Monday, November 30, 2009

Crunchy Caramel Reeses Cookie Bars

Once again, Picky Palate posted an amazing recipe that I could not wait to make. If any of you watch the Food Network as often as I do, you may recognize the writer of this blog, Jenny, from a few recipe cook-off competitions they have had. It is also inspiring to see all the great recipes she has come up with, after starting out basically the way I am now!

But back to these bars. I made them to bring to class, and then brought the rest to Thanksgiving, and they were a hit! Perfect with a glass of milk or coffee, these are quite rich but so tasty.

Crunchy Caramel Reeses Cookie Bars
Source: Picky Palate

1 Roll Sugar Cookie Dough, Pillsbury (or use your favorite sugar cookie recipe)

1 Cup crushed pretzels
3 Cups mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, unwrapped
10 Kraft caramels, unwrapped
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Line a 8×8 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray. Cut cookie dough roll in half and press half into bottom of baking dish. Layer with pretzels. Cut PB cups in half and layer over pretzels. Melt caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl until melted, about 1-2 minutes in microwave. Pour caramel over PB cups. With remaining cookie dough, crumble evenly over top PB cups. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool completely. Melt chocolate chips in microwave until smooth, drizzle over top of bars.

9 bars

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chocolate Fudge Butterfinger Cookies

I whipped up these cookies a few weeks ago to bring over to our neighbors. Since moving in, Erin and Sam have been great to us, and when they invited us over for ribs one Sunday I wanted to bring a little treat for dessert. I had starred these in my google reader a few days before and knew immediately I had to make them. I mean, how could I pass up any recipe that incorporates my favorite candy bar?!

These cookies are amazing. They were fresh out of the oven when we made the trek across our lawn to Erin and Sam's house, so by dessert time they were still warm and full of fudgy goodness. The butterfinger taste is pretty subtle, but they almost melt into a caramel-like texture. I really can't wait to make these again.

Chocolate Fudge Butterfinger Cookies
Source: Picky Palate

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder)
2 tsps. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Full size Butterfinger Bars, crushed
1 1/2 Cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and use a cookie sheet with a silpat liner.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs and vanilla until well combined.

3. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to wet ingredients then stir in crushed butterfinger and chocolate chips. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 9-11 minutes, should still be soft in center. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 dozen cookies

Chimichurri Steak Sandwiches

We ended up having enough Pepper Crusted Steak leftover that we decided to make sandwiches out of it for dinner the next night. As I googled ideas on what to make, chimichurri came to mind, even though I've never tasted it. Then I found a recipe on the Food Network website and decided it could easily be adapted to what I wanted.

These sandwiches turned out great, but almost a little overpowering with the parsley. I don't know how, but Rainbow was out of flat-leaf parsley so I ended up with curly parsley. I made the sandwiches on what we had left of the Roasted Garlic Ciabatta bread from Costco, and they were definitely a mouthful!

Chimichurri Steak Sandwiches
Source: Adapted from Food Network

1 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbls olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
Provolone cheese slices

Pulse parsley and garlic in blender or food processor until finely chopped. Remove to a bowl and stir in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let sit until ready to assemble sandwiches.

Spread parsley mixture evenly over both sides of bread; place sliced steak evenly over bottom half. Layer provolone cheese on top (use as much or as little as you want). Place open sandwich in broiler until cheese is bubbly and top half is crispy.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pepper Crusted Steak with Shallot, Mushroom and Wine Reduction

Today, Andy and I wandered around Costco, finding samples and contemplating dinner. I finally settled on buying some boneless top sirloin, 5 lbs of it to be exact. I got home and could not figure out what to do with it, and steak is never one of my top choices for dinner. I knew that I had heard of pepper crusted steak before, so I decided on that, but figured I should have a sauce for it so I went to google. I read through quite a few sauces and reductions and decided to write up one of my own.

For envisioning this on my own, it actually turned out really well. And the best part was, Andy helped me out in the kitchen! I really can't remember many meals we have cooked together, so it was really fun to be able to be together and work on this meal together.

We served this with awesome roasted garlic ciabatta bread from Costco, and some parmesan mashed potatoes. Someday I'll get better at serving veggies with every meal, probably not until I have children's health to worry about though:)

Pepper Crusted Steak with Shallot, Mushroom and Wine Reduction
Source: Kitchen Escapes original
4-6 servings

2 lbs. boneless top sirloin ( or any cut of steak you prefer)
1 Tbls. peppercorns (or coarsley ground pepper, use more if you prefer more zip)
1Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. olive oil

Shallot, Mushroom and Wine Reduction:
1 shallot, sliced
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dried Thyme
1 Tbls. butter
1 cup wine
1 tsp. cornstarch

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

If using whole peppercorns, grind in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle. Season steaks with salt and rub one side of each steak with pepper.

Heat 1 Tbls. each of butter and olive in large skillet over medium-high heat. Place steaks pepper side down and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip and cook second side 5 minutes. Transfer steaks to oven proof dish and bake until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees for medium-rare (because our steaks were huge, this took about 15 minutes). Take steaks out of oven and tent with aluminum foil to continue the cooking process and to allow juices to settle back into meat.

While steaks bake in oven, melt 1 Tbls. butter in empty skillet. Add shallot, mushrooms, garlic and Thyme. Saute roughly 5 minutes until shallot and mushrooms are soft. Combine cornstarch and wine; add to skillet. Simmer, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan, until sauce is reduced and thickened. Season with salt to taste.

Serve sauce over steaks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Parmesan Garlic Orzo

This may be my new favorite side dish, so hopefully the hubby doesn't get sick of it. Sometimes side dishes are so hard to come up with, so I'm quite happy I found this recipe. I thought the garlic would be too overpowering since it's raw, but can you ever have too much garlic?!

A couple notes about this recipe, it mentions butter in the directions but not in the ingredients, so I used 2 tablespoons. Also, we used up all our parmesan cheese earlier this week, so we used asiago and it still tasted great.

Parmesan Garlic Orzo
Source: Joelen's Culinary Adventures

1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook the orzo pasta according to package directions with water; drain.

Place the orzo in a large bowl and add the minced garlic and butter. Stir until butter is fully melted. Add the parmesan cheese, parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Buttermilk Pork Chops

I have never used buttermilk before, but now that I have tasted its glory when it comes to marinating, I may have to use it more often. Buttermilk seems to be used most often in baked goods but when marinated with chicken or pork it yields a wonderfully juicy piece of meat.

When marinated overnight, this meal comes together in a matter of minutes and we will definitely be having this again.

Italian Buttermilk Pork Chops

4 pork chops
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 - 2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil

Season your pork chops with salt and pepper; place chops in a gallon sized zip top bag.

Add the remaining ingredients and place in the fridge for 4 hours to chill (or you could chill overnight too.) Remove the pork chops from the bag and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a hot skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, brown your pork chops on both sides. Once browned, place the pork chops on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes. Don't over cook otherwise it will result in dry, tough pork!

I served this with parmesan & parsley orzo

Gingerbread Muffins

Gingersnaps are one of my favorite cookies, but it's always hit or miss when I make them. They either turn out rock hard or taste funny. I found this recipe and wondered if it would be too good to be true.

As it turns out, I did not like these at first, but they grew on me. I've never actually had gingerbread, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I think the trick to these, that I did not make sure to do, is make sure everything is incorporated together at the end. As I was filling my muffin cups I noticed there were some big streaks of the molasses mixture, and those muffins turned out kind of weird!

In the end, most of the muffins turned out great! These were very moist, fluffy and full of gingerbread flavor. I was hesitant to make these because I had to buy buttermilk, but stay tuned to see how I used the rest of the carton:)

Gingerbread Muffins
Source: Vintage Victuals, adapted from Nathalie Dupree's recipe for Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
 2 1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coca cola, apple cider or apple juice
1 tsp. brandy flavoring or vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line or grease well a muffin tin, and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the molasses and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, the coke or juice, and the brandy or vanilla flavoring. Add these two mixtures to the molasses mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Beat until the batter is smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when lightly touched with a finger. Yield about 18 muffins.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Baked Shrimp in Lemony Garlic Sauce

In my world, lemon and garlic are always perfect together. When you add shrimp, it becomes an amazing combination. I have been making this shrimp for awhile, but I think this time I finally found my favorite way to serve it.

This dish comes together in a matter of minutes, and you can serve it with rice, pasta, crusty bread, cous cous etc. Another plus is if served alone, it is relatively healthy for you, only 4 weight watchers points per serving!

Baked Shrimp in Lemony Garlic Sauce

1 1/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I always just use frozen shrimp, and it works out great if you pull of the tails after you defrost the shrimp so you don't have to worry about them when you eat)
1 spray cooking spray
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbls. butter, melted
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper
2 Tbls. parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Arrange shrimp in a single layer in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine lemon juice and next 5 ingredients; pour over shrimp.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until shrimp are done. Sprinkle parsley over shrimp; serve immediately.

*I served this with cavatappi pasta and green beans that were boiled along with the noodles for about 4 minutes; drain noodles and beans, pour shrimp and sauce in with noodles and beans. Grate some parmesan cheese in, add extra extra-virgin olive oil if needed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup

Baked potato soup is one of my favorite soups this time of year, so I was very intrigued to find a recipe to make it in the slow cooker. When I saw that Cub has 5lb bags of potatoes for 68 cents (!) this week I figured it was a great time to try this.

Wow, is this soup good. It is so creamy, perfectly seasoned, and tastes better than some restaurant soup I've had. The only difficult thing about this recipe is that I do not have an immersion blender or a potato masher, so I ended up just using my blender and doing about 3 batches of soup. I did leave some big chunks of potato as well. Also, this makes A LOT of soup, so make sure your slow cooker is at least 6 quarts. We probably have enough left over to eat for lunch and dinner for the whole week! Maybe next time I'll try to halve the recipe.
Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup
Source: A Year of Slow Cooking, adapted from RecipeZaar

-5 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced in 1 to 2-inch chunks
-1 teeny onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon seasoned salt
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon red pepper
-2 quarts chicken broth (8 cups)
-2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, to add at the end
-crumbled bacon and green onion or chives as garnish (optional)

Use a 6 quart or larger slow cooker. Peel and dice the potatoes, and put them into the stoneware. Add onion and garlic. Sprinkle in the seasonings, and pour in the broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4. The potatoes should be fork-tender. You can use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the soup, or a hand-held immersible blender. I suppose you can also leave the potatoes in chunks, if you really wanted, but I wanted a smooth soup.

After smashing the potatoes, crumble in both packages of cream cheese, and put the lid back on. Cook on high for about 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese is completely dissolved. Stir a few times during the 30 minutes. (I let it cook for about 1 hour more after adding the cheese)

Garnish with crumbled bacon, green onion or chives, and I'd assume cheddar cheese would be just delightful.

Tiramisu Bundt Cake

Mmm, coffee and Kahlua, such a great combination. This cake is amazing. I really don't know what else to say, it is so moist, with a hint of coffee and Kahlua flavor. I was not at work for 2 weeks, so I decided to bring this cake as a sort of "welcome me back, thanks for not firing me" treat, and I have never had such rave reviews from my co-workers. They always love when I bring treats, but the response was nothing like this, I think they had the cake gone in less than 2 hours. I can't wait for an excuse to make this again!

Tiramisu Bundt Cake
Source: Baking Bites

3 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup espresso or very strong coffee
1/4 cup Kahlua

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking power and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk into the large bowl, ending with an addition of flour, and mixing just until everything is incorporated.

Remove 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Remove another cup of batter into a second small bowl. Add espresso to one of the small bowls and whisk until well-combined. Add Kahlua to the second small bowl and whisk until well combined.

Pour half of the plain batter into the bundt pan and spread into an even layer. Pour the Kahlua batter into an even layer on top of the plain batter. Pour espresso batter on top of Kahlua batter. These batters maybe slightly thinner, but do not mix or stir them. Carefully spread all remaining plan batter into the bundt pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Serves 16.

Kahlua Mascarpone Frosting

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4-oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat at medium-high speed until very smooth and fluffy. Use a butter knife or spatula to apply the frosting to the bundt in a thick, even layer.

Bacon Potato Frittata

Growing up, I loved having breakfast for dinner. Something about pancakes at night was comforting and fun. However, I am now married to someone who has never allowed me to cook breakfast for dinner. This frittata was my way of tricking him into it, and we paired it with blueberry muffins so it really was like breakfast!

I have never made a frittata before, and it is so quick, easy and versatile that I foresee more in the future. However, I do not have a non-stick skillet so we had some trouble getting this out of the pan. I will add a non-stick skillet to my neverending list of kitchen gadgets and tools I want.

Bacon Potato Frittata
Source: Recipezaar

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 teaspoons finely snipped fresh basil or dried basil, crushed  (I used parsley)
salsa (optional) or sour cream (optional)

Using a large, nonstick skillet, cook bacon pieces until crisp; Reserve 2 T. of bacon drippings; Drain bacon pieces on paper towel.

Add potato slices to skillet with reserved bacon drippings; Cover and cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes until tender and lightly browned.

Turn potato slices over and turn down heat to prevent over-browning (if necessary).

In large bowl, beat eggs, milk, pepper, and salt until combined. Stir in cheese, green onion, and basil(parsley). Set aside.

Spread cooked potatoes in an even layer over the bottom of skillet.
Sprinkle the bacon over the potatoes.
Pour in egg mixture.

Cover, reduce heat to medium low.

Cook 15 to 20 minutes until top surface of egg is set.

Decrease heat to low if necessary, to allow center to cook without over-cooking the edges.

Loosen edges of frittata from pan, carefully invert onto large serving plate.

Cut into wedges.

Put a dollop of sour cream or salsa on top right before serving, if desired.

Crockpot Burrito Soup

This was one of those recipes that I knew immediately when I saw it, I would need to make it, and make it soon! This soup is delicious and so comforting. It also seems to be much tastier the next day, but don't most soups and chili's?

I've actually made this twice already, and it is definitely better if it cooks for a long period of time. The first time we had this, it only cooked for a couple hours and it was very bland, but by the next day everything had married together and it was great. The second time, I let it cook for about 6 hours, and it was perfect. We also upped the rice to about 1 cup, so it is very thick and more like a chili than a soup. I also used a whole cup of corn just to get more veggies in:) We also don't used ground beef, so I used ground turkey. My changes are reflected in the recipe below (refer to originals to see the difference).

Crockpot Burrito Soup
Source: adapted from Loves to Eat, originally from elly says opa!

2 tsp. oil

1 large onion, diced
1 lb. ground turkey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
5 cups beef broth
2 Tbsp. aleppo (or any) chili powder)
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked rice (or, cook rice separately)


Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and add oil. Cook the onions for a couple minutes before adding the turkey. Brown the turkey with the onion and drain if necessary. Put back on the heat and stir in the garlic, just until fragrant.

Pour the turkey mixture into the crockpot and then add the tomato sauce, beef broth, spices, corn and black beans. Cook on low for…however long you’re gone.

Increase temp to high and add the rice, just until cooked. Alternatively you can put the cooked rice in bowls and ladle the soup over it. Garnish with your favorite toppings.