29 October 2009

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Here is yet another recipe I found on allrecipes.com. I love chile rellenos, which are usually made with Poblano peppers, but each time I've tried to make them in the past, I couldn't get them to turn out how I wanted them to. I thought this recipe seemed like a good, healthier alternative (no deep frying involved here). I gave it a try and ended up loving it!

4 poblano peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12 ounce) package vegetarian burger crumbles
1 (1.25 ounce) package chili seasoning mix
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.
Slice the poblanos in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and stems.
Place cleaned peppers in boiling water; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Heat olive oil (I used vegetable oil) in a large skillet.
Stir in vegetarian crumbles and chili seasoning mix.
Cook, stirring, until crumbles are hot, about 5 minutes.
Fill the cooked peppers with the seasoned crumbles; top with pepperjack cheese.
Arrange stuffed peppers on a baking sheet.
Place peppers in preheated oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

I only used 3 peppers and filled them with extra 'meat'. For those of you who would like to make these with real meat, just fry up some hamburger instead.

These are delicious on their own, but we decided to cut the peppers up in strips after they were finished cooking and serve them in fajita-size tortillas with garlicky black beans, salsa, sour cream, and lettuce.

You will definitely want to go back for seconds!

29 September 2009

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Cream

It seems lately the only things that I can bake well are sweet and sinful. I tried a healthy corn-based bread recently and it was an 80% failure. Despite how much cake I see at work, I've been thinking a lot about making a cake from scratch in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Yesterday I finally got the chance and decided on a chocolate cake that I've successfully made before, but with the added pizzazz of creamy peanut butter goodness.

It is likely that you already have the cake recipe in your house. Go to your kitchen, open the cupboard, and pull out that old can of Hershey's cocoa that's been hiding behind the sugar for the last 8 months. On the back is my favorite chocolate cake recipe along with a recipe for chocolate frosting.

For those of you who don't keep a stash of Hershey's around for emergency chocolate fixes, I'll share the recipes here.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat your oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8-inch round baking pans. (I like to set my pans on a sheet of parchment paper, take a pencil and trace around the bottom of the pans, cut out the circles, and put the parchment circles in the greased pans before re-greasing and flouring. This eliminates stickage when you try to turn out your cake after baking and the parchment easily peals off of the bottom of the cake.)

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water until incorporated (batter will be thin). Pour into pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack, where they should be allowed to cool completely.

While the cakes are baking and/or cooling, you can work on making the peanut butter cream filling and the chocolate frosting.

Peanut Butter Cream Filling
9 ounces creamy peanut butter
one 8 ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chilled whipping cream

Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter and cream cheese in a large bowl to blend. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.

In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. This takes a few minutes.

Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture in four additions. Once it is all incorporated, the mixture will be light and fluffy. Place in fridge until ready to use.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt the butter. (Cut the stick up into small pieces, place in bowl, and zap it for about a minute in the microwave.) Stir in the cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed, until it is spreading consistency. Add more milk if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Make sure the cake and frosting have completely cooled before attempting to assemble the cake. Mine were a little warm last night and I ended up fighting with the cake to try to keep the layers from sliding apart and off the plate.
Slice the cake layers in half. (Place one hand on top of a cake to hold it steady, and saw straight through the middle from one side to the other using a long serrated knife.)
Place one layer on a cake board or serving plate. Top with a layer of peanut butter cream and then another layer of cake. Repeat this process until all four cake layers are stacked, with the top layer being cake.

Then frost the entire outside with the chocolate frosting.

Now it is time to eat! In my opinion, this cake tastes better after the whole thing has spent some quality time in the fridge and is nice and chilled.

11 April 2009


Ever since my husband and I decided to make our own wedding cake a year and a half ago, I have been slightly obsessed with cake. One of my favorite past times is searching the internet for anything and everything cake related. I have yet to find a really good basic white cake recipe, but I could sit for hours looking through decorating tips and all of the amazing portfolios of fellow cake decorators.
I am still a beginner, but I like to dream that one day I will be able to make amazing confectionary works of art. And starting Monday, I'll officially be able to say that I make my living decorating cakes! I am beside myself with excitement for this opportunity and so thankful that someone is finally giving me a chance to follow my dream.
I'll include one recipe with today's post, but mostly I'm just here to show off a few of my cakes. The ones that I am posting are similar to what I might be doing at the store. ;)

The recipe is for carrot cake. I used this recipe as one of the layers of my mother-in-law's wedding cake in December. That cake was my crowning glory, but I couldn't have done it without my husband's help. Someday we will own a bakery together and work side by side creating masterpieces. *sigh*

The Cake

(We made the fresh rose topper too.)

Sam's Famous Carrot Cake from allrecipes.com


3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice (*Note: I followed this exactly the first time and the cake was way too wet and didn't cook through. So, next time I drained the juice first and it came out perfectly.)
1 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x12 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.
In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins.
Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.
Pour into prepared 8x12 inch pan, and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour. Check with toothpick.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Here are some birthday cakes:

Abby's Birthday Cake

(practicing my roses)

Debi's Birthday Cake

(This one was fun because I made the hanging jewelry too.)

Gary's Birthday Cake

(more practice with roses and writing)

Mother-in-law and Step-Grandma-In-Law's Birthday Cake

(The writing on this one is atrocious. My hand was worn out. Makes me worry about how I'll do when I have to handle it 8 hours a day.)

And just for laughs:

The Husband Birthday Cake, adorned with a sexy girl lovingly created by hand with gumpaste.

22 March 2009

Semi-Homemade Goodness

I am generally of the mind that if you want some darn good cookies, and you want to feel proud of them, you're going to have to make them from scratch. This weekend I realized that being a snob is of no real use. My husband has been in the mood for some lemon cake recently, and after following a very disappointing recipe that produced an extremely heavy egg 'cake' (if you can call it that,) I decided to try out a cookie recipe that I had seen a few times before on allrecipes.com.

The recipe involves using box cake mix to create scrumptious-soft-lemony-mouthfuls-of-delight. I had some lemon cream (also semi-homemade) left over that had originally been a hopeful filling for the original lemon cake, so I decided to put a dollop on the cookie, and it was melt in your mouth heaven. I highly recommend this easy fix cookie, but be careful because it is very difficult not to eat the whole plate in one sitting. The simple recipes follow.

Easy Lemon Cookies
adapted from Lissa's Easy Lemon Cookies on allrecipes.com


1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
pinch of lemon zest
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Pour cake mix into a large bowl.
Stir in eggs, oil, lemon juice, and zest until well blended.
Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into a bowl of confectioners' sugar.
Roll them around until they're lightly covered.
Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 6 to 9 minutes in the preheated oven.
The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy.
Cool completely on cooling rack.

Lemon Cream Topping


1 Regular size box of Lemon flavored instant Jell-o pudding and pie filling mix
2 cups cold milk
1 pint whipping cream


In a large bowl, whisk cold milk into instant pudding mix according to package directions.
In separate bowl, beat whipping cream on high until thickened (about 5 to 7 minutes).
Fold the whipped cream into the pudding.
Refrigerate until firm.

Once the cookies are cool, add a dollop of cream and enjoy!

13 February 2009


I figured I ought to post a recipe for guacamole since it goes well with basically any Mexican dish that involves tortillas (including the potato enchiladas). I always just eye my measurements, but I'll try to give you some guidelines:

2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, seeded and mashed
1/2 red onion, sliced and diced
1/2 ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
about a tablespoon of lime juice (fresh is preferred)
a handful (about a 1/4 cup) chopped fresh cilantro
a dash each of salt, pepper, garlic powder (this should be adjusted to taste)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. If you would like to add some heat, add a bit of chopped fresh jalapeno. Make sure your red onion is fresh, not too old. An old onion is an angry onion and it can overpower the other flavors.

12 February 2009

Black Bean Soup

When I'm tired after work and really don't feel like standing in the kitchen all night, but still want to eat something hearty and somewhat healthy, soup is an easy fix. I love soup because if you have water or broth, a few cans of veggies and beans, and some spice, you're good to go. And, what's even better is that it makes for great leftovers. Sitting overnight allows the flavors to develop and your next meal is only a microwave oven away.

Here's my recipe for an easy black bean soup:


1 can vegetable broth (14.5 oz)

1/2 of a green bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 of a sweet onion, diced

1 can corn, drained (15 oz)

1 can black beans, drained (15 oz)

1 can stewed tomatoes, chunky or pulsed in the food processor (14.5 oz)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 cup fresh plain leaf parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)

sour cream (optional)
cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

In a large pot, bring the veggie broth to a boil. Add peppers and onion, and allow to boil for about five minutes to soften. Add remaining ingredients through cilantro. Turn heat down to medium-low, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheddar on top.

A great side for this soup is corn bread.

11 February 2009

Potato Enchiladas

We love Mexican food in my family. I suppose Tex-Mex is the better term for our Americanized Mexican taste, but whatever you want to call it, mmm, it sure is good. Last night I tried out a recipe for Potato Enchiladas. It turned out pretty good, but I immediately decided that it would have to be tweaked. My version of the recipe has yet to be tested, so here's a chance for you to try it out and let me know what you think.

Potato Enchiladas

4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2.5 cups enchilada sauce, or salsa of your liking
1.5 cup shredded Monterey jack or cheddar, or half of each
1.5 cup Mexican melting cheese, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Cumin, to taste

Chipotle powder, to taste
¼ onion, sliced and diced thin

2 cups chopped frozen spinach
½ tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
10 six inch flour tortillas
Sour cream

Guacomole (see "Guacomole" post)

Preheat oven to 350°. Fill large pot halfway with water, bring to a boil, and boil potatoes until soft, but still firm. Heat oil or butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, add spinach and onions and cook until tender. Drain water from potatoes and mash slightly. Add spinach/onion, garlic, spice, melted cheese, ½ cup of enchilada sauce, and 3/4 cup of shredded cheese to the potatoes. Mix thoroughly. Grease bottom of 9x12 glass pan. Fill tortillas with equal amounts of filling, roll tightly, and lay in pan. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce and top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with sour cream and guacomole.

*Recipe updated 2/18/09

Tree Bird

Thank God eating and drinking are not only a necessity, but a pleasure!