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 :).