Monday, June 25, 2012

Easy Brownie Upgrade

Reeses Brownies
Brownies + Peanut butter = Bliss

Boxed brownie mix, prepared as directed.
Chopped up Reeses and Reeses Pieces mixed in the batter.
Bake brownies as directed, except 10 minutes before they're done add some pieces to the top.

Very simple, but really good if you're in a rush, and super easy to do last minute.
Everyone will love them, and hey, you don't have to say they're from a box.

Pizza's come from the oven too!

Pizza may very well be my favorite food, except for brownies of course.  And since the man in my life likes it too, we started experimenting with making our own crust and sauce.  
Result: we're hooked.

Homemade crust:
1 package of dry yeast
1/4-1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 c warm water
1 tsp salt
4 c flour (+ extra for work surface)
olive oil
  • Dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in a bowl for 10-15min
  • Stir in the salt, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and 2-3 cups of flour
  • Knead dough on a floured surface, gradually mixing in the rest of the 4 cups of flour (knead the dough to the point that it's not sticking to your fingers)
  • Roll dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel for about 1 hour (when you come back for it the dough will have doubled or tripled in size, so use a big bowl).  
  • The dough will continue to rise until your pizza starts baking, so move quickly and add your sauce, cheese, and toppings of choice.
  • Bake on a pizza stone, at 425 degrees for about 20-30 minutes (longer if your pan is smaller and the dough is thicker)
*We've been pre-heating our pizza stone and sprinkling a coating of cornmeal on before the crust.  
I would highly recommend doing this so even if your dough is underdone in the center it won't stick.

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 can water (6 oz)
1 clove minced garlic (1 tsp from the jar works too)
4 tbsp grated park cheese
3-4 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp basil
3/4 tsp onion powder
4 tbsp brown sugar

  • Start with the tomato paste and water in a saucepan on the stove, try to mix them as they heat up
  • Add the parmesan cheese and garlic, let it heat up
  • Add all the rest of the ingredients (it's a lot, but a great combination!)
  • Stir it up and let it simmer, covered for at least 25min
*This has a kick to it, so if you like spicy-sweet sauce, this is for you
*If you decide to add more cayenne or pepper flakes, add more brown sugar or honey to keep the delicious balance

Toppings: We've found that sausage or grilled chicken go really well with this sauce, along with some roma tomatoes, red peppers, and pepperoncinis
I have to admit, we've made this so many times we've premixed all the dry seasonings in a jar and just scoop some out whenever we want to make sauce.  Worth it.
Buon Appetito!

Apples to Apples

Apples for Fall desserts!

Apple Pie. Classic.

Caramel Apple Bars with cinnamon oatmeal streusel.

Apple Crostata with warmed caramel sauce.

Girl Scout Cookies

Love me some Caramel Delights, or Samoas, or whatever you call them.

So I wanted to make my own...

First, I knew making the cute little circles with the holes in the middle would take way too long (I wanted cookies NOW).  Now I know the picture doesn't look that great, but they sure were tasty!

  • So I used a cake pan and made a basic shortbread.  
  • Directly out of the oven, frosted the entire top surface with melted semi-sweet choc chips
  • Once cooled, popped it out of the pan chocolate side down onto some wax paper
  • Toasted about 4 cups of coconut (this can be done on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, only takes about 20 min, just remember to toss it continuously)
  • Mixed the coconut with some melted caramel candies (I used one pack of Werther's) and spread it over the other side of the giant shortbread cookie
  • Melted some more chocolate chips and drizzled over the top
There you have it, a giant Caramel Delight aka Samoa Bars, as in you'll want some mo' a these bars.  


Throwback to graduation parties!

Some lovely snickerdoodles and orange cupcakes!
Orange frosting:
-Powdered sugar
-Milk (just a little)
-1 package orange flavored jello (just dump the powder right in)
-food coloring
-white choc chips for polka-dots

Beat on high for a very long time and you should end up with something that looks like what the lost boys ate in the movie Hook.  Bangarang!

Oreo Cheesecake

My first attempt at a cheesecake...
Here's what you need:
2 c crushed oreos (with filling left in)
4 tbsp butter, melted (may need a little extra)
1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar

1. Combine crust ingredients and press into bottom of greased spring pan (I did not use a spring pan, and the sides of my glass pie pan were not nearly high enough).  You may need to use a little extra butter if your crust is too crumbly.  
2. Bake the crust for 12 min at 325 degrees

4 packages of cream cheese (8 ounce packages, not low fat)
1 1/2 c white sugar
1/3 c whipping cream
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 c chopped oreos

3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy, then add whipping cream, vanilla, and flour (mix after each addition).  Add eggs one by one and mix.

4. Pour 3 1/2 - 4 cups of the cream cheese mixture over the already baked crust.

5. Create what will be the middle layer by adding 2 cups chopped Oreos over the bottom layer of filling.  Then pour the remaining filling over the Oreo layer.  (This is where you need to watch and make sure your cheesecake does not overflow the pan you're using)

6. Bake cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, but do not remove it from the oven yet! Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit inside for 45 minutes after baking time. (This is a very important step that should prevent your cake from cracking on the top surface like mine).

7. Cool completely on a wire rack, then chill for at least 8 hours.  Remove sides of the spring pan.

1/3 c whipping cream
1 1/4c chocolate chips (semi sweet)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oreos for decoration

8. Mix chocolate chips and whipping cream over the stove until melted. Stir in vanilla. Drizzle over the top of the cheesecake (I spread the frosting over the entire top surface of my cheesecake, only do this if you really love chocolate, it was quite overwhelming).  Top your cake with the extra Oreos.  
Store refrigerated

*The texture of my cheesecake was better on the second day.
*Another idea for topping: drizzle white chocolate along with the semi-sweet chocolate
*Re: Oreo garnish, more is better! Enjoy!

*This recipe was modified from the Oreo Cookie Cheesecake at

Valentine's Day Favorites

Heart Bars

Chocolate covered chocolate chip bars, topped with yogurt dipped pretzels and pink icing hearts.
Too cute!

Funfetti Cake Cookies

Yes, these are easy, but so cute and soft and fluffy and really, who doesn't love them?  
(Even better, you don't have to have tons of ingredients)