Thursday, March 28, 2013

Matt's Mug Brownie

Please don't judge a recipe by it's photo!

I have a very dear friend, who has this amazing 19 year-old son, Matt.  Matt is quite the baker.  I envy his talent.  I really, really do.  He takes simple ingredients and makes them astounding!  He's not afraid of any recipe.  He's an avid bread baker, cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins, you name it....he makes it.  For Christmas Dinner he brought this cheesecake that was at LEAST 1000 calories a slice...and it was oh. so. yummy.

Well, my friend recently posted that they're addicted to his new brownie recipe.  And they can make it in a mug.  In the microwave.  A quick and dirty little recipe for when that chocolate craving strikes.  Of course, I made the sacrifice and tried it out for all of you so that I could share it with you.  It was a hardship, I will tell you.  I even burnt the roof of my mouth b/c I could not wait for it to cool down to eat it!   And I had to try it over and over and over again.  Not because there was anything wrong with the recipe, mind you, but because it was so yummy, I had to make sure I wasn't dreaming!

Matt's Mug Brownie (serves ONE)

1/4 Cup Grandma's Best Flour
1/4 Cup Grandma's Best Granulate Sugar
2 Tbs. Baker's Corner Cocoa Powder
Pinch Sebree Salt
2 Tbs. Oil (matt's recipe recommends olive oil, I used Carlini Vegetable oil)
3 Tbs. Water

Mix dry ingredients into a mug.  Add oil and water and mix with a fork.  Cook on high for 1 minutes and 40 seconds in the microwave.  Don't burn your tongue!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Sensations Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

In keeping with the pizza theme, we made a pizza cookie to celebrate my youngest daughter's birthday (again, yeah, this kid's had like 4 parties so far!).  My oldest wanted to play with the sugar dipped marshmallows like we used for the cupcakes, but she wanted to make them into butterflies.  I think it turned out really cute.

All we did was follow the recipe on the back of the package of the Baker's Corner Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips.  EXCEPT FOR ONE THING....the recipe calls for 1 cup butter (which would be two sticks).  I do 1 stick butter, and a half cup Carlini Vegetable oil.  this works better for a larger cookie.

Press into a 12"-14" pizza pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked in the center.

Allow to cool before frosting.

We used the marshmallow technique from the cupcakes to make the butterflies.  Do do the frosting around the edges, you place the frosting into a pastry bag with frosting tips and squeeze out onto the cake.  We sprinkled with the Spring Sprinkles, too.

So fun!  I think it turned out really cute!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Well.  Aldi went and did it.  They are now selling Pizza Crusts!  YAY!!!  Pre-made, easy prep, pizza crusts.  Like the expensive ones you can buy in the regular grocery stores, but better and cheaper.  Oh yeah.  I'm a happy camper!  I've had a craving for Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza that a friend of mine introduced me to a few years ago (Thank you, Betsy!).  And now, I can make it Aldified! :)

They sell regular crust and thin crust.  For this recipe, I used the Thin Crust, but if you prefer a doughier crust, you may do the same with the thicker crusts, just be sure to adjust cooking times accordingly!

PS.  Would have taken more pictures HOWEVER it was all gone but this one piece when I remembered to take them!!! EEEK!!!!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

1 Package Mama Cozzi's Thin Pizza Crusts
1 jar Tuscan Garden Ranch Dressing
2 Grilled Kirkwood Chicken Breasts
1 large tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 Package Tuscan Garden Real Bacon Bits
2-4 Cups Friendly Farms Shredded Colby Jack Cheese  (this will depend on how cheesy you like it!)
Stonemill Essentials Italian Seasoning Blend

Preheat Oven to 425.

Once heated place crusts in the oven for about 5 minutes - just to prebake a LITTLE bit.  This step allows for a crispier crust.  Place right on the oven rack if possible.  (save the sauce packets for another purpose, you will not be using them for these pizzas!)

Remove from oven.  Allow to cool slightly.

Dice chicken in small pieces and put about half cup of dressing over chicken just to "moisten" it.

Squeeze 3/4 cup of dressing onto the top of each crust and spread out.  Sprinkle about 3/4 cup of the cheese over top of each crust.  Top with half of the ranch-moistened chicken over top.  Add half of the diced tomatoe to each pizza, and half of the onion dices to each pizza.  Top with another 1/2-3/4 cup cheese and sprinkle bacon bits over each pizza.

Place back on oven rack and bake about 5-7 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Allow to cool for a minute or two before slicing.


Spring Flower Cupcakes

It's supposed to be spring in these parts.  It is not.  In fact, it snowed this morning.  It was also St. Patrick's Day the other day.  Not in this house, because we are not Irish....however, my youngest was born on St. Patrick's Day in 2005.  So, I forever have a leprechaun.  Her birthday is celebrated all over the country with ham & cabbage, and green beer.  Poor kid.  I still remember the day the brought her back to me in the hospital.  They had decorated her hospital bassinet with shamrock stickers, they had a little bottle filled with silver-wrapped Hershey's Kisses also decorated with shamrock stickers, and they'd KY-jellied a little bow onto her head.  She was so cute, and pink, and leprechauny.

To celebrate her birthday this year, her older sister (and wanna-be chef) made her dinner to order.  She also asked for these special cupcakes.  Thanks for the inspiration, Family Fun Magazine.

Spring Flower Cupcakes

1 Box Baker's Corner Devil's Food Chocolate Cake Mix
2 Sticks Country Creamery Butter, melted
1 1/4 Cup Milk
4 Eggs
1 Tub Baker's Corner Easter Frosting in Green
1 Bag Baker's Corner Large Marshmallows (you'll only use about 15-20)
1 Bag Baker's Corner Mini Marshmallows (you'll only use a few)
1 Shaker of Baker's Corner Sprinkle in Spring Colors (for sale right now!)


Preheat oven to 350.

Place cake mix in mixer.  Add melted butter, milk and eggs.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until fluffy.  Place in cupcake liners in a muffin pan.  Bake 14-18 minutes (depends on your oven!) or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly.   Allow cupcakes to cool completely!

Frost tops of cooled cupcakes with green frosting.  Cut marshmallows and dip in sugars and place in petal pattern on top of cupcakes.  Use the large ones for the petals, and the little ones (cut in half) in the centers.   *You can get 3-4 petals out of each large marshmallow.  This is a STICKY process, make sure to rinse and dry your scissors often!

ENJOY SPRING, even if your toes are freezing.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Peanut Pretzel Caramel "Crack" Bars

So, for the last few weeks I've had some random ingredients in my cabinet.  I had intended to make Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn's Hot Fudge Sauce , but never had the chance.

Recently, a dear friend lost her mother, and I was making a meal for her.  After making Mama F's Minestrone , I decided I needed to make a dessert.  I've been dreaming of something with peanut butter, caramel, pretzels and chocolate.  Like Take 5 Bars from Hersheys.  Crunchy, salty, peanutty, chewy, sweet, etc.  The Umami of sweet treats.

This is what I came up with, I dare you not to like them.  Or eat them ALL in one sitting!  Oh my!

Peanut Pretzel Caramel "Crack" Bars

Cookie Layer:
1/2 Cup Berry Hill Crunchy Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Grandma's Best Granulated Sugar
1 Golden Hen Egg
1/3 Cup Grandma's Best Flour
1-2 Cups Clancy's Mini Pretzel Twists

Caramel Layer:
1 Package Werther's Original Chewy Caramels
1/4 Cup Friendly Farms Heavy Whipping Cream (you could also use half n' half)

Chocolate Layer:
1 bar Choceur Milk Chocolate Bar

Preheat Oven to 375.

Cream together peanut butter and sugar.  Add egg and mix well.  Add flour and mix until incorporated. Press cookie mixture into a well-greased (or even better, parchment lined) 8X8 pan.  Press pretzels into cookie dough in an even layer.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes until cookie is puffed, golden and cooked through (this will depend on your oven).  Remove from oven to cool.

Melt caramels & cream together in a double boiler over medium low heat (you can also set a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, just make sure the bowl does not touch the water).  This is a slow process, but continue to heat until melted and bubbly.  Stirring frequently with a spatula or other non-stick utensil.  Once melted, pour over cookie layer in pan and spread evenly.  Allow this to cool for a while.

In a glass bowl, break up chocolate.  Melt in 30 second intervals in a microwave until melted and smooth.  Pour over the cooled caramel layer.   Break remaining pretzels over top and lightly press into chocolate layer.

Allow to cool completely.  Then place in the refrigerator.  NOTE:  The chocolate layer will take a while to solidify since the caramel carries such residual heat.  If you cool overnight, it will resolidify without refrigeration.  I chose to refrigerate because I was impatient. :)

Remove from fridge and allow to come to room temp before cutting (this will help avoid cracking and make getting through the caramel layer easier).  If you've used parchment paper, lift it out of the pan to make cutting much easier.  Cut into 16 1" squares.

Eat all of them in one sitting.  Just kidding.  :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I promised you leftovers.....

Well, yesterday, I promised leftovers from the Pot Roast, right?  I'm sure you noticed there was a ton of gravy left.  And if you fought the urge to drown buttered slices of bread with the gravy and eat it all, you have enough to start a soup.  We had about 1 serving of meat left as well.  I always prepare just a little extra for this purpose.  Well, here's what I did with my leftovers.  Add a loaf of crusty bread and you've got another meal.  A light meal, but a meal none-the-less.

"Leftover" Beef Vegetable Soup

Leftovers of Tuesday Night Pot Roast
2 Chef's Cupboard Beef Bouillon Cubes
1 to 2 cups water * To YOUR favorite constancy
1 Cup Frozen Veggies - use what you have, we had leftover peas and corn I threw in
1/2 Cup Brown Rice, cooked noodles....whatever you have to toss in

Break up the leftover beef pot roast into a soup pot.  Add water and bouillon cubes.  Bring to a slow simmer.  Add vegetables and rice/noodles.  Simmer until vegetables are warm.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It Must be Tuesday, Dinner's in the Slow-cooker!

Tuesdays.  I think I actually dislike Tuesdays more than Mondays.  Tuesdays around here are CRAZY!  My oldest has Science, my youngest has gymnastics, my middle has Karate.  We do school in the morning and run all afternoon and evening.  When I finally make it home from the craziness, I am both tired AND hungry.

Enter the slow-cooker.  I truly believe this was the invention that is even better than sliced bread.  A little work in the a.m., and the result is yummy, creamy, warm and cozy food in the evening.  And it's even nicer on days when it's 27 degrees outside, and the weather man is predicting snow in the next 24 hours.  The slow-cooker in my house gets a lot of use.  Especially on Tuesdays.  A couple years ago for Christmas, my mother bought me the Hamilton Beach Slow-Cooker that has one base and 3 different crock styles.  It has a 2 Quart, 4 Quart and a 6 Quart.  It's such a lifesaver.   I love this stupid piece of kitchen equipment nearly as much as my Kitchen-Aid Mixer.  Before I wax poetic about it, I'll move on.

The other invention I like a lot, Reynold's Crock Pot Liners - again, not an Aldi thing, but very cheap at Walmart and other stores....I do get them.  Anything to make my Tuesdays easier.

Well, today is Tuesday.  I confess that one of the ingredients in tonights dinner is NOT from Aldi.  I got a beautiful Eye of Round Roast from Costco the other day, and that's whats sitting there.  Aldi does very occasionally sell eye of round roast, but more frequently sells it's cousin, the Chuck Roast, which would also work in this recipe.  Chuck is also a slow-cooking friendly roast, it just tends to "shred" more than an eye of round.

You will notice that there is a lack of a normal pot roast ingredient in this dish.  Potatoes.  Yes, I did not include potatoes.  Hubby's diet demands that, however, if you choose to add potatoes, you may!

Tuesday Pot Roast

3-4 Lb Eye of Round or Chuck Roast
1 medium onion, large dice
1 stalk celery, cut thin
2 cloves garlic
4 carrots, peeled and cut in coins
1 10 oz package of Baby Bella Mushrooms, stems removed and quarter (reserve stems for the leftover dish from this recipe!)
1 can Fit & Active Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 package Chef's Cupboard Beefy Onion Soup & Dip Mix
1 Can Happy Harvest Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 Can Happy Harvest Tomato Sauce
2 Tbs Baker's Corner Corn Starch
2 bay Leaves.
Ground Black Pepper (fresh if you have a grinder)

Place ingredients in the crockpot in the following order:  onion, celery, garlic, carrots, mushrooms.  Trim outside fat from the roast (this is harder to do on a chuck than a eye round, so feel free to skip on the chuck unless there's a thick layer of fat on the outside).  Liberally pepper the outside of the roast on all sides and place in the slow-cooker on top of the vegetables.

In a medium bowl, mix together mushroom soup, onion soup mix, drained diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and corn starch.  Make sure the cornstarch is fully incorporated and not lumpy.  Pour over the roast and vegetables.  Tuck the two bay leaves inside the gravy.

Cook on low 8-10 hours.  I find that removing the lid the last half hour or so allows the gravy to thicken nicely.   Slice and serve with the gravy & vegetables.  Since we don't do potatoes, we usually serve over Fit & Active Brown Rice OR Mashed Cauliflower.