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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hot Vanilla Caramel {with Sweet'N Low}


We live in California, where we can go swimming on Christmas Day, so it's a rare day when we can serve a hot drink and enjoy it. I love a hot drink, but ONLY on a cold cold day. So, today was one of those days, although the sun did come out, it was still cold enough to create a little chill outside and we were able to enjoy this HOT new drink we created.


Hot Vanilla Caramel
created by Tina Hudgens

(makes one serving)
1 cup milk
1 pkg Sweet'N Low
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp caramel syrup

In a microwave save glass cup heat up 1 cup of milk and the 1 pkg of Sweet'N Low for approximately one minute. In the meantime mix in a separate bowl the whipping cream, cinnamon and caramel syrup until combined. Add the whip cream mixture to the milk mixture and shake in a shaker (or mix up in a blender). Pour into a mug and return to microwave for 1 more minute. Add a dollop of whip cream and a sprinkle of caramel syrup before serving.


"As part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker Program,
I received Sweet'N Low packages and a stipend."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rich Chocolate Brownies {from a box} - {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRITMAS GOODIES
Rich Chocolate Brownies



Brownie Recipe number ..... 5... 6... 10... 14... I've lost count, but I am not complaining at ALL. I know one day we will find that ONE, that ONLY brownie recipe we will make for all eternity (haha, until someone else shares another NEW recipe, that I just MUST try). But for now my son and I are having so much fun trying (and eating) all these delicious brownie recipes.

This one we LOVE because it's from a box (I know, I know), but it's so easy and it tastes so GOOD! I am telling you, making brownies from scratch is not easy, to thick, to cakey, to mushy, to dry and never moist enough. From a box is OH so perfect. This is a box recipe, twisted into something better.

Rich Chocolate Brownies
recipe found at Sweet Treats & More

1 pkg brownie mix
double the number of eggs called for on box
Milk or Heavy Cream in place of water
Oil (whatever it says on the box)
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
Powdered Sugar (for sprinkling)
 
Preheat oven to 325. Mix all ingredients together. Mixture will be thick.  Grease a 9 x 13 in pan (or use parchment paper and cooking spray). Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes.  
 
Let brownies cool in pan, sprinkle with some powdered sugar over the top just before cutting them. If you used parchment paper (which I love), just pull the whole batch out of the pan, no scraping the bottom of the pan) and try cutting with a wet sharp knife. Perfect brownies every time. 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas NERD Frosting Fudge {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES
Christmas NERD Frosting Fudge
 
 
 
 
We started making this fudge last year with our Peppermint Crunch Frosting Fudge and it's my favorite fudge to make and with SO MANY combinations, here is a sneak peak of all my fudge recipes. It's easy, it's simple, it's amazing and it's super duper delicious. What more could you ask for in a FUDGE ?!?! And if you or your kids LOVE NERDS, this fudge is out of this world.
 
 
 
Christmas NERD Frosting Fudge
recipe adapted by me , but found at Cookies & Cups

1 can of Vanilla Frosting (16 oz)
1 (12 oz) bag white chocolate chips, or 1 lb White Melting Chips
1 large box Christmas NERDS

Lay down wax paper in a 9×9 or 8×8 pan, depending on the thickness you desire for your fudge. Melt you chips in the microwave, as soon as they are melted, stir in your entire can of frosting. Once combined fold in your candy. Spread into prepared pan and chill for 30 minutes. When firm, cut into squares. Serve or store in an air tight container.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES
Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
 
 

We took our regular plain ole' Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe and turn it into extraordinary Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies, I can't wait to make another batch of these this week. Yes, it's less then a week and I've got to FINALLY get some serious baking done, WISH ME LUCK!

I have never ever ever been this far behind in baking. I worked for 3 weeks straight from 8am to 11pm everyday except Sunday and I just feel like I can't catch up, but I am not worried at all. I've got all week and I know I can whip some things out in no time at all. READY... SET... GO...

Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
original recipe source unknown

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg & 1 egg yolk
1cups chocolate chips - 1 to 2 cups chopped Red Andes Mint Chocolate

Preheat oven to 325. Grease cookie sheets. Sift together flour, baking soda & slat; set aside. In a medium bowl , cream together melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in vanilla and eggs until light and creamy, mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and Andes Mints by hand. Drop cookie dough on to cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes.

These were amazing cookies!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vegetarian Creamy Tomato Soup {Panera Bread}

The mention of Panera Bread always makes one of my twins SING! She just loves loves to eat at this restaurant, she actually loved it so much, this is where she had her first job in High School. She's moved onto college and now lives in Missouri for school (instead of California), where Panera Bread is not called Panera, it is the St. Louis Bread Company. That's just a little fun fact, I thought you'd all want to hear. Either way, she still LOVES the place.



When I first heard about this Daily Food Buzz opportunity, I was thrilled and I knew this would be a perfect first lunch for her first day back in California and it was. Her twin, had to work (bummer for her), so mom and daughter (twin A) went out for a day of shopping and enjoyed a quick, fast and delicious lunch at Panera Bread before we hit the very crowded Christmas-time shopping mall.



My daughters favorite soup is the Vegetarian Creamy Tomato Soup, it's made with vine-ripened pear tomatoes pureed with fresh cream for a velvety smooth flavor accentuated by hints of red pepper & oregano, topped with our Asiago croutons (described so beautifully by Panera Bread web site). This is one of their soups that are served every day. Check out the great Panera Bread Soup Web Site, they really have taken a lot of time and effort and truly perfected their soup menu.

I know if it's a super cold day and you are in need of some delicious soup, Panera Bread is defiantly the place to go.



 
 
 
"As part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker Program,
I received a Panera Bread Gift Card and a stipend."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sparkling Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES
Sparkling Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies
 
 
I haven't always loved molasses cookies, but wanted to try my hand at them a bit more. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had some left over molasses in the cupboard and with sticking to "cleaning out the cupboards" in baking this year I thought, why not? Believe it or not these cookies were a hit.

Sparkling Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies
recipe source Not Martha, original recipe from Martha Stewart (Dec. 2005)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
about 1/2 cup chunky sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; set aside. Then add the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the egg, and then the molasses until just combined. Put mixer on low and slowly add the flour mixture just until dough forms.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of dough at a time (or use a 1" ice cream scoop), roll into a ball between your palms, then roll in sanding sugar to cover all sides. Place on cookie sheets spaced three inches apart (cookies will spread while baking). Bake one sheet at a time until edges of cookies are just firming up, 10 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

White Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES
White Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake

 


This is a pie I have been trying to repeat for many years. I still haven't quite got it yet, but this one is good, it's a close second. We use to buy every year a Candy Cane cream pie at a local coffee shop until they went out of business. It's the ONE dessert I miss MOST at Christmas time.



White Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake
from magazine clipping - Holiday Baking 2008

8 oz white chocolate melting chips, chopped
2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 (8oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 (3oz) pkg cream cheese, softened (or just 19 oz all together)
1 (8oz) mascarphone cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candies (candy canes, candy sticks, etc), and a little extra for garnish
2 oz white chocolate melting chips

Preheat oven to 325. For crust, in a medium bowl, stir together graham crackers and melted butter until combined. Press mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 9" spingform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For filling, Melt 8 oz of the white chocolate in microwave, starting at 20 second increments until completely melted, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, sugar and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add in melted white chocolate and peppermint extract; beat until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, beating after each until just combined. Stir in by hand about 3/4 cup of peppermint candies. Pour over crust, spread evenly.

Place a springform pan in a shallow baking pan. (I've heard so many tricks about adding water and such so your cheesecake doesn't fall in the middle! Mine fell so feel free to adjust that here)! Bake for 40 to 50 minutes of until outside edge appears set and center appears done.

Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, Remove spring form outer pan and cool for another 30 minutes. Cover and chill overnight before serving.

Transfer to a serving plat to complete. Melt the remaining 2 oz of white chocolate in the microwave to drizzle over top of the cheesecake and sprinkle with a little peppermint candy and add a dollop of cool whip to the top before serving!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cherry Shortbread Kiss Cookies {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES
Cherry Chocolate Kisses

 
These cookies are like a shortbread type of cookie and it's like no other. The cherry flavor is out of this world delicious. I could NOT just eat one. This is NOT a normal cookie I would pick up and try, let-alone make in my own kitchen, but I promise you will not be disappointed. It's DELISH!


Cherry Shortbread Kiss Cookies
recipe source The Curvy Carrot

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tsp maraschino cherry “juice”
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling the cookies
36 milk chocolate kisses (or hugs), unwrapped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of your standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the powdered sugar and salt. Add the cherry juice and the almond extract until combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the cherries.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, and place the balls on a baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.  Using your thumb, gently press each cookie in its center until the cookie is about 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle each cookie with a little granulated sugar. Bake the cookies until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 14 minutes.

Once removed from the oven, immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie’s center. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nutter Butter Truffles {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES
Nutter Butter Truffles
 
 
We love peanut butter and my step-son's favorite treat are Peanut Butter Krispies. When I saw this recipe using Nutter Butter Truffles and I just happen to have some extra Nutter Butters in the pantry from another recipe, I knew this would be a great recipe to try. If you love Peanut Butter and you love Nutter Butters.. then this recipe is for YOU! Happy Holiday Baking.


Nutter Butter Truffles
found at What Megan's Making, looks like original recipe is from Kraft Foods

1 pkg Nutter Butter Cookies
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
white chocolate melting chocolate
peanut butter for drizzling
white chocolate for drizzling

Crush nutter butters in food processor. Combine crushed cookies and softened cream cheese in a large bowl (your hands work best for this). Roll into small balls. Melt white chocolate in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Using a toothpick, dip the nutter butter balls into the chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Set the truffles on waxed paper to cool.

Microwave a little bit of white chocolate and peanut butter together (adjust amounts to taste - you don't need much). Use a spoon to drizzle the peanut butter chocolate on top of the truffles. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to eat or give away.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Soft Gingersnap Cookie with White Chocolate Chips {12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES}

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES
Soft Gingersnap Cookie with White Chocolate Chips

This is my third year of hosting the 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GOODIES and I am so happy to continue this tradition, my blog has been put on the back burner a little bit, but no worries I will be BACK. I have been SUPER DUPER busy with Operation Christmas Child. I have volunteered for this organization every year in some way since my kids were in preschool (and now they are in college) and I've always wanted to work for them and it happened. This year I applied and was hired for a 3-week long assignment to process shoe boxes. It's busy, but I do LOVE it. I work 8am - 2:30pm (at my day job) and then 3pm - 10:30pm (at Operation Christmas Child), I've got 8 days left, I CAN DO IT, I CAN DO IT.

I am a baking fool when it comes to Christmas time, thank goodness I have some recipes stored up for you guys that I made last year and never got around to posting. And once December 12th arrives, I will be back in my kitchen baking up a storm. I love to get in the kitchen and bake up everyone we know a little bit of Christmas magic from our kitchen. This year I know will be no different, with our ole' time favorites from last year and our new additions this year I am sure anyone who receives a treat basket from our family will be happy indeed.

Today I am sharing an easy cookie recipe to kick off the 12 Days of Chirstmas Cheer.....


Soft Gingersnap Cookie with White Chocolate Chips
recipe found at A Bitchin' Kitchen

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for coating cookie dough balls
1/2 cup molasses
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 tsp cinnamon
1-1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with pam) and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Add in the molasses, canola oil, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, and spices, and beat until well combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour. Do not overmix. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, form the dough into balls and coat in the extra granulated sugar. Place on the prepared cookie sheet, two inches apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
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