Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter “Cookie” Frosting

Time out. Let’s break for cupcakes.

Tom has always had a sweet tooth, but me? Not so much. Although, I have found myself indulging a bit more lately … super rich dark, dark chocolate brownies a friend made, a heavenly strawberry macaron ice cream sandwich … you get the idea.

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cookie frosting

This chocolate/peanut butter combination is so well-loved, and these cupcakes are no exception. It’s hard to go wrong with dark chocolate cake spiked with coffee, rich ganache, and dense peanut butter frosting shaped like the cookies that everyone’s mom made growing up.

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cookie icing

I mean, how can you even resist?

makes about 30 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups hot, brewed coffee
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

9 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 – 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk together hot coffee and cocoa powder until all lumps are dissolved. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Next, add butter and sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and fully combined. Turn the speed down to low and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Slowly add the vanilla and mix until combined. Continuing on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions, adding half the coffee/cocoa mixture in between. Start and finish with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cupcakes. Let cool for a bit in the pans, then transfer to a cooling rack until they come to room temperature.

While the cupcakes cool, make the ganache. Add the chopped chocolate to a medium heatproof bowl. In a small pot over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk together gently, until a smooth, shiny ganache forms. Set aside.

For the frosting, add the peanut butter and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high for 1 minute. Turn the speed down to low and slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated and the consistency of a cookie dough. Bump the speed up to medium to fully incorporate the sugar.

Line the counter with wax paper and scoop out the icing, one heaping tablespoon at a time, rolling into a ball, and flattening into a patty. Using the tines of a fork, make a crosshatch pattern on each patty. Repeat until there are enough for each cupcake.

Once the cupcakes are cool, spread the ganache over each cupcake, smoothing out with an offset spatula, or the back of a spoon. Top each cupcake with a peanut butter “cookie” and dig in!

from Savory Sweet Life via Annie’s Eats

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Capellini al Forno

Pasta is such a beautiful thing.

capellini al forno

It can be as simple as spaghetti & jarred marinara for a speedy dinner at home, and as extravagant as handmade lobster ravioli at the most upscale restaurant in town. Almost no ingredient and flavor profile is off limits.

The possibilities are basically endless.

capellini al forn place setting - life with the lushers

Simply translated, capellini al forno is angel hair baked in the oven, but the outcome–especially when baked in a springform pan and sliced into wedges–is as delicious and impressive-looking as a layer cake. A savory pasta layer cake filled with cheese and prosciutto, topped with marinara.

Assembly and baking are a little bit of a time investment, but you’ll be handsomely rewarded with leftovers for days, or a roomful of happily-stuffed friends. 🙂

serves 8

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced & at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
1 pound angel hair pasta
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 pound prosciutto, coarsely chopped
8 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, grated
olive oil, for drizzling
1 25 ounce jar marinara sauce, warmed

Preheat oven to 350°, with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt well. Add the pasta and cook until tender, but still firm–don’t overdo it. Drain, then add to a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup Parmigiano, eggs, parsley, and salt & pepper. Toss well until combined.

Gather the pasta and all remaining ingredients around the prepped springform pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange 1/3 of the pasta on top of the breadcrumbs in an even layer, then sprinkle half the prosciutto, followed by half the smoked mozzarella. Repeat the layering once more with the breadcrumbs, pasta, prosciutto, and mozzarella.

In a small, separate bowl, combine the remaining breadcrumbs and Parmigiano. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the layers and dot remaining butter over top. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 45-50 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool for 10 minutes.

While the pasta cools, add marinara to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm. Once the sauce is warm, remove the ring around the springform pan and slice layered pasta into 8 equal pieces. Add to individual plates & top with marinara.

adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

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Recipe Links to Love on

It’s been a little while, huh? Life’s just been kind of busy. But don’t worry about us. We’ve been eating. & here’s some of the recipes we’ve been loving lately.

hot & sour soup - life with the lushers

Joanne Chang’s Hot & Sour Soup // If you like the Chinese takeout version, you’re going to fall hard for this. The flavors are bright–sharply accented with sour rice vinegar & spiked with a generous dose of Sriracha–making this the perfect remedy if you’re feeling a little under the weather, but equally as good just because.

hungover noodles - life with the lushers

Hungover Noodles // Let’s be real–these noodles are way too much effort if you’re actually hungover. But any other time? They’re a perfectly satisfying vegetarian meal. We made ours with soba, but would definitely go with a regular spaghetti on the next go-round, since leftovers got a little mushy.

oaxacan yellow mole - life with the lushers

Oaxacan Yellow Mole with Chicken, Potatoes & Green Beans // Moles are known for their laundry list of ingredients & hours & hours of simmering time, but Rick Bayless breaks this one down so it’s manageable, even on a weeknight. Just blend up the mole, add diced chicken thighs, potatoes & green beans, simmer until everything’s tender & enjoy. We’ve made this one more than a few times now.

sweet potato tortilla soupSweet Potato Tortilla Soup // I can’t even count how many sweet potatoes we got in our produce box over the winter, but it was definitely more than we knew what to do with. This version of tortilla soup helped us combat some of the surplus.

 What have you been cooking up lately?

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Veggie Burgers

If you follow us on Instagram, you know we’re actually not so bad at meal planning.

Yeah, the actual thinking ahead (Who really knows what they’ll want to eat next Wednesday?) and list-making isn’t the most fun thing we ever do, but I can think of worse ways to spend Sunday mornings than curled up with a cup of coffee and a cookbook.

Plus, it’s better than the alternative: The Hangry Weeknight Meltdown.

On those nights, when we’re short on time, patience, and decision-making capabilities, we eat veggie burgers.

veggie burgers - life with the lushers

We’ve been making this recipe for years, tweaking it to perfection along the way. The recipe list may look long, but it’s really just a simple mix of crisper drawer leftovers and pantry staples that lends itself to endless customization. We like them best served on a pimento cheese-smeared toasted bun and topped with smashed avocado, ketchup and mustard… Usually with a side of sweet potato chips because we always have a lingering sweet potato (or four) on the counter.

We mix these burgers up triple batch at a time and freeze the individual patties for nights when we don’t have a plan. They make The Hangry Weeknight Meltdown a lot more manageable.

veg burgers - life with the lushers

makes 8-10 patties

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup button mushrooms, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeded & diced
2 tablespoon artichoke hearts, diced
1 14.5oz can black beans, drained, not rinsed
1 14.5oz can chickpeas, drained, not rinsed
1 14.5oz can white beans, drained, not rinsed
1 1/2 cup oats
1 teaspoon smoked, sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (+ more, if necessary)
2 eggs (+ 1 more, if necessary)
salt & freshly ground pepper

hamburger buns
pimento cheese
sliced avocado
yellow mustard

In a medium pan, over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, jalapeño, and artichoke hearts and cook for about 8 minutes.  Add the spices and continue to cook for another minute or two until fragrant and the veggies are translucent. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

While the veggies cool, puree or mash half the beans. We’ve found the stand mixer with the paddle attachment makes the best consistency, but a food processor or potato masher will do.

Add the mashed beans to the bowl with the cooled veggies, along with the rest of the beans, oats, bread crumbs, and eggs. Mix everything together with your hands until well combined. If the mixture seems to wet to form patties, sprinkle in some more bread crumbs. If it’s too dry and crumbly to make patties, add another egg.

Preheat oven to 350*. Place patties on baking sheet, lined with parchment. Bake for 3-4 minutes per side, until well heated throughout. Remove from oven.

Heat pan with a  drizzle of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add patties and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until cooked thoroughly, brown, and crispy. Place on buns and add toppings.

FOR THE FREEZER: Divide the mixture into equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and squish it down with the palm of your hand to form the patty. Place between two pieces of parchment paper. Continue this process for each patty, then freeze in plastic freezer bags.

TO COOK: Preheat oven to 350*. Place patties on baking sheet, lined with parchment. Place in the oven and cook 7-8 minutes per side, until completely thawed and warm throughout.

Then, heat pan over medium to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add defrosted patties to the pan, cooking for 1-2 minutes per side, until brown and crispy. Place on buns & top accordingly!

based on Guy’s Big Bite

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Sriracha Popcorn

The sriracha obsession has been going on for awhile now, with Huy Fong’s recognizable green-topped squeeze bottle as constant resident in flavor-loving Americans’ refrigerators. Rooster sauce lovers, you can even moisturize your lips with that delicious firestorm of chiles and garlic.

Then last year, all of our fiery dreams were almost extinguished when a California town decided they no longer wanted to breathe spicy delicious air.

It has to be better than LA smog, right?

sriracha popcorn - life with the lushers

After speculation of an emerging hot sauce black market, research into homemade versions, and several public hearings, it seems as though the beloved condiment is safe, so we can continue with our regularly scheduled overconsumption.

This snack, that qualifies as a meal sometimes, happens on a regular basis in our house.

We’ve tried some prepackaged versions, but the flavor of freshly popped popcorn just doesn’t translate well to a shelf-stable bag. Plus, this is just ridiculously easy.

sriracha popcorn - life with the lushers

Now, there are different ways you can go about popping your popcorn… in a popcorn maker (Yep. We own one.), on the stovetop, in a brown paper bag with a spoonful of coconut oil… But the secret’s in the sauce.


And add that sauce to some melted butter that’s been infused with garlic?

sriracha popcorn - life with the lushers

Better make a double batch.

makes about 4 cups, serving size debatable

2 tablespoons coconut oil
heaping 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
kosher salt
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 clove garlic, peeled & smashed
1 tablespoon sriracha

Heat the coconut oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Toss a few kernels in the pan. When those kernels start to pop, pour the rest of the popcorn kernels into the pan. Cover and give the pan a good shake. Tilt the lid just a bit to allow steam escape, and let the popcorn pop, shaking the pan every now and then, until there are about three seconds between each pop.

While the popcorn pops, melt the butter. Add the garlic and let steep while the popcorn pops.

When the popcorn is done popping, remove from stove and add a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. Remove the garlic from the butter and add the sriracha. Stir to combine. Drizzle a little of the sriracha butter over the popcorn and toss to combine. Continue drizzling and tossing until the popcorn is evenly coated. Serve immediately, inhale, and become the newest addicts.

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