December 9, 2011

It's that magical time of year where we celebrate all the many gifts in our lives. One of my favorite things to anytime of year is spend time with family, laughing, catching up and even baking together with all those wonderful smells from the oven surrounding us. With Christmas it's even more special...coming up is our annual cookie baking day, can't wait! Since it's been a while, here's something I wrote earlier this year as a guest on Frosting for the Cause... a story about strength...with a cupcake recipe weaved in -- Here as my gift to you. Enjoy.


Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes w/Raspberry Frosting

Isn’t it amazing, all the ingredients of life we’re each presented with?  Often it seems that challenges can make us stronger and sweeter and so many other wonderful things… unexpectedly.
And we all know there is the alternative, where the same ingredients in life don’t end up the same way from one person to the next.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. The beauty, spirit, strength, faith and love I see surface in women and men faced with adversity or those standing up to make a difference against challenges others are faced with.  These are we all know and love dearly, people we simply know of, people we run across here and there…people with such big hearts, people like Paula. I am so blessed to be able to guest blog on her site today.
So just like (well not just like, but sorta like) the ingredients in life…measured, mixed right, contemplated, tasted and experienced, the individual ingredients in baking can make something lovely and beautiful with frosting on top.   Today I made cupcakes, sour cream chocolate cupcakes to be specific… with a yummy raspberry cream cheese frosting.
I make them in honor of all of those who have allowed their beauty, spirit, strength, faith and love to surface. I think of my aunt, a breast cancer survivor with an incredible spirit.  I think of my amazing sister, my hero, she is a police officer who risks her life every day and who also does so much to raise money to bring a cure to breast cancer.  I think of her sweet friend and colleague who also risks her life on duty and is training like crazy for the Komen 3-day in San Diego this year (on a fantastically lively named team “Protect and Serve the Tatas” no less).  I think of a dear friend of the family who just this week underwent surgery for breast cancer, and who WILL be a survivor. I think of a former colleague of mine who after surviving breast cancer 15 years ago went on to contribute an incredible amount of her time and talent to the cause.
They are all stronger and sweeter and so many other wonderful things….
Very soon I’ll be bringing these little sweet bites of chocolate and raspberries over to breast cancer survivors who volunteer at Komen San Diego. I hope they enjoy them…and that you do too.
Recipe Adapted from “Cupcakes!” by Elinor Klivans (First, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this cookbook, please do.  Such a fun read…that is in addition to the delicious photos and great recipes. Note the title of the chapter “Making Good Cupcakes”, love the directness of that!  )
Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting
“This batter produces a light, moist dark chocolate cupcake. As all good basic chocolate cupcakes should“
Makes enough batter for 18 regular cupcakes
* 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* ½ teaspoon baking powder
* ½ teaspoon baking soda
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1¼ cups sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup sour cream
* ½ cup water
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the melted chocolate. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter. Add the vanilla and beat until the mixture looks creamy and the color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. Mix in the water. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. The batter is ready to bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Check with toothpick at 15 minutes.
And now for my slight variation on the frosting.
Raspberry Cream Cheese frosting
4 oz cream cheese
½ cup butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup pureed and strained raspberries ( I used frozen)
½ teaspoon almond extract
Mix butter and cream cheese until well blended, Add the extract, then the sugar a little at a time. When all combined and smooth add the raspberries. Refrigerate a little for easier piping.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

October 2, 2011


This is Margarita. Isn't she lovely....

And this is what she taught me how to make today. Deliciously fantastic sopes!

Margarita's husband, is a dear friend of Chef, he considers them family.

And it's easy to see why....
They not only have hearts of gold, but they share so much warmth. They are my family now too...I am so very proud to say!!

And what better to do with family, than enjoy each other's company and cook some delicious Sopes.  When Margarita offered to show me how to make them, well suffice to say that I jumped at the chance. Actually, Chef's sisters and I all jumped at the chance. :)

So, Margarita, showed us how to measure the Maseca (pour it all in)
-and the water (that seems to be enough)
-and add the salt (a big mixing spoon full)

She knew exactly how much of each ingredient to add, and with a big smile and lots of patience showed us how to mix it, form the masa and cook them.

I started to take notes but hands on worked much better and in no time the four of us make a huge batch of deliciousness called Sopes. Yummmmm...and chef approved :)
I don't have an exact recipe to share, but did find this from the Maseca website, which seems pretty much in line with what we did.  So here is is, sharing what was shared with me, with love...

Enjoy! -- We did that's for sure :)

4 cups MASECA Amarilla® corn masa flour
2½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt

Combine MASECA Amarilla, water, and salt and knead for five minutes or until masa is no longer sticky. Divide into 20 small balls. Flatten into thick tortillas approximately three inches in diameter. On a hot skillet or griddle, cook each sope for one minute and then turn; cook until golden. Repeat with remaining masa balls.

Hold each sope with side first cooked facing up; pinch edges to make a border. Be careful as sopes will be hot. Cover with a cloth to keep sopes warm and moist. Oh, and I forgot the last step! Heat up a frying pan, medium heat is fine, brush or sprinkle a little bit of cooking oil on the bottom and top of the sopas and heat up on each side. They'll have more crispness and be a tad bit darker. Serve warm. Top with beans, meat, cheese, etc

August 25, 2011

Frosting for the Cause...

Frosting?! Yes please! I'm in.
Sharing something sweet with others? You know I'm in.
Help bring awareness to cancer impacting women? I'm sooooo in.

I'm so blessed to able to be a guest today at Frosting For The cause. And am so touched by my introduction by Paula...a heartfelt thank you Paula for all you do in baking for a difference.

She started a site where each day  in 2011 bakers/decorators and bloggers from across Canada and the United States are taking turns guest posting. Once a day, every day for a!   Guest bloggers bake and share their recipe, donate to an organization that  is working toward a cure for women's cancers, and share their frosted goodies with a woman's hospice, hospital or supporting organization. .By the end of the year  over nine thousand dollars would have been raised for research into these diseases. So glad to have been a part of this sweetness....

The "ingredients" for Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting  are at

August 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

On my self enabled break after work last night, that break after work and before the many things I should be tackling at home, I was perusing food blogs -- one of the things I sometimes do to destress and declutter my mind from the fullness of an especially busy workday. Last night's experience was different though, something stopped me in my tracks and everywhere I looked there were photos of peanut butter pies...and with them an outpouring of love that left a huge lump in my throat.

There are many things in life that make us pause and think about the people in our lives who we love so dearly. And how important it is to cherish every moment.  Our family experienced that recently.  I don't know Jennie, but my heart is breaking for her -- her husband Mikey passed away suddenly and I am so incredibly touched by her love for her husband and the warmth and support being offered to her...the show of love in something as simple as a Peanut Butter Pie in hundreds of blogs around the world.

in her blog, she said
"... I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow. Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I'm waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on." says it so well, and they shared a video that is incredibly touching can watch their video here.

I pray that the many tributes being shared, along with the love help to bring healing to Jennie...and that it reminds us to hug those we love like there is no tomorrow.

August 9, 2011

Cake experimentation

So when my sister asked me to help make a birthday cake for my adorable nephew and his wife, I went right into research mode. Those of you who know me aren't too surprised about that now are you? :) It was to be a carrot cake, no nuts thank you. So off to the web and fellow blogger sites I went....and to my sweet chef of course.  I think I found "the recipe" to try, with wonderful additions such as pureed pineapple, what a fun experiment in the works. But  the request soon changed. "Can you make a Tres Leches cake instead?" Yes! (well I'll try).  I've been wanting to make one for a very long time.  

First of all, here is that adorable nephew of mine and his equally adorable wife when presented with their cake. Sweet huh!

I decided to try Pioneer Woman's recipe. If you haven't been to her blog you're really missing out. Check out her Tres Leche's Cake recipe here and hang out a bit on her site, you'll see why. That was one of the first food blogger sites I ventured into...her wit, humor and well the fantastic recipes kept me going back. 

The birthday boy and girl said the cake was great. But it didn't quite have that wow I was expecting.  
Yes it was fun to make.... 

...and very tasty. 

But not quite the fantastic moist milky goodness I expected. Hey there were TRES milks in that cake, well CUATRO if you count the regular milk baked into the cake, so milky goodness isn't too much to ask for right. :) The recipe calls for pouring all but one cup of the milk blend over a baked cake...but I think it really could have used that extra cup afterall.  So a good cake yes, and definitely a recipe I would try again with some modification (more milk, a slightly smaller pan, double layer maybe)...we'll see. So glad they liked it,  but a little more experimenting sounds just about right, and right up my alley.

June 8, 2011

Peanut Buttery Goodness

It's common knowledge....for those who know my mom that is, that there is ONE kind of cookie that is almost always in her cookie jar. And when it's not, well let's just say she quickly takes care of that. :) 
 It's the special one my grandpa taught her how to make when she was little. My mom got assigned this recipe by her father, and her sister was tasked with another (yummy chocolate chip). As little girls, each of them memorized their specific cookie recipe so they could make them for their daddy whenever it was their turn. Adorable right?!
And while it seems like a simple recipe, to a young girl it was quite an accomplishment I'm sure! My mom still uses many of her dad's recipes including his fantastically flaky pie crust good in fact that a chef I know (ahem) asked for the recipe after tasting one of her pies -- an upcoming post I promise.

So for my son's birthday I knew I had to mail him "the" Peanut Butter Cookies she makes. I topped each one with a little Reese's piece before baking, simply because hey it's cute. 

...and them stacked them into a Jif peanut butter jar for mailing.  This Peanut Buttery goodness is just one of the things he will see when he opens his "birthday in a box" this year...and is by far the yummiest gift in that little box. Enjoy my sweet boy -- Happy 24th birthday!

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 c butter (can use shortening but why when you can use butter?)
1c peanut butter
1c sugar
1c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 c flour
1t baking powder
1t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Mix butter and sugars well, add in eggs and mix well. In separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients (umm I just piled them on top of the sugar mixture...oops) and then add both mixtures together until just combined. Do not over mix. Roll into balls or use a cookie scoop. Place on cookie sheet and press with fork.
Bake 375 for approx 12 minutes (or much less for a softer chewier cookie). 
Mom's delish add-ins: Mix in 1 pkg of choc chips and 1 pkg peanut butter chips. You'll be happy you did. :) 

May 30, 2011

No Kid Hungry...

I remember what it's like, being hungry that is, and sometimes standing in the free food lines as a little girl with my sisters and brother...government cheese isn't too bad really. I remember our nice landlord, when rent was hard to come by for my parents, who just knew and would bring bags of food for us. I remember us being so excited to cook up some concoction on our little red propane coleman stove, even tho we were so aware that having no electricity was somehow different from our friends' lives. I remember always having love, and each matter what. And  for those people who reached out a helping hand to me and my family when I was a little girl....I remember.  And for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know if I could ever give back enough, but in any small way I can I will always try....

Even in this little way, big things can happen to help hungry children.  Today I took the "No Kid Hungry" pledge at the Share Our Strength site. And will continue to remember....

Take the No Kid Hungry Pledge

I believe that no child in America should go hungry. By pledging today, I add my voice to the national movement of people committed to ending childhood hunger in America.

May 16, 2011


I found out about this incredible organization from Chef (aka my husband). :)   He was very blessed to be able to participate yesterday in preparing the meal for their Prom.  

ADONAI is a non-profit Christian organization that strives to help families that have a child with cancer or other life-threatening disease. From their website it appears they bring a lot to these families...including having fun.  And a prom, well what could be more fun that that?

 And it's more than just the meal, they.... 
"..collect gently used prom dresses & then host several "shopping days" for girls, moms, grandmas, & sisters to acquire a beautiful dress for our special night. Our families are given the royal treatment by our volunteers. The day begins with teams of volunteers styling hair, painting finger nails and make-up artists doing their make-up. The night consists of photographers taking family photos, boutonnieres, corsages, dinner, dancing, dance lessons, gifts for everyone & lots of door prizes. We have a crowd of 300 with a team of 75 volunteers to make this a very memorable night to our families.

What a blessing for my Chef to have been part of that night....

May 14, 2011

Sharing Muddy Buddies

I so enjoy making things for those I love, friends, and anyone else who I might find along the way. And my work peeps are no exception of course  So when the monthly birthday shin-dig came along this last week at work I decided to make one of my boys' (and their friends) favorites when they were all hanging around my house when they were younger. Muddy Buddies. I only had to run out to buy the chex cereal and in less than 15 minutes an easy to make and addicting snack. Hope you enjoy making them and sharing them as much as I do.....

9 cups Chex cereal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (I just estimate and pour)

Pour cereal into large bowl; set aside. In 1-quart, microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate chips, peanut butter and margarine. Microwave at 100-percent power for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring after 1 minute.  Stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate sauce slowly over cereal, stirring to coat evenly. Pour cereal into large plastic bag (I double up on the bag just in case). Add powdered sugar and secure; shake to coat well. Spread on waxed paper to cool.

I found this on a back of the chex cereal box years might see it there still. But it's floating around everyone online too with variations like using nutella instead of peanut butter and other creative edits. I'd love to hear how you you change them up and how you like them. :) Enjoy...

May 5, 2011


Goodness in a stick! I was on the hunt for a birthday cake "cakepop" and this one did the trick....from "The Girl Who Ate Everything" blog and the Cake Truffles are the star attraction in my humble opinon. Check out her blog...
I didn't put the cake batter in the "truffle coating" as the recipe notes, instead just used the candy white chocolate disks that are everywhere (like Michael's) and melted them in a little bowl just a bit at a time  and that's it (microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave for same time again. Don't over melt or will become lumpy).  I  dipped the end of a lollipop stick into the melted candy, then into the cake ball. Assembly line style. Next, while holding the stick dipped each one into the melted candy and set on a cookie tray with parchment paper to set up.  Since there is milk in this recipe be sure to refrigerate them until a bit before you serve -- Chef what do you think? know how phobic I am about this sort of thing :)   

This is line up of the pops I made last month. The birthday girls and guests approved:

So...I made a bunch of the little cake balls, flash froze them, piled them into a freezer bag and stored them there until I was ready the next day to do the dipping.  Oh don't forget to put the sprinkles right after the dipping or they won't stick well.'ll have fun if you try this...easy peasy...
Cake Batter Truffles

by The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 ½ cups flour

1 cup yellow cake mix

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

3-4 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons sprinkles

Truffle Coating:

16 ounces (8 squares) almond bark (or white candy melts)

4 Tablespoons yellow cake mix


Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add 3 Tablespoons of milk or more if needed to make a dough consistency. Mix in sprinkles by hand. Roll dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.

While dough balls are chilling, melt almond bark in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir between intervals. Once melted, quickly stir in cake mix until incorporated completely. Using a fork, dip truffles into almond bark and shake of excess bark by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl. Place truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining balls until finished.

Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving. Makes around 24-30 truffles.