Friday, August 30, 2013

Carrot Cake Mix Cookies

Time for cookies!  Soft chewy cookies with lots of flavor--not just a not to carrot cake, but also white chocolate chips as a nod to the traditional cream cheese frosting on carrot cake and an added sweetness from caramel bits.  These cookies are yummy and fun and so easy to make.  They would be a lovely after school treat or for a bake sale or some other fall gathering.  Carrot cake tends to be a big deal in the spring, but these cookies definitely have a place as a fall treat.  And I just hope my Foodie Pen Pal enjoyed them too.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baked Pesto Chicken

Once I made that yummy pesto, I needed something to do with it.  Chicken of course is such a great canvas so this baked up dish is delicious and really lets that pesto shine.  Melted cheese on top completes the dish for a wonderful entree with lots of fresh flavor.  I am in love with this chicken dish and am hoarding pesto to freeze so I can make this all through the fall.  This dish is very easy to make, with just a few ingredients, and came together quickly for a weeknight meal.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Homemade Pesto

Confession: I've never been a huge fan of pesto.  I'm not sure why--maybe I just never had the good stuff.  But over time I've started having bits of it, spread on a wrap or maybe a fancy bruschetta.  And then we were faced with a huge bunch of basil in our CSA box a few weeks ago and Dave really wanted pesto.  (PS: I had no idea he liked pesto so much.)  So knowing what to do with basil was one thing, but what to do with the pesto?  Well, I figured that out and in doing so learned that this pesto is good enough for dipping crusty bread (aka: eating with a spoon) and loads of other fun things.  The flavors are fresh and bright (it helps that I used pesto that was freshly picked), with garlic and a nuttiness from the walnuts I used.  I'm glad Dave actually had an idea because this pesto is delicious, super simple (I made two batches) and incredibly versatile.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

This might be my favorite thing I've made all summer. And it doesn't even have any chocolate in it, so it must be good.  Seriously, I've made this three times already this month and will probably make it again next week.  It all started with some awesome corn from our farm box.  Then some black beans, a little mango and red onion.  A lonely jalapeno pepper needing some love got thrown in.  Then dressed with a bit of olive oil and lime juice and tossed with some cilantro.  Amazing.  Light, fresh flavors but still essentially summer-esque make a nice alternative to my usual salsa.  This dip is hearty and I'm sure would be great with some sort of actual meal, but it's never made it that far since Dave and I have literally shoveled this into our mouths with tortilla chips until we run out.  And then I have to make it again.  I'll be sad with the fresh corn runs out, because I seriously love this salsa.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Peanut butter and chocolate are the consummate flavor couple when it comes to sweet treats.  A little sweet, a little salty, a little nutty and a lot of yummy, I can't help myself from marrying these two flavors.  I've done a couple other bars lately (these and these and these) but they're just so easy and yummy and a one shot deal to get a big pan for sharing.  Easy and delicious.  I amped these Peanut Butter Brownies with not only a peanut butter swirl, but peanut butter chips mixed in and a sprinkling of peanuts on top.  I'm pretty sure I shoved in enough peanut butter to perfectly pair with the sweet, fudgy brownies.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza Enchiladas

Pizza and Mexican are probably our favorite go to meals.  Simple to prepare after work and delicious, which are the two main criteria for a winning recipe.  Plus, these enchiladas are fun and unexpected and can be completely customized.  I first made these for a friend's family as a contribution to ease the burden of meals as she deals with some health issues.  A family with 3 school age boys, what to make?  I noticed on the sign ups that they'd been getting a lot of casseroles, so I thought I'd try something different.  Apparently these enchiladas were a big hit.  And I was happy because I felt like it made enough that these growing boys could stuff their faces and there would still be plenty to go around.  Pepperoni is always a big hit, so I went that route, but you could veggify this dish, use sausage, different cheese or any of your favorite pizza toppings or combinations.  If it's good pizza, it'll make a good enchilada.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Snack Mix Cookies

The sweet and salty snack mix that M&Ms put out is a guilty pleasure of mine.  First, M&M's are my kryptonite and by far my favorite candy.  Then the peanuts and pretzels for a bit of salty flavor.  And finally itty bitty cookies to round out the foursome of flavors to make a fun little snack.  All tossed into these cookies for a lot of wow and a bunch of yum.  Dave asked what I was making as a started portioning the dough onto my cookie sheets, and when I told him what was in them, his eyes got as big as saucers.  I said, "There are cookies in my cookies," and he just about died.  Then he ate one later and was in love.  He described them as monster cookies, but without the peanut butter (liiiiight bulb!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Oreo Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

Let me just break this down for you.  Chocolate chip cookies.  With chunks of Oreos.  Pressed into a pan and topped with cheesecake filling.  Topped with more cookie dough.  Drizzled with white and dark chocolate.  Heaven just seems like an understatement when it comes to describing these bars.  Seriously, what more could you possibly want?  The cookie is soft but has a crunchy exterior providing a perfect crust to the creamy cheesecake filling, and topping it with more goodies just seems right.  They are a fairly impressive bar and perfect for a party, work treat, celebrating a day that ends in "y," just about anything.  Oreos are my favorite store bought cookie and I love a good bar with some sort of creaminess to it, so the cheesecake filling is a great addition.  These were a big hit when our friends were over and more than a few were requested in the doggy bags.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Take 5 Brownies

You know I love a treat that packs a ton of flavor into one convenient package.  And the Take 5 candy bar is one of those that jams together all kinds of stuff--chocolate, peanut butter, pretzels, peanuts and caramel.  So take all of that and jam it into a fudgy brownie and now you're talking all kinds of amazing.  A chewy brownie with an awesome combination of salty (pretzels, peanut butter and peanuts) and sweet (chocolate and caramel), these are by far one of my new favorites.  I made these to take to a friend's house when he invited Dave and I over for dinner.  I love making desserts for Ben because he literally loves everything I make.  He's a cooks favorite taste tester and I know it's not out of obligation because he's not married to me.  When I showed up with him and told him what I brought he actually asked if we should just skip dinner and have dessert.  I like that kind of thinking.

Friday, August 9, 2013

S'mores Brownies Redux

Happy National S'mores Day!  I constantly feel like I'm always a day late and dollar short on celebrating food holidays (except for Christmas since I'll prep for that months in advance).  Well this time I'm a day early since the celebrations for this chocolatey, marshmallowy, graham cracker treat actually happen tomorrow.  But these brownies need to be made for the celebration.  I made them for one of the other groups at work as a thank you for helping me, but stole a few for myself (and my immediate coworkers.  The graham cracker crust is a nice thick base for the fudgy brownie which is then topped with mini marshmallows and mini chocolate chips for a gooey, delicious topping.  All of the elements that make S'mores awesome, but with a brownie in the middle.  Sounds like yum to me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Zucchini Hummus

As the zucchini began their intrusion into our lives again this summer, I wanted to find some more unique recipes to use them instead of just bread or shredded for sauces.  So I found this recipe and really liked it.  Dave was still not keen on the idea of zucchini, even in a dip form, and since this recipe makes about 2 cups, I had a lot of hummus to pawn off on people.  I ended up taking this into work and you would have thought I fed the ladies in my office crack.  Seriously, they loved this stuff. First we ate it with some pretzels we had kicking around, then I brought it out with some fresh veggies during a staff meeting. This hummus is unlike most hummus you've likely had (no chickpeas!) and has a clean, fresh flavor, but at the same time is undeniably hummus-y.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Blueberry Waffles

We get some amazing blueberries from our farm.  I'm happy to just eat them by the handful (and usually do), but Dave wanted me to "do something" with them recently and decided he wanted blueberry waffles. Happy to oblige (hey, if he's going to have input on a meal so I don't always have to come up with the menu, I'll jump right on it), I found a recipe and got to work. These baked up to fluffy, delicious waffles with a touch of sweetness in the batter and a bit more from the blueberries.  We ate more than a few, but they were perfect for a lazy Sunday breakfast and of course I froze the extras, turning them into toaster waffles for a quick weekday breakfast.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Is it ice cream?  Is it cake?  Better still, is that fluffy buttercream frosting?  I had a flashback to a time when my mom made these amazing cupcakes in ice cream cones. I can't remember if it was for a birthday party, a school treat, or just because, but I remember thinking they were so awesome. My mom was pretty creative with cake and had a talent for decorating cakes that I just failed to get the hang of (my sister inherited that gene).  But as I remembered these cupcake cones, I knew they were something that even my lack of skill could pull off.  Tasty vanilla cupcake batter is poured into ice cream cones (the flat bottomed cake cones) and baked up to golden and fluffy.  Topped high with chocolate buttercream made to look like soft serve ice cream and dusted with confetti style sprinkles, these cupcakes not only brought back memories, but also brought smiles to my friends faces when I shared these at a party.