Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pumpkin Dip Birthday Cake (and Pie!)

Pumpkin dip, I think it's Eric's favorite dessert. I usually only make it once a year in the fall, but Eric begs for it all year long so I promised to make him a pumpkin dip cake for his birthday. Well, his birthday falls two days after Valentine's Day. I had made a strawberry and chocolate cake for Valentine's Day (plus we had two boxes of chocolates) so we decided to hold off on the pumpkin dip cake until now. When he got home from work, I had a pumpkin dip cake, pumpkin dip pie, and plain old pumpkin dip waiting for him.

So this isn't really a new recipe. But I always post Eric's birthday cakes and I wanted to carry on with tradition.

Mini Pumpkin Dip Cake

Single Serving Pumpkin Dip Pie

Pumpkin Dip and Cinnamon Sugar Pastry Sticks

Pumpkin Dip
8 ounce brick of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 8-ounce tub cool whip, thawed

Cinnamon Sugar Pastries
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
5 to 7 tablespoon cold water
cinnamon-sugar mix (1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon)

Pumpkin Dip

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until it's creamy. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice and mix well. Gently fold in cool whip. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Cinnamon Sugar Pastries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening using two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture is moist and can be pressed into a ball. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured board or work surface, roll the dough out so it has a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes using small cookie cutters. Dredge the pastry shapes in cinnamon-sugar mix, shake off extra spices, and place on a cookie sheet. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly golden.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Individual Bacon and Cheese Quiche

I made this recipe because I had limited food in the house (it is once again time to go grocery shopping--I hate grocery shopping) but I happened to have everything I needed to make these mini quiches. Little did I know just how freaking amazing these things are! Cream cheese and eggs, a match made in heaven! When I asked Eric what he thought of them, he just looked down at his empty plate, chewing his last bite, then looked up at me again. Enough said.

Recipe adapted from here.

5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 can Pillsbury Grands refrigerated biscuits (8 count)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and milk and continue to beat until well combined. Stir in cheddar cheese.

Roll out each biscuit into 5-inch rounds. Place a biscuit in a muffin cup and firmly press the dough to the bottom and sides of the tins. Sprinkle half of the crumbled bacon in the bottom of each muffin cup. Divide egg mixture evenly between the cups.

Bake for 21 to 26 minutes or until the egg filling has set and the edges of the biscuit cups are a golden brown. Sprinkle the remaining bacon on top of the mini quiches, lightly pressing it into the centers.

Remove cups from pan and serve.

Since I was only feeding Eric and myself, I didn't really want to make 8 individual quiches so I halved the recipe and made 4 quiches and 4 monkey bread muffins--dinner and dessert!



More Quiche Recipes:
Ham and Broccoli Quiche
Spicy Sausage and Spinach Quiche
The Pizza Quiche
Quiche in a Mug

Monkey Bread Muffins

I've never had monkey bread before I made these muffins. In truth, I've seen plenty of recipes for them but never had much interest. What was I thinking?! These things are so gooey and sweet and yummy. I found myself late last night unable to resist the leftover muffin. Less than an hour later, Eric was rummaging in the fridge looking for the muffin I ate. I guess I'm going to have to make some more.

Recipe adapted from here.

1 can Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (8 count)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat 375 degrees. Grease 8 muffin cups with cooking spray.

In a ziploc bag, combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Separate the biscuits and cut each one into 6 pieces. Place the dough into the ziploc bag, seal, and shake until the pieces are well coated. Place 6 pieces of dough in each cup.

Stir brown sugar into the butter until it is dissolved. Pour the mixture over the dough pieces.

Bake for 21 to 26 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and no longer doughy in the center.
I actually split a can of biscuits, making 4 individual bacon and cheese quiches and 4 monkey bread muffins. They actually pair wonderfully.



More Dessert Recipes:
Homemade Donuts and Elephant Ears
Brown Sugar Cookies
Baileys White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Swirl Cake (Made with Swiss Cake Rolls)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Red Wine Ice Cream

Eric and I received an ice cream maker as a wedding present and we've already used it more times than you can imagine. I've made cookie dough ice cream from a mix, then vanilla and peppermint ice cream from a recipe. I wanted to post the peppermint ice cream, but Eric ate it all before I could take a picture.

Anyway, my best friend and her husband just bought their first house together and we wanted to give them a house warming gift. Since they are both wine lovers, I made them red wine ice cream using one their favorite wines, Apothic Red.

Let me tell you this, wine ice cream is freaking amazing. Maybe one of the best inventions ever.

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1/2 cup wine

Prepare your ice cream maker according to machine directions. Ours requires ice, salt, and a chilled canister.

Combine the milk sugar, salt, and wine. Stir in heavy cream. Place the mixture in your ice cream maker and churn for 1 hour or until the ice cream thickens.



More Boozy Dessert Recipes:
Apple Cider Cupcakes with Caramel Filling and Spiced Rum Frosting
Baileys White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Easy Rum Balls
Spiced Rum Brown Butter Cookies 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Strawberry and Chocolate Checkered Cake (with Bonus Cupcakes!)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Eric and I aren't big into Valentine's Day. Our plans this year include sushi and probably cuddling on the couch watching a Supernatural marathon. But I do use the commercial holiday as an excuse to test out some new bake goods. I've been wanting to do a checkered cake for ages. I first saw one on The Cake Boss years ago and I had to figure out how to do it for myself. Then I stumbled upon the directions on Pinterest and it was not nearly as difficult as I thought it'd be.

I used doctored cake mixes--strawberry and chocolate--for the cakes and cupcakes. I wanted to make the cakes from scratch (my chocolate on chocolate cake is one of my popular post on this blog) and even felt a little guilty for using boxed cake mix. But cake mixes were invented for a reason. Sometimes life is just too busy and you need something easy.

Since I used two cake mixes I could have made a four layer cake, two cakes, or a cake and cupcakes. Eric and I certainly didn't need that many sweets in the house (especially with his birthday on Sunday) so I made the cake for us and cupcakes for him to take to work. Eric said the cupcakes didn't even make it to noon. I guess they liked them.

Strawberry Cake
1 strawberry cake mix
1  3-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup water, milk, or buttermilk
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Chocolate Cake
1 chocolate cake mix
1  3-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup water, milk, or buttermilk
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Chocolate Filling
1 5.9-ounce instant chocolate pudding mix

1 1/2 cups cold milk

Buttercream Frosting
3 sticks butter, softened
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6-8 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour to 8-inch cake pans. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix all the chocolate cake ingredients together until well combined. Pour half the batter into one of the cake pans.

In a second large bowl, mix all the strawberry cake ingredients together until well combined. Pour half the batter into the second cake pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the center of the cakes are set.

Remove from oven, allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pans, and then place cakes on a wire rack to cool completely.

Divide the remaining chocolate and strawberry batter between 24 cupcake tins. I layered chocolate on bottom, strawberry on top. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until the centers of the cupcakes have set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool the cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Filling
In a medium bowl whisk together the pudding mix and the milk until completely combined. Mixture will be very thick.

Place the the butter into a large bowl and cream with a hand mixer or standing mixer. Add vanilla and mix. Add 1 cup of sugar and blend on low speed until well incorporated. Then add another cup of sugar and beat until well blended. By now your buttercream is getting thick. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk and mix. Blend in the rest of the sugar.. Add more tablespoons of milk, if desired. To get light, smooth buttercream you need to blend the buttercream for 15 to 20 minutes on low.

I'm not going to lie, I rather winged the assembling part. I didn't go out and buy any special cutters or templates. I basically eyeballed it using a small plate, a glass, and serrated knife to cut out the circles.

Basically what you want to do is cut a big circle out the center of each cake then a smaller circle out of the middle of the cake, so you have two large rings, two medium rings, and two small circles.

As you can see, I over filled my chocolate cake pan. With a serrated knife you can simply trim it down.
Start with a chocolate ring and place a smaller strawberry ring inside it then place the small chocolate cake in the center. Repeat with the other pieces yet inversed.

Chocolate, strawberry chocolate on bottom. Strawberry, chocolate, strawberry on top.

Here is an awesome video that does a better job at explaining how to assemble a checkered cake.

Place half of the chocolate filling between the two layers of the cake then frost with the buttercream frosting and decorate.

For the cupcakes: with a spoon scoop out the centers of the cupcakes, scoop in the chocolate filling, and frost with buttercream. Decorate, if desired.

Keep both the cake and cupcakes refrigerated. Before serving, remove from fridge and allow to sit out for about fifteen minutes, allowing the buttercream to soften.

I think I need a little practice at the checkered cake, but I can't wait to try again!



More Recipes for Valentine's Day:
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies with a Strawberry Sauce
Baileys White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Skinny Peanut Butter Brownies  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hobo Meal: Lemon Pepper Chicken with Garlic Potatoes

Eric's mom introduced me to hobo meals, and I quickly fell in love with them. Not because they are so delicious--which they are!--but because of the minimum clean up. For the first time in many years, I am living without a dishwasher, and I can't begin to tell you how tired I am of washing dishes. The amount of dishes and pans a meal requires has begun to greatly matter to me.

So anyway, what is a hobo meal? It's basically throwing your meat and veggies on a big sheet of tin foil, wrapping it up, and cooking it in a campfire or an oven. I bake it in the oven. Everything comes out so incredibly moist and flavorful. And there are no pans or baking dishes to scrub. You just throw out the tin foil!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
Lemon Pepper Seasoning, to taste
2 small Russet potatoes, diced
garlic powder, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season both sides of the chicken breasts with lemon pepper seasoning and place them in a single layer in the center of a large piece of tin foil.

Season your potatoes with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and pile them on both sides of the chicken breasts. Distribute the small pieces of butter among the potatoes. Using the edges of the tin foil, wrap up the meal securely.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.



More Chicken Recipes
Baked Garlic Chicken
Chicken Enchiladas with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
Corn and Black Bean Skillet Chicken 
Crockpot: Brown Sugar and Garlic Chicken
Jalapeno Popper Chicken
Parmesan-Seared Chicken
Parmesan Chicken Casserole 
Potless Chicken Pot Pies
Provincial Chicken

Monday, February 10, 2014

Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies

These cookies are basically a Reese Peanut Butter Cup in cookie form, which just happen to be one of Eric's all time favorite candies--perhaps making these one of his all time favorite cookies? I don't know. He was asking me if it was possible to make an peanut butter cookie stuffed with peanut butter. But Eric isn't the only one in the house who loves peanut butter. Poor Arya couldn't figure out why I had the peanut butter jar out and she wasn't getting any (the main reason I even buy peanut butter is to put in her Kong toy). 

Anyway, if you love Reese Peanut Butter Cups, you'll love these cookies!

Recipe adapted from here.

3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets with cooking spray.

Line a plate with waxed paper. In a medium bowl, combine the filling ingredients using your hands. Once the mixture us well combined, roll the filling into 30 1-inch balls and place them on the waxed paper plate. Freeze for approximately 30 minutes.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and peanut butter in a large bowl until well combined. Add in vanilla and egg then combine.

In a second medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Refrigerate dough for 20 to 30 minutes. (If you don't refrigerate the dough, you will have a difficult time with the next step).

Remove the peanut butter balls from the freeze and the dough from the fridge. Wrap about 1 tablespoon of dough around each peanut butter ball and place on greased cookie sheets. You may want to work in batches. The dough can become quite sticky.

You can make these into cookie balls or flat cookies. If you want balls, just pop them into the oven. If you want flat cookies, gently press the cookies with the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are set.

Cookies left in their ball state


More Cookie Recipes
Apple Cider Cookies with Spiced Rum Glaze
Applesauce Cookies with Caramel Frosting
Brown Sugar Cookies
Baileys White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Creamsicle Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Spiced Rum Brown Butter Cookies

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Heart Pancakes

This isn't really a recipe, just a fun thing to do--especially with Valentine's Day coming up. I used store bought pancake mix, threw in some cinnamon because I always put cinnamon in my pancakes (and in my oatmeal, and in my French toast, and on my toast), poured the mixture into an empty mustard container (you could easily recycle an old ketchup bottle for this), and squirted designs on to a hot skillet.

Start by making the outline of a heart then just fill it in. I also made an E for Eric, K for Krissy, and A for Arya. Next time I will try making pancakes using metal cookie cutters.



More Fun Things To Do
How to Make Snowflake Tortilla Chips
How to Dye Easter Eggs with Kool Aid
How to Make Potato Chips in the Microwave
How to Decorate a Gingerbread House
How to Decorate a Haunted Gingerbread House

Monday, February 3, 2014


Eric keeps taking a spoon to my jar of homemade caramel sauce and I knew if I didn't make these caramelitas soon, I wasn't going to have any caramel left to make them. Obviously, we are both big caramel fans, which makes it incredibly strange that neither of us have had a caramelita before. Needless to say, we both loved them. Eric's not even sulking that I used up the rest of the caramel sauce making them. In fact, he wants me to make more so I can make more of these bars!

Recipe adapted from here.

1 1/2 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup homemade or store bought caramel sauce
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with tin foil then grease generously with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, vanilla, and brown sugar. Pour in flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir until well combined. Pour half the mixture into the prepared dish and smooth with a rubber spatula (Don't worry if it looks like you won't have enough dough--this concerned me at first, too, but it all worked out).

Bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the first layer of cookie. Pour the caramel over the chocolate chips, spreading it slowly and equally. Drop little bits of the remaining cookie dough evenly over the top of the bars. The caramel will still show through in some places--that's okay!

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until the top turns a golden brown.

Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. If you try removing them from the pan or slicing them before the caramel has had time to firm up, you'll end up with a gooey mess. I refrigerated mine for 2 hours after the pan reached room temperature. Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge.



More Dessert Recipes:
Congo Bars, Blondies, or Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars?
Michigan Cranberry Brownies
White Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie
Spiced Rum Brown Butter Cookies 
Yummy Butterscotch Cookies