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!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Korean Grilled Steak

I am half Thai and my husband Roger is half Korean.  I love to cook fragrant and spicy Thai food and I am really enjoying learning about and cooking Korean Cuisine - my taste buds also get a break from all that spice!! 

I have found that the only way I like Korean food is when it is made from scratch - those little packets you can purchase at the oriental supermarket just don't cut it.  Stay away - far, far, far away from those things!  The fresh ingredients make all the difference.  I love the sweet and savory combo of many of the marinades I've learned to make, especially when the meat is grilled.


2 lbs Top Sirloin Steak
1/2 cup soy sauce
5 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 green onions, sliced
5 tbsp mirin (sweet Japanese wine)

  1. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, shallots, garlic, 1 sliced green onion, and mirin
  2. Add meat, and stir to coat
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours
  4. Sear meat on grill over direct, high heat, about 1-2 min per side - depending on thickness of meat
  5. Move to indirect heat and cook to your liking (I prefer medium rare)
  6. Baste the meat with the leftover marinade throughout cooking
  7. Sprinkle the remaining green onion over meat
Thinly slice the meat against the grain and serve over steamed rice and a side of vegetables. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

My middle son Elijah can't stand anything chocolate.  He has refused to eat chocolate since he was a baby - so much so that when given chocolate milk he would spit it out, and then look at you as if you've committed a major crime.  I'm not sure where he gets this from - everyone else in the family LOVES chocolate.  Maybe he was switched at birth?  Just kidding.  Since our other sons were out for the weekend I decided to make Elijah one of his favorite cookies - white chocolate chip.  He loves these - and ate almost ALL of them.  I use the basic Toll House recipe and substitute the brown chips for white.

I've also been working on my food photography.  I find the art of food photography fascinating.  I didn't realize how much prep work goes into getting that perfect shot.  I have found that my pictures come out looking the best with natural sunlight.  I had to take about 16 shots before I got the two pictured below.  Enjoy!


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 bag fine quality white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  5. Gradually beat in flour mixture
  6. Stir in white chocolate chips
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto ungreased baking sheet
  8. Bake 9-11 min, or until golden brown
  9. Cool on baking sheets for at least 2 min before transferring them to cooling rack
  10. Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Korean Grilled Chicken Breast

This is one of the family's favorite marinades.  It is inspired by a Kalbi (Korean BBQ) marinade and goes best with steamed Jasmine Rice.  The grilled chicken will have a light, sweet, and savory flavor.  I'll be using the leftovers for a salad tomorrow.  Let me know how yours turns out!


4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mirin (rice wine)
1 small onion, finely grated
4 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced (set aside 1/4 for garnish)

  1. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch thick strips, set aside
  2. Combine all other ingredients into bowl, mix well
  3. Place chicken and marinade in gallon sized Ziploc bag
  4. Marinade overnight
  5. Remove chicken from bag, set aside
  6. Place marinade in saucepan and bring to boil (baste chicken with cooked marinade while on grill)
  7. Sear both sides of chicken breast on direct heat, approximately 1 min per side
  8. Move chicken to indirect heat and close grill
  9. The chicken cooks fast, about 5-10 min (watch closely to avoid overcooking)
  10. Pour remaining cooked marinade over grilled chicken (if desired)
  11. Sprinkle with green onions and serve with rice

Jasmine Delights

Roger and I were at the oriental supermarket stocking up on our usual items (Thai soy sauce, fish sauce, etc.).  We happened to stumble upon some really exotic flavorings and extracts.  Lined up neatly on the top shelf  were little glass bottles of jasmine, pandan, coconut, etc.  I thought to myself - what could I do with jasmine?  Many things came to mind - cookies, jasmine butter cream frosting, cake, etc.  I decided on cookies.  Jasmine, almond, and white chocolate chips.  The kitchen smelled like a mix of flowers and vanilla while they were baking - it was interesting, unique and comforting all at the same time.  Roger just inhaled one with his morning coffee.  It's a winner!


1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp jasmine extract (can be found at your local oriental supermarket)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag fine quality white chocolate chips
1 cup sliced almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add vanilla and jasmine extracts and eggs (one at a time), beat well
  4. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt - 1 cup at a time
  5. Stir in chips and almonds
  6. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Filipino Chicken Adobo

I am an Air Force Brat.  I have had the opportunity to experience many cultures and live in different places.  I have to say that the time we spent at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines were some of the best years of my life.  My 7th grade Philippine Culture Teacher made this for us in class towards the end of the school year.  It is one of my favorite dishes, and easy to make.  This dish reminds me of my home away from home.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Chicken Legs and Thighs (or half and half chicken and pork mix)
1 head garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup vinegar
2 cups of water
1 tsp paprika
5 bay leaves
4 tbsp of cooking oil or olive oil
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp water
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large sauce pan or wok, heat 2 tbsp of oil and sauté the minced garlic and onions.
  2. Add the chicken (and pork) to pan. Add 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, vinegar, paprika and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or when meat is tender.
  3. Remove the chicken (and pork) from the sauce pan and in another pan, heat cooking oil and brown the pork and chicken for a few minutes.
  4. Mix the browned Chicken (and pork) back into sauce pan or wok, add cornstarch dissolved in water to thicken.
  5. Add salt and/or pepper if desired
  6. Bring to a boil then simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Serve hot with the adobo gravy and rice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Tuesday nights are usually Taco Tuesdays - we opted for something a little different.  Bacon Wrapped Chicken with a Spicy Teriyaki Honey Glaze. 


Boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in 1 inch thick strips
Center cut bacon
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  1. Heat oven to 375F
  2. Wrap bacon around chicken breast strips
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Place bacon wrapped chicken on large cookie sheet 1/2 inch apart
  5. Bake for approximately 35-45 min (depending on thickness of bacon and chicken)
  6. In saucepan combine glaze ingredients and bring to boil, remove from heat
  7. In the last 5 min of cooking brush chicken with glaze
  8. Cook for additional 5 min
I served this with a cabbage, broccoli, and carrot salad - topped with Asian Sesame dressing and crispy Chow Mein Noodles.

I'm off to help my eldest son with his Typhoid Fever Project (fun huh?)- so let me know what you think! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Night Chops

It's Monday and I had to figure out what I was going to do with the pork chops I took out of the freezer last night.  When I got home from work I realized that I was out of Adobo seasoning - and did not want to go to the grocery store.  So here's what I made - and it was household approved:


5 pork chops, with bone
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 large onion
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp chopped chives
4 tbsp olive oil

  1. Sprinkle chops with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried rosemary, both sides
  2. Heat olive oil in frying pan on medium-high heat
  3. Pan fry chops until liquids run clear, turning chops half way through cooking (about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness of chops)
  4. Remove chops and place on plate, keep warm
  5. Add chicken broth, more salt and pepper and 3/4 of chives to pan and bring to boil
  6. Slice onions and add to pan, sautee until onions are softened
  7. Pour onions and sauce over chops
After a long Monday at work - this was a really fast and easy recipe to make.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Breast

Roger and I purchased our first charcoal grill together about three weeks ago.  This is really exciting for us to share with you because we've used our grill about a half-dozen times.  Two bags of charcoal, 32 ounces of lighter fluid, and 5 pounds of burnt or undercooked meat later - we finally got it right!  We have come to realize through our smoke-filled trials and errors that it is best to keep it simple when it comes to grilling.  I present to you our FIRST grilling masterpiece:

4 split chicken breasts, with skin
2 tbsp powdered garlic
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp peanut oil, or any oil of your choosing

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy soy sauce, add more if desired
1 more tbsp powdered garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary

  1. Sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and salt.  Generously brush with peanut oil on both sides, set aside to begin glaze
  2. Combine all glaze ingredients in sauce pan and cook over medium heat on stove, approximately 15-20 minutes
  3. Sear chicken breasts on high-heat grill over direct heat, 2 minutes per side (please do not skip this step, it keeps the chicken nice and juicy)
  4. Once seared move chicken to indirect heat and close grill
  5. Turn chicken every 10 minutes, 4 -5 times (depending on size of breasts)
  6. Brush glaze over both sides of breasts and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes
We plated the chicken and it looked great (much like our past failures).  We both looked at each other, trying to hold back our excitement for fear that we would once again be disappointed.  We brought the chicken into the kitchen, set it on the counter and plated up.  Roger grabbed a knife and delicately cut through the first breast while I held my breath.  It was like watching a movie in slow motion - his fork being brought to his lips... as he began to chew he closed his eyes and said, "BABY!  You have to try this!"  I was paralyzed (just kidding) - I dug in and we didn't speak for at least 3 minutes.  It was amazing.  It was so good that we ate dinner standing at the kitchen counter, staring at each other.  We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.