Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fudgy Brownies with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

Who doesn't love a soft and chewy brownie?  Who doesn't love Nutella? Who doesn't love cream cheese? This is probably the best combination of ingredients for the yummiest brownie. 
It is the perfect little snack to fulfill any chocolate craving. The only problem is, I can't eat just one!
If you are an ooey, gooey, chocolate brownie lover and have never tried a Nutella brownie before you need to try this one. These are so simple to make, and simply delicious! 
Fudgy Nutella Brownies with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
1 boxed brownie mix (I used Chocolate Fudge)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup Nutella
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Cool Whip

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 in pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray, then line with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix, eggs, oil, water, and Nutella. Stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed. Spread into the prepared pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out nearly clean. Cool the brownies completely before frosting.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, mix together Nutella and cream cheese until blended. Gently fold in the cool whip.  Spread over the cooled brownies; refrigerate 2 hours before cutting.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Baked Ziti

This is the perfect week night meal. Baked ziti is one of our favorites and we finally made it the other night. It's quick and easy to put together. We like to throw in some spinach, but you could really add anything you like. This recipe makes enough for about six people, so we definitely had left overs for lunch and dinner the next day. 

Baked Ziti
1 lb ziti
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
salt and fresh pepper to taste
8 oz fat-free ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan
2 cups (8 oz) mozzarella, shredded
Cooking spray 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with oil spray.

In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to instructions until al dente.Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add olive oil and sauté garlic. Add chopped spinach, salt pepper and chopped tomatoes. Season with basil, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper.

Add sauce to the pasta and combine the ziti. Add half of the mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and ricotta. Mix well then transfer to the baking pan.

Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Top with the remaining mozzarella.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

The other night we went to Bocado in Midtown to celebrate my good friend Jenna's birthday. We had a delicious dinner and enjoyed catching up. I'm usually not one to go out to dinner without getting dessert (you know me, I prefer dessert first!); however, we decided not to that night. Boy did I regret that decision!! As we were leaving I happened to walk by the most amazingly delicious looking chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting. My mouth was literally drooling as we walked out! Since then, I have been bound and determined to make it, and today, I did. 
Now, trust me, this cake is not nearly as pretty and perfect as the cake at Bocado...but it sure is yummy! The chocolate cake is super moist and the frosting is to die for! I can't wait to use this salted caramel frosting in another dessert...I'm thinking over brownies with pecans and toffee?! The entire process is a bit labor intensive, but totally worth the effort! 
Chocolate Cake
1 box devil's food cake mix
1 1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your cake pans. 
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together cake mix and cocoa powder. With the mixer on low speed, alternate dry ingredients and coffee until everything is incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and make sure everything is combined and there are no lumps. Divide your batter between your cake pans. I made three 8 inch layers about 1/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Salted Caramel
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Combine the sugar, water, and the corn syrup in a large saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.2. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
3. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
4. Do not stir from this point on, but instead swirl the liquid around the pan so that the caramel doesn’t burn.
5. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
6. **Be very careful! Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. The mixture will bubble up significantly and is very hot.
7. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter and salt. Stir until combined.
8. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool until thick and warm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Save any extra in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Salted Caramel Frosting
1 stick butter at room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup salted caramel (recipe above)

1. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine.
3. Add 1 cup of the salted caramel and beat to combine.
4. Add additional powdered sugar until the frosting is your desired sweetness and consistency.

ENJOY!!! :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

I decided to make some cookies. Healthy cookies?? Maybe so, they have fruit, oats, and Greek yogurt! Yum. If you forget about the cake mix, they really aren't that bad! I love a good shortcut when it comes to baking...and cake mix is the perfect way to go for these cookies.  
They get their apple and cinnamon flavor from the Greek yogurt, who would have guessed! With the combo of cake mix and oats they are thick, chewy, and super soft. I love a good cookie, and trust me, these are GOOD! :)

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies 
Recipe adapted from Little Bitty Bakes
1 boxed spice cake mix (dry mix only — do not prepare the mix)
1 cup quick oats
1 large egg
1 6-ounce container Apple Cinnamon Chobani Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon canola oil

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir the cake mix and oats to combine. Add the egg, yogurt and oil; stir until mixed well. Drop the cookie dough by rounded tablespoon onto the prepared cookie sheets. 
  • Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool 2-3 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nutella Marshmallow Turnovers

Oh, Nutella. How do I even begin to explain my love for this stuff? I always have it on hand because it’s probably the best thing anyone has ever put in a jar. Nutella on graham crackers, baked into treats, drizzled over ice cream, or my personal favorite: straight out of the jar, directly from spoon to mouth.
There’s something about this hazelnut chocolate spread, I just can’t seem to get enough of it! I spent the majority of this week "pinning" recipe after recipe...when I remembered this recipe a friend of mine from work had sent me. He sent it to me back in December and I had completely forgotten about it until now! The original recipe was for Nutella Marshmallow Pillow Pockets from Picky Palate. I only had to make a few changes to use the ingredients I already had on hand. I used ready made pie dough because it’s so convenient and the end result was flaky, warm, sweet chocolate, and hazelnutty heaven.
 Spread a teaspoon of Nutella onto the center of each pastry leaving a 1/8 inch border around edges. 
Top with mini marshmallows and fold over to form a little triangle. 
Crimp edges firmly with a fork. (Make sure it's sealed!)
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. 
Uh oh...YUM!

Nutella Marshmallow Turnovers
1 package ready made pie dough, (I used one of the 8 inch rounds)
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
Egg white wash: 1 egg white whisked with 1 tablespoon water

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pied dough into a rectangle and cut out 8 even squares. 
  • Spread a teaspoon of Nutella onto the center of each pastry leaving an 1/8 inch border around edges. 
  • Top with about 2-4 mini marshmallows and fold over to form a little triangle. Crimp edges firmly with a fork. 
  • Brush with egg white wash then sprinkle with granulated sugar. 
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until pastry just turns golden. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spiced Up Hummus

Hummus has always been one of my favorite snacks. I usually just buy it from the grocery store or farmers market, but recently I realized how easy it is to make at home! Use a food processor and canned beans, and you'll have homemade hummus in a matter of minutes.
This version has a little kick to it with the chili powder, but you could definitely leave it out. There are so many variations to hummus, you can pretty much add whatever you like...herbs, pesto, extra garlic, Indian spices, sirarcha, black beans...the possibilities are endless! Serve it up with some pita chips or veggies.
Spiced Up Hummus
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
2 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained (reserve a little of the juice)
1/4 cup tahini sesame paste
2-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Coarse salt
1 lemon, juiced

Now here's the hard part...

Put everything into the food processor and blend until smooth. (Add a little more/less of the reserved juice until you reach the desired consistency.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

These muffins are as delicious as they look. I saw them a couple times posted on Pinterest and Foodgawker and couldn't resist any longer after I saw them on The Best Think I Ever Ate. I just love anything with cinnamon!
I really like this recipe from Baked Perfection because you can claim that it's "healthier" than the average muffin. I used half whole wheat flour and used fat free yogurt. I also doubled the amount of cinnamon and added some nutmeg. They are absolutely amazing while they're still warm from the oven!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup fat free yogurt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix with light strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not over mix; batter will not be smooth.
  3. Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in one or two of the muffins come out clean, 12-15 minutes.
  4. While the muffins are baking, melt 1/2 stick butter and place in a bowl just large enough to hold a muffin. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl. As soon as the muffing are done, brush them one at a time in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar mixture. Set on parchment paper to cool.
Makes 12 muffins

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lemon Cookies with White Chocolate

I was searching the Internet the other day for something SWEET to make and I fell upon this recipe and thought I would give it a try. These are perfect to make during the spring and summer months. The cookies are soft and buttery with a hint of lemon. The flavor isn't overwhelming, it's just right and refreshing. I really like the chewy and soft center with the crunchy, crackled top. The combination of lemon and white chocolate is pretty wonderful too! :)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 oz white chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, add granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers, until fragrant.
4. Beat butter and sugar/lemon mixture together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
5. Slowly beat in flour mixture on low speed until blended. Drop dough by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Gently flatten dough with the palm of your hand.
6. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are just set and slightly golden brown. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to cooking racks. Cool completely.
7. In a medium bowl, melt white chocolate in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Pour melted chocolate in a zip lock bag with the end cut off. Drizzle over cookies and let sit until chocolate has set.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oven Baked Samosas

A samosa is the quintessential Indian appetizer. No matter what Indian restaurant we go to, we always order them. They are deep fried triangular pastries, stuffed with a savory concoction of potatoes and vegetables and served with a sweet and tangy sauce. When we decided to make them last weekend I was not looking forward to deep frying anything. I came across Rachael Ray's recipe for baked samosas and let out a sigh of relief! A healthier and lighter samosa? Could it be?
These are so good. And when I say good, I mean REAL good...Evan and I ate all of them in one sitting. The pie dough was the perfect crust and the filling was nice and spicy. If you are a fan of Indian food, or even if you've never had it in your must make these!

Oven Baked Samosas
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
1 large potato (about 1/2 a pound, use 2 if needed), peeled and diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger (about a half-inch piece), grated
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup vegetable stock, a little more or a little less to loosen filling
1 package (2 9-inch rounds) store-bought, raw pie dough (I just used one 9-inch round and saved the other for another day.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain and reserve in the same pot you cooked them in.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add onion and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes, then ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, and salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the drained potatoes and peas and cook another minute. If the filling seems too thick, add a splash or two of vegetable stock. Remove from the heat and let cool. 
On a lightly floured surface, unroll both doughs. Cut each dough round into 8 equal wedges, like a pizza.
Spoon 1 teaspoon of the potato filling onto the middle of each wedge. Brig the three points up to each other, then pinching at the seams to form a small pyramid. Use a fork to seal all edges. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. 

Potatoes in a Creamy Tomato Gravy

Evan and I were craving Indian food last weekend, so instead of going out we decided to cook! We usually cook Indian food with the pre-made gravy packets, but this time we went all homemade! And if you're looking for a great appetizer to with it be sure to check out my baked samosas. :) 
I've tried to make this gravy a handful of times, but it has never turned out this good. I've played around with a couple of different recipes and finally ended up just combining a little part from each of them. Now, this time, it was perfect! This creamy, sweet, and spicy gravy is ammmmaazing! Add some buttery potatoes and it is definitely a classic go-to Indian meal. It is perfect served over rice or with some crispy naan. 
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2-inch thumb ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons paprika
1-2 tablespoons garam masala
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound small new potatoes
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt 
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper

For the potatoes:
Put the potatoes, garlic, and bay leaf in a large saucepan, add cold water to cover by about an inch and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 5 to 8 minutes depending on their size. 
Drain and discard the garlic and bay leaf. Halve the potatoes, if large. Melt butter over potatoes and set aside.
For the Gravy: 
Dice one large onion. In a large skillet melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and sauté until they are slightly browned. As the onions cook, mince the garlic. Next, cut off the outer skin and mince or grate a 1 by 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions.

Next add the chili powder, garam masala spice, and tomato paste. Let the spices and tomato paste become fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add your can of crushed tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Add about 1 tablespoon sugar. Let this mixture simmer on medium for about 20-25 minutes. Add a little bit of water is gravy becomes too thick. 
Pour gravy into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Pour back into the pan, and bring back up to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes and heavy cream and stir until well combined. Serve over rice with naan. Enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hugs Chocolate Cookies

These are rich and chewy chocolate cookies with a little surprise inside! They are insanely good, especially with the gooey white chocolate melting inside. I highly recommend you make these for that special someone this Valentine's Day! :)

Hugs Chocolate Cookies
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (10 ounce) bag Hershey's Raspberry Hugs candy
1 cup white chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
3. With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Next, add in vanilla extract. Mix until blended.
4. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix until flour disappears. Unwrap the Hugs candies. Take a spoonful of cookie dough and wrap the dough around the Hug candy. Make sure the entire Hug is covered. Place cookie onto prepared baking sheet. Continue wrapping cookies until dough is gone. Make sure the cookies are 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
5. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Don't over bake. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely.
6. Place white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt. Drizzle chocolate over the cookies. Let cookies sit until chocolate hardens, about 10 minutes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

World Nutella Day!

It may be Super Bowl Sunday, but it’s also World Nutella Day, a day dedicated to the most amazingly delicious hazelnut spread! I even learned a fun fact about Nutella: each jar contains more than 50 hazelnuts, it’s kosher and it’s gluten-free! Be sure to check out the official site for some yummy recipes!
I am always on the hunt for a new recipe using Nutella...Check out a couple of my favorite recipes:


Thursday, February 2, 2012

M&M Blondies

You'll never guess where I found this recipe...Pinterest! :)
Since Valentine's Day is right around the corner I just couldn't resist making them! 
I have a great toffee blondie recipe I made during the holidays, but I found this recipe at Baked to Perfection.
I love the flakiness of the top of the blondies and the richness and chewiness of the inside of the blondie. It’s a perfect marriage of sweetness and chewiness…brown sugar, butter and chocolate…amazing!
M&M Blondies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup to 1 1/3 cup M&M's
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. Cool slightly. Add egg (beaten) and vanilla and blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Mix in 2/3 cup M&M's. Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/3 to 2/3 cup M&M's on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I've had this recipe on my Pinterest board forever and we finally made them last weekend. They turned out really good! They are super filling and good for you too!
Stuffed peppers are a quick and easy weeknight just mix it all up and stuff it! Doesn't get much easier than that!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Recipe adapted from Food Network
4 bell peppers (we used green & red)
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup shredded mexican cheese blend
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup cooked long grain rice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup frozen corn

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Wash each bell pepper well and then carefully cut the tops off each bell pepper. Remove the seeds and membrane from the pepper while leaving the pepper whole.
  3. Saute garlic and onions in olive oil until soft and translucent. Cool for 2 minutes.
    In a large mixing bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients: black beans, cheese, salsa, rice, chili powder, cumin, corn, onions, and garlic. 
  4. With a spoon, fill each bell pepper to the brim with the black bean mixture. Place each filled bell pepper into a medium baking pan and loosely cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle peppers with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until cheese melts.