Monday, February 18, 2019

Hershey's Scrumptious Chocolate Layer Bars

 Whenever you want a rich and delicious chocolate dessert, you will absolutely never go wrong with a Hershey recipe. I have several Hershey's cookbooks, and I'm not even kidding when I tell you that every single recipe I've ever made from them has been fabulous. They're well tested, straight forward, and they never disappoint. So, since I wanted to try a new chocolate something, of course I turned to my Hershey's Chocolate Treasures cookbook, and here we are!
 At first, I wasn't thinking of doing any kind of bars or squares because I already have so many brownie recipes (not that there's anything wrong with having new brownie recipes, but I was looking for something different.) Then I saw this recipe, and knew this was the one! I love that the top and bottom layers are not chocolate, so it looks like pretty stripes when you cut into it. I also love that it has almond extract in it, since I recently discovered that my niece, Terri, is a big fan of almond flavoring. The technique was also easy, tried and true. You make one dough, which serves as both the top and bottom layers, and then add a fabulous filling. In this case, the filling is cream cheese and melted chocolate chips. Are you kidding? Seriously? They had me at cream cheese! 
 So if you're looking to try a new chocolate something, try this one! It hits every single note and it will absolutely satisfy every single chocolate craving!

12 ounces pkg. Hershey's semisweet chocolate chips or mini chips
1 package (8 ounce size) cream cheese
1 can (5.3 ounce size) evaporated milk
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/3 cup sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

 Combine chocolate chips, cream cheese and evaporated milk in medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts, sesame seeds (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Blend well; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in large mixer bowl. Blend well with mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press half of mixture in greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Spread with chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with rest of crumbs over filling; bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. 

I didn't not include walnuts or sesame seeds in my filling. Tbh, if I were to add nuts to it, I think I would prefer almonds (to continue the almond theme) or pecans (since walnuts are not really my favorite).
The dough was a little more gooey than I had anticipated, so I just chilled it for a bit which made it easier to cut in half, and also to crumble over the top.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Slow Cooker Chocolate Strawberry Cobbler

 Are you looking for a rich, decadent, chocolate something to share with your special someone? THIS is the dessert you've been looking for! It's seriously one of the easiest and most delicious recipes you'll ever make, and I swear it will satisfy all of your chocolate cravings! Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you have the perfect date night dessert!
 Wait..  actually, come to think of it, it makes quite a lot.. so guess what.. to hell with date night! Make it for your next party of chocolate lovers! I promise you'll get rave reviews!!! That's really all I have to say about it. ANYONE can make this!! So, what are you waiting for?? And if you don't have a slow cooker, then you need to get one ASAP!!

2 cans strawberry pie filling
1 chocolate fudge cake mix
1 stick butter
vanilla ice cream

Ok here we go. This is about as easy as it gets. Dump the pie filling into the bottom of your slow cooker in one even layer. Now pour the dry cake mix over the pie filling. Slice the stick of butter into small pats, and place them all over the top of the cake mix. Place the cover on your slow cooker and cook it on high for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. That's all there is to it!
Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Of course you can do any kind of pie filling or any kind of cake mix you like. Mix and match different flavors! The technique remains the same!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch Brownies

 Ok, lemme just say this right from the start, I'm am not the biggest fan of MINT. There. I said it. I mean, yeah, it's ok, but just not as the MAIN flavor of something. Otherwise, all I can think of is Altoids or toothpaste. The one mint thing I DO happen to love, however, is Girl Scouts' Thin Mint Cookies. I guess it's because the mint isn't so overpowering, and they are the perfect blend of chocolate and mint flavor. So I thought, well, lets put them into a brownie! Not an original thought, I know, but still a good one, and worth further research. Yes, yes, I know I could just buy a brownie mix, throw in some chopped cookies, and call it a day, but I usually don't like to use a boxed mix. That would take all the fun out of it!
  So I started looking for Thin Mint Brownie recipes. I found a TON of them, but many of them go VERY far with the whole mint thing. Adding mint extract to chocolate ganache, adding Andes Candies to buttercream, and on and on. Altoids, again. Sorry. Is it so much to ask for just the right brownie recipe with a thin mint crunch? I actually started to think, well, maybe what I really do want is a boxed mix and some chopped cookies.
 But then I found this fabulous recipe from a website called The Daily Meal, and it's exactly what I wanted. A scratch brownie with the thin mint crunch. Simple, easy, not complicated, and no Altoids. Could I still just do a boxed brownie mix and stir in some cookies? Of course, but I'll always go from scratch if I can help it!!

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c butter  
2 c sugar  
4 eggs 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract  
1 c flour  
1/4 tsp salt 
2 c Thin Mint cookies, chopped

 Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Brush a 13- by 9-inch pan with butter. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large bowl over a double boiler. Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time being careful to incorporate each egg. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt at once. Stir to combine. Fold in half of the chopped cookies. Spread the brownie batter evenly in the pan, and top with the remaining chopped cookies. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before slicing and serving.

 Instead of unsweetened chocolate, I used dark chocolate chips. Use what you have!
If Girl Scout Cookies aren't available, add any other kind of cookie you like! If you're still feeling the mint thing, use Mint Oreos!
 Btw, I didn't even measure 2 cups of cookies. I just used an entire box!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Guinness Caramelized Onion Dip

  When you think of onion dip, just regular basic onion dip, you usually think of mixing sour cream with onion soup mix, correct? It's been one of those standard no-fuss recipes that everyone has made for ages and ages, and it always goes over well with a bowl of potato chips. But what if we take that onion dip and turn up the volume??
 This onion dip is absolutely MILES ahead of the old stand by as far as flavor is concerned. It just has a depth of flavor that you just can't get from a box of soup mix. Think of it as the difference between fresh vegetables and canned vegetables. There's just no comparison, right? So, for this onion dip, it's kind of like that. Plus you get the added bonus of skipping all that extra sodium. It takes a little bit of time, but it's really worth that extra effort to develop those deep flavors. And it's a total do ahead, so you'll wind up saving time in the long run. This is my tweaked version of a recipe I found on a blog called Home Cooking Memories. If you like onion dip, then this one is definitely next on your must-do list!

5 cups Vidalia or other sweet onions, about 3 large
4 tbs butter
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (12oz) bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

  Chop the onions down to small dice. Melt butter in a large heavy pan over low-medium heat. Add the chopped onions and let them slowly caramelize. Don't rush this step! This will take a good 20-30 minutes. Every few minutes, give it a good stir to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the onions have turned a dark-amber color, stir in the garlic and continue to saute for a few more minutes. Add the whole bottle of beer. Stir again to make sure nothing is stuck to the pan. Turn up the heat just until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat back down again to simmer. Let it simmer until just about all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat. Set aside.
 In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until smooth and creamy. Stir in the onion mixture. Place the bowl in the fridge until chilled. Just before serving, give it a final stir, just to make sure it's all creamy and delish. Garnish with a few chopped scallions, if you like. Serve with your favorite potato chips.

Ok, let me say this again because I can't stress it enough.. do NOT rush cooking the onions! Just let them go low and slow. Perfection takes time!! It's a MUCH bigger pay off in the end!
You decide how dark you want them. I like to let them go very dark, almost brown. The flavor just gets deeper and deeper as you go.
You can use a food processor to chop the onions, but I prefer to do them by hand. I like to be able to control the size of the dice, and it's one less thing to wash. Besides that, you don't want them to be too finely minced because then they'll nearly disintegrate as you saute them. A little texture is a good thing! If you're not sure how to do them by hand, just watch my video How to Cut an Onion !
The original recipe said to completely cool the onions before mixing them into the creamed mixture. I didn't, but just chilled the whole thing after. It's still fabulous either way.
For an extra added twist, try adding a a few pinches of fresh thyme leaves as you saute your onions. It gives another layer of flavor that really goes well with sauteed onions! Yum.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Joey's Better Than Buffalo Chicken Dip

  Every so often, I'll look through my recipe archives for a specific classic go-to recipe, only to discover that it's not there because, oops, I never posted it. What the hay!! How does this keep happening?? Well, after 11 years and nearly a THOUSAND recipes, (yes really!) I guess it's hard to mentally keep track of every recipe I've ever posted!
 So, after going to my sister Patty's house for dinner and having some of my niece Tory's fabulous Buffalo Chicken Dip, I thought this would be PERFECT for the group hang that I was planning. But, you guessed it, I looked in the archive and it was nowhere to be found. OK! I guess it's time fix that!
 So, thanx, Tory, for texting me the recipe, but as usual, I tweaked it ever so slightly. I used more chicken than she said to use, because well, more is more! And Full Disclosure: I'm not really a fan of the usual hot sauce typically used on Buffalo Chicken Wings. Frankly, it's been years (probably decades) since I've eaten wings, and chances are I asked for the hot sauce to be served on the side. What can I say? It's just not my favorite thing. So when I started making this dip, I decided to swap out the hot sauce for Sriracha, which I think has a MUCH better flavor. My friends LOVED it! But we decided that it kind of no longer tastes like Buffalo Chicken. This one is BETTER! Hence the name.
 So there you have it. It has great flavor and just enough heat that doesn't smack you in the face. Actually, it's really more of a slow burn that sort of sneaks up on you, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Now that this is officially posted, I think I might keep it in the rotation for a while!
My friends loved it, and I bet yours will too!

4 cans chunk chicken, drained
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1/4 cup Ranch dressing
1/4 cup Bleu Cheese Dressing
1/4  cup Sriracha
chopped scallions for garnish, if you'd like

Mix everything together, pour it into a small baking dish, then either heat it up in the microwave or bake it in the oven until it's all melty. Serve with Wheat Thins, Scoops chips, or celery sticks.

 I think by now you know what I'm gonna say. If you like a lot of something, add a lot! Do you LOVE Sriracha? Add a lot! Do you LOVE Ranch dressing? Add a lot! And if you love the usual hot sauce instead of sriracha, go for it! You do you!
I used canned chunk chicken, but if you have leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, just finely shred it and use it up!