Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Banana Split Float and Introducing... Hubby's Kitchen Endeavors!

Welcome to a new section of my blog devoted to the men in our lives. It's called Man Made! (yes cheesy, I know) It's a compilation of the food and drinks that are made by hubby, with or without assistance. This usually consists of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), all things grill related, and any form of cooking involving a giant flame. Hubby himself will be sharing his new concoctions with you whenever he gets a moment in the kitchen to experiment! I'm so proud of hubby and his culinary skills considering when we met in college, he could barely handle making mac and cheese from the box, and he lived off hamburger helper and various "processed, pre-made food". Since then he has mastered much more and introduced real home cooking into his repertoire. Hope you enjoy this new little segment! (Man Made recipes unless otherwise noted are hubby's own creations, for better or for worse, and are made, photographed, and written by himself)

Banana Split Float

On occasion I get to help in the kitchen, usually I'm in charge of all "tall jobs" and make a great sou-chef. My kitchen tasks consist of cutting chicken, peeling 4 million cloves of garlic, or getting that plate off the top shelf. Once and a while I have a culinary inspiration, and it almost never works out. I would say that 9 times out of 10 the smoke alarm goes off and on a good day we still have enough of an appetite to enjoy the take-out that became a necessity. One of the places in the kitchen that I'm not so bad is Mixology.

Amanda had purchased this bottle of banana liqueur to make bananas foster around Christmas time, but life got in the way so she never got around to it. So I had been staring at this bottle for a few weeks and the craving finally took over last night and I just had to use it! I rummaged around and came up with a little something. Banana Split - for grown ups! I found some of our favorite daiquiri mix and a ton of little toppings and sweet liqueurs. I grabbed our trusty blender and went to work. Each layer tastes delightful on its own but all together this drink combines well an taste like one of my favorite desserts!

2 1/2 cups of ice, divided
2 oz banana liqueur
1 tbs caramel sauce
4 oz strawberry daiquiri mix
1 oz Grey Goose Vodka
1 oz Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
4 small scoops of vanilla ice cream
2 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
maraschino cherries, for topping

1. First, blend 1 cup ice and banana liqueur until smooth. Then add caramel and blend again for 10-20 seconds

2. Pour into bottom of the glass and rinse blender.

3. Blend 1 cup ice, daiquiri mix, and vodka for about 30-45 seconds. Then add chocolate liqueur and blend again until incorporated.

4. Tilt glass and pour slowly while spinning glass. Rinse blender.

5. Blend 1/2 cup ice, ice cream and Irish cream. Blend until there are no chunks of ice left and mixture is creamy.

6. Pour slowly to float foam on top of liquids. Top with a maraschino cherries or two, throw in a straw, and you are all set to enjoy your dessert/drink!

Also featured on: What's Cooking Wednesday

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Giant Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

Welcome to the Autism Awareness section of my blog post for the month of April in honor of my brother! I'm sure most people have heard of autism, but how many people really know what it is? Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that affects people in every walk of life. It is classified by particular behaviors and difficulty in communications. Not every person with autism presents the same characteristics. People are categorized "on the spectrum" based on levels of functioning. But what's so surprising is how very many people are being diagnosed with autism, asperger's or other disorders on the PDD spectrum. According to a study done two years ago, one child in every 110 children is born with autism. Even more so affrected are boys with a 1 to 70 ratio. Where we live has one of the highest rates of autism in the country; 1 in 94 children born are affected. Those results are staggering when compared with other developmental delays. These reasons, plus many more are simply the beginning of why it's crucial to spread awareness. The more we know, the more we can accomplish.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program... I've been trying to think of a way to share Autism Awareness in my food this month and have come up with some good ideas and some not so good ideas. This simple recipe is merely a fun way to spread awareness with baked goods which feature the colors and symbols of Autism Awareness. Some people call this concoction a cookie pizza and others call it a cookie cake. I'm leaning toward pizza, but either sounds good, because it'll be gone so fast!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie "Cake/Pizza"
This cookie cake is simply a double batch of the peanut butter cookies I previously made here, but I will share the revised recipe.

1 stick butter (softened)
1/2 cup peanut butter ( I used smooth, but chunky would be great too)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 1 egg
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used min kisses!)

Chocolate Ganache (for topping)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 1/2 cup chopped chocolate

Giant Cookie

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.

3. Add the egg and continue to beat until fluffy.

4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

5. Slowly add dry mix to peanut butter mix while beating.

6. Stir in chocolate chips.

7. Cover a 16" pizza pan with foil or parchment and spread cookie dough with a lightly greased spatula. I even gave the foil a quick spray before filling the pan just to be sure there had no surprises later...

8. Bake on 350 for 18-23 minutes, until fully cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool.


1. Take your chocolate bar and break it up into smaller pieces for easier melting. Spread out the pieces in a large bowl. You can use whatever chocolate you have on hand, but the better the chocolate, the better the results. I used a large milk chocolate bar I had hanging around Valentine's Day.

2. Heat the cream on medium-low. Watch it carefully. It will simmer for a few minutes and then as soon as it reaches a boil, immediately remove it from the heat and pour over the chocolate.

3. Stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth and fully incorporated.

4. Pour the ganache over the cookie and help spread it out to the edges with a spoon or spatula.

5. Then decorate as you desire. You can use candy, marshmallows, other types of melted chocolate or peanut butter, icing, nuts, or whatever toppings you want. I used mini M&Ms in the colors of the autism awareness ribbon. Then just cut a slice and eat!

For more information about Autism, please visit these sites:
Autism Society of America
Autism Speaks
Easter Seals

Remember to Support. Educate. Advocate. for Autism Awareness now and all through the year!
Source: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, previously blogged by me, originally from Stephanie Cooks

Also featured on: Full Plate Thurdays

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fruit Salad with Sweet Dressing

April is an important month for me and my family, because April is Autism Awareness Month! For anyone who knows me, you know that I love my family tons! My little brother is very special to me. He's my buddy. And he's autistic.

Throughout the month of April, I hope to share, a little about my brother and about autism, along with many of my posts. As I'm sure many people know, the Autism Awareness ribbon is characterized by puzzle pieces and primary colors. Also, the color "blue" has become a symbol a Autism Awareness through the Autism Speaks insignia. I will be blogging about autism along with my usual recipes for this month. Thank you to everyone in their support of Autism Awareness and spreading the word!

This is a very simple fruit salad which I chose to feature today, because its colors are similar to that in the Autism Awareness Ribbon. I hope to feature some foods that highlight the color themes for Autism Awareness, as well as, some of my brother's favorite foods in the up coming weeks.

6 strawberries, sliced
4 oz blueberries
1/2 cantaloupe, diced
1/2 pineapple, cubed
1 bunch of green grapes
1 bunch of red grapes
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cinnamon

1. Rinse all of the fruit and pat dry with paper towels. Place all the fruit in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, add honey. Slowly, add in lemon and lime juice while stirring.

3. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon.

4. Drizzle the dressing over the fruit and lightly toss until well coated. Serve chilled.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What's Baking Round-up ~ Bake From Your Heritage

I had the honor of hosting this month's What's Baking Challenge. While trying to choose a theme for the month of March, I thought about what I most frequently blog. I mostly cook and bake dishes that my mother and grandmothers did. So very much of my kitchen experience stems from my family. Environment and genetics both help shape a person to be who they are, and family, as well as heritage, are part of both. All the memories and fun in the kitchen, for me, are almost always shared with my mom. My family is a great part of who I am so I thought, what better challenge than to bake a dish that represents your family and your heritage. So for March, everyone was asked to Bake from their own Heritage. I hope everyone enjoyed sharing little bits of their own history through their recipes here!

Sicilian Cassata Cake

Melissa, from I Was Born To Cook, shared her Sicilian cake, spongy layers filled with cannoli cream


Ammie, from Adventures in my Kitchen, showed off her traditional Swedish cheesecake topped with lingonberry berry preserves

Joe Frogger Cookies

Catherine, from Pursuing Domestic Goddessness, shared crispy cookies from her New England heritage

Reuben Sandwiches

Jade, from The Mess Pot, boasted her Irish fare of glazed corned beef brisket


Carrie, from Carrie's Sweet Life, flaunts her Scandinavian confections, filled shortbread cookies


Lindsey, from Our Share of the Harvest, shared a moist, German cake with a nut and sugar crumble topping

Traditional Tourtière

Jill, from JBean Cuisine, exhibts her love for French-Canadian foods with these cute and savory meat pies


Heather, from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks, baked her chocolate and vanilla Slovak pound cake sprinkled with powdered sugar

Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins

Yudith, from Blissfully Delicious, made her Indonesian-style muffins with chocolate chips

Irish Brown Bread

Cara, from The Boys Made Me Do It, shared a traditional and hearty Irish bread.


I made these cookies to celebrate my Italian heritage, a dense cookie with a lemon glaze

Be sure to check April's What's Baking Challenge-Spring Baking hosted by Leanne, from The Martin Family. You can use some light, fruity desserts or tap into the colors of sping! Thanks to everyone who participated! All of your entries look fantastic!