Sunday, January 11, 2015

Roasted Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup

I love soup, especially during this ridiculously cold time of year. And out of all the soups I've made lately the one that most says “comfort food” to me is this roasted cauliflower and white cheddar soup. It’s rich. Creamy. Smooth. And so seriously good. 

Pureeing is a great way to create a rich and creamy soup without having to go too heavy on the dairy. I used fat free yogurt in this recipe in place of the heavy cream you would normally see. I prefer the texture of blending only half the soup and leaving the other half untouched. However, if you prefer to puree the entire batch…go for it!
Roasting the cauliflower is what really takes this soup to the next level. The cauliflower and onions caramelize and darken around the edges and it brings such an amazing depth of flavor to the soup. 

Roasted Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup
Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

1 large head cauliflower cored and chopped into small, bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
3 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can vegetable broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 bay leaf
4 oz shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  • Place cauliflower and chopped onions on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss to evenly coat, then spread into an even layer and season with salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant. While whisking, slowly pour in white wine. Cook for about 1-2 minutes and then pour in vegetable broth. 
  • Add in the bay leaf, roasted cauliflower and onions, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low. Remove bay leaf.
  • Carefully ladle about half the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. 
  • Add pureed soup back into the pot and stir in yogurt. Add shredded cheese and stir until completely melted. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Treat Boxes

Baking during the holiday season is one of my favorite things to do. We are so blessed to have such an awesome neighborhood and I wanted to share some sweet treats with everyone!

I came across this post from you are my fave and couldn't wait to recreate it!
I searched for the cute little compartment boxes, but ended up just getting some tins from Hobby Lobby. At $2.50 (half off!) a pop, you just can't beat it.

Each little package contained the following:
peppermint oreo truffles
chocolate toffee grahams
dark chocolate covered sea salt caramel
white chocolate pretzels
chocolate covered rice krispies
cranberry pistachio bark

All of the goodies were homemade with the exception of the Dove caramels. Let's face it, they are just too darn good to recreate. 

YAMF also created the cutest labels to attach to each box. Since my treats weren't exactly the same, I created my own labels. If you want to make the exact same treat boxes, I have my labels available for you to download, print, and attach on the top of the box with ribbon.

The chalkboard labels were designed by Valerie McKeehan for World Label and can be downloaded here

I hope this post inspires you to create something delicious for the people you love! Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Red Velvet Oreo Gooey Cake Bars

There’s just something about Red Velvet that is simply irresistible. It's truly a southern favorite. I love Red Velvet cupcakes, but I wanted to change it up a bit. I'm a huge fan of cake bars...especially ones stuffed with chocolate! And of course who can resist something with Oreos mixed in? This combination is perfect! 
Chewy Red Velvet bars stuffed with chocolate chips and Oreos, all drizzled with sweetened condensed milk...making them super ooey and gooey. Un-believable. 
I've made these a few times before, but the entire pan seems to disappear before I can even snap a picture. This time I made them for a little slumber party with my two favorite kiddos. I made sure to take a few photos before everyone came over!

Red Velvet Oreo Gooey Cake Bars

Recipe adapted from Picky Palate 
1 box red velvet cake mix
1 large egg
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
5 oz milk chocolate chips (1/2 bag)
10-12 Oreos, broken into pieces
1 can sweetened condensed milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil that’s been generously sprayed with cooking spray. 

2. Place cake mix, egg, and butter into a large mixing bowl. Mix until a nice dough forms similar to a cookie dough. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer with Oreos and chocolate chips. 
Drizzle half of the sweetened condensed milk over top. Top with remaining half of dough pressing evenly. Drizzle the rest of the sweetened condensed milk over the dough.

3. Bake for 28-33 minutes, until cooked through
. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes then take a plastic knife and run along edges to loosen. 

4. Let cool completely then remove bars from pan with foil edges. Cut bars into squares and serve. They are delicious room temperature or chilled.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Whiskey Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. A simple, classic cookie that everyone instantly recognizes and loves. Perfectly soft, chewy, and super chocolatey. 

This is one of those someone-hide-these-from-me-immediately desserts. After quite a bit of quality control, I was able to send these packing to my mom and sister.

I may or may not have left a couple hiding somewhere in the kitchen.
I doctored these up by making them into bars, throwing in some crushed pretzels and toffee pieces...oh and of course adding some whiskey caramel to top it all off. The salted caramel just finishes the bar off perfectly and gives it the perfect level of gooeyness. I could seriously put this stuff on anything and it would be amazing!

These cookie bars on their own don’t taste super boozy. The caramel layer brings a nice kick of whiskey, but it isn’t over-powering, just a nice addition to the sweet, salty, and chocolatey flavor from the bars.

Whiskey Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars
For the cookie layer:
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1/4 cup toffee pieces (I used Heath)

For the whiskey caramel:

1/2 cup whiskey
1 14 oz bag of soft caramels unwrapped (I used Kraft)
1/2 tsp sea salt

For the chocolate layer:

1 cup chocolate chips
1 tbs butter

For the topping:

16 whole salted pretzels

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking pan or line with aluminum foil and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars. Add the egg and yolk, mixing until smooth and well-combined. Add the vanilla.

Add the flour, baking soda and salt over the wet ingredients and use a spatula to fold together until just incorporated with no streaks of dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips, pretzels, and toffee.

Spread dough into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden and crisp and the inside feels set. Cool.

For the caramel:
While the bars are baking, combine the whiskey and caramels in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until caramels have melted completely and the whiskey is mixed in. Cook until you reach the softball stage (240 degrees F), which is about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should have reduced a bit. Spread over cookie bars.

For the chocolate:

Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 20 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. DO NOT OVERHEAT. 

Spread over the caramel layer and top with pretzels - sticking them into the melted chocolate. Let bars cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes with a Pretzel Crust

I love peanut butter and chocolate. I love cheesecake. So, these little beauties are a big winner with me. I'm a little obsessed with the whole chocolatey, peanut buttery, salty, sweet, cheesecakey combo.
I decided to pair these with a pretzel crust instead of the traditional graham cracker crust. Best. Decision. Ever. You know me, I'm a sucker for sweet and salty! I love the hint of saltiness that the pretzels give. 
The pretzel crust is a bit crumbly, so expect a bit of a mess when you dig in to these. I thought about adding some more melted butter, but it seems like there's just no way around it. No worries...they are totally worth the mess! 

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes with a Pretzel Crust
Makes 6 mini cheesecakes
3/4 cup crushed pretzels
1/2 cup peanuts
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 (8-ounce) packages reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup non fat, plain Greek yogurt (you could also use non fat, vanilla)
2 eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse the pretzels and peanuts until a crumb mixture. With the machine running, slowly add the melted butter and pulse until it just starts to come together.
Divide the crumb mixture into your mini cheesecake pan then press evenly with the bottom of a glass to create an even crust. Bake crust in the oven for about 5 minutes and let cool.
Reduce oven to 325 degrees.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the vanilla extract. Add the peanut butter and mix until it just comes together. Continue to mix with a spatula until well combined.
Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. The top should be slightly puffy and lightly browned. Remove cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely.

Combine the chocolate chips, milk, and vanilla in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth. Pour glaze over the cheesecakes. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Refrigerate the cheesecakes for about 4 hours or overnight. Remove carefully and serve. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kale and Strawberry Salad with Creamy Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

I've been making this salad for a while now. It's my go-to lunch during the week. It's super filling and full of yummy goodies. Kale is all the trend these days, and I'm definitely jumping on board with this one. 
I just make a huge bowl of this salad and separate it into different tupperware containers for the week. If you decide to make this for lunch, be sure not to add the dressing until right before you eat it. 
The hearty kale is topped with sweet strawberries and crunchy almonds. I love the added crunch from the sunflower seeds too. The tangy goat cheese and creamy dressing is the perfect contrast of flavors. You can completely customize this recipe to suit your taste buds. Sometimes I substitute feta cheese for the goat cheese, dried cranberries for the fresh strawberries, and pecans for the almonds. It's totally up to you. 
The dressing is also super simple. I literally just put all of the ingredients into a jar and shake it all up. It only takes like 2 minutes to make! No more store bought dressing for me...this one is simple, light, refreshing and so much better for you. Enjoy! :)

Kale and Strawberry Salad with a Creamy Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 4
For the salad:
3 cups chopped kale, stems removed
1 cup mixed greens
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, hulled
1/4 cup goat cheese

For the Creamy Citrus Balsamic Dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp non fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1. Put the kale and mixed greens in a large bowl.
2. Add the strawberries, sunflower seeds, almonds, and goat cheese. Toss gently.
3. In a small mason jar, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Shake until mixed well.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Homemade Peanut Butter Doggie Treats

Don't leave out your dog when you're celebrating Valentine's day! Our little pup is full of love...she always stays close, smiles for the camera, and loves to snuggle and cuddle with us on the couch. She’s such a good girl, so I thought it was about time I made something special just for her. 
Homemade dog treats are super simple to make and you can easily alter the recipe for your pet's diet. 

These treats have a strong peanut buttery taste, the texture is hearty and nourishing due to the rolled oats. I read that the parsley will give your dog fresh breath, while also helping with digestion. Parsley is also high in vitamins A and C. Your dog will be giving you extra slobbery kisses of love and appreciation!

If you think your dog might be allergic to peanut butter check with your vet before making these. I have read that you can substitute pumpkin puree or sweet potatoes for the peanut butter.

You can adjust the size of the treats depending on the size of your dog, baking them a few minutes less or a few minutes more, as needed.  Bailey is still a pup, but you can tell she's going to be a big girl!

The next time you’re in the baking mood, whip up a quick batch of healthy homemade dog treats for your pooch! They'll love you (even more) for it! :)

Homemade Peanut Butter Doggie Treats

Recipe adapted from Whole Foods
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup vegetable broth (you could also use water or fat free milk)
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/3 cup quick cooking oats (you could use whole oats as well)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, gently mix the peanut butter, broth, and egg together with a whisk to until there are no lumps. Add the flour, parsley, and baking powder. Turn the dough out onto the counter and use your hands to work in the flour. Mix in the oats. The dough will be thick and heavy.
  3. Roll the dough out into 1/4" thickness. Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter. 
  4. Place on the baking sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from the oven, and flip the treats to bake the other side for another 10 minutes.