Millionaire Bars (with a Little Cheat) #Choctoberfest

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Millionaire Bars

Shortbread that’s crumbly and caramel that oozes … chocolate and crunch and when I eat it makes me snoozes …

OK, nice try.

But these are a few of my favorite things.

I am a big-time caramel lover. Toffee. Butterscotch. Basically any form of caramelized sugar will do. (I almost forgot this peanut butter pie where the filling is peanut butter caramel. OOOOOOH so good.)

I am a big fan of buttery shortbread, too, so when I first saw these bars in the Baked cookbook, they really spoke to me. I have made them exactly as written in Baked once. But after I realized I was basically making dulce de leche for the filling … well, this time I fully intended to buy dulce de leche in a jar.

But then we were away for some of fall break, and yesterday I was at home with three kids and realized I would have to take all of them to the grocery store if I wanted that to happen. My kids are 6, 4, and 2, and I won’t say taking them all somewhere is a nightmare … but anywhere three kids can ask me to buy stuff for them constantly while I try to focus on shopping tends to be a disaster.

But I did have a really old bag of Kraft Caramel Bits in the cupboard. So voila – totally cheater caramel filling! Use whatever caramel or dulce de leche you love for the filling; I won’t tell anyone. It all tastes good.

Millionaire Shortbread

This post is my third in a series for #Choctoberfest with Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar provided me with a case of sugar to bake with, but I have received no other compensation for this series.

Millionaire Bars

Yield: about 20 bars

Millionaire Bars

This is very lightly adapted from the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook.

Ingredients

    Shortbread
  • 1/2 c. Imperial Sugar granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Caramel
  • one 10 oz. bag Kraft caramel bits, or dulce de leche or other caramel sauce
  • 2 T water or cream
  • Chocolate Layer
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate - I used a 3.5 oz bar very dark (85%) Lindt Excellence chocolate and 2.5 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 c. butter, cut into cubes

Instructions

Shortbread

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13 pan (you can use your butter wrappers).

Cream together sugar and softened butter. Add 2 cups flour and beat until well incorporated. Add egg yolk and beat until just combined. With a wooden spoon, add additional 1/2 cup flour and mix well. Press into the baking dish and then prick all over with a fork.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until brown around the edges. Let cool completely in pan.

Caramel

Place caramels and water or cream in a large measuring cup. Melt in the microwave for 2 minutes, then stir rapidly until uniform. Pour over cooled shortbread, spreading with a spatula. Refrigerate until cooled and hardened. (With these caramels, it doesn't take long - about half an hour. Homemade dulce de leche or caramel sauce may take 2 hours to set up and cool.)

Chocolate Layer

Add chocolate, honey, and butter to a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, and microwave on high 1 minute. Stir, and cook an additional 30 seconds. Whisk together with a fork until completely melted and smooth. Pour over caramel layer and spread with a thin spatula.

Refrigerate dish at least 1 hour, until the chocolate sets.

To Serve

VERY important: Remove the dish from the fridge half an hour before you want to cut the bars. This will make sure the chocolate doesn't crack and the shortbread is soft enough to come out of the pan.

Use a sharp, non-serrated knife to cut into small squares. Serve. Store extras in fridge for up to 4 days, covered.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/millionaire-bars-with-a-little-cheat-choctoberfest/

Don’t forget to enter the $350 Chocolate giveaway!!

 Loading InLinkz ...

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies PLUS a Giveaway for #Choctoberfest

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Choctoberfest-2015-1

Guess what today is? It’s October 5 … and that marks the beginning of #Choctoberfest! I have never participated in something like this before, but I thought it would push me to share a few recipes. It has been super fun to prepare for, and I am excited to peruse all the CHOCOLATE. I will probably gain 10 pounds just looking at my computer screen.

#Choctoberfest is a virtual event put together by The PinterTest Kitchen. Bloggers from around the world will be posting their favorite chocolate recipes, and you’ll get a chance to win some awesome prizes. What’s not to love?

Here’s what this event is all about!

#Choctoberfest would not be possible without our sponsors, starting with our 2015 Gold Sponsor, Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar has been a trusted name in family kitchens since 1843. Their sugar products and sweeteners are made from non-GMO cane sugar and ensure consistently delicious results. We’ll be using Imperial Sugar whenever we use sugar in our recipes this week, and can’t wait to share the sweetness with you!

You can find Imperial Sugar on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Make sure you visit the recipes section of their website for some sweet inspiration, and you can also find coupons on their website if you want to try out Imperial Sugar yourself.

Imperial Sugar and our other sponsors have banded together to contribute some awesome prizes for our #Choctoberfest giveaway! Entering is simple – just click below to follow us on Pinterest. Here’s what you could win:

We also have a nonprofit sponsor this year – Rescue Chocolate! They make vegan chocolate treats and donate 100% of their proceeds to animal shelters.

Enter now to win the #Choctoberfest prize. Hurry, because we’re picking the winner on October 12 at 8:00 AM, so if you don’t sign up before then, you’ll miss your chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to all of the other blogs participating in #Choctoberfest 2015. Check out their blogs throughout the week for chocolate recipes you won’t be able to resist: The PinterTest Kitchen2 Cookin’ MamasA Day in the Life on the FarmAloha FlavorAmy’s Cooking AdventuresAngels HomesteadBalancing MotherhoodBless this MessBusy-at-HomeChocolate SlopesCoconut & LimeColie’s KitchenCookaholic WifeCooking In StilettosCooking With LibbyCookistryCopyKat RecipesCravings of a LunaticCrumbs in my MustachioCulinary CoutureCupcakes Take The CakeDeliciously SavvyEat It & Say YumFairyburgerFamished Fish, Finicky SharkFarm Fresh FeastsFood Hunter’s Guide to CuisineFull Belly SistersGet Off The Couch and CookGrumpy’s HoneybunchHey What’s for Dinner Mom?Honey and BirchI Can Cook ThatJane’s Adventures in DinnerJessie WeaverLife on Food Life, Love, and Good FoodMajorly DeliciousMoore or Less Cooking Food BlogMother Would KnowOr Whatever You DoPoet in the PantryRecipes Food and CookingRhubarb and HoneySassy Southern YankeeSavory TartSeduction in The KitchenSerena LissySumptuous SpoonfulsTake Two TapasThat Skinny Chick Can BakeThatsSoYummyThe Chonchudo FilesThe Crumby CupcakeThe Dinner-MomThe Saucy SouthernerThe Spiced LifeThe Spiffy CookieThe Two Bite ClubThe Weekday GourmetVintage KittyWendy PolisiWhat A Girl EatsWhitBit’s Indian KitchenWit Wisdom & FoodZesty South Indian Kitchen

Are you a blogger who is interested in joining us during out next community event?

Sign up here now!

We’ll make sure you get an email about our next blogger event.

Now, onto this first yummylicious chocolate recipe. {BTW, I received a case of Imperial Sugar to bake with for #Choctoberfest. How fun is that? Much more fun than my husband thought it was to lug 40 pounds of sugar from our mail room down to our apartment.}

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

These cookies are looking ahead to the holidays. I love to try out new cookie recipes around Christmas, and crinkle cookies have become some of my favorites. I will whip out the from-a-box-mix red velvet crinkles when I need something simple, but these chocolate-peppermint ones are great for a special dinner or cookie swap. Yes, they are slightly more time-intensive, but well worth the effort. When I made this batch, I played around with it a little. I got the highest compliment from my husband’s department chair, who said she was going to put these in her Christmas baking repertoire!

I made them a little more “Jessie” just by switching out corn syrup for honey and canola oil for coconut oil. Not that it makes them healthy – but I just prefer to use those more natural ingredients when possible. Plus they are what I always have on hand. You can substitute equal amounts of those original ingredients if you want.

Imperial Sugar #Choctoberfest

As I baked, I loved wondering if my grandmothers or great-grandmothers used Imperial Sugar, too, since it’s been around so long. My research says probably not, because they were in Ohio and not the Southeast … but who knows? Given that I also took my (wonderful, wonderful) measuring cups from my Grandma’s kitchen, I felt very connected to her as I was cookie-making!

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Enjoy! Let me know if you make these.

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

These little tastes of Christmas are adapted from Bakers Royale.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 2 1/2 c. Imperial granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract or 8-10 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 1 c. powdered sugar and 1/4 cup granulated Imperial sugar, for rolling

Instructions

Melt butter in the microwave and set aside to cool. Melt chocolate for 1 minute in microwave, then an additional 30 seconds, stirring each time. It should be able to be stirred smooth, but if not, another 30 seconds should do it.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat together sugar, oil, butter, and honey until smooth. Beat in eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and peppermint extract or oil. On low speed, add the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Add flour mixture and mix on low until incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 or 350 (see baking note below). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Form the dough into golf-ball sized balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar, then the powdered sugar. Place balls on cookie sheet and press down slightly just so they don't roll around on the sheet.

Baking: I baked these two ways - for 12 minutes at 325, which gave an almost fudge-like cookie (but it has to cool entirely on the cookie sheet, because they will just melt over a cooling rack) and then at 350 for 15 minutes, which gives you a firmer, crispier cookie. Cookies will deflate when you remove them from the oven, giving them the crinkle texture.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/10/chocolate-peppermint-crinkle-cookies-plus-a-giveaway-for-choctoberfest/

 Loading InLinkz ...

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken {Secret Recipe Club}

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

It’s another beautiful month of the Secret Recipe Club, y’all! You know what? I have been participating in the club for over four years now, with only a couple months off here and there. And it’s truly still enjoyable for me. I love getting to peruse new-to-me foodie blogs.

I think people probably get confused when they’re assigned my blog, since I’m not a *real* food blog. But I am glad they allow me to participate, and it makes sure I cook something new at least once a month!

This month I was assigned to A Spoonful of Thyme. Kathy has been blogging since 2009 about good food, memories, her children, and more. I really enjoyed perusing her gigantic recipe index, and finally got so overwhelmed that I let my husband pick the recipe for this month. He really liked the look of the Southwestern Stuffed Peppers, but determined that our kids wouldn’t touch them, sadly. (Stinkers.) So instead he decided on Lemon Chicken, Asian-Style.

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

I would never order this in a Chinese restaurant, even though I’ve seen it on the menu, because it doesn’t seem authentically Chinese to me. I didn’t see much fried when I was in China in 2002. But maybe I’m wrong? Either way, whatever the inspiration is, the sauce is nice and tangy and I enjoyed this dish!

I modified to shallow-fry the chicken, although I think deep-frying like Kathy did gives it a better crust. I just don’t have a lot of deep frying skills and I try not to use the typical frying oils (like vegetable or canola). I shallow-fried the chicken in a combo of palm shortening and grapeseed oil, but you can do what you want!

We all thoroughly enjoyed this chicken and sauce over jasmine rice and accompanied by roasted broccoli, which I jazzed up by drizzling the florets with sesame oil as well as olive, adding to the Asian flair. Sesame seeds sprinkled on it all would be good, too!

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

Yield: about 6 servings

Asian-Inspired Lemon Chicken

Adapted from A Spoonful of Thyme

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs. thin chicken cutlets
  • oil for frying
  • for the batter
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • about 1 1/3 c. club soda
  • for the sauce
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tsp. finely minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 T honey (start with 2)
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch stirred into 2 T cold water

Instructions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. It is ready to go when you put the end of a wooden spoon in it and bubbles form around the spoon. (Or 375-400 degrees.)

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper. In a measuring cup, beat egg, then stir in club soda. Add enough club soda mixture that the batter is a little more runny than pancake batter. For me this took about 1 1/3 cups.

Dip chicken cutlets in the batter, letting extra drip off. Deep-fry, or shallow-fry about 5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. Place a cooling rack on a jelly-roll pan, and put cooked cutlets on the rack in a 300F oven to warm while you finish cooking the chicken and sauce.

For the sauce, bring all ingredients except cornstarch to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce by half (to about 1 cup of liquid). Add cornstarch slurry to boiling liquid and cook a few more minutes, until thickened.

To serve, drizzle sauce over chicken pieces. Sprinkle with chopped scallions if desired.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2015/08/asian-inspired-lemon-chicken-secret-recipe-club/

Giant Brown Butter Granola Breakfast Cookies

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Don’t you love happy accidents in the kitchen?

I put two sticks of butter in a saucepan the other night to melt for Heavenly Homemaker’s Giant Breakfast Cookies. Then I got involved in putting a child to bed and when I came back, the top of the butter was slightly crystallized. And it smelled PHENOMENAL.

I’ve seen recipes made with brown butter, of course, but I never “got it” until the fragrance of that butter was wafting through my galley kitchen. I knew it was going to make the cookies awesome.

So I started assembling just to discover that not only did I have some very brown butter, I also had no oats. None. Nada.

Not one to be discouraged, I came up with this crazy concoction of granola, more flour, and oat bran to replace the oats. It worked. I love the extra pizzazz the granola adds to these, but you can replace it with old-fashioned oats if you’d like.

Giant Brown Butter Granola Breakfast Cookies

Yield: about 21 cookies

Browning the butter is worth the time for a wonderful, developed flavor in these cookies. The whole wheat flour, oat bran, and oats will hold you over until lunchtime, and kids love having a cookie for breakfast!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. granola (Any kind; I make Crystal's Lazy Granola with raisins.)
  • 1/4 c. oat bran (optional)
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Over low heat, melt butter in a saucepan until it is caramel color and smells nutty. This may take 15 minutes+.

In a large bowl, stir together butter, honey, buttermilk, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla, and buttermilk until well-combined. Add slightly beaten eggs.

Add flour, granola, and oat bran to mixture; stir well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Use an ice cream scoop or large cookie scoop to form cookies; place on greased baking sheets or ones lined with silpats or parchment paper.

Bake about 18 minutes. Let cool on trays 3-4 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2012/06/giant-brown-butter-granola-breakfast-cookies/

Should we take a vote on whether these qualify as breakfast food or not?

 Added to Sweet Tooth Friday at Alli-n-Son

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread: It Can Be Done!!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

A few weeks ago, I pulled a cookbook off my shelf, searching for a bread recipe. I’ve been baking up bread at least once a week to feed my kiddos and the bachelor who lives downstairs.

I love bread-baking, in case I haven’t mentioned that a time or twenty. I love the smell of the yeast, the ingredients learning to cling together. The rising dough. A soft, brown crust.

I’ve mostly been making white bread lately, with a cup or two of whole-wheat flour thrown in. Even though it makes me cringe, it’s just so much easier than fussing with whole-wheat bread. The whole-wheat recipe I’d fallen back on time and time again required soaking of grains, 10-20 minutes with my mixer, and a bread that tasted like honey to me. (I’m just not a huge fan of most honeys, and although I use it I don’t want the taste to be overwhelming.)

So anyway, I made a recipe for simple bread loaves from Food That Says Welcome, a great little paperback cookbook from Barbara Smith—Michael W. Smith’s mom! It was the puffiest, softest bread I’d ever made. I lovingly called it “pillow bread” and gave the recipe a big star. But … I wanted to make it a whole-wheat bread, since white flour has basically no nutritional value.

I’ve decided the key to this puffy bread is triple rising. Yep, you heard me. Yes, that adds additional time to bread-baking, which is already a lengthy process. But it’s totally worth it. And, as this recipe shows, it can even make 100% whole wheat bread soft and puffy. I’ve NEVER had a 100% whole wheat bread that wasn’t dense.

So, whole foodies, your problems are solved. Make this bread. Listen to the rave reviews. Smile because you know the secret. And if you’re feeling generous, share the recipe.

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread Loaves

Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread Loaves

Ingredients

  • 5 tsp. or 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 c. warm water, divided
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 1 T salt
  • 6 c. white whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur White Whole Wheat)

Instructions

This recipe can be made either in a stand mixer with dough hooks or mixed by hand. Because there is not a lot of kneading, it’s not too bad to do by hand.

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over it. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat. Add honey and sugar and stir together. Let cool slightly – it’s OK if it’s warm, but not hot.

Add butter mixture, salt, and remaining 2 cups water to the yeast and water in the bowl and stir well to combine.

One cup at a time, add in flour and stir until it’s combined. When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until all the flour is worked into the dough. [Or, use speed 2 on your mixer with dough hooks.]

Cover bowl with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and then let rise again, about another 45 minutes to an hour.

Separate dough into two equal balls. Press each ball into a rectangle with floured hands, roll up lengthwise, and then tuck ends under. Place loaves in greased loaf pans.

Cover pans and let rise again 30 minutes, until dough is to the top of the pans.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until loaves are golden brown and sound a little hollow when you tap on them. Let loaves cool completely before slicing and serving.

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2012/04/fluffy-100-whole-wheat-bread-it-can-be-done/

Honey Parmesan Pork Roast in the Crockpot

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

It’s week 3 of the “Good and Good for You” pork challenge here at Vanderbilt Wife. I have been so thrilled by this challenge: we’ve found some great new recipes, had friends over each Thursday night, and may have established a new weekly tradition!

I all but command you to make one of these fiesty dishes for your honey for Valentine’s on Tuesday night. Neither takes a ton of time, but these two pork dishes are so tasty.

IMG_0480

These Indian kebabs I made from PorkBeInspired.com are fragrant and the spice rub is simple to make yet delightfully complex. You blend garlic, salt, herbs, lemon juice, olive oil, and water in a food processor (I used a mini chopper) and let the pork cubes marinate in the mixture for a few hours. Then thread the pork, sweet bell peppers, and sweet onions on skewers and grill for a short while. Delicious.

I served the skewers over couscous and with a Pineapple Raita. Raita is a traditional Indian yogurt dipping sauce. Mine is not super-traditional, I imagine, but I went with what I had and it turned out wonderfully. I’ll be sharing that recipe later this week.

IMG_0485

The cut of meat that is on sale this week at Publix is bone-in sirloin roast. I have to say that for the skewers, that’s probably not the best choice. Get a boneless roast or a tenderloin; much easier to cut up!

But since I had a roast, and I love pork roast, I felt like I needed to make, well, a ROAST! But of course, I wanted something special. I had seen Honey Parmesan Roast on Pinterest and it looked like it had that “je ne sais quois” factor.

A few of my taste-testers went gaga over the amazing “gravy” that’s on this roast. You might want to just drink it instead of bothering with the meat. And you know what? Go for it.

Our Honey Parmesan Roast was served alongside mashed potatoes and asparagus with bacon and goat cheese. (Thanks, Leslie!)

IMG_0479

Honey Parmesan Pork Roast in the Crockpot

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Honey Parmesan Pork Roast in the Crockpot

Adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff and It’s a Keeper.

Thickening the gravy is optional, but you'll probably want the extra sauce to pour on some mashed potatoes or rice.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs. bone-in sirloin pork roast
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese (preferably real!)
  • 3 T soy sauce (LaChoy is gluten-free)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1/4 c. cold water

Instructions

Place roast in slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix together honey, cheese, soy sauce, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Pour sauce over roast.

Cook on low for 7-9 hours, until the roast is falling off the bone. Use tongs to remove pork to a serving dish.

Carefully pour the sauce into a saucepan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk together cold water and cornstarch and pour into sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to gravy consistency. Pour over roast and serve. Serve any extra gravy on the side. (Great over mashed potatoes!)

http://www.jessieweaver.net/2012/02/honey-parmesan-pork-roast-in-the-crockpot/

[GIVEAWAY OVER] So, hey! At the end of this four-week series, I am giving away a great package including coupons for $40 of fresh pork, a meat thermometer, a reusable bag, a pedometer, and a nice reusable water bottle. To enter, comment on any post in the series. You can comment once on each one, and then you’ll have four entries! I will choose a winner after the fourth post goes live around February 17.

Just leave a comment answering this question: which roast recipe from the Pork Be Inspired site looks good to you? I think I’d like to try Italian Porketta and Sassy Salsa Pork Loin.

Thank you to the Pork Board and theMotherhood for sponsoring this series of posts. I received coupons, a gift card, and a stipend for my time and groceries, but all opinions are my own.

Added to Ingredient Spotlight at Eat at Home.