Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Date Squares

I'm back! I know you have all missed me. (haha!) I have a handful of tasty recipes that are husband approved to share. I must apologize for by absence as the last few weeks have just flown by!

Today I bring you a recipe for Date Squares. After leaving Costco with a tub of dates, I knew immediately that I wanted to bake something with them. I scoured a bunch of recipes but never really found one that would be AWESOME. Then I turned to my faithful King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. Goodness, I adore that book. Well, they had a recipe for date squares, but alas it also wasn't quite what I wanted. What is a girl to do? Make up her own recipe! And here we are. :)

These bars are sweet, crumbly and everything that is good in the world. With my constant need to snack (34 weeks tomorrow) I wanted something that was at least somewhat good for me. These don't have a whole lot of sugar, so I do let myself feel good about eating them. :) Plus! The crumbly yumminess consists largely of flour and oats. Good things, indeed.

Date Squares
recipe by me!

4 c. (loosely filled- no cramming!) chopped dates
1 c. water
1/2 c. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbl. lemon juice

Crumbly Crust:
2 c. oats
2 c. flour (all purpose or whole wheat or combo)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
pinch of salt
2 sticks of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your baking dish. (I used a 7.5" x 11.75" pan- but a 9x13 will work in a pinch- may need a little less time baking)
To make our filling, combine all filling ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to distribute everything evenly. Once it reaches a boil, turn down the heat so that it is just simmering. Stir occasionally until all of the liquid seems to be sucked up and you have a lovely glob of sticky dates. Set aside to cool while making the crust.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the first six ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour the butter over the dry ingredients and gently stir with a fork. Think about how you toss a salad, coming from the bottom of the bowl and moving up, gently. We don't want one huge chunk, but rather streusel consistency where all of the dry ingredients seem to be moistened.
Dump half of the crust into your greased pan and press into an even layer across the bottom. Spread the date filling over the bottom crust, evenly. Now sprinkle the remaining crust over top the dates. Do not press this layer down. It ensures a tasty crumbly top!
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is turning golden (a little less for those 9x13 pans!). Once done baking, let cool for a little while before cutting into it so that it doesn't all fall apart completely. I was able to wait an hour. That gave it time to firm up a little, but still was warm and gooey. Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Snicker Cookies

As anyone who knows me can probably say, I love dessert.It is no wonder why most of my posts are about the sweeter things in the culinary world.
So this recipe comes from my mom's kitchen. She makes these cookies at Christmas time for her friends and our family. From my experience, everyone that has ever tried them, loves them. And you will soon see why.
I decided to make them this time of year because I needed a special dessert for an event. Cookies this good shouldn't just come once a year.

Snicker Cookies
(honestly don't remember where my mom found the recipe- from an ad?)

2 sticks butter (softened)
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 package (about 13 or so ounces) Snickers Brand Miniatures, unwrapped
1c. chocolate chips

Combine the first four ingredients until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Then mix in the vanilla.
In another bowl combine the flour with the salt and baking soda. Mix this into the butter mixture just until combined. Cover the dough and chill for at least a couple hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge and scoop out about a tablespoon at a time. Take a piece of dough and form a ball around a Snickers with it. I ended up using more like a tablespoon and a half for each cookie, my personal preference. Repeat until all of the dough or all of the candy is gone.
Place the balls on a greased cookie sheet a good inch and a half to two inches apart because they will spread. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 10 to 12 minutes or until they have begun to look dry and firm. Let them cool for 3 to 5 minutes on the baking rack before moving to a cooling rack to completely cool off. If they don't get to sit on the rack, they will just crumble. (Not always bad since you can just eat the pieces as you go)
Melt your chocolate chips, if desired and drizzle over the cookies.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Innkeeper Pie

So far in my pregnancy I haven't had too many strong cravings. One thing that I have always had and continue to work with is my sweet tooth. I love dessert. I love being able to make dessert at home for myself, my husband and for friends and family.
One such dessert that is pretty easy to put together and tastes amazing is this Innkeeper Pie. It comes from a cookbook my mom has. I have been making it for years and can't remember exactly where it hails from. I think a Hershey's cookbook?
Anyways. This dessert is a pie and a cake. Together. In all of the best ways possible. I thoroughly enjoy it, and so did my husband.

Innkeeper Pie
(from a Hershey's cookbook?)

1 pie crust- homemade or store bought
2/3 c. sugar + 3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 c. water
1/3 c. butter
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. shortening (I like plain ol Crisco)
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1/2 c. shopped nuts (pecans or walnuts work best, I think)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, stir together 2/3 c. of the sugar, the cocoa powder and the water. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and 1 1/2 tsp. of the vanilla until both are fully incorporated. Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, the remaining 3/4 c. sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the shortening, milk and remaining 1 tsp. of vanilla. Stir just until combined. Add in the egg and mix well to combine.
Spoon the batter into the prepared crust. Stir the chocolate mixture a bit and gently pour over the cake batter. Sprinkle the nuts over top the whole thing. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and dry. Cool slightly and enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coffee BBQ Rub

Grilling season is upon us. At least it is here, in California. I just graduated college last week and am working on a couple projects that need to be finished this month. Otherwise I have been having more free time.
My pregnancy cravings vary from day to day. I wouldn't even call them all "cravings" really. It's more of what sounds tasty versus what gives me the dry heeves (spelling?). Grilling has been a great way to get some flavors I haven't had a ton of lately (although let's face it, I married the BBQ master and he grills any month of the year).
For our first meal cooked entirely on the grill, hubby made shish-a-bobs. Well, I strung them up and he cooked them. My mom used to make these a lot and I LOVE the marinade she used. So I called my parents house to realize I didn't have all of the ingredients nor the time to marinate the meat. I was hungry NOW. Not later. :)
Plan B was to find a nice rub for the meat. I whipped up a rub loosely inspired by one I saw in a recent Woman's Day magazine and it was delicious. I really had no idea that I could play with flavors like this so well. I consider myself more of a sweet tooth. And you will see that it totally shines through in my rub. :D
I don't have a name for it (yet). But I wanted to share it amyways. Any name ideas are more than welcome!


2 tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground coffee
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Combine everything and rub it on the meat. This recipe doesn't create much, so scale it up if necessary.
It's really nice to let the rub sit on the meat for a half hour or so in the fridge before cooking if you have the time. Then grill it up! Enjoy!

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Tasty Tuesday! at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Super Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Last week I wanted to make pineapple upside down cake as a thank you to some people for taking care of my rabbits. I had some pineapple slices in the fridge leftover, but not a whole lot of butter.
My usual recipe calls for a homemade yellow cake, which is very delicious. But I found an easier (and much faster) way to make a very delicious cake that tastes homemade.

Super Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 can sliced pineapple in juice(or freshly sliced pineapple)
1 box yellow cake mix + all the stuff to prepare it
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to whatever the cake box recommends.
Combine the butter and brown sugar until fully incorporated. Spread evenly on the bottom of 2 9-inch round cake pans or 1 9x13inch cake pan that has been lightly greased. (I would avoid 8inch rounds because they don't hold as much volume as the 9inch ones do, so your cake would probably overflow.)
Prepare the cake mix as directed, except also mix in the cinnamon. With this step, you could easily substitute some of the water needed for the cake mix with some of the pineapple juice if you are using canned pineapple.
Lightly pat the pineapple pieces dry and arrange them however you like on the bottom of the pan(s). Try to keep them from touching so cake can ooze between all of the pieces. If you are making a 9x13, you could easily use a whole can of pineapple, but with the round pans not as much will be needed.
*I like to slice the pineapple rings in half and circle them around the round cake pans that way. When I use a 9x13 pan, I like to keep the rings whole.
Divide your cake batter between the pans, being careful to pour in slowly to not displace the pineapple. Bake as directed on the cake mix box. Once done, let sit on the counter for about 5-10 minutes to partially set, then invert onto your serving tray or plate. If the cake cools completely in the pan, removing it later will be much more difficult and less pretty.
Serve it as is, or with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's been a while!

Hello everybody! I know it's been awhile since I have posted anything. It has been in part due to my serious lack of cooking these last few weeks. I have family in town from out of state- so my mom and aunt have been making bulk of the meals. I just eat. :)
Earlier this month one of my rabbits developed an abcess in his mouth and required surgery and daily care to heal up from that. He is healing up from the sugery, but still requires twice daily antibiotics to fight off any bacteria that want to make his mouth a home. So much bad stuff for such a good little bunny!
This is also the end of my semester, thus the bigger projects are due around now.
It has definitely been one crazy month! Please stick with me- as all of the hub-bub dies down I am hoping to get back into the swing of things.
On a side note! If anyone wants to guest post a delicious recipe (dessert or something to go along with the weather warming up) please shoot me an email. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cranberry Orange Scones

Hello everybody! I am finally back with a recipe. And boy is it a good one. First, I thought I would explain a little bit of where I have been.
I have been sick as everybody knows. And I think it's starting to clear up because I can taste again. Haha. However, I was a different kind of sick before this head congestion thing struck. Good ol morning sickness. That's right! Hubby and I are going to have a baby! While m/s was kicking my butt, I didn't do much cooking and wasn't interested in lots of food I usually am- so I didn't really feel qualified to write any food related posts. Well now I am on the track back thanks to food cravings (and less aversions, thank God).
Lately I had been thinking about making something with the dried cranberries in my cupboard. Then the other day while spending time with a friend at a coffee shop, the barista was passing out samples of cranberry orange scones. Yum. I've had these before and they are totally one of my favorite scones. Okay, cranberry orange scones it is.

This morning I began searching for a good reciple- preferably one that I already had all of the ingredients for. Then there it was. I had everything it needed in my kitchen. It was go time. I followed the recipe exactly. There really was no need to deviate from such a simple recipe. Glad I didn't because boy are those scones yummy! And they are literally fresh from my oven right now. I just finished eating my first scone while writing this paragraph. :)

Cranberry Orange Scones
recipe by Brown Eyed Baker

1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 1/2 c. + 2 tbl. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt (I forgot to add this since I was hungry for some scones and in hurry!)
3/4 c. dried cranberries
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbl. melted butter
some more granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silpat baking mat.
With your fingers, rub together the granulated sugar and the orange zest in a large bowl until everything is all nice and incorporated.
Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together thoroughly. Mix in the cranberries.
Add the heavy cream and stir until combined. Lightly knead the dough on a lightly floured surface just until everything is combined. Too much kneading leads to a stiff and less light and fluffy scone.
Now you can pat the dough into a 8-inch circle and cut said circle into 8 even wedges. Place the wedges on the baking mat a couple inches apart. I like the look of round scones (that then puff out with the rigid edges) so I divided my dough into 8 portions and formed them into slightly flattened balls and placed them on the baking sheet.
Brush the tops of the scones with the melted butter and lightly sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until they have puffed and are starting to gain a light golden brown color.
Allow to cool on a baking rack and enjoy. Yumm!!

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