Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

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These cupcakes are rich and delicious!

Chocolate Cupcakes:

 (I used the Flour Bakery recipe.)

  • 2 ounces chocolate (you can use unsweetened or semisweet)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop chocolate and place it in a bowl with the cocoa powder. Mix butter, water and sugar in a pan over medium high heat. Whisk until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pour hot buttery mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until chocolate melted and ingredients are combined.  Whisk the egg, milk, and vanilla extract together then whisk into the chocolate mixture until combined.  Sift the dry ingredients together.  Pour the dry ingredients onto the wet ingredients. Whisk  until the dry ingredients are totally mixed into the chocolate mixture.  Let stand about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, line muffin tin with liners and then pour the batter (or use an ice cream scoop) into the muffin cups, dividing batter evenly among the 12 cups.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 26-29 minutes. Cool in tin on rack for 15 minutes. 

    Rich Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Melt butter along with cocoa powder and chocolate morsels in a small saucepan.  Transfer to a stand mixer. Add powdered sugar and milk and whip to spreading consistency. Add more milk or sugar as needed until desired consistency is reached. Stir in vanilla.

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    Better than Brownie Cookie Peanut Butter Sandwiches

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    Yum, yum, yum, yum!  The classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter is successful yet again!  These cookie sandwiches are chewy, rich, and delicious.  Be wary of the urge to overfill–just a thin layer of peanut butter filling will do.  Overfill and you run the risk of (1) a treat that is too sweet and (2) the frosting squeezing out the sides. 

    Enjoy!

    Some notes:

    –This cookie  recipe made about 55 small cookies (about 1/2 tablespoon of dough each), which I sandwiched together to make about 27 sandwich cookies.  (To make about 25 large cookies use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough for each.)

    –Parchment paper or a silpat (a non-stick baking mat) are a must here. 

    –I used a combination of dark chocolate and milk chocolate (about half and half) to yield a rich, yet not overpowering chocolaty flavor.

    –I used a bit less baking powder than the recipe below indicates so that my cookies would be a little thinner and less poofy.

    –I doubled the peanut butter filling recipe and ended up with some leftover. 

    Better than Brownie Cookie Peanut Butter Sandwiches:

     Better than Brownie Cookies

    • 2 2/3 cups (466g) dark chocolate, chopped
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

    Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

    Melt the chopped chocolate with the butter in a small saucepan over low heat – stir constantly until smooth. Mix eggs, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl. Combine thoroughly. Set aside.

    Sift flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.

    Add melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and slowly add dry ingredients. When combined, add the cup of chocolate chips and stir.

    Scoop dough (more like batter!) onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are firm on the outside (dough loses its sheen). Leave to cool completely on sheets.

    Peanut Butter Filling

    • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

    In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) cream 3 tablespoons butter  with the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, and the cream. Fill the filling into a pastry bag and squeeze  filling onto half of the cooled cookies, then top with the other half to form sandwiches.

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    Cookie recipe adapted from Culinography Peanut butter filling adapted from Savory Sweet Life.

    Curried Chicken Salad

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    As I previously mentioned, I have been in search of low-fuss no-cook appetizers.  There is nothing worse than slaving over a hot oven in the middle of summer!  (That kind of heat makes me grumpy and that is no way to greet guests!)  Again, with the guidance of MyRecipes.com editor Ashley Johnson, I decided to make this curried chicken salad.  Not only was it a success with my guests but I have been eating it for lunch every day! 

    Some notes:

    –I chose to serve this as an appetizer with pita chips, therefore, it was extremely important that I diced the components of the salad into very small pieces.  I made sure there weren’t any large chunks of chicken that would be larger than the pita chips.  The same for the apple, pineapple, and grapes.  Definitely cut each grape into at least four pieces–possibly even six.  When you are chopping envision each pita chip scooping up some of the salad–if your dices are the right size each bite should contain almost every component of the salad. You would never want one scoop to contain nothing but a giant grape!  On the other hand, if I were serving this in sandwich rolls at a luncheon, it would be okay to leave the components of the salad in larger cubes because in that situation your guests are filling an entire roll.  Make sense?

    –I substituted Chobani plain-flavored yogurt in place of mayo.

    –Some commenters on MyRecipes.com indicated they used raisins instead of currants.  I suggest sticking to the currants.  They are nice and small and make the salad a little jazzier.

    –For the chicken, I grilled fresh cutlets seasoned with salt and pepper and then shredded/diced them up, however, you could use a grocery store rotisserie chicken or even canned water packed chicken (drained) in a pinch. 

    –Add the curry powder and then taste.  You may want to add more.

    –I think I doubled (or maybe even tripled) this recipe.

    Curried Chicken Salad:

  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2  cup  halved seedless red grapes (dice size depends on you want to serve the salad)
  • 1/2  cup  diced peeled unpeeled green apple
  • 2  tablespoons  diced pineapple
  • 1  tablespoon  dried currants
  • 3  tablespoons  plain Chobani yogurt 
  • 1  teaspoon  honey
  • 1/2  teaspoon  curry powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Combine chicken, grapes, apple, pineapple, and currants in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine yogurt, honey, curry powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper stirring with a whisk. Pour dressing mixture over chicken mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

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    Adapted from MyRecipes.com.

    Caprese Kebabs

     

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    For the past few weeks I have been looking for no-cook delicious appetizers for a low fuss girls’ only cocktail party.  Luckily, I had the opportunity to brainstorm recipes and ideas with MyRecipes.com editor Ashley Johnson.  Ashley had so many wonderful suggestions and fun ideas that it was impossible to incorporate all of them!  (Check out some of her girls’ night recipe ideas here:  Girls Night In– Party at the Grill )

    First on my menu: caprese kebabs.  Nothing says summer like this classic flavor combination! I especially like these kebabs because they add some sass to your spread.  They aren’t your typical “chip and dip” that guests have come to expect. They are fresh, delicious and ridiculously easy to make!    

    Caprese Kebabs:

    • 1  pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 10  to 14 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, cut into thirds
    • wooden skewers
    • 1/4  cup  extra virgin olive oil
    • 2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
    • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper
    • 6  fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced 
    • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

    Thread 1 tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto each skewer. Place skewers in serving dish/bowl.

    Whisk together oil and next 3 ingredients. Drizzle oil mixture over skewers; sprinkle with basil and salt and pepper to taste.

    Adapted from MyRecipes.com.

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    White Bean Salad

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    This salad is perfect for those nights when it is just too hot to cook.  It is not only simple to make, but also it is delicious.  The yogurt gives the dressing a bit of a creamy texture while balancing the punch of the vinegar and mustard. 

    I served this salad beneath yogurt marinated grilled turkey tip kebabs, however, it could certainly stand on its own as a delicious vegetarian dish.  It is protein packed and quite filling.

    One note: Serve this salad at room temp (not cold) for maximum flavor.

    White Bean Salad:

    dressing

    • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 2-3 garlic cloves , minced
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    salad

    • 2  15.5 ounce cans white beans (Kidney, Great Northern or Navy), drained and rinsed in a colander under cold running water
    • 2 red peppers, diced
    • 4-6 tablespoons of finely chopped chives (reserve a few pinches for garnish)

    Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a glass bowl.  Set aside.

    Combine all salad ingredients in a serving bowl.  Pour dressing over salad and use a wooden spoon to toss and coat beans with dressing.  Garnish with a few pinches of remaining chives.

    Adapted from GlobalGourmet.com.

    Balsamic Marinated Pork Chops & Grilled Nectarines

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    I am always on the lookout for low fuss, delicious, and healthy weeknight suppers. What I especially love about this one is it takes advantage of the season’s bounty: nectarines AND it allows me to use my favorite pan: my grill pan!  Grilling the fruit really capitalizes on its sweetness and the marinade is a great combination of flavors that keeps the pork nice and moist.  Even my husband, who is not always a fan of fruit in savory dishes, seemed to enjoy these grilled pork chops and nectarines.

    (I served some grilled zucchini with this as well.)

    Balsamic Marinated Pork Chops & Grilled Nectarines:

    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
    • 4  5-oz lean boneless pork chops, visible fat removed
    • sea salt & black pepper to taste
    • 4 Nectarines, halved & pitted (I had a tough time pitting these guys!)
    • fresh thyme leaves for garnish

    In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey and rosemary. Reserve 2 Tbs. and add the rest to a 1-gallon zip-top bag. Add pork to bag and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

    Spray grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Remove pork from fridge, discard marinating liquid and season pork with salt and pepper. Cook in grill pan until pork is opaque throughout and feels firm to the touch. About 5-6 minutes per side.  Set aside on a plate.

    Spray the grill pan with another quick squirt of cooking spray.  Add nectarines to the grill pan over medium heat until tender and juicy, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to plate, and brush with reserved marinade. Serve with pork chops.

    Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine July/August issue.

    Oatmeal Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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    I made these cupcakes for a cookout and they were a huge hit!  All of the children at the party found them and ravaged them before dinner was even served.  Then the adults followed suit!  I had to snag one for myself in order to have a taste before they were gone!  DELICIOUS! 

    I used this recipe for the cupcakes-

    Oatmeal Cupcakes:

    • 1 1/3  cups  boiling water
    • 1  cup  quick-cooking oats
    • 3/4  cup  granulated sugar
    • 3/4  cup  packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/3  cup  vegetable shortening
    • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
    • 3  large eggs
    • 1 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
    • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
    • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
    • 1/2  cup  buttermilk

    Preheat oven to 350 F.

    Insert liners into cupcake pans.

    Combine boiling water and oats in a medium bowl; let stand 20 minutes. Beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, shortening, and vanilla at medium speed of a mixer for 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add oatmeal, beating until blended.

    Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

    Pour batter into prepared pans. Sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack.

    And this recipe for the cream cheese frosting–

    Cream Cheese Frosting:

    • Two 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter using an electric mixer, until smooth.  Slowly sift the confectioners’ sugar into the butter/cream cheese, about one cup at a time.  Continue to beat until all lumps are gone.  Add the vanilla and mix until fully combined. 

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    Oatmeal Cake recipe adapted from Cooking Light.  Frosting recipe adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.