Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cookie Dough Brownies with Chocolate Ganache


1 box Ghiradellie Double Chocolate Brownies

One pouch of Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Chocolate Ganache for frosting


Follow the directions on the box for making the brownies and pour into a greased 9 X13 pan.

Next, mix the cookie dough as directed on the pouch and drop by rounded tablespoons into the brownie batter. I pressed the dough down lightly into the brownie batter.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. When they’re done, take them out and let them cool completely.

Top with Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

Chocolate Ganache

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp butter

* In a small saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.
* Pour over the chocolate morsels.
* Stir until smooth.

Pour ganache on top and spread it out evenly. You will want to let the ganache set up before cutting.

Once the ganache has set, then cut the brownies and ENJOY!
PS: If you don't have time to make the ganache, you can frost with Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate Creamy Frosting.

Recipe from: Tidy Mom

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes With Cookie Dough Frosting

Brown Sugar Cupcakes:

* 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (DO NOT melt)
* 3/4 cup light brown sugar
* 2 large eggs, room temperature
* 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 24 pack of pre-made cookie dough (the kind you break apart)
*1 cup milk chocolate chips (for sprinkling)
*1 package of Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
3. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds after each.
5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
6. Measure out milk and vanilla together.
7. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
8. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
9. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
10. Fill liners about 1/2 to 3/4 full depending on how big or small your want your cupcakes.
11. After filling cupcake liners, drop in FROZEN pre-made cookie dough (the kind you break apart).
9. Bake 15-18 minutes until gold brown. (DO NOT overbake!!) I baked mine right at 15 minutes.
10. Let cool before frosting cupcakes

**This recipe for me made about 20 medium sized cupcakes...if you want to stretch your batter, you could only fill them 1/2 full and get 24 small cupcakes and if you wanted a larger cupcake you could fill them 3/4 of the way full and get about 15 large cupcakes.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosting:

3 sticks room temp butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
8 cups powdered sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk

Cream butter/shortening until smooth, approx 3 minutes on medium speed.
Slowly add sugar, once all added, crank up speed on mixer to med- high and whip it up for approx 1 min. Add milk, depending on your liking: stiffer~ less milk, creamier ~ more. If you add too much, no worries, just sift in a little more sugar.

Then Mix In:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • splash of milk
*Top cupcakes with milk chocolate chips and half of a Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie!

**This recipe stated that it would frost 24 cupcakes (piped on) but it was A LOT of icing! You could half it, or do what I did and freeze the remainder for next time!:-)

****Another suggestion for this frosting recipe would be to put it between 2 Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and Serve! Kid Friendly!

***** I recommend eating them pretty soon after baking and frosting to get the "ooey gooey" chocolate chip cookie sensation:-)

Recipe from: Cookies and Cups

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Meal Plan Monday

Here is MY meal plan for the following week. I usually meal plan on Saturday or Sunday evenings when I have time to really sit down and get my stuff together. I DO NOT plan for 7 meals each week. Typically, I plan for 5 or less meals depending on our schedule. The weekends are usually pretty lax around our house, so we just have sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken tenders, or we GO OUT!:-) If something comes up on a weeknight or I just have "one of those days" that I just don't feel like cooking, I will just shift my meals around and I'll come up with a Plan B (I recommend always having a Plan B for at least one weeknight!!).....

Monday: Mesquite BBQ Pork Tenderloin, Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin, Fresh Green Beans

Muffin Monday: Applesauce Muffins

Tuesday: Simple. Perfect.Enchiladas, Cheesy Spanish Rice

Wednesday: Hearty Ground Turkey Chili, Green Chili Cheddar Muffins

Thursday: Sweet Mustard Slow Cooker Roast, Brown Rice, Broccoli

Friday: BBQ Ranch, Chicken, and Cheddar Pizza Roll Ups, Salad

Saturday Breakfast: Perfect Pancakes

Meal Categories That Make Your Planning Easier

There are a few categories that I always use when planning my meals each week. These categories have not only guided me in a direction towards planning a meal and finding recipes, but they have also made my meal planning really easy because it has taken a lot of the "guess" work out of planning. When there is a "list" to choose from, it makes weekly planning a lot simpler and gives you variety in your meals. The categories I choose from are:

  • Crockpot Meals
  • Mexican/Asian Meals
  • Casserole Meals
  • Italian/Pasta Meals
  • Single Meat and a Side Meal (Roast, Pork, Chicken, Fish, ect)
  • Soup/Salad/Sandwich Meal
I also "personally" have a few categories that I incorporate into my weekly meal planning. These are ones that I have adapted based on my families favorite foods preferences.

  • Pizza Friday-We recently have begun with a weekly ritual of having pizza on Fridays. The hubby LOVES his pizza, so we have made it a habit:-) But because pizza delivery can be quite expensive on a weekly basis, we make our own! Occasionally we will switch it up and order a pizza if I have a good coupon, but we enjoy the homemade pizza just as much!
  • Muffin Monday-Making muffins on Monday have become a habit for us as well because they are an easy "go to" breakfast meal in the mornings. The hubby has recently lost a lot of weight and muffins are a good low-fast breakfast he enjoys! He is usually "on the go" in the mornings, so I try to have something ready for him to grab and go! I just make up a batch on Mondays and they last through the week!
  • Friday/Saturday Morning Breakfast-Since the hubby is off most Fridays and Saturdays it's always a nice treat to plan a breakfast for one of those days. Its a fun time for us to hang out in the kitchen as a family and cook and then enjoy breakfast together since the weekdays are so busy in the mornings.
  • Weekly Dessert-If you know me, you know I LOVE to bake! I am ALWAYS looking for new and exciting dessert recipes and of course when I find them, I HAVE to make them:-) I seriously can hear the recipes calling my name:-) But since I have to keep the "figure" in mind, I usually only try to make one new dessert each week. Now, don't get me wrong, I eat other "treats' during the week, I just try and stick to baking only one new dessert each week.
I hope these categories help you in your journey with meal planning and I hope they make the planning as simple as they have made it for me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meal Planning Essentials

When meal planning, I have found there are several ESSENTIALS that you must have to make the process easier:

1. A Goal:
When beginning to meal plan you have to be realistic. Sitting down and trying to plan meals for the entire MONTH can be challenging and overwhelming. I would recommend starting with ONE WEEK. Once you are comfortable with that move on to planning out TWO WEEKS in a row, and then if your feeling ambitious plan the WHOLE MONTH! Honestly, I still don't plan out the entire month. I plan out for TWO WEEKS and if I find other recipes I want to try later on in the month, I bookmark (save) them for later planning.

2. A calendar:

One of the most helpful things for me is having my monthly AGENDA CALENDAR in front of me AND a monthly MEAL CALENDAR when planning my meals. That way you can know what days you need to plan meals, what days you don't, what days you need a "quick" meal, and then the days that you have time to cook a more "detailed" dinner based on what events you have going on that week. I personally use ONE Google calendar which has all my agenda calendar dates in it, and I just add my meals in there so I can keep it all together in ONE place. But there are MANY options. You can even go as simple as printing off a blank monthly calendar from the Internet and filling in the dates/meals. Do what works for YOU!

3. A Grocery List:

This is a MUST! If you have ever tried to go grocery shopping blind (without a list), you know how frustrating that can be. Roaming the isles trying to make up meals in your head as you go, and hoping you make it out with all the ingredients that you need so you don't have to run back to the store last minute....BEEN THERE....HATED IT......WON'T GO BACK.....I recommend having your list on hand as you are meal planning. When you find recipes you want to use, right down the items that need to be purchased for that particular meal. I always keep a running grocery list on my refrigerator so it's handy when I need to add to it. There is nothing more stressful than come "grocery shopping day" rummaging through your refrigerator, your pantry, OR your recipes trying to decide what you need or simply trying to use your "memory" while at the store. Without my list I would be LOST...

4. Recipes:
This is the most important part of your meal planning: What's for dinner?!?!? Finding the perfect recipe is not always easy and trying to decide what to cook can be stressful. I LOVE to cook so I enjoy searching for new recipes to try. I recommend keeping a running list of meals that you cook (and like) so you can use them again. If you are new to meal planning, I recommend that you only attempt 1-2 "new" recipes during the week and stick to "familiar" recipes the rest of the week. Having "staple" meals during the week is also a good idea. Meals such as: tacos, spaghetti, hamburgers, ect for fillers is what I consider a staple meal. Once you get the hang of meal planning and recipe hunting you will feel more comfortable with adding new and different items to the menu more often during the week. **My most used recipes sources to come in a future post**

5. Recipe filing system:
Having a place to store you recipes is a great idea! I am ALWAYS looking up new recipes outside of meal planning days, so I prefer to bookmark mine on my computer so it's handy when I am ready to meal plan. Then when I sit down to meal plan, I also copy and paste the link onto my meal plan Google calendar so I can pull it up easy when I'm ready to make that meal. Another simple idea is just to print out your recipe and store in a convenient location. And if you decide the recipe you have chosen is a "keeper" then either save it in a file on your computer or print and store it in recipe file. I have a folder on my desktop labeled "recipes" and that is where I store all my favorites I know I will want to make again! I also reccomend keeping your previous months meal calendars so when your in a crunch and need some meal ideas fast, you have a good source to pull from. I always **star** the recipes on my calendar that were a "family favorite".

6. A Day To Plan/A Day To Shop:
Having a set day to plan your meals and shop for your food is a good way to stay consistent. When you sit down to plan, you will need TIME. Time to search for recipes, time to make your grocery list, time to fill in your calendar ect. You will also need TIME to shop. Running in the store with your kids at 2:00 in the afternoon (AKA: nap time) with your weekly grocery list is probably not a good idea:-) Plan a time to shop that works best with EVERYBODY'S schedule. I prefer shopping at night, WITH NO KIDS:-) And I NEVER EVER shop on a SATURDAY (can't handle the crowds). Coordinating your meal planning day with your shopping day is what I have found to work best. Plan your meals one day, and then shop the next. That way you are saving yourself from the last minute trips to the grocery store.

***Even though I plan my meals out 2 weeks at a time, I usually only shop for what I need for that SPECIFIC week. When making my grocery list I have a running list for that weeks shopping trip and then I have a column labeled "next week". My reasoning for this is that there are usually items that I need to purchase weekly such as fresh fruits and veggies, I also shop with coupons (which come new every Sunday if you get the newspaper), and each week the local stores have different specials, so I want to make sure I get the most for my money. I also have found when I have tried to shop only every other week, I tend to OVER BUY and we don't have much "food storage" space and I end up spending more money, which for us in NOT budget friendly:-). So going to the grocery store every other week does not work for me. But if it does for you ROCK ON!!!

With these tools in hand, you are sure to be meal planning in no time!! Next post: Meal Categories That Help Make Your Planning Easier.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Meal Planning

It's 4:30 in the afternoon........

About an hour before dinner........

The hubby (aka "daddy") will be calling soon to let you know he is on his way home......while finishing the conversation, he asks "what's for dinner??"

The kids are starting to chant "Mommy, I'm hungry"......

Do you know what's for dinner?? Do you have a plan??
Are you stressed because you have to figure out something to throw together at the last minute??

I have had quite a few people over the last couple of months ask me about meal planning. How I do it? What I serve? Where do I get my meal ideas? Any tips or ideas I have in relation to meal planning, I thought I would share MY strategies. Obviously, you have to create a meal planning strategy that works best for YOU and YOUR family's weekly schedule,so these are just the ways I have found it easiest for me. These are the strategies I have found *help* save what little bit of sanity I have left come the end of the day:-)

If you don't currently meal plan and your one of those that finds yourself at 5:00 rambling through the pantry looking for something to throw together, I would encourage you to start meal planning! TODAY!!! In the end it will save you TONS of MONEY and TIME! And who doesn't need more of both of those!:-)

TO BE CONTINUED.................

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Apple Dumplings

Recipe from: The Pioneer Woman

(Full Recipe)

• 2 whole Granny Smith Apples
• 2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
• 2 sticks Butter
• 1 1/2 cup Sugar
• 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
• Cinnamon, To Taste
• 1 can (12 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda

Preparation Instructions:
Cut each apple into 8 slices each. (I use the apple slicer to slice apples and then take the peel off with a knife). Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered glass dish.
Melt butter, then add sugar and stir until combined. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the dish. Sprinkle dumplings with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow them to cool about 10-15 min. Serve with vanilla ice cream!

(Half Recipe)

• 1 whole Granny Smith Apple
• 1 cans(8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
• 1 sticks Butter
• 3/4 cup Sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
• Cinnamon, To Taste
• 1/2 can (6 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda

Preparation Instructions:
Cut each apple into 8 slices each. (I use the apple slicer to slice the apple and then take the peel off with a knife). Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 8X8 buttered glass dish.
Melt butter, then add sugar and stir until combined. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the dish. Sprinkle dumplings with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow them to cool about 10-15 min. Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Turtle Tart

Recipe from: Betty Crocker
Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
1 cup chopped pecans

40 caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 bag (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1.Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, water and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in 1 cup pecans. Press dough in bottom and up sides of ungreased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
2.Bake 19 to 21 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes.
3.Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, microwave caramels and 1/3 cup cream on High 2 to 4 minutes, stirring twice, until caramels are melted. Stir in 3/4 cup pecans. Spread over cooled crust. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
4.In another medium microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and 1/3 cup cream on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Pour over filling. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans. Refrigerate 2 hours or until set. To serve, let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before cutting.

This tart was delicious, BUT it was only REALLY GOOD when not refrigerated. The original recipe stated to store in refrigerator, but that made it VERY hard. Once it " initially sets up", remove from fridge and allow it to come to room temp before serving, and KEEP at room temp!

**If you don't have a tart pan, you can use a springform pan OR just a 9X13 dish and make them into bars.