Monday, April 28, 2014

Peanut Butter Mini Donuts with Chocolate Frosting

Holy peanut butter, Batman! These donuts are awesome! Seriously, Dave has it so good to wake up and get these little babies on a Saturday morning. Soft, cakey peanut butter flavored donuts are topped with a creamy chocolate glaze and dusted with chopped peanuts for a perfectly yummy breakfast treat. We may have devoured several of these before I put a stop to it and packaged the rest up for friends. And then didn't take them to our friends. (Sorry--I promise you'll get treats soon!) Super simple recipe, big flavor to win over any peanut butter and chocolate fan, and mini donuts alone are enough to make anyone smile. Seriously, I could make these every week (assuming I would be giving up on pants altogether).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Macadamia Nut White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently I was asked to bake cookies for a family birthday party. The request included chocolate chip and oatmeal cranberry, but also macadamia nut white chocolate chip. Except I'd never made them before, so I needed to find a recipe that would be just as good as the others. And these really are. Soft and chewy, loaded with sweet white chocolate chips and studded with salty, almost creamy, macadamia nuts these might be a new favorite. I actually had to make them again since Dave only got the handful of "ugly" cookies from the original batch. I don't usually reach for a cookie with macadamia nuts, but I really like these cookies and am glad they were requested. Otherwise, I may have never decided to make them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cowboy Bark

Quickly running into Trader Joe's one day, I had a moment of weakness at the register. As I came up to pay for my healthy fruits and veggies, there at the display right before the check out was what can only be described as chocolate crack. At Trader Joe's it goes by the name of Ruggedly Awesome Cowboy Bark. Sucked in by dark chocolate studded with sandwich cookie pieces, pretzels, peanuts, almonds and toffee bits, I bought a bag. Then I immediately got in the car, opened the bag and indulged. Holy crap this stuff is good. I may have hid the bag in the car and never told Dave about it, just selfishly nibbling a piece to make the commute home that much more bearable. And possibly a second bag was purchased without my husband's knowledge until I realized this stuff would be far cheaper to make myself. So the last crumbs and pieces made their way into the kitchen (and Dave was introduced) so I could mimic this delicious sweet, salty, chocolatey treat. Besides being cheaper to make yourself, this recipe makes way more than you'd get in the package from TJ's, making it an even better value. But really, the important thing is that you can whip this up in no time, particularly helpful when you don't have time to get to Trader Joe's. This is a crave-able candy, and you're going to want it often.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cheddar Broccoli Rice Cups

When I was single, living alone, and not interested in cooking for one, I used to grab those packaged rice mixes and basically eat the whole thing for dinner. Hey, I didn't say it was healthy. The broccoli and cheese was my favorite. Knowing that they aren't really that good for you, it's literally been years since I've had them and it never occurred to me that I could make a delicious broccoli and cheese studded rice dish from more fresh ingredients. I know, a lot of things go right past me. So when I saw these rice cups, the light dawned on me and into the kitchen I went. Plus, made up in individual portions, I am able to freeze off the extras and pull them out for a quick side dish with a weeknight meal. I already know these are going to be a big hit this summer with grill season. Each cup is loaded with cheese and broccoli for a perfectly delicious rice side in the right portion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Orange Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been working on these cookies for about a month. For real. To say this was a challenge is an understatement. My director Ann gets a similar cookie from Otter Creek Bakery in Middlebury, VT. She and a friend adore these cookies and have been searching for a make at home version to no avail. So she shared a sample and wondered if I might be able to come up with a recipe. Challenge accepted and conquered. Well, conquered after 5 rounds of recipe adjustments. What can I say, I was determined. While my interpretation has a slightly lighter coloring and a bit of a flatter look, from the sample I had and Ann's feedback, these are pretty spot on in flavor and texture. And the list of goodies is endless: browned butter, chocolate chips, pecans, oatmeal, orange flavoring and all topped off with a candied orange slice. The resulting cookie is hearty with perfect sweetness and nuttiness, a hint of chocolate, vague caramel-like nut flavor from the brown butter and subtle orange flavor that your not sure is in the cookie or wafting from the garnish. No wonder Ann wanted to make these at home--you just can live without them!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Candied Orange Slices

Dave and I visit a small oceanside town in Maine every few years. When we're there we visit this awesome handmade chocolate shop. It's family owned and over 100 years old. And the candy is amazing. Wonderful truffles, dipped treats and other amazing goodies. Dave loves their candied orange slices which are then dipped in dark chocolate--an fantastic combination. He's been pestering me to figure out how to make the candied oranges so we could dip them ourselves and I've been dragging my feet. But I recently got inspired to figure it out and these are so simple I can't believe I waited so long. The result is a sweet, potent orange candy. The pulp becomes sweet and gelatin-like, sort of like a gummy candy. And the orange rind ends up a little sour, but totally edible. It's chewy and offers a nice contrast in texture. Certainly not what a normal orange rind would taste like (yuck!).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Black Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

While I'm not exactly sure what happened here, I'm super excited at the pleasant mistake of a (mostly) caramelized streusel topping instead of a traditional crumby coffee cake topping. The caramelized version sealed in the sweet goodness and tender crumb of this lovely coffee cake, swirled with black raspberry jam and dotted with white chocolate chips. Raspberries and white chocolate just work well together and I'm glad I paired them in this delicious cake. I took this to work for a training session can came home with make 5 or 6 slices. Yeah, it went over real well--several people came back for seconds.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Caribbean-Style Marinated Pork Kebabs

As I've mentioned, Dave and I get a CSA share from a local farm, Springdell Farms. Not only do they have excellent produce and wonderful staff, but they also raise some mighty tasty meat.  Recently, we picked up some pork kebab meat which we knew immediately would end up on the grill. Dave picked out an amazing marinade that I'll look forward to using again. I mean, you can't go wrong if your meat is going to take a bath in some dark rum and spices, right? The pork turned out slightly sweeter than I expected, but in a good way. It was well flavored and definitely delicious--as it should be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Waffles

Dave isn't much of a morning person. He doesn't wake up ready to start the day. During the week, I don't mind because I'm out of the house before he even gets out of bed. But on the weekends it can be a bit of a challenge. But I have a secret weapon against morning grogginess and the grunts and grumbles that come along with it. Breakfast. If I know we've got a lot to do and I want Dave to get his but in gear, I can usually win by getting up a little early to make something delicious and smile-inducing for breakfast. And I know it'll go over well if I can include his favorite flavor combo--peanut butter and chocolate. So on a Saturday morning when Dave came down the stairs to find these big, fluffy peanut buttery waffles dotted with mini chocolate chips on his breakfast plate, sudden the grinchiness subsided and was soon replaced with the happy husband I appreciate. Breakfast for the win.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Turkey Pot Pie Stew

We're finally getting to some reasonable, spring-like weather around here but not before a slew of chilly, rainy days this past week. So I'm still pulling out the crock pot from time to time for a hearty meal that will warm you from the inside out. And I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe with you sooner. I've been making it for over 3 years and it's a big hit. Big chunks of turkey and vegetables are the highlight of a lovely seasoned bechamel sauce, offering all the gooey goodness inside a pot pie. The crust is replaced by quick biscuits or crescent rolls making this the easiest version of a pot pie outside the freezer aisle.  I love the mix of vegetables, and that you can swap out what you like for the ones you don't care for, as well as the comforting smell you come home to after this has been cooking along all day. Smells like warm love on a cold rainy day, but will still be delicious if the sun is shining.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Marshmallow Fudge Cocoa Cookies

Happy Birthday Abi! My niece just turned 8. You may remember that last year I made her Blueberry Muffin Cookies. Abi is a girl who knows what she wants and asks for it, so this year she asked for a marshmallow cookie. She's loves her some marshmallows and some chocolate, so I dug out this recipe that I haven't made in probably 5 years. It's awesome. You know how carrot sticks are a delivery vehicle for ranch dressing and tortilla chips exist strictly for shoveling copious amounts of salsa into your face? Well these cookies are really just a means of transporting the gooey marshmallow and thick fudgy frosting from your plate to your tongue. Sometimes the cookie is just a means to an end.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

Last week was my coworker Kate's birthday so I knew I had to make a sweet treat to celebrate. But seeing as how we were having a department social with other treats later that afternoon, I was looking for something slightly less indulgent. Enter these tart and tangy pink lemonade cupcakes with a funfetti twist. Colorful and tasty, these are an excellent treat--and made with applesauce and just a touch of oil, they are relatively healthy to boot! Low fat and delicious means I can have two, right?