Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cookie Brownie Pie

When I saw this recipe on Taste and Tell my mouth started watering immediately.
If you read my blog, you know that my particular weakness in life is cookies. But my next biggest weakness is cookies combined with brownies. And a drizzle of caramel never hurts anything, right?

So I knew I needed to make these and I really knew I needed to take this to work so I didn't eat all of it, because I definitely could have. Don't worry, my co-workers gladly devoured every last slice.

Now let the parade of mouthwatering photos begin. . .

 


All you need to have on hand for these is a chocolate chip cookie mix and a box of brownies! Plus they are great served warm or room temperature and even though the recipe is easy, it looks so put together when you serve the sliced pie!

Cookie Brownie Pie
recipe courtesy Taste and Tell via Betty Crocker


Serves 10

Ingredients
1 box (1 lb 2.3 oz) Betty Crocker® fudge brownie mix
Vegetable oil, water and eggs called for on brownie mix box
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® chocolate chip cookie mix
Butter and egg called for on cookie mix pouch
Caramel topping or sauce

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Thoroughly spray 9-inch or 10 inch spring-form pan with cooking spray. I used a 10 inch spring-form so it resulted in a slightly thinner pie as seen in the pictures, but either size works just fine!

Make brownie mix batter as directed on box, using oil, water and eggs. Spread in bottom of pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make cookie mix dough as directed on pouch, using softened butter and egg.

Drop cookie dough in chunks on top of partially baked brownie layer. With back of spoon or your hands, gently press cookie dough together to form an even layer.(I grabbed chunks of cookie dough at a time and smoothed it in my hands then set it gently on top to try and avoid mashing the brownie layer. At the end I smushed together any spaces in the cookie dough.)
Return pan to oven; bake additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cover pan with sheet of foil then bake 10 minutes longer or until cookie layer is set.

Cool at least 1 hour before carefully removing from spring-form and cutting into wedges. Drizzle caramel topping over individual servings.

Enjoy warm for a gooier experience & serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Served room temperature is more of a set cookie/brownie taste (my personal favorite!).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Crock Pot Pinto Beans

I don't have a lot to say about these beans. They don't have a cool story and they don't photograph very well. I made my husband look at 40 pinto bean pictures and as his eyes glazed over I decided I wasn't going to worry that much about it. 

So thus, I hope you trust my judgement more than the pictures because seriously, these are good. And did I mention they are in the crock pot? Which means they are easy and delicious. The jalapeno and black pepper also give it some heat! O and did I mention this is so cheap, maybe $1.00 for this? Have I convinced you to try them yet?

I made these for my Cinco de Mayo fiesta, but the flavors would go well with Mexican food or barbeque or any food for that matter.



Crock Pot Pinto Beans
slightly adapted from Allrecipes.com

Serves 6

Ingredients
1/2 onion peeled and halved
1.5 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 large jalapeno pepper, seeded  (or 1 whole small jalapeno)
1 tablespoons minced garlic
2.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
5 cups water
 
Directions

Rinse pinto beans and place in crock pot with all remaining ingredients. I left a few seeds in my jalapeno to guarantee necessary spiciness for good pinto beans.

Turn crock pot to high and let cook for around 3.5 hours. If possible, stir occasionally. Beans should  be soft and a lot of the water should have evaporated but you don't want them to turn to mush, so I would check them around 3 hours, then 3.5 hours and if they aren't done let them go up to 4 hours. You want them to be soft so they melt in your mouth!

When finished cooking, remove the jalapeno and onions before serving.

Enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Food Failures

I love to read food blogs. And trendy blogs. And decorating blogs. And the like.

And you know what my favorite posts are? The real ones. The one where the trendy girl has lipstick on her teeth or the decorator painted something totally wrong. The popovers popped and the dream vacation ended in a sunburn and the Swine flu.

Is that so wrong of me?

Well, as highly unlikely as it is, that you think me, to be one with perfect recipes and perfect days I thought a little look into all the recipes that fail for me might be entertaining. These are just a few because most don't have finished pictures since usually as I am tasting along the way, it becomes obvious that the would not be worthy of you, my awesome Apron readers.



I can laugh about these failures now but at the time it's so disappointing for all the hard work I put in. Being a good cook includes knowing when things fail and to let them go! Most of these I will never be making again, but they were still good experience and could be used as inspiration for future dishes!

Here are a few food failures as of late:

 Cream cheese daintys...just weren't very flavorful. I was unimpressed.

 Homemade granola bars. 
These were delish but didn't stay together so I will try again soon and bring you the recipe!

 Homemade Samoas! The coconut and chocolate mixture were good but the cookie layer was crumbly and dry and ruined the whole thing. Too bad cause I like the pictures!

 This beautiful S'mores pie took me forever to make and it was for a "Pi Party" I was attending. I was SO excited! Then I cut into it and the pudding/custard layer was all watery and ruined the whole thing. Let's just say I have had better culinary days!

This cilantro lime rice was just plain boring. And slightly overcooked. Just eh overall. 
I was hoping it would have a little more pop!

Homemade cheese straws. Again, too boring. Lots of work for little flavor!

Anyways, these are only the failures I have pictures of! There are lots of things I make that don't end up with photos or that I can't even bear to show you (yuck!).

But like I said, just a little glimpse into the daily failings of all my cooking! It's hard sometimes to try and keep cooking when it doesn't work but then I get the itch again and I can't help it!

I hope you don't let your food failures keep you from trying new recipes. Keep cooking!

Have you had any crazy food failures? Does it frustrate you? I want to hear your stories!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars

I first had these bars at my paella party this summer where someone brought them unexpectedly. Luckily I was able to grab one because before I went back for another they were all gone!

At that party they were served warm and they were delicious but I have to say I think the flavors stand out better when served cold, more like a traditional cheesecake.

These are great because they seriously have only 7 ingredients and I often have them on hand. I am also a big fan of desserts that can be made in a 9 by 13 dish because they feed lots of people and travel easily.

These were definitely the favorite thing I made at the Cinco de Mayo party. The crunchy cinnamon sugar top and the melt in your mouth cream cheese layer made people ask for seconds and thirds.

So go make them! You won't regret it!



Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars
recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups

Makes 30 bars

Ingredients
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Unroll one can of crescent rolls and press into bottom of 9 by 13 pan.  Pull the dough around until it fits all the way into the edges of the pan and is sealed.

With a mixer, blend together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over bottom layer of crescent rolls.

Unroll 2nd can of crescent rolls over cream cheese layer. Pinch edges and seams closed.

Melt butter and pour over the top layer of crescents. Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle evenly over butter.

Bake for 30 minutes and check to see if top is golden brown and most of butter is cooked. Bake for an additional 10 minutes if necessary.

Let cool 20 minutes before refrigerating at least 2 hours to chill.

Cut into bars and serve.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta!

I feel like it's time to be real with you guys.

I sure wish I had time to plan parties and execute them before the actual holiday in order for me, to provide you, my lovely readers, with great ideas and recipes. However, if we are being real here, I am not nearly that on top of it.

I was lucky to even pull off my own Cinco de Mayo party on the cinco and not end up with a Siete de Mayo party, tehehe.

So I hope you still love me. I hope you get something good out of this for next year's Cinco de Mayo party or perhaps you want to have a Cinco de Junio party next month. Or just a Mexican fiesta themed event in general, I think these would all apply!

But without further ado, my little Cinco de Mayo fiesta from this weekend:

Decorations:
I tried to stick with red, green and white colors to be as authentic as possible! If you don't want to buy specific decor just use what you have that is red, white and green or just bright fun colors.

 I made this little banner for the door out of construction paper and ribbon. My original plan was for this to be much much bigger but as the hours ran out I opted for mini instead, which I liked :)

 Fiesta decorations...I think these are from Hobby Lobby!




 That bowl actually is from Mexico. Jason and I bought it on our honeymoon and I even haggled the price down in Spanish, very much impressing my new husband. 


Drinks:
Maybe it's because I don't drink alcohol that I am always looking for fun drinks to spice a party up. This time I opted for homemade virgin Pina Coladas and Jarritos (a Mexican soda you can find in most grocery stores either in the soda aisle or the Latin food aisle). Both were a hit! 

 Plus it matched my red and green theme!

Pina Coladas for the guests! I used my recipe here, but I usually just  throw the ice, pineapple and coconut cream in the blender until it tasted good!
I also added some mango too and that made a yummy Mango Pina Colada!

Appetizers:
Just a few this time since we were having enchiladas for dinner!

 Friends brought different salsas to share, next year I think I would do a salsa competition!
This cute salsa bowl was only $.99 at H.E.B.

Word to the wise: Do not serve guacamole in the same dish you make it in. Good thing my friends are really good friends, they didn't care what it looked like but I am embarrassed of this photo!

White queso dip. This was gobbled up! Recipe to come!

Main course:

 Pans and pans of enchiladas! Lots of people to feed!

Homemade refried beans not fried at all! 

 Sour cream enchiladas, these could have been better,
 I feel like I haven't found the best enchilada recipe yet!

 Homemade pinto beans in the crock pot, these were delicious, recipe to come!

   Homemade black beans with cilantro lime rice (not pictured)

Dessert:

Sopapilla Cheesecake...amazing! Recipe coming soon!

Anyways, recipes to come! I hope you had a great Cinco de mayo! Did you make anything delicious? Have a party? Was there a Pinata?

And just to prove I actually have people attend my parties, a group shot: 

 Thanks for coming guys, hope you had fun!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Almond Joy Bars

I have made so many desserts recently and I feel like only a few of them have been, "Wow!" desserts.

Last week I made homemade Samoas bars and I was disappointed in their texture and flavor, especially for the amount of work bar desserts often require.

These bars, however, did not disappoint, the coconut layer melts in your mouth and I love the nostalgia of making your favorite candy into a bar.



These don't have too many steps either.
The crust only has 4 ingredients and you just mix them together.


Then press the crust mixture into the pan and bake for around 8 minutes.


While that is baking, mix together your coconut layer of coconut flakes, 
sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.


 Press into pan and then bake again.

While that layer is baking, melt your chocolate and have it ready.
 (which I forgot to take pics of, sorry!)

Pour the chocolate layer over the coconut layer. Add your chopped or whole almonds, if desired.

Refrigerate, cut into bars and enjoy!




 Almond Joy Bars
recipe slightly adapted from The Recipe Garden

Ingredients
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
14 ounces shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups bittersweet/semi sweet/ or dark chocolate
Almonds, chopped or whole of your choice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until combined, then add the flour and salt. Carefully mix until it resembles chunky bread crumbs. Transfer into the prepared pan and evenly press the batter into an even layer.

Bake for 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the coconut topping.

In a large bowl, combined the condensed milk, vanilla and coconut. Spread over the crust and bake for 20 minutes until it begins to brown slightly.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (or microwave if you prefer).[ I used a combination of dark and semisweet chocolate to create a "bittersweet", feel free to use whatever chocolate combination you have on hand but I recommend NOT using milk chocolate as it isn't rich enough.] Pour the melted chocolate over the coconut layer and spread into an even layer.

If desired, toast your almonds on a cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes. Then top chocolate layer, while still hot with whole or chopped almonds, I did some whole and some chopped to make it look more like an "Almond Joy."

Allow to cool then refrigerate until hardened at least 1.5 hours.

Cut into bars and serve.

Enjoy!
 

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