Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Lavender Frosting

Also pictured: Butterbeer Cupcakes

Lemon Curd Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

(I doubled this recipe to make sure I would have enough filling.)

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick/4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (homemade ricotta cheese recipe coming soon)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Lavender Frosting Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream, if needed
  • 1 drop purple food coloring (I used the Violet gel color from Hobby Lobby)
  • Fresh lavender, sugared lemon slices and edible pearls for garnish, optional


  1. In a saucepan, cook and stir the sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the lightly beaten egg. Stir well and return all to the pan. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes longer or until thickened. Stir in lemon zest. Cool for 10 minutes. Cover and completely chill in the fridge.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cupcake baking tin.
  3. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the softened butter and vanilla. Beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add ricotta, milk and lemon juice and mix until combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into cupcake tins, filling each one about 3/4 full. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Rotate the cupcake tin half-way through baking if necessary. Cool completely.
  5. Using a cupcake corer remove the middle of the cupcake. Using a small spoon, fill the holes in each cupcake with a generous amount of lemon curd.
  6. For the frosting you can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add butter to a large bowl and beat until creamy. On low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar and lavender to the bowl. Increase the speed and beat until fluffy and combined. Beat in the vanilla extract. If the frosting is too thick, add the cream or milk. If it is too runny add more powdered sugar a little bit at a time. Use one drop of purple food coloring. The Violet color was a little lighter so I used two drops.
  7. Put desired frosting tip into a piping bag. Add frosting to the bag and frost the cupcakes. Top with edible pearls and small lavender sprigs. Thinly slice lemons into halves and coat both sides with sugar. Place lemons on top of frosted cupcakes.

These were a lot of fun to make and they tasted great! The flavor combination was delightful! I took them to work and they were gone in an instant. I knew the Butterbeer cupcakes were going to go fast because they had been asking me to make them again, but I wasn’t sure how they would respond to the lemon ricotta and lavender. I was pleasantly surprised when those disappeared, too. šŸ™‚

Cauliflower Steak with Jalapeno Creamed Spinach

Cauliflower Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 heads cauliflower, 3 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pepitas – optional

Jalapeno Creamed Spinach Ingredients

  • 16 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove outer leaves from the cauliflower and trim stem, leave the core. Turn cauliflower heads core side down. Cut cauliflower vertically into 1-inch thick steaks.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add cauliflower steaks and cook 4-6 minutes until brown, turning once. Sprinkle with salt, cumin and pepper. Put the pan into the oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove cauliflower from Dutch oven and cover to keep warm. Carefully wipe out Dutch oven.
  3. In the Dutch oven cook the spinach in two batches until wilted. (I add a little butter). Put into a colander and squeeze out the access liquid. Add the oil to the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and jalapeno pepper and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Stir in heavy cream and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until cream starts to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. (If you want it thicker add a little of the cream into a teaspoon of flour or cornstarch, mix until dissolved and then add to the Dutch oven, add more if needed). Stir in spinach and simmer until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Spoon the creamed spinach onto a plate and place the cauliflower steak on top. Sprinkle with pepitas if desired.

If you want a little more flavor I would go heavier on the seasoning. Some parmesan cheese might be good on top, too. Also, this jalapeno creamed spinach was not very spicy at all. So if you like spicy I would add another pepper.

Slightly altered from Better Homes & Gardens

Kimchi Wonton Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups shanghai or baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 package frozen mini pork or chicken wontons (I used pork and vegetable)
  • 1 cup kimchi, chopped (This is usually in the produce section)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a Dutch oven heat oil over medium high heat. Add bok choy and carrot and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender, stir occasionally. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in wontons, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir in kimchi and soy sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is nice because it is quick and easy and has minimal ingredients (great for a weeknight), but still has a lot of flavor. I never eat just a cup of soup. I have a heaping bowl! If that is you as well, I would double the recipe if you want to have it throughout the week or for lunches. As is, my husband and I each had a bowl for dinner and then I had a bowl for lunch.

Veggie Soup


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cups sliced parsnips
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 a head of green cabbage
  • 1 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes
  • 3 cups stemmed and chopped rainbow chard
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley for garnish

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, onions and parsnips. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes and cabbage. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chard and chickpeas, stirring occasionally, until chard is bright green, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in apple cider vinegar. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Great for winter! Serve with Ricotta Bread

(slightly altered from the Eating Well recipe.

Venison Tips in Mushroom-Onion Gravy


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 pounds venison meat – comparable to a beef sirloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 lb. package egg noodles
  • chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Season the venison with salt and pepper to taste. (You can also season with a little creole seasoning)
  2. Place the meat in the Dutch oven in a single layer. Cook 3-4 minutes per side until browned. Remove from pan, cover to keep warm.
  3. Melt butter in the Dutch oven. Add mushrooms and onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5-6 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly add beef broth. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook 2-3 minutes until thickened. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. (for thicker sauce, add a little more flour)
  5. Add the venison back into the Dutch oven. Toss to coat and cook another minute or two, or until venison is heated through.
  6. Serve over egg noodles (cook according to package directions) and sprinkle with parsley.

Venison has such a pungent flavor! When looking for a wine, I needed something that could stand up to it. I went with a Pinot Noir – Robert Mondavi Private Selection. Yum.

In the pictures there are also Ricotta Bread and Butterbeer Cupcakes

Ricotta Bread (In Bread Machine)


  • 3 tablespoons warm milk (I use goat milk)
  • 2/3 cup ricotta cheese (homemade ricotta cheese recipe coming soon!)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour (I’ve been using Pillsbury)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast/bread machine yeast


  1. Make sure the milk is not too, hot – around 100 degrees is good. Add the ingredients into the bread machine in the order recommended in the instruction manual. Generally, this is wet ingredients first, then dry ingredients – flour is second to last. Make a little dent in the flour and pour the yeast in the hole. (Pictured)
  2. Select 1.5 lb loaf and desired crust color – I go for light crust. Press start.
  3. When finished remove the bread pan with oven mitts and let cool. Use a spatula to loosen the bread from the pan. Tip the pan upside down and shake the bread out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

This bread is so fluffy and delicious. I like to dip it in oil and Italian seasonings. I eat it with soup. I also love putting goat butter on it.

Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Cheesecake Ingredients

  • 2 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • whipped cream and sugared cranberries – optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine graham crackers, butter and sugar. Pat into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of an 8-inch springform pan. Chill
  2. Beat cream cheese, eggs and lemon juice on medium speed for 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and salt. Continue beating until well blended, about 1 minute. Pour into crust.
  3. Place pan on a baking sheet with a tray of water on the rack below. Bake 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
  4. For topping, combine sour cream and remaining sugar and vanilla. Spread over cheesecake. Bake 10 minutes longer. Cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
  5. If desired, serve with whipped cream and/or Sugared Cranberries

Sugared Cranberries


  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water


  1. Bring one cup of sugar and water to a boil, whisk until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour over cranberries and let sit in the fridge for 6 hours – overnight is better.
  3. Drain cranberries. Pour one cup of sugar over cranberries and toss. Shake off excess sugar and let dry out in the fridge or at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

These are the perfect combination of tart and sweet and they just pop when you bite into them. They are great as a topping or to eat by themselves.

Graham Cracker Pecan Brittle Chunks


  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 4 sticks salted butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar


  1. Layer graham crackers in a single layer in a 9×13 pan that is lined with parchment paper. Cook butter and sugar 1 minute in the microwave. Stir until combined. Mix in nuts.
  2. Pour almost half the mixture over the crackers. Add another single layer of crackers. Top with the rest of the butter and sugar mixture.
  3. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool completely and break into pieces.

Easy and addictive.

Butterbeer Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cream soda

Ganache Ingredients

  • 1 11 oz. package butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 16 oz package powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners. (Makes 18) Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy (this can be done with a handheld mixer or a stand mixer – if using a stand mixer make sure you are regularly scraping the bottom of the bowl). Add sugars and beat until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and butter extract.
  3. Alternate adding buttermilk, cream soda and dry ingredients. Beat until combined – this is where the stand mixer comes in handy. (I’ve heard you are supposed to start and end with the dry ingredients, but not sure that actually matters)
  4. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full. Bake 15-17 minutes, rotating the baking pans half-way through so that the cupcakes in the back are then in the front. (This needs to be done in my oven anyway). A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool completely on wire racks.
  5. In a double boiler (I just use a sauce pan and a large metal mixing bowl), combine butterscotch chips and cream. Stir until completely combined and smooth. Cool to room temperature.
  6. Fill a squeeze bottle with ganache and insert into center and squeeze until filling begins to overflow. (This method only really works if the ganache is still a little warm and runny. It seeps into the cake. When it is completely cooled, not nearly enough ganache gets into the cupcake. If you are going to cool the ganache to room temperature you will need to core out the center of the cupcake and then squeeze in the ganache with the bottle)
  7. For the frosting, cream butter until fluffy. Add in ganache, vanilla, butter extract and salt. Mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until reaching desired consistency. Add cream by the tablespoon if needed. (Honestly, without specific instructions I wasn’t sure what to do here. I ended up using 1 tablespoon of cream and 2 cups of powdered sugar. It tasted ok to me, and then I had several people tell me they don’t normally like frosting, but they liked it this way. And my husband liked it and that’s a miracle!)
  8. Frost cupcakes and drizzle with butterscotch ganache. I also sprinkled them with edible gold stars (Hobby Lobby)

These cupcakes are amazing!!!!!!! I have had this recipe for 10 years and never made it until now, but I am glad I finally did. You can’t eat just one – they are that good. I am about to make my third batch next week because people keep asking for them! So good!