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."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas NERD Frosting Fudge {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}

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}

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}

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}

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}

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}

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.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Cranberry Muffin Cups

This was a genius idea with using only what I had in the refrigerator at the time and it's comes at a perfect time to use up your turkey and Thanksgiving left-overs.

Turkey Cranberry Cups
adapted by me: Tina Hudgens
recipe found at Fantastic Family Favorites; originally from a Pampered Chef recipe

2 pkg refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp Honey Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
2 cups cooked fresh turkey, chopped
1/2 cup celery, sliced
3 tbsp fresh parsley, snipped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries (we used fresh and it turned everything pink, dried would be better)
4 oz Swiss cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Unroll biscuits, and roll out with a small rolling pin, then press each one into a muffin pan.

Combine mayo, mustard, pepper, turkey, celery, parsley, onion, cranberries, cheese, and nuts if desired. Mix well until combined. Spoon turkey mixture into each muffin cup.

Bake 25 - 30 minutes, until mixture is hot and biscuits are done.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Buddy Bars {SECRET RECIPE CLUB}

My life is BEYOND busy! I don't know why? I have two less kids at home, but it seems like I am so busy all the time, even my blogging has slowed way down, not due to lack of recipes, I have plenty of those. It's the season to BE BUSY, I guess! Although my busy is decorating for Christmas and watching Christmas movies, YEP! I started early this year, earlier then ever. I am just skipping Thanksgiving all together and going straight into Christmas. All 3, YEP 3 Christmas Trees are all up in my house already. And then today was Secret Recipe Club, I can't believe I almost missed it.... ah! Here is is at last!

Here is my SECRET RECIPE CLUB post for the month of November. The blog I had was called A Spoonful of Thyme and I pinned a whole bunch of fun recipes to try, but this one was made for my adopted son Garrett for his birthday.

Here we go with my 20th post for the Secret Recipe Club; Group C .

Secret Recipe Club

Chocolate Peanut Buddy Bars
original recipe found at A Spoonful of Thyme

1 cup chunky peanut butter
6 tbsp butter, softened
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

1-3/4 cups
chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Beat peanut butter and butter in large mixer bowl until smooth. Beat in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat in flour and salt. Stir in 3/4 cup chocolate chips. Spread into ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes or until morsels are shiny and melted; spread evenly. Cool completely in pan . Cut into bars.

Here is a list of my past Secret Recipe Club recipes:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cranberry & Sausage Stuffing {CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE}


Welcome to the all NEW and IMPROVED
November Challenge - STUFFING

This is my one, my only, my favorite stuffing of all time (I can't wait for my after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner to make another batch of this). I am only bummed that Stove Top removed their Cranberry Stuffing from the shelves, but it's still just as good otherwise.
This will be the last month of the CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE, we hope you have enjoyed it and can join in (it may be too late to make stuffing for today, but you never know, some people are crazy cooks like me and can whip a recipe up in no time at all.) But, for those of you who read about the challenge last month and are prepared to share your STUFFING with us today, we are SO excited to see what you made.
I am also super excited for my Thanksgiving dinner this year, I will be making a Thanksgiving Dinner on the Sunday after, at my house (YUM!). On Thanksgiving day, I will be the wanderer going around from house to house to visit family and friends, while my husband and step-son visit his mom in Oregon and my little guy is on a cruise with his Papa and G'ma. Thanksgiving in our house is always interesting, remember last year my son and I went to Oregon without my husband (and we made these CUTE Thanksgiving suckers), so this year he is going there with out me. Our schedules NEVER match up, I guess it's just the way it goes.

Have you started making your Thanksgiving Menu? I know I have. I have all my recipes picked out and I am beginning the shopping to make sure I get all the necessary things for this delicious meal.
Thanksgiving Dinner (for the Sunday after)
Sausage Stuffing
Mexican Corn on the Cob (new recipe)

Pumpkin Marshmallow, White Chocolate Chip Cookies (new recipe)


For those of you who have already participated, you know how this is done, check out the NEW & IMPROVED information here. You can read all the details and get all the codes for you to link up, join in and get this great linky party added to your CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE post.

Last month we made Apple Pies , but today it's all about Thanksgiving Stuffing.

Cranberry & Sausage Stuffing
from Food Network Magazine (a long time ago)

1 lb sausage roll (we like Jimmy Dean)
1/2 cup butter
6 celery stalks, finely diced
1 medium onions, finely diced
1 (12 oz) package stuffing (any Stove Top)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp salt
1 to 1-1/2 cans chicken broth (original recipe calls for 2 cans, but I think it's too wet)

Preheat oven to 325. In a large skillet,, crumble and cook sausage until browned. Remove from pan, and in the same skillet melt butter. Saute' celery and onions until softened, about 5 minutes. In large bowl, combine celery, onions, sausage, stuffing, cranberries and salt. Add the broth and stir until well combined. Place into a casserole dish and cover. Bake at 325 for about 1 hour.

Everyone who wishes to join in on this challenge, all you need to do is add the CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE BUTTON (grab the code above) and make sure your STUFFING includes the BLOG HOP Linky Party (code is below the linky party, click on BLOG HOP CODE) or you wont be able to link up. We hope you join us in this CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE....

Just an FYI - CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE is always on the 7th of every month and will post at MIDNIGHT, Linky Party opens at 7am.

the Crazy Cooking Challenge will be ending with this post here (November 2012)


If you want to participate please see instructions on the CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE tab and then to add the Linky Party to your post and join in this Blog Hop please grab the code by clicking on GET THE CODE HERE (below). If you are on word press that code will not work and you will need this code.

<!-- start LinkyTools script -->
<p><b>Powered by Linky Tools</b></p><p><a href="">Click here</a> to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list...</p>
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pepitas Trail Mix from Pioneer Woman {THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS LINKY PARTY}

It's our very last LINKY PARTY {THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS}, I started this oh so long ago when I first started my blog and I think it has ran it's course. I still LOVE LOVE blogging, but I HATE HATE having a schedule and having to post on a certain day at a certain time. I am still growing my blog and looking for new avenues all the time, I just think linky parties are not it right now. Blogging is my outlet, my free time thing and I do it for my love of cooking. I am not making a million dollars  and I am not stopping anytime soon, but I just want it to be FUN FUN FUN and no presure, so I am sorry to say this will be my last THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS linky party (at least for now, never say never).
Today I am bringing you a recipe I made about 2 years ago (and never posted, yeah I have alot of those). This trail mix was the BOMB! It was so delicious and so yummy, I kinda wish I had some right now. It's a good healthy trial mix too, which would be perfect for my diet. Ya, who starts a diet in November (ME, that's who!). I have a small goal, a next goal and a BIG goal. My first goal before Thanksgiving is 5 lbs. I CAN DO THIS! 

First step is to clean out the punkpin seeds. I do this and then I take the pumkins and make homemade puree'. Yep, I love love having homemade puree in my freezer all year long.

Pepitas Trail Mix
adapted and made by me, taken from Pioneer Woman

1 whole pumpkin, seeds
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Pumpkin Spice Seasoning

Mini Chocolate Chips
Almonds, no salt
Vanilla Granola Clusters (any kind of granola will work)

Keep all the seeds from one or more pumkins in a bowl. Throw them into a colander and rinse them under cold water, pulling away the chunks of pulp as you go.

Spread the rinsed seeds out on a baking sheet. Allow the seeds to dry several hours or overnight. And beware: they’re quite sticky/slimy, so don’t place them on paper towels! Just leave ‘em on the baking sheet and they’ll be fine.

When they’re nice and dry, go ahead and preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Begin by drizzling the seeds with a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Use your fingers to toss the seeds around to coat.
Then salt and season the seeds to taste.

Pop ‘em in the oven for an hour or so, until the seeds are light golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes…then let the snacking begin!

But if you wish to make the trail mix make sure the seeds are completely cooled and add chocolate chips, almonds and granola and toss.

Pepitas Trail Mix can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.

THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS  you can now link up ANY recipe you'd like. Come one, Come all. NO rules, NO requirements, just link up any recipes (or food related craft items) and hop around to visit all the great recipes.

If you are a regular to THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS Linky party, then link-up we're excited to see what you made this week. We are no longer sticking with ONE theme, so just link up any of your favorite recipes.
Your hostess for this linky arty are: Tina from MOMS CRAZY COOKING, Nicole from The Daily Dish and Kristi from Veggie Converter.
THE LINKY PARTY is opened ALL Week, come back and link up as many times as you wish, we can't wait to see all your fun and new recipes you made this week!
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