Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carrot Cake Fudge

I still haven't mastered how to make boiled fudge. You know, the kind that requires a candy thermometer..... Candy thermometers hate me.
It's true. I've accepted it.
Good thing there is amazing recipes like this Carrot Cake Fudge from Inside BruCrew Life. No candy thermometer required. For that boiling required either.  
My kind of fudge recipe.
Oh, yes, it's also delicious and totally tastes like carrot cake!
Carrot Cake Fudge
(Ever-so-slightly adapted from Inside Brucrew Life)
Carrot Cake Fudge Layer
1/4 cup butter
3 cups white chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup dry carrot cake cake mix
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
Cream Cheese Fudge Layer
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup cream cheese frosting
3 Tbsp marshmallow cream
Candies to decorate
Line a 9 X 13 pan with parchment paper, set aside.
In a large saucepan - combine butter, 3 cups white chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk. Stir over low heat until melty and smooth.
Stir in the dry cake mix, a little at a time, until thoroughly combined. Stir in the marshmallow cream. Stir well. Spread into prepared 9 X 13 pan. Chill for about an hour.
When first layer is chilled - melt the 1 cup white chocolate chips in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in frosting and marshmallow cream.
Spread over the carrot cake layer in the 9 X 13 pan. You may need to use your fingers to help spread the fudge as it is very thick.
You can now press candies into the top of the fudge to decorate, if desired.
I waited until the fudge was chilled and cut before I put the candies on. I simply pressed them down firmly into the fudge to get them to stay. (Waiting to put the decorations on will mean the decorations MAY NOT stay in place as well. Just sayin')
Chill about an hour before cutting.
This was super simple and was perfect for Easter. I'm thinking it would be great any time of year as it would certainly pretty up a plate of squares for any occasion.
I decorated with Carrot Cake flavored M&Ms...which are not available in Canada, by the way. My friend, Kerry, put out a request on a cupcake page on Facebook and a lovely lady in the US said she would send us some only-available-in-the-US candy in return for Kerry and I sending her some only-available-in-Canada-candy and maple syrup.
Pretty exciting, right?
I thought so.
This also prompted one of  my friends that used to live in Lillooet but now lives in the US to say she would also send us some American candy.
Beyond crazy with candy happiness.
Be sure to pop by The Chicken Chick and Ms. enPlace and The Rustic Pig and Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons and Feeding Big for tons of great links!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pizza Cones

I figured since my Cinnamon Bun Cones Filled With Cheesecake were such a hit I would see what other cone treats I could come up with. They really are very easy and are so much fun!
I went with savory this time and came up with easy Pizza Cones.
I know these are usually fairground food but now you can make these for after school snacks for the kids in almost no time at all.
Fill them with your favorite pizza toppings and dig in! No special equipment required.

Pizza Cones

2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Dough
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 - 2 cups shredded cheese
Pizza toppings - I used chopped salami, ham, pepperoni, onion, green pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Cover 12 cone shaped ice cream cones with a layer of tinfoil, spray tinfoil with cooking spray. Set on cookie sheet.
Unwrap one can of the crescent dough and press the diagonal seams together. You don't need to press the middle, vertical seam, together.
Spread a little of the pizza sauce on the dough. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of cheese - maybe 1 - 2 Tbsp. Press down with your hand.
Divide each half into 3 parts. Divide each of those parts into 3 more parts. (See photo below for some clarification)

Wrap 3 of the bread "sticks" around each of the ice cream cones, starting from the bottom of the cone and going up. Be sure to just slightly layer the bread as you go.

Repeat with the other can of dough.
As you can see from the above photo, I baked some cones on their side and some in a vertical position. They both baked up well BUT I found the ones baked on their side were much easier to get off the cone after baking. That being said, if you have more patience than I, by all means, bake them vertically.
Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned.

Let cool about 5 - 7 minutes, until you are able to pick them up in your hand. They should be fairly hot still BUT not so that they will burn you!!! Use caution.
Very gently run a butter knife around the cone - between the tinfoil and the bread - to loosen. Twist the cone carefully and pull it out.
Using a butter knife, spread a bit of the pizza sauce around the inside of each cone.
Fill with your favorite pizza toppings. ** I put a bit of cheese in the bottom of the cone so it would melt and stop any leaking that might occur. ** I then layered a bit of meat, bit of cheese, bit of onion/green pepper, bit more pizza sauce, bit of cheese, meat, etc.. until the cone was full.
Be sure to end with cheese so it looks all melty!

I baked some propped up and some lying flat and found out it didn't really make much difference. You can just lay them back on the cookie sheet and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so - until the cheese is melted.

Serve warm or room temp with a little extra pizza sauce (or favorite dipping sauce) on the side.

You can freeze these and then just microwave for a minute and they are good as fresh.
I love how easy these are and that all you need is ice cream cones to make them. I have found you can peel off the tinfoil and reuse the cones a couple of times before they get too fragile.
I think making a Reuben in a cone (sauerkraut, corned beef, Swiss cheese, dressing) may be next on my list. :)

Want to see some other fun links? Visit The Velvet Moon Baker and Love Bakes Good Cakes and Hun...What's For Dinner? and Carole's Chatter.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cheese Ball Carrots

I couldn't decide whether to post this for Easter or for April Fools' Day.
These cheese balls look sooooo cute!
And...they totally look like carrots. From a distance you could fool anybody, I'm sure of it.
I saw this idea over at She Wears Many Hats and knew I had to make it for the ladies at work.
I changed up the recipe a tad to suit what I had on hand so you can always visit She Wears Many Hats to find Amy Johnson's version.  
This takes all of about 15 - 20 minutes from start to finish. Bring this to your Easter supper as a fun appetizer. I guarantee you will have everyone talking about what a creative genius you are.

Cheese Ball Carrots
(Adapted from She Wears Many Hats)

8 oz (1 brick) cream cheese, room temp
2 cups finely shredded, aged cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp very finely minced onion
1 - 2 drops orange food coloring (optional)

Sprigs of fresh parsley for stems

Using a fork, smush all the ingredients together (except parsley) in a bowl until combined. Then use your hands to thoroughly mix the ingredients until smooth.

Divide the mixture into 7 to 9 sections, depending on how many carrots you want. Use your hands to roll these into elongated cone shapes (ie: carrot shapes). If it is too sticky to handle simply chill for half an hour or so to let firm up. No need to be perfect as real carrots are a bit bendy and such too.

Use a butter knife to lightly cut little lines into the shapes to resemble real carrots. Place on a serving platter.

Stick a sprig or two of parsley into the top of each carrot.

Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Serve with crackers.
You will want to shred your cheese as finely as possible. If you buy the pre-shredded cheese the pieces will be too big and will make your carrots look funny.
Same as the onion. Chop it as small as humanly possible. If you have big chunks then your carrots will be chunky and less realistic looking.
You don't have to use the food coloring if you prefer not to. They carrots do look orange without it BUT they look even more orange with it. Up to you!
Super simple.
Super cool.
Perfect for Easter or April Fools' Day.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Right here.
New favorite dish.
Creamy, dreamy mac & cheese using a butternut squash and Greek yogurt to make the sauce instead of flour and all that other stuff. I am calling this a single serving but it really makes 2 servings. Just enough for dinner one night and lunch the next.
You could probably even fool the kids with this one.
Not even lying.
Totally doing the happy dance with this one.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash (peeled)
3/4 cup chicken broth (reduced sodium)
3/4 cup 1 % milk
1 tsp Italian spices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1/4 cup shredded Havarti cheese
1/4 cup shredded marble cheese
1 Tbsp onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (divided)
3/4 cup pasta (I used Smart pasta)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray.
In a saucepan, stir together squash, chicken broth, milk, spices, and garlic. Bring this mixture to a low boil then simmer for about 10 minutes, until squash is tender. (May take a bit longer depending on the size of your cubes.) Remove from heat.
Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the butternut squash cubes into a bowl. Set aside.
Place remaining squash and liquid in a blender and puree until smooth. Add in Greek yogurt and Havarti and marble cheese. Puree for another few seconds to combine. Set aside.
Cook pasta in boiling water until it is just starting to cook. LEAVE IT UNDER COOKED!
Remove from heat and drain pasta.
Combine the butternut squash you set aside, the sauce, the pasta, and the diced onion. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of the Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes, give it a stir, bake another 10 - 12 minutes or so. It will still be a bit runny but will set up when you take it out of the oven and let it sit for 2 - 3 minutes. (If it still looks really, really runny - bake another 5 - 10 minutes. I've only ever had to bake it about 20 minutes total.)
Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese.
According to calculations using Myfitnesspal each serving (it makes 2 servings) is:
Calories - 399, Carbs - 53, Fat - 12, and Protein - 21.
That's at least 1/2 the fat of "regular" 3 cheese macaroni and 1/2 the calories (depending on what recipe you are using of course...)
Each serving is pretty generous, in my opinion.
You can switch up the cheeses or use all one kind if you prefer. Totally up to you. Oh, yes, you also don't have to scoop out any of the squash cubes before you puree the sauce. I just like a few cubes in there to add some texture. You can puree the whole works if you want to.
NOTE - It is important, however, that you leave your pasta under cooked. It continues to cook in the sauce and soaks some of it up. If your pasta is already completely cooked it will be soggy and your sauce will be runny.
Looking for some great links? Visit The Mandatory Mooch and The Busy Bees and Hungry Little Girl

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Scones and Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Yes, I’m going a little strawberry crazy in this post. Strawberries are awesome.
It’s true.
Don’t argue.
Scones are one of those things that take about 2 seconds to make but I hardly ever make them. I’m not quite sure why. They are delicious. They are easy. They have an unlimited potential as far as flavors go.
This recipe might have me making scones a little more often. Imagine strawberry shortcake but baked in a scone.
They are super-de-duper easy and taste amazing. I mean…it’s like strawberry shortcake: the handheld version. And, in case you didn’t know, this is a crazy fabulous idea.
Strawberry Shortcake Scones
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 - 2 Tbsp sugar, for sprinkling on top 
Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Stir together flour and baking powder in a bowl, Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resemble course crumbs. Using a fork, stir in orange juice and milk until dough comes together. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 2 - 3 times.
Divide dough in half and roll each half to approx 1/4 inch thickness. Both pieces of dough should be equal in size.
Sprinkle one piece of dough with the strawberries and drop the jam by tiny spoonfuls over the strawberries.
Top with second piece of dough.
Using a round biscuit cutter, cut out scones and place about an inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle each with a little bit of sugar.
Bake at 400 for approx 15 minutes. Until tops are lightly browned and strawberry center is bubbling. When you remove them from the oven you can sprinkle with a bit more sugar, if desired, but totally not necessary. (I do, of course!)
I used a circle biscuit cutter to cut out my scones but you could just as easily leave it in its rectangle shape and cut into squares. If you do the squares you won’t have any leftover scraps to worry about. I simply took the leftover scraps from cutting out the circles and patted them together to make one bigger scone. It wasn’t as pretty as the smaller circles but it certainly tasted just as good.
I believe I got 10 smaller scones and 1 big one.
As for the Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries….
These were waaaaaay easier than I thought they were going to be. I used the leftover cheesecake filling from my Cinnamon Bun Cones to fill them. I probably used about 1/3 of a cup to fill the strawberries shown here.
Everyone LOVED these. My friend, Kerry, who enjoyed the cheesecake filling, suggested next time I should fill them with the lime filling from my Key Lime Pie Dip. Hmmm….good thinking…
For now though, here is the recipe for cheesecake stuffed strawberries a la Jo.
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

12 – 15 strawberries
1/3 cup (give or take) Cheesecake filling
3 Tbsp cup Oreo baking crumbs

Cut off strawberry leaves. Using a knife or tiny, sharp edged spoon, scoop out a small amount of the strawberry, at the top, leaving about ½ tsp to a tsp sized indent.
Place cheesecake filling into a plastic bag and snip off the corner. Pipe small amount of filling into the indent in the strawberry, making sure a small amount shows out the top.
Dip the cheesecake that is out the top of the strawberry into the Oreo crumbs.
Serve immediately or store in fridge, covered, until ready to serve.
You will have to forgive my measurements on this recipe. I was using up leftovers so I didn’t “really” measure…I guess-timated. Plus…it will depend on the size of your strawberries how much filling you can stuff them with.
I made the strawberry scones and the cheesecake filled strawberries for a family brunch. They were both a big hit. I think the cheesecake strawberries were probably the favorites BUT none of the scones were leftover either.
These looked so pretty on their serving platter! Perfect for Spring (or summer).

Be sure to visit Hungry Little Girl and Adorned From Above for some fantastic links!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hot Cross Buns (large batch)

It's just not Easter without hot cross buns. Well, at least in our house.
The soft, sweet buns are great with a little butter or jam...or....all by themselves warm out of the oven. The third way is my favorite.
I got this recipe from Taste Of Home and made a few little changes to tweak it to our tastes. It really is a simple bun to make if you are looking for something Easter-y to bring to the family Easter dinner. Plus, it makes A LOT. Like 6 dozen. So you can freeze some for later.

Hot Cross Buns (large batch)
(Slightly adapted from Taste Of Home)

4 pkgs (9 tsp) active dry yeast
3 cups very warm milk (110 - 115 degrees)
2 cups oil
8 eggs
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp allspice
3 tsp salt
2 cups craisins (or raisins)
13 - 15 cups flour

2 cups icing sugar
4 Tbsp milk (or water)

In a very large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let sit 5 minutes. Add in oil, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, spices, and salt. Stir to combined. Stir in 9 cups of flour. Beat until smooth.
Stir in craisins.
Stir in enough flour to form a firm dough.
Turn on to floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (About 5 minutes or so.) Place into a large bowl greased with a little oil or cooking spray.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
After rising, punch dough down.
Turn onto lightly floured work surface. Divide into 72 pieces. Shape each into a ball.
Place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk the egg whites until a bit foamy. Using a basting/pastry brush, brush the egg white on top of each bun.
Bake each tray separately for about 10 - 15 minutes, until golden brown.

That's half the batch!
Remove from pan to wire rack to cool.
For icing: whisk together icing sugar and milk (or water) until desired consistency is reached. You may have to add a bit more icing sugar or water to get there. It should be thick but still able to drizzle slowly off the end of a spoon.
Drizzle and "X" on top of each bun. (If desired, you can pipe it out of a plastic bag with the corner snipped off.)

I love how pretty they look. One year I made them into Hot Cross Bunnies.

They turned out pretty cute too. I did the "X" on their tummies but didn't get a photo of that.
Anyway you want to shape these buns, they are delicious.
You can, of course, make these any time of year but around cross buns are only for Easter.
I love that this recipe makes a HUGE batch. If you don't have 2 HUGE cookie sheets then you can use 4 regular sized cookie sheets.

Be sure to visit Carol's Chatter for some fantastic links! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oreo Marshmallow Roll

Take the Rice Krispies out of Rice Krispie treats and replace them with Oreo cookies and what do you have?
You have a delicious, chocolatey, chewy, crispy treat. Wrap it around a giant marshmallow and you will have people thinking you are some kind of crispy/chewy treat genius.
Who doesn't like no bake, super easy recipes that can be whipped up in about 20 minutes?
Crazy people, that's who.
Oreo Marshmallow Roll
1 bag of Oreos (about 40 - 45 cookies)
1 bag mini marshmallows (about 5 cups)
4 Tbsp butter
6 Jumbo Marshmallows
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
Using a food processor (or rolling pin and Ziploc bag), process cookies until you are left with fine crumbs. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, over low/medium heat, met together the mini marshmallows and butter until smooth, stirring constantly. Stir in the Oreo crumbs until well combined.
Press into an approx 10 X 12 rectangle on the prepared sheet.
Let it sit for about 5 - 10 minutes so will hold together but still be flexible.
Line up the 6 jumbo marshmallows down the centre of the Oreo rectangle.
Roll up the Oreo mixture around the marshmallows, overlapping the rectangle and press to seal.
Let sit for another 5 - 10 minutes to firm up a bit more. Slice the roll into 1/2 to 1 inch slices using a serrated knife.
It's that simple.
They look so pretty on a plate of squares.
If you don't want to wrap the marshmallows in the middle, you can enjoy this as you would a regular Rice Krispie treat. Simply press into a greased 8 X 8 pan so it is a little thicker and let it sit to firm up, then cut it.
Personally, I like the extra marshmallowy goodness of the roll.
Simple. Tasty. Pretty. What's not to love?
Be sure to stop by Ms. enPlace and Jam Hands and The Velvet Moon Baker and Memories By The Mile and Hun...What's For Dinner? for some great links!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mockamole (Pea Guacamole)

This is one of those good news/bad news recipes.
Good news: It tastes delicious. It is super easy to make. It is half the fat of regular guacamole. It is almost 3 times the protein of regular guacamole.
Bad news: It has about 3 times the carbs of regular guacamole.
Okay, the bad news isn't sooooo bad unless you are counting carbs.
I love the texture of this recipe and, of course, the unique flavor the peas lend to the taste.
It takes about 5 minutes to make and then it sits for a couple of hours and you are good to go. Not only is it great as a dip, it is AMAZING on burgers.
Mockamole (Pea Guacamole)
3 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup no-fat sour cream
1 medium, ripe avocado (pitted and peeled)
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp cumin
dash or 2 of hot pepper sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato, finely diced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
In a medium sized saucepan cook peas and water for about 2 minutes, until heated through. Drain.
Place peas in food processor.
Add remaining ingredients, except for tomato and onion.
Process until smooth. Stir in tomato and onion until well blended.
Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 to 2 hours.
This makes about 2 cups. According to Fitday the calories for 1/4 of a cup would be:
Calories - 116, Fat - 4.3, Carbs - 16, Protein - 4.5.
This would be perfect for St. Patrick's Day. You can't get much greener than this!
My favorite way to eat this is on a hamburger.
Be sure to visit Adorned From Above and The Busy Bees and The Rustic Pig and Carole's Chatter and Ms enPlace for some great links!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beet and Quinoa Burger

Looking for an interesting new veggie burger recipe to try out?
Have I got a deal for you.
This burger patty is full of beets, chickpeas, quinoa and quinoa flakes. It is extremely hearty and filling yet still delicious enough to satisfy almost any burger craving.
I am in love with the color of it as well. Most veggie burgers are brown and boring, this one is quite pretty with its deep red color.

Beet and Quinoa Burger

3 medium beets
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 can (14 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp chives, finely diced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg
1/4 cup quinoa flakes

Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Peel the beets and grate them on a box grater (or in a food processor using the grater blade).
Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray, place over medium heat. Place the grated beets in the pan. Add in the onion and garlic and stir to combine. Cover and cook for about 5 - 10 minutes - until beets are softened.
Scrape beets into a bowl, return frying pan to stove and deglaze with the vinegar. Add that to the beets.
In another bowl, slightly mash chickpeas with a potato masher or fork - it should still be fairly chunky. Stir the mashed chickpeas, cooked quinoa, chives, lemon juice, egg, and quinoa flakes into the beet mixture. Using your hands (or the potato masher) squish everything together until well combined. (It actually quite resembles raw hamburger at this point!)

Form into 6 equal size patties and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Very carefully flip the burgers over.
Bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and top with cheese, if desired.

Return to oven for another 1 - 2 minutes, until cheese is all melty.
Serve on your favorite bun with your favorite toppings. I really like the little-bit crusty multi grain buns with the seeds to add a bit of crunch.

Looks yummy, right?
It is.
Want even better news? According to Myfitnesspal per patty is:
Calories - 189
Carbs - 34
Fat - 3
Protein - 8
Couple of notes -- Don't have red wine vinegar? Use plain vinegar.
Don't have quinoa flakes? Use oats.
We topped our burgers with havarti cheese, fried mushroom and onions, a little lettuce, tomato, and some ketchup and mustard. Sue didn't want tomatoes on hers because it makes the burger "too slippery".
Harumph is what I say. Burgers need tomato. definitely need to give these a try if you are tired of your "usual" veggie burger.
They may just become your new favorite.

Want to find some fantastic links? Check out Jam Hands and The Rustic Pig and The Mandatory Mooch and Feeding Big and Carole's Chatter!