Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sharyn's Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ 12.21.10

My friend Sharyn makes these delectable chocolate chip cookies and thankfully, she shared her secrets with me. And trust me, there are secrets to these turning out just right. You'll need to follow the directions for baking to a "T"! If you like your chocolate chippers soft, chewy and melt-in-your-mouth buttery, these cookies are right up your alley.

Sharyn's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I do a 1/2)
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Cream butters and sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla, mix.
Add flour, b. soda, and salt, mix.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Bake on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet for 7-9 minutes
Take the cookies out BEFORE they turn brown, they should be puffy, not greasy.
Remove cookie tray from the oven and allow the cookies to "bake" about 2 more minutes ON the baking sheet.
Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool about 5 minutes (I depart here and cool them on brown paper bags to soak up a little grease). Place in a container (while they're still warm) and put the lid on immediately!

Makes about 3 dozen.

So there you have the secret to soft, chewy and delectable chocolate chippers. I like mine cold, room temp, frozen, straight from the oven.... I just love chocolate chip cookies! I think Santa will be quite pleased with these on Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cheesy Noodle Casserole (aka Mac n Cheese) ~ 12.17.10

My family loves macaroni and cheese. The twins ask for it about 5 out of the 7 days in a week. And whenever we're out... they want to order it!
I'm all for quick and simple this time of year. I've barely enough time to rub two cents together let alone make dinner, but make dinner, I must! And I will.

I've had this Taste of Home recipe for sometime now and first made it way back when for a birthday party. It was easy to make and really quite cheesy and yummy. That said, it has one of my least favorite food stuffs in it: processed cheese. sigh. But it does taste really good in this and occasionally, I'll heat it up and add some salsa and make Mr. Crafty our favorite treat: queso with chips.

This recipe is flexible in the noodles you use, too. The original called for wide egg noodles, but I made it on Sunday and used elbows. Remember, use what you have! You don't always have to go and buy a new ingredient if you have something similiar in your pantry already.
Also, this makes enough for a BIG crowd, so adjust by halving the recipe and you'll have plenty. I used 8oz of elbows when I made it and wished I had used the whole box! My adaptations are in parenthesis.

Cheesy Noodle Casserole
adapted from Taste of Home Oct/Nov. 2003

2 1# pkgs wide egg noodles (elbows or shells are great!)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp garlic salt
1tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
5-6 cup milk (I used a can of evaporation milk and the rest 2% milk)
2 # processed cheese, cubed (like Velveeta or store brand easy melt cheese in the block)

Topping: 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs + 2 Tbs melted butter- mix together and sprinkle on top
or halve grape tomatoes and arrange around the casserole- my personal fave!

Cook noodles to package directions, drain.
In dutch oven (read: large pot with handles or whatever), melt butter.
Stir (whisk is better- it forms a bit of a paste or roux) in flour and salts and dry mustard
Gradually whisk in the milk until all incorporated.
Bring to a boil.
Cook & stir 2 min or until thick and bubbly.
Add cheese and stir until melted.
Stir in noodles and pour into 2 greased shallow 2 qt baking dishes
Add your topping of choice: bread crumbs mixed with butter or sliced tomatoes!
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbling around the edges.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Birthday Cake for Jesus~ 12.12.10

When Max was in preschool, his teacher sent him home with directions for making a birthday cake for Jesus. It had been a longstanding tradition in her family and thankfully, she decided to share that with her students and their families! I loved the idea and quickly adopted it as well.

When I made it for our family, we made chocolate cupcakes using my favorite recipe: a doctored up box of cake mix!*** (see recipe below)

And then we simply followed the rules for decorating by placing the cupcakes on a large round platter.

1. Make it round: like the never ending circle, so is His love for all of us.
2. Make it chocolate- like the darkness our sins bring to us and others
3. Make it covered in white frosting- like his purity covering our weakness
4. Top it with a yellow star and put an angel---bearer of the first glad tidings. (we used the angel from our Fisher Price Nativity and a cut out star)
5. Put 12 red candles on top-- like the 12 months of the year that Christ is our light, add red for the blood He willingly shed for us.
6. Encircle this loving cake with evergreens-- the symbol of everlasting life.

Before enjoying your cake, you could sing Happy Birthday to Jesus or pray together as a family thanking God for the generous gift of His Son, Jesus and many gifts that He lavishes upon us.

****Super Moist Fudge Bundt Cake.
from Erin W. and Melanie C. & My Kitchen Cafe blog

1 devils food cake mix
1 4-serving instant chocolate pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (not low-fat or fat-free)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl.
Blend with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Stir down sides.
Continue to mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared (i.e. greased and floured) bundt pan. (or cupcake liners or 2 9 in cake pans...)

Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool 20 minutes.

Invert onto serving platter.

**if you're making this in 2 9-inch cake pans, you'll only bake it for somewhere between 22-28 minutes.keep checking with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean and be careful not to stick it into a gooey chocolate chip! Also, if you make this into cupcakes, you'll need to check them sooner, say 17-18 minutes in... check with a toothpick and make sure you're not hitting a chocolate chip! ;)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Merry Berry Salad ~ 12.1.10

This was such a happy little find on my one of my daily haunts: Write.Click.Scrapbook

Emily Pitts posted this in January and I made it once or twice and the kids LOVED it! I'm looking forward to making it this holiday season as it is so very pretty but tastes even BETTER!

Merry Berry Salad

Lettuce- depending on how many you are serving this can change- I like red and green leaf
1 medium red apple, sliced thin
1 medium green apple, sliced thin
1 cup-ish shredded parmesan cheese (I think feta tastes equally as delicious in this)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (or not)

Combine in a large serving bowl.

1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice concentrate (improvise- with apple juice)
1 tsp salt - I use kosher and 1/2 tsp, then taste
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4- 1/2 a small onion grated over the bowl (to catch the juice)
1 cup vegetable oil

Combine all (except the OIL) dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. With blender running, slowly stream in the veg oil through the top until emulsified.

Drizzle over the salad right before serving. Refrigerate leftover dressing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup with Marsala & Thyme ~ 11.30.10

There's just nothing like a hot bowl of soup and a sandwich. My favorite weekend meal and my favorite any day of the week meal. Yes, I do believe I could eat soup and a sandwich or salad everyday. There are endless possibilities.

The following recipe was clipped from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette sometime in the past few years, maybe more (note to self: start writing the date of the paper on the recipe!). I love butternut squash. So healthy and hearty and filling! And I can not resist that bright orange color when you cut into it- GORGEOUS!

This soup came together quickly with one of my pantry staples: bacon grease from the fridge! No need to defrost a whole pound of bacon or even run to the store. The grease is what was needed to build the flavors in this soup and get the onions tender. If you're vegetarian, you could by all means swap out your favorite sauteeing oil. I do think the fresh thyme was a bonus. I have had my thyme plant sitting outside for a few years now and it never lets me down. One of my all time favorite herbs and it's so hardy through the winter!

Enjoy this lovely soup.

Butternut Squash Soup with Marsala and Thyme

1 butternut squash, about 3 lbs (3 3/4 cup cooked), halved lengthwise, fibers and seeds removed
6 slices of bacon (alternatively, I used bacon grease that I just keep in a container in my fridge!)
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2Tbs chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
5 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used a quart container I had in the freezer of homemade)
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
3 Tbs dry marsala or dry sherry (I used 1 Tbs sherry)
pinch of cayenne (forgot that part)
S & P
Fresh thyme leaves for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place squash cut sides down in a large baking dish. Add water to pan to a 1/4 inch depth and bake until tender. About 50 minutes
Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Scrape out the flesh.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook bacon until the fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and thyme, saute until tender and remove from heat.

(here is where I deviated from original instructions. I have an immersion blender- best purchase I made this fall- and I just threw all the ingredients into the pot after I sauteed the onion and thyme and then gave it a nice whirr)

Transfer onion mixture to a food processor or blender- In 2 or more batches, add the squash and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan and over medium low heat- mix in the broth. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream or half and half and the marsala or sherry. Add the cayenne and S&P. IF the soup is too thick, thin with additional stock to desired consistenc.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh thyme leaves.

Serve hot. 8-10. (I got 2 full quart containers from my ONE butternut squash. It was a medium sized squash, too!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin & Pecan Pie ~ 11. 29.10

(all the pies lined up and waiting for little fingers to poke them)

When my Aunt Lynn passed away a few years ago, I was dubbed the "Pie maker" at our Thanksgiving celebrations. A role I take quite seriously. I only make one version of pumpkin pie- Libby's recipe off the can! Are you surprised? Hope not,it is as easy as, well, pie to make! After the crust, it literally takes just minutes to throw a pumpkin pie together and the aroma that fills your house is well worth that time!

The last time I made pie crust, the recipe made 2 rounds, so I took one and formed it into my pie pan and threw it in a zippy bag and popped it in the freezer. That made my Thanksgiving morning pie prep super easy this year! It was an ALL butter crust! WHOA baby. I needed to try something a little different for my pecan pie.

I had clipped a pie crust recipe from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a few months back and decided to give it a go. It was an all shortening pie crust and was so supposed to be very easy to make and didn't need to chill before being rolled out into crust. I was game for a simple recipe like that. I used the pie crust recipe for my pecan pie.

Speaking of pecan pie, how about another simple pie to make? I mean these two are really quite easy. Good pecans can be quite expensive but we are talking about the holidays and it's hard to have Thanksgiving or Christmas without pumpkin and pecan pie! Holidays are meant to be special and a bit indulgent anyway.

Enjoy our pie traditions!

(I love how pumpkin pie cracks in the middle after you knife test it- makes it feel all homemade)

Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 large eggs
15 oz 100% pure pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
1 unbaked deep dish pie crust

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Beat eggs in a large bowl.
Stir pumpkin and sugar and spice mixture.
Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie shell- always place your pie tin on a baking sheet just in case of overflow!

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Reduce temp to 350 degrees and bake 40-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Cool 2 hours. serve immediately or refrigerate.

(My aunt advised not to freeze this pie as the crust and filling will separate.)

Miriam Parker's Pie Crust
clipped from the Pgh Post Gazette
makes a double crust pie 9-inch

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
7 Tbs cold water (I add ice)

I combined the first 3 ingredients right in my food processor. Pulsed to combine- until shortening was incorporated into crumbles. Then through the shoot, I added the water, one at a time until the dough came together nicely. Alternately, you can combine the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl using 2 knives to cut the shortening into the flour. Sprinkle 2 Tbs of water and toss with a fork until you've incorporated all 7 Tbs. Form into a ball.

Divide the dough in half- put some flour on your work surface and rolling pin- and roll out the dough from the center to the edge to create the crust. Repeat for the top crust.

No need to refrigerate this dough as it's so easy to roll out and very flaky once baked!**see note

Now that you have your pie dough all ready to go, make this delicious pecan pie!

(was trying to get a little artsy with my acorns made out of extra pie dough)

Aunt Lynnie's Pecan Pie

2/3 cup karo syrup
1 cup dark brown sugar (I use light cause that's what I always have on hand)
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the above ingredients well, then add:

3 whole eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup peans- heaping cup - mix with above and pour into your pie crust

If you think it needs a few more pecans, go ahead and add them- I often do. You can leave them whole or chop them roughly. Your call!

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-55 minutes. It should be 200 degrees in the center of the pie. You'll know when it's done just by looking at it, right? I never take it's temperature, but it was part of the family recipe so I wrote it down!

**While Miriam's dough was tremendously easy, I was not loving how it didn't brown at all. I'm going to have to listen to my mum and just make her pie dough recipe. Why it's taken me sooooo long to listen, I don't know!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Frozen Pumpkin Dessert (with Gingersnap Crust)~ 11.20.10

I have a tendency to buy cookbooks and then only make a few of the recipes contained within them. Anyone else do that? I bought a copy of Don't Panic- Dinner's in the Freezer a few years back and I have about a dozen or so of the pages dog-eared but I think I've only made one or two recipes! But in my defense, they were worth buying the book for because this dessert is a real winner and it makes a LOT! She tells you to make it in a 9x13 pan, but I chose to make mine into pies. She also uses a graham cracker crust in the original recipe, but I had gingersnaps and the swap out was AMAZING that I couldn't go back to graham crackers. ALL that said, I'm writing this as the original recipe states so that you can see that it's okay to use what you've got and to be creative with your ingredients!

Frozen Pumpkin Dessert
Don't Panic: Dinner's in the Freezer
Makes 24 servings

2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 t salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (I go easy on the nutmeg)
1 cup chopped pecans (I've skipped in the past)
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened

Graham Cracker Crust** (see note at bottom)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used Gingersnap cookies)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Prepare graham cracker crust by mixing crust ingredients and patting into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. (chilling would not be a bad idea)

In large bowl, combine pumpkin, sguar, salt, spices, and nuts. Fold in ice cream. Pour pumpkin mixture into pan. Seal top of pan with plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze until firm.

Gingersnap crust-
I discovered a recipe in my Aunt's filebox for a PUmpkin Ice Cream Pie with Gingersnap Crust. Seems as though great minds think alike! Here is her recipe for making the gingersnap crust, you'll want to adjust the sugar and increase amounts to make it for a 9x13 pan. Her recipe made a crust for a 10 inch pie pan.
1 1/2 cups gingersnaps, crushed
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup butter melted

Mix together. Press into pie pan and bake at 300 degreese 12-15 minutes. Cool, then chill.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Must try these soon! ~ 11.19.10

So I'm trying to go to bed but my tummy is being tempted by all the wonderful little goodies out there in the bloggity world! Too many yummy foods being made and so as to not annoy Mr. Crafty in the morning when he comes down to finalize his line-up for the day... I need to close out some windows. I thought I'd put all the foods I'm thinking of right here for YOU to salivate over all day.

I saved this recipe in my files last year and never got around to making it, but I think I really must make it for the teachers at school. I try and remember them often and thank them with little treats: Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn

She had me at pumpkin- I think I'm adventurous enough to try this ingredient in just about anything, okay, maybe not, but Pumpkin Chili sounds delightful! I always use ground turkey anymore, but I have all of the ingredients on her list and they're just waiting to be put together in my slow cooker for a quick meal THIS week!

This is so fun and after the huge success of the mini-candy coated apples, I think this will knock the kid's socks right off! Apple "nachos" are simple enough for a fun after school celebratory snack!

I have a go-to Sloppy Joe recipe, but I'm reconsidering it (it's a bit on the sweet side and a bit time consuming) and think I'll give this one a whirl. Love the addition of cinnamon in it! Plus this blog looks so fun, I must browse around it sometime!

And none of the above would have happened if I hadn't been hunting down this recipe for Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad (actually, I just want the dressing recipe).

Now, off to bed with dreams of all things foodie!

BONUS: I just saw this one on my sidebar and after my encounter with the amazing Rice Pudding at the Greek Festival this summer, I think I really would like to try making Portuguese Rice Pudding. mmmm... I can almost taste it! Would have NEVER thought I'd like rice pudding until it was introduced to me with the flavor of cinnamon. HOOKED!

And I made a recipe of Pumpkin Nutella bread this weekend- it was yummy! Be on the lookout for that recipe soon!

Southwest Stuffed Peppers ~ 11.19.10

This recipe hails from my cousin, Karen, who is a foodie like myself. In fact, she, too, has a wonderful food blog that I think you should check out: Farmhouse Foodie.

She made these stuffed peppers one summer and I was an instant fan. I make my own version of an enchilada sauce that I found via Creatively Domestic and combined it with my cousin's recipe. I really recommend you just make it yourself, it's so simple to throw together and it's definitely more economical.  I swap out a few extra ingredients and use one jar of Tastefully Simple's Corn, Black Bean Salsa. You can adjust the heat on these according to your family. I've been making it with a bit more kick each time I throw it together!

Southwest Stuffed Peppers
from my cousin, Karen DiPasquale

6 large red peppers (I just buy the red/orange/yellow asst. at Sam's club)- you can cut these the way you like, I prefer cut crosswise and cored. I have steamed them to remove some liquid but it's not a necessary step
1 pkg sweet turkey sausage: browned and crumbled- you buy the links and squeeze out the sausage from the casing- flatten it and saute until browned and cooked through
8 oz pkg corn bread stuffing
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese (or Pepper Jack for more heat)
1/2 can chicken broth (the last time I made this I added beef broth by accident- it was FINE!)
1 jar Tastefully Simple Corn, Black Bean Salsa (or any store brand you like OR 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes; 1/2 can black beans;1 cup frozen corn)

Combine all in a large bowl. Scoop into peppers. Pour a little sauce on the bottom of 9x13 pan and then add filled peppers. Pour sauce over the top of peppers and bake covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, Uncover and bake 30 minutes more. Can add additional sprinkling of cheese at the end.

Enchilada Sauce:
1 Tbs veg oil
1 onion, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 of a chili (from chiles in adobo sauce can)
2 tsp cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp sugar
1 large can tomato sauce (you can add an additional small can and it will give you extra sauce to freeze or to have to reheat these)
1/2 cup water

Cook onion and garlic in veg oil. Add spices and stir and coat the onion- about 30 sec. Stir in tomato sauce and water. Simmer until warmed through and slightly thickened- about 5 minutes. Season with S &P.

These are great served with Lime Cilantro Rice and an ice cold beer!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homemade Creamy Hummus ~ 11.17.10

Making your own hummus is such a good trick to have in your back pocket. You only need to have a few pantry staples on hand to throw this together in minutes!
I found this recipe in an issue of Cook's Illustrated and took their recommendation on what brand of tahini to buy as well.
Most hummus recipes that I love have tahini as the star ingredient (next to the chickpeas, that is). Tahini looks like peanut butter but is ground sesame seed paste. CI recommended Joyva or Krinos brand tahinis. I found the Krinos at Market District Giant Eagle for about 6.99 a bottle. I'll probably get at least 4 hummus recipes out of that one bottle, so it's well worth buying your own and making it in the food processor.
They also gave recommendations on which brand of chick peas/garbanzo beans to buy. Pastene came highly recommended and in second place, Goya.

Restaurant Style Hummus
This recipe would be great with homemade Pita Chips!

3 Tbs juice from 1-2 lemons
1/4 cup water
6 tbs tahini, stirred well (that equals 1/2 cup, why they don't say that, I'm not sure)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 (14oz) can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and picked through- I took out the "skins"
1 small garlic clove, minced (about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne
1 Tbs minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
paprika (optional)

1. Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl. Whisk together the tahini and 2 Tbs oil in second bowl. Set aside 2 Tbs. chickpeas for garnish.
2. Process remaning chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until amost fully ground. Scrape down bowl with spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice/water mixture through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds.
3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle with chickpeas and cilantro, cover with plastic wrap and let flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. drizzle with olive oil and serve.

- if you're holding this over for awhile, reserve garnishes until ready to serve. I was transporting my hummus the day I took the pic and didn't want EVOO all over the place, so I just garnished with a little paprika and the chickpeas.
-keeps up to 5 days in fridge. If too thick, add a Tbs of warm water and mix well before serving.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Creamy mushroom toasts ~ 11.10.10

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

oh good grief, can you tell I'm a mom of 4 boys?

Let me start over...

A long ways back, I happened upon this simple little recipe. It is just the perfect little treat for a late dinner or when you need a comforting happy belly sort of lunch.

It's quick to throw together and forgiving in that as long as you use the main ingredients of mushrooms, cream and toast... you're golden.

I'm eating it right now and had to pour myself a glass of wine (b/c I'm cooking something with it and well, Julia Child would do that, right?) to go along with it. It's a classy yet simple kind of meal.

Buon Appetit!

Creamy Mushroom Toasts
adapted from Angry Chicken
Like I said up above, this is forgiving, so if you don't have shallots, don't fret, I've made it without them. And if you don't have fresh herbs, use a little dried. Just stick to the main stuff: mushrooms, butter, cream, good crusty bread. You'll thank me.

8oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp or so of butter
fresh herbs chopped: I like thyme and parsley
half a shallot, minced fine
S & P
heavy cream- couple Tbsp's
crusty bread
optional: Adobo seasoning (I just have to put it on everything!)

Heat a saute pan and get your butter in there and melted. (if you're using shallots, add them at this point and saute until translucent- I didn't have them today) Add the sliced mushrooms and don't crowd the pan or mess with them too much. You want them to get good and toasty on one side before you push them around. After about 5 minutes or so, stir the mushrooms around and season with S & P and some Adobo seasoning, if you'd like. S&P is just fine, too. Now, add some chopped herbs and a couple Tbs of cream. I do not measure this, just eyeball it a bit and add some till my mushrooms are swimming in a pool of cream and happy as can be. Happy mushrooms = Happy Crafty. Cream = Very happy Crafty!

Taste and adjust seasoning.
Slice your bread and toast to perfection.
Serve your creamy mushrooms alongside the toast and pour yourself a glass of wine. Enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins ~ 11.5.10

I know I have mentioned before my love for the book, Cupcakes from the Doctor, but in case you missed out on that... hear me now... I LOVE THIS COOKBOOK. Go treat yourself and pick it up, will you? Because several of my favorite recipes are tucked inside it. I go to it all the time and I went to it yesterday to make a simple  ridiculously simple pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe.

The secret ingredient is Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix. I happened upon a box of Martha White 17.9 (or so) oz.  They were incredible! I have used other mixes before, but I'll be on the lookout for the blue box of Martha White Muffin mixes in the future!

This is so quick you'll have hot and delicious muffins ready to warm the bellies of all those you love in no time flat!

Pumpkin Muffins with chocolate chips

1 pkg chocolate chip muffin mix
1 cup canned PUMPKIN
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (if you don't have that- mix 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp allspice or cloves and 1/8 tsp nutmeg and then use HALF  of that in these muffins)
optional: extra chocolate chips

Prehat your oven to 400. Line your muffin tins with papers or spray them with veg oil spray.

Place the muffin mix in a large bowl and take a whisk to it a couple of turns. Sometimes there are large clumps in boxed mixes and I find this step helps with incorporating all the ingredients later.

Make a well in the dry mix and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until combined- about 20 strokes. Don't go all crazy on your batter, you want it just mixed and you don't want to beat the heck out of it!

Using a measuring cup or a handy dandy ice cream scoop (my favorite tool!), fill your muffin cups three quarters of the way full. Add a few more chocolate chips on top of each- everyone loves a little extra chocolate on top, right?

Pop them in the oven and bake about 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If it has chocolate on it, get another and test another spot!

Cool on wire racks and then eat them up or place in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge or pop your frozen muffin in the toaster oven to thaw!

MUFFIN TIP--- the last time I made these I got 14 muffins instead of 12. Do you know the trick to baking those 2 little extra muffins in that BIG 'OL 12 cup muffin tin? Just add your extra liners to the pan and then scoop in your batter. Then carefully add a little water to the remaining EMPTY muffin cups. This will prevent burning and allow for even cooking of the muffins throughout!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sweet little Candy Coated Apples ~ 10.23.10

A few weeks back our MOPS group made these cutest ever bite size candy coated apples- one for each member of our family!

We melon balled our granny smith apples and then stuck a pick in them (you could also use a lollipop stick).
We had our peanut butter chips and butterscotch chips already melted and ready to go. Swirled our little apples on a stick around in the melted chips and then dipped them in the toppings of our choice! I thought it was a wee bit easier to shake the toppings over the dipped apples- less of the coating came off in the toppings that way. Place them in a mini-foil cup to dry and there you have the cutest little fall treat you ever laid eyes upon!

For more detailed instructions, check out this article at Family Fun

**Few notes. I just scooped ten little apples out of ONE granny smith. So, I think you could get 8-10 bite size apples per apple. Also, I dipped mine in some of that Marzetti's caramel dip b/c a) I was in a hurry and b) I wanted to see how it would hold up. Enjoy!

UPDATE: the caramel in the little tub will not set up, so be forewarned. It also tastes kinda funny. Live and learn.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Fun Food ~ 10.22.10

Here are a few recipes that are simple enough for the kids to make/help you out with next week!

Crescent Roll Mummies

package of crescent rolls - you'll make 8, so use more if you have more to feed
package of hot dogs
mustard and ketchup

Unroll crescent rolls and separate to form 4 rectangles- pinch together the perforations (You could also buy the new recipe creations crescent dough and work from there).
Using your kitchen shears, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 strips
Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog (you may use less)- you'll stretch the dough as you work around the hot dog. You could tuck a piece of cheese behind the hot dog before you wrap it up- but I opted out of that.
Separate the dough just a bit so that you can "make a face" after it's cooked.
Bake at 375 on an ungreased cookie sheet for 13-16 minutes- until golden brown. Make a face on your mummy dog with the mustard!

Mummy Pizzas

english muffins
pizza sauce
string cheese or shredded mozzarella
toppings- olives for eyeballs!

toast your english muffins under the broiler for a few minutes
top with some sauce and lay the cheese in a "mummy-esque" fashion across the muffin
place 2 olives on for eyes.
Remind the kids they can take the olives off and feed them to Daddy if they don't like them
Bake in the oven about 10 minutes or until warmed through.
Serve with "green fries" (aka green beans) and ketchup

Halloween marshmallows floating in a cup of hot cocoa! Mmmmm.... They were bats and ghosts but they melted a wee bit before I could take their photo!

Still to come... those bite size caramel apples... so adorable you'll cry!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Savory Sweet Potato Soup + Smoked Apple Panini~ 10.21.10

Oh how I love this season and all the comforting soups that accompany it.

One of my favorites that I discovered last year is the Farm Chick's Savory Sweet Potato Soup. It is so incredibly easy to make and I've been eating it up ALL week.

What goes better with soup than a hot, pressed sandwich (aka PANINI)? We have a wonderful little deli near our home and they serve up a hot sandwich every day of the week. A few of my favorites are the Cuban and the Monte Cristo. A little variation on your traditional grilled cheese... these sandwiches have FLAIR and really FUN FLAVORS!
Today's advertised sandwich was the Smoked Apple Panini and they were starting to serve it at 11. Well, I was there at 10:15 and I wanted that sandwich. SO, I saved myself a couple bucks and bought up some deli meat and a loaf of bread and made it AT HOME. The flavors were so beautiful together. Black Forest Ham, Smoked Gouda and... APPLE BUTTER! Who knew putting apple butter on your sandwich could elevate that simple pairing of meat, cheese and bread to the level of PURE BLISS? Well, I am a fan and hope to eat that one again... and again... and again. AND did you know that you do not need a fancy schmancy panini press to make these? I don't have one. I used my tea kettle and a piece of foil to press my sandwich! Improvise!!

Here are the recipes!

Savory Sweet Potato Soup
makes 2 quarts

The original has a few extra steps and uses heavy cream, but I have adapted it a bit and find that it is just as creamy and delicious my way.

1/2 stick butter
2-3 onions, chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed (small enough to fit on your spoon)
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in large pot and add onions. Sauted until softened & translucent- about 5 minutes.
2. Add the broth and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes.
3. Add the russett potatoes. Cook for another 10 minutes- you want them tender. (sometimes I scoop out the sweets and add them back in after the russetts have cooked. Not quite sure why you don't add them ALL at the same time...)
4. At this point, I add the seasonings- cumin, parsely and S&P. Then I scoop out some of the potatoes and puree the rest. I don't like it ALL pureed. I like some potatoes in my soup. You could just leave it as is- no pureeing OR do as I do and puree some and leave some potatoes whole OR puree the whole pot of soup. Make it yours.
5. Cook over low heat until warmed through. Serve.

Here's a link to the original with a few extra recipes included.

Smoked Apple Panini
(instructions for one panini)

Couple slices Black Forest Ham
Slice or two of Smoked Gouda cheese
2 slices bread of your choice
Apple (or in my case, Pear) Butter

Slather the outside of both slices of bread with butter and preheat your griddle.
Place one piece of bread, butter side down on griddle.
Lay your slice of gouda on that piece - I halve my cheese to make it fit the bread I had.
Lay your ham on top of the cheese.
Spread the inside of your other piece of bread with the apple/pear butter. Lay that on top of the ham, with the apple butter side touching the HAM.

Place a piece of foil over your sandwich and top it with something heavy.... like a filled tea kettle!
Cook for a few minutes and check to see how toasty the first side of bread is getting. If ready to flip... then flip and repeat.

Serve hot with a nice bowl of soup!

ps. Come back soon, b/c I have the CUTEST mini caramel apples to show you! You're gonna cry when you see how cute they are!!!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homemade Granola ~ 9.30.10

Auntie Leila's Granola

Don’t be afraid to regard these amounts as approximate.

8 cups oats (fill extra large bowl 2/3 full of oats)
1 small package of sweetened flaked coconut, about 2 cups
2-4 cups chopped nuts – I like the larger amount
Mix together in bowl.

Mix together in saucepan, bring to boil, simmer for 5 minutes:
1 ½ cups brown sugar (this does seem like a lot, but this recipe makes many servings. You can start with a smaller amount at first if you like. You can also substitute honey, molasses, or maple syrup)
1 cup water
¾ cup oil
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp. salt – don’t omit! Salt is important to wake up the taste buds.
1 tsp. almond extract if using almonds

The object is to dissolve the sugar and slightly thicken the syrup.
Pour sugar mixture over ingredients in bowl, mixing well until all oats are coated.

Pour into shallow pan (a lasagna pan works well) and bake at 325* stirring every 10 minutes, until the mixture is evenly browned, about 30-35 minutes.

Remove from the oven.

Add in any combination to total 2 cups:
dried cranberries
chopped dates
Chopped apricots

Stir, cool completely, store in airtight containers (can be frozen).

Check out more of Leila's wonderful recipes for breakfast here
And yes, I've mentioned them before here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Basil Tomato Soup & Killer Bread ~ 9.27.10

Once September hits, I go into super powered soup making mode. I could eat it every day. Seriously love me some soup! And one of my big faves is Tomato. I was all set to post this recipe when I realized I already did. DARN! So excited to post a recipe and here I've already gone and posted the same one 9 months ago!

I did not post this bread recipe though. It's so delish with a bowl of soup, especially this soup (see that's the same soup in the photo above- filled with veggie goodness!). I'm including two variations to the orginal recipe because I don't always have fresh basil, especially in the winter and I love the green onions in this AND I think artichokes on it would be a wonderful decision!

Killer Bread (or Wicked Awesome Bread or Super Duper Delish Bread... get the picture?)
(can be doubled) Serves 6

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
clove garlic- minced fine
basil- couple leaves finely chopped or 2 tsp dried, crumbled
bread- sourdough, baguette- I had some hoagie-style rolls lying around and used those
optional: green onions, sliced fine or chopped artichokes

Preheat the broiler.
Mix mayo, parmesan and garlic in a bowl. (add green onions if you're going that option or artichokes or both!)
Slice bread horizontally (like you're making a sandwich) and butter it.
Broil until lightly toasted.
Spread parmesan mixture over cut sides of bread.
Broil until top is puffed and golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped basil.
Cut into wedges and serve with a delcious bowl of soup (or steak!).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to school BIG cookie ~ 9.4.10

I happened upon this recipe the other day and I've always wanted to make a really BIG cookie. They're so pricy at the store and I don't like all the icing (I know I iced mine) or what they usually say. SO, I made one from scratch. Actually, I made three.... one for Gl's first day. One for M's first day and one for my friend who just had a baby a few days before her kids went back to school. I made it for her dessert when I brought dinner over to her. The first one I made on a foil lined pizza pan and the other two I made on my pizza stone. All three turned out perfectly. BUT I  will say this recipe makes more dough than necessary. I froze the extra in case I needed some cookies or wanted to make a smaller BIG cookie one day.

The icing... I had in the freezer leftover from the cakes I made this past year. It was the perfect amounts needed to pipe my little messages and a little border around the outside, too. So glad I don't throw stuff away... just popped them into baggies and defrosted them while the cookie cake baked. Snipped off a corner and voila! Instant piping bag!

Back to School Cookie Cake
(from here, with a different name)

Cream these in your mixer:
2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar

Add to creamed butter mixture:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp water- just doing what I'm told...

Mix well, then add:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal- I used quick cooking
4 handfuls of chocolate chips- I'm really precise about this... kidding

Dump your mixture onto a pizza stone OR prepared pizza pan (I lined mine with foil and sprayed it well with cooking spray).
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes then check every 2-3 minutes until golden brown. (Mine took about 18 minutes)

Let cool then decorate!

The kids were really excited to have a cookie cake on their first day of school and this recipe was indeed stellar!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My idea of Summer Dinner ~ 7.27.10

Ah Summer is nearly over already and I've been thoroughly enjoying my "summer break" in the kitchen.

I try to cook less and eat whatever I can find in and around the house. HA!

This is one of our favorite "oops-it's-already-5:30-and-we-need-to-eat-dinner" dinners. I call Snackie Dinner.

The general rule of thumb is that you pull out some veggies, fruits, cheese and all the dippers you've got stowed away in your pantry... and some DIPS: hummus, eggplant dip, salsa, brushetta... Set it all out on fun plates on the deck, pour yourself a glass of wine and fill the sippies with juice and get snacking! We usually pop in a movie and have popcorn for dessert on these Snackie Dinner nights.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kid recipe: Cookies and {chocolate} Milk ~ 6.10.10

I nabbed this recipe on a discussion board of a class I'm taking online--we have a whole thread specifically devoted to cookie recipes. The class is a scrapbooking class. Now that is my kind of people! Anywho, it drew me in b/c I thought it would be a perfect summer recipe that the kids could make. I did a trial run the other night and it's a winner. So easy to make and I love the variety of flavors that you could make these cookies. Check it out.

Cake Mix Cookies

a box of cake mix- I went with devil's food
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
2 cups of a mix in (chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, m&m, marshmallows, anything!)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (totally optional)

Stir it all together and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet in rounded teaspoons. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. And once you remove them from the oven let them sit on the sheet for two minutes before moving.

They were especially good while they were warm! Enjoy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

BLT Pasta or How Crafty Makes a Mess in the Kitchen ~ 6.7.10

Last week I watched a DVR'ed episode of the RR show. I was salivating at 11:00 at night over her Bacon, Leek and Tomato Pasta but was not about to do anything about it then.

Fast forward to the next day when I was wondering what to make for dinner and thought about the bacon in my fridge and the spaghetti in my pantry. A quick trip to the store for a can of San Marzano Tomatoes and a leek and I was ready to make this dish!

Here's a link to Rachael's recipe: Bacon, Leek and Tomato Pasta 

One thing to note about this pasta- if you're a saucy kinda pasta lovin' person, you're not going to love this. It's a more chunky not too much sauce kind of sauce. You may want to double it or serve some other marinara sauce (and yes, I did that) on the side to satiate those saucier sauce lovin' peeps, K?

I was going on sheer memory but thought to google the recipe just to be sure once I started frying up the bacon. I wasn't using the recommended center cut bacon and needed to get rid of about a 1/3 cup of grease.

Oh glory! The scent of bacon in the house is just so lovely (I just wish is wouldn't linger so long)!

I added the chopped up leek and garlic. Do you know how to clean a leek? You do so AFTER you cut it b/c of all the grit and dirt that gets trapped between the layers. Cut your leek into half moon shapes and then put them all in a big bowl filled with water (I use my colander/salad spinner). Now, pretend you are a washing machine and swish your hand around and around. The dirt will fall to the bottom! Dry off those squeaky clean leeks and get them in the frying pan.... FAST!

Next, add the tomatoes with the juice. Why did I choose the pricey San Marzanos? This recipe has so few ingredients that I wanted the best tomatoes in here. San Marzanos are "up there" on the wonderful tasting tomato ladder.
I smooshed mine up with a potato masher and ... LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!
I give you exhibit A and B:


tomato juice everywhere! oops.
ps. that's what a can of imported San Marzanos looks like (see Exhibit A)
All cleaned up and my pasta water was ready to get its healthy dose of SALT!

That is about the most UNFLATTERING photo of my hand, evah. It looks so fat! Moving on...

I added my half a box of regular Barilla thin spaghetti and my half a box of wheat spaghetti- which took the same amount of time to cook. Six minutes on the timer and I went back to stir my sauce.

Add some pepper and taste for seasoning.
IMPORTANT TIP: Scoop out a measuring cup of that pasta water before you drain it! IMPORTANT TIP! It will extend your sauce and make it all work together nicely.

Pasta is done, adding sauce to my drained pasta to incorporate it all together and MARRY the flavors. ( I love Marrying flavors here)

Plating it up! With a sprinkling of Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese!

Now for the real test. Did my boys eat it. YES! YES! they did! After a good crying fit and a trip to his room, Zachary realized the error of his ways and said this about it, " It is good, Mama! I like it!" A few others picked out the chunky tomatoe parts, but I'm pretty sure the bacon saved the day in this dish!

whew. thank you, Lord.

Serve it up with some fresh lettuce a neighbor picked from their garden and crispy breadsticks and you'll have a winner of a dinner!

mmm delectable!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Last Summer's faves ~6.5.10

a few recipes that are worth revisiting and trying this month!

1. Creamy Latin Pasta Salad - hoping to make this soon for picnics! delish and different from your typical pasta salad

2. Baked French Toast - throw it together before church on Sunday and then bake for brunch!

3. Cool and Crisp Cucumber Salad- a summer side staple!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Crispy Zucchini Coins & Baked Corn Casserole~ 5.29.10

This weekend marks the beginning of the SUMMER! I've been a bit heavy on desserts over here, lately, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite little HEALTHY zucchini recipes. It's light and healthy and very yummy!

And if you're headed to a picnic anytime soon, you may very well like the second recipe for Baked Corn Casserole. Another easy peasy one that my children love and works great as a side dish for all things grilled. We especially like it with hot dogs and hamburgers. Last week, I served it alongside tacos! Give it a try and let me know what YOU think!

Crispy Zucchini Coins

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs- I have used homemade crumbs that I keep in the freezer and added italian seasoning to that and a pinch or so of salt
3 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
3 c thinly sliced zucchini- honestly, I NEVER measure this. I buy a couple and use 'em. One zucchini goes a LONG way when you're thinly slicing it.
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.COmbine first 3 ingredients; stir well.
Dip sliced zucchini in egg whites and dredge in bread crumb mixture.
Place in single layer on baking sheet coated with cooking spray (last time I made these on a pizza stone- PERFECTION!)
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes on one side and additional 15 minutes on the other. You want them crispy and browned.

This is a Costain classic and I believe I got it from Cooking Light years ago- not sure who to give credit to!

Next up, we have baked corn casserole. I'm sure everyone has seen/eaten some version of this over the years. This is my favorite!

Baked Corn Casserole
serves 4-6;
takes about 1 hour 15 min with prep and cooking
(I always forget that part, so I'm writing it in here so I will remember!!!)

1 8 1/2 oz pkg corn muffin mix
1 can- whole kernel corn; drained- I've never done this, always just used frozen, about 1/2-3/4 of a cup (acutally, I use the can from the creamed corn to scoop it and measure it- I'm so EXACT- LOL)
1 can cream style corn
1 cup sour cream- I chooes light
1/4 cup butter, softened- I melt it.
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients- mix well and pour into a greased 8x8 or 9x9 (2 qt) casserole dish.
COVER and bake 30 minutes.
UNCOVER and bake 30 minutes or until set and golden

this came to be by way of my "imaginary friends"- started making it on Labor Day 2002!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Multi-grain Waffles ~ 5.11.10

I'm so glad I discovered this recipe. It is in regular rotation here at our house and not just at breakfast-time. In fact, this often makes a BRINNER appearance. Waffles for dinner- who wouldn't love that? Round the meal out with some turkey bacon and yogurt parfaits or smoothies, you've got yourself a WINNER for DINNER! I gave this mix to the teachers last year for Christmas and one of them used the mix to make pancakes since she didn't have a waffle maker. If you decide to go the pancake route, just thin the batter out a bit.

One last tip, I measure out two batches at a time. One to make today and one to make later and I store it in the fridge for another day.

Multi Grain Waffles from eating well magazine

2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ or cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Mix buttermilk and oats in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ (or cornmeal), baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

3. Stir eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla into the oat mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.

4. Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat. Spoon in enough batter to cover three-fourths of the surface (about 2/3 cup for an 8-by-8-inch waffle iron). Cook until waffles are crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 188 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 55 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 8 g protein; 3 g fiber; 328 mg sodium. Nutrition bonus: 144 mg calcium (14% dv).
2 Carbohydrate Servings

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Wrap any leftovers individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat in a toaster or toaster oven.

originally posted August, 2007

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Essential Summertime (Anytime) Salsa ~ 5.9.10

Time to depart from all the desserts and make something fresh and delicious.

I originally posted this recipe way back in 2006 on She's a Crafty Pumpkin. It has become my "go-to" recipe for family gatherings- it's a cinch to make and EVERYONE seems to love it! The original recipe hails from here and I'm forever indebted to her for posting that- hope you're as happy with it, too!

If you don't have cilantro, but say, have basil- try that instead. I did that once and was not at all disappointed! WOW! Flavor punch and a party in my mouth! You'll see in the ingredients that I often will leave out certain "unessential" ingredients- feel free to try that for yourself. A recipe is only a guideline, you decide what goes in or doesn't- make it yours!

I love to serve this with Target's Archer Farms Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips- say that five times fast!

Black Bean Salsa

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 ears corn, either boiled or roasted (I use frozen, too- toast it in a dry pan on the stovetop)
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, cut into small chunks and drained- Romas are great
2 firm-ripe avocados, cut into medium chunks
1 red onion, diced small - I often leave this out
3 garlic cloves, minced - I've left this out before, too
2-3 limes
1 bunch of cilantro
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Place the black beans into a large serving bowl. After the corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the cob and add to the black beans, along with the tomatoes, red onion, and garlic. Toss to combine.

Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, or to taste. Squeeze the limes over the mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit for about fifteen minutes before tasting for seasonings again.

You can wait until just before serving to add the avocado chunks and chopped cilantro, but we add it all at once - after awhile the avocado will start to break down, but it usually last a full day or two before that happens.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brownies in a Snap ~ 5.7.10

Brownies from scratch? No thank you. These are my favorite and they are as easy as opening a box and gussying it up just a wee little bit. Hat tip to the Cupcake Doctor Cookbook for introducing me to my FAVORITE Brownies!

Just a few extra ingredients will send that boxed brownie mix to a whole new level...

My Favorite Brownies

1 20 oz pkg of brownie mix-- test your fave and see how it goes but I only buy Ghiradelli
1/3 cup water
5 Tbsp butter, melted
1 lg egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips, regular or mini

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a greased pan- 9x9 works for me. Bake at 350 per pkg instructions. (about 40 minutes) Try your best not to lick that bowl.
Cool completely and cut with a plastic knife (it cuts brownies THE best!)

ps. that cookbook I mentioned up above is one of my most USED and favorite cookbooks. The twin's cinnamon toast firetruck cake recipe came from it... well, the firetruck assembly directions were from Betty Crocker, but the cake mix idea, that was all Cupcake Doctor. Yes, you can use her recipes from that book to make regular sized cakes, too!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Peanut Butter Pie, Oh How I've missed you ~ 4.29.10

Thankfully, once upon a time, I gave birth to twins. And something delightful happened to me after that oh so joyous occasion--- I was fed by my newest and lovliest friends at MOPS!

My friend, Michelle, brought this little gem to me and I am forever grateful to her for that meal, her friendship and THIS PIE! It's simple and with friends like Marie Callendar and the folks at Pillsbury, it can be even simpler for all of us! wink, wink

I added a little tweak right before I added the ingredients to the pie crust... you'll probably guess it has something to do with chocolate.

Peanut Butter Pie with a Twist

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup peanut butter
some Nutella, if you dare
1 package vanilla pudding, prepared
whipped topping
pie crust
chocolate bar
1. Bake pie crust according to directions. Cool.

2. Mix peanut butter and powdered sugar in a bowl. It will resemble bread crumbs!!! Reserve some of this to sprinkle on top (I didn't do that- I use shaved chocolate instead)

3. Spread bottom of cooled pie crust with Nutella-- if you so choose, and you should so choose!

4. Sprinkle the nutella with the peanut butter mixture.
4b. Then add your prepared pudding on top of the PB mixture.

5. Top with whipped topping and either pb mixture or some grated chocolate!

6. Eat and Enjoy!!!

oh one more thing to note. I do believe you should refrigerate this pie overnight b/c something happens to that bread crumby pb layer when it's under the pudding. It needs an overnight to do this.