Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

These cupcakes were the perfect Christmas treat! They are so pretty and taste delicious. The flavor combination of the red velvet cupcakes with a white chocolate cream cheese icing with just a hint of peppermint is incredible. I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I do. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients: 
1 box German chocolate cake mix (or red velvet if you can't find German chocolate) 
1 box vanilla pudding mix
1c sour cream
1/2c oil
1/2c water
1 bottle (1oz) red food coloring
3 large eggs
1c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Make Cupcakes: 
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Mix together all ingredients, batter will be thick. Use a cookie scoop to place heaping tablespoons of batter into each cupcake liner. Bake 18-20 mins. Allow to cool 5mins in pan, then remove to a wire rack and let them cool completely before icing.

Frosting Ingredients:
6oz white chocolate (6 -1oz squares)
4oz cream cheese
4 tblsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 tsp peppermint extract
2-2 1/2c powdered sugar
24 mini candy canes

To Make Frosting:
Melt chocolate in a microwaveable safe bowl on high for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside. Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add chocolate and peppermint extract and mix well. Blend in the powdered sugar until spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes and top each cupcake with one mini candy cane.  

So Easy Homemade Donuts

Donuts? Homemade with canned biscuits? YES! I'm not sure I'll be going to the donut store anymore! These were so easy and yummy! It would've been more effort to get out of my jammies, put shoes on, and drive to the donut store and back! Partially because we live in the country and the closest donut store is 7 miles away! 

Homemade Biscuit Donuts

What you'll need: 
1-2 cans of Grands biscuits (I used the whole wheat, but any kind will do) 
Oil for frying (I used Canola Oil, but Peanut Oil would also do) 

Preheat oil to 350 in an electric skillet. 
Step 1: Open up the canned biscuits. Flatten each biscuit out and cut a small hole in the middle. I used a small shot glass. Make sure to save the middles for donut holes. 

Step 2: Fry the donuts in oil until golden brown, flip with tongs and fry other side. 

Step 3: Place fried donuts on paper towels. 

For cinnamon sugar donuts: 
Mix 1tsp cinnamon and 1/4c sugar in a small bowl. 
Melt 1/4c butter in another bowl. 
Dip donuts in butter and then cinnamon sugar. 

For Glazed Donuts: 
Mix 1c powdered sugar with 2tblsp of milk and 1/4tsp vanilla. Dip donuts in glaze. Also try adding 1/4c cocoa plus 1 additional tablespoon of milk for a chocolate glazed donut! Add sprinkles if desired. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My first dessert for the Holidays: Starlight Mint Cake

I warned you that I was big on pumpkin  in the fall and peppermint for the winter, so it should be no surprise that my very first dessert post for the holiday season is a white chocolate, cherry, peppermint cake!! 

Starlight Mint Cake

what you need:
1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 cup  boiling water
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Cherry Flavor Gelatin
28   starlight mints, divided
3 squares BAKER'S White Chocolate, melted
2 Tbsp.  BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
2 drops red food coloring
2 cups  thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping

To Make:
cake batter and bake as directed on package for 2 (9-inch) round cake layers. Cool cakes in pans 15 min. Pierce cakes with large fork at 1/2-inch intervals. Add boiling water to gelatin mix; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Pour over cakes. Refrigerate 3 hours.
HEAT oven to 350ºF. Reserve 5 mints for later use. Place 12 of the remaining mints, about 4 inches apart, on parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Bake 5 min. or until mints are melted and each spreads out to 1-1/2- to 2-inch circle. Remove from oven; cool completely before removing from parchment paper. Meanwhile, repeat with remaining 11 mints.
BLEND 5 reserved mints in blender until finely crushed; place in small bowl. Stir in melted chocolate, sour cream and food coloring.
DIP bottom of 1 cake pan in warm water 10 sec.; unmold onto serving plate. Spread cake with chocolate mixture. Unmold second cake layer; place on first layer. Frost with COOL WHIP. Decorate with melted mints. Keep refrigerated.

Our Centerpiece Christmas Tree

We made a Thankful Tree at Thanksgiving and the kids really enjoyed it. It served as the centerpiece on our table and we talked about it most nights at the dinner table. The kids were very sad when it was time to take it down to decorate for Christmas. So, we made a Cupcake Christmas Tree to take our Thankful Tree's place. The kids had a blast making it, and they enjoy seeing it every time we sit down to the table to eat. 

Mini Christmas Tree

What you'll need: 
Styrofoam cone 
small package of tidy pins
tinsel, your choice of color
small ornaments, your choice of color/theme
topper of your choice (optional)
(I found cute little pink and purple cupcake ornaments at Wal-Mart, that even including a fun topper)

To Make: 
Start by wrapping the tinsel around the cone, holding it in place in several places with tidy pins. 

Next, use the tidy pins to secure your ornaments around the tree. Top with topper. 

It was fun to take pictures of the kids at each step, they really "cheesed" it up for the camera! 

Creamy Chicken & Cranberry-Pecan Rice

 This little tasty dish is a perfect combination together and would make a great addition to your dinner menu, or even your holiday menu.

Creamy Chicken & Cranberry-Pecan Rice

What you'll need: 
2tbsp flour
1/2tsp each: dried thyme and black pepper
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp oil
1/2c dried cranberries
1/2c pecan pieces
1pkg (6oz) long grain & wild rice side dish, prepared as directed on box
6 green onions, sliced
1c chicken broth
6oz cream cheese

To Make: 
1. Mix flour, thyme and pepper together. Coat chicken in flour mixture. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and cook 6-8mins on each side, or until cooked through. Set chicken aside. Reserve the chicken drippings in skillet. 
2. Stir cranberries, pecans, and 1/3c of the onions into the cooked rice. 
3. Add broth to skillet, stir to break up browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add cream cheese, cook 2-3 mins or until cream cheese is melted and starts to thicken, stirring constantly with wire whisk. Spoon sauce over chicken and sprinkle with remaining onions. 
Serve chicken over rice and enjoy! 

Baby It's Cold Outside: Chicken Enchilada Soup

It's been too long since my last post, so today I will play a little catch up. First up, on this beautiful winter day, is some yummy soup to keep you warm. 

Chicken Enchilada Soup

What you'll need: 
4 corn tortillas (cut into small strips)
1tsp oil
1lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 tub (10oz) Sante Fe Blend Cooking Creme (found by the cream cheese) 
1c milk
1 can black beans
1 can mexicorn
1 can diced tomatoes ( I used Rotel) 
1/4c fresh cilantro

To Make: 
Preheat oven to 400. Toss tortilla strips in oil and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 mins until crisp. 
Meanwhile, cook chicken in a large non-stick saucepan sprayed with cooking spray until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-12mins. Stir in the cooking creme, milk, beans, corn and tomatoes. Simmer 6-8 mins, stirring frequently. 
Serve soup topped with cilantro and tortilla strips, maybe even a little shredded cheese if you like. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

One Pot Chili- Perfect for a cold weeknight!

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that I do NOT like doing the dishes! I had a recipe for chili that I was ready to try, but the directions called for 1 skillet and 2 saucepans, and that's way too many dishes for a weeknight dinner. So I decided to make it into a one pot meal, and I'm sure glad I did. It was delicious! The perfect meal to eat wrapped up in a blanket, sitting on the fireplace next to a warm fire.

One Pot A.1. Chili

What you'll need: 
1lb lean ground beef
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3tblsp chili powder
1 can light Kidney beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2c water
1/3 A.1. steak sauce

To Make: Start with a large, heated 2qt saucepan. Add the meat and seasonings and cook until almost all of the meat is browned, crumbling into bite size pieces as it cooks. Add in the bell pepper, onion and chili powder and cook another 5 mins. Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 15mins. Enjoy!