Monday, July 23, 2012

Decadent Triple Threat Chocolate Bars!

I'm thrilled because thanks to you all I've reached 200 followers!!!  I can't believe my blog is so well liked! :) I started this blog out of shear love for recipes, food, cooking and was inspired by a dear friend and the sweet movie Julie & Julia. 

It was started at a time in my life when I needed an outlet.  It was during the most difficult time of my life.  Some of you may not have known that I was pregnant with a sweet baby girl, Bailey Faith, after 3 years of trying to conceive. She quietly died during my 2nd trimester.  Her short existence in my womb impacted me more than anything in my life, and even now just knowing we have a beloved child in Heaven that I'll meet one day brings me joy!  God is sovereign and knowing that is what has gotten us through.  We trust His plan.   Through this trial there have been countless ups and downs, but the heart of our marriage has actually been strengthened! 

Because of the Lord, I survived something I thought I could never endure.  I am very serious when I say that Jesus Christ literally carried us through those days, and the months that followed.  His strength was perfect when our strength was shaken and some days, gone! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I could share and share with you all about this journey we're still walking with the Lord in.  But for now, I just said all of that to explain that I needed something new and fun to put my thoughts into after such a tragedy and while my husband was in Med school.  God ultimately gave me this great idea of a cooking blog!! 

I never realized how many people whom I didn't know would read it and care to follow up on my life!  This has been a fun way to explore new recipes, share my favorites and "meet" new people from all over the world!  Who knew food could be such an incredible connection to different generations and cultures!

So thank you for following me in my life as I share with you from The Cozy Little Kitchen!

(Disclaimer: You are about to happen upon lots of exclamation points in this post.)

You know how sometimes you want a really good semi-homemade dessert recipe? One that's looks impressive but is actually easy to make? Alas! this is the recipe, and it's crazy-good!!!   These decadent chocolate-y bars of goodness are very easy to make!  Mr. Cozy is the one who found this idea and ran with it.  (He loves chocolate as much as I do!)
We decided to make these in a muffin tin, because we took them to cell group (our church's home group) and thought they would be so cute and easy to eat this way.  They were perfect for the adults and kids to easily grab and eat up!!  I think the empty basket said that they were a hit! 

They're a layered bar starting with a chocolate chip cookie crust with chocolate-creme cookies in the middle and topped off with a layer of milk chocolate chip brownie!  You get three of some of the best things put into one dessert!

I mean they are goooood!!!

Yes ma'am!....I said milk chocolate dotted brownie batter, layered over chocolate-creme cookies, layered over chocolate chip cookie dough!

  These insist at the very least frosty milk or steamy coffee and at the most.....made into a sundae topped with ice cream and chocolate syrup and whipped cream!  What a fun dessert to eat with your loved ones! Gooey, crumbly, melty, sweet, chocolate-y, buttery,delicious and easy Triple Threat Chocolate Bars!  I hope you'll try them for your loved ones!

Decadent Triple Threat Chocolate Bars
Serves 24

1 Family-sized Box  (to fit 13x9 pan) Brownie Mix
(Prepare batter as the box instructs, but do not bake! I usually add about 4 oz of chocolate syrup to box mixes if it's not included for extra fudgey brownies...didn't have any at home for this round unfortunately.)

Double Stuffed Creme Filled Cookies
(We used Oreos)

2 Rolls of Refrigerated Cookie Dough
(We used Toll House and used about 1 1/2 of the rolls)

1 Heaping Hand full of Milk Chocolate Chips
(We used Ghiradelli)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers.

Take about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough (or 1/3 inch slices of rolled cookie dough)and press into the bottom of the cup. Should fill cups to about 1/3 to 1/2 of muffin tin

Next, place one creme-filled chocolate cookie on top of the cookie dough. 

Lastly, spoon brownie batter evenly over each cookie in every cup until you run out of batter.Will be ~1-2 tablespoons batter into each muffin tin.

Sprinkle milk chocolate chips all over the top of the brownie batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are set and center is still a bit gooey.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, remove from the pan.

Peel off cupcake papers to show of the pretty layers if you want.

Eat them while they're still warm and gooey! 

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Passions: Worship and Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let me start off by opening another window for you to see into my life....

I want to share with you my love and passion for worshipping Jesus Christ! The ladies of my church "back home", gave me this awesome and precious opportunity to lead the worship at their Ladies retreat over the weekend!  It was a 2 day, Beth Moore "Loving Well" retreat that involved lots of pampering, beautiful decor, delicious food, chocolates, cheesecake(!), heart-felt fellowship, Godly teaching, small group discussion, prayer and intimate worship!  I was thrilled and very honored to be a part of such a thing!  I love women, and I think God is giving me a bigger heart to minister to women all the time.  I've been called by the Lord from a young age to lead worship.  I've been singing for Him since I was 8.  That may sound "cute" to you, but I always took it very seriously.  I've been helping with worship on a pretty regular basis from the time I was 15 years old.  There is no other way of saying it but that God has given me a relentless desire to worship Him and lead others into His presence. That's where there can be deliverance, healing, restoration, peace, comfort!  I worship our Lord Jesus Christ because He is Worthy of  it.  Because we were created to.  Because there is power in it!!  He loves us all so very much.  I hope you know Him!

I just had to share that part of me with you since I don't believe I have before.  Singing for God one of my greatest passions, and if you want to know me better you have to know that! :D 
Now then, something else is that I never refuse a good chocolate chip cookie!  I think that my husband and I can both say, honestly, that chocolate chip cookies are one of our top 5 favorite "Eats" of all time. They are simple. They are classic. They are unbeatable!  A rich buttery cookie with morsels of gooey melted chocolate?!?  Come on people, what's better?

This is a brand new recipe that I wanted to try.  We LOVE the double chocolate sea salt cookies, but I was out of cake flour and wanted to swim in new recipe waters.  I made a few of changes to this recipe that I found via Pinterest, creating one that's more of my own!  Wondering about a new and different chocolate chip cookie recipe, I dove in head first excited about surprising my wonderful Mr. Cozy with a batch hot out of the oven! 

They actually turned to be amazing!  The chew factor is a perfect ratio in this cookie.  I added a few granules of sea salt to the top of some of them for that salty sweet combination my hubby goes crazy for!  We shared with some friends, and I knew when our 9 year old friend said that they're "really good!!!" that they would be blog worthy! 

So Dear Ones, once again, please help yourself to a frosty glass of milk and have a try at my soft & chewy chocolate chip cookies!

Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/8 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. milk chocolate chips
(I really like Ghiradelli)

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. 

In a separate bowl, mix butter and sugars until blended.

Add egg, yolk and vanilla.  Mix together well.

See my pretty, candy apple red mixer helping me out in the kitchen?  Thanks again to my Secret Giver for this incredibly wonderful gift you gave me!!!  Now I think, what would I do without it? 

Add dry ingredients to wet.  Mix just until combined.

Add the best part, the chocolate chips!

Mix together the buttery goodness without eating it up....that's the hard part for me! 
I'm a Cookie Dough Monster!!

Shape and form the cookie dough on wax paper or plastic wrap into a log.  Roll u and wrap like a peppermint candy.  Store in the fridge for at least 3 hours or up to 48.  This makes the cookies taste SO much better! 
(It's a little secret of mine!  I'm a good friend:)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Portion out into large tablespoons on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 7 minutes and rotate pans and bake for another 7 minutes. This makes for an evenly baked cookie.Your oven temperature may vary a bit, but I would say to bake from 13-16 minutes total.  Take them out while they still look a bit under-done.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Faith's Country Blackberry Cobbler!

I'm surprised I've never shared this recipe with you before!  One of my all-time favorite summer desserts is definitely homemade blackberry cobbler!!!  I grew up with Mom making this all the time. 

Blackberry cobbler reminds me of: 


Life in the country

Fried Chicken

Picking little wild blackberries on my grandparent's farm as a child

Purple stained hands

Seeds in my teeth

Granny's house

Mom's house

Sitting on the front porch

Being hot

Running through the sprinkler with my little brother

4th of July picnics

Vanilla Ice cream

Happy Memories

 What's better than a sweet and juicy jewel-toned blackberry filling with a buttery topping that's been poured over the top, that bakes into a soft-in-the-center, crisp-on the-edges kind of crust!

I love how when it bakes, the filling bubbles up to create ponds--if you will--of  sweet blackberry juice all over the cobbler!  I just have to sacrifice my tongue for the good of my tummy and take a tiny bite of the corner almost right out of the oven....bubbling and hot. (As shown here in the picture.)  It looks and smells too good to wait any longer for a taste! 

Mom has a great recipe, but this particular one is my sister Faith's recipe that she found years ago and we all love.   She's an incredible baker!!!  This recipe has lots of butter, which makes it that much more delicious.  Also, it's sooo easy!  We love cobblers with a pour over crust, so you don't have to fuss with a regular pie crust.  Faith has added Mom's crust recipe to make this a "Faith original"!

If you've never made a blackberry cobbler, now is the time!  Go to a local blackberry farm if you have one, because they are in season.  If you don't, use frozen blackberries and honestly no one will know the difference!

This dessert defines summer.  So, get your milk glasses frosting in the freezer, some vanilla ice cream on hand, and relish in the one of the good things about the "dog days of summer"....Homemade Blackberry Cobbler! 

Faith's Blackberry Cobbler

1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 c. fresh blackberries
2 (14oz.) bags frozen blackberries

Mom's Crust
1 c.sugar
1c. flour
3/4 c. milk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat your even to 425 degrees F.
For the filling, stir together the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. 

Gently stir in the blackberries until sugar mixture is crumbly.
Spoon fruit into lightly greased 11x7 baking dish.

For the crust, stir together all of the ingredients.  I mix the dry first and then pour in the melted butter.

Pour this batter over the blackberry filling.
That's it!

Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown along the edges!
Serve warm with ice cream, if you like!
Serves 8-10

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ladies Luncheon Strawberry Chicken Salad

This is a pretty salad that I put together for my Mom and sister when they came for a visit about a week ago.  They were coming to stay the night, but arrived at mid-day, so I wanted to have a nice little lunch for them when they walked in the door.  After a long drive, there's nothing more inviting than a freshly made meal or dessert waiting for your arrival!  Maybe it's just me, but I love that!

My husband and I love going to Bed & Breakfasts for a weekend away, and that's one special thing they usually provide when you arrive! Many we've stayed at will have fresh baked cookies or muffins, hot popcorn, fresh coffee or tea....just something that says, Welcome, we're so glad you're here!!!

I got this idea of adding strawberries to chicken salad from a recent issue of Southern Living magazine. I changed the recipe to suit our tastes, and it was just wonderful! I didn't go by an exact recipe, but "eye-balled" most of the ingredients while tasting as I went. I only added a little bit of green onion, but I thought the onion is what gave it a nice savory quality.  The honey simply should be for a subtle sweetness to compliment the strawberries and contrast the salt.

Chocked full of sliced green onion, fresh strawberries, sunflower seeds and sliced almonds in a Greek yogurt dressing, this salad was perfect served on sweet Hawaiian buns and simply served with wavy potato chips, pickles and olives. I also made homemade, fresh strawberry-limeade, but I'm so disappointed that I didn't take any pictures of it. It was soooo good!! Guess, that means I'll have to make it again!?!  ;)

This salad was something we all agreed was fantastic for a ladies lunch, and just right for the incredibly hot day it was!  We had a wonderful time catching up together as we sat in my new dining room eating and enjoying the company!  We did some shopping at Home Goods, dinner at an authentic Mediterranean favorite restaurant called The Grape Leaf, watched some Downton Abbey (my favorite!), shopped at The Fresh Market (another favorite!) and more cooking.  We had such a fun time together!  As always, it's a little sad to see my family leave to go back home, but we made the most of our time together!

Maybe this lovely strawberry chicken salad--or an inspired version--can be a part of your "Girl's Day Out", too!

Strawberry Chicken Salad

Chicken Breasts 

Greek Yogurt
Light Mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper
Poppy seeds
Green Onion, sliced thinly
Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower seeds
Strawberries, halved and sliced thinly

When I make chicken salad, I always "roast" the chicken breast.  I used 1 1/2 large chicken breasts for the three of us.
It's Simple: Rub breast with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake at about 350-375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.
Allow to cool and shred into pieces.  Set aside.

Mix together equal parts of  Greek yogurt and mayonnaise.  Add salt and pepper, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds a bit of honey, and sliced green onion.  Mix well.  You can make this dressing ahead of time, just refrigerate it.

When you're ready to assemble, add the chicken and strawberries and gently mix together.  Add additional salt and pepper if it needs it.  Serve in a lovely lettuce lined bowl for a pretty presentation and sprinkle almonds over the top.  Chill for up to 2 hours.  Enjoy with the Lovelies in you life!

Here we are right before they left to go back home. *tear*
  I'm in the middle, my sister is on the left, and Mom on the right. 
( Love you both!)

Also, I almost forgot to thank Amelia at Cake Fu for featuring my Lemon Berry Trifle in her festive July 4th blog post!!!  She has some great suggestions and I hope you can check her out!  Thanks, Girl!
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Friday, July 6, 2012

The Dining Room at Sunset

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4

Welcome to my dining room!!
I guess you can call this a "teaser" of my favorite room in the house.  I'll have to give you a complete tour very soon.

A warm glow filters through the old windows in this room as the sun begins to set.  It's my favorite time of day in this room as I imagine my house is being transformed.  Transformed into the cozy look of "Orchard House" from Little Women or readied to host a lively party like the ones Fred would have every Christmas in The Christmas Carol!

I've always dreamed of having a home with a dining room, but I got one even better...a dining room with a fireplace and sweetly scalloped built-in shelving on either side! 

I'm amazed at how my Lord cares about even the smallest things.
This house is nothing less that God truly giving me the desire of my heart!!! 

I hope everyone has a blessed weekend!  

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Red, White & Blue-Berry Yummy Tartlettes

I hope y'all are having wonderful 4th of July celebrations!!! 

We're aren't able to go in to visit family for the first time ever, but we've been with them so much lately it feels like we have already celebrated!  The tradition start with Freedom Fest!  We always are excited to go to the parade bright and early in the morning before the day really heats up.  We have on our patriotic red, white and blue along with everybody there!  It's funny how our family sits in the exact same place every year at the parade....ever since I was a baby!  It's always good to see the same people around and catch up with them each year.  After the parade, we walk down to the court square where the street fair is going on.  There's usually a bbq competition that smells and tastes so good, along with lots of local vendors, arts and crafts, free slices of watermelon, and a great band to round off the fun! Following the street fair is cooling off at home with a nap and making the food for the evening family grill-out!  It's so good to spend time with everybody.  We finish of the day with going to see the spectacular fireworks display that's held every year.  It brings everyone out of the woodwork from around the county.  I've always LOVED fireworks!  It's the ultimate sign of the celebration of summer and America's freedom!!!

Truly, until you experience small-town USA celebrations steeped in family heritage and patriotism, you don't know what a thing you're missing!

Last week we had some good friends come over for a potluck supper.  I made fried chicken and baby heirloom tomato salad, Mr. Cozy made sweet mint & lemon tea, and for dessert was homemade blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and these sweet little fruit tartletts!  My wonderful friends brought all of the delicious sides which included fresh fruit, homemade potato salad, buffalo chicken dip, baked beans and garden fresh sauteed vegatables.  It was a delicious feast of summer bounty!

These fresh fruit cookie tartletts are not only cute, but so easy to make and delicious!  I didn't make nearly enough.  I got the idea from Mommy's Kitchen where her adorable looking cookies caught my eye.  She's clearly a great cook with attention to detail.  Although the idea came from her, my cookies are a little different.  I already had some homemade shortbread cookie dough in the fridge, so that's what I used. (I need to tell you that I only had about 1/3 the cookie dough when I made these and modified the amount of filling accordingly.)  I think you could use any sugar cookie recipe or store bought dough, if you like a chewier cookie.  I think the crisp shortbread make them seem more like little tarts.  My shortbread cookies are The Barefoot Contessa's famous recipe and they're very rich, buttery, and wonderful!  Not to mention easy!  The creaminess of the cream cheese topping and sweet fruit on them was a perfect combination of texture and flavor.  This was my first time at a cookie-tartlette like this, and I'm so glad I made them because they're so good!  I think they brought a flair of festivity to the night!

Here are a few snapshots of our patio.  I wish I had my pillows out in these picture and the candles lit. I decorated more just before they came. Some of my flowers look a little over-heated, but with the temps we've had, I can't blame them!!  I love all the shade we have from this huge willow oak tree.  It provides a perfect canopy to be beneath in the summer-time.

Here's a grouping of flowers and my favorite bunny lantern.

The windchime was a gift from my husband, and I really enjoy hearing it sing as it delicately waves in the breeze.  It's such a calming sound to me.  Although we live right in town, I feel as though I have a little oasis right here at home!

This sweet red and white checkered table cloth and cushions are hand made from my great aunt.  I love them sooo much!  I think they fit my ice cream table and chairs just right!  See the little blue bird feeder my parents gave me for Easter?  So cute perched in the flowers!

As I'm typing, I hear the sound of winds and thunder outside, and I'm hopeful we're finally going to get a some rain tonight with this storm. :)  I like being cozy in my house and listening to the pattering outside of God replenishing the earth.

I hope these Berry Yummy Tartletts cookies make it to a celebration on your own patio some day!

Happy Independence Day and God Bless America!!!  

Berry Yummy Tartlettes

(Please feel free to tweak the sugar and vanilla to your own taste!)
1-8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Strawberries, rinsed, hulled and thinly sliced
Blueberries, rinsed
2 Tbsp. Sugar

Make the shortbread cookies and allow to cool completely on racks. 

Blend the filling ingredients together well with a mixer until very creamy.  (You can do this ahead of time and keep in the fridge if you need to.)

Using a small knife --I like butter knife--take your cookies and spread a little of the mixture over each cookie, but not going quite to the edge.  Sorry, I didn't measure out this part.   Spread the filling on all the cookies before you top with berries in case there's filling left over.  That way you can easily add more.

Add 2-3 slices of strawberries, 4-5 blueberries or a little of each on every one.  Shower the cookies with granulated sugar for a pretty sparkle.  Keep in the fridge until you're ready to share and eat.
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