August 29, 2012

Mini Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I was preparing game night for the Hispanic Ministry's ESL class where I volunteer
every Tuesday night year round.  The other teacher and I usually take turns bringing
bags of chocolates because our students love, I mean LOVE chocolate.
But who doesn't right?

So, to wrap up our summer lessons, we had game night for August and I decided
to make mini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and to make it a little more
special I decided to add some fresh strawberries and blueberries on top.

I usually use Pillsbury Cake Mix. For these mini cupcakes...
I used french vanilla. I conveniently use the already made cake mix especially
because I've heard the Cake Boss say he uses already made cake mixes from time to time.

I frosted about 30 mini cupcakes. I added fresh blueberries and strawberries on top because
being the end of the summer it was fitting. The flavor of the frosting being cream cheese
gave it a strawberry cheese cake type of taste which was quite yummy!
It was hard to eat just one, or two, or three.

They were cute mainly because anything mini is often cute. These were so easy to make as well!
I used only one cake mix. The cake mix and frosting was both sugar-free. I guess that's why
I tend to use Pillsbury because they have a sugar-free line!
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August 22, 2012


Hungry Girl was launched in 2004 by Lisa Lillien.
She is just a girl who was hungry and wanted to entertain and inform other
hungry people with free daily emails about food.

She's not a nutritionist or chef but she considers herself a "foodologist"
mainly because she is obsessed with food.
She branded herself as "Hungry Girl" and has products, columns for Weight Watchers
and has been on Rachel Ray, Extra, and Redbook. She is now on Food Network as well.

Lisa is a media executive who has held positions on Nickelodeon and Warner Bros.
So, although branding yourself is an awesome accomplishment...
"you always often have to know someone" to be able to get yourself out there.

Do you ever throw bread out because you couldn't finish the whole loaf and it got
moldy or just didn't make it for one reason or another?
Do you ever get tired of buying hot dog buns, hamburger buns & sandwich loaf bread.

I've found that these Hungry Girl  flat breads work really well for almost everything.
Burgers, hot dogs, a deli meat sandwich, grilled cheese, a mini pizza... you name it.
It's like an all in one.

I got some condiments ready while the burgers were grilling up.
Diced and fried in the pan onions, lettuce, bacon and provolone cheese this time around.
I didn't have any tomatoes on hand but I usually throw a slice or 2 of tomatoes in there also!

The flat bread comes in this "8" shape so it's very easy to just fold over.
This burger has Kraft's BBQ smothered all over it.

On nights when you get home late or not... it's a quick way to make dinner!
Add your favorites and make it your own specialty!
Have fun with it using the condiments you enjoy most!

August 20, 2012

Registration for Cooking Classes!

As summer is officially winding down and Fall is upon us... (YAY!)
I am teaching 2 Saturday cooking classes.

Both classes will be one day Saturday classes.
It will be held at the Creutzburg Center through
Main Line School Night in Radnor, PA.

The first one will be held on Saturday September 29th from 1-3pm.
It's called "A Rainbow of Apps & Snacks"
It will be quick and easy to make appetizers that are truly and naturally colorful
in a rainbow of colors.
Here are just 2 as a sample!

The 2nd class for the Fall is "Dumplings, Dumplings & more Dumplings"
and that is what the class literally is...
Dumpling GALORE.  The last dumplings class we covered 8 out of 12
different types of dumplings. This time it will be a few less
but lots and lots of new creations and ways of folding dumplings!
The Dumplings class will be on Saturday October 20th. 1-3pm

Both classes, you will learn the how to...
followed by-- you making it yourself in class together
and then of course the best part...
the EATING of it!!!!

If you live in the area and want to have some fun with food
on a crisp Fall Saturday afternoon sign up and join me!

August 17, 2012

Corn on the "COB" cupcakes

Last summer, I ended the summer mentally with Watermelon Pie. This summer
I think I will mentally wrap up the summer (especially since I wore long jeans this week-
--- getting chilly) with Corn on the Cob Cupcakes.

Does it look like corn on the cob? It's kind of cute huh?
Making food in a way that isn't the "normal" way makes me strangely giddy. 
Making food for me is a way of how I de-stress after a long day.

Start with baking some vanilla cupcakes. I made these with Pillsbury French Vanilla Cake Mix.
After hearing "Cake Boss" say that he has been known to use cake mixes...
I just conveniently use the Pillsbury or Betty Crocker cake mixes.

Once your cupcakes are done, let them cool on a cooling rack or a cutting board.
While the cupcakes are cooling down a little bit, add a few drops
of yellow food coloring to your vanilla icing.

Ice your cupcakes and then line up some "Jelly Belly" jelly beans to make it look
like corn kernels. I used pop corn flavor with a few lemon (yellow) and coconut (white)
jelly beans. I also used the yellow Starbursts candy to represent butter. Haha!
Lastly I cut a bamboo skewer in half and put them in the 2 end cupcakes just to represent
them being skewered like actual corn on the cob!

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

Ah, the muffin pan. I know I say this often but a great quality for a product especially in the 
kitchen is when you can use something for more than 1 purpose. DOUBLE DUTY!
The muffin tin is SO versatile that it really is endless--- how many things can be cooked in it.

A few weeks ago, I made some individual chicken pot pie muffins. 
It was cute but very eater-friendly as well. 

This chicken pot pie recipe is ridiculously easy. 
You will need:
~a muffin tin,
~chicken breast (cut into little bite size cubes) 
2 breasts will be more than enough for 12 chicken pot pie muffins.
~a Mirepoix (pronounced  "meer-PWAH") 
  which is the french word for the trinity of carrots, celery and onion
~ 1 potato cut into small cubes
~Bisquick pancake mix
~and a little chicken or veggie stock

Here is a pic of the Mirepoix with potatoes.
Mix 1 cup of the Bisquick as if you were going to make pancakes.

Turn your stove on to medium-high heat and let the veggies all cook together  for about 10 minutes
in chicken or veggie stock. (The stock will really give it great flavor)
A few minutes in... not to be too technical but around minute 7-8 add your chicken.
Basically, you want to add the chicken towards the end to prevent it from over cooking
which will make the chicken too dry.  Keep in mind, this is going to go into the oven.
As far as seasonings, I added a little salt, black pepper & garlic powder.

Take your Bisquick mix and fill about 25-30% of the muffin holes.

Then spoon in the Chicken Pot Pie filling inside the muffin holes.

Then use the remaining Bisquick mix to top the muffins.

Bake it in the oven until it gets golden brown on about 350degrees.

You could make this with a chicken soup as well. You could add your chicken pot pie muffin
into your favorite big soup bowl and then ladle in chicken soup on top of the muffin!

It's great for portion control and quite easy to eat as well. You could easily freeze these as well.

August 14, 2012

Home-made Calamari with Panko

Many of us enjoy ordering an appetizer of calamari.  Some restaurants serve their calamari with
bell peppers often in colors of red and green and some even serve their calamari with fried broccoli.

The negatives of calamari is when the batter is soggy. It's a total FAIL when you bite
into the calamari and the batter just isn't crispy. 

SO, I decided to make some at home! Why not right? 
I started with the purchase of 2 calamari which come from the squid family.

Calamari comes from the Italian plural of "calamaro" and the late Latin  "calamarium" 
which means ink-horn, or pen case referring to the ink ejected by the squid. 

blah, blah blah right?.... 

First wash the squid really well. Make sure it isn't slimy.
As you wash it, you will notice that you can very easily pull off the brown texture looking skin.
I usually pull the head off and discard.
(If you are making a seafood broth... it would give it great flavor)
I usually cut the bottom end so that I can run the water through the whole calamari-
The inside "stuff" will be washed out and that's including the plastic tube like straw thingy.
After you've thoroughly washed the suckers, then you can cut them into rings.
I usually cut them into 1/2 inch pieces.

It's easy if you have 3 bowls or plates next to each other ready to go...
one with 2 eggs (well beaten), the cut and ready to go calamari itself and
the batter which is a mixture of Panko and corn starch. (equal parts)
The starch in corn starch helps to adhere the bread crumbs better
than flour which ultimately makes for that crispy golden batter.

Soak your calamari in the egg wash so that it is completely submerged and covered
in the eggs. Then cover the calamari (with egg) in the Panko-starch mixture.
After you fry them on medium or med-high heat, - they will quickly start to float to the top and
turn that golden color-- you can take them out, lay them on a paper towel to get the
excess oil off and sprinkle some salt and pepperon them while they are still hot.

The sauce on the side is sweet chili. Yes, these calamari pieces are as crispy as they look!
I like to drizzle a fresh lemon on them right before eating as well. The hint of lemon on calamari
or any seafood is wonderful.

You can make and eat calamari as an appetizer or snack or you can make a mini meal with
garlic mashed potatoes and flour coated -pan fried tofu. (The green garnish are chives)

This dinner was great. It was crispy with a great taste of sweet and spicy sauce along with
smooth garlic mashed potatoes and great texture and flavor from the soy sauce on the tofu.

August 10, 2012

Strawberry Basil Green Tea

One of my favorite teas is an infused tea. It's quite simple to make as well.
It's green tea (4C brand) with strawberries and basil.  Being that basil and cilantro
are my favorite herbs... there is always some in the refrigerator. Fresh strawberries
seem to be everywhere especially during the Spring and Summer months.

You can cut or not cut the strawberries and basil. I tend to do it both ways. It's really whatever
mood I'm in. 

You can have the strawberries and basil in your cup if you'd like but I usually like to
keep the fruit and herbs in the pitcher so that it continues to fuse the tea.
If you're serving the tea  for guests- you can always
take a whole strawberry, cut a little slit and garnish your cup with it.