Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

 Happy Leap Day to All!!

I was on the hunt for an easy to make break fast bar that I could just grab and go throughout the week...  Nothing too...flax-y or granola-y.  I'm not that kind of girl and I'm not going to spend a gazillion dollars on ingredients that are going to be eaten within 3-5 minutes when I'm in my morning daze.

 So, long story short, here's the recipe I found.  So simple.  Took about 7 minutes to prepare (including opening the packages), and then about 30 minutes to an hour to cool.  I sealed it up and have been cutting off bars all week for breakfast.  (Sorry, I was too lazy to cut and store them, I just used my Pyrex cover and stored them on the counter.)

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats {I used instant rolled, even though the recipe said not to)
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (I used more and they were full sized. Shoot me.)

Melt, mix and set. Read the full recipe if you need more directions or better pictures.

I was more than a little sad to reach the end of the container. However, I can't wait to use my leftover supplies to make more!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pizza Balls...

Yes, sigh, more pizza.  Same ingredients, different format...

What's also nice is that I made these up the day before, put some cling wrap on top, and then baked them up the next day.

So simple.

I also found some Classico Pizza Sauce at Target.
Winning sauce, hands down.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Taste of Sweetness Saturday: Savory Goodness

 Today is super sweet, due to lots of brown sugar, and it's also a coronary waiting in the wings.

Here's the Brown Sugar Smokies recipe, from All Recipes.  It doesn't take a lot.  Wrap the smokies in bacon, hook with toothpick, cover with brown sugar, and then bake at 350 until crisp (about 20 minutes, or so).

Super sweet, and oh so good.  You probably won't have any leftovers of these.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sausage Cheddar Balls

Sometimes you get in a meatball rut, you know?  It's so easy to throw together some grape jelly, chili sauce, BBQ sauce, meatballs, or whatever to serve as a warm meatball dish.

Okay, so maybe this sausage cheddar meatball recipe is from Martha Stewart, but it's fairly easy to create, you just have to be willing to get your hands dirty!
 For me, one of the biggest selling points of this recipes is that the meatballs are baked.  Once you've rolled them, you just put them on your parchment paper and bake this up.
The problem?  I thought they turned out a little dry.  Maybe when you're so used to drenching the meatballs in sauces, you forget what normal meatballs taste like.  Regardless, I served them with some dipping sauces, like home made chutney.  Most people, however, ate them as is, so maybe the sauceless balls play!
I love that you just lift them out of the grease before serving.  Save those calories!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Creamy Sausage and Tomato Pasta

 Here's an amazingly quick pasta for a week night.  It's a creamy sausage and tomato recipe.  I had most of the ingredients in the house, although I did have to get the sausage (which Thomas made as I was putting everything else together).

Mix the sauce ingredients together, and simmer for the pasta cooking time, if you'd like a thicker sauce.
 Mix your sauce in with your pasta and toss in the cooked and sliced Italian sausage.

I added about one half cup of Parmesan shreds to the top of the pasta before serving.  It helps to thicken the sauce just a bit.

Thomas liked this recipe since it wasn't overtly tomato based, and it wasn't so saucy that you missed the flavors in the pasta.  Fair play.  I'll definitely make this one again!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Taste of Sweetness Saturday: Oreo Cupcakes

Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend...if you're actually getting  along weekend.  As this is being posted, I'm visiting Thomas, who's in Phoenix for work this month.  As part of his birthday party/'stache bash this year, I made the chocolate cake (that everyone loved), but I also made Oreo Cupcakes and dark chocolate mustache toppers.  The oreo cupcake recipe was originally here.  It is fabulous, promise!

Now, the one thing I had NO IDEA about, was creating a milk and flour roux for the frosting.

That's right.  Roux the frosting.

I don't know that it made a huge difference, as opposed to making any other type of frosting, but it was a new experience for me. 
Then we just added crushed oreos.
Okay, so maybe this dessert was more for me than anyone else.  I did make the mustache toppers though, with a lollipop mold from Michael's.  Sweeeet... 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jalapeno Poppers, revisited

The original recipe is here.  Basically you need a can of crescent rolls, 2 jalapenos, some bacon, and a brick of cream cheese.

Cut the crescent rolls into 16 equal (ish) pieces, add a bit of bacon, jalapeno, and cream cheese.  Then, roll them up and place them on a non-stick cookie sheet (or foil, like I did).

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
 This was super simple, and it melted together so nicely.

I hate wasting time actually stuffing peppers, so this is a great alternative, and it's pretty quick.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For the Love of Chocolate

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today I'll share the most amazing chocolate cake that I've ever made.  I'm not a huge chocolate fan, not like my dear husband in any case, but for his birthday, I found this recipe and thought I'd give it a shot.  It's called the Best Chocolate Cake.  Why would they lie??

The cake was easy enough.  I wasn't terribly excited about a chocolate buttercream frosting with it, though.  So then, I found this recipe for a fudgy layer cake.

I liked the dark chocolate ganache recipe for the frosting from the second recipe more, so I went with that.

Last year, I spent a gazillion bucks on a chocolate cake that Thomas didn't even like.  However, this year, the cake was a winner all around.

I've never really worked with this kind of ganache, but it was simple to work with.  I've never had to melt the sugar and water to coat each layer with.  That was a bit odd.  I'm not sure what difference it made, but maybe it was easier to spread?

no clue.

And yes, I know I'm not that great of a cake decorator, but the ganache firms up nicely, so it's not really terribly necessary to get fancy with it.

All together, it's amazingly delicious.  Thumbs up all around!

Being backlit doesn't make it any less delicious!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Taste of Sweetness Saturday: Key Lime Cupcakes

Once upon a time, when I was a young lass, I dated a Cuban from Miami.  While this experience, in and of itself, was a fun adventure, what I really came away from the situation with was this - I love Cuban food!   I also love the flavors and tastes of southern Florida, including Key Limes

I have since learned that my Key Limes come from Mexico, but the flavor and the memories are there just the same. 

 That being said, when I came across a recipe for Key Lime Cupcakes, I knew I had to try them.  I couldn't wait, and when my (non-Cuban) husband said we had a birthday party to go to, I knew I found my opportunity. 

I was good about following the recipe, even if I was grumbling about sifting my powders three(!!) times.  The only thing I added was one drop of green food dye to the frosting to give that a cool green color as well.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thirsty Thursday: Jack and Coke Slushies

Simple adult slushie recipe...

I made it in bulk, but it starts with 2 cans of Coke (Zero), 6 oz. frozen limeade concentrate, and 6 oz. of Jack Daniels.

Mix them together, put them in the freezer.  Stir occasionally and serve slushie.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Zuppa Toscana, just like the Olive Garden's!

 Making soup in the middle of a SoCal 75 degree winter isn't always the favorable option.  However, I was itching to try this recipe, and the temperature kept rising all week.  Finally, I had to cook the ingredients before worrying about freezing the meats and losing out on my momentum, so I finally broke down and made my Zuppa Toscana.

This is a copycat recipe from Olive Garden.  It was pretty simple to make, super filling, and pretty much spot on.  The only difference I made was using 1 qt. of broth and 2 c of water, and not vice versa.  I would have used all low sodium broth, but ran out!   Oh, also?  I threw the bacon back in at the end.  The recipe didn't call for you to do anything with it other than make grease, but I thought "why waste it?"

Sorry, not much to say about this one except for try it, because it's yummy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Taste of Sweetness Saturday: Snickers!

Home made Snickers?  Sounds like a great way to spend a Friday afternoon, right??
Actually, it's like your entire Friday.  Not because it's really labor intensive, but because it takes a long time to cool all of those layers into their yummy goodness!

 The chocolate, melted with peanut butter, is amazing by itself.  It just means that the chocolate doesn't really set unless cold.  It melts quickly in your hands, so I've found it's better to keep it in the fridge while it's not being eaten...  if you can keep it that long!

The nougat is amazing as well.  I hate working with marshmallows or marshmallow fluff, but it's totally worth it.

I couldn't find chopped peanuts -  is that even possible in this day any age?!  No worries, I chopped them myself with a knife.  I was just surprised, that's all.
It was amazing I didn't burn the caramel.  It goes quickly.  Almost did, but that's what I call the authentic, "home made" effect! 
The hardest part about this entire process is waiting between all of the layers.  The nougat melted the first chocolate layer, the caramel started to soften the nougat, and so on down the line.  I LOVE that the original blogger suggested using a throwaway aluminum pan for this.  It made removal so simple.  The only realy change I made was I cut the 9x13 of Snickers before adding the top layed of chocolate, and then I just dipped the pieces into the final chocolate and drizzled the extra on top.  I made some "bite sized" pieces, but most of them were about 1.5" squares.  Since I've been keeping them in the fridge, thinly slicing each piece helps with eating it, but really it's gone before you care that much, anyway.  Regardless, outcome: AMAZING!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Balsamic Butter Penne with Roasted Asparagus

 This is the week of easy, but amazing, recipes.  I could rant and rave about certain websites, but I know that's getting old.  I just love being inspired!

Today, I kind of think this recipe is akin to mac and cheese.  Not because it is, but because the butter and cheese create that same consistency as when you mix the butter and cheese out of the blue box.

Sorry that there isn't a lot of pictures, but the process goes surprisingly fast (about the time it takes to make the noodles), and I kept forgetting to show my progress!
 The recipe can be found here from Food and Wine.  The only thing that really intimidated me was that I needed to reduce the "1/2 C plus 2 T" down to 3 tablespoons.  It went really quickly, though, mostly because I checked my conversions and I was going from 10T down to 3T, so I was shooting for a reduction of less than a third of the original amount.

Next time, I'll probably use more asparagus, but I'll wait until it's on sale or at our Farmers Market.  I also used a little more than the requested Parmesan cheese, but that can't be surprising to anyone who has read this blog before.