I call these “Thank You Muffins” because I make them to thank anyone who comes to my house – our landscapers, the mulch guys, the electrician, the plumber, the septic guys, and sometimes even our UPS guy! It’s my personal way of letting them all know how much I appreciate the work these people do to make my life easier… and doesn’t everyone like to know they are appreciated?
I’ve been sharing this recipe for years… and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon. I love having a recipe in my arsenal that uses a short list of ingredients, comes together quickly, and is (in my opinion) fool-proof… this recipe hits every one of those criteria!
1 box cake mix – I used chocolate cake, but you can use any flavor or brand you like best. Sale brands are great to keep on hand for this recipe.
1 can solid pack pumpkin – I typically buy 10 cans at a time, simply so I am always able to whip up a batch of muffins whenever needed
A small handful of Mini chocolate chips – off-brands are fine to use – they play a supporting role in this recipe.
A small amount of wine – I use red wine with chocolate, carrot cake, or spice cake muffins…. white wine with yellow cake, or anywhere I don’t want that pink hue to show. This is a great way to use up any “leftover wine”.
Preheat your oven to 375*F
Cover two large cookie trays with parchment paper.
Put your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. If using a carrot cake recipe, feel free to let the mixture rest a little to allow the dehydrated carrots to plump a bit… it’s not necessary, but can help as you’re doling the mixture onto trays.
Scoop mixture onto cookie trays using a small cookie scoop. NOTE: I use the smallest cookie scoop from Pampered Chef, but will occasionally use the medium sized cookie scoop. The only difference will be in your cooking time and the number of muffin balls you can make. If I use the smallest scoop, I can make approximately 25 muffin balls/tray. Using the medium scoop only allows me to make approximately 18 muffin balls/tray.
Bake muffins in preheated 375* oven for 15-18 minutes (18-22 min for medium muffins).
Remove and allow to cool – I pull the muffins/parchment off the tray so the bottoms of the muffins don’t continue to cook.
Here are some photos of the process:
Another alternative is to make this recipe into full-sized muffins, using a muffin tin, or even baking it in a 9×13 baking pan and cutting into pieces. The recipe itself is incredibly adaptable, but your baking times will need to be adjusted. I love having bites of cake to share with people, so this is my personal preference.
I hope you find this recipe helpful. I have written it down a few different times and have made many different versions, all of which have been delicious. Feel free to message me here, or on my FromTheBottomOfAWineBottle Facebook page, if you have any questions!
It’s summer! The time of fresh fruit and lazy days… the time when you want to be able to go outside and enjoy your friends and family… the time for easy or starter recipes… This is when I like to have a few recipes on hand that make my life a little easier, especially on those days when the temperature is high and my energy is not. For those days, I give you the Summer Watermelon Salad!
This recipe couldn’t be easier… four ingredients and easy to adjust for the number of people you’re feeding! This is actually one of my favorite lunches… light and simple, it just screams “SUMMER” to me.
Watermelon – cut into bite-size pieces. Use as much or as little as you like, but this is your *main* ingredient. I typically use about 3 cups.
Feta cheese – I like to use crumbled *light* feta, but you can use whatever type makes you happy. I dump in some from the container – about 1/2 cup.
Basil – if I have fresh, I take a small handful and cut into a chiffonade (little ribbons). If not, I take a generous pinch of dried. I’ve done both and fresh is definitely better in this – it’s a wonderful flavor!
White wine – I use what I have in my fridge, about 1/8-1/4 cup total. I’ve used dry (Chardonnay and Pinot Gris/Grigio) and I’ve used semi-sweet/off-dry (Vidal Blanc and Viogner)… use what you like!
Cut watermelon into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with feta cheese and basil. Toss lightly and adjust amounts as needed.
Thumb 1/8-1/4 cup of white wine over the salad and allow time to marinate before serving.
I typically drain a bit of the liquid off before serving. This ends up being a mixture of wine and watermelon juice that isn’t really necessary.
This is a great example of how I use “The Force” when cooking… so many variations to make this salad and it’s always delicious. Hope you’ll try it and come up with your own favorite way to make this salad!
I have a confession to make… I’m usually lousy at cooking salmon. Since I found two pieces on “mega-sale” at the store today, I thought I’d give it one more try to see if I could come up with something really yummy. I have to say that this entire meal ended up being one of my favorites… and it was ridiculously easy! This post isn’t just a recipe for dinner, it’s also got a great side dish (I serve these potatoes for Easter EVERY year) and a salad dressing. If you’re looking for an easy and impressive dinner, this is it. Yum!
Ingredients for Salmon:
Coconut oil (or your favorite fat/oil)
2T jam (I used Loganberry jam)
2t balsamic vinegar
2t white wine (I used a lightly oaked chardonnay)
Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. In a hot saute’ pan, melt coconut oil and then sear the seasoned side of the salmon filets.
As the salmon sears in the hot oil, blend the glaze. You’ll need to warm the jam for 10 seconds in the microwave. You’re not trying to melt the jam… you just want it loose enough to blend with the vinegar and wine. You’ll want to adjust the seasonings with a little salt and pepper…. make sure to taste the glaze before using it.
Once the one side of the salmon is nicely browned, turn the fillet over and pour the glaze over top. Since the salmon won’t be thoroughly cooked, I put the entire pan into the oven and allow the fish to roast until dinner is done.
NOTE: I started the potatoes about 30-40 minutes before I began making the salmon, so the house already smelled amazing before I started on the fillets.
Ingredients for Scalloped Potatoes (This recipe serves two/three. You can add/subtract as needed to serve more people)
Three medium potatoes (I like to use Gold potatoes)
Half an onion
Flour (1/4-1/3 cup)
Shredded cheese (I used 1/2 bag of sharp cheddar)
Milk (I only have skim in the house, so that’s what I used)
Directions for Scalloped Potatoes
Slice potatoes thin (I use a mandolin, but that’s not necessary as long as the slices are all equally thin)
Slice onion in half (you only need 1/4 onion for each layer) and slice as thin as potatoes
Layer your dish:
Sprinkle with flour (this will ultimately thicken your cheese sauce, so don’t skimp)
Season lightly with salt and pepper
Thumb wine lightly over mixture
Top with a light layer of cheese
Repeat layer, ending with cheese
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender and the top is bubbling and browned.
This recipe showed me that, with a little ingenuity and imagination, I could create a fabulous, easy, “guest-worthy” meal that would satisfy all my expectations. This is a starter recipe that will impress the pickiest visitor… try it and see what YOU think!
BONUS RECIPE: I’d like to share my absolute favorite salad dressing recipe with you. This recipe makes an impressive amount of dressing that is much lower in calorie than you’d ever imagine. I have NEVER actually measured the ingredients for this dressing, so you’ll have to forgive me for not including any.
Blend the following ingredients:
Balsamic Vinegar (a small puddle in the bottom of a salad bowl)
Mustard (I tend to use horseradish mustard or dijon mustard)
1 envelope of sweetener (Equal or Splenda, depending on what’s in the house)
1T of a prepared dressing (I typically use a creamy dressing of some sort)
Mix ingredients together and toss with thinly sliced romaine. This is full of flavor and better than you’d expect!
When you’re cooking, it’s always nice to have a great basic recipe for an easy pasta sauce in your arsenal. Something that you can pull together with items from your pantry can make you feel prepared to whip up a great dinner any night of the week. This is that sort of a recipe… it’s foolproof, yet easy to adapt to each family’s favorite tastes, which makes it a perfect “starter recipe” to have on hand.
1-28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (you’ll only need an amount the size of your thumb)
Seasonings (I like Italian Seasonings, Basil, and Oregano, as well as salt & pepper)
Red wine (Use as much or as little as you like – I used a dry red that I had in the fridge)
Balsamic Vinegar (One of my favorite ingredients to use to punch up the flavor)
Brown Sugar (I used 2 spoons-worth, but use as much or as little as you like)
In a medium saucepan, blend the entire can of crushed tomatoes, a thumb-worth of tomato paste, the seasonings and red wine. Once this mixture simmers for a bit, add a bit of the vinegar and the brown sugar… make sure to taste your pasta sauce as it cooks and adjust the seasonings as needed.
For the latest dinner, I roasted a few turkey meatballs and added them to the sauce before dinner. I served the meatballs and sauce on a bed of cooked thin spaghetti and it was a huge hit… everyone soaked up the last bits of sauce with pieces of bread, which is a positive sign in our house.
Hope you enjoy making this sauce for your own family… feel free to adjust and alter ingredients to make this sauce your own!
It’s been awhile since I last wrote… but that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped cooking, or planning out recipes for this blog! Here’s an amazing (and easy) recipe that is sure to impress even the pickiest of guests who enjoy shrimp. I love pulling a dinner together in under 20-30 minutes, and this recipe is one that delivers every single time. I hope you’ll try it and make it your own!
1 bag of frozen raw shrimp (I buy mine whenever they’re on sale at the local grocer and keep them in the freezer… anything sized large or above is worth the money, in my opinion)
1 jar of your favorite preserves (I happen to like using fig preserves these days, but apricot or any light colored fruit would work well)
Butter (just a pat to sear the shrimp) and olive oil (just 1T for searing shrimp)
Wine (or your preferred liquid of choice)
1 package microwave brown rice (for convenience… feel free to use the cheaper stuff if you’d prefer)
Peel shrimp and have them ready to cook. I always remove the tails because I hate the idea of having to put the empty tail shell back on my plate. I also like to salt/pepper my shrimp prior to cooking, but it’s up to you if you want to do this step.
Put butter and olive oil into a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium high. Allow the fats to mingle and get really hot..
Sear shrimp on both sides in the hot butter/oil mixture – my husband likes them to have a bit of “crisp” to the edges, so that’s how I make it in our house. Just make sure the shrimp is thoroughly cooked before making your sauce.
In a small bowl, make your sauce using the juice of the lemon, some wine (I used a half cup of sparkling white wine that we had in the fridge, but feel free to use whatever you have), and a few spoonfuls of preserves. Mix everything together.
Add sauce to the cooked shrimp and allow to thicken.
Pop brown rice in the microwave and cook on high for 90 seconds (this is why I prefer to use this type of rice… so easy and quick!)
Once the sauce has thickened, plate your meal with some brown rice, spoon the shrimp evenly between the dishes, and pour over the sauce.
Yes, it’s just THAT easy. Now, enjoy the compliments that come raining your way.
I have altered this recipe in many different ways, but I really love the way that lemon compliments shrimp. If you want, you can make a vegetable and top the veggie with some lemon zest… brings all parts of the meal together nicely. Last time, I used a bag of green beans, tossed the cooked beans with a pat of butter, salt/pepper, and the lemon zest. It was fabulous! Using the preserves counteracts the strong tart taste of the lemon juice and really does a nice job of pulling everything together. Enjoy!
NOTE: If making this shrimp dish, don’t use a red or deep colored preserve as it will make the shrimp look as if it’s under cooked or raw. Trust me… I did this once and will never forget the reaction.