Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcakes

Peanut butter and chocolate - is there a better combination?  The frosting is rich with chocolate and peanut butter gooeyness and yumminess.  You'll want to make sure you have a tall glass of ice cold milk to go with these little guys. 

I watched our eldest son Donald devour one in two bites.  I bet you could do it in one.   


For Cake:
1 cup hot brewed coffee
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
1/2 cup half and half (you may use whole milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 cup packed, dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 bag Reese's peanut butter chips

  1. Preheat oven 350F and line muffin tin with cupcake liners
  2. Whisk together brewed coffe and cocoa until smooth, then add milk and vanilla
  3. In another bowl sift flour, baking soda, and salt
  4. Beat butter and sugars in another bowl until light (pale) and fluffy
  5. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition
  6. Alternate mixing in the flour and cocoa mixture, 3 times (begin and end with flour mixture - batter may look slightly curdled)
  7. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean
For Frosting:
2 sticks butter
1 cup reduced-fat peanut butter (you may use regular)
3 cups powdered suger (or more to reach desired consistency)
1/2 cup unsweetend cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp half and half (or milk)

  1. Beat butter and peanut butter until smooth
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beat until smooth
  3. Add half and half, beat until smooth
  4. Add more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached
Wait (if you can) until cupcakes are cooled before frosting.  Decorate with peanut butter chips.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stir-fried Mushrooms and Pork

So what do you do with 3 country-style pork ribs?  You have to get creative.  I threw this together not knowing how it would turn out - and it came out family approved.  Another easy Monday night dish!


3-4 lbs country style ribs, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
10 extra-large white mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 medium red onion, sliced
1/2 cup black soy sauce
5 - 6 tbsp regular soy sauce
3 - 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 - 1 cup water
1 sliced green onion, for garnish
Salt and pepper

  1. Place pork in gallon-sized Ziploc bag and pound with mallet
  2. Heat wok on high.  Add sesame oil and saute garlic and onion until tender
  3. Add pork, toss until cooked through
  4. Add black soy sauce and mushrooms, toss for few minutes
  5. Add regular soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste
  6. Add water 1/4 cup at a time, taste after each addition
  7. Saute for additional 7-10 minutes
Served over steamed Jasmine rice and enjoy!

Pad Thai

One of my favorite Thai dishes is Pad Thai.  The combination of spices and fresh flavors will cause you to become addicted to this dish.  You can make it with anything from chicken, beef, tofu, to seafood.  My favorite is chicken.

This was Roger’s first time eating Pad Thai.  He is not exactly the biggest fan of noodles and didn’t like it very much – which is surprising to me because The Boys couldn’t get enough of it.  Roger was a good sport and ate most of it.  I’ll have to make him something extra special this weekend.  Something Korean…


½ lime
1 egg
4 tsp fish sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground dried chili
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tamarind
½ package Thai rice noodles (I prefer the thin noodles)
3 tbsp oil
1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces (you can use beef, seafood, etc.)
2 green onions, sliced (scallions)
1 cup bean sprouts
½ cup crushed, dry roasted peanuts

  1. Soak noodles in warm (almost hot) water while preparing other ingredients.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 minced garlic clove on high heat in wok.
  3. Add chicken and fry until cooked, set aside.
  4. Add remaining oil, shallots, and garlic to wok, sauté until lightly browned.
  5. Drain noodles and add to wok.
  6. Stir quickly to keep ingredients from sticking.
  7. Add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, and chili pepper.  Continuously toss and keep wok on high heat.  If your wok is not hot enough you will see a lot of liquid at the bottom of the pan.  If this happens, turn up the heat.
  8. Make room for the egg by pushing the noodles to the sides of the wok, crack the egg and scramble it until it is almost cooked.
  9. Fold the egg into the noodles; add the cooked chicken, bean sprouts and green onions.
  10. Toss a few more times - the noodles should be soft and tangled.
  11. Pour onto serving plate and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.  Serve noodles hot with slices of lime and a sprinkling of raw bean sprouts on top.
It is traditional to have extra condiments at a Thai table.  The additional condiments could include, sugar, chili pepper, vinegar, and fish sauce.   This allows your guests to add any extras that they really enjoy.  I like to add extra chili pepper to my Pad Thai – extra spicy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sweet 16 Chocolate Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for my youngest son's sister.  She turns 16 on Tuesday.  Do you remember 16?  Do you even WANT to remember?  Well, it's been a long while - uhhheemmm, too long.  Sweet 16 birthday cupcakes, yummy, yummy, yummy - I hope she doesn't go into a chocolatey, chocolate comatose.  Happy Birthday Gia!


For cake (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe):
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 sticks salted butter, softened
2 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
1 tbsp + 1 tsp pure vanila extract
1 cup sour cream, room temp
1 batch Martha Stewart Chocolate Frosting
1 batch chocolate filling
2 oz shaved white chocolate for garnish

  1. Preheat oven 350F, line standard cupcake tin with paper liners
  2. Whisk cocoa and hot water until smooth
  3. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  4. Melt butter with sugar in saucepan over medium low, stirring to combine.  Remove from heat, and pour into mixing bowl
  5. Beat mixture on medum-low speed until mixture cools
  6. Add eggs,one at a time, scrape down sides when necessary.  Add vanilla, cocoa mixture an beat until combined
  7. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with sour cream, and beating until just combined afte each addition
  8. Bake 18-20 min, cool before filling and frosting
For Martha Stewart Chocolate Frosting:
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 stick butter, softened
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3/4 cup sour cream

  1. Sift together sugar, cocoa, and salt
  2. Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth
  3. Gradually add sugar and cocoa mixture, beat until combined
  4. Pour in chocolate in a slow and steady stream
  5. Add sour cream and beat well
For Chocolate Filling:
8 oz fine quality semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
1/8 cup corn syrup

  1. Place ingredients in sauce pan
  2. Stir over medium-low heat until combined
  3. cool for 5 minutes before filling cupcakes
Everyone is officially in a chocolate induced coma.  Time for a nap!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grilled Asian Chicken Wings

I had been craving Thai Cucumber Salad for about a week now.  I thought that these grilled chicken wings would go perfectly with the salad and a nice bowl of steamed Jasmine rice.  The glaze has a beautiful sweet and savory flavor that goes perfectly with the smokey flavor of grilled chicken. 

The wings were so good that when my eldest son Donald came home from being at a friend's cookout he ate a half dozen of these little guys. 


3-4 lbs chicken wings
salt and pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup black soy sauce (if you don't have any on hand you may use regular)
1/2 cup mirin (sweet Japanese wine)
1/4 cup honey

  1. In a large bowl coat the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  2. Once well seasoned, toss in oil (prevents chicken from sticking to grill grate)
  3. In saucepan mix, teriyaki sauce, black soy sauce, mirin, and honey
  4. Heat until rolling boil, remove from heat
  5. Grill seasoned chicken
  6. In the last 10 minutes of grilling chicken, brush chicken with glaze - about every 2 min
  7. Remove chicken, place in bowl, and toss with remaining glaze

Thai Cucumber Salad

This is one of my all time favorite Thai Salads.  It is light, fresh, and full of flavor.  I absolutely love to eat this salad over steamed Jasmine rice or as a nice side dish to grilled meat. 

You can adjust the amount of heat in the salad by reducing the amount of pepper you use.  I like it super spicy!!

Only the freshest ingredients will do


1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 1/2 tbsp white sugar
1-2 thinly sliced Thai red pepper (adjust to your preference)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
3/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Salt and pepper

  1. Whisk first 5 ingredients in small bowl
  2. Place cucumbers, onion, and mint in large bowl
  3. Add dressing to coat
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Friday, March 4, 2011

Banana Cake with Mango Butter Cream Frosting

Spring is right around the corner and we've been enjoying the beautiful sunshine and 78 degree weather.  I have been contemplating the perfect cupcake to welcome in the spring season for some time.  I wanted something light, fresh, and unique.  I decided on a great banana cupcake with a mango butter cream frosting.  The banana and mango flavors are perfect for each other - light, fresh, sweet, and "SPRING-Y".  Enjoy!


For Banana Cake:
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar and enough milk to fill a 3/4 cup measuring cup
1 cup ripe, mashed bananas
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line cupcake pan with paper holders
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla - set aside
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda and powder
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture
  5. Add vinegar, milk, and bananas - beat well
  6. Bake 16-18 minutes

For Mango Butter cream Frosting:
2 sticks butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup mango puree
20 oz powdered sugar (add more or use less for your desired consistency)

  1. Mix butter, cream cheese and mango puree until blended
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar, until desired consistency is reached
Once cupcakes are completely cooled, frost and enjoy!