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Easter Basket Cupcakes {Lemon Coconut}

Easter will be here before we know it, so today I have a fun and yummy treat to share with y'all. I know Easter is always filled with sugary sweets, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and those famous colored Easter peeps. It's hard to avoid the sugar this time of year, and my mind is already in sugar overload just thinking about it. Tradition is tradition so it's hard to steer clear of all the sweets. 

 
Honestly I don't put near as much candy as my mom used to put in our Easter Baskets. Instead I try to give my kiddos an even combination of candy and a few fun items (coloring books, crazy socks, books, puzzles, stuffed bunnies, stickers, bubbles, flarp puddy, play doh) and any other fun items I can get my hands on. The Easter department at Walmart usually has a great selection to choose from at great prices.

One thing I always do for any holiday is bake some type of special treat to celebrate (a cake, cookies, or special holiday bread). A week or so back my kids and I made these cute Lemon Coconut Easter Basket Cupcakes that turned out so adorable and they were a huge hit. 

I used a Lemon Supreme Cake mix for the cupcakes and Vanilla Pudding Butter Cream for the frosting. If you're a lemon lover you can use a Lemon pudding mix instead of vanilla. I know some folks frown on using cake mixes, but I love them. They come in all sorts of flavors and are perfect for so many recipes. 

Also with a few simple changes ingredient wise you can make a boxed cake mix taste just like a bakery cake. I usually add a extra egg than what is called for on the box and use milk in place of water. You can also substitute melted butter in place of oil, butI used canola oil  in this recipe.  
 

The frosting is a new recipe I came across on Pinterest and I love it! It's made from a dry pudding mix and isn't sweet at all. It's light, fluffy and holds it's shape when decorating. With all the pudding flavors out there I can think of so many flavor combinations.  I used a vanilla pudding mix, but I think lemon would pair perfectly with these cupcakes.

All of the ingredients pictured above were purchased at my local Walmart. Start by baking the cupcakes according to the package directions. Add one extra egg and substitute milk in place of water and add the oil. Let the cupcakes cool completely on a baking rack.

Choose some fun items to fill the Easter Basket Cupcakes. I picked out some small Lindt chocolate rabbits, yellow Easter peep bunnies, Starburst jelly beans and Hershey's chocolate eggs. The Hershey's eggs were a bit large, so i think the small robin eggs might be a better option. 

Remove all the candies from their packaging and tint the coconut green (to resemble Easter grass). To color the coconut just combine a few drops of green food coloring or icing paste with 1 teaspoon water; add a couple drops to 2 cups coconut and stir until evenly tinted (I added the coconut to a zip lock bag and shook it to combine). Now your ready to decorate the cupcakes.

Start by filling a pastry bag with frosting and pipe on each cupcake (I used the star tip). Next sprinkle on the colored coconut to resemble Easter grass. 

Add one sour punch straw into each side of the cupcake to make the handle for the Easter baskets (I found the sour punch straws in the checkout isles). Place a chocolate bunny or Easter peep in the center of each cupcake (pushing down into the cupcake). Decorate with desired candies and refrigerate the cupcakes before serving.



Easter Basket Cupcakes {Lemon Coconut}

1 - box Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix
4 - eggs
1/4 - cup canola oil
1 - cup milk
24 - Easter cupcake liners
2 - cups sweetened coconut flakes

Pudding Butter Cream Frosting: 
1/2 - cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 - cup shortening, softened coconut oil or use all butter
1 - (3.56 oz) box Lemon or Vanilla instant pudding mix (4 serving size) 
1/2 - cup cold milk + extra for thinning
1 - cup powdered sugar
1/2 - teaspoon clear vanilla extract (omit if using lemon pudding)
 
Candy Decorations: 
green icing paste or green food coloring
sour punch straws
Lindt small chocolate rabbits
blue or yellow Easter Peep bunnies
Starburst jelly beans or similar
robin eggs, Hershey's chocolate eggs, or m&m's

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Line 24 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl, prepare cake mix as directed on box (adding the eggs, oil and water). 

Fill prepared cups three-fourths full of batter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

In a large bowl mix the pudding mix with 1/2 cup milk. Set aside in the refrigerator or freezer until thick (about 3 minutes). 

In a large bowl mix the butter and shortening together until creamy. Add the thickened pudding and mix to combine. Add the powdered sugar and blend again. Add additional milk 1 tablespoon as a time until the desired consistency is achieved. 

Fill pastry bag with frosting and pipe on cupcakes.  Add the coconut to a large zip lock bag. Add the water and food coloring and seal the bag. Shake until combined and the coconut is tinted.

Sprinkle colored coconut onto each cupcake over the frosting. Add a sour punch straw poking it into the cupcake to resemble the handle for the basket. 


Decorate with chocolate bunnies or Easter peeps. If using chocolate bunnies make sure to push them down into the cupcake). Decorate with desired candies to finish. Refrigerate the cupcakes before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Cook's Note: To tint the coconut green, combine a few drops green food coloring or icing paste with 1 teaspoon water; add to 2 cups coconut. Stir until evenly tinted (I added the coconut to a zip lock bag and shook it to combine).  Also if you're allergic to coconut you can  omit the coconut and use a white chocolate pudding mix and tint the frosting green to resemble the grass.

Frosting recipe adapted from: Dessert First Dinner Later
Recipe yields: 24 cupcakes 

 



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The Vintage Look with Scentsationals Edison Wax Warmer

Are you a fan of fragrance wax warmers? I own a large Better Homes and Gardens Warmer as well as a small outlet style warmer. I use my warmers all the time and they've become part of my everyday life. Before wax warmers I used tart warmers religiously, but I got tired of always buying tea lights which are not very safe. 

Wax warmers use a safe, clean heat source a (light bulb) to melt the wax. This is a much safer option for me. It was three years ago when I discovered these neat little fragrance warmers (I know I'm always behind on things). I was instantly hooked and have been using my Everyday Expressions Warmer ever since. It's amazing what the power of scent can do for not only your home, but your mood as well.    

I don't how many times someone has come in my home and asked me what I have baking? I always giggle and say nothing, and point them to my warmer. I'm addicted to all the baking scents, but if the food flavors are not for you Scentsationals has a wide variety of scents to choose from. 

 
Well, last week Walmart gave me the opportunity to try out the new line of Vintage style Scentsationals Edison Wax Warmers.  As soon as I heard the new Edison warmers were vintage style I was instantly on board. I received the Nautical Warmer and I couldn't be happier.

The Nautical warmer is designed to mimic seaside dock lightening. Actually all of the Edison Warmers resemble small vintage style lamps. I think the new Edison Style Warmer fits my decor perfectly. The new Scentsationals Edison line has 10 different warmer designs, so there's something to suit everyone. 

The Edison Wax Warmer is simple to use. Just plug the warming unit into a standard outlet, place one scented wax cube on the warming tray, turn the switch on and enjoy! Within minutes your house will be filled with a fabulous fragrance. I stared to smell the release of fragrance within 10 - 15 minutes.  

I prefer to use two wax cubes, but one cube is usually sufficient. If you know me I over do everything, so this is no surprise that I use two. Always make sure the warming tray is big enough to hold two cubes. Some trays are deeper than others, so always test the tray with one wax cube to start out.  

All of the Edison Warmers are fitted with a 40W vintage/Edison bulb. The bases of the warmers are clear so you can so you can see the beautiful bulb design. On most typical warmers the light bulb isn't even visible unless you lift up the warming tray. 

With the light bulbs being visible I think it gives the warmers an old fashioned feel. The new Nautical warmer fits perfectly on my bookshelf in the living room. It gives off just the right amount of light and really enhances the style and decor of my home.

Once the warmer no longer releases any scent it's time to change out the wax. Cleaning the Edison warmers are really simple and similar to traditional warmers. Turn the warmer off, pour the melted wax back into the original cube trays, and wipe the wax holder clean with a paper towel. Add a different scent or stick with your favorite. Turn the warmer off and unplug when the warmer is not in use. 
 
One thing I did notice on the Edison warmer is that when I turn the warmer off to cool the wax cubes slide right out of the holder when cooled. I'm not sure if this how it is suppose to happen, but it comes in handy when I interchange the scents. So far it has happened every time I turn off the warmer and let it completely cool, so I'm loving that part. 

The new Scentsational Edison Wax Warmers are priced at $19.88 and are available in store and online nationwide. I was excited to see that my local Walmart already has plenty in stock, because I was wanting to get the Hurricane Lamp warmer for our bedroom. If your local Walmart does not carry the Edison warmers you can purchase them online at Walmart.com. Don't forget to take advantage of their Free Site to Store Shipping.

The Scentsational wax cubes are available in a wide variety of scents, so there's plenty to choose from. I have several favorite scents, so I purchase the scents individually for $2 a package, but Walmart also carries value packs. Each value pack is priced at $10.50 and comes with a decorative box to store all your different scents together. 

I think the new Edison Warmers would make the perfect house warming or birthday gift for that special someone.  What do you think?

Note: I also wanted to mention that Walmart carries the Edison replacement bulbs for $3.97. They are located near the Edison Warmers themselves. If you are unable to locate the replacement bulbs at Walmart you can also purchase them at Scentsationalscents.com.


 

     

April Menu - Menu Plan Monthly

Happy Tuesday everyone! Today I have my April Menu Plan to share with you. Spring has sprung, so that means warmer temperatures and fingers crossed that old man winter is behind us. I'm looking forward to grilling outside more and finally getting our vegetable and herb garden started. Spring is always a bumping ride in Texas, so you never know what your going to get weather wise. I have incorporated everything from grilling to crock pot meals for this month, so I hope you find something you and your family will love! I have also included my Easter Dinner Menu in case you are looking for a little inspiration. Enjoy!
 
April  Dinner Menu

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken {New} Skillet Mac & Cheese & Baked Beans
Not My Mama's Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes & Steamed Carrots
Coney Dogs & French Fries
Hawaiian Meatballs & Brown Rice, Roasted Asparagus & Fresh Pineapple
Chicken Taco's & Cheese Quesadilas 
King Hawaiian French Toast, Bacon & Scrambled Eggs {Breakfast for Dinner}
Miss Kay's Jambalaya {New} & Cornbread

Salisbury Steak & Gravy, Brown Rice & Roasted Broccoli 
Lasagna {New}, Salad & Ranch Bread {New}
Soup & Sandwich Night


This Months Desserts:
Strawberry Soda Pop Cake 

Titles in Red are linked recipes. Recipes that have {New} noted next to them are recipes I'm working on and will post as I prepare them.

 
Looking for more Menu Planning inspiration? Check out the Menu Plan section at  Mommy’s Kitchen where I have over 5 years of Dinner Menu's listed. 

     


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No Bake Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cookies {A New Addiction}

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies are on the top of my favorite cookie list. I'm a bit of a Cookie Monster, so I try not to make cookies too often, but no bake cookies are always hard to resist. No bake cookies are an old fashioned recipe, and probably why I love them so much. They're made with pantry staple ingredients that I always have on hand.

Awhile back I received a jar of the new Jif Salted Caramel Hazel Nut Spread in the mail. It's  been sitting in my pantry for about a month now, and I haven't even opened it (I know hard to believe).  Well a couple days ago my daughter opened it and ever since then we haven't been able to keep our spoons out of it.


We almost polished off the whole jar before I thought about using it to make these tasty cookies. As soon as I got my first taste I knew instantly that this salted caramel spread would make the best no bake cookie. No bake cookies can be tricky to make and several people have a hard time making them.

The key to making successful no bake cookies, is to boil the mixture for the perfect amount of time. Boiling the mixture too long and the cookies can become hard and crumbly. Not boiling them long enough and the cookies won't set up. I have found that boiling the sugar mixture for exactly 1 1/2 minutes usually does the trick.



Weather can also play a role in your cookies setting up. Make sure it's a dry day and not a humid one, because these cookies don't take a liking to humidity. Chocolate no bake cookies are a lot like making candy and are very sensitive to humidity. 
Now that I have discovered no bake cookies with salted caramel there's no looking back! In fact I need to pick up a jar when I head to the grocery store, because it's due time for another batch. Let's get started and make some cookies!

In a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat add butter, sugar, cocoa powder or chocolate squares, milk and salt.  Stir until butter is melted and ingredients are incorporated. Bring to a full rolling boil, and boil for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly (I use a wire whisk).

Remove from heat and using a wooden spoon stir in chocolate salted caramel hazelnut spread, vanilla and oatmeal, mix well. Working quickly before the mixture cools scoop by tablespoons onto wax paper or foil. Let cool completely then remove once the cookies have set up.  




No Bake Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cookies
{mommyskitchen.net}

2 - cups granulated sugar
2  - tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder  

1/2 - cup butter
1/2 - cup whole milk
1/8 - teaspoon salt

1/2 - cup Jif Salted Caramel Hazelnut Spread 
2 - cups old fashioned oats
1 - teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat add butter, sugar, cocoa powder or chocolate squares, milk and salt. 
 
Stir until butter is melted and ingredients are incorporated. Bring to a full rolling boil, and boil for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly (I used a wire whisk).

Remove from heat and using a wooden spoon stir in chocolate hazelnut spread, vanilla and oatmeal, mix well. Working quickly before the mixture cools scoop by tablespoons onto wax paper or foil.  


Let cool completely then remove once the cookies have set up.  

Recipe yields: about 24 cookies


Cook's Note: The cookies get their shiny gloss from not touching or disturbing the cookies once you have dropped them on wax or foil. Also 2 - (1 oz) squares unsweetened Bakers chocolate can be substituted for unsweetened cocoa powder.


Need more recipe ideas? Check out the Recipe Index by Mommy’s Kitchen.


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Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole & Half-Smashed Refried Beans

 
I have two tasty recipes to share with you today. The first one is this beautiful Cheesy Spanish Rice Casserole. I love Spanish rice and this casserole is one my favorites. I got this recipe about 25 years ago from my mother in law at the time.  Her version was pretty basic, so I've tweaked it a bit over the years, and finally found the perfect combination. 

This casserole is filled with Spanish rice, ground beef, tomatoes, spices and and lots of cheese. It's perfect for a quick weeknight dinner served with a salad, rolled up in flour tortillas, or paired with a side of re fried beans. 

When I make this cheesy casserole I usually serve it with re fried beans and flour tortillas. Most times I just open a can of prepared beans, but this time I used Bush's easy Half-Smashed Refried Beans.

This recipe did not take any longer that using canned refried beans. After tasting this recipe I wont be using prepared beans anymore, and using this recipe instead. These beans were packed full of flavor from the addition of chicken broth, salsa, hot sauce and a hint of beer. 


I used Bush's regular pinto beans, but did you know that Bush's has Reduced-Sodium Beans? These new beans are perfect for anyone trying to reduce their sodium intake. The best part is the reduced sodium beans have the same great taste and texture as Bush's regular beans. Click on the link above to find out which bean varieties are available.


Lets get started and I will s how you how easy this casserole came together. Start by heating on tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet. Add the rice and cook for about 5 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown color. 

Add the diced tomatoes, salsa, cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a  boil and then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the liquid is almost absorbed and the rice it tender.


While the rice is cooking start on the meat. Using a large oven proof skillet brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent in color. Drain off any grease. When the rice mixture is done add it to the ground beef and gently mix to combine. 

Add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Top with shredded cheese and bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and add chopped cilantro and serve.


I hope you give both of these recipes a try, because they go perfectly together.



Spanish Rice Casserole

{mommyskitchen.net}

1 1/2 - cup long grain rice
1 - tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 - (14.5 oz) can diced chili ready tomatoes 
1/2 - cup mild salsa or picante sauce
1/2 - teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 - teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 - teaspoon onion powder
1/2 - teaspoon garlic powder
1 - teaspoon chili powder
4 - cups low sodium chicken broth
1 - lb lean ground beef or turkey, browned
1 - small onion, chopped
1 - clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 - 8 oz package shredded sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat canola oil in a large skillet and add rice cook for about 5 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown color.

Add the diced tomatoes, salsa, cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder, and chicken broth. Stir to combine. 

Bring the mixture to a  boil and then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the liquid is almost absorbed and the rice it tender.   

While the rice is cooking in a large oven proof skillet brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent in color. Drain off any grease.

When the rice mixture is done add it to the ground beef and gently mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.  

Top with shredded cheese and bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and add chopped cilantro and serve.




Half-Smashed Refried Beans


1 - (16 oz) can Bush's mild chili beans
1 - (16 oz) can Bush's low sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 - cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 - cup mild salsa
2 oz - Mexican or other beer, optional
Dash of hot sauce

Add chili beans to a 4-quart saucepan and mash gently with a potato masher or the back of a fork. 

Stir in remaining ingredient. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until mixture is heated through.

servings: 4 
adapted from: Bush's Beans


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bush’s Beans. As always, opinions stated above are 100% entirely my own.

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