Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oreo Peanut Butter Brownies

Can you believe it's the last day of 2011? This year certainly had its ups and downs in our household. I am ready to move on to a fresh start with a new year. I am looking forward to celebrating New Year's Eve with good friends and good food tonight. I hope you kick off 2012 right!

Before all of those healthier eating resolutions kick in, I had to share this delicious recipe. My sister-in-law has recently started a blog, Sunday Dinner and then Some. After reading about these treats on her blog, hearing her talk about them, and seeing numerous Facebook friends make them, I caved. These were the dessert at back to back dinner parties we attended. Everyone loved them. A great go-to recipe for a last minute dessert since we usually have most of these ingredients on hand, except for Oreos. Those are not welcome in the house unless we have a use for them!

You will need:
*24 Oreo cookies (this is the one time double stuff will not work! They'll be too big)

*smooth peanut butter

*brownie mix and all the ingredients the box calls for

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin pan.

2. Spread peanut butter on top of an Oreo, press an Oreo on top, and spread more peanut butter on the top of the two Oreos stacked together. Place into the muffin tin. Repeat until you have a peanut butter Oreo stack in each muffin well.

3. Make your boxed brownie mix.

4. Spoon the prepared brownie mix into the muffin wells. Be sure to cover the cookie stacks and get down and around them. This should require about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each Oreo stack. (I ended up making a few more because I had leftover batter and a second muffin tin!)

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to baking racks to cool completely. You can also eat them warm. I highly recommend that!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Squash Macaroni and Cheese

This is another successful recipe from Cooking Light magazine. I tagged it in my September issue but kind of forgot about it until I spotted it on Prevention RD. The squash purèed and mixed with the cheeses makes this mac and cheese taste like it is terrible for you. Isn't that what you want in a bowl of mac and cheese?! This would be a great way to sneak a veggie serving to kids or other picky eaters. You can certainly taste the squash though, so I am not sure it would work for someone that despises butternut squash. (I find it hard to believe that such people exist!) I made this awhile back and am adding it to our menu again next week. I highly recommend you make this soon. I'd say it is one of the best new recipes we tried in 2011.

You will need:
*3 cups butternut squash (about 1 pound), cubed and peeled
*1 1/4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
*1 1/2 cups skim milk
*2 garlic cloves
*1 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
*1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
*1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
*1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
*1 pound uncooked pasta (I used one 13.25 oz. box of whole wheat rotini)
*2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium for about 25 minutes until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt, drain well.

4. Carefully, place the hot squash mixture in a blender. (I am lazy with blending recipes and always use my immersion blender!) Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. If you use a blender, remove the top's center to allow heat to escape. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid to help prevent splattering. Blend until smooth.

4. Place blended mixture in a bowl. Stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano until combined. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Sprinkle with parsley if desired, and serve immediately.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Here is the hot chocolate on a stick recipe that used the homemade marshmallows. This can be swirled into warm milk to make a creamy hot chocolate, or it can be enjoyed directly off the stick as a piece of fudge topped with marshmallow. This recipe has been all over blogs, but I followed the steps on The Dainty Chef. If you are still in need of a gift idea, give these hot chocolate sticks a try. They take awhile in how long everything needs to set, but they are not complicated to make. I'm excited to gift these to coworkers, friends, and family. In addition to these, this year's baked gifts included some gingerbread granola, oreo truffles, gingerbread biscotti, cinnamon sugar muffins, and the usual pretzel treats. I tried a number of new recipes while I was off this week. Some were successes and others were not. I am planning on baking a bit more these last few days before the holiday so hopefully I'll be back with more to share.

You will need:
*1/2 cup heavy cream
*14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
*3 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (can be chopped or chips)
*4-oz bar unsweetened chocolate (I blanked on using this the first batch and it was fine without)
*marshmallows, can use store bought to save time
*lollipop sticks
*cellophane bags

1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Heat the cream and sweetened condensed milk over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it starts steaming. Remove pan from heat and stir in the chocolates. Let sit for 10 minutes.

3. After ten minutes, put the chocolate mixture back on medium-low heat and stir with a whisk until chocolate is completely melted. (This did not take too long) Pour the chocolate mixture into prepared pan and spread it to be as level as you can. Let this set, uncovered, for about 12 hours.

4. Remove chocolate from the pan onto a cutting board with the top side down. Run a long, thin knife under hot water and wipe with a paper towel. Divide your square into six equal sections vertically and then horizontally. You want to keep reheating the knife with hot water after every few cuts. Store the chocolate squares in an airtight container until ready to use. I layered mine into a simple Tupperware using wax paper.

5. To assemble, place a marshmallow and then hot chocolate fudge piece onto each lollipop stick. Package in a bag and twist tie or add a ribbon. You'll also want to include directions with these treats. Here are the tags that I used that were inspired by Make and Takes:

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Swirl and melt the chocolate and marshmallow
stick in 4-8 ounces of hot milk.
If you can't wait for it to melt, just eat
the hot chocolate fudge and marshmallow
directly off the stick!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I've read on many blogs how easy it is to make homemade marshmallows. I decided to try it this year to add to Christmas treat gifts. I will join that clan and say yes, this is easy! You know what isn't easy? Cleaning a corn syrup sugar mixture off your stove as the smoke fills your entire kitchen. Alton's recipe that I followed recommended a small sauce pan. I have to disagree because that left me with an absolute mess before the mixture reached temperature. However, the product of this recipe was impressive. I used these marshmallows to create hot chocolate on a stick. I'll share that recipe with you tomorrow because those would make great last minute treats for Christmas weekend! I'm off to continue picking at the stove with my fingernails because I'm too lazy to go out and buy a razor blade.

You will need:
*3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
*1 cup ice cold water, divided
*1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 12 ounces
*1 cup light corn syrup
*1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
*1/4 cup cornstarch
*nonstick spray

1. Place the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl of a stand mixer . With the whisk attachment in place.

2. In a medium saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place over medium high heat and cover. After cooking 3-4 minutes, remove cover, and clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

3. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture while the mixer is running. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 15 minutes. Add the vanilla extract during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

4. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I do not own a metal baking pan that size, so I used my glass Pyrex) Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

5. When ready, pour the thick mixture into the prepared pan. Use a lightly oiled spatula to help spread evenly into the pan. Dust the top with some of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

6. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board. Use a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture to cut 1-inch squares. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar cornstarch mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Alton's recipe also contains instructions for preparing mini marshmallows. It changes the directions after step 3 and you can find those steps through the link above.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Pumpkin tends to get all the attention at the start of the fall. Don't get me wrong, I love baking and cooking with pumpkin, but I think butternut squash is my favorite in fall and winter recipes. The flavor of roasted squash compliments so many dishes. These enchiladas are nothing short of amazing. The sauce with this recipe is now my go-to enchilada sauce. Both of the recipes below are from The Daily Garnish.

For the enchiladas, you will need:
*1 large butternut squash
*olive oil
*1 medium yellow onion, diced
*1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
*1/2 tsp cumin
*1/4 tsp cinnamon
*salt to taste
*6-8 whole wheat tortillas
*shredded Mexican cheese
*1 batch homemade enchilada sauce (below)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Peel, seed, and cube the butternut squash.

2. Place squash cubes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with some olive oil and salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until soft. Stir once halfway through cooking.
(While the squash is cooking, you can make your sauce. The recipe is posted below)

3. Once the squash is roasted, place the cubes in a large mixing bowl and mash. Set mashed squash aside to cool.

4. Saute the onions in a small frying pan until brown and soft. Add beans and cook until warmed, about 2 minutes. Stir beans and onions to the squash bowl. Season with spices and salt. Stirring to combine.

5. Spread 1 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Scoop the squash and bean filling evenly onto tortillas and then loosely roll. Place filled tortillas in the baking dish with the seam side down. Pour the reaminder of the enchilada sauce over the tortillas. (This is a lot of enchilada sauce. I do not always use it all!) Be sure to use a spatula to get the sauce all around the sides of the pan and tortillas. If desired, top with shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enchilada Sauce
*1/4 cup vegetable oil
*1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
*3 tablespoons chili powder
*12 oz tomato paste
*2 cups vegetable broth
*1 teaspoon onion powder
*1 teaspoon cumin
*1 teaspoon minced garlic
*salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until completely dissolved and smooth. Add chili powder and stir for 1 minute to cook. Add tomato paste, vegetable broth, onion powder, cumin, and garlic, and stir to combine. The sauce should thicken. Add salt to taste, and then stir over medium heat to cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.