PB&J Cupcakes Recipe


Review copy provided. This post contains Amazon Associates links.

I love pop culture and baking, and when the two things are combined, it’s sure to capture my interest! So when I received an email about a new book called Geek Sweets: An Adventurer’s Guide to the World of Baking Wizardry, I was sold just by the title. The book has recipes for the fangirl in all of us, from Harry Potter to Minecraft; it also includes inspiration for geeky themed parties, with a section specifically for a “Walking Dead Finale Party”. Considering that I have made a Walking Dead cake and hosted a Spider-Man Halloween party, I feel like the author and I are true kindred spirits!

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at one of the recipes inside the book, and it’s just too perfect: PB&J Cupcakes! You see, Jai’s favorite food is PB&J, so every year on his birthday I make a spread of sandwiches. What could be more perfect for his birthday in March than a PB&J cupcake birthday cake?!

PB&J Cupcake

PB & J CUPCAKES

MAKES 22-25 CUPCAKES

Every serious adventurer knows the value of a PB & J stuffed into their Bag of Holding. After a long day of sweet-talking tavern patrons, fending off spells, and slugging goblins in the face, reaching into your bag and finding that sweet, sweet PB & J is the perfect end to your day. But what if that sandwich… was a cupcake? Now we’re talking. Short of using a transmogrification spell on your sandwich, the recipe below is just what you’re looking for.

I know what you’re thinking: “A cake mix!? That’s cheating! Someone tell the DM!” Settle down, adventurer, and keep reading. Below is a variation on a recipe very popular in internet baking circles, called ‘White Almond Sour Cream Cake’ (or ‘WASC’ to High Baking Wizards in the know). It bakes a cake that is consistent and sturdy, yet moist and light, making it ideal for stacked wedding cakes or anytime you need a trustworthy, foolproof recipe for a high-concept flight of baking fancy. It also takes well to added flavoring oils or mix-ins like nuts, citrus zests, and chocolate chips. This recipe has been a constant companion throughout my baking adventures, and I hope it serves you just as well.

Every adventurer should have their go-to ‘weapon of choice’ when it comes to frosting, and this buttercream recipe is it. Wield your piping bag with confidence – this versatile recipe will let you frost your way out of any situation. It can be easily flavored, colored, and piped in a variety of styles and shapes.

Quest Requirements:
Foolproof Vanilla Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ¼ cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stand or hand mixer
Cupcake pan(s)

Classic Buttercream recipe (with more vanilla for the PB&J Cupcakes)
1 ½ cups salted butter, softened
5 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
¼ cup milk
Stand or hand mixer
Piping bag
Star Piping tip

PB&J Cupcakes
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup jam, any flavor (I like raspberry best, but you do you, adventurer.)
Piping bag with large star tip
Cupcake liners (coordinate with the color of your jam! Blue for blueberry, pink for strawberry, etc.)

Skill Check: PB&J
“Why not just pipe the jam into the cupcake holes from a piping bag? Why use a spoon like some common cave-dwelling ghoul?” you ask. I’ll tell you why: jam is chunky. All sorts of big fruity bits to get in the way of your clever piping plans. Best use a spoon, adventurer.

Skill Check: Buttercream
Buttercream icing will eventually form a thin crust on its surface, so any sprinkles should be added immediately after frosting is piped onto the cupcake – otherwise they will just roll off the crusted surface. I recommend frosting no more than six cupcakes at a time before adding sprinkles, chocolate chips, coconut, etc.

Start your Quest, Adventurer!

Preheat oven to 350° F; line cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

Prepare the Foolproof Vanilla Cupcakes recipe:

Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, or to bowl of stand mixer, and mix until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on low speed until combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

(For adventurers who like to plan things ahead of time: cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to two months in airtight containers to decorate at a later date.)

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way to the top with a disher or a spoon. Bake 15-20 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Carefully remove from the cupcake pan and allow to come to room temperature.

Prepare the Classic Buttercream recipe with two tablespoons of vanilla flavoring:

Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about two minutes. Make sure butter is at room temperature before whipping. You can speed this process by unwrapping it and placing it on a plate in the microwave, then microwaving in 15 second bursts, rotating between each burst, until just softened.

Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, half a cup at a time, beating after each addition. Once all sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about five minutes. (Don’t skimp on the mixing! The longer you whip the frosting, the more air is incorporated and the fluffier and easier to pipe the resulting frosting.)

Add your two tablespoons of vanilla flavoring.

If you find the frosting is too thick, add milk, one tablespoon at a time, stopping when it reaches a smooth spreading consistency.

Make your PB&J sandwiches—er, cupcakes!

Add one quarter cup of the peanut butter to the buttercream and mix until combined. Add more peanut butter to taste if desired. Do not use crunchy peanut butter, as it will be more difficult to pipe from a piping bag.

When cupcakes are cooled, use a knife or a cupcake corer to remove a small amount of cake from the center of the cupcake. Feel free to nom immediately, or put in a ziplock bag in the freezer for future cake pops.

Using a spoon, fill holes in cupcakes with each cupcake’s chosen jam flavor. Frost cupcakes in a classic rosette with star tip:

(This cupcake frosting technique is common for a reason – it’s super easy! The ridges fall however they feel like falling and hide any imperfections, air bubbles, or required restarts.)

Starting at the outside edge of the cupcake and rotating at the wrist (not the elbow!), make two and a half rotations, making each one smaller to create a dome. Release pressure and pull up once you reach the center of the cupcake.

Top with three honey roasted peanuts – or a whole bunch if you like a lot of crunch!

White Chocolate Bourbon Vanilla Snowflake Fudge – Easy Holiday Recipe

White Chocolate Bourbon Vanilla Snowflake Fudge
Baking goodies & gift card provided. This post contains Amazon Associates links.

Are you totally pressed for time this holiday season, like me? A hectic schedule doesn’t mean that you have to give up on homemade holiday goodies. I’m here to tell you that Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk is your holiday sanity saver! With just four simple ingredients, you can make delicious fudge perfect for holiday parties or just enjoying at home by the fire! I love fudge, but I’ve never made it myself because I was a little intimidated by the process of using a candy thermometer and figured I’d need to try it on a day when I had a lot of time to spare. But as it turns out, you can easily make wonderful fudge with no thermometer!

White Chocolate Vanilla Bourbon Fudge

Ingredients:

14oz can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
18oz of white chocolate chips
2 tsp. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla
Cooking spray

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring constantly. Spritz a silicone snowflake mold such as this one with cooking spray – you want to be sure and coat all the crevices so that you’ll be able to remove the fudge; you can wipe away any excess with a rag.

Once the fudge mixture is completely smooth, pour it into the individual molds. I had a little bit of leftover mixture after filling the 6 snowflakes in my mold, so I poured the remainder into a small bowl lined with foil to make an extra piece of fudge.

Allow the fudge to cool at room temprature for at least 3 hours, or until completely firm. The snowflake mold I used is quite deep and makes large pieces of fudge, so it takes a while to harden. Remove the fudge by carefully inverting each snowflake to press the fudge out. If there is excess cooking spray on the fudge, you can carefully blot it with a coffee filter. Now your fudge is ready to be enjoyed!

Treat boxes
Decorating the treat boxes
Snowflake treat box

Protip: Pack a few of these into treat boxes as a last-minute gift!

I love how easy Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk made it to create tasty fudge – yum! I sense that a new holiday tradition has been born!

Pin Me To Make Later!

White Chocolate Bourbon Vanilla Snowflake Fudge

Holiday Road Punch Recipe

Holiday Road Punch
Sample provided.

The holiday season is upon us, which means that it’s time for festive food and drinks! I’m a big fan of special holiday beverages; I love drinking a hot chocolate while I gaze at Christmas lights, or enjoying some eggnog as I trim the tree. A good punch recipe is another holiday season staple – especially at parties – and I love trying creative new spins on an old classic, so I love this two-part recipe featuring Everclear! The first step is infusing a special liqueur, which you can then use in Holiday Road Punch, and/or bottle up the liqueur with a ribbon to give as a thoughtful hostess gift. I haven’t had Everclear in a long time, so I’m looking forward to trying some mixology with it!

Pomegranate Green Tea Liqueur

Pomegranate Green Tea Liqueur

Ingredients:

8 Pomegranate green tea bags
6 oz. Everclear®
7 oz. Filtered water
13 oz. White simple syrup

Directions:

Combine tea bags, Everclear® and water in a sealable container.
Steep 2 hours.
Remove tea bags and add simple syrup. Mix thoroughly.
Bottle and enjoy.

Holiday Road Punch

Holiday Road Punch

Ingredients:

15 oz. Pomegranate Green Tea Liqueur (Recipe above)
5 oz. Vodka
5 oz. White rum
10 oz. Lime juice
10 oz. Champagne

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except champagne in a pitcher or punch bowl.
Mix and chill in refrigerator 8 hours or more (overnight works best).
Just before serving, add chilled champagne and stir carefully.
Add ice, along with 10 lime wheels.
Serve in punch glasses, ice optional.
Garnish with lime wheel (also optional).

Riunite Ultimate Chili Challenge: Garbanzo Bean Chili Recipe

Riunite Ultimate Chili Challenge

Chili-making supplies provided!

Football season is upon us, which means tailgating and game day snacks. We typically think of beer as being the classic football drink, but if you’re not much of a beer drinker, you’ll be interested to know that wine can actually be a great game day option as well: Riunite Lambrusco is a light wine with fresh notes of strawberry and raspberry that pairs perfectly with spicy foods like chili. So to inspire home chefs, Riunite has launched its Ultimate Chili Challenge!

Now through September 20th, wine lovers are invited to create their own chili recipe that will pair perfectly with Riunite Lambrusco. The top 5 submissions in every region will be invited to attend a local chili cook-off, where the finalists will be selected and brought to the National Finals in San Digeo, CA. The final winning chili recipe will snag its creator an amazing grand prize trip to the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona!

To help inspire my own chili creation, I got a fun box in the mail from Riunite containing chili ingredients, a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco and an awesome chef’s hat with my name embroidered on it! I decided to create a simple chili recipe that would be perfect to make after a long day – after all, what could be better for a football fan after a tiring day than sitting down with a nice bowl of chili and a glass of Riunite Lambrusco to watch the game?

Jai loves garbanzo beans, and per his request, I made that the featured ingredient in my recipe:

Garbanzo Bean Chili Recipe

Garbanzo Bean Chili Recipe

Ingredients:

2 C white rice
4 C water
1 1/4 C Riunite Lambrusco
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 15oz can of garbanzo beans
1 14.5 oz can Del Monte California Diced Tomatoes
1/2 of a white onion
Handful of parsley
1 TBSP chopped garlic
1 drop of Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/2 TSP cumin

To taste:

Crushed red pepper
Outer Spice Spicy Seasoning

Directions:

1. Pour 1 cup of wine in a glass. Drink it while you cook the chili.

2. Add rice and water to rice cooker and start it cooking.

3. Pour olive oil in a medium pot to coat the bottom, then add remaining 1/4 cup of wine.

4. Chop the onion and add it to the pot with the beans; start cooking over a medium heat.

5. Chop the parsley and add it to the pot with the garlic, hot sauce and seasonings. Cover with a lid and cook until the chili begins to boil. Note: I went easy on the seasonings when I made mine, because I’d never used Louisiana Hot Sauce before and I wasn’t sure how spicy it would be. My chili turned out very mild, so feel free to be more heavy-handed if you’d like a hotter dish!

6. Serve chili over white rice and enjoy with your glass of Riunite Lambrusco!

Garbanzo Bean Chili

You have until September 20th to enter your own chili creation at RiuniteTailgate.com, so get your thinking cap on – if you submit a recipe let me know, I’d love to try it!

Egg White Scramble: Recipe

Egg White Scramble

Contest Corner Received Complimentary Samples to Write This Review!

I’m a big fan of scrambled eggs, because they’re quick, easy, and versatile. Over the weekend, I decided to whip a scramble using a carton of liquid egg whites that Jai had picked up. I usually add in a few “Extras” – whatever I have around – and since a jar of Dei Fratelli pasta sauce had shown up on my doorstep, I decided to add in a cup of that along with some carrots and seasonings!

Egg White Scramble

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp coconut oil (I used Tropical Traditions)
2 small carrots
1 cup Dei Fratelli Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce
1 and 1/4 cups liquid eggs whites
Salt & seasoning to taste (I used Zoës Kitchen)

Directions:

Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt over medium heat. While the pan warms up, peel, wash and chop the carrots, adding to the pan. Cover carrots with salt and seasoning as desired, and cook until browned. Add the pasta sauce, stir, then pour egg whites on top. Scramble the mixture until cooked thoroughly – you may wish to turn the heat up a notch after adding the eggs. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: 2 servings – 166 calories per serving.

Notes:

The serving size for this assumes that it is being prepared as a side dish for two people. The calorie count doesn’t include the salt or seasoning, as I just put a dash in and wasn’t sure how to measure caloric count for a trace amount of seasoning. These could easily be omitted, however. With the carrots, sauce and coconut oil, this scramble had quite a sweet flavor to it!

This dish would be great for using up leftover pasta sauce after making spaghetti – in fact, this dish is a great way to use up all kinds of leftovers. The more veggies you add, the more you could bulk this up as a dish without adding a lot of calories.

“Pin it to Win it” Contest: If you’re looking for more tomato sauce recipes and want a chance at winning prizes from Dei Fratelli, then click here to check out their Pinterest contest running through May 31st.

Oatmeal Banana Muffins: Recipe

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

Contest Corner Received Complimentary Samples to Write This Review!

Last year, I shared a recipe for Cocoa Coffee using Truvia Baking Blend. Now that we’re transitioning off Nutrisystem, I’ll be doing more baking again, so I was interested to try the Baking Blend in a muffin recipe as another way to streamline calories. I’ve spent the last week mulling over ideas for possible dessert/snack items I could bake ahead and freeze using what I have on hand. I liked the idea of a muffin, as it’s an easy, portable item good for brown bag lunches. I decided to modify a recipe I found on AllRecipes to better fit my dietary needs and what ingredients I had, and came up with these oatmeal-banana muffins:

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

Recipe adapted from “Easy Oatmeal Muffins” on AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup milk
1 banana
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
2 TBSP Truvia Baking Blend
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine oats and milk in a bowl and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Then add all remaining ingredients and blend together with a hand mixer until combined. Using a muffin pan with 12 liners, pour batter into each liner until it is two-thirds full. Place the pan into the oven and bake for around 30 minutes or until done.

Yield: 12 small muffins – 93 calories each

Notes:

This was quite a simple recipe. I made two batches this afternoon – the first one was cooked at 425 degrees per the recipe I was adapting, but the muffins got a little overdone. Baking at 325 worked better, however both times the muffins really stuck to the liners. This seems to be an issue I have with muffins – maybe because of the moist ingredients? Or perhaps I should be greasing the paper liners? If you have any suggestions I’m all ears!

Despite that issue, they taste really yummy! I couldn’t taste a discrenable difference using the Truvia versus normal sugar – I find that sugar substitutes usually work quite well in baked goods, and they sure save a lot of calories. I determined that each muffin should be around 93 calories based on the ingredients; some items in my kitchen weren’t labeled with caloric information, so I did a lot of Googling to get an idea of the caloric content. I think these will be a great pre-portioned snack for us…assuming that they last long enough to make it in our lunch pails. ;)

Closeup of one of the oatmeal banana muffins

Dinnertime Inspiration From Tandoor Chef

Tandoor Chef

I always love trying new, easy dinners, so when Tandoor Chef offered to send me coupons good for a few free meals, I naturally said yes. How could Super Coupon Girl turn such an offer down, after all? :) Tandoor Chef make delicious-looking frozen meals from Chicken Curry to Lamb Vindaloo along with yummy appetizers and even breads. Everything looks super yummy, and since their store locator listed my local Fred Meyer location as a retailer, I sent Jai to the store to pick up some food. Sadly, we soon discovered that our Fred Meyer doesn’t actually carry Tandoor Chef products at the moment! (I’m sure anyone who lives in a smaller town can relate to this – it can be hard to find products sometimes!) Luckily, the coupons have a longer expiration date so I’ll save them for my next coupon road trip. But until then, I’m not entirely out of luck – Tandoor Chef also shared some delicious recipes with me for Curry Cheese Balls, Palak Paneer and more. The recipes are in a PDF file which you can click here to download, print out and try!

Breakfast Ideas From Eight ‘O Clock Coffee!

Eight 'O Clock Coffee

Breakfast would not be breakfast without coffee. My morning does not start, in my mind, until the coffee hits my cup! And like a wine sommelier, our friends over at Eight O’ Clock coffee have suggestions on which coffees to pair with each of your favorite meals. They recently sent me a complimentary bag of their Dark Italian Roast, which they told me is a great match for things like pancakes and waffles, since the deep flavor balances out all the sweetness. This makes a lot of sense, and now that I think about it, it does seem like the coffee I order with breakfasts at restaurants is usually strong – through I don’t know if this is because they have a coffee sommelier, or because it’s just cheaper to brew. ;) I’ve been drinking the Dark Italian Roast all week, and I love it. Although I tend to be more of a “Flavored coffee” kind of girl, I love roasts like this because it’s strong, but smooth. The only reason I tend to stay away from really dark roasts is because they can sometimes be way too bitter. Not Eight O’ Clock Coffee though! And you better believe it went great with my Nutrisystem waffles!

They also shared tips on which roasts go best with other standard breakfast fare:

Oatmeal:
Try a French Vanilla or Hazelnut brew on the side. You can also do a half and half mix of each to make a Hazelnut-Vanilla blend whose sweetness should compliment the less-sweet oatmeal.

Meat lover’s breakfast: Whether you’re noshing on sausage and eggs or a bacon biscuit, try a medium roast like Eight O Clock Coffee’s “Original” roast. You can even use some of the coffee in your pot to make a gravy for ham – click here for Paula Deen’s recipe!

What’s your favorite coffee/breakfast combo?

Recipe: Gorton’s Fish Fillet Salad

A little-known fact about Jai is that he is a distant relative of people who created Gorton’s fishsticks. Jai’s great-great grandmother was a member of the Gorton family; and her husband, Jai’s great-great grandfather, was a relative of Kaiser Willhelm, so they have quite the interesting family tree!

Fishsticks Ahoy!

But I didn’t receive this cool Gorton’s spatula because I’m marrying into the family. ;) No, I actually received this because I’m part of The Gorton’s Crew, a review panel for bloggers! They sent me a fun pack of kitchen items as well as coupons for Gorton’s products. We picked up a few bags of Fish Sandwich Fillets and I set about creating a salad:

Fish Fillet Salad

Click on the image to view it full-size

Fish Fillet Salad

Ingredients:

1 Gorton’s Fish Sandwich Fillet
1 head Iceberg lettuce
Carrots
Red onion
Balsamic salad dressing

Preparation: Chop lettuce and mix in a large bowl with carrots and onion to taste. Cook fish fillet according to directions, cut into slices and place on top of salad. Cover with dressing and serve.

This made for a tasty little salad, and the fillets were an easy snack to serve when I had company over helping me paint this week. Each fillet clocks in at 150 calories, and will soon be included in Gorton’s 20 at 200 line, a collection of products under 200 calories.

For more yummy meal ideas, check out the Gorton’s Recipes section on their website. The socially-minded can also keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.