Waiting on Monkey, Monkey Bread

What’s there to do while waiting for our monkey to arrive?  Make monkey bread of course!  Every time I see a picture of monkey bread I start drooling, so I decided to take a whack at it.  If I’d known how easy monkey bread was to make, I would’ve been making them for years.  This monkey bread may become the birthday morning breakfast tradition for the baby.  Sounds like a good idea to me!

Monkey Bread - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife



Ingredients
2 tubes of 8 Grand Buttermilk Biscuits
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 stick of butter
1/4-1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of chopped pecans (optional)

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Lightly spray a pound cake pan with baking spray
-Add the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, and pecans to a large ziplock bag (the freezer bag size).  Seal the bag and shake to combine.
-Separate all of the biscuits and slice each biscuit into 6 pieces (like you’re slicing a pizza), and add to the ziplock bag.
-Seal the bag and shake to coat each of the biscuit triangles with the sugar mixture.
-Pour the dough mixture into an even layer in the pound cake pan.
-Melt the butter and honey in a small microwave-safe bowl and spoon evenly over the top of the dough.
-Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
-Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes
-Give the pan a little shake and flip onto serving plate.  Let sit for another 5-10 minutes before devouring…just as a cruel joke 🙂 

Christmas Goodies

Instead of buying gifts for lots of people this year, I decided to do a bunch of baking and give out goodies.  It was so fun making all these treats and giving them to family and friends, I think I will do this from now on!  The trick is to make large batches of each goody and divvy them up into cookie tins all at once.  I found a TON of festive cookie tins from the dollar store, so I didn’t break the bank on the cookie tins.

Between the crazy baking spree, traveling, and gobbling these goodies up before I could say “have a holly jolly Christmas” there wasn’t time to take pictures.  So here are the recipes, links to originals, and pictures borrowed from the lovely bloggers with these yummy recipes!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls from Praying Twice 

These peanut butter balls were a HUGE hit.  The rice krispies add a fun crunch and texture that people couldn’t get enough of.  The powdered sugar also helps these peanut butter balls not be as heavy and dense as other peanut butter balls I’ve had in the past.  My only “complaint” is how messy you get while making these and they are somewhat labor intensive.  My hands were covered in chocolate which was so tempting to lick as I was making these…but I resisted until the end…I swear!!  But because the end result is so yummy, all the work was worth it!

Ingredients
2 cups creamy peanut butter
3 cups rice krispies
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup melted butter, melted
2-3 packages of milk chocolate chips, melted

Directions
-Mix the peanut butter, rice krispies, powdered sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl.  The mixture is quite thick and I found it easier just to use my hands! 

*The goal is to be able to roll the mixture into a ball that isn’t to dry or too sticky.  Just right.  If the balls are too dry and not rolling together, add more peanut butter.  If the balls are too wet and sticky, add more powdered sugar.

-Pre-roll all of the peanut butter balls and place on cookie sheets BEFORE dipping in chocolate, your hands will get messy.

-Dip each ball into the chocolate and place back on cookie sheet. 

-Let harden before packing up and you can put them in the fridge to speed up the process.

(Makes about 70 balls)

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies from Life as a Lofthouse

Are you a fan of soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies?  This is for you!  The great thing about these cookies is how soft they are without having to pop them in the microwave (but the extra warmth still makes them even better!).  The secret ingredient aka vanilla pudding mix is where the cookies get their chewy texture.  Also the added bump of vanilla flavor makes these cookies top all others if you ask me.  Does anyone else have trouble answering the question of vanilla or chocolate?  They go together so well!

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 12 oz bag milk chocolate chips

Directions  
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Add butter, both sugars, pudding mix, eggs and vanilla to a large bowl, and beat until creamy and fluffy
-Then slowly mix in flour and baking soda
-Stir in chocolate chips
-Drop by tablespoonfuls, onto an un-greased cookie sheet.
-Bake for ONLY 9-10 minutes.
-Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes before eating. 

(Makes about 36 cookies)


Triple Chocolate Cherry Bars from Betty Crocker

I’ve recently discovered and become a fan of Betty Crocker.  Many of the recipes are super simple and quick to prepare and all remind me of comfort food.  And if you search through the website and cookbooks, you are bound to come across real gems like this recipe!  Chocolate with cherries is one of my favorite combos.  Nate’s aunt makes delicious chocolate covered cherries every Christmas and these are similar, just in a brownie form.  And the fact that these are so quick and easy to whip up, I’ll be making these year round and not just for the holidays.

Ingredients
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® chocolate fudge cake mix
1 21 oz can cherry pie filling
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 container Betty Crocker® Whipped chocolate frosting

Directions
-Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan)
-Spray a 15x10x1-inch or 13×9-inch pan with baking spray
-In large bowl, gently mix dry cake mix, pie filling, eggs and chocolate chips with rubber spatula; break up any undissolved cake mix by pressing with spatula
-Carefully spread in pan
-Bake 15x10x1-inch pan 23 to 27 minutes, 13×9-inch pan 29 to 34 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
-Cool completely, about 1 hour
-Frost with frosting
-Cut to desired size bars
-Store loosely covered 

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust

Adapted from: AllRecipes
 
This pie is so easy, delicious, and looks amazing!  Besides baking the crust, this is almost a no-bake pie…how great is that?  The red cherries really pop on only dinner spread, and this cool pie would be refreshing on a hot summer day.  To make this recipe even easier, you could use a store bought graham cracker crust, but it is so worth it to make your own.  And making your own graham cracker crust is extremely easy, so why not?  And what a great way to get out some frustrations than to beat up some graham crackers? I also used Organic Valley’s Cream Cheese and Cultured Unsalted Butter.  These products combined with the lemon just gives this pie such an enjoyable fresh taste even though you are using a canned pie filling.  Hope you enjoy!
Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 21 oz can light cherry pie filling
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon.
Press mixture into a 9 inch pie dish.
Bake for 7 minutes and remove from oven to let cool.
Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, and continue beating until smooth and combined.
Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.
Fill graham cracker crust evenly.
Refrigerate until ready to serve (atleast 3 hours).
Before serving, spread the cherry pie filling over the top.
Enjoy!

Rolo Turtles

A good family friend exposed us to these little gems last Thanksgiving.  If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your children, these Rolo Turtles would be an excellent choice!  And they are the perfect holiday treat to bring for coworkers, send as teacher gifts, or just a holiday goodie to keep around the house for visitors who drop by!  And let’s be honest, you can never have too many pieces of candy around the house during the holidays for yourself 🙂  Nate and I have been gobbling these up the past few days, and they are so addicting.  We need to get rid of them before both of our bellies can complete with Santa’s (mine already beats Santa!).

Rolo Turtles - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Rolo Turtles - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Rolo Turtles - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife


Ingredients
40 Butter Snap Pretzels (1 large bag)
40 Rolos, wrapped (2 classic bags)
40 pecan halves

Directions
-Preheat oven to 300 degrees
-Lightly spray baking sheet with non-stick spray
-Arrange pretzels in a flat, single layer on baking sheet
-Place 1 rolo candy on top of each pretzel
-Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 4 minutes.
-Remove and gently press a pecan half onto each rolo. (Don’t press down too hard.  The candy is very soft and the pecan half will continue to sink as the candy cools)

-Let the turtles cool and harden completely before storing in an air-tight container.  But feel free to start eating them while they are still warm!

Funfetti Fudge

Adapted from:  I’m Topsy Turvy & Baked from a Box

Nate and his best friend have been gone on a week long hunting trip to Missouri all week.  Which has left me at home to fend for myself.  I wish I could say that meant I’ve been making the healthiest meal choices while the boys were away, but I can not tell a lie.  The first night, I definitely had a bowl of pecan pie ice cream with hard chocolate shell for dinner.  Pregnant and home alone (one of my favorite movies btw), so sue me 🙂

There have been quite a few cake batter fudge recipes floating around Pinterest lately, and if there is one thing I miss being able to eat, it’s cookie dough.  So giving the cake batter fudge seemed like a great way to satisfy the craving.  But, don’t worry, you do not have to be a pregnant-junk-food-fanatic to give these a try!

The fudge takes literally 2 minutes in the microwave to whip up. Oh, and the 1 minute it takes you to measure and dump the ingredients in a bowl.  I would suggest making these for a party, shower, or bringing them to work…because they are THAT easy to make and you will want to eat the whole batch!

I also bought a gingerbread cake mix to try the same recipe with, and instead of sprinkles I’ll be adding some roasted pecans.  YUM.  And then I want to try out a red velvet or a strawberry fudge.  That is the beauty of cake mix recipes, the possibilities are endless!

Funfetti Fudge - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife


Ingredients
1 box funfetti cake mix
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), cut into cubes
Sprinkles (optional)

Directions
-Add cake mix and powdered sugar to a large microwave-safe bowl and mix together.
-Add the stick of butter and pour the milk into the cake/sugar mix.
-Microwave for 2 minutes
-Stir the mixture immediately until combined
-Pour mixture into a greased (I used baking spray) 9×9 glass dish
-Sprinkle with…you guessed it!  SPRINKLES!
-Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (I let mine sit overnight).
-Cut into bite-sized pieces, share (optional), and enjoy!

Pumpkin Crisp

Krista: Hey!  I have a great idea.  Let’s have dessert first and dinner second tonight!
Nate: Wanna know how I know you’re pregnant?
Dessert first, dinner second is exactly what we did!  And man was it worth it.  I swear, this stuff is even better than pumpkin pie, and I LOVE pumpkin pie.  Do I dare say, it is EASIER to make than pumpkin pie?  And pumpkin pie is pretty darn easy to make.  
I’ve seen a similar recipe floating around potluck gatherings for years, jotted it down, and finally dug it out of my recipe box.  The originals all called for yellow cake mix, only a couple pecans, and no brown sugar.  So I thought I’d change the recipe around to make it my own and add more flavor.  It was a success!  We were on our way out the door, TO DINNER, and I saw Nate eat 4-5 bites of this!

Nate: (with mouth full) This stuff is really good! (still chewing with mouth full)
Krista: Wanna know how I know this just made it on the blog?

Pumpkin Crisp - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Pumpkin Crisp - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Pumpkin Crisp - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
This is why you should let it sit 🙂  But so you can see the pumpkin color inside!

Ingredients
1 can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
1/2 cup of almonds, chopped or slivered
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions
Preheat over to 350 degrees

Whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with no-stick baking spray.  Add pumpkin mixture to casserole dish.

Sprinkle the cake mix over the top, and then sprinkle the pecans and almonds over the top.

Drizzle the butter over the nuts evenly and sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of that.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly!

Let sit for about 5 minutes so it will come out in nice squares (I skipped this step, I just couldn’t wait!)

Serve with vanilla ice cream! Enjoy!

Lemon Crackle Cookies

Source:  Tidy Mom
 
So I’ve mentioned before that I work at a plant nursery.  My co-workers and I could be certified as plant geeks.  Surprisingly, many of them are excellent cooks and bakers!  So when it was time for the annual volunteer potluck, I got super excited because a) would have yummy food to eat b) wouldn’t have to pack my lunch that day.  For a successful potluck, everyone has to bring a dish to contribute to the feast.  And even if you can’t cook, pick up a 2 liter of soda or some napkins, but you must help out in some way.  If you don’t and you never have, you are really lame, and I’ve got news for you, everyone knows who you are!! You’re not flying under the radar like you may have thought.

Anyhoo, I decided to bring a dessert this time.  I’d seen these cookies on pinterest and thought they looked cute, so I had to see if they were also tasty.  And they are, score!  What’s great about this recipe is that is uses cake mix, which if you’ve been following my blog, you know I love me some cake mixes.  You can trade out different flavors of cake mix based on the flavor you are craving.  This time I used lemon, but would also try orange, strawberry, pineapple, and chocolate mixes.  I’m starting to think these would be delicious with 2 sandwiched together with icing in the middle!

Lemon Crackle Cookies

Lemon Crackle Cookies

Ingredients
1 box Lemon Cake Mix
1 8 oz container Cool Whip
1 egg
1/3 cup powdered sugar


Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°


In medium bowl, beat cool whip, egg and cake mix until well blended. The dough will be thick and very sticky.  If you don’t like getting your hands dirty, just stop now 🙂


Drop by teaspoonfuls (I just eyeballed mine.  I grabbed whatever felt good!) into a bowl of powdered sugar and roll around to coat.  *I found if I dusted my fingers with some powdered sugar to begin with, less of the dough would stick to my fingers and it would drop into the bowl much easier!


Line the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 – 14 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes to harden up before moving to a cookie rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy! And get creative!

Desperate Holly Dolly Bars

I don’t like coconut.  Seriously.  I’ve never really understood the shaved, dry, waxy, stringy white stuff that sometimes ruins a completely innocent cake.  The texture alone turns me off.  So why did I make a holly dolly bar?  Not sure.  But, am I glad I did!


While I haven’t been fully converted into a coconut lover, I love these holly dolly bars!  They are sweet, rich, gooey, creamy, and the coconut shavings don’t have the usual waxy texture to them.  To my surprise the coconut adds a nice texture and flavor.  And instead of making me want to run far far away from the dessert table, the coconut shavings actually pull me in and make these hard to resist!  The toffee chips are a fun ingredient and add to the sweetness and crunch, but if you can’t find them, go ahead and sub them with more chocolate (can never have enough), peanut butter chips, or ever butterscotch chips.  The possibilities are really endless.  

Being so quick and easy to throw together, these holly dolly bars are perfect for any kind of shower or potluck.
Nate isn’t home from work yet to try these, but I can almost guarantee I will have to cut him off after 10 3.  So while these haven’t been chef-approved yet…you’ll just have to trust me!
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars
Desperate Holly Dolly Bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 sleeves of graham crackers (13 crackers)
6 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heath/toffee chips
1 cup sweeten coconut shavings
1 14oz sweetened condensed milk

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×9 baking or casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Add the crackers to a large zip lock bag.  Seal the bag…very important to do this before you…beat it until you are left with nothing but graham cracker crumbs.  Use a rolling pin, a meat tenderizer, your fist, whatever! (This is also an easy and fun job for the kiddos)

Add the melted butter and sugar to the same bag of cracker crumbs.  Seal the bag.  Then mix the 3 ingredients together until combined.  It will still look crumby, you just want to disperse the sugar and butter evenly.

Dump the crumb mixture into the baking dish and pat it down into an even layer, like you would a graham cracker pie crust.  Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and sprinkle the pecans, chocolate, toffee chips, and coconut over the top.  Then drizzle the condensed milk evenly over all of that good stuff.

You may be thinking “shoot, I just drowned all the ingredients in this nasty looking white stuff!”  Don’t worry, don’t even stir it.  Just place the baking dish back into the oven for 20-25 more minutes.  Until the sides are light brown and bubbly on the edges.

Let cool on a wire wrack for 1 hour.  Then cut into squares and enjoy!

Carmelitas

Source:  Lulu the Baker

It should be illegal how good these are!  Seriously, if you ever piss someone off to the point they won’t talk to you, they would probably forgive you if you made these for them!  Nate tried them and flipped out over how yummy they were and he said the best part is the gooey filling.  One of his other chef friends came over for dinner last night, and Nate forced him to try them…(like anyone needs to be forced into eating anything with chocolate).  He bit into the carmelita like it was going to be something he’d tasted before. But his eyes instantly lit up and he said with his mouthful “Whoahhh.  These are GOOD!”  Then he stole the other half of mine and ate it.  Wtf?  Good thing I made a whole pan!

I came across this recipe on Pinterest, but you can find the recipe on LuLu the Baker’s blog.  Speaking of Pinterest, are any of your husbands or boyfriends struggling to understand the awesomest of Pinterest?  The past few days of conversations at our house have gone a little like this:

Nate:  Look at this really funny picture!
*Shows Me, and I am silent*
Me:  Oh, I’ve seen that before…like a few months ago.  Wanna know where?
Nate:  Where?
Me:  Pinterest!

Nate:  You don’t think anything I show you is funny anymore.  Your sense of humor has changed.
Me:  Oh no, I laughed my butt of the first time I saw it…on Pinterest.

Me:  Are these carmelita’s not the best thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
Nate:  Yes!  Who gave you this recipe?
Me:  PINTEREST!

Carmelitas Caramelita

Carmelitas Caramelita
Ingredients
48 werthers chewy caramels, unwrapped (2 packages)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. 

In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. 

Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes. 

Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes (mine took 25), until the edges are lightly browned. 

Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

*A stint in the fridge will help them cool off if you’re pinched for time. They shouldn’t be served cold, but all of that molten caramel takes a long time to cool down. They should be stored and served at room temperature.

**To make a 9×13″ version, simply double the amounts.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: Stephanie Cooks

Nate and I were super tired last night.  This weekend was considered very active for us, a wedding Friday night and the company Super Bowl party Sunday night.  So to say our day at work was dragging would be an understatement!  For dinner we had tortellini salad and cooked chicken, that’s it.  That was the only thing between us and plopping down on the couch for a couple episodes of Lost (if you haven’t watched this show, JUST DO IT!).

I was surfing the web and came across a recipe for cake batter cookies. My light bulb went off (in my head, not the house) because I still had a whole box of strawberry cake mix from that bark I made a few weeks ago.  So with that and the mention of chocolate, my butt hopped off the couch so fast you would’ve thought it had ants all over it or something!

Mixing the ingredients took all of 2 minutes, the longest part was waiting for the oven to preheat.  You don’t even need a mixer, just a bowl and your handy dandy hands…or spoon.  Because these are strawberry, pink, and cute, they would be perfect to make for a Valentine’s Day treat, hint hint.



Ingredients
1 (18.25 oz.) box strawberry cake mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix and baking powder. Add eggs and oil, then stir until well blended.

Stir in chocolate chips, I used leftover bags of white and dark chocolate chips.

Use a tablespoon to portion out the cookie dough balls on the cookie sheet.  (I used 2 cookie sheets)

Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 5-10 minutes.

Then move to a wire rack to cool completely.