Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cake Mix Rice Krispy Bars with Salted Caramel and Homemade Marshmallow Frosting

Cake Mix Rice Krispy Bars with Salted Caramel and Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

a.k.a. the dessert with the longest name ever

But that's what makes it great: if you say its name a few times, you burn enough calories to make up for the calories you just consumed :)

I am entering these Cake Mix Rice Krispy Bars with Salted Caramel and Homemade Marshmallow Fluff in the Creative Recipe Contest hosted by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies and Cups.

I was inspired by Shelly's Caramel Stuffed Krispie Treats. I thought, why not take the textures and flavors of rice krispie treats and caramel and put them into a bar. Made with a cake mix. So easy and delicious!

The bar starts out with a cake mix and has rice krispies for a nice crunch. Add a to-die-for salted caramel layer, and top it off with a homemade marshmallow fluff, and you've got one amazing dessert!

Cake Mix Bar
1 box white cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups rice krispy cereal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cake mix, eggs, and butter until well combined. Stir in the rice krispy cereal. Press the dough into a greased 9 x 13" pan. Bake for 20 minutes. The edges should be golden brown. Let cool completely before spreading on the caramel and marshmallow fluff.

Salted Caramel
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix all ingredients except for the vanilla in a small saucepan and cook over medium low heat. Stir frequently and cook until it bubbles. Stir in the vanilla and remove from heat. Allow the caramel to cool for a few minutes before pouring it into a bowl and refrigerating it.

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together the sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Then let the mixture boil without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees. While the mixture is boiling, beat the egg whites in a stand mixer until they reach soft peaks. Once the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, pour it in a small, steady stream into the bowl with the egg whites with the beater going. Add in the vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Adapted from cooks.com

Once the bars are completely cool, spread the cooled caramel over it. Spread the marshmallow fluff over the caramel. Cut into squares and enjoy! Store in the fridge.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Raspberry Italian Soda Cupcakes

I am entering these Raspberry Italian Soda Cupcakes in the Creative Recipe Contest hosted by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies and Cups.
Raspberry Italian sodas and me go way back. So in homage of my beverage bestie, I made these cupcakes!
The cupcake batter swirls together like the raspberry syrup and cream in an Italian soda. The raspberry frosting is sweetly delicious. And the white chocolate ganache mimics the way the cream is poured on top of the Italian soda.
Make these today and you'll have a new best friend :)
Raspberry Italian Soda Cupcakes
16.5 oz box of white cake mix
1 1/2 cups (or 12 oz can) of club soda
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup raspberry syrup (I used Torani brand)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cake mix and club soda. Divide the batter into two bowls. In one bowl, stir in the cream. And in the other bowl, stir in the raspberry syrup. Pour one bowl of batter into the other bowl, and stir just a few times. You want to swirl the colors, but not mix them together. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full, and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before decorating.
Raspberry Frosting:
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons of raspberry syrup
4 cups powdered sugar
Red food coloring (optional)
Cream together the butter, raspberry syrup, and food coloring (if using). Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time. Once all of the powdered sugar is added, beat on high for about two minutes.
White Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons whipping cream
Put the white chocolate chips and whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second intervals and stir after each 15 seconds until the chocolate chips are melted and the ganache is smooth. Let the ganache cool to room temperature before using.
Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Drizzle the ganache over the cupcakes and top with a cherry. Enjoy!
Adapted from  Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper Cupcakes by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cinnamon Spice Zucchini Cookies

It's summertime, and that means one thing!


For those of you who plant gardens, there are probably zucchini growing out of your ears.

I have a solution: cookies!

These cookies take five minutes to throw together and they are so delicious! The edges have a nice crisp to them, and the middle is soft and moist. I used yellow zucchini in these, so feel free to use whatever zucchini you have on hand. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Spice Zucchini Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the zucchini until well combined. Mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg until well combined. Stir in the oats and cinnamon chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and enjoy! Makes 2 dozen.

Adapted from verybestbaking.com

Monday, June 24, 2013

Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies {Gluten Free!}

I am a big breakfast fan. It was never more apparent than this past weekend when our family went on a weekend getaway. I stayed in the hotel room with our sleeping Tommy, while my husband got us breakfast at the hotel's continental breakfast. My husband ate his usual bowl of cold cereal, and then brought me up a tray with a waffle, Danish, bacon, yogurt, juice, and a muffin. And I ate it all. My husband sure knows the quickest way to my heart! ;)

These cookies taste like normal cookies, but with a lot less fat and sugar! And the oatmeal flour adds a nice texture and taste.

Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups oatmeal flour (just blend regular oatmeal in the blender)
1/2 cup of your desired mix ins like chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit

Cream together the oil, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Mix in the vanilla and egg. Stir in the flour and baking soda. When combined, stir in the mix ins. Roll into small balls and bake on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the sheet before removing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pasta Salad Four Ways

Now that it is finally warming up, it's time to break out the pasta salads! I love making pasta salads for dinner because it's quick, easy, requires little time at the stove, and can easily be adapted to what I have on hand.

My pasta salad always involves pasta (obviously), salad dressing, vegetables or fruit, and cheese. I add meat when I feel like it.  I never use exact measurements because I go off of what I have, and how much I like of a certain ingredient (olives!). I like to use noodles that are on the smaller side with some shape or texture to hold the dressing. Penne and spiral pasta work well. I like to boil the pasta, drain it and rinse it in cold water. I then mix in some salad dressing so the noodles are evenly coated and won't stick together. I pop that in the fridge while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. It's nice because aside from the chicken (check out my recipe for "Leftover rotisserie" chicken) and pasta, you don't have to cook anything else. Stir it all together, and you've got dinner in minutes!

With all of the salad dressings and pasta out there, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few to get you started:

Greek Inspired Pasta Salad
Greek Vinaigrette Dressing
Chicken, cooked and diced
Olives, diced
Tomatoes, diced
Cucumbers, diced
Feta cheese, crumbled

Tex Mex Pasta Salad
Italian dressing
Chicken, cooked and diced
Black beans, rinsed and drained
Red pepper, chopped
Avocado, diced
Pepper Jack cheese, shredded

Asian Inspired Pasta Salad
Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
Chicken, cooked and diced
Red pepper, chopped
Broccoli, chopped
Green onion, chopped

Pizza Pasta Salad
Zesty Italian dressing
Tomatoes, chopped
Pepperoni, chopped
Green pepper, chopped
Olives, chopped
Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese, grated

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spinach and Black Grape Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I have to say, this is my new favorite salad (and by salad, I  mean the green, healthy stuff....not the mixture of candy bars and fruit...otherwise, that would still be my favorite salad). I love the juicy sweetness of the grapes that cut the acidity of the delicious vinaigrette. The parmesan cheese adds a nice salty element and the walnuts give the salad a nice crunch. All of the flavors complement each other so well. 

Spinach and Black Grape Salad
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup black grapes, sliced into thirds (be sure to use black grapes--they have the best crunch)
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped and toasted

Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all of the salad dressing ingredients except for the olive oil until well combined. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Drizzle desired amount over salad and enjoy!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Skinny Zucchini and Red Pepper Pasta


I came up with this pasta on the fly, but it's now one of my family's favorites! It's fresh, flavorful, and filling.


Skinny Zucchini and Red Pepper Pasta
8 ounces lean ground turkey
8 ounces noodles (I used bowtie)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 large red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1 large tomato
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup canned grated parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the water for the noodles. Before adding the noodles to the water, place the tomato in the water for 30 seconds. Carefully remove the tomato and slice a small "x" shape in the top. Peel the skin off the tomato using the "x" as a starting point. Once the skin is removed, cut open the tomato, remove the seeds, and finely dice. Cook the pasta according to the package's directions.
Over medium heat, cook the turkey, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, onion, and one tablespoon of olive oil until the turkey is browned. Add in the tomato, zucchini, and red pepper, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini and red pepper are tender, but not mushy. Mix in the grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and noodles. Stir in 3 more tablespoons of olive oil so the pasta isn't dry. Enjoy!