Quick, Kid-Helper-Friendly Whoopie Pies

Today, after only three weeks back together, I became husband-less...again. The Monkey and I dropped off the hubby at the airport before 6 am this morning to catch his first of three flights today. Thankfully, this time he will only be gone for about a month for training out at sea. I must admit, although I'm comforted by the fact this separation is much shorter than our previous one of almost six months, it's still difficult. Most difficult for our son...

I've got to say, for an 8-year-old new Navy brat, he has handled his dad leaving so well. He knows that it's just "part of dad's job" and though he gets teary-eyed, he always puts on a brave face when giving hugs good-bye. It's after his dad has disappeared into the terminal that the little Monkey loses it. Seeing crocodile tears roll down his cheeks always breaks my heart. Although I know we'll all get better at handling these deployments and separations as a family, I know it will never get easy.

After such an early wake up, I knew that neither the Monkey or I would be going back to sleep when we returned home. The two of us sat together in bed, aimlessly watching cartoons, waiting for texts from my hubby confirming he was checked in and when he was about to take off. Shortly after getting his texts, I could see the sadness creeping over the Monkey's face. I needed something to get his mind off of his dad leaving until we received more texts to cheer him up. Then it came to me...the Monkey always likes helping make things and be the taste tester for Mommy's creations. So, I decided to make whoopie pies. Not just any whoopie pies, easy, kid-helper whoopie pies. I love making things from scratch, don't get me wrong...yet, when you've got a rambunctious 8-year-old boy who wants to help, but doesn't want to miss his Saturday cartoons that doesn't always work. These whoopie pies are made with a cake mix and a no-cook 7-minute frosting. Not a typical whoopie pie, but definitely one that could put a smile on my sad Navy brat's face....and that's enough for this Navy wife :)

Quick, Kid-Helper Whoopie Pies


1 Devil's Food Cake Mix
1/3 cup water
2 eggs
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 batch of No-Cook 7-Minute Frosting* (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease several cupcake pans. Mix the cake mix, oil, water and eggs.

2. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of batter into the bottom of the greased cupcake pans. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

3. Once the whoopie pie cakes are baked, transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool fully. While they're cooling, begin preparing the "No-Cook 7-Minute Frosting."

4.  After the frosting is prepared and the cakes have cooled, pipe or spread filling onto flat side of one cake and sandwich with another cake. Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
*No Cook 7-Minute Frosting

3/4 cup sugar
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup boiling water

1. Mix sugar, cream of tartar, vanilla and egg whites.

2. Add boiling water.

3. Whip on high until mixture forms stiff peaks like meringue (approx. 5-7 minutes).

For Darling Aurora: Green Chicken Enchiladas

Our family has been fortunate enough to be stationed in our hometown of San Diego, CA. My husband and I were both born and raised here. Having both traveled, recreationally and for business, I can say with certainty that we are lucky to live in such a beautiful city. We've got a great skyline, beautiful beaches, nice temperate weather, and amazing food...especially Mexican. Living so close to the border has given us a slight advantage over other cities; and we do take advantage of it regularly.

I grew up with a "second mom" whom I lovingly refer to as "my Anna Sweetie Pie." She was born in Mexico and instilled in me the seeds of my love of Latin American culture. It's because of her that I went on to become quite fluent in Spanish (yo entiendo mucho más que yo hablo), even though I'm of Chinese/Korean decent I can speak neither of these languages, and began cooking Mexican food. And although he doesn't really use it, my husband understands/speaks Spanish as well. Our son...well...for a little while when he was younger he understood it and spoke it very minimally, but I didn't emphasize it so he has since lost it. One thing all of us share, however, is our love for Mexican food. We eat it out in local restaurants or in our home at least once a week, usually more.

Being the quintessential housewife, I prefer the satisfaction of making meals for my family myself. And with all my darling girl friends getting married, having babies, and becoming involved in serious relationships...I think I'm rubbing off on them as well. This recipe is requested often in our house and when I recently posted on Facebook that I would be making it, my darling friend Aurora asked for the recipe. So Aurora darling...this is for you, I hope that you enjoy it!

Green Chicken Enchiladas

1 roasted chicken, bones removed and shredded (can be homemade or store bought)
1 batch of homemade Salsa Verde* (recipe follows)
12 large corn tortillas (I used about 18 small homemade ones
1/2 lb of shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Mexican cheese blend
3/4 cup corn or canola oil
sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Be sure to have prepared your salsa verde prior to assembling your enchiladas. You could even do it the night before.

2. In a 9x13 greased ceramic or glass baking dish ladle a small amount of the salsa verde. Make sure that it coats the entire bottom of the pan, but is a thin enough layer that you can still see through it.

3. Heat the oil in a skillet. Using cooking tongs, pass the tortillas, one at a time, quickly through the oil, about 10 seconds per side. Place tortillas between paper towels to absorb excess oil. To assemble, put about 1/12th of the shredded chicken on each tortilla and a pinch of cheese. Spread one tablespoon of the Salsa Verde over the chicken. Roll the tortilla around the chicken and sauce and place in the prepared baking dish.

4. Once you've finished the process with all the chicken and tortillas, pour the remaining salsa verde over your rolled tortilla mixture. Be sure to cover all the tortillas as you don't want any of them drying out or burning in the oven. After you've covered your enchiladas with your salsa verde, sprinkle the remaining cheese over them and place the entire dish in the oven. 

5. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted and bubbly. Top with sour cream if desired, eat and enjoy!
*Salsa Verde

1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed (might have sticky residue, scrub outside lightly)
1 medium white onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 jalapeño peppers
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime, halved and seeded
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste

1. Place the tomatillos and jalapeños into a small pot with enough water to cover them. Boil until the tomatillos and jalapeños are softened, but not mushy. Once they've softened drain the water. Their color at this point might have changed from a bright green to a somewhat muted green, have no fear, the salsa will still be a lovely green color.

2. Put the softened tomatillos and jalapeños into a blender along with the onion, garlic, cilantro, and juice from the lime. Blend on high until smooth. Take some precautions when opening the blender after as this mixture will be still quite hot and could explode slightly when the blender top is opened.

3. In the same pot that you boiled the tomatillos and jalapeños in previously and heat the vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Once the oil is warmed, add the blended tomatillo mixture...again, take some precautions because the mixture will splatter and pop a bit. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt to taste.

Perfect Summer Fix: Homemade No-Cook Strawberry Ice Cream

With the summer weather in full swing, our little Navy family has been trying to stay cool. And I can't think of a better way to stave off the heat than with homemade ice cream.

Honestly, there isn't anything better than homemade ice cream. Not only can you cater the ingredients to your liking, it's virtually instant gratification (depending on how firm/frozen you like it). Being the happy homemaker that I am; making homemade meals and treats means that I can find myself  holed up in the kitchen while my hubby and the monkey occupy themselves. And as much as I love cooking for my boys, I do also want to spend time with them. So...sometimes that means finding slightly quicker fixes that allow me to spend more time with the boys, but not skimp on flavor or quality.

Ice cream is one of those things that, while I love making it, I don't always like how time consuming it can be. I've recently discovered that I can make deliciously creamy ice cream without the involvement of cooking a custard base, which is great since I'm making ice cream to beat the heat, not make more of it. Also, with it being strawberry season, why not showcase a farmer's market jewel in a tasty summer treat? So here it is...my homemade no-cook strawberry ice cream. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family has been...

Homemade No-Cook Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts ice cream

1 lb strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup sugar 
3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon (or lime) juice 
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 cups heavy cream

Special Equipment necessary: ice cream maker


1. Coarsely mash strawberries with sugar, lemon juice, and salt using a potato masher in a large bowl. Let stand, stirring and mashing occasionally, 10 minutes.

2. Transfer half of strawberry mixture to a blender and purée with the heavy cream until smooth and slightly thickened. The real key at this point is to blend everything until it is smooth and creamy, but not turn it into butter. Blend quickly and stop periodically (shouldn't take more than 45 seconds to a minute). Return strawberry cream to bowl with remaining strawberries mash and chill, stirring occasionally, until cold...at least 1-2 hours (I've been guilty of chilling it for less time).

3. Once chilled transfer to your ice cream maker and make as per your maker's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, place a piece of plastic wrap on surface and put in freezer to firm up. Or enjoy it straight from the maker in it's semifreddo state...

** Since the ice cream is homemade and contains no preservatives it will remain good for only about a week...if it lasts that long ;)

Roasted Garlic Chicken with Garlic-Thyme Butter


I had intended to start my blog with full force once the hubby had returned from his Navy training...yet, as we've all learned...life can get hectic sometimes.

 Just like before our separation, I've been cooking home cooked meals for my hubby since his return two weeks ago. Something he has relished even more after having to live through boot camp and "A" School galley food for the past five months. However, after our time apart (the longest we've ever been apart since we've been together) I found that instead of being on the computer sharing our meals with the world; we've been trying to get back into our old routine as best we can considering that I'm now sharing him with the Navy. 


He's had the past two weeks off on leave which has been great because it's given us time to reconnect, to share the experiences we had as individuals, and to start our life as a new Navy family (a family trip to Wild Rivers, exploring the local Navy bases, laughing, cuddling, watching some of the new movies out...) We were really getting used to having him home, but...


We just found out that in a week, we're going to be separated once again for about a month. As much as it saddens me, I'm so very proud of him and his new job. I can't divulge much since his job is top secret, but he's having to leave to meet up with the admiral he'll be working under, a job that isn't usually given to anyone under E-5. So...with one week before we're separated I've decided to make him a week of meals worthy of a seafaring man starting with Roasted Garlic Chicken with Garlic-Thyme Butter. Don't worry about pungent breath with all the garlic used in this recipe. Since most of it is roasted, it takes on a more mellow, kind of sweet taste.


 Of course I decide to make a roast chicken when summer weather is making the kitchen a sometimes unbearable place to be, but...for my hubby, I'll suffer a little heat...enjoy!


Roasted Garlic Chicken with Garlic-Thyme Butter 


2 1/2 heads of garlic, roasted
2 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
3 key limes, halved and seeded (can substitute 1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 (4-5 pound) whole roasting chicken
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Garlic-Thyme Butter

Garlic-Thyme Butter Recipe

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, blend the butter with the minced garlic and chopped thyme and season with salt and pepper.


1. Prepare the brine by combining roasted garlic, water, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage and olive oil in a blender. Squeeze the juice from the key limes into the brine (reserve the citrus peels), blend.

2. Place chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag, or in a large non-reactive bowl. Pour the brine all over the chicken in the bag, or in the bowl. Add the (already squeezed) key lime halves. Squeeze out all the air from the bag and seal, or place plastic wrap over the chicken in the bowl. Refrigerate overnight - 12 to 24 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry.

4. Carefully loosen the breast skin of the chicken. Spread the garlic-thyme butter evenly over the breast meat then smooth out the skin. Rub any extra garlic-thyme butter all over the outside of the chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken and place the crushed garlic cloves inside cavity. Place the chicken on a rack, in a roasting pan, breast side up. Roast for about an hour, until the juices run clear from the thigh when pierced with a fork. (Breast meat should have an internal temperature of 165°F, thigh meat should have an internal temperature of 175°F.)

Be sure to let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving. This preserves the chicken's juiciness.