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 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 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'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 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

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 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'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. 


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 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,'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
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's part of the "making it look good" factor!:))

ENJOY these...pretty & delicious!
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