Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken Pesto Sandwiches

 For some reason lately I have been craving sandwiches, and not your run-of-the-mill slap some mayo, cheese and meat on some bread.  I wanted one that was full of flavor, and that the rest of my family would enjoy.  While checking out the other blogs I follow, I came across this one.  It sounded exactly like what I was craving.   And since it was Sunday morning when I found it, I could run to the store to get a loaf of french bread (because this was a last minute thing so I didn't get any when we went shopping 2 days ago) so I had to make my own bread.  =)

1 loaf french bread
2 T olive oil
2 chicken breasts
freshly cracked salt and pepper
1 1/2 t minced garlic
1 large white onion, chopped
1/3-1/2 C pesto
3/4 C mayo
2 C mozzarella cheese
1 C shredded Parmesan cheese
3-4 slices bacon, cooked and rumbled (optional)

Cut your chicken into 1 inch chunks. Heat up a large skillet and add your 1 T of the oil. When it's nice and hot throw in your garlic, and then your chicken. Season it up with the salt and pepper. Let the chicken and garlic cook until it has a nice golden look to it. Set aside.
In the same hot skillet put the other 1 T of oil in along with your onions. Let them cook until they are nice and soft and golden as well.

Cut your bread in half, long ways.  
Combine the pesto and the mayo and spread it over each half. 

Layer the chicken, onions, and then sprinkle with bacon and the cheese.

Put it into a 400 degree oven and let it bake just until the cheese is all bubbly and the bread is heated through. About 10-15 minutes.

This was really good =)  There are a few changes I would make next time.  I wasn't 100% happy with the bread I made, so I'm not including the recipe for what I used but the blog I got the recipe from had one that looks great (French Bread).  I didn't look at that recipe until after I had already cooked mine or I would have made hers instead. (or if I had planned ahead I would have picked up one of the $0.99 loaves they usually have at Walmart)  Also, I think next time I will saute some mushrooms (my family LOVES mushrooms!) and add them as well.  Overall, I think this was pretty good and I will make it again.  this would be fantastic in the summer with the chicken grilled on the bbq. (that way my house won't get heated up....)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

What happens when cookie dough meets brownie?  The ULTIMATE dessert!  I found this wonderful recipe while cruising the world of pinterest.  I knew immediately that I had to try it.  Then when I showed my hubby the picture, he was all for it!  I think the first time I saw the picture, I had to change into sweatpants because I immediately gained 5 pounds just thinking about it.  

I will admit, I was a bit hesitant when I first read the recipe because it seemed like something was missing in the brownie recipe.  There was no baking soda or powder.  But the reviews were all glowing so I decided to go for it anyway.  I figured with so many eggs that that would take the place of those anyway.  
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk (may need more or less if dough is too crumble or sticky)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1/2 cup semisweet chips + 1 teaspoon shortening for drizzle, optional

Make the brownies first:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray. In a bowl, melt chocolate and 1/4 c. butter in the microwave in short bursts of 30 seconds; stir after each burst and remove from microwave when melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. 
In a large mixing bowl, mix butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in melted chocolate. Blend in flour and mix just until combined (don't over-mix). Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 minutes. Watch closely and remove from oven when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely. You can put them in the fridge or freezer once the pan cools slightly.

While the brownies are cooling, make the cookie dough.  Combine butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Mix in milk and vanilla. Mix in flour just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.  If your dough is too crumbly, add in more milk, 1 tsp at a time. And if you are like me and love to eat cookie dough, feel free because there are no eggs!! (not that has ever stopped me before....I am addicted to licking beaters and bowls)
Spread cookie dough over the cooled brownies. I used my hands to pat it down.  Refrigerate until the dough is quite firm. It's okay to speed up the process and place it in the freezer too. 

If you'd like to add chocolate drizzle on top, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon of shortening in the microwave; stir until smooth. Scoop the melted chocolate into a zip baggie and snip off the corner. Squeeze the bag to drizzle the chocolate on top of each brownie. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top, if desired.

I would recommend serving these in bit sized squares.  If you cut them into about 1-inch squares they fit perfect in mini cupcake liners. They are very sweet and rich.  I am usually one who can sit down and eat a whole batch of cookies in one sitting, and one or 2 bites of this and I was done.  These are prefect to take as a treat for a luncheon, party, get together, or whatever you'd like. I will be taking these to my lovely grandma's 80th birthday party tomorrow =)

Friday, January 20, 2012

S'more Hand Pies

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge fan of s'mores.  When I spotted this recipe while surfing the web, I knew I had to try it!  I am sooooo glad I did! You should make it too!

Mini S'mores Hand Pies

2 pie crusts (either store bought if you want to save lots of trouble or make your own)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 graham cracker squares, finely crushed) 
1/4 cup sugar 
1/2 c. butter

1/2 cup marshmallow creme 
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened 
2 tablespoons sugar 

1/2 cup chocolate chips, or Hershey;s bar 

Heat oven to 425°F. Spray cookie sheet with non stick spray or line with parchment paper.
Roll out pie crust. With 3-inch round cutter (I didn't have a 3-in round cutter so I used the top of a glass =)  ), cut rounds from each crust. In small shallow bowl, mix cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. In another bowl, melt the butter.  Dip both sides of pie crust rounds with butter; dip into crumb mixture to coat.

Place coated pie crust rounds on cookie sheet. Place chocolate chips or Hershey's square in each.  Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of each of the rounds. Add a pinch of graham cracker crumbs. Place remaining pie crust rounds on top of the filling on each. Pinch edges to seal, I used a fork to press them together.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered in refrigerator.

The first time I made it, I sued chocolate chips.  The second time, the Hershey's bar.  both were great but the Hershey's bar was a bit gooier (yum!) but I think the chocolate chips would have been better if I would have added more chips.  I also experimented the second time and when I ran out of marshmallow cream (I had 3 pies left) I just added a few mini marshmallows instead.  They turned out pretty good too (just make sure on those you seal the edges really good so the marshmallow doesn't ooze out).  They were good enough that my hubby made me make a monster batch for him to take to work.  I can't wait to hear reactions from everyone, especially since I am now famous there for treats and have won over even the most picky of tastes there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cookie Dough Truffles

I found this recipe and after reading it, I think I gained 5 pounds just from thinking about how many of these I would eat.  Turns out I ate more than I thought and gained 10 pounds =P.  I actually made these back in December (hence the Christmas sprinkles).  They were so simple and fast (expect the freezing part).

Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 C butter, softened
3/4 C brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 C flour
1  -14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla
1/2 C mini chocolate chips ( I used mini m&m's)
2   -12 oz bags semi sweet chocolate chips ( I only used 1 but have 2 on hand, just in case)
1 T shortening, divided
Sprinkles to decorate 

Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on a sprayed cookie sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours.  

In a liquid measuring cup, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave. Only heat it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating interval. Add about 2 t of shortening to the chocolate and stir to incorporate. Dip each frozen cookie dough ball into the chocolate and then place on wax paper to set.  Sprinkle the sprinkles on top while the chocolate is still soft. Put the truffles back in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes.

One of the best things about raw eggs!  So you don't have to worry about salmonella when you like the beaters and sample the dough (because I know you can't resist cookie dough)....which has never bothered me before but some people are worry worts....(knock on wood because now I am going to get sick next time I eat half a batch of cookie dough).  
Also....this is a great one to let the kiddos help you with.  No cooking required.  While you dip, let them sprinkle of cookie dough).  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Orange Cream Cheese Bread

Awhile ago, I was craving some orange bread.  I tried making a yeast bread and adding orange to it.  It was okay, but didn't quite have the flavor I was looking for.  Then I found this quick bread recipe and thought I would give it a whirl.  I LOVED it!  It was moist, had a hint of orange, but no over powering, and wasn't overly sweet.  I will definitely be making this, over and over and over and over.

8oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1 2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder (yes, tablespoon)
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. orange zest

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 8 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in bread pans.  Combine cream cheese and shortening and cream until well combined.  Gradually add in sugar.  Add in eggs, one at a time and mix until well combined.  Add in flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually mix in the milk.  Mix until well combined.  Stir in orange zest.  Pour into pans.  Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing.

I think next time I make it I may try and substitute yogurt for the shortening to make it a bit healthier.  I also baked mine in the size smaller loaf pans and it cooked in about 40 minutes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Homemade Nutrigrain Bars

I love granola bars and Nutrigrain bars.  I could go through a box a day.  But that gets expensive.  So I try to find homemade shortcut versions.  Now my versions don't always look as pretty as the store bought kind, but I know exactly what is going in mine and it's a lot cheaper.  Plus, I get to do whatever flavor I am in the mood for at the moment, or several flavors if I'd like.  This time, I did an apple cinnamon.

Apple Filling:
2 apples, peeled, cored, cubed
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
tbsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in water (if needed)

1/2 cup of butter
1 egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
3 1/2 cups oatmeal ground (measure before you grind and I ground mine up in the food processor)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

First, cut up 2 apples.  I squirted them with lemon to give them a little tang.

(I forgot to peel mine but I didn't notice any difference with leaving the peels once it was cooked)

In a saucepan I melted like a tablespoon of butter and sauteed the apples.

When they started to soften, I added brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Let a sauce form and cook the apples until they are soft.

Add a mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken it up, if needed.

Once the sauce was really thick I blended it in the food processor. Let this cool while you make the bar dough.

Cream the butter and sugars together, then add the egg. 

Add the vanilla. Add the oats, flour, baking soda and powder and salt. 

Place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes so it's easier to work with.

Divide the dough in half.  Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray and press half the dough into the bottom of dish.  

Spread the apple filling on top. (you can use any kind of filling, try berries or apricot or anything you feel like eating.)  Roll out the other half and lay over the apple filling.

My dough came apart as I was laying it so I had to piece it back together.....I was impatient and didn't let it set up in the fridge)

Let it cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

If you want to do other flavors, you can use your favorite jam or preserves and just spread those on.