Thursday, February 27, 2014

My favorite frostings: Vanilla buttercream, Chocolate almond, and orange "Buttercreamsicle"

Vanilla cranberry layer cake with orange buttercreamsicle frosting

How to create an award winning garnish in a few simple steps
I have been asked a few times this week for my frosting recipe. Up until now there hasn't really been a recipe at all, just a few ingredients whipped up into sweet creamy deliciousness.
I measured it today while I made it, and I realized the best part about it is, you can add a little extra milk or sugar to thicken or thin the frosting, and you don't have to get the measurements just perfect.
You will love these buttercream recipes on sugar cookies, cupcakes or any kind of dessert that warrants a sweet topping.
I hope you try them and come back again and again!
Recipe: Delicious Homemade Frosting:
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element
{Vanilla Almond buttercream}
1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature butter
1/8 teaspoon salt (yes the salt is needed to balance out all of the sweetness)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
4-5 cups powdered sugar (depending on desired thickness)
2 1/2-3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional but so delicious!)
Food coloring (optional)

Note: If you are wanting your frosting to be very white, substitute clear vanilla for dark vanilla to help keep it lighter white.
{Chocolate buttercream}

1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature butter

1/8 teaspoon salt (yes the salt is needed to balance out all of the sweetness)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
4-5 cups powdered sugar (depending on desired thickness)
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
{Orange Buttercreamsicle}

2 cubes room temperature butter
pinch of salt
2 tablspoons fresh orange juice
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Cream ingredients together until whipped into fluffy topping. You will need to let the frosting mix for 3-5 minutes. You can add more sugar to thicken it or more milk to make it a thinner frosting. In order to get frosting to hold its form (such as in the pictures shown on my cupcakes) you will need to add the full amount of powdered sugar to thicken it. Thinner frosting will still taste delicious and work fine, but will not hold its shape as well for piping.
 These frosting recipes can be frozen up to 3 weeks. Thaw at room temperature and re-whip to soften and re-cream.


For the cupcakes pictured I used vanilla buttercream, mixed dark pink and light pink in two different bowls, and piped with a star frosting tip. I used the darker pink on the outside and the lighter on the inside to create an ombre look. I added pearl sprinkles on top and we shared them with a friend.
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Olive Garden Copycat: Breadsticks and Alfredo dipping sauce

At my bridal shower many years ago, someone gave me a recipe book called "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes". I was so excited to find several of my favorite meals in the book, but one in particular stood out to me... Olive Garden Alfredo sauce.
Is it indulgent? Oh yes. Its full of heavy cream and butter with a little garlic.... translation? HEAVEN.
I also have a fun and simple breadstick recipe that tastes very similar to the olive garden breadsticks, especially with sprinkled with garlic salt and dipped in delicious Alfredo sauce.
It takes a little bit of time, so its a great one to make ahead and freeze, or save for a rainy afternoon at home. Today I had both time and the right ingredients to try them together.
I was so excited about the result, I had to share.

{Alfredo dipping/pasta sauce}
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups of heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the heavy cream, garlic powder, and pepper and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until thick.
When alfredo sauce has reached your desired thickness, add the parmesan cheese and stir in(sometimes I like to add a little corn starch to really thicken it up). Keep heated on low until ready to serve.
Pretty easy eh?? The best part is, it makes a whole pan full and you don't have to pay a spendy amount for a tiny bit in the restaurant~! You can relax on your own couch and enjoy!!
**You could also use this as a sauce to eat over linguini pasta with mini shrimp or chicken.**
{Olive Garden garlic breadsticks}
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (I use SAF)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
2 tablespoons butter melted
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic salt
Dissolve the sugar, yeast and water in a small bowl and let it become frothy. Now with mixer on low, add salt melted butter. Now add 2 cups of flour. Mix until combined and swap your mixer out for your dough hook. Add remaining cup of flour and let the dough hook pull the dough for about 8-10 minutes.
If you don't have a stand mixer THAT'S OK! Knead dough on countertop by hand for 10 minutes. You should have a very smooth elastic dough.
Place dough in a covered container for about an hour, or until the dough has puffed up almost double in size. Once risen, dump dough onto countertop and with a sharp knife cut dough into equal pieces (as many or few as you want). I made 16. They were perfect size for my kiddos to grab. Roll out pieces into a breadstick shape  and place on a greased sheet pan. Let rise another 45-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake the breadsticks for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
When you pull the breadsticks out of the oven, immediately spread with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. Serve warm with Alfredo dipping sauce.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Red potato and pepper vegetable medley

I love finding new ways to eat my vegetables and sneak spinach into dishes. For  a new side dish at dinner, I made a medley of veggies, sautéed them in olive oil and used some simple seasonings to flavor them. I was able to sneak over a cup of spinach into this side dish, and you can hardly tell because the warmth of the pan wilts the leaves down.  We thought it was delicious and I even had my 20 month old eating it! YIPEE.
**This recipe does not have specific measurements because you can make it as big or as small in amount as you want to for yourself or family. Simply use these seasonings to flavor the veggies until you get the desired taste.**
Olive oil
French fingerling potatoes or red potatoes
sweet mini peppers (red orange and yellow)
sweet onion
Salt and pepper
onion powder
garlic powder

Pour some olive oil in a large sauté pan, and heat to medium. Chop red or fingerling potatoes into bite sized chunks, and add to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add 1/2-1 sweet onion sliced, and some chopped sweet mini peppers. Sprinkle with onion and garlic powder and add more salt if needed. Cover pan and let cook for 15 minutes or so until the potatoes are tender, stirring every 5 minutes.
Once potatoes are tender, add spinach. You can add A LOT (I did about 1 1/2 cups) and you can hardly tell as it wilts down with heat. Stir for a few minutes until incorporated, remove from heat.
Add fresh parsley on top.

This recipe is not anything fancy or special, but it is a wonderful way to change up the way you eat veggies and add color, nutrition, and new flavors to your plate. I hope you try it and enjoy it!


 Want to know another great veggie recipe for roasted rosemary and olive oil vegetables? LOOK HERE
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rolled oat and buttermilk-cranberry Loaf

Hello there! I've been a little MIA this past week. I hate to admit it, but those winter blues are getting to me a little. I was doing really good until these last few days of gray and freezing temperatures hit us. I have been spending time bundled in blankets with my little ones, catching up on some organizing in the house (spring cleaning sneaking in) and having a few lunch and dinner dates with close friends who make me laugh. I had sort of lost my mojo there.
This morning the sun was out and even though its only in the 30's, feeling a few rays of sunshine on my cold nose was all I needed to find a little burst of HAPPY and get back in the kitchen.
I found a new recipe in my Betty Crocker "Big book of Bread" that I am really excited to share. I have loved using wheat flour and incorporating healthy grains into my family's daily meals.
This is a super easy and fast recipe, that is absolutely beautiful and fun to serve. It tastes delicious and your kitchen will smell wonderful.
Is there anything better than the scent of fresh warm bread wafting through your home on a cold windy winters day? I say no my friend, I think not.
I hope this recipe warms your kitchen and spirits as it did mine! 

1 cup rolled oats
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries or cherries
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (IF YOU DONT HAVE BUTTERMILK: its ok!! I didn't either. Here is a substitution. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice OR white vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup. Let sit for a moment before adding. Milk will slightly curdle)
Heat oven to 375. Spray a cooking sheet with pam. Reserve 1 tablespoon of oats for garnish.
In a mixing bowl, add oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, tarter and salt. Cut in butter using a fork until mixture looks like course crumbs. Add in dried cranberries.
Reserve 1 tablespoon buttermilk. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining buttermilk. Slowly mix into dry ingredients until moist. Knead 5-6 times on a lightly floured countertop. Form into a 7" round and place on cookie sheet. Brush with buttermilk and garnish with remaining oats.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes, and slice with a serrated knife.
 I feel like this loaf has a scone-ish quality to it. Crunchy outside, soft inside. I think its best enjoyed with butter or cinnamon honey butter on top!
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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Superbowl Snack favorites

It's Here Its Here! Super bowl Sunday!
To be honest, my favorite thing about this "Holiday"  is that I get to cook lots of goodies for my family and friends to share for the game. Shhhh! Don't tell my husband but making tasty eats on the big day is my #1 reason for loving Super Bowl Sunday!
If you are stumped on what to make for the big day, take a look at a few of our family's favorite  recipes, and enjoy these easy homemade snacks with your friends and loved ones while you cheer on your favorite team.
Who are you rooting for this year?

Mini cheesecakes with raspberry swirls
 For more recipes and ideas GO HERE
Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

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