Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Peanut Butter Bars!

I once told Chris "You and I go together like Peanut butter and chocolate! :) He kind of looked at me funny; however, to me....the two were MADE for each other (kind of like Chris and I)! I made these Peanut Butter Bars from the Allrecipes website for a movie night with our good friends. I changed a few things and the result was OUTSTANDING!

Recipe after modifications:

1 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup peanut butter
*1 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons peanut butter

Combine butter and 1 cup peanut butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat until mixture is smooth and blended. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and peanut butter mixture, graham cracker crumbs, and confectioners' sugar until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips with the 2 tablespoons peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth (I microwaved chips 1 minute at a time and it took just 2 minutes and 30 seconds). Spread over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

Notes: I refrigerated for about 3 hours. Keep refrigerated until 20 minutes before serving and slicing. These are perfect after 20 minutes at room temperature!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


On Saturday, April 26th my mom and I participated in a 5K walk/run sponsored by Panera in Centerville, Ohio. All proceeds went to benefit the Children's Hunger Alliance – helping thousands of hungry children in Ohio. Medals and gift cards were awarded to the top three finishers overall male and female in each age group. After the race, everyone celebrated at the finish line with fresh bagels, pastries and sandwiches from Panera Bread. Yum!
As you can see in the picture my AWESOME mom and myself both finished top three in our age groups. Actually...we both finished 2nd! There were 609 people running/walking the race. We had a blast together. We always do! I was so glad my mom made the trip to run with me. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


My favorite dessert as a child was my grandma’s Strawberry Shortcake. Before Chris and I were married he thought “Strawberry Shortcake” was filling that disgusting, pre-packaged sponge cake cups with strawberries. Yuck. The first time grandma made her recipe for Chris, she told him “this is how we make it right”.
I found this dessert courtesy of Paula Dean and made a few changes to incorporate my grandma’s delicious recipe. The result….one SCRUPTIOUS STRAWBERY SHORTCAKE!

For the cake:
Grandma’s “Southern” Fashion Shortcake (recipe below)
**I choose to cut each individual shortcake into 6 “cubes” to create the trifle layer with bite-size pieces. You may also slice shortcake in half using a serrated knife, horizontally and then create layers.

For the custard:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

For the glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1 container fresh strawberries, cut into quarters
Whole fresh strawberries and mint leaves, for garnish

For the custard:
Mix together cream cheese, condensed milk, and whipped topping in a bowl; refrigerate.

For the glaze:
Place sliced strawberries in a bowl/container with lid and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate for several hours to allow strawberries and sugar to create their own sweet juicy glaze.

For assembly:
Place 1 layer of cake in a large clear bowl. Top with a layer of glaze, followed by a layer of custard mixture. Repeat layering in this order for remaining cake, glaze and custard. Top cake with 3 whole fresh strawberries and fresh mint leaves.

Grandma’s “Southern” Fashion Shortcake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and cream of tartar. Cut in butter. Stir in cream and egg. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 minutes. Press into a half-inch thick sheet. Cut into squares. Place on baking sheets.
Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until golden.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Jumped on the Blake Makes bandwagon!

This week I discovered the wonderful Blake Makes food blog. Black Killian is from New Orleans and as an added bonus to his amazing recipes and food photos, Blake and his wife offer FREEBIES! A few days after joining I found the first Sooper Heroes post! The Chutney Crostata Give-Away followed by the All-Day-sign-up-24-free-jars-of-chutney! I was so excited to see my name at the top of the recent winners post.
Look for updates once I receive my winnings. :)

Sweet treat for my Sweetie.

We can’t spend a Friday night in without dessert! I am really in the “cupcake” mood lately and these delicious treats definitely did the trick! Rich, chocolaty, and peanut buttery…..yum! The cupcakes themselves came from allrecipes.com, but as I was combining ingredients, I tasted the batter and it didn’t taste “fudgy” enough for my taste. I included my changes in parenthesis. The Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting is also from allrecipes.com(I cut the recipe in half). I have used it MANY times. It is delicious!

Chris was sweet enough to help me with the photography. He wasn't satisfied with his "bite" photo and decided he should cut the cupcake in half for a second shoot. :) He was so careful to make a clean, neat cut in the cupcake! Too cute.(Shhh....don't tell him I published both pics!)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (**I added 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup baking cocoa (**I added 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; mix well. Pour into 18 greased or paper-lined muffin cups.
For filling, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in another mixing bowl. Add egg and salt; mix well. Drop by tablespoonfuls into center of each cupcake. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons milk, or as needed
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.
Frost cupcakes once they have cooled completely.

Finally....Friday Night Together!

It has been 3 months since Chris and I had a Friday night together due to Chris’ 7pm-7am shift. No more! Chris is done with nights and I am so very happy! To celebrate many more dinners together these upcoming months I wanted to make his favorite meal.
I have mentioned what a picky eater he is and posted his favorite dish in March 2007 Chris loves chicken alfredo (he orders it everywhere we go). At home, I have been making the EXACT same sauce for over two years. I decided to go CRAZY and try a new recipe (which is very daring since Chris likes to stick to a good thing when he finds it). :) I am so glad I was feeling adventurous! Chris loved the change! I was inspired by a recipe I found on Foodnetwork.com. In an attempt to sneak some “green” in to my picky husbands diet, I added one of the only vegetables he will eat….broccoli. Chris’ review….”Mmmmmm”.
In addition to the pasta, we had some delicious Oven Fried Chicken Tenders. I recently read (I apologize for not recalling which of the many food blogs I read that I saw this post) someone used cereal and bagel chips to coat chicken tenders. I decided to give it a try! The result….delicious! A simple, Chris pleasing meal. :)

Chris’ Special Broccoli Alfredo Pasta
Inspired and modified from Eatingwell.com

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
1 bag steamed broccoli florets (Birdseye Steam Fresh)
3 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoon red pepper flakes (Adds a great kick!)
salt to taste (additional for pasta water)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Parsley (garnish)
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Combine broth and garlic cloves in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.
After the garlic has simmered about 10 minutes, cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring often, for 9 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, add cornstarch mixture to simmering broth; whisk it until slightly thickened, about 15 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in sour cream, nutmeg, pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt. Return the pot to very low heat to keep the sauce warm. (Do not boil.)
Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add bag of steamed broccoli. Add the sauce and 3/4 cup Parmesan; toss to coat well. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately, passing the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan separately.

Oven Fried Chicken Tenders
Cooking Spray (I used Pam Olive Oil)
1 cups rice-corn crispy cereal, (I used Crispex)
2 cups broken bagel chips
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in to strips (4 strips per breast- 8 total)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

First, combine crispy cereal and bagel chips in blender or food processor and pulverize until crumb consistency.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a resealable plastic bag or shallow dish, combine cereal/bagel chip mixture, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Brush each chicken breast with Dijon mustard. Add chicken to seasoning mixture with tongs and turn to coat both sides. Transfer chicken to prepared baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.