Monday, November 28, 2011

Fudge Mint Brownies

Fudge Mint Brownies
Recipe from: here

Brownie Layer~
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 oz. dark chocolate (apx. 80% cocoa, or use half unsweetened and half bittersweet)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mint Layer~
3 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or 1/4 teaspoon creme de menthe and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint)
1 drop green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze~
3 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (apx. 70 % cocoa)
1 Tablespoon butter
Andes Mints (apx. 1/2 package, or 14 whole pieces, about 2.5 oz.), chopped (I used Andes Mints baking bits! Saved time!! And they were cheaper!)

Preheat oven to 325*F. Prepare a 9"x9" (or 8"x8") square baking pan by lining parchment paper across the bottom and sides of the pan, like a sling. You can use a little butter on the pan to help the paper stay in place.

In a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water (or double boiler), melt the butter and chocolate.
Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a spoon. Stir in flour and salt and beat with a spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy (about 1 minute). Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until brownies start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely (about 1 hour).

Mint Layer~
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all ingredients until smooth. Add 1 or two drops of green food coloring (one at a time, you don't want it too green). If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more cream (the frosting should be just thin enough to spread). Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes, or until slightly firm.

Chocolate Glaze~
In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the mint filling, then top with chopped Andes mints. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate glaze starts to dull.

To Serve~
Remove brownies from the pan by lifting the ends of the parchment paper, and transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into apx. 1-1 1/2 inch squares. For best results, rinse off the knife in hot water, then wipe dry after each cut.

Brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, best served at room temperature.
Makes about 25-30 small squares.

Our verdict: HEAVEN! I made these for Thanksgiving and they were incredible! They aren't a quick brownie...although I'm sure you could make from mix brownies and then just make the mint frosting and chocolate glaze. But that wouldn't be as amazing. They were dense and rich and heavenly.

No-Bake Energy Bites

No-Bake Energy Bites
Recipe from: here

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Our verdict: These are like crack! SOOOOO good!! I have lots of ideas for variations, with dried fruit and stuff - but we LOVED these! :) I need to make another batch, asap!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle
Recipe from Taste of Home
  • 1 fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size)
  • 1 package (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
  • 2 packages (13 ounces each) miniature peanut butter cups
  • 4 cups cold 2% milk
  • 2 packages (5.1 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cartons (8 ounces each) frozen whipped topping, thawed


  • Prepare brownie batter according to package directions; stir in peanut butter chips. Bake in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack; cut into 3/4-in. pieces.
  • Cut peanut butter cups in half; set aside 1/3 cup for garnish. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Add peanut butter and vanilla; mix well. Fold in 1-1/2 cartons whipped topping.
  • Place a third of the brownies in a 5-qt. glass bowl; top with a third of the remaining peanut butter cups. Spoon a third of the pudding mixture over the top. Repeat layers twice. Cover with remaining whipped topping; garnish with reserved peanut butter cups. Refrigerate until chilled. Yield: 20 servings (1 cup each).

Our Verdict - OH MY WORD, this is amazing!! I have made it several times and it's always delicious and always a hit! It's really rich, but just so amazing! I don't bother with the peanut butter chips in the brownies. This does make a HUGE trifle.

Chicken Lettuce Cups

Chicken Lettuce Cups
Recipe from Taste of Home
  • 1 packet stir-fry seasoning powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced water chestnuts
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce (inner leaves only), or 2 heads of butter lettuce and /or radicchio
  • For garnish: Mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts


  • In a small bowl, combine stir-fry seasoning, water, soy sauce, lime
  • juice and sugar. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken meat and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook until browned, about 10
  • minutes. Add red bell pepper, water chestnuts, scallions and red
  • pepper flakes and cook 5 minutes. Stir in reserved stir-fry seasoning mixture. Cook until liquid evaporates, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve in lettuce cups garnished with mint, cilantro, bean sprouts and chopped peanuts. Yield: serves 6 to 8.

Our verdict: AWESOME!! I've made these for a couple of get-togethers/parties and they are always a big hit! We love them - and actually think they have better flavor than the lettuce wraps at PF Changs!! I haven't made them in awhile...I think I'm going to have to make them soon!! :)

Zesty Penne with Sausage and Peppers

Zesty Penne with Sausage and Peppers
Recipe from Taste of Home
  • 3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 each green and red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tsp. fennel seed
  • Dash crushed red pepper
  • 4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese


  • Cook pasta as directed on package.
  • Meanwhile, crumble sausage into large skillet; cook and stir on medium heat 8 min. or until done. Drain. Add bell peppers; cook and stir 5 min. or until crisp-tender. Stir in next 3 ingredients; cook 5 min. or until heated through. Add cream cheese; cook 2 min. or until melted, stirring frequently.
  • Drain pasta. Add to sausage mixture; mix lightly. Top with Parmesan. Yield: 4 servings, 2 cups each.

Our verdict - Good. Nothing spectacular, but it was good. The sausage gave it good flavor. I didn't have a jar of spaghetti sauce, so I used tomato sauce and added seasonings. This was easy and good.

Sweet Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup

Sweet Apple Pancakes with Cider Syrup Recipe from Taste of Home


  • 2 cups complete pancake mix
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup grated apple
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup apple cider or juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • In a small bowl, stir the pancake mix, water, apple and cinnamon just until moistened.
  • Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until second side is golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, for syrup, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in cider until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Stir in butter and lemon juice. Serve with pancakes. Yield: 12 pancakes (1-1/4 cups syrup).

Our Verdict:

SOOOO yummy! This was a great fall breakfast! Really simple to make, but the cider syrup made it absolutely delicious! Note to self - make these again soon!!

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Recipe from here
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/3 c. flour (I used 1 c. whole wheat)
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. butter

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into greased muffin tins (or paper-lined tins).

For Streusel: Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12-18 muffins.

Our Verdict: Well, we love muffins. :) I alternate between this and one other blueberry muffin recipe as my go-to recipes for blueberry muffins. They're great with fresh or frozen berries. I like being able to use whole wheat flour in my baking, and so often with muffins and quick breads I will substitute at least part of the flour with whole wheat.