August 02, 2016

dove chocolate magic cookie bars

I really didn't know that there would be a way to possibly love magic cookie bars any more than I already did. Until now.

Do y'all call them Magic Cookie Bars or Hello Dollies? I think I say both. But today, they're the former. 

Most magic cookie bars are graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans. But I amped up the chocolate layer by ditching the regular old chips and lining the pan with Dove Chocolates! And not just one kind of Dove Chocolates - TWO KINDS!  Oh my word. AND THEN after all of the layers are piled into the pan, I sprinkled the whole pan with sea salt to cut the sweet and bring out a sophisticated flavor in these bars. They really are over the top perfection. A little bite of something for everyone!

The recipe follows, but if you want to watch my fun episode with my nieces, then click HERE. They made these bars from beginning to end with just a little bit of coaching! And we show a creative way to package these bars for a Back To School teacher gift! 


1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 package Dove milk chocolate squares
1 package Dove dark chocolate squares
1 ½ cups flaked coconut
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped pecan bits
Sea salt

Set the oven to 350F. Coat a 13x9 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Line the unwrapped chocolate squares to cover the crumb mixture, alternating milk chocolate and dark chocolate. They don’t have to touch because they’ll melt and spread. There can be a little bit of space between them. Sprinkle coconut over the chocolate squares. Carefully stir the vanilla into the can of sweetened condensed milk, and pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the pan. Top with pecan bits. Lightly dust the pan with several pinches of sea salt. 

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely at room temperature and then refrigerate so the chocolate can set up enough to cut them. Or cut them gooey and melted if you don’t care that they’ll be a mess!

July 14, 2016

chocolate peanut butter dream pie

Y'all. I don't even know what to say about this pie. I've sat here thinking about how to start telling you about this dreamy, creamy goodness. And I can only come up with two things. And both may convince you to make this pie.
1. I am always one to choose fruit dessert over chocolate dessert. Hands down. No questions asked. No looking back. And I made four of these pies in four days.
2. I'm convinced that my picture is blurry because I was shaking with uncontrollable joy at getting to cut into my fourth pie in four days. 

note: I didn't eat all four pies.
note: I totally could have though.
note: They're. that. good.

Watch the episode and see me make this pie on Cooking Today by clicking HERE! 

Makes one 9” pie
2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
8oz carton cool whip, thawed
1-2 cups chopped chocolate peanut butter cups
¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup milk chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons coconut oil

In a small bowl, combine cookie crumbs and unsalted butter with a fork until crumbs are moist. Pour crumbs into a 9” pie dish (not a deep pie dish, just a regular one) and press into the bottom and up the sides. Refrigerate crumb crust while you prepare the filling so it firms up a little.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the peanut butter and softened cream cheese with the powdered sugar and vanilla. On low speed, stir in the carton of thawed cool whip. Carefully spread the peanut butter filling into the chilled crumb crust. Cover the top with chopped peanut butter cups.

In a small microwaveable bowl or glass measuring cup, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil for 20 seconds at a time until smooth, stirring between each interval. Using a small spoon, drizzle melted chocolate all over the top of the pie. Chill for at least an hour or more before serving. It. Is. Rich. So you may get 10-12 pieces out of one pie! Have cold milk on hand! Delicious!

July 12, 2016

easy no churn strawberry ice cream

Lord have mercy. We're in the throes of Summer in the South, and our air went out. Not the kind of "out" where you just add a little sumpthin to it and it cools again in no time. I mean OUT. Like, NEW SYSTEM out. Like WAITING FOR THREE DAYS FOR A NEW ONE TO BE INSTALLED out. 

So I have done all the things that every good Southerner does when it's as hot inside as it is outside.
-I closed every blind and pulled every drape.
-I've sat in utter darkness as not to generate one ounce of heat from one little light bulb. (Although I did burn a candle for ambience. Candles are real spirit-lifters in my book.)
-I flat out shut the door in a delivery man's face because there was no standing with the door wide open while I went for a pen to sign his paper. I used my best manners when I did it.
-I've sipped through a gallon of sweet tea all by myself.
-I went to Walmart and bought a fan called The Blizzard that has been by my side moving the air. Everywhere I go. I may or may not have talked to my fan like Tom Hanks talked to Wilson, his beloved volleyball, in Castaway.
-And I made no churn strawberry ice cream. And I ate it for lunch.

Y'all. It's hot in here. I needed a treat. I couldn't for the LIFE of me imagine turning on the oven or stove top flame. But I could sure use my blender and my mixer and have homemade ice cream by morning. You gotta do what you gotta do. I mean, I'm talking to oscillating fans, people.

So here's the recipe for you. It's rich and sweet. It's a little icy and a little creamy. And it hits the spot when you're hot! Y'all enjoy, and stay cool wherever you are. 

makes 1 9x5 loaf pan which is I'm-not-even-sure-how-many bowls

16oz fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla + 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a blender or food processor, pulse the berries until they are about halfway pureed but still have some chunks. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and pulse again until the mixture comes together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla for several minutes on medium high speed. Whip until the cream has thickened and has medium peaks. Gently fold the strawberry mixture into the whipped cream, and spoon into a metal 9x5 loaf pan. (You can use just about anything that is freezer safe.) Cover and freeze overnight, and eat it for lunch the next day when you're hot.

July 05, 2016

green chili and lime chicken fajitas

When Sam and I were dating, we'd go out to eat and share Fajitas for Two at any restaurant that would offer it on the menu. We. Love. Fajitas. Mmmm, with yummy queso and guacamole! Ugh, we can eat ourselves sick on fajitas and queso! After we got married, we decided we wanted to learn how to make reallly good fajitas at home. So we worked on a recipe doing a little of this and a little of that. We tried different skillets, different marinades, different seasonings. And after a few years of trying a few variations, we've landed. I made us finally write it down so we'd know every time what we did that made them so good! Then I even had him as a guest on my cooking show so we could make these for y'all step by step! WATCH THE EPISODE HERE. They require a little bit of chopping, but very little skill. Worth every single second!

Two equipment notes real quick! In order to get a good caramelization on your veggies, you need a cast iron skillet. Go find one at a flea market, get your Grannie's, or run to Euna Mae's and get a double-handled big boy like I have here! It's dreamy, gang. And also, grill the chicken on an outdoor grill. We tried to do chicken inside, but the flavor from the grill and those charred grill marks is unbeatable! Spoon out the queso, and let's get going!

Feeds about 6

3 chicken breasts, pounded and flattened a little on the thick end

For the marinade:
⅔ cup canola oil
¼ cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, mashed
Juice of 2 limes
2 small cans diced green chilies
For the rub/seasoning:
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon season salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon salt

1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced into strips
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
Flour or corn tortillas
Shredded monterey jack cheese
Sour cream
Lime for squeezing over fajitas

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the marinade. Put chicken in a zip top bag and pour marinade over. Massage into meat. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or as long as four hours. Don’t marinate overnight or the lime juice in the marinade will break down the texture of the meat. Mix dry rub together in a small bowl. Remove chicken from marinade, allow marinade to drain off, and generously season both sides of chicken breasts with dry rub mix, reserving about a teaspoon for the vegetables. Grill for 7 minutes on each side. Remove from grill onto a rimmed baking sheet, and cover with foil. Covered chicken can stay warm in a 200 degree oven until time to slice and serve.

While chicken is grilling, preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat with just a little oil drizzled in the bottom. Saute onions and peppers until tender with a little color. Season with 1 tsp of seasoning/rub mix plus a few good pinches of salt. As vegetables finish up, cut chicken into thin slices, and add to the skillet with the hot onions and pepper. Squeeze a lime over the skillet, and splash with a few tablespoons of water to get that restaurant sizzle! Serve with warmed tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, and cilantro.

June 06, 2016

grilled black bean and chicken burritos

If I know two things at all, I know these two things. 1) We are busy. 2) We love Mexican food. So combine those two things, and you've got a recipe for these grilled black bean and chicken burritos!  It's a quick weeknight recipe that is a crowd-pleaser. YAY! The hero of this dish is rotisserie chicken that can be picked up and pulled apart in a snap. Then these burritos are filled with gooey, melted cheese, a warm sweet-and-spicy black bean salsa, and super seasoned chicken. Load 'em up, grill 'em up, slice 'em and serve 'em! Your people are gonna love them! 

Watch the online episode HERE with step-by-step instructions and fun!

feeds about 6

1 family-sized or two small rotisserie chickens, meat pulled and shredded
¼ cup water
1 can of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 scant teaspoon cumin
1 scant teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium yellow onion
1 14oz can black beans, drained a little
½-1 cup frozen corn
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Package of soft taco-sized flour tortillas
Sliced avocado
Halved grape tomatoes
Sour cream

In a pot over medium-low heat, mix together and heat chicken, water, half of the juice from the Rotel can (keep the rest!), lime juice, chili, cumin, and garlic powder. Stir and taste for seasoning, adding more as you’d like.

Meanwhile, slice onion and saute in a little oil until tender and golden.

In another pot over medium heat, mix together black beans, corn, the rest of the Rotel can, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Down the center of one flour tortilla, layer chicken mixture, black bean mixture (use a slotted spoon to drain off liquid), then top with shredded monterey jack cheese. Fold each side in like a burrito and grill in a preheated non-stick skillet drizzled with a little oil. Weight the burrito with another skillet or heavy spatula while it cooks on both sides. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining tortillas and fillings. Garnish with avocado, tomatoes, sour cream, and cilantro!