Welcome to Tickled Tastebuds! This page will feature a variety of recipes that includes appetizers, desserts, and everything in between. You will probably find that, as time passes and we have built more of a substantial basis here, we have a bit of a sweet tooth that is always aching to be satisfied. Dessert is definitely my favorite part of most meals, and after seeing some of our recipes, it might be yours, too, if it isn't already! With three small children at home, all of whom seem to have very Picky Tastebuds, we strive to make the majority of our recipes family-friendly, as well. Thanks for visiting us-enjoy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Birthday Cake Oreo Rice Krispie Treats

Oreo celebrated its 100th birthday yesterday! WOW! What an accomplishment, and surely a reason to get in the kitchen and enjoy some of the wonderful cookies that have thrived in our industrialized society through all of our economic ups and downs for a century.

If you know me, you know that Oreos are one of my favorite store-bought treats. They take me to a simpler time, spending many a childhood afternoon dipping these cream-filled chocolate cookies into small cups of milk, timing it just perfectly so that the cookie was removed from the milk mere seconds before breaking off completely, only to be lost in a sea of speckled white. Ahhh, the good old days....

My grandma got me hooked on these bad boys, and I enjoy giving them to our kids every so often as a bedtime snack (usually one I partake in, too!). For the most part, Double Stuf are my go-to variation, but I also have really come to enjoy the Mint Oreos, as well. I have several recipes already posted that utilize Oreos in some form or another, so feel free to browse through those, too, to find your perfect way to celebrate your love for Oreos. By the way, if you don't love Oreos, just stop reading now. This one is probably not for you!

I had heard about the Birthday Cake Oreos, but had yet to try them until yesterday. They really are a party in your mouth! I had a hard time reserving enough of them to actually use in the recipe, but after hastily chopping them up, it was much easier to resist.

I saw a recipe similar to this one on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. She is always coming up with innovative and sinful treats; you definitely need to check out her blog if you haven't already. Her version inspired mine, which I will now tell you about!

Birthday Cake Oreo Rice Krispie Treats

- 1/2 cup butter
- 18 oz. miniature marshmallows
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Rainbow Chip cake mix
- 8 cups Rice Krispies
- 16 Birthday Cake Oreos, finely chopped

For the topping:
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup Rainbow Chip Frosting
- 3-4 Birthday Cake Oreos, crushed
- 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

1. Spray a 9x13" pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large pot, melt butter. Stir in 18 oz. marshmallows, vanilla, and Rainbow Chip Cake Mix, mixing well until smooth and creamy. Stir in the Rice Krispies and the chopped Birthday Cake Oreos until well-combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan, using wax paper if necessary to evenly press the Rice Krispie treats into the bottom of the pan.
3. Place white chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Immediately stir in Rainbow Chip frosting, crushed cookies, and remaining marshmallows. "Spread" over the top of the Rice Krispie treats.
4. Let set for 30 minutes or until topping is set. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

These bars are seriously Ah-Mazing.... They combine so many of my favorite childhood treats into one, deliciously fantastic dessert. One of the things I love the most about these Birthday Cake Oreo Rice Krispie Treats is the fact that, even though all of the ingredients come together to create an incredible, cohesive dish, the integrity of each individual component remains largely intact, and you can truly enjoy each ingredient for what it brings to the overall flavor palate. And, to make them even better, they are beyond soft with just a perfect amount of gooey-ness to allow for enjoyment with mess!

The classic Rice Krispie Treat, the Birthday Cake Oreo, and the Rainbow Chip birthday cake are all in attendance at this party, and you truly don't want to miss out! I definitely recommend that you make these SOON! Especially if you love Oreos. Celebrate their accomplishment and appreciate some stability in an ever-changing world- spread some cookie love!

Layer upon layer of birthday treat perfection... I am so making these for Brooklyn's birthday party at daycare this month! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge Cream Cheese Cake Bars

Every so often, a recipe catches my eye that sounds so beyond perfection that I must make it immediately. Now that I am attempting to limit my "over-indulgence," I really have to exercise self-control more often than not for my waistline's sake. Following as many other food blogs as I do, in addition to my regular Pinterest browsing, makes this task seem impossible at times, as I sit with my mouth watering in front of my computer and try to convince myself that "it can't be THAT good..."

Well, no matter how many times I tried to tell myself this when I saw these bars on Cookies and Cups, I could never quite convince myself. I obsessed over them for a little under a week when I finally caved and hurried to the store, head hung in shame, to gather the few additional ingredients I needed to undertake my baking endeavors. I needed my "fix," after only three days of being "on track" with eating better and exercising. The good thing is, although I ultimately gave in, my craving was satisfied and more, as these bars are SO rich that I only needed a very small piece to feel fulfilled. The scale never reflected my weakness! Hooray!

I ended up taking these to book club and also to work to share, as well as the kids (brother included) and Chris, of course, tried them. They were an all-around hit. Everyone was raving about them. Even Chris. I know, right? Now you KNOW that they must be divine, right?

The bottom layer consists of the beloved boxed cake mix vamped up with a few additional ingredients. The middle layer, which is my personal favorite, consists simply of cream cheese mixed with dark chocolate hot fudge sauce. Heaven...on...earth... Top that off with toffee bits and dark chocolate chips, sprinkled with a few of the leftover crumbs from the crust layer and you have yourself and rich, decadent, deliciously and sinfully chocolate dessert that is packed with layer upon layer of indulgence.

If you're anything like me, you are probably already drooling. So without further adieu, I give to you the gift I call Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge Cream Cheese Cake Bars...

Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge Cream Cheese Cake Bars (Adapted from Cookies and Cups)

- 1 18.25 oz. package chocolate cake mix
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp. coffee (or cream/milk would work, too, I just happened to have coffee)
- 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 16 oz. jar Hershey's Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge Sauce
- 2 cups dark chocolate chunks
- 1 cup toffee bits

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13" cake pan with foil, leaving enough excess on each end to create handles. Lightly spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter, egg, and coffee using your hands. Press all of this mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan, reserving 1 cup for topping.
3. In the same large bowl, mix together the cream cheese and hot fudge sauce using an electric mixer until creamy and well-blended. Pour over the crust.
4. Sprinkle the dark chocolate chunks and the toffee bits over the cream cheese layer, then sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then cool to room temperature on wire rack, at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least three hours, then cut into bars and serve. Store in refrigerator, but these bars are best served at room temperature.

Anyone else find it hard to stay strong when recipes like this are sitting in front of you, staring at you, calling to you and beckoning, just begging to be baked, eaten, and enjoyed???

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Southwest Shepherd's Pie

Every so often, I find that it becomes necessary to have a week at the grocery store where we only buy perishable food items and make our meals revolve around the huge supply of non-perishable food we have stocked in the cupboards and pantry. Without this occasional "cleansing ritual," if you will, we would never even make a dent in our stockpile of canned goods, mismatched pastas, and other staples that have collected and compiled over time.

More often than not, these attempts of mine to clear out some room in our cupboards end up in a pretty tasty dish of some sort (sometimes not-experimentation is bound to yield occasional failures), although they are usually so random that my beloved fiance and brother (both of whom have been previously mentioned throughout this blog) refer to them, lovingly of course, as sh*t casserole. Many a dishes have been endearingly termed this, and if Southwest Shepherd's Pie ends up in this category, it is by far the best sh*t casserole I have ever created.

This baked dish is layered with flavors of savory and sweet, with a very subtle spicy sensation, and is absolutely delicious. It will indubitably be a go-to dinner when we plan our weekly menus. It has been promoted past the point of mere cupboard cleaning to deserving its place in our regular dinner rotations.

Here is what you will need:

Southwest Shepherd's Pie (AKA Best Sh*t Casserole Ever)

- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 yellow or sweet onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. garlic paste
- 1 tbsp. EACH chili powder, paprika, and cumin
- 1 tsp. EACH season salt and black pepper
- 6 mini sweet peppers (I used two of each color- red, orange, and yellow, but any combination would be fine), chopped
- 1 10.5-oz can Rotel tomatoes UN-DRAINED
- 1 15-oz black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 7-oz can green chilies
- 1 15-oz can sweet corn, drained
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar -jack cheese mix
- 1 box of honey cornbread mix (plus all ingredients called for on box mix- I used and LOVED Krusteaz-brand)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion, and garlic paste until beef is cooked through and no longer pink. Drain. Stir in all seasonings, chopped sweet peppers, Rotel tomatoes with juice, black beans, green chilies, and corn. Cook beef mixture for approximately 5-7 minutes, just long enough to slightly soften the peppers and let the flavors develop. Spread meat mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with cheese.
3. In a medium bowl, mix cornbread batter according to instructions on box. After batter has been mixed, spread evenly over the cooked beef mixture.
4. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until cornbread is cooked completely and a toothpick inserted into center comes out mostly clean. Cool for approximately five minutes before serving. If desired, top with fresh salsa and sour cream.

A beautifully layered dish that delivers a ton of flavor

We served this with a simple mixture of Romaine, crushed tortilla chips, and a dressing of fresh salsa and sour cream. It was such a perfect start to a delicious dinner, and all in all, this meal was incredibly well-balanced. 

Do you ever have nights where you just throw everything in the cupboard into a dish and cross your fingers and hope for the best? Sometimes, innovation brings about great things, and this one was definitely an example of that principle at work! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

I have really been craving cinnamon rolls lately... not sure where the craving came from or how it got stuck in my head, but once it did, it wasn't going anywhere until I satiated it. I knew I would have to break down and make them, but the problem with homemade cinnamon rolls, as delicious as they may be, is the amount of time and effort that sometimes has to go into them in order for them to be genuinely scrumptious. Unfortunately, time is not always a luxury we enjoy at our house between work and three kids to try and keep up with.

I decided that mostly what I was craving was the cinnamon flavor, along with the cream cheese frosting that I prefer my cinnamon rolls to be slathered in. I remembered coming across an idea on Pinterest (if you haven't yet experienced this addiction, I highly suggest you do, but beware, I do NOT use the word addiction lightly here!) where someone had used crescent rolls as the base for their dessert and basically just rolled up whatever they wanted inside and then baked them accordingly. I decided I should try to make that work with a cinnamon roll concept, and so I did. And it was delicious, easy, and quick! Best of all, in spite of the obvious differences between this concoction and a traditional cinnamon roll, they satisfied my craving.

Here is what you will need:

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

- 1 can refrigerated Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
- 4 tbsp. butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 tbsp. butter, melted for brushing
- 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Using a hand mixer or whisk, in a medium bowl combine the 4 tbsp. softened butter and the softened cream cheese until smooth. Mix in 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, again combining until mixture is smooth and you no longer get the "grittiness" of the sugar granules when tasted.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the 1 tbsp. cinnamon.

Unroll crescent rolls onto a sheet of wax paper to prevent sticking. One at a time, separate the rolls at their perforations. Brush each triangle with melted butter, then sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Spoon roughly 1 tsp. of the cream cheese filling into the middle of the triangle and spread out. Roll the crescent roll according to the package instructions. Place onto prepared baking sheet, then brush the top with more melted butter, and again sprinkle a little of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top. Repeat until all of the rolls have been filled and rolled.

Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until rolls are lightly golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Spread remaining cream cheese filling over the top for a nice icing-like finish, and enjoy!

The kids went crazy over these, and they were absolutely perfect for a quick Sunday morning breakfast. I served them to the kids with some cinnamon applesauce; they seemed to enjoy the pairing and I felt better about giving them the equivalent of candy for breakfast....ha! Win-win. 

One of the things I think I ended up loving the most about these pseudo cinnamon rolls was how much they ended up being a lot like one of my all-time favorite breakfast/dessert danishes- cream cheese croissants. That is my go-to pasty of choice, and the filling was really very similar to that. The cinnamon added a sweet kiss of flavor to cut through the semi-savory notes of the cream cheese- roll all of that up into a buttery, flaky, crescent roll and you have a really, really tempting dish. Whether you serve these for breakfast, dessert, or dinner party coffee treat, these are sure to impress. 

What other things do you think would pair well rolled up inside of a crescent roll? I am pretty excited about the endless opportunities that this new-found idea may lead to... 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Bread

I have a confession to make... 

Sometimes, my baked creations are far from beautiful... Sometimes, they fall short, leaving me with concave cupcakes and M-shaped loaves of bread. Don't get me wrong, they still taste as beautiful as they SHOULD look, but I am really striving to improve the end quality of my food's appearance. 

Not always easy at 7,220 feet above sea level. The altitude here plays a HUGE factor in my baking, and even sometimes in my cooking, since everything from boiling temperatures to necessary amounts of leavening agents and everything in between is affected by living in the mountainous region of good, old Wyoming. 

With that said, I am still contemplating "forgetting" to include a picture with this post, as this apple-y, cinnamon-y, goodness I like to refer to as bread really looks nothing like a picturesque loaf, just beckoning you to devour it. I will decide and keep you posted...  :-) 

Picture or no picture, I assure you, you really need to try this bread. Make it for a special Saturday evening snack, or, dare I suggest, Sunday morning breakfast. 

I am constantly finding new blogs to adore and idolize, seeing all sorts of pages displaying everything I aspire to be as a food blogger. Two Peas and Their Pod is no exception. That is how I came across this divine-looking recipe, and lucky for me, I had everything I needed to make it on hand.

Here is what you will need:

Apple Cinnamon Bread (recipe slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup cinnamon applesauce
- 1 tsp. vanilla 
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups chopped apples, skins removed
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tbsp. white sugar, and 1 tsp. cinnamon for topping 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare an 8"x4" bread loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda and baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the eggs, canola oil, cinnamon applesauce, vanilla, and sugar, whisking well until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chopped apples, then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

This bread is moist and really packs a BIG cinnamon punch. If you love cinnamon as much as I do, this recipe will surely please your palate. The cloves really add a hint of essential flavor, but serve more to give the cinnamon flavor an even bigger boost. The chunks of apple add just the right amount of crunch for a nice textural contrast, and they are a sweet surprise when you bite into one in the midst of your moist, cinnamon-y bread.

What is your all-time favorite sweet bread to make?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stuffed Shells

I recently came upon a fantastic new blog - Iowa Girl Eats - and have since spent quite a few afternoons browsing through her recipes, pictures, workout suggestions, and more. She really has built up quite an enjoyable and diverse selection of Internet reading.

One of the things I love about spending hours on the Internet scouring Pinterest and Facebook for fun new ideas and finding blogs to follow is that I see so much that inspires me. Not just in the kitchen- in life, in general. Whether it's uncovering a delicious new recipe to try or a new activity to try with my kids, there are a lot of creative, brilliant people out there sharing their ideas with others, and I can only hope to inspire others someday the way I feel inspired when I meander through the random musings of any given fellow blogger or Pinterest addict...

Anyways, back to Iowa Girl Eats... I happened across her recipe for Stuffed Shells last week sometime, and it was one of those recipes that I saw and knew instantly that it would be making its debut on our next weekly menu. It did, and just as I expected, it didn't disappoint!

This recipe is simple to throw together, and it can be made ahead of time, if desired. It would be perfect to assemble on the weekend when you have a little extra time, and then throw it in the oven on a busy weeknight to have a hearty and delectable dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Here is what you will need to make Stuffed Shells:

- 1 box of jumbo shells (approximately 24)
- 1/3 cup reserved cooking water from pasta
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsp. garlic paste
- salt, pepper, & Italian seasoning to taste (I used approximately 1/2 tsp. of each)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. 1/3 fat cream cheese
- 1 cup shredded Italian-mix blend cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 24 oz. marinara sauce

1. Cook shells according to package instructions. Reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside. If you are doing this step earlier on before you start preparing your meat, you may want to drizzle a little olive oil over the shells to keep them from sticking together.
2. Cook the onion, garlic paste, and beef until it's cooked through and no longer pink. Stir in the seasonings, the reserved pasta water, the Parmesan cheese, the egg, the cream cheese, and the Italian-mix shredded cheese.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. In a 9x13" baking dish, pour approximately 1/2 to 1 cup of the marinara sauce to evenly and thoroughly coat the bottom. Spoon the meat mixture into the cooked shells, then place in the baking dish. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the stuffed shells, then top with the mozzarella cheese. (It is at this point where you can cover the dish with foil and refrigerate to bake at a later time.)
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is completely melted. If desired, place dish directly under the broiler for a few minutes to give the cheese a nice, golden brown color.

(Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats - Stuffed Shells Recipe)

We served these cheesy shells of goodness with a mixed greens salad and some good old bread and butter. The meal was filling, well-balanced, and palate-pleasing. The meat filling was so flavorful and had a wonderful, almost creamy texture. The kids loved it, too, so as you know, that always receives bonus points at our house!

These Stuffed Shells really felt like comfort food at its best, but the satisfaction came without the heaviness and guilt that often times follows classic comfort food. Remember, everything in moderation... so eat up and ENJOY!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cake Mix Cookies X2

Things have been crazy busy lately, and I have a feeling that they are going to get even busier before they slow down! I skimped out on a post last week because time just completely eluded me, so I wanted to make it up to you by giving you two recipes in one post.

One of my friends asked if I would donate some baked goods to her roller derby team to give away as prizes in their fundraiser bingo event. I was honored that she thought of me, and of course I agreed. I needed something quick, yet still delicious, so I decided to try out some of the cake mix cookies I have seen various types of popping up everywhere.I also wanted to use ingredients I already had on hand, so here is what I came up with!

The first cookie I decided to name White Chocolate Toffee Nutty Crunch Cookies, and here is what you will need to make them:

- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 stick butter or margarine, softened
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. peanut butter
- 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup toffee chips
- 6 Nutter Butter cookies, crushed

Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl, saving the white chocolate chips, toffee chips, and cookies for last. Drop cookies by the tablespoon-full (small cookie scoop) 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

So full of flavor and fun textures, these cookies will not disappoint!

The second cookie I came up with I decided to call Pecan Cinnamon Roll Cake Mix Cookie, and here is what you will need to make them:

-  l box yellow cake mix
- 1 stick butter or margarine, softened
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup glazed pecans, chopped finely

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, saving the pecans to stir in last. Drop cookies by the tablespoon-full (small cookie scoop) 2 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for five minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Rich, buttery, and full of cinnamon flavor with a delightful crunch of pecans.
These cookies were SO easy to whip up on short notice, and you could do pretty much a million different variations on these. It is no wonder why they have caught on and spread like wildfire. I look forward to experimenting more with different types of cake mixes and other mix-ins. What are some of your favorite go-to recipes when you have to come up with something quickly?