Thursday, June 13, 2013

Greek Yogurt Parfaits

These greek yogurt parfaits are a big hit in my home! My kids, who aren't normally yogurt eaters, can't seem to get enough! With the addition of fresh fruit with strawberry and blueberry preserves, how could they NOT love them? What's great about these, is that kids have a whole lot of fun making their own parfaits. I like to lay out some chopped fruit for them, along with the yogurt, preserves, and granola, and let them assemble it on their own. They have a blast doing it and it makes them feel like little chefs! :)


plain greek yogurt(I like the Fage Brand)
granola(I like the Organic Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola by Nature's Path)
1 10 ounce jar of strawberry preserves
1 10 ounce jar of blueberry preserves
an assortment of chopped fruit
1 lemon

Take some strawberry preserves(I like to start with half of a jar), and place it in a small mixing bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix well and repeat with your blueberry preserves. Set aside.

Assemble your parfaits. Start with a dollop of yogurt, some strawberry preserves, some chopped fruit, then finish with some granola. Repeat steps(except this time use some blueberry preserves). Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Watermelon and Pomegranate Slushy Drink

Summer and sunshine calls for summer recipes!! I have so many ideas churning in my head that it's kind of overwhelming me! I mean, I can barely hear the voices in my head, anymore!

I had a ton of leftover watermelon the other day, and as I sat there drinking some pomegranate juice, I had the idea of putting the two together, to make a drink. And since watermelon is made up of mainly water, I thought about making watermelon ice cubes to make a delicious and refreshing drink! The addition of fresh mint make this drink not only refreshing, but beautiful as well!

Yum to pomegranate, right?!? This super fruit is packed with antioxidants and in some studies, have been proven to protect against diabetes and heart disease!

For the watermelon ice cubes:

4 cups of chopped watermelon
2 Tbsp of sugar

To make the drink:

7 watermelon ice cubes
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of pomegranate juice
2 sprigs of fresh mint
A splash of lemon juice

Make your watermelon ice cubes and place them in an ice tray. Put them in the freezer and allow them to set overnight. The following day, place 7 watermelon ice cubes, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and Stevia powder(if using), into your blender and pulse until smooth. Add more pomegranate juice as needed, to get your motor running. Stop the motor and give it a little stir. Then proceed to add in your mint leaves and give it a few pulses. Don't overdo this, because you want to be able to see specks of green mint throughout your slushy. Repeat steps for another 8 ounce drink!

Note: This drink will begin to separate the longer it sits, so make sure to pour it into a glass and serve immediately! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Oven Baked Spare Ribs

Are you salivating, yet??? This picture pretty much speaks for itself. I'm no BBQ expert but all I know is that these ribs are tender and they just fall off the bone! I finally figured out that slow roasting it at a low temperature, is what really does the trick! I like to start my ribs off on the outside gas grill. I've realized that doing so, gives the ribs a nice crust...almost like giving them a good sear on the outside, before preparing them for slow roasting. This recipe is a must try for your next BBQ or family gathering!!


3 pound rack of baby back ribs, cleaned with membrane removed
black pepper
garlic powder
my homemade BBQ sauce(
olive oil

You will also need:

2-3 onions, sliced into thick onion rings
Baking sheet lined with foil

Line some foil on a baking sheet to make clean up easy. Then, take some thick slices of onion and place them in the middle of the baking sheet. It will act like a "bed" for your ribs, plus you'll end up with some caramelized onions too.

Wash and pat dry your baby back ribs. Remove the membrane(watch the video below on how to do this). Coat both sides of your ribs with some olive oil. Add some salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika to both sides. Be generous with the paprika.

Cook your ribs on an outside burner, using indirect heat at 350 degrees, for 1 hour. This will give your ribs a nice looking crust and prepare them for their slow roast. Remove and place on baking sheet.

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees or 110 degrees celsius.

Put some BBQ sauce on the bone side of your ribs and then transfer them to your foil lined baking sheet. Next, with the meat side up, sauce them HEAVY with some BBQ sauce. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 4 1/2 hours. After 4 1/2 hours, REMOVE THE FOIL, drain the liquid from the baking sheet, and place it into a small saucepan on medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, just until the sauce thickens. Put the thickened sauce back on top of the ribs and continue to cook UNCOVERED for 1 more hour. Wait for it to cool down slightly before slicing.

Notes: If you use a bigger rack of baby back ribs(or St. Louis style), they will take longer to cook. You can try baking your ribs at a higher temp to reduce oven time as well. Use good judgement and allow yourself some extra time! :)

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Summer is quickly approaching, which means more BBQ's, right?? I had the sudden craving for some spare ribs which also prompted me to come up with my own BBQ sauce. I AM SO HAPPY, I DID! I will never again, go back to store bought! My version is kid friendly so I don't put any spicy seasoning in it, at all, but if you like spicy(like I do), then I would highly recommend throwing in some chili powder/flakes, cayenne, Sriracha sauce, or even some chopped jalapenos into the mix! You are probably going to read through my list of ingredients and say to yourself, "HEY LADY, WHERE IS THE WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE???" Sorry, folks but my recipe doesn't have it(nor need it), I think that my blend of hoisen sauce along with the concentrated tamarind pulp, give my BBQ sauce the perfect amount of tang and kick!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Roasted Chicken on Steamed Buns w/Hoisen Sauce

Every once in a while, I just don't have the time to put a lavish meal together for my hungry, little army. And on those days, I head over to Costco or Fred Meyer's and purchase their whole, slow roasted chicken, and then I'll serve it with a side of steamed veggies. More often than not, I will usually have leftover chicken that's been tucked away in the fridge and forgotten, only to be found a week later. Woopsy daisy, I guess in the garbage, it goes!! NOT ANY LONGER! I've recently come up with my new go-to recipe for leftover chicken! THEY TASTE AMAZING and my kids absolutely love them!! They call them..."the yummy puffs!" Lol! If you're familiar with Peking duck on steamed buns(pancakes)with a sweet hoisen sauce, then you'll love this one cause the only difference here, is that I use chicken!! A MUST TRY RECIPE!

For the chicken you will need:

leftover slow roasted chicken, hand shredded
salt, sugar, onion powder, black pepper, and fish sauce to taste
chopped garlic
some chicken broth or chicken stock
olive oil

For the hoisen sauce:

Hoisen sauce(recommended Koon Chun brand)
a splash of sesame oil
brown sugar to taste

For the fried ginger:

one whole knob of ginger, peeled then sliced julienne
salt, sugar, fish sauce, black pepper to taste
olive oil

You will also need some plain, frozen buns(re-steamed)and then sliced open like a hotdog bun

For garnish:

Some green onions(white parts only), sliced julienne

On medium high heat, add in some olive oil into your hot pan. Next, add in your ginger slices and stir for a few seconds. Add in a little sugar, salt, black pepper, and fish sauce to taste. Fry until crispy. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl with your shredded chicken, add a little bit of salt, sugar, black pepper, onion powder and fish sauce. Next, add just enough chicken stock to re-moisten your chicken. Taste check. Don't make it too salty though, because you will get most of the flavor from your hoisen sauce! On medium high heat, add some olive oil and throw in your garlic. Stir fry it a little bit, and then add in your chicken. Heat it through and taste check once more. Remove and set aside.

Using the same pan, add in your hoisen sauce. Next, add a splash of sesame oil, but don't overdo it. Then, add in some brown sugar to taste. Finally, move your pan over to your stove, and on medium low heat, stir your hoisen sauce paste, just until all the brown sugar dissolves. Remove and place into a small, serving dish.

And that's all folks!! All that's left is steaming up the buns! This is a fun dish to make cause then all of  your guests can assemble their own mini sandwiches, as they please!!

Notes: You may replace fish sauce with soy sauce if you're not a fan. The type of hoisen sauce really does matter in this case. I highly recommend the Koon Chun brand. If you're super lazy, then you probably don't even need to add any additional flavorings to it. Other brands are a lot saltier, and just don't taste as good! Be careful NOT to over season your chicken! You will get a ton of flavor from your hoisen sauce. Also it's best to slice your buns while they are cold. Remove your frozen buns from the freezer, wait 10 minutes and then slice them. If you slice it after you've steamed them, they become difficult to cut because they are so soft.

Watch my video below to get a better idea!! :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

How to make perfect Italian meringue buttercream

If someone were to ask me, which was my favorite frosting in the WORLD...I would hands down, choose a non dairy whipped cream frosting! It's light, airy, and not too sweet! But the problem with that is, if you plan on doing more detailed work, you would need a good buttercream frosting to hold it's shape better. American buttercream is waaaay too sweet for my own taste, but this Italian meringue buttercream recipe is AMAZING! Not too sweet but silky and smooth, and also pipes really well! I hope you guys enjoy this recipe because it's definitely a favorite of mine!

If any of you are interested in the basket weave cake design that I used in the photos above, please look up my "how to make a basket weave cake" blog post! I used this Italian meringue buttercream recipe, to pipe out the design on the cake!


Ingredients for sugar syrup:
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water

Ingredients for the meringue:
5 extra large room temperature egg whites
1/4 cup of sugar
3 1/2 sticks of softened butter(I use 2 sticks of unsalted and 1 1/2 sticks of salted)
1 tsp of lemon juice extract POWDER(can be found on
1 tsp of vanilla extract(optional)

Additional items needed:
Stand mixer and candy thermometer

Make the sugar syrup by boiling your water with your sugar until it reaches 245. I use a small pot and set it over medium heat. Don't forget to place your candy thermometer in there. As it cooks, begin making your meringue.

Beat your egg whites in a stand mixer on HIGH until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue to beat until medium to stiff peaks. Turn off mixer if your sugar syrup is not ready yet.

With your mixer on HIGH, slowly pour in your hot sugar syrup in a steady stream. Continue to beat for 10-12 minutes, or until your mixing bowl is cool to the touch. Add in 2 sticks of butter first(a Tablespoon at a time) and then add in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice extract powder. Add in the rest of your butter and beat until fluffy. Add in 1 tsp of vanilla extract(optional).

If you add in your butter before your mixing bowl is cool to the touch, your buttercream will look like a soupy mess! But don't fret my friends! Just keep beating on HIGH as you add in your butter, and it will all come back together in the end, I PROMISE! :)

Be sure to watch my video below on how to make the perfect Italian meringue buttercream! :)

How to make a basket weave cake

I decided to do a fun tutorial to celebrate Easter. Wouldn't you love to receive this pretty cake on Easter...or even just because?? I WOULD!! It's very difficult for me to try to explain in words, how to do the design...but I've attached a video below on how to achieve the look! Thanks for stopping by!!


You will need:
A cake with a good crumb coat
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of buttercream, medium consistency(plus additional if making flowers)
A cake board that fits underneath your cake2
Piping bags
A few couplers and rings
A flower nail
Parchment squares
Glue stick

Tips and templates:
Basket weave design: #21 by Wilton
Rope border: #18 by Wilton

To make roses, you need the rose template, tip #12 and #104 by Wilton. Also a piping bag filled with stiff royal icing fitted with a coupler and ring.

To make daffodils, you need the daffodil template, tip #3 and #104 by Wilton, and some cornstarch. Also piping bag filled with medium consistency royal icing or buttercream, fitted with coupler and ring.

To make violets you need the violet template with tip #59. May use buttercream or royal icing. If I use buttercream, I pipe directly onto the cake. If you use royal icing, you may wait for it to harden, and then place the flower on the cake. Use yellow frosting or royal icing and with tip #1, add two center dots.

To make apple blossoms you need the apple blossom template with tip #101. May use buttercream or royal icing. Use tip #1 with yellow frosting to pipe center dot.

To make primroses you need the primrose template and tip #104. Use buttercream or royal icing. Use tip #3 or tip #14 in yellow frosting, to pipe the center dot or star.

To make leaves use green frosting of your choice, using tip #352.

You only need to use the parchment squares on the flower nail if you plan on doing your flowers ahead of time and need time for them to set. Place finished flowers on a baking tray to harden and then place them on the cake when ready to assemble. In the video below, I actually piped most of the flowers directly onto the cake and used the templates only as a demonstration. I did, however, used royal icing to pipe the roses and daffodils, waited for them to dry, and then placed them on the cake.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mini fruit tarts

Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen, preparing for a Valentines Day dessert that'll just get devoured in MINUTES?? NOT I!! Look no further!! Flakey crust?? GOOD. Vanilla pastry cream?? GOOD. Fresh fruit. GOOD. Need I say more??

Ingredients for the crust:
1/2 cup of all purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp more
1/4 cup of pecans
2 pinches of salt
1 1/2 Tbsp of sugar(I used brown sugar in the video cause I ran out of regular sugar)
1/2 stick(4 Tbsp) of cold, cubed butter
1-2 tsp of cold, ice water

For the filling:
1 1/4 cup of whole milk(divided)
3 large egg yolks(reserve the egg whites for the royal icing)
7 Tbsp of sugar(divided)
2 Tbsp of cornstarch
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste(or half of a scraped vanilla bean pod or half a tsp of vanilla extract)
4 ounces of softened cream cheese

For the topping:
Fresh fruit of your choice

For the glaze:
1/4 cup of apricot jelly
1 Tbsp of water

For the chocolate hearts:
1/2 bag of cocoa flavored candy melts

For the royal icing:
3 large egg whites
about 5 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
some water

Additional items needed:
2-3 mini tart pans(something with a removable bottom or a springform pan)
dried beans or pie weights
2 disposable piping bags
Wilton tip #1 or #3
Silpat or parchment paper

To make the crust, place your flour, pecans, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until your pecans are finely ground. Add in your cold butter, and pulse some more until the mixture resembles corn meal. With the motor still running, add in your ice cold water, until the mixture comes together, and start to form a ball. Start off with 1 tsp of water and then add more if you need to. Turn out your dough onto a piece of saran wrap, flatten it out into a disc, and then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Remove your dough from the fridge and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Place the dough into your mini tart pans and press into an even layer of the pan and also up along the sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Place your pans on a baking sheet and line the crust with foil. Fill them with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and dried beans and continue to bake until golden brown, about 8 more minutes. Transfer onto a wire rack to let them cool completely.

Next, make the glaze. Place your apricot jelly and water into a small saucepan and cook over medium low heat. Once your jelly has melted down(about 10-15 minutes), strain the mixture and set aside for later use.

To make the filling, whisk together your egg yolks, 3/4 cup of milk, 3 Tbsp of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch. Set aside. Next in a small saucepan, add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, 4 Tbsp of sugar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste. Bring this mixture to a simmer over medium heat. While whisking, take your hot milk and pour a little bit into your egg yolk mixture(this is called tempering). Keep whisking and slowly start adding in small dribbles of the hot milk, until half of it is mixed in. Now, you may start adding in steady streams until everything is mixed in. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture becomes thick(it should resemble the texture of yogurt). Remove pan from heat and whisk in your softened cream cheese. If you did not use vanilla bean paste, this is where you may add some vanilla extract. Place filling into cooled crusts and put them into the fridge while you work on your chocolate hearts. You may also pour the cream cheese/pastry cream into a bowl, place saran wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the heart shaped chocolate hearts: Follow the directions on the packaging and melt your candy melts in the microwave. Stir and then place it into a disposable piping bag. With a pair of scissors, snip a tiny bit off, and then pipe a heart onto your silpat or parchment paper that has been placed on a baking sheet. Fill the heart with more chocolate and smooth it out using a toothpick. Give the pan a few whacks on the counter to release any air bubbles that may have formed. Refrigerate until set.

How to make the royal icing: Place your egg whites into your stand mixer and beat on medium low until frothy. About 2 minutes. Add in some powdered sugar in batches until all mixed in. Add in your vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowls a few times to remove any large lumps. Continue to beat until smooth. Add in some water if it's too thick or more powdered sugar if it's too thin. You want to be able to pipe some out for writing. Place Wilton tip #1 or #3 into a disposable piping bag and put some royal icing in it. Twist and secure tightly.

Remove your chocolate hearts from the fridge and write a sweet message on them. Place them back into the fridge to set.

Arrange your fruit on the pastry cream, and using a pastry brush, brush on some glaze, then top off with your chocolate heart. Serve immediately! :)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Candy Bar Cake


If you have a history of high blood pressure or if diabetes runs in the family, please advise your family physician before attempting to BAKE or EAT this cake.

The chocolate buttercream in this cake is great but like most buttercreams it's just a little too sweet in my opinion. Next time I make this cake, I 'm going to take the suggestion of a friend and use softened chocolate ice cream instead! Sounds yum, right?!? But oh man, don't even get me started on that dulce de leche layer!! It is TO DIE FOR and I can see myself just scarfing down a whole bowl of that stuff!! YUM AND YUM!!

For the cake:

1 (10.75 ounce) frozen pound cake
5 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 Tbsp of milk
1 tsp of lemon powder extract
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 cup of salted roasted peanuts
2 (13.4 ounce) cans of dulce de leche

For the chocolate coating:

12 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cubed

*To make the "squiggle" on top of the cake you will need:

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp of unsalted butter, room temp

Optional: cake board

Assemble the cake:
Trim 1/4 inch off of the short ends of the pound cake, then trim the domed top to make it flat. Slice the cake in half horizontally to make two equal sized triangles.

Microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring until melted. Beat your butter until smooth and then slowly add in your powdered sugar, lemon juice powder, and milk. Beat until smooth, scraping the bowl at least once. Beat in your melted chocolate. Add more milk if needed, to make the frosting spreadable.

Lay the cake on your cake board(if using), and place it on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread some of the frosting on one short end of each cake and press together firmly to form a long rectangle.

Spread the remaining layer of your chocolate buttercream onto your cake, making it at least 1 inch thick. Smooth the tops and sides with an offset spatula. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes to an hour.

Mix the peanuts and dulce de leche in a bowl.

Remove the cake from the freezer. Spread an even layer of the peanut mixture over the chocolate buttercream and freeze again for another 30 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate coating by microwaving the chocolate and butter in 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Remove the cake from the freezer and spread the chocolate over and around the cake. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top and sides of the cake. Dip the spatula in hot water, and wipe off excess, and smooth out chocolate until smooth. Freeze for 5 minutes or just until firm.

Melt 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips with 3 tablespoons of butter in microwave. Stir until smooth. Remove cake from freezer and pour chocolate mixture in a thin line on top of the cake. Smooth out slightly. Starting at the short end of the cake, dip the edge of an offset spatula into the chocolate at an angle and gently pull up, repeating along the top of the cake to create a wave pattern. Chill for 15 minutes in fridge before serving!

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pad Thai

1 package of dry rice noodles(preferably size M)divided
1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined(also marinated with 2 Tbsp of the FINISHED pad thai sauce)divided
6 cloves of chopped garlic, divided
2 Tbsp of ground chili paste mixed with 1/2 tsp of paprika(if you like it spicier, add more chili powder, or you can omit all the spicy flavors and sub with more paprika for color), divided
4 eggs, divided
bean sprouts
peanut oil
sesame oil
some warm water

For the pad thai sauce:
3/4 cup of palm sugar(or sugar)*
1/4 cup of tamarind concentrate plus 1 cup of warm water
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of warm water
1/2 cup of fish sauce
*Browse my blog on a quick post on how to melt palm sugar!

dry roasted, ground peanuts
chili powder or ground chili paste
fresh bean sprouts
lime wedges


Soak your dry rice noodles in some warm water for about 30 minutes or until al dente. You want them to be slightly softened and pliable but not too soft. Just check on them often to make sure you don't overdo it. Drain them completely and drizzle in some sesame oil. Toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine all of your ingredients for your pad thai sauce in a pot and cook on an outside burner. If you can't simmer this outside, then you might want to rethink making this dish! The aroma from the fish sauce simmering away, is bad enough to make you want to climb into your car, drive half way across town, and slap yo mama. No lie. You want to keep the ingredients at a medium boil, with the lid slightly cracked to relieve some steam. Boil for about thirty minutes, or until you see most of the liquid start to bubble away and has become slightly thickened. Make sure you stir often to prevent burning. Once done, set aside to cool down. The sauce will thicken upon standing. Set aside.

Take some pad thai sauce and mix it in with your shrimp. Next, with a wok on medium high heat, add in 2 cloves of chopped garlic and stir fry for a few seconds. Add in your shrimp and cook until almost cooked through. Remove and set aside.

Using the same wok, add in two handfuls of the dried noodles. Add in a little bit of warm water plus a ladle of pad thai sauce. Cook until noodles are done to your liking(making sure to stir constantly to prevent sticking). Add half of the shrimp back in and make a well in the center of the wok. Crack two eggs into the middle and wait a minute before mixing. Stir to combine the eggs with the noodles and shrimp. Once done, turn off heat and mix in some bean sprouts. Remove immediately, and place on a serving platter. Garnish with chives, dry roasted peanuts, chili powder or paste, fresh bean sprouts, and lime. Repeat process to make second batch.

Do not double recipe for pad thai sauce. You must make the sauce in separate batches if you want more sauce. Once cooked, you may store in airtight container and keep for future use. If you would like more "tang" then you can add more tamarind concentrate. I like to add a generous squeeze of lime at the end, so too much tamarind for me would be overkill. The sauce on it's own might taste strong, but once you stir fry it with the noodles it will be perfect! Remember, it should taste slightly sweet, slightly tangy, and slightly salty! I say, "divided" in the recipe because you must cook everything in batches. In the video below, I show you how to make one batch of pad thai.

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