Friday, January 27, 2012

S'mores Cookies Recipe

One of my favorite summer pastimes is sitting by an outdoor fire with family and friends.  The cool summer night, the warmth from the fire and the smell of the smoke just makes for a perfect setting.  Can you tell it is the middle of winter in New England and I am dreaming of the summer?!?!  S’mores, aside from ice cream, are one of my favorite summertime treats.  But why only enjoy the amazing flavor combination of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow in the summer?  These cookies can easily be made year round and make you feel like you are sitting fireside. 


S'mores Cookies Recipe
Recipe from What Megan’s Making
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.
Preheat oven to 375o

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
4 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
1)   I couldn’t find graham cracker crumbs in my grocery store, so I just picked up some whole graham crackers and used my food processor to turn them into a fine crumb.
2)   These are one of Bill’s favorite cookies, so make them often because your family and friends will be asking for them!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cranberry White Chocolate Baked French Toast Recipe

One of my favorite parts of grocery shopping is walking by the bakery section and smelling all of the fresh baked bread.  I have very, very, very little self restraint when it comes to bread.  So I find myself bringing home a large loaf of fresh baked French bread for just Bill and I.  Even for me this is a lot of bread for two people.  It is always amazing the day of, but I have a difficult time keeping it fresh over the next few days.  So I came up with this baked French toast recipe to use up my day old bread. 

Baked French toast is delicious and less hassle than making typical French toast.  Just throw it all into a baking dish, let it sit over night and then put it in the oven.  Baked French toasts are perfect for a brunch as it allows you to enjoy your time with your guests while the oven does all of the work, but you end up with the flavors of a French toast.  Feel free to mix up the cranberries and white chocolate with any other flavors that you enjoy. 

Cranberry White Chocolate Baked French Toast Recipe
Preheat oven to 350o

1/2 loaf French bread, day old and cut into chunks
4 eggs
2/3 cup milk (I used Skim)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chip chunks

Place the French bread chunks into an 8X8 baking dish. 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread.  Next, sprinkle the cranberries and white chocolate chunks over the bread egg mixture.  If necessary, use a spoon and stir the bread so that it is evenly coated with the egg mixture.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  When ready, bake for 25-30 minutes until top is golden brown.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cilantro Crusted Steak Recipe

I wanted to follow up with a recipe from the “Chopped” Challenge that Bill and I completed the other week.  Our “Chopped” Challenge is explained here.  I am always amazed at how quickly the chefs on the Food Network show “Chopped” can develop a game plan and create beautifully cohesive plates in such a short period of time with a strange arrangement of ingredients.  As mentioned before, Bill challenged me with cilantro, steak and Boursin cheese spread.  Here is one of the elements of my plate that I came up with, cilantro crusted steak.

Cilantro Crusted Steak Recipe
1 bunch of cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Steak of your choice

Cut cilantro off the stems and place into food processor.  Add cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Pulse the mixture until finely chopped into a paste.  Slowly stream in 2 teaspoons of olive oil into the cilantro paste mixture while food processor is on.

Heat your grill pan or outdoor grill.  Season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper.  Spread half of the cilantro mixture onto one side of the steak in a thick layer.  Place cilantro side down onto your grill pan and now spread the remaining cilantro onto the side facing up.  Cook your steak to your preference.  I enjoy medium, so I cooked it for about 8 minutes before flipping to cook on the other side for another 8 minutes.

Remove steak from grill pan and allow to rest on a plate to allow the juices to settle.  Slice and enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars Recipe

These apple streusel bars are delicious! They are the perfect combination of apple pie, cheesecake and oatmeal cookies packed into a little flavorful bar.  Don’t they sound delicious?!?!  You will thank me later when you taste them for yourself.  These bars went very quickly in my house.  They have apples in them so they are healthy, right?  An apple a day keeps the doctor away, even if it is surrounded by sugar and cream cheese? 

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars Recipe
Recipe modified from Betty Crocker
Preheat Oven to 350o F

3 large apples, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup butter
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, mix sliced apples with cinnamon and brown sugar.  Set aside to allow the flavors to meld together.

Place cookie mix in large bowl. With a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and coarse. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture; press remaining crumbs in bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, flour, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over partially baked crust.  Next layer the cinnamon sugar coated apples evenly over the cream cheese.  Finally, sprinkle reserved crumbs over top. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Cool about 30 minutes. Refrigerate to chill, about 2 hours. To cut the bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

1)  I used Cortland apples, but Granny Smiths, Macintosh or your favorite apple will work just as well.
2)  Pecans in place of walnuts would be just as delicious.
3)  Keeping up with my New Year's resolution, I used low-fat cream cheese :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Chopped" Challenge

I love watching "Chopped" on the Food Network. The show airs on Tuesdays at 10PM EST, but there are re-runs on all the time.  If you have never seen the show and you love watching food challenges then I would suggest you tune in.  Each episode showcases the creativity and imaginations in the chefs who are challenged to use mystery ingredients, all with different flavor profiles, to develop a delicious and cohesive plate.

The show features 4 up-and-coming chefs who are ready to battle it out and make amazing dishes that wow the 3 "Chopped" judges.  The format of the show consists of 3 elimination rounds; appetizer, entree and dessert. All four contestants start with the appetizer round, where they are given matching baskets containing 3 to 4 mystery ingredients.  On top of having mystery ingredients that must be used in the course, they only have 30 minutes per round to plan and cook delicious food.  The chefs also have access to a huge pantry of additional ingredients they can also use in their dishes.  Once finishing each round, the chefs are sent to the judges table to listen to praise and criticisms.  Together the judges come to an agreement of who wasn't up to par in that round and the weakest link is "Chopped".  Then the remaining 3 contestants make their way into the entree round where it starts all over again.  They continue this same way through the dessert round until a "Chopped" winner is crowned.

I am always amazed at how quickly these amazing chefs can jump into action with the random mystery ingredients and create a dish in such a short amount of time.  I asked my husband if he would want to join me in our own "Chopped" challenge this past weekend and, he accepted the proposal.  Because it was just the two of us, and we had no judges, we adjusted our rules slightly to make it work.  

Our " 'Chopped' House Rules"
1) This was going to take place over a course of two days as only one person was cooking at a time. We really weren't completing against each other.
2) We each drew out of a hat to select either Dinner or Lunch Course
3) I drew Dinner, so Bill selected my 3 mystery ingredients and I selected his 3 Lunch ingredients for the next day.
4) The 3 mystery ingredients had to consist of 1 meat, 1 vegetable and 1 wild card item
5) We can use any pantry ingredients that are in the house
6) We had 60 minutes to plan our meal, cook and serve
7) No cookbooks, Google search, Food Blogs etc. could be used. Everything had to come from our own knowledge.
8) Have FUN!!!

I am so glad that we came up with this, because it was a HUGE success! We both came up with great dishes and finished under our time limit.  So we will probably adjust the rules next time.

The 3 mystery ingredients in my basket were Top Round Steak, Cilantro and Boursin Cheese spread! Initially I thought of grilling the steak and serving a Boursin cheese sauce on top, but I had no plan for the cilantro.  So I decided to change up my plans and boy am I glad I did!  I ended up making a Cilantro Crusted Steak accompanied by Boursin Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Grape Tomatoes!  Sounds delicious, huh?  I thought so too.  I am very impressed with our first challenge.  Next time we both decided to select ingredients that are a bit more difficult to make it even more challenging. 

I challenge you to take on the mystery ingredients basket!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Low-Fat Blueberry Scones Recipe

I love scones.  They are probably one of my favorite pastries.  They are perfect for breakfast, a snack and accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee.  They are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  They are a versatile pastry where they can be sweet or savory.  Plus, the flavor combinations that can be used in scones is limitless. 

Today, I have decided to make blueberry scones.  I am starting to get the winter blues and craving all of the sweet fruits that are associated with summer.  Our local grocery store had some plump blueberries, so I decided to take my chances with the off-season fruit, and I am glad I did!  Theses scones definitely helped to fill my void of fresh summer fruits. 

I found this scone recipe on  This blog is amazing.  The author of the blog posts low-fat versions of everyone’s favorites recipes and also includes the Weight Watcher points if you are on that diet.  And since it is the start of the year and many of us have New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, I thought this would be a perfect first post for 2012. 

Low-Fat Blueberry Scones
Recipe from
Preheat Oven 400o

2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 (half stick) cup frozen butter
3/4 cups light buttermilk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries

Over a large bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients together.  Next, using the holes of a cheese grater, grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients.  Mix the butter in well with the dry ingredients.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk in the buttermilk, egg and vanilla.

Using a fork, slowly stir in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Combine the ingredients together until the well mixed, but do not over mix.  Next, fold in the blueberries.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Drop 8 large spoonfuls of batter onto the cookie sheet.  Bake on the center rack for 18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

1) Don't forget, you don't need to run out and buy buttermilk because you can make your own.  Mix 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before use.
2) Feel free to use your favorite fruits in this recipe; strawberries, apples, etc. 
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