Wednesday, February 26, 2014

No-Bake Cinnamon Chip Granola Bars

I have been eating granola bars as my mid-afternoon snack at work for the past few months.  I eat the same kind for a few weeks and then switch to the next kind.  I am running out of flavors to try and it's sure getting old.

I figured a homemade granola bar would taste much better and is probably much better for me than the same old store-bought flavors.
These bars are soft and chewy with a light honey flavor.  They hold their shape and don't get crumbs everywhere while you are eating, which is good news for my desk. 

Cinnamon chips have a pretty strong flavor, so if that isn't your thing, you can always add white chocolate chips, regular chocolate chips or even peanut butter chips.
No-Bake Cinnamon Chip Granola Bars
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner

2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 c. rice krispies cereal
2 Tbl. coconut oil (or canola oil)
1/4 c. + 2 Tbl. honey
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. cinnamon chips

Combine oats and cereal in a medium bowl; set aside.  In a small saucepan, heat coconut oil, honey and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir in the vanilla extract and pour over the oat mixture.  Stir until everything is evenly coated.  Stir in the cinnamon chips; reserving a few for topping.  Press mixture into a 8''x8'' baking pan (or similar size).  Press the reserved cinnamon chips into the top of the granola bar.  Allow to set for several hours or until firm.  Cut into 10 bars.  If taking in lunches, wrap individual bars in plastic wrap.  

Jenn's Notes: If cinnamon chips aren't your thing, you can substitute with white chocolate chips, regular chocolate chips or peanut butter chips. 

Linked up at Weekend Potluck!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Skinny-licious Cookbook Review and Giveaway

The publisher provided me with a copy of this cookbook for the purpose of this review, but the opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Skinny-licious: Lite and Scrumptious Recipes for a Slimmer You, by Shauna Evans

I'm going to be completely honest with you . . . I was really excited to get this cookbook.  I have been searching for healthier food ideas and I couldn't wait to have a whole book of them.

Well . . . the recipes in this book were not quite what I was expecting.  I found ingredients like whipping cream, sour cream, butter, cheese, cream of chicken soup and so on.

Is it possible to really lose weight while eating this food?

Now, being a food blogger, I sometimes stretch the idea of "healthy."  Like saying zucchini bread is good for you, because it is loaded with zucchini or saying a cupcake recipe is healthier because it is loaded with greek yogurt or calling a cake recipe "skinny" because it only has 4 Tbl. of butter as opposed to 8 Tbl.  Compared to an alternative, maybe they are a little bit better?

That is kind of the same idea that I get from this cookbook.  

I knew there had to be a reason behind these recipes.  Turn to the front of the book and you can read all about the author's weight loss journey.  She has a unique way of losing weight.  Her plan involves only eating during a certain "window" throughout the day.  It is about changing your metabolism.  After struggling for 5 years, she has had success losing almost 60 pounds, in 7 months, while still eating foods she loves, all by using her plan.

Whether you think the recipes in this book should be considered "skinny" or not, they all sound delicious.

A few that I cannot wait to try are:
General's Barbecue Chicken Skewers
Harvest Garden Chili
Greek Salad Sandwich
Peanut Butter Cookies

I tried the Cashew Chicken and we thought it was good and it did feel like a light meal.

You can purchase this cookbook at Costco, Barnes & Noble, AmazonCedar Fort Publishing and several other places.

*Congratulations to Carol E. for winning this giveaway.*  Winner has been notified via email.
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bobby Deen's Baked Spaghetti

Tomorrow is Friday!!!  Any fun plans?

You should make this Baked Spaghetti for your family.

The first time I made this casserole, it blew my expectations out of the water.  I was so surprised how much I liked it.  One, because I thought I added too much pasta and two, because it was baked - I didn't know what to expect.  

I have made it countless times since and it turns out perfect every time.  It is now a family favorite recipe.  I love that you can cut it out of the pan, in squares, and it holds its shape.  It is even good leftover.

Definitely a keeper.  
Bobby Deen's Baked Spaghetti
adapted from: Bobby Deen
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
splash of white wine vinegar, opt.
1 c. onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
1/2 Lb. lean ground beef
8 oz. angel hair pasta 
1 c. Cheddar cheese, grated
1 c. Mozzarella or Monterey cheese, grated

In a large saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, Worcestershire, white wine vinegar, onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, sugar and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  When sauce is about done, in a nonstick skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until no pink remains.  Add the meat to the sauce.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain well.  Lightly grease an 8X8-inch casserole dish.  Combine the sauce mixture with the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup of Cheddar and 1/2 cup of Mozzarella or Monterey.  Pour into casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Top with remaining cheese and continue to bake until melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes.  Serves: 5-6

Linked up at Weekend Potluck!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Classic Irish Soda Bread {It's so Yummy}

Valentine's Day is over . . . bring on St. Patrick's Day :)

I was watching a Martha Stewart Baking show this morning and saw her make a loaf of Irish Soda Bread.  Hers had some strange ingredients in it, but it got me curious about what Irish Soda Bread tastes like.

So, I turned to my trusted Cook's Illustrated Cookbook and found this Classic Irish Soda Bread recipe.  Each ingredient is something I just so happen to have in my pantry at all times.  If you have ever made Snickerdoodles, then you most likely have cream of tartar on hand and while you might not have cake flour, it is available at pretty much every grocery store.
I LOVE this bread.  It is definitely something I will be making ALL YEAR LONG.  It tastes like a biscuit in bread form with a crunchy outside (which is the best part).  I don't know the traditional way to serve this bread, whether it's plain or smothered with butter, honey or jam?  I chose to serve mine with my Mom's Homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam and it is delicious.

I won't be stopping there.  I can't wait to use this bread for a breakfast sandwich with eggs, ham and cheese or use it as the "biscuit" for some sausage gravy or dip it in some cheesy soup.  So many possibilities.  It's easier than making biscuits and it has less butter than biscuits.  Sold!      
Classic Irish Soda Bread
adapted from: Cook's Illustrated
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, cold
   plus 1 Tbl. melted butter for brushing loaf
1 3/4 c. buttermilk

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Cut 2 Tablespoons of cold butter into chunks and add to the flour mixture.  Using your clean hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it is completely incorporated.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk.  Use a fork to work the ingredients together.  Add up to another 1/4 cup of buttermilk, adding 1 Tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms.  

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat together to form a 6'' round.  Place dough into an 8'' inch (or larger) cast-iron skillet.  If you don't have a cast-iron skillet you can use a baking sheet, but the outside won't get as crispy.  Use a sharp knife and cut an "x" into the top of the loaf, about 5-inches long and 3/4-inch deep.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with 1 Tablespoon of melted butter.  Cool for a few minutes, slice and serve.  Best if eaten on the day it is made.        

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fluffy Cornmeal Pancakes

I have a new obsession.  THE WALKING DEAD.  Have you seen it?
There was a marathon around New Years and "The Mr." recorded 43 episodes.  I did not want to start watching it.  I mean . . . a show about zombies?  Now, all I can say is I was hooked at the 1st episode.
We have been staying up way too late watching this show.  We will finish an episode and say "let's just watch the very beginning of the next episode to see what happens", then before we know it, the next episode is over.  The Suspense . . .  I can't take it.  Talk about heart pumping drama the ENTIRE episode.  

Anyway, since we stayed up until 3 a.m. watching this show, we needed a good hearty breakfast to get us up and going.  
I am one of the biggest cornbread lovers out there.  I love these Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits, these Famous Dave's Cornbread Muffins, this Pumpkin Cornbread and now these Cornmeal Pancakes.  I guess you could say if it has cornmeal in it, then I will like it :)                

These pancakes are delicious and they have a great texture.  I usually make pancakes once or twice a month and my favorite pancakes are now going to have to take turns with these new pancakes.

You know what would be amazing?  Smothering them with Cinnamon Honey Butter or Coconut Oil Honey "Butter".  I can just taste it now.
Fluffy Cornmeal Pancakes
adapted from: Cook's Country
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 1/4 c. cornmeal
1 3/4 c. buttermilk, divided
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbl. sugar
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs

In a large glass bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk.  Add the cubed butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 60-90 seconds until edges are just set, stirring halfway through.  Let sit for 5 minutes with the plastic wrap on.  This will help prevent the pancakes from being gritty.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of buttermilk and two eggs.  Remove plastic wrap from cornmeal mixture and whisk in the egg/buttermilk mixture.  Then, pour in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Allow pancake batter to sit for 10 minutes.

Set griddle at 350 degrees and grease (I used a little coconut oil).  Use 1/4 cup of batter per pancake and pour onto griddle.  Cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook another 2 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.  Set on a wire rack over a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you finish cooking the remaining pancakes.  Serve with butter and syrup.  Makes around 14 pancakes.      

Linked up at Weekend Potluck! and Tuesday Talent Show! and Time to Sparkle!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The BEST Chocolate Cupcakes with Cheesecake Pudding Filling

Let's just say my mind is blown!  These cupcakes are one of the best chocolate desserts you will ever put in your mouth.

They remind me of my Mom's Famous Chocolate Sheet Cake in cupcake form and with cream filling.
This is the same Chocolate Cake recipe that I used for My 30th Birthday Cake.  I loved it in cake form and I really love it in cupcake form.  There is no way to resist this amazing eggless cake batter.  At least a recipe with eggs in it keeps you from sampling too much of it before it's baked, but an eggless batter? It was hard to not eat the whole batch of that raw batter by the spoonful.

I made a super rich fudgy frosting to go on top.  At first, I was worried it was going to be too overpowering, but once you combine it with the cupcake and filling, I couldn't imagine a better frosting to go with these super moist cupcakes.
Since the cake and frosting are both rich, I wanted some kind of light vanilla type filling.  Cheesecake pudding popped in my head and it is the PERFECT compliment.  

After tasting it all together, I think you could easily switch up the filling by using a different pudding mix.  I think Strawberry, OREO, White Chocolate, Banana or even just Vanilla would all be divine.

I made a Valentine's Day version and an Every Day version.  With or without sprinkles, you will swoon over these cupcakes.
The Best Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from: Crazy For Crust
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

*Both the filling and frosting recipes have cooling/chilling time involved.  Make sure to plan ahead.

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. hot water
1/4 c. + 2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 Tbl. distilled vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cheesecake Filling:
1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. Cheesecake instant pudding mix
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting:
1/4 c. (4 Tbl.) unsalted butter
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp. instant coffee granules
1/2 c. + 2 Tbl. heavy whipping cream (no substitutes)
2 Tbl. sour cream (I used light)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.  For the cupcakes: In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine hot water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee and vanilla; stir together and add to dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  A few lumps are okay.  Divide between muffin cups, filling 2/3 full with batter.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and top springs back when lightly touched.  Makes around 12-14 cupcakes.  Allow to cool completely.

For the Filling:  In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix, milk and vanilla and whisk together until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

For the Frosting:  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir in the sugar, cocoa and instant coffee.  Combine whipping cream, sour cream and vanilla and stir into sugar mixture.  Stir until smooth and creamy (mine had a few small lumps that I couldn't get out).  Continue heating until sugar is dissolved.  Do not boil.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for several hours or until it's thick and fudgy looking.  It will happen, just be patient.

To Prepare:  Use a paring knife and cut a small chunk out of the top center of each cupcake.  Slice off the very top of the chunk, so it's flat (see steps 4, 7, 8 and 9 of this post for a picture tutorial of this process - it's really easy).  Fill cupcake with cheesecake filling and replace top.  Spread chocolate frosting over the top.  Garnish with colorful sprinkles, if desired.  Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.      
Linked up at Weekend Potluck! and Tuesday Talent Show! and Time to Sparkle!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fudgy Butterscotch Snickers Brownies

These brownies are rich, fudgy, chocolatey, chewy, and such an indulgence.

The kind of indulgence that is a must on Valentine's Day.

I opted for a boxed brownie, because I have yet to find a homemade recipe that even comes close.  I'm always up for recommendations if anyone has a favorite?

Make these for yourself and then make them again for your sweetie :)
Fudgy Butterscotch Snickers Brownies
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 box fudge brownie mix, plus ingredients on box
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. milk chocolate chips
1/2 c. butterscotch chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10 fun-size Snickers bars, chopped

Prepare brownie mix according to the recipe on the box for a 9x13-inch pan.  Cool completely.  Meanwhile, add sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips to a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until chips are melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour the creamy mixture over the top of the cooled brownies.  Top with chopped candy bars.  Allow icing to set.  It will firm up as it cools.  Cut into squares and serve.  

Idea from: Lil Luna    
Linked up at Weekend Potluck! and Tuesday Talent Show! and Time to Sparkle!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lucky Leaf Pie Filling and Rachael Ray Giveaway Plus Raspberry Cobbler Cake

Lucky Leaf provided me with pie filling and a Rachael Ray stoneware set, at no cost, for the purpose of this blog post.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Lucky Leaf wants us to "share the love" this Valentine's Day by helping us bake some sweets for our sweetie :)

If you know me, then you know that I would never pick a fruit pie over a cream pie, but you know what . . . that is the beauty of pie filling . . . you can use it for WAY more than just pie.

Take this Raspberry Cobbler Cake for example.  Rather than purchasing raspberries, that aren't currently in season in Utah and spending the time cooking them down with sugar and cornstarch to create my own filling, I was able to use Lucky Leaf Red Raspberry Pie Filling.  So much easier.

  I swirled the Red Raspberry Pie Filling into my cake batter, topped with a cinnamon streusel topping and baked it to perfection.  Last, I topped it all off with my mouthwatering rich and creamy Cream Cheese Icing.  To make this even more decadent, serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  

Now . . . I might just pick this cake over a cream pie :)      

Visit Lucky Leaf's Recipe Page for more mouthwatering ideas.
Raspberry Cobbler Cake
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted

Raspberry Swirl
1/2 c. raspberry pie filling

Streusel Topping
5 Tbl. light brown sugar
1 Tbl. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 Tbl. unsalted butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  For the Cake: Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter.  Stir together until just combined.  Spread evenly into a greased 8x8-inch baking dish.  Add dollops of the raspberry pie filling randomly over the top of the cake.  Use a knife and run it through the cake batter and raspberry filling to form swirls.  For the Streusel Topping:  Stir together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Add the unsalted butter and using your clean hands, rub together the dry ingredients with the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over the entire top of the cake.  Bake for 30-32 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool and drizzle with cream cheese icing.  Makes 9 pieces.  

Cream Cheese Icing
2 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 Tbl. milk

Place cream cheese in a microwave-safe glass dish and microwave for 10-15 seconds or until very soft. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth and creamy.  Add enough milk to reach desired consistency.  Drizzle over cooled cake.  
To Enter The Giveaway
Congrats to Kenzie C. - the winner of this giveaway!
Linked up at Weekend Potluck!

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