Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hot Cocoa

Who's ready for some hot cocoa? Lately it has been FREEZING here, and nothing warms me up faster than a nice cup of hot cocoa. The little Swiss Miss packs are great in a pinch, but nothing beats homemade hot cocoa. It's so rich and creamy and delicious. Give it a try and surprise your kids or hubby or friends. They'll appreciate you, I promise. This recipe is how my mom always made it for us, but I'm pretty sure it's very close if not the same as what's on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box.

Hot Cocoa

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla and half and half. Divide between 4 mugs.
Top with marshmellows or whipped cream. Enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Classic Spritz Cookies

These were so easy to make and so much fun to decorate. They made my neighbor goodie plates extra cute this year. If you don't have a cookie press, I suggest you get one... as soon as you can. It is so much fun to use and they are cheap. I picked mine up for less than 15 bucks. The kids and I have really enjoyed making and decorating these little cuties. Plus they are a classic cookie that just tastes good. And how can you resist the tininess? They are just too cute.
Classic Spritz Cookies
1 1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 1/2 cup all - purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Preaheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Thoroughly cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat well.
Stir together flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, mixing to make a smooth dough. Do not chill. Place dough in your cookie press and press cookies onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.
Remove cookies from sheet; cook on wire rack.
Have fun decorating!
Makes 7 -8 dozen cookies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Soft Caramels

*I'm using Melanie's picture from My Kitchen Cafe until I get my picture downloaded. I can't find my card reader.
I finally started and finished my Christmas goodie plates. I decided to try some new things this year instead of my old standard tried and true goodies that I always do. It has been really fun! There has been one total fail so far, but the rest have been yummy successes.

My first experiment was Caramels! I've always wanted to try my hand at them, but was intimidated. That is all changed now. They are not hard at all, they just take a little bit of time and watching. They turned out so incredible!! This was a huge success and I hope you try it. You won't be disappointed.
I found the recipe on My Kitchen Cafe.
This particular caramel recipe is unusual in that you don't need to stir after adding the second half of the sweetened condensed milk. This is a bonus because you don't need to slave away at the stove stirring for hours - but still be careful to check your candy thermometer often to make sure the correct temperature has been reached (and not exceeded!). Also, in order for the caramel not to scorch, remember to cook the caramel over medium-low heat. This requires time and patience because the caramel won't cook as quickly as at high heat, but trust me, unscorched caramels are worth the wait! This really does take a long time, almost an hour. Make sure when you stir in the vanilla that your spoon doesn't touch the bottam of the pan.

*Finally, when pouring the caramel onto a buttered baking sheet, do not scrape the caramel from the bottom and sides of the pan. Simply turn the pan and let the cooked caramel roll out onto the baking sheet - when it has stopped flowing out, stop pouring and resist the temptation to scrape up the caramel stuck to the sides and bottom. You don't want the icky stuff left over on the pan.

2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk (add only ½ to begin with)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9X13-inch pan. Set aside.

In a medium heavy saucepan, add sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk, salt and butter. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to ensure the sugar is completely melted, bring the mixture to a boil and add the rest of the sweetened condensed milk when it begins to boil. Insert the candy thermometer and clip onto your pan at this point. Once the second half of the condensed milk has been added and the mixture is boiling again, stop stirring to prevent sugar crystallization (which means the caramels will have a grainy texture). Boil the mixture still at medium-low heat, without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (234 degrees F). If you like your caramels a bit firmer, you can cook them up to 248 degrees F, which is firm ball stage but I prefer mine really soft (I will warn you that most people find this stage a bit too soft so use your best judgment and preference). When the caramel reaches the right temperature, immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and toasted pecans (if using). Carefully pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan without scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the caramel cool completely before cutting into squares and wrapping in waxed paper.

* I cooked mine until about 240 degrees F and they are the absolute perfect softness. Not too hard, not too soft, just right.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Candy Cane Cupcakes

Here is a fun Christmas treat recipe for you! These are really fun to make and they look so cute and festive. I found them on Baking Bites, one of my favorite recipe sites. One of my favorite parts of these cute little cupcakes is the red and white patterned center. When you take a bite, it's festive treat. I forgot to take a picture of the inside though! The burst of peppermint flavor is such a nice surprise, especially when paired with the vanilla cream cheese frosting. I'm not a huge cupcake fan, but these are gooooood!
Note: This recipe only makes twelve cupcakes. I doubled the recipe with great success and had enough batter to make 12 mini cupcakes from a mini muffin pan in addition to 24 cupcakes.

Candy Cane Christmas Cupcakes

2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until mixture is light and creamy and the sugar has mostly been dissolved. Stir in milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and peppermint extracts. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into wet ingredients and whisk just until batter is smooth. Measure out one cup of batter and place it back in the medium bowl. Add red food coloring to this bowl and whisk to incorporate. Put a spoonful (approx 2-3 tsp) of the white batter into the center each cupcake paper and let it spread slightly on its own. Put a spoonful of red batter in the center of the white. It will push out the other batter and, as it sits for a moment, will also spread itself. Alternating spoonfuls of the two batters and trying to keep the amounts as even as possible (after the first layer, I used smaller amounts of red and white with each spoonful), repeat the technique until all the batter has been used up. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
green food coloring (optional, but recommended for the holidays)

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. Beat until smooth, then mix in vanilla extract, milk and 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar. Beat until very smooth, then gradually blend in additional sugar until frosting is fluffy, thick and easy to spread. Beat in up to 1/2 tsp green food coloring to dye the frosting, if you wish. Frosting can be spread onto the cupcakes or piped using a piping bag.

This is how the cupcakes should look before being baked. Mine are a little messy but you can see how each layer of batter pushes the other layer out a bit.

This is how they look after being baked. They look so neat when you bite into them. Plus the burst of peppermint is a wonderful surprise.I made a big batch for a party and they were a hit. No one suspected the peppermint flavor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Easiest Pumpkin Cookies ever!!

From the looks of the ingredients you would not think that these taste as good as they do. It's amazing how great they taste and how easy they are!! This is going in my emergency file for when I need to bring something quick!
The finishing touch is a drizzle of cinnamon frosting... Yumm and drool. To die for.

Easy Pumpkin Cookies

1 box Spice cake mix
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix the cake mix and pumpkin till moist and smooth. Add chocolate chips. Roll into 1 inch balls and bake at 350 degrees for 11-15 minutes.

See how incredibly easy? It's just amazing to me how someone figured this out... I got this recipe by word of mouth from my aunt.

Cinnamon Frosting

1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Splash of milk if needed

Mix together until smooth and. Add more cinnamon if desired.

Coming up is a great snack recipe made with this frosting. You won't want to miss it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Honey Lime Enchiladas

Ummm... wow! Can we all say YUM!! These were so incredibly tasty. I've been meaning to make these for a long time, and I'm so glad I got around to it. I love enchiladas anyway, but this recipe gives them such a fun twist that even if you don't like enchiladas... you'll like these.
They were a little spicy for my kids, but I think it was the green enchilada sauce I used.
I found this treasure on My Kitchen Cafe. She's got the best stuff.

Honey Lime Enchiladas

6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice (1 large lime)
1 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded (about 3 small chicken breasts)
8-10 flour tortillas
1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1 cup heavy cream (to lighten them up, I have substituted sour cream with good results)

Mix the first four ingredients and toss with shredded chicken. Let it marinate for at least 1/2 hour (I tossed mine together in a ziploc bag in the morning and let it sit in the refrigerator all day). Pour about 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9X13 baking pan. Fill flour tortillas with chicken and shredded cheese, saving about 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of enchiladas. Mix the remaining enchilada sauce with the cream and leftover marinade. Pour sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until brown and crispy on top.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oreo Truffles

Oreo truffles are easy, impressive, and oh so tasty. There are a million different sources for this recipe, so I'll just post the one I know best. I'm sure there are different ways to do these, but I've had great success with my way. My mouth waters just thinking of them. Yum! They are perfect for a party or special occasion.

Oreo Truffles

1 pkg. OREO Cookies, finely crushed, (I like to use the holiday red cream oreo)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate or white chocolate, melted (I find that almond bark works just as well)
Mix the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls.

Dip balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) To easily coat truffles with the melted chocolate, add truffles, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate. Then use two forks to roll truffles in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove the truffles with forks and allow excess chocolate to drip back into bowl before placing truffles on prepared baking sheet

Top with cookie crumbs, sprinkles, or drizzled white chocolate.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Root Beer Cookies

I found these cookies on Real Mom Kitchen and was instantly intrigued. We are Root Beer fans in this family. They turned out very interesting. The hint of root beer wasn't as strong as I had first imagined, and if I had not known what was in them, I'm not entirely sure I could guess that they were root beer flavored. BUT, they were very good and I loved the frosting. I'd like to play around with the recipe a bit and see if I can get the Root Beer flavor to be stronger but not overwhelming.

Root Beer Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. root beer extract (also called concentrate)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water (optional–only use if dough is too dry)
Root Beer frosting (recipe below)

Cream butter and dark brown sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the root beer extract. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add a little at a time to the creamed mixture. The dough should be slightly sticky.

Chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease several baking sheets, or line them with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Roll into small balls (about 1″ diameter).

Place them on the pan, leaving a bit of space between the cookies. Gently press the tops of the dough. (If you leave out the water, sometimes the cookies don’t spread very much.) Bake for 6-8 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through. Makes about 4 dozen.

Frosting Recipe

1 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. root beer extract (also called concentrate)
a few tablespoons hot water

Beat butter on high with an electric mixer until it is fluffy. Add a little powdered sugar and the root beer extract. Beat until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar alternately with a little hot water until a nice spreading consistency has been reached.

Frost the cooled cookies and let stand for a few minutes to let the frosting set up. (It should dry a bit on the top.) You can leave out the root beer extract and you’ll have a tasty, soft brown sugar cookie.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Moo Shu Noodles

My oldest daughter has been begging me to make a dinner we can use chopsticks to eat with. So as I was browsing My Kitchen Cafe, I found this little gem, and knew it was the one. As I scanned the list of ingredients, I got a little nervous, and excited, because there are quite a few things that I don't keep on hand and I don't regularly cook with. So by the time I finished preparing dinner, I felt quite gourmet. And the best part is that it's not even a difficult recipe. It just uses some yummy, ethnic ingredients that give the dish so much flavor. I really loved this.I thought it turned out delicious... much better than chinese take out. The only modification I made was I used chicken instead of pork.
My kids thought it was a bit too spicy, so next time I'll try to remedy that. We had a lot of fun eating with chopsticks.

Moo Shu Noodles

12-ounces fettuccine
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 eggs, beaten
3 medium-sized boneless pork chops, thinly sliced (it is easier to slice thinly if pork chops are slightly frozen)
Ground black pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ginger (about a 2-inch piece), peeled and grated
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 pound mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 small head Napa or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth

Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil. When the water comes up to a bubble, add some salt and drop in the fettuccine. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and reserve.

Combine the hoisin and soy sauce together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat one tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add eggs and scramble. When done, scrape them onto a plate and reserve.

In the same skillet heat two tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes (don't overcook or pork will be tough!). Remove the meat from the pan onto the same plate as the eggs and keep warm.

Add the scallions, ginger and garlic to the pan, and cook until aromatic and the scallions are tender, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms to the pan and stir-fry until golden brown, 4-5 minutes.

Add the cabbage to the pan and stir-fry until tender, about 3 minutes. When the cabbage is tender, add the reserved pork and scrambled eggs back to the pan along with the hoisin-soy mixture and the chicken broth. Stir-fry to fully heat through, about 1 minute, and then toss with the reserved cooked pasta. Cook to heat through and serve.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mom's Pumpkin Bread

Mmmm... Yummy pumpkin bread.... This was one of my favorite treats during the fall and holiday seasons growing up, and it still is today. My mom used to make this pumpkin bread to give out to neighbors and we would always beg her to keep some for us. She usually kept a loaf or two for her ravenous family, but it was never enough. ;) I could eat a whole loaf myself at one sitting. And the Cream Cheese frosting on top is a must. It finishes the bread deliciously and beautifully.Mom's Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I use half olive oil and half vegetable oil)
4 eggs (beaten)
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup applesauce
2/3 cup water

Mix sugar and oil until smooth. Add eggs and mix.
Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients 1/2 cup at a time. Add pumpkin, applesauce, and water. Mix until smooth.
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Usually makes 2 to 3 loafs depending on your loaf pan size.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz cream cheese
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk

Melt cream cheese and butter in microwave until soft. Beat with beater about 1 minute or until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time alternately with milk until desired consistency and taste is reached.

You can also make into cute mini loaves. These are really dangerous. They are deliciously cute.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spooky Spiders and Creepy Critters

I just love Halloween. There are so many fun snacks and treats to make. I love making them (and eating them) just as much as my kids. These were so much fun to make, and turned out super cute. My kids were absolutely ecstatic about these spooky spiders and creepy critters. They didn't taste half bad either. ;)

Spooky Spiders

Halloween Oreos
1 tsp. frosting
Mini M&M's
Black string licorice

For each cookie, cut eight 1 1/2 inch pieces of licorice for legs. Insert four pieces into the filling on each side of each cookie.
With the frosting, attach 2 mini M&M's to the top of each cookie for eyes.
And Voila! Spooky, but yummy spiders!

Creepy Critters

HoHo's or similar chocolate snack cakes
Chocolate and vanilla frosting
Assorted candy (we used M&M's, Mike and Ike's, candy corn, and mentos)
Fruit roll-ups

For each critter, use icing to attach candy however you want.
Cut fruit roll-up into tongue shapes; attach to cakes.
Pipe teeth with frosting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kit Kat Bars

I got this recipe from my good friend, Paula Deen. ;) (Don't I wish she was my friend!!)Chocolatey, caramely, buttery goodness. I don't think they taste a lot like a Kit Kat bar, but they are still absolutely delicious. And unfortuneately a bit addicting. I like these because they are quick to throw together, and there is no baking required. They are perfect to take to a potluck get together with friends or family.
Make sure you have somewhere to take them, because if you don't, you'll more than likely eat the whole pan by yourself.
I think this recipe is very versatile as well. Once I made them and ran out of Club crackers so I used Nilla wafers for the top layer. They tasted just as good. And another time, I didn't have butterscotch chips, so I used extra chocolate chips. This gave it a little bit of a different taste, but I still really like the bar. Play around with ingredients... it's fun.

Kit Kat Bars

80 club crackers
1 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup fimrly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels

Line an ungreased 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an extension of foil on either end. Line the foil with 1 layer of club crackers, cutting to fit if necessary.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, milk and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 miutes, stirring constantly. (Begin timing 5 minutes from when you see the first bubbles.) Remove from heat and spread half of butter mixture evenly over crackers. Place another single layer of crackers evenly over butter mixture, cutting to fit if necessary. Spread remaining butter mixture evenly over crackers. Top evenly with remaining crackers.

In a small saucepan (or in the microwave), combine peanut butter, chocolate morsels, and butterscotch morsels. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over top of crackers. Cover, and chill for at least 1 hour. Lift foil overhang and remove bars from pan. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friendship Dip

This is such an easy dip to make. It's surprisingly yummy and addicting. When I first saw the ingredients, I wasn't too sure, but I thought I'd give it a go. And now I've been making it for quite awhile, and I always get the same results. Yummy and addicting!

Friendship Dip
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (15 oz) can of chili
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
Lots of shredded cheddar cheese
sliced olives
diced green onion (optional)

In a large pie plate (or a pizza pan will work) spread cream cheese. Then layer on top of cream cheese in this order: chili, green chilies, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced olives. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and melted (approximately 20-25 minutes). Garnish with green onion and serve with tortilla chips.
I always double the recipe because it goes fast.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Mini Cheesecake Bites

The title alone is a mouthful, but let me tell you... these are so incredibly delicious. I found the recipe on Picky Palate, and new that I had to try them out immediately.
I was surprised and delighted at how easy they were to whip together and how yummy they turned out. These are definitely one of my favorite cheescake bite recipes to date.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Mini Cheesecake Bites

8 whole Oreos, finely ground in food processor

1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter

8 oz softened cream cheese

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Caramel Dip or topping (I used Harry & David Gourmet Caramel Topping, but any you have or can find will work fine)

*12 Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses, unwrapped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine ground Oreos and melted butter into a bowl until well combined. Spoon into 12 mini cheesecake cups that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Press into the bottom of each cup so the crust is flat. Partially bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven.

2. In a stand or electric mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin until smooth. Beat in egg, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Pour evenly into the 12 cups filling about 3/4 way full. Spoon about a teaspoon of caramel into the tops of each filled cup and swirl with a toothpick gently. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until cheesecake is cooked through. Let cool completely.

3. Remove cheesecakes from pan and top each with a spoonful of remaining caramel and a Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kiss. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I also made some into regular cupcake pan size, and they turned out just as cute.

*I can't find the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses anywhere but Target, they are not at the Walmart or Albertsons that I shop at. So, if you are out of luck and can't find the Pumpkin Spice ones, don't let it discourage you. Make them anyway and use a different flavor of Hershey Kiss.

Friday, October 9, 2009

S'mores Bars

This has always been one of my favorite fall treats. I don't know why, but we usually only make them in the fall... so to me they are fall treats. My kids love helping me make them, and the whole panful is soon devoured. It's an easy, fun treat that requires no oven.

S'mores Bars

8 cups Golden Graham Cereal
5 cups miniature
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup light corn syrup
5 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup miniature

Measure and pour cereal into a large bowl. Butter a 13x9-inch pan. In large microwavable bowl, microwave 5 cups marshmallows, the chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter uncovered on High 2 to 3 minutes at 30 seconds intervals, stirring after every minute, until melted and smooth when stirred. Stir in vanilla.
Pour over cereal; quickly toss until completely coated. Stir in 1 cup marshmallows.
Press mixture evenly in pan, using buttered back of spoon. Let stand uncovered at least 1 hour, or refrigerate if you prefer a firmer bar. For squares, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered at room temperature up to 2 days.
Stove-Top Directions: Into large bowl, measure cereal. Butter 13x9-inch pan. In 3-quart saucepan, heat 5 cups marshmallows, the chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Continue as directed above.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Painted Hot Dog Butterflies

This is a really fun kid dinner, lunch, or snack idea. I got the idea from Gourmet Mom on the Go of course. She always has the best kid-friendly food ideas. My kids LOVED this, and beg me every night to do it again. I have to admit that when Dad is working late or gone, it really helps to have a fun project for the kids to do... and combining it with dinner is a genius idea.

Painted Butterflies
Hot Dogs
Refrigerator biscuits (like Grands or any brand)
1 egg
food coloring
pretzel sticks
cheese, ketchup, or mustard (for the face)
small paintbrushes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet or cake pan. Give each child two biscuits and a hot dog.
Help them cut each biscuit in half, turn one half over, and place on pan as the "wings". Repeat with the other biscuit. Lay the hot dog on top of the wings.
To make paints, put one egg and one tablespoon water in a small bowl and mix well. Pour a small amount of egg mixture in several bowls (however many colors you want) and add a drop or two of different food colorings.
Give each child a clean paintbrush and let them paint their "butterfly wings".
Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown. Add two pretzel sticks for antannae and either ketchup/mustard/cheese/whatever you want for two eyes and mouth. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable and dinner's ready!
I also let them paint the leftover biscuits and we had them in the morning with sausage and eggs. They loved seeing their painted biscuits the next morning.
Note: You may want to buy the Pillsbury biscuits for the best effect. We used the Great Value brand and as you can see the wings were not as full and big as they should be. (But my kids didn't seem to mind)
*First picture and recipe courtesy of Gourmet Mom On the Go.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe. I know that every time I make these, they will turn out superbly fantastic. It's a variation of the chocolate chip cookies that my mom and I used to make when I was growing. There is just nothing better than a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven with a nice cold glass of milk. Of course, my kids and I like to spruce them up with mini M&M's, but no matter what chips you put in, it's a great recipe all around.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour and chocolate chips. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

I've been a bit busy... with having a new baby and all. But I have a few recipes that I was saving just for now because I knew I wouldn't be up to cooking for a little while. Sorry it's taken me awhile to post. But don't worry, I'll be up and experimenting in the kitchen in no time. ;)

Now on to a delicious dessert. My mom has been making this for years. It's so yummy, and so easy!! Perfect for a last minute potluck dessert.

Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

1 stick melted butter
1 1/2 c. crushed pretzels
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 lg. container Cool Whip
1 c. sugar
1 (6 oz.) pkg. strawberry Jello
1 lg. pkg. frozen strawberries or fresh, cut into fourths

Mix melted butter, pretzels, and 1/2 cup sugar together and press into 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 6 minutes at 350 degrees.
Dissolve Jello in 2 cups boiling water and add frozen strawberries. Put in refrigerator and let gel.
Combine cream cheese, Cool Whip, and 1/2 cup sugar; put on top of crumbs. When Jello is starting to set, pour over cheese layer and refrigerate until firm.
Before serving, garnish with fresh strawberries.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fillo Peanut Butter Cups

These are a tasty, yummy, EASY, impressive party treat. I got the recipe from several sources, but mostly I was looking for an impressive treat for a party that was easy to make and didn't take any time. These were perfect!! And everyone was raving about them. No one could believe how easy they were when I told them. I barely got to taste one because they were gone so fast. I can't wait to have a party and make them again!

Fillo Peanut Butter Cups

1 box (1.9 oz) mini– fillo shells (15 in box)
15 miniature peanut butter cups
1 can (7 oz) whipped light cream (or you could pipe on homemade whipped cream)Any toppings you like

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place fillo shells on baking sheet.
2. Place a peanut butter cup in each shell. Bake 5 minutes until chocolate softens. With small metal spatula or knife, flatten and even out chocolate in fillo cup. You just want the peanut butter cup to sit on the bottom of the fillo shell. Let stand at room temperature until cooled.
3. Top each filled cup with whipped cream. Sprinkle with any topping you like (peanuts, sprinkles, chocolate shavings.)
**Bottam picture borrowed from Miranda's Recipes

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hazelnut Nutella Banana Bread... and Mini Loaves

I have been wanting to make banana bread for a long time, but since my kids are monkeys I just can't keep bananas until they hit the over ripe stage. I went to the store 4 times before I finally decided to just hide 2 bananas for my precious banana bread. I do not like walnuts in banana bread at all, so I was researching online for a yummy banana bread recipe and I saw a recipe from Baking Bites for Hazelnut Banana Bread, and then I had the most marvelous idea to add Nutella... Best. Idea. Ever!!!!
It was so delicious that my husband ate the entire loaf except a small piece I saved for myself. So, of course, I had to make some more. My second batch I made into mini loaves and left out the Hazelnuts, so it was a slight variation to the first loaf, but just as delicious. I think I prefer the bread without the hazelnuts and with more Nutella... how can you ever get enough of that delightful, chocolatey concoction? Not possible.

Hazelnut Nutella Banana Bread

1 cup whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
4-5 Tbsp Nutella

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a food processor, pulse whole hazelnuts until finely ground. Add in sugars, eggs, vanilla and bananas and whizz until well-combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to the food processor and pulse to incorporate. Add half of the milk and pulse again. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk and the remaining flour.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add in the butter and whizz for several seconds to incorporated it.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Melt Nutella in the microwave with a cup of hot water. When Nutella becomes runny or pourable, swirl into loaf. Leave some on top for a crunchy crust.
Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf.

I didn't quite get my Nutella swirled in enough on my first loaf, but it was still delicious. I also didn't use a food processer to mix my ingredients because I don't have one. Definitely use one if you have one to make everything nice and smooth.

Now onto the Mini Loaves. Aren't they the cutest things you've ever seen?

For the mini loaves, I left out the hazelnuts, but kept the rest of the recipe the same. I decided to do 3 variations. One plain, one with semi-sweet chocolate chips, and one with Nutella swirled in. Just make the recipe and pour into a mini loaf pan. Decide what additions you want and have fun. I have to say my absolute favorite was the Nutella, but very close second was the chocolate chip. Look how nice and swirled this mini loaf is. It was absolutely delicious! And so pretty.
They looked so cute all wrapped up as little gifts. The possibilites are endless with these delcious little treats. Have fun and let me know if you find a new combination that I didn't try.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

My mom gave me 5 pounds of frozen blueberries, so I've been trying out some new recipes using blueberries. Of course, the first one I had to try was Blueberry Pancakes. Yum! These were so delicious. I think they tasted better than any that I have had at a restaurant. I've always been a breakfast person so lots of times we'll have breakfast for dinner. We've been doing that a lot lately. I could eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

2 c. sifted unleavened cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder1/2 tsp. salt
4 lg. eggs, separated
2 c. buttermilk
4 tbsp. unsalted butte
r, melted and cooled
2 full cups frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
butter for greasing skillet

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to blend. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and buttermilk to blend slightly. In another
bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form when beater is raised. Set aside briefly.

Add the yolk mixture to
the flour mixture and mix lightly with a fork until flour is moistened. Stir in the cooled melted butter. The batter should be lumpy. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
Preheat the skillet. Lightly grease the skillet before each batch of pancakes.
Pour out the batter to make four inch rounds. Quickly drop about six to eight frozen berries onto each pancake. Test for doneness by lifting a corner of a pancake with a metal spatula. When golden brown, turn over and cook about 30 seconds on the other side. Serve with warmed maple syrup.
Makes between 18 and 22 four inch pancakes. Pancakes may be frozen and reheated.