Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Fudge

I got this recipe from my friend Annalise’s blog (you can also see the link on the right). I made it once, loved it so much that I had to make it again. Especially when I was blessed with a quart jar of dark chocolate ganache from my dear friend Betsy!

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

5 large marshmallows

Bring to a boil over medium heat in a heavy saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the marshmallows melt. Stir often.

pb fudge 01

pb fudge 02pb fudge 03Remove from heat and stir in:

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

Spread into foiled and buttered 8” pan.

pb fudge 04While fudge cools in fridge, prepare the ganache.

Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream in a saucepan until just simmering. Pour over 1 cup chocolate chips and let sit 1-2 minutes. Stir until smooth and glossy. (If you need to, you can microwave them for 15 seconds to smooth them out)

pb fudge 05

Remove fudge from fridge and smooth ganache on top.

pb fudge 06 Chill for 1-2 hours or until ganache is set.

pb fudge 07Remove from pan and cut into small squares. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.

pb fudge 08

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pretzel Kisses

This is a super quick and easy treat to make when you need to bring something to a get-together or when you have a salty-sweet craving…

Here’s all you do:

Preheat oven to 350.

Place pretzels on baking tray.

pretzel kisses 01Unwrap any flavor Hershey’s kisses (except almond) and place on top of each pretzel.

pretzel kisses 02Place in oven for 2-3 minutes. They should be shiny and an M&M should easily be pressed into the melted Kiss. If not, place back in oven for another 30 seconds.

pretzel kisses 03Quickly press one M&M into the center of each kiss.

pretzel kisses 04pretzel kisses 05     Place in fridge until set.

pretzel kisses 06Remove from tray and serve immediately or store in airtight container in fridge.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Easy Truffles

A friend inquired about a truffle recipe yesterday hoping that I had one that used cream cheese, powdered sugar and chocolate chips. Unfortunately I did not have a recipe. But I did a bit of searching, made a batch this afternoon with a few minor tweaks, and now I do…

6oz softened cream cheese

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

4 oz bittersweet baking chocolate

1 square of unsweetened baking chocolate (optional)

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar. Melt chocolate in microwave until smooth and glossy. Stir in vanilla. Stir in heavy cream (chocolate will thicken). Mix chocolate into sugar/cream cheese using electric mixer.

Chill at least 1 hour until firm. Quickly roll into balls and then roll in desired coatings. Coconut, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, crushed candy canes all make good coatings. Y0u can also experiment with different extracts and stir-ins.

Store in fridge.

truffles 01

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Caribbean Baked French Toast

This recipe was inspired by the French toast my sister and I had at a little cafe in Portland on this month’s Sister Day. We spent a good deal of time discussing how we could recreate it and I believe I have succeeded! Actually, I think I liked mine better…

Being made up, I don’t have exact measurements for everything, so the amounts may need to be adjusted to your tastes/opinion.

Melt 5 Tbsp butter in bottom of glass 9x13 baking dish.

Sprinkle with 1/3 cup brown sugar and some cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Toast 1/3 cup coconut and 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts in skillet on med-high heat until golden brown. Sprinkle on top of brown sugar.

Carribean toast 01

Place thick-cut slices of Italian bread in pan on top of topping in pan.

Carribean toast 02

Mix 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp rum extract.

Pour egg mixture on top of bread making sure each slice is completely covered.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 and let pan set out while oven warms. About 30 minutes is ideal.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until topping is bubbly and tops of bread are starting to turn brown.

Just before it is done baking warm some honey in a glass and stir in 1/2 tsp rum extract.

Serve French toast immediately topping side up, with sliced fresh bananas and the honey-rum syrup.

Carribean toast 03

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bacon Cheddar Poppers

Having totally made this recipe up and only having made it once, I have already thought of ways I would do it differently. First, I may just leave the jalapenos whole and stuff and bake them. Second, they weren’t very spicy. If I was making them for our family, I may leave a few seeds for a bit more kick. Oh, and I might try using cheeses other than cheddar. Besides that, they were super yummy and super easy to make…

* Half and seed fresh jalapeno peppers. Or you can leave them whole. Just cut off the stem end and empty out as many of the seeds you would like. The more you leave behind, the spicier they’ll be!

* Then mix softened cream cheese and grated cheese together. I did about a 1:1 ratio???

* Mix in some crumbled crisp bacon.

* Stuff bacon/cheese mixture into peppers.

jalapenos 01

* Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

* Serve and eat immediately!

jalapenos 02

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oreo Cheesecake Truffles

I got this recipe last year from my friend Maria on Facebook but finally made them this year. They are super easy and super rich and even yummier when frozen. Nuts! Now how am I supposed to make them last???

A friend and I made these this week with peppermint and peanut butter Oreos. The mint ones were not quite minty enough, I would probably throw in some peppermint extract. The peanut butter ones were really good all on their own!!!

Here’s all you need to make ‘em…

First crush one package of Oreos (not Double Stuf) in your food processor into fine crumbs.

oreo balls 01 oreo balls 03

Then add all the crumbs to one softened package of cream cheese. Mix until completely combined.

oreo balls 02oreo balls 04Chill the dough for at least an hour. Remove and roll into small 1” balls. Place back in fridge for at least an hour.

oreo balls 05Dip balls into melted chocolate (or white chocolate). Chill until firm. Keep in fridge or freeze for longer storage.

oreo balls 06oreo balls 07

Egg Nog Logs

Every year I make a new Christmas cookie along with all the oldies. This year I had to try my friend Annalise’s recipe for egg nog cookies. The past few shaped cookies I have made have turned out to be quite labor intensive and/or difficult. This one was perfect because I have always been good at making snakes, worms and ropes with clay! Actually, it is the only thing I can make out of clay… :o)

Unfortunately we were snowed in without any egg nog. Fortunately, one can always improvise. So I am going to share my tweaked version since I don’t know how the original ones turn out. But I do know that these were FANTASTIC! They may become a new “oldie”!

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons rum flavoring

Mix flour, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings. Slowly mix in the flour until smooth.

Roll into 1/2” diameter ropes and cut into 3” pieces.

eggnog logs 01

eggnog logs 02

Bake on greased or parchment paper lined baking sheets at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until barely a golden brown.

Remove and let cool completely before frosting. 

Frosting:

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon allspice

2-3 tablespoons milk (or use egg nog and omit the spices and rum extract)

nutmeg, for sprinkling (optional)

Mix butter, vanilla, rum extract, powdered sugar,spices and milk in mixing bowl with electric mixer until very smooth. This icing will be thick.

Frost cooled cookies with icing and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.

eggnog logs 03

These are amazing with a cup of coffee on a cold winter day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Microwave Popcorn

When our dog refused to eat the microwave popcorn that fell on the floor, I began to question exactly what was in that greasy, fake-buttery goodness that she turned her nose up to??? Well, I figured it couldn’t be good… Then I saw a post on my Google Reader about making your own microwave popcorn. So I did a bit of research and gave it a whirl…

It makes a bit of a mess in the microwave but you can put a plate down to help with that. I’ve made it with both butter and oil but prefer the butter. As long as you don’t like it swimming in it, I thought it was buttery enough. But don’t forget the salt!

Here’s how you do it…

#1- Take one brown paper lunch bag and pour in 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels and 2-3 Tbsp butter or oil.

popcorn 01 #2- Fold over the top 2 or 3 times to seal the bag.

popcorn 02#3- Place in microwave (on a glass plate if desired). Cook on high for 2-3 minutes, or until pops are about 2 seconds apart. (My microwave takes about 3 1/2 minutes)

popcorn 03#4- Remove from microwave and carefully open (the steam will burn!).

popcorn 04#5- Dump popcorn into large bowl, sprinkle with salt and enjoy with your favorite flick!

popcorn 05

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christmas Baking

I always do my Christmas baking the week before Thanksgiving. That way we can enjoy our tradition of eating Christmas cookies and reading the Christmas story from Luke in the candle/tree light the day after Thanksgiving. It also makes holiday parties and entertaining WAY less stressful and WAY more enjoyable! And they freeze up great and are always ready (even last minute)!

We have the ones we make every year and then we try to add a new one every year, too. Here’s the list along with the links to the recipes…

#1- Thumbprints: These cookies remind me of my grandma and is a great way to use that mint jelly I made.

thumbprints 01[3]

#2- Orange Biscotti: Dipped or drizzled with dark chocolate, these are the best dunked in a cup of coffee or cocoa!

orange biscotti 01#3- Gingerbread: The boys always help decorate these and they turn out different every year.

gingerbread cookies  02#4- Mexican Wedding Cakes:  We called these Russian Teacakes growing up.

mexican wedding cakes  02#5- Chocolate-dipped chocolate chip:  Chris’ favorite cookies are chocolate chip. So I make these just for him… Well, he does have to share. :o)

chocolate dipped chocolate chip  01#6- Cookie stamp cookies:  I took a class and made these cookie stamps when I was pregnant with Andy and we’ve used them every year since.

cookie stamp cookies  01#7- Cranberry orange nut bread: This was my great grandma’s recipe and it is delicious and a holiday must!

  cranberry orange nut bread 01#8- See’s Fudge:  This is foolproof recipe that is so good either plain or with mini marshmallows (nuts optional).

see's fudge  01#9- Eggnog Cookie Logs:  This is the new one for this year. My friend Annalise posted it on her blog and we’re going to try it!

nutmeg eggnog logs

Berry Cordial

I have this memory in my mind of the Christmas my grandma made berry cordial. I’ve always wanted to and decided to finally give it a try this year for the holidays. Fortunately I thought of it before December! You do need to start this well in advance of when you would like it…

But it is super easy and and is sweet and warms you all the way down. Perfect for cold winter evenings!

1 cup sugar

1 quart (4 cups) berries (blackberries, raspberries or strawberries or a combination)

1 quart of vodka or brandy

Pour sugar into a 1 quart canning jar. Fill the remaining space with berries, but do not pack down.

Pour vodka or brandy over berries so that they are completely covered.

Place lid on jar. Let jar stand in a cool, dark place for 2 months, shaking the jar every week. The sugar should dissolve and the vodka or brandy should become colored. If the sugar doesn’t dissolve when you shake it, open and give it a stir with a spoon.

Strain through a metal sieve and then through a coffee filter. Pour into a glass bottle and store in fridge.

cordial  01

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Microwave Chocolate Cake

This is for when you have One of Those Days. You know the kind I’m talkin’ about. They’re the ones when you wish you could just crawl back into bed, or escape to a warm sunny beach in the Bahamas, or sit and watch a chick flick completely uninterrupted while eating something rich and chocolate-y!
Thanks to my dear friend Kris, I found that recipe!
When I’m having One of Those Days, the last thing I often feel like doing is baking a complicated dessert or sharing. With this you don’t have to do either.
All it takes is a few simple ingredients, a coffee mug and a microwave…
First get out one standard sized (11 oz or larger) microwave safe coffee mug.
Place
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
dash of salt
into the mug and whisk together with a spoon. You can even use the Tbsp, then you have fewer dishes to do! Bonus!!!
brownie mug 02
Then add
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp cold water
splash of vanilla
and mix thoroughly. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom well.
Then fold in
a small handful of chocolate chips
brownie mug 04
Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Let sit for 1 minute in microwave.
brownie mug 05
Remove and let cool a bit before eating.
brownie mug 06
It is really hot and gooey (sort of reminds me of lava cake) and perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

My friend Susie makes these phenomenal pumpkin bars and she gave me the recipe. I could hardly wait to make them! They are good with or without frosting. This time I used maple flavoring in the frosting and it complemented the pumpkin perfectly!
4 eggs, 1 C oil, 2 C sugar, 15oz pumpkin puree

Mix ingredients well.

Add: 2 C flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp soda, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Pour into greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min.
pumpkin bars 01
Frosting: 1 6oz pkg cream cheese, 3/4 stick of butter, 1 TBSP milk, 1 TBSP vanilla (or 1 tsp maple flavoring) and 4 C powdered sugar.
pumpkin bars 02pumpkin bars 03
They’re even better with a cup of coffee!
pumpkin bars 04