Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Jessica! Chocolate PB Cake!

We celebrated our baby girls birthday today with our family and some of her friends.  We are very proud of the woman she has become.  She is a sweet, compassionate, sensitive woman with a heart for others... but she will always be our baby girl!  Jessy turned 22 on March 27th but because she was in Austin Texas for a conference on her birthday we had to celebrate a few days late.  Of course I will make whatever the birthday person wants for their birthday dinner and Jessy's is usually the same every year, and like most years she chose Lasagna and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. 

The chocolate peanut butter cake is rich, moist delicious treat, with decadent layers of creamy peanut butter goo, between yummy chocolate peanut butter cake topped with chocolate peanut butter frosting... sprinkled with Reese's peanut butter cups... and if that isn't rich enough for you with a little scoop of fudge peanut butter ice cream on the side!  It is super easy and you would never know it all started from a cake mix!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake 
1 Package chocolate cake mix (I like Duncan Hines Fudge)

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1 can chocolate frosting
1/3 cup peanut butter

peanut butter cups, chopped

Directions:  Bake as directed in 2 8" or 9" round cake pans and cool on racks when cooled, cut each cake in half to make 4 rounds.  While cake is cooling make the filling in medium size bowl, mix softened butter, peanut butter, confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla together until smooth and creamy. When cake is completely cooled and sliced spread a little filling on the bottom of a round cake plate and place 1st layer on top (this will help it from sliding.) Spread top of 1st layer with about 1/3 of pb filling.  Continue with other layers spreading 1/3 of pb filling between each layer.  Mix 1 can of chocolate frosting with 1/3 cup peanut butter and frost the entire outside of cake.  Top with chopped or mini peanut butter cups to decorate.  Serve with ice cream for a decadent birthday treat!

Cooks Notes:  I have made these into cupcakes and used the filling to pipe in the center of each cupcake and then frost.  Top with 1/4 peanut butter cup on top of each cupcake to decorate!

 Bake a chocolate cake according to the package directions, 
I picked the dark chocolate fudge

 I used two 9" round pans

 While cakes are baking prepare the peanut butter filling 
using a hand or stand mixer

 Spread a little filling on your cake plate to help keep your cake from slipping

 When cakes are done, cool completely on cooling racks

 Cut each round in half using a serrated knife so you have 4 circles

 Place one circle on the dollop of filling you put on your cake plate
 Spread 1/3 of the filling on top of cake

 Place second cake on filling

 spread with more of the peanut butter filling

 Continue with layers until you have 4 layers of cake and 3 layers of filling

 Mix one can of chocolate frosting with 1/3 of a cup creamy peanut butter

 Blend frosting and peanut butter until smooth and creamy

 Frost top and sides of entire cake

Decorate the cake with peanut butter cups, I found these 
mini cups but regular peanut butter cups are fine too!

 Chop some up to sprinkle on top and then I placed 
some around the bottom whole

This cake is always a big hit... there is never too many leftovers!

 Jessy's boyfriend Justin brought her these beautiful flowers

 Sweet station!

 Jessy baby cousin Madeleine was all about helping her blow out the candels

 She had fun helping Jes open her presents too!
She was incredibly adorable and made everyone laugh

 She need a little assistance with her bib :)

 Jessy's friend Desi came into town from Chicago with her 
friend Kelsey to surprise Jessy

 Wes and John... these two have been buddy's since birth!

 Grandpa ... I don't think he wanted his picture taken :)

 Justin, Leeanne and Andy came to help celebrate too

 John and his Mom

My brother Jim, and my Mom

We enjoyed a nice afternoon catching up, hearing about her trip to Austin, and celebrating her 22 years with us! She was really surprised by Desi's visit!  What a blessing it is to share these special day's with people we love!

Happy Birthday Jessy,

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Oh my goodness!  I have been wanting to make these delicious looking cookies ever since I saw a picture of them. If you love cinnamon rolls (and who doesn't?), you are sure to love these lovely little cookies.  The aroma alone while they are baking is worth it!  

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies
2 Cups sugar
1 Cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup sour cream
6 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons softened butter, (slice 2 Tablespoons 6 times totaling 12 tablespoons)
1 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar, divided into 1/4 Cups (6 1/4 cup portions)
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk, to thin icing (I used a little more)
Directions: Mix cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well combined. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined.  In 2 batches, place in plastic wrap in a disc shape and chill for at least 2 hours for best results. Once chilled, cut each disc into thirds and roll into a 1/8 inch thick oval, about 12 inches X 5 inches.  Spread each rolled pieces of dough with 2 Tablespoons softened butter, 1/4 Cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  Start rolling from the long end closest to you, rolling into a log shape.  Using a sharp knife, cut 1/2 inch pieces of dough then placing onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet. To prepare frosting, beat the cream cheese until softened and smooth, slowly add powdered sugar and milk until desired consistency.  Frost cookies then place in refrigerator until ready to serve.  
Makes at least 6 dozen

Cooks Notes - I made the entire batch of dough, but could see it was going to make a ton of cookies, so I decide to freeze one of the discs of dough, along with 1/2 the icing to make cookies another day.  The one disc, yielded approximately 54 cookies!  Next time I make them I think I will make just a regular powder sugar glaze and skip the cream cheese.  Even though they were delicious, with the cream cheese the cookies should really be refrigerated and I like to fill my cookie jar on my counter instead!

 Mix cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream 
until well combined

Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well combined.
Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt 
until well combined

In 2 batches, place in plastic wrap in a disc shape and chill for 
at least 2 hours for best results

Once chilled, cut each disc into thirds

12 tablespoons softened butter, (slice 2 Tablespoons 6 times totaling 12 tablespoons)

Roll into a 1/8 inch thick oval, about 12 inches X 5 inches.  
Spread each rolled pieces of dough with 2 Tablespoons softened butter

Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar with  1/4 tsp cinnamon

Spread cinnamon sugar mixture on top of dough and roll up

Slice 1/2 inch pieces of cookie roll

Place on cookie sheet

Bake in 350 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes, remove from oven
and let cool 5 minutes on pan before removing to cooling rack

Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese, and milk in mixer until smooth 
I needed to add more milk for desired consistency to drizzle cookies

I found it quicker, easier, and neater to put the icing into a Ziploc baggie 
and snip a tiny hole in the corner to drizzle icing onto cookies
rather than just drizzling with a spoon 

Look at those lovely little cookies! 

Yummmmm -O

I froze my extra disc of cookie dough and icing because this recipe 
makes so many cookies!  These will be super easy to get out 
and bake sometime I need something quick!

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth,


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Olga" Copycat Bread and Tzatziki Sauce

Olga's bread is the best. It is a soft kind of sweet yeasty flat bread that is used to make a pita type sandwich sometimes served with tzatziki sauce. It is always a treat to eat lunch at Olga's when at the Mall. But how fun is it to be able to have an Olga's sandwich at home whenever you want!  I made some several years ago and my family loved them.  They were super simple to make and this weekend when I scoured through our most recent church cookbook I came across this recipe and thought I would give them a try again.  The recipe was submitted by a mother daughter duo, Carol McFall, and Julie Ureste, who are both beautiful, talented, women, and they said they don't mind me sharing their recipe for Olga bread with you!


"Olga" Copycat Bread (ww 4.5 p+ each)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
4 cup flour, divided
1 egg

Directions:  Scald milk and remove to large bowl.  Add honey, butter and salt to milk and stir until butter is melted.  Set aside to cool.  In small bowl add yeast, warm water and sugar.  Stir until sugar dissolves and set aside to cool. Add 1 1/2 cup flour to milk mixture and beat well.  Beat in egg and yeast until thoroughly combined.  Add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour a little at a time until dough is sticky. Knead on a floured surface for 2 minutes.  Place dough in oiled bowl and turn once. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough.  Divide into 16 pieces.  Roll each in a 10 inch circle.  Heat a large dry skillet over medium heat.  Bake each circle 15 seconds.  Flip and bake other side 10 seconds, until brown spots appear. Do not overcook.

Scald milk on stove top and remove from heat

Add honey and butter and salt to scalded milk and stir until 
butter is melted, set aside to cool

In small bowl add yeast and sugar to warm water and stir to dissolve, 
set aside to cool

In mixer bowl add 1 1/2 cups flour and milk and mix to combine

Add egg and yeast mixture and mix again to combine

Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and mix until sticky dough forms

Turn dough out on floured surface 

Knead dough for 2 minutes

Place dough into a well floured bowl and turn once to coat

Cover with plastic and place in warm place until doubled in size
I don't have very good luck with raising bread in a "warm spot" 
so I make my own by adding boiling water to the bottom of a dish 
and putting a cooling rack on top to set my dough bowl

I usually tent it to keep the heat in and this helps speed up rising!

When the dough is doubled in size you are good to go!

Take out some aggression on your bread and give it a good punch

Separate dough into 16 portions

Roll each dough ball into a 10 inch circle... I have a handy dandy tortlla press that is helpful but not necessary for this.  Place dough ball in press

Cover with lid and press to flatten

Look at my nice little cirlcle

Of course a rolling pin works great too!  This dough likes to shrink 
a little when rolled so I roll it pretty thin

Place dough circle in a dry pan that has been pre-heated to medium, 
cook until little bubbles start forming
about 15 seconds.

Flip bread and cook on other side about 10 seconds longer, 
and remove from pan

Look at that delicious bread!

Bonus Recipe...

Tzatziki Sauce (ww 6 p+ for 2 Tbs. serving)
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 Tbs. grated onion (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 cup Greek yogurt, strained
1 cup sour cream
2 cumbers, peeled, seeded and diced (I used 1/2 of a English cucumber)
1 tsp. chopped fresh dill (I used dried dill)

Directions:  Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Using a whisk, blend the yogurt with the sour cream (I used fat free Greek yogurt and low fat sour cream). Add the olive oil mixture to the yogurt mixture and mix well.  Finally, add the cucumber and chopped fresh dill.  Chill for at least two hours before serving.  Wonderful served with pita bread, pita chips, veggies, or as dressing for a sandwich.

Mix the olive oil, garlic, onion, vinegar, salt and pepper in one bowl. 
Combine the olive oil mixture with the yogurt and sour cream

Dice the cucumber in small pieces and add to the mixture.  
I used 1/2 of an English cucumber so I did not seed.

Stir in dill weed, the recipe called for fresh but 
I only had dried dill and it worked fine!

Enjoy as a dip with your pita bread, pita chips, veggies, or as a 
dressing for a delicious sandwich made with your fresh baked pita bread!