In the midst of moving and packing and renovating while trying to keep life as close to normal a possible, I caved and tried out sheet-pan dinners. And I am IN LOVE! Read More
I’ve been a little lacking in keeping up with this blog since we found out we were moving back home last year. It’s been a whirlwind—hubby’s new job offer came while we were in Disney last September, and three and a half weeks later we were packed and moved. Easy-peasy, right?
Anyone who knows me know I am a Christmas junkie–I’ll listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies any month in of the year. Since we moved recently, resulting in a brand-new DVR, I recorded every Hallmark Channel Christmas movie they played last week (literally–every one. Hubby was thrilled.) 😂
So, I was super-excited to be invited to a Christmas in July party over the weekend. My aunt and her husband decorated the yard with blow-up decorations, they had Christmas treats, and Santa even stopped by for a visit–in his shorts and t-shirt, of course.
It was a fun party, and a great excuse to enjoy some Christmas music in the middle of summer. (It was even better to know I am not the only crazy Christmas fan in my family!) 😉
I took the party as an excuse to try out a new Christmas recipe–Peppermint Mocha mini-cupcakes. And, for anyone wondering where I got Candy Canes in July, I stocked up in late December just in case the need arose. 🎄
These were perfect little bites of heaven–rich chocolate, cool peppermint, and just a hint of coffee. I definitely will be making this one again!
Peppermint Mocha Mini-Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 1 Stick of Butter (1/2 Cup), softened
- 1 1/4 Cups Sugar
- 1 1/4 Cups Hot Coffee
- 1/2 Cup Unsweetened CocoaPowder
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 1/4 Cups Flour
- 1 tsp. Baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (or Vanilla Extract)
- 1/3 Cup Sour Cream
- 2/3 Cup Mint Chocolate Chips, chopped
For the Icing:
- 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 stick Butter (1/2 cup), softened
- 3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (or Vanilla Extract)
- Grated Dark Chocolate and Candy Cane Pieces (for Garnish)
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Add liners to mini-cupcakes trays.
- Beat the butter and sugar using a mixer until smooth and fluffy (3-5 minutes).
- Add the eggs to the butter mixture, and beat another 1-2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the cocoa to the hot coffee, and mix until there are no lumps.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the flour mixture and coffee mixture to the butter mixture, alternating, and starting with the flour. After each addition, mix until just combined.
- Fold in the sour cream, vanilla, and mint chips. Stir until fully incorporated.
- Add approximately 1 tablespoon of batter (I use a small cookie scoop) to each cupcake liner.
- Bake at 330 for 10-15 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when touched and/or a tester comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Once cool, cream the butter and cream cheese in a mixer on high until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated.
- Use piping bag to ice the cupcakes. Garnish with grated chocolate and a candy cane piece. Chill until icing is set.
I find mint to be refreshing in the summer, so this was a perfect fit for a hot, humid, July afternoon. I look forward to trying them again in December. Yum!
Are you a Christmas anytime person, or and only-after-December 15 person? Or do you fall somewhere in between? And, what is your favorite holiday treat?
The weather in NC was fabulous–but that wasn’t enough to make up for all the family events we missed out on when we were far away. Of course, that was one of the main reasons we jumped at the opportunity to move back to PA a few months ago.
The months since we are back have flown by–birthday parties, drinks, and dinners, weddings, holiday get togethers. All things we had to either plan months in advance or skip when we lived far away.
It has been beautiful in PA–60s and 70s two weekends in a row. It is showing us what summer will hold–playing outside with the kids, pool parties, baseball games, and more fun in the sun.
And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you live close to your family? Have a lot of family events? If not, how do you chose what events to travel for, and which to skip out on?
For years, Hubby and I have tried to eat a primarily from-scratch diet with lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Over the last year or so, we have tried to cut back on sugar a bit too.
It’s not that we never have an all out sugary dessert–we do, though we have tried to cut back on portions. But, we have also looked for other, healthier options to satisfy my sweet tooth.
I have never been a ricotta cheese fan, but a few of my favorite traditional desserts (mmm, cannoli) are ricotta based, so when I heard about this one, I decided to give it a go.
This is super-simple, and can be made with any fresh or frozen fruit. I like to use whole milk ricotta, but part skim works, too. (With the full-fat ricotta and frozen cherries, this is approximately 170 calories, with 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat (5 g saturated), and 6 g protein.)
Cinnamon Ricotta Cherries
- 1/2 cup Frozen Cherries
- 1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese
- 1 tsp. Honey
- Dash Cinnamon
- Slightly defrost the cherries, either by placing in the microwave for 30 seconds or allowing to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix cherries with a dash of cinnamon.
- Top with Ricotta.
- Drizzle with honey. If desired, sprinkle with more cinnamon.
I use a 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop to serve the ricotta–2 scoops equal 1/4 cup. This is also great with fresh strawberries or mixed berries, fresh or frozen blueberries, or (hubby’s favorite), fresh pineapple. A little treat without a ton of added sugar. 🙂
Do you have a favorite quick sweet treat that is a little on the healthier side? A go-to shortcut dessert? Let us know in the comments.
We are buried under a half-foot of snow in eastern Pennsylvania, but this week still showed some early signs of spring. Yes, I know that technically spring is still over a month away, but a girl can dream of warm, sunny days even in February, right? 😉
Wednesday was beautiful – 61℉ with mostly sunny skies. I went for what started as a short walk–and finally strolled back in the front door 6.4 miles later.
Unfortunately, as soon as the sun went down, temperatures plummeted, and by midnight it was snowing. I really can’t complain–this is really the first storm of the year. Until now it has been a very mild winter (almost North Carolina like).
Of course, I expect snow this time of year–it is February in the Northeast. But, I also know that there is one other awesome sign of spring that happens this time every year. Truck Day!
If you aren’t a baseball fan, you may be looking at the screen like I am insane right now. Heck, you may be doing that anyway. 😉
Truck Day is the day the MLB teams pack up all the equipment for spring training and head south, in most cases to Florida or Arizona.
I woke up on Monday morning to this:
I am a Phillies fan, but Hubby is a Red Sox fan, so this just made my week! Wednesday, the Phillies truck followed behind.
I love that Phanatic!
Next stop, Spring Training! Pitchers and catchers report on Monday. ❤
Are you on the lookout for signs of spring? What are some of your favorites?
It’s been a while since I posted here and things have really changed in the last few months. Shortly after my last post, Hubby was offered a great new job–an opportunity that was just too good to pass up.
Of course, it did require us to relocate for the second time in three years. Read More
As much as I love to cook, there is one meal hubby and I have never quite gotten the hang of–breakfast. For years, we skipped breakfast more often than we ate it, but in recent years we try hard to start our day with a decent breakfast.
We walked in the grocery store on Saturday to a huge display of butternut squash from a local farm. Hubby and I looked at each other and both said, “risotto.”
I found this recipe from The Pioneer Woman a few years ago, and it is so good, I barely make any changes to it, other than how I make the butternut squash. To save a little time, I roast it in a yummy spice rub while I make the risotto. (I wasn’t planning on posting this until I got a few requests for the recipe, so I don’t have a lot of pictures.)
The spice rub is easy–2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon each sage, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. I know it sounds weird, but it works–trust me.
Dice the butternut squash (I should add that I use a whole butternut squash, not just a half, since we like this for a meatless entrée), then spread it on a baking sheet. Drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Add the spice mix, and toss together until evenly coated.
Pop the baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until tender and golden brown.
While that roasts up, add a but of butter to the pan, sauté some onion, add the arborio rice. Make the risotto per the original recipe (found here). At the right time, add in the roasted butternut squash, then finish off the recipe. Yum!
For the record, I have tried the recipe without the cream (I actually use half and half). It is still good, but the cream definitely adds a texture and flavor that makes the extra calories so worth it. 🙂
Roasted Butternut Squash
|1 Medium||Butternut Squash|
|1 Tablespoon||Olive Oil|
|2 Teaspoons||Chili Powder|
|1 Teaspoon||Dried Sage|
|1 Teaspoon||Ground Cinnamon|
|1 Teaspoon||Kosher Salt|
|1 Teaspoon||Black Pepper|
|1 Teaspoon||Brown Sugar|
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
- Peel, remove seeds, and dice a whole butternut squash. Spread on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and toss together.
- in a small bowl, mix chili powder, cinnamon, sage, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Sprinkle entire mixture over the butternut squash. Use your hands to coat completely.
- Roast in the oven about 20 minutes until tender and golden brown.
- Add to your favorite recipe (such as this risotto) and enjoy!
This roasted squash is also great on its own as a simple side dish, or tossed with some store-bough ravioli, a little cream, and some parmesan cheese for a quick meatless meal.
Do you have a favorite butternut squash recipe? Any go-to ingredients when putting together a meatless meal? And are you as excited as I am to be seeing all of this lovely fall produce in the stores? #yum