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Tag Archives: recipe

Smoky BBQ Pulled Chicken

3 Jul

Is anyone else in disbelief that the Fourth of July is already upon us?  In these midwestern parts, it seems to have jumped straight from winter’s end to Independence Day.  The kids are beyond ecstatic that tomorrow is the day they get to stay up waayy past dark.  All bright eyed, and mesmerized under the night sky ablaze with vibrant fireworks.  We’ll pay for it the following morning, but we gotta live life on the edge once in awhile 😉

Smoky BBQ Pulled Chicken

Like countless others, we’ll be firing up the grill and everything else that comes with an outdoor BBQ splurge.  With the welcome sunshine comes the motivation of cooking our grub mostly sans oven.  We plan on pulling out the Brown Sugar Baked Beans and maybe our favorite Red Potato Salad Ranch Salad without mayo!

Smoky BBQ Pulled Chicken 2

This Smoky BBQ Pulled Chicken is one of my favorite ways to add to the cookout feast.  No oven and no competing for grill space.  This pulled chicken, like our no-fail Perfect Pulled Pork, is fully done up in the slow cooker.  Yes.  It could not be easier.  Toss it all in your slow cooker, let it go carefree, and voila!  You’re rewarded with the most flavorful, tender, juicy, and barbeque-y pulled chicken.  Chicken that’s sweet, savory, tangy, and smoky. On the bun, in a salad, or in a wrap.  This stuff is awesome.

Smoky BBQ Pulled Chicken 3

I love foods like this.  Super delicious, crowd pleasing, and incredibly easy.  I actually prep mine the night before, and just turn the slow cooker on the next morning.  I can focus on other things (i.e., the grill) and just a few hours later, we’ve got a mouthwatering dish of pulled chicken, hot and ready to serve up.  Does it get better than that?  We think you’ll love this Smoky BBQ Pulled Chicken.  It’s perfect for all those summer BBQ cookouts.

Happy 4th of July, Everyone!

Enjoy 🙂

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RECIPE (8-10 servings)

4 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs (breasts can be mixed with thighs, but thighs turn out more tender)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
5 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp table salt (fine)
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
6 TB packed brown sugar
2 tsp onion powder
2 TB worcestershire sauce
2+  cups Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ Sauce (my favorite choice; brand of sauce matters!)
1 – 1.5 TB liquid smoke
Buns or sandwich rolls to serve
Pickles to serve

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl.  Mix sauce ingredients well.  Sauce can be made well ahead of time and kept in fridge.  Thoroughly dry chicken pieces with paper towels.  Combine chicken with sauce and place in slow cooker.

Cook on high about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Carefully remove chicken from slow cooker with tongs.  Keep slow cooker lid on and keep sauce warm.  Pull chicken apart/shred with forks.  Return shredded chicken into slow cooker.  Toss well to make sure chicken is fully coated in sauce.  At this point, add bit more BBQ sauce if needed.  Cook on high another 30-45 minutes.  Turn down to warm setting, and keep warm until ready to serve.

Toast buns or sandwich rolls and serve with pickles, if desired.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

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Brown Sugar Baked Beans with Bacon

14 Jun

Here’s one of my favorite side dishes to take to summer potlucks and barbecues.  These brown sugar baked beans with bacon are beyond easy.  The kind of easy that seriously simplifies your day.  They are so yummy that I always make extra.  Because it’d be a bummer to run out of these sweet beans.

Brown Sugar BBQ Baked Beans 2

Everyone loves these savory yet sweet baked beans.  They will think you slaved in the kitchen all day, soaking and cooking those beans.  Little do they know that this bean dish took you about 3 minutes to assemble (yes, assemble) and just a bit of time in the oven.  Let’s not tell ’em the secret.

Brown Sugar BBQ Baked Beans 3

This perfect BBQ side dish consists of canned beans, brown sugar, and just enough real bacon to give it that extra yum factor.  This bean dish is a favorite side, as it’s sweet, salty, and a little bit smoky all at the same time.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to burgers, more burgers, chicken, or whatever you’re grillin’ up.  It’s awesome next to a super easy and delish potato salad.

Brown Sugar BBQ Baked Beans 4

Even my kids will eat up these baked beans, and kids aren’t known to be bean-a-holics.  People who aren’t bean fans will come back for more.  And it only takes a few minutes to get this dish on the table.  I seriously don’t know if I’ll ever be able to post another recipe with such teensy directions.  Happy cookout season.

Enjoy! 🙂

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BROWN SUGAR BAKED BEANS WITH BACON
(serves 15-20 side dishes)

INGREDIENTS

2 cans (29 oz each) of good quality baked beans (Bush’s Country Style is great)
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 TB brown sugar
2 tsp mustard powder
3 TB ketchup
2 TB onion powder or dried minced onion
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Set oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients, except for bacon, in a serving dish of your choice.  Stir to fully incorporate ingredients.  Sprinkle crumbled bacon evenly on top.  Cover and place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until dish is hot.  Serve warm.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Strawberry Icebox Cake (No Bake!)

10 Jun

I must have been hiding under a rock all these years, because I’ve only become familiar with icebox cakes this year.  I may be a late bloomer to this cool no-bake cake, but I’ve totally been making up for lost time.

Strawberry Icebox Cake 4

Yes, this yummy cake is absolutely bake-free.  The kitchen gets to stay cool for those warm summer days.  The time is ripe for sweet strawberries, and we are loving them right now.  We just had this delish Fresh Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and now this. This Strawberry Icebox Cake comes together beautifully, making for an impressive looking dessert for get-togethers.

Strawberry Icebox Cake

I love how easy this cake is to pull off!  Some assembly required.  Six ingredients.  That’s all it takes to wow your family and friends with this light, refreshing cake that has just the right amount of sweetness to it.  Not too sweet nor heavy.  Which means you can eat more of it.

Strawberry Icebox Cake 2

Yes.  You will totally eat more than just once slice.  This Strawberry Icebox Cake boasts two pounds of fresh strawberries, freshly whipped cream, and graham crackers that soften into an airy, cake-like texture as it rests overnight in the fridge.

Strawberry Icebox Cake 3

That’s another thing.  I’m the biggest fan of make-ahead food.  If I can make it ahead of time, it’s a done deal.  Less fuss on the day of the party is always, always a very good thing.  I’m already planning my next icebox cake flavor.

Enjoy this while fresh strawberries abound.

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STRAWBERRY ICEBOX CAKE (NO BAKE) 
Serves 8-12

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs fresh, sweet strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
20 oz graham crackers (about 24-28 whole crackers or 4 sleeves)

Simple ganache:
2 oz semi sweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

DIRECTIONS

In a large metal bowl, combine 3 cups heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.  Place entire bowl, plus beaters of electric mixer, into fridge for 10 minutes to chill.  On medium-high, beat heavy cream mixture until stiff peaks appear.

Spread a thin layer of the whipped cream on bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan.  Lay six graham crackers down evenly.  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the graham crackers, followed by a single layer of closely-placed strawberries.  Repeat layers (graham crackers, whipped cream, strawberries) 3 more times.  You will have 4 layers total of graham crackers when finished.  Spread the remaining whipped cream over the top of entire dessert, and add rest of strawberries for garnish.

Heat 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.  Once it bubbles, turn off the heat.  Add chocolate and let stand for 3 minutes.  Whisk mixture until it’s thick and glossy.  Let it cool to lukewarm and drizzle ganache over dessert (I use a plastic baggie with tiny bit of tip cut off.)

Cover loosely with tented foil and chill in fridge overnight, for crackers to soften.  Keep cold until ready to serve.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from theKitchn

Stabilized Whipped Cream

7 Jun

Whipped cream is arguably the best dessert accompaniment ever.  In fact, I had plans to write a different post tonight, but that game plan was derailed by the realization that my favorite whipped cream still doesn’t have its own post.  It’s finally time to set things right.  Stabilized whipped cream is awesome stuff, and it couldn’t be easier to make or more adaptable to use.

Stabilized Whipped Cream 4

If you make your own whipped cream, you know there is absolutely no equal in store-bought tubs or cans.  No packaged whipped cream holds a candle to the real deal.

Since it only takes a few ingredients and a few minutes to whip together, there’s no reason not to whip out that whisk.  I always “stabilize” my whipped cream, which creates whipped cream that is more resilient and won’t get runny as it sits.   Stabilized whipped cream holds together beautifully and keeps its shape for many days.  I love using stabilized whipped cream in lieu of heavy  frostings whenever possible.

Stabilized Whipped Cream 5

When you’re in the mood for a light, fluffy frosting, use stabilized whipped cream to frost cakes or pipe long-lasting swirls onto almost any dessert.  You’ll love the fact that you can make stabilized whipped cream ahead of time, keep it in the fridge without worries of it melting away, and use it when you’re ready to go.  You can frost or pipe onto desserts and safely keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Stabilized Whipped Cream 2

Just whip together the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla (or other flavored extract) until those pretty soft peaks show up.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Steadily pour in the gelatin/water mixture, while continuing to whip all the way to stiff peaks.

Stabilized Whipped Cream 3

Viola!  The whipped cream takes on a sturdier texture, while remaining light and airy when you taste it.  I’ve done various flavors, with Kahlua whipped cream being my fave.  I used Kahlua whipped cream for this unbelievable Double Chocolate Cake, which was seriously over-the-top-of-the-entire-moon.  Deeelicious.

Stabilized Whipped Cream 6

Such a long post for such an easy little recipe.  It was long overdue, so I’m overcompensating 🙂

Happy whisking!

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STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM (about 4 cups)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups heavy whipping cream, very cold
4 TB powdered sugar
2 TB vanilla extract (or Kahlua or other flavored extract)
2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder (Knox)
2 TB water

DIRECTIONS

Pour cold heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a large metal bowl.  Place bowl and whisks of electric mixer in fridge for 5-10 minutes to make everything cold.

Meanwhile, combine gelatin powder and 2 TB water in a small glass bowl.  Once water has been fully soaked up by the gelatin, microwave the mixture for 15-20 seconds.  It should become a thick, hot liquid.  Stir well and let sit at room temp.

Remove the bowl from fridge.  Beat on medium-high until soft peaks just start to form.  Set whipped cream aside and check the gelatin mixture.  (If it has re-coagulated, microwave a few seconds at a time until it turns liquid again.)  If it’s hot, stir until it cools down to lukewarm.  It should be a slightly warm liquid, but not hot.  Resume beating whipped cream, while steadily pouring liquid gelatin right where the whisks are beating, to ensure it is being fully incorporated.

Beat whipped cream to stiff peaks.  Try to stop beating right at stiff peaks, but if you accidentally over-beat it a little bit, don’t worry.  It will still frost and pipe fine.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Homemade Nutter Butters – Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

3 Jun

Our family keeps peanut butter in business.  The first time I heard peanut butter was banned in preschool years ago, I panicked.  Stood there and racked my brain for alternative lunch box ideas my then-three-year-old would eat without cajoling.  Since then, we’ve settled into many nut-free lunch options.  But at home, we do peanut butter.  Lots of it.

Homemade Nutter Butters

From Peanut Butter Muffins for breakfast to Peanut Butter Brownie Cups for dessert, we’ve got it covered.  Peanut butter cookies are a hands-down winner around here.  Especially if they resemble the nostalgic Nutter Butters my mom used to bring home, back in the day.

Homemade Nutter Butters 2

These Homemade Nutter Butters are unquestionably the ace of sandwich cookies.  They are the boss of all peanut butter cookies.  The cookie part is addictive all on its own, but when that famous nutter butter filling gets slathered on, these become out of this world.

Homemade Nutter Butters 3

Homemade Nutter Butters taste just like the packaged ones, except these are softer, with an deliciously toothsome bite.  The peanutty filling is fluffy, soft, and reminds me exactly of the store-bought cookie filling.  Without any tongue-twisting ingredients.  You just have to make these cookies yourself to grasp how tasty they are.

Homemade Nutter Butters 4

The cookie shape is all up to you.  Make it a nut, make it round, make them big, make ’em small.  My later batches went towards bite-size sandwich cookies, and they were my favorite.  Sorry, my camera was out of the picture by then 😉  The bite-size cookies were super cute, easier to fill, and less likely to break apart when smashing the little sandwich together.

Any shape or size, these Homemade Nutter Butters are a hit.  Enjoy!

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HOMEMADE NUTTER BUTTERS (PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH COOKIES)
(makes roughly 30 larger cookies or 60 smaller ones)

INGREDIENTS
For the Cookies:
1 cup salted butter, room temp (just slightly soft, not melty at all)
1 cup creamy peanut butter, room temp
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Granulated sugar for sprinkling

For the Filling:
1 cup salted butter, room temp
1 cup creamy peanut butter, room temp
3 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 TB whole milk

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium-high.  At medium-low speed, add eggs one at a time and vanilla, mixing until well incorporated.  At low speed, slowly mix in the dry flour mixture.  When dough is combined, wrap tightly in cling wrap, and place in fridge to chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 375F.  To make peanut shape, form cookie dough into 1 inch balls and flatten into a long oval shape (1″ x 2″) about 2 inches apart.   Use a fork to make criss cross pattern, and pinch center gently to create peanut shape.  Keep rest of dough cold while you make one batch at a time.  (To make round cookies, flatten 1 inch dough balls into circles about 1/2 inch thick, and use a fork to press pattern on them.)

Bake 8-9 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Pinch cookie centers again, if needed, to keep peanut shape.  Sprinkle hot cookies with granulated sugar.  Cool a few minutes on baking sheet and finish cooling on wire rack.  Once cookies are completely cooled, they can be filled.

To make the filling:  In a large bowl, beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and fluffy.  Gradually add in powdered sugar and beat until filling is smooth.  Add 1 TB milk at a time, until desired consistency.  Fill to your heart’s content!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from cookiesandcups.com

Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole

30 May

Another school year is about to end, and celebrations abound.  There are end-of-year lunches and brunches to celebrate the year’s achievements, big or small.  Ushering in the welcome summer and contemplating what lies ahead.

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Bake

Any festivity that involves brunch is a happy thing.  I love brunch food.  If it isn’t something sweet, then it’s got to be something deliciously savory… and cheesy.  One of my favorites is this Cheesy Ham ‘n Hash Brown Casserole.  But I made that for our last brunch event, so I did a different cheesy bake for this round.

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Bake 2

This Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole is uber cheesy.  Three kinds of cheese, eggs, potatoes, and browned sausage for excess yum factor.  It is wonderfully easy to whip up the night before.  Let it sit in the fridge overnight, and it bakes up into a crowd-pleasing dish the next day.  We love make-ahead dishes around here.  It helps hectic mornings run a little smoother.

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Bake 3

This Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole is smooth, robust with flavor, and an instant hit with both little people and grown-ups.  I made an extra dish of this for the boys, who requested it again for dinner.  I indulged them.  It is, after all, the end of their school year.

Enjoy!

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CHEESY POTATO BREAKFAST CASSEROLE (one 9×13)

INGREDIENTS

1 large onion, chopped
1 pound bulk sausage
4 cups (20 oz) plain frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
9 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Cook sausage and onion, stirring often and breaking up the bulk sausage into small pieces.  Cook until sausage is browned throughout.  Drain and set aside.

In a very large bowl, combine potatoes, eggs, Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Add cooked sausage mixture.  Stir to combine well.  Pour entire mixture into prepared baking dish.  Can tightly cover and refrigerate overnight, if desired.

Bake in preheated oven 50-60 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted.  If casserole sat in fridge all night, it may need to bake a bit longer.  Watch and cover with foil if the top starts browning too much in the oven.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from allrecipes

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

28 May

There’s quite possibly nothing more classic than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It’s the sandwich each of my boys packed into their very first school lunch boxes.  Peanut butter is one of the few things I would eat as a picky kid.  It’s the thing I eat still eat by the spoonful today.

Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins

Peanut butter is my superfood.  Everyone knows it’s a lunch favorite.  Most of us know it makes to-die-for desserts.  As in ooey gooey peanut butter brownie cups.  And now, peanut butter has become one of my breakfast addictions.

The boys and I made these on a rainy spring morning.  My little guy took a bite and exclaimed, “Mmm!  These taste like peanut butter!”  My guys were extra spoiled because I even let them scrape the jar clean at the end. 🙂

Peanut Butter jelly Muffins 2

These peanut butter and jelly muffins are a major breakfast treat.  Loaded with protein and real fruit preserves, they pack a nutritional punch to start your day with.

Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins 3

These peanut butter and jelly muffins are remarkably hearty and delish.  It’s a super satisfying breakfast on the go, as Hubby will attest to.  These are not dainty; rather, they are dense and moist.  Just the way you’d expect peanut butter muffins to be.  The fruit preserves are wonderfully sweet and flavorful in the muffins.  I use real preserves rather than jelly, but jelly sounds better for a title.

If you love big peanutty flavor, you’ll enjoy this one.  Happy baking!

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PEANUT BUTTER and JELLY MUFFINS (12 large muffins)

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 cup chunky peanut butter
2 TB cold, salted butter
2 large eggs, room temp
1 cup whole milk, sit out for 10-15 min
jar of fruit preserves or jelly
powder sugar for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

Set oven to 350F and line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in the peanut butter and cold butter, using a pastry cutter, until entire mixture becomes well incorporated.  In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.  Stir egg/milk mixture into the flour mixture just until evenly moistened.  Fill lined muffin cups halfway.  Drop in about a tablespoon of fruit preserves/jelly over each muffin cup.  Fill rest of muffin cups to the top with the rest of the batter, smoothing the tops evenly.

Bake for about 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few tender crumbs attached.  Cool muffins completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar upon serving, if desired.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by Taste of Home

Very Berry Pie Bars

24 May

Memorial weekend signals the unofficial start of summer, and what better way to celebrate the sunshine than picnics, BBQ’s, and lots of ripe berries?

Very Berry Pie Bars 5

Can’t decide if you crave pies vs. dessert bars?  No problem.  We can go hybrid and do it BOGO style.  Two in one.  Bargain hunters, this one’s for you.

It’s a win-win combination.  Think of it:  a buttery and toothsome crust, plus crumbly topping with hints of zesty lemon strewn throughout.  Creamy, thick filling bursting with sweet, juicy berries.

Very Berry Pie Bars

These fresh berry pie bars are the best of both worlds, with tasty pie crust, crumble topping, and plummy filling.   Minus the fuss of actually making a pie.  This “pie” comes in the form of  an easygoing, happy-go-lucky pie bar that’s easily made ahead of time and even easier to dig into.

Very Berry Pie Bars 3

These berry pie bars can happily be made the night before, chilled in fridge, and sliced when ready to devour.  I sliced mine into smaller squares to feed a crowd, and there was plenty to go around.  For easy serving plus cute factor, just house the individual squares in pretty cupcake liners.  These are best served chilled, so keep ’em cold until dessert time.  They won’t sit around long once you bring them out.

Enjoy, and happy Memorial weekend!

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VERRY BERRY PIE BARS (makes one 9×13)

For the crust and topping:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
Zest of one large lemon
1 1/2 cups salted butter, cold

For the filling:
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups white sugar
1 cup greek yogurt
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
Juice of one large lemon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
30 oz any mixture of fresh blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously grease a 9×13 pan along bottom and sides.  Set aside.

In bowl of a food processor, lightly pulse together the flour, sugar, and lemon zest just until blended.  Cut cold butter into slices and add to bowl.  With a few short pulses, cut the butter into flour mixture just until mixture is crumbly.  Small bits of butter remaining is fine.  (Alternatively, you can use a pastry cutter if you don’t have a food processor.)

Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the flour/butter mixture for the topping.  Pour the rest of the mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.  Press firmly for an even layer of crust on bottom of pan.  (It’s easy to press evenly with the flat bottom of a water glass or ramekin.)  Bake crust about 15 minutes or until golden.  Remove baked crust from oven, but keep oven on.

Combine eggs, sugar, Greek yogurt, flour, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Carefully fold in the berries with rubber spatula.  Gently spread filling over the baked crust.  Sprinkle reserved topping over the filling, to make an even layer of crumble topping.

Bake about 75 min to 90 min or until topping turns golden and bars are set.  Cool completely at room temp before putting in fridge to chill.  Chill several hours or overnight.  Cut and serve cold.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Annie’s Eats, via the Pastry Queen

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

20 May

One peek into our pantry reveals our family’s obsession with granola bars.  Fruit-filled granola bars, nutty granola bars, and the kids’ favorite… chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  But because I’m uber picky about the ingredients that go into the granola bars I buy, it gets pricey keeping a replete supply on hand.

chewy chocolate chip granola bars 3

Granola bars must be one of the best creations of all time.  Busy families can attest to their great worth.  After all, granola bars are a multi-hat-wearing kind of food.  They serve as the perfect breakfast-on-the-go, sans mommy guilt because they’re packed with good stuff.  They are an easy grab for the lunch boxes.  Perfect after school snack.  Car snack.  Shopping snack for the kids 😉

chewy chocolate chip granola bars

Whenever I can, I love making our own granola bars.  We’ve done all kinds of granola bars, but my kids’ ultimate fave are these chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  Like the store variety, they are chewy and sweet, but infinitely better because you made them yourself.  You know exactly what went into them.  No ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Only the good stuff goes into these yummy granola bars.

chewy chocolate chip granola bars 2

Sweetened with brown sugar and honey, chock full of oats, and tossed with mini chocolate chips.  Exactly eight ingredients went into these addictive granola bars.  They store well for days, if kept in an airtight container.

Get ready for a quick and satisfying breakfast or snack.  You just might need to double the recipe.

Enjoy!

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CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP GRANOLA BARS (makes one 8×8 pan)

INGREDIENTS

1/4 – 1/3 cup  light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/4 cup honey
4 TB salted butter
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Butter an 8×8 baking pan and set aside.  In large bowl, combine oats and cereal only.  In a saucepan, melt brown sugar, honey, and butter over medium heat, stirring, until it reaches a low boil.  Immediately reduce to simmer, and stir another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in cinnamon and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

Carefully pour melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture.  Mix until fully incorporated.  Press granola mixture into the buttered pan, pressing down to pack the granola tightly and evenly into pan.  Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over top of granola, using back of spoon or slightly wet hands.  (Mini chips may melt if you try to fully mix into the granola rather than sprinkle on top)

Allow granola to fully cool before cutting.  Store in airtight container.

Note:  If your granola bars break apart, it may help to chill the bars prior to cutting.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from browneyedbaker.com

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

15 May

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars.  This post needs no words, really.  A picture is worth a thousand, right?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars 1

But I do have a small back-story.  It went like this:

Hubby:  I have a Dessert Challenge Day at work coming up.  Do you have an idea for what I can make?

Me:  Awesome!  I’ve totally got ideas.  What’s the date of the Dessert Challenge?

Hubby:  Tomorrow.

Me:  (Silence. Blink. Blink.)

After I recovered from the mini shock, my excitement to bake something yummy kicked in.  I’d been hankering for Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars for quite some time.  No better excuse than a Dessert Challenge to break out these decadent treats.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake bars 2

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This was so, so worth it.  So worth the late-night baking and kitchen blunders that occur as a result of late-night baking.  Hubby was making an entire pan for work, and I was making another pan for me.  A little chaos in the kitchen.  Note to Self:  Make this during normal hours and pay attention =  it’s a cinch!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars 3

There’s something here for everyone.  Flavorful graham cracker crumb crust for all the crust-lovers.  Thick, rich cheesecake for cheesecake fans like myself.  Chocolate chip cookie dough full of gooey chocolate for cookie buffs.  Decadent and rich.  Smooth and creamy.  Textured and chewy.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

You can taste the crust, cheesecake, and cookie all separately yet it all marries together like a match made in heaven.

You have to try this.  Your taste buds will thank you.  And your family and friends will look at you with speechless awe.  Enjoy!

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE CHEESECAKE BARS (12 servings)
* serve cold for best taste and texture

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
7 TB melted, salted butter

Cheesecake Filling:
12 oz cream cheese, room temp (indents when lightly pressed, but not melty at all)
1/3 cup sugar
1 extra large egg, room temp
1 TB pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
5 TB salted butter, room temp (indents when lightly pressed, but not melty)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 TB granulated sugar
1 TB pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips (mini chips turn out more gooey)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325F with rack on lower middle.  Line 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper, with enough hanging over handles to make a “sling.”  Oil the parchment paper.

Make Crust:  Mix melted butter and cracker crumbs together until resembles wet sand.  Press mixture firmly and evenly into bottom of pan.  Bake for 7-8 minutes.  Remove pan to rack, but keep oven on.

Make Cheesecake Filling:  In bowl in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy and smooth.  Mix in egg and vanilla on low until incorporated, taking care not to overmix.  Pour cheesecake batter into prepared crust.  Set aside.

Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:  In bowl on stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and mix just until combined.  Slowly mix in the flour on low speed just until combined, taking care not to over mix.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop clumps of slightly-flattened dough evenly on top of cheesecake batter.  Continue until all cookie dough is evenly distributed across top of cheesecake.

Bake 30-40 minutes, until top of dough feels mostly dry and entire pan looks mostly set if given a gentle shake.  It will continue to set up as it chills.  Move bars to cooking rack to cool completely.  Chill several hours or overnight.  Lift bars out by sling and cut.  Keep cut bars in fridge until ready to serve.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from mybakingaddiction

Note:  Leftover bars can be wrapped and stored in freezer.

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