Cookie Carnival: Fudge Cookies with Toffee and Dried Cherries

Well, maybe not quite. But, Cookie Carnival is Back!

CC was on a break in January and I just didn't have time to participate in December. I'm so glad it's back. This month Kate chose Fudge Cookies with Toffee and Dried Cherries from Regan Daley. I was happy to see we were baking chocolate cookies this month, but cringed when I saw the dried cherries. I don't like cherries. I planned on just leaving them out when I decided to take the cookies a whole different route.... Chocolate and Orange.

Have you ever had a bite of an orange and then popped a piece of dark or bittersweet chocolate in your mouth? Heaven. It's a simple combination that tastes (almost) luxurious. It's a wonderful way to indulge. I've been on an orange kick the past couple weeks. I like to pair it with dark Hershey kisses from time to time. With all the chocolate in this recipe I knew adding orange would be a sure winner. I've also developed an obsession with lime recently and at the very last minute decided to add lime zest and lime juice to the recipe as well.
The result was a fresh, citrus-y flavored cookie. The orange and lime didn't overpower the chocolate, but they really complimented it. Matt liked these, I absolutely loved them. I was going to give them to Matt to take the work, but decided my freezer would make a much better home. Next time we have Mexican and some Corona I think these cookies will make a great addition :)

Fudgy Orange Cookies
(orange fudge cookies? chocolate chunk orange cookies?)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 + 1tbsp granulated sugar, separated
2 large eggs
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Zest and Juice (mine was about 1/4 cup) of 1 orange
Zest and Juice of 1 lime


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. line two heavy baking sheets, not non-stick, with parchment paper and set aside. sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl mix orange and lime zest with 1tbsp of sugar.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until light in colour and fluffy, about 2 minutes. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. beat in the orange and lime juice. stir in the flour-mixture in 3 additions, blending just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the chunky ingredients and mix until they seem evenly distributed.
Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets and place them in the center of the oven. bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes, or until barely set in the center and just firm around the edges. I have no clue how long mine baked, I just watched them until they looked almost done, but still sort of gooey. cool the cookies on the tray for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before storing.

So Kate, thank you so much for choosing this recipe. I know I wondered pretty far off the reservation with this one, but I definitely used the guidance of the original recipe. To check out the original recipe, please go visit Kate at The Clean Plate Club!

Julie's Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

I don't have any pictures of this recipe, but it's so good I wanted to share. I've heard all sorts of rave reviews about Julie's Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken but have never tried it. The other day I finally decided to give it a try. The chicken was moist and very flavorful. It was excellent paired with some of her fabulous No-Fail Mexican Rice and corn and black beans seasoned with cumin, paprika, and cilantro. It was also delicious in a salad for lunch the next day. I have a feeling this will become a staple in our house!

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons lime juice


In a small bowl, mix together salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and parsley. Sprinkle spice mixture generously on both sides of chicken breasts. Note from Julie: she usually use a little less salt, and doubles the rest of the spices so there is plenty to coat the chicken

Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until golden brown, about 6 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons garlic powder and lime juice. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently to coat evenly with sauce.

PS: Julie and I teamed up tonight and decorated some very unique cookies . Stay tuned for a post about that on Sunday.

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

Disclaimer: I'm well aware at how bad the pictures are. Don't let that stop you from making this cake though. It was divine.

The other day I was sitting here procrastinating and decided to google Chocolate Bundt Cake. One of the first search results was from Food and Wine Magazine... Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze. I saw the picture (much better than mine) and read over the recipe and decided it would be what I do on my break from writing my paper on Sunday. I followed the recipe almost to the T. I did double the glaze and add some white chocolate to the top. I was slightly nervous because it required 1 cup of strong-brewed coffee. I know that coffee intensifies the chocolate flavor, but 1 cup seemed like a lot. I soon found out I was wrong and 1 cup of coffee wasn't too much.

The flavor of this cake is amazing. It's incredibly moist and has a rich chocolaty flavor. The glaze on top is to die for. Matt and I both loved it. It was the perfect dessert for our Sunday meal. I decided I didn't need this hanging out at my house (this bad boy is most definitely NOT diet food!) so I brought it into work for my coworkers. They all absolutely loved it. I got many compliments on how moist it was and the glaze. Even 3 days later my SIL had a slice (I saved a piece for her) and she commented on how moist it was. I will definitely be making this cake again and again!

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze
Source: Food and Wine Website

I wish I would have been more careful with my white chocolate.


Vegetable oil spray
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
*note: I doubled the cream, corn syrup, butter and added additional chocolate. The amounts above are from the original recipe.


Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk; whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. I first checked my cake at 30min and it was no where near being ready. I decided to check it 5min later and it was done. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.

Pour the ganache over the cooled cake.Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving

Make Ahead
The glazed cake can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.


Happy Valentine's Day!

Just a few days late. Matt and I have been together for almost 7 years and we've never been big Valentine's Day people. This year however I was super exctied. Almost the whole fam was going to be in KC this weekend. I love my family and am so sad most of them live in STL and we don't get to see each other all the time.

My cousin and wife that live in DC had a baby back in November. (Actually, I blogged about. It was the day I realized I am not and will never be Martha.) They were coming in so we could all meet little Collin. Saturday night consisted of a fabulous Steak Dinner compliments of Kent (proud member of Gremlin Grill) and then an open house/shower for friends. I decided to make roll out cookies so I could practice using the new Wilton Decorating Tips I got for Christmas.

I'm still not Martha, but the tips make decorating so much easier than the plastic bag trick. I used Royal Icing, but for some reason my icing was super thick. I tried to thin it out by adding extra water/vanilla/food coloring, but it remained thick. It didn't tase bad, but some of the cookies didn't turn out as smooth a I would have liked. I made these cookies last year and don't remember them being this awesome. They are soft and the hint of cinnamon in the dough gives the chocolate just a little kick. The cookies are so good, they honestly would be amazing without the icing. The recipe I used was Chocolate Rollout Cookies from Dori Greenspan and can be found here. Click here for the Royal Icing Recipe

I made between 3 and 4 dozen cookies and there was only one left in the morning. They were a big hit!

And of course, the best Valentine's Day is the one you get to spend with those you love.... (yeah, yeah so corny!)

The guest of honor...

Peanutty Gooey Bars

These bars are good. Seriously Good.

Does anyone else acquire used cookbooks on a pretty regular basis? I always seem to end up with a new(to me) cookbook in my hands. Last month I was over at my aunt and uncle's house and left with 2 or 3 cookbooks and a handful of other books to read. One of those cookbooks is full of Nestle Tollhouse recipes. How can you go wrong with Tolhouse? May not be gourmet, but it's always good.

I found this recipe for Peanutty Gooey Bars in the Nestle Tollhouse book. I woke up a few Sundays ago and had the urge to throw together a yummy treat. I read the recipe name to Matt and his first words were Oh my God, those sound great. Make them. So I did and he was right, they not only sounded great but the tasted great. These are very similar to a Hello Dolly... but better. The recipe is super simple. It comes together in no time. This kind of treat would make a perfect addition to an open house type of gather or a potluck at work.

I did make a few changes to the recipe. I cut back on the nuts and added some chopped PB M&Ms. Also, after I took it out of the oven I decided to add some extra Chocolate (used a mixture of milk and dark) and PB chips while it cooled.

Peanutty Gooey Bars

2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Cup each Peanut Butter Chips Chocolate Chips (plus extra to sprinkle on top if desired)
1 can (14 ounces) Nestle Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped PB M&Ms


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray 8-inch square pan with vegetable cooking spray.
For Crust:
Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in medium bowl; press onto bottom of ungreased 13 X 9-inch baking pan.
For Topping:
Microwave 1 cup morsels, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract in medium microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power 1 minute; stir. Microwave additional 10- to 15-second intervals stirring until smooth. Pour evenly over crust. Top with nuts and remaining morsels. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.
Makes: 2 dozen


Cooking Club - Romantic Dinner for Two

This month's cooking club was so much fun! There were 15 people, lots of laughs and lots of wine. And let's not forget about the amazing food! The menu consisted of:

Feta & Mushroom Bread Tarts
Chicken Fig & Pancetta Bites
Asparagus Salad with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Beef en Croute with Mustard Sauce
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marsala
Minty Mashed Potatoes and Peas
Molten Lava Cakes
Raspberries in Champagne Gelatin

I loved it all. I was surprised I did since I'm so picky. Head over to Julies blog to see pics and get the recipes!

First things first....

Thank You Julie! She's given me the Lemonade award! It's fun knowing someone thinks my blog is refreshing.

Here are the rules:

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate 10 other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

Now for some of my fav blogs. These are blogs that I always look forward to reading.

Ash is Fit
The Ochs Family
My Life in Transition
Cookies with Boys
Chomping the Big Apple
Nikki's Blog
Feed the Moose
Family, Food and Friends
Olive U
My Life Through a Lens


Gooey Double Chocolate Cookies

I found this recipe over on Patsy's blog and decided I had to make it right away. Any recipe with the words Double and Chocolate in name are right up my alley. One thing I love about this recipe in particular is Patsy created it.

I wasn't quite sure how I would do with the recipe because it involves marshmallows. Anytime I've used marshmallows in cookies they end up leaking out of the cookie while in the oven and the cookie spreads quite a bit. I made sure to chill the dough before baking to try and prevent the cookies from spreading. Unfortunately it didn't do much good with the first dozen I baked..

They ended up thin and crispy, not soft and gooey. The next batch I threw in the oven, I made sure the marshmallows were not touching the baking sheet. This seemed to work out much better. The cookies were definitely softer and gooier (is that even a word!?). I loved the chocolate and marshmallow combination, particularly right out of the oven.

I made two changes to the recipe based on the ingredients I had in my house. I used regular cocoa powder instead of dark and used dark chocolate chips instead of milk.

Gooey Double Chocolate Cookies
Source: Family, Friends and Food

1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup Butter flavor Crisco shortening
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Combine brown sugar through vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat a medium speed on a mixer until creamy. Add egg, and blend well.

Combine flour through cocoa powder, then add to the shortening mixture. Beat at a low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Allow about 1-2 inches between each cookie, they don't spread too much.Bake for 9-11 minutes.

Allow to cool on pan for about 4-5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for 5 days, if they last that long.Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies.

Homemade Salsa

I haven't been doing much cooking or baking lately. School is back in full swing and super busy. I have a 5 week class going on right now that is particularly time consuming. I love the fact it's only 5 weeks, but writing research reports every week and then a 20-30pg paper due the last night isn't much fun. The meals I have been making are very simple; things like chilli and tacos.

I was looking through my google reader (which BTW, I am so behind on... I have almost 600 unread posts... yikes!) and saw this recipe for Salsa on Annie's Eats. I've been looking for a good homemade salsa recipe and this my friends, is it. Matt and I love to snack on chips and salsa. In the summer we have nights that we just sit on the deck, drink some Corona and snack on chips and salsa. The Salsa is very flavorful and spicy and super simple to make. (A great excuse to use my food processor and my new juicer!) This will probably be at any get together I have at my house.

Source: Annie's Eats

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and very coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes
1 (28 0z.) can diced tomatoes (drained or not, depending on how much liquid you want in your salsa, I went with not drained)
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
juice of one lime

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the jalapenos and garlic. Process until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add all other ingredients to the food processor. Pulse in very brief pulses until the vegetables have reached the size you desire (it does not take many pulses so don’t overdo it). Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.