Marinated fresh mozzarella.

I’m a self-proclaimed cheese addict.  I can’t imagine ever giving it up.  It’s beyond versatile and this weekend – it made a wonderful appetizer for a party that we hosted.  Super easy. Prepare ahead of time.  Leftovers?  Use them in salads, to top pasta, for a wonderful panini or just hit it straight up!

Ingredients:

1 lb of fresh mozzarella (I used bocconcini) – perfect size for appetizers
4 tbl of good quality olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced (use more if you like)
2 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of thyme
1 tsp of rosemary (I used fresh)
4 whole basil leaves torn up (garnish)
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tsp of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine and let those delicious flavors marinade for at least 24 hours.  Remove about 1 hour prior to serving to let the cheese come down to room temperature.  Garnish with fresh basil.  I used these on mini skewers with cherry tomatoes (both yellow and orange) with a basil leaf.

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Strawberry Basil Margaritas.

 

I adore hosting summer parties outside on our patio.  Small groups or large groups… Love having people over.  We fire up our firepit (that I built) and enjoy cocktails while the kids toast marshmallows and make s’mores.  One of my favorite things about summer, hands down!

This weekend we had a wonderful party to celebrate my daughter’s 11th birthday.  I wanted to prepare some drinks for my beverage containers ahead of time.  I adapted this recipe from theKitchn website.

This was to fill a 3 gallon beverage dispenser.

Ingredients:

4 (12 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate cans
12 c of fresh, water
15 strawberries, hulled and cut in half
18 basil leaves
1 bottle of 750 ml – Golden Tequilla

Into your beverage dispenser, empty all of the limeade cans into your dispenser followed by 10 cups of water  Then add the tequila.  Stir to blend.  Then add the strawberries and basil.  Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.  We had ice on the side, not to water the margaritas down throughout the night.  These were such a hit!  Both the men and women loved it.  I’ll be making this cocktail throughout the summer.

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Marinated aspargus.

I rarely take shortcuts but this is one I always do for a party and it is a time saver & a great appetizer.  How can you go wrong, right?

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs of fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed (bottoms)
1 container of a good quality Italian dressing

Directions:

Place the asparagus in a ziploc and pour the entire bottle of dressing over top.  Seal and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.  Remove and plate.  So good, unbelievably easy.  I always plate with other things, olives, tomatoes – I also served my marinated mozzarella skewers with this on the side.

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Crumbs Cupcakes.

My kids, along with me, have never really been a huge fan of cake.  Cupcakes we love!  I think it’s the smaller package that makes it more appealing.  In honor of my daughter’s 11th birthday, she asked for these fabulous cupcakes to celebrate.  This is the actual Crumbs cupcake recipe – we’re huge fans!

This recipe makes 6 giant cupcakes.  I made regular sized cupcakes (this recipe made about 26 of them).  I’ve halved the icing recipe as the original makes entirely too much and I hate wasting it.

Cake ingredients:

3/4 lb of unsalted butter, room temperature
2.5 c of sugar
5 eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp of almond extract
3 c of flour (unbleached all-purpose is what I used)
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c of buttermilk (I used low fat)

Frosting:

1/2 lb of butter
8 oz of cream cheese (I did use low fat)
1 lb of powdered sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs, vanilla and almond extract.

Mix flour, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl and then add to the butter mixture.

Add the buttermilk and mix until just incorporated.  Avoid over mixing.

Line your muffin pan with cups and fill each cup to the top with batter.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let the cool completely.

Directions for Frosting:

Cream together butter and cream cheese (both must be at room temperature).  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar.  Combine well.  Ice completely cooled cupcakes and decorate.

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Drunken lemonade.

Another wonderful cocktail to prepare ahead of time in your beverage dispenser is this yummy concoction.  I used a 4 gallon dispenser for this recipe.  Refreshing and perfect for an evening party or barbecue.

Ingredients:

4 containers of frozen lemonade
10 c water
4 c of vodka
2 lemons, sliced for garnish

Directions:

In your beverage dispenser, add all 4 frozen lemonade containers.  Add the water & vodka and stir until combined.  Then add the lemon slices to the top (they will float).  We served ice on the side so the cocktails wouldn’t get watered down.

Feel free to use more or less vodka in this recipe, depending on your preference.  You can also garnish with fresh berries, mint, basil, rosemary etc.

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Curried ginger chicken in the crock pot.

This recipe has simply come from necessity.  Tonight my daughter has a show at school and today was filled with running tons of errands for a rather large gathering we’re hosting Saturday evening.  This dish is quite aromatic.

For the chicken dish ~ Ingredients:

1/2 c of tomato sauce
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1.5 tbl of curry powder
2 tbl of freshly grated ginger
1-2 tsp of cumin (I added more but I just love it)
3/4 c of water
1 onion, medium sized, diced
Chicken breast – I was using tenders so I did 10 total (you can use breasts – 4 to 6 would work well)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper

Directions:

In your crock pot on high (to cook in 4 hours) or low (6-8 hour cooking time) – add the first 6 ingredients. Whisk to combine.  Then add the onions to the mixture.  Combine.  Top with your chicken, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook.

For the sauce:
1 c of Chobani non fat plain yogurt
Juice from one lime
3 cloves of garlic
3/4 c of fresh mint leaves
1/4 tsp of cayenne
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Blend together with your hand immersion blender or regular blender.  Place a dollop over the chicken dish and serve.  Garnish with mint leaves.

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Raspberry Balsamic Coulis.

Today I purchased a large container of fresh raspberries and I instantly thought of making this to top pancakes, yogurt or ice cream.  I adore the bright, vibrant red color with the complexity of the spices that I added.  This makes eating the rainbow even more fun for kids & adults alike.  So easy to make, stores beautifully in the refrigerator.  Definitely a recipe to try.

Ingredients:

3.5 c of fresh raspberries
2.5 tbl of raw honey but you can use regular honey as well
1 tbl of a good quality, aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp of nutmeg

Directions:

Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and combine.  This should take about 1 minute.  Then with a fine mesh strainer over top of a mixing bowl, pour the mixture into the strainer.  Take the back of a spoon and start pressing the mixture through the strainer.  You will need to keep stirring the seeds to allow the liquid to pass through.  What remains is a gorgeous ruby-colored sauce that you can top anything from your favorite pancakes/waffles, chicken, pork, yogurt to pretty much any dessert.  Very versatile sauce :)  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

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Lemon whipped cream.

Perfectly light and wonderful on my fruit shish kabobs tonight.  Would also be a lovely pairing with a lemon or fruit pie.  So many options…

Ingredients:

1 c of whipping cream
2 tbl of confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp of lemon extract
Zest from one lemon

Directions:

In your stand mixer, with the whisk attached, pour in the whipping cream and beat.  I typically beat this for about 1 minutes then add the sugar and lemon zest and extract.  Beat on medium to high until it takes on a whipped cream consistency.  Serve immediately.

 

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Mother’s Day Giveaway Winner Announced!!!!!!!

And the winner is:

Lisa Born Hennon

Lisa, Please email me at [email protected] within the next 48 hours to claim your adorable prize.
Thanks everyone for participating.  I’m already thinking of my next fun giveaway so stay tuned.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

 

********************************************************************************************************************

Mother’s Day is just a few short days away & I teamed up with my friend Gina from A Touch of Whimsy to do a sweet mom’s day giveaway just for you!  I’ve been a faithful & loyal customer of Gina’s since she started her business.  She is definitely one of my favorite on-line businesses that I love to shop at.  I’ve not only used her products myself for many years, I’ve given many items as gifts to family, friends and to our wonderful teachers.  She has been gracious enough to give me a lovely acrylic recipe card box for the giveaway that she will customize for the lucky winner.

Mother’s Day is just a few short days away & I teamed up with my friend Gina from A Touch of Whimsy to do a sweet mom’s day giveaway just for you!  I’ve been a faithful & loyal customer of Gina’s since she started her business.  She is definitely one of my favorite on-line businesses that I love to shop at.  I’ve not only used her products myself for many years, I’ve given many items as gifts to family, friends and to our wonderful teachers.  She has been gracious enough to give me a lovely acrylic recipe card box for the giveaway that she will customize for the lucky winner.

So how do you enter to win?
Be a fan of Knead to Cook on Facebook.  Pretty simple :)

Details?  Fine Print?
The lucky winner will be chosen by random.org on Sunday evening, Mother’s Day :) and announced at 9 pm EST.  I will announce the winner’s name and they will have 48 hours to get back to me so that I can provide them with further instructions on ordering etc. with Gina @  A Touch of Whimsy.  If I don’t hear from the announced winner within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and announced Tuesday, 15 May 2012 at 9 pm EST.

I’m so excited & thankful to Gina for graciously helping Knead to Cook celebrate Mom’s Day 2012!

Please pop by and check out all of Gina’s fabulous items at:

http://atouchofwhimsyshoppe.com/

And her like her at her Facebook Fan Page:

https://www.facebook.com/atouchofwhimsy?ref=ts

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Double Chocolate Chobani Muffins.

Another rainy day here and I have teacher’s gifts on my mind.  This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and I wanted to thank our awesome teachers with a sweet treat.  Chocolate immediately came to mind and from there… these sweet little treats were created.

Ingredients:

1 c of all purpose flour
1/2 c of good quality dark cocoa powder (I used Wilbur)
2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
3/4 c of sugar
1 c of non fat Chobani plain yogurt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 c of canola oil
1/2 c of dark chocolate chips (you can add more or less depending on your taste)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your muffin pan (I used a mini muffin pan) with non stick floured baking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, sift you flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Then add sugar and mix to combine.  In your stand mixer, paddle attached, add yogurt, eggs, vanilla and oil.  Combine.  Then add the dry ingredients to the wet. Combine, avoid over-mixing.  Then fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Using a small scoop (I use a melon baller) add batter to the muffin tins.  Fill 3/4 of the way allowing room for the muffin to grow.  I baked mini muffins for 18-20 minutes.  I inserted  a toothpick to ensure the muffins were done baking.  Some chocolate from the chips may be on the toothpick but as long as the batter isn’t present, they are done.

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