Red Velvet and Orange Cheesecake Marbled Cupcakes with Chocolate-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Friday, June 15, 2012

My baby boy, James, turned two this week.  I can't believe how grown up he is!  To celebrate with him, I decided to make cupcakes so we wouldn't be stuck with all the leftovers that a cake brings.  We were just having a few cousins over and this recipe was perfect because we just ended up with one (that I would never have eaten for breakfast the next morning).  I'm sure James didn't appreciate the deliciousness of the cupcakes, but if I'm going to make something, I want to be able to enjoy it!  This recipe is probably one of the best cupcakes I have ever tasted.  They didn't look great (mostly because of my mistake) but they tasted AMAZING!  I got the cupcake recipe from Restless Chipotle and the frosting recipe here

Click here for printable recipe.
Posted by Katie.


Red Velvet Cake- 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 Tbsp. Cocoa
4 Tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk buttermilk (or substitute)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar

Orange Cheesecake-
4 oz. cream cheese (not low fat)
2 Tbsp. freshly grated orange peel
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the velvet cake- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
Use a spatula to scrape any butter mixture off the sides of the bowl and mix again until well blended.
In a separate bowl, mix the food coloring and cocoa until a paste forms.  I didn't have quite enough food coloring so I added in a little water to make the paste.
Add the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture until it is evenly blended.  Scrape sides and check for streaks then blend again.
Add 1/4 cup buttermilk, mix.  Add half the flour, mix.  Add the remaining buttermilk, mix, Add the remaining flour, mix.  Now stir in the baking soda and vinegar until blended.

For the cheesecake- Beat together all ingredients until creamy and well-blended.
Do not whip.
Assemble- Place liners in muffin cups.  Fill about 2/3 with red velvet batter.  Add about a tablespoon of cheesecake batter to the top.  DO NOT OVERFILL like I did :)  If you don't overfill, this would probably make about 15 cupcakes.
Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Below is a picture of what happens if you overfill the cups...
Let cool completely and then make frosting.

Chocolate-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 (16 oz) pkg. powdered sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk (or substitute)

Beat first 4 ingredients until creamy.  In a separate bowl, combine powdered sugar and cocoa.  Gradually add  to butter/cream cheese mixture with buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with powdered sugar mixture.
Beat at low speed until blended after each addition.  Beat until desired consistency.  For good piping consistency, refrigerate until reached.
Pipe or spread frosting over cupcakes.


Orange-Zucchini Loaf with Orange Glaze

Monday, June 11, 2012

One thing I love about summertime is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Although my zucchini plant has not started producing yet, I found a bag of shredded zucchini in my freezer that has been pushed around since last year.  Since I will soon be overwhelmed (hopefully) with the need for freezer space, I needed to use it up.  When I saw this recipe, I knew that this is what I would make with it.  Unfortunately, after going to the store I realized I forgot the lemons.  I improvised and used an orange instead and I think it turned out really well!  It was late at night when I made it and I forgot to take pictures until it was done, but it was so delicious I wanted to share it now.  I think next time I will add more zucchini...

Recipe Source: Nancy Creative

Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by Katie.


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (go here to find out how to make buttermilk with just milk and vinegar)
Juice of 1/2 orange (or 2 Tbsp.)
Zest of 1/2 orange
1 cup shredded zucchini

1 cup powdered sugar
Juice of 1/2 orange


Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a loaf pan and set it aside.

In a large bowl, blend together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat 2 eggs well.  Add canola oil and sugar and blend well.  Add the buttermilk, orange juice and zest and blend it all together.  Add in the flour mixture and zucchini and stir until everything is well blended, but don't over-mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.  

Once loaf is completely cool, prepare the glaze:  Just mix the powdered sugar and orange juice until smooth.  Pour glaze evenly over loaf and let sit until set.



Couscous Citrus Salad

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The other day I told my kids I was making Couscous Citrus Salad and they thought it made a great tongue twister.  Especially if you say "Summer Couscous Citrus Salad"  five times fast.  Go ahead.  Try it.  And then  get the ingredients for this light and refreshing salad.  It is super quick and you can adjust the ingredients to your liking.  I personally think it's really good to eat the left overs the next morning with yogurt for breakfast. I served it with some whipped cream to make it a dessert that's actually good for you.

Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by: Jen


1 c orange juice + water
2 c couscous
1 20 oz can pineapple, drained into cup
2 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained in to cup with pineapple juice
(yes, I know there is only one in the picture, but trust me, you want two)
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
pint strawberries, washed and sliced
1-2 c shredded coconut (forgot to put it in the picture)

zest of lime
kiwi, grapes
finely chopped fresh mint
cream, yogurt
Combine orange juice, juices from fruits plus enough water to make 2 cups.  Bring liquids to a boil.  Once you have gotten a boil, remove from heat and add the couscous.  You should be able to find couscous in the same aisle as the rice in your grocery store.  They'll probably be right next to each other.  Just make sure you get plain couscous and not the flavored stuff.

Stir the couscous with a fork and add the zests.
 Mix in the zests and cover with a lid for 5 minutes.  During those 5 minutes all the liquid will be absorbed.  Also, during that time wash and slice any fruit that you are using.  After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork in order to get it all separated and not have chunks (yes, a technical cooking term, lol) of couscous.
 Add your fruits.  (I actually saved the strawberries for last so I could more gently fold them in.)
 Stir in your coconut.  The more coconut, the more sweeter, so you can be the judge of how much you want.
 It will still be warm at this point, but it will cool down quickly.  Serve as is or serve with cream, or with yogurt and almond slices.  It's completely versatile.  I think this would work with rice as well, but you would have to use twice as much liquid as rice.  (ie 4 cups to 2 cups rice).  Maybe I'll have to try that out.


S'mores bars

Monday, June 4, 2012

It is officially the summer season.  The time for no schoolwork, running through sprinklers, grilling outdoors, and sitting out in beautiful weather.  Unfortunately for me, I don't have access to a grill.  So you know what that means...NO toasted marshmallows.  As bummed as I am about not being able to stand close to a fire and risk burning myself in order to get that perfect, toasty, golden brown, oozy marshmallow, I have decided to find an alternative. Thus S'mores Bars in the oven.  A friend of mine made these for us and she gave me the recipe (which I promptly misplaced).  She said it was from the Hershey's cookbook. (She must have a different cookbook than me, because it's not in mine).  But that's why we have the internet.  So I mostly used the recipe from the Hershey's website here.  I shared it with friends on Memorial Day and they're wanting the recipe (despite their less sugar diet).  My boys think I'm a genius.  And who am I to argue with that!

Click for printable recipe. 

Posted by: Jen

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp honey (optional)
1 1/2 c flour
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt 
1 jar (7 oz)  marshmallow fluff
12 (dozen) graham crackers, broken up into little pieces, NOT CRUMBS
6 Hershey's milk chocolate bars, broken into pieces (or perhaps a cup of milk choc chips)
2-3 c miniature marshmallows

Cream the butter and sugar until well blended and light yellow.  (like you would cookie dough).  Beat in the egg, vanilla, and optional honey.  (I added honey because it's a honey graham cracker and I wanted it to resemble the graham cracker as much as possible).  Mix well together.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and graham cracker crumbs.
Mix until all the flour and crumbs are incorporated.

Grease pan 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan (or use parchment paper). You can use a 9 x 13 pan as well and the bars will be a little thicker.  Press the dough into the pan evenly.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Remove and increase oven temperature to 450 or turn it to broil.  

 While your crust is baking, prepare the S'mores topping.  Now here is where I disagree with the Hershey's website.  The website says to mix together all the marshmallow fluff and other S'mores ingredients together in a bowl and then spread on the crust.  Well, I'm here to tell you that I did that and it was a pain!  
 So, instead, grease your spoon or spatula before spreading on the fluff.  That way it won't stick too much while you're spreading it.  Spread the fluff on the warm crust.  
Then sprinkle on your chocolate pieces, marshmallows, and graham crackers evenly over the fluff.  
 Bake in 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until your marshmallows get melted and toasted.  OR place under broiler for about 1-2 minutes until the marshmallows are golden.  DO NOT WALK AWAY at this moment.  Cause the graham crackers will burn the minute you turn your back!

 Grease a knife and slice into bars.  I think it's easier to slice them when warm than when it's all cooled.  Or if you use parchment paper, then make it be a little larger than the pan so you have "handles" to lift out the bars.  Then grease a pizza slicer and slice through your bars.


Meatball Stroganoff in a crockpot

Friday, June 1, 2012

The other day I realized that I had all the ingredients for Beef Stroganoff, including the beef cubes.  Except that particular day I was feeling a little lazy and I didn't want to thaw the beef, and then take my chances with the beef being more cooked and chewy than I like.  So, I decided to make it with frozen meatballs instead.  There are quite a few recipes online and this is a grouping of a couple different ones plus a couple things of my own.  It was a great meal to have with company on a Sunday evening (cause once the crockpot was on, I could take my Sunday afternoon nap).  My boys asked for seconds, they thought it was quite good. 

Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by: Jen

1 bag frozen meatballs
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef broth (or use a beef bouillon cube and enough water as called for to make about 2 cups if you didn't have beef broth like me)
1/2 (or whole depending on your taste) onion, finely diced
1 can mushrooms (or 1/2 cup chopped fresh ones)
1-2 tsp garlic powder (depends on your taste_
2 Tbsp A1 sauce
dash(es) of paprika, salt, and pepper to taste
1 c sour cream
1 pkg egg noodles (or boiled potatoes, or cooked rice)
(Like how I crossed out chicken and wrote beef on the can of broth?  I don't want to confuse any readers!)

IF your meatballs are NOT precooked, (like mine) then cook them in the oven according to directions.  (I suppose you could place uncooked ones in the crockpot, but I don't know how long that would take to cook because you can't really brown beef in a crockpot).

IF your meatballs are already precooked, then just add them frozen to your crockpot.

Meanwhile, add the soup, broth, mushrooms (if canned), A1 sauce, and spices to your crockpot.  Mix well.  Turn heat on low.
 Add cooked meatballs. (unless they're already in there because they're precooked)
 Mix it all together well.

IF your meatballs are frozen and precooked, then cook everything on LOW for 8-10 hours (or high for 4-6) until meatballs are all heated through. 

IF your meatballs were cooked in the oven and are therefore already warm, then cook everything on LOW for 3 hours to get all the flavorings well blended.
 3 hours later (after your nap) or 8 or so hours later after you get home from work, then add 1 c sour cream.  Mix in well and your sauce will lighten in color.  Replace the lid and let it continue to cook on low for about 20 minutes. (or until noodles are done)
 Meanwhile boil your water and cook your noodles.
 When the noodles are done, then add to your sauce and mix well so the noodles are covered.  You can skip this step and just let people spoon the sauce over their noodles (potatoes or rice) as they wish.
 Serve with a good green salad and sit back knowing how little work you had to do, but bask in the glory of all the compliments of a job well done.
*Note:  yes, I doubled everything in this recipe to serve with company of 4 extra adults.  If you double it and you use precooked frozen meatballs, then use a bigger (6 qt) crockpot, or even microwave your meatballs for about 5 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker. I'm not sure how much longer it would need to cook with twice the meatballs.  


About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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