Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Cookie" Divine and Beanilla Review

I used to watch "Take Home Chef" on TLC RELIGIOUSLY and Curtis Stone used to use Vanilla Beans all the time.  I've gone to the store to purchase them and just couldn't afford them.  So, I've never had the opportunity to cook with one before.

Last month, I attended the "What's Cooking Detroit?" show and was SO excited when I passed by the Beanilla table!  They had a very nice variety of vanilla beans on display, all of which I got to smell (heavenly!)  They also had some other products, such as vanilla paste, vanilla extract, vanilla salt and more! I am happy to say, they gave me the Madagascar Vanilla Beans and Vanilla Salt to try. I was ecstatic!!!!  

I checked out Beanilla's Website and their vanilla beans are priced EXTREMELY reasonably!  I couldn't believe it!  I can afford to cook with their beans!  LOL  Please visit them on Facebook too!

This dessert was wonderful!  I didn't know which I wanted to make with my vanilla beans....cookies or brownies.  So, I decided to combine them and make a "divine" dessert.  I succeeded!  It was the perfect amount of sweetness and the tiny sprinkle of vanilla salt on top was a perfect contrast to the sweetness! I put a dollop of cool whip on mine when it was still warm and it was wonderful! The next day, I ate leftovers cold, out of the fridge and it was SOO SOO good!  It was like eating a very soft cookie, but better!

It does take a little bit of time to put this together since you are making 2 batters, but I promise, it's worth it!  Mine did burn around one side quite a bit, but I cooked it on HIGH due to time contsraints and feel it wouldn't have burned so bad had I cooked it on LOW and let it take its time!  The bottom was not burnt at all....even though I thought it might be.  I had envisioned cutting this out in squares, but I decided to scoop it out and I'm sticking with my decision.  

I chose to not add chocolate chips to my Cookie Divine due to my niece's peanut allergy, (most chocolate is not safe for her, poor thing!) but please feel free to add some chocolate chips in yours if you wish!  For the cookie part, I used the recipe from the back of the Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsals bag, but exchanged the vanilla for the contents of 1 vanilla bean :)

"Cookie" Divine

Cookie Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean contents (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
2 large eggs

Brownie Ingredients:
2/3 cup Flour
2/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup Cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 vanilla bean contents (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

Vanilla Salt (optional)

Before you begin, I'm going to teach you how to scrape the contents of the vanilla bean out!  That's important!
Place your vanilla bean on your cutting board.
With the tip of your knife, run it down the center of the bean.  You want to slice it all the way through, so it's ok to use some pressure.
You'll have two "sides" now.  With the back of your knife, scrape each half of the bean from one end to the other.  
Your knife should look like this after scraping one half.
Scrape both halves.

Now, on to the batters........
We'll start with the Cookie Batter first.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, contents of one vanilla bean and eggs.
(I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer)
Add your dry ingredients slowly to your wet ingredients until well mixed.
******Spray your slow cooker liner with non-stick spray!******
Spread your cookie batter in your crock.

NOW, let's begin the brownie batter.....
In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cream, butter, eggs and contents of 1 vanilla bean.
(I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer)
Slowly add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients.
Pour your brownie batter on top of your cookie batter that is already in your crock.
Take a knife and slowly move the tip through the batter in an "s" pattern.....dragging the batters through each other to "marbelize" your batter.
Go the other way too....

Cook on LOW for 3-5 hours.  Keep an eye on it and when the middle is "set," turn it off.
Scoop it out into bowls while warm and top with a little bit of Vanilla Salt and a dollop of Cool Whip, OR let it cool and serve at room temperature with a little bit of Vanilla Salt.
This is also fantastic cold!  You can stick it in the fridge and sprinkle a tiny bit of Vanilla Salt on it before serving!

*All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.  I was given products from Beanilla in exchange for my honest review.
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sweet and Tangy Shredded Pork

I'm becoming more and more "daring" in my cooking....and I'm so glad I am!  This was really delicious!  From my previous experience with Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, I knew I really couldn't go wrong!  

So, I literally pulled a hunk of pork out of my freezer....which I didn't label, (but really should have) and threw the other ingredients on top of it.  I was so excited when this was ready to be shredded because I tasted the sauce and it was so awesome!  I pulled the hunk of pork out on my cutting board and attempted to shred it. I said, no idea what cut of meat this was, but it would NOT shred and most of it was fat and bone.  UGH!  (Did I mention I had a table full of people sitting there waiting for me?!  Sigh.) So, mine was extra saucy and chunky, but yours will not be!  You will not use this mystery meat!

I served my shredded pork with a simple Tomato, Onion and Balsamic Vinegar Salad, but this would be great with fries, coleslaw, salad, baked beans, etc!

This is a real crowd-pleaser!

Sweet and Tangy Shredded Pork

1 3-4lb. pork roast
1 small-medium red onion, chopped
1 (13oz.) bottle Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce
1/2 cup Poppyseed Dressing
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder

Place your pork roast in the bottom of your crock and cover it with the onions.

In a bowl, pour your Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, Poppyseed Dressing and Garlic Powder.
Mix it up.

Pour your sauce over the pork roast and onions.

Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
Take out your pork, shred it and replace it back in your sauce and mix.
Serve on buns and enjoy!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Mango Peach Chicken Leg Quarters

This is one of the simple and delicious recipes I've made!  The chicken was so tender and juicy, and the flavor was awesome!  All this took was 4 very simple and healthy ingredients. Yup, just 4! I'm all about simplicity lately!

All four of us ate this up! My son (13 months) and daughter (4) enjoyed every bite.  My husband continuously told me how good this was with each bite :)  You know you have a winner when the whole family eats with no complaints! (Although, Gavin, my son, doesn't really protest anything you put in front of him!)

So, how did this recipe come to be?  Well, I was at Costco....and kind of hungry. I know what you're thinking......not a good scenario.  This time, it was ok.  I bought a HUGE jar of Mango Peach Salsa.  Instead of scarfing the whole thing with chips, (which I had my fair share of btw!) I decided it would be DELICIOUS in my slow cooker.  I was right.  Thank goodness!

This was my first time ever cooking with Chicken Leg Quarters, and it won't be the last.  They stayed moist, flavorful and had lots of meat on them.  We used a whole family pack so we would have dinner for a few days.  You don't have to use Leg Quarters for this recipe.  You can use thighs, breasts, or whatever cut you would like.....or is on sale!

Mango Peach Chicken Leg Quarters

Ingredients: (I used a 6.5 Quart Crock for this)
4.5 lbs. (or there about) Chicken Leg Quarters
1 1/2 cups red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 -3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups Mango Peach Salsa
Salt and pepper 

Place your leg quarters in your crock and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with your red onions and cilantro.
Pour your salsa over the top.
Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
We served ours over some Angel Hair Pasta.

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Keurig Winner Announced!

And the winner of the Keurig from is.....
Entry #793 Brenda LaFave Scott!

Please email me at within the next 48 hours to claim your prize!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sweet Melon Pork Chops

These pork chops were absolutely DELICIOUS!  I know, I know, these sound "strange," but I'm here to tell you, sometimes strange is good!

These came to be when I had a very nice morning out with our good friends, Maja, Henry and Luke.  Our families walked together for the March of Dimes in the morning and then went out to lunch.  Henry is a great cook.  We got to talking about some vanilla salt I have and how I was going to use it, then somehow came to decide I should try the vanilla salt on my pork with melon.  Well, I chickened out on the vanilla salt for this, but went ahead with the melon.  I'm SOOO SOOO glad I did!  Thank you for the inspiration Henry! (And don't worry.....I have BIGGER and BETTER plans for the vanilla salt!)

The melon breaks down into juicy goodness and the honey and "lemonade" make this a sweet sensation!  We served ours over rice to soak up all of the good juices, with salad on the side.  I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours did!

Sweet Melon Pork Chops

3-4 lbs. (4-6) Thick Cut Boneless Pork Chops (or any kind of chops you want to use)
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cantaloupe, cut up
1/2 honey dew melon, cut up
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup water

Directions: (I used my 6.5 Quart Crock for this)
Place your chops in the bottom of your crock and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Place your onions on top.
Now, add your cantaloupe and honey dew melon.

Mix together the lemon juice, sugar and water.
Pour your "lemonade" and honey over the cantaloupe.

Cook on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours.
Serve and Enjoy!

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Monday, May 7, 2012

White Lasagna

I've been wanting to make a White Lasagna for forever!  I have a hard time justifying Alfredo sauce as part of my diet, but I thought, you know what?!  I'm going to put lots of "good-for-you" stuff in there to make up for it!  So, that's what I did!

This turned out really well!  It was extremely tasty!  All four of us cleaned our plates.....Gavin was a mess, but a happy little dude after eating this!  Ours was over-cooked, but that's because we were gone longer than I had anticipated, so this was on warm for almost 4 hours.  Not the best scenario!  This won't happen to you though, because we eat over-cooked food so you won't have to! LOL

I hope you give this a try!  It's really neat to make Lasagna in the slow cooker.  I made my own alfredo sauce, but if you want to shave off some prep-time, just buy jarred sauce.  It will be fine! :)

White Lasagna

Ingredients: (I used my 6.5 Quart for this)
12 (or so) Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
8 oz. Mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
10 oz. frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed out (You can use fresh)
10 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Alfredo Sauce (See recipe below)

1 cup butter
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
4 tsp. garlic powder
4 cups milk
12 oz. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Start out by making your alfredo sauce.  If you don't have time, have 2 jars of Alfredo Sauce ready to go.  To make your alfredo, start with meliting your butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add your cream cheese.
When it's melted, whisk in the garlic powder.
Add in the pepper, Paremesan and whisk.
Add the milk little by little and keep whisking.
Done :)  Great job!

In a pan, brown your ground turkey with a little salt and pepper.

In another pan, brown your onions and mushrooms until your onions are translucent.
Spray your crock with non-stick spray!!!!
In the bottom of your crock, pour about 1/2 cup of your alfredo sauce.
 Cover the bottom of your crock with lasagna noodles.  I used about 4, but break them to fit your crock.
Spread half of your ricotta on your noodles.  I found it easiest to place some dollops around and then spread it with the back of a spoon.
 Spread half of the onion and mushroom mixture over the top 
and half of the onion and mushroom mixture.
Spread half of your ground turkey over the top.
Pour about 1 cup of your alfredo sauce over that.
Repeat this process for one more layer.
Top with a final layer of lasagna noodles, about 1/2 cup of your alfredo sauce and the shredded parmesan cheese.

Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 3-3.5 hours.

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