December 30, 2014

Top 5 of 2014


#5 Ruth's Chris New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp came in at number 5 for the year.  Hard to go wrong with this recipe, if you are a shrimp lover this is a great recipe to try. 



#4  Homemade Jerky Marinade.  I seriously make this recipe all the time!  It's unusual for me to make the same recipe over and over again and not change anything but this is one that I don't mess with. Great flavor without being too spicy. 


#3  S'mores Cookie Bars are a favorite for so many people.  The bar itself is perfectly chewy and with the addition of the chocolate and marshmallows on top you just can't go wrong.


#2  Crock-Pot Pork Chops are so easy to throw together and let your slow cooker do the work.  The meat comes out so tender and delicious.


#1  Lemon Velvet Cake is just scrumptious.  Perfectly lemony and perfect for the summer.


Thanks for all your support these past years!  I am looking forward to seeing what the New Year brings.

December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas.  Thank you for your support in 2014, I can't wait to see what 2015 brings.

December 18, 2014

Holiday Baking Day



A little tradition that some of my neighbors and I do every year is a baking day a couple of weeks before Christmas.  This year it was me, Melissa and Emily all crowded together in my kitchen surrounded by sugar and laughing our heads off.  Such a fun day. 

In case you're wondering what we do, here are the perimeters. 
  • We each plan to make three things
  • We usually have at least one and sometimes two "no bake" items that can be done on the stove top or just in a mixing bowl. 
  • We bring all of our own supplies, that includes trays, mixers, measuring cups and ingredients. 
  • If you're super on top of things you can even make the dough or whatever before arriving so there is less to do once you get there.  
  • Since the event was at my house I went ahead and baked my cookies before everyone else arrived so they could have the oven. 
  • I also provided some healthy snacks and some not so healthy snacks for us to eat while baking in hopes that we wouldn't fill up on only sugar.
  • At the end of the day we split all the things we made into thirds and share - then you end up with 9 items that you can either gift out, eat or freeze and save for your Christmas guests. 





Brigadeiro (Brazilian Truffle)
Recipe from AllRecipes.com

One of my new favorites.  I love for so many reasons but it only having three ingredients is a big one. Also, the texture is so very smooth and chocolaty.  This truffle never really gets hard even in the refrigerator. 




Peppermint Meltaways
Recipe from Taste of Home

This was the first time trying this cookie and I wasn't disappointed.  I love peppermint and the cookie itself really does melt in your mouth.  The candy on top is a must for me, I love the crunchy little peppermint bite. 


Buttery Caramel Sauce

I've made this before and the reason I made it again was because it's so delicious.  I can ALWAYS think of something to add caramel to.  I just doubled the recipe and sent my friends home with their own jars.  This makes a great gift to give away but don't forget to keep some for yourself!



Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix

These are advertised as addictive, and they are.  They seem so unassuming just sitting there in their little bowl.  Then you try one.  Then you can't stop. 



Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

This little goodie was made by Melissa.  I now you've probably seen or tasted them before but they are amazing.  The cookie portion is nice and chewy just like I like them and of course it doesn't hurt that you bite into a peanut butter cup too.  So darn good. 



Honeycomb

Seriously one of my new all time favorites.  I don't know how I've survived this long without having this before.  It sort of reminds me of peanut brittle without the peanuts.  Only the texture is slightly different because of all those air pockets.  It's crunchy but not break your teeth crunchy.  I need to make them myself ASAP. Thanks Emily for introducing me to these, and my dentist thanks you too. 



Swig Sugar Cookies

Emily made these yummies.  I love how they are so soft that they practically melt in your mouth. Oh and that sour cream frosting is devine.

(I'm lame and I forgot to get a close up picture of this one.)  It is pictured at the very top of the page though and this website below has excellent pictures.  Sorry!



December 16, 2014

Peppermint Meltaways


This is another one of the treats I made when my neighbors and I had a baking day recently.  This cookie is totally delicious and perfect for the holidays.  Its the kind of cookie that sort of just melts when you bite it (hence the name).  It's not chewy or cakey but it's not hard either, I'm just going to call it tender.  The peppermint extract is subtle but flavorful. The frosting on top is really good too.  I love the crushed candies on top because you get all the different textures in one bite. Smooth frosting with the peppermint background and the sweet crunch of those candies is just perfect. 

Santa would love these on Christmas Eve.  Just sayin. 
Peppermint Meltaways
Recipe from Taste of Home


Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
Frosting
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and confectioners sugar.
  3. Add the extract and combine. 
  4. In a small bowl, sift the flour and cornstarch together. 
  5. Add the flour mixture in with the other wet ingredients and mix together. 
  6. Place dough in a one inch ball and put on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  The cookies will remain pale.  Only the bottoms will get slightly golden. Remove to wire racks to cool. 
  7. To prepare frosting, add the softened butter to the mixing bowl and cream it together with the confectioners sugar.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. 
  8. Place a dollop of frosting on each cookie and top with a sprinkling of crushed peppermints. 

December 11, 2014

Brigadeiro (Brazilian Truffle)


My daughter recently started taking some jiu jitsu classes, and because of that I got interested in Brazilian foods.  I'm weird like that.

Anyways, I discovered this amazing looking truffle with only three main ingredients and I immediately knew that I'd be making them, and soon.

My opportunity showed itself when my friends and I decided on a day to get together to do our annual "baking day".  We usually try to fit it in a week or two before Christmas.  We each make three things and then we split it all three ways.  So in the end we all walk away with 9 items that we can either gift out, share for Christmas or just sit in a corner and eat all by ourselves.  Of course I would NEVER do that last option.  I don't know why I even brought it up, really.  But if you were to do that, I would not judge you. At all.

So like I was saying.  I made these truffles not really knowing what to expect.  The mixture is pretty soft so I stuck it in the refrigerator to make them easier to roll into a ball.  They were still pretty sticky so I oiled up my hands and rolled them that way.  That worked but it was still pretty messy. You can roll them in just about anything but I just stuck to some good ol' fashioned chocolate sprinkles (jimmies) and they were DEVINE!  Really.  The concoction never really gets solid so I kept mine in the refrigerator and when I wanted something sweet I just grabbed one.  They do become much less messy after some refrigerator time and of course once they are rolled around in something.  Even after a couple of days in the refrigerator (in an airtight container) they were soft and delicious.  Wonderful chocolate flavor without being too powerful.  They are soft like biting into a soft fudge would be. It sort of pulls a little when you bite it.  Smoothness personified.  It only takes a few minutes to make the mixture and then a little time to let it cool down.  They are messy to roll but so worth it.  Just keep a little bowl of warm water nearby and that will help.

I LOVE them.  To be added to my list of favorites for sure.

Brigadeiro (Brazilian Truffle)
Recipe from AllRecipes.com


Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. About 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool until cool enough to handle. Form into balls and roll in your choice of toppings.
  2. Topping suggestions: Sweetened coconut flakes, chopped nuts, sprinkles, cocoa powder, crushed up candies like peppermints or toffee. 

December 8, 2014

Orange Bites


Happy Monday!  Well we're that much closer to the weekend right? I'm trying to look on the bright side.

My weekend was super busy, was yours? Tis the season after all.

This recipe comes from the most amazing cookbook.  I love it because it was recipes submitted by people all over America, then Cooks Country tested the recipe and made improvements if needed and then published the recipe and talked about the improvements if there were any.  This recipe was one where no improvements were needed.  It is one of the most unusual cookies I've ever made.

I'll try to describe the flavors but I'm not sure I'll be doing them justice.  They do have an orange flavor, however the dates add a sweetness and texture that is hard to explain.  Combine that with the sweetness of the butterscotch and the nuts it's almost like a fruitcake.  The texture isn't cakey or chewy…..it's moist and has chunks of complimentary flavors but it's heavy and dense. I know that wasn't a great description but you just have to make them and try them yourself.  They are super delicious.  Definitely unique.  I think it's a great holiday type cookie since it is sort of reminiscent of a fruit cake (in my opinion).

I'm so glad I tried this recipe.  I love to try new things, especially during the holiday season when a lot of people tend to stick to the same tried and true recipes.  This will shake things up just a tiny bit. :)

Orange Bites
Recipe from "From Our Grandmother' Kitchens" page 141


Ingredients
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted whole dates, chopped
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • confectioners' sugar for dusting
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat oven to 375º
  2. Place oven racks in the upper, middle and lower positions.
  3. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Bring dates, butter, brown sugar, orange juice and zest to a simmer in a sauce pan and cook until slightly thickened. Measure out 2 cups of this mixture and let cook about 5 minutes. Then remove to a large bowl to let cool to room temperature. About 30 minutes.
  5. Whisk eggs into cooled date mixture, one at a time.  Combine. 
  6. In another bowl add the flour, salt and baking soda. 
  7. Fold in the flour mixture into the date mixture until just combined. 
  8. Add the butterscotch chips and the nuts and combine.
  9. Drop by rounded Tbsp onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes.  The edges will begin to brown and firm up a little and the centers will soft and puffy. 
  10. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through the baking process. 
  11. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for about 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  12. Lightly dust with confectioners' sugar before serving. 

December 3, 2014

Cry Babies



OK, now that my tree is up it officially feels like Christmas is right around the corner.  And as usual I feel unprepared. My calendar is filling up fast and I'm trying not to get overwhelmed.  I know you are probably experiencing similar feelings.

One of the things that is coming up that I'm so excited for is baking day with some friends.  We do it every year and it's always such a good time.  I have such a long list of things I want to make that I knew it wouldn't really matter if I went ahead and made these early.  I was dying to taste them!

This cookie is full of flavor.  It's texture is cakey but it has the strong molasses flavor and the three little chocolate chips on top give it just a kick of sweetness.  They are already sweet of course but not overly so.  The color is dark and almost makes you think they are a chocolate cookie.  The make your house smell really good while they are baking.

My family loved this cookie.  I'm not a huge cakey cookie person but I enjoyed the flavor a lot.  Great with a big glass of milk (as my husband always says). Perfect for the holidays because of the nice spicy flavor from the molasses.  Perfect for your holiday table.

Cry Babies
Recipe from The State Hometown Cookbook Series, South Carolina Hometown Cookbook page 190
originally called Jack's Favorite Cry Babies.


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 whole egg, beaten
  • chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat. Add the molasses, ginger, cinnamon and flour and mix.
  3. Use a small saucepan to heat the water to a boil and then add the baking soda. Pour into the flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
  4. Add the egg.
  5. Use a cookie scoop or two spoons to scoop a decent sized amount onto a greased cookie sheet. About the size of a golf ball.
  6. Place three chocolate chips in the center (pointy side up)
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm to the touch.

December 1, 2014

Hash Brown Casserole



This is one of a couple of dishes that I brought to my friends house for Thanksgiving.  I've made similar recipes in the past but decided to try a new recipe for this special dinner.  I was impressed by it.  Creamy sauce combined with the sharpness from the sour cream and sharp cheddar. The onion flavor was prominent but not overpowering.  The crispy topping was delish.  There wasn't anything about this recipe that I would change. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it fairly quickly and it can be a side, main dish and even breakfast. 

Next time I make it I'll update the picture I took.  Sorry!  Sometimes my stomach overpowers my common sense.  
Hash Brown Casserole
Recipe from allrecipes


Ingredients
  • 1 (2 pound) package frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (8 oz) container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups corn flakes cereal, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the corn flakes and the 1/4 cup of butter. Stir together. 
  3. Pour into a 3 quart casserole dish. 
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the corn flakes and the 1/4 of butter and then sprinkle over the top of the casserole. 
  5. Bake covered for 40 minutes. 

November 24, 2014

Apple and Yam (Sweet Potato) Casserole


I can't believe that Thanksgiving is almost here.  I am so unprepared.  As usual.

I always vow to stay out of all retail stores until the middle of January beginning the day after Thanksgiving.  The Internet is my friend.

That does not hold true for the grocery store though, there is no avoiding that.  Luckily I can sneak in when most others are at work and avoid most of the crowds.

This recipe is one of those that I love and appreciate. I love it because I love the combination of apples and sweet potatoes with the lovely syrup made with orange juice and spices. I appreciate it because the two main ingredients can be bought well in advance and they last a long time. Therefore avoiding the crowds just a little bit more.  But even if you have to run out into all that mess you won't regret it.  These flavors have become some of what I look forward to the most during the holidays.  The spices and sweetness of the apples and sweet potatoes with that little hint of orange juice in the background is a favorite of mine.

Apple and Yam Casserole
Recipe from Favorite Brand Name Old Fashioned Holiday Recipes page 102


Ingredients
  • 2 large yams or sweet potatoes
  • 2 large golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Precook the yams or sweet potatoes until they are tender, let cool. You can either cook in the oven at 400º for 50 minutes or by poking holes in them and using the microwave.
  2. In a small casserole dish, layer the apples and sweet potatoes.
  3. In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, ground cloves and orange juice. Heat over medium heat until thickened and then pour over the apples and yams. Sprinkle with nuts if using.
  4. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes.

November 19, 2014

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Raisin Pie


I can't believe I'm just getting around to making one of my dad's favorite pie's.  I've only made this one other time but it was many years ago. This isn't a pie I remember having very much when I was little.  My dad always tells the story of one of our neighbors who makes the BEST Sour Cream Raisin Pie.  I have no idea if this one would live up to hers, but it was still very good.

The filling is thick and full of flavor.  I chose not to use chopped nuts because my dad never mentioned the one he loved so much having nuts in it, and because I'm not a huge lover of nuts inside of desserts.  This pie reminds me of and old fashioned dessert.  I don't know how to describe it exactly except that it made me feel like I was home, cuddled up next to a fire with my family.

I think my dad would be proud of this recipe, I'll have to make it for him the next time I'm in town and get the comparison.  The spices make this a fall/winter dessert for me.  Maybe that's why it feels old fashioned to me.

Well, whatever the reason I'm so glad I tried this recipe.  This would be great for the holiday table!

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Recipe from Taste of Home


Ingredients
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 pie shell, baked
Meringue
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp granulated sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In a small saucepan add the raisins and cover with enough water to cover.  Heat to a boil and then remove from the heat and let sit until needed. 
  3. Use a large saucepan and add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Whisk in the sour cream and the milk until smooth. Stir and cook over medium high heat until thick and smooth.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. 
  4. Remove from the heat and stir some of the hot mixture in with the egg yolks to temper them.  Once tempered you can add the yolks into the saucepan with the hot mixture and turn the heat up until the mix is at a gentle boil and stir and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Drain the raisins and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.  Add the liquid and the raisins into the sour cream mixture and stir until smooth. Pour into the baked pie shell. 
  6. For the Meringue. In the bowl of your stand mixer or using a hand mixer and a small bowl, beat the egg whites and the salt using a whisk attachment until it reaches stiff peaks. Add the sugar in 1 Tbsp at a time.  
  7. Smooth the meringue over the top of the filling, bringing the meringue over to the edge of the crust. 
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. 

November 17, 2014

Apple Pie Bars



Some of you might be inundated right now by pie recipes, I know I am.  My email is full of them!  They all look amazing but they aren't exactly easy to eat especially if you're holding a plate while standing up and trying to balance a drink in one hand.  This scenario makes these apple pie bars the perfect holiday party dessert.

I was a little curious how they might taste, truth be told I didn't even try one until I was AT the party.  Well, they are fantastic.  I'm an apple pie lover but I'm not necessarily a "crust" lover so I didn't know how I would feel about these. The little drizzle over the top puts these bars into the pastry column.  It adds just a little something that makes these irresistible for me.  The filling was perfect for my tastes.  I cut back on the sugar added to the filling and I used a Jonagold apple instead of a Granny Smith so I knew they weren't going to be quite as tart.  The result was amazing.  My husband is a very big believer in apple pie, it's one of his favorites and he loved these (gulp) even MORE than regular apple pie.

I know!!!

I was shocked too.  I guess I'll be adding this recipe to my favorites page. I love it when I find a new family favorite.  Too bad it wasn't for broccoli or something else I wouldn't feel guilty about eating all the time.

Apple Pie Bars
Recipe from Old-Fashioned Holiday Recipes (Favorite Brand Name) Cookbook page 326


Ingredients

Crust
  • Milk
  • 1 egg yolk (save the egg white)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
Filling
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 cups *tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, sliced to 1/4-inch thickness.
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp *granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Drizzle
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. For the crust, use a measuring cup to add enough milk to the egg yolk to equal 2/3 cup. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour and salt.  Cut in the butter using two forks or a pastry cutter. Add the milk/egg yolk mixture and mix with a fork until a dough ball forms. Divide the dough in half and put one half on a well floured surface. Roll the dough out to fit your jelly roll pan (make sure it has at least a 1 inch edge, approximately 15x10x1 in size). Place the dough into the jelly roll pan. 
  4. For the filling. Put 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs over the top of the rolled out dough layer.  Sprinkle evenly. 
  5. Place apples in an even layer over the top of the graham cracker crumbs. Use 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, stir together and sprinkle over the top of the apples. 
  6. Roll out the second half of the dough to the same size as the first one, lay on top of the apples. Brush the top of the dough with the egg white that has been whisked until foamy.  Sprinkle the top with 2 Tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of ground cinnamon. 
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  8. For the drizzle, stir together the three ingredients until smooth.  Drizzle over the top and then cut into bars. 
*I used Jonagold Apples which aren't super tart, therefore I cut back on the sugar added to the filling and only used about 1/2 cup. 

November 14, 2014

A.1. Slow Cooker Pot Roast


This recipe is found pretty easily, from the back of the bottle.  I know, I'm original like that.  The thing is.  I have a tiny itsy bitsy obsession with A.1. sauce and yet it never occurred to me to look on the back of the bottle for a recipe.  So, maybe you're like me.

I love pot roast from a slow cooker.  I love the idea of throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and it being done by dinner time without me having to do much work.  Not to mention the wonderful smells in the kitchen that really work up my appetite.

If you're not a fan of A.1. or at least not obsessed with it like I am, don't worry, this recipe just has a background flavor of A.1. but not an overwhelming one. I'm glad I gave it a try.  I usually have all most of these ingredients on hand so I an throw this together when I want to.  This is a delicious cold weather comfort meal.


A.1. Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Recipe from a bottle of A.1. Steak Sauce


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup A.1. original steak sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package (0.9 oz) onion-mushroom soup mix
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef chuck eye roast
  • vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, onion as examples
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the first 3 ingredients.
  2. Place the meat in the slow cooker and top with the desired vegetables and then pour the sauce over the top of it all.
  3. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or high for 6 to 7 hours.

November 12, 2014

Simple Artichoke Dip


Talk about an easy recipe!  Three ingredients and it's delicious!

I have a small obsession with artichokes.  Seriously, I eat them plain and in salads, I throw them in pasta and on pizza.  I love them.  I also loved this recipe.  I do warn you, if you're not a mayonnaise fan you will probably want to try another recipe.  You can certainly taste the mayo in this one. Also, I recommend you use some artichokes that are in brine.  You can rinse the brine off if you want but that salty briny flavor is really good in combination with the other two ingredients.

I love how easy and delicious this recipe is.  Definitely a keeper.

Simple Artichoke Dip


Ingredients
  • 1 - 14oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in an oven proof dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with pita chips, sliced bread or crackers.

November 10, 2014

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies



If you're like me and you have a ton of these little kisses left over from Halloween, this cookie is a great use for them. 

This recipe is by no means new.  I've been eating this cookie for as long as I can remember.  I think it's been a staple at most of the picnic's and pot lucks that I've ever gone to.  The recipe is usually displayed right on the back of the Hershey Kiss package, but I tore mine and couldn't read it.  So here it is, ready for you anytime you are.

If you're a peanut butter and chocolate fanatic like most of us are, you will love this recipe.  I did also do one small bit of experimenting with this recipe, I used natural refrigerated peanut butter.  You know, the kind you have to stir.  I think they still turned out just fine.  My husband prefers them to the kind you would make using a non-refrigerated peanut butter.  He says that the peanut butter flavor is better although I noticed that there is a difference in texture.  Mine were still soft but not really "chewy".  They tended to break apart a littler easier than the kind made with the other peanut butter. Not that they were falling apart, they weren't at all.

I know that some recipes very specifically will say you cannot use natural refrigerated peanut butter, but in this case I think it was just fine.

A classic cookie recipe!

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Recipe from Hersheys.com


Ingredients
  • 48 Hershey's Kisses
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • additional granulated sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 375º.
  2. Remove the wrappers from the kisses and set aside. 
  3. Mix the shortening and both sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl until light and well mixed. 
  4. Add the egg, milk, vanilla and mix well. 
  5. In a medium bowl add the flour, baking soda and salt and then gradually add it to the wet ingredients.  
  6. Use a teaspoon to grab a little dough about 1 inch in size and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball around in some additional granulated sugar and place on a ungreased baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes and as soon as you take them out of the oven press one Hershey's Kiss into the center. Let sit for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. 
  8. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. 

November 7, 2014

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake (Graveyard Cake)



Guess what I brought to a Halloween party?

Besides the fact that this cake was so much fun for my daughter and I to decorate, it was also fantastically moist, chocolaty and delicious.  Truly a wonderful chocolate cake recipe.

I used this recipe for the frosting because I didn't want anything that would be too thick and fluffy.

I will be making this cake again for other occasions.  It had the perfect chocolate flavor, enhanced by the coffee (which you can't taste) and I'm sure the buttermilk is responsible for how moist it was.  Look no further if you're in the market for a great chocolate cake recipe.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Recipe from Serving Up Southern


Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong, hot coffee
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together (not the sugar) in a medium bowl. 
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream together the sugar and the oil. 
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. 
  5. Slowly incorporate the flour and then pour the hot coffee in by pouring it down the side of the mixer bowl.  Batter will be thin. 
  6. Pour into a jelly roll pan that has been oiled and floured and bake for 20 minutes. Test for doneness by putting a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean it's ready. 
  7. Let cool completely before frosting and decorating. 
Graveyard Decorations: 

Oreo's - cut to look like headstones
Candy Corn - just for decoration
Chocolate Tree - melt chocolate bark and pour some into a zip lock back with the tip cut off or a pastry bag.  Lay a piece of wax paper on a work surface and design your tree.  I recommend not making it too tall, and make sure the branches and truck are wide and sturdy.  Decorate with some Halloween sprinkles if desired.  Let dry and make sure your cake is completely cool before decorating or else your tree will melt. 
Candy Mice - jarred cherries that have been rinsed and dried well.  Dip in chocolate bark and use a Hershey's Kiss for the head.  Place two sliced almonds behind the head for the ears.  Make little eyes with either melted chocolate or sprinkles. 

November 5, 2014

Dinner Club: Theme - Fall Foods

Dinner club is back in session on our cozy little street.  I missed it.  There is just something wonderful about the people living on our street, more than anywhere else I've ever lived. We all spend time with each other eating, drinking and looking out for one another.  It's great.

I was a little hesitant about dinner club in October because it's such a busy month for everyone.  Soccer is in full swing and I think most of us on this street have kids who play, volleyball is going on as well.  Not to mention trying to get ready for Halloween and school in general.  Busy busy busy, I'm sure you all can relate even if you don't have kids.

I decided to take a chance and host the first dinner club since back in the spring.  Luckily the attendance, food and company were awesome!  We had a new member join use last night, hi Alison!  Glad you could make it!

I made two recipes for this dinner club feast.  The main dish was Texas Chili that was made in the slow cooker.



The second recipe I made was dessert, Chocolate Lasagna in fact. I've had this dessert many many times but I've never actually made it.  It's so easy and so delicious that I can see why it's such a favorite. 




Jambalaya is a great fall weather food.  Alison brought this delicious dish and everyone loved it.

Jambalaya

Ingredients and Directions

2 liquid to 1 rice ratio
Roux - 1 can tomato paste and oil 
add trinity and garlic
add sausage and chunky chicken
cool down a bit
add 1 can/box chicken stock/broth, 1 can hot water, 1-2 cans tomatoes whole/sauce, 1 can rotel
season with tony's
bring to boil
add uncle bens rice
bring to boil, cover and simmer until rices is done and no liquid remains (30-40 min) depending on how much is made

trinity-onion, bell pepper, celery




Everyone loved this cornbread casserole made by Lisa W. So full of flavor, I loved the texture and it appears to be easy to throw together for those busy weeknights. 




Cornbread Casserole
Recipe by Home Sweet Ruby


Ingredients
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 packages Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Add all the ingredients (except the cheese) together in a medium bowl and stir.
  3. Pour into a greased 9x13 for thinner, 8x8 or 9x9 for thicker pan.
  4. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes.
  5. Add cheese to the top and bake for another 5 minutes.
  6. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This little gem was made by Wendy. The original name for this recipe was "No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes" but we all thought that they were much more like a mousse than a cheesecake.  We loved the light an fluffy texture and the wonderful pumpkin cheesecake flavor.  Easy to make since there isn't any baking involved.  Great for the holiday's because your oven is probably already overloaded.  We all enjoyed this one tremendously. 



Pumpkin Mousse Cups
Recipe from A Family Feast 


Ingredients
  • 1 sleeve graham crackers
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 - 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 - 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 - 1oz package sugar free cheesecake flavored instant pudding
  • 1 - 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-12oz container frozen whipped topping + extra for garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Add the graham crackers to a food processor and process until they are fine crumbles. Add the melted butter and both sugars and process again until combined and it looks like wet sand.
  2. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of several 9 ounce plastic cups. Refrigerate while you make the mousse. 
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese until smooth. 
  4. Add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and pudding until well mixed. 
  5. Switch to a whisk attachment and add in the whipped topping, slowly, until combined. 
  6. Refrigerate for one hour. 
  7. Use a pastry bag or a zip lock bag with a tip cut off to add the filling into the cups on top of the graham cracker crust. 
  8. Refrigerate until ready to serve, top with more whipped topping and other garnishes if desired. 

Thank you Emily for bringing this one. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all loved this soup.  Most of us love sweet potatoes anyway so this soup was a favorite.  Sweet potatoes are so good for you anyway so to find a new use for them is awesome. Full of creamy flavor with little bites from the cashews.  So good!



Cream of Sweet Potato Soup
Recipe from Food.com


Ingredients
  • 4 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp half and half
  • 1 dash thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cashews for garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender, about 45 minutes. 
  3. Peel off the skins and mash them.  You don't need to get them completely smooth, some chunks are OK. 
  4. Add the mashed potatoes into a large stock pot and add the remaining ingredients except for the cashews. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. 
  5. Add cashews when ready to serve. 
I believe we will resume our dinner clubs after the holiday's.  I can't wait!

November 3, 2014

Orange Cookies



Halloween is just over and already the stores are rockin with Christmas shoppers.  I feel so behind already.  I tend to be one of those who gets all my shopping done in one day the week before Christmas.  I'm prepared like that. Oh, and also mostly online.  I dislike Christmas shopping in stores immensely.

My neighbors and I have a holiday baking day right before Christmas and that's the day that I look forward to every year.  In preparation for that, I have begun to make recipes I want to make.  This one is out of my newest cookbook "South Carolina Hometown Cookbook" that I absolutely LOVE.  From my research online it appears they will have one for each state, so far they only have six I think.

This recipe makes quite a lot of cookies so be prepared.  However, they are delicious so that wasn't a problem in my house.  I also brought them to a Halloween party we attended and they were loved there as well.  

Great orange flavor, moist, caky texture.  The glaze on top really drives home that orange flavor.  We added some sprinkles because cookies just taste better with sprinkles, and because they look pretty with sprinkles, and also I have a little girl who adores them.

It's nice to have this fresh orange flavor in the midst of all this chocolate and mint (which I also love) flavors.  Makes me feel like I'm eating healthy, when I'm actually not at all. 
Orange Cookies
Recipe from South Carolina Hometown Cookbook page 195
Originally named Great Grandma Marden's Orange Cookies


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 whole orange, juiced and zested
  • 3 leveled tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Icing
  • 1 whole orange, juiced and zested
  • powdered sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer add the butter and sugar and beat well.
  3. Add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and orange juice and zest and mix on low speed.
  4. Add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt and mix until blended.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto a cookie sheet. (I used a cookie scoop)
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes. The tops will remain pale but the bottoms will be golden. 
Makes about 50 - 2 inch cookies.