Friday, July 16, 2010

Mystery Mocha

My parents came over on the 4th of July for some golf and a belated Father's Day and Birthday dinner. I was excited to try out this recipe I saw on Tasty Kitchen - "Mystery Mocha." Interestingly, this was submitted to Tasty Kitchen by a dude named Larry, and that's my dad's name. Hmmm...

Anyway, make this. Soon. It was so easy to throw together and so delicious. I didn't have enough brown sugar and it definitely made a difference - but almost non-noticeable when you throw some ice cream on top.

  • ¾ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Sifted All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 piece Unsweetend Chocolate (1 Square)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • ½ cups Whole Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cups Brown Sugar
  • ½ cups Granulated Sugar (additional)
  • 4 Tablespoons Powdered Cocoa (Not Drink Mix)
  • 1 cup Cold Strong Coffee

Sift together 3/4 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Melt square of unsweetened chocolate and butter in the microwave. Add to dry ingredients alternately with the milk and vanilla. Blend. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.

Combine brown sugar, the 1/2 cup additional granulated sugar and cocoa powder. Sprinkle over the cake batter. Pour the one cup COLD coffee on top. This will look TERRIBLE. Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream or sweetened whip cream or whipped topping. This will serve 8. In a 9×9 square pan, you can cut 9 pieces. Best served warm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cookies 'n Cream Cupcakes

My husband's parents' birthdays are just a few days apart, and we usually celebrate them together. Since they are both avid horse racing fans, we joined them at Monmouth Park for some racing and fun.

I volunteered to bring a dessert and knew I'd make these yummy Cookies n Cream cupcakes. I've long ago stopped pretending that I can bake, but I love using recipes that make a box mix just a little more exciting.

These were fast and easy to whip up, and they were downright delicious. The sour cream and the Oreo bits made them taste (and look!) almost gourmet, and you can't tell at all that the base is courtesy of Betty Crocker.

Everyone also got a kick out of the "surprise" Oreo on the bottom. :)


  • 30 Oreo cookies
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Count out 12 Oreos and separate the top and bottom wafers. Make sure each has some of the icing on it. Place one wafer, icing side up, in the bottom of each paper liner. Set them aside. Place the remaining 18 Oreos between sheets of waxed paper or in a large, closed zipper-lock bag and crush them by rolling over them with a rolling pin. Set these crumbs aside.

3. Place the cake mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 1 1/2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the crushed Oreos and fold these into the batter until well incorporated. Set aside the remaining crushed Oreos for the frosting. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

4. Bake the cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

Store these cupcakes, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you plan to freeze them, don't add the cookie-crumb topping. Wrap them I in aluminum foil or in a cake saver and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator and top with cookie crumbs before serving.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

a pinch of salt

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

remaining crushed Oreos

Mix together butter, confectioners sugar, and a pinch of salt until creamy. Increase your mixer speed to high and beat until its light and fluffy. Add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat until its smooth. Fold in crushed Oreos. Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tortellini Spinach Salad with Tomato Balsamic Dressing

My friend Kelly from Running Mama Cooks (which came from our other friend Juliann who got from somewhere else...) made this salad a few weeks ago for a playdate. It was absolutely delicious, and I couldn't wait to make it myself.

This meal is hearty enough for dinner, and the leftovers make a fantastic lunch. This is absolutely perfect for those summer nights when it's too hot to eat much else. Plus... the ice cream I ate later was almost guilt-free. ;)


  • 20 oz package three cheese tortellini
  • 6 oz turkey bacon, cut into chunks
  • 6 oz bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jar roasted red peppers, thinly sliced

  • 9 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon each)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
Cook tortellini in boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil to keep from sticking. Let cool in colander.

Cook turkey bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon onto paper towel. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, toss all the salad ingredients together after the pasta and bacon has cooled.

In a blender add all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil and process until smooth. Then, while the blender is running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until completely combined. If serving the salad right away, immediately pour the dressing over the salad and toss well (you may not need all the dressing). Serve.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mushroom Ravioli with Marsala Sauce

My husband loves mushroom ravioli and frequently orders it when we go out to eat. On a recent dining adventure, he was excited to find it on their specials menu... and then subsequently bummed out when the waiter returned to say that they were sold out.

Since then, he's been wanting them more than ever. Our Father's Day plans were unexpectedly canceled so I told him I'd make him whatever he wanted for dinner. I was not surprised when he said he wanted Mushroom Ravioli.

In the interest of time, I was not able to make him ravioli by hand. Instead, I purchased Buitoni's Wild Mushroom Agnolotti.

As the agnolotti cooked, I made a marsala sauce that I found on the Food Network's website.

Everything about this meal was delicious. I would highly recommend Buitoni's fresh pasta variations (though one day I will make this myself!), and the sauce was the perfect compliment. As you can see from the photo, the sauce didn't thicken up as much as I'd like, though it was just right when I had some leftovers the next day.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Add olive oil to heavy hot saucepan. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, saute until mushrooms are tender. Add flour and cook about 1 minute then deglaze pan with Marsala wine. Add beef stock and cook until thick and flavors are blended.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ice Cream Sundae Brownies

I can resist neither brownies nor ice cream, so when you put them together, you are for sure going to make me happy! Usually this combination leads to ice cream with brownie bits swirled in, but Picky Palate decided to turn the tables; she created the Ice Cream Sundae Brownie.

I've made these brownies a few different times with various flavors of ice cream: mocha frappucino, phish food, etc. The upside is that the brownies have a new layer of yuminess - even though I used a box mix, there's just something about them that makes them so much richer and more decadent than a regular brownie.

The downside is that I couldn't really taste the flavor of the ice cream. I was especially disappointed when I used Starbucks' Mocha Frappucino flavor; I was really hoping for that delicious latte flavor.

Perhaps a stronger variety, such as a mint, would shine through, but I'm not sure. These brownies, however, were still absolutely delicious and I will make them again - though I will likely not go out of my way for a fun flavor.

  • 1 box Brownie Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup canola or vegetable oil
  • Heaping 1/2 Cup of your favorite Ice Cream
  • 1 1/2 Cups chocolate chips
  • 1/4 Cup hot fudge topping (chilled)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl mix the brownie mix, 2 eggs and oil until combined…and thick. I did NOT add the water. Scoop in ice cream, chocolate chips and hot fudge; mix until combined. Pour into a foil lined 9×13 inch baking dish that’s been GENEROUSLY sprayed with cooking spray. More is better here :) Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes clean from center.

2. Let cool completely. Remove foil from baking dish, cut into squares and serve.

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