Take 5 Brownies

The day after school let out, Gray and I traveled to Indiana to see my parents for a few days and so that I could also run a 10 mile race.  Then we headed to Greensboro, North Carolina where we met up with Matt.  After staying there a few days, we went to the Outer Banks for vacation and back to Greensboro so Matt could work a bit more.  Then off to Asheville so I could run a half marathon only to leave right after that to head to Lexington, Kentucky to visit some family, finally ending up back in Indiana for a graduation party.  I felt like I’d been around the world.  We had a great time vacationing and seeing family and friends but I sure was happy to return to my own bed — and to my kitchen.  I’d grown weary of eating out.

After being home for two days, Matt had to head back to Greensboro so my days of meal cooking were short-lived.  But I’d missed my kitchen so I took to baking, and a matter of two days I’d made cookies, chocolate dipped payday bars, and these — Take 5 Brownies.  I was reminded of this candy bar when, before school let out, Gray decided to make one of those posters for his teacher where it used a combination of candy and words to tell a story.  Apparently, Take 5 candy bars are out of fashion in Columbia, Tennessee because I had to go to three different stores before finding some.  Given my love of layered brownies, I started wondering if there was a recipe out there for Take 5 Brownies.  After a quick search on Pinterest, I found this recipe, reviewed it, and then came up with this version:

Take 5 Brownies

Take 5 Brownies

  • Bake a batch of brownies in a 9 x 13 pan using the Baker’s One Bowl Brownie Recipe, omitting the pecans and adding in a cup of chocolate chips
  • Once the brownies have cooled, with a hand-held mixer, mix 1 cup crunchy peanut butter and 2/3 cup powder sugar.  Spread on top of brownies
  • Arrange 1 1/2 cups waffle pretzels in a single layer on top of the peanut butter mixture.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup milk chocolate chips on top of the pretzels.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and 1 package of caramel bits on high for 90 seconds, then stir until smooth.  Pour caramel mixture over the top of the chocolate chip layer and let cool.
  • Finally, place 2 cups milk chocolate chips in a glass bowl.  Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream to almost boiling and then pour it over the chocolate chips.  Let it sit for 3 minutes.  Stir until smooth and then pour over the top of the caramel layer.  Let the ganache cool before slicing.

There you have it — Take 5 Brownies!

Take 5 brownies gray eating

 

Snickers Cheesecake

Several years ago, my parents gave me a cheesecake cookbook for Christmas, and the first few cheesecakes I made from that cookbook were complete disasters.  The first time I did a water bath, the water leaked into the cheesecake and completely ruined it.  I had one that wouldn’t set.  Then there was the one where the crust was soggy.  Oh, and the one where the top cracked and looked incredibly ugly.  I could keep sharing disaster stories, but I think you get the idea.  Needless to say, I gave up on cheesecakes for a while.

Last month I shared a recipe for an Oreo Brownie Cheesecake.  I decided to give that cheesecake a try because it was a combination of cheesecake and brownie, and brownies are definitely my speciality.   That cheesecake success gave me the confidence to try another.  So when I ran onto this Snickers Cheesecake recipe from handletheheat.com, I knew I had to make it.  After all, it had total “Barbified” written all over it — chocolate cookie crust, cheesecake filling with snickers, all covered in chocolate ganache, and then sprinkled with more snickers.  If that doesn’t have my name written all over it, then I don’t know what does.  Let me just say, I’m so glad I gave cheesecake another shot.  This cheesecake is seriously delicious…..and quite easy.

Snickers Cheesecake Whole

Snickers Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 30 Oreo cookies
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 18 fun-size Snickers bars, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package Snickers miniatures

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Process the Oreos in a food processor until they become finely ground crumbs.  Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
While the crust is cooling, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add in the sugar, cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Finally, stir in the Snickers bars.
Pour the batter into the cooled crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until set and the top looks slightly dry. If the middle is slightly wobbly, that’s fine. Cool the cheesecake completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate at least 4 hours. Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a serving plate.
Place the chocolate chips in a medium heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan heat the cream just until simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a few minutes then stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Pour over the top of cheesecake. Sprinkle the snickers over the cheesecake. Slice and serve.

Snickers Cheesecake Slice

Braised Brisket with Mushrooms

To say my friend Bonnie’s husband Paul loves meat is an understatement.  His philosophy is that no meal is complete without a lot of meat, so I’m guessing they don’t do “Meatless Mondays” in their house.

I just had lunch with Bonnie, and of course, the conversation eventually turned to food.  We talked about how our Pinterest pages are mostly consumed with recipes, and she had the same problem I now have — making something from Pinterest, loving it, and then not being able to find the recipe.  So, she gave me a great tip on how to better organize all my ‘already made’ recipes.

She mentioned that she liked following my blog (Which I consider a huge compliment.  After all, I thought only my mom read this thing.), but she did remind me that she doesn’t bake much — that’s because both her sister and her friend Anita keep her well supplied with desserts, but she loves to cook and experiment.  And then there’s Paul with his love of meat.  I told her about this brisket recipe, and she requested that I share it soon.  So, this one’s for Bonnie:

 

Braised Brisket with Mushrooms

Braised Brisket with Mushrooms from Mel’s Kitchen

  • 2-3 pounds brisket roast, fat trimmed to 1/4-inch
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T. packed brown sugar
  • 3 T. AP flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t. balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and cut it in half crosswise into two roasts. Season each roast with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium or medium-high heat until rippling and hot. Brown the brisket on both sides, working with one roast at a time, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.  Repeat with the second roast.
  3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan. Add the mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the onions and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the flour, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broths and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 6-7 minutes.
  4. Place the brisket back in the pan and place the lid on top.  Bake the roasts in the preheated oven until very tender, 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Remove the dish from the oven and let it cool, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, flipping the roasts and recovering the dish halfway through cooling.
  5. Transfer the roasts to a cutting board and trim any extra fat off, if the roasts are excessively fatty. Strain the sauce from the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a fat separator; reserving the mushrooms. Let the liquid settle and then pour into a microwave-safe bowl, leaving the fat behind. Stir in the vinegar and microwave the sauce for about a minute. If the sauce is too thick, thin with chicken or beef broth. Slice or shred the brisket roasts and place on a serving platter with the reserved mushrooms. Pour the warmed sauce over the meat. Serve immediately.

Ina Garten’s Oven-Roasted Vegetables

  • 2 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
  • 1 lb small potato
  • 13 cup olive oil
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 lb French string beans
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends removed, cut diagonally into 3-inch pieces
  • 14 cup fresh parmesan cheese
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the fennel bulbs into 6 wedges each, cutting through the core to keep the wedges intact. Place on a sheet pan. Cut the potatoes in half length-wise and place them on the pan with the fennel. Drizzle the olive oil on the vegetables, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss with your hands.
  3. Roast the vegetables for 25 – 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, tossing once while cooking. Toss the string beans and asparagus with the roasted vegetables and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and roast for another minute or two until the cheese melts.

Paula Deen’s Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

  • 1 1/4 cups Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. dried parsley flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the biscuit mix and cheese in a small bowl. Add the water and stir just until combined. The dough will be slightly moist. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the biscuits are firm and beginning to brown.
  3. While the biscuits are baking, make the garlic butter. In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic powder, salt, and parsley flakes. Mix well. As soon as you bring the biscuits from the oven, brush them with the garlic butter using a pastry brush.

Oreo Brownie Cheesecake

I have a list of yet-to-make dessert recipes that’s a mile long — that’s because my sweet tooth is much larger than my stomach.  I usually like things to have lots of texture — something creamy and gooey with something crunchy, and of course, it must have chocolate as a main ingredient.  If there’s no chocolate, then I’m simply not interested.  I tend to prioritize the list based on the “Barbified” factor — how much junk and chocolate is packed into the recipe.  But a few months ago, I had to slightly re-prioritize my list based on “the no chewing allowed” factor.  There were a several dark and sad weeks in my house.

I decided to made this cheesecake shortly after my gum graft surgery because if cake was a soft food — then so was cheesecake.  I was only partially correct on this one.  The filling was soft enough, but the edges and crust were a bit too much for me.  I knew I was pushing my luck.  I ate the filling out of the center of my piece, then cut the rest of the cheesecake into slices and placed them in the freezer.  I knew I couldn’t fully appreciate how good this thing was if I couldn’t eat the entire piece.

Fast forward a month.  I pulled a slice from the freezer.  Now I could fully appreciate this thing, and believe me — I did.  It was dense and creamy all at the same time, and the crust added plenty of texture; I especially loved how the brownie was so fudgy and yet still slightly gooey.

Brownie Oreo Cheesecake

Oreo Brownie Cheesecake by Yummy Crumble

Oreo Crust
  • 23 Oreo cookies
  • 2 T melted butter
Cheesecake
  • 12 ounces room temperature cream cheese
  • 6 T sugar
  • 6 T room temperature sour cream
  • ½ t vanilla extract
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 12 chopped Oreo cookies
Brownie Layer
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ t salt
  • ¼ t baking powder
  • 3 large room temperature eggs
  • ½ cup melted salted butter
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9″ spring form pan.
  2. In a food processor, blend the Oreos until they are finely ground. Pulse in the butter until they are moistened.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pan and firmly press into the bottom and up the sides.
  4. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium high until smooth. Beat in the sugar until fully combined and smooth.
  6. Blend in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Next add in the egg and egg yolk until fully incorporated.
  7. Fold in the chopped Oreos and set the cheesecake batter aside.
  8. In a large bowl, blend all the brownie ingredients until the batter is smooth.
  9. Take ¼ of the brownie batter and spread on top of the baked Oreo crust.
  10. Using a cookie scoop, alternate scoops of cheesecake batter and brownie batter to create a marble effect.
  11. Cover the top with foil and place in the center of the oven.
  12. Bake for 1 hour, then check to see if the center has cooked through. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes if not finished.
  13. The brownie batter should still be a tiny bit gooey before taking out. It will finish baking. But you still want the brownie part to be gooey and fudgy.
  14. When the time is up, open the oven door halfway and let the cheesecake sit inside the oven while it cools down.
  15. Cool the cheesecake in the refrigerator completely before slicing.
  16. When ready to serve, slice, then place a slice on a plate then drizzle with melted dark chocolate and top with more crushed Oreos.

Creamy Mexican Chicken Skillet

There are all kinds of foods I could live without — pizza, burgers, french fries, and Chinese among them, but ask me to give up Mexican food and you’d have a mutiny on your hands.  It used to be that I only thought about eating Mexican food out, but over the last few years, I’ve taken to trying to cook as many recipes as possible.  Mexican food makes a great weeknight meal.  It’s quick, and many times requires few pots and pans.  This recipe is no exception — a skillet for the chicken, a pan for the rice, a cutting board, a knife, two service spoons, three bowls, and three forks.  Clean up took no time at all.

Creamy Mexican Chicken Skillet from Sweet C’s Designs

Creamy Chicken Mexican Skillet

  • 3 chicken breasts, diced into 1″ cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 8 oz can diced tomatoes with green chili
  • 1 jar green chile sauce
  • ½ package cacique oaxhaca
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil on medium high heat until shimmery. Brown the chicken, about 10 minutes. Then add onion and pepper, brown another 8 minutes. Add green chili sauce and cheese. Stir well to incorporate cheese, and let the cheese melt fully.

I served it over Cilantro Lime Rice.

  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cook the rice according to the package directions.  When ready, simply stir in lime juice and cilantro.

Super yummy one bowl weeknight meal.

Brownie Batter Milkshakes

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday — Happy Birthday Pa.  We celebrated his birthday, along with Mother’s Day, over the weekend.  I live about 3 1/2 hours away from my parents, so I get to see them fairly regularly.  They were kind enough to drive down this past weekend to see Gray play soccer.  He was super excited about that.  Since they were going to be here, I said to my dad: “Let’s have a birthday dinner.  You pick the meal.  Now don’t tell me it doesn’t matter.  This is your opportunity to have whatever you want — including something mom will never make for you.”  His response: “That burger you made a couple of weeks ago looked really good.”  Done.

Saturday night we had the ‘smoke ring‘ burger again, but given that it was a Saturday night, I had to make one new thing.  What could go better with a fattening burger than a fattening milkshake?  I found this recipe on cookiesandcups.com:

brownie batter milkshake

Brownie Batter Milkshakes

  • 3 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1½ cups dry brownie mix
  • 1 cup cold milk
  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Garnish with brownie batter whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Sadly, I never made it to the whipped cream.  In the chaos of all the items that went on the burger plus the fries and the fact that my blender quit working, I decided I could let that one thing slide.  We just used Redi-whip from a can, and everyone was perfectly happy with that.  Of course, Gray would not let me forget the sprinkles.  One note on the ingredients — I doubled the recipe, which meant I used 2 cups of milk.  I thought it was a bit runny for my taste.  I will definitely make these things again, but next time I will likely cut the amount of milk in half.

Roasted Beet Salad

After last week’s indulgent meal, I thought that this week we should exercise some restraint.  Saturday night’s ‘dog’ meal was rather simple — grilled ribeye steaks, roasted asparagus, and salad.  But a ‘dog’ meal requires at least one new thing, so I kicked the salad up a notch.  I always thought I didn’t like beets.  What I don’t like is anything pickled; I actually do like beets.  I discovered that a few summers ago when Matt planted his mega garden.

picking green beans

I complained that entire summer.  It seemed like every time I turned around, he was bringing in buckets of produce for me to either cook, freeze, or can.  Now, I’d give anything for that mega garden.  We won’t have one again this summer because of both his travel schedule and the fact that he wants to tear down his shop and rebuild it.  I’ll just have to look forward to next summer for a garden.  In the meantime, I will be happy with my potted tomatoes and herbs, but missing that garden made me think about some of the fantastic things I discovered that summer — like roasted beets.  I decided to purchase a few and try out this recipe.

Ina Garten’s Roasted Beet Salad

Here is my modified version:

3 medium-size beets, tops removed and scrubbed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces mixed greens
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle, and then peel.

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut them into slices and place them in a large mixing bowl. Pour half the vinaigrette over the beets and toss.

Place the greens in a separate bowl and toss it with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Put the them on a serving platter and then arrange the beets, walnuts, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Beet Salad

There’s no way I would serve any Saturday night dinner without making a new dessert.  This isn’t exactly new — I make variations of peanut butter brownies all the time.  I’ve also made a chocolate peanut butter frosting using Reese’s spread.  But this time, I took my peanut butter buttercream recipe and added cocoa and finely chopped Reese’s cups and spread it on a batch of brownies.  Then I sprinkled chopped Reese’s cups on top and drizzled the whole thing with a peanut butter drizzle.  Sinful!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup heavy cream
12-15 miniature Reese’s cups, finely chopped

In large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Slowly beat in heavy cream. Cream with a mixer at least two minutes until light and fluffy.  Stir in Reese’s cups.  Smear away on whatever makes your heart content — for me it’s brownies.

chocolate peanut butter reese frosting