Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Waffles (french toast)

It's crazy to me that it's the middle of October and we're planning a trip to the beach this week. It's not supposed to be in the 80's! It's supposed to be cool, and overcast out. And as much as I love the sun, i'm ready to enjoy the cool fall weather.
The other day Matt mentioned how french toast sounded good. I had been wanting to make pumpkin waffles and it just so happened that I had some left over pumpkin in the fridge from these pumpkin bars that I can't get enough of. So I combined the best of both worlds and had some pumpkin waffle french toast. Leave them as waffles, or make french toast..it doesn't matter, we all liked them a lot both ways, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to toss some chocolate chips in the batter :) 
Pumpkin Waffles 
2 cups flour
2 TBLS baking powder
1 TBLS cinnamon
1 TBLS sugar
½ t. nutmeg
¼ t. salt
4 eggs, seperated
1 ½ cup milk
1 cup pure canned pumpkin
¾ cup butter, melted
1 TBLS vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Beat egg whites until they form peaks. Set aside.
In a separate bowl add the egg yolks, milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Then add the dry mixture slowly until incorporated using a mixer.

Fold beaten egg whites gently into the pumpkin batter. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron and cook according to waffle iron instructions. Yield: 8 waffles

*Stop there or continue to make french toast from the waffles. I'm not posting french toast steps but I did add a little pumpkin pie spice to the egg/milk/cinnamon mixture.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fluffernutter Chocolate Gobs

With my other 2 pregnancies I never really got to the point where I could no longer stand pregnancy and just wanted to be done. I mean, as much as I haaate being pregnant, i've been lucky to have felt great for the most part, almost like I wasn't pregnant at all. This time around...is a different story. I'm very ready to be done, and I still have 7 weeks left. That doesn't seem very long in terms of having another person living with us, but knowing that i'll continue to grow and be uncomfortable for that long seems like an eternity! As busy as I am with day to day stuff, i've also got some fun stuff planned for this fall to look forward to, and hopefully distract me from how many weeks I have left until my body is mine again. Part of that list includes some fall baking, which i'm so excited to start doing. I have a list of things I want to make, now I just need to find the right occasions to get it done! One of the last treats of summer i've made were these cookies that I took for a girls night. They were calling my name as soon as I saw them. PB cookie, topped with marshmallow and chocolate...yum. The glaze recipe really should be doubled. I ended up melting chocolate chips and spreading on top, but by the next morning the melted chocolate looked a little funky (still tasted fine though!) So just double up on that glaze and you should be good. Oh..and these are way better warmed up!

Fluffernutter Chocolate Gobs


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Mini marshmallows

Chocolate Glaze:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk, depending on how thick you want it

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla.

Gradually add in flour mixture on low speed. Chill dough for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Place by rounded spoonfuls on a lightly greased cooking sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes, until edges are very lightly browned. Remove from oven and flatten slightly, then place 3 or 4 mini marshmallows on top of each cookie then return to oven for 2-3 minutes, until the marshmallows are melted. Let cool completely.

When cooled completely, make the glaze by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Slowly stir in the powdered sugar, gradually adding the milk as needed to get it the desired consistency (you want it thin enough to drizzle, but thick enough that it won't run all over- a little thicker than molasses). Spoon a small amount over the top of each cookie. Glaze with set slightly upon cooling.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

It's not often Matt goes to the grocery store (atleast alone). Since i'm home all day I end up going out to stores just about everyday, so there's usually no need for him to go. Except for on occassion we need something *cough*ice cream*cough* or to return a redbox dvd. And when he goes to the grocery store you can bet he usually always comes back with steak among some other random things. His last trip he came back with a bag of bananas. Not just a little clear plastic bag with a few bananas in it..but a paper sack full of ripe bananas. When I asked what all the bananas were about he replied, "the guy at the store said I could fill the bag full for $1.50." Ook..so we've got about 15 yellow-soon-to-be-brown bananas and let me remind you, he's still on his diet so he won't be eating any of them. And the kids don't really eat bananas, not usually alteast. So rather than making 4 or 5 loaves of banana bread, i've been trying to find other uses for them; mainly healthier snacks I could give the kids. I was so happy to find this recipe! It has such basic, simple ingredients that I don't mind feeding my kids. They were a little like banana bread but they weren't very sweet (although you could easily make them sweeter if you prefer, but we were fine with them the way they were). And you can easily adapt this a number of ways, one batch I added cinnamon, another batch I added peanut butter.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
2 /1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 c. of plain low fat greek yogurt (I used unsweetend applesauce)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sweetener of choice, or 2 tbs stevia sweetener (I used stevia)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 bananas (I only used one but realized it needed at least one more
optional: cinnamon, peanut butter, etc.
Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
Spray 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick spray.
Place all ingredients (wet first) into a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into muffin tins and bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark

As if you all need another addicting recipe, right? I mean, who can resist the sweet/salty combo? And to make matters worse, there's a good chance you already have all (or most) ingredients on hand! Not to mention it takes no time at all to whip up. I made 2 batches at once not realizing how much I would end up with! But I had no problem getting rid of it. This would make a nice addition to your Christmas plates this year as well, but let's not think about that just yet!
Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark
mama say what?!
½ bag of mini pretzel twists
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 bag of chocolate chips
Sea salt or table salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Line a large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lay a single layer of pretzels down.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let it boil gently just until it starts to stick to the bottom and it forms a nice smooth caramel. You’ll want to let it bubble a little and get really thick.
Remove from heat and pour evenly over the top of the pretzels. Put in the oven at 350 degrees for five minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Pop back in the oven for a minute then spread chocolate evenly.
Spread the chocolate chips around with a spatula until mostly melted and sprinkle generously with salt.
Let cool on the counter top for a few minutes and then pop in the freezer for about an hour. When it comes out of the freezer, break it up into uneven chunks with your hands and serve.
*I stored it in the freezer because it softens up a little when left out. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

So, I told ya i'd be posting a "fall cookie" next. Ok so technically it doesn't really have anything to do with fall. BUT it would definitely go nicely with a nice hot drink like some hot chocolate. Yes, skip the milk and go for the cocoa. Maybe it's a winter cookie? In any case, it's a cookie and I never need a reason to eat cookies! I have to admit I couldn't help but think it wasn't much different than a snickerdoodle, and although they're not something i'd make often, they were fun to try and it's always fun to try something different. I had a friend tell me she tried them and asked what they were because she liked them. I admittedly replied that it was just store bought sugar cookie dough with cinnamon. Sounds pretty simple, right? The original recipe used a pack of mix but I thought i'd take an even bigger short cut by using refrigerated dough. Not sure if that was a wise choice or not, because it was really soft and a little difficult to roll up, but I got it done! I'm sure it didn't help that my house was so hot. But i'll post the recipe as is and if you want to use refrigerated dough, you know there's that option as well!
Cinnamon Roll Cookies
1 pouch (17.5 oz.) sugar cookie mix (or 1 roll refrigerated dough such as Pillsbury)
½ cup butter or margarine, softened to room temp. (omit if using refrigerated dough)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (omit if using refrigerated dough)
1 egg (omit if using refrigerated dough)
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk

Directions: In medium bowl stir cookie mix, softened butter, flour, and egg until dough forms.
On a floured surface, roll dough to about ¼-inch thickness and brush with melted butter.
In a small bowl mix together sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over dough.
Begin to roll up dough, starting at the long side. Pinch the dough back together if it tears.
Cut dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap and pop dough in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes until firm.
Heat oven to 375F degrees.  Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take dough out of freezer and begin cutting into ¾-inch slices. Place slices about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown.
Cool for about 2 minutes, remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely.
In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

My husband is on a diet, Ideal Protein to be specific. And even though i'm not the one who has to restrict myself it's still frustrating sometimes. For some reason it's just not as fun to be a pig by yourself, especially when the other person is eating stuff like vegetables..and salad. That's not fun at all. Like the other day we went to the store and he handed me a king sized Twix (I may have mentioned ealirer that Twix sounded good) and I said no. Then he said, "are you sure?" And begrudgingly I snatched it. Because I have no will power. And you can bet as soon as we got home I was into it. But not before scarfing down a fruit tart first. Anyway point is, I said no, don't tempt me. And don't watch as I scarf it down while you're over there being all skinny. And you can bet he was saying things like, "those look soo goood" after I made these cookies. He's usually very positive about what he can eat and hasn't made many comments like this, but I did feel a little bad, because I know he would have liked them!
These cookies were a cookie contest recipe winner, so that automatically made them a must try. They were like a soft, fluffy, lemony sugar cookie. I doubled the baking soda to 1/4 t. and made them a little larger (tablespoon sized scoops) which resulted in a slightly thicker cookie. Summer isn't over yet, put these on your bucket list because next time i'll be bringing you a fall cookie!
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Lauren's Latest via. LDS Living Magazine
½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cheesey Twice Baked Potatoes

I LOVE summer time and I hate to see it coming to and end already. However, I do love the hearty, warm comfort food of fall and winter and drinking hot chocolate just because it's the season. I first saw this recipe about 8 years ago in a Reader's Digest magazine of my mom's that was sitting on the counter at home. I happened to pick it up and flip through the pages and stumbled on this recipe. I ripped it out, tried it, and have kept it since. If you're having other sides, it would be wise to cut these in half because they are filling, and hearty, and warm. Just what you're going to want when it starts to get cold out.  

Cheesey Twice Baked Potatoes

4 medium potatoes, baked
1/2 c. ranch dressing
1 10 oz. box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
cheddar cheese (sorry no measurement, add how much looks good to you!)
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 deg F.
Cut lengthwise slice from each potato. Remove skin from top. Remove pulp leaving 1/4 inch shell, and put pulp in a large bowl.
Add dressing to bowl with pulp and mash to combine. Stir in broccoli, cheese and bacon. Equally spoon filling into shells.
Place on baking sheet and bake uncovered 15 min.
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PayDay Bars

Here's another quick and simple dessert that feeds a crowd, making it perfect for group activities. I chose to take them to a bbq and let me just say, they didn't last long. I had someone come ask if I made them because he really liked them but they were gone when he went back for another. Being the chocolate fan I am, I had to add a layer of chocolate on top. In fact, next time I would even try using a chocolate mix for the crust. I guess that takes away from the whole "PayDay" thing, but my philosophy is if you can add chocolate, what better option is there?? ;)

PayDay Bars
Girls in Aprons

1 box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
3-5 cups marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all  ingredients together and press in a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 13 minutes then remove and sprinkle crust with 3-5 cups of marshmallows, evenly placing them over the entire crust. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes until marshmallows become puffy then remove and set aside.
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups peanut butter chips (like Reese's)
2 cups salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups rice crispy cereal
1 bag semisweet or milk chocolate chips

Over medium heat, stir together all ingredients except peanuts and cereal in a large saucepan until melted then stir in cereal and peanuts. Spoon mixture over marshmallows and spread evenly. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour. Melt chocolate chips either in the microwave at 50% power stopping to stir every 30 seconds or in a double boiler on the stove top. When melted, spread on top then return to refrigerator/freezer until set. Cut into squares. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Giant S'mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm sure if you're on pinterest you've seen this one floating around from Smells Like Home. With my love of cookies and smores, how could I NOT give it a try? I made it for dessert one night and decided on just doing 1/2 batch (2 large cookies) since I knew 1 would be plenty for both of us. It's always fun mixing things up and this was a really good cookie (best warm!) I was thinking it would even be fun to do mini smores (maybe even try roasting the marshmallows first??) inside regular sized cookies. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time :)   
Giant S'more Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
For the cookie dough:
Ingredients:2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For assembly:
1 cookie dough recipe, at room temperature
8 graham cracker squares, broken into halves
4 marshmallows, snipped in half lengthwise
1 full-size Hershey’s bar, divided between each of the cookies

Directions:To make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

To assemble and bake: Lay half of the graham crackers out on the baking sheets – two crackers per sheet. Top each cracker with 3-4 pieces of chocolate then top the chocolate with two marshmallow halves, laying them side-by-side. Lay the remaining graham crackers on top of the assemble s’mores. Sandwich the s’mores between two large spoonfuls of cookie dough and using the remaining dough to wrap around each of the s’mores; the result should resemble a small cookie brick.

Space the cookies at least 4 inches apart on the two baking sheets. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until the tops and edges are lightly browned and the edges just lift off the pan with a spatula.Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and cool the cookies on the sheets for at least 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to the wire racks and cool for another 5-10 minutes before serving. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Monday, July 30, 2012

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

Happy National Cheesecake day! Atleast my newsletter from the Cheesecake Factory told me today is. So..in honor, I give you this. I've had this recipe book marked for a very long time, and i'm so glad I finally got around to making it! Who needs Cheesecake Factory anyway? Seriously, make your own. It isn't hard, it's so so good, and it's way cheaper! Make the brownies the day before and it'll make things go a lot smoother. I had just made this not long before I took the pictures, so it wasn't quite set yet, which is why the middle looks a little like pudding. I find that the cheesecake tastes a lot better the next day.
Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
Smitten Kitchen

Part One: One Bowl Brownies

Adapted from Baker’s One Bowl Brownies
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s chocolate, optional of course)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 3/4cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.

Cool brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will have more than the two cups of cubes loosely measured than you will need. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

Part Two: Crumb Crust (You can double recipe if you like a thicker crust, or just leave it as is. I doubled it and ended up throwing some of it away because it looked like too much, but im sure it would have been just fine.)
Adapted from Gourmet, 1999
1 1/2 cups or 5 ounces (3 cups or 10 ounces to double) finely ground cookies such as chocolate wafers. Or Chocolate Teddy Grahams.
5 tablespoons (10 tablespoons to double) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (2/3 cup to double) sugar
1/8 (1/4 teaspoon to double) teaspoon salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 9 inch springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake
Adapted from the Three Cities of Spain Coffeehouse
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie cubes (from recipe above)

Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.
Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Purdy’s original recipe
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Heat cream and butter in microwave or on stove until hot. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir. Add vanilla and confectioners sugar and stir until smooth. Pour over cheesecake or chill until ready to use.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Creamy Garlic Pasta

It's amazing how something with just a few simple ingredients can be so good. Like this pasta, for example. It only took about 15 minutes start to finish and both Matt and I were big fans. You could add some chicken or whatever else if you'd like to round it out, but it's also good as-is. Put it on your menu sometime because really, unless you're anti-garlic/pasta, what do you have to lose?

Creamy Garlic Pasta
2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 cups chicken stock
½ lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a pot, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a boil.
Once it is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for as long as the box’s directions indicate. Reduce the stove to medium heat and mix in the parmesan until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chicken Gyros with Tzatki Sauce

 I first made this recipe a couple years ago and put it in my recipe book as a keeper. But as usual, things go in there and aren't often made. But only because I typically try to make new recipes if I can. Anyway, as I was flipping through my book trying to figure out what we're going to eat this week I spotted this one and realized it's been way too long. After dinner Matt told me it was really good and it should go in "the book." Like I said, we try a lot of different recipes and he never even opens the book so little did he know it was already in there. It's super easy to make and doesn't take long at all! My favorite kind of recipe :)  
Chicken Gyros with Tzatki Sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
2 t. red wine vinegar
2 TBLS. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping TBLS plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 TBLS dried oregano
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
diced tomatoes
sliced red onions
pita bread
tzatziki sauce (recipe below)

For the chicken:
Whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, garlic and oregano in a bowl. Add chicken to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for atleast 1 hour.
Preheat grill to medium. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper then grill until cooked through. Allow to rest 5 min. then cut into strips.
Heat pita bread in frying pan or toaster then top with chicken, tomatoes, onion and tzatziki

For the Tzatziki Sauce:
8 oz. plain greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
squeeze fresh lemon juice
drizzle of olive oil

Wrap cucumber in paper towl and squeeze out excess liquid, as much as possible.
Mix together the rest of the ingredients with cucumber in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 min. Drizzle a little olive oil on top.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Soft Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week I made these soft chocolate chip cookies. They were so good I wanted to try a chocolate version. They're super chocolatey so be sure you have plenty of milk around when you make these or else you'll be sorry!
Soft Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 3.9 oz. box chocolate pudding
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture.

Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, cookies will look undone (it's always a little trickier with chocolate cookies). Cool slightly and remove to cooling rack. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Double Chocolate Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream

July is national ice cream month, in case you didn't know. Lately i've really been in the mood to make things from scratch, which I would love to do on a regular basis but sometimes I struggle just getting dinner made. I feel guilty spending a ton of time in the kitchen on something I could easily just buy when I could be spending that time doing something fun with my kids. But on occassion  i'll make something I would typically just buy, like ice cream. Chocolate and PB ice cream has always been one of my fave selections. The container we just finished off was Triple Cookie Sundae and I kept finding myself adding pb in when I ate it. I didn't let my mixture cool enough before churning so I had some issues and didn't get a good pb ribbon, but I also had the pb patties in there for an extra kick. I always regret when I don't make a double batch of ice cream because it goes way too fast!

Double Chocolate Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream
ice cream seen on Joy the Baker and pb patties seen on Dinner and Dessert
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth salted peanut butter

In a sauce pan over medium heat, stir together 2 cups whole milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Heat until the milk start to steam, but before it starts to boil.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of whole milk and the cornstarch. Stir until no lumps remain.
Add the cornstarch mixture to the heated milk and chocolate mixture and bring to a low boil. Boil until thickened. The mixture will look the consistency of chocolate pudding. Remove from flame.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir the cream and chocolate mixture until incorporated.

Stir the cream and chocolate mixture into the cooling chocolate ice cream base. Place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a lid, and put in the fridge until cool.

Once cool follow the manufacturers instructions on the ice cream maker to churn ice cream. Once the mixture has chilled and thickened in the ice cream maker, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Don’t over mix, you want a nice ribbon of peanut butter running through the ice cream.

Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Cover and freeze until solid.

Peanut Butter Patties

6 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Mix together the peanut butter and sugar in a small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Pinch off small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about ½ teaspoon each, and drop them onto the dinner plate. Once you’ve used all of the mixture, freeze the patties.

Mixing them in: Fold the Peanut Butter Patties into 1 quart of ice cream as you remove it from the machine.

Storage: Peanut Butter Patties can be stored in the freezer, well wrapped, for up to 1 month. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mixed Berry Clafouti

Landon's diet consists of mostly berries and fruit. And by mostly I mean like 75%. It's ridiculous. I've tried trying to get him to eat other stuff instead but a lot of times he refuses and isn't happy until he gets fruit (other than the other select things he'll eat.) I guess it could be worse. Currently we have bananas, peaches, apples, an orange, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and lots of strawberries, and even with all that i'll be back at the store in a couple days restocking. So now i'm trying to look for new ways to give him the fruit. During my search I found this mixed berry clafouti and figured I would give it a try. He mostly picked the berries out but it was a good attempt. I've never made a clafouti before and it was a little mushy in the middle, not sure if it's supposed to be like that or if I should have baked it longer, but either way it was still good. I was out of strawberries when I made it so instead used blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Mixed Berry Clafouti
1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll's Strawberries (1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll's Blackberries
1 cup 1% milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus more for pie dish)
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9 or 10-inch glass or ceramic pie dish.
Hull and halve strawberries.
Toss strawberries with cornstarch.
Place cut side down in prepared dish.
Sprinkle blackberries around strawberries.
Blend milk, eggs, flour, sugar, Grand Marnier and butter in a blender until smooth. Pour over berries.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown, puffed, and set in center.
Remove from oven and dust with confectioners' sugar.
Let stand 10 minutes (clafouti will sink).
Serve warm. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Monday, June 25, 2012

Forgotten Kiss Cookies

The other day I was looking for something to make for a girls night, and I was not in the mood at all to bake and was tempted to just buy something from the store, which I hate to do since I normally look for excuses to bake something. From the very very begininng of this pregnancy i've just felt exhausted all.the.time. I always tell myself i'll go to bed early or nap but instead I always tough through it though and don't let it stop me from doing everything that needs to be done. Yes, i've been pretty grumpy lately, especially with my kids. Can I just have a week alone on a desserted island? ANYWAY, back to the cookies. Girls night, didn't feel like baking. So I did some quick searching and came across this recipe and knew right away I wanted to give it a try. Very basic ingredients (you don't even need eggs) and the dough comes together quickly. The cookie had a slight melt in your mouth texture and tasted like shortbread. I really liked them and look forward to making them again with different kinds of kisses.
Forgotten Kiss Cookies

1 Cup Softened Margarine
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips Or Mini M&ms
1 9oz. Bag Hershey Kisses (I used caramel kisses. Some of the caramel will ooze out but I liked them)

FOR CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE (optional): (I didn't do the drizzle on mine)
¼ cups Mini Chocolate Chips
1 teaspoon Shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, beat butter/margarine, sugars, and vanilla until well blended.
Add the flour and blend until smooth.
Stir in mini chocolate chips.
Mold a scant tablespoon of cookie dough around each unwrapped kiss, covering completely. Shape into balls.
Place onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until set.
Cool completely, move from cookie sheet to wire rack.
Prepare chocolate drizzle, if desired, and drizzle over each cooled cookie.
makes 2-3 dozen
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Banana Split Cupcakes

With 3 birthdays in our family this month, there won't be any shortages of dessert. Next week my daughter turns 3 and she hasn't been able to stop talking about it for the last couple weeks. But first up was Landon's birthday. My baby boy turned 1 last Sunday! We took some of these to our class at church and I sit in the very back trying to keep Landon quiet.This week he had wandered up to the front where I couldn't really see him, but he was being quiet so I let him be. A few minutes later I discovered he had gotten someone's cupcake they had sitting by them on the floor. (Their fault, right?? ;) ) Let's just say he was shirtless for the rest of church, but i'm glad he liked it. 
I've been wanting to make these cupcakes for some time and this was the perfect occasion. I was actually surprised as how much they actually were like a banana split. The cupcake tastes exactely like banana bread and has strawberry and pineapple inside as a filling. Then it's topped with a whipped cream frosting, ganache, sprinkles and a cherry.
Banana Split Cupcakes 
Yield: 30+ cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana

For the filling:
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and diced small
2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
12 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

For the frosting:
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the ganache:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup

For garnish:
Multi-colored sprinkles
Maraschino cherries

Preheat the oven to 350° F and line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the mashed banana until well combined. With the mixer on low speed alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing only until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry filling, combine the strawberries and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Toss well, smashing slightly with a fork. Allow the berries to macerate at least 20-30 minutes.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a small cone out of the center of each cupcake with a paring knife or small biscuit cutter. (The excess cake can be discarded.) Add a teaspoon or two of the strawberry filling to the center of each cupcake. Top with a teaspoon or two of the crushed pineapple, filling to the top of the cupcake.

To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat! Blend in the vanilla extract.

Add the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe a swirl of the whipped cream onto each filled cupcake, covering the filling. Transfer the filled and frosted cupcakes to the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk together until a thick, smooth ganache forms. Blend in the corn syrup. Let stand at room temperature at least 10 minutes so the ganache is not hot.

To finish the cupcakes, pour a spoonful of the ganache over the whipped cream topping of each cupcake. Garnish with sprinkles and maraschino cherries before the glaze sets. Chill the assembled cupcakes until ready to serve.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I know, it's almost summer time and i'm posting a soup recipe. I've had this one stashed away for a while and didn't even think to post it until this last time I made it. I couldn't NOT post it. It's so good! It's flavorful without being overly spicey. And don't skip making your own tortilla strips, it doesn't take that long and they're so much better than store bought ones.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup grapeseed oil, peanut oil, other high smoke-point oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium Anaheim, poblano or jalapeƱo chile, seeded, veins removed, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (recommended Muir Glen fire-roasted)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 ripe avocado, optional
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese or mild cheddar
Chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges

Cut tortillas in half, and then cut the halves into 1/4-inch wide strips. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 3-quart pot. Working in three batches, fry the tortilla strips in the oil, until lightly browned and crisp. Remove the tortilla strips from the pan and let drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Add the chopped onions to the pan, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped chile and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the onions and chiles have softened. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the broth, tomatoes, and salt. Increase the heat to high, heat until the soup begins to boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and cook until heated through.

To serve, top soup with tortilla strips, cheese, cilantro and other desired garnishes (avacado, sour cream, lime wedges). Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

My computer has been out of operation this last week and a half, but in the meantime I was able to get some good stuff ready to share. For our sunday school class at church my husband teaches and I get to make treats. Pretty sweet deal, right? Oh yea, that and try to tame our crazy child which makes things fair. I've had this recipe bookmarked to make for a really long time now but never got around to it. I actually started out making something else but it was disasterous and I ended up tossing the whole pan, hate when that happens. After spending so much time on that I wanted something quick and easy, and this was just that. It really is like 2 cookies in 1 and they all got eaten so I guess that's a good sign!
Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

1/2 cup of (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips
1 cup of oreo cookie sandwich crumbs
1/2 cup of white chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese using a hand mixer until they are well combined.
Add the sugar and vanilla and mix until ingredients are well combined. Add the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
Scoop the dough into 1″ balls and roll in oreo cookie crumbs so cookie is covered. Place covered cookie balls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.
Cool on the pan for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Smore's Bars

Summer is coming up. And if you've been reading this for a while, you know I love the smores combo. We've got smore's cookie bars, smores brownies, smore's pie, smore's marshmallows, smore's ice cream bars and smore's for kids. And the list continues to grow. Or you could add some nuts and do a rocky road version if that's your thing. These are a little different than the typical smores due to the addition of peanut butter and like most chocolate desserts, I found these very hard to resist. 

Peanut Butter Smore's Bars

For Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted

For Peanut Butter Chocolate Marshmallow Filling:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (lite is all right)
1 cup chocolate chips
250 grams mini marshmallows

Line a 8 x 8″ square baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt together.
Add the melted butter and stir until the graham cracker crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Press evenly into the prepared baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
In a medium-sized pot, melt the margarine and peanut butter together.
Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Stir until they’ve completely melted into the peanut butter mixture. Allow the mixture to cool to the point where you can comfortably place your hand on the bottom of the pot .
Add marshmallows and stir to coat.
Spread evenly over the graham cracker crust and put the whole thing in the fridge until fully set. Lift out of the dish using the parchment paper, cut into squares. It’s best to keep these refrigerated.
yield: 16 squares
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bacon, Cheddar and Tomato Quiche

Did everyone have a good Mother's day?? Did you get a special breakfast? I hope so. Matt asked me what I wanted for breakfast and normally I would choose french toast, that's my favorite so naturally what I normally pick. Buuut we have SO many eggs and I don't want them to go bad. Enter the quiche. I helped Matt make it since I doubt he's ever made a quiche before and I don't mind helping. It comes together relatively quickly and all the steps are super simple. A great thing about a quiche is you can customize it to whatever vegetables/cheese/meet you have on hand or prefer. This is what I decided on and I don't think I would have changed a thing.

Bacon, Cheddar and Tomato Quiche
adapted from Picky Palate 

8 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup cooked, chopped bacon pieces
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pie crust in round pie plate and partially bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven.

2. Place eggs, milk, salt and pepper into stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Whisk until well combined, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

3. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions for about 5 minutes then add tomatoes, stirring and cooking for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Pour egg mixture into crust and top evenly with onion and tomatoes, bacon and cheese. Bake until eggs are cooked through (I think mine took about 45 min. I forgot to time it to be exact though). Serve warm. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Birthday Cake

When it comes to birthday cake, yellow cake with chocolate frosting is classic. The birthday girl I made the cake for is a chocolate fan, as am I, obviously. So I decided to change it up a little and did 1 layer of yellow cake and 1 layer of chocolate cake with buttercream frosting in between the layers and chocolate frosting on the outside covered in sprinkles. By the time I was done my kitchen was COVERED in frosting and sprinkles. But it was worth it because I loved how the cake turned out!! It sounds like a lot of steps/recipes, but it's really not that bad!

Birthday Cake

What you'll need:
1/2 recipe yellow cake (1- 9 inch cake), recipe below
1/2 recipe chocolate cake (1- 9 inch cake), recipe below
1 batch buttercream frosting, recipe below
1 batch chocolate frosting, recipe below
sprinkles, if desired

Mix yellow cake and set aside (don't bake yet). Make chocolate cake according to directions. Place both cakes in oven at same time. Once done baking and cooling, invert chocolate cake and frost top with buttercream frosting. Stack yellow cake on top and frost the whole thing with chocolate frosting. Decorate with sprinkles. Store in refrigerator.

Yellow Cake
seen on Annie's Eats
For the cake:
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
1½ cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups milk

To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.  Butter and flour the edges of the pans, tapping out the excess; set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk together to blend well and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.
Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pans to help remove the cakes.  Invert the cakes onto the rack and peel off the parchment.  Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.  Level the cakes if necessary.

Hershey's 'Perfectly Chocolate' Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. Add more sugar to make stiffer, or more milk 1 TBLS at a time to thin out until desired consistency is reached.
Hershey's 'Perfectly Chocolate' Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

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