March 28, 2015

Carrot Cookies with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

 Have you ever watched the show Impractical Jokers???  It's a hidden camera prankster show and I am pretty sure I have been trying to get this blog post finished for the past hour . . . I can't stop watching my T.V. and I am laughing my head off.  At least I'm getting an ab workout while I sit here, right ;)

Okay, time to focus.

Easter is next weekend.  I'm sure a lot of you will have some kind of carrot dessert on the menu.  I made something a little different this year, a unique carrot cookie.

They are made with baby food carrots.  Most of the baby food carrots I looked at have carrots and water in the ingredients, but one brand was carrots only.  Look for this Beech Nut Just Carrots and if you can't find it, you could always cook fresh carrots and mash them.
These cookies are sooooo soft and melt in your mouth.  They don't really taste like carrots, but instead they taste almost like an orange creamsicle cookie.  They are a beautiful orange color and are topped with a creamy orange-flavored frosting.  On day one they are good, but on day two they really soften up.  Next time, I want to try more of a classic version by adding cinnamon and using regular cream cheese frosting.

You might also like:
Carrot and Zucchini Bars
Shortcut Orange Butterflake Rolls
Orange Cream Fruit Dip
Carrot Cookies with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
*1 c. Beech-Nut baby food carrots (about 2 1/2 4.25 oz. jars)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt 

*I used Beech-Nut Just Carrots.  This brand does not add water to the carrots.  If you can't find this brand, then try cooking fresh carrots and mashing them.

Orange Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
grated zest of 1 orange 
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1-3 Tbl. fresh orange juice

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the egg and then the carrots, vanilla and almond extract.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  When chilling time is over, drop spoonfuls of dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, about 3/4 - 1 Tablespoon dough per cookie.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack and cook completely.  Top with frosting.     

Orange Cream Cheese Icing:  Cream together butter, cream cheese, orange zest, vanilla and a pinch of salt.  Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add remaining powdered sugar, adding orange juice as you go to reach desired creamy frosting consistency.

March 21, 2015

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad

Have you ever had a Snickers Caramel Apple Salad???

My friend, Ruth Ann, brought this to work for us a few weeks ago.  OMG . . . it is sooooooo good and I can't seem to get enough.  I mean, hello . . . it has Snickers in it.  I first saw a recipe like this a few years ago online, but never got around to trying it.   Most of the recipes I have seen online use both vanilla pudding mix and Cool Whip, but I loved this just the way it was with only Cool Whip.  
Ruth Ann simplified this recipe by using Snickers Bites rather than chopping up Snickers Bars and she used Caramel Bits rather than chopping up caramels.  So, it's a cinch to make.  I used Jonagold Apples and Granny Smith Apples.  When Ruth Ann brought this to work she used Red Delicious for the red apples, but said she usually makes it with Fuji Apples.  Use whatever red apples you prefer.  

It's best when eaten on day one, but it is still okay on day two.  On day two, the apples start to release juice and make it a little watery.  

Do you usually have a BBQ on Easter?  This would be a delicious salad to serve to your family. 
Snickers Caramel Apple Salad
From: Ruth Ann D. 
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)
3 red apples, washed and dried
3 green apples, washed and dried
1 (16 oz.) carton Cool Whip, thawed
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Snickers Bites
1/2 pkg. Caramel Bits (found in the baking aisle by the chocolate chips)

additional Snickers Bites, for garnish
caramel ice cream topping, for garnish 

Chop apples into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add the Snickers Bites and Caramel Bits and stir to combine.  Last, add the Cool Whip and fold together until everything is evenly coated.  If desired, drizzle caramel ice cream topping over the top and garnish with a few more Snickers Bites.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Best if eaten within 24 hours.      

Jenn's Notes: I did not peel my apples. 

March 15, 2015

Bacon Ranch Chip Dip


You don't even want to know how many bags of chips I have in my pantry right now.  Let's see . . . Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips from Trader Joes, Regular Tortilla Chips, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Fritos, Tater Skins, BBQ Pop Chips, Potato Chips and I'm sure there are a few more flavors hanging out in there.   I may or may not have a chip problem.

What is the deal with the size of chip bags these days???  The price goes up and the size goes way down.  Now, what used to be a "regular" size bag of chips is called "family size".  I'm pretty sure regular size is really single serve - ha ha, right?

My potato chips were expiring soon and I didn't want to let those pricey chips go to waste, so chip dip was a must. 
You can't go wrong with bacon and ranch.  I thought this dip was great.  I garnished mine with some green onion and bacon crumbles.  It keeps in the refrigerator for a long time, so if it's just one or two of you trying to eat it up, you can take your time :) 

If you are sensitive to salt, you might think this dip is too salty, especially when paired with a salty potato chip.  You could always try serving it with veggies instead, if you'd like.   

You might also like:
Bacon Ranch Chip Dip
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 (8 oz.) container Bacon flavored cream cheese, softened
1 c. sour cream
1 - 1 1/2 Tbl. dry ranch dressing mix, to taste
potato chips, for serving

Stir together softened cream cheese, sour cream and ranch dressing mix.  Serve with potato chips. 

March 11, 2015

Mini Puffed Oven Pancakes

I make a lot of pancakes in my house, regular, toasted coconut, cornmeal, German, etc . . . BUT this was the first time I had tried a mini puffed oven pancake. 

The mini pancakes themselves are not sweet at all and if you taste them plain, you might not like them so much.  BUT . . . when you top them with sugary sweet and juicy strawberries, powdered sugar and fresh whipped cream . . . THEY ARE SO YUMMY.

I bought some beautiful bright red strawberries at the grocery store the other day.  I chopped some of them up and topped with a few Tablespoons of sugar.  After 10-15 minutes, you will have sweet and juicy strawberries that taste absolutely amazing on top of these pancakes.  If you don't have any fresh strawberries, jam would be perfect on top too.  Or, you could always serve them with warm maple syrup.      

You might also like:

Click HERE to get the yummy recipe over at THE RECIPE CRITIC'S SITE

March 8, 2015

Rise and Shine Breakfast Bagel Sandwich and a Giveaway

This breakfast bagel sandwich is inspired by my favorite breakfast bagel I get from my local sandwich shop.  My homemade version might even be better . . . just saying :)  You can have this ready in less than 15 minutes, which is less time than it would take you to get dressed and drive to that sandwich shop.

I could eat this sandwich every single day for breakfast.  I crave this all the time.  A toasted bagel, topped with melty American Cheese, smoked ham, medium-cooked eggs and velvety smooth cream cheese.  Breakfast of Champions right here.    

I used none other than Eggland's Best Eggs!  I feel so good when I eat Eggland's Best Eggs, because I know they are packed with so many nutrients and they have 25% less saturated fat than ordinary eggs. 

Click HERE to read more, to get the delicious recipe and to enter the GIVEAWAY.

March 4, 2015

Tyler Florence's Guacamole and Inside the Test Kitchen Cookbook Review

Inside the Test Kitchen, By: Tyler Florence

I love the structure and layout of this book.  It looks like a journal, the pages are very thick, it's full of hand-written notes and it has an elastic band attached, so you can easily mark the page of the recipe you are wanting to make next.  All of the pictures in this book were taken with an iPad.  He wanted "real time" photography like we would see on social media.   Tyler and his "Test Kitchen Team" tasted and tested these recipes over and over again until they were perfect.  They even tested eight different cheeses to find the stretchiest one and used the winning cheese in Modern Grilled Cheese and Stretchy Mac and Cheese. 
Tyler says the goal of this cookbook is to empower the home cook with the confidence to put dinner on the table and to equip us with information that restaurant chefs have.

With that said . . .

This cookbook is not for beginner cooks and I don't think it's for the average home cook either.  I would love to try every recipe in this book, I just want someone else to make them for me :)

I'm sure all of the recipes are out-of-this-world, but most are not what you would make after a long day at work.

Some of the recipes require special equipment like an iSi whipped cream siphon, chargers and special pans and molds.  The recipes can get pretty pricey too, especially if you don't grow your own herbs and have to buy them at the store.  Some recipes call for multiple herbs and a tiny package of herbs at my local grocery store run about $3 a piece.  There are a lot of ingredients I have never used (or heard of).  I don't think that you would have all of the ingredients on hand for any of these dishes, except for maybe the 5-in-1 Baking Mix

I am excited about the  5-in-1 Baking Mix.   He uses this mix to make muffins, pancakes, waffles, cake and cookies.  The Pineapple Upside-Down Cake will most likely happen in my kitchen soon. 
I decided to try the easiest recipe in the book . . . Guacamole.  I didn't think I was a guacamole fan, but I had to taste it, since I was going to have to talk about it in this post, right?  I REALLY REALLY liked it.  Who knew guacamole was this good.  I scooped up this guacamole chip after chip and it was hard to stop eating it.  I also enjoyed a big dollop on a bowl of chili.

I WILL most definitely make this recipe again.   
Overall, if you want to step outside your comfort zone and you don't mind spending time and money on dinner, then you will probably really enjoy this book.  

And . . . I'm sure your recipes will taste like they came straight out of a restaurant kitchen.
adapted from: Tyler Florence
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

5 ripe Hass avocados
juice of 2 limes
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
1 Serrano chile, ribbed, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 radish, thinly shaved

Slice the avocados all the way around from top to bottom and twist the halves to separate them.  Carefully tap the pit with a sharp knife, twist, and it will come right out.  Scoop the avocado flesh into a large bowl.  Add some of the lime juice as you go, to prevent the avocados from browning.

Add the remaining lime juice, onion, Serrano chile, cilantro, a pinch of Kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.  Use a fork to mash the mixture, leaving some chunks of avocado for texture.  Transfer to a bowl for serving and  garnish with the radish shavings.  Makes about 4 cups, depending on the avocados. 

Jenn's Notes: I used less onion and I used a yellow instead of a white onion.  I used a small jalapeno instead of a Serrano.  This is simple and delicious.  When refrigerating leftover guacamole, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and that will help keep it from turning brown.   

I received this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed herein are my own.