Saturday, December 21, 2013

Grandmother Paula's Red Velvet Cake

Can you feel it?  The Christmas spirit, that is??

This time of year is magical.  My parents and grandparents made this time of year so special and unforgettable growing up.  From hearing Santa on the roof, to spotting Rudolph's shining red nose in the Christmas Eve sky, to impatiently waiting at the top of the stairs with my little sisters on Christmas morning, waiting until we were given the go-ahead to come scrambling down the stairs to see what goodies Santa had brought.

Even as an adult, those memories make this time of year just as special.

As I sit here illuminated by the glow of the Christmas tree lights, I'm thankful for the blessings that have come my way.  Among all the holiday shopping, parties, and gift wrapping, it's always fun to bake traditional Christmas goodies.    It just wouldn't be Christmas-time without some homemade sweet treats.  

When it comes to traditional holiday desserts, I can't think of any cake more reminiscent of the season than a strikingly-red, Red Velvet Cake.

This recipe from Paula Deen turned out beautifully.  I made it for our annual Christmas party/luncheon at work, and it was a big hit.  This cake had a somewhat dense, yet tender texture that was moist and perfect.  I did not use Paula's icing recipe after reading the reviews.  It incorporated melted marshmallows, and several reviewers noted that it was a little too sweet.  Instead, I used one of my favorite, classic cream cheese icing recipes and simply added a cup of shredded coconut to give it a twist.

This one will definitely be my go-to recipe in the future.  

Bon Appetit and Merry Christmas, my friends!!!

Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from:  Grandmother Paula's Red Velvet Cake, from Paula Deen

2 cups sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar 

Cream Cheese Icing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. 

Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. 

In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into 3 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing:
Adapted from:  Annette Harrell
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 stick margarine, room temperature
1 lb. confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth. Add vanilla. Slowly add small portions of the confectioners sugar and mix on low until well blended. Stir in shredded coconut.  

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tostadas Salsa Verde

Oh, how I love this dish.  First of all, Brad and I adore Mexican food.  We make it a point to fit it into our schedules at least once a week, if not more.  Secondly, this dish is so easy and flavorful, that I made it three times within the same week.  See, we had extra ingredients on hand after the first night, and I didn't want them to go to waste.  The solution?  Enjoy it multiple times, of course!

Making use of a rotisserie chicken makes this meal even easier.  If you can't get your hands on a rotisserie chicken, simply poach some chicken breasts ahead of time and shred the meat.  In fact, that's what the original recipe called for.

The tortillas are covered with shredded cheese and then baked to crispy, cheesy perfection.  Then, they are topped with a mixture of tender chicken, salsa verde, fresh cilantro and ground cumin.  This all bakes in the oven until piping hot, and then it's served with a mountain of shredded lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream on top.

Um, yum!

It sort of reminded me of a Mexican pizza of sorts.  You'll love this, folks!

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Tostadas Salsa Verde
Adapted from:  Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart, pg. 211

4 (6-inch) flour tortillas
3 ounces shredded (3/4 cup) pepper Jack cheese

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken)
1 cup jarred green salsa, plus more for serving

1/4 cup chopped, plus 2 tablespoons cilantro

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

3 plum tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup sour cream

Directions:Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese evenly over tortillas; bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together chicken, salsa, 1/4 cup cilantro, and cumin. Spoon mixture evenly over tortillas; bake until heated through, about 8 minutes.

Top with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve immediately, with additional green salsa, if desired. 

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Perfectly Sweet Chocolate Chip Muffins

Gracious...I've missed blogging lately.  Every once in a while, life just gets in the way and prevents me from blogging as much as I'd like.  I promise I'll do better...especially with all the holiday deliciousness coming up VERY soon!  (Oh my goodness, is it really almost Thanksgiving!?!)

Hopefully, I can make up for it a little bit with these mouth-watering muffins that will make a perfectly sweet treat for your out-of-town guests over the Thanksgiving holiday.  They are great for a sinful treat at breakfast, yet they are an equally perfect mid-afternoon snack.

I made these as a post-birthday surprise for my 9 year old niece over the weekend.  She was one happy camper when she woke up to the smell of these babies wafting through the air.  I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, just so they wouldn't cross the line of being TOO sweet first thing in the morning.  You could also add your favorite nuts to the batter, if you feel like it.

Now, I'm just wondering  what these would taste like with a little banana added to the batter.  Hmm...I just might try that next time. 

Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Perfectly Sweet Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light-brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (11 1/2 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease twelve muffin cups with no-stick cooking spray, or line with baking cups.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flour, both sugars, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla until blended.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just to combine.
Stir in chocolate chips and spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. 

Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.  Remove muffin tin to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

Note:  These muffins can be frozen.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Delicious Turkey Chili

It's very possible that a hot bowl of chili is among the very best ways to remedy a cold fall evening.  Don't you agree?  My mom-in-law, Carol, makes an out-of-this-world chili, which I've written about HERE.  It's amazing.  I'll forever compare any chili that I have from here on out to hers.  

This lightened up version, adapted from Guy Fieri, was actually pretty dadgum delicious.  Ground turkey is a much healthier alternative to the traditional ground beef.  I also used reduced sodium beans, so that I could be more in control of the salt content.  

Don't let the long ingredients list scare you away from this one.  All of the elements are common ingredients and are easy to prepare.  It all gets tossed into a large pot and simmered for an hour, which is super easy.  

The red & green bell peppers, garlic, red onions and turkey make a fabulous base and are perfectly seasoned with a variety of spices, like chili powder, paprika, and cumin.   Using three different kinds of beans also makes this chili extra special.  The tomato paste and tomato sauce just add to the deliciousness, and shredded cheddar is a classic garnish to finish it off.

And you know what?  This chili is even "Carol Approved!"  She loved it!  :)

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Delicious Turkey Chili
Adapted from:  Ryder's Turkey Chili by Guy Fieri

4 tablespoons canola oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 jalapeno peppers, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
9 cloves garlic, minced
2 small red onions, diced
3 pounds coarsely ground turkey (thigh and breast meat)
1/3 cup tomato paste
3 cups tomato sauce
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups canned pinto beans with liquid
3 cups canned kidney beans with liquid
2 cups canned black beans with liquid
Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
Saltine crackers, for serving

Warm the oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic and red onions and cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add the turkey and gently stir, trying not to break up the meat too much; cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and sauce, stir for 4 minutes, then add the chicken broth. Add the granulated onion and garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, 2 tablespoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Stir in the beans and their liquid, lower the heat and cook, uncovered, for at least 1 hour. Garnish with shredded cheddar and serve with saltines.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Nutella Cappuccino Ice Cream with Roasted Hazelnuts

I'm pretty sure that this ice cream is served by the bowl-full in heaven.  

No, I'm serious.

On a recent trip to TN, I came across some farm-fresh milk (You know, the non-homogenized kind with the cream on top).  I had never been lucky enough to try milk that fresh, so I bought it and started dreaming of recipes to use it up. 

My first thought - ice cream!

I know we're a little past peak ice cream season, but come on...some things are so amazing that they need to be - no, they MUST be - enjoyed all year long.   Anything less would be tragic.  This particular flavor was inspired by our trip to Italy.  We had the most amazing Nutella Cappuccinos while visiting Rome, in a little cafe near the Coliseum.  It was bliss, and I wanted to try and re-create those unforgettable flavors.  After all, nutella and coffee are a match made in heaven.

The real stars of this ice cream are the roasted hazelnuts.  It just wouldn't be quite as marvelous without them.  I took whole hazelnuts and roasted them to toasty, fragrant perfection, then chopped them up and added them right to the ice cream base as it was being whirled around in the ice cream machine.  A generous portion of nutella is also added during the freezing process, so that you end up with wonderful little nuggets of nutella throughout.

"Nuggets of nutella"...Doesn't that sound just delightful? :)

By the way, the farm fresh milk was the best milk I've ever had in my life, and it made a big difference in this ice cream.  If using farm fresh milk, just use 4 cups of milk, instead of the milk and cream quantities listed below. 

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Nutella Cappucino Ice Cream with Roasted Hazelnuts
Ice cream base adapted from:  Emeril Lagasse's recipe for Coffee Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup nutella
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts

Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and coffee in a medium, heavy saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

 Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, to the hot cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.

 Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

While the ice cream base is chilling in the fridge, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven.  Roast for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant.  Transfer the hazelnuts to a cutting board and chop.  Let cool completely. 

Remove ice cream base from the refrigerator and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.  About half-way through the freezing process, begin adding the nutella.  Do this by dropping very small bits of nutella into the ice cream as it churns, until it is all gone.  With this method, you will end up with small chunks of nutella throughout the ice cream.  If you see any large chunks of nutella, break them up with a spoon the best you can.  Once all of the nutella is incorporated, add the chopped hazelnuts and continue to freeze until done. 

After the ice cream is made, transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve. 

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Smoked Chicken Salad

I love a good, tasty salad, and pretty much any salad that incorporates roasted walnuts, pecans or almonds is at the top of my list.   This one caught my eye while scanning the pages of my latest Food Network Magazine.  While glancing at the ingredients list, I noticed something that I had never cooked with before - hearts of palm.  I had heard of this unfamiliar ingredient before but never used it.  I was intrigued, so I dog-eared the page.

Fast forward about a week, and this salad graced our dinner table.  If you're a fan of salad dressings made with greek yogurt, then you'll love this.  It's such a healthy alternative to others.  The blue cheese knocks the dressing down a few notches on the healthy scale, but it adds a great creaminess and flavor to the dressing, which complements the roasted walnuts wonderfully.

To be honest, Brad was not a huge fan of this salad, for two reasons:  

#1:  He doesn't really like greek yogurt
#2:  He wasn't crazy about the flavor of the hearts of palm.  

On the other hand, I thought this salad was really good.  If you're unsure about the hearts of palm, just leave it out.  In my opinion, it's not really vital.  The original recipe also included beets, which I did leave out.

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Smoked Chicken Salad

Adapted from:  Food Network Magazine

1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 6-ounce package baby spinach
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, drained and halved lengthwise
3 small cucumbers, roughly chopped
1 8-ounce smoked chicken breast, thinly sliced
4 whole-grain dinner rolls

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast until golden, 10 to 12 minutes; let cool slightly, then chop.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk the yogurt, blue cheese, shallot and 1 tablespoon water in a large bowl; whisk in another tablespoon of water if the dressing is too thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the spinach, tomatoes, hearts of palm, cucumbers and beets to the bowl with the dressing and toss. Add the chicken and toss again. Divide among plates and top with the walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the rolls.

Per serving: Calories 370; Fat 14 g (Saturated 4 g); Cholesterol 42 mg; Sodium 1,514 mg; Carbohydrate 46 g; Fiber 12 g; Protein 25 g
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rosemary Chicken with Corn Quinoa


Can I just start out by saying how much I loved this meal?  It's such a flavor-packed combination that's filled with healthy goodness like red quinoa, corn and kale.  But, this isn't one of those puny, healthy meals that leaves you hungry.  No sir...This is one of those dinners that will make you realize that eating healthy can be delicious!

Plus, it's such a pretty meal, that you'll want to dig right in.  The chicken is super simple to make.  Chicken breasts are flavored with fresh rosemary, salt & pepper, and then sauteed until done.  Next, the quinoa is flavored with onions, garlic, fresh basil, mint and lemon juice.


My mouth is seriously watering right now.

Be sure and use fresh rosemary, basil and mint if possible.  Fresh herbs make a big difference with this recipe.  

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Rosemary Chicken with Corn Quinoa

Adapted from:  Southern Living magazine September 2013

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon
kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon
freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon
minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons
olive oil

Fresh Corn Quinoa (recipe below)

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and rosemary. 

Cook in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 6 minutes on each side or until done. 

Serve with quinoa.

Fresh Corn Quinoa
Adapted from:  Southern Living magazine September 2013

1 1/2 cups uncooked red quinoa
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups water
2 small onions, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh corn kernels
6 cups shredded kale
1/2 cup
torn basil

1/4 cup torn mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Bring quinoa, salt, and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until tender; drain. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, sauté onions in hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat 3 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add corn kernels and shredded kale; cook 2 minutes or until wilted.  Add quinoa, basil, mint, and fresh lemon juice.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Baked Gnocchi with Chicken

Here in Birmingham, AL, the leaves are JUST starting to change color, and there's been a wonderful nip in the air at night.  Last evening while out and about with the hubs, I wished I had a light coat for the first time all season.  Autumn is upon us, which is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year.  

This recipe for Baked Gnocchi with Chicken is absolutely perfect for these cooler nights.  It is a hearty dish that will warm your tummy and leave you happy.  The word "comforting" comes to mind when trying to describe this dinner.

I've been slightly obsessed with gnocchi lately.  I don't know what it is.  I've been purchasing store-bought gnocchi, but I'd love to learn to make it from scratch.  Oh, one of these days!  There's no better time than the present, I reckon.  I need to add that to my culinary "To-Do" list.  Who has a homemade gnocchi recipe they'd be willing to share?

I loved this dish because it's packed with sauteed mushrooms, wilted baby spinach, and parmesan cheesy goodness.  The chicken broth and nutmeg really help develop some great flavors.  Plus, the use of a rotisserie chicken makes this meal really easy to whip together.

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Baked Gnocchi with Chicken
Adapted from Food Network magazine

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 2 cups)
1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
1 1/2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a deep ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat; add the flour and cook, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and chicken broth until smooth; simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt and the nutmeg.

Add the chicken, mushrooms, gnocchi and spinach to the sauce and stir until coated and the spinach wilts. Sprinkle with the parmesan, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler; broil until lightly browned on top, about 3 more minutes.

Per serving: Calories 598; Fat 35 g (Saturated 16 g); Cholesterol 177 mg; Sodium 984 mg; Carbohydrate 32 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 39 g
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Strawberry Cake with Chocolate Frosting

As of yesterday, I am officially the big 3-0.  

I know, right?!?  YUCK. 

As it turns out though, 30 isn't so bad.  In fact, I'm pretty excited to see what the next year has in store.  If my thirties are anything like my twenties, I can only be happy.  After all, I've always been a glass half-full kind of girl.  :)

To celebrate, my sweet Brad baked me the most delicious, mouth-watering cake.  It was a strawberry cake with dark chocolate frosting.  So, if you're a fan of chocolate-covered strawberries, then friends ,this is YOUR cake! 

I've been obsessed with THIS STRAWBERRY CAKE from the first time I baked it.  I've made it countless times since, and friends and family always request it.  I got to thinking - Wouldn't it be heavenly smothered in chocolate frosting instead?  The answer?  A resounding YES!  Brad used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa for the frosting, because we are big fans of darker chocolate.  However, you can use regular unsweetened cocoa, if you prefer.

I also recently made this cake for a bridal shower, and I served chocolate-covered strawberries on the side.  That combo was a huge hit.

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Strawberry Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Cake Adapted from:  Paula Deen

Frosting Adapted from:  Hershey's Kitchens

Strawberry Cake
1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry flavored instant gelatin?
10 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries, stems removed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour 2 round 9-inch cake pans.

  If using frozen strawberries, thaw ahead of time and bring to room temperature, reserving the juices as they thaw.  If using fresh strawberries, remove the stems.  Using a blender or food processor, puree your strawberries.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Spread Chocolate Frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (regular or dark, depending on your preference)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp strawberry flavored extract

Stir melted butter into cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in strawberry extract.
(Yields about 2 cups frosting.)

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Bake a Difference for Pediatric Cancer: Mega Chocolate Reese's Cookies

Anytime that blogging can be used for a good cause, I'm all in.  September happens to be Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and the folks at OXO are gearing up for their annual program benefiting Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

Cookies for Kids' Cancer is a wonderful program which makes it possible to easily get involved in fundraising to find a cure for pediatric cancer.  It's a program that I've thought about getting involved with for quite some time now, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate with my blog.

You see, OXO will donate $100.00 to the organization for each blog post dedicated to this campaign in September!  Also, be on the lookout for OXO products with the following sticker attached: 

OXO sent a variety of cookie tools to help with all the cookie baking!

For every stickered item sold, OXO will donate $0.25 in support of pediatric cancer research, as part of its $100,000.00 pledge!

For my cookie post, I chose a recipe meant for all the serious chocoholics out there.  These cookies are filled with so much chocolate, that I couldn't believe it.  Have you ever made cookies that required 2 cups of melted chocolate right in the batter...Plus MORE chocolate chunks and cocoa powder?!?  It was a first for me.  On top of all that chocolate wonderfulness, a cup of Reese's Pieces was added to the mix.

Oh, dear.

If you love brownies like I do, then these cookies will be your new favorite.  The texture and taste reminded me so much of a chewy brownie...In the best possible way.  They were almost even better the following day, when completely cooled.  This made the Reese's Pieces stand out even more.  Just be sure and have a tall glass of milk nearby...It will be the perfect accompaniment! 

Bon Appetit, my friends!

P.S. - Learn how to host a Cookies for Kids' Cancer fundraiser HERE!

Mega Chocolate Reese's Cookies
Adapted from:  A Pumpkin & A Princess

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
1 cup mini peanut butter pieces

Melt 2 cups of semisweet chocolate over a double boiler or in microwave, set aside to cool.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk eggs and vanilla extract.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a stand mixer or with hand mixer for 4-6 minutes.  Beat in egg mixture for 30 seconds. Slowly add melted chocolate and beat until well incorporated.
Reduce mixer speed to lowest setting and slowly add flour mixture.

Stir in chocolate chunks and peanut butter pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will help the dough thicken to a fudge-like consistency.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop dough with cookie scoop and drop 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly press down on the cookies.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

Serve warm or allow to cool completely then store in airtight container. 

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Caramel Apple Blondie Pie

When was the last time you saw a food photo and practically had to pick your tongue off the floor and recover from the deliciousness before you?  When I received the latest issue of Southern Living recently, a similar event unfolded.  There I was, drooling over a pie with caramelized apple wedges, ooey gooey caramel sauce, and buttery, flaky layers.  It had all the makings of autumn in a pie dish.

I admit - Maybe its because I'm craving all the pumpkiny, apple-filled goodness that is the fall season.  I've had just about enough of the humid, sweltering days of a southern summer.  I'm going to welcome fall with open arms and not look back (or maybe look back a few times as I miss the juicy tomatoes and bursting-with-goodness berries that fill the summer farmers' market stalls!)

This pie was everything I dreamed it would be - Toasted pecans are sprinkled throughout the blondie batter, and the caramelized apple wedges have just the right texture and sweetness.  A store-bought pie crust helps make it a little easier, and the smells that will fill your home while baking this should be bottled and put in a candle.

Welcome fall with this delicious dessert...You'll love this one, folks!

Bon Appetit, my friends! :)

Caramel Apple Blondie Pie
Adapted from:  Southern Living magazine; Sept. 2013

6 large Granny Smith apples (about 3 lb.)
2 tablespoons
all-purpose flour

2 cups
firmly packed light brown sugar, divided

1 cup
butter, divided
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon
table salt

large eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons
(I omitted this)
3/4 cup
coarsely chopped toasted pecans

(14.1-oz.) package refrigerated pie crusts

Peel apples, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. Toss with 2 Tbsp. flour and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a large bowl. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture, and sauté 15 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid is thickened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Melt remaining 3/4 cup butter. Stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, bourbon, 3/4 cup melted butter, and remaining 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, stirring until blended. Stir in pecans.

Fit piecrust into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, gently pressing piecrust all the way up the sides of skillet. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture over bottom of piecrust, spreading and gently pressing apple slices into an even layer using the back of a spoon. Spoon batter over apple mixture; top with remaining apple mixture.

Place pie on lower oven rack, and bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from oven; cool pie completely on a wire rack.

Drizzle cooled pie with 1/3 cup Apple Cider Caramel Sauce. Serve with remaining sauce.

Apple Cider Caramel 
 from:  Southern Living magazine; Sept. 2013

1 cup apple cider

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar  
1/2 cup butter  
1/4 cup whipping cream

Cook cider in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. 

Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, and cool completely. Refrigerate up to 1 week.

To reheat, microwave at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or just until warm; stir until smooth.

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White Lily Giveaway Winner!!!

First of all, thanks to everyone who entered my latest giveaway from White Lily, in celebration of National Biscuit Month.  The winner of this awesome prize is:

Comment #28:

Anonymous said... 28 My favorite type of biscuit is any kind with apple butter on it! :)  -Maranne


Sunday, September 8, 2013

White Chocolate Raspberry Biscuit Bread Pudding + A GIVEAWAY!

Did you know that it's National Biscuit Month?  Pretty awesome, huh?  What do you say we celebrate by making a mouth-watering, ridiculously delicious white chocolate bread pudding.  BUT - This isn't just any old bread pudding.  It's made with made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits, which give it an incredible texture and presentation.   In fact, my father-in-law is a self-proclaimed bread pudding expert, and he deemed this bread pudding one of the best he's EVER had...That's serious stuff, folks!  :)

Trust me, there will be audible OOHs and AHHS when you pull this baby out of the oven.  The biscuits are cut in half and arranged prettily in a pie plate, only to be topped off by fresh raspberries and then smothered with a creamy white chocolate mixture that you'll want to take a bath in.  

Um, yes, please!

After you finish licking your plate from the goodness that was the biscuit bread pudding (it won't last long!), take a minute to enter my latest giveaway, which is sponsored by the wonderful folks at White Lily.  I mean, I can't think of a better giveaway, sponsored by a better company, to celebrate National Biscuit Month, can you??  The lucky winner will receive a Biscuit Essentials Kit, which includes:

White Lily Biscuit Essentials Kit:
  • "Save the Biscuit" Tote Bag
  • "Save the Biscuit" T-Shirt (so cute!!)
  • Biscuit cutter
  • Pastry Blender
  • Flour Sifter
  • 1 bag of White Lily flour
  • Tea towel 
Keep scrolling to the bottom of this post for directions on how to enter the giveaway...

Bon Appetit, my friends!

White Chocolate Raspberry Biscuit Bread Pudding
Adapted from:  White Lily

8 to 9 prepared White Lily Light & Fluffy Biscuits (recipe below)
6 ounces fresh raspberries (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 (12 oz.) package white baking chips
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

HEAT oven to 325°F. Coat 9 1/2- inch deep dish pie plate with no-stick cooking spray. Slice biscuits in half horizontally. Arrange, split side up, in a circular pattern in prepared pie plate. Arrange raspberries randomly over biscuits.

Microwave baking chips in uncovered microwave-safe bowl on medium high power for 1 minute and 15 seconds. Stir. If necessary, microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring just until melted. 

Combine milk and cream in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar in large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture and melted baking chips until blended.

Ladle egg mixture gently over biscuits until almost full, pressing down slightly to submerge. Let stand 20 minutes. Add remaining egg mixture as biscuits absorb liquid. Bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes or until firm and knife inserted 2 inches from edge comes out clean.

White Lily Light & Fluffy Biscuits

2 cups White Lily self-rising flour
1/4 cup all-vegetable shortening, chilled
2/3 to 3/4 cup buttermilk or milk

Heat oven to 500 degrees F.  Coat baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray.

Measure flour into large bowl.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender until crumbs are the size of peas.  Blend in just enough milk with fork until dough leaves the sides of bowl.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Knead gently 2 to 3 times.  Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut using floured 2-inch biscuit cutter.  Place on prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart for crisp sides or almost touching for soft sides.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.


How to  Enter the Giveaway:

Simply leave a comment on this blog post, which answers the following question:

What is your favorite type of biscuit?
Also, for extra chances to win, simply do the following and leave SEPARATE additional comments letting me know that you did:
The Rules:
  • Entries must be submitted by midnight (CST time) on Sunday, September 22nd
  • A winner will be picked at random (using and will be announced on Monday, September 23rd.
  • Please make sure you include your name and email address so that I will have a way to contact you if you win...especially if you leave a comment using the "Anonymous" option.
  • At this time, the contest is open to US residents only.
Good Luck, and THANKS for stopping by!  :)

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