Monster Cookie Cupcakes

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Who doesn’t love a good cupcake? They’re definitely super trendy right now – as demonstrated by all of the boutique cupcake bakeries popping up. At any rate, we are huge fans of cupcakes.

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Snickers Cupcakes, Cookie Dough Cupcakes, Mint Chocolate Cupcakes top my list. But I may have a new favorite….these Monster Cookie Cupcakes.

I grew up on my mom’s monster cookies. Mind you; my mom always (and still does) made sure that we ate healthy meals. But; she also has a sweet tooth. She will wake up a 2am and go down to the kitchen and eat half a cookie; or cut a small sliver from a full pan of bars, brownies, cake; etc. That being said, she would once in a while argue that a monster cookie; with all the oatmeal and peanut butter was a “healthy breakfast.” Those were great breakfasts.

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They contain peanut butter; I LOVE peanut butter. You know the old wive’s tale that eating peanut butter will cure hiccups? When I have hiccups, my go-to is peanut butter. I’ve been accused of just eating it, with no care of what happen to my hiccups. I plead the fifth….

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The frosting….oh my; the frosting. It’s monster cookie dough batter on top of a cupcake. I mean……

Ingredients:

*Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the Cookie Dough Frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (don’t use reduced fat or fat free!)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1- 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. oats
  • 3/4 bag plain mini M&Ms
  • 3/4 cup mini or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Use a hand or stand mixer to whisk together all of the cupcake ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Then, stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon or spatula.
  3. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, use a stand mixer dough paddle to beat together the cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter until smooth.
  5. Mix in the brown sugar, flour, vanilla, and oats.
  6. Mix in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time (1 and 1/2 cups worked out best for me).
  7. Finally add the M&Ms and Chocolate chips, mix well.
  8. Use a large cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to scoop out the cookie dough onto the completely cooled cupcakes.

I do have to warn you – I doubled both the cupcake and frosting recipes to make 24 cupcakes; and I had an ample amount of frosting left. You could likely double the cupcake batter, and use the one recipe of frosting. Enjoy!

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Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream

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I love Mexican food. It’s one food I could eat over and over again. If calories didn’t count, I would probably eat chips and salsa at every meal. Unfortunately, calories do count, and therefore we’re always looking for healthier versions of our favorite meals. Enter these Ancho Chile Tacos! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good enchilada topped in red sauce with melted cheese on top; but I also love a good “fresh” taco. This is just that!

These tacos do require a few steps, but let’s get started with the chicken first.

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Begin by slicing your chicken into 1/4 in strips (give or take). Then, toss the chicken with the ground chipotle peppers, garlic salt, and cumin.
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It may not appear to be delicious at this point, but bear with me, they’ll be quite delicious! Let this “marinate” for a few minutes, and then heat a large skillet over high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan. Tent with foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

Next, let’s make the Cilantro Slaw!

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In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon juice, cole slaw mix, green onions, cilantro, canola oil and salt. Toss to coat.

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Finally, we’ll prep the Avocado Cream. This is the most tedious part of the whole dish, but please make this….it’s definitely worth it. I promise!! Combine lime rind, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, sour cream, milk and avocado in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

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Finally, it’s time to assemble (and EAT!) the tacos. Layer tortillas with chicken, slaw and avocado cream. Then, get to eating. I promise you won’t regret it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 ripe peeled avocado, diced
  • 2 cups packaged cole slaw mix
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with chile powder, garlic salt, and cumin. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan.
  2. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon juice, slaw, onions, cilantro, oil, and salt, tossing to coat.
  3. Combine rind, 1 tablespoon juice, and next 3 ingredients (through avocado) in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
  4. Heat tortillas by wrapping in aluminum foil and placing in a 250 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top each tortilla with about 1 tablespoon avocado mixture and 1/4 cup slaw mixture.

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Adapted from Cooking Light.

Spicy Chicken Sausage, Kale & Orecchiette Soup

This soup. I don’t even know where to begin. It’s absolutely delicious…and it has kale; so it has to be 100% healthy, right? Maybe not….but at any rate, it’s better than many other dishes!
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What is there not to love about spicy chicken sausage, pasta, kale and Parmesan cheese? Oh yeah, AND red pepper flakes. To me, it is the ultimate.
After we first made this recipe, I sent it to my mom to try. She immediately made it for she and my dad. Now, let me preface. My dad is not what I would consider a “healthy eater.” He’s not big on salads as a meal, and would rather eat a nice big bowl of pasta or a juicy burger if he was going out to eat. “Soup” and “Kale” are not typically at the top of his vocabulary. My mom said he raved about this soup. He talked about it for days and asked her to make it again. You know that means it’s a good soup. We have loved it, and we hope you will as well.
Spicy Chicken Sausage, Kale & Orecchiette Soup
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Ingredients:
·      2 tablespoons olive oil
·      1 sweet onion, diced
·      1/4 teaspoon salt
·      1/4 teaspoon black pepper
·      1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
·      4 garlic cloves, minced
·      6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
·      1 pound spicy Chicken sausage
·      1 cup orecchiette pasta
·      4 cups fresh kale, remove from stems and torn into pieces
·      1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Directions:
  1. Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion with the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir. Cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, then add the chicken stock, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil.
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  2. While the stock is heating up, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casing (if it’s in casing) and add it to the skillet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the sausage is browned, about 6 to 8 minutes, breaking it into smaller pieces (or whatever size you desire) with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat.
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  3. When the stock is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, just until it’s al dente. Add the kale and stir well, cooking for 2 more minutes. Stir in the cheese, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. You can add all of the sausage into the soup or serve the soup into bowls and add the sausage on top per serving. Serve with extra cheese for grating.
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Adapted from How Sweet Eats