Monday, December 10, 2018

Hot Cocoa Fudge


Isn't this the cutest fudge you've ever seen?? I knew as soon as I spied it on Pinterest that I would have to make it. And those teeny, tiny marshmallows - they are almost too cute to eat. But I bet you can get over that pretty quickly because this candy is delicious.


I had never bought those mallow bits before but I easily found them at Target. They come in a little plastic jar-like container in the marshmallow section. I can't wait to find more uses for these little marshmallows.


Chocolate, white chocolate, and marshmallows - what a perfect little fudge this is!


Hot Cocoa Fudge

2 cups chocolate chips
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mallow bits

Line a 9x9 or 8x8 pan with foil, and then grease the foil.

In a microwave safe bowl combine white chocolate chips with 5 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk.

In a separate bowl combine chocolate chips with remaining sweetened condensed milk.

Microwave chocolate chips for 30 seconds, then stir. Heat for another 15 seconds then stir vigorously until chocolate is smooth. Transfer mixture into the pan and spread into an even layer.

Microwave white chocolate 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Spread mixture on top of dark chocolate layer.

Top with mini marshmallows then gently press down. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to set.

Remove fudge and foil from pan. Carefully peel all foil from fudge. Cut fudge into bite sized pieces and serve.

Recipe Source: Wonky Wonderful

Monday, December 3, 2018

Frosted Gingerbread Bars


This is a fun, and slightly different, take on a holiday cookie. If you love gingerbread, you will love these bars. All the goodness of a gingerbread cookie covered in cream cheese frosting and sprinkled to look appropriately festive...

I really prefer bars to cookies - they're just easier! But besides eating them, I like serving them too - and they add a nice variety to a cookie tray or gifting box at this time of year.

I hope you'll try these if you need a new Christmas sweet!


Frosted Gingerbread Bars

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and molasses. Add the egg and stir until completely incorporated. Add baking soda, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt and mix until well combined. Spread dough evenly into a greased 9x13 pan, pressing all the way to the edges.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (Do not over cook). Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese together then add vanilla. While mixing, gradually add in powdered sugar. Mix until creamy & well-combined.

Once the bars have cooled, frost the tops. Garnish with holiday sprinkles or a pinch of cinnamon. Cut into squares and serve.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Candy Cane Kiss Cheesecake Cookies


It's time for Christmas cookies! Every year I like to make a few new cookies as well as making tried and true, or my favorites from past years. I've made several versions of these "kiss" cookies, and all of them are so good: triple peppermint cookies, cherry kisses, chocolate peppermint swirl cookies, chocolate kissed gingerbread, and macaroon kisses.


These have a delightful bit of cream cheese in the batter which makes them so soft and so flavorful! Like the other kiss cookies, they're a snap to make, but the dough does need time to chill, so factor that into your planning. If you want to get fancy, you can drizzle these with white chocolate or decorating sugar, but I actually thought they were fine just as is!


Happy Baking!

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Hearth and Soul.

Candy Cane Kiss Cheesecake Cookies

1/2 cup butter, soft
6 oz cream cheese, soft
1 cup sugar (plus extra for rolling cookies in)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
24 candy cane kisses, unwrapped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted or decorating sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Mix in sugar, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and peppermint extract and beat until creamy.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined well.

Chill dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Scoop into one-inch round balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Let cool for a couple of minutes then press a candy cane kiss into the center of each cookie. Let cool for a couple more minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Drizzle tops of cookies with melted white chocolate or sprinkle with decorating sugar.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting


I couldn't let November go by without posting SOMETHING made from pumpkin. And this is a very good something. I adapted a regular, old pumpkin bar recipe with cream cheese frosting (there is nothing wrong with those "regular" bars by the way!) and added browned butter. Browned butter amps up the "interesting" factor by about 100.


This makes a big pan - 11x7 - so there's plenty to share or to take to an event. They keep beautifully in the fridge for up to a week, so you can make them ahead as well.


These come together very quickly, so this is a great dessert option if you're a little short on time. And it's a perfect pumpkin alternative for those that don't care for pumpkin pie. (Something I will never understand, but I have my own dislikes, too, so I'll try to be forgiving. ha!)

Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Bars:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree *not pie filling*
2 cups flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
1 - 8oz. block cream cheese (regular or low fat)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. milk

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, oil & pumpkin. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and gradually add to pumpkin mixture. Lightly coat an 11x17 with cooking spray. Transfer batter to the pan, spreading evenly. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, melt the butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Without stirring, and watching carefully, let the butter heat up until it is a golden brown color. (You can pick up the pan and swirl it once in a while, but be careful not to let it burn.) Let the butter cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

When the butter has slightly cooled, place the cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and pour the butter over. Mix with an electric mixer on low until the butter is incorporated, and then until smooth. Add the vanilla, then add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, alternatively with the milk, until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.

Frost the bars when they have cooled. Store in the refrigerator.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Creamy Ground Chicken White Chili


I developed this recipe on a cold night, after having planned chicken lettuce wraps for dinner. I love chicken lettuce wraps, and my family does, too. But on this particular dreary, rainy, chilly day, I could not face eating lettuce for dinner! Ha! So I knew a soup was in order. I've made "regular" white chicken chili before, so I was sure that ground chicken would also lend itself well to this dish. And I was right. It was a big hit with my family.


You can adjust the spices based on your family's tastes...I've suggested the minimum amount here but feel free to increase it. You can also add some jalapeno slices if you need a little more kick.

Stay warm!


Creamy Ground Chicken White Chili

1 pound ground chicken
1 small white onion, diced
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into small pieces (low fat works great!)
1 can corn
1 can white Northern beans or white Kidney beans (Cannellini)
4-5 green onions, sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
jalapeno slices

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the onion and chicken until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, cayenne and salt over the meat and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth, milk, cream of chicken soup and cream cheese to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the beans and corn and simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through. Adjust the spices to your liking, then ladle into bowls and top with cheese, green onions and sliced jalapenos, if you desire. Serves 6.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Peanut Butter Fudge Bars


Well, we've had a good run of entrees here for the last few weeks, so it's time to talk desserts. And this one is one of the best. I've been reading Mel's blog for a long time, and her recipes never disappoint.

These bars are a good example. A peanut butter cookie base topped with fudge and then more cookie? Ah-mazing. Chocolate isn't my favorite dessert (shocking I know, but true) but these bars are seriously right up there in my all time favorites. I even like them better straight out of the freezer... well, maybe not straight out, but let them thaw for 5-10 minutes, and goodness me. I had to hide these in the back of the freezer so they wouldn't get devoured.


And you probably will want to freeze them - this recipe makes an 11x17 pan, so you'll have enough for a party and then some. You can halve the recipe if you like (bake in a 9x13 if you do); or you can make it in two 9x13s and give one away!


Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Fudge:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp. butter
Pinch of salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract


For the peanut butter cookie dough, in a large bowl cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for another 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Stir in the dry ingredients until no dry streaks remain.

Reserve about 2 1/2 cups of the dough and set aside. Press the rest of the cookie dough in the bottom and into the corners of a greased 11x17 pan.

For the fudge, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, butter, salt, chocolate chips and vanilla. Cook for 1-minute increments on 50% power, stirring in between, until the mixture is nearly melted; then stir until creamy.

Pour the fudge filling over the cookie dough layer and spread evenly with an offset spatula or knife.

Crumble the remaining cookie dough over the top in small pieces.

Bake the bars for 15 minutes – but don’t overbake! The cookie dough should be soft; resist the temptation to let them cook until browned. Let the bars cool completely before slicing and serving. The bars can be cut and stored in the refrigerator, well-covered, for several days or frozen for several months.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, October 29, 2018

Brunch Tostadas


Once in a while, I can recreate a great dish that I've enjoyed at a restaurant. Such is the case for these brunch tostadas. Now, to be clear, this is not the most complicated dish in the world. But still, it's something I would have never put together on my own had I not eaten it first somewhere else. And I'm so glad I did. (Both that I ordered it at the restaurant and that I made it at home!)

We had a fantastic long weekend in Kansas City recently and this was one of my favorite dishes. I had a hard time deciding what to order at The Corner Restaurant, because it all looked so good! But these tostadas won the morning, and now they have won themselves into the rotation at our house. And how could they not?? Crispy tostadas are topped with refried beans, guacamole, carnitas, queso freso and a sunny side up egg. The whole thing is just SO wonderful - and I can't wait for you to try it.


My kids exclaimed "you can make these again!" which is about the winningest endorsement I've heard. And I definitely will, if only because I love them so much!

If you've never bought tostadas before, they should be widely available in the Mexican aisle at your grocery. I bought mine at Aldi and they were cheap (shocking) and delicious. I suppose, if you're really ambitious, you could fry your own. Queso fresco, a Mexican cheese, is crumbly like feta and usually comes in a round. It also is widely available, even at Aldi.


I had leftover carnitas in the freezer that I simply warmed and crisped up in the frying pan. You won't need the whole recipe of carnitas for these tostadas, so be sure to put quesadillas or tacos on your menu for later in the week. Or, freeze the leftover carnitas - they freeze beautifully.

Also, it should be noted that I named these "brunch tostadas" because they have an egg on top! (And because I did eat them for breakfast at the restaurant.) However, at our house we eat them almost exclusively for dinner. So, no matter what they're called, I hope you will try them soon.

Get more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Hearth and Soul, Fabulous.

Brunch Tostadas

8 tostadas
1 can refried beans
3-4 avocados (3 if large, 4 if not!)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
Carnitas
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
8 eggs

Prepare the guacamole by peeling and crushing the avocados. Stir in the red onion, lime juice, garlic and salt to taste.

Heat the tostadas in a 400-degree oven for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant and hot. Warm the beans in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top over low heat.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray or melt 2 tsp butter. Cook the eggs until desired doneness, sunny side up.

Spread the refried beans among the tostadas, then top with guacamole. Place about 1/3 cup carnitas over each, then top with a cooked egg. Sprinkle queso fresco over the eggs and serve. Makes 8 tostadas.

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