Sunday, October 31, 2010

Slow Food

I recently needed to have dinner cooking while I was at the school volunteering in the late afternoon, and so I cooked up this keeper in the crock pot. It was originally from, but I've altered it so heavily, that it is now my own creation. And, there are no photos, because we scarfed it all down before evidence of the dish could be created.


Arroz Con Polo Limón

3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or thighs
2/3 c. lime juice
4 c. chicken broth
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
4 Tbs. butter, melted
4 c. uncooked instant brown rice (= one box of Minute Rice - brown)

Put the chicken in the slow cooker; pour in the lime juice and chicken broth, add the garlic, cumin, pepper, and butter. Cover, and cook until the chicken is tender. Stir in the rice during the last 20 minutes of cooking time.

Cooks on Low 8-10 hours, on High 4-6 hours, or on High 2 hours if you pre-cook chicken in the microwave on 1/2 power for about 15 minutes, before adding to the slow cooker.

Serve with cubed avocado, diced onions, salsa, green chile sauce or sour cream on the side, fresh fruit, tortillas and a simple salad.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Very Merry Year: October

So, instead of going crazy with holiday baking last year, I decided that it would be much more fun to spread the joy out over the year and gift someone each month with something lovely from my kitchen.

This month has been very busy with PTA, Girl Scouts, and other volunteering in both M and E's schools, which is why the October cookies are just being baked today. And, appropriately, the recipients of this month's cookies are both Madeline and Erik's classes for their Harvest and Halloween parties, respectively.I found the idea for the skeletons in Family Fun magazine, originally "Gingerbread Skeletons," but I went with a cut-out chocolate cookie recipe off Smitten Kitchen for the cookie instead. The second cookie recipe is a classic favorite of ours: Playdough Cookies, which I chose for their great taste and their sturdiness. Multi-colored leaves for M's class, and plain pumpkins for E's (with orange icing). Preschoolers will be frosting the pumpkins, so delicate sugar cookies are not the order of the day!Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Peloton Cupcakes

Happy Birthday to Solomon!! This birthday dinner was the perfect opportunity to try out two healthier treats, side-by-side (literally) as Solomon's bike-race cupcakes.

First were Chocolate Beet Cupcakes as the road/race track. Yes, you read that right. Beet. And, yes, I really do love Solomon, he's one of the sweetest 4-year-olds I know (see, he needs no extra sugar!) These cupcakes have no white sugar in them, and they are delicious. I didn't trust the not-very-brown, and quite pink-ish batter of the original recipe, so I added one heaping Tablespoon of Scharffenberger unsweetened cocoa in with the flour in this recipe, and they were very chocolaty and delicious. I left the maple out of the cream cheese frosting too, going with vanilla instead, and these were great. The recipe is right here on Simple Bites.
I frosted lightly with the cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with black sprinkles (leaving a white "bike lane" stripe down the side), and topped with a racer (from The Cupcake Social on Etsy). They have the best supplies, and good prices. The liners are from TCS too. Love 'em!

Anyway, the second cupcake was the Chocolate Date Cupcake, which was the shoulder or dirt in this race, they they were amazing. They have no frosting, and they don't need it. They're sweet and chocolaty enough, and topped with chocolate chips and sugar (and nuts, it you want - we didn't), which forms a fabulous, bumpy topping of their own. Yum!

I of course, did not advertise the fact that the treats were filled with veggies and such, and all the kids gobbled up their cupcakes. Even Erik. My nearly-4-year-old. Haha Erik, you ate beets tonight. I'm totally going to sneak more veggies into your cupcakes now. Works like a charm.

The best part is that Solomon loved his cake! Happy Birthday, Somblin!! We love you!
Chocolate Date Cupcakes
(adapted from
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1 (8 ounce) package chopped dates
2 c. flour
1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter (that's 1 and 1/2 sticks)
3/4 c. sugar (or 3/4 c. raw cane sugar)
2 eggs

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. white sugar (or raw cane sugar)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional - I did not use these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the boiling water over the chopped dates in a Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside. Sift together the dry ingredients.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the dry stuff. Add in the dates with all the soaking liquid, and stir until combined. Scoop batter into approximately 21 prepared paper-lined muffin cups.

In an another bowl, combine the chocolate chips and remaining 1/2 cup sugar (and nuts, if you wish). Sprinkle mixture over top of each cupcake and bake for 21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TGIF: Monstertini

Ooooohhh.... OK, so this drink isn't really blue, but inverting the colors on the image gave it a fun, spooky look. If you want a frightfully delicious martini for your Halloween party, try a "Monstertini" (or maybe "Sour Pear Monster" is a more accurate name). I think I made this up, although I haven't searched for recipes yet... I was inspired by an orange rock-candy swizzle I picked up recently, and a sale on Odwalla Monster C, so mixed in a martini glass:

Monstertini (AKA Sour Pear Monster)

1 part Sour mix

1 part Absolut Pears
1 part Odwalla C Monster - Citrus C

In this case, the sour and Citrus C were cold from the fridge, so I skipped the shaker. I used one shot of each, but you could mix in larger quantities, and the rock candy swizzle was orange flavored, so that added to the drink. Tasty. Happy Friday, and you're welcome.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hi Hats for Jamie and Conor's Birthdays!

When I saw Hi Hat Cupcakes on Bakerella's blog, I thought of Jamie. She loves chocolate-dipped soft-serve ice cream cones, which these cupcakes resemble. And, even though Jamie is in Japan for her birthday this year, I still felt the need to make these cupcakes, because I'm crazy like that. The only problem is that I have a lot of cupcakes now to get rid of... but, I think that will be easy enough to remedy.

Anyway, on to the Hi Hats! When I first read this recipe, I wondered about the physics of dipping the tall piped-on marshmallow "frosting" into the melted chocolate coating—really, how could that work?? And, it turns out that (for me at least) it was a comedy of errors...


Really? Is this working??!

Umm... no. Dang it!
Then, I put the pre-dipped cupcakes in the freezer for about five minutes while I let the melted chocolate coating cool completely (it was a little warm, but not hot before). And, then, it worked like a charm!
See? Beauty!
Oh, and since the chocolate cake here is gluten-free, and one of the recipients of these is a gluten-free and egg-free gal (unless the egg is baked into something), I made a handful of cupcakes with a chocolate ganache topping too (and some Halloween-y sprinkles for fun)!
Recipes are from Gluten-Free Girl, right here, and Bakerella (and Martha Stewart, really) right here and here.

And, best of all, they made for some happy kiddos this afternoon at Conor's 2nd birthday party!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Spice

I made my mother-in-law's pumpkin bread, in mini-muffin form, for Madeline's class last week. They were a huge hit, and her friend Sgian said, "Madeline, these are the best muffins I've ever tasted! Thank you for bringing them!" He's such a little sweetheart.

He has good taste too, because they really do make amazing Pumpkin Spice muffins — moist and flavorful, with an excellent texture. And low fat too. Plus, to me, they taste like home. I imagine that's to be expected after enjoying this recipe during the holidays over the past seventeen years.

So, pick up some pumpkin and get these in the oven!

Amazing Pumpkin Spice Muffins (or Gramma/Lora's Pumpkin Bread)
makes 32 mini muffins, plus 8 regular-sized muffins

1 and 2/3 c. flour

1 and 1/3 c. sugar

1/4 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice

Mix the dry ingredients and then add:

1 c. pumpkin

1/3 c. oil (I used canola)

1/3 c. water

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

Beat until combined, then bake in lined (or sprayed) muffin tins at 350-degrees F for about 17-22 minutes, depending on the size of your muffins (mini or standard). Enjoy!


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