Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

Cheaters Easy, Creamy Chicken & Dumplings



I was never a fan of chicken and dumplings growing up. It was a very heavy dish the way my mom made it. As southerners would say, “Bless her heart… she was a lovely woman, but she might could do something other than cook”.

I’ve said before, my mom made good lasagna considering she was a depression era southern woman. She also made excellent lemon meringue pie. And her fried chicken is something I still haven’t been able to match. But she had her flops too. Say “Garbage Soup” in my or my brothers presence and we’re likely to recoil away and gag. As for her chicken and dumplings, looking back, I can see why it turned out greasy and heavy. Mom just boiled up that chicken until it was tender and then made her Bisquick dumplings right on top, without getting rid of the grease.

While I’d give my right arm to eat her cooking again, I do make most things differently than she did. I used to make chicken and dumplings for the family her way and I could never eat it. So I started cheating. I had some leftover chicken and just started tossing things in a pot with it, then topped it with, yep, Bisquick dumplings. I love those far more than I do the rolled out ones. Over the years, it’s morphed into this dish and I finally can eat chicken and dumplings again. Plus… it’s so darn quick because you use either leftover chicken or a store bought rotisserie one!

You know the drill…

Cheaters Easy & Creamy Chicken & Dumplings

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, chopped into bite sized pieces (or about 4 cups of leftover chicken, chopped up)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 14 ounce cans chicken broth
  • 2 10.75 ounce cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 3 cups biscuit mix (Bisquick)
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, saute the chopped onion and celery in the 3 tablespoons butter until they are soft and limp, about 7 minutes. Pour the chicken broth and soup in with the veggies. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add in the chicken and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for ten minutes or so; long enough to heat everything up nicely. Stir in the cream and turn the heat up enough to bring the soup to a boil.
  3. Combine the biscuit mix and milk in a medium bowl. You’ll have a thick pasty sort of mixture. Use a large spoon to drop large balls of dumpling dough onto the hot soup. You should get about 8 to 10 dumplings. Snuggle them all in there right next to each other.
  4. Cover the pot and cook until the dumplings are tender and fluffy and cooked throughout, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with plenty of black pepper and there may be some out there who want to add some salt. I personally find it salty enough without adding extra.

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Creamy Chocolate Banana Bars With A Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

Creamy Chocolate Banana Bars With A Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

Creamy Chocolate Banana Bars With A Toasted Marshmallow Meringue



 

I’ve decided to become a street mime. I’m not sure how this will work in my rural area, though. The only ones who will see me “miming” (yes, that is actually a word; go figure) would be the 7 outside cats, some hawks and vultures and maybe a coyote or two if I mime at night. Do they carry cash to tip me with or would I need to carry a credit card machine with me everywhere? These are the things one must think about when contemplating a second job… or third in my case. Should I buy the typical black outfit or go the modern route and wear pink sequined leotards and a polka dotted blouse?

In case it isn’t readily apparent, I’m in what we at our house simply call, “a mood”. A mood can mean anything form “I’m having a crappy day. Come near me, talk to me or breathe in my direction and I’m liable to bite your head off” to “maybe that second beer wasn’t such a good idea on an empty stomach since now I’m waltzing around the house singing, “I’m Soooooo hurtttt” to “I’m in a very warped mood today due to far too much caffeine and am planning to become a mime”. I’ll let you guess where we’re at today.

I vacillated on this dessert so much that I probably came across like John McCain when it comes time to decide which political party to work for. First, I wanted to do lemon; then I wanted to do chocolate, then I thought maybe butterscotch, then lemon again. I finally settled on chocolate, if only to shut up all 14 of my inner voices. The arguing was getting on my nerves.

When I made the marshmallow meringue for this, it suddenly popped into my head to turn it into toasted marshmallows. They’re one of my favorite snacks, though I don’t actually have them often.

These bars are quite good, if I do say so myself. A crisp crust, topped with banana slices and a dark, sweet chocolate pudding, then followed up with a fluffy marshmallowy meringue. They’re also fairly easy. The most time consuming parts are when you have to stir the cooking pudding and then whisk the heating meringue. Don’t let the stovetop parts scare you away from this. If you can stir, you can make this dessert.

You know the drill….

Mrs. Cupcake, who needs to give her 6 year old a bath because he got marshmallow topping in his hair.

Creamy Chocolate Banana Bars With A Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

  • Crust-
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup ( a stick and a half) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate filling-
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten (hold onto the whites)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 bananas, sliced (don’t slice them until you’re ready to pour the pudding in or they will get brown)
  • Marshmallow Meringue-
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square pan with non stick foil.
  2. Prepare your crust- In a medium bowl, combine the softened 3/4 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla extract. Use a heavy spoon to mix them until they are smooth. Add in the flour and mix until it is a cohesive, somewhat crumbly mixture. There shouldn’t be any dry flour in the bottom of the bowl. Press the mixture onto the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake at 350 until it is golden brown around the edges, about 17 to 20 minutes.
  3. While the crust bakes, make your pudding- combine the milk, cream and chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir and if the chocolate isn’t fully melted and combined with the milk, microwave for another 30 seconds.
  4. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepot.  Whisk well. You don’t want any lumps of cornstarch in the mixture. Slowly add in the milk/ chocolate mix. Start slowly, then you can pour quicker once you get about 1/3 of it in there.
  5. Whisk a few spoonfuls of this into the beaten egg yolks, one spoon at a time. This is just to temper the yolks in case the milk is warm enough that it might scramble the eggs. Then pour the eggs into the milk mixture, whisking the whole time.
  6. Place the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the pudding bubbles and thickens. Whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Pour the pudding into a bowl and cover the top of it with plastic wrap, making sure it is touching the top of the pudding. Refrigerate and let chill until cold, at least an hour.
  7. When chilled, layer the sliced bananas over the crust. then pour the cold pudding over them. If planning to serve right away, make your marshmallow meringue. If not, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  8. Marshmallow meringue- Start a pot of water simmering. Combine the egg whites, cream of tarter and sugar in a smaller pot. Place over, but not touching, the pot of simmering water. Whisking constantly, heat the egg white up until, when you place a finger in it, it is just on the verge of uncomfortable, about 115 to 120 degrees. Stir in the vanilla extract
  9. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl (you can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) and beat on low speed until it is very foamy, then turn the speed up to medium and beat until it stand in peaks that droop slightly but don’t drip off of the beater
  10. Spread the marshmallow meringue over the chocolate pudding, making decorative whorls in it. Using a kitchen torch, holding it close to the meringue, lightly brown the top of the meringue.  Serve immediately and refrigerate the leftovers.

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Game Day Foods!

Hey there everybody! While I don’t like football, I know that many of you do and are looking for snacks, sweets and the like to serve to the hungry hordes that will be descending on your home next Sunday. So I thought I’d throw together a post.

You all enjoy the game! I’ll be the one over here watching Downton Abbey and eating junk food.
PicMonkey Collage



Spicy two Meat Slow Cooker Chili

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili

Easy Caramel Pecan Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies

Overloaded Pizza Potato Skins
I know the photo for these stinks, but the skins are wonderful!
Overstuffed Pizza Potato Skins

Vegetarian Chili

Quick,Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Quick,Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Mini Baked Turkey/Bacon Club Sandwiches

Mini Baked Turkey Bacon Club Sandwiches

Mini Baked Turkey Bacon Club Sandwiches

Quick & Easy Turkey Bacon Cheese Chowder
Quick & Easy Turkey, Bacon & Cheese Chowder 2

Coconut Lime Pound Cake

Coconut Lime Pound Cake

Coconut Lime Pound Cake

Chocolate Covered Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Covered Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Covered Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sticky Asian Chicken Thighs

Sticky Asian Chicken Thighs

Sticky Asian Chicken Thighs

Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

Berry Peachy Sangria

Berry Peachy Sangria

Berry Peachy Sangria

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip & Toffee Cookies

Browned-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Toffee-Cookies-893x1024

Easy Caramel Pecan Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies

Easy Caramel Brownies



I first saw this recipe back in like 1984 or 1985 or so, just after I got married to my ex. I was deep into the newlywed “cut out recipes and save them” phase. I got it from, of all places, TV Guide. This was back when TV guide was interesting. It was about the size of a Readers Digest magazine, had a fair amount of articles in it and a nice synopsis of practically every show that came on. They also had a piece at times highlighting celebrity recipes. This one came from John Davidson (yes, I realize fully half of you have no idea who he is, lol while the rest of you are googling his name as you think, “Wow. Is he even still alive? He’s like 200 years old, right?”)) and was aptly titled “John Davidsons Brownies”. The TV Guide people were somewhat lacking in imagination. I guess they used all their creativity describing episodes of M*A*S*H or The Waltons and had none left for recipe titles.

Since then, it has, as most recipes do anymore, swept the web under many different guises with some people (who obviously forget that the rest of us can google) going so far as to say they made these up. You can find it under “Turtle Brownies”, “Cake Mix Brownies” and 900 other names. But it’s still always the same basic recipe. This is one of those times when you don’t want to try to be fancy. No homemade caramel sauce here… no from scratch cake. Normally, I would balk at wrapped cheap caramels, but know what? They totally work here. I hadn’t made these in forever and I had forgotten how good they are. They are intensely chocolatey (in part because I use a chocolate fudge cake mix, not the German chocolate one originally called for), gooey from the caramel and they have a nice crunch from the nuts. I’m not usually a nut person (just nutty personally) but they also help cut the sweetness in the brownies. That way you can eat more of them! :-D

About all I do differently from the original is the cake mix flavor, plus I use half and half rather than the evaporated milk it used and I add about a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter.

So what do we have here? Intensely chocolatey brownies, gooey caramel and crunchy nuts. And they’re so easy you can let the kids make them and you can sit and watch old M*A*S*H reruns.  Yeah, you want these.

You know the drill…

Easy Caramel Brownies

  • 1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix (or whatever chocolate flavor trips your trigger)
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 14 ounce bag caramels (I use Kraft)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 350 oven (the toasting is optional, but it’s a really good idea)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon (or whatever, just do this by hand) combine the cake mix, 1/4 cup half and half, vanilla extract and the melted butter.. It will be a fairly stiff batter; you didn’t do anything incorrectly. Press about half of this (may take a touch more) into the bottom of the prepared pan. It will be a thin layer.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes while you prepare the caramels.
  4. Unwrap the caramels and put them, along with the 1/2 cup of half and half, in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one minute, stir, then microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until they are melted and smooth. Mine take about  two and a half minutes.
  5. Take the brownies out, sprinkle the pecans on top of them, then the chocolate chips. Pour the caramel sauce in an even layer over this. Then, use your hands to break up small pieces of the remaining brownie batter and place it all over the caramel. It will NOT cover the whole thing. You’ll end up with a rather cobblestone look.
  6. Place the pan back in the oven and continue baking until the top is firm and set and the caramel is bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool for at least an hour, then pull them out using the foil and cut into pieces. They are fairly rich, so it doesn’t take much to satisfy anyone but the most addicted chocoholic. In other words, me. Heck, just cut big squares. Who am I kidding?

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Overstuffed Pizza Potato Skins

Overstuffed Pizza Potato Skins

Overstuffed Pizza Potato Skins



 

Ok, I mentioned these like a week ago on my facebook page. Oops. I kinda forgot to post them or even make them until tonight. Can I blame old age, senility, six kids and the damage they have done to my brain cells? My husband and his snoring? Global warming? I got spit on by a camel at the fair once? Some psychological issue that hasn’t yet been discovered and named?
Ok… sorry. I’m done now. But all of the above are still perfectly valid excuses. Just sayin’.

Back in the day, I think I’ve mentioned before, I worked at T.J.Applebees (now just Applebees). One of the things they did then were ten cent wings and ten cent potato skins. Yes, grasshopper, I am so old that wings and potato skins used to go for a dime during happy hour. Excuse me while I go take my Geritol. They also did one dollar pitchers of margaritas and I have many very vague memories of sitting with the other waitresses and drinking a pitcher or six. Ahhh, good times, good times. I think.

Theirs were the typical skins; cheddar cheese, bacon bits, green onions. Yummy as can be, but c’mon, do you REALLY think I’m going to make them that way? I’m the woman that made these potato skins. After all this time, you all know I can’t be normal.

So, me being me, as opposed to me being say Sandra Bullock or Michelle Pfeiffer because God decided that I should look more like the love child of Phyllis Diller and Tiny Tim, I made them differently. I had been craving pizza recently and we couldn’t afford take out, so I used some ingredients I had here at home to make…well, the love child of potato skins and supreme pizza. My husband was like “I don’t know about this… I’m not much on potato skins”. He’s had four in the last 30 minutes. I am of course, gloating. Marital gloat…. it’s almost better than chocolate.

These have a few steps, but they’re quite easy to make, even for multi step. Each step is simple stuff like sauteing veggies or scooping out potatoes. I have faith that you can handle it. :-p I made this for 8 potatoes (16 skins), but it’s easily increased or decreased. If you end up with a little bit extra cheese and/or meat/veggie mixture, it makes a wonderful pizza omelet.

You know the drill… :-)

Mrs. Cupcake… who is bloated from too much cheese.

Overloaded Pizza Potato Skins

  • 8 medium potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 small onion, sliced in half, then thinly sliced into half rings
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon squeeze basil (available in the produce section)
  • 1 5 ounce package mini pepperoni slices
  • 1 4 ounce package Italian Sausage crumbles (by the lunch meats)
  • 3 small Roma (plum) tomatoes, cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1 15 ounce can or jar of pizza sauce ; use your favorite.
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and mixed with
  • 1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Rub each potato lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Pierce each one to prevent a lovely little steam explosion in the oven, then place on the middle rack of the oven. bake until a fork can easily pierce the center of the potatoes, about 40 minutes.
  2. Remove from the oven, cut each potato in half and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes.
  3. Use a small spoon and carefully scoop out the insides of each potato half, being sure to leave a thin shell around the edge so the potato isn’t too fragile to handle. Reserve the scooped mashed potato for another use- This is a good recipe to use it for
  4. Turn the oven to 450, then smear the edge and inside of each potato half with a small amount of olive oil. Place back in the oven and let bake until the edges of the potatoes are getting crispy and lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium pan, pour 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add in the sliced onions, sliced green peppers and garlic. Saute over medium heat , stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft and the onions are lightly browned. Add in the sausage, squeeze basil and the pepperoni; continue cooking until the meats are heated through. Add in the tomatoes and cook just enough to heat them; you don’t want them getting mushy. Set aside when heated.
  6. Remove the potatoes from the oven and turn oven back down to 350. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the insides of each skin with pizza sauce, about a teaspoon or so in each.
  7. Sprinkle each one with a small amount of the mixed cheeses, then spoon some of the meat/veggie mixture into each one. Lay directly next to each other (they help support each other and it prevents them from toppling over in the oven) in a baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the tops of the skins.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot, with the remaining pizza sauce warmed and served on the side as a dipping sauce.

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Cheesecake Filled Blueberry Citrus Muffins

Cheesecake Filled Blueberry Citrus Muffins

Cheesecake Filled Blueberry Citrus Muffins



I realized a few days ago that I haven’t done a muffin post in a while. GASP! Forgive me!? I mean, my blog IS called From Cupcakes To Caviar and what are muffins (in my world anyway) other than cupcakes without the frosting? Because Lord above knows that they aren’t healthy when made by me. I’m the only person alive who can take what should be a wholesome breakfast style food and make it into a caloric mine field, sure to clog your arteries and send you into a sugar coma. I like to think of this ability as one of my finer, more endearing qualities, along with my innate ability to make stuffed animals talk,  charm old people with my politeness and toss and turn in bed so much that my husband can’t sleep. Ok, so maybe that last one isn’t so endearing.

I have been craving fresh fruit lately and am knee deep into a huge orange phase. I can’t get enough of them. This usually hits me about this time of the Winter. Unfortunately though, about the only fresh fruit WORTH eating are the orange varieties. The rest are all shipped in from places like Mars or Venus, not to mention who in their right mind pays 5 bucks for like 25 blueberries in a carton so small an ant couldn’t make a home in it?

So, since I was craving blueberries (in January. Don’t use me as a food role model) and citrus, and knew I needed to make some nice healthy muffins *coughcough*, I combined the ideas, just using frozen berries. But then I totally blew the calorie budget (and I have a really really really really high budget. Call me the Donald Trump of calories.) on a cheesecake filling. But it’s so worth it. These are moist, tender blueberry muffins, with a lovely citrus edge, then you break one open and there lies a creamy cheesecake-ish filling. You can thank me later. For now, go make muffins. And don’t get involved in playing Monster Busters on facebook and forget your muffins and slightly overcook them. I…ummm… heard of someone who did this once. Yeah, that’s it. Heard of someone.

You know the drill…. :-D

This makes 24 muffins so feel free to cut it in half. I make a lot so that we have some to give away but if that’s not your thing, just make half. Or make them all and freeze half for another time.

Cheesecake Filled Blueberry Citrus Muffins

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4 eggs, room temp
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 12 ounce bag frozen blueberries
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup blueberry or other berry preserves
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  1. Line 24 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, blueberry preserves, teaspoon each of orange and lemon zest and flour. Stir well to combine and then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange and lemon zests. Whisk to combine.
  4. In a large measuring cup, combine the eggs, milk, melted butter and extracts. Stir just until combined; it will still have lumps.
  5. Carefully fold in the frozen blueberries.
  6. Fill the prepared muffin cups half full. Add a dollop (about 2 teaspoons or so) of the cream cheese mixture on top of the muffin batter. Use the rest of the batter to finish filling the muffin cups to the tops of the cups. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are a nice golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the tin for about a minute, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

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Vegetarian Chili

Simple,Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Simple,Hearty Vegetarian Chili



Yes, you read that correctly. Quit sitting there open mouthed looking like I just kicked a puppy. There is actually *gasps and sits here open mouthed looking like someone just kicked a puppy* a healthy recipe on my blog. A vegetarian one no less! I told you lovely people that as I began posting more, I would begin trying to make some of the recipes  healthy *shudders*, maybe even vegetarian.

My son Zachary was recently trying the “Daniel Fast”. This is a fast many Christians use at the beginning of each year. It’s based on the experiences of Daniel, a prophet from the Old Testament of the Bible. It’s a very strict vegan diet that I myself couldn’t handle for more than say, five minutes. I give props to my boy for attempting it. This fast makes vegen-ism look fun, that’s how strict it is :-P I did my best to help him during his fast by making some dishes that he could enjoy while the rest of us kept on with our normal eating habits. Which, btw, there is nothing so guilt inducing to a mother as having dessert when ones child is on a strict fast, lol.

One of the things I made for him that he liked was this vegetarian chili. Not a speck of meat in this *sobs quietly*. If one wanted to make a nice hearty veggie chili WITH meat, it wouldn’t take much to brown some up and add it into this. But you didn’t hear me say that and I’ll deny it to the death if asked. *gnaws on a bone as I speak*

Seriously though, this is pretty yummy. It’s a very hearty, filling chili, wonderful with cornbread. This is great for Meatless Monday, if you do that, wonderful for a game day if you have people who prefer to watch the meat intake or just because you love it’s flavor and feel like making it, no reasons needed.

You know the drill…. :-)

Mrs. Cupcake, who is suddenly craving a steak

Vegetarian Chili

  • 4 zucchini, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons from a jar of  chopped jalapenos)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 28 ounce can Italian stewed tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 15 ounce can seasoned pinto beans, undrained (obviously no meat flavor in them if you’re trying to keep this vegetarian)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can chili beans, undrained (we like the hot style; use what you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cilantro, cheese (vegetarian non dairy cheese if preferred) and green onions for garnish
  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, stirring often, saute the onions, all the peppers, the celery and the garlic in the oil until soft and limp, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except of course for the garnish ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Taste for seasoning, adjust what’s needed (salt, a touch more sugar, some hot sauce if it’s not spicy enough for your crowd), then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes (time enough to get some cornbread made!), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. If you want a thicker chili, just let this simmer longer.
  4. Serve with garnishes and a lovely slice of cornbread or some crackers. Whether you add a hamburger on the side is entirely up to you. :-D

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Mini Baked Turkey Bacon Club Sandwiches

Mini Baked Turkey Bacon Club Sandwiches

Mini Baked Turkey Bacon Club Sandwiches



I have yet another confession to make. I don’t like sports. Well, I DO watch maybe one or two Chicago Cubs games a year, but only home games. It’s a nostalgia thing for me. After one or two, watching them lose gets depressing and even nostalgia isn’t enough to stop the facepalm from happening. But even being from Chicago (if I ever call it “Chi-Town”, please smack me upside the head), they are the only team I like and watch. No Bears, no Sox, no whateverelsetheymayhave. And other teams and sports from far away lands like California or New York? Fuhgeddaboutit!

I DO however like this time of year for the snacks like these upscale potato skins . I tend to be a grazer when it comes to eating so foods like this bruschetta are also perfect for me. Sit me in front of the game with a book or my kindle hidden in my lap with some snacks, rouse me when it’s time for the fun commercials and I’m perfectly content to pretend to cheer for the home team… or whatever team it is we’re supposed to be cheering for.

This type of mini sandwich has been all over the web for the last few years. I have absolutely no idea at this point who started the trend, but I love them. They are usually a ham and cheese version with a simple mustard, butter and poppy seed sauce poured over them. I wanted to pump up the flavor some though. And what is one way to pump up flavor? ADD BACON!!!  Bacon is my reason for living. I know many of you will agree.

I made this into a club version of that sandwich. Turkey, ham, cheese and bacon. BUT…yes, there is a but… then I added a lovely garlic/Parmesan sauce over the top. I am pretty sure that one of these sandwiches meets your daily caloric needs for about 3 weeks. But they are totally worth it. My husband ate about 6 of them. So now I don’t have to feed him for like 4.5 months, right?

These are delightfully messy and buttery- in other words, perfect guy and kid food as well as perfect game food. But you could probably go down a bit on the butter and still be fine.

You know the drill…. :-)

Mrs. Cupcake, who is going to smell like garlic butter for a week.

Mini Baked Turkey Bacon Club Sandwiches

  • 16 dinner rolls (I used potato rolls- I’ve found them at Wal-mart, Aldis, Meijer, Kroger… most big chains)
  • 1 lb good quality bacon, cooked until just crisp
  • 1/2 lb thin sliced deli ham
  • 1/2 lb thin sliced deli turkey
  • 1 lb of your favorite sliced cheese (I used 1/2 lb each of Havarti and Muenster)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 finely minced garlic cloves (or sub 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (while I usually use fresh, the powdery jarred version is fine for these)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch pan. Place the bottom half of the rolls in the pan. I squish 6 down each side then place 4 all snuggled up down the middle of the pan in between the two lines.
  2. Layer the rolls with the bacon, turkey, ham and cheese. Place the top half of the rolls on the sandwiches
  3. Add the garlic (or garlic powder) , Parmesan, onion powder and Worcestershire to the melted butter. Stir well to combine. Pour the butter mixture evenly over the tops  of the sandwiches, spreading it around if needed. The Parmesan makes this clump a little, so just spoon it around.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the sandwiches are lightly browned on top and the cheese is bubbly. let cool for about 3 minutes, then slice in between the sandwiches and serve

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Easy Creamy Banana Pudding

Easy Creamy Banana Pudding

Easy Creamy Banana Pudding



A little bit ago (which, in the south, can mean anywhere from ten minutes to two weeks ago) I asked my facebook fans which they would prefer- Creamy Banana Pudding or Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Sauce. While I didn’t get many comments, the apple cake won by one vote. But I still wanted to do the banana pudding, too. This is one of those desserts that I used to make all the time when my older, now grown kids, were little. It’s easy, it’s tasty and when you have three to five kids running around, you need easy. You also need copious amounts of Xanax, intensive therapy and cheap booze, but that’s a post for another time. But for some reason, it fell by the wayside. I think that sometimes I get so caught up in making new treats, making something different, that I forget that my family loves the old standards too.

This isn’t my recipe. It comes from the Eagle Brand site, although when I started using it back in the day, there WAS no Eagle brand site… there was barely an internet lol. I got it from a magazine. The only thing I do differently is to add some vanilla extract to the mixture. It just adds a little something to it. You can also do this with instant banana, French vanilla, cheesecake or white chocolate puddings. It doesn’t change it enough to make it a sacrilege :-P but it just makes it a little different.

The difference between this and the old fashioned version is technique. The old ones uses a cooked pudding base. It’s delicious but more time consuming. This one uses instant pudding that is whisked together with some other deliciously creamy ingredients and then layered. You can layer it in a large bowl or individual servings. For the sake of my waistline, I did individual servings this time. Otherwise, my mind says, “Honest Janet, this 8 inch thick layer of pudding that is practically overflowing the bowl is perfectly acceptable!”

You know the drill… get to cooking. Or not cooking in this particular case.

Creamy Banana Pudding

  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla (or banana or cheesecake or snozzberry) pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 3 to 5 bananas, sliced and dipped in a mix of lemon juice and water and drained on paper towels (prevents them from turning brown)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk. Add in the pudding mix and whisk until well blended.
  2. Chill for five minutes, then fold in the whipped cream.
  3. If using a large bowl, layer about one cup of the pudding in the bowl, then top with the desired amount of vanilla wafers, then about a third of the sliced bananas. Repeat this layering two more times.
  4. If doing individual servings, do the same layering, but in separate glasses. When doing individual ones, I also like to coarsely crush the cookies too because whole cookies just don’t fit well in smaller glasses.
  5. Chill for about an hour or so, then serve.

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Loaded Baked Potato Bread

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

Loaded Baked Potato Bread



I love fresh yeast breads. Store bought, not so much. I’ll see one that sounds good; some “Artisan” type (also known as “we slapped the artisan label on this so we could charge you more”), bring it home, eat half a slice, say “meh”, then forget about it and the kids eat it. But most homemade breads I can eat my weight in… and trust me, that’s a LOT of bread. Russ decided to try his hand at bread baking the other day and I have to say, he did well for a first timer. He made whole wheat, which can be tricky for an experienced baker and he did fine.  And this is a man for whom cooking means throwing a frozen burrito into the microwave. Seriously. When I met the man, he was practically living on frozen burritos and Doritos. It was a sad sad state of affairs. But I’ve since fattened him up and spoiled him for crap foods like that.

So, since he made his whole wheat bread, I had to follow up; he got me craving fresh bread. I wasn’t sure what to make; obviously not whole wheat. So I went the decadent direction. Go figure…. me…making something not so healthy. Whoda thunk it?

I have made potato bread for years. I have always loved that it’s a slightly softer bread, not as crusty as some others.  But even there, I wanted to play some. So I finally decided I wanted to load this bread up the same way I load up a baked potato. So I threw bacon, sliced green onions and cheddar cheese in it, as well as replacing some of the potato water I usually use with milk and with sour cream. And know what? This bread is outstanding! This is one of those times when I’m like, “YES! Janet, you knocked this one out of the park!” This has a nice tight crumb, a tender crust that doesn’t turn into a pile of crumbs when you slice it and it has a enough “holdability” (yes, that is now a word.) to slice thinly enough to use for sandwiches. I mean; imagine this- a BLT on homemade bread that has bacon and cheese in it. Need I say more?

This makes three loaves of bread, so either plan on sharing or freezing or if you’re better at math than I am, cut the recipe. I would estimate that if one were to cut this in half, you would get two 8 inch loaves. As it stands, you get 9 inch loaves. But it holds up well thanks to the potato. That helps it stay fresher longer. And like I said, this is amazing as a sandwich bread. This bread takes longer to rise than some, so don’t stress if it hasn’t risen a mile in ten minutes after you get it into the pans. Mine took a full two hours to rise enough to bake.  But keep in mind that as it sits and rises slowly, it is also getting a better texture and flavor. Also, made during the warmer months, it may rise quicker. My house is rather nippy.

You know the drill…. :-)

Mrs. Cupcake- whose blood has now been replaced with yeast. And bacon.

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 7 1/2 to 8 cups flour
  • 1 lb good quality bacon, cooked until just crisp and crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons of the the bacon drippings
  • 2 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get out three 9 inch bread pans.Add the cut up potatoes and one teaspoon salt to the 4 cups of water in a medium pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender then remove the potatoes from the water, reserving two cups of the cooking water (just dump any extra or if it isn’t a full two cups, add water to get up to two cups). Mash the potatoes well to make lump free, then let cool for about ten minutes. You should have about one cup of mashed potatoes.
  2. Add the one cup of milk and half a cup of sour cream to the reserved potato water. Whisk until smooth. Warm in the microwave in 20 second increments until it has reached a temp between 105 and 112. Sprinkle the packet of yeast over the top of it and give it a light stir. Let sit for about 5 minutes. It should be looking somewhat foamy by then.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached (you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon, but it will be an arm workout), combine the yeast mixture, the mashed potatoes, the butter, the tablespoon salt, the sugar, the softened butter and one cup of the flour. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
  4. When combined, add in 5 more cups of the flour and mix on fairly low speed (I used 2 on my mixer) until it has come together into a sticky dough. Add more flour, half a cup at a time, until you have a slightly sticky and tacky dough. It shouldn’t leave dough all your fingers if you lightly push a finger into it, but it should feel pretty sticky to the touch. This took about 7 3/4 cups of flour for me.
  5. Let the mixer continue to knead the dough for five to seven minutes, scraping it down when needed if it crawls up the hook. Pour in the bacon, cheese and green onions and let the mixer combine them into the dough.
  6. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board or counter and give the dough a couple of quick kneads.
  7. Using the reserved bacon drippings, lightly grease the loaf pans; don’t use all of it- you’ll be brushing the tops of the loaves with it, too.Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a loaf and put into the prepared pans. Brush the tops with more of the reserved bacon drippings. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in bulk. Since this uses just one pack of yeast for three loaves, it’s NOT a quick riser. So don’t worry if it hasn’t risen in like half an hour or so. It will get there. Mine took a full two hours to rise.
  8. When ready, put the loaves in the 350 degree oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then if desired, open the oven and quickly sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of the loaves. Continue to bake for about another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown on top. If you’re not sure, poke an instant read thermometer into the center of a loaf. It should read at about 190 degrees.
  9. Let cool in the pan for five minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

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