Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blueberry & Coconut Bars

Ok. I think I can safely say, that, as of now...these may be my favorite bars that I have made to date. I would have never thought of this combo without a little directional pushing from this contest. Thanks is all I got to say. And seeing as I normally am not a coconut fan, that is saying something. Oh my word, I greedily ate way more than my share of these yummy bars. So thanks for the extra weight. Well, actually these have blueberries which automatically qualifies them as a health food, right? I mean...


Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 Small box instant coconut pudding
1/4 Cup water
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
2 Eggs
1 pkge fresh blueberries(about 6 oz)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cake mix, pudding, water, vegetable oil, eggs and blueberries in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the batter  into a greased 10x13 baking dish. Top with the shredded coconut. I sprayed it with non spray cooking oil and I have also used parchment paper.
Bake your bars for 20-25 minutes (if you want them a little crispier, you could cook for 30 min)
You want it to still be slightly gooey in middle, but if the edges are browning, it is just about right.
I would just recommend watching it, my mom has an electric stove and I have gas and they cooked differently.
Cool for about 20 minutes and cut into squares. And if you are like me, you will steal up the corners. They are just the best part, no arguments allowed. Well, actually, I suppose you can argue, as that leaves the best for me;)
If you want to see more about this yummy contest and the blue super food known as blueberries, check it out here.here

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Whoopie Pies

So many of my friends love banana. Like too die for emotions regarding it. I am here to let you know, in case you have missed my previous grumblings, I am not one of these people. In a smoothie, yes. Covered in dark chocolate and frozen. Yes, again. In my bread. Nope, not happening. Or pretty much any other way.

But then...there is banana pudding. That whole imitation nonsense. Guess what? Ok!, not my favorite, but I can deal with it. Especially after, oh...you know, there is whip cream and peanut butter added to the mix. Twist my arm and count me in. But only if you must...

So, with all the banana request lately...I wanted to at least try my hand at coming up with recipes I was willing to try and I am happy to say I found one.


Peanut butter cookie (mix or homemade)
cup chocolate chips
1 pkge banana pudding
6-8 oz cream cheese(softened)
1 1/2 cup whipping cream

Make your PB cookies and add in the chocolate chips. Bake and cool. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the pudding mix and 1/2 cup of whipping cream. Beat till combined and add in rest of cream ,beating till thick.

Place dollop on cookie and top with other cookie to spread filling.

Things I learned while from this....if placed in freezer overnight- it tastes like an ice cream sandwich. Oh my gosh, it was so very yummy and the banana flavor was less obvious. If you are a banana fan, then you should probably use 2 packs of pudding for a more intense flavor. Plus, instead of chocolate chips, you could always use reeses or even white chocolate.

Also, you could make the banana pudding with 1 cup of milk, let set for a few minutes and then mix with cool whip for a more simple filling. 

Just be sure to keep covered in fridge so they don't dry out.

and the funny thing is when I did spell check, I only spelled one word wrong, but over and over: banana. I was typing this in such a hurry that I really wanted it to be spelled banaba. 

Linking up with Jess & Ashley

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apple Cider Margarita

Let me say this from the beginning...I hate Apple Cider in its purest form. I just cannot drink it by itself. So last year when some friends asked me to create recipes using cider for the holidays, I was slightly apprehensive as to how I was going to go about it. and then I discovered something..

If you mix apple cider with just about any other flavor...I will instantly become a fan. haha First up last year was this apple cider sangria, followed by this apple cider mimosa and now, this year...I came up with a margarita version and then after I thought it up, my pinterest feed decided to humble me and let me know just how unoriginal my thought process really is. But, I will say that after looking through them, most of them have cinnamon or nutmeg and I stayed away from those.

This is really simple to create. The only tip I would give is to try and buy legitimate apple cider, if you don't have a local apple orchard, at least go for the for the jugs at the store that have obvious apple "bits" floating around.


Ingredients
4 oz apple cider
1 1/2 oz silver/gold tequila
1 oz triple sec
1 splash lime juice
sparkling cider/wine(optional)

Place all ingredients in shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with apple slices. If you so wish, top with sparkling cider or wine. In case you had yet to ascertain this little diddly about me...I am a lover of the bubbly. 

This is perfect for the upcoming holidays and you could easily swap this to make it a martini by using vodka in lieu of tequila.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars With Heath

I think I was almost surprised by how much I loved these and I should mention the torture I had to endure as they cooked. It was my birthday. and it was smack in the middle of my 2 week no sugar binge.

Yes, let's all take a moment to wonder what in the hades I was thinking. It was torture. The smells emitting from my kitchen were ridiculous. and I wanted them so bad and I was so good. and then, two days later...I had one. One measly serving. Gah.

But that one serving more than made up for the previous 12 days.  I think most of you know how much I love my bourbon and my bacon...but I also adore heath bar and butterscotch. and oh, they paired so extremely well with the pumpkin. 

My dad thought they were best in the morning, with his coffee. He had them two in a row, so I think he was semi serious about it;)

and they were so simple to make!





Ingredients:

1 Box pumpkin cake mix

1 Small box instant vanilla pudding
1/4 Cup water
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
2 Eggs
1/2 cup heath pieces
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cake mix, pudding, water, vegetable oil, eggs & butterscotch in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the batter  into a greased 10x13 baking dish. Top with the heath pieces. I sprayed it with non spray cooking oil and I have also used parchment paper.
Bake your bars for 20-25 minutes (if you want them a little crispier, you could cook for 30 min)
You want it to still be slightly gooey in middle, but if the edges are browning, it is just about right.
If you can't find pumpkin cake mix, you should be able to sub a yellow cake mix and add pumpkin pie spice, about a tsp. and for recipe sake, I said water, but you can use flavored coffee creamer, gives it a little more flavor punch.
Linking up with Jessica & Ashley

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spiced Banana & Caramel Bread Pudding

I have been planning this recipe in my mind for awhile, tweeking it, going back and forth the small details I wanted to complete it. And then, as I spotted this month's spiked ingredient...I knew. For whatever reason, this was the first recipe idea that popped into my mind when deciding what I should make for the contest.

I was intrigued as to how the spice of the rum would play off the sweetness of the banana and the caramel...and it was love at first bite. And...I make that declaration while simultaneously pointing out that I am not the biggest banana fan. Actually, I just lied. I am the antithesis of a banana fan, But for whatever reason, I seemed to enjoy them in this dish.

I can say that truthfully because I may be eating the left overs as I write this. It is late. It was only fair I have it as dessert to give you another option instead of just brunch..which was how this was devoured the first go round. and, uh, I may have added a big ole scoop of coffee ice cream.

Ingredients
8-10 slices of bread(cubed)
1 banana (diced)
3/4 cup cream (or milk)
2 oz spiced rum
3 large eggs (4 regular)
4 tbsp caramel sauce

cut the bread into cubes and place in a baking dish(make sure to butter or spray with non stick) Sprinkle bananas throughout and on top. In a separate bowl,  whisk together eggs, milk, rum and 1 tbsp of caramel sauce. Pour over bread. I like to use the tips of my fingers to press the bread down to make sure all of it is submerged in the egg mixture. Cover and place in fridge overnight(or at least 8 hours) Keep in mind it will rise when it bakes, so only fill the dish about 3/4 way full. Sometimes, there is liquid left over, if so, I save it and pour it over the bread in morning, right before I pop into oven.

preheat oven to 350 and bake for 30-45 minutes or until baked through. The bottom should be creamy and the top crispy. Top with caramel sauce.

***Notes.
Here are a few tips for making your best version of this dessert.


 For this particular one, I used this yummy bread.


 It made it sweeter, so if you want to minimize that, use any bread you want. These slices are small,  if you choose a different bread, you may not need as many slices.

I used flavored coffee creamer instead of milk. It gives it a creamier texture than just regular milk. I almost always substitute flavored creamer for milk when I am making a sweet dish.

 I love using them to make puddings also. You can change in boring old vanilla or cheesecake into multiple flavors. Flavored coffee creamers may be one of my favorite ingredients...except in coffee. I hate coffee. My husband still doesn't understand;) and yes, you did read the part about me adding coffee ice cream earlier...and no, I  don't always make sense. I am aware..


Linking up for the Spiked Challenge with This Gal Cooks and Frugal Foodie Mama

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Caramel Apple Whoopie Pies

This is the best way to enjoy the yummy flavors of a caramel apple, minus the mess. Although, it can't really replace the nostalgia I have from eating one. And oh, just the small addition of cheesecake. Yum, I think there are very few foods that will get me more excited than cheesecake. Actually, that may be a small fib. Heath bar may be on up there. Which is why my favorite blizzard is heath cheesecake. and now I am craving one. and it is 1am. How rude that Dairy Queen is A) not open this late and B) they don't offer delivery. 

But for the time being, this will have to satiate me and it delivers. I promise you this.  and my promises carry weight. Believe it.

When I stumbled upon the caramel apple cake mix in Target, I knew right away that I would be making a whoopie pie with it. I just needed to think about what filling would compliment the sweetness of the caramel and the tartness of the apple. Cheesecake was an easy choice. and if you haven't spied the caramel apple cake mix, never fear...in the notes section I have an alternate version.

Ingredients
1 box caramel apple cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp caramel ice cream topping
filling
1 packet cheesecake cream pudding
4-6 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping

Preheat oven to 350'

Mix together dry cake mix, oil, eggs, caramel and water. Place in fridge for about an hour.
I normally use a round TBSP to place on cookie sheet, but you can also use a round TSP to make them bite size and get more out of it. Bake 8-9 minutes

For the filling
Cream softened cream cheese on low for 1 minute to get fluffy, add the pudding packet and 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream, beat until fully incorporated and slowly add the  whipping cream and beat until peaks begin to form. or for alternate version, prepare the pudding w/1 cup cold milk and mix w/cool whip. Place in fridge for hour to let either version set up. 

 Melt the ice cream topping in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Place a large dollop of the filling on one cookie, spoon a little of the caramel over the cheesecake filling and press another on top to spread the filling out.

***Notes. If for some reason you cannot locate the caramel apple cake mix. Get a white cake mix and use 1/4 cup apple cider in place of the water and 2 tbsp caramel topping. Otherwise, follow directions. You could also possibly add in a half a cup of shredded apples.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chocolate Bars With Pumpkin & Coconut

I really like to play around with pumpkin flavors this time of the year. Seeing as how it was still in the 80's the first weekend in November  I can trick my mind into full on fall.  I normally go for the obvious marriage of pumpkin and caramel, but I appreciate how the spice of the pumpkin plays off of the chocolate  My sister in law is a big fan pumpkin and coconut and the idea for this was born out of her love. Even though she never got to taste them, she was definitely my muse. Don't worry, I made up for it and made another version she loves just as much.

One of my favorite bars to play around with is the ooey gooey recipe I first got from Paula Deen. I have been ready to try something new, though and after scouring through pinterest for ideas, I came up with the perfect base by combining 4 different recipes. I guess that means this is a whole new one;)

Either way, simple and easy and yummy! I have multiple creations from this one base for you over the next few weeks. It is pumpkin time and I refuse to back down. Even though I hate pumpkin pie to a whole other level. But this isn't pie... so I am in the clear. 


Ingredients:

1 Box chocolate cake mix
1 Small box instant coconut pudding
1/4 Cup water
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
2 Eggs
1 cup pumpkin spice m & M's
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cake mix, pudding, water, vegetable oil, eggs and m & m's in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the batter  into a greased 10x13 baking dish. Top with the shredded coconut. I sprayed it with non spray cooking oil and I have also used parchment paper.
Bake your bars for 20-25 minutes (if you want them a little crispier, you could cook for 30 min)
You want it to still be slightly gooey in middle, but if the edges are browning, it is just about right.
I would just recommend watching it, my mom has an electric stove and I have gas and they cooked differently.
Cool for about 20 minutes and cut into squares. And if you are like me, you will steal up the corners. They are just the best part, no arguments allowed. Well, actually, I suppose you can argue, as that leaves the best for me;)

Linking up with Jessica and Ashley

Monday, November 4, 2013

OTT: Raleigh-Calavera

Of all the places there are to eat and or enjoy a cocktail in Raleigh, there are few that make me as happy as this small corner bar. And small may be too large a description. When you walk in downstairs you land straight in the bar that can comfortably hold less than ten people. But many times I have been there when it many more than that were in attendance.
Calavera Empanadas & Tequila Bar

Up the stairs you go and find a very unassuming dining room with windows that overlook a few other dinner and late night spots in the Oak City. And then you are handed a menu and as you look over it you begin to get the feeling that this in not your typical bar.



and you would be right. They claim to specialize in two specific things: Tequila and empanadas. And I believe that is why they do them so well. Some places can pull off a menu that is all over the map, but I feel it holds true that when you do specific things right, you will succeed. 

and every visit I have partaken in to this sweet spot has led me to believe that they absolutely back up their claim. I am not the largest fan of their jerk chicken empanadas, it is certainly not due to the fact that they are not incredible, but more so that they do the pork ones so beyond tasty that everything else falls second in my book.


and not to be outdone, their tequila selection is top notch. Perhaps one of the largest in our area. And they whip up a darn good margarita. And I love that they usually offer seasonal flavors. Right now it was Apple Cider, which is funny because I had just come up with my own recipe for it and to say they were similar would be an understatement!



One of the other reasons I love stopping by here is their proximity to one of my favorite hole in the wall music venues, Lincoln Theater. You can swing in for dinner beforehand or even just a late night beverage. 

I promise a visit here will be worth your while.