Archive for October, 2011

Let me put it out there…I don’t like peanut butter.  There I said it.  I also don’t like chocolate peanut butter combo.  But I seem to be making that combo a lot lately as the people I surround myself with seem to love the combo.

Today is my hubby’s birthday and he is a lover of the PB chocolate combo and specifically requested these cupcakes.  The frosting alone is to die for.  I couldn’t stop myself from tasting it after frosting the cupcakes.  SO GOOD!  Here is the link: http://www.thelittlekitchen.net/2011/05/20/peanut-butter-cup-cupcakes-food-blogger-bake-sale/  This is the original blog I got the recipe from…my husband has said that if I put this frosting on a turd, he may eat it.  GROSS!

This is also a great recipe for kids to help out with.  I had my 4 1/2-year-old son measure out the oil, sour cream and peanut butter.  I don’t generally like to open boxes but in this case, so worth it.

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes (100% from The Little Kitchen)

1 (18.25 oz) package devil’s food cake mix
1 (3.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix (I used store brand)
1 cup sour cream (full fat)
1 cup vegetable oil (canola)
4 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp instant espresso granules, dissolve it in 1/2 cup warm water
30 Reese’s Miniatures peanut butter cups, frozen

Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing
1 1/2 sticks salted butter                                                                                                              1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (store brand is good for this, blends better; must be the trans fats)
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp low-fat milk
Reese’s peanut butter cups minis (in a bag & they come unwrapped)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in
your cupcake pan.  I used a 12 cup and a 6 cup and I still had a ton of batter left over that I froze.  Hmmm…let’s see. 

In your stand mixer bowl using the paddle attachment, mix together all of the ingredients except the peanut butter cups for minute or two until well mixed.

Place 3 Tbsp (I sued a 3 Tbsp cookie scoop) of cake batter in each cupcake liner. Take one frozen peanut butter cup and place in the center of each cupcake on top of the batter, press down a little bit.  (Try not to eat all of them at this stage!)

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes (it was 22 minutes in my electric oven) or until several cupcakes pricked with a toothpick come out clean. Do not prick the cupcake where the peanut butter cup is inserted. There will be a slight indentation or hole where the cupcake is sunken in from the peanut butter cup, you’ll fill that with icing. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 to 10
minutes.  (I am very impatient and I removed them to a cooling rack right away)

Remove cupcakes from the pans and place them on a cooling rack & let
them cool all the way. While the cupcakes are baking you can make the
buttercream icing.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

In your stand mixer bowl using the paddle attachment, mix thoroughly
the softened butter and peanut butter on low to medium speed. Turn off
your mixer and in two batches, add the powdered sugar and mixing until
well blended. Be careful, the powered sugar can go everywhere!

Add vanilla and 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk a little bit at a time
while blending on low-speed. Blend until well combined. You’ll start
to see the icing pull from the sides of the bowl.

Add a little bit more milk to get to the right thinness (to your
preference). Keep blending, higher the speed, until nice and fluffy,
about 5 to 7 minutes.

Scoop the frosting into a zip loc baggie and cut off the tip.  Pipe frosting onto the cupcakes. 

Hope you like these as much as my husband does … let me know what you think.


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Happy Monday!  My new favorite blog (i.e. Haven’t had a bad recipe yet!) is www.cooklikeachampionblog.com.  Courtney is fantastic and most importantly, she is a fantastic cook!  Amzing recipes!

My most recent endeavor was her Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan sauce.  I will let you look at her picture of it here: http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2011/07/chicken-with-tomato-herb-pan-sauce.html rather than hurt your eyes with my iphone picture.  It was delicious and my new favorite chicken breast recipe.  (I am NOT a fan of white meat!)  I didn’t slice up the chicken the first night.  But when I reheated the leftover, I pan fried some leeks and chilli flakes in olive oil, added mushrooms and sliced up the chicken and threw it all over some penne.  OMG!  Great mix of flavors…that pan sauce is dreamy. 

Also, when I made the pan sauce, I added some wine and chicken broth to de glaze the pan.  Why?  Because I wanted it more saucy and I like wine.  Yum!

So please go make it and tell her that Zen Mommy sent you!

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For anyone that knows me even a little, knows how much I love this store. It has just what I need and nothing I don’t need. Every Friday, I will be featuring my new favorite Trader Joe’s product. Today is no exception.

Trader Joe’s Joe’s Joes Ice Cream is DA BOMB! Some of the most incredible bites of food that have ever crossed my lips. No ordinary cookies and cream ice cream. It is super rich vanilla ice cream with 7.6 Trader Joe’s Joe’s Joes crushed in. Please try it and then tell me all about it so I can live the experience all over again this week.

On another note: My mom comes back form a world vacation today and I am making her a welcome home dinner. Chicken with tomato pan sauce, pasta with leeks, mushroom and mozzarella and buttermilk panna cotta for dessert. YUM! Recipes coming soon…


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Decadent but worth it!

Okay please don’t hate me but you have to make these. It will keep your family quiet for the 30 seconds it takes to devour their pancake. Yes pancake. Not pancakes. It only takes one.

Your family and especially kids will appreciate these for a special occasion. Here you go:
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Entirely followed from recipegirl.com
Yield: 4 servings (4 pancakes)

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

4 Tablespoons butter
2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Prepare pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour,
baking powder and salt. Whisk in milk, oil and egg, just until batter
is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).

2. In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the
filling into a small zip baggie and set aside. You don’t want this to
remain super-liquidy. It’s best if it becomes a consistency similar to

3. In a medium, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter and cream cheese
until melted. Whisk together until smooth; whisk in powdered sugar and
vanilla extract; set aside.

4. Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick spray.
Scoop about 3/4 cup batter onto the skillet. Snip the corner of your
baggie of filling and squeeze a spiral of the filling onto the top of
the pancake. When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip
carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the
underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter
and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

5. When ready to serve, spoon warmed glaze onto the top of each pancake.

Tips from Recipe Girl:
*Keep the heat low or your pancakes might cook up too quickly. Don’t
flip them until you see those bubbles starting to pop on top. Flip
them with a wide spatula so you can grasp the whole thing without
batter and filling dripping all over the place!
*It’s best if you pour the batter onto your skillet, wait a minute or
so and then swirl the cinnamon onto the batter. That’ll give it a
chance to set a little before you add the swirl.
*If your baggie of filling begins to get too thick, just pop it in the
microwave for a few seconds to soften it up again. On that same note,
it shouldn’t be too runny. The consistency of soft toothpaste is
perfect. If it’s melty and runny, it will tend to run all over your
pancakes. Once you micro it, let it sit on the counter at room temp
for a while until it thickens slightly.

My notes: I had a TON of leftover glaze and cinnamon sugar but when you flip the pancake, the cinnamon sugar caramelizes into an almost brûlée texture. Oooh can’t wait for the silence in your house as your family eats these!


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Homemade Granola Bars

So another wild hair. I decided to make homemade granola bars. What a great way to eliminate refined sugars and flours and have easy grab and go snacks for the kidlets.

Well, verdict is I am never going store bought again. These are amazing and packed with good wholesome ingredients. Without further ado, here is the recipe:

2 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup chocolate chips

3 tablespoons ground flax

3 tablespoons almond meal

1/4 cup oil (canola, coconut, etc.)

1/2 cup honey

Heat oven to 350º F. Mix together oats, flour, nuts, flax and almond meal. Stir in oil and mix until well coated,
and then stir in the honey until evenly distributed.

Press into a parchment-lined 8″x8″ pan. Bake at 350º F for 35
minutes or until slightly brown on top.

Allow to cool completely. I stuck them in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Cut
into bars and wrap individual servings in plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Makes 15 bars.




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