Sunday, May 20, 2012

Margarita Cupcakes

I have a confession. I do not like margaritas. Never have, and I am pretty sure I never will. That said, I've saved multiple recipes for margarita cupcakes waiting for a chance to make them because they always look cute and are raved about. The perfect occasion to make these came when my friend's 30th birthday celebration fell on cinco de mayo this year. I used a shortcut cupcake recipe with cake mix, and I think it came out perfect. I found this on Homemade by Holman. The egg whites kept this nice and fluffy. I used the Skinny Girl margarita mix in these instead of a separate margarita mix and tequila. The only reason I did this is because I had it on hand. And as I already said, I don't care for margaritas, so what else was I going to do with that bottle? If any one would like the rest of it, come on over!

For the cupcakes, you will need:
*1 box white cake mix
*8 ounces Skinny Girl Margarita
*1/2 ounce orange juice
*3 large egg whites
*2 tablespoons vegetable oil
*zest of 1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin tins.

2. In a large measuring cup, mix together margarita and orange juice.

3. Pour cake mix into a mixing bowl. Add egg whites, oil, lime zest and margarita/OJ. Briefly beat on low speed until dry ingredients are incorporated and then beat on medium high speed for about 2 minutes.

4. Fill batter into muffin wells until about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool about 5 minutes in the pan and then cool completely on wire racks. Once completely cooled, frost with the recipe below.

For the frosting, you will need:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

*1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
4 cups powdered sugar

*1 tsp lime zest

*3-4 drops green food coloring

1. Beat cream cheese and butter on medium high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Stir in the lime juice and zest. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed until incorporated. If needed, add more lime juice and/or powdered sugar until you reach your desired frosting consistency. Add food coloring a drop at a time and beat on medium high speed until desired color is reached.

3. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. I topped these with green sprinkles I had on hand. You could also add paper straws and limes like I did on these mojito cupcakes. Refrigerate cupcakes in an airtight container if not serving immediately and bring to room temperature a couple hours prior to serving.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crockpot Cheddar Chicken Tacos

I'm finding that our favorite crockpot recipes often include beer. BBQ Beer Shredded Chicken is a regular in our menu rotation and a favorite of many friends as well. As soon as I saw this recipe on How Sweet it is I knew we'd love it. The first time I made this for a potluck dinner and forgot to add the cheese. It was tasty, but much better when we finally tried it again and added the cheddar. Crockpot meals are perfect as the warmer weather starts. You can have a home cooked meal without heating the house by turning on the stove.

You will need:
*4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
*3/4 cup beer
*1 tablespoon chili powder
*1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
*1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
*1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*1/4 teaspoon onion powder
*pinch of cayenne pepper
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon pepper
*3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
*taco shells or corn tortillas
*toppings of your choice, suggestions: Greek yogurt, avocado, salsa, sliced red onion, black beans, mixed greens, additional cheese, etc.

1. In a bowl, make the taco seasoning by stirring together chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. In a measuring cup, combine the 3/4 cup beer with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning and whisk together.

2. Place chicken in the crockpot and top with seasoned beer. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

3. Shred chicken. Taste and season with leftover taco seasoning if desired. Right before serving, turn off the crockpot and mix the cheddar cheese into the shredded chicken. Immediately transfer the cheesy chicken to a large bowl so the cheese does not make a mess of your crockpot!

4. Serve the tacos with any topping you'd like. We used corn tortillas, red onion slices, mixed greens, and Greek yogurt. The leftover chicken also made great taco salads for lunches.