Sunday, April 19, 2015

Homemade Magic Shell

Yummy note: 
My Secret Recipe Club blogger this month seems to have a lot of busy activities going on in her life, such as helping her oldest daughter start to plan a wedding, and keeping up with her other soccer star daughter! Loving Life takes an effort to reflect and make comfort, delicious-looking food for her family, while maintaining a busy lifestyle. Kirstin from Loving Life recently even started doing blog entries called The Simple Woman Daybook - which is pretty interesting as it has some good reflection time and as Kirstin says it makes her  "just stop and ponder, or slow down and be creative and intentional" - so true. I really liked that Kirstin was dong this, as we often get too busy with the busy-busy of our lives and forget to do that. Speaking of taking time to slow down, I think I add dessert to my routine every night to enforce that, haha. Even if it is a small piece of candy or a treat of sorts, the kids and I enjoy that few minutes of down time in the evening before getting ready for bed to enjoy dessert. Ice cream is always a hit here, and partially I think it is due to me getting to enjoy ice cream when I was younger, as that was something it seemed like we always had around. I vividly recall the Magic Shell topping that we used to use to make a hard turtle-like shell on our ice cream and then be able to crack it open and enjoy all that chocolate. My youngest is allergic to milk, so we've never been able to enjoy the real Magic Shell here, until now with Kirstin's recipe for homemade Magic Shell! What a great Secret Recipe Club recipe find, wahoo! This worked like a charm - just 2 ingredients, and in like minutes... who can complain about that?! No unnecessary processed ingredients like in the real stuff, but with oh, so much flavor! Mm, homemade Magic Shell is now a staple in my fridge, and my kids thank you !!  

Homemade Magic Shell 

1 cup of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a dairy-free brand- Guittard)
2 tsp of coconut oil

Slowly melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave or on the stove top. Keep and eye on it, as you don't want it to overcook and burn, it really only takes just a few minutes. Stir the two together occasionally, like every 30 seconds or so, until it is completely melted and mixed together. Let the chocolate magic shell cool slightly and then pour over ice cream. Store in the fridge in a microwave-safe container. When you want to use it next, just reheating the magic shell until it is melted and use again. The magic shell solidifies pretty hard, so it is just easier to reheat in the same container when needed and then just put back in fridge when done.

Just 2 ingredients to make your own homemade magic shell - rock on!! 
Heat in the microwave or on the stove top, for just a few minutes, until melted. 
Melted and ready to use! 
 Here's to a dairy-free dark chocolate ice cream treat! 
Homemade Magic Shell solidified. It gets pretty solid, so it could be hard to scoop out just a small portion to use. So when ready to use again, remove from the fridge and just microwave it all in the same container.   
The homemade Magic Shell reheats beautifully time after time.
We've used it numerous times and each time it's been perfect. 

Here are some more of Loving Life's links that I can't wait to try out...Texas Caviar, Easy Artisan Bread, and this Mixed Berry Sorbet this summer! Make sure you check out all of the other\wonderful bloggers in our SRC. 

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Snow White Frosting

Yummy Note:
I am always looking for frosting recipes that are dairy-free, work well with decorating cakes, AND taste good. :) Sometimes, when you use a dairy-free alternative, that doesn't taste or act exactly like butter, you can get varying results. So I was excited when I came across this one from Wilton. I can't tell you how many times, I refer back to the Wilton site for the best results. Why mess with their expertise! So when I tried the Snow White Buttercream Icing recipe and realized it actually didn't have any real "butter" in it, and it was dairy-free, I was thrilled. This frosting holds up nicely, you can make it ahead of time, and I've had several compliments on it, noting that the taste of this frosting reminds them of old-school wedding cake frosting. I have used it as a thin layer under fondant, but it sets up and dries rather fast, so make sure you keep that in mind when frosting. A note is I have had maybe one bad run of this frosting, where it almost slid off the side of the cake. I am not sure if it was due to the heat, humidity, or perhaps if I added in too much corn syrup, but it wasn't pretty on about day 2 of my cake. However, the numerous other times, it worked great!   
Snow White Frosting
recipe from

2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, divided
1/4 cup meringue powder
12 cups sifted powdered sugar, (about 3 lbs.) divided
1 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavor

In large bowl, sift all of the powdered sugar. Next, combine 2/3 cup of water and meringue powder together and mix at high speed until peaks form. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, at low speed. If you mix at a higher speed, you will end up with a powdered sugar dust storm and a big mess :)  Mix well, after each additional cup of sugar. After all of the sugar has been added, add the last 3 tablespoons of water, shortening and corn syrup to that and mix well. Add salt and flavorings last, and beat at low speed until smooth. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use, so it does not dry out.  For best results, store in refrigerator in an airtight container. The frosting can keep for about 2 weeks.

I don't have pictures of the actual frosting being made as I've always been in a rush when making it or forget. But I have how the finished cake and frosting is.

In our latest cake effort -
My daughter and I made a minion banana cake for my son's birthday and decorated it using this snow white frosting and fondant.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Couscous Bowls

Yummy note: This month with our Secret Recipe Club, I really wanted to make sure I tried a recipe using an ingredient that I have never really cooked with much before. I often get wrapped up into looking at these amazing recipes from all of the Secret Recipe Club bloggers, I start to forget why I initially joined the SRC and that was to try out new or different ingredients, not just different recipes. So when I was assigned the Pajama Chef this month, I wanted to keep that in mind while reading through Sarah's blog. Lunch is really one of those meals that doesn't quite fit into meal planning, and I never really have much planned, so I like quick ideas for lunch. When I saw the Pajama Chef had a handful of ideas for 10-minute lunch ideas, I knew this was the category I had to check out. So what a perfect match, as I found this flavorful couscous bowl! I have never really made anything with couscous before so it sounded perfect. :) Boy, was it easy to make! I didn't realize that couscous was this quick to make and delicious when added with other simple ingredients. In Sarah's Italian Chicken & Veggie Couscous Bowl recipe she noted it would be easy to add and change up the ingredients, so when I realized my leftover chicken was no longer to be found in my fridge when I went to make this, I decided to saute up some quick shrimp for a slight variation. Success! A quick and delicious lunch was made, and this recipe was portioned just right for one hungry mama or two smaller lunches. Enjoy.  

Couscous Bowl 

1/2 c. water
1 tbsp butter
1/2 c. couscous
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 c. sauteed shrimp (or leftover chicken)
1 c. frozen vegetables
salt/pepper/garlic powder to taste

1-2 green onions, diced
large handful spinach, chopped
Italian dressing
* Yummy Note - Can use other variations of vegetables and protein for this dish. - See original recipe and variations here

Bring water and butter to a boil and stir in couscous. Then remove from heat and cover. Let couscous sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, saute your shrimp with a little olive oil (or use leftover chicken) and the frozen vegetables for maybe 2-3 minutes. Towards the end, toss in your spinach and green onions and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Next, combine your sauteed mixture with the couscous. Top with a drizzle of Italian dressing and enjoy lunch! 

Hello- meet couscous - a quick-cooking grain. 
Quickly saute vegetables and a protein together while the couscous is standing and the dish comes together quickly.
Combine together for a perfect lunch! 
Shrimp & Veggie Couscous Bowl - made in about 10 minutes! 
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kettle Corn

Yummy note: This month I got Debbi Does Dinner Healthy! Yeah! She is our wonderful host in our group C with the Secret Recipe Club, so this was fun to spotlight one of her recipes since I've never had her blog before. Debbi featured my chocolate brownie bites a few months ago during our Cookie Carnival! I wanted to really try for one of her healthier recipes, as she does a lot of great lower calorie (under 500 calories) recipes. Snacks are always our downfall here, and we like to indulge on them, so I had that in mind when looking. However, don't let Debbi fool you, as she has some serious guilty food treats on her site. The recipe I chose, feels like it should be under both categories, as it is so delicious, seriously we've made it a handful of times already since I first found this recipe on her site! So a toss-up between the "healthier" snacks to try from Debbi's site was either these cinnamon pretzels which I got in a holiday plate one year and was like, "oh, these are good, and simple, I so got to make these sometime" or this sweet and salty kettle corn. Then I ran across this post, and totally took me back to my childhood days, when my mom would let me dip apples in cinnamon-sugar for a treat. Then, want to talk crazy food, the not so healthier side, that needs a shout out because I've never heard of this before -- Twinkie Pie! So thank you Debbi for so many options to choose from... but the real winner was homemade kettle corn!  Make sure sure to stop by Debbi's blog Debbi Does Dinner Healthy! and say, Hi and thank her for all the work she does with hostessing the group C Secret Recipe Club.

Kettle Corn 
Original recipe here: Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

4 tbsp. coconut oil 
1/4 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup popcorn kernels 
Salt, to taste 

Add the coconut oil, sugar, and popcorn kernels to a large pan with a lid. Heat pan over high heat, once the coconut oil starts to melt, give a nice stir to coat the popcorn kernels. Quickly, then cover that pan! Note, seriously, cover it with a lid or else you will be sorry. Flying popcorn everywhere, not to mention that coconut oil gets pretty hot and can burn your hand or whatever else those flying popcorn kernels can hit.  So once the kernels start to pop, with the lid on, shake the pan every few seconds to allow even heating. The shaking of the pan, ensures you don't have burnt popcorn on the bottom of your pan. When the popcorn popping has slowed, it is almost done and you can remove it  from the heat. Finish with a dash of salt to taste. Then dig into that big bowl of crunchy sweet and salty popcorn!
4 simple ingredients = easy snack! 

Yummy yummy kettle corn... those brownish-yellow spots on the popcorn were the best.. like bits of caramel-like crunchy sugar...

Somebody gave the big thumbs up for mom on making this healthier, sweet snack!
Oh, and did we mention it is dairy-free treat, too! yeah, mom!

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Rolled Marshmallow fondant

Yummy note: I've been using this rolled marshmallow fondant recipe for several years now and it has really held up wonderfully. It is sweet, yet tastes so much better than any store-bought already prepared fondant. This homemade marshmallow fondant is so much easier to work with and roll out. Plus, who doesn't love the taste, and the leftover pieces totally reminds me of those bunny mallow candies from Easter time my grandma used to put into our Easter baskets. This marshmallow fondant quickly goes together, and you could even use your stand mixer if you wish to help knead the fondant, but I think the texture is best when you do it by hand as you can really feel it is done well enough or not. The smoothness can be felt if you knead it by hand, rather than if you used a mixer it just kinda becomes more of a ball, and it's trickier to tell the consistency. I've used this rolled marshmallow fondant recipe for covering cakes, making cut-out cookie toppers, and easy cupcake decorations. 

Rolled Marshmallow Fondant 

1 package or 16 ounces of regular mini marshmallows (Make sure you use a good quality brand or else they don't hold up as well.)
2-5 tablespoons of water
2 pounds, roughly 8 cups of sifted powdered sugar
about 1/4 cup of vegetable shortening
optional: flavored extract or food coloring

Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds on high. Stir marshmallow mixture until mixed well and continue to microwave in 30 second intervals until fully melted. Should be roughly about 2-2 1/2 minutes total. At this point, flavored extract or coloring can be added at this point if desired. Next, place about half of the sifted powdered sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture. Fold sugar into the marshmallow mixture. Next, grease hands with vegetable shortening and counter/board area generously. Pour marshmallow/sugar mixture onto working surface and start kneading the fondant. Continue kneading, for several minutes )roughly 5 minutes) until about all of the powdered sugar has been incorporated. The fondant consistency and texture should be relatively nice and smooth. If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is probably too dry, so add a little water at time and then kneading it again until the fondant becomes more firm and elastic like, so you can stretch it without it falling apart. Once fondant is ready, either use right away and roll out as needed, or store in refrigerator. Fondant should be rolled to about 1/8 inch thickness. To store fondant, coat it with a thin layer of shortening, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a resealable bag in the refrigerator. It can be stored like this for several weeks. When ready to use fondant, knead the desired amount of fondant until smooth again and then roll out to desired size. If you need to color the fondant, either add it to the marshmallow mixture as noted earlier for a larger batch or for smaller colored amounts of fondant, add color to fondant as needed and knead to incorporate color.

Rolled Marshmallow Fondant Picture Guide 

Examples of how rolled fondant covered cakes look like: 

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Southwestern Eggrolls

Yummy note: A new year, brings along a new Secret Recipe Club blogger to feature. It has been about 3.5 years since I've been involved in this recipe posting group, and have been lucky to review a wide variety of bloggers and different types of recipes. This month might have been one of the first blogs that I can remember having with the SRC that featured a variety of content on the blog, besides cooking. What fun this site was -  Jenna at The Painted Apron has an abundance of creativity and drive, not to mention tips, how-to's and more on this site,  -  wow! Please make sure you stop by her blog, The Painted Apron and dive on it. You will just love Jenna's creative ideas and projects.  So I am a sucker for pizza and breads, so this recipe here almost won my heart, the creative use of breadsticks on this recipe and turning it into like a flower-shaped "pizza". Perhaps the kiddos might like it for Valentines. So Jenna has this series she does called Take Out Tuesday, which I got sucked into and finally decided to pick one from here, as everything was looking just amazing... southwestern eggrolls is something I've never really dabbled with trying to make, as I'm not an eggroll person, I would rather have like a potsticker, dumpling, or something a little smaller to nibble on for an appetizer. The filling for these eggrolls is fantastic and I was eating it just as a salsa towards the end of it!

Southwestern Eggrolls

1/2 bag of fresh spinach 
1/2 cup shredded cheese, I like the Mexican variety best like Chihuahua
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
12 wonton wrappers or 6 eggroll wrappers
1 bag (about 12 oz) of Fire Roasted Black Bean Blend frozen veggies (consisted of sweet corn, black beans, red and poblano peppers)  
1 ear corn
1/2 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 can of diced green chiles, drained


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prep a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Heat the spinach, just slightly just until it begins to wilt. If you are using the prepared black bean veggie mix, microwave for about 1/2 of the time desired in the directions, just until it starts to thaw and cook partially. In a large bowl mix together the corn/bean/pepper mixture with the wilted spinach, cheese, onions, chiles, and seasonings. Prep your wonton wrappers or egg rolls and place a good spoonful of the filling near the center. Fold the sides in and then fold bottom over filling and close tightly. Tip- use a small amount of water near the corners of the eggroll/wonton to seal. Repeat with the remaining and place them slightly apart on the prepared baking sheet. You can also spray the tops of the eggrolls with cooking spray to help prevent them from drying out while baking. Bake for about 10 minutes of so for the smaller wonton bites, or closer to 15-20 minutes if you use larger egg roll wrappers. Make sure to flip them halfway through baking.

Quick tip- I found these frozen veggies and used this as a replacement for the canned beans and chiles since I couldn't find any fresh corn this time of year. It was a fantastic substitution. 

Mix all ingredients together. 

I could eat this here with a spoon... can you say, Salsa!?!

I easily made dairy-free versions, by leaving out the cheese in some and replacing it with a substitute as well. 
Make sure to place enough filling towards the center so your appetizer doesn't explode!

Ready to bake! So pretty looking with the veggies inside. 

Your crispy southwestern eggrolls are done! 

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Corn Dog Mini Muffins

Yummy note: The kids really love the corn dogs, however, it is tricky finding brands that are dairy-free to suit our family's allergy needs. So I went searching to find a recipe to try out and make our own that I could modify. While deep-fried corn dogs are absolutely delicious, these baked ones are a little on the lighter side, if you can call anything corn dog-related "lighter." -Haha. These corn dog muffins are quick to throw together and you have a snack, appetizer, or little meal ready in like 15 minutes, start to finish. The mini muffin-sized corn dogs only take about 6-8 minutes to bake off and they are ready to enjoy. You get about 24 mini corn dog muffins with this recipe. You could probably make them in bigger muffin cup tins, if you wish, but my kids have requested even less corn dog batter in each cup or put more hot dog pieces in it for the next round when we make them.  

Corn Dog Mini Muffins

1 1/2 cups pancake mix 
1/2 cup cornmeal 
1 egg 
1 cup water 
4-5 hot dogs 

Optional topping: 
1-2 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together pancake mix, cornmeal, egg, and water together. Spray mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut hot dogs into pieces, no more than about an inch long. You should have about 24 cut pieces, enough to fill muffin tin cups. Scoop batter into the tins, each cup should be about two-thirds full, with enough room to place the hot dog pieces in without overflowing the cup. Bake in preheated oven for about 6 minutes. Then if you wish, add on additional honey/butter topping and bake for an additional 1-2 minutes until done.  
Just a few ingredients to make these. 
A cookie scooper makes this task of filling the muffin tin cups easier. 
Place cut pieces of hot dog in middle of batter. 
Add on optional honey/butter glaze at the end. 
Recipe makes about 24 corn dog mini muffins! 

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