Classic Deviled Eggs and an Easy Peeling Method That Really Works

Classic Deviled Eggs

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to have found an easy way to peel hard-boiled eggs. We usually celebrate Easter at our house by going to church, and then having a big Easter dinner with lots of family, and an egg hunt for the kids.  I love tradition so every year I fix the same foods (with the help of my wonderful mom) which includes deviled eggs.  They seem like the perfect Easter appetizer.

Classic Deviled Eggs

Until you try to peel them.  Some years it has literally taken hours to get those pesky shells off.  Not fun when there are so many other things to do to get a holiday meal on the table. That is why I will be forever grateful to Emily at Emily’s Homestead for a completely different method for cooking the eggs which results in the egg peels almost sliding off.  I have tried so many different methods that sounded promising, but didn’t really work.  This one does.  I am almost giddy with happiness.  Another 2 hours in my day.  I’d call that an Easter miracle!

The secret to successful peeling is to steam the eggs for exactly 17 minutes.

Classic Deviled Eggs

I have a steamer, but you can also just use one of those steamer inserts that you place inside a pan of boiling water.  Once the water is boiling, place your cold eggs in the steamer and steam for exactly 17 minutes.  When the timer goes off, take the eggs out and immediately place in a bowl of ice water.

Classic Deviled Eggs

If you steam them for exactly 17 minutes, you don’t get green yolks.  They will be bright yellow, and make the prettiest deviled eggs instead of deviled eggs that look like they were leftover from St. Patrick’s Day because of the greenish colored yolks.

Classic Deviled Eggs

I found out after trying this method several times, that the eggs are easier to peel the warmer they are so don’t wait for the eggs to cool.  Start peeling them right away.  Leave the eggs in the ice water, but take one out at a time and peel it.  The warmer they were, the easier they were to peel, but the ice water is necessary for them to stop cooking and the yolks to stay yellow.  Another great thing about this method is you have perfectly smooth egg whites instead of all the gouges in them from fighting with the peel.

Classic Deviled Eggs

After peeling, give them a quick rinse, slice in half, and pop the egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on medium slow speed for a couple of minutes to break up the yolks.  Then add the other ingredients and mix until smooth.  If you break up the yolks first, you end up with a smoother egg mixture.  You can either scoop the mixture back into the egg halves with a spoon, use a baggy with a hole cut in one end, or a piping bag.  The baggy or the piping bag are definitely the quickest method.  It takes just a few minutes to fill 24 egg halves.  Sprinkle with paprika, chives, or parsley to garnish.  If you cover well with plastic wrap, these will keep over night in the refrigerator and you won’t have to be rushing around at the last-minute filling eggs.

Classic Deviled Eggs

The next time you need to make deviled eggs, give this method a try.  I hope it gives you a little more time to relax  and makes your holidays even happier!

Classic Deviled Eggs

  • Servings: 24
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs (bring water to a boil in a steamer or pan with steam insert, place eggs in steamer, cook for 17 minutes, and plunge in ice water before peeling right away)
  • 1/2 c Best Foods mayonnaise or your favorite brand
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 2 tsp. mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • chives, paprika, or parsley to garnish (optional)
  1. Halve hard-boiled eggs lengthwise.
  2. Pop out yolks and place in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Mix yolks at medium low-speed for a couple of minutes to break up.
  4. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, and salt to yolks.  Mix at medium speed until smooth.
  5. Using a spoon, plastic baggy, or piping bag, place egg yolk mixture into holes of egg halves.
  6. Sprinkle with chives, paprika, or parsley if desired.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found in Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1985, page 196  










Posted in 4th of July Recipes, Appetizers, Breakfast, Easter, Recipes, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Chocolate Lover’s Cupcakes for the Birthday Girl

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes

A friend of mine from out-of-town has a birthday coming up soon, and she will actually be staying at my house on that day.  It is pretty rare that we get to be together on her birthday so I wanted to make her a special treat.  I know she likes chocolate, dark chocolate especially, so I set out to make her the cupcake of her dreams.  Hence this chocolate lover’s cupcake!

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes

The base of the cupcake is made from my go to chocolate cake recipe.  It makes the most moist, chocolaty cupcake you could ever want.  Then the middle is filled with a dark chocolate ganache.  This really adds richness, while balancing the sweetness of the frosting.  The first layer of frosting is from my Vanilla Bean Cupcakes recipe.  Full of vanilla extract and real vanilla bean seeds, it is heavenly and adds a contrast to all of the chocolate flavors.  The top layer  is a semi-sweet chocolate frosting with 2 types of chocolate incorporated into it.  I have been wanting to find a great chocolate frosting recipe, and I think this is it.  It has abundant chocolate flavor, yet is light and creamy.

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes

Then to top it all off, I drizzled the frosting with some more dark chocolate ganache and pearl sprinkles because you just can’t have too much chocolate in a chocolate lover’s cupcake, and how can you have the cupcake of your dreams without sprinkles? Not possible.

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes

Quite often I find myself on the fence about whether I am a chocolate lover or a vanilla lover at heart.  I guess that is why I love this cupcake so much.  It incorporates all of my favorite flavors – dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla beans, and sprinkles.  What more could a girl (or boy) want?

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes

I am making it sound like I made this cupcake for me instead of my friend.  Turns out the cupcake of her dreams is also the cupcake of my dreams.   I guess that is why we get along so well.  We agree on all the important things in life!

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24
  • Time: 4 hours with time in between for baking and cooling
  • Difficulty: moderate due to time involved
  • Print

For the Cupcake:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c hot coffee (you won’t be able to taste the coffee at all, just makes the chocolate more pronounced)
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Add oil, coffee, and milk and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and beat 2 more minutes.  Expect batter to be thin.
  5. Line cupcake pan with approximately 24 paper liners.
  6. Pour batter into liners, making sure each liner is about 2/3 full.
  7. Cook approximately 15 to 18 minutes, testing after 18 with a toothpick to see if done.  Important not to over bake.
  8. Cool cupcakes on wire rack.
  9. After cupcakes are pretty cool, cut out a small hole in center of cupcake, about 1 inch wide and 3/4 inches deep.  A smaller serrated knife works well for this.

Recipe from

For the Ganache:

  • 10 ounces dark chocolate chips (I recommend Ghiradelli)
  • 1 c heavy cream
  1. Place chocolate pieces in a large heat proof bowl.
  2. Heat heavy cream on medium high until just before it comes to a boil. Stir constantly and watch carefully so it doesn’t come to a boil.  Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate.  Do not stir.  Let sit for 10 minutes, and then stir until completely mixed and glossy.  Allow ganache to cool.
  3. When ganache is cool, spoon into a piping bag or baggy and snip off the end.  Fill holes in cupcakes. SAVE LEFTOVER GANACHE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE FOR DRIZZLING AT THE END.
  4. Cover cupcakes and refrigerate until frosting is ready.

Ganache recipe a combination of recipes from Savory Sweet Life and Martha Stewart

For the Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or clear vanilla extract to maintain bright white color)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted (approximately one 1 lb. box plus 1 3/4 plus 1/8 cups)
  • 4-6 Tbsp. heavy cream (I used 4)
  1. Beat butter and vanilla bean seeds until soft and fluffy.
  2. Add in powdered sugar, and beat at low-speed until all lumps are gone.
  3. Add in vanilla and 3 Tbsp. heavy cream.  Beat well.
  4. Add in 1 to 3 more Tbsp. of  heavy cream one at a time and beat until of desired consistency.
  5. Place in a piping bag with a large round tip.  Squeeze onto cupcakes in a single round layer, leaving edges of cupcake showing.  Leave cupcakes out at room temperature while making chocolate frosting.

Recipe from My Baking Addiction

For the Chocolate Butter Cream:

  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips)
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder, sifted (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 2 c unsalted butter, almost room temperature
  • 1/4 c half and half
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 c pre-sifted confectioners sugar (sift first then measure out 3 cups from sifted powdered sugar)
  1. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave in 15 second intervals (important so the chocolate doesn’t seize up).  Stir after each interval, being careful not to overheat it.  Set aside to cool.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes on medium low-speed.
  3. Add half and half and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, but start on low-speed or milk will go everywhere.
  4. Add all the cooled melted chocolate, and then beat for about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  5. Add sifted cocoa powder and powdered sugar in half cup increments, beating well to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Beat until it is as light as you would like it, but it is more of a soft set frosting.
  6. Pipe on top of the vanilla frosting using large round tip.

Recipe from American Heritage Cooking

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache Drizzle:

  • leftover ganache from above
  • piping bag
  • pearl sprinkles
  1. Place leftover ganache into piping bag without tip.
  2. Cut a tiny hole in end of tip.
  3. Drizzle ganache over cupcakes.
  4. Sprinkle with pearl sprinkles if desired.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Make sure you set them out 1 hour prior to serving.
  6. Can be frozen for up to one month.  Thaw out for approximately 4 hours before serving.

Chocolate Lover’s Cupcake created by Cook AZ I Do








Posted in Cupcakes, Desserts, Party Recipes, Recipes, Wedding Reception Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

I think this might be the best breakfast I have ever eaten, and it didn’t even involve cookies or pie.  I just don’t know what is happening to me.  I never used to eat breakfast let alone like breakfast.  My poor mom tried for years to find something I would like.  I just wasn’t ever hungry first thing in the morning.  That’s because I was still trying to deal with the fact that I was awake.  Mornings and I were not on friendly terms.  Now I get up early every day because I want to have more time to get things done, and I actually enjoy it.  It is so weird.  And now I’m liking breakfast food?  Maybe it just took me a long time to grow up.  I don’t know,  but I am not complaining because it means a whole food group has opened up for me.  And it includes this amazing recipe.

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

I really don’t understand why this recipe is so good.  The ingredients are pretty basic.  But the end result is so much more than the sum of the ingredients.  I thought I was going to like it.  But I didn’t think I was going to go crazy over it.  I am pretty sure already that this is going to be in my top 10 recipes of the year.  It is not a difficult recipe, but it does take a bit of time as there are several steps.  It includes roasting some veggies,

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

rolling out puff pastry,

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

then chilling it.  This would be a great recipe for an Easter or Mother’s Day Brunch or overnight company.  I would recommend roasting the veggies and chilling the dough the day before.  That way, all that has to be done in the morning is spread the sour cream over the pastry,

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

and bake it with the eggs.

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

Don’t let the fact that you have to roll out puff pastry worry you either.  It is already rolled out into a square, and all you are doing is flattening it out a couple of inches more.  Just make sure you follow the recipe exactly.  Don’t be like me and forget to bake the puff pastry squares 10 minutes before you add the egg.  You will end up with mushy pastry.   Believe me, whatever you have to do to make this recipe is 100 percent worth it.

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

But don’t let me lead you to believe it is difficult, because it really isn’t.

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

I made these eggs because I just couldn’t get them out of my mind once I saw the picture of them.  Now I can’t get them out of my mind because I know how they taste.  I keep pondering when I should make them again.  I’m thinking as soon as possible and as often as possible.  We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day.   I guess being a grown up has its advantages!

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

Roasted Bell Pepper and Egg Breakfast Pastries

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate due to time
  • Print

  • 2 large red and/or orange bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 2 purple onions, halved and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • fresh sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and saved
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • handful cilantro, chopped
  • 1 sheet puff pasty, THAWED
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing the pastry
  • 4 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together the pepper, onions, thyme, and spices in a bowl.  Add the olive oil and toss well so that everything is coated with the oil and spices.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, stirring and rearranging the veggies a few times so they don’t burn.
  4. While veggies are roasting, chop parsley and cilantro leaves.
  5. After you take the veggies out of the oven, sprinkle them with half the fresh herbs and set aside.
  6. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees.
  7. Roll out the pastry on a FLOURED (IMPORTANT!) piece of parchment paper with a piece of FLOURED parchment paper on top of pastry so the paper doesn’t stick to the dough.  Roll until it reaches a 12×12 inch square (if it’s not quite 12×12 don’t worry about it).  Cut off uneven edges.
  8. Cut into four 6 inch squares.
  9. Transfer each piece to a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, spreading them out a little bit so they have room to bake and expand.
  10. Take a dull knife and score a little 1/4 inch frame around each square of pastry.  Don’t cut all the way through.
  11. Prick the inside of the squares all over with the tines of a fork.  Place pan of pastries in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and spread the INSIDE of each square with 1 Tbsp. of sour cream.
  13. Brush the outside edges of the squares with the beaten egg.
  14. Top each square with some of the veggie mixture, spreading it out evenly, leaving the borders free, and the center of the square empty for the egg which will go in later.  DON’T PUT THE EGG IN YET.
  15. Bake for about 10 minutes until rising and just starting to brown.
  16. Remove pan from oven, and carefully crack an egg into the center of each pastry. You may not need to use all of the egg white if egg starts to overflow.  Put back into the oven for about 10 minutes until the egg is set.  Egg will be soft set and slightly runny at this point.
  17. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and remaining herbs.  Best if eaten immediately.
  18. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, adapted slightly from The View from Great Island blog, and originally found in the Jerusalem cookbook



Posted in Breakfast, Company, Easter, Mother's Day, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Delicious 5 Ingredient Pesto Chicken Soup

Pesto Chicken Soup

I love to cook and don’t mind spending some time preparing a recipe if it is going to taste great in the end.  But there are days when I am short on time, and I just need something quick to fix so we don’t end up at the drive thru.  Unfortunately, I don’t have many recipes like that.  So when I’m in a hurry, I struggle with what to fix.  Well, now I have 1 more recipe in my arsenal on days when there isn’t much time to cook.  But the cool thing is, this soup is so good, I would even fix it for company.

Pesto Chicken Soup

There are only 5 ingredients in this soup (chicken, chicken broth, beans, fresh spinach, and pesto), which is why it is so quick to make.  The reason it tastes so good with only 5 ingredients is the pesto.  Made from basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil, just a third of a cup adds a ton of flavor. You would get the best flavor from homemade pesto.  But since the point of this recipe is to save time, I bought mine.   It is important that you use a good quality pesto though.  My favorite is Trader Joe’s brand found in the refrigerated section.  I like to use the chicken broth from Trader Joe’s as well.  It seems to be a little richer in flavor.  Use whichever one you like best. As far as the chicken goes, for me one of the easiest ways to get cooked chicken is to throw about 6 frozen chicken breasts into the crock pot and cook for 6-8 hours.  I put them into the freezer afterwards to save for when a recipe calls for it.   I also sometimes just bake them covered at 350 for 1 hour.  You could even buy a rotisserie chicken and cut up the already cooked meat.  (By the way,  my mom mentioned the other day that Costco’s rotisserie chickens have a lot more meat on them than the regular grocery stores, and they’re cheaper).   Any of these ideas for cooked chicken would work just fine for this recipe.

Pesto Chicken Soup

I hope you get a chance to try this soup.  It is great having something you can whip up so quickly.  The other day my daughter called and asked if she and her roommates could come over for dinner.  I only had a couple of hours to shop and prepare dinner.  I had some cooked chicken in the freezer.  I got the rest of the ingredients for the soup (all 4 of them) and some bread and had dinner on the table in a matter of minutes.  Yet I felt like they were getting some good nutrition, and it was much better than cafeteria food (even though college food is a lot better than it used to be)!  They ate the soup and asked for more.   We had the soup again for dinner tonight.  But it wasn’t because I was in a hurry.  It was because we like it so much.  So I’m passing this one along to you, hoping it will help you out on those crazy days when there’s no time to cook or those days when you just want something good to eat!

Pesto Chicken Soup

5 Ingredient Pesto Chicken Soup

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 cups good quality chicken stock
  • 3 handfuls fresh spinach (about 3 cups)
  • 2 c cooked chicken cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans Great Northern or cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 c pesto (homemade or store-bought – I recommend Trader Joe’s brand if you are buying it)
  • optional – freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping
  1. Stir together chicken stock, spinach, chicken, and beans in a large pot.
  2. Cook over medium heat until the soup reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Then reduce heat to medium, stir in the pesto, and let the soup continue to simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Serve warm, topped with Parmesan cheese if desired (it tastes really good with this soup)!

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally created by Gimme Some Oven






Posted in Chicken Recipes, Company, Main Dish, Recipes, Soups, Weeknight Meals, winter recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Banana Berry Smoothie

I just had to share with you the mid-morning snack I have been enjoying lately.  It is a blueberry, banana smoothie with spinach thrown in for good health.  It is super easy to make, tastes wonderful, and is low in fat.  So many good qualities in a smoothie.  But that isn’t why I like it.  I just think it tastes good.  It is so slushy and creamy, it is like you are drinking a milkshake.  Although I prefer chocolate milkshakes, this smoothie is the perfect morning or afternoon snack when you don’t want the calories or fullness from a shake.  One thing I love about it is it doesn’t contain yogurt.  I love yogurt, but not in smoothies for some reason.  Not that I’m  picky or anything!  But when something is good for you and tastes great, there is no reason not to be picky.

Banana Berry Smoothie

Another great thing about this smoothie is it only contains four ingredients that I usually have on hand.  You need to plan ahead a tiny bit by freezing a banana and a bag of blueberries.  Make sure you peel the bananas first or it will be hard to get off after it is frozen. When my bananas are starting to get brown, I just peel them, put them in a baggie, and place them in the freezer to have on hand.  Then when you are ready for a smoothie,  just throw a banana and some blueberries in your blender along with some orange juice and a handful of spinach.

Banana Berry Smoothie

Blend all the ingredients up and pour it in a glass.  So simple.  I love how thick it is!

Banana Berry Smoothie

I think even kids would enjoy this because all you really taste is the banana and the orange juice and the blueberries give it a fun color.  The spinach is not even noticeable.  It just gives you lots of vitamins.  Every time I go to the eye doctor, she tells me to make sure to eat my greens as it is important for eye health.  This is a yummy way to get good eyesight!

Banana Berry Smoothie

You’ll have to give this a try and let me know what you think.  I’m not going to be giving up milkshakes anytime soon, but since I really can’t afford to eat them every day, this is a great substitution.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Banana Berry Smoothie

Blueberry, Banana Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1/2 c frozen blueberries
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 handful spinach, approximately 1 cup
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Mix until well blended.
  3. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, slightly adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

Posted in Breakfast, Drinks, Low Fat, Recipes, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Cappuccino Muffins With Chocolate Chip Espresso Cream Cheese

Cappuccino Muffins

What is it about heart-shaped things?  I just love them.  I guess I’m just a mushy girl.  But even if you took away the heart shape of these muffins and made them in normal cupcake papers, these are wonderful.  They have a hint of coffee taste as well as cinnamon and chocolate.  They smell wonderful when they are baking. If you are not a cappuccino lover, these Raspberry Lemon Muffins would be cute in a heart shape, but because the coffee flavor in the muffins is mild, I think coffee lovers and non-coffee lovers alike would enjoy them.

Cappuccino Muffins

Then, there is an espresso chocolate chip cream cheese spread to top them off.  It takes them to a whole new level!  This would also be good spread on a bagel.

Cappuccino Muffins

They would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day breakfast for your family or to make for friends as gifts.  Or just make them whenever you decide it is time for a delicious muffin!

Cappuccino Muffins

These could not be easier to make.  It is just a matter of throwing a few ingredients into a bowl, mixing, and baking.  Just make sure, if you are using heart-shaped muffin tins to spray the insides of the hearts very thoroughly with cooking spray so the muffins don’t stick.  While the muffins are baking you can whip up the cream cheese spread.  The muffins can be made ahead and frozen until the day you need them, too.

Cappuccino Muffins

I think I just may start making everything I cook into heart shapes.

Cappuccino Muffins

Meatloaf, pizza, cookies, eggs, toast, pancakes, would all look better as hearts don’t you think?  Maybe if I make salmon in the shape of a heart, Jeff will like it better. Nevermind, even heart-shaped salmon doesn’t sound that great.  I think I’ll just stick with the muffins!:)

Cappuccino Muffins

Cappuccino Muffins With Chocolate Chip Espresso Cream Cheese

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Muffins:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder (instant coffee can be used but won’t result in as strong of a coffee flavor)
  • 1/2 c butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Chip Espresso Cream Cheese:

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Muffins:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, stir milk and coffee granules until coffee is dissolved.
  3. In this order, add the melted butter, egg, and vanilla while stirring with a whisk.  Mix well.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  5. Fold in miniature chocolate chips.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups or heart-shaped muffin pans 2/3’s full of batter.
  8. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until muffins test done when inserted with a toothpick.  Watch carefully the last few minutes so you don’t overcook them.  While muffins are baking, make Chocolate Chip Espresso Cream Cheese.

For the Chocolate Chip Espresso Cream Cheese:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine softened cream cheese, sugar, espresso powder, vanilla.  Mix on medium-low speed until well blended.
  2.  Gently fold in miniature chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, found originally in Taste of Home Magazine, October/November 1999 issue, page 25 and submitted by Janice Bassing





Posted in Breads and Rolls, Breakfast, Company, Father's Day Recipes, Food Gifts, Party Recipes, Recipes, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Comments

Pork Chili Verde

Pork Chili Verde

It is Friday, and our family eats Mexican food on Fridays which I always look forward to. But this is a very special Friday.  It is the one year anniversary of Fiesta Friday over at The Novice Gardener.  Because of the fact that it is a huge anniversary celebration, I couldn’t just take any old Mexican food dish.  It had to be something special.  And that is exactly what this recipe is – total Mexican comfort food, perfect for a fiesta!

Pork Chili Verde

Pork Chili Verde is New Mexico’s version of Texas chile.  Whereas meat and red chiles are the star in Texas,  Pork Chili Verde uses green chiles.  There are many versions of this New Mexican stew, but the common ingredients are pork and green chiles.  This version contains tomatillos and Yukon Gold potatoes which add great flavor and color.  Tomatillos are such an interesting ingredient.  They have an inedible papery outer shell which gets removed.


Inside you find something that looks like a little green tomato.  It is part of the tomato family, but the taste is completely different, and they are not interchangeable in a recipe.  I found tomatillos at my local Wal-Mart store, but if you don’t see them at your grocery store, check out a Latin specialty store.

You start out by making a salsa mixture that is put into a blender and pureed.  No wonder it tastes so good!

I would describe this chili as full of flavor and not very spicy, depending on the brand of diced green chiles you use, which makes it perfect to serve for a get-together since those who don’t like spicy food will enjoy it, too.  It takes a bit of time to make as most good recipes do, but it makes a large amount and freezes well.  And the nice thing is, you can use it in so many ways.  Eat it the same way you would a bowl of red chile with corn or flour tortillas for dipping, fold it up in a flour tortilla and eat as a burrito, or spread it over tortillas chips for nachos.  Any way you eat it, it is absolutely delicious!

Pork Chili Verde

I am so excited to be taking this special chili to Fiesta Friday.  Angie is just about one of the nicest people I’ve ever virtually met in the blogging world and everyone who attends her parties are just as sweet.  I’m so thankful to have met them and always look forward to seeing what dishes they bring.  Special appreciation goes out to Nancy from Feasting With Friends and Selma from Selma’s Table for co-hosting this event.  Please join me over at The Novice Gardener for some great food and wonderful people.  Everyone is invited!

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Pork Chili Verde

  • Servings: 3-4 quarts
  • Time: 2 hours plus 2-3 hours cooking time
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

  • 3 c (or more) chicken broth, divided
  • 1 lb. tomatillos (for me this was 13), husked, rinsed, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges, divided
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 c (packed) fresh cilantro with tender stems
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • canola oil
  • 1 (4 to 4 1/2) lb. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), most of the fat trimmed off, cut into 1/1/2-inch cubes (important for the flavor that you have this size piece)
  • 1-2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 can (7 oz.) diced, roasted green chiles
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 4 small to medium potatoes)
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • corn or flour tortillas (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I recommend at least 1-1 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2-3/4 tsp. pepper)
  1. Puree 2 cups chicken broth, 1/4 of the tomatillos, green onions, cilantro with stems, and garlic in blender.  Set aside.
  2. Brush 2 heavy large pots or deep skillets with oil.  Heat over medium-high heat.  Place pork pieces in both pans in single layer.  Salt and pepper meat.
  3. Cook without moving until browned, approximately 4 minutes.  (Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn).  Turn meat and do the same thing on that side.  Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl.
  4. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. fat from 1 pot (add oil if needed).  Add onion to pot.  Saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle cumin seeds over onion and cook until cumin is toasted, about 2 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining tomatillos and cook until tender and browned in spots, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  7. Return pork and any juices to pot.  Add 2 cups reserved tomatillo mixture, 1 cup chicken broth, chiles, and oregano.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until pork is tender, about 2 hours.
  8. Add potatoes to pork.  Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  9. Stir in remaining tomatillo mixture.  Bring to a simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Pour into bowls, garnish with cilantro if desired, and serve with hot corn or flour tortillas on the side for dipping. You can also place meat mixture in a flour tortilla and fold it into a burrito.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found in Epicurious Magazine, February 2011






Posted in Christmas, Cinco de Mayo, Main Dish, Mexican, Soups, Weekend Meals | Tagged , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Chocolate Pretzel Hearts – A Quick and Easy Treat for Valentine’s Day

Chocolate Pretzel Hearts

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this week I decided to experiment with chocolate, pretzels, and sprinkles to create a quick, inexpensive gift for family and friends.  Chocolate and Valentine’s Day just go together, but add in pretzels and you have that whole salty/sweet thing going on.  With the help of Dove hearts, not only is the chocolate delicious, but cute, too.  I had so much fun making these this week.  I am a little sad I don’t have little ones at home any more, because this would be a great project to do with your kids as it is so easy.  They look great on a white plate altogether to set out at a party or you can package them up in individual containers to give as gifts.

Chocolate Pretzel Hearts

It took me all of about 2 minutes to put them together, and then 4 more minutes to bake them so the chocolate melts and becomes soft and creamy.  Just be sure you put down parchment paper on the cookie sheet before assembling them.  Also, it is important to place them on a plate immediately after baking.  When I didn’t do that the first time, the chocolate continued to melt because of the hot pan, and the heart shape became a little lopsided.

Chocolate Pretzel Hearts

If you only cook them for 4 minutes and remove them from the pan right away, the chocolate holds its shape and doesn’t melt all over the place.  You can stick them in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes to set the chocolate up after baking if you are in a hurry to package them.

Chocolate Pretzel Hearts

I love coming up with different ways to package treats.  These smaller decorative Chinese food boxes worked perfect to hold just a few pretzel hearts.  I found these particular boxes at Cost Plus, but have seen them at Michael’s.

Chocolate Pretzel Hearts

I don’t know about you, but I’m still kind of tired from Christmas.  Am I the only one who feels that way?  The idea of thinking about another holiday, and investing a lot of time on a cooking project is not very appealing at this point.  Mostly I just want to do some cleaning to get my house on back on track after being neglected for awhile.  That is why I love these.  They don’t take all day, but taste fantastic, and still have that cute factor you want for Valentine’s Day.  Don’t forget to save a few for yourself as well.  They make a great reward after a long day of cleaning!

Chocolate Pretzel Hearts

  • Servings: Approximately 36
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • mini pretzels (Snyder’s look more like hearts but any can be used)
  • 8.87 package Dove Dark Chocolate Hearts
  • 3.25 oz. Wilton Jumbo Heart Sprinkles (found in cake decorating section of Wal-Mart or craft store)
  • parchment paper
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Unwrap chocolate hearts.
  4. Place pretzels on parchment paper.
  5. Place a chocolate heart on each pretzel, lining the pretzels and hearts up so that the heart shape matches.
  6. Place a heart sprinkle on top of each chocolate heart.
  7. Very carefully put the pan in the oven making sure to not jostle the heart sprinkles out-of-place.
  8. Cook for 4 minutes.  Do not overcook or the chocolate will melt too much and lose its heart shape.
  9. Immediately remove the pretzels from the pan to a plate to cool.  Otherwise the chocolate will continue to melt and lose the heart shape.
  10. Place the plate of chocolates in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes to set the chocolate.
  11. Package as desired or cover plate with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, idea inspired by The Paper Piñata

Posted in Candy, Desserts, Food Gifts, Party Recipes, Recipes, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Thick and Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

I have been making Fettuccine Alfredo ever since we were married, but have always been frustrated with how thin my sauce was.  It tasted great, but just wasn’t the right consistency for me.  The last few years I have tried different recipes, but the ones I tried came out very similar to mine.  So last week I tried a new one, and it was absolutely perfect!  It was thick and creamy and rich just the way I wanted it to be.  I’m pretty sure this will make the final cuts of my favorite recipes for 2015, and it is only the first recipe I tried this year.  If you like alfredo sauce, you will love this one!

Fettuccini Alfredo

The sauce is very simple to make, and can be made fairly quickly.  It is not as quick as pouring it out of a jar, but the results are a 1000 times better.  Originally, I was a little hesitant to try it, as I noticed the recipe called for eggs.  I was afraid it would have an eggy taste, but you would never know they are even in there.  They are just there to help achieve the thickness that makes this sauce so wonderful.

Fettuccine Alfredo

When we were eating this for the first time, I was just oohing and ahhing at how good it was.  Then I turned to my husband and said, “It’s too bad we can never eat this again.”  I said that because it is so high in fat and calories.  I really didn’t mean that.  I know I will be making it over and over again.  It is definitely one of those recipes you can’t make every week if you want to be healthy, though.  But for special occasions or company coming over, this would be perfect.  I’m thinking that there has got to be some kind of holiday coming up soon so that we can eat it again.  Maybe Sir Walter Raleigh landing day? Such a huge event has to be celebrated with special foods!:)

Thick and Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. freshly, finely grated Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz. freshly, finely grated Romano Cheese (1/2 c), plus more for serving
  • 2 oz. freshly, finely grated Mozzarella Cheese (1/2 cup)
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 lb. fettuccine pasta, uncooked
  1. Cook pasta according to directions listed on package, scoop out and reserve 1/4 cup pasta water into a small bowl before draining.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine cream and milk.  Scoop out and reserve 1/4 cup cream mixture into a small mixing bowl.
  3. Scoop out and reserve another 1/4 cup cream mixture into a separate small mixing bowl.
  4. Bring cream mixture in saucepan to a simmer over medium heat (a gentle bubble just below boiling).  Reduce heat to medium low.
  5. Add 3 egg yolks to one of the small mixing bowls containing 1/4 cup cream mixture and stir egg yolks until very well blended, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add 2 tsp. cornstarch to separate small mixing bowl containing remaining 1/4 cup cream mixture and whisk mixture until well blended and smooth.
  7. Add 1/4 cup hot cream mixture from saucepan to egg yolk mixture and blend, then add 1/4 cup hot cream mixture to cornstarch mixture and blend.
  8. Pour both mixtures into hot cream mixture in saucepan.  Cook mixture over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  9. Reduce heat to low and sprinkle in garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and finely grated cheeses.  Cook, stirring constantly until cheese has melted.  Thin sauce, if desired with pasta water that was reserved (I didn’t add any pasta water as I like the sauce thick).  If you want to thin the sauce, start with 2 Tbsp. and go from there until of desired consistency.
  10. Pour alfredo sauce over drained pasta and toss to evenly coat.  Plate and garnish with additional grated Romano cheese, optional chopped fresh parsley, and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.  Serve immediately.
  11. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found on Cooking Classy 




Posted in Company, Italian, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

My Most Favorite Recipes I Made This Year – 2014

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

This last year was a great year for finding the most delicious recipes!  I have so many new favorites that I have already made over and over.  It was really hard to just pick a few, but I narrowed it down to 15.  Scroll down to the bottom to see what my number 1 recipe was this year.  I hope you find something you missed or are reminded of a recipe that you want to make.  I know I will continue to make all of these, but I am also looking forward to cooking this year, visiting other blogs, and finding more incredible recipes to share.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who take the time to “like” or comment or just read my posts.  It really means a lot to me, and I hope you have found some recipes that have become your favorites as well.  Here’s to another year of cooking together!

15.  Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Creamy cheesecake plus tart lemon – who can resist that?  Really, creamy cheesecake plus anything would probably always make my top 10 list.

14.  Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

Trying to meet my goal this year of getting over my fear of yeast, I made my own pizza crust.  What a wonderful way to get over a fear!

13.  Creamy and Comforting Potato Soup

Potato Soup

Total comfort food and the best potato soup I’ve ever had!

12.  Dark Chocolate Brownie Sundaes

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Because everybody needs a great homemade brownie recipe, and I finally found mine.  So rich and chocolaty!

11.  Vanilla Almond Granola

Vanilla Almond Granola

I had so much fun making my own granola.  The vanilla flavor reallly comes through in this.

10.  Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

I love making this for company.  Everyone likes it.

9.  Red Potato Breakfast Skillet

Red Potato Breakfast Skillet

I wanted to find a breakfast dish to serve company at our cabin.  This one is perfect.

8.  Caramelized Pear Crostini with Honey and Thyme

Caramelized Pear Crostini

I made this over and over again when I needed an appetizer in the fall. Simple to make yet great flavor!

7.  Caramel Apple Pie Cups

Caramel Apple Pie Cups

These taste just like apple pie and are the perfect holder for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I probably made these more than any other recipe this year.  They freeze well which really helps during the busy holidays.

6.  M and M Cookies

M and M Cookies

I am always on the lookout for a great cookie recipe and this one is the best!

5.  Spicy Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas

Best carnitas recipe I’ve tried.  So flavorful!

4.  Blueberry Lemon Walnut Scones

Blueberry Lemon Scones

It’s amazing how much lemon flavor these have, and combined with the blueberries, it is a perfect combination. I love these!

3.  Apple, Bacon, and Pecan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Apple, Bacon, and Candied Pecan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This was my signature salad during the fall.  The dressing is one of my favorites ever.

2.  Classic Chocolate Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream

Classic Chocolate Pie

Perfect chocolate pudding from scratch and so easy.  I will never use box pudding again.

1.  Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls With Honey Butter

Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls

I am more happy about this recipe than any other this year because I actually made dinner rolls with yeast from scratch.  And they turned out!  I think I like the color of these just as much as the taste.

Happy 2015!







Posted in Best of 2014, Company, New Year's Recipes, Party Recipes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments