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Pumpkin Bundt Cake from Alida's Kitchen

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

This easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make using simple pantry ingredients! Pumpkin Bundt Cake | alidaskitchen.com

Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a simple and delicious pumpkin pound cake, with warm spices and pumpkin-y goodness throughout.  What attracted me to this recipe, aside from a slight pumpkin obsession, is that the ingredients are simple pantry items that I have on hand at all times.  What made me fall in love with the recipe, aside from it being delicious, was how easy it was to make. The batter took me less than 10 minutes to whip together.  Then bake for about an hour, let it cool, and voila!  You have an elegant and versatile dessert that will happily feed a crowd or, in our case, treat a small family for a week. 🙂

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Not only will this Pumpkin Bundt Cake be excellent served alongside your holiday cookie platter, but it would also be a tasty alternative at Thanksgiving dinner or even served at a brunch.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
 
Yields: 24 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10-inch bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and add vanilla with the last egg.
  4. To the egg mixture, alternate adding flour mixture and pumpkin, beating well on medium-low after each addition.
  5. Pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a tootpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Let cool completely and then dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Slightly adapted from Taste of Home

Pumpkin Bundt Cake | alidaskitchen.com

Easy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Easy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies are a simplified version of a chewy homemade Oreo cookie.  The chocolate cookies are soft, yet sturdy and the filling is a sweetened cream cheese frosting.  The dough literally took me 5 minutes minutes to whip together.  I feared the dough would be gooey and messy to work with, but it was quite firm and rolled into balls by hand without a huge sticky mess.

These cookies are fun any holiday or celebration because you can color the filling to suit any occasion or simply roll the sides in sprinkles for a cute, colorful decoration.  The recipe yields a generous amount of cookies, which is perfect if you’re looking to share.  It also halves easily, which is what I did…(I still shared though) 🙂

I am sharing these delicious yet super easy cookies as part of Week 4 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic.  While this recipe makes plenty and these cookies are perfect for any holiday cookie platter, I made them pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Week hosted by Erin of Dinners, Dishes and DessertsTo conclude Breast Cancer Awareness Week, tomorrow Erin is hosting a giveaway, so be sure to visit Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on Friday for a chance to win!

Be sure to check out the thumbnails at the bottom of this post and visit the other bloggers who are posting amazing recipes today in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, and also for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!

Easy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
 
Yields: approximately 4 dozen sandwich cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 packages devil's food cake mix
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened - (I used Neufachtel / ⅓ less fat)
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring or sprinkles for decorating, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat cake mixes, eggs and oil until combined (Note: I used a hand mixer; batter will be very stiff).
  3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Using the side of a silicone spatula, press to flatten the balls slightly.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling. (Note: I baked the cookies the night before and did the filling the next day).
  5. For the filling: In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add food coloring, if desired.
  6. Spread filling on bottom of half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies. Finish decorating, as desired.

Source:  Taste of Home: Best Loved Cookies and Bars

Be sure to check out the bloggers who are supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Week for some delicious pink and/or healthy recipes! 

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers who are participating this week in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop. And if you’re a blogger and want to join in on the fun, check out this post for the form to fill out to start baking along with us

chocolate cream cheese chocolate chips cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes are one of my favorite desserts to make (and eat!).  They are chocolate cake and chocolate chip cheesecake at its finest, and they are so quick and easy to make.  The chocolate cake is a nice and light basic chocolate cake, which pairs nicely with the rich chocolate chip cheesecake filling.  The cheesecake filling takes the place of buttery frosting, which makes these cupcakes a lighter option.  They’re also less messy, making these one of my go-tos when I’m in charge of bringing a dessert.  Everybody always loves them.  Black Bottom Cupcakes are made with simple ingredients that can be kept on hand at all times, making them perfect for parties, travel, potlucks, or simply when the craving strikes.


Black Bottom Cupcakes
 
Yields: 18-24 cupcakes
Ingredients
FILLING:
  • 8-ounce block Neufachtel cream cheese (1/3 less fat), room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used miniature chips)
CAKE:
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin cups with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. First make the filling: In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and egg until combined and fluffy. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.
  3. Then make then cake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt (if using). Make a well in the center.
  4. In a small bowl, stir water, oil, vinegar and vanilla until combined. (Note: I just mix everything in my liquid measuring cup...one less dish to wash).
  5. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, pouring into the well. Fold gently until well blended.
  6. Divide cake batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Then divide the filling evenly over cake batter by spooning a dollop of the cream cheese filling over the cake batter.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake is set. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Adapted from allrecipes.com

peanut butter peanut butter chip chocolate chewy cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies

I don’t even know where to begin about these cookies. They have the peanut butter and chocolate combination, which we all know and love. But these Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies are truly not any ordinary chocolate and peanut butter cookie. They are amazingly chewy, without being cakey. They have a delicious balance of peanut butter and chocolate. These cookies are made without any butter and have yogurt and oats to add some wholesome goodness (dare I suggest this makes them fit for breakfast?)

A couple tips:  When flattening the cookies before baking, keep in mind they will spread.  Just flatten them a little bit and you will be fine.  Keep an eye on the bake time, because over baking the cookies will result in a less chewy cookie.  I baked mine for 8 minutes and that was perfect with my oven…but definitely keep an eye on them.

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies
 
Yields: 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup rolled oats (I used quick oats)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter chips
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, oats, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until blended. Beat in eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.
  5. On prepared cookie sheets, place rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart.
  6. Dip the bottom of a class in water, and then dip the class in turbinado sugar. Using the sugared glass, flatten the dough slightly, leaving a thin layer of sugar on top. Re-wet glass, as needed.
  7. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes (be sure not to over bake!). Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Barely adapted from Eating Well

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I was flipping through one of my holiday cookie publications recently, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.  Made with no flour and only 3 simple ingredients, I was intrigued by how seemingly easy these cookies were.  Not only are these Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies easy to make, they are super tasty too.  I was pleasantly surprised at how something so simple can be so incredible!  The result is a soft and chewy cookie that is perfectly peanut buttery.  While perfect as-is, a cup of chocolate chips or chopped peanuts would be a delicious addition to this recipe.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Yields: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, sugar and egg together until blended. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up the dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  3. Drop dough by tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheet and flatten with the tines of a fork, creating a cross-hatch pattern. (Tip: It is helpful to spray fork with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to cookie).
  4. Bake for 8 minutes (Note: Be careful not to overbake, otherwise it will result in a crisper cookie). Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Taste of Home: Holiday Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Last Saturday was a special anniversary.  An anniversary worthy of these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes made with chocolate cake, filled with peanut butter and topped with a fluffy chocolate frosting.  These cupcakes are light, decadent and perfect to celebrate this milestone anniversary.  This anniversary in question, or blog-o-versary as some call it, marks the 1 year anniversary of Alida’s Kitchen!

The chocolate/peanut butter combination is always a winner for any celebration.  I doubled the amount of peanut butter filling from the original recipe, which resulted in a generous amount of peanut butter.  It had a good peanut butter to chocolate ratio, which is key.  I used my go-to chocolate frosting, which is a classic and pipes really nicely. 

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes were super easy to make and the result was the perfect treat to celebrate the 1 year blog-o-versary of Alida’s Kitchen.  I want to thank you all so much for visiting and for cooking and baking with me this past year! 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Yields 24 cupcakes

Ingredients
FILLING:
6 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese (the 1/3 less fat kind), at room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons skim milk

CAKE:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup water
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FROSTING:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make Filling:  In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and milk until combined.  Set aside.
  2. Make Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, water, milk, oil and vanilla.  Fold into dry ingredients until just moistened.  (note: batter will be thin).
  5. Fill prepared muffin cups half full with batter. 
  6. Divide filling evenly amongst the 24 cups, dropping spoonfuls of filling in the center of each cup (Tip: using a scale is handy for measuring and even distribution.  If you don’t have a scale, The filling amounts to approx. a generous rounded tablespoon per cupcake). 
  7. Cover each cup with remaining batter.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and the move cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Once cooled, frost with chocolate frosting and decorate as desired.  
  10. Make Frosting:  Melt the butter. Whisk in the cocoa powder, whisking until smooth.
  11. Stir in vanilla and alternately add powdered sugar and milk, using a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to beat to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed.

Source for cake and filling: Taste of Home; frosting: Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Cheddar Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Shallots

When I started planning for the Drumstick summer celebration from Monday’s post, I decided on the menu immediately and was so excited!  The theme was going to be a Mexican twist on summer barbecue favorites.  It was, until I received the most recent issue of Cooking Light and saw the Cheddar Cheeseburger with Caramelized Shallots.  These looked so good, I shifted the menu to a more traditional barbecue.

These burgers are delicious, garlicky, and combined with the sharp cheddar, caramelized shallots and arugula, all result in one amazing burger!  I prepared the patties the night before, which helped intensify the garlic flavor.  Since we’re working with very lean beef, it is important not to overhandle the beef for the risk of it becoming tough/dry.  Cooking Light shared a helpful tip for working with leaner ground beef: when mixing the garlic and beef, use a [silicone] spatula, instead of your hands, so the heat from your hands won’t melt away the little fat there is.  It worked quite well, and the result was a perfect “lean-er” burger.  I enjoyed mine plain, while Mike and my dad enjoyed theirs with some ketchup.

With grilling season upon us, these Cheddar Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Shallots are definitely a must-make!

Cheddar Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Shallots
 
Yields: 4 burgers
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef, 92% lean
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 2-3 large shallots)
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about ½ cup)
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted (I used onion buns from a local bakery)
  • Ketchup (optional, for topping)
  • Mayonnaise (optional, for topping)
Instructions
  1. Prepare burger: Using a silicone spatula, gently combine beef and garlic. (Be careful not to over-handle meat).
  2. Divide beef into 4 equal portions, shaping into a ½" think patty. Press a small indentation in the center of each burger. Sprinkle evenly with ¼ teaspoon salt. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  3. Caramelize shallots: Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar, cook for an additional minute and the remove from heat. Keep warm.
  4. Grill burger: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. If needed, spray grate with grilling cooking spray or rub with oil. Cook for approximately 3 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Top each burger with 2 tablespoons cheese and cook for 1 minute, or until cheese melts.
  5. Assemble: Place ¼ cup arugula on bottom half of bun; top 1 burger and ¼ of the shallots. If desired, spread ketchup or mayonnaise (or desired topping) on top half of buns, and place on top of burgers. Enjoy!

Source:  Cooking Light, June 2012

easy warm chocolate pudding cakes with a toasted marshmallow

Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes

Now I always strive to share healthier recipes with you, but when I saw Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes in the latest issue of All You, I could not resist. Chocolate pudding cake is enough to make me swoon, but add a melty toasted marshmallow on top…are you kidding me?  Must make pronto!

Fortunately I had everything on hand, and it all seemed easy enough.  I have 7-ounce ramekins instead of 6-ounce per the original recipe, but figured that wouldn’t be a big deal.   Then I decided it was necessary to test the make-ahead capability of this recipe.  Let’s just say when I told Mike that we would be having pudding cakes with a marshmallow on top two days in a row, there was very little arm-twisting involved.

To be honest, I cannot remember what we had for dinner that night, what I did the next day or anything in between, but I do remember every single little bite of these pudding cakes.  The chocolate is perfectly dark and decadant.  The marshmallow oozes and provides a nice sweetness to complement the chocolate. Plus, they’re cute.  For a special occasion, such as Valentine’s Day, or any celebratory occasion, Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes will rock your world.  Perfect to make-ahead for guests, for yourselves, for whatever reason suits you.

Marshmallow-Topped Chocolate Pudding Cakes
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet choocolate, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 4 6-ounce (or 7-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and chocolate in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until almost melted (about 1 to 2 minutes). Stir until smooth. Mix in flour and set aside to cool.
  3. With an electric mixer (hand or stand) on medium-high, beat sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt for about 5 minutes, until smooth and frothy. Fold in chocolate mixture. Divide batter among ramekins.
  4. Bake until cakes have risen and cracked on top but wet in center (12 to 15 minutes). Do not overbake.
  5. Press a marshmallow in the top of the cake. Set your oven to broil and broil cakes until marshmallow is puffy and starts to brown (keep an eye on it, but about 2 minutes). Put on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
Cakes can be made ahead through step 3 and stored (covered) in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Baking time does not need to be adjusted, just keep an eye on the cakes.

Adapted from All You, Feb 2012

 

Four Cheese Lasagna

If we were ranking dinner favorites in our household, this Four Cheese Lasagna would be #1 without question.  There is cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese.  And if you’re so inclined, the potential for even more cheese.  Yes.  Yum.  Amazing.  In fact, I had an entirely different recipe planned to share with you today, but……I decided it would be wrong of me to keep this from you any longer. It is so good!

I made very few changes from the original recipe, because frankly it’s darn near perfect.  A few items of note:  I have used light butter and regular butter – either one works fine.  I always use skim milk and low fat ricotta cheese, yielding fabulous results.  I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make it vegetarian.    The first time I made this, I added gorgonzola, the optional fifth cheese, and prefer it without.  It adds an interesting dimension to the dish, but I realized I’m not really a gorgonzola fan.

There is a little extra time involved in making this lasagna, but every second is worth it.  This lasagna can be served as an elegant dinner for company or as an incredible treat for a lazy Sunday, and the leftovers heat up perfectly!

Four Cheese Lasagna
 
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated finely (about 1 cup), divided
  • 15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups skim milk
  • 1½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 15 no-boil noodles
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 3 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about ¾ cup) (optional, see note)
Instructions
  1. In a large glass bowl, place Gruyere and ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, black pepper and parsley. Set both bowls aside.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add shallots and garlic, stirring frequently until soft (about 2 minutes). Stir in flour until thoroughly combined, about 1½ minutes (mixture should not brown). Gradually whisk in milk and broth; increase heat to high, cover and bring to a full boil, whisking frequently. Add salt, cayenne and bay leaf, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until sauce thickens (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and discard bay leaf. Gradually whisk in ¼ cup sauce into ricotta mixture. Pour remaining sauce over Gruyere mixture and stir until smooth; set aside while softening noodles.
  5. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place noodles in a 13-by-9 inch baking dish and cover with very hot tap water; soak 10 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from dish and place in a single layer on kitchen towels and pat dry. Wipe out baking dish and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Pour ½ cup sauce in the bottom of baking dish. Place 3 noodles in a single layer over sauce. Spread ½ cup ricotta mixture over noodles and sprinkle evenly with ½ cup fontina. Drizzle ½ cup sauce over cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, fontina and sauce 3 more times. Place final 3 noodles over the top and cover with remaining sauce, spreading with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
  7. Spray large sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover lasagna; bake until edges are bubbling, about 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Remove foil and turn the oven to broil. * Broil until surface turns spotty brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley, cut into pieces and serve.
Notes
* If your dish is not safe under the broiler, turn oven up to 500 degrees and cook for 10 minutes, or until spotty brown on top.

Note: If you want to include gorgonzola cheese, sprinkle it on top of the fontina on each layer.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen

 

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes with Pink Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting

It seems we save cupcakes for a special occasion – to celebrate a birthday, a holiday, an accomplishment, etc.  When I made these cupcakes, I didn’t have any particular occasion in mind.  I decided to make these Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes ‘just because.’  Just because it’s been a while since I last made cupcakes.  Just because there is always a reason to celebrate something.  Just because citrus is aplenty right now,…let’s try something new!

These cupcakes are really easy to make and a unique way to enjoy grapefruit.  The cake alone has a subtle citrus flavor – just enough grapefruit flavor without being overpowering.  When topped with the grapefruit cream cheese frosting, it becomes dangerouly good.  The cream cheese gives the right amount of tang to balance the grapefruit flavor and brings it all together into a sweet and delicious cupcake.

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes were fun to make, fun to eat, and fun to share…all just because. 😉

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes with Pink Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Yields: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulates sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (nonfat or 2% reduced-fat)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pink grapefruit zest (1 softball-sized grapefruit yielded approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • Frosting:
  • 4 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, chilled (block)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pink grapefruit zest
  • 2 teaspoons pink grapefruit juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix until smooth.
  4. To the butter mixture, add half of flour mixture, and combine; repeat with remaining flour mixture. Add yogurt and vanilla, blending with a rubber spatula. Fold in zest, mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (about ⅔ full). Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, place cream cheese in a medium bowl and baet on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla zest and juice, beating until smooth. Frost cupcakes as desired.
Notes
If not serving immediately, cupcakes/frosting should be refrigerated, otherwise, the frosting gets too soft. When serving, let cupcake sit out for 10-15 minutes at room temperature.

Adapted from Health

easy parmesan black pepper buttermilk drop biscuits

Parmesan-Black Pepper Drop Biscuits

There is nothing better than having warm fresh buns, bread or biscuits at the dinner table. Due to the time involved, that is often saved for the weekend. We’re always looking for quick and easy dinners, including accompaniments. Enter the wonderful world of drop biscuits! By simply dropping the dough instead of rolling and cutting, these can be made in around 15 minutes ~ just the amount of time you need to sear your meat, set the table, make a salad, catch up on your blog reading…or whatever you need to do. The result is fresh warm biscuits in no time. How nice is that!

From the original recipe, I used Parmesan cheese instead of Asiago cheese, as I was trying to use up what I had on hand.  Either way is really good.  I added garlic powder, which definitely enhances the flavor in these biscuits.  I have tried using whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour and found the whole wheat pastry flour yielded subpar results.  Light butter or regular butter work fine, but I’m always happy to shave off some calories if the light version works in a recipe.
Parmesan-Black Pepper Drop Biscuits are versatile, quick and easy to make.  Great for a weeknight dinner, a last minute side or simply just because you’re craving warm biscuits.
Parmesan-Black Pepper Drop Biscuits
 
Yields: 8 biscuits
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons light butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (or Asiago cheese)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in medium bowl.
  3. Into flour mixture, cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 knives) until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cheese and toss well to combine. Add buttermilk and fold until just moist.
  4. Drop dough into 8 equal mounds on lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are browned.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Grandma’s Peanut Blossoms

Peanut Blossoms are a holiday cookie staple around our house, as well as many others.  This popular peanut butter cookie topped with a Hershey’s Kiss is not only delicious, but it is such a cute addition to the cookie plate.  There are countless versions of this type of cookie, but today I have a special treat for you.  Today I am sharing with you this recipe from my grandma!  When she was alive, one of her favorite things to do was to make dozens of types of cookies, bars, candies, cakes, etc. for the holidays.  She put such care in the execution of each recipe she made.  It was impressive, to say the least.  She was always so excited and proud to show us the vast array of goodies she made for us each year.  So as I sit here right now, sharing one of my favorite Grandma recipes,…I know she would be excited and proud to share it with you as well.

Happy Holidays!

Grandma’s Peanut Blossoms
Yields 3 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) light butter (or regular butter, per the original recipe)
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
granulated sugar, for rolling
36 chocolate Hershey’s Kisses candies, unwrapped

  1. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter until blended. 
  3. Gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar to peanut butter mixture – cream well.  Add unbeaten egg and vanilla – beat well. 
  4. Blend in dry ingredients gradually (Note: I do this step by hand using a wooden spoon) and mix thoroughly.  Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (Note: I typically chill overnight).
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Shape dough into balls using a rounded teaspoonful for each.  Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Top each cookie with a Hershey’s Kiss candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge.  Return to oven and bake 2 to 5 minutes longer until golden brown.  Move cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Reindeer Snack Mix

What happens when you cross peanuts with pretzels and Reese’s peanut butter puffs cereal? This Reindeer Snack Mix, that’s what! Each ingredient on its own is fabulous, of course. When mixed together with some melted white chocolate, you have a snack mix that is really too good for words. Yes folks, I am speechless. Or maybe I am just too busy stuffing my face with more snack mix. 🙂 Either way, I will simply leave you with this. It’s the holidays. You are bound to have guests or to be a guest. Here is a fun and easy little snack that will leave everybody singing your praises this holiday season!

Reindeer Snack Mix
 
Yields: about 3 quarts
Ingredients
  • 4½ cups Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs
  • 4 cups miniature pretzels
  • 12 ounces lightly salted peanuts
  • 12 ounces white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine cereal, pretzels and peanuts.
  2. In a microwave, melt the white chocolate chips; stir until smooth.
  3. Pour melted white chocolate over cereal mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Immediately spread onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Let stand until set, about 20 minutes. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

Source: Taste of Home: Cookies and more!

chocolate mint crackle cookies {Alida's Kitchen}

Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies

How fun are crackle cookies ~  they are delicious and so festive!  The powdered sugar looks like a lovely dusting of snow on top of the cookies, putting me in a holiday frame of mind.  Considering we have no snow on the ground, a little winter reminder is very welcome.  (We live in Minnesota, it’s winter, where is our snow???)  So this year, at least for now, we all can enjoy our snow vicariously through these crackle cookies.  I could definitely get used to the powdered sugar variety of snow…especially on top of chocolate cookies.  Even better…on top of mint chocolate cookies.  These Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies are perfectly chewy without being cakey.  They are chocolate with a hint of mint.  They are classic holidays cookies at their finest.  This winter is looking better already!

Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies
 
Yields: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) light butter, melted
  • ¾ teaspoon pure mint extract
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar
Instructions
  1. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (or using a double boiler), stirring frequently.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and cocoa.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and butter. Gradually whisk in melted chocolate and mint extract, until smooth. Fold in flour mixture until combined. Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls, then roll in confectioners' sugar to coat. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each 1 inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until slightly firm in center.
  5. Let cool slightly on cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December, 2011

pretzel hershey's kiss and m&ms

Pretzel Kiss Candies

Pretzel Kiss Candies are the ultimate salty sweet treat made using only three ingredients. Colors can be customized for holidays and events, making these a go-to for any party! Make a lot, because they disappear quickly!!
Pretzel Kiss Candies | alidaskitchen.com

Pretzel Kiss Candies are a fun and easy treat for the holidays. These candies have been circulating around the web for some time now, and with good reason. They are easy and SO good! You have the salty-sweet thing going on, plus they are a cute addition to your holiday treat plate.  Use your favorite M&Ms for the topper, choosing whatever goes with your celebration.  The white chocolate Hershey’s Hugs tend to melt faster and smoother than their milk chocolate counterparts, but they are both equally delicious.

Simple to make, Pretzel Kiss Candies are perfect for a last minute get together, or simply because they mood strikes you. Whatever the reason, Pretzel Kiss Candies are a must-make for the holidays!

More easy pretzel treats:

Pretzel Kiss Candies | alidaskitchen.com

Pretzel Kiss Candies
 
Yields: varies
Ingredients
  • Square waffle-shaped pretzels
  • Hershey's Hugs or Kisses
  • M&Ms candy, any variety
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Set pretzels on lined cookie sheet. Place an unwrapped Hershey's Hug or Kiss on top of pretzel.
  3. Bake oven for 4-6 minutes until softened (note: Hugs will soften quicker than Kisses). Remove from oven and press an M&M candy into the center of each Hug/Kiss.
  4. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then place in refrigerator to harden for 15 minutes to overnight.

Pretzel Kiss Candies | alidaskitchen.com

Easy Spinach & Cheese Lasagna

While working on clearing out the cupboards in advance of our upcoming move, I found myself faced with 3 boxes of lasagna noodles.  How did that happen!  At least it is something I am happy to use, unlike the random can of soup that I have been avoiding.  In lieu of my usual lasagna recipes, which tend to be a bit more labor intensive, I decided to go with something easy and quick to prepare.  This Easy Spinach and Cheese Lasagna is exactly that…and so good!

This lasagna is first simplified by not boiling the noodles.  I used no-boil noodles, but have used regular noodles in the past and they have worked just fine.  Another step is saved by using a good quality pasta sauce from a jar.  A from scratch sauce would of course be fabulous, but we’re going for easy here.  Mix the filling, layer it up with the sauce and noodles, add water, and pop the pan in the oven.  In a little over an hour, you have an easy, healthy, delicious meal.  This lasagna makes plenty for serving guests, or you can enjoy some great leftovers!    

Easy Spinach and Cheese Lasagna
Yields 6-8 servings

15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (divided)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed, chopped and drained well
3-4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (25-ounce) jar pasta sauce
9 to 12 no-boil uncooked lasagna noodles

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9×13 inch non-reactive baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Paremsan, egg, spinach salt, pepper and Italian herb seasoning.
  3. In another bowl, combine the remaining mozzarella and Paremsan cheese.  This is for the  topping, so set aside.  
  4. Pour 1 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking pan.  Top with a layer of noodles and then a layer of the ricotta-spinach mixture.  Repeat with another layer of noodles and ricotta-spinach mixture.  Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheeses.  Pour 1 cup water around the edges of pan.  
  5. Cover very tightly with non-stick foil (or foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray).  Bake for 1 1/4 hours.  Let stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes before serving.  

Adapted from Whole Foods

Mustard-Rosemary Chicken Skewers


Happy Summer!  ‘Tis the season for visits to the beach, bike rides, and of course, grilling.  I have several favorite recipes exclusive to the grill, so my anticipation of grilling season rivals that of Christmas.  While I enjoy the reliable stand bys, it is always fun to find new and healthy recipes to add to the favorites.  


So in the spirit of summer, when I saw this recipe for Mustard-Rosemary Chicken Skewers, I could not wait to fire up the grill!   Skewers are such a convenient way to serve your meat and veggies, all threaded on a handy little stick.  Plus there is something fun about having dinner on a stick.    

These tasty skewers did not disappoint.  The rosemary, mustard and balsamic vinegar are an incredible flavor combination with the chicken and veggies.  From the original recipe, I reduced the oil, used chicken breast instead of legs, and increased the balsamic vinegar, scallions, and garlic (can never have enough garlic!).  I have written the recipe below according to these changes. 

These skewers are perfect for entertaining at your next summer celebration and have landed a spot on the grilling favorites list in this house.

Have a great weekend!

Mustard-Rosemary Chicken Skewers
Yields 4 servings

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill (or use cooking spray on grill)
1 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

Note: if using wooden skewers, soak for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling…perfect to do while the chicken and vegetables are marinating.

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, salt and black pepper.  Slowly whisk in the oil.
  2. Place chicken, bell pepper and scallions in a Ziploc bag.  Add the marinade, making sure to coat chicken and vegetables. Refrigerate at least 40 minutes.
  3. Heat the grill to medium high and brush with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray).  Thread chicken, peppers and green onions on skewers.  Transfer to grill and cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is charred and no longer pink (approx 8 minutes). 

Adapted from Fitness Magazine