Friday, September 28, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

These pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting were perfectly delicious and easy.  I cheated a little bit since I used a cake mix but I didn't add in the typical eggs, oil and water.  I only used a can of organic pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) and spices.  The cupcakes were light and fluffy with a taste of pumpkin pie.   I loved the maple cream cheese frosting, not too sweet with a hint of maple syrup.  I brought these cupcakes to work for a coworker’s birthday and they were a hit!  In case you were also wondering, the cute polka dot cupcake liners are from Sur La Table.  Enjoy this wonderful taste of fall (my absolute favorite season)!


Pumpkin Cupcakes 
Printable Recipe

Ingredients
1 box cake mix (I used a white cake mix.)
15 ounce can pumpkin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger (I used minced ginger because that is all I had.)


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place cupcake liners in muffin pan.

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together until well blended.


Fill cupcake liners halfway with batter.


Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Cool and serve as is or with maple cream cheese frosting.  Store in the refrigerator.

For Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar


Directions

In an electric stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in powdered sugar.  Beat in maple syrup at low speed.  

Chill until just firm enough to use, about 30 minutes.
I used a frosting bag with a piping tip to frost the cupcakes.  I place the frosting bag in a tall glass to make it easier to fill.







Thursday, September 27, 2012

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken


Yes, here is another slow cooker recipe but who doesn't love slow cooker recipes?  This is a great no fail recipe because you can't mess this up.  I only used 4 ingredients so it can't get any easier.  What is also great is how versatile this chicken is for so many different dishes.  I have made a sandwich and burritos with this chicken already.  Enjoy!






Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Ingredients
1 pound chicken (I had 1 chicken breast and 2 chicken thighs.)
1 cup salsa
15 ounce can black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cumin


Directions

Place chicken in slow cooker and season with cumin.


Top with drained black beans and salsa.


Cook on high 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours, until chicken is cooked through.  The chicken should shred easily.



Serve over rice, in a burrito/taco or as a sandwich.




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Roasted Lemony Parmesan Asparagus


I loved this side dish, it was so fresh and delicious.  This was quick and easy and took me less than 20 minutes to put together.  I served this Roasted Lemony Parmesan Asparagus with a grilled marinated flank steak and a baked sweet potato.  Enjoy!



Roasted Lemony Parmesan Asparagus 

Ingredients
1 pound asparagus
zest of ½ lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare asparagus by breaking off any tough bottom ends.

On a foil covered baking sheet, place asparagus and drizzle with olive oil.

Season with salt and lemon zest.


Bake for about 15 minutes.

Top with Parmesan cheese.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marinated Flank Steak


This marinated flank steak recipe is simple and flavorful.  The smell of the steak grilling was amazing.  I adapted this recipe from allrecipes.com.  I marinated my flank steak for about 2 hours, but the longer you marinate your meat, the more flavor you will add to it.  If you don't have an outdoor grill, you could use a stovetop griddle or a Cusinart Griddler, which is what I have and used.  I know I have been talking about my Griddler lately but I have been trying to use it more often.  I promise I'm not getting paid to endorse it because I am not famous enough to be paid to endorse it.  LOL.  I served this marinated flank steak with a baked sweet potato and my roasted lemony parmesan asparagus (recipe to be posted tomorrow).  This was one awesome dinner!



Marinated Flank Steak

Ingredients
1 pound flank steak
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (or ½ teaspoon minced garlic)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Directions

In a shallow glass dish (I used an 8x8 baking dish), mix the oil, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic and pepper.   Whisk to mix marinade well.


Place meat in dish with marinade.  Turn meat to coat on both sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or more.  (I turned meat halfway through marinade time.)

Preheat grill to medium-high heat (I used my Cusinart Griddler at 400 degrees F at medium-high.)

Spray grill with non-stick spray. Grill meat for 5 minutes per side for medium.  Cook longer if desired for well done.


Allow meat to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing across the grain.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Peachy Salad


This is an end of summer and an end of peach season salad.  There were so many peaches at the farmers market towards the end of summer.   This is probably my last peach I can buy at the farmers market because its already apple season.  I love this salad and somehow I tend to put fruit in salads, such as my salad with blackberries recipe hereI think goat cheese or feta cheese would have been a nice addition if I had it.  I'm still enjoying the balsamic vinegar and olive oil gifts from my wonderful friends.  Enjoy this peachy salad and I'm looking forward to apple recipes soon!




Peachy Salad

Ingredients
1 peach, diced
1 bag salad mix (I used about ½ bag of spring mix.)
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used LeRoux pomegranate balsamic vinegar.)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used Regusci California extra virgin olive oil.)
salt and pepper


Directions

In a bowl, add salad mix.


Top with peaches and almonds.


Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eggless Waffles


Easy like Sunday morning...with Eggless Waffles!  I finally received my waffle plates for my Cuisinart Griddler.  I have been wanting to make my own waffles for awhile now and I finally caved in and bought the waffle plates.  Its actually great since I don't need another appliance to make waffles, I just have to switch out the plates.  I was finally ready to make waffles but then realized I had no eggs.  Major fail on my part!  I realized I didn't get to go to the farmers market last Tuesday due to torrential rain and I usually buy my eggs from an Amish farmer.  So instead I did some online research and realized there were plenty of recipes for waffles with no eggs.  These Eggless Waffles turned out great and I couldn't even taste a difference. 


  
Eggless Waffles

Ingredients
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups milk (I used organic lowfat 1% milk.)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons melted butter

Optional Ingredients
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (I added this to half the batter.)


Directions

In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder and sugar.


Add in the remaining ingredients - milk, vegetable oil, water, vanilla and melted butter.


Whisk together until batter is mixed, it will be slightly lumpy. (Optional ingredient, add in chocolate chips last.)


Spray waffle maker with non-stick spray.  Once heated and ready, I used a ¼ measuring cup of batter for each waffle.  Let cook for about 3 to 4 minutes depending on your waffle maker instructions.




Serve warm with butter and/or maple syrup.




 Mmm.....I love Sunday morning waffles!


Buddy likes to sleep in on Sundays...or everyday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Apple iphone 5 Ordeal

Sorry for this long non food-related rant/post but I think I had the craziest iphone 5 ordering experiences this week.  I currently have the iphone 3GS so it was definitely time for my upgrade to an iphone 5, which I have been waiting for.

On Friday 9/14, I decided to preorder the iphone 5 when I heard my sister-in-law Crystal and friend Ella both had preordered theirs (among a million other people).  I tried to preorder it online through AT&T but the website wasn’t working right.  I then had to call and order it through a sales rep on the phone.  I felt so lucky I was able to preorder the phone and it would get delivered within 7 to 14 days of my order date.  I even asked to ship it to my place in DC instead of my parents in MD and was told that was fine.  I received confirmation of my order via a text message and also was given an order number. 

On Thursday, 9/20, I was thinking oh I should check my order status.  I checked the AT&T website and entered my order number, it wasn’t showing up.  Hmmm, I thought that was odd.  Next, I called the automated status number and my order number wasn’t there either.  I finally got through to an AT&T sales rep and she figured out that my preorder was cancelled!  WTF!  Apparently, because I was shipping it to another address that wasn’t the billing address, it was flagged and cancelled.  I admit that is a great security check but I wasn’t trying to defraud someone.  I was legitimately ordering a phone for myself since I don’t live with my parents, which is the billing address for our account.  Also no one notified me that the order was cancelled; I had no email, phone call or text to let me know.  So I had to reorder the iphone 5 which led me to another AT&T sales rep named Linda.  The only consolation I got was that my activation fee would be waived since they had cancelled my initial preorder.  It also sucks that now it’s going to be 14 to 21 days and I probably won’t get my phone until the second week of October.

Today, Friday, 9/21, I had to go to the Honda dealership in the morning to take my car for an oil change and meet my friend Cindy for manis/pedis and lunch.  The Apple store is near the dealership and I saw the line wasn’t long.  I thought maybe I can check to see if they have phones available that day and I could cancel my preorder.  I spoke to the Apple sales rep outside and they said I could do that and get a phone today. I must admit, the Apple store employees were great, they were giving out tickets to each person in line and offering coffee or water. I only waited in line for about 30 minutes and was paired up with Eric, an Apple sales rep.  (By this time my friend Cindy just arrived but went to get coffee.) Eric tried to help me cancel my preorder online but there was no option for that.  Then he led me to the AT&T sales rep working at Apple, and that guy was going to process my cancellation.  He said it would only take 5 to 10 minutes to cancel and 30 minutes for my upgrade to be available again.  I waited…and waited… then he said it would take 5 to 10 minutes again.  I didn’t want to be waiting forever and needed to meet with my friend.  They said I could come back after lunch and Gustavo the Apple sales rep at the front door said to find him when I got back so I won’t need to wait in line again.

By the time I got back to the Apple store, I was able to walk right in despite the line and check with the AT&T guy inside.  He gave me the thumbs up and said to go ahead!  I even saw Eric and Gustavo again, they both remembered me but I was paired up with another Apple sales rep to process my purchase.  She was processing it and found out my account was blocked and my upgrade wasn’t available!  WTF?!  She checked with the AT&T guy in the store and was told it might take awhile after the cancellation to remove the upgrade block and make it available again.  So I walk away with no phone but was told it could take up to 72 hours.  She told me to call *639# to get a text to let me know when  my upgrade is available.

I decided to call AT&T customer service myself and got through to Julie, a sales rep, right away.   She checked my account and saw my first preorder was cancelled but my 2nd preorder was still in process.  The AT&T sales rep at Apple never canceled it!  She thinks he saw that the first preorder was cancelled and assumed it was all done.  She checks with her manager and apparently I am unable to cancel my 2nd preorder.  WTF again!   At least I still have my activation fee waived but it will be October before I get the iphone 5.

I wish I had never preordered the phone 5 because I could have just waited 30 minutes to get the phone at the Apple store today.   So I have no new phone and now I have to wait 2 to 3 weeks!  I will have to give credit for the great customer service I had because all the AT&T and Apple sales reps were really friendly, but I am not happy that no one seems to have knowledge about cancellation processes.  FML!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Beer


Fall has arrived in DC, and I am loving this cooler weather.   I had some Sam Adam's Oktoberfest beer and I thought why not use it with a slow cooker pork loin.  This was another easy dish to make, but pretty much putting anything in a slow cooker makes it easy right?  I served this pork loin over pearl couscous (also called Israeli couscous).  Just spoon some sauce over the couscous and top with veggies and slices of pork loin.  This pork would also be great served over rice or mashed potatoes.  Leftovers would make awesome sandwiches too.  Enjoy! 

Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Beer

Ingredients
1.5 to 2 pounds marinated pork loin (I used Smithfield Garlic & Herb.)
16 ounce bottle beer (I used Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest.)
1 onion, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste


Directions

Combine beer, sliced onions and mushrooms in slow cooker.   Season with salt and pepper, if desired.


Place pork loin on top of vegetables.


Cook on low 8 to 10 hours.



Note:  To thicken sauce, remove pork and vegetables, and whisk in a couple tablespoons of cornstarch or flour directly in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add in a tablespoon of butter for a richer sauce.