Friday, August 31, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Monster Taco Salad with Chimichurri Quinoa!

Taco Salad with Chimichurri Quinoa!

Salads and I have a "Love / Hate" relationship. 

I absolutely love veggies, and when I'm out to eat it's not uncommon for a salad to catch my eye when it's loaded with yummy bits that I would find tedious to put together at home.

But sometimes a cheeseburger, wrap, or eggplant hero woos me instead.

Although, I can't go to Chili's without ordering the Quesadilla Explosion Salad, and my husband fell in love with the "Macho Salad" from Barrada in Chicago, IL. First of all, I couldn't believe that he actually ordered a salad, and beyond that he talked about it all weekend...

So we know how to enjoy a salad...just sometimes lack the self-control to order one ;)

This Monster Taco Salad I found at Simply Love Food did not disappoint our taste buds. 

I was excited to make this salad since it's full of delicious veggies and I have been wanting to try quinoa! I used this article at Savvy Vegetarian to help guide me in how to successfully cook the quinoa. 

You will know the quinoa is done when their "tails" come out!
Basically, I soaked the quinoa for about 5 minutes, rinsed it, and then put it in a pot to cook for about 13 minutes. I used 1 1/2 cups of quinoa and 2 cups of water.

Servings: 2 large salads.

Here's what you'll need for the Chimichurri Quinoa!

  • 1 1/2 cups of quinoa, cooked
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • Salt & pepper
  •  2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar 
  • A splash of agave nectar
  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Make sure that you taste the chimichurri as you go and add what you think it needs. I ended up adding more herbs, vinegar, and salt because I could taste too much oil.
Chimichurri ready for processing!

Quinoa Time!
1) In a food processor, (I used my Ninja!) combine all ingredients except the quinoa.
2) Coat your cooked quinoa with the chimichurri sauce and set aside.

Quinoa dressed with Chimichurri!

Here's what you'll need for the Salad!

  • 1 large bunch of romaine roughly chopped
  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado, sliced or diced
  • 1-2 ears of corn, cleaned and kernels removed from the cob
  • Salsa
Prep your ingredients!
1) It's a great idea to grill your corn to give it a little char. I used leftover corn on the cob from a BBQ last weekend, cut it off the cob, and warmed it up in the oven.
2) Brown your ground turkey in a skillet until you can't see any more pink, and add your packet of taco seasoning plus 3/4 of a cup of water. 

Ground Turkey with Taco Seasoning

Put it all together!
1) Divide the roughly chopped romaine lettuce between the two plates.
2) Add a good helping of the chimichurri quinoa and the ground taco turkey.
3) Next add your veggies: bell pepper, tomato, corn, and avocado.
4. Garnish with extra cilantro and salsa and enjoy!

My husband helped me plate these :)

We ate both salads in their entirety and my husband even went back for an extra helping of quinoa! We have a lot of leftover quinoa but the chimichurri sauce was so delicious with its herbaceous and garlicy flavor that I can't wait to have a helping for lunch!

I will admit that I thought we had a block of cheddar cheese in the fridge, that my husband was looking forward to on these salads, but we ate them without and they were tasty nonetheless!

Definitely a delicious salad for veggie and taco lovers!

Foodie Friends Friday
Stay Savory,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Cool Mint Creme Oreo Milk Shake

Hello Sweethearts! I couldn't think of a better way to close the summer than with a delicious minty milkshake! When I first stumbled upon the Cool Mint Creme Oreo cookies, I couldn't resist thinking that we were a match made in heaven! If you have seen some of my previous posts, than you will know that I love anything marrying the two iconic flavors of chocolate and mint (check out my delicious Peppermint Patty Cupcakes here), so when I saw this recipe on the bottom of the cookie box, I couldn't wait to try it! The fact that I had many of the ingredients stocked already was also a motivator to whip up this refreshing drink!

Now, there was definitely a bit of a time lapse between when I discovered the recipe and when I finally found the right time to make it and post about it! The day I saw this recipe,  I had the 2 cups of vanilla ice-cream in my fridge that the recipe called for. A week later, I ended up having only about 3/4 of a cup of chocolate left! I didn't have the time to run to the supermarket, so making this a true "recipe to reality" post, I changed things up a little bit!

Because I didn't have the correct amount of ice cream, I decided to make one milkshake for my whole family to share.  The cup I used held about two servings of the frosty treat, so for those of you who know of this recipe (I will be posting it down below just in case you cannot find it on the cookie box later in the year) I basically halved the ingredients.  Also, I did not spoon chocolate syrup into the bottom of my cup, I actually incorporated it into the drink. As for the cookies, I chopped four of them into tiny pieces and used half of them in the milkshake. I quartered four more and used them in the dessert as well. To bring out the chocolatey flavors in the drink I added a splash of vanilla extract, and because I am obsessed with my peppermint extract I couldn't help but add some of that as well.

It took me about a minute to get the shake smooth in my blender. After pouring it into my cup, I used the rest of the chopped Oreo pieces to top of this minty dessert!

All in all, I thought that this recipe was a clever idea and one anyone can create with little thought to the process. Because I didn't have all the correct amounts of the ingredients, I felt like the treat was not as thick of a consistency as I personally liked.  However, I have no doubt that anyone who met the requirements to make this drink would not run into any problems. But, I am proud that I was able to make it work!

4 tsp. chocolate syrup
8 Cool Mint Creme Oreo Cookies, divided
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened

  1.  Spoon 1  tsp syrup into each of 4 glasses. Roll each side to coat bottom and side of glass. Finely chop 4 cookies, set aside.
  2. Quarter remaining cookies, place in blender. Add milk and ice cream, blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared glasses, top with chopped cookies, Serve immediately. 

Stay Sweet,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Curried-Chicken and Vegetable Pan Roast

Curried Chicken with Roasted Veggies

   My husband and I first tried Indian food about 2-3 years ago after we were both curious to expand our palettes. We had to ask the waiter for recommendations since we weren't familiar with the cuisine, but after taking my first bite I knew I was in love! I remember saying, "I have never tasted anything like this!" We were both completely blown away by the exotic spices and couldn't get enough.

Chicken Tikka Masala & Coconut Curried Veggies

If you have never had Indian food before, I'd recommend getting Chicken Tikka Masala. Tikka means that the meat has been marinated in yogurt and cooked on a Tandoori grill, and Masala refers to a common spice used in Indian cuisine. The dish is served in a tomato based sauce full of rich Indian spices. This is my husband's absolute favorite dish, and while I try to be adventurous and try other dishes, I always have to take a bite of his as well!

When I found this recipe to make an Indian style dish at home without the inconvenience of using a ton of spices, I was very excited to try it. The recipe comes from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook of 2011.

Total Time: 1 Hour and 15 Minutes
Servings: 2-3


  • 2 lbs of butternut squash in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 lb of brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 large red onion cut into slices
  • 1 cup of canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
  • Warm naan for serving
The first thing I did was preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Autumn Veggies!
I decided to buy the pre-cubed butternut squash since the squash is so difficult to break down and I'd prefer to keep my fingers, thank you! I took the squash cubes, the halved brussels, and onion slices and mixed them together in a bowl with 1/2 a cup of canola oil, salt and pepper. I also added a little Vegeta spice mix to my veggies. Then I spread them out on a baking sheet.

In the same bowl, I combined the yogurt, ginger, garlic, curry powder, the other 1/2 cup of canola oil, and salt and pepper. I decided not to use Greek style yogurt, just because I'm not a big fan. Also, I found the Madras curry powder right in the spice aisle of my local supermarket, you shouldn't have to go to a specialty store. 

Coated Chicken Ready to Bake!

Next, coat the chicken in the yogurt and spices mixture and lay the chicken on top of the veggies.

The recipe suggests cooking the chicken and veggies for a total of 60 minutes, but I found that both the chicken and veggies were done after 40. I set a timer for 20 minutes and turned the pan halfway through cooking. I also drained some of the juices halfway through cook time.

All done!

After 40 minutes I was left with golden brown chicken and caramelized veggies. Feel free to serve with naan bread or over rice. We chose to keep it low-carb.

This recipe can also be prepared the night before and baked the next day.

My husband, who is more of a meat and potatoes guy, ate all of his veggies and even had a second helping! We both loved the sweetness of the squash, with the slight bitterness of the brussels. The Madras curry spice was warm and inviting, and we didn't have any leftovers!

Can't wait to make this again...maybe in the fall or winter!

Stay Savory,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Nominated for a Liebster Award

First I'd like to thank one of my very best friends, Allison, from Keep Calm and Soldier On for even considering to nominate us for an award! Our blog is very new and is nowhere close to the 200 follower maximum, but we are honored that you thought of us for this award.

All nominees must answer the following questions written by Allison:

Questions For My Nominees:
1. When did you start your blog and why? What was your very first post (link to it)?
We just started blogging on July 26th, 2012. I started blogging because many of my friends and family had blogs, and I always enjoyed writing. I decided to blog about food because it's one of my biggest passions- both cooking and eating! Unfortunately, with last year's stresses of school and work (and trying to fit in going to the gym!) cooking seemed more of a chore and something I had to do instead of something I wanted to do. This summer's amazing experiences and the start up of the blog has helped me rediscover why I love cooking. Being able to share my passion with friends, family, others all over the world who love it too is really refreshing! My first post was not about a recipe because I was so darn excited to start posting after we picked a name and found a layout. Instead, I wrote about a food related product. You can read all about the delicious Frontera All Natural Guacamole Mix here!

2. What is one thing you like to brag about, about yourself?
I don't really like to brag, but I guess I start to unintentionally whenever I hear anyone singing. I feel as though my opinion counts more than anyone else's since I have a pretty good voice, and not a bad ear if I do say so myself. When watching American Idol, The Voice, or uhhh any movie where someone sings I can be obnoxious... so I try to avoid those singing-based reality shows. 

3. What is the best advice you've gotten?
Never go to bed angry. My mom told me this when I got engaged, and I have followed this advice. I make sure that my husband and I talk out any arguments that we are having before we go to bed so that we always say, "I love you" and kiss goodnight.

4. What is the best recipe you've ever tried?
This is a really, really hard one! We just enjoyed a delicious dinner tonight that I'm planning on sharing tomorrow, but as of right now I'm going to go with the most recent delicious creation that I have added to my blog which are the Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies. These were the most scrumptious cookie I have ever had, and they are my husband's favorite flavor combination!

5. What do you wish your parents had been more strict about when you were younger and why?
I wish they were more strict about leaving the house on time so that we weren't the last ones to arrive at every family party, late to our appointments, or almost miss our flights to Caribbean islands!

6. What was your favorite thing to play with growing up?
Hmm...I'm gonna go with Dream Phone. I have many a good memory of sitting around with these "hunky" 90's fabulous boys all over the game board, trying to find my Secret Admirer while holding a gigantic, pink, phone. At times, I will still quote the creepy lines those boys whispered in my ear such as, "He'll eat almost anything...except hot dogs".

7. What is your most vivid childhood holiday memory?
My most vivid childhood memory is organizing, and acting out our annual Christmas pageant with my cousins for our family. Being one of the oldest, my cousin Erin and I could boss around our younger cousins and siblings telling them who would be Joseph, Mary, the wise men, etc. My favorite memory was getting to be the donkey that carried Mary (my little sister) to Bethlehem. 
8. What is a "best kept secret" that you found out about?
On O'ahu, near the North Shore, there is a beach called Laniakea Beach, more commonly referred to as "Turtle Beach" hidden among surfing beaches and expensive properties like the Billabong house. It's a small beach without a parking lot, and when you walk down to the beach there are sea turtles that come into the shallow water to eat the algae off the rocks. It was me and my husband's first time seeing wild sea turtles and we were in awe! 

9. What is one thing on your bucket list you're worried you'll never get to do?
I would love to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, from either Alaska or Iceland. My husband is not too keen on going to either places, but it's a sight that I would love to see. After our wedding and honeymoon, currently looking for a house, and wanting children in the near future, my husband is concerned that we won't have much money for future vacationing! :[

10. What is the best item in your wardrobe?
Does my wedding dress count?! Umm... My students really love my alice & olivia white flats with black polka-dots! They always complement me when I wear them. Is this sad that I am thinking back to which outfits give me the most compliments from eleven-year-olds? A little. Oooh! My mom bought me a dark purple and beige maxi dress that I brought on the honeymoon. It is comfortable and forgiving and fancy! That's it!

11. What unique item do you always keep in your fridge?
I have pretty much given up on traditional dairy milk and have switched to Silk Coconut milk! It contains no dairy, has fewer calories, and is absolutely delicious in cereal!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies

   I pinned these as soon as I saw them because my husband's absolute favorite flavor is peanut butter! I just didn't know I'd be making them so soon!

   We are working on closing on a house, and to make a long story short, I was sitting with our loan officer at the bank this afternoon, when I was told that my husband was missing important paperwork needed to move our application forward. Of course, he was at work.

   When I called my husband about it, he said that the woman who is in charge of those materials was out of the office today. We were both disappointed because we were looking forward to moving forward with the process. Ultimately, a few minutes later he called back with great news that another co-worker got him the materials he needed right then and there! My husband responded with, "You better make John cookies!"

   So, I did.

   I went right to the supermarket and picked up a few ingredients needed for these incredibly delicious cookies.
Looks like a  lot, but I had most of this in the cabinet!

   I found these on BruCrewLife bake. eat. repeat. 

   The first thing I did was to combine my dry ingredients of flour, baking soda, vanilla pudding mix, and a pinch of salt. 

   Next I creamed the butter with the peanut butter (I used chunky) and both the white and brown sugar. When I took my brown sugar out of the cabinet, I noticed immediately that it was hard as a rock. I found these useful tips on how to soften brown sugar from . They suggested a few methods, but I decided to put the box of brown sugar in the microwave along with a small bowl with water in it for intervals of 30 seconds. The idea is that that water gets evaporated and the sugar absorbs it, loosening it. It worked!
Combining Dry Ingredients

   After that, I added both eggs, the vanilla, and honey. After all of that was thoroughly combined, I gently folded in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a cup of Reese's Pieces. I decided to leave out the banana chips and baked them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Creamed Butter and Sugars
   They came out absolutely PERFECT. These are probably the first cookies that I've ever made from scratch all by myself, and I am super proud of them!

   They are moist, bursting with peanut butter flavor, and each chocolate morsel is sweet and luscious.

Folded in Goodies
   I am encouraging my husband to bring the majority of these cookies to work tomorrow, but he's sitting with the plate and a glass of milk right now...

    Hope there's some left over for you, John!

Stay Sweet,

Ready to go to work tomorrow!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Sorry about the red plate and red food...
 Fra Diavolo means "Brother Devil" in Italian, and this dish delivered on the spice! My husband and I are no strangers to spice and often add red pepper or hot sauce to any dish, so I was not worried about this at all!

The shrimp were plump and tender, the pasta al'dente (of high school Italian teacher always told us that we'd never find a husband if we couldn't cook the pasta al'dente!) and the sauce was tangy with a bit of kick!

I found this recipe in the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook of 2011.
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 4


  • 1 1/4 lbs of shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Marinating Shrimp

I started with Easy to Peel deveined frozen shrimp. I thawed them out in a bowl of cold water, drained them, and got them marinating in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the crushed red pepper, some salt and pepper, and I added some garlic salt also. I used my hands to coat them all and let them sit for 20 minutes.

Next, heat up a skillet to medium high and sautee your shrimp until lightly golden brown which is about 1 minute on each side. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a plate, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan with the diced pancetta, diced onion, and minced garlic until the pancetta is crispy and the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.

Pure Deliciousness

Then, add your shrimp back to the pan with any juices left on the plate, and add a jar (about 2 cups) of your favorite jarred marinara sauce, or use homemade if you have some on hand. I used Bertolli Tomato and Basil. After the shrimp is warmed up again this sauce is ready to go!

I made some thin spaghetti to go with the sauce and it was just about perfect! We loved the saltiness from the pancetta, and tang from the tomatoes, the succulence of the shrimp, and of course, the heat!

Stay Savory,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wilton Course 1: Decorating Basics

Rose Technique on Cupcake
  While baking is a fairly new endeavor to me, my mom and my sister have always been big bakers. I was always content with consuming the baked goods, but never really interested in baking, or decorating.

   We have a tradition of decorating sugar cookies for many holidays, but especially Christmas. We use royal icing and dye a big batch into a rainbow of colors and go to town decorating our Christmas treats! Although I always look forward to this tradition, my cookies always pale in comparison to my sister's creative, quirky, impeccable design. Additionally, my mother is equally creative and has great technique when it comes to cake decorating, so when my cousin asked if I was interested in taking Wilton's Course 1 with her at A.C. Moore, I said, "Why not?"

Christmas 2009
   The course was $20 and consisted of two 4-hour sessions. Initially I was turned off by the prospect of cake decorating for four hours at a time, but the time actually flew by. In addition to the $20, they recommend purchasing Course Kit #1 which includes all tips, couplers, bags, and tools needed for the course. Because Candee already has the Wilton Professional Cake Decorating Kit, she loaned it to me for the duration of the course so I could save a little money ;) Thanks, Candee!!

Christmas 2010
   The first class consisted of a lot of practice. We just bought the Wilton Decorating Icing and added some food coloring to practice various techniques with different tips. Some of my favorites were the rosettes! The lesson kit includes a practice board and we spent time getting used to the bags, changing tips, and finally decorating some sugar cookies!

   The second class built on our skills learned in class one. Everyone  was a bit more at ease and moved a bit quicker. We learned the Pom-Pom flower, Mum, and Roses! The roses were absolutely my favorite and probably had something to do with the fact that I could make the roses better than the other two flowers. We practiced these skills on cupcakes instead of cookies.

Christmas 2011
   Also for the second class she encouraged us to make our own buttercream frosting from scratch, so I used the Wilton recipe found here. I used the Crisco that was NOT butter flavored (because I don't care for that flavor personally) and used 8 teaspoons of water and not milk so that the icing does not need to be refrigerated. I actually made this recipe twice because the first time I used tablespoons to measure the liquid aspect and my frosting came out too liquidy. The second batch was much stiffer so throughout the class I just mixed the two together to make whatever consistency I needed. Both consistencies were delicious. 

   We worked towards decorating a cake by the end of the class so I made a handful of roses and let them dry. Then I carefully iced my cake, and piped my letters. After that I placed my roses carefully using the special scissors, and then added the dots to pull the whole thing together. 

Proud Mama!
   Overall, I am incredibly proud of this cake. I almost don't want to eat it because it's so beautiful so it's still sitting on my counter...I didn't know that I had it in me, but it makes me want to practice more and ice more cakes!

   I would definitely recommend this course to someone interested in learning simple techniques for decorating, and I hope to continue on and take Course 2 in the future!

Stay sweet,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Breakfast Muffins

   These aren't your typical muffins! These are delicious, easy, and adorable muffins that wrap up all your favorite breakfast foods!

Bacon, Egg, Cheese, what more do you need?
  My husband and I had one of our best friends over so I wanted to make him something unique for breakfast! When I saw these interesting muffins from YummyMummyClub, I knew these were what I was looking for!

   The ingredients are very simple: 1 can of Pillsbury biscuits, 6-7 strips of bacon cut into chunks, 4 eggs scrambled, and about 3-4 slices of American cheese.

   You will also need a greased muffin tin, and a roller of some sort.

   First, I started by frying my bacon strips on about medium flame until crispy.

   Then, I scrambled 4 eggs (with a splash of milk for fluffiness) in a bit of the bacon grease with a dash of salt and pepper.

   Once you have the bacon and eggs cooked, you are ready to assemble! I used Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Reduced Fat biscuits, but you can use any kind you'd like. I don't own a rolling pin to roll out my biscuit dough with, so my genius friend "Cup of Joe" suggested to use the side of a ceramic bowl to roll out the dough. Totally worked!

   Once you have your biscuit rolled out, you scoop a bit of scrambled eggs into the middle, add 3-4 pieces of the chopped bacon, and top with 1/2 a slice of American cheese. Feel free to substitute your favorite cheese!


Egg w/ Bacon

Egg w/Bacon & Cheese

   Next comes the fun part! Stretch the biscuit around your filling and pinch the sides to make a completely sealed biscuit full of breakfasty goodness!

   Place the biscuits seam side down into your muffin tin and brush with an eggwash (an egg whisked with some water). The eggwash will make the tops of your muffins brown and give them a little flavor. It also helps keep the salt and pepper from falling off the biscuit while baking. 

Artistic Placement!
   Bake at 375 for 13-15 minutes and they are ready for breakfast! We used a little ketchup as a dipping sauce, but hot sauce would have paired nicely as well. These would be great as an on-the-go meal as well.

   As I was making these, I couldn't help but think about all the other possibilities there are for these biscuit muffins! Here are some I'd like to try - tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni for pizza bites, apples, butter, and cinnamon for apple pie bites, and my friend Cup of Joe's suggestion - Nutella, fluff, and banana!


   A combination of a short prep time, virtually no cleanup, and the fun involved pinching these yummy muffins together lead me to believe I will be experimenting with these biscuit muffins in the near future!

They look like perfect little pillows!
Stay Savory,
The Mandatory Mooch

Friday, August 10, 2012

Recipe To Reality: Peppermint Patty Cupcakes

Hey Sweets! In this blog post I will be satisfying one of the most cliché cravings ever to have been thought up- the yearning for smooth, velvety chocolate! On a more personal level, I often find myself craving one of the best chocolate combinations I and many others have ever tasted- chocolate and peppermint.  I found this tasty recipe on by Darla. (P.S. - This blog is so cute, and Darla is also inspired by sweet and savory flavors like Jasmine and I!)

The first few steps of this recipe are very basic and easy. If you are a tried and true baker like what I would want to call myself, you would probably understand why simply creaming butter and sugar, then  adding eggs and all of your various flavorings is more of a habit than anything else. 

Now, this wouldn't be a true "post" if I hadn't put my own spin on this wonderful recipe. First, I added about a 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the batter for a bit of kick. Now, my second twist really amped up that minty flavor I was going for. The original recipe said to stuff the cupcakes with mini York Peppermint Patties-I, however, spooned out the peppermint filling of the candies and baked it inside the desserts instead. For the technique I used to get access to the filling, watch my Sweet Tip #2 below. If you are reading this and the thought popped into your head, "I'm not going to take apart 18 peppermint patties!" than I highly recommend that you stuff these treats with the whole candy instead, or add more extract. I am saying this because, well, the author of this recipe intended these to be chocolate cupcakes, and well, even with my addition of the peppermint extract, the candies inside were what really added the flavor I was looking for.

To get the filling in the cupcakes, I used an ice cream scoop to place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter into my tins. Then, using my fingers I placed about a teaspoon of filling into the cupcake. Then, push it down into the batter so that it is not as clearly visible as it was before. Finish off with about a teaspoon more batter on top to seal things off. 
After being in the oven for 17 minutes, my cupcakes were done. I enjoy more of a cake kind of texture, but for my savory and sweet hearts out there who want a moist cupcake, I would shoot for about 14 to 15 minutes in the oven. 
As you can see in the pictures, the peppermint filling ended up spilling out of the cupcakes! However, the unsettling first impression you receive from these cupcakes can easily hidden by frosting. I also chose to let these babies sit a little to set as well as cool - I was definitely not content on letting the filling mix with my icing!
This delish Hint of Mint buttercream frosting also came from as well. 
Here is a minuscule problem I ran into during this process, and I am sure I am not the first.....I didn't have any heavy cream on hand! Ironically, I ran into a similar problem a few days prior while baking with my cousins, and found a substitute that worked just as well as the suggested ingredient. If you ever find yourself without heavy cream, just beat flour and milk together in loo of the desired amount in the recipe. In my opinion, it is easiest to just eyeball it, but you should have a good bit more milk than flour. 

 After a splash of green food coloring, the icing is complete! I think the consistency of it is wonderful, light, airy, and a perfect companion to the chocolate cupcakes. A small change I made to the frosting is the addition of more peppermint and vanilla extract than the recipe called for. When I first tasted it, I really couldn't taste any mint! However, after alternating splashes of the two flavors I was able to find a happy medium of the flavor that is a significant part of these tasty candies. I do have one complaint with this icing...I felt like it was too buttery. I don't know whether it was because I undermixed, or because I used salted instead of unsalted...all in all though, this frosting is too good of an opportunity to pass up. If you choose to recreate this recipe, I suggest using 1 1/2 sticks of butter. If the consistency ends up being off, than it is a good idea to add more sugar and a little less liquid.
Here are the final cupcakes! I think that this recipe was consistently easy to make, and I was able to get lucky with the various changes I made to the batter. As Jasmine and I learned a few posts ago with our Buttermilk Blueberry Raspberry Breakfast Cake, while baking,  it is difficult to just add in ingredients as you please, which is the case when cooking. To pipe, I used a freezer bag equipped with a medium sized opening to frost the treats. After realizing that a plastic bag really wasn't doing the trick (my Wilton kit was with Jasmine, as she was taking a class), I ended up smoothing the cupcakes over with an icing knife. I also garnished them with pieces of the candies that were left from my filling. These cupcakes were a hit with my family, and I personally could not get enough of them! And I will let you in on a little secret - I usually do not eat what I bake! Although I am payed many positive compliments on various treats I bring to parties or share with family and friends, I usually do not end up personally liking tastes of my creations. Anyway, long story short, if I like them, than you'll LOVE them! I will definitely be making these candy inspired cupcakes again!

Stay Sweet, Candee

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