Thursday, September 6, 2012

Triple Chip Blondies


I love the "Our Best Bites" blog and check it regularly. I saw this the day it went up and immediately printed it out and stuck it in my purse so that it could be made when I got home. It didn't disappoint; the blondies were rich and just the right texture and none of the chips overpowered any of the others. All in all a win. Thank you Our Best Bites for making me a hero!!

Triple Chip Blondies
Our Best Bites

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
2 cups light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into a measuring cup and leveled with the back of a knife
2/3 cup chocolate chips, plus 1/3 cup for drizzling on top
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup peanut butter chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt the butter in microwave. Combine in a large mixing bowl with the brown sugar. Add the vanilla and the eggs and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined (don't overdo it). Add the chocolate chips (excluding the 1/3 cup reserved chips), white chocolate chips, and peanut butter and mix until combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool completely. When cool, combine the reserved chips and the coconut oil or shortening in a small freezer zip-top bag, seal it, and heat it in the microwave in 15-second increments, smooshing the bag with your hands until the chocolate and oil are smooth (repeat as long as necessary). Cut a small corner out of the bag and squeeze the melted chocolate over the baked blondies. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad


We've been having weekly (ish) neighborhood block parties in my backyard this summer so I've been putting together salads on the regular. This salad was thrown together on a night that I actually forgot that the party was taking place and didn't prepare in advance. Then, 30 minutes before people started to arrive I was standing in front of my pantry and refrigerator trying to think of how things I already had would go together. I'd made fajita chicken for a pot luck at work for lunch and there was just enough left over to use for a salad. The rest of the ingredients were staples that I already had.

Overall it was a good salad, maybe not my favorite but still good. If you had some cilantro that would be good in it as well. Avocado would be good too but I never have those just laying around.

Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
Servings 12-16

1 lb cooked chicken
1 pkg fajita seasoning
1 lb bow tie pasta
1/4 (ish) c. olive oil
6 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, diced
2 c. corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 c. green salsa
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese

Cook chicken chunks with fajita seasoning, let cool.
Cook pasta according to directions, drain. Toss pasta with olive oil.
Mix chicken, pasta, tomatoes, corn, and beans together. Pour salsa over salad and gently mix.
Just before serving add shredded cheese and stir.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peach Cupcakes with Spiced Peach Buttercream

Jeff and I went to the farmer's market on Saturday and brought home a half bushel of peaches. We ate a bunch just cut up, made some jam and made these fabulous cupcakes. These were a definite do again. Like maybe this Saturday. The cake had just a hint of peach but anything more would have been overpowering. The frosting was really the star. The brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg pushed the peach flavor into something other than just peach frosting that was AWESOME! Eat with a spoon awesome! I did do a batch using a spice cake mix but the white was received better by all who taste tasted. Just an FYI :)

Peach Cupcakes
2 doz.

1 white cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1/4 c. water
1 box peach Jello
1/2-3/4 c. pureed peaches
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix cake mix with eggs, oil, water and cinnamon. Add Jello and mix well. Add peaches and mix gently together. Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full (1/4 c.). Bake at 350 for 18-21 minutes.

Spiced Peach Buttercream Frosting
(enough to frost 4 doz cupcakes)

3/4 c. softened butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. pureed peaches
2 lbs powdered sugar

Cream butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Alternate adding peaches and powdered sugar until frosting is piping consistency. Add vanilla. If you want to tint the frosting a little bit peach colored add 2 drops yellow and 1 drop of red food coloring.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mounds Cupcakes

It's true. All I cook lately is treats and my clothes are definitely starting to feel a little snug. I didn't even take a picture of the Neapolitan birthday cake from last week! Tomorrow is a birthday at work and the request I got was something with chocolate and coconut. Okkkayyy...

These are quick and easy, a doctored up cake mix and coconut cream cheese frosting with some toasted coconut on top. I toyed with a chocolate drizzle but decided that might be too much and left them on the simple side. I think it works. This is the chocolate cake doctored up combination that I think I like the best. I've fiddled with several different things and this one works consistently awesome.

Mounds Cupcakes
2 doz cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 box Devil's Food Cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
3/4 c. buttermilk or cream
2/3 c. sweetened coconut

Mix all ingredients except coconut together. Beat for 2 minutes on medium until batter is a little bit fluffy. Fold coconut into batter.

Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full (1/4 c. is about perfect.) Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Cool on cooling rack.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese softened
1 stick butter (1/2 c. room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coconut extract
2-3 T. heavy cream
4-5 c. powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add extracts and mix well. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time alternating with the cream until frosting is the right consistency. Pipe onto cupcakes.

Roll frosted cupcakes in toasted coconut.

*(You can also use regular untoasted coconut but my test panel preferred the toasted.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Once again I find myself making cupcakes to take somewhere. I need to find some originality somewhere but apparently it's not going to be tonight.

I saw this Strawberry Cake on PaulaDeen.com and of course had to break it up into cupcakes. I have always had a soft spot for strawberry anything and this seemed like a good bet for the 4th of July. It's pretty and festive and I had some really great cupcake liners that begged for pink frosting!

I was able to get about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes out of the recipe and they were just the right size for frosting. Sometimes I get carried away with the batter and fill the cups too full but I found that 1/4 c. is just about perfect. The frosting is yum as always. Can you really go wrong with cream cheese anything?? Not in my world.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
30 cupcakes
adapted from pauladeen.com
Strawberry Cake
1 white cake mix
4 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. oil
1 1/2 c. pureed strawberries with sugar
1 small box strawberry Jell-O

Mix cake mix and Jell-O together. Add eggs, water, oil and strawberries. Beat on medium until well mixed and smooth. I prefer the batter to be a bit thicker and like to beat it until it's kind of fluffy. It's up to you, do what you want.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 min.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 c. butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c. strawberry puree
1 tsp vanilla
6-7 c. powdered sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add berries and vanilla, mix well. Slowly add powdered sugar until frosting holds its shape and is the right consistency to frost your cupcakes.

Garnish with strawberry halves if desired.

Linked to:
Totally Tasty Tuesdays 
Cast Party Wednesday

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

I have a love hate relationship with cookies. I love to eat them, obviously, but I HATE making them. There's just something about being stuck next to the oven waiting for the timer to go off that makes me want to run away screaming. So, it was with the knowledge that I could bail in the middle and turn this into a bar cookie if I got bored that I embarked on this cookie quest.

These cookies were inspired by Cutler's brownie cookies and my love of all things Oreo. I have a bunch of the marshmallow creme left over and I think it's going to go on a brownie today. You know, just to make sure I have covered all possibilities. The cookie base is very Oreoesque in it's deep, dark chocolaty taste. I made them as drop cookies but rolling them and smashing them a bit with a cup before baking would result in a more uniform look if that's your thing. Also, I think you could do any chocolate cookie, even a cake mix cookie and this would still be good. The marshmallow creme makes a ton and keeps in the fridge well. And it's so good you may never buy the kind in a bottle again. The frosting is my basic chocolate buttercream standby. YUM!

I shared these at a BBQ last night and they seemed to be a hit so I will probably do them again! :)

Double Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
4 1/2 doz cookies

2 c. butter, room temperature
2 1/3 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 T. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. dark, unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 2/3 ish c. flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients and slowly mix on low until well combine. Dough will be fairly stiff.

Form cookies (drop, roll, whatever) and bake on ungreased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. I would err on the side of not quite done if you don't like a little crispy to your cookies.

Marshmallow Creme
3 egg whites
16 oz light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 c. powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla extract

Combine egg whites, corn syrup and salt. Beat in your mixer on high for about 10 minutes or until they are thick. Think meringue. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until blended. Add vanilla and blend. You'll have to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all mixed.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 c. softened butter
3 T. milk
1 tsp vanilla
4-5 c. powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients together until the right consistency. 

Cookie assembly.

Spread approx 1 T. marshmallow on each cookie. It will kind of level out by itself so don't worry about being too picky. Frost with chocolate frosting and enjoy!! 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

This is just a quick post and run. I have made this frosting a couple of times now and it's very possibly in the running for my favorite...edging out the raspberry cream cheese. And, I don't even like blueberry as a general rule. We've done it with lemon cupcakes (I would highly recommend this) and vanilla cupcakes (a slightly boring but safe choice) and both were really good. The level of purple coloring depends on how many blueberries you actually add to the frosting or you can cheat and add food coloring. I didn't do that so it's not as vivid as it could be.

I've got to confess that I caught myself eating this with a spoon after I'd frosted all the cupcakes. The recipe makes a big batch of frosting and it kept well in the refrigerator for about a week. I'm guessing that it would probably freeze just fine as well.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 cube butter room temp
1 tsp almond extract
3 T. cream or milk
1 bag (ish) powdered sugar
1/2 c. blueberries

Puree berries in a food processor and set aside. Cream the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar alternating with the milk and almond extract. Add blueberry puree and adjust the thickness with additional powdered sugar until it's stiff enough to pipe. Refrain from squeezing frosting directly into your mouth...frost your cupcakes and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fettucini Carbonara

Soooo, I've been away so long that Blogger changed their format and now I'm completely confused. It's like starting over with the blogging thing. I have a bad habit of dropping things that I'm not good at but I'm going to try to persevere and figure this out. Surely I'm that smart, right??

I happened to have a few minutes of  "I need to take a brain break" time today and clicked on my Pioneer Woman bookmark. I love to spend hours catching up on PW's recipes, pictures and random thoughts but haven't had time to do that recently. Luckily for me the most recent post was one for Pasta Carbonara and I just happened to be in need of a dinner plan. I had all the ingredients in the fridge so it must have been destiny.

The first time I saw anything in a Carbonara sauce was on Diners Drive Ins and Dives. I love, love, love seeing all the different foods and places that they feature around the country. Anyway, I was intrigued but the instructions were a little bit too hazy for me to feel comfortable just winging so I didn't attempt it. Then I saw it again on The Best Thing I Ever Ate...and again on Rachel Ray. Then AGAIN today!! I printed the recipe out and went merrily on my way. I did lighten it up a bit by using Half and Half instead of heavy cream but I'm not convinced that it made a big enough difference nutritionally to do it again. It would be thicker with cream so use what you have. I wouldn't recommend using pregrated Parmesan (I'm something of a cheese snob) but it would probably work just fine.

Fettucini Carbonara
Serves 6
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

12 oz Fettucini
8 slices thick cut bacon, chopped into pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 whole eggs
3/4 c. grated Parmesan (grate your own if you can)
3/4 c. half and half or heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste (we like lots of pepper)
2/3 c. green peas

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon in heavy pan until barely crispy. Don't over cook. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour bacon grease from pan and turn heat to med low-ish. Cook onions and garlic until golden brown. Set those aside too.
3. Combine eggs and half and half and mix well. Add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Mix all together and set aside.
4. Microwave peas for 1 minute; just until thawed.
5. Drain pasta (reserve 1 c. pasta water) and put in a large bowl. While pasta is hot, slowly drizzle egg mixture into noodles while stirring constantly. The sauce will start to thicken as the eggs cook and you stir. Halfway through add bacon, onions, and peas. Finish adding the last of the egg mixture and stir until combined.
6. Serve with additional Parmesan (lots)

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

These cupcakes were my contribution to the monthly birthday party at my mom's. I saw some similar on Pinterest but the original pin didn't actually link back to the right place. That's my pet peeve with Pinterest. If you are going to pin something, for heavens sake try to find the original website so that you can actually find the recipe or directions or whatever. There's nothing more annoying than clicking through 37 pins trying to find the original and never getting there. That's when I give up and call it a day. So, if you are going to pin, please, please, please use good pinning etiquette!! (Stepping down off soap box now)

Back to the cupcakes. I used my standard Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix with a few tweaks and Toll House break apart cookie dough. I'm lazy like that. :) If you have a fabulous recipe for either a chocolate cake that you love or an awesome chocolate chip cookie by all means, use that if you have time. The frosting was the real star in my opinion anyway. Shocking, I know. Jiggle loves frosting. Stop. The. Presses.

Cookie Dough Cupcakes
24 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 box Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix
1 package Toll House cookie dough, frozen (I did roll mine into balls to appear more homemade)
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. oil
3/4 c. sour cream
3 eggs

1. Mix everything together and distribute half of the batter evenly between 24 cupcakes. Put frozen cookie dough in each muffin cup. Cover with remaining batter. 
2. Bake 20 minutes (My oven is wonky so you are going to want to pay attention in case 20 minutes is too long) at 350 degrees. 
3. Let cool on rack.

Cookie Dough Frosting:
1 1/2 cubes softened butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. all purpose flour
2 T. milk

1. Mix butter, brown sugar, salt, flour and vanilla together. 
2. Add powdered sugar a little bit at a time beating well. Alternate powdered sugar and milk until you reach a good frosting consistency. I always end up adding a little bit more sugar than I think I'm going to need.

Frost cupcakes and garnish with mini chocolate chips and a baby Chips Ahoy. I actually broke the cookies in half so they didn't stick up so far. That made traveling much easier!! 


Friday, April 13, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

This is a total post and run kind of entry. :) In order for me to even think about blogging I'm going to have to do some time management kind of thing. *sigh*

Last week I was at a convention for work and one of the activities they planned for us was a river cruise. Well. I don't do water. I don't do boats. The whole thing makes me want to throw up. That said I was dragged onto the yacht by my coworkers and proceeded to go on this cruise. The scenery was beautiful and the water was calm but let's be really honest, the desserts were the highlight of the night for me. Chocolate kept me calm enough that I didn't need to have any Xanax and gave me some inspiration for when I got home. We had a cheesecake topped brownie that was so rich and chocolatey that I was in brownie heaven. This is my version, adapted from Duncan Hines, and I think the next time I do it I'm going to do a cookies and cream cheesecake topping. Cause everything is better with an Oreo!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

Crust:
1 Devil's Food Cake Mix (reserve 1/4 cup mix for topping)
1 egg
1 cube butter

Mix all ingredients together with your hands or a pastry blender until crumbly. Press into a sprayed 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

Topping:
2 eggs
1 8 oz cream cheese softened
1/4 c. cake mix
1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 c. Hershey's syrup

Mix eggs and cream cheese until well blended and smooth. Add cake mix and mix well. Add chocolate syrup and chocolate chips and gently blend together just until mixed. Don't overmix. Pour topping over crust mixture and bake at 325 degrees for 23-25 minutes.

Cool completely before cutting. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate until served.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Buttermilk Syrup

I can't believe how crazy busy I've gotten in the past couple of months. It feels like I'm never home and when I am I'm too tired to think about anything more complicated than pancakes or waffles. Fast and easy kind of dinner. It's an additional bonus that it's not a repeat because who actually has time for breakfast in the morning??? Not me, or anyone else that lives with me.

One thing that makes breakfast for dinner a bit more special and makes  it feel like mom cares about you is homemade syrup. Don't get me wrong, there will always be a place for Mrs. Butterworth but sometimes it's nice to takes a few extra minutes and do something without all the preservatives that's rich and buttery and totally not good for you in an oh, so good way. This syrup is one that pops up all over the place. Most everyone I know has a version of it and they are all good. This is the one I use. Take that for what it's worth. :) It's good over all breakfast foods and I have to stop myself from just eating it with a spoon out of a bowl!

Buttermilk Syrup

1 cup sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk (or 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice and enough milk to make 1/2 c. let sit for 5 minutes)
1 cube butter (don't use margarine)
1 T. Karo syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil for 1 minute in a small saucepan stirring constantly. Add soda and vanilla. Serve warm.