Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Amazing Rainbow Cupcakes!

This is by far and beyond the most fun I've ever had baking! I love these cupcakes so much! I made these with some kids I was babysitting and it was a hit! Then we brought them to a bake sale and they were the best seller! Kids love these crazy colors and so did the adults. Please do yourself a favor and make these!

Amazing Rainbow Cupcakes (stolen from Our Best Bites) Thank you for sharing this recipe!

1 white cake mix
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Combine all ingredients until incorporated.

2. Divide batter according to how many colors you are using. I used 5 colors and it worked out to a little over 1 cup for each color.

3. Add food coloring to each bowl of cake batter to the desired color. I used the Wilton Gel Dye. I can't believe how bright the colors turned out! Goodbye to McCormick Liquid Food Coloring!

4. Now time to start layering! You can get creative here! Change the order of layers, do some swirls. I made mine in very specific orders and the kids I was baking with made their own tray of crazy, creative cupcakes which turned out just as beautiful(if not better than mine)!

5. Bake according to the box (about 20 mins on 350).

6. Ice with your favorite icing and eat them fast before everyone else gets them!

Cookie Dough and Cheesecake Balls

These are two of the easiest and tastiest recipes I've ever tried and I will definetly be using them again. Who doesn't love cookie dough or cheesecake? It takes just a few ingredients and barely any time to make. A party must have!

Lemon Cheesecake Ball (taken from Annie's Eats )

10 oz. cream cheese (softened)
2½ tbsp. sugar
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 graham crackers

1. Beat cream cheese and sugar together in a large bowl.
2. Stir in vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
3. Plop on top of plastic wrap and shape into a ball.
4. Place in fridge for an hour.
5. Crush graham crackers and roll ball in crumbs until welly coated.
6. Serve with various fruits, cookies, or snacks you like! (My husband particularly loved this treat with sliced strawberries and mini nilla wafers.)

Cookie Dough Ball (taken from Lemons and Love)

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

1. Melt butter and brown sugar in a pot over medium heat. Stir continuously until sugar fully dissolves.

2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

3. In a seperate bowl, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar together just until combined.

4. Pour in the cooled sugar mixture and beat for another minute.

5. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Form into a ball using placstic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

6. Roll in extra mini chocolate chips until covered.

7. Serve with cookies or graham crackers and enjoy!

Italian Easter Bread

A fun Easter bread shaped like a wreath that we have every year! I used a recipe adapted from Sweet Kat's blog this year. Enjoy!

1 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 eggs, room temp
2/3 cup granulated sugar
8 tsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup warm milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
6 whole uncooked eggs, colored if desired

1. In a small cup, combine the yeast with the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let stand until activated, about 5 minutes. (It should be dissolved completly.)

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until blended. Add in the sugar.

3. Mix in the butter, milk, and vanilla.

4. Combine with the yeast mixture.

5. Add flour and salt. Stir until a soft ball forms. (Dough will still be very sticky)

6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two until very smooth.

7. Ball the dough and place in a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.

8. Punch down the dough and cut into 4 pieces. Roll out each piece into a rope about 20 inches long. Repeat with another piece of dough. Lay two ropes side by side and loosely braid them together.

9. Lift the braid onto the prepared baking sheet and bring the ends together to form a ring. Pinch the ends to seal. Take 3 eggs and place between bread ropes.

10. Repeat with the remaining dough and eggs to make a second bread wreath. Cover the wreaths with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

11. Brush with egg wash. Scatter the candy sprinkles. Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes on 350, or until golden brown. Let cool on baking racks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pizzagaina (Italian Easter Pie)

Ok, well I am embarrassed to say that I have not posted any of my Easter recipes yet. So I'm a little but late as usual, but the food was fantastic so I must post it! Besides better late than never!

For those of you who have never eaten pizzagaina, it is basically a pie full of many types of traditional meats and cheeses. In my family, it is tradition that we would go to Midnight Mass with my Grandma and Grandpa and then come home and eat some. I was a picky eater and never ate any, but we always made it together and it is a great Easter tradition and way to break Lent!

This year my friend Jules and I tackled the pizzagaina making with my Mom, Aunt, and Grandma to give us guidance and advice. Here was the outcome:


2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in cubes
2 eggs

Filling (so yummy I had to photograph the ingredients)

1 lb ricotta
1 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella,sliced
1/3 lb Basket Cheese,sliced (also known as Farmer's Cheese)
1 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano,grated
12 eggs, half hard-boiled and half beaten
1 lb ham
1/4 lb salami
1/4 lb capicola
1/4 lb proscuitto
1/4 lb proscuittini
3 tbsp parsley
salt, pepper

1. Make your crust! Start by mixing together the flour and salt.

2. Toss in the cubes of butter and start combining with two forks.

3. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate by hand.

4. Roll into two balls and cover with plastic wrap. Pop in the refrigerator for about an hour.

5. Meanwhile,take the slices of meat stacked and chop into sections for easier assembling.

6. Slice the hardboiled eggs as well.

7. Add parsley, salt, pepper, and pecorino to beaten eggs (6).

8. Take dough and let rest til room temp. Then roll out in two circles.

9. Press into a 9 inch pie plate or 9 inch springform pan.

10. Now here's where it gets challenging. There are two different ways to fill the inside. One way is to layer the meats,boiled eggs, and cheeses, then top with beaten eggs. The other way is to combine everything (eggs, meats, and cheeses) and pour in pan. Both sides of my family do it differently so I made one of each.

11. If you choose layering, you will want to be sure to rotate (a meat, a cheese, hard-boiled egg) and repeat until you have used them all. There is no set pattern for layering the filling.

12. If you choose to combine first, then be sure you have a large bowl, because it's a lot of food! Also, you will want to cube the hard boiled eggs to prevent them from breaking apart when mixing.

13. Either will taste great! Top with the second rolled out circle of dough. Press the edges to seal. Scallop the edges using your fingers or a fork. Also, be sure to cut vents in the pie. We got slightly creative and made a cross and a bunny on ours.

14. Brush with milk or egg to get a more glossy finish to your crust!

15. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Let cool on cookie racks.

16. On Easter, cut and serve!