Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse

Oh my GOSH!  This seriously is some heavenly chocolate mousse!  You take one bite and you think you have died and gone to heaven!  It really should be called sinful chocolate mousse, because it was sooooooo addicting and I couldn't stop eating it.  This will have you tip-toeing to the fridge at 3 in the morning to sneak a few bites.  I'm usually not a huge fan of stuff like this, because I like to eat food with texture - ya know - something I can chew.  The only reason I even tried this mousse is because I had a whole bunch of whipping cream that was about to expire and I didn't want to throw it out.   Let's just say . . . I was sold after the first bite!  

This would be the perfect ending to a Valentine's Day dinner!  You can easily make individual servings for each guest - no sharing required!  All parties involved would be happy!  It is rich and thick and creamy yet light and airy at the same time!  It reminded me of a soft ice cream.  I LOVED this!
Heavenly Chocolate Mousse
8 oz. Symphony Bar or your favorite chocolate
1/2 c. milk, divided
2 Tbl. butter
3 egg yolks
2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/4 c. whipping cream, whipped

In a double boiler heat chocolate, 1/4 cup of milk and butter until all is melted.  Cool 10 minutes.  In small saucepan, whisk egg yolks, sugar and 1/4 cup milk, whisk and stir over low heat until reaches 160 degrees, 4-5 minutes.  It will be like a thin custard.  Remove from heat and whisk in cooled chocolate mixture.  Cool completely.  Gently fold in whipped cream.  Spoon into dessert dishes and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour or overnight.  

Jenn's Notes: I made the chocolate part one night and I folded in the cream the next day, because I was afraid the cream was going to deflate and that this would only be good the day it was made.  That was so NOT the case.  This stayed fresh for four days and then it was gone, so it might stay fresh even longer?  I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a Tablespoon or two of sugar to my cream.   I reserved a small amount of the whipped cream for topping, but folded the rest in. So good.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lighter and Leaner Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich

This is another healthy recipe from Bobby Deen (Paula Deen's Son).

Let me just start out by saying that I have never had the original Pimento sandwich, so I am not sure how this compares.  With that said . . .

This sandwich was AMAZING! I LOVED IT!
I seriously felt like I was eating something super fattening, because it was so comforting and tasted sooooooo good!  Guess what?  This sandwich is NOT super fattening.  According to Bobby it only has 261 calories and 6.4 grams of fat per serving and Paula's original version has 737 calories and 57.4 grams of fat per serving?  I think we can all handle 261 calories for dinner.  He made this lighter by using a mixture of Cheddar and low-fat Mozzarella and by using non-fat Greek yogurt instead of Mayo.  I promise you would never know this had Greek yogurt in it - don't let that scare you. 

I must say . . . I absolutely love red peppers and that was a HUGE part in the amazing flavor of this sandwich . . . so if you are not a huge red pepper fan, then you might not like this sandwich as much as I did.  

I really did love this sandwich and I will be making it a lot.  I served it with these baked fries.

Update: 6/18/2013 - I still love this sandwich and make it a lot.  The filling is ooey, gooey and cheesy.  I like to add a little Italian seasoning too.  
Lighter and Leaner Pimento Cheese Sandwich
slightly adapted from: Bobby Deen

1 c. grated Cheddar
1/2 c. grated low-fat Mozzarella
2/3 c. plain non-fat Greek style yogurt
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 - 1 red pepper, chopped (do not leave out)
8 slices whole wheat bread

Combine all ingredients and spread on bread.  Spray with cooking spray and grill.  Serve immediately.  Yield: 4 servings.

Jenn's Notes:   I adjusted the recipe for the ingredients I had on hand - if you want Bobby's original recipe click here.  I actually used french bread instead of wheat.  I know that is not as healthy, but that is what I had on hand.  I sprayed the bread with butter spray and grilled on the George Foreman.  I can not wait until I eat this sandwich again.  It might become a weekly menu item! 

Rush-Hour Recipes Winner Announced

Rush-Hour Recipes Cookbook
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this great giveaway!

If you didn't win, don't worry, I have a great vanilla giveaway coming up in the next few weeks!

I used a random number generator to pick the winner! I did not count the two "replies" since they were not entries.  

And the winner is . . . .

Comment #61
Jenna . . . who said: I am a follower of your wonderful blog!


Please contact me within 72 hours to claim your prize!

I think you are really going to like this cookbook, it is full of so many time-saving recipes!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bobby Deen's Gooey - with less - Butter Cake

Have you guys seen Bobby Deen's (Paula Deen's Son) new cooking show?  I love it! He takes his favorite Paula recipes and makes them lighter and healthier.  He is so cute and has a such a fun personality.  

I have made two of his recipes so far and I really liked both of them!  Hey, I am all for cutting out a few unnecessary ingredients in order to save a few calories.  I know that one of Paula's most popular recipes is her Gooey Butter Cake and surprisingly I have never tried it, but Bobby had Paula on his show and he made her his lighter version.  She seriously said - Oh Bobby - I think I like this better than the original!  I can't tell you if it is better than the original, since I have never had it, but I did think this lighter version was really yummy! I will definitely be making this again and I can't wait to try a chocolate version! 

On the show, Bobby told us Paula's original recipe has 330.5 calories and 14.6 grams of fat per serving, but his "lighter" version only has 222 calories and 8.6 grams of fat per serving!  

Gooey (with less) Butter Cake
adapted from: Bobby Deen

1 (18.25 oz) package yellow cake mix
1/2 c. reduced-fat buttermilk
1 Tbl. canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 (8 oz.) package neufchatel cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
1 Tbl. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9''x9'' baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the cake mix, buttermilk, oil and egg in a large bowl and using an electric mixer, blend together until smooth.  Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  For the filling: beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the sugar, yogurt, butter and vanilla.  Spread over the cake mixture.  Bake 40-45 minutes.  DO NOT OVERBAKE.  You want the center to be a little gooey. Yield: 16 servings. 

Jenn's Notes: I used a cherry chip cake mix instead of yellow and I ended up using regular cream cheese instead of light (but I think light would be just as yummy), since I had some that was expiring.  I used an 8''x8'' baking dish that had pretty tall sides and the cake baked right up to the top.  So, my picture will be a little thicker than yours would be if you use a 9''x9'' pan.  I baked mine the full 45 minutes and that might have been 1 or 2 minutes too long, but the middle was still a little gooey.  The cake part is almost a little dry, but when you eat it together with the creamy filling it is yummy! The filling is absolutely delicious and reminds me of cheesecake.  I think I even liked this better the 2nd day (this is still good and it is the 4th day - the cake gets softer as days go bye)!        

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sausage Orzo Skillet

Rush-Hour Recipes Cookbook
This is my fourth and final recipe I tried for my review of Gooseberry Patch's new Rush-Hour Recipes Cookbook! I liked each recipe that I tried and I have a long list of recipes that I still want to try.  I think this is a great cookbook and I am very happy with it!  I'm sure whoever wins it will love it too! 
This Sausage Orzo Skillet is in the 5-Ingredient Favorites section and not only does it have very few ingredients, but it is also made in one skillet! You gotta love recipes that have easy cleanup.  

I thought this was yummy!  It is a perfect last minute recipe to have on hand!  I thought I was going to think of it more as a side than a main dish, but once it was all done and I was eating it, I totally felt like it was a main dish! Very satisfying and filling!  I will for sure make this again.

Sausage Orzo Skillet
from: Rush-Hour Recipes submitted by Julie Lundblad

1 Lb. ground pork sausage 
14 1/2 oz. can beef broth
14 1/2 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 1/4 c. orzo pasta, uncooked
Optional: Italian seasoning, to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage; drain.  Add broth and tomatoes with their juice, bring to a boil.  Stir in orzo; sprinkle with Italian seasoning, if using.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until orzo is tender.  Makes 4 servings.

Jenn's Notes: I only used 1/2 pound of sausage, because that was all I had.  I also didn't have stewed tomatoes, so I added diced tomatoes instead and added some extra spices like thyme and rosemary (I know that makes it more than 5 ingredients, but spices shouldn't count)!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spicy Baked Chili Fries

Rush-Hour Recipes Cookbook
This is another super yummy recipe that I made for my review of Gooseberry Patch's Rush-Hour Recipes!
I have told you before how I could live on potatoes.  I love them in every way, shape and form! So, of course when I saw these baked fries, I knew I would have to try them.  

My first bite took me way back to my childhood.  They tasted like some french fries we used to get at an old place called Eat A Burger and you could get a big bucket of fries - literally.  That was the first thing that popped in my head when I tried these.  Isn't that funny how certain things can make you think of something you haven't had in 15-20 years?

I really really liked these fries and I will be making them quite often.  Mine didn't get very crispy, but the flavor was amazing.  So, if I can figure out how to get them crispy in the oven, then they will be one of my favorite french fries.
Spicy Baked Chili Fries
from: Rush-Hour Recipes submitted by Jo Blair

1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. seasoned salt
3 Tbl. olive oil
3 baking potatoes, cut into wedges

Mix spices in a large container with a tight-fitting lid.  Add oil and stir; add potato wedges.  Put lid on container and seal tightly; shake vigorously to coat potatoes well.  Arrange potatoes on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn potatoes over and bake another 15 minutes until tender and golden.  Serve plain, with fry sauce or with ranch dressing for dipping.  Makes 4-6 servings.  

Fry sauce = 1/2 cup of ketchup mixed with 1/2 cup of Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

Jenn's Notes: I loved these fries. I wish they were slightly crispier, but the flavor was amazing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quickie Cornbread from Rush-Hour Recipes

Rush-Hour Recipes Cookbook
This is another delicious recipe that is part of my review of Gooseberry Patch's Rush-Hour Recipes

 This one is for my neighbor! 

I was at the grocery store one day and I ran into my neighbor.  She was staring at the cornbread mixes trying to decide which one to get.  

She told me she had to bring cornbread to a dinner party and she had no idea what to do?  

She said she had looked up a few recipes and they had a million ingredients.

I hurried and ran through the ingredients in my head and I am thinking - okay they might have like six ingredients (I did look at my cornbread recipe just now and it has 8 ingredients)?  She considers that a million?  All of the ingredients are probably things she already has on hand, except for the cornmeal?  Plus, a box mix probably calls for at least 3 or 4 ingredients, so that is really only a few more than she would already be adding?  Whatever - it made me laugh?  I can see how it would be intimidating to make something from scratch if you have never done it before.  So, this recipe is for her! 

A cornbread recipe with only TWO ingredients!
I am a HUGE sweet cornbread person.  I already have several recipes on my blog and I haven't even posted my favorites yet?  Eventually, I am sure you will all get sick of seeing new cornbread recipes, but I never get sick of trying new ones!  I didn't eat cornbread a lot while growing up, but when I did, it was always a homemade, from scratch, recipe that my mom would make!  I never knew any different?

This was the FIRST time I had EVER used a box mix for cornbread.  I had no idea what to expect.  The end result turned out good!  The creamed corn made it extremely moist.  I drizzled a little honey on top and it was very yummy!  I actually preferred this at room temperature rather than warm.  Not only is this a quick and easy recipe, but it is also a budget-friendly one too.  I picked up the box of cornbread mix for 50 cents and the creamed corn for 69 cents!  How cheap is that?  I think you guys will really like this one!      
Quickie Cornbread
from: Rush Hour Recipes submitted by Dawn Schlauderaff
(Printable Recipe)

1 (8 1/2 oz.) package cornbread mix
1 (14 3/4 oz.) can creamed corn     

In a bowl, stir together cornbread mix and creamed corn until moistened.  Pour into an 8''x8'' baking pan sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until set and golden.  Cut into squares.  

Jenn's Notes: I baked this for 29 minutes and I think I could have even went another minute or two.  This cornbread is extremely moist and has the "mealy" texture from the cornmeal with a yummy "corny" flavor from the creamed corn.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rush-Hour Recipes Review and Cookbook Giveaway Plus Pineapple Sheet Cake

**This giveaway is now closed**
Click here to see the winner!

I have a great giveaway for you today!! A new cookbook full of quick and easy dishes!  I already have Six Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, but I am ALWAYS happy to add more to my collection, because each one is different!  If you are not familiar with these cookbooks, they are full of recipes submitted by every-day-people like you and I!  In my opinion those are the best kinds of cookbooks, because if someone is submitting a recipe with the possibility of it being published in a cookbook, you know it has got to be a loved recipe!  

Rush-Hour Recipes Cookbook
I was extremely excited to get a chance to review this cookbook!  Work has been crazy busy lately (which is a good thing), but by the time I get home, I am exhausted.  I have been finding myself searching for quick and easy recipes and I have been using my crockpot more than ever.  This cookbook is full of quick and easy dishes!  There are six categories:     5-Ingredient Favorites, One-Dish Dinners, Slow Cookers to the Rescue, Soup's On!, Make-A-Meal Sides and Speedy Potluck & Party Foods.  The majority of the recipes are for Main Dishes and Sides and there are only a few dessert and bread recipes.

Just from flipping through the book quickly, I found many things I want to try, like Sausage Orzo Skillet (on my menu this week), Grilled Western Chicken Sandwich, Curly Noodle Surprise, Stir-Fried Pork and Noodles, Spanish Rice and Beef, Mama's Mucho Nachos, Melinda's Mexican Manicotti, Swiss Ham Buns, Nana's Loaded Mashed Potatoes, Stewed Chicken Verde, Golden Parmesan Potatoes, Spicy Baked Chili Fries (on my menu this week), Quickie Cornbread (on my menu for tomorrow), Better Than Brownies and Fluffy Lemon-Raspberry Dessert!     
This pineapple cake quickly caught my attention.  There is NO oil or butter in the cake itself! That makes it guilt-free!  However, it is topped with cream cheese frosting, but I think it would be great topped with a light whipped topping!  I whipped this batter up in less than five minutes and I had to sneak a taste of it.  The batter was sooooo yummy - full of fresh pineapple flavor!  I made the frosting while the cake was baking.  I don't know if it was my own fault, because maybe I overmixed the cake, but it ended up slightly chewy?  It still tastes really yummy and I love that I don't have to feel guilty about eating a few slices!  

Pineapple Sheet Cake
adapted from: Rush-Hour Recipes (submitted by Teresa Moore)
(Printable Recipe)

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
20-oz can crushed pineapple
optional: chopped pecans
(I added a pinch of salt)

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, eggs and undrained pineapple.  Mix well.  Spread batter in a greased and floured 15''x10'' jelly-roll pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, until cake tests done with a toothpick.  Spread with cream cheese frosting while still warm. Sprinkle with pecans, if desired.  Cool; cut into squares.  Makes 15-20 servings.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. powdered sugar (I used 3 cups)

Whip cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix to combine.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.

Jenn's Notes:  I pureed my pineapple until it was completely smooth, because I didn't want any chunks in my cake.  I used a 9''x13'' cake pan and I baked it for 38 minutes.  I didn't realize the recipe said to spread the frosting on the cake while it's warm until just now, as I was typing the recipe!  So, I was thinking it was supposed to be a frosting, that is why I added a lot more powdered sugar! 


Do you want to win a free copy of this cookbook?
How to Enter - Sorry giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only
1.  Mandatory Entry: Be a GFC Follower (on the right hand side) of Eat Cake For Dinner and leave me a comment letting me know if you are a new follower or an existing follower!

If you would like additional entries:  
(Leave me a separate comment for each entry!)
2.  Follow Gooseberry Patch on Twitter (@gooseberrypatch
3.  Fan Gooseberry Patch on Facebook (www.facebook.com/gooseberry patch
4.  Leave a comment on Gooseberry Patch's blog (http://gooseberrypatch.typepad.com)

Giveaway will end on Saturday, January 28th and I will announce the winner on Sunday, January 29th! 

Gooseberry Patch provided me with a copy of this cookbook, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

I finally got to make these cupcakes! I had been dying to try them and I finally was able to make them for my nephew's 2nd birthday!

I think they are so cute! What little kid wouldn't love to have Cookie Monster cupcakes?  They were pretty easy.  The only hard part was piping on the blue buttercream.  I don't know if it's because the holes in the piping tip are so small or what, but it was pretty hard to squeeze the frosting onto the cupcake.  I even thinned my frosting a little, because I figured it was too thick, but it was still pretty hard to squeeze the frosting through the tip?  So, you might have to take a break every few cupcakes,   so your hand doesn't fall off.  I actually had Jake finish the cupcakes for me!!  The end result is so worth it!    

CLICK HERE to see a tutorial over at Bird on a Cake!
Cookie Monster Cupcakes
adapted from: Bird on a Cake

1 batch of your favorite cupcakes
1 batch buttercream frosting tinted blue
sky blue food coloring
Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies (they are the perfect          size)
white candy melts
chocolate chips (I used Guittard, which are slightly bigger           than regular)
Wilton #233 decorating tip

First, take a cupcake and cut out a mouth for Cookie Monster.  Place a cookie in the mouth and pipe frosting fur all over the cupcake.  Melt a few candy melts.  Put a dab on the back of a chocolate chip and stick it on the flat side of a candy melt.  If blue frosting fur is still soft, you can just press the "eyes" into the cupcake.  If the frosting has hardened, put a dollop on the back of the candy melt and press the "eyes" into the cupcake.  Repeat with remaining cupcakes.  That's all there is to it!!  

Vanilla Cupcakes
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
1 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 10-12 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour the wet into the dry.  Stir just until combined.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 17-18 minutes or until done.  Yield: 10-12 cupcakes depending on how full you fill the muffin cups.

Vanilla Buttercream
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 - 3 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbl. vanilla coffee creamer or milk

Whip butter until fluffy.  Add salt and vanilla and mix until combined.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until combined.  Add the creamer or milk and beat until smooth.  If mixture is too thick, add a little more creamer or milk.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

Why is it that whenever I am completely out of cream cheese, I find a million things I want to make with it and when I have a million sticks of cream cheese in my fridge, I can't find anything to make with it? Just before Thanksgiving, my grocery store had a killer deal on Philly Cream Cheese, so I bought 10 boxes, thinking I would use them up - no problem.  Well, time flew by - as usual and I realized I still had 6 boxes of cream cheese that were expiring in a week.  So, I have been making recipe after recipe with my cream cheese, because I refuse to let any go to waste!  

This soup is one of those yummy recipes that helped me use up my cream cheese.  It couldn't be any easier to throw together and it is LOADED with flavor.  Usually, I am wishing things had more flavor, but with this soup, I was thinking it could use a tiny bit less flavor?  It was seriously delicious and I know I will be making this one a lot, but next time, I am going to add slightly less seasonings. 
Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
adapted from:Plain Chicken

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can corn, undrained
1 can Rotel (tomatoes & gr. chiles), undrained
1/2 pkg. ranch dressing mix 
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tbl. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
2 chicken breast halves or 5 tenders, frozen

Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.  Combine beans, corn, Rotel, ranch seasoning, cumin, chili powder and onion powder and pour over chicken.  Place stick of cream cheese on top.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Stir cream cheese into chili.  Use 2 forks and shred the chicken.  Stir together and serve.  Yield: 3-4 adult servings.    

Jenn's Notes:  This was delicious, but next time I will add slightly less seasonings, because it had just a little too much flavor (yes that is possible).  I added some water at the end to reach my desired consistency.   

**Update (11/16/2012) - I have decided I like this recipe best without adding any ranch dressing mix.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grandma Parker's Clam Chowder

I grew up eating this clam chowder.  It is my Grandma's recipe that my mom used to make for us and surprisingly, as a kid, I really liked it.  You wouldn't think a kid would like clams, but all of my siblings liked this soup too.  We used to eat it with saltine crackers, but now a days, I serve it with sliced french bread.  I love to serve bread with all of my soups!  It makes for such a hearty meal.  

Now, neither Grandma or Mom served this with bacon.  That is my addition!  Bacon makes everything better.  It still tastes perfectly delicious without bacon, but I had some in my freezer that needed used up and I absolutely loved the extra flavor it added.  
Clam Chowder
from: Grandma Parker

2 c. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 c. celery, diced
1 c. onion, diced (I use less)
2 cans minced clams
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. flour
1 qt. half-and-half
salt and pepper

My additions:
a few strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
a little italian seasoning

Place diced vegetables in a large pot and add just enough water to cover them.  Drain the clams and add the juice to the pot of vegetables.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.  While that is cooking, melt margarine in a separate saucepan; add flour and stir to form a paste and cook for a few minutes.  Slowly add the cream and mix with a wire whisk until thickened.  Stir in the drained clams.  Stir cream mixture into pot with vegetables; season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cook until thickened.  Do not boil.  Stir in some italian seasoning and top with bacon, if adding and serve with saltine crackers or sliced french bread.    

Jenn's Notes: No notes today.  This is a tried-and-true recipe that always turns out delicious.   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Whoopie Pies

I wonder who first thought of putting chocolate and peanut butter together?  
Whoever it was?  I will love them forever, because it is one of my absolute favorite flavor combinations.  There is just something about that combo that is so satisfying.  

This recipe comes from Amy Williams on the Real Women of Philadelphia site as seen in the Dec/Jan Issue of Taste of Home.!  She needed a dessert for a last minute party and created this recipe from pantry ingredients.  What could be better than an easy chocolate cookie filled with a rich and creamy peanut butter frosting that is rolled in peanut butter cups?

I'm not gonna lie, this recipe is only for the die-hard chocolate and peanut butter lovers.  If you're not a die-hard, it might be a little much for you?  The chocolate cookie was amazing and the flavor reminded me of some cookies from a local bakery.  Now I know their secret - cream cheese!  I personally really liked these cookies, but there is no way you could eat more than one of them in a 24 hour period!!  
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Whoopie Pies
adapted from: Amy Williams 

1/4 c. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix
1/4 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbl. milk (more or less)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
12 mini peanut butter cups, chopped, for garnish

In a large bowl, combine butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Gradually and cake mix and flour to creamed mixture and mix well.  Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto a cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly.  Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until set.  Cool for 1 minute before removing from pan to wire racks; cool completely.  For filling: beat peanut butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies and top with the other cookies.  Roll in chopped peanut butter cups.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Yield: 2 dozen sandwiches.  

Jenn's Notes: I tried to cut the recipe in half, but ended up adding all 4 oz. of the cream cheese to the cookies, by mistake, so I just added a little extra flour to make up for it and they turned out great.  My cookies took more like 10-12 minutes to bake.    

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

I'm going to make this post short and sweet today, because I am just about to get up and make my nephew some super cute cookie monster cupcakes for his birthday!

I kept seeing this soup recipe all over Pinterest.  It comes from 365 Days of Crockpot and everytime I saw that picture, it would make me hungry, so I made it for dinner the other night.

I really really liked this soup and I will be making it again.  It tasted like it came from a fancy restaurant.  It is so creamy and very flavorful.  Serve some Mini Garlic Monkey Bread on the side or Soft and Chewy Homemade French Bread and it is perfect! 
Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 c. finely diced celery
1 c. finely diced carrots
1 c. finely diced onions (I used way less)
1 tsp. dried oregano or 1 Tbl. fresh (I used dried)
1 Tbl. dried basil or 1/4 c. fresh (I used dried)
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 bay leaf
1/2 c. flour
1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 c. butter
2 c. half-and-half, warmed
salt and pepper

Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, onion, oregano, basil, chicken broth and bay leaf to a large slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or until vegetables are soft.  About 30 minutes before serving make a roux.  Melt butter over low heat and add flour; constantly whisk for 5-7 minutes.  Slowly stir in 1 cup of the hot soup.  Add another 3 cups and stir until smooth.  Add all back to the slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients.  Season again, if needed.  Cover and cook on low another 30 minutes or until ready to serve.  

Jenn's Notes: I cooked this on low for 5 hours and high for 1 hour and my veggies were still crunchy and I was getting hungry. So, I poured it into a large pot and boiled it on the stove until they were done and I just finished cooking everything on the stove.  I added some cooked, diced chicken to this soup and I absolutely loved it and I can't wait to make it again.    

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mini Garlic Monkey Breads

I love this time of the year . . . when everyone is posting their top recipes for the previous year.  It gives us a chance to see the recipes we might have missed and it allows us to see the very favorites!  I love to see the blog owner's favorite recipes, because out of all the recipes we/they made out of an entire year, to have one be the top, it must be very very yummy!  These garlic monkey breads were Real Mom Kitchen's favorite bread recipe from 2011.  

They turned out really good and they were so easy to make.  I was worried that the garlic flavor was going to be overpowering, but it wasn't at all.  In fact, next time, I might even add a tiny bit more garlic.  I served these alongside this amazing Tomato Basil Parmesan soup and loved it, but I think they would be so good with spaghetti or lasagna too. 
Mini Garlic Monkey Breads
adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen

2 (7.5 oz) cans buttermilk biscuits
6 Tbl. butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl. dried parsley flakes
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
    plus 2 Tbl. to sprinkle on top

Cut biscuits into 4 pieces and place in a bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over biscuit pieces.  Gently toss to evenly coat.  Use a greased 12-cup muffin tin and place 6-7 pieces in each cup.  Sprinkle remaining 2 Tablespoons of cheese over the top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes.  Serve warm.  Makes 12.  

Jenn's Notes:  I used jumbo buttermilk biscuits, so I ended up cutting each biscuit into 6 pieces.  I thought the garlic flavor was pretty mild, which would be perfect for kids, but for myself, I think I will add a tiny bit more next time.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Best EVER Chocolate Chip Cookies as seen ALL Over Pinterest

I first saw these cookies over at Project Naptime and then I saw them on another blog and then another and then all over Pinterest.  I could not get away from these cookies, so I gave in and made them.  

These cookies were soooooooooo good! If you like a chewy chocolate chip cookie, then this recipe is made for you!  They are so extremely chewy and soft and buttery and they stay fresh for several days.  We finished off a whole batch of these cookies between the two of us!  This is MY NEW FAVORITE recipe for chocolate chip cookies without oats (I have another favorite one with oats).

The secret ingredient is the cornstarch!  That is what makes them so chewy.   If you have any other recipes saved for chocolate chip cookies that you have been wanting to try, do yourself a favor and try this recipe first!  

Best EVER Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from: Anna Olson

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
chocolate chips, as many as you like

Cream together butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.  Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and add to wet ingredients.  Mix to combine and stir in the chocolate chips.  Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use a small cookie scoop and drop dough onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until barely golden around the edges.  The key is to NOT overbake.  

If you want crispy cookies, omit the cornstarch and replace the baking soda with baking powder.

**Jenn's Notes Update:  I LOVE these cookies and I make them all of the time.  If the dough looks a little crumbly while mixing, don't worry, it will come together.  I get between 27 and 30 cookies and I bake them for 10 minutes (NO LONGER).  They will look underdone, but they set up perfectly.    

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