strawberry-mascarpone filled cupcakes

Being put in charge of a dessert was a bit nerve-racking. I’m not a dessert person! Although, with the amount of baking I’ve done lately I’m starting to think that is changing. Originally I was going to go with a tiramisu to go along with the Italian-themed dinner, but when I came across this recipe from Giada, there was no question as to what I would bring.

I could have eaten the mascarpone filling by the spoonful, but I resisted, knowing full well that those cupcakes just wouldn’t be the same. Next time I will double the filling and use it as a frosting too. Unfortunately the glaze just can’t live up to its counterpart.

The cupcakes went over very well at the dinner and it was the guys who were going back for seconds. And thirds. ;)

While some may be disappointed with the use of boxed cake mix, this recipe may not have been do-able on a weeknight if I had to make the cupcakes from scratch along with the fillings and glaze.  But it worked out well, no one even notices that the cupcakes come from a box because the filling steals the show.

Strawberry & Mascarpone Filled Cupcakes courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • 1 (8 oz) container mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • 1/2 cup thawed and drained frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (I didn’t use this)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Make the cupcakes according to package instructions. Lightly grease the muffin tin and fill the batter almost to the rim of each muffin cup. Bake according to package directions and let cool.

In a food processor combine the mascarpone cheese, strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Process the mixture until smooth. Transfer the strawberry mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip. Plush the tip gently into the bottom of a cupcake and squeeze in the strawberry mixture until the cupcake plumps. Continue with the remaining cupcakes.

In a small saucepan bring the 1/2 cup sugar, water and vanilla extract to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. In a medium bowl combine the vanilla extract with the confectioner’s sugar. Stir until smooth. Working quickly, use a rubber spatula spread the icing on the top of the cupcakes. If the icing begins to firm up, place in the microwave for a few seconds to warm up again.

soba noodles with shrimp & cilantro

It is not often that Food & Wine boasts a magazine filled with “healthy recipes” so when they did you can bet that I took full advantage. There was no doubt in my mind that these recipes would be anything but flavorful, and so far, they have been.

According to Thai tradition, this dish is both warming and energizing – the lime juice protects the respiratory system and cilantro helps when you’re congested. (F & W) Now I can’t say that I was left feeling energized, but I can tell you that this lively dish is one worth making. The soba noodles provide a flavorful base to shrimp, veggies and lots of cilantro. I added extra veggies like carrots and cabbage (Thanks for the idea taster!) and was so glad I did, they added more bulk and extra veggies are always a good thing in my mind!

Shrimp Soba Salad adapted from Food & Wine

  • Soba Noodles
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red chili paste *depending on preference
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 16 oz shrimp, thawed
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • lime wedges

Cook soba noodles as directed. Toss with soy sauce, agave, chili paste and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Set Aside. Meanwhile heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large saute pan. Add garlic, shrimp, veggies, lime juice and zest and heat until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Top noodles with shrimp and veggie mixture. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.

pesto brushetta

My friend Marie recently brought these to an engagement party and they are perfect for a party: colorful on a plate, easy to put together and a definite crowd pleaser. I will admit that I was wondering if the ricotta would be flavorful enough, but I was quickly proved wrong – these were as flavorful as could be. And since she was kind enough to leave the left-over ingredients with me…I enjoyed these for a few nights after the party had ended…

Pesto Ricotta Brushetta

  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted under broiler
  • prepared pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto
  • ricotta cheese
  • sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Layer the bread with the pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto (we had both varieties), ricotta cheese and a sprinkling of sun-dried tomatoes.

Pour yourself a glass of wine, make some snacks and enjoy your weekend!

fruit not fat & galaxy granola

I have some exciting granola news for you, and I know you all love granola. How can you not? It is crunchy and sweet, the perfect breakfast, snack, or dessert and it is a healthy treat that we can all feel good about eating. But we also know that all granola is not created equally. A lot of it is full of added sugars, unnecessary fats and loads of ingredients that we don’t need.

Galaxy Granola has some new products that even the pickiest of nutritious eaters can feel good about eating and even more importantly enjoy eating. They sent me some samples to try and I started with the Not Sweet Vanilla – it is sweetened with agave and only has 4 g of sugar/serving. Considering that apples are the second ingredient, that is the best sugar stat on cereal that I’ve seen in a long time. But realistically it all comes down to the taste and I am here to let you know that this was some of the best granola I’ve had in a while. It had the perfect vanilla flavor without being overly sweet but still felt like a treat.  I had mine straight out of the bag and with some unsweetened almond milk – Oh and did I mention that they donate 1% of sales to protect the environment? Eat up :)

Ingredients: Whole Rolled Oats, Apples, Organic Agave Nectar, Barley Flakes, Spelt Flakes, Crisp Rice, Oat Flour, Vanilla Extract, Oat Bran, Vitamin E.

Nutrition: (Per 1/4 cup) 120 cal, 2.2 g fat, 4 g fiber, 4 g protein

Fruit Not Fat Movement

This is “a movement, a lifestyle, and a recipe for a happier and healthier life.” Does that mission statement have a copyright? It sounds like my life! The website is here to provide recipes, tips and to really be an online community that you can enjoy being a part of. They want to hear what you are doing, what you think of their granola and what kind of products you want to see. Go grab some of their granola, sit down and bum around the site. I know that’s what I’ll be doing. ;)

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