Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mint Chocolate Chip Fudge



Every year before Christmas time, my husband and I compile a must have treat list that we want to make during the holidays.  It is always a few go-to's with a few new ones sprinkled into the mix.  And one of those new ones is this fudge.  It is so yummy!  One piece is pretty rich, so it goes a long way.  I always love going up to fudge counters and sampling their different varieties, but when it comes down to what I traditionally make, I tend to use this pure simple chocolate fudge recipe.  But now I can add this new fudge recipe to our must have list.  It was worth every step!
The coolest part about this fudge is that though it has 3 separate layers, the two fudge layers only have two ingredients each, making it pretty simple to make.  I honestly made this in less than 30 minutes, including clean up! You will need to let it sit in the fridge over night or at least 4 few hours, before eating it or cutting into it.

Side note, I doubled the recipe, putting it in a 9x13 pan and it worked beautifully.
Mint chocolate Chip Fudge
Ingredients
2 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 14 oz can
1 ½ cups white chocolate baking chips
1 tsp peppermint extract (see note above)*
2 drops green food coloring (or more)
1 tsp oil
½ cup mini chocolate chips and Andes Crème De Menth Baking chips

Directions:
Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper.  Spray paper with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 1 ½ cups chocolate chips with ¾ cups sweetened condensed milk, stirring occasionally.  Spread melted chocolate mixture into prepared pan and chill for 5-10 minutes.

In another saucepan, melt white baking chips and remaining condensed milk, stirring until completely smooth.  Remove from heat and add peppermint extract and food coloring.  Spread mint layer over chilled chocolate layer. Chill again for 5-10 minutes while you make the last layer.

Melt remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips with 1 tsp oil in the microwave for 30 second increments.  Don’t over cook.  Stir until completely smooth.  Spread over chilled mint layer.  Top with mini chocolate chips and Andes baking chips.


Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until fudge is completely set.  Cut into squares.  Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator up to two weeks.  You can freeze these, but the texture is not exactly the same when you thaw it. 
Recipe slightly modified from here

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Oatmeal Cream Pies

 Do you remember these from when you were a kid?  Or maybe you still eat them now.  I totally didn't care what people said the cream was made of; my little heart still loved 'em.  But a few years back, I bought them as a special treat for my own kids and they tasted awful!  I wasn't sure if they were even the same cookie or if my tastes had really changed that much.  Either way, I haven't bought them since.  But, because I have such good memories of these cookies, I have been on the look out for a good replica, minus the horse hooves in the cream :)  And I think this recipe recreated oatmeal cream pies, for the better!

The other night we were all in a baking mood, so my daughter and husband made these cookies, while my sons and I made cinnamon roll sugar cookies....yes, the recipe is coming!   And everyone was trying to snitch the beaters, but when my husband is around we all are a little more aware of salmonella poisoning (blast that medical background!) and there were 5 hungry faces waiting by the oven as they came out.  We barely had time to let them cool before we frosted and ate them.

I am using that to deem these as tasty and delicious!  They are a very different taste and texture than my favorite homemade Oreo cookies, but follow the same idea. Creamy frosting sandwiched between two cookies. And these have oatmeal, so they are partially good for you too :)

I would definitely say these would be worth being on the holiday cookie round-up to deliver to neighbors or make as a treat for Santa, he might really need 5-6 to keep him going on Christmas Eve.

And as you can see from the pictures, they are a flat cookie, so when you are spacing them on the cookie sheet, beware, they spread.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting new yummy cookies and treats, and easy meal ideas to get us all through the holidays, helping us keep our minds focused on what is truly important.
Oatmeal Cream Pies
1 ¾ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup dark brown sugar (light will work, just a slightly milder flavor)
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups quick oats

Frosting:
1 stick of butter, softened (1/2 cup)
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
dash of salt
milk to spreading consistency (about 3 TBSP)

For cookies;
preheat oven to 350.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, set aside.  In another bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, sugar and molasses until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time.  Next add in the flour mixture until combined.  Add in the oats.  Drop 1-2 TBSP size drops onto a cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.  They spread,  so don’t be tempted to put them closer!  Bake for 10 minutes or just until they are browned on the edged.  This will help them stay soft.  Let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then remove to a cooling rack.  Cool completely and frost and make into sandwiches.   

For Frosting:
Beat butter until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Slowly add milk to get to right consistency.  Beat until smooth. 


Recipe from my friend's blog

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders AKA funeral rolls

Sorry for the low lighting.  It gets dark so early now that by the time we are eating, I have no natural light left! And truthfully I can't have a photo shoot every night before dinner...I might be taken and eaten alive by 3 small children :)
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Our break was wonderful and much needed.  It was great spending so much time with family and we loved every minute!

Now that we are full throttle Christmas mode around here, I wanted to share one of the easiest meals we have been making around here.  I've seen a few variations around the web for these sliders, but I simply chose these since they don't HAVE to marinate for 24 hours. If you want to make them in advance, you can, otherwise, simply put the sauce on top, let the oven preheat for 10 minutes and pop 'em in. These have become one of our favorite quick weeknight meals and I am planning on making these when my family comes into town to visit because of their simplicity.

But they aren't just easy to make, they taste really good too! AND they even taste good reheated the next day, and for a non-loving leftover gal, that's saying something!  Plus, you can make as many or as few as you want or need.  What can get better than that?!

The recipe is pretty basic, you make a ham and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwich on rolls you can get at Sam's, Costco, Walmart for really inexpensive.  I like pairing good quality ham with sharp cheddar cheese and turkey with provolone. We always have the ingredients on hand since we make stromboli and sandwiches so often, but you can really use any combination your family will eat.  The topping is really the star of the show.  4 out of the 5 members of my family love every part of this, the 5th (middle child!) prefers his without the topping. I can live with that!   So if you need a quick weeknight meal to simplify your life a little or are in charge of feeding a crowd, these are winners in our book!  Give them a try, even my non sandwich lover daughter asks for seconds.

Hot Ham & Cheese Poppyseed Sliders

24 good white rolls

24 pieces good quality ham or Turkey (or a combination of both)
24 sliced provolone and cheddar cheese (combined)
Mayo for spreading

Poppy seed sauce 
1 1/2 TBSP poppy seeds
1 1/2 TBSP yellow mustard
1 stick butter, melted
1 TBSP minced onion
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Cut rolls in half lengthwise; spread mayo on the inside of each roll half . Place a slice of meat  and a slice of cheese inside of each roll.  Close rolls & place onto a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet, very close together.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients and pour evenly over all of the sandwiches.  Let sit 10 minutes, or until butter sets slightly.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

** sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead & kept in the fridge ready to bake. 

Recipe adapted from here

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving

I am so excited for Thanksgiving this year!  I can't wait to eat all.day.long.  Oh it is a wonderful day!  What a blessing this country is to us and the hand of God is in each of our lives.

 Just in case any of you need a little last minute inspriation (no judging here!) I compiled a list of some of our favorites we have had over the years.  Most years we have the traditional with a sprinkling of something new each time. And for those of you who don't love pumpkin pie like me, I added my favorite dessert...pumpkin crunch!  This year I made this for my son's preschool Thanksgiving feast and it was gobbled up :)  I will be spending the rest of the week getting ready for the big day and enjoying family time.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone. See ya next week!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Slow Cooker Maple Glazed Ham

Baked Garlic Mashed Potatoes -what I am bringing to the feast this year

Make Ahead rolls

Broccoli craisin salad

Orange Glazed Green beans

Coconut cream pie---this is my contribution this year

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Pumpkin Crunch

And here is a link for a few more ideas


Friday, November 21, 2014

Cinnabun Bites with Vanilla glaze

Does anyone else feel like Thanksgiving shouldn't just be a lunch or dinner affair? By the time I eat, I am so starved that I eat way too much and feel sick by the end! I think since Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks and eating a lot of food, we should start with breakfast...can I get an amen here! But seriously, how much better the day would be if started out right. So that is why I am sharing these lovely little morsels of goodness. I mean just look at those babies...deliciousness...oh and they smell heavenly as well!
I know we all have a lot of food to prepare so why am I telling you to add more to your plate (pun intended:)) Well because these can be prepped the night before and then thrown into the oven the morning of. How easy does that get?  If your family is anything like ours, your kids will be satisfied and keep their cute little grubby hands out of the big feast until it is finally ready!  Now that is worth it to me.  So if you need something super simple to throw together and fill some tummies before the meal, this would be a good option. 

Awhile ago before we started un-packing and doing the whole new house thing, I had some ladies over for lunch and this was our dessert.  I had never made them before, which can go either way when you make them for other people, but one thing is for sure....Martha Stewart got these right! WOW is all I can say.  They taste just like a cinnamon roll from cinnabun.  They are pure sweet pleasure for your mouth.  Dare I say there wasn't any left by the time everyone went home.  I didn't have my right pan to bake these in, but as you can see, they still worked in an 8x8 pan.  The only thing I noticed was that the middle ones were a little more doughy, but you can experiment with pans and sizes.
Cinnamon Bun Bites
Printable Recipe
Ingredients for dough:
½ cup warm water
1 TBSP active dry yeast
4 ½ cups all purpose flour, more if needed
4 large eggs
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp course salt (kosher salt works) (use 2 if using unsalted butter)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened, salted
plus ½ cup melted butter for pan

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons whole milk (I sucessfully used 1% milk)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Pour water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast evenly over water with a little sugar and slightly mix, and let stand until foamy, 5 to 7 minutes. Whisk until smooth, then whisk in 1/2 cup flour to form a loose paste. Let rise in a warm place until yeast mixture has risen and fallen, about 30 minutes.

Add eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and remaining flour to yeast mixture. Knead dough, using dough hook attachment on mixer, until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes

Add softened ½ cup of butter, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky). Turn out dough onto an unfloured work surface, and knead by hand until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Transfer dough to another bowl, and let rise in a warm place, covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down dough; press out air bubbles.

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate or 9-inch square glass baking dish. Place melted butter in a bowl. Stir together remaining 1 cup sugar and the cinnamon in another bowl.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls (you should have about 40-45). Working with 1 at a time, dip balls into melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar and place in pie plate. Stack balls to form a dome. Sprinkle with any remaining cinnamon sugar, and drizzle with any leftover butter. Cover with plastic wrap, and let balls rise by half, about 1 hour. If you are going to cook this the next day, you don’t need to let them rise, just make sure your plastic wrap firmly covers the dough and place in refrigerator.  The morning of, take rolls out of the refrigerator, let warm for a few minutes while the oven pre-heats, then remove saran wrap.  Bake for 50-55 minutes, watching the edges so they don’t burn.  If you need to, put tin foil around the edges if they are getting too dark.

If you are making this the same day:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap balls, and place pie plate on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and firm, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let bites cool in dish 15 minutes, then drizzle with glaze.

Glaze:
Stir together sugar and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together butter, milk, and vanilla, and stir into sugar until mixture forms a smooth paste. Keep glaze at room temperature until ready to drizzle over cinnamon-bun bites. Before using, whisk until smooth.

Recipe from Martha Stewart and William Sonoma

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bites

 I'm getting a teeeeny bit excited for the holidays!  This year is so full of family, good food and fun that I am just giddy inside.  We were talking with our kids about the next month or two and how much we get to spend with family and I could see it in their eyes too.  Though moving has been a tough transition, times like this make it all worth it. We all feel that way. 

We are enjoying Thanksgiving with my parents in law, so they will do most of the cooking, but I offered to bring Mashed potatotes and coconut cream pie...MMMM!!  And I have all ready been planning and scheming what kind of appetizers, dips, treats, sides and food we will have during the Christmas season too.  Each time I go to the grocery store, I try and pick up an item or two in preparation for all the yumminess.  It's hard not to with all the markdown on baking and cooking items they are having right now.  If you have been to the store in the last few weeks you know what I am talking about!

And best of all, my parents are coming to stay with us and I am beyond excited.  I don't think they have ever stayed at our house on Christmas!!!  I'm excited to share in all the fun and excitment with them! 

And in loo of the upcoming  baking season I am going to share with you a new treat that I will most definietely be making, Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bites. 

This fall a family offered me pounds and pounds of apples, so I have been finding a lot of great ways to use them up.  I canned super easy and healthy applesauce (which I will post about another time soon!) that my kids love, I made freezer apple pie filling (and I can post this if anyone wants it!), apple crisp, these slow cooker glazed cinnamon apples which are good with fat boy ice cream sandwiches and over oatmeal if you were wondering :), and made a variation of one of my all time favorite dessert bars, caramel apple cheesecake bars, into mini cups.  And oh were they good! 

Let me tell you how good my house has smelled over the last few months.  The smell of apples cooking with cinnamon is euphoric. And I love it.

Okay, sorry, back to these babies. They are delightfully sinful and I feel like having 2 or 3 isn't so bad (would an entire pan be a bad thing??) They are perfect treats to take to parties, or give as part of a Christmas cookie exchange and to give to neighbors.  Plus they taste best when they have had time to sit in the refrigerator for about a day, which means you can make them ahead of time!

They are slighly different than the bars, but just as delicious. The bottom is a graham cracker crust, which forms nicely in the baking cups. Other than that, these are just a slightly varied form of the bars. You can use whichever you like best. I like using a combination of the two. So that is the recipe I have below. Enjoy my friends!

And before you look at the ingredient list and run the other way, I promise it looks like a lot of work, but it really comes together quicker than you think.  Most times I will make caramel sauce in advance so that step is all ready finished, but even if you don't, it will be well worth it!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bites
Yield: 18  Prep Time: 30 min  Cook time: 25 minutes

Crust
10 graham crackers sheets, finely crushed (1 1/3 cups)
2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Streusel
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

Filling
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apples
3-4 small tart apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped..really small so they cook through (like granny smith)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Caramel Sauce (or use 12 oz store bought)
1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup salted butter
½ cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor or blender, crush graham cracker squares. Add in sugar and cinnamon. Mix for 30 seconds or until well combined.  Put crumb mixture into a separate mixing bowl and pour in butter and using a fork, stir until evenly moistened. Divide mixture among 18 paper lined muffin cups. If you like more crust, just make 12.  Press into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the streusel:
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, quick oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add cold butter and using fingertips, rub butter into dry mixture until it comes together it small crumbles and pieces of butter are no longer visible. Transfer to refrigerator while preparing apples and filling.

For the Apples:
In a bowl, toss chopped apples with lemon juice. In a separate small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and evenly coat apples. Set aside.

For the filling:
In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed, cream together cream cheese with sugar just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, then blend in sour cream and vanilla.

For the caramel sauce :
Whisk sugar and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat until it melts. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Set aside. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, until ready to use.

To assemble cheesecakes:
Divide cheesecake batter evenly among 18 muffin cups pouring filing over crust (I used a 1/4 cup and filled it about 3/4 full). Divide apples evenly over cheesecake layer, then finish by sprinkling a heaping tablespoon of the streusel over tops. Bake in preheated oven 23 - 25 minutes. Cool at room temperature 30 minutes, then transfer to fridge and chill 3 hours. Serve with caramel sauce.

Recipe adapted from this blog

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Flavorful Pot Roast

the only problem with this baby is that it doesn't photograph well, no matter what you do :)
 Hello again.  It seems like forever since I have really posted.  The Halloween posts were just fun little ones I had written, but now I am hoping to get back into the swing of things.  Why is it that when you move, you feel a little over your head with things to do?  And you can't get on top of it for a few months?  Finally we are starting to settle into a routine, getting used to how things work and am able to breath again.  Though I haven't posted for awhile, I have still be cooking.  Most of my meals lately have been my quick and easy weeknight meals that take little time to prepare.  I have several more installments of the quick weeknight meals to add to the previous ones.  They are all ones that we use frequently and all are kid approved.  Pinky swear. 
 This one today is one of the easiest, tastiest crockpot beefs stews you could imagine.  My mom (of course!) made this all the time when I still lived at home.  I adopted it into my family now.  We don't make it often so that we don't grow tired of it.  It isn't one I want to give up on easily.  But every time I do, everyone gobbles it up.  I think out of the entire meal, the potatoes and carrots are my favorite, which I think the rest of my family would agree with as well.  I place a smaller roast in the bottom, then dump as many carrots and potatoes as my crock pot can handle over the top.  What can be better than that!  Normally my kids don't care for cooked carrots, but in this, they devour them.  I'll take that any day! 

You really should give this a try.  Extremely tasty and equally as easy.  Now that the weather has turned colder and you need a good comfort meal to keep you warm without a lot of fuss, this is perfect.  Let your crockpot do all the work and take the night off and enjoy every minute of it!   We usually pair it with these freezer rolls, which can be made ahead of time, frozen, then on the day you want to eat them, let them rise for about 3-4 hours depending on the temperature in your house, cook for 15 minutes and relish in the home made meal you just enjoyed with little work on your part. Happy Thursday everyone!
Note: This can also be made in a cast iron pot, like a lodge or le cruset, but for less time, around 3 hours.  You will just need to add more water than in the crockpot.  You will also need to stir it every so often, so it doesn't burn or get stuck to the bottomThe meat will be slightly more tough, but still yummy!

Flavorful Pot Roast
Printable Recipe
1 boneless beef chuck roast, (good quality)

2-3 cups potatoes, thinly sliced or diced

2-3 cups baby carrots

1 envelop ranch salad dressing mix

1 envelop Italian salad dressing mix

1 envelope brown gravy mix

½-1 cup water


Place roast, carrots and potatoes in a 5 qt slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine the salad dressings and gravy mixes; stir in water.  Pour over meat.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until tender. 
Recipe from my mom 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Monster Teeth {kids style}

If I could pick a holiday to skip, Halloween might be it.  I do not enjoy all the freaky masks, horror movies (who even likes those!) and fighting my kids about not eating the 100 piece of candy they just got in one sitting.  But what I do like is the fun, kiddish part of Halloween and all the creative ideas for food. 

My mother-in-law's favorite holiday happens to be Halloween and she does a party every year full of games, music, fun food and prizes.  The kids love it and have been asking every day when her party is.  And this is the part of Halloween I do like...the fun food! 

Every halloween eve, we make a feast of fun and interesting foods that we give different names to....like bones, dipped in blood (breadsticks and marinara), Monster salad or graveyard jello, monster eyes (meatballs), spiderweb munch, Chocolate mousse in witch hats, and then the yummy desserts like chocolate pretzel rings, candy corn almond bark, and candy corn cupcakes, homemade oreos with orange frosting or Halloween sprinkles. 

Though I love the desserts, it seems to be a bit much sometimes, so when I found these I knew they would be a good balance with all the treats we make.  They are super simple to throw together and taste yummy too.  My kids gave this two thumbs up!  Happy Halloween Baking!!




Monday, October 13, 2014

Monster Eye Salad

My friend from Klamath Falls said they do this every year on Halloween and so we did a smaller version and my kids loved it! There isn't much of a recipe, just hard boil an egg slice in half, slice some olives and add to any salad.  Healthy and Halloweeny! 

Here is a list of other yummy Halloween treats we usually make this time of year: Halloween Line-up

Recipe idea from my friend Jaime Olsen....thanks friend!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

frosting for sugar cookies


You know how you have some recipes that are your go-to-never-fail kind of recipes...well I have posted my favorite sugar cookie recipe that I use every holiday, but I haven't ever posted my favorite frosting recipe!  So finally, here is our favorite frosting recipe to go with the best sugar cookies ever..  They make a good pair, seriously, these won't disappoint, they'll disappear. 

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 4 cups of frosting
*1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar. Make sure the cream cheese and powdered sugar are mixed very well, without lumps, before adding all the other ingredients. Now add salt and vanilla. Mix until very smooth and light and no lumps remain. In a separate bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until well combined and smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Recipe source:slightly adapted from this recipe on allrecipies
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