Category Archives: Recipes

Lucky Rainbow Cupcakes For St. Patrick’s Day

St. Paddy's Day Rainbow Cupcakes

Hi! My name is Maggie and I am named after my great-great grandma, Maggie Ryan. It doesn’t get more Irish than that! That may be why I love St. Patrick’s day SO much. I am also an Irish dancer which makes this holiday extra exciting for me! This St. Patrick’s day I wanted to do something fun and all by myself, so I did. I made these lovely rainbow cupcakes and hoped to share them with you so that you can make St. Patrick’s day lots of fun too.

Here is what you will need to make these awesome cupcakes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of yellow or white cake mix
  • 1 can of vanilla frosting
  • Blue food coloring
  • 2 boxes of Sour Airhead rainbow candy strips
  • Mini marshmallows

Making Rainbow Cupcakes

Directions:

  • Bake cupcakes according to the package directions. Let fully cool.
  • Mix the blue food coloring into the can of frosting and stir completely. Frost the cupcake.
  • Bend the candy strip into an arch and push into the frosted cupcake, forming a rainbow. [You may want to cut about an inch and a half off the strip for a slightly smaller rainbow.]
  • Put about four marshmallows on each side of the candy strip to create cute clouds that support the rainbow.
  • Do the same thing on each of the other cupcakes.
  • Enjoy your lucky rainbow cupcakes! I hope they are as delicious as they are cute!

Maggie and her Rainbow Cupcakes

Love,

Maggie

 

Easy Irish Soda Bread With Greek Yogurt

Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick’s Day is one of our favorite holidays around here.  I usually buy Irish soda bread from a great local bakery, but this year I decided to try making it.  This recipe is super easy and uses Greek yogurt in place of some of the buttermilk.  Greek yogurt and Irish soda bread….who would have guessed that particular culture combo could be so yummy!

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

4 cups all purpose flour

1/3 sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

4 Tbs. cold butter, diced

1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup raisins tossed in a pinch or two of flour

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone liner.

2. In the bowl of a large mixer, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt until combined.  Add diced butter and mix until small crumbs form.

3. In a separate bowl, mix egg, yogurt and buttermilk.  Add to dry ingredients in mixer.  Do not over mix.  Toss raisins with a pinch or two of flour and add to dough, mixing until raisins are distributed.

4. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and gently kneed a couple times, and form into a rounded mound.  Transfer to the baking sheet and slit the top of the loaf with a knife.  Bake 50 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Irish soda bread with honey

Extra yummy with butter and honey … then again, what’s not?

Frozen Nutella Banana Bites

Frozen Nutella Banana Bites

I made a quick batch of these babies last night because …

1. The Halloween candy is nearly gone and all that is left are a few random pieces that no one really wants.  Not that I ate ANY of it.  Nope.

2. I had a several ripe bananas.  And by several I mean lots.

3. There are only so many loaves of banana bread one can make before everyone is tired of it.

4. These little guys are one of my favorites.  Not that’s it’s all about me or anything. I do sometimes have to hide my own little stash in the freezer.  They are really, really yummy.  And they disappear really, really quickly.

5. They are, in the grand scheme of things, not a bad snack or treat.  They are fairly healthy for the kids and they are only one Weight Watchers Point for anyone in this house who continually counts points in her head but doesn’t record them.   Hmmmm … I wonder who that might be.

6. They are easy.  I like easy.  The world needs more easy.

Ingredients:

Sliced bananas

Nutella

Directions:

1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.

2. Slice bananas and top with a dab of Nutella.

3. Lay in a single layer on the cookie sheet and freeze until frozen.

4. Store in freezer in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Dorothy Mae’s Dump Cake

 

Dorothy's Dump Cake

Dorothy’s Dump Cake

Yesterday was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. And last night the girls made her dump cake. I had a spoonful of it this morning with my coffee. Because I could. And because she would have done the same thing if she were sitting in my kitchen.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. She was the matriarch of matriarchs and stories of her are family legends, likely to be embellished as the years pass on. She dressed me up and gave me my first memory of being “out on the town,” a dinner out where I tried very hard to keep my elbows off the table and then a drive across town to see the Nutcracker, beginning a holiday tradition that I keep with my mom and the girls today. A few years later she unapologetically sat me down on a stool in her kitchen, cracked open a Dr. Pepper, put a silver beautician’s cape around my neck, and permed my straight brown hair. She had an adventurous, if not a ornery and vivacious spirit that was contagious.

As fun-loving as she was, she was practical too. She taught me how to sew using her trusty Singer and hand needles, making use of scraps of material from one of her many ongoing projects. She taught me how to make soup in a gargantuan pot almost too big for the stove, using up just about everything in the refrigerator so nothing was wasted. In some small way, honoring her mother, my Maggie’s namesake, passing on skills she undoubtedly acquired from Grandma Maggie as a child during the depression.

She was frugal and free-spirited, knowing when to hold reserves and when to cash in chips and live a little. While my grandfather was still alive, they golfed and traveled and had dinner parties. And after he passed, she continued on in her ways, just as he would have wanted her to. She had a social life that always put mine to shame, playing bridge, golfing, and getting together with friends constantly. She was always in the middle of a good book, loved a good juicy mini-series, and would yell at the TV during football games. She was the life of the party when she wanted to be. She was also content playing a card game (or several) with us over a bowl of popcorn and her favorite iced tea. She took our quarters when we played for money and she would never let us win a tight game of gin if we did not beat her on our own. She did not like to lose; and rematches, called by her when she did lose, most often went her way. She had the nickname of “Mrs. Big,” and while I don’t know how she got it, it most certainly fit her large personality. She did not know a stranger, would give anyone the shirt off her back, and had no problem letting you know her opinion of something – even if you did not ask. She was a strong lady, proud of her Irish heritage and tolerant of the German she adopted through marriage. She was faithful and devout, kind and loyal, stubborn and gracious. Traits I see each and every day carried on in my girls and I am reminded that it was a privilege to be her granddaughter.

Dotty was always on the hunt for a new recipe to make for her bridge friends and this dump cake is one I remember her making all the time. She wrote it down on a recipe card that is now one of my favorite keepsakes. It makes me smile every time I thumb through it in my recipe box and if I stare at the writing long enough, I can almost see her sitting across the table penning it. It couldn’t be easier to make and the girls love to make it by themselves – another testament to the independent spirit she has passed on through generations. The boys just like to eat it. Warmed up with vanilla ice cream. And they like to make fun of the fact that it’s called dump cake. I wish she could be here to put the boys and their rude comments in their place, to watch the girls handling her recipe card and baking her cake, and to sit with me at the table playing cards and drinking iced tea, one last time.

Dump cake recipe card

 

Dorothy’s Dump Cake

1-20 oz can cherry, blueberry, or apple pie filling

1-20 oz can crushed pineapple

1 package yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup coconut (optional)

2 sticks melted butter

Directions:

1. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

2. Gently dump pie filling and pineapple into pan and mix together.

3. Dump Sprinkle cake mix on top of fruit mixture.

4. Dump Top with nuts and coconut.

5. Dump Drizzle with melted butter.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Or eat straight out of the pan with a fork with your morning coffee … Dorothy would have.

 

 

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin chocolate chip

Tonight we made our favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  After the kids had a few several, and after I packed lunches for tomorrow, and after we packaged a few up to share with a couple teachers there were exactly 5 cookies left.  F – I – V – E.  Fuh-uh-ive.  5.

I think we’ll be making more in the very near future.  You can find the recipe here if you are in the mood for a pumpkin treat.  They are crazy good.  It wouldn’t be October without them.

I only hope your peeps leave you with more than five.

 

How To Make Easy Caramel Apples

Easy Caramel Apples

Yea! Fall is here and the girls wanted to celebrate the start of our favorite season with caramel apples.  In all honesty, I was a wee bit hesitant, but they couldn’t have been easier to make. We took a shortcut and used packaged caramel candies, but if you want to get fancy and make homemade gourmet ones from scratch  then here is a good tutorial.

I was in charge of using the big knife to chop up the M&M snack mix and taking the hot bowl of melty caramel out of the microwave. Other than that, the girls really did most of it by themselves. Including photographing each other, trying to engage the apples in conversation on what they would like to “wear” with their caramel, and reenacting the poison apple scene from Snow White.

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Here’s what you’ll need (besides photographers and actresses):

2 bags of caramel candies, unwrapped
2 Tbs milk (start with just one tablespoon and add more as needed)
8 apples
8 wooden sticks
Silicon mat or parchment lined cookie sheet for setting finished apples
Toppings of your choice

Direction:
1. Wash apples, insert sticks into stem sides, and line ’em up on the countertop.

2. Prepare toppings in bowls. (We used mini chocolate chips, toasted almonds, and coarsely chopped sweet and salty M&M snack mix.) Set them close by the prepared cookie sheet.

3. Melt caramel and milk in microwave, about 90 seconds total. Stop and stir about every 30 seconds and adjust melting times accordingly.

4. Working fairly quickly, dunk apple in melted caramel. Swirl and/or use a spoon if need be. Once the apple is coated, let it rest on the cookie sheet until all apples have been dipped.

5. Once all apples are coated, go back and dip and roll them in the toppings, gently pressing the goodies into the caramel. Return them to the cookie sheet.

6. After all the apples are topped, dressed, and coated in all the goodies you have set out, chill them in the refrigerator for a bit to set completely.

7. If sharing with friends, transfer to a small disk of parchment that generously covers the base of the apple and loosely bag with a cellphone treat bag. They will last a couple of days until the moisture gets the best of them.

Enjoy!

Farmers’ Bounty

 

Farmers' market bounty

Farmers’ market bounty

I love the farmers market this time of year. It abounds with color and beauty and goodness. It just makes me happy walking around, my arms full of beautiful produce and glorious flowers. These days it’s peak season for so many summer fruits and vegetables it’s hard not to buy everything I see. I usually buy more than I intended to, but I can’t help it. I somehow justify the market gluttony by reminding myself (several times) that I am buying vegetables not cupcakes and supporting our local farmers. Both of which are good things.

We are lucky to have the North Carolina State Farmers Market so close by. But there are lots of other smaller farmers markets around too. They are cute, quaint, charming, and equally full of beautiful produce. I am just partial to the “big one.” I like that the farmers literally back their large F-150 pick up trucks right up to the stands and unload their overflowing flat beds. And usually the goods were picked that very morning.  Pre-sunrise, no less.  Got to love those early birds!

This week I came home with delicious tomatoes, perfectly ripe peaches, incredible corn, sweet summer squash and zucchini. While at the peak of perfection, they are nearing the end of their season, so we are enjoying them all while we can.

Here are a few things I made with the goods I brought home:

Peach crisp.  Seasonal perfection and that’s all there is to say about that.

The southern delicacy: a perfect and simple tomato sandwich. Ridiculously good and so easy a 7-year-old could do it.

Farmer’s Market Pasta, which is a very close cousin of kitchen sink pasta.  Which is a second cousin once removed from my grandmother’s vegetable soup.  Family food trees can be so complicated.

But I digress … Find a farmer’s market near you and enjoy the rest of summer’s produce.  Or at least have a conversation with a local farmer. They are full of personality and character and they are more than happy to brag about their bounty, or the weather predictions for the upcoming season, or the mischief their hound dog got into the day before.  I promise you will leave with a smile on your face and in a good mood.  And that alone is worth the trip.

Heavenly Tomato Sandwiches

Tomato Sandwich

I am not sure there is anything more perfect than a tomato sandwich in the middle of summer. Unless, of course, you don’t like tomatoes. And that would just be wrong (ahem…and I am not singling out any certain husbands). Tomatoes are the jewels of the gardens in so many backyards this time of year.  And this sandwich is the beloved delicacy we wait for all year long…most likely because it is so incredibly hot that any meal that can be prepared without the added heat of an oven is cause for celebration.  If you haven’t had one of these babies, then you’d best get on it.  Because, bless your heart, you are missing out.

Here’s what you need.

Old fashioned white bread.  The very kind that makes you feel like you are doing something wrong when buying it.  Wonder, Merita, Texas toast –  it does not matter. The squishier and softer, the better. Do not waste your time (or your tomatoes for Heaven’s sake) on low-calorie or wheat bread.  It will not be the same.

Mayo.  And a big ‘ol slather of it.  Pick your favorite one and go to town.  Spread it all over your illegal white bread. Do not feel guilty.

Tomatoes.  Here’s the important part.  These need to be picked straight from your garden or grabbed at the farmers’ market.  Period.  There is no substitute for a garden-fresh, homegrown tomato. They often don’t look perfect.  But perfect appearances are overrated, don’t you think?  They may be misshapen or the coloring may be varied.  But that is what makes them so good! These jewels of summer are hard to beat.  Your grocery store ones may be pretty, but they won’t taste as good.

Finish with fresh ground pepper and a little bit of salt.  Let your masterpiece sit a few minutes until some of the juice from the tomatoes meets up with the mayo and the bread.  They will get married and live happily ever after.  Simple. Delicious. Perfection.

The End.

Easy Chocolate Pudding Pies

Easy Chocolate Pudding Pies

Looking for a super easy dessert that is quick, easy and sure to make the kids squeel with joy?  Here ya go.  And thanks to a little shortcut they even look pretty all decked out with fancy chocolate shavings.

What you’ll need:

  • six-pack of ready made mini graham cracker crusts
  • large box of instant chocolate pudding mix
  • milk
  • whipped topping
  • William Sonoma Hot Chocolate Mix (for garnish)

Instructions:

Ready?  You may need to take a nap before beginning because this is sure to exhaust you.  Or not.  It’s so easy you could do a load of laundry and talk on the phone to your girlfriend and make this.  All at the same time.

1. Prepare pudding.  That easy.  Mix milk with pudding mix.  In my case it was WAY more difficult because seeing that my brain no longer works, I purchased the “cook and serve” variety.  Blast!  One extra step.  If your brain works properly just buy the “instant” pudding and you will skip this incredibly taxing step.

2. Spoon pudding into crusts.  We tend to like things on the full side over here, so I filled ’em up.

3.  Add the whipped topping.  Depending on how generous you are in step 2 this may need to be done with a gentle touch.  Or spoon.

4. Garnish with chocolate shavings.  You could shave chocolate bars and make a mess in your kitchen or you can make it easy on yourself and sprinkle William Sonoma Hot Chocolate shavings right on top. Make it easy.

5. Refrigerate at least an hour.

6.  Enjoy.  And rest.  You deserve it.  This was hard.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simple truth #1:  It would not be fall without pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin tea, pumpkin ravioli (yes, I saw it in the store), pumpkin cake, pumpkin candles.  You name it, it’s out there.

Simple truth #2:  The best of the afore-mentioned pumpkin treats are these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Trust me.  The recipe is my moms.  She made them for us as kids and it wouldn’t be fall without them.  They are now a family favorite for my kids too.

Simple truth #3:  They are easy and yummy.  Make them once and you will be hooked. Your family and friends will love you forever for sharing them. I Promise.

Here’s your how to, Pumpkin.

First gather all your ingredients.  While you are gathering  – or hunting – for ingredients in your cabinets, set the oven to 375.  And grease or spray or parchment or Silpat your cookie sheets.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup of shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 cup chocolate chips

 

Cream shortening and brown sugar together.  Then add the pumpkin, egg and vanilla.  Mix until well incorporated.  Stop to smell the roses.  I mean pumpkin.

In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.  This is always a good job for little helpers.  If employing the help of those under 10 for this part,  ignore the mess on the counter…and floor… and dog.

Next fold in the chocolate chips.  Yes, that is likely more than 1 cup.  It’s all good.  And it’s always better with a little more chocolate, don’t you think?

Place rounded tablespoons of the gooey goodness on your greased cookie sheets a couple of inches apart and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes – until the edges are golden brown.

Cool completely on wire racks.  Make more than you need.  They will disappear quickly.