Friday, June 29, 2012

Strawberry Corn Salad

I am about to rock your world.

If you are a sweet and salty combo person, this salad is for you.

And if you're not, that's just sad....cause this salad is one of the best I have ever had in my whole little life.

I know salad 'recipes' can be boring and blah blah blah, but I really couldn't resist sharing this one I just whipped up! 

Strawberry Corn Salad
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper (trust me!)
1/4 cup pecans, candied with 1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese
1 Avocado, cubed (optional- I didn't do this, but I'm dreaming about how amazing it would be)

Combine everything in a bowl and eat!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No- Bake Peanut Butter Rocky Road Bars

My husband loves rocky road things, and although I don't share his passion or see what the big deal is about rocky road things, I like to keep him happy, so I came up with this combination for him...but I won't lie. I secretly really liked them a lot!!!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Rocky Road Bars
Makes 12-16 bars

1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4-1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup marshmallows
1 1/2 cups oats

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, milk and butter. Over medium heat, stir constantly until mixture boils, then cook for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and oats.
In a waxed paper lined, lightly greased 8x8" pan spread and press half the mixture. Use your hands if you need to, but be careful cause it's probably pretty hot!
Over the first layer, sprinkle 1/4 cup chocolate chips, marshmallows, and peanuts.

In 4 sections, drop the remaining batter over your toppings, working carefully, and press top layer into them. 

Top off with remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips, pressing in to top.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before lifting wax paper out of the pan and cutting.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Banana Nut Cream Cheese Stuffed Muffins

I loooove to bake on rainy days. It's one of my favorite things to do, and today, I had a lot of it to do! Well, not that much... but when you have a baby that needs her mommy cause she's about to pop another tooth and all she wants to do is snuggle, and then you also have a couple loads of laundry to fold and put away, neverending dishes to wash, and regular house cleaning
seemed a little overwhelming this morning.

Me and my mom are working on a cookbook, so I had a couple recipes to test out and bake for that, but I also had a few banana's that were well past their glory days. Like so ripe, they were almost rotten.

The same old banana bread routine bores me and I had some cream cheese to use up and the combination of bananas and cream cheese sounded perfect to me!

These muffins were indeed perfect. I had one right out of the oven and it was amazing...I love eating things that have surprises in the middle.

Banana Nut Cream Cheese Stuffed Muffins
Pre-heat oven to 375. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin pan.

Muffin Batter:
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla 
1 cup chopped pecans, divided

4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 Cup sugar

For the filling:
With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar on high til smooth and creamy and well combined. Line a deep bowl or cup with a ziploc bag and fill with filling.

For the muffins:
In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugars.
In a small separate bowl, mash bananas very well. Add buttermilk, oil eggs and vanilla, and mix well.
Add wet ingredients to dry, add in /2 cup pecans and mix just until combined.
Drop 1-2 tablespoons batter in muffin pan, enough to cover the bottom of each cup.

Snip off a good size corner (about 1/2") of your bag with filling and squeeze about a tablespoon of the filling onto first layer of muffin batter.

Cover with the filling with batter, filling up the muffin cups almost all the way.
Top with remaining pecans.

Bake 20-22 minutes til golden brown.
Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before trying to gently remove with a butter knife.

Makes 12-16 muffins.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Whoopie Pie Cake

When I was little, me and my brother nate would sell whoopie pies at the end of our driveway, every Saturday. EVERY Saturday.

We would be out there at 8 am and sit out there until 12, making bank at 75 cents a whoopie. If our friends slept over the night before, we would drag them outside with us to sell! I'm sure all the adorable charm didn't hurt the sales...

Believe it or not, we actually made decent money...and usually we had a few leftover pies...and got to eat them. Somehow, I never got sick of them.

Lots of people have their own versions, but whenever I have someone else's, it's just not right.

The cookie part is either too cookie-ish, or too cakey and not chocolate-y enough, and the filling usually ends up being a buttercream or something weird that does not belong in a real whoopie pie.

I stand by my mom's recipe, forever and always.

A few days ago I got a hankering for some comfort dessert food. Cinnamon Rolls or Whoopie Pies. I needed one. So I decided to make a Whoopie Pie cake! Brilliant!

The only bad thing is that I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the cookie part of the cake, cause the original recipe just wouldn't work...I won't bore you with the details of why, but the filling is straight up authentic! Just like the old days.

Whoopie Pie Cake
Pre-heat oven to 350.

Line 2, 9" round pans with wax paper and grease.

2 Cups sugar
1 3/4 Cups AP flour
3/4 Cup Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup milk
1 cup hot, strong coffee
1 cup chocolate chips

1 Cup non-hydrogenated shortening
2 Cups powdered sugar
2 Cups Fluff
2 tsp. vanilla

For the cake:
Combine dry ingredients.
Add in eggs, vanilla and applesauce and mix until very well combined.
Pour in hot coffee and mix very well.
Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans and sprinkle 1/2 cup chocolate chips into each pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes- until a toothpick in center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 mintes in pan, then flip out onto a wax paper lined wire rack.
Let cool completely.

For the frosting:
In an electric mixer, combine shortening, fluff and vanilla and beat very well, until fluffy.
Slowly add in powdered sugar so it doesn't puff up anywhere.
Gradually turn up the mixer speed and beat on high until light and fluffy.

Refrigerate until ready to frost cake. When you're ready, fill a ziplock bag with the frosting and cut off large corner.

Put one cake half on a plate. Slowly, and thickly swirl the frosting onto the cake. Top with other half. Eat!
(If you want you can top with a chocolate glaze or ganache- Im lazy so I didn't.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blueberry Cheesecake Mousse Dip

It's hot here.

When it's hot, we eat ice cream.

I made this bad boy last night:

-Whoopie pie ice cream
-Hot fudge sauce
-Kit kats
-Cookies and Cream ice cream
-Hot fudge sauce
-Cool Whip

Yeah. Can we say waist buster? But let me tell you- If you're gonna bust, what better way to do it? It was SO GOOD. And that's an understatement.

But sometimes, sometimes, you want something different- like blueberry cheesecake! Light, fluffy blueberry cheesecake mousse is even better. Because you can dip things in it, like strawberries, graham crackers, and spoons.

Fruit Cheesecake Mousse Dip

-4 oz. low fat cream cheese
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1/2 of 8 oz. container fat free Cool Whip
-1/2 Cup frozen blueberries, thawed

In an electric mixer on high, beat cream cheese and vanilla.
On low, slowly add in powdered sugar. Gradually turn up to high and beat really well until smooth.
Add in Blueberries, mixing on high.
Fold in Cool whip.

You could also make this with frozen strawberries, or any frozen fruit actually!

So good!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Easy No-Bake Granola Bars

Sunday night, as me and my husband were getting ready for bed, I realized I hadn't packed a lunch for him.

I almost left him a note just saying he should grab something at mickey-d's or whatever for lunch...but quickly I decided against that because 1: I despise McDonalds with PASSION, and 2: we had just had a conversation about being better about saving money and all that.

So it was time for me to get creative.

Did I mention Sunday is the day before monday which is usually shopping day? Which also means finding something to fill and satisfy a big hungry man is nothing short of a great mission.

So I boiled some pasta, slapped some pesto and grated peccorino romano cheese on it, threw some cottage cheese in a tupperwear with blueberries sprinkled on top (does he even like cottage cheese?), and gave him 2 cookies from the freezer and a peanut butter granola bar that was so small it wouldn't have even been enough to feed our 10 month old daughter for a snack.

Later on when he came home, (I had since grocery shopped) I asked him what he thought of his 'creative' lunch?

The pasta was underdone, he doesn't really like cottage cheese, but ate it cause it was food and he was hungry, the cookies melted and somehow got on the ladder in the back of his truck on the ladder ( don't ask me how that happened) and when the guys were unloading at a job, they thought it was dog poop all over everything.


I made up for the horrible lunch and we had a fantastic dinner. All is forgiven.

When I was grocery shopping earlier that afternoon, I was going to buy him some manly granola/energy bars, but they are so expensive and I have a love/hate relationship with them. 
I love how they are big and manly and have lots of protein in them for my big man and are all wrapped up, and ready to throw in his lunch box, but I hate how they are like, over a dollar each.

Sometimes I make them, sometimes I buy them. Depends on my mood.

Since I was trying to spend as little as possible on this shopping trip, I opted for making them.

These couldn't be easier...5ish ingredients, and 5 minutes. No sugar, plenty of protein and lots of yummy.


Easy No-Bake Granola Bars
Makes 12-5 bars

2 cups oats
1/2-1 cup raisins and/or chocolate chips (I didn't have chocolate chips, just raisins)
3/4 cup melted smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup honey

Mix all ingredients very well.
Press very firmly into a 9x13" pan lined with wax paper.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before lifting out of pan and cutting into desired size!

Add in's:
dried cranberries, cherries 
chia seeds
flax seeds

Friday, June 15, 2012

Easy Pizza Pasta Bake

Believe it or not, there are some nights I just don't feel like cooking dinner or at least doing anything fancy...

Last night was one of those nights. I had like, 7 different kinds of cheeses hanging around my fridge leftover from other recipes I had made, and I wanted to use them up before they went bad.

And seeing a bunch of little chunks of random cheese in my fridge was stressing me out.

So I threw this stuff together and it was D-E-LI-CIOUS.

So easy. So fast. So yummy.

Easy Pizza Pasta Bake
(Serves 4-6)
Pre-heat oven to 350.

8 oz. Pasta
2 Cups canned, unseasoned tomato sauce
2 Cups grated cheese (1 Cup mozzarella, and the other cup can be whatever you want)
1/2 Cup turkey pepperoni slices, halved
3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 Tsp. dill
1 Tsp. italian seasoning
1 Tsp. parsley
1/2 Tsp. red pepper flakes

Cook pasta according to package directions.
When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pan.
Add in tomato sauce, spices, 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and the pepperoni.
When everything is well covered and mixed, pour into a deep pie plate, or a 9x9" pan.
Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese  on top.
Bake for 15 minutes.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chocolate Coconut and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I keep thinking today is Friday.


But, I guess when you're a stay at home mom weekends aren't much different than the week. I just like the sound of them I suppose...
In celebration of the "weekend" I made cookies. I love making cookies. I love eating the dough, my husband loves eating the actual cookies. It's perfect. 
These cookies are wonderful- you will love them- if you love coconut. I never understood non coconut lovers...
You can totally make these without coconut stuff in them though, and I guarantee you will still adore them.

Chocolate Coconut and White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pre-heat oven to 350.

1 Cup (to sticks butter, softened)
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup coconut m&m's

Cream together butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes on medium-high.
Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Mix in the cocoa powder and add in the vanilla and coconut extract, and mix until very well blended 
Add in the flour, salt and baking powder all at once, and on low speed mix just until combined.
Fold in the chips, coconut and m&m's.
On a greased baking sheet, drop tablespoon sized balls 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.
Let cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Oatmeal Creme Pie Cookies (little debbie knockoff)

I'm all about eating something at a restaurant, or out of a box, and seeing if I can re-create it.

For 2 reasons: 
1- I can probably make it a lot healthier and home.
2- I like a good challenge.

The other day I realized after being married to my guy for almost 3 years, I didn't know what his favorite dessert was! When I asked him, his answer surprised me. "Cookies. My weakness is cookies. I just can't say no!"

"What kind?" I asked.

"All of them. Any kind. But especially the Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme ones."

Ahhhh yes! I have fond memories of those babies. Oatmeal Cremes and Fudge Rounds. 

Growing up, my mom almost never bought pre-packaged stuff. Everything was homemade. The bread, donuts, muffins, and although she would buy cereal sometimes ( something way not sugary, like grape nuts or plain cheerios), she would often times make us granola instead. So when I finally started making my own money by babysitting, I would buy a box of little debbies, and down the whole thing in one sitting. Making up for a childhood deprived of little debbie? Maybe....Ugh. I gross myself out.
And I thought I was the only one who did such gluttonous things- until I met my husband.

He grew up very differently from me, and pre-packaged foods like that were a part of his everyday life.

When he confessed his undying love for oatmeal cremes, he then proceeded to tell me how when he lived in LA he would buy a box and down it in one sitting. It was comfort food.

I knew we were soul mates!!!!

So, here came the challenge: Make little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies that actually TASTE like Little Debbies. I refuse to buy that packaged crap unless it's for a public gathering where no one cares and is involved in making a recipe type of a thing. But buying the box just for our consumption? I'm a snob- what can I say?

This recipe tastes just like them. 
You will die.
But before you go, make sure to thank the good Lord for taste buds. Yes and amen.

Oatmeal Creme Pies
Pre-heat oven to 350.

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal

2 cups Fluff
1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (or regular, but that stuff is naaasty)
1 1/2- 2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

In the bowl of a mixer, on medium-high beat together butter, sugars, molasses and vanilla and eggs, til light and fluffy.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture.

Stir just until combined!

Fold in oatmeal by hand. Don't get crazy with the mixing, here.

Drop tablespoon sized scoops into waxed paper lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just lightly browned.

Do not over bake, whatever you do- I found 10 minutes was just perfect!

Let cool on sheet for a minutes or two before removing to a wire cooling rack.

For the filling:
Add all ingredients together in electric mixer and mix on high until light and fluffy!

For easy filling, place a large ziplock bag in a large mug or deep bowl, and dump filling in.

Snip off a corner of the bag and generously swirl filling easily onto a cookie bottom, and top off with another cookie.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Butterfinger Nutter Butter Cheesecake Bars

Butterfinger, for whatever reason has to be one of my all time favorite candy bars. I have no idea why seeing as I'm usually an ooey gooey chunks of chocolate kinda person.
I think it may be cause it's just so sweet. I love sugar. Ugh. It's terrible.
Like I only eat cake if the frosting to cake ratio is pretty much even. And if it's not, I settle for the piece with the most decorations and frosting flowers on it. You know, the piece the kids always want. Then I eat the frosting and throw the cake part away...Unless there's ice cream to go with the cake, then I'm more gracious if there is a lack of frosting and I'll eat the whole piece...

I'm not particular!

So anyways, I saw this Butterfinger/Nutter Butter-full recipe on The Farm Girl and almost died from excitement.
I needed these.

You need these.

I made a double batch in a 9x13" pan cause were going to a cookout later....I decided it was probably good to share- I am so weak.

Butterfinger Nutter Butter Cheesecake Bars
Makes a 9x13" pan. If you want to half the recipe, just use a 9x9" pan.
Pre-heat oven to 325, and line your pan with parchment paper, or lightly greased tin foil.

For the crust:

  • 1 package Nutter Butter Cookies
  • 1/2 Cup butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. AP flour
  • 12-16 fun sized butterfingers, crushed in a Ziplock bag
  • 1 Cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. butter/shortening for melting
Grind Nutter Butters in a food processor or blender. If you're doing it in your blender, crush the cookies in 2 batches. Pour in melted butter and pulse a few times to mix.
Press very firmly into prepared pan.
In an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together for 1 minute on medium/high, or until fluffy and smooth.
Add in vanilla, eggs and flour.
Fold in crushed butterfingers.
Pour over prepared crust and bake for 24-28 minutes, or until set in the center.
Cool at room temperature, then stick in the freezer for an hour.
After the hour, melt the chocolate chips with butter or shortening in 20 second intervals. 2 should be enough. If you still have a few chips that aren't melted, but the rest is just keep stirring and it will finish melting and become smooth.
Pour over cold cheesecake and freeze again for another hour-ish before removing foil from the pan and cutting into bars.
Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Moroccan Tomato Salad

I somehow had a zillion tomatoes in my fridge from when I went shopping last week, and for whatever reason, I bought more when I went shopping today.

I was looking for a way to use them up, and with a little inspiration and creativity, came up with this salad. Wow.

It has so much flavor and depth, yet is so light and refreshing. Perfect for summer!

Morrocan Tomato Salad

4-5 medium tomatoes
2 green onions
1/4 Tsp. curry powder
Dash of cumin
1/4- 1/2 Tsp. dill
1/2 Tsp. dried parsley
1 Tsp. olive oil

Wash tomatoes, and cut in half. Cut each half into even slices.
In a bowl big enough to toss salad in, add chopped green onions, and all the spices.
Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss very well.

You can add more or less of any of the spices...I added more dill than is written here. I love me some dill.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Twix Trifle

I'm all about candy bar inspired desserts.

Like almond joy brownies, butterfinger blondies, snickers cake.....They're all just so good.

I was inspired the other night by the cute little mini twix's and as I was eating one, dreamily basking in the magnificently smooth chocolate + caramel and then crunchy shortbread combination, an idea hit me! Since I am the lover of all things trifle, why not do a twix trifle?!

Let me tell you, this stuff is the bomb. I only wish the pictures did it justice but let's face it- there's just no way to make a serving of trifle look pretty.

I suggest you just make it to see for yourself.

Twix Trifle
We're going to need 5 layers:

1- For the Chocolate cake I used THIS recipe, HALVED.
2- For the Caramel sauce I used THIS recipe.
3- For the Shortbread cookies I used THIS recipe, halved, but I might do the whole recipe next time.
4- For the whipped topping I used 2, 8 oz. tubs of Cool Whip
5- For the chocolate mouse:

-1 Cup milk chocolate chips
-1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
 Mix together on the stove top in a small pot.
Stir constantly over medium heat til smooth.
Let cool.
Fold the ganache into one of the tubs of cool whip in a medium bowl.

Now that you have all your layers, layer away!
I started with Chocolate cake, cubed into smallish cubes on the bottom.
Chocolate Mousse.
Crumbled shortbread.
Caramel sauce.
Cool Whip.
Repeat to the top!

Obviously you can mess with it....There's no wrong way to do a trifle, but this seriously taste just like a Twix...So I can't couch for the Twix-y taste so much if things are changed. But I do know, It will taste amazing no matter what!

Happy Tuesday!