Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: September 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Piña Colada Cupcakes

Since I started making tropical drink inspired cakes and cupcakes, my mom has been asking for me to make piña colada cupcakes.  So when we went for a visit recently, I brought along these cupcakes.

At first I wasn’t overly thrilled about these cupcakes, since I have no love of coconut and prefer to avoid it.  But the coconut flavor was so beautifully subtle in these cupcakes (and in the frosting) that even I enjoyed a few! 

That said, these are a real crowd pleaser, especially if you are serving these to guests that aren’t huge on coconut.  But if you are a coconut lover, I recommend adding a teaspoon of coconut extract to the cake batter and frosting and/or adding some shredded coconut to the cake batter.

Recipe Notes:
*I used 1 (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple, drained with the juice reserved for the pineapple and juice in the recipe.  I had both pineapple and juice leftover, which I froze for a later use

Piña Colada Cupcakes
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

1 box yellow cake mix
1 (4ish oz) box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup rum
¼ cup reserved pineapple juice (see recipe note)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup crushed pineapple (see recipe note)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Quinoa with Black Beans

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I was doing a recipe swap with the ladies over at  My Slow Cooker Shredded Beef was posted on their site and now I have the pleasure of whipping up Quinoa with Black Beans here!

This was actually my first time ever using quinoa!  In this recipe, the quinoa was nutritious and delicious when paired up with the spicy black beans and tomatoes.  It makes a wonderful vegetarian main dish, but also works well as a side to your favorite Mexican dishes!

Recipe Notes:
*I found the flavor to be pleasantly spicy.  But if you don’t like spice, simply omit the crushed red pepper flakes.
*It took almost double the time in the recipe for my quinoa to finally absorb all of the liquid, but I’m not sure why.  Any advice, quinoa experts?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Fall 2013 Update:
This year I used 1 1/2 cups Jalapenos from my garden, all ribs and seeds included (they weren't very hot at all).  I also added 2 Habenero peppers for heat and it was delicious!  I'd estimate it to be a medium-hot this year.  Spicy enough for adults to enjoy, yet not too spicy for my children (ages 5 & 3)

This summer I finally planted and maintained a successful garden!  I planted my tomato plants and herbs in pots though, because I didn’t want to have to figure out how to chase off the multitude of rabbits that live in our yard.

Along with my garden success, I was able to check off another 30x30 recipe!  I made my mom’s homemade salsa using tomatoes and green peppers from my garden! *happy dance*

Below is the recipe as I made it.  I would characterize it as a mild salsa, though those who are more sensitive to spice would probably call it a medium.  I’ve also added a chart with some ways to make a hotter salsa.

Recipe Notes:
Mild Salsa
Hot Salsa
Extra Hot
½ cup
1 ½ cups
1 ½ cups plus 1-2 habaneros
Chile Powder
1 tbsp
2 tbsp
2 tbsp
1 tbsp
2 tbsp
2 tbsp

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef

Long ago, in the very early days of this blog, I posted a recipe for Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef.  It’s a fantastic recipe (with an awful photo!)  So when Dalicia from contacted me suggested a recipe swap, I was thrilled to bring this one out of the archives and give this recipe its due!

To grab the updated recipe, swing by!  And stay tuned for the delicious recipe I got to whip up!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Salted Caramel Vanilla Pumpkin Latte

Okay, okay, okay.  We all know I looooove a latte.

I love a latte even more when it mimics a coffee shop latte and when it has protein powder, because then it counts as breakfast AND it’s delicious.

This latte is no exception.  It’s brimming with all of my favorite fall flavors and bursting with vanilla (OMGosh – I am so in love with vanilla this fall!)  I can’t get enough!

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Latte
Adapted from Inside BruCrew Life

1 ½ cups fat free milk
1 tbsp caramel ice cream topping
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch of each cinnamon, ginger, cloves
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
3 tbsp vanilla protein powder (optional)
Whipped topping

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dried Pineapple Flowers

Dried Pineapple Flowers
Method from Annie’s Eats

To make dried pineapple flowers, I used the method found here.  In addition to that tutorial, here are a few tips and tricks I picked up along the way:

1.      Some people recommend using an under-ripe pineapple since they are easier to cut.  However, you will sacrifice flavor and color by using an under-ripe pineapple.
2.    Instead, use a ripe pineapple but cut it with a very sharp, serrated knife
3.    You know a pineapple is ripe when it smells like pineapple (before you cut into it).  Under-ripe pineapples will have very little scent.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad

After I made my own crockpot chickpeas last week, I was super excited to make something fantanstic from those beautiful, plump chickpeas!

This salad made a delicious and satisfying lunch with all of those sweet roasted vegetables and fiber-rich chickpeas.  And it also made a mom-approved side dish to a meal of grilled hotdogs the next night!

Recipe Notes:
*If corn is out of season, simply used lightly thawed frozen corn in place of fresh.  Likewise, you can also use dried herbs in about half of the amounts listed for fresh.

Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 large Beefsteak Tomato, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 poblano pepper, seeded and cut in bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in bite-sized pieces
4 ears of corn, kernels cut off, cobs discarded
¼ white onion (about ¼ cup), chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
3 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt
Black pepper
3 cups chickpeas (2 cans, drained and rinsed)
4 oz reduced fat feta cheese crumbles
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Broccoli with Bacon & Chives

Broccoli is my 4 year old’s favorite vegetable (shocking, isn’t it?)

Since I make broccoli so frequently, I’m always looking for a ways to spice it up, but still keep it kid friendly.  In this recipe, the boring steamed broccoli gets all dressed up with bacon and chives, but still has a healthy dose of parmesan for the kids!

Broccoli with Bacon & Chives

1 medium crown of broccoli, cut in florets
1 ½ slices thick cut bacon, cooked, cut and crumbled
1 small bunch of chives, cut
2-3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Monday, September 17, 2012

Double Chocolate Banana Zucchini Muffins (or Bread)

Whenever my husband has to fly a cross country (I’ve mentioned he’s a pilot, right?)  I like to make sure that he has something delicious and homemade to fuel him through long flights.

Most recently I made Double Chocolate Banana Zucchini Bread and had enough ingredients on hand to whip up a batch of muffins for my boys.  I like to bake chocolaty muffins for my boys.  If they don’t look chocolaty, they pick out the chocolate chips and throw the rest.  If there aren’t any chocolate chips, they flat out refuse to eat them.  And that’s why I love recipes like this!

Most of the chocolatiness comes from the cocoa powder (side note: I totally love dark cocoa powder because it gives such a wonderfully chocolaty look to baked goods!)  But (of course) I couldn’t resist adding chocolate chips.  Since there was a lot of sugar in the original recipe, I simply cut the sugar by half & replaced it with the chocolate chips – problem solved!

Double Chocolate Banana Zucchini Muffins (or Bread)

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thing 1 & Thing 2 Cupcakes

When my friend’s daughter recently celebrated her 3rd birthday, she had a Dr. Seuss themed party.  Specifically, she requested Thing 1 & Thing 2 Cupcakes with swirls!

Here’s what you’ll need to make these cupcakes:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cooking Chickpeas in the Crockpot

Let’s start with this:  I never in a million zillion years thought that I would ever cook beans (other than for Ham & Bean Soup) for the purpose of simply having them on stock.  Nope I was a big time canned bean kind of girl.

But I was recently intrigued by the implied ease and cost saving of making my own.

I decided to start off with chickpeas, because I LOVE chickpeas!  

It was super easy to make the chickpeas in the crockpot.  Just throw them in & forget about them for 3 hours.  And it’s not much work to deal with them once they’re done cooking, either.

But here’s what truly astounded me.  The flavor and the size!  I mean look that the size difference between canned and home cooked chickpeas!  Amazing! 

In a side by side comparison, the homemade ones were also much more flavorful and I love that you can control the saltiness as well.

Recipe Notes:
*One can of chickpeas yields approximately 1 ½ cups of chickpeas.

Cooking Chickpeas in the Crockpot

1 lb (16 oz) dry chickpeas (about 2 cups)
6 ¾ cups water
1 tsp sea salt

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Cheddar & Greek Yogurt

I’ve long wanted to make a homemade tomato basil soup.  But until this year, my gardening skills were, well…lacking.

But this year, my latent gardening talent finally showed itself.  That or the hot weather made it nearly impossible to fail.  Whichever.

My potted tomato plants were abundant enough for some fresh salsa (watch for that coming up) and my basil flourished and it was finally time to make some tomato soup!

I ended up choosing this recipe because of the Greek yogurt.  My main beef with tomato soups is the lack of substance, which is perhaps why it pairs so well with a grilled cheese sandwich.  In this case, I wanted a filling, stand alone tomato soup and I knew that the protein from the Greek yogurt would instantly elevate the tomato soup from lowly side dish to satisfying main dish.

Overall, this made a beautifully smooth, silky soup.  I roasted a few extra tomatoes and froze them with basil, so I can enjoy this soup into the cold (tomato-less) winter months!

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Cheddar & Greek Yogurt
Inspired by More Fruit Please

5 medium tomatoes, cut in large chunks (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt & pepper
1 small onion, diced (about ½ cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 ½ tsp)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained (or 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
½ cup fresh basil, chopped and lightly packed
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Plain Greek Yogurt, to top

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal {for two} SRC

It’s Secret Recipe Club reveal day!!  This month, I had the pleasure of whipping up something delicious from Julie’s blog, Little Bit of Everything.  Julie is a 50-something Midwesterner (Midwesterners UNITE!!)  She started up her blog as a way of organizing her many recipes from cookbooks, clippings, and recipe groups.

Secret Recipe Club

This month, I had quite a time deciding what to make.  Actually no, scratch that.  I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  I wanted to make the über delicious sounding Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops.  Don’t they sound heavenly?  I had all of the ingredients in my pantry and had bought fresh chops that were chillin’ in the fridge when my plans came to a screeching halt.

I got my bottom braces on.  Whoa Nelly.  It was soup and soft foods for this girly, so yummy pork chops got the boot (and my chops went in the freezer for another day).

Lucky for me, Julie’s blog is true to its name and there is a little bit of everything to be found, including a nice, soft, baked oatmeal.  And since the weather has turned a bit cool (well, when it wants to), and fall-like, the yummy fall pumpkin and spice flavors were a welcome treat to my sore mouth.

What’s that you say, I’m usually hating on oatmeal?  So very right you are.  But I have discovered baked oatmeal and guess what????  That mushy gaggy oatmeal texture I despise?  It completely disappears in this baked version!  Yay!  This breakfast kept me full and satisfied all morning for under 350 calories.  And that’s a winner in my book!

Recipe Notes
*I used 1 tablespoon of honey when I made this and I thought it was perfect!  My husband, on the other hand, felt it was too bland and added sugar to his, so add more or less honey to suit your tastes.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal {for two}

¾ cup plus 2 tbsp old fashioned oats
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
Dash of salt (about 1/8 tsp)
¾ cup lowfat milk
1 large egg
1-2 tbsp honey, to taste
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp dark chocolate chips, divided
1 tbsp chopped walnuts

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Oreo Truffle Cupcakes

Back before my little dude turned two, we took a week long trip and visited my in-laws.  Since it was so close to Little Dude’s Birthday, he got an extra pre-birthday party at their house.  To celebrate, we made an Oreo Cake (the falling apart, doomed, but still delicious, precursor to the cake I made on his actual birthday).  But since we were expecting about 35 guests, I decided to make cupcakes as well.  And since my cake theme was Oreo, so were my cupcakes!

The cupcakes receive rave reviews and guests loved biting into the cupcakes to a cookie truffle surprise!

As a side note, it is crazy hard decorating and photographing food away from home!  Kudos to those who do so on a regular basis!

Oreo Truffle Cupcakes
Adapted from Love from theOven

Oreo Truffles
1 package of oreo cookies, finely crushed
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened

1 white cake, mixed according to packaging

Friday, September 7, 2012

Baked Mozzarella Balls

Mozzarella sticks have long been one of my favorite appetizers.  In fact, on one of my very first dates in high school, I was too nervous to choose a meal, so all I ordered was a basket of mozzarella sticks.  Really.

While I still love those mozzarella sticks at a restaurant…ooey…gooey…crispy!  Ah!   I just simply can’t bring myself to fry them at home.  Something about actually seeing and smelling all of that oil gives me the heeby jeebies.

So of course, it then came time to bake some!  And oh my gosh!  These were so delicious!  They’d be super fab on their own, but paired with marinara or tomato soup they are Ah-mazing!

Recipe Notes:
*Beware of the time on these!  You must freeze the cheese overnight for this recipe to be a success!

Baked Mozzarella Balls
Recipe from Peas & Crayons

8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut in chunks
¼ cup flour
1-2 egg whites, whisked
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
½ tsp Italian seasoning (or a dash each basil, oregano, marjoram, & garlic powder)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spinach Salad with Brie Croutons

Remember that yummy brie bowl?  Let’s say that you made that for only 2 people.  Yeah…that’s a lot of brie, even if it is dinner…after your dryer broke mid laundry-thon and you just spent 3 creeptastic hours in an icky, stinky laundromat!  Ok, rant over.  Where was I?

So what to do with the leftover brie bowl?  Make some fabulous croutons and throw them on a salad, of course!  I enjoyed these all by myself, but imagine how impressed guests would be!  It’s fancy!

Spinach Salad with Brie Croutons
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe


2-3 cups of spinach
1 hardboiled egg, sliced
Leftover caramelized onions, mushrooms, & bacon

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Brie Bowl

Were you starting to think that I'd forgotten about my 30x30?  Yeah, me too.  The last year of my twenties is half over and I sure have a lot of my list left!  I hope to get cracking on that once the weather turns cooler in the fall, because, wow!  There are a lot of baked good on that list!

Typically brie is served with sweet accompaniments, but I've had savory brie in my head since my mom mentioned it months ago.  I’m so glad I tried this!  This made a such delicious appetizer, we could not stop eating it!  

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Brie Bowl
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

1 (8 oz) wheel of brie, cold
3 slices bacon, cut in pieces
1 onion, diced
4 oz mushrooms, diced
1 round loaf of bread (about 1 lb)
2 tbsp butter
½ tsp garlic powder

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Have you seen the chocolate peanut butter that hit the stores recently?  Shut Up!

My boys are all about Nutella, but I never quite got on that bandwagon.  But chocolate peanut butter?  Sign me up!

It’s still a bit sweet to spread on apples (sad).  But by the spoonful or (especially) in a pancake: ah-mazing!

Recipe Notes:
*You read it right: there is no sugar in this recipe!  The chocolate peanut butter and bananas add plenty of sweetness to these pancakes!
*Mixing the bananas and peanut butter together helps the peanut butter to incorporate into the pancake batter more evenly.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

1 large banana, mashed
1/3 cup dark chocolate peanut butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups lowfat buttermilk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt



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