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Spicy Baked Corn Dogs

When I was a kid, my Mom would occasionally fry up some corn dogs made completely from scratch.  Now that I'm a Mom I thought I'd do the same thing for my little one.  That being said, I'm not fond of frying since I manage to burn myself or ruin an article of clothing every time.  Plus baking is a far more healthy method of cooking.

Preheat oven to  425˚

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix, 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 stick melted butter, 1 ½ teaspoons cumin, 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, paprika, 1 package of 8 hot dogs, 16 popsicle sticks

In a shallow mixing bowl mix together Jiffy mix, flour, eggs milk and melted butter.  The batter will be sticky.  At this point I typically set aside about 1/2 cup to make 2 corn dogs for Ava, this recipe is too spicy for her little taste buds.  Add the cumin, cayenne pepper and garlic.  Mix until the spices are thoroughly blended into the batter.

Cut the corn dogs in half and stick the popsicle stick in half way.  They are much easier to work with half sized.

Spread the batter evenly over each dog.  Don't make them too thick, about a 1/2 inch thick will do nicely.  Try not to leave any of the dog exposed and seal the bottom by the stick.  This will keep the dogs from drying out while they bake.  Sprinkle with paprika and bake for 12 - 15 minutes on the middle rack.

Now you are ready to serve.  You can serve alone or with a dipping sauce of your choice (honey mustard?).  My neighbor, a major meat eater, eyed one cautiously before taking a bite.  On his way out the door, he grabbed a second for his 50 yard walk home.  Don't be discouraged if they crumble a little, the batter is very muffin-like.  You can cover the popsicle sticks with foil if you don't want them to brown.  I don't usually have that kind of time, and I have yet to start a fire... expect that one time at Thanksgiving... story for another time!

Practically Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite family Christmas morning traditions was waking up to the smell of fresh Cinnamon Rolls (not unlike the recipe below :).  Several years ago, my mom and her friend packed all of us kids up and took us to the mall where they watched through the glass window at the Cinnabon shop until they learned all the tricks of the trade! Every year after that we've woken up to fresh, gooey, homemade Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas morning. Now THAT makes a home.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
 Directions
  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

This recipe was taken from All Recipes website. Enjoy!

Do these jeans make me look fat?

 Any friendship that has lasted for longer than a season has more than likely had to deal with some kind of offense. How we handle those situations can bring out the best or the worst in us at the time. Less frequent are the friendships that have weathered the storms of life and passed the test of time bringing you to the place of being able to tell someone the truth even if it hurts. Not all friendships meet this lofty criteria but everyone should have one.

 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; But the kisses of an enemy are profuse Proverbs 27:6

Go ahead read it again.... I had to. I read it over and over and let it really sink in. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Seriously? Yes, seriously. If you have been lucky enough to have the kind of friend that will look you in the eye and say "girl I love you but you are dead wrong" or " sorry love but your husbands right" or my favorite " are you asking? because if you're asking than yes, ...those jeans are not your friend".

Sometimes we just want people on our side but most of the time we need the truth. Its a friend who is faithful to tell us the truth even if it might hurt us. And yes, like Mary Poppins said " a teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down" but she still gave them the medicine.

So with this verse in mind let us be sure to be the kind of friend that can be honest in love when needed but also the kind of friend that receives a word of truth when needed.

Father, open our hearts to your wisdom about our friendships and about truth. Show us what you would have us do with both. Amen!!

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten-Free, Vegan Vanilla Cupcake with Mocha Frosting

 

For the past few weeks I've been trying my best to go completely gluten-free. I've had the feeling I may have a slight gluten-intolerance for a while now - with headaches, fatigue, and skin problems flaring up when I load up on lots of breads, pastries, and crackers. I've noticed since I've taken gluten out I have more energy, and just feel better all the way around! There is no way I can stick with this though without...cupcakes!!! I found the following recipe on the "Gluten-Free Goddess" blog.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha Icing- a Vegan Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cupcake tin with paper or parchment liners

In a mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together:
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Add in:
1 cup warm vanilla rice milk or water
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water (or two large eggs)
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon mild tasting rice vinegar or lemon juice

Beat with a mixer until the cake batter is smooth- roughly 2-3 minutes.

*A reminder on gluten-free vegan batters: Gluten-free vegan batters behave a little different. They are often stiffer at first, then get sticky and stretch as the xanthan gum and egg replacer do their vegan g-free thing.

If the batter climbs the beaters, slow down the speed and slightly lift the beaters to encourage the batter to migrate back down into the bowl. Move your beater around the bowl in figure eights, at a slight angle.

Using an ice cream scoop, plop the batter into the twelve liners. Smooth out the tops with wet fingers.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven until firm and dome shaped. For me this took about 18 minutes at sea level but they may take up to 20 to 22 minutes, depending upon your particular oven and altitude.

Cool the pan on a wire rack briefly, then gently pop out the cupcakes and continue cooling on a rack (this avoids steaming the bottoms).

Dairy-Free Mocha Icing Recipe
 
When making frosting, start with a small amount of liquid and add a little bit at a time until you achieve the consistency you want. If the icing gets too runny, add more confectioner's sugar to thicken it. You can also put the icing in the fridge for an hour to stiffen it.

2 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2-3 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening
2 ounces cold coffee, more as needed (or use rice milk if you don't like coffee)
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
 
Mmmm...I bet it'd go nicely with this :)
 

Cupcake Wars winning cupcake: The Elvis

  I love The Food Network. There is something about watching people prepare food that just puts me in a good mood! So you can imagine when, "Cupcake Wars", made it's debut I was hooked. Basically, Cupcakes Wars starts with four bakeries who take on different "cupcake challanges"...kind of like a cupcake olympics if you will and one by one the teams are eliminated until one lucky bakery is standing. When I saw the following winning cupcake being assembled I knew I had to share it with my cyber-friends...you!  

This cupcake is a combination of a few of my favorite things...banana, peanut butter, chocolate, and Elvis :). Bake, enjoy, and pass it on!

The Elvis Cupcake

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon banana extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 large, overripe banana, mashed
  • Peanut Butter Frosting, recipe follows
  • Chocolate Coating, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and then stir in the vanilla and banana extracts. Stir in the vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the mashed banana.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 8 to10 minutes. Cool completely, and then frost with Peanut Butter Frosting and dip in Chocolate Coating and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, well sifted
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cream, as needed

Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and combined. Blend in the powdered sugar. Add the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the frosting is too thick.

Chocolate Coating:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Melt together the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in the microwave until completely melted

Gluten-free Chocolate Cupcakes by Babycakes

With February being the love month I thought we should share a little love with our gluten-free/vegan/health conscience friends by sharing this amazing chocolate cupcake recipe from Erin McKenna at Babycakes NYC. This cute, quirky bakery on the upper-east side is 100% gluten-free, vegan, and delicious!

For those of us who aren't upper-east siders no need to cry! Now we can bring Babycakes into our own kitchens with one of Erin's new recipe books. Here is a sneak peak into one of my favs:

Chocolate Cupcakes

YIELD: 1 dozen

  • 1 cup garbanzo and fava bean flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 6 tablespoons applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water or hot coffee
  • Frosting for serving (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line one, standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water directly to the dry ingredients. Stir until the batter is smooth.

Pour 1/3 cup of the batter into each prepared cup. This portion will almost fill the cup up entirely. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tray 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The cupcakes will bounce back when pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Remove from the oven.

Let the cupcakes stand for 20 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack right side up and cool completely. Using a frosting knife, gently spread 1 tablespoon of Frosting over each cupcake. Place the cupcakes in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Vanilla Frosting

YIELD: enough for 1 dozen cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 3/4 cup soy “Better Than Milk” powder
  • 1 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice

In a blender or food processor, combine the soy milk, “Better Than Milk” powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla. Mix the ingredients for 2 minutes. As the machine blends, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until all parts are incorporated. Pour the mixture into an airtight container. Place the container in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or for up to 1 month, before using.

Tasty Mac and Cheese

Some say that macaroni and cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. While I agree, this old-time favorite makes a special appearance  just a few times during the year in my household.  As well,  holiday meals are simply incomplete without this cheesy indulgence.  Just a few years ago, I remember making a special trip to the grocery store on Christmas morning because this all important dish was not included on the menu -- the family was in uproar!!

Try it out and you may never go back to the 'box'!

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups organic whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ - ¾ cup Sautéed Onion & Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
  • ½ cup Asiago Cheese
  • Tex-Joy or season salt

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
  • Sauté onion and garlic in the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown.
  • Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Add the salt, pepper, Tex-Joy or Season salt, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well.
  • Add the noodles and Asiago cheese and stir well.
  • Pour into the prepared dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken Tacos

Coming from El Paso, Texas, I have a special love for Mexican food.  Known for it's varied dishes, spices and flavors, Mexican cuisine is without a doubt my favorite. Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 onions minced
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch chunks
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Tex-Joy* seasoning - to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water

* Tex-Joy is one of my favorite seasonings and can be used in a myriad ways.  I cook with the salt-free variety which allows my family and guests to add salt at the table, if they prefer.

Method:

  • Heat a medium to large saute pan over medium heat and pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the garlic and onions and cook until soft and nicely caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • In the meantime, season the chicken with Tex-Joy and pepper.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and toss to coat.
  • Heat another medium to large saute pan over medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Cook the chicken until it is lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Once the onion mixture is caramelized and softened, add the serranos, paprika and Tex-Joy.
  • When the chicken is done, transfer it to the pan with the onions. Pour in water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce cooks down and  is thick and delicious, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning with Tex-Joy and pepper.
  • To serve the tacos: Place the toppings and chicken filling in bowls and allow guests to build their own tacos.

Toppings:

  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • Diced red or yellow onions
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Grated cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Avocado slices or Guacamole
  • 1 to 2 packages corn or flour tortillas

Serve chicken tacos with a salad or go all out by adding rice and beans and your family/friends will sing your praises for days!

It's muy sabroso . . . enjoy!