Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcakes


See that right there?  That's the most amazing mistake ever.  Seriously.  I decided to try to make this.  Except I didn't really read very closely and I accidentally bought the wrong ingredients.  And, I love cupcakes, so I made them in cupcake form, of course.

I was making these for one of my book club meetings.  Except I ran out of time to make them in advance and had to make them after I got home from teaching the night before our meeting.  So, I got home around 9:30 pm and quickly threw together my version of this cupcake.  But I didn't want to make a whole batch of my version and have them be terrible, because I had no time to make something delicious if they bombed.  So, I made one cupcake and put it in the oven, thinking if it came out terrible, I could try to save the rest of the batter.  Then I heated up my dinner and sat on the kitchen floor in front of my oven and watched my single cupcake bake.  It was kinda like watching grass grow, except way more exciting.  And, the end result was much more rewarding, I think!

See how the center of the cupcakes are darker than the outside?  That's because the center is filled full of delicious moist fudge.  And see how the tops look all sticky and gooey?  They are.  In the most delicious way possible, too.  I thought the marshmallow would have been over the top with all the chocolate, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  Marshmallow + Chocolate = LOVE.  

These cupcakes must be eaten warm. (See the italics PLUS the underline??? I'm not kidding.)   I took leftovers to work and left step by step instructions requiring those eating them to heat them in the microwave before eating.

The marshmallow melts into the cupcake, which gets pretty messy.  I recommend eating with a fork. 

Source:  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen 

Here's what you need:
1 Box Devils Food Cake Mix and the eggs, oil and water called for on the box
1 Jar Hard Shell Chocolate Ice Cream Topping (like this)
1 7oz jar Marshmallow Fluff

Here's what you do:

1.  Prepare and bake cupcakes according to directions on the box. 

2.  As soon as the cupcakes are baked, pull them out of the oven.  Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke one large hole in the center of each cupcake (you want one large hole, not many small ones). 

3.  Fill each hole with the chocolate ice cream topping.

4.  Put a dollop of marshmallow fluff on top of each cupcake. 

5.  Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for about 2 more minutes. 




Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes


I've been quite enamored with the cupcake lately.  If you don't understand why, we can't be friends.  I mean, it's a miniature version of a big cake.  What's not to love?  These Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes are my latest in cupcake love.  

I went to a potluck dinner of sorts recently and the theme was breakfast.  I was beyond excited because breakfast is my favorite meal!  I figured the basics would be covered (and I was right), so I jumped on the dessert train, of course.  This was my favorite find in searching for breakfast themed cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste a lot like Cinnamon Toast Crunch (which I'd never eaten before I bought a box to make these cupcakes), but the icing is what really sends them over the top.  This is the kind of icing that is all sorts of soft and melty.  It's sweet, but not over the top.  Nothing short of perfect!  If you liked my recipe for Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, you've got to try this one because they're quite similar!

Adapted from: Ingredients of a 20something

Here's what you need for the cupcakes:
2 cups + 1 tbsp Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs, at room temperature
1 cup Buttermilk, well shaken
1 handful Cinnamon Toast Crunch, crushed into powdery crumbs
Additional Cinnamon Toast Crunch pieces for garnishing, if desired. 

Here's what you do to make the cupcakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

2.  Prepare your muffin tins (line with liners or spray with nonstick spray).

3.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir in Cinnamon Toast Crunch crumbs.  Set aside. 

4.  Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. 

5.  Add vanilla to butter/sugar mixture and mix well. 

6.  Add eggs to the mixture, one at a time.  Make sure each egg is mixed well into the batter before adding the next.

7.  Beat buttermilk into the mixture until well combined. 

8.  Add the flour mixture, adding about 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Beat until well combined.  Repeat until all of the flour mixture has been added. 

9.  Fill each muffin tin about halfway full.

10.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. 

11.  Allow to cool completely before icing. 

Here's what you need for the icing:
3 sticks Butter, softened
4 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
3 tsp Buttermilk
Ground Cinnamon, to taste (I used about 5 tsps)

Here's what you do to make the icing:
1.  Beat the butter until light and creamy. 

2.  Add the powdered sugar and buttermilk.  Add the first cup of powdered sugar.  Mix well.  Add 1 tsp buttermilk.  Mix well.  Repeat for cups two and three.  After adding the fourth cup of powdered sugar and mixing, you will not add more buttermilk. 

3.  Add the vanilla.  Mix well. 

4.  Add the ground cinnamon to taste. 

I iced my cupcakes the night that I made them and then added the cereal pieces on top as garnishment the morning of, so the cereal pieces didn't get soggy.  



Baked Taquitos


Here's a quick little dinner recipe that tastes great and is a healthy alternative to the fried taquito.  Although these are baked, they didn't come out soggy.  Instead that were nice and crispy, similar to fried taquitos.  I served mine with cilantro lime rice and it was a perfect pair.   

I found the recipe I based these off of on Pinterest.  The original recipe provides that the taquitos can be frozen and baked later.  I didn't get a chance to try freezing them because I ate them all.  But, I'm pretty sure you would have the same success freezing my modification of her recipe.  

Modified from: Pennies on a Platter

Here's what you need:
3 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup Salsa
1 Lime
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp Green Onions, sliced
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Taco Meat Season Packet of your choice
1 cup Mexican flavored cheese, finely shredded
12 small Tortillas
1 tbsp Butter, melted
Kosher Salt

Here's what you do:
1.  Cook the ground beef thoroughly.  Season according to instructions on your season packet. 

2.  Combine cream cheese, salsa, juice of half of the lime, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic, cilantro and green onions. 

3.  Add the ground beef to the cream cheese mixture.  Mix well. 

4.  Add the cheese to the cream cheese mixture.  Mix well. 

5.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. 

6.  Microwave 2 or 3 tortillas for about 20 seconds to make them pliable and easy to work with.  Fill each tortilla with a portion of the mixture, beginning on one edge.  Roll the tortilla up, beginning with the edge that was filled.  Place seam side down in a baking dish or cookie sheet.  Repeat until all of the mixture is gone. 

7.  Brush the top of each tortilla with the melted butter. 

8.  Sprinkle the kosher salt on top of the tortillas. 

9.  Sprinkle the lime juice of the remaining one half of the lime on top of the tortillas. 

10.  Bake for about 20 minutes.   Remove when the tortillas begin to crisp.  


Conversation Heart Cookies


I made these cute little cookies for Valentine's Day!

I have good news and I have bad news.  The good news is they turned out pretty cute, so I can tell you how to make cute little cookies of your own.  The bad news is, the recipes that I tried for the cookies and the icing were less than stellar, so I won't be sharing any recipes with you today.  It will be more of a how to tutorial.  

I found the idea on Pinterest.  I'm not sure how I used to entertain myself before I discovered Pinterest.  Anywho, recipes for sugar cookies and icing are all over Pinterest.  So, just head on over there and find yourself a sugar cookie and royal icing recipe that you like.  Then come back here and I'll tell you how to make your cookies super cute. 

1.  Make your heart-shaped sugar cookies.  

2.  Make your royal icing. 

3.  Divide the icing into as many colors as you would like your conversation hearts to be.  I did white, yellow, green, pink and purple.  You can google conversation heart images to get an idea of what colors you want to use.  

4.  Outline the cookies.  Using a #3 Wilton icing tip, fill your icing bag with the first icing color.  Outline the perimeter of each cookie that you would like to be that color.  Repeat with each color until all of your cookies have been outlined. 

     Hint:  Although I have reusable icing bags, I bought disposables for this job because I 
      knew I'd be changing colors frequently.  Click here to see what a #3 Wilton icing tip 
      looks like. 

5.  Going back to the first color your outlined with, put the icing back into the original bowl and add water to it slowly.  Add a few drops at a time and stir.  Continue doing this until you have a consistency that results in icing that is dribbled off the spoon into the bowl disappears into all the icing within a second or two.  Put approximately a tablespoon of icing on one cookie that has been outlined in this color.  Spread the icing around on the cookie until the entire surface of the outlined portion of the cookie is iced.  You can use a toothpick to do the spreading if you'd like.  I used my finger.  Because I'm not fancy pants.  And, that was waaaaaay faster.  Just keep a wet paper towel nearby to clean off your finger as needed.  Continue icing in this manner until all the cookies outlined in this color have been filled in. 

6.  Repeat step 5 until all cookies have been filled in. 

7.  Put red icing in an icing bag with a #3 Wilton tip.  Pipe cute phrases on the top of each cookie, beginning with the first cookie you piped and filled and going through the rest in the same order they were piped and filled (being methodical about the order in which you decorate ensures that the icing on the cookie has time to dry before you start piping on top).  Again, you can google image conversation hearts if you need ideas for what to pipe on top. 

     Hint:  It takes a lot of red icing coloring to make a vibrant red color that you will need for 
      these cookies.  I just bought a tube of red icing and squeezed that into my icing bag.

8.  Make sure cookies are completely dried before storing.  Do not store stacked on one another.  Your icings will bleed.  Not that I know from experience or anything . . . 



Energy Balls


My good friend Amber suggested that I try her AMAZING recipe for energy balls.  A while ago.  Like, last October.  I quickly opened the recipe because I get all excited when my friends and family share recipes with me!  Then I read the ingredients and quickly closed the recipe.  Pfffffft!  This recipe calls for wheat germ or flaxseed.   And no sugar.  At all!?!  NO SUGAR????  Are you kidding me?   Clearly, she didn't know me very well.  

So I thanked her for her recipe and told her I'd put it on my list of recipes to try.  Then I scoffed inside.  Because I knew there was nooooo way I was going to make that silly hippie food. 

Well, I've been feeling a little low on energy lately (helllllooo 15 hour work days).  So, this weekend I got desperate.  And decided to try her hippie energy balls.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, so why not?  And, I just knew that when I ate one and it tasted like cardboard, I'd be vindicated.  And I could return to sugar as my main source of energy. 

So, I made them.  And then I ate one.  And then I ate like one million more.  Because these things are deeeelicious, people.  There's no saving my pride here, folks.  I owe Amber one big fat apology.  So, here it is.  You were right and I was wrong.  (God, I hate how that sounds!)

Have a little faith in me and give these things a shot.  Seriously, I promise, you won't be disappointed.  They require very few ingredients and very little time.  They're scrumptious, healthy, and they give you energy.  What do you have to lose? 

I like these so much that I'm already trying to come up with variations.  But, for now, here is my version of Amber's  Energy Balls:

Here's what you need:
1 cup Quick Oats
2 heaping tbsp Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Honey
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 c wheat germ or flaxseed
2 tsp Vanilla

Here's what you do:
1.  Mix everything together. 
2.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
3.  Roll into one inch balls. 
4.  Enjoy!  Seriously -- that's it. 

FYI -- Amber's recipe also called for coconut and dried fruit.  I'm picky.  I don't like coconut, so I omitted that.  And dried fruit just didn't sound like it would fit all that well with all the other ingredients, so I kicked that out too.  I could have been wrong about that.  I've been wrong about other things.  *aaahheeemm*  Feel free to add those back in.  She suggested a cup of each. 


$4 a Day January Challenge -- Week 4 + the last 2 days of January

Last week I didn't have to buy much food because I had a lot of food that I'd previously purchased, but not cooked left over.  Here is what my grocery purchases looked like last week:

That set me back a whopping $6.47!  I also had to buy some cat food later in the week for $2.17 .  So my total purchases were $8.64.

Here's what I ate:

Breakfasts were coffee and oatmeal or pastries, which were provided at work.  I didn't want to take pictures of my pastries because, well, that would have been a little awkward.  I also had this:

Lunches were:
of course.

For dinners I had:
My man friend and I made a stuffed crust sausage pizza. 

 Tuna Noodle Casserole.

I also attempted my own personal version of Monkey Bread.  I've never made Monkey Bread before and I don't have a bundt pan (*gasp*!), so I improvised.  The result was delicious, but not as good as it could be, I think.  So, before I share it with you, I want to tweek it a bit . . .

My man friend and I also went out to dinner one night at a Mexican restaurant.  I bought dinner for about $24, but I didn't get any pictures. 

During the last 2 days of January I didn't have to buy anything. I had oatmeal and coffee for breakfast.  For lunch I had leftovers from the Mexican dinner that I didn't get pictures of.  And, for dinner I had:

Baked spaghetti with garlic bread.

In total, I spent $121.66 this month on food and supplies, which is a HUGE decrease in what I had been spending.  And, I stayed well within my $4/day goal. 

I learned a lot doing this.  I will be shopping grocery ads rather than doing all of my shopping at Wal-Mart.  I will also be a lot more conscious of my waste. I am a self-proclaimed food hoarder.  Until I did this little challenge, I had no idea how much of the food I was purchasing was actually being eaten and how much was being shoved into cabinets and eventually tossed.  I can't say that I'll be so extreme as to commit myself to a $4/day food and supply budget in perpetuity, but I can say that I will definitely be forcing myself to adhere to a budget in the future. 

I do have to admit, though, I did hate not having the ability to try new recipes at my leisure.  So, I'm excited for February -- bring on the new recipes!