January 27, 2015

Red Velvet Sweetheart Cookies

I am so excited for Valentine's Day.  I love this holiday. . . it makes me happy.  Maybe it's because of all the pink and red stuff around like sprinkles, flowers and hearts.  Or, it could be all the sweet treats, okay, it's definitely the sweet treats, especially the chocolate treats.  I picked up some cookies 'n' creme hearts and chocolate hearts at the store the other day.  I went in for one little thing and ended up leaving with two bags of chocolates and a bag of Starburst.  That Valentine's candy aisle gets me every.single.time.  
I couldn't resist making these amazing cookies with my chocolate hearts.

On day one, these cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  On day two, they really soften up and the whole cookie is soft and chewy.  I have never had one of those kiss cookies, but I imagine they are similar to these when biting into the cookie.  It does take a little bit of effort to bite through that chocolate heart, but all together the flavor is So YUMMY.  
I loved both the cookies 'n' creme version and the milk chocolate version.

You should definitely make both versions :)  
As if they weren't good enough on their own, I decided to drizzle some milk and white chocolate over the top . . . because, well . . . why not?

Which look do you like the best?  I couldn't decide.  I love how vibrant the cookies look without the chocolate drizzle, but I love the extra creamy chocolatey goodness from the drizzle.     

Either way, these are such a fun cookie for Valentine's Day.
 You might also like:
Red Velvet Sweetheart Cookies
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 1/2 c. + 2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
2 Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*18-19 frozen chocolate hearts 
    (I used cookies 'n' creme and milk chocolate hearts)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine vegetable oil and sugar and beat until well combined; about 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg, red food coloring, vinegar and vanilla and mix until combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight (I refrigerated my dough overnight).  

When ready, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for 8 minutes.  Cool for 30 seconds, then press a frozen chocolate heart into the center of each cookie.  Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.  When the bottom of the chocolate hearts were slightly melted, I lightly pressed them down into the cookie a little more.  Makes 18-19 cookies.  Store in an air-tight container.   

If desired, you can melt about 1/3 cup of white chocolate chips in one bowl and 1/3 cup of milk chocolate chips in another bowl and drizzle over cooled cookies.  Allow chocolate to set.

*Unwrap chocolate hearts and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  Don't remove from freezer until cookies come out of the oven.     

Base cookie recipe adapted from: Cooking Classy 

January 25, 2015

Southwestern Ranch Dip

Why are dips like the best thing ever and why are they so hard to stop eating once you start?  This dip is absolutely SO GOOD and should absolutely be served at every Football party going on next Sunday.  

It can be made in advance and the flavor only gets better the longer it's refrigerated.  I made this after Christmas while I was off work and I was constantly sneaking tastes of it out of the fridge. 

It's thick and creamy and can easily be scooped up by chips or veggies.  It's amazing just the way it is, BUT if you want a little more spice, you could add some jalapenos.  Or, you could add some corn and beans and it will be similar to this Fiesta Dip.

Southwestern Ranch Dip
adapted from: Plain Chicken
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. sour cream (I used light)
1 (1.125 oz.) pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel, drained
1 Tbl. fresh lime juice
handful of cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  The longer you refrigerate it, the more the flavor develops.  Serve with tortilla chips or veggies.  

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January 21, 2015

No-Bake Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

How's it going?  What kind of healthy things have you been snacking on?  I always like granola bars.  I don't know about you, but I get SO sick of store-bought granola bars.  Plus, the last box I bought tasted stale and they weren't even expired. 

 Sometimes, it's so convenient to just grab a box at the store, but homemade granola bars really are so easy to make.  You probably already have most of these ingredients on hand and in just a few short minutes, you can have homemade WAY BETTER than store-bought granola bars.

The flavor possibilities are endless.  Today, I was feeling like peanut butter and chocolate chip.  I love the combination of all these flavors, they all blend together perfectly and leave you with a super delicious, very soft and CHEWY granola bar.     

You might also like:
No-Bake Cinnamon Chip Granola Bars
Oh Henry Bars
Fluffernutter Cereal Treats

Click HERE to get this delicious recipe over at The Recipe Critic's Site.

January 18, 2015

Skinny Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

This is a recipe you need to have on hand for those times when you discover you have a full carton of eggs that is expiring . . . like yesterday :)  I have actually heard you can eat eggs for a while past the date on the carton, but I don't dare.  I will eat them one or two days past, but that is my limit.

This is a super easy, throw all the ingredients in one bowl at the same time, kind of cake.  I always have these ingredients on hand, well maybe not the lemon pudding, but I do always have some kind of instant pudding in the pantry.  I buy lemon extract in a giant bottle and I prefer imitation over pure.  If you happen to have a lemon on hand, some fresh lemon zest would be amazing in the glaze.

Since this cake only uses the egg whites, you could always make a batch of my Vanilla Bean Custard, Key Lime Pie  or Chocolate Cream Pie with the egg yolks.

 Happy Sunday - enjoy this guilt-free cake!  
Skinny Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
adapted from: Pip and Ebby
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 white cake mix
1 (3.4 oz.) box lemon instant pudding mix
8 egg whites
1/2 c. applesauce
1/4 c. poppy seeds
1 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Lemon Glaze
1 c. powdered sugar
3/4 - 1 tsp. lemon extract, to taste  (or lemon zest) 
1-2 Tbl. milk (or fresh lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a large bundt pan.  In a large bowl, combine all of the cake ingredients and mix until well combined.  Pour into prepared bundt pan and spread out evenly.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.  Top with Glaze. 

For the Lemon Glaze: In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract and 1 Tablespoon of milk.  If mixture is too thick, add a little more milk until desired glaze consistency is reached.  Taste and add another 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract, if needed.  Drizzle over cooled cake.      

January 14, 2015

Cheesy Vegetable Soup

 This soup is loved by all.  I have even been told it's one of the best they have eaten.  It's thick and creamy and loaded with chunks of veggies.   

Plus, it's a cinch to make.  The hardest part is chopping up all the veggies.  I like to make my roux using butter and coconut oil.  Coconut oil adds such a unique flavor to this soup and ever since I have tried it in this recipe, I haven't gone back.  Just a small amount is plenty for that delicious flavor.    

The leftovers are my favorite, because on day two, this soup is ridiculously good. 

Cheesy Vegetable Soup
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
3 med-large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
6 c. water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning, or to taste
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper, or to taste
3 Tbl. unsalted butter (or 2 Tbl. butter and 1 Tbl. coconut oil)
3-4 Tbl. all-purpose flour
1 c. milk (or you can use more water)
1 jar Cheese Whiz
pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish 
Sliced French bread, for serving.

Place potatoes, onion, carrots and celery in a large pot.  Cover with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Add the chicken bouillon cubes, Italian seasoning and lemon pepper. Continue to boil just until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your vegetables (do not drain when done). Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Slowly whisk in the flour until a thick paste forms and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently.  Gradually whisk in 1 cup of milk.  Whisk until smooth and thick.  

Add milk mixture to the pot of cooked vegetables.  Whisk until combined. Continue cooking over medium heat until mixture reaches desired thickness.  If it gets too thick, add more water or milk.  Last, stir in the Cheese Whiz and a little pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.  Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve with sliced bread.  Makes 3-4 big servings.

Jenn's Notes: If your Russet Potatoes are extra-large, you will only want to use two.  This would also be delicious with some cooked and cubed chicken, some cooked and crumbled bacon, some diced ham or maybe even some cooked ground beef.  

January 10, 2015

Skinny Cake Batter Dip {Dunkaroo Dip}

My love for frosting started way back when I was just a little one.
My favorite lunchbox treat were Dunkaroos.  They were little packs of mini cookies with a side of funfetti frosting to dip the cookies in.  Forget fruit snacks and granola bars, I wanted Dunkaroos.   

This dip is a healthier version of my childhood favorite treat.  The base of the dip is non-fat yogurt . . . I used regular yogurt instead of Greek Yogurt, because I was worried the Greek Yogurt flavor would overpower everything else.   This dip is thick and creamy and does not taste "skinny" one bit.  Your kids will love it and it would make a great after school snack.

I loved this on days two and three, however, the extra sprinkles I added for a garnish started to melt in the dip.  Unless you are serving this to a big crowd, you will most likely have leftovers for several days.  It makes a ton of dip and could easily be cut in half if you'd like.   
Skinny Cake Batter Dip {Dunkaroo Dip}
adapted from: Eat Yourself Skinny
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

2 c. plain non-fat yogurt
1 box. funfetti cake mix
3/4 c. Lite Cool Whip, thawed

Serving Ideas:
Animal Crackers
Nilla Wafers
graham crackers
apple slices

In a large bowl, stir together yogurt and dry cake mix until completely combined and no lumps remain.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to serve.  Serve with desired cookies, graham crackers or fruit.