Sweet Leprachaun-tini

We’ve had a lot going on today! All sorts of adult chores–oil changes, furniture shopping and a fund raising chili cook off! I kept forgetting that it’s St. Patty’s Day!

We got home from the fundraiser and Levi started making a drink and asking what I wanted. Suddenly I remembered the holiday! What could we make that’s green with what we have on hand? Well as luck would have it part of adulting is having a well stocked liquor cabinet 😉

And of course we had some Midori! Perfect for a green martini! This one is pretty sweet, but you could definitely add some lime juice or sour mix to cut through that sweetness.

Recipe:

  • 2 oz Limoncello
  • 1 oz Midori
  • 2 oz White Rum
  • 1/2 oz Fresca

Add liquors to a shaker with ice and shake well. Pour into martini glass and add Fresca and enjoy!

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Chocolate Strawberry Cupcake

Is it any secret that I LOVE cupcakes?!?! Once I figured out the secret to doctoring a box of cake mix my life had officially changed! Learning how to make the batter and figuring out different fillings and learning how to make buttercream and pipe frosting all took me some time to figure out. But now I feel like I can whip together a batch of cupcakes in no time!!

Spring is coming and nothing says warm weather quite like fresh berries! Whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around you will start to see some really yummy strawberries in the grocery store. They are perfect for dipping in chocolate but why settle for that boringness when you can puree them into a delicious buttercream frosting on top of light, moist and fluffy cupcake chock full of creamy chocolate filling?!?! I’m seriously drooling just thinking about these treats.

I made them for my new team at work who haven’t gotten to enjoy the real perk of being on my team! Fresh baked goods galore! They loved these…..I was surprised any of them made it home.

Sorry for the subpar picture….I am seriously missing my little studio right now! Soooooooon!

All right let’s get this party started!

Makes 24

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 Box Devils Food Cake Mix
  • 1 Package Hersheys Instant Chocolate Pudding
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Melted Butter
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 6 oz Mini Chocolate Chips

Filling:

  • 3 oz Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
  • 8 Tbsp Salted Butter

Frosting:

  • 1 Cup Salted Butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 6 oz White Chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4-1/3 cup Strawberry Puree (cut the tops off 8-10 strawberries and puree in a food blender)
  • 2-3 Cups Powdered Sugar

Make the filling first. In a small sauce pan melt the butter and chocolate over medium heat. As soon as all the chocolate has melted remove from heat. Mix well and let chill in the fridge while you prepare the cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the cupcakes add the cake mix and pudding into a stand mixer and mix on low. Add butter and milk. Mix well. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix well for 2 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chocolate chips. It’s very important to make sure that the sides of the bowl are scraped down because if the batter isn’t evenly mixed your cupcakes will have inconsistent texture and bake.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before filling and frosting.

Remove the filling from the fridge and scrape it out into a medium mixing bowl. Use an electric hand mixer to beat it for about 2 minutes until it has become light and creamy. Use a piping bag and filling tip to fill the cupcakes with the chocolate mixture.

To make the frosting:

In a medium bowl beat the butter and salt with a hand mixer until it lightens in color and becomes light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, mix well. Slowly beat in the melted white chocolate. Add 1/4 cup strawberry puree. Slowly add 1 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and beat well for 3-4 minutes until it’s light and fluffy. Add more puree and sugar to taste. You will want the frosting to be stiff enough to hold it’s shape.

I used a Wilton 1M tip and large piping bag to pipe roses onto each cupcake.

Ice Cream with Scotch and Coffee

We were having dinner with my parents, sister and nephew tonight. I just love having this family time. We only get together a few times a year and it’s usually only once a year when every single one of us gets together. So I really cherish these moments. When I’m in the kitchen pulling the last details together and Levi is helping with whatever I need. Mom is fussing over whatever is bugging her in that moment. Dad is trying to take professional photographs of the baby while he eats leftover Mac and cheese. The dogs are waiting ever hopeful for a dropped morsel. My sister is just trying to keep the kid alive and happy. I just look around and I am so grateful for these moments.

For dessert my mom decided to bring over some vanilla ice cream and of course my dad brought over the good Scotch. So after a wonderful dinner of French dip subs and potato salad we were hanging out and my mom went to get a bowl of ice cream and my dad, Levi and myself were pouring a bit of apres dinner scotch. My parents can’t quite remember when or where they heard about this, but the conversation turned to a dessert they read about and had to try: Ice cream with scotch and topped with coffee grounds. That’s right. Coffee grounds.

Sounds completely terrible right?!?! That’s what I thought, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided that it sounded so terrible I just to try it.

And now this one of my favorite desserts and we will be indulging on the regs. The smooth scotch with a creamy ice cream tastes so indulgent and the coffee grounds add a totally new layer of flavor that cuts through the sweetness. The grounds soften up a little bit so your aren’t just chewing on grainy ice cream.

Ready for this super complicated set up? Here we go:

Ingredients:

  • 3 scoops French Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1 tsp Coffee grounds ( we used Folgers Vanilla Blend)
  • 2 oz Scotch (we used Johnny Walker Black Label

Add your scoops into your favorite bowl, sprinkle coffee grounds on top and pour scotch around the edges.

I swear if you give this a try you will not regret it!

Quick and Easy Orange Chicken

On our first trip to the grocery store in months we stumbled upon this little bottle of heaven sauce! This whole moving process has been intense. We basically haven’t cooked for ourselves since October! I can’t even tell you how sick and tired to death I am of fast food. How do my pants even fit at this point?!? Between packing, cleaning, madness, passive aggressive tension, moving, living room camp outs,painting, new carpets and finally moving furniture into rooms I just haven’t even been able to think about cooking! The last few weeks I’ve been looking for inspiration for a new post, and I finally found it!

This yummy dinner is done in under 30 minutes and tastes amazing! The chicken is lightly crisped and the rice has been seasoned. The Panda Express sauce is tangy and bright and just plain delicious.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 Cup Minute Rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp each Garlic and onion powder and 1 tsp Parsley flakes.
  • Panda Express Orange Sauce, we used about 1/3 of the bottle but I am not going to tell you how to live your life.

In a large ziploc bag or Tupperware add the flour and spices and chicken. Seal it and shake for a minute until your Chicken is fully coated.

In a skillet add about 1-2 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 360 degrees. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer (we had to do 3 batches) and fry on each side for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Longer if your pieces are bigger.

Add chicken and sauce in a bowl and toss to coat.

Serve on top of seasoned rice.

Happy eating!

Bacon Pesto Apple Brie Hors D’œuvre

This simple dish is a sure fire crowd pleaser! You get a nice herby flavor from the pesto, the awesome bacon flavor, a bright kick of apple and the creamy Brie cheese! I wish I had bought a whole wheel instead of just a wedge. That way you can get even more melty cheesy goodness.

We made a different version of this before and we learned that if you are melting Brie slices it’s better to remove the rind.

I think this would make an excellent dish for a New Years get together! I made them for a starter to Christmas dinner and they sure did disappear fast! We paired them with champagne and it was most excellent!

Want a great idea for dinner? Try some French Onion Soup!

Feeds 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 Baguette, sliced on the bias (on a slight angle)
  • 1 wedge to 1 wheel Triple Cream Brie- remove the rind
  • 4 slices Bacon, fried and chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 Cup Garlic and Basil Pesto
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple

Preheat oven to 375.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Lay out your baguette slices. In a small bowl mix the pesto and chopped bacon together and spoon over the bread. Add 1-2 slices of Brie on top.

Bake for 5 minutes until your cheese is nice and melted.

While they are baking slice your apple with a mandolin on a middle or thick setting. Place the apple slices on top of the baked bread slices. Serve on a cheese board or platter with a side of grapes. Happy New Years everyone!!!

Apple Rosemary Roasted Turkey

If you are into kitchen gadgets you would love a turkey cannon! No more waking up before dawn to get the turkey prepped and roasted for your big holiday meal. I always remember my mom and dad getting very stressed out about getting the turkey in the oven on time. And then making sure they check on it again and again. And then Levi used to host a big Friendsgiving, he was quite fond of the turkey in a bag method. It was convenient that’s for sure.

But if you want your turkey to cook quickly, be super moist, and jam packed full of flavor then you have to try a turkey cannon! I make my own flavored broth to put in the metal tube and then when you put the turkey in the oven the tube helps cook the turkey from the inside out as well as infusing the flavor of your broth into the meat. Yum!

We did this for Thanksgiving last year and I have no idea why I never posted it. I was probably too busy chomping down on all that yummy turkey! We made it again this weekend so we could have some of our own turkey leftovers.

Ingredients:

Broth:

  • 3 Cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 slices of Granny Smith Apple
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Shallot, quartered
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs  fresh Rosemary

Turkey:

  • 12 lb Turkey, completely thawed
  • 1 quarter of an Onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 Slices Granny Apple
  • 1 Shallot, quartered
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 handful fresh Italian Parsley
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, softened

First make the broth:

In a medium saucepan add all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turkey Time:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove from the packaging, and make sure you remove all the gizzards and icky stuff. Pat the outside of the turkey dry. Stuff the inside of the turkey with the apples, onions, shallot, parsley and rosemary.

Place your turkey cannon in a deep roasting pan. Pour your broth into the cannon until it’s up to the first hole. Place the turkey on the cannon. Secure the legs with cooking twine, in a pinch you can reuse the plastic the legs come secured with.

Mince the garlic and mix in with 2 tbsp softened butter. Cut 1 slit in the skin above each breast. Use your hand to spread the butter and garlic mixture in between the skin and breast. Spread the rest of the butter over the top of the skin all over the bird.

Bake the bird until it’s internal temperature in 165 degrees. It will take about 90 minutes depending on the oven. I highly suggest getting a wireless meat thermometer, it will change your life. Otherwise, check your temp after the first 60 minutes and then about 15-20 minute intervals until you’ve reached the desired temp.

 

Remove turkey from oven, cover in aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.

 

Please please please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I also want to make a video of this process. But that will have to wait until after the big move.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!! I am so thankful for all of you who follow and support me in all my crazy cooking adventures….love you all!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells

This one is a serious throwback! My sister made a version of these many many years ago, it was one of our very first Pintrest ventures. I thought they were delicious! I’ve been wanting to recreate them for years, but Levi has always been very skeptical. So this week I decided that it’s better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. I mean how could he not like them….chicken-good, pasta- good, basil and garlic- good, cheese- good and I decided that I was going to add a little something extra, Alfredo sauce-gooooooood!

 

And guess what…..of he loved it! This is kind of like a zesty chicken alfredo. I mean who wouldn’t love it? The original recipe doesn’t call for any sauce so the shells end up a little dry. I poured some homemade alfredo into the bottom of the pan and the result was amazing!

Tip- I call for 25 pasta shells because I like to leave myself a little room for error.

Ingredients:

  • 25 Pasta Shells, cooked for a few minutes below package directions. You will want them very al dente. Drain and let cool.
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 Cup Basil Leaves
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (optional- 1/4 cup prepared pesto)
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream or Half n Half
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 2 Cups Kraft Italian Blend Cheese

In a medium skillet heat up 2 tbsp cooking oil over a medium heat. Add onions and saute until they are soft. Add ground chicken, cook until slightly browned. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese until fully melted.

In a small food processor add the basil, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil. Chop until very fine. Mix in with the chicken. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and add garlic. Cook until butter turns a dark yellow. Whisk in flour, cook for an additional minute. Add cream 1/2 cup at a time constantly whisking. Add parmesan.  Reduce heat to low, let simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

In an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish pour 3/4 of the alfredo sauce. Spoon the chicken mixture into the shells and place in the alfredo. Drizzle the rest of the sauce over the top and top with cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. If you want the cheese to brown turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Riches to Rags recipe click here for link. 

Green Chile & Beef Tamale Pie


One of Levi’s favorite dishes when we go to Mexican restaurants is a tamale. I’ve never actually had one myself, but I wanted to try making something similar for him. I certainly do not have the skills or the know how to make an actual tamale wrapped in corn husk. I ran across a few different recipes online that seemed pretty standard so I figured I could make some personal adjustments and it would work out. And boy was I right!! This pie was a little spicy and a little sweet, very cheesy with a nice crumbly texture. 


Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • 1/3 Cup Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn
  • 7 oz Green Chiles, chopped and your desired level of heat
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 tsp Chile Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Cup Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheese, I used Tillamook 2 Cheese Mexican Blend
  • Toppings: Sliced Green Onion, Cliantro, Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl whisk together the corn bread mix, milk, egg, green chile’s and corn. In a large cast iron pan or 9×13 baking dish, spray with cooking spray and fill with the corn bread mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cornbread is cooking, in a medium skillet cook the beef with the chili powder and cumin. Once the meat has browned, drain any excess fat.

Remove the cornbread from the oven and poke all over with a fork, pour green chile enchilada sauce evenly over the top. Add the beef and top with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and return to oven for 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil, turn on the broiler and broiler for about 2 minutes to brown the cheese.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Add desired toppings and enjoy!!

Adapted from 2 Teaspoons recipe here. 

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Stuffed Pork Loin


One of the best appetizers you can order is a skillet of warm, creamy spinach and artichoke dip. With a side of crusty bread or pita chips you just can’t go wrong! It’s creamy, cheesy and slightly tangy….an all around crowd pleaser!


Levi saw a picture of a stuffed pork Loin just randomly on something and made his signature “ooooooooh” noise that immediately adds that dish into my meal plan. We already had the Loin at home but we needed the string to truss (secure roasts or birds with string) the roast up. That ended up being quite the adventure that took us all over Walmart several times and ended up at Home Depot. We read that you want the string to be 100% natural because if there are any synthetics they might melt into your food. Yuck!

Once we got home we spent hours finishing up the editing our first how to video. You can now follow us on YouTube on our Squishy Cupcakes channel. After that long and slightly frustrating process I was a little worried that this meal would up in the same long and frustrating process. Luckily for me it ended up being super easy!!!! Prepping the roast and the dip only took about 10 minutes and then into the oven with the roast and onto the couch drinks in hand for us! 


Ingredients:

  • 2 lb Pork Loin
  • 6 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup Spinach, chopped
  • 4 oz Artichoke Hearts, chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning

Preheat oven to 375.

On a large cutting board filet the pork Loin. Do this by taking a long sharp knife and make a cut downwards about 1/2 inch in from the side. Cut down until you have 1/2 inch left at the bottom. Flatten the flap you just cut and run your knife horizontally into the Loin and keep making cuts until you have a flat piece of pork. Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap and a hand towel. Use a meat mallet and pound the pork starting in the middle and working your way out until you have an even thickness.

In a medium bowl using a mixing spoon combine the cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Add the onions, garlic, cheeses, spinach and artichoke hearts. Stir until well combined.

Season the back side of the filleted Loin with the steak seasoning. Flip over and spread the dip evenly leaving about 1/2 inch on all sides. Roll up the loin along the long side for faster cooking. If a little filling comes out sides just wipe it off.

Using 100% white cotton twine truss up the Loin seam side up  by tieing it really tightly on each end and twice in the middle. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with tin foil and place the Loin on the rack. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat is 165 degrees.

Mixed Berry Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz blue raspberry vodka
  • 1 oz white rum
  • Mixed berry juice 
  • Fresca
  • Fresh raspberries

After a delightful canyon drive in the jeep and a small nature hike, we got home and started making dinner and I just whipped this together. It’s really tasty!

I added the liquors and ice first, then filled about 3/4 of the way up the glass with that mixed berry juice. Top it off with Fresca and some fresh raspberries! Enjoy 🙂