Archive for February 22, 2015

Cheery Chocolate Muffins

Until now, I had never considered making chocolate muffins. I mean, chocolate is meant for brownies, cakes, and cookies, right?? Lately though, I had been contemplating making chocolate muffins…and I’m so glad I did…they’re REALLY YUMMY!

This recipe is versatile too because you can use white chocolate on top instead of semi sweet, you can add chocolate chips to the batter, or you can sprinkle them with finely chopped nuts instead of the turbinado sugar. It all depends on your likes and, if you’re anything like me, it also depends on your mood. ūüôā

Happy cooking!

~Renee

Gathering all my ingredients together.

Gathering all my ingredients together.

I'm sifting the cocoa powder because it had lumps. I don't have a sifter but this strainer works really well. (I've used it this way for years.)

I’m sifting the cocoa powder because it had lumps. I don’t have a sifter but this strainer works really well. (I’ve used it this way for years.)

Here, I'm whisking together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon.

Here, I’m whisking together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon.

Whisking the egg and oil...then I add the milk.

Whisking the egg and oil…then I add the milk.

I mixed the batter just til everything was combined...not too much so they'll be light & fluffy. (The batter will still have lumps.)

I mixed the batter just til everything was combined…not too much so they’ll be light & fluffy. (The batter will still have lumps.)

I filled the muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter. This picture shows I used paper liners but the muffins tend to stick to them so from now on, I'll make them without the liners.

I filled the muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter. This picture shows I used paper liners but the muffins tend to stick to them so from now on, I’ll make them without the liners.

Just out of the oven...they look SO yummy!

Just out of the oven…they look SO yummy!

In this pic, I've topped the muffins with the melted chocolate and I'm sprinkling on the sugar. (They would also be great sprinkled with finely chopped nuts!)

In this pic, I’ve topped the muffins with the melted chocolate and I’m sprinkling on the sugar. (They would also be great sprinkled with finely chopped nuts!)

Cheery Chocolate Muffins

1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa

1 Tbls Baking Powder

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 Cup Sugar

6oz Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate*

2 Large Eggs, beaten

1/3 Cup Sunflower Oil (or vegetable oil)

1 Cup Milk

1 Cup Semi Sweet or White Chocolate Chips, optional

1/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar, for sprinkling

1/4 Cup Nuts, finely chopped (optional, for sprinkling)

1. Preheat oven to 400¬įF. Spray 12 muffin cups/tins with cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar. If using chocolate chips in the batter, add them now.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil. Then, whisk in the milk. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just til everything’s blended. (Don’t over mix!)

4. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake at 400¬įF for 18-20 minutes or til they spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Remove muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Place the baking chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt it using 30 second bursts, stirring after each burst. When chocolate is melted and smooth, put a dollop on top of each muffin and spread it slightly. Sprinkle each with the turbinado sugar. (Or nuts if you prefer.) Serve and enjoy!

*Can substitute white baking chocolate.

**RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY RENEE’S GOURMETS**

©Renee Norris 2015

All rights reserved. 

Yummy Hawaiian Chicken

This is a recipe I had posted on my first blog a while back and hadn’t transferred here yet. It’s a simple but OH-SO-DELICIOUS¬†chicken recipe. In addition to being pretty easy, it doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Happy cooking!

~Renee

Start by adding the chicken to the sauce mixture. You can let it marinate in the frig, right in the pan or in the container of your choice.

Start by adding the chicken to the sauce mixture. You can let it marinate in the frig, right in the pan or in the container of your choice.

Heat the marinated chicken and sauce mixture in a saucepan. Add the remaining pineapple juice (mixed with the flour) and heat til it's thick and bubbly.

Heat the marinated chicken and sauce mixture in a saucepan. Add the remaining pineapple juice (mixed with the flour) and heat til it’s thick and bubbly.

This is really yummy served over rice (or cilantro lime rice) and a garden salad!

This is really yummy served over rice (or cilantro lime rice) and a garden salad!

Hawaiian Chicken
1 1/2-2 lbs boneless chicken breasts
1 cup pineapple juice, divided
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce*
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1. Mix 1/2 cup pineapple juice, the soy sauce, and the brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces and add to the pineapple juice mixture. Allow it to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
2. In medium saucepan, heat undrained chicken mixture on medium high just until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Mix the flour and remaining 1/2 cup pineapple juice until no lumps remain and add to the chicken.
3. On medium high heat, cook, stirring frequently, til almost boiling again. Reduce heat & simmer until chicken is no longer pink and sauce is thickened. (approximately 10 minutes) If sauce gets too thick, add some water or more pineapple juice til it’s the¬†consistency you like.¬†
4. Serve over rice. (A garden salad is a nice addition.)
*You can use a little more soy sauce, to your taste.
**RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY RENEE’S GOURMETS**
©Renee Norris 2015
All rights reserved.

Mug Cakes

Lately I’ve run across some recipes for mug cakes. Before that, I hadn’t ever thought about such a thing. They’re really neat! They make wonderful gifts that aren’t expensive. I played around with it to make my own. You can adapt it to your taste or what you happen to have on hand when you decide to make it. (If you’re industrious, you can even make your cake mix from scratch!)

When you do give these as a gift, you can give the person the mug with the cake mix and glaze mix inside and include the directions or, like I did, you can bake it in the mug, frost it and decorate it first. Either way, they’re gonna love it!

I experimented with with different amounts of ingredients. My first attempt didn’t “rise to the occasion” but the second did. If you have an over sized mug, just add more ingredients.

This recipe is easily adapted using whatever cake mix and pudding you want. I used these because, well, that's all I had on hand at the moment.

This recipe is easily adapted using whatever cake mix and pudding you want.

I put the cake mix and pudding mix into a bowl and whisked them together really well. This serves as the mug cake's batter. It'll make approximately 8-9 mug cakes.

I put the cake mix and pudding mix into a bowl and whisked them together really well. This serves as the mug cake’s batter. It’ll make approximately 8-9 mug cakes.

Separating the egg yolks from the whites. I use the left over yolks for another recipe or microwave it for our lil Dachshund Scooby. He LOVES that! ;)

Separating the egg yolks from the whites. I use the left over yolks for another recipe or microwave it for our lil Dachshund Scooby. He LOVES that! ūüėČ

With a fork, I mixed together the cake mixture, egg white, vanilla, oil and water. (Don't over-mix this or it'll be a little "tough".)

With a fork, I mixed together the cake mixture, egg white, vanilla, oil and water. (Don’t over-mix this or it’ll be a little “tough”.)

Here's my first attempt in the microwave...

Here’s my first attempt in the microwave…

It had cooked up nicely but, when it cooled, it kinda shrank. Back to the ole drawing board...

It had cooked up nicely but, when it cooled, it kinda shrank. Back to the ole drawing board…

Beginning my second attempt...in this one, I used a lil more ingredients.

Beginning my second attempt…in this one, I used a lil more ingredients.

Attempt one is on the left, attempt two on the right. Different sized mugs will need different amounts of the ingredients. They ALWAYS taste good though! (Is it true that the mistakes have fewer calories?? I wish!)

Attempt one is on the left, attempt two on the right. Different sized mugs will need different amounts of the ingredients. They ALWAYS taste good though! (Is it true that the mistakes have fewer calories?? I wish!)

Mug Cakes

1 Cake Mix (any flavor)

1 (4-serving size) Instant Pudding Mix (any flavor)

Zip Lock Baggies 

Glaze Ingredients (for each serving):

1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 1/2 tsp dry flavoring (cocoa powder, dry lemonade mix, dry instant breakfast drink mix, etc.)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake mix and pudding mix. Measure 1/2 cup of the cake mix into each plastic baggie.

2. For each mug cake, you’ll need a baggie of glaze ingredients. Mix (in each baggie) 1/3 cup powdered sugar and 1 1/2 tsp dry flavoring of choice.

3. In a coffee mug, put 1 cake mix packet and 1 glaze mix packet. Include a small card with the directions: With a fork, whisk together the cake mix packet, 1 beaten egg white, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbls oil, and 1 Tbls water. Microwave for 2 minutes. Whisk together the glaze packet and 1 1/2 tsp water. Pour glaze over cake in mug. Enjoy!

*NOTE: For flavor variations, you can use:

*Devil’s Food Cake Mix with Chocolate Pudding

*Lemon Cake Mix with Lemon Pudding

*Butterscotch Cake Mix with Butterscotch Pudding

*Pineapple Cake Mix with Coconut Pudding

**RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY RENEE’S GOURMETS**

©Renee Norris 2015

All rights reserved.

Slow Cooker BBQ Sandwiches

I like barbecue sauce but I don’t normally CRAVE BBQ sandwiches…with the exception of this sandwich…as I was adding captions to the photos, I felt like I just NEEDED one!

Since this recipe is done in the slow cooker and has just a little prep right before you get to enjoy it, it’s a great choice for a busy week night. It’s also adaptable for you and your family…you can substitute beef for the deer meat and you can play around with the spices to suit y’all’s taste! I’m sure it would even be delicious with chicken too.

Just call Slow Cooker BBQ Sandwiches a win-win!

The salt, granulated garlic, basil and beef broth to add to the meat before cooking.

The salt, granulated garlic, basil and beef broth to add to the meat before cooking.

Here, I put all the pieces of venison into the pot of my slow cooker. (You can also use beef if you prefer.)

Here, I put all the pieces of venison into the pot of my slow cooker. (You can also use beef if you prefer.)

Adding in the beef broth...then I'll add the spices and cook it nice and slow for 8-9 hrs.

Adding in the beef broth…then I’ll add the spices and cook it nice and slow for 8-9 hrs.

This pic is after I shredded the meat and mixed in the BBQ sauce.

This pic is after I shredded the meat and mixed in the BBQ sauce.

Such a DELICIOUS sandwich!!! We had leftovers, even after we ate it a couple times, so I froze it so we can have it later...another super-easy, super-good meal!

Such a DELICIOUS sandwich!!! We had leftovers, even after we ate it a couple times, so I froze it so we can have it later…another super-easy, super-good meal!

Slow Cooker BBQ Sandwiches

4 lbs Venison (or beef), cut into small pieces

1/4 tsp Salt (or to taste)

1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic

1/4 tsp Basil

32oz Beef Broth

Hamburger Buns (for serving)

18oz Bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce (or your choice)

Place the meat into your slow cooker. Sprinkle on the salt, granulated garlic, and basil. Pour in enough beef broth to just cover the meat. 

Cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for about 5 hours, til the meat is very tender. Remove  meat from the slow cooker and put it into a bowl.  (Reserve the juices.)

Shred the meat using two forks. Mix in the bottle of BBQ sauce. Add some of the juices to make it moist. (It should still be pretty thick.) 

Serve on hamburger buns.

**RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY RENEE’S GOURMETS**

©Renee Norris 2015

All rights reserved.