Monday, December 29, 2014

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Cheesy Croutons

adapted from Kitchen Confidence by Kelsey Nixon

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano whole plum tomatoes
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 loaf of day old french bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large sauce pan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, basil, and sugar. Use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Purée soup with either an immersion blender or in batches using a blender. Stir in the cream. Bring soup to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Toss bread cubes in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and black pepper. Spread evenly onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until croutons start to become light golden brown.

After ten minutes, sprinkle cheese over croutons, and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven.

Serve soup with croutons, and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cinnamon Candied Almonds

2 tbsp water
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 300ºF.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with coconut oil; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and water until frothy, about 2 minutes; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine almonds and the egg white mixture until well combined. Stir in brown sugar mixture until evenly coated.

Spread almond mixture evenly onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring at halftime.

Let cool completely before serving.

Okay guys, Christmas time is my favorite time of the year because of candied nuts. The mall always smells like what I imagine heaven smells like, and candied nuts are the reason for the season! And they are one of the best thing about BYU football games. Unfortunately, eating candied nuts has become a challenge for me. My jaw always kills me after eating a handful or two. So that, and the fact that my sister had a giant bag of sliced almonds inspired me to make these.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from martha stewart
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
vanilla bean seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean pod


Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a KitchenAid. Using a the whisk attachment, on medium speed, beat the heck out of the ingredients until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and beans, and stir to combine.

Okay guys, I am secretly a #basicwhitegirl, and I was CRAVING pumpkin anything somethin' fierce. So when I signed up to bring a dessert to my ward's linger longer, I knew that pumpkin was going to be the star of the show. But I also needed to add a new recipe to the blog, so I decided to top my Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake with this delectable Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting. Equal parts butter, cream cheese, with homemade vanilla extract and the seeds from a vanilla bean? I dare say that nothing in this world could be a better combination. I LOVED seeing the little flecks of black from the vanilla bean seeds, and it was big on vanilla flavor thanks to my new found love for making homemade vanilla.

Monday, August 25, 2014

S'mores Bars

adapted from A Beautiful Bite
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
10oz graham crackers, broken into large pieces
1 10oz bag of marshmallows
8 Hershey bars, broken into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 17x12 sheet pan.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix over low-medium speed just until incorporated.
Add vanilla and mix over low-medium speed for another minute.
Add flour mixture slowly and mix just until incorporated.
By hand, fold in graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.
Press into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Allow bars to cool before serving.

We had a ward campout, and it was really bugging me that we did not eat any s'mores during this campout. Then I realized that I didn't have a s'more ALL  summer. So, since I was in charge of this week's FHE activity, and I am a different kind of lazy, I decided to make these s'mores bars instead of putting on pants (and let's be honest, a bra) and going to the store to buy some edible but not homemade baked goods. I changed the recipe just a little bit, I used mini marshmallows, and I used a half sheet pan instead of a 9x13, because I wanted more of a bar, and less of a tall gooey mess. I also decreased the amount of baking soda from the original recipe, because I am not a fan of cleaning oven messes. I honestly think these turned out pretty dang good.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cowgirl Cookies

adapted from Bakerella

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup m&ms
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats, m&ms, chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, brown and white sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend well to break up any chunks of brown sugar. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, beat the egg, butter and vanilla together.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix together.

Scoop out 1 1/2 inch balls of dough, and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on cookie sheet before transferring to wire cooling rack.

Serve to that special cowboy or cowgirl in your life.

I first found this recipe during Erica Ellen's Cookie Extravaganza in Honor of Black History Month… and then I forgot about them. The other night my niece found out that I have a crap ton of cookbooks. Cookbooks are her new favorite books. So we were looking through my homemade one, and found this recipe and declared, "We HAVE to make these right now." I shot her down because it was 10:00 pm, and I am a grown up with a job. When I came home early from work the next day, we made them. I want to rename them because I added coconut, and have decided that they are even better, so I wanna rename them "Reverse Cowgirl Cookies" but I don't want you all to think I am super disgusting. Just know that they are that good, and easy soooo you need to make them yourself.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

100 Billion Dollar Spaghetti

adapted from being grown up
1-16 oz pkg spaghetti
1 lb of ground beef
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
8 oz of cream cheese
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 lb low fat cottage cheese
1 large egg
2 cups grated mozzarella, divided
1/2 stick butter, sliced into pats

Preheat oven to 350°.

Boil your spaghetti noodles until al dente (firm). Drain and set aside until ready to assemble.
Combine the cream cheese, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, egg and 3/4 cup mozarella until well blended.
Brown your hamburger, drain well. Combine the hamburger with your spaghetti sauce.

On the bottom of your 13x9" pan, place half of the pats of butter. Add half of the cooked spaghetti.
Top spaghetti with cheese mixture. Add remaining spaghetti, and pats of butter.
Top spaghetti with sauce. Place pan in your preheated oven for 30 minutes. 
After 30 minutes, remove from oven and top with remaining cheese, and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool, and then serve!

I was going to make some crunchy taco hamburger helper, but my niece and nephew ate all of the chips while I was at church. Soooo, I had to find something else to make for dinner. Lasagna sounded good, but I am a lazy soul, and looking for lasagna noodles did not sound fun. SO, I hopped on Pinterest, and my favorite (this is what I literally call her because I can never remember her name) had pinned a recipe for million dollar spaghetti, and I decided to give it a try.
Unfortunately, I didn't have sour cream, but I did have greek yogurt, so in it went. I added an egg, because I like things to really set up,  and I am so glad that I did. It cuts into beautiful squares once cooled. So it ends up pretty AND delicious. Since I made a lot of adjustments, I decided to dub this 100 Billion Dollar Spaghetti.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Margarita Cake

In honor of Cinco de Cuatro, and my love for all things lime, I give unto you, Margarita Cake!

adapted from Betty Crocker

1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter -- melted
Zest of 1 lime
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
3/4 cups bottled nonalcoholic margarita mix
1 Tablespoon tequila
3 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Zest of 2 limes
3 egg whites
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping -- thawed
Zest of 1 lime

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only and lightly flour 13x9-inch pan, or spray bottom with baking spray with flour. In medium bowl, mix crust ingredients. Sprinkle evenly on bottom of pan; press gently.

In large bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over crust.

Bake 34 to 39 minutes or until light golden brown and top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool completely, about 2 hours. Frost with whipped topping; sprinkle with additional lime peel. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

The original recipe did not call for quite so much lime zest, lime juice or tequila… but I am a Mormon that likes to live on the wild side, and I still had half a bottle of Jose Cuervo from the time I made these, and I would feel like such a fraud if I called this a Margarita Cake and didn't use tequila. Fun fact: the batter for this cake, was amazing. I literally stuck my head in the bowl to lick it! The pretzel crust was REALLY hard to eat with plastic spoons, so do some dishes and use real utensils. Also, I would probably add more tequila and less water.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe copied from: Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

Let sit in refrigerator for 24-48 hours. I swear this makes all the difference.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

Scoop cookie dough using your favorite cookie scoop. I used my family's trusted baskin robbins ice cream scoop so I could warm it up, and get the dough out. 

Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies, and about 10 minutes for smaller cookies. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Guys. I am very picky about my sweets. I don't like them very much, so when I have them I want to make sure that they are worth it. These are chocolate chip cookies that are worth it. I'm not sure if you can actually call them chocolate chip cookies because the chocolate isn't chips, but large and tiny chunks speckled throughout. Also, I used bittersweet chocolate for these, and it was the best decision I've ever made. SO GOOD! Otherwise these would be overly sweet. I am in love with these!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Homemade Taco Hamburger Helper

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

1lb lean ground beef
1/2 large onion
1/2 good sized jalepeño
1 taco seasoning packet
3/4 cup salsa
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water*
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 can sweet corn, drained
Corn tortilla chips to crunch on top

Brown ground beef with onion and jalapeño in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain then return to the skillet. Add taco seasoning, salsa, chicken broth, and water then bring to a boil. Add rice then place a lid on top and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in corn and black beans until warm, then remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Place lid back on the skillet then let sit for 5 minutes before serving with toppings.

I am a hater of Hamburger Helper. I was the kid that was SUPER ticked when my mom pulled out the box with that creepy oven mitt face thing. However, when I saw this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats, I KNEW  that I had to make it. I love recipes that require minimal dishes, and contains ingredients that I definitely already have in the pantry/refrigerator. I added more onion, jalapeños, corn and black beans because I wanted to sneak in some veggies. I am SO glad that I did, because this was heavenly. My entire family DEVOURED it, and I doubled the recipe. My super picky uncle and my super picky grandma are still raving about how much they loved it a week later. Make this, you will not be disappointed… and if you are, I'm not sure if we can be friends.

*This seems like a lot of liquid, but I always always always end up adding more liquid. Maybe it's an altitude thing, or the fact that my family is a basmati rice kind of family, but I just always end up adding SO much liquid to get it to cook completely.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pineapple Angel Food Cake with Maraschino Cherry-Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box angel food cake mix
1 20-oz can crushed pineapple
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Combine angel food cake mix with can of crushed pineapple by hand. Chuck into a 13x9 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove from oven, and cool on rack until it comes to room temperature.

Mix the cream cheese with the maraschino cherry juice, until the cream cheese isn't in giant chunks. Add confectioner's sugar until it your desire consistency.

Frost cake, then enjoy!

I am obsessed with maraschino cherries. It's kind of ridiculous just how much I love them. So my mother purchased a 9 lb 6 oz container of them for me. Annnnd I have downed half of them, mostly by myself. SOOOOO when I made some pineapple angel food cake, and realized I didn't have any coconut or canned frosting, I decided to be a big girl and make my own frosting- and that I was going to jazz it up with maraschino cherry juice! I am SO glad that I did!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sugar Cookie Bars

recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Mix in vanilla.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased, rimmed baking sheet (use a 13x18x1" pan/cookie sheet). The dough will be just like cookie dough- heavy and sticky- so it’s best to spray your hands with a little nonstick spray and use them to help mold the dough into the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients until well-blended. Spread on top of bars. Top with sprinkles if you want!

I love Sugar Cookies. My Mom made the most amazing sugar cookies when I was little, for Christmas, for Valentine's Day, and birthdays. So, I always find myself craving them during those holidays. Just FYI, birthdays are definitely holidays. But good sugar cookies are time consuming, they take forever and a day to make. SOOOO when I found these bars on pinterest, I knew I had to them! And I am SO glad that I did, because they are amazing. All the classic flavors of sugar cookies, but without all the hassle of chilling, rolling out, cutting, and chilling again of the dough before you even get to bake them! ANNNND it makes decorating THAT much easier.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pop! Pop!

Are you a single lady that wants multiple men to ask you to marry them?

Make these… now!

1 can crescent rolls
cream cheese
bacon, cut and cooked
diced chili peppers*

*jalapeño or serrano

Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Roll out crescent roll dough.
Cut each triangle in half.
A small dollop of cream cheese.
Top with a piece of bacon, and chili pepper.
Fold corners of crescent dough, and pinch.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool a minute, then Pop! Pop!

The first time I made these, I used jalapeños, and I kid you not, I received four offers of marriage from them. The second time I made them, it was super bowl weekend, and all the stores in my area were out of jalapeños, so I used serrano peppers. They were a little bit spicier, but I REALLY liked them.

If you're worried about calories, then you can totally make them with reduced fat cream cheese, and reduced fat crescent rolls. Kind of a win/win, right?