Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gluten-Free Caramel Chocolate Cookie Bars

It used to be, during Passover, you had some matzo and some macaroons and you were grateful for it.  Now, Passover recipes are all kinds of fancy. I was kind of skeptical of these cookie bars when I found them looking for desserts to make for our Seder, but they really did taste just like a chocolate chunk cookie bar. And since we have run out of them, I decided to make some more, but my way.

And yes, these have no gluten because you can't have any grains during Passover, so they are the perfect treat for your Gluten-Free Friends (your GFFs ;) and coworkers (or for you, they are great for you too). AND they don't take all those different flours to make gluten free foods seem gluteny. Just five easy ingredients.

What you'll need:

2 cups of almond meal. (You can either buy it ground or grind your own. If you are making these for someone GF, please, make sure the bag assures there is no gluten.)
1 cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup of GF caramel chocolate candies (I used Milk Duds- you can also use any gluten free candy you think would go well or chocolate chunks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You'll also need:

Optional: Chocolate chunks (it needs more chocolate! about 1/2 cup) and salt (to balance all the sweet, about 1/4 teaspoon)

Mixing bowl and spoon (or electric mixer)
8x8 baking pan
Parchment paper (if you don't use this, you may have to chip your bars out of your pan)

This really couldn't be much easier.

Preheat your oven to 375 F - Prepare your baking pan with parchment paper. Wrestle with it for a while, if you are anything like me.

Measure your 2 cups of almond meal and 1 cup of packed brown sugar in your bowl and then mix them to combine.

Add two eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla to your almond mixture, and stir until you get a thick sticky batter.

Stir in your candy pieces (Apparently I forgot to take a picture of this *sigh*).

Now, wrestle with that parchmented pan again, to get that REALLY thick batter to fill the pan evenly. Seriously, this might take a bunch of your patience, so if you are having a bad day, try to get someone else to do this part for you, unless yelling obscenities at raw cookies is one of your favorite ways to relieve stress (It isn't really all that hard, it just takes a little time, and patience... and cursing - I KID).

Once they are level, I like to cut down my parchment paper so my stove doesn't light it on fire.

Bake these for about 25 minutes. The original recipe warns like a billion times, DON'T UNDER COOK THEM. I am not entirely sure what happens if you undercook them, but they seemed pretty adamant about it, so I think I didn't undercook them... because nothing dire happened to them after baking them only 25 minutes. You want them to look more cookie-ish and less raw-ish when you take them out, and 25 minutes does that in my oven.

Now, let them cool, then, pull up on your parchment, which should pop these right out of the pan, and cut them into portions. They are very rich, so smaller might be better, but these are your cookie bars so you cut them however you want.

Now pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy the heck out of your easy gluten-free treat!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

There are, indeed, several Creme Egg Cupcake recipes on The Tubes, but all of them seem to be beating people over the head with chocolate.  My secret is I only really like the inside of Cadbury Creme Eggs. I know, I am one of those crazy chocolate un-enthusiasts. I don't hate chocolate, but I like it balanced with a whole lot of not chocolate.

My Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes have a yellow cake base peppered with creme eggs and mini chips and a delicious dark chocolate frosting on top. Just the right amount of chocolate for everyone (unless you're allergic to chocolate... or hate it, in which case there is just way too much. =P )

What you'll need for 24 cupcakes:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Peach Whip Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups

Peach Whip is a favorite dessert in our household because it is almost literally the easiest recipe in the world. I suppose if we are trying to quantify, "ice" would be the easiest recipe ever... or maybe "pop tarts." I don't know, is simply heating something a recipe?

Anyway, Peach Whip is really easy and it tastes really good... and usually, I would just make some and then eat it out of a whipped topping container with a spoon, but I figured I would class it up a little and so I present to you:

Still super easy, and fast, but now in a crunchy, sugary self-contained bite.

What you'll need for 48 cookie cups (with a little left over Peach Whip, possibly):

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dinner at the Improv- California Roast Beef

I like to improvise sometimes, which means I just throw things into the pan and wing it. Every once in a while, it is horrible, more often though, it turns out pretty darned well. I wanted to share these improvisations to inspire other cooks who feel comfortable cooking by taste.

I think that recipes for cold sandwiches are kind of silly, but alas, I have a whole bunch of sandwiches to share. Thankfully we have "Dinner at the Improv" which makes sandwich sharing so much easier. Instead of a step by step process with pictures to insult your intelligence, I'll give you my sandwich concoctions with general measurements and trust you to make it to your liking.

For episode three of Dinner at the Improv, we're having- California Roast Beef Sandwiches and Wraps. 

If you'll remember, I don't eat bread because of a yeast intolerance, but I can eat wraps until the cows come home, so most of my sandwiches will be prepared both ways.

Now, this specific sandwich comes from my childhood when I grew up in California and there was a food court restaurant called A.T.C.'s , which stood for avocado, tomato, and cucumber, and it had quintessential California ingredients in all kinds of sandwiches. One of our favorites to get was this: rare roast beef, cream cheese, avocado and the piece de resistance, alfalfa sprouts. Really, the sprouts are what make this sandwich special. They have an earthy crunch that is as perfect as potato chips on sandwiches.

To make a California Roast Beef Sandwich (or Wrap) you'll need:
Chewy roll or bread - like sour dough or challah (or a wrap/tortilla)
Cream cheese (about an ounce per sandwich, softened)
Rare roast beef, thinly sliced (about 1/4 lb per sandwich)
Ripe avocado, thinly sliced, (2-3 slices per sandwich)
Alfalfa sprouts (a large pinch, mine ends up being about 1/4 cup, but I realllllly like sprouts)

I start with toasting the bread and softening the wrap, which I do by microwaving refrigerated tortillas, covered with damp paper towels, for about 25 seconds.

Then, I soften my cream cheese in the microwave, about 30 seconds (I made 5 sandwiches so used 5 oz from the 8 oz bar). Once it is soft, the cream cheese goes on the bottom of the roll/wrap. Then on top of that goes the roast beef, then the sprouts, then the avocado. You can change the order if you like, I just find that this order gets the best taste combination per bite.

Then, close your sandwich, or roll up your wrap, flipping up the bottom, then bringing in the sides, to make it look like the wrap in the picture...

And then you are ready to eat. It is that simple, because sandwiches are pretty stinkin' easy... but they certainly don't have to be boring. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Two or three Springs ago, my husband planted a few raspberry bushes in our backyard, and raspberries are total hussies in case you didn't know, so during the summer, our back patch is full to the brim with raspberry bushes. I came up with this recipe to utilize the abundance of raspberries that I have when the plants are producing, but then I wanted this recipe during the winter, so I present the non-green thumb version of my original recipe.

What you'll need for a 9x11 pan of brownies:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Buckaroo Biscuits

I have seen so many variations of bubble bakes out there on the webz, I figured I would make my own. When I came up with my list of ingredients, I immediately thought COWBOY!  Beef, bacon, a ton of cheese, and spicy jalapenos... totally Cowboy!

This can really be customized to your taste. Add some chipotle sauce, onions, beans... It is also fantastic with chicken* (but not so great with mushroom-- despite loving mushrooms. No really, save the mushrooms for the salad!)

What you'll need for 6-8 servings:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Oreo Breakfast Bake

Yes, sometimes, I want cookies for breakfast. I'm willing to bet I am not the only one, and since I count as a grown up, cookies are what's on the menu! Oreos to be exact.

I was using up the rest of a package of Double Stuf Oreos, but I am pretty sure, any of their fancy flavors that you like would work. You could even double the cookie with the new Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Oreos. Seriously, are you drooling yet?

What you'll need for 6-8 servings:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I've seen a variation of this as "Mississippi Pot Roast" on Pinterest, and it is, honestly, where I got the inspiration. Most of these pot roast recipes call for pepperoncini or sliced pickled jalapenos, but I am pepper shy, so I decided to change it a little, to suit my tastes.

When I took the first bite of this version, I seriously made involuntary yummy-sounds. You know something is good when you can't help but groan in appreciation.

What you'll need to serve 4-6 people:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Simple No-Clean-Up Slow Cooker Ribs and Sweet Coleslaw

For a long time, I didn't think I really liked ribs, which sounds like sacrilege, I know, but they were never quite tender enough, and you had to do SO MUCH with them, boiling the meat in a giant pot, heating up the kitchen... it was just too much.

I found instructions for slow cooker ribs a while back, and I decided to make them my own. This recipe makes incredibly tender sweet and salty ribs that take so little effort, it verges on magic.

During the summer, we cook these for a little shorter time and then finish them on the grill to get that fire cooked taste on them, but during the winter, when the snow comes up to mid-thigh out by the grill, eating them straight out of the slow cooker works just as well!

What you'll need for about 3 servings of ribs (the coleslaw recipe is further down the page):

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Peaches and Cream Brown Betty Biscuits

Breakfast sweets- I don't know if I can trust people who can't enjoy a good rush of sugar first thing in the morning. I have seen apple skillet biscuits around, and while I am down for a good apple treat, my heart really belongs to peaches. There is little more satisfying than biting into a ripe juicy peach...and nothing quite as disappointing as biting into a totally unripe peach, amirite?!

Totally avoiding that possibility by using premium peach pie filling here, paired with a sweetened blend of cream cheese and sour cream, over fluffy cinnamon sugared biscuits, with a buttery crumble on top. When I dreamt this up, I knew it would be good, I just didn't know HOW good it would be.

And though I made this recipe with breakfast in mind, it would actually make a really amazing dessert too, especially with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

What you'll need for 9 servings:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lemon Oreo Cheesecake Doughscuits

I have heard through my foodie friend in Los Angeles, that Doughscuits are the next big thing (and apparently he heard it from NPR).  Like the Croissant Doughnut, the Doughscuit is a hybrid of a doughnut and a biscuit, and I feel confident in telling you, they are DELICIOUS!

They taste a little like funnel cakes, but are much more filling. And today, I have them for you filled with a no bake lemon cheesecake filling, coated with a thick lemon glaze, and dipped in crushed Lemon Oreos.

If you've not tried Oreo's new lemon flavored cookies, go out and get some now. After tasting them last night, I realized I needed to get a recipe done with them really quickly or I was going to eat them ALL before I had a chance.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dinner at the Improv - Bacon, Chowder, Pizza Pizzazz!

I like to improvise sometimes, which means I just throw things into the pan and wing it. Every once in a while, it is horrible, more often though, it turns out pretty darned well. I wanted to share these improvisations to inspire other cooks who feel comfortable cooking by taste.

For episode two of Dinner at the Improv, I've made Cheesy Sage Corn Chowder and Bacon Ranch Pizza.

Like the rest of the country, it has been ridiculously cold and snowy here in Montana. That means, I want something warm and comforting, without having to spend too much time outside my bed, where I would like to be, covered by every blanket that we own. That means, perfect night for soup and pizza.

This pizza is really less pizza and more fancy bread sticks. I use a store bought can of pizza dough. Spread it out on a sheet pan lined with non-stick foil until the crust is fairly thin, and then slather that in homemade ranch dressing. It is a mix of mayo, sour cream, dried dill, chives, granulated garlic, a touch of onion powder, and some salt and pepper. Over that goes Italian cheese blend to cover, and then 6 slices of crispy bacon (that I baked in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes), crumbled over the top. That bakes according to the directions on the dough canister, for about 10 minutes (according to mine- which was Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Crust).

Next, in a large soup pot, I melt 4 tablespoons of butter (that's half a stick in America, usually) and about a tablespoon of sage, to bloom the herbs, which lets out the oils and makes it very fragrant. Once that is bubbly, I add a can of drained premium white corn. Once the corn has warmed a bit, I add 4 tablespoons of flour, let that cook, stirring, until it smells nutty, and add 3-4 cups of chicken stock, a cup at a time, whisking to make it smooth. During this time, I salt and pepper the soup to taste and then let it come up to a boil. 

A few minutes before the pizza is ready, I lower the temperature on the soup to low and add a handful of that Italian cheese blend (cheddar would be great also), about a cup of milk, and a half a cup of heavy cream. I stir that until the cheese is melted, careful not to let it boil once the dairy is added so we don't get a curdled soup, taste, and re-season as needed. It couldn't be much easier.

Then, serve it up in a bowl with crumbled bacon over it, and maybe a little extra cheese if you like, with a slice of the tasty Bacon Ranch Pizza on the side. It's perfect for sopping up the rest of that creamy soup before you have seconds!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Strawberry Tres Leche Cupcakes

Am I the only thing who thinks immediately of Latin lovers when I think of romance?

I have one heck of a romantic cupcake for your Valentine.  Growing up in Miami, having latin pastries was one of my favorite treats. So when I was thinking of other things to do with my Pillsbury Valentine Funfetti cupcakes, the first thing that came to mind was Tres Leche. Tres Leche, (pronounced trace-LAY-chay) is a central american dessert that consists of a spongy cake soaked in three different milks, that turns the cake into a spongy pudding. It is usually topped with whipped cream (or sometimes marshmallow fluff). Of course, to make this recipe extra Valentine-y, I added some sweet red strawberries.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes

It's time for Valentine sweets. Now, the name on this one is a little bit deceiving. I went shopping and came upon Pillsbury's Valentine Funfetti cake, and everyone who knows what's what, knows that confetti cake is the best, so the actual cupcakes in this recipe are confetti, but the frosting is all cherry chocolate love!

That is not to say that you couldn't use a different flavor cake mix (though seriously, FUNFETTI!!!) like chocolate or cherry chip, or gluten free anything, if you dig on that. This is all in the name of love, so make what YOU love.

Me? I love funfetti (I think you might have caught onto that by now)!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Sticky Icky Brie Blunts

So, this year, if you are unaware, the two teams who have made it into the Super Bowl happen to come from the two states that legalized marijuana for recreational use. That has inspired a lot of jokes, and I write humor for a living (when I am not cooking), so of course, I needed to make a delicious but funny recipe that referenced marijuana without actually using marijuana (thanks for THAT suggestion, funny friends).

This recipe was seriously a whole lot of work to make a Super Bowl pot joke. Thankfully, it is REALLY delicious too, so they are worth the effort.

These "sticky icky" brie "blunts" have delicate layers of buttery phyllo filled with creamy brie, and a sweet buttery pecan crumble. Even better, after they have baked crispy, they are soaked in a tangerine cinnamon syrup. Seriously, I considered licking the plate when I sampled them... fine, I actually licked the plate.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle Stud Muffins

If teams won the Super Bowl according to how delicious their Stud Muffin was, this would guarantee that the Seahawks would win.

I took influence from Seattle's pacific islander flavors and mixed buttery salmon with cream cheese, salty soy sauce, fresh bright chives, and sweet tangy teriyaki sauce. My house smelled AMAZING while they were in the oven and I about fell over when I popped one in my mouth, so good. Your friends are going to absolutely LOVE these.

This one has a few more ingredients, but each one perfectly harmonizes with the others and they are TOTALLY worth the effort.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Denver Stud Muffins

When you are hosting your own Super Bowl party, having a bunch of bite-sized snacks is a must.
I came up with the idea of Stud Muffins many years ago, little studs of savory dough, and you will be seeing MUCH more of them, but today, in honor of the Denver Broncos, I'm making Denver Stud Muffins. These little two bite wonders take inspiration from Denver's most famous (only famous?) food, the Denver Omelet.

Chock full of eggs, diced ham, green onions, and orange bell peppers (their colors are orange and blue), these little savory muffins are pretty easy and quick, once you've prepped your veggies.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mini Almond Danishes

This recipe could not be any easier. I mean, yes, it could be, if we are going to be literal, but it is seriously easy and really impressive. 

I have long had a love affair with almonds... actually, more almond flavored things. Most people are chocolate people, and I have nothing against chocolate, but if I get to choose between it, and something almond flavored (or caramel, or fruity), I will definitely snub that chocolate.

These quick easy buttery sweet "danishes" are so simple almost anyone could make them.

What you'll need: 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cinnabock Sandwich

My mom has SO many appliances-- a belgian waffle maker, a regular waffle maker, that triangle sandwich maker from the late 80s (all of my breakfasts in 9th grade were triangular), a quesadilla maker (though we never made quesadillas before, and haven't since she got it), a tortilla bowl maker, etc., ad nauseum.
So, once I was forced to make waffles, instead of putting away the belgian waffle maker, I decided to do as many things with it as possible, the greatest of which, is this sandwich.

So chicken and waffles is an awesome thing. But mixing up waffle batter is too much trouble, so I wondered what would happen if I made waffles out of cinnamon buns and turned it into a sandwich with smoky, crispy bacon, crispy, juicy fried chicken, and tangy sharp cheddar cheese. 

What happened was that I invented a new addiction. Seriously, holy moley, this sandwich is delicious. And it's really really easy.

Now, when I made this the very first time, it took FOREVER because I insisted on frying the chicken myself. I have since learned to grab some precooked chicken tenders from my favorite place (Wednesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings is 75¢ chicken tender day, so I usually grab some from there). Frozen chicken tenders work too. 

Let's get to these ingredients, because seriously, you are going to want one of these in your mouth ASAP.

Seriously! Just four ingredients:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dinner at the Improv: Pork Chops, and Kale, and Pasta, Oh My!

I like to improvise sometimes, which means I just throw things into the pan and wing it. Every once in a while, it is horrible, more often though, it turns out pretty darned well. I wanted to share these improvisations to inspire other cooks who feel comfortable cooking by taste.

For episode one of Dinner at the Improv, I've made Honey Parmesan Grilled Porkchops served with Creamed Kale with Bleu Cheese, and Homemade Mac and Cheese.

Last night I was shopping for other ingredients and saw that the meat counter had really nice looking pork chops, so my previous dinner plans flew out the window. I can't resist a nice piece of pork. Then, since I've been on a kale kick lately, I grabbed a bunch. If you haven't tried kale yet because it is the healthy thing you're supposed to eat whether you like it or not, this might be a good introduction for you. The creamy sauce perfectly compliments the slightly bitter spinach/cabbage flavor of the green.

Once I had pork and greens, not yet knowing what I was going to do with them, I set my heart on having homemade mac and cheese as our starch.
I generally cook for three people, so I started by boiling water to cook the macaroni. Once the macaroni was in the salted water, I started my grill pan heating over medium high heat and then I unwrapped the three boneless pork loin chops, rubbed them with about a total of a tablespoon of creamed honey (the spread kind), salt and peppered them, and rolled them in grated Parmesan cheese. Thanks, Pinterest, for the idea.

I cooked the first side of the pork chops until they had really nice grill lines, then flipped them and finished them in the oven at 425 F for about 8 minutes.

While grilling the meat, I melted some butter in a large saute pan, removed the ribs from the kale, roughly chopped it and added it to the pan with a lid. After letting it sweat for a while (about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally), I added heavy cream, some chicken stock, salt, and two Laughing Cow Bleu Cheese triangles, which gave it a nice background flavor of bleu cheese without overpowering the dish.

Mac and cheese, I started with a roux in a small sauce pan (one part butter to one part flour), let it cook till it smelled a little nutty, added a generous splash of heavy cream, whisked, then added about about a cup of chicken stock, some sharp cheddar cheese and a handful of shredded swiss cheese, salt, pepper, and small amount yellow mustard, tasting as I went to get a cheese sauce that pleased my palate.

I must say, I was very pleased with the entire ensemble. The pork was juicy, with a tang from the parm, and a slight sweetness from the honey. The kale, I was contemplating leaving my husband for, and the mac was as creamy as anyone could hope for in their favorite comfort classic. I'm definitely adding the pork chops and kale into my regular rotation. The mac and cheese, it was there all along!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sliders

I must share something about myself, really quickly.  I don't eat yeast, and haven't for coming on 4 years, so when it comes to eating sandwiches, because, I totally want to eat sandwiches, I have to get creative on the "bread" component, and it has lead to some REALLY good recipes.

This idea was born from Oh, Bite It's Cheesy Biscuit Bombs. I realized I didn't just have to eat the biscuits alone, I could cut them open and shove things inside them, so I did!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ginger Lemon Creme Parfaits

Carr's Ginger Lemon Cremes are one of my most favorite cookies EVER, which of course means that my local stores have stopped selling them. Whenever I declare something my favorite, it stops being made or sold.  It is a curse I must live with.

If you haven't had them, I am sorry. They are the perfect crisp gingersnap, sandwiching a tart tangy lemon creme filling. So very tasty.

This parfait borrows those flavors for a fast, easy dessert.

If, by chance, the idea of using canned products makes you gag, you could easily make all of these components yourself for a super gourmet treat, but I only have so much energy, and no shame whatsoever, so I take shortcuts.


One 5.25 oz package of Anna's ginger thin (or gingersnaps of your choice), crushed
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), melted  
4 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use extra fine sugar because it dissolves better)
8 oz of whipped topping (like Cool Whip, but you could easily use real whipped cream)
21 oz can of Lemon Creme pie filling (lemon curd would work too) 

You'll also need:
Six 9 oz plastic cups (or another parfait container that lets you see the pretty stripes)
2 quart sized zipper storage bags (or piping bags if you're fancy)
An extra one of those cups to tamp down the crust

This really is as simple as mixing a few things and making pretty layers. And by pretty layers, I mean, as pretty as you can make them without hating life.

Start with the crust. I crushed my gingersnaps to a fine crumb in the food processor, and then drizzled in the melted butter, pulsing to mix it. You could do that, or do it by hand if that strikes your fancy.
Use a spoon to add about 5 scoops of the crust mixture into the parfait cups. You'll want to reserve some of the crust mixture for garnishing the top, so adjust your crust size accordingly.
Use the extra cup to push the crust mixture down and even it off.

With a mixer, combine the softened cream cheese and the sugar until well combined and smooth.
Add in half of the container of whipped topping, and mix to combine.
Put the mixture in a quart sized storage bag. I fold over the top of my bags to create a cuff and put it in a tall cup to make loading the bag easier. Zip the top of the bag, squeezing out extra air, and cut off one corner to make a piping bag. Pipe the cream cheese layer on top of the crust.

If you don't feel like dealing with the piping bag, you COULD just spoon the mixture in, but I found out that it got everywhere and made the layers not so pretty.

Next, open that can of Lemon Creme and cram it in another "piping bag" like you did with the cream cheese mixture. Pipe a good sized layer of it on top of the cream cheese layer in the cup. You may have some extra, so don't panic.

Next, divide the rest of the whipped topping evenly between the 6 cups, and smooth the top with the spoon.

Sprinkle those cups as liberally as you'd like with the remaining crust mixture, and then eat the heck out of these things. Whatever you don't finish should be stored, covered with cling wrap, in the fridge.