Archive for February, 2010

Amazing Double Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

February 28, 2010

These were amazing. I wanted an awe-inspiring vanilla bean cupcake +vanilla bean frosting recipe, and this totally fit the bill!

How could I go wrong with getting a vanilla bean recipe from a guy who used the name vanilla in his blog?! LOL

I made these for my birthday treat, and they’re delicious! Highly, highly recommend them!

(P.S….I’m not much of a decorator)

Double Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

(VanillaGarlic via Simply Recipes)


  • 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or one whole bean if you can spare it)


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  • **I added a splash of milk, and a splash of vanilla extract, as I wanted to be able to pipe the icing and it was a bit too thick for that


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven preheats cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean. Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk into a small saucepan. Heat to just under a simmer for a few minutes being careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat and allow the milk to steep and cool. (Be sure to remove the bean after it cools. Wash it and then place it out to dry so it can be used again.)

2 Beat the butter for about 3 minutes on medium speed, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each.

3 In one bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another whisk together the vanilla steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.

4 Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter sugar egg mixture in alternating additions (dry-wet-dry method), starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined being sure to not overbeat.

5 Divide the batter into cupcake papers in a muffin tin and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Be sure to rotate the cupcakes after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get overbaked quickly. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Frost when cooled.


Beat the butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if using) and beat in.
Makes about one dozen cupcakes.


Menu Mondays

February 22, 2010

Wednesday is my birthday, but it’ll be a normal night. We’ll go out to celebrate another night 🙂

Saturday: BBQ Ranch Shredded Chicken Sliders, whatever side DH wants

Sunday: Takeout

Monday: venison steak, broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: skillet noodle lasagna; bread

Wednesday: coconut shrimp, garlic green beans, risotto

Thursday: leftover skillet noodle lasagna

Friday: none — headed over to a friends for a “soup party”!

I will be making vanilla bean cupcakes for my birthday and to share at the party, though 🙂

BBQ Chicken Ranch Sliders

February 21, 2010

These looked tasty on How Sweet It Is — so I made them for dinner!

I changed a few items…my changes are listed below, if you want the original recipe, use the link 🙂

Jessica used McCormick’s BBQ seasoning, but since I didn’t have any, I used the spice rub from my spicy honey chicken:

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

BBQ Chicken Ranch Sliders

(Adapted from How Sweet It Is)

1 lb. chicken (tenders or breasts), seasoned and grilled/baked

6 whole wheat slider buns (I used potato rolls, because DH hates whole wheat buns)

2 slices of low-fat monteray jack cheese, cut in four pieces

1/4 cup barbeque sauce

2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dressing

lettuce for garnish


Once chicken is shredded, mix with barbeque sauce until thoroughly combined. Toast slider buns.

– On each slider bun, add roughly 1-1.5 ounces of shredded chicken. Top with a teaspoon on ranch dressing, and a piece of cheese. Add lettuce.

– Serve with sweet potato fries.

Mexican (Jasmine) Rice

February 21, 2010

DH and I love this rice. I think we’re just addicted to jasmine rice, and using this as an excuse to have it.

I should really make the jasmine rice — as is — and see if we enjoy it as much!

I serve this with tacos/burritos/etc.

Mexican (Jasmine) Rice

(Food o’ Del Mundo)

2-4 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1 1/2 cups jasmine rice

1 tbsp taco seasoning

2 1/2 cups chicken broth


– Place olive oil in a good-sized saucepan over medium heat. I usually start with 2 tbsp — you can add more when you add the rice, should it prove to not be enough to coat the rice.

– Add the garlic cloves and onion, and stir, cooking until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant

– Add the rice, and pearl the rice in the oil/garlic/onion mixture for a few minutes, stirring to prevent burning. If there isn’t enough olive oil to coat the rice, add some now.

– Add taco seasoning and stir

– Add chicken broth, stir to combine, then cover and let simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes

– Turn the burner off and let the rice sit for a few minutes before serving.

Basic Parmesan Risotto with Peas

February 21, 2010

This isn’t a new recipe on the block, by any stretch of the imagination.

I’m just blogging it so it’s easy to find when I need it! LOL

Parmesan Risotto with Peas

(How Sweet It Is)

Parmesan Risotto

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

~ 20 oz chicken stock (vegetable, beef, seafood, etc can also be used too!)

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1/3 cup frozen peas


In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic until fragrant.

– Add rice and continuously stir until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

– Add stock in 1/2 cup increments and bring to a simmer, continuing until the liquid is absorbed and the rice has reached the desired consistency. Stir occasionally.

– Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and peas

Beek’s Chia Oatmeal Granola

February 21, 2010

I made this granola to top my yogurt with this week for a snack.

I had everything on hand, except the chia seeds, which I got from my local natural foods store.

It’s very tasty! Definately more of a flavored oat combo than a traditional granola, though. So if you’re looking for traditional, this ain’t it.

If you’re looking for healthy, tasty, and awesome — proceed!

Beek’s Coconut Chia Granola:

(Beek Eats!)

  • 3 cups rolled oats, gluten-free if necessary
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2  cup pure maple syrup (I use Grade B.)
  • Vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste. (I like a lot, probably 1 t of each, and then some.)
  • 2 T safflower oil (I used canola, because I don’t like safflower)
  • 2 T chia seeds

Mix allllll together in a bowl or directly on a cookie sheet, bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, making sure to mix up the granola one or two times while baking, to ensure even coloring (NOT burning!)

I’ve also added wheat germ and coconut flour to different batches for an even nuttier texture and taste.  Experiment with whatever ingredients you like or have on hand!

Ask Me Anything – 20-Clove Garlic Chicken

February 16, 2010


I have a question about the 20 Garlic clove chicken recipe.  Your recipe calls for 5-7lb. chicken and I could only find a 4 pound.  How do I got about adjusting the recipe for my itty bitty bird?  Thanks!

As far as having a 4-lb. bird versus a 5-6 lb. bird for the recipe, I’d say you are fine to leave the recipe as-is. 4-5 lbs isn’t enough of a difference to make the flavor overbearing on the smaller bird, so you should be good to go.
I’d say if you go larger than a 6 lb bird, though, a) make a video of you stuffing it in the crockpot, cuz i’d love to see it. haha and b) I would maybe increase the spices as well as the garlic by 1/2.

Ask Me Anything – Kuldunai

February 15, 2010


I really want to try your Kuldunai recipe, but I find the dough making part to be a bit intimidating, especially since I usually have a melt down when I make pie crust because it is hard for me to make and not have stick to the well floured surface I roll it out on. Any other tips not in your blog you could give me to help me make this successfully? Also, how long does it take you to make it?


First off, try searching the internet for videos of people making pasta by hand. I watched several videos so I understood the technique, what the dough would look like, etc, and it helped.

The pasta dough recipe for the kuldunai is VERY, VERY forgiving. I just take a huge bowl, but the 3 cups of flour in it, and make a well. Then I whisk all the other ingredients together in a measuring cup, and pour it in the middle of the well. Then, I take a fork, and start gradually turning flour into the liquid mixture. It’ll get to a point where it sticks to your fork — I then clean the fork off and use my fingers. If it sticks to your fingers, it doesn’t have enough flour incorporated yet, and you can use your fingers to continue to mix/fold more flour into the sticky dough. If it doesn’t stick to your fingers, it has absorbed as much flour as it will, and you’re good to go on the kneading part. I sprinke some of the leftover flour from my bowl (I always have some) on the counter, and then lay my dough ball down. I start closest to me and use the tips of my fingers to push into the dough, making lines of finger marks away from my body, then I fold it over in half and do it again and again. I only knead mine by hand for about 3-4 minutes, because I’m impatient, and you can’t tell any difference. I then form the dough into a ball with my hands (doesn’t have to be perfect) and wrap it tightly in saran wrap. I put it in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to chill – I find it easier to roll out that way. When I’m ready to roll it out, I put the dough ball in the middle of my flour-y countertop(I use more than I think I need so it doesn’t stick) and sprinkle the top of the ball with flour. I also rub flour over the length of my rolling pin (I use a wooden one). Then I gently start rolling it out with my rolling pin. Also, don’t be afraid to periodically stop rolling and gently pick the dough up. It won’t be as fragile as pie crust, and that way you can ensure it isn’t sticking to your surface.

I don’t know if that helps or not! LOL If you’re scared, just try making the dough a couple of times. It’s really delicious and you could easily just roll it out, slice it into strips with a knife, boil it and put pasta sauce over it and serve it as spaghetti. Maybe trying the dough alone a few times will make you feel more confident? It certainly works that way for me! 🙂

A few more notes about the kuldunai…

  • The meat mixture will fill approximately two batches of the dough. I don’t know if I’m superstitious about pasta dough or what, but I always make my pasta dough batches individually, rather than doubling the recipe.
  • You’ll also probably have a little bit of meat mixture left after two batches of dough. I highly reccommend making them into hamburger patties and frying them up. There’s nothing more delicious than an onion-studded burger!
  • Working alone, from start of the dough and meat to the end result being put in the freezer, this process takes me 2 hours – 2 hours 15 minutes.
  • I normally wrangle my husband into helping me – he rolls the dough out and cuts the circles and I fill the circles and fold them closed. This way only takes about an hour.
  • I normally make the meat mixture a few hours before I plan on making the kulundai, and store it in the fridge. I find it gives more of an onion flavor to the meat, as well as softens up the onions and makes them stick to the ground beef better when i go to place small scoops on the pasta.

Hope that helps!

Menu Mondays

February 15, 2010

Saturday: Went out for dinner

Sunday: Kuldunai

Monday: Steak, steamed broccoli/cauliflower combo, pasta

I’m also off Monday for President’s Day, and will be making…

Tuesday: Cafe Rio Pork (crockpot) tacos, mexican rice, and all the fixin’s (black beans, sour cream, guacamole, salsa,cheese)

Wednesday: Salmon, risotto, green beans

Thursday: Leftover Cafe Rio Pork

Friday: BLT’s with avocado, roasted BBQ potatoes

Ask Me Anything!

February 11, 2010

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading the questions and responses on other people’s blogs, so I’ve included an “Ask Me Anything” page on this blog as well!

If you scroll down the right hand side, you’ll see my pages listed…just click the Ask Me Anything page, and leave a comment!

(The current template I’m using doesn’t allow me tabs at the top to make it easier. Perhaps a blog change is in the future!)