Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rhubarb Berry Muffins

Yummy note: When life gets busy, I bake. Seriously, it is almost more therapeutic than anything else. Not sure if it is the process of doing something and feeling accomplished that I finished it in a desired amount of time, or if it is just because I get to indulge in something yummy :)  With all of the end of the school year functions going on, teacher appreciation week, volunteer appreciation day, baseball starting and such, whew.. I knew I had to find something fun to bake. Hooray, cue in this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment. This month, I was assigned Cook with Sara. Sara had a bunch of comfort food recipes, but what stood out to me the most was she had an amazing selection of baked goodies..oh, this lady rocks, oh, and I should mention she is from the Midwest like myself... yep, excellent connection, perhaps that is why I liked her recipes so much ;-) Soo many decisions... I recently found some frozen rhubarb in my freezer from last season, and knew I had to use it up in the next month or so. When I had came across several different recipes using rhubarb on Sara's blog, I thought that would be fun. Plus, who doesn't love the sweet and tartness of rhubarb. I chose to make the rhubarb blueberry muffins as they could be easily packaged up and shared with others. These muffins were so flavorful and packed full of deliciousness, many compliments were given. So thank you Sara for this recipe, as it was a hit.  

Rhubarb Berry Muffins

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-6 oz. container yogurt (blueberry or plain)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick oats
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk

2 cups chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)*

*Original recipe stated to use 2 cups of blueberries, but I ran out, so I substituted 1 cup of strawberries, along with 1 cup of blueberries. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the softened butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs and yogurt. In a different bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients, alternatively with the milk, into the batter. Then fold in the blueberries, strawberries, and the rhubarb. For best results, use paper-lined muffin cups, and fill muffin tins about 3/4 full with the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. You may also make these into mini loaves of bread and bake for about 25 minutes as well. I topped some of these breads/muffins with a simple powdered sugar frosting, using about 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tbsp water and 1/2 tsp vanilla.   

Mini Rhubarb Berry Breads 

Rhubarb, frozen or fresh, works wonderfully in this recipe. I thawed my frozen rhubarb slightly before adding it to the batter. 

I used a combination of strawberries and blueberries, but you could use any berries or fruit with the rhubarb. 

Be careful not to stir the batter too much when you add in the fruit, just fold it in gently to avoid over-mixing.
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. 

Bake rhubarb berry muffins about 20-25 minutes until golden brown and set.
Mini breads topped with a simple frosting/glaze.
These little breads are packed full of yummy goodness! 

Please visit Sara over at Cook with Sara, as she has some of her favorite recipes ready to share with you. Here's a couple, I can't wait to try out later-  restaurant-style salsa and creme egg brownies.      

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Yummy note: The other night the kids and I were making cookies to take to one of my daughter's class volunteer appreciation party and it hit me that I have never posted our family snickerdoodle cookie recipe. I had to dig it out of the family recipe binder, since I couldn't find the electronic copy? not cool. Ok, so I had to fix that. Snickerdoodles, according to my kids, are kinda like cinnamon toast- sugary, sweet, and a little crunchy- such a great food analogy! Hope you enjoy our family-trusted snickerdoodle cookie recipe, I wish I knew where the source came from, but I am unaware of who gave me this or where this recipe originated...All I know, it produces fantastic cookies :) 

Snickerdoodle Cookies 

1 cup shortening, softened 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
2 eggs 
2 3/4 cups flour 
2 tsp cream of tartar 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda 
* additional 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs together. Sift dry ingredients together and blend into the shortening mixture. Chill dough, if time allowed. I have done it both ways, where I was low on time and baked them right away without chilling and it still worked fine. Roll the dough balls the size of about walnuts or use a cookie scooper. Drop the dough balls into a cinnamon/sugar mix- using about 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. This can be modified to your liking of how much cinnamon you like. Place dough on parchment-lined cookie sheet or on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cookie starts to puff up and the edges start to set. The cookies will then flatten some as they cool with a crinkled/cracked top.   

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Homemade Magic Shell

Yummy note: 
My Secret Recipe Club blogger this month seems to have a lot of busy activities going on in her life, such as helping her oldest daughter start to plan a wedding, and keeping up with her other soccer star daughter! Loving Life takes an effort to reflect and make comfort, delicious-looking food for her family, while maintaining a busy lifestyle. Kirstin from Loving Life recently even started doing blog entries called The Simple Woman Daybook - which is pretty interesting as it has some good reflection time and as Kirstin says it makes her  "just stop and ponder, or slow down and be creative and intentional" - so true. I really liked that Kirstin was dong this, as we often get too busy with the busy-busy of our lives and forget to do that. Speaking of taking time to slow down, I think I add dessert to my routine every night to enforce that, haha. Even if it is a small piece of candy or a treat of sorts, the kids and I enjoy that few minutes of down time in the evening before getting ready for bed to enjoy dessert. Ice cream is always a hit here, and partially I think it is due to me getting to enjoy ice cream when I was younger, as that was something it seemed like we always had around. I vividly recall the Magic Shell topping that we used to use to make a hard turtle-like shell on our ice cream and then be able to crack it open and enjoy all that chocolate. My youngest is allergic to milk, so we've never been able to enjoy the real Magic Shell here, until now with Kirstin's recipe for homemade Magic Shell! What a great Secret Recipe Club recipe find, wahoo! This worked like a charm - just 2 ingredients, and in like minutes... who can complain about that?! No unnecessary processed ingredients like in the real stuff, but with oh, so much flavor! Mm, homemade Magic Shell is now a staple in my fridge, and my kids thank you !!  

Homemade Magic Shell 

1 cup of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a dairy-free brand- Guittard)
2 tsp of coconut oil

Slowly melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave or on the stove top. Keep and eye on it, as you don't want it to overcook and burn, it really only takes just a few minutes. Stir the two together occasionally, like every 30 seconds or so, until it is completely melted and mixed together. Let the chocolate magic shell cool slightly and then pour over ice cream. Store in the fridge in a microwave-safe container. When you want to use it next, just reheating the magic shell until it is melted and use again. The magic shell solidifies pretty hard, so it is just easier to reheat in the same container when needed and then just put back in fridge when done.

Just 2 ingredients to make your own homemade magic shell - rock on!! 
Heat in the microwave or on the stove top, for just a few minutes, until melted. 
Melted and ready to use! 
 Here's to a dairy-free dark chocolate ice cream treat! 
Homemade Magic Shell solidified. It gets pretty solid, so it could be hard to scoop out just a small portion to use. So when ready to use again, remove from the fridge and just microwave it all in the same container.   
The homemade Magic Shell reheats beautifully time after time.
We've used it numerous times and each time it's been perfect. 

Here are some more of Loving Life's links that I can't wait to try out...Texas Caviar, Easy Artisan Bread, and this Mixed Berry Sorbet this summer! Make sure you check out all of the other\wonderful bloggers in our SRC. 

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Snow White Frosting

Yummy Note:
I am always looking for frosting recipes that are dairy-free, work well with decorating cakes, AND taste good. :) Sometimes, when you use a dairy-free alternative, that doesn't taste or act exactly like butter, you can get varying results. So I was excited when I came across this one from Wilton. I can't tell you how many times, I refer back to the Wilton site for the best results. Why mess with their expertise! So when I tried the Snow White Buttercream Icing recipe and realized it actually didn't have any real "butter" in it, and it was dairy-free, I was thrilled. This frosting holds up nicely, you can make it ahead of time, and I've had several compliments on it, noting that the taste of this frosting reminds them of old-school wedding cake frosting. I have used it as a thin layer under fondant, but it sets up and dries rather fast, so make sure you keep that in mind when frosting. A note is I have had maybe one bad run of this frosting, where it almost slid off the side of the cake. I am not sure if it was due to the heat, humidity, or perhaps if I added in too much corn syrup, but it wasn't pretty on about day 2 of my cake. However, the numerous other times, it worked great!   
Snow White Frosting
recipe from

2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, divided
1/4 cup meringue powder
12 cups sifted powdered sugar, (about 3 lbs.) divided
1 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavor

In large bowl, sift all of the powdered sugar. Next, combine 2/3 cup of water and meringue powder together and mix at high speed until peaks form. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, at low speed. If you mix at a higher speed, you will end up with a powdered sugar dust storm and a big mess :)  Mix well, after each additional cup of sugar. After all of the sugar has been added, add the last 3 tablespoons of water, shortening and corn syrup to that and mix well. Add salt and flavorings last, and beat at low speed until smooth. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use, so it does not dry out.  For best results, store in refrigerator in an airtight container. The frosting can keep for about 2 weeks.

I don't have pictures of the actual frosting being made as I've always been in a rush when making it or forget. But I have how the finished cake and frosting is.

In our latest cake effort -
My daughter and I made a minion banana cake for my son's birthday and decorated it using this snow white frosting and fondant.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Couscous Bowls

Yummy note: This month with our Secret Recipe Club, I really wanted to make sure I tried a recipe using an ingredient that I have never really cooked with much before. I often get wrapped up into looking at these amazing recipes from all of the Secret Recipe Club bloggers, I start to forget why I initially joined the SRC and that was to try out new or different ingredients, not just different recipes. So when I was assigned the Pajama Chef this month, I wanted to keep that in mind while reading through Sarah's blog. Lunch is really one of those meals that doesn't quite fit into meal planning, and I never really have much planned, so I like quick ideas for lunch. When I saw the Pajama Chef had a handful of ideas for 10-minute lunch ideas, I knew this was the category I had to check out. So what a perfect match, as I found this flavorful couscous bowl! I have never really made anything with couscous before so it sounded perfect. :) Boy, was it easy to make! I didn't realize that couscous was this quick to make and delicious when added with other simple ingredients. In Sarah's Italian Chicken & Veggie Couscous Bowl recipe she noted it would be easy to add and change up the ingredients, so when I realized my leftover chicken was no longer to be found in my fridge when I went to make this, I decided to saute up some quick shrimp for a slight variation. Success! A quick and delicious lunch was made, and this recipe was portioned just right for one hungry mama or two smaller lunches. Enjoy.  

Couscous Bowl 

1/2 c. water
1 tbsp butter
1/2 c. couscous
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 c. sauteed shrimp (or leftover chicken)
1 c. frozen vegetables
salt/pepper/garlic powder to taste

1-2 green onions, diced
large handful spinach, chopped
Italian dressing
* Yummy Note - Can use other variations of vegetables and protein for this dish. - See original recipe and variations here

Bring water and butter to a boil and stir in couscous. Then remove from heat and cover. Let couscous sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, saute your shrimp with a little olive oil (or use leftover chicken) and the frozen vegetables for maybe 2-3 minutes. Towards the end, toss in your spinach and green onions and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Next, combine your sauteed mixture with the couscous. Top with a drizzle of Italian dressing and enjoy lunch! 

Hello- meet couscous - a quick-cooking grain. 
Quickly saute vegetables and a protein together while the couscous is standing and the dish comes together quickly.
Combine together for a perfect lunch! 
Shrimp & Veggie Couscous Bowl - made in about 10 minutes! 
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kettle Corn

Yummy note: This month I got Debbi Does Dinner Healthy! Yeah! She is our wonderful host in our group C with the Secret Recipe Club, so this was fun to spotlight one of her recipes since I've never had her blog before. Debbi featured my chocolate brownie bites a few months ago during our Cookie Carnival! I wanted to really try for one of her healthier recipes, as she does a lot of great lower calorie (under 500 calories) recipes. Snacks are always our downfall here, and we like to indulge on them, so I had that in mind when looking. However, don't let Debbi fool you, as she has some serious guilty food treats on her site. The recipe I chose, feels like it should be under both categories, as it is so delicious, seriously we've made it a handful of times already since I first found this recipe on her site! So a toss-up between the "healthier" snacks to try from Debbi's site was either these cinnamon pretzels which I got in a holiday plate one year and was like, "oh, these are good, and simple, I so got to make these sometime" or this sweet and salty kettle corn. Then I ran across this post, and totally took me back to my childhood days, when my mom would let me dip apples in cinnamon-sugar for a treat. Then, want to talk crazy food, the not so healthier side, that needs a shout out because I've never heard of this before -- Twinkie Pie! So thank you Debbi for so many options to choose from... but the real winner was homemade kettle corn!  Make sure sure to stop by Debbi's blog Debbi Does Dinner Healthy! and say, Hi and thank her for all the work she does with hostessing the group C Secret Recipe Club.

Kettle Corn 
Original recipe here: Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

4 tbsp. coconut oil 
1/4 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup popcorn kernels 
Salt, to taste 

Add the coconut oil, sugar, and popcorn kernels to a large pan with a lid. Heat pan over high heat, once the coconut oil starts to melt, give a nice stir to coat the popcorn kernels. Quickly, then cover that pan! Note, seriously, cover it with a lid or else you will be sorry. Flying popcorn everywhere, not to mention that coconut oil gets pretty hot and can burn your hand or whatever else those flying popcorn kernels can hit.  So once the kernels start to pop, with the lid on, shake the pan every few seconds to allow even heating. The shaking of the pan, ensures you don't have burnt popcorn on the bottom of your pan. When the popcorn popping has slowed, it is almost done and you can remove it  from the heat. Finish with a dash of salt to taste. Then dig into that big bowl of crunchy sweet and salty popcorn!
4 simple ingredients = easy snack! 

Yummy yummy kettle corn... those brownish-yellow spots on the popcorn were the best.. like bits of caramel-like crunchy sugar...

Somebody gave the big thumbs up for mom on making this healthier, sweet snack!
Oh, and did we mention it is dairy-free treat, too! yeah, mom!

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Rolled Marshmallow fondant

Yummy note: I've been using this rolled marshmallow fondant recipe for several years now and it has really held up wonderfully. It is sweet, yet tastes so much better than any store-bought already prepared fondant. This homemade marshmallow fondant is so much easier to work with and roll out. Plus, who doesn't love the taste, and the leftover pieces totally reminds me of those bunny mallow candies from Easter time my grandma used to put into our Easter baskets. This marshmallow fondant quickly goes together, and you could even use your stand mixer if you wish to help knead the fondant, but I think the texture is best when you do it by hand as you can really feel it is done well enough or not. The smoothness can be felt if you knead it by hand, rather than if you used a mixer it just kinda becomes more of a ball, and it's trickier to tell the consistency. I've used this rolled marshmallow fondant recipe for covering cakes, making cut-out cookie toppers, and easy cupcake decorations. 

Rolled Marshmallow Fondant 

1 package or 16 ounces of regular mini marshmallows (Make sure you use a good quality brand or else they don't hold up as well.)
2-5 tablespoons of water
2 pounds, roughly 8 cups of sifted powdered sugar
about 1/4 cup of vegetable shortening
optional: flavored extract or food coloring

Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds on high. Stir marshmallow mixture until mixed well and continue to microwave in 30 second intervals until fully melted. Should be roughly about 2-2 1/2 minutes total. At this point, flavored extract or coloring can be added at this point if desired. Next, place about half of the sifted powdered sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture. Fold sugar into the marshmallow mixture. Next, grease hands with vegetable shortening and counter/board area generously. Pour marshmallow/sugar mixture onto working surface and start kneading the fondant. Continue kneading, for several minutes )roughly 5 minutes) until about all of the powdered sugar has been incorporated. The fondant consistency and texture should be relatively nice and smooth. If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is probably too dry, so add a little water at time and then kneading it again until the fondant becomes more firm and elastic like, so you can stretch it without it falling apart. Once fondant is ready, either use right away and roll out as needed, or store in refrigerator. Fondant should be rolled to about 1/8 inch thickness. To store fondant, coat it with a thin layer of shortening, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a resealable bag in the refrigerator. It can be stored like this for several weeks. When ready to use fondant, knead the desired amount of fondant until smooth again and then roll out to desired size. If you need to color the fondant, either add it to the marshmallow mixture as noted earlier for a larger batch or for smaller colored amounts of fondant, add color to fondant as needed and knead to incorporate color.

Rolled Marshmallow Fondant Picture Guide 

Examples of how rolled fondant covered cakes look like: 

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