Friday, October 31, 2014

One Pot Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Alfredo

One Pot Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Alfredo

Serves 4.

Delicious.  Easy.  Impressive.  Perfect for when friends come over!
Source: Host the Toast

¾ lb Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups milk, plus ¼ cup for the sauce
1½ cups chicken broth, plus ¼ cup for the sauce
1 (16 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and pureed (you can do this in a food processor or blender)
8 oz goat cheese
½ cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 handfuls fresh spinach
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz pasta of your choice

Remove the casing from the sausage and discard the casing. To do this, simply cut along the side of the sausage with a sharp knife and peel off the pierced casing with your fingers.
In a large pot or high-walled pan, saute the sausage meat with the garlic and olive oil over medium heat, until browned.
Stir in chicken broth, pureed roasted red pepper, milk and pasta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 12 minutes. If the liquid has all been absorbed, add the additional milk and chicken broth.
Stir in spinach, 1 handful at a time, and cook until wilted and hot.
Stir in the goat cheese and parmesan. Continue to stir until melted. Remove from heat and serve.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Birthday Cake Batter Pancakes

Birthday Cake Batter Pancakes

Makes about 6 pancakes.

The kids loved these.  We used regular syrup instead of the glaze, but next time, I would try it, so I'm including it here.
Source: Happy Food Healthy Life

For pancakes:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cake mix
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup milk
assorted sprinkles
whipped cream and additional sprinkles for topping, optional

For glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
assorted sprinkles

To make glaze: Mix milk, extract and powdered sugar until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more sugar or water/milk to reach desired consistency. Mix into glaze and drizzle on pancakes.

Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Add 1/2 cup of milk, egg and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; not too thin, not too thick. This will vary greatly on the brand of cake mix you use. Start with 1/2 cup of milk and add more if needed.

Preheat a skillet on medium heat. Fold desired amount of sprinkles into batter. Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with vanilla glaze.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Cake with Brownie Batter Frosting

Chocolate Chocolate Cake with Brownie Batter Frosting

Serves 16?
A rich, chocolaty cake perfect for a birthday, special occasion, or just because.  A brownie layer is sandwiched between two layers of chocolate cake, and it's all wrapped in a delicious brownie batter frosting.  And who doesn't love extra chocolate chips on the outside?

Inspired by: Baby Gizmo and Beyond Frosting

Chocolate cake mix, any chocolate flavor
Brownie mix (13x9 family size)
5 eggs (to be used for the cake and brownie mix)
Vegetable oil
One 12-oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Two (or three) 8" round pans

2 tsp Pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp  Unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I used Hersey’s Special Dark)
1 cup powdered brownie mix (from a box)
2 tsp Milk
3 heaping cups Powdered sugar

8 oz. dark chocolate chips
  • Cake Layers:
  • Make the chocolate cake according to the box. Pour batter evenly into two lightly greased 9″ round pans and bake at 350 degrees for 32-37 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a plate to cool completely.
  • Brownie Layer:
    Make the brownie mix according to the package. Pour entire brownie batter into one (1) lightly greased 9″ round pan. Make sure the brownie pan is the same size as the cake pans that you used!  Bake the brownie at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Watch the brownies carefully as not to overcook them but make sure they aren’t completely doughy in the center.Cool in pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a plate to cool completely. I found it was easiest to remove the brownie carefully using a wide spatula underneath.

    Using a stand mixer, combine the softened butter and vanilla extract, beating on a medium speed until smooth.
    In a separate bowl, sift cocoa powder and brownie mix together. Yes, you must sift this! The fine powder ensures it will properly mix into your batter. I prefer to use the special dark cocoa powder because I love how the dark chocolate flavor enhances the brownie taste. Add your butter and mix on medium speed until well combined.
    Next, add 2 tsp of milk and beat into the frosting. I added the milk because it adds a real creaminess to the frosting. The frosting will be a little grainy, which is very reminiscent of actual brownie batter. I tested this frosting will several different amounts of milk, the more milk you add, the creamier the frosting will be, but it will dilute the taste of the brownie batter.
    Continue to slowly add your powdered sugar while beating on a medium speed. Your batter will be come very thick. Once you have added all of your powdered sugar, quickly add your corn syrup and continue to beat until well combined.
    Lastly, add 2 tsp hot water and increase speed to medium-high for 30 seconds until well mixed. I like to increase the speed at the end to help make the frosting a little bit lighter.
    Frost the top of the brownie layer with about 1/6 of the frosting. Sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips on that layer. Carefully place the 2nd cake layer on top of the brownie layer. Carefully frost the top and sides of the cake with the remainder of the frosting.

  • BEFORE THE FROSTING SETS, you need to apply the chocolate chips to the outside. Take a handful of chocolate chips at a time and firmly press against the side of the cake until most of the chips stick. Some chips will fall to the plate and you will use those to fill in the holes.
    Repeat this process around the entire cake. Take the fallen chips and the chips that you have left and fill in the holes and sprinkle on top.
Pick the plate you want the cake to be displayed on and start with one (1) cake layer. Frost the top of the cake layer with about 1/6 of the frosting . Sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips on that layer. (Note: Any chopped up candy – Reese’s, M&Ms, Heath Bits etc can be substituted for the chocolate chips to add another flavor!) Carefully place the brownie layer on top of the cake layer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Makes 8x8 pan.

Oh boy.  Sinfully yummy.  Excuse the poor photo and just trust me on this one.
Source: Inside BruCrew Life
For the Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Reese's peanut butter chips
1 cup Hershey's baking melts

For the Cheesecake:
1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter

For the topping:
1/4 cup Reese's peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt and cream again. Sift together the baking soda and flour. Slowly add to the butter mixture until incorporated. Stir in the peanut butter chips and baking melts by hand. Press half the dough into the bottom of an 8" pan. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and peanut butter and beat until smooth. Pour on top of the cookie dough.
Press small pieces of cookie dough onto the top of the cream cheese layer. Continue until all the dough has been used and the cheesecake has been covered. Bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Cut into 16 bars.
In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter chips and 1/2 teaspoon shortening. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir until melted and smooth. Spoon into a plastic bag that has one corner cut off. Drizzle over bars. Repeat with chocolate chips. Keep refrigerated. Makes 16 bars.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Banana Crumb Cake

Banana Crumb Cake

Makes (2) loaf pans, (2) 8x8's or (1) 13x9

My good friend Cheryl turned me on to this recipe.  Easily the best banana crumb cake I've ever eaten.  So flavorful and moist, and the crumb filling/topping is to die for!
Source: Southern Plate

For the crumb cake:
2 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
2 c. self-rising flour
1 stick margarine
2 eggs
3 bananas
1 t. vanilla

For the crumb topping:
1 stick (1/2 c.) margarine
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour (self-rising or plain)

Spray two loaf of 8x8 pans with cooking spray (you can also use a deep 13x9).  Place peeled bananas in mixing bowl, add sugar.  Mix until bananas are liquefied.  Add margarine, mix until creamed together with banana mixture.  Add all other ingredients and blend well.

In medium bowl, place all topping ingredients.  Cut together with a long-tined fork until well blended.  Pour 1/4 of batter into each pan, top with 1/4 crumb mixture.  Pour remaining batter over and top with remaining crumb mixture.  (If you are using a 13x9, pour 1/2 batter, than 1/2 crumb.  Then remaining batter and remaining crumb.)

Bake for 45-60 minutes for loaf pans or 8x8s.  For 13x9, bake for 50-70 minutes.
Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Grilled Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Serves 6

A deliciously fresh meal.  Easy, yet visually appealing.  A good meal for entertaining.
Sources: Avocado Salsa comes from Better Recipes 

3 avocados, seeded and chopped
3 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
6 T. finely chopped onion
1-1/2 t. minced garlic
4-5 T. lime juice
salt and pepper

Grill or bake using your favorite standard seasoning. 

Cook chicken. Top with salsa.  Serve over saffron rice.

Gnocchi, Sausage, and Spinach Soup

Gnocchi, Sausage, and Spinach Soup

Serves 4-5.

Delicious.  I will make this again and again!
Source: Cinnamon-Spice and Everything Nice

1 yellow onion, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
olive oil, for sauteing
sea or Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 pound Italian sausage, ground or removed from casings, hot or sweet
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed between fingers
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound potato gnocchi
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, rough chopped
3/4 cup half & half or heavy cream (light is ok)
1 heaping tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large sauce pan or soup pot saute onion and red pepper in a couple of tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat until tender. Season well with salt and pepper. In a separate, large skillet brown the sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. Add garlic to onion mixture and saute until fragrant.
Drain sausage and add to onion mixture along with the basil and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper, simmer for 20 minutes.
Add gnocchi and spinach, bring to a simmer and cook until gnocchi puff up and start to float (check package for cooking time). Add half & half and fresh basil, bring to a simmer for three or four minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese.