Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

I tend to judge a recipe by it's name. The more adjectives in a sweet treat, the better in my opinion. I was hoping to put this up sooner, but my laziness kicked in. But at least I was consistent these last two posts. This one and the last one were both posted on the 21st of the month. Maybe that should be my goal for now. I wanted to post weekly, but that's not working so well. Although a month from now all my time will be spent packing because we are moving into a house! We are pretty excited. But for now, back to my sweet treat full of adjectives.

Think of a thick chocolate chip cookie stuffed with salted make this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod because that is essentially what you get. These rich bars keep well and are perfect for potluck desserts, parties, or just taking the pan to the couch and digging in.

Yield: 9x13 pan, cut however you'd like
Time: 45ish minutes

12 Tbs melted butter, cooled
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla 
2 1/8 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
 2 cups chocolate chips
10 oz caramel candies, unwrapped (it's not quite a whole  bag)
3 Tbsp heavy cream
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 325 and prepare a 9x13 glass pan with a bit of cooking spray or butter.

In a large bowl use a mixer or beater to combine cooled melted butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Slowly add in the flour, salt, and soda. People always say to mix the dry ingredients and then add them in to the wet, but I almost never do that. I add in 1 cup of flour to the wet and mix it up. Then I measure out the 1/8 cup flour with the salt and baking soda and add that in. Finish up with the last cup of flour.

When the dry ingredients are mixed in, time to stir in the best part, the chocolate chips!

Once the batter is ready, press about half the dough into your prepared pan; cover the whole bottom.

Now get those caramels and add in the heavy cream. Microwave that gooeyness until they are melted. It normally takes about 2 minutes on high, stopping to stir every 20-30 seconds. As soon as the caramels are all melted and the cream is absorbed, it's ready.

Pour the melted caramel all over the dough pressed in the pan. Use all that gooey goodness to cover the dough.

Once that's done, sprinkle as much sea salt as you want on top of the caramel. I tend to put more than I think is necessary, because there is a lot of flavor in these bars and I want the salt to be tasted and not hidden.

Once it's covered with your desired amount of salt, press the rest of the cookie dough on top of the caramel. I like to take chunks of the dough and flatten it with my fingers before placing it on top of the caramel. You won't completely cover the caramel, just cover what you can.

Finally, sprinkle some more salt on top and stick that pan in the oven!

Let the bars bake for about 30 minutes or until the top of the bars are golden and the edges pull away from the pan. Sadly, you have to let these bars cool to room temperature on a cooling rack before you can cut them, otherwise they become a ridiculous mess.

Cut at your own risk.

Watch how fast these bars disappear and enjoy!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

I have been meaning to post again, and it just hadn't happened. But today is a snow day for many in NE Kansas so I figured I had no excuse!

I don't make much pork, but it always seems to be delicious when I finally do. This recipe is from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, like many of my recipes. They do amazing things over there.

This pork recipe is for the crock pot and it doesn't take a whole lot of prep. Give yourself a few minutes in the morning and a few when you get home and this meal is as good as done. It's got a sweet, herby, and tangy flavor with a yummy glaze that is delicious over rice. So if you want something easy to do with pork, give this a try.

Time: 6-8 hours
2 lb boneless pork loin roast
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (or more if you love garlic as much as we do)
1/2 cup water

Glaze ingredients
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Start off by mixing the sage, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.

Not get a little dirty and rub that mixture all over the meat. (By the way, it's totally ok to do this with frozen pork...I do it all the time.) With the seasoned pork in the crock pot, pour in the water.

Cook that yummyness on whatever time-frame you need. I normally let mine cook while I'm at school for 9ish hours on low or med-low, but that is almost too long, so use your judgement.

Once the meat is about ready, whip up that glaze. Combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over med-high heat, whisking until it comes to a boil.

 Reduce the heat and let it simmer until it thicken up.

While the glaze simmers, shred up the pork, and give it a little taste-test of course.

Delicious now...

...even better.

 You can either drizzle glaze over it now, or you can dish up the pork on top of some rice and then smother it. Either way, make sure you use that glaze! It's delicious on the pork. Some times I wish I had made a double recipe. Enjoy!

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

I haven't posted since November! I have no excuse for not posting...just laziness. Also, the husband and I have been looking for a new place to live. That is turning out to be way more time consuming than it should be. We have been searching for about a month now and hopefully we are getting close. So back to food...

I have been obsessed with this dip from Yahoo Lifestyle lately. I made it once in the fall and loved it, but never made it again until this weekend. I have made it twice now and it's so delicious. It even gets my husband to eat fruit. It's super simple and even fairly healthy. If you have apples, you should probably try it. I apologize for unattractive photos...I'm experimenting with a new camera and I was too excited to eat the dip to really take good photos.

Time: not long at all
1 small container vanilla greek yogurt (whatever brand you like, I like Oikos)
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp honey
dash of cinnamon
Apple - any kind, we like Gala

Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined.

Eat with apples! Told you it was easy.

This dip makes enough for 2-3 apples depending on how much you dip.

If you have leftovers, it keeps well for a few days.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chunky Monkey Pancakes

 Pancakes are one of the best weekend breakfasts. Whether loaded with chocolate chips, blueberries, or just plain covered with peanut butter, nutella, or syrup, they are delicious. On the weekends I like to try new breakfasts recipes that are typically a little richer or sweeter than your typical breakfast. These pancakes from Our Best Bites fit that. As an added bonus, these pancakes utilize over-ripe bananas. Not only do these pancakes have bananas in the batter, there is also chocolate chips. Oh and one more thing, they are drizzled with peanut butter syrup. It's reminiscent of maple-glazed donuts, specifically those from Casey's (if you are from my area you know what I mean). These pancakes are an awesome weekend breakfast with just enough sweetness.

Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 14ish pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice mixed with milk to make 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp vegetable/canola oil
1 large egg
2 medium ripe bananas
6 Tbsp mini chocolate chips (or regular chips roughly chopped)
2 tsp flour
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, vanilla, oil, and egg.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combines. Lumps are ok in pancakes batter

Let that mixture sit off to the side and address the browning bananas. You know, the ones that you don't want to eat but aren't quite ready to freeze for banana bread later.

Peel those sweet bananas and mash them in a bowl. Take out some pent up aggression on those bananas. Although I hope you are too frustrated on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Also at the point, ready the chocolate. These pancakes wouldn't be as rich as intended without the chocolate. If you have regular chocolate chips, take a knife to them...

...and then toss the chocolate with those 2 tsp of flour. You could skip this step, but the chocolate would probably sink to the bottom of the batter without it. 

Fold the mashed bananas and the flour-coated chocolate chips into the batter.

Now get that skillet or griddle ready! Heat it over medium heat. When hot, use cooking spray or butter (preferred method) to coat the surface. Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter and make those delicious disks. You can use 1/8 cup if you want smaller pancakes. 

When the edges are set and the surface of the pancakes start bubbling, flip them!

Cook until lightly browned on both sides.

Now that pancakes are ready, or at least close to being ready, get that syrup and peanut butter.

 Heat 1/2 cup peanut butter in a small bowl for about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup of maple syrup until combined and then heat for another 30 seconds. This stuff isn't necessary, but it's definitely desired. So peanut buttery, sweet, and rich. It's amazing.

Or if you are feeling lame, just skip the peanut butter syrup and enjoy your banana chocolate chip pancakes.

However you enjoy these chunky monkey pancakes, make them! You won't regret it!
Original recipe at 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Pork Chops

This blog post if finishing up a pretty great 3-day weekend. Friday consisted of watching Halloween movies, carving pumpkins, and getting lost in a corn maze with friends. Saturday started with hot cocoa in bed from D (that's now husband's name here...I wasn't feeling very clever) and a trip to farmer's market for apples, cider, peppers, and spices. I also enjoyed time with co-workers from one of my schools. Today was a morning of laziness and an afternoon of playing board games with some pretty great people. We played games until about 6:00 and I didn't plan dinner ahead of time. Thankfully, I had some pork chops thawed in the fridge and knew I had a couple recipes that took little time to prepare and cook.

D and I use to eat chicken for practically every meal. Thankfully we have branched out. We have much more variety in what we eat, and pork chops are among the various things I make now. Before last year I don't think I had ever cooked a pork chop. I bought some on a whim because they were on sale and now we have 1-2 per month. They are so tasty and cook so quickly. This particular recipe comes from Beth M at Budget Bytes and it is a tasty sweet heat dish. The ingredients are minimal and time is less than 30 minutes so it's a great way to whip up a yummy dinner. If you are a fan of pork and like sweet heat, try these!

Yield: 4 pork chops
Time: 25ish minutes
4 thick cut pork chops (bone-in or not; thin chops may also be used, you just have to watch them)
olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Rub that delicious spice mix on those pork chops. I'm lazy so coated one side of the chops while they were still in the packaging and then coated the other side once I put them in the pan. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but I did it any way. However you do it, coat both sides and use all the spice mix.

Pour enough olive oil in a oven-safe skillet to cover the bottom. (You don't have to use an oven-safe skillet, but it makes life easier.) Once the oil is hot, toss those chops in.

Let them cook about 5 minutes and then flip them. They should be a pretty golden color. Let them cook another 5 minutes or so to brown the other side. To finish up the cooking, transfer the whole skillet into the oven. If your skillet isn't oven-safe transfer the chops to a oven-safe surface and try to take the liquid/glaze too.

Let the chops cook until done, about 5 more minutes. The glaze should also have thickened with this time as well. That's it! Before you plate these suckers I would rub them around in the glaze to get as much deliciousness as possible. If you want to move the skillet after you have taken it out of the oven, please remember to use a hot pad. I don't often use my skillets in the oven and when I do, I'm prone to forget that the whole skillet is hot. I have given myself a handful of blister by attempting to pick up a oven-hot skillet by the handle. Please don't make my mistake! Also, soak this pan while it is still warm (not hot, but warm) to help clean it with a little more ease.


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mini Pecan Rolls

Who doesn't like cinnamon rolls or other sweet, sticky rolls? I don't think I have ever met a person who disliked rolls of these kinds. Making homemade rolls can be a pain, but there are many shortcuts you can take to make them and they are still delicious. I'm not sure how I came across this recipe but Pillsbury has a delicious short cut to yummy rolls that uses a tube of their crescent rolls. They require a little bit of time, but they are definitely worth it. I love them because they remind me of something my mom used to make when I was younger. She made the caramel mixture and then threw in canned biscuit chunks. It's a much quicker variation. I knew when I saw these I had to try them. My husband asks for them often. So if you ever need something sweet for breakfast or anytime really, you should try these nutty, caramel rolls.

Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 16 mini rolls

1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tube crescent rolls (reduced fat works just as well as regular)
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 F

Melt butter in a pie pan.

 Mix in corn syrup and brown sugar. If you want you can mix these three in a small bowl and then spread the mixture in a pie plate, but I'm a fan of fewer dishes. Set your caramel mixture aside.

Open the crescent rolls and separate out the 4 rectangles. Pinch the triangles together to make a full rectangle. I flip the rectangle over and pinch the other side too just to make sure it stays.

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and dust it on top of the rectangles. If you want, you could probably cut the amount of sugar down, but why would you do that?

Then sprinkle the nuts on top. If you really don't like nuts, you could omit them, but they do make them that much more delicious.

Finally roll the rectangles starting with a short side. I don't roll very evenly, but just do your best.

Slice each roll into 4 mini rolls.

Now gently stand up each mini roll in the butter/syrup/sugar mixture. It's ok if there is some space between them because the rolls will expand. With that being said, you don't have to leave as much space as I did.

I was quite proud of that pretty little roll in the middle there. :)
 Throw the pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes. As soon as they are golden brown the the caramel mixture is bubbly, they are done. Let them sit in the pan for 1 minute or so.

Carefully flip them out onto a plate or foil and let cool before eating. These can hurt if you eat them too hot. They are amazing warm. Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!

Original post at