Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes (Valentine's Day)

I love cupcakes, but they need to be good cupcakes. I don't care if they are made by scratch or from a cake mix, they just need to taste great. I came up with this recipe by accident and my neighbors can tell you this is my best one yet. It's super easy since most of it is using a mix or pre-made frosting, the only thing you need to do is make the ganache and that is super easy. Of course you can use homemade frosting if you'd like, but why not take a few shortcuts, and believe me when your friends bite into these little gems they'll never know your secret.
I've decorated these cuties for Valentine's Day and I think they would be perfect for your loved ones too.

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 container store bought chocolate frosting
heart sprinkles, bought here

Ingredients for Ganache
1 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup

Prepare and bake cupcakes according to box, cook and let cool. In the meantime make the ganache filling. 

Directions for ganache (Makes 4 cups)

Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
Beginning near the center and working outward, stir melted chocolate into cream until mixture is combined and smooth (do not overstir).
Refrigerate, stirring every 5 minutes, until frosting just barely begins to hold its shape and is slightly lighter in color. Use immediately (ganache will continue to thicken after you stop stirring). Put ganache into a frosting piping bag or a large ziplock bag. Store extra ganache in fridge for another use.

Putting them together

Take the cooled cupcakes and hollow out a hole in the middle, I used an apple corer. Eat the piece you core out. Pipe the ganache into the hole in the cupcake.  If you don't have a piping bag, a ziplock with a small hole cut in one corner works great. This cuts down on the mess, who would want to try and spoon this stuff into a cupcake?? Next we are going to frost these; take a can of store bought chocolate frosting and once again place in a piping bag, I like to use the tip that just has a large opening. (sorry I don't know which # it is) You can use any tip # or just frost these with a knife. Frost your cupcakes using a back and forth motion, sprinkle immediately with heart sprinkles. Share with your sweetheart. 
Start with a cupcake
Using an apple corer remove center of cupcake
This is what it looks like
I found this ganache in my fridge left over from another 
dessert and presto, this recipe was invented. Notice 
my fingernail mark? I had to taste it!
Place ganache into piping bag and pipe into center of cupcake
Fill it to the top. NO licking at this point
Fill all cupcakes
I love Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge frosting, place into piping bag
I like to do a zigzag design with the frosting.
Top with heart sprinkles.
Store leftovers in fridge, if there are any :)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Confetti Squares

Every cook has a couple of recipes that people are always asking them to make. This is the recipe that all the teenagers in my life love, I'm sort of known these and these.  I've made these for almost every occasion, birthdays, graduations, bbq's, school treats and bribes. I've also mailed these to college students and they travel great. This recipe is easy, quick and so yummy!!!

1 box Fruity Pebbles ( I like to buy the family size box)
1 large bag of large marshmallows
1 stick butter (yes I know, it's a lot of butter)

Melt butter and marshmallows in large pot, stirring often. Once melted take pot off heat and add fruity pebbles and stir. Pour into a 9x13 greased pan. Spread out marshmallowy goodness with your hands ( I spray mine with Pam to avoid the nasty stick factor). Cool, cut and eat!

Be prepared for these to fly off the plate!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Roast Salmon & Peppers with Caper Vinaigrette

I love salmon, it always feels like I'm eating healthy when it's on the menu. Tonight I know I'll be eating healthy because I am using this great recipe that is simple and good for you. I think my biggest mistake I make with salmon is that I overcook it. When I order it out it always tastes so good and I think that's because they are cooking it for the right amount of time. I'm getting better about not overcooking my fish and it seems to make a huge difference. The original recipe calls this to be served over 1 cup cooked long grain white rice, I'm replacing that with an arugula salad. (Olivia wasn't crazy about the arugula salad but loved the salmon and other veggies, next time I'll make her some rice)

2 small red bell peppers, quartered
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1.5 pounds of skinless salmon
1/4 flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bag arugula

Preheat oven to 400.
In a large roasting pan, toss the bell peppers, fennel, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 5 minutes. Season salmon with salt and pepper and nestle it among the vegetables. Roast until the salmon is opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the parsley, capers, vinegar and remaining oil. Mix. Drizzle over salad.

Yummy fresh food
I like how I only use one dish for the entire recipe
Ingredients for the vinaigrette dressing
Roast veggies for 5 minutes in oven
Nestle salmon in partially cooked veggies and return to oven
Plate arugula and drizzle a 1/4  dressing on top
Salmon out of the oven and ready to be plated
Beautiful colors
Ready to eat.


Serves 4
Calories 429, 18 grams fat, 6.8 grams fiber

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Valentines Day Wreath

I haven't made any crafts for quite awhile and my fingers got itchy just thinking about making something cute.  I went to Joanne's and bought 1 yard of pink, white, red and hot pink felt (this week it's $2.99 a yard), I found this tutorial here and decided to go for it. Olivia and I needed to catch up on Dirty Little Secrets and Toddlers & Tiaras and before I knew it the wreath was finished. It was super easy to make and I'm ready to cover some styrophone balls in the same cute rosettes.

Things you'll need
Styrophone wreath form (I bought a heart shaped one)
Pins, lots
Felt cut into 3 inch circles ( I bought a quilters 3 inch form to trace around)
Big glass of icy Diet Dr. Pepper (that's how I roll)

Follow the tutorial and you'll have a darling wreath in a few hours. I used some wide ribbon to make a hanger for mine.
Stuff to buy
Getting started
Half way done, you can't make a mistake with this craft
The wreath is done!
I hung it on my LOVE wall
Even from up close you can't really tell that
it's made from simple pieces of felt.


Source: Design Sponge

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas (low fat version)

This recipe is adapted from my dear friend Lori Reagan's recipe. Lori makes the best enchiladas in the world and it's one of the things I look forward to when we go home to visit. I've tried to take a lot of the fat out of this recipe, it will be easy to see where you can add regular fat products in place of the lower fat ones. I also added a can of white beans to this recipe, this adds more fiber and helps fill you up. You can use fat free cheese and fat free sour cream, but I personally don't like the way it cooks, so I choose to use low fat. ( If calories and fat didn't count I'd use regular everything and 'normal' tortillas) :)
Makes 8 enchiladas.

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I'm using smoked chicken tonight)
2 cans fat free cream of chicken soup
3 cups low fat sour cream
3 cups reduced fat mexican mix cheese
1 4.5 ounce can diced green chilies
8 6 inch whole wheat tortillas
1 can white kidney/cannelloni beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 container of salsa

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine chicken, soup, sour cream, 2 cups of cheese and can of green chilies, mix. Place 1/2 cup of filling into center of each tortilla and roll to close. Place filled tortillas in 9x13 baking dish, smother the top of enchiladas with remaining filling. Add remaining cup of shredded cheese to top and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Add in Cilantro
Add 1/2 cup of filling to each tortilla
Roll them up
Pour remaining filling on top of enchiladas, and top with remaining
cup of shredded cheese
Right out of the oven
Top with salsa and you are ready to go!


Calories 542, Fat 23g, Fiber 7.33g, Carbs 45

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lower Fat Chicken Divan

           I found this recipe last week and made it over the weekend, what a huge hit. Everyone liked it, even college son #2. I used my panini maker to quickly cook my chicken and was thrilled with the way it turned out. This casserole comes out of the oven creamy and delicious.

1-1/2 lbs broccoli (3 large heads) chopped
24 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 18 oz cooked)
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp shallots, minced (onions would work too)
4 tbsp flour
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1 cup fat free milk
2 oz dry sherry (white wine would work)
6 oz shredded reduced-fat swiss
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs ( I made my own)
cooking spray

Cooking my chicken on an indoor grill
Broccoli ready to be blanched
Toast bread first
Put toast in food processor to make bread crumbs
Blanching Broccoli
Sautéing butter, garlic and shallots
Blanched broccoli goes into casserole dish first
Add cheese sauce
Remaining sauce and I put some broccoli on top;
 top with breadcrumbs
Out of the oven and ready to eat.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Using a grill pan or Forman grill, saute chicken on medium-low heat on both sides until browned, and just about cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cooled, slice chicken into bite sized pieces.
Heat a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the butter and oil until melted and then add garlic and shallots. Sprinkle the flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in broth, milk and sherry and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in half of the swiss cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange the broccoli in a casserole dish and pour half of the sauce over the broccoli. Arrange the chicken on top and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining swiss cheese, grated parmesan and top with breadcrumbs. Spray a little oil on top.
Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1/6th • Old Points: 7 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 335.7 • Fat: 12.3 g • Protein: 34.5 g • Carb: 19.8 g • Fiber: 4.1 g  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Low Fat Peppermint Ice Cream

I bought my hubby one of these for Christmas and yesterday was the first time that I've used it. He and Olivia made ice cream two or three times over the holiday break, but I never got in on the action. I wanted to make a low fat dessert since we were splurging and having prime rib for dinner, and this ice cream really finished off the meal nicely. We served it on top of these yummy fat free brownies. (I've never been able to find a recipe that tops the taste of this boxed mix) I can't rave about this machine enough, even though their was a low amount of fat in the recipe, the ice cream came out creamy and very tasty.

2 cups fat free half and half
1 cup skim milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup peppermint baking pieces, or other type mint pieces
1 tsp peppermint extract (optional, I didn't use it)

Mix all ingredients in a blender and then pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions.

All the ingredients in the ice cream maker
Yumm, can you see the mint chips?
My father in law wanted 'just ice cream'
On top of a fat free brownie, what a lovely dessert


Friday, January 21, 2011

Diet Soda Cake

I'm trying to lighten things up around here, but I've been craving sweets so badly that I'm ready to break. I found this recipe here , and had everything in the  house to make it, so here we go! Weight Watchers came up with this recipe so here are the points. 1 cupcakes would be 2 points. 1/12th of cake 5 pts. (this is using the new WW system of points)
I like my cupcakes larger, so I made 18, and would measure mine at 4 points each.

1 dry box cake, any flavor
10 oz diet soda, any flavor
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to box directions. Spray 9x13 pan or line cupcake pan with liners.
Beat cake mix, diet soda and egg whites, pour into pan. Bake as directed on box or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Cut cake into 12 pieces. Top with fat free whipping cream if desired, or a light dusting of powdered sugar.

You'll only need the Pam if making the cake version
Pour in the soda
Mix all together
Ready for the oven
They came out of the oven looking perfect
Topped with fat free whipped topping. These cupcakes have a moist orangey taste.