Oatmeal Chocolate Fudge Bars

Lately, I've been so incredibly sick with my pregnancy that the only thing that I'm really able to keep down is chocolate. Yes chocolate. I'm not a doctor but I'm pretty sure the baby needs food, so I've convinced myself that if I mix things that are sort of healthy (like oatmeal) with chocolate, then I'm at least getting something nutritional in my diet. This mentality means that every grocery store run leads me to the baking aisle where I pick up a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips just in case I can't keep the other 'healthy food' in my cart down (If you're a nutritionist or health expert reading this, then I'm sure you're cringing right now). Next I turn to Pinterest to find a recipe involving semi-sweet chocolate chips - thankfully there are a ton.

Lifestyle Hunting Oatmeal Chocolate Fudge Bars

Last night I was browsing Pinterest (bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in hand) when I came across this recipe for Oatmeal Fudge Bars. I immediately had to make them, did you see the Instagram picture? They really are to-die-for! 

I've listed the full recipe for your baking pleasure below, just remember to pick up a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips the next time you're in the baking aisle (and maybe some of the other ingredients too!) :) 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups oatmeal

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together:

  • 1 can eagle’s brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Mix the butter, eggs and brown sugar. Add vanilla and milk. Slowly incorporate the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix well. I prefer using a stand mixer since it’s quite thick.
  • Spread 3/4 of the cookie mixture on the bottom of a greased 13×9 pan, pour chocolate mixture, then spread rest of cookie mixture on tops in spoonfuls (won’t cover completely-but will leave cool designs). The top can tend to get done before it’s completely cooked, so you can put aluminum foil over it for the last five or so if it looks like it’s browning too much. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, otherwise it won’t set up and will just run when you cut into it.

Enjoy! 

 

 

 

A New Take on Celebrity Bakery's Thumbprint Cookies

For Mother's Day dessert this year, I decided to try something a little different and bake up a new rendition of my mom's favorite thumb print cookies from Celebrity Bakery. A quick search on Pinterest revealed dozens of different options for thumbprint cookies. I went for this simple, quick and easy thumbprint recipe (it also had the most pins). 

Thumb Print Cookies:

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 F

  • Cream butter, sugar and egg together
  • Gradually add flour to butter mixture
  • Pinch off enough dough to form 1 inch balls
  • Roll dough until balls are relatively smooth
  • Place balls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet
  • Use indention in each ball with thumb or spoon
  • Bake for 8 minutes
  • Remove cookies from oven and place on cooling rack

Now for the icing... 

Over the holidays, I made a three layered carrot cake that had the most incredible cream cheese icing. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the recipe called for a lot more icing than was necessary for the cake. This left me with a huge bowl of leftover icing. To keep myself from eating the icing straight out of the bowl, I decided to use it on a fresh batch of sugar cookies and the result was incredible. I know that thumbprint cookies aren't traditionally made with cream cheese icing but I remembered how incredible those cream cheese frosted sugar cookies were and thought, why not do it again? I decided to use the same recipe but cut it in half and the results were just as good as I anticipated. The best part, my mom absolutely loved them!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (depending on your desired consistency & sweetness of frosting)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and the cream cheese. Slowly blend in the powdered sugar and vanilla, then beat until smooth and well-combined. 

Tip: The longer you whip this frosting, the lighter and fluffier it will become.

 

Bob Armstrong Dip

As someone who was raised in Dallas, I never really knew exactly who Bob Armstrong was, but I did know about his famous queso dip. Offered as an appetizer at Matt's Rancho Martinez, and catered to many a Dallas party, Bob Armstrong Dip is seriously the best queso I've ever had the pleasure of trying. 

In honor of Texas Independence Day, I thought I'd share a little background on this addicting queso concoction and offer up a recipe adapted from Homesick Texan

About 43 years ago or so, Robert “Bob” Armstrong walked into Matt’s El Rancho in Austin and asked the owner’s son, Matt Martinez, Jr., to surprise him with something new. Bob Armstrong was the Texas Land Commissioner at the time, and was not only a powerful guy but also a regular customer. Matt wanted to make him happy. 

The story goes that Matt went into the kitchen, grabbed a large bowl and ladled into it some taco meat. Next, he hid the taco meat under a generous helping of creamy chile con queso and finished with dollops of guacamole and sour cream on top. He then took the bowl out to Bob and presented him with his kitchen creation. 

At first Bob looked at the bowl, wrinkled his nose and said, “That’s just queso. I wanted something different!” But Matt insisted he try it and when Bob dipped his chip into the queso and discovered the layer of taco meat, he grinned and proceeded to eat the whole bowl without further comment. 

The next day, people came into Matt’s El Rancho asking for a bowl of Bob Armstrong’s dip. None of the wait staff knew what the heck they were talking about until Matt Martinez, Jr. figured out they were asking for the off-the-menu queso he’d made for Bob the day before. Apparently, Bob Armstrong had returned to the Texas state capitol and told everyone they had to try Matt’s queso with taco meat, guacamole, and sour cream. And at that moment, a chile con queso legend was born. 

In later years, other queso compuestos, as that genre of chile con queso is called, also rose to prominence—quesos such as Kerbey Lane’s Kerbey Queso topped with guacamole and pico de gallo, and Magnolia Café’s Mag Mud with its refried black beans layered into the silky cheese. But Bob Armstrong Dip, as Matt’s queso creation is now officially known, may just be my favorite. 

You can now find Bob dip in both Austin and Dallas, where Matt Martinez, Jr. later moved to open a few restaurants of his own. 

Ingredients for the taco meat:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, and diced
1 jalapeño, seeded, stemmed, and diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne

Ingredients for the guacamole:
2 Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
Salt

Ingredients for the chile con queso:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 jalapeños, seeded, stemmed, and diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup chicken broth
1 pound American cheese, shredded
1 cup grape tomatoes, diced
Salt
Sour cream, for garnishing
Tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions:
To make the taco meat, in a large skillet heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the bell pepper, jalapeño, and onion. While stirring occasionally, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. 

Add the ground beef to the skillet, along with the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir until everything is well combined and then cook the ground beef for 15 more minutes, or until browned. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and drain any excess grease. 

Meanwhile, to make the guacamole, mash together the avocado, lime juice, and cilantro. Add salt to taste. 

To make the queso, in a saucepot heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the jalapeño and onion. While stirring occasionally, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. 

Leaving on the heat, stir in the cumin, black pepper, and cornstarch until the dry ingredients are well combined with the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and while stirring cook until the sauce has thickened, which should happen in a couple of minutes. 

Turn the heat down to low and working in batches, slowly stir in a handful of the cheese. After it’s melted into the sauce, repeat the process until all the cheese is added. Stir in the tomatoes, adjust seasonings, and add salt to taste. 

This makes a lot of queso, so you can either serve it in individual bowls or in a larger dish, such as a 9-inch square dish. To assemble, layer along the bottom of the dish the taco meat, then pour in the queso and then top with the guacamole and sour cream. Serve warm with chips. 


Yield:
10-12 servings

Author:
Adapted by Lisa Fain from Matt Martinez’s book Matt’s Culinary Frontier