Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

This recipe is the same as my Foolproof Chocolate Fudge recipe, but with minor tweaking. Can't have Christmas without it.

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
Adapted from Eagle Brand
3 cups (18 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Dash salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
Crushed peppermints or candy canes for garnish (optional)

1. Line 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.
2. Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt in heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in extract. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle on crushed peppermint, if desired.
3. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan by lifting edges of foil. Cut into squares.



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cranberry Lime Punch

Here's a holiday punch that I like to make. If you feel like the lime flavor is too strong, you can add a little water.

Cranberry Lime Punch
1 - 2 quart bottle of cranberry juice (or a cranberry blend)
1 - 2 liter bottle of lemon lime soda
1 - 12oz can of frozen concentrated limeade
Cranberries and lime slices for garnish (optional)



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sweet Potato Minestrone Soup

I LOVE the sweet potato in this soup! It adds to the heartiness and helps make this super filling. I had some at a friends house, then made it at home and decided to add the pasta and zucchini. My whole family ate it up...but someone might have picked out the tomatoes. It's hard to please everyone. :)

Sweet Potato Minestrone Soup
1 lb. ground sweet or spicy Italian Sausage (Italian turkey sausage works well too)
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
3/4 cup celery, chopped
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1 medium sized potato)
2 (14.5 oz) cans Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup ditalini pasta (tiny tube shape)
1 cup zucchini, chopped
Parmesan cheese, shredded for garnish

1. Combine sausage, onion, carrots, and celery in skillet over med-high heat, and cook until meat is done.
2. Add sausage mixture, sweet potato, diced tomatoes, beans, chicken broth, and water to slow cooker. Stir to combine.
3. Cook on high for 4 hours.
4. During last 30 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and add to slow cooker, along with zucchini.
5. Cook on high for 30 more minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
6. Serve hot with grated Parmesan on top.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Creamed Corn

My friend Dani brought this creamed corn to Friendsgiving last week. We all loved it so much there was hardly any leftover. I made it tonight because I really didn't get enough!! I used frozen white corn, but yellow is just as great. I thawed it by putting it in a bowl with some warm water. This side is just what your dinner needs!!

Creamed Corn
adapted from allrecipes.com
2 (16 ounce) packages frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tsps salt
3 TBSPs sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 TBSPs butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 TBSPs flour
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a skillet over medium heat, combine the corn, cream, salt, sugar, pepper and butter.
2. Whisk together the milk and flour, and stir into the corn mixture. Cook stirring over medium heat until the mixture is thickened, and corn is cooked through.
3. Remove from heat, and stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted. Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Friendsgiving Table

I had my first ever Friendsgiving yesterday! We divided up the cooking, so I didn't have to make much, which was sooo nice. I was pretty proud of my table, so I wanted to share a few pics of what I did.

My centerpiece planter box is from an Etsy shop called The Wood Paper Studio. I love it. I cut some branches from a plant for the middle, and put pine cones and leaves around it.

I used a piece of burlap from the fabric store as a tablecloth and the glasses and chargers are from Dollar Tree. Only $1 each! I've had them for a few years, but they still sell them!



I made a Friendsgiving sign by printing out letters on the computer using a font called home hearth outlinebold. I cut them out and taped them to some jute twine. I also hung some felt garland that I made a couple of years ago with felt and embroidery thread. 

Pitcher from TJ Maxx

 I started collecting silverplate flatware this year, and now have enough for a few settings. Still looking for some more knives though.


For my place cards, I collected leaves around my neighborhood. I chose the prettiest ones and then ironed them between sheets of waxed paper, covered with a thin kitchen towel, until they were dry. Then I used a gold sharpie to write names on them. The leaves were very brittle and I accidentally poked holes in a few while writing, so I'm glad I had some extras. I also collected some tiny pine cones. I put them in a zip lock bag and froze them over night to kill any little bugs that might have been hanging out inside. I tied my napkins with the same jute twine and stuck a leaf and a small branch of pine cones on top.





Overall it didn't take much time to set up and was fairly inexpensive. The dinner was amazing! And the company was the best!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Candy Cookie Bars

What do you do when you've got mountains of chocolate candy bars sitting around? Make cookies, of course! After I pried some candy from my children's hands this afternoon, I chopped it up and used it in my Thick and Chewy M&M Cookie Bars recipe. Actually they were very willing to share and thought it would be fun to put their candy into the cookie bars. So now...we've got candy and cookies. :)

Recipe Here




Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Caramel Dip

This homemade caramel dip has such a great flavor! So much better than just melting caramels! After it cools, it's thick enough to use as a dip for apples. When warm, it has a sauce like consistency and can be drizzled over ice cream or other desserts. I used this to make Caramel Apple Slice Pops. It's also a great dip for Caramel Grapes

Caramel Dip
tammysrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. In a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter on low heat.
2. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine. Increase heat to medium.
3. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil.
4. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cinnamon.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Makes 3-4 cups


Caramel Apple Slice Pops

Aren't these the cutest? They are so much easier to eat than a whole caramel apple! But even better, you get even more caramel and toppings this way. :) I set this up as a snack for my kids and they went to town, double dipping and everything. I made my own Caramel Dip, but you could definitely just buy a container from the store. These would also be a great party treat.

Caramel Apple Slice Pops
Apple slices
Caramel dip
Assorted toppings
Lollipop sticks

Stick the lollipop sticks into the apples about halfway.
Dip into caramel.
Sprinkle on toppings.
Eat.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I don't always make homemade tortillas, because who has the time for that! When I do make them, I never regret it because they are so good!!! These flour tortillas only take 4 ingredients, flour, oil, salt, and water. If you're like me, you probably have these ingredients on hand. So if you're ever in a pinch, and don't know what to make for dinner, don't forget that you can make tortillas!

Homemade Flour Tortillas
tasteofhome.com
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
3 TBSPs olive oil

1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in water and oil. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Let rest for 10 minutes.
2. Divide dough into eight portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 7-in. circle.
3. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Keep warm. Makes 8 tortillas.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chewy Molasses Cookies

I tried to find a molasses cookie recipe last winter that I liked an couldn't quite get there. I decided to combine a few ideas and came up with this recipe. Dark brown sugar to enhance the molasses, and butter for even more flavor. They turned out so great! 

Chewy Molasses Cookies
4 1/2 cups flour
3 tsps baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup sugar for dough balls

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
3. In mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until well blended. Add eggs and molasses and beat until combined.
4. Stir flour mixture into creamed mixture until combined.
5. Pour 1/3 cup of sugar into a small bowl. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll balls in sugar.
6. Bake on cookie sheets for 10-12 minutes, until they start to crack on top. Do not overbake or they won't be chewy. Let cool for 2 minutes on pan then transfer to wire rack.

*I like to roll all the dough into balls and then keep extra unbaked balls in the freezer until needed. Then when baking, just add 2 extra minutes to the bake time.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cheesy Mexican Cornbread

This cornbread is such a great side to have with taco soup or chili! It's sweet, but the green chiles give it a bit of a spicy flavor, and of course cheese makes everything better. :) You can substitute a different cheese to mix it up, and even add a jar of pimentos.

Cheesy Mexican Cornbread
adapted from a Jenni Speer recipe
2 (8.5 oz) boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 can cream-style corn
2 (4 oz) cans diced green chiles
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Mix ingredients in a bowl just until blended.
3. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Monkey Muffins

These muffins have so many flavors I LOVE...peanut butter, chocolate, and banana! I got this recipe from my neighbor Michelle, and I'm so glad I did, because these muffins are seriously good! My kids took them to school for snack all of last week, and were so sad when they were gone. Such a good way to use up your bananas that have been sitting on the counter for too long. 

Monkey Muffins
adapted from tasteofhome.com
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 TBSP sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the bananas, peanut butter, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in chips.
2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Makes 18 muffins.

Note: For mini muffins bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes.





Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Skillet Sweet Potatoes

I like having these skillet sweet potatoes as an alternate side sometimes, instead of boring old french fries. You can make them spicy with cayenne pepper, or try them with a little cinnamon. They are also great for breakfast.

Skillet Sweet Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1 TBSP oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsps dried parsley
Cayenne pepper OR ground cinnamon to taste

1. Peel and cube sweet potatoes into about 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes.
3. Stir the potatoes to coat with oil. Add the salt, parsley, and cayenne OR cinnamon. Mix well.
4. Cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Serve hot. Top with more salt if desired.

Serves 4

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Date and Cashew Snack Bars

No sugar in these! Can you believe it?! I love having them in the fridge because when I feel like a snack, I pop one in my mouth, and don't feel guilty. My kids like them too and I have to keep telling them they are MY snacks! If you're looking for something healthy and naturally sweet, give these a try.

Date and Cashew Snack Bars
blessthismessplease.com
2 cups pitted dates
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup natural nut butter (peanut, almond, or cashew)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 TBSPs cocoa powder
1 pinch salt

1. Line a 8 inch or 9 inch square dish with parchment paper.
2. Add all ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until the mixture becomes smooth and clumps into a ball, leaving only little pieces of nuts.
3. Dump the mixture into prepared pan.
4. Using your hands, press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish.
5. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and cut into pieces.

Store them  in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.




Thursday, September 10, 2015

Caprese Chicken Panini

I bought a beautiful basil plant from Trader Joe's! It sat on my porch for a month until I finally decided I had better make use of  it! We had these sandwiches for lunch and they were amazing! I made them in a sandwich press, but you can cook them on the stove top too.

Caprese Chicken Panini
Bread (I sliced up a loaf of french bread)
Fresh mozarella slices
Deli lunch meat chicken
Tomato slices
Basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Mayo
Butter, if desired

Spread a slice of bread with mayo. Layer chicken, tomato slices, basil leaves, mozarella. Drizzle mozarella with a little balsamic vinegar. Top the sandwich with another slice of bread. Butter the outer sides of the bread, if desired, and cook them in a sandwich press or a skillet on the stove top until golden.

Here's the cheese I used. It had a $1.00 off coupon attached. ;)





Friday, August 28, 2015

Crepes

We love breakfast for dinner! It's almost like eating dessert, especially with a dish like this! Crepes are easy to make. The hardest part is standing in front of the stove and cooking them when all you want to do is eat them! You can make them sweet or savory. This is a sweet version, but if you wanted to try them with a savory filling, you can leave out the sugar and vanilla. After making the batter, it's best to refrigerate it for at least an hour. This helps the crepes not to tear when flipping, but if you don't have the time, you can skip that step.

Crepes
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 TBSP oil
2 C milk
3 TBSPs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Combine ingredients in a blender and mix until well combined.
2. Refrigerate batter for 1 hour or overnight.
3. Heat a 10 inch round nonstick pan over med-high heat. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.
4. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into pan. Swirl pan to evenly spread out batter. Cook until it starts to turn golden on the bottom, about 1 minute, and then flip gently with a spatula. Cook for about 30 more seconds. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes about 14 crepes

Here's what I put in mine! That pink stuff is strawberry cream cheese. YUM!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Slow Cooker Greek Yogurt

I love using my slow cooker! I never would have imagined that I could use it to make yogurt!! My sister and mom have been making this, and after trying it at my parents house, I decided I needed to make it myself. It takes quite a bit of time, but is easy, and totally worth it. Plain Greek yogurt is like a blank canvas. You can turn it into anything! It works in smoothies and even as sour cream. I followed guidelines on The Tasty Cheapskate but I'm posting instructions for exactly how I make it. I have a few notes and pictures of the steps at the bottom. 

Greek Yogurt
1 gallon of 2% milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt (store bought, or reserved from previous batch)
Slow Cooker
Thermometer
Flour sack towel or thin, fuzz-free tea towel
Large strainer

1. Pour 1 gallon of milk into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until it reaches 180 degrees. This can take anywhere between 2-4 hours. It takes me just about 3 hours.
2. After milk reaches 180 degrees, remove lid and turn off the slow cooker. Let it sit until the milk cools to 110 degrees. This takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Skim the film off of the top with a fork.
3. Once the milk has reached 110 degrees, scoop the 1/2 cup of plain yogurt into a bowl. Ladle some of the cooled milk into the bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the milk mixture back into the the slow cooker and stir it in.
4. Turn on the oven to 170 degrees. Let it heat up for a couple of minutes and then turn it off. Put the lid back on the slow cooker and take the crock out of the base of the slow cooker and place it in the oven. Let it sit for 6-8 hours.
5. After the time has passed, remove the yogurt from the oven. Reserve 1/2 a cup for next batch (if desired) and refrigerate.
6. Spread the towel in the bottom of the strainer. Ladle the yogurt into the strainer and set in the the sink or in a large bowl to drain. Let it drain for 5 hours. Scrape the sides and bottom with a spoon or spatula a couple of times during this step to keep things flowing.
7. Scoop out the yogurt and refrigerate. DONE!

Makes about 5 cups of yogurt and 8 cups of whey.
Lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge.

My Notes:
I start this about 6pm. That has me putting it in the oven at about 11pm and then taking it our for the next step at 7am, and finishing at noon.
I put my strainer on top of an upside down plastic container and set it in a large bowl. You can just leave the strainer in the sink to drain, but make sure no one turns on the water!!
Next time I'm going to try adding vanilla bean.

 Milk heating up.

 180 degrees

 Cooling down with my specially rigged thermometer.

 Into the oven.

Straining

Look at all the whey!

 Either toss this or get creative.

Finished Yogurt

Monday, August 3, 2015

Blueberry Scones

I LOVE scones and these are amazing! They are fluffy and not dry, like a yummy biscuit, and not too sweet. I used blueberries because I currently have an abundance, but you could add any fresh or frozen fruit . Even without the addition fruit these are great, especially if you're lucky enough to have a little clotted cream on hand. 

Blueberry Scones
adapted from sixsisterstuff.com 
Scones
2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
3 TBSPs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBSPs cold butter, cut into TBSP sized pieces
1 cup heavy cream plus 1 TBSP
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.
3. With a fork or pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until each piece is coated and the size of small peas.
 4. Pour 1 cup heavy cream over mixture and stir gently with rubber spatula just until dough begins to form. Do not over mix.
5. Fold in blueberries.
6. Over lightly floured surface, knead dough a few times until you can form a ball. Flatten out dough into 8 inch circle.
7. Transfer circle to baking sheet and cut into 8 triangles.
8. Brush the top of each scone with remaining 1 TBSP of cream.
9. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until scones begin turning golden brown around the edges.
10. While scones are baking, mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla OR lemon juice in a small bowl. After scones have been removed from oven, drizzle glaze over the top. Serve warm.

****See pic at bottom for mini scone directions.





This is a double batch made into mini scones. I rolled the dough into a rectangle, cut 2 long evenly sized strips, then cut the strips diagonally to make little triangles. You could also just pat the dough into 3 circles and cut them like that. I baked them for 15 min.