Dolce Vita : Red Velvet Chocolate Cupcakes

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I’ve been obsessed with red velvet cake. So I created this little guilty pleasure version of decadent cupcakes with a twist – added some chocolate chips inside to create a gooey bite. Also I opted to not to frost  it with any overwhelming sugary/greasy icing but just added a small dollop of whipped cream cheese icing just to hold up the heart marshmallow.

Red Velvet Chocolate Cupcake

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Ingredients:

1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups water

1/4 cup Canola oil

4 tbsp. Daisy Light Sour Cream

Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips

Betty Crocker Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Heart-shaped pink marshmallows

 Directions:

  1. Follow the baking instructions from the cake mix box –  adding the sour cream before blending all the ingredients.
  2. Make 24 regular size cupcakes or 12 large ones.
  3. Drop 5 pieces of chocolate chips on the middle of each cupcakes or 10 pieces of chips for the large ones.
  4. Bake for 350 deg. F for 20 mins.
  5. Let it completely cool (say an hour) before adding a teaspoon of cream cheese on top of each cupcake & add a marshmallow on top of the cream cheese.

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Summer Blueberry Picking 2012

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Summer Blueberry Picking 2012

We’ve made now a family tradition for four years to pick blueberries during the summer under the hot Texas sun. The blueberry farm – Blueberry Hill Farm is only open two months for the whole year & that’s during summertime – June & July. We usually pick during the last weeks of June to have the best picking time. The farm owner has weekly picking rates on what’s the best time to pick the blueberries.

This year we were fortunate to pick on the best time – the weather was just perfect in 60’s that early morning,overcast & the blueberries had even have dew from the rain the day before.

Texas blueberries are medium in sizes & have this distinct sweet taste. Crunchy on the outside but very sweet in the inside. Its bush can reach as high as 7 feet in height.

Besides fresh blueberries & blackberries, Blueberry Hill Farm also offers freshly baked from the farm store some blueberry cream pies – their all-time best seller, homemade blueberry ice cream – best ever, jams, preserves, marinates & pickles.

My girls are always looking forward every year to picking & taste their scrumptious pies & ice cream.Every year is always a treat not only for them but definitely for us too!

My Yellow Joys

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My Yellow Joys

 There’s something about the color yellow – sunny, cheery…it’s just such a happy color!

I’ve been planting a myriad of colors in our garden since we’ve moved in our new place six years ago

and unconsciously accumulated a variety of yellow-flowering plants.

Spring is always the best time to catch all these beauties & there’s an explosion of yellow flowers in our garden.

My all-time favorite is this yellow-bearded iris which has such a sweet faint scent.

 

Yellow Gerbera daisy- very popular!

Orange Star flower which is thriving nicely on my kitchen window.

Another popular beauty – miniature yellow rose.

Sweet smelling yellow freesia in a pot.

Beach Daisy is creeping in the front yard.

 

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken Breast

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Basil Pesto Pasta

with Grilled Chicken Breast

 

As we start the New Year and winter nights are here to stay, we’re craving for a comfort food that’s healthy, big in flavor & at the same time filling.I always prepare this pasta during summer time because of the abundant supply of fresh sweet basil from my vegetable garden. But if I crave for pesto pasta during winter time, I just need to look for a good pesto in my favorite grocery. I use 2 brands of pesto sauce here to maximize the flavor & also preferred these brands because of great flavor & price.

Prep/Cook Time: 22 mins.

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Ingredients:

2 boxes (1 lb.) Barilla Penne or Linguini

1 bag (22 oz.) Tyson Grilled & Ready fully cooked chicken breast strips

1 cup of Swanson Chicken Stock (reduced salt)

1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

1 pack (7 oz) Buitoni Pesto With Basil

2 jars (10 oz) Classico Traditional Basil Sauce And Spread

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta as directed but under cook it for 2 mins. Set aside.
  2. Sauté fully defrosted chicken breast in olive oil in medium/high heat (around 8 mins)
  3. Add pesto sauce & sauté more for 5 mins.
  4. Add cooked pasta & mix to coat evenly the pasta with pesto.
  5. Add chicken stock. Mix well. Cover. Cook for additional 2 mins.
  6. Serve warm, topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.
  7. Sprinkle with slightly toasted pine nuts (optional).