Toffee Caramel Cream Cheese Bars

A few months ago, I decided to give Match.com a try. I’d done online dating one other time, and didn’t have much luck. But I thought I’d give it one more shot, so I signed up for a month long subscription. It actually went a lot better than the first time around. I talked to some nice guys, went on a few dates. One of the guys I talked to seemed really great at first. He was my age, cute, had a good job, and seemed genuinely interested in me. After a few days of talking online, we decided to exchange phone numbers so we could communicate more regularly. He was charming, flirty…and then it happened. I had come down with a cold, and he was asking about my favorite comfort foods. I told him I like ice cream. He asked what kind. I said anything chocolate. He asked if I liked fruit in my ice cream, to which I told him that I do like fruit, but not when it masquerades as dessert. I like to keep them separate…which is when he decided to school me on how and why I should be making my desserts healthy. Umm, what?! Who needs that kind of negativity in their life? Definitely not me. And, he thought it was outrageous that I drink Starbucks twice a week. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

Now, this dessert right here…is probably as unhealthy as it gets, but worth every delicious, creamy bite. I got the idea when my mom brought “Better Than Sex” cake for my birthday. Or, as we call it, “Better Than No Cake” cake. I subbed out the german chocolate cake for a brownie base and created a ganache/frosting to top it off. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but this dessert is my new favorite!

Toffee Caramel Cream Cheese Bars

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What I’m Listening to: “Step Out” by Jose Gonzalez

Ingredients (makes an 8×8 pan)

-1 box of brownie mix (Note: check the box to make sure it makes an 8×8 pan, not a 9×13- I used Betty Crocker Supreme Triple Chunk mix)

-1/4 cup water

-1/3 cup vegetable oil

-2 eggs

-8 oz block cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat…you know, to be healthier)

-1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

-2 heaping cups powdered sugar

-1 cup Heath toffee baking bits

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8×8 pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Pour into the pan and bake for 32-35 minutes, until the brownies have set and a fork inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the caramel ice cream topping and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat for 3-4 minutes, turning the speed to low for the last minute. Pour evenly over the brownies. Sprinkle with the Heath baking bits and place in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately or place in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

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Mexican Chip Dip

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend so far! I had my last choreography rehearsal for “The Drowsy Chaperone” today. They open in two weeks, and I could not be more excited! Usually, I’m relieved when I finish choreographing a show. I love doing it, but it’s a lot of work. But this show has been so much fun for me that I don’t want it to be over! I’m sure I’ll feel differently when I have my Friday afternoons back, but right now, it’s a little bittersweet. Anywho, if you’re in the QC the weekend of April 10, pop on over to North High School; it’s going to be a great show!

I am SO looking forward to summer! I know, I know. That’s the understatement of the year. But, I can’t wait for nice weather, barbecues, baseball games, and time with my friends and family. Anyone else with me? Everyone? That’s what I thought. It’s never too early to start planning your first summer party, so you’ve got to check out this awesome dip! It’s very light and refreshing, and a must at any barbecue. It takes two minutes to whip together, but will taste like you spent your afternoon in the kitchen.

Cooking for Beginners: Mexican Chip Dip

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Ingredients

-2 cups of plain Greek Yogurt (If you don’t have any, sour cream is fine!)

-3/4 cup of red salsa

-1 cup of Mexican or Fiesta cheese

-1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley

-1/2 tsp. onion powder

-1/2 tsp. salt

-1 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Note: Adapted from The Weary Chef

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Dip

So, it seems like One Direction is the hot topic of the week! In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days (or aren’t a fan of pop culture), Zayn, one of five guys comprising the pop group, has left the band. And everyone is talking about it! Every Buzzfeed article is mentioning it, Facebook is blowing up, and some girl started a GoFundMe to buy out One Direction’s contract, which has already raised 87.8 million dollars! (Seriously.) I played some One Direction in my dance classes this week as a good-faith gesture, and my students were almost in tears. It’s apparently that bad! I tried to compare it to when Kevin temporarily left the Backstreet Boys, but let’s face it: I don’t think Kevin was anyone’s favorite BSB member. So, the world is down one One Directioner…is this the new “day the music died?”

If it is, I’ve got a cure: this creamy, heavenly combination of chocolate and peanut butter, which, in my opinion, is better than a boy band any day! I love to serve this dip when I have company over, and I’ve made it for work a few times too. It’s always a huge hit! It’s very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Dip

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What I’m Listening to: “Show-Off” from The Drowsy Chaperone Soundtrack

Ingredients

-8 oz block of cream cheese, softened

-1 stick of butter, softened

-1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter

-1/2 cup of brown sugar

-3/4 cup of powdered sugar

-1 tsp of vanilla

-1/2 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

-An 8 oz bag of Reese’s minis

Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a mixer. Blend together until combined. Add the peanut butter, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips and Reese’s minis. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers or a spoon…I won’t judge.

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Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Dip

How is it only Thursday?! Don’t get me wrong; my week has been going really well, but I am DRAINED. And really hungry. And want nothing more than to curl up in bed with all six seasons of LOST, the biggest coffee in the world, and a box of cupcakes. (Doesn’t that sound amazing?!) I’m going to blame the weather. It’s been really gray here, aka nap weather, so even though my week has been great, I’m ready for a relaxing weekend. So. Close.

I think, by now, you’ve become very aware of my love of all things buffalo chicken. The chili, the cupcakes, the dip. My favorite dip of all time. Or, at least it was, until I made this Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Dip for the first time. This is by far the most delicious hot dip I’ve ever had. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself!

Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Dip

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What I’m Listening to: “Ghost” by Ella Henderson

Ingredients

-2 large chicken breasts

-12 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)

-1 cup of ranch dressing

-3/4 cup of barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Brown Sugar and Hickory)

-1 cup of cheddar cheese

-1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese

-1 tbsp garlic powder

-4 green onions, chopped

-Bread or chips for dipping

Place the chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Cover with water and cook on high for 2 hours. Drain the water, then shred the chicken with either an electric mixer or two forks. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook for 30-60 minutes, until the dip has melted together and is heated through. Turn the slow cooker to warm. Serve with warm bread or chips.

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Note: Adapted from The Cookie Rookie

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Grilled Cauliflower and Yellow Squash

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was FANTASTIC! I was on Spring Break last Wednesday through Friday, and my 28th birthday was on Thursday, so I spent the last five days eating good food, hanging out with wonderful people, and enjoying the beautiful spring weather. Here are a few of the highlights…well, food highlights, anyway.

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Oh My, Spaghetti Pie from Old Chicago…my birthday dinner for the last three years!

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Baked Pretzels at The Barrel House

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Firecracker Shrimp Tacos and Chips at The Barrel House

Martinis with my sisters!

I’m so bummed that my awesome weekend had to come to an end, but I’m so grateful that I got to spend it the way I did….and that I only gained 2 pounds.

With the weather being unbelievably nice the past week, I’ve been a grilling fiend. Twice in six days! My mom and dad used to always grill potatoes with butter and onions, so I decided to try cauliflower and yellow squash to see if it’d be as good. It was. It REALLY was.

Grilled Cauliflower and Yellow Squash

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What I’m Listening to: the new episode of “Once Upon a Time”

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

-1 medium yellow squash, sliced (I cut the big pieces in halves or quarters)

-1 head cauliflower, stems removed and cut into small pieces

-1/4 yellow onion, diced

-3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

-Salt and pepper

-3 large pieces of aluminum foil

Wash and cut up all the vegetables. Lay two pieces of the foil on top of each other. Scoop the veggies into the center of the foil. Drop the butter chunks evenly over the vegetables; season generously with salt and pepper. Fold the foil into a pouch, using the third piece to secure any open spots. Flatten the pouch into a disc.

Cook on a hot charcoal grill for 30-40 minutes, turning every 5-7 minutes. Serve with brats or hot dogs.

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Fajita-Style Bratwursts with Chipotle Mayo

Happy Hump Day! Since it’s my Spring Break this week and my birthday is tomorrow, I thought I’d do a bonus post!  Yes, this lady is going to be 28 tomorrow. I’m excited to have the day off from work, although I don’t have a lot planned. I do want to sleep in, before getting a massage and having dinner with my friends. But that’s it. My family is coming to visit over the weekend, so I’m pretty excited about that too! My biggest concern right now is my birthday dessert. I can’t decide what I should make…any suggestions?

I get asked sometimes where I come up with my recipes. To be honest, I take a lot of inspiration from the people in my life, or from other bloggers I follow. I also spend a ton of time experimenting in my kitchen. But sometimes, I’m making my grocery list and I think to myself, “hey, I should try brats with fajita veggies” and thus, a new recipe is born. That’s what happened with this one. You’re welcome.

Fajita-Style Bratwursts with Chipotle Mayo

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What I’m Listening to: “How I Met Your Mother” season 7

Ingredients (makes 2 bratwursts)

-2 bratwursts of your choice

-2 brat buns

-1/4 onion, sliced

-1/4 red pepper, sliced

-1/4 yellow pepper, sliced

-2 tsp vegetable oil

-1/8 tsp oregano

-1/8 tsp chili powder

-1/2 cup mayo

-1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

Place the mayo and 1/2 chipotle pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend well. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

While you cook the brats (I grilled mine, but you can boil them too!), place the vegetable oil in a small skillet. Heat over medium-low heat until warm. Add the peppers and onion; stir to coat. Sprinkle the oregano and chili powder over the vegetables and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until hot and crisp. Remove the pan from the heat.

Put the cooked bratwursts in buns, topping with the vegetables. Drizzle the chipotle mayo over the top. Serve hot, with a side of vegetables.

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8 Recipes to Get You Out of Your Cooking Rut

Hey friends! I apologize for disappearing on you all. It has been one of those weeks…not bad, just busy, busy, busy. So busy, that I forgot to make the meals I was planning on posting, with the exception of one, which turned out BADLY. We’ve all been there. Anyway, I’ll be back in the kitchen tomorrow and will have lots of new, fun recipes to share with you soon. In the mean time, I thought I’d share some recipes with you that I absolutely love, to keep you inspired this week! When I’m not creating new recipes myself, I am constantly seeking out recipes from every blogger under the sun. Below are some of my personal favorites. Check them out, and let them know that Steph from “Table for One” sent you!

1. Ham and Cheese Gnocchi from Kevin and Amanda

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This recipe has everything: gnocchi, cheese, ham, cheese, cheese…so naturally, I love it! It’s incredibly easy to make, and doesn’t make a mess of your kitchen, since you make the whole recipe in one pan. It’s great for chilly nights in, and, even though I hate leftovers, I definitely didn’t mind eating this the next day.  (Side note: I have loved everything I’ve tried from Kevin and Amanda…so you should check out all their recipes while you’re there!)

2. Honey Sesame Chicken from Grumpy’s Honeybunch

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If you like sesame chicken, you HAVE to try this recipe! This is my go-to when I am craving Chinese take-out, and it always comes out delicious. The recipe does take a bit of time, but it is absolutely worth it! This is a popular request from my friends and family. (It makes a bit more than one person needs, so I usually use a little less chicken, if I’m making it just for me.)

3. Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches from The Girl Who Ate Everything

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I love making crockpot sandwiches on a Sunday, so I can take them for lunch all week! This recipe is a regular in my rotation. The chicken is so flavorful, and, even though I hate the word “moist,” the sandwiches are very moist. (Uggggggggh, hate that word!) You need these in your life.

4. Potato Chip Chilaquiles from Big Girls Small Kitchen

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I love this recipe because I almost always have all the ingredients on hand. It’s cheap, fast to make, and so, SO good! Plus, I get my Mexican fix without an obscene amount of leftovers.

5. Crockpot Sweet BBQ Sloppy Joe Casserole from Crockpot Gourmet

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Are you drooling yet? You should be. Sloppy Joes topped with cheesy hashbrowns. That’s all I’m going to say. Oh, and click on the recipe link right now.

6. Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta from Budget Savvy Diva

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip meets pasta and cheese. It’s a unique twist on baked pasta, and sure to spice up your weeknight dinners! It makes much more than a single person would need, so I’d recommend either cutting the recipe in half or sharing with friends. But, don’t let that turn you off. This pasta is amazing!

7. Quinoa Fried Rice from Cooking for Keeps

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This. This. THIS. I am in love; I don’t think I’ll ever need to make fried rice again. This recipe is so fast, and so satisfying! Plus. it pairs fantastically with the sesame chicken above!

8. Lazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole

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I kid you not, I used to make this casserole every single week. At some point, I told myself I had to be fair to my other recipes, and try some other things, but my heart still has a special spot for this one. This has all the flavor of an enchilada with half the work. What could be better than that?

Thanks for checking out some of my favorite recipes! What are your personal favorites? Do you have any bloggers that you love? Let me know in the comments below!

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