Friday, June 28, 2013

DB: Crack Pie

This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was all about pies.  Sweet pies.  Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie! Smile

You know by now that I love desserts; pies, cookies, tarts, cakes.  You name it, if it's got sugar, I love it.  I also enjoy making pies.  While I enjoy traditional pies with the traditional pastry crust, I always love trying new pies with various types of crust.  Like a cookie crust, for instance.  When I saw all of our options, I was torn between the crack pie and the chocolate and caramel tart.  After much deliberation, I finally decided on the crack pie. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

SRC: Chocolate Macadamia Spread

Nutella has been and still seems to be all the rage.  I, for one, am a huge fan of nutella; but there are some people out there that just don't care for it.  Whether it's the texture, lack of love for hazlenuts or something else, Nutella isn't everyone's cup of tea.  So I was so excited to find a new alternative to the ever so popular chocolate hazelnut spread for this months secret recipe club.  
This month for the secret recipe club I was assigned 84th & 3rd, a blog filled with too many drool-worthy recipes to name.  84th & 3rd was founded and continues to be written by JJ; an Aussie who was born and raised in America and now lives in Sydney.  JJ is a lover of all things food, and more so all things chocolate (as am I).  She has a passion for cooking, baking and eating food and loves to experiment and develop new recipes.  Looking through her blog, there is no shortage of delicious recipes.  It's page after page of one amazing recipe after another, definitely making it a difficult decision process for this month's exchange.  After looking through her blog for quite some time, I finally decided to make her chocolate macadamia spread.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Truffle Centers

Chocolate is definitely a weakness of mine.  My motto is definitely the more chocolate the better.  So what's better than just a chocolate cupcake?  Well, how about a chocolate cupcake filled with a chocolate truffle?  Yeah, amazing.  Right?  Right! 
A few month's ago one of my co-workers and friends asked if I would make a few desserts for her bunko group.  She couldn't get the words out of her mouth before I agreed to do so.  We looked through some cookbooks, she had some ideas marked and she finally settled on cupcakes and cookies.  We decided to do something chocolate and then something on a little bit lighter note.  For the chocolate, we decided to go with chocolate cupcakes filled with truffles and topped with buttercream.  Yum!  For the other, we ended up going with a white chocolate cranberry cookie.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Vermonter Crepe

When I saw this crepe recipe over on Bakeaholic Mama it took me all of two seconds to determine that I was going to make it.  It's the whole sweet, savory, salty combo that I'm completely obsessed with.  More times than not, I enjoy this combination of flavors in a dessert form, but this time we've switched it up.  This time it's in a savory dish. 
I've long had a weakness for cheddar and apples.  It's probably one of my favorite flavor combos.  Now add some honey ham, maple syrup and fried sage leaves to the mix and you've got an irresistable combination.  The sweet honey ham, sharp cheddar cheese, crisp, sweet and tart apples all combined in a deliciously delicate crepe.  It's out of this world.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Best Whipped Frosting

If you were to ask my son what his favorite part of a cake or cupcake is, he would instantly and without hesitation proclaim frosting.  Frosting is, by far, his favorite part.  I honestly think I could give him a bowl of frosting and he would be more happy with that than with a cake topped with it.  He will take a cupcake, lick all the frosting off and then give it to me without ever touching the cake part.  I think that probably at least half of you would agree with Tucker on this.  The boy knows the good stuff!
While I enjoy buttercream and cream cheese frosting, I think one of my all-time favorite frostings has to be whipped frosting.  It's light and airy, sweet without being overly sweet or heavy.  It's just perfect, in my opinion.  I think frosting should definitely compliment the flavor of the cake without overpowering the cake's flavor.  The whipped frosting helps achieve just that.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Chewy, Fudgy, Quadruple Chocolate Brownies

I think, in general, when it comes to sweets I'm more of an ooey, gooey, chewy, fudgy person.  It doesn't matter whether it's a cookie, bar, or brownie; when it comes to my sweets I want to be able to sink my teeth into soft goodness.  I'm always searching for new desserts that will quench that craving; so I'm always saving, printing and writing recipes to satisfy my weakness.
When I saw this recipe for chewy brownies from Baking Illustrated, written by the talented and ingenious folks at Cook's Illustrated, I instantly knew that I had a contender for one of the best fudgy brownies I had ever sunk my teeth into.  When it comes to food, what ingredients to use (and why), and why the recipes work they know what they are talking about.  Not only do these people know their savory foods, they also know their sweets.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Back to the Basics: Crepes

Crepes.  What are crepes, exactly?  Well, crepes are the French version of pancakes.  Whenever I hear someone describe crepes the first thing that pops into my head is Talladega Nights.  The bar scene where Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard get into a fight and Jean Girard wants Ricky Bobby to say "I love crepes".  I know...silly, right?  But for some reason that scene is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word crepe.
Now that I've got that in your head, and now that you're going to have to go watch the movie to see the scene, lets move on!  Isn't it funny how food relates to so many things; memories, movies, and so on?The next thing that pops in my mind after Talledega Nights, is the French and their love for food.  They can make even the simplest of foods so incredibly sophisticated.  Who would ever think of a pancake being delicate?  The French.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lemon Cream Pie with Raspberry Beer Sauce

I am the cook, baker and treat maker in my family.  That's not to say that there aren't others who enjoy making sweets from time to time, but I'm the one who finds the baking and mixing process theraputic.  Other's trudge through the baking process in order to get to the reward, the baked sweet stuff.  So when birthdays role around I'm typically the one that bakes the cake, or in my brother's case the pie.  A few years ago my brother had two requests when his birthday roled around, he requested a raspberry cream cheese pie and a peanut butter pie.  While he enjoyed them both, in the end the peanut butter pie won and became his signature birthday dessert.
Don't feel bad for the raspberry cream cheese pie though, because as much as my brother enjoyed the peanut butter pie, my sister-in-law felt the same way about the raspberry one.  The raspberry cream cheese pie is now her signature dessert of choice when her birthday, or any other occasion roles around.  So this year, when her birthday started creeping up I already knew the raspberry cream cheese pie would be requested during her birthday gathering.  Simple and easy, right?
Well, it would have been until I came across this recipe from the Beeroness.  The title caught my attention first, quickly followed by the picture of the pie.  This was a recipe for a lemon cream pie with raspberry beer sauce.  From the instant I saw it I thought of my sister-in-laws love for her signature pie along with her love for a delicious brew.  This pie seemed like a no-brainer.  When I saw this I quickly sent the recipe to her and my brother wanting to know their thoughts.  They were interested, intrigued and thought that we must try this!

Friday, June 7, 2013

White Chocolate Cherry Granola

Are you an early riser?  One that has plenty of time to get everything done that needs to be done before walking out the door and with time to spare?  Or are you one of those people that sleeps until the last possible minute before barreling out of bed after pushing the snooze for the umpteenth time, running around like a crazy person trying to get ready and run out the door to make it to work on time?
I am the early riser in my house.  I'm not a wake-up at the crack of dawn early rise, I mean I could definitely afford to get up a little bit earlier than I do but I am a early rise.  I don't know if it's necassarily by want that I'm the early riser, but I am the early riser in my house.  In the mornings I not only have time to get myself ready, but I have time to make smoothies for myself and Spencer as well as do a few odds and ends.  As much as I cringe as the sound of the alarm blaring, I do enjoy not running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Having quick, and healthy options for breakfasts definitely helps to keep me on track to getting out the door in a timely manner.
Granola is one of those things I'm not only addicted to, but that I love having on hand.  While it's a great option for breakfast, it's also the perfect treat to have on hand for an afternoon snack or pick-me-up.  It's so easy and transportable; put some in a plastic bag and toss it in your purse, keep some in a plastic container in the car for a snack on the go or for a treat to keep the kids hunger contained until you get home. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ranch BLT Wraps

I think my love for anything BLT and bacon is abundantly clear by now.  I have a weakness for that salty crunchy goodness that is bacon.  I love the combination of bacon, lettuce and tomato.  It's delicious, refreshing and it hits all the notes.  BLT's are a classic, a few simple ingredients that go together perfectly.
Last week I shared a recipe for an open faced sandwich with you that included two ingredients of the famous trio, and that got me craving that famous trio.  I wanted needed a BLT like nobodies business.  I wanted to do something a little different though, I didn't want a sandwich so I started thinking and tossing ideas around.  Finally I decided to make a wrap.  Wraps are easy, portable, quick to assemble and add a twist to the normal ol' sandwich.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chicken Ceasar Grilled Flatbread Pizza

Lately I've fallen off the bandwagon.  The cooking bandwagon.  The past month has been crazy, chaotic and just down right busy.  Since I've been going non-stop, felt pulled in a thousand different directions and had things pop up during the week that are out of the norm I've found myself out of the kitchen more than I find myself in it.  And folks, that's just not normal.  Not normal at all, I tell ya.  We fell in a rut of eating meals that I had previously made and frozen as well as going out to eat.  We depleted quite a bit of the freezer meals I made as well as blew quite a bit of money (that we usually don't spend) on eating out.  All things that are not in the norm for my family.
The past week or two I've started to feel my groove again and I've been getting back on my normal schedule and routine.  With that, I've been able to meal plan (which defintely helps me stay on my A-game), be back in the kitchen on a regular basis not only making healthy and well balanced meals for my family, but also able to experiment with some recipes I've been working on as well as work in a little baking therapy.  Boy does it feel good.  I actually love being in the kitchen; it's my happy place and my therapy so it feels good to be back.
Do you ever have those days, weeks, months where you just have so much going on and you feel like you don't have time?  Don't have time for anything, let alone to make a meal that's delicious, well balanced and good for your family?  I think we've all been there.  I'm always looking and trying to think of new ideas and recipes to help me get a tasty meal on the table in not a lot of time.  We all have those hectic times in life but our family and stomachs shouldn't suffer because of the craziness.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pasta Salad with Creamy Lemon Balsamic Dressing

I love summer for many reasons; but probably one of the biggest things I look forward to during the summer is all the fresh fruit and vegetables.  When spring comes around Spencer and I start talking about the garden and what all we want to try to grow.  While we love all of our fresh veggies, tomatoes are always the first thing to go in the ground every. single. year.  We love tomatoes.  Tucker is right there with us.  Last year, we not only planted our normal tomato plants, we also picked up a grape tomato plant to see how that would do.  Well, let me tell ya, it was a hit.  It would be half a second from the time we walked out the back door until Tucker made a B-line for the garden and for his "little tomato plant".  He would pick the things right off the vine and pop them in his mouth!  He loves them.  Things haven't changed much, he still spots the tomatoes and as soon as he puts his hands on them he starts popping them in his mouth just like candy.
Now that summer is here, our garden in looking good and our plants are in full bloom.  I've already used my herbs several times, but we're still waiting on the plants to start producing some veggies.  I've started craving fresh vegetables, and just couldn't practice patience anymore so I scooped some up while I was at the store so I could make a pasta salad packed full of summer's finest. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Summer is here.  Swimming, trips to the lake, baseball games, camping, family vacations...I could go on and on.  With all the wonderful fun that goes hand in hand with summer, heat and record breaking temperatures  are here as well.  When I think of hot summer days, I think of tall, ice cold drinks and treats to help cool down.  Ice cream, icees, slushes, and sno cones are no stranger to cooling off during the warm months.  Smoothies are also a great way to help beat the heat. 

I've been on a smoothy kick lately. I'm not sure why my deal it, but I just can't get enough of them! For the past few weeks I've been making them for Spencer and myself for breakfast throughout the week. I keep quite a bit of fresh fruit on hand and I have so much fun playing around with different fruit combinations. Call me a dork, but I love it. While smoothies are a great option for breakfast, they are also perfect for lunch and snacks too!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Easy (and Healthy) Tropical Granola

Have you ever tried making granola at home?  If you answered no, then you'd be amazed at just how simple it is!  A little melting, a little mixing, a little toasting and your done.  Yup.  That's all there is to it!  But probably the best part about making granola in the comfort of your own home is the fact that you can customize it to fit your taste. 
Customizing granola is incredibly easy.  Add your favorite type of nuts.  Try the dried fruits you like the most, and then get creative, try different combinations.  Your options are endless.  The version I have here has dried mangos, pineapple, papaya and some toasted and raw coconut.  I also added some almonds and pistachios for another element of taste and texture.  It's delish! 
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