Haystacks

Here is a treat that I have been making since grade school. All you need is a microwave. large bowl and a cookie sheet to whip these up. This is a no-bake treat that you can prep in under 15 minutes making them a perfect snack to make while dinner is cooking!

These are not a gourmet dessert or one to impress your friends but I love them so much that I have made them for many family events. My Taste Tester really enjoys them as well and has been known to hide them in random places in the fridge so I don’t eat them all.

These little treats have only three ingredients, chocolate, peanut butter and chow mein noodles. You decide how big or little to make your haystacks so I am not sure how many you will get. I usually get between 12 and 18. They do get your fingers a bit chocolatey while eating them , but that is the best part.

There are several variations of this recipe I am sure. To be honest I don’t really use a recipe at all, I just go by sight as to how many chow mein noodles to add. Sometimes I like them more chocolatey so I add fewer, other times I just use the entire bag. It is really up to you. I have also added toffee pieces or chopped nuts but to be honest, I prefer just the basic three ingredient haystacks.

I rate this recipe a 9

Haystacks
*All amounts are estimates, add more peanut butter or chocolate chips and noodles to suit your preference in taste and texture.

1 bag chocolate chips (semi sweet)
1/2 to 3/4 cup peanut butter (to taste)
1 bag (or a bit less) of Chow Mein noodles

Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

In a medium microwave safe bowl heat the chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave. Stir after every 15-20 seconds until smooth. Don’t overcook.

Stir in chow mein noodles 1 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. You want the noodles either completely coated or just about. (see photo above) Don’t break them too much.

Scoop them onto a wax paper lined baking sheet and place in fridge until firm. Keep stored in fridge so they don’t melt.

Enjoy

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

The moment I saw this post, I knew I had to give this a try. After a day at the local apple orchard the Taste Tester and I had a few left over apples and I knew it was fate. I had to make this cake. Who doesn’t love a warm, caramel flavored apple dessert during fall?

This cake is moist, has a dense crumb and the perfect balance of spices. I have had cakes where the cinnamon overpowers the entire cake, not so with this beauty. The icing really does make the cake. It is rich and buttery tasting and is equally good on the cake as it is scooped on some ice cream (yes,I did this).  It may be too sweet for some (not me) but that is why a small slice is enough to  satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you are looking for a fall dessert to please non-chocolate lovers or those who are sick of pie, this cake is a great option.

I would double the glaze recipe and use it on top of some ice cream topped with candied pecans or walnuts. Now that is good!

I rate this recipe a 9

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Icing
from here
Apple Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples (I used a mixture of granny smith and gala)
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional) (I used about 3/4 cup of toasted walnuts)

Brown Sugar Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch pan (I used square) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.Stir with a whisk to mix everything together.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs with a hand mixer til light in color and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat well.

Stir in the flour mixture with a spoon and continue stirring the batter til the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts (if using) and stir to mix them into the batter.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place the hot cake on a wire cake. While it’s still hot, prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

Spoon the hot glaze over the still hot-from-the-oven cake.

*I sprinkled walnuts over the cake before the glaze set.

Let the glazed cake cool completely before serving straight from the pan

Tender Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a recipe I worked on a very long time ago before I began blogging. My Taste Tester and I were in the mood for some chocolate chip cookies to enjoy while watching a Saturday afternoon football game. After going through several of my recipes I decided to give this one a go as I couldn’t remember how they had turned out when I had made them before.

The secret ingredient in these cookies is the cornstarch. I began playing around using cornstarch after my family enjoyed these cookies but I hated the artificial vanilla flavor they had from the pudding. The reason those cookies are soft is due in part to the cornstarch in the pudding mix. I decided to cut out the pudding mix and use straight up cornstarch.

The results were very good! These cookies have a tender crumb. Chewy, but not in an underbaked or too cakey sort  of way some chewy cookies can be. The crumb is light and tender and the cookies stayed that way for at least 3 days in a sealed container. I found myself commenting how tender they still were days later. My Taste Tester agreed though ate most of his warm from the oven (and by most I mean 8).

If you are looking for a tender, chewy chocolate chip cookie, give these a try. I must say, the nuts really add something to these but feel free to omit them if you wish.

I rate these an 8.5

Tender Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup nuts
Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking pan with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix just until combined. 
Add chips and nuts. 
Drop by spoonfulls on baking sheet. Bake about 8-12 minutes until just golden. Do not overbake. Cool on rack or baking sheet. 

Store covered and sealed.

Big, Fat, Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

I, personally, am not a huge biscuit fan. However, my Taste Tester loves a fat flaky biscuit. I have tried several recipes over the years but each time they just didn’t ‘hit the mark’ for what we were looking for. That all changed when I tried this recipe. Even I (the non biscuit lover) really really enjoyed these biscuits. They were exactly what I was trying to achieve.

These biscuits baked up big, fat and flaky but best of all, not only did they look great, they tasted great! These would be the perfect sidekick to fall meals like beef stew, chicken potpie, and smothered in gravy. Of course, they are also perfect for peeling apart layer by  layer and eating in your kitchen. Or with a smothering of butter and honey like my Taste Tester eats his

The recipe is easy to follow, uses ingredients you probably already have and take less than 30 minutes from start to finish. You really have no excuse not to make these.

I rate these a 9.5

 Big Fat Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
found here 

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing over biscuits
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Scatter the cubes of cold butter over the top of the flour mixture; cut in and mix using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the buttermilk and cream and continue to mix using fork or pastry cutter until mixture just begins to come together.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Brush the tops of the biscuits with heavy cream.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush tops with melted butter. Serve warm and enjoy!Makes 12-15 biscuits. 

Chocolate Chip Studded Fudge Brownies


I have had this recipe for years but just recently decided to whip up a batch. I don’t make brownies too often so I decided it was time to not only bake me up a chocolaty treat, but to try a new recipe.

This recipe came together quickly because they only call for cocoa powder (no chocolate to melt). The end result is a brownie that is in fact very fudge-like with chocolate chips throughout. While I do like a fudge brownie now and then, these were too fudge-like for my tastes (If i make these again, I may bake a bit longer to see if that helps the texture be less fudgey). The flavor was rich but not overpowering, but  I do prefer my tried and true recipe, though these were fun for a change.

If you are looking for a quick and easy brownie recipe, this may be for you, especially if you are a chewy, gooey, fudge brownie lover.

I rate this recipe a 7

Chocolate Chip Studded Fudge Brownies 

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
I also sprinkled walnuts over the top before baking.

Preheat oven to 325.
In a large bowl stir together the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cocoa, eggs and melted butter and mix

Gently mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated into the wet, and stop. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment or foil.

Pour the batter evenly into the pan.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Caramel Pecan Sticky Rolls

My Taste Tester and I love ooey gooey caramel rolls though I had never made them up to a year ago. One lazy Saturday he suggested I bake some up. I had saved a recipe for the dough for some time but it called for a bread maker. I adapted it to use my KitchenAid and the results were fantastic. I used a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated cookbook for the pecan caramel topping. The end results were better than I had hoped. They definitely have made there way into our monthly baking rotation.

The recipe takes some time but most of it is waiting for the rolls to rise. Overall it is pretty simple, especially if you are familiar with working with yeast. I have killed my yeast a time or two when making various breads but this recipe has always worked for me. I usually buy my yeast and use it right away to ensure freshness.

If you are looking for a great weekend baking project, these rolls will be sure to please you! They are soft, tender and the topping is thick and rich. So perfect for the upcoming cooler months.

I rate this recipe a 9

Caramel Pecan Sticky Rolls
adapted from here

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 TBS milk or cream (my addition)
3/4 cup pecans

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon.

In saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter  and syrup and milk or cream. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour into bottom of a greased 9×13″ pan. Sprinkle pecans evenly over top.

Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls.

Place rolls prepared  9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Allow to cool in pan for about 20 minutes, turn over onto a foil lined baking sheet. Best served same day.

Keep stored in an airtight container. If reheating in microwave do not overheat or the dough will become tough and the caramel may burn.

Dutch Apple Pie

1Fall is here and so is the cooler weather. Nothing says fall to me like the smell of apples and cinnamon in the kitchen. After a fun-filled trip to a local apple orchard, my Taste Tester and I thought it was time to make one of our favorite pies (confession: I am not much of a pie person in general). We have been making this pie for a few years now. The first time we made it and took it to a get-together, after we were kicking ourselves for sharing it since it was so good.

Ever since, we have only made it for ourselves. I have never made another apple pie, but what I like about this is that the apples are cooked on the stove before adding them to the crust to bake. This eliminates any worries about crunchy apples after baking. I also love the crumb topping. My Taste Tester LOVES the crumb topping, he asks for it on muffins when ever I make them (it does work great on muffins as well). We do cheat and use a store-bought crust (we have made our own, but in a pinch just use the premade stuff)

If you are looking for a great homemade apple pie, look no further. This one is the perfect combination of sweet, cinnamon and is a bit creamy and caramel-like on the inside. The crumb topping takes it over the top. I like mine warm with  icecream but, really, this is good  alone.

I rate this recipe a 9

Dutch Apple Pie
from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 1 single-crust pie dough
Streusel ingredients.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 TB cornmeal (optional)
  • 6 TB (3/4 stick) butter, melted
Filling ingredients.
  • 2 TB (1/4 stick) butter
  • 4 or 5 apples, cored, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
For the streusel, in a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients and then drizzle the butter over it a little bit at a time, using a fork or whisk until mixture is clumpy. Set aside.
For the filling, in a medium pot (or Dutch oven), melt the butter and cook the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt over medium-high heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened (about 6 or 7 minutes). Add raisins (if desired) and cooked another 7 minutes covered. Transfer cooked apple mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon leaving the apple juice in the pan. Add cream, stirring frequently, and cook until reduced by half, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the cream to the apple mixture.
Bake the crust blind for 10 – 12 minutes, then remove crust from oven. Spread the apple filling evenly into the warm, partially baked pie crust. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the streusel mixture.
Bake the pie until the crust and streusel have lightly browned, about 25 – 28 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.