Thursday, December 31, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Most Popular Posts of 2015

The series continues, thanks to Sarah over at Fantastical Sharing. Today we are looking back at the most popular recipes on Cook with Sara over the last year. I'm excited to say the most viewed recipe was a MAIN DISH! But the two runner ups are definitely desserts. And all three are worth making on a regular basis!

Roasted Red Pepper Sausage Pasta

This has become a favorite in our house and every time I make it, I hear a chorus of "This is SO GOOD!"

Swedish Almond Cake

If you're in need of a last minute dessert, this cake can come to the rescue! You likely have all the ingredients on hand, it's super easy to whip up, and it is AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS.

Lucky Charms Chex Mix

You are sure to find gold at the end of your rainbow when you make this super fun treat!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Best Crockpot Recipes of 2015

Everyone's counting down to 2016 and the best way to do it is with a look back at our favorite recipes of 2015! Sarah at Fantastical Sharing is hosting this party, and today we're sharing the best crockpot recipes. I am so happy to share two of my favorites from this last year, both featuring PORK!

Cranberry Pork Loin

This pork loin was incredible. I love finding interesting and successful ways to cook this cut of meat since it can usually be found for a very reasonable price. Pork and cranberries are great companions, and they complement each other well in this dish.

Apple Kielbasa

This is such a fun and tasty appetizer or snack! It's great football watching or party food, and people will be surprised how good applesauce goes with kielbasa! I loved that it gave me a chance to use my tiny crockpot,

Tomorrow we'll find out which were the most popular recipes of the last year on Cook with Sara! I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Best Desserts of 2015

There is no shortage of dessert options on Cook with Sara. I've got all the carbs covered from A to Z, bars to tiramisu. (That's only B to T, but pretty close) As we continue our Countdown (thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing for hosting!), my mouth is watering remembering these delectable treats.

Eggnog Cake with Eggnog Frosting

This cake is a winner all around. And it had my 3-year old nephew exclaiming, "More cake, PLEASE!" after finishing his first piece...

Gingersnap Rum Apple Crisp

I love making fruit crisps and I have used the same basic recipe for many years. When I stumbled across this variation, I knew I had to try it. I think I made it 3 or 4 times this fall, all to spectacular acclaim!

Mississippi Mud Bars

Can you say RICH? These bars meet that definition - be sure to cut them small!

Peanut Butter, Caramel and Chocolate Chip Bars

These bars disappeared quickly at a pool party and I had several requests for the recipe. And it's no surprise why - a blondie swirled with pb and caramel and studded with chocolate chips is sure to be a hit anytime, anywhere!

Caramel Banana Tiramisu

This dessert is simply amazing. It was such a hit at our house that the teenager requested it for his birthday "cake." Although it's great served cold from the refrigerator, we liked it best when it was slightly frozen.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Best Main Dishes of 2015

I love adding to my main dish repertoire and this year I found some recipes that quickly became regulars in our meal rotation. For today's Countdown, hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing, I give you the four things we now make again and again and again.

Lasagna Soup

All the flavors of lasagna in a tummy (and heart!) warming soup. The cheese on top puts it over, well, the top!

Chicken Sausage Gyros

I am not even joking when I say I think there was a time when we were eating these once a week. Without the pita, this a great no-carb option, and the flavors are simply amazing. This is a perfect summer recipe!

Shrimp, Avocado and Roasted Corn Salad

Oh the flavors in this salad! It will make your tastebuds sing.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This recipe was originally for the crock pot, but I adapted it to the stove top. It's easy, fast and delicious - three criteria for a weeknight dinner in my opinion! We love this with cornbread and a big glass of milk!

Sweet and Sour Polish Sausage

A fun twist on the "same old" sweet and sour! I love the combination of salty polish sausage with sweet pineapple in a tangy sauce!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Best Breakfasts of 2015

On Day 2 of the countdown, hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing, we are looking back at the best breakfasts of 2015. Now this is a post I could get carried away with - if there's an overabundance of anything on my blog, it's muffins and quick breads! Not that there's anything wrong with that... just sayin' there's a lot to choose from in this category so you know that these favorites are outstanding in their field.

Liven up your mornings with one of these tasty treats!

Cranberry Eggnog Muffins

Oh how I adore these muffins. Festive, beautiful and delicious...

Sausage, Red Pepper and Mushroom Quiche

This quiche is great for breakfast, and great for dinner too!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish

Pumpkin. And cream cheese. Wrapped in crescent dough. Oh. my. goodness.

Raspberry Poppyseed Bread

Another beautiful and delicious recipe, perfect with tea or coffee or even lemonade! You won't be sorry if you double this recipe and freeze some for later...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Best Appetizers and Snacks of 2015

So today starts the Countdown to 2016, hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes! I love looking back at the blog from the past year and remembering my favorites. I'm always a little conflicted, though, because I like everything I post - I wouldn't share it with you if I didn't like it. But I can't use this space to recount every.single.recipe posted this year so I have made some tough decisions!

Over the next week, we'll look back on best breakfast, main dish, dessert, crockpot, the most popular posts, and then what I definitely want to make in the New Year! It will be a fun week so stop back every day.

For today, I'm sharing my favorite appetizers and snacks of the last year. I don't do a ton of posting of this category, but what we make a lot of at my house is flatbreads! They are such a versatile thing - can easily be a meal or an app or a snack, you just cut them in different sizes. And the toppings are limitless, just like pizza. These are two we make again and again. And they never get old. I hope you'll try them, too!

Mediterranean Shrimp Flatbreads

Covered in shrimp, artichokes and roasted red peppers, this is a trip to Greece without the airfare!

Sausage and Apple Flatbreads

Two simple toppings, one glorious result!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Samoa Fudge

I know I'm not the only one who thinks Somoas are the best Girl Scout cookies HANDS DOWN. That combo of coconut, caramel, chocolate... I do not buy them anymore cause I can eat the whole box in a day. And that is not a good idea for my health or my waistline.

So I was was thrilled to see this recipe for Samoa Fudge - all the great flavors of my fave cookie in a bite sized morsel, perfect for eating AND sharing at Christmastime! This makes a 9x13 pan of fudge, which is a lot, but I like that there's plenty to take to various family gatherings, parties etc., and there are still enough pieces for me to sneak one (or two) out of the fridge after dinner. HA! (True confessions.)

I just love how nice this fudge looks, too - the waves of caramel and the crunchy toasted coconut on top really make this a great addition to a cookie/candy tray.

Find more great Christmas cheer at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Clever Chicks, Show and Share, Fabulous, Create Link Inspire.

Samoa Fudge

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 package (12oz) white chocolate chips
1 package (3oz) coconut cream pudding mix
1 jar (7oz) marshmallow fluff
1 package Kraft caramel bits
1 tsp. heavy cream
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Note: if you can't find coconut cream pudding, sub vanilla pudding + 1 tsp. coconut flavoring

Spread coconut on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven at 375 for 5-8 minutes, checking after 5 minutes, and shaking the sheet to redistribute the coconut for even toasting.

In a large saucepan, heat butter, cream, sugar and salt on medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 5 minutes then remove from heat. Combine pudding, white chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff in a large mixing bowl. Pour butter and sugar mixture into the bowl, and mix, using an electric mixer, until combined and chocolate is smooth. Immediately pour into a parchment paper lined 13x9 baking dish.

Melt caramel bits with 1 tsp. heavy cream in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Pour caramel over top of fudge. Use a knife to spread and swirl it into the fudge. Refrigerate fudge for 2-3 hours until set.

Melt semi sweet morsels in a small bowl in the microwave at 50% power, stirring after every 30 second interval. Spread over set fudge and sprinkle generously with toasted coconut. Lightly press the coconut down into the chocolate to be sure it sticks.

Store in covered container in refrigerator.

Recipe Source: Shugary Sweets

Monday, December 14, 2015

Triple Peppermint Cookies

If I had to choose, the candy cane "flavor" of Hershey's kisses would be my favorite. I'm one of the few people who wouldn't pick chocolate, I know, but these candy cane kisses are SO addicting. I cannot eat just one. A few years ago, I found a recipe incorporating them into a chocolate cookie, and they were amazing. Those Chocolate Peppermint Swirl Cookies have become a part of my regular Christmas-cookie rotation now! But I love those kisses so much, I thought I needed another way to use them in a cookie.

So here's another variety - a traditional dough is peppermint-ified with crushed candy canes, chopped candy cane kisses, and then a candy cane kiss on top. These are just what you need for an after dinner treat, and besides being oh so tasty, they are oh so pretty.

And if you can't depart from the traditional Hershey's kiss, you can use them in Chocolate Kissed Gingerbread or Macaroon Kisses!

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Inspire Me, Mix it Up, Show and Share, Fabulous, Tasty Tuesday, Clever Chicks, Create Link Inspire, Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent, Foodie Friday.

Triple Peppermint Cookies

1½ cup Powdered Sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Egg
3 cups flour
3 candy canes
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Sugar (about 1/4 cup, to roll cookies in)
1 bag Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

Place candy canes in food processor and pulse until they are completely crushed.

Combine powdered sugar and butterin large bowl. Beat until fluffy at medium speed. Add in eggs, vanilla and peppermint extract and beat until incorporated.

Combine flour, crushed candy canes, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat until well blended (mixture will be kind of dry). Finely chop about 12 of the candy kisses; then stir them into the batter.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 1-inch apart on a parchment paper or silpat-lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until set. Remove from oven and immediately press a Candy Cane Kiss in the center of each cookie. Let rest on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen.

Recipe Source: Saving Cents with Sense

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Eggnog Cake with Eggnog Frosting

I know I just posted a festive bundt cake that would be perfect for any Christmas celebration, but I couldn't resist - here is another. This cake won rave reviews at both a party and a family gathering. The three year old wolfed down his piece and exclaimed, "more cake PLEASE!"

This cake is super easy to put together - just doctor up a cake mix with all kinds of great ingredients - eggnog, nutmeg, sour cream - bake it in a pan coated with cinnamon sugar and then frost it with more eggnog flavored goodness. And if you have more eggnog to "use up" just make these muffins!

As I said before, sometimes you just need a piece of cake. Or two. It is Christmastime after all...

Find more great stuff at Tasty Tuesday, Hearth and Soul, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Eggnog Cake with Eggnog Frosting

1 box (15 oz.) yellow cake mix
1 box (3 oz.) white chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup eggnog
1/2 cup sour cream (light is ok!)
4 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup water

Pan Coating:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup eggnog, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. sea salt
2 cups powdered sugar

For pan coating, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; mix. Grease a bundt pan well, then evenly coat pan with mixture; reserve any excess.

In a large mixing bowl combine cake mix, pudding, nutmeg; stir to combine. Add eggnog, sour cream, eggs, canola oil and water; mix until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan, then top with the leftover cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center removes clean. Rest cake on rack for 10 minutes.
Carefully turn out cake onto cooling rack and let cool completely.

For the frosting, cream butter, vanilla, and eggnog. Add nutmeg, salt, and powdered sugar one cup at a time. Mix until smooth and a pourable consistency; adjust as necessary with more eggnog or powdered sugar.

Place cake on serving platter, spoon frosting around the top of cake and allow to drizzle down the sides. Serves 16.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking with Ruthie

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lasagna Soup

We had our first measurable snow fall yesterday which makes me want to make soup! This was on my "to try this year" list, and I'm getting it in just under the wire! This is a great idea for a soup - all the flavors of lasagna cooked into a hot soup, with the cheesy portion getting melted in individual bowls at the end. Leftovers heat up well, although the pasta absorbs much of the liquid, so any leftovers are more like lasagna casserole, equally delicious!

I love how fragrant soup is when it's cooking - you'll have lots of oohs and ahs from those walking in the house, and those sitting down at your dinner table. Served with some crusty bread, and a nice green salad if you're on a health kick, this is the perfect first snowfall soup. Or any time snow is falling soup.

Find more inspiration at Fabulous, Show and Share, Clever Chicks, Create Link Inspire, Try a New Recipe, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Favorite Things, Full Plate, Showcase Your Talent, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Lasagna Soup

1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes (pureed if you prefer)
2 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 3/4 tsp. dried basil
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crush
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. parsley, plus more for garnish
8 lasagna noodles, broken into bite size pieces
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
6 oz ricotta cheese

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, crumble beef into pot, add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally until browned.

Drain the fat, then add the chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, rosemary, fennel seeds, thyme, sugar and parsley to the pot. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare lasagna noodles according to directions listed on package, reserving 1 cup pasta water before draining pasta.

Add cooked pasta to soup along with 1/2 cup - 1 cup pasta water as desired.

In a mixing bowl, using a fork, stir together mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta.

Ladle soup into bowls, dollop with a large scoop of the cheese mixture and sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy
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