Friday, January 28, 2011

Nutella Swirl Cupcakes

Brace yourself.  Because these cupcakes are dangerous.  They have the shortest lifespan out of anything I've ever baked, and it's no surprise with the dollop of Nutella swirled into these moist cupcakes.  People tend to eat one after another... after another.  I've got to give credit to The Little Kitchen That Could yet again for this wonderful recipe. You absolutely must visit her blog - it's pretty wonderful.

You'll need:
1 box yellow cake mix
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup olive oil
24 teaspoons Nutella

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Throw all the ingredients (except Nutella) into a bowl and combine with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes until well-blended.  I love no-fuss recipes like this... quick and painless.

Spread the mix among 24 cupcake liners that have been very lightly greased with olive oil cooking spray.  Each one should be 2/3 full with batter.

Place a teaspoon of Nutella in the middle of each cup.

Fold a bit of the batter over the Nutella, and use a fork to swirl, sort of like trying to spin spaghetti around your fork.  It's okay if it's not perfect.  Sometimes a big glob of Nutella is even better that swirled Nutella.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden.  Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  I like them warm, but they're also great at room temperature.

Sending you swirls of love from my kitchen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blackberry Shortbread Bars

It's been a couple weeks since I've posted a recipe for something sweet, and these pretty bars are so delicious that I just have to share them with you.  I got the recipe from another one of my favorite bloggers: The Little Kitchen That Could. (Click HERE to see her post.)

Let's be honest - part of the reason why this dessert is so amazing is because it's loaded with butter and sugar... which is why these little bars are going straight to the office tomorrow morning.  I don't think my waistline would survive if they stayed in my kitchen, tempting me all week.

You'll need:
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
8 oz. container of sour cream
1/2 cup flour
16 oz. bag of frozen blackberries

About an hour before you plan on making these, set the bag of frozen blackberries in the sink to thaw.

Then, about 30 minutes before you start baking, prepare your butter by cutting it into 1/2-inch cubes and placing it on a plate in the freezer.  The butter needs to be very chilled for this recipe so that the crust gets nice and crumbly.

When the blackberries are no longer frozen, rinse them and let them hang out in a strainer or colander for a few minutes so that all the juices drip out.

When you're ready to start baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a 9x13-inch glass dish by spraying it with cooking spray.

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt with a whisk for about 30 seconds until all the ingredients are combined.

Pastry Blender

Add the cubes of chilled butter. To mix in the butter, The Little Kitchen That Could used a food processor for about 30 seconds, but I used a pastry blender (also called a dough blender or pastry cutter).

It takes longer (about 8 minutes of blending by hand), but you'll definitely burn a few calories working the butter into the flour mixture.  Blend until the mixture is crumbly, and then set aside about 2 cups to use later for the topping.

Every once in while, use a knife to scrape out the butter that may get stuck in the pastry blender.

Set aside for the topping...
Spread the remaining mixture in the 9x13 dish, and firmly press the crust to the bottom so that it forms an even layer. Bake this bottom layer for about 20 minutes or until the crust just barely starts to turn a golden color.

While you're waiting for the crust to cool for about 10 minutes, make the filling by blending the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and flour with an electric mixer on low speed for about a minute.

 Gently fold in the thawed blackberries with a rubber spatula until the mixture turns a lavender color.

Next, spread the filling over the crust.

Sprinkle on the crust you set aside earlier.  (This top layer will be much thinner than the bottom.)

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the top is golden brown. (Side note - These little guys are funny when they're baking.  After about 40 minutes, a couple of air bubbles began forming underneath the crust and looked dangerously close to exploding.  So, I just took a butter knife and poked a few holes all the way through the bottom layer of crust to deflate the bubbles.  BUT they just re-inflated 5 minutes later.  Not quite sure what the experts would do in this situation, but I just kept a close eye on them and ended up stabbing them once more before the hour of baking was up.)

Let the bars cool to room temperature before cutting.

They're great for dessert, but also pretty phenomenal in the morning with a cup of coffee. :)

Enjoy! Sending you love from my kitchen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pizza Scrolls

I'm a huge pizza lover - especially when it's homemade because you can customize it exactly the way you want it.  Try experimenting with different ingredients.  You could use pesto instead of pizza sauce; chicken instead of pepperoni; load with veggies; or experiment with different types of cheese. I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers - Multiply Delicious.  Click HERE for her version.

You'll need:
I can Pillsbury refrigerated thin pizza crust (11 oz.)
Pepperoni, about 20 slices
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1/2 lb. mozzarella, shredded
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive oil cooking spray

*Scroll to the bottom of this post for a vegetarian option!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Unroll the pizza dough onto a cookie sheet or cutting board.  I sprinkled a little flour on my cookie sheet to make the dough easier to handle.  Spread the pizza sauce all over the crust, and layer with pepperoni, mozzarella (reserving 1/2 cup for later), basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Then, starting on the side that's shortest in length, roll the pizza tightly.  Using a serrated knife, cut the scrolls into slices about 2 inches thick.

Place the scrolls in a cupcake pan that was greased lightly with the olive oil spray.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top of the scrolls.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Serve with ranch or more pizza sauce.  These would also make great appetizers if you're expecting a crowd.  Enjoy!

Three-Cheese Veggie Pizza Scrolls

These scrolls have been such a huge hit that I wanted to post pictures from my second batch.  I prepared them basically the same way, except this time I used sliced red bell peppers, cremini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, and a dash of salt and pepper.  

Then, I sprinkled on shredded cheddar and Fontina. If you've never used Fontina, you've got to try it.  It's soft, buttery, and sweet, so it's great to melt on sandwiches, in pasta, and of course, on pizza.

When I rolled the pizza and cut the scrolls, they were too large to squeeze into a muffin pan, so I just laid them on a greased cookie sheet, and sprinkled on shredded mozzarella.

Bake for about 10 minutes, and enjoy!

Sending you love (all scrolled up) from my kitchen.

Baby Bella Scrambled Egg Sandwich

It's very rare that I rave about something I've made, but allow me to gloat just temporarily for creating this amazing sandwich!  It's not complicated, but it's the combination of ingredients that makes it phenomenal.  The feta gives just the right amount of tang, while the spinach gives a bit of crispiness, and the baby bella mushrooms will make you forget that there's no meat in this sandwich.  Combined with some pear slices and a giant cup of coffee - perfect start to the day!  Let's just say I'll be making this again very soon... like tomorrow.

You'll need:
2 tsp. olive oil
2 baby bella mushrooms
2 eggs
dash of dried parsley
dash of dried basil
dash of garlic sea salt
dash of black pepper
handful of spinach
bread (I used french bread.)

Wash and slice mushrooms.

Put in a pan with olive oil on medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack eggs into a bowl with salt, pepper, basil, and parsley.

Whisk the mixture, and when the mushrooms start to brown like this...

... turn the heat down to low and add the egg mixture to the mushrooms. Fold together as the eggs cook.

The eggs will cook fast.  When almost at your desired consistency, form in the shape of your bread, and top with the feta.

Using a spatula, transfer the egg mixture to your bread, and stuff the sandwich with spinach.

Sending you love (and a healthy breakfast) from my kitchen.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

I got a few requests for this recipe after making it for the girls one night and then again for a cohort game night, so here it is!

You'll need:
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
1 small container (8 oz.) sour cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 sleeves of Ritz crackers
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1-2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Cooking spray

Boil chicken just until it's no longer pink in the center - careful not to overcook.  Drain and let cool for about 10 minutes before shredding into bite-size pieces.

Stir together sour cream, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, and chicken broth. It won't look very appealing, and the consistency will be a little like Jello, but it's going to taste delicious soon...

Add the shredded chicken, stirring until all the chicken is coated. 

In a 9x11 glass baking dish (sprayed lightly with cooking spray), crush 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers as a bottom layer for your casserole. I crush the crackers just by holding 4-5 in my hand and squeezing - Ritz crackers are soft, so this way is quick and effective.

 Gently spoon the chicken mixture on the crackers, and smooth it out so that it's level.

Crush the other sleeve of crackers to make a top layer.

Drizzle the butter over the casserole.  Also, sprinkle the poppy seeds over it evenly.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

There you go - easy and delicious... and it makes great leftovers, too!

Sending you love from my kitchen.