Dilly Bar Pie

2 May, 2013

Do you have a favorite Dilly Bar flavor, or do you like all three? I, for one, have the hardest time deciding which one I want when I am at the DQ.

Dilly Bar Pie by My Sugar Coated Life

And we indecisive types no longer have to choose because I have combined all three flavors into this sweet little pie.

Dilly Bar Pie

This is a perfect dessert for the warmer months ahead and it is sure to wow a crowd! “A Dilly Bar Pie? Are you kidding me?”

Not just any crust would do for this particular pie, so I went with crushed up sugar cones and it is the best combination with the vanilla ice cream and crunchy layers of “dilly”. I think you’ll agree.

Dilly Bar Pie

Of course, if you do have a favorite flavor, you can make an all butterscotch Dilly Bar Pie, or whatever you fancy. That one is next on my list, because as much as I love ‘em all, when push comes to shove and they demand to know what kind I want, I always choose the butterscotch.

Dilly Bar Pie

So tell me, what is your favorite Dilly Bar?

Dilly Bar Pie

Dilly Bar Pie

Ingredients

1.75 quarts vanilla ice cream

FOR THE CRUST:

12 sugar cones

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

FOR THE BUTTERSCOTCH LAYER:

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1 tablespoon coconut oil

FOR THE CHERRY LAYER:

1/2 cup cherry chips

1 tablespoon coconut oil

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Instructions

FOR THE CRUST:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, pulse the sugar cones until they are coarsely ground. Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse until combined. Empty into a 9-inch pie plate and press into the bottom and along the edges. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Remove ice cream from freezer and soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes (depending on current weather conditions).

While ice cream is softening, make the "dilly bar" layers.

FOR THE "DILLY BAR" LAYERS:

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butterscotch chips and coconut oil. Microwave for 30 seconds at full power. Remove from microwave and stir. If any bits remain, continue to microwave at 15 second intervals.

Repeat with the cherry chips and chocolate chips.

TO ASSEMBLE THE PIE:

In the cooled pie crust, spread one third of the softened vanilla ice cream. Drizzle the butterscotch topping over the ice cream and allow to slightly harden. Spread another third of the ice cream over the butterscotch layer. Drizzle the cherry topping on top of that, allowing it to harden. Spread the final layer of ice cream on top of the cherry layer and finish with a nice coating of chocolate topping.

Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Remove from freezer 15-20 minutes prior to serving.

**You may have some of the topping left over, depending on how much you want to use in your pie. I had some of the cherry and butterscotch left over, but used all of the chocolate.

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Crunch Time Cookies

23 April, 2013
It may be hard to believe, but at one point in time I was part of a book club. As goes with many “book clubs”, we became more of an “eating club”, and then some members began working on the weekends while others took up jogging! Needless to say, we no longer read the same book as a club (and to say that we all ever did would be a stretch), however we remain great friends.
Crunch Time Cookies
At one particular gathering, my friend Jeannie was expressing her excitement over her latest detective book where a cat helps solve the crime (crazy-sounding, right?), when my friend Jennifer and I began laughing at her. We’re snarky like that–the whole club. She said to us, “Well, you two read those culinary mysteries where Goldy Bear, the caterer, always happens to witness a crime and then goes on to solve it!” We fell off our chairs, cracking up. She was right.
Crunch Time Cookie Recipe.
But let me just say, the only reason I was even reading such a strange thing as a culinary mystery and purchasing them at full price was at the suggestion of my dear friend, Jennifer. She majored in English Lit in college and has called more trends than I can even begin to name, and it was she who slipped me my first copy of a Diane Mott Davidson novel. I figured, if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me. I didn’t even question it!
Crunch Time Cookie.
I will say, it has been a long while since I have enjoyed one of those books, and I just might have to pick one up again soon. Truth is, they were darn good and full of wonderful recipes, even if they were slightly predictable. On one occasion, Jen and I whipped up a “Diane Mott Davidson” meal and it was fabulous, even if the power did go out!
These particular cookies are from the book “Crunch Time” and are chock full of oatmeal, toasted pecans, toffee bits, and chocolate chips.
Crunch Time Cookies {My Sugar Coated Life}
I recommend making them on the larger side and I think they are perfect for serving at a picnic or barbecue. I want to warn you that they are so delicious that they will disappear rather quickly. You don’t need to call Goldy Bear or the crime-solving cat. Unless people start slipping them into their purses.
Crunch Time Cookie My Sugar Coated Life
You may also want to savor the cookies while quietly curled up with your favorite culinary mystery.
Or perhaps a cat detective book, if you’re so inclined.
Crunch Time Cookie Dough

Crunch Time Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup pecan halves

1 cup butter, softened

4 oz cream cheese

1 3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup toffee bits

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange pecan halves on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Toast for 7-8 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

In a stand mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese and whip until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until lighter in color.

Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

To this mixture, add the salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until well combined.

Gently stir in the flour.

Next, finely chop the pecans. Add them to the dough along with the oats, chocolate chips, and toffee bits.

Make sure that the ingredients are well combined and chill the dough for at least 2-3 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop, measure out 3 tablespoon-size balls and place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. You will be able to fit about 5 cookies per sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cookies will appear underdone in the middle.

Cool on cookie sheets before moving to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Adapted from Diane Mott Davidson

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At my house we are lovers of breakfast for dinner. What is it really called anyway? We have brunch, and around here we call a late lunch “linner”, but there really isn’t a name for eating your first meal of the day in the evening. Mostly we have breakfast for dinner because if we made a “big breakfast” in the morning, we wouldn’t eat until noon! On top of that, I don’t like to start my day with anything too heavy.

By that, I mean that I prefer a leftover cookie or cupcake. I don’t even bother calling them “breakfast cookies” or a “muffin with frosting”, although in reality that’s all it is. Some people smear a tablespoon of butter on the inside of their muffin. I just prefer my butter blended with some sugar and swirled in a pretty pattern on top. With sprinkles.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you about these biscuits and gravy.

sweet heat biscuits and gravy

Did anyone watch “Two Dudes Catering” when it was on the Food Network? This sausage gravy is based on their recipe, but lightened up a bit by using mostly milk instead of cream, and thickened with a little flour. And it gets a little sweetness from maple syrup. I’m not going to lie about the “maple syrup”–as much as I love the stuff, more often than not around my house, I have the giant plastic container from Costco called Mrs. Butterworth’s. We love the Mrs.! Then the gravy gets some heat from Tabasco sauce and the combination is just a lovely little party in your mouth! Thank the Two Dudes and me later.

The 1-2-3-4 biscuit recipe has, you guessed it–four ingredients, and is one that I clipped out of our local paper about 10 years ago. The surprise ingredient is mayonnaise! I highly recommend using Best Foods/Hellman’s mayo. Please don’t make me go on my mayonnaise vs Miracle Whip rant again. These are best straight from the oven and slathered with butter and jam, or in this scenario doused with this sausage gravy.

1-2-3-4 Biscuits

The whole thing really comes together very quickly, so you could have it for breakfast and make Walt, Jr. from Breaking Bad extremely proud. As for my family, we are going to stick to having it for “suppfast,” or whatever it’s called.

Sweet Heat Sausage Gravy & 1-2-3-4 Biscuits

Ingredients

For the Sausage Gravy:

1 tablespoon butter

1 lb breakfast sausage

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups milk (I use nonfat or 1%)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

salt and pepper to taste

For the Biscuits:

1 cup milk

2 cups flour

3 rounded tablespoons mayonnaise (Best Foods recommended)

4 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions

For the Sausage Gravy:

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink. Do not drain off the fat!

Add the flour and cook for an additional two minutes, stirring well to combine. Add the milk and heavy cream and cook over medium high heat until thickened.

To this mixture add the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, and salt & pepper.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, while you make the biscuits.

Makes enough gravy for 12 biscuits.

For the Biscuits:

Preheat oven to 400 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients with a fork. Drop in mounds on the lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes then serve with gravy on top or with butter and jam.

These biscuits are best on the same day they are made.

Makes about 12 biscuits.

Sausage gravy recipe adapted from Two Dudes Catering.

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plate of millionaire shortbread tartlets

 Last Friday night, I had the most lovely time!

kids

My family and I were invited to a performance by a local group called “Rosie and the Posers”. They consist of musicians, a dancer, and even a juggler! I’m not entirely sure how to best describe their style, but the music is a complex mix of folk and country with a definite Scottish/Gaelic influence. Of course this event called for my children to don their kilts!

 boy with juggler

My mom was also attending and had declared that she was going to be making my new favorite appetizer, found here. After much deliberation, I decided that I should make a treat fitting with the style and theme of the evening.

I knew it had to be shortbread, but dressed for the occasion. Then it came to me. Millionaire Bars–shortbread with a layer of caramel and topped with chocolate was what the event was calling for! But we all know how messy they are.

 Millionaire Shortbread Tarts

Not anymore, friends! Meet the Millionaire Shortbread Tartlet.

 

A buttery and crisp shortbread shell…

shortbread tart shells

 

cradling a gorgeous salted honey-vanilla caramel…

caramel in shortbread shells

 

capped with a thin layer of semi-sweet chocolate ganache…

millionaire shortbread tart

and lightly sprinkled with sea salt.

millionaire shortbread tarts

 

Now that is what I call bite-sized perfection!

 

Millionaire Shortbread Tartlets

Ingredients

TARTLET SHELLS:

1 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup rice flour

SALTED HONEY-VANILLA CARAMEL:

1 cup butter

2 1/4 cups light brown sugar

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon sea salt

GANACHE:

1/2 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate

2 tablespoons heavy cream

additional sea salt for sprinkling (I use Maldon)

Instructions

FOR THE TARTLET SHELLS:

Preheat oven to 300 F. Use cooking spray to coat 2 mini muffin tins, and place on a cookie sheet.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugars. Beat until light and fluffy.

Add the all purpose and rice flour, mixing until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Drop by rounded teaspoons into mini muffin tin, then press against the sides as far up as possible.

Bake for 15 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Let cool in pans. Using a paring knife, run around the edge of each shell until they release.

Repeat with remaining dough.

FOR SALTED HONEY-VANILLA CARAMEL:

Line a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with buttered parchment paper. Set aside.

Melt butter over low heat in a heavy saucepan. Add the brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, and honey.

Cook over medium heat and stir frequently until the mixture reaches 238 F. Stir in vanilla and sea salt.

Pour about 1 1/2 cups into a glass Pyrex measuring cup and pour the remainder into the prepared pan.

Let cool in the measuring cup until it isn't molten lava, about 15 minutes.

While still pourable, fill the cooled tart shells almost to the top. Let cool completely.

Pour any unused caramel into the prepared pan with the rest of the caramel.

**This caramel recipe could easily be halved, but I like to have extra caramel for snacking and I prefer to use the whole can of milk.

FOR CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

In a microwave safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons heavy cream. On full power, melt in microwave for about 30 seconds.

Spread on tops of cooled tartlets.

Wait about 1/2 hour to an hour and sprinkle tops lightly with sea salt.

Makes approximately 48 tartlets.

Caramel recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

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snoballwhoopiepie

Be honest–how many of you had a melt down and went on a major spree all over town, looking for your favorite treats, when we received the worst news last year? Could it be for real? Hostess gone forever? And why, oh why, right before the holidays?

Hostess treats weren’t even a staple in my home and suddenly I needed Twinkies, couldn’t live without HoHos, and had to have one…last…Sno Ball.

fauxstesssnoballs

It was too late. I never did locate my beloved Sno Balls, so I’ve been stuck with the precious image circulating in my brain, begging me to attempt to replicate something similar. I will say that what I have created isn’t exactly the same. I mean, my kitchen just isn’t stocked with the preservatives necessary to make them completely Hostess-worthy.

fauxstesswhoopiepies

The recipe is quite simple. Instead of making them into the traditional shape and injecting filling and whatnot, I decided on a whoopie pie. Because first off, let’s face it, “whoopie” is a fun and funny word to say. Second, and the real reason, whoopie pies are much easier to make.

fauxtesssnoball

I’m going to tell you a very sad, but very true story. Once a Hostess delivery truck almost bumped into my car. It wouldn’t have been anything serious, but at the time I panicked at almost being hit. Then a sadness came over me due to the fact that I had lost my one opportunity at the possibility of being supplied with prepackaged baked goods for life. Yes, I am aware of the fact that I am extremely lame. The End.

snoball

So until we meet again with our little friends wrapped in the clear cellophane, I hope that these Sno Ball Whoopie Pies will comfort you.

 

Fauxstess Sno Ball Whoopie Pies

Ingredients

FOR THE WHOOPIE PIES:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sour cream

FOR THE FROSTING:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

7 oz jar Marshmallow Creme

1 cup coconut

food coloring of your choice

Instructions

FOR THE WHOOPIE PIES:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a bowl.

In a mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the flour mixture and sour cream to the mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Drop tablespoon-sized balls onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

FOR THE FROSTING:

In a mixer, beat the softened butter until pale. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip for 2-3 minutes. With a spatula, gently fold in the Marshmallow Creme. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a 1/2 hour.

TO ASSEMBLE WHOOPIE PIES:

Make colored coconut by adding desired food coloring to 1 cup of coconut in a zip lock bag and mixing. If the coconut isn't especially moist, add about 1/4 teaspoon of water to help distribute the food coloring. I also pulsed the coconut in the food processor, but this isn't completely necessary. Pour onto a plate.

Pipe frosting onto half of the pies and top with the remaining pies. Gently smoosh down on them and roll the exposed frosted edges in the coconut.

Refrigerate in a covered container.

Makes about 14 Sno Ball Whoopie Pies.

adapted from Epicurious

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Savory or sweet?

best potato salad

I guess that all depends on who in my family you ask. My dad has always referred to potato salad as “candy”, and many times will forgo dessert and have another bowl of potato salad if there is any left. I do love the stuff, but you all know that I have the sweetest sweet tooth in the world and would never pass up the opportunity to consume sugar.

How many of you like to eat your potato salad in a particular way? When I ask people this question, I have found that it’s ritualistic for most–similar to asking how they eat an Oreo. With brats? A burger? Or maybe right next to a scoop of beans? The way I prefer to eat my salad is with a nice handful of potato chips, so it’s really more of a potato dip. I tried to take a picture to demonstrate this, but my husband had to “help” and I ended up with his big man hand in the photo. Get your hand out of there! You’re ruining my money shot!

potato salad dip

Here is where I admit that I am a total and complete potato salad snob. It has to be just right or I will turn my little pig-nose up in the air at it.

There are just a few things that need to happen in order to have a potato salad worthy of my approval.

First, the potatoes need to be boiled long enough to have a fork easily slide into them, but not so long that they become waterlogged. Who wants crunchy potatoes in their salad? This is one of the primary reasons why I just can’t stomach the variety that is sold in the deli department of most stores.

Next, use decent mayonnaise or make your own. Best Foods/Hellmans is where it’s at and we all know it. Ina Garten says so and I agree. Unless you are one of those weirdos who eats Miracle Whip. I grew up on the Whip and thought mayo was disgusting for a long time. My grandma, Judy, was a big fan of the stuff as well but the “tangy zip” doesn’t do a thing for my taste buds anymore. However, if that’s what you like then use it. Just don’t tell me!

Finally, boil your eggs properly. Everyday Food (Martha Stewart’s former publication that I’m still mourning the loss over not receiving anymore) has the perfect method–put the eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. When the water begins to boil, put the lid on and remove the heat. Set the timer for 12 minutes. Let them sit in ice water until cool. Done! I haven’t had an egg with a gray ring since I started making them per these instructions.

On top of these minor details, I like a certain ratio of eggs, celery, green onions, and pickles to the potatoes. Oh yeah, and the dressing must be a perfect blend of tangy (but not in the MW way), with the right balance of heat and sweetness.

potato salad recipe

That’s ALL I ask for in a potato salad.

And this recipe is all that and waaayyyyyy more. You may just want it for dessert!

potato salad

Potato Salad aka “Candy”

Ingredients

5 lbs russet potatoes

5 hard boiled eggs

2 stalks of celery

1 bunch of green onions

1/2 cup dill pickles

2 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (not-so-secret ingredient!)

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Boil potatoes until fork tender and let cool. Into a large bowl, dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Finely dice the boiled eggs, celery, green onions, and pickles and add to the potatoes.

In a medium size bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over the salad, reserving about 1 cup. If serving immediately, you may not need the additional dressing. I find that the potatoes absorb some of the dressing, so I prefer to add it all at once. Stir well to combine.

Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Don't forget the potato chips!

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My grandma was a wonderful baker and always made the most delicious frosted orange cookies around the holidays. Fortunately, she had written down the recipe and our family has been able to enjoy them even though she is no longer with us.

Lemon Cookies

I had forgotten about them, but at my Aunt and Uncle’s house last Christmas, my son came out of the kitchen with a handful of orange cookies that my aunt had made. He told me that he just couldn’t stop eating them because they were so good. At that point, I knew I had better get the recipe. After all, they are SO good–more like addicting.

Old Fashioned Lemon Cookies

I was going to make these cookies and share the recipe with you, however I didn’t have a single orange in the house. But I did have some lemons! And when life literally hands me lemons, I’m not one to make lemonade. I’m a baker; I bake them into lemon bars, lemon cake and this time, lemon cookies.

These have a light, cakey cookie base freckled with lemon zest and are topped with a slightly tart lemon frosting. What says “Spring” more than that?

Frosted Lemon Cookies

I have a feeling that my grandma would have loved this update on an old classic–I hope you do, too!

Old Fashioned Frosted Lemon Cookies

Old Fashioned Lemon Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup sour milk (made by adding 1 tsp lemon juice and letting sit for 15 minutes)

1 teaspoon soda

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon rind, grated

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or Silpats would work fine).

Add lemon rind, vanilla and baking soda to the sour milk.

In a medium size bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream brown sugar, shortening, and butter. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.

Add the wet and dry ingredients to the beaten mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets and bake for 8 minutes.

While the first pan is in the oven, make the frosting.

Combine the powdered sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Add in the lemon rind and vanilla.

*Note from my grandma, Judith:

"If you spread the icing on the cookies while they are slightly warm, it will spread easier and look a little neater."

Makes 4 dozen.

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goatcheeseappetizer2

The thought of making an appetizer can send me into a panic. I know how to do sweets, but to be honest I don’t have much in my arsenal when it comes to savory finger foods, beyond an attractive vegetable platter.

So I was really excited when I recently came across one of those articles with several ideas for simple appetizers that was all “throw this together with that and you will have something wonderful!”. And it does look pretty fabulous in the picture, especially when Martha has made it. But then we all know how it goes…you are getting ready for your party and rolling what are essentially pickles (nobody cares that they are really cornichons-forget the fact that you can’t even really pronounce it) in cream cheese and salami, and somehow they just don’t seem as elegant as hers.

goatcheeseappetizer5

 

One of the suggestions did stand out, and I knew that I had to try it. A creamy log of goat cheese, crusted in pecans and rosemary, with honey drizzled over the top–then baked. The first party I took it to, I’m not kidding you when I tell you it was devoured. And at the next party as well! I’m just going to keep making it until I’m sick of it, because did I mention that it is incredibly easy to prepare?

Simply toast the pecans in the oven with some olive oil and salt. Chop the toasted pecans and combine with fresh rosemary, and additional salt (I prefer Maldon for this.)

 

toastedpecans

Roll your log of goat cheese in the pecan/herb mixture, pressing down firmly so as much sticks as possible. Put the deliciousness in an oven-safe dish and pour the most fabulous honey you can get your hands on over the top of it! Not to brag, but my husband is a beekeeper so I am incredibly spoiled with delicious, local, raw honey. Throw it in the oven for ten minutes, and while you are at it cut up some bread.

This appetizer satisfies every craving–tangy, savory, crunchy, creamy, sweet!

goatcheeseappetizer4

Toasted Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese with Honey

Ingredients

1 cup pecans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup honey

10 1/2 oz. goat cheese

1 baguette

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread pecans on baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil on top. Sprinkle 1/2 of the salt on top of the nuts. Let them roast for 9-10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees.

Let them cool and do a rough chop. Combine the pecans, rosemary, and remaining salt on a plate.

Roll the cheese in the mixture, pressing firmly to coat. Put into an oven-safe dish and drizzle with the honey. Bake for 10 minutes, until soft.

Serve with sliced baguette or crackers.

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S’mOreo Bars

25 March, 2013

smoreos3a

Marshmallow and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations. In fact, I get nervous right around this time of year because I adore those little Russell Stover chocolate covered marshmallows in whatever-holiday-it-is shapes, and there is a long stretch between Easter and Halloween. Is anyone with me in thinking that they really should consider a Fourth of July line of candy?

While I’m on the subject of chocolate, marshmallow, and Easter, I’m going to let you in on a delicious, yet dirty little secret that has become my very favorite treat throughout the Spring. This may sound slightly grotesque to some, but I take a yellow Peep bunny (specifically), remove the head, and put a Cadbury Mini Egg on each sticky part…then consume the crunchy, chocolaty, marshmallowy delight! I know, it’s gross. But so good!

Alrighty then, now onto a treat you can enjoy no matter what the season. My family instantly fell in love with s’mores bars, and I especially liked them for their soft and chewy crust versus the hard cookie used for traditional s’mores. Needless to say, we’ve fallen in love with s’mores bars over and over and over again!

smoreos1a

However, my husband is quite the chocolate fanatic to the point that he orders his chocolate sundaes with chocolate ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and chocolate whipped cream if they have it. I had come across an idea for “S’mOreos”- replacing the graham cracker with an Oreo-and couldn’t believe that he hadn’t ever thought of that on a campout before. Then a lightbulb went off in my head: I could make them in a pan, just like our beloved S’mores Bars!

The “cookie” part contains both cocoa powder and an entire package of Oreos (minus the mandatory cookies that find their way into your mouth), which makes them extremely rich and decadent.

smoreos5a

 

Follow that up with two jars of Marshmallow Creme. You could get away with one, but not in my household.

smoreos4a

This does cause a lot of “oozing” after the bars are cut, but who cares? Layer three giant Hershey bars on top of that, and more of that delicious cookie dough and you’ve got yourself some S’mOreo Bars!

smoreos2a

S’mOreo Bars

Ingredients

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 teapoon salt

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 package Oreo cookies, crushed in a food processor or by hand

2 jars of Marshmallow Creme

3 XL (4.4 oz) Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9"X13" baking pan with the butter wrappers. (A little tip I learned from my friend, Jennifer!)

Melt butter in the microwave. In a mixer with paddle attachment, combine melted butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Next, add the cocoa powder and salt, followed by the flour.

Finally add the Oreos and stir until just combined.

Spread half of the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Next, spread the Marshmallow Creme on top, followed by the three chocolate bars.

Top with remaining chocolate cookie mixture, smoothing out the top as much as possible.

Bake for 22-25 minutes. As tempting as they are to eat immediately, they really are a big mess to cut into right away. Let them cool at room temperature for at least an hour, and then ENJOY!

Cookie base adapted from a recipe by Cannella Vita

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Minecraft Party!

23 March, 2013

My 7-year-old son has a bad habit of asking for birthday parties that are almost impossible to find supplies for. To be specific, when he was five he had a major obsession with “Ghostbusters” and particularly Peter Venkman (He must have sensed his mom liked Bill Murray). I tried to inform him that the year was not 1984 and Party City didn’t sell Slimer balloons or a “Pin the Beret on the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man” game. My son is always so enthusiastic and “encouraging” and will say things such as “I have a good idea, you could buy some balloons and draw Slimer all over them. And for the cake, I think you could make an Ectomobile! That would be so AWESOME!”

 Minecraft Party Table

I was completely overwhelmed in the heat of the summer that year and purchased a cheesy sheet cake from the local bakery that somewhat represented “Ghostbusters”. So when he asked for a Minecraft party last year I had a sick feeling in my gut that it was going to be a major DIY event.

I searched the internet and of course Pinterest, and even came up with a few ideas of my own. Now that I look back on it, there are some things that I could have done on a much grander scale. Did I mention that his birthday is in middle of the summer in the Pacific Northwest? I’m sure it was 80 degrees that day and the heat had totally gotten to me! He was pleased with the party, although he was quick to inform me of any minor details that I screwed up on. I think it’s a Minecraft thing. All of those neat boxes and lines. I’m more of a willy-nilly curly-cue type.

Creeper Cookies template3

So let’s talk about the Creeper cookies. I had seen similar cookies on Pinterest via Etsy but they looked like they were cut-outs (!!!!), and on top of it they had royal icing (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). This girl doesn’t have the time or patience for either of the above, especially when I then have to draw Creeper faces on said cookies!

I have a sugar cookie bar recipe that I really like and is easy to make. I use parchment paper on the bottom of the cookie sheet so I can just lift these suckers right off the pan. And although it isn’t as smooth and pretty as royal icing, I prefer the flavor of buttercream frosting, specifically my recipe.

Creeper Cookies cut

After frosting them, I cut them with a pizza wheel into 3 inch squares. I used a ruler for this task to help get them somewhat even. (I’m sure not even enough if you ask someone in my household.) Next, I made a simple ganache for the Creeper faces and used the template provided here. Thanks, Matt!

Creeper Cookies complete

 

Which brings me to my next “project” for a Minecraft party, Creeper cups.

 creeper cup3

 

Simply take the template provided, some green cups, and a nice black Sharpie and trace!

creepercup 

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, if I can sweat these out during a Washington State summer, you can do it wherever you are.

Who wants to guess what next year’s theme is going to be for my boy? I haven’t a clue, but whatever it is, I will have the best time agonizing over what to do!

Creeper Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

Sugar Cookie Bars slightly adapted (from A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock and Roll)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the vanilla to the creamed mixture and then slowly add the dry ingredients.

Press down into a 13 x 18 inch pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 375F for 10-15 minutes.

Cool and frost.

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Sugar Coated Buttercream Frosting (Half Recipe)

Ingredients

1/2 lb butter (1 cup), softened

1 lb powdered sugar (C&H recommended)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions

Place butter in the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat gently until creamy.

Add one third of the powdered sugar and one third of the heavy cream. Mix on low until combined and increase speed to high. Whip for 3 minutes.

Adding in thirds, repeat with the remaining powdered sugar and heavy cream.

Add 1/2 tablespoon vanilla to suit your taste.

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Ganache for Creeper Faces

Ingredients

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

black food coloring

Instructions

Melt chocolate chips and heavy cream in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Most of the chocolate should be melted, but if not, put back in the microwave in 10 second increments until fully melted. Add black food coloring. Wait for ganache to cool either at room temperature or you can speed it up by placing in the refrigerator. I used a Wilton #2 tip to pipe the faces, but you could just as easily snip the end of a bag!

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