Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Improved Chocolate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tweaked this recipe just a bit. I still have the original recipe on my blog  (very first cookie recipe I ever posted) but I'm posting this with my tweaks. I took these cookies to my office on my last day there (moving offices) and they loved them. I think it's the butter rum extract that just added that yummo flavor. Enjoy!!

IMPROVED CHOCOLATE OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Cream together:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Add:
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 teaspoon butter rum extract
Mix well.

Whisk together in a separate bowl:
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder ( I use a good dark dutch cocoa powder)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add to chocolate mixture, and mix well.

Stir in:
1 cup of quick Quaker oats
1 to 2 cups chocolate Chips (depending how chocolaty you want them) I use half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half milk chocolate chips.
 Drop by tablespoons full onto greased  or parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten just a bit with your fingers. Bake in 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes!! Enjoy!!

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

I love cheesecake..... my hubby's birthday was coming up and knowing that he LOVES peanut butter when I ran across this recipe, I just knew I had to make it for him. It was YUMMO! I love the peanuts in the topping and in the crust...they added a bit of saltiness which is good in a rich cheesecake. I think next time I make this I will add a few more peanut butter cups... but it was still yummy.  I followed the recipe almost exact, but I did tweak just a bit taking some things that I had found on other recipes that sounded delish and adding to this recipe. If you make this just have plenty of friends around to help you eat it, it's rich so you can't eat a very big piece! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
**Please note--this is a Plan ahead cheesecake, it needs to chill for at least 4 hours

For the Crust:
4 1/2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar

To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combined the crushed graham crackers, sugar, and peanuts with the melted butter. Pat the crust mixture into a 10-inch springform pan. Be sure to pat crumbs up the side of the pan. Bake the crust for 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool

For the Filling:
4 (8oz) packages cream cheese
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 Reese's Peanut Butter cups, broken into small pieces (I might try 2 packages mini reese's next time I make this)

To make the filling:
Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Next add the sugar, peanut butter and whipping cream; mix until smooth.
Stir in the vanilla, then gently fold in the peanut butter cups with a rubber spatula.
Pour the filling into the crust. Place in a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil (you want this to be one piece and fold up the sides, you are going to place the cheese cake in a water bath and don't want water to seep into the spring form pan) Place the aluminum protected spring form pan into a larger baking pan. Place in the oven and pour hot water into the bigger pan until it comes 1 inch up the spring form pan. Bake at 275 for 1-1/2 hours or until firm and lightly browned. (if cake is not quite set, turn oven off and let sit in oven for another half an hour) Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and aluminum foil.

For the topping:
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup  unsalted peanuts

Combine Sour cream, sugar and peanut butter , mixing until smooth.  Spread over cheesecake and return to the 275 degree oven for 5 minutes.
Let cool for one hour on a cooling rack. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on the top. Refrigerate for another 4 hours before serving.
Enjoy!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sweet Spicy Shredded Pork

I came up with this recipe on my own.... My hubby and I have been eating LOTS of salads lately, and sometimes I get tired of cut up grilled chicken on mine. I love the pork that a popular restaurant puts on there salads so I tried to recreate it. This was awesome on a salad or in a quesadilla....would also be great as a filling for tacos with a cilantro lime coleslaw on it. YUMMO

Sweet Spicy Shredded Pork
a 2 or 3 pound pork roast (i like to use pork blade roasts)
1- 10 oz can medium enchilada sauce
1- 4 oz can diced green chilies
2 packed Tablespoons  brown sugar
ground chipotle pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Pour half the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a large crock pot. Place your pork roast in next and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little chipotle pepper.
Add the brown sugar and green chilies to the other half can of enchilada sauce and pour over the roast.
Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours until pouk is falling apart. Remove pork and bones from crock pot and throw away the bones. Next, strain the juice into a large skillet and bring to a boil; simmer until it becomes slightly thickened.
While your sauce is reducing shred the pork. Once the sauce is thickened add your shredded pork and the chilis that are left in your strainer (be sure you have removed any bones.) Toss to coat the pork in the sauce. Taste at this point, add more salt and pepper and more chipotle pepper if desired for more heat.
This is so good on a salad with a cilantro-lime ranch dressing or in a taco or quesadilla or a burrito with beans and rice, there are lots of things you can do with this yummy pork. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Almost Famous Crunchwraps

I love fast food and eating out... but sometimes it can be expensive. Sometimes at home I try to come up with my favorite fast food items that I crave. I LOVE Taco Bell and their nacho cheese sauce...and I love the Crunchwraps especially. I decided to try to make my own  and this is what I came up with. Pretty easy once you have all the stuff and the fillings are prepped. YUMMO! We ate ours with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks. Now isn't that better for you than actually eating out with soda and everything???

Almost Famous Crunchwraps

1 to 2 -lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 to 2 cloves minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon minced garlic that comes in a jar )
1 packet taco seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 package large flour tortilla's (the largest you can find)
tostada shells
1-15 oz. can Rico's gourmet nacho sauce (or your favorite nacho cheese sauce, Ricco's just has the taste of Taco Bells)
1 cup sour cream (or more, depending on how much you like on each one and how many you're making!)
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 or 3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 or 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
Cooking spray

Directions:
In a large skillet brown the ground beef, onion and garlic together over medium/high heat. Drain of the excess fat (if there is any) Add your taco seasoning and water and cook according to the packet directions. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.
While the hamburger is browning,  warm up your nacho sauce in a small saucepan.....
                                  (here's a pic of the can of Ricco's)
Also place the flour tortilla's on a microwave safe plate, cover with a damp paper towel and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. You need to be able to fold them without them cracking. Also in case you haven't seen tostada shells before here's a picture of them. There are a lot in a package... I couldn't find a smaller one, but the leftovers are great crunched on top of a salad..... or just for a snack! :)
Preheat another large skillet over medium/high heat.
Now to assemble the crunchwraps:
Place 1 flour tortilla on a cutting board or other flat surface. Spoon browned meat in the center, making a circle about the size of a tostada shell. Then drizzle the nacho sauce over the meat.
Next, place a tostada shell on top of the nacho sauce and spread a little sour cream on the top. Then add shredded cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.
Now fold the the tortilla: start at the bottom and bring the edge up to the center ( or as close to the center as you can. It doesn't matter if there's a little hole in the center) Continue folding this way working around in a clockwise direction.
Spray skillet with cooking spray and carefully place crunchwrap folded side down in the skillet. Cook until it's golden brown on the bottom, about a minute or two, then flip over and cook until that side is golden brown. Continue to cook all your crunch wraps this way.
I served mine with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks. Enjoy!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mini Key Lime Pie Tarts

I think I have mentioned before how I love anything Key Lime..... I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and had to give them a try. We had a St. Patrick's Day Salad Bar at work, and knowing me, I thought this would be a perfect bite size dessert to take. The original recipe is here but of course I tweaked mine just a bit. I noticed it didn't have any sugar in the crust...what kind of pastry would that be without sugar!!! Thought it must have been left out on accident from the recipe. So I added it to mine and also I didn't have macadamia nuts....but I did have almond flour...so I thought I'd try that. Then for that crunch that would be missing from lack of nuts, I had some toasted coconut crunchy topping that I got from the Prepared Pantry. You know the crunch coconut that is often on top of maple iced donuts! YUMMM so I thought that would be perfect in these. If you don't have them, regular toasted coconut would work just fine. I made the filling as the recipe said, but I added a bit of citric acid to the lime juice...just gives it a bit more tang. LOVED these! I didn't have any left on my tray by the end of the day at work. Enjoy!

Mini Key Lime Pie Tarts
Crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup toasted coconut crunch topping (or regular toasted coconut)
Dash of salt

Filling:
2 egg yolks
1/2 (14 oz) can  sweetened condensed milk, (2/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest ( basically most of 1 lime zested)
1/4 cup lime juice ( bottled or fresh)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon citric acid, dissolve this in the lime juice before adding to the filling.
2 drops green food coloring.

Whipped cream for garnishing

Directions:
-In a medium bowl, combine butter and cream cheese. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. Add flour, powdered sugar, almond flour, toasted coconut and dash of salt. Beat on low speed just until combined. Cover and chill for 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Shape dough into 24 or more balls. Press each ball evenly into the bottoms and up the sides of 24 ungreased 1-3/4-inch muffin cups. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 to 15  minutes or until edges are just turning golden brown. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack.
-Meanwhile, for filling, in a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with a whisk. Gradually whisk in sweetened condensed milk. Add lime peel, lime juice with citric acid in it, and, if desired, green food coloring. Stir just until combined (mixture will thicken slightly).
Spoon about 1 tablespoon filling into each pastry cup. Bake about 8 minutes or until filling is set in center. Cool tarts in pan on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove tarts from the muffin cups. Transfer tarts to a wire rack; let cool. Chill for 2 to 3 hours or until completely chilled. Just before serving, top tarts with Whipped Cream and if desired, toasted coconut. Makes 24-30 tarts.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti


We decided to have a Valentines Party at work last week. Trying to figure out what to bring is always fun, I like to bake a recipe I haven't tried before. Yes, my office co-workers are my guinea pigs. I ran across this recipe here and followed exactly how they had it. I also made these cookies which are on my blog. This is a crunchy, twice-baked Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti dipped in chocolate. I dipped mine in ganache rather than melted chocolate (I had some leftover from a cake, so it was nice to use it up). This is a really good recipe either way you dip it.  If you have ever eaten Biscotti you know it's a rather dry cookie but pairs well with coffee or hot chocolate. I like it plain.. I LOVED this recipe ...isn't anything with chocolate and almonds delicious anyway?? Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Biscotti:4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup  Granulated Sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 & 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour*
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/3 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup dried cherries
Chocolate Dip:
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
2 teaspoons shortening

Directions:  
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add in eggs and extracts and beat until well combined.With mixer on low, add in flour, cocoa, almond flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix just until combined.  Stir in chopped almonds and cherries. On parchment-lined sheet, form dough into a log, 14” long and 3” wide.  Use a bench scraper to smooth the top, if needed.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.  Spray baked dough with water and let sit and additional 5 minutes. Remove to a cutting board.  With a sharp knife, cut dough crosswise, into strips about 3/4"-1” wide.  Place cut strips back onto cookie sheet, standing upright. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until dry (time will vary based on the thickness of the cookies. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool completely on a wire rack. Line another cookie sheet with waxed paper.
To dip, melt 2/3 of chocolate chips and shortening in microwave.  Start with 45 seconds on 50% power.  Stir.  Continue at 30 second intervals, stirring after each until melted.  Stir in remaining chocolate chips until smooth. Dip bottom of biscotti into melted chocolate. Place onto waxed-lined cookie sheet.  Place in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to set. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells


I love pasta...and pesto, and sun dried tomatoes....and when I saw a similar recipe to this on Pinterest it got my ...inventive juices flowing??? I love to experiment with recipes. I tweaked the recipe to my taste....used more cream cheese and sun dried tomatoes. The first time I made it, I didn't use marinara sauce, was good but lacking something. So when I warmed it up the next night I used the marinara sauce....sooooo much better and just what this recipe needed. YUMMO! I might try using a small carton of recotta cheese next time I make this instead of the cream cheese... would be yummo too!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta

3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)

1/4 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil

2 cups (approx) chopped cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced

8-oz, package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping

1/2 cup grated mozzarella Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar Marinara sauce or your favorite spaghetti sauce (I like Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce)

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking:; place your sun-dried tomatoes and a little of the oil, the pesto, cooked chicken, and garlic in a medium size skillet; saute and stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes so the chicken gets coated with the pesto and the garlic cooks. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, Parmesan (except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping) and Mozzarella cheese, stir to combine. Then add the chicken mixture; stir again to combine. 

Taste at this point and add salt and pepper as needed.
Spread about 1 cup (or more, depending on the size of your baking dish) of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. 
Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish. Place a spoonful of marinara sauce over each stuffed shell. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.
Serve with crispy french bread and a side salad. YUMMO!