Monday, June 29, 2015

Homemade Crunch Candy Bar:

I was recently asked what my favorite candy bar is, and I honestly had no clue! I had really never thought about it before! I tend to like a wide variety of things, including candy bars!
As I was thinking about it, I realized that it would probably be next to impossible to actually pick a favorite, but there are a few that I really, really like.
Crunch Bars would definitely be one of them! I love the simple factor of them...just creamy chocolate and crunchy rice crispy's.
So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try! The fact that the ingredient list was 2 ingredients long, made me both excited and nervous!
However, they turned out SO good!!
Extremely easy to make, and so delicious!!

But I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I have a cooking dilema. I can't melt chocolate in the microwave. I burn it every.single.time no matter what I do.
However, I seem to have success whenever I melt it over the stove.
So I have included both microwave AND stove-top instructions, just in case, by some chance, there is someone else out there who struggles with melting chocolate as well!!
Either way, though, I hope you give this recipe a try!

2 (12 oz) packages chocolate chips
1 & 1/2 cups rice crispy cereal

Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside.

Microwave directions:
Place chocolate in a microwave safe dish. Microwave for 1 minute; stir.
Continue cooking and stirring in 30 second intervals, until chocolate is melted.
Add cereal and stir until well combined.

Stove-top directions:
Place chocolate in a medium saucepan. Cook and stir constantly over medium-low heat (I set my stove on 3) until chocolate is almost melted.
When there are still some small chunks of chocolate left, remove from the heat, and continue to stir until completely melted.
Add cereal and stir until well combined.

Pour into a prepared pan and spread out evenly. Chill for at least 30 minutes or until set. Remove from the pan and take off the foil. Cut or brake in pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

-You can use milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate...whatever you like!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

The BEST Rice Crispy Treats:

I know. 
A recipe for rice crispy treats? Really? 
You can find that on just about every bag of marshmallows and every box of rice crispy cereal out there. 
That's what I thought too. 
Until I got tired of wishing I was eating a store-bought Kellogg's rice crispy treat, rather than the dry, hard homemade ones.
So I went searching.
And I'm SO excited to share what I found!!
There is really nothing super special about this recipe, and it's just as easy to make as any other rice crispy treat recipe. It's just that it tastes WAY better!!
These are so fluffy and soft and chewy and mouth is watering just thinking about them!
I won't be making rice crispy treats any other way from now on!
Hope you give them a try!!

10 cups rice crispy cereal
2 (10oz.) packages mini marshmallows
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Measure exactly 10 cups of cereal into a large bowl; set aside.
Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil. Lightly coat with cooking spray and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium- low and add marshmallows, vanilla and salt. Stir continually until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.
Pour marshmallow mixture over the cereal. Stir quickly, but make sure that all the cereal is well coated.
Pour into prepared pan and press down with a spatula. Then use the bottom of a glass or something sturdy and flat, and press down all over the mixture to make it as even as possible.
Let rest at room temperature until cool and set. Remove from the pan and discard the foil. Cut into squares and serve or store in an airtight container.

-The heat at which the better and marshmallows are melted is very important. If it's too hot, the better will almost scorch the marshmallows and they will melt too fast. This results are not a smooth and creamy consistency like you want.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Cake-Mix Banana Muffins:

When I first saw a recipe similar to this, I couldn't see how it would ever possibly work.
Plus, I mean, dry cake mix, mixed with bananas? Even if it did work, it wouldn't taste all that great.
However, my mom was going on a business trip, and wanted muffins to take with her. I didn't have much time at all, but oddly, we had a cake mix and several bananas that either had to be used or thrown out, so I gave in and tried them out.
All I can say is, I'm glad I did! They had a completely unexpected consistency and taste.
And they were just really good! I don't even know how to describe them, but I hope you'll try them out! 

4 medium size ripe bananas
1 yellow or white gluten-free cake mix
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips, mini or regular, optional

Place bananas in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add cake mix and cinnamon and pulse until well combined (you may need to scrape down the sides and across the bottom with a spatula, depending on how well your food processor mixes things.) Stir in chocolate chips, if desired, by hand.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full - I use a cookie scoop for the mini-size and an ice cream scoop for the regular-size muffin cups.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden brown and toothpick inserted in the centers out clean.
Remove from the pans, and cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

-As you can tell, I didn't use chocolate chips, but I'm sure they would taste great!
-I've read of some people using a chocolate cake mix instead! Just omit the cinnamon.
-After these cool, the tops are pretty sticky, so I would recommend layering them with wax paper, if you have to stack them in a container.
-This recipe can of course be made with a regular, wheat cake mix as well.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Double-Chocolate Cookies:

I'm not a chocoholic like some people, but I do usually enjoy it, and I really like dark chocolate.
Every now and then, I get a craving for a nice piece of something "chocolaty."
I'm not talking about wanting to eat a whole cake by myself or something like that. 
Just a bite or two will do!
When I saw the recipe for these cookies, I wanted to try it, but honestly, I was concerned that they might be a little over-the-top in the chocolate department. I know some people think that's not even a possibility, but for me, it could be!
However, they turned out really good! They have a little fudge-like consistency, are pretty thin, and are great as is or with a filling or something.
Whether you're a chocoholic lover, or just enjoy some chocolate here and there, I hope you'll give these a try!

1 pound of chocolate chips, see note
2 cups flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. strong brewed coffee, see note
2 tsp. vanilla

In a microwave safe dish, melt the chocolate by heating at 30 second intervels and stirring well in between each one; set aside.
Combine flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended.
In a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and coffee; mix well.
Pour the chocolate into the mixing bowl and mix well.
Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Cover and let stand for 35 minutes to let the chocolate harden.
Using a cookie scoop, drop onto greased cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. They probably won't look done, but take them out anyways.
Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 
Fill with your favorite icing, filling, peanut butter, etc., if you want or leave them plain.
Store in an airtight container.

-The chocolate chips can be semi-sweet or milk chocolate
-One pound is roughly between 2 & 1/4 - 2 & 1/2 cups. I have a small kitchen scale, so I measured them by weight, which is what I would recommend.
-You could also use 2 tsp. of instant coffee granules, if you prefer. Otherwise, you will want to brew some coffee, because regular coffee granules will not dissolve, and that will taste disgusting!
-I filled mine with THIS Oreo cookie filling.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

My Grandma's Sloppy Joe's:

So, I really like Sloppy Joe's. A lot. I always have. It used to be something we had a lot during the Fall (I'm sure we had them other times, too, it's just that time of year stands out to me!). Dad liked to go hunting, and where I live, that means it was cold! So mom would generally make Sloppy Joe's and have them in the crock-pot, ready for whenever Dad would pop in for something to eat. And as a side note, that was before we had cell phones, so it's not like he could call and say he was on his way. I just thought that was kind of an odd, funny, weird, random thing that I wanted to point out.
Anyways, I've been making this recipe for Sloppy Joe's for years now, but as it turns out, it's been the wrong recipe!! Not the one my mom used to make!
So I dug up the old recipe and decided to try it out!
They turned out fantastic, actually, and pretty much my entire family loved them way more than what I've been making! I still like the old version too, but this one definitely brings back more memories!!
I hope you try them out and enjoy them as much as we do!

3 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tblsp. sugar
1 tblsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bottle Heinz Chili sauce

Brown beef in a large skillet until no longer pink; drain. Meanwhile, place celery and onion in a microwave safe dish and cover with water. Microwave on high until the water begins to boil - allow to boil for 30 seconds; drain. Add celery and onion mixture to ground beef and stir until well combined. In a small dish, whisk together tomato sauce, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to beef mixture. Pour the chili sauce into the meat mixture. Fill the bottle 1/2 full of water and shake well; add to meat mixture. Cook and stir over low heat. Cover and simmer until ready to serve.

-How fine you chop your celery and onion is up to you, but please don't leave it out! It adds SO much flavor!
-Prepare this ahead of time and place it in the crockpot on warm or low until ready to serve!
-This freezes really, really well.
-We love this served on a slice of THIS BREAD.
-Some of us also like to add a slice of cheese, but that's purely optional!
-This amount would serve my family for two meals, so I like to make it once, and freeze half for another day.

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Butterscotch Blondies:

We used to make these ALL the time. I think we had them so much that we didn't want to make them anymore and so we kind of forgot about them.
I needed a dessert to take to a friends house the other week, and it seemed like we were out of everything, of course!! I had no chocolate chips, no cocoa powder...and of course I could only think of desserts that took one or both of those ingredients. One of my sisters suggested blondies, and for some unknown reason, we were overflowing with butterscotch chips, so I decided to give it a try.
It had been SO long since I made them, that I had forgotten how good they were!
And how fast they come together!
I'll try not to make them too often, but we will definitely be adding these back on our dessert list!!
I hope you try them out!

2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
2 & 1/2 cup flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups butterscotch chips
Vanilla Ice Cream
Butterscotch or Caramel Ice Cream Topping

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar, butter and vanilla.
Add flour, xanthan gum and salt. Mix until well combined.
Stir in butterscotch chips.
Pour into a greased jelly-roll pan and spread out evenly (I like to use an offset spatula like for cake decorating for this).
Bake at 350 degrees for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. You don't want to over-bake these, or they will be hard.
Let stand for 20-30 minutes before serving, or cool completely until ready to serve.
Top with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch or caramel syrup.

-You could bake them in like a 9x13 pan or something, but I find that makes them pretty thick, and then it takes a long time to get the middle done, while the edges are already burning.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal:

I love our Baked Oatmeal (it's been on the blog for a while now) that we normally make. I had been seeing lots of different kinds of baked oatmeal recipes floating around, and some of them look amazing!
Be forewarned, you will mostly likely be seeing several more recipes for Baked Oatmeal coming soon!
Anyways, this one was my brother's first choice, so I through it all together one night and baked it the next morning.
Oh my! It is SO good!! I think I could have eaten the whole pan!
It's unbelievably creamy, and the perfect amount of sweet!
I will definitely be making this A LOT and I hope you try it out as well!!

3 cups quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 & 3/4 cup milk
3 tblsp. butter, melted
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup powder sugar
1 tblsp. milk
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except glaze, until well combined.
Pour into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish, and spread out evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let rest while you mix up the glaze.
Put all of the glaze ingredients in a small cup and mix until smooth.
Drizzle over oatmeal and serve!

-I like to mix this up the night before, cover and refrigerate.
Then bake the next morning. Just let it sit on the counter while the oven pre-heats.

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Note to self:
-Top oven @ 335 degrees for 25 minutes.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Pioneer Woman's Twice-Baked Potatoes:

I've recently came to a weird conclusion. A lot of people say that coming up with a side dish, is no's the main dish that's so hard to decide on or come up with.
It's the opposite for me. I can decide on a main dish pretty easily...but a side?
I have to rack my brain forever to try to figure something out!

I wanted something simple yet different to take to a potluck dinner a while ago. 
I LOVE twice baked potatoes, and I LOVE the Pioneer Woman!! I thought this recipe would be good for feeding a crowd, so I decided to give it a try! They do take time, but they're really easy and SO good!
I made my own variations of Ree's recipe, but as she says, this is only for a general guide line. Add more or less of whatever you like!
I hope you try it out!!!!

8-10 baking potatoes
1 cup sour cream
1 cup bacon bits
2 sticks butter, diced
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
2 tsp. parsley
2+ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Thoroughly wash and dry potatoes. Prick potatoes with a sharp knife. Place directly on oven racks.
Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove and allow to set until cool enough to handle.
Gently cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato from the skin with a spoon - leaving a 1/4 inch shell; set aside.
Place the potato "pulp" in a large bowl. Add sour cream, bacon bits, butter, seasoning salt, parsley and 1 cup cheddar cheese. You can use a potato masher, but I like a hand mixer. Mix until well combined.
Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, scoop the potato mixture into the shells and place in a baking dish.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

-I generally use 10 - 12 small potatoes
-I like to make them up to the point of baking them the second time, and then keeping them in the fridge.
Later in the day, or even the next day, I bake them for about 30 minutes. 
-Mine definitely don't look as good as Ree's and I'm sure they weren't, but they still did taste AMAZING!!

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Orange Energizer Smoothie:

I love smoothies, but I'm also a little picky about them. I normally prefer smoothies that have veggies in them, and only one or two fruits. Otherwise, they taste SO sweet to me, that I can hardly drink them.
Enter: The Orange Energizer Smoothie!!!!
When I found this recipe, they were talking about how it's a great energizer and stress buster. I had everything for it, so I through it together real quick.
I was actually REALLY surprised how good it was! Everything was in perfect balance - not too sweet, but sweet enough...perfectly's just good!!
Smoothies are SO perfect for the hot days of summer that are coming up.
Hopefully none of my summer-loving family is reading this, but, I personally dread the heat of summer, and love the negative degrees of winter. Sorry! But I love this smoothie so much, that I am actually looking forward to enjoying it on a nice, hot day!
I love to drink a smoothie before and/or after I workout too, and this is probably by far my favorite to drink before a good run or any kind of workout.
I've had one about every day this week, I think!! Hope you give it a try!

2 bananas, cut into 1-inch pieces and frozen
1 orange, peeled and cut into chunks
1 carrot (or 6-8 baby carrots) cut into chunks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk

Place all ingredients in order listed in a Blender or NutriBullet.
Blend until smooth. Makes 2 large servings!

-PLEASE use frozen seriously makes this smoothie!!!

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Glossy Chocolate Icing:

I love a good frosting recipe just as much as the next person, but I'm also one who enjoys a good glaze every now and then too.
This is the perfect recipe if you can't decide between frosting or glaze!!
It's thicker than a glaze, but not at all fluffy like a frosting. It's super easy and really fast!
I love it on brownies, but it's also good on a cake as well!
I hope you try it out!

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1-1/2 tblsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
2 tsp. butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa and cornstarch. Add water and stir until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla until smooth. Spread over cooled cake or brownies while the frosting is still warm. Refrigerate until cool and set. 

-I added some sprinkles to the brownies after I spread the icing on...this is of course optional, but I just love sprinkles!!!!