The Best of Both Worlds – Pecan Pie Brownies

It’s so hard to believe that Thanksgiving came and went so quickly.  Everyone seems to be on Christmas overload already, and I have to say that I’m just not ready yet.  It’s not even December yet! So many people have their Christmas trees up, stores are playing Christmas music, and it’s supposed to snow a little here in Philadelphia tomorrow. I guess sooner or later I’m going to have to get with the program!

I knew I was going to see my sister and my Dad last week so I wanted to make a certain dessert to share with them.

And let me tell you that this dessert was a huge hit.

I’ve shared the recipe with some friends and everyone that made them absolutely loved them.  And it’s because they are absolutely amazing!

Your life will never be the same after you try these Pecan Pie Brownies from Just a Taste. Believe me.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly from Just a Taste when I was in Disney World for Food Blog Forum Orlando. She’s so nice and she shared so much valuable information with us! I read her blog and she always has recipes on there that I want to make. She also has an amazing book out titled “Food Blogging for Dummies”.

Right when I saw this recipe on her blog I just knew it would be a hit.

Check out some of the pictures I took while making this recipe; there’s a link to the recipe at the end!

Mmmm, brownie batter.

You know this is going to be good.

Boiling!

Mmm, pecans!

I wanted to eat this with a spoon!

Pour the sugary goodness over the partially cooked Brownies!

Out of the Oven – Letting them cool was very hard when you have no patience!

Getting ready to cut!

Click here for the Pecan Pie Brownie recipe from Just a Taste!

It’s a good thing that this recipe makes two pans of these Pecan Pie Brownies. There was plenty to give away while having some for myself! :)

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The Best Homemade Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken in the Whole Wide World

Sweet 'n Sour Chicken with Fried RiceI’ve learned that Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken is one of those dishes from a Chinese restaurant that is hit or miss. There is this Chinese restaurant near where my old office building was that had THE BEST Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken. They set the bar quite high, because I have yet to find another place that makes it like they do. They deep fry the chicken (heart attack on a plate, anyone?) and then they give you a container full of sweet ‘n sour sauce that has onions, green peppers and pineapple in it. It’s seriously to die for. I’ve had dreams about it. No really. I have.

In the past when I’ve ordered Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken from other restaurants, they only gave me the deep fried Chicken and a little container of sweet ‘n sour sauce. What? That’s it. Where are the onions, green peppers and pineapple? So I’ve just stopped ordering it from any other place but the original restaurant I got it at.  And if  it doesn’t have those items in it, it’s not Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken to me. I got tired of being disappointed and you can bet that I go back to that restaurant just for that dish. So good. [Read more...]

Homemade Granola Bars

So as I was browsing on Pinterest I came across a recipe for some Homemade Granola Bars. I thought they looked pretty good and I had everything on hand so I figured why not trying making them? I knew I would be the only one eating them since the Mister isn’t into Peanut Butter like I am (Don’t ask – I don’t know what is wrong with him!). I threw a few in the freezer so we’ll see how they keep that way!

[Adapted from this recipe]

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ½ cups Rice Krispies
  • 2 cups Oats
  • ¼ cup Mini Chocolate Chips [optional]
  • ½ cup Honey
  • ⅓ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with wax paper. If you’d like chocolate on your bars you can spread some chocolate chips on the bottom of the dish.

Please note: The chocolate chips will melt a bit. I don’t think I’ll add them in the next time. I didn’t feel like they really added that much to the bars.

Place honey and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan.  Heat the mixture over medium heat until it boils; stir constantly. Once it begins to boil, remove from heat.

Stir in the Peanut Butter and the Vanilla until it’s well blended.

Pour your peanut butter & sugar mixture over your dry ingredients. You want to quickly blend the two together until they are well combined. I thought this was the most challenging part! since the larger bowl I would normally use was being occupied!

Press your granola mixture into your prepared dish. I used a sheet of wax paper spread the granola evenly and to compact it down. Set the pan aside to cool completely.  Once they are cooled,  cut the bars and wrap individually!

I thought these bars were pretty good! I definitely like them better than the ones (Quaker, etc) you buy from the grocery store. I think the next time I would cut the Rice Krispies down a 1/2 cup (and use 2 cups). I felt like they could be a bit moister.  If you look at the original recipe you will see they add a few more ingredients in there, but I didn’t want to add those items. And like I mentioned before the next time I’d leave the chocolate chips out.

If you want some chocolate with your granola bar you could always melt some chocolate chips and lightly coat one side of the granola bar with the chocolate. That would probably look prettier than the melted globs of mini chocolate chips. It wasn’t all that pretty so I didn’t take a picture of that side! :)

I’m sure you could also change up the flavors a bit to suit your tastes.  Imagine Nutella in place of the Peanut Butter?! Oh the possibilities are endless…

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

It’s not often that I have spare room in my freezer. So when I noticed that there was a little bit of room, the first thing that came to my mind was that I had to start trying to make Ice Cream Cake! Isn’t that the first thing that would come to your mind too? I didn’t follow any recipes or anything like that. There’s not a whole lot that goes into it. But the most important part of it is the center; the crunchy part! Wouldn’t you agree?

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • loaf pan
  • parchment paper
  • off-set spatula
  • half gallon of ice cream (if you are using two flavors, use half of each container)
  • hot fudge sauce
  • oreo cookies

ASSEMBLY

I decided that I was going to make mine in a loaf pan. It doesn’t take up a ton of room in the freezer and I figured it’d be easy to slice. So I started out by lining my loaf pan with some parchment paper. I cut a strip for it to go long ways, and then I cut another piece that would fit the other way. This way it would be easy to take it out of the loaf pan to cut.

I let the base flavor (chocolate) of my ice cream soften a bit before starting on the assembly of my ice cream cake. I wanted it to be easy to work with. I used a medium sized cookie scoop (you could use a regular ice cream scoop if you prefer) and scooped the ice cream out of the ice cream container and placed it in the bottom of the loaf pan. I placed one scoop right next to the other scoop so that they were closely touching. Once I was done that I took an off-set spatula and smoothed it all out so that it was a nice flat surface. You want the ice cream to come almost halfway up the loaf pan, but not quite all the way.

I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of the ice cream cake is the middle! I put some oreo cookies (maybe like 10 cookies?) into my Vitamix and broke up the pieces. I didn’t make it a fine crumb or anything. They were little round pieces of cookie. I tried getting it as close to those Dairy Queen “crunchies” as I could. It’s hard, though. I took half of the cookies and put them on top of your base layer. I pushed them in a bit so that they would stay kind of glue themselves to the bottom ice cream layer.

Next it was time for some hot fudge sauce! I recommend using some amazing homemade hot fudge sauce, and you can find the recipe here. Take some of your hot fudge sauce and drizzle it over the cookie pieces. It would be easiest to use a squeeze bottle, but make sure it can be heated up a bit so that it’s squeezable (recommendation: pancake syrup bottle that can be heated up!). If you can’t use a squeeze bottle then just take a spoon and lightly drizzle it over the cookie pieces. Once you have an even layer of hot fudge on top of the cookies, take the rest of your cookie pieces and place them on top of the fudge sauce. Push down a bit to make sure it sticks to the fudge sauce.

Take your top flavor of ice cream (in my case it was cookies n cream) and scoop the ice cream and place it on top of the cookie mixture (just like how you did it for the base). You want to make sure you cover the entire cake. Once that’s done take your off-set spatula (rinsed off, of course!) and smooth out the top. Do not cover it yet; place in the freeze for about 30 minutes and let it firm up a bit before covering.

After it’s firmed up a bit, cut a piece of parchment paper that fits right on top (so the length of the loaf pan) of the cake. Then take some saran wrap and wrap up the loaf pan and place in the freezer.

I know that Dairy Queen does that whippy icing on top, but I’m not a fan of that so I left it off. But if I were making a round ice cream cake for someone’s birthday I would probably pipe some real buttercream icing around the edges.

TRIAL & ERROR

Now on my first trial run of this ice cream cake when I was making the middle layer, I combined my hot fudge sauce and the oreo crunchies. That didn’t really turn out all that well. When we went to eat the ice cream cake the center was quite hard. So this is when I knew I had to go back to the drawing board to find “the perfect recipe.”  Don’t get me wrong, we ate that ice cream cake! But I knew it needed work.  So then I tried doing the cookie/fudge/cookie layer in between the two flavors of ice cream and that worked out so well. It was not hard and it had the right amount of hot fudge to go with the cookie pieces. I was so pleased with how it came out!

This is probably as close to Dairy Queen’s ice cream cake that I’ll get without buying a cake from them. I’m pretty happy with how it came out. There are so many different flavors you can use! I really want to try cake batter flavored ice cream with the chocolate ice cream.  I also plan on experimenting with middle layers – like perhaps a brownie batter middle layer. How amazing would that be?!

 

Homemade Pickles!

Move over Vlasic pickle bird…

I had a few cucumbers that I needed to use, so I decided I’d try making some pickles. I bought some pickling spices from Penzeys a little while ago, so I figured I’d use those. I look on the web and read up on how to make pickles. I looked at many recipes and decided to use one recipe as a guideline, although I wanted to switch it up a bit.

The recipe that I based mine off of was from Cooking Light, August 2007 issue.

Ingredients

  • 2 large cucumbers, sliced
  • 4 ½ cups of white vinegar (5%)
  • 2 ¼ cups of sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill

Slice cucumbers and place in a plastic container.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic cloves, fresh dill and pickling spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook for 3 minutes.   Let cool for a few minutes; pour over cucumbers. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 days.

Here are the cukes:

The Pickling Mixture:

The Cukes soaking in the Pickling Mixture:

The finished product:

I was pleasantly surprised at how they came out. They were a bit sweeter than I was anticipating, and I think the sweetness really masked the dill.  I really couldn’t taste dill at all. The next time I’m going to omit the sugar (or at least cut it down A LOT!), and increase the amount of fresh dill.