Sunday, July 22, 2012

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Found in Family Circle magazine, June 2012 issue.  My stepdad's favorite cookie was the Snickerdoodle.  I love them too, and thought this recipe sounded too good not to try.  It's on my to-do list for this Fall!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two 12-capacity cupcake pans with paper liners.

Combine 1 box (18.25 oz.) white cake mix, 1 C milk, 1/2 C (1 stick) melted unsalted butter, 3 large eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 2 tsp. ground cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping side again if needed.  Using a standard ice cream scoop, fill each liner two-thirds full.

Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Remove cupcakes directly to the wire racks and cool completely, 30  minutes more.  Meanwhile, place 1/2 C (1 stick) softened unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, or until fluffy.  Stop the mixer and add 3 3/4 C confectioners' sugar, 3 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon.  Blend with mixer on low until sugar is incorporated, 1 minute.  Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more.  Blend in up to 1 additional Tbsp. milk if frosting seems too stiff.  Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Makes 22 to 24 cupcakes and 3 1/2 C of frosting.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Toasted Cheese Ravioli

Here's a simple meal for those days when you're running short on time.

Toasted Cheese Ravioli

Cook 24 refrigerated small cheese ravioli according to the package directions; drain.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Brush tops with 1 Tbsp. Italian salad dressing (I like the zesty Italian!); sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. seasoned bread crumbs.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Serve with warmed marinara sauce.
Makes 4 servings

Friday, July 20, 2012

Berry Popcicles

Here's a nice treat to help you stay cool! 
~Praying for all those affected by the drought this summer; Indiana's been particularly hard hit.

Here's hoping for cooler weather and much needed rain!

Berry Popcicles

Whisk together 1 1/3 C whole milk, 1 Tbsp. honey and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract.
Evenly divide one 12-oz. package thawed and drained frozen mixed berries (or any frozen berry of your choice) into 10 ice pop molds OR paper cups (3 oz. each).
Pour milk mixture over berries.
Top molds with holders or insert wooden sticks into cups.  Freeze for 4-6 hours or until solid.

Garlic Rubbed T-Bones w/Burgandy Mushrooms

Came across several recipes in the Taste of Home magazine I borrowed from the library, which sounded totally tempting.  Thought I'd share them here.  I never share anything I haven't made or plan to make so if you do try any of these be sure to come back here and leave your feedback.

Garlic-Rubbed T-Bones with Burgandy Mushrooms

T-bone steak is a fairly tender cut, so all you need to do is punch up the flavor with a savory rub.

12 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
4 beef T-bone steaks (3/4" thick and 12 oz. each)
1/2 C butter, cubed
1 lb. baby portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
1/2 C Burgundy wine OR reduced-sodium beef broth

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, oil and salt; rub over both sides of steaks.  Grill steaks, covered, over medium heat, or boil 4 inches from the heat for 4-7 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare,  a thermometer should read 145 degrees, medium, 160 degrees, well-done, 170 degrees).

Meanwhile, in a  large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until almost tender.  Stir in wine; bring to a boil.  Cook until liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. 

Serve over steaks. 
Yieldds 4 servings

Monday, July 9, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

I'll admit I haven't tried this one, but found it in April's "All You" magazine and thought these sounded like a good snack to make for our grandchildren.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 C sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C creamy OR crunchy (I'd definitely opt for the crunchy!) peanut butter
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C strawberry OR your favorite flavor preserves
2/3 C salted peanuts
2/3 C peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour a 9" x 13" baking pan.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Lower speed; add egg, vanilla and peanut butter; beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.  On low speed, slowly add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Set aside 1/2 cup of the dough.

Using your fingertips, press remaining dough into an even layer in pan.  Spread preserves over dough.  Crumble reserved 1/2 cup dough over preserves.  Sprinkle with peanuts and peanut butter chips. 

Bake until golden and bubbly, about 45 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack and cut into bars.

Makes 24 bars

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Coconut-Pecan Coffee Cake

Yes, I still have FALL on my mind......with Fall comes pecans, pumpkins and usually, MUCH cooler weather! 
Who doesn't love a good coffee cake?!  This one has a nice level of coconut flavor from the pudding mix. 

Coconut-Pecan Coffee Cake

1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz.) yellow cake mix
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) instant coconut cream pudding mix
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1/2 C chopped pecans
1/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


1 C confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk
12 tsp. vanilla extract

Prepare cake mix batter according to package directions, adding pudding mix and vanilla; set aside.  combine the pecans, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Spread half the cake batter into a greased 13" x 9" baking pan.  Sprinkle with half of filling.  Top with remaining batter and filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for 34-38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  Drizzle over warm coffee cake.

Serves 15

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pecan Bars

These triple digit temperatures and incessant drought have me longing for Fall.  Tuck this little recipe away for later.
~Sending cool breezes and blessings your way!

Pecan Bars

3/4 C butter, softened
3/4 C packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz.) butter pecan cake mix
2 1/2 C quick-cooking oats


1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 C milk chocolate chips
1 C butterscotch chips
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 C chopped pecans

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy in a large bowl.  Add eggs, on at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Add cake mix just until blended.  Stir in oats.  Press 3 cups onto the bottom of a greased 13" x 9" baking pan.

Combine milk and chips in a large microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2 minutes;stir.  Cook 1 to 2 1/2 minutes longer or until chips are melted, stirring every 30 seconds.  Stir in butter until melted, add vanilla.  Stir in pecans. Spread over crust.

Crumble remaining oat mixture; sprinkle over top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cut into bars.  Store in an airtight container.

Makes 24 servings

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Loaded Breakfast Potatoes

I love loaded potatoes in restaurants, so have modified them to make at home.  Use the microwave for the potatoes to save you about 10 minutes.  I also use thin-skinned red potatoes instead of russets to eliminate peeling time.

Loaded Breakfast Potatoes

1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, cubed
1/4 lb. bacon strips, chopped
1/4 C cubed fully cooked ham
1/4 C chopped green bell pepper
**I also add about 1/8 C chopped onion---optional)
1 C (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Sour cream (optional)
2 green onion, chopped (optional)

Place potatoes in a microwave-safe dish and cover with water.  cover and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes or until tender.  Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon.  Drain potatoes; saute in bacon drippings until lightly browned.  Add the ham, cheese, salt, pepper and bacon.  Cook and stir over medium, heat until cheese is melted. 
Serve with sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion if desired.

Serves 6

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This is NOT an answer.......

Indulge me for a few minutes, won't you?  I'm incensed. Again. 

A few weeks ago, while dropping off reading material at the library, I noticed a large painted structure of a person in walking motion directly at the entrance to the building.  "What in the world?", I thought.  As we drove off, I saw another one placed on some corner.  I didn't pay it much attention until I began to see more and more of these while going through my daily business throughout town.

Our local newpaper recently devoted a two page spread about "The Walking Man" and someone's brilliant concept of a "Walking Man Tour".  Seriously!?  I scanned the lengthy article which included several peoples' reactions after having taken part in this activity.  Apparently individuals are given a "passport" which is stamped when one stops at each location where one of these ridiculous statues "lives".

Call me clueless, but I still don't quite grasp WHY anyone would care to have actual proof that they took this tour through the lovely city of Anderson, Indiana.  I mean, in my perspective, this, like many other small towns across the United States has suffered terribly through the current economic recession.  If you don't live here, I think it highly unlikely that this would be anyone's destination spot.  If you're visiting relatives or friends, there are more interesting things to do with one's free time than zipping around viewing these statues. 

Anderson has a NICE library, don't get me wrong.  I'm certain most of the places that the "Walking Man" is highlighting are worth checking out, but I see these statues as a GREAT waste of money.  At first I assumed the city had paid some artist to design/construct these, but the newspaper stated that these were *sponsored* by groups or individuals.  Frankly, I don't care WHO is putting the money into these ~ this city, again like so many others, could put those dollars to better use.

I shudder to think how much just ONE of the statues costs to build and paint.  I also shudder when I drive in any direction and see homes with boarded up windows and grass approaching 2 feet tall.  The one mall we have is struggling to stay open, having recently lost Sears as one of their major anchor stores.  Many, many other businesses have closed up and what is typically left behind are run down buildings and slabs of concrete parking lots. 

In order for this or any other struggling city to prosper again we need to clean up what we already have!  I wonder how many weed-filled vacant residential lots could have been mowed with that money.  How many empty factories or other commercial buildings could have been demolished with those funds?  It breaks my heart to know how far churches and shelters who assist those in need could have stretched those dollars.

Beautifying what we have and lending a  hand UP to those who are financially strapped would do more for prosperity than admiring a concrete structure.  As long as the majority are content to turn a blind eye and only concern themselves with what is theirs, we can't expect to turn things around.  I have heard some good ideas lately, especially from our younger generation, and I can only pray that more people get on the bandwagon. 

Look up guerilla gardening sometime---I absolutely love the concept!  Good old-fashioned bartering is being discussed and maybe could become our new currency and I also can't think of anything negative about moving in that direction.  I think a good part of our downfall in this country is the fact that we are such a money motivated society.  Perhaps it's time to take a walk and start thinking outside the box.....

Here's what's running through MY time you go for a walk at your local park, bring along a sack and fill it with the garbage you see along your path.  If there is a vacant house down your street with an unmowed lawn, how about using YOUR lawnmower and YOUR gas one time a month to tend to it.  I bet everyone on your street will appreciate it and who knows, maybe you'll start a trend and others will begin to do the same.  These are just two super easy ways to help make our neighborhoods and cities more appealing and that can ONLY be a good thing.  We have a "day of caring", but one day a year obviously can't make the impact we need to attract prospective new businesses to our cities. We must develop a mindset of caring EVERY day for we are all one.