Sunday, October 31, 2010

Heavenly Brussels Sprouts Lardons

One of my favorite holiday side dishes is Ina Gartten's (Barefoot Contessa) Brussels Sprouts Lardons!  They are incredible and a huge hit at every family gathering.  Really, how could they not be with salty pancetta mixed with sweet raisins!  Get high quality pancetta because the reward will be more than worth it. 

I drool just thinking about taking a delicious bite of this little bit of heaven on a fork.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I encourage you to try something new for your gathering and I promise it will be LOVED!  My husband who was not a brussels sprouts lover now eats them all the time.  This is his favorite way, but on weeknights we mostly just roast them as this is a special occasion dish.


2 tablespoons good olive oil
6 ounces Italian pancetta or bacon, 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts (2 containers), trimmed and cut in 1/2
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (low sodium)

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan and add the pancetta. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is golden brown and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper to the fat in the pan and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the raisins and chicken stock. Lower the heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. If the skillet becomes too dry, add a little chicken stock or water. Return the pancetta to the pan, heat through, season to taste, and serve.

"Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Scarlet Threads and Scentsy

Hey there fellow foodies! This is a post about food without a recipe.  I was turned on to an amazing company, Scarlet Threads and am hosting a party!  There is some infomration following on them and I thought you all might be interested because you can wear their products while cooking!  The other, Scentsy, well it gives you the smell of deliciousness on days you don't want to fire up the oven!  I'm thinking of having my first give welcome on how to do this!

Let’s have a party to celebrate the empowerment of women half a world away. Scarlet Threads is a fairtrade organization that is dedicated to providing rural Chinese women a pathway out of poverty through
dignified employment. Work. Dignity. Beauty.

What does Scarlet Threads make? You guessed it, aprons! As well as bags, children’s dresses, and traditional Chinese crafts. We all love an excuse to have fun, dress up, shop and eat well. What if, this time, it is for a good cause? Come over, we’ll try on aprons, which will protect us from some incredible Hors d'oeuvres while we thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

Maybe you’ll fall in love with an apron, or with the mission, or both!

It's a great time to start Christmas shopping and support the empowerment of women! Naturally there will be yummy food and tasty drinks!

Check out their website for more information and to preview the products:

In conjunction, there will also be plenty of Scentsy availabe! Talk about Christmas shopping all in once place, whether for you or someone else!

Scentsy has some amazing seasonal scents and wamers in addition to their normal amazingness!

Preview Scentsy here:

I'm so excited and cannot wait to see you all at the party! If you cannot make it there are online shopping opportunities that you can attach to my party. Please contact me with any questions!

The party is on Saturday, September 18th! ;)


Monday, August 9, 2010

Heavenly Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This is easily the best chocolate cake I have ever indulged in!  Thanks to Lisa over at The Cutting Edge of Ordinary for sharing this addictive bit of goodness.  I followed the recipe to a T and used applesauce like she recommended.  There was a tiny applesauce incident the second time I made this cake.  Not really sure how it happened, but the applesauce jar fell from the counter and busted all over the floor.  I cleaned up the mess and knelt down to wipe up the sticky applesauce residue - well, all the glass was not cleaned up.  My knee found it and I lost a lot of blood, but survived.  I'm sitting here debating on getting in the shower because we all know how bad that burn is - especially with a cut this bad.  I won't go into too much detail, but there is some "floppage."  With that being said, mmmmmmm - enjoy the best chocolate zucchini cake ever.  This is the kind of recipe that makes you toss out the old standbys because it is so wonderful!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Courtesy of The Cutting Edge of Ordinary courtesy of Bon Appetit, November 1995

2 ¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup applesauce instead)
2 large eggs
1 teasoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 ½ medium)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional, I left them out)

Preheat oven to 325.

Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan, or a bundt pan. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt into a medium bowl. Beat the sugar, butter and oil in a large bowl until well blended. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk in 3 additions. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Herb Crab Salad Stuffed Avocado Goodness

We love avocados and we love crab meat.  When we saw this tasty combo in the August 2010 issue of Everday with Rachel Ray, it was a no brainer that we had to try it.  It's a great light and healthy summer meal.  Healthy is such a relative term - according to our lifestyle it's healthy.  Good fats and nice lean meat, plus low carbs.  Well, to my dear husband low carb is sinful, but I like to eat lower processed carb meals. 

This is something that can be mixed up with various herbs.  We grow fresh sage and basil, so that is what we used. 

Herb Crab Salad Stuffed Avocados
Adapted from August 2010 Everyday with Rachel Ray

2 T chopped fresh herbs (I used basil and sage)
1/3 C Mayonnaise
1 t Red Wine Vinegar
Pinch Pepper
2 Cloves Garlic
1/3 C chopped celery
8 oz. Lump Crabmeat
4 Pitted Avocados, Halved

Chop garlic cloves and sprinkle a little bit of salt on them.  Work chopped cloves with the side of the knife blade smashing the garlic against the cutting board until the garlic is pastelike. 

In a small bowl combine the fresh herbs, mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, smashed garlic, pepper, and celery; mix well.  Add in the lump crabmeat and spoon into the avocado halves.  Enjoy because these are delicious!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Aggie's Kitchen Roasted Veggie Pesto Pizza

I've been gone for a couple months; mostly busy with school and homework.  Downloading the pictures  for this pizza made me realize how many recipes I have to post.  It has been so long that  I had forgotten about some of the things I made.

This is by far one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten in my life.  It's a veggie lover's dream, and meat could also be added if desired.  I made a few modifications to the recipe posted below.  I made a basic pesto, which follows the pizza recipe.  I also bought a fresh cooked italian herb pizza crust from our local Farmer's Market.  That part is really up to one's taste and could be adjusted.  I hope you love it as much as we did!

Roasted Vegetable Pesto Pizza
Courtesy of Aggie's Kitchen

store bought or homemade pizza dough
1-2 red bell peppers, chopped (I used 2)
1-2 zucchinis, chopped (I used 2)
2 yellow squash, chopped
red onion, chopped (I used 1/2 of a large)
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
store bought or homemade pesto
pine nuts
mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, toss veggies, olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread evenly on large baking sheet and place in a preheated 425 degree oven. Roast vegetables for approximately 20-25 minutes, tossing about halfway through.

Spread pizza dough out on flat surface. Work dough out, pulling and stretching gently until reaching desired size. I use a pizza stone and try to get the dough just slightly larger than the stone since it does tend to shrink back slightly.

Spread pesto evenly over pizza dough. Spread roasted vegetables over pesto. Top with pine nuts and mozzarella. Bake in 425 degree oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until dough is golden brown and cheese is melted. Be sure to lift pizza up and check that the bottom is browning as well. If it is not, place on lower rack for a few more minutes.

Basic Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (use the REAL stuff - it'll make all the difference)
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves (more or less depending on size of cloves)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine the basil and pine nuts; pulse several times.  Add the garlic and pulse a few more times until the garlic and pine nuts are tiny pieces.  Slowly drizzle in the EVOO while the food processor is still running.  Scrape down the sides and add the grated parm cheese and pulse until well blended.  Add salt and pepper, adjusting to your preferred taste.

If the basil or garlic are overpowring, add some more cheese, nuts and EVOO.  Approximately 1 C.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I've been obsessed with oven baked sweet potato fries for at least 10 years now.  They are so delicious and one can flavor them with a plethora of spice combinations.  Mexican sweet potato fries fit into my most recent meal.  They turned out excellent and they always disappear too fast.

2 Sweet Potatoes
2 T Olive Oil
1/2 T Cinnamon
1/2 T Cumin
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  I was too lazy to get a teaspoon out, so I just used 1/2 tablespoon for the cumin and cinnamon.  I also added a sprinkle of sea salt w/out measuring it.

I halve my sweet potatoes first, then cut the half in half, then cut that into fries.  There might be an easier way, but this works for me, and I keep all my fingers. :)

In a bowl, toss the uncooked fries w/the olive oil, then add in the seasonings.  Spread the fries out on a baking sheet and place them in the oven.  They usually take anywhere from 20-30 minutes, and be sure to flip the fries half way through baking so they do not get burned on one side. 

Super simple, super tasty, and super healthy!

Getting ready to go in the oven



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookies (To-Date)

I rarely follow a recipe exactly as stated. I often times adjust it before I even try it, and sometimes combine 3 or 4 recipes that offer different things I like. Well, as odd as this chocolate chip cookie recipe seemed to me, I decided to follow it (did not even include my usual cinnamon that I put in almost all baked goods). It paid off, this cookie is amazing! I even weighed the ingredients down to the ounce. It was actually much easier then I had ever anticipated; I had lots of time while the butter was browning and Matt was stirring it for me. I left out the nuts b/c I do not like nuts in really any of my baked goods, and I made the cookies a little bit smaller than suggested so we would have more to eat and share. These cookies disappeared fast, I'm sure only to reappear on my rear!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies courtesy of Cooks Illustrated


1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Chocolate Chip Cookies are so yummy to look at!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Guacamole Taco Burgers

Here's a super easy recipe that ended up amazing!  We used Laura's Ground Beef for the burgers, hit them with the homemade taco seasoning (recipe here), topped them with homemade guacamole (recipe here), colby jack cheese, and some amazing carmelized onions.  We finished it off with a EVOO'd whole grain bun grilled outside with the burgers.  The taco seasoning mixed with the ground beef made for some really tasty burgers.  Grilling outdoors feels great and we've gotten a few nice days here in the Midwest lately.  Try this one, you won't regret it!  Just look at those carmelized onions, beautiful green guac, and melting  colby jack!

I caramelize onions by sautéing them in olive oil and butter seasoned with salt and pepper. When the onions start to get a light brown color, I add a little bit of sugar, and mix it in well. Then I reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. I prefer caramelized onions to sautéed. I never measure the butter and oil, but I’d say, depending on how much onion one has, about 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil. I also use approx 1T of sugar.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spanikopita (sorta) Meatballs and Fresh Tzatziki

Matt and I LOVE Greek food.  It has a very special place in our life and hearts, so when I saw these on a fellow bloggers website, I knew they were in our near future.  You can find the original recipe here, along with a lot of other tasty dishes.  I only altered 1 or two things; I left out the grill seasoning b/c we did not have any.  Tzatziki is an amazing Greek cucumber yogurt condiment; but we've been told by our Greek friends that us wimpy Americans must have our Tzatziki with sour cream.  Well, I wouldn't have any of that b/c I want the real deal!  And this is the real deal and it was AMAZING!  The first night we ate our meatballs and tzatziki in an Ezekial pita, but ate them without the pita the following night.  They were delicious both ways.

Spanikopita Meatballs

1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted (used Green Giant)
1 C crumbled feta (we used fat free)
1 lb. ground chicken
2 t oregano
2 t onion powder
2 t garlic powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper season to taste
juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a kitchen towel or cheesecloth, squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach.  Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients, and mix with your hands until well incorporated.  Roll the mixture into meatballs (I made about 30 of them, they were on the smaller side) and place on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a little bit more olive oil and place in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, turn over and bake another 10-14 minutes or until the meatballs are golden brown and cooked. 


2 C Greek yogurt (used Oikos brand)
1 large english cucumber, peeled, shredded, and drained (make certain it is dried well)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 T mint, chopped
1 T, dill chopped
1 ounce lemon juice (about one lemon)
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the yogurt, line a strainer with a cheesecloth and set over a bowl.  Put the yogurt in the strainer, loosely covered, and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.  Discard the liquid and use the strained yogurt as directed.

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight before serving. 

This is totally worth the work, I think.  It was so tasty and I love the traditional flavors over the Americanized version.

Brown Sig

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Italian Sausage Soup

A couple of weeks ago, we made a big pot of Italian Sausage Soup.  Cold weather and winter has a way of pushing us towards making warm, comfortable, tasty dinners that will last for a few days.  This soup was very, very good and really helped warm us up in the middle of an endless winter!  We have no pictures at all of this one, but it's definitely an appetizing looking soup with the array of colors and flavors.

Enjoy it as much as we did.  It's very easy to put together and makes enough for 3 or 4 meals easy.

Italian Sausage Soup courtesy of

1 lb sweet or hot italian sausage (we buy the sweet italian turkey sausages in the casing and remove the casing)
1 clove garlic, minced
28 oz reduced sodium beef broth
1 can italian stewed tomatoes
1 can Great Northern or cannelini beans, drained
2 small zucchini, cubed
2 cups frozen chopped spinach
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Brown sausage with garlic in dutch oven.  Stir in broth and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. 

Stir in beans and zucchini.  Cover and simmer another 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Add spinach and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.  Serve with garlic toast croutons or eat it right out of the pot, it's amazing either way!

Brown Sig

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taco Night Amped Up and Healthy (yes it still tastes good)

We had the most amazing taco night ever!!!  Matt made me homemade guacamole and some bean and corn concotion that was out of this world.  We made homemade taco meat seasoning and used grass fed ground beef.  MMmm, I could eat this every night.  I did not get a good picture of the guacamole, but you can see it's very fresh - plastic wrap lines and all.  It is such a gorgeous color and whispers come hither to me from the fridge.

Matt and I love being in the kitchen together and this dinner was no different.  I think a lot of our meals taste so delicious because we create them together and share the love of cooking and eating.  I was super excited for Matt to try grass fed ground beef and the taste difference in flavor.  I'm really big into organic and whole foods, but he loves preservatives, haha. 

Coming soon....chicken spanikopita meatballs and fresh authentic tzatziki!

Taco Seasoning

2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1.5 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
dash of cayenne pepper or more to suit your taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large skillet I browned the beef with a chopped onion and then drained the very little fat that was in the beef.  Place the beef and onion back in the skillet and add the taco seasoning and a 1/4 c water. 

Guacamole from Tyler Florence
4 ripe avocados
3 limes, juiced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 serrano chiles (Matt left these out)
1 big handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Halve and pit the avocados.  Scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon into a mixing bowl.  Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them somewhat chunky.  Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together to gently mix.  Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn't brown and refrigerate overnight before serving.

BEST GUACAMOLE I've EVER eaten!!!  I could eat this until my belly hurt it was so good.  He only used 2 limes because one of them provided LOTS of juice.

Matt's Bean and Corn Concotion
1 can black beans
1 can mexi-corn
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Olive Oil

In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute the chopped onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.  Add beans, corn, and lime juice; heat through and serve. 

This was very good and we ate it in our tacos.  It would also be good as a dip for tortilla chips!

Mmmm, the finished product getting ready to go into my belly!!!! 

Brown Sig

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trail Mix Granola Bars

Fay goes to school full time while she also works full time.  She's always on the go and looking for a healthy, filling snack to keep her brain working at the speed of her body!  I make these bars occasionally and pack a container in her car for her to eat at will while she's on the go.  These bars are absolutely phenomenal and you can make them in about a million different ways.

These bars are adapted from a Smucker's recipe.  I've changed it considerably to suit our needs.

3 cups Rice Krispies
3 cups Cheerios
1 cup raisins (we prefer the golden raisins)
3/4 cup sunflower seed and pepita mix
1 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1-16oz jar Smucker's Chunky Natural Peanut Butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine cereals, raisins, and sunflower/pepita mix in large bowl.

Combine honey and sugar in medium saucepan; heat over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for one minute.

Add peanut butter and vanilla; stir until peanut butter is melted.  Pour over cereal mixture and mix well.

Spray a 13 X 9 pan with non stick cooking spray.  Press mixture into pan.  Cool and cut into squares.

Brown Sig

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Favorite Soup Recreated

Stuffed green pepper soup has always been my favorite soup.  It's so warm, yummy, fresh, and filling.  It's like a party in your mouth.  PK has always had my favorite, but now I can make it and never have to wait until the 3rd Thursday of every month before I get my favorite tasty soup.  I hope you try it, and love it as much as I do.  It makes a huge pot, which is even better because I LOVE leftovers. 

I have four green peppers pictured, but only ended up using three.

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup
1 lb. ground beef (I used venison)
3 green peppers, diced into bite sized pieces
2 small onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and Pepper
32 oz. can reduced sodium beef broth
1 beef boullion cube (optional)
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
26 oz. can Cambell's tomato soup
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
1.5 to 2 cups cooked Quinoa (you could sub rice; cook the Quinoa according to the package directions, but 1 cup dry should be around 2 cups cooked.)

On a stove-top over medium-high heat, brown meat in stock pot with onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add green peppers and cook until slightly tender (about 10 minutes).  Then add the remaining ingredients, except the Quinoa.  Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, then add the quinoa and serve.

I used venison, which is very lean and did not need to drain my meat.  This turned out better than I could have dreamed!!!

Brown Sig

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Neely's Cookies and Cream Cake

Mmmmm, this was so delicious! The recipe was adapted from the Neely's recipe. I changed the order in which the ingredients were mixed because the original directions were really odd. I love Oreos and they did wonders for an otherwise simple chocolate cake. I know I've expressed that I do not love chocolate in the past, but we sure make lots of chocolate desserts. I make it because Matt loves chocolate so much and it makes him happy. Plus, it's easy for me to resist it; unless the chocolate comes in the form of the flourless chocolate cookies. I hope ya'll enjoy this cake as much as we did! I used all my Oreo crumbs, but sprinkling some on top would make this cake even more beautiful!

On a serious note, please support Haiti and check out the cookbook that 27 foodie bloggers created as a cool! You can go to the website by clicking here and can purchase a soft or hardbound cookbook!

Neely's Cookies and Cream Cake

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 1.5 t baking powder
  • .5 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 C unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1.5 C finely chopped Oreos
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat your cake pans w/shortening. Cut out a piece of wax or parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom of your cake pan, and press down; it will stick to the shortening. I usually trace the bottom of the cake pan onto my wax paper and then cut it out. No fear of your cake sticking anymore!!
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolk, and butter milk; mix until the eggs are blended. In a small bowl combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the melted butter to the egg and buttermilk mixture. Beat until smoth, about 3 minutes. Add the crumbled cookies and beat until incorporated.
Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool, on a rack, in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a rack and let cool completely. When cooled, frost with the cookies and cream cheese frosting!
Cookies and Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 (8 oz.) pacakges cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 C confectioners' sugar
  • 1.5 C finely crumbed Oreos
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla; blend. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 C at a time, until smooth. Beat in the crumbled cookies. Frost the cookie cake and enjoy!

Brown Sig

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Well, here I am again with one of the recipes I mentioned in the Snicker Cupcake entry. These are called Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops and they're the best flour-in chocolate cookies I've ever had. These were so chocolately and delicious! You'll see in the recipe where it calls for malted milk powder. I used chocolate malted milk powder, which gave the cookies a super chocolately flavor but cut down on the malted flavor. You choose how you want to make them....

This recipe is courtesy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook.
1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk powder (here's where I killed the malt flavor but boosted the chocolate flavor)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
11 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp good vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups Whoppers, coarsely chopped
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I use Ghirardelli bars)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Sift together the flour, malted milk powder, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Mix in the malted milk balls and chopped chocolate with a spatula.
Drop the dough by rounded Tbspoonfuls onto the sheets with about 2 inches between each spoonful. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at 6 minutes. When done the cookies will be puffed and set but slightly soft to the touch. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

Brown Sig

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is my absolute favorite dip...mmmm good! It's spicy with a great blend of cheeses and oh so creamy. Unfortunately I do not have any ooey gooey good pictures because our camera decided this would be an excellent time for the battery to die. Of course our back-up battery was also dead. Trust me when I say this is an amazing dip even though the pictures we have do it no justice.

In case I have not mentioned this little tidbit before, I do not like spicy food. I love the taste, but I'm a huge wimp and cannot handle the heat. However, I can handle this dip and I calm it down by eating my dip with celery as my delivery vessel. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 C shredded chicken (I use rotisserie chicken which makes this super simple)
2 - 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese*
1 C GOOD ranch*
1 C buffalo wing sauce (I prefer Texas Pete)
1- 1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar

* I used light cream cheese and light ranch, and it turned out just as wonderful as the full-fat version!
  • Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in the cream cheese and ranch dressing; cook, stirring until well blended and warm.
  • Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer mixture to a 2 qt. Crock pot. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top, cover, and cook on low until bubbly!
  • Serve with celery, tortilla chips, corn chips, or whatever your preferred dipper is.

In the crockpot waiting to get all bubbly warm and ready for dippers!

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for fewer problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”- Earl Shoaf

Brown Sig

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snickers Cupcakes

So, I'm not really sure why, but I got bit by the bug this weekend and ended up baking and cooking a whole bunch of things. Oh yeah, this is Matt by the way. I started with Snickers Cupcakes, courtesy of Food Network Magazine, continued with some tasty Chocolate Malt Cookies, and just finished the weekend with some homemade Carolina BBQ sauce. So, here is the deal for the Snickers Cupcakes. I have to say that parts of them are phenomenal, but with a couple tweaks, they'll be perfect. So, let's go....

For the cupcakes:

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
2 cups chopped salted roasted peanuts (we'll talk about this later.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Separately, beat the eggs and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the melted butter and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add half the dry ingredients, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in the peanuts, but do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups, filling each about halfway. Bake 20 to 22* minutes (I disagree) until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Salted nuts tend to dry out a batter drastically, which causes the cupcakes to end up a lot drier than I like. I would start checking the cakes at about 17 to 18 minutes to ensure they do not get dry. If you would prefer, you can omit the nuts and bake them as directed, but the nuts really
added a yummy texture to the cakes.

For the frosting:

6 ounces chopped milk chocolate
4 ounces chopped semi sweet chocolate
2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Put both chocolates in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir and continue to microwave until melted. Add the sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth and creamy.

*This frosting really is the star of this recipe. It is chocolately, smooth, and delicious with the whole milk. Use good quality chocolate for this one. I used bars of Ghirardelli, which is really my favorite baking chocolate.

For the nougat:

2-13 ounce jars marshmallow creme
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Pinch of salt

*The nougat is very good too! The leftover frosting and nougat are in our fridge being eaten on the end of a spoon whenever we need a sugary pick me up!