Chocolate Fudge

Well, considering it has been around 7 months since last publishing, we figured it was time. The past many months have been spent trying to keep up with kids activities, work, and various other adventures.  However, this site was never really forgotten; we actually talk about it regularly.  But life happens…

Fudge

Regardless, it’s Christmas season, and today I’m bringing you fudge!  The recipe included in this post is courtesy of my husband’s grandmother, and it’s delicious.  It’s also very sweet and very rich.  You’ll probably want to ensure you take some to the neighbors, and to work, and to family.

Fudge

Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1 can evaporated milk
12 ounces real semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces German Sweet Chocolate (bar)
1 small jar marshmallow fluff
2 cups nuts (optional)

Directions:
1. Boil sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk for 6 minutes.
2. Then pour boiling syrup over chocolate chips, chocolate, marshmallow cream and nuts.
3. Beat until chocolate is melted and pour into buttered pan.

Fudge

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Let stand a few hours before serving.

Fudge

Enjoy!

Asiago Salad with Grilled Chicken

A little while back my husband took me out for a nice little lunch date. A co-worker of his recommended a Mediterranean cafe, so he thought we should go check it out.  It happened to be one of the first nice days of spring the day we went.  So we sat outside on their patio and soaked up the sun!

As we were checking out the menu, one of the first things we noticed was that they had Shawarma.  If you have watched through the credits to the end of the Avengers, you will know why this may have caught our attention.  So of course my husband had to order that, to see what it was all about.  Might have to attempt to make that in the future! He said it was pretty good.

Asiago Salad

I, on the other hand, ordered their asiago salad.  It was a mixture of greens with tomatoes, kalamata olives and lots of shaved asiago.  I really enjoyed it, and of course I thought to myself I can recreate this lovely salad at home.

So here it is, a great salad to take to a picnic and share with everyone.  Or add the marinated chicken and it’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

Asiago Salad with Grilled Chicken

Asiago Salad with Grilled Chicken

2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 2-3 inch chunks

Marinade:
4 Tb olive oil
3 Tb fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/2 Tb kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup cilantro

Salad:
1 small head raddichio
1 head romaine lettuce
5-6 cups arugula
3/4 cup kalamata olives
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 – 3/4 cup freshly shaved asiago cheese

Dressing:
4 Tb. red wine vinegar
2 Tb. honey
8 Tb. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Place all of the marinade ingredients, except the cilantro in the food processor.  Pulse 5-7 times until garlic is minced.  Add cilantro and pulse a few more times.
2. Place Chicken in a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over chicken.  Gently massage the chicken to make sure the marinade has coated each piece.  Place in the fridge and marinate for 4-8 hours.
3. Preheat grill.  Cook chicken over medium heat until well cooked. Discard any remaining marinade.
4. While chicken is grilling chop and clean the raddichio and romaine. If you have a salad spinner use that to dry the raddichio and lettuce. If you do not, simply lay a couple layers of paper towels out on the counter and spread the leave out and gently pat dry.  Add chopped radicchio, lettuce, and arugula to a large bowl and toss together.
5. Add grape tomatoes, olives, and asiago cheese.
6. Right before ready to serve, whisk together the dressing ingredients. You can either plate your salad and put the chicken to the side or let chicken cool completely before adding to the bowl of lettuce mixture.

Asiago Salad with Grilled Chicken

Enjoy!

Semi-Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Those who have known me for a long time, will tell you how much I love to bake.  Cupcakes have to be one of my favorite things to make.  They are easy to make, taste good, and aren’t as stressful as creating a perfect full-size cake!  To say I may be a perfectionist, is probably only scratching the surface. :)  I also love how quick cupcakes are from start to finish.  In the last two years, as we have changed our diet to more clean eating and swapped out most sweets, I don’t make cupcakes too often.

A couple of weeks ago was teacher appreciation week at our school.  For most of the year my 3rd grader has come home and told me her teacher’s favorite things.  She also points out every time we go grocery shopping that “my teacher loves Reeses.”  I can’t even count how many times she has dropped this hint.  So I figured the perfect thing to make for her teacher for Teacher Appreciation week was these lovely cupcakes, with a hidden little peanut butter cup inside.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I prefer to use a milk chocolate cake mix for this recipe.  But if you have a favorite chocolate cake mix, go ahead and use that.

Semi-Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes Ingredients

For the Cake:
1 box milk chocolate cake mix + ingredients listed on box
1 12 oz package of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures

For the Frosting:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2  cup creamy peanut butter
1 pounds confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6-8 tablespoons milk

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Instructions
1.  Preheat oven according to directions on box.  Line muffin tin with 24 paper liners.  Unwrap 24 Reeses Miniatures and set aside.
2.  Make cake batter according to directions on the box.  Divide the batter among the 24 cupcake liners.  Place a reese miniature on top of each cupful of batter.  No need to push the miniature down, just set it on top it will slightly sink as the batter rises during baking.  Cook cupcakes according to box directions.
3.  Allow cupcakes to fully cool before you start making frosting.
4.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and peanut butter until fluffy.  Turn off mixer and add all of the powdered sugar at once.  Slowly turn your mixer on to the lowest setting and mix until well combined, 2-3 minutes.
5.  Turn mixer up to medium-low and add in vanilla extract and milk.  Add the milk 2 tablespoons at a time, let each addition fully incorporate before adding the next 2 tablespoons.  Continue adding milk until you reach your desired consistency.  Then beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
6.  Unwrap 12 more Reeses Miniatures and cut in half.  Set aside.  Place your favorite piping tip in the bottom of a pipping bag.  Fill the piping bag with the peanut butter frosting.  Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. Garnish each cupcake with half of a Reese’s Miniature.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Enjoy!

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

We no longer keep most go to breakfast items in our house.  After cleaning up our diet a couple of years ago, I started to realize the junk that is in most store bought breakfast items.  So most weeks I try to make up pancakes, waffles, or muffins ahead of time for breakfast.

My kids seem to love anything lemon flavored.  My oldest daughter was asking me all week to “please make lemon poppyseed muffins,” while my son stated “I think you should make lemon pound cake and add a raspberry to it.”  I do have to give it to him, he comes up with some great food ideas.  So upon all of their requests I decided that I would much rather make muffins than pound cake.  So I decided to combine the two ideas and make lemon raspberry muffins.

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

The list of ingredients is pretty simple and comes together quickly, which to me is a super bonus!

Lemon Raspberry Muffins Ingredients
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp pure almond extract
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
2 cups fresh raspberries

Instructions
1.  Rinse raspberries and put them in a single layer on paper towels to air dry.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-count muffin tray with liners.
3.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
4.  In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, almond extract, lemon zest and juice.  Add all of liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
4.  Count out 24 raspberries and set aside.  Add remaining raspberries to the batter and gently fold into batter.
5.  Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin cups (it may seem like you are filling them too full but you aren’t).  Lightly press two raspberries into the top of each muffin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Lemon Raspberry Muffins     Lemon Raspberry Muffins

6.  Let muffin cool in pan for a few minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Makes 12 muffins

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nut Butter

I hope all you Moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day Sunday!  So sweet of my kids and husband to hack my account and create a post.  The kiddos even made that design themselves.  What a great surprise to see!  My husband kept telling me I should write a post so we could get it posted Sunday.  Well I didn’t feel like doing that so I didn’t get to see their post until late that night! Still a nice surprise.

The weather here in Northern Virginia was beautiful Sunday.  After a nice breakfast out with my husband, we decided to go for a bike ride as a family. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of trails, so we decided to scope a few new ones out.   It was such a nice time together, sometimes in our busy lives we forget to just be in the moment.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nut Butter

Today I bring you my new obsession.  I think I say that about a lot of different things, but what can I say…making/trying/creating new things causes me to like the new stuff better than the last.  So I have discussed my obsession with peanut butter; well, it’s on the back burner.  Don’t even care about it anymore!  I have discovered the world of nut butters, and this recipe is out of this world!

This is incredibly easy to make and it won’t last too long.  I love to eat it a spoonful at a time, but it’s also super yummy with apples.  I am sure that it tastes delectable with many other things, but it usually doesn’t make it any further than the spoon for me. :)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nut Butter

Recipe adapted from “Oh She Glows”

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nut Butter Ingredients
2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup raw unsalted macadamia nuts
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) coconut sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nut Butter

Instructions
1.  Put cashews and macadamias in food processor and process until it reaches a smooth nut butter mixture.  This will take about 5-10 minutes.
2.  Add to the nut butter the coconut sugar and vanilla extract and continue processing.  You will notice that the batter gets a little thicker at first, but no worries, continue processing and it will go back to the smooth consistency you want.
3.  Once your nut butter is finished processing, place nut butter in fridge to chill before adding chocolate chips.  After it has been in the fridge for about 1 to 2 hours, take it out and stir in the chocolate chips and it’s ready to be served.
4.  Store in the refrigerator in a sealed jar or container.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nut Butter

Enjoy!

Happy Mother’s Day

I don’t get the chance to thank her often enough, but I definitely wanted my wife to know how much she is appreciated and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day!  The kids and I hope you enjoyed your breakfast, your Starbucks, and overall this bright and sunny day!

mothers day slide

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

For many years, I tried different chocolate chip cookie recipes.  I had an idea in my head of what they should taste like and could never find a recipe that gave me that, “yes, this is it” feeling.  Of course no one in my house complained about the many batches of different chocolate chip cookies I made trying to find the right one. Truthfully, they loved it.  But they were never the perfect cookie until I found these!  Truth be told, they are now only occasionally made as a treat, but when I first found this recipe I think I made them every other day.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wish I could remember why, or if I was recommended this cookbook or how it even came about.  But one day 4 or 5 years ago, I came across the book “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce.  I bought the cookbook and did my usual reading of it from front to back, marking the book with the different recipes I wanted to try.  The first recipe that I knew I had to try was the Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

The whole wheat flour gives this one a rich, almost nutty flavor.  You will not be disappointed!  I have made these cookies many times and always get compliments on them.  The funny part is, nobody even knows they are made with whole wheat flour.

Recipe adapted from “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Butter

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mat.
2.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt  into a large bowl, pouring any bits of grain or salt that don’t sift, into the bowl.
3.  Add the butter and sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed, just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes.
4.  Scrape down the side of the bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is combined.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture  to the bowl and blend on low speed until flour is barely combined.
5.  Add the chocolate chips all at once, and mix on low speed until the chocolate is evenly combined.
6.  Scoop mounds about 2-3 tablespoons in size onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each mound.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

7.  Bake the cookie for 15-20 minutes, rotating sheets half way through, until the cookies are evenly dark brown. Transfer cookies to wire cooling rack to cool slightly before eating.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Enjoy!

Gyro Burgers

Gyro Burgers

I love a good gyro!  My first gyro was at the Iowa State Fair.  My husband had been eating them for many years from a street vendor on Welch Ave in Ames, Iowa and after much convincing, finally got me to try one.  Wow, I had been missing out!  If you aren’t sure what a traditional gyro is, it’s a pita filled with shaved lamb meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.

My burgers are placed between two homemade gluten-free pitas.  I still need to work on that recipe, so I am not sharing it today.  But you can also eat them on a bun or use 1/2 of a regular pita.

Gyro Burgers

I am fortunate now to live in such a culture rich part of the United States, that I don’t have to go very far to have an authentic gyro.  But going out is a special treat for us, so I wanted a way to make an easy gyro at home and that’s when I came up with this gyro burger.  Lamb and fresh tzatiziki are easily found at our local grocery store.  I know that in many places things like that aren’t as available, so if you want to try the burgers but can’t get your hands on ground lamb, you can try it with hamburger.  It’s not the same but it comes close.

So just a little side note:  It is pronounce Euro not gy-row.  If you want to really irritate my husband and many of his friends who can’t stand when things are pronounced incorrectly, please continue to say it wrong.  I do that just to get a rise out of them.  :)

Gyro Burgers

Gyro Burger Ingredients
1 lb. ground lamb
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 roma tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 cup tzatziki sauce
4 hamburger buns or 2 pitas
lettuce

Instructions
1.  Mix lamb with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Form into 4 patties.  Let patties rest, covered in fridge for at least one hour.  You can make the patties up to  12 hours in advance, just keep them covered in the fridge until ready to use.
2.  When you are ready to cook the burgers, heat grill on high heat.  Once grill is hot, turn it to medium heat and place patties on the grill.  Grill about 5 minutes each side, or until desired doneness.  Take off grill and let rest for 3 minutes.
3.  Place each pattie on a bun and top with a few slice of tomatoes, lettuce and 2 tablespoons of tzatziki sauce.

Gyro Burgers

Enjoy!

Monster Cookies

Sorry for not being around so much lately! Life has gotten a little crazy, as it seems to every spring with all the activities that come about. And of course the excitement of being outside and knowing that Summertime is coming.

My kids have been requesting I make monster cookies, for some time now. It’s one of their favorite treats. I finally gave in this week and made a big batch of them.

Monster Cookies

If you are a peanut butter fan, as I am, these cookies should go to the top of your list. They are over the top with peanut butter and two different chocolates in them. They won’t last very long either! They are simply irresistible, I can’t stop eating them. My husband did do a good job of packing some up and taking them to work. But I still ate more than the one I intended to.

Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 cups Old-fashioned Oatmeal
1/2 lb. M&Ms candy
1/2 lb. chocolate chips

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars with the paddle attachment. Cream until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
3. Turn mixer to low and add eggs, one at a time. Once eggs are incorporated add in vanilla extract.
4. Add baking soda and oatmeal. You can add it all at once or slowly- either way gets the same results on this cookie.
5. With mixer on lowest speed, add in M&Ms and chocolate chips. Mix only a couple of turns on the mixer, then stir by hand so you don’t break the M&Ms.
6. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat mat.
7. Drop cookies by the 1/4 cup onto lined cookies sheets, leaving at least an inch between each cookie. I can put about 8 per sheet.

Note:
* I use a 1/4 cup scoop to make these cookies; they are called “monster” cookies. However, feel free to make smaller cookies and only cook them for 8-10 minutes.

8. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned. Remove cookies and allow to rest on pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Monster Cookies

Enjoy!

Grandpa’s Margaritas

If you read my last post you know that I had a girl’s night a little while back and served up some tasty Taco Burgers. If you haven’t tried them yet you really should!

So what else do you need for a girl’s night? Or should I say what goes with a taco burger? I’ll give you a little guess, “you put the lime in the coconut and mix it all around.”

Grandpa's Margaritas

You got it–margaritas! Can anybody tell what movie they play that song in reference to midnight margaritas? Great movie!

Anyway, these margaritas are from my husband’s side of the family. Every year at Christmas his Grandpa makes these, and you can assume a lot of it is consumed! They don’t just go perfect with the burgers, but they taste pretty good with anything! :)

If you are having a party you can make this ahead of time and stick it in the freezer, then pull it out and thaw not too long before you want to serve your peeps!

Grandpa's Margaritas

Grandpas Margarita’s
6 oz. tequila
4 to 5 cups ice cubes
6 oz. frozen lime juice
6 oz. beer

Instructions
1. Place ice and tequila in a blender and blend until ice is crushed.
2. Add frozen lime juice and beer; blend until smooth and there are no large chunks of ice.
3. Serve it up!

* Since everything comes in 12 oz. containers we always double it and never have a problem getting rid of it. :)

Grandpa's Margaritas

Enjoy!