February 13, 2013

Cherry Cordial Cake Mix Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

I really wanted to do make a fun and new Valentine's Day treat this year so I came up with these babies! I've secretly always liked Cherry Cordials and one V-Day my parent's gave us a box of, I don't know maybe 40 cordials, and I ate the entire thing in a week. Needless to say I about died from a sugar overdose and will never be doing that again.
Anyway, I have always loved the flavor pairing of cherry and chocolate, but never really loved the mushy cherry in the center of the cordials. Enter these cookies! You've got the cherry, chocolate and "fondant" flavor mixed into one cookie.
Cake cookies are some of my favorite, too, because they are easy to make and stay so moist for days...if they last that long that is. So if you love cherry and chocolate as much as I do, make these cookies for yourself or someone who does!
Cherry Cordial Cake Mix Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 40 Cookies
For the Cookies
1 (15.25 oz.) box Cherry Chip cake mix (Betty Crocker)
1 (15.25 oz.) box Devil's Food cake mix (any brand)
2/3 cup oil, divided
4 eggs

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl combine Cherry Chip cake mix, 1/3 cup oil and 2 eggs. Stir well with a spoon or spatula (however, your hands works best). Using a cookie scoop, scoop out 1-inch balls of dough and set on a piece of parchment paper. Cut each ball of dough in half and set aside.
3. Repeat Step 2 with Devil's Food cake mix, remaining oil and eggs.
4. To make each cookie, take 1 half of the Devil's Food cake mix dough and 1 half of the Cherry Chip cake mix dough, press together and roll into a ball. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
5. Place each formed cherry/chocolate ball onto a baking sheet, 2 inches a part, and flatten them with the bottom of a flour-dipped glass.
6. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until edges are golden. (The cookies will look fluffy and not done, but they will shrink and crisp up once taken out of the oven.)
7. Let cool for 1 minute in the baking sheet and then place onto a cooling rack. Let cookies completely cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk, more if needed

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the vanilla extract, powdered sugar and milk, mixing until smooth. Add more milk if needed.

February 11, 2013

Trader Joe's Product Review No. 2

We did much better at Trader Joe's this time and we were in love with almost all that we bought! Apparently it takes some practice to find the right products!

1. Sweet Potato Chips: ****
I would have given these 5 stars, but they were definitely "crispy" if you know what I mean. Kind of hard to break down, but they had a fun flavor.

2. 2% Small Curd Cottage Cheese: *****
I've very picky about cottage cheese so you know it's good if I give it 5 stars. This cottage cheese was perfectly creamy and great with the sweet potato chips. (It's not a weird combo, I promise!)

3. Frozen Organic Super Sweet Corn: ****
This corn is great! The kernals are a little large, but I would definitely buy it again. I used them in this soup!

4. Dark Chocolate Filled with Speculoos: *****
I've heard rave reviews about these chocolate bars and was not disappointed! If you don't know what Speculoos is, it's Trader Joe's Cookie Butter. So therefore, these are totally a must-have item.

5. Garlic Salt Grinder: *****
Big fan of this grinder! I think it was only $2 and it includes salt, garlic, parsley and onion flakes that you hand grind and pour out. So easy to use and such a fun idea!

6. Sea Salt Grinder: *****
Of course I loved this grinder as well. It's also my first container of sea salt in my house and I'm in love!  Perfect to sprinkle on top of homemade soft pretzels!

7. Fresh Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough: *****
I fell in love with this dough! I usually always make my own, but this was only a little over a dollar and had such a great flavor. It was really pliable and easy to roll out. It baked well, too. I used it in this recipe here.

8. Inner Peas (Freeze-Dried Garden Peas): **
These weren't a favorite. It was kind of like eating air, but I did finish them off. Just not enough flavor.

9. Frozen French Green Beans: ****
I love these beans as opposed to your standard run-of-the-mill frozen green beans that just don't cut it. Simply boil or steam and mix with a little butter, parmesan, salt and pepper for a perfect side!

10. Orzo: *****
This was my first time using orzo and I thought it was a great substitute for rice. I used it in a broccoli cheese orzo recipe coming soon to the blog!

11. Curry Simmer Sauce: *****
I am definitely a newbie to curry and I totally loved this sauce! It was the perfect amount to mix with 2 shredded chicken breasts and 1 cup of water over rice. (Instructions on the label.) It was slightly sweet, flavorful and made for a very easy weeknight meal.

The best part of this trip was that our total was only a little over $20! We couldn't believe it! Definitely a winning night at Trader Joe's. I think we may know be addicted!

(This is not a sponsored post and are just my personal opinions)

February 8, 2013

Carmelitas - The Thin Version

These were made on a day that I was craving something sweet. I started looking on my Pinterest dessert board and knew I had to make them. I had all of the ingredients and knew my sweet tooth could be satisfied in under an hour.

While the original recipe calls for more ingredients making a much thicker, more decadent Carmelita, I had to have some portion control and didn't want to use an excessive amount of ingredients so I halved the recipe. I came out one happy camper.

Adapted from Lulu the Baker
16 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
6 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
½ tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel.
4. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

*A stint in the fridge will help them cool off if you're pinched for time. They shouldn't be served cold, but all of that molten caramel takes a long time to cool down. They should be stored and served at room temperature.

*To make a thicker more decadent version, simply double the amounts.

February 6, 2013

Green Chili and Lime Chicken Soup

I seriously fell in love with this soup! The shredded chicken, rice, green chili flavor with a splash of lime...pure love! It is a perfect and easy soup to warm up your day!
And don't forget to add plenty of toppings!

Green Chili and Lime Chicken Soup
Adapted from Picky Palate
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
3 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
7 oz. can diced green chilies
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 1/4 cups cooked white rice
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
Pinches of Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and garlic salt to taste
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips
sour cream

1.  Place oil into a large dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onion for 5 minutes then add in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, green chilies, chicken breast, rice, lime juice and seasonings. Cook for 5 minutes; taste and season according to your liking. Right before serving add chopped cilantro.
2.  Serve soup with shredded cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips if desired.  

February 4, 2013

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

There's nothing more decadent than a little Nutella swirled into your banana bread. Or Nutella swirled into anything for that matter.  I just love that stuff. Oh and bananas and Nutella? Totally meant to be together.

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1  tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup vanilla greek yogurt (I used Yoplait Vanilla)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. Nutella
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter with a stand or handheld mixer on medium speed until well blended – about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a wooden spoon, stir in the mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Do NOT overmix. Batter will be thick.
3. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Drop 3 rounded Tbsp. of Nutella onto batter. Swirl with knife until Nutella is swirled across the entire surface. (It should look marbled.)
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

February 1, 2013

Trader Joe's Product Review No. 1

Since I'm a newbie to the world of Trader Joe's I thought I'd do a review of all of the products I try out for those of you who are as lost as I am when I walk into that store. Unfortunately, my first visit to Trader Joe's was a little underwhelming. They didn't foresee how popular the Salt Lake store would actually be and they were out of almost everything. I also wasn't a fan of what we picked, but that didn't stop me from going back. I love food too much!

1. Spiced Cider: *
While this sounded good, it was a little too "spiced" for me. We only drank about 2 glasses of it and tossed the rest out.

2. Cilantro and Jalapeno Hummus: *****
So good! The dollop of cilantro and jalapeno in the middle adds just the right amount of heat for me. This is my husband's favorite and that's saying a lot because he doesn't really care for hummus. It keeps us going back for more!

3. Salted Tortilla Chips: ***
These get 3 out of 5 stars because they were only $3 for a gigantic bag! It was kind of like eating rocks though, but we got used to it I guess because we ate the whole bag. Haha.

4. Chocolate with Vanilla Bean Cream Joe-Joe's: **
I might get in trouble for saying this, but these are meh. Oreos rule the world of cookies and always will, I say! We were able to sample the peppermint Joe-Joe's however and those are much butter.

I promise my next review will be much more positive! Ha.

(This is not a sponsored post and these are just my personal opinions.)