Jun 28, 2012

Funfetti Cupcakes

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Umm – you really do not need a good reason to make these cupcakes – you just need to make them!  They are so much fun to make and to eat – who doesn’t get a smile on their face when they see colorful sprinkles?  You wouldn’t be human if these didn’t make you happy. 

The cupcake was light and airy and the frosting was perfectly buttery and sweet.  There are lots of sprinkles – both inside and out of these beauties. 

I know that the people who I made them for thoroughly enjoyed it  based on the sweet thank you note that I got.  And I hope you enjoy them too! 

funfetti cupcake 3funfetti cupcake 4


makes approximately 24-28 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbsp. (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1/3  cup colored sprinkles

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 4 cups (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sprinkles, for garnish


1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line your 24 cupcake trays with liners of your choice.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the milk, egg whites, and vanilla extracts, whisking until well-combined.

4. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and on low speed, combine the  flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.

5. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

6. Add all but 1/2-cup of the milk mixture to the batter and beat at medium-high speed for about 2 minutes.

7. Add the remaining milk mixture and mix at medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

8. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until thoroughly combined.

9. Divide the mixture evenly among your cupcake liners and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes. Let cool completely.

10. For the frosting: In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt on low speed until combined.

11. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 90 seconds or so.

12. Pipe as desired onto the completely cooled cupcakes. Decorate with additional sprinkles.

Source: The Curvy Carrot

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Jun 25, 2012

Mediterranean Chicken and Rice

mediterranean chicken and rice 1

We had a very unusual winter this year for Buffalo, NY.  You know – the place that people think is buried in feet of snow every day in the winter.   Well, we barely had any this year – and if we did it melted right away.   I think we did snowblow the driveway one time the entire winter – which is unheard of.   So this Summer when I was inspecting my herb garden – I was shocked to see that so many things that usually don’t survive the winter were growing – parsley, sage, rosemary. 

So I was excited to have my summer stash of fresh herbs for cooking ready and available without a trip to the market for plants.  

This was a really flavorful, easy one dish meal. We love Mediterranean flavors so this was definitely a keeper.  The only caveat was that it was not that great as leftovers – something about olives being re-heated in the microwave just threw this off for me when I was eating it the next day.  Otherwise – enjoy!  

mediterranean chicken and rice 2


  • 1/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives, chopped plus 1/4 cup of olive brine reserved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley


1. Combine olive brine, 3 Tbsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp. lemon zest, 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a ziploc bag.  Pat chicken dry and place in bag – shake to coat.  Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, turning occasionally.

2. Remove chicken from bag and pat dry.  Heat 1 1/2 tsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook chicken until browned – about 3-5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate and set aside.

3. Microwave 1 1/4 cups broth and rice in a covered large bowl until liquid is absorbed – 6 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

4. Add remaining 1 1/2 tsp. oil and onion to now-empty skillet and cook over medium heat until softened – about 5 minutes.  Stir in 2 tsp. oregano and remaining garlic.  Add in remaining 3/4 cup of broth and rice and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.

5. Return chicken to skillet and cook, covered over medium-low until the meat registers 160 degrees F and the rice is tender – about 8 to 12 minutes.   Transfer chicken to cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

6. Off heat, stir in olives, tomatoes, and 2 Tbsp. parsley into rice.  Slice chicken into 1/2 inch slices and sprinkle with a mixture of remaining 2 Tbsp. parsley, 1 tsp. oregano and 1 tsp. lemon zest.  Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Source: Cooks Country Feb/Mar 2012

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Jun 11, 2012

Layered Mediterranean Dip

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We had a birthday party for my Mom a few weeks back – it was a nice, casual picnic with our family.   I knew that my family would love this dip – it has everything you could ever want in it.  Hummus, cilantro pesto, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onion feta cheese……yum!   It was a fun twist on the usual layered taco dip you get at parties.

It was a huge hit and definitely something I will be making again – especially considering I only had a few bites of it before it was gone Smile  Enjoy!

mediterranean dip 1


For the cilantro pesto:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To assemble the dip:

  • Hummus
  • Cilantro pesto (above)
  • Cucumber, seeded and diced
  • Red onion, diced
  • Sliced Kalamata olives
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • diced Sun-dried tomatoes


1. To make the cilantro pesto: combine the cilantro, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse repeatedly until a coarse paste forms.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth.  Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan.

2. To assemble the dip: spread a layer of hummus on a serving platter or dish.  Spread the cilantro pesto over the top of the hummus.  Layer evenly with cucumber, red onion, olives, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes as desired.  Garnish with an additional few tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro.  Serve with pita chips.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Jun 6, 2012

Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Whenever I make meatballs – the first night we always have meatball subs or ‘bombers’ as we like to call them.   Partly because it’s enough work to mix the meatballs and cook them and I often don’t want to also boil water and cook pasta.   And then we rarely have leftover meatballs to use with pasta since my husband will eat a meatball bomber everyday of the week until they are gone. 

So that is why I liked the idea of this ‘weeknight’ spaghetti and meatballs – one dish and get both your pasta and your meatball! 

weeknight spaghetti and meatballs 2


  • 1 lb. meatloaf mix
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 –12 oz. spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper


1. Combine meat, bread crumbs, egg, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper in bowl and knead until combined. 

2. Form into 1-inch meatballs and preheat oil in a 12-inch skillet until smoking.   Cook meatballs until browned all over; transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Add remaining 2 minced garlic cloves to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes, water and pasta and bring to a boil.  Cover, and reduce heat until medium-low, stirring often until pasta begins to soften, about 7 minutes.  

4. Return meatballs to pan and simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through and pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes longer.   Off heat, stir in basil and season with salt and pepper.

Source: Cook’s Country Feb/Mar 2012

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Jun 4, 2012

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread bars

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One of the ‘difficult’ things about having a food blog is when you bake something to give away you need to make sure you have time to photograph and taste each item that you bake before its gone.   I made these chocolate toffee shortbread bars and the chocolate needed to harden before I could cut/photograph them.   So I had to wait until the next morning to do that. 

Nothing like being a little late for work just to get a photo of these delicious beauties.   Completely worth the extra step in my morning routine to get some photos of these. 

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The best part was sneaking one (or two) of these in my lunch for the day Winking smile  Enjoy!

chocolate toffee shortbread 2


For the shortbread base:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips

For the topping:

  • 6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups toffee bits or chopped toffee bars


1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a 9 x 13" baking dish with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. 

2. To make the shortbread: combine the flour, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl; stir to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugars and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips until evenly distributed. 

3. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer covering the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the shortbread is bubbling.  Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.

4. Sprinkle the 6 ounces of chocolate chips evenly over the top of the cookie base.  Cover the pan with foil and let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove the foil and use an offset spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the crust in a thin layer.  Immediately sprinkle the toffee bits over the melted chocolate and press down gently to adhere. 

5. Let the bars cool to room temperature.  When the topping is set, remove from the pan, transfer to a cutting board and slice into bars.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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