Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last hour or so............

Just wanted to remind you that you only have until midnight Eastern Standard time today to answer my question and enter my giveaway. Good luck and thanks!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


DSC01353In keeping with my current theme of fast and easy here's  another "recipe" that falls right into that category!

I saw this over at Our Best Bites about a month ago and have made it several times.

It's more a method than a recipe.


DSC01340  DSC01344   DSC01344DSC01345









  • Cookies dough (any flavor, homemade or store bought)
  • Ice cream (any flavor, homemade or store bought)
  • hot fudge or chocolate sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • caramel or butterscotch sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • toasted nuts, sprinkles or chocolate chips
  • whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350. Fill ramekins about 1/2 full of cookie dough. Bake in preheated oven for about 12-14 minutes or until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle.Remove from oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with caramel and chocolate sauces.

Each time I've made these I only made a few and went with chocolate chip cookie dough and vanilla ice cream.  I did add caramel and chocolate sauce to Jalen's but left everyone else's plain. This is one of those rare desserts where you CAN make everyone happy.

Good news, the boys baseball team came out on top this weekend.  They won USSSA's 13:U Battle of the Bats tournament!  The whole team did battled all weekend long as three out of four games went down to the wire!  Go sting!

Please remember in order to enter my giveaway you need to answer this question.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Monkey Bread Muffins

A couple of weeks ago Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod made these muffins for her hubby and if you remember this post you're not surprised I had to give these a try.  These were (are!) sooooo good.  Yes, they use *gasp* refrigerated dough but you know what?  I'm totally okay with that.  (sorry Maria :)) 


I've eaten and made monkey bread many times and used various recipes but this is my new favorite!  It probably has something to do with the fact that each muffins is covered in a generous amount of yummy caramel.  :) I also like the individual servings, mini monkey bread! 


Here's Maria's recipe .  I made my muffins a little different and have noted it in (red).

Monkey Bread Muffins

4 cans of refrigerated biscuits, I used Pillsbury (I only used 1 ten count can. You could certainly use homemade biscuit dough or whatever brand/type you want.)

Cinnamon (be generous, cinnamon is your friend)

Sugar (I have a cinnamon sugar shaker so I used it)

1 stick of butter (I used salted)

1 cup of brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. (Be sure to spray the top of the muffin pan as the caramel mixture bubbles up and over.)

2. Cut the biscuits in half and roll the dough into little balls. (I cut mine into quarters and didn't roll them)

3. Combine the cinnamon and sugar. I use extra cinnamon:) Roll the balls in the mixture.  (I tossed the dough into a bowl and generously sprinkled cinnamon sugar over it.  Toss well to make certain the dough is adequately covered with the cinnamon sugar.)

4. Place four balls in one muffin cup. Fill the pan.  (In all but three of the muffins before placing the dough I added some chopped pecans and then filled the cup with four pieces of dough.)

5. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small pot on the stove. Stir until melted and bubbly.  (You could use a different "caramel" recipe, store bought, or melt down those caramel candies (sorry, Julia) but I suggest just using this one; works fine, taste good!)

6. Pour the gooey sauce over the muffins. (I made the whole caramel recipe yet only made 10 muffins so, I saved a little bit for another use.  I also topped the dough that had pecans on the bottom with more pecans.  Besides the pecans you could add in chocolate chips or in my case cinnamon ones. )

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. (I checked mine at 10 but they weren't done.  Though I did notice that some of the caramel mixture was precariously close to bubbling over the pan's edge and onto my oven floor so I hurriedly put the muffin pan onto a cookie sheet and baked for about 5 more minutes.)

8. Cool for a minute in pan. Remove muffins from pan and enjoy. (With my one can of biscuits I made 10 muffins which was perfect for my family of five but you could certainly use a smaller can of biscuits or as many cans as you'd like.  Just adjust the recipe accordingly.  This recipe is very forgiving!)

**If you don't want to make muffins, you can do a big monkey bread loaf in a bundt pan. Just layer the balls and pour the gooey sauce over them. It will take longer to bake, 35-40 minutes.**


Joe thinks everything is better with vanilla ice cream so he added some to his muffin.  Speaking of ice cream..... I've got a mega ice cream post I'm working on.  Stay tuned!  :)

Awhile back I made Maria's cinnamon syrup but unfortunately I didn't get any photos.  I kept thinking I'd make another batch and take some pics but it hasn't happened. I made the syrup for the kids to top their school morning Eggo waffles.  It was a hit and a nice change from their Hungry Jack syrup.  The recipe doesn't say but it will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Answer this question and enter my two book giveaway!

Monday, April 20, 2009

S'mores Bread Pudding

DSC01381When you have bread going stale what do you make?  Why bread  pudding of course!  And if you're me S'mores bread pudding to be exact! :)

I remembered drooling over Peabody's photos of her S'mores Bread Pudding awhile back and new this was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. 


I checked out the recipe since it had been a while and I couldn't  find the printout in the stack of ten thousand sheets I have lying in a mountainous pile.What I found after checking the recipe was that she used a Hot Chocolate bread.  Well, I wasn't making one and the whole point of the bread pudding was to use up my leftover baguette.  Not to be deterred I decided to adapt the recipe to suit my purpose and taste.  I think I did pretty good though I'm sure had I followed her recipe I would have also been happy. 

S’mores Bread Pudding (my adaptations in red)

1 Guatemalan Hot Chocolate Bread (recipe follows)- cut up into square pieces (I used 1 loaf of french bread.)

1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup whole milk  (I used 2%)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

10 graham crackers
¾ cup mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet Guittard chocolate chips)
2 cups marshmallows (give or take, the amount is really up to you, I used minis)

Butter a 8-x-8-inch pan.  (1 souffle dish)
Whisk together the heavy whipping cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks, egg and vanilla extract. Set aside, this is the custard mixture.  (I cut up my baguette and added it to the custard mixture.   I left the bread soaking in the custard and stirred it occasionally until most of the custard was soaked up by the bread.)
Sprinkle bread pieces on the bottom of the pan so that the pan is covered. (I layered the custard soaked bread, graham crackers, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips in the souffle dish.  One layer of bread pudding, one layer of graham cracker, liberally sprinkled with mini marshmallows,chocolate chips, and another layer of bread pudding followed by the graham crackers.)  Break graham crackers in to pieces (I keep mine in whole pieces. Just breaking off pieces to fit my dish.) and sprinkle evenly half of them on top of the bread. Sprinkle evenly half of the chocolate chips as well. Add 1/3 of the custard mixture and press bread down so that the custard soaks in. You may need more custard depending on how dry your bread is. Then add bread pieces again, followed by remaining graham crackers and chocolate chips. Add another 1/3 of the custard mixture and again press the bread down to make sure all the bread pieces get soaked with custard. Keep adding the custard until all of the piece are soak through with custard. You will most likely have both bread pieces and custard left over (I didn't have any of either leftover), feel free to make a mini one.
Place dish in a water bath and bake at 350F for 1 hour. After the first 20 minutes, place aluminum foil on top of the bread pudding to prevent the graham cracker pieces and top of the bread from browning too much.
When the bread pudding comes out of the oven, immediately (I added more chocolate chips and then the marshmallows) spread marshmallows on top to allow them to melt. You can use a kitchen torch (Joe used our kitchen torch) or place under a broiler to get the toasted marshmallow look. Top with chocolate syrup (The kids and I don't do a lot of chocolate so we left off the syrup.) and serve warm (or hot or cold for me).

DSC01387The sitter, Miss Karolyn and the twins really liked the it.  Babygirl was too slow so she missed out.  Devon, my unofficial taste tester said it was good but that the Bananas Foster one was better.  (I think it was the Bananas Foster sauce that put it over the edge!) I admit to liking this better after it cooled substantially. When I first tasted it still warm (hot) from the oven I didn't like how "wet" the bread still was  (I DO NOT like mushy, soggy  textures! EW!) but after it cooled to room temperature it was perfect, moist with a yummy custardy flavor but not soggy.


I broke out my new kitchen torch and (finally) used it or rather Joe did to toast the marshmallows.  I was a little timid and kept worrying we'd burn the house down or at least each other.  He did a good job.  Did ya see all those lovely toasted marshmallows?


**Please let me know if I missed something in the recipe or if I didn't explain myself well.

Don't forget to answer my question with your opinion and enter my giveaway!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

S'mores Brownies two ways

I'm sure it's not a shock to read that I love s'mores (desserts).  Here's the crazy thing, I've never had an actual s'mores. You know,  everyone's fave campfire treat, the kind with the marshmallows roasted over an open fire. I've made toaster oven s'mores and many other s'mores like desserts but never the real deal.


These first S'mores Brownies were pretty good and were made using a boxed brownie mix. Unfortunately I overcooked the brownies and thus the graham cracker crust a bit.  The brownies sit atop a  graham cracker crust and  its crowning glory is a yummy layer of oven melted marshmallows.  Sandwiched between the two (should have been) a gooey fudgy brownie. Sounds good right? So you know I was bummed when I sampled one and found my brownies were not gooey or fudgy. 


I made these for Devon, one of the twins to take to school along with a pan of white chocolate blondies but because they didn't turn out as well as I wanted I didn't send them. Against my better judgement Devon convinced me to send in two for his teacher to try.  (He came back with the message....she liked them!) I didn't follow a recipe just an idea of what I wanted.  


The second S'mores Brownies I made were inspired by the ones I saw on the blog, Joy the Baker.  Being that the Twins had baseball practice and it was moved indoors I figured I would take the brownies to practice but after taking them out of the oven I realized that they would be a bit messing to cut and serve.  I took the recipe's concept of adding marshmallows and graham cracker pieces into the batter to make it "smores" and instead of making homemade brownies I used a box mix.  (Original recipe provided below) I did add a bit more marshmallows and graham cracker pieces which lead to their being a tad difficult to cut.  While I liked these, especially warmed up and topped with vanilla ice cream, I wasn't crazy about them.   I've come to realize while the concept of a s'mores brownies is a good one it doesn't translate well.  In both of these the brownie was the dominant taste. Don't get me wrong some (brownie lovers) might enjoy both of these  but for me s'mores are more about the gooey marshmallows and graham crackers than the chocolate.  If you want something that is reminiscent of those yummy campfire treats give these a S'mores Bars or even these.


S’mores Brownies

     adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1991

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup graham cracker, roughly crushed with your hands
  • 12 big marshmallows  (I also diced 6 additional marshmallows and stirred them into the batter. These marshmallows dissolve when baked, so you can leave them out, or throw them in.  Up to you!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9×13-inch baking pan with 2-inch-high sides. Combine first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Stir butter and chocolate in a medium sized bowl over a  heavy  saucepan of simmering water.  Stir chocolate and butter in this double boiler until melted and smooth.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Stir in warm chocolate mixture, then dry ingredients. Fold in graham crackers.  Pour batter into prepared pan. Dot with 12 large marshmallows.  Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30- 40 minutes minutes.

Marshmallows will be browned and puffy but will deflate as the brownies cool.  Cool for at least 20 minutes than slice with a sharp knife, cleaning the knife with hot water if it gets too messy and sticky.  Serve or wrap individually in wax paper for storing.

Answer this question to enter this giveaway.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Spring!

Hey, everyone! Hope you're having a Happy Easter or Passover!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thank you(s) are in order

Unbelievably in March I won THREE different giveaway!  I probably should have played the lotto. 

DSC01332The first giveaway I won was Grace's Barney Butter.  Unlike many I'm not a fan of peanut butter and will shy away from it unless paired with chocolate, so I was super psyched to be selected as one of the Barney Butter winners on  A Southern Grace

Barney Butter is an almond butter.  It is healthy and yummy alternative to peanut butter.  To read more about the health benefits of it click here


As soon as my jar of Barney Butter arrived I quickly grabbed a spoon, broke the seal, and dug into the jar of crunchy almond butter.  I admit to preferring almond butter over peanut butter when straight from the jar but I'm still unconvinced that I like it with chocolate over peanut butter.  DSC01311

The following night Babygirl and I slathered some of the almond butter on to graham crackers and topped it all off with a dollop of marshmallow fluff!   Oh, man, talk about good! We wolfed those down as we played cards.  The other dessert I made was one I saw on Sydney's blog, The Crepes of Wrath.  I made some changes to the recipe and have noted them in red.  The bars were made for Babygirl's art teacher's birthday. She said her art teacher shared them with everyone and that there were no complaints.  :-)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
from Velvet Lava

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (1/2 cup, 1 stick)
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (1/2 cup almond butter)
3 cups powdered sugar (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used 18whole graham crackers to make the crumbs)  (9whole graham cracker sheets)
1 2/3 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (1 cup semi-sweet)

1. Line and grease a 9×13 (7"x11") inch pan with aluminum foil. In a food processor, grind up your graham crackers (unless you have store-bought crumbs).
2. Add the butter, peanut butter, and sugar to your crumbs and process until a ball forms (you can also beat everything together in your mixer if your processor/blender/whatever can’t do it).
3. Press the mixture into the pan. I found that using my hands worked best.
4. Over a double-boiler, or carefully in the microwave or in a small sauce pan over the stove, melt the chocolate chips, stirring often to prevent burning. Spread the melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture.
5. Chill in refrigerator for about an hour. (When I pulled my bars out of the fridge the chocolate looked like it had bloomed and had dots when it came to room temp. You can see them in the photos.) Allow to come to room temperature before cutting into squares. Store in the refrigerator, or better yet, the freezer! Makes 20-24 bars.(I cut mine smallish so I got about that many.)


I would make them again but I'm not certain I'd use the almond butter.  I think I'd like to try them with peanut butter.

DSC01417The second giveaway I won was over at  Bunny's Warm Oven.  The  name that was selected would win a $20 Macys gift card which happened to be me!  I haven't used it yet. I'm saving it for something special!

The last  giveaway I won was on A Duck in Her Pond. Though it was totally awesome that I won the other two giveaways this one was special.  I won a short story/book written especially for me by Duckie!  She has been working on it and sent me a rough draft the other day.  I'm so excited and can not wait to see and read the finished book. 

Thanks, Grace, Bunny, and Duckie for the chance to win such cool prizes!  For a chance to win a couple of (I hope) cool prizes please click here and leave me your opinion! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Look familiar?

DSC01260 These yummy sugar cookie bars might look familiar as they've been making the rounds lately.  I originally saw them on the blog One Ordinary Day, then on The Repressed Pastry Chef, and AGAIN on My Baking Addiction


I had printed out the recipe from One Ordinary Day when I first saw them there and had every intention of making them but one of the Twins' teachers had something else in mind when she requested a treat for her class.  So they were pushed to the side for another day.  After seeing these pop up and raved about on two more awesome blogs I couldn't put them off any longer. 


I'm not crazy about sugar cookies but I am crazy about these.  They really are all they are hyped to be. Blondies and Snickerdoodle ones are still my favorite but these are an excellent alternative. 


I was worried that they might be overly sweet so I cut back on the sugar (about a 1/4 cup) but after tasting the bars I  think next time  add the full amount. I topped my bars with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles but had intended to frost only half of the pan with it and the other half with Em's Buttercream Dream Icing.  I didn't softened enough sticks of butter, grrrr, so I was forced to frost the whole thing with the cream cheese frosting. The  recipe is from Simply Recipes and is the one I used to top my red velvet cupcakes.


If you haven't already please hop over to this post to leave me your opinion and enter my giveaway.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Question....

Okay, I've got a couple of questions for you and information about my giveaway

In my posts I generally provide a link to the recipe I made instead of posting the recipe here.   Would you guys rather I give you the recipe or are you okay following the link?  My feelings are that if I provide the recipe here you are less likely to check out the other blog.  My second question is many of the recipes I make are not the previous blog's recipe but an adaptation from another source.  Do I need to state where the recipe originated from if I'm not giving the recipe? 

Giveaway info......In my previous post I mentioned that I would be giving away two books.  The first book is The Food Lover's Companion  and the second  is Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.  Martha's cookbook is not in print yet (June 2nd) so I will be pre-ordering it for the winner. The winner will be announced on Saturday May 2nd and you'll have until Thursday, April 30th to enter.  I'm  going old school and the winner's name will be pulled out of a hat by Babygirl on May the 1st..  Now on to the important stuff how to enter. All you have to do is leave me a response to my questions. Good luck!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

A few weeks ago I while I was visiting the blog, Annie's Eats I saw that she had made Bananas Foster Bread Pudding and that the recipe had won her over.  She says in her post that she hadn't been a fan of bread pudding prior to that recipe.  Already a fan of it I was excited to give the recipe a try. 

I was not disappointed.  The bread pudding was excellent  and the DSC01096 Foster's sauce was even better.  The sauce is one that could be made over and over again to serve with other desserts.  I had some  left over and  topped some vanilla ice cream with it.    The kids loved it as well as the bread pudding.  I would make this again especially the Foster's sauce!  Speaking of making again a few of you asked it I would make again the "sugar cookie" cake from my previous post.  YES, I would!  Sorry I didn't make that clear.  Hope those of you with a love for sugar cookies or just of cake give it a try.

I did have one issue with the recipe.  The amount of "custard" to bread was off.  I had more custard than I needed for the amount of bread used. Unfortunately I didn't realize it until I had added all of the bread (6 cups).  I let my bread soak longer,  in hopes that  it soak up more of the excess custard.  I would have added more bread DSC01104but I used up all I had.  Not being overly bothered by the extra custard I went ahead and spooned it all into my ramekins and souffle dish and baked for the 50 minute.  While the taste of the extra custard was fine the texture was not really smooth.  It was kind of curdly due I'm certain to the mashed bananas (It might help the texture to puree the bananas  in a blender or food processor) but again it didn't effect the taste as the scrapped clean dish can attest!

I baked my bread pudding in six small ramekins and one medium sized souffle dish.  Thinking and looking back at the photos I should have whipped up some heavy cream to top it all with, duh!  Not only would it have added to the overall photo it would have tasted great along with the bread pudding.  I just never think of those "touches" at the time. :(

Baseball update:  We had a double header this past Saturday and won both games.  The exciting part was I had, on the spur of the moment planned a BBQ for the team.  Thankfully everything went well.  Seems everyone was pleased how it turned out and we have decided to do it again this Saturday during another double header.  I did bake for it but didn't get any photos. Maybe next time and to be quite frank while they were tasy they were  not anything special.

Books:  I'm starting to read Bliss by O.Z. Livaneli.  I am actually reading with my friend Wendy and we started to day.  While I was a B&N with Wendy I also picked up a copy of the Food Lover's Companion.  It's a great reference book.  Yes, you can go on the Internet and get the same info but I'm old school and like looking it up in the book.  I also like the convenience of having it by my side. :-)  Okay, you listening?  I'm having my first giveaway!  One of the items I'm giving away is the book Food Lover's Companion and the other is Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.  I'll be pre-ordering you a copy.  It is due to be released on June 2nd. Details soon to follow!