Wacky Cake (Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting)

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These are the best chocolate cupcakes ever! They are similar to the crazy cake recipe that we have already posted. This version is from Cook’s Country magazine from several years ago. The contrast between the cream cheese icing and the chocolate cupcake equals to more than the sum of its parts. Really! See for yourself!

The first versions of this recipe date back to the 1940’s when butter, milk, and eggs were in short supply.  Our mom first started making this recipe in the 1970’s, when she taught us how to bake.  This is a slightly updated version with slightly less sugar.  This cake is vegan, until you add the delicious cream cheese frosting.  It is a welcome addition to gatherings where you are feeding people with egg or milk allergies.

1 ½ Cups all-purpose flour

¾ Cup granulated sugar

¼ cup natural cocoa powder

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt, preferably kosher

5 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla extract, preferably Mexican

1 cup water

confectioner’s sugar

 

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.  Add vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla.  Pour water over the ingredients and stir until well combined.

 

Pour into regular or mini cupcake holders sprayed with a little non-stick cooking spray, or an 8 inch round or square baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

 

Bake until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, approximately 15-18 minutes. Cool in pan and dust with confectioner’s sugar.  You can also frost the cupcakes with the following delicious cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe is from The New Joy of Cooking. This is a great icing for all your favorite cakes. This version works well with a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid.

Have the cream cheese cold and butter at room temperature.

In bowl, beat until just blended:

8 oz cream cheese

5 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. vanilla

Add one-third at a time, and beat until just smooth and the desired consistency:

2   to 2 ½ Cups powdered sugar, sifted.

Add about a tablespoon of whole milk or cream and a pinch of kosher salt.

This keeps refrigerated, up to one week, or freeze for up to three months.  Soften and stir until smooth before using.

 

Mango, Avocado, Black Bean Salad

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Good! Good! Good!

This is my new favorite salad! I got the inspiration from a recipe on pinterest and from small herb garden in the backyard. (https://twostatesoneplate.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/herb-garden/).

Here is the link to the original recipe: http://naturalnoshing.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/mango-bean-salad/. I adapted the recipe slightly, based on what ingredients I had.

This is a great spring and summer salad! Sometimes when it gets extremely hot (and in Central Texas it can get really hot, especially the summer of 2011) you want to cook something that is refreshing and cool and that doesn’t involve turning on your oven or stove. This salad includes my favorite foods of all time: Mango, Avocados, and Black Beans. Next time I make this I plan to add red onions. It also would be good with chopped jicama.

This is my version of this salad.

Ingredients:

Your favorite greens (I used an arugula, chard, spinach mix and romaine mix), chopped. I used about 1/2 of a 5 oz box of pre-washed greens)

2 small avocados, chopped

1 and 1/2 medium sized mangoes, chopped

2 teaspoons, pickled jalapenos, chopped

1 can black beans drained ( I use Eden Organic)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped. I got this from my garden.

1 clove garlic, pressed,

juice of two medium sized-limes

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dash of Cholula Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

Salt and Pepper

Walnuts (optional)

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, mix olive oil, lime juice, crushed garlic, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Toss in black beans, avocados, mangoes, and jalapenos and stir with two large salad spoons to coat. Add walnuts if desired (this is optional). Serve and enjoy.

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Chinese Stir Fry Sauce

This is fantastic sauce for your favorite stir fry. I have doubled the recipe from the website so that there is plenty of sauce. Enjoy!

Basic Stir Fry Sauce

From http://www.familywok.com/recipes

3 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. brown sugar
¼ tsp. Tabasco
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 Tbs. fresh lime or lemon juice
1 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. rice wine, sherry, or dry white wine

Directions: Heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry 15-30 seconds over medium heat to bring out the flavor. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, Tabasco, salt, pepper, lemon juice. Bring just to a boil, stirring. Dissolve the cornstarch in the wine and whisk into the sauce. Heat until sauce thickens and reaches a full boil. Simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

http://www.familywok.com/recipes

Herb Garden

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Tip: Grow your own herbs. It’s easy and fun. Tonight, I am making a quinoa black bean avocado salad with fresh cilantro from my little herb garden. Tomorrow I might be inspired to make pasta and use some fresh basil. This little garden in my backyard in a humble galvanized metal tub with holes drilled at the bottom ( for drainage) inspires dishes in my kitchen. Provecho!

Pineapple Fried Rice

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How I love Thai food! Everyplace we have lived, we have frequented every Thai place in the vicinity, selecting our favorite dishes. We love to compare the same dishes from different Thai places.

When I first signed up for Facebook a few years ago, I listed going to Thai restaurants as one of my favorite hobbies and it still is. I love Thai food that much.I love the combination of sweet and savory.My favorite Thai dishes are phad see ew, phad thai (of course), and thom kha soup.

A recent discovery is Thai pineapple fried rice. My husband and I absolutely love this dish. This was my first attempt to make it at home and I believe it was a success! It is not difficult to make but it requires some advanced planning (preparing rice ahead of time, chopping vegetables, etc.) I think it was well worth the effort.

Ingredients:

5 cups cooked rice (I used a combination of brown and white rice but you can use what you prefer)

3/4 cup firm tofu, cut into small cubes and dried with a paper towel (feel free to omit or substitute chicken if you prefer)

1 and 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

4 Tablespoons peanut oil, sesame oil, or sunflower oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed with garlic press

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper

1/2 cup raisins

green onions, chopped

2 eggs

kosher salt and pepper

turmeric

curry powder

soy sauce

hot sauce (whatever you have on hand, I used Tapatio)

sprigs of fresh cilantro

lime wedges

Method

1. In a medium pan, heat oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add tofu. Stir fry for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Stir frequently and turn tofu with metal spatula if necessary. Set aside.

2. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil to prepared rice in a separate bowl and stir with hands to coat each grain (this prevents clumping and sticking when stir frying

3. Heat oil in a large pan or wok, add carrots, pineapple, bell pepper and stir fry for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned. Then add cashews, raisins, green onions and stir fry for additional minute or two.

4. Move mixture to one side of the pan as best as possible, add eggs and scramble in the pan. Once the egg has solidified some, stir to mix in with the remainder of the mixture.

5.Add cooked tofu (from step one). Add turmeric, curry powder, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and hot sauce to taste. (Use more for more intense flavor, use less for curry beginners- or omit curry if you are not a fan. It will still taste good without it.) Stir to spread evenly through rice. Use two large salad spoons for greater ease in mixing.

6. Serve with fresh cilantro and additional chopped green onions. Squeeze fresh lime juice from wedges just before enjoying!

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Belgian Waffles with Strawberry Sauce

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There are days when  you feel like a little variety. Although I love to cook, obsess over recipes, delight in family mealtimes, etc., there are days when I am unmotivated to cook. Breakfast for dinner is one way I quickly get over my cooking rut. I have a waffle iron and it has been sitting unused for quite some time. I took it out, dusted it off, recruited my husband ( he is the expert with pancakes, waffles, and French Toast) and made these. I found the recipe for the waffles on pinterest. Here is the link to the original recipe: http://www.motherthyme.com/2011/08/sunday-waffles.html

I adapted the recipe slightly (I didn’t add any cinnamon and used 2 percent milk instead of whole because that is all we had).

I also invented the strawberry sauce which turned out yummy and a variation on maple syrup. (We had to make these more special than breakfast frozen waffles we sometimes have).  The waffles turned out great! Everyone was happy. I even let the little ones eat dinner in pajamas to make it extra fun. Enjoy!

Waffles:

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups  milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
Mix ingredients together and follow the directions on your waffle iron for cooking. Keep waffles warm by placing them on a cookie sheet and covering them with foil in a low heat oven (100 degrees) until all the waffles are made and you are ready to eat.

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

1 T. butter

2 T. sugar

1 T. maple syrup

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat to a low boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour over waffles.
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