Homemade Pesto

When we say pesto most of us think of basil as the primary ingredient.  But pesto(s) can be made from a variety of herbs, vegetables and condiments; or combinations there of.  What is needed is a food processor–and chop, chop–you can be enjoying the flavors of summer all year long.  I include the making of pesto in my series on kitchen basics, because it is so easy, and so useful in a great number of ways.

Depending on what flavor you have on hand you can do any of the following with it:  spread it on grilled corn, toss with grilled veggies for extra flavor, spoon over a spreadable cheese and serve with crackers for an appetizer, use in place of sauce on pizza, stir some into eggs for a seasoned omelet, add a spoonful to soup for an extra flavor hit.   See how versatile it is?  I’m sure you can think of other uses, too.

It is so easy to make that I am giving the general directions first, followed by the ingredients list for four (4) different kinds.  Each one makes  about 2 cups of pesto.  I like to divide mine up into 1/2 – 1 cup amounts and store in the freezer, removing a small container of it as needed.  The flavor stays as fresh as the day you made it.

GENERAL DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.  Period!  Did I say Easy?   Divide up into small jars or plastic  containers, and use creatively.

BASIL

1.  BASIL PESTO

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

CILANTRO

2.  CILANTRO PESTO

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

ROSEMARY

3.  OLIVE PESTO

  • 1  7 0z. jar pitted kalamata olives, drained
  • 1  7 oz. jar pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •  3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

OREGANO

4.  MIXED HERBS PESTO

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or  1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, or 1  teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

SOURCE:   adapted from  Foods, Quick and Easy.

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Summer-strone-zpacho

A regional farmer’s market has opened nearby, and I couldn’t wait to go and browse all the stalls.  I just love looking at all the fresh produce, herbs, cheeses and baked goods.  My creative juices start to flow as I imagine what I could do with it all.   Everything was so tempting, that I had to exert great self-restraint, and therefore brought home mostly vegetables.

Using some of that bounty I put together this soup that bears some resemblance to Minestrone, except there are no beans, and instead of the usual ditalini I used Israeli couscous.  It is also a little like gazpacho except there are no peppers. It does contain cucumbers,  part of it gets pureed, and it can be enjoyed warm or cold.  Its a great summertime soup for a light lunch, or perhaps combined with a sandwich or salad for a light supper.  I’m not sure what to call it so let’s just say  —-  Summertime  Vegetable Soup.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Kirby cucumbers (3 med.size), peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • one 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 small jar basil or mixed herbs pesto

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the couscous until al dente, 8-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat.  Add the cucumbers and cook stirring occasionally.  As they soften and become translucent, add the chopped onion and continue cooking another 4-5 minutes.  Don’t let them become too browned.  Stir in the tomatoes, paprika and vegetable broth.

3.  Using an immersion blender,  regular blender or food processor,  puree this mixture.  You may need to work in batches.  Return to the pot and stir in the couscous and shredded zucchini.  For cold soup refrigerate at this point.

4.  To serve warm, return the soup mixture to the stove and reheat, so the new added ingredients become warmed through.

5.  Serve the soup drizzled with the herb pesto.****

 

P.S.  This soup tasted even better the next day after flavors had time to meld.

 

****Stay tuned this week for my recipes on making your own pesto(s).

Source:  a Carolyn Original

Blue Cheese Shortbread Cookies with Strawberry Jam

Blue  Cheese does not sit very high on my list of favorite foods;  in fact, honestly, its not on my list at all.  One day, however, I was browsing thru a magazine ( don’t remember which one), when I came across this recipe for Blue Cheese Cookies with Strawberry Jam.  The idea of a strong-flavored “savory” combined with a “sweet” intrigued me, and so I cut out the recipe thinking it would be good for a reception or cocktail party.  It has been simmering on the back burner of my mind for some time, waiting for the right opportunity.  Since this has been a week devoted to berry recipes, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out.

If you are entertaining and looking for something different to serve your guests, this just may be it.  The cookies are pretty, and with the addition of jam quite tasty, but I must admit I have not become a convert to blue cheese because of them.  However for folks who really like blue cheese, this is a unique way to enjoy it.

I will also tell you in advance that this recipe is not one you can whip up quickly, as there are several steps involved.  I got a total of 48 single cookies,  which when sandwiched together with the jam will make 24 cookies.  The recipe recommends a 2-inch cookie cutter  and that is what I used.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  •  2 cups crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 1/2 sticks  ( 3/4 cup ) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup strawberry preserves (at room temperature).

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine blue cheese and butter;  process until creamy.  Add flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt;  pulse until dough comes together.  Form dough into a ball;  flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut out shapes using a 2-inch flower-shaped cutter.  Cut out centers of half of the cookies with a small fluted cutter.  Place on prepared baking sheets, and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool on pans for 5 minutes.  Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.  Spread about 1 teaspoon preserves over flat side of each whole cookie.  Top each with flat side of cutout cookie.  Store in airtight containers.  Note:  I found that the cookies will stay crispier if you wait to fill them until shortly before serving.

   

A final note about these cookies:  They are not sweet as you would expect a “cookie” to be, so in that sense the name is deceiving.  Also the fancy shape leads you to expect a cookie.  If I make these again, I would cut them in a plain round shape or a square so they resemble a cracker, and then the flavor of blue cheese would not be a surprise.  Those who have tried them agree with me that they would be very nice on a buffet table with other finger foods, and where cocktails are being served.  Thanks to my primary “taste-tester” for that in-put.

Blueberry-Coconut-Macadamia Muffins

The month of July has been declared National July Belongs to Blueberries Month, and July 11 is National Blueberry Muffin Day.  So if you guessed that I made blueberry muffins today you’d be right.   Now I know you readers are getting and reading this post the next day, but that’s OK since the whole month is devoted to blueberries, and any day you have one of these little gems will be a good day.

Whenever I eat one of these muffins I feel like I’ve gone on vacation.  They remind me of the Caribbean with their hint of coconut, and I think of palm trees swaying and Hawaiian music when I taste the macadamia nuts.  I think you get the picture.   I’ve made them many times in the past and I keep coming back to them because they are so good.  They taste as good as a cupcake with less sugar, fat and calories and they fit right into my week devoted to berry recipes.   Let’s get started making them.

INGREDIENTS

Servings:  12 muffins

  • 1/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour, or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk ( no buttermilk?  Put 1 Tablespoon lemon juice in a 1-cup measure, add milk to make 3/4 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine coconut, 2 Tablespoons flour, 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 Tablespoons macadamia nuts in a small bowl.  Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon canola oil and stir with a fork to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl put 3/4 cup flour, the whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Whisk to combine.
  4. In another bowl put the 1/2 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 Tablespoon canola oil, egg and egg white, buttermilk, melted butter, and coconut or vanilla extract.  Whisk these together until well combined.
  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, stir just to moisten.  Stir in the blueberries and remaining nuts.
  6. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle with the reserved coconut topping and gently press into the batter.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

These muffins are wonderful served warm, but can be easily rewarmed in the microwave by wrapping in a paper towel and microwaving on High for 30-40 seconds.  They also freeze well.

    

SOURCE:  EatingWell.com

Raspberry Shortcakes

Raspberries are like little jewels;  beautiful in color, bursting with juiciness and sweet-tart on the tongue.  I just love them!  They are, however, very fragile and perishable.  So when you get some you had better have a plan for using them within a short period of time.  Whenever I pick raspberries I usually freeze most of them for later use, but save out a few to enjoy on cereal,  over ice-cream,  or in this case in a shortcake.

What drew me to this recipe is the fact that the berries are in the biscuits as well as in the  filling.  Heck, you can never have too much of a good thing can you?  But if you didn’t want to have a whole shortcake, the biscuit alone with a cup of tea or glass of lemonade is still great.

INGREDIENTS

Serves  8

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • sanding sugar  (optional)
  • whipped cream and berries for the filling

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in cream, buttermilk, and raspberries until  just combined.  Do not over mix.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Divide dough into eight ( 8) portions and shape into rounds.  Place 1 1/2 inches apart, on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using, and freeze for 15 minutes.
  3. Bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes.  Let cool completely on baking sheet placed on a wire rack.
I sampled one while it was still warm from the oven.  The texture is tender and flaky;  absolutely delicious!.
To serve, split biscuits in half, fill with whipped cream or whipped topping and raspberries.  I added a few blue berries, too for color.
     
SOURCE:  Everyday  Food.

No-Bake Fresh Strawberry Pie

In the area where I live many of the farms are still picking  strawberries, since the days have been very warm and sunny.  I didn’t want to miss out on having some native strawberries, but I also didn’t want to use my oven unless really necessary.  This recipe for a no-bake version of strawberry pie caught my attention for those reasons.  The combination of juicy spring berries piled atop a layer of creamy filling in a chocolate crust.  What’s not to like here?

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ready-made chocolate crumb  9 inch pie crust (such as Oreo)
  • 6 ounces 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed  (I used fat-free)
  • 2 Tablespoons seedless strawberry jam
  • 1 Tablespoon raspberry-flavored liqueur (I use my own homemade liqueur, but Chambord is one you can purchase)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half, or pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place pie crust in the freezer to chill while you make the filling.
  2. Place cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl;  beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
  3. Fold in whipped topping.  Carefully spread over bottom of crust.
  4. Place strawberry jam in a large microwave safe bowl;  microwave at HIGH 10 seconds or until softened .  Add liqueur and lemon juice;  stir with a whisk until smooth.  Add the berries; toss to coat the berries with the jam mixture.
  5. Arrange berries over the filling.  Chill for 30 minutes before serving.  Cut into wedges;  serves  8
   

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from  Cooking Light Magazine,  May, 2012

Blackberry Jam

I’ve made a plan for my postings this week around the theme of  “berries”.  Each day I’ll have a recipe that uses fresh berries in a different way. Looking into my crystal ball I see a lot of baking in my future, and along with that I see the pounds/weight going up.  I guess I’ll also need to increase my dancing in order to work off the calories.  Any way you look at it its a win-win situation:  more baking which I love, more dancing which I love, and more blogging;  all for you, my dear readers!   So to begin, here’s  the story about my adventures in making homemade blackberry jam.

It’s always a challenge and an adventure when you pick blackberries!   Not too far away from where I live there is a farm which features “pick-your-own” fruits, beginning with strawberries in the spring, right through to apples and pears in the fall.  My favorite fruits to pick are raspberries and blackberries.  Blackberry picking has not started yet, so what is pictured is the farm open for this year’s harvest of raspberries.

When you drive down the lane to where the bushes are located you can see the berries hanging heavy on the branches.  Blackberry bushes are planted in rows with straw beneath them to keep down the weeds, and they grow thick and high.  The best berries are the inky black ones, and they are usually found deep into the bush.  Oh, did I mention that blackberry bushes have THORNS?   Yes, well no matter how carefully you try to avoid them those thorns will bite you.  So to get those wonderful fat, juicy, black berries you must suffer.  When you have picked your limit and set out for home, there will be blackberry juice, scratches and dried blood on your arms and legs and a blackberry stain around your mouth.  (Who can pick without tasting?)   Anyone would think you have been in a fight.

Why do I do this year after year?  Because it’s so worth it.  There are so many things you can do with blackberries like make jam, pie, cobbler, liqueur, and sauce.  They freeze beautifully.  Just lay them out on a baking sheet. Stick in the freezer for a while and when frozen place in zip-lock bags for future use.   Today I will share with you my recipe for blackberry jam.

BLACKBERRY JAM

Yield:  6   six-ounce glasses

  • 6 cups blackberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 3/4 – 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 – 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon grated orange zest

Cook the berries with water until they are heated through.  Crush the berries and rub through a sieve to remove the seeds.  Add sugar, fruit juices and grated orange zest.  Cook over low heat until thick.  Because blackberries are naturally high in pectin,  and the juices add citric acid,  this mixture thickens well without the addition of more pectin.

While the berries are cooking I put my jars, lids and rings in the dishwasher and run it to wash and sterilize the jars.  Then as the berry mixture is thickened and ready to be jarred, I remove the hot jars one at a time from the dishwasher, (keep the other jars hot)  fill it leaving about 1/8  inch space at the top.  Wipe jar rims and threads.  Cover with two-piece lids and screw bands on tightly.  As each jar is filled and covered, immediately turn it upside down on a dish towel.  After about 5 minutes turn jars upright.  Soon you will hear a snap/pop sound as the vacuum forms and the jars become sealed.  This is so neat!  There will be no need to boil jam-filled jars in a large kettle to achieve this same result.  If for some reason a jar does not make a seal, then that’s the one you can start to enjoy right away.

This jam was made last summer.  As long as it is well sealed it will keep for several years on your pantry shelf.  I like to give a jar of jam and home baked bread as a Holiday gift or Hostess gift when I am visiting.  It is always welcome.

SOURCE:  Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook   ? edition.  This wonderful cookbook was given to me as a wedding gift, and it has seen much use over the years.  It is well worn and well loved.

Summer Squash, Bacon and Mozzarella Quiche

At this time of year I try to take advantage of summer’s bounty of fresh vegetables as much as I can.  Summer squash and zucchini are two vegetables that seem to grow in great abundance for anyone who gardens.  Several of my friends tend small garden plots and are generous in sharing ” the wealth” with me.

The recipe for this quiche was in Cooking Light Magazine last July and I made it several times last summer and already this summer I’ve made it again because we like it so much.  Except for the inclusion of some bacon it is almost meatless, so if you choose to omit the bacon the quiche will still be very good.  It’s also a good way to get children to eat some vegetables by surrounding them with eggs and cheese and calling the dish “pie”.

When I make this I usually serve it with just a green salad along side for a light summertime supper.  It is also a very good dish to serve for a brunch.

SUMMER SQUASH, BACON AND MOZZARELLA QUICHE

SERVINGS:  8

Crust:  You may choose to make your favorite pie crust recipe,  use a refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury, or a frozen premade crust from the frozen foods isle of the grocery store.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees  Pierce the crust bottom and sides with a fork.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Watch carefully to prevent bubbles from forming, by pricking with a fork.  Cool slightly.

Filling:  

  • 4 slices smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled.   Save about 2 Tablespoons of drippings in the pan.
  • 2 cups zucchini, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • 2 cups yellow squash, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme,  or about 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk  ( I used skim milk, and it was fine.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup egg beater product, or one more egg
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

To prepare filling:  Saute the two squashes and the chopped onion in the bacon drippings, sprinkling with the thyme.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until squash becomes tender.

Combine the milk, salt, pepper and eggs in a large measuring cup, stirring with a whisk.  Arrange the squash mixture evenly in the pie crust, sprinkle with the bacon and mozzarella cheese.  Pour egg mixture over all.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until filling is set.

When you write a food blog like this the photos taken usually show off your dish to good advantage, and the reader gets the impression that everything goes smoothly and comes out looking ‘picture perfect”.  Not so!  Sometimes everything goes wrong and the dish looks horrible.  Those I don’t write about.  But sometimes funny things happen which was the case with this quiche.

For my crust I used one which was frozen from my freezer.  Some how I failed to notice there was a crack in it.  Look closely, you can see it!   So after I filled it with the veggies, bacon and cheese, I poured in the milk mixture, which ran out the crack, over the side of the pie pan and onto the baking sheet underneath.  I discarded as much of the overflow as I could manage, then put the whole thing in the oven and hoped for the best.  Needless to say it continued to leak in the oven.  When the quiche was cooked and I removed it from the oven there was a hugh bubble of cooked egg mixture attached to the side of the pie pan.  Sort of like a pop-over attached to a quiche!  It deflated quickly so I didn’t get a good picture of it, but you can see remnants of it in the  pictures below. 🙂  In spite of this the quiche tasted very good, and we really enjoyed it.

   

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Magazine,  July, 2011

Artichoke, Spinach, and White Bean Dip

A neighborhood block party for the Fourth of July.  Everyone brings a pot-luck dish to share. Friends getting together, talking, playing games, kids running around, riding bikes, playing in the sprinkler.  A very typical July 4th celebration.  That’s what we did and perhaps many of you  did the same.  I hope your day was relaxing and enjoyable.

This post is about the appetizer I brought to share.  It got rave reviews, disappeared very quickly, and was very easy to make.  I served it with a variety of crackers, and toasted pita chips for dipping.  I’ve had this kind of dip on previous occasions, and though I like it very much I limit myself to just a few tastes because I know it is usually high in fat and calories.  This version, however, cuts the calories way back, by reducing the amount of cheese(es) in it, and including white beans processed with the base ingredients to give thickness without fat.

So in this version you have the sharpness of Romano cheese, the tang of lemon juice, and the bite of red pepper, incorporated into a base made smooth by mayonnaise (the only fat) and pureed white beans.  To me this is the real star of the show, although the spinach and artichokes get all the attention.   This is when I say,  Oh, Yeah!  Bring it on!    You’ll be happy to know that a 1/4 cup serving contains only 87 calories,  4.9 g.carb, and 5.4 g. fat.

ARTICHOKE, SPINACH, AND WHITE BEAN DIP

YIELD:  about 3 cups;  serves 12 or more

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ( 1 ounce) grated pecorino Romano cheese  (purchased already grated at the grocery store.)
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained.  Quarter and chop them.
  • 1 (9 0z. ) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry.
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 1-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place Romano cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, and white beans in a food processor, and process until smooth.  Spoon into a medium bowl.  Stir in the artichokes and spinach.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.  Serve warm with crackers or chips for dipping.

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Magazine

Red Velvet “Soda Can” Cupcakes

The end of June and beginning of July has been a very busy time with parties to celebrate various milestones within our family and  with friends.  I’ve already told you about my granddaughter’s graduation party and what I baked for that.  Today’s blog is about cupcakes that I made for a friend’s 20th anniversary in professional practice; and  since it is right around the Fourth of July, I went with the Patriotic theme.

I have been reading recently in some of the blogs I follow about a quick way to make a cake or cupcakes using nothing more than a boxed cake mix and a can of soda.  Really?  That’s what I said!  So I tried it and found out they come out really moist and kind of chewy;  The texture is not as fine as a cake’s, but for a cupcake I really liked that.  The cake and soda combo I used was Red Velvet Cake Mix and Cherry Coke.  I think it will be fun to try some other flavor combinations such as lemon cake with Sierra Mist or lemon and lime soda. So many possibilities.  If you haven’t heard about this until now, try it.  It’s a novel idea whose time has come.

For the frosting on my cupcakes, I wanted white, so I made a simple cream cheese and butter cream frosting, piped on with a large star decorating tip.  Then I sprinkled them with a “stars and stripes” sprinkle mix and topped each one with a tiny flag.  So Cute!

This is all you need:  a boxed cake mix and an 8 oz can of room temperature soda.  I poured that amount from a full-size bottle, because I couldn’t find the cans.

This is what it looks like when you start to mix it up.

Use a whisk to mix it up, working out most of the lumps.

Line muffin cups with liners and fill 1/2 – 2/3s full. Do not overfill.

After baking. I got a total of 17 cupcakes, could have gotten 18, by making them a tad bit smaller.

FROSTING:

4 ounces cream cheese

6 tablespoons butter

2 cup confectioners’ sugar

To make the frosting, put the cream cheese and butter in small bowl of mixer and blend together to cream.  Sift in the sugar and continue beating until smooth and creamy.  If you plan to pipe it on with a decorating tip, it needs to be quite stiff.   I refrigerated my frosting a bit after mixing just to get it stiff enough to decorate with.  Unless you are serving the cupcakes right away, it is wise to refrigerate them to prevent frosting melt in this warm weather.

Really Cute! They tasted as good as they looked.

SOURCE:  Thanks to Cookiesandcups.com

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, everyone.