Recipe Remixes: Cream Cheese Brownie Cookies & Homemade Pizza

One of my favorite creative challenges is looking at what we have on hand in the kitchen and creating a recipe or meal plan for the week trying to use up as much of what we already have as possible. Is it just me or does using up all of something before it goes bad thrill you too? #nerdalert

This gets especially fun when you have unusual ingredients around, which happens a lot more now that we’re trying new recipes every month! I recently put a spin on two of our old standby recipes (one savory, one sweet) to use up what we had lying around, and the results were so delicious I had to share here, too.

First up…

Goat cheese & prosciutto mushroom pizza 

The last time we made homemade pizza we used ingredients from one of our new recipes, and this time we did the same thing! All I had to buy to make this was pizza crust, prosciutto, and mushrooms. Starting with a Pillsbury crust, I added:

  • olive oil (from our prosciutto wrapped stuffed chicken)
  • mozzarella cheese (leftover from our sausage pasta bake we had earlier in the week)
  • goat cheese (from our prosciutto wrapped stuffed chicken)
  • diced prosciutto
  • chopped mushrooms
  • diced onions (on hand)
  • spinach (on hand)
  • …and more cheese

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All of it goes into the oven for a little bit and voila!

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Nathan and I both LOVED this flavor combination, and pizza was the perfect thing to have on hand for him to take for lunches/dinners when he was on call for CCU. He said, “This is better than most pizza I would order at a restaurant!” I’ll take that as a win, especially on the heels of Lampo 🙂

For something sweet…

Reese’s Pieces Cream Cheese Brownie Cookies

I hadn’t made this recipe in forever, but when we found ourselves with some cream cheese leftover from our prosciutto wrapped stuffed chicken and a box of brownie mix in the pantry (which is a staple for us for emergency chocolate craving situations), it came to mind and I knew just the twist I wanted to put on it: Reese’s Pieces! I don’t know how random candy ends up in our pantry or where it comes from all the time, but I am more than happy to put it to good use in recipes like this. Really…mixing Reese’s with brownie batter into cookies…these are the rare moments when I feel like a genius.

Usually the drawback to this recipe is dragging out my heavy Kitchenaid mixer, BUT in our new apartment it is not a hassle at all because it has a permanent spot on our counter! I seriously love the way we’ve organized our kitchen (and how big it is). All my baking stuff in one area, pots and pans in another, etc…I think I threw this recipe together in <5 minutes because everything is conveniently right where I need it. All the storage and counter space has been a game changer when it comes to cooking/baking for me in general. It is so much easier and enjoyable for me now than it used to be!

Anyhow…the only thing I needed to buy for this recipe was…NOTHING! So, into the mixer went:

  • 1 stick butter (room temperature – KEY!)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, also room temperature (leftover from prosciutto wrapped stuffed chicken)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 box of brownie mix (Ghiradelli triple chocolate FTW)
  • 1 box of Reese’s Pieces

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I always have to take this action shot to show you just how incredibly LUSCIOUS this dough is. If it were a Dairy Queen blizzard, you could definitely hold it upside down without it spilling out (anyone else remember those days??).

Give it some color…

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Plop it on parchment paper – also key!! It is a gooey mess otherwise.

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BAM – 11 minutes later, the kitchen smells like heaven and you have this chocolatey masterREESEpiece waiting for you…(see what I did there)

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Side note: Am I the only one who never gets even CLOSE to the number of cookies a recipe says it’ll make? Or do I just make gigantic portions? This supposedly makes 24 cookies but I got 19. And no, before you ask, I did NOT eat all the dough…just some of it, for quality testing purposes only. Ahem. 

Additional highlights of this recipe include 1 bowl and 1 pan to clean up after (because duh…you lick the spoon clean yourself).

I love when my creative side finds an outlet in the kitchen – fixes my craving for a creative challenge and delicious food in one fell swoop!

What are your favorite pizza topping combinations? What candy should I mix into these cookies next time? And seriously…do you EVER get 24 cookies from a recipe or am I the only one?

Currently: March 2017 and Oreo Cake Balls Recipe

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since I last posted a “Currently” update, but now seems like as good a time as any to recap what we’ve been up to lately. Better late than never, right? Enjoy!

Currently reading: 

my antonia

My Antonia by Willa Cather. It’s my second time reading the book and I am intent on savoring it this time around vs. rushing through it like I did in college.

Currently watching:

Trevor Noah’s Netflix special “Afraid of the Dark.” We first found Trevor Noah during the presidential campaign season when he had funny (but poignant) bits about the candidates. His standup on Netflix was more of the same – hilarious but genius commentary on current events/the world/history/humanity/etc. Highly recommend – he’s extremely talented!

Currently eating:

Birthday/match week treats for Nathan! We had a fun Saturday afternoon date whipping up chocolate dipped coconut macaroons (which are becoming a birthday tradition for him) and Oreo cake balls (recipe below).

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Coconut macaroons! Possibly our best batch yet.
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Oreo cake balls & a few PB Ritz sandwich crackers to use up the leftover white chocolate.

OREO CAKE BALLS

Ingredients:

  • 25-40 Oreos (we just used what we had on hand which was ~25 Oreos)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 12 oz. chocolate bark (I used white chocolate and semi-sweet)

Directions:

  1. Crumble the Oreos (this would be a fun job for a kid!).
  2. Add Oreo crumbles and cream cheese to electric mixer.
  3. Mix until well blended.
  4. Shape into ~1-inch balls.
  5. Refrigerate for one hour.
  6. Melt chocolate bark.
  7. Dip balls in chocolate.
  8. Refrigerate to harden.
  9. Serve!

Currently listening:

A variety of podcasts, thanks to my New Year’s resolution. Some recent favorites are How I Built This and Side Hustle.

Currently wearing:

Winter clothes, since, you know, it’s still freezing and snowing here and everything 🙂

Currently laughing at:

The One America sign downtown. They post a new joke every week and I find them perfectly cheesy and hilarious. A couple of their latest jokes:

“Mountains are not just funny. They are hill areas.”

“Dogs cannot run an MRI but catscan.”

Currently loving: 

The new hair products I won from my hairstylist in a giveaway on Facebook: Sebastian Thickey Foam and Sebastian Potion 9 Lite. I normally never use any product in my hair (besides shampoo and conditioner) and I’ve been really impressed by the difference they make! I might even start buying them once the free samples run out… maybe 🙂

What are some of your current favorites? 

Dessert Recipe: Coconut Macaroons

Almost a year ago, I tried coconut macaroons for the first time. An amazing cook in our Life Group made them for dessert one time, and I was instantly hooked. I’m a huge coconut fan, and the chewiness reminded me a bit of another love – Samoa Girl Scout cookies. I think I ate more than my fair share that night, and I’ve had a hankering for them ever since.

It was only a matter of time before I gave in to this craving, and on a snowy Saturday, I finally decided to make them myself. Now I only wish I’d tried it sooner – they were easy, and just as delicious as I remember!

It doesn’t get any simpler when it comes to ingredients. We already had a bag of coconut on hand, and my mom made us homemade vanilla for Christmas. This was the first time I’ve used it – I’m sure it gave it that special something! All we had to buy was a can of condensed milk and egg whites, and we were all set.

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Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 2 egg whites (6 tbsp)
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  3. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
  4. Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper.2016-01-23 16.10.45
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.

Recipe source here. 

Now – moment of honesty: I didn’t totally read the directions before I began, so I didn’t do the whole “whip the egg whites into little peaks and carefully fold them in” thing. I dumped everything in a bowl and stirred. Oops! I wasn’t sure how that would affect them, but in the end, Nathan and I both agreed they were just as delicious!

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I ended up baking them for 23 minutes, and while they weren’t as picture perfect as the ones I’d had before, I was pleased with the turnout.

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We let them cool for about 15 minutes before we couldn’t resist any longer and dove in. They made for a perfect mid-afternoon treat. For some reason I felt very British, having a little afternoon tea and sweet. 🙂 I’ve been nostalgic about London lately so that may have something to do with it…

This was a fun way to ease back into some adventures in the kitchen. We have a couple new dinner recipes to try this week too, and if they turn out half as well as these coconut macaroons do, then we’ll be living the good life!

Now the only question is: to share or not to share? I originally made these for a dinner with friends we have Tuesday, but now I’m not so sure they’ll make it that long! 🙂

Dessert Recipe: Rhubarb Crisp (an Early Father’s Day Treat!)

I was spoiled this year and got to celebrate Father’s Day one-on-one with my dad a whole two days early! We had talked about doing a bike ride together on the Monon Trail for awhile, and we decided Father’s Day weekend was the perfect excuse to finally make it happen. Even though our biking plans got rained out, we had an awesome time visiting together and enjoying some lunch before he headed back home.

When it comes to getting gifts for my dad, he and I are a lot alike in that we don’t just want extra stuff sitting around that we won’t use. I also enjoy giving homemade gifts, or in this case, homebaked.

Growing up, my dad’s mom would always make him rhubarb desserts during the year. I guess they had a lot of rhubarb in South Dakota? Either way, it’s not something that’s common, and I took advantage of Father’s Day to experiment with this new-to-me ingredient with a new dessert recipe that I was sure he would appreciate!

The recipe couldn’t have been easier. Check it out!

Rhubarb Crisp 
Recipe found here.

Ingredients

For the base –

  • 4 cups rhubarb, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

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    Isn’t rhubarb so pretty? I love the red!

For the topping –

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

*After reading reviews, it sounds like you could easily double the rhubarb and half the sugar in this recipe if you find that these amounts are too sweet for you.

Directions: 

  1. Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour and cinnamon and put into 8″ x 8″ x 2″ glass baking dish. (I used tin foil so I could send it home with him after his visit!) 2015-06-17 20.04.53
  2. Combine flour, brown sugar, rolled oats and melted butter and sprinkle streusel over rhubarb mixture.2015-06-17 20.04.492015-06-17 20.06.45
  3. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.2015-06-17 20.45.08

Voila! How easy is that? If it weren’t for chopping the rhubarb, this recipe would take 10 minutes maximum to prep – totally my style, especially in the summertime when there are much better places to be than stuck in the kitchen.

I told Nathan as we were making it that this would be such an easy recipe to adapt for other crumbles. I’m thinking next time I’ll throw some raspberries and blueberries into the mix. We ended up having some of the crumble topping leftover, so I’ll have to find something yummy to use that for too!

What desserts remind you of childhood? What’s your favorite summertime sweet? For me, milkshakes by the pool make me think of summer. My mom made the BEST milkshakes for our swimming snack breaks 🙂 Always hit the spot!

Dessert Recipe: Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treat

This recipe was too fun and too easy not to share. How many excuses do you get to buy sugary colorful cereal to cook with?! I saw this recipe last week and knew I had to try it for St. Patrick’s Day. Luckily, it was just as simple and delicious as I thought it would be. I think it’ll be a new tradition around here 🙂2015-03-16 17.40.42

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 8 cups mini marshmallows
  • 10 cups Lucky Charms cereal

Directions:

  1. Grease 9X13-inch pan. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted.
  3. Reduce heat and add cereal.
  4. Stir together and then transfer to prepared pan. Let it sit for about an hour before cutting into pieces.2015-03-16 17.40.26

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Hope everyone had a great St. Patrick’s Day! We certainly had a tasty one 😉