Thursday, December 29, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bites

This is a variation on my mud pie recipe that can be cut into bite-sized bars and served on a cookie plate. I also added a bit of peppermint for a more festive taste.

Crust:

1 pkg Oreo cookies, finely crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix thoroughly and press into a 9”square cake pan lined with parchment.

Filling:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/3 cup sour cream

1 30z box chocolate pudding

1 1/2 cups milk

Beat pudding mix and milk together until thick.
In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, and extract until smooth. Stir in sour cream.

Add to pudding.

Spread over crust and sprinkle with Andes peppermint baking chips.

Freeze until firm. Cut into bite-sized squares. Keep frozen until ready to serve. Let sit for about 5 minutes before eating.

chocolate peppermint cheesecake 01chocolate peppermint cheesecake 02

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wassail

Although we didn’t go wassailing or have any wassailers visit, I did make a batch of this lovely fruity & spicy drink for Christmas Eve. A large tea ball strainer works great for your spices! Be sure to toast, “Be in good health” when you drink.

2 cups sugar

4 1/4 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoons whole cloves

1 slice fresh peeled ginger

4 1/4 cups orange juice

2 cups lemon juice

1/2 gallon apple cider

Place sugar and water in large saucepan. Heat to boiling over high heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add spices. Cover and let sit on back of stove for 1 hour.

Strain, or remove tea ball strainer. Add juices and quickly bring it to a boil. Remove and serve. Keep hot in a crock pot.

wassail 01

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Easy Egg Nog

This is the easiest recipe for egg nog I’ve seen and it was so tasty that we can’t wait to make it again! It’s not as thick and slimy as the stuff you buy at the store.
That is how it has been described to me by those poor sad individuals who don’t like egg nog. ;o) 
The recipe came from AllRecipes UK (which is a very fun site, by the way). I left it in metric and also included my conversions…

I also used egg substitute as I am now back to buying eggs at the store and I didn’t want my 85-year-old grandma drinking raw eggs.

6 eggs or 1 1/2 cups egg substitute

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 L milk (4 1/4 cups)

1 pinch of salt

Beat all the ingredients together until well mixed and smooth.

150ml whipping cream (2/3 cup)

Beat cream to the soft peak stage. Fold into egg nog and chill.

Sprinkle with nutmeg before serving.

egg nog

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Sausage Wreath

Here’s another fun finger food for your next holiday party! Be sure to cut up a red pepper for a fun red ribbon!

1-2 tubes of crescent rolls

1 pkg of Little Smokies

Open up the tube of crescent rolls and press the two triangles of dough into rectangles. Using a pizza cutter, cut the rectangles into 8 strips each.

Roll one sausage into each strip of dough and place in a circle shape on a large baking sheet.

Bake at 375 for 11-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Garnish with pepper ribbon and serve with mustard for dipping.

sausage wreath 01

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cream of (fill in the blank) Soup

I may have never actually tried this if I hadn’t had such a need for a can of cream of chicken soup and such an aversion to going out to the store two days before Christmas.

I have seen quite a few recipes for this lately, but just didn’t see a need for making it when it is so handy to just pop open a can. I was wrong! Not only is it super quick and easy to make, but is WAY tastier than any glop of cream soup you buy in the store! I don’t know if I’ll ever go back???

So here’s the recipe I chose to try from Sweet Anna’s

3/4 cup chicken stock (I used Better than Bouillon)

3/4 cup milk, divided

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder (I didn’t have any and it was still good)

1/8 teaspoon paprika

salt & pepper

1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour

Bring the chicken stock, 1/4 cup milk, and spices to a boil over high heat.

*Add chopped sautéed mushrooms or celery for different varieties of soups.

cream soup 01

Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup milk and the flour until smooth.

Whisk the flour mixture into the boiling stock and continue to whisk and stir until it is thick. This won’t take long, by the way…

cream soup 02

Use right away or store in fridge to use later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bagel Wreath

When I am throwing a party I like the food to be simple yet fun and tasty, too! This one turned out to be all three…

bagel wreath 01

Spread mini bagels with cream cheese.

Sprinkle with dill weed to taste.

Finely chop fresh veggies. I used a mixture of bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, & broccoli.

Sprinkle veggies on top of bagels.

Place in a circle on a plate.

Garnish with a red bell pepper cut to look like a bow.

*You can also cut each bagel into smaller pieces if you want them to be bite-sized pieces.

bagel wreath 02

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Must Have Christmas Treats

The week before Thanksgiving is a frantic rush of trying to get all of the Christmas baking done and in the freezer before Black Friday! All the cookies have to be ready to eat by Saturday, so we can read the Christmas story by candlelight and enjoy hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. The tradition just doesn’t work without the cookies… Not to mention the ease of holiday entertaining with a freezer full of treats ready to pull out in a moment’s notice!

Some are yearly traditions, every year we try a couple of new recipes; some stay and some go. Here is a list of this year’s stash of Christmas treats. Just click on their name to go to the recipe.

cookies 04

From left to right:

Chocolate-dipped chocolate chip: These are my hubby’s all-time favorite dessert! We HAVE to make these!

Cookie Stamp Cookies: I made the stamp by hand while pregnant with our middle son and are fun to make with the kids. This is a fun and sentimental must-have!

  Mint Meltaway Brownies: These chocolate-mint brownies are making their first Christmas appearance but may become a regular… Just make the recipe for my brownies using peppermint extract in place of the vanilla, stir in about 3/4 cup of Ande’s mint baking chips, and top with a swirl of green candy melts. Super easy!

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread: Every cookie tray should have an old family recipe and this one is it! It is my Great-Grandma Miller’s recipe and is the ideal blend of cranberry and orange!

cookies 02 Top tier:

See’s Fudge: Easiest best fudge ever! ‘Nuff said!

Petticoat Tails: I haven’t made these for Christmas in a few years. This year I divided the dough into thirds, dyed two red and green. Rolled them flat, stacked them up, rolled them again before chilling and slicing. I like the way they look on a Christmas plate!

Mexican Wedding Cakes:Also known as Russian Teacakes, these were a yearly tradition growing up and will be for my kids, too!

Bottom tier:

Gingerbread: Because it just isn’t Christmas without gingerbread!

Orange biscotti: Dip these in hot cocoa and you’ll know why we make them every year! Chocolate and orange, FANTASTIC!

Egg nog logs: These became a new tradition last year. A truly spectacular cookie with a cup of coffee (or without)!

cookies 03This Butter Almond Toffee will probably become yet another Christmas staple!

I don’t have a picture, but no cup of Christmas hot cocoa should be without a homemade peppermint marshmallow!!!    It’s like eating a fluffy minty cloud! They aren’t as hard as they seem… give ‘em a try. You won’t be sorry!

Well, that wraps up our Christmas line-up. What’s on your Christmas must-have treat list???

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy Corn Pudding

This is one of our family’s absolute favorite side dishes! We first had in on Christmas Eve at the Erickson’s while we were in seminary. Moist, delicious, filling and super simple, it is perfect when you need something fast! Yummy with or without sour cream, it is easy to whip up anytime…

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

1 can corn, drained

1 can creamed corn

1 cube butter, melted

1/4 cup sour cream, optional

corn pudding 01

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into greased 9” glass baking dish.

corn pudding 03

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

corn pudding 04

Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

corn pudding 05

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Almond Butter Toffee

After my first failed attempt at making toffee, I was certain that my candy-making skills ended at the soft-ball stage. But I tossed the candy thermometer, flew by the seat of my pants and everything turned out hunky-dory!!!

First thing to do is line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and butter it.

Then mix the following ingredients into a 2-quart saucepan.

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter or margarine (I used half butter & half margarine)

1/4 cup water

Cook on high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is completely dissolved, smooth and golden brown. Don’t forget to keep stirring!!! You have this on high heat!

Immediately remove from the heat and pour onto the cookie sheet. Spread out to about 1/4” thickness. Let stand about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with 1/2-1 cup chocolate chips. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until all the chips are shiny. Then spread over toffee. Immediately sprinkle with almonds, or other chopped nuts of your choice.

Let cool on counter or in fridge until firm. Break into bite-sized pieces. Store in cool place or fridge in airtight container.

toffee 01

I guess I can make it to the hard-crack stage after all… ;o)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Salsa

This is my version of my friend Krisitn’s recipe for cranberry salsa. It’s pretty spicy but can easily be toned down to suit less hearty taste buds… It can be served over cream cheese with Wheat Thins or plain with tortilla chips.

1 bag fresh cranberries, washed & drained

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger

1/2-1 cup cilantro leaves

4-8 cloves garlic

1 jalapeno pepper

juice of 1 lime

zest of 1 orange (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until chopped but not pureed.

Chill until read to serve.

cranberry salsa 01

Monday, December 5, 2011

Maple Cream Pumpkin Roll

This recipe is from my friend at SweetAnna’s. I decided last minute to make this for Thanksgiving. Like that morning last minute. But thankfully this super easy recipe turned out great! My cake cracked a bit but I am sure that it was because I was too impatient to get it finished and it still turned out very nice!

pumpkin roll 10

I really wanted something maple-y, so I put maple extract instead of vanilla in the filling. Unfortunately I was so stuffed on Thanksgiving that it didn’t even taste good. I decided not to even bother posting it until I tried it again the next day for lunch… It tastes much better when you don’t feel like you are going to explode!  But it is rich and will totally fill you up until supper when you have it for lunch… ;o)

Here’s the recipe. The only thing I changed was the maple extract in the filling.

Ingredients:

for the cake:

1/4 cup powdered sugar (for dusting the towel)

3/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup pumpkin purée

for the filling:

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, room temperature

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or maple extract)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line a 10x15" jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and then spray with baking spray.  Sprinkle a clean tea towel with powdered sugar.  Set pan & towel aside.

pumpkin roll 01
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice & salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, vanilla & sugar until thick & creamy.  Add in the pumpkin and mix to combine.
Stir in the flour mixture and spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched.  Immediately (with oven mitts...  it is hot!) loosen the edges of the cake and turn it out onto the sugared towel. 

pumpkin roll 02

Peel off the parchment paper.

pumpkin roll 04
Roll up the cake & towel together fairly tightly, starting with a narrow end.

pumpkin roll 07

Cool completely on a wire rack.

pumpkin roll 08
In another medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter & vanilla until smooth.
Carefully unroll the cooled cake (removing the towel) and spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the cake, coming to about 1/4" away from the edges. 

pumpkin roll 09

See, you don’t even see the cracks under the filling… ;o)

Reroll the cake, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

pumpkin roll 10
This cake can be stored in the fridge up to 5 days, or wrapped well in plastic and foil - in the freezer for several weeks!

pumpkin roll 11

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Pudding Pie in a Jar

It’s kind of a cumbersome name but I just couldn’t think of anything better…

pumpkin mousse 04

First whip 1 cup of whipping cream until thick. Stir together 4 Tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 Tablespoon of instant clear gel (to stabilize cream). Add to whipped cream along with 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Whip until very thick. *You can also use an 8oz tub of whipped topping.

Cream 4 oz softened cream cheese

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix until smooth

Beat 1 3/4 cups milk with one 3 oz box of pumpkin spice instant pudding mix until thick.

pumpkin mousse 05

Mix together the pudding and cream cheese mixture.

pumpkin mousse 01

Fold in whipped cream.

Fill the bottoms of 6-8 half-pint, wide-mouthed jars with cookie crumbs. I think graham crackers or ginger snaps would be best.

pumpkin mousse 02

Top with mousse and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

pumpkin mousse 03

I think I will try making these for Thanksgiving this year… Maybe???

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Caramel Shortbread

I was inspired by a picture on Pinterst but already have both a shortbread and caramel recipe that I love, so I just used mine and gave it a try…

The result was divine!

caramel shortbread 03

1/2 cups softened butter

1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/8 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in flour and salt with hands or stand mixer. Press into a parchment lined 8”x8” pan to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

caramel shortbread 01

Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.

Let cool completely on wire rack.

While the shortbread cools make a batch of caramel…

1 cup butter or margarine ( I use margarine because I read that it makes a less sticky caramel)

2 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 can condensed milk

1 cup corn syrup

1 pinch salt ( I use about 1/4 tsp)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Heat to 248-250 degrees F  Cook for 2 minutes at that temperature. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Meanwhile, butter a parchment-lined 9x13 inch baking pan. When the caramel is ready, pour some to cover the top of the cooled shortbread. Salt the top with course kosher salt if desired.

caramel shortbread 02

Pour the remaining caramel into the buttered pan.

caramels 01

Allow to cool completely at room temperature. Remove from the pan and cut into squares using scissors. Wrap individual pieces in waxed paper or plastic wrap so they will hold their shape.

caramels 04

After the cookies have completely cooled, slice into small squares. Store in airtight container in fridge. Take out a few minutes before serving.

caramel shortbread 03

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

Super simple way to turn boring old pancake mix into a delicious autumn treat!

2 cups just-add-water pancake mix

1 1/2 cups water (or more if needed)

1/3 cup pumpkin

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Add more water if batter is too thick.

pumpkin pancakes 01

pumpkin pancakes 02

Pour onto heated griddle. Flip when bubbles appear on surface. Cook until done on both sides.

Serve them with syrup:

pumpkin pancakes 03

Or cook them with a cinnamon swirl

pumpkin pancakes 04

Or throw in some cinnamon or chocolate chips…

pumpkin pancakes 05

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall Rice & Sausage Pot

I tweaked this crock pot recipe to a stove-top recipe because I forgot to start it in the morning. But it turned out great and was actually a quick and easy meal!

1 pound pre-cooked, sliced sausage

1 apple, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1 Tablespoon parsley

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups rice

4 cups chicken stock

Place everything into a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 16 minutes or until rice is done.

fall rice 01

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cajun Chicken Linguine

This was a pretty simple and tasty recipe I got from myrecipes.com. Well seasoned with the perfect amount of spice and a nice mixture of vegetables. Made a nice supper with a salad and a loaf of sourdough bread.

The original recipe is HERE.

  • 12 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 2 pounds chicken breast strips
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 (8-oz.) package fresh mushrooms
  • 2 green onions (white and light green parts only), sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Garnish: chopped green onions
Preparation
  • Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  • Sprinkle chicken evenly with Cajun seasoning and 1 tsp. salt.
  • cajun chicken 01
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until done. Remove chicken.
  • Add bell peppers, mushrooms, and green onions to skillet, and sauté 9 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates.
cajun chicken 02

cajun chicken 03

cajun chicken 04

  • Return chicken to skillet; stir in half-and-half, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat 3 to 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add linguine; toss to coat.
  • cajun chicken 05
  • Garnish, if desired, and serve immediately.

cajun chicken 06