Friday, April 24, 2009

Marshmallow Flowers

This is a simple way to add a touch of spring to cupcakes and it has only two simple ingredients: marshmallows and sparkling sugar. This is an adaptation of a cute idea I found in a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Bake cupcakes and frost with your favorite vanilla frosting.

With sharp scissors, cut each marshmallow into 5 slices. You will need to rinse the scissors with warm water very frequently, as the marshmallows are quite sticky. This will make up the petals of the flower.

Sprinkle each petal with sparkling colored sugar.

Don't allow them to sit for too long because they are easier to work with if they are still soft. These taste just like Peeps, by the way.

Using the icing on the cupcake as your glue, gently form your flower with 5 petals per cupcake. Overlap one petal on top of the other.

I used a small piece of decorating candy as my center. If these were for a birthday, a candle in the center would be cute as well.

I served mine on a cupcake stand. This one is by Wilton and it holds 13 cupcakes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easy Shrimp Noodle Bowl

This is a great recipe that is featured in the March 2009 issue of Southern Living magazine. I altered it slightly and tripled it because it served only one person. I made a few changes and jazzed it up a little with the additions of sesame oil and soy sauce. I am posting my adaptation.

Shrimp Noodle Bowl

3- 3oz packages of Oriental Flavor Ramen Noodle Soup
2 cups water
4 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
fresh trimmed snow peas (or you could use sugar snap peas)
1 lb shrimp, peeled
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
salt to taste
3 tbsp chopped peanuts

Stir together flavor packet from ramen noodle soup mix, water, and cilantro in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; add noodles and snow peas. Cook 1 minute, and stir in shrimp and cabbage. Cook 2 minutes, or until shrimp is pink. Transfer to a bowl and top with chopped peanuts.
Yield: about 4 servings.
(Note: You can substitute chopped cooked chicken for the shrimp).

Finely chop the cilantro.

I used precooked shrimp, but you can use raw and cook it a little longer.

Combine water, flavor packets, and cilantro, and bring to a boil.

Add snow peas and noodles:

Then shrimp and cabbage. Heat through.

Top with chopped peanuts.

It was very light, tasty, and nutritious.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Packages in the Mail

I have done Easter baskets for my kids since they were tiny and I see no reason to stop doing that now. Since my daughter and her husband live out of town, I send their Easter surprises in the mail. I think packages are fun to send because I know how much fun they are to receive. I realize I am posting this after Easter, but this could be done any time of the year for someone special, even if they live in town.

This year I bought most of their goodies at World Market. I decided to use tiny Chinese take out boxes to hold some of their treats. They had a set of them that came in several vibrant colors.

I lined them with plastic wrap:

And filled them with gum:

..and jelly beans:

I added baby chick stickers to the fronts and a custom monogram to the top of each one:

I had some left over carrot tissue paper from last year...

..and I wrapped some fun sauces in it, and then placed them in plastic bags:

I also did some clear bags lined with bright tissue paper with their initials.

I added a final touch of shredded grass from World Market:

Yes, my children are grown, but I will not stop doing Easter baskets for them until they ask me to. So far I haven't had any complaints.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saltine Cracker Candy

This is a recipe that one of our nurses shared with all of us. It has a base of saltine crackers which is topped with caramel, chocolate and pecans. It is fabulous and is very easy to make. It is also the perfect treat for an American Idol party. Go Adam.

Saltine Cracker Candy

24 saltine crackers
2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
12 oz semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted chopped pecans

1. Lay the crackers in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. (Next time I will line the pan with parchment for easier removal).
2. Heat butter and brown sugar over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
3. Pour over crackers.
4. Bake at 400 for 5-7 minutes, or until bubbly.
5. Immediately pour chocolate morsels onto the crackers and allow the chocolate to melt. Use a spoon to spread it evenly.
6. Press the pecans into the chocolate while it is still warm.
7. Chill until firm. Remove from pan and break into pieces.

Line a greased 13 x 9 inch pan with saltine crackers. (And I reiterate, parchment would be a most excellent strategy.)

Heat butter and brown sugar until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

You do not have to use a candy thermometer! Yea!

Pour over the saltines:

Bake at 400 for 5-7 minutes, or until bubbly:

Pour chocolate morsels over it as soon as it comes out of the oven:

I used the back of a spoon to spread it evenly:

Place pecans on the melted chocolate. Next time I will chop the pecans more finely. I did not put pecans on all of it because I was serving it to some who are not pecan fans.

Chill, then break into bars. It is great the next day, but good luck having any left. At work this is referred to as "crack," because it is made with crackers, but also very addictive.
Watch out for those nurses and their double entendre.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Bunny Surprises

I found these cute bags at Smith's in Mountain Brook. They were only $.99. You can fill them with your favorite Easter confections.

They even have cute pompom tails:

You don't have to be a child to enjoy getting one of these.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Million Dollar Pound Cake

This is a fabulous pound cake recipe from Southern Living. I have made it many times and it has always been delicious, which is mostly due to the 4 STICKS OF BUTTER. The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of almond extract, but I reduce that to 1/2 teaspoon because I find almond extract to be very overpowering in large quantities. The recipe also calls for the cake to be baked in a 10 inch tube pan. I wanted to use a pan I found at kitchenkraft because it makes the cake look really special. Since the pan has a smaller capacity than a 10 inch tube pan, I baked the overage in individual pie pans, which I will show in the photos after the recipe.

Million Dollar Pound Cake

2 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy.
Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add flour to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour, just until blended.
Stir in extracts.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-in. tube pan.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour and 40 minutes (note: mine was ready in 1 hour and 30 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Beat butter until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add remaining ingredients according to the recipe. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 300 for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

This is my cake pan:

I baked the rest of the cake batter in 3 individual pie pans:

The cake will be golden brown:

There is a fruit design on the top and a nice basketweave design on the sides.

Fresh strawberries go well with this cake.

Add a little sugar to chopped strawberries and they will make their own syrup after a few minutes.

Sometimes the best recipes can come from the simplest of ingredients.