Raisin Spice Cupcakes (Birthday Cupcakes #2)


In addition to the strawberry cupcakes I made for my niece’s birthday celebration, hubby made a request for some raisin spice cupcakes.  So we had some of each type on the birthday plate.  This is a kind of family heirloom recipe.  I have a handwritten copy of my grandmother’s, who got it from her sister, Julie, and my mom made it often when we were kids.  We know it as Aunty Julie’s Cake.  My sister and I usually have a bit of a laugh every time we make this cake, as it reminds us of the childhood memory we have of the time her and I decided to surprise our mom with some baking.  The recipe is written without any flour mentioned.  The adults knew you had to add flour, but the young teens didn’t know that yet :)  Needless to say, the first round was a complete flop!  I think we feed it to the chickens, hoping nobody would have to know about the fiasco.  We phoned Grandma to find out where we went wrong;  she was very kind to explain, but I’m sure she had a bit of chuckle too.  Besides including an amount for flour, I’ve also made a couple of other  minor adjustments over the years.

Aunty Julie’s Raisin Spice Cupcakes

½ cup butter

1 ½ cups brown sugar  (may be reduced to 1 cup)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 2/3 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg OR allspice

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup raisins

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and soda and spices. Alternate additions of flour and milk to creamed butter until all flour is incorporated. Gently fold in raisins. Pour into greased and floured 9”x 9” cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  Makes about 24 cupcakes using medium size paper liners.



Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes


We were invited to celebrate my niece’s 17th birthday last weekend.  I made cupcakes.  I like the recipe, it’s got good flavor, but next time, I’m skipping the icing and calling them muffins.

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with large/jumbo cupcake liners.

4-5 large strawberries

1 2/3 cup + 1 tbsp flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 large egg

1/4 cup strawberry yogurt

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pulse strawberries in food processor until finely chopped (not pureed). Pulsed strawberries should measure about 1/3 cup. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Stir in sugar. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. When butter mixture has cooled slightly, stir in yogurt, milk, egg and vanilla extract. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the butter/milk mixture into the flour. Gently stir to combine all ingredients. Fold in the strawberry puree. Batter will be quite thick. Divide batter among 12 cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes (375 degrees F) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.  Makes 12 cupcakes.


Deviled Ham Sandwich Filling


If you’ve baked a large ham, and now the leftovers seem to be lingering, here’s a bit of help.  Make a batch of this delicious ham filling, spread it on slices of  your favorite bread, and you won’t even think “leftover”!  It’ll just be a yummy lunch :)

Deviled Ham

1 ½ cups chopped cooked ham

1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 tsp grainy mustard

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp Tabasco (optional)


Thinly sliced sweet onion

Pulse ham with mayo, mustard, seasonings in food processor until finely chopped.  Spread bread slices with ham mixture, layer on pickles and sliced onion.  Slice and serve.


Birthday treats

It’s middle son’s birthday today.  The celebration was low-key, but nonetheless heartfelt and full of good wishes.   We sang “Happy Birthday” for him, and after he blew out the token birthday candle, we all partook of slices of his two favorite cakes–Marble Tea Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

IMG_2047 IMG_1408a


Broccoli Salad

IMG_2919aI love raw veggies!

Broccoli Salad

2 large florets broccoli

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

¼ cup diced red onion

5-6strips bacon, fried and crumbled

1/3 raisins or dried cranberries


1/2 -3/4 cup mayonnaise

1-2 tbsp vinegar

2-3 tsp sugar

Wash and cut broccoli into bite size pieces.  In a bowl, toss together broccoli, sunflower seeds, onion, raisins and bacon.  In a small bowl, stir together mayo, vinegar and sugar.  Pour dressing onto broccoli and mix well.  Serve immediately.

Creamy Potato Soup


I was chatting with my sister this morning, and she happens to mention she’s planning on making potato soup for lunch, and she’s using our mom’s recipe from old days.  Marvelous, I thought, me too!  So hubby was completely happy, as he’s Mr. Potato-Lover.  It’s sort of like corn chowder (one of my favorites) only with tender, bite-size pieces of potato instead of corn.  And there still a few ‘taters from last fall’s harvest in the cold storage, so bob’s your uncle…lunch!

Mom’s Potato Soup

4 medium potatoes (about 4 cups peeled and diced)

½ onion, finely diced (about ½-3/4 cup)

½ cup sour cream (low-fat or no-fat)

1 tbsp flour

½ tbsp vinegar

salt and pepper

paprika, pinch

cheddar cheese, grated for garnish

Option:  add crumbled bacon (about 7 slices)

Sauté diced onions in a bit of butter or oil till translucent.  Peel and dice potatoes.  Add potatoes and sautéed onions to a saucepan, and cover with water.  Stir in ½ tsp salt and cook till tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir together sour cream, flour, pepper to taste, pinch of paprika, and vinegar.  When potatoes and onions are tender, remove from heat.  Stir in sour cream mixture and crumbled bacon .  Return pot to low heat and simmer soup until thickened and creamy.  Add milk to thin if necessary.  Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese for garnish.  Makes about 3 – 4 servings.

Carrot Cake Loaves


I used my trusty carrot cake recipe, but doubled it and made four loaves, one to eat now, two to give, and one for the freezer.  I used buttermilk, as it gives a denser texture, which is nice in a loaf — you want to be able to spread a bit of jam and slap on a nice bit of Cheddar cheese without the slice crumbling to pieces.  I don’t normally add nuts to the carrot cake, but this time I did, as I knew who the eaters would be.  I whizzed  1  1/2 cups of pecan halves in the food processor till they were very finely chopped and stirred them in with the grated carrots.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup coconut

3 cups grated carrots

3 eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk (or ½  – 2/3 cup buttermilk, which give a denser texture)

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add coconut  and grated carrots and mix.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil and buttermilk.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Bake in two 8” layer pans, using parchment to line the pans, or butter and flour.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  This recipe will make about 18 cupcakes or 2 loaf pans (increase baking time to about 40 minutes for the loaf pans)



Raisin Tea Cakes


We have bit of a gloomy day today, leaden skies and intermittent snow.  Here’s a delicious way to brighten the afternoon–raisin tea cakes.  Serve warm with butter and strawberry jam.  Too bad we don’t have any Devonshire cream to dollop on top!

Raisin Tea Cakes

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

½ cup cream cheese

1 cup milk

3/4 cup raisins, washed and drained

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the cream cheese and rub till mixture is crumbly.  Stir in raisins.  Add the milk and stir to make a soft dough.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until dough clings together.  Shape dough into a roll about 9″ long.  With a sharp serrated knife, cut dough into about 12 equal pieces (about 3/4″).   Place circles of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes.


Chili Mac


This is a nice, mild version of chili, with the surprising addition of elbow macaroni.  It got the thumbs up at dinner.  (I’m anticipating the leftovers to taste even better!).  You could certainly ramp up the heat with the addition of more chili paste/powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, etc, but we don’t mind if our foreheads don’t break out into a sweat while we’re eating :)  I used 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef and 1/2 pound of sausage meat, just because that’s what I had on hand.  It was a good ratio and I would stick with it when I make the recipe again.  You can check out the original recipe here.

Chili Mac(aroni)

500g (1 lb) ground beef

500g (1 lb) spicy sausage meat (Italian, andouille, or similar)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ribs of celery, diced

1 540ml (19 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 398ml (14 oz) can tomato sauce

1 398ml can kidney beans

1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked

Seasonings:  1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste, 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp red chili paste

grated Cheddar cheese and sour cream

In a large saute pan, saute chopped onion and celery until tender-crisp, add minced garlic and red chili paste, saute for another minute or so.  Remove to a bowl.  In the hot pan, brown ground beef and sausage meat until pink is all gone, seasoning as it is browning with 1/2 tsp salt,  freshly ground pepper to taste, and 2 tablespoons of chili powder.  Drain if necessary and place meat back in pan.  Stir in sauteed onions, celery, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and kidney beans.  Over medium heat, bring mixture to a high simmer, and continue to simmer over low heat about 20-30 minutes, stirring often.  Taste for seasoning, adding more chili powder as desired.  While chili is simmering, cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  When chili is ready to serve, stir in macaroni.  If pasta has cooled, let the chili come back to a simmer before serving.  Top individual servings with grated cheese and a dollop of (no-fat) sour cream.

Sausage Balls


Here’s a nifty little appetizer that basically requires only three ingredients, but if you have time, inclination and resources, you can jazz up the recipe with all sorts of flavors.  I used my stand mixer with the dough hook to mix everything together, which made it a breeze.  If you need appetizers for a large crowd, you can make a couple of batches ahead of time.  Just form the balls and freeze them, and then bake as needed.  They also go well with a cup of soup for lunch, and make a great after-school snack for the kids.  Provide some dipping sauces (ranch, sweet chili sauce, ketchup(!), etc), your kids will love ya’ !

Sausage Balls (the basic recipe)

1 lb sausage meat (your favorite kind)

3 cups Bisquick mix

4 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/8 – 1/4 cup milk, if needed

Mix all ingredients together.  If mixture seems too dry to stick together,  add some milk, a bit at a time.  Form into 1″ balls.  Place on baking sheets lined with parchment.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes until golden brown.  Serve immediately. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.


- add 1/2 cup grated parmesan or asagio cheese

- stir in a little something for heat:  red chili paste, some red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper

- choose one or two of these in small amounts:  sage, marjoram, poultry seasoning, thyme, cumin, chili powder

- sprinkle in some onion or garlic powder


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