Archive | January 2013

Moist Banana Bread

It is a very rare occasion I have over-ripe bananas because I’m pretty sure Spencer is half monkey. He loves bananas!

However, our last bunch of bananas were pushed far back on the counter and covered in mail. Yep, we are tidy like that, lol! The bananas were the perfect over-ripe consistency needed to make banana bread! Best part, I had 6 of them bad boys! So I could make a loaf for Steve and a loaf for me (I like chocolate chips in mine but Steve doesn’t). Even better part? The bananas were not only perfectly over-ripe but absent of any bruises or dark spots having not been touched since they were bought. It was really kind of amazing to see perfectly over-riped bananas. I just stood there for like 30 seconds in complete awe then I was like “let’s get these bad boys in the oven pronto!” These are easy to whip up and come out super moist and filled with banana nut goodness!

Printable Recipe: Moist Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 over-ripe bananas

  • 3/4 cup white sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine (I use margarine)

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1/2 bag semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare your bread pan by rubbing a light layer of shortening onto the bread loaf pan. Don’t forget to smear the shortening all the way up the sides because the bread will rise when baking. Set aside. Since I was making two loaves, I marked the foil bread pan that will have chocolate chips in it with a CC in with a permanent marker. Don’t want anyone to think they can eat my Moist Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and get away with it! In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir till well combined and set aside.

Spencer loves to help me bake and cook! He loves to measure, pour and mix!

In a large bowl, add bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. With a mixer, beat together until smooth.

Fold in chopped walnuts.

If adding chocolate chips, fold this in as well. I love chocolate chips in my banana bread!

Dump flour mix into the large bowl. Fold flour mix into the wet ingredients just until moist (do not overstir).

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

I meant to take a picture of a slice of banana bread looking all pretty but smelling the Moist Banana Bread cooking for the past hour, I couldn’t wait to take a bite! Oopsy! Trust and believe, it is yummy, moist, chocolaty, banana goodness!

Humongous Breakfast Burritos

I know it seems like all I do is cook and bake all day, lol. But really I typically only do it once a day for one meal. That’s about all I can stand to do so I make the most anytime I am in the kitchen. Our tiny tornado, Spencer, wanted eggs, “tatos” and bacon yesterday morning. I looked at him like he was freaking crazy because eggs, potatoes and bacon constitutes a “Big Breakfast”! We don’t do that in our house except on Sunday mornings (which usually ends up being in the afternoon after us party animals sleep in all day, lol). I’ve always been a 3rd shifter nurse most of my career so my body likes being up late, the hubby and kiddos not so much but they do tend to stay up later on the weekends with me. So after a couple minutes of looking sideways at our 3-year-old’s request for a big breakfast, I thought, “why not?!” So I cooked the big breakfast! Making enough potatoes for 6 grown men, scrambled eggs ( with 8 eggs) and a pound of bacon just for our baby Spencer and me. Yep, I cook in one mood: Army Size. What to do with our obviously huge amount of leftover food?

Well, how about making burritos as big as Spencer’s head?! So after Spencer and I ate our fair share of the Big Breakfast, I whipped up some Humongous Breakfast Burritos! The very next morning, I had a craving for a big breakfast again and it is only Thursday! No worries, I heated up one of the Humongous Breakfast Burritos and let me tell you…hunger satisfied!

Printable Recipe: Humongous Breakfast Burrito

Ingredients:

  • 6 soft tortilla shells (10-12 inch size)

  • half of a small onion, diced

  • 4 large potatoes

  • 1 pound bacon

  • 8 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

  • Your choice of seasonings (I used seasoned salt, garlic powder, salt & pepper)

Directions:

Peel potatoes, rinse off. Chop potatoes into thin, long chunks (see photo below). In a large skillet over medium heat, heat up butter-flavored oil or vegetable oil (approximately 2 tablespoons).

Add diced onions to skillet and sauté onions for 1-2 minutes. So does my onions look frozen? They are, lol! Those who follow my blog know that I dice up onions and green peppers as soon as they come home from the grocery store. I freeze the veggies in usually 1/2 cup portions in snack-size ziplocs. A couple smacks on the counter with the ziploc bag and the veggies break up nicely. Toss the veggie pieces into your recipe and they melt down adding the same flavor of onions and green peppers if you had diced them fresh for the recipe. Major time saver!

Add potato chunks to the heated skillet. Season potatoes with your choice of seasonings. I use seasoned salt, garlic powder and pepper. Stir seasonings into the potatoes. Cover potatoes and cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes. Potatoes are done when your spatula can split a large potato piece in half with little effort.

Once potatoes are cooked through, remove lid and cook for an additional one to two minutes to brown up the potatoes adding a little crunch to them.

Remove potatoes from skillet and place in a bowl to cool down.

Add bacon slices and cook till crisp. Remove cooked bacon and place on a plate covered in a double layer of paper towels to help drain some of the grease.

While bacon is cooking, add eggs and milk to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together ensuring all yolks are busted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk again. Set aside until bacon is done. Pour off excess bacon grease. Do not wash or wipe out skillet. Scrambled eggs are super yummy when cooked in a small amount of bacon grease with little bits and pieces of bacon scrapings.

Whisk together egg mix again and pour into skillet. Scramble eggs till fully cooked, light and fluffy. Remove from skillet onto a large plate to cool.

Take two papertowels (do not separate) and soak under water. Gently wring out. Insert 6 tortillas between the layers of papertowels. Heat sandwiched tortilla shells for approximately 30 seconds in the microwave. Tortillas will be more pliable when warmed.

Place a tortilla on a clean surface. I could have sworn I took pictures of putting the burritos together but I guess in my excitement I didn’t, lol. It’s pretty self-explanatory and I’m guessing visuals aren’t necessarily needed 🙂 Add a heaping spoonful of scrambled eggs. Sprinkle a heavy portion of shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top. Scoop potatoes on top of cheese. Using 2-3 bacon slices, break and crumble bacon over potatoes. Fold in sides of burritos enough to ensure secure ends for the burrito. Wrapping and rolling away from you, wrap your burrito tightly. Wrap the Humongous Breakfast Burrito in plastic wrap. Wrap the burrito again in a 2nd piece of plastic wrap. Repeat with remainder of tortilla shells using up all burrito ingredients. Place double-wrapped burritos into a gallon-size ziploc (be sure to write on the ziploc the date and what is inside with a permanent maker). Place ziploc in the freezer. Burritos now have a triple layer to prevent freezer burn.

To reheat burritos: place double-wrapped burrito in the microwave and defrost using the “meat” setting for “one pound”. Repeat as necessary until burrito is warmed throughout (stopping the microwave every 30 seconds after the first round of defrost to check if the burrito is warmed enough) . Burritos can be unwrapped (be careful, contents will be hot) and eaten with a soft, steamed tortilla shell.

I personally like to fry the burrito for 1-2 minutes in 1.5 teaspoons butter-flavored oil or vegetable oil on each side till golden brown.

Crunchy burrito stuffed with home-made fixings and no preservative, chemical crap – LOVE IT!

Monkey Bread Cupcakes

I was pregnant with our oldest son (now 16-years-old) the first time the hubby made me Monkey Bread. I was hooked! It super satisfied my sweet cravings that I seemed to have a lot of when I was pregnant, lol. It is made with refrigerated dough (you know, the ones in the can) and other basic ingredients. The hubby would put his Monkey Bread together in a bundt pan and bake it up. Then he would drizzle his brown sugar & butter glaze over the top and edges. It is to die for! The only complaint I had was that it was a “one and done” recipe. Meaning, you make it and then have to eat all of it at once. If there are leftovers, the glaze kind of hardens and the bread gets tough, it just isn’t great as a leftover dish. Trust and believe, most days when I was pregnant, the “one and done” concept worked fine because there rarely were ever any leftovers! But nowadays the hubby is working and also back in college, the oldest is busy with high school and all of its extra-curricular activities so it’s just Spencer and me a lot of times. Try as we may, we can’t really eat an entire ring of Monkey Bread by ourselves, lol! So it became my mission to figure out how to portion it and reserve the glaze. So Monkey Bread Cupcakes were born! Super delicious and specifically made to be re-heated in individual portions, we love it!

Printable Recipe: Monkey Bread Cupcakes

Monkey Bread Ingredients:

  • 3 cans of refrigerator biscuits (from the 4 pack of biscuits)

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter/margarine

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners (makes 48 cupcakes).

Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a wide (but short) bowl.

Using a pizza cutter, cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Streamline this by lining up biscuits in rows and cutting down the middle of each biscuit. Then turn the cutting board sideways and cut perpendicularly down the rows of biscuits.

Toss a handful at a time into the cinnamon/sugar mix. Gently shake the bowl to coat each biscuit piece. Repeat until all the dough is used (you will have 2 dough pieces left over, just toss them in a couple of the cupcake liners). This is the part where I tell you to toss the remainder of the cinnamon/sugar mix in the trash. I personally put it in a shaker container to use on toast in the future. As I see it, no dough pieces are in the sugar and I am not one to waste. It would be different if it was raw meat or something “wet” that was dipped in the cinnamon/sugar mix. It is raw dough so you choose what is right for you.

Drop 5 coated biscuit pieces into each cupcake liner. Bake for 9 minutes.

While baking the Monkey Bread, prepare the glaze.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the brown sugar. Continuously stir until brown sugar is melted down. Add milk and stir till well combined.

Spoon glaze over the Monkey Bread Cupcakes you plan on eating right now. Place the remainder of the glaze in a container with a lid. Place the glaze in the fridge. Store uneaten Monkey Bread Cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter. To reheat, remove cupcake liner from the Monkey Bread.

Spoon one teaspoon of cold glaze from fridge on top.

Heat in microwave for approximately 30 seconds.

Glaze will melt and drip down the sides of your warm Monkey Bread Cupcake.

Perfect when eaten right from the oven or re-heated in the microwave. All packaged in individual portions! Perfecto! Of course, you can just add all the coated dough chunks to a bundt pan coated in non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 17-23 minutes till golden on top and cooked throughout. Once baked, turn the Monkey Bread out onto a plate and drizzle the glaze over the top, down the sides and inside the hole in the middle. Either way, it is fantastic!

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Rolls From Scratch

On Mondays, I try to surprise the hubby and our oldest son with something homemade that they can eat on their way out the door to start their work or school week. So yesterday, I surprised them with some homemade cinnamon rolls. I’ve reviewed a gazillion cinnamon roll recipes over the years and put together our own special recipe taking bits and pieces from various recipes. Cinnamon Rolls aren’t difficult to make but you do need time to let the dough rise twice. You can help along the process with a trick I have learned about yeast dough (see the NOTE at the bottom of this post). Who doesn’t love ooey, gooey, buttery and sweet cinnamon rolls?! Whoever you are, we are not and never will be friends, lol! Make this for your Valentine! Shape your rolls into a heart!

Printable Recipe: Cinnamon Rolls From Scratch

Ingredients:

Dough: 

  • 1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast 

  • 1/2 cup warm water 

  • 1/4 cup sugar 

  • 1/2 cup hot milk 

  • 1/3 cup butter/margarine 

  • 1 tsp. salt 

  • 1 egg 

  • 4 cups flour

Filling:  

  • 1/2 cup melted butter/margarine

  • 1/2 cup sugar 

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 

  • Raisins and/or pecans (optional)

Glaze: 

  • 4 tablespoons butter/margarine, melted 

  • 2 cups powdered sugar 

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

  • 3-6 tablespoons of hot water

Directions:

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.

How warm? It should feel like warm water you would use to take a nice bubble bath in. Test the water temp on your inner wrist. If it is a temperature you think would be comfortable to take a relaxing bath in then the water temperature will be perfect to activate the yeast. You know it is activated because it will create these tiny bubbles and get all frothy on top. Heavily grease a large bowl, set aside.

In a glass measuring cup (that can be put in a microwave), measure out 1/2 cup of milk. Then add the butter/margarine to the glass measuring cup. If using a stick of butter/margarine, 1/3 cup = 5 1/3 tabs. Place the measuring cup in the microwave and heat until milk is hot and butter is melted (between 45-60 seconds).

In another large bowl (not the greased one) add the milk/butter mix, sugar, salt and egg.  Whisk till well combined. Add two cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture and mix till well incorporated. Mix in remaining 2 cups of flour one cup at a time until dough is easy to handle.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5-7 minutes. Kneading dough is fun, think about what or who has annoyed you recently and ground that negativity right into the dough with your fists while taking in deep breaths and whispering “woosah”. You will feel so much better and your dough will love you for it.

Place dough ball into the greased bowl and let rise until doubled, usually one to one-and-a-half hours.

When doubled, punch down the dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough into approximately a 15×9 inch rectangle.

Pour melted butter/margarine in the center of the rolled out dough, reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the melted butter/margarine (set aside). Using a pastry brush, brush the butter puddle all over the dough to the edges.

Mix sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mix evenly over the buttered dough, reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mix, set aside.

Evenly sprinkle pecans or raisins over the dough if desired.

On the long side of the dough, roll the dough up. Some of the buttery sugar mix may seep out (I just used the pastry brush to brush that excess on top of the cinnamon roll once it was laid in the prepared pan).

Using a sharp knife, piece of string or unwaxed dental floss, cut roll into approximately one inch slices. I cut up 12 slices that were about 1.5 inches in width. This allowed me to put 3 rows of rolls (with 4 across) in the pan. If using string or floss, cut a piece of string/floss approximately one foot in length. Slide the center of the string under the roll of dough, pull string/floss ends up, cross over your hands and pull strings out sideways (you are essentially pinching off the dough). The string/floss method will keep the cinnamon roll in a more circular shape. I just used a sharp knife, my family loves it anyway I can cut it! Coat bottom of baking pan with the remainder of the melted butter/margarine and sprinkle the remainder of the sugar/cinnamon mix on top of the melted butter.

Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan. If wanting to create a heart shape, roll one long edge toward the middle and stop. On the opposite long edge, roll toward the middle and stop (both rolls should be bumped up next to each other). Slice.

When placing the heart in the pan, pinch the bottom point of the heart. Lay hearts in the pan so that the bottom point of one heart faces the indented middle section of the top of another heart. See photo. When dough rises for second time, the hearts may become out of shape. Use a butter knives to pinch the bottom point of the heart prior to placing in the oven.

Let rise again until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.

While cinnamon rolls are baking, whisk together the melted butter/margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and all the powdered sugar clumps have dissolved.

Add hot water one tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches your desired consistency (I only had to add 1 tablespoon for my glaze). Since butter is the base, this glaze is an amazing, buttery and sweet bliss of a concoction! It is to die for!

Spread glaze evenly over the slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.

NOTE: If you are pressed for time, you can use your microwave to help the dough rise faster during the first rise. Warm microwave by heating up something (like leftovers) for around 5 minutes along with approximately 1/2 cup of water in its own microwave-safe bowl. It is not recommended to heat the microwave without something inside of it (a bowl of water doesn’t count), I hear that is bad for your microwave and well, we like our microwave so I just heated up some leftovers since I had the munchies. Place the bowl of dough in the microwave leaving the bowl of water inside too. Do not turn on the microwave and keep the door shut. The warm and moist environment will help the dough rise usually in 30-40 minutes. I used the same trick for the second rising. No, I didn’t make me more food to eat, lol. This time I heated up Spencer’s mac-n-cheese for him. For the second rise it only took 15 minutes doing this trick. These photos may look like I’ve used a gazillion different bowls, lol. This is because they were taken when I made a batch of normal cinnamon rolls and the next day I also took photos of making the cinnamon rolls in a heart shape. So it’s two days worth of baking and photography!

Enjoy!

Lasagna Soup

So I found this Paula Deen Lasagna Soup recipe on Pinterest. The hubby is part German and I’m part Filipino but when given a choice, we often will choose Italian. Our entire family loves Italian dishes. So of course we had to try this recipe. I know this sounds really freaking crazy but we did alter Paula’s recipe to suit our family’s taste. For one, I don’t have thyme on the spice rack. I know, for some that is a crime but we just don’t have too many recipes that call for it. So we instead used Mrs. Dash seasoning. Secondly, the original recipe calls for only a small portion of broken lasagna noodles. I don’t know about you but what am I going to do with a box of partly missing lasagna noodles? It’s not enough to make lasagna. I know it would end up getting wasted so we increased the liquid content of this soup so that we can use the entire box of lasagna noodles. We as a family love noodles anyways. So here’s our version of Lasagna Soup, feel free to try ours or Paula’s. Ours turned out fantastic and I’m sure Paula’s would too!

Printed Recipe: Lasagna Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef or ground chuck

  • 1 small onion, diced small

  • 1 green pepper, diced small

  • 1.5 teaspoons of World Spice Minced Garlic (or 3 cloves of garlic, minced)

  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons Mrs.Dash seasoning

  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese 

  • 32 oz box chicken broth

  • 2 – 14.5oz cans petite diced tomatoes

  • 15oz can tomato sauce

  • Box of lasagna noodles, broken into large pieces

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large skillet, add minced garlic, diced onions, diced bell pepper and ground beef/ground chuck. Cook over medium-high heat until beef is fully cooked. Drain.

Add cooked meat mix to a large stockpot. Add Italian seasoning, Mrs. Dash seasoning, brown sugar, Parmesan cheese, chicken broth, both cans of diced tomatoes and can of tomato sauce. Take the two cans of diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce and fill each can with room-temp water. Add the 3 cans of water to the stockpot.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat down between low-to medium heat. Continue to cook soup for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

After 20 minutes, add the broken lasagna noodles. Continue to cook at same temperature for another 20 minutes or until the noodles are al dente. Stir frequently so the noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the stockpot.

Turn oven on to broil. While waiting for the oven to heat up, spoon soup into oven safe bowls.

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the soup.

Broil soup until cheese is melted and bubbly. This only takes 1-2 minutes so watch it closely. Use potholders to remove the bowls, bowls will be HOT! Lasagna soup is yummy and cheesy! It tastes just like lasagna without the hassle of layering ingredients! If you have the time, we also make a 21-Layer Easy Lasagna that is super fantastic, give that recipe a try too!

Making Store Bought Cake Mixes and Frosting Taste Like it was Homemade

Rhonda is one of my bestest of best friends! And today is her birthday! Typically she is the one making cupcakes for everyone else’s birthday so I decided to make her some special cupcakes to go along with her birthday gift! Rhonda loves the zebra stripe pattern so when I saw THIS WEBSITE that showed how to make a zebra stripes pattern using the cake batter, I knew this is how I was going to make her cupcakes! It was a labor of love but they really turned out fantastic!

wagon_wheel

I am not one to recreate the wheel. This is evident in most of my recipes. I use what is already available and either tailor it to our family’s tastes or enhance the recipe. Store bought cake mixes and tubs of frosting are so affordable that I often use them versus trying to bake totally from scratch. You can make store bought cake mixes and frosting taste like they are home-made with just very few changes in the directions!

For the cake mix, you only need to substitute and increase certain ingredients. Look at the directions on the box and do the following to create a home-made tasting cake:

1. Add one extra egg than what is on the directions

2. Substitute the oil for butter/margarine and double the amount on the directions

3. Lastly, use milk instead of water

Your cake turns out moister every time! Since I was making a zebra pattern, I used a devil’s food mix and a white cake mix.

For the tub of frosting, spoon out all of it into a medium-sized bowl.

1. Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar

2. Add 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla

3. Using a mixer, beat the frosting for 2-3 minutes making sure the powdered sugar and vanilla is well combined.

If you are tinting your frosting with food dye, add the dye when you add the powdered sugar and vanilla. When you beat the frosting, the frosting whips up and creates slightly more frosting to work with! The powdered sugar helps to “stiffen” the frosting making it easier to use with docorative tips and pastry bags. And vanilla just makes everything taste better!

I even found these cute zebra print cupcake liners! Of course, I should have read the package or looked closer at the cups themselves. Turns out the outer layer cups had the zebra stripes pattern but within those were tiger stripes and a giraffe pattern. The tigers stripes and giraffe pattern were cute but I was only wanting the zebra stripes. That’s ok though, sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches!

I placed the zebra cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. To create zebra stripes using cake batter, you will need two teaspoons, one for each batter. In the center of the cupcake liner, dollop a teaspoon white cake batter. I would gently smack the cupcake pan to help “spread” the batter in the bottom of the cupcake liner. Then dollop a teaspoon of the devil’s food cake batter. Again, gently smack the the cupcake pan to help the devil’s food batter to spread out over the white batter.Try to dollop the devil’s food cake batter into the center of the white cake batter without it covering the edge of the white cake batter.

You are creating rings of batter. When you dollop, try dolloping it with a little force so that the new batter pushes down on the previous dollop. This will cause the batter to spread out and up. Hope that makes sense. Continue alternating dollops, with gentle taps between each batter until the cupcake liner is between 1/2 and 3/4 full. Repeat with the remaining cake batter until all the cupcake liners are filled. Bake the cupcakes following the package directions (usually for 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees). Didn’t they turn out cute as a button?! Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before icing.

I wanted to make the cupcakes even more special so I decided to pipe by hand chocolate letters. This is really easy to do! First, print off the letters from your computer. Try to choose letters with thick lines and be sure there is enough space between the letters so that the chocolate letters don’t melt into each other. I always use Wilton candy melts for all my chocolate needs because it does set up completely once cooled. I taped the paper with the printed letters onto a cookie sheet. I then taped a piece of wax paper on top of the paper with letters.

Using the letters as a guide, pipe out the chocolate onto the wax paper. I happen to have a mini bottle for piping chocolates. You could just add the melted candy melts to a Ziploc bag and snip off the corner (make a small hole). The chocolate is melted so it is a little warm to hold but it was tolerable for me. If it is too warm to touch, just let it cool for a few minutes. If it cools too much and begins to “set”, just add hot water to a cup and put your bottle or Ziploc into the cup to get the chocolate to melt enough to work with it again.

I waited a few minutes to let the chocolate set up and then went back over each design again to thicken up the chocolate letters and designs. Once all the letters or designs are piped (I made hearts too), place the entire cookie sheet into the freezer for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the chocolate is fully set and solid.

I used a large round tip shoved into the corner of a Ziploc for the frosting. I snipped a tiny corner off and shoved the tip into it. I then taped the Ziploc and tip together to make sure the tip didn’t move and so that icing wouldn’t get between the tip and the Ziploc. After doctoring the icing up and adding enough red food coloring to create a pretty pink color (see directions above), I spooned it into the Ziploc. The easy way to get icing into a pastry bag or Ziploc is to use a large cup. Place the tip end of the Ziploc inside the cup and fold the edge over the cup. The cup basically holds the the pastry bag or Ziploc up for you. I should have taken a picture of this but I think most folks know this trick. I started at the outer edge of the cupcake and iced in a continuous spiral all the way to the center of the cupcake. Once all the cupcakes were frosted, I set them aside to allow the frosting to “set”.

When I took the chocolate out of the freezer, I didn’t have to scrape the letters to get them off the wax paper. Just a gentle push did the trick! I arranged the frosted cupcakes onto a large cookie sheet covered in foil. I then gently laid the letters onto the frosting for each cupcake. I gently poked it into the frosting so that the frosting would stick a little to the chocolate letter. I placed the letters at an angle so they would stand up slightly. I thought it turned out really cute!

I cut up a cupcake so you can see the zebra stripes. This turned out so adorable that I look forward to making a zebra stripe cake in the future.

I loved the way these cupcakes turned out! I know Rhonda will love it too because she knows first-hand the time and effort it takes to turn ordinary cupcakes into something extraordinary!

Happy Birthday Rhonda!

The Pack Family loves you!

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

One of our favorite dishes to order at any Italian restaurant is Fettuccine Alfredo. The rich, creamy and buttery sauce is pure decadence! It also typically is one of the most expensive dishes to order, bummer! So we created our own affordable version and we love it! This recipe will easily feed 8-10 adults a very hearty portion. If you are cooking for a small army, this may just be the perfect and affordable dish to make!

Printable Directions: Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter/margarine

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

  • 6 garlic cloves minced

  • 6 cups heavy cream (need 2 of the carton in the picture, there will be leftover)

  • 1.5 teaspoons black pepper

  • 1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese

  • 24 ounces fettuccini noodles (2 boxes)

  • 22 ounces of frozen, fully cooked fajita chicken (thawed) or a rotisserie chicken that has been deboned

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large (deep) stockpot, melt butter with olive oil over low to medium heat.

Add garlic, heavy cream and pepper. Bring mix to a hot simmer stirring often (approximately 20 minutes). We use Minced Garlic by Spice World. It is already chopped down and ready to be added to any recipe. There is a conversion table on the jar to let you know how much of a teaspoon equates to a clove of garlic.

Once the cream mix has simmered to a warm sauce, add the Parmesan cheese and stir well. Continue to cook over low to medium heat for 10 minutes stirring very frequently. Sauce will thicken.

While the sauce is thickening, cook pasta in another stockpot following the package directions. Drain and set aside. Also chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Heat chicken in a microwave safe bowl.

Once sauce has thickened, add the mozzarella cheese and stir constantly till smooth (for approximately 5 minutes).

Add the chicken and fettuccini noodles to the alfredo sauce. Serve immediately.

A truly good alfredo sauce is slow cooked to perfection and typically doesn’t heat up well. That’s pretty much when you know it is a good sauce because it is “clumpy” when reheated. This recipe makes so much chicken fettuccine alfredo so we do end up with leftovers. We still heat it up in the microwave but the cheeses separate and it isn’t so pretty. Don’t get me wrong, the flavor is still out of this world but the sauce isn’t as smooth as when you first make it. So if you are all about presentation, be sure to serve this immediately from the stove. Or if  you are anything like the Packs, who cares if the sauce has separated some? The flavor is still spot on! So slop leftovers on a styrofoam plate, nuke it till it’s warm throughout and enjoy!