Category Archives: Cooking, Baking & Recipes

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

mint

Ryan loves mint chocolate chip ice cream. So, when I saw a picture of this cake on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it for him. Of course, when his Birthday came around I couldn’t find this cake on Pinterest anymore so I just googled “Mint Chocolate Chip Cake” and sorted through a few recipes until I found one that looked appetizing and most importantly, easy!

This recipe is mostly slightly adapted from Meg’s Everyday Indulgence.

I have to admit, I did use a box mix for the cake. I know. But, I always trust Duncan Hines Cake Mixes because it has the best texture and the best flavor. Also, I am not so good at baking. I did not want to ruin this cake by over cooking, undercooking, forgetting, adding too much… you get the picture. This was the safest way to ensure a delicious tasting cake (not too safe, I have messed up box mixes a few times). So, I’m sorry but, I did. And, it was amazing.

MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

2- 10×2 Round Cake Pans (If you do not own this size pan, buy one (or two)! It makes every cake look amazing. )

*If using 8-9in pans, follow recipe on link above.

Cake:

2 Boxes of Duncan Hines Classic Devil Food Cake

 6 Eggs

 2 C Water

 2/3 C Oil

  1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F . GREASE sides and bottom of each pan with shortening or oil spray. FLOUR lightly.
  2. BLEND cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large bowl at low speed until moistened (about 30 seconds). BEAT at medium speed for 2 minutes. POUR batter in pans and bake immediately.
  3. BAKE about 40 minute. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. COOL in pan for about 10 minutes. Dump cake onto wire rack to complete cooling process.

Frosting:

1 ½ C salted butter, slightly softened

1 ½ lb of powdered sugar

2 tbsp of peppermints extract (add by the ½ tsp to achieve desired taste if necessary)

¾ C milk

1 11.5 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels

½ tsp green food coloring (adjust coloring by the drop if necessary)­

  1. In mixer, beat butter, powdered sugar and ½ C of milk for 3-5 minutes, until smooth and creamy (only add remaining ½ C milk if texture seems too thick). Add peppermint extract and food coloring, mix until fully blended. Fold in chocolate chips.
  2. Frost cooled cake. Place icing in between cakes then frost the top and sides. See picture below.

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Ganache:

3/4 cup heavy cream 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

  1. Heat 3/4 cup heavy cream in saucepan. Bring just to a boil and remove from heat. Place chocolate chips in a bowl with extract and then slowly add in hot cream. Stir until smooth and completely combined (you’ll want to use a wisk). Pour ganache over frosted cake and allow ganache to drip down the sides naturally (I used a spoon to help spread across the top).

photo 3

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EAT AND ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know you will.

Make sure you have milk.

=)

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Homemade Crock-Pot Sloppy Joe

This is a delicious alternative to the ever so popular Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I like the stuff but I am going for a healthier less processed lifestyle. Pretty much everything you eat, you can make from scratch and it is instantly healthier. Tweeking a few of the ingredients and choosing healthier substitutes also cuts down on calories.

I made this for dinner last night. Everyone loved it. The kids ate it, so it is a WINNER!

Did I mention that I LOVE Crock-Pot meals? It makes life so much easier.

HOMEMADE CROCK-POT SLOPPY JOE

sloppy-joe2

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 lb ground turkey (or beef)

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp of Worsteshire sauce (I used A1 because that is what I had)

1 tbsp steak seasoning

4 whole wheat Sandwich Thins

BBQ sauce (I use Stubb’s  Origional but anything will do)

DIRECTIONS:

Place a layer of foil on the bottom of your Crock (I do this because it cuts down on clean-up time).

Start layering and evenly distributing ingredients to the Pot starting with meat on the bottom (hold off on BBQ).

Cook on low heat for three to four hours or until meat is cooked all the way through (My slow-cooker cooks things a lot quicker than most so cook times may very).

When meat is finished, stir everything together very well as to make sure meat is chopped, separated and evenly coated with flavor.

Add BBQ to flavor. I drizzled a little bit to add just a tad of zest. Obviously you can add as little or as much as you would like.

*After adding BBQ, I let my meat simmer on the warm setting for 5-10 minutes just to ensure flavor was well blended.

Spoon meat onto Thins and enjoy!

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Recipe slightly adapted from Rachel Ray’s Super Sloppy Joe’s.

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How To Organize Your Fridge

We had to buy a new refrigerator. Ours died. It is one of those purchases that you just LOVE having to buy right before the Holidays. Ah, life, always keeping us on our toes.

Anyhow,  other than the fact that I was not happy to have had to buy a new one, I am really obsessed with it. Love it. I give it hugs sometimes. Ryan thinks I am weird. I am not sure if it is the fridge or the fact I have never owned anything so nice and shiny before?

So, when I had to re-stock my fridge it got me thinking, “where the heck do I put everything”? I know there has to be a more functional place to put things in comparison to the way I have been doing it.

I posed the question to my Aunt who has the same fridge and she said she was wondering the same thing so she looked it up. I haven’t looked it up, I just took her word for it. Our new fridge has a place to put milk on the door but I didn’t want to do that because I was used to putting it on a shelf and I wanted to keep my dressings on the shelf (read that sentence with a whiney voice). “That is exactly what you are supposed to do!” she said. Hooray! HaHa.

Apparently this is how you should do things (it makes sense to me!):

fridge

The bottom of the fridge is the coldest so things that would spoil should go down there (milk, sour cream, yogurt…). The middle is where you keep your eggs so that little hands can’t reach them.  The top shelf you keep your sauces and other things that might need to be refrigerated but might not necessarily go bad if you keep them out. The doors hold dressings, jams, jellies. They aren’t effected by the change in temperature from opening and closing the doors.

The other random refrigerator factoid I happen to remember learning in school is that you should always defrost meat on the bottom shelf because if it leaks and drips down your fridge, you will have to throw everything it touches away in case it has salmonella. If you keep it on the bottom shelf there is less of a chance to ruin your other food (and again, it is coldest down there).

My new fridge has a separate temperature gauge for the drawers. I am excited about this because my fruit and veggies were always freezing up in my other fridge. Weird.

Ok. Well. Now you know. Cuz’ I know you were really wondering about this!

=)

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A Light Spin on Shepard’s Pie

When I am trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I think about what meat I have in my freezer; usually chicken, beef or ground turkey. I probably have about 10-15 “go-to” recipes I make but when I have either exhausted them or am missing half of the ingredients, I look to my good old friend (The Internet) to help me with some home-cooked inspiration. I say inspiration because I honestly rarely ever follow a recipe word for word (or ingredient for ingredient). I find something that looks appealing, use the main ingredients that I have and just throw in whatever else I can find in my cupboard.

I go grocery shopping about every two weeks so you can imagine that meal making at the end of those two weeks is a bit grim. I have to pull out all of the stops. Last week was one of those weeks and I found a recipe on skinnytaste.com for a light (meaning healthier) Shepard’s Pie that looked amazing. So, I made a few (lots) of changes and it turned out extremely delicious… that is why I am sharing it with you. You have to make it (my version). I also believe that my version might be a tad healthier. WooHoo!

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I am going to call this one JANET’S SHEPARD PIE! So original.

Serving: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1lb Lean Ground Turkey
  • 4 Russett Potatoes
  • Mild Cheddar Shredded Cheese (a handful  is good enough)
  • 1/2 Small Yellow Onion
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Olive Oil
  • Montreal Chicken Seasoning

Directions:

Place potatoes on microwave safe plate. Slice a line on the top of each potato. Microwave for 10 minutes or until fully cooked.

Preheat oven to 400.

Coat bottom of saute pan with 1 tsp of Olive Oil and brown your meat. While meat is cooking,  season with pepper, rosemary, Montreal seasoning and balsamic dressing (I would add just enough dressing to moisten it up). When finished, remove from heat, drain fat (if any) and set aside.

Dice your 1/2 onion and throw into a small saute pan. Add a dash of olive oil and saute on medium heat until tender. Add to meat mixture.

When Potatoes are finished cooking, remove skin and cut them into cubes (you should be able to easily peel off the skin).

Layer meat mixture into an 8×8 baking dish and top with potatoes. Sprinkle top of potatoes with salt and cheese.

Place in oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted on top.

Serve with a side of string beans or vegetable medley. Frozen… not canned. Yuck!

 

 

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Red Velvet Trifle

Super easy, semi-homemade, Red Velvet Trifle.

Delicious!

I made it for Christmas.

And, sorry I am not a good food photographer. ; )

 Ingredients:

2 Boxes of Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake

1 Box Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix

1 Milk Chocolate Hershey Bar

1 Duncan Hines Cream Cheese Frosting

Milk (dash)

 Directions:

  • Prepare Red Velvet Cake and Cheesecake according to written instructions on the box (exclude cheesecake crust).
  • Cut cake into cubes and layer bottom of your trifle.
  • Top bottom layer of cake with one serving of cheesecake.
  • Using a potato pealer, shave chocolate bar on top of cheesecake mixture.
  • Continue layering until you get to the top, leaving the top finished with cake (two layers of cheesecake, three layers of cake).
  • Empty contents of frosting into a separate, small mixing bowl.
  • Add a dash of milk to frosting and mix with hand mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
  • Spread whipped icing to finish top of trifle.
  • Top with chocolate shavings.

Notes:

I kept cheesecake mixture in the mixing bowl (instead of pie plate like recipe suggests) and put it in the fridge until I was ready to layer. Use a 9×13 pan for baking the Red Velvet Cake. Do not get off-brand frosting. I have not found ANY cream cheese icing that is better than Duncan Hines (in fact, they are all terrible). Let sit out for 15 min or so before serving.

Bon Apetit!

t1

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Chicken & Cheese Pretzel Wraps

You know when it is time to make dinner but you haven’t been shopping and you are just trying to find something edible to eat?

Yeah, that is how this meal came to fruition.

This recipe is SUPER easy and it was inspired by one of my favorite OC joints; The Wraper.

I didn’t use a formal recipe for this, I just made it up.

Please don’t make fun. This is all I had in my fridge. Feel free to adjust whatever you want.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Chicken Strips
  • 3 String Cheeses
  • Chicken Seasoning
  • 1 Roll of Pre-made Pretzel Dough

Preparation:

  • Season chicken and bake at 350 for about 20 mins.
  • While chicken is cooking, cut string cheese into halves.
  • When chicken is ready, place one half of string cheese on top of  chicken strip.
  • Turn oven up to 400.
  • When chicken has cooled to the touch, pick up chicken with your thumb on cheese and pointer on other side of chicken.
  • Begin wrapping chicken with pretzel dough starting from the top to the bottom.
  • Place on greased cookie sheet about one inch apart.
  • Using a spray bottle of water or spray butter, lightly coat each wrap.
  • Place in oven for 9-12 min or until golden brown.

yield: 6

A Final Note:

I wanted to use shredded cheese but it turns out that the string cheese was easier to wrap. Win!

I did one wrap with leftover Philly Cheese Steak filling I made last night and instead of wrapping it, I flattened the dough, placed the mix in the middle and then pinched the dough at the top. You can see an example in the picture above.

The pretzel dough (which I got from Aldi’s) came with pretzel salt. I wouldn’t advise using it. I used just a pinch on each one and it really didn’t need it.

Bon Appetit!

Tip Junkie handmade projects

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Super Easy Homemade Fruit Pocket Pies

For some reason this morning I was motivated to make breakfast. Well, a homemade breakfast. I usually do make breakfast (if you count instant oatmeal and cereal).

This was SO SO simple, Lucy and I had it made and out of the oven before 8am.

I got this recipe from the Today Show. Click on the link for the formal Fruit Pocket recipe and video.

 You can find my variation of the recipe below.

Homemade Fruit Pockets

 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup fresh raspberries, strawberries and/or blueberries
  • cinnamon sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. smashed apple jam, apple butter or apple sauce
  • 12 slices  soft whole wheat bread
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash berries and spread to dry on paper towels.
 
 Trim crusts from bread using a serrated knife.
 
For each pie, spoon 1 tablespoon of smashed apple jam, jelly or sauce in the center of a bread slice. Top with 3 to 4 berries and another slice of bread. Gently press the top slice around the fruit.
 
Using a fork, press the edges of the bread together to seal in the filling. Lightly brush the top slice of bread with  oil. Pick up each pie and, while holding in your hand, lightly brush the opposite side with oil. Place pies on an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar.
 
Bake pies for 18 to 20 minutes or until bread is lightly toasted and bottoms are browned. Cool before serving.
 

Makes 6 servings.

Tips:

I used unsweetened apple sauce and fresh-cut strawberries as my filling. I didn’t have to prepare anything. Ryan thought it was good but thinks it would have been better if I had used a jam or preserve, or maybe a cream cheese type filling. I agree, but I was looking for a healthier recipe and in this case, a cream cheese filling would have totally blown that.

                        

 

I’m kinda getting better at this baking thing…

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