Family Food

White Almond Sour Cream Cupcakes
Makes about 30 cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Line cupcake pans with liners and pour filling into each pan a little over half full.
  5. Lightly tap cake pans on counter to bring air bubbles to top.
  6. Bake in preheated 325° F oven until toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 – 25 minutes. 
Easy Buttercream Frosting
1stick of butter
3 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (clear if possible)
2 tablespoons milk
3 – 5 drops of food coloring (the boys picked neon blue)
1.    Let butter soften to room temperature (or I microwave about 12 seconds so it feels as if it’s softer without being melted at all) In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Add milk and food coloring until frosting reaches desired consistency and color.

Freeze Ahead or Ready Now - Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells

I saw Giada make this on her show and it looked so good, I tried it one Sunday afternoon.  It made enough to split in half and have our family eat half now and freeze half for later (granted my kids are 3 and 7, so although they gobbled this up, they don’t eat a whole lot in general.)  It was delicious!  Pair it with a salad or a loaf of French bread for a great meal.
Prep Time: 30 - 40 min   Cook time:  25 min (or 1 hour if Frozen)
  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped (I used 2 jars of 6oz artichokes)
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese (I used lowfat)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (did not have, so added canned oregano)
5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, (I used 2 jars of pasta or spaghetti sauce)
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine. 
To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month. 
To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Quick Family Dinner - Grilled Chicken Nachos

When I’m in a hurry and am tired of the kids complaining about dinner, I keep these ingredients on hand to whip up in a jiffy.  The kids love it because, hey, they are nachos.  But really, they are getting grilled chicken, bell peppers, tomatoes, and low fat cheese so it is not too bad nutritionally for Mom or Dad either.

Ready time:  10 min
1 bag tortilla chips
1 package frozen bell pepper/onion mixture (or fresh if you want to chop)
1 can black olives
Low fat sour cream or salsa if you prefer
1 lb pre-cooked fajita seasoned chicken strips
1 package low fat shredded sharp cheddar or whatever cheese you prefer (white queso is richer and also good and melts easy)
1 tomato
2 tbsp olive oil
Jalepenos if you like
1 bag shredded lettuce
Directions:  Saute pepper/onion mixture in olive oil until slightly brown.  Add grilled chicken for the last minute to the pan to heat up.  Chop tomato while cooking.
Lin a cookie sheet with tin foil and spread the tortilla chips out.  Top with pan mixture, cheese, and anything else you would like hot.  Put under broiler until cheese is bubbly and brown.  Add tomatoes, shredded lettuce, olives and toss together.  Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Fun and portable, this easy dessert stuffs sweet cream cheese icing between two flat cylinders of spiced carrot cake. They're perfect for lunch boxes, picnics, or bake sales. Not really into whoopee-style pies?
The recipe easily adapts to make a small batch of cupcakes (about 7), but can be doubled: Pour batter into lined, 1/2-cup muffin tins and bake at 350° for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in tins 5 minutes, then turn onto a rack. Frost the cupcakes once they're completely cooled.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 cakes
·         3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for cookie sheets
·         3/4 cup all-purpose flour
·         1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
·         1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
·         1 teaspoon ground ginger
·         Pinch ground cloves
·         1/8 teaspoon freshly, finely grated nutmeg
·         1/8 teaspoon freshly, finely ground black pepper
·         6 tablespoons vegetable oil
·         1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
·         1 large egg
·         1/4 cup sour cream
·         3/4 teaspoon vanilla, divided
·         1 1/2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded on the fine side of a box grater (to yield 1 cup)
·         1/4 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
·         5 ounces cream cheese, softened
·         2/3 cup powdered sugar
·         1 teaspoon heavy cream or milk 

·         1. Preheat oven to 350°. Put a dab of butter in each corner of 2 large baking sheets and line with parchment.  Muffin top pans are also great here.
·         2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, sour cream, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla; stir in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add carrots and coconut, stirring until just combined.
·         3. Drop 1-tbsp. circles of batter onto baking sheets about 1 in. apart. Bake until cooked through and browned slightly, 14 to 18 minutes. Cool on baking sheets.
·         4. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat cream cheese until very soft. Add butter and beat until smooth and well blended. Add powdered sugar a third at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Beat in cream and remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
·         5. Flip cakes over and spread about 1 1/2 tbsp. frosting on half of them. Top each with a remaining cake, flat side down, to sandwich the frosting.