Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Chow Ideas

I love New Year's Eve.  I love being able to just snack all night long on appetizers (which is what our family does instead of a dinner), play games, watch the ball drop...I think that's pretty much all we do New Year's Eve.

So I thought I'd show you my favorite appetizers that would make your family/friends (whoever you're spending New Year's Eve with) happy that you're there.  I'm sure they'd be glad even if you didn't have food, but it always helps!:)

Here you go:
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(This is a favorite from my childhood!)





And just in case you're in the market for some snacks (perfect for snacking on during game time!), here's a couple good ones!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baking Powder Biscuits

I hope everyone had a joyous and merry Christmas! 

It's always kind of depressing for me when Christmas is over...all that anticipation and planning and fun family time, and then it's gone in a day!  This year especially seemed like it didn't last long enough.  I'm thinking a lot of that has to do with being so busy the week before Christmas (catered a Wedding...it was so beautiful!).  I didn't even have time to wrap presents until Christmas Eve, so our tree was bare of presents the entire month!  Which I guess could have been a good thing...the kids weren't able to poke and shake and figure everything out, but it also diminished the anticipation of "I wonder what this could be!" from the kiddo's. 

 But we had a fabulous Christmas.  The kid's were able to open their stockings and a couple of gifts on Christmas morning before we had to get ready for church.  The gifts they opened were new Sunday clothes.  It was so nice.  We didn't have to scramble around all morning looking for lost shoes, ties, socks, etc. and everyone looked so nice! (I'll include a picture at the end of this post)

So when my kid's and hubby are home I like to make some good breakfasts (instead of just cereal or oatmeal that they make themselves on school mornings!)  These biscuits are my Mom's recipe that have been around FOREVER!  And in my opinion they are the best biscuits.  Light and fluffy and perfect!  We had these with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, and hash browns.  What a breakfast!

Baking Powder Biscuits
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2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the shortening and cut into the mixture well using a pastry blender (or food processor...got one for Christmas...YEAH, thanks honey!).  Add the milk and blend until just moistened.  You do not want to over do it here or your biscuits or they will not be light and fluffy.  Knead dough on a floured surface for 30 seconds.  Roll out 3/4" thick and cut into circles. 

Bake at 400 degrees on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

NOTE: I always double the recipe for my family.  We love to have leftovers with butter and jam!  This recipe makes about 12 biscuits depending on what size circles you make.

And as promised...here's our family picture taken after church in front of our Christmas tree.
(Tony's off work so thinks he needs to not shave for 2 weeks...sorry!  And who knows what's going on with Eli's expression!:))
 
 
Oh, and Kyla was disappointed that no one could see her cute new shoes in this picture!  They are dark red ballet flats with cute little red pom-poms on them....just for her benefit!:)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

This is a revisted recipe from a while back.  It has become one of our favorite treats/snacks of all time! 

It also makes a great gift for those of you who are last minute gift givers!  Just dress it up a little and you've got a beautiful Christmas treat!

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn
Recipe from Our Best Bites
12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)
1 C pecan halves, roughly chopped
1 C brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 C Karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda
3 squares almond bark (about 4 oz)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a 2 liter capacity microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup over the top of everything.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. Mixture will foam and rise.


 Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir very well so everything is well coated.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.
Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and spread out on a large piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil.
Melt almond bark according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn mixture.

When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks and enjoy, or bag and enjoy later! (or bag and give as gifts:))

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've never been a big fan of raisins.  They have never been wanted in any of my baked goods (EXCEPT this one...I really like them in this!)...not in my cinnamon rolls, cookies, breads, etc. 

Craisins on the other hand, I love!  And what was the obvious choice to bake them in?  Cookies!  These were delicious.  I love the combination of the tart craisins with the sweet cookie and white chocolate.  And they look so festive for Christmas time.  I'm sure some neighbors would love to get a batch of these!

If you're a slacker like me, you haven't gotten around to giving any neighbor gifts yet.  And come to think of it, I have no idea when I would even fit it in this week.  So, I believe I'm going to be giving neighborhood New Year's treats instead this year...do you think this will be frowned upon??

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Dulce Dough
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1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Combine the flour and baking soda and then gradually add it to the butter mixture and mix well.  Now fold in the dried cranberries and baking chips. 

Using a medium sized cookie scoop, put dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 375°F for 8 - 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minute, then remove from pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Frosting

I already have a Cinnamon Roll with Maple Glaze on here, but this one needs to be here too.  And here's why. 

#1. The other recipe, although delicious, makes A TON!  Sometimes you just need a dozen, which is what this recipe makes. 

#2.  The other recipe takes time.  It's not hard by any means, but all the waiting you have to do in between steps takes too much time sometimes.  Especially when your husband (OK...MINE) tells you he'd like to take cinnamon rolls for a potluck at work and you've already made 4 batches of Twisty Breadsticks, and still have to make 4 dozen Snickers Cookies, you just need something a little quicker!  These I started at 9:30 as was done with them by 10:30!  That's pretty amazing for cinnamon rolls!

#3.  Sometimes you want an ooey gooey cinnamon roll and sometimes a nice firm dough is easier to handle (especially if you're sharing!)  This recipe has a firm dough...don't read that as dry or hard.  These are still soft and delicious, they just don't fall apart in your hands and create as big a mess.  (partly due to the frosting instead of the glaze used on top too.)

So, whichever recipe you decide to use, you won't be disappointed!  (also, you can omit the mapeline in the frosting if you don't really care for maple, but if you haven't tried the maple YOU'VE GOT TO!)

Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Frosting
Recipe from Jamie Cooks it Up!
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1 cup milk
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
5-6 cups flour

Filling:
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar

Maple Frosting:
4 tablespoons butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon mapeline
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk

Heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute.  Place the butter into the hot milk and let it sit until ready to use. 

Put 2 cups flour, salt, sugar, and the eggs into your mixer.  Let it mix for just a few seconds to coat the egg a little bit.  Pour in the hot water and the milk/butter mixture.  Mix for about 30 seconds.  Add the yeast and mix until combined. 

With the mixer on, add the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to "clean" it.   Once this happens let it mix for 5 minutes.

Spray your counter with cooking spray and form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 5 minutes before rolling out.  This will help with the rolling part, so don't skip this step!  Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/4 an inch thick.

Spread the butter over the dough and then sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon and make sure it's spread around evenly (use your hand...Tony-the hubby-says he could never do this because he hates the feel of sugar on his hands, and really who doesn't??  But as soon as your done just rinse it off in the sink...no harm done!)

Roll the dough to make a long "log" of cinnamon rolls.  (ok...maybe that wasn't the best term to use when cooking, sorry!:))  Spray a knife with cooking spray and cut the rolls into approximately 12 pieces about 1 inch thick.  If you wanted to be precise (which I wasn't after an eventful day of cooking) you can cut the long loaf in half, and then each half in half again.  Then cut each quarter into 3 pieces and you have 12 rolls.

Place your rolls on a large cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and put them in an over preheated to 170 degrees.  Close the door and let them rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.  Turn the oven up to 350 degrees (DO NOT take the rolls out of the oven!).  When oven is at 350 degrees bake the rolls until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, make your frosting.  Place the softened butter in your mixer and beat for about a minutes until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, mapeline, and vanilla.  Turn on your mixer to low and while it is running add the milk a little at a time until you have your desired consistency.  Beat for 1 minute.

Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes and then you can frost them.  Or you can let them cool completely and frost them then.  I like to frost them while they are still a little warm...the frosting will "melt" just a little and it is so good!

And there you have cinnamon rolls that are so good in about an hour!  Phew!:)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Banana Custard Pie

Alright, it's been a few weeks since Thanksgiving...anyone else ready for some more pie?  I know I wouldn't turn any down! 

Pies are always good year round I think, but they just don't get as much respect the rest of the year as compared to Thanksgiving!  I think that needs to be changed.  How are we going to do that???  I have no idea...but we can start with this recipe...you'll crave this pie year round!  It's a family favorite.

Banana Custard Pie
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1 pie crust, cooked and cooled
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
3 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe bananas

Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large glass microwave safe bowl.  Scald your milk by placing it in the microwave and heating it up.  You want it hot, but not quite boiling.  In my microwave it takes about 3 minutes.  Slowly pour and whisk the milk into the flour mixture and blend well.  Cook in the microwave for 3 minutes, whisking every minute.   Add the butter and vanilla and stir until butter is melted and itis combined. 

Slice bananas and add to the custard and mix.  Pour into the baked and cooled pie shell.  Cover and put in fridge until cooled, about 3-4 hours.  Top with Cool Whip or freshly whipped topping. 

YUM!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bean with Bacon Soup

It's amazing what a couple days of rest will do to a girl!  I feel so much better today...nice and relaxed (and not in pain!!) and ready to enjoy the rest of the holiday season!  Tony keeps telling me to take it easy and not do too much so as not to create too much tension and bring the pain back again...so I'M TRYING!  Good thing he looks after me!

I have a piano recital tonight and one of my favorite things about my recitals is getting to decide what refreshments to serve and being able to spend the whole day (and usually day before as well) cooking!  My kitchen pays for it, but it's so worth it!  I was going to do a cookie theme with hot chocolate and peppermint candy canes dipped in chocolate for stirring sticks, BUT on order from the hubby I have decided to take it a little easy, sooooo...it's store bought donuts and plain old hot chocolate tonight!:(  And oh, did I have some wonderful cookie recipes that I was so looking forward to trying!  But in the end it's not worth the stress, especially if it's going to beat up on my body!

So anyway, that has nothing to do with today's recipe.  Soup is something great that you can just throw together and let simmer...I LOVE that, especially when life is busy, and it's cold outside!  Perfect time for soup! 

We loved this soup so much, we made it twice last week, and the second time we made it I 1 1/2 times'd the recipe so we could have some leftovers for lunch!  YUM!  This one is a keeper!

Bean with Bacon Soup
Recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up!
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12 oz. package of bacon
1 small onion
4 large carrots
4 15 ounce cans Great Northern Beans
4 C water
2 bay leaves
1/4 t pepper
1 T beef bullion
3 T tomato paste
1 t liquid smoke (Mesquite or Hickory...we tired both and like both!)
2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 t salt
1/8 t basil, dried
1/4 t thyme, dried
2 T sugar
pinch red pepper flakes

 Chop up your bacon into about 1 inch chunks.  Toss them into a large soup pot and cook the bacon over medium high heat, just until the edges start to crisp. Do not over cook!

Chop your onions and carrots up into little small pieces and add to the bacon and cook for about 5 minutes longer or until the veggies are a little tender.  

Drain the juices of just 1 can of the beans and discard.  Add the drained beans to the soup pot along with the other 3 cans of beans WITH their juices.  Add all other ingredients and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 minutes. 

Enjoy...I know we did!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pomegranate Salad

I'm fighting some shoulder tension/pain right now and so I'm going to keep this one short & sweet!  (you're welcome:))

This is good...real GOOD.  It's so pretty and colorful and perfect for the holiday!  Don't let the raisins in it fool you, they are delicious in this (and I'm NOT a raisin lover!).  If you can't stand the idea of raisins you could substitute green grapes and just half them.  Enjoy!

Pomegranate Salad
PRINT RECIPE
4 to 5 Large Granny Smith Apples, or other TART CRISP apple variety (leave skins on, and slice in small chunks)
2 to 3 large pomegranates, with berries removed
1 to 1 1/2 cups GOLDEN Raisins
1 cup Sliced Almonds
1 Cup of Whipped Heavy Cream Whipped stiff & flavored with Vanilla and Powdered Sugar to taste.

Mix apples, berries, raisins & almonds together in large size bowl. Whip the cream until firm peaks form – add sugar & vanilla to taste. Mix whipped cream into fruit mixture. Serve immediately, or cover & keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Easy Peasy!:)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chocolate Mousse Cupcake in a Jar

It's a known fact in my universe that something that looks good will taste better, although I've had a few things that didn't look so appealing, but turned out amazing.  Also, it can't just look good, it's got to taste good too!  There's almost nothing worse than looking forward to diving into that something special that looks delicious only to be disappointed.  So when you find something that not only looks good but tastes amazing also, you've got a keeper!

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE!!  I saw this idea for Cupcakes in a Jar over at Glorious Treats and knew I'd have to find an excuse to try my hand at these...and I did!:)  They are delicious to the maximum and OH. SO. CUTE!

This was one of the most fun desserts to put together that I have ever made!  I really think Kyla would have loved to help me out with this one, but they had to be done yesterday afternoon while she was in school.:(  We'll have to make them again sometime so she can help!  They are really easy to make and throw together...a little time consuming, but worth it!  Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse Cupcake in a Jar
1 package Devil's Food Cake mix, plus ingredients listed on box
4-5 Kit Kat Bars, chopped
1 package (1 oz.) plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (like Knox)
3 Tablespoon cold water
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons boiling water
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cup whipping cream
3 teaspoon vanilla
24 1/2 pint jars

Prepare cake mix according to package directions and place into cupcake liners and bake accordingly.  Place on wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling you can start on the Chocolate Mousse.  Put the 3 tablespoons cold water into a small bowl and add the gelatin. Let sit for about a minute. While that is sitting, boil your water in the microwave. Add the boiling water to the gelatin and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.


Combine sugar, cocoa, whipping cream and vanilla in an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed, scraping the sides, until medium stiff peaks form. Add the cooled gelatin mixture and mix to combine.   Place in a large bowl, cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


Crumble your Kit Kats.  I like to just take the back end of a butter knife and bank them up while they are still in the package & then open up and break apart any large pieces.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

Once your cupcakes are cooled you are ready to put everything together!  Take the cupcake out of the liner and cut in half horizontally.  Place the bottom half in the bottom of a 1/2 pint jar.


Fill a pastry bag with some of the chocolate mousse (there is a lot of mousse so you won't be able to fit it all at once!) and using a large tip pipe mousse over top of the cupcake.  


Then take your crumbled Kit Kat's and sprinkle over the mousse. 


Top with the other half of the cupcake & pipe more mousse on the top, and sprinke with leftover Kit Kat's.  Tie a ribbon around jar if preferred (and I think it should be preferred...it's part of the "making it look good" factor!:))


ENJOY these...pretty & delicious!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Have you ever been asked the question, "If you could only have 1 food for the rest of your life, what would it be?"  I have, and my answer has always been "potatoes".  But I'm going to change my answer to not just potatoes, but THESE potatoes!

I started making potatoes for our Thanksgiving meal and since I'm a wimp and don't really like mashing the potatoes I called in Tony (the hubby) to help me out.  (Chivalry is not dead!:))  In the process of mashing he added some "stuff" and boy was it some good "stuff"!!  I had to have him tell me in detail what he did so I could share these awesome potatoes with all of you!  The few little things he added really took these to over-the-top delicious status!  He's hired from here on out!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
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About 5 pounds or so of potatoes
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
1-2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and cut potatoes into 1" cubes.  Place in a large pot and cover the potatoes with water by about an inch or 2.  Bring to a boil and then time potatoes for about 20 minutes or until tender.  Drain water.  Put butter and cream cheese into a large bowl and then pour hot drained potatoes on top.  Mash potatoes until most of the lumps are mashed.  Add the whipping cream and mash until nice and smooth.  Add the Mrs. Dash, salt and pepper to taste and mix in. 

These are wonderful just plain like this...I even found myself sneaking into the leftovers and just eating them cold right out of the Tupperware!  They just call my name!:)

  They can be served with gravy and are really good that way too...you really can't go wrong with these!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mom's Potato Rolls

Well, it's back to the grind today.  It was such a nice Thanksgiving break!  "We're Thankful for Pie" night, Thanksgiving dinner with my hubby and kiddo's, Black Friday shopping, games, putting up the Christmas tree, naps, staying in pajamas all day long....IT. WAS. GOOD!  I'm sad that it ended so quickly, but it's only 3 more weeks until Christmas break.  Yeah!! 

So with that, I figured I'd let you in on the Wilson family secret recipe for Potato Rolls (my Mom's).  They are sure to put you in the Holiday mood!  They go perfectly with Turkey or Ham...add them to your festivities this year.  The potatoes make for a really soft and delicious dough.  Once you try these all other rolls will be tossed to the curb!

Mom's Potato Rolls
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1 cup mashed potatoes (make sure there are no lumps)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup oil
7-8 1/2 cups flour

Add the yeast to the lukewarm water and set aside for about 10 minutes.  In the bowl of your mixer add the potatoes, salt, sugar, and oil.  Heat your milk in the microwave until hot, but do not boil.  Add milk to the potato mixture and mix lightly.  Let cool to lukewarm.  Add the beaten eggs and combine.  Add about 4-5 cups flour and beat until smooth.  Add the yeast and the rest of the flour.  Knead dough for about 10 minutes in your mixer.  Dough will be sticky! 

Flour your surface and place dough on it.  Coat the dough with flour so it doesn't stick and roll dough to about 1" thick.  Using a large cup (or any kind of cutter you have) cut out rolls and place them on a greased large cookie sheet.  Dough should be touching each other.

Cover and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Rub butter over the tops of rolls while still hot.

(These make the best sandwich rolls for leftover turkey and ham!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

"We're Thankful for Pie" Night Round-up!

This year we're sticking around for Thanksgiving...just me and my hubby and kiddo's (unless Grandpa & Grandma decide to show-up:))!  Sometimes it's just nice to be home and not have to worry about traveling anywhere and being able to spend time with your own family! 

BUT, we knew there was one thing we'd REALLY miss about not joining my side of the family for Thanksgiving..."We're thankful for Pie" night!  (If you don't remember from last year or are knew...go check out last year's post HERE!)  Basically it's the night before thanksgiving when everyone brings their favorite pies (or other desserts) to share with everyone.  THE BEST TRADITION EVER!!!  Instead of trying to eat pie after you've stuffed yourself so full of turkey, potatoes, and stuffing, you have it the night before so it can be enjoyed!

Sooooooo....instead of belly-aching about it, we decided we'd host our own "We're thankful for Pie" night at our house!  I'm so excited to try out some new pies...I know a couple of "flavors" that will be coming and can't wait to try them! 

Kyla and I will be making the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cream Pie (because you know how much she loves chocolate and PB!), a Banana Cream Pie, and Triple Fruit Pie.  (Unless we find something better in the meantime...which is know to happen a lot around here!) 

So, if any of you would like to start a new tradition, or if you just need some good pie recipes for Thanksgiving day...HERE'S A START!

(Sorry about the horrible picture...I promise to take a better one this year!)

 
(again...sorry for the photo!)

 


 

S'mores Pie (being made and brought by a friend (Jolyn!))
 

 

 

And....if you need a really good recipe for pie crust...this is by far my favorite!  (and there's a pretty great recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie with it!)  I am by no means a pie crust baker and I've had such luck with this one...always flaky and light and wonderfully delicious!

I'll be taking lots of pictures of our "We'er thankful for Pie" night, and we'll make sure to share them with you!

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving filled with lots of pie eating!:)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Italian Minestrone Soup

It seems all we've posted lately is soup or baked goods of some kind.  It must be the "it's almost winter and I better start packing on the pounds to help me make it through" mentality, at least the baked good part of it anyway.  And I guess it's just the warm comfort of soup that I love that has me making a new kind at least twice a week! 

I love this soup because it is made with ingredients I almost always have on hand, it's made in the crockpot (love having dinner ready at the beginning of the day!), and it is so perfectly spiced and wonderful!  You'll be asking for another bowl...trust me!

Italian Minestrone Soup
Recipe slightly adapted from 365 Crockpot

1 pound lean ground meat (pork, beef, or turkey...I used turkey)
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 can (14.5 oz.) stewed tomatoes (or diced)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 box (32 oz.) beef broth
1 cup dried penne pasta
Kosher salt

Brown the meat, mushrooms, onion and garlic on the stove top and drain the fat.  Add the meat to the slow cooker (6 quart size) along with your vegetables.  Add the tomatoes, oregano and broth and then stir to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  30 minutes before serving, add the dry pasta.  Turn the cooker to high and cook for 30 more minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies


I saw these bad boys on Pinterest last week and knew they had to made SOON!  By the way, if you have not yet been to Pinterest or don't know what in the heck it is...you need to go and check it out NOW!  I love that whenever I find something that I know is going to change my life (ie...these cookies!) I can just "pin" it and it's there for future use...brilliant!  It so blows my 127 pages of recipes in a word document out of the water!!  Not that I think I'll ever be able to keep up with it either, but it is just so much more manageable!  (Also, you can follow my pin's over on pinterest by clicking the "Follow me on Pinterest" button on the right side bar...can't wait to see you all there!) 

In the meantime you need to make these cookies!  Usually when I make cookies I keep going back for more and end up eating 3, or 4, ok maybe 10.  But one of these cookies did it for me.  It makes me feel good that I just ate 1...talk about self control!:)  Ok, it may be because each cookie is 4 oz. of dough, that it's so rich and chocolatey and gooey, and that the recipe made just enough for all of our party to only have 1, but I like to think it's because I had some self control.  And you'll definately want a glass of milk with this one! 


Giant Double Chocolate Cookies
Recipe from Annie's Eats

1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder (regular or dark...I used regular, but can't wait to try the dark!)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the mini's!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  You can line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (silpat), but I just cooked mine right on the cookie sheet. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended.  Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the chcoolate chips.  Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.  (Try to refrain from eating any dough or you'll only end up with 11 cookies instead of 12...we know this from personal experience, good thing we only needed 11!!)
 

 
Divide the dough into 4 ounce portions.  I used my kitchen scale.  If you don't have one, this would be the perfect excuse to go and get one...or...I figured each cookie was about 6 tablespoons of dough, so you can guesstimate that way too!:)  Roll each portion of dough into a ball and flatten just slightly into a disc.  Place on the cookie sheets a few inches apart.  Bake for 16-20 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes and then you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely or you can serve them and eat them warm, which is what we did!  De.lic.ious.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cajun Pulled Pork (for Crockpot)

Yummy.  That's how I would describe this dish.  That's how I describe a lot of things lately.  I even caught myself saying it last night when talking about something that wasn't even food related!  I don't think she noticed or just decided to dismiss it as "Jana's losing her mind!"  (I think I probably get that a lot...cause it's true most days!) 

Anyway, this is a wonderful dish to throw in the crockpot on a busy night, and serve with a salad!  Yummy!!:)
Cajun Pulled Pork
Recipe from 365 Crockpot
PRINT RECIPE

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt (I used pork tenderloin)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 cups water

Put the meat into a large plastic zipper bag with brown sugar and all spices.  Seal well and shake to coat.  Pour the contents of the bag into the crockpot.  (You can also just put the meat in the crockpot and rub the seasoning all over it). 

Top with the chopped onion, butter and liquid smoke.  Pour in the water.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork. 

To make the pulled pork sandwich you will need:
Hamburger buns
butter
cheese (your choice...we used provolone...Yummy!)

Butter one half of the hamburger bun and place it buttered side up on a large cookie sheet.  Place a slice of cheese on the other half and put it cheese side up on the pan.  Place under the broiler in your oven and watch carefully.  Once they start to brown it goes quick and you may end up eating black buns if you're not watching!

Place pork on toasted buns and top with some bbq sauce (or it it plain...I like the bbq sauce though).  Hope you enjoy!  Yummy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Butterfinger Blizzard Cupcakes

I thought since it's such an awesome date (you gotta admit 11/11/11, that's pretty cool) that we'd have to post a pretty awesome recipe!  And I think we've found it!  These have been made on a few different occasions, but I have never made them unless I've had somewhere for them to go...they are THAT dangerous!  You can say goodbye to any will-power you think you may have...that's really simple for me cause I don't have any!  Take these to your next party and you'll be loved forever, just don't make them for yourself unless you are prepared to eat them all!

Butterfinger Blizzard Cupcakes
Recipe from Your Cup of Cake
Chocolate Cake:
1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
Caramel Sauce (store bought or your favorite homemade recipe)
Butterfinger Buttercream
4 Butterfingers
3/4 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 1/2-2 1/2  cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffins tins with cupcake liners.  

For the cake, lightly beat eggs, water, milk, and oil together. Stir in vanilla and sour cream and cake mix. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 13-18 minute or until a knife comes out clean. 

While cupcakes are in the oven, mix sweetened condense milk and caramel sauce together. Use about 3/4 to 1 cup of the caramel sauce.  Pour into a squeeze bottle with a small tip.  While cupcake are still hot, fill with condensed milk/caramel mixture by pushing the tip of the squeeze bottle into the middle of the cupcake.  I squeeze for about 5 seconds per cupcakes.  I just count it out in my head and it seems to be about the right amount!


Now for he Butterfinger Buttercream!!  You need to unwrap the butterfingers and shave the chocolate off the outside of each bar.  It's a little tricky, but if you've got some helpers (Kyla!) this is something they seem to think is fun!!  Take the orange middles and crush in a bowl or in a plastic bag. Sift as much of the candy as possible. You want to get about 1/2 cup of orange Butterfinger powder. 

Beat butter and cream cheese for 5 minutes. Add as much powdered sugar as desired (I use about 2 cups) and milk. Add the sifted Butterfinger and beat well.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and use the chocolate shavings and the parts that were too big to sift to decorate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Florentine Chicken Soup

I know I've probably mentioned this fact a dozen times or so, but I LOVE SOUP!!  I get so excited when it finally starts cooling down so we can enjoy soup more often!  It's a definate perk to the cold weather!  This particular soup is out of this world good!  The flavors are so wonderful and it's so easy to throw together.  My kid's didn't even complain about the spinach....SCORE!!!:)

Florentine Chicken Soup
Adapted from Taste of Home
3 cups uncooked penne pasta (whole wheat is great!)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 bag (10 oz.) fresh spinach
1 jar (12 oz.) roasted sweet peppers (found by the pickles)
2 Tablespoons dried rosemary, or 3 fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 jar (15 oz.) prepared Alfredo Sauce
1/3 cup prepared pesto

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the chicken in the butter along with the garlic powder, rosemary, and pepper until chicken is browned and cooked through.  Add the red peppers, and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted.  Stir in the chicken broth, alfredo sauce and pesto; cook for 4-5 minutes or until heated through.  Drain pasta and add it to the soup.  Sprinkle with pinenuts and shredded parmesean cheese if desired.  Makes 10 servings...perfect for our family, just enough leftovers for lunch the next day!

Double the Deliciousness FEATURED!

Hey everyone....just wanted to let you know that our fabulous Death by Oreo Cupcakes are being featured over at "Or So She Says" today!  Please head over there and check it out!!  We are so excited...we'd love to have lots of comments over there, so if you can help us out we'd be eternally grateful!:) 

Thanks so much to Mariel for featuring us and for an awesome blog!  There are so many wonderful ideas over there so if you've never checked it out YOU NEED TO!!! 

Oh, and I'll be posting a wonderful recipe this afternoon so don't forget to check back!:)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

There are times in my life when I just have this overwhelming love for people.  This weekend has been one of those times.  People are GOOD!  I witnessed so much good this weekend and I love being reminded that although there are some real pieces of work out there, that there are also really, REALLY good people out there too!  It makes me want to make something for everyone!  Cause that's how I show my love and thanks...I bake!:)  These cookies (in my humble opinion) would more than adequately say "thanks" and "love you".  You will have new best friends!  Give it a try.  Make a batch for someone!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies
Recipe from Your Cup of Cake
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Cookies:

1 box spice cake mix
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
15 oz pumpkin puree
1/3 cup applesauce
1 bag mini chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup butter, softened
2 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or silpat.  Mix spice cake mix and pumpkin pie spice together then add the pumpkin and applesauce and mix until combined.  Mix in the chocolate chips.   Scoop dough using a medium cookie scoop (or spoons...just make the dough about golf ball size) onto parchment paper/silpat and bake for 11-14 minutes or until the tops are cooked. Place onto cooling racks, and make sure they are completely cooled before assembling.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and beat for 2-3 minutes.

Assemble cookie sandwiches by piping filling into the bottom side of half the cookies.  Place another cookie on top and then refrigerate cookies until chilled, about 1 hour. This will help so that all the filling does not gush out over the sides when you're trying to eat them!

You'll make some friends for life!:)
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