11/30/16

Homemade Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Originally posted on An American Housewife - Summer of 2009

I rarely keep 'cake mixes' in our home but back in 2009 I used one to make these at the last minute.  Normally I would use my eggless chocolate cake recipe for this.  HERE:  Eggless Chocolate Cake Recipe



After 'reminding' my husband for a week that we needed to go up and see his Dad for his birthday, he finally got around to calling him Friday (yesterday) to see if he would be home and free today for us to visit. It's a 6 hour drive round trip so I didn't want to drive across the state only to find him not home!

Yesterday when I found out we were indeed, going to be making the trip to see him on his 82nd birthday today, I also found out my SIL and her husband were there last night and this morning. I'm assuming they probably brought a cake or made one at his house so I don't want to show up with yet another cake... but our family and our kids would like to celebrate with him as well. I decided for a quick birthday dessert and maybe more importantly, the ease of traveling 3 hours in the back of the SUV... cupcakes!!!

Since I didn't have time to do anything fancy or special this time (yesterday was a DAY, let me tell you!!!) I started with a chocolate cake mix made according to package direction and baked into 20 cupcakes.

Next I used my favorite frosting/filling recipe and placed it into a decorator baggy with a simple round tip. Hint: Place your bag into a tall glass or a coffee mug to easily hold the bag secure while you fill it.

My favorite filling recipe:
1 c Crisco
1 c butter (not margarine... never use margarine for anything! Blech!)
4 c powdered sugar
4 t vanilla
3/4 c marshmallow creme

Cream the Crisco and butter. Add the sugar gradually and then the creme and vanilla. Beat well until it's smooth like whipped cream. Fill cooled or chilled cream horn forms.





Squeeze a bit of filling into each cupcake. You know how much because it will just barely start to bulge on the top as it's filled.


For frosting I used about a half cup of filling that was left over in the bowl and added 1 stick of butter, 1 t of vanilla extract and 2 cups of powdered sugar. I mixed it with the electric mixer until it looked like whipped cream and then refilled the bag, piped on the frosting and finished with pearlized candy candies.

The cupcakes are all back in the muffin tin baking pans and are currently in the freezer awaiting transport across the state to my FIL's house later today.

Enjoy!!




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11/29/16

Homemade, Quick and Delicious: Teriyaki Stir Fry

Originally posted on An American Housewife, September 2014






This has become my 'go to' meal over the past 3 weeks.  I don't even have a real 'recipe' wrote down.  It's a scribbled list of ingredients on a scrap piece of paper so I don't forget something - but that's about it.  Now, if one of my daughter's or my son want to whip this up, they would probably appreciate me typing out the ingredients here on our family website... with some approximate amounts.  So here it is!

Teriyaki Stir Fry

1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c sweetener of choice (sugar, natural substitute, honey - although use a bit less for that)
1/2 c water
1 T brown sugar or brown sugar sweetener
1 T ginger
1 T minced, fresh garlic
1 t (xanthan gum) or corn starch

Chicken
Broccoli, red peppers, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, snow peas, fresh green beans, cabbage, bean sprouts, etc. etc.    FRESH OR FROZEN (use what you have on hand and make it work!)

Combine and mix your sauce.  Set aside.  If you have time, you can use half the sauce to marinate the chicken, but if this is a last second dinner idea, don't worry about it.   Cut up your chicken, cook it in a bit of oil over medium high heat.  Add the vegetables - fresh, frozen, a mixture of both - whatever.  Cook for a bit (I add a splash of water at this point to help steam the veggies).  Then add your teriyaki sauce.  Stir quickly and cook til sauce thickens up and vegetables are as tender as you like them.  I add double the amount of vegetables I want in the end as they cook down.  Also - use as little or much of the sauce as you like.  Taste test it.   Serve over rice if you like - we like it sans rice. 
















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How to use up that leftover Thanksgiving Turkey? Make a Chicken Pot Pie! (Only use Turkey!)


My GO-TO recipe to use up leftover Thanksgiving Day turkey:  I've been making this pot pie since 1996 and although I've tried others through the years, I always come back to this one.


Turkey Pot Pie


1 10 oz. package mixed carrots and pea's (or assorted veggies)
1/4 c butter
5 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t poultry seasoning or sage
1/8 t pepper
2 c chicken or turkey stock (or use 2 cups water and 2-3 bouillon cubes)
1 c milk
3 c leftover cooked and diced chicken or turkey
1/3 c chopped onion or 4 green onions, chopped and cooked tender in a bit of water
1 c cooked and diced potatoes (or use canned or dice and cook them with the onions)

Prepare the peas and carrots (or mixed veggies). I like to cook them in the microwave while I prepare the rest. Melt butter in saucepan. Blend in flour, salt, poultry seasoning or sage, and pepper. Gradually add stock and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and smooth. Add vegetables, turkey and cooked onions and potatoes. Pour into a greased shallow baking dish. Make a biscuit topping and top the vegetable mixture. Bake at 425 degree's for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. About 6 servings.


Biscuit Topping


Mix

1 1/3 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cut in
2 T butter
3 T shortening (or you can use all butter)

Add 1/2 c milk or cream (scant) and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. If it's too wet and sticky add one or two more tablespoons of flour. Pat down on a lightly floured surface and roll out to the shape of your baking dish. If you prefer you can cut into wedges or squares and simply top the vegetable mixture that way too. (Up to you!).

Before adding the biscuit topping







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11/28/16

Quick Alert: Cyber Monday Deal on KitchenAid 6 Quart Mixer from Amazon! (And the Blendtec Blender)

I checked my Amazon affiliate emails this morning and saw this deal on the large 6 qt. KitchenAid mixers and decided to do a special post on it for An American Housewife.  I do not normally do a 'one item' post with Amazon links but this is a GREAT deal.  It's the large KitchenAid mixer that normally retails for about $550 and they have it today (Cyber Monday) for $219.95.   They have all three popular colors to choose from:  Red, Silver and Black. 






KitchenAid Professional 6-Qt. Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer
List Price: $549.99
Deal of the Day: $219.95 & FREE Shipping


You Save: $330.04 (60%) 

Comes in red, silver and black
  • The power hub turns your stand mixer into a culinary center, with more than 15 optional attachments available.
  • 6-Qt. stainless steel bowl with comfortable handle offers enough capacity to mix dough for 13 dozen cookies.
  • 67-Point Planetary mixing action means 67 touch points per rotation around the bowl for thorough ingredient Incorporation.
  • The bowl-lift design provides sturdy bowl support for stability when mixing heavy ingredients or large batches.
  • Powerful enough for nearly any task or recipe.
  • Includes powerknead spiral dough hook, flat beater, and stainless steel wire whip.



If it's in your budget or on your wishlist, they also have a really good price on the BlendTec Total Blender today:

Blendtec Total Blender - FourSide Jar, Black


Was: $402.99
Deal of the Day: $237.99




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11/20/16

Tiny Thanksgiving Dinner Cupcakes! Mini Replicas of Thanksgiving Dinner.





By the time my kids were 18, 17 and 13 I thought perhaps I'd skip these one year when I was very busy working at the museum as well as being the main full time parent on duty for everything from dance, part time jobs, football, cheerleading, choir, band, etc. etc.  Nope!  That year my kids specifically asked if we were having these little cuties - and were heartbroken when I suggested skipping them.  Luckily they were happy to jump in and help decorate them - all I had to do was make sure I had some of the little candies on hand!

We've made these so many times and I've posted them so many times on An American Housewife - but they are just so cute, it's always worth a repost for those who may not have seen them previously.




  • Brach's Maple Nut Candies
  • White frosting
  • Yellow gel food color (in a little tube)
  • non-perils - red or green (for tiny red cranberries and green peas)
  • I bought the long shapes and called them 'green beans'
  • caramels, melted or chocolate chips or butterscotch chips for 'gravy'
  • a package of cookies with an 'edge' - I choose the ones with the 'pretty edge' to look like a plate
  • yellow frosting or other for the 'plate'

Bake and cool your favorite cupcake recipe. Place frosting on the cupcake and top each with a cookie while the frosting is soft to 'adhere' the cookie-plate to the cupcake.

Slice the maple nut candies thin and layer them as 'turkey'.
Dab some white frosting next to it for 'mashed potatoes' followed with a little dab of yellow gel food color as 'butter'.
Melt your caramels, butterscotch or chocolate chips and thin with a little vegetable oil. Drizzle over the 'turkey' as gravy.
Finish it off with the 'cranberries' (red colored sugar or non-perils) and little green 'peas' or 'beans'.



You can slice the top off the cupcakes
if you filled them 3/4 full and they have
a little peak. This will let the 'plate'
evenly on the top of it.

I have made these too many times to count - as they are a tradition in our home *most* Thanksgivings.
I've used all different sorts of cookies as the plate as you can see from yet another photo of the many versions
I've made over the past almost 25 years.







****************


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My Traditional Thanksgiving Menu - and why I won't be 'improving' 'changing' or 'adding' crazy ingredients to classic favorites!







It's the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The last weekend to hop out to the stores to pick up the ingredients or items for your Thanksgiving Day celebration!  (I also put a link to Amazon's Thanksgiving specials at the top of this post if you are more inclined to do your 'shopping' online!).

Not only do I love and look forward to certain traditions of all sorts in our family; now that my kids are all older they've told me numerous times how important all the traditions have been to *them* over the years.  And my kids are continuing some of those traditions with their own families now that at least one of them is old enough to 'leave the nest' and start her own family.  Although I like to add a new or different food to the mix or throw in a new, fun craft, activity or something-or-other; the kids have always made sure we still do the traditions they love too and the years I've left something small out, thinking it wouldn't be missed that year - oh it was!

Kids love traditions!  Kids look forward to those traditions and build life long memories from them. I know I have childhood and teen memories involving certain foods I knew I could count on to be served at certain holidays and my kids, even as young adults will still randomly text me before an event or holiday to make sure I'm making "such-and-such" items!  "Just making sure!" they would follow up with.

Many magazines and online sites are touting how to
'change', 'improve' or 'update' your classic dishes.
If you are changing them... they aren't really classic anymore.
You've made something different.

Many magazines and online sites are touting how to 'change', 'improve' or 'update' your classic dishes.  
If you are changing them... they aren't really classic anymore.
You've made something different and new.
And there is also a good chance you are going to disappoint all the people looking forward to that classic pumpkin pie.  That classic roasted turkey.  Those classic mashed potatoes and oh, that classic stuffing!!!


In our home, our kids know and appreciate the fact our stuffing isn't going to have cranberries or currents in it.
Our turkey is going to be slow roasted with sage and perhaps thyme, salt and pepper but isn't going to be citrus flavored or maple washed.  They start to crave their own personal 'favorites' at least a month or two before the holiday and can't wait for that first bite of their favorite food item they've been looking forward to.
 
Our traditional Thanksgiving Menu changes each year in which varieties or number of pies I make that year, the Thanksgiving Cupcakes may or may not find their way to the table, cranberry sauce is a hit or miss as only I really like it, or I may decide to add an item to the menu but I've found over the past 28 years of marriage, growing our kids and cooking for us, extended family and often, additional friends; that no one wants to find their personal item 'missing' from the menu so there are certain foods my extended family can count on.

Our classic menu for 2016:

Roasted Turkey
Classic Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Cheesy Corn
Green Bean Casserole
Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Pecan Pie






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11/18/16

Spinach, Feta and Black Olive Wraps! (Using leftovers from my Greek Pizza)

Reposting from 2015





This is a quick fly-by post of my lunch yesterday.  The night before, I had made a Greek Pizza (low carb option here) and had extra feta mix left.  I used it in a low carb wrap with fresh spinach and black olives.  It was so simple yet so very good, I thought I'd share.

Here is the original pizza recipe (not low carb) - posted here a kajillion times, but it's one of our favorites.  Now, it's good for fresh cold wraps too.  Just make the filling and use it on tortillas or wraps as you wish. To make it low carb, leave out the high carb vegetables that may throw your counts off - or only use about 1/4 of what is called for (like less of the red onion and leave out the sun dried tomatoes).  Use a low carb wrap or tortilla.


Spinach, Olive and Black Olives (Greek Pizza)
Can be made into wraps!

1/2 c mayonnaise
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 c crumbled feta cheese
1 12 inch pre baked crust
1/2 c oil packed sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped plus 1 T of the oil
1/4 c pitted Kalamata Olives, chopped
1 t dried oregano
2 c baby spinach leaves
1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450. Mix mayonnaise, garlic and 1/2 c feta in bowl. Place pizza crust on cookie sheet and spread the mayonnaise mixture over. Top with tomatoes, olives and oregano. Bake 10 minutes. Toss spinach and onion with 1 T tomato oil. Top the hot pizza with this mixture and the remaining feta. Return to oven, bake 2-3 minutes longer. Cut and serve.







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11/16/16

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Bacon


This is a re-post but as you can tell, I have green beans on the brain!

I wanted two cans of green beans to make a side dish for Thanksgiving (I don't like fresh or frozen as much for this particular dish) but since I was at Sam's Club and it was so affordable, I bought a case of 12 cans (for about the same price as 3 cans in the grocery store).  So that is why I'm posting a bunch of green bean recipes right now!  :)



It's a day/night I really don't feel like cooking but I know everyone is going to be really hungry after a busy, full day.  So, into the Crock-Pot when some BBQ Beef Ribs and I didn't think about it the rest of the day. 

That evening I took the ribs out, put them under the broiler (we were out of propane for the grill and I didn't feel like cooking over a campfire that night - all 3 great ways to finish up the ribs for serving) and got the juice from the ribs simmering on the stove with some brown sugar sweetener and reduced sugar ketchup to make a sauce.  It was NOW that I started to think of a side dish.  About 5-10 minutes before serving time.

Time for some good old Southern style cooking y'all.  Green beans with bacon and mushrooms it is!  You can absolutely use fresh or frozen green beans for this; just cook them on the stove or in the microwave first until tender while the bacon is cooking.

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Bacon

4-6 slices of bacon
1 small can of mushrooms or about 1/2 cup fresh, sliced mushrooms
1-2 cans green beans of your favorite brand and style or fresh/frozen pre-cooked til tender on the stove or microwave

In a large pan fry the bacon, flip and continue cooking til just beginning to crisp.  Add the mushrooms. Continue cooking the bacon and mushrooms together until the bacon is dark golden and crisp and the mushrooms are golden.  Add the drained green beans.  Heat through, season with salt and pepper and serve.







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Green Beans with Almonds


This is one of those sidedishes you don't really use a recipe for, but just throw together when you need something quick and easy to go with the meal.  The other night we had crab stuffed salmon and I love green beans, broccoli or peas when we have seafood.  The thought of caramelized butter with fresh garlic and green beans just sounded perfect so that is what we had.

Like most foods of this sort I will tell you to "play with your food".   It doesn't matter if you want to use whole almonds, sliced almonds or blanched almonds.  Use what you have on hand.  Also, the amount of salt and pepper and the amount of garlic you use is completely up to you.  A little bit of garlic for those that aren't sure and a lot of yummy garlic for those of that are!


Green Beans with Almonds

Green beans, fresh or frozen
Olive Oil
Butter, real
Garlic, fresh peeled and minced or in a jar
salt and pepper
almonds
optional: a dash of brown sugar or brown sugar substitute

In a saucepan on the stove over medium high heat, place your green beans with a bit of water.  Cover and steam or simmer until just tender and still bright in color.  Drain if there is any extra water.  Add a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter to the pan and stir fry style the beans.  Add your garlic.  Start with a small amount if you aren't a big garlic lover; perhaps 1/2 teaspoon or 1 small clove.  This will give barely a hint of garlic flavor to about 2-3 cups of fresh beans.  I would suggest about 2 or 3 teaspoons.  If you wish, add a dash or sprinkle of brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper.  The brown sugar will give it a caramelized hint in flavor and is delicious but not necessary.  Keeping the heat at about medium, stir every minute or so until the beans start to show a little golden brown.  Do not over cook or your beans will be whimpy and your garlic can turn bitter if burned.  Now you can toss in the almonds as is - or - remove the green beans to a serving dish.  Add the almonds to the pan and toast them over medium heat until just starting to turn golden and then serve over the beans.   Serve hot.
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11/15/16

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions - a Yummy Side Dish!



Reposted from 2013



A recipe that is hardly a recipe, but more of a 'throw it together' kind of side dish.  Except, I often have this for lunch.  Given the choice between sweets or vegetables, it would be a strange and odd day if I were to choose sweets!  Instead, when I find myself alone for lunch or dinner and I don't have to take any other family members opinions into consideration, I will whip up something like this.  I normally add fresh, minced or chopped garlic to this but on this particular day I did not.  So quick and easy and delicious.

Green Beans - frozen or fresh
1/4 large onion, sliced, per person
olive oil
butter - real
salt and pepper

There are many ways to make this dish - you can caramelize the onions first and add them to the cooked beans.  You can cook it all together in a pan and not let the onions get to a caramelized stage if you prefer translucent.  You can add more or less oil or butter.  I make these a number of ways. If you are using fresh green beans you can blanch them or pre-cook them in boiling water for a few minutes if you wish them to be very tender and not still hold their shape.  Frozen does not need any pre-cooking.  In a pinch, you could also use canned beans, drained well, if you needed to.  On this day I used frozen green beans and caramelized the onions on the first layer while the beans were steaming on top of them.

In a pan over medium high heat, add a bit of olive oil to cover the bottom and a 'dollop' of butter.  Add your onion, spreading out in a single layer.  Place beans on top and let it cook without stirring for a few minutes.  You will notice the onions you can see start to turn golden brown on the edges.  This is the caramelization process.  When they start to get dark brown and the aroma from your pan is 'sweeter' then you can start to turn the onions over.  Cook the beans and onions, flipping onion pieces over and gently making sure the bigger pieces are on the bottoms.  As the onions finish cooking, so do the beans.  Season with salt and butter to your own tastes.  Sometimes I add fresh garlic to this and brown the garlic during the last 4-5 minutes of cooking.  I've also often added sliced mushrooms at the same time as the onions and once in a while, added toasted sliced almonds.







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