Streusel Topped Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Streusel Topped Chocolate Chip Banana Bread 3

I would apologize for having been gone so long, but you’ve all heard it before. I’ve become like that straying spouse that says for the 12th time, “I promise; it won’t happen again! Trust me!” and then they step out on you again 😛 I do what I can post wise lately and I know that those of you who have been around for pretty much my full five years (Yes! We passed the five year mark early this month. D’you believe it!?) love me anyway.

Are you all as totally sick as me of all the political crap on facebook anymore? I love my friends, but I swear, I can’t scroll half an inch there without being bombarded with “Democrats are evil; no, Republicans are evil!” posts. It is enough to make one want to go live on a deserted island in the south pacific with only a banana tree for food and a macaw for company.  Wait; I wanted to do that anyway. I mean, really, think about it. Bananas are a perfectly good food to live off of (though if I wanted protein, I imagine my buddy the macaw would start looking tasty hehe) and you can’t beat a nice sunny tropical island. Just send me with a few crates of books and a way to play music and it’s all good.

This wasn’t originally going to be a post, but it was too tasty to keep to myself. It’s nothing earth shaking. I was making my original banana bread and I noticed that I had a partial bag of chocolate chips I needed to use up. Then, when I glanced in the freezer for something else, I saw my stored bag of streusel. The two brain cells I have left decided to use both of these things in the bread. I have to say, it’s really quite good. I added a layer of streusel to the middle of each loaf along with a small handful of chocolate chips, then topped each loaf with more of the same. Simple, yet delicious. I sent some in with Joshie for his teacher today and she texted me saying it was fantastic. I soooo love when people enjoy what I’ve made. 🙂

This is a perfect after school snack, great with coffee for a quick and somewhat decadent breakfast (but it has bananas! It must be good for you, right?!), a nice late night treat; just an all around nice baked good to have around. And, as as in the case for most quick breads, this is easy to throw together and get in the oven.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Streusel Topped Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup solid shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups of mashed bananas (this is about 5 to 6 medium bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon banana flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional, but it adds a nice flavor)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (toast in a single layer in a 350 oven until they are a light golden brown)
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • Streusel-
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (optional; with me, nuts in streusel depends on my mood)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Grease 6 mini disposable foil loaf pans and set aside. Alternately, you can do this in a 9 inch loaf pan, but you’ll have extra that you’ll need to make muffins with.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, on low speed, cream together the shortening and the sugar until well combined. Add in the mashed bananas, vanilla, banana and butter flavorings and eggs. Beat well.
  4. Dump in the flour mixture and using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine JUST until mixed. It’s fine if there are a few lumps or white streaks. I have said before and will say again, you do NOT want to over beat quick breads and/or muffins. You end up with tough rubbery final products doing that. Resist that urge.
  5. Fold in the toasted walnuts. Again; don’t over mix.
  6. Fill each mini loaf pan about half full. Sprinkle with about 2 heaping tablespoons of the streusel and then about a tablespoon of the chocolate chips. Divide the rest of the batter evenly over each loaf, carefully smoothing the top to get it over the streusel. Top each loaf with another 2 tablespoons of streusel and some chocolate chips. If you have streusel left over, it freezes wonderfully.
  7. Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean  If this starts to brown too much, just lay a piece of foil over the top as it bakes.
  8. Let it sit in the pan for ten minutes, then gently squeeze the bottom of the pan to loosen the loaf and turn it out carefully to a rack to finish cooling.

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Streusel Topped Chocolate Chip Banana Bread 5

 

My favorite Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies & A Hamilton Beach Giveaway!

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip & Toffee Cookies

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip & Toffee Cookies

It’s time for me to get to enjoy being a Hamilton Beach Ambassador one more time! I always love when I get the chance to share my thoughts on one of their products with you, and I especially love getting to give away whatever that product is to one of you! So, what do we have to talk about today? The most recent thing the lovely people at Hamilton Beach sent to me is their Easy Reach 4 Slice Toaster Oven .

4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top Door

4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top Door

This toaster oven is so darn cute! Yes, I just called a toaster oven cute. But really, it is.31334 Other women will understand it, while men will just shake their heads and assume I’m insane; rather like my husband does when I say that those teeny tiny mini sized bottles of ketchup are cute. Inside, this oven is only a wee bit smaller seeming than the typical toaster oven. What makes it seems tinier is it’s lack of bulk. You have a glass door on the front that rolls up rather than opens downward. This has a pro and a con. It makes it easier to get into the oven without worrying about the door getting in your way as you pull things out. BUT… and this is again something most women will “get”; it also means that you can’t set any sort of knick knacks or decorations on top of this oven. On my old one, I kept the cup that held all the keys, my ceramic cow named Herman (don’t ask) and a knick knack that once belonged to my mother in law. With this one, I can’t do that due to the roll top door.
But it makes up for it in other ways. The Hamilton Beach 4 Slice goes from 200 degrees all the way up to 450 degrees. Beyond toasting, you have the already mentioned bake function, plus a broil one. I can see THAT one working great for melting the cheese on top of something or crisping up a food; making burgers.

Did I mention that the door was removable? Can we say “easy cleanup”?! Unlike ones where you end up with a door so splattered and icky that you can’t see through it, with this one, after each use, just take the door off, wash it up, dry it and put it back on. No mess! 31334-04 This comes with a removable rack that can be used in two different positions and a crumb tray that isn’t attached inside, so you can pull it out easily and clean it off.
My old toaster oven? I was afraid to actually COOK anything in it. I used it for toast and frozen pizzas and that was about it. But I knew if I was going to be able to accurately review this for you, I needed to branch out a little. I thought about homemade pizza, then realized that was still hedging my bets; pizza is pizza when it comes to baking. So I finally decided to make one of my family’s favorite cookies; my Brown Butter Chocolate Chip & Toffee Cookies. This cookie isn’t cheap to make generally, so I was counting on this oven to do it correctly and not end up burning the tops or the bottoms like other ones have done. So I took a deep breath and dived in.
IT WORKED!! The cookies came out looking just like they should, though they seemed to finish baking about a minute and a half quicker. Obviously, you can’t fit a full sized tray of cookies in there, but the oven comes with a tray and that tray fits four cookies just fine. If made smaller, you could fit six, but I like generously sized cookies 😀 My sons got a hold of the cookies (I only got ONE cookie! Darn kids!) before I got a photo (I had only made a half batch) so the photo I am using here is my old one, but trust me, there was no difference in the cookies.
As for the cookies themselves, if you haven’t tried these before, now’s your chance! These cookies are awesome, if I do say so myself, hehe. They are ooey gooey, with a slight nutty flavor from the browned butter, but no actual pesky nuts. They have that wonderful soft middle with the crispy edge. You could make a half batch like I did and have enough for the here and now, or make the full batch of dough, freeze half in cookie sized balls, then bake in the toaster oven anytime you get a craving. You can bake straight from frozen; just add a couple of minutes time on.

                         Browned Butter Chocolate Chip & Toffee Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned to a golden brown color & cooled
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag Heath Bar toffee chips (or 4 Heath bars, crushed)

 

  1. To brown the butter, in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Let cook,stirring frequently, until it turns a golden brown color. This can take anywhere from five to ten minutes. It will sputter, spit and foam a lot at first then that will stop. Do NOT walk away from this as it can go from yellowish butter to burnt garbage very quickly.
  2. Pour the browned butter into a large bowl, leaving behind all the solid bits at the bottom of the pot (though if you get some in there it’s no big deal. Don’t worry about it.). Let cool.
  3. When cool, pour both kinds of sugar into the bowl with the butter. Beat until well mixed.
  4. Add in the egg and egg yolk, then pour in the vanilla and the cream. Beat on low speed until well mixed.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and at slow speed (unless you want to be covered in flying flour), mix until you have a cohesive cookie dough.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips and the toffee bits.
  8. Now you can chill for about an hour if you want. The original recipe says to but I didn’t bother and they were fine.
  9. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. If you don’t have a silicone mat, please go buy one. They aren’t cheap but oh my, they’re worth it. Trust me on this. The first time you use it, you’ll totally understand. Spray the cookie sheet with baking spray.
  10. Scoop the cookies up and place about 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheet.
  11. Bake at 350 until golden brown on the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Do NOT over bake or they will lose that delicious softness and gooeyness (yes, that is now a word). They should be firm on top if you press one lightly but not hard.
  12. Let cool for a minute on the sheet then transfer over to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Now for the fun part; the giveaway! Enter below for your chance (chances) to win one of these Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Toaster Ovens for yourself!

Click here to view this promotion.

Disclosure-The lovely people at Hamilton Beach provided me with a 4 Slice Easy Reach Toaster Oven With Roll Top Door to review, but all opinions are 100% my own and completely honest.

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

I have a writing pad that I write recipe ideas in. It’s totally not pretty; just a typical notepad. Half the things in it are so scribbled that I’m the only one that can read them. My writing is atrocious at the best of times (leftie here!), but when I get an idea for something at 3am (yes, this is a curse of food blogging), it is even worse. When I finally try to create what my mind thought up in the throes of sleep, it gets crossed off of the list. The list, however, is NEVER going to get finished, because I keep adding to it. One of the things that was in there for ages was to try to recreate one of my favorite dishes, which is chicken cordon bleu, as a pasta dish. I love it the regular way, but it’s such a pain in the tush to make; pound the chicken down, roll it up with the ham and cheese, get it breaded, fry it, and then do the clean up. Ugh.

So, while I realize it’s not new; you can find 50,000 versions of this online, this is MY version of a chicken cordon bleu pasta. My family really enjoyed this one. It made a pretty full pan of pasta, but other than a little bit my husband took to lunch the next day, it ALL got eaten. Of course, I live with all males, two of whom are 19 and 21, but still…

This turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. Tender pasta filled with chunks of ham, slices of chicken (I cheated and use the packaged slices; SO much easier!), all in an ultra creamy Swiss and Gruyere cheese sauce with a little bit of peas mixed in for color and to convince myself that this is chock full of nutrition instead of fat and calories. 😀  So, so delicious!

You know the drill… 🙂

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

  • 10 ounces of your favorite pasta (I used fusilli just cause they are a fun shape), cooked and drained (reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water just in case you need to thin the sauce) and poured into a large bowl or pot
  • 16 ounces cooked, cubed ham
  • 12 ounces cooked, sliced chicken breast (I cheated and used the prepackaged slices in the lunch meat/deli area of the grocery store)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed (leave them sit out for ten minutes… they’ll be thawed enough)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 3/4 cup milk (I used whole. I don’t suggest trying this with skim or 1%)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded and combined with
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded, and
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (the REAL stuff, not the cheap canned type)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (taste the sauce before adding salt. Some Parmesan can be pretty salty and you may not need as much or even any at all)
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an oven safe pan or medium sized dutch oven. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepot, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Slowly whisk in the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. When you have all the milk in, switch over to a spoon or rubber spatula and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, JUST until the mixture comes to a light boil.
  3. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the beaten eggs. You’re trying to temper the eggs (heat them up slowly) so that they don’t scramble when added back into the rest of the milk. Once the full cup of milk has been whisked into the eggs, slowly pour the eggs back into the milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for about a minute.
  4. Pull out 1/2 cup of the mixed cheeses and reserve to top the pasta with. Dump the rest of the combined cheese into the milk and stir constantly, until melted. Take the pot off of the heat and stir in the dill weed, Dijon mustard and black pepper. Taste for saltiness and then add the salt if needed.
  5. Dump the ham, chicken and peas over the reserved pasta and stir. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and stir to combine. If the sauce seems too thick, use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it down.
  6. Spoon the pasta into the prepared pan or dutch oven and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Sprinkle with a little extra dill weed, if desired.
  7. Bake at 350 just until heated through and slightly bubbly around the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

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Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

 

 

 

Herbed Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

I have whined more than once about how much I dislike carrots. But it bears saying again. I don’t like carrots. Though for a woman who doesn’t like carrots, I have a fair amount of recipes that incorporate them, don’t I? If this doesn’t show my love for you carrot loving weirdos, I don’t know what does. But did I ever mention that I’m not a huge potato fan, either? I like french fries, and I love roasted potatoes, but I’m not much on mashed or baked. In other words, if it has been made crispy, I’m cool with it. Crispy for the win! *does a cheer, breaks hip*

That said, I have a major thing for roasted veggies. Roasting even makes carrots taste good. 😛 Seriously though, if you have anyone in your family who isn’t fond of veggies, try this recipe. With roasting, you get crispiness and the roasting process makes them sweeter and takes away any bitter edge some vegetables can have. The following is my family’s absolute favorite way of making them. You have the main part, which is the potatoes and carrots, all flavored with onions, shallots, garlic, salt and herbs. So, so good. This is perfect with a roast, with baked chicken, heck, with pretty much anything. Plus, it works for a special dinner too, not just a family one. The combo of vegetables and herbs never fails to get gobbled up.  And this recipe is totally variable in amounts or type of veggie, too. Feeding more people? Double up into two pans with extra vegetables. Feeding less? Same thing. Like turnips or rutabagas? Cut some up and toss them in there.

You know the drill… get to cooking! 🙂

Herb Roasted Potatoes And Root Vegetables

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs baby potatoes, washed, dried and cut in half
  • 1 lb carrots, cut into chunks (you can also just use baby carrots)
  • 1 large onion, chunked
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 4 cloves minced garlic ( I have also been known to keep the garlic whole (peeled), and roast it that way. It get caramelized and soft and oh so good)
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes De Provence (easily found in the spice aisle of any decent grocery store)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt or amount desired
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper)
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Combine the potatoes, carrots, onion, shallots and garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over it all and use your hands to give it all a good stir, making sure to get everything coated in oil. Dump in the pan and turn all the potatoes so that the cut edge is on bottom (gets them crisper that way) Sprinkle everything with the salt, pepper and Herbes De Provence.
  3. Roast at 425 for between 30 to 40 minutes, or until everything is tender and the potatoes have nicely browned on bottom. Taste for salt and serve.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

Ever have one of those meals where you are running around like proverbial headless chicken, trying to make a nice dinner, and yet still, you do 456 things incorrectly while cooking? Please tell me you have evenings like that. If nothing else, lie to me. I’m cool with that.

I made fried chicken for dinner tonight. Ultimately, it was fine, but the burner I prefer to use seems to be having hissy fits lately and has no medium temp. It’s either high enough that the food (in this case, the fried chicken) is somewhat burned on the outside and half raw inside or the oil temp is too low and the chicken ends up greasy. Yes, yes, I know, I could just move to another burner, but one, I LIKE the left hand side and two, that seems defeatist. Please don’t ask me why I stick with it and have food come out poorly, because I have no answer for that other than orneriness.

Then, the socket that I plugged the rice cooker into decided to go on the fritz and it wasn’t until the rest of dinner was done that I realized that the rice had never cooked. I had to plug it in elsewhere and try again. So, now we have 3 cups of cooked rice because no one wanted any by the time they finished the rest of dinner.

One part that turned out wonderfully was these biscuits. I have a lot of friends who aren’t comfortable using yeast and if you fall into that category yourself, these are the biscuits you want to try. They use both yeast and baking powder, so are virtually foolproof, and are so light and fluffy. These come together so easily; you don’t need a mixer of any kind. A couple hours chilling time, bake, and you have a pan or two of amazingly delicious biscuits. These are fantastic plain, or with butter and jam.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Angel Biscuits

  • 1/2 cup warm water (between 105 and 112 degrees)
  • 1 envelope yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (just plain old salt; nothing fancy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cold shortening, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, sliced thin
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and one teaspoon sugar. Stir and let sit for five minutes. it should get foamy and bubbly. If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead; use a different pack.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. Use a pastry blender to cut in the cold shortening and butter until the mixture is crumbly with pieces of butter ranging from pea to nickel sized. Pour in the yeast mix and the buttermilk, all at once. then stir until the dough is thoroughly moistened and you can mash it together into a ball.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 and lightly butter two 10 inch cast iron skillets (or a buttered baking dish). Dump dough out onto a lightly floured board. Pat into a 1 inch thick circle; fold in half; repeat process twice.
  6. Finally, pat or roll the dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut the dough with 2 inch biscuit cutters. You can use smaller or larger cutters, but adjust your cooking time to suit.
  7. Place the biscuits, sides touching, in the prepared pans. Brush with half the melted butter.
  8. Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans once during baking, until the tops are golden brown. Brush with the rest of the melted butter and serve.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Angel Biscuits

Angel Biscuits

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

The first graders in Joshies school have their Easter egg hunt tomorrow. He wants me to come be one of the volunteer moms who hides eggs and acts all gleeful to be in a crowd of moms I don’t know. *Sobs* The child is young. He hasn’t yet learned that his mother is a total introvert, with social anxiety issues to boot. While I COULD go do this, and use it as a handy excuse to have a drink later, I think I prefer to go to the Easter egg hunt, cheer him on from the back of the mass of people and then quietly slink off to wait for school to end and Spring break to start. Though Spring break brings with it its own reasons to have a bottle of booze handy.

I already have his first Spring break snackie all ready with these blondies (Did ya see that smooth segue there? Huh, huh, huh?). Generally speaking, I prefer chocolaty brownie type bars, but every once in a while I get a wild hair and want to play with something else.  One of my favorite brownie recipes are these caramel pecan brownies. They are so easy and what you get from that easiness is an outstanding brownie; chewy, chocolaty and gooey. In other words, right up my alley. But the idea had been flitting around in my head to see what else I could do with the basic recipe. I know some people like their chocolate a little more muted and these should please those people immensely. But you know what? The rest of you will love them too. I know I do. These are simple as can be since they use cake mix (yes, cake mix. Quit rolling your eyes; they’ll stick that way.) and bagged caramels. I’ve learned in my many years of life (many, many years) that things don’t always have to be fancy to be delicious. These turned out really well. They are almost candylike in their texture; chewy, but not hard to chew, gooey, with just enough chocolate in them. Plus, the toasted coconut and pecans add a nice crunch and flavor to them. Cut these in fairly small bars. They are pretty rich.

You know the drill… 🙂

Caramel, Toasted Coconut & Pecan Blondies

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk (you can sub half and half it you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup toasted coconut (350 oven, single layer in a baking dish for about ten minutes; stir once during toasting)
  • 21 ounces (give or take) caramel candy (I used Kraft; it takes about a bag and a half), unwrapped (I assume you know to unwrap them, but I have to be careful here 😛 )
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk or half and half (yes, this is supposed to be in here twice)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil; lightly grease the foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cake mix, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, melted butter and extracts. Use a spoon to mix just until combined. It’s ok if there are still some lumps in the batter.
  3. Use your hands (lightly grease or flour them; it helps) to spread/press about half the batter into the prepared pan. It may take a touch more than half; that’s fine. Bake at 350 for five minutes.
  4. While it’s baking, in a medium bowl, combine the caramels and the 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Then continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until the caramels are melted. It’s again ok if there are small lumps and it’s not perfectly smooth. You just want a more or less smooth caramel mixture, but a few lumps won’t hurt.
  5. Pour half the caramel sauce on top of the partially baked crust. be careful spreading it since the crust isn’t cooked all the way and will tear if you’re not gentle. Top this with the toasted coconut, pecans and half the chocolate chips. Then pour the rest of the caramel sauce over the top.
  6. Mix the other half of the chocolate chips with the remaining batter, then spoon dollops of the batter over the top of the caramel. it’s not going to cover it all; that’s cool. Just try to evenly space the dollops over the top.
  7. Put the pan bake in the 350 oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top it browned and the caramel is bubbly.
  8. Let cool in the pan at LEAST a couple of hours (overnight in a cool place is best), then use the foil to lift the blondies out onto a cutting board. If they start to sag in the middle, they aren’t cool enough yet.. Peel off the foil, then cut the blondies into serving size pieces.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

It’s no secret that I don’t like carrots. I whine about it every time I post a recipe that uses carrots in it, I make mention of it on my personal page in facebook every time my husbands dares to want carrots with dinner, I moan when my youngest child eats carrots dipped in ketchup (don’t ask). Carrots are just…icky. They’re fibrous and hard to chew and don’t have a ton of flavor unless they are roasted (which is one of the few ways I willingly eat them). Did I mention that I think they’re icky.

Except when they aren’t.

These muffins are a definite case of they aren’t yucky. I mean, I know a bunch of you have already heard of Morning Glory Muffins. They’re pretty much a breakfast standard, and can be found in a bunch of home style cookbooks. But let’s keep one thing in mind, please.

This is me. I don’t do ANYTHING normally. That includes making these muffins. I wanted to ramp up the flavor a bit, add a bit more to make these interesting enough that even the kids wouldn’t scoff over having a muffin full of fruits and vegetables. I think I succeeded. These have all the nutrition of the original muffins, but with a blast of flavor that comes from a small amount of dark chocolate, some dried apricots and a fair amount of orange zest, along with some other minor changes I made. These aren’t the prettiest of muffins, since you have a boatload of fruits and veggies with just enough batter to bind them together, but darn, they taste good. I scarfed one down hot from the oven and it was heavenly. Moist, tender, with crunch from the toasted nuts and coconut as well as the carrots and the varied flavors of everything else in there, all finished with gooey chocolate.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Revamped Morning Glory Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup raisins (make sure you use good ones, not dried shriveled ones)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted*
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (or dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two 12 cup muffin tins with liners. Alternately, grease them well.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add in the carrots and orange zest and stir to combine.
  3. Dump in the raisins, coconut, pecans, apricots and dark chocolate. Stir well.
  4. Make a well in the center and dump in the oil, eggs, vanilla and crushed pineapple. Stir just until combined. Don’t overbeat or you’ll end up with tough muffins full of holes.
  5. Fill each muffin cup 2/3’s full of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees about 20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins are a golden brown color. Let rest in the tin for a bout 2 minutes, then use a butter knife or spoon to get them out to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  6. These are a great breakfast and/or an after school snack you can feel ok giving the kiddos. Drizzle with some honey and butter for a real treat!
  7. * To toast the coconut and nuts, simply place in a single layer in a baking pan in a 350 oven and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Watch carefully; both nuts and coconut can go from nicely browned to burnt very quickly.

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

We all have a mental bucket list. There are some who are organized enough to actually have one written down, but not I. I prefer to keep mine buried in my brain with the cobwebs, the monsters with four heads and 8 inch fangs who come out on nights that I’m stupid enough to stay up alone and watch horror movies, the bad memories of my brother pulling the heads off my barbie dolls, the good memory of the taste of my mothers chili and all the mental post it notes that eventually yellow and disintegrate, leaving me constantly feeling as if I forgot to do something.

Weird thing though? While my bucket list has the typical things on it; go sky diving, hike the Camino De Santiago with my husband in Spain, actually fully clean my house…. mine is made up of a butt ton of cooking goals- learn to make Kouign Amman, make my own wine, finally figure out how to cook so that we don’t eat leftovers of each meal for a week. I have about 900,000 recipes (you think I jest? You should see both my cookbook collection with tabbed pages as well as all my printed out recipes) that I want to try someday. I obviously need to live to be 310. And while making many of these recipes can’t really be called difficult goals, many are ones I’ve had for YEARS and just never gotten to. This recipe was one of those. It’s so simple, sounds like it might be too easy to be interesting in fact. But trust me. It you enjoy tangy, fruity main dishes, you’re going to love this one. It was originally in an old Southern Living cookbook and was just called cranberry chicken. I changed it up a fair amount (it had celery and I dislike celery, it used less cranberry sauce, less onion, it was oven cooked and I wanted stovetop so I could cook this any time of year and not heat the house, etc etc) and with the addition of the balsamic vinegar (God, I love balsamic! You?), it made it into practically an entirely new dish. This has become a family favorite and one of those rare dishes that you can see serving once a week without everyone getting sick of it.

I used bone in, skin on thighs in this, but you could sub in any part you prefer, but watch your cooking time. Breasts will cook quicker and you don’t want to dry them out. This is tender, tangy, sweet, juicy; just an all around winner. We serve this over brown rice. You could use noodles also, I’m sure, if that’s your preference, but serve it with something to use the sauce on!

You know the drill…. 🙂

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

  • 4 to 6 nice meaty chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • one medium onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (I have to recommend Ocean Spray here. Many of the off brands are far too sweet with fewer actual berries)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (optional, but it adds some depth to this)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Pour the oil in a large skillet. Salt and pepper the chicken, then add it to the pan and cook over medium high heat until it is nicely browned on one side. Flip and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to drain and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons or so of the drippings.
  2. In that same skillet, cook the onion over medium heat until it is limp and just starting to brown. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (other than the chicken) until well combined. Add the chicken, making sure to nestle each piece in there and flipping it once to get sauce on both sides at the start.
  3. Cover your skillet and turn the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer, turning frequently, for about 45 minutes to an hour, until nice and tender. Serve this with ample sauce on the chicken and the side dish.
  4. While it cooks, make your rice or noodles or what have you.
  5. Enjoy! You’re going to love this!

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Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken 2

Chocolaty Orange Mocha Snack Cake

Chocolaty Orange Mocha Snack Cake 2

Chocolaty Orange Mocha Snack Cake

Russ, my husband, has a thing for the combo of chocolate and orange. I have to admit that it’s a favorite of mine also. But then again, I’m an equal opportunity fruit/chocolate fan. Blend it with raspberry, cherry, apricots, whatever and I’ll be there banging on your door, plate in hand.

Every year at Christmas time, I get Russ one of those chocolate oranges. You know the kind; wrapped in foil, you’re supposed to strike it against a hard surface to separate the segments, etc, etc. I SAY I get it for Russ and it HAS become a tradition. But the truth is that while he loves the flavor combo, he isn’t much on candy. He prefers it in that flavor of Milano cookie (me too!) So what happens to his chocolate orange over time? Yep; you guessed it. *sheepish look* Well, I can’t just let it go to waste, now can I?! It’s rather like how every year when my brother, sister and I were kids, we would get our mom a big heart shaped box of Fanny May chocolates for Valentines Day, using her money of course. Of course, by the time our poor mother, suffering from some late night chocolate craving, got to the box that she stored in the fridge, she would usually find two or three pieces of the worst flavors left in there, surrounded by a plethora of wrappers. And those three would usually have their bottoms bitten off by yours truly.

Oops.

So, in honor of my husbands favorite flavor (honest; I haven’t eaten any yet *coughcough*), I made a loaf cake that mingles the two, but with the added bonus (totally thought of myself and my favorite coffee drink here) of making the chocolate part mocha flavored. I tried marbling it for looks, but for some odd reason, I’ve never had a lot of luck with marbling (bad butter knife skills? 😛 ) so it looks more layers, but I rather like it that way.

This isn’t in your face with either flavor; the chocolaty mocha part has a subtle flavor with a touch of orange itself from the orange oil I added and the orange part is also subtle. If you want more in your face from the flavors, add about an extra 1/2 teaspoon of orange oil to the orange part and you could probably get away with adding about 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips and a touch more coffee powder to the chocolate part.  This is a nice simple, old fashioned loaf cake, perfect for an after school snack for the kiddos if they like a more sophisticated flavor, perfect with your morning cup of coffee or for a light dessert.

You know the drill… 🙂

By the way, I really adore all of you! <3

Chocolaty Orange Mocha Snack Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream (can sub a nice thick Greek yogurt if it makes you happy)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (or the amount that you can get from one medium orange)
  • 3/4 teaspoon orange oil, divided (you can sub orange extract, but the oil is infinitely better)
  • 2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder ( baked goods such as this are a good reason to keep a small jar of instant coffee around- it lasts forever)
  • Glaze and garnish-
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • orange zest or strips
  • chocolate shavings (I used a bitter sweet bar with almonds because it was all I had, but I actually liked the way the shaved almonds added a bit of texture and crunch to the top)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and either grease and flour a 9 inch loaf pan or spray well with one of the flour/oil combo baking sprays. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. After the last egg is added, continue beating at medium speed for a minute or two.
  3.  Add in the flour mixture and just barely mix it in. Add in the sour cream. This is a thick batter, so no, you didn’t do anything wrong.
  4. Move half of the batter to another medium bowl. To that half, add in 1/2 teaspoon of the orange oil and the orange zest. Mix just until combined.
  5. To the remaining batter, add the melted chocolate, the last 1/4 teaspoon of orange oil and the coffee powder. Mix just until combined.
  6. Spoon half of the orange batter into the prepared loaf pan. Spoon half of the chocolate batter on top of that. Repeat those layers once. Use a butter knife to dig down in there and swirl the batter together, then smooth the top. Hopefully, your mad swirling skills are better than mine 😀 Smooth the top of the batter.
  7. Bake at 350 until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Cover the top loosely with foil if it starts to get too brown at the edges before it is fully baked.
  8. Let cool in the pan set on a rack set over a rimmed baking pan for about ten minutes, then carefully invert it out onto your hand, then back onto the rack to finish cooling.
  9. During the ten minutes it is in the pan, make your glaze which is easy peasy. Just combine the 1/3 cup orange juice and 2 tablespoons sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for about a minute; just long enough to dissolve the sugar.
  10. Brush the glaze over the hot cake.
  11. When the cake is completely cool, garnish with shaved chocolate and orange zest.

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Chocolaty Orange Mocha Snack Cake

Chocolaty Orange Mocha Snack Cake

RumChata Tres Leches Cake With A Creamy Cinnamon Mascarpone Topping

RumChata Tres Leches Cake With A Creamy Cinnamon Mascarpone Topping 2

*Stands up at the front of the room and clears my throat* Hi there. My name is Janet and I’m a slacker. I mean, how else can I explain away an absence of almost a month? Sure, I could give you a line (truthful though it may be) about being under the weather in recent weeks. I could say that life has been busy, which it has. No one with a seven year old, other kids, a spouse and a household to care for can deny that one. But none of that is good enough. Had I really TRIED, I could have found the time and energy to post here. You ladies and gentlemen deserve nothing less than my all. In my defense, I made something (a chocolate/peanut butter bundt cake) about a week ago that I was going to post, but it turned out so badly even the kids didn’t like it. So no go. I won’t post less than delicious foods.
But I’m back. You can now be frightened. :-p
It’s been an interesting few weeks. Lots of snow, missed school days due to said snow because we live in the south, lots of cussing when the fire goes out in the house and we start to freeze to death (I died four time during the last month, but then my husband remade the fire and revived me. 😀 My toes, however, are still frozen.) and many moments of “The Momma” (that would be me) verging on insanity when no one could go outside and I got no alone time.
So what am I back with on this snowy Valentines Day? Well, anyone who likes sweet foods has heard of Tres Leches Cake, correct? It is a sponge cake that is soaked in three different types of milk. Theories abound as to where it originated, but generally, it is seen as a treat stemming from South and Central America. While I like the typical one just fine, I wanted to play with the soaking liquid a bit, so I used Rumchata in place of some of the milk.
About a year ago, I discovered the liqueur called RumChata. It’s a creamy liqueur based on Horchata, the delicious rice and milk beverage (the origins of horchata are also disputed, so I am so NOT going to get into where it came from) that is enjoyed in Mexico and has become a trendy drink in the states now, too. While we all know I tend to balk at trendiness, I bought an airplane sized bottle of the RumChata on a whim one day and absolutely loved it. I describe it as alcoholic liquid rice pudding. That is truly what it tastes like.
This cake is pretty darn easy. It’s a sponge cake, so yes, you have to separate your eggs and whips up the whites, but I have complete faith in your egg beating abilities. :-p Then all you do is whisk together the milks for the top, poke some holes in the cake and pour. Top it with the easily mixed together topping and voila, a delicious, somewhat boozy dessert (obviously just for the adults). This is the perfect treat to bring along to a book club, a dinner for adults (bring some cookies for the kids), and cut in half, makes enough for you and your sweetie with some left over. The original tres leches cake recipe that I adapted comes from Bon Appetit.
You know the drill… 🙂

RumChata Tres Leches Cake With A Creamy Cinnamon Mascarpone Topping

  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Rumchata
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • Mascarpone topping-
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup RumChata
  • Soaking liquid-
  • 1/2 cup RumChata
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks (save the rest for something like creme brulee)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13×9 inch pan, preferably glass.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
  3. In a large, scrupulously clean bowl, beat the egg whites at medium to high speed (I tend to start out lower and speed it up as they get firmer) until firm peaks form, about 6 minutes or so.
  4. Gradually add in the sugar, beating well. Then add in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition..Mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture, alternating it with the 1/2 cup RumChata, starting and ending with the flour (flour, Rumchata, flour, Rumchata, flour).
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  7. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 and continue baking until the cake is golden brown and the center springs back if gently pressed.
  8. Let it cool in the pan for ten minutes, then invert it onto a rack that has been placed over a rimmed cookie or baking sheet.
  9. Whisk together the milk ingredients. Poke holes all over the cake using a skewer and pour about half of the liquid slowly over the top of the cake. Let that soak in for ten minutes.Invert the cake over a large platter and drizzle the rest of the milks over the top of the cake.
  10. For the topping, simply beat together those ingredients until creamy. Dust the cake with powdered sugar, slice and serve with a dollop of the creamy topping.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

RumChata Tres Leches Cake With A Creamy Cinnamon Mascarpone Topping