October 9, 2011

Chocolate Crunch Brownies

Making brownies was not on my agenda today.  But as I was looking through recipes, came across this one from a friend from our wedding shower over 2 1/2 years ago now.  It sounded like it would be a great treat and I just needed one ingredient to make them.  So, I hopped on my bike (my new favorite thing to do), rode up to the grocery store, put the marshmallow fluff in my basket and rode back home.

This was such an easy recipe and oh my gosh, are these good brownies.  Make them now, you will not be disappointed!  The brownie part itself is a nice light cake texture and paired with the fluff and crispy chocolate topping, it is a total winner.  Must wash it down with a glass of milk because they are sweet and chocolatey.  Yum.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
6 Tbsp baking cocoa
1 cup flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups rice cereal

1. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar; add eggs.
2. Stir in cocoa, flour vanilla and salt. 
3. Spread into a greased 9x13x2 baking pan
4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in the center.
5. Allow to cool, spread marshmallow fluff over the cooled brownies
6. In a small sauce pan, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly.
7. Remove from heat, stir in the cereal.  Spread over marshmallow layer.
8. Chill before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

September 1, 2011

Beef Nacho Casserole

This recipe is another recipe I received thanks to All Recipes email.  It caught my eye as something easy to make and simple ingredients that we always seem to have on hand.  I made it tonight and it is definitely something we will be keeping in the rotation.  I did make a few small tweaks based on some of the suggestions from the reviews which I noted in the ingredients.

1 pound ground beef
1 1/2 cups chunky salsa
1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained (I used Mexicorn to add some more kick)
3/4 cup creamy salad dressing (e.g. Miracle Whip)
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used taco seasoning)
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
2 cups Colby cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring to crumble, until evenly browned.  Drain grease. Remove from the heat, and stir the salsa, corn, mayonnaise and chili powder into the beef. In a 2 quart casserole dish, layer the ground beef mixture, tortilla chips and cheese twice, ending with cheese on top.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered in the preheated oven, until cheese is melted and dish is thoroughly heated.

August 23, 2011

Cheddar Beef Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a favorite dish over here and it had been a while since I had made them, so I decided to find a recipe for one that I could use some ground beef with.  I found this recipe on All Recipes and decided to make it.  I did alter some of the ingredients based on what we prefer, but it was a keeper!  Super easy to make and I love that it splits in half perfectly to freeze for a later date.

 This is the non-cooked freezer version.  I forgot to take a picture of the cooked one before we ate it all!


1 pound ground beef
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
1 cup water (I actually used 2 cups since I cooked the rice when I the seasoning was added)
2 cups cooked rice
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
10 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa (I used enchilada sauce...just our preference)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted (I used cream of mushroom, again our preference)

  1. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in rice. Cook and stir until liquid is evaporated. OR, you can add the rice uncooked after the meat is cooked and drained, along with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for around 20 minutes.
  2. Spread about 2 tablespoons of refried beans, 1/4 cup beef mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese down the center of each tortilla; roll up. Place seam side down in two greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dishes.
  3. Combine salsa and soup; pour down the center of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake one casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Cover and freeze remaining casserole for up to 3 months.

To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.

August 21, 2011

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream Frosting

A friend of mine posted how she had won 2nd place in a contest at Nino Salvaggios for her Strawberry Cupcake recipe and I just had to get the recipe and try it out.  It is amazing!  She did a great job and it was pretty easy to make as well.  I can see this becoming a summer staple in our house!

Makes 24 cupcakes

Strawberry Cupcakes
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
1 cup milk
2½ cups finely chopped fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with a spatula.

Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling each about ¾-full.  Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
1½ cups fresh strawberries (8 oz.), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Puree until completely smooth.  Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved. (I didn't have a candy thermometer and just watched it and mine turned out OK!)

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer – don’t worry, it will come together!)  Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

**For the frosting, I usually ½ the recipe and it is enough to frost all of the cupcakes.

August 15, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

I had been saving an email I received back in the spring from All Recipes.com that contained all strawberry and rhubarb items.  I love that combination, but the timing was not good for baking.  I was 9 months pregnant and not in the mood to bake!

Here we are, 4 months later with a 2 month old baby boy who allowed me to make this coffee cake while he napped.  I was finally able to get to Eastern Market last week for their Tuesday Market Day with Miles and picked up the strawberries and rhubarb to do some baking.

This cake was pretty easy to make and is really good!  It is super moist and am looking forward to making it again to do a better job cutting the butter into the topping. 

This isn't my picture, but this is what mine looks like (courtesy of All Recipes).  The rhubarb filling is a thin layer so it doesn't over power the cake.  Yummy.

 Here is the recipe..enjoy!


2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced strawberries, thawed (I used fresh)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine

1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan; stir in rhubarb and strawberries and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until thickened, about two minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and let cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.

3. Combine 3 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Stir egg mixture into flour until just moistened. Spoon two-thirds of the batter into prepared pan; evenly spread on the cooled filling, then cover with remaining batter.

4. In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour, and cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

June 5, 2011

Yarn Wrapped Wreath with Felt Flowers

I am not the "crafty" type, however, I have been eye-balling wreaths like this on Etsy for close to a year but never made the decision to buy one due to price.  I have been wanting a new spring/summer front door decoration and I decided to take the plunge this morning and attempt this wreath.

I Googled a couple blogs for directions and thought it looked easy enough.  Heck Fridays had both a post on making felt flowers as well as wrapping the wreath.   I printed off some JoAnn's coupons and off I went.

Total cost of making this wreath was right around $10.00 in total.  I did have to buy a hot glue gun because the one I had went missing, but I was shocked at the end cost once I totaled it all together.

14 inch straw wreath - $2.99
120 yards of yarn - $1.97 (I found a color I liked in the Clearance section)
4 9x12" squares of felt @ .34 cents each - $1.36
Spool of ribbon - $3.79

The most time-consuming part was wrapping the wreath with yarn.  Since I picked a thicker yarn, I just wrapped it once.  Heck Fridays did theirs twice, but I didn't want to spend another two hours wrapping it twice...I thought it looked fine one time around with keeping it pretty tight when wrapping.

I did experiment with trying out the two different flowers like Heck Fridays had, but the long petaled ones looked awful when I tried them, so I stuck to the roses.  I followed the directions and before I knew it I had the amount I wanted for one side of the wreath.

I made a few different sizes of roses and was surprised how easy they were to make.  I ended up not even tracing the swirl and just free-handed it and I think mine came out pretty well!

All in all, it took me about 3 hours to do and I am pretty happy with the end-result!

February 14, 2011

Chocolate Sheet Cake (a.k.a Texas Sheet Cake)

I grew up having this a lot at family parties, where I knew it as Texas Sheet Cake, so I was happy to find a recipe that seemed like its twin in the Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook by Ree Drummond.  I brought this into work today as a birthday treat celebration for my manager as well as a Valentines' Day goodie.

This was so easy and didn't require any crazy ingredients.  I had everything on hand...which was awesome!  I love it when I don't have to grocery shop in order to make something.

Here is the recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website, which has lots of great step by step pictures to follow.  I also stole her picture, because I love the aqua plate!


2 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
2 sticks Butter
1 cup Boiling Water
½ cups Buttermilk
2 whole Beaten Eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla

½ cups Finely Chopped Pecans
1-¾ stick Butter
4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
6 Tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 pound (minus 1/2 Cup) Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.

Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan (12x18) and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

January 30, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I had the urge to bake something this weekend, so I look through my new Barefoot Contessa cookbook I had gotten for Christmas from Steve, How Easy is That? .   I love a good cupcake, so I wanted to try Ina's recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  It really was simple to make and I had all the ingredients at home, so I fired up the mean green Kitchen Aid mixer and got to baking.  Ina did not disappoint yet again.  This frosting is soooo good.  There was some leftover and I considered just eating it plain right then and there, but decided to just throw it in the fridge for something else I can make later...maybe some pumpkin muffins from a pre-made mix thanks to Trader Joes.

This recipe made only 15 cupcakes which is a good amount.  I am planning on bringing some into work to share with my team as a early Valentine's Day treat!

Cupcake Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra large eggs at room temperature

Frosting Ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature  (I told you this frosting is to die for)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Cupcake Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa power, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.

In a electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute, until light.  Add the eggs one at a time until combined.

With the mixer at low speed add the dry ingredients and wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure batter is mixed.

Scoop batter into the muffin cups with an ice cream scoop or large spoon (almost 3/4 full).  Bake for 25-30 minutes (**I am not sure if it was the foil liners I used or my Williams Sonoma Gold Touch muffin pans, but mine were ready about 23 minutes in**), until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.  Cool completely and top with cream cheese frosting.

Frosting Instructions
Place cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until just combined.  Don't whip!  Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

January 6, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I have had this recipe since November 2008 and never had a chance to make it.  It is from the first issue of the Food Network Magazine and is their attempt to copy the Cheesecake Factory's pumpkin cheesecake.  I was very excited to make this for my family's Thanksgiving, but June Bug had other plans.  I was so sick for 48 hours straight, there was no way I could have made this!  So I decided to make it for my family's Christmas Eve celebration.

Everyone loved it and it was relatively easy, but time consuming, to make.  I have made a cheesecake before, but this one required the pan of water to bake it in, which the one I made previously did not.  That was my only complaint with this recipe.  That part was kind of a pain.  Another side note, I am sure sure if I didn't press the crust enough or if my springform pan was 9" rather than the 10" they recommend, but I had some extra batter.  I apologize for the low quality picture...It was one I took with my phone and I never went back to take one with my real camera later!

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I chopped them up in my food processor)
2 3/4 cups sugar
2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
6 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (I just used Pumpkin Spice for this)
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves (again, just used the Pumpkin Spice for this)
Whipped cream (optional)
Toasted pecans (optional)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325.
2. Brush a 10" springform pan with some of the butter.  Stir the remaining butter in with the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.  Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan packing it tightly and evenly.  Bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the pan in foil and place inside roasting pan.
3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth.  Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed.  Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs and vanilla, 1 teaspoon of salt and spices and beat until just combined.  Pour into the cooled crust.
4. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don't pull the rack out...this is what they say, I had to.  I was pouring water all over the inside of my stove) and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan.  Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is loose, about an hour and 45 minutes.
5. Turn the oven off after the hour and 45 minutes, and open the door briefly to let some of the heat out.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack.
7. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
8. Bring the cheesecake to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.  Unlock and remove from the springform pan to serve.
9.  Add whipped cream and toasted pecans if desired.


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