Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lime Raspberry Swirled Blondies


For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to the blog, "Baking and Creating with Avril."  When you read her profile, you'll find that it's short and sweet.  She states that she started her blog to share her love of being in the kitchen.  Then, once you start perusing her blog, you'll find that it's totally sweet and anything but short.  She has recipes that will have you bookmarking for days, which naturally made it difficult to choose just one to share.  As a result, I went ahead and made TWO of her recipes instead - the Cranberry Almond Cake, and the Raspberry Swirl Blondies.

I dressed up the blondies a bit by adding some lime zest to the batter.  Just so you know, the batter will not look like a lot when you put it into the pan (I almost thought about making more), but it puffs up beautifully in the oven.  Once baked, I finished them off with drizzled white chocolate and chopped almonds.  The flavor combo of the raspberry and lime was fantastic!  And the blondies themselves were chewy, cakey, and melt in your mouth good.  I would love to try these out again using a different type of jam, maybe blueberry, or apricot, yummmmy!!!

Thanks Avril for giving me a keeper of a recipe!

Raspberry Swirl Blondies (adapted from Baking and Creating with Avril)

1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. lime zest (I added this)
1/3 c. raspberry jam

white chocolate, melted for drizzing
1/4 c. chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line an 8x8 pan with foil.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Rub the lime zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant.  Combine the sugar with the melted butter, then beat in the egg and vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Spread evenly into the pan and dollop with the raspberry jam.  Use a butterknife to swirl it into the batter.  Bake for 25-30 min., or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool, then drizzle with the white chocolate and sprinkle with the chopped almonds.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I always find it interesting when I find out what someone's favorite dessert is, whether it be a cookie, cake, pie, etc.  Take my own family for instance.  I love ice cream, my sister loves cookies, my mom's fave is cake, and my dad will take pie over anything else.  The neat thing about knowing someone's favorite treat is that you get to see their eyes light up when you make it for them.  

Case in point.  My friend recently had a birthday.  As I do every year, I gift her with a cookie assortment.  Over the years, I've given her various types - peanut butter, chocolate chip, chocolate mint, snickerdoodles, etc.  But, last year, I happened to make these Chocolate Crinkles for her, and voila!  I found her FAVE cookie in the world just like that.  She raved about them and couldn't get enough.  So, this year, when her birthday rolled around again, I remembered and made these cookies for her.  She was thrilled!!!  As soon as I gave them to her, she opened up the bag and began eating them in complete and total delight.  I have no doubt that the dozen cookies did not last long.  And, who can blame her?  These cookies are amazing!  Rich, chocolatey, fudgy, like a cookie and brownie rolled into one.  With the powdered sugar adding a crispy, sweet, outer shell to counteract the soft, dark middles, they are simply irresistible.  Try them and you're sure to find that they'll be your new favorite too.    
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (from The Moveable Feasts)

 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Combine the butter and chocolate in a double boiler and stir until the mixture melts.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well combined.  Mix in the chocolate mixture.  Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined.  Chill the dough in a covered container for at least 2 hours. 

Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and roll into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in the powdered sugar until completely coated.  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 12 minutes.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Banana Bread

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Danielle's blog, Mostly Food and Crafts.  She is a stay at home mother to two lovely children.  And, from the looks of her blog, she is one amazing mother too. There are so many posts about recipes and crafts that she made, not by herself, but with her children.  I can only imagine how much fun they must have together and how much they are learning every day.  And, since Danielle herself is a fantastic cook and crafter, you know that they're learning from the best!  

While browsing through her blog, I came across some very yummy recipes that I wanted to try:  Toffee Squares (which I still intend to make this week), Rosemary Sriracha Chicken (oh yes!), and her Swirled Pumpkin and Chocolate Cheesecake (decadent and so pretty).  But, the recipe I decided to go with was her Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Banana Bread.  It seemed to combine all of my favorites - banana bread, pumpkin bread, and cinnamon bread, all in one.  Now how could I resist that?

The bread was super moist and flavorful.  And it was interesting because sometimes you would take a bite and taste more banana, and other times you would take a bite and taste more pumpkin.  Of course, all the bites were super delicious and that cinnamon swirl completed the trifecta.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Banana Bread (adapted from Mostly Food and Crafts)

2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I increased this to 1 1/2 tsp.)
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
2 ripe bananas, mashed
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

For the swirl:
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (I increased this to 1 Tbsp.)

Combine the bananas and pumpkin and mix well.  Add in the brown sugar, butter, and yogurt, then beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Combine the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients, mixing till just combined.  Grease 4 mini loaf pans.  Fill each pan with 1/2 c. batter.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Top off with 1/2 c. of batter and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.  Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lemon Almond Crumb Bars

I absolutely love lemon bars.  In fact, once I went on a search for the best one and ended up making three different recipes.  And it seems that my family must love lemon bars just as much as I do because they had no problem gobbling up each of the attempts.  I honestly didn't think that there was a way to make them any better, but I was wrong.  This recipe switches out the powdered sugar topping with a lovely, crumbly, almond-y layer.  Oh my!  It's a great way to counteract the sweetness of the filling and also gives a contrast in texture to the smoothness inside.  I added a little candied ginger too and these bars were oh so tasty.  I think I may have just found my new fave lemon bar. 

Lemon Almond Crumb Bars (adapted from Bake or Break)

1 c. all-purpose flour
pinch salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest

6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
pinch salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold
1/4 c. sliced almonds
3 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter until mixture is pea-sized.  Press into a parchment paper lined 8x8 pan and bake at 350F for 15-20 min., or until lightly browned.

For the filling:
Whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Mix in the lemon juice and zest, then add in the flour.  Pour over the crust and bake 15-20 min.

For the topping:
Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter.  Mix in the almonds and chopped ginger.  Pinch the mixture together to make large crumbs and scatter over the filling.  Bake 20-25 min. (I baked mine for 30 minutes), or till lightly browned and almonds are toasted.  Let cool, then chill in the fridge before cutting into bars. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Double Decker Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher taught us how to make a peanut butter pie.  It was the first time I had ever eaten one and I thought it was the best thing ever.  Naturally, I asked her for the recipe so I could keep making it again and again.  And I did, at least a couple more times.  But, years passed and the recipe got pushed to the back of my box.  Suddenly, the other day, I found myself thinking about it.  But, I figured I would really kick it up this time.  After all, do you know what's better than a peanut butter pie?  A chocolate peanut butter pie, with more chocolate and peanut butter, and Reeses peanut butter cups for even more chocolatey peanut buttery goodness.  Oh yes!  

So, that's exactly what I did.  I filled a crust with melted chocolate, topped it off with the peanut butter cream cheese layer, then made a layer of chocolate cream cheese on top of that.  Drizzled the pie with chocolate ganache and melted peanut butter, and sprinkled chopped peanut butter cups to finish it off.  The result was smooth, creamy, rich and decadent.  It brought back the memories of that pie from fourth grade and is still one of the best things ever.   

Double Decker Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

1 baked pie crust
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Chocolate layer:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. half-and half
1/2 (8 oz.) container of Cool Whip

Peanut Butter Layer:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/2 (8 oz.) container of Cool Whip

For topping:
chocolate ganache
1 Tbsp. peanut butter, microwaved for 30 seconds
5 mini Reeses peanut butter cups, chopped

Bake the pie crust as directed.  Melt the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and spread into the baked pie crust, on the bottom and sides.  

For the chocolate layer:
Combine the chocolate and half-and-half in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave, on 50% powder, for 1 minute.  Stir together until well combined.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the ganache.

Beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar, and then beat in the rest of the chocolate ganache.  Fold in the Cool Whip. 

For the peanut butter layer:
Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and milk until smooth and well combined.  Fold in the Cool Whip.  

For the assembly:
Spread the peanut butter mixture evenly in the crust.  Spread the chocolate mixture evenly on top of the peanut butter layer.  Drizzle with the reserved ganache and melted peanut butter.  Sprinkle with the chopped peanut butter cups.  Chill in the fridge for 4 hours before serving. 

 Chocolate cream cheese layer from Chocolate Chocolate and More

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pasta Salad


It's funny how life as a child seemed so much simpler.  If I wanted carbs, I ate carbs.  If I wanted sweets, I ate sweets.  As I got older, and as my metabolism began to slow, suddenly, it no longer became a question of do I want something.  Rather, it was along the lines of well, I want it, but do I really need it?  Do I really want it?  How long will I have to work out at the gym to burn it off?  

Case in point.  Pasta salad.  I loved it when I was a kid.  Did I care that it was full of carbs?  No.  Did I worry that it was somehow going to end up on my hips?  Of course not!  But, that was then, this is now.  I still love pasta salad.  But, in an effort to keep things healthy, I also add in a lot of veggies, some beans for protein, and use fat-free salad dressing.  And, even with the changes, it is still delicious.  Maybe even more so because of all the yummy add-ins.  I usually put in things like cucumbers, garbanzo beans, red bell peppers, and a few olives to give it a little kick.  The end result is colorful, bright, and tasty to the very last bite. 

Pasta Salad

1 lb. tri-color rotini pasta
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1 c. fat-free Italian salad dressing

Cook the pasta as directed and drain well.  Add the cucumber, bell peppers, garbanzo beans, and olives and toss to combine.  Add the salad dressing and mix until everything is well coated.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until well chilled.  Serve.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cream Pie

Apparently, I've been on a pie kick lately.  Which doesn't usually happen because I'm not a pie person.  I'm much more of a cookie/cake person.  But, my sister on the other hand, looooves pie.  Put something into a pie crust and she'll devour it in no time.  So, after making that Caramel Brownie Toffee Cheesecake Pie, it got me thinking, what kind of pie should I make next?  Chocolate, peanut butter, lemon?  So many choices!  But, I've had this recipe for Coconut Cream Pie bookmarked for like, forever, and I finally decided it was high time I made it.

What I like about this recipe is that the filling is made completely from scratch and not a pudding mix.  Of course, that means it's going to be quite a bit more, shall we say, calorie-laden, what with the use of coconut milk and half-and-half.  Not to mention the fact that it called for a whipped cream topping made with, well, heavy cream, naturally.  I was sorely tempted to go all the way with this one, but I just couldn't do it.  So, I lightened things up by using light coconut milk and a fat-free Cool Whip topping (I know, the "fake" stuff, forgive me).  That said, however, I apparently had no problem with adding some of those calories back in by putting melted chocolate and macadamia nuts onto the crust.  You pick your battles.  :)


The result was a pie that was a dream come true.  The contrast of the dark chocolate against the slightly sweeter filling, as well as the smooth, velvety feeling of the cream on your tongue contrasting with the change in texture added by the toasted coconut in it.  This pie might have been lightened up, but it was by no means lacking.  In fact, it was so good, I'm making another one again this week.  Oh and as a sidenote, I also loved it frozen (but that's just me). 

Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cream Pie (adapted from Favorite Family Recipes)

1 (9-inch) pie shell, baked
1 1/2 c. half and half
1 1/2 c. coconut milk (I used lite)
2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flaked coconut, toasted 

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 c. chopped macadamia nuts

 Cool Whip (8 oz. tub)

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave at 50% power for 2 minutes, or until smooth.  Spread on the bottom and sides of the baked pie shell.  Sprinkle half of the macadamia nuts onto the chocolate.

Combine the half and half, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla in a saucepan and keep whisking, over low heat, until it boils.  Keep cooking and whisking until the mixture thickens up to look like pudding, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add 3/4 c. toasted coconut and the vanilla extract.  Pour into the pie crust and chill 2-4 hours.

Once it has chilled, top with the Cool Whip.  Sprinkle on the remaining toasted coconut and macadamia nuts.  Drizzle with more melted chocolate, if desired. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mushroom Orzo - SRC

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Mellissa's blog, A Fit and Spicy Life.  Upon visiting her blog, you'll notice that she does a lot of cooking.  And to balance out all that good eating, she also does  a lot of working out.  Add those two things together and that is how she came up with the name of her blog.

Upon searching through her blog, I saw a lot of recipes I wanted to try such as the Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta Chicken, Ginger Lime Beef Stir Fry, and her S'mores Granola Bars.  But, the one that caught my eye the most was her mushroom orzo.  I remember when I was a kid, I did not like mushrooms at all.  But, fast forward to the present and I can't get enough of them.  Plus, I just happened to have some orzo in the pantry as well.

Apparently, when making this, I didn't read the instructions quite as well as I should have.  So, I missed the part where it said to actually cook the orzo before you add it in.  As a result, I added the orzo into the pan, uncooked, and then wondered why it wasn't getting soft, even after the liquid was gone.  Perplexed, I just kept adding more broth, as though I was making risotto, until finally, one extra cup of broth later, the orzo was finally done.


Although I made that one small mistake, the orzo still turned out fantastic.  It amazed me how the mushrooms added such a bold, rich flavor to the dish.  In fact, I didn't even need to add a lot of salt, just a mere pinch, which is always a good thing since I try to keep my dishes low in sodium.  Top it off with a little cheese and you've got a dish that will leave you craving for more. 

Mushroom Orzo (adapted from A Fit and Spicy Life)

3/4 c. uncooked orzo
3 c. mushrooms (I used criminis)
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/4 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper to taste
parmesan cheese 

Melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and let cook on medium-high heat till they release their liquid.  Add the broth, vinegar, and orzo.  Keep cooking and stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Keep adding more broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until the orzo is soft and cooked through.  Top off with cheese if desired.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Caramel Brownie Toffee Cheesecake Pie

It was a typical Sunday afternoon.  I sat around, browsing the Internet, wondering what I should bake this weekend.  You see, my younger sister loves sweets.  So, every weekend, I try to find something new to make for her, and the more over the top the better.  Then, I came across a recipe for Kraft's Cream Cheese Brownie Pie.  Oh my gosh, that was it!!!  Just think of it, fudgy brownies, rich cheesecake, and pie too.  A triple threat.  And I just so happened to have all the ingredients, too, lucky me. 

I decided to dress it up a bit and make it even more decadent, because, well, why not?  Either go big or go home.  So, I added toffee pieces to the cheesecake layer, drizzled the whole thing with caramel and melted chocolate, and sprinkled even more toffee on top.  Oh baby!  Eating this is like a dream come true.  Chocolate, caramel, cheesecake, it's a party in your mouth.  I promise that you will take a bite, smack your lips, and swoon in delight.  I know I did. 


Caramel Brownie Toffee Cheesecake Pie (adapted from Kraft

1 refrigerated pie crust

Brownie Layers:
6 oz. semisweet chocolate (I used bittersweet chocolate chips)
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour

Cheesecake Layer:
1 pkg. cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/3 c. toffee bits + more for sprinkling on top

caramel sauce (for drizzing)
melted chocolate (for drizzling)

For the brownies:  Melt the chocolate and butter together on 50% power in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, until melted completely.  Stir to combine.  Mix in the sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs.  Mix in the flour until just combined. 

For the cheesecake:  Beat the cream cheese with the sugar.  Beat in the egg till well combined, then stir in the toffee bits. 

For the assembly:  Spread 1 cup of brownie batter in the pie crust.  Pour on the cheesecake mixture and spread evenly.  Dollop on the remaining brownie batter and spread as evenly as possible.  Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely.

When cooled, drizzle with caramel sauce and melted chocolate.  Sprinkle with toffee bits.  Chill the fridge until ready to serve.   

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blueberry Breakfast Bar


For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Amanda's blog, Dancing Veggies.  Oh my word!  Her blog is an absolute treasure trove of vegetarian recipes.  I roamed from one section of her site to another, going from recipe to recipe, in absolute glee.  Quinoa Vegetable Curry, Spring Orzo, and Zucchini Rice Casserole.  It all looked so good.  But, I was craving something sweet (when am I not), and also happened to have berries in my freezer, so I decided to make her Blackberry Breakfast Bars.  The only changes I made was to sub out the blackberries for blueberries and make a little more of the dough (cause I love a lot of crumbs on top).  

The bars were so good.  I made them on a day that was a little chilly, but these bars warmed me from the inside out with the soft, buttery crust and juicy, sweet blueberry filling still warm from the oven.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream would be just the thing when eating these.  I'd love to go back and try them with the blackberries too, or even raspberries, yum!  These bars were the best.  

Blueberry Breakfast Bars (slightly adapted from Dancing Veggies)

2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
2 tbsp cold water (I omitted this)
1 tsp. salt (decreased to 1/2 tsp.)

For Filling:
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine the flour, sugars, and salt.  Cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas.  Press half the dough into a parchment paper lined 9x13 pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes.
Combine the applesauce, sugar, and flour.  Stir in the blueberries.  Spread the mixture evenly over the crust.  Crumble the rest of the dough on top and bake for 40 min.  


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake

Several times a year, I make birthday cakes for friends or family members.  Last year, when it was my friend's birthday, I asked her whether she wanted a s'mores cake or a chocolate chip cookie dough one.  She chose the s'mores.  So, this year, when her birthday rolled around again, I decided that I'd do the chocolate chip cookie dough one.

For the decoration on top, I decided to make some mini chocolate chip cookies and spiral them on top.  You can use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe if you want.  I used the Tollhouse Cookie recipe since it's quick.  To make them mini sized, I found that I had to scoop the dough no larger than the size of marbles.  Honestly, I've never made such tiny cookies in my life.  I was worried they might be too small, but they were just right.  Baking them for 11 minutes makes them a little crisp, but after sitting on top of the frosting for a while, they will soften up.  And, baking them firmer to begin with also ensures that they won't fall apart as you lay them on top of each other. 

I also decided to use a few of the cookies to decorate the sides of the cake.  I got a little whimsical and made some of the cookies look like a bite had been taken out of them.  I promise, it only "looks" that way.  I did NOT go and take a bite out of those cookies myself and then put them onto the cake.  :)

The cake was amaaazing!  I was absolutely thrilled with the way that it came out and the way that it tasted.  My only change would have been to put even more cookie dough balls into the frosting middles.  But, even so, this cake was enjoyed by all.    


Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake  

Golden Vanilla Cake (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

2 c. sugar
3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and sift the mixture.  Mix in half the flour mixture, then all the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture until well combined.  Divide into two greased and floured (I also line the bottoms with parchment paper) 9-inch round pans.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for at least 10-15 minutes before removing from the pans.  Then let cool completely on wire racks. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (slightly adapted from Recipe Girl)

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Cream the butter with the sugars.  Beat in the milk and vanilla.  Add the salt, baking soda, and flour and mix well.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  Chill the dough in the freezer until firm, about 30 min.  Once chilled, form the dough into marble-sized balls and keep them chilled until ready to use. 

Buttercream Frosting (Sweet as Sugar Cookies)

2 1/2 c. salted butter, softened
6 1/4 c. powdered sugar
5 tsp. vanilla
1-2 Tbsp. milk (to desired consistency)

Beat the butter in a stand mixer until creamy.  Beat in the powdered sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the vanilla and add milk as desired until you reach your desired consistency.  

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies (slightly adapted from Tollhouse Cookie recipe)

1/2 c. + 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. egg
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Mix in the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Chill for 30 minutes in the freezer until firm.  Form the dough into marble-sized balls and drop onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350F for 11 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool.

For the assembly:

Slice each cake layer, horizontally, into two layers.  Place one layer on a cake plate and spread with 1/5 of the frosting.  Stud with half of the mini balls of chilled cookie dough.  Place the second cake layer on top and spread with 1/5 of the frosting.  Place the third cake layer on top, spread with 1/5 of the frosting and stud with the rest of the mini cookie dough balls.  Place the fourth cake layer on top and cover with the rest of the frosting, saving about 1/2 cup of frosting for decoration.  Once the cake is completely frosted, use the reserved frosting to pipe a decorative border around the top and bottom of the cake.  Take the baked chocolate chip cookies and spiral them on the top of the cake.  You can also use several of the cookies and place them around the sides of the cake, if desired.   

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Honey Garlic Glazed Meatballs - SRC


After a good long break, it was time to get back into the swing of things with the Secret Recipe Club.  And, to make the new year even brighter, we're starting it off with some new members.  Yay!  It's always a lot of fun to be able to "meet" new people via their blogs and to have a fresh batch of recipes to choose from.  Speaking of recipes, this month I was assigned to the blog, "Colie's Kitchen," and holy smokes, she has a TON of recipes.  It was like an encyclopedia's worth of gastronomic goodies.  I've often had trouble narrowing things down in the past, but this time, the task seemed almost impossible.  What about her Honey Garlic Glazed Meatballs, Beef Asian Meatballs, or the Meatball Sub Casserole?  My gosh, that's just the meatballs!  Then, I began looking at her chicken recipes.  There was Salsa Chicken Casserole, Crustless Pot Pie Over Biscuits, and Mushroom Spinach Chicken.  Can't forget the veggies either:  Sesame Roasted Carrots, Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Garlic Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms.  At the end of this fine, virtual feast, I came to dessert - Nilla Wafer Banana Bread.  Oh, I have died and gone to foodie heaven.

But, who is "Colie" of Colie's Kitchen, you ask?  Let me introduce you!  Her name is Nicole and she is well-rounded in every sense of the word.  Mother, wife, college student, couponer, crafter, scuba diver, snorkeler, and, of course, cook.  She even plays ice hockey.  Yes, she does it all!  I highly encourage you to visit her blog and see all the delicious goodness in person.


It was a tough job narrowing down my recipe list, but I finally decided to go with the Honey Garlic Glazed Meatballs.  They looked simply irresistible.  And believe me, they were!  The sauce was slightly sweet, tangy, and finger-licking good.  I added some cayenne pepper to kick things up a notch too.  There was enough for my dinner one night and, even better, enough for leftovers the next two days too.  I enjoyed every single meatball and wished I had more of them when they were gone.  I'm definitely going to add this to my list of keepers.

Thanks Colie for your amazing meatballs!

Honey Garlic Glazed Meatballs (slightly adapted from Colie's Kitchen)

1 lb. cooked meatballs
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. honey
3/4 c. ketchup
3 Tbsp. soy sauce  
cayenne pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients for the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the meatballs and cook until nice and hot. 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels


Recently, it was my sister's birthday.  So, naturally, I asked her what kind of cake she wanted.  I already had cake decorating ideas spinning in my head.  To my surprise, she said that she didn't want any cake.  Whaaat?  I tried to convince her otherwise.  No, no, of course you want a birthday cake.  It didn't work.  She wasn't going to change her mind. 


But, surely there's something that she must want, right???  As it turns out, there was something that she had been dreaming of - chocolate dipped pretzel rods.  Huh?  Why that?  She said that she had always seen those lovely decorated pretzels in candy shops and wished that she could buy them, but they were so expensive.  She would be over the moon if I could make her some pretzels for her very own. 


Well, that's no problem at all.  I gathered up all the little decorating goodies I had been amassing - mini chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, sprinkles, peanuts, and peanut butter chips - and put them to good use.  An hour later, there were 24 bright, beautiful pretzel rods all in a row, just for her.  She was thrilled!!!  It was just the way she wanted them and she couldn't wait to eat them.  Birthday wish fulfilled! 

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

24 pretzel rods
1-lb chocolate flavored candy coating
1-lb vanilla flavored candy coating
decorations of your choice (mini chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, chopped nuts, and sprinkles)

Melt the candy coating in the microwave.  Dip each pretzel rod into the candy coating until covered as desired.  Lay out on a sheet of parchment paper to set for about 1 minute.  Cover with your desired decorations.