October 15, 2017

Halloween Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars are one of my favorites.  They are so soft and chewy and they have a sweet buttery flavor.  Plus, they are so easy to customize for different holidays.  

By adding Halloween colored sprinkles to the cookie dough, topping with colorful frosting and more sprinkles, it immediately transforms a plain bar cookie into something extra special.  I seriously love these sugar cookie bars and could eat the entire pan by myself.  They taste great on day one and soften up even more on day two.  

I wrote this recipe for a 9x13-inch pan, but it can easily be doubled and baked in a large cookie sheet if you are serving a crowd.    
You might also like:

Halloween Sugar Cookie Bars
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. sprinkles, plus more for garnish (Halloween colors)

Buttercream Frosting

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbl. milk, plus more if needed
purple or orange food coloring, opt.  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at at time, beating after each addition.  Combine the flour, salt and baking soda and add to the creamed mixture.  Last, stir in 1/4 cup of sprinkles.  Press dough evenly into a greased 9x13-inch pan.  It will be a little sticky.  Bake in preheated oven for 14 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  

For the Buttercream:  Beat butter until creamy.  Add a pinch of salt and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy, adding a little milk, as needed, to reach desired consistency.  A little milk goes a long way, so don't add too much.  If adding food coloring, add now and mix until combined.  Spread over cooled sugar cookie bars and garnish with additional sprinkles.  Cut into squares and serve.    


October 8, 2017

Candy Caramel Apple Slices

The other day I saw a poll on Instragram and you had to pick if you prefer apple or pumpkin.  Guess what was winning?  Apple.  Yes, apple was winning by a lot.  I couldn't believe it because I am a pumpkin girl all the way.  I do, however, love fresh apples.
Between my house and my parents house we have 7 apple trees.  That is a lot of apples to try and eat and use up.  I am not a huge fan of cooked apples, so I usually stick to plain apples, apple dip, caramel apple salad and anything that involves using fresh, un-cooked apples.

So, today, I am sharing a super easy and really really yummy treat.  Have you ever bought a gourmet caramel apple?  They are super expensive, plus it's a little hard to cut into them and once you slice it you have to eat it right away before the apple slices turn brown.  That is why you totally should make these Caramel Apple Slices instead.  They are so easy to make and so easy to eat.
All you have to do is slice apples, stick a popsicle stick in each slice, dip in melted chocolate, then drizzle with melted white chocolate and caramel and top with candy.  Kids love doing this kind of stuff.  I made these two days in a row and my 4 year old nephew was eager to help each time.

Perfect, single serving, ready to eat whenever you want. 
You might also like:

Candy Caramel Apple Slices
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

popsicle sticks
3-4 med-large apples (I used a combo of green and red)
1 (11.5 oz.) bag chocolate chips (I like milk chocolate)
1 Tbl. shortening or coconut oil
1/2 c. caramel bits
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
Around 1- 1 1/2 cups of crushed candy

Optional Candy:
chocolate toffee bits
chopped white chocolate pretzels
crushed OREOS
chopped candy bars

Wash and dry the apples very well.  Water does not work well with melted chocolate, so make sure they are very dry.  Combine chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 30 seconds until mixture is smooth and creamy (It's easiest for me to melt half of the chocolate and shortening and spread on the apples and then melt the other half).  

Place un-peeled apples upright on a cutting board and cut into 1/2'' slices.  You should get two slices on each side of the core.  Then you can cut the ends of the core and end up with two small wedges.  You should end up with around four larger slices and two small wedges per apple.  Or, you can really slice the apple however you prefer.  Using a paring knife, make a small cut onto the bottom of each apple slice and insert a popsicle stick.  

Spread melted chocolate over each apple slice, making sure to cover the exposed apple completely.  It doesn't have to look perfect, because once you add the toppings you can't even tell.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens, about 15 minutes.  Don't skip the parchment or the apples will really stick to the pan.  When chocolate has hardened, remove apples from refrigerator.  

Melt the caramel bits according to package directions, you will need to add a small amount of water and melt the white chocolate chips in a separate small dish in the microwave.  Then, drizzle both over each apple slice.  Immediately top with candy of choice.  You want to do this pretty quickly before the white chocolate and caramel harden.  Then, refrigerate until set and serve.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.  Best if eaten within 1-2 days.  


September 30, 2017

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread {It's Low-Fat and Amazing}

Hey, how's it going?  This is my absolute favorite pumpkin chocolate chip bread ever.  I crave this all year long and the best part is, there is only one Tablespoon of oil in the whole thing.  I originally posted this recipe back in 2012, so I figured the world needed to see it again and then you all need to make this ASAP.  The original recipe called for a chocolate drizzle, which was some melted chocolate chips drizzled over the top of the baked loaf, but it really does not need that.  This bread is already so rich and flavorful.  I like to use mini chocolate chips, because you get pockets of creamy chocolate throughout, but you can use regular chocolate chips if that is all you have.

Here is my original post from 9/30/2012:
I am pretty sure this bread is my new BFF.  I can't stop raving about it.  I love it not only because it tastes so good, but it is LOW-FAT (compared to other pumpkin breads).  I promise you would NEVER KNOW IT.  The recipe only calls for 1 TABLESPOON of oil, but it is just as moist as other pumpkin breads that call for up to 1/2 cup of oil.

Now, I am questioning all my other pumpkin bread recipes, why have I been adding so much oil if it is not even needed?  I think it is time to start experimenting!  
This bread is so good by itself that it doesn't even need the chocolate drizzle on top (and it would have even fewer calories, of course).  In fact, I ate half the loaf before I even added the drizzle.  It still tasted perfect on the 4th day when I enjoyed my last slice.

This recipe also comes from my new Favorite Family Recipes Cookbook that I told you about the other day.  They said they prefer this low-fat recipe over regular recipes and I totally understand why.

You better try this so you can rave about it too!  

Hopefully by now you have already printed out the recipe and are heading into the kitchen to whip this up!

**Update (8/22/2013) - I have made this several times and it turns out perfect every time.  I have also made this into mini muffins.  You will get 48 mini muffins - bake for 10-11 minutes.** 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread 
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg
1 Tbl. canola oil
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, vanilla, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil.  Add dry mixture to wet ingredients, stirring just until moistened; do not overmix.  Fold in chocolate chips.   Pour into pan.  Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely. 

Jenn's Notes: This bread browns pretty quickly in the oven thanks to all that brown sugar.  It will look very dark like you burnt it, but it doesn't taste burnt.  You could always tent a little foil over it the last 10 minutes of baking if you don't want it as dark.   

September 24, 2017

Easy Teriyaki Meatballs

Ever since I tried Sweet and Sour Meatballs, I have been obsessed with meatballs.  This has now become my new go-to base recipe for meatballs and I have been trying them with all different kinds of sauces.

My latest version are these Teriyaki Meatballs.  This recipe is so so yummy.  The meatballs come together super fast and while those bake, you can prepare the sauce and cook the rice (I use Minute Rice) and broccoli.  In less than 30 minutes total, you can have this super delicious dinner on the table.  I highly recommend using a cookie scoop for the meatballs.  It is so much easier and faster than trying to roll them by hand.

The flavorful meatballs mixed with the sweet teriyaki sauce is a perfect pair.

You might also like:

Easy Teriyaki Meatballs
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

2 Lbs. ground beef (85/15 works best)
2/3 c. panko bread crumbs
2 Tbl. dry minced onion
1 large egg
1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Teriyaki Sauce

1 1/2 c. cold water
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbl. cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil

For serving

chopped green onions, opt.
cooked white or brown rice
cooked broccoli florets

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan; set aside.  To a large bowl, add ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, milk, ginger, salt and pepper.  Mix with your hands until just combined.  Use a 1 1/2 Tablespoon cookie scoop and scoop meat mixture into balls and place in prepared pan.  Or, rub a little oil on your hands and then roll the meat mixture into roughly 1-inch balls.  Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Makes around 35 meatballs.   

To prepare the teriyaki sauce:  Pour all of the sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan.  Whisk together until no lumps remain. Heat over medium heat until it thickens, whisking occasionally.  This should only take 3-5 minutes.

When meatballs are done baking, dunk them in the teriyaki sauce and serve over cooked rice.  Garnish with chopped green onions and serve with broccoli florets on the side.  

Base meatball recipe adapted from: Our Sweet Basil Kitchen


September 16, 2017

Fresh Garden Tomato Chili

I originally posted this recipe back in 2013.  I have been making it every year since.  I have simplified the recipe a little since then.  I originally would peel my tomatoes, but then I discovered the peel really doesn't stand out to me, so I don't do that anymore, which saves a ton of time.  I also have been throwing the tomatoes in my food processor instead of dicing them.  You can do whichever you prefer.

Here is my original post from 10/07/2013:
My mom brought me a big bag of fresh garden tomatoes the other day.  Garden tomatoes have such an amazing flavor.  A flavor unlike any store-bought tomato.

Rather than eating the usual BLT or making salsa with the tomatoes, I wanted to try something different.  I had seen a recipe for Fresh Tomato Chili awhile back and I wanted to create my own version.

I am super happy with how it turned out and the flavor is incredible.  I prefer a thick and chunky chili and so I simmered mine with the lid off and that way the liquid evaporated.  To top it all off, I added a healthy amount of shredded Cheddar, a dollop of sour cream and some chopped green onions . . .  mmm.

I will make this recipe over and over again.  If you can't get any garden tomatoes, you can always use regular store-bought tomatoes.  The flavor will be a little different, but it will still be good.  If you like a little kick to your chili, you can add some chipotle chili powder or a diced canned chipotle chili in adobo.

Serve alongside:
French Bread Rolls
Soft and Chewy French Bread
Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits
Chili Cheese Bake Potatoes (use leftovers)

Fresh Garden Tomato Chili
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) 

1/2 Lb. lean ground beef
1/2 Lb. ground pork or ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
*12 large ripe garden tomatoes (see notes down below)
1 Tbl. chili powder, or to taste
2 tsp. ground cumin, or to taste
2 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste
1 tsp. oregano, or to taste
2 bay leaves, opt.
1 Tbl. brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans, undrained

For serving:

sour cream
shredded Cheddar cheese
chopped green onions
Fritos or tortilla chips

Brown ground beef and ground pork or turkey in a large pot over medium heat.  A few minutes before it is completely cooked through, add the chopped bell pepper and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute 30 more seconds.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.  I like to simmer mine for at least 2 hours for better flavor.  The longer it simmers the more the liquid will evaporate.  If you like more liquid, then simmer with the lid on.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.  Remove bay leaves before serving. 

Garnish with sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and serve with Fritos or crushed tortilla chips.  Serves: 4-6.    

*For the tomatoes:  I like to remove the stem, cut the tomatoes in half and remove half of the seeds.  Then, I throw all of the tomatoes into my food processor and process until there are only a few chunks.  I pour the tomato puree into my chili.  The tomatoes break down when you cook them anyway, so I don't spend the extra time peeling or dicing them.

Or, if you prefer skinned and diced tomatoes, you can remove the peel, stem and seeds and dice, but this will take a lot longer. 

September 12, 2017

Easy Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Sliders

I recently told one of my friends about the amazing Rhodes Warm-N-Serv Rolls and her family has been enjoying them ever since.  The other night she said they made hamburgers for dinner, but didn't have any buns, so they pulled these rolls out of the freezer, baked them and then had hamburger sliders for dinner within 15 minutes.  That got me to thinking of all the yummy sandwiches that could be made using these delicious Warm-N-Serv Rolls.

One of my favorite combos is bacon, ranch, chicken and cheese.  You can't go wrong with that, right! So, I threw all of the ingredients together and made Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Sliders and let me just tell you that these 5-Ingredient sliders are so dang good.  The soft buttery roll paired with the creamy ranch, crisp bacon, melty cheese and tender chicken is guaranteed to be a huge hit.   

Let me show you how easy these are to make . . . 
First, get all of your ingredients ready.  You will need baked Rhodes Warm-N-Serv Rolls, cooked bacon, cooked breaded chicken tenders, sliced cheese and ranch dressing.  
Slice the baked rolls in half, spread ranch over each half of each roll.  Then, top one half of each roll with sliced cheese.  
Top one half of each roll with sliced bacon.  
Cut the breaded chicken tenders in half.  Top one half of each roll with half of a chicken tender.  Place the tops onto each roll.  Place in a warm oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.  Serve.  

#RhodesBread #RhodesRolls #completethemeal

Easy Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Sliders
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner

6 Rhodes Warm-N-Serv Dinner Rolls
1/4 c. ranch dressing, plus more for serving
3 large slices Pepper Jack cheese (or your favorite cheese)
3-4 slices bacon, cooked
3 frozen breaded chicken tenders, baked

Bake Rhodes Warm-N-Serv Rolls according to package directions.  When finished baking, slice rolls in half and spread ranch dressing over each half.  Cut or tear the slices of cheese into fourths.  Place two pieces of cheese onto one half of each roll.  Tear the bacon into smaller pieces and divide between one half of each roll.  

Cut the cooked chicken tenders in half and place one half onto each half of each roll.  Place tops onto each roll and place in a warm oven until the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes.  Serve with additional ranch dressing, if desired.    

This post is sponsored by Rhodes Bread.  I have always been a fan of Rhodes Rolls and all opinions are my own.  Thanks for allowing me to work with the brands that I love.