Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chocolate Glazed Cocoa Fudge Cupcakes

My sweet tooth is yelling for chocolate. Tender, cocoa fudge cupcakes with a slight tang and topped with a smooth cocoa fudge chocolate glaze. My pantry shelves contain all of the basics I need. No trip to the store is necessary. This is a kitchen tested, easy recipe that I have adapted slightly. Enjoy making some home made happiness on a plate!

This is a small batch recipe. It makes exactly 12 standard cupcakes if you measure the batter with a measuring spoon AND scrape the bowl with a flexible spatula. 

Cupcake Ingredients  - Prep Time about 20 minutes 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • yogurt buttermilk - 2 rounded, tablespoons of plain yogurt and about 3/4 cup of water
Directions - Baking Time about 20 minutes 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Line cupcake pan cups with liners
  • Place two, rounded tablespoons of plain yogurt in a one cup liquid measuring cup. Add water to measure 3/4 cup. Stir yogurt and water until the mixture is nearly smooth. Set aside.
  • Place your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add shortening, yogurt buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.
  • Mix with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl before beating on high.
  • Beat on high speed for three minutes. I stop after one minute and scrape the bowl sides again. Continue to beat on high for the remaining two minutes. The batter will get fluffy and thick. Do not cut the beating time short, or your cupcakes will not have rounded tops. Want to guess how I know this? 
  • Place about 2 Tbsp. of batter into each liner. I  use a measuring spoon, but my tablespoons are slightly rounded.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes 
  • Remove cupcake pan from the oven and let cupcakes cool in pan about 5 minutes.
  • Remove cupcakes to a cooling rack and cool completely. I cool mine for about 20 minutes and then refrigerate them until they are completely cool.
 Total cooling time is about an hour.

Fudgy Cocoa Chocolate Glaze 

Powdered sugar plus cocoa makes a smooth glaze for cupcakes, donuts (doughnuts), and tops a cooled cake quickly. I love this glaze! It tastes like chocolate fudge. Who doesn't like chocolate fudge? 
Glaze Ingredients - Prep Time about 10 minutes
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. baking cocoa
  • 2-3 Tbsp. hot water
  • Heat butter in a saucepan until melted.
  • Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa with a whisk. It will clump up, but that is okay.
  • Whisk in the hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until the glaze has a smooth consistency like honey or thick syrup. 
  • Using your hand, lightly dip top of each cupcake into the glaze, then tilt cupcake slightly and roll outside edge of cup cake in the glaze. Lift from glaze and continue to turn cupcake once or twice. 
  • Place the cupcake, glazed side up, onto a cooling rack that is over a sheet of waxed paper.
  • Decorate with sprinkles now. The glaze sets up quickly and if you wait to decorate with sprinkles, the glaze will be too hard. Experience is speaking here.
  • Repeat until all of the cupcakes are glazed and decorated. You may have to stir the glaze a time or two.
It is time to enjoy eating some home made happiness on a plate!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SalleeShares - An Opinion About All-Star Academy

All-Star Academy
Today, I have chosen to share about the Food Network show, All-Star Academy. My main reason for watching the show is that it features home cooks competing for $50,000.00 while being mentored by three of my favorite TV chefs, Alex Guarnachelli, Bobby Flay, and Michael Symon.

Episode One
Mentors Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, Michael Symon, and Curtis Stone appeared to be genuinely surprised when Ted Allen told them they were cooking against each other to see who would select a home cook first, and decide the order in which the other mentors could select their home cook team.

Alex appeared to be shocked when Simon Majumdar, "the scariest judge on Food Network," selected her dish as the winner.  Seriously, Alex's mouth dropped open and her eyebrows rose nearly to her hairline.  The very newest Iron Chef beat Iron Chef Bobby Flay AND Iron Chef Michael Symon. What an accomplishment! 

Two home cooks were sent home in the first episode:
Thomas Mann and Mike Castenada

Episodes Two and Three
In each episode, the home cooks reveal facts about themselves in short clips throughout the episode.  Two of the cooks revealed facts that made it evident to me that they were not truly home cooks.

What Is A "Home Cook"?
Honestly, home cook means you cook at home.  You are an amateur, or a novice.  Amateurs do not make money for their cooking UNLESS you enter a cooking contest for other amateurs and win, BUT it is not your main source of income.  Amateurs are not trying to make a living with their cooking. 

A professional, in my opinion, is anyone who has made money with their cooking to earn a living.  If you cook, or have cooked, for a living, you are NOT a home cook!

One home cook was sent home in each episode.
Episode Two – Firefighter Bill Joerger went home after being thanked for participating in the show and for his work as a firefighter by the mentors and Ted Allen. 

Episode Three – August Dannehl went home after cooking a perfect 10 meal, but that is the downside of being on a team.  His team went into the elimination round and the guest judge, Elizabeth Falkner decided that August had cooked the bottom dish. This left his competitive cook teammate, Sharri Williams in the competition. 

Episode Four – Half Way to the Finale!
Episode 4 revealed that one of the remaining home cooks, Sandra Damante, owned a gastropub for a year and a half.  In my opinion, that takes Sandra out of the home cook category and puts her into the professional cook category.  

The other remaining home cooks are:
Angela George – a home cook
Joseph Harris – a home cook
Sharri Williams – a competitive cook who has won 60 cooking competitions.  She quit working full time to cook competitively.  Again in my opinion, Sharri is NOT a home cook.
Vanessa Craig – a home cook who wants to open a catering business when she wins $50,000.00
Mimi Chang – a home cook and mom.  Unfortunately, Mimi has been sent home.

Who will go home next week?  
The 50,000.00 prize can change a life and cause a ferocious case of nerves on national TV. Which cook will succumb to the pressure?

My favorites are Angela George and Vanessa Craig.  Let's see if they have what it takes to make it to the Finale in four weeks.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lazy Day Peach Cheesecake

I am taking it easy today; no involved recipes. Yes, I am having a totally lazy day and there is not any dessert made for supper. How about a no bake cheesecake with peach slices on top? Dessert does not get any easier than this basic cheesecake!

This is a great beginner's recipe that is simple enough for kids to make and assemble, or your non-cooking spouse. 

  • One box of name brand, no bake cheesecake Psst...Here is a clue, the name starts with a J.
  • five Tbsp. of margarine
  • two Tbsp. of granulated white sugar
  • one and a half cups of milk
  • one can of sliced peaches
  • one nine inch spring form cake pan
  • Follow directions on the cheesecake package for the crust.
  • Reserve a teaspoon of crust mix to sprinkle on top of the completed cheesecake.
  • Follow the package directions for the cheesecake filling.
  • After the filling thickens up, open a can of peach slices, pour the contents into a colander, and drain the peach slices.
  • Place the slices in a spiral around the outside edge of the cheesecake. 
  • Remove the spring form pan sides before serving and place the pan bottom and cheesecake onto a flat serving platter.
  • Dessert is ready. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Double Caramel Apple Treats

Caramel apples were my inspiration for these marshmallow cereal squares! Apple flavored cereal rings, caramel and vanilla marshmallows, and homemade caramel drizzle combine wonderfully well to recreate the flavors found in a caramel apple!  The caramel drizzle not only coats the top of these cereal bars, but it forms layers of caramel throughout the double caramel apple treats. Plus, these caramel apple treats are ready to eat in about an hour and ten minutes. 

Apple Treat Ingredients                                   Time: about 20 minutes

7 cups of apple flavored cereal rings

10 oz. bag of caramel and vanilla marshmallows
4 Tbsp. butter, or margarine

  • Lightly coat the inside a 13" x 9" baking dish, or cake pan with butter, or margarine and set it aside.
  • Place butter, or margarine in a microwave safe, two and a half quart bowl.
  • Microwave for 15 seconds and stir until melted. If necessary, microwave an additional 10-15 seconds.
  • Put the caramel and vanilla marshmallows into the bowl and stir until the marshmallows are coated.
  • Microwave for 30 seconds and stir for a minute or two.
  • Microwave for an additional 15 seconds and stir until the marshmallows are melted and smooth.If necessary microwave for another 15 seconds.
  • Stir the apple flavored cereal rings into the marshmallow mixture until the cereal rings are coated evenly. 
  • Spoon the coated apple rings into the 13" x 9" baking dish and level the mixture. Using your clean, buttered hands, gently press the cereal treat mixture down into the pan until it is packed into a uniform layer.
  • Set aside and begin making the caramel drizzle.

Caramel Drizzle Ingredients                                  Time: about 20 minutes

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, or margarine
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  • Put brown sugar, flour, milk, and butter in an eight inch sauce pan. 
  • Stir until mixed fairly well.   
  • Cook over medium to medium high heat stirring occasionally until the caramel mixture comes to a rolling boil.
  • Boil for a minute and a half.
  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat and cool for five minutes.
  • Stir the caramel mixture until it begins to thicken.
  • Add the vanilla to the caramel mixture and beat for about a minute and a half. The mixture should have the consistency of thick syrup.
  • Drizzle across the top of the caramel apple treats using a zig-zag motion.
  • Let the pan of double caramel apple treats set for at least thirty minutes before trying to slice the treats. I have found that a fine tooth, serrated knife slices cereal treats with ease and doesn't crush the cereal.
  • After thirty minutes you can cut the cereal treats into squares and enjoy eating your treats. The bottoms will still be a little sticky, but the treats can be handled. 
Total time: about an hour and ten minutes

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fudgy Cocoa Glazed Biscuit Donuts

Bill and I have been buying doughnuts, or donuts, at the gas station convenience store. We usually buy a box of day old doughnuts that contains glazed doughnuts, long johns with creme filling, frosted cake doughnuts, and jelly-filled doughnuts about once a week. However, we decided to be more frugal and save a few dollars.
Now Bill and I are not going to give up eating donuts! Instead, I will be making quick donuts for us at home. The donuts are quick because the main ingredient consists of refrigerated, buttermilk biscuit dough. That's right, tubes of ready made dough that fries up into golden brown donuts and donut holes that just beg to be dipped into a fudgy, chocolate glaze. 

Alright, the begging for a fudgy, chocolate glaze is an exaggeration, but I LOVE chocolate and everything tastes better when coated in chocolate. Right? 

Are you ready to make some biscuits doughnuts and fudgy cocoa chocolate glaze? Okay, here is how I made mine.

Biscuit Donuts - Yield 20 donuts
  • 2 - 7.5 oz tubes of buttermilk biscuits
  • canola oil
  • small amount of flour
  • 1M piping tip 
  • candy/frying thermometer
  • Open the two tubes of biscuits.
  • Separate the biscuits.
  • Dip the wide end of a 1M decorating tip into a small amount of flour and then cut a hole in the center of each biscuit. Reapply flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking in tip. A bottle cap can be used to cut the holes, too.
The wide end of a 1M tip is a great donut hole cutter. However, a bottle cap can be used, too.
  • Pour two inches of canola oil into a two quart pan and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I use a two quart pan and cook smaller batches to use less oil, but you can cook larger batches by using a four quart pan with two inches of oil.
  • Carefully drop three to four donuts into the hot oil and fry for about thirty seconds, or until golden brown. 

Fry at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 seconds and flip.
  • Flip the donuts and fry the other side of the donuts for about thirty seconds, or until golden brown.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto several layers of paper towel to drain.
  • Repeat until all of the doughnuts are fried.
  • Use the same procedure to fry the donut holes, but fry 8-10 holes at one time. 

Donuts and holes cooling on layered paper towels. Glazing the donuts is the next step.
Fudgy Cocoa Chocolate Glaze 

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsps. baking cocoa
  • 2-3 Tbsps. hot water

  • Heat butter in a saucepan until melted.

Melted butter.
  • Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa with a whisk. It will clump up, but that is okay.

Powdered sugar and cocoa.
The finished glaze! 
  • Whisk in the hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until the glaze has a smooth consistency between that of honey and syrup. 
  • Using your hand, dip one side of each donut into the glaze
  • Place the donut, glazed side up, onto a cooling rack that is over a sheet of waxed paper.
  • Repeat until all of the donuts are glazed.

Hand-dipped glazed biscuit donuts are ready to eat.
  • The glaze will begin to set immediately and can be carefully handled in about forty-five minutes.
  • I am not patient enough to try and dip donut holes. Instead, I dropped them into the glaze and used a tablespoon to coat them with the glaze. Bill and I then ate the holes out of the pan. If you have more self-control, you can spread them out on a sheet of waxed paper and let the glaze set up.
Enjoy eating your quick, biscuit donuts!