Monday, April 14, 2014

Springtime Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Lemon Buttercream Frosting

                                                          (Baby Shower cupcakes)
                                               (Easter cupcakes)
Spring time is the perfect time for lemon desserts.  I admit I'm pretty lucky since I have a beautiful lemon tree next door which provides the best, juiciest lemons ever! 
A few weeks ago I started working on this recipe for a Baby Shower we were catering for a friend.  I needed a Lemon Cupcake recipe with a fruit topping.  I found a recipe online with the combination of ingredients I wanted to use for this cupcake.  I tried it once as the recipe directed, but was not happy with the consistency of the cake (not enough lemon flavor and not moist enough for me, and the frosting was a bit too sweet).
Faye and I discussed how to modify the recipe a few times and I did a few more trial runs and in the end these lemon cupcakes turned out absolutely delicious! They're moist with the wonderful fragrance and flavor of lemon, and once you top them off with the Blackberry Frosting they're just perfect!
   I have now made these cupcakes for an Easter brunch and also for the Baby Shower and each time they were delicious.   I hope you give my Springtime Lemon Cupcake with Blackberry Lemon Buttercream recipe a try for Easter. Your family & guests will love it!
Happy Cooking.

(Shower :Springtime Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream, Chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Filling and Peanut Butter Buttercream frosting)

Spring Time Lemon Cupcake with Blackberry Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from All Recipes
Makes 16 cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
½ cup half and half 
Zest of 1 large lemon (I use the a fine grater)
Juice of 1 large lemon

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups powder sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup seedless blackberry jam
16 blackberries for decorating

Prep Work:
Set oven at 350 degrees.  
Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners
Place 1 cup of granulated sugar and the lemon zest in a small bowl. Using your finger tips, squeeze the zest and sugar together to release the oils from the zest into the sugar. The sugar will become very fragrant. Set aside.

-In a large bowl, mix flour with baking powder and salt with whisk. Set aside.
-Beat ½ cup of butter with the 1 cup of lemon sugar for about 3 minutes, till light and fluffy. Add Vegetable oil and mix until combined.
-Add eggs, egg yolk and vanilla. Beat till well incorporated.
-Mix in the flour mixture just until incorporated.
-Combine the half and half with the lemon juice in a small bowl. Gradually add this to your batter just until combined. Do not overbeat.
-Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans.
-Bake for 16-18 minutes, remove from oven and place the pans on cooling racks. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Beat softened butter and vanilla.  Gradually add powdered sugar till creamy.   Finally add the blackberry jam and lemon juice and mix until well combined and fluffy.

Frost each cupcake and add a blackberry on top.

                         (Easter baskets filled will Springtime Lemon cupcakes)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Birthday Cake M&M Funfetti Cookies

They're here! Birthday Cake M&M's!! With the popularity of "Birthday Cake" flavored desserts and candy, it was only a matter of time...
And with that said, it was only a matter of time before these Birthday Cake M&M Funfetti Cookies happened...
If you've never had Birthday Cake M&M's, they're basically a chocolate M&M with a hint of vanilla flavor. They are sweeter than the basic chocolate M&M so I wanted to add dark chocolate to help balance out the sweetness. I also wanted to highlight the "birthday cake" factor and what screams birthday cake more than sprinkles?
This is an easy, fun and delicious cookie and it doesn't have to be your birthday to enjoy them! I hope you give them a try!!

Birthday Cake M&M Funfetti Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Adapted from here

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Birthday Cake Flavored M&M's
2 cups Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chips)
1/3 cup sprinkles + more for garnish


Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

Cream butter and both sugars in the bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (approx. 2 minutes).

Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix at low speed until combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing at low speed just until combined.

Add the M&M's, chocolate chips and sprinkles and pulse a few times just until combined.

Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes.

After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350f and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll into 2" balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets.

Press down each ball of dough slightly and carefully add some sprinkles to the tops, pressing the sprinkles slightly to make them adhere to the dough.

Bake approximately 12-15 minutes (rotating sheets halfway through the baking process) or until edges are golden brown.

Remove baking sheets from oven. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes then remove the cookies to cooling racks to cool.

Store leftovers tightly covered in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

Monday, April 7, 2014


If you're ever in the Oceanside California, area there is an amazing bakery called Petite Madeline Bakery and Bistro (

They make absolutely delicious desserts, cakes and amazing chocolate croissants . Yummy!!! Well, one of my favorite things (there are many favorites there, trust me) is the Oatmeal cookies he makes.  But this is not your ordinary oatmeal cookie, he covers them with a lemon icing which is absolute delicious. 
Well, a few weeks ago I was craving these cookies and the bakery was closed so I thought I would try to make something similar to it. I took a different spin and made a Maple Walnut Oatmeal Cookie with lemon icing.   Let’s just say they were a HIT!.  These cookies have amazing lemon flavor and the combination with the maple and walnuts is so delicious that honestly it is hard to describe. 
I have added this cookie to my favorites list!  
Also a tip, if you’re ever in a specialty food store and they have Maple Sugar makes sure you pick it up!  I didn’t even know it existed!  But now it is a must in my pantry.   I hope you give these cookies a try.  Absolutely delicious! 

4 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup of sweet cream butter (the one with salt), softened
1 cup light brown sugar packed
1/3 white sugar
3 tablespoon Maple sugar  (if you cannot find maple sugar, add 3 tablespoon white sugar)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons of water
½ cup walnuts finely chopped
½ cup walnuts chopped

1 cup powder sugar
Zest of one lemon
Juice of ½ lemons

¼ teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

 In a large mixing bowl, mix together oats, flour, salt and baking soda till all combined

     In a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, cream butter till nice and   creamy.   Add brown sugar, white sugar and maple sugar. Mix in till combinded.

     Add maple sugar and egg and vanilla and 3 tablespoon of water, and mix till all combined.

     Now gradually add in the Oat/Flour mixture and ½ cup finally chopped walnuts. Beat till all mixed together.  Using a wooden spoon , stir in ½ chopped walnuts


      Using a medium size ice cream scoop, drop dough rounds on to a cookie sheet. Set dough balls  at least 2 each apart .

     Bake for 11-13 minutes.

     Remove from oven, wait 1 minute before transferring on to cooling rack.

     While cookies are cooling, make icing. Combing powder sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir with fork.  If its too thick, add a little more juice from the other half.  But the icing needs to be on thick side.  


     Ice each cookie by adding about 1-2 teaspoons to the middle of  each cookie, spread using a   butter knife.  Let the icicle set overnight if possible





        Enjoy with a large glass of milk or nice cup of coffee or tea J

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chubby Hubby Bars

Aside from the catchy name, these bars are insanely delicious. If you love the combination of sweet & salty, this recipe is for you. Imagine a basic blondie with chocolate chips and chopped pretzels, topped with a homemade peanut butter caramel slathered with a rich dark chocolate ganache then garnished with mini pretzels. If that isn't cookie bar heaven, then I don't know what is!

I made these bars for Elizabeth from Food Ramblings for this month's Leftovers Club exchange. Although they require a little extra work than the standard cookie bar, I wanted to make something extra special for Elizabeth for all of the hard work she puts into hosting the Leftovers Club every month. I hope she enjoyed eating them half as much as I enjoyed making them! 
If you're interested in joining the Leftovers Club, I encourage you to sign up at Food Ramblings. It's so much fun to send & receive yummy baked goods in the mail every month!

Chubby Hubby Bars
Makes 24 bars
Serves 24 (or one chubby hubby)

** Make Peanut Butter Caramel a day ahead to save time
** This recipe requires chilling to allow each layer to set so plan ahead


Peanut Butter Caramel
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon corn syrup
pinch of salt

Bar Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown or golden brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips (I used Ghiradelli Bittersweet  Chips)
1 1/2 cups min pretzels coarsely chopped

Ganache Ingredients:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chips)

Make the Peanut Butter Caramel:

Place the granulated sugar and water in a medium size heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring. Continue to boil over medium heat until the mixture turns a light amber color. Be sure to watch carefully to prevent burning. Carefully whisk in the heavy cream and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute or until the mixture turns the color of peanut butter.

Remove from heat and whisk in peanut butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the bars:

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9"x13" pan with non-stick foil (or spray regular foil with non-stick cooking spray).

Combine flour, baking powder, malted milk powder and salt in a medium size bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla at low speed until combined. Scrape down bottoms and sides of bowl. 

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pretzels.

Bake at 350f  for approximately 30 minutes or until edges are set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

When bars have cooled, spread the peanut butter caramel into an even layer over the top of the bars. Refrigerate until the caramel has set (approx. 1 hour). Tip: If the caramel has been refrigerated, place it in the microwave and heat in 30 second intervals (stirring between intervals) until spreadable.

When the caramel has set, make the chocolate ganache -

Place the chocolate chips in small bowl. Microwave the heavy cream until hot and steamy, approx. 1 minute. Pour over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for approx. 3 minutes. Stir until melted then spread over the peanut butter caramel.

Garnish with mini pretzels then allow the chocolate to set. Once chocolate has set, cut into bars and serve.

Store leftovers tightly covered in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Prep Blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Mom's Albondigas Soup

As promised, I am sharing another treasured family recipe;  My Mom's Albondigas Soup (or Meatball Soup). This soup has been a tradition in my family home since I was a baby. Mom cooks up a big pot at least once a month. I did a little research and found out that Albondigas Soup dates back to the sixth century. I guess the Spanish brought it over to Mexico, hmmmm… and I thought us Mexicans invented it!
    Well you’re in for a treat with my Mom's Albondigas Soup recipe which has been passed on through the generations originating with my Great-Grandmother. It has probably seen some improvement over the years, but honestly, in my book, it has just been perfected.    
I made this soup for our Freezer Meal Swap Group a few months ago and was immediately asked for the recipe. It is hearty and perfect on a cold day. My family usually serves it with warm, homemade tortillas. 
I hope you give the recipe a try and that it becomes a favorite in your home as well!

My Mom's Albondigas Soup
Makes 1 large Pot
Serves 6

 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium size tomatoes (chopped)
½ of medium yellow onion (chopped)
10 cups of hot water
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
3-4 tablespoons chicken bouillon
2 medium size zucchini (cut into 2” rounds)
3 carrots (cut into 1” slices)
3 stalks of Celery
2 springs of mint
1 cup of cilantro

Albondigas (Meatballs):
2 pounds ground beef 80/20 blend  (or for healthier version , use ground Turkey)
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 finely chopped garlic clove)
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
2 eggs
10 mint leaves finely chopped
½ of medium yellow onion (finely chopped)
½ of medium tomato (finely chopped)
½ cup white rice (NOT cooked and no minute rice)
1 tablespoon cilantro (finely chopped)
½ tablespoon dried oregano

Add oil, tomato, onion to a large soup pot.   Saute at medium heat for 5 minutes

Add 10 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil.
Add pepper, garlic powder, chicken bouillon.  Bring to a boil. Taste for salt ( if you need to, 
add another tablespoon of chicken bouillon).

Reduce heat to medium and let simmer. (Do not zucchini, carrot, celery, mint or cilantro yet)

Making the Albondigas:
Add ground beef and all of the other meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Using your hands, mix meats until all the ingredients are well combined.   (like meatloaf). But do not over mix.  

Make into ice cream scoop size balls. 

Bring heat back up to high on the soup.  Carefully drop the meatballs into the soup. Do not stir otherwise the meatballs will break.  Once the soup is at boiling point, stir only once. 

Add lid and reduce heat to medium/low. Cook for 30 minutes

After the 30 minutes, add the remaining vegetables and herbs.

Bring heat back up to medium high.  Cook for an additional 20 minute.  Turn stove off, serve hot.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Birthday Cake Oreo Cheesecake "Cupcakes"

 The very first word in the name of our Blog has special meaning to us. Yvonne and I both work in a fast paced industry, where every day means a new deadline and we are continually working a year or more "in the future". Sometimes, in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of life, we forget to LIVE. This is an important reminder for us all to slow it down. To appreciate every single second, whether it's spent stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the DMV, playing with your kids, snuggling on the couch with the one you love or baking a cake....
These Birthday Cake Oreo Cheesecakes Cupcakes are a fun reminder to


** I actually prefer to use my hand mixer for this recipe. It's very important that the cream cheese is softened and that the eggs are room temperature. I usually allow a few hours for the cream cheese to come to room temp.

** Plan ahead - the cream cheese needs several hours to soften. The cupcakes need to chill 8 hours or overnight before serving. This makes a great make ahead dessert! You can make both the cheesecakes and fresh whipped cream the night before you want to serve them!

Birthday Cake Oreo Cheesecake "Cupcakes"
Makes 21 "Cupcakes

1 package Birthday Cake Oreos
2 8ounce packages of Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
Rainbow Sprinkles for garnish
Fresh Whipped Cream for topping


Preheat oven to 325f

Line two 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners (I used white so the Oreos could be visible through the bottom). Remember this recipe yields approx. 21 cupcakes so you only need to line 21 cavities.

Place a whole Oreo in each of the bottoms of the lined muffin pans. 

Place the softened cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with your electric hand mixer set at medium speed until smooth. This should take about 30 seconds if your cream cheese is well softened.

Add the granulated sugar and vanilla extra and beat at medium speed until incorporated (about 20-25 seconds).

Add the eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed just until incorporated and scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.

Add the sour cream and mix just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Sprinkle the tops with sprinkles.

Place in the oven and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Check at the beginning of the bake time. The cheesecakes should look set and not jiggly but should not be puffy and cracking.

Remove from the oven and place the muffin pans on a wire cooling rack to cool. Remove the cheesecakes from the pans after about 15 minutes and place them on wire cooling racks to cool. Once the cheesecakes have cooled to room temperature, place them in a covered container and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight before serving.

To serve, garnish with fresh whipped cream and more sprinkles! Because life is better with sprinkles!!

Maybe even stick a birthday candle in just because!!