Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

I found this recipe as I was going through an old bon appétit magazine. If you like rich desserts then this is the one for you! The magazine recommends using natural peanut butter (made with peanuts and salt only). I bought some to make this recipe, and it worked really well. I used bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of chopping up a bar or squares, to save me a little time.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
bon appétit
Brownie Layer
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Layer
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup creamy (smooth) natural peanut butter (made with only peanuts and salt)*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 TBSPs heavy whipping cream
2 TBSPs all purpose flour
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Spray 9-inch square metal baking pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray; line bottom with parchment paper.
2. Brownie layer - Stir chocolate and butter in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth; cool 10 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, then beat in flour and salt. Spread batter in pan.
3. Cheesecake layer - Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in cream, then flour. Transfer 1/3 cup cheesecake batter to small bowl and reserve. Spread remaining cheesecake batter over brownie layer.
4. Place chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on low power in 10-second intervals until chocolate begins to melt, then stir until smooth. Mix chocolate into reserved 1/3 cup cheesecake batter. Drop chocolate batter by heaping teaspoonfuls atop cheesecake layer. Using chopstick or wooden skewer, swirl chocolate batter in figure-eight pattern through white cheesecake layer.
5. Bake brownies until edges of cheesecake layer are puffed and center is set, about 36 minutes. Cool brownies in pan on rack. Cover; chill at least 1 hour.

Cut brownies into 25 squares. Using narrow spatula, transfer brownies to platter. Serve cold.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pasta, Broccoli and Chicken

I had some leftover pesto I needed to use and decided to try this recipe. We all really liked it (except for the broccoli which a couple of boys won't eat). I marinated the chicken and cooked it in my George Foreman grill. The broccoli is blanched and if you're not too familiar with blanching here's a little how-to link.

Pasta, Broccoli and Chicken
adapted from
3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
1/2 pound fresh broccoli florets
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBSP minced garlic
3 TBSPs pesto
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and chopped
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large pot with boiling salted water cook penne pasta until done. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, blanch broccoli florets in a medium size saucepan, remove with slotted spoon. In same pan saute the minced garlic and pesto sauce in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and set aside.
3. In a large bowl toss cooked pasta with blanched broccoli, cooked chicken, and garlic/tomato mixture. Add grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and ground black pepper and mix well. Serve warm.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ranch Chicken

This is an easy and yummy baked chicken. We really like it! I sometimes only use 1/2 a packet of ranch because a whole packet gives it a pretty strong flavor.

Ranch Chicken
Lion House
3/4 cup cornflakes, crushed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 package ranch salad dressing mix
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornflakes, Parmesan cheese, and ranch mix. Dip chicken in melted butter, then roll in cornflake mixture to coat.

2. Place chicken in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Serves 8

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taco Salad

I had this taco salad at my friend Aurora's house for book group a couple years ago. It was so delicious! The distinctive thing about it is the Catalina dressing. It makes the salad a little sweet and tangy. I like to make it all the time, especially in the summer. This time when I made it I tried something new. I made a taco salad bowl from a tortilla. It ended up kinda small, but fun, and the kids liked it.

 Taco Salad
Aurora Dascanio
1lb. ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 16oz can kidney beans, drained
1 small can sliced olives
Chopped tomato
Torn lettuce
Shredded cheese
Diced avocado
Crushed tortilla chips
Catalina dressing
Chopped purple or green onion, if desired

Brown ground beef; add taco seasoning and cook according to package directions. Toss ingredients together and serve immediately.

Taco Salad Bowls
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Crumple 4 large sheets of foil to make 4-3inch balls; place on baking sheet. Place 1-8in. tortilla on top of each ball, spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp chili powder. Bake 6-8 minutes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baked Beans

These are my very favorite baked beans! They're pretty easy too. They are sweet unlike some you get at BBQ restaurants. I love to serve these as a side with coleslaw or potato salad. You can bake them in the oven or heat them in the slow cooker. They are an essential BBQ side dish!

Baked Beans
1 lb. bacon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 (32oz) cans pork and beans (or 4-16oz cans)
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1. Cut up bacon into small pieces and cook in frying pan on stove until done. Pour out grease, but leave 1 TBSP in pan. Saute the green pepper and onion in the remaining bacon grease until soft.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 325 for 2 hours. Serves 10

You can also make this in the crock pot. Just combine all ingredients and cook on low for 5 hours or high for 2 hours.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

I'd never made my own ice cream sandwiches, and got the idea from my friend Erica. There are so many possibilities with this! I made chocolate cookies using a cake mix because I wanted them to be soft. I did a few with vanilla ice cream and a few with mint chocolate chip. They turned out so yummy!

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ice Cream
Sprinkles or mini chocolate chips (optional)

Cake Mix Cookies
1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, butter and eggs until smooth and well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sandwich Assembly
1. To build the ice cream sandwiches, soften ice cream at room temperature for 15 minutes and line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and set aside.
2. Using a small, tablespoon-sized ice cream scoop, place 3 to 4 scoops of ice cream on the bottom side of one cookie. Working quickly, top with a second cookie and press lightly to push the ice cream to the edges of the cookie. Use a small spatula to smooth the ice cream around the edges of the sandwich. If using sprinkles, place sprinkles in a shallow container and roll the edges of the ice cream in the sprinkles, pressing lightly to coat.
3. Place ice cream sandwiches on the prepared tray and freeze immediately, until firm, about 2 hours.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Kristy showed up at my house one day with a chocolate chip cookie. It was huge, crispy on the outside edge, but soft in the middle and still warm.  I asked her for her recipe and surprise, they had wheat flour in them. Who would have thought wheat could make a chocolate chip cookie better! This is now my favorite chocolate chip cookie. I probably make them once a month! I also use this recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies and just change it up a bit.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kristy Taylor
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and creamy.
3. In medium bowl whisk together flours, soda, and salt. Stir flour mixture into creamed mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Using muffin scoop (or 1/4 cup measuring cup) drop dough onto to ungreased cookie sheet leaving a 4 inch space between cookies. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden.

Oatmeal Raisin:  Reduce all purpose flour to 1 1/2 cups. Reduce wheat flour to 1/2 cup. Add 2 cups quick oats and 1 tsp cinnamon. Substitute 1 cup of raisins for chocolate chips. Nuts are optional.