Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crockpot Chili

Chili is definitely one of my favorite fall foods. I make mine in the crockpot, so it is really easy and ready to eat when we get home from work. I used to use 2 lbs of ground beef, but recently have been using 1 lb of beef and 1 lb of spicy Italian sausage to give it an extra kick. The picture below probably looks extra meaty, and that is because I only had 1 can of beans. Ooops. The chili was still great anyway.

I usually put the chili together the night before, and leave it in the crock pot bowl in the refrigerator overnight, then just put it on to cook in the morning before work. So easy!

Crockpot Chili

  • 2 pounds ground beef (or 1 pound beef + 1 pound hot Italian sausage)
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans light kidney beans
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies or jalepenos
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Brown ground beef, drain fat
  • Stir all ingredients in crock pot
  • Cook on low 10 hours

Banoffee Cupcakes

I've been following this great blog called How to Eat a Cupcake. Every week, Cassie posts a poll, allowing her readers to vote on her next cupcake. I voted for the banoffee cupcakes (even though I had never heard of banoffee, I knew the combination of bananas and caramel could not be bad) and crossed my fingers that they would win, and much to my shagrin, they did! There are no words to describe how delicious these cupcakes are. And the frosting? Holy crap. I could eat it by the bucket full (I followed her suggestion of using the caramel apple dip to sweeten the whipping cream). The original recipe is from Cupcake Heaven, by Susannah Blake, a book which is now on my Amazon wish list.

Make these cupcakes. Now.

Banoffee Cupcakes

Original Source: Cupcake Heaven, by Susannah Blake

Brought to you by Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake

Yield: The original recipe says 10, Cassie got 8, and I got 5 large cupcakes.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 4 chewy caramels, chopped
  • Heath bits to sprinkle on top

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 3-4 tablespoons dulce de leche or caramel sauce


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy, then beat in the egg, a little at a time. Fold in the mashed banana, then sift the flour into the mixture and fold in, followed by the caramels (I took Cassie's suggestion and tossed the caramels in the flour first to keep them from sticking together).
  • Spoon the mixture into the paper liners. Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with Heath bar pieces, and bake in the preheated oven for about 16 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • To decorate, swirl the cream over each of the cupcakes, then drizzle with a spoonful of dulce de leche or caramel sauce and top with slices of banana. (This was not included in the directions, but I beat the heavy cream in my mixer until it reached the consistency of whipped cream, then followed Cassie's suggestion of beating in the caramel apple dip to sweeten. I also topped mine with banana chips so I didn't have to worry about soggy brown bananas).

This is what they looked like after baking! Mmmmm.

Bananas Foster Cupcakes

Oh. My. God. Seriously. These are SO good. Bananas foster is one of my favorite desserts, and about a month ago I had the idea of turning it into a cupcake. I googled and googled and googled, but couldn't find much, and I wasn't happy with the recipes I did find. Finally, I stumbled across this recipe on recipezaar. I knew it had to be good since it actually involved making bananas foster and mixing it into the batter. These were really moist and the flavor was AMAZING. Enjoy!

Bananas Foster Cupcakes

Source: recipezaar

Yield: 16 cupcakes

Ingredients for Banana Mixture:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 ripe but still firm bananas, quartered (halved crosswise, then lengthwise)
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Batter:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon dark rum
  • ¾ cup sour cream

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • For the banana mixture: In a saute pan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cook until butter melts and sugar is dissolved (4 to 5 minutes). Add the banana slices and cook until tender, turning once for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Stir together rum and vanilla. Turn off the burner and add the rum mixture to the pan. Using a long match, light the alcohol by placing the flame just in the outer edge of the pan. Stand as far back as possible. FLAMBE! (this is the fun part.) The flame should extingish in a few seconds. Gently shake the pan from side to side to coat the bananas with the sauce. Spoon the bananas into a bowl and set aside.
  • For the cupcakes: In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, vanilla, rum and banana mixture. Mix well. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream; blend thoroughly but do not overmix. Pour into prepared cupcake pans.
  • Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 1- minutes in pan on rack. Remove and cool completely before frosting.
  • For the frosting: Beat together cream cheese, butter, cinnamon and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add about half the powdered sugar and beat until mixed well. Then gradually add the remaining powdered sugar until you reach a spreading consistency (I didn't use all of it, I'd say there was about 1/3 cup leftover).

Apple Crisp Cupcakes

I've been in a fall food kind of mood. When I saw this cupcake recipe, I knew that I had to make them mine, and I was not disappointed. They were really moist, and I loved the streusel in the middle. I actually had a bunch of streusel left over so I sprinkled some on the top also. The caramel topping tasted great, but honestly, these cupcakes are so good that they don't need it. I think it takes away from the taste of the cupcakes. If I make these again, I will just add a crumb topping to them.

Apple Crisp Cupcakes
Source: "125 Best Cupcake Recipes" by Julie Hasson
Yields 12 cupcakes

Ingredients for Batter:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

Ingredients for Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch salt

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Batter: In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth. Stir in apple.
  • Streusel: In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture holds together in small, moist clumps.
  • Scoop about half of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle streusel over batter. Scoop remaining batter over streusel.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.
  • Frosting: In a heavy saucepan, combine cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring, for 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir until smooth and pour into a bowl. Let cool in bowl, stirring occasionally. Caramel will thicken further as it sits and cools. Stir cooled caramel well and spread or spoon over cooled cupcakes.

Annnnnnd - this is what they looked like when they came out of the oven! Mmmmmm.

And of course, a shot of the inside of the cupcake, showing all of it's streusely goodness!

Happy Cupcake Wednesday!

I was a cupcake baking machine last night! I made 3 kinds of cupcakes, all ridiculously delicious, caramely (it's a word to me) and fall-y (yeah, I have no issue with making up words). I made apple crisp cupcakes, bananas foster cupcakes, and banoffee cupcakes. I seriously can't pick a favorite, they were all awesome. I am declaring today "cupcake Wednesday" for my coworkers. Hopefully they will enjoy them as much as I did when I taste-tested them! Stayed tuned later today for recipes!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

Mmmmm fudgey. This is the first recipe I have made from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From My Home to Yours. These brownies turned out great! If you like cakey brownies, these are not for you. If you like rich, thick, fudgey, chocolately brownies, give these a try!

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients for the Brownies:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 3 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbs strong coffee (I substituted Kahlua, mmmmm)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1 cup store-bought milk chocolate chips (I used chopped Dove candy bars)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Ingredients for the Glaze:

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store-bought white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream


  • Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9-inch baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet. Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt.
  • To Make the Brownies: Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted- you don't want the ingredients to get so hot they separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes.
  • Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don't beat too vigorously- you don't want to add air to the batter- and don't be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If you're not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.
  • Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely. (I left my brownies in the pan to cool and glaze them, since other people had problems with the glaze running off the brownies).
  • To Make the Glaze: Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. (I wanted a thicker glaze, so I only used about 1/4 cup of heavy cream).
  • Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don't worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for at least 30 minutes, or until the glaze is firm. (I recommend refrigerating overnight. I cut my brownies after about an hour and a half, and the glaze ran and was all messy).

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meatballs

I love spaghetti squash, and I've got to thank my mom for turning me on to it years ago. Granted, you are not going to be able to fool anyone into thinking that they are eating pasta, but I think it's a great healthy alternative. There are only 16 (yes, 16!) calories in half a cup of spaghetti squash! I like to just put some sauce & parmesan cheese on mine, and serve it with some turkey meatballs.

If you've never made spaghetti squash, it's easy! I cook mine in the microwave. Slice the squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and "guts." Then put it in a microwave safe dish, cut side up. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. Using a fork, pull apart the "strands" of squash.

Tada! A lovely plate of spaghetti squash.
With sauce and turkey meatballs:
Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 lb fresh, lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic (if you don't LOVE garlic, only use 1)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mix all ingredients together in bowl, roll into balls.
  • Place in baking dish.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Peach Cobbler

I'm not a huge fan of peaches (I know, what a great way to get you enthused about this dish, right?). However, there were some great looking peaches at the farmer's market this weekend, and they were selling them cheap. I decided to make a cobbler instead of a crisp, because I was in the mood for something cakey. (Also, as an aside, when I was learning to say my name, I used to call myself Cakey instead of Vicki. Coincidence? Or a foreshadowing of my love for all things cake? You decide). I turned to Paula Deen for the recipe, and I have to admit that it was REALLY good, even though it was full of peaches. I'm sure if you love peaches, you will love this.

Peach Cobbler
Source: Paula Deen


  • 4 cup peeled, sliced peaches
  • 2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • ground cinnamon, optional (I don't believe this should be optional. I think the cobbler would be a little bland without it).


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
  • Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping.
  • Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. (The end result will be very runny. I had my doubts that it would rise and turn into something wonderful in the oven, but it did, so don't be nervous).
  • Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking.
  • Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
  • To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Texas Caviar

This looks like a boring, unassuming bean dip. A coworker brought it for a potlock at work, and I almost didn't try it, but I'm SO glad I did. It is spicy, sweet, and full of delicious flavors. And it's VERY addicting. To make it a little healthier, you can easily substitute Splenda for the sugar. My coworker gave me the recipe, but I don't know what the original source is. Enjoy!

Texas Caviar

  • 1 can Black beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Black eyed peas - drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Shoe peg corn – drained and rinsed
  • 1 jar Pimentos (or roasted red peppers chopped)
  • ½ jar jalapeƱos chopped fine (use more or less to taste)
  • 1 red onion chopped fine
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped fine


  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar


  • Mix all caviar ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Heat all marinade ingredients on stove, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Let mixture cool before pouring over caviar.
  • Cover and let flavors marinate overnight for best results.
  • Strain caviar in a colander to remove excess liquid.
  • Serve with Tostitos Scoops or Fritos Scoops.

Broccoli Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads. I love the sweet and tangy dressing. Unfortunately I don't make it often because of all of the cheese and bacon. It's a nice change from heavy potato and pasta salads though. This recipe is great using Splenda instead of sugar.

Broccoli Salad



  • 2 large bunches raw broccoli, cut into flowerets
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 c. grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 c. mayonnaise


  • Mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar together.
  • Add onion, bacon and cheese.
  • Pour over broccoli in a bowl. Stir until broccoli is lightly coated.
  • Chill for a few hours, or overnight.