BUCKEYE BROWNIE COOKIES

These Buckeye Brownie Cookies combine the best of both worlds…brownies and buckeyes! If you love buckeyes, but don’t like taking the time to dip them in chocolate, you’ll love this easy cookie recipe!



As you can see, we’re both still obsessed with peanut butter and chocolate. Let me tell you, I will never be done loving that perfect duo, so you can always be watching for a new recipe.  I’m sure a lot of you share this same love- I wouldn’t be surprised. Many people who claim to not like peanut butter and chocolate will find themselves eating one of these amazing cookies.

Who here loves buckeyes, brownies, and cookies? I know I do. The fudgy-chocolate flavor of brownies is one of my favorite desserts. Well, I have a lot of favorites. But I really, really, really like brownies. So to make it into a big, rich, gooey cookie with peanut butter surprises inside is over the top for me. Buckeye Brownie Cookies. What more could I ask for?
Now your only question is: How do I do it? I want one now!

The simple brownie batter is made using a boxed brownie mix, melted butter, egg, and softened cream cheese. I love that it uses a boxed brownie mix! So easy!

Here are a couple tips on how to get these Buckeye Brownie Cookies perfect:


  • When you’re baking the cookies, watch to make sure you don’t overcook them or under cook them. We baked ours a full 12 minutes and it was perfect. All ovens are different, so yours might take longer or shorter to cook. My suggestion? Set it at maybe 11 minutes, and watch it until it gets all the way done. Usually I like my brownies really gooey, but the bottom of the cookie needs to be cooked fully for it to hold the weight of the peanut butter. Trust me, it’s really still gooey. It’s brownies! How can it not be gooey and delicious?
  • We love to use Candiquik chocolate for dipping, drizzling, and dunking. This is no exception. We simply popped the chocolate in the microwave, took it out, gave it a little stir, and spooned it on the peanut butter part of the cookie. The Candiquik melts so quickly in the microwave. It just melts in your mouth, too.




You get the same classic taste of buckeyes without having to dip anything. Genius, right?!

Ingredients

  • 1 box fudge brownie mix (19.5 ounce or family size)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 oz. (1/2 block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 blocks (about 4 ounces) chocolate Candiquik or your favorite chocolate


Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat the brownie mix, butter, cream cheese, and egg. The dough will be a little sticky. Scoop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, making about 24 cookies. Smooth the edges of each to form a round cookie.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the powdered sugar and the peanut butter until it is completely combined. Form the mixture into about 1 inch balls. Make sure you have one ball for each cookie. Set aside.
  3. Bake for the cookie dough 12 minutes, keeping an eye out to make sure the cookies doesn't overcook or undercook.
  4. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press a peanut butter ball lightly into the center of each cookie. The peanut butter mixture will soften slightly, but that is OK. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Melt the 4 blocks of chocolate in a microwavable bowl for 45 seconds. Stir the chocolate and melt for additional 15 seconds or until the chocolate is completely melted. (Candiquik comes in 16 ounce packages. When you open it, there are 16 blocks. Cut off 4 of these blocks for this recipe.) Spoon about 1/2 a tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each cookie so it covers the peanut butter ball. Let the chocolate set. Store in an airtight container.

Baked Salmon Shrimp and Asparagus

With five little ones always needing my attention, I truly am a believer in one pan meals that are easy to prepare. The seasoning in this recipe is spectacular; it gives so much flavor to the salmon, shrimp and asparagus. My children love to take bread and dip it into the butter that melts, it’s so good. Oh and did I mention there is like 5 minute prep time? I don’t often say this but will this time, give this a try. You will not regret it.



Baked Salmon Shrimp and Asparagus
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Great one dish meal with salmon, shrimp and asparagus.
Ingredients
Ingredients for Baked Salmon Shrimp Asparagus-
  • 1 - 1 ½ lbs salmon
  • 1 lb shrimp, uncooked
  • ½ lb asparagus
  • 1 large lemon
  • 6 Tbsp butter, sliced
  • Seasoning-
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, optional
Instructions
How to make Baked Salmon Shrimp Asparagus-
  1. Devein shrimp and removed talk, if desired.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  3. Combine all ingredients for the seasoning.
  4. Cut salmon into four.
  5. Situate salmon and asparagus on a large baking sheet. Season salmon (top and sides) and asparagus (there will be leftover seasoning). Add lemon and butter slices to salmon and on the asparagus. Bake 5-7 minutes.
  6. Season shrimp, toss and repeat.
  7. Remove baking sheet from oven, turn asparagus. Add shrimp to baking sheet, spread out for even baking. Add leftover butter and lemon over shrimp. Return to oven; bake 5-7 minutes, until shrimp and salmon are cooked.
  8. Before serving add fresh parsley, mix shrimp. Pour some of the melted butter over the salmon and asparagus. SOOO GOOOOD!
  9. Serve immediately.

This was absolutely AMAZING!!


Mini Spider Pizzas

Can you believe that it’s already the last week of October and that Halloween is on Friday!? Halloween has always been a fun holiday for me. I love everything from the decorating, to the costumes, the candy (of course), and making cute festive food like these Mini Spider Pizzas!



Holidays are a time that allow me to get creative with food and create food-art! Since Halloween is almost here and it just happens to fall on pizza Friday, I thought what better way to get in the spooky spirit than to use California Ripe Olives as the topping on these fun appetizer size pizzas!

Black olives are the perfect topping for these mini pizzas because you can make creepy black spiders with them. I always have a can of California Ripe Olives in my stash of pantry goods because they are so versatile for home chefs not to mention the perfect ingredient when you want to create some food-art! To make the spiders I spimply sliced some large whole black olives in half lengthwise, this made the body. I then took another olive and cut it in half (not lengthwise), this made the spider head. The final step was thinly slicing olives, then halving them for the spider legs. I recommend placing the black olive spiders on top of the mini pizzas after they have baked. Through trial and error I discovered that the spiders tend to spread and fall flat if they are baked.

Making these Mini Spider Pizzas is so easy that even kids can help! While I don’t have kids of my own, I’ve noticed that when they can help with cooking they tend to enjoy eating the food more. Black olives are a great choice for kids because they have great texture and even better flavor. They aren’t mushy or crunchy, but nice and firm. The salty flavor of the olives goes perfectly on top of a cheese pizza, not to mention the dark black is a nice pop of color on top of the white mozzarella cheese. Plus, what kid doesn’t like to play with their food, and that’s exactly what they get to do when they make the black olive spiders! Before you send your trick-or-treaters out this Halloween, get them into the kitchen to help you make these fun and festive Mini Spider Pizzas!

MINI SPIDER PIZZAS

Kid friendly, fun to make, Mini Spider Pizzas using delicious California Black Ripe Olives!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound pizza dough
  • For the Pizza Sauce
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. dried parsley
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 t. balsamic vinegar
  • For the Toppings
  • 1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 can large California Black Ripe Olives


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Roll out the pizza dough and use a 3 inch round cookie cutter to cut out the mini pizzas.
  4. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together all of the pizza sauce ingredients, then spread a little bit of sauce on top of each mini pizza.
  6. Top the pizzas with the shredded mozzarella then place in the oven to bake for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden.
  7. Remove the mini pizzas from the oven and arrange the olives on top of them creating the spiders.

Soft and Puffy Cheesecake Cookies



I liked these cookies and will probably make these for my goodie trays this year. The texture reminded me of shortbread with a little tanginess (is that a word?!) from the cream cheese that is added. You could also roll these in any type of coating you want, I chose to go basic with graham cracker crumbs. You could also put some chocolate in the middle..I may go with a rolo candy in the middle the next time. The possibilities are endless on topping/filling combinations.

Soft and Puffy Cheesecake Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Graham Cracker Crumbs, for coating


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Mix in vanilla extract. Stir in the flour until well combined.
  3. Scoop the dough and form into 1" balls. Roll in graham cracker crumbs so cookie is covered.
  4. Place covered cookie balls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.

Spiderweb Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting

This Spiderweb-topped Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting is awesome for Halloween! The cake alone is actually perfect for any time – super moist and delicious – but the fun decorations are perfect for a spook-tacular Halloween! 🙂



I used to always dress up as a kid for Halloween but as an adult not so much. I do dress up our black lab though.🙂
She’s always super girl and she looks pretty cute in a cape. She’s not a huge fan of all the doorbell ringing so we usually sit outside with her in the driveway and hand out candy. That way she doesn’t lose her mind with the bell ringing and everyone gets to see how cute she is in her costume. I don’t dress her up often (only on Halloween, in fact), so when I do people need to see it. Plus she’s a pretty big dog so often kids can find her scary. I figure the costume brings the scary level down a notch because she’s super girl.

This cake also kind of brings the scary level down a bit. Let’s be honest – spiders are scary. The real things are, anyways. But the ones on this cake are so cute that even I fell in love with it! 😉

The spiders are made using melting chocolates. Here are a couple photos below to show you how they’re made. Some of the round chocolates are used as the bodies, then the rest are melted and piped with a small round piping tip to make the legs. A little melted chocolate helps them stick to the bodies and then you have some super cute spiders with beautiful long legs.

The spiderweb is made by spreading chocolate ganache on top of the cake, then piping a swirl of white chocolate ganache on top. Use a toothpick to draw some lines from the center of the web to the outsides of the cake and you’re done! Nice and quick!

Underneath all the Halloween fun is a wonderful chocolate cake! It’s got a great dark shade that’s perfect for Halloween.



INGREDIENTS:

CHOCOLATE CAKE


  • 1 cup (224g) unsalted Challenge butter
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) water
  • 3/4 cup (85g) dark cocoa powder blend
  • 2 cups (260g) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk


VANILLA BUTTERCREAM


  • 1 1/2 cups (336g) salted Challenge butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (237g) shortening
  • 10 1/2 cups (1208g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp (90ml-105ml) water
  • Orange icing color


CHOCOLATE GANACHE


  • 4 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 tbsp (75ml) heavy whipping cream


WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE


  • 2 oz white chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) heavy whipping cream
  • Orange melting chocolate
  • Dark cocoa melting chocolate




DIRECTIONS:


TO MAKE THE CAKE LAYERS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line the bottom of three 8-inch (20cm) cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
2. Beat butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended.
4. Add vanilla, water and cocoa powder to another bowl and whisk until smooth.
5. Add chocolate mixture to batter and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
6. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
7. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk to the batter. Begin by adding half of the dry mix, then mix well. Add the milk and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until smooth.
8. Divide batter between the cake pans. Bake for 26-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs.
9. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes, then remove from pans to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
10. While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Beat the butter and shortening together until smooth.
11. Slowly add about 1/2 of the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth between each addition of powdered sugar.
12. Add the vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of water to the frosting and mix until smooth.
13. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar, mixing until smooth between each addition of powdered sugar.
14. Add additional water to the frosting, as needed to get a smooth consistency.

TO PUT THE CAKE TOGETHER:

15. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the tops of the cake layers so that they are flat.
16. Place the first layer of cake on your serving plate or on a cardboard cake circle.
17. Spread 1 cup (240g) of frosting into an even layer.
18. Add the second layer of cake, then another cup (240g) of frosting.
19. Top the cake with the third layer of cake.
20. Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting.
21. Pipe a swirl border of frosting around the top edge of the cake. Set the cake aside.

TO DECORATE THE CAKE:

22. To make the chocolate ganache, add the chocolate chips to a metal or glass bowl. Microwave the heavy whipping cream until boiling, then pour over the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with clear wrap for about 5 minutes, then whisk chocolate until smooth.
23. Use a spoon or piping bag with tip to drizzle chocolate down the sides of the cake, between each frosting swirl.
24. To make the white chocolate ganache, add the white chocolate chips to a metal or glass bowl. Microwave the heavy whipping cream until boiling, then pour over the white chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with clear wrap for about 3 minutes, then whisk chocolate until smooth. If needed, microwave the mixture for another 5-10 seconds, then continue whisking until smooth.
25. Reheat the chocolate ganache slightly, if needed, then spread remaining chocolate ganache evenly onto the top of the cake, inside the border.
26. Pipe a swirl onto the top of the chocolate ganache, starting from the center of the cake and spiraling out towards the border of the cake.
27. Use a toothpick to create the web effect. Place the toothpick in the center and drag it out towards the border to create a line. I drew 8 lines total.

TO MAKE THE SPIDERS:

28. Melt the orange melting chocolate and place into a piping bag with a small round tip (I used a Wilton 4). You could also use a ziplock bag with a corner cut off. Pipe the legs in the shape of an “L”. You’ll need 6 legs per spider, for about 3 or 4 spiders. Repeat with the dark cocoa melting chocolate. (See a photo)
29. Once the legs are made and cooled, set out 4 or 5 circles of melting chocolate for the bodies. Working with one leg at a time, pipe a small dot of melted chocolate onto the side of the body and place a leg is position. Hold it in place for about 30 seconds, or until you can take your hand away and it stays in place. Add 3 legs to each side of the body.
30. To make the eyes, microwave the chocolate on 10 second intervals, stirring between each until melted, and pipe the eyes onto the bodies.
31. Place the spiders on top of and around the cake.
32. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. The cake is best served at room temperature.
Note: I used Wilton Candy Melts for the melting chocolates.

CHICKEN PARMESAN PASTA SKILLET

ONE PAN Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet, with only 6 ingredients! This is our go-to easy recipe anytime we are craving comfort food.



DO YOU SEE THAT CHEESE? I have a love affair with stretchy cheese. Don’t tell Pat. Actually, he’s quite aware. If food is going to be a favorite at our house…it MUST have stretchy cheese, be super easy, and pair well with wine. Is that too much to ask? This Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet is TO DIE FOR. Full of flavor, only 6 ingredients (THAT’S RIGHT), and obviously, the most cheese legally possible. Obviously.

I have wanted to make something like this for a long time. I’m all about the easy skillet meals, and you wouldn’t believe how easy pasta is to make in a skillet! Just cover that bad boy and it does all the work for you! Virtually zero cleanup (because you will finish all the Chicken Parmesan Pasta, trust me), and no fail. Impress friends or family with virtually no effort at all. Comfort food made easy, that’s my specialty.

Usually getting the perfect stretchy cheese shot is quite a chore. Adding extra around the edges, reheating, snapping hundreds of pics just to get the right one. But not with this recipe. It stays nice and toasty and melty right there in the skillet and there’s so much cheese to go around, you look like a natural right away. How great would spooning that up to your loved ones look on your dinner table? THE. BEST.

Simple ingredients, flavors, and lots of cheese. The perfect combo. I think you’re going to love this one!

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet. Heaven on Earth. Enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Italian dressing (not the creamy kind)
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 16 ounces small/medium sized rigatoni pasta
  • 1 24-ounce jar of your favorite Marinara pasta sauce (I love Delallo's)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil for garnish (optional)


Instructions

  1. Heat chicken and Italian dressing in a large 12 inch skillet over medium high heat (If you don't own a large skillet, you can use a stock pot). Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook chicken until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes depending on thickness of chicken.
  3. Add the box of pasta and the entire jar of marinara. Fill the empty marinara jar with water and add to the skillet. If using a stockpot, use 2 cups water. Lightly stir the mixture to combine.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender to your liking. ***
  5. Cover with grated parmesan and then shredded mozzarella. No need to stir. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes or until cheese is fully melted. You can also broil the entire skillet for about 4 minutes to make the cheese extra melty!
  6. Top with chopped basil (optional) and serve! Enjoy!
  7. ***The pasta in the middle of the skillet and underneath will be more tender than the outside pasta. It's okay if those pieces are a bit toastier and less soft. The inside will be plenty soft.

Chocolate Eclair Dessert


This is a no-bake pudding dessert that's so quick and easy to make--everyone loves it. I always keep the ingredients on hand in case I need a quick dessert. It's best if it sits overnight before serving

Chocolate Eclair Dessert

makes 1 9x13-inch pan

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 individual packages graham crackers
  • 1 (16 ounce) package prepared chocolate frosting
  • 2 (3 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed



Directions:

  1. Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan with graham crackers.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and milk; stir well. Mix whipped topping into pudding mixture. Spread half of mixture over graham cracker layer. Top with another layer of graham crackers and the remaining pudding.
  3. Top all with a final layer of graham crackers and frost with chocolate frosting. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving to allow the graham crackers to soften.

Mongolian Beef Ramen Noodles

Mongolian Beef Ramen Noodles – a copycat recipe of the popular PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef with green peppers and ramen noodles. So simple to make and so delicious, you’ll want to forget about takeout!



What can I say other than I was really craving Mongolian beef, it’s one of my favorite dishes. And I just so happen to have had a big bag of ramen noodles I bought from Costco. I love ramen noodles but here I am at my age, and I’m not going to tell you my age, and I can honestly say that I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve had ramen noodles. I know it’s supposed to be a thing for college students, but when I went to university I lived at home and when I wasn’t eating on campus I was eating my mom’s home cooked meals so I missed out on all the ramen noodle craze.

Maybe I need to make up for it now? Just saying. Anyway this Mongolian beef is unbelievable, it’s so good and you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to make.

This really is one of my favorite dishes and it’s so good I was tempted to eat right out of the skillet. If you’ve never tried Mongolian beef you should try this recipe, you’ll love it.

ingredients

  • 1½ lb flank steak
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 8 oz dry ramen noodles
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • For Sauce


2 tbsp sesame oil

  • ¾ cup soy sauce, low sodium
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1¼ cup chicken broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

instructions


  1. Slice the flank steak into small thin pieces against the grain. In a large ziploc bag add the starch and the beef to it. Close the ziploc bag and shake really well until each pieces is coated with cornstarch.
  2. In a non stick skillet heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add beef and cook until browned. It will take 2 or 3 batches because you don't want the steak pieces to stick to each other. Also if you need more oil after the batch feel free to add more. Remove beef from skillet to a plate and empty the oil from the skillet.
  3. Add the bell pepper to the skillet and saute it for a couple minutes just until it gets soft. Remove the pepper from the skillet to a plate and set aside.
  4. In that same skillet add sauce ingredients, the sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, chicken broth and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook over medium heat until sauce thickens a bit and reduces by about a quarter. It took me about 10 minutes until the sauce thickened and reduced. You don't want to reduce it too much because you need more sauce for the noodles.
  5. In the meantime cook the ramen noodles according to package instructions.
  6. Return the beef and bell pepper to the skillet and toss in the sauce. Add the cooked ramen noodles to the skillet and toss everything together. Top with green onions and serve

Country Apple Dumplings


Who knew that fresh apples, crescent roll dough, and citrus soda could make such a wonderful treat!"

Country Apple Dumplings

makes 16 dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Mountain Dew ™
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Cut each apple into 8 wedges and set aside. Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew™ over the dumplings.
  4. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Baked Sweet Onion Cheddar Dip


This dip is rich and filling and popular at parties. I like to put chopped jalapenos in it too. I have made a double batch in one larger dish with half having jalapenos and half without..

Baked Sweet Onion Cheddar Dip

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Best Foods, Hellmann's, or Vegenaise)
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped yellow sweet onions (Maya, Vidalia, etc)
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder, to taste (optional, but oh so good!)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt or 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion, for garnish
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika or 1/8 teaspoon dried ancho chile powder or 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika



Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the onions, garlic, mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, cheddar, and Tabasco (and curry powder, if using).
  3. Spread into a lightly pan sprayed small-ish baking dish.
  4. Top with Parmesan and sprinkle with paprika to taste. (Ground ancho chile powder can be substituted for the paprika, for a little more kick. I prefer the ancho.).
  5. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onion (scallion).
  6. Serve hot or warm with crackers, bread, or raw veggie dippers.
  7. Makes about 6 servings. I usually make a double batch!.

Beef Enchiladas


This enchilada recipe will have you at the dinner table in less than an hour..

Beef Enchiladas

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or 1 package fully cooked shredded beef
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cans (10 ounces each) mild enchilada sauce
  • sour cream (optional)
  • ¾ cup shredded pepper-jack cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 small corn tortillas (6-7 inches diameter)


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, brown ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking beef up into ½-inch crumbles. Pour off drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in ½-cup enchilada sauce from one can. Set aside remaining sauce from that can.
  3. If using fully cooked shredded beef, stir in ½ cup enchilada sauce and follow recipe below.
  4. Pour second can of sauce into a shallow dish. Dip tortillas, one at a time, into sauce to coat both sides. Spoon one-eighth of beef mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla and roll up. Place seam-side down in a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  5. Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake in 350°F oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove foil. Spoon reserved enchilada sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with the cheese. Continue baking uncovered for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with sour cream if desired.

Crème Brulèe Doughnuts


This clever twist on the classic French dessert, Crème Brulee, is incredibly moreish and will make the perfect add-on to afternoon tea.

Crème brulèe doughnuts

Serves:  10

Ingredients:

For the doughnuts:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 sachet dried active yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 30ml warm water
  • 175ml lukewarm milk
  • 1l vegetable oil for frying
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting


For the custard filling:

  • 30g caster sugar
  • 140ml milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 140ml double cream, whipped
  • 10g flour
  • 10g cornflour
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


For the topping:

  • 250g icing sugar


Directions:
1. For the doughnuts, in a small bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand for five minutes or until foamy.
2. In a large bowl, gently mix the yeast mixture, milk, 50 grams caster sugar, salt, eggs, butter and flour until the ingredients come together. Remove from the bowl and knead the dough for about five minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
3. Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to rise until doubled. Dough is ready if you touch it and an indentation remains.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently roll out to one centimetre thickness. Cut seven centimetres rounds with a floured cutter and place the doughnuts on a tray to sit out and rise until doubled.
5. Heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy pan, using a kitchen thermometer until the oil reaches a temperature of 175 C/gas mark 3. Carefully slide doughnuts into the oil using a spatula. Fry doughnuts about three minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on a wire rack.
6. To make the filling, pour the milk into a medium saucepan and add the vanilla extract. Bring the milk almost to the boil (so it starts to bubble lightly), take off the heat and allow to infuse for at least half an hour.
7. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until very pale, mix in the flour and cornflour. Stir in the infused milk and pour back in the pan.
8. Bring gently to the boil, stirring continuously and continue cooking until the mixture has thickened and the flour is fully cooked out. Pass through a sieve and leave to cool.
9. Once cooled, beat in the whipped double cream until the custard is smooth.
10. Spoon the filling into a piping bag fitted with a wide nozzle. Use the nozzle to make a hole in the side of each doughnut and pipe a generous amount of filling into the centre.
11. For the topping, place a heaped tablespoon of sugar over the top of each doughnut. Use the blowtorch to gently heat and melt the sugar until caramelized (about three minutes).

EASY SLOW COOKER CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

This slow cooker chicken tortilla soup makes a healthy and gluten free dinner that can be thrown together easily during a busy week!



Cooler weather is upon us and with that comes cozy sweaters, pumpkin-spiced goodies and lots and lots of soup!!  Like this Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup… 🙂

Oftentimes, the changing of seasons also brings with it busy schedules and limited time.


WHAT EXACTLY GOES INTO MAKING THIS SLOW COOKER CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP?
Not much!  You simply throw all of the ingredients listed below into your slow cooker and wait for the magic to happen!

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • Chicken
  • Salsa
  • Chicken Broth
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Seasoning
  • Lemon/Lime


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. chicken breasts
  • 1-16 oz. jar salsa
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 1 ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • ¼ t. garlic powder
  • 1/8 - ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  • 1-15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 3 T. lemon or lime juice


Toppings:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Green Onions


Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts on the bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Pour salsa and chicken broth into the slow cooker and make sure to pick up chicken breasts so some liquid gets underneath them.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Toss to combine.
  4. Add seasonings, beans, corn, and lemon juice to the slow cooker. Give liquid a good stir, cover, and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.
  5. Towards the last 30 minutes of cooking, shred the chicken. Let continue cooking for the last 30 minutes.
  6. Serve chicken tortilla soup with tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro and green onions. Enjoy!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies


Get kids helping out in the kitchen with this great starter recipe. Serve these tasty treats cool and sliced into squares.From the book "Mad Hungry," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).

No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies

yield: Makes 16 squares

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups salted peanut butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract



Directions:

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with wax paper or baking parchment. Place the corn syrup and sugars in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the peanut butter and mix well to combine. Quickly stir in the vanilla and Rice Krispies. Spread into the lined baking pan. Cool and slice into squares.

Gluten-Free Mini Cheesecakes

These fuss-free gluten-free mini cheesecakes are perfect for parties or potlucks and couldn’t be any easier to make!



With these gluten-free mini cheesecakes, you get everything you could want from a cheesecake but with built-in portion control! Eat one or two and freeze the rest.

The other reason I don’t make full cheesecakes is that it’s just so much more fussy than making mini cheesecakes! You don’t need to worry about water baths, cracks in the filling or refrigerating the cheesecake overnight. I don’t know about you, but when I make dessert, I want it now and not to wait for what feels like an eternity. In the directions, I say to chill the cheesecakes for 2 hours before serving, but if you’re in a hurry (or just really want your cheesecake!) you can pop them in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

I’ve had some less than stellar gluten-free crusts in the past but this one is perfect! Pre-baking the crusts and letting them cool slightly prevents the crust, which is almond flour based, from getting soggy. If you don’t have almond flour, you could use another type of nut flour or meal. I’m thinking hazelnut meal would be tasty!

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the filling:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

For decoration:

  • berries and powdered sugar, optional


Directions:


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin liners.
  2. Prepare the crust. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients, then stir in the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Divide the mixture between the liners (18 grams or 3 1/2 teaspoons of mixture per liner) and lightly press down with the bottom of a shot glass.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes while preparing the filling.
  5. Using an electric hand mixer or a stan dmixer fitted with the beater attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs on low, one at a time, and just until well incorporated. Do not over mix!
  6. Fill each liner about 2/3 full with the batter and bake for 10 minutes or until the centers of the cheesecakes don't jiggle when the pan is tapped. Open the oven door (at least 1 foot wide) and let the cheesecakes cool to room temperature - about 1 1/2 hours. For easiest removal, remove the paper liners now. They can also be removed after chilling, though a little more cheesecake may stick to the liners then.
  7. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Decorate with berries and dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Spicy Udon and Vegetable Stir Fry

Delicious doesn’t need to be time consuming. You can be enjoying a bowl of this spicy udon and vegetable stir fry in only 15 minutes!



This stir fry is a great base recipe, featuring just a basic collection of ingredients. Feel free to add in a protein like chicken, shrimp or pork, if you’d like a meatier meal. Extra vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, bean sprouts, shredded cabbage or just about anything else you have around would also be a great addition.

This quick and easy recipe makes 2 main dish servings, or 4 servings as a side dish. If needing more, simply double the recipe. This is a great base recipe, that is ripe for addition add-ins. Chicken, shrimp or pork is a nice addition for a meal. Extra vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, bean sprouts, chopped cabbage or just about anything else you might have around would also be great.

Ingredients 

Stir Fry:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive, peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced (matchsticked)
  • 1 cup green onion (green part only), sliced diagonally
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 (200g/7 oz) pkgs. soft (vacuum-packed) udon noodles


Sauce:

  • 1-2 heaping tsp. Sambal Oelek (or Asian Chili Garlic Sauce/Sriracha)
  • 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

For garnish:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Additional sliced green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro


Instructions


  1. Prepare your vegetables and set aside. Mix up the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. If you like, you can fill a large bowl with hot tap water and add udon noodles to the bowl to soak, so they can be separated before adding to the wok This isn't necessary though, as you can add fresh udon noodles directly from the package to the wok, if you prefer to skip this step.
  2. In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add carrots and cook, stirring for a minute or so. Add onions and cook, stirring, until onions are soft and carrots are tender. Add green onion and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so.
  3. If soaking udon noodles, gently stir to loosen udon noodles and separate, then drain. Add drained noodles (or unsoaked fresh noodles) to the wok and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Add sauce and cook for another 30 second, stirring to combine well. Scatter baby spinach over top and cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted.
  4. Remove stir fry to a bowl or plate and garnish with sesame seeds, additional sliced green onion and parsley/cilantro.

Choux Pastry Buttermilk Crepes

As you know, choux pastry (think of batter that makes cream puffs, eclairs) is just batter or dough that’s made by heating it over direct heat to partially cook the batter before baking it. This crepe recipe is made using a similar technique.



The crepe batter is mixed, then you add the boiling hot milk into it which I think speeds up the gluten formation making the crepes very easy to flip since they don’t tear as easily as a regular crepe. They also acquire this lustrous sheen like that of a silk fabric. All perfect for a delicious breakfast or dessert. The crepes can be made ahead of time and just heated in the microwave when you’re ready to eat or you can prepare just the batter ahead of time and cook crepes right before serving.

Now lets talk about the skillet. I have always made my crepes using the ceramic or non stick skillet for easier flipping of the crepes, although I know my mom back in the day has always used a stainless steel skillet. For this tutorial, I used my stainless steel skillet with incredible results.

In fact, I was so impressed with how much easier it was to remove and flip crepes using the stainless steel pan that I most likely will not be making them in anything else from now on. There really aren’t any magic tricks to using the stainless skillet, but a little ‘know-how’ will help you to be successful. Just brush the skillet with some oil with the help of a paper towel dipped in oil, then heat the skillet through over low medium heat. When ready to cook crepes, turn the skillet to medium-high heat for the first crepe, but for the rest of the crepes you can turn the heat down to medium or slightly lower than medium. That’s all.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3⅓ cups flour
  • 11/2 cups boiling hot milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cups oil




Instructions

How to make Choux Pastry Buttermilk Crepes:

To make in a blender:

Add eggs, salt, sugar, buttermilk and flour. Whiz for about 30-45 seconds stopping every 15 seconds to scrape down the sides from flour. In a separate bowl mix boiling hot milk & baking soda for about 15 seconds. Add the hot milk into the crepe batter while continuously whisking or while the blender is running. Now add the oil and whiz for another 10 seconds to incorporate the oil well. Remove the foam off the top of the batter and discard or cook separately. The batter is ready to be used, but can be refrigerated for up to 24-48 hours (just whisk before using).

To make the crepes with a whisk & bowl:

to a bowl add eggs, salt, sugar, buttermilk and flour. Whisk until smooth. Combine boiling hot milk and baking soda and add it into the crepe batter while continuously whisking. Now add oil and whisk until fully incorporated. Skim and discard the foam. The batter is now ready to be used.

To bake the crepes:

Soak a paper towel with oil and go over the inside of the skillet. Alternatively a pastry brush can be used. Do this only before the first crepe.
Heat skillet over medium heat until hot. Raise the skillet to a 45 degree angle. Now using a measuring cup or a ladle pour the batter in a crescent shape over the raised part of the skillet, then whirl the skillet around until batter completely covers the bottom of the skillet.
When the top of the crepe has no more wet spots, run the spatula underneath the edges of the crepe, then lift it with hands or spatula and flip it. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute and remove to a plate. Continue cooking crepes until no more batter remains, stacking cooked crepes one on top of the other.

THAI CHICKEN LETTUCE CUPS

This is one of those meals that will make you forget you’re eating healthy. Dinner on the table in just over 15 minutes that is loaded with fragrance, a hit of spice and full of freshness. Eat it with your hands like a wrap (I do!) or be more civil and spoon it over rice!



Thai is one of the most popular Asian foods in Sydney. Noodles, curries and soups, coconut coated prawns and crunchy, juicy pork belly. But when you feel like something lighter but still loaded with Thai flavours, these Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups are fabulous.

This is a really authentic recipe for Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups (Larb Gai). It is super fast to make, incredibly fresh but full of fragrance and a hit of spice. Serve it up with a bowl of rice for a satisfying yet healthy meal! Adapted from a recipe by a great Australian food blog, Chew Town. Cook time assumes you opt to use cornstarch / cornflour instead of toasting and grinding rice for the sauce thickener.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp uncooked rice (any rice is fine) OR 2 tsp cornstarch / corn flour (optional) (Note 1)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2½ tbsp lime juice (1 to 2 limes)
  • 1½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil (or other high smoke point cooking oil)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, white and very pale green part only, finely chopped (Note 1)
  • 2 birds eye chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1lb / 500g lean chicken mince (ground chicken)
  • ½ red onion, cut into 4 wedges then finely sliced
  • ⅓ cup cilantro / coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
  • ⅓ cup mint leaves, plus extra to garnish
  • 3 tbsp crushed peanuts (optional)
  • 4 large or 8 small lettuce leaves, to serve (I used iceberg)


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Optional step: Heat a wok (or heavy based fry pan) over high heat. Add the rice and dry cook for 5 minutes until it turns dark golden brown. Remove into a mortar and pestle and ground into powder.
  2. Place water and rice powder OR cornstarch (if using) into a small bowl. Mix into a slurry. Add lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and mix to combine. Set aside.
  3. Heat peanut oil in a wok (or heavy based fry pan) over medium high heat. Add ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilli and sauté for 45 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn, it will taste bitter.
  4. Add the chicken and turn up the heat to high. Cook the chicken, breaking up the mince into small pieces.
  5. Once the chicken turns white and is almost cooked through (about 4 minutes), add the sauce from Step 2. Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute to coat the chicken and for the sauce to thicken.
  6. Remove wok from heat. Stir through onion, coriander/cilantro and mint.
  7. Spoon into lettuce cups and serve. Garnish with extra mint, coriander/cilantro leaves and peanuts, if using.
  8. Alternatively, serve the Larb in bowls with the lettuce cups on the side so people can help themselves.

Strawberry Shortcake Trifles

Is it summer yet? At least it spring so we know we are getting closer. I do love and appreciate all seasons of the year though, so really I don’t have any complaints here. Sometimes the cold gets old but each season is so gorgeous.



Another thing I love in addition to the unique individuality and stunning hues of each season are these heavenly Strawberry Shortcake Trifles!! They far outdo any classic biscuit strawberry shortcake I’ve had, maybe it has something to do with the fact that this is a sweet soft cake instead and there’s some cream cheese mixed into the cream layer as well.

Let me tell you though these things are dangerous! I’m generally pretty good and putting limits on myself since I have so many desserts around here all the time – with these though no no. Goodbye self-restraint, hellooo strawberry shortcake trifles! These would be perfect for a shower or for Mother’s Day (my mom couldn’t stop swooning over how delicious these were so I think I know what to make her again for Mother’s Day), or of course they are perfect just to make to treat yourself because it’s the weekend! Dessert on the weekend is a must right?

With all the fresh strawberries in season there are so many amazing things you can make right now (starting with these trifles first of course)

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups (284g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 3 Tbsp (26g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 12 Tbsp (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (315g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (283g) sour cream (I used light because it's what I had on hand)


Strawberry layer

  • 2 lbs fresh strawberries, diced, plus 12 more small whole for garnish
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp (45g) granulated sugar


Cream layer

  • 2 cups (475ml) heavy cream
  • 6 oz (170g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (90g) powdered sugar


Direction

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 18 by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and baking powder for 20 seconds, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip together butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time then mix in vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix just until combined then add in 1/2 the sour cream and mix just until combined, repeat with flour and sour cream once more then end by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture and mixing just until combined (scrape down bowl to ensure it's evenly combined). Pour and spread batter evenly into prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 - 24 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool cut into 24 rounds the size of your dessert cups (you'll have a little left over cake which you can chill or freeze and serve later with more fresh fruit and whipped cream).

For the strawberry layer:
Toss diced strawberries with sugar. Let rest 10 minutes.

For the cream layer:
In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer whip heavy cream until soft peaks form (no need to clean beater blades for next step). In a separate medium mixing bowl whip cream cheese until smooth (scrape down sides of bowl occasionally), add powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese mixture to heavy cream and whip until stiff peaks form.

To assemble trifles:
Place 12 cake rounds in 12 fairly tall dessert cups. Add a spoonful of strawberries over each cake round. Transfer cream mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe cream mixture over strawberry layer. Repeat layering process once more. Garnish each with a fresh strawberry. Serve within an hour for best results (the cake can be made a day in advance and covered, just wait to prepare the cream mixture and strawberries until almost ready to serve).