Thursday, December 11, 2014

Marshmallow Snowmen Stirrers


How cute are these little guys?  My kids are obsessed with hot chocolate lately so I thought it would be fun to dress up their mugs as an activity one day after school.   These cute marshmallow stirrers are so easy to make and the kids can definitely help.  They would also be cute to have pre-made for a holiday party as a stirrer or just a yummy little winter treat.

Ingredients:

Wooden skewers
Large marshmallows
Rolo chocolate candy for hat (or any small round chocolate candy. i.e; junior mints etc.)
Orange fruit slices (or any orange gummy candy that can be cut to look like a carrot)
White icing/frosting (very small amount for glue to adhere the nose)
Black writing gel

Preparation:

First put 1 marshmallow onto the skewer, next add half a marshmallow for the head.  If you squeeze the marshmallow a little you can get it to be slightly smaller than body.  Last add the Rolo for the hat.   Cut your orange candy slices into small triangles for the nose.  You can adhere the nose with a tiny bit of white icing.   Use the black writing gel to make eye and 3 buttons down the body.   I found my gel was coming out too fast and making huge blobs so I put a blob of writing gel on a paper plate and then using the pointy side of another skewer I dipped it in the black gel and then used that to add my eyes and buttons.


If when all is said and done and you don't feel like making these from scratch you could always buy these adorable peep snowmen at a the grocery store which are really cute too!  Please let us know if you try these.  We would LOVE to see pics of your little snowmen on our Facebook page ;)  Just click the link below.
















Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Chocolate Pecan Pie


Baking has always been an amazing distraction for me. When I am stressed out or overwhelmed by a task, I stop what I'm doing and head straight to the kitchen to immerse myself in baking. It is a relaxing activity that instantly releases all my stress and worry. So when I sat down this morning to write 5 long and boring papers for my graduate school portfolio, I knew it wasn't going to be long before I was in the kitchen baking. I lasted about 2 hours LOL. Since Thanksgiving had just ended, I still had my mom's pecan pumpkin pie on my mind (and all the ingredients still in the kitchen). I decided on a chocolate pecan pie. I have always wanted to make one and thought that this was the perfect time to test out a recipe. This recipe is fantastic! Absolutely delish! and very easy to make 


Ingredients:

1 prepared frozen pie crust
1 cup dark corn syrup
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ¼ cups roughly chopped pecans, plus ½ cup halves

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350°  Whisk corn syrup, sugars, butter, vanilla, salt, chocolate and eggs in a bowl; fold in chopped pecans. Distribute filling evenly over dough; arrange pecan halves decoratively around the inside edge of the pie crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 1 hour. Let cool completely before serving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving101 - Cranberry Strawberry Compote

You can't have Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce.  This is my version.  I use strawberries to help sweeten it up a little more and add extra texture.  This year I decided to add a little lemon juice and cinnamon and it really came out delicious.

Ingredients:

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 quart strawberries, diced
1 cup sugar
1 cup  water
Lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation:

Place cranberries, water and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook on med/hi until cranberries start to burst.  Stir cranberry mixture and add in diced strawberries.  Let cook on med - med/hi heat stirring occasionally until fruit is cooked down but still a little chunky about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and cinnamon and cook for an additional minute or two.   Remove from stove and transfer hot mixture into a heat proof bowl and chill in refrigerator until cold, about 1-2 hrs or overnight.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vanilla Wafer Nut Brittle


I needed a dessert to make on very short notice and I didn't have time to go to the store.  I pulled together half a bag of this and half a bag of that and made this really delicious cookie brittle.  It was a HUGE hit and now I will definitely be making again.  I think the best part is that you really don't need all the exact ingredients.   All you need is butter and brown sugar to make the brittle and everything else you can really wing.  Just add any cookie you like and a combo of nuts and chocolate and you will have a very popular treat.


Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 box Vanilla Wafer cookies
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips (any variety)
1/4-1/2 cup toffee bits (you can buy packaged in the grocery store or break up a toffee bar like a Heath candy bar into small pieces)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

On a lined cookie sheet lay out Vanilla Wafer cookies in a single layer.  Sprinkle almonds and pecans  over top of cookies and set pan aside.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan melt together butter and brown sugar.   Bring mixture to a boil and continue boiling over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

Carefully pour boiling sugar mixture over the top of the cookies and nuts to cover completely.  Place in hot oven and bake for about 20 minutes until pan is hot and bubbling.

Remove from oven and pour chocolate chips over the top and spread into a smooth layer with an off set spatula or the back of a spoon.  Then sprinkle the top of the melted chocolate with toffee bits.  Let brittle cool completely until hardened.  You can put the cookie sheet with the warm brittle in the freezer to speed up the process.  Break into bite size pieces and try to eat just one!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

Susan brought this to our last family brunch.  It was a huge hit especially with the guys.   If you like cinnamon you will LOVE this easy quick bread.  


Ingredients:

2 cups All Purpose / Plain flour 
1 1/2 cups regular sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp cinnamon powder
The Glaze:
1/4 cup powdered / icing sugar
2 tsp milk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Grease a 9-in loaf pan.  Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, egg, vanilla and oil; stir just until moistened.  In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and remaining sugar. Pour half of the batter into bread pan; sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar. Spread with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar.  Using a skewer or knife, cut through the batter to swirl a few times. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing to wire rack. Cool completely.  For the glaze, combine icing / powdered sugar and enough milk to reach desired consistency; drizzle over loaf.  Allow to cool. 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wedge Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing


LOVE this version of  wedge salad.  It combines sweet and salty together for the perfect combination of flavors.  Very easy to whip up and of course delicious!


Ingredients:

1 head of iceberg lettuce, core removed and quartered
1/2 cup cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup glazed pecans, chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

For dressing: 
1/2 avocado
1 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Preparation:

In a blender combine avocado, ranch dressing, milk and herbs.  Blend until smooth. 

To assemble salad place one quarter of lettuce head on a plate.  Sprinkle 1/4 of blue cheese over lettuce wedge.  Next pour on about 1/4 cup of prepared dressing.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the bacon crumbles, and 1/4 of the chopped pecans over the dressing.  Serve immediately.  


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Roasted Chicken Legs



Growing up our Mother always made this oven roasted chicken.  After speaking with my Mother this morning I found out that it was originally our Grandmother's recipe and also that I made it wrong ;).  LOL  Still delicious and I had all the right ingredients but my technique was off.  It is such a simple recipe but the combination of theses spices are not only delicious but look really pretty too.  They are spices that most people always have in their pantry.  So if you are running out of chicken ideas here is a nice, simple and quick recipe to throw together at the last minute.  I used chicken legs when making this recently because they are so super inexpensive and seem to be the part of the chicken my kids like the most.  If you don't like chicken legs feel free to use any other part of the chicken and prepare in the same manner.  You can't mess this one up!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons Lawry's season salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
(1-2 tablespoons water *optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place chicken in a shallow un-greased roasting pan.  It's best when you leave the skin on to cook because it keeps the chicken really moist and allows you to cook the chicken for a longer time to achieve a nice crispy exterior without drying out the inside.   If desired you can remove the skin before you eat it.  When I made this the other day I made a dry rub of the spices and sprinkled it over the top of the chicken and baked it halfway (about 30 minutes) and then I flipped the chicken over and sprinkled the other side with the spice rub and cooked it about another 30 minutes until it was golden and the skin was crispy.   I found out however, my Mother and Grandmother made this as a wet rub by adding a little water to the spices and then rubbing the chicken with the wet mixture and cooking the same way.  I think it's a matter of preference but I will definitely try the wet rub next time.