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3 Minute Chocolate “Cup” Cakes

1 Feb

This is a great recipe from my co-worker Jenna! She tries out new recipes from popular cooking shows and posts it on our company blog, viamediablog.com, each week. I have not actually tried this, and I have to say I was skeptical when Jenna first told us about it, but she said it tastes exactly like a piece of chocolate cake! If you are a little baking-challenged, or pinched on time/ingredients, this is a super quick and easy recipe! Let me know how it turns out ūüôā

When I saw this recipe, I was completely skeptical! How could I not be skeptical when there are only 6 ingredients (not counting salt) and it only cooks for 50 sec in the microwave?? As I was preparing the ingredients, I felt like a scientist doing an experiment. I almost wanted it to fail because the process made no sense to me.

The recipe is from a show called Symon’s Suppers on Cooking Channel. You can find the recipe here. I have to say, I just love the new Cooking Channel. While Food Network will always be my favorite network, most of the programming has become cooking contest shows, like Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, Chopped, Cupcake Wars, The Next Iron Chef. While I love those shows, its nice to get back to the basics sometimes and the Cooking Channel is primarily all cooking shows that demonstrate recipes and how-tos.

The first step in the recipe is to melt the chocolate and the butter together. I used the microwave instead of a double boiler because of the ease. While that was melting, I whisked together the other ingredients in a small bowl. After the chocolate was melted, I combined the chocolate mixture with the ‚Äúbatter‚ÄĚ mixture.

The recipe called for using coffee mugs, but I decided to use my mini ramekins. The recipe should fill 6 of them perfectly. If you don’t have ramekins, a coffee mug would work perfectly too.

So the true test came after the batter was in the cups. Would microwaving batter REALLY make a cake? I cooked them on high in the micro wave for 1 min 30 sec and the result……

An ACTUALLY moist and delicious ‚Äúcup‚ÄĚcake! Yum! The only thing that would make this cake more delicious is vanilla ice cream. If I had read the recipe more closely I would have noticed that Chef Symon recommended topping with ice cream and cherries.

Try out the 3 minute ‚Äúcup‚ÄĚ cake and let me know your thoughts!!

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My Take on a ‘Noodles & Company’ Favorite

24 Jan

Well, it’s been quite a while since my last post. I have been a busy lady, traveling every weekend since Christmas and eating out quite a bit. This weekend t I was craving a healthy dinner that was chock-full of veggies. I immediately thought of Noodles & Company, one of my favorite restaurants when I lived in Raleigh, NC. They have delicious pasta, as you could probably guess by the name, and it’s a pretty quick restaurant so I went there for dinner once a week at least. Unfortunately, there are no Noodles & Company locations here in Lexington, KY, so I decided to make my own version of their Pasta Fresca. I was pretty happy with the end result! It’s a light and healthy recipe with a lot of flavor. I added shrimp but you could also use chicken or tofu, and any combination of vegetables. The sauce is just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and white wine. Stay tuned for my version of the Noodles & Company Penne Rosa, coming soon! Can you tell I like pasta? ūüėČ

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat penne pasta
  • Shrimp
  • Spinach, stems trimmed
  • Mushrooms
  • Red onion
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Garlic clove
  • Feta cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • White wine

Clean and chop up all the veggies while you bring your pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to directions and set aside. Heat a spoonful of olive oil in a saute pan. (You will need a pretty large saute pan/skillet because everything is going in together!) Once the pan is heated to medium-high heat, start by saut√©ing the chopped garlic clove for about 30 seconds. Then add the spinach, mushrooms, and onions and saute for about 5-7 minutes, until spinach is nice and wilted. Add the shrimp and chopped tomatoes and saute for a few minutes until shrimp turns pink. (If you are using chicken or tofu, it will need to cook longer and should be added before the veggies.) Add in the pasta. Now it’s time for the sauce. I didn’t really measure anything – ¬†just added a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and white wine until everything was well-coated. You are looking for a nice balance of the three flavors. The sauce shouldn’t be too oily or have an overwhelming balsamic flavor. Let everything simmer for a couple minutes, then serve with a healthy topping feta cheese!

Party Appetizer Ideas: Chocolate Popcorn and Mushroom Crab Melts

27 Dec

My girl friends and I have started the tradition of getting together every year for appetizers and drinks and a ‘Dirty Santa’ gift exchange before we all head home to visit family for the holidays. If you have never heard of ‘Dirty Santa’ or a ‘White Elephant’ gift exchange, it’s a fun and inexpensive way to give gifts. Everyone brings one gift and all the gifts are put in a pile, and then you draw numbers to see what order people will select gifts in. When it’s your turn, you can either get an un-opened gift from the pile, or steal a gift from someone who has already opened! It’s best to be last or at least near the end so you have your choice of what present you want. It’s always a good time, especially when you throw in some random or actual ‘dirty’ gifts ;).

Anyways, on to the recipes! There were some pretty delicious appetizers at the party, and I’ll have to add more recipes from my friends when I get them. I made chocolate drizzled popcorn and these mushroom crab melts that were a big hit. They are both great party appetizers, and would be great for New Year’s or maybe some of the upcoming bowl games. The chocolate drizzled popcorn was really easy. I popped the popcorn and laid it out on a cookie sheet. I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, then used a spoon to¬†drizzle the chocoloate back and forth over the popcorn, and¬†I used a generous amount of chocolate. (Note: I was a in a bit of a rush and didn’t have time for pictures, so these are just images from the web. My popcorn had quite a bit more chocolate!) Then you let the chocolate harden in the fridge over night, and break it up into chunks. You can use any kind of chocolate you like, add marshmallows, nuts, etc… I saw a recipe with both white and dark chocolate drizzle that looked awesome. One thing I learned from my first-time attempt at melting chocolate- don’t add any liquid! I thought by adding a little milk it might make the melted chocolate creamier… NOPE. It sounds a little counter-intuitive, but adding any liquid makes the chocolate seize up and get all dry and lumpy. You need to just melt the chocolate slowly over low heat until it is nice and creamy.

The mushroom crab melts were a mixture of bacon, mushrooms, onions, crab, cheese, and a little mayo spread over whole-wheat english muffins with a little paprika sprinkled on top. They wold make a great lunch by themselves, but I cut each into four pieces with a pizza-cutter to make bite-size appetizers. Here is the recipe:

  • 3 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can crabmeat, drained
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 6 english muffins, split
  • Dash of cayenne pepper and paprika

Cook the bacon until crisp, then break into pieces when cooled, reserving the bacon drippings in the pan. Saute the chopped-up mushrooms and onions in the drippings for a few minutes until soft. Combine crab, cheeses, mayo, mushroom mixture, and bacon bits in a mixing bowl and stir until blended. Spread a little butter on each muffin half, then top with mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and cayenne pepper and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Cut each muffin into four pieces with pizza-slicer.

Christmas Cookie Recipes – Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

2 Dec

My co-worker Jenna is a fantastic cook, and she always brings goodies to the office. I work for a cable advertising company.. so Jenna tries out recipes from cable food shows and blogs about them on our company blog! (Check out our blog at www.viamediablog.com and Click on “What’s Cooking on Cable with Jenna” for all her recipes) She brought in the best cookies today.. they are literally melt-in-your-mouth amazing! And she is going to be making a different cookie recipe each week from now until New Years! Check out her post:

What’s Cooking on Cable With Jenna-Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

This recipe was not a difficult one for me to pick out‚Äďthe name alone had my mouth watering. Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies!! This is a Paula Deen recipe, so you know 2 things right off the bat. They will contain at least one stick of butter and will be as unhealthy as possible. I figure that Christmas is the perfect time to indulge. I will be making a Holiday cookie recipe each week leading up until New Years! Get excited!!

This recipe literally has 5 ingredients. 1 Box of Chocolate cake mix (I used Devil’s Food), 1 Egg, 1 stick of butter, 1 package of Cream Cheese, and vanilla extract. Easy!!

After mixing the ingredients together the dough must chill. This is the only way to be able to roll the dough into balls. Trust me, I tried to roll them without the chilling and I just made a mess. After the dough chills in the fridge for 2-3 hours, it should be cold enough to roll into balls. Once the balls are formed roll them in powdered sugar. That’s it!

I put about 16 cookies on each cookie sheet but I probably should have put less. The cookies really spread out and some ran together. Next time I will only put 12 on each cookie sheet. Lesson learned!

My coworkers and husband agree that these cookies are fantastic! One coworker even commented that they taste almost brownie-like. I think this will become a holiday standard in my house!

http://viamediablog.com/2011/12/02/whats-cooking-on-cable-with-jenna-chocolate-gooey-butter-cookies/

Friendsgiving and My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes!

22 Nov

Last night my friends and I got together for our first annual Friendsgiving! I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the result. We had all the fixings of a traditional thanksgiving dinner, and everything tasted pretty darn good. Pretty impressive for a group of twenty-somethings who aren’t all that experienced at cooking. We actually ended up with waaaay too much food. But my boyfriend was pretty happy when I brought him a heaping plate of leftovers ūüôā I have to say – good food, good wine, and good friends make for a fabulous evening.

My contributions to our evening consisted of my mom’s world-famous cheesy potato casserole and Kentucky Derby pie. My siblings and I have literally fought over cheesy potato leftovers. It’s one of those dishes that we ask my mom to make for every family get-together. And the Kentucky Derby pie is one of my favorite desserts. Both are super simple to make. I was actually at work late so I rushed home, whipped everything together in about 20 minutes, then let them bake for 45 minutes while I got ready for the evening. Check out the recipes below if you are looking for ideas on what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m headed home to WV tomorrow for the holiday weekend. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! Let me know how your cooking adventures go this weekend.

Cheesy Potato Casserole:

  • 32 oz. bag of southern style (cubed) hash browns
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Crushed cornflakes

Mix the potatoes, soup, sour cream, cheese, and most of the butter together and spread in a greased baking dish. Top with crushed cornflakes and drizzle with the remaining melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Kentucky Derby Pie:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • pie shell

Mix all ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sarah’s Kitchen: Easy Enchiladas and Sophisticated Guacamole

18 Nov

Straight from my kitchen comes my first weekly recipe- easy enchiladas with guacamole dip as an appetizer. The guacamole is a mixture of avocado, edamame, and pesto sauce, with some onion and lemon juice. I like avocado, but in smaller doses, so this is a great mixture of flavors. ¬†The enchiladas are super easy and absolutely delicious. To cut down on the number of ingredients, I use a packet of McCormick’s Enchilada Seasoning. This recipe actually comes from the back of the seasoning packet. This is not the quickest meal, especially if you also make the guacamole, so give yourself a little time for this one. The result, however, is a hearty meal that is large enough for a group and will please any boyfriend! Fair warning- if you don’t have a food processor, the guacamole can be pretty tedious. I don’t have a food processor (Though it’s on my Christmas list :). That’s how you know you’re getting old; when your Christmas list consists of work clothes and cooking gadgets!) I actually cook the edamame, then put it in a big plastic bag and mash it up with a hammer, then my hands. Your guacamole will be a little on the chunky side but still delicious!

Edamame Avocado Dip:

  • 1 12 oz. package of frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut up
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. purchased basil pesto
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped tomato (optional)
  • pita chips (I love Stacy’s Pita Chips)

Combine edamame, avocado, onion, lemon juice, pesto, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until nearly smooth (or chop and mix well by hand). Top with chopped tomato and serve with pita chips.

Enchiladas:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 package¬†McCormick¬ģ Enchilada Sauce Mix
  • 1 pound ground beef¬†or¬†ground turkey (I use Laura’s Lean Beef)
  • 8 corn¬†or¬†flour tortillas (6-inch), warmed
  • 1 cup shredded low fat Cheddar cheese
  • low fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Mix water, tomato sauce and Sauce Mix in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. While sauce is cooking, brown beef in medium skillet on medium-high heat. Drain fat. Stir 1/2 cup sauce into meat.¬†Spoon about 1/4 cup meat filling onto each tortilla. Roll tortillas tightly. (Tip: use a little of the sauce as a kind of glue to hold the tortillas together.) Pour a little sauce into the bottom of a greased 11×7-inch baking dish.¬†Place enchiladas seam-side down in dish, and pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese.¬†Bake 15 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Top with sour cream. This makes about 6 enchiladas. (I split it up into two smaller dishes to make saving leftovers easier.)

Tailgating Recipes

30 Oct

After tailgating¬†this weekend for a UK football game, I decided to write a post on my favorite tailgating recipes. Some of these are my go-to’s¬†when it comes to tailgating, and I also added in some that I haven’t tried yet but look scrumptious. If you have any quick and easy tailgating recipes, let me know! You can post here or link to your own blog. (Note: these are not my photos; I wish I could claim them!)

Good ‘ole Buffalo Chicken Dip

This dip is so popular right now and really easy to make. It’s not the healthiest, but I use all fat free ingredients to reduce the calories. You can serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or carrots/celery to boost the nutritional value.

  • 1 cup buffalo sauce (you can also use hot sauce, just use a lesser amount)
  • 1 cup fat free ranch
  • 1 package fat free cream cheese
  • 2-3 large cans of chicken
  • 2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all the ingredients and bake in a casserole dish at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Bacon Wrapped Mushrooms

You need a grill for this one. This is another simple appetizer and it’s so delicious!

  • Large whole mushrooms
  • Bacon
  • Sweet chile sauce
  • Toothpicks

Wrap mushrooms in bacon strip and secure with a toothpick. Brush with sweet chile sauce and grill until the bacon is crispy. You can get the sweet chile sauce in the ethnic food section of your local grocery. It’s in the Asian food section at Kroger.

Pumpkin Dip

I haven’t made this yet but I had it at the tailgate this weekend and it was sooo good! You can serve it with ginger snap cookies or apples. I’ve seen a couple different recipes but this one looks pretty simple. It’s from a great blog called She Wears Many Hats.

  • 1 pkg (8 oz.) fat free cream cheese
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

In a food processor (or in a bowl by hand) pulse the cream cheese until smooth. Add next 4 ingredients (lt. brown sugar, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon) to food processor and blend well. Empty cream cheese mixture into a bowl, add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Refrigerate until served.(makes about 3 cups)

Easy Pumpkin Recipes for Fall!

28 Oct

One of my favorite cooking blogs is Gina’s Skinny Recipes. She has recipes for any and every occasion, and they are all healthy and fairly easy to make! As any working girl knows, we don’t have much time to shop for obscure ingredients that you will only use once and then they just take up cabinet space. After a long day at the office, we want to be able to make a meal that is delicious, simple, and quick. I’m going to start posting my cooking trials with my own feedback,¬†and I’ll also¬†link to blogs and recipes that I think look simply delicious.

I¬†was looking through Gina’s site today and clicked on the Skinny Pumpkin Madness¬†icon, and found several pumpkin inspired treats that¬†are sure to get you in that Fall mood. Here are a few of my favorites:

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 18.25 oz Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla Super Moist Cake Mix*
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup water

For the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz Philadelphia 1/3 fat cream cheese (do not use fat free)
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 tbsp packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350¬į. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers. Combine cake mix and pumpkin spice in a large bowl. Add pumpkin puree and water, mix about 2 minutes. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake about 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. For the frosting, combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar until smooth. You can use a spatula to ice the cupcakes or pipe them which may require making more frosting.¬† (Makes 24)

Pumpkin Spice No-Bake Cheesecake

  • 7 oz 1/3 less fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, unpacked
  • 8 oz Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • 9 inch reduced fat Graham Cracker Crust

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, whip cream cheese, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar for a few minutes until fluffy. Add Cool Whip and whip until smooth. Spoon mixture into pie crust and chill for a few hours, until firm.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Recipes

  • 12 reduced fat vanilla wafers
  • 8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup¬†pumpkin pie filling

Heat¬†oven to 350¬į.¬†Line¬†cupcake tin with liners.¬†Place¬†a vanilla wafer at the bottom of each liner.¬†Gently¬†beat¬†cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth using an electric mixer. Gradually¬†beat¬†in fat-free yogurt, egg whites and flour. Do not over beat.¬†Pour¬†into cupcake liners filling half way.¬†Top¬†each with 1 tbsp of the pumpkin pie filling. Using a toothpick,¬†swirl¬†the pumpkin butter into the cream cheese mixture for a marbling effect.¬†Bake¬†25 minutes or until center is almost set.¬†Cool¬†to room temperature.¬†Chill¬†a few hours in the refrigerator before serving.

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