Saturday, December 31, 2011

Key Lime Bars

A few weeks ago a friend had a cookie making party. We all got together and made a bunch of different cookies. When we left we all got to take a few of each cookie. These bars were one of the "cookies" she made. I took them home and ate them the next day with my lunch. I was sad that I only had 2 of them. I think I could have eaten the whole pan all by myself! They have all the flavor of a key lime pie, but in small little hand held bites of heaven! I made them again for some friends we had over for dinner and they all loved them as well!

Key Lime Bars
Makes 16 bars

5 oz animal crackers or graham crackers
3 tbs packed brown sugar
pinch of salt
4 tbs unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly

2 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 tbs grated lime zest
pinch of salt
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup key lime or fresh lime juice

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan  with aluminum foil, allowing the extra foil to hang over the edges of the pan. Lightly coat the foil-lined pan with cooking spray.

2. For the crust: Process the animal crackers in a food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds. Add the brown sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Drizzle the butter over the crumbs and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened with the butter, about ten 1 second pulses. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool the crust on a wire rack while making the filling. Do not turn off the oven.

3. For the filling: while the crust cools combine the cream cheese, zest and salt in a medium bowl. Beat until smooth. Add the condensed milk and been until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; mix in the yolk. Add the lime juice and mix slowly until incorporated.

4. To assemble: Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth with a spatula. Bake until set and the edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides, 15-20 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack 1-2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled at least 2 hours.

5. Loosen the edges with a paring knife and remove from baking pan by lifting the foil extensions. Cut into 16 squares.

Recipe Source: The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2008: The Year's Best Recipes, Equipment Reviews, and Tastings

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Strawberry Salad

I always love a good salad. I will be honest though, this salad with the dressing is more like a dessert. The combination of strawberries, Craisins, and the fabulousness of the dressing is just heavenly.  Its probably not the most healthy salad, but is absolutely to die for! If you are looking for a crowd pleaser of a salad this is it! This is another delicious recipe courtesy of my wonderful mother.

Strawberry Salad
1 head of romaine lettuce
10 Strawberries sliced
1/2 cup Craisins
8 oz Feta Cheese
Candied Almonds or plain pine nuts
Wash and cut lettuce. Place in a large salad bowl. Top with remaining ingredients and toss lightly to combine.
*To candy the almonds, place almonds in frying pan.  Pour a lot of sugar to cover over the top.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar melts and coat the almonds.  It seems like it takes forever for the sugar to melt but it does!
Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup rice vinegar (I have also used apple cider vinegar with good results)
4 tbl. red onion
4 fresh strawberries
1 tbl. water
1 1/2 cups canola oil
4 tsp. poppy seed
Throw all ingredients in the blender and puree.

Monday, December 26, 2011

French Country (Sour Dough) Bread

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

This really has been such a fun challenge. I am actually quite a novice when it comes to sour dough bread. I have made tons of traditional yeast breads but never sour dough. My family grew up eating sour dough pancakes, but that is my only experience with a sour dough starter. This has been just the beginning of my experimentation with sour dough! I will first give you the recipe for the starter and then the bread recipe.

French Country Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf plus extra wheat starter for further baking

Wheat Starter - Day 1:
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
Total scant ½ cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86 F if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer.

Wheat Starter - Day 2:

4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
scant 1/2 cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
Total scant cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.

Wheat Starter - Day 3:
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
4 teaspoons (20 ml) water
scant 1 cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
Total 1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8-1/10 oz)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place.

Wheat Starter - Day 4:
3/4 cup plus 1½ tablespoons (205 ml) (120 gm/4 ¼ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup less 4 teaspoons (100 ml) water
1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8 oz) starter from Day 3
Total scant 2⅔ cup (625 ml) (440 gm/15½ oz)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!

French Country Bread
Stage 1: Refreshing the leaven
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (225 ml) (160 gm/5 ⅔ oz) wheat Leaven Starter
6 tablespoons less 1 teaspoon (85 ml) (50 gm/1¾ oz) stoneground bread making whole-wheat or graham flour
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ⅓ oz) unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
Production Leaven Total 2¾ cups plus 4 teaspoons (680 ml) (480 gm /1 lb 1 oz)
1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. It may be fairly stiff at this stage. Cover and set aside for 4 hours, until bubbling and expanded slightly.

French Country Bread
Stage 2: Making the final dough

3/4 cup less 1 teaspoon (175 ml) (100 gm/3 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (510 ml) (300gm/10 ½ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons (7½ ml) (7 gm/¼ oz) sea salt or ⅔ teaspoon (3⅓ ml) (3 gm/⅛ oz) table salt
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) water
1 ¾ cups (425 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) production leaven – this should leave some (1 cup) for your next loaf.
Total 6 cups less 2 tablespoons 1415 ml (1007 gm/35 ½ oz/2 lb 3½ oz)

1. Mix the dough with all the ingredients except the production leaven. It will be a soft dough.

2. Knead on an UNFLOURED surface for about 8-10 minutes, getting the tips of your fingers wet if you need to. You can use dough scrapers to stretch and fold the dough at this stage, or air knead if you prefer. Basically, you want to stretch the dough and fold it over itself repeatedly until you have a smoother, more elastic dough.

3. Smooth your dough into a circle, then scoop your production leaven into the centre. You want to fold the edges of the dough up to incorporate the leaven, but this might be a messy process. Knead for a couple minutes until the leaven is fully incorporated in the dough.

4. Spread some water on a clean bit of your work surface and lay the dough on top. Cover with an upturned bowl, lining the rim of the bowl with a bit of water. Leave for an hour, so that the gluten can develop and the yeasts can begin to aerate the dough.

5. Once your dough has rested, you can begin to stretch and fold it. Using wet hands and a dough scraper, stretch the dough away from you as far as you can without breaking it and fold it back in on itself. Repeat this in each direction, to the right, towards you, and to the left. This will help create a more ‘vertical’ dough, ready for proofing.

6. Heavily flour a banneton/proofing basket with whole wheat flour and rest your dough, seam side up, in the basket. Put the basket in a large plastic bag, inflate it, and seal it. Set aside somewhere warm for 3-5 hours, or until it has expanded a fair bit. It is ready to bake when the dough responds to a gently poke by slowly pressing back to shape.

7. Preheat the oven to hot 425°F/220°C/gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then carefully invert the dough onto the sheet. I like to put the baking sheet on top of the basket, then gently flip it over so as to disturb the dough as little as possible. Make 2-3 cuts on top of the loaf and bake for 40-50 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after 10 minutes.

8. Cool on a cooling rack.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Cake

I love trying new recipes! I guess that is why I have a food blog. I love finding recipes and having them turn out just like I had hoped! So when my sister in law asked me to make her a birthday cake I was really excited. She wanted a strawberry cake with strawberry whipped cream frosting and strawberries on top. I had never made a strawberry cake before so I had to make sure I did it right. Most of the recipes I found out there called for strawberry jello. I didn't really want to use jello. I wanted the cake to be full of real strawberries. After lots and lots of searches I finally found one that sounded good. I knew if the cake was good, the rest would be easy. After I poured the batter into the pans I (of course) had to try the left overs in the bowl and they were amazing. I kinda didn't even want to cook the cake. My husband agreed, but the logical side took over and we decided to cook the cake. After eating the cake my husband told me that this cake might be his favorite cake. I will agree that this cake is quite delicious! It was so fun to have a fruity delicious cake even if it is mid winter!

It was kinda funny because both my husband and I thought that the other person had taken a picture of the cake. So right before we were about to eat it with the family we realized that we didn't have a picture yet. We had very high hopes that this cake would be amazing and just knew if we didn't have a picture of it we would greatly regret it. So all of us took out our phones and started snapping pictures of it. I think our phones did a pretty good job considering its a phone!

Fresh Strawberry Cake
Yields: ~12-16 servings
Estimated time: 40 minutes

A completely from-scratch, fresh strawberry cake. No jello, food coloring, or artificial flavors!

24 oz frozen or very ripe fresh strawberries, hulled (if frozen, thawed)
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature (4 whole eggs can be substituted, per reader comments)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened (not melted)


Thaw frozen strawberries in whatever form (sliced, whole, etc) and in whatever container/bag you have them in. Pour into a fine strainer placed over a bowl and let sit. Lightly toss the strawberries occasionally to remove any pockets of excess liquid. Reserve the liquid for another use or discard.

Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree. (You can use fresh strawberries if you don't have a stash of frozen strawberries in your freezer. Just hull, slice and toss with a teaspoon or two of sugar and cover. Let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, until nice and juicy. Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree.)

Reserve 3/4 cup puree for the cake. Use leftover puree to fill the cake or fold into the frosting, if desired. It's also fabulous spooned over ice cream... and eaten straight with a spoon.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8 inch pans: spray inside with baking spray with flour (or use some sort of grease/flour combination) and line outside with heavy duty foil (optional)

In small bowl, combine puree, milk, egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.

Add liquids and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds. Divide the batter evenly among the pans and smooth tops.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary).

Let cakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks. Let cakes cool completely (about 2 hours).

Strawberry Filling

2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped hulled strawberries ( I used the left over strawberry puree)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tsp lemon juice

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a heavy small sauce pan, stirring constantly and crushing berries slightly with back of spoon.

Boil 2 minutes to thicken, stirring constantly (mixture will be slightly chunky).

Pour into bowl and cool completely.

Once cooled trim cake and place filling on top of bottom layer. Top with second layer and frost.

Strawberry Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (at room temperature
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4-1/2 cup strawberry puree (add as much or as little as you want)

In a small bowl chilled beat whipping cream until very stiff peaks form (if you beat it any longer it will probably turn into butter); set in the fridge.
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Gradually add strawberry puree until you get your desired color and strawberry flavor of frosting. Fold in whipped cream. Frost cake as desired.

*Note: This is a very soft light frosting. I was able to frost a 2 layer cake with it and pipe with it a small amount, but this is not an ideal frosting for piping, but it is an ideal frosting for eating so do with it as you please.

Recipe Source: Cake - Confections of a Foodie Bride, Filling modified from
Frosting adapted from this recipe.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sour Dough Pancakes

I must be on a breakfast kick or something this week because that is all I can think about posting. Well these top the list of my favorite breakfasts. These pancakes have been in my life for as long as I can remember. As kids my mom used to make them for us every Sunday. After a while we decided to branch out and on sunday we would either have crepes, french toast, dutch babies, or these sour dough pancakes. As years went on my dad and I took over the task of making breakfast on Sundays. With this particular recipe I remember pouring in the melted butter as he whisked the batter and we tried not to splatter the butter everywhere as we mixed it in. I have so many fond memories of my family and these pancakes!

I actually hadn't made these pancakes in years. I have been out of the house for over 10 years (wow I can't believe how time flies) now and I just haven't had a starter for this recipe. Recently I decided I was going to make a sour dough starter the old fashioned way. I figured since I had the starter sitting around I might as well make some sour dough pancakes for my hubby. In all the time that I have known and been married to my husband he has never had sour dough pancakes. In my book this was practically a crime and had to be remedied. I am happy to report that he loved them almost as much as I do!

*Note: These pancakes do take a little bit of thought before hand since you have to start them the night before. If you don't have a sour dough starter on hand you can find many recipes for them on the web. I wanted a sour dough started that didn't call for yeast (just because this is an anomaly to me since I just figured out sour dough didn't have store bough yeast in it) I used a recipe similar to this but you are welcome to use any sour dough starter you like. The great thing is once you have a sour dough starter you can keep using it forever!

Sour Dough Pancakes

Night before:
4 tbs sour dough starter
2 cups flour
2 cups milk warmed for 2 minutes in the microwave

In the morning:
3 eggs
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs melted butter
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt


The night before warm milk in a medium sized microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes. Mix in flour and sour dough starter. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and leave out on counter over night.

The next morning take out 4 heaping tbs flour mixture for your new starter. Place in a jar or tupperware and store in the fridge until the next time. To the rest of the flour mixture add eggs, sugar, butter, soda, and salt. Whisk quickly and thoroughly to combine all ingredients. The baking soda will react with the rest of the mixture and the batter will bubble up a little bit. Once everything is combined let is sit and bubble for a few minutes while your griddle is heating up.

Heat griddle to 375 degrees or until a drop of water when dripped on it will bubble and dances across it. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until the edges appear to be dry or until the bubbles in the center pop and stay open.

These pancakes are not a fluffy pancake and they aren't supposed to be. If you must have fluffy pancakes you are welcome to add a little extra flour to the batter but trust me when I say that these pancake are perfect just the way they are!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Yes Yes I know I just posted these cinnamon roll pancakes and they were delicious! But why stop at one good thing? These waffles don't actually have the cinnamon sugar cooked into it like the pancakes do, but oh how I love the massive amount of cinnamony sugary goodness that is on top of these bad boys! These waffles are not for anyone who shies away from sugar. These waffles are delicious and sweet as if you were eating a cinnamon roll, but instead they have little grooves for all that goodness to fill. Once in your mouth they turn into pockets of goodness that leave you taste bud screaming for more!

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Yield: About 12 (4-inch) waffles
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Completely decadent breakfast treat- like a deconstructed cinnamon roll, turned into a waffle.



1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 Tablespoon grond cinnamon

4 Tablespoons butter

2 ounces cream cheese

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract




1. Prepare waffles: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture; set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened; batter will be slightly lumpy.

3. Preheat a waffle iron and spray with nonstick spray. Pour batter into waffle iron grid and close the lid. Bake until waffles are completely done- follow your waffle iron's instructions. Use a fork to remove finished waffles. Repeat with remaining batter. Keep waffles warm until ready to serve (a 200 degree oven is perfect).

4. Prepare cinnamon topping: In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a small zip baggie and set aside.

5. Prepare cream cheese topping: In a medium, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter and cream cheese for 30 to 60 seconds; just until melted. Stir together until smooth; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

6. When ready to serve, place waffle on plate, drizzle cinnamon topping, then drizzle cream cheese topping. Use as much or as little as you'd like. Serve immediately.

I first found this recipe here which took me to this site who got it from here :) Thanks to all of you for the amazing recipe!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I absolutely love breakfast! I am the type of person that must eat breakfast or I think I might waste away in those few short hours before lunch.  Really lets be honest, with my love of all things sweet why wouldn't I like something that you get to pour sugar/syrup/fruit all over? Well these bad boys fit that requirement quite well. These pancakes are sweet, cinnamony, and you get to pour frosting all over them. This is the true meaning of pancake.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Yield: 4 servings (4 pancakes)

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 10 min
An absolutely decadent morning treat...


1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

4 Tablespoons butter

2 ounces cream cheese

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Prepare pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in milk, oil and egg, just until batter is moistened (a few small lumps are fine).
2. In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a small zip baggie and set aside. You don't want this to remain super-liquidy. It's best if it becomes a consistency similar to toothpaste.
3. In a medium, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter and cream cheese until melted. Whisk together until smooth; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract; set aside.
4. Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick spray. Scoop about 3/4 cup batter onto the skillet. Snip the corner of your baggie of filling and squeeze a spiral of the filling onto the top of the pancake. When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
5. When ready to serve, spoon warmed glaze onto the top of each pancake.


*Keep the heat low or your pancakes might cook up too quickly. Don't flip them until you see those bubbles starting to pop on top. Flip them with a wide spatula so you can grasp the whole thing without batter and filling dripping all over the place!
*It's best if you pour the batter onto your skillet, wait a minute or so and then swirl the cinnamon onto the batter. That'll give it a chance to set a little before you add the swirl.
*If your baggie of filling begins to get too thick, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up again. On that same note, it shouldn't be too runny. The consistency of soft toothpaste is perfect. If it's melty and runny, it will tend to run all over your pancakes. Once you micro it, let it sit on the counter at room temp for a while until it thickens slightly.

Recipe Source: Recipe Girl

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Soft Sugar Cookies

What would Christmas time be without some delicious sugar cookies? There are many sugar cookie recipes out there, but these ones top them all. They are soft, and delicious with a hint of almond. I think every baker needs a go to sugar cookie recipe. One for all those cookie decorating moments, and really lets be honest who doesn't love a delicious sugar cookie! If you are in need of a good sugar cookie recipe this season look no further!

Soft Sugar Cookies

*Note: the baking temperature for this recipe may seem high but I believe it is one of the keys to success. The cookies still remain soft and light because they bake for such a short time (and they keep their shape really well!).

*Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies (about 2-3 inch size)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away. Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won’t appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don’t let them overbake! I find 7 1/2 minutes is about perfect but if they are even lightly browned on bottom, I decrease the time by 30 seconds. I like them super soft with not even a hint of browned edges or bottom. This way they literally melt in my mouth.

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting. The baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stored in a tupperware or ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. I also often freeze 1/2 of the sugar cookie dough when I don’t have time or don’t want to roll it out and cut shapes. I wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then stick it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze it for up to a month. I take it out the night before I want to roll it out and store it in the refrigerator to thaw (for about 12-15 hours). About 30 minutes before I want to use it, I let it sit on the counter to soften a bit and then I roll it out and cut out the cookies.

To top these cookies you could use this fabulous Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting. On this specific batch I used browned butter glaze. I used a combination of a 2 tbs browned butter,  2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup cream, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tbs almond extract. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. I used the glaze when it was still warm and simply dunked the cookies in the glaze and sprinkled some sprinkles on (just cause I love sprinkles). Both options are delicious so whichever one you choose your cookies will be to die for!

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chick Fil-A Sauce

I am not a huge fast food person. Even as a kid I have very few fast food places that I actually would eat at. My husband and I still rarely go out to a fast food place to eat. Chick Fil-A is one of those places that we actually go to. We always get the same thing every time we go. I always get their chicken nuggets with their Chick Fil-A sauce and he always gets their chicken sandwich on wheat (yes you can get a wheat bun) with fries and their Chick Fil-A sauce. The first time I tried the sauce I was quite skeptical. It is a mix between a barbecue sauce and a honey mustard sauce. I actually really don't like mustard, but I decided to try it anyways and boy am I glad I did. I haven't gotten another sauce from them since! Well in all my foodie ways of course I have been dying to try and figure out how to make it. Well the other night I did and I think we got pretty close!

Chick Fil-A Sauce

1/2 cup Mayo
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbs honey
1 tbs smokey BBQ sauce

Whisk all ingredients together. Serve as a sauce for chicken nuggets, fries, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, or anything else you might want it on. I also think it could be quite yummy as a salad dressing, but I will have to try that one out later.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Brownie Batter Bites

I grew up in a family that LOVES batters. It wasn't uncommon for us to make a batch of cookie dough and never get around to baking any of them. We have also been known to make a bowl of brownie batter or cake batter and just eat it with a spoon. Is this healthy? No. Do I absolutely love it? Yes. Does it bring me great joy and happiness accompanied by mental relaxation and nostalgia? Yes! Then logically I have come to the conclusion that this should be healthy for me. Don't worry I will exercise a little harder to make up for it. Or maybe I'll just blame it on the holidays. Whatever I need to do to feel good about eating these delicious little bites is worth it!

I came up with this idea as I was thinking about all the delicious truffles out there. We have Oreo truffles, cookie dough truffles, cake batter truffles, and many many more traditional truffles. After making these I decided to see if anyone else out there had thought of this brilliant idea. Not surprisingly I was not the first, and what they came up with was quite similar to what I came up with! I guess us batter lovers have to stick together on some things :). I decided to call mine bites because I didn't want to dip them in chocolate. They have more than enough chocolaty goodness by themselves, and it makes me feel like I really am eating brownie batter but in small bite size portions!

Brownie Batter Bites
Prep Time: 5 min
Fridge Time: At least 2 hrs

1 box of your favorite brownie mix
1/2-3/4 cup of half & half or cream
Sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Empty brownie mix into a medium sized microwavable bowl. Slowly add half & half or cream stirring as you add. Please note that different brands of brownie mix might require different amounts of cream. You want your batter to be thick kind of like a cookie dough. Once  you have mixed in your cream place bowl in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes stirring after 1st minute. I found that this made the batter a little smoother and less gritty. Your batter will now be melted and you can stir it a lot easier. Place batter in the fridge for a few hours until it has set back up. Scoop out about a tablespoon of batter at a time and roll into balls. You can roll them in sprinkles or cocoa powder to help cut down on the stickiness and just to make them look fun and colorful. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to a week. You could also store them in the freezer for longer if needed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

I found this recipe years ago and absolutely loved it! A good friend of mine recently asked me for the recipe and I had honestly kinda forgotten about it. I was so excited she reminded me about it that I just had to make it! This recipe has all the flavor of traditional chicken cordon bleu, but is much easier to make. I love it because I can honestly throw it together in  under 10 minutes, have it in the oven and ready to eat it in no time at all! I typically am all about making everything from scratch, but sometimes it is very nice to have a meal that is quick and easy with practically no prep on your part. What can I gets busy sometimes!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes

1.5 lbs popcorn chicken ** (I prefer the popcorn chicken, but regular chicken nuggets can be used)
8 ounces Swiss cheese, cubed
8 ounces cubed ham
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place chicken  in a glass baking dish, along with the Swiss cheese, and ham. Stir together the soup with 1 cup milk, pour over casserole.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

**If you prefer to make the breaded chicken from scratch that is definitely an option and will taste just as delicious, it just take a little more time.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Allrecipes

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup

Tis the season...for soup! I absolutely love soups. To be specific I love creamy cheesy soups! Since it has been getting quite cold around these parts I have been wanting and making more and more soups. I love something warm when its all cold outside. This soup fits all of my criteria for a soup that I love. I also kinda love that it is pureed until smooth. I love smooth creamy soups, and if you have children (or picky husbands) they won't even know that there is cauliflower in it!

Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup

2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk**
1 1/2 cups water**
1 can (13 3/4 to 14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1 head (2 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
Season with salt and pepper as desired

**Can substitute 1 can {12 oz} evaporated milk and 2 cups water for the 2 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups water.

In a large saucepan, melt margarine or butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in flour and salt. Gradually stir in milk, chicken broth, and water.

Add cauliflower and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.

In blender (with center part of blender cover removed to allow steam to escape), blend cauliflower mixture at low speed in small batches until very smooth. {Don't let this step deter you from making the soup! Blending it is really easy and so worth the extra 3 minutes. The most annoying part are the added dishes!}

Return cauliflower mixture to saucepan; heat over medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in mustard and 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted and smooth. Serve soup with remaining cheese as a garnish.

Recipe Source:Adapted slightly from Utah Deal Diva

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Microwave Carmels

Do any of the rest of you have a feeling that Pinterest is going to make you fat? No? So its just me then? Hmmm, well maybe I should work on that. I just can't help it. There are so many yummy and fun things on there that I just can't help but want to try all of them! It is one more site (along with all the other ones I look at almost daily) that shows me lots of yummy pictures of food that seriously makes my mouth water! I think I might be getting fat just from looking at the pictures. At least with Pinterest it also inspires me to look cute, make crafty things, decorate my house really cute, and there are even workout tips. So if the the pictures of food are making me fat then logically the pictures of people exercising should make me skinnier right? Note to self pin more workout tips!

Moving on...This recipe is another great find. This recipe is seriously amazing. I mean how can you go wrong with caramels right? I absolutely love soft chewy caramels. The thing I love most about this recipe though is that  it was done in 10 minutes! Start to finish it only took me 10 minutes. I let them cool in the pan while I went out and then voila I had some delicious caramels waiting for me when I got home. I would have never thought to make caramels in the microwave, but they worked like a charm!

Microwave Caramels

Cook time: 6 minutes
Yield: 12-24
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk


1.  Combine all ingredients.

2.  Cook 6 minutes, stirring every two minutes.

3.  Stir and pour into lightly greased dish.

4.  Let cool.

5.  Cut, wrap in wax paper & store in air tight container.

Recipe Source:

I also have to give a shout out to these cute little sock snowmen! A friend and I made these and I just think they are adorable. I kept mine pretty simple but you could doll them up anyway you like! They are super simple to make, and make great watchman over my caramels :).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stained Glass Cookies

I have recently been introduced to Pinterest and love it! I am continually amazed at how creative so many people are. It has definitely inspired me to be more crafty. I have only attempted to make a couple of the crafts, but I am definitely inspired and hopefully will make some more fun things. I also love it for bookmarking recipes I want to make. That is originally what sparked my curiosity of these cookies. I saw them pinned on someones board and thought they were the coolest things. Then when I saw how they made them I just knew I had to try it. On my first attempt I tried to use sprinkles. Let me tell you that this did not work. Sadly the sprinkles didn't melt. Who would have ever thought that sprinkles wouldn't melt? Next I tried Jolly Ranchers and they worked like a charm! These turned out so cute and can be made so festive!

Stained Glass Cookies

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
40 fruit flavored hard candies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silpat or tin foil. I used both, un-greased, and they both worked great.

Place hard candies in a Ziploc bag and crush with a meat tenderizer, rolling pin, or hammer. Don't worry about all the pieces being finely crushed. I had some bigger chunks and they still melted beautifully.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away. Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Cut out the center of your cookies that you want the "stained glass" appearance.  Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Fill center area with the crushed hard candies. I used about 1/2-1 tbs of the crushed candies in each of my cookie centers. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won’t appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don’t let them over bake! The hard candies will melt and bubble a little bit. Just make sure you candy is all melted. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking tray. Once candy center has cooled and is solid remove from baking sheet and place on wire cooling rack. You can eat as is or decorate with extra frosting as desired.

Recipe Source: Inspiration for stained glass cookies from here. The actual sugar cookie recipe I got from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sans Rival Cake

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

This cake is quite delicious. It is not too rich, but still has a delicious flavor. I think my favorite part of this cake was honestly the frosting. This frosting has a subtle sweetness and is oh so smooth and creamy! It seriously melts in your mouth! I think this recipe is definitely a keeper for me! The only thing I changed is that I used almonds instead of cashews and loved it. I'm not a big cashew person so feel free to use them if you prefer.

Sans Rival Cake

Preparation time:  
Batter prep: 20 minutes
Baking: 30-60 depending on layers
Frosting: 30 minutes
Assembly: 15 minutes

10 large egg whites, room temp
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar
¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa
(optional and not traditional) 
2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted almonds 

Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well. 
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.).
Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to
beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form.  (about 7-10 mins.) 
4. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration. 
5. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh
parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.  
6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the
baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm,
it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.  
7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Buttercream:

5 large egg yolks, room temperature 
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz)  white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water 
1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature 
Optional Flavorings: 2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract,
or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract, or any flavor you like


1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and
are a lemon yellow.
2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only
until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage). 
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been
added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue
beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in
the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter.
Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it. 

Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin
layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of 
buttercream, meringue, thin layer of  buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and
sides. Decorate with reserved nuts.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nutella Oatmeal Cookie Bars

With Thanksgiving being yesterday I just can't help but feel overwhelmingly lucky for the wonderful life I get to live. I have a wonderful husband, we are surrounded by wonderful family, we have a roof over our head and food on our table. Life really is good. Do you know what else is really good? Yep you guessed it, these bars! I absolutely love them with Nutella on top! My husband would prefer them with dark chocolate. Just know your options for topping these babies can be changed to suit your personal liking.

Nutella Oatmeal Cookie Bars
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time:25-30 minutes
Servings: 9

2 cubes (1 cup) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup sifted flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup Nutella

Cream butter, sugar and egg. Add flour then oats. Mix well. Spread in greased 9" x 9" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes. Spread Nutella on top. It spreads easier as it warms up a little on the warm bars. When cooled, cut into bars. I usually refrigerate them to get them to cool faster to cut into bars, but then I like to eat them at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Dessert

What would Thanksgiving be without some sort of pumpkin pie? Now what would you do if you didn't like pumpkin pie? Maybe its not so much the pumpkin but the pie part of pumpkin pie that you don't like. I of course am not talking about myself, but if I were to be honest I would have to say I prefer my pie to be apple. When it comes to pumpkin pie I think I would be completely satisfied if all of my pumpkin pies were actually this dessert! It has the right amount of pumpkin, and a delicious amount of cakey buttery goodness to make this dessert worthy of replacing all the pumpkin pies in the world (in my opinion). So if you know any picky pumpkin eaters this is definitely a recipe you will have to try!

Pumpkin Pie Dessert

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 1 hr


2 cups homemade cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup melted butter

24 oz pumpkin
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup Homemade cake mix *

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter chilled

Grease the bottom only of a 9X13 pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Spread mixture into the prepared pan.

In the same bowl combine filling ingredients. Mix until well incorporated. Pour filling mix over the crust mixture.

In a small bowl combine the 1 cup of homemade cake mix, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in chilled butter. Sprinkle topping over the pumpkin mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperate. The cake holds together a little bit better at room temperature or chilled. Serve with whipping cream on top and enjoy!

*I absolutely love the homemade cake mix in this recipe. The flavor is fantastic, but if you don't have some of the homemade stuff in your freezer like I do, and don't feel like making some you can substitute the homemade cake mix for a box cake mix. You might have to add more butter to the crust mixture, but know that it is an option.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Super Simple Pizza Dough

I will be completely honest with all of you. Most days I don't plan what we are going to eat at all. I am always thinking last minute hmmm what should we have for dinner? I know this isn't the best way to be, but for right now it is just how it always seems to end up. Well recipes like this one are a dream come true for me. Granted this dough might not be the absolute best pizza dough ever in life, but for how quick and easy (almost no rising time) it is you can't beat it! This dough is exactly what it sounds like, a very basic dough that is perfect for my last minute pizza cravings. And to be quite honest I really enjoyed the dough (I may or may not have wrapped the dough around some extra mozzarella to make it stuffed crust)

Super Simple Pizza Dough

Yield 1 14-inch thick crust pizza or 2 12-inch thin crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed *
1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, and salt. Stir very warm water and olive oil into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.
Lightly oil 1 (14-inch) or 2 (12-inch) round pizza pan(s). Sprinkle with cornmeal. Shape dough into smooth ball. Divide and roll dough to fit desired pan(s). Top pizza as desired. Let rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes prior to baking.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until done. Baking time depends on size and thickness of crust and selected toppings.

*For whole wheat pizza dough replace 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.

Recipe Source: Allrecipes

Friday, November 18, 2011

Homemade Baked Tater Tots

I have slightly been on a baking drought lately. You see we went to Disneyland last week. Disneyland is wonderful and magical, but for some reason they wouldn't let me down into their magical kitchens to let me create things of my own. Strange I know. The day we got back from Disney I came down with a nasty cold. It is very hard for me to cook when I can't smell, taste, or really stand for long periods of time. Today I'm finally feeling a little better and I can taste so what do I do? Of course make some new creations!

I decided I wanted to try and make these at about 4:30 this morning. I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep and the only things I could think of were the things I wanted to make. This one being in the forefront of my mind. I kept thinking of how I was going to make them, and what spices i wanted in it. I eventually did fall back to sleep, but as soon as I woke up I knew what I needed to do! This was a fun experiment that turned out quite yummy! The unhealthy side of me would still have to admit that I slightly prefer the deep fried kind, but the healthy side of me often tries to suppress the unhealthy side and occasionally wins! Luckily with these bad boys both sides were pleasantly satisfied with them.

Homemade Baked Tater Tots

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Makes about 30 mini tater tots

4 medium sized potatoes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg slightly beaten
1 tbs oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Wash and skin potatoes. Using a food processor with the shredding disk attached shred all four potatoes. You can shred them by hand if you don't have a food processor, but it is much faster with the food processor. With your hands scoop the shredded potatoes out of the food processing bowl and transfer to a medium sized bowl slightly squeezing with your hands to removed some of the excess juice from the potatoes. Add the salt, smoked paprika, pepper, egg, and oil to the shredded potatoes. Mix with a fork until well combined. Add flour and mix again with a fork.

Prepare a mini muffin pan by lightly spraying with cooking spray. You can also use a regular muffing pan if you don't have a mini one, your tots will just be bigger. Scoop about 1/2 tbs of potato mixture into each mini muffin tin. Pressing down slightly with the back of measuring spoon to make the potato mixture as flat as possible. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. I flipped all of mine half way through the baking time just to make sure they would be crispy on all sides. I wanted mine a little on the crispy side so when they were about done I turned on the broiler and let them crisp up for just a few minutes. If you do this watch them carefully as to not let them burn. Remove from oven and place tots in a bowl and sprinkle a little extra salt on them. Serve plain or with whatever sauce you would like.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Canned Apple Pie Filling

We just returned from a little get a way to Disneyland. Disneyland is wonderful, and this is my first time seeing it around Christmas time. We are still over a month away from Christmas, but they already have the place pretty decked out! I hear that on Christmas they actually make it snow there! Someday I'm going to have to see that. Of course being a lover of food I enjoyed all the things we ate there. They have some amazing corn dogs. I have a new found desire to figure out hot to make their corn dogs. They really were delicious (in the most unhealthy kind of way). Hopefully someday I can share the recipe with all of you!

Before we left for Disney land a friend and I got together and made canned apple pie filling. I absolutely love this stuff. We made the same stuff last year, and I used it all year round. I recently ran out and was so very sad. It is so nice to have it whenever I want to make an apple pie, or an apple crisp/cobbler. Really 99% of the time I make apple crisp. Oh how I love apple crisp! This recipe really isn't hard at all and you can have your own homemade pie filling to use whenever. I prefer to make a big batch, this way I have lots to last me a while.

Canned Apple Pie Filling
Yields: 7 quarts

4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
10 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 drops yellow food coloring
9 pounds apples

In a large pan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add salt and water and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and food coloring.

Sterilize canning jars, lids and rings by boiling them in a large pot of water. I cheated and just put them in the dishwasher. This worked well enough for me.

Peel, core, and slice apples. Pack the sliced apples into hot canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.
Fill jars with hot syrup, and gently remove air bubbles with a knife.

Put lids on and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Recipe Source: Allrecipes

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Butter Toffee Popcorn

I know I have several different popcorn recipes on this site. I kinda love sweet delicious popcorn! I also love the salty, buttery and even cheesy kind of popcorn (note to self - figure out how to make cheese popcorn). I mentioned when I posted my soft caramel popcorn recipe that I also had a crunchy popcorn recipe that I loved. I have a really hard time deciding which one I like better. My husband on the other hand chooses this one. I will admit that once I start eating this popcorn I can't stop! It is kinda like Cracker Jacks but better! The salty peanuts also give it a new depth of flavor that is fantastic. Don't worry I have made it without peanuts too and I love it just as much, so if your not a peanut fan feel free to leave them out. Either way you make it this popcorn is bound to disappear fast!

Butter Toffee Popcorn

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hr
Makes about 18 cups of toffee popcorn

3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, white or yellow
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 cups roasted, salted peanuts
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Pop the popcorn kernels, in shifts if needed to ensure your popcorn popper doesn’t burn the popcorn, and place the popcorn in a large bowl, sifting through to remove the unpopped kernels.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly. Add the peanuts and mix well but gently (so you don’t break apart the popcorn) until the popcorn is evenly coated and the peanuts are distributed through the mixture.

Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I’ve found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, November 7, 2011


A few years back before my husband and I were married we both went to different dessert places (in 2 different states) and happened to both try these things called pizzookies (pizza cookie). He came back home and was raving about this ingenious idea and I concurred completely. Of course anytime I try something that is absolutely fantastic I have to try and create it myself. For my birthday that year he bought me 4 individual sized skillets. We have had pizzookies several times since then and I absolutely love them. The "individual" sized skillets really are big enough that 2 or 3 people could share one (unless you really like sweets, which I do). They really are so simple to make, and always a crowd pleaser! I usually have some left over cookie dough in the freezer that I have already shaped into cookie sized balls and am able to though a couple of those in my skillets and bake them up. They make a fun quick dessert.


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Servings: Varies

1 batch of your favorite cookie dough (I used the Perfect chocolate chip cookie dough)
Your favorite ice cream (This Cinnamon ice cream goes surprisingly well)
Hot fudge

Lightly grease 4- 6 inch skillets is not already well oiled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press enough cookie dough into skillets to mostly cover the bottom.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Cookies should be slightly brown on the edges, but still look slightly gooey in the center. This is the way I like them, but you are welcome to bake them longer if you want them more done. Remove from oven and top with ice cream and hot fudge and caramel if desired. The idea of these are to be an ooey delicious mess. Be careful with the skillets as they will remain hot for a while. One skillet was more than plenty for 2 people to share. For smaller portions this could also be made using ramekins. Happy eating!

Note: I often keep cookie dough in my freezer and just pull a few cookie dough balls and make these whenever my heart so desires.

This is about how much cookie dough I used. I figure its about 3-4 cookies worth :)

This is how it looked fresh out of the oven. Pre ice cream!

The delicious finished project! The more the ice cream melts the more I love it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

White Chicken Chili

I don't know about you all, but around here it is starting to get cold and I'm not sure I'm ready for it. We have had a beautiful fall (kinda unusual), but it has been so great that I don't want to see it go. I actually had frost and ice on my car this morning as I left for work. I cried a little then refused to scrape it and resorted to using my windshield wiper fluid. It actually turned out to be a very beautiful day, I just wish it were warmer. Since Mother Nature doesn't seem to be listening to my requests for shorter winters (preferably the month of December only) and it continues to get cold around here I decided that I should give in and make this soup to console myself. Luckily this soup is fantastic and eased the pain of cold weather, at least until tomorrow.

I got this recipe from a gal I work with. She brought a big pot of this to a work pot luck years ago. I am not a huge chili fan and was slightly skeptical if I would like it. I almost didn't try it that is how skeptical I was. Everyone kept raving about it so I gave in and tried a little. Boy am I glad that I did! This really is the best chili I have ever had. It has a very subtle kick to it, but just enough to give it a delicious flavor. The best part is that it comes together pretty quickly.  I usually make a big batch of chicken in a crock pot, shred it, and keep it in the freezer with 2 lbs in each bag. Then when I'm ready to make anything that calls for chicken I can just pull one out and use it.

White Chicken Chili
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10

2 lbs shredded chicken
3 cups chicken broth
5-6 (15 oz) cans white beans drained.
1 (6 oz) can fire roasted whole chiles sliced
1 (16 oz) jar chili Verde salsa
1 tbs minced garlic
1/3 cup white cooking wine
1 pint sour cream

Combine all ingredients except the sour cream in a large pot. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes to make sure everything is heated through and all the flavors are combined. Just prior to serving mix in sour cream.

Thanks Hailey for the amazing recipe!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies

I love cookies! I love these cookies! I love cookie dough! I pretty much love anything that involves cookies! Obviously since it was Halloween yesterday I had to make cookies. I mean what else do you do on Halloween? There is not nearly enough candy and sugar floating around that I just had to make cookies as well. And not just any cookies. I had to make these cookies. Sugar cookies are wonderful. A good sugar cookies is fantastic. A sugar cookie that involves browned butter and brown sugar...WOW. You all know by now the soft spot I have in my heart for browned butter right? Yep I love it. These cookies did not change my love for browned butter at all.  If anything it might have increased my love for it. It really just adds so much richness and caramel like flavor to every recipe.

 Brown Sugar Cookies

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)


  1. In 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat 10 tablespoons butter until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to the heat-proof bowl of a stand mixer. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter to melt; set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  2. While butter is cooling, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.
  4. Add 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; attach paddle and mix on medium-low speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg, yolk, almond extract and vanilla and mix on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Roll into a 1 round balls. Place on a silpat lined cookie sheet. Flatten cookie slightly with palm of hand or bottom of a drinking glass.
  6. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone); 12 to 14 minutes.
  7. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
  8. If desired frost cooled cookies. I used this frosting and loved it!
Yields: 24 cookies

Recipe Source: Adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat! I really had never heard of a povitica. Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa) is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is traditionally served during the holiday season. It is also known as Nutroll, Potica, Kalachi, Strudia, just to name a few. Family recipes, and the secrets on how to roll the bread so thin, was passed down through generations of families. I was really excited to try this recipe. The bread looks so pretty. I also loved how she uses a sheet (or tablecloth) to roll out the dough. I have never thought of this and it worked like a charm! One of the hard things about being a food blogger is trying to restrain myself from eating all of this bread before I took a picture of it. Luckily there was more than one loaf! A traditional Povitca is made with walnuts. I unfortunately am not a fan of walnuts, so I used almonds instead. Feel free to use whatever nut you wish!


Preparation time:
To make Dough: 40 minutes
Rising: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Rolling and Assembly: 20 minutes per loaf, a generous total of 1 hour
Baking: 1 hour
Cooling: 30 minutes
To Make the Filling: 15 minutes, including the grinding of the nuts

Dough Ingredients (Makes two loaves each 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 ½ gm) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
¼ Cup (60 ml) Warm Water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/¼ oz/1 sachet) Dry Yeast

1 Cup (240 ml) Whole Milk
6 Tablespoons (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) Sugar
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/9 gm/1/3 oz) Table Salt
2 Large Eggs
¼ Cup (60 ml/60 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
4 cups (960 ml/560 gm/19¾ oz/1¼ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

1 Tablespoon (15 ml/14 gm/½ oz) Granulated Sugar (Optional)
Melted Butter

Filling Ingredients (enough filling for the two loaves(
3½ Cups (840 ml/560 gm/1¼ lb/20 oz) Ground almonds (I just stuck my in a food processor)
½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/1 stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Whole Egg, Beaten
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup (240 ml/225 gm/8 oz) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) Cinnamon

To Activate Yeast:
1. In a small bowl, stir 1 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and  cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below  boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a  film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot  enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, 6 tbs (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until
smooth and does not stick.
8. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
9. Place dough in 2 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

To Make the Filling
10. In a large bowl mix together the ground almonds, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
18. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it
out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
23. Spoon filling (see above for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
26. Repeat with remaining loaf, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
27. Brush the top of each loaf with melted butter and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Check the bread every 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
33. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.
34. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.