Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Kelly Jones proudly displays the pink cupcakes Lisa made for the Pink Party that helped raise the money to qualify her to walk in the three-day Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Boston on July 27-19. Good luck Kelly! 

A friend’s daughter signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-day, 60-mile walk in Boston.  To be eligible to walk, she had to raise $2,500.  Her mother, being a breast cancer survivor, wanted to help her raise the money so she planned a Pink Party Fund Raiser.  It was at her home and the theme, of course, was “pink”!  She had pink food, pink prizes, and everyone wore pink. I wanted to bring a fun dessert and thought what would be better than pink cupcakes? I scoured the internet looking for recipes that looked interesting, and came upon this one. I tried it out on my family first, and if you saw the video you know they were a great success!  They were also a big hit at the party. They are easy to make, light, fluffy, delicious and pink!  You could really make these cupcakes for any occasion—baby showers (pink and/or blue), graduations (using the school colors), or for just about any occasion. Try them out and let us know how you like them. —Lisa

For 24 cupcakes, you'll need:
1 box white cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)
1 ¼ cups champagne
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
4 to 5 drops red food coloring (or any color you want!)

For the champagne frosting you'll need:
½ cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup champagne
1 tsp vanilla
4 to 5 drops food coloring

To decorate use, pink sugar crystals.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place paper baking cups in each of the 24 muffin cups.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine cake mix and champagne. Add oil, eggs, and food color. Beat until well mixed. Divide evenly into muffin cups.

Bake 17-20 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean). Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cool.

In a medium bowl, beat all frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost and top with sugar crystals.

We’d love to see the pictures of some of your cupcakes!  Send them to

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Crunchy Hawaiian Cole Slaw

This is a perfect summer side for those who love cole slaw but don't want the added calories of mayonnaise, or simply want a lighter alternative. I love this because the Ramen Noodles give it a nice crunch and you can adapt the recipe by adding anything you like. Substitute the pineapple for mandarin oranges and the almonds for cashews and you have Chinese Cole Slaw. There are a variety of recipes that combine Ramen Noodles and cole slaw, so give this one and try and then experiment and discover your favorite combination. I listed some ideas below. There possibilities are so endless you can serve this a different way throughout the entire summer! —Diana

You'll need:
1 bag cole slaw
2 packages dry Ramen Noodles
2 handfuls of sliced almonds
2 cups diced pineapple, diced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp soy sauce

Crush the Ramen Noodles before opening the package. Spread the noodles and the almonds on a baking sheet or shallow baking pan and place under the broiler for just a few minutes until lightly brown. Watch closely because they will burn quickly. You may prefer to not toast the noodles and almonds. I happen to like the flavor when they are lightly toasted. You can even throw some sesame seed on there, too. 

Once they cool a little, combine the noodles and almonds with the cole slaw. Add the pineapple. 

To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, oil and soy sauce. Add the sugar and mix until dissolved. Taste it. You might want to add more soy sauce or vinegar. Some people like to mix in the seasoning packet that comes with the Ramen Noodles. It depends on your taste. You can make the dressing ahead of time and refrigerate. Add dressing to cole slaw right before serving and mix. 

Here are some other items you can consider adding: sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, broccoli florets, diced green onions, scallions, creative! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Grilled Stuffed Turkey Breast over Garlic Couscous

I was in the mood for turkey but didn’t want to heat up my whole house by making it in the oven.  At the same time, I didn’t want to just grill the cutlets. How boring! So, I decided to make a rollatini with fresh basil, spinach, and goat cheese and throw it on the grill. The result was delicious and healthy, and the oven stayed off!—Jennifer

What you’ll need:
1 package turkey cutlets
1 package fresh spinach
2 basil leaves, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped 
½ sweet onion
Extra virgin olive oil
Goat cheese
Salt, to taste 
Pepper, to taste
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 box of Near East garlic couscous

Place the cutlets between two pieces of plastic wrap and bang them out so they are nice and thin.
Combine salt, pepper, garlic powder and 1/2 cup olive oil. Marinade cutlets with mixture and place in refrigerator.

Prepare couscous according to directions. While couscous is cooking (approximately 30 minutes), combine garlic, basil and onion in large skillet and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Place spinach in the pan and toss, cover and cook until it wilts. 

Take the cutlets from refrigerator and lay them flat. On each cutlet, spread a layer of goat cheese and add the spinach mixture in the center of the cutlet, and then roll. 

Grill for about 5 minutes on each side at 400 degrees. Serve over the couscous and enjoy! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Artichoke Casserole

It’s six years later and we still refer to the summer of  ’06 as “The Best Summer Ever.” It was the first summer I wasn't working since graduating from college, and for Alex and Luke, who were 12 and 10 at the time, it was the first time they wouldn’t be shipped off to a camp to spend their summer days. Needless to say, we all were psyched. As luck would have it, friends were renting their home on Long Beach Island. Yes please! So we packed our bags and headed down the Parkway for a five-week stint. It was pure heaven. Some of the best memories of that summer were having friends and family visit, cracking out the chips and crackers, and yes, a few cold ones, and making a batch—usually several batches—of artichoke casserole. I have no idea where this recipe came from, but it became a staple that summer and continues to be a favorite at family gatherings. Whenever I make it, it reminds me of that summer on Long Beach Island…The Best Summer Ever! —Diana

P.S. Instead of posting a picture of the dish, I decided to share with you some pictures from that summer. Oh, did I mention that it was The Best Summer EVER?! 

So here we are in the back yard eating. We did a lot of that. If you look closely, you'll see the artichoke casserole on the table, somewhere, unless we had already eaten it. (Pictured from left clockwise, Taisia (standing), Lisa, Jennifer, Little Arnold, Big Arnold, Alex and Danielle.
You’ll Need:
4 cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
¾ cups flavored bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded provolone
½ cup olive oil
Pepper to taste
Chips or crackers…and lots of them!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients, except the oil, in a large mixing bowl. Gently combine, add oil, and mix more. Lightly coat bottom and sides of a 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick spray. Transfer mixture to dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Serve warm with your favorite chips or crackers. Or do as I do, and just grab yourself a fork and dig in! 

Aaron, Alex and Jennifer in an artichoke casserole stooper.
It's obvious how torn up Luke and Alex were about not being in camp that summer. 

There I am digging into the dip as we all greet Ernie, whose house we rented that summer. Thanks to  Ernie and Kathy, and that artichoke casserole, we had...say it with me people..."the best summer ever!"