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S’mores Martini

Love s’mores? Love cocktails? You will LOVE this! Serve this up at your next swanky dinner party, and everyone will know you’re the host/hostess with the mostest!  Just a note: wait until the last minute to roast up the marshmallows, that way, they don’t slide down the wooden skewers. Serves 4.

  • 1 cup of crushed graham crackers
  • 8 marshmallows
  • a bit of sugar dissolved in water (this is to dip the rim of the glasses into-makes ‘em sticky before you coat with graham)
  • 1 Cup of Marshmallow Vodka
  • 1/2 Cup of White chocolate or Milk Chocolate liqueur
  • 1/2 Cup of milk
  • 8 TBSP chocolate syrup (the kind you pour over ice cream)
  • 4 wooden skewers

    Directions:

    Dissolve the sugar (about 1 TBSP sugar into one 1/2 Cup water) into the water. Dip the rim of your cocktail glasses into the water, then into the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside.  Place two marshmallows at the end of each skewer and set aside.

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Directions? Who needs those?….okay, we all need those. And, we need to read them carefully! Which I didn’t do for this -way too simple recipe! A few weeks back my cousin asked me if I’d blog about a recipe that didn’t work out. I probably wouldn’t blog about a recipe that turned out bad by fault of the recipe itself. For instance if the actual, original recipe was inherently poor I probably wouldn’t post about it because I guess, what’s the point? However, this recipe is yummy, and tuned out to be a bit of a hot mess because of user error. The user, being me. I think it’s comforting to see other people mess up. I think we all like seeing other people mess up (just a little) because it makes us feel human.

This recipe has literally 3 instructions, and I didn’t really bother to read it very carefully.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package blueberry muffin mix
  • 1 8 ounce package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/4 Cup granulated Sugar

Directions:

Prepare muffin mix according to package directions. Divide 1/2 of batter among 1 (12 count) muffin pan. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, using and electric mixer, beat on medium speed 1 minute. Divide cream cheese among batter in muffin pan. Top with remaining batter. (and that’s where things went astray- I didn’t realize that I was supposed to divide the batter in half, and top the cream cheese with the rest of the batter). Bake 400 degree oven for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool on baking rack.

Now, here is where it all went wrong…I was supposed to split the muffin batter in half. Fill each muffin well with a bit of the batter, then a bit of the cream cheese and sugar mixture. Then, top it off with the remainder of the blueberry batter. Instead, I filled all the wells withthe muffin mix, then topped it off with the cream cheese mixture…silly girl!

These are actually quite tasty, and super easy to make! Just follow the directions :-)

They’re so ugly they’re cute!

Poor pan!

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Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

I think people are intimidated by making ganache. They hear the term, or read it, and think they couldn’t make it. Well, just give it a try, you’d be really surprised by how simple it is! I feel this way about a lot of things. Just try it once. (okay, skydiving I’m not gonna do!), but this dish only requires a few ingredients, and a few simple steps. Just try it.

This is the perfect filling for Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.

Ingredients:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (you can also try milk chocolate, semi-sweet, or white, be adventurous!)
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons Irish whiskey (this is optional, you can omit it, or use any other time of liqueur or alcohol)

  1. Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth.
  4. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

It’s so simple to inject your ganache into cupcakes! Just let the ganache cool until it’s the consistency of room temperature sour cream. Add it to a pastry bag with a long thin tip on the end.

Insert the pastry tip into your baked and cooled cupcakes…and there you go!

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Delilah’s Mac and Cheese

I’m in the kitchen, and I hear shuffling in the mudroom. It’s a frosty week, and we’re all huddled up at my parent’s house. They were all out sledding, so, I figured my sister-in-law, native to Los Angeles had gotten cold, and was ready to cozy up and read her book, or work on her novel. I turn the corner and am shocked to see my brother, who never gets cold, removing his snow pants, kicking off his boots, nose sniffling. “Hey, why are you back?” I ask. His reply: “I was asked to leave”. What? I was giggling. He had been out sledding with my nephews, and, quite frankly had just gotten too bossy. We’ve only had about a minute and a half of snow so far this year, and lucky for us, it was the week my brother and his family were in from California visiting. My nephews rarely get to sled, they stayed out for hours! My brother was banished from the fun because of bad behavior. He only managed to stay away for 30 minutes before he got the nerve to go back out and sheepishly return to the hills. Happy Birthday A!

While they were out, I stayed warm, helping my mother prepare for the feast to come. This recipe was introduced to our family years ago by a cousin of ours.  And, what a perfect Super Bowl Sunday dish!

Since 1985, Delilah’s Southern Soul Food cuisine has been a staple at Philadelphia’s famous Reading Terminal Market.

She even battled it out on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds elbow macaroni
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup cubed Velveeta cheese
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 6 cups half-and-half, divided
  • 4 cups grated sharp yellow Cheddar, divided
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp white Cheddar
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated Asiago
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack
  • 1 cup grated Muenster
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until slightly al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to keep warm.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until frothy.

Add the Velveeta, butter and 2 cups of the half-and-half to the large bowl of eggs. Add the warm macaroni tossing until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining half-and-half, 3 cups of the sharp yellow Cheddar, the remaining grated cheeses, and salt and pepper, tossing until completely combined in the large bowl.

Pour the mixture into 9 by 13-inch casserole or baking dishes (approximately 3 (3-quart) baking dishes) and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of sharp yellow cheese and bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes more.

Kitchen work is messy…clean it up! Yes, we spilled half the macaroni all over the counter while transferring it to a larger bowl.

Serve hot.

Notes: The recipe says that this dish serves 10 to 12 people, but, more like 24 people. So, unless you are serving dinner to 10 pro-football players or sumo-wrestlers, I suggest you cut the recipe in half. Grating the cheese is definitely a labor of love. It wore out my mom’s 20 year old cuisinart, so, I had to manually grate the rest. This is a special dish, incredibly rich and scrumptious, and should be made and had!

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Lime Margarita Cupcakes

How about this to Brighten up your Monday?
This is a favorite at the cupcake workshop that I run. What’s to complain about…? lime, sugar, flour, and tequila. This is a super fun treat to bring to a party, you will be the biggest hit! I hope you bake these up for Cinco de Mayo this year! If so, let me know how it goes!

This was the first ‘Booze’ cupcake I ever made. A woman hired me to host a baking party for a bunch of her girlfriends. I had seen the recipe somewhere on-line. I asked her if she’d like to make a batch of margarita cupcakes with her friends. Unbeknownst to her, I’d never made booze cupcakes in my life. Well, we couldn’t get enough of them. We gobbled them up, and I was hooked. Cocktails and Cupcakes? You don’t have to ask twice! Since then, I’ve been on a cocktail cupcake journey, or binge might be a better word.

Enjoy! And, do me a favor, wash these down with a nice cold corona, even if it’s the middle of winter.

Margarita Cupcakes- 12 Servings

Yield: 12 cupcakes – Bake at 325 for 15 to 18 minutes.

Prep Time: 25 minutes | Bake Time: 25 minutes

For the Cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 1½ limes
2 tablespoons tequila
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

To Brush the Cupcakes (or as we call it at the cupcake workshop, “poke and soak”:
1 to 2 tablespoons tequila

For the Tequila-Lime Frosting:

So, this is an approximation of this frosting, keep tasting as you go.
½  cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
Zest and juice of one lime
2 tablespoons tequila
Pinch of coarse salt, if desired.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

2. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined.

6. Reduce the mixer speed low. Add in dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.

7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for 17 to 22 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point. If you are baking mini cupcakes, they’ll need to be in the oven for about 10 to 14 minutes.

8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Now, poke and soak the cupcakes. By this I mean, poke a bunch of holes in the tops of the cupcakes with skewers. Take a pastry brush and slather those bad boys with some more tequila.

9. To make the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer until the butter is light and fluffy.

10. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

11. Add the 2 Tablespoons of lime juice, tequila and salt mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Sprinkle the cupcakes with margarita salt, cupcake confetti or crushed pretzels.

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Pink Champagne (strawberry) Cake

A new year’s celebration cake.  Well, it’s that time of year, the air is cold, the leaves are gone and replaced by happy twinkle lights.

You also might like Salted Caramel Frosting and Pina Colada Cake.

My friend Elizabeth threw a smashing holiday party last night. I’m always grateful to get invited somewhere. I host a lot of parties, dinners and events, so, it’s refreshing to be a guest, and flattering to be invited somewhere. So, it was a fun, relaxing evening spent catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Of course, I brought a cake- a recipe stolen from one of my favorite books. I’m pretty sure I’ll eventually bake up everything in the pages of this one! I adore the color pink, so you can imagine how appealing these three words are together.  “Pink”, “Champagne” and “Cake”. I don’t think I need to say anything more. I used the cake recipe from this book, but then added the frosting and filling recipes on my own.

I think this cake would be a fabulous New Year Party addition, so I wanted to publish the recipe a bit early. It seems a bit complicated, and is sort of time consuming, but totally worth the effort, time and clean up!

Cake:

  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 egg whites
  • a few drops red food coloring
  • 2 Cups Champagne
  • (I also threw in some strawberries)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, mix until blended. Beat in vanilla and egg whites.  Mix in food coloring.  In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add into butter mixture.  Stir in Champagne. (my mixture became sort of curdled looking-but turned out great!) Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes.
I know you have mixer envy!

In the meantime, prepare the filling.

Filling:

  • Strawberry Filling:
  • 1 c. strawberries
  • 1/4 c. champagne or ginger ale
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • To make the strawberry filling, combine strawberries and champagne in a small non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
  • Once filling comes to a boil, use a wooden spoon to mash strawberries. Add sugar and continue to cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Cool to room temperature.

Why not add a layer of fresh sliced strawberries on top of the filling?

While the cakes are cooling on racks, make the frosting.

Frosting

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 4 large strawberries, mashed
  • ¼ Cup Champagne
  • a few pomegranate seeds for garnish

Beat butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add in strawberries and mix well. Slowly add in Champagne and powdered sugar.

 


To assemble cake:

Top cooled bottom layer of cake with strawberry Champagne filling. Layer with thinly sliced fresh strawberries. Add on top layer of cake. Smooth on a layer of frosting. Sometimes it helps to put the cake in the freezer for a bit to seal in the first layer of frosting. Then, finish frosting away with ease! Happy New Year (a bit early, but, I want you to be armed with this lovely celebration cake recipe).

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Green Beans With Bacon Vinaigrette

This is a beautiful and very tasty side dish. You know how they say ‘everything is better with bacon’? Well, green beans are no exception. I found this side dish in Real Simple Magazine’s Fall 2012/Winter 2013 publication. I find a lot of recipes in there, I know. But, they all look so amazing, and are so simple to make, that I’ll probably end up making almost all of them!

This is a really simple recipe and only needs a handful of ingredients!

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool; transfer to a serving bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool, then break into pieces.
  3. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, mustard, oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add to the green beans, along with the bacon, and toss to combine.

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