Saturday, December 29, 2007

Double Chocolate Mocha Brownie Trifle

Man oh Man! This dessert is so yummy! If you like brownies and will love this! This recipe comes from Pampered Chef. It is very simple to whip together and tastes great the next day too. Also, it serves alot of people which is always a good thing for parties!
What You'll Need:
1 package brownie mix
1 3/4 cups cold milk
2 packages white chocolate instant pudding
1/4 cup warm water
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping
3 toffee bars (or buy toffee bits)
What You'll Do:
Lightly spray 9" X 13" pan with vegetable oil. Prep and bake brownie mix according to cake-like package directions. (This usually means adding an extra egg.) Cool completely.

Whisk pudding mix into milk until mixture begins to thicken. Dissolve coffee granules in warm water; add to pudding mixture, mixing well. Fold in whipped topping.
Cut brownies into 1-inch cubes. Chop toffee bars. Layer 1/3 of brownie cubes onto bottom of trifle bowl. Top with 1/3 of pudding mixture, pressing lightly, and 1/3 of shopped toffee. Repeat layers two more times. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

This recipe was given to me by Bridellie on It comes from She described these cookies as the best and easiest she had ever made, and I think I must agree! I had all of the ingredients needed, so no special trip to the store was necessary. I undercooked them just a bit because I like cookies to be a little gooey inside and chewy on the outside. This recipe makes over 50 I only baked half and left the other half of the dough in the fridge to bake later. Anyway, is there really anything better than a spoonful of cookie dough? I think not!
What You'll Need:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups white chocolate chips
What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
Fold in the white chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are set.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lasagne with Bechamel and Ragu

I combined several different lasagna recipes to come up with this one. I much prefer a lasagna with a bechemel sauce rather than one with ricotta and cottage cheese. It is much creamier and is more authentic Itlaian in my opinion. In the past, I have made homemade meat sauce for lasagna, but in this one I just used some ground round and a jar of tomato sauce (I like Bertolli Organic, Olive Oil, Basil and Garlic) to make it much faster and easier. The pictures above show the steps involved (layer of noodles with bechemel, layer of meat sauce, layer of cheese) but I forgot to take a picture of it after it was cooked. Oops! This lasagna can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or even frozen. It makes alot so it's great for a large group too!
What You'll Need:
12 lasagne noodles
1 Lb. ground round
1 jar good tomato sauce
2-3 Tbs. white wine
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups grated parmesean
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
More salt & pepper, to taste
Butter, oil, or spray to coat dish
What You'll Do:
Set at least 5 quarts of water in a large pot over high heat. When it comes to a boil, salt it. Cook lasagne noodles for about 5 minutes. They should be underdone...they will finish cooking in the oven. You do not want them to be mushy. Drain the noodles, then spread them out and allow to rest on paper towels while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
To make the meat sauce: Cook meat over medium until browned. Drain. Add tomato sauce to the meat. Pour the white wine into the jar, swish, and pour into pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
To make the Bechamel: In medium saucepan, melt butter over med-lo heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes until smooth and golden. Whisk in milk, broth, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. The sauce should be thick enough to cover the back of a will thicken more as it sits.
To assemble: Prepare glass casserole dish by smearing some butter, oil, or spray on the bottom. Place a layer of noodles (3 noodles if you are using a 9 X 13 dish) , touching but not overlapping. Cover the noodles with about 1/4 each of the bechamel, meat sauce, mozzarella, parmesean, and a sprinkling of black pepper (also salt if you feel it needs more). Make four layers, ending with parmesean. (Make sure no noodles are left on top without being completely covered in sauces and cheeses or they will get hard on the edges.)
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, until lasagne is bubbly. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lemon Squares

This recipe was suggested to me by Katie
on the What's Cooking Board on It comes from the Williams Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert. These are probably the most declicious lemon bars I've ever eaten! They are very lemony and tart. One bar is the perfect ending to any dinner!

What You'll Need:
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. heavy cream

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

What You'll Do:
To make the crust, preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish, preferably glass. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse briefly until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs and sticks together when pinched, about 1 minute. There should be no trace of dryness. Press the dough into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared baking dish, lightly flouring your fingertips if necessary to prevent them from sticking. Bake the crust until pale golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the filling, in a bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Add the eggs, lemon juice and cream and whisk until just blended. Carefully pour the mixture over the baked crust.

Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly when the dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to the wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Run the tip of a small knife along the inside of the dish to loosen the crust from the sides, then let cool completely.

Cut into 12 small rectangles. Using a spatula, carefully remove the bars from the dish. Just before serving, sift a dusting of confectioners sugar over the bars. Makes 12 bar cookies.

Taco Chili

Taco Soup is so good when it's cold outside. And, I love the fact that I usually have all the ingredients on hand and can just throw it all together in a matter of minutes. You can let it cook in a crock pot for hours or just cook it on the stove for about 30 minutes. I serve it with sour cream, shredded cheese and fritos.
What You'll Need:
1 lb. ground beef (I use round)
1 onion, chopped
1 can chili beans
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn, drained
1 can rotel
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
What You'll Do:
Sautee the onion in a little oil.
Add the meat and brown.
Drain the meat.
Add all other ingredients and cook on Med to Med-Hi for about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

This recipe makes alot! This is a great dish to make for a crowd and it freezes well too. The sausage gives it great flavor... and, of course, all that cheese makes it so delicious! The tomato sauce couldn't be easier to throw together and can be made days in advance, if needed. I found this recipe on

What You'll Need:
(For the tomato sauce)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet and or spicy Italian sausages, casing removed and crumbled
1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree, (one 28-ounce can), roughly chopped
Sprig fresh thyme
Sprig fresh basil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
(For the Rest)
1 pound dried ziti pasta
Kosher salt
1 pound fresh mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes

What you'll Do:
Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain.
Sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Use now or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Toss the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce, cubed mozzarella, half the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Transfer the pasta to an oiled 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Cover the top of the pasta with the sliced mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.