Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ultimate Magic Bars

I found this recipe on Brown Eyed Bakers blog.  I thought these would be fun to make for work as a Monday morning treat.  Anthony is in charge of taste control and gave these a big thumps up.  Easy to make although waiting for them to cool and cut could be torturous.

Ultimate Magic Bars
By:  Brown Eyed Baker

For the Crust:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour

For the Bars:
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
1½ cups shredded coconut
¼ cup caramel sauce, microwaved for 15 seconds
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to hang over all sides.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour and mix until crumbly. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake until the edges are light golden brown, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven, then sprinkle the chopped pecans over the crust, and top with the shredded coconut. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over top, then drizzle with the melted caramel sauce. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and return to the oven until the edges are light brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares. The bars can be kept at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ben & Jerry's Homemade Oreo Mint Ice Cream

Years ago I visited the original Ben and Jerry's in Burlington, Vermont and after seeing how the magic was made and sampling their sweet treats I just had to get myself a souvenir from the gift shop.  My selection was this Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream Cookbook.  Last weekend Anthony and I made Oreo Mint Ice Cream.  I took the recipe up a notch in the mint department by using Mint Oreo's vs. traditional Oreo's.

Oreo Mint Ice Cream
By:  Ben & Jerry's Cookbook

2/3 cup coarsely chopped Mint or Regular Oreo Cookies
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons peppermint extract

Place the cookies in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.  Pour in the cream and milk, and whisk to blend.  Add the peppermint extract and blend again.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the chopped cookies, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

Makes generous 1 quart.

Beef Enchiladas

Alex and I whipped up these delicious Beef Enchiladas from Brown Eyed Baker on Thursday.  They are flavorful, spicy and the meat was very tender.  The only change I would consider is maybe making a little extra sauce as ours really cooked down.  You can increase or decrease the level of spice by adjusting the amount of jalapenos you add.  The recipe takes about 2 1/2 hours so plan on extra time from start to finish.

Beef Enchiladas
By:  Brown Eyed Baker

3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ pounds boneless chuck steaks, trimmed of fat
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
½ cup water
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded, divided
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped canned pickled jalapeños (more or less depending on spice level you would like)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas 

1. In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, sugar and salt.
2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sprinkle the meat with salt and cook until browned on both sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate.
3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions to the pot and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the meat is tender and can be broken apart easily, about 1½ hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Strain the beef mixture over a medium bowl. Transfer the meat and any other solids to a separate medium bowl and break the beef into small pieces. Mix together with half of the shredded cheeses, the cilantro and the jalapeños.
6. Spread ¾ cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Microwave the tortillas according to package directions to soften. Spread about ⅓ cup of the beef mixture down the center of each tortilla, roll up tightly, and place in the baking dish seam-side down. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the enchiladas and spread to ensure that all of the ends are covered in sauce.
7. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top of the enchiladas, cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Make-Ahead: The beef filling and sauce can be prepared through step #5 and refrigerated in separate containers for up to 2 days. Prepare the rest of the recipe as directed, increasing the covered baking time by 5 minutes.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Grilled Pork Kebabs with Hoisin and Five-Spice

This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.  The sauce is delicious and the meat is very tender.  A new favorite for sure!

Grilled Pork Kebabs with Hoisin and Five-Spice

Pork tenderloin is popular because it’s lean and reasonably priced, but it lacks flavor and tends to be dry. Grilling increases flavor but only on the meat’s exterior. By cutting the tenderloin into 1-inch cubes for kebabs, we create more surface area for flavorful char. We also salt the chunks briefly to help the pork retain moisture. We toss the pork pieces in a flavorful, low-moisture glaze (which contains added cornstarch to help it cling) and thread them onto skewers. A mid-cooking application of glaze adds extra zing, and the brief time on the grill minimizes moisture loss.

2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

4 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Vegetable oil spray

2 scallions, thinly sliced 


1. Toss pork and salt together in large bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk five-spice powder, garlic powder, and cornstarch together in bowl. Add hoisin to five-spice mixture and stir to combine. Set aside 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin mixture.

2. Add remaining hoisin mixture to pork and toss to coat. Thread pork onto four 12-inch metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Spray both sides of meat generously with oil spray.

3A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

3B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place skewers on hotter side of grill and grill until well charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip skewers, brush with reserved hoisin mixture, and continue to grill until second side is well charred and meat registers 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to serving platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cinnamon Swirled Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I found this recipe on the Buns in My Oven blog and it does not disappoint!  Her description perfectly describes the deliciousness:
This pumpkin coffee cake is loaded with as much pumpkin as possible making it dense and creamy, almost like a pie!
Cinnamon Swirled Pumpkin Coffee Cake
By:  Buns In My Oven -
For the cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown cup sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree

For the cinnamon swirl:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cold and cut into small squares
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream


To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Spread half of batter in prepared baking pan. Pour half of the cinnamon swirl over the batter and drag a knife through the batter to swirl it around. Top with the remaining batter and repeat with the remaining cinnamon swirl mixture. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.

Bake coffee cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before glazing and serving.
To make the cinnamon swirl:
In a small saucepan melt all of the ingredients together, stirring constantly.
To make the crumb topping:
Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until you have coarse crumbs.
To make the glaze:
Whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Almond-Vanilla Butter Rounds

Almond-Vanilla Butter Rounds

From:  Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans
Makes 18 large cookies

2 ¾ cups cake flour
½ teaspoon  baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
18 whole unblanched (with skins) almonds

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract until smoothly blended, about 1 minute.  On low speed add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.  The dough will be soft and sticky.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is cold and firm enough to roll into balls with your hands without sticking, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using an ice-cream scoop or measuring cup with a ¼ cup capacity, scoop out mounds of dough.  Roll each mound between palms of your hands into a smooth ball, flatten it into a 3-inch circle, and place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Press a nut into the center of each cookie.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are light brown, about 22 minutes.  Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then use a wide spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Comfort Meatballs by Ree Drummond

On our meatball recipe quest we whipped up a double batch of these tasty comfort meatballs (recipe by Ree Drummond - The Pioneer Woman - Food Network) last night.  Alex and I both liked the tangy sauce but Anthony thought the flavor was too heavy in the vinegar department for his taste buds.  He is more of a brown gravy sort of guy.  Still the meatballs were incredibly moist and I would highly recommend the base of the recipe even if you select a different sauce. 

Comfort Meatballs 
Recipe by:  Ree Drummond (Food Network - The Pioneer Woman)

For Meatballs
1-1/2 pound Ground Beef
3/4 cups Oats
1 cup Milk
3 Tablespoons Very Finely Minced Onion
1-1/2 teaspoon Salt
Plenty Of Ground Black Pepper, to taste
For Cooking Meatballs
1 cup All-Purpose Flour (coating For Frozen Meatballs)
Canola Oil  

For Sauce
1 cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
4 Tablespoons (to 6 Tablespoons) Onion
1 dash Tabasco

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour.
Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serve with egg noodles, rice, mashed potatoes, or crusty French bread.

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Last night I baked up a batch of Rosemary Shortbread Cookies.  The Rosemary gives the cookies a very Victorian twist.  I like the combination of herbs in cookies.  This recipe is from (

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white or colored sugar for decoration

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in the flour, salt and rosemary until well blended.  The dough will be somewhat soft.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into rectangles or use your favorite cookie cutters.  Place cookies 1 inch apart on the lined cookie sheets.  Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the tops.

Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden at the edges.  Cool on wire racks, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.  The flavor improve with age (best two days after), keeping for about a week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lemon Loaf Cake

Kelly Reed introduced me to this amazing bread.  It can be made gluten free or with regular flour. It is very moist and lemony! I have already made a loaf for work and it was a huge hit!

Lemon Loaf Cake
This is a knock off recipe of Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake


1 1/2 gluten free (or regular) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temp.
1 c. sugar
2 TBS butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 (I added a tad more as I love lemon!) fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. canola or corn or coconut oil
zest of one lemon (reserve 1/2 tsp for the glaze)

1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
(You can adjust these quantities depending on if you want a more sweet or more tart glaze.)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl; combine flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
3. In a medium bowl; combine eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice with a mixer until blended.
4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend until smooth. Add lemon zest and mix well.
5. Pour into a 9 x 5" loaf pan and bake for 30-45 minutes; until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
6. Glaze; whisk all ingredients to combine.
7. Pour glaze over cooled cake.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

I have made these cookies many times since printing the recipe in December 2013 from Starbucks.  They have not posted it again but I believe it is from the cookbook by La Boulage:  Café Cooking at Home which you can purchase from the Starbucks on-line store.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
(Makes 30 Cookies)

1 and ¼ cups (2 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 egg for egg wash (if desired)

Gather your ingredients.

Cut the butter into cubes.  In a large bowl, mix the sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Add the flour and salt and use your hands to mix until you have dough with a crumbly consistency.  Add the vanilla extract and water, and mix again with your hands.

Add the chocolate chips and mix.

Roll the dough into one large log.  Cut in half lengthwise, and roll each piece to create two equal logs, about 2-inches in diameter.   Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the dough into rounds 1/3 inch thick.  Arrange as many as you can fit on a nonstick baking sheet or parchment paper-lined sheet.  Brush with egg wash, if desired.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown.  Repeat with the remaining dough.


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