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peanut butter bars

21 Jan

1000000000 times better than a reeses cup. with only a few ingredients and the satisfying taste of being home made 🙂

i am literally about to change your life.

What You NEED for 8 bars:

1/3-1/2 c creamy peanut butter

8 graham crackers

2/3 stick-1 full stick of melted butter (yes.)

1/3 c powdered sugar

1 cup milk or semi sweet chocolate chips (or 2 cups if you like a higher chocolate to peanut butter ratio, i like more pb than chocolate, personally)


How its Done:

refrigerate a cookie sheet or brownie pan while you get all your ingredients together.

in a blender or food processor, process the graham crackers until they are fine crumbs.

add in the butter and powdered sugar, blend until all combined and moist.

transfer to the cooled brownie pan and mix in the peanut butter until its all combined. spread evenly in a flat layer, you can make the bars as thick or thin as you’d like, i like them about 1/2 inch thick overall. dont worry, the mixture is going to seem liquidy but as it cools it will harden up to become a sturdier consistency.

in this picture you can see my mixture only takes up half the pan, because that was 8 bars and if i made a full 16 i would eat a full 16 so…yeah.

refrigerate for 30 minutes.

once the peanut butter mixture is hardened, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave

spread the chocolate over the peanut butter layer. i like a 2:1 ratio peanut butter to chocolate.

put in the fridge for 30 minutes or until the chocolate is cooled and firmed. slice into bars. then you can eat them or if you are saving them for later, put them back in the fridge for another 30 minutes before taking them out and moving the slices to a container. THATS IT. seriously. no baking. no nothing. its easy, the actual work takes 5 minutes. and i promise these are INCREDIBLE.



chicken sausage and orecchietti soup

3 Jan

so this is a soup i made up today to eat with my mouth to go into my belly. i stole a technique of adding pureed roasted garlic and tomatoes to the soup from a cookbook. i wish i could call the cookbook author to say, “with our powers combined, soup awesomeness ensues”.   maybe i’ll write him a letter.

The Loot for 6 servings:

1/2 lb (or a little more..i used .64 lb) chicken sausage, i used 1 italian chicken sausage and 1 basil garlic chicken sausage

1 c orecchietti pasta

3 c chicken stock

1/2 c boxed chopped tomatoes

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 lb roma tomatoes, about 4 tomatoes

2 heaping handfuls of spinach (about 3 packed cups)

1 head of garlic

crushed red pepper

1 large handful of yellow pearl onions (you can just dice a regular onion but i love these little guys, they are so cuteee and they have a strong, sweet onion flavor while still being mild enough to eat whole)

a large pinch of dried oregano and dried rosemary

salt and pepper

fresh basil and grated parmesan (optional, for garnish)

Some Notes before I begin:

normally when roasting garlic, you cut the top 1/3 of the garlic head off, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and then wrap completely in tin foil and roast. I planned to do this until I realized I was out of tin foil so I used a “confit” method; I cooked individual garlic cloves in olive oil in a pot on the stove over low heat until the garlic was soft and mash-able with a fork. you can use EITHER method, the tin foil oven method requires less watching, but the stove top method provides you with garlic infused olive oil which you can save and use for cooking later on! do what pleases you 🙂

dA LoW dOwN:

preheat oven to 400 degrees. cut tomatoes in half, top with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, some dried oregano, pepper. if roasting the garlic in the oven, put the garlic in the tin foil on the same pan as the tomatoes. once the oven is heated, roast the tomatoes (and garlic) for 45 minutes.

while that’s happening.

remove the sausage from the casings and add to a sauce pan over medium heat. crumble/break up with a wooden spoon and cook until happily browned. add in the peeled pearl onions and the carrots. sweat for about 10 minutes.

Add in the boxed chopped tomatoes and the stock, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Once the tomatoes and garlic are finished roasting, add to a blender and liquify. If you roasted the garlic in the tin foil, squeeze the garlic out of the skin into the blender. If you used the other method, just put it right in since you peeled it before roasting it on the stove.

pour this mixture into the soup, stir. add in the pasta and a pinch of dried rosemary. once the pasta is soft but al dente, after about 10-12 minutes, add in 2 large handfuls of spinach.

Taste, adjust the salt and other seasonings. Serve, garnished with parmesan and torn basil leaves. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

printable recipe

vietnamese spring rolls with hoisin peanut dipping sauce

2 Jan

hi guys! im baaaacckk! thank goodness, i missed my kitchen. so today i made a lot of food. too much food. for you, and also, for me.  i learned to make a basic vietnamese spring roll recently and i made a more veggie filled version for myself today. traditionally, spring rolls contain steamed shrimp and vermicelli rice noodles however i wanted to keep them vegetarian and low-carb.

in vietnam, families will sit down to the dinner table and each make their own spring rolls at the table. this is great inspiration for a fun, interactive dinner party appetizer. you can set out a “bar” of different veggies and meats and let everyone roll their own spring rolls. or, if your guests are uncoordinated or lazy, you can just make them the night before or the day of and keep them in the fridge.

What You Need for 10 rolls:

rice paper (pictured above), available in the “asian” or “ethnic foods” section of the store. 1 sheet per roll

2 carrots, peeled and cut into long, thin strips

1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into long thin strips

sugar snap peas, ends trimmed

1/2 head romaine lettuce, cut into 2 inch long pieces

fresh basil leaves, kept whole

mint, torn from sprig with a bit of the stem still on (the stem is kept on, traditionally–good flavor and crunch)

HOW TO BE A SAUCE BOSSSS: (sorry, i get carried away because this sauce is

1 small jar of hoisin, about 1.5 cups

1/4 c of creamy peanut butter (my 1/4 a cup is really 1/3 cup because i LOVE peanut butter)

1/3-1/2 c of rice wine vinegar (add 1/3 and then taste before adding more)

3 T of chili garlic sauce, I like it spicy so add 2 T and then taste before adding more

scallions and chopped peanuts (optional, for garnish)

fill a wide pan with water and bring to a boil. turn off the heat and dip one sheet of rice paper fully into the water, you kind of burn your hand but just be creative in hand movement and you should be able to submerge it without submerging your hand too much.

lay the now very soft rice paper onto your work surface. lay down some basil leaves.

add on the lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, mint etc. then fold in the sides to cover the veggies about 1/3 of the way on each side. if when rolling, the roll rips, which it will, DONT WORRY, you’re just going to roll the end over it so it should be fine, if it rips at the end, you might need to toss that roll depending on how big the rip is but it’s pretty easy to cover the rips up 🙂

now, lift up the end closest to you and pull over the filling, tucking the edge of the rice paper at the edge of the filling and pulling back towards you so that it ensures a tight wrap. then continue tucking and rolling until its all rolled up.

repeat! put to side while you master the art of sauce bossing.

in a small sauce pot over medium heat combine all of the sauce ingredients, whisk or fork until all combined and warm, taste, add whatever else you think is necessary to make the peanut sauce of your dreams.

slice the rolls on a bias (diagonal) and serve with a little dipping bowl of sauce!!

fresh spring rolls printable recipe

the best brownies, ever.

12 Dec

im annoyed that i made these. because it has been 12 hours and only 1/4 of the brownie pan is left. that means that i alone, have eaten 3/4 of the brownies. i’m going on a juice fast for eternity, minus the juice, starting now.

and so it is with great shame in my head and a sugar rush in my veins that i pass on this brownie torch to you. take it and do with it what you will, if you are smart, you will cut it down so that it makes 2 brownies. or, you will make them all, and immediately give them away and leave one for yourself. but hey, where’s the fun in that?

so for this brownie recipe you should use any brownie recipe you like-your grandpa’s recipe, your friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s recipe, your favorite food blogger’s recipe or your good ol’ box mix 🙂 do whatever suits you with these alterations: only use 2 eggs, not 3 and add 2/3 the amount of oil that you normally would as the peanut butter in these is oily enough and you don’t want greasy brownies, you want FUDGEY RICH OH MY GOSH brownies.

So, once you’ve made your favorite (or easiest, ahem, boxed mix) brownie batter, add in 8-12 crushed reeses cups (not minis! full cups)  and 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter

Pour your super thick and hard to pour brownie batter into a greased baking pan and then dollop spoon fulls of peanut butter on the top of the brownies and swirl in with a knife.

bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean, let cool, and enjoy!

sirloin and bean chili with corn bread and smoked cheddar

28 Nov
Upon returning to a normally drought and heat stricken central Texas I was hit in the face by 50 degree wind gusts. CHILI TIME!!!  
even though everyone knows that i’m always ecstatic about what i call “chili weather”, i’ve never actually made chili before. and recipe schmecipe. so this evening was a great american staple adventure.
staple like quintessential dish, not like i went on an adventure for office supplies. (although, i do love supplies so if you know of any nifty useless supply websites, get at me)
There was a lot that went into this chili, not in the actual cooking but in terms of getting to the chili action. the grocery store trip was exhausting. I stood in front of the $12 sea salts for 10 minutes until I realized I do not have $12 to spend on salt (for the record: i went with slice and bake cookies, instead of a posh sea salt confection) Then, because I wanted to use really good cheese to garnish my chili, I stood in front of the “british isles/cheddar” section smelling every single cheese at least three times over.
there is a lot that I wanted for this chili. A lot that couldn’t happen, sadly. I wanted to use dried rather than canned beans, but since I didn’t know I would be making chili until an hour before dinner, I couldn’t use dried beans. Also, I originally intended to make a turkey white bean chili, but there was no ground turkey at the store and so I took that as a friendly nudge in the direction of big meat, ground sirloin, to be precise. 
once the glorious grocery store madness ended, it was chili improv time:
1/2 T butter, 1/2 T olive oil
1-3 lbs ground sirloin 
1 12 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 12 oz can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles
1-3 cups chicken stock
1 can black beans, no salt added; drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, no salt added; drained and rinsed
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced
approx 1 T cumin (or to taste)
approx 1/2 T chile powder (or to taste)
approx 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 T dried oregano
approx 2 T salt (or to taste)
avocado slices for garnish
sharp yellow cheddar and/or smoked cheddar for garnish (and for melty cheesey gooodness)
a slice of cornbread or a pepperjack corn muffin if you are me and you are lucky enough to come across that in the store!!!!!! ( i wanted to make my own cornbread, i really did, but as i mentioned earlier, grocery stores are distracting and exciting for me and i don’t always meet all my goals)
How It Alllll Goessss Down:
1. melt the olive oil and butter together in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute until translucent but not brown.
2. Add the spices and stir to combine. and to make great aromas happen
3. Add the sirloin and cook over medium heat until fully brown.

4. Pour in both cans of tomatoes, crushing and mixing with a wooden spoon. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the meat and loosen up the chili, but not enough to make it brothy. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for at least 20 minutes (45 minutes or an hour will only make it taste better).

 5. After simmering for as long as your impatient taste buds can handle, add the beans, stir and taste. Adjust the seasonings and spices as necessary!

Put a slice of cornbread or a corn bread muffin into a bowl. Ladle the chili on top, garnish with both shredded (or oddly minced if you don’t have a grater like me) smoked cheddar and sharp aged yellow cheddar, avocado slices and sliced scallions. 

This is what it looked like after I mushed around all the garnishes and the corn muffin 🙂 it was a deliciously sweet, corny, meaty, spicy, smokey, cheesy bucket of YUM. except it was a bowl, i WISH it had been a bucket.

it’s officially been 2 days since i’ve made this chili and i wanted to add that i’ve eaten it for breakfast yesterday and today. it’s delicious, plentiful and only gets better as it sits 🙂 

how to snag a date.

19 Oct

This is a food blog, so why am I beginning by offering dating advice? Well. This mac and cheese is guaranteed to get you a date with whomever you make it for-after all, nothing says true love like a creamy, spicy, cheesy casserole.

What You’ll Need:
1 lb of medium size pasta shells (medium is important, the small ones don’t soak up enough of the saucy cheesy goodness)
2 1/2 cups of half and half
3.5 cups medium grated sharp cheddar (don’t get reduced fat, this isn’t the time to count your calories, trust me)
2 cups of medium grated jack cheese or mozzarella 
3 cups of shredded chicken (rotisserie, breasts, left over thighs-whatever you have on hand or is cheapest at the store is fine!)
1 T of flour
12 T or 1.5 sticks of unsalted butter
as much buffalo wing sauce as you desire, i use about 1/3-1/2 of a cup total 
1/3 cup sour cream (okay, here you can actually use the light version if you really care that much. and if you do decide to use light sour cream then congratulations, instead of making a 1,000,000 calorie dish you’re now making a 999,980 calorie dish.) oh, also, if you don’t have sour cream you can use 1/4 a cup of cream cheese instead.
1/2 of a small yellow or white onion, diced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced, depending on your relationship with garlic use more or less. i use 5-its a serious relationship.
1 cup of panko bread crumbs, you can use regular breadcrumbs but, true fact, panko are the breadcrumbs of Mt Olympus.

The Run Down:
preheat the oven to 350, oh and make sure you have some kind of casserole dish or cake pan that will work. There have been times that I’ve sent myself into a deep depression after making the whole recipe only to realize all i have in the house are cookie sheets. (for the record, I found a way-stainless steel bowls anyone?)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a handful of salt (yes, a handful-whenever you’re making pasta).
Add the shells, stir once right away and then every couple minutes give it a stir until its just short of al dente, about 7-8 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, add 2 T of butter to a saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent, add the garlic and chicken, stir to incorporate and let them get to know each other for about a minute or two before adding some buffalo sauce magic. (about 1/4 of a cup…or more if you’re feelin spicy). Let those flavors hang out for a few until thickened slightly and then take the pan off the heat and set to the side.

Your pasta is probably ready to be drained and you can let it sit in the collander for this next part, or you can choose to make the pasta once all of these steps are finished-whichever you prefer.

Melt 1 T of butter in a sauce pan (with talllll sides), once melted add the flour and mix with a whisk or spoon until there are no lumps in the roux mixture (culinary talk for flour+butter). Whisk in the half and half and let thicken slightly, about four minutes before adding about 1/4 of a cup more buffalo sauce. Whisk in 3  cups of the cheddar cheese and all of the jack cheese slowly so that no clumps form. Whisk frequently until all of the cheese has melted–you’ll know when it looks right because you will think, “wow this looks like cheese sauce heaven”. At this point you can add in the sour cream. Pour in the pasta and mix it all up!

Spray you’re baking dish with some non stick spray and pour in half of the mac and cheese. Cover the top of this layer with the chicken and buffalo sauce mixture and then top with the second half of the mac and cheese.
Melt about 2 T of butter in the microwave, once melted combine the butter and the panko and cover the entire top of the dish. Then, if you like to party, add the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese on top.

Bake for 20-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. (I bake it as long as I can stand to wait before eating it) and then DEVOUR