When Greg and I were young and first married and he would always bring home flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day. Then the kids came along, and they were the ones to get the treats. Some years later we started going out for a nice dinner, and that’s pretty much our Valentine’s Day tradition now.
Another tradition that I will keep this year is making my Valentines a sweet treat. These Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting are a delicious and easy treat. They start with a doctored up cake mix, and then I top them off with one of my favorite frosting recipes. Everyone always loves these and I may even treat myself to one!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 1 pkg. (18.25-oz.) red velvet cake mix
- 1 pkg. (3.4-oz.) vanilla instant pudding mix
- 1 c. sour cream, room temperature
- ½ c. water
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- 3 lg. eggs
- 1 c. miniature semisweet chocolate chips, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place cupcake paper liners in cupcake pan, set aside.
- Place cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Stop machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase speed of mixer to medium and beat for 2 more minutes until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips if you are using them. Spoon batter into pan ¾ full. (Batter will be thick. You'll have enough to make 22 to 24 cupcakes.)
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cupcakes spring back with lightly pressed with finger. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely. Frost with completely cooled.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8-oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 sticks butter, room temperature
- 3-oz. white chocolate
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2½ to 3 c. powdered sugar
- Microwave chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Do not overheat!! If it is almost melted with just a few solid pieces you can stir continuously for the pieces to melt.
- Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until fluffy and completely blended.
- Slowly beat in melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. If frosting is too thick you can use heavy whipping cream, adding 1 tbsp. at a time, to reach spreading consistency.
- Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.
Cranberries are finally available! I have been looking forward to this for months now. Cranberries are a seasonal treat that I enjoy. I try to freeze a few bags when they are in season, but apparently, I forgot to do that last year.
I always say that my best recipes were passed to me by friends and family! This family gem is no different. Cranberry Bread with Cranberry Butter is one of my favorites. It’s delicious warm out of the oven, but my favorite way to have it myself is lightly toasted and served warm with this flavorful butter.
With many planning for Christmas already, this bread makes a thoughtful and lovely gift. It’s also wonderful to take to parties and gatherings during the holiday season.
Aunt Sara's Cranberry Bread with Cranberry Butter
- ¾ c. orange juice
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- ¾ c. sugar
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 c. chopped fresh cranberries
- ½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 c. fresh cranberries
- 1 c. sugar
- ½ c. butter
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- For the bread: Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour a 4 x 8-inch loaf pan and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together orange juice, egg, and oil. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until moist. Fold in the cranberries and nuts. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Serve with Cranberry Butter.
- For the butter: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the sugar and cranberries until chopped well. Add butter and lemon juice and pulse just enough to mix well.
Several months ago, while visiting my mom, I attended Wednesday night church with her. One of her good friends, Inell, had taken an Earthquake cake and was kind enough to share the recipe with me. However, months later when I wanted to make the cake I could not find it. This has happened to me more than once! In all honesty, it’s probably in the bottom of a purse somewhere, but for now, I took to the web.
This Earthquake Cake is super moist, extremely easy and crazy delicious! Inell’s cake and the one I made used a chocolate cake mix, however, while searching the web I found several variations including red velvet and pumpkin. I love the coconut, but it is totally optional and works well without it.
- 1 (15.25-oz.) box Chocolate cake mix (I used German chocolate)
- 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
- ½ c. butter, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 c. powdered sugar
- ½ c. flaked coconut
- 1 c. chopped pecans, lightly toasted
- 1½ c. chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi-sweet)
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle pecans in the bottom of the dish, set aside.
- Prepare the cake mix as directed on the package. Pour the batter evenly over the pecans, do not stir.
- Using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter until mixed well. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Fold in coconut.
- Drop coconut mixture by spoonfuls randomly over the batter. Using a butter knife, lightly swirl through the batter.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cake.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake come out clean.
- Cool to room temperature then serve.
In searching for easy recipes, I have decided I am a hoarder, a cookbook hoarder that is! I wish I would have counted the cookbooks I have in this house, but I have already taken a load to Goodwill.
I have always been a sucker for a cookbook. I tend to pick them up on trips, at flea markets, at Goodwill, and from anyone selling them for a cause. I should never be at a loss for what to cook!
Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin is a treasure that I found while cleaning out! This recipe has an excellent flavor and requires very few ingredients, very little preparation, and very little clean-up. With just five ingredients and one pan, you will have dinner on the table in no time flat!
A package of pork tenderloin typically comes with two small tenderloin strips, not to be confused with a pork loin. I always pick up a few packages for the freezer when I find them on sale. They are versatile and you can find several pork tenderloin recipes on NJSD. I cook tenderloins to around 145°F to 150°F and they come out fork-tender every time.
Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1.5-lb. pour tenderloin, trimmed
- 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375° F. In an ovenproof skillet, heat the butter and honey over medium heat until melted. Dry the tenderloin with paper towels and sprinkle all sides with Cajun seasoning and black pepper. Brown each side of the tenderloin in the honey butter. Remove from the eye and lower the heat before returning the pan to the heat if the honey begins to burn.
- Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat reaches between 145°F and 150°F with a meat thermometer.
- Remove from the oven and cover with foil for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Slice tenderloin on a diagonal and serve.
I have a question for the ladies out there. Do you ever take your purse and dump it out? Dump every little coin, paperclip, hair tie and piece of trash out of it? Then pick through the contents, get rid of those things that are cluttering it up and placing your necessities neatly back inside your purse.
With the painter almost finished here at our house I have been thinking about what I have that is really necessary and what can be considered clutter. It’s as if I have “dumped” it out and I am starting over. Just thinking about the purge makes me feel invigorated. Imagine if you will, how much better our lives would be if we applied “dumping the unnecessary” to ourselves. How much better would we feel to get rid of the negative thoughts that are cluttering our minds every day?
These muffins are wonderfully moist and delicious. The finishing touches are not necessary, but I love the added crunch on top. I promised easy recipes, and that is still my goal. This week’s recipe is easy, but I’m not sure how many of you will have almond paste lying around. These muffins are well worth the trip to the grocery store though. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks. One that is well worn with plenty of vanilla splashes and creased pages. Almond Poppy Seed Muffins is from Marcy Goldman’s The New Best of Better Baking.com. You may add one teaspoon of lemon extract and a little lemon juice for a fantastic lemon poppy seed muffins.
Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
- 1 c. sugar
- 4-oz. almond paste, minced
- ½ c. finely ground almonds
- ½ c. (4-oz.) unsalted butter
- ¼ c. canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. sour cream
- ⅓ c. milk
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2¾ c. all-purpose flour
- 2½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
- FINISHING TOUCHES
- Slivered almonds
- Coarse Sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the sugar and almond paste together well, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the ground almonds, butter, and oil and blend well. Fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds and blend, scraping the bottom of the bowl occasionally to ensure nothing gets stuck in the well of the mixing bowl. If the mixture seems too loose, add a touch more flour. It should be the consistency of thick cake batter.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Top each muffin with some slivered almonds and sugar. Place the muffin cups on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake about 30 to 35 minutes, until the muffins are nicely browned and spring back when lightly touched. Let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.