Monday, September 30, 2013

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet, salty, soft cookies that just make me smile.  Bits of caramel, chocolate chips and big salty pretzel pieces are packed into these soft and chewy cookies for an amazing combo of salty and sweet, and a twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie.  I'm always up for an easy drop cookie and these are delicious.   In fact, these are so good, they are likely going to end up in the Christmas cookie tins this year.  I'd been wanting to make them for a while and finally was convinced to do so when I got my September Foodie Pen Pal match who was clamoring for something sweet and salty.

The Lean Green Bean

Friday, September 27, 2013

Peanut Butter Lover's Monster Bars

Oh these bars are good.  You know Dave and I are peanut butter junkies--it's Dave's favorite for desserts and right up there with chocolate for me.  So a peanut butter blondie stuffed to the gills with peanut butter goodies?  I'll take two, please.  We had game night with our friends Felise and Nick, so I made these bars when we went to their house.  These bars have everything--peanut butter, peanuts, peanut butter chips, milk chocolate chips, toffee candy bits, and peanut butter M&Ms.  They are so loaded with peanutty mix-ins that there's barely any batter--which is just fine.  There is exactly enough batter--peanut butter flavored, that is--to keep all the tasty bits and candies together.  So much so I wouldn't be surprised if Dave asked for these for birthday baking.  Or because it's a day that ends in 'y'.  One of those.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apple Pie Pancakes

One of my favorite things about fall is apple season.  We love apple picking and have been getting lots of tasty apples from our CSA and the farm stand so far this season.  We are perfectly content just snacking on these sweet and tart fruits (depending on the variety), sometimes with a smear of peanut butter, but of course I'll use any excuse to try a new recipe, particularly if it involves pancakes.  Plus, yet another excise to combine dessert and breakfast, which is always a win in my book.  And these pancakes are so delicious.  Sweetness from brown sugar and the apple, plus a perfect spice combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and you've got a breakfast that can stand up to any apple dessert just fine.  Fluffy pancakes that taste like pie?  I'll definitely take on that combination.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Finally, I've come across a zucchini recipe that Dave will eat!  And the zucchini can be replaced with other squash like summer squash or even delicata, so just use what you have on hand this late in the season.  This yummy rice is cheesy and full of flavor with a great texture.  Plus it's easy to make.  I've toasted rice before when I made this Mexican rice and it really brings out a difference flavor in the rice and I think it helps absorb the liquid better to create a fluffy rice that blends well with the added squash and cheese.  I'm so glad I stumbled across this dish.  I've made it three times and am thrilled that Dave likes it so much.  At last, he's a believer in zucchini!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

I love my grocery store because they are always sending me coupons so whenever I get a mailer from them, I'm sure to scan through it to see if they might be discounting a pantry staple or some other frequent used item for our home.  Recently they sent a flyer with some coupons that also included a recipe for this corn chowder.  I was intrigued by a few things.  First, it was made for the slow cooker and since it's getting cooler out, my slow cooker will be making even more frequent appearances for dinners.  Second, I had a ton of corn in the fridge as the farm kept loading our CSA box with more huge ears of corn every week.  And third, this recipe uses the naked corn cobs to flavor the soup, so it ends up with this deep, roasted corn flavor that is really delicious.  Corn chowder isn't something I otherwise would have thought to make with all those extra ears of corn, but I'm certainly glad my penny-pinching side scanned through that mailer because this dish is definitely tasty.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

S'mores Banana Bread

I'm a fan of a quick bread and it is my go to solution for overripe bananas on the kitchen counter. But since I make banana bread so often, I need to keep it varied and add some other flavor--some of my favorites being this celebration version and these two boozy versions, one with rum and one with bourbon.  So the thought of transforming my go-to quick bread into a s'mores delivery vehicle, with crushed graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows all throughout got me super excited for some overripe bananas.  This bread is moist and full of flavor.  The banana plays nice with each of the s'mores flavors, and the marshmallows get nice a gooey, exactly like a campfire marshmallow should get. Plus melty chocolate chips and a sweet graham crunch, and this bread is a lovely variation on banana bread.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Beef, Bean and Beer Chili

It's triple B chili where the B stands for flavor in the shape of beef, beans and beer!  Surprisingly I've never put beer in my chili and now I'm wondering how I missed out on that glorious addition.  This chili is hearty and filling, with lots of flavor and delicious chunks.  Thick, like a good chili should be, I served this topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions and a side of beer bread.  The heat can be adjusted, but we liked the spicy chili powder and the addition of a diced jalapeno.  Dave was in love with this chili, calling it one of the best I've made.  Not too shabby considering I've got eight other chili recipes, some that I've been making for years.

Secret Recipe Club

Friday, September 13, 2013

Butterscotch Blondies

There's something about a blondie with a crunchy edge, a crisp top layer and a chewy, delicious interior that makes it ok to enjoy a non-chocolate dessert (see, I'm not a complete chocolate junkie).  The blondies have a bit of a hidden ingredient, made with oats for a slight nuttiness that plays well with the butterscotch chips.  And a little whiskey for flavor definitely makes a nice touch (hey, don't make me give up chocolate and booze for this dessert).  Dave loved these and asked that I always use oats in my blondies--which is a pretty big deal for him to have an opinion like that.  Plus these are super easy since you only need one bowl and a spatula.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Skillet Squash & Pepper Pasta

This dish was a surprise.  And it's a huge hit in our house, the perfect summer side, that comes together quickly while your chicken or steaks hit the grill.  Lots of late summer veggies come to the table to make this dish fresh and bright.   The late summer brings lots of summer squash and bell peppers to the CSA boxes and this is a great way to let those flavors shine.  Even though I serve this as a side dish with dinners, it's certainly hearty enough on it's own and I've definitely loaded up an extra large sized portion of leftovers for lunches.  If you're still overrun with zucchini, that would also make a perfect addition or substitution to this dish.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Campfire Cookies

Well, the weather is starting to turn and there are few weekends left for comfortable camping, the best part of which is gathering around the campfire to toast marshmallows and make s'mores.  You know I love those marshmallow treats coupled with graham crackers and chocolate, and these cookies are a nod to that essential summer snack.  A chocolatey cookie stuffed with marshmallow bits and crushed graham crackers, these cookies a nice way to enjoy these last few days of summer before fall officially sets in later this month.  And of course they're a simple recipe because these cookies start with my master cookie mix.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

It's Friday so that means we're probably having pizza for dinner tonight.  Maybe even this pizza.  We probably have more pizza in the fall and winter because it's easy to put together after work and it makes great football food.  This is one of our favorites that I've been making for years.  I'm a big fan of buffalo wings and all things buffalo flavored (like this snack!) and this pizza is the perfect interpretation of those flavors.  A sauce that's a cross between pizza sauce and wing sauce, perfectly seasoned chunks of chicken, a blend of mozzarella or Monterrey Jack and blue cheeses and a smattering of scallions to finish it off, this pizza has all the elements.  I even serve it with celery and carrot sticks with ranch dressing for dipping to get the full on effect to turn a bar food appetizer into a full on meal.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pretzel Rolls

Pretzel rolls are all the rage in restaurants now.  Even the cafeteria at work has been bringing them in from a local bakery for sandwiches.  I first made these a little over a year or so ago and adored them.  Dave and I love soft pretzels (remember these?) and these big rolls are awesome for sandwiches.  Dave made a ham and cheese slathered with mustard (after all, it is a pretzel), but I topped mine with fresh basil, mozzarella, beautiful ripe tomato slices and lettuce.  Not only delicious, but hearty and fresh.  The pretzels have a beautifully browned crusty outside and a soft, chewy interior, just as the perfect pretzel should.  Don't be intimidated by a yeast dough--these are so easy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Homemade Sweet and Salty Snack Mix

A few weeks ago I made Snack Mix Cookies using the M&M Sweet and Salty Snack mix and last year I made rice krispie treats using the mix and a salted caramel swirl.  I love that snack mix so much, but it's not cheap.  As I looked at the combination of mini cookies, mini pretzels, peanuts and M&Ms, I couldn't help but think I could mix together something similar.  The trick was finding the right replacements, particularly the right sized pretzels and a mini cookie.  A bit of trial and error later, and I've come up with a pretty tasty alternative to the store bought version, yielding about twice as much mix for just about the same cost.  And I kind of like this version a little better because I think my mini cookie substitute has a lot more flavor to bring to the party.