#BundtBakers: Strawberry Crunch Bundt Cake

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This blog post should really be titled "The cake that didn't want to cake."

I've known that the theme for this month's #BundtBakers was strawberry for a few months now. I made my first recipe back in early June when strawberries were plentiful and cheap. It was a strawberry rhubarb recipe and it promptly fell apart as soon as I sliced into it.

I tried again the next weekend, thinking perhaps I just used too many strawberries and the cake was too moist. Nope, cake mush, take 2.

A few weeks later, I tried out my mini bundt pan making a Neapolitan version that I was going to top with chocolate covered strawberries. Which would have been gorgeous if the entire cake hadn't needed to bake for so long that it turned dark brown and you couldn't tell the difference between what was supposed to be chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.



Three failed cakes is where most people give up, but I'm nothing if not persistent. However, I am also somewhat logical and decided that my final attempt in making a strawberry cake to share with you was going to use prepared cake mix in hopes that I could finally get one right.

BundtBakers

And it worked! While not gorgeous or perfect, it turned out well enough that I could share it with you (and finally stop making failed strawberry cakes!)


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our home page. Our host for this month is Tammy of Living the Gourmet.




Strawberry Crunch Bundt Cake
Adapted from: Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
Servings: 12-16 slices
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • for the cake:
    • 1 box white cake mix, prepared
    • 1 box strawberry cake mix, prepared
    • for the frosting:
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup fresh strawberries, mashed
    • 2-4 tbsp heavy cream
    • pinch of salt
    • for the crunch topping:
    • 6 vanilla oreo cookies
    • 4 shortbread cookies
    • 4 oz. freeze dried strawberries
    • 2 tbsp melted butter

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with non-stick spray.
2. Prepare the white cake mix according to package directions. Pour ⅓ of the batter into the prepared bundt pan.
3. Prepare the strawberry cake mix according to package directions. Pour ⅓ of the batter on top of the white cake mix in the bundt pan. Repeat with ⅓ of the white cake batter, ⅓ strawberry and finish with the remaining ⅓ of the white cake mix. (Discard remaining strawberry cake mix or make cupcakes)
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. 

5. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting by adding the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until combined. Add mashed strawberries and salt. Add in heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time to thin out the frosting if needed.
6. Prepare the crunch topping by adding oreo cookies and shortbread cookies to a food processor and pulsing until fine. Add in melted butter and pulse until it comes together. Finally add in the freeze dried strawberries and pulse until mixed in.
7. Once the cake has cooled, place a plate on top of the bundt pan and flip it over so the cake is upright on the plate. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the cake and then coat with the crunch topping.
8. Slice and serve. Uneaten cake should be covered and refrigerated. 





This cake is light and moist and full of strawberry flavor. It's not quite the same as those ice cream bars with a similar coating but it's still incredibly tasty. Tom had three slices before I reminded him that I was taking it into work. My coworkers had it gone within a few short hours. 



Fantastical Food Fight: Key Lime Coconut Rum Cake

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Last month I decided to join a new blogging event called the Fantastical Food Fight. It's hosted by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes . Each month there is an ingredient or theme and bloggers can make any recipe that fits under those guidelines.

I made an ice cream base last month using almond milk and unfortunately when it came time to put it in the ice cream attachment of my Kitchenaid, I realized it had curdled. There wasn't enough time to make a new base so I begrudgingly had sat out and vowed to make a recipe far enough in advance this month to actually be able to share with everyone.



The theme for this month is rum and my first thought was "Hey! Right up my alley!" I searched through a ton of different recipes trying to figure out which to make for this and eventually ended up settling on a cake recipe that I found on Inside BruCrew Life.



I've had some serious cake making fails recently (more about that tomorrow) so I decided to follow the recipe nearly exactly (replacing unsweetened applesauce for oil and coconut flavored rum for light rum or rum extract) to reduce my chances in cake failure and not being able to participate. 




Key Lime Coconut Rum Cake
Source: Inside BruCrew Life
Servings: 10-12 slices
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • for the cake:
    • 1 box white cake mix
    • 3 eggs
    • ¾ cup milk
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
    • ¼ cup key lime juice
    • 2 tbsp key lime zest
    • for the glaze:
    • 4 tbsp. Unsalted butter
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 2 tbsp key lime juice
    • ½ cup coconut rum
    • for the frosting:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup vegetable shortening
    • 1 tsp coconut extract
    • 1 tsp coconut rum
    • 4 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup cream of coconut*
    • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
    • key lime slices

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch baking pans with baking spray or grease and lightly flour.
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the white cake mix, eggs, milk, sour cream, applesauce, key lime juice and key lime zest and mix on low speed until fully combined.
3. Divide the batter in half and pour each half into the prepared baking pan. Smooth the batter on top and tap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles.
4. Bake the cake for 25-28 minutes or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

5. Transfer the cakes to a wire cooling rack to allow to cool. 
6. Prepare the glaze by adding the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat and melting. Whisk in the sugar and key lime juice, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk in the coconut rum. 
7. Prick holes into the cake with a fork or toothpick and pour the glaze on top, allowing it to soak down into the cake. Let cakes soak for 10 minutes.
8. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and invert over a plate. Repeat with the second cake. Cut off the top layer of the cake to make it even, if necessary.
9. Prepare the frosting by combining the softened butter and shortening together in the bowl of a stand mixer and beating on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the coconut extract and coconut rum. Slowly add in the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, alternating with the coconut cream until both are used and a thick frosting has formed.
10. Spread a heaping layer of the frosting on top of one of the cooled cakes. Carefully lift up the other cake and place on top. Add more frosting to the top of the cake, leaving the sides naked. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top and then arrange lime slices on the frosting. 
11. Slice and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 


* Cream of coconut is referred to as the solid portion when you buy a can of coconut milk from the international aisle. You can also find cream of coconut in the drink mix section but it is thinner and you'll probably need to use less. If using the canned version, make sure to only scoop out the solids otherwise your frosting will separate. 



Isn't this cake adorable? It came together so easily! There is a mild lime flavor throughout the cake and then this sweet hint of coconut. 

Check out what everyone else made: 



Amazon Fresh: A Review

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Grocery delivery service seems to be the hot new thing. For the longest time, the only one I knew of was Peapod, which works with the Giant stores here. Then Amazon unveiled their Fresh program and Walmart followed up with their pick up service.

I've never really minded grocery shopping. I'm incredibly picky about my produce and know which times to go to the stores to avoid the crowd. I also love exploring the International Foods aisle to see what new-to-me things are out there.

I debated on using a service for a while. First, do I really want to pay for someone to deliver my groceries when I'm completely capable of going to the store and picking them out on my own? Second, do I trust someone to pick them for me?

I finally decided to try it out last weekend. Friday and Saturday we were supposed to have really bad storms and I will admit, grocery shopping in the rain is less than ideal. I checked out all of my options to see what would work best.

(mountain o'groceries)

Walmart - I'd still need to lug the groceries in the house in the rain and that was the main thing I wanted to avoid, so they were out.
Peapod - I price shopped between Peapod and Amazon and they were pretty comparable on most things, however in my area, they were out of 3-4 things that I needed so I decided it wasn't a good fit for this try-out.

Amazon was the winner, because of what they had to offer, the 30 day free trial and the fact that you get $25 off your first order of $100 or more.

Disclaimer: These opinions are solely my own. Amazon Fresh has no idea that I am leaving a review of their service and I have not received anything from them for the purpose of this review. 

Ordering: You sign up for the Fresh trial and then can begin adding things to your cart. It did take me a while to do this because I read nutritional labels so I had to open and enlarge multiple items to see what the best choice was. I did have a hiccup during my order; I'm not sure if the internet went out for a few minutes or what, but it told me nothing else could be added to my cart. I hopped on my phone to continue and then there were 12 packages of toilet paper and 7 packages of turkey bacon. Once I got those and the additional items that it had doubled during the glitch removed, it was pretty easy.
Grade: 4 out of 5 


What I ordered: To give you an idea of what filled up the totes
1 - romaine lettuce head
2 - gala apples
2 - packages baby carrots
1 - package red potatoes 
2 - cartons strawberries 
1 - carton blackberries
1 - carton mushrooms 
1 - cucumber 
1 - package baby spinach
2 - packages frozen peaches
3 - bell peppers
1 - package habaneros
1 - tiny package fresh tarragon
1 - honeydew melon
1 - watermelon
1 - package turkey bacon 
1 - package deli ham 
2 - packages deli chicken 
1 - 1 pound package ground beef
1 - block gruyere cheese 
1 - package prosciutto 
1 - quart milk 
1 - packet taco seasoning
1 - bottle taco sauce
1 - can black beans 
1 - box cake flour 
1 - brick cream cheese
 1 - package sour cream
1 - 12 pack toilet paper 
1 - jar avocado mayo
1 - bag shredded taco cheese 
1 - loaf bread
1 - package raw walnuts 
2 - 1 pound bricks of butter 


(What it all looks like out of the bag)

Delivery: You can choose what time you would like to have your groceries delivered and if you want to be there to accept the delivery or not. I was ordering at 8 pm on a Thursday and my options were morning deliveries for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I chose an unsigned delivery on Saturday morning between 6-8 am. They arrived at 7:33 am.

I don't have a covered porch so the bags were left on the front step. Since it had rained all last night the bottoms of them were damp and I had to wipe down my floors again after unloading, but this really isn't their fault, just a minor inconvenience if you choose grocery service to avoid rain and don't have a covered, dry area for them to place them.
Grade: 4 out of 5 

Packaging: Wow that's a lot of packages. I received 5 of their totes and two large paper bags for $100 worth of groceries. I use plastic bags at the grocery store because I reuse them as trash bags for the trash cans in the house and also to scoop out cat litter daily. I think it would have amounted to about the same.

Each of their green totes has a layer of padding in it, followed by a paper bag with handles and then there are frozen gel packs on the top and bottom with your groceries layered in between. They did a really good job of filling them up with like items and not smashing anything. I did have one tote with only a thin package of prosciutto in it, which was strange.
Grade: 3 out of 5

Environment: There is a lot more I could do to be environmentally friendly, but we do at least recycle. This order came with a lot of items to be recycled. All 7 of the paper bags and a plastic sleeve wrapped around each produce item. Each tote comes with at least 6 frozen gel packs in it, which I fully understand wanting to make sure the items are cold, but this was excessive to me. I kept 4 and had to throw out the rest because I simply don't have anywhere else to keep them.
Grade: 2 out of 5

Quality: This was the real category I was worried about. What would the quality of the produce be like? The carrots, lettuce, deli meats, cheeses, ground beef, dry goods, etc. were all perfectly fine. The strawberries were definitely past their sell date. They aren't moldy, but they're mushy. The mushrooms may survive a day or two in the fridge, but likely not more than that. Both of my apples were bruised.
Grade: 3 out of 5

Storage: To me, this is the biggest failure. You keep the totes until your next delivery and then they pick them up. The problem is that you also need to keep the padding in them. I removed it from 3 of the 5 totes and shoved it all into the other two. The three empty ones I was able to fold up like a reuseable grocery tote and shove them in an empty cabinet. The other two are currently hanging out in my dining room overflowing with the filling. If you lived in a small space or don't have a coat closet, like we don't, good luck finding somewhere to keep these. If anything, you'll have a mountain of cat face-scratching blocks or something for your kids to play with.
Grade: 2 out of 5

Cost: I eat a lot of produce. I would say it's 60% of our grocery bill each month. Meats make up 20% and then the rest is dry goods, paper products and cat litter. From the list above, you'll see there were minimal meats and dry goods and no cat litter. As disgusting as it is for two people, I typically spend $125-160 a week. The prices were pretty average to what I pay at Wegman's. There were a couple items that were more expensive but then quite a few cheaper so I think it evened out in the end. Before the $25 off $100 coupon, my order was $133 and it came to just under $108 with tax. If you order more than $40 worth of products, you don't pay a delivery fee.
Grade: 4 out of 5

Overall grade: 3 out of 5 

(A rare Itty sighting. She is quick pleased with the new face scratchers.)

I'll use the service again, especially since we have the free trial, but I'm not sure if its worth it to keep it long term. I think I'd rather go grocery shopping. I am going to try out using Peapod and Walmart's pick up service at some point and see how they work out for us. If you desperately need groceries and can't get to the store, I'd highly recommend it to anyone. However, if you are just doing it to be lazy and avoid going to the store and are picky about your food, maybe it's better for you to keep shopping yourself.

Improv Cooking Challenge: Peach and Hatch Chile Quick Jam

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As soon as I received ingredient suggestions for this year and paired them together, I instantly knew what I wanted to make for this month's ingredients - peaches and peppers.

Before Wegman's came around, I had never heard of a hatch chile before, but after their annual events where they put out stands in the parking lot and roasted the chilies right there, I quickly caught on to the limited time treat and started buying them in bulk so I roast and freeze them to have throughout the year.



Of course, I failed to take into account the date that we would be sharing this recipe and when Wegman's would be hosting their weekend hatch chile event. Unfortunately, this post is about two weeks before I can go buy them in bulk and with my freezer stash depleted, I had to opt for the canned variety of hatch chilies, which is still delicious and turned out great.

I do enjoy canning and have slowly acquired all of the supplies I need for it, but it is a time consuming process and in the summer the one thing I'm rather short on is time. I'd rather be outside or anywhere but in my kitchen over a stove. The best thing about this recipe is that you don't need to go through the canning process or even use pectin to hold the jam together. It's a quick jam heated up on the stove top that will keep in your fridge for a week or two.

For a longer lasting jam (good luck with that!), you'd need to follow basic canning procedures.



Peach and Hatch Chile Quick Jam
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 1 cup
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Ingredients:
    • 3 medium ripe peaches
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 4 oz. canned hatch chiles
    • 1 cup water

Directions:
1. Peel and slice the peaches.
2. Add peaches, sugar and hatch chiles to a medium saucepan. Pour water on top and heat over medium high heat until boiling.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 30-40 minutes or until all of the water has evaporated and mixture is thick and jelly-like.
4. Use a potato masher to break down the peaches into small bits. For a smooth jam, transfer mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. 

5. Store in mason jar containers or a glass container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


If you have fresh hatch chilies, feel free to substitute them in this recipe. I used the medium heat level chilies and this was just perfect. If you aren't a fan of spice, choose the mild variety, or if you really love heat, use the fire spice level! 



Spread on toast, on top of a bagel with cream cheese, over chicken or pork, right out of the jar on a spoon...the possibilities are endless for this jam. 

Improv Cooking Challenge is a group of bloggers who make a recipe using assigned ingredients each month. Participants are encouraged to think outside of the box and use any variety of the ingredients available to them. If you'd like to join us, click here for more information, or visit our Facebook page. 





To check out what the other bloggers have made, look below and for previous challenges, check out our Pinterest board



FilltheCookieJar: Molasses Cookies with Whiskey Buttercream

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#FilltheCookieJar is a blogging event hosted by Cynthia of Feeding Big where bloggers create cookie or bar recipes based off a theme. The theme for August was Grandma's Cookies.

This one threw me for a minute. I don't have any cookie recipes from my grandmother and I've already shared the recipe I have from Tom's grandmother,

I figured I would decide on an old-fashioned cookie recipe and go from there. I decided on molasses cookies and happened to be talking about it with my co-workers when one of the mentioned that I should make them into sandwich cookies and fill them with my whiskey buttercream. I pondered over that for a moment, could I really picture a grandma making cookies in her kitchen and adding some whiskey to the buttercream?



And well yes, I could. I'm sure even grandma could use a drink now and then. I pictured this older woman bustling around her kitchen, the counter filled with flour and sugar, a smudge of flour on her nightgown and she looks over at the clock and sees the grand kids are coming in less than an hour. She pauses, mind whirring and then swiftly makes her way into the dining room, grabs a bottle of whiskey from the cupboard and adds a splash to the buttercream. Then takes a swig herself and returns it back to its place.  Sure brings a new image of "cooking baking grandma" to mind, doesn't it?

Anyway, let's get onto the recipe, shall we?




Molasses Cookies with Whiskey Buttercream
Cookie Source: Pillsbury
Servings: 48 sandwich cookies
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Ingredients:
    • For the Cookies:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ½ cup molasses
    • 1 egg
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • ½ tsp ground ginger
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • whiskey buttercream, recipe below 

Directions:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and mix until combined.
2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a bowl.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until fully combined. Turn out the dough onto a piece of wax paper, wrap up and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Remove from the fridge, roll into a log and refrigerate again until fully chilled, at least a few hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Slice the dough log into ½ inch rounds, then cut into quarters and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and cool on cooling racks.
9. Match up like size cookies. Spread buttercream onto the bottom of one cookie and top with the other, creating a sandwich.


Whiskey Buttercream
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 3 cups

Ingredients:
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 ½ - 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp whiskey
    • ⅛ - ¼ cup heavy cream (or milk)

Directions:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, about ½ cup at a time until fully combined. Add in the salt and vanilla. Taste to see if the additional ½ cup of powdered sugar needs to be added.
3. With the mixer running, add in the whiskey and then drizzle in the heavy cream until the frosting loosens up enough to be spread or piped. Add more powdered sugar if it is too thin, add more heavy cream if it is too loose. 





Now that's a cookie! Molasses and whiskey totally go perfectly together. I made a half batch of these and froze the rest of the dough. I took them into work and they were gone in minutes. My coworker who suggested the idea said they were amazing and that he couldn't believe I used his suggestion. Hey, I know a good suggestion for recipes when I hear one!

See what everyone else made:

No Bake Date and Nut Cookies by That Recipe
Cherry Pie Bars by A Day In The Life On The Farm
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies by Cindy's Recipes and Writings
Molasses Cookies with Whiskey Buttercream by Cookaholic Wife
Hermit Cookies by Palatable Pastime

FoodieExtravaganza: Mini Peaches and Cream French Toast Casseroles

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I am always on the lookout for recipes to make using peaches. I absolutely love the last few weeks of July and the whole month of August because the peach displays in the grocery store are overflowing and perfectly ripe.

So of course I was on board to make a recipe using peaches for Foodie Extravaganza. #FoodieExtravaganza is blogging group where a theme is chosen each month from thenibble.com. We post on the first Wednesday of every month and bloggers take turns hosting. Our host for this month is Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm.



If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.



When I mentioned needing a peach recipe to my coworker (the same one who suggested adding the whiskey buttercream to the molasses cookies), he said I should make a stuffed french toast.

I love french toast but I can never master the art of getting it stuffed to the point where there is enough filling, it photographs nicely and it doesn't fall apart so I decided to do the next best thing and make a stuffed french toast casserole. Which is still pretty hard to photograph nicely, but I tried my best. 😊



Mini Peaches and Cream French Toast Casseroles
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 2 servings
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 2 cups thick cut bread, cut into cubes
    • 2 cups peaches, chopped
    • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 ½ cups milk
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Grease 2 8 oz. ramekins with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up if the casseroles bubble over.
2. Add cream cheese and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fully combined.
3. Press a handful of bread cubes into each ramekin and top with ½ cup of peaches in each. Divide the cream cheese mixture between the ramekins and press into the bread and peaches. Add the remaining peaches and top with the last of the bread cubes.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and cinnamon. Pour half into each ramekin. 

5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
6. Place the ramekins on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. Serve immediately.

I initially made this as a larger casserole in a 9x13 baking dish to take into my coworkers, but Tom was so upset that I didn't leave any home for him that I decided to make it again in individual portions. 





*To make a 9x13 dish portion: double the recipe 


If fresh peaches aren't available in your area, you can make this using frozen peaches as well. Allow them to thaw slightly before chopping.

Check out what everyone else made! 
 

#BundtBakers: Cheese Steak Bundt

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For the past couple of months, I've tried to participate in #BundtBakers, but my recipes have just not turned out and I didn't leave myself enough time to find a new one to make.

Finally, for the July theme of unusual bundts, I've managed to get a recipe that not only worked and turned out right the first time, but tasted great! I could easily eat this once a week. If I took out the green peppers and onions, Tom likely could too. 😊



#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.




Our host for this month is Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Despite a Whiskered Accomplice. I cracked up the first time I read the name of her blog, considering I have two of my own whiskered accomplices. Luckily, mine aren't nearly as involved in my recipe making as her Bengal, Brenna.



The recipe I chose for my unusual bundt was a cheese steak. Thinly shredded beef, cheese, bell peppers and onions all baked up inside of a pizza style dough. Yum!



Cheesesteak Bundt
Source: Cookaholic wife Creation
Servings:4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 package thin-crust refrigerated pizza dough, or homemade
    • 12 oz. thinly shredded beef
    • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 4 slices provolone cheese
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 tbsp melted butter
    • 1 tbsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the thinly sliced beef and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the bell peppers and onions to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened. (If there is not enough fat from the beef to cook them without sticking, add 1 teaspoon oil.)
4. Return the meat to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese on top and stir until melted in.
5. Roll out pizza dough into a 9x13 rectangle. Place two slices of provolone cheese on the dough at the long end. Spread the beef mixture on top and then top with the 2 remaining slices of cheese.
6. Starting from the long end, roll up the pizza dough into a log and then fold into a circle, tucking the ends in on each other.
7. Carefully place into the prepared baking pan. Brush with melted butter then sprinkle the garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning on top. (If using homemade pizza dough, all dough to rest 20 minutes before baking.)
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and the dough is cooked through. Slice into servings and enjoy! 



You could easily serve this along with a marinara dipping sauce to make it more pizza-like.









And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have baked this month:

  • Bacon, Zucchini, Raisins and Cheddar Bundt Cake from I Love Bundt Cakes
  • Cheesesteak Bundt from Cookaholic Wife
  • Cherry Bundt Breakfast Danish from Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
  • Chicken Fajita Bundt Cake from Sew You Think You Can Cook
  • Chive Potato Filled Cheeseburger Meatloaf Bundt from Food Lust People Love
  • Classic Vanilla Flan Bundt from All That's Left Are The Crumbs
  • Pasta Chicken Bundt from Sneha's Recipe
  • Soap Bundt Cake from La Mejor Manera
  • Spinach Pasta Surprise from A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Improv Cooking Challenge: Balsamic Berry Crostini

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    Many, many years ago I found out that putting balsamic vinegar on berries brought out their sweetness. It was something I initially would have never believed or tried, but I'm so glad that I did. I love how the tart vinegar pairs with the sweet berries and while I don't use the combination often, I still enjoy it from time to time.





    The theme for July's Improv Cooking Challenge is balsamic and berries, which really leaves a wide variety of recipes to make. I opted to keep it pretty simple this month and use all fresh ingredients in a dish that can be whipped up quickly. No baking, no fuss and very little mess. Perfect for if you need an appetizer for a last minute party or gathering.


    Balsamic Berry Crostini
    Source: Cookaholic wife Creation
    Servings:16-20
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 1 loaf french bread or other thin bread
      • ½ cup cream cheese, softened
      • 2 tbsp sugar
      • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
      • 16-20 blueberries
      • ⅛ cup balsamic reduction*
      • optional: mint leaves

    Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Slice the french bread into rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until just lightly toasted. 

    3. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until combined. Spread onto the bread rounds.
    4. Top with 1-2 strawberry slices, a blueberry and optional mint leaf.
    5. Drizzle balsamic reduction on top. Serve immediately.


    *To make a balsamic reduction: Combine 1 cup balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup. * This recipe makes more than used above. Extra can be kept in the fridge for a few days. 




    I was running out of daylight to photograph this recipe and ended up rushing my balsamic reduction which is why it doesn't look very pretty. It could have thickened up a lot more but I needed daylight, so I used it before it was really thick enough. Just remember to give yourself enough time! 


    If you are a fan of goat cheese this could easily replace the cream cheese and sugar mixture that was spread onto the crostini.



    This is the perfect combination of light, sweet, and tart. I could easily eat a plate of these all by myself!

    Check out what the other Improv Cooking Challenge bloggers have made!



    Patriotic Berry Slab Pie

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    One of my cousins lives on the Eastern Shore in Maryland has a tradition of hosting a cookout in the beginning of July. This was the first year we've been able to go. I knew I wanted to bring a dessert that was fitting for the fourth of July holiday and also large enough to feed a crowd.

    Insert the idea of a slab pie. First off, these are genius. You make a pie on a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan so it's thinner, cooks faster and feeds a ton of people. I first made an apple version of one last Thanksgiving and considering our guest list for the holiday continues to increase, I think it's going to become a yearly staple.



    I really liked this version of the pie because it requires minimal baking. It's actually pretty similar to fruit pizza if you've ever made one of those before. But why am I sharing it with you on July 7th, three days after the holiday?

    Now that's a story. We came home on Sunday and I planned to get the recipe shared with you on Monday. Except, Comcast had other ideas. The weekend before we had a service call because we had terrible internet connection and couldn't watch anything OnDemand in the evenings without it looking like when you flipped to a channel you didn't get back in the 90's. That tech determined our initial installation was done poorly and added an amplifier, but more importantly informed us that our underground line had a ton of noise in it likely because it was the original installed when the owner's got cable a couple of decades ago. We were told we'd have service, albeit not great, through the replacement of the line.

    Upon arriving home Sunday, there was nada No internet, no cable, no phone. I called in and they pretty much told me they couldn't help me because they needed an update from the dig crew who hadn't contacted either of us since the prior Thursday. I'm told that I'll get a call by Monday afternoon. Of course that came and went so I called in again and the rep was really apologetic, scheduling a tech to come out on the holiday to give us a temporary line so we'd have service.

    That evening I came home and found the red tube was next to the house, what we had been told meant the work was done. Except, still no service. So I kept the appointment and on Tuesday, the tech shows up and spends all of 30 seconds outside. The crew that installed the new line? Yeah, they didn't hook up the service properly. One switch of connecting cables and boom, cable, internet and phone were back.

    Who ever said owning a home was fun? Anyway, now that you know the reason why I couldn't share this with you before the holiday, let's get onto the recipe. It's not like you couldn't make it for Labor Day...


    Patriotic Berry Slab Pie
    Adapted from: Pillsbury
    Servings:24 servings
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 3 refrigerated pie crusts, at room temperature
      • 2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
      • 12 oz. lemon curd or lemon pie filling
      • 2 - 2 ½ cups strawberries, sliced
      • 1 cup blueberries
      • 1 cup raspberries
      • 1 cup blackberries
      • sanding sugar
      • 1 egg

    Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a half sheet pan and a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Roll out two of the pie crusts to cover the half sheet pan. Prick with a fork to stop from rising too much. Beat the egg with 1 tbsp of water and brush lightly over the dough. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until lightly golden.
    3. Roll out the remaining pie crust and cut out star shapes with a cookie cutter. Place on the baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar on top. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden.
    4. Beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the lemon curd and mix until combined.
    5. Allow the bottom of the pie to cool, then spread the cream cheese mixture on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    6. Arrange the strawberries in rows, filling in between each row with blueberries. Fill in any gaps with raspberries and blackberries. Press the cut out stars randomly on top of the fruit.
    7. Refrigerate, covered,  until ready to serve.




    Since you only cook the crust and the topping, this pie can come together in less than an hour, depending on how long it takes you to cut up the fruit and cut out all of the stars. The crust is nice and flaky, the filling not too sweet and the berries being raw gives it the perfect amount of texture without soupiness that sometimes happens with cooked fruit pies.




    You can make the cream cheese mixture in advance, refrigerating it and then allowing it to come to room temperature to easily spread on the crust. The star cut outs can also be made 1 day in advance, being transferred to a sealable container once cooled. 


    #FilltheCookieJar: Monster Reese's Pieces Cookie Bars

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    July's theme for #FilltheCookieJar is back to school. I swear the kids only got out a few weeks ago and traffic has just started to die down, but there are already back-to-school ads for clothing and school supplies, so I suppose we're really just right on time to share a recipe like this.

    #FilltheCookieJar is a blogging event hosted by Cynthia of Feeding Big.



    I thought back to school to figure out what type of cookie or bar I could make for this challenge. In 9th grade, eating lunch from home or the cafeteria wasn't cool, but eating from the vending machines was. So for longer than I care to admit, I'd spend $3 a day to get a bag of Cooler Ranch Doritos, a cherry Coke and a box of Reeses Pieces. The epitome of health, wasn't I? 😉

    While a cookie or bar using Doritos or Coke might have been more creative, I decided to stick with good old candy and find a recipe that used Reese's Pieces.



    Monster Reese’s Pieces Cookie Bars
    Source: Passion for Savings
    Servings:16 servings
    Printer Friendly

    Ingredients:
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 tbsp vanilla
      • 2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
      • ½ tsp salt
      • 6 oz. Reese’s Pieces candy
      • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together brown sugar, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until combined.
    3. Add in the baking mix and salt, mixing until combined, then add in the Reese’s Pieces and mini chocolate chips. The mix will be very thick, you may need to mix in by hand.
    4. Spread into the prepared baking dish in an even layer.
    5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center is set.
    6. Allow to cool, then cut into squares.



    I may have accidentally purchased too many boxes of the Reese's Pieces for this recipe. Yeah, accidentally. I quite enjoyed munching on them while these cookie bars were in the oven.

    These bars come together in no time and are the perfect treat for after school or any time of the year. My coworkers devoured them in less than an hour. 





    Check out what the other #FilltheCookieJar bloggers made!



     Giant Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies by Family Around the Table
      No Bake Brownie Energy Bites by Join Us, Pull up a Chair
      Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies by Jolene's Recipe Journal
      Teachers Rule Cookies By Palatable Pastime
      Clean the Cupboard Cookie Bars by A Day In The Life On The Farm
     Trail Mix Cookies by Home Sweet Homestead 
      Orange Anise Cookies By This and That
      Monster Reese's Pieces Cookie Bars by Cookaholic Wife
      Oatmeal Blueberry Cookies by Organized 31
      Apple Date Cookie Bars by That Recipe 
      Cherry Pie Tassies by Cindy's Recipes and Writings 
      Sesame Balls by Feeding Big
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