Monthly Archives: May 2015

Peach Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream



    Happy Sunday to you!  It’s been a chilly and rainy one here.  So I had to make my own sunshine.  And peach cupcakes with peach buttercream frosting.  That’s sort of the same thing, right?  The cakes are light, fluffy and moist with little bits of peach all through them.   The buttercream is pretty amazing.  I do love me some buttercream frosting.  

The recipe was adapted from here.   

                                                                  Peach cupcakes with Peach Buttercream

Cupcakes (makes 9):

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/8 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup peach puree (I used Great Value canned peach slices in juice from WalMart, juice reserved)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup reserved peach juice

1 Tbs. vinegar


1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature 

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

pinch of salt

1/4 cup peach puree

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbs. heavy whipping cream

2 drops red food coloring

1 drop yellow food coloring


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Drain the juice from the peach slices and reserve. Place peach slices in a small mixing bowl and purée with a hand blender.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients-flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.  Add the wet  ingredients except the vinegar. Whisk until combined. Add the vinegar (it will be slightly foamy) and whisk until smooth.  Scoop into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden on top and cake springs back when touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cook completely on a wire rack. 


Cream butter in a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes or until pale yellow and fluffy. Sift powdered sugar and salt into the butter. Mix on low speed for a minute or two. Increase speed to medium and mix for another 2-3 minutes to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla, peach purée, heavy cream and food colorings. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,



Calico Beans


   Beans, beans the musical fruit.  The more you eat the more you…well you know the rest of the story.  I first had these beans at a catered lunch many years ago.  I loved them.  I’d never had anything like them before.  So I decided I was going to make these at home.  It starts with three kinds of beans, ground chuck and bacon.  It makes a wonderful accompaniment to any cookout.  Once you brown the beef, bacon and onions, you just throw everything in the crockpot.  A few hours later you’re eating the best beans you’ve had in your mouth.  Yes, they’re rootin’, tootin’ good!                                                                                   Calico Beans

6 – 8 slices bacon

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tbs. dry mustard

2 cans 15 oz. each pork and beans

1 can 15 oz. baby lima beans or butter beans, drained

1 can 15 oz. kidney beans, drained

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 Tbs. vinegar

1/4 cup molasses

1 Tbs. honey

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Spray the bowl of a crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.  Brown beef in a medium sized skillet, drain excess grease and place in the prepared crockpot.  Cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy.  Crumble bacon into the crockpot.  Drain all but one tablespoon bacon grease out of the skillet, leaving any of the browned bits in the pan.  Saute the onion in the bacon grease until light golden brown in color.  Add the onions and the remaining ingredients to the crockpot.  Stir to mix well.  Cook on low for 3-5 hours or on high for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally so that they don’t stick to the bottom and burn.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Elote Dip


  Do you like cilantro?  I do not.  Not at all.  I think it’s one of those tastes one either loves or hates.  If I want to make something with cilantro as one of the ingredients, I always substitute parsley.  This is one of those recipes.

I promised cookout side dishes this week and this one is sure to please.  This dip is based upon the Mexican street corn known as elote.  It’s charred, grilled corn, mayonnaise and cotija cheese often served on a stick.  The dip version isn’t changed a whole lot.  It’s equally as delicious cold as it is hot so it’s perfect to take for cookouts or picnics or any old time you want it.

Elote Dip

4 ears of corn

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 cup cotija cheese

1/2 cup parsley leaves (or cilantro), chopped fine

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like more spice)

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, optional

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Husk and rinse corn.  Place on a grill with white hot coals.  Turn corn frequently to get a good char on all sides.  Set aside to cool enough to be cut off the cob.  Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Stir until well combined and smooth.  Cut the corn off the cob,  Add to the cheese mixture and mix until evenly distributed.  Serve with tortilla chips, either homemade or store bought.  You can serve it cold or you can place it in an oven safe dish and place under the broiler for 5-7 until hot, bubbly and the cheese golden brown.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Cheesy Taco Pasta Bake


   Mmmmmm…this is so good!  I know I promised cookout/picnic sides this week and I will get back to those, but I had to share this with you tonight.  This is a spicy, cheesy, taco-y, pasta-y masterpiece.  It has homemade taco seasoning to season the beef which is so much better than the packets.  Don’t get me wrong.  I always have a packet or two in my pantry.  You never know when you have to throw together a last minute meal.  It also contains bottled salsa, canned enchilada sauce and jarred queso dip.  Add pasta, cotija cheese and Mexican blend cheese and KAPOW!  You have this awesome dinner.  You could add some black beans and/or corn if you’d like, but I thought it was pretty dang good the way it is.  Even my green-eyed Irish guy thought it was tasty.  Score one for the good witch!     Look at all that cheese!                                                                        Cheesy Taco Pasta Bake

8 oz. uncooked rotelle pasta (shaped like rotini but larger) or rotini pasta

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck

1 1/2 – 2  tablespoons (or more to taste) taco seasoning mix*

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup salsa

10 oz. can enchilada sauce

8 oz. shredded Mexican blend cheese

1/2 cup cotija cheese

1/2-3/4 cup queso dip

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 4-6 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.  Cook pasta per package directions in boiling, salted water.  Drain and set aside.  Brown ground chuck in a large skillet on medium high heat.  Drain off excess grease.  Reduce heat to medium, add taco seasoning and water and stir to thoroughly combine with the meat. Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add the salsa and enchilada sauce.  Cook on medium heat until hot and bubbly.  Combine the reserved pasta with the meat sauce.  Stir until sauce is evenly distributed through the noodles.  Place half the noodle mixture in the prepared casserole dish.  Spoon half the queso dip over the noodles.  Top with half the cotija cheese and then half the Mexican blend cheese.  Repeat process first layering the remaining noodles then the queso dip, cotija cheese and ending with the Mexican blend cheese.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is golden brown.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


*Taco Seasoning:

4 3/4 tsp. chili powder

3 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like more spice)

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in an air tight container or plastic zipper bag.  Makes 5 tablespoons mix.  Start by adding one tablespoon mix to one pound of meat.  Add more until desired spice level is achieved.

S’mores Brownies 


Yesterday was a busy day in the kitchen.  We had a burger and dawg cookout with lots of fixin’s.  Since Memorial Day is the official beginning of grilling season, over the course of the week I’m going to share with you some great sides to go with those great grilled meats.  These brownies are a home run, knocked out of the park, of a cookout dessert.  There’s a graham cracker crust topped with fudgy brownies, then a layer of chocolate bars and finally a layer of roasted marshmallows.  Gooey, oozey, fudgy, crispy goodness all in one serving,  Don’t forget the napkins.  You’ll need them.  One thing I will change next time I make them is to use miniature marshmallows instead of the larger ones.

But yesterday wasn’t about the cookouts or picnics.  It was the day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and our freedom.  Thank you to all the men and women who protect our country.  Without your courage and selflessness we certainly wouldn’t be the United States we know.  I salute you.

S’mores Brownies

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 stick or 8 Tbs. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

18.2 oz. dark chocolate fudge brownie mix 13 x 9 pan size (I used Duncan Hines)

1/3 cup fresh brewed coffee, cooled

1/3 cup oil

1 egg

9 full size 1.55 oz. chocolate bars (I used Hershey’s)

1 lb. bag marshmallows (I used the regular sized ones, but I’d recommend the minis for easier cutting)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave.  Add the graham cracker crumbs and sugar and mix well.  Spray the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Press the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.  In a medium sized bowl combine the brownie mix, coffee, oil and egg.  Mix until just combined and no large lumps of dry mix are seen.  Carefully pour brownie batter in the pan over the crust.  Bake for 27-30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted 1″ from the edge come out clean.  Place on a wire rack to cool completely.  When cooled top with the chocolate bars, breaking into pieces to fit.  Top with marshmallows.  Heat oven to broil.  Place brownies under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until marshmallows are golden brown.  You must watch them carefully so they don’t burn.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Orange Pineapple Cake


  It was a beautiful day here in Northeast Indiana.  I love days like this.  Blue skies, sunshine and temps in the upper 70’s.  Practically perfect in every way.  Speaking of practically perfect, say hello to this beautiful cake.

Three lonely oranges were sitting on the counter, staring at me.  All I could think of was cake.  Orange cake is heavenly but the pineapple in the fridge wanted in on the action.  How can you argue with pineapple?  So orange pineapple cake it would be.  How about a little splash of Parrot Bay pineapple rum?  Perfect combination I would say.  And I’m sure you’ll say so too when you try it.  Put on your apron and let’s make cake.

Orange Pineapple Cake

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 oranges)                                                                                                                         1/4 cup pineapple rum                                                                                                                                                                       1/4 cup fresh pineapple, cut into small pieces

Fresh orange frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)
4-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
dash of salt
1 tsp. grated orange zest
5 Tbs. orange juice (about 1/4 cup from 1 orange)

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt: set aside. Grease two 9 inch cake pans and line the bottoms of each pan with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the sides and bottom of each pan with baking spray with flour.
Combine the orange juice and pineapple rum in a one cup measuring cup.  Combine the sugar and orange zest in a small bowl.  Using your fingers, mix them together until well combined and fragrant.  In a mixer, cream together the butter and shortening, stopping the mixer a couple times to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Gradually add the sugar, creaming until mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions and scraping down the sides.
Alternately add the dry ingredients and orange juice to the cream mixture beginning and ending with orange juice. Divide the batter between the two pans. Tap pans a few times on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake layers on a cooling rack for 10 minutes in the pans and then loosen the layers by running a knife between the cake and the edge of the pan. Remove layers from the pan onto the rack until completely cooled.
For the frosting:
Sift the powdered sugar and salt: set aside. Cream butter until it becomes light yellow and fluffy. Add the orange zest and mix to combine. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix on low. Add the orange juice one tablespoon at a time. Turn mixer up to high speed and mix until light and fluffy. Frost cake.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Chicken Noodle Soup


 Do you make your own chicken stock?  I usually don’t because I can’t bear the thought of wasting the whole chicken that you’ve cooked to death to make it.  But you know that rotisserie chicken you pick up from the grocery store?  What do you do with the “carcass” when there’s not enough meat left to pick off?  I’ll tell you what I do. I make chicken stock.  It makes freakin’ awesome chicken stock.  With that freakin’ awesome chicken stock you can make some freakin’ awesome chicken noodle soup.  The bonus is you don’t waste that chicken.  Cha-ching!

I spent the morning and afternoon at urgent care with my daughter, N and grandson, Bubbie.  Poor little guy has been feverish with a tummy ache, ear ache and green nose.  Grandma’s diagnosis: ear infection and sinus infection.  Actual diagnosis: double ear infection, burst tympanic membrane (aka ear drum) and sinus infection. Heavy duty antibiotics and no school until Tuesday.  So chicken noodle soup was on my mind.  We all know there’s nothing better than that lovely soup when you’re sick.  

Chicken Noodle Soup  

Chicken Stock:

1 rotisserie chicken “carcass”, including any bits of meat and skin still attached

1 small onion, cut into six wedges (you don’t even need to cut the skin off if you don’t want to)

2 stalks of celery, cut into 4 or 5 large pieces each

1 cup halved baby carrots or 2 large carrots, cut into large chunks

2 tsp. chopped garlic or 2 garlic cloves

6 sprigs fresh thyme

4-6 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. pepper

water, up to 64 oz.

Place the vegetables in a large stockpot.  Place the chicken carcass on top of the vegetables.  Place enough water in the stockpot to completely cover the chicken by an inch or so.  Add the thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil on medium heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 75-90 minutes, skimming off any “scum” that forms on the top.  This assures for a clearer stock.  Strain the broth through a mesh sieve, discarding the vegetables and spices.  Hello beautiful stock for our soup!  Set aside.

For the Chicken Noodle Soup:

8-12 oz. noodles, cooked per package directions (I used Essenhaus Amish style wide noodles)

1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

4 Tbs. olive oil, divided

1 cup carrots, small dice

2 stalks celery, small dice

1 shallot, small dice

2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. pepper

 Place 2 Tbs. olive oil in a medium-sized skillet.  Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to the skillet and cook on medium high heat until no longer pink.  Set aside.  In a large Dutch oven heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil on medium heat.  Add the carrots, onion, celery and thyme leaves.  Cook and stir for 6-8 minutes until vegetables start to soften.  Add reserved chicken stock, chicken, salt and pepper and simmer for 30-45 minutes.  While that is cooking, cook noodles per package directions, drain and set aside. Taste the broth to see if seasoned correctly.  Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add reserved noodles and simmer for 5-10 minutes until heated through.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,