Coffee Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

Okay, raise your hand if cupcakes are your favorite sweet treat. Me too! I love cupcakes and in general, I prefer them to their cake counterparts. Even when I use the exact same recipe, cupcakes beat cake every time. When I first experimented with this recipe a few years ago, I realized I had a winner on my hands. The first batch didn’t even last a day in my house and my family was begging me to make more. Since then it has become a favorite amongst my friends and family. My best friend even requests I make her cupcakes instead of buying her a birthday present. The cupcakes produced from this recipe are wonderfully rich and decadent making them the perfect guilty pleasure.

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This recipe originated as a maple cupcake from one of my favorite recipe books Cupcakes by Susannah Blake. Her recipe, though delicious, was too rich for my tastes. This resulted in several batches of experimental cupcakes in an attempt to create a satisfying alternative. Given my love of vanilla lattes, I decided to try a coffee flavored cake and with the help of my dad’s supply of Starbucks Via packets, I succeeded.

With the addition of the coffee flavoring, the batter takes on a beautiful golden brown color. From here it is as simple as spooning the mix into cupcake liners and then into the oven for 17 minutes.

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Once the cupcakes are done baking out of the oven and onto a cooling rack they go! While the cupcakes cool, it is time to start making the frosting.

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I adapted a basic buttercream to make this fluffy maple buttercream. The coffee flavor of the cake blends beautifully with the buttercream for a decadent treat perfect for dessert or pairing with coffee for a morning snack.

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Coffee Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
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Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 stick (8 tbsp.) of room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 instant coffee to-go tube (I like the Starbucks Via Pike’s Place) dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water

Frosting

  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk

 

Directions

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine the butter and sugar and beat until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer to low and add to the wet ingredients a bit at a time until fully incorporated.
  4. Turn off the mixer and add the milk and coffee. Stir until just combined and then turn the mixer on low for 1 minute.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners and place in oven.
  6. Bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.
  7. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and allow the cupcakes to cool for at least 15 minutes. While the cupcakes cool start making the frosting.

Frosting

  1. Add the butter to the mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the sugar a 1/4 cup at a time. Set the mixer to low and beat until well mixed. Add one tablespoon of maple syrup with each cup of powdered sugar.
  2. Add the milk and mix until smooth. Once the cupcakes are cool to the touch, frost and enjoy!

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White Bean Chili

Chili is one of my favorite dishes. There is just something so satisfying about sitting down with a big bowl of chili and some cornbread. Which is why it is such a disappointment to me that my school makes such poor chili. Good chili should have some kick to it, something that makes you feel warm inside. My mom makes the absolute best chili, but when she isn’t around I have to improvise. This recipe is full of flavor with the perfect amount of heat. The base of this recipe is the ground pork. Ground pork tends to be cheaper than ground beef so by using ground pork instead you save a bit of money while still ensuring the dish has plenty of flavor.

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Once you have all of your ingredients prepared and ready to go, the first thing to do is to start sautéing the onion in about a teaspoon of oil. Cooking the onion on its own first allows it to soften and get a bit of caramelization going which will result in a slightly sweet flavor that plays nicely with the acidity of the tomatoes later. Give the onions a few minutes by themselves before adding the minced garlic. The goal with the onion and garlic is to add a lot of flavor before we get to the heavy hitters – the pork and tomatoes. Plus the smell of onions and garlic cooking is a favorite of mine, guaranteed to make my mouth water.  

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Now it is time to add the pork. I find it is best to cook the pork all the way through before adding any liquid ingredients. This allows you to brown the meat adding another flavor element to the dish. Once the meat is cooked through it is time to add the seasoning to the dish. This is where the bulk of the “chili” flavor is developed. To the meat mixture add the chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and half of the oregano. Reserve the remaining half of the oregano to add with the broth later. IMG_1142

While the meat is browning, it is time to strain and rinse the beans. IMG_1143

Once the meat is browned and delicious it is time to add the bulk of our chili – the cannellini beans and the tomatoes. Most chili recipes call for crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, but I find the diced tomatoes add a nice element to the chili.

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Let the tomatoes and beans cook with the meat and onion mixture for a minute or two to really meld the flavors together. Now it is time to add the chicken broth, remaining oregano, and crushed red pepper for some heat. 

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After about twenty minutes it is time to add the flour slurry. This will thicken the broth up nicely. Once the broth has thickened it is ready to eat. Serve and enjoy! I like to pair mine with a nice cornbread muffin. 

Potential Variation: When corn is in-season I like to add it to just about everything. One potential variation for this recipe is to add about a cup of corn 🌽 (fresh or frozen will do nicely) to the dish when you add the crushed red pepper to the pot. I find corn adds a nice bit of brightness to the dish. 

White Bean Chili

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp.  dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 14.5 oz. can of cannellini beans
  • 14.5 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz. of chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp. all purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a medium pot heat 1 tsp. of oil over medium-low heat and add the diced onion. Heat until the onions have softened and start to go translucent about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Once the onion has softened add the minced garlic and stir.
  3. After about 2 minutes add the ground pork and stir, breaking the meat apart with a spoon.
  4. Once the meat is cooked through add the chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and half of the oregano.
  5. Add the beans and tomatoes to the pot of seasoned meat. Cook on low for 2 minutes stirring frequently.
  6. Add the chicken broth, remaining oregano, and the crushed red pepper. Simmer on low for 20-25 minutes.
  7. While the broth is simmering make a flour slurry by combining 1 tbsp. flour and 1 cup of the hot broth. Whisk until completely combined. Add the slurry to the chili and stir.

Enjoy!!

Homemade Pork Meatballs

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Spaghetti with Homemade Meatballs

I came up with this recipe one night when I had a giant craving for meatballs. I tend to be a pasta purist, just pasta and marinara sauce– boring, I know. But that night I had a hankering for meatballs and I knew I had ground pork in the fridge so I figured why not give it a shot? Going off the knowledge I’d gleaned from hours of Food Network marathons and Chopped episodes I managed to throw together a pretty tasty bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. I jotted down what I’d done and got to dining. A few weeks later I gave the recipe another go and found even without a craving the meatballs hit the spot nicely. Now I am proud to present the recipe to you.

Yield: Fifteen 1-inch meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. Ground Pork
  • 1/2 Small Onion (diced)
  • 1/2 Beaten Egg
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning (marjoram, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, savory, sage)
  • 1/2 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. oil (olive oil or canola oil work well)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the oil and mix to combine.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating up, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  3. Add the meatballs to the pan and cook until the bottoms have browned. Turn the meatballs until they have browned on each side and then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish.
  4. Once all of the meatballs are in the dish, cover with tinfoil and place in a 350ºF oven for 15 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through.
  5. Once the meatballs are cooked through and there is no pink showing transfer to a plate and serve.

Enjoy!

Homemade Pork Meatballs

  • Servings: fifteen meatballs
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. Ground Pork
  • 1/2 Small Onion (diced)
  • 1/2 Beaten Egg
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning (marjoram, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, savory, sage)
  • 1/2 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. oil (olive oil or canola oil work well)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the oil and mix to combine.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating up, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  3. Add the meatballs to the pan and cook until the bottoms have browned. Turn the meatballs until they have browned on each side and then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish.
  4. Once all of the meatballs are in the dish, cover with tinfoil and place in a 350ºF oven for 15 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through.
  5. Once the meatballs are cooked through and there is no pink showing transfer to a plate and serve.

15 Ingredient Meal Plan for One

Hi Guys! Recently I’ve been really into meal planning as I spent the first part of my summer living on my own. It was aneye-opening experience for me in terms of how much food costs and what it takes to eat well by myself. I’ve been cooking at home for years but I’ve never had to worry about budgeting food costs or worries about wasting food. If this sounds like you, I’ve got a 15 ingredient meal plan that will easily feed one person. Now the 15 ingredients do not include kitchen staples like olive oil, butter, or salt and pepper. As for the recipes, I’ve pulled together some basic recipes I make at home as well as some excellent recipes from around the web.


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Shopping List

  1. Chicken Thighs (or the cut of your choice. I prefer thighs because they are cheap and flavorful).
  2. Two Large Sweet Potatoes
  3. Baby Spinach
  4. Two Bell Peppers (I like red and yellow peppers best, but green peppers are usually on sale).
  5. One Dozen Eggs
  6. One Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
  7. One Bag of Onions (a single 3 lb. bag of onions should last you longer than a week, but it is better to buy them all at once then individually each week).
  8. One Bag of Frozen Corn (you can also get a medley of frozen veggies to add variety or stick with whatever vegetable is your favorite).
  9. Sandwich Meat – Ham or Turkey
  10. Two Avocados
  11. One Lime
  12. 1 box of Penne Pasta
  13. Chicken Broth
  14. Strawberries
  15. One Loaf of Sandwich Bread

The Menu

Breakfast

  • Hardboiled Eggs with Fruit – This recipe is pretty basic, just hard boil some eggs and serve with fruit. Ingredients required: Eggs, Strawberries. 
  • Scrambled Eggs with Breakfast Hash – Ingredients required: Eggs, Sweet Potato, Bell Pepper, Onion. You can also add some of the sandwich meat to the eggs if you like to have a little extra flavor.  
  • Avocado Toast – Ingredients required: Bread, Avocado. 

Lunch

  • Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich – Ingredients required: Avocado, Hard Boiled Eggs, Bread, Salt, and Pepper. At its most basic, this recipe only requires avocado and hardboiled eggs, but if you have extra room in the budget or already have some at home a little mustard goes a long way in upping the flavor of this egg salad. Otherwise, a little salt and pepper will have to suffice.
  • Veggie Salad– Ingredients required: Baby Spinach, Bell Peppers, Onion (if desired), Chickpeas, Frozen Corn, Lime Juice. This one is completely up to you, add whatever veggies you prefer and dig in. If you have salad dressing on hand, that’s great, if not a little lime juice is perfect for perking up this salad.
  • Leftovers – This isn’t a recipe so much as a recommendation, all of the dinners make excellent leftovers the next day. I prefer to eat leftovers before putting in the effort to cook something new, but it is totally up to you.
  • Ham Sandwich- Ingredients required: Ham and Bread (optional add-ins include avocado, spinach, and peppers.) To be perfectly honest, this is my go-to for lunch. I’m usually not interested in prepping anything fancy for lunch so a simple ham sandwich does the trick.

Dinner

  • Quick and Easy Pasta for One – Ingredients required: Penne Pasta, Onions, Canned Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Baby Spinach, Frozen Corn, Salt & Pepper.
  • Chicken Soup – Ingredients required: Penne Pasta, Onions, Canned Tomatoes, Sweet Potato, Chicken Broth, Chicken Thighs, Bell Peppers.  
  • Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad – Ingredients required: Chicken Thighs, Sweet Potato, Onion, Spinach, Lime Juice, Salt and Pepper, Olive Oil (or the oil of your choice). 

Chicken Soup with Penne

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Hi Guys!

This tasty recipe is perfect for rainy days. It has rained a lot here in New England this week so chicken soup was the perfect choice for the rainy weather. This is a simple recipe that can be jazzed up to your liking. By cooking the chicken before making the soup it gets a great deal of flavor that can be lost if you cook it in the broth. This recipe makes enough for dinner and leftovers. The bonus with leftovers? The flavors have time to meld together and create an even more delicious soup.


Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme)
  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried minced garlic
  • 1/2 of a bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dry penne pasta
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • salt and pepper ja3LZ

Instructions

  1. To prep the chicken season both sides of each thigh with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Sprinkle one side of each thigh with 1/4 tsp. of the poultry seasoning.
  2. In a medium saucepan heat 1 tsp. of oil over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan and cook until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip the chicken and cook until the meat is white all the way through and golden brown on the outside.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot, cover, and set aside. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the chicken into the fridge until you are ready to add it back into the pot.
  4. To the now empty pot add another tsp. of oil and the diced onions. Saute the onions until they begin to soften and turn translucent, stirring occasionally. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and stir. Continue to cook the mixture for approximately 2 minutes and then add the bell pepper.
  5. Cook until the pepper is soft and then add the tomatoes (make sure to include the juices from the can). Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the remaining poultry seasoning, the penne pasta, and the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil and cook until the pasta is al dente following the time listed on the box.
  7. Once the pasta has finished cooking reduce the heat to low and add the chicken and the frozen corn. Cook for two minutes and then remove the pot from the heat.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Perfect for a rainy day, especially when served with bread for dipping.

Chicken Soup with Penne

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme)
  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried minced garlic
  • 1/2 of a bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dry penne pasta
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. To prep the chicken season both sides of each thigh with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Sprinkle one side of each thigh with 1/4 tsp. of the poultry seasoning.
  2. In a medium saucepan heat 1 tsp. of oil over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan and cook until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip the chicken and cook until the meat is white all the way through and golden brown on the outside.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot, cover, and set aside. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the chicken into the fridge until you are ready to add it back into the pot.
  4. To the now empty pot add another tsp. of oil and the diced onions. Saute the onions until they begin to soften and turn translucent, stirring occasionally. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and stir. Continue to cook the mixture for approximately 2 minutes and then add the bell pepper.
  5. Cook until the pepper is soft and then add the tomatoes (make sure to include the juices from the can). Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the remaining poultry seasoning, the penne pasta, and the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil and cook until the pasta is al dente following the time listed on the box.
  7. Once the pasta has finished cooking reduce the heat to low and add the chicken and the frozen corn. Cook for two minutes and then remove the pot from the heat.

Serve and Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Pasta for One

Hi Guys! This is one of my favorite weekday meals for when I want real food but I am also feeling lazy. All of the ingredients are easy to find and usually pretty affordable making this meal a no brainer weekday fix. I love how simplifying the prep with canned tomato and prewashed baby spinach saves me time meaning I can eat faster. Nothing is worse than being really hungry and having to spend a ton of time cooking. This meal is fast and easy to make plus it tastes great.

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Ingredients

  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1/2 bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup penne pasta
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1/4 frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

  1. Add one teaspoon of olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir. Stir frequently until the onions begin to turn a golden brown color (if the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water and give it a stir). 
  2. When the onions have reached a nice golden color add the garlic and bell pepper. Stir and heat until the pepper has begun to soften. Once the bell pepper has started to soften, add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for about five minutes.
  3. While the sauce is cooking, add 2/3 of a cup of dry penne pasta to a large microwave safe pot. Cover with roughly 1 1/2 cups of water and place in the microwave. Microwave for 3-4 minutes longer than the time on the box. Once the time is up, check the doneness by sampling a piece or two and then strain the excess water in the sink.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add your handful of baby spinach and the frozen corn and stir to combine. Cook until the spinach is wilted and then turn off the heat.
  6. Plate and enjoy!

*This is a basic recipe that lends itself well to experimentation. Add some ground beef or pork to the onions when sauteing for extra protein or experiment with different spices to find your favorite take.