Sometimes I have thought about what to open that night before 8am...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (gluten free)

Because I get asked for this recipe all of the time. Because it is easier than you could possibly imagine. Because I am feeling generous of spirit. And because I believe in "All things in moderation.". 

I give you:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
1 Box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
2 tsp cinnamon
3/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I realize this is a weird measurement, but I use 1/4+1/8 tsp in the recipe)
1 tub Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1-1.5 rounded tsp instant espresso powder
2 Hershey Bars

Line a muffin pan with cupcake wrappers. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Add cinnamon and cayenne and mix for another minute, or until well combined. Scoop into muffin pan and bake according to package directions. Cupcakes are ready when a cake tester comes out of the cupcake clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare your frosting. Place frosting and 1 rounded tsp of espresso powder into a mixing bowl and mix on medium-high for 1 minute. Taste the frosting and add additional espresso powder as needed. This part is really up to your judgement. You want it to taste like a mocha, but not scream COOOOFFEEEEEEEE!!! 

Put frosting in a piping bag with a wide round tip and pipe onto the top of the cupcakes. Break off squares of the Hershey Chocolate Bar and angle them into the frosting.

Makes 15-18 cupcakes.

1. There are lots of gluten free cake recipes out there, and you are certainly welcome to substitute one of them for the box mix I use. However, I would say to you, your time has value. These cupcakes are delicious, and with the additional ingredients no one is going to know you used a box cake mix. Trust me. 
2.  You can absolutely make these with a standard chocolate cake mix. If you choose to do so, you will need to increase the amount of cinnamon and cayenne that you use. Standard cake mixes make a larger quantity of cupcakes than the gluten free cake mixes. You will also need additional frosting, as one tub of frosting was just enough to decorate the 18 cupcakes that I made!
3.  If you are making these for adults and want to up the ante, try adding 1/3 cup Kahlua to the frosting. The frosting will be a little bit looser so you may want to refrigerate the cupcakes until serving. But Holy Moly does it add a little somethin' to the cupcake!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Challenge

This is our message center. It is right by the back door. I put reminders to the family on it. Sometimes I put up inspiring quotes or even silly pictures. The message posted right now is for me. Although, isn't it really a good reminder for us all?

Be Active Everyday.

Being active is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet when things get busy, what is the first thing that gets pushed to the side? Exercise.

So my goal is simple: Everyday between now and January 2012 I will do something active. It can be anything.  Take the dogs for a 3 mile walk. Do an exercise video. Go hiking. Play tennis with my husband. Go for a bike ride. Take a yoga class.

The possibilities are endless, and I am ready.

Be Active Everyday.

Who's with me?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sweet Potato and Arugula Salad

Fall is upon us, even here in San Diego. 

Fall leaves me wanting new flavors, richer flavors, and yet I am trying to make healthier choices. Are you tired of me saying that yet? I repeat it in an effort to keep myself focused on the task at hand. I need to put it out there to keep myself on track. In fact, there is only one thing I need more than accountability, and that is new and exciting things to eat. And this salad is both of those things. Plus it is incredibly delicious!

Sweet Potato and Arugula Salad
1 large sweet potato peeled, and cut into cubes
3 cups of arugula
2 tbsp crumbled feta
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil + 2 tsp olive oil for roasting the potatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Toss sweet potatoes in 2 tsp olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and cool.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add pine nuts (no oil, no cooking spray). Cook in the pan, stirring often, until toasted. Remove from pan and allow to cool.

In a large bowl combine arugula, sweet potato, pine nuts, and feta cheese. Drizzle with 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp olive oil. Toss to combine.

Plate and top with additional cracked black pepper.

This makes 2 entree size salads, or 4 side salads to accompany your dinner. 

Friday night I served it with Cider Glazed Chicken with Pecan Rice from Cooking Light. I have had the salad for lunch twice since then. That's right, both Saturday and Sunday!

If there was only one tip that I could give you on this recipe it would be: cook extra sweet potato

That way when you are looking for a quick easy lunch this week, you have an incredible salad you can throw together in mere minutes. 

Oh and I have no doubts this will become a huge hit in your house. It already is in mine!