Saturday, December 12, 2015

Brownie Cookies

If you’re craving a rich, chocolaty cookie, but you’re short on time and you just can’t find the recipe you know you have somewhere OR maybe you want a quick and easy cookie recipe for a pot luck, party or gift, THESE brownie cookies are the perfect solution.

There are only four ingredients….really…only four! It’s brownie mix, eggs and oil mixed together and rolled in powdered sugar. That’s it! I’ve been making these for the past few years and when I do, suddenly my kids and husband appear in the kitchen sniffing the air and smiling when they see what’s baking. Seriously, you gotta make these. But, do yourself a favor and double the recipe. Trust me – they go fast!

1 regular size pkg. brownie mix
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 c. canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using electric mixer, combine first three ingredients. Form into balls (use a cookie dough scoop if you have one. Roll in bowl of powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes.

Another tip: follow this same recipe for snickerdoodles. Just swap out the brownie mix with a spice cake mix, then roll each ball first in melted butter then in a sugar & cinnamon mixture.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Super Easy Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

11 oz. bag Caramel Bits
2 tsp. heavy cream
6-8 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
Sea salt
Cooking spray

Pour caramel pieces and heavy cream in a medium microwavable bowl. Place in microwave and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between.

Spray a candy mold. I used this silicone mold.

Once caramel is melted to a smooth consistency, carefully spoon into candy mold and refrigerate for about an hour.

Break up chocolate pieces into a medium microwavable bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until completely melted and smooth.

Remove caramels from the mold after they have set. Put one caramel at a time into the chocolate using a fork and spoon to coat completely in the chocolate. Gently lift the caramel out with a work and place on wax paper to set up.

Repeat with remaining caramels. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and refrigerate to set for about 30 minutes.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Leftover Turkey Casserole

Leftover Turkey Casserole

I’ll let you in on a little secret….I’m not a big fan of turkey. There. I said it, LOL. Honestly, dreaming up new ways to use the leftovers not only helps to disguise it, but it also gets it out of my fridge sooner (smiles).

I made a batch of turkey noodle soup a couple days ago and happily dished up the last drops of it this morning for my husband’s lunch.

With the remaining turkey pieces, I made this wonderful-smelling casserole. This is a quick and easy recipe taken from the classic tried and true version. Seriously, whether you love turkey or not, you should make this just because it smells so welcoming and wonderful.

2 c. diced turkey
2 c. rice, prepared and cooked (you could use whatever rice you like. Since I wanted something quick and easy, I just used plain white)
1 can cream of chicken soup
(1 soup can of) milk
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. turkey drippings (optional)
½ medium onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
½ c. red bell pepper, diced
½ c. frozen corn
½ c. frozen peas
 Salt and pepper
¼ tsp. dried sage
¼ tsp. poultry seasoning
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of paprika
French fried onions for top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 °.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, celery and bell pepper and sauté stirring occasionally until onions are opaque. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in diced turkey and frozen veggies. Sprinkle in sage, poultry seasoning, garlic powder and paprika. Stir to combine. Reduce heat.

Meanwhile, pour cream of chicken soup in small sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in 1 can of milk and combine well. Reduce heat.

Pour cooked rice over turkey and veggies and stir.

Pour soup mixture over turkey and rice. Stir to combine well.

Pour into a casserole dish (I used a square 9x9). Sprinkle with French fried onions. Bake approximately 30 minutes.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sausage Stuffing Muffins

This is such a wonderful time of year for so many reasons. One being that we get to enjoy some of our favorite once-a-year type recipes. And these Sausage Stuffing Muffins is one I’ve been making for about 25 years.

I found this recipe in a magazine right after my husband and I were married. I used to make it in a large baking dish for holiday gatherings with family, but the past few years I’ve realized that by making the same recipe and baking it in a muffin pan, not only does it make for great portion control, but I can make them for Thanksgiving, tuck away whatever is left over in the freezer, then pull them out again for Christmas dinner! And believe me…if you make these for Thanksgiving, you’ll be craving them again by Christmas! They’re that good J

Sausage Stuffing Muffins

1 lb. Jimmy Dean Sausage (½ tube of Hot, ½ tube of Regular)
3 eggs, beaten
2 pkgs. Corn bread stuffing
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese
2 stalks celery, diced
½ large yellow onion, diced
1 ½ tsp. poultry seasoning
2 tsp. fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans reduced sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 °.

Brown sausage in large skillet over medium heat. Drain.

In large bowl, mix sausage with all other ingredients reserving 1 c. cheddar cheese for topping. Stir until well combined.

Scoop into muffin pan and top with cheese.

Bake about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

As I mentioned above, these freeze well. To use at a later date, just pull a few from the freezer, thaw and reheat.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cheesy Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

Everything in moderation, right? Well, sometimes when Friday finally rolls around and you look back at the week you’ve just come through and you feel like you could really use a food hug…this is just the thing.

This rustic bread flavored with rosemary all wrapped around a dreamy, gooey cheese combination will help put all the unpleasantries of the week far, far behind you..... :)

1 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Dry ingredients:
4 c. bread flour
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. freshly grated cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Grate combination of cheeses to equal 1 1/2 cups. I used mozzarella, Parmesan, Gruyere and smoked Gouda but I think I will keep it simple and use only Parmesan and mozzarella next time.
2-3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Olive oil
2 Tbsp. to 1/4 c. milk
1 egg, beaten

Dissolve yeast in warm water and honey. Stir well and set aside to bloom (about 10 minutes).

Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl.

Slowly add dry ingredients to yeast mixture and combine well in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If dough is too dry and crumbly, add a little milk. Once fully combined and dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl, turn out onto floured surface. Knead well then place dough in large bowl that's been drizzled with a little olive. Coat all sides of dough with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for approximately 1 hour or until doubled in size.

In medium bowl, mix the filling ingredients.

Turn dough out onto floured surface once again. Knead just a little then use a rolling pin to flatted into a rectangular shape. (I didn't measure mine, but it was roughly the size of a lasagna pan).

Once you have a rectangle shape, use a pizza cutter (you could use a knife - whichever is easier for you) and slice 4-5 strips on either side (on the long side) toward the center, but do NOT cut all the way from one side to the other because you're going to sprinkle filling down the center. 

Once you have your strips on either side, drizzle a little oil down the center then arrange the cheese mixture down the middle over the olive oil. 

"Lace" up the strips over the cheese by carefully pulling each one over and securing with a toothpick.

Allow the loaf to rest for about 20-30 minutes then brush the entire loaf with a beaten egg.

Bake at 400 for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies with Coconut Oil

Well, I love using new ingredients and I recently picked up some coconut oil not really knowing what to do with it but vowing to do a little research. Turns out it's a low to medium-temp oil useful for sauteing, baking and yes, even as a moisturizer (who knew? LOL).

While this is not my own recipe (found it over here), I will be using it again. These cookies turned out great. Flavorful, great texture and probably won’t last the night! So, pick up some coconut oil, try this recipe and see for yourself.

Shared from Epicurious.com

Just about 1 c. coconut oil
2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
¾ c. sugar
1 1/3c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs (or 2 jumbo)
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ½ c. peanut butter (the original recipe calls for crunchy, unsalted but I used regular creamy).

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In large bowl, beat together coconut oil and peanut butter. Beat in the eggs. Add the sugars and vanilla. Combine with dry ingredients. Roll into small balls and bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Apple Caramel Cakes

I had a few Granny Smith apples I needed to use up and wanted to find a way to pair them with the half bag of Caramel Bits stashed in the pantry. I started out hoping for cookies, but the way the batter turned out, I ended up breaking in my new mini Bundt cake pan instead.

I drizzled prepared vanilla frosting over the tops of these, but they would be just as good with a dusting of powdered sugar…and a cup of coffee…of course (smiles).

What you’ll need:
3 Granny Smith apples
½ bag Caramel Bits (available in the baking aisle of the grocery store)
2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. butter, softened
¾ c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°. Generously spray baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Dice apples into medium bowl. Toss with lemon juice.

In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well.

Pour Caramel Bits into microwave-safe bowl. Add milk. Microwave on high. Stir and repeat until creamy and smooth.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Gently mix apples with butter mixture.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until fully incorporated. Mix in melted caramel.

Pour into mini cake pan.

Bake approximately 30 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Run a knife around the edges and invert onto a cooling rack.

Either drizzle frosting or dust with powdered sugar or however you wish J

Yield: 6 mini-Bundt cakes

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Spinach and Bacon Skillet Quiche

Spinach and Bacon Skillet Quiche

9 in. prepared pie shell
4 strips of bacon
1 ½ c. fresh spinach leaves
6 eggs
1 Tbsp. butter
½ med. red bell pepper, diced
2 med. green onions (tops), diced
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. freshly grated cheese (I used a combination of sharp cheddar and mozzarella)
 ½ c. Half and Half
2 tsp. Herbs de Provence
1 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Unroll pie crust and fit into a 10” cast iron skillet. Set aside.

Cook bacon in separate pan over medium heat. Remove bacon to paper towels and let drain. (Either discard bacon drippings or transfer to another container for later use.) Melt butter in pan and sauté bell peppers and onions. Sprinkle with a little black pepper. Once peppers and onions are cooked, crumble bacon and add it to the pan.

In medium bowl, beat eggs and Half and Half. Add Herbs de Provence and flour. Mix well.

Layer spinach leaves in bottom of pie crust. Sprinkle half of grated cheese over the top of spinach leaves.

Pour bell pepper, onions and crumbled bacon over the cheese.

Pour egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and bake for approximately 43-45 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly before slicing.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, what is a gal to do when she has several overripe bananas and she doesn’t want to break out the tired old banana nut bread recipe? Well, she turns them into cookies! The wonderful aroma of these things are still hanging in the kitchen and I’m thinking a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top with maybe a drizzle of caramel sauce would be the perfect way to end the day.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. butter, softened
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ s. packed brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 c. old fashioned quick oats
6oz. pkg of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease a 12”x16”x1” baking pan. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in bananas.

In medium bowl, combine flour with baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk in quick oats. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until well combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Turn dough out onto baking pan and smooth out evenly. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before slicing into squares.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Amazing Shrimp Chowder

I’ve been making this recipe all day in my head. I couldn’t wait to come home and put it all together and share it with you. I kinda want a big bowl of this EVERY night for at least the next week J

Amazing Shrimp Chowder
12oz. bag frozen shrimp, thawed (if you’re into cleaning and de-veining shrimp,
 then go ahead and buy it fresh)
3-4 slices bacon
½ yellow onion, small dice
1 stalk of celery, small dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 med. red potato, small dice
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
26oz. seafood stock
2 c. heavy cream
½ white wine
2-3 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning (to taste)
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. freshly chopped Italian parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook bacon in large soup pot. Remove from pot and drain on paper towel. In bacon drippings, sauté onions and celery. Season with a little pepper. Add garlic and stir around to let it cook but don’t let the garlic brown.

Meanwhile, place diced potato in small sauce pot, cover with water and bring to boil. Cook until tender and drain. Set aside.

Add butter and flour to onions and celery. Whisk and cook for a few minutes. Add white wine and seafood stock and bring it to a boil whisking often. Add Old Bay Seasoning. Whisk in heavy cream and bring to just a boil. Add potatoes and add the bacon (crumbled). Combine well.

Add thyme leaves and Italian parsley and stir in shrimp last.

Serve it hot with crusty French bread.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chicken Divan Minis

Well, there’s really only one word to describe these little gems: DELICIOUS! And tonight, it’s dinner. This would also be great as an appetizer or serve it with a salad and it’s a meal!

I picked up a tube of prepared pizza dough, not really knowing which direction I was going to go with it, but knowing I wanted to use ingredients I already had. This is a spin-off of a Chicken Divan recipe I’ve been making for years – just made into smaller portions and with a crust. I love this recipe because you could do so many different variations with it. I truly feel that we should have fun with cooking. No be intimidated or afraid of it. Right? Well, I definitely had fun with this one. Check it out…

Chicken Divan Minis

6 chicken tenderloins (I just pulled them straight from the freezer and threw
them in the pan)
1 ½ c. broccoli, chopped small
1 ½ c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 tube prepared refrigerated pizza dough
1 can cream of chicken soup
French fried onions
Garlic salt
Black pepper
Italian seasoning
Olive oil
Cooking spray

Preaheat oven to 400°.

In skillet over medium heat, pour 1 to 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Place chicken tenders in pan and season with garlic salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Brown on both sides. Remove chicken from pan and dice.

Open tube of pizza dough and roll out pretty thin. Using a 2-inch square cutter, cut out dough and place in muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray. Prebake for about 5-7 minutes or until the corners of the dough start to brown.

Cut broccoli into small pieces. Grate cheese.

In small saucepan, pour soup from can. Fill soup can ¾ full with milk. Whisk soup and milk until combined.

Return diced chicken and broccoli to skillet. Pour soup mixture over the top and stir. Scoop mixture into partially cooked dough cups. Top with cheese and French fried onions. Bake another 10 minutes or so or until cheese is completely melted and dough is golden brown.


(Note: I had some dough and filling left over, so I just patted out the dough in a small baking dish, piled the filling into it and topped with cheese).


Monday, October 26, 2015

Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies

So, I picked up a bag of granola the other day. It has dried cranberries and almonds in it and looked so good. I've been trying to come up with a way to use it, so I made these...

I think they're one of my new favorites :)

Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
12oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. Nature Valley Crunchy Granola (Cranberry Almond)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream butter and both sugars in large bowl. Add beaten egg and vanilla.
In separate bowl, combine flour with baking soda and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to butter and sugar mixture. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and granola and mix until combined. (NOTE: crush up any large pieces of granola before adding them to the mix. I poured mine into a freezer bag and hit it a few times with my rolling pin).

Turn dough out onto greased 9”x13” glass baking dish. Spread dough evenly across dish (I had to use the palm of my hand…and that’s ok). Bake 20 to 25 minutes. The edges will be slightly brown, but really…your nose will tell you when it’s done. Cool slightly before slicing into bars/squares.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Stenciled Cookie Attempt

You know…some days you just need to express yourself through cookie art. Right? I recently purchased a few cookie stencils and decided to give them a try. Not the easiest thing in the world to do, but here is my first attempt at both flood icing some shortbread cookies, letting them dry/harden and then trying my hand at stenciling with a little chocolate frosting. They're not perfect, by any stretch of the word, but at least I can scratch cookie stenciling off my bucket list. Been there. Done that. May try it again to perfect it and hopefully end up with cleaner edges...we'll see :)

Basic Shortbread Cookies
2 sticks of butter (at room temperature)
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour (more for dusting)
½ tsp. salt

Royal Icing
2 egg whites, beaten
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla extract. 

In separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Add flour mixture slowly to butter and sugar. Mix well until fully combined.

Turn dough out onto floured surface. Use rolling pin, roll dough out to between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters of your preference and place each cut out onto a cookie sheet (I used a 2-inch round and a 2-inch square for mine).

Bake 30-40 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on wire cooling rack.

Combine the 3 ingredients to prepare the royal icing in a medium-sized bowl. If the consistency is too thick, add just a little water to thin it out (if it's too thin, add a little more powdered sugar). It needs to be pourable but not too runny. Add 2 or 3 drops of food coloring to achieve desired color. Stir well. 

Very carefully pour your royal icing in a squirt bottle (use a funnel if necessary - it's so much easier than a piping bag. You can thank me later) and secure the applicator. Use immediately as the icing will harden if exposed to the air for very long.

On cooled cookie, begin with tip of squirt bottle to outline your cookie with the icing. I tried this two different ways: 1) I outlined several cookies first creating a barrier to keep the icing from dripping down the sides and I let it dry before filling/flooding with icing and 2) (because I have not been blessed with the "patience" gene) I just started on the outer rim and worked my way inside filling with the icing. I much prefer the 2nd method because I didn't like the way the outer line looked when it dried.

Once you've flooded the surface of your cookie with the royal icing, use a toothpick to spread icing evenly toward edges and to break up any air bubbles that have formed.

Allow icing to cool and harden before any further decorating (a couple hours or you could start this process, allow them to harden overnight and finish the next day).

Once icing is hardened, carefully place a cookie stencil over the cookie and hold down on one corner. Using a offset spatula, load very little frosting (I just used regular cake frosting in a can at room temperature) and spread over your stencil beginning with the corner closest to you and working your way out. Be sure to spread evenly with a very thin layer. Carefully remove stencil. Embellish as desired.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pasta 'n Chicken

Pasta ‘n Chicken

It’s another busy night around here. “Dinner” will be a quick grab-and-go kind of thing between activities and this no-fuss pasta dish is the perfect solution.

There’s no real science to this recipe. I’ll just tell you what I used.

6 chicken tenderloins
Thin spaghetti (a handful about the diameter of a quarter)
½ red bell pepper
1 c. broccoli, chopped
6-8 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. white wine
Olive oil
 ¼ c. + 1 Tbsp. Butter
Garlic salt
Italian seasoning
Black pepper
Water for pasta
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, optional

In large sauce pan, heat about 4-5 cups of water to boiling. Add a little salt. Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. In same sauce pan, melt ¼ c. (1/2 stick butter) with 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir around for a minute or so. Add white wine. Bring to boil and let the mixture reduce a little. Reduce heat and add lemon juice and fresh parsley.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, brown chicken tenderloins. Season with garlic salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Remove chicken as they brown and dice into smaller pieces.

In same skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter. Saute bell pepper, broccoli and tomatoes for a few minutes. Add diced chicken to veggies. Toss drained pasta with chicken and veggies. Pour reduced wine mixture over pasta and chicken and toss. Serve hot. Top with a little Parmesan.



Friday, October 16, 2015

Easy Chili Verde

Easy Chile Verde


3 Anaheim Chilies, seeded
5 tomatillos
½ onion
½ jalapeno, seeded
2 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
½ c. water
1 Tbsp. cilantro (optional)


Preheat grill pan or large skillet. Place whole chilies, tomatillos and jalapeno on pan. Cook over medium heat allowing them to char a little on the outside turning them with tongs to brown evenly on all sides.

Remove from pan and allow to cool.

Cut tops off of chilies and jalapeno. Remove seeds. Cut Anaheim chilies in half and place in food processor. I used only half of the jalapeno because I’m not a fan of super spicy stuff. Add garlic cloves, ground cumin, salt and pepper. Squeeze juice of lime and pulse 3 to 4 times. Add just a little water at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Add the cilantro last then pulse again.

This is great to use for chili verde, breakfast burritos or with chips.