batter and mix. Pour chocolate batter into the prepared loaf pan and top with the regular banana bread batter.
Place all the topping ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until crumbly. Spread evenly over the top of the loaf pan. Bake on center rack at 350 for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool at least 20 minutes before removing from pan.

I look forward to sharing some healthy muffin and favorite fall recipes in upcoming columns. HAPPY FALL

Leader Enterprise - Feb. 15, 2012

Anyone who has spent time around me will tell you I love a funny story. I especially love telling Reader's Digest funnies because they are true. I made a cross-stitch years ago with this on it: 'Proverbs 17:22 - A merry heart doeth good like a medicine'. So when I read this story in the Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul book,I knew I had to share it with my readers. I trust it helps your heart to be merry today.


It's entitled "Sleeping Through the Sermon" by William Weber:"  I was the pastor of a small church in a rural community. Wilbur and his wife, Leah, attended every Sunday morning. Wilbur was a farmer, and whenever he came into the house from the field and sat down, he would fall asleep. It was such a habit that when he came into church and sat in the pew he would also soon fall asleep. I discovered that some of the members of the church were taking bets to see how long I could keep Wilbur awake on Sunday mornings.

Wilbur's wife was embarrassed by his behavior, especially when he began to snore. She tried everything to keep her sleepy spouse awake. She complained to him that she was getting calluses on her elbow from poking him in the ribs in a futile attempt to keep him alert. One day while shopping in the grocery store, she saw a small bottle of Limburger cheese. Leah bought it and dropped it in her purse.

The next Sunday morning I had just started the sermon when Wilbur began to nod. When I finished the first point in my three-point sermon,  I could see that I was losing him. As I started the third point, Wilbur began to snore. Quietly, Leah opened her purse, took out the bottle of Limburger cheese and held it under her husband's nose. It worked. Wilbur sat straight up,and in a voice that could be heard all over the church,said, "Leah, will you please keep your feet on your own side of the bed".

I've been spending time at several blogs who are sharing some amazing recipes for DIY (Do It Yourself) recipes for products at home. I'm impressed with how nicely they work. They're also frugal and environmentally friendly. For more ideas,just Google 'homemade cleaners'. The internet is full of ideas.

Don't have any non-stick cooking spray on hand when you need some? Or is there just not money in the budget to buy it? You can make your own non-stick cooking spray at home. You need a clean plastic spray bottle, preferably one with a mist setting as well as spray. Then fill partially with regular cooking oil or olive oil, if you prefer. Simply use the spray bottle whenever you need to use non-stick cooking spray in a recipe. WA-LA!



HOMEMADE DISHWASHER SOAP

1 c. Borax

1 c. washing soda

1/2 c. kosher or table salt

1/2 c. citric acid (double this if you have hard water--citric acid can be found in canning aisle or look for products in dishwasher-soap aisle). Mix everything together and store in a plastic container. Use 1 Tbsp per load. This recipe will clump. To reduce clumping, add a few tablespoons of rice in a cheese cloth and tie it up. The rice will pull out the moisture and keep the detergent from clumping.

HOMEMADE RINSE AID FOR DISHWASHERS

In a small squirt bottle, simply substitute white vinegar-add food coloring so you know when it's nearly gone.Works great!

If you buy the blue rinse aid stuff at the store look at spending $3.75 or more per 30 loads. If you use white vinegar, you’ll be spending about $0.06 per 30 loads. Hello!


HOMEMADE SHAVING CREAM

1 c. conditioner

1 c. shampoo

5 Tb. baby oil

5 Tb. liquid hand cream

Use a large bottle or some other large storage container to store the shave cream. Pour in conditioner first, then shampoo.

Add baby oil; then hand cream. Secure the container and shake. Let mixture sit for about an hour. This should last atleast a month and costs less than $1.00 to make. It's great for shaving your legs.

HOMEMADE FOAMING HAND SOAP

a foaming soap dispenser

water

liquid soap of your choice

a squirt of vegetable glycerine (for extra moisturizing) (optional)

a few drops of a favorite essential oil (optional-citrus flavors are wonderful!)

Fill empty foaming soap dispenser with water, approximately 4/5 full.

Fill remaining space with a liquid soap of your choice (and glycerine and essential oils, if using) being careful not to get too close to the top.

Shake gently to mix and use. Note: you definitely do not want to add the soap first. If you do, the soap will foam up as you are adding the water to fill the container and you will end up with a foaming, half-filled container.

This next concotion is awesome. I discovered it at Grandma Loy's Kitchen blog. I made it twice over the holidays, using half sugar and half Splenda. It worked great. I can't say enough good about it. Some of the dry milk will settle on the top, but it's fine. Just stir before using; it cooks out.

HOMEMADE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK

4 c. sugar

1 can evaporated milk

1 c. non-fat dry milk

6 T. butter or margarine sliced

Put sugar in a food processor and blend until super fine. Repeat the process with the dry milk. If you do not have a large food processor, place sugar 1 cup at a time, in a blender or mini food processor and blend until super fine. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, dry milk, and butter in a large saucepan. Mix very well. Heat over medium,  watching carefully and stirring often, until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and divide evenly into thirds, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cup each. (Using Splenda produces less, so just divide into 1/3's, but each replaces a can) Refrigerate overnight before using to allow mixture to thicken up. This keep 2 weeks in the refrigerator and can be frozen up to 6 months. It may be a little grainy after thawing, but it smooths out when mixed with other ingredients. Makes the equivalent of 3 cans of purchased sweetened condensed milk. This may be made fat-free by using skim evaporated milk and omitting the butter or margarine.