Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mini Pizza Pops

So these were originally Mini Deep Dish Pizza's using muffin tins, but I didn't love the idea of my kids biting into a cup of pizza sauce. So we made them like this and called them pizza pops cause they could just pop'em in their mouth.

Their texture is perfect! They crisp up nicely on the bottom and kind of curl up a tad around the edges. Needless to say my kids went crazy for them! Using just 1 tortilla, I got 12 mini's out of it so each of my girls got to make 6. It was the perfect after school snack. It actually filled them up enough and I didn't hear any requests for snacks before dinner! That's pretty darn huge ;).


What you will need: 
  • Tortilla's
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzerella cheese
  • Mini pepperoni's
  • Any other pizza toppings you like
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425*
  • Cut circles out of a tortilla, whatever size you like, though the mini's are pretty darn cute
  • Add your pizza sauce, cheese and toppings
  • Lay mini's down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  • Bake for about 10 minutes 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

3 Ingredient Homemade Cheeze-Its

This week I decided not to refill the kids "snack box." They get to pick out one after school every day, but the choices were things like cookies, chips and, you guessed it, cheeze-its.

So I got all ambitious this week and was like hey, surely I can come up with snack box level deliciousness that won't cost my kids health quite so much. I stumbled on these homemade cheeze-its and thought well, at least these aren't going to be packed with over 20 crap ingredients.

The very best part about these? My kids LOVED them! My husband said they taste exactly like Cheeze It's....just....fresher. You're basically just eating baked cheese :). I call this a 3 ingredient recipe, but technically there's 4 if you count the 2 T water.....so...sorry I lied to you.

A few notes about this recipe:

On a scale of 1-10, the crunch/crispy factor was at about 7 with my first batch (I purposely baked small batches so I could do test runs first and not ruin them all at once). I made sure my cheese and butter were both room temperature so I thought about other ways to get them crispier. I tried rolling out the dough even thinner and baked them for about 10 minutes longer than the recipe says. (That was weird, considering that I usually have to cut my cooking time for most recipes with how my oven is). I also turned on the broiler for a minute at the end and I think that kicked up the score to a 9.

After using the 2 T of water like the recipe said, the mixture still looked dry and crumbly in the food processor. I decided to feel it and see how it was doing. It was PERFECT! So, make sure you feel the dough after the initial 2 T, you should be able to mold it all together into a smooth ball. It was a lot like play-dough. Hey.....a play dough recipe I won't panic if my 1 1/2 year old eats! Wahoo!

There was no specifics on how long to chill the dough. I stuck mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes the first time (remember that was the batch that resulted in a 7 on the crispy scale). So I left the dough in the freezer about 20 minutes the next couple times around. I think that helped!

I added some kosher salt to the crackers right before I put them in the oven on my last two batches. the first batch wasn't salty enough for me even with the original recipe calling for 1 tsp. salt. So I would just skip that part and add crunchy salt to the tops instead (but I have an insane salt tooth so judge it for yourself!)

All in all, make sure you're rolling the dough out thin enough and chilling the dough long enough and these will be perfection!



What you will need:
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, room temp.
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 4 T butter, room temp
  • 1 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 2 T ice water
Directions:
  • Add grated cheese, flour, butter and optional salt into a food processor and pulse until it's blended into a fine crumbly mixture
  • Add in the water and blend until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the processor (will probably still look crumbly, but FEEL IT for a playdough-like consistency first before adding more water) 
  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Shape dough into a ball and chill in plastic wrap until dough is more firm (keeping mine in the freezer for about 20 minutes I think gave me the best results)
  • Roll the dough to 1/8" thick and slice with a pizza cutter into little squares
  • Use a toothhpick or skewer to poke holes into the middles
  • Add salt if desired
  • Bake for about 15 minutes and check every 5 minutes after that until they are desired crispiness

Saturday, May 21, 2016

German Chocolate Cake with German Chocolate Frosting

It's called a German Chocolate Cake, but zero German chocolate was used. So what does that make it? Really it's just a good ol' rich chocolate cake with that traditional coconut and pecan frosting. The frosting is CRAZY good. My 5 year old took a spoon to the pan and sat on a bucket in the kitchen scraping off the sides until there was absolutely no trace left.
So, legit German Cake or not, this recipe will be used and used again in our house! Hop over to A Dash of Sanity to check out the background on this amazing cake!

What you will need:
Cake
  • 2 C white sugar
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 C boiling water

Frosting
  • 1 C evaporated milk
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 3 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 C chopped pecans
  • 1 C coconut
  • 1 T cornstarch

Directions:
Cake
  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Grease 2 9x9 round cake pans, 3 8x8 round cake pans, or 1 13x9 cake pan (I just made 2 9x9 cakes)
  • Add all dry cake ingredients into a mixing bowl or Kitchen-Aid and blend well
  • Add all wet ingredients except for boiling water one by one and blend well
  • Add in boiling water little by little until mixed in
  • Blend for about 1 minute after water has been mixed in
  • Pour even amount of cake batter into each cake pan
  • Bake about 30-35 minutes
  • Allow to cool completely

Frosting
  • In a sauce pan, mix evaporated milk and sugar together
  • Add in cornstarch, mix well
  • Add sugar and eggs, blend well
  • Bring to a slow boil
  • Start stirring constantly for 12 minutes while it thickens
  • Add in vanilla and mix in
  • Remove from heat and stir in pecans and coconut
  • Let it cool before frosting

Monday, December 14, 2015

Raspberry Sauce

Well, this stuff was a goldmine to find at The Gunny Sack! I made it a few months ago for my daughters birthday because she wanted cake waffles? So I had to think up a few toppings to use for those. This was one of them and everyone loved it.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I tried to make a layered cake for my sons birthday. I made this sauce to layer between the cakes. The cake fell apart and I was left to just go buy a little cake for my son instead. I picked up a cheesecake for everyone else and....tuh duh! Still had some raspberry sauce I could use with it.

So, this stuff is basically a staple. Use it on ice cream! Cake! Cheesecake. Waffles. Pancakes. Whatever you want! It's so incredibly easy and just so darn delicious. My husband goes nuts over it.



What you will need:
  • 12 oz. raspberries
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T cold water
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
Directions:
  • On medium heat, cook the raspberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan until the raspberries start to break down (about 5-7 minutes) 
  • Combine the cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the raspberry sauce
  • cook for about 30-60 seconds until the mixture is thickened
  • Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt
  • Let the sauce cool and then store in a container in the fridge

Friday, November 27, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wow, a title doesn't get any more simple than that, does it? Chocolate chip cookies. What a wonderful name.

About 4 years ago or so I created my own "perfect" chocolate chip cookie recipe. It was fit for me. It had everything I wanted. Chewy, soft, spread out just right, not too dry, not too fluffy, gooey and buttery golden flavor (yes, "golden" is a flavor).

I hid it in my computer labeled "secret cookie recipe."

And then my computer crashed. We recovered some pictures, but no cookie recipe came along with it. I'd had it memorized for a while and slowly, I started forgetting exactly what it was. I settled for making the recipe on the back of Nestlea Tollhouse packages. They were satisfying enough. But I still longed for my cookie.

Fast forward to today, scrolling through Pinterest and I see a picture of a cookie that looked exactly like mine! I had to try. And boy, I tell you what. These are BETTER than mine! I did add 1tsp of water to the batter and it was just heavenly!

I will not use any other recipe other than this from now on. This is it, you guys! This is perfection! I stared at my nestlea chocolate chips and my guittard chocolate chips trying to decide what to use the first time around. I went with guittard. They're huge. And I wanted chocolate. So these were very, VERY chocolatey. I can't wait to make them again with the regular sized chips now.

The fact that I have no clue where this woman lives and having this recipe work brilliantly in my high altitude desert of a city says a lot to me. It's gotta be fool proof!

Here's my picture. But I promise you, the pictures of the cookies on her post is what makes it and does them justice. RUN to her page at Gimme Some Oven so you can see what you can really expect with these! Maybe I'll update my photo once I don't have these huge honkin' chocolate chips all over. Maybe.


What you will need:
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C white sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C chocolate chips (+ some to stick on the tops right before they go in the oven)
  • Parchment paper (optional, but it does make a difference!)
Directions:
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add in the vanilla and egg and mix until well blended
  • Slowly add in the flour, corn starch and baking soda until well combined
  • Toss in the chocolate chips and mix it all up
  • Refrigerate the dough about 20 minutes (I didn't........so I guess you can see the difference!)
  • Preheat the oven to 350*
  • Lay some parchment paper over a baking sheet
  • Roll the dough into balls, or scoop them using a cookie scoop (I scooped with a cookie scoop and then rolled them into a ball)
  • Place each ball onto the baking sheet and stick a few extra chocolate chips on the tops of 'em
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Pull them out and let them finish cooking a bit on the sheet
  • EAT. RIGHT AWAY.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crock Pot Taco Soup

My kids and I made a tradition last year that on the first snow fall of the season we make sugar cookies and have hot chocolate. It's flurried here and there but nothing I would call "the first snow."

Today has been kind of a nail biter! Is it the first snow fall? Really? Is it going to melt in an hour? Can I for sure give it the first snow label? I can't decide, and the clock is ticking!

In the meantime, taco soup. Need I say more? Warm up with this gem. I served it with the Olive Garden Bread Sticks and it was a big hit! Which is extremely rewarding since it was a typical "threw it together" meal. Whew!



What you will need:
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3 cans beef broth
  • 1 1/2 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 pkg. ranch mix 
  • 1 lb. ground beef
Directions
  • Dump all the canned ingredients into the crock pot 
  • Mix in the taco seasoning and ranch mix
  • Brown the ground beef and add it into the crock pot to mix in
  • Cook on low 4-6 hours
  • Top with grated cheese and a healthy dollop of sour cream if desired!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Olive Garden Bread Sticks Copycat

My family is no stranger to the Olive Garden. My husband worked there off and on for 8 years, including working as the culinary assistant. So he gave me a few pointers on these bread sticks, but part of it just wasn't going to happen (drenching them in "well it's not really butter....I think it's worse than margarine. It melts at room temperature so they just paint it on until it's completely saturated"), and some wasn't possible (being shipped to my doorstep so I can just pop them in the oven).

I feel like the flavor of these were super spot on and extremely delicious. They were all eaten in a few minutes! The texture was mostly there, but I think I kneaded my dough too long by accident so they weren't as soft! I also didn't portion out  or "roll" the dough at all. I chose a much easier way, which turned out to work perfect! So I'll write the recipe the way it originally is from Cooking Classy , but I'll include my notes at the bottom, too :).

PS- most of my pictures for the next few months will be sad to look at. I don't have any special lighting so once it's dark so early, I'm working with dark natural light and bright awkward artificial light. So it is what it is!


What you will need:
  • 1 C + 2 T warm water
  • 1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 T sugar, divided
  • 3-3 1/4 C flour*
  • 1 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • salt*
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder*
Directions:
  •  Using the whisk attachment (or just a whisk yourself), whisk together the warm water and yeast with 1/2 tsp sugar until the years is dissolved
  • Let that sit for a good 10 minutes until it's nice and frothy
  • Add in the reamining sugar (1 T+ 2 1/2 tsp)
  • Add in the salt
  • Add in the vegetable oil and, using the paddle attachment, blend until just combined
  • Add in 1 1/2 C of the flour and blend until just combined
  • Switch to the dough hook and add the last 1 1/2 C of flour while the dough hook kneads the dough until the dough is pulling away from the sides, smooth and elastic (still slightly sticky), adding in up to another 1/4 c of flour if needed*
  • Place ball of dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap to raise in a warm setting for about 1 1/2 hours
  • Pinch down risen dough
  • Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (2 oz. each by weight)*
  • Roll each piece into a 9" rope*
  • Place each rope onto a buttered baking sheet
  • Cover and let them raise again for another hour
  • Preheat oven to 425*
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes*
  • Run the end of a stick of butter over the top of the bread sticks straight out of the oven
  • Sprinkle on the salt and garlic powder
My notes-
*It says you can add up to 1/4 C more of flour, but I found that after the initial 3 C it was plenty
*I would reccomend not using regular table salt. Something a big bigger or more crunchy is nice. I just used some Kosher salt with a tad bigger
*I didn't measure out the salt or the garlic powder, I just sprinkled them on until it looked right
*Instead of portioning everything out, I rolled out the dough into a large square. Using a pizza cutter, I trimmed off the edges so I had a nice straight sided square. After that I cut strips into the dough with the pizza cutter horizontally, and then one slice down the middle vertically, so I had strips of dough.
I put them on the baking sheet and kind of sculpted the ends just a little so they were a bit more "round" but it's not necessary. They'll still come out round once they've baked!
*Since my bread sticks were a little shorter, they were done after 8 minutes and I turned the broiler on the for the last few seconds to get the golden brown look