Archive for February 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Once upon a time, a girl made these bars. One bite and she was immediately cast under its spell. Her eyes rolled back into her head, she started to drool and she swore she heard a Disney theme song play every time she walked. She couldn't stop at one and almost ate the entire dish. The more she ate, the more bliss overcame her.

When all was said and done, she didn't develop superpowers, but she did gain 5 pounds.

All in her boobs.

The End.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Paula Deen - God love her.

2 cups flour
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped - ANY apple works here. Use YOUR favorite!
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup quick oats
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

I used dulce de leche. From a jar. Bought in a store. Done.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.

Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle evenly with streusel topping.

Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool.

Yields: About 24 bars

Happy Baking!

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cake Batter Pancakes

Today is Saturday...and my birthday! Happy Birthday Me! I remember being a kid and thinking how awesome it was when my birthday fell on the weekend. Ya know what? That frame of mind never went away for me. In fact, I think it's even better the older you get. No work. All play.

I'm probably one of the few women that enjoy receiving gifts with cords. I don't get too upset about things like that. I'm a pretty practical person. I don't care for jewelry, shellfish is my kryptonite, I don't drink alcohol, and I'm housebroken. I'm a cheap date overall. As long as I get a spectacular cake I don't have to make and spend the day with those I love most, I'm super happy.

Saturdays are known in our house as Pancake Saturdays. (Although, sometimes it's french toast Saturday, depending on the mood, but for the most part, pancakes take precedence). Birthdays don't alter that fact, so I was looking for a special pancake to make and found these. God bless the internet. 

They are intense. This is one of those ideas that I wish I would have thought of, but thankfully, didn't need to and can make anytime I want despite the fact. 

I think I have a new favorite birthday breakfast.

As well as every Saturday morning. 

Recipe adapted and modified from How Sweet It Is

1½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cake mix - I used Betty Crocker
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed- this is totally optional, but I put it in everything!
1 egg
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk
assorted sprinkles* - I tried a few different varieties of sprinkles and found that nonpareils are the best. Jimmies made a mess and didn't look very pretty due to size and sugary sprinkles (not sanding sugar, but the sort that are the same taste and texture of candy cigarettes - if that makes ANY sense) did nothing but add crunch.

Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar, ground flax seed, if using, and salt in a bowl.

Add egg, vanilla and start with 1 cup of milk when mixing and gradually add more until 2 cups, if needed. I used the 2 full cups once I revised the recipe. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; uniform in consistency.

According to How Sweet...'s post, this will depend on the brand of cake mix you use. Do a quick taste test to see if the pancakes are flavored enough for your liking. I did and found my version was high-fiving my taste buds. I figure, if I'm going to do it, I might as well go big.

This photo was using 1 cup milk. It's still pretty thick.

Preheat a frying pan - or electric griddle, (which I need, HINT HINT lover) - on medium heat. Original recipe calls for the sprinkles to be folded in. I did so and started with only a small amount, but they dissolved into the batter, changing the color, and defeated the purpose, so I opted to add them after batter was poured in the frying pan. Done and done.

Pour batter in ¼ cup measurements onto frying pan/griddle and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional minute more.

Serve with vanilla glaze below if desired. Again, I went for the gold and wasn't disappointed.

1 cup powdered sugar
½ Tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
assorted sprinkles

Mix milk, extract and powdered sugar until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more sugar or milk to reach desired consistency. Mix into glaze and drizzle on pancakes.

Yields: About festive 20-25 pancakes
Happy Baking!

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chocolate Fantasy Bars

Today is the Big Game. And I am so nervous.

I can't remember the last time I was this nervous about something. Perhaps it's because I know my husband's there, his team is playing, and if they lose, I'm not around to dab the wounds. I have all the faith in the world they will win, but it's always 50-50. And a long drive back home.

I was up at 3am, baking. It's better than staring at the ceiling until my kids woke. I padded into the kitchen, rummaged through the pantry, trying to find something I could make that didn't require a mixer, but came up empty handed. I flipped through my scary folder and found this recipe stuck to an artichoke casserole. Not the actual casserole. That would be awful.

2 bars and 2 cups of tea later, I'm worse off than I started out. Nervous, jittery AND wired. On the upside, my kids think I'm hilarious and I'm dancing like I've never danced before. 

Kevin Bacon has nothing on me and Hall & Oates can preach it all day - or at least until the sugar high wears off.

It's gonna be a long day.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 box chocolate cake mix
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dash salt 
OPTIONAL: ¼ cup of tub frosting 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat 13 x 9-inch baking pan with a non-stick spray. Beat cake mix, oil and egg in large bowl with electric mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Batter will be relatively dry. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture. 

Firmly press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. 

Recipe calls for nuts to be stirred in before lining pan, but I topped the crust with them. I like the texture better this way. 

  Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt in small saucepan. 

I don't know what happened with the remaining photos or what's up with the capitalization - I promise I'm not screaming at you! Bear with me. It was 3am.

Pour milk mixture evenly over prepared crust. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top. 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool completely before cutting.

If you want to add frosting, you can do so as recipe calls for it, but I find these are sweet enough without it. 

Yields: About 3 dozen
Happy Baking!

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cookies

There are four seasons in our home - Baseball, Football, Hockey, and Soccer.

Being married to the biggest sports fan alive, you have to have a lot of patience - and support. Luckily, I have some experience. I come from a family of diehard football and racing fans. I know all too well how it can go down.

You see, when you support a team, you become part of the team. Teams will disappoint. Teams will surpass expectations. Teams will make you cry tears of joy or break your heart from utter disappointment. I have seen all sides of it. Drew Barrymore's character in Fever Pitch has NOTHING on me. After Super Bowl XLII, I watched as my husband sat in silence and complete darkness for 3 hours. The New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants. I felt so helpless.

This year, I'm attending my first Big Game party since dating my husband. I know, right? My husband feels that parties interfere with the game. People stopped inviting us after a few years because we always decline. I miss out on all the greasy and fatty foods, but not this time. While lucky ducky is attending the Super Bowl and crossing that wish off his bucket list - I KNOW, RIGHT? - me and the kiddies will be partying it up with friends, juice boxes, and processed meat platters.

I'm taking along my chocolate chip cannoli cookies. These are SUPER simple to make and always a crowd pleaser.

You know, maybe separate vacations aren't such a bad idea.

Just kidding babe. Go Patriots!


24 ounces (3 cups) full fat ricotta cheese, COMPLETELY drained
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon orange zest
24-36 vanilla flavored pizzelle cookies

*These cookies should be made and eaten almost immediately or as soon as possible. They will go soft, just like proper cannoli, within a few hours.  

If you're not sure what pizzelle containers look like, here you go. This is usually how they are sold.

Drain ricotta cheese using a cheesecloth or layered paper towels. Try to extract as much liquid as possible.

It should look like this once drained - dry and clumpy.

Add sugar, vanilla, almond extract, orange zest and blend well.

Add chocolate chips.

Spread a generous amount of cheese mixture on one cookie and sandwich with another.

Easy Peasy! You can play around with these by dusting powdered sugar on top or dipping half of one cookie into melted chocolate. They are pretty versatile, but amazing as is.

Yields: About 12-18 Cannoli Cookies.

Happy Baking!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Saltine Peanut Butter Toffee Bars

One word. Delicious.
Two more words. Really Simple.
Three words. I like eggs.

Yeah, I just thought I'd throw out a random fact about me.

If you're a fan of Skor or Heath bars (and even if you're not), you will thoroughly enjoy these. They are so much better than the actual candy and have something for everyone whether it's a salty, sweet, peanut butter, chocolate, crunch or chewy factor. 

Four Words. She shoots, she skors! 

Pun totally intended.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from my Aunt Ronnie's recipe box

1 package SALTED saltine crackers
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
Toppings if desired: Sprinkles, chopped nuts, chopped candy bars, etc.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil. Apply a thick coating of butter or cooking spray. This will help the toffee from sticking. Turst me, you do not want to skip this step.

Place saltines on tray in a single file, side by side; do not overlap crackers. Set tray aside.

Place butter and sugar in a saucepan on stove on high heat. Once mixture hits a rapid boil, allow it to do so for a full 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from heat and immediately pour over crackers, covering completely.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of toffee, and allow them to sit for a few minutes to soften and melt. You can also put the tray in the oven for a minute or so to help the melting process along. 

Once softened, use an offset spatula or knife to spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface of the toffee in an even layer.

Melt peanut butter chips in microwave, using a heat-safe container. Drizzle over top of chocolate. I used a skewer to make pretty designs.

Sprinkle with your choice of toppings if desired. My daughter opted for some Valentine colored sprinkles.

Allow tray to cool completely. I threw mine in the fridge for about 30 minutes to harden. Once solidified, remove foil lining from tray and let set for a couple minutes. You can break apart, using your hands for a rustic look, but I prefer to use a pizza cutter for nice, uniform lines.

Keep refrigerated for best results.

Yields: About 36 servings.

Happy Baking!

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