Friday, June 22, 2012

Strawberry Basil Cake

Last weekend we went to the first annual "Love & Homegrown Tomatoes" at the Community Gardens of Henry. My parents are avid gardeners and insisted we come along. They have been involved with their community garden for quite a while. The fundraiser included tours of Wesley Way Gardens, music, booths, a silent auction, door prizes, and a good ole' tomato sandwich buffet! Nothing truly defines summer in the south than a tomato sandwich and big glass of sweet tea! 

The Helping Harvests are specifically for growing fresh produce for donation to local non-profits and food pantries. More than 16,000 pounds of fresh produce has already been donated since they began! Proceeds from the fundraiser will help them sustain and expand the Helping Harvests and their five community gardens.

Now, what does this have to do with strawberry cake??
At the fundraiser there was a booth called Dani Jamz and she was selling this delicious homemade strawberry basil jam. As soon as I tasted it I knew I wanted to make a cake with it!

And so here we are...

I used my new "go-to" cake recipe with Greek yogurt and it turned out just perfect. I was a bit unsure as to how it would taste with a yellow cake mix, but it was just as good as the chocolate!
The cake was moist and perfect and the frosting was so light and yummy! It’s like strawberry shortcake, but better. I just can’t say enough about this recipe, and the strawberry basil jam adds the perfect touch!
This is seriously the BEST. STRAWBERRY. CAKE. EVER.
It is sooo insanely delicious!

Strawberry Basil Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup Greek yogurt, non-fat
1 cup water 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tub Cool Whip
6 tbsp strawberry basil jam (you can use regular strawberry jam instead)
1 1/2 lbs strawberries, hulled, sliced (about 3 cups), divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine cake mix, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and water. Pour batter evenly into to two greased 9 inch round cake pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Cool completely. (I put mine in the freezer for about 20 minutes to speed up the process!)

In a separate mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in vanilla. Fold whipped cream into frosting. Cover; chill for about 30 minutes.

Place the first cake layer onto a plate.
Spread 2 tbsp of strawberry jam over the cake, then spread 1/2 of the frosting over the jam. Arrange 1/2 of the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting in a single layer. Repeat with the second cake layer, jam, frosting, and strawberries.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

When it comes to cooking, I am so incredibly thankful for my mother and future mother-in-law! These ladies know how to cook. I'm always asking them for new recipes...and they are always sending us home with extra food! :) We are super lucky to have such amazing parents! 
Yesterday we went over to Evan's parents house for Father's day. After cooking up a delicious Thanksgiving-esque lunch for everyone, his mother whipped out this amazing cake! This simple frozen dessert was a huge hit. It was delicious, decadent and quite impressive! This would be a perfect dessert to take to a summer cookout.

Who doesn't love a good ice cream sandwich? This was (and still is) probably my most favorite dessert growing up. We ALWAYS had them in the freezer. The best thing about this cake is you can change it up in so many different ways. Switch up the ice cream sandwich flavors, ice cream toppings, and use tons of different types of candy.
*Please excuse the photos, I had to use my cell phone. But you still get the idea of how incredibly delicious this cake was! :)

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake (Recipe adapted from Taste of Home)
17 miniature ice cream sandwiches, divided
1 jar (12 ounces) caramel ice cream topping
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
Arrange 14 ice cream sandwiches in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Cut remaining sandwiches in half lengthwise; fill in the spaces in the dish. (You could also create two layers of sandwiches with some extra caramel sauce in the middle!)
Spread with caramel and whipped topping. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Cover and freeze for at least 45 minutes. Cut into squares.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chocolate OREO Cookie Cake

The only word for this cake is heavenly. No other word could possibly describe it. It's just...everything I could ever want in a cake. 
cool whip.
cream cheese.
 Are you drooling all over your keyboard yet??
I made this cake for father's day and it was quite a hit. The best part is that I even tried to make it somewhat "healthier" and it worked! I don't know if you can really make a chocolate covered oreo cookie cake healthy, but at least I didn't feel that bad eating a slice...or two. 
I will probably never make a boxed cake with eggs and oil again. I substituted Greek yogurt and it turned out to be the most amazing cake. I also added some coffee to boost the chocolate flavor! Moist, velvety, and rich. Seriously good. Shout out to Dr. Oz for sharing the cake recipe on his show! :) 

I promise this cake will not disappoint!

Oreo Cookie Cake (Recipe adapted from Kraft)
1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food cake mix
1 cup Greek yogurt, fat free
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened, reduced fat
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg thawed cool whip topping, fat free
15 Oreo cookies, coarsely crushed, reduced fat


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine cake mix, Greek yogurt, coffee, and water. Pour batter evenly into to two greased 9 inch round cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Microwave chocolate and butter in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 min. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Gently stir in COOL WHIP and crushed cookies.

Place 1 cake layer on plate, spread with cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top with chocolate glaze; let stand 10 min. or until firm. Keep refrigerated.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cookies N' Cream Brownies

Do you have just have an intense urge for something chocolate? Well, that was me yesterday...along with every other day. I came across this awesome recipe for brownies using Greek yogurt. I've kind of been on this crazy yogurt kick lately. I guess I never realized how many recipes you could use it in...and everything so far has tasted amazing! Oh and an added bonus: it's healthier! :) 
Since I decided to use a practically fat free recipe, I didn't feel so bad adding an entire bar of Hershey's Cookies N' Cream right smack in the middle of the brownies! The added layer of white chocolate and cookie goodness is ammaaaazing! The batter is a bit thin, which caused the chocolate bar to sink to the bottom...but trust me, the taste is all there. These brownies are super moist, chocolatey, and fudgy!

3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips + additional 1/4 cup for batter
1 cup Greek yogurt, fat free
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 Hershey's Cookies N' Cream chocolate bar (4oz)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir and melt in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until melted.
  • Pour yogurt in a large bowl. Add the melted chocolate, sugar, eggs, and vanilla to the yogurt and stir to combine.
  • In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate/yogurt mixture and stir until just combined. Add water and stir until incorporated. Fold in the 1/4 chocolate chips. 
  • Line an 8″x8″ oven safe baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Pour half of the batter evenly into the baking dish and top with pieces of the cookies and cream chocolate bar. Pour the other half of the brownie batter on top and spread to make even. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Baked Penne with Roasted Summer Veggies

This pasta is seriously bursting with every summer flavor possible.  It has a handful of summer vegetables including summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. To add a depth to the sauce, I added some homemade pesto, Greek yogurt, and sun dried tomatoes. There are so many flavors going on in this dish...and it's healthy!

Baked Penne with Roasted Summer Veggies (Recipe adapted from Food Network)
1 eggplant, quartered and cut into cubes
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into cubes
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
3 cups good marinara sauce
1/4 cup homemade or store bought pesto
3/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated mozzarella plus more for topping

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • On a baking sheet, toss the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. Roast until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for about 8- 10 minutes. DO NOT OVER COOK.
  • In large mixing bowl combine marinara sauce, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and Greek yogurt. Mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted veggies, sauce mixture, Italian cheeses, Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella. Gently mix until the pasta is coated with sauce and the ingredients are combined.
  • Pour the pasta into a 9x13-inch pan. Top with some extra mozzarella. Bake until the top is golden and the cheese melts.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Honey Beer Bread

We love beer. And we always have beer in our refrigerator. As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it.
This bread is insanely easy to make and it literally only takes 5 minutes to whip up the batter! It's easy as can be. Mix, bake, slice, enjoy! That's pretty much it. My absolute favorite thing about this bread is that it actually tastes like beer. It's awesome. And if you want to get a little crazy throw a handful of cheddar cheese into the batter!

Honey Beer Bread (Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen)
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups all purpose)
2 Tbsp. sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer (I used my favorite: Blue Moon)
4 Tbsp. (half stick) butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using the paddle attachment, slowly stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed. DO NOT OVER MIX.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter. 

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Snickers Blondies

I made these a while back for my friend Ryan. He was attending a house warming party and needed something delicious to bring...and so here it is! I must say, they turned out pretty tasty!

Snickers Blondies (Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups)
3 cups pretzel twists
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coarse sea salt
3 cups coarsely chopped Snickers bars or unchopped Snickers Minis

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  
  • Line bottom of pan with pretzels.
  • In your mixer cream butter and sugar together for 1 minute. Add in eggs and vanilla and continue mixing for another minute, until smooth.
  • Turn mixer to low, add in baking soda, salt and flour. Stir until just combined.
  • Dump in Snickers and turning mixer up to medium mix for 20 seconds until evenly incorporated and slightly broken up.
  • Spread batter evenly over pretzels.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until the center is almost set.
  • Let cool completely or overnight.
  • Cut into squares when ready to serve.