Homemade Goldfish Crackers

Goldfish have always had a special place in my heart. My sister and I used to eat them ALL the time when we were little, and I definitely still snack on them nowadays. So when I saw this idea on pinterest, I immediately bought a fish shaped cookie cutter on amazon and patiently waited two days for it to be delivered (I’m pretty sure I tracked the package about 6 times…I was just too excited). Once the cutters FINALLY arrived, I gathered my ingredients and followed this recipe:

    • 1 cup (4 ounces) very finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 cup whole or reduced-fat milk
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

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I stirred the cheese, flour, salt, baking powder, and onion powder together in a large bowl until the cheese was evenly distributed and coated. I then added the milk and vegetable oil and continued to stir with a spatula, then kneaded  the dough until a cohesive dough formed. It was crumbly at first, but I continued to press and knead the dough until the dry bits were incorporated.I then transferred the dough to my work surface, and covered it with the upside-down bowl to let rest for 10 minutes.

Then it was time to preheat my oven to 375˚F, and lined 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.I divided the dough into 2 pieces, and refrigerated one piece while I rolled the second piece as thin as humanly possible (no more than 1/8-inch thick). The thinner your dough, the crispier your crackers will be, and everyone likes a crispy cracker 😀

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Next I stamped out cracker shapes with my fish cookie cutter, and transferred the shapes to my prepared baking sheets. I let the crackers bake for about 10 minutes, until the crackers were crispy and just turning golden at the edges. I used two different sized cutters, and adjusted the baking time accordingly. The timing will vary according to the size and shape of your crackers.

I then transferred them  to a wire rack and let cool completely. They tasted so good!! This is seriously such a fun snack.



Snickers Ice Cream Cake

For the next birthday at my office, I had a request to make an ice cream cake. Naturally, I was elated. The only thing better than a regular birthday cake is an ice cream birthday cake!! So I began scouring the web for a recipe that didn’t require an ice cream machine…because of course I wanted to use homemade ice cream despite the fact that I don’t have an ice cream machine. Yes, I know I’m silly. Regardless, I knew I had a winning recipe when I came across this one. It makes the ice cream layer without a machine, is simple, and uses SNICKERS. I deviated from the original recipe which recommended using box brownie mix and decided to make the brownies from scratch, but it’s totally your call! To make it my way, you will need:

For the brownie layers:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa

For the ice cream layer:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed

For the topping/filling:

  • 1 20 oz bottle chocolate sundae syrup
  • 1 20 oz bottle caramel sundae syrup
  • 1 11.5 oz bag mini snickers, chopped, divided into three groups

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I began by greasing two 8-inch pans (springform pans would work best, but I don’t have any so I just used 9 inch cake pans) and lined the bottoms with parchment paper to allow for easy removal. I mixed together all the brownie ingredients in a large bowl and poured half the batter into each pan. I let them bake for about about 12 minutes, until the tooth pick came out clean, and let them cool for 10 minutes before placing them on a wire rack.

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As the brownies were cooling, I made the ice cream layer. I combined the milk, cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter together, and mixed them together with my hand mixer. Once all the ingredients were completely combined. I then folded in the cool whip.

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For the assembly of the cake, I placed one of the brownie layers in the middle of my cake tray and spread 1/3 of the snickers evenly over the top. I then drizzled 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce and 1/2 cup of the chocolate sauce over the brownie. I then topped this with half of the peanut butter ice cream, and let this first level freeze for about 15 minutes. I then placed the second brownie layer on top of the ice cream, and again cover the brownie with the second group of chopped snickers, 1/2 cup caramel sauce, and 1/2 cup chocolate sauce.  I topped this with the remaining peanut butter ice cream, and topped with the remaining snickers, caramel sauce, and chocolate sauce, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.

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I then let this completely freeze, and brought it into work. It turned out wonderfully! The consistency of the ice cream layer was perfect, and the frozen snickers added a great textural component. If I were to make it again, I would definitely use spingform pans, and try to make the cake taller (rather than wider) to enhance the aesthetic effect. I am looking forward to testing out more ice cream cake recipes  this summer 😀

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Nutella Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Like all wonderful things in life, this recipe involves Nutella…so you know it’s going to be delicious. I can’t take all the credit for this week’s inspiration, since it was actually one of my coworkers that initially gave me the idea (thanks again cyn!). I have modified the original recipe a bit  by switching out a regular graham cracker crust for an oreo crust, and adding the cream centers into the cheesecake filling. Why, you might ask? Because I love oreos just as much as I love Nutella. And you can never have too much chocolate (which I made clear with my Chocolate Trifecta Cake) . To make this master peice, you will need the following ingredients:
For the crust:
    • 1 large package of oreo cookies, cream centers removed
    • 4 T butter
For the filling:
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • the removed cream centers from the oreos
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Nutella
As always, I began by preheating my oven to 325 degrees F. I then buttered an 9×13 baking dish and lined it with parchment paper, making sure that the parchment is well pressed in the corners.
To make the quintessential oreo crust, I went old school and crushed the oreo cookies in a plastic bag using a serving spoon. This was a great opportunity get out my frustrations from the day. Once I had broken down the cookies into crumbs, I stirred them into my bowl of melted butter. I pressed the Oreo mixture evenly into the bottom of my baking dish and baked the crust until it had set (about 12 minutes). Set aside to cool.
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To make the filling, I used my little hand mixer to beat the cream cheese, oreo centers, and sugar together until the mixture was smooth. I then mixed in the eggs and vanilla. I then spread the filling evenly over the crust, and dropped Nutella over top of filling. Using a knife, I swirled the Nutella into the filling.

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I let this bake for about 25 minutes, or until filling is just set. I let the bars cool overnight.

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It is really important that the bars are completely chilled/firm before you cut them. This means that I had to wait until I got to work to taste test them….and honestly they turned out perfectly! I baked them just long enough, and couldn’t be happier with the modifications I made to the original recipe. They were a huge hit at the office, people started eating them before 10am 😀

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Reese’s Fudge Ripple Cake

I don’t even need to say anything about this cake, it speaks for itself. It starts with a rich, chocolate fudge cake, and is topped with a fluffy peanut butter buttercream frosting, smooth chocolate icing, and of course Reece’s peanut butter cups. To me, it sounds like a little slice of heaven! To make this cake, you will need:

Sour Cream Fudge CakeThis is a perfect cake for stacking and sculpting because of its tight crumb and firm structure (makes two 9″ rounds)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup regular sour cream
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups hot coffee

Chocolate Frosting
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 12 oz. packages Reese’s minis, unwrapped and chopped (for middle layer and garnish)

I know it seems like a lot of ingredients, but I bet you already have a majority of them in your pantry! I also want to say that this recipe is pure genius, and that I knew it would be a winner when I saw that it included coffee and sour cream in the batter.

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For the Sour Cream Fudge Cake, I started off preheating my oven to 350 degrees, buttering my 9 inch cake pans, lining them with parchment paper rounds, and buttering the paper. I then dusted the entire interior of each pan with cocoa powder. Then I got started on the actual cake batter, and sifted the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar into my mixing bowl. In a separate bowl I mixed my wet ingredients, which included the eggs, oil, milk, sour cream, cooled coffee, and vanilla. I then added my wets to my drys in three installments, and beat until everything was incorporated. I poured the batter into the two pans and let them bake for about 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick came a clean. I then let them cool in the pans for about 20 minutes, and removed them to let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

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As the cakes were baking, I got started on the frosting. I made the chocolate frosting first, and mixed together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, cocoa, and salt until it was smooth. I then added the corn syrup (this gives the frosting it’s luscious gloss) and vanilla and process until just combined. The last step was to pour in the melted chocolate, and mix until smooth and creamy.

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For the peanut butter frosting, I whipped the cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, and salt on a low speed until it was combined. I then added the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time. Once all the sugar had been incorporated, I bought the speed up to high and whipped until it was light and fluffy.  Note: The ingredients may appear to separate at first, but it’s ok! Continue to whip air into the frosting to emulsify the fats and achieve a smooth, fluffy texture; it can take up to five minutes.

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Then came the fun part, the assembly!! I cut each cake in half for four even layers.  I placed one of the bottom layers on a tray I would be using to transport the cake to work. I spread half of the chocolate frosting evenly on the first layer, then set the second layer on top. On second layer, I spread 1/2″ of peanut butter frosting.  I then sprinkled the entire surface of frosting layer with chopped Reese’s.  I lightly pressed the candy into the frosting. Next I placed the third layer on top, and evenly spread the remaining chocolate frosting onto it.  I then placed the final layer of cake on top.  I recommend using one of the “bottom” pieces of cake and flipping it over so that the smooth bottom becomes the top of the cake.

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I then frosted the exterior of the cake with the peanut butter icing.  I pressed slivers of chopped Reese’s along the bottom rim of the cake, and then sprinkled the remaining Reese’s peanut  butter cups on the top of the cake. Next I put the remaining chocolate frosting into a piping bag, and drizzled it in a ring around the top of the cake. I then placed some Reese’s Pieces on top of the chocolate drizzle! Then the REALLY hard part came. I had to let the cake sit in my fridge overnight until work the next day. It was definitely a winner!!

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Watermelon Feta Bites

I don’t know what it is, but fresh fruit and cheese taste so good together! My mind always immediately goes to apples and sharp cheddar, but this appetizer mixes it up a bit. Watermelon is in season, and I was really excited to incorporate it into one of my appetizers for my birthday party. The things you will need include:

  • Cubed watermelon
  • 1 block of feta cheese
  • bundle of fresh mint
  • toothpicks

The hardest part is probably chopping up the watermelon…but if you are in a rush or don’t feel like cutting one up, you always buy pre-cut watermelon. I prefer cutting it up myself though, since it’s so much cheaper to buy a whole watermelon. I also don’t mind having left over watermelon to snack on 😀

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I then cubed my feta, placed it on top of each bit of watermelon, and topped each bite with a bit of chopped mint leaf. I shoved toothpicks through each bite to make them easier for everyone to eat. I was really surprised by how well the salty, drier texture of the feta went with the juicy, sweet watermelon. The spring of mint is mostly ornamental, but it also added a nice little hint of flavor. I love this combination, and will definitely be making it again.

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White Wine Sangria

I recently made red wine sangria, and thought it was about time I tried out a white wine sangria! You can really add whatever fruit you want to sangria, so I chose my favorite fruits and used the following ingredients:

  • 1 bottle white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 12 oz. ginger ale (you could also use club soda)
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 limes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pint blueberries

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I put everything into a large pitcher and let it sit in my fridge overnight. It was perfectly chilled when I pulled it out for my birthday party! And MAN was it tasty – it was crisp, refreshing, and perfect for a summer night fun 😀


Crescent Jalapeno Poppers

I feel like crescent rolls are like an open canvas, the possibilities are endless. Usually I follow my sweet tooth and make chocolate crescents, but today I leaned toward the savory side. This takes all of three ingredients:

  • crescent dough
  • 4 tablespoons chopped jalapenos
  • 4 oz. cream cheese

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, then laid out the crescent dough. I spread about a tables spoon of cream cheese at the base of each dough triangle, then put about 1/2 tablespoon of jalapenos on top of the cream cheese.

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I rolled each crescent up starting from the base, and popped them in the oven for about 10 minutes (give or take) until they were golden brown.

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These literally went like hot cakes. I set them out and they were gone before I knew it! Definitely my favorite savory crescent recipe!!