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Recipe Collection: The Best Cheese Lasagna

april 2

I know, I know… after a long weekend full of great food and over eating, the last thing we all need is another opportunity to over eat. But, this lasagna recipe is so good!

Remember to turn your range hood fan on when you start making this very delectable dish, and leave it running for about 15 minutes after you turn the oven off.

Check other tasty recipe in our Recipe Collection.

The Best Cheese Lasagna

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 Tb flour
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely + 1 extra Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 100g ricotta cheese
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese
  • 200g instant lasagne sheets
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add milk a quarter cup at a time, stirring constantly. Stir over medium heat until smooth and thick.
  2. Remove sauce from heat and add 1 Tbsp basil, all the ricotta, and half the Parmesan. Adjust seasoning.
  3. Grease an ovenproof 12″x16″ lasagna pan. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ricotta mixture on the bottom of the pan. Lay one layer of lasagne sheets on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with a little of the Parmesan and basil. Continue to layer with lasagne sheets, Parmesan, a little of the ricotta mixture, and basil. Top the last layer of lasagne sheets with the remaining sauce and Parmesan.
  4. Bak at 350°F for about 45 minutes or until the lasagne sheets are tender.

Enjoy!

Recipe Collection – Breaded Chive Chicken

Sometimes you just need a simple and delicious recipe that you can whip up with almost no effort. This Breaded Chive Chicken recipe is perfect on every level. Because there is some frying involved, remember to turn on the range hood fan about 15 minutes before you start cooking and leave it running for about 15 minutes after you’re done cooking. That will ensure that as much of the fumes, smoke, grease, and odors have been drawn up and out of your kitchen.

This recipe is perfect in a sandwich the next day. It’s lovely in a picnic, too!

Check out our other great recipes in our collection.

Chicken Chive Surprise

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp chives, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • dry breadcrumbs
  • oil for deep frying
  1. Pound chicken breasts until flat.
  2. Combine butter with egg yolk, chives, and garlic. Divide into 4 equal parts. Roll into a sausage shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard.
  3. Wrap each chicken breast around each piece of butter. Close chicken with a toothpick. Toss stuffed chicken breast in flour. Dip into beaten eggs, and press into breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Pour several inches of oil into a deep pot. Heat oil to 350°F. Dip stuffed chicken breasts into oil being careful not to crowd the pot or allow the oil to splatter out. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Recipe Collection: Chicken Kabobs!

jan. 26

Cook these chicken kabobs up on an indoor or outdoor grill. You’ll love them either way. Just remember, if you’re cooking these indoors, turn the range hood fan on about 15 minutes before you begin grilling, and leave it running for about 15 minutes after you’ve finished cooking.

Find more great recipes in our Recipe Collection.

Chicken Kabobs!

  • 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 1-1/2 cups barbecue sauce (use your favorite variety)
  1. Soak 16 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Toss chicken pieces with oil, oregano, and salt.
  3. Thread chicken, onions, peppers, and zucchini onto skewers.
  4. Grill kabobs over medium heat, turning once or twice and brushing with barbecue sauce, for about 15 minutes, or until no longer pink inside and meat thermometer registers 170°F.

Enjoy!

The Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer

Nov. 23

Looking for a quick appetizer to serve before your fabulous Thanksgiving dinner? This one is it! These Prosciutto and Apricot Sticks are so tasty that it will be hard to stop at just one. There are so many ways to customize this app according to the ingredients you have on hand in the fridge.

If you don’t have prosciutto, use whatever sliced meat you do have. No apricot jam? No problem. Use jam of a different fruit or even honey. Missing bread sticks? Reach for crackers.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. We hope you have a wonderful and delicious feast!

Prosciutto and Apricot Sticks

  • 24 bread sticks
  • 4 Tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
  • 24 slices prosciutto
  1. Heat jam in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir in mustard. Once the jam-mustard mixture has melted, let cool slightly.
  2. Brush each slice of prosciutto with a little of the apricot mixture. Wrap the slice around the bread stick as tightly as possible.

Enjoy! Find more Thanksgiving recipes here.

Easy Weeknight Recipes

Let’s face it, there are days in the weeks when you just don’t feel like cooking. Actually, forget the cooking – there are days where you dread standing in the kitchen washing dishes for an hour after dinner so badly that you’d rather starve or spend money outside of your budget to go pick something up. After all, who really wants to be spend a long day at work and then come home to figure out dinner plans that will leave you spending half your night in the kitchen? For all the single people out there, it might not be such a dilemma, but for those folks with kids who just have to be fed, it’s not quite as simple as ignoring the hunger pains or going to find a few things off the dollar menu at your local fast food joint.

So, if you’re not in the mood to go all-out for dinner during the week, check out these simple, yet delicious dinner recipes to make throughout your busy weeknights.

Taco Baked Pasta
Everyone loves pasta, and most people love tacos, so why not combine the two? This recipe is delicious, easy to make, and the perfect solution for those week nights when you just don’t feel like spending your few hours of free time standing over a hot stove.
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Photo Credit: Buzzfeed.com

Ingredients:
250 grams whole wheat penne, uncooked
250 grams ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tsp garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Ortega taco seasoning
3/4 cup spreadable cheese (we used Laughing Cow)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese 

Instructions:
Cook pasta as directed in package, set aside.
Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil.
Add beef and cook for 3-5 minutes (make sure not to overcook).
Season with salt, pepper and taco seasoning.
Turn off fire.Toss together meat and pasta mixture.
Mix in spreadable cheese.
Transfer to a casserole. Top with grated cheddar cheese.
Bake in preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese has melted. 

Recipe via Pepper

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
Everyone enjoys a good chicken pot pie, but not everyone is willing to go to the trouble of making one from scratch. We all know those pre-made, microwavable things just don’t do the trick, so here’s an easy weeknight recipe that will hit the spot just right.

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Photo Credit: pipanddebby.com

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots (approximately 4 medium)
2 cups frozen peas
1 yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
14.5-oz. can chicken broth
10.5-oz. can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour (optional: use for a thicker sauce)
9-inch refrigerated pie crust

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 ½-quart round baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, peas, onions, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft and the onion is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the chicken, chicken broth, soup, milk and flour (if using). Mix well and cook over medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes.

Pour the contents of the skillet into the prepared baking dish. Cover with the pie crust, letting the edges hang over the sides of the dish. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits into the dough. Place baking dish on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cut pizza-style and serve warm!

Recipe via Pip and Debby

Parmesan-Baked Chicken Nuggets
Chicken nuggets are an American favorite and there are times when even adults can enjoy them. One of the best things about them is that they are quick and easy as a weeknight dinner, and dipped in your favorite sauce, they become the ultimate meal plan.

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Photo Credit: gimmesomeoven.com

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely-grated or powdered Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Coarse sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
(optional) sauces for serving

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread panko out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small mixing bowl, then add Parmesan, and thyme. Toss until combined. Rinse off the baking sheet, then cover with parchment paper.

Place flour and eggs in separate shallow dishes. Increase temperature to 450 degrees.

Generously season the chicken with a few pinches of salt and pepper. One at a time, add a piece of chicken to the flour, and toss until coated, shaking off excess. Then dip it in egg until coated. Then transfer to the panko mixture, and toss until it is completely coated (pressing to adhere the Panko if needed). Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve chicken nuggets warm with dipping sauce(s), if desired.

Recipe via Gimme Some Oven

Broccoli and Cheese Quesadillas
A delicious and healthy recipe that only takes minutes to make, this broccoli and cheese quesadilla the perfect solution for a weeknight dinner. In fact, you might have all the ingredients on hand already so it saves a shopping trip, too!

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Photo Credit: picky-palate.com

Ingredients:
11 ounce Green Giant™ Tuscan Broccoli Seasoned Steamers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 burrito size tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:
Heat Green Giant™ Tuscan Broccoli Seasoned Steamers according to package direction. Open bag carefully and with kitchen shears, cut broccoli into smaller pieces to fit inside quesadilla.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread butter on one side of each tortilla. Using one tortilla at a time, place buttered side down into skillet. Place 1/4 cup shredded cheese onto one half of tortilla then an even layer of Tuscan Broccoli. Top with another 1/4 cup shredded cheese and with a spatula fold tortilla over filling. Cook until both sides are golden brown and cheese is hot and melted.

Cut each tortilla in half and serve warm.

Makes four servings, 2 halves each

Recipe via Picky-Palate

30-Minute Skillet Lasagna
Lasagna can be a great dinner item, but it often takes a lot of prep work and quite a bit of time in the oven before it’s actually ready to go. This version of lasagna only takes about 30 minutes before it’s ready-to-eat, and you still get all the great flavors of a traditional lasagna recipe.

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Photo Credit: fivehearhome.com

Ingredients:
1 (28 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
Water
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground beef
Garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian herbs (such as basil, oregano, thyme, parsley), divided
8 ounces bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese

Instructions:
Pour can of diced tomatoes (with juices) into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until the mixture measures 4 cups. Stir in tomato sauce and sugar; set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil; tilt pan to coat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add ground beef and cook until done. Drain grease, season meat with garlic salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs.

Scatter pasta over meat and pour tomato mixture over pasta without stirring. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, covered, stirring every 5 minutes. Cook until pasta is tender, for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more garlic salt, pepper, and/or sugar, if necessary. Remove from heat and dollop heaping tablespoons of ricotta all over surface of pasta mixture. Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining fresh herbs and Parmesan.

Tips, Tricks, & Variations
I use a 5 1/2-quart saute pan when making this recipe, but any large, deep skillet (with a lid) should work.

Each time you stir the lasagna, push down on the pasta so that it’s all submerged in tomato sauce before recovering with the lid.

If sauce is evaporating too quickly during 20 minute simmering time, additional tomato sauce and/or water may be stirred in as needed.

Use your favorite fresh herbs. You may use all basil or a combination of basil, oregano, thyme, parsley. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you may use dried (but use less since dried herbs are more concentrated).

Be sure to taste and adjust seasonings at the end before topping with the ricotta. If the tomatoes sauce is too acidic, add a bit more sugar.

Recipe via Five Heart Home

We think these are some of the best recipes to try when you’re still looking for a “real” meal without all the fuss. We’d love to hear from you regarding your own favorite weeknight meals. Leave your comments and suggestions below!

Pumpkin Recipes

What does everything need? More pumpkin! Earlier this month we wrote abut How to Make Paletas. Now, we’re getting ready for the season by preparing you with some recipes revolving around one of the most beloved ingredients of them all: pumpkins.

Cinnamon Swirled Glazed Pumpkin Coffee Cake from Buns in My Oven

Karly of Buns in My Oven created this pumpkin pie and coffee cake hybrid. This cake includes powdered sugar glaze, cinnamon and a crumb topping. Looking at the photo, you can see how the two textures combined. It looks delicious! Karly shares recipes for treats on her blog and she also posts dinner recipes.

Cinnamon Swirled Pumpkin Coffee Cake - dense and creamy like a pumpkin pie!

Photo & Recipe from: http://www.bunsinmyoven.com/2013/09/30/cinnamon-swirled-glazed-pumpkin-coffee-cake/

Perfectly Pumpkin Gooey Cookie Bar from Your Home Based Mom

This recipe is proof that if we’re creative, we can think of endless ways to use pumpkin. And we’re okay with that. Your Home Based Mom, written by a mother of four, turned a seven layer bar recipe into this gooey pumpkin bar recipe. This bar is made up of six layers. The first is Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin cake mix, then white chocolate chips, then cinnamon chips, then pecans, then sweetened condensed milk and then toffee chips.

Perfectly Pumpkin Gooey Cookie Bars

Photo & Recipe from: http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/perfectly-pumpkin-gooey-cookie-bars/

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins from Sally’s Baking Addiction

This recipe is another hybrid; this time it’s a mix of cupcake, crumb cake and pumpkin bar. The bottom of this is a pumpkin muffin with a cheese cake filling. It’s topped with a brown sugar streusel.

Sally started this blog to share recipes with her friends and family. She has a marketing degree from Loyola University and a German Shepherd/Rottweiler named Jude.

These Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins are incredible! Cinnamon-spiced and topped with tons of streusel. Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Photo & Recipe from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/10/24/pumpkin-cheesecake-muffins/

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes from My Whole Food Life

We decided to include one healthier recipe to hopefully balance out all of the cookie bars and muffins you’ll be eating. This paleo recipe comes from Melissa who blogs healthy recipes. She and her family are vegans and do not eat processed food. There is no refined sugar or flour in these cupcakes; they include bananas, pumpkin puree, coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and sea salt. They taste like regular pumpkin pie! The topping, which is made before serving, contains coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla beans. Store these in the fridge and enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Photo & Recipe from: http://mywholefoodlife.com/2014/09/07/paleo-pumpkin-pie-cupcakes/

 

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte with Pumpkin Syrup from Life of a Whisk

 

Of course, this blog post wouldn’t be complete without a homemade version of Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte. You may need to start making these at home if you become addicted, like so many of us tend to do around this time. Sarah’s version of this well-loved drink includes coffee/espresso, pumpkin spice syrup, whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, ginger, milk, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, etc. At one point, you will need to strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or another strainer.

Copycat Pumpkin Spice Latte

Photo & Recipe from: http://lifeofawhisk.com/copycat-starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte-pumpkin-syrup/

Enjoy these pumpkin puree filled recipes!

Fun Recipes for Kids

Fun recipes make cooking more engaging and exciting for kids. It’s important for kids to become comfortable with cooking so they can lead healthier lifestyles as they grow up. Allow your kids to associate cooking with healthy meals and being creative. The kids in your family may also enjoy some of the 30 Minute Meals we wrote about last week.

Kid-friendly recipes are also a good strategy for getting picky eaters to eat more. Sometimes it’s just difficult to convince a kid to eat an entire meal in one sitting. Below are some fun recipes to try at home.

Hot Dogs & Spaghetti Bites

Hot dogs and spaghetti sound like a good combination, right? Those are two of the most popular food choices among kids, and this recipe brings them together in a fun way. An example is the Threaded Spaghetti Hot Dog Bites from Very Culinary. Amy broke pieces of spaghetti and threaded them into bite size pieces of hot dog before cooking the pasta al dente. You can then add your favorite sauce and enjoy.

Threaded Spaghetti Hot Dog Bites (Before and After)

Photo & Recipe from: http://veryculinary.com/2011/10/27/threaded-spaghetti-hot-dog-bites/

Tortilla Pizza

Janine, author of True Aim Parenting & Education, let’s her four kid assemble their own pizzas. It’s super easy and quick; her secret is using tortillas as the pizza crust. It creates thin pizza crust and kids have a blast making it.

According to Janine, kids are more willing to eat vegetables when you present them as pizza toppings. The kids assemble the pizzas and she puts them in the oven at 400 degrees for eight minutes.

5 second pizza crust

Photo & Recipe from: http://www.trueaimeducation.com/cooking-with-kids-5-second-pizza-crust/

Twisty Pretzels

Use this 30 minute recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction with whole wheat flour to get your kids excited about forming dough into pretzel shapes. The recipe calls for yeast, water, sugar, flour and an egg wash. Start with three cups of flour and as more as you need it.

Give each kid a small ball of dough so they can make their own pretzels. Form dough into hearts, stars and any other shapes you can think of. Egg wash the pretzels on both sides, top with salt and bake for ten minutes at 425 degrees.

30 Minute Homemade Soft Pretzels - soft, chewy, and EASY! Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Photo & Recipe from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/12/25/30-minute-whole-wheat-pretzels/

Fruity Popsicles

Popsicles are a fun food and an excellent trick for getting kids to eat fruit. There are also popsicle recipes out there that call for yogurt. Even if the popsicle is dipped in chocolate, at least the inside is made up of fruit smoothie or whole fruits.

Buy popsicle molds or use small cups and sticks. Try out some recipes on Artsy Fartsy Mama, where Lindsay lists 36 popsicle recipes for you to try with your family: http://www.artsyfartsymama.com/2013/05/36-homemade-popsicle-recipes.html.

Enjoy these recipes, and let us know what tips and tricks you use to get your kids to cook and eat healthy.

 

Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

We all get stressed out when things aren’t going our way, and we’ve all been there when a recipe isn’t going as planned. Sometimes you were mistaken and you don’t actually have that one ingredient you needed. Here are some tips and tricks for reducing cooking stress and stress we get in the kitchen. Follow these tips for a more peaceful experience. Also, don’t forget to run the range hood while you’re cooking to avoid pesky smoke, smell and grease.

-Read the entire recipe before you start cooking. It’s stressful to work on a recipe when you get halfway through and you figure out you don’t have everything you need to bring it to completion. Skimming the recipe ahead of time can help you avoid problems like these.

-Set out all of the ingredients before you before getting started. This helps ensure you have all of the necessary ingredients before you get elbow deep in the recipe. It also helps to measure out everything ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling to sauté something while chopping something while stirring a pot of food while…well, you get the picture.

-Use a smart phone or tablet app, like Tastebud, that will tell you what you can make with what’s already in the fridge. That means no more last minute runs to the grocery store to finish that recipe you’re working on and no more spending money when you have food at home that is going to go bad if you don’t use it.

-Keep your kitchen clean and organized for stress-free cooking, Keep your knives sharpened and have a place for everything so you always know where it is. Also, clean as you go so there isn’t a stressful clean up at the end of the meal when everyone disappears and you’re left with a sink full of dirty dishes.

-Delegate! Ask someone to chop up the salad, set the table, run the dishwasher, etc. Don’t leave it all up to one person, especially if he or she is doing all of the cooking.

-Learn some slow cooker recipes so you can make a big batch of food for the next couple of days. You can prepare slow cooker recipe ingredients ahead of time and freeze them all together in a bag; when you’re ready to leave the house, just dump the bag into the slow cooker and dinner will be ready when you get home.

-When you bring home food from the grocery store, prepare it so it’s easy to cook when you’re hungry. For example, divide meat and chicken and freeze it in easy to manage portions. With produce, go ahead and wash it; separate it so it’s ready to be thrown in the pot or into the salad bowl.

-Lastly, eat foods that relieve stress. Avocados and bananas contain potassium, which lowers blood pressure; fish contains omega-3 fats, which calms the mind; carrots are fun to munch on without containing lots of calories; and chocolate releases serotonin and improves mood.

Good luck cooking in the kitchen , and remember, don’t stress out!

Chocolate Recipes

In honor of National Chocolate Day, which fell on Monday, July 7 this year, we are dedicating this week’s recipe blog to chocolate creations. If you feel like some delicious summer recipes, check out our last blog about food: Fourth of July Recipes.

Chocolate goes all the way back to the times of the Aztecs and the Mayans, who popularized a chocolate drink. Chocolate is created from the seeds of the cacao tree. The seeds are fermented, dried and roasted before being ground into what we know as chocolate.

What is it about chocolate that drives us so crazy? Chocolate releases a neurotransmitter, dopamine, which makes us feel good. The feelings chocolate makes us experience are partially traced to the food’s mouth-feel. Chocolate also contains chemicals, like caffeine and theobromine, which make people feel pleasure and more energized. Lastly, in general, chocolate is associated culturally with rewards and with romantic love.

Below are some recipes, which revolve around the wonderful substance known as chocolate:

Chocolate Ice Cream

This ice cream recipe from One Chopping Board by Joel includes sweetened condensed milk, dark chocolate buttons, whipping cream, sweetened cocoa powder and vanilla extract. The ingredients are mixed and frozen over night. You can add any mix-ins you want or eat it as is. Throw it in an ice cream cone or eat it with fruit if you desire.

Recipe from: http://onechoppingboard.com/chocolate-ice-cream/

 

Ultimate Brownies

Culinary school graduate Tessa invented this brownie recipe to satisfy all of those cravings and the longing we feeling for the perfect brownie. These are chewy in the middle and have a crunchy top. She used semisweet chocolate chips, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, unsweetened chocolate, eggs, sea salt, vanilla extract and flour. She also recommends using a cake tester to tell when these amazing brownies are done cooking. Tessa really sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.

Recipe from: http://www.handletheheat.com/2014/05/ultimate-brownies.html#_a5y_p=1704248

 

Triple Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

Laura, author of Tutti Dolci, shared this recipe for cookies that don’t require multiple trips to the oven. She likes to bake with local ingredients and has been blogging since 2010. She used a tart shell and mixed semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. You can customize the chocolate in this recipe to your preference. This recipe includes a lot of ingredients, so be sure to read it thoroughly, and don’t forget to save some chocolate chips to put on top of your giant cookie cake.

Recipe from: http://tutti-dolci.com/2014/04/triple-chocolate-cream-cheese-cookie-bars/

Nutella Hot Chocolate

Ali of Gimme Some Oven came up with the idea to mix Nutella into her hot chocolate. Who doesn’t love Nutella, right? Hazelnut chocolate-y goodness is what it’s all about. She mixed Nutella and milk to create her hot chocolate and suggests adding your favorite hot chocolate toppings. Ali shares quick, easy and delicious recipes on her blog.

Recipe from: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/nutella-hot-chocolate/

We hope these recipes bring you some comfort and that you have fun experimenting with chocolate.

Fourth of July Recipes

We’ve got Fourth of July covered this year – just check out this spread and see if there’s anything you’d like to try whipping up for your Independence Day celebration. Our last recipe-centric blog was dedicated to Breakfast Recipes. Today, we’re all about the holiday cheer.

Start off the party with a refreshing drink that is also visually festive. Layered drinks are fun to make and can be the highlight of the party. The trick is to mix the drinks in order depending upon the colors and sugar content in each mixture. According to Get Creative Juice, you can check the label on the juice to see how much sugar it contains. The juice with the most sugar goes on the bottom and the juice with the least sugar goes on top. Pour your mixture into a mason jar for a look that will stand out.

Photo & Recipe from: http://www.getcreativejuice.com/2012/07/tutorial-4th-of-july-layered-drinks.html

For the entrée, start with an American classic: the cheeseburger. This recipe for Queso Burgers is from The Recipe Critic and is a Mexican spin on the hamburger. It’s almost like a hamburger nacho. These burgers are made with a sirloin patty and buns. The cheese sauce is made out of Velveeta and Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies. No queso sauce would be complete without Rotel, right? It’s then topped with lettuce and tomato. These could be the hit of your Independence Day party.

Photo & Recipe from: http://therecipecritic.com/2013/08/queso-burgers/

For dessert, try a twist on a classic: a Blue Velvet Cupcake. This recipe is from HGTV. You can even make some Red Velvet Cupcakes alongside these so you’ll have the full spectrum of red, white and blue on hand at the snack table. Make the frosting with cream cheese, vanilla extract, butter and powdered sugar. You can also bake a quick batch of cookies with some food coloring and cut out little stars for the toppings. Alternatively, decorate them however you wish, with red, blue and white sprinkles or whatever your heart desires.

Photo & Recipe from: http://www.hgtv.com/holidays-and-entertaining/blue-velvet-cupcake-recipe/index.html

It’s not a Fourth of July bash without burgers and hot dogs! Try out this recipe for Blat Dogs from Taste and Tell. Not only are these hot dogs topped with everything you can think of; they’re also wrapped in bacon. Bacon makes everything better, right? The Blat is the hot dog version of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. This hot dog has a refreshing taste with some added avocado and ranch dressing. The ranch is made from sour cream and ranch seasoning.

BLAT Dogs - Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato Hot Dogs | www.tasteandtellblog.com

Photo & Recipe from: http://www.tasteandtellblog.com/blat-dogs/

Last but not least, you’ll need a side at the table. Why not good old-fashioned mac and cheese? It’s delicious and filling. This Homestyle Mac and Cheese recipe is from High Heels & Grills and looks just like mom’s. This recipe uses pasta, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, cheddar cheese and cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper gives it a kick and the evaporated milk makes it nice and super creamy. This is a quicker version of this food blog’s crockpot mac and cheese.

Photo & Recipe from: http://www.highheelsandgrills.com/2013/06/homestyle-mac-and-cheese.html

There you have it. You’re now prepared with four fantastic recipes in your back pocket for this Fourth of July weekend. Wherever you are and whatever you happen to be eating tomorrow, we hope you have a great Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day!