Friday, March 16, 2012

Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

This is a big baking week for me. My older son also has his birthday this week, so we made cupcakes for his class too. Most of you probably know this by now, but I am not a huge fan of chocolate cake or frosting (or even chocolate ice cream). But my 6 year old just loves it, so chocolate cupcakes with frosting were the final choice.

For the cupcakes, I used my friend Emmy's recipe. She also has a fantastic chocolate ganache frosting recipe on there, but it is a little rich, even for my chocolate-loving 6 year old.

So I whipped up this really easy chocolate frosting. This recipe makes just enough for 24 cupcakes. If you like a lot of frosting or are making a layer cake, you might want to double it.


  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C. cocoa powder (you can add more if you want to make it even more chocolatey)
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter on medium speed until it is nice and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and milk and mix on medium-high speed until the frosting is nice and fluffy. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get everything combined.

I don't like to refrigerate this frosting - it changes the texture. So make it the night before or the day of. Store the cupcakes in a tightly sealed container and they will keep for a couple days.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Key Lime Pie

Yesterday was Pi Day (3/14) so I had to make a pie! My future sister-in-law Bethany mentioned key lime pie yesterday, so I decided to learn how to make it. I found many recipe variations, but the one thing they all had in common (besides key lime juice) was sweetened condensed milk. Many of the recipes used egg yolks to thicken the pie, but I found some recipes that substituted sour cream instead, so I decided to try that, and it worked great!


for the crust:

  • 1.5 C crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
for the pie:
  • 2 cans (14 oz. each) of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 C. key lime juice (can substitute regular lime juice, but the flavor and color will be a little different)
  • 1/2 C. sour cream
  • zest of 1 lime
To make the crust, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and sides of a pie plate. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes to set the crust.

Mix the condensed milk, lime juice, sour cream, and lime zest together. Pour into the prepared crust and bake at 350 for 10 minutes, to set the filling.

Cool the pie on a rack for 60 minutes, then refrigerate to chill completely before serving. Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quick and Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

March is birthday month in our house so I am making lots of cakes and cupcakes to share. First up, cupcakes for my younger son's class.

For the cupcakes, I used the recipe for white cake on the King Arthur cake flour box.

I am not a fan of most frosting. Most of my friends and family are used to me scraping off the icing from a store-bought cake - I just don't care for the icky sweet taste. And I dislike all of the ingredients in the store-bought frostings (did you know they still have trans fat in them?).

But I don't mind this buttery, less sweet frosting. I also don't put much frosting on each cupcake, so for me, this recipe makes just enough for 24 cupcakes.


  • 1 C. unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 or 3 C. powdered sugar (depending on your taste)
  • splash of milk (I don't measure but it's probably not more than 1 Tbsp.)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it is fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat at medium speed until combined. You might need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer running, add enough milk so that the frosting is the right consistency. (If you add too much liquid, you can always add a little more sugar to stiffen up the frosting.) Add the vanilla and salt and beat at medium-high speed until the frosting is fluffy. It will just look right. 

You can refrigerate the frosting until ready to use, but allow time for it to come to room temperature before frosting your cakes.

Once frosted, your cupcakes should keep for several days in a sealed container. I do not like the taste or texture of refrigerated cakes so I keep them on the counter.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cilantro Chutney and Mango-Cucumber Raita

A few weeks ago, my sister Karen and I decided to make some Indian food.

Karen made this Chicken Tikka Masala with rice. It was delicious but very spicy, so if you try it, beware.

Karen also made this Rajma, which is a spicy vegetarian chili. (We like spicy in our family.)

We collaborated on the Naan, which is very easy to make but takes a lot of time.

After getting some tips from my friend and fabulous Indian food cook Prassu, I decided to make two condiments to go with our dinner: cilantro chutney, which provides a spicy, herbal kick, and a mango-cucumber raita, perfect for cooling down the heat.

Cilantro Chutney


  • 1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of mint, leaves only
  • 1 jalapeno, trimmed and quartered (remove ribs and/or seeds to decrease the spice level)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Chill until ready to serve.

Mango-Cucumber Raita

  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, diced
  • 2 C. diced mango (I use thawed frozen mango)
  • 1/2 C. plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste for seasoning. Chill until ready to serve.

Slow Roasted Chicken

Now that winter is coming to an end, I'll have to stop making this deliciously easy roasted chicken since it requires leaving the oven on for much of the day. But once you try it, you will never go back to any other method. If you're not home during the week, this makes a perfect Sunday dinner.


  • 1 large chicken
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Mix the salt, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub the chicken inside and out with the spice mixture. Put the onions in the large cavity. Roast in a 250 degree oven for at least 5 hours. After the chicken has been roasting about 2 hours, baste it with any accumulated juices. Continue basting every 30-60 minutes until the chicken is done.