Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

About a month ago we had a cupcake war at work. My friend, Liz, sent me this recipe and they were a hit. They did not win the cupcake war, but my co-workers loved them and we raised some money for the United Way in the process. As always, my co-workers are more than willing to gobble up any yummy goodies that I bring in to share. I don't think I've brought home leftovers yet, which is good mine and Luke's waistline. Speaking of waistline's mine is continuing to expand, thanks to our little peanut who is continuing to grow. The baby has finally gotten big enough that I can feel him or her moving every day. The baby was moving and kicking so much last night that Luke was actually able to feel the baby move. We are super excited that in 4 short months we will be meeting our little bundle of joy. Of course, I will continue to cook and bake once I become a mommy, but the types of recipes will most likely be changing. The recipe for the cupcakes is below.


1 boxed chocolate cake mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Chipotle Chili Pepper
- Mix per box instructions, adding the cinnamon and chipotle pepper
- Bake per box instructions
11/2 cup butter, room temp
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Beat butter on low for 30 seconds. Add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on low. Add 3 Tbsp cream. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Beat on medium for 1 minute. Blend in 1 Tbsp of cream in frosting is too thick.

Once cupcakes are cooled, frost them. I garnished the cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles and a cinnamon stick. I also thought it would be cute to garnish with dried red chili but I was unable to find them in the short amount time I had to get prepared for this recipe.


Friday, October 26, 2012

All-American Corn Bread

Our busy schedule has continued. Last weekend, my sister got married and Luke and I were both part of the wedding party. I think we are all still trying to recover from an exhausting but wonderful weekend. We are looking forward to spending time with the new Mr. and Mrs. Ihle when they return from their honeymoon in Mexico. This weekend we have another wedding to attend, but this time we are just guests, so Luke and I looking forward to celebrating with everyone.

I love corn bread but I've never made it completely from scratch before. Every other time I've made corn bread, I've just used a box mix. My mom was going through all of her cookbooks and found some little booklets that she didn't want any more. I found this recipe in one of those booklets. I love finding recipes that can be baked using a cast iron skillet. Corn bread is the perfect recipe for making in a cast iron pan.

2 cups biscuit mix
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl. Scald (heating to just below its boiling point) butter and cream; add to dry ingredients. Mix in eggs. Pour into a greased and floured 9-in or 10-in cast-iron skillet or a 13-in x 9-in x 2 in baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Luke could not get enough of this and asked for a big helping for lunch the next day. Be sure to have honey on hand because it makes the perfect after dinner snack as well. ENJOY!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

I had a great year at the Iowa State Fair this year. I entered 15 or 16 items and placed with 4 of them. Some of my recipes will be posted in the next couple of days and some we're posted a while ago. My mother-in-law found this recipe for me and I tried it out for the first time for the fair. The recipe won 3rd place in the Cooking with Iowa Wine Class. The rules were to make a dessert using a wine made in Iowa. I used Sven Red Wine from Snus Hill Winery. This is the winery Luke and I got married out and they have some of my favorite wine. Can't wait to have a glass after the baby is born. This recipe is really simple and tastes more like a brownie than a cake but it's still amazing. Be sure to keep an eye on it while it's baking. If it bakes too long then it's really dry and crumbles a part. I recommend dusting with powdered sugar or making a glaze for the cake.


6 tablespoons  unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup  firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup  white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup  red wine, any kind you like*
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Almost Shrimp Bisque

I'm back!!! I have finally found some time to update my blog and all of you with my very busy life. As I mentioned in my last post, we moved to Grimes and are loving it. We love being so much closer to family and friends. A few weeks after moving, we found out that we are expecting baby #1 in February. We are beyond thrilled to become parents and cannot wait to meet our little one. My due date is February 24th so we are half-way there. Luke got a job working at Cintas, which is located here in Grimes, so it's nice that he doesn't have far too go to get there. We haven't been home much since moving. It seems we've always had something going on. We're looking forward to things slowing down before the baby gets here.

I have mentioned this before but Luke loves soup. I am always looking for new recipes to try. I found this recipe online and it was super easy and very delicious. The directions call to blend the soup but I didn't feel like messing with the blender so I just left everything whole. It was delicious the way I made and I'm sure it would be just as good blended as well. I would recommend using an emulsion blender instead of an actual blender if you have one, less mess that way. Serve with crusty bread or breadsticks.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 pound cooked or raw shrimp, tails removed, cut in pieces
2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot chile sauce, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese


In saucepan, heat olive oil. Add red pepper and onion; saute on low heat until soft, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp, half-and-half, tomato sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add butter.
Put 1/2 hot mixture in a blender and carefully process at high speed about 10 to 15 seconds, or until no large pieces remain. Transfer bisque into soup bowls.
Repeat with remaining mixture. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.
Optional garnishes: herbs and additional shrimp.