Wednesday, July 31, 2013

fudge brownie ice cream cupcakes

If there's one thing that I can't resist off of the dessert menu when dining out, it's a hot fudge brownie sundae.

Actually, I'm not really sure that statement is true, as I'm always able to find something to order on the dessert menu, but what I'm getting at is that I really love hot fudge brownie sundaes. Of course, I enjoy both ice cream and brownies well on their own, but when they compliment each other so perfectly, why not always enjoy the two together?

Ice cream cupcakes isn't a novel idea. I've heard about them for a while now and made mental notes to create my own homemade version, but it became one of those recipes that gets forgotten about. Sometimes I find myself rummaging through my pinterest boards in search of a new recipe, but I'm so overwhelmed by the volume of recipes I've accumulated that I just go bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Or maybe it's because I've become so hungry that I can't take the time to learn a new recipe. Hm.

In any case, after finally whipping together these decadent ice cream treats, I'm telling you that this recipe is not one to be missed! Oh my lord, these are so good. You have know idea what it was like photographing these cups of heavenly brownie ice cream bliss. They melt quickly so keep that in mind when deciding how/where to serve these. I believe that I had...five after ending the photo session. I couldn't control myself! My taste testers had little resolve to only eat one also, so I felt mildly better about my gluttony.

These are the perfect summer treat and I can't wait to try more flavor combinations. I think Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream would be a splendid version. Mmm, so many possibilities!

Fudge Brownie Ice Cream Cupcakes

1 box of brownie mix, plus ingredients listed on the back of the box
1 gallon of vanilla ice cream
1 tub of whipped topping (I used Cool Whip)
chocolate syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with liners or lightly grease with cooking spray. Prepare brownie batter as directed on the back of the box. Spoon two tablespoons of batter into muffin cups. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until batter is just set. Remove and let cool completely.

2. While cupcakes are cooling, let ice cream soften on the counter. Once cupcakes are cooled, add a scoop of ice cream to each cupcake and even spread with a spoon. Place cupcakes in freezer for a few hours.

3. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and quickly add whipped topping to cupcakes. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and/or garnish with sprinkles.


Source: How Sweet It is
Linked at: Time to SparkleTuesday Talent ShowWhat's Cookin' WednesdayYour Creative Timeout

Monday, July 29, 2013

oreo cheesecake

Did you all know that tomorrow is National Cheesecake Day? Most likely not, so I'm happy to inform you of this occasion. I only relay the important information.

When I first heard about this holiday, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to break in my springform pan. I'm not sure if it was received as a wedding gift, or if I used a wedding gift card to purchase it, but this pan has been sitting in my cabinet taunting me for ages. It was definitely time that I truly embrace my housewife status and churn out a cheesecake, so that's precisely what I did on Friday night, as seen on instagram

We had to leave early on Saturday for a wedding in Philly, so I was unable to photograph this beauty until yesterday. Unfortunately, it was just a bad day for photography. All of the elements were against me. Bad lighting, low camera battery, poor camera cooperation with focusing, I was hungry. Very frustrating. These photos are definitely not to my satisfaction, but this cheesecake was too delicious not to share. I tried to replicate Cheesecake Factory's presentation by adding a whipped frosting and oreo garnish. I think it adds a little pizazz. 

A thick oreo crust serves as the base for a thick creamy cheesecake filling with pieces of oreo chunks enjoyed in each bite. This dessert is so decadent, but worth every calorie, if you're concerned about that sort of thing. The recipe couldn't be an easier either, so no excuses! Bust out your spring form pan and bake yourself a cheesecake. If you don't have this kind of pan, then an 8x8 baking pan or even a 9x13 pan will suffice. Happy National Cheesecake Day!

Oreo Cheesecake

For the crust:
24 oreos
3 tbsp butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature (3 packages)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
15 oreos (I used double stuff), chopped into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Place oreos in a large ziploc bag and crush oreos into fine crumbs by rolling a rolling pin over the bag (or use a food processor). Pour melted butter into bag and evenly distributed. Press oreo mixture firmly onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan. Bake crust for ten minutes then remove from oven
3. While the crust is baking, prepare the cream cheese filling. In bowl of standing mixer, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. Add sour cream mix until combined. Gently fold in oreo pieces. Pour onto prepared crust and smooth with a spatula in an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes or until center is almost set (giggles slightly) Allow cheesecake to cool on cooling rack, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving


Friday, July 26, 2013

friday favorites

Hello, hello. This week was an odd one. It felt slow and quick at the same time. The majority of my department was in systems training all week so there was a quiet vibe in the office and the week just felt off. Not to mention the bizarre but delightful weather that blew in yesterday. No humidity, no steamy air. Just a cool clean breeze. I'm quite ready to say goodbye to summer, but not before my trip to Cape Cod next month!

Not much on the agenda this weekend, so on to my favorite finds from this week!

Favorite indulgence: Chocolate Chip Stuffed Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream. I've visited a considerable amount of ice creameries in my 26 years of life and no one has ever offered this incredible ice cream flavor. Now that I've tackled making homemade ice cream, I'lll attempt to bake cinnamon rolls with the sole purpose of churning them in ice cream. Hm, maybe I'll start out with Pillsbury rolls to expedite getting this treat into my mouth.

Favorite look: Turquoise and Purple. My family and friends know that I'm obsessed with Kelly Ripa. I've been watching her for the last 12 years since she joined Live With Regis and Kelly. She can do no wrong in my eyes and this outfit is no exception. She looks phenomenal every day, but this look she wore on Wednesday caught my attention because I love the color combination. The colors don't translate as well when captured by my iphone camera, but I think it's a lovely color scheme. The beaded necklace is a cute accent piece as well. 


Favorite meal: Kale and Ricotta Pasta. I confess that I've never had kale. It's such a trendy veggie now, so I'm surprised that I still haven't attempted incorporating it into one of our dinners or at the least ordering it off of the menu. I think that this is a good starter meal to introduce kale into my life. Creamy pasta? Yes, please.

Favorite decor: Floor to Ceiling Glass Windows. I've loved floor to ceiling windows since seeing them for the first time in my wedding hotel suite. I'm not sure how well they work in a traditional home, but should I ever be able to purchase a home on the lake such as this, then I will request this feature.

Favorite Grill: Grilled Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Avocado Feta Sandwich. The avocado kick continues. I actually have been making myself a lunch similar to this one this week. Amazing flavor combinations happening between two pieces of grilled bread. 

Favorite pup: Cuddle Pup. What a face. Dogs are such natural cuddlers and I wish I had one to nuzzle up against me on the couch right now.

Favorite sweet: Mississippi Mud Brownies. Have you ever heard of these decadent treats? I've seen recipes for this in cake form, but brownies seem more up my alley because the richer the better. Chewy brownies are topped with marshmallows then a fudge frosting and sprinkled with pecans. I don't know if I could stop myself from devouring the entire pan. No, I know that I couldn't.

Favorite read: Martha Stewart's Best Advice. This read is a little lengthy, but it's a really interesting, funny and smart analysis of her career.

Favorite Photo: Three Peas in a Royal Pod. As mentioned in my post about No Bake Reese's Peanut Butter Bars, I followed along during the Royal Baby Watch. I hope you watched the video footage of them first leaving the hospital with their little peanut.They were so cute and endearing and I just love them. George though? Ugh, not pleased about that one.

Favorite Bite: Blue Cheese Lobster Beignets with Spicy Avocado Cream Garden Veggie Sauce. Whew, that is a mouthful, but I love every word of it! This concept comes from an amazing blogger who is only 19. How can someone so young create something as sophisticated and delicious as these divine morsels is beyond me. I'll never be excited over regular seafood appetizers again. Shrimp cocktail? Meh.

Favorite Funny: Stephen Colbert Mocks Royal Baby Coverage. Speaking of the royal baby, Stephen Colbert did a very funny segment on the media coverage. Click the gray hyperlink to watch the video. 

Favorite quote: Live Your Life. So true.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

zucchini bread

My sister came home the other day with the largest zucchini I've ever seen. It was picked from my aunt's garden and hand delivered to me with instructions to bake something with it. I suppose that I could have been more creative when choosing what to make with it, but this seemed like an easy solution for an overgrown vegetable.

I actually don't automatically associate zucchini with savory dishes. I think it's because I was introduced to zucchini in muffin form. My mother used to purchase the most delightful zucchini muffins from my favorite bakery, Publix. They were incredibly moist and sweet and a staple in my diet throughout high school. These muffins would come in packs of four and I recall easily finishing all four within 24 hours. Those were the days. 

I only recently introduced zucchini to my dinner plate after I discovered how delicious it is when it's properly seasoned and sautéed. I still, however, prefer my vegetables sugared and baked to perfection.

This zucchini bread comes from the infamous blog Smitten Kitchen. You can always trust Deb to deliver a delicious recipe. This one is simple and quite tasty. I overbaked mine slightly because I went to the gym while it was in the oven and asked my husband to remove it from the oven once the timer beeped and use his judgment to determine whether it was done (foolish, I know). I recommend pulling your bread out around 50 minutes and using the toothpick test to see if it's ready. Enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease two loaf pans and set aside
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk
Mix in oil, sugar, and zucchini until well combined
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients
Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined
Divide batter into prepared pans
Bake loaves for 1 hour, minus/plus 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean
Let cool completely on cooling rack before serving

*Note: recipe can easily be halved

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Monday, July 22, 2013

no bake reese's peanut butter bars

Did anyone else engage in the Royal Baby Watch? What a bunch of hoopla. The Today Show sent Natalie Morales across the pond 10 days ago to capture every minute leading up to the big push and it's been painful watching her try to fill air time with things to do. Clearly, the media misjudged her due date as Natalie's had nothing to do for about 7 days now. 

But hooray! A little baby prince was born today. I've seen the list of possible baby names and I'm mostly opposed to the name "George." I don't know why, but I'm not a fan of that one. I do like one George Banks (I hope you don't need to look up this reference), but the name is just too formal for my liking. 

Many people argue that the Royal Monarchy is antiquated and irrelevant, but I think it's quite nice. I wish we had a similar system that encouraged celebration and allowed time off from work in honor of a little bebe's birth. Seriously, did you catch the highlights of the British excitement on tonight's news? I'm trying to think of a similar occasion that would elicit such a boisterous commotion here, but I can't come up with one. Maybe my mind is just drawing a blank. Any thoughts?

Moving along to these bars. These bars are good. Really good. Look at those bites of chocolate peanut butter heaven!

These no bake bars are your sweet solution to the insufferable heat wave. I'm sure you could guess that my oven has been on regularly throughout the summer, but I was so pleased to come across this recipe because they don't require heating up the kitchen and they're so simple. Melt some butter, crush up some graham crackers, mix those with peanut butter and powdered sugar, press into a pan, cover with an easy chocolate peanut butter coating. The hardest part is waiting for them to firm up in the refrigerator. These bars could be served at any number of occasions. Cookouts, parties, mid-afternoon snacking are a few ideas. A chocolate peanut butter bite to celebrate the royal baby? Sure, why not?

No Bake Reese's Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 full sheets)
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup+ 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Line an 8x8 pan with aluminum foil and set aside
In a large bowl, mix together butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and peanut butter until combined
Press peanut butter mixture into bottom of your prepared pan
In a small bowl, combine remaining 2 tbsp of peanut butter and chocolate chips and microwave for 45 seconds
Remove bowl from microwave and stir until smooth
Evenly spread chocolate mixture over peanut butter layer
Refrigerate bars for at least two hours before cutting and serving


Source Sally's Baking Addiction
Linked at: Tuesday Talent Show, Time to SparkleWhat's Cookin' WednesdayYour Creative Timeout

Friday, July 19, 2013

friday favorites

Oh my lorrrrd, this week was a hot one! I'm told that a cold front is coming through this weekend, and I am thrilled for its arrival. We played kickball yesterday as a team building activity and it felt like the humidity was suffocating me. I'm not sure that weather in the 80's should be classified as a cold front, but I will gladly take it if I don't have to see 100 degrees on my car dashboard again.

This weekend's plans include one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I'm going to see Taylor Swift. I accept your judgment. Think what you will, but her music is catchy and fun and I can't wait to rock out next to an eight year old. Other than that, we'll just be beatin' the heat!

On to my favorite finds from around the web this week!

Favorite indulgence: Mint Oreo Brownie Ice Cream Cake. I was just saying at work this week how much I love brownie ice cream sundaes. This cake combines some of the best flavors and desserts into the perfect summer indulgence.

Favorite meal: Grilled Maple Dijon Salmon with Bacon. Salmon is one of my favorite fish, so it's quite upsetting that I married a man who doesn't care for it. I'm convinced that he enjoys anything that includes bacon, so I have a feeling that this is a delicious way to put salmon back into our dinner rotation. 

Favorite Look: Summer Comfort. I love how this look is soft and dainty, but the light sweater adds a bit of casual comfort to the outfit.

Favorite DIY: Disney World's Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches. I've only been to Disney World once in the last 10 years, but their dessert is something that I remember very well (shocking). These sandwiches are a homemade version of one of my favorite confectionary creations found only within the gates of Disney. Chocolatey, peanut buttery, graham crackery (?)- perfection. 

Favorite pup: Shopping Pup. I'm not one to condone dressing dogs in clothing, but this dog was born to wear that hat, right?

Favorite funny: Royal Muggles. If you didn't already love these three, then surely this photo sways you.

Favorite bite: Peach Gorgonzola Grilled Pizza. I love seasonal adaptations on classics. This is a wonderful way to incorporate seasonal flavors and take advantage of grilling weather. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar? One bite will not suffice.

Favorite dessert: Strawberry Tuxedo Cake. For someone who really doesn't care for fruit in my dessert, as stated in my post about blueberry crumb bars, I was surprised how much this cake made me swoon. Maybe it's because it's so hot outside, but strawberries and chocolate sound like the most refreshing flavor pairing. I know that this cake is worth the effort. 

Favorite decor: Long Box of Dried Hydrangeas. I think that this is a beautiful simple idea to dress up a plain area of the home. This could work well along a mantle or hall table.

Favorite quote: Don't Worry. This was a bit of an emotional week here, so it's always nice to receive little reminders. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, July 15, 2013

frozen s'mores

I've never been a fan of camping. I suppose that I've never been real camping, but the camping I have experienced was close enough and that's what I'm basing this statement on. Bugs, sleeping on the floor, no modern day comforts. Count me out.

I do, however, love the idea of roasting marshmallows over a campfire. I'll do many things that I don't like in the name of food. No surprise, I'm sure.

One of my favorite summer activities from my childhood was gathering at my neighbor's bonfire pit to make s'mores. It was buggy and hot, but nothing beats the flavor combination of toasted marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker.

I don't think I've enjoyed a s'more since my firefly catching days, so I was very excited when I came across this variation on the traditional s'mores. This is one of the easiest desserts to put together and the outcome is truly delicious. I brought them to a Fourth of July party the other week and they were a hit. 

Basically you cover one side of a graham crack with mini marshmallows then toast the marshmallows under a broiler until lightly browned. You take another graham cracker and sandwich it with the toasted marshmallow covered graham cracker. Then you spread melted chocolate over the top and sides of the marshmallow sandwich and place in the freezer to harden. That's it. So simple and so tasty.

What dessert screams "summer" more than a s'more? These are the perfect summer treat, but I don't doubt I'll find an excuse to make them during the cooler months. My only word of caution is to watch your marshmallows closely under the broiler. I may or may not have caused a fire in my oven during my first attempt at toasting marshmallows. Worth it. Make these.

Frozen S'mores

6 graham crackers
3 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
Mini marshmallows

Preheat your oven broiler and adjust top rack so that it's in the middle of the oven
Line a baking sheet that fits in your freezer with parchment paper
While oven is heating, melt chocolate chips in microwave by heating in 30 second increments and stirring until completely smooth
Place three graham crackers on your baking sheet and top each graham cracker with mini marshmallows (enough to cover entire cracker)
Place baking sheet under broiler and broil marshmallows until toasty brown, about 2-3 minutes*
Immediately place remaining graham crackers on top of toasted marshmallows to make a s'mores sandwich
Spread a thin layer of chocolate on top of each graham cracker and the sides
Place in freeze for at least thirty minutes for chocolate coating to harden
Cut each sandwich into halves or fourths to serve


*Marshmallows easily go from toasted to burned, so watch marshmallows very closely while broiling

Source: Mama Marin Cooks
Linked at: Time to Sparkle, Tuesday Talent ShowWhat's Cookin' WednesdayYour Creative Timeout

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

baked banana doughnuts with vanilla glaze

Does anyone else have multiple gift cards in their wallets? While I appreciate gift cards because they allow my exceptionally indecisive self to choose a practical gift on my own timeline, I’m almost never able to find something that spends the entire amount. I know, me and my problems again. What I’m getting at is that I’m left carrying around gift cards with unknown balances that I eventually forget about. Sound familiar?

I had been toying with the idea of buying a doughnut pan for quite a while when I finally decided that I really needed one. I rummaged through my wallet to see if I had any worthwhile gift cards and luckily, I found an old Crate and Barrel one. I’m sure I could have forfeited the $10 to buy one sans gift card, but now my doughnut pan feels infinitely more special because it’s free. I love free things.

These banana doughnuts were delicious. The vanilla glaze quite didn’t set up with a crackly sugar coating like I expected it to (less liquid next time), but it still added a nice layer of sweetness to the doughnut. The doughnut itself is soft, moist, and very flavorful. The glaze soaked into the doughnuts as they sat in our tupperwear container and I actually preferred them this way. I love food that becomes more flavorful as it ages. My husband loved these doughnuts and he’s not one to give a lot of feedback. So, for my first attempt at baked doughnuts, I’ll deem these a success. I highly suggest you invest in a doughnut pan because your life could use more doughnuts. I'm sure of it.

Banana Baked Doughnuts with Vanilla Glaze

1 cup flour
¼ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ cup buttermilk* 
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tbsp butter, melted

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Lightly grease donut pan
In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients
Mix in buttermilk, banana, egg, vanilla, and butter until just combined
Spoon mixture into pan until wells are about 2/3 full
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden
Allow doughnuts to completely cool before drizzling with glaze
To make glaze, measure powdered sugar into small bowl then stir in milk and vanilla until reaches desired consistency (add more sugar to make it thicker)
Drizzle doughnuts with glaze over a cooling rack so that excess glaze drips off 
Allow glazed doughnuts to sit on cooling rack until glaze has firmed up before serving or storing

*If you don't have buttermilk, you can use add 1 tsp white vinegar to regular milk

Doughnuts source: Rumbly in My Tumbly

Monday, July 8, 2013

blueberry crumb bars

I'm not really a fruity dessert kind of girl. I love fruit, so I'm not sure why I have such an aversion to eating them in dessert, but I'll always pass over a peach cobbler for anything chocolate. I sometimes wonder why restaurants put so many fruit options on their dessert menu instead of more chocolate creations. My mother-in-law always orders key lime pie no matter what rich chocolate selections are offered. It's something that I'll never understand.

When I was trying to decide on how I should use the leftover blueberries from my cheesecake stuffed strawberries, these blueberry crumb bars I had bookmarked a while back immediately came to mind.

I normally associate fruity crumb bars with the holidays because it's the only time of the year that my mom bakes her signature cranberry bars. I always make room on my chocolate-heavy dessert plate for those bars. They're so incredibly rich, buttery, and sweet. Much like these blueberry crumb bars.

These bars have a sweet buttery shortbread crust that is layered with a sugary blueberry filling and shortbread crumbles. Each bite has the perfect ratio of blueberries that are still plump and juicy to those that burst during baking so that their sweet juices softened the crust. These were perfection. I was so satisfied with these bars that I didn't even need chocolate as post-dessert dessert (a common meal in my household).

I know that these seem labor intensive, but they really are so easy to bake. The most challenging part is making the shortbread crust because you have to cut cold butter into a sugared flour mixture; however, you can easily use your hands to assist and your crust comes together very simply. These are a delightful summer treat to use your fresh blueberries, but I wouldn't mind enjoying a bar or three over the holiday season.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup salted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cups fresh blueberries, at room temperature
11/2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Butter an 8x8 baking dish, set aside
In a large bowl, whisk to ether flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest
In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and vanilla
Add egg mixture and cubed butter to flour mixture and use a fork or pastry cutter (or your finger tips) to cut mixture together until it resembles coarse crumbles
Gently press 2/3 of mixture into prepared baking dish

In separate mixing bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cornstarch
Stirn in lemon juice then add blueberries and toss mixture to evenly coat
Pour and spread blueberries evenly over crust
Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over berry layer
Sprinkle 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar evenly over topping
Bake for 38-42 minutes until top is golden brown
Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares*
Store in airtight container for up to 1 week

*Note: I brought my bars to a party, so I was unable to try my preferred serving method, but I'm sure that these would be delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream

Source: Cooking Classy
Linked at: Time to SparkleTuesday Talent ShowWhat's Cookin' Wednesday