9/2/14

butter-caramel bars

Truth be told.
I was going to call these caramel-oat bars.
But the word oat makes it sound boring, healthy, good for you. Zzzzzz....
So yes, these have oat in there as a foundation, a texture, a hold the bar together thing-a-ma-jigee.
The real show stealers of this recipe are the amount of butter, salt and caramel.
That's like the perfect foundation of a good bar.  Right?
We have chewy middle, and crisp outside--heavenly.
I used those little mini caramel bits, not the big chunks of caramel as I wanted the buttery taste of
the cookie batter to stand out , more so than giant chunks; one does like a hint of caramel in the background? Yes?
Plus the tiny amount of caramel also added a nice chew-factor in the middle.
If you're looking for a good solid bar, a truly tasty one that everyone will love--I know that sounds like everyone else, but these truly are the type of bars you can make for whatever last minute party/function you have to attend with food in hand.
They aren't all dressed up with fancy swirls, chips, sugar, sprinkles...this cookie dough base is literally I tell you so good on its own that it doesn't need a lot of fillers or add in's.
You'll see.
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Next time I make these, I think adding a nice layer of crushed salted pecans might be delish.
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I know I try to bring you one bowl easy recipes, this one isn't one bowl, but two which, hey, is just as easy.
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Normally I don't like this kind of caramel because it's just so sweet, but these little mini's are perfect
for adding just a little bit of sweet caramel flavor.
(they are also fabulous in hot espresso too!)
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They are chewy in the middle with a nice crisp cookie outside. Really good! Promise!
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caramel-butter bars
based on my salted nutella bars
print recipe

1 ½  cups cake flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 ts cinnamon
1 ts baking soda
1 ts baking powder
1 ¼  ts coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup mini caramel bits

cook notes:
I would definitely recommend using a couple handfuls of salted pecans in this.
I did not add a lot of caramel bits to this, as I wanted a gentle flavor. But feel free to adjust to your liking.
Keep in mind the cookie dough base is very tasty as is and doesn’t need a lot of add in’s or fillers.

Mix the flours, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
Using a mixer fitted (or by hand like me) cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.   Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Next add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Cover bowl the dough with plastic wrap and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  We want this nice and sealed so not a lot of air gets in.  Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight (mine went 2 days just fine).
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray.
Divide dough into 2 piles: 2/3 and 1/3.
Take the 2/3 dough and line the bottom of the baking pan with it, making sure to get all the corners, making sure there aren’t any holes or gaps in the dough.
Spread a layer of caramel bits, do not spread it to the edges!
Take the 1/3 remaining dough and in clumps, place on the top. Also make sure to take any dough and close up any gaps you see in the corners.
Don’t push the crumble down into the dough, just leave it on the top—it’s ok to have spaces in the crumble—gaps are fine, it will help the top bake up nice and crisp.
Bake until golden brown but still soft, roughly 25 – 30 minutes.
Look for golden brown edges, non-jiggly middle.
The middle will be a bit soft.
You really have to let this cool at least an hour before slicing.
Slice with a sharp knife.


8/28/14

friday links


Happy Friday!
(I know they are early, but I had so many links to share with you, just couldn't wait to do so)

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And now you know!

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Yes, check the food box!

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Quest has "protein chips" out now.
Have you seen them? They are pretty good. Plain not so much, but the cheddar-sour cream is
good.  I love that they have no gluten and very low carbs.
More info visit questnutrition.com

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Ready to jump in?

Untitled
Saw this gorgeous, nautical console at Jordans Furniture.  I love it!

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Remember in my last friday links I told you about this guy?
He is still coming to my window every night!
Should I feed him?  lol

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So I went to Five Guys. Man their burgers & fries are good!

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Duncan Hines new fall flavors are out!
I'm excited to try the caramel apple cupcake. They have a recipe for a whoopie pie version of
these cupcakes--I will post soon!

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The rare find that is the chocolate-butternut donut!
Of course I have to photograph and share!

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The wild Maine blueberries are finally making their way into grocery stores.
These blueberries make the best pies...ever!

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My tater tot enjoying his head massage.

around the web:

headache relief without drugs
6 things never to buy from Trader Joe's? (not happy with this list)
homemade ding dongs!
buffalo cauliflower bites (these look good!)
how colon damage occurs & how to cleanse it
eating more fish improves memory
heirloom tomato tart
health benefits & importance of beets
the best neck stretches
lidia's italy: boston cream cake!
many benefits of lemon water
cricket flour as the best protein you could eat?
the advantages of dyslexia 
chocolate-powdered sugar donut holes
harvesting, curing & storing garlic
quick & easy homemade fruit picker (do I have any farmers here?)
why do women do this to their eyebrows?
this is where I will be ALL WINTER staying Four Seasons Bora Bora (got $3K I can borrow?)
what to do when you're dead
5 ways to stop being a worry-wart!
chocolate-buttermilk pie & buttermilk pie
clearly this dog does not like mornings (so human-like)
homemade salt water taffy
frozen yogurt bites! (love this)
chocolate chip cookie dough bites (skinny version)
how to check for skin cancer
better food the prescription for healthier america? (yes!)
man leaves job & city to live out of a van 
5 health benefits of ginger
extreme weight loss on ABC, come find out what Heidi teaches everyone about "the promise"
mediterranean tomato tart
homemade peach ice cream
the perfect butter knife is here!
a tropical fruit that tastes just like chocolate pudding?
recent recalls on nut butters
lemon-coconut gooey butter bars
peaches & cream bars
20 GENIUS college hacks (love these!)
lexi the one-eyed pitbull leaves a legacy of love
BBQ tofu fries
salted caramel ice cream pie with pretzel crust
food storage tips: what not to refrigerate
brownie pretzel pie
hairdresser spends weekends giving ego-boosting transformations
muscle soreness explained
homemade fresh corn soup
how to do textured paint on concrete
Hershey candy corn bars are hitting the shelves!
why you should eat lemons
farmer's almanac predictions for winter are out!
pina colada popsicles (vegan)
simple fudge recipe
DIY door stoppers
donatella versace does the ice bucket challenge (brace yourself)
best way to hand wash a bra
breakfast has little impact on weight loss (hmm, not sure about that)
coffee & milk ice cubes
foods scientifically proven to kill cancer
human water catapult! (LOVE this video!)
Soprano's creator finally reveals whether or not Tony dies
united sweets of America map!
progress against ALS
how to make baked eggs (love this)
a vet locked himself in hot car for 30 minutes--what every animal owner should see
saigon-cinnamon chocolate pops
DIY chalkboard an old window
deep fried tequila shots
coconut cream pie bars
caramel apple Oreo cookie pops (LOVE!)
meet the new cast of Survivor!
I love old photos & video's of historic Cape Cod, here is one of the Sagamore Bridge back in
1927. See how many cars are on the bridge waiting to cross: one!


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Have a wonderful, restful holiday weekend!

8/25/14

peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake on pretzel crust

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Peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake on pretzel crust.
Right?
This is how you do a peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake.
No more graham crust, use pretzel.
OK?
The first cheesecake did not come out well as I used those Pretzel Thins--those do not make a good crust.  Make sure to get normal pretzels that are thicker than the popular Pretzel Thins.
Trial and error, all bakers go through it to find the right recipe; the right balance of flavors.
I tried to get the pretzel crust to go up the side of the cake pan, no luck there either.  I'm a firm
believer in having as much crust as possible in my pies and cheesecakes.
Up the sides, on the bottom--yes indeedy.
Wanting a deep peanut butter flavor in this cheesecake I used not only peanut butter in the batter, but also the swirls are made with a chocolate-peanut butter from The Peanut Butter Company.
This worked perfectly!
The chocolate-peanut butter swirls will not melt away, nor will they bleed out or dissolve; they stayed perfectly in tact.  (notice the before baking and after baking photos--perfection!).
So I highly recommend picking up a jar of for achieving the perfect cheesecake swirls!
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Cheesecakes aren't that hard to make.
I firmly believe that it's all about the oven temperature.
Please read my cook notes (in the recipe) on baking: to water bath or not to water bath--
that is your decision. Plus a few other tips on getting the perfect swirls.
Couple of cheesecake tips: I did find, that using a bit of flour does help with having less cracks, and baking cheesecakes with low heat (300 or 285) and slow time does help with no cracks in the end.
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chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake with pretzel crust
print recipe

2 ½ cups crushed pretzels
½ cup + 2 TB butter, melted
4 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
¼ -1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 cup granulated sugar
generous pinch of salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 TB flour
¼ cup heavy whipping cream

for the chocolate swirl:
 ¼ cup ( +/- )  chocolate-peanut butter from The Peanut Butter Co.

cook notes:
Use small pretzels, they are easier to crush up in the food processor.
DO NOT use pretzel thins, they are not good at forming a crust, trust me I tried!
I have never baked my cheesecakes with a water bath, if this is what you prefer then please go right ahead.  I always bake my cheesecakes with low temps—low and slow. And of course you can use any type of chocolate swirls you wish, I just loved using the chocolate-peanut butter from Peanut Butter Company because it’s so convenient & easy, plus is does NOT dissolve or bleed than say regular melted chocolate would.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 or 10-­inch springform pan on bottom/sides.
Set aside.
Mix crushed pretzels with melted butter. Press firmly and evenly into prepared springform pan. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes or until its set.
Turn oven down to 300F.  (if you want a water bath then place large pan of water on lowest rack).
In bowl of stand mixer, combine softened cream cheese, sour cream and sugar. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, egg yolks, and peanut butter. Mix until smooth, then add in the heavy cream, mix once more, then add in the flour. Final mix until all is nice and incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
For the chocolate swirls, take a few tablespoons of the chocolate peanut butter, place as gobs on top of cheesecake, then take a chopstick or something similar and make swirls in the batter.  Do not push swirls down! Put as many swirls as you wish.
Place springform pan on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake in center rack, until filling seems mostly set, about 40-50 minutes.
It’s ok if there is a bit of jiggle in the center, it will set up once it’s chilled.
You know the cheesecake is done with the edges are all set up and the center is not gooey.
I turn off the oven, leave the oven door open, and let it come to room temp for about an hour or 2. Then place the cheesecake in fridge for a few hours or overnight to let it truly set up.  You can try to slice it, but it might be a bit gooey, but hey that could be your thing!
When ready to serve, if you see the edges are sticking to the sides you can either use a very thin knife that is slightly wet and run it around the edges or place in freezer for a few minutes to shrink and release.  With a little prayer and luck release the springform latch, slice and serve with fresh whipped cream and/or melted chocolate.


8/17/14

homemade strawberry frozen yogurt

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Homemade frozen yogurt.
Who knew I'd be whipping up a batch or two?
Me, the ice cream junkie.
And here I am sharing it with you.
Not going to lie, this frozen yogurt was TASTY (never ever thought I'd say that, never been a fan
of frozen yogurt).
I am not one to order or even think of buying frozen yogurt--I mean yuck.
There are so many frozen yogurts that have either way too many chemicals and stabilizers in
there or they taste horrid, like flavored air.  Yeah flavored air.
And I never saw a frozen yogurt recipe I liked...until now.
I came across this recipe from The Neely's of the Food Network, reading through it I saw they used whole milk greek yogurt AND a hint of rum.
Nice.
Plus this recipe was easy--we all like easy.
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You all know that frozen yogurt does not have the scooping abilities as ice cream--a bit harder to scoop.
With that said, don't try and use a non-fat yogurt, it will turn into ice milk, and not taste good.
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strawberry frozen yogurt
from The Neely’s of Food Network
print recipe

4 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup and it was fine)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rum
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (I used 1 1/4 cups)

cook notes:
I used a spiced rum Captain Morgans.
Do not try and use a non-fat or low fat yogurt--you
will have ice milk (unless you like that).
I used only a 1/2 cup of sugar; just felt the 3/4 cup
was too much. This is an excellent recipe--really good and solid.

A full 24 hours before you make your frozen yogurt, place your ice cream maker insert into the freezer.
Add strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and rum to a bowl and toss.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the strawberries macerate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Add the strawberries with their juices to a food processor.
Pulse the berries, and then add the vanilla beans seeds and yogurt. Continue to blend until smooth.
Place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
Turn your ice cream machine on and pour in the chilled yogurt mixture. Churn until the mixture looks slushy like soft serve, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Place in the freezer for several hours until hard enough to scoop.
Makes about 1 quart.

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