Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I remember when I was a little girl, decorating Christmas cookies.  We had rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, those little silver balls that crunch and break your teeth, and colored sugar..  As I decorated, I would toss a handful of sprinkles in my mouth.  A little for the cookies, a little for me.  I got to the red sugar, and tossed a good teaspoon full in my mouth.  It was so bitter!  I ran for the water and tried to rinse out my mouth.  I spit mouthful after mouthful of red colored water in the sink, and vowed never again to stick anything in my mouth that had artificial red dye in it.

It’s been many years since then, and Red Velvet Cupcakes have become a popular flavor.  I love the idea of chocolate cupcakes, and I love cream cheese frosting, so the only thing keeping me from Red Velvet would be the full bottle or two of red dye that most people dump into the batter.  It hasn’t always been this way.  Historically, Red Velvet got its coloring from beets or non-alkalized cocoa, which has a natural red color.  I figured in this era, where basically any ingredient can be found on the internet, it wouldn’t be too hard for me to find non-alkalized cocoa.  Unfortunately I wasn’t paying attention and picked an alkalized cocoa, thought it did claim to have a natural red color.  I ordered the Cocoa Rouge off http://www.guittard.com/.  There are many other brands out there that are legitimately non-alkalized and will turn red when mixed with the buttermilk, so next time I’ll make a better effort to research the product first.

For my recipe I was going to use the normal Red Velvet recipe, but then found that far too many used very small amounts of cocoa, only 1 or 2 tbsp.  So instead I used a base chocolate cake recipe, with some cake flour to give it a softer, velvetier texture, and only egg whites to keep the yolks from altering the red color.


  • 1 1/2 stick (12 oz.) butter
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 1 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

First, make sure all your butter, eggs and buttermilk are room temperature.  Beat the butter and sugar together with a mixer until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the egg whites, one at a time.  Then add the buttermilk and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, regular flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Then gradually mix together the wet ingredients and dry ingredients until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the cake batter into 24 cupcake cups.  I found some red cupcake cups at a craft store that compliment the color nicely.  Bake at 350 degrees approximately 20 minutes.

I stored the cupcakes overnight in the fridge before frosting them.  Unfortunately I don’t have a good frosting recipe.  I used 12 oz. cream cheese, 6 oz. butter (both room temperature) and just added powdered sugar until it was a good consistency.   Then I used a quart plastic bag with the corner cut off to pipe nice little spirals of frosting onto each cupcake.  The cupcakes need to be stored in the fridge after frosting as well, so make sure you’ve got plenty of room for 2 dozen cupcakes in there!

The cupcakes turned out with a delicious chocolatey flavor, a velvety texture, and the cream cheese frosting was a perfect compliment.  I think when I try again though, I’ll probably make a few changes.  I think I’ll try adding a tsp. of baking powder, since the cupcakes were a little dense, and I think the buttermilk would have provided enough acidity to make them rise nicely.  I also think using a different cocoa might have helped bring out a more distinct red color to the cupcakes.  I’ll try to find something legitimately non-alkalized, like Dagoba.

Read Full Post »

Yeah, I used a box cupcake mix and premade frosting again.  It’s been another busy week and I just wanted something good for Halloween.  I’ve been addicted to those dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s and just wanted to incorporate them into some other kind of dessert.


  • 1 box of dark chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 bin dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s

I mix the eggs, butter and peanut butter together first.  Then I add the milk and mix according to the directions on the package.  The cake batter can be spread out to approximately 36 or more cupcakes, because the peanut butter cup in the middle will take up some space.  Only fill the tin about 1/2 full.  Then unwrap the peanut butter cup and place it in the center, pushing down only enough so that it sticks in the middle.  If you push the peanut butter cup down too far into the batter it will end up just making a mess at the bottom of the cupcake.

Bake approximately 21-22 minutes at 350 degrees.  The peanut butter cup will sink while baking.  By the time it’s done baking, the peanut butter cup should be completely hidden inside the cupcake.

After the cupcakes are cool, frost with a rich, dark chocolate or fudge frosting.  Then enjoy!


Read Full Post »

I made this today for brunch, and it tasted great.  I’m still not sure what sort of dipping sauce might be appropriate.  This recipe is for 2 servings, 1 quesadilla each.


  • 2 medium tortillas
  • 12 crushed almonds (pecans would also work well in this recipe, but I prefer almonds)
  • 1/3 apple
  • one 4 oz. slice of ham
  • 2-3 oz. Fromager D’Affinois (or other very soft brie), w/o rind
  • 2-3 oz. shredded cheddar/jack mix
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • cooking oil

Crush approximately 12 almonds (or pecans if you want).  Slice your 4 oz. ham into small pieces.  Then slice up about 1/3 of an apple into small pieces.   On medium heat, melt the butter and a tbsp. of oil.  Toss in the ham, apple and almond and stir.  It’ll take about 5-10 minutes to fry up, stirring about every 2 minutes or so.  About halfway through cooking, add the 1 tbsp. maple syrup.  Make sure you use 100% maple syrup and not “table syrup”, because flavored corn syrup won’t give it the same flavor or caramelization.

Ham, apple and almonds are about ready

While your ingredients are cooking, fold the tortillas in half to get a good seam down the middle.  Spread your brie over 1/2 of each tortilla.  You may have to purchase more than 3 oz. of brie to get the required soft parts you’re looking for.  The rind of brie is great with chardonnay though, so save the rind for later.

When your ham, apple and almonds are cooked well and most of the maple syrup has been absorbed, empty the pan into a paper towel lined bowl.  You can either wipe out the pan or use a new pan for cooking the rest of the quesadilla.

Tortilla, Brie, Ham, Apple, Almonds, and Shredded Cheddar + Jack

Spoon the ingredients onto the brie side of the tortillas.  Try not to get too close to the edges, otherwise your food will fall out.   Then top with the shredded cheese and fold the other half of the tortilla over.

You’ll want to cook the quesadillas rather quickly since the inside is fully cooked already.  Your main goal is just to brown the outside and get it nice and crispy.  Medium heat with a bit of oil in the pan should work fine.

When both sides are a golden brown color, remove from the pan and cut into 3-4 pieces.  As I’ve said, I haven’t figured out a good dipping sauce for this one yet, but the honey dijon sauce from the chicken/bacon/mushroom quesadilla recipe might go well with it.

Read Full Post »

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake is pretty easy to make.  The recipe is easy to memorize, easy to make larger or smaller, and has infinite variations.  The basic formula is 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg.  Most cheesecakes double that, to fit well inside of a typical pie crust.

Cream Cheese and Sugar


  • 2  8 oz. packages of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ready-made graham cracker pie crust

Place a pan with water in it at the bottom shelf in your oven, and preheat to 325 degrees.  Cut the cream cheese into small squares and let them warm and soften a bit.  Add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat with a mixer until the sugar is completely dissolved in the cream cheese, and the mixture starts becoming light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time to the batter, mixing just a short amount until the egg is incorporated into the batter.  Then add the vanilla and mix again.

Add Eggs One At A Time

Put the ready-made crust on a baking sheet for stability.  Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust.  Put it in the oven on the middle rack (above the pan of water) and bake for approximately 35 minutes.  The center may look a bit “wet” but it continues baking for a while after you’ve taken it out of the oven.  After about an hour on a cooling rack, move the cheesecake into the refrigerator to finish cooling.  It should fully cool before eating.  Keep in mind that plastic wrap may make odd patterns on the top of your cheesecake, so you can cover it with a concave dish to prevent this.

It’s very important you don’t overbake your cheesecake, or it may crack.  The pan of water also helps prevent cracks, but make sure you don’t open the oven to peak while it’s baking, otherwise you’ll let out the moisture.

Variations on this cheesecake recipe are limitless.  Most fruit toppings go well with cheesecake, but you’ll just put these on the top, after the cheesecake has fully cooled.  Very rarely will a recipe suggest baking the fruit in the cheesecake batter, though I have done this successfully with a caramel apple cheesecake in the past.  Most added ingredients get mixed in last, after the eggs and vanilla.


  • Pumpkin cheesecake – use 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin, 1 8 oz. cream cheese, and pumpkin spices like ginger, cinnamon and allspice.  Eggs and sugar and general preparation is the same, except the pumpkin is added after the cream cheese and sugar are blended.  This will result in extra batter which can be baked separately, or discarded
  • Almond cheesecake – same as above, but add 1/2 cup of almond paste or 4 oz. almonds that have been finely ground in a food processor.
  • Caramel apple cheesecake – add 1/2 cup diced apple bits, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and top with a caramel topping.
  • Chocolate chip cheesecake – use a chocolate graham cracker crust and add 1/2 cup of very small chocolate chips.  If you use normal sized chocolate chips you’ll have difficulty cutting the cheesecake later.
  • Chocolate cheesecake – add 1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate to the batter, or 1/3 cup cocoa powder.
  • Peanut butter chocolate – add 1/3 cup peanut butter to the batter, put 2/3 of the batter in the crust.  Then add a few teaspoons of cocoa to the remaining batter (your personal preference for the darkness of the chocolate), mix, and add in large spoonfuls to the top of the peanut butter batter.  Run a knife through the batter to blend the chocolate and peanut butter batters together a bit.  I made this one most recently, and unfortunately I over-baked it by a few minutes and it broke on top…

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Read Full Post »

My kind of Mai Tai

After being dissatisfied with the Mai Tai I was served this weekend, I was thinking of ways I could improve upon the recipe.  It’s quite a departure from the original Mai Tai as I used orange juice instead of blue curacao, no lime, and strawberry/banana instead of pineapple, but I think it makes for a very good mixed drink all the same.  You don’t have to use my particular brands but I feel these are the best of their kind.

Magie’s Mai Tai

  • 1 oz. light rum (Bacardi)
  • 1 oz. dark rum (Captain Morgan’s Private Stock)
  • 1 oz. amaretto (Disaronno)
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 3 oz. strawberry banana juice blend (I used Target brand, I believe there is also V-8 brand.  Contains several other juices too but the strawberry banana flavor shines through)

Mix and pour into a glass filled with ice.

Read Full Post »

My husband’s favorite kind of cookie is peanut butter chocolate chip.  Over time I’ve developed this recipe that makes for soft, delicious cookies with a subtle peanut butter flavor.


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, mix softened butter (you can microwave it for a bit, but don’t get it all melty), peanut butter and both kinds of sugar with a mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes or so.  You want the sugar to get completely dissolved and for the mixture to get whipped up a bit.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well.  Then add the vanilla and mix again.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt together.  You want to make sure that baking soda is evenly distributed throughout the flour before adding it to the liquids.  Add the dry mixture into your large mixing bowl, blending on low for a very short time.  Don’t over beat or you’ll end up with tough cookies.  Then add the chocolate chips and mix by hand until the chocolate chips are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Preheat the oven to 370 degrees (I’m picky, I try to get to the nearest 5 degrees instead of the nearest 25 degrees like most people.)  Roll small balls of cookie dough between your palms to make about 1-inch diameter cookie balls.  I like to make many small cookies rather than larger cookies, they tend to cook better this way.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes.  It’s very important that you don’t over-bake if you want soft cookies.  The moment you see even a hint of brownness, take them out of the oven.  The recipe should make approximately 50 small cookies.

Read Full Post »

Pineapple Under the Sea

  • 1.5 oz light rum
  • 1.5 oz amaretto
  • 5 oz pineapple juice

Serve in a tall glass over ice.  It’s a very weird, complex and flavorful drink.

Read Full Post »

It’s not very Mexican at all, but I’ve found that a quesadilla is the best way to combine bacon, mushrooms and chicken, and I love being able to dip my food.  You can make these one at a time, but this particular recipe is rounded up to 6 servings.  The ingredients are:

  • 6 medium soft tortilla shells (I prefer Mission brand)
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken
  • 1 package bacon
  • 8 oz. mushrooms
  • 6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • dijon mustard (Maille is my favorite)
  • honey
  • 1 tbsp. sour cream

I usually cook the chicken and bacon hours or even a full day before, so it’s cool and easy to chop into small pieces the day I make the quesadillas.  For the chicken, I’ll quickly sear each side, then put in a cooking dish with a mixture of honey and dijon for simmering.  It helps to add a tsp of vinegar as well, to make the chicken more tender.  You can cook the chicken at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes to over an hour, depending upon how well done you want it cooked.  Cooking it for a shorter time will result in firm meat that you can cut into small chunks, cooking it for longer will allow you to shred the chicken if you prefer.  Make sure the chicken is submerged in liquid, and covered to keep it from drying out.

The bacon will be cooked normally, in a skillet on medium low heat until fully cooked, then laid out on paper towels to absorb the extra fat.  I usually cut the bacon into thirds with a kitchen shears prior to cooking it, since I’ll be chopping it all up later anyway, and smaller pieces are easier to cook evenly.  I also save the bacon fat by draining it through a paper towel once I’m done.  I use my leftover bacon fat for sauteing the mushrooms, and it also works wonderfully in cornbread or making hashbrowns.

I also prepare the sauce a few hours before as well, just because the honey works better if it’s cooled.  You can put 1/3 cup of honey in a small bowl in the refrigerator for a bit, so it gets cooler and thicker.  Then add 1/3 cup of dijon mustard, and a tablespoon of sour cream, and whip with a fork until it’s smooth and creamy.  This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple days.

I cut the bacon and chicken into small cubes and set aside.  It’s easier to get all this done prior to starting the mushrooms.  Mushrooms cannot be prepared the day before, so prepare them right before starting your quesadillas.  Wash your mushrooms, dry them, trim off the bottom of the stems and slice.

Mushrooms will be cooked at medium heat in a skillet.  I use the leftover bacon fat, but you can use whatever oil you choose.  When the mushrooms are done cooking, place them on a dish with a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.  You’ll want these to cool a bit before handling them.

For a single serving quesadilla you can use one medium tortilla shell and fold it over, but what I’ll demonstrate is how I usually make them, in 2 servings.  Each 2-serving quesadilla will need 2 tortilla shells, approximately 1/3 of your chopped bacon, 1/3 of your chopped chicken, 1/3 of your mushrooms, and 2 oz. of each kind of cheese.

I usually start with the cheddar cheese at the bottom, then a layer of chopped chicken, a layer of bacon, then the mushrooms on that.  At this point the quesadilla starts becoming unwieldy and large, and I finish it off in the pan.  I’ll carefully grab the tortilla shell from each side, and then carefully place it in a large skillet at medium-low heat.

After I’ve safely gotten the quesadilla to the skillet, I’ll then put the top layer of jack cheese , and the top tortilla shell.  The reason this is cooked on a lower heat than normal quesadilla is because you’ll want the top layer of cheese to be able to melt a bit, to glue the whole thing together.  Flipping without tossing food bits all over is going to be very tricky, but you’ll get it with practice.  Wait until the bottom is a golden brown color, then flip.

Then just cook the other side until it’s the same golden brown color.

When your quesadilla is fully cooked, cut it into 8 pieces.  Each serving is 4 pieces, and you’ll arrange them nicely on the plate with a small bowl of honey dijon sauce.

Read Full Post »

I love making cheeseburgers with a fried egg.  The only probably with these is, they usually fall apart because the fried egg is so slippery.  My solution is to make the egg part of the bun, as sort of a “french toast” hamburger bun.  This retains the eggy goodness, while not making the burger too slippery to eat.

For one burger, you will need:

  • hamburger bun
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp milk
  • hamburger patty
  • cheese slice
  • 1 leaf of green leaf lettuce
  • 2 slices of yellow tomato
  • 2 tbsp. mayo
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili paste

First take an egg and break it into a shallow plate.  Add the tsp of milk and whisk it with a fork until it’s an even, frothy yellow color.

If you haven’t cooked your patty already, set that up for cooking as well.  I won’t go into the instructions for that, since it’s pretty easy to cook a hamburger patty.  Either grill it if you’ve got a grill around, or cook it on medium heat in a skillet until it’s your preferred doneness.

Your bun will be cooked at a medium-low heat, lower than you would cook the meat at.  When your skillet is heated, dip only one side of the hamburger bun in, not both sides. If you try to cook the “round” part of the bun your bun won’t look very good in the end.  Make sure your pan has enough oil in it so the egg doesn’t stick at all.  I prefer to use butter, or a mixture of peanut and sesame oil.

When the bun is done cooking, it will look a lot like french toast. 

If you time it right, you should make the bottom bun ready before the meat and the top bun.  I like chili mayo on my eggy burgers, so that’s what I’ve done here.  First spread it on the bottom bun, then add the tomato slices and lettuce.  The yellow tomato is used because the sweet, mild flavor tames down the spiciness of the chili.

Put the hamburger patty and cheese on the lettuce, and then your top bun should be done as well.  I put chili mayo on both buns, but you can use ketchup, mustard, relish, or whatever you like.  Then eat up while it’s still hot!

You Can See Its Insides!

Read Full Post »

Chicken Satay Salad

Chicken Satay Salad

This is a recipe of my own creation.  I usually use a store-bought satay sauce for the cabbage, and mix my own for the simmer sauce.  I just can’t make my own sauce that’s as smooth and creamy as store-bought for the final product.

Ingredients for simmer sauce:

  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime (approx. 1.5 oz.)
  • 1/2 tbsp. sambal oelek chili paste
  • 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 peanut oil
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/3 oz. cilantro

Stir the all the ingredients together except the peanut butter and cilantro, that won’t really mix in yet.  Keep separate until the chicken is ready.

  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts (tenderloins are best)
  • peanut satay sauce
  • 2 14 oz. cabbage packages, shredded
  • 1/4 c. peanuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • crunchy noodles
  • 1/3 oz. cilantro (just the leaves)

First sear the chicken at a high heat in some peanut oil.  When both sides are light brown (but the chicken will still be pink on the sides) then add your simmer sauce.  Mix in the liquidy ingredients, then the cilantro (stems are fine in this) and the peanut butter.  Bring the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the chicken has finished cooking, you’ll want to take out just the meat and discard the simmer sauce.  It becomes lumpy and unappetizing.  This is why I use store-bought for on the cabbage.  If anyone has a solution to this, let me know.  Put the chicken in the fridge and start on the veggies.

Get all your mushrooms, bell peppers and cucumber washed and sliced.  Also crush your peanuts if you haven’t done this already.

Add a few tablespoons of satay sauce into a bowl full of cabbage and mix.  You’ll only want to thinly coat the cabbage, not drown it like it was coleslaw.  Once the cabbage and sauce are mixed together, put the cabbage into a large, shallow dish (13X9 baking dish works fine).  Top the cabbage with the vegetables, then the chicken, drizzle a bit more satay sauce over that, then lastly the crushed peanuts, cilantro leaves and crunchy noodles.

If the dish is prepared before hand, keep ingredients separate until just before serving.  Otherwise the crispness will be lost, and texture is the most important part of this dish!

This dish serves approximately 6-8 if it’s the main dish, or approximately 20 if it’s just a side.  Usually what I’ll do is prepare the chicken on the first day, then just make small amounts of the veggie salad part each day after that so we can have chicken satay salad many days in a row.  Also, when I make individual servings, it’s easier to accommodate people (like my husband) who don’t like so many cucumbers and mushrooms, and won’t even eat food that’s touching bell peppers.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »