Tiramisu Cupcakes

Hello there– I know, I know you shouldn’t start a new recipe with a disclaimer– But if you are a blogger (this means you, all my blog-buddies), you know the sometimes photos aren’t what you’d hoped.  But I loved these tender, creamy cupcakes!!- so I’m sending along the recipe and you’ll have to imagine how pretty (and delicious) they were! OK??

TIRAMISU CUPCAKES

cupcakes:
chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
water
1 pack instant coffee crystals (about 1 tsp.)
1 tsp. coffee liqueur  (like Kahlua)

Topping:
1 pint whipped cream
2 tsp. instant vanilla pudding powder
tsp. powdered sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese
unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix the cake mix according to the directions on the box.  (Mine used 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil and 1 1/4 cup water).  Add in the instant coffee and coffee liqueur and beat for two minutes with an electric mixer.

Pour the batter into 24 paper cupcake liners in cupcake pans.  Pop them in a 350 degree oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until they are firm to the touch.  Let them cool completely.

With an electric mixer, beat the whipped cream along with the pudding powder and powdered sugar  –until it is stiff and set.  With a spoon, fold in the mascarpone cheese.

Top each cooled cupcake with a large dollop of the cream & mascarpone mixture.  And then dust the cocoa over the cream through a small sieve.  Refrigerate the cupcakes if you are making them way ahead…  So delish!

 

Blackberry Shortcake

Hello all– Is is summer where you are??  School ended here yesterday.  The grand-girls and I had a water squirting adventure in the front yard this evening.  We’ve been eating dinner out back under the maple trees.  And there are mounds of berries at the market here.  We’ve made it to summer!

So Monday night when friends came in for dinner, this is what we had for desert.  Sweet tender little cakes, just a bit crispy around the edges — with cream and ripe black berries.  What’s more summery than that?!

BLACK BERRY SHORTCAKE

Shortcake:
1  1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp. vanilla

Toppings:
12 oz. blackberries (2 small cartons)
2 tab. sugar
1 point heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix**

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 1/3 cu sugar, baking powder and salt.  With a pastry blender (or 2 forks), cut in the butter until it resembles pea size lumps.  Then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Drop mounds of dough onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray (makes about 8 medium shortcakes).  Bake them in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes until they’re nicely browned and crispy around the edges.

While they are baking, wash the berries and mix them with the 2 tab. of sugar.

With an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix.  Set it into the fridge to firm up until your ready to serve the shortcake.

Set each shortcake on a pretty place and top with berries & cream.

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (like me), pour a tablespoon of cider vinegar in with whole milk  to make 2/3 cup.  Let it sit a couple minutes to thicken.
**The instant pudding stabilizes the cream, so it will stay firm when you serve it.

 

Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

Hello hello–  All I can say is—-the Sauce!!  I poured the extra over my tortellini and sopped up every last drop.  This dish is easy enough for everyday, beautiful enough to share with a table full of friends.

CHICKEN WITH SUN DRIED TOMATO SAUCE|
4 to 6 chicken thighs
2 tab. olive oil
sale & freshly ground pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh thyme*
1 tsp. dried basil*
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped to bits
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cream or half & half
1/2 cup grated parmesan romano
garnish: thyme sprigs, a sprinkling of parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and then drop in the chicken thighs.  Salt and pepper them liberally while they cook 5 to 7 minutes on each side (until they are cooked through).  Remove them to a plate and cover to keep warm

In the same skillet add the garlic, thyme, basil and dried tomatoes.  Stir for a minute to blend the flavors.  Then mix in the broth and cream. Let the sauce simmer on low for 3 to 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Stir in the parmesan romano.

Pour the sauce over the chicken.  Garnish with a bit of parmesan and sprigs of thyme.

We ate this luscious chicken with tortellini and a hearty salad.  Perfect.

*I just used thyme because it is growing in the side yard, basil, marjoram, mined rosemary, any fresh Italian-ish herb would be fine.
**Of if you have Italian seasoning, oregano…

Strawberry Cream Cake

Hi there– It’s birthday season in our family.  Three birthdays together at the start of May and three more at the end.  So I’ve got birthday cakes on my mind.  This will probably show up at a birthday party or two!!

The biggest bash is for my father-in-law Stu.  He’s turning 90!  –and is so beloved by everyone who knows him.  You’ve never met a kinder more gracious man.  Family is coming from far and wide to celebrate with our “Grandpa Stu”.

Hope you have some happy family birthdays on your horizon.  And that they include cake, lots of cake.

STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE

Cake:
1 cup strawberries, cut to small bits
1 strawberry  cake mix
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup water
3 eggs

Topping:
2 cups strawberries, cut to small bits
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 oz. package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 big pretty strawberry for garnish

To make the cake, cut the strawberries fine.  If they are still damp from cleaning, pat them dry.

Make the strawberry cake according to the directions on the box. (mine used 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup water & 3 eggs).  Pour it into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (or a 10″ springform pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until it is lightly browned and comes out firm to the touch.  Let the cake cool completely before adding the topping!

To make the topping, cut the strawberries to small bits.  Set them aside.  Whip together the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix with an electric mixer until it is stiff (the whisk attachment works best for this).

Stir in the strawberries and then pile it all onto the cooled cake.  You can serve it right away, but it’s better to set the cake in the fridge for an hour or more to let the topping completely set.  Enjoy!!

Apple Cream Cake

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Hello all– When the calendar flips over the autumn, my heart turns to apple cake.   I grew up on my mom’s cake– chock full of apples and walnuts.  (It’s the best Mom!!)**–   So when I saw this new apple cake version– layers of stacked apple slices in a custardy creamy filling, I couldn’t wait to try it.  It’s mildly sweet and delicate– and with a scoop on whipped cream on the side and an ample mug of tea, it’s just right for a fall day.

APPLE CREAM CAKE
3 large apples
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream*
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
powdered sugar to dust the top

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Core and peel the apples and cut them into thin slices with a mandolin or a good knife.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer (whisk attachment works best), beat the eggs and sugar on high speed for two minutes until it thickens a bit.  Turn the speed down to medium and beat in the whipping cream, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt.  Fold in the apples with a spoon until they are all coated with the batter.

Spoon the apple mixture into a 8″ or 9″ springform pan (or cake pan) and put it into the oven at 325 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes, until it’s nicely browned on top and cooked through when you test it by sticking in a small knife to see if it comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely to remove it from the pan.  Dust with powdered sugar through a sieve and serve with a nice little pile of whipped cream.   Luscious!

*I bought the pint size carton of whipping cream– used 3/4 cup for the recipe.  And the rest I beat with and mixture adding 1 tsp. powdered sugar and 2 tsp. vanilla instant pudding mix to sweeten and set it up well.
**Hi Mom!!  (I know my dear Mom always checks in here!  xox)img_1704

Mixed Berry Tart

 

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Hello there– We had lunch with the family Sunday– And a couple special guests.  Jodi had a sweet friend and her 9 year old daughter visiting from China.  I was a little nervous–not so proficient at woking up Chinese food!  But Jodi assured me that he friend was well traveled and could eat my unfamiliar American cooking– so it was tri-tip on the grill and all the fixings.  And for desert summer berries nestled into a creamy filling over  crispy crust.

We had a wonderful visit–so good to get to know Jodi’s world a little bit better.  And the grand-girls and their visiting buddy had a fine time inaugurating the new craft closet– there were paper and feathers and wiggly eyes strewn across the room and some pretty fanciful creations immerged.  Fun day all around.  And here’s dessert:

MIXED BERRY TART

Crust:
1 cup flour
3 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 egg yolk
2 tab. cold water

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix*

Berries:
3 cups mixed summer berries**
1/4 cup raspberry jelly

To make the crust, mix together the flour, 3 tab. sugar and salt.  Cut the butter into smallish chunks. Then with a pastry blender (0r 2 forks) cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  In a cup, whisk together the egg yolk and 2 tab. water.  Pour it into the flour & butter crumbs and keep cutting in until it is all blended.

Press the dough (it will be crumbly!) into a 9″ tart (or pie) pan and put it into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until it comes out nicely browned. Set is aside to cool.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until it is well blended.  Set aside.

In a different bowl, beat the whipping cream and vanilla pudding mix with an electric mixture (whisk attachment works fastest!) until it is stiff.

Then fold together the whipped cream and the cream cheese mixture until they are blended.  And scoop the filling into the cooled crust.

Mix the berries with the raspberry jelly and spoon them over the cream.  I used strawberries, cut I cut them in halves.   That’s it– cut the tart into neat slices and pass them around!

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*The pudding mix stabilizes the whipped cream so it keeps it’s shape.
**I used strawberries and blueberries– but blackberries, raspberries  or even peaches & plums, would be pretty!!

Strawberry Ice Cream Shortcake

 

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Hi all– Had the grand-girls down a couple weekends ago and if you ask them what they want for dessert, it’s sure to be something Pink!  So this fit the requirement. They thought it was just fine.   And besides how can you not like a dessert than is layered with crispy biscuits, ice cream, berries and whipping cream??

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM SHORTCAKE

Basic Shortcake:
1  1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp. vanilla

And on top:
Strawberries
a sprinkle of sugar
strawberry ice cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla instant pudding mix**

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or in a food processor).  Then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Drop the sticky batter by big spoonfuls onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. (makes about 8)  Set them at least 4″ apart because they will spread as they bake.  Pop them into a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes until they are prettily browned and cooked through.

While they are cooking, whip the cream with an electric mixer, throwing in the powdered sugar and pudding mix.  Set aside.

Let them cool a bit and then slice the shortcakes horizontally.  Mix the cut strawberries with the sugar.  Fill the shortcakes  with the strawberries and ice cream and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream.  Viola!

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (like me), then just put a tablespoon of cider vinegar in the cup and add milk to make to cups.  Let it sit several minutes until it thickens like buttermilk.
**The pudding mix thickens the cream just slightly and acts as a stabilizer so it won’t wilt.  Makes it work to whip the cream ahead of time and just store it in the fridge til after dinner…

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