Sunday, December 28, 2008

M&M Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

I am always looking for cute new ways to make cookies that aren't just the classic flat circle. These are so adorable and perfectly bite-sized. The original recipe comes from Picky Palate but I changed a couple things to make it easier and so that I could just use ingredients already in the pantry.
  • 1 cup peanut butter

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup mini M&M's

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place peanut butter, sugar and egg into a large bowl and mix until well combined. Scoop dough evenly into a 12 count mini cheesecake pan or mini muffin pan. Cook for 15-18 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Place chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until melted smooth. Stir in heavy cream until silky and smooth. You can return back to microwave for 15 seconds to get a thinner consistency. Spoon chocolate over top and sprinkle with mini M&M's.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

This is probably the easiest dessert recipe ever. Only three ingredients and it only takes 5 minutes to prepare. Every time I make this it disappears in a day, so double or triple the recipe so you can keep some for yourself and share the rest with friends.

  • 16 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

  • 6 oz white chocolate chips

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave for about 1 -2 minutes or until smooth. Make sure to take out bowl carefully and stir every 20-30 seconds.

In a pan lined with parchment or wax paper, spread out a thin even coat of the heated chocolate mixture.

In another microwave-safe bowl, heat white chocolate in the microwave the same way as the above mixture. Drizzle the white chocolate over the peanut butter/chocolate mixture.

Place into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until chocolate has completely cooled. Break into pieces and store in a ziploc bag.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This is a perfect little snack time treat. If you want to make it a little healthier, leave out the chocolate chips and cut back on the sugar and just have them be oatmeal cookie bars -- sweeter than a granola bar, but not quite as unhealthy as a regular cookie.

This classic oatmeal and chocolate chip recipe is perfect for the holidays or any time of the year and will go great in your treat bags!

  • 2 1/4 cups rolled oats

  • 1 1/4 cup flour

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 4 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 egg white

  • 1 tbsp vanilla

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat to 325°F. Line baking pan with parchment paper.

Whisk oats, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in egg, then egg white, then vanilla. Stir in the oat mixture with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread out dough into the pan to make an even layer.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top of the bars are lightly golden brown. Let cool. Cut bars into squares and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


This is one of my Dad's favorites -- I make a plate and its usually gone in a day. These cookies are nice and soft on the inside and sugary and slightly crisp around the edges. Although you have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands a little dirty, they are definitely worth it!
  • 1 stick butter, softened

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 2 3/4 cups flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp Cream of Tartar

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 4 tbsp sugar

  • 3 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until well-combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Slowly add in flour, baking soda, salt, and Cream of Tartar. Mix until just combined.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into small balls about the size of a ping-pong ball and then lightly press them to be in the shape of a thick, flat disc. Cover both sides with the cinnamon sugar mixture and place onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart from each other. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until barely golden-brown. Let cool for about 3-5 minutes and then remove from cookie sheet and place on cooling rack. Store in an airtight container after completely cooled.

Makes 2 dozen large cookies.

Original recipe from Pillsbury.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Coconut Macaroons

Every year I am dying for some new cookie recipes to add to my Christmas cookie list and so I am part of the Food Network 12 Days of Cookies recipe special. Basically every day for 12 days beginning December 1 they email you a cookie recipe from one of their chefs.

This was Day 1 and I thought it was perfect because NO FLOUR! And although I am usually not a huge coconut fan, in dessert I always make an exception.

  • 15 oz shredded coconut

  • 2 oz sweetened condensed milk

  • pinch kosher salt

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 4 egg whites

  • 5 oz sugar

  • 12 oz chocolate chips

  • 1 oz shortening

Preheat oven to 325F.

Combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip the whites until medium peaks form, 6 to 7 minutes.

Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately transfer the parchment with the macaroons to a cooling rack. Cool completely before topping.

Fill a 4-quart pot with enough water to come 2 inches up the side, set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small metal or glass mixing bowl and set over the simmering pot. Stir occasionally until melted, then remove from the heat.

Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate mixture. (I added mini chocolate chips to the top too!)

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oreo Fudge Bars

I often frequent the blog of the Baking Blonde and she always posts such yummy looking desserts. I thought this was the perfect cookie inside a "cookie" type dessert for the holidays. The great part is you can make these a day or two in advance as long as you wrap them up well and then you have one more recipe checked off your list!

  • 16oz. package of Oreo cookies

  • 1 stick butter, melted

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM. Set aside 6 Oreo cookies for the toppings.

In a small food processor, grind the rest of the cookies. If you don’t have a food processor, just pound with a rolling pin until the cookies are fine crumbs. Add the salt to the crumbs and stir to combine. Melt butter and gently stir together with the cookie crumb mixutre. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Coarsely chop the remaining cookies into chunks and set aside.

Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt 3/4 cup semi-sweet and 1/2 cup milk chocoalte chips together with the condensed milk and vanilla. Stir frequently until smooth. Spread evenly over the prepared cookie crust. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and the Oreo cookies chunks over the top of the filling. Press down gently into the chocolate topping.

Bake for 20-22 minutes oven. Allow to cool on counter for 1 hour. Chill in fridge until completely cold and set before cutting into bars.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Treat Platters

Every single year I want to put together treat plates that have lots of different cookies, bars, treats, and snacks to give out to family and friends and every single year I get so busy and so I usually make two different cookies and call it a day. This year I am going to try to make a lot of different recipes ... some new and some that I can recite off the top of my head.

These recipes will be coming in the next week or so as my I bake my heart away ...

  • Coconut Macaroons

  • Classic Sugar Cookies

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

  • Eclairs and Cream Puffs

  • Snickerdoodles

  • M&M Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

  • Black and White Cookies

  • .... and maybe a few surprises too .....

I hope you all enjoy and have a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No TWD this week :(

So despite my planning ahead and gathering up all the ingredients and trying to fit in a baking day this weekend I just didn't have the time. I will try this recipe out in the future though -- possibly on Saturday and then I can have a Weekend with Dorie. I checked out some other blogs though and they look great! I will have to squeeze it into my schedule even if that means 2am. See you all soon!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Garlic Shrimp with Citrus Lime Dipping Sauce

I am pretty much crazy about shrimp. It’s one of my favorite foods yet it’s rare that I make it (I think I assume I will have to do much more work to make it a solid meal). After making this dish though I think I will put it on the menu much more often. I originally made this recipe as an appetizer, but it definitely could easily be paired with rice and a vegetable or even added to the top of a salad and there you have it -- a main course.


  • ½ lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

  • Small handful of cilantro, chopped

  • Salt and black pepper

  • Cayenne pepper to taste (I just sprinkle a little on the shrimp to give it some heat)

  • Oil


  • ½ cup orange juice

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp lime juice

  • 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with ¼ cup chicken broth

In a skillet, heat a couple tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds (you don’t want to burn the garlic). Add shrimp (seasoned with salt and peppers) and cilantro and cook until shrimp is pink. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining ingredients on medium heat until just boiling. Lower heat and simmer about 5 minutes. This allows the sauce to thicken a bit. Serve in a dish beside shrimp.

Note: If you want to make this recipe as a main dish you will need to at least double it. You can also modify the sauce into more of a dressing if you add olive oil and leave out the cornstarch.

Adapted from a recipe by Robin Miller

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are great classic chocolate chip cookies. I saw it on the Food Network show "Good Eats" with Alton Brown. This was my favorite of his cookie recipes because it makes the cookies puffy, fat, and chewy ones instead of the thin, crispy type.
  • 1 cup shortening

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • ¾ cup white sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla

  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour

  • 1 tsp. coarse salt

  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder

  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Cream together shortening and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well-mixed. Add vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients slowly to creamed mixture. After ingredients are fully combined, stir in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate cookie dough for at least an hour. Drop a heaping tablespoon of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 375ºF for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges. Cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

Recipe can be modified for white chocolate or peanut butter chips or whatever else your taste buds desire.

Note: I sometimes make a double batch of this and keep the extra dough in a sealed container in the fridge for an extra couple days so that you can just scoop it onto the baking sheet and cook when friends or family visit.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I had this idea from when I was younger and we used to buy the frozen lasagna from the grocery store and pop it in the oven. I love having meals during the week that don't require a whole lot of prep time so that I have the freedom to get other things done after work. This allows for just that. This recipe can also be modified to make in a large baking pan and then baked right away.

  • Lasagna noodles

  • Tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought)

  • Mozzarella cheese

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese

  • 2 tsp oregano

  • 2 tsp parsley

  • 1 tsp coarse salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Mix the ricotta cheese and other ingredients together into a bowl. Set aside.

Boil lasagna noodles for about 8-10 minutes to get them soft. In foil loaf pans, spread a thin layer of sauce and lay noodles on top.

Spread a layer of ricotta mixture evenly and layer next set of noodles. Spread a thin layer of sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat, ending with sauce and mozzarella. Place foil over pans and place into freezer.

When ready to cook, remove from freezer and let sit about an hour. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbly.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

These were a hit with everybody at a Labor Day picnic that I attended this past weekend. A lot of people asked for the recipe and said that they could taste all the major ingredients (oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter). I added a little more peanut butter than the recipe called for since a lot of people said that the peanut flavor didn't come through as much as they liked.

Definitely a recipe that will be made again soon! Great choice by Stefany from Proceed with Caution

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cake Decorating

This is a rave for the cake decorating classes by Wilton. I thought the class was well worth the money I paid. I took it at one of the local craft stores and they were having a "sale" on the first level for $21 (plus supplies) for all four sessions (two hours each). I definitely learned a lot of simple techniques for making my cakes and cupcakes look great. I would recommend level I for anyone interested in baking! I am trying to take the next level this month!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I love avocado. period. It is one thing that I could have on just about any type of dish. This recipe is easy ... mash the avocado, add the rest of the ingredients and serve with chips. It's the perfect afternoon snack.

  • 3 ripe avocados

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped

  • 1 tomato, chopped

  • 1/2 clove of garlic, minced

  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (no seeds)

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Halve and pit the avocados. With a tablespoon, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. Lightly mash the avocados using a fork, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add additional seasoning of salt and pepper to taste.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap tight on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn't brown. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


I think these are a great mid-week meal because you can do so much with them and they don't require a lot of constant attention. The other night I decided to make them into sandwiches with cheese melted over the top on a toasted bun. If you aren't into the sandwiches, you could also just throw them on top of some pasta or even eat them plain with a side dish or salad. Everyone makes their meatballs different and I probably make them slightly different each time, but here is the general recipe +/- a few pinches.

  • 1 lb ground beef (I use extra lean)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (I like a little zip in my meatballs)

  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano

  • 1 tsp parsley

  • 1 tbsp ketchup

  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
Simmer a pot of your favorite or homemade tomato sauce with a lid on top (keeps it from getting everywhere).

Mix all above ingredients (except the meat) together in a large bowl until seasonings have blended together. Add meat in and mix well. (I usually just get my hands right in there). Roll meat into balls about the size of a ping pong or golf ball and carefully place them into the simmering sauce. Cover pot again with a lid and let simmer about 25 to 30 minutes.

If you want to make these as sandwiches, I lightly toast the bun then add the meatballs and some cheese and put in back in the oven for a minute or so to melt the cheese and get it nice and bubbly.

Note: If you want this meal to be gluten-free, just serve them on gluten-free bread or pasta, or have it in a bowl with sauce.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TWD: Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

This is the perfect week to make this recipe since this is a birthday month for so many of my family and friends. This is my first post for Tuesday's with Dorie, I just received the cookbook in the mail last Friday and I don't think I put it down once this weekend. This is also the perfect one to start with because my mom can eat it too (she must eat gluten-free)! Thanks to Amy at Food, Family, and Fun for a great recipe choice!

For the ice cream layers in the torte I chose to go with Dorie's "playing around" options and chose a vanilla ice cream filled with fudge chunks and mini peanut butter cups because I figure if its going to be decadent I might as well go with chocolate all the way. Plus this needs to feed at least 10 people, so I figure they will be small slices anyway.

I promise to post the final picture all frozen and ready to be eaten later on this week when the celebrations begin. But for now, please settle on the layering process photos and pray that I can get the torte out of the pan in one piece :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cream Cheese Frosting

My cousin loves red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Since I didn't have a whole lot of time on my hands to make her that favorite dessert of hers for her birthday I opted for a boxed red velvet cake mix even though I have a recipe that I have made before. I figured that since I was taking the easy way out with the cake mix I should make the frosting from scratch. It was super easy ... I only use 4 ingredients and if you have a mixer it comes together in a flash.

  • 1 stick butter, softened

  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

  • 1 1/4 lb. powdered sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

After combining all the ingredients and letting it mix for a few minutes to incorporate and become light and fluffy, I put some plastic wrap over it and threw it in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill it a bit since I was going to be using this striping technique I learned to color the frosting.

I used a piping bag with the 1M tip and red, blue, and yellow food coloring gels from Wilton to create the striping.

I think she really ended up liking them and I think I will make them this Halloween with some orange food coloring and chocolate cupcakes (hopefully from scratch)!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pad Thai

I love making pasta-like dishes that my mom can eat with the rest of the family. This dish is light and satisfies your thai-food craving without a lot of oil and batter and can be served as a side dish or main course. (I wish I got another picture but by the time I checked my camera it was all gone)

  • 8 oz rice noodles

  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • 1/4 lb shrimp

  • 1/2 lb chicken, sliced thin

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

  • 3 tbsp peanut oil

  • 2 tbsp minced garlic

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup bean sprouts

  • 1 cup green onions, chopped

  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

  • 1/8 cup minced fresh cilantro

  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice

In a large bowl, combine the noodles with water to cover. Soak until just tender, about 45 minutes, then drain. In a small bowl, combine the chicken stock, vinegar, peanut butter and sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Season the shrimp and chicken with cayenne.

In a wok or large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and chicken and cook until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add the eggs and cook, stirring, until just set, about 45 seconds. Add the sprouts, onions, sauce mixture, and noodles, and cook, stirring, until warmed through.

Add the shrimp and chicken and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a serving platter and toss with the cilantro and lime juice. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner

I used to love having breakfast for dinner when I was younger and I thought this would be the perfect night to curl up on the couch, watch the Olympics, and relax with a plate of warm pancakes. I love putting chocolate chips in my pancakes - I think I learned about this from a friend when I was camping in Elementary school and I have rarely eaten a pancake without them since. I also have some leftover blueberries from the muffins I recently made so I had to make some pancakes with those in there too. If you are not a fan of chocolate chips or blueberries, add your own favorite or just have the classic pancakes with maple syrup.

  • 1 1/4 cups flour

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • 4 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • 4 tbsp butter

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and milk. Place over low heat just until warm and the butter is melted. Let cool slightly. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix well. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the milk mixture. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until barely blended.

Heat a skillet on medium heat, ladle batter onto the skillet. If adding in blueberries, chocolate chips, or any other topping -- sprinkle on to batter and quickly pour a small amount of additional batter right over it to slightly cover topping. This helps keeps the toppings from burning.

Cook, until bubbles break the surface of the pancakes, and the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional minute or so. Remove from heat and continue with the rest of the batter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


These are simple and go with just about everything. You can eat them plain, serve with ice cream, or glaze with icing -- anyway you slice it they are a perfect little treat. I also like it because its a smaller recipe so you don't end up with 2 dozen brownies and feel bad if you can't finish them all before they go bad. I add chocolate chips to give it that little extra chocolatety-ness but if you want to leave them out or substitute nuts or other chips they will turn out just as great.

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup flour

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium pan over very low heat. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the flour. Add chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 8-inch square pan.

Bake about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tasting Session

Thus far, all posts I have made here have been about recipes that I have actually prepared and cooked myself. This is going to be the exception, well the first anyway. Since this is a blog about cooking to please, I thought it was fitting to include a post about cooking that pleased my palate.

My best friend works at a steak and seafood restaurant in Southern California and she invited me to a dinner that she won from a raffle among her fellow employees. She told me the chefs were going to make a few dishes and pair it with wine and we could hang out and chat, etc. I of course jumped at the chance – I love food, especially new ones I have never had and I love wine.

Nothing could have prepared me for that evening. It was seven courses! Everything ranging from chicken and waffles to a filet with fresh pasta and 99% pure cocoa for dessert (boy was that rich). I am not even going to try to describe each dish because I would screw it up and because I don’t have a single one of the recipes – instead I have included photos and hopefully in the future I will try to create some of these amazing dishes myself and include the wine of course!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Creme Brulee

For my mom’s birthday I wanted to make her a dessert that would be tasty but not super filling since we were dining out and would already be full. Instead of just ice cream I wanted to give her something she never gets to have and that’s when I thought of Crème Brulee!

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1 cup sugar

  • Pinch of Salt

  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla

  • 6 egg yolks

  • Granulated Brown Sugar

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of cream, sugar, and salt until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining cream, vanilla, and egg yolks. Add to heated cream and sugar mixture. Pour through strainer to ensure a smooth mixture is poured into the cups.

Pour cream mixture into creme brulee dishes that are set in a towel-lined pan. This will keep dishes from moving around. Carefully pour hot water around the dishes. Do not drop water into cream mixture.

Bake in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until custard has just set. (Baking time depends on the depth of dishes).

Carefully remove dishes from pan and place on a wire rack. When cooled, place into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Remove and sprinkle sugar across top of each dish and using a torch heat sugar until golden brown. Place back in refrigerator for an additional 30-45 minutes to chill. Serve.