Springtime Cake Bites

SCBLate into the winter each year, our church has a Spaghetti Lunch and Dessert Auction to raise funds for summer youth programs. It’s loads of fun to see all the clever creations all the amazing bakers come up with. I also enjoy trying to find something new and exciting to make each year. We’ve made a really fun Angry Birds cake, a Mustache cake, and Snapchat cupcakes.

I had a lot of success with my Festive Rum Cake Balls. Not only did they taste great, they got me over my fear of dipping! I feel like a dipping pro now! So I decided to invest in some small cookie cutters for the express purpose of making cake bites to sell at the Dessert Auction.

Springtime Cake Bites
1 box yellow cake mix, prepared according to the instructions on the box. A rectangle is fine.
3 cups powdered sugar
2- 6 oz bags of Wilton Candy Melts

  1. Bake your cake and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. It should still be warm.
  2. Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. The resulting mixture should be quite sticky.
  3. Press onto baking sheet. It should be about 3/4 inch thick.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Using your cookie cutters, cut a bunch of cake bites. Just like you do with cookie dough, press it back together and if needed, chill again. Continue cutting cake bites until you are out of batter.
  6. Chill your bites for another 30 minutes.
  7. Melt the candy melts according the instructions on the package.
  8. Carefully did, one at a time. I find the easiest way to cover the bites is to plop into the bowl and use a fork to flip so all sides get coated.
  9. Gently remove onto a sheet of waxed paper.
  10. Chill until set.

My test run went very well. My Faithful Assistant was very pleased with the final product. We was very happy to be the taste tester. He did pay close attention to the dipping process so he will be able to help next time and cut the prep time in half.

If you’re interested in something for a more adult audience, use rum or whiskey in place of half the water (or milk) in your recipe. Our cake bites were made with about 3 oz of whiskey. They have a nice flavor but they aren’t too boozy.

I’m excited for our Auction next week. Our congregation is not only generous but so creative. And I love how involved the youth are in an event that benefits them. It’s a great way to get them interested in helping others as they help themselves.

Enjoy!

Super Fast Red Beans and Rice

SFRBRIt’s been a very long couple weeks. Finally this weekend, we have almost nothing to do. I couldn’t be happier. I felt it was important to welcome in this stress-free weekend with a healthy and delicious dinner. Of course, with a starving teen at home, speed is life.

This morning, I decided to make a more concerted effort to have more meat free meals. My initial plan was to make some Vegetable Wontons but alas, no wonton wrappers. Plan B was nonexistent. That left me wandering. I meandered around, when the Vegan meats in the refrigerator case caught my eye. I decided to grab some Tofurky Andouille Sausage, veggies, and make a colorful, healthy dinner.

Super Fast Red Beans and Rice
1 cup rice, cooked, and set aside – about three cups
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
I can red kidney beans
2 cups vegan broth
4 andouille sausages, sliced

  1. Saute onions, celery and garlic in a small amount of olive oil until slightly softened.
  2. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, broth, beans, and cooked rice. Heat through.
  4. About five minutes before you are ready to serve, stir in the sliced peppers and heat until they have warmed. They’ll still be crisp. You’ll love it!

If you have never tried vegan sausage, the first thing you will notice is the texture. It’s very different than traditional meat sausage. After a few bites, you should be able to move beyond it. As for the flavor, it was great! You may have noticed that I didn’t add any spices to my dish. You could easily add some salt and pepper and maybe a little cayenne; maybe even some cumin. I didn’t because I wanted to really taste the flavors of the sausage. I was not disappointed at all. And for those in my household who are actually afraid of a little heat, there wasn’t too much of that at all!

With Lent right around the corner, you may be looking for some meatless meals. I encourage you to try some vegan sausage or other vegan meat substitutes. If you’re worried about protein, you shouldn’t be. The Tofurky Andouille Sausage has 29 grams of protein per serving! And it appears to be a pretty good source of iron too!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Mommy Ramen

MRI’ve been very intrigued by a newish trend in dining: The Fancy Ramen Bowl. The prices for this delightful dish can range from $10 to $20. But thanks to some really great boxed broth, you can now make your own at home!

Mommy Ramen
1 box Imagine Ramen Broth
8 oz. ramen noodles
6 oz. pork – I used Irish Bacon
Shredded carrots
Sautéed mushrooms
Bean sprouts – the white ones
Chopped green onion
Boiled egg, slice in half

  1. Saute the pork with a little oil. Set aside.
  2. Boil the noodles in the broth.
  3. When the noodles are done, layer the noodles in the bottom of a large bowl. Add some broth.
  4. Add a few slices of the pork, some of the veggies, and two egg halves.
  5. Sprinkle the chopped green onion on top.

The beautiful about this is that it’s so easy to customize. You can have a whole bunch of everyone’s favorite fresh chopped veggies and they can choose what they want.

My Faithful Assistant was pretty happy when I told him I was stopping to get some stuff to use to make ramen. A friend of his had made some recently and he was a little envious. He did have a little feedback, of course. He said he would skip the carrots next time, and more broth, and a different kind of mushroom. We both loved the bean sprouts though!

Our Mommy Ramen was ready very fast, and it certainly didn’t cost $10 a bowl to make. I can’t wait to have it again!

Enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Ganache

ECGAre you living in fear of Valentine’s Day? Do you have no idea what to buy? Do you think you’re a terrible cook and incapable of baking? Don’t worry about it! I’m here to help!

I have several baked goods on which I use Chocolate Ganache. It’s rich and creamy but not too sweet. That makes it a great topping for cupcakes and cookies, and even a wonderful fruit dip. That means you can go buy some simple cookies like Madeleines or even Chocolate Chip cookies, dip them in ganache, and present your Valentine with a semi-homemade treat that will be sure to wow.

The picture is my oldest son’s birthday cake that I’ve been making him since he was maybe 13. He’s 20 now and the cake has become a treat we have all grown to love. Isn’t it pretty? It’s shiny and so delicious!

Easy Chocolate Ganache
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Fill a sauce pan half full of water and heat on high.
  2. Place the chocolate the the cream in a bowl that will nest on top of the sauce pan. Heat until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. For smaller items, you can dip and let set on a sheet of waxed paper. For larger items like cakes, slowly pour starting in the middle of cake, and spread with a rubber spatula.

I love Valentine’s Day because it’s my oldest son’s birthday, hence the heart shaped cake. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he is the best Valentine gift I will ever get and I love nothing more than making his favorite foods for him on his special day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy!

Asian Dumpling Soup

adsRemember that time you had that soup at that place? The broth was the perfect combination of flavorful, smooth, and sort of exotic tasting without having too much heat or ginger? Remember how you thought “I can make this at home!” Yeah. No you can’t. But thanks to the magic of Imagine Food broths, you will get darn close!

I’ll try to keep this tale as short as I can. At Whole Foods, my son decided he wanted some salmon candy (smoked salmon that is sweetened with sugar or maple syrup. Very tasty). Next to the salmon candy, there were some Sea Bast Dumplings Intriguing. I remembered a friend at church had told me about some great soup she had at Trader Joes that was simply some wontons in Miso broth with a few veggies. Hmmm. The gears were spinning fast! I picked up some mushrooms, and snap peas and threw together what turned out to be an incredibly tasty soup.

Asian Dumpling Soup
1 quart Imagine Ramen Broth
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
Small bunch of chopped green onions – keep an inch of the green
2 cups snap peas
12 medium dumplings

  1. Saute the mushrooms and both types of onions for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Onions should be translucent.
  2. Add the peas and broth and heat thoroughly.
  3. Add the dumplings and continue cooking for about 10 minutes until dumplings are hot. Be careful not to leave them in too long. They will get kind of soggy and pasty.

I am not ashamed to use prepared broth. I consider prepared broths to be a precious gift. I always keep a few boxes in my pantry. They allow me to make delicious soups which are very important to my existence as a human being in no time at all. I am always very happy to find new varieties and the Imagine Ramen Broth didn’t disappoint. I look forward to trying it again and sampling a more of their offerings.

Enjoy!