Best Ever Homemade Pizza Sauce and Copycat Pizza Hut Supreme Pizza

Supreme Pizza

Jeff and I have date night every Tuesday night.  We don’t really make a big production out of it.  Most of the time, Jeff will bring home a bottle of wine,  we eat dinner together, and watch our favorite T.V. show.  I try to make something Jeff enjoys for dinner, light candles, turn on some favorite music while we eat, and make a point of eating at the table so we can talk without distractions.  It gives us a chance to focus on each other for a little while. We both look forward to it.  Sometimes I will make pizza because I know he really likes it, and it goes great with wine.  I am kind of picky about pizza.  I love Pizza Hut because the sauce is so flavorful.  This sauce is very similar to Pizza Hut’s sauce.  It is thick, and rich, and

Supreme Pizza

full of flavor due to all of the seasonings, onion, and garlic.

Supreme Pizza

You can have a batch made up in about 30 minutes, and then all you have to do is roll out your pizza dough and spread it on.

Supreme Pizza

Then start adding the toppings.  We both like the Supreme Pizza from Pizza Hut which includes bell pepper,

Supreme Pizza

sausage,

Supreme Pizza

mushrooms,

Supreme Pizza

onions,

Supreme Pizza

olives,

Supreme Pizza

and cheese.

Supreme Pizza

Then just put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and you have a mouth-watering, amazing pizza perfect for date night, family game night, or any time you are craving pizza.

Supreme Pizza

I recently heard a story about a couple who felt like they were doing pretty well in their marriage.  They had been having date night once a week, but decided to stop it as their life was so busy.  After a year without date night, things between them had fallen apart, so they decided maybe their date nights were why they had a good marriage.  They then decided to have 2 date nights a week!  I think 2 might be pushing it a little for us, but one night a week has worked out really well.  I don’t know if that has contributed to our marriage, but why take a chance and mess with a good thing?  Especially if it involves pizza! :)

Supreme Pizza

Homemade Pizza Sauce and Supreme Pizza

  • Servings: enough sauce for 2 large pizzas
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes, undrained, and chopped
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onions and saute until limp.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low, and add minced garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until garlic is cooked, about 5 minutes.  Watch carefully so garlic doesn’t brown.
  4. Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes until liquid is reduced a little.
  5. Remove bay leaf.
  6. Set aside until ready to use.

For the Supreme Pizza:

  • 1 pizza crust, homemade or store-bought (Trader Joe’s has good pizza dough)
  • 1 batch of homemade pizza sauce
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound hot or regular pork Italian sausage, cooked
  • 1 purple or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar Kalamata olives or 1 can black olives sliced in half
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven according to recipe or package directions.
  2. Sprinkle flour over flat surface, and roll out pizza dough to desired thickness.
  3. Place dough on large cookie sheet or pizza pan.
  4. Spread sauce over dough leaving a half-inch border around the edges.
  5. Layer bell pepper, sausage, onion, mushrooms, and olives on top of sauce.
  6. Sprinkle cheese over all.
  7. Bake according to recipe or package directions.  (I used a piece of foil tented over pizza until last 10 minutes so cheese wouldn’t burn.)
  8. Let sit for 5 minutes, then slice into pieces, and serve immediately.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, obtained originally from my friend Betsy Duzan

Supreme Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Company, Family Favorites, Italian, Main Dish, Party Recipes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Perfect Pancakes

I am so relieved to post this recipe for these pancakes today.  You see, I have a completely irrational fear that I am going to lose this recipe.  And that would be terrible.  Because this is the best recipe for pancakes that I have ever tasted.  I used to think I didn’t like pancakes.  I had tried box mixes to make them, and I had tried to make them from scratch. They always tasted like cardboard to me.  Even with lots of butter and syrup, they were just boring.  And then my husband and I visited my Aunt Marlene and Uncle Don.  My aunt made us pancakes.  I still remember the moment in time when I took that first bite. It was like the heavens opened and angels began to sing!  It was a revelation.  I do like pancakes!   I just don’t like boring, tasteless pancakes that taste like cardboard.

Perfect Pancakes

I have made these so many times since then.  They are one of my favorite things to make at the cabin when we have a lot of people staying with us because it makes a lot of them, and it seems like people like them as much as I do.  I usually serve them with bacon or sausage and fresh fruit.  It’s really important to use real butter and real syrup with these.  That sends them completely over the top.  I melt the butter, too.  There is nothing worse than pancakes with butter on them that won’t melt because the pancakes have cooled off a little bit.  :(  I also warm the syrup.  It just makes for a better pancake experience and if you are going to go to the trouble of making pancakes, why not go all out?

Perfect Pancakes

I think the reason these pancakes turn out so well is because a of reaction between the buttermilk and the baking powder.  The recipe calls for you to not combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until the last-minute.  When you do, the mixture seems to gurgle and bubble a little bit.  The result is a light, fluffy pancake with tiny air pockets through out.  It is also important to grease your griddle heavily with canola or vegetable oil.  First of all it helps them not stick, but in addition it helps them taste better.  Maybe because they get that slightly crispy outer edge and helps them brown better.  Just trust me.  It’s a good thing!  They are called Perfect Pancakes.  Not diet pancakes.  Save them for special occasions and all will be well.

Perfect Pancakes

I don’t know if I have ever told my aunt how much I love her pancake recipe and how grateful I am that she made them for us that day.  That is another reason for wanting to get this recipe on the blog, because I wanted to let her know how much I appreciate it.  We share a love of cooking, and in the past when she visited, we picked out some new recipes that we wanted to make together and then spent the day in the kitchen cooking and talking.  That is one of my favorite memories.  So thank you, Marlene, for being a wonderful aunt, and sharing your love of cooking and recipes with me.  And thanks for helping me to discover that I do like pancakes after all!

Marlene and Shari

Perfect Pancakes

  • Servings: about 12 medium sized pancakes
  • Time: 20 minutes not including cooking time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 c real buttermilk (don’t substitute anything else)
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • extra butter for the top of pancakes
  • syrup
  • canola oil for the griddle
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to mix.  Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, milk, eggs, and melted butter.  Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook.
  3. Using a brush or paper towel, spread a good amount of canola oil over griddle.
  4. Heat griddle to 300 – 350 degrees or medium to medium high heat.
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon to blend.  Stir until it’s just blended together.  Do not over stir!
  6. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle using a 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup measuring cup, depending on how big you want them.  If they are too big, the middle won’t cook through.
  7. Brown on both sides.  I oiled the griddle between each set of pancakes.
  8.  Serve immediately with melted butter and warm syrup.
  9. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, given to me by my wonderful Aunt Marlene Christner, and originally found on allrecipes.com

 

Posted in Breakfast, Cabin Recipes, Company, Family Favorites, Recipes, Weekend Meals | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Royal Palms Resort and Spa – Phoenix’s Best Kept Secret

Royal Palms Resort

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary.  He was very sweet and took me to one of my favorite places – The Royal Palms Resort and Spa.  It is located at the base of Camelback Mountain, one of the prettiest areas in Phoenix.  I absolutely love this hotel! There are a lot of nice hotels in the Phoenix area which have fun pools and water slides and are great for a family weekend with the kids, but this destination hotel is more for a quiet, relaxing get-away which was just what we were wanting.

As you go through the gates, you are greeted by a brick driveway lined with palm trees. You feel as if you are entering something special, and you are.

The hotel dates back to 1929 and is a combination of Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, and Southwestern architecture and decor. The first thing you see as  you walk through the entryway is a beautiful courtyard , common in the Spanish Colonial style.  In the middle of this inviting area is a fountain surrounded at its base by colorful tiles.

Royal Palms Resort

In fact, there are fountains of all shapes and sizes hidden in every nook and cranny throughout the grounds.

Royal Palms Resort

Royal Palms Resort

Royal Palms Resort

Everywhere you look there are arches,

Royal Palms Resort

wooden doors and shutters,

Royal Palms 30th Anniversary Weekend (25)autocorrectlightand colorcropped

Royal Palms Resort and Spa

metal fixtures,

Royal Palms Resort

and art.

Royal Palms Resort

Plants and flowers line the walkways that wind all over the property.

Royal Palms Resort

I am amazed at how green and lush the grounds look at this time of year.

Royal Palms Resort

Everything is dead in my yard right now due to the heat.  I need to talk to their gardener!

Royal Palms 30th Anniversary Weekend (24)cropped

There are lots of places to sit, relax, and enjoy your surroundings.

Royal Palms Resort

Royal Palms Resort

Royal Palms Resort

The buildings themselves make you feel like you have gone back in time, and have happened upon an old Spanish mission.

Royal Palms Resort

2007 06 21 jask at royal palms 016autocorrectsaturation

But don’t let that fool you.  They are known for their amenities including a spa with all different types of massages, facials, and body therapies which can be enjoyed indoors or out, depending on the time of year.

Royal Palms Resort

There is also a beautiful pool, not too big, and not too small with a choice of lounge chairs or your own shaded casita if the sun is too strong.  Food and drinks can be ordered to eat poolside from the friendly staff.

Royal Palms Resort

There are all different types of rooms available and the styles are in keeping with the feel of the resort.

Royal Palms Resort

I loved that they had a Keurig in our room, tucked away in an armoir.

Royal Palms Resort

And all the while, Camelback Mountain is standing strong in the background, adding to the atmosphere of the place.

Royal Palms Resort

There is even a nationally acclaimed restaurant (T. Cooks) on the property so you never have to leave the serenity of your stay unless you want to.  They are known for using seasonal and local ingredients in their creative dishes.  We told them about our anniversary so they put rose petals on our table, and gave us a yummy dessert that I am still dreaming about!

Royal Palms Resort

I have only just begun to show you all there is to offer at the Royal Palms.  I feel like the rude neighbor who keeps going on and on showing his vacation pictures as you fall asleep on the couch! I just really love this place and wanted to let you know about it.  I will stop there, but if you want to experience the most relaxing and beautiful weekend of your life or just find out more about the resort, click on the link below.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa

5200 E Camelback Rd.

Phoenix, AZ 85018

(602) 840-3610

Special thanks to my dad for letting me use some of his pictures from his stay with my mom for their 50th anniversary.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Hotel Reviews, Things to Do in Arizona | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Melt in Your Mouth Cuban Sliders

Cuban SlidersI don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned before how recipes are chosen for making and reviewing for Cook AZ I Do.  It is a very random scientific and emotional mathematical process how recipes come to be presented on this blog.  So I thought today I would let you know how sporadically carefully and haphazardly logically they come about. Actually, now that I think about it, the formula for the way they are chosen is whatever I am craving that week too complex and complicated to explain here so you will just have to trust me that it is all a thoroughly researched and important process.  :) Seriously though, I really just make the foods I have seen and can’t get out of my mind or can’t stop thinking about.  It may seem silly, but it makes cooking fun, and I always look forward to getting into my kitchen to try a new recipe.  This one definitely falls into the category of not being able to stop thinking about it until I made it.  Although now I can’t get these sandwiches out of my mind because I want more.  They were so good!

Cuban Sliders

Basically they are a hot ham, swiss cheese, and dill pickle sandwich, but what makes them so yummy is the buttery Dijon sauce you pour over them before baking.  And, they are made with Hawaiian Rolls that have a hint of sweetness to them which adds to the combination of flavors.

Cuban Sliders

They are so simple to make.  First you slice the entire bag of rolls in half horizontally and place the bottom layer in a pan.

Cuban Sliders Then layer thin sliced ham over the bottom layer of bread.

Cuban Sliders

Next, layer swiss cheese on top of the ham and dill pickle slices on top of the cheese.

Cuban Sliders

Then place the top half of the rolls on top of the pickles.

Cuban Sliders

Lastly, pour the sauce over the rolls and cover with foil.

Cuban Sliders

Bake in the oven for a short time, and you have melt in your mouth sandwiches, perfect for a quick lunch or a summer get-together.  If you are having a party and want to make them ahead of time, just put the sandwiches together, make the sauce, wrap both with plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to serve them, all you have to do is pour the sauce over the sandwiches, and bake.  Once baked, the onion flakes in the sauce become a little crispy and taste a little bit like french fried onion rings.

Cuban Sliders

Everything in these sandwiches works together to make this one of the best sliders I’ve had.  My husband took the leftovers to work today, and he said they heated up well and tasted just as good as when they were freshly baked.  The next time you get tired of the same old sandwiches for lunch or need a new idea for a casual summer get-together, give these a try.  Then you’ll see what I mean about not being able to get a recipe out of your head! :)

Cuban Sliders

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 45 minutes including cook time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 12 pack of Hawaiian Rolls
  • 1 pound of thinly sliced ham lunch meat
  • 1 package of Swiss cheese slices (you will need 8 slices)
  • 1 jar of Clausen dill pickle sandwich slices (you will need 6 slices)
  • 2 Tbsp. dried minced onion
  • 1 stick of melted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8×12-inch pan (9×13-inch would also work) with butter.
  3. Without separating them, slice the entire package of Hawaiian rolls horizontally in half.
  4. Place the bottom half in buttered pan, cut side up.
  5. Layer ham slices on top of the cut rolls.
  6. Place Swiss cheese slices on top of the ham.
  7. Cut each pickle slice in half.  Place one half pickle slice on each slider.
  8. Cover with Hawaiian roll tops.
  9. Make sauce by whisking together melted butter and Dijon mustard.  Add in the minced onion and stir.
  10. Spoon the sauce over the roll tops.
  11. Cover pan with foil.
  12.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the rolls are just beginning to get a little brown on top.  Watch carefully at the end so they don’t burn.
  13. Remove the sliders to a cutting board with a spatula and cut into 12 pieces. Serve immediately.
  14. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, slightly adapted from a recipe found on House of Yumm

 

Posted in Cabin Recipes, Company, Lunch, Party Recipes, Recipes, Summer Recipes, Weeknight Meals | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Strawberry Peach Popsicles and Summer in Arizona

Strawberry Peach Popsicles

Well, the heat is finally here, and has decided it is going to stay.  It was 118 degrees this weekend!  But before you start to wonder how we can possibly take those temperatures, let me tell you there are many reasons why it is good to live in Arizona in the summer time!

1.  You don’t have to worry about germs on the grocery carts.  They all get burned off when the carts are sitting outside in the parking lot.

2.  Driving to work is a breeze.  The streets aren’t crowded as all the smart people winter visitors have left and gone back home.

3.  It is no problem getting exercise as you get lots of it when you park 2 blocks away from every store because it is the only parking place that has the shade from one twig hanging over it.

4.  If your oven stops working, you can always go fry an egg on the sidewalk.  It will probably cook faster anyway.

5.  The local hotels are cheap since no one wants to be here during the summer.  It is possible to go stay at the hotel of your dreams where you can turn the air conditioning on as cold as you want.

6.  You can actually save money living here in the summer because                                            A.  You have access to a sauna without having to pay the gym fee – just go outside.               B.   Sandstorms equal automatic exfoliation – no need to pay for a facial.                               C.   A tanning booth isn’t necessary – just walk from the house to your car.

Arizona Duststorm

7.  It is the only place where you get to experience summer and winter at the same time as the stores turn their air-conditioning on so cold you need a sweater.  Since we have no winter, this works out just fine.

8.  It gives you something else to do with your oven mitts (use them to hold on to the steering wheel of your car).

9.  The monsoons take the boredom out of the same old weather every day.

 Monsoon - July 2012

10.  You always have something to talk about with a stranger.  It usually goes something like this:  “Hot enough for ya?”  “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat! LOL”

11.  It is the only place where you can swim and not get cold as the pools feel like bath water (very hot bath water).

12.  The most incredible sunsets give you something to do every night.

Arizona Sunset

13.  And the final (and best) reason, the heat gives you an excuse to eat more ice cream and popsicles!

Strawberry Peach Popsicles

Now if those are not good reasons to want to spend your summer in Arizona, I don’t know what is.  It is also quite possible the heat has fried my brain over the years.  I think it may have a cumulative effect.  And I was born here….  :/

Strawberry Peach Popsicles

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this recipe for Strawberry Peach Popsicles.  They remind me of an Arizona sunset.  They taste just like fresh fruit (only colder and sweeter) and are guaranteed to keep you cool and brighten your day!

Strawberry Peach Popsicles

Strawberry Peach Popsicles

  • Servings: approximately 8 popsicles depending on the size of your molds
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Strawberry Layer:

  • 1 quart strawberries, washed and halved
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar or to taste depending on how sweet your strawberries are
  1. Place strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a blender.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour liquid into the bottom of 8 popsicle molds.

For the Peach Layer:

  • 2 cups fresh peach chunks that have been peeled (approximately 3 peaches depending on their size)
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar or to taste depending on how sweet the peaches are
  1. Place peach chunks and sugar in the blender.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Very slowly pour peach mixture on top of the strawberry mixture.
  3. Insert sticks.
  4. Place in the freezer overnight.
  5. When ready to eat, run warm water over the outside of the molds for about 30 seconds or until the popsicles loosen and you can remove them from the molds.

Recipe by Cook AZ I Do, adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian 

 

 

 

Posted in Desserts, Ice Cream Recipes, Low Fat, Recipes, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes With Brown Sugar Buttercream

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Have you ever heard of the book “The 5 Love Languages”?  It is such a good book.  Just to sum it up in a nutshell, it basically says there are 5 ways that people feel loved.  We each have one of those 5 ways that is more dominant and makes us feel loved the most.  The 5 ways we feel loved are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and gifts.  For instance, if your love language is words of affirmation, when people say something kind to you, that makes you feel loved.  Someone could vacuum your house (acts of service) and you wouldn’t feel loved as much as someone saying to you that they really enjoy your sparkling personality.  I completely agree with everything Gary Chapman says in this book.  I highly recommend it.  There is just one teeny tiny little problem with it.  Now, I know Gary Chapman is a world renowned speaker and author, but I think he might have forgotten one language.  There may in fact, be 6 love languages.  The sixth one just might be giving someone a cupcake. :)

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Giving someone a cupcake is definitely how I show people that I love them.  It’s your birthday – here’s a cupcake.  You’re feeling a little down today – I thought you could use a cupcake.  Your dog ran away – this cupcake should really make you feel better.  You found a grey hair, a cupcake should cheer you up. You had a flat tire on the freeway while it was raining, cupcakes are just the thing to make you forget about that.  So, it shouldn’t surprise you, that with Father’s Day coming up, I had to make my dad some cupcakes.  I have actually been saving this recipe since last fall to make for him.  As soon as I saw it, I knew he would love it.  It is a chocolate bourbon cupcake with a bourbon caramel pecan pie filling, topped with brown sugar buttercream and a bourbon cinnamon pecan.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

I had never tasted or made brown sugar butter cream before.  All I can say is, heavenly.  It is just incredible.  And the pecan pie filling, I wanted to eat it by the spoonful. Now this is definitely a boozy, bourbony tasting cupcake, but if that is not your cup of tea or should I say bourbon, just make these chocolate cupcakes, and leave the bourbon out of the caramel.  You will still have one of the best cupcakes you’ve ever tasted.  Because it will still have pecan pie filling and brown sugar frosting!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

I have to give you fair warning, though, these are not the quickest cupcakes to make.  But then, when you are trying to tell someone you love them, sometimes you have to sacrifice!  They aren’t difficult, there are just a lot of steps.  First you make the chocolate cupcakes and let them cool.  While they are cooling, make the caramel pecan filling.  While that is cooling, toast the nuts.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Finally, make the frosting and assemble the cupcakes.  You could also toast the nuts and make the caramel ahead of time so you aren’t doing so many steps in one day.  Once made, you can refrigerate or freeze them so they can be done completely ahead of time.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Now that I think about it, the point of “The 5 Love Languages” book is that you need to show people love by doing things that are THEIR love language.  I guess not everyone’s language is cupcakes, as hard as that is to understand.  Fortunately, my dad’s love language is any type of dessert so hopefully he feels loved.  After giving these to my dad, there were some cupcakes left over.  They always say you can’t love others until you love yourself.  And, cupcakes are definitely my love language.  Can I just say I am now ready to love others. :)

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there and especially to my dad who speaks my language and whom I love very much!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

  • Servings: 18
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate due to all the steps and time involved
  • Print

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 c bourbon
  • 1 c canola oil
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line cupcake pans with 18 paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the bourbon, canola oil, and cocoa powder until smooth and creamy.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and Greek yogurt on low-speed.
  5. Slowly add bourbon and cocoa mixture.  Combine on medium speed until silky and smooth.
  6. Beat in the sugar.
  7. Slowly add flour, salt, and baking soda, combining on low-speed until mixed.
  8. Fill baking cups three-fourths full. (A 1/4 c measuring cup worked great for this.)
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes, making sure to watch carefully and test with a toothpick at 15 minutes.  Mine took 16.  Do not overbake for moist cupcakes.
  10. Allow to cool completely before filling.
  11. When cupcakes are cool, use a small serrated knife or grapefruit knife to cut a small hole in the middle of the cupcake.  Place cupcakes in a baggy until ready to fill so they don’t dry out.

For the Bourbon Caramel Pecan Pie Filling:

  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 1 c chopped pecans
  1. Make sure your butter is cut into chunks and cream is measured out.  Set aside.
  2. Heat sugar and water in a 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  You can stir to help the sugar dissolve before heating, but once you turn the heat on, only swirl the pan a bit every once in a while.
  3. When the liquid sugar hits a dark amber color (do not leave unattended as the liquid can go from amber to burnt very quickly), add all the butter to the pan.  The mixture will foam up and thicken.  Whisk until the butter has melted.  Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat.
  4. Add the cream to the pan (the mixture will foam up again) and continue to whisk to incorporate.
  5. Add the bourbon to the mixture and stir.
  6. Finally, add the chopped pecans.
  7. Let cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let cool to room temperature.  Don’t worry if the sauce seems a bit too thin at first, as it will thicken as it cools.  Fill cupcakes with a spoonful of the mixture or store in the refrigerator until ready to fill cupcakes.  Carefully place cupcakes back in baggy until ready to frost.

For the Bourbon Cinnamon Toasted Pecans:

  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 18-25 whole pecans
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil or a silpat.
  3. In a bowl whisk together the bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
  4. Add pecans and stir to coat evenly.
  5. Transfer nuts to the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted.  Watch carefully after 14 minutes so they don’t burn.
  7. Remove pecans from oven and toss them with butter.  Allow to cool and set aside until needed.

For the Brown Sugar Frosting:

  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 box (1 lb.) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt together 1/4 c butter, cream, and brown sugar on medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn to medium-low, and boil for 1 minute.
  2. Remove from heat and place in the refrigerator to cool.
  3. When brown sugar mixture is cool, place remaining 1/2 c room temperature butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat until any chunks are smoothed out.
  4. Gradually add cooled brown sugar mixture 1/4 cup at a time until frosting is of desired consistency.  I added a total of one cup.
  5. Place frosting in a piping bag, if desired, and using a large round tip, pipe frosting onto cupcakes.
  6. Insert one of the sugar-coated pecans into the top.
  7. Keep in the refrigerator until 1 hour before serving, then set out to soften.  May be frozen up to one month if in an air tight container.  Set out 4 hours before serving to thaw out.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found on Half Baked Harvest and Caramel Filling found on Lickmyspoon.com

 

 

 

Posted in Company, Cupcakes, Desserts, Fall Recipes, Father's Day Recipes, Party Recipes, Recipes, Thanksgiving Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

I have been making a lot of cookies lately.  There have been several times recently where it was necessary to eat dinner in the car on our way to an event so I packed a picnic of foods that were easy to eat while driving.  Cookies work out great as a dessert for mobile meals.  And since I was making chocolate chip cookies, you would think I would have used my favorite recipe of all time to make them.  If you thought that, you would be wrong.  I have a new favorite in the cookie department.  They are soft, chewy, chocolaty, and melt in your mouth.  The best part is they are easier to make than my other recipe and do not call for special ingredients.

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

These cookies are full of 2 kinds of chocolate – dark chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chunks. They contain about twice as much chocolate as most chocolate chip cookies, and I loved the combination of the 2 kinds of chocolate.  They are super soft and yet keep their shape while cooking instead of going flat and ugly.  Chocolaty, soft, pretty, and easy to make – sounds like the perfect cookie to me.

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

Everyone I’ve made these for has given them a big thumbs up.  They are also great because you can refrigerate the dough for up to 5 days and when someone stops by in 10 minutes you can have warm, melty cookies straight out of the oven.  I love the look on people’s faces when you give them a warm homemade cookie.  It is like you just gave them a million dollars.

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

My husband is my biggest critic when it comes to chocolate chip cookies as they are one of his favorite things to eat as well. Our anniversary is coming up this month so the timing is great for finding this recipe.  It only took me 30 years to find the perfect one – cookie, not husband. Though I think he thought it would take me 30 years to decide on one  – husband not cookie.  I am very happy I found both – the perfect cookie and husband! :)

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 48
  • Time: 45 minutes plus refrigeration time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 sticks (1 1/2) cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 c all-purpose flour (King Arthur recommended)
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c dark chocolate chips (Ghiradelli recommended)
  • 2 c semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • parchment paper or silpats
  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low-speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.  Add to the sugar/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Mix together until just combined, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and chunks, and beat for a few seconds on low-speed.
  7. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Using a 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop, scoop out mounds of cookie dough and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment.  When done, I like to roll each mound into balls so they come out of the oven more round and smooth, but this is optional.
  9. Wrap cookie sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 5 days.  Make sure to wrap them well so they don’t dry out.
  10. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  11. Place dough mounds on lined baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart.  Keep rest of dough refrigerated in-between batches.
  12. Bake for 8-10 minutes (I did 10), making sure to not overbake.  Cookies will look underdone, but will firm up as they cool.
  13. Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes, and then transfer to wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
  14. Cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to a month or kept in the refrigerator for a week.  Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found on Averie Cooks

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christmas, Company, Cookies, Desserts, Father's Day Recipes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Arizona Quiche

Arizona Quiche

We have overnight company quite often so I am always on the look out for delicious breakfast dishes.  I recently noticed this recipe for quiche on Real Housemoms and knew as soon as I saw the pictures I would have to give it a try.  It was as good as I had hoped, and I have made it many times over the last few months.  It tastes just like a jalapeno popper!  It isn’t overly spicy, just full of flavor from bacon, jalapenos, and two kinds of cheese.  It is definitely comfort food for breakfast so for those times when you want to pamper your guests, this is the perfect dish!

Arizona Quiche

A bonus, for us non-morning people out there, is you can do some of the prep ahead of time, such as chop your jalapenos, and fry up the bacon.  Be sure you get rid of the membranes and seeds in the jalapenos, or your guests may think their mouth is on fire!  You also may want to use gloves while chopping the jalapenos because if you touch your eyes, you may think your eyes are on fire.

Arizona Quiche

Then all you have to do in the morning is pre-bake the pie shell (I love Marie Callender’s the best), spread cream cheese on the bottom of the crust, and

Arizona Quiche

throw the jalapenos into the bottom of the shell, pressing down into the cream cheese.

Arizona Quiche

Next, heat up the cream and drizzle into the eggs slowly, add some spices, pour into the pie shell, and finish baking.

Arizona Quiche

The last few minutes, you sprinkle the quiche with grated cheddar cheese, which you can also grate ahead of time.  You end up with one of the best, tastiest quiches I’ve ever eaten!  I serve it with Raspberry Lemon Muffins and fruit salad.

Arizona Quiche

I think this would be a great dish to fix for Father’s Day, too.  Rumor has it that real men don’t eat quiche, but I think this quiche could actually win those manly men over.  Feel free to call it bacon pie if you need to, though! :)

Arizona Quiche

Arizona Quiche

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 9 inch frozen pie crust (Marie Callender’s recommended)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 jalapenos, finely diced, removing membranes and seeds first, (gloves recommended for this as oils from chiles get on hands and if eyes are touched afterwards it really burns)
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into rounds for garnish
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked crisp and coarsely crumbled
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c half-and-half
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • sour cream, optional for garnish or topping
  1. Do any prep work needed, such as fry and crumble bacon, dice jalapenos, and grate cheese.  All of these things can be done the day before and put in the refrigerator until needed.
  2. When ready to make quiche, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. While oven is preheating, thaw frozen crust for 10 minutes, then prick the crust all over the bottom and sides with a fork to make tiny holes.
  4. Bake crust for 10 minutes on a baking sheet.
  5. While crust is baking, soften cream cheese in microwave for approximately 20-30 seconds until easily spreadable.
  6. Remove the crust and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  7. While crust is hot, spread the cream cheese all over the bottom as evenly as possible.
  8. Sprinkle the diced jalapenos evenly over the cream cheese (the rounds are for garnishing later).  Gently press the diced jalapenos into the cream cheese.
  9. Put the cream and half-and-half into a medium pan and put it over medium heat about 3-5 minutes or until tiny bubbles appear around the edges.  Take off heat just before it boils. Set aside.
  10. Beat the eggs together in a bowl.
  11. VERY SLOWLY, drizzle the hot cream mixture into the eggs, WHISKING CONSTANTLY to combine.  (If you do this too quickly you will end up with scrambled eggs.)
  12. Add the paprika, salt, and bacon into the hot cream mixture and stir until combined.
  13. Carefully pour cream into the crust, making sure bacon is evenly distributed.
  14. Bake on a baking sheet for 35-44 minutes or until eggs are just set and no longer jiggly in the middle.  Watch carefully after 35 minutes.
  15. Remove quiche from oven, sprinkle cheese on top, and put back in the oven for 2 minutes until cheese is just melted.  Be careful not to overcook.
  16. Cool about 10 minutes before serving for easier slicing.
  17. Garnish with sour cream and jalapeno rounds if desired.  (I put sour cream into a baggy and piped circles onto the pie, then topped with the jalapeno rounds.)
  18. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Notes:  I tried freezing this recipe after it was baked, but did not like the texture of it after it was frozen and reheated.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found on Real Housemoms Blog

Arizona Quiche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Breakfast, Cinco de Mayo, Company, Father's Day Recipes, Mexican, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Perfect Memorial Weekend Dishes to Bring to a Bar-B-Q

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

Are you invited to a bar-b-q or pot-luck for Memorial Day weekend?  It seems like quite often when asked to attend one of these type of events, I am asked to bring a side dish or dessert.  Since I love cooking, that is fine by me.  I always want to bring something special I know everyone will like.  I would rather bring a dish I have made a number of times, and feel comfortable making and am pretty sure will turn out exactly how I want it to.  That’s where these recipes come in.  They are tried and true recipes that I have made time and time again and will continue to do so because they taste great!

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

This Red, White, and Blueberry Salad is probably my favorite summer salad to make.  Everyone loves the sweet Poppy-seed Dressing, and the colors are so festive, they are perfect for any patriotic holiday.

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

These are my favorite Baked Beans.  They are classic beans that you cook slowly and have lots of brown sugar in them that caramelizes and gets thick and gooey and delicious as you bake them.  Men really seem to love these beans.  It doesn’t hurt anything that they have bacon in them either!

Rocky Road Fudge Brownies

I have made these Rocky Road Fudge Brownies a million times because they are so good.  Well, maybe not a million, but a lot! :)  I love to take them with us to our cabin in the summer.  It’s the homemade fudge frosting that makes these out of this world!

There you have it.  One of these recipes is what I would be bringing if you invited me to your pot-luck or backyard bar-b-q. I hope this gives you some ideas for what to take if you are attending a get-together and aren’t sure what to bring.  They are guaranteed to get rave reviews, and an empty bowl to bring home.  If you need more ideas, check out the Memorial Day section in the categories on the right.  Whether you are celebrating Memorial Day or just relaxing at home, I hope you have a wonderful weekend whatever you do!

 

Posted in 4th of July Recipes, Bars, Cabin Recipes, Desserts, Memorial Day Recipes, Party Recipes, Recipes, Salads, Side Dishes | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins That Just Happen to be Gluten-Free

Gluten Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins Lest you think I’ve gone over to the dark healthy side and am no longer eating anything loaded with carbs and sugar, let me explain the reference to gluten-free in the title of this post.  Recently my sister and brother-in-law and niece came for a visit. My brother-in-law for the most part, tries to eat gluten-free.  He never complained once about anything I fixed, but as we were eating, I realized that so much of what I fixed were things he normally wouldn’t eat.  I determined then that I would become more educated on how to cook gluten-free, and at least have a few things I could turn to when presented with a situation where gluten-free cooking was important.

Gluten Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins

I immediately thought of the blog, Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen as Teresa has so many gluten-free options there.  I remembered seeing some muffins that I wanted to make, not because they were gluten-free, but because they looked so delicious.  They were everything I had hoped they would be. They are filled with fresh strawberries and banana, and topped with an amazing streusel as well as drizzled with a vanilla glaze.

Gluten Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins

When you first bite into them you get a pop of tartness from the strawberries, then the yummy banana flavor reminiscent of banana bread with a hint of brown sugar and a crunchy sweet finish from the pecans and vanilla glaze.  There is so much going on, you won’t even notice they are gluten-free.

Gluten Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins

In talking with a friend of mine who has cooked and baked gluten-free for a long time, I found out the issue with using alternative wheat flour ingredients, is that baked goods tend to come out crumbly and dry.  I think the fact that you add banana to the muffin mixture, fresh strawberries, plus a glaze all help to make these muffins more moist.

Gluten Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins

Another nice thing about this recipe is that it uses a baking mix that already has the correct ratio of alternative flours.  It is called Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend.  I found it at Sprouts, but heard Fry’s carries it as well. Gluten Free mixes are so much more readily available than they used to be.  Also, they have come a long way with gluten-free baking mixes to ensure a great tasting end product.

Gluten Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins

I learned so much this week about baking gluten-free and am excited to find out it is not as scary or difficult as I thought it would be.  In fact, I know I will be making these muffins again and again whether I need to cook gluten-free or not.  They are just great muffins overall.  I could eat the streusel alone as an afternoon snack!  If you need a gluten-free recipe for muffins or just want a yummy strawberry banana muffin loaded with crunchy streusel, I highly recommend these for your next breakfast or afternoon treat!

Gluten Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins

Gluten-Free Strawberry Banana Streusel Muffins

  • Servings: 14
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Streusel:

  • 1/3 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 c Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend (Gluten-Free)
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans

For the Muffins:

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5.3-oz. container Chobani Strawberry Banana Greek yogurt, stirred
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 c Pamela’s Gluten Free Artisan Flour Blend
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 c fresh, diced strawberries (approximately 1 quart)
  • 1 large banana, mashed with a fork

For the Glaze:

  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp. heavy cream (milk not recommended)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you want to keep the glaze white)

For the Streusel:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, stir together all the streusel ingredients.  Set aside.

For the Muffins:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners, spray muffin pans with gluten-free cooking spray, or grease and flour tins with gluten-free flour.
  3. Dice strawberries, mash bananas with a fork, and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and whipping cream.  Mix on medium-low until well combined.
  5. Stir in flour, mashed banana, and strawberries gently with a wooden spoon until ingredients are just moistened.  Don’t overmix.
  6. Spoon the muffin batter into prepared muffin tins all the way up to the top.
  7. Crumble the streusel topping over each muffin and press the topping down gently into the muffins.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees.
  9. While muffins are still in the oven, adjust oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for 11 to 12 more minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Be careful not to overbake for moist muffins.
  10. Cool in tins 10 minutes.
  11. Transfer muffins to rack to cool completely.  While muffins cool, make the glaze.

For the Glaze:

  1. Sift powdered sugar to remove any lumps.
  2. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Place wire rack with muffins on a baking sheet.
  4. Place glaze mixture in a zip lock bag or piping bag and cut off tip.  Drizzle glaze over cooled muffins.
  5. Muffins can be placed in air tight container and stored in refrigerator up to one week, or frozen for one month.  If frozen, thaw approximately 4 hours before serving.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found on Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen

 

 

Posted in Breads and Rolls, Breakfast, Company, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments