Archive | January 2011

Cookies ‘N Cream Birthday Bark

Oops. I did it again…another birthday dessert. I promise this isn’t a birthday blog! Lately, it just seems like one of my friends has a birthday each week. But another birthday means another excuse for a new dessert. I won’t say no to that!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve made a trip to the grocery store, so I had to make do with what I had on hand. Somehow, I mustered up dark chocolate, white chocolate, oreos, cake mix and rainbow sprinkles. It did the trick! Within 30 minutes, I whipped up a new favorite “bark” dessert This is a spin off of the cake batter bark I made a few weeks ago, and it’s even more decadent. What do you get when you add two layers of oreos, and double the cake mix? DOUBLE COOKIES ’N CREAM CAKE BATTER BARK. Good thing I had a ribbon on hand…I had to tie the package shut to stop snacking. Get this stuff out of my apartment…it’s addicting!

Double Cookies ’N Cream Cake Batter Bark

12 ounces dark chocolate (I used ½ Hershey‘s, ½ Dove Dark)
12 ounces white chocolate (I used Nestle)
3 Tbsp. yellow cake mix
One sleeve oreos
Sprinkles

1)Crush Oreos and set aside. Melt dark chocolate either in the microwave or a use a double boiler on the stove.

decadent dark

 2)Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the chocolate on it. Sprinkle crushed oreos over the chocolate layer. Smooth with a spatula. Stick in the freezer for 15 minutes.

layer one

3) Melt white chocolate. Whisk in cake mix, stirring well until the batter is smooth. Let it set for 3 full minutes (or at least until it slightly thickens).

white choc.

4) Remove baking sheet with chocolate from the freezer and immediately pour the white chocolate on top. Sprinkle on remaining oreos, and then the sprinkles. Freeze for another 15-20 minutes.

layer 2

5) Once set, break into chunks. Keep refrigerated, and if these are a gift, consider taping the container shut.

birthday bark

 

happy birthday :)

The best part about making this dessert (besides the end result of course), is the minimal cleanup. I used 1 bowl, 1 spatula, and a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet wasn’t even dirty. Parchment paper is a blessing!

What’s your favorite birthday dessert?

Sticky Maple-Cashew Popcorn

Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately…it can be incredibly healthy or extremely indulgent. Lucky for me, I stumbled across a popcorn recipe that was both indulgent AND healthy. Here’s the thing, my sweet tooth becomes a raging problem around 9 p.m. every night. While I typically reach for frozen yogurt or ice-cream to fulfill my cravings, I‘ve been so cold lately that I‘ve been reaching for warm cookies or candy instead. Not the best alternative, especially so late at night. In an effort to eat a healthy late-night snack, I’ve been eating warm buttered popcorn. Delicious, however it doesn’t exactly fulfill my sweet tooth. Salty, yes. Sweet, no. (Those darn Pretzel m&m’s, they sparked a sweet and salty love inside of me!) This recipe fit the bill: sweet, salty, crunchy, delicious. Plus, it made a big enough batch to last for a few nights, and was just as tasty three days later!

Ingredients
1 bag lite butter popcorn
1/4 cup cashews (mine were lightly salted)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light maple syrup ( I used Aunt Jemima’s Lite)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp. dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. Pop popcorn. Once popped, pour in large mixing bowl and stir in cashews.

Salty

2. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool 1 minute.

Sweet!

3. Pour hot syrup mixture over popcorn mixture; toss well to coat. Immediately spread popcorn mixture out onto prepared jelly-roll pan. Cool 3 minutes.

Salty 'n sweet!

the whole batch

 

4. Melt chocolate chips in microwave, drizzle over your serving of popcorn!

The original recipe called for ground red pepper to make this a spicy snack, but I preferred to leave it sweet. Next time, I’m going to use candied pecans. The possibilities with this recipe are endless. Take note, you will need paper towels on hand–this is a sticky treat, but a delicious one, to boot!

dark chocolate topping..no words

Cereal Coated Crispy Chicken Fingers

Crispy chicken fingers, crunchy French fries…heart attack on a plate?! While typically unhealthy fare, it doesn’t have to be, and it can still be delicious. Growing up, fast food was a rare occurrence in my household. I never understood why my Mom didn’t want us eating these types of foods on a daily, weekly, or even a monthly basis until I started to care about nutrition and whole foods. When I was younger, this led to over-ordering and extreme excitement whenever I walked into (or drove through) Wendy’s or another popular fast food chain. Why get a small fry when you can super-size for only .50 cents more? But something occurred over and over again: I always loved eating the food, but I hated how I felt afterward. I’d have a stomachache, indigestion, heartburn, the list goes on! About mid-way through college, I stopped eating fried foods (except for the occasional sweet potato fries-can’t help it!) because of these feelings. However, I really missed my chicken fingers. When I stumbled across this recipe from cooking light, I knew I wanted to recreate it, while putting a spin of my own on it too. Quaker Honey O’s cereal seemed like the perfect addition to add an extra “crunch” to this chicken. Don’t believe me? It’s so crunchy, I refuse to eat it at work, in fear that my co-workers will hear me chomping away! I was right…it added an extra crunch and a hint of honey that blended well with the spices and additional panko mixture. This has become a weekly staple in my cook book. It’s a great dinner dish, but also spruces up salads and sandwiches, too. You won’t think it’s healthy…it’s that good!

Ingredients

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole-wheat panko crumbs
¼ Quaker Honey O’s cereal (crushed in a food processor)
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or one package of boneless, skinless chicken tenders)
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
Cooking spray

Preparation

 

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow dish; Wisk and place egg whites in a bowl.

3 simple steps

3. Blend honey O’s in a food processor until fairly smooth. Place with panko in a shallow dish.

Honey O's

 

blended honey o's

4. Dredge 1 breast half in flour mixture. Dip in egg whites; dredge in panko/cereal mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken, flour mixture, egg whites, and panko/cereal mixture.

5. Coat large ovenproof skillet with cooking spray. Heat ½ tablespoon oil in pan as well over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes. Add remaining ½ tablespoon oil. Turn chicken over; cook 2 minutes. Coat chicken with cooking spray; place pan in oven. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes.

stovetop strips!

cooked n' crispy

 

full plate!

Cinna-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Bars

It’s been a month of birthdays, and that means its been a month of baking! I’m not
complaining. I love birthdays, and it’s the perfect excuse to make a special treat (not that
I need an excuse!). I had originally made some of my special chocolate chip bars for a
particular birthday girl last week, but never ended up seeing her. This led to me eating the
entire pan by myself. UGH, the horror of living alone! :)

That being said, it was essential that I made her a new batch this week. But these aren’t
any ordinary cookie bars. These are Cinna-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie bars.
Hopefully you’re not sick of rainbow sprinkles…I still have ¾ of the jar left, even after
all these treats! I can promise you’ll be seeing them again (:

Oatmeal Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Original recipe is here

Ingredients
 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups Quaker oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup cinnamon chips (I used Nestle)
Sprinkles!

Directions

1)Heat oven to 350°F.
2) In large bowl, beat butter and sugars with electric mixer until creamy.

mixing away the delicious dough

3)Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
4) Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well.
5) Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, and chocolate chips; mix well.

pure deliciousness

6) Press dough evenly into bottom of 9×12-inch pan. (the original recipe uses a skillet,
which is a fun concept that I’ve used before, but I wanted these in a bar formation!)

i may or may not have eaten that spoonful :(

7) Bake 18-20 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Cool about 10 minutes.
Optional: Serve with ice cream.

birthday bars

As a side note, I’ve made this recipe multiple times without an electric mixer, and
they’ve come out just as well. I think it’s all about the butter consistency. If you soften it
in the microwave on partial power for roughly 30-45 seconds, rather than melting it, the
bars have a near perfect consistency-chewy, sweet, dense, and packed full of whole-grain
oats. Plus, with only one stick of butter rather than the two typically found in most cookie
recipes, these are a healthier version of a decadent treat.

two saved for me :) the rest for the birthday girl!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Birthday Cupcakes

I have a cookie dough addiction. Along with my cookie addiction, cake batter addiction…do you see a pattern? There are worse addictions out there…so I’m okay with it, and when a birthday rolls around…I succumb to my addictions. Since one of my co-workers celebrated her 25th today (the last major birthday until 30 in my opinion!) , I figured she needed some killer cupcakes to celebrate. What’s better than chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes with cookie dough frosting? I can’t think of much!

birthday cupcake

These are surprisingly simple to put together, and truthfully taste 100 times better than boxed cupcakes. Seriously, I love my Funfetti, but these put them to shame! Plus, I used part whole-wheat flour and skim milk, so they’re healthier, too. All you really need is a hand mixer, two medium-sized mixing bowls, and a spatula (for scraping and licking of course). The ingredient list is pretty short, the dough is darn tasty, and don’t even get me started on the frosting…thick, creamy, sugary, perfection…with a birthday sprinkle twist.

I’ve been in a sugar coma since making it last night, but since I licked the bowl clean, I deserved it!

Make these and you’ll be in the same coma…it’s a great one, I promise!

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup white flour, ½ cup whole wheat flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk ( I used skim)

1 cup chocolate chips

 

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350.

2) Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla.

the first mix

3) Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk.

gradually add the dry

4) Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients.

5) Add chocolate chips.

Line your cupcake tins and pour batter. (Make sure you save yourself a taste!)

Bake for 18-22 minutes at 350. Let cool, then frost.

cooling time

 

Cookie Dough Frosting ( I halved this recipe, it’s a lot of frosting!)

2 sticks butter, softened

1 1/2 – 2 lbs powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk ( I used low-fat)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix butter and powdered sugar together, adding sugar gradually to the mix. Add vanilla. Mix in milk, adding more if needed. Continue to add milk and sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. Mix in chocolate chips. (and sprinkles!)

i ate that spoonful...

the final batch

 

I had hoped the birthday girl liked cookie dough, I took a guess, and thank goodness she did. She ate one for breakfast! A few comments from my co-workers included “Best cupcake I’ve ever had” and “ I’ll be visiting your bakery”. A bona fide success! I’m off to eat the last one and remain in my sugar coma! Jealous?

What’s your favorite cupcake recipe?

 

 

 

The recipe behind my cookie addiction

It’s only fair that I reveal this recipe. After all, its put most of my friends and family into a cookie coma at one point or another. I’m going to claim that it’s my Mom’s fault, since it’s her recipe! Of all of the desserts she makes, this one is the most simple, and most likely will sound pretty average to you: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. But allow me warn you…it’s not average. I’ve had this memorized since I started to bake. It’s that good, and once you make these, you may never go back to pre-made cookie dough….you won’t want to! On a countless number of occasions, I’ve eaten so much dough that I haven’t been able to fill the baking pan…major oops.

I bake these at least once a week, mostly because I never get sick of them, and I typically have the ingredients on hand at all times. These are my go-to dessert for office parties, cookie swaps, and get-togethers with friends. Just make sure you keep one for yourself…they seem to disappear VERY quickly. A guaranteed hit for any occasion. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 stick butter
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 ¼ cups white flour
1 cup (or as many as desired) milk or dark chocolate chips (I used dark!)
1 cup heath-bar bits(optional)
cooking spray

Directions

1)Preheat oven to 350

2) Soften butter in the microwave on low power—do not melt.

3) Once the butter is softened, mix in sugars with a spatula.

4) Once mixed, add in both eggs and vanilla. Stir until mixed.

5) Add baking soda, and gradually add the flour.

6) Once mixed, add chocolate chips.

7) Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until browned. (I like mine slightly undercooked. That way, they stay doughy when they’re cold!)

 

freshly baked

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thick, dense, doughy, chewy.  Good luck eating just one :)

Not Your Average Roasted Vegetables

Looking for a way to spruce up your salads or put a new spin on veggies? You’ve found it. Move over, roasted vegetables. There’s a new queen in town. Say hello to our honey maple roasted friends.

Originally from Cooking Light, I modified it slightly and used what I had on hand, plus added some light maple syrup for a little extra sweetness (I couldn’t help it, it’s my ever-present sweet tooth talking).

This recipe is ever-so simple and ever-so yummy. The only thing you have to have patience for is chopping the vegetables. Chop, Mix, Bake, Eat. It’s as simple as that.

Honey Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients

 

2 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 1 large)

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled butternut squash

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped parsnip (about 2 medium) —I used more!

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrot (about 2 medium)

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons light maple syrup (I used Aunt Jemima’s)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

Directions

 

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine all ingredients except the cooking spray in a large bowl; toss to coat.

chopped

Place vegetable mixture on a jelly-roll pan coated with tinfoil and cooking spray.

baking

Bake at 450° for 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown, stirring every 15 minutes.

honey maple goodness

If you read the original recipe, you’ll notice I substituted butternut squash for turnip, eliminated the shallots, and added in the maple syrup. With their measurements, this serves 8. I maybe got five servings out of my batch? I’ve enjoyed it as a side, on my salads, in a sandwich, and straight from the fridge!  I like to think a vegetable addiction can be classified as a good addiction. :)