Saturday, January 28, 2012

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

One of my favorite cookies to make is the classic chewy peanut butter cookie with a hershey’s kiss on top. You know what I'm talking’s on the back of the hershey’s kiss bag.
The combination of peanut butter and chocolate is the BEST. 
These are soft peanut butter cookies with smooth semisweet chocolate filling smushed in-between them. It’s such a simple combo, but the flavor is out of this world. And as if these couldn’t get any better…they are so easy to make! The only thing that would have made them even better is Nutella! Next time I'm making a nutella chocolate filling...oh yeah!
I made these yesterday when our friends Melanie and Pat flew into Atlanta for a layover...they were the perfect little treat after a day of traveling! I made sure to pack some up for them as they flew out to Breckenridge today. :)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Recipe adapted from Bake Your Day

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 cup quick cooking oats

For the Chocolate Filling:
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy and well-blended. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in a couple of batches and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the oatmeal and drop by rounded teaspoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently flatten each cookie with a spatula to form 1/4 inch thick cookies and bake 9-10 minutes, or until cookies are a lightly browned. After baking making a slight criss cross shape using a fork. Cool on a wire rack and cool completely before filling.
For the Chocolate Filling:
Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave or in a medium heatproof bowl set in a skillet with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool and slightly thickened, 20 to 30 minutes.
How to Assemble the Sandwiches: 
Turn half of the cooled cookies over so they are flat side up. Spoon 1 tsp. of the chocolate filling onto the center of each cookie. Top with the remaining cookies, flat side down. Press gently on each cookie to spread the filling almost to the edge. Set on the rack until the filling is firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Cake for breakfast?? Don't mind if I do! This blueberry coffee cake is lightly sweetened and  full of blueberries. It's partially made with whole wheat flour to give it a healthy spin. There's only 2 tablespoons of butter and the moisture comes from yogurt instead of sour good for you! So I guess I shouldn't feel that bad eating it first thing in the morning!
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Recipe adapted from Food Network
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla and yogurt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, in 2 batches, stirring until just combined. (do not overmix or your coffee cake will be tough)
In a separate small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.
Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture over the batter and top with the blueberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the cake, pressing gently. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly and cut the cake into 2-inch squares.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

If you don't subscribe to the Food Network Magazine, you should! This is the cover recipe for January and boy am I glad I made it. We've recently started our "wedding diet" to get in shape for the big day so I'm trying to find healthier, low-cal recipes for dinner.
I definitely found what I was looking for. This chili is very hearty and filling. The best part is that it's packed with veggies! I did make a few changes to the original: added corn and jalapenos, used black beans instead of pinto, and left out the carrots...all in all it turned out sooo good! Evan loved it and didn't even realize he was missing the meat. When he went back for thirds I knew this recipe was a keeper!

*This recipe makes A LOT of chili...we had plenty left over for lunch and dinner the next day.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large bell peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp chili powder
1tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp pickled jalapenos, diced
1/2 head cauliflower
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese & low fat sour cream for topping

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, and 1/2 tsp salt; cook stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. 
2. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, tomato paste, and tortillas and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste is brick red, about 4 minutes (add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick).
3. Add the coffee and simmer until almost completely reduced, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans, corn, jalapenos, and 2 1/2 cups water, bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens slightly, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. 
4. Meanwhile, rim the large stems off the cauliflower and coarsely grate the florets on a box grater. About 10 minutes before the chili is done cooking, stir in the grated cauliflower. Cook 10 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add some water if the chili is too thick. 
5. Ladle into bowls and add toppings. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Valentine's day is right around the corner, and these sandwich cookies are the perfect little treat. They're also really, really good! 
This cake mix recipe is so easy and the texture of the cookies are perfect. This is the same recipe I use in my Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies. They're a little bit chewy and just the right thickness. The icing recipe is from the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. They have some other really good recipes, so be sure to check it out!
You could probably recreate this cookie with just about any flavor of cake mix, but the red velvet version is definitely my favorite!
Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

1 box red velvet cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour


4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  To make cookies, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil and flour.  Scoop onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until tops look cracked.  Cool completely.  Meanwhile, make the filling by beating the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer.  Mix in coconut and vanilla, then beat in powdered sugar until smooth.  Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in the center of a cookie.  Top with a second cookie and press together until the filling reaches the edges of the cookies.  Makes about 15 sandwiches.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

There are a few recipes that when I see I absolutely have to make. This doesn't usually happen very often. I usually just bookmark or pin the recipe and move on to something else that grabs my attention. But the second I saw the words "Cinnamon Roll Pancakes," I was hooked. After staring at the picture, rereading the recipe about 5 times, and wiping the drool off my face, I realized I had all of the ingredients and made them last Sunday morning. Evan is not a big pancake fan. He's actually not a big fan of breakfast at all; just give him a big bowl of soggy cereal and he's a happy boy.  HOWEVER - after he ate these yummy pancakes, he couldn't deny how amazingly delicious they were! 
These sinful pancakes start with a classic pancake recipe and swirl in a cinnamon, brown sugar, butter mixture. When you flip the pancake, it starts to caramelize and get crispy. Drizzle some warm maple cream cheese glaze and you are in some serious trouble. This is almost too good for it to be considered breakfast. I think the reason I loved them so much is because I felt like I was eating dessert for breakfast! :)
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes 
Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl
PANCAKES: (makes about 4/5 pancakes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

CINNAMON FILLING: *makes enough for more than 4 pancakes
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T. good maple syrup

1. Prepare pancake batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in milk, oil and egg, just until batter is moistened.
2. In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour filling into a small zip lock bag with the tip cut off. Set aside and let it thicken a bit.
3. Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and maple syrup in a bowl until smooth, dripping in small amounts of milk until mixture is a drizzling consistency. 
4. Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick spray. Scoop about 3/4 cup batter onto the skillet. When pancake has started to cook a little, swirl in the cinnamon filling. When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
5. When ready to serve, spoon glaze onto the top of each pancake.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crockpot French Onion Soup

I never order French Onion Soup...ever. But, for some reason I did on New Year's Eve. We went to dinner at Chops in Asheville, NC and it was probably the best soup I've had in awhile. Ever since I have been obsessed with making it. I found this recipe at Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body. I always have a ton of onions on hand since we add them to practically everything. I can’t believe how easy it was; just throw everything in the crockpot and you're done. 8 hours later...a rich and delicious soup with an ooey, gooey, and cheesy topping is waiting for you! The best way to eat this soup is with a tomato and mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich...oh yum!

Crockpot French Onion Soup

4 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons flour
8 ounces of beer
64 ounces of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
french bread
mozzarella cheese, sliced

Set your crock pot on high, then add onions, garlic, butter, salt and balsamic and mix until combined. Cover and let cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are a bit caramelized and brown on the edges. Add in flour, then stir thoroughly and let sit for 5 minutes. Add in beer, stock, thyme, and pepper, then turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 6-8 hours.
Before serving, cut french bread or baguette into slices. Fill soup bowls to the top, then cover with slice of bread and a slice of cheese. Set under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Be careful when serving the bowls will be hot!

Mozzarella and Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Evan and I have made this sandwich a million times. It is our absolute favorite; we could probably eat it everyday. It is cheesy, rich, crispy, and amaaaazing! 
This is the absolute perfect sandwich to pair with a big bowl of soup.

1 whole wheat baguette
4 quarter-inch slices of fresh mozzarella

2 tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 cup fresh pesto, recipe follows (or store bought)

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1. Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still rough-textured.
2. Assemble sandwich by spreading insides of bread slices with pesto. Arrange a layer of sliced tomato and season salt and pepper. Layer the mozzarella slices over the top and then place another piece of bread on top to make the sandwich. 
3. Use a panini press and toast until the cheese begins to melt.  
*Store unused pesto in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Black Bean and Spinach Quesadilla

So as the new year begins, I'm sure everyone is thinking about their new year's resolutions...and eating better and exercising are usually at the top of the list. I don't really believe in resolutions, but I figure as long as I am exercising I can eat as many cookies and brownies as I want, right??
After a month of eating delicious, buttery casseroles and yummy sweets, I am ready for a serious detox from fatty foods! Now, don't get me wrong, my sweet tooth won't stay quiet for long, but for now I'm opting for less sugar and more veggies!
 We have a bit of a sick obsession with Mexican food. Evan and I could eat quesadillas and tacos for dinner every night. Unfortunately, the average quesadilla is filled with cheese and  isn't that healthy. This recipe is extremely filling and full of fiber and protein. 
(*Please excuse the photos...I had to use my cell phone!)

6-8 flour tortillas
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp taco seasoning

In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and taco seasoning; simmer for 2 minutes, or until onion begins to soften. Add beans and simmer 2 more minutes. Then add spinach, reduce heat, and cover to steam until wilted (about 3-5 minutes). Uncover and simmer until all liquid is evaporated.

In a separate small fry pan, place 1 tortilla in skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Top with 1/4 bean/spinach mixture and second tortilla. Cook 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Slice into wedges; serve with salsa and low-fat sour cream. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Celebration!

the whole gang on New Year's Day
New Year's Eve Dinner @ Chops

Happy New Year!

Devil's Food Cake Pops
  • 1 box devil's food cake mix (cook as directed on the box)
  • 1 cup peanut butter frosting (recipe below)
  • 1 package vanilla almond bark or candy melts
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
  • lollipop sticks and wrappers (you can find these at Michael's)
  • Rectangular foam block 
Peanut Butter Frosting
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2-1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp milk 
1. Bake the cake according to the directions on the box or your recipe. Be sure to let the cake cook completely. While the cake is in the oven begin on the peanut butter frosting. 
2. In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a little at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract, butter, and milk until it is a smooth and creamy consistency.
3. Once the cake is completely cool, crumble the cake
4. Stir in the frosting to create a smooth cake mixture. It should look like a huge cake ball.
5. Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. You should get about 25-30 cake balls. Place them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
6. Melt the chocolate candy melts in the microwave according to package directions. Add a little shortening at a time until the chocolate is really smooth and silky.
7. Dip stick into melted chocolate and press into cake ball. Return to fridge for 5 minutes. Dip cake balls into chocolate and gently tap to remove any extra.
8. Add some sprinkles or other decorations while chocolate is still soft. Put them back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to harden. Use the foam to stick the pops into while they are setting.

Bourban Pecan Pie Brownies

This recipe had me at bourbon. 
I made these for our New Year's Eve shin-dig in Asheville last weekend, along with some red velvet cookies and cake pops, and they were aaaamaaazing.  Granted, mine turned out extremely fudgy and did not hold their shape at all...but they were still quite tasty. I prefer food to be appealing to the eye, because face it, we eat with our eyes first. These, however, did not look so appealing...but my mouth was still watering for more! 
Here is where I went wrong: The recipe calls for the brownies to bake for 30-35 minutes. I would recommend baking them for close to 45 minutes. Make sure they are set in the center before taking them out. Also, make sure you line your pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper - it will make your life much easier when you cut them. 
Now back to the brownies...
These brownies have a very fudgy, rich base, and a sweet, gooey, crunchy top. Oh, and don’t forget about the bourbon. I'm pretty sure that is what makes these brownies out of this world! And if you’re like me, and don’t have a bottle of bourbon lying around, use whiskey instead! I used Jack Daniels since that's what Evan usually drinks and it was perfect!

Bourbon Pecan Pie Brownies
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

For the brownies:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a small bowl, beat together eggs and vanilla, then set aside. In a double boiler set over boiling water, combine butter, cocoa, sugar and salt. Mix as the butter melts until everything is combined. Remove from heat and whisk in egg and vanilla mixture.
Add flour and stir until combined. Pour into baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the pecan pie layer:
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp bourbon (I only had Jack Daniels so I used that instead)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
Beat together corn syrup and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla and cinnamon, and beat. Add butter and bourbon and beat again until thoroughly combined. Stir in pecans and pour the mixture over the brownie layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Toffee Cookies

I made these a few days ago after I had some left over cookie dough from my cheesecake bars. I wanted to try something different from the same old chocolate chip cookie. Now, don't get me wrong, I do love a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie, but this time I was just in the mood for  change. I had some pecans and toffee on hand, so this turned out to be the perfect recipe!

Chocolate Pecan Toffee Cookies
Recipe adapted from Cooking Channel

2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks of soft unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup toffee candy bits (I used Heath Toffee Bits)
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips, but I'm sure dark chocolate chips would taste great too)

  • Set the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Use your hands to mix all of the ingredients until you see your cookie dough form.
  • Drop heaping tablespoon scoops of dough about 3 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake until the edges are golden and centers are still soft, about 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets about 2 minutes and then carefully transfer to wire racks to cool.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

I made these last week for a little girls get together and they are seriously good. I know I say that about pretty much everything on here, but really...these are super yummy. Forget all the other things I've posted and suggested that you make, and get on these immediately!
A buttery graham cracker crust with a layer of creamy cheesecake and the chocolate-y goodness of chocolate chip cookie dough is the perfect combination
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
Recipe adapted from The Sweets Life
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Cheesecake Filling:
10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper or foil allowing a little overhang and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Leave your oven on while you prepare the dough.
3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Using your hand to form clumps, distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter in teaspoon-sized clumps. Be sure to use all of the dough.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top feels dry and firm (the cookie dough) and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator overnight or for at least a couple hours.
6. Lift the bars out by the overhang and cut into squares for serving.

MexiCorn Dip

We had a little pre New Year's Eve party with some of my closest girlfriends last week and it was so fun. We had great food with even better company!

Here are the 2 things that I contributed: this super easy delicious mexicorn dip and cookie dough cheesecake bars
MexiCorn Dip
  • 2 cans MexiCorn, drained
  • 1 can green chiles, chopped
  • 1 whole bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 whole jalapenos, chopped and seeded
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 cup reduced fat mayonnaise 
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.