Monday, February 27, 2017

Spinach Dip Bites

 Here's an easy appy that I found on a blog called Lil Luna. I was having a few friends over, and I was looking for ideas. At first, I thought of doing the usual spinach dip, but of course I wanted to find some sort of twist. Maybe a picky-uppy kind of something?? Then I saw this and thought BINGO! This is exactly what I had in mind! It was the perfect recipe to assemble in advance and then bake just before my friends arrived. Easy!
 ok, now, I know the recipe calls for shredded mozzarella cheese for the top, but I happened to have shredded cheddar on hand, so I went with it. Use whatever kind you like! Oh, btw, they won't last long. Spinach dip is always a hit at parties, and this is no different!! I promise you,  if you make this, you'll be a hit too!

2 cups frozen spinach, chopped and thawed
1 6 ounce jar Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
1 can seamless crescent dough

Preheat oven to 375.
In a bowl, combine spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Blend in cream cheese and half of your mozzarella cheese. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Using a rolling pin, lay out dough on a cutting board and lightly stretch to a 8 x 12 rectangle. Cut dough into 2 inch squares, so you have 24 squared total.
Lightly grease a mini muffin tin and place a square in each slot, gently pushing down to create an indent. (you don't need to mold to the cup.)
Scoop one teaspoon of your spinach mixture on top of each crescent square and gently push in, (bites will mold to your tin while baking). Spread the remaining mozzarella cheese over the tops of each cup. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before moving from tray.

If you have any extra filling leftover (or even if you just don't feel like doing the cups) just pop the filling into a small baking dish with a little cheese sprinkled over the top and bake as directed. Serve with scoop chips. Boom.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Triple Chocolate Pretzel Brownies

ok, I know I already have TONS of brownie recipes, but seriously, can one ever have too many?? This one is for the serious chocoholic. It's also for those who love a little salty with their sweet. I was in the mood for something CRAZY chocolate when I happened upon these little beauties on a blog called Sally's Baking Addiction. (if you've never seen it, you should definitely check it out!)
 I figured anything called "triple chocolate" deserved a browse, and after reading it, I knew I had found my crazy chocolate something! And let me just tell you, they absolutely live up to their name. SO rich and indulgent and extremely chocolatey. Oh, and btw, they're super easy to make too! You don't even need a mixer!
So, thanx SBA, for another great recipe! Add this one to your brownie repertoire and make this for the chocoholics in your life. You're gonna need a talk glass of milk for this one! Serious yum.

10 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chopped chocolate covered pretzels
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
sea salt

 Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished brownies out.
 Melt the butter, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl in the microwave. Melt in 30 second increments and stir after each time until the butter is completely melted. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the flour, beating with a whisk until fully combined. Gently fold the chocolate covered pretzels into the batter, leaving a few to sprinkle on top. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Scatter the chocolate chips and reserved chocolate covered pretzel pieces on top. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake for 25 minutes and check the brownies for doneness. Insert a toothpick inserted in the center. If it comes out with only a few crumbs, the brownies are done. Do not bake over 30 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.

I used a 9" square pan. If you use an 8" pan, your brownies will be slightly thicker.
Also be sure to line your pan with parchment with enough hanging over to be able to lift them out of the pan. That's always a great tip for making easier cuts that won't damage your pan.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

 Usually, when I want to post a decadent dessert for Valentine's Day, I immediately go for something chocolatey and gooey. But today I decided to go in a different direction. How about something that is still rich and decadent, but instead of chocolate, lets go for rich and creamy and laden with luscious swirls of cinnamon? Sounds like heaven, right? Well, let me just tell you it ABSOLUTELY is! Its beauty is in its simplicity, really. I feel like saying "why have we never done this?" It's genius! The cinnamon rolls are the perfect crust, the cheesecake is sinful, and the cinnamon swirl is the thing that takes it from good to GREAT. I got the recipe from a Tasty video, and this one is definitely a keeper. Yes, yes, I know it's a lot of cake for a romantic dinner for two, but just freeze the rest of it in slices! You'll definitely want to go back for more!

16 ounces cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup sour cream 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
1/3 cup melted butter 
1/2 cup light brown sugar 
2 tablespoon. cinnamon 
1 (8 count) packages refrigerated cinnamon rolls with frosting

Preheat oven to 325°F.
 In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the sour cream and vanilla, and beat until there are no lumps. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each one. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until fully combined. Set aside. In a greased springform pan, press all of the cinnamon rolls flat, until they completely cover the bottom of the pan. Evenly spread the cheesecake batter, then drop spoonfuls of the butter mixture onto the cheesecake batter. Swirl the butter mixture into the cheesecake using a knife (try to keep it away from the edges!). Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cheesecake is firm around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the middle. Remove from oven and cool completely. Top with frosting from the cinnamon rolls. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Usually this is where I'd put recipe variations, or talk about what I'd do differently, but this cake is perfect as is! Just follow the recipe and you'll be a hit!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Bundt Cake

 Ok here's a showstopper of a recipe that was brought to my attention by my niece, Kristin. It was a Tip Hero video that she posted on my FB page with a comment that said "This needs to happen!" She was absolutely right! This seriously needed to happen, and it will definitely need to happen again! There's a whole lot of "how can this not be good?" about this cake. Besides the whole wow factor, it's rich and creamy and delicious! Add the fact that I already had just about all of the ingredients on hand and this became a no-brainer for what to make for my family at a recent get-together. RAVE reviews from everyone! If you have a special occasion coming up, or maybe you'd like to make this for your special someone, THIS is just the thing! Yes, I know it looks like there are lots of steps and ingredients, but really, there's nothing difficult going on here. (I'm looking at YOU, Terri). Just follow the directions and you'll be good to go! I PROMISE you it'll be worth the extra effort!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup water
6 oz unsalted butter 

1/3 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
1 heaping tbsp. espresso powder
6 oz bittersweet chocolate chips 

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. brown sugar
16 jumbo maraschino cherries, drained 

3/4 cup cherry pie filling

Cheesecake filling:
2 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese 

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 egg

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1-2 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350℉. 
Spray a 10-12 cup Bundt pan generously with baking spray with flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda. Whisk until fully blended.
In a small saucepan, combine the water and 6 oz. butter. Place over medium heat and cook until the butter has melted. Add cocoa and espresso powders and whisk until no lumps remain. Add the chocolate chips and continue stirring until completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat. Add chocolate sauce to the dry ingredients, then whisk until just combined. Blend in sour cream. Add eggs and vanilla, then mix until fully combined, making sure not to over-mix the batter.

Cheesecake filling:
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour and egg and beat until smooth.

Evenly, pour 1 1/2 tbsp. melted butter into the bottom of the prepared Bundt pan. Evenly sprinkle 2 tbsp. brown sugar on top of the melted butter. Place 2 maraschino cherries each into the larger grooves of the Bundt pan.

Pour 3/4 of the prepared cake batter on top of the cherries. With a large spoon, evenly spoon the cheesecake filling into the center of the batter, not allowing it to touch the sides of the pan. Spoon cherry pie filling on top of the cheesecake filling, again not allowing it to touch the sides of the pan. Pour remaining cake batter over the filling. Bake 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then flip cake out of pan and cool completely.

​Once cake has cooled, prepare the glaze. In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk, whisk until smooth. Drizzle cake with glaze. Allow glaze to set and serve.

Not a fan of cherries? Try a different kind of pie filling! How about raspberry or strawberry or even peach? It would all work!
For a little extra cherry kick, you could also add a little of the maraschino cherry juice to the glaze. It'll give it a lovely pink tint too! Another glaze option would be to add a little cherry liqueur instead of the milk. Works for me!
Another option would be to make a ganache to pour over the cake instead of the glaze. Just heat some heavy cream and then pour it over an equal amount of chocolate or white chocolate chips. Lets it sit so the chips melt, then whisk until smooth. Easy!
Btw, if you're out of sour cream, just use buttermilk instead! It's not the best substitute when you're topping a baked potato or nachos, but in baking it works perfectly well!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Joey's Slammin' Pork Sliders

OK, lemme start right off by saying I have no idea where I got the idea for this recipe. Somewhere, somehow, I saw a recipe for slow cooker pulled pork that used Catalina French dressing as its base. It sounded good, so I bought the pork and the salad dressing. Unfortunately, when I went back for it, I had NO IDEA where I had seen the recipe. Hmm. I googled and googled. Nope. Still couldn't find it. Actually, I did find a similar pork chop recipe, but my original inspiration was nowhere to be found. So of course, I figured, "well, I guess I'll make my own!" And this is the result!
 Basically, I added ingredients based on my hopes for the final product. I knew I wanted it to be sweet and spicy and tangy and saucy. The Catalina dressing was a great place to start the sauce, a little honey for sweetness, a few crushed red pepper flakes for some heat, soy sauce to balance the sweet, and onions and garlic for a savory depth of flavor. It all worked PERFECTLY! The end result is kinda like BBQ sauce, only not. And it definitely hits all the notes I wanted it to hit. Fun, huh? They're perfect for your Super Bowl party, actually ANY party, for that matter. And it's so easy, a cooking novice can do it! You simply MUST try 'em!

1 3-4 lb pork roast
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 8oz bottle Catalina French dressing
1/3 cup honey
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook for 7-8 hours on low. Using two forks, pull the meat apart into shreds. Stir to coat the shredded pork with sauce. Serve on soft slider rolls.

The amounts are just guidelines. If you like a lot of something, add a lot! Add extra onions or garlic, sweeten it up with a little extra honey. Want more heat? Add more pepper flakes! It all works!
I served this with a side of cole slaw and some sweet pickles, but you do you! Also a little drizzle of Sriracha is AMAZING here. Just sayin'!
I bet you could swap out other salad dressing for the Catalina. I think I might try regular French dressing or maybe red Russian dressing next time.
This makes just the right amount of sauce to go with a small roast. If you're making a large roast, you might want to double the amounts of the sauce ingredients.