Thursday, March 31, 2016

Salted Caramel-Chocolate Dump Cake


small (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 
cups cold milk
box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ devil's food cake mix
1 1/2 
cups chopped caramels
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together chocolate pudding and milk for one minute to combine.
  • Add cake mix ONLY and stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Spread batter evenly into bottom of prepared pan (batter will be thick). Sprinkle with chopped caramels. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste (remember: A little bit goes a long way).
  • Bake cake 30-40 minutes or until edges pull away from sides and a toothpick inserted in the cake portion comes out clean.
  • Remove cake from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
  • Pour chocolate chips into a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is fully melted. Using a spoon, drizzle chocolate over cooled cake.
  • Serve cake with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mint Oreo Brownies

Brownie Layer
  • 1 package (18.3 ounces) fudge brownie mix* + ingredients called for
  • 6-8 oreos
Frosting Layer
  • 3 ounces full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract, not mint extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Green food coloring, optional
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Chocolate Topping
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Andes Mint Baking Chips
  • 1/2 cup, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper with an overhang. This is essential if you want the brownies to come out well.
  2. Follow the directions to make the brownies. Do not add the fudge packet.
  3. Coarsely chop the oreos into pretty small pieces (more for a heavier oreo flavor, I generally use just 6)
  4. Stir in the chopped oreos with the brownie mix.
  5. Bake according to package directions. Remove from the oven when finished baking and add the fudge packet on top. Spread with a spatula.
  6. Place the brownies in the freezer (covered) while preparing the frosting layer.
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the room temperature (not melted at all!) cream cheese and butter until creamy.
  2. Beat in the peppermint extract, salt, and food coloring. Slowly add in the powdered sugar beating in between additions.
  3. Beat until smooth and creamy. Resist the urge to add milk or cream, it will come together, just keep beating it! Taste and add more peppermint extract if desired.
  4. Spread on top of the cooled brownies and return the brownies to the freezer while preparing the topping.
  1. In a large microwave safe bowl, add in the mint chips and butter. Microwave in bursts of 15 seconds stirring for 15 seconds in between each burst until the chocolate is melted and smooth. (I've burned the mint chips by being impatient, so don't microwave longer than 15 seconds without stirring it to avoid burning yours)
  2. Remove the brownies from the freezer and top with the melted mint chips. Tip the brownie pan from side to side to get the chocolate to coat evenly.
  3. Cover the brownies and place in the fridge to allow to full set-up before enjoying.
  4. To cut, remove the completely set-up and chilled brownies from the fridge. Remove brownies from the pan (using the overhang) and cut with a very sharp knife. To get clean cuts, run your knife under very hot water, dry, and then cut in quick fast cuts. The sharper the knife, the less chance you'll have for the chocolate breaking on top.
*My ultimate favorite mix in this recipe is the Betty Crocker's Original Supreme mix (with packet of fudge in it) and another favorite is the Ghiradelli Chocolate Ultimate Fudge Brownie Mix.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked wild and brown rice blend
  •  Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 large onion, diced (a heaping cup)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups no salt added chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • milk or water as necessary to thin soup
  1. Combine all ingredients except cream in a large slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove bay leaves and discard.  Remove chicken thighs, shred and return to slow cooker.
  3. In a medium bowl, place 1/2 cup heavy cream. Slowly whisk 1-2 cups of hot soup into cream. Then, slowly pour that mixture back into the slow cooker while whisking.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving
NOTE: Use the inside stalks of celery with the leaves for soup - they have great flavor.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Quick Lemon-Herb Brine

Quick Lemon-Herb Brine for 1 Chicken, whole or cut into pieces
  • 15 ounces water (or 1/2 liter)
  • 3 ounces salt (or 100 grams)
  • fresh herbs (I used sage )
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked beneath a saute pan
  • 15 ounces ice (500 grams ice), or 15 ounces of ice water
  • 1 chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
  1. Combine all of the above except the ice and chicken in a small pan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover and remove from the heat and let sit for ten minutes.
  2. Put the ice  (or ice water) in a bowl or large measuring cup.  Pour the herb brine over the ice.  Stir till the ice is dissolved.
  3. Put the chicken in a plastic bag, pour the brine in, seal the bag, and let sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
Remove the chicken from the bag, discarding the brine.  Pat it dry and let it sit out for another hour before using (or you can refrigerate it till needed).  Great for roasting, but especially fine for frying