Happy Easter!!

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Happy Easter Everyone!!
I’ve been taking a little break from blogging, but I should be back to posting again soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this photo from the Easter Basket Cupcakes I made back in 2012.

Have a wonderful day!

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Favorite St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

Since St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you some of my very favorite St. Patrick’s Day treats that I’ve made throughout the years.

Have a wonderful weekend and a happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!

~Enjoy~
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Irish Cream Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

Irish Cream Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

Irish Cream Cupcakes

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups Irish Cream
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons milk
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cupcake tins or line with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In another medium bowl or measuring cup, combine Irish Cream, water and milk; mix well.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat well. Alternately add the flour mixture and Irish Cream mixture to the butter mixture. Beat for approximately 2 minutes.

Spoon batter into cupcake tins, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

Frost cooled cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting; if desired. (recipe below)

Makes approximately 30 cupcakes.



Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Irish Cream
3-4 drops green food coloring
decorative sprinkles

Directions:
Cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar; mix until completely combined. Add Irish Cream and food coloring; beat until well combined. If necessary, add more Irish Cream to thin or more powdered sugar to thicken frosting to desired texture.

Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with decorative sprinkles.



Pistachio Cake

Pistachio Cake

6 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
8 tablespoons water
1 (18-1/4 ounce) package yellow cake mix
2 (1 ounce) packages Fat-Free Sugar-Free Jell-O Instant Pistachio Pudding & Pie Filling Mix
1 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan.

Combine Ener-G Egg Replacer and the 8 tablespoons of water in a small glass or bowl. Mix well.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mixes, water, oil, and the egg mixture.
Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Yields 12 servings.



Homemade Irish Cream

Homemade Irish Cream

Homemade Irish Cream

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, or 14 ounces of homemade sweetened condensed milk (recipe below)
1 1/2 cups Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high power for about 20-30 seconds.
Store tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Shake well before using.

Makes approximately 25.4 fluid ounces.



Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cup cold water
1 1⁄3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
In a medium bowl, stir milk into cold water. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir in sugar & vanilla extract. Refrigerate and cool before using.

Yields approximately 1 and 1/3 cups.



Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add dry ingredients, alternating with milk, and mix until just blended.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 6-7 minutes, until cakes spring back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 2 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire racks to cool completely.

Match cakes in pairs so tops and bottoms are similar in shape. Spread bottoms with Mint Cream Filling, recipe below, and cover with top.

Makes 18 whoopie pies.



Mint Cream Filling

6 tablespoons butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
4-5 drops green food coloring
3-4 tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, mint extract, food coloring, and milk. Mix until smooth. Spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.



Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Irish Cream
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and egg together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and Irish Cream; mix until combined.

Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture and blend well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass coated with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Mexican Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Mexican Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Mexican Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Now that all the Valentine’s Day candy and goodies have been consumed, and I’ve done enough exercise to work off the extra pounds I gained, I can turn my attention back to baking up some more treats.

It’s pretty chilly outside this morning, so I’m cranking up the heat with these Mexican Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies. I love a cookie with a kick, and that’s exactly what these spicy, chocolaty gems are. These cookies have a delightfully crisp exterior, and a moist and chewy center. When you bite into the cookie, you first experience the chocolate and cinnamon flavors mingling and dancing on your tongue, but as you continue to chew, you begin to taste a bit of heat from the cayenne and cinnamon spices.

If you are planning to share these with the kids, or if you want a cookie with a little less heat, you can certainly adjust the amount of cayenne pepper you mix into the cookie dough; lowering the amount by half or more, to mellow them out a bit.

~Enjoy~
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Mexican Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (10 ounce) package Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with baking spray, or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and beat on low speed until thoroughly combined. Fold in the cinnamon chips.

Form the dough into 1 inch balls. Place approximately 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until cookies are just set. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Red Velvet and Strawberry Mini Cakes

Red Velvet and Strawberry Mini Cakes

Red Velvet and Strawberry Mini Cakes

Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope you are all enjoying your day, whether you’re spending it with a loved one, or treating yourself to something special.

Today, I thought I would share with you the special treat I made for my sweetie this year – Red Velvet and Strawberry Mini Cakes. I love how cute these little cakes look, with their layer of red velvet and layer of pink strawberry cake. I purposely decided against frosting the entire cake, so the red and pink colors could stand out.

These mini cakes do take a bit of time to prepare and assemble, but they are definitely worth all the hard work. I did however find myself running out of time, and I had to cheat a bit and use a boxed cake mix for the strawberry layer, but I don’t think my guy will mind.

I was able to sneak a small taste while I was assembling these pretty little cakes, so I can tell you that they are incredibly delicious and incredibly rich. This is one Valentine’s Day dessert that is sure to get my sweetie’s taste buds dancing.

~Enjoy~
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Red Velvet and Strawberry Mini Cakes

Strawberry Cake:
1 (18.25 oz) box strawberry cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one large cookie sheet or sheet pan.
Blend cake mix, water, oil and eggs in large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Remove pan to wire rack and cool completely.

Red Velvet Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
1 ounce red food coloring

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one large cookie sheet or sheet pan.
In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a glass measuring cup, combine milk and lemon juice. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and water.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture; beat until combined. Stir in food coloring until color is evenly distributed. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Remove pan to wire rack and cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk.

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition.
Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk; continue beating.
Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar, one at a time.
Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of milk, until desired consistency is reached.

Chocolate Glaze
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Directions:
Combine butter, milk and cocoa powder in a small saucepan; bring to a boil stirring constantly. When mixture begins to boil, remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Stir in vanilla and corn syrup.
Let glaze cool slightly before drizzling over dessert.

Assemble the mini cakes:
With a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut circles from cooled strawberry and red velvet cakes.
Place red velvet cake circles on a sheet of parchment or wax paper.
Spread top of red velvet cake circle with buttercream frosting.
Place strawberry cake circles on top of frosting, pressing down slightly.
Spread a thin layer of buttercream frosting on top of strawberry cake circles.
Drizzle chocolate glaze over top of mini cakes.

Makes approximately 15 mini cakes.

Not Your Typical January

Chugach Mountain Range - January 28, 2014

Chugach Mountain Range – January 28, 2014

It is still January, right?? I just wanted to check, because it sure does not feel like a typical January here in Alaska. Our high temperatures have been in the 40′s for quite a while now, and much of the snow that we had has been melting. Green grass can even be seen in several spots throughout town.

The weather forecasters are saying that our 40 degree weather is coming to an end, and the high temperature should drop back down to the 30′s and maybe even the 20′s. However, there doesn’t appear to be any snowfall predicted in the near future. This is quite a change from our typical January weather.

I took a picture of the Chugach Mountain Range (above) on January 28, 2014. As you can see, there is not a lot of snow covering the mountains.

In contrast, I took a picture of the same mountain range (below) on January 26, 2013. Now this is what we are used to seeing this time of year, completely snow-covered mountains.

Chugach Mountain Range - January 26, 2013

Chugach Mountain Range – January 26, 2013

Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way complaining about the warm weather we’ve been having. In fact, it feels really good to be able to leave a window cracked open and let a breeze in without freezing to death. I just think it rather strange that while we are having a mild Winter, the East Coast of the United States seems to be getting pummeled with snow.

Well, maybe next year things will get back to normal. Although, I sure wouldn’t mind having another mild Winter like this one. What do you say East Coast, would you like to have another cold and snowy Winter next year? Just kidding – or am I? :)

I’ll leave you today with a picture of green grass and melting snow.

~Enjoy~
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Green grass and melting snow

Green grass and melting snow

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