Thursday, March 29, 2012


 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
4-ounce block of caramel, cut into 16 pieces; or 16 caramel candies 
16 bittersweet chocolate disks (1" to 1 1/2" disks)
a pinch ofsea salt, to garnish each candy

 Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2) Divide the pecans into 16 small piles on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet (a scant 2 teaspoons pecans each).
3) Flatten each caramel cube into the size of a half dollar, and place on the pecans.
4) Heat in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the caramel softens and begins to melt.
5) Remove from the oven; wait 1 minute, then top each cluster with one disk of chocolate, pressing it into the softened caramel gently.
6) Top each candy with a few flakes of Fleur de Sel, or other coarse sea salt.
7) Allow the caramel and chocolate to cool and set before removing candies from the pan.
Yield: 16 candies.



1 (18.25 ounce) box white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (you'll need approx. 36).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar and salt. Add remaining ingredients and beat with hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until well blended.
3. Use ice cream scoop to fill prepared cupcake tins- fill about 3/4 full. Bake about 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


*Recommend: Duncan Hines "Moist" White Cake mix for this recipe.
*You can use either regular or light sour cream for this recipe, but heck... since it's a wedding cupcake and you want it to be as delicious and moist as possible, I recommend going for the full-fat kind.
*Add 1 teaspoon of almond extract (in addition to the vanilla) if you wish to have a different flavor.
*Using an ice cream scoop is perfect for getting the batter into the cupcake tins without spilling.
*You can also use this mix to make cake. Pour into greased and floured cake pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.



3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tablespoons whipping cream


1. In a large bowl, with a hand or stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on low speed. Mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
2. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired spreading/piping consistency.
3. Scoop into a piping bag and pipe decoratively onto cupcakes, or spread onto cupcakes as desired.


*This recipe doubles or triples well.
*There is no need to sift the powdered sugar, unless you're worried that your sugar is quite lumpy.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


There are a few Hints/Tips to making these bad boys:
1.chill the dough for about 15 minutes before baking and keep it chilled while one pan is baking (especially during the warm months as Peanut Butter tends to ‘melt’ easily and makes the dough harder to work with). Chilling helps the cookies keep their shape while baking and helps with the delicate texture of the baked cookie.
2. You need to let these cool on a baking sheet for at least five to ten minutes after removing from the oven, if not they will fall apart because they are so tender! You can finish cooling on a wire rack before storing.
3. To keep these nice and soft, store a piece of bread in a sealed container with the cookies, make sure it is not touching the cookies (I place it on a piece of wax paper on top of the cookies in the container)
4. If freezing the balls for later baking, Chill dough, roll into balls and freeze. Don’t roll in sugar until ready to bake.(See photo)
5. These are delicate cookies and can be difficult to transport. a single layer of cookies transports beautifully. If needing to stack cookies to transport, place a few sheets of waxed paper in between layers.

The Original Peanut Butter Cookie
  1 cup + 2 TBS peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 TBS milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Peanut Butter chips (I recommend the Reese’s brand, the generic are not the same)
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
3/4 cup Sugar (for rolling dough balls, may need more or less)

 Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter, butter. Once combined beat in the white sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla.
In a large bowl wisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently add to creamed mixture and mix until almost combined. Fold in chocolate and peanut butter chips. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Gently roll the dough balls into sugar and place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Carefully press each ball with fork tines to create a criss-cross pattern.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 5-10 minutes until sturdy enough to be transferd to a wire rack to cool completely.


Pasta Taco Salad

1 pound pasta (bow tie, wagon wheel or spiral)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn
1½ cups  fresh salsa
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 roma tomatoes, diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 large avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup olive oil

1. Cook pasta according to package directions with 1 Tablespoon of salt. Drain pasta and stir the corn in frozen to cool pasta and defrost corn. Toss the pasta with salsa then the beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and cheese.

2. Toss the avocado with the lime juice, remove avocado and add to pasta. With remaining lime juice, add spices, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt, then slowly whisk in the oil. Add dressing to pasta. Serve immediately. Stays well for up to 1 day in fridge, longer if you keep the avocado separate.

1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
¼ cups Chopped Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
¼ teaspoons Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
½ whole Lime Juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse 10 to 15 times, until desired consistency. Taste and season more if needed.
Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour.


Butter Bars

1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup butter (1 cube), melted

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
3 cups powdered sugar

Combine crust ingredients and pat into a 9 X 13 pan. Beat cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add butter and sugar. Mix well. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Variations: use lemon cake mix and add lemon juice and zest to filling, use chocolate cake mix and add 3/4 cup peanut butter to the filling. I have never tried any of these, if you do, let me know how you like it!


Orange Strawberry Salad

1 package spring mix greens
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 large orange, cut into small pieces
3 green onions, sliced
1 cup Sliced Almonds
4 TBS butter
4 TBS sugar

To make candied almonds:
Mix almonds, butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the the butter and sugar turn to a toffee color, stir constantly.

Orange Dressing

½ tsp grated orange peel, or orange zest
1/3 cup fresh orange juice ( 1 to 2 oranges )
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon “Good Seasons Dry Italian” dressing mix. It is about ½ a package

Put all ingredients in a container and shake- serve.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


  • Dijon mustard- 1/2 cup
  • Maple syrup- 1/4 cup
  • Rice wine vinegar- 1 tablespoon
Put  6-7 of boneless chicken thighs into an oven-proof baking dish. Then, salt and pepper the thighs. Pour your maple mustard mixture over them, turning the thighs in the mixture so they are fully coated. 
 Put the chicken thighs into the oven, and let them bake for 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165ºF. Baste the tops of the chicken with more sauce half way through. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the chicken, making sure to spoon some extra sauce over the top.


  • 3/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated (approx. 1 cup grated); or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces, optional (omit or substitute margarine for lactose-free, vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: toasted sliced almonds, maple syrup, additional almond milk or butter
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours. Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup almond milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 5 pts per 3/4 cup serving


Found this wonderful recipe from Chef in Training
  • 1 can of 8 Pillsbury crescents
  • 8 oz. block of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken, cooked (I usually just buy a Rotisserie chicken and shred it up to make it even easier)
  • 1 egg
  • saltine crackers, crushed (you can also Ritz crackers, Club crackers...basically any that you have on hand!)

  • 1 can cream of chicken
  • sour cream (a couple spoons full worth)
  • milk (enough to reach desired consistency)
  • shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F

Soften 1/4 cup butter and 8oz. block of cream cheese. Then stir to a smooth consistency. Add cooked shredded chicken to the bowl.

Lay out the 8 crescents on a cookie sheet.

Stretch the crescent out. Place a couple spoon fulls of the creamy chicken mixture into the center of the crescent to fill it. Then fold the crescent around the mixture so that none of it is showing. I'll call this the "pillow"

In a separate smaller bowl, put the egg and a little bit of water, maybe a couple Tablespoons worth and beat together.

Dip the "pillow" into the blended egg.

 After dipping into the blended egg, proceed to dip it into the crushed saltine crackers and place on cookie sheet. Repeat for the remaining 7 crescents.

Cook the pillows at 400 F for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them your oven might cook them quicker.

For the sauce topping:

Put can of cream of chicken and milk into a sauce pan. Add as much milk as you want to get it to the consistency you want i.e. thicker or runnier. When hot enough add 2 spoon fulls of sour cream and cheese to your liking.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Makes about 6 cups

1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, cut into ½″ cubes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup halved purple grapes
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ cup whipped cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine chicken, mayonnaise, celery, grapes, almonds, parsley, and salt in a bowl. Add whipped cream and pepper; fold to combine.



2 1/2 pounds tomatoes
3 large jalapenos (use more if small, fewer if large)
1/4 med Spanish onion (or yellow)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c white vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp liquid mesquite smoke


Preheat BBQ (or stovetop grill pan like I used) on high. Remove stems from tomatoes, then rub some oil over each. Leave stems on jalapenos and rub oil on them, too.
Place tomatoes on grill when it's hot. After about 10 minutes, add all jalapenos. In about 10 minutes, turn the tomatoes and peppers. When almost all of the surface of the peppers are black, remove them from the grill. The tomatoes will turn partially black, but when the skin begins to come off they are done. Remove from grill and allow veggies to cool.
Remove skin from tomatoes and place in a food processor. Pinch the stem end from each pepper, remove any skin that has burned, and place into food processor with tomatoes.
Add remaining ingredients and puree on high for 5-10 seconds. Chill for several hours or overnight before serving. Makes about 2 cups.



For the tacos:
1/4 c fresh lemon or lime juice (about 2 limes)
4 T olive oil, divided
3 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lb white fish fillets such as tilapia, cod, halibut, sole
8 corn tortillas (homemade ones are great!)
2 cups shredded cabbage
For the salsa:
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 English cucumber (or two regular cucumbers, peeled and seeded), diced (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup chopped red onion, shallot, or green onion
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)


To prepare the tacos:
Combine citrus juice, 2 T oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish or zip-top bag. Add fish, skin side up (if it has skin). Marinate, chilled, for at least 30 minutes but no longer than 2 hours.
Discard marinade and grill or saute fish in a skillet, using the remaining 2 T oil as needed. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the fish, but it should take around 6-10 minutes. Fish should flake easily with a fork but not be too dry.
To prepare the salsa:
Combine all salsa ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Store in an airtight container, chilled, until ready to use. Use this within 24 hours as it gets mushy if you store it longer.
Makes almost 3 cups of salsa.


2 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 lbs new potatoes or small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 shallot, minced (or 1 T minced onion and/or garlic)
1/3 finely grated Parmesan cheese
6 cups (about 10 ounces) mixed salad greens
2 tsp mixed dried (or 1/4 cup fresh) herbs such as oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley, thyme, and sage (I used an Herb de Provence blend)
sliced tomatoes and cucumber for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Whisk together the vinegar, herbs (if using dried), and mustard in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking until fully combined and thickened. Season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper, to taste.
Place the potatoes and shallot on the rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 T of the vinaigrette and use hands to toss the mixture, ensuring the potatoes are coated. Arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Stir every 10 minutes or so for even cooking. When they're finished, sprinkle with half of the cheese, toss to coat, and set aside.
Just before serving, combine the greens, potatoes, remaining cheese, and remaining vinaigrette in a large bowl. If you're using fresh herbs, now is the time to add them. Toss to mix. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with tomatoes.



For the salad:
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
6 ounces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese shavings
12 ounces of salad greens
For the dressing:
1/2 of an avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into large chunks
1 green onion, sliced
3 T sour cream
3 T mayonnaise or plain yogurt
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T agave nectar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste


To prepare the dressing, place all dressing ingredients into a small food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Toss dressing with salad greens and top with avocado slices, bacon crumbles, and cheese shavings.


Total Time: 30 minutes


6 slices uncooked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 medium red onion, sliced very thinly
3 T balsamic vinegar
10-12 ounces of fresh baby spinach or mixed salad greens
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped


Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring frequently. Transfer the bits to a stack of paper towels to drain.
Remove all but 3 T of bacon drippings from the pan and return it to medium heat. (I had just slightly more so I left all the drippings in the pan.) Add the onion and vinegar to the drippings and stir to heat through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Top with shredded chicken, chopped tomato and avocado. Pour the warm onions and dressing over the top. Toss to coat and sprinkle the bacon bits over the top.
Makes about 4 main dish servings.


Crispy Shredded Chicken Tacos


3 1/2 - 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (about half of a 4 lb roast chicken)
2-3 T taco seasoning, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
20-24 corn tortillas
about 1/4 cup oil, for frying + more if necessary
Garnishes: cheese (Mindy recommends pepperjack, I used Mexican cotija), lime wedges, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage


In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the chicken, taco seasoning, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and let it cook until the sauce thickens and the mixture isn't so watery, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.
Place a few paper towels on a plate and set it next to the stove.
In another large skillet, heat the oil medium-high heat. It should "shimmer" and bubble quite a bit if you stick a wooden spoon in it. Add a couple of corn tortillas the oil. Wait 10-15 seconds, then flip them over. Place some of the chicken mixture down the center of the tortillas (about 2-3 T, depending on the size of your tortillas). Using tongs, fold the tortillas in half and press for a few seconds. The tortilla should start to hold its shape. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip them over to the other side to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Both sides should have golden brown spots and the tortilla should be somewhat crisp.
Transfer to the plate lined with paper towels. Cover or place in a warm oven to keep them warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling, adding more oil if the tortillas start to stick or scorch.
Garnish with cabbage, lime, sour cream, avacado



1 1/2 cups rice blend (I used a blend of brown and wild rice)
1/4 cup quinoa
Grated zest and juice from 1 lime
2 T neutral-flavored oil, like grapeseed
1 tsp raw sugar, honey, or agave nectar
Freshly ground pepper
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (or 1/2 of an English cucumber)
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sliced almonds or other type of chopped nuts


Bring a large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add about 2 T of salt to the water, then add the rice. Cook for about 15 minutes, then add the quinoa to the water. Cook for an additional 15 minutes or so until the rice and quinoa are tender. Drain and and rinse under cold water until grains have cooled. Shake off excess water.
Meanwhile, whisk the lime juice and zest, oil, sugar, 1 tsp of salt, and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Add the rice mixture, mango, cucumber, jalapeno, green onions, and nuts and toss to combine. Season with additional salt if necessary.
Serves 6-8.




  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • sliced avocado
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • chopped green onions


Serves 4
16 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed (about 3⁄4 cup)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
wild rice pilaf and steamed green beans (optional)
Heat oven to 350° F. In a bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Dip the chicken in the butter, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help the crackers adhere. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle any remaining cracker mixture on the chicken and drizzle with any remaining butter. Bake until the chicken is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve with the pilaf and green beans, if desired.