Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I don't know about you but I could eat chocolate chip cookies for days, even better if their made with chocolate chunks instead of chips, chunks are just so much better.

Something I like more than chocolate chip cookies? Chocolate chip cookie bars! I mean it's basically the equivalent of cookie cake and my love for Wegman's cookie cake is everlasting.

I made these a while back with coconut and sprinkles and brought them to the boys and they were gobbled up within the hour so I knew they were a hit. I whipped up a batch when I was home last week. I wish I had one right now!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
source: Two Peas and Their Pod

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Pour cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Bake cookie bars for 25-30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut bars into squares and serve.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Onion Soup with Fontina and Thyme

Since my father's been out of commission for quite some time and can't do a whole heck of a lot, I had an excuse to lay around all week and watch TV and keep him company. As we were watching we found some must try recipes from Giada.

On Sunday we had lunch before I headed back to school and mom made us two of the recipes we saw from the show, the first was French Onion Soup. They've been on a quest for a good make at home recipe and I think we found it!

Onion Soup with Fontina and Thyme
source: Food Network

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups beef broth
4 slices ciabatta bread, cubed
4 ounces sliced fontina cheese
Special equipment: 4 (1 1/2-cup) ovenproof ramekins

1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and broth. Simmer, uncovered, until the onions are soft, about 15 minutes.
2. Divide the soup between the 4 ovenproof ramekins. Divide the cubed bread among the ramekins. Top each with slices of fontina cheese. Place under the broiler, until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beef Ragu over Spaghetti Squash

We've wanted to try spaghetti squash for a while now and I came across this recipe and decided perfect time to try.

It was a nice change from regular pasta and it almost had the same texture as pasta we almost couldn't tell.

Beef Ragu over Spaghetti Squash
adapted from: Fine Cooking

3 medium cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small (2-1/2-lb.) spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
One 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Preheat oven to 375. Prick the spaghetti squash all over so it does not explode when baking. Place whole squash in the oven for 1 hour.
2. While the squash cooks, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, the remaining chopped garlic, onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper; cook, stirring to break up the meat, until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and discard the fat if necessary. Add the tomatoes, basil, and 1/4 cup water; stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
With a fork, rake the squash flesh into strands, transfer to plates, and season to taste with salt. Ladle the beef rag├╣ over the squash and garnish with the Parmigiano.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gooey Pumpkin Butterscotch Brownies

Are you sick of pumpkin yet?

I sure hope not.

I am in disbelief that in two weeks from tomorrow I'll be sitting around the table at my uncles eating for hours upon hours. I just have to get through one more week of school until I'm home free next Thursday for 10 days of doing absolutely nothing. Of course the next week of school is going to eat me alive with tests and papers, oh yay.

But in the mean time, I will just stare at these and drool.

Gooey Pumpkin Butterscotch Brownies
adapted from: Picky Palate

1 family size brownie mix
1/4 Cup water
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 bag butterscotch chips
1 small box instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 1/2 Cups canned pumpkin
1 Cup butterscotch ice cream topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tin foil and grease a 9 x 13 pan.
2. In a bowl mix brownie mix, water, oil, eggs, chips, pudding and pumpkin. Mix until well combined. 3. Pour mix into prepared pan.
4. Pour 1 Cup butterscotch ice cream topping over brownie mix and swirl with a knife. Pour remaining 5. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes mostly clean from center.
6. Let cool for 1 hour before removing from pan and cutting into squares.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This year we were a bit of slackers. Compared to last year at least. Last year we planned and perfected our Josie and the Pussycats outfits weeks ahead of time.

This year, Thursday afternoon we ventured out into the sleet/hail/snow/rain whatever was falling from the sky to figure out what we were going to be. The previous weekend I had gone home and my little next door neighbor and his friend were being Thing 1 and Thing 2, and since there is only two of us this year, we stole the idea.

We hit up the little kids section at Target and found red shirts in the boys department and red leggings in the girls. I was SO opposed to the red leggings but I'm so glad Mariah made me do it because it turned out perfect.

Thursday night we crafted up a's the process of the shirt making in pictures..
 I traced a bowl with pencil then painted the inside with fabric paint.
 Mariah did the black outline with puffy paint because I am WAY too impatient to do that kind of tedious work.
 Next we searched the internet and enlarged a picture of the words and traced them so we would have the writing perfect.
I traced around the stencils and...
wah-la we have our costumes!

 (4/6ths of our house next year!)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

A few weeks ago when I was home last I finally learned how to make my mother's sauce. We had some extra left over from eggplant parm so we decided to branch out, away from pasta (weird.) and made these! They were quite tasty!

Chicken Parmesan Burgers
adapted from: Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1 lb. ground chicken
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 package of mushrooms, sliced

pasta sauce (homemade preferably)
mozzarella or provolone cheese (sliced or shredded)
hamburger rolls

1.Place the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic, shallot, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.  Add the ground chicken and gently mix until everything is evenly distributed.  Form the mixture into 4 patties and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
2. Saute sliced mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat.
3. Preheat your broiler and set a rack about 6 inches from the heating element.  Spray a broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Broil the burgers for 5-6 minutes on the first side, then flip and broil for 4-5 minutes on the second side, or until golden and completely cooked through.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and top each burger with tomato sauce then mushrooms and finally the cheese.  Return to the oven and broil for about 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted.  If you want to toast the rolls, you can pop them under the broiler briefly as well before serving. 

(the pictures a little blurry..I guess I was a little excited to eat..)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Pumpkin Blondies

Because we seem to have a baking addiction...

and we had time to kill before our dinner arrived..

we present you with these babies:

Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Pumpkin Blondies
adapted from: Tasty Kitchen

For The Blondies: 
¾ cups Butter, Softened 
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar 
2 whole Eggs 
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
1 cup Pumpkin Puree 
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1-¾ cup All-purpose Flour 
1 teaspoon Baking Soda 
¼ teaspoons Salt 
For the Filling:
¼ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips 
14 ounces, weight Caramels, Unwrapped (1 Bag) 
¼ cups Heavy Cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan with non stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in eggs, vanilla and pumpkin until combined. Slowly incorporate the remaining ‘blondies’ ingredients into the batter. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly to ensure a smooth batter. Spread about 2/3 of the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
3. For the filling: Sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter.
4. Place caramels and cream into a heat-proof bowl. Microwave on high until caramel is smooth and completely melted, being sure to stir every 20 seconds. Stop as soon as it’s melted and smooth.
5. Pour melted caramel over chocolate and nuts. Spread around evenly with a butter knife or spoon. Place dollops of the remaining batter over the top of the caramel layer. Spread those dollops out to try and get a smooth layer of batter over top. (It’s fine if some of the caramel layer is peeking through.)
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. (It might come out with a little caramel on it which is fine. You don’t want batter on the toothpick.)
7. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or plain!
**Cool completely before serving. Or be prepared to get a whole lot of oozing caramel if you serve it warm. (I speak from experience..hello impatient patty)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles

There's two things I've learned baking and cooking does for me:
1. It's a good distraction to life, you can temporarily escape from it and forget about everything.
2. Baking makes other people excited, which in turns makes me happy.

Last night I needed a major pick me up and Emily and Mariah knew just what to do, make dinner and bake. What better to do to take your mind off your troubles then a little girl time in the kitchen?

After making our pumpkin truffles I posted the picture on Facebook and look what happened within minutes:
Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles
adapted from Willow Bird Baking

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/8 cups finely ground vanilla wafers
3/8 cup graham cracker crumbs
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
sprinkles or extra cookie crumbs (optional, for decoration)

Make the pumpkin middles
1. In a large bowl, melt the 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. 
2. When the white chocolate is melted, let it cool down for a bit before adding the vanilla wafer crumbs, pumpkin, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, salt and cream cheese. Beat this mixture until it’s completely smooth. Cover it and refrigerate it for about 2 hours until it’s firm enough to roll into balls.
Roll them up:
1. Roll the pumpkin mixture into balls and place them on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate them for another hour to let them firm up.
Time to dip:
1. Melt the chocolate in the mircowave
2. Use two forks to dip the pumpkin ball into the chocolate and pass it between the forks to drain the excess. Roll it carefully onto a sheet of wax paper and top with sprinkles.
3. Chill the pops about an hour, until they’re completely dry and set.