Friday, January 20, 2012

Valentine Heart Cookies

Just for my hubby!

Here's a quick peek at some Valentine cookies I made this week. I was practicing some new techniques. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Adventures in Stuffed Pepper Making

I absolutely love bell peppers. It's one of those foods I refused to eat when I was a child and then my father-in-law came along and made me try one and I was hooked. I cannot get enough of them. Peppers as a snack, on a salad, in stirfry or pasta, I love 'em. So why on Earth have I not made stuffed peppers before?

Hmmm, I'm not a terribly huge fan of ground beef so perhaps that is why but these stuffed peppers are different. They are Southwestern style stuffed peppers. I knew that would get my husband's attention. He loves anything spicy. And he loved these but one word of warning: they are filling! I could barely finish one pepper and my husband got down one and half.

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Recipe adapted from Kayln's Kitchen

  • 6 large bell peppers, any color (red, green, yellow, orange)
  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz. can)
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
  • 1 tsp. chile powder 
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cups cooked white rice 
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • In large frying pan, brown ground beef well and drain off fat.
  • Add onions to beef mixture and saute for  3-4 minutes, until well softened.
  • Add rinsed black beans, tomatoes and juice, green chiles and juice, chile powder, and cumin.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer 5-10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • If you are lucky enough to have a helper, they can do this step while you make the filling but if not just let the beef mixture simmer while you cut and seed the peppers.
  • Cut off the tops of the peppers and carefully remove all the seeds. If you are having trouble with them staying upright, you can cut a very slim slice from the bottom of each pepper to even out the bottom.
  • When the beef mixture seems fairly dry, turn off heat and mix in cooked rice and cheese, and salsa. Place peppers in a dish small enough to hold them compactly and then stuff each pepper with the meat/rice mixture, pushing it down so peppers are tightly filled. Put the tops back on the peppers and then cover with foil.
  • Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 10-20 minutes more, until tops are slightly browned and pepper skin can be pierced easily with a fork. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Banana Walnut Mini Muffins and Bread

I have been craving some banana muffins lately but I haven't made any creme fraiche to make Joanne Chang's banana bread, which is the most moist banana bread I have ever had. So I had to try something new. It's a new year, we're all supposed to try new things, right? Perhaps that is my goal this year; to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

This banana bread isn't as moist as Joanne Chang's but it's still pretty good. Probably better if I had any buttermilk, but mine had expired and I'm not taking any chances with that! So I substituted sour milk for the buttermilk and it was okay but buttermilk is better, sorry Grandma. My grandmother always used sour milk in her recipes, I was an adult long before I realized that buttermilk could be used in recipes. I always just subbed in sour milk, what was I thinking? Oh man, I was missing out. Are there any ingredients you never knew about until you were an adult?

Banana Bread
recipe from Gold Medal Flour

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3-4 medium)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pans (I used two 8x4 loaf pans and one 24 mini muffin pan) with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and nuts together. 
  • Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir until the mixture is just moistened. 
  • Pour batter into pan.
  • Bake mini muffins for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean. Bake loaves of bread for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean. 
  • Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then move to a wire rack and let cool completely. 
  • Cool for about 1 hour before slicing. 
Happy Wednesday, my friends!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Self-Rising Flour

Have you ever bought a bag of self-rising flour and wondered if it was possible to make it yourself? Me too! So I thought I would be brave and try to make some of my own.  My mother-in-law got me this cupcake calendar for Christmas, you know the one where you pull off each page every day, and I was looking the recipes, each one requires self-rising flour.
I'm cheap and if there is a way to make it myself I will give a go. And if Google is correct, it took all of 5 minutes to make. Yes, I said 5 minutes. The hardest part was measuring out the six cups of flour! Super simple to make and hopefully this will encourage me to make some of the lovely cupcakes noted in the calendar. I have my eye on some chocolate mud cupcakes with chocolate oozing out of the cupcake. Oh my.

Stay tuned for that yummy recipe. :)

Here's how to make self-rising flour. You'll never go back to buying a bag again.

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • Whisk (or sift) together all ingredients.
  • Store in an airtight container. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hot Chocolate Popcorn

This gourmet popcorn is very rich and sweet. I definitely think I will add a little less white chocolate the next time I make it. I would recommend making this for a chocolate lover in your life, it is loaded with chocolately goodness! I used some homemade cocoa I received as a gift that is pretty sweet so maybe that added to it's extra richness. I wonder what a sugar free cocoa would taste like on this? If anybody tries it, please let me know. I would love to find out your thoughts!

Hot Chocolate Popcorn
recipe from Cookies and Cups

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels (gives you about 16 cups popped)
  • 14 oz Wilton white candy melting disks or vanilla almond bark
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup Hot Chocolate powder
  • 4 oz milk chocolate
  • wax paper


  • Make your popcorn using an air popper. If you don’t have an air-popper and use microwave popcorn, use plain or lightly buttered/salted.
  • In a large bowl combine your popcorn and marshmallows.
  • Melt your white candy melts or almond bark according to package directions and drizzle on top of popcorn/marshmallow mix. Stir to coat evenly.
  • Spread your popcorn on a wax paper lined counter. 
  • Immediately sprinkle your hot chocolate mix on top of wet popcorn.
  • Melt your milk chocolate in the microwave and drizzle on top of popcorn.
  • Let the chocolate set.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Sorry for the lack of pictures - I was packing for our trip and making this as gifts for our family at the same time. Trust me not to multi-task well! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year

Well, I'm 5 days late in wishing you a happy 2012. Life, again, has seemed to get ahead of me or maybe it's just my lack of motivation after the week and half of holiday vacation. We had a wonderful low key New year's Eve celebration and rang in the new year with wonderful friends. We also had a great spread of food, wine, and champagne.

Our holiday was pretty low key as well filled with good food and new traditions. My husband made chili and my sister-in-law's mom brought tamales. We brought Texas and Mexico to the Midwest this year. :) Everyone enjoyed our new tradition and I am Christmas'd out! I made so many desserts and breakfasts over the holiday vacation but I forgot to take pictures. I can't believe I did that. Oops. I guess everyone was in such a hurry to eat that we missed our chance for the food to be camera ready!

My New Year's resolution is to blog more often and to try out a bunch of new recipes this year. I hope you continue to visit as I explore and try new recipes.


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