August 30, 2014

Black Bottom Cupcakes

This recipe was sent to me by one of my beautiful readers, Leila.  This recipe has been passed down from her Grandmother.  

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake baked inside a chocolate cupcake?  NO need to twist my arm.

Her family enjoys them plain, but I like super sweet and decadent desserts, so I added some fresh Whipped Cream and Homemade Caramel Sauce.
Between the chocolate cupcake and the semi-sweet chocolate in the cheesecake, these cupcakes are pretty rich and I personally think you must serve these with whipped cream.  It really lightens them up and made them absolutely delicious.
I found an extremely easy recipe for caramel sauce, but since it is made with a lot of brown sugar, it is very very rich and a small amount is plenty.  But . . . the caramel sauce could be skipped and these would still be just as good.

AND, I really only liked this caramel sauce the day it was made.  The texture changed a little after being refrigerated overnight.  
How impressive do these look with that cheesecake layer baked inside?  The best part is, they are really so easy to make.

You could even switch up the flavor of the cheesecake filling if you wanted.  Maybe a mint chocolate chip version?  

Thanks to Leila for sharing this delicious family recipe with me.
Black Bottom Cupcakes
adapted from: Leila
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. water
1/3 c. vegetable or canola oil
1 Tbl. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
1/3 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. mini chocolate chips

For Serving (optional):
whipped cream
caramel sauce
sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.  Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl combine water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir together until combined.  Fill cups approximately 1/3 of the way full with chocolate batter; set aside.  For the Cheesecake Filling:  Combine cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt and mix until creamy.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Place a heaping Tablespoon of cheesecake batter over the top of the chocolate batter in each muffin cup.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely in muffin tin.  Store any leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator.  Makes between 20-24 cupcakes.  

Jenn's Notes: Mine were perfect at 27 minutes and I loved them with whipped cream on top.  

August 27, 2014

Sloppy Joe Nachos

I love when I can get two dinner recipes out of one.  Although this one wasn't planned, it kind of just came to be when I realized I was going to have a LOT of leftover sloppy joe filling.

While the sloppy joe filling was simmering, "The Mr." couldn't wait to taste it, so he pulled out the Doritos and scooped up a bite full.  "This is good," he says and there was the moment we both realized Sloppy Joe Nachos would be amazing.

Think about it, the filling already has meat, peppers and onions in it and if you were to add cumin, it would taste like taco filling.  

Have you ever had nachos on Doritos?  I grew up eating nachos that way and it adds a lot of extra cheesy flavor!  Of course, regular tortilla chips would still be delicious too, but why have plain when you could have nacho cheese?

Might sound strange, but this really was delicious.  
Sloppy Joe Nachos
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

*This is a "no-recipe" recipe.  Use as much of each ingredient as desired.

leftover Sloppy Joe filling
Nacho Cheese Doritos
Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish, opt.

Cover plate with chips.  Top with leftover sloppy joe filling and grated cheese.  Microwave for about 60 seconds or until meat is heated through and cheese is melted.  Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.  Serve.

August 24, 2014

Nutella Swirled Pumpkin Cookies

I think I heard the loudest thunder I have ever heard Friday night.  There I was, peacefully dreaming about Pumpkin or something :) when the lightening was so bright, it actually woke me up and my eyes immediately popped open, it was as if someone had flipped on the light switch, then right after . . . *BOOOOM*, thunder so loud it shook the windows.  

After I fell back to sleep and woke up again, I still had pumpkin on the brain.
I was at the grocery store the other day and the Halloween candy is out.  Can you believe that?  Wasn't it just barely May and the beginning of Summer?  Not that I am complaining, because Fall is my favorite season and since the store already thinks it's time for Halloween stuff, then that means it is time for me to break out the PUMPKIN, right???

These cookies are soft, cake-like and delicious.  The Nutella swirl is rich and creamy.  They are just like a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie, but Nutella flavor instead of chocolate.

I even frosted some of them with cinnamon buttercream and they are so so good!!!

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Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Frosting
Nutella No-Bake Cookies
Nutella Swirled Pumpkin Cookies
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 c. non-fat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon; set aside.  In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.  Add the yogurt, pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Drop spoonfuls of dough, about 1 1/2 - 2 Tablespoons each, onto a greased baking sheet.  Flatten cookies a bit.  They do not spread much while baking and they puff up quite a bit, so make sure to flatten them.

Top each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon or so of Nutella, spreading out and swirling slightly.  I like to leave big thick swirls of Nutella, for more Nutella flavor.  Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Makes around 43 cookies.        

Jenn's Notes: The Nutella flavor really develops overnight, but it does get a little sticky.  Still delicious, just a little messier.  

Base Cookie Recipe adapted from: Bake at 350
Linked up at Time to Sparkle!

August 20, 2014

Kitchen Confidence Cookbook Review and Sloppy Janes

I have been a fan of Kelsey Nixon ever since I watched her on The Next Food Network Star.  She didn't win, but was still given her own cooking show on The Cooking Channel.  I watch every episode of her and her pretty red fingernails (anyone else noticed that?).

It was about time she came out with her own cookbook :)

So, what do I think of the cookbook?

I really like it.  My favorite section is surprisingly the "Sides" category and I want to try almost every recipe in that section.

There are quite a few recipes in this book that I grew up eating, except she has added her own "twist" to them.  Like taking chili that everyone loves, but introducing us to a new ingredient, like hominy.   Or like using sweet potatoes to make scalloped potatoes.  Or even adding a thinly sliced Granny Smith apple to a grilled bacon and Cheddar cheese sandwich.  Some of the recipes might seem a little "fancy", but not so much that you wouldn't ever try them.  I am convinced to step out of my comfort zone and try these new variations.  Not every recipe has a picture, but the ones that do are absolutely gorgeous.
As soon as the weather cools down, her Roasted Tomato Soup is at the TOP of my list of things to make.  Some others I can't wait to try are Chicken and Poblano Stew, Carnitas Tacos, Essential Stove-Top Mac and Cheese, Meatball Parmesan Heroes, Roasted Root Vegetables, Blueberry Muffins and her Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I did make her Sloppy Janes and they taste nothing like my go-to Sloppy Joe recipe, but they sure were delicious.  I remember watching the episode of The Next Food Network Star when Kelsey made these and served them to Martha Stewart and I have always wanted to try them.  Not sure why it took me so long?  Don't be afraid of the ground turkey.  I use it all of the time instead of ground beef and when mixed with all of the other ingredients, I bet no one would even notice the difference.

A few of Kelsey's other recipes that I have tried are her Rapid Rise Rolls and her Orange Rolls.

To find out more about Kelsey or to purchase Kitchen Confidence, click HERE.
Sloppy Janes
adapted from: Kelsey Nixon
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 Tbl. olive oil
1 1/2 Lbs. ground turkey
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
salt and pepper
1 green bell pepper, ribbed, seeded and chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1/2 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbl. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. ketchup
1 Tbl. Dijon mustard
splash of apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
5-6 hamburger buns, toasted
Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the ground turkey, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  Cook, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, ketchup, Dijon mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes.  Serve on toasted hamburger buns with Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise.  Makes 5-6 sandwiches.  

Jenn's Notes: My turkey came in a 1.25 Lb. package and that is what I used.  Kelsey serves these as sliders, but we opted for regular-sized sandwiches.   

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

August 16, 2014

Chicken Parmesan Flatbread Pizza

Last year, while I was on vacation in L.A. to see my favorite band in concert, I had lunch at a place called Pizza Rustica and I had their Chicken Parmesan Pizza.  Oh-em-gee, it was one of the best pizzas.  It started a new craze for me . . . putting crispy chicken on top of pizza (enter Crispy Chicken and Roasted Garlic Pizza).  Life changing :)
I finally decided to make a simplified version of that amazing L.A. pizza by using store-bought flatbread instead of making homemade pizza crust.  If you would rather use an actual pizza crust, do it, it will be amazing.  Flatbread is just so convenient and perfect for serving two for dinner.    
So . . . you know what I love lately?  The canned Parmesan cheese.  I bought the Three Cheese (Parmesan, Romano and Asiago) version and it has so much flavor.  I have been putting it on a lot of things lately, including this pizza.  If you are opposed to using the canned stuff, freshly grated Parmesan cheese can be used instead.  
If you have a pizza stone (I HIGHLY recommend purchasing one if not), then I would cook your flatbread on that.  My pizza stone split straight down the center last time I used it and it was a sad day.  Over the years, it had gotten very "seasoned" and made some ah-mazing pizzas.

Since I haven't gotten a new one yet, I cooked this on a baking sheet.  Still tasty, but the bottom doesn't get as crisp.  

This pizza is delicious and it's perfect for a week night.
Chicken Parmesan Flatbread Pizza
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable Picture)

1 pkg. Stonefire Naan Bread (2 flatbread per package)
2/3 c. marinara sauce
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 c. Mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
4 breaded chicken tenders, cooked and sliced
  (I use Tyson Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders)
2 Tbl. Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread marinara sauce over the top of each flatbread.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and shredded cheese and top with the sliced chicken.  Bake for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Remove from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.  Slice and serve.  Serves: 2
Linked up at Time to Sparkle!

August 13, 2014

Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream

I am so excited to be a new recipe contributor at The Recipe Critic.  I shared my first recipe today and this one is a winner - big time :)

Since it is strawberry season and I figured a lot of you would be making homemade strawberry jam, that it's the perfect time to make these amazingly delicious cupcakes.  The cake is so light.  You know how sometimes you pick up a cupcake and it is so heavy and dense, not these.  You don't even feel like you are holding anything when you pick one of these up.  I used my favorite doctored-up cake mix recipe for the chocolatey base and spread a layer of Nutella over the top!

The whipped cream topping is made with strawberry jam.  Let me just say, Strawberry Whipped Cream - Now, that is where it's at!  Where has this been all my life?  The flavor was pure HEAVEN.  Make this now, eat it with a spoon if you have to, but you have got to try it.

Click HERE to get the Recipe.
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