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HungryLittleGirl

Today is the reveal day for the Surprise Recipe Swap. Each month, Jutta from Hungry Little Girl, assigns a blog to each participant. We are to choose a recipe from their blog and then we all post on the same day! This month, I was given Carol, from No Reason Needed.

While Carol has a great deal of tempting recipes on her blog (like this one, this one, and this one), I decided on her Toffee Bits Triangles. However, I changed the name on mine to blondies, as I just cut mine into bars! These were very good and so quick to put together!

Toffee Blondies

Toffee Blondies
Recipe by No Reason Needed via The Orchard

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 package Heath toffee bits, divided
1 package mini chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add in the vanilla extract and egg. Stir in the salt and flour. Add in 1/2 cup of the toffee bits and 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips into the batter and stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake in a preheated oven for 24-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle on the remaining chocolate chips. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes, or until all the chips look shiny, then using a spoon or spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining toffee bits. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

Toffee Blondies
Made with love, not calories!
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HungryLittleGirl
It’s time for another Surprise Recipe Swap!

Every month, Jutta, from Hungry Little Girl, matches participants with another blogger. We choose a recipe we want to make, or re-create, and then we all post on the same day!

This month, I was given Nancy’s blog: On the Home Front. Nancy’s blog is full of information, from saving money tips, to gardening tid-bits, and of course, recipes! I chose to make her Overnight Coffee Cake.

While the recipe is geared towards making the batter ahead of time, you can also make and bake it right away. That is what I did, and it came out wonderful. I made very small changes: I didn’t use nuts, but added a handful of chocolate chips to half of the coffee cake, and I increased the salt and cinnamon. This is a wonderful recipe to have tucked away, both for that lazy weekend morning (make and bake) but also for that busy, run-around, “family is coming” brunch (make ahead)!

Overnight Coffee Cake

Overnight Coffee Cake

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
11 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs

Topping Mixture:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

To make and bake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the coffee cake dry ingredients. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. To make the topping, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until combined. Sprinkle evenly on top of the batter. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

*Nancy’s information for making this ahead of time, is to cover the pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then refrigerate for 8-12 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the covering and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Overnight Coffee Cake

Made with love, not calories!

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I’m at it again! Changing up my grandmother’s recipe for snickerdoodles (original, Biscoff filled, and chocolate chip)!

This time, I added lime zest and coconut!

Lime and coconut are the 2 ingredients for this months Behind the Curtain challenge. Each month participants are assigned 2 ingredients that we must use in a dessert. I don’t recall making anything with lime and coconut together, so this was a new flavor combination for me! I thought the flavors would go well in a snickerdoodle, so I zested a few limes and added some desiccated coconut. The lime zest gives the cookies a nice bright flavor, while the coconut adds a chewy texture to a crunchy cookie.

Lime Coconut Snickerdoodles

One Year Ago: Butterscotch Brownies

Lime Coconut Snickerdoodles

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of 3 limes
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut, divided
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted

Make lime sugar:
Combine sugar and lime zest in a food processor. Process until well combined (about a minute). Put 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture into a small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and the remaining lime-sugar. Add in the eggs and stir until well combined. Stir in the cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add in 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, then stir in the flour. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a medium ice cream scoop, scoop the dough then roll only the tops and sides in the lime-sugar mixture. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten the tops slightly with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle a little desiccated coconut onto the tops of each cookie. Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, move the cookies onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Lime Coconut Snickerdoodles

Made with love, not calories!

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The end of the month means that it’s time for another Daring Bakers’ challenge!

This month, Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenges us to make a traditional Savarin, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! We were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, allowing us to come up with some very delicious cakes!

I stayed pretty simple with the soaking syrup and the filling. I really wanted to use up items that I already had, and even though I had a lot of ideas, I kept it simple and easy. For the soaking syrup, I made a honey syrup with equal parts honey, sugar, and water. For the filling, I used an already-made whipped topping and then covered that with fresh strawberries. The texture of the Savarin is different, but I don’t mean that in a negative way! It is like a cross between a bread and a cake. The recipe is a little time-consuming, so this isn’t something that you can just whip together. That said, it would be a wonderful addition for a Mother’s Day brunch.

Savarin

Natalia provided us with the Savarin recipe, along with detailed instructions and photographs. My honey soaking syrup was 1 cup each of honey, sugar, and water. I put the 3 ingredients into a saucepan, brought it to a boil, then let it boil for 5 minutes. I kept it warm until I was ready to soak the Savarin. Later, when the Savarin was ready to serve, I filled the center hole with whipped topping and fresh strawberries.

Savarin

Made with love, not calories!

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It’s time for another Surprise Recipe Swap! What is that, you ask? Each month participants are assigned another blog to choose a recipe from. It’s a secret, so we can’t say ahead of time which blog we have been assigned. Then, everyone posts their chosen recipes on the same day! Jutta, from Hungry Little Girl does a wonderful job with heading up this adventurous group…Thanks Jutta!

This month, I was assigned Anne’s blog: Domesblissity. Anne has a fun blog full of recipes (like this 3 minute microwave chocolate slice), crafts (like these cute stuffed bat toys), tips on reusing/recycling items, and detailed informative posts (like: 16 ways to use quinoa). I chose to make her Beef and Eggplant Lasagna. I am trying to eat more vegetables and this looked like a great way to do so. Also, I always make lasagna with ricotta cheese, so using a bechamel sauce was a little different- but delicious! I made some small changes to the recipe by using gluten-free noodles (which I had to cook ahead of time- Anne’s recipe calls for instant lasagna noodles). I also used cornstarch instead of flour in the bechamel sauce. The changes were equal changes, meaning, I didn’t have to adjust the quantities from the original recipe. So, if you are not concerned with gluten-free*, use the instant lasagna noodles that Anne’s recipe calls for, and use flour in the bechamel.

Beef and Eggplant Lasagna

Beef and Eggplant Lasagna
Lasagna recipe lightly adapted from Domesblissity
Bechamel recipe adapted from Food Network

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 medium-sized eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups grated mozzarella, divided
Gluten-free lasagna noodles (I used Tinkyada noodles)
Olive oil

Bechamel sauce:
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until the onions are softened. Add in the ground beef and brown, then add in the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Lower the heat to medium-low and add in the basil, oregano, diced tomatoes, beef stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the eggplant slices into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Using your hands, turn the slices around until they all have a light coating of oil on them (the centers may still look dry- that’s ok). Place the slices evenly onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.

In a large stockpot, cook the lasagna noodles (if you aren’t using instant lasagna noodles) according to the directions.

Make the bechamel sauce:
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the cornstarch. Continue whisking for 2 minutes. Slowly add in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid any lumps. Once all the milk has been added, bring to a boil, then boil for 10 minutes, all while whisking continuously. Remove from the heat and add in the salt and nutmeg.

To assemble the lasagna:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add 1/4 of the meat sauce to the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Top with with 1/3rd of the pasta and eggplant, and 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the meat sauce. Top with the bechamel sauce. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Return the lasagna to the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 8-10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer: I am not gluten-free, as you can tell by the dessert recipes that I post. However, I do find that I feel better if I reduce the amount of gluten that I eat. So I have started experimenting with some gluten-free noodles for our meals. If you are interested in gluten-free or grain-free recipes, please let me know and I can give you a list of blogs that have wonderful recipes!

Beef and Eggplant Lasagna

Made with love, not calories!

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Eggs and bacon were the 2 ingredients for this months Improv Challenge.

I wanted to do something savory for this challenge, so I made a turkey meatloaf and covered it with slices of bacon. However, while I liked the taste of the meatloaf, it really didn’t impress me. Also, Nick doesn’t care for meatloaf, so I knew I wouldn’t end up posting the recipe.

For my second attempt, I turned to making something sweet. Why I didn’t go this route in the first place- who knows! Now, while I was “eh” about the meatloaf, I was really happy with the blondies. The white chocolate chips give a little touch of sweetness that balances nicely with the saltiness of the bacon. And, since they contain bacon and eggs, I’d say that they would make for a wonderful breakfast treat!!

Brown Sugar and Bacon Blondies

Brown Sugar and Bacon Blondies
Makes 1- 8×8 inch pan

3 pieces bacon (I used medium cut)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons bacon grease
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a paper towel. Pour the bacon grease through a fine mesh sieve, that has been lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth and placed over a bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the filtered bacon grease. Finely chop the bacon once it has cooled. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the melted butter, bacon grease, and brown sugar. Mix well. Stir in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Add in the salt and baking powder. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add in the white chocolate chips and all but 1 tablespoon of the chopped bacon. Stir until everything is combined. Spread the dough evenly into an 8 x 8 inch baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil, and sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the dough. Bake in a preheated oven for 26-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar and Bacon Blondies

Made with love, not calories!



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Biscoff Cashew Cookies

My love for Biscoff continues! I’ve made trufflesmagic cookie bars, and I put it inside snickerdoodles!

And now?

I made my own Biscoff chips!

That’s right! Chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, and even lemon chips….move over, there is a new chip in town!

Ok, all dorkiness aside, I made Biscoff chips and put them in cookie dough. And then I added salted cashews. These are good cookies!

Biscoff Cashew Cookies

One Year Ago: Almond Crisps Drizzled with Chocolate

Biscoff Cashew Cookies
Biscoff chips recipe adapted from Ivory Hut

Biscoff Chips:
3/4 cup creamy Biscoff Spread
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chopped salted cashews
1 batch Biscoff chips

375 degrees. 11-12 minutes

To make the Biscoff chips:
In a small microwave-safe bowl, place the Biscoff and butter. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, or until the butter has melted. Stir until the mixture is well combined. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Place the Biscoff mixture into a piping bag and cut off a small piece at the tip of the piping bag. Pipe small chips until you have covered the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet into the freezer for at least 2 hours.*

To make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract. Add in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the flour and mix until just combined. Carefully stir in the cashews and the frozen Biscoff chips. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving 3 inches between each cookie. Bake in a preheated oven for 11-12 minutes, or until the cookies are set and the edges are golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, move the cookies onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Note: If you wish to make chips, you may need to let the mixture cool enough to pipe and hold a shape. If you aren’t concerned with having “chips”, you could always evenly spread the Biscoff mixture onto the wax paper then once it’s frozen, cut it into small pieces.

Biscoff Cashew Cookies

Biscoff Cashew Cookies

Made with love, not calories!

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