Vanilla Cupcakes with Marble Swirl Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Marble Swirl Frosting

In the past, I’ve been called a baking fiend. Sure, I like to bake; yes, I am constantly finding occasions to bake; Maybe, even multiple desserts per occasion, but that doesn’t make me a fiend… Does it? Okay, forget I asked. As an “avid” {that’s a much nicer description of my obsession} baker, I am always trying to find the “perfect” cupcake recipe. Sure, I have my go to fancy cupcakes, like the surprise Reese’s ones Bill adores and I recently made some festive margarita cupcakes for Cinco de Mayo, but sometimes you just need a classic vanilla cupcake recipe. Call off the search party, I found it, this recipes creates perfectly moist vanilla cupcakes, which you can top with your favorite frosting or take it up a notch with some swirled cream cheese frosting, like I did.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Marble Swirl Frosting

ingredients:
cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk

frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, for chocolate flavored

*I made two servings of frosting, one vanilla and one chocolate, so double the recipe if you are picking one flavor**

Vanilla Cupcakes with Marble Swirl Frosting

directions:
Preheat oven to 350*F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with whisk, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil, beat.

Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk. Beat until just combined. Scrap down the side of the bowl.

Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners. Fill liners about 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes in pre-heated oven for 12-16 minutes.

Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

While the cakes cool, prepare your frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until fully combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. If you are making chocolate frosting, add the cocoa powder before adding the powdered sugar, so it gets fully incorporated into the butter and cream cheese.

Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.

Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. Beat on high until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Frost cupcakes using a piping bag and decorative tip. If you are creating marble frosting swirls, when filling the frosting bag, fill the left half with vanilla and the right half with chocolate, or vice versa, so both flavors are pipped out together.

Yields 30 cupcakes

Recipe from Glorious Treats.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Marble Swirl Frosting

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Don’t get me wrong, I love pretty much any ethnic or exotic dish out there, but sometimes it takes a little extra nudge for me to try a recipe out of my comfort zone. Around this time last year, Bill and I went on a backpacking trip to Havasupi Falls in AZ. Another couple in our group was in charge of buying all the food and coming up with some easy recipes for us to make at camp. One of these recipes was a curried chicken with potatoes and purple rice, it’s always stood out to me to make. Maybe it’s because a ringed tailed cat chanced upon our camp on night one and ate all of meat, aside from the canned chicken, which was used in the delightful curry dish. That one serving of meat must have really cemented itself in my mind with all those high calorie burning activities like, hiking, swimming and climbing.

Nevertheless, it’s taken me almost a year to find a recipe as enticing to try as that yellow curried chicken. As soon as I saw “slow cooker” I knew I had to try it. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, my crock pot is my favorite kitchen appliance and once again, it did not disappoint. I served my tikka masala over a bed of turmeric spiced basmati rice, which was the perfect complement and made a filling meal.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

ingredients:
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. coriander
½ tsp. cardamom
½ Tbsp. chili powder
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
4 oz. fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
Salt to taste
Basmati Rice
Turmeric, to taste

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

directions:
Combine the ginger, garlic , tomatoes, coconut milk, spices, and chicken in your slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. Uncover and let cool ten minutes.

Meanwhile cook basmati rice as directed in rice cooker.  Once cooked, sprinkle with turmeric and toss to evenly combine.

Stir together the yogurt and cornstarch in a small bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes to activate the thickeners. Stir few spoonfuls of the warm Tikka Masala sauce into the yogurt to bring the temperature up and prevent curdling. Pour the yogurt mixture into the slow cooker, stir, then let thicken for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.

Serve over basmati rice.

Recipe from The Wanderlust Kitchen.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Apple & Carrot Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting

Apple & Carrot Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting

Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts; however, more often than not, when I order my favorite treat I am faced with a dry bland carrot cake. It’s always such a bummer to have your high hopes squashed. Look no further for a perfectly moist carrot cake recipe that combines carrots with sweet granny smith apples and tops it all off with a not too sweet goat cheese frosting. My mouth is watering as I type… I love the fact that sweet and savory is perfectly balanced in this recipe, plus the added crunch from the nut topping, YUM! What are some of your favorite desserts? Any favorites that never seem to be right when you order them from a restaurant or bakery instead of making it yourself?

Apple & Carrot Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting

ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups packed coarsely grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1 1/2 cups packed coarsely grated tart apples, such as Granny Smith (about 2 medium)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, plus more for garnish
10 ounce fresh, mild chèvre (goat cheese), room temperature
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Apple & Carrot Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting

directions:
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 9-in. round cake pans and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices, cocoa, pepper, and salt. Whisk to combine, then stir in oil and eggs. Stir in carrots, apples, and 1 cup walnuts.

Divide batter among pans and bake until cakes pull away from pan sides and a cake tester inserted in each center comes out clean, 25 minutes. Transfer cakes to cooling racks and let cool 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks and let cool completely.

Beat goat cheese, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar and mix until combined.

Once cakes are cool, arrange first layer on a large plate or platter. Spread some frosting over it, then top with second layer. Frost second layer and top with the third. Generously frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Chill cake at least 1 hour. Before serving, press nuts lightly into sides of cake.

Apple & Carrot Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Burrito

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Burrito

Creamy, cheesy, savory and filling are the words I would use to describe my perfect burrito. From the neatly diced avocado to the warm grilled chicken, everything about this recipe is fresh and that’s probably the reason I can’t seem to get enough of it. The best part is that I pretty much always have these ingredients on hand, so if you’re in a pinch and need a quick dinner recipe that will both delight and fill up you family’s tummies, look not further. Put down those car keys, no need to rush over to chipotle for burritos, you can become your own burrito assembly line right at home.

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Burrito

ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheese
2 avocado -diced
6 large tortillas
1 Tablespoon oil
Salsa, optional

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Burrito

directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan, place chicken breast sprinkled with salt and pepper and roast for about 5 minutes on each side. Spread 1 tablespoon mustard over the chicken, add about ¼ cup water add cook covered for a few more minutes.

Cut cooked chicken into thin strips. Combine the chicken, cheese, and the diced avocados.

Lay tortilla flat on a cutting board and add 1/6 of the mixture, form a roll.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil into a pan and place all four tortillas on the pan, cook for 2 minutes on medium- high heat. Flip on the other side and cook for another minutes or until the the tortillas are golden.  Serve with your favorite salsa.

Serves 6 // 486 calories

Recipe from OMG Chocolate Desserts.

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Burrito

Cinco de Mayo Margarita Cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes

With just a day before Cinco de Mayo and what better festive dessert is there to serve at your party, than a margarita cupcake??  Normally around this time, I am searching for peanut butter flavored treats, since Bill’s birthday is the 4th and he lives and dies for Reese’s anything.  As luck would have it, one of the members of my team at work is graced with a Cinco de Mayo birthday.  It’s become a tradition for me to bake cupcakes for each person on their birthday, so I couldn’t resist finally baking some festive cupcakes.  Since I’m bringing these to work, I opted for the plain maragrita mix, no tequila here, but I can only imagine how much butter these would be with a kick of 1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor.

Margarita Cupcakes

ingredients:

1 box white cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 margarita mix
3 egg whites
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp margarita mix or tequila and lime juice
4 cups powdered sugar
Sour Patch Watermelons, for garnish

Margarita Cupcakes

directions:
Preheat oven to 1350 degrees and place cupcake liners in your muffin tin.

Combine first four ingredients in a stand mixer. Mix for about 2 minutes until well combined. Fill cupcake liners with about 3 Tbsp of batter. Bake for 14-19 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove cupcakes from muffin tin and allow to cool fully.

Beat butter on high for 2 minutes until light in color and creamy, then add powdered sugar along with margarita mix or tequila and lime.

Frost cupcakes using a round tip and pipping bag. Top with Sour Patch Watermelon candy as a garnish.

Serves 24

Recipe from Created by Diane.

Margarita Cupcakes