Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes

Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 T. butter, softened
1 egg, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with muffin cup and spray with cooking spray. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In another bowl beat both sugars and butter until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and buttermilk beating on low speed until just combined. Beat on medium speed just until no traced of flour remain. Bake in prepared pan for 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely. Fill with Nutella.

Best Frosting EVER!!!

The ingredients seem weird but this is the best frosting!!!
3 T. flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

whisk together the flour and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken (you will be able to start to see the bottom of the pan. Strain through a mesh strainer (I use a spoon and press it into the strainer to get it all through). Put in the fridge and let it cool completely. Using the whisk attachment, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, while beating add the milk mixture and vanilla. Scrape the sides and beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. Frost on cupcakes--or eat with a spoon which ever floats your boat!!

Another variation that is yummy, is to fill the cupcakes with the above frosting and then top the cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache which is super easy and yummy.

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 T. butter, melted
8 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped

Place chocolate in a bowl and pour melted butter over it. Place cream in microwave for about 2 minutes-it needs to be at a simmer. Immediately pour over the chocolate and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for about 3 minutes and then stir until smooth. Let it cool until it's a good spreading consistency and spread on cupcakes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies

These are my favorite cookies! The only ingredient you may not have on hand is the Andes Mint Chips (the small bits). They are difficult to ruin (good news for me) and I always eat way too many (not good news)!

Andes Crème de Menthe Chunk Cookies 

½ cup butter softened
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package (10 oz) Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips
2 2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour 

Blend butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs until mixed. Stir in Andes chips and then flour. Chill approximately one hour. Measure out about 1 oz of dough and form ball and slightly flatten. Raise oven rack one level above middle and bake on non-stick baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on pans for two minutes before removing. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Tuscan Bruschetta

I love this super easy recipe! It goes great on the side of chicken or pasta, or makes a great snack. I usually substitue whatever ingredients I have on hand and it doesn't seem to matter much in taste. This recipe also calls for a little food processor to chop everything up, but you can chop by hand easily.

Tuscan Bruschetta

Bruschetta Topping:
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Red Onion
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
½ Cup Fresh Basil Leaves (or use dried)
Salt and pepper to taste

Tuscan Bean Spread:
1 (15 oz) Can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed (white kidney beans found in bean aisle)
1/4 Cup Loosely Packed Parsley Leaves (or use dried)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove
Salt and pepper to taste

 1 Loaf French Bread (I've also used wheat bread)
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil

To make the Bruschetta Topping
Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until tomato mixture is uniform in size. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

To make the Tuscan Bean Spread
Using the same bowl (no need to wash), add all the ingredients for the bean spread, pulse until the mixture is smooth.

Assemble the Bruschetta
Cut the French bread into ½ inch thick slices, brush with olive oil and grill on each side until lightly golden brown. Spread the bean mixture on the grilled bread and top with the bruschetta mixture.

Chicken Kiev

This is one of my favorite recipes, probably because I always have the ingredients on hand and it is super fast to make. I can even make a lower-fat version that still tastes delicious... just limit the butter and cheese. Yum! This goes great with whole-wheat pasta, seasoned with the same herbs, and veggies.

Chicken Kiev

½ stick butter (1/4 cup)
¼ tsp parsley flakes
¼ tsp oregano flakes
½ cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup parmesan grated cheese
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp onion salt
4 chicken breasts (boneless skinless is best)
Swiss cheese

Melt butter in a small microwave safe dish. Add parsley and oregano. In another small, flat dish, add bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic salt and onion salt. Mix well.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Place chicken in plastic and pound until 1/2 inch thick, or desired thickness. Place chicken breast face down and spread with a thin layer of butter mixture. Add a strip of swiss cheese. Roll tightly, tucking cheese in and securing with a toothpick. 

Spoon a little butter mixture over the top of rolled breast, then roll in the bread crumb mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until 165 degrees internally.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chewy Brownie Cookies

We made these for FHE tonight. So yummy! If you want chocolate, make these. This recipe is from my Mother-in-law.

2/3 Cup Crisco (I use the butter flavor)
1 1/2 cups Packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp Water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp soda
2 cups semi-sweet Chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. In large bowl, beat shortening, brown sugar, water, and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounder TBSP 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7 - 10 mins. or until cookies are set. Cookies will appear soft and moist. Do not over bake. Cool 2 mins. remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely before serving. Makes about 3 dozen.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mexican Casserole

We love this at our house any time of year.

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped olives
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 Tbsp chopped onion
2 (8oz) tomato sauce

1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 can diced green chilies

8 oz. tortilla chips
2 cups grated cheese

Brown Hamburger. Drain and add garlic salt, tomato sauce, olives and onion. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, cottage cheese, and green chilies. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Layer 1/2 of chips (crush them a little to lay flat), then meat mixture, next sour cream mixture and cheese. Repeat layers, ending with cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 for 35 minutes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grilled Salsa

Grilled Salsa

6 large ripe tomatoes, hulled and halved

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved

2 red bell peppers, seeded and halved

4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and halved (leave seeds in for more heat)

2 limes, juiced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil


Drizle oil over vegetables and lightly salt. Grill over medium heat until they begin to char, about 15-20 minutes, turning them over after 10. The tomtatoes will take the longest to cook. Remove from the grill and allow them to cool to room temperature. Puree in a food processor in batches. Add lime juice and season generously with salt to taste. Chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

Roasted Red Potato Salad

Roasted Red Potato Salad

3 lbs baby red potatoes, cut in small pieces

½ cup olive oil

12 cloves minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon salt and pepper

2 cups mayonnaise

2 lemons, juiced

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, half of the garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Spread on a flat baking sheet and roast 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

When potatoes are cool, toss them with mayo, lemon juice, remaining garlic, and fresh parsley. Salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cooking Group Field Trip! 6-2-11

For our Cooking Group field trip we visited the only year-round indoor farmers market in the Richmond area called Farm to Family. This was an opportunity for us to see what foods Virginia has to offer. They have an area inside for children to read books, play with balls, and look at live bunnies while parents can shop. Everything they sell was produced within 150 miles of Richmond; and it's all made by eco-friendly farming. Their produce is organic and is often picked the same morning it is brought to the market. Their meats, dairy products, and eggs are all "pastured", meaning they are free to roam and eat as animals were meant to. They also carry local honey for those of you with allergies to pollen.

At the end of our visit we purchased tomatoes, zucchini, cherries, apples, salad greens, bread, beef, eggs, potatoes, onions, beets, peas, and more!

If anyone would like to go in the future, mention that you are LDS and you'd like the "Church discount" they offer--I think it's 10% off (Mark and Suzi Lilly are LDS and they run the place). Also, BRING YOUR OWN GROCERY BAGS!

It is located at:

2817 Mechanicsville Turnpike
Richmond, VA 23223

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ingredient Substitutions for Healthier Baking (from Cooking Group May 19, 2011)

Original Ingredients



Flour (white wheat flour)

Whole wheat flour, some oat flour, other whole grain flours, flax seed meal

If the flour you choose is gluten-free you may need to add xanthum gum

Refined sugar (including brown sugar)

Honey, agave, fruit, sucanat, dates or raisins soaked and blended to a paste

1 to 1 ratio, or try reducing the overall sugar in the recipe. Just try to avoid “white,” “refined,” or “bleached”.

Butter, margarine, shortening, oil, fats

Applesauce or prune puree, pureed white beans. Use olive oil (for savory dishes), coconut oil, or nut butters to add the richness and fat needed in some dishes

Some dishes can handle substituting a 1 to 1 ratio. However, sometimes one remaining Tablespoon of real fat makes all the difference.


Egg whites. (Plain non-fat yoghurt can be used as a binding agent when “breading” a dish).

2 egg white = 1 egg

Chocolate chips

Nuts, craisins, raisins, fruit, dried fruit, seeds.

Two websites with great healthier baking recipes, especially for kids:

Whole Wheat Banana-Strawberry Muffins (adapted from


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (*we used coconut oil)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (*we used honey)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen sliced strawberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 12 large muffin cups, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and bananas. Combine the flour, baking soda and cinnamon; Stir into the banana mixture until moistened. Stir in the strawberries until evenly distributed. Spoon batter into muffin cups until completely filled.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed lightly. Cool before removing from the muffin tins.

Whole Wheat Brownies (adapted from

  • Pour into greased glass pan.
  • Bake at 350 F for 40-45 min.