Lunchbox Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling

Here you will find a recipe for chocolate cupcakes, a vanilla cream filling, and an easy chocolate frosting. They are perfect for your child’s lunchbox.

My little peanuts are very tired from their first few weeks back at school, so I baked them these chocolate cupcakes as a special treat. They were so tasty, with a light and soft texture that is like a boxed cake mix. So many cupcake recipes turn out tough and dry, or just blah, but I promise this one is tender and perfect.

Read More


French Rolls for Sandwiches

We make these rolls every week, on Tuesday.   They are great for Italian sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and whatever sandwich your heart desires.  The dough can also be made into larger round loaves or baguette shapes to serve with dinner.

The best thing about the rolls is that they freeze well for at least two weeks, and can be defrosted in the microwave easily (takes about 1 minute on the defrost setting).  The crust can be recrisped with just a few minutes in the oven.  They have a thin, crisp crust and are super soft inside.

I always, always, always knead and rise my dough in the bread machine, although I never bake in it.  The stand mixer is okay.  I have never had success kneading by hand, but obviously many people do.

This recipe is one of the easiest to make, but also one of the best.  It is slightly adapted from Bread Machine Magic.

You will need:

4 cups of bread flour

1 1/2 cups of water

2 t. salt

2 1/2 t. instant yeast (I like Red Star brand)

Cornmeal and flour for dusting

Directions:

  1.  Combine your ingredients and knead into a soft smooth dough, preferably in a bread machine on the dough cycle.
  2. Cover and allow to rise until doubled.  (The bread machine will take care of this, and will beep when done.)
  3. Divide into 10 equal pieces using a sharp knife.
  4. Shape into rolls, pinching the bottoms until the tops are smooth.
  5. Prepare your baking sheet by either spraying with non-stick spray or covering with parchment, then dust with cornmeal.
  6. Rub flour on top of the rolls. Place them on the baking sheet, slashing a diagonal line with a sharp knife.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450, and place a spare empty baking sheet with a lip in the oven.
  8. Cover your rolls with greased plastic wrap, and put in a warm place to rise.  When they look very puffy, remove the plastic wrap.
  9. When the oven has preheated, pour 1 cup of water on to the spare baking sheet to create steam.  It may buckle.  This is okay.
  10. Put your risen rolls into the oven, and bake for 16-17 minutes.  When done, they will have slightly browned bottoms and feel light for their size.
  11. Cool and use immediately or freeze.

 

 

DSC02656.jpg

DSC02657.jpg

DSC02660.jpg

DSC02661.jpg

DSC02667.jpg

DSC02666.jpg

 

DSC02646.jpg

 


The Best Chicken Tenders (Buffalo if you want)

I see a lot of recipes for things that picky kids are supposed to like and I laugh, because my kids would never eat them in a million years.  When I think of picky eater recipes, I think of this.  All children, and all adults, will love them.  I promise.

This is our most frequently made dinner.  We eat it almost once a week, on either Saturday or Sunday, and have not tired of it for five years.  I highly recommend a deep fryer.  We have one that filters and stores the oil and it has paid for itself many times over in oil costs, convenience, and how much it has improved the quality of our food.  We use it for this recipe as well as frozen appetizers, egg rolls, homemade General Tso’s chicken, fried shrimp, and other things.

You will need:

8 chicken breast cutlets (Perdue frozen ones from Costco are our favorite)

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 and 1/2 cups of panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/2 cup of milk

1/2 t. of seasoned salt

1/4 t. of black pepper

Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

A deep fryer OR a candy thermometer

  1.  Cut your chicken into the size strips or tenders you want.  
  2. In one medium sized bowl, combine the eggs and milk
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients
  4. Start heating your oil, either in a large Dutch oven or your fryer, to 360 degrees.
  5. Dip the chicken pieces into the the milk and egg mixture and then the flour/ panko mixture.  Do this one by one.  
  6. Fry until golden brown and dry on paper towels
  7. Serve plain with dipping sauce, OR toss in buffalo sauce (half melted butter and half Franks red hot).

This makes about 30 tenders, which don’t go as far as you might think! Any leftover chicken is great plain or on top of salads.

I serve these with homemade fries, which are easy peasy with a French fry cutter.  You simply cut russet potatoes using the fry cutter, soak them in ice water in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and fry them in the deep fryer.  They are fried twice.  First at 320 degrees for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden, then drained, and fried again at 375 for about 3 minutes until they are crispy as you would like.  Typically I do the first fry, set them aside, heat the oil to do the chicken, then do the second fry last.

The chicken can be breaded in the morning and stay in the fridge until dinner, along with the potatoes in their ice water bath.  Then all you have to do at dinner time is fry them.  Serve with a raw veggie to make life easy.

DSC02373.jpg

 


Honey Mustard Chicken with Bacon and Cheese

This is a meal we eat quite often because everyone likes it and the ingredients are always on hand.  I adapted it from my favorite cookbook, Taste of Home, Best Loved Recipes.  It is out of print and none of the other Taste of Home cookbooks are quite as good.

DSC02364.jpg

You will need:

For the marinade:

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

To assemble:

4 chicken breast cutlets

6 slices of bacon

1/2 cup cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Salt, pepper, and paprika

  1.  Mix up the marinade ingredients and divide the marinade in half. Marinate the chicken in half of the marinade, in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, for 2-4 hours (not too long because of the lemon juice).  Reserve the rest of the marinade.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375. Bring chicken to room temperature for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large cast iron skillet until partially cooked.  Drain bacon on paper towels
  3. Drain the the chicken.  Generously season with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Brown chicken in the same skillet, using bacon grease, on medium high, three minutes or so per side, until browned but not cooked through.
  4. Arrange chicken in single layer in a 9×13 baking dish.  Pour reserved marinade on top.  Layer cheese and bacon on top.
  5. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until bacon is crispy and chicken is cooked through.

I served this with a Caesar salad and roasted potatoes for a simple weeknight meal.  I always leave one cutlet without cheese and bacon for the kids to share.

DSC02366.jpg