Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gooey Cookies and Cream Double Chocolate Cake Bars

 As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. Come to think of it, I can't even remember where I originally saw it. It was probably from someone who pinned it on Pinterest, or posted it on Facebook, or both. I can't remember. (Whenever I see a recipe, I often quickly cut and paste it for future blogging, and half the time I can't even remember where I got it! hehehehe)
 Anyway, you simply MUST make them. They're absurdly easy to make, and they're absolutely decadent! I think the name is a little bit long, though. I just call them Oreo Brownies. Isn't that simpler? Ok, maybe Gooey Oreo Brownies. Well, No matter what you call them, you'll be a hit at any occasion and your family will love you for making them.
Serious yum.

1 Devils Food Cake Mix
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
14 Oreo Cookies, broken into pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with tin foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place cake mix, butter and egg into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Press into prepared baking pan. Top with broken pieces of cookies.
3. Pour sweetened condensed milk over cookies and top with chocolate chips. Bake for 23-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven.
4.  After 5 minutes of cooling, run a plastic knife around edges to loosen, this makes it much easier to remove from foil.  Let cool completely, remove foil from pan, then cut into squares.

 I used parchment paper instead of foil and it worked perfectly. Whenever I make any kind of bars, I always spray the pan with baking spray, place a piece of parchment in the pan with a few inches hanging over each side, and then spray it again with baking spray. After you bake them, place them in the fridge until completely cooled. Then use the paper as a sling to lift the entire batch of brownies out of the pan. It makes it MUCH easier to cut them into squares without ruining your pan.
I used more Oreos and more chips than the recipe suggests. Just sayin'. More is more!
 You can do any kind of variation with this. Add any kind of chopped nuts, or use any combination of cake mix and any kind of chips. I think I might try a peanut butter version. Still use the same devil's food cake, but use Nutter Butters and peanut butter chips or Reese's Pieces on top. Or else I'll do a Blondie version. Yellow cake mix, golden Oreos and white chocolate chips. Yum!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Joey's Better Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

I was recently in a creative mood and was still feeling the Cinco De Mayo vibe, so I thought I'd come up with a new casserole. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get a recipe right, but I think this one was pretty amazing, right from the first go. Claire said it's her new favorite, and Chris had absolutely no problem taking half of the casserole home with him that night. They loved it! The beauty of it is that you can tweak it to make it as spicy or as mild as you like, and it'll always turn out. It's warm and comforting without being too heavy. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Ok, cut to 4 months after the original post when I decided to make it again for my friend Michele. As much as I loved it the first time, I decided to see if I could make it even better. I thought maybe I could pump up the flavor, maybe add a little more heat, just for a little slow burn. So I added a few spices, some chopped chillies, and some garlic and onions. All of these things made it more flavorful, but the biggest aha moment came when I added a cup of red wine. BOOM! That was the answer! It was ABSOLUTELY exactly what I was looking for. And the spices mellowed out so I finally got my slow burn instead of being smacked in the face. It was even better the next day. So here's the updated BETTER recipe.
Michele loved it, and I think you will too!

a few glugs oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs taco seasoning
1 tbs sugar
 a few shakes crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 29 oz can tomato puree
2 cups salsa (I like Tostitos or Pace)
2 cans chopped green chilies
1 tbs chopped jalapenos
1 cup dry red wine
1 rotisserie chicken
4 large burrito size flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Add a few glugs of oil to a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften. Add garlic and spices. Add the puree, salsa, chilies, jalapenos, and wine. Give it a good stir. Let it simmer for a while, even up to an hour or two.
Meanwhile, pull all the chicken off the bones, and shred it into small pieces, discarding any fat or skin. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
Cut 2 flour tortillas in half across the center point, making two semicircles. Place the semicircles in the pan so that the flat edges are against the side of the pan, and the rounded edges are in the center. Cut them to fit, if you need to. Now place half of the chicken in one even layer, then cover with half of the sauce and then half of the cheeses. Repeat each layer again.
Place it in the oven and bake it until the cheese is bubbly and everything is heated through, about 30 minutes. Let it sit for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven. Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or a drizzle of taco sauce.

Make it as spicy as you like! Add more jalapenos, add Tabasco, add HOT salsa to the sauce. You can also add some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a smokier hit. You can even substitute browned ground beef instead of chicken, if you like. Boom.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lemony Lemon Brownies

 Ok ok, yes, I know they're called brownies, but there's no chocolate in them. Why, you say? Well, it's all about the TEXTURE. These delicious bars bake up just like a brownie, with that same moist and almost gooey kind of texture. When I described the Orange Brownies, I said that they were the orange version of "fudgy". These are just like that. They're the lemon version of "fudgy". And they're SO delicious and refreshing! I found them on several different sites, tracing back to a blog called Rita's Recipes. (I just might have to check out some of her other goodies!) Oh, and they're called lemony lemon brownies for a reason. Perhaps they should be called EXTREMELY lemony lemon brownies because the glaze is VERY tart! So be sure to include it!! It's also what gives them the brownie-like texture, which is exactly what I love about them.
You may want to make extra....they won't lest very long!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs, large
2 tbs lemon zest
2 tbs lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt

For the tart lemon glaze:
4 tbs lemon juice
8 tsp lemon zest
1 cup icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish with butter and set aside.
3. Zest and juice two lemons and set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined.
6. Pour it into the flour mixture and beat for 2 mins at medium speed until smooth and creamy.
7. Pour into baking dish and bake for 23-25 mins, should turn golden around the edges.
8. Allow to cool completely before glazing. Do not overbake!
9. Filter the powdered sugar and whisk with lemon zest and juice.
10. Spread the glaze over the brownies with a rubber spatula and let glaze set.
11. Cut into bars and serve.

I doubled the entire recipe and baked it in a 9x13 pan. It turned out beautifully! I didn't double the glaze exactly. I doubled the sugar and lemon juice, but not as much zest as it says.
The directions say to cool them completely before glazing, but I don't see any reason why you couldn't just glaze them in the pan while they're still warm.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bacon Collard Greens

I recently tried cooking collard greens for the very first time. I knew I would probably like them, but I can't even begin to tell you how much I LOVED them!! I've literally made them 3 time since then! I tried them a few different ways, and I think this one was the best. Chris and Claire also loved them. And once again, I believe the word "slammin'" was used. hee hee!
 Serve them up with some corn bread and pork chops or fried chicken. Also goes great with any kind of BBQ or mashed sweet potatoes. Yum! Suddenly I feel like I'm in the South. Maybe I'll make this if Miss Paula ever comes over for dinner....

2 pounds collard greens
4 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped
1 cup chopped sweet onion
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Coarsely chop leaves. In a Dutch oven, saute bacon for 3 minutes. Add onion; cook 8-9 minutes longer or until onion is tender and bacon is crisp. Add greens; cook just until wilted. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes or so. Remove lid and let it simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and greens are very tender.

I know everyone always says that you must remove the stems from the greens before you cook them, but I say that's just a bunch of hooey. The stems are delicious! And frankly, why would you throw away perfectly good food?Just cut off the woody ends, and they'll be fine.
You can make this dish without the sun dried tomatoes, but I tried it, and it's just SO much better with them.
Add as much bacon as you like and as much crushed red pepper flakes as you dare. I'm not really one for spicy food, but I do love the little bit of zing that the pepper flakes bring to it.