Archive for February, 2011

February 24, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I came across this recipe which combines sweet & spice, weeks ago and just had to save it. This combines two of my favorite food flavors!

When people ask me my favorite food (like I ask my students as one of my ice-breakers at the begining of the year) what their favorite food is, I am so often torn between “CHOCOLATE” & “chips & SALSA”. Now, at first look – it may seem that those two things do not go together. I first realized what a perfect combination those flavors were a few years ago when my grandmother bought me a Ghirardelli dark chocolate, chili-infused bar of chocolate. I that point I realized that the world is a good place. Well, that is what this cupcake does for you… brings together the sweet and the spice in a perfect combination that makes me smile a huge smile!

“Sweet and Spicy” – that explains me pretty well. I try to be sweet and do things for others, but I’m stubborn and don’t take garbage from anyone so I guess that I can be called pretty spicy usually too, and we wonder why I love those two flavors, haha! Enough about me – prepare to get into the kitchen for the best of both worlds!

Recipe (from Cheeky Kitchen – check out her photos & blog!)

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or veggie oil)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened Vanilla Milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (+) teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dutch cocoa (Hershey’s Dark worked well)
  • 1 1/4 cups white flour
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, oil, and milk. Beat together until well combined. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla, stirring well until incorporated into the batter. Slowly beat in the cocoa and flour just until mixed into the batter. Spoon batter into 18 prepared muffin tins prepared with cupcake wrappers, filling each cup to approximately 3/4 full. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes, or just until the tops of the cupcakes spring back to the touch. Remove from oven and cool completely.
1 cup high quality caramel ice cream topping
Using a spoon or small scoop, remove a small portion of the top center of each cupcake. Spoon caramel sauce into this center part of the cupcake. By the time my frosting was done, this caramel was melted into the cupcake, so my hole was there for frosting, but I didn’t really notice the flavor of the caramel, but it was awesome – so don’t think that you should skip this step, but whatever will work 🙂
FROSTING (or do you call it ICING – whats the difference!?)
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped (whoops: skipped)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (SKIPPED – I used cinnamon instead)

In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add the brown sugar (fresh, soft brown sugar to avoid grainy-ness) mixing until the cream is thick enough to pipe on top of cupcakes. Stir in the cayenne. Spoon cream into a large pastry bag (or ziploc bag), then pipe it on top of cupcakes. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate and red chili peppers cinnamon for garnish.

These cupcakes were a special treat for my “kids”. I am such a “mom” and always am looking out for others and making sure they are behaving and fed and all of that good stuff. Because of this, over the years at Big Boulder – I have come to be known as “Mommy Rachel” (the multiple trips that I have organized to Mt. Snow including booking hotels, doing food shopping, cooking dinner, packing sandwiches, having breakfast stuff, and organizing everyone to pay and be happy have really helped extend the “Mommy” part). I look forward to having kids of my own and then have my other “kids” teach my kid how to ski!

So, hit the slopes & warm up by the fire with a Hot Chocolate Cupcake (or enjoy these after any other random activity that you would like to use as an excuse)

February 18, 2011

Spinach Pancakes

Now you wait just one minute before you stop reading (actually – you need to start reading in order to start, but don’t stop before you even start… if that even makes any sense). These are not pancakes like you would eat for breakfast… think instead pancakes like potato pancakes, or chick pea patties, or something like that! Yeah – that kind of pancake!

I am continuing my healthy green kick tonight with these Green Spinach Pancakes (which yes – once again are pretty gosh darn healthy for you!). After finding these on  another wonderful WordPress Blog (thanks Five & Spice – these are awesome, and the photos are a lot better – I plan on visiting the blog of this ‘down to earth’ nutritionist a lot more often!), I decided to make these for dinner. But keep in mind that these would make a great side dish or appetizer or part of a “tasting” dinner menu!

Spinach Pancakes: eat fresh


Spinach pancakes (with ‘yogurt’ sauce)

  • 1 1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt OR sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • [1/2 teaspoon lime zest]
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves OR 1 teaspoon mint extract
  • 1 bag (10ish ounces) fresh spinach
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for frying

Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt [sour cream], lime juice, lime zest, and mint leaves. Put in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the pancakes. Stir once again before serving… just to be safe

Wash the spinach, then put the spinach in a large sautee pan with a sprinkling of water, cover, and cook over medium heat (stirring a few times) until the spinach is wilted. This will only take a couple of minutes. Put cooked spinach into a colander and let it cool down so you can handle it. Once cool, use your hands and squeeze out as much of the liquid from the spinach as possible. Then chop the spinach up well and set aside. [a box of frozen spinach would probably work well here too)

Heat your tablespoon of butter in a sautee pan over medium-high until it is foaming. Stir in the chopped onion and cook until it has gotten nicely browned. Turn the heat down very low and allow to cook for about 3-5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, to get them a bit caramelized.

In a bowl: whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, 2 Tbs. olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Stir in the spinach and onion until all combined. You will have a very thick ‘batter’

Pour enough olive oil into a large sautee pan to coat the bottom. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Drop heaping spoonfuls of batter into the pan & try to make them circular and even thickness (with spoon OR pressing down on it with the spatula). Cook until the bottom sides have turned golden brown, then flip and cook another couple minutes (no more than 5 minutes total for each batch). Transfer the pancakes to a serving platter (if needed, keep warm in a 200F oven) and continue frying – using more olive oil as needed- until all the batter is used up. Serve the pancakes accompanied with the mint-yogurt sauce for generously smearing them with. These reheat well too! 🙂


… with all these green recipes: you should be all set for St. Patrick’s Day this year!

February 17, 2011

Jewish Penicillin

Day #2 of trying to play Dr. Chef. Last night’s Green Cream of Spinach Soup went over well and was comforting on his throat. He was coughing most of the night and miserable at work all day, SO – I did what I was brought up on… I made some Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls!

Ok – so maybe I didn’t really “make” it – but I still “made it”! I took a container of Mom’s Chicken Broth out of the freezer (added some more water with a tiny more bullion) I sautĂ©ed some onions, celery, & carrot and then put the broth in and brought it to a boil. While that was cooking I made/chilled matzo balls (open a package from the Manischewitz box – follow the directions, but add about a tablespoon of parsley, 1/2 a teaspoon ginger, and less than a 1/4 cup of parmesan). Boil them for 20 minutes.

Eat your chicken soup at “burn your mouth” temperature. It is the heat that kills all the germs and magically makes you better! This classic dish always makes me feel better (at least emotionally, and I love matzo balls!)

It just so happened that while I was making this, Ina Garten was on the Food Network making a Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls! It looked awesome & plan on trying out her recipe next time we need it (add that matzo meal to the shopping list). I just fear that if these are TOO amazing – that I will never be able to enjoy the quick joy of Manischewitz & Chicken Bullion/Stock Penicillin…

February 16, 2011

Cream of Spinach Soup

Yes – another GREEN recipe! Now that I am over being sick (and just have an occasional gross cough) Rich’s body decided he wanted to catch what I had. He is pushing through it (and not taking it easy like he tried to force me to do) but like all of us when sick – pretty miserable. I decided to try to pump him full of vitamins and nutritious stuff and figured spinach was a perfect way to do it and since his throat is what is bugging him the most… Spinach Soup it was!


  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 1 can evaporated milk (or cream or regular milk)
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • dash of hot pepper flakes (to taste)

Soften up your onion and garlic with some oil for about 5 minutes. Then add your frozen spinach & chicken stock. Cook over medium heat until completely defrosted. Add the beans & milk (and hot pepper). Using a stick (immersion) blender (or your regular blender) turn this into a nice thick smooth soup. Taste & season.

Serve this soup with good crusty bread, or biscuits (I used the Pillsbury variety), or a nice salad/sandwich. This soup can also be a good base for adding lots of other items. Think: thickening with some flour, add more garlic & put over pasta OR use as a sauce for baking chicken, OR add some cheese and make a dip, OR add artichokes (to make soup or dip or whatever), OR just have fun – remember what I always say… cooking is an experiment and should be enjoyable, so get in the kitchen and have fun!

February 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Happy Valentines Day (weekend)

Oh, the things we do for love! I had off on Friday to go to the dentist so knew I would have some kitchen time if I wanted and earlier in the week had come across this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes (and then found a whole bunch more that were exactly the same and all got rave reviews!). Rich is a HUGE fan of cookie dough (remember when he got accepted to Lehigh!?), so I knew that this was what I was doing for him for Valentines Day!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Warning: these cupcakes are not low calorie OR quick and easy – but Rich’s reaction to them made it all worth it! Feel free to take some time and do these over two days or even substitute your favorite cupcake recipe (Rich loved these cakes – I like a less dense cake – so try as written first or just wing it… up to you)


For the cupcakes:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups), at room temperature
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ÂĽ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° degrees. Line cupckae pan with 24 liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling:

  • 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ÂĽ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

To make the cookie dough filling, combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up a bit, about a half hour.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone-shaped portion out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a chunk of the chilled cookie dough mixture.

For the frosting:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups), at room temperature
  • Âľ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Âľ teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the frosting, beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk  (I used at least an extra tablespoon compared to this recipe) and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.

Frost the filled cupcakes as desired and sprinkle with mini-chocolate chips. Store on the counter or in the fridge (fresher if kept in the fridge) and then you decide if you like them cold or room temperature!

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