Monday, February 25, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes

I've been searching for a rich, dedadent chocolate cake for a while. I like my family cake recipe, but it's not nearly rich enough for my liking. A few weeks ago, I made Giada's Mascarpone Cupcakes with Strawberry Glaze and noticed that the mascarpone cheese made the cake much richer than traditional white cake. So, I decided to try it out with a chocolate cake mix. The results were pretty good. It was richer and better tasting than your average chocolate cake, but still not quite rich enough. Thus, my search continues.

8 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 cup), softened
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 cup water
Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffins tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, egg whites and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until combined and creamy. Add the cake mix and water and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Fill the cups to just below the rim and bake until puffed and golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly in the tin then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack.

After cooled, frost with chocolate frosting.

Recipe from my mom

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix together sugars & cream over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, keep boiling and stir for exactly one minute.

Remove from heat, add chocolate chips, and cover. Do not stir yet.

Wait approximately 20 minutes, and then remove lid and stir. Keep uncovered.

Keep stirring at approximately 20-minute intervals until the frosting thickens to your desired consistency (this usually takes about 40 minutes).

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I've been tagged again. Rachel from Good Thymes & Good Food got me. So, here goes.


1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

5 Facts about Me:

1. I desperately want to move to Ireland.
2. I have two cats, both are named after Supreme Court justices.
3. I have a somewhat unnatural love for Orange Chicken from Panda Express. Unfortunately, the only ones near me are at malls. Sometimes I go to the mall just for the chicken.
4. I recently discovered mascarpone cheese. I can't get enough.
5. My office is right behind a strip club.

5 Tagged People:
1. Anne at Well That Would Be Telling.
2. Carrie at Carrie's Cooking Creations.
3. Samantha at Sweet Sam.
4. Christine at Foods for the Kid and Us.
5. Jennyfer at Jennyfer's Culinary Creations.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Foodies, I need your help

A couple nights ago, I made a dish called "Chicken Romanoff." It was decent, but missing something. I can't for the life of me figure out what that something might be. This is where you come in. Any suggestions how to improve this recipe will be greatly appreciated.

5 cups medium egg noodles

2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 2% cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon onion flakes (I used finely diced onion)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (I used some minced garlic)

1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Cook noodles in boiling salted water in large uncovered saucepan or Dutch oven for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain. Return to same saucepan.

Add next 9 ingredients. Stir. Transfer to greased 3 quart casserole.

Sprinkle with second amount of Cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, in 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes until heated through.

Monday, February 11, 2008


On Friday, I got a huge craving for manicotti. So, I discussed it with the husband, and decided Sunday was the day. I've made it several times before, and each time I make it, I think I like it better. There's a bit of prep work, but the results are worth it.

Excuse the poor quality - my digital camera is out of batteries
so I had to use my camera phone

Recipe from my mother-in-law
*Serves about 10-12*

1 box manicotti shells
2 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (I use the 5-cheese blend)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup Ricotta cheese (whole milk variety)
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded Paresan cheese
Marinara sauce (no set amount, but a lot. You can use jarred, but I recommend this recipe.

Par cook noodles (about 5 min). Drain, but do not rinse.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all cheeses and egg in a bowl. Stuff noodles and place in a 9x13 pan.

Cover with sauce and bake for 1 hour (45 min covered and 15 min covered).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Parmesan Chicken & Rice

Tonight was a simple night. A simple chicken & rice dish from Cooking Light was the ticket. I liked that when I was done cooking, I had one pan and one spoon.

Photo from www.

Parmesan Chicken & Rice
From: Cooking Light
*Serves 4*

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms (I omitted)
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add chicken; sauté 4 minutes or until the chicken is lightly browned. Add wine, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.

Stir in rice and broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in cheese and parsley.

Enchilada Time

This recipe is probably the very first recipe I ever made up. In law school, my roommate and I were at the grocery store one day and very hungry for Mexican food. Unfortunately, neither of us could cook very well, so we were stuck strolling through the quasi-pre-packaged meals, and stumbled upon an enchilada kit. It was tasty, but seemed like I could make them up better and cheaper. So, in a sincere procrastination effort, I started experimenting. Foodies might scoff at this recipe, but I love it.

Chicken Enchiladas
My own creation
*Makes 5-6 Enchiladas

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (I've also used leftover Rotisserie chicken, even ground beef)
~1/2 jar queso dip (you can make your own, but I like the texture of Tostitos brand best)
~1/3 - 1/2 jar chunky salsa
Enchilada size tortillas (I like "Mission" brand)
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook 2 chicken breasts (I do this on the George Foreman Grill). Cut into large cubes or strips. Transfer to a medium pan. Add approximately 1/2 jar of queso dip and 1/3 - 1/2 jar of salsa. Mix together until warm.

Grease a 9x13 pan. Fill the tortillas with the chicken/cheese filling and roll up. Do this till you're out of chicken filling. Top with any remaining cheese sauce and a few spoonfuls of salsa. Cover all with shredded cheese.

Bake approximately 15 min or until cheese is bubbly.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Flaming Pasta

I found this recipe on allrecipes a while ago and had been meaning to make it, simply because the recipe calls for you to light the sauce on fire. Finally, my husband bought brandy at the liquor store at a time we had all the remaining ingredients. It was time. Overall, the recipe wasn't anything truly fantastic - in fact, it tasted a lot like Alfredo sauce. However, I'd recommend making it simply because you get to light it on fire. Let's face it, that's just fun.

This photo is supposed to show the "flaming" part -
unfortunately, my camera didn't pick up on that too well.

Brandied Chicken with Pasta
Serves 4

1 package (16 oz) dry fettuccini
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb chicken, cut into large cubes
1 small onion, diced fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brandy
2 large tomatoes, diced (I omitted)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente; drain.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until no longer pink. Stir in onions, garlic, and brandy. Carefully ignite the brandy with a match (we used a grill starter). Cook 2 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes and cook 2 minutes.

Stir in wine and butter, and season with basil, salt & pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan. Toss with pasta until evenly coated.

Friday, February 1, 2008


I love using fresh basil in my cooking, but it always goes bad before I can use it all. In turn, I ed up throwing out way too much basil.

Last time I was at Trader Joe's, I found they had little packets of frozen fresh basil cubes, just like their frozen garlic cubes. I decided to give it a shot. I've been using it in my Italian cooking over the past couple weeks and I can't taste any major differences - and the convenience can't be beat.

You should check it out.

Marinara Sauce

I recently checked out an America's Test Kitchen cookbook from the library. I liked it so much that I had to buy a copy for myself.

America's Test Kitchen seems to have a very simple mission - to make basic foods that taste really good. It gives product reviews telling you which brands of store-bought foods are the best to use, and what brands equipment are the best. I decided to start incorporating their tips into my own cooking. My first attempt was the marinara sauce. I decided to pull out all the stops and use all their recommended ingredients - including mincing my own whole garlic cloves instead of the jarred stuff and using their recommended brand of canned tomato. The results were great. I'd make this recipe again any time.

Marinara Sauce
From: The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen Organic)
1 (14.5-oz) can tomato sauce (Muir Glen Organic)
3 TBSP minced fresh basil
1/4 tsp sugar

Cook the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until fragrant, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook about 15-20 minutes.

Stir in the basil and sugar. Season with salt to taste.