Easter

Peepsters Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite chewy chocolate chip cookies get dressed up for Easter on the inside with PEEPS Peepsters stuffing.

Peepsters Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

Yesterday I returned a couple unopened bags of candy melts thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, it’s just sugar. There was nothing wrong, just didn’t end up needing them for a recipe, to which she replied, “Doesn’t matter I have to throw them out anyway.” Now I thought she was joking so I laughed, but after her unchanged facial expression I realized she was not. Apparently returned food items (even unopened, packaged sugar/chocolate) cannot be resold. It makes sense for fresh food or anything requiring refrigeration, but candy?? Upon discovering this I felt bad for returning them and voiced this to her. However, she shot back that I did not in fact feel bad or else I wouldn’t be returning them. She said it so matter-of-fact, again without any humor, that I felt like I should be offended. True I could have snatched them up saying I changed my mind and if I had a job right now I would have. Unfortunately I do not and keeping them is less important than being able to pay for things such as bills. In the end, Walmart can handle the loss a lot easier than I can right now.

Just in case you still think I am a bad person, how about some cookies? I used my favorite chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe using both semisweet and milk chocolate chips this time and then stuffed them with PEEPS Peepsters – fun chocolate Easter candies with marshmallow centers. These cookies are basically PEEPS stuffed chocolate chip cookies without the mess of an exploding marshmallow, which commonly happens if you stuff a regular marshmallow into the center of a cookie. 

Peepsters Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

Three years ago: Double Cake Batter Truffle Ice Cream
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Easter Recipe Roundup

Complete Easter recipe roundup with recipes for Brunch, appetizers, sides, dinner and dessert!

Easter Recipe Roundup 2014
With Easter just a little over a week away I thought it was a good time to gather up some recipes to help you plan your Easter Brunch and/or dinner. Many of these have appeared at Easter events I attended in the past and I know they will be a hit with your friends and family too. Do you have a favorite recipe that you have to make every year? Somehow my favorite carrot cake recipe has not made it onto the blog yet but there are a few carrot cake-inspired treats on this list – Carrot Cake Batter Dip, Carrot Cake Waffles and Carrot Cake Oatmeal!

Check back as I will be adding new recipes as we get closer to Easter!

One year ago: Speculoos Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Granola Bars

Two years ago: Flavor-Injected Glazed Ham

BRUNCH

Mini Razzle Dazzle Peanut Butter Cinnamon Rolls

APPETIZERS

Deviled Strawberries

SIDE DISES

Individual Scalloped Potatoes

ENTREES

 Crockpot Turkey Tenderloin

DESSERTS

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

Previous Roundups: Easter Recipe Roundup 2012

Signature

Rainbow Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Happy belated Easter! I hope you all had a splendid weekend. On Sunday, I went to a friend’s for Easter brunch with other friends who were spending the holiday away from family and I brought along these fun deviled eggs. Not only are they festively colored, but they are stuffed with guacamole instead of traditional deviled eggs yolks.

In other news, my March Madness bracket completely imploded over the weekend. I’m not really a basketball fan aside from always cheering for any Ohio State sport’s team, but I always enjoy making a bracket and seeing how it all plays out. Not a single of my final four made it and of course the most disappointing one was Ohio State. Figures that the one Big Ten team that made it was Michigan. Boo. I guess I should cheer for Syracuse now since it’s close to Rochester where I grew up.

Rainbow Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Two years ago: Baked Funfetti Doughnuts
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Strawberry Stuffed Cupcakes

Just in time for Easter weekend, I present to you this fun and easy cupcake. You all know how much I love stuffing cookies and cupcakes with various truffles and what not, but this time I went with something more natural – a whole strawberry! It is a basic white cupcake that gets a small part of it cored after baking in order to fit the strawberry inside. Then top it off with some fresh strawberry buttercream and you’ve got one heck of a spring-time cupcake.

Strawberry Stuffed Cupcakes 1

After celebrating Passover with my brother’s in-laws this past weekend, I don’t have much planned for Easter this weekend. I am working a regular day in the lab today, and am going to a Circa Survive concert tonight. Not exactly festive, but still fun! I will be attending my friend’s annual Easter brunch on Sunday so maybe I can bust out some bunny ears for that ;-).

Strawberry Stuffed Cupcakes 2

Two years ago: Eggplant Parmesan
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Carrot Cake Batter Dip

In case you were unaware, Lauren of Keep It Sweet Desserts has been chosen as a finalist for the Martha Stewart American Made Awards. The winner will be selected based on votes and will be honored at the American Made event in New York City and appear in Martha Stewart Living magazine.  On top of that, Keep It Sweet Desserts would get $10,000 to help grow the business.

Even though I have not purchased any of her cookies since she started her business (shame on me), I have tried a couple of her recipes and they are delicious and worthy of recognition! You can help by voting EVERY DAY between now and September 24th! Vote here: http://americanmade.marthastewart.com/profiles/lauren-lilling-1436. Spread the word and tell your friends!

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I’ve done it again – another dip using dry cake batter mix and Greek yogurt. But I added back in some of the cream cheese from my first take on cake batter dip because what’s carrot cake without cream cheese? This dip is also practically health food with the addition of carrots and walnuts to complete the carrot cake batter ensemble. Serve with graham crackers or baby carrots!

Would you believe me if I said I had another cake batter dip idea? I feel like the possibilities are endless!

One year ago: Strawberry Mojito
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Cheesy Potato Casserole

Last night I finished the final book in The Hunger Games Series, The Mockingjay. Oh and I stayed up until 1:30am in order to do so. As you can imagine my brain isn’t firing at 100% today which is probably good for anyone who hasn’t finished the books because otherwise I would jabber away about it. Instead, enjoy the cheesy goodness I am about to present to you.

The first time I had this potato dish was at a potluck at work. Emma brought it in and I immediately needed the recipe. It was so creamy, rich, and satisfying. But when I finally got around to making it on Sunday to go along with the ham, I decided to use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I love substituting sour cream, mayo and other similar ingredients with Greek yogurt! And no one else even noticed that it was a bit healthier :-).

Stay turned tomorrow for a fabulous bake sale featuring many of your favorite food bloggers, with all proceeds going towards The House of Mews Annual Food Drive! Get your bidding faces on.

CHEESY POTATO CASSEROLE

Makes 10-12 side servings

Ingredients:

POTATO MIXTURE

1 pkg. frozen hashbrowns (cubes), thawed

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Minced onion to taste

TOPPING

2 cups crushed corn flakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the potato mixture together and pour into prepared pan. Combine topping and sprinkle over the potato mixture.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is golden.

Source: Adapted from Emma.

Flavor-Injected Glazed Ham

Hope everyone had as great of weather as we did over the weekend. First my dad and I took care of a few odd things around my apartment, such as hanging my newest work of art (check it out). We were super crafty too because I didn’t have a level, just used a straight piece of wood and a tape measure. Then my dad and I took advantage of the weather and spent some time walking around the Lichtnerman Nature Center on Saturday followed by a movie and some great frozen custard eaten on a bench outside. On Sunday we enjoyed brunch on a friend of mine’s roof-patio, followed by cooking our holiday dinner with all the windows open in my apt, while the wonderful aromas were filling my kitchen.

Now that we are on the subject of food, have you ever flavor injected your meat? If you haven’t you really should. It results in serious flavor saturation. And with this ham recipe, you also get a nice sweet glaze on the outside, locking in all of that flavor. Of course, since this was a pre-spiral cut ham some of the injected juices leaked out, but having it seep through the layers was good enough for me. This recipe made way too much for the number of people who were eating it, but leftovers are not frowned upon!

GLAZED HAM

Serves approximately 20

Ingredients:

1-10 lb. fully cooked, spiral-cut smoked ham, on the bone

1 cup mango chutney

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup pineapple juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ham on a rack in a heavy roasting pan, cut-side down.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, add chutney, sugar, syrup and juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved and then bring to a simmer. Continue to cook until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Using a flavor injector, inject ham with some of the cooled glaze mixture all over, inserting the needle in various directions (use as much as desired). Pour the remainder of the glaze over the ham and cover completely with foil.
  4. Bake for 2 hours until the ham is fully heated. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: The Spiffy Cookie original

Pretzel Crusted Peanut Butter Blondies with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting & Easter Recipe Roundup

Happy Good Friday/Spring Holiday! Yes spring holiday is what the university I attend for my PhD calls today. Not much of a holiday for me since I will be working a regular day, but then my dad comes in town tonight to visit for the weekend! And it looks like we will be having perfect weather in the low 70s. I love spring-time, just wish it lasted a bit longer here before the summer heat invades.

In the spirit of everything green and in bloom right now, I made these blondies which are stuffed with pastel white chocolate M&Ms and Reese’s pieces peanut butter mini eggs. With a crust made of pretzels and a blue colored white chocolate cream cheese frosting, these bars are perfect for your Easter/Spring festivities. And they just so happen to be smashingly delicious. Don’t forget to check out my roundup of several other Easter food items following this recipe.

One year ago: Spicy Mac and Cheese

PRETZEL CRUSTED PEANUT BUTTER BLONDIES WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Makes 24 bars

Ingredients:

CRUST

4 cups pretzels

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

PEANUT BUTTER BLONDIES

8 Tbsp of unsalted butter

6 Tbsp of creamy peanut butter

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup white chocolate M&Ms (or white chocolate morsels), plus more for garnish

1/2 cup Reese’s pieces peanut butter eggs (or peanut butter morsels)

WHITE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

8 oz. Philadelphia Indulgence white chocolate cream cheese

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp blue food coloring gel

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil, letting some hang over the edges. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter and flour.
  2. Process pretzels in a food processor until chopped small, but not too finely. Meanwhile melt the butter in the microwave. Transfer the pretzels to a mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar. Mix in the melted butter. Press into a the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust has set. Cool crust in the refrigerator while you make the batter.
  3. Change oven temperature to 325 degrees. Add butter and peanut butter to a microwave safe bowl, and heat in 30 second increments until melted. Let cool completely.
  4. Mix the flour, oats, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the cooled butter/peanut butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Gradually add dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. I even used my hands to bring it all together. If necessary, add 1-2 teaspoons of milk. Fold in white chocolate M&Ms and Reese’s pieces peanut butter eggs.
  5. Scoop the cookie dough onto the prepared crust and gently spread to cover. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese on high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add butter and beat until light and creamy; scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat for another minute. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and food coloring and mix on low speed until combined; scrape the sides of the bowl again and beat on high speed until icing is light and fluffy.
  7. Spread frosting on top of cooled brownies. Top with additional white chocolate M&Ms. Refrigerate before cutting into bars.

Source: Crust from The Avid Appetite, blondie layer adapted from How Sweet It Is, and frosting adapted from Keep It Sweet Desserts.

EASTER RECIPE ROUNDUP

Brunch

 

Appetizers & Side Dishes

Desserts

Carrot Cake Waffles

Yet again, another holiday has snuck up on me. Hard to believe it is already April and Easter is this weekend! I feel like I had corned beef and cabbage just yesterday. But thanks to Erin of Big Fat Baker and the Holiday Recipe Club, I remembered to start whipping up Easter treats in the nick of time.

For this holiday, our designated ingredients from which we had to choose at least one were spinach, carrots and eggs. This recipe incorporates the last two to create carrot cake waffles! Because what’s better than carrot cake for dessert than for breakfast? What took these waffles over the edge for me was the maple nut cream cheese spread. It’s divine!

Don’t forget to check out what everyone else made who participated this holiday. I am especially curious to see what Easter-themed recipes contain spinach since that one stumped me.

One year ago: Chocolate Cookies ‘n’ Creme Cookies

CARROT CAKE WAFFLES

Makes approximately 7 waffles

Ingredients:

WAFFLES

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup 100% whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp sugar

1-1/2 tsp baking soda

1-3/4 cups lowfat buttermilk

2 eggs, separated

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1-1/2 cup finely grated carrots

Cooking spray for waffle iron

MAPLE NUT CREAM CHEESE SPREAD

8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened

3-4 Tbsp maple syrup

1/8 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium heat until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter is light brown and has faint nutty aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Add spices and continue to cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda.  Set aside.
  3. Mix together the buttermilk and the egg yolks. Stir in the spiced butter and vanilla. Spray the waffle iron well and preheat it. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients. Add carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Stir gently to combine.
  4.  Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl with a whisk or electric mixer (make sure bowl and mixer are spotlessly clean) until they hold soft peaks. Stir them gently into the batter.
  5. Spread a 1/2 cup or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Spray iron with cooking spray between waffles as needed.
  6.  To make Maple Cream Cheese spread, simply combine nuts, syrup, and cream cheese and mix well. Serve waffles immediately with a schmear of Maple Cream Cheese spread, or keep them warm for a few minutes in a low oven. (You may also freeze cooled leftovers for homemade frozen waffles!)

Source: Adapted slightly from Willow Bird Baking.



Flower Bouquet Cake Pops

I know I don’t talk about my personal life in much detail on here, and more so lately than usual (mostly because I have no life other than working 13 hrs a day at lab). But today I am sharing something about my mom, which is the reason I made cake pops in the shape of flowers to form an edible bouquet. Yes I do realize it is Pi day and being the nerd that I am, contemplated changing today’s post to a pie but I don’t think anyone will argue that my mother is more important than any pie in the world.

1985 – Mom, brother & me

Let’s begin with the year 2002. I was a senior in high school and my mom moved from upstate NY to live with family in Maryland (why she moved there is an entirely different story that I’m not getting into today). Shortly after, she was diagnosed with not one but two aneurysms in her brain, one located behind each eye, and they were not small (golf ball-sized). Her neurosurgeon attempted to put a stint in for the one behind her right eye but it was not successful and therefore moved on to the next option – a craniotomy. Unfortunately in the process her optic nerve was cut for that eye and obviously resulted in the termination of vision through that eye. As far as I know none of the family was aware that this was going to be a possibility. I was none too pleased because having the terrible vision that I do, I am very conscious of the ability to see. And upset because not only were we unaware that this may happen, but it did happen and there was nothing to do about it.

Naturally, my mom feared losing sight in her remaining left eye and did not want to pursue a second craniotomy for the other aneurysm. I can’t say that I blame her but it was always in the back of my mind, “What if it decides to rupture? Would I rather have a blind mom than none at all?”. But the decision was hers not mine (thankfully). So she continued to live her life, got remarried, moved to Delaware and is the happiest I have seen her in a long time.

Then last year, I got a message from my aunt (in MD) saying my mother was being helicoptered to the hospital – no more details given. WHAT!?!?!!? Commence ultimate freak out. Later I was told she had been bumping into things and saying things which did not make sense so they thought her aneurysm was acting up. For the next couple of days, my mom sat in pre-op, not being able to eat anything because she was told she would go into surgery in the morning after they ran tests, but then never having the surgery the next day, or the next. Meanwhile, I was preparing for a seminar I had to present on my research and was juggling whether I needed to jump into my car and haul the 15 hours to be there for her surgery. If my mom was going to lose her vision completely I wanted her to see me one more time. The fact the hospital was being so wishy-washy whether or not they were going to perform surgery was most frustrating. In the end, they decided her aneurysm was stable and that she was just suffering side effects from dehydration (she and my step-father as been battling a cold of some sort). Yup, all that drama just to find out she needed a glass of water.

I wish I could say that was the end of it all. But unfortunately over the next year she started to notice the occasional symptom (headache, cheek numbness, blurred vision) but it would fade away and she’d let it go. One day she confessed to me that these symptoms were becoming more persistent and severe. (Guess a glass of water wasn’t the solution after all.) After an MRI last week it has been decided that surgery needs to be performed. The aneurysm is growing and the size of it categorized her as an emergency – life or death. Which started my frantic scanning of flight prices which were not economically friendly. After talking with her, since this surgery is “just” for a stint, I am holding off on the last-minute travel for now. If for some reason the stint doesn’t work on this one either (crosses fingers and every body part possible), then I will fork over whatever it costs to be there. That’s assuming she even goes through with another craniotomy, because from talking to her she has no intention of doing so.

Unfortunately my older brother is also unable to be there because my sister-in-law is full term and due any day now with their first child (YAY!). But our step-dad, aunt (her sister) and uncle will be there. Mom goes in for pre-op at 8 am EST and will go into surgery around 10 am (and I will be tethered to my cell phone all day). I called her yesterday and she was scared but is in good spirits. (I know the feeling. In early high school I had surgery on my left eye to correct the strabisthmus and I cried while waiting to go into the operating room.) She did mention that her headaches have intensified and cannot wait for it to be over. We all hope that the stint relieves her pain swiftly.

Little does she know what is crawling to her doorstep at this very moment. I cannot wait for my package containing these flower bouquet cake pops to reach her today, she will be so excited! I know she will want to show them off to all of her friends too because that’s what mothers do.

/

I LOVE YOU MOM! Be strong. I wish I could be with you today like you have been for me. And even though you don’t have the internet to see this post, you get the better end of the deal – the cake pops!

(Please excuse any poor grammar or lack of fluidity in this post. I can’t proof-read emotions haha.)

One year ago: Cookies and Cream Peanut Butter Pie

FLOWER BOUQUET CAKE POPS

Makes 45-50

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix*, plus ingredients

1-16 oz. tub chocolate frosting *

Pop sticks

Colored chocolate candy melts (such as these)

White chocolate M&M’s

*or whatever flavor variety you prefer

Directions:

  1. Prepare cake as directed for a 13 x 9 inch cake.
  2. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Mix thoroughly with frosting. Form into two large balls.
  3. On a lightly greased surface (I like to use a pastry mat) use a rolling pin to roll one ball to about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out shapes using greased small flower-shaped cookie cutters (I used these by Wilton). Gently push out of the cookie cutter onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet.
  4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
  5. Melt chocolate in microwave (or over a double-boiler) per directions on package.
  6. Dip the end of a pop stick into the chocolate and insert halfway through the bottom of a cake-flower. Roll in chocolate, tap off excess, add M&M and insert into styrofoam (or lay on wax paper) until firm.
  7. Repeat with the remaining shapes and use different colored chocolate coating if desired. (I started with the yellow and worked towards the darker colors so that I could keep using the same bowl.)

Source: Adapted from Bakerella.

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