Saturday, August 31, 2013

Chocolate Cake Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake With Salted Caramel Buttercream (re-post)

Sue and I were guest posters over at Hungry Little Girl a little while ago and we shared this crazy dessert with her readers. Apparently there has been a little glitch somewhere and now the link to this recipe on her site is no longer working. 
We thought we would share the recipe and photos on our site just to make sure everyone can still have access to the recipe! 
Almost puts you into a sugar coma just reading the title, right?
Oh, and by the way, I don’t want to tell you that this is the most amazing frosting you will ever eat in the entire universe and that it may just ruin you for ever wanting to make another frosting recipe ever again…but…well…it may. Just warning you.
I know what you are thinking… “Boy, that seems like a lot of effort for just a dessert.”
First of all - this isn't “just a dessert”. It’s a chocolate and caramel explosion.
Secondly - okay, we admit this is a little more labor intensive than a simple cake BUT it is waaaaaaay more delicious therefore it is totally worth it.

Chocolate Cake Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake
2 X 8 oz bricks cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup extra strong espresso

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray an 8 inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Set aside. 
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in Greek yogurt and espresso. 
Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 325 for 40 - 50 minutes, until cheesecake is done. (Should be set fairly firm. It may take up to 70 minutes. Keep an eye on it.) Let cool on counter until room temperature. 
Freeze until frozen. 
Once frozen, remove from the spring form pan and cover with plastic wrap. Keep frozen until ready to assemble cake.

Chocolate Cake
1/2 cup baking cocoa 
2 cups flour 
2 tsp baking soda 
pinch of salt 
2 cups sugar 
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs 
2 tsps vanilla 
1/2 cup oil 
1 cup boiling water (do not use hot tap water, use boiling water) 
Preheat oven to 350. Spray 3 8 inch round pans with cooking spray. Set aside. 
Mix together first 5 ingredients. Make a hollow in center of bowl and add remaining 5 ingredients into center. 
Mix all together until blended. 
Pour evenly into prepared baking pans. 
Bake 35 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven to cool 5 minutes on wire rack. After 5 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert cake onto wire rack to cool completely. (You will only need 2 of the cakes - you can use the third for another purpose.)

Salted Caramel Buttercream
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup caramel sauce (store bought or see recipe below for easy caramel sauce)
3 1/2 - 4 cups icing sugar

Beat butter until smooth and light. Beat in vanilla, salt, and caramel sauce. Add icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating in between, until smooth and spread able consistency. 

Easy Caramel Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir all ingredients together. 
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, simmer for 7 minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Store any leftovers in fridge. You can microwave briefly to make it pourable again. I find leaving at room temp is best for making the butter cream frosting. You do NOT want it warm or it will melt your butter cream.
Assembling the cake:

Place bottom layer of chocolate cake on serving platter. Frost with a thin layer of salted butter cream.

Place frozen cheesecake on top of cake layer. Frost with a thin layer of salted butter cream.
Top with second layer of chocolate cake. Take this opportunity to trim up the side of the 3 layers so they are all even. 
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of salted butter cream. Place cake and frosting into fridge and let chill until set, at least an hour or so. 

Generously frost cake with remaining salted butter cream.

Drizzle a little extra Caramel Sauce around the top of the cake and, if desired, sprinkle with a little sea salt. I also topped with a few cappuccino truffles. 
See…a bit of effort is required but you can make this over a few days or well in advance of when you will need it and simply freeze the separate parts until ready to combine. 

It just looks so pretty when it is sliced.

Hopefully those of you who were unable to find us over at Hungry Little Girl with now be able to whip up this bad boy and impress your guests!
We apologize again for any inconvenience the lost link may have caused anyone!!

Be sure to stop by Feeding Big for tons of great links!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies With Salted Caramel

It's International Bacon Day today. 
I can celebrate that. 
In fact, I say we start a petition to extend this day into a week long festival.  Who's with me?
Anyway, until that happens, you should probably make these cookies.
They are similar to our Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies  but still different enough to warrant a separate blog post. 
It's the salted caramel that really puts these over the top.
I mean....go big or go home when it comes to International Bacon Day, right?

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies With Salted Caramel

Salted Caramel
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp vanilla

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups peanut butter (smooth)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup bacon, cooked & diced  + 1/4 cup bacon, cooked & diced
1 - 2 Tbsp coarse sea salt

Prepare caramel - In a medium/large pot over medium-high heat, place butter, brown sugar, cream, salt, and vanilla.
Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook and stir constantly for 7 minutes. 
Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Prepare cookies - Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in sugars until well mixed. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a smaller bowl, stir together baking soda, baking powder, flour, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup of the bacon.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined. Using a medium cookie scoop (or you can pinch off a gold ball sized amount of dough and use your hands to roll it in a ball) place dough about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using a glass or the palm of your hand, flatten balls of dough slightly. 
Place a few bits of the remaining diced bacon onto each cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with a tiny pinch of the coarse sea salt.

Bake at 350 for 10 - 12 minutes, until edges of cookie are just slightly browned. (If you over cook them they will be crunchy instead of soft and chewy!) 
Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.

When they are cool you can drizzle them generously with the salted caramel sauce and then dive in!

Okay. Let's be honest here. The salted caramel sauce is a little over the top. 
You totally do not need it to enjoy these cookies. hear me out....
The salted caramel brings these to a whole new level of indulgence that we don't often get to experience. 
It's soooooooooo good. 
Oh. yes. I should probably mention that this makes a lot of cookies. I think about 5 dozen with my cookie scoop. Not that too many cookies is even a thing around this house. 
Happy International Bacon Day!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Garlic Biscuit Sticks

Fall is coming! Whoot whoot!
I can't be the only one excited about that....
I can finally turn the oven on after several months of million degree weather. 
As it was raining today I figured some Homemade Tomato Soup would go great with these Garlic Biscuit Sticks. These are basically an amped up version of a plain ol' baking powder biscuit. You can make them in the usual biscuit shape but I find by cutting them into sticks you have the perfect dipping object for your soup. 
So put on your favorite sweat pants and hoodie, grab your favorite fuzzy blanket, whip up some soup and biscuits, and settle in. 

Garlic Biscuit Sticks

1 cup butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 med/large cloves garlic, minced

4 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp dried chives
2 2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper, set aside. (The cookie tray needs to have sides as there will be excess butter on the tray and if there are no sides it could run off into the oven and may cause a fire!!!)
Prepare butter - While oven is heating, place butter in an oven safe skillet (or dish) to melt. When butter is melted and bubbly, add in garlic powder and minced garlic. Remove from oven and set side.
Prepare biscuit sticks - In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, garlic salt, and chives. Stir in buttermilk, starting with 2 cups and then adding more as needed to get a soft yet not-too-sticky dough. 
Dump dough out of bowl onto well floured work surface.
Roll out to approx 15 X 18 rectangle.
Cut into 1 inch by 5 inch sticks. (Or your preferred size!)

Take each stick and place it into the melted butter mixture. Using a flipper, flip stick over to coat other side. Using the flipper, remove the stick and place on prepared cookie tray. 
Repeat with all the sticks. (I got 36 sticks)

They can be touching on the sheet or you can place then a little bit apart, either way will work.
Once all the sticks have been coated in garlic butter, place tray in oven and bake at 450 until golden brown, approx 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve hot. 

A few things about these:
1. Try to handle the dough as little as possible. The more you handle it the tougher the biscuits will be.
2. These are best the day the are made. The following day they are not crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside (as they are fresh), they get a bit chewy and just aren't as good. 
3. DO NOT forget that the skillet you melted the butter in was in the hot oven and therefore scorching hot and then pick it up bare handed. (Just sayin' it COULD happen. Not that it did happen.... because it didn't...not to me....Nope...not at all...)
Perfect soup dippers. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Easy Cheesy Crescent Puff Appetizer

Just a quick post today. I had to whip up an appie to bring to a potluck at the office tomorrow.
This is the easiest appetizer on the planet. 
Well, it's at least in the top 5.
All you need is 4 ingredients and about 30 minutes and you are good to go. 
These are a fantastic, cheesy, savory, bacon-y impress-everyone-with-no-effort appetizer. 
Serve them warm or room temp, they will be the hit of the next get together at the office, watching the game, or just hanging out. 

Easy Cheesy Crescent Puff Appetizer

2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough
1 - 2 cups Kraft Italiano Blend Shredded Cheese
1 jar (approx 1 cup) Hormel Real Bacon Bits
1/2 carton (approx 1/2 cup) Philadelphia Herb & Garlic Cream Cheese Spread (light or regular)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper, set aside.
Open 1 can of crescent dough. Break the dough in half along the perforation lines. Place each half side by side. Pinch together the remaining perforations.
Cut each half in half vertically and then diagonally. (You will have 8 rectangles in total)
Cut each of the rectangles in half from corner to corner so you end up with a total of 16 small triangles. (See photo below for clarification.)

(This is one can of crescent dough. You should end up with 16 triangles)

Spread a generous amount of cream cheese on each triangle. Sprinkle with some bacon bits and then sprinkle generously with the shredded cheese.

Roll up, starting from the smaller end. Place on prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with a little more cheese.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and continue to bake until well browned - about 5 - 8 more minutes. 
While they are in the oven, repeat the procedure with the other can of crescent dough. 
Remove the browned crescent puffs from oven and let cool a bit. 
Remove from pan onto a cooling rack. 
Place remaining crescent puffs onto cookie sheet and bake using above directions.
You should end up with 32 crescent puffs. 
Serve warm or room temp.

These are so cheesy and melty and tasty. Okay, not exactly the healthiest choice but, hey, you can't have everything. The flaky crescent dough is addicting with all that cheese and bacon.

You can make these a day ahead, keep them covered in the fridge, and then just pop in the oven (or microwave) for a few minutes to warm up before serving. 
Easiest appetizer ever!

Looking for some fun, tasty, or crafty links? Check out Easy Life and My Turn (for us)!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Greek Chicken Salad

I am really starting to come around when it comes to salads. I think the whole salad-as-a-meal thing is what is convincing me. A salad doesn't just have to be lettuce and veggies. (Took me long enough to realize this!)
I really liked our Cheeseburger Salad the other day so I decided to try and come up with another hearty meal-type salad. 
I threw together what I figured would taste good in a Greek salad and **tah-dah** this salad was born.
I don't know if it a "traditional" Greek salad or not BUT it is delicious nonetheless. 

Greek Chicken Salad

Chicken Marinade
1/4 cup oil
juice of 1 lemon (about 3 - 4 Tbsp)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup Kalamata olives
1/4 cup purple onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup light tzatziki
2 Tbsp milk

Marinade - in a large Ziplock bag, mix together oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and salt. Drop in the cubed chicken and squish to coat all the chicken. Seal bag and chill in fridge for at least 2 -3 hours. 
When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dump chicken and marinade from the bag into the skillet. 

Cook and stir chicken until no longer pink and chicken is cooked through.
Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.
Prepare salads - Divide lettuce among 5 plates. Evenly sprinkle each bed of lettuce with the red pepper, olives, onion, tomato, cucumber, and feta. Spoon the warm chicken evenly over each salad.
Prepare dressing - In a small bowl, stir together the Tzatziki with enough milk to thin it enough to drizzle over salads. Drizzle evenly over the 5 salads. 

I checked with Myfitnesspal and I've got good news!!
For 1/5 of the recipe (That plateful above is 1/5th of the recipe!!) it is:
Calories - 325, Carbs - 11, Fat - 13, Protein - 40. 
Lunch or dinner for 325 calories? Don't mind if I do. 
Trust me when I say this is a big portion! 
You can eat and eat and eat. Now, that's my kind of meal. 

Drop by Carole's Chatter for some fantastic links!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Individual Peach Pies

I am feeling whiny today. 
I've had a cold and cough and stuffy sinuses for about 2 weeks now and it's getting old. 
Then, today, I coughed so much I put my back out. 
My brain is telling me to just give up and go back to bed. I agree with my brain today. Bed it is with some fabulously horrible B monster movies. (Sharktopus, anyone?) 
But first....
Individual peach pies, to be exact. 
Pie makes everything better.

Individual Peach Pies

brown sugar 

Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 
Make up pie dough as per recipe (see link). You can also use your favorite recipe or use store bought.
Peel peaches. Cut in half and carefully remove pit. Set peaches, pit side up, on paper towel. Fill the indent where the pit was with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll out a piece of dough to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thickness. 
Cut out a round of dough for each peach half you have. The round should be at least 1/4 inch extra all around the peach half. Place rounds of dough onto prepared cookie sheet.
Place filled peach half upside down onto round.

Roll out a second amount of dough to between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out another round of dough for each peach half you have. This time you want to make the rounds big enough to dome over the peach half. 
Attach the top round to the bottom round by dipping your fingers into a bowl of water and dabbing your wet fingers onto the excess dough around the peach half. This will help the top round of dough to stick to the bottom round.
Press the dough together to seal.
You can then use the extra little bits of dough to decorate as desired. Remember to cut a little slit into the top of each pie to let steam escape.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and reduce heat to 400. Continue cooking until crusts are nicely browned on top, another 10 - 20 minutes. 

Serve warm (or room temp) with ice cream!

These may be a little more fussy to make than a regular peach pie, especially if your back is out and the muscle relaxers/pain killers you've taken have kicked in, but they are totally worth it. 
They look sooooooo cute which makes all the extra fuss worthwhile. 
The brown sugar and cinnamon inside the peach are like this happy little surprise when you dig in to it. 
I didn't put amounts for the ingredients because this is one of those recipes you can make as many or as little as you like. 
You can wrap any remaining pie dough in plastic wrap and freeze it for a later use. 
Be sure to visit The Chicken Chick and Ms. enPlace and Jam Hands and The Velvet Moon Baker and Feeding Big and Carole's Chatter for some great links!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tater Tot Waffles

This recipe will change the way you think about waffles. maybe it's not so much a "recipe" as it is a revolutionary idea.
I know what you are thinking. "Really Jo, we're talking about tater tots and waffles, how can it be a revolutionary idea?"
Hear me out. 
It's waffles made out of tater tots. 
Did you know that is a thing?
Because I didn't know and I'm pretty upset that no one shared that with me. 
Don't even pretend that you aren't intrigued by this idea. 
Yeah, I know it's not the healthiest thing out there.
Don't even care.
It is crazy good. Craaaaa-to-the-zeeeeee!
I had one for dinner last night with a sunny-side-up egg and was in breakfast-for-dinner heaven. I'm pretty sure this is happening again for dinner tonight too.
Go ahead and judge me. 
Don't even care. 
I'll be over here eating tater tot waffles. 

Tater Tot Waffles

Tater tots

Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat.
When it is ready, place tater tots on top of iron and close lid. 

Cook until waffle reaches desired crispiness.
Top as desired. 
I decided on a sunny-side-up egg.

And then I decided to add some ketchup too.

I'm going to share some tips with you so you don't do the same thing I did:
1. I used frozen tater tots and when I first tried to close the lid, all the tots slid out and I had to rearrange them in the iron. I then let them sit in the iron for a little bit to thaw and tried to close the lid again, I broke the handle on my waffle iron trying to close it with too much force. 
Long story short - use thawed or semi-thawed tater tots, don't pull on the handle to close the waffle iron - press on the top using a towel - and be careful because it gets very hot and steamy.
2. If you find the tater tots don't seem to be flattening very well in the waffle iron then simply use a fork to mash them together whilst in the iron. 
3. To remove them from the waffle iron without breaking them, loosen the edges with a fork all around the outside of the waffle before attempting to lift it out. Once the edge is up you can slide in a flipper and lift it up no problem. 

If you don't want to top it with an egg then you can always go the melty cheese and bacon route!
Or, I was thinking of frying up some onions, bacon, and green pepper and throwing that on top. 
Be sure to visit My Sweet Mission for tons of great links!