Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter in Holmes County

After a wonderful visit the weekend before, Chris and I headed back to his parents' house in Winesburg. Sadly, this trip was a result of Chris' grandmother's passing away on March 19, 2008. She had been sick from cancer these past few months. Chris' mother is an amazing woman and is very strong in her faith. She is relying on the Lord to help her through her grief and finding comfort in the thought of her mother pain-free in Heaven.
It was wonderful to be with Chris' family for Easter. I decided to contribute to the "Easter Carry-in" by making some adorable cupcakes. These cupcakes were adapted from my grandmother's "Loaded Chocolate Cake". The "Easter Egg Nest" decorating idea came from Betty Crocker; however, rather then use coconut (which I am allergic to) I used chow mein noodles covered in melted chocolate and peanut butter. Yum!

I included some "short cuts" for this recipe. It is great either way. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Cupcakes

24 paper cupcake liners
1 Box Devil’s Food Cake Mix (I use Duncan Hines)
1 (12-ounce) package peanut butter chocolate (recipe below) or 24 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 regular muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Fill the cups half full with cake batter. Place about 1 tablespoon peanut butter chocolate mixture in the center of the batter, or press 1 peanut butter cup into the batter in each muffin cup until the batter meets the top edge of the peanut butter cup.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cupcakes are set. When they can be handled safely, remove them from the muffin tins and let cool completely on wire racks. Decorate with frosting (recipe below).
**While cupcakes bake, I prepare the “birds nests” and frosting.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Filling:
12 ounces (1 bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave safe bowl. Stir in peanut butter until well blended. Spoon filling in to cupcake liners (about 1 tablespoon).

Fudgy Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed

Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl and pour melted chocolate chips over. Gradually mix in milk one tablespoon at a time until frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.

**Fudgy Peanut Butter Frosting (Short cut)
1 container Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Melt peanut butter until smooth (easily stirred) in a microwave safe bowl. Stir in container of frosting. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter “Bird Nests”:

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
6 ounces chow mien noodles (half of a standard size bag)
Wax paper
Favorite brand jelly beans (about 50 beans)

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave safe bowl. Stir in peanut butter until well blended. Stir in chow mien noodles. Using a regular table spoon, spoon mixture into piles or “nests” on to wax paper. Let cool and set for 1-2 hours at room temperature or refrigerator. Use to top frosted cupcakes. Place 3 jelly beans or “eggs” in nests once nests are on top of cupcakes.

***Tip: I like to make a “bucket” or indentation using my finger in the center of the nests so the jelly beans don’t roll away.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Long Overdue!

I can't believe my last blog post was in December! It has been a long, busy winter for sure and I am so glad Spring is almost here! Chris has just 96 days left in his horrible Surgical Intern year. Things are looking up as we look to purchase our first home together and have more time to spend together once this year is over. (It ends in June.)
This weekend I got a reminder of how wonderful it is to spend time with Chris. He had FOUR ENTIRE DAYS OFF (unheard of)! We traveled to Chris' parents house in Amish County. When we were there we hiked in the snow and mud to look at a water fall near his parents' house. It was a lot of fun. I also helped prepare a Mexican dinner while visiting. Chris' mom asked that I teach her how to make my Mexican Rice. We served that with tacos and corn souffle. It turned out great! And it was really fun cooking dinner with my mother-in-law. Enjoy!

(Sorry about the picture. I took it with my cell phone!)

Original Mexican Rice Recipe (modified from www.cooking.com)

Olive Oil (enough to coat saucepan)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped white onions

1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers

2 cups converted long-grain rice

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chipotle taco seasoning (recommended: Ortega)

4 cups chicken stock

**Chopped green onions

**Sour cream

In a medium saucepan (with lid), add garlic, onion, and pepper and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add rice and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, seasoning, and stock in saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve with green onions and sour cream as garnish.

Ashleigh’s version

In place of taco seasoning pack add:

2 teaspoons of chili powder.

Salt to taste (1 1/2 teaspoons of salt)

Pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon black pepper)

1 teaspoon of ground cumin.

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves (or sub. cilantro spice)

(Note: On a hectic weeknight, you can also substitute a jar of your favorite chunky salsa and omit the chopping/cooking/adding of the white onion, green pepper, and tomatoes. :)