Friday, April 20, 2012

Monster Bars

Delicious Monster Bars with a colorful twist!

Monster bars are moist, chewy and oh, so good!  They are a family favorite and so easy to make.  Honestly, I love these bars because my monster cookies never turn out the best. :)

For Monster Bars you'll need:

  •  1 stick margarine, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. M&M's
Cream the first six ingredients together then add the oatmeal, baking soda, chocolate chips and M&M's.  Pat mixture into a greased 10 x15 or jelly roll sized pan and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes are until edges are golden brown.

I'll be honest I slightly under bake these bars because I like them that way.  I typically use plain M&M's in this recipe but for a weekend with the family I put speckled peanut butter filled M&M's in this batch instead and they were mighty tasty!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


This cooler weather put me in the mood to throw together a warm and delicious casserole for dinner!  This is one of my family's favorites and it's something everyone will eat.  I will say the sausage pieces are a favorite and it's hard to get the casserole in the oven before the kids start picking out the sausages and eating them.  They are pre-cooked!
For Cavatelli you will need:
  •  16 oz rotini noodles
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 14 oz package Polska Kielbasa sliced
  • 1 16 oz jar of hot sauce
  • 1 24 oz jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 package of mozzarella cheese
Brown burger and cook rotini noodles.  Mix browned burger, cooked noodles, Kielbasa, hot sauce, spaghetti sauce and half bag of cheese in large bowl. 

Pour mixture into 9x13 pan and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  You will notice my mixture doesn't have any cheese in it.  A few of my family members don't like cheese!  I know, crazy huh?  Anyway I add cheese to each individual serving after it's baked.  My family literally scarfed this casserole down before I had a chance to take a picture of it in the pan!  The picture far above was what I was able to get on my plate. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lemon Meringue Tart

This tart is so delicious, smooth and bursting with lemon flavor.  I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten.  Surprise, surprise it's a French recipe.  Someday I'll get to France with my French for Dummies in tow!

This tart consists of a flaky, buttery crust filled with a fresh, creamy lemon filling and topped with perfectly whipped meringue.  I'll be honest this recipe does take a little time but with worth it!  I was so excited how well this tart turned out!

Lemon Meringue Tart

For the crust & meringue you'll need:
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cold Crisco
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Combine flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in bowl and place in freezer for 30 minutes. 

Put flour mixture in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add butter and Crisco and pulse about 10 times until butter is in small bits.

 Add ice water and process until dough comes together.

Dump on well-floured board and form into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

The first time I made this I did not have a food processor so I used a pastry cutter to cut in the butter and mix the dough.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out dough to fit into a 9-inch tart pan with removable sides.  Don't stretch dough to fit because it will shrink during baking.  Cut off excess by rolling the pin across top of pan.  Line tart shell with piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill with dried beans or rice.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove beans and foil and prick bottom of shell over with a fork to allow steam to escape.  Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

Above while your dough is sitting in the freezer for 30 minutes you can make your lemon filling.  For the lemon filling you will need:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 3 extra-large egg yolks(save the whites for the meringue)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest (6 to 8 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 minute.  On low speed, add eggs and egg yolks one at a time, and then add the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt.  Don't worry it will look curdled.

Pour mixture into small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until thick, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Whisk briefly when it starts to thicken and cook over low heat for a minute or two, whisking constantly.  Don't allow to boil!  It will be 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature.

Now you can let your filling cool while you roll out and bake the crust above.  While crust is baking you can make your meringue.  For the meringue, whip the 4 egg whites, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp of salt in bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment on high speed until frothy.  With the mixer still running slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until meringue is think and shiny, about 2 minutes.

Now you can spread your cooled lemon filling into the cooled tart shell and pipe the meringue over it with a large start tip.  Be sure the meringue covers the entire top and touches the edge of the shell, to prevent it from shrinking.  Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mini Strawberry Tarts

I love no-bake strawberry pie!  It has a light, cool and refreshing taste.  It is the perfect end to any meal.  The other day while I was in the super market I came across some tiny little graham cracker crusts.  They were so cute I had to buy them!  I decided to turn my strawberry pie into mini strawberry tarts.  This recipe is super easy and delicious!

For the mini strawberry tarts you'll need:
  • 6 mini graham cracker crusts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons strawberry jello
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • Cool Whip
Cook sugar, water and cornstarch until thick.
Remove from heat and add jello.
Let the mixture cool then add fruit.  Place tart shells on a cookie sheet.

Fill tart shells with fruit and jello mixture.

Place pan of filled tart shells in refrigerator until ready to serve.  These don't take long at all to set up.  Once you are ready to serve, top with Cool Whip and enjoy!  These are so delicious it's hard to eat just one!