Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sticky Garlic Pork Chops

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. This recipe only has 5 ingredients and takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and tastes out of this world! I used boneless pork but you could definitely use bone-in chops as well. I'm all about quick and easy when it comes to dinner time. 
Don't like pork? Use chicken. This sticky garlic sauce works for lots of different meat. 
The secret to making this sauce incredible? Use lots of good garlic. TONS OF IT. Don't be afraid of the garlic. 

Sticky Garlic Pork Chops 

1/4 cup garlic, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 boneless pork chops

Preheat oven to 375. Place pork chops in an oven safe baking dish. 
In a bowl, combine garlic, brown sugar, salt & pepper. Spread half of the mixture over the pork chops. Flip them over and spread the remaining mixture on top of the chops again.

Bake in a 375 oven until cooked through - about 30 minutes. (Pork temperature should be 145)
Serve hot.

Personally I like rice and green beans for sides but potatoes, pasta, quinoa, peas and carrots, aaallll those tasty sides would also work!
Simple enough for everyday, fancy enough for company. It's win win, baby. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

5 Flavor Cake

Sometimes you just want to have options. 
This cake is perfect for those days when you just can't decide what kind of deliciousness you need. We went with maple bacon, lemon pie, turtle, cherry cheesecake, and cookies and cream... but there are still a million more options you could choose from. You start with a basic vanilla cake and go from there! I made several cakes at one time for Thanksgiving because I knew several friends would go crazy for them! 
Ok, yes. This cake is a bit more expensive and a little more work than a plain ol' one flavor cake but it just looks sooooo cool and tastes ridiculously good. Holiday dinners are the perfect showcase for this beautiful looking dessert. 
Need something a little fancier to impress your guests? You're in the right place.

5 Flavor Cake

1 box vanilla cake mix
ingredients to make cake from box
1 box vanilla instant pudding
2 tsp vanilla

Base Frosting
2 cups whipping cream
1 box vanilla instant pudding

Base Frosting for all 5 flavors - 2 cups whipping cream, 1 box vanilla instant pudding
Maple Bacon - 1/4 maple syrup, 4 pieces cooked bacon (crumbled)
Lemon Pie - 2 graham crackers, 1 slice lemon, 1/2 cup lemon curd
Turtle - 1/4 cup caramel sauce, 1 Tbsp mini chocolate chips, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 2 whole turtle candies
Cherry Cheesecake - 1/4 cup cream cheese (softened), 1/2 cup cherry pie filling
Cookies and Cream - 4 or 5 Oreo cookies

Prepare vanilla cake according to package directions, adding in the instant pudding and vanilla. Bake in a 9 X 13 pan according to package directions. Let cake cool completely. 
Take a large piping tip (or just use a sharp knife) and scoop out  5 lines of 4 circles - this is where you will put the fillings. Keep the round piece of cake from each hole. 
Fill one line of 4 with bacon bits and maple syrup, one line with lemon curd and bits of broken graham cracker, one line with caramel sauce, mini chocolate chips, and chopped pecans, one line with a bit of cream cheese and cherry pie filling, and one line with crushed Oreos and a bit of whipped cream. 
Place the little round piece of cake you kept back on top of each filled hole. (NOTE - VERY IMPORTANT - remember in which order your filled the cake!! Make a note of it if you need to. Once it is frosted you won't be able to tell which filling is in which hole!)
Prepare Base Frosting - Beat together the whipping cream and vanilla instant pudding until thickened enough to spread. Spread over top and sides of cake. 
Using a chopstick (or other long utensil), press a line into the frosting dividing the lines of the fillings. You can then start topping your cake. 
Grate one of the oreo cookies over the line which holds the cookies and cream flavor. Drizzle a little cherry pie filling over the cherry cheesecake area. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the turtle area. Drizzle lemon curd over the lemon pie area. And, lastly, sprinkle a little crumbled bacon over the maple bacon area.
See photo line up below for step - by - step instructions. 

To finish topping your flavors: 
Prepare the Base Frosting For All 5 Flavors - Beat together the whipping cream and vanilla instant pudding until thickened enough to spread. Take out 1/5 of the frosting and mix in enough maple syrup to flavor the cream. This will go on top of the maple bacon layer. Pipe 4 swirls, equally spaced apart, on the maple bacon layer, and then sprinkle with more crumbled bacon. Place a larger piece of bacon on top of the swirl.

Place the remaining frosting in a piping bag. Pipe swirls equal spaces apart on the remaining flavors. 
Top the Lemon Pie area with some crumbled graham cracker and a small piece of sliced lemon.

Place half a turtle chocolate candy on top of the turtle area swirl.

For the cherry cheesecake - place a whole cherry from the pie filling on top of each swirl.

And, lastly, for the cookies and cream area, press a half of an Oreo onto each swirl.

See... a bit more work but not that much.

I made one of the cakes with an apple pie layer instead of a maple bacon as the person I was making it for didn't want bacon.

The apple pie filling was a chopped apple cooked with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon until soft. Then topped with bit of cinnamon, a piece of pie crust, and a bit more apple filling. 

Here is a photo of the other cakes I did. Another step-by-step!

I mention that it is important to remember which flavor is on which end of the cake because I frosted these three and then couldn't remember which end was up. I ended up having to dig out a hole on each cake so I could see what was in there. 

20 good sized pieces of delicious cake for dessert. There are so many flavor combinations you could do! 

Please note - my amounts for the filling ingredients are rough measurements. You may need a pinch less or more to fill the holes depending on how deep you carve them out. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Pear Streusel Pie

For some reason pear pies are not that popular around our house. Myself, the only way I really love pears is in a pie. Or a crisp. This recipe is kind of a combination of pie and crisp so is definitely one of my favorites. I didn't have any issues getting people to test it out for me. Put streusel on anything and people will be more apt to try it. #TrueStory
We have 2 pear trees in our yard and they yield a huuuuuuuge amount of pears. Every year we scramble to come up with recipes to use them all up. This one will be going on the Make-Every-Year list. Also - this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled!
How do you fancy up your pear pie recipe?

Pear Streusel Pie

1 pie crust for a 9 inch pie pan

7 - 8 large pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt

1/2 cup butter, cold
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400. 
In a mixing bowl, mix together the sliced pears, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Spread in the prepared pie crust. (Note - I like to make sure the pears are piled up in the crust as they shrink down quite a bit during cooking. This means I may end up using up to 10 pears, depending on their size!)

Prepare streusel - In a blender or food processor, pulse together the butter, flour, and brown sugar until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread on top of pears.

Place on cookie tray to catch any spillover. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake until topping is golden and pears are fork tender, anywhere from 20 - 40 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. You want to let it cool at least to room temperature before cutting so it doesn't fall apart when you slice it. 

Serve on its own or, even better, with some vanilla ice cream. 

Aaaaaaaaand, of course, a little caramel sauce!

Your guests will love you.

Who can resist? 

I find the texture of the pears goes quite well with the streusel topping - even more so than apples would. Our mom always insists that we add more topping than the recipe calls for so we sometimes 1 and a half times the streusel mixture! There is no such thing as too much streusel, am I right?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Brimstone Bread

For our Halloween dinner this year Sue found this Brimstone Bread recipe over at Alison's Wonderland Recipes (click HERE) and we just had to give it a try. It is decidedly spooky!
I am actually pretty excited to make a volcano burger a little later on using this bread as the bun. (I will post a link when I give it a try.)
You want to make sure you use a lot of red coloring in the dough so you get a deep red color instead of just pink. Pink isn't as scary as red. Just sayin'. 
Anyways, this has a regular bread taste to it and the only difference in texture comes from the black rice flour bread on top. We cut some of it up to dip in spinach dip and it worked perfectly fine!

You can easily double this recipe if you have a big crew to feed. As written it makes 1 dozen hamburger sized buns. 

Brimstone Bread
(Slightly adapted from Alison's Wonderland Recipes)

Red Buns
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup warm buttermilk
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp red food gel coloring
2 - 3 cups flour

Black Topping
1 1/2 cups rice flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
1/2 tsp black food gel coloring

Prepare Red Buns - Place hot water and buttermilk in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
Add in the butter, egg, salt, sugar, and red food gel, stirring well. Gradually stir in flour until stiff dough forms. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead for 2 - 3 minutes. Add a bit more flour if dough gets sticky. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise somewhere warm for one hour (until doubled). 

Punch down dough after an hour and place on floured work surface. 
Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Separate the dough into 12 roughly equal sized amounts. (In photo below recipe has been doubled.)

Roll into balls and place an equal distance apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for approx another 45 minutes.
WHILE YOU WAIT - Prepare the black topping - In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rice flour, yeast, sugar, oil, and salt. Stir the black food gel into the hot water and then beat into the flour mixture. 

Cover and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. By the time it is done your red buns should also be ready to go. 


Preheat oven to 350. 
Scoop a generous spoonful of the black dough on top of each red bun. Use your hands to spread it over the bun. You want it to be quite thick so you get the cracking effect when it cooks.
Bake for 12 - 18 minutes, turning pan halfway through cooking time. 
Remove from heat and let cool on pans for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. 

Use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temp until ready to use. 

These buns also freeze very well.  
Perfect for a Halloween dinner! I'm thinking these would also work well for a Hawaiian themed party or volcano party. When I make our Volcano Burger I will post a link to it - I'm pretty sure these buns will work superbly.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Classic Chocolate Brownies (Big Batch)

Sometimes you just need a lot of brownies. 
Like a looooooooooooooot. Usually it'd be for a potluck or a bake sale or a school function but who am I to judge if you just really need a million brownies for a weekend wine and gab fest with some friends? 
These are classic chocolate brownies with no additions but, again, who am I to judge if you want to top with some nuts or sprinkles or chopped up chocolate bars, or marshmallows? Fill your boots. 
I have trouble cooking brownies - meaning I never can tell when they are cooked through. Brownies are supposed to be gooey but there is a fine line between gooey brownies and raw batter. These bars are a bit thinner because they are baked in a big pan so they are easier to tell when they are cooked! 
I cut them in fairly large pieces and got 4 dozen. If you were cutting them for, say a tea or the like, you would easily get 7 or 8 dozen pieces. 

Classic Chocolate Brownies (Big Batch)

7 eggs
3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour
2 cups butter, melted
1/2 cup milk

4 cups icing sugar
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Prepare brownies - Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 12 X 17 cookie sheet with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper. Set aside. (NOTE - you can also bake these in a 13 X 18 pan)
In a very large mixing bowl, beat the eggs for 1 minute.
Add in the sugar, cocoa, salt, coffee granules, and vanilla. Beat one minute.
Lastly, add in the flour, butter, and milk, and beat one more minute, scraping bowl as you go. Do not over mix. One minute of beating between each addition is plenty. 
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. 

Bake at 350 until brownie is set, approximately 25 minutes. 
Remove from heat and run a knife around the outside of the pan to loosen from edges. 

Let cool to room temperature. 
Once the brownie has cooled I like to gently flip it out of the pan onto another cookie sheet, peel off the parchment paper, and then flip it back onto a cutting board. 
Prepare frosting - Place all frosting ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat until well combined. 
Spread the frosting on the cooled brownies. Let sit until frosting crusts a bit. 

Slice into whatever size pieces you need!

So chocolatey! As you can see from the above photo my corner pieces look a bit dry along the edge. Nothing wrong with that! They just seem more "cake like" that way.
But, if you want moist brownies then just be sure you don't over bake them. 

In case you are in need of a big batch of something delicious; look no further! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

25th Anniversary Pizza Roll Cake

Sue and her hubby, Rob, have been married for 25 years as of the 6th of November, 2018. 
That's quite the milestone so I wanted to make them something to help them celebrate. Between the two of them I couldn't decide on a single treat. Sue is one of those weird people that doesn't like sweets so I thought I better go with something savory. I've made several savory treats for a friend's birthday as she also didn't like sweets. I'm surrounded by strange, non-sweet loving weirdos. 
Anyway, I didn't want to duplicate something I had already done as 25 years deserves something new and fun. I decided on pizza as that is what they had on their first date. I "cheated" and used Pillsbury Pizza Dough but you could use your own, from-scratch dough as well. 

Photo above: Rob and Sue and their daughter, Kenzie, from the annual family photo shoot last year. 

25th Anniversary Pizza Roll "Cake"

Pizza Rolls
1/4 to 1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 cups shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)
100 grams pizza salami
100 grams pizza pepperoni

Bacon Roses
10 slices pre-cooked bacon
20 small basil leaves

yellow pepper
red pepper
red pepper cheese

Prepare pizza rolls - Preheat oven to 375. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Unroll one of the Pillsbury pizza crusts on a work surface. Spread with a little of the pizza sauce. Top with a cup of the shredded cheese, then lay half of the meat on top. (See photo below)

Roll up jelly roll style, pinching the seam to seal. 
Cut into 17 slices. Place the slices, cut side down, on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with other dough and remaining ingredients.

Bake at 375 until dough is golden brown, about 15 - 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. 
Prepare Bacon Roses - Preheat oven to 375. Take a piece of the pre-cooked bacon and, starting with the skinny end, roll up to resemble a rose bud. Place in a mini muffin tin, using a piece of tinfoil to hold it in place and prevent it from unrolling. repeat with remaining pieces. (See photo below) 

Bake at 375 for 10 - 12 minutes, until crispy. Carefully remove the buds from the muffin tin and set on a plate until you need them. 
Assemble the pizza cake - Place the pizza rolls on a serving platter in the shape of the numbers 2 and 5. Place the Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeno Cream Cheese Spread into a piping bag (or sturdy Ziplock bag with the corner snipped off). Pipe a line of small blobs around the numbers, outlining them. 

Using a tiny round cookie cutter, cut out pieces of the yellow and red pepper and place them randomly on the "cake. Cut the carrots into teeny triangle shapes and place them randomly around the "cake". Cut the Red Pepper Cheese into tiny cubes and place them randomly around the "cake". 
Lastly, to place the bacon roses, first put 2 of the small basil leaves together with their ends touching some of the piped cream cheese. Press a bacon rosebud on top of the basil leaves, making sure it sticks into the cream cheese a little too. Place 5 of the roses on the 2, and 5 of the roses on the 5. 

You can decorate with as many of the small vegetable pieces as you like. Just don't completely overload things. 

The cream cheese piping really helps define the edges of the numbers. 

You can add decorations of other colored vegetables if you prefer. IE: purple carrots, cucumber skin, orange peppers, colored cheese (the red pepper cheese is marbled). 

I love how cute the bacon roses turned out. I wanted to be sure to include bacon as a decoration as it is one of Sue's favorite foods!

This is such a fun way to celebrate for people who aren't fans of cakes or pies or sweet things. 

Of course, this would work for a birthday as well as an anniversary! And you can top the pizza with your favorite toppings. I would have gone with ham and pineapple but Sue isn't a fan. #soweird
I still can't believe it's been 25 years since their wedding. It seems like yesterday. 
Happy Anniversary Sue and Rob!!