April 26, 2015

Almond Joy Magic Cookie Bars

These are one of the BEST magic cookie bars you will every put in your mouth.  After just one bite, you will be in Heaven.   

Explain this to me . . . why is it that on a weekday, when my alarm goes off and it's time to get up for work, I am dead tired, but when the weekend rolls around and I can't wait to sleep in, my eyes pop open (without an alarm) at the same time as the weekday and I am wide awake????  It doesn't make sense.  I just want to sleep in until at least 9 a.m. please :) 

Saturday morning, I was wide awake at 7 a.m.  Maybe I was too anxious to try out this new recipe I had been planning all week.  

We had treats at work last Tuesday and one of my co-workers brought in Magic Layer Bars.  I LOVE her Magic Layer Bars.  BUT . . . I got to thinking.  How about an Almond Joy version and use chocolate graham crackers instead of regular, almonds instead of pecans and add loads of coconut.  

I wanted a thick bar and I remembered pinning Sally's Ultimate Magic Cookie Bars awhile back.  Rather than using a graham cracker crust, she created a graham cracker cookie crust.  BEST DECISION EVER, SALLY.  The crust is thick and soft and chewy and is guaranteed to become a base of many recipes to come. 

The result is DIVINE, DECADENT, SINFUL, RICH, AMAZING, IRRESISTIBLE.  Okay, okay, so I really really loved these bars. They totally reminded me of an Almond Joy.  You need to try this recipe ASAP.        
Almond Joy Magic Cookie Bars
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

Cookie Crust:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. chocolate graham cracker crumbs (not quite 9 full-sheet crackers)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c. sliced almonds
about 12 oz. sweetened condensed milk (not quite one can)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang for easy removal and spray with cooking spray; set aside.  For the Crust: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar, using a hand mixer, until smooth and creamy.  Add the vanilla and egg and mix until combined.  Add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt and mix until fully combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Press graham cracker dough evenly into the bottom of your prepared baking pan.  Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips (reserving a small amount), coconut and sliced almonds.  Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top and sprinkle with reserved mini chocolate chips.  Remember the pan is hot and return to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until set (I baked mine for about 26 minutes).  Loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil halfway through baking time to prevent the coconut and almonds from browning and rotate the pan in the oven.  

Allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and then stick in the refrigerator to cool all the way through (the bottom of the pan will be cold).   Cut into 9-12 squares.  DO NOT cut the bars while they are still warm or the gooey filling will run all over the place.

Jenn's Notes: I cut mine into 9 bars, but since they are pretty rich, I think 12 bars would be perfect.

Base Recipe adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction

April 22, 2015

Lemon Muffins with Red Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling

Happy Wednesday.  Only a few more days until the weekend . . . we can make it :)

I have had a dang cold since Friday and I could sure use the weekend to catch up on some sleep.  The only thing that has been sounding good to me is bread and Diet Mountain Dew.  Super healthy, right? 
This is one of my favorite go-to muffin recipes.  It uses ricotta in the batter, which might seem like an odd ingredient and most of you have probably only ever used it in a savory dish, but it helps create one amazing soft and tender muffin.  Believe me, I have used it in these Snickerdoodle Muffins, Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins and in these Almond Poppy Seed Ricotta Muffins with Orange Glaze.

This version turned out so good.  If you aren't a fan of red raspberry, you can use another flavor of jam instead.

What flavor of muffin would you like to see next?
Lemon Muffins with Red Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Red Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. seedless red raspberry preserves
1 egg
1 Tbl. all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
3 Tbl. sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.  Combine sugar and lemon zest and rub together until fragrant.  Cream together butter and lemon sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the ricotta cheese and then the egg and lemon juice.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add to butter mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups about halfway with batter and make a well in the center, fill with a heaping Tablespoon of red raspberry cream cheese filling.  Top with more muffin batter, filling muffin cups to the top.  Sprinkle tops with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake for 20-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Red Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling: Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy.   

April 18, 2015

Coke Shredded Pork Tacos

This shredded pork seriously has so much flavor and it's a piece of cake to make.  

I have made it a few times and we love it.  I have served it in tacos, quesadillas and on nachos.  It's tender and juicy on day one and it's just as good leftover.  It doesn't actually taste like Coke, but it does give the pork a rich sweet flavor.    

I got this idea from my friend, Ruth Ann, she makes this minus the chili powder and Worcestershire and serves it on hamburger buns as a sandwich.

I love using boneless Country Style Ribs when I am making shredded pork dishes for a few reasons.  Since I usually only cook for two people, those ribs work great because I am able to buy a package in smaller portions, plus they come in strips and it's easy to cut into chunks.  You can use whichever cut of pork you prefer.   

You might also like:
Tyler Florence's Guacamole
Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Lime Rice
Restaurant Style Shredded Pork Enchiladas
Crunchy Shredded Pork Tacos
Coke Shredded Pork Tacos
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)
2 - 2 1/2 Lbs. boneless country style ribs (or other cut of boneless pork)
salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste
1 (12 oz.) can Coca-Cola
1 c. jarred salsa
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

For Serving:
corn or flour tortillas
sour cream
chopped cilantro
diced tomato
diced avocado
Feta cheese
shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cut pork into rough 3-inch chunks and place in a medium Dutch oven (or oven-safe pan with a lid).  Season with salt, pepper and chili powder.  Pour the can of cola over the top along with the salsa and Worcestershire.  Cover pot with lid and bake for 3-3 1/2 hours or until pork easily shreds apart with a fork. 

Remove pork from liquid and shred.  Add some of the liquid from the pan into the shredded pork.  If there isn't a lot of juice left in the pan, you can shred the pork right in the liquid.  Serve in warmed tortillas with desired toppings.     
  *You could also make this in the crockpot.

April 12, 2015

Butterfinger Nutella Cupcakes

It feels like forever since I have made cupcakes.

I was long overdue for a real. good.homemade.cupcake. 

I have been eating Chick-O-Sticks lately.  Have you had those?  They taste exactly like the inside of a Butterfinger. 

Somehow I wanted to incorporate that yummy flavor into a cupcake and add chocolate too.  Duh . . . use Butterfingers :)  So, I loaded both the cupcake and the frosting with crushed candy bars. 
The result??? One super tasty cupcake.
 I loved these on day two.  The flavors really developed overnight.  The cupcake is so moist with bits of crunchy peanut buttery flavored candy bar, topped with rich Nutella and creamy thick candy bar frosting.  

If you don't want to pipe a big swirl of frosting onto each cupcake, you could probably cut back and only make a half a batch of frosting.  I am all about the frosting, so the bigger swirl the better :) 

These are incredible!     
 You might also like:
Butterfinger Nutella Cupcakes
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)  or (Printable with Picture)
1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients to make cake
12 fun-size or 4 regular-size Butterfingers, crushed
1/2 c. Nutella, for topping

Butterfinger Frosting
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
5 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbl. milk, more or less
2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
9 fun-size or 3 regular-size Butterfingers, crushed well, so big     
    chunks of candy bar don't get stuck in the piping tip.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions and stir in the crushed Butterfingers.  Divide batter between 24 muffin cups that have been lined with paper liners.  Bake according to package directions.  Cool completely.  When cool, spread about 1 teaspoon of Nutella over each cupcake.  It helps to stir the Nutella before spreading, so it is lighter and spreads on the cupcake better.  Pipe or spread Butterfinger Frosting over the top. 

Butterfinger Frosting:  Beat butter until creamy using an electric mixer.  Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add the vanilla, salt and crushed Butterfingers and mix well.  Continue adding remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with milk as needed to reach desired creamy frosting consistency.  Pipe or spread over cooled cupcakes.   

Jenn's Notes: I used an Ateco Tip #826 to pipe on the frosting.  Make sure the Butterfingers are crushed very well for the frosting or they may get stuck in the piping tip.  

Base cupcake recipe adapted from: Plain Chicken

April 8, 2015

Easy Ham and Broccoli Quiche

Did you all have a fun Easter weekend?  Do you have any leftover ham?  Well, this is just the breakfast you need to make. 

This was the first quiche I have ever made.  My Father-In-Law made a quiche on Christmas morning last year and it was great.  The crisp buttery crust mixed with the creamy eggs and cheesy filling was fabulous.  This version is loaded with ham, broccoli and lots of cheese.  To finish it off, it's sprinkled with smoked paprika.  It not only gives the top a beautiful orange color, it adds a light smokey flavor.  If you don't have any leftover Easter ham, deli ham works great too.   You can really add any fillings you like . . . mushrooms, sausage, bell pepper and spinach are a few that crossed my mind. 

This is a cinch to throw together.  The hardest part is knowing when it's cooked all the way through AND you have to let it rest before slicing into it.  Once you remove it from the oven, it continues to cook a bit while it cools, so resist the urge to slice into it early.

I even ate this for a few days in a row, so it is great re-heated.   
Click HERE to get this delicious recipe over at THE RECIPE CRITIC's SITE!

April 6, 2015

Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake PLUS United States of Cakes Cookbook Review

 United States of Cakes, by Roy Fares

In 2010, Roy Fares, won Sweden's Best Pastry Chef competition.  He lives in Sweden, but loves to visit the United States.  California seems to be his inspiration for this book.  He talks about L.A., Hollywood, Palm Springs and Beverly Hills and the delectable treats he enjoys and his favorite places to get them.

This book includes 50 of his favorite classic recipes with his own twist.  He has taken our Classic American Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Baked Goods and reduced the sugar, but these are not low-sugar recipes.  He has just reduced the sugar a little and found the "perfect balance". 
I love the style of this book.  It includes some of my favorite food pictures.  The old-fashioned, rustic, pics are so comforting and make me feel right at home.  The smell of the book even makes me think of my Grandma's old books.  The recipes range from beginner to intermediate.   

I tried his Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake.  It is a very dense cake with a deep chocolate flavor and it's not overly sweet.  I wanted a sweeter glaze, so I opted to make my own recipe instead of his.

The recipes are written using a Convection Oven.  If you are baking with a regular oven, then it is suggested to increase the temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  He also suggests adjusting the recipes if you live at high altitude. 

I do live at high altitude and honestly, the only time I have made adjustments is when I am making candy.  I wasn't even sure how to adjust for baking at high altitude, so I looked it up.  One of the suggestions is to increase the oven temp. by 25 degrees and since I was already going to increase the temp. 25 degrees for a regular oven, that would have meant my cake would bake at 400 degrees and that is way too hot.  So, I took a gamble and made the recipe "as is"  and it turned out just fine.  That doesn't mean every recipe in this book will turn out fine without making adjustments, so you'll have to decide for yourself.  P.S.  if anyone has any suggestions of how to adjust a recipe at high altitude, then send them my way. 

Every recipe sounds amazing.  Some of the other desserts I can't wait to try are: Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Snickers Cheesecake, Banana Chocolate Chip Pudding, Nutella Cake Pops, Magnolia Bakery's Banana Cake and Chocolate Fudge (it has dulce de leche sauce and marshmallows in it).

This book is available for purchase now.  
Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake
adapted from: United States of Cakes
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. salted butter, room temperature
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 shot of espresso (I used 1/4 cup coffee)
2/3 c. water
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream
2 eggs

Chocolate Glaze (I didn't use this glaze)
1/3 c. unsalted butter
1 tsp. corn syrup or honey
3/4 c. dark chocolate, 70%

Preheat oven to 350 degrees convection function (or 375 degrees for a regular oven).  Grease and flour a 9-inch bundt pan.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the cocoa powder, espresso and water and whisk into a smooth mixture.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, vanilla, sour cream and eggs; mix well.

Mix in the dry ingredients and whisk together until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert to a wire rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze:  Melt the butter, corn syrup and chocolate in a water bath.  Stir together into a smooth icing.  Let the icing cool to lukewarm temperature.  Place a baking sheet under the rack with the cooled cake and pour the glaze over the cake.  Allow icing to set.

Easy Chocolate Glaze (this is what I used)
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
2 Tbl. unsalted butter
2 Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 Tbl. milk

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the cocoa until a paste forms.  Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir until smooth and creamy and pour over cooled cake.     

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