Raspberry Cupcakes

I love making cupcakes. Coincidentally, I also love eating them. The flavor combinations are endless, and there is always a new recipe or spin that I want to try. The lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream have long been one of my favorites, so I thought a twist on those would be fun. A raspberry twist!

Went a little lighter on the lemon flavor in this version by just adding a bit of zest, and I also added some chopped raspberries into my usual vanilla cupcake batter. I loved seeing berries dotted throughout the cake once they were baked. It added a surprise burst of berry color and flavor, and added even more moisture to an already deliciously moist cake.

For the frosting I just add a bit of raspberry puree to my traditional vanilla buttercream – it gives it a gorgeous pink hue and natural raspberry flavor. A garnish of a single fresh raspberry really sets them off just perfectly.

They really are beautiful, and taste even better than they look – if you can believe it. A wonderful way to celebrate this warm spring weather that is finally gracing us with it’s presence. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

If I had to choose a favorite cuisine, it would be Mexican. It’s something that I really came around to during my first pregnancy, and it definitely stuck with me. Sadly, our only local Mexican restaurant closed it’s doors a few months ago – which means we have to drive 40 minutes north or south to go out…and that’s really sucked this time around as far as pregnancy cravings are concerned.

I already have a few really good enchilada recipes up my sleeve, but sometimes you just need something super-quick and easy. That’s where these bean and cheese enchiladas come in. I almost always have all the ingredients on hand to make them, they come together quickly, and they’re filling and delicious.

If you’re worried about spice, don’t be – they aren’t spicy. The green chilies are very mild, but add a nice bite of flavor. I wrote the recipe using canned pinto beans, but I’ve been soaking my own beans lately and doing it the “old-fashioned” way. If you’re down with that – you’ll need about 3 cups of dried beans. I’ll cook them with a smoked ham hock, ham base, or some bacon for a little extra flavor. But,  rest assured they’re great with canned beans too! Also, take a few minutes and make your own enchilada sauce. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to throw together, and the results are so much more delicious (and economical!) than the stuff from the can. Just saying…

They’re gooey and delicious with the use of flour tortillas and plenty of cheese. We all really loved them, Andrew declaring that they’re his second favorite enchiladas – right behind the beef. Which is really saying something considering that my chicken version was the favorite meal in the house for quite a few years!

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

A good recipe for a soup that doesn’t take all day to make is a real lifesaver. Especially one as hearty and filling as this broccoli & cheese version. It takes only a few short minutes to throw together, and the flavors are just out of this world.

It’s rich and hearty, but still doesn’t weigh you down the way many dairy-based soups do. The addition of fresh broccoli really adds a freshness to the flavor, and you can never go wrong adding plenty of cheddar cheese to anything in my book.

My girlfriend came over for lunch about a month ago or so, and I made this served with some crusty bread and a salad. We both loved it, and I’ve been thinking about making it again ever since. It reheats great as well, which is always a plus. Would also be great for a last minute, easy dinner!

Source: slightly adapted from Yammie’s Noshery

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to the food and trade expo in Ocean City. It was great to sample all kinds of different new things, talk to folks at regional breweries, and just make new “foodie” friends in general. It made a great date day for Jon and I, and I think he had a little bit more fun than I did getting to sample all the delicious beers and cocktails that I couldn’t partake in – but I’m already looking forward to next year!

One product I was super excited to try was Natalie’s juices. They’re fresh pressed, and minimally pasteurized – leading to a juice that’s as fresh tasting as can be. I’d been following them on Instagram for a over a month now, after reading their review in Cook’s Illustrated – but hadn’t been able to find them locally in my rural location. Brandy, the regional rep, said that she’d gladly provide me with some samples to try out – and I gladly accepted!

We met at a local eatery in Salisbury last week, and she loaded me down with all kinds of goodies. Afterwards, William and I went inside and treated ourselves to a little snack – a cookie for him, and a slice of a delicious orange poppy seed cake for myself. I knew upon first bite that it was one that I had to come home and recreate, and what better time to do it with all that fresh-pressed citrus goodness waiting for me to do something with?

This cake is somewhere between a pound cake and a traditional cake – moist and dense, yet light and crumbly too. With the slight crunchy bites from the poppy seeds, it’s absolutely perfect. It’s baked in a Bundt pan, which makes it beautiful to begin with…but then I topped it with a delightful orange cream cheese buttercream for the “icing on the cake”, as it were. Everyone loved it!

Everyone also really loved the different varieties of juice Natalie’s sent us home with – everything from Strawberry Lemonade to Honey Tangerine Juice. I made a batch of lavender lemonade with the lemon juice they gave me last night, and it was so nice to have a taste of summertime without having to juice a million lemons on my own! Looking forward to trying their juices in some cocktails this summer, as I know that’s another spot where they will really shine.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Source: cake adapted from Your Home Based Mom