Tuesday, April 5, 2011

White Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

If you know me personally you know I have taken into the art of the gourmet cupcakes.  An area of the kitchen (baking), I really don't fancy as a favorite (I hate the mess and tons of dishes).  So the picture isn't the greatest, but if you could taste them you would never mind.  My littliest loves anything orange, and well- white chocolate just seemed like a great pairing to the fresh orange flavor of these birthday cupcakes we served for his 2nd birthday.  A far cry from the a-typical store-bought-artificial-flavor I don't really like and I am tiring of paying for the conveinence, this is why I started to "create" something just a little more special for such a momentous occasion.  Enjoy! 

These are so easy try them!

1 bag of orange slice gum-drop type candy
1 white cake mix + ingredients to prepare
1 box of instant white chocolate pudding
2 oranges, zested
Orange Extract
Recipe for Classic Butter Cream
Quality White Chocolate Candy Bar (I like Lindt)
Clear Decorator Sugar

Prepare the white cake mix as directed and add pudding mix, zest of one orange, and 1 teaspoon of orange extract (or more for stronger taste) - (taste the batter :) ).  Place batter in cupcake liners about half to two thirds full (this makes a nice flat topped cupcake for frosting).  Bake as directed.  Remove cupcakes onto a  rack until completely cool.  Meanwhile, prepare Classic Butter Cream recipe and add zest of one orange, and additional orange extract to your taste.  It's okay to taste as you go, especially with the butter cream - this is what will make or break a great frosting.  Place frosting in a decorator bag with a tip or in a large zip bag and clip corner.  Frost a swirl on the top of each cupcake.  Take a vegetable peeler and "peel" the side of the chocolate bar to get swirls of chocolate.  Add to top of cupcake along with a little decorator sugar-top with an orange slice.  And there you have one terrific-well-loved cupcake.  Perfect for a spring or summer events.  Great with lemon or lime as well!  With all the great little bulk candy areas at Super Target or the mall you can be sure to find something fun to top the cupcake off with-


linked up at

Creating Tasty Dishes

sidenote-love the expression on this dude-I'm thinking he is hungry, wants to eat TASTY food, but the ad clearly states he really wants pizza.

There's nothing more disappointing than making a new recipe or dish and tasting it only for it to be blah, tasteless, and boring.  Then you are finding yourself setting your fork down to go look for a condiment in your fridge to help it...have you been there?  This usually applies to "homemade" food vs. the box.  "The box" has so much sodium as a preservative that most of it taste okay (if you like those kind of things).  I am not knocking "the box" at all if they work for you, but I am zeroing in on tasteless bland food when you have prepared a homemade meal. 

I have blogged several times in my Menu Plan Mondays' about how to flavor foods for different meals using a basic formula (protein + vegetable + grain/pasta) + theme/spice.  Recently I have stumbled up this article and found it to be helpful for those that may be challenged in the creating area in their kitchen.  I hope it inspires you as it does me to try new flavors in your kitchen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time of the week again.  I just got back from the farmers market and I am so excited to make some unbelievable meals for the week.
Here is what is cooking in our kitchen this week:

  • Southwestern Grilled Chicken Tostatas, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Salsa
  • Vegetable Barley Soup with Whole Wheat Lavish Bread w/ Hummus, Fresh Fruit (Meatless Monday)
  • Breakfast for Dinner (Eggs, Turkey Sausage), Fruit Smoothies
  • New York Strip Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
  • Turkey Hotdogs, Corn, Sliced Apples with Cinnamon Sugar
I made some delicious vegan vegetable barley soup and fresh mango salsa today. See the recipes below.

Vegan Vegetable Barley Soup

2 stalks celery, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 cup of diced carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pearl barley
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of corn kernels
1/2 cup of peas
2 cartons of vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
olive oil

Saute' on medium heat celery, onion, carrots, and garlic in olive oil in oversized skillet or dutch oven for 5 minutes.  Add barley and toast in skillet for 2-3 minutes.  Add bay leaf and broth, stir.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  Add tomatoes, peas and corn and cover for 30 minutes on simmer.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Season to taste. Enjoy!
**This can be made in a crock pot.

Fresh Mango Salsa

1 mango, diced
2 ripe tomatoes
1 small sweet onion
1 jalepeno, seeds/vine discarded
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
sea salt
fresh lime juice

I LOVE my manual food processor.  I pop all the ingredients (except Mango) in and pump away to the desired consistency that you like.  I like mine super fine like my favorite salsa from Chili's restaurant, and this manual food processor does the job. 

Check out Pampered Chef's new MANUAL FOOD PROCESSOR ,compact and perfect for this fresh salsa treat.  I have used my processor also for chicken salad, and fresh strawberry ice just this past weekend. 

Have a GREAT week! Eat Fresh, Eat Healthy - Summer's around the corner!