Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

I tried these cupcakes for Kyah's birthday, and they turned out great! Naturally, being the copy-cat that I am, I got the idea from the Cocoa Bean Cupcake Cafe. Vahe and I first fell in love with their frappes in Rexburg, and we were so excited to see their new store open in Provo last year! Their drinks are SOO good, they use a roasted cocoa bean that has such a unique and earthy flavor. Their cupcakes are great too - and very cute - but really, not anything that you can't make on your own. So, here's my take on their raspberry chocolate cheesecake cupcake.

Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes


Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon raspberry jam (with seeds!)
2 drops red food coloring (optional)

1 devil's food cake mix, and ingredients listed on package

1 cup chocolate frosting (use your favorite recipe, or store bought!)
1 cup raspberry jam
3 cups cream cheese frosting (use your favorite recipe, or store bought!)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, wisk together cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, 1 tablespoon raspberry jam and food coloring. Allow batter to chill in fridge, covered for about 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to temperature listed on cake mix instructions. Prepare cake mix according to box directions.
3. Grease or place paper liners in 24 muffin cups.
4. Spoon one heaping-tablespoon of chocolate cake mix batter into each prepared cup. Top with one heaping-tablespoon of raspberry cheesecake filling. Then, top each with the remaining cake batter, so that each cup is about 2/3 full.
5. Bake in preheated oven according to cake mix package directions.
6. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.

To decorate:
1. Melt chocolate frosting in microwave so that it is pourable. Carefully spoon about 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate frosting over the center of each cooled cupcake, allowing it to run to the edges. Allow to cool and harden about 15-30 minutes.
3. Heat one cup of raspberry jam in microwave so that is it pourable. Carefully spoon about 2-3 teaspoons of jam over the chocolate frosting.
4. Top with cream cheese frosting, and chill cupcakes until ready to eat!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spanakopita Bites

We were at a friend's house a few weeks ago, and another one of their guests were talking about these. They sounded so good - I just had to try them! The first time I made them I followed a recipe that I found online. They were good, but a little too strong for my taste. So, I made them again last night but added in a little cream cheese and mozzarella to tone down the feta a bit. I thought they were so much better! They still had great flavor, but the feta didn't overpower the whole thing like it had before. I also made them a lot smaller then before, so they were easier (and cleaner) to eat, with a little more crunch! Yum!

Spanakopita Bites


Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
15 sheets phyllo dough

filling:
1 9-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or a little dried oregano, basil, parsley)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 ounce cream cheese
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

2. Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl.
3. Lay out one sheet of phyllo dough, and brush or spray with butter. (I keep just a normal spray bottle of butter in my fridge for phyllo dough - just melt it in the microwave and spray. It is SO much faster then brushing, and you use much less butter!) Lay out another sheet directly on top, spray, then repeat one more time - so that you have three layers of phyllo dough on top of one another, with a layer of butter on top of each.
4. Cut the dough into 6 strips across the width of the dough.
5. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the bottom of each strip. Then fold up each strip into triangles like a paper football. It's kind of hard to explain... here's a picture that I found that should help.

5. Place each triangle seam-side down on a baking sheet, and brush or spray the tops with butter. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Step aside, Great Harvest! Seriously, this is way better. This is probably my all-time favorite quick bread recipe. I don't know what it is... but if you can make yourself wait at least 24-hours to cut into it, something incredible happens to this bread. The bread is OK on day one, but after a good night's rest under some foil or plastic wrap, this bread is to die for!! So, make it today - eat it tomorrow. It will all be worth it, I promise!!

I got this recipe from allrecipes.com, and tweaked it just a bit to make it my own!


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread


Ingredients:
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, applesauce, water, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add in dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Bake for 60-70 minutes in preheated oven.
4. After the bread has finished cooking, allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan. Allow the bread to cool for about an hour or two, then seal it in a plastic bag, or wrap foil or plastic wrap around it, and hide it from yourself until tomorrow! Best 24-hours after cooking, or.. at least overnight!

*If you are doubling this recipe, make sure you use a GIANT bowl! I tried doubling this recipe once in my 4 1/2 - quart Kitchen Aid, and I ended up having to separate it into two bowls because it wouldn't all fit!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Balsamic Pesto Sandwich

This is my favorite way to dress up a sandwich - inspired by Red Robin's bruschetta chicken sandwich (yum!).

Balsamic Pesto Sandwich



Ingredients:
1 cup packed basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
olive oil

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

bread, meat, cheese and veggies


Directions:
1. In a food processor, blend together basil leaves, garlic and enough olive oil to bring the pesto together. (Or cheat and buy pre-made pesto. But, trust me - it will not be nearly as good!) Spread on one half of bread.

2. In a small bowl, mix together cream and balsamic vinegar. Spread on other half of bread.

3. Top with veggies, cheese, and meat. Serve immediately - the dressings on the bread will make for soggy leftovers!

This will make about 4-8 sandwiches, depending on how much pesto and balsamic cream sauce you like and how big of bread you are using! Both the pesto and cream sauce will keep in your fridge for at least a week, so make some extra for lunch in a few days too!

My favorite way to eat this type of sandwich is just like Red Robin makes it - on a Ciabatta with grilled chicken breast and provolone. In the picture, I tried it with turkey breast on a croissant with Havarti (obviously, after a "pregnancy craving" induced Costco trip) and it was great too!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Armenian Eggplant Rolls

I don't think that I would have ever liked eggplant, had I not married an Armenian. Vahe makes so many yummy Armenian dishes with eggplant, this is probably my favorite!

Armenian Eggplant Rolls


Ingredients:
2 medium eggplant (the longer and thinner, the better!)
8 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil, as needed
salt to taste

filling:
4 cups grated carrot (I like them finely grated, some people prefer them larger)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
about 3/4 cup sour cream
salt to taste

Directions:
1. Mix all of the filling ingredients together using only enough sour cream to moisten the mixture so that it sticks together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Prepare the eggplant by cutting off the stem-end, and cutting it length-wise into strips about 1/4-inch (or thinner) thick.

3. Heat olive oil and a clove of minced garlic in large skillet over medium-high heat, using just enough to coat the pan. Eggplant absorbs a lot of oil, so only use what is necessary to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan.

4. Fry the eggplant strips on both sides in the garlic-oil, until golden brown. Replenish oil and garlic as needed. Salt each eggplant strip after cooking.

5. Put 2-3 tablespoons of filling on one end of the eggplant strip, and roll, wrapping the eggplant around the carrot filling. Repeat with each cooked strip.

These are great served immediately, but I love them best straight from the fridge the next day!

Chocoholic Cake

I got this recipe from a great blog that I follow called Little Birdie Secrets. This is really as rich and easy as it comes - just don't forget the extra milk to drink with it! I think it's best within a few hours out of the oven while the chocolate chips are still melted and gooey, but it's also great cold too!

Chocoholic Cake

Ingredients:
Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix
1 small package (3.4 ounce) instant chocolate pudding
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Ganache:
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour or spray bundt pan.

2. Mix all of the ingredients, except chocolate chips, together until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes.

4. While the cake is baking, make the ganache by combining chocolate chips and heavy cream over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla. The ganache will thicken as it cools while the cake continues to bake.

5. After the cake has finished baking, allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate or platter. Glaze with chocolate ganache.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicken Pillows

As a kid, this was always one of my favorite dinners that my mom made. As a bigger kid, I still love them! These chicken pillows are super easy (and quick!) to make and soooo yummy.

Here's how you do it...

Chicken Pillows

Ingredients:
2 packages regular-sized crescent rolls
2 cups shredded chicken - I like to use Recipe Chicken in a Crockpot
4 ounces chive & onion cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk

Directions:
1. Mix together shredded chicken and softened cream cheese.

2. Open up the crescent roll packages and divide into four rectangles each. Close the diagonal seam with fingers.

3. Place a large spoonful of chicken on one half of the roll.


4. Fold the roll in half, over the chicken.


5. Then close the seams with a fork.


6. Bake according to package directions until golden brown.


7. While the pillows are baking, prepare the sauce by mixing together 1 can of cream of chicken soup with a 1/2 cup of milk. Also, add in any extra chicken to the sauce that did not fit into the pillows.

8. Serve alone or over steamed rice, with the sauce on top!

Refrigerate leftovers, or freeze for later!

Recipe Chicken in a Crockpot

This is my favorite way to make shredded chicken. This is what I typically use for any recipe that calls for diced or shredded chicken. Not only is it super quick and easy, but it also makes your chicken so tender and the house smell AMAZING! This comes straight from my mama's kitchen!

Recipe Chicken in a Crockpot


Ingredients:
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh, or frozen)
Dry Italian dressing mix (1 package/3-4 chicken breasts)
Butter (1 tablespoon/2 chicken breasts)

Directions:
1. Place the chicken breasts into the slow-cooker.
2. Sprinkle dry Italian dressing mix on top - use one package for every 3 to 4 chicken breasts.
3. Place a few pats of butter on top - about one tablespoon for every 2 chicken breasts.
4. Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours, or low for 6-8. You'll know when they are done when you can no longer resist the delicious smell!!

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