Monday, June 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

It was a crazy week last week at the Jiggle household. Why? Heck if I know but I feel like I just ran around and accomplished nothing. I even had a day off in there but still didn't manage to cook anything. So, I decided to take advantage of being by myself tonight and bake some cupcakes. Yum.

I have a sister in law that brings brownies with chocolate chip cookie dough baked in them to family functions and they are delicious. And, if you use a brownie mix and premade chocolate chip cookie dough they are easy too. I saw this combination in cupcake form on Confessions of a Cookbook Queen about a week ago and was completely entranced by the frosting. Like "I really wanted to just make the frosting but I couldn't justify it to myself without the cupcakes" entranced. I'm not even a really marshmallow fan but this frosting looked like it was out of this world. It was. I licked the bowl after frosting the cupcakes until I was slightly sick but I still wanted more. It was that good.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes
adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
1 box brownie mix prepared for cake like brownies
1 tube of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 21 muffin tins with cupcake liners

Slice cookie dough into slices and smoosh into the bottom of the muffin tins. You'll probably have some dough left over...just eat it. You know you want to.

Spoon approx 1/4 c. brownie batter over the cookie dough. Fill the cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting
2 sticks butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
2 T. milk
3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 powdered cocoa
3 T. chocolate syrup
7 oz jar marshmallow fluff

In a mixing bowl whip the butter, vanilla and milk together until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and cocoa, mix until combined. Add chocolate syrup and increase mixer speed to high. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon fold in marshmallow fluff, just until swirled through the frosting. Don't mix it in completely. Pipe or frost cupcakes.

This post linked to:
Cupcake Party
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Your Recipe My Kitchen Sunday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
2 Maids a Baking
Totally Tasty Tuesdays
Tasty Tuesday
Made it on Monday
These Chicks Cooked
Cast Party Wednesday 
Full Plate Thursday 
Everyday Sisters Sharing Sunday

Friday, June 24, 2011

Soft Pretzels or Pretzel Dogs

I have a confession. I have an addiction to gas station deli counters. I know, that's so, so not gourmet or even a little bit healthy. I can't help it. I love their pigs in a blanket. Something about the bread just sucks me in every time. I prefer them with sausages but hey, a hot dog will do in a pinch. I also like soft pretzels from the mall. I used to work for an insurance company that had their offices in the mall. I would wander to the food court almost every day for my morning break to watch them make the pretzels and get one of the first pretzels of the day. Today I decided to combine my two loves for lunch. It. was. awesome.

I've fiddled with soft pretzel recipe combinations for a few years now. I made my first one for a youth activity and was hooked. I have found that I prefer them cooked on a stone rather than a baking sheet. I prefer brown sugar in the dough as opposed to granulated sugar and that it's pretty hard to ruin a pretzel as long as you have cinnamon sugar and cream cheese frosting to dip them in. That said we focused on the savory today.

This recipe makes enough dough for 12 good sized pretzels so I did 8 dogs and the rest we just cut into chunks to dip in mustard. (If you are twist challenged this is a zero risk variation on the pretzel theme). So YUM!~

Soft Pretzels or Pretzel Dogs if you prefer....
12 Pretzels

2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 heaping T. brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
4 c. flour
Melted butter
Coarse Salt (we like sea salt)

2 heaping T. baking soda
2 c. water

1. In your mixer dissolve yeast, brown sugar and salt in warm water. Let yeast bloom for a few minutes.
2. Mix in flour. If you are kneading by hand mix with wooden spoon until a cohesive dough ball forms then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 7-8 minutes. If you are using your mixer just let it go until it's smooth and has completely cleaned the sides of the mixing bowl. Cover and let rise for about an hour.
3. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Let dough rest for a few minutes. Roll each piece of dough into a 2 foot long rope.
4. Twist into pretzel shape or cut into nuggets if doing only pretzels. Twist each rope around a hot dog or sausage making sure to seal the ends of the ropes securely.
5. In a large saucepan bring the brine mixture to a simmer over med heat.
6. Dip each pretzel or pretzel dog in the brine for approx 30 seconds. Place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Let rise for 20 min.
7. Bake at 450 for 9ish minutes or until golden brown. Nuggets will take a little less time, watch them fairly closely so they don't burn. Seriously, go by smell I'm a terrible timer.
8. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt or whatever topping you prefer.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

S'More Cupcakes

Today was a redo of my cupcake fail from last week. Last week I was high on my last from scratch cupcake success and decided I needed to have S'More Cupcakes ala Martha Stewart. Epic.Fail. They exploded and then crashed into hollowed out, strangely textured, brownie cups with an odd graham cracker bottom. It was humbling to say the least but didn't dampen my desire for a cupcake that tastes like a s'more. I love s'mores but am not particularly fond of smelling like campfire and am decidedly against sleeping on the ground so I don't get them very often. I have a S'more cookie recipe that is great but the cupcake version had become a personal quest. I stewed about it all week trying to figure out where I ran amok and was unable to pin down where I made the mistake.

This morning I decided to heck with Martha, I was going to do a "Jiggleized" version that I was more likely to do more than once. Enter the lowly cake mix. Love the cake mix. It's pretty hard to mess up Betty Crocker, there is a reason she's Betty Crocker after all! I wasn't willing to spend the dough on high end chocolate today either so regular chocolate chips and broken graham crackers sufficed. This was yum...the frosting was awesome and I got to use my butane torch. There aren't many things in my cooking repertoire that require a flame thrower so if I can find one I usually try it out. It worked like a dream. Creme Brulee' watch out!

S'more Cupcakes
24 cupcakes

1 package graham crackers broken into pieces
Semi sweet chocolate chips
1 chocolate cake mix, whatever one your like best. I used German Chocolate

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Place graham cracker pieces in the bottom of each cup. Just smoosh them in. I didn't cover the whole bottom with graham.

Sprinkle chocolate chips (8-10 chips) over the graham crackers.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Fill each cup 2/3 full.

Sprinkle tops with crushed graham crackers and a few more chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 for 18-20 min. Cool completely on wire rack.

Marshmallow Frosting
8 egg whites
2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract.

In a heatproof mixing bowl combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Place bowl over a small saucepan filled with simmering water. Whisk egg white mixture non stop until egg whites are warm and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

In electric mixer add vanilla to egg whites. Starting at low, gradually increasing speed to high whip egg whites 7-10 min or until shiny, glossy, stiff peaks form. Use frosting immediately.

Toast tops with torch or in the oven for a few minutes. If you use the oven watch closely to avoid burning.

This post linked to the following Blog Parties:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crock Pot Pasta Fagioli

I have a recipe for Pasta Fagioli soup that is delightful but it kind of requires babysitting while it cooks. Today was a "hurry up and get it thrown together" day and pot watching was definitely not on my list of things to do. I had this crock pot version saved in my "to be tried" recipe file so I pulled it out and ran with it. An added bonus is Bri is gone for a couple of days so she will miss this one, she's a staunch Pasta Fagioli hater. Why you ask? Personally I think she's bean prejudiced but I can't really say for sure.  She just doesn't like it. That's fine, I don't really like broccoli so I get it.

I used ground beef from my stash of precooked meat so that was super easy and fast and everything else was really straightforward. If you were a plan ahead kind of gal you could pick up the carrot shreds in the produce dept and cut down your prep time even more.

Add a quick green salad and a roll and you are in business with a quick, hearty, HEALTHY meal!

Crock Pot Pasta Fagioli

1 lb. lean ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans (Canelli or northern) drained and rinsed
4 cups beef broth
1 jar pasta sauce
2 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. Tobasco
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup dry pasta (to be added at the end of cooking time  

Brown hamburger. Mix hamburger and all other ingredients except the pasta in the crock pot. Use a bigger one or consider cutting the recipe in half so it doesn't overflow. After about 6.5 or 7 hours, add your rice or other pasta. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Caramel Pecan Candy Bar Cookies

It's Food Porn Friday again and that means TREATS!! This recipe was chosen by Denise and I was so happy to see that when I looked it up I already had it marked to try. Surely that was a good omen, right? Yes indeedy it was a good omen for sure.

These cookies were super easy to make (love it) and were super easy to eat more than you should (also love...sort of) so approach with caution. It is baked in a small 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish so if you were taking these to a pot luck you would probably want to double the recipe. I loved how crispy the shortbread crust got with the caramel on top. I'm not always a shortbread fan but this was just the right ratio of cookie to topping. Next time I think I will add a little sea salt to the caramel. Randy discouraged me from that today but I think it would be truly awesome. The only suggestion that wasn't included in the original recipe that I would include would be to line your pan with parchment. The caramel really sticks to the edges of the pan and it's kind of difficult to get them out, parchment paper would solve that problem.

You should try them. Really.

Caramel Pecan Candy Bar Cookies
Baking in America-Greg Patent

4 T. butter (the recipe says unsalted but I used regular and it was fine)
1/3 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c. all purpose flour
40 caramels (I used a bag of Kraft caramel baking bits)
2 T. evaporated milk
1.2 c. finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, salt and 1 tsp of the vanilla with a mixer on medium speed 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour thoroughly. The dough will be crumbly. Press dough firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and gently pat the crust back in place with a pot holder to level it. (Leave the oven on)

Meanwhile melt the caramels with the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth. Stir in the remaining tsp of vanilla.

Scrape the caramel mixture from the pan and pour over the cookie crust. Tilt pan gently to level the caramel. Sprinkle the pecans evenly across the caramel. Bake for an additional 13-15 min or until the caramel topping is bubbly and puffy. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars with a sharp knife.

Featured on the following blog parties:
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Sweets on a Saturday

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes

I got Kaiser rolls at the bakery for our burgers the other day and there are still some sitting on my counter. I have a hard time just letting them go to waste....they are I needed a plan. I also had mushrooms in the fridge and some hamburger that needed to be used. There was no plan jumping from my head so I hit the Cooking Light magazine for some inspiration.

Cooking Light is one of my favorite sources for healthy recipes. I haven't ever had a true bomb from a Cooking Light source so I didn't have any trepidation in my heart when I decided to do the Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes from the June 2011 issue of Cooking Light magazine. I did have to make a few adjustments as I didn't have everything in their version (cause you know that NEVER happens) but overall it turned out really well. I liked the zip from the hot sauce and the overall flavor. I think the only thing I would do differently next time is swap the tomato paste for tomato sauce and have written the recipe below to reflect that change, the filling seemed really thick for our taste. And, as expected they were yummy on those good rolls. Yay!

I think it's time for a dessert recipe next....

Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes
Serves 5ish
adapted from Cooking Light magazine June 2011

1 T. olive oil
1 lb ground beef
16 oz chopped mushrooms (I used white because that's what I had but cremini would be good too)
1 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp oregano
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Heat a large non stick skillet over med-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until onions are tender.

In another skillet brown the hamburger stirring to crumble. When onion mixture is done add to the ground beef. Add tomato sauce, oregano, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and salt to pan. Cook approx 5 min. Stir in pepper and hot sauce. Spoon about 3/4 c. on your bun and eat.

Cal. 439; Fat 14.7g; Protein 27.3g; Carb 49.2g; Fiber 4g

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BBQ Ribs and Sauce

Do you have a "signature" recipe? One that you find yourself sharing over and over and people seem to think it requires super human cooking skills to achieve the end results? This is that recipe. This is the recipe people ask me for every single time I make it. This is the recipe that spawned the annual Hansen Family Ribfest event that my brothers reminisce about all year long until it's time to do it again. This is the recipe that when I couldn't host Ribfest 2010 those same brothers took it upon themselves to figure out how to make their own. Yes, this is THAT recipe.

Now don't misunderstand's all smoke and mirrors. There is no super human cooking skill here. Just a little bit of patience, a lot of tin foil, and a really dirty oven at the end of the day. In fact, if you embark upon a ribfest (or should it be ribquest) of your own please, please, please remember to put foil in the bottom of your oven before you start. The sauce WILL drip. You will probably not think through the whole "when I flip the oven to clean there isn't a way to open the door once it gets going" thing and you will manage to start your oven on fire, have smoke billowing from the windows and necessitate your children answering questions about when they became chain smokers. Not that I know anything about that but that is my cautionary tale for the day. I'm fairly sure that that could actually someone else of course.

My son hosted a mission reunion with several of his former companions and some of their "women folk" yesterday. Ribs and Bacon Stuffed Burgers were on the menu. They didn't want salads or veggies, just meat, chips and something to wash it down with. In my head I was thinking there is no way they will eat all of that...well they did. I am still in shock. They all enjoyed it though and are looking forward to doing it again next year. I may have recovered by then. These people look like they are enjoying themselves, right?....

Because of the mass quantities of ribs I cooked yesterday I didn't make my own sauce but when I cook on a more reasonable scale this is the recipe I use. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks so I make a little extra to have on hand.

Dude, I'm way wordy today. On to the recipe!

BBQ Ribs and Sauce
serves 2-4 as an entree

4 lbs baby back pork ribs
BBQ sauce, lots of it.

Honey BBQ Sauce

1 c. ketchup
1/2 c. dark molasses
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan and whisk together. Bring to a boild. Reduce heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes until reduced down and as thick as you like it.

Cut ribs into sections of 4-6 ribs (I usually just cut the rack in half). Coat with BBQ sauce on both sides. Place on a large, doubled thickness, heavy duty foil and wrap tightly, like you are making a tin foil dinner or a packet to cook in the fire. Let marinate in the fridge overnight, it makes them very tender and tasty. Place the rib packets seam side up (critical hint right there) in a 300 degree oven and let bake for 2-3 hours. When you see the meat pulling back from the bone it's done. You will be able to tell by smell as well.

Heat grill up on med high. Grill ribs on the hot grill for 2-4 minutes per side or just until you get those nice blackened streaks. Baste with some reserved sauce.

Dig in!

This post is linked to the following linky parties:

Melt in Your Mouth Mondays
Made it on a Monday
This Chick Cooks
Totally Tasty Tuesdays

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sweet Home Spaghetti

We aren't real spaghetti eaters around here...I don't know whether it's the shape of the noodles or what. We like lasagna so the basic taste doesn't seem to be the problem but at any rate it isn't a dish that we eat very often. I saw this variation on Taste and Tell and thought it looked interesting and like something that maybe would go over better than the traditional spaghetti for a change.

Randy and I liked it, Jeff was not sold on it at all so I'm going to chalk it up to it really comes down to your own individual taste. I have a feeling it will be making a reappearance because honestly I really, really liked it and am looking forward to the leftovers....sorry Jeff. :) I loved the easy prep. Use whatever spaghetti sauce you have on hand, I had Hunt's Traditional so that's what we got. I did adjust the proportions a bit to fit the size of our family from the original recipe but that was the only change I made.

Sweet Home Spaghetti
adapted from Taste and Tell
from the Reluctant Entertainer

1 pound ground beef
1 med sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 (24 oz) jars Italian spaghetti sauce*
1/3 cup sugar, to taste
1 pound dry pasta
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

  1. Cook the meat until browned and cooked through and drain, if needed.
  2. In a separate pan, saute the onion in the olive oil. Add the cooked meat, the sauce and the sugar. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. In the mean time, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain. Mix the sauce with the pasta in a large bowl. Serve with grated Parmesan.