Friday, September 24, 2010

Cakey Fudge Bars

Super easy and yummy! My kind of treat. 

Cakey Fudge Bars
adapted from One Crazy Cookie

1 package yellow or white cake mix (*I used yellow)
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

Combine cake mix, eggs and oil. Press 2/3 mix into a 13 x 9 greased pan.                                                           
Place the butter, milk and chocolate chips in a bowl.  Microwave until everything is melted and smooth. Stir after each 30 seconds. (Approximately  2 1/2 minutes.) (*However I only did it for about 2 minutes and I loved the occasional crunch I would get from the unmelted bits). Pour over top of cake mixture. Drop the rest of the cake mixture on top of the chocolate. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool before cutting. 

*Best served when completely cooled.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin Dump Cake

I think I'm prone to love anything with the title "dump cake". Every one I try is always delicious and it's just so darn easy! My husband loves pumpkin desserts and since it was his birthday last week, we gave it a try!

It was really good and tasted just like a pumpkin pie, with a little kick, would taste like! He really liked it, so that's the real test. I'm not a HUGE pumpkin pie lover, but I enjoyed it. It is definitely better served the next day, right from the both of our opinions. So all you pumpkin lovers out there, give this one a try!

Pumpkin Dump Cake

  • 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon *
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger *
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves *
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg *
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 yellow cake mix (may use a spice cake mix)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter

*or just use 3 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin
 puree, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar and milk. Stir in cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Pour into pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin filling. Sprinkle pecans over the cake mix. Cut butter into slices, evenly spread over the cake mix. (or you can melt the stick and pour evenly over the cake). Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool. Serve with ice cream or whipped topping!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Barbecued Baked Onion Rings

Before I had even gone to the website this recipe was hosted on, I knew it was going to be amazing just because of the name. What an ingenious idea!!! Ingenious it was. We tried these today and boy they made us happy. So good! We also had them with an egg salad sandwich thank you. :) Who doesn't love onion rings, and who doesn't love BBQ? The other bonus? Baked not fried! Go check out her website, see her wonderful photography, and you'll be drooling. :)

Barbecue Baked Onion Rings
adapted from Recipe Girl

1 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups panko bread crumbs
2 medium to large sweet onions, sliced into 1/2-inch rings

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place baking sheets in the oven and let those preheat too. In a medium bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, eggs and flour. Place bread crumbs in a separate bowl. Using tongs (or your fingers) dip onion slice in the barbecue sauce mixture, shake the excess off and then dunk on all sides into the bread crumbs. Lay on a plate, or something, while you finish the rest of the onion rings. Repeat until all onion slices have been dunked. Remove hot baking sheets from the oven and spray lightly with cooking spray. Move coated onions to hot baking sheets. Spray the coated onions lightly with cooking spray. Bake for about 6 minutes, or until golden, then use tongs to turn each onion ring over. Spray the other side of the onions with cooking spray and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Watch closely to make sure they crumbs are not browning too quickly or burning. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie?

I ended the title of this post with a question mark because I'm on a quest. A quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. For me that means a little crispy around the outside edges, and soft and chewy in the middle. This one fits the bill to a T, but I have found a couple other recipes I am going to compare it too. So stay tuned for other posts to see how it compares to the others. So for right now I could say it's the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but I want to make sure!

This one was a lot of fun to make, it's definitely not your regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. They are a little bit more work, and have some interesting techniques, but that's what I like about it! It's probably not one I'd use if I have to hurry and make a batch in 20 minutes, or if I wanted to make 6 dozen or something. And the cookie dough isn't something I could just eat, so be aware of that. The end results were darn good and my husband ranked them in his top cookies of all time. Whoa.... :) I seem to love most chocolate chip cookie recipes, but this one ranks up there pretty high. We'll see how it measures up to the others! Give them a try. You certainly won't be disappointed! 

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from by Bridget and Cook's Illustrated

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar (I only had light, so I used light)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly
until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Do not overcook! Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
(It was more dark golden before the picture, but the unmelted butter has changed the color a bit. You can really tell when it begins to change. It does have a very distinct aroma, almost like peanut brittle (in my opinion), just watch it closely.)
 Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain. Scoop cookie dough with a tablespoon and place on cookie sheet, 12 cookies to a sheet. Bake cookies until golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 7-9 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Coleslaw

My husband and I have made these sandwiches so many times since we first discovered the recipe last year on Our Best Bites. It was love at first bite! Cheesy I know, but oh so true. The secret to the sandwich is the coleslaw. The best coleslaw you'll ever eat, and the only recipe you'll ever own for coleslaw. DELICIOUS! The pair make this BBQ pulled pork sandwich the best! It was perfect for our Labor Day BBQ!

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
taken from Our Best Bites

3 lb. boneless pork shoulder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Smoked paprika or liquid smoke (A little bit of either goes a LONG way)
1-1 1/2 bottles BBQ Sauce (She used Country Bob's All-Purpose Sauce) *I used Sweet Baby Rays, but use whatever you like! I like a little more sauce in mine, so we used just a little more than a bottle.
About 12 high-quality rolls (Best when toasted)
Thick-cut dill pickle slices

Rinse pork roast well in cold water and trim of excess fat. This is important because sometimes, boneless pork shoulder (and bone-in pork shoulder, for that matter) can take on kind of an icky fishy odor and a lot of that smell is in the juices and the fat. Pat dry. Sprinkle roast with seasonings and place in your slow cooker. Add about 1/2 inch of water and cook on low for 8-10 hours. When the roast has cooked, drain liquid and then return to the slow cooker and shred. Pour enough sauce over the meat so it's well-incorporated but not soupy. Return the lid to the crockpot and heat through. When ready to serve, slice rolls, toast under the broiler for a couple minutes, and add meat. Top with coleslaw and a few slices of dill pickle.

Memphis-Style Coleslaw
adapted from Our Best Bites

1 c. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Deli mustard
(*my secret ingredient! You can use any whole grain mustard or even Dijon, but Deli mustard has a little horseradish in it, and I think it really makes it fantastic!)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 heaping tsp. Kosher salt (or an even 1/2 tsp. of table salt)
1 Tbsp. grated onion
2-2 1/2 tsp. celery seed
(a key ingredient, I like closer to 2 1/2 tsp. Really brings out a nice flavor!)
1 16-oz. bag shredded cabbage with carrots (stay away from the very fine shreds because they'll get too soggy)
1/2 minced green bell pepper
1 carrot, peeled and grated

Combine the mayo, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, onion, and celery seed in a smaller bowl. In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, carrots, and green pepper. Toss with dressing and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before to combine flavors. It keeps for up to about 3 days (or when it's unjustifiably soggy).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I have always loved cinnamon cake in all its forms. When I was younger my mom would make sack lunches. When we got to choose our snack, I would choose those Crumb Coffee Cakes from Hostess, over a Twinkie, and I love Twinkies! So that's saying something. :) They were always so sweet and moist and delicious! On Monday I found something even better...

This cake is EVIL! Evil in the way it is so SO good that you can't stop eating it, and you when you do stop eating it, you just end up thinking about how good it is all day long! It is hands down the most moist cake I have ever eaten and one of the BEST. I will forever be thankful to my new friend Tania for sharing with us! They eat this every Christmas morning, and I am thinking we'll just have to follow suit. It totally trumps those boxed coffee cake mixes I know you are all using. So throw them out and make this right now!
Cinnamon Coffee Cake
adapted from Allrecipes via Janis Woods

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix ****
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix ****
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil ****
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup nuts *optional

  • Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan, or a 10 inch Bundt cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, and butterscotch pudding mix. Add the eggs, oil and water, mix until well blended. In another bowl, stir together the brown sugar, and cinnamon (and nuts if using). Pour half of the batter into the pan, spread evenly. Sprinkle with half of the nut mixture.**** Cover with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle with the rest of the nut mixture.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes.

****Other tips and helpful info:
  • Substitute 1 cup oil with applesauce or apple butter. I think next time I'll try 3/4 c nautral applesauce and 1/4 c oil. Everyone says it still tastes fantastic and moist!
  • Switch up the types of pudding you use: my friend used vanilla and banana (was fabulous). You could even try vanilla and cheesecake, or vanilla and vanilla, or whatever!!! 
  • Use a cake mix that doesn't already have a pudding mix incorporated into it. If you do, just use one less pudding packet.
  • If using bundt pan, many others suggested to cook about 10 min. longer, so watch closely.
  • Drizzle a little icing on top of cake after cooking. (1/2 c powd. sugar, 1 T milk)
  • For more swirl effect in cake, use 1/3 batter to 1/3 topping instead of half
  • This cake ages very well! Best served completely cooled.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Baked Ravioli and Zucchini Fries

I love Italian food, and I REALLY love when that Italian food is breaded, and covered in marinara sauce! I knew I had to try this recipe when I saw it. It is BAKED ravioli and not fried. I rarely do fry foods at home. I can't stand the mess, the smell, and the extra fat! Even though these were baked, they still had that same crispy outside, tasted great, and were a healthier alternative to frying. I love when I find another super easy and yummy dish! We can't wait to try them again!

Since I was breading ravioli, I figured I'd bread some zucchini too. I had came across this recipe and set it aside to try some day. Like I said, I love breaded things, and these were baked not fried as well! They made a perfect side dish to my ravioli and I dipped them in marinara sauce instead of ketchup. :)  (I know all of you gardeners will have lots of zucchini to eat at the end of this summer, this would be a fun one to try and just snack on!)
You must try these both today!

Baked Ravioli
adapted from Plain Chicken

*I added a couple things to the bread crumbs to match a breading used in a family recipe that I love!

1 package (9 ounces) ravioli, prepared according to package directions *I used cheese ravioli, but I think next time I'll try meat filled. Switch it up a bit ya know!
2 large eggs , beaten 
2 T milk
1 cup Italian dry bread crumbs 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
1/2 T Kosher salt (coarse salt)
Few sprinkles of salad supreme to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Olive oil cooking spray *I used butter flavored cooking spray
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce *Mine? Ragu's Chunky Garden combo....mmmmm! 

Preheat broiler. Add the milk to the beaten eggs and mix well. Add the Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, salad supreme and garlic powder to the bread crumbs and mix well. Dip prepared ravioli into beaten eggs, coating both sides, then into bread crumbs, coating both sides. Place on baking sheet. Lightly spray top of breaded ravioli with cooking spray.

Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Turn and spray with additional cooking spray; broil for 1 minute or until edges begin to brown. Serve with heated sauce for dipping.

Zucchini Fries
adapted from jodiemo Tasty Kitchen

*I made these before the ravioli, so I just used the same egg mixture and bread crumb mixture for the ravioli. There was just the right amount leftover to do my 9 ounces of ravioli. :) However, I didn't use all the zucchini, only what would fit in my casserole dish.

2 medium zucchinis
2 large eggs , beaten 
2 T milk
1 cup Italian dry bread crumbs 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
1/2 T Kosher salt (coarse salt)
Few sprinkles of salad supreme to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Olive oil cooking spray *I used butter flavored cooking spray
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce *Mine? Ragu's Chunky Garden combo....mmmmm! 

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice zucchini into sticks. In a shallow dish, mix together eggs and milk. In another shallow dish, spread out breadcrumbs. Toss zucchini slices in egg mixture then toss in breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Liberally spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Arrange zucchini in a single layer and then spray liberally with cooking spray. Bake for 10 -15 minutes, flipping slices half way through. Zucchini is done when the breading has browned and zucchini has softened . Serve with a side of marinara sauce! Enjoy!

Black Bean Casserole

Now that I've discovered that I like black beans, I'm exploring other black bean this one! It sounded yummy, so we tried it out and really liked it! Nothing fancy, just your ordinary mexican casserole, but it was easy, and healthy. Actually the ingredients are a lot like black bean and pepper quesadillas, but in casserole form! Don't let it fool ya, I can assure you it tastes completely different! I wasn't sure about the corn tortillas in this recipe. I always prefer flour over corn, but I gave them a shot in this particular dish...and ya know what? It was my favorite part! :)

Prehat your oven to 350 degrees. Then saute your green pepper and 1/2 an onion in some olive oil.

While the veggies are sauteeing, spray your 9x13 dish and layer 6 corn tortillas. I used yellow corn, but white would be fine too.

Once the veggies are nice and soft, throw in the rest of the ingredients....salsa, diced tomatoes, black beans, cumin, and chili powder. *I think next time I will even add in some garlic powder to give it a little more flavor. (Kind of the same flavorings as in my black bean quesadilla mixture, which I LOVE.) **I also thought that some taco seasoned cooked, diced chicken would be good in here too. Maybe next time!

Once you have combined all the ingredients in the pan. Layer 1/3 of that mixture over the corn tortillas.

Next comes the mozzarella!

Then start your layering all over again with the corn tortillas, bean mixture, then cheese. Do this 3 times total and end with cheese. I also topped mine with some sliced olives....very glad I did! Bake for 25-30 minutes, until warm and cheese is melted.


Hubby liked his served with sour cream. Me? Not so much this time. I usually prefer sour cream with dishes like this, but I liked it lots more with no sour cream. Give it a try!

Black Bean Casserole
adapted from Hopeful Homemaker

1/2 onion chopped
1 green pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup salsa
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
18 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
sliced olives
sour cream *if desired

In pan, saute onion and bell pepper in 1 tsp. olive oil.  Add tomatoes, black beans, salsa, chili powder and cumin.  Cover bottom of 9×13 inch pan with tortillas.  Spread 1/3 bean mixture over the tortillas, then layer 2/3 cup cheese over beans.  Repeat layers twice more, ending with cheese.  Sprinkle with sliced olives, if desires.  Cover and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted.  Serve with sour cream if desired.