Red Velvet Cupcakes … the sweet simple way

Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing … a favorite for so many people. I love cream cheese icing … can you see the flecks of vanilla bean in the photo above?  I love, love, love it :) Now, true … Continue reading

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Only 3 days left until Halloween!

I can’t believe that October has come … and is almost gone!  All the other holidays will be here before we know it.  Time sure does fly when you are having fun!  I certainly have had fun sharing my ideas with you … and there are more to come :)

Here is a quick summary of Halloween …

   Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops

   Eyeball Marshmallow Pops

   Textured Halloween Bark

   Witch Hat Cupcakes

   The Witch is Dead … Cupcakes

   The Bride of Frankenstein Pops

   Tangerine Jack-o-lanterns

   Black bottom cupcakes with spider webs

And for fall … this is what I have made so far …

   Peanut butter & chocolate acorns

   Candy corn popcorn

 

Now I am off to the kitchen …

 

 

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Peanut butter cupcakes + peanut butter frosting = one happy hubby!  But I made these cupcakes for his brother’s birthday … and he was happy.

I made a few small adjustments to this recipe, but do not remember where it came from … so I can’t give credit to the creator … sorry.

Line your cupcake pans with 20 paper or foil liners …

In a medium-size bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt … set aside …

This is my favorite measuring cup for peanut butter … it’s from Pampered Chef, but there are others available.  I like the fact that it is clear and easy to tell if you have air pockets.   Then you just push the peanut butter out and don’t have to keep scooping and scraping …

In large mixing bowl and paddle attachment, beat together peanut butter and butter until smooth …

Add sugar gradually and beat until totally combined …

Continue beating for about 3 minutes or until mixture is a light tan color …

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, about 2 minutes total …

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture …

Stir in the vanilla …

Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake pans … about 1/4 to 1/3 cup each … and bake …

For the frosting … in a medium size bowl, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth …

Mix in half of the confectioners’ sugar …

Alternate with milk …

Beat until smooth and no lumps remain …

Frost your cooled cupcakes …

Then roll the edges in chopped peanuts …

 Tomorrow I will show you how I “wrote” Happy Birthday on these cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Cupcakes:

1-3/4 cups unbleached flour (or all-purpose)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (salted is OK)

1-1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened (salted is OK)

2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped lightly salted peanuts, for garnish

1.  Heat oven to 350°.  Line cupcake pans with 20 foil or paper liners.

2.  Cupcakes:  In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a large mixer bowl with paddle attachment, beat together peanut butter and butter until smooth.  Add sugar gradually: beat until thoroughly combined, and mixture is a light tan color, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, about 2 minutes total.

4.  Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Divide batter evenly among prepared cups, about 1/4 – 1/3 cup for each.

5.  Bake at 350° for 25-27 minutes, or until lightly browned on tops.  Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

6.  Frosting:  In a medium bowl, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth.  Add half of the confectioners’ sugar, alternating with milk.  Beat until smooth and no lumps remain.  Spread over cupcakes.  Garnish with chopped peanuts.

Makes 20 cupcakes.

I ♥ comments!           Hoosier Homemade - Making Your House a Home

Cheesecake Bars with Sugar Cookie Crust

Summer time is birthday time for our family.  In a five-week span we celebrate the following birthdays … my hubby (the peanut butter addict), son #2, son #3, one nephew, one brother-in-law, one sister-in-law and mine!   My two sons’ birthdays are one day apart … not good planning on our part.  If we aren’t careful, we could suffer from birthday cake overload.  We have learned to have birthday dessert … not always cake.  This is one of those desserts!

Before we start … let me explain that I sometimes use mixes for cakes or brownies.  But, I always make cookies from scratch … never a mix … never ready made cookie dough … except for this recipe.  I have had this recipe for many years, it calls for ready made refrigerated sugar cookie dough.  After making these cheesecake bars several times, I thought it was silly to buy sugar cookie dough … so I made my own dough.  I don’t know why … but the cookies made with the ready made refrigerated dough won the contest.   I felt defeated … the Pillsbury Doughboy won … well, at least he’s cute!

I have altered the recipe to fit our family’s tastes … I live with picky people! Today we have one half blueberry and one half chocolate chip.

This is what you will need … sugar cookie dough, cream cheese, sugar, an egg, blueberry pie filling, chocolate chips and oil spray …

Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan … then press the room temperature sugar cookie dough on the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan …

Beat the softened cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer …

Add the egg and beat until smooth …

It should look smooth like this … if you didn’t drop it on the floor like I did!  Good news … the mixer survived and it didn’t even crack a floor tile!

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the crust …

Sprinkle chocolate chips over half of the pan to make Son #2 happy …

I can’t forget Son #3 … so dollop (that’s a technical term) blueberry pie filling on the other half …

Using a butter or dinner knife, swirl the pie filling with the cream cheese and press the chocolate chips in the cream cheese a little …

Bake … and cool completely before cutting …

The original recipe called for blueberry pie filling only … I like to add a little lemon zest in the cream cheese.  I am giving you the recipe for the way I made it … one half blueberry and one half chocolate chip.  This is one of those recipes that can be changed to fit your needs.  Have fun with it!

Cheesecake Bars with Sugar Cookie Crust

1 16.5 ounce package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough (room temperature)

8 ounces cream cheese (softened)

1 egg

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup blueberry pie filling (1-1/2 cups if making all blueberry)

3/4 cup chocolate chips (1-1/2 cups if making all chocolate chip)

1.  Press dough evenly in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

2.  In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar.  Add egg and beat until smooth.

3.  Spread cream cheese mixture over cookie dough.

4.  Dollop pie filling on half of the cheese mixture and sprinkle chocolate chips on the other half.

5.  Using a knife, swirl the pie filling and cream cheese mixture.  Press the chocolate in the cream cheese mixture.

6.  Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until edges of crust are golden brown.

7.  Cool completely, cut into bars, refrigerate.

I enjoy comments!   Please leave one below …

Sweet Slider Cupcakes

Sliders … teeny weenie hamburgers … on cupcakes?  My sliders aren’t hamburgers at all … but I’m sure you knew that.  They are made with Nilla Wafers, York peppermint patties and candy coating.  The cupcakes … well, it is summer … I’m lazy … I used a mix … but I did make my favorite decorator icing (recipe above – all butter version).

This is what you will need to make the sliders … Nilla Wafers, small York peppermint patties and candy coating (frosting could also be used) – red/ketchup, orange/cheese and green/lettuce … I happened to have some candy in tubes (which is very handy, but not necessary) …

This is just like building a real burger … get your buns (Nilla wafers) and hamburger (York) patties ready … put some ketchup (red candy) on the bottom bun …

  

Then put the hamburger patty on the melted candy … add some melted cheddar cheese (orange candy) on top of the patty …

  

Don’t forget the lettuce (green candy) … and the top bun … your sliders are cooked!

  

Now, for the cupcakes … bake your favorite recipe or mix … make your icing … I used a bag and a plain round tip (#12) …

This is the voice of experience … do not make your icing and put it in the fridge … then try to pipe it out of a bag while it is still cold (like I did) … or this will happen … a hard skinny line of icing comes out of the tip … it breaks … it has some pretty big air bubbles … it is pretty ugly … let your icing come up to room temperature (or at least close) …

But help is on the way … sprinkles will save the day!   Sprinkles are a wonderful invention and cover a multitude of boo boos …

Place the sliders on top of the cupcakes …

I believe that if some sprinkles are good … more must be better!

Topless S’mores Bars

Do s’mores need graham crackers on the top and bottom?  I have been wanting to make a s’mores creation for some time … but I really wanted to see the golden marshmallow … the result is what you see … topless s’more bars.

Thank goodness for family … they are always willing to be members of  the “test kitchen” a.k.a. guinea pigs.   Normally I think of s’mores with warm marshmallows and melty chocolate … but the consensus was “refrigerate them to chill the chocolate” …  I agree.  I liked using the StackerMallows … they made perfect cutting lines for servings!

You will need StackerMallows, milk chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter …

Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar …

Melt the butter … mix it well with the graham cracker crumbs and sugar …

Press the crumb mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan …

  

Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crust …

Lay the StackerMallows on the chocolate chips … don’t let the marshmallows touch the side of the pan … 30 marshmallows fit just right …

Pop them in the oven … s’mores need toasted marshmallows …

Topless S’mores Bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)

2 cups milk chocolate chips

30 StackerMallows (about 1/2 of a bag)

Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar.  Melt butter and stir into crumb mixture.  Spread mixture and press into bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over crust.  Lay StackerMallows in a single layer over chocolate chips.  Bake at 400° for about 12 minutes or until marshmallows are golden.  Cool or chill and serve.    30 servings

Creamy Lemon Ice

In celebration of the first day of summer I made my first batch of lemon ice … cold, sweet, creamy and fat-free!  I have had this recipe for many years … it calls for half-and-half … wonderfully creamy half-and-half … not exactly Weight Watcher friendly.  Have you ever tried fat-free half-and-half?   I have used it in other recipes … even corn chowder … it works well and tastes good.  So … for the first time I used it to make lemon ice.  The results … wonderful … at least in my opinion.  Of course the real stuff is excellent … but my waistline needs all the help it can get.

The real inspiration for making this is … it is summer … it has been hot in southern California … we finished picking all the lemons off the tree … I had fat-free half-and-half in the fridge … and actually had ripe berries on the vine!

This is what you will need … lemons, sugar and fat-free (or regular) half-and-half … a zesting tool and a reamer are helpful …

  

Stir together the half-and-half and sugar until the sugar dissolves …

Zest your lemon … then juice it … I used 1 medium  and 1 small lemon (I have Meyer lemons which are very juicy) …

Stir in the lemon juice and zest …

  

Pour into a shallow 9″ x 13″ pan … cover tightly … pop in the freezer … try to wait patiently for 4 hours …  cut in squares or scoop …

  

Creamy Lemon Ice

2 cups (1 pint) half-and-half or fat-free half-and-half

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Berries (optional)

Stir together the half-and-half and sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in lemon juice and zest.  Pour into a shallow 9″ x 13″ pan.  Cover tightly.  Freeze at least 4 hours.  Cut in squares or scoop.  Serve with berries if desired.

Visit Gooseberry Patch for more Sweet Treats!

Pancakes … that will melt in your mouth

Pancakes … or should I call them “mancakes”  for Father’s  Day?  I made these for Sunday breakfast a few days ago and will probably make them again on Sunday, Father’s Day.  Pancakes are the most requested breakfast by my hubby … at home or in a restaurant.  Of course if it’s in a restaurant he usually eats the pancakes and then tells me that they were not as good as my pancakes … flattery wins every time!

Many years ago I always used a boxed pancake mix … then one day I opened the cupboard and there was no mix!  So I opened up my trusty “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book” … that is actually very old … and made their Favorite Pancakes.  They were very easy to make and tasted good.  Why did I ever buy pancake mix? … I don’t know.  I made them for several years … then I made a discovery that made these pancakes even better … a secret ingredient!  This discovery was made by accident … I purchased a “different” baking powder … aluminum-free baking powder.  It made the pancakes even better … lighter and fluffier.

Use a large mixing bowl and whisk the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together …

In a separate medium bowl … beat the eggs (oops, I forgot), then whisk in the milk and oil …

Now pour the wet mix into the dry mix … whisk together until moistened … there will be small lumps … it’s OK … let the batter rest about 10 minutes … preheat the griddle to  350° (electric) or till hot … set the table … warm the syrup … have a cup of coffee …

While you were fiddling with the griddle and everything else … look what happened … the baking powder went to work … the batter expanded …

Remove the whisk … the batter is way too thick to use … using a spoon slowly stir while adding more milk (1/4 to 1/2 cup – maybe more) … until the batter reaches the consistency of cake batter … the batter will “deflate” … oil the griddle if you like a crisp or crunchy edge on your pancake …  pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake …

Let the pancakes cook until bubbles form … pop … and remain open …

Now flip them over … feel the top of the pancake … it should feel firm … when the firmness is gone and the bottom is golden … they are done and it’s time to eat …

Serve hot … with butter (if desired) … and warm syrup!

Pancakes

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour (or all-purpose)

2 tablespoons alluminum-free baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup canola oil

2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups milk

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Combine egg, oil and 2 cups of the milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stirring until moistened, but will contain lumps.  Let rest about 10 minutes.  Slowly stir in more milk until desired consistency (like cake batter) is reached.  Pour 1/4 cup per pancake on preheated griddle.  Cook until bubbles pop and remain open.  Flip and continue cooking until done.   Makes about 16 4″ pancakes.

Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies

It is no secret that peanut butter is a favorite in my home … after all, I married The Peanut Butter Addict …  he is also a cookie monster, but not blue and furry … and we have three cookie monster sons.  I have baked a lot of cookies over the years … and I mean a lot!  This recipe is one that I grew up with … my mom used it when I was a little girl (about 100 years ago).  These cookies are one of my family’s favorites.  They are just plain old-fashioned peanut butter cookies … nothing fancy.  I have tried other recipes … and always come back to this one.  Last month I shared a different peanut butter cookie recipe with you … it too is good … but this is the family favorite.

Let me show you how “well used” this recipe has been over the years.  When I got married and moved out, my sister wrote this copy for me … it has obviously had a hard life … the measuring spoons and cups are from the 1970’s also …

   Considering that this started as one piece of paper …        I think it’s time to make a new copy!

This can be done by hand … back in 1973 I did not own a stand mixer … just a large bowl and a wooden spoon.   Using a large bowl, add shortening, white sugar and brown sugar … cream until very soft …

  

Add eggs and vanilla … beat until well blended …

  

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt …

If your bowl cannot accommodate all of the flour (without causing a flour explosion) … add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the wet mixture … mix … then add the remaining flour mixture … mix well …

  

Roll dough into balls … about the size of a walnut … place on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet … use a fork to flatten cookie slightly in a criss-cross pattern … dipping the fork in water helps prevent sticking …

Bake … cool … consume …

  

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup shortening (Crisco)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup peanut butter

3 cups flour (I use unbleached)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening and sugars until very soft.  Add vanilla and eggs, beat well.  Add peanut butter and mix well.  In a medium bowl whisk or sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix until well blended.  Roll dough into balls about the size of a walnut and place on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet.  Using a fork dipped in water, slightly flatten dough ball in a criss-cross pattern.  Bake at 350º for 11-13 minutes.  Let cookies set on baking sheet for a few minutes for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Spicy Salty Sweet Pecans

I like to give gifts that are useful … or edible.  I found this recipe on Martha Stewart’s website www.marthastewart.com/recipe/spiced-pecan-hostess-gift  There is even a link to print out recipe cards that I attached to my bag of pecans.  http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/pdf3/tvs8847_spicedpecans.pdf

One time I made these nuts and accidentally forgot the cayenne!  I still liked them … just not as spicy.  This recipe is very flexible … you can easily adjust the spiciness and saltyness.  With Father’s Day around the corner … these could make a nice gift.

This is what you will need … unsalted pecans, pure maple syrup, coarse salt, crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne and chili paste …

Mix all ingredients (except pecans and 1 teaspoon of salt) … then mix with pecans …

 

Spread nut mixture on parchment lined rimmed baking sheet … and bake …

Remove from oven and toss with remaining salt … let cool

 

Now package up for a pretty spicy gift!!!

Spiced Pecans

4 cups unsalted pecans

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

4 teaspoons coarse salt

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon chili paste (from the Asian food section)

Preheat oven to 300º.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  In a small bowl, mix syrup, 3 teaspoons of the salt, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne and chili paste.  Pour over pecans and toss to coat.

Spread nuts in a single layer on paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, toss with remaining teaspoon of salt and let cool.  Serve immediately or store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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When my friend’s parents came to visit her from India, they were so nice to bring several whole nutmeg for me.  As a thank you, I made these pecans for them.  Yesterday, I received this beautiful plate as a thank you for the pecans!  I am very fortunate to have such generous friends.