Dulce de Leche Blondies

I found this recipe in the Cookie Bible over the weekend and knew I had to make it soon. Last night my brother in law and his girlfriend came over for dinner and I decided it was the perfect excuse to bake these up. On a scale of 1 - 10 I would give these an 8. Very good, (everyone LOVED them!) but kind of dry. I didn't bake these for the entire suggested time so I'm not sure why they were dry.

Dulce de Leche Blondies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 baking pan Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.

Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gradually stir in flour mixture Spread 1/2 to 2/3 of batter in prepared pan. (I used 2/3, next time I'll only do 1/2) Bake 7- 8 minutes; cool 5 minutes on wire rack.

Meanwhile, melt caramels and evaporated milk in nonstick saucepan over very low heat. Reserving 2 tablespoonfuls for drizzle, GENTLY SPOON remaining caramel mixture over baked layer in pan. Drop tablespoonfuls of remaining batter over caramel layer, swirl slightly with knife.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. Reheat reserved caramel, if necessary; drizzle over bars.


A Light Pasta Dish

Usually when I see a pasta dish with white sauce I skip right on by it. This recipe however, caught my eye because…. IT USES LAUGHING COW CHEESE! Woohoo! Laughing Cow has become one of my new favorite things to eat. So tasty and only 35 calories a wedge, can’t beat that.

I found the recipe last month on Culinary in the Country (or is it Desert?!) and it’s most definitely a winner! The sauce is light, very fitting for a warm spring evening. I just loved the flavor of the bacon in the dish. Next time I make this I think I’ll cook an extra strip of bacon to crumble on top for when this is served. This recipe is also good because it doesn’t make a ton like most of the pasta dishes I’ve made. Only 4 servings… which somehow ended up being only 2. :)

BLT Penne Pasta Toss
Found on: Culinary in the Country, adapted from Kraft

8 ounces dry whole wheat penne pasta
4 ounces Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese Wedges, cut into cubes. I like the Light Garlic and Herb.(use cream cheese, if desired)
1 cup milk
1 ounce fresh grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (used dry)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add Laughing Cow cheese, milk and Parmesan - heat over medium-high, whisking constantly, cheese melts and the mixture is well-blended, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in bacon, spinach, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and nutmeg - reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until thoroughly heated through, about 5 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat, add drained pasta and toss well to coat. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, if desired.

Chocolate Bliss

WOW! Is the first thought that came to my mind when I tried these. So rich, so chocolaty, the name of these bad boys says it all. This really is chocolate bliss. I planned on making dinner last night, but realized I was missing a key ingredient so my dinner plans went right out the window and I decided to bake.

I found a recipe for Chocolate Bliss Cookies in my Cookie Bible and decided to adapt it a bit. I changed a few of the ingredients and also decided to make bars instead of cookies. These would be perfect along with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. They kind of remind me of a Blondie because you can substitute anything in for your mix-ins. Caramel or Toffee would be fabulous. These are really dangerous. I could probably polish off all of them in one sitting. I had the hubs take them to work and his coworkers absolutely loved them!

Chocolate Bliss Cookie Bars
Adapted from: The Cookie Bible

4oz Ghirardelli Bitter Sweet Chocolate Squares, chopped
4 oz Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar, chopped
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut flakes + more for topping
½ cup rice krispies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Microwave semisweet and bittersweet chocolate bars in a microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min., stirring after 1 min. (I checked it every 30 seconds) Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla; stir until well blended. Add flour and baking powder; mix well. Stir in white and semi sweet chips, coconut flakes and rice krispies.

Spread dough in greased, foil-lined 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 22 – 24 minutes. Top with coconut flakes to taste. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Makes 2 dozen

Better Late Than Never

Last year before I started going back to school I belonged to a Women's Group. I always enjoyed going to WG, but with class, I had no time to go. I made it to the December WG, but haven't been since. My friend Julia also belongs to WG and in December gave everyone "cookie in a jar" mixes. I'm ashamed to say I never made mine until yesterday. I'm not a huge fan of cranberries, so I was kind of nervous to make them. Surprisingly though, they are really good. Even for an anti-fruit-in-dessert type of girl. :) The dough is just delicious and I love the White Chocolate Chips in it!

Cranberry Hootycreeks
From: Julia
Originally From: allrecipes

1 cup + 2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans


Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed.

Attach a tag with the following instructions:

Cranberry Hootycreeks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy.

Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended (If dough is dry and crumbly, sprinkle with a bit of water so it sticks together better. I took Julia's advice and sprinkled some water and refrigerated the dough for a bit.)

Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


Finally... Orzo!

In our quest to save a little money, the hubster and I have been shopping at a Wal*Mart Market store. While I love saving money, the selection of food is annoying. One item I have never seen at the store is Orzo. There are a few recipes I've passed over or adapted that are supposed to have Orzo. Imagine my excitement, when Mr. Hubster told me we had a coupon for 10% off at Hyvee. (Yes, I am lame and get excited over a trip to Hyvee and Yes, I realize the 10% off savings wasn't really worth it. Kudos to you Hyvee Marketing Department, you got us back in the door.)

Anywho, I saw this recipe for Orzo Pilaf with Green Onions and Parmesan Cheese in my google reader and starred it for the day I'd have Orzo. Well my friends, that day has come. I made it tonight, and it was delicious! I served it as a side to pork chops and also sauteed some veggies and garlic in a little bit of EVOO and white wine. This meal was very easy and tasted excellent. This may definitely became a weeknight staple... guess I need to go to Hyvee and stock up on Orzo!

Orzo Pilaf with Green Onions and Parmesan Cheese
found on: The Foodie Fashionista
originally from: Epicurious.com

I read the reviews on the website and quite a few people recommended browning the orzo before cooking it. I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. My adaptations in italics

3 1/4 cups (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth (I used almost 4 cups)
1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
5 green onions, thinly sliced (I used 3 - 31/2)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
*1/4 cup butter

Melt butter in large skillet, add Orzo and brown. While Orzo is browning, Bring 3 1/4 cups broth to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Mix in orzo and simmer uncovered until just tender but still firm to bite and some broth still remains, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Add green onions and cheese and stir to blend. Season pilaf to taste with salt and pepper.

Rewarm over low heat, if necessary, and mix in more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if pilaf is dry. Transfer pilaf to large bowl and serve.

One more thing, next time I make this for just the two of us, I'm going to cut the recipe in half. It serves 6.

Easy Pork Chops

Last week we found a really good deal on pork chops. Since then, I've been on the hunt for a tasty marinade or rub. I found this Carolina Rub recipe and it really hit the spot. It's very flavorful without being super spicy (the hubster appreciates that). I know we'll use this again on pork and other types of meat.

Pork Chops with Carolina Rub
from: Culinary in the Desert (adapted from CL)

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 center-cut pork loin chops
1/4 cup barbecue sauce

Preheat Grill

In a small bowl, whisk together garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, paprika, chili powder, pepper, and salt. Rub spices all over pork chops and let sit 10-15 minutes.

Place pork on a lightly oiled grill rack. Grill 4 minutes on first side and then flip over to grill 2 minutes on the other side. Brush each chop with 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, and grill 2 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake

I saw this in the April issue of Cooking Light and knew I had to make it. I finally got the opportunity to yesterday and I can't believe I waited so long to make it. It was sooooo delicious. The cake is moist and just perfect. When my husband had a bite his first words were "mmmmmm you'll be making this again". (Except, with a mouthful of cake it sounded more like mmmmyulllbemakingisagain". )

I changed a few things from the original recipe. For the frosting, instead of almonds I used oats and I think it turned out great. When I was making the frosting, I wasn't paying attention and poured in regular sugar instead of brown sugar. I was stirring and stirring, and it just didn't look (or taste) like I thought it should. I read back over the recipe and sure enough it was supposed to have brown sugar. I added some brown sugar in and everything seemed fine.

When I poured the frosting over the cake, I didn't use all of it because I was afraid with double the sugar it would be too sweet. The frosting isn't really a regular frosting, it's sticky and caramelized. So, so, so good! The optional whipped topping and cinnamon mentioned at the end of the recipe is a must!

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake
Adapted from: Cooking Light, April 2008

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar object
3/4 cup chunky applesauce (Used regular, I don't like chunky applesauce)
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs
Cooking spray

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted (I didn't have any almonds, so I used 1/2 cup oats)

Remaining ingredients:
1 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Ground cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare cake, combine oats and 1 cup hot water in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Combine 1 1/3 cups sugar, applesauce, 1/3 cup honey, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 1 minute. Add oat mixture; beat at low speed until well blended. Add half of flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat well. Add remaining flour mixture; beat well. Spoon batter into an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 48 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place dish on a wire rack.

4. To prepare frosting, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup honey; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly, stirring constantly. Stir in almonds. Quickly pour frosting over cake; spread evenly using a rubber spatula.

5. Preheat broiler.

6. Broil cake 1 minute or until frosting is bubbly and golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with whipped topping; sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired.

16 servings (serving size: 1 cake piece and 1 tablespoon topping)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 255(19% from fat); FAT 5.4g (sat 2.1g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 3.4g; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 40mg; SODIUM 193mg; FIBER 1.5g; IRON 1.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.9g

I don't know what got into me

This recipe is not like me for 2 reasons:

1) I don't usually like scones, there is something about them that I just don't like. I think it's because the scones I've had in the past have been really dry.
2) Normally I don't eat any sort of baked good with fruit in it; pies, danishes, fruit crisps, you name, I don't like it. There is just something about hot fruit that grosses me out.

For some reason though, when I saw this recipe for Juicy Strawberry Scones, I had to make them. Maybe it's because everything on Good Things Catered looks absolutely delicious? That must be it.

I don't think mine really look like scones, but they are so good. I added extra strawberries because I was afraid it they would be too dry (that was silly, the name of this recipe is Juicy Strawberry Scones.) I also omitted the orange zest because I was out of oranges and didn't know it until it was too late. I think I'm going to make another batch soon, minus some strawberries and with the zest. I can only imagine how amazing they are when the recipe is followed exactly!

Juicy Strawberry Scones
from: Good Things Catered

2 1/4 - 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour (depends on how ripe your strawberries are)
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 c. yogurt
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp orange zest
1 c. fresh strawberries, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment

In small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, milk, zest, whisk to combine thoroughly and set aside. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, powder, salt, and whisk to combine.

Using pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until all pieces are smaller than pea-sized. Add strawberries, and toss to coat. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix in lightly with fork until dough just comes together.

Turn dough out onto well floured work surface and pat into large ball. Cut dough in half. Shape half of dough into flat disk shape and cut into 8 slices.

Place on baking sheet and repeat with other half of dough. Sprinkle tops of scones with sugar and place in the oven. Bake until turn slightly brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool


My New Favorite Treat

We had so much left over chocolate fondue, I was trying to think of ways to use it besides just eating it or freezing it. I'm not quite sure where I got the idea for Chocolate Banana Pops, but I decided to make some and let me tell you, I'm so glad I did. Besides the fact the are super easy to make, I figure they're a healthier dessert than a big old bowl of ice cream or piece of cake... and they taste so, so, SO, good!

Chocolate Banana Pops

4 large bananas
Melted Chocolate (I used left over Mexican Chocolate Fondue)
Crushed peanuts, cereal, candy, or crackers (I used peanuts, Kashi Go Lean Crunch, and Cinnamon Wheat Thins)
8 Popsicle Sticks or Skewers
Wax Paper
Baking Dish (I used 13x9)

Line dish with wax paper. Cut bananas in half and insert skewer and place in baking dish. Place in freezer uncovered for about 2 hours

After bananas have been in the freezer, melt chocolate and pour into baking dish or bowl. Roll banana in chocolate to coat. Roll in crushed topping of your choice.

Place back in dish and put in the freeze. I like to let mine sit overnight, I keep the dish uncovered for a few hours and then I put the lid on.


A Family Favorite

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, it's definitely one my favorite things she bakes. I'm not sure if these turned out quite as good as hers, but still pretty darn close. These cookies are different than what I normally like. These are chewy and crunchy all at the same time, I'm not really sure how to describe them except, Delicious!

Roxanne's Coconut Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 baking soda
1/2 cup shortening (MIL does 1/4 c margarine and 1/4 c shortening)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup oats
1 cup coconut

In large bowl cream shortening, margarine, and sugars until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Blend flour mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in oats and coconut

Drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet. Bake 375 for 9 - 12 minutes.

This batch made 14 large cookies for me.


Cinco de Mayo

Hope you had a fun Cinco de Mayo! I ran into my friend Kari in the afternoon so we decided to go grab a beer and I got a cool beer poncho....... (!!!)

For dinner, I made Julie's fabulous chicken enchiladas, black beans and rice seasoned with baby bam and a little bit of lime juice, and I made Mexican Chocolate Fondue. The fondue was so good, the only problem is we have wayyyy to much leftover. (although, too much chocolate is never really a problem) :)

Mexican Chocolate Fondue
from Rachel Ray

1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) chocolate chips *I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon chile powder + more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + more to taste
Pinch salt

1. Melt chocolate. Add all ingredients. Stir until well blended

2. Devour

Rachel Ray suggests using cinnamon donut holes for dippers. We used pineapple, apples, bananas, and homemade cinnamon and sugar chips.



I've heard other bloggers rave about this dish but wasn't convinced. After seeing it on Annie's Eats I finally decided to give it a shot. I don't like shrimp so I substituted chicken and it was just delicious. Next time I make it I'm going to add some crushed red pepper to give it a little kick.

Penne al a Betsy
adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

1lb penne pasta
3 tbsp. butter, divided
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. large shrimp (I used 3 small chicken breasts)
1 small white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 can plain tomato sauce (8oz)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Chopped Basil leaves, to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Melt 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook. Remove to a plate to let cool. (I cut the chicken into small pieces before I cooked it)

Heat 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil in the skillet. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally. Add the wine (or chicken broth) to the pan and let it evaporate for a few minutes. Chop the basil and parsley and set aside. Stir in tomato sauce and add the heavy cream, stir well to combine. Add chicken back to the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and basil, mix well.

Add pasta to sauce and mix to combine. Serve


I'm a cheater...

I used refrigerated cookie dough for this recipe. There, I said it. I feel like such a fake! I really did plan on making these from scratch as found on Baking Bites. Unfortunately, I just didn't have the time. I seriously felt a sense of shame when I purchased the tube of cookie dough - how silly is that?? These cookies were the Million Dollar Winner from the Pillsbury Bake-Off competition. It's funny to think a "million dollar cookie" uses refrigerated cookie dough.

Even though these cookies won, for some reason I wasn't expecting much. I was happily proven wrong! They are DELICIOUS! I love the taste of the cinnamon and the peanut butter filling. I'm going to make another batch of these soon (from scratch!) and bring them into work, I just know my coworkers will love them.

Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies
by: Carolyn Gurtz, winner of Pillsbury Bake-Off Competition

1/4 cup Dry Roasted Peanuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury Create ‘n Bake refrigerated peanut butter cookies, well chilled *Make sure your dough is almost frozen. I just took mine out of the fridge and it was kind of hard to work with.

Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix chopped peanuts, granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside

In another small bowl, stir peanut butter and powdered sugar until completely blended. Shape mixture into 24 (1-inch) balls.

Cut roll of cookie dough into 12 slices. Cut each slice in half crosswise to make 24 pieces; flatten slightly. Shape 1 cookie dough piece around 1 peanut butter ball, covering completely. Repeat with remaining dough and balls.

Roll each covered ball in peanut mixture; gently pat mixture completely onto balls. On ungreased large cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.

Spray bottom of drinking glass with No-Stick Cooking Spray; press into remaining peanut mixture. Flatten each ball to 1/2-inch thickness with bottom of glass. Sprinkle any remaining peanut mixture evenly on tops of cookies; gently press into dough. I omitted this

Bake 7 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Store tightly covered.

Crispy Oat Drops

What’s a girl to do when the tornado sirens start goin off and she’s just about to make cookies? Throw the ingredients in the cabinets so they stay safe…..

I know, like that will really protect them, right? Well besides that I grabbed my purse, my laptop, and my brand spankin new running shoes (I had just gotten home from buying them) and put everything by the door into our basement. Just in case!

As the sirens continued to go and the police kept driving around our neighborhood running their sirens, I decided I would at least make the batter and stick it in the fridge. I planned on making peanut butter cookies, but my husband ate all the peanuts so that was out of the question. Then, I was going to make my MIL’s cookies, but didn't have enough coconut. So I turned to my handy Cookie Bible, and decided to make Crispy Oat Drops. The sirens finally stopped and the news programs went back to regularly scheduled programming, so I baked the cookies. Last night I thought they were really good - had a few today and I’m gonna go with DAYUM GOOD! I brought some into work today and they went super fast.

Crispy Oat Drops
from The Cookie Bible

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (omitted, I didn’t realize I didn’t have any until it was too late)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups (1 12-ounce package) M&M'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Baking Bits
1 cup toasted rice cereal
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (omitted)
(I also added about 1 tsp of Vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In medium bowl combine flour, oats, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; blend flour mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in M&M's Chocolate Mini Baking Bits, cereal, coconut and pecans.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls* about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 13 minutes** or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. (Mine made 43)

* I flattened some of my cookies out on the cookie sheet and some I didn't. The ones I didn't flatten out you can really taste the rice krispies. If you're a rice krispie lover, I suggest not flattening the cookies.

** The cooking time on these was a bit tricky, the bottoms seemed to get dark quickly. I ended up taking them out of the oven when the bottoms started to get dark and the cookie didn't quite seem done. Then I let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few more minutes before transferring to wire racks.