Sunday, May 29, 2011

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

This is a recipe that I received from my mother-in-law. She got it in an e-mail and she thought it was a recipe that I would like. Of course since it is easy to make and chocolate I had to give it a try. Overall the cake wasn't the best I have ever had, but I would think about making it again if I want something sweet and quick to make. I would recommend eating it with ice cream because the cake itself was a little heavy by itself. It does make a nice size cake for one person and you can eat it right out of the mug (which means less dishes to clean and in my book that's always a plus). Next time I make this maybe I will share some with Rob.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg beaten
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous)..
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homegrown Benefits

Rob and I recognize the benefits of homegrown produce. My parents have always had a huge garden so I grew up with lots and lots of fresh veggies, herbs, and fruit. Last year Rob and I planted basil, tomatoes, and green peppers in pots on our front porch. We had great luck with the basil, but our tomato and green pepper plants didn't do as well as I had hoped (due to a Tomato Horn Worm invasion). As most of you know we live in Delaware so it gets pretty hot here in the summer and my yard doesn't have any shade so we plant in pots and put them on the front porch. This year we went with all herbs (since we loved having fresh basil all summer last year). This year we planted a mixed pot of basil, oregano, and parsley and two catnip plants for baby. Next year we might put in a full garden, after we get some trees planted for a little shade from the hot sun.

Some of the benefits of growing your own vegetables and/or herbs
  • You are assured fresh vegetables. A lot of vegetables lose at least some of their vitamins as soon as they are gathered, so being able to take them from the garden to the table in a matter of minutes, ensures you gain the maximum possible health benefits from your homegrown vegetables.
  • Value for money.It is cheaper to grow your own vegetables and herbs at home. When you first start there will be some expenses such as pots, soil, fences, or other materials, but in most cases these are things that you can use year after year.
  • You can grow organic vegetables.You are guaranteed that your produce is organic because nothing is going on them unless you put it there. This is a huge benefit if you have people in your family with allergies.
  • Children actually learn where vegetables come from, how they grow and what they look like.  Growing vegetables yourself is providing them with a valuable life skill and education - while they have fun and plenty of fresh air! 
    Top ten most popular homegrown veggies according to The Gardeners Rake website:
    1. Tomatoes
    2. Peppers (hot peppers con be used to aid in colds and cayenne pepper can help heal a deep cut)
    3. Cucumbers (the inside of a cucumber can be up to twenty degrees cooler than the outside temperature. This is where the saying cool as a cumber came from)
    4. Onions (used as a cold remedy and they are said to help cure many ailments)
    5. Beans (Snap beans grow in both green and yellow varieties. There is a purple wax bean that turns green when it is cooked)
    6. Lettuce (Americans consume about 30 lbs. of lettuce each, per year)
    7. Carrots (English women in the 1600’s often wore carrot leaves in their hats in place of flowers or feathers)
    8. Sweet Corn (Corn is the most widely grown crop in America but only 10% is used at the dinner table)
    9. Radishes (radishes were originally grown for their size and could be as large as 50 to 100 pounds each)
    10. Cabbage. (Babe Ruth uses a cabbage leaf under his ball cap to keep cool. He changed it every two innings)

    So get out there are start planting, even if you start out with only a few plants you will see the benefits!

      Tuesday, May 24, 2011

      Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

      I love this recipe because it is easy, I can stuff the peppers the night before and then put them in the slow cooker before I go to work in the morning. I love having dinner pretty much done by the time I get home. Like many of my recipes I have adapted this one over time. My mom made stuffed peppers when I was young so I took the basic recipe and made it my own. The recipe is so easy, give it a try and put your own spin on it.

      Stuffed Peppers
      ·         1 lb. lean ground beef
      ·         ¼ cup onion diced
      ·         1 egg
      ·         1 cup instant rice, uncooked
      ·         1 clove garlic, minced
      ·         ½  teaspoon black pepper
      ·         ½ cup bread crumbs (Italian)
      ·         2-3 large green bell peppers
      ·         Jar spaghetti sauce

      1.    Wash peppers, cut tops off and remove core. 

       2.       In a bowl, mix the ground beef, onion, egg. rice, garlic, black pepper, and bread crumbs.  (everything except for the spaghetti sauce and the peppers)
       3.     Stuff each pepper with of the ground beef and rice mixture until full.

      4.       Put ¼ cup of the spaghetti sauce in the Crockpot. Nestle the peppers into your Crockpot. Pour the remaining sauce over the peppers.
            5.       Cook on low for 6-8 hours. This can vary depending on your Crockpot. Be sure to use a     meat thermometer to ensure the inside is cooked to 160°F

      Sunday, May 22, 2011

      Easy Shrimp Pasta for Two

      Rob and I love this recipe. It is easy to make and it really makes the perfect amount of food for two people. It is a great meal when you want to make somethings that doesn't take a super long time to make. The total time from start to the table is about 45 mins. We usually use frozen shrimp for the recipe and have found that this is easier since frozen shrimp we buy are deveined. We just have to peel the shrimp and start working on the recipe.

      Easy Shrimp Pasta for Two 

      Obtained from:

      • 2 Tbsp. KRAFT Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing 
      • 1/2 lb.  uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined 
      • 1/4 lb. fettuccine, uncooked 
      • 1   tomato, chopped 
      • 2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
      • 2 Tbsp.  chopped fresh basil, divided
      • 2 Tbsp. KRAFT Shredded Parmesan Cheese

      1. POUR dressing over shrimp in small bowl. Refrigerate 20 min. to marinate.
      2. COOK pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, heat large skillet on medium heat; add shrimp; cook 3 min. or until shrimp turn pink, stirring frequently. Remove shrimp from skillet; cover to keep warm.
      3. ADD tomatoes, cream cheese and 1 Tbsp. basil to same skillet; cook and stir 3 min. or until well blended. Add shrimp; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.
      4. DRAIN pasta. Place on large platter; top with the shrimp mixture, remaining basil and shredded cheese.


      Substitute: Prepare using thawed frozen shrimp.

      For a thinner sauce, stir small amount of milk into sauce with the shrimp.

      Saturday, May 21, 2011

      Macaroni and Cheese

      I got this recipe in high school in Home Economics and I still love to make it. The recipe is really easy and we love it! Rob rates my Macaroni and cheese as his #1 favorite thing that I make. It is a great side with dinner and it heats up well the next day as well. The only change that I have made to the original recipe is that I add bread crumbs to the top of it before I bake it. I also don't put the onions in when I make it.

      Macaroni and Cheese
      • 1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
      • 3 Tablespoons butter
      • 2 Tablespoons flour
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • dash of pepper
      • 2 cups milk
      • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions (optional)
      • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed (2 cups)
      1. Preheat oven to 350
      2. Cook 1 1/2 c. macaroni in boiling salted water until tender; drain.
      3. In saucepan, melt butter; blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Add 2 cups of milk; cook and stir until thick and bubbly. (Its best to add the milk slowly)
      4. Add onion and cheese; stir until melted.
      5. Mix cheese sauce with macaroni. Turn into 1 1/2 quart casserole. (sprinkle bread crumbs on top)
      6. Bake 35-40 minutes.

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      Hazelnut Creme Brulee Cupcakes

      This recipe turned out really well. I sent some of the cupcakes to work with Rob (since the recipe made 24) and everyone there really liked them as well. The frosting is a very rich addition to the already delicious cake, but they go together really well. The caramelized topping looks really nice on top of the frosting. Rob and I both really enjoyed these cupcakes. They were a little bit of work to make them, but it is worth it. The main problem I had when getting ready to make the cupcakes was finding a small bottle of hazelnut liqueur. The recipe only calls for 3 Tbsp of the liqueur, but I had to buy a large bottle. I did read on the internet that you could substitute hazelnut extract, but use 1/4 the amount the recipe calls for since extract is stronger. I used the hazelnut liqueur in the batch I made. One change I did make was I added more milk to the frosting to make it a better consistency for piping.

      Hazelnut Creme Brulee Cupcakes
            from Better Homes and Gardens special interest issue "Cupcakes"
      • 3/4 cup butter
      • 3 eggs
      • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 3/4 cups sugar
      • 2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla
      • 1 cup milk
      • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts
      • 1 recipe Vanilla-Hazelnut frosting
      • 1 recipe caramelized sugar drizzle
      • Freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg (optional)
      1.  Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 mins. Meanwhile, line twenty-four muffin cups with paper baking cups. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
      2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until combined. Scrape sides of bowl; beat for 2 minutes more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in liqueur and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in nuts. 
      3. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.
      4. Bake for 15-18 mins. or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 mins. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.
      5. Spread or pipe Vanilla-Hazelnut Frosting onto tops of cupcakes. Quickly drizzle with Caramelized Sugar Drizzle. If desired lightly sprinkle with nutmeg. Makes 24 cupcakes.
      Vanilla- Hazelnut Frosting
       Allow 1/3 cup butter to stand at room temperature for 30 mins. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in 2 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually beat in 3 cups additional powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk (3-4 teaspoons) until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Makes 2 cups.

            Caramelized Sugar Drizzle
      In a  large skillet cook 1/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat until sugar starts to melt, shaking skillet occasionally. Do not stir. When sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and cook about 5 mins or until all of the sugar is melted, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Immediately drizzle sugar mixture over frosted cupcakes.

      Sunday, May 8, 2011

      Baked Zucchini Sticks

      Baked Zucchini Sticks 

      3 medium zucchini (about  1 1/4 lbs), cut into 3 inch sticks
      1 Tbsp salt
      1 cup Panko bread crumbs
      1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
      1 tsp basil
      1 tsp oregano
      1 tsp parsley
      2 eggs, scrambled
      olive oil spray

      Place the zucchini sticks in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let the zucchini drain for 1 hour. Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings in a bowl and set aside.. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Blot the zucchini dry with paper towels. Dip them in the eggs, roll them in the bread crumb mixture, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Once all the zucchini are on the baking sheet, spray the tops lightly with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn the sticks over and bake for 8 more minutes, or until gold brown and crispy. Serve immediately. 

       Rob and I were searching for an interesting and creative way to prepare zucchini when I came across this recipe. We have made it many times and we love these zucchini sticks. The only problem we have run across is for some reason whenever we make this recipe it creates some smoke. The last time we made them I didn't spray the tops with olive oil and that seemed to take care of most of the smoke. We have used this recipe a lot and we love it!! We have made it for many of our guests and everyone seems to really like them as well. We bought the Misto (link on the left) for our olive oil. It is a great way to save money since you don't have to buy the spray cans of olive oil. You just fill it with your own oil, pump, and spray. Click on the picture of the Misto can to be directed to amazon where you can get your own Misto.

      Friday, May 6, 2011


      • 2 ripe avocados
      • 1/2 onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
      • Garlic clove, minced
      • 1 tablespoon lime juice
       Serve with tortilla chips.


      1 Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl or an electric chopper (I always use the Black and Decker one touch chopper. See the link to the left.)

      2 Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the chopped onion, lime, and garlic mash some more or just add all ingredients to the one touch chopper and chop until it reaches a good consistency. 

      Remember that much of this is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

      3 Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready.

      You can add chopped tomatoes.
      To extend a limited supply of avocados, add either sour cream.
      If you want to add come spice use chili peppers.Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. So, start with a half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness. Be careful handling the peppers; wash your hands thoroughly after handling and do not touch your eyes or the area near your eyes with your hands for several hours.

      We  love this guacamole. Rob even eats it on his burgers or hot dogs sometimes. You might find that you need to adapt this recipe for your taste, but it is a great starting point. I added a link to Amazon for the one touch chopper and the garlic zoom. I love using the one touch chopper and when I worked at a kitchen store people use to rave about the garlic zoom. I would recommend both products to make this recipe easier.

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      Brown Sugar Baked Brie

      We LOVE this recipe. We have made it many times. The first time we made it I didn't cut off the rind. This did make the cheese less runny, but I didn't like the taste of the rind. The next time we made it I cut off most of the rind and I liked it much better, but it was a little runny. It all depends on preference, as to whether you want to cut the rind off or not. We love serving it with grapes, strawberries, and apples. This baked brie is just as good as any restaurant baked brie...maybe better and its super easy to make. We give this one 5 out of 5.

      Baked Brie served with fruit

      Brown Sugar Baked Brie

      1 can (8 oz) crescent rolls
      1 round (8 oz) Brie cheese
      brown sugar
      1 egg, beaten

      Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll dough; separate crosswise into 2 sections. Pat dough and seal perforations, forming 2 squares. Place 1 square on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place cheese on center of dough. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of cheese. Place remaining square on top of cheese round. Press dough evenly around cheese. Trim edges. Fold bottom edges over top edge; and press down to seal completely. Brush with beaten egg. Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm.

      Sunday, May 1, 2011


      We made Peepshi for dessert on Easter Sunday. We really enjoyed making and eating it.  We thought this might be a fun thing for families to do together, but in retrospect it is probably a little bit hard for younger kids to do. We would suggest this for families with older kids. It gets a little bit messy and sticky , but it is a lot of fun to do and it turns our really cute! One change that Rob decided to make was he added nerds to the tops of some of the rolls to make it look like roe (fish eggs). Over all we give this 4 out of 5 stars because it was fun to make, not too difficult for adults and older children and it tasted good.

      •  6 Peeps per roll, 1 Peep per handroll, 1 Peep per nigiri
      • 1 box of Rice Krispies Treats
      • 1 box of Fruit by the Foot


      1. Slice off six 3/16th inch slices lengthwise from a Rice Krispies Treat (Please don't kill yourself trying to get exactly 3/16 inches. There are more important things to worry about, like beheading Peeps!).

      2. Execute six Peeps of your color choice by decapitation. Cut off more neck than you think is appropriate. If necessary, you can trim off more later.
      3. Portion out a length of Fruit by the Foot slightly longer than the Rice Krispies Treat slice.

      4. Flatten and elongate the Rice Krispies Treat slice slightly and shape it into a hollow circle. It's okay if it breaks, just mold it back together again.

      5. Take a Peep head and tuck it into the top of the hollow Rice Krispies treat cylinder. Use a toothpick or tip of the a knife to help get it snug.

      6. Wrap the Fruit by the Foot strip around your roll. Some folding and nipping may be necessary to get the cleanest look

        This recipe came from