Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cranberry Bliss Bars.

Have you heard of Cranberry Bliss Bars before? Maybe at Starbucks? When I visit Starbucks - which is not often - I usually get a frap or an iced mocha. Or a chai tea latte! I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have bought one of their pastries.

This pastry I learned of from my friend. While traveling together last winter she insisted on getting me a Cranberry Bliss Bar to go with my drink. I was impressed with the tasty gem! However, as a seasonal item, I never made it back to get another one.

Fast forward to me googling "Cranberry Bliss Bar" and finding numerous "copy cat" recipes. In hopes of finding the perfect one I modified one of the recipes to my liking. The result - cranberry bliss bars - as good, if not better than original.

Cranberry Bliss Bars
(adapted from Cookie Madness)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground giner
3/4 cup craisins
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

handful of craisins
white chocolate to melt and drizzle

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugars. Add eggs and lemon juice. Beat until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Add craisins and chips.

Spread batter in pan and bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Prepare frosting by beating cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add juice and sugar and beat again until fluffy.

Spread evenly over cooled bars. Top with craisins and drizzle white chocolate. Allow chocolate to set - cut - and enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies

Our neighbor (Jean) makes the BEST cream cheese cookies ever, but they aren't a cutout recipe, and I really wanted to make cute, Halloween cutouts... so, I found this recipe in one of Holly's Christmas Cookie Cookbook/Magazine and tried it out. They turned out cute, and were pretty good, but I'll search for an even better one or perform a little "test kitchen" on my own! :) Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Combine butter and cream cheese. Beat with an electronic mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond extract until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out images.

Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Tran sfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

Oreo Truffles.

These truffles are easy and a delicious treat suitable for Halloween or any occasion! They are slightly time-consuming, but not too bad and the end result is definitely worth all efforts. I made them last Christmas and they were a huge hit!

Oreo Truffles.
1 package oreo cookies
1 8-oz package cream cheese (softened)
chocolate for dipping

Combine ingredients in a stand mixer until cookies are crush and combined with the cream cheese. If you do not have a stand mixer you will want to crush the cookies and then combine with the cream cheese. Once combined, refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight. Once chilled, formed into balls and dip into chocolate. Decorate as desired.

While these obviously are not "healthy" I did use fat-free or reduced-fat cream cheese. I figure any little bit helps!!

Oh! AND I think I recall seeing mint oreos. I see some really good potential!!! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Milwaukee Pork Chops.

No picture today. All of the pictures I tried to take made these pork chops less than appetizing which is not the case! Therefore, use your imagination or better yet make them!!!!

I put this together and in the oven before Gary and I went out to cut wood; when we came back in the house smelled so good! I served the pork chops with a baked potato and squash. So tasty!

Milwaukee Pork Chops.
(adapted from my Aunt Janet)
6 pork chops
1 cup ketchup
1 can of beer
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 onion - cut into slices

Brown pork chops on both sides and place in a 9x13 baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients. Pour beer mixture over pork chops and cover baking dish with foil. Bake for an hour and a half.

Pork chops will come out tender. They will fall apart. And be delicious!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

This pie is the second pie I have ever made, and my first one with a homemade crust! We haven't tried it yet but it smells absolutely delicious and looks pretty darn good also. We're getting together tomorrow to have apple pie a la mode - so I'll update you with the results! :)

I started off by searching for a pie crust recipe and adapted my recipe from one listed on

Perfect Pie Crust

2 1/2 cup flour, plus additional flour for rolling out dough
2 sticks butter, frozen and cubed
1 teaspoon sugar
4-8 Tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and sugar in food processor; process to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture forms pea-sized pieces of butter. Add 1 Tablespoon of water at at a time (not exceeding 8 Tablespoons), until it begins to clump together. If you can pinch a small amount of mixture together and it holds, it is ready. It should resemble the image below.

Separate the mixture into two equal mounds on a clean service. Gently knead the mixture into two formed discs - do not over-knead. You should see small chunks of butter, these chunks of butter are what helps the crust flake. Sprinkle these disks with a little flour and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour (can sit for up to two days). Remove one disc from fridge and allow to get to room temperature - 5-10 minutes to make rolling easier. Sprinkle surface with flour and roll out pie crust. Carefully place into 9 inch pie plate. After adding filling, repeat with the second disc.

Apple Pie Filling

3-5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup apple pie liquor
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour in crust and sprinkle with additional brown sugar, if desired. Cover pie with top crust; press crusts together, trim the edges and press fork around the outside edge. Cut 3-4 slices or designs on top crust to allow the steam out while baking. Bake 45 minutes. After removing from oven, cover with glaze.

Apple Pie Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 Tablespoons water
pinch of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients, mix well and place on top crust. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

My house smells amazing right now. Heidi and I are having a baking day! Be prepared for a flood of delicious posts!!

I'll start with that of pumpkin whoopie pies. I made these last year and This time I use some whole wheat flour. I enjoy the texture and slightly nutty flavor whole wheat flour adds. Plus its slightly healthy. :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.
3 cups flour (2 cups all purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients - mix well - set aside. Combine oil and brown sugar. Mix well. Add pumpkin puree and mix well. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add dry mixture - stirring as you add.

Drop heaping tablespoon fulls onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Cool. Prepare filling.

Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Frosting.
1 stick of butter
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Beat only until combined.

Assemble whoopie pies by placing a glob of frosting on the flat side of a whoopie pie and sticking a second pie to the frosting (flat sides together).

Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving. These will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars.

It's been a while since I posted something sweet. I think these bars will make up for it. I promise that they will not disappoint. I really don't think it gets better than this - chocolate? check! caramel? check! oatmeal? check! They are phenomenal! And they come together quick and easy!

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars.
(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (melted)
1 package caramels (unwrapped)
1/3 teaspoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add melted butter and mix until crumbly. Reserve two cups for topping and press remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Melt caramel with milk - on the stove or in the microwave. Melt/stir until mixture is smooth. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir again.

Sprinkle 1 cup of chips over the crust. Cover with melted caramel mixture. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and top with the rest of the chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool. Lift bars out with parchment paper and cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Italian Meatloaf.

I discovered this recipe while reading a cookbook as I hunted last fall. Since I did not get a deer, finding this recipe was the next best thing and made sitting in the cold worthwhile!

Italian Meatloaf
(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens - New Cookbook - Bridal Edition)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork or pork sausage
1 beaten egg
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
3/4 cup tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce (plus a little more for topping)
1 pound garlic cheese (or mozzarella or provolone)

In a large bowl combine beef, pork, egg, bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, and tomato sauce. Mix well.

Divide the meat into two portions. Place first portion in a loaf pan and spread evenly. Cut cheese into strips. Place a strip of cheese down the center of the loaf pan. Top with remaining meat mixture and spread evenly. Spoon additional tomato sauce on top of meatloaf. Sprinkle with additional cheese that has been grated.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until thickest part of the loaf registers 160 degrees. Drain fat and serve.

This is so good!! If a two-pound meatloaf is too much for your family you can make these in miniature loaf pans or for in cupcake tins. I did the cupcake tins one time and they were adorable. I do the miniature loaf pans quite often - you might be able to reduce the cooking time in these smaller portions - just to be safe use the meat thermometer!

And, to complete your comfort meal - serve with mashed potatoes and acorn squash!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Apple Pancakes & Chunky Apple Sauce.

My favorite thing to do with pancake mix is add things to it. Now that fall (maybe even winter) is upon us I have been adding in apple. And in this case - apple and cinnamon chips. But not just any apple or cinnamon chips - homemade apple sauce and amish store mini cinnamon chips. No real recipe for the pancakes - add as much or as little as you'd like!

Chunky Apple Sauce
(adapted from Taste of Home)

8 cups apple (peeled and cut into apple-pie like slices)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a roaster over, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on medium heat - stirring occasionally for 35 minutes (or until apples are tender). Remove from heat, mash the apples using a potato masher until desired consistency. (We like ours on the chunky side.) Separate into containers and freeze for long-term storage.

Ok, so we make a HUGE roaster full of this. If you make the recipe above you may not have to freeze much, if any.

Suggestions for eating:
Plain - warm or cold
On ice cream - warmed up and with caramel
In pancakes
And any other way you can think of!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Congratulations to my co-author and sister [Heidi] on her engagement! Heidi and Lucas "got engaged" last weekend. Congrats! Love ya!

Salisbury Steak

This weekend I traveled to Eau Claire again to visit Lucas and some of our friends. It was an extremely busy weekend, sharing the news of our engagement with everyone that I barely had anytime to make something good for Lucas! I was able to today however, because the Bears are on TV... So, today I will share with you a good Football Sunday (or any Sunday) lunch. On the menu was: Starter Salad, Garlic Smashed Potatoes (which you can find on this blog already... they're to die for!) and Salisbury Steak.

Salisbury Steak

1 - 2 pounds Cube Steak
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon season salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Original Blend
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 stick butter
1 can french onion soup
1/2 soup can water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and chili powder. Place butter in frying pan. Coat portions of cube steak in flour mixture and brown both sides in butter. Place in baking dish, add soup and water. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender. Enjoy!