Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

  sandwich

With summer in full swing, I’ve been seeing a lot of ice cream recipes circulating around Pinterest. This ice cream sandwich trick has popped up a few times and I decided to give it a try after reading about Lauren Conrad’s successful attempt on her website. I used my sea salt chocolate chip cookie recipe (minus the sea salt) to make the cookies and bought a variety of mini ice cream cartons for the filling. Instead of using pints and large cookies, which other recipes called for, I decided to use the personal-sized cartons and small chocolate chip cookies to create a more manageable serving size. It was a simple, sweet treat and just the right amount!

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How to:

  1. Take the ice cream out of the freezer and use a sharp knife to make an incision at the top of the carton where the cardboard overlaps, dragging it vertically to the bottom. This will make it easier to peel off the wrapping when the ice cream is cut into discs.
  2. Next, cut horizontally to create a one-inch-thick disk of ice cream, then peel off the cardboard.
  3. Place on top of one cookie, then top with another to create the sandwich. To ensure it stays frozen, return to freezer and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Repeat and enjoy :)

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It’s important to keep the ice cream in the freezer until you are ready to begin cutting, working with one carton at a time. The softer the ice cream, the harder it is to cut into disks. Also, the ice cream will naturally melt while you are working with it, so it helps to freeze the assembled sandwiches before eating them in order to keep their shape and not become a sticky mess. Overall, I would agree that this trick works, but it’s not as easy and perfect as Pinterest makes it seem.

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{Pictured above: salted caramel, vanilla bean and chocolate chip cookie dough}

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Brown Butter Bacon Ice Cream

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Bacon and ice cream aren’t normally associated with each other, but just like maple doughnuts topped with bacon bits, this unlikely combination of sweet and salty will definitely please your palate. We were inspired to make this indulgent dessert after devouring the bourbon fudge brownie topped with housemade brown butter bacon ice cream at Carson Kitchen in Downtown Las Vegas.

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The taste and texture of the candied bacon complements the creamy base perfectly. It brings the sweetness while the brown butter brings the salty, nutty flavor. I would advise making a few extra pieces of bacon because most likely they will not all make it to the ice cream. A few slices may or may not have been eaten before mixing the ingredients….

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Brown Butter Ice Cream with Candied Bacon

Ingredients

For the candied bacon:

  • 6 or 7 strips of bacon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

For the ice cream custard:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 3/4 cups Half & Half
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. rum

Directions

  1. To make the candied bacon, preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Top with a cooling rack and spray with coking spray. Press brown sugar onto both sides of the bacon and lay on prepared rack. Cook for 8 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 8-12 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the brown sugar is bubbly. Let cool.
  2. For the ice cream custard, melt butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until butter is a dark amber color and has a nutty smell (about 6 minutes). Pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Bring Half & Half to a simmer in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugars and salt, until thickened and well blended. Whisk in brown butter until combined. Gradually add warm Half & Half to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking. Once tempered, return to saucepan and add the vanilla and rum. Stir over medium heat until mixture reaches 180F and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain into a large bowl. Cover with cling wrap, pressing it down directly on top of the custard to prevent a film from forming. Let cool in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  5. Once the custard is completely cool, place in ice cream machine and follow manufacturer’s directions. Add candied bacon bits when there are about 5 minutes left.
  6. Let it harden in the freezer or serve immediately. It goes great with fresh brownies!
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Bourbon Brownies

bourbon

After indulging in the brown butter bacon ice cream served with a bourbon fudge brownie at Carson Kitchen, Rob and I attempted to recreate this decadent dessert. Step one: the brownie! I’m not much of a bourbon fan, but mixed with chocolate it is delicious! The flavor is subtle and really enhances the cocoa. I like to serve these sweet treats while they are still warm and top them with ice cream (brown butter bacon recipe coming soon). Fresh brownies with melting ice cream—what’s not to love?

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Bourbon Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat 9″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the bourbon to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine sugar and butter, mixing on medium speed until well combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, powder and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined.
  5. Spread into prepared baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan on wire rack.

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Watermelon Strawberry Sangria

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Did you know that today is National Watermelon Day? Well, it is and the timing couldn’t be more perfect because this cool, healthy fruit is a summer staple. I’ve used it for several recipes this season, including a watermelon and feta salad, watermelon margaritas and watermelon ice cubes to go with homemade lemonade.

After making a batch of refreshing margaritas, I decided to use the rest of the flavorful fruit to make some thirst-quenching sangria. This simple recipe yields four to six servings and is perfect for a backyard barbecue. Summer and sangria definitely go together like peanut butter and jelly. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Carson Kitchen

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For Rob’s birthday in March, I told him I would buy tickets for a concert at Brooklyn Bowl because I think he would really enjoy this new venue at The LINQ complete with food, drinks and bowling. The concert space reminds me of the Showbox in Seattle, which we saw some fun shows at, so I thought it was a great gift! However, we haven’t been able to see any of the bands we like because of his weird shift work schedule, so we did a little birthday redo. He wanted to see the Book of Mormon, so I bought him tickets to that and surprised him with dinner before the show. Carson Kitchen is a new restaurant in Downtown Las Vegas and had only been open for a day or two when we dined. Everything was on point and is now one of our favorite Vegas restaurants.

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We started with the baked brie and bacon jam, which is served alongside a toasted baguette. The flavor was amazing and definitely unique! We also shared the veal meatballs in a sherry foie gras cream sauce. These sharable plates were delicious and something you can’t find anywhere else.

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I ordered the cocoa-espresso NY strip steak with red wine demi  since I can’t say no to chocolate or espresso. Rob and I always play the “who ordered best” game and I definitely won this round. His swordfish was good, too, but it’s hard to beat this indulgent steak.

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Throughout the meal I couldn’t stop thinking about the bourbon brownie I had seen on the dessert menu. It is served with brown butter bacon ice cream, which was similar to a salted caramel flavor. The candied bacon added a little crunch and created that sweet and salty flavor that I love! We will definitely try making this with our own ice cream machine soon!

Since this first visit, I have been back for a girls’ night where we enjoyed the tempura green beans with pepper jelly cream cheese and baked truffle mac & cheese. Of course I also had to try the glazed donut bread pudding, which is made with doughnuts from the neighboring O Face Doughnuts. It was also amazing. The restaurant itself has a casual, neighborhood vibe that is enhanced with a rooftop deck adorned with festive strings of lights making it a great Downtown destination.

 

Flavorful Friday Fiesta

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TGIF! What better way to start the weekend than with a flavorful fiesta – and watermelon margarita?! Last weekend we grilled up some of our favorite eats and meats to have a fun, festive dinner. The meal was an afterthought to the watermelon margaritas I was excited to try. I wanted the cuisine to complement the refreshing concoction, so we grilled some summer staples and added a Mexican twist.

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We grilled a seasoned skirt steak, which was then topped with an avocado salsa. For a side, I spiced up classic corn on the cob by seasoning it with chili powder and sprinkling it with cotija cheese. I had tasted this traditional Mexican street corn at a restaurant here in Vegas and decided to recreate the deliciousness. The buttery, flavorful corn made for a sensational side.

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Mexican Corn on the Cob

Ingredients

  • 2 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated cotija cheese
  • 2 wedges of lime
  • 1 tsp. chili powder

Directions

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Grill corn until hot and lightly charred, 7 to 10 minutes. Use a basting brush to coat corn with melted butter and mayonnaise. Sprinkle with cotija cheese, lime juice and chili powder.

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Skirt Steak with Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

For the steak:

  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak or sirloin steak
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

For the salsa:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix all of the steak seasonings together and rub on the steaks about 1 hour before grilling, covering well and storing in refrigerator. Grill for about 4 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes, until steak reaches desired doneness.
  2. To make the salsa, mix the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and serve on top of the steak.

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National Hot Dog Day

hot dog 2 CollageI think it’s fitting that National Hot Dog Day falls in July. Whether they are enjoyed at the ball park or around a camp fire, these popular eats seem like the epitome of summer (in addition to ice cream and s’mores, of course). Even though hot dogs seem like a seasonal dish, when I was little they were a year-round staple. I remember Thanksgiving dinners as a kid when my mom would bring hot dogs for my sister and I because we were such picky eaters. I don’t know what happened because now I am very adventurous and enjoy trying new cuisines. Who would have thought that the kid chowing down on microwaved hot dogs would have tried (and liked!) calamari and carpaccio?!

Back then I stuck to ketchup (not even mustard!) as a classic condiment, but now these unique creations make my mouth water! I can’t wait to spice up our next backyard barbecue with these tasty treats.

hot dog 7{Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Hot Dog from Shared Appetite}

hot dog 5
{Corn Dog Mini Muffins from Damn Delicious}

hot dog 1{Tex Mex Hot Dogs from Country Cleaver}

hot dog 6
{BLT Hot Dogs with Caraway Remoulade from Food & Wine}

hot dog 2
{Sweet Pork & Tomatillo Ranch Hot Dogs from Creme de la Crumb}

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

salsa

Rob loves snacking on chips and salsa, so when we bought a food processor the first thing he made was tomatillo avocado salsa. We loved it as the fresh ingredients make it stand out from store-bought dips. It’s the perfect combination of salsa and guacamole with just enough spice. Pair it with a refreshing margarita and you’ve got a flavorful fiesta!

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and sliced in half
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. On baking sheet covered with foil, place the tomatillo halves, seed-side down, jalapeño and garlic. Cook (or broil) for about 10 minutes, until tomatillos and softened and slightly charred. Let cool.
  2. Add tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño, onion, cilantro and scooped avocado to a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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For a summer-inspired dinner yesterday, I grilled zucchini slices to have as a side with our barbecue chicken. We still had one left over, so I decided to mix it up and make a sweet treat instead. Since it would only be for the two of us, I didn’t want to make a batch of two dozen. Instead I created this chocolate zucchini recipe that only yields eight muffins, which is a much more manageable amount. Although I could probably finish a dozen myself, I would prefer to be able to fit into my jeans.

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If you’re looking to sneak some vegetables into your diet, this is a good way to enjoy some zucchini. It’s not exactly healthy, but I guess you have to start somewhere. The zucchini flavor is hardly noticeable as the chocolate is the dominant flavor. You can vary the amount of chocolate by using more or less cocoa powder and by adding or omitting the chocolate chips.

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The muffins turned out nice and moist with a firm top, creating a nice texture. Next time I might try the recipe with bananas or apple sauce instead of the oil and substituting the all-purpose flour with whole wheat to make it a little healthier.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

{Makes 8 muffins}

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with paper liners (I found these cute parchment paper cups at Target).
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg. Beat in sugar and oil, until combined. Add cocoa, vanilla and zucchini, stirring until fully incorporated.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mixing until just moist. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling them 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle the tops with additional chocolate chips, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.

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San Diego Treats

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Rob and I went to San Diego last weekend for a wedding, so I did a lot of research and made a list of places to visit since we had never been. Of course my top priority was finding the best restaurants. Although we didn’t have time to try them all, we did have several scrumptious meals! San Diego has a fun culinary scene with a variety of fresh seafood and chic gastropubs. Gaslamp Quarter is full of trendy dining destinations and we also liked Little Italy, which has a bustling farmers’ market. We tend to stay within the $ to $$ range on Yelp, so the below restaurants are pretty affordable, but still delicious!

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My favorite restaurants + bars:

  • Prepkitchen. I knew this was going to be a great restaurant when I walked in and saw the rustic chic décor. We went on a Saturday afternoon when they were still serving brunch, so I ordered the chilaquiles made with chipotle braised chicken, avocado, onion, queso fresco and over-medium eggs. It had great flavor! My friend ordered the poppy seed pancakes topped with strawberries, rhubarb whipped cream and almond crumble – it was unreal! With the fluffy pancakes and flavorful toppings, she definitely had the best order. They also offer a self-serve coffee and scone bar (pictured above), which I thought was a cute idea.
  • Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. Rob and I love watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so we try to visit at least one of those restaurants when we go to a new city. Since we were in San Diego, we also wanted to take advantage of the fresh, local seafood. Blue Water did not disappoint! I loved the mini Calico Amber Ale beer-battered shrimp tacos. The portions are good-sized, too, so you definitely get your money’s worth.
  • Donut Bar. Before heading home we stopped for some sweet treats. The artisan doughnuts come in a variety of delicious flavors, such as salted caramel (pictured below), Nutella, red velvet and chocolate espresso. These doughnuts are HUGE. I thought they might be a little overpriced when I was looking up the flavors online, but these are at least three times as large as a typical grocery store cake doughnut. We were in a sugar coma on our drive home, but well worth it!
  • El Indio. This popular San Diego establishment catered the wedding, which made for a tasty fiesta! We enjoyed the mini chicken burritos, fish tacos and chips topped with guacamole. Next time we will try out the actual restaurant, too!
  • The Fish Market. After touring the USS Midway, we were starving and looking to grab some grub right on the harbor. We came across this waterfront restaurant and had a savory lunch while sitting in the sun. It was pretty crowded, but we found a table on the deck with an amazing view of the water. We loved the baked crab & artichoke dip and king crab BLT.
  • Werewolf. Before heading to the Padres game on the 4th of July we fueled up at this American pub with seared ahi soba noodles and some drinks. It’s a fun atmosphere with a great menu and within walking distance of the stadium.
  • Frost Me. While looking for some waterfront attractions I came across Seaport Village, which is full of shops, restaurants and entertainment. I saw that there was a gourmet cupcake shop that had been a champion on Cupcake Wars, so I immediately added it to our to-do list. Located in the heart of the bustling village, the bakery has a long list of classic and specialty flavors. I tried mocha (pictured below), which was made with chocolate cake topped with a layer of chocolate ganache, espresso frosting and crushed espresso beans – delicious!
  • Noble Experiment. This chic speakeasy is hidden inside Neighborhood, a gastropub located in Gaslamp. To get in you have to text a number to make reservation. Luckily, they were able to squeeze the eight of us in last-minute. After you walk through the secret entrance, you’ll find an intimate bar where they specialize in craft cocktails. I didn’t know what I wanted, so I told the bartender I liked wine. He made a delicious drink with fortified wine and strawberries. It was exactly what I wanted without even knowing.
  • Taste and Thirst. This restaurant is divided into a bar and an eating area (hence taste AND thirst). When we stopped by, they were offering a 4th of July special, which was half off of all drinks. We are always down for a cheap drink! It’s a casual atmosphere with a tasty menu – hello, truffle fries!
  • Shiku sushi. Located in the heart of La Jolla, this tasty sushi restaurant has fresh seafood and unique rolls – we loved the soft shell crab. It was the perfect post-kayaking lunch.
  • South Beach Bar & Grille. Great food and great deals! We enjoyed the Taco Tuesday specials – all tacos were $2.75 and much larger than I expected for that price. Great surfside dining!

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Do you have any suggestions on where to eat next time? Let me know :)

 

Basil Quinoa with Red Bell Pepper

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I promise I don’t live off of cookies and cupcakes although it might seem that way from my blog posts. More often than not, I try to cook healthy meals. There were a few ingredients in our fridge that I wanted to use up, so I decided to make a healthy side for dinner with red bell peppers, basil and quinoa. It makes about four servings and paired perfectly with our tilapia and broccoli.

Basil Quinoa with Red Bell Pepper

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine cold water and ice cubes to make an ice bath. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add basil to boiling water, stirring once and then draining immediately. Quickly place basil in ice bath to cool. Remove and gently squeeze out excess water.
  2. Place basil, cheese, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a food processor. Cover and process until nearly smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together warm, cooked quinoa and bell pepper. Add basil mixture and stir until coated. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

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Rise and shine! Continue your celebratory 4th of July weekend with some tart, yet sweet treats. These tasty pancakes are made with whole wheat flour and cornmeal, giving them a heartier texture. Sprinkle blueberries and raspberries on top to keep with the red, white and blue spirit!

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk and cornmeal together. Cut butter into four chunks, then add to mixture. Cover and microwave for about 15 seconds, until butter is melted. Stir to fully incorporate and then microwave for another minute, until slightly thickened around the edges. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat eggs and remaining 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Whisk into cornmeal mixture, then add to flour mixture and whisk until combined. Stir in poppy seeds, lemon zest and lemon juice. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Evenly coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-low. Using a 1/4 cup scoop, pour batter into pan and cook until edges are set and bubbles begin to form on top, about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is golden brown, about 1 more minute. Repeat with remaining batter and serve warm with syrup or fruit.

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Farm Fresh Caprese Salad

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One thing I miss about living in Washington is the variety of farms and fresh produce. There’s nothing better than a juicy Honeycrisp apple straight from the orchard in the fall. I was excited (and surprised) to hear about a farm here in Las Vegas where you can pick fruits and vegetables right from the source.

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Gilcrease Orchard offers a nice break from the brown, dry desert. It was fun to walk through the fields and orchard, looking for the freshest produce. We went home with some beautiful tomatoes. I will definitely be back in the fall when there are pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts!

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We decided to put the fresh tomatoes to good use and make a refreshing caprese salad. Since we had one tomato left from the grocery store, I used that, too. The difference between the tomatoes from the store and the farm was amazing! Physically, those from the farm were darker in color, juicier, softer and had more seeds. The store-bought tomato was easier to slice because it was firmer, but when it came to taste, it was kind of plain and watery. Lesson learned – farm fresh is much more flavorful! Even Rob, who is happy with non-organic produce from Walmart, was genuinely shocked at the difference. Because this salad is so simple, top-quality tomatoes and mozzarella are important and very noticeable.

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Farm Fresh Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

On a large platter, evenly space out tomato slices. Top with mozzarella sliced and then basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and/or pepper.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It’s hard to beat a classic chocolate chip cookie, but I decided to sprinkle on some sea salt to create that salty, sweet flavor and it was a hit. I made them for a pool party that we went to this weekend and I was happy to take home an empty container – success!

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I have tried numerous recipes on my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but my mom suggested that I try this foolproof recipe. The cookies stay thick and fluffy because of the cornstarch, which is exactly what I was going for! Flat, crispy cookies are not my idea of a mouthwatering sweet treat. It’s safe to say that I found my new go-to recipe!

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Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix on medium speed until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Drop a tablespoon of dough onto baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. The tops will not brown, but don’t cook longer than 10-11 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Crisp

sweet potato

Back in college, B4D (breakfast for dinner) was one of my favorite meals served in the sorority and I would always be first in line for the sweet treats. I love when it is acceptable to indulge in dessert-like dishes for dinner. If it were up to me, chocolate chip pancakes would be a supper staple! I decided to channel this B4D mentality because my fiance is on a midnight work schedule, so his breakfast is my dinner. This sweet potato breakfast crisp makes for a delicious start to the morning… or evening. It was very filling, yet relatively healthy – Rob even thought it would be a good pre-hike meal.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Crisp

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and the coconut oil. Add honey, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice, whisking until combined. Add diced sweet potato and toss until fully coated. Place in 16-ounce ramekin or divide between two 10-ounce ramekins.
  3. In the same bowl, add remaining tablespoon of butter and oats. Combine until well-coated and crumbly, then sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft. Test the pieces with a knife before removing from oven. Serve hot.

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Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Oreos

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Oreos + Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough = Cookie Heaven

When it comes to desserts, my favorite flavor combination is chocolate and peanut butter. It’s hard not to like, right? That’s why I thought these chocolate peanut butter cookie dough sandwich cookies would be perfect to make for a little dinner party at our house. A meal isn’t complete without some sweet treats!

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The recipe is surprisingly simple. It uses ingredients that I already had in my kitchen and wasn’t too time consuming. I like to “test” the dough as I bake. Let’s just say not all of the eggless peanut butter dough made it to the cookies…

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Oreos

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg

For the peanut butter cookie dough filling:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

For the cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars and mix until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and mix on low speed until dough forms.
  4. Take rounded teaspoon of dough and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 8 minutes, until set. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium-high speed until light and creamy. Add sugars and beat until combined. Add the milk and vanilla, beating until fully incorporated. Gradually add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until dough forms. Gently stir in chocolate chips.

To assemble the cookies:

  1. Drop 1 tablespoon of filling onto half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, pressing lightly to create a sandwich.

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Grilled Watermelon and Feta Salad

watermelon

Hello, June! How did you sneak up on us already? I may not be ready for the heat, but I am ready for the barbecues! This grilled watermelon and feta salad is a great addition to any summer cookout. The charred watermelon adds a unique, seasonal twist to the classic combo.

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I used the same ingredients to make two versions of the salad. The stacked salad is a fun, aesthetically-pleasing way to serve it at a backyard barbecue. For a traditional side, the tossed salad can be made in one bowl and easily transported to a party. The cool, refreshing dish is sure to be a hit.

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Grilled Watermelon and Feta Salad: Two Ways

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole feta cheese
  • 1/2 large watermelon, cut into slices 1″ thick
  • 1 avocado
  •  2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and paper to taste
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Place balsamic vinegar in a small sauecpan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until thickened, about five minutes. Let cool.
  2. Lightly drizzle olive oil over watermelon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill quickly, about 30 seconds per side, until slightly charred.
  3. Toss arugula with a teaspoon of olive oil.
  4. For the stacked salad: Cut feta cheese length wise into four smaller squares. Cut watermelon slices into 8 squares that are the same size as the feta. Place one watermelon square on the plate and then top it with the feta square, another watermelon square and a slice of avocado. Sprinkle desired amount of arugula on top of watermelon stack and drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar.
  5. For the tossed salad: Place 1 cup of arugula on a plate. Cut cheese, watermelon and avocado into bite-sized squares, then add to arugula and toss. Drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar.

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Coconut Macaroons with Nutella

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Happy Easter! I hope everyone is enjoying some quality family time, egg hunts and sweet treats! If you’re looking for a last-minute dessert, these macaroons are a quick, delicious cookie that everyone will love – even those who don’t love coconut.

Coconut Macaroons with Nutella

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 5 cups coconut
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • Cadbury milk chocolate eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Combine flour, coconut, salt, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in large bowl, until dough forms. Drop by spoonful onto prepared cookie sheet. Use your thumb or a spoon to make an indentation in the center to form a nest shape. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  3. When completely cooled, fill each nest with 1-2 tsp. of Nutella and top with a few eggs.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup

cookie

Sometimes you just need a good ol’ chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. If you don’t have the time or energy to whip up an entire batch this “cookie in a cup” recipe is the perfect quick fix. You still get the warm, chewy cookie and melted chocolate chips without the mess. The sweet treat will definitely satisfy a cookie craving. Make sure to have a glass of milk close by!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 3 drops of vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • slightly less than 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips

How-to:

Combine butter, sugars, vanilla and salt in microwavable mug or cup. Add egg yolk and stir until combined. Mix in flour, stirring until dough forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips and then sprinkle some on top. Microwave for 40-55 seconds, until almost set. It will continue cooking once it is out of the microwave, so no need to over do it.