Monday, April 30, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

One of my favorite treats are chocolate and caramel covered pretzels. This combines those and chocolate chips cookies in one delicious square of ooey gooey goodness!

pretzel bars 05

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup Mrs Richardson’s butterscotch caramel topping

1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed pretzel twists

Cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs together. Mix in flour, salt, baking soda and salt until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Press 2/3 of the dough into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. It should be a bit set but not golden brown.

pretzel bars 01 Remove from oven and pour the caramel sauce on top of cookie. You may need to soften the caramel a bit in the microwave first.

pretzel bars 03 Sprinkle caramel sauce with pretzels. Top evenly with remaining cookie dough. It will just be in small clumps over the top of the caramel and pretzels. Don’t worry, it will spread a bit while baking.

pretzel bars 04

Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Don’t cut them too big, these things are pretty rich!

pretzel bars 05

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Breakfast Sundaes

I am going to confess that I had this for breakfast because I desperately wanted to use the super cute parfait glass I bought at the second-hand store last Saturday! It turned out so good it was almost too cute to eat… ;o)

bfast sundae 01 This one was honey Greek yogurt with strawberries, bananas, granola and Nutella. Yum!

Next time I want to make it with my homemade Crock Pot yogurt. (recipe HERE)

I also didn’t have enough granola… but then I LOVE my granola! (recipe HERE)

It also didn’t have enough Nutella… I’ll layer more in between next time.

bfast sundae 02See… looks nice but not enough

Like most of my favorite things to make, it is simple and has endless possibilities!

I think it would be really yummy with tropical fruit muesli (recipe HERE) and fresh mango and pineapple with toasted coconut on top! If only I hadn’t eaten the last of the muesli already… :o(

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tom Sawyer Donuts

Today my 15 year old son had to make donuts for a school project. I really thought he would consider himself too old to do it, but I was wrong… It involved donuts! LOL

He did a great job! I am embarrassed to admit that I never taught my boys to cook. I enjoyed the alone time too much. But it is a whole lot easier when they are 15 and you just tell them to do something or read the recipe and do it and they do… I didn’t even always have to be in the same room while he did it. ;o)

They turned out great! They aren’t Krispy Kremes, but they are just as good as the donuts we buy at the little stand at Pike Place Market in Seattle!

donuts 04

Now, I’m pretty sure the boys are going to expect homemade donuts more often…

First: Pour 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add milk to the 1/2 cup line. Let sit for 15 minutes. Stir.

Then pour 1/2 cup of very hot tap water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of yeast on top of the water. Sprinkle 1/8 cup flour on top of yeast. Lightly mix and let sit 5-10 minutes, it will start to get foamy.

Add the milk and the following ingredients to the yeast and water mixture.

3 Tablespoons melted butter

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups flour (I used a bit of whole wheat flour, too)

Stir to make a soft dough. Add more flour if needed to make it stiff enough to knead.

Knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Knead in more flour if it is sticky. You will end up using about 2 1/2 to 3 cups total.

Roll out to about 1/2” thick. Cut out with donut cutter. (I used a biscuit cutter and an apple corer for the centers)

Place on baking sheet, cover with thin towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes. (I turn my oven to the lowest temp for about 5-10 minutes while kneading and then turn it off)

donuts 02(this is what they look like after rising) 

Heat oil in deep fryer to 375.

Carefully place donuts, a few at a time, into the hot oil. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

donuts 01

Place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Then roll in cinnamon sugar.

donuts 03

Eat them while they are still hot. They are the best when still warm!

donuts 04

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate Mousse-Filled Cupcakes

These cupcakes are liked eating a chocolate-y homemade Ding Dong. While neither are healthy, these have to be better for you than those packaged processed things, right???

filled cupcakes 03


Prepare and bake one box of chocolate cake mix into cupcakes. Let cool on wire racks.


mud pie 01

First whip 1 cup of whipping cream until thick. Stir together 4 Tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 Tablespoon of instant clear gel (to stabilize cream). Add to whipped cream along with 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Whip until very thick. *You can also use an 8oz tub of whipped topping. (but why would you want to???)

Cream 4 oz softened cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix until smooth

Beat 1 3/4 cups milk with one 3 oz box of chocolate instant pudding mix until thick.

Mix together the pudding and cream cheese mixture.

Fold in whipped cream.

mud pie 07mud pie 08

To fill cupcakes, remove centers from cupcakes using an apple corer. Be sure not to go all the way through the bottoms…

cupcake 01

Place the filling into a piping bag or zipper bag (then clip off the corner). Pipe mousse into each cupcake.

filled cupcakes 01

*You will have extra mousse. But it’s yummy just to eat. You can make mini mud pie parfaits with Oreo cookie crumbs or just spoon it into bowls and enjoy! :o) Or make a few sand buckets for the kids… (see recipe HERE)

sand buckets 01


Bring 1 cup of heavy cream JUST to boiling. Pour over 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips. Stir until melted and smooth. Drizzle over cupcakes.

*If I were to do it again, I’d cover the entire cupcake with the ganache rather than drizzling it over the top. I like lots of chocolate on my chocolate-filled chocolate cupcakes! ;o)

filled cupcakes 02Place in fridge to set.


Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips in microwave. Microwave for 45 seconds or until chips become shiny. Stir well until smooth. Mix with 1/2 teaspoon of oil.

Place melted chips in piping bag with small tip or in a zipper bag (clip off a small piece of the corner).

Drizzle over tops of cupcakes.

filled cupcakes 03Store in fridge.

filled cupcakes 04

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chocolate Biscoff Cupcakes

Since I am pretty sure there is something slightly sinister about Biscoff, Devil’s food seemed like the ideal base for this cupcake recipe… LOL

Make one box of Devil’s food cake mix according to package directions.

Grease muffin tins or line with paper. (makes about 24 cupcakes) Fill muffin tins 1/3 full.

Drop 1 teaspoon of Biscoff spread on each cupcake in 3 small blobs. (don’t you love all these technical directions???)

Swirl in the spread using a toothpick.

Bake as directed.

Let cool on wire rack.

biscoff cupcakes 01Frosting:

4 oz softened cream cheese

3 oz softened butter

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/3 cup Biscoff spread


Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.

Add powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.

Mix in Biscoff spread.

If it is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add a bit of milk.

Spread onto tops of cooled cupcakes.

biscoff cupcakes 02Store leftovers in fridge.

By the way, these are fantastic with a big glass of ice cold milk!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Is It???

I was going through my future blog post pics and found this…

mystery 01 Looks pretty good! Strawberries, bananas, drizzled with a bit of chocolate. Trouble is, I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what it is!!!

I made it less than a month ago but it has completely slipped my mind. I don’t have any notes on it, it isn’t on my “things to blog” list.

Well, it’s a mystery. Maybe I’ll make it again someday and blog about it then??? ;o)

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fool’s Day Cake & Flowers

I have never really successfully pulled off a good April Fool’s Day prank. And I have to say that I sort of had a complex about it. But not anymore… Yesterday I finally did it!

Our church has a potluck every Sunday night at our Family Nite service and I decided they would be my next target.

My contributions: Cake and a flower arrangement. Or were they???

April Fools food 01 I brought them both to the church and set them right on the dessert table. I stuck a server next to the “cake” and a spoon in the flower arrangement. I got my dinner and sat where I had a good spot to watch them. For the longest time, no one touched either of them. People went for the already cut brownies and the easy-to-serve cherry cobbler. No one ever wants to be the first to cut into the cake… And no one wants to figure out why there’s a spoon in the flowers???

Just when I began to despair that I had failed yet again, one of the youth group members took a slice of cake. I thought the reaction would be immediate. But he just slapped the piece of cake onto his plate with the rest of his desserts and went and sat down. How could he have not noticed??? Had I failed AGAIN after all??? Another girl took a piece and nonchalantly walked back to her table. I felt defeated. Well, at least I was going to get to take home my really yummy Flower Pot Mud Pie and I’d just eat the whole thing to make myself feel better…

No such luck, my children could no longer hold it in and (knowing what was really in the pot) eventually helped themselves to the dessert. At about that same time, I overheard quite a bit of laughing from the youth group table. Maybe it had worked after all??? Then I heard the, “Hey! What is this?” At the same time, Katie walked over half smiling and simply says, “I’m mad at you.” I have to confess that knowing I had made Katie mad actually made me very happy! ;o)

It turned out Robert hadn’t noticed either that his piece of “cake” was made entirely out of meat. Half of his table could clearly see this but all he saw was pink “frosting”, hence the laughter. Oblivious to all this, he went to take his first bite and exclaims, “Wait, is this meat?” The table begins to roll with laughter. It worked beautifully! About 5 minutes later, Katie walks back over to me and says, “Now I know why you did that!” Now I had to laugh.

No one suspected that my cake was actually meatloaf, nor that my flower arrangement was a dessert in disguise. But both were very delicious and were a big hit all the way around!

So if you’re looking for a fun and delicious prank for next year, here is the recipe for my Meatloaf Cake. The recipe is a bit of a variation on Sweet Anna’s smoky mini meatloafs. I also have to confess that this is the very first meatloaf that my family has enjoyed and only the second one I have ever made since being a grown-up!

3 pounds lean hamburger (I had 3 1/4 pounds)

1 1/2 cups quick oats

1/2-1 cup diced onion

2 cups milk

3 teaspoons salt (I didn’t use that much)

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients together. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer but you can also do it by hand.

Press into a greased 9x13 metal baking pan. (you don’t want them to see through it).

2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup brown sugar

6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon Chipotle Tobasco sauce (or more or less to taste)

Whisk together and spread on top of meatloaf.

Bake at 350 for about 1 hour or until it temps at 160-165.

*Mine had quite a bit of liquid around it when it was done baking. You can drain it off if you like but I just moved mine into another clean 9x13 baking pan.

When the meatloaf is almost done, prepare one 13oz box of instant mashed potatoes according to package directions. After they are done, whip them extra smooth with an electric mixer.

If you want to, add a bit of food coloring before whipping to give the potatoes that pretty frosting look. I did most of my potatoes in pink but left some white for decorations.

“Frost” your “cake” generously, making sure to cover it completely. If desired, serve with a lovely flower arrangement for dessert… ;o)   See recipe HERE.

April Fools food 02