Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lasagna Soup.

First, I must tell you that I did NOT take this delicious-looking picture, BUT my soup did look and taste this good. The picture is from here.

Back to the soup...I tore this recipe out of a magazine quite awhile ago and finally got around to trying it. Very tasty and probably less calories than lasagna in its true form.

Lasagna Soup
Adapted from Rachel Ray

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon dried onion
1 carrot (peeled & grated)
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
2 tablespoons sugar
1 quart italian seasoned tomatoes
1 pint italian seasoned tomato sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound lasagna noodles (broken into jagged pieces)
1/2 cup dried whole basil leaves
shredded mozzarella

Cook ground beef. Place beef, onion, carrot, garlic, italian seasoning, sugar, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken broth into a soup kettle. Stir in 2 cups of water. Cover kettle and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is done (about 15 minutes). Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper as desired. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Service topped with shredded mozzarella.

I think that Gary and my parents enjoyed this soup. Really, aren't most soups perfect for a cold winter's eve?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Espresso Chocolate Cheese Squares.

I found this recipe in a packet of holiday dessert recipes using real butter. Not sure if the "real butter" ads are a local or regional thing, but every time I turn on the radio or open a magazine I see an ad for using real butter. And why not!? I use real butter all the time and I bet that some of our family's milk goes to make that butter! If not butter, maybe the cream cheese or the whipping cream!

Espresso Chocolate Cheese Squares
(adapted from Real Butter packet)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter (chilled)
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (softened)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs

6 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper.

Combine crust ingredients (minus chocolate chips) in a food processor and pulse until butter is in pea-size pieces. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Press into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, stir cream and instant coffee together until coffee is dissolved. Using a mixer, beat cream cheese and butter. Add sugar, flour, and allspice; beat until well blended. Slowly beat in cream/coffee mixture. Add eggs (one at a time) beating until smooth. Pour over crust. Bake 20 to 25 minutes - until edges are slightly puffed and center is set. Cool.

Melt together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over bars. Refrigerate until set. Cover and store in the refrigerate for up to 1 week.

The result - delicious! No need to have coffee with this dessert - the coffee's already in the dessert!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Chili

I hate that it took me until December 23rd to post this recipe, but believe it or not, it actually took me that long to decide what to share! You see, the holiday food tradition in our family relies almost entirely on my mom--it's she who prepares almost all of the dishes for our celebration, and what the rest of us share is sort of besides the fact. This year, though, is different. This year is the first with a new baby in my family, and it's time to start our own traditions. So while White Chili might seem a little "untraditional" for some Christmas dinners, I can't wait to make it the standard for ours. Plus, have I mentioned how entirely delicious it is?

White Chili

½- 1 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
2 Cups Great Northern Beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
½ Cup Green Chilies, chopped
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Oregano
2 Teaspoons Cumin
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne (adjust to taste)
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups Half-and-half
1 cooked rotisserie chicken, cubed
1 Tablespoon Chicken Bouillon (dissolved in a little hot water)
1 – 2 cups sweet corn

In a Dutch oven:
Sauté onions until soft.
Add garlic and heat just a bit.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
Heat until it just comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer with a cover for at least 30 minutes.
Stir often so it doesn’t burn. If you like it thicker, remove the cover and simmer longer.

I'm planning to make this a more festive dish by serving it alongside red tortilla chips (oh, did I forget to mention the chili is as good in a bowl as it is on a chip?) and a sprig of fresh parsley. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reindeer Cookies

Before I even begin this post, I must share that I can only take credit for MAKING the cookies... not for the IDEA of these cookies. My mom actually gave me the idea and I'm not sure if she thought it up in that brilliant head of hers or if she saw it somewhere else.

Next, I must share that these are SUPER cute and SUPER easy.

And, now, I'll get on with the post! :)

Reindeer Cookies

1 package Nutter Butter cookies
Candy Quick melting chocolate (or any chocolate for melting)
pretzel twists
mini chocolate chips
red hot candies or if you prefer - red M&Ms (mini or regular)

I think it's pretty self explanatory... dip the Nutter Butter cookie into the melted chocolate and place the pretzel towards the top of the cookie to resemble antlers. Next, place the mini chocolate chips towards the middle of the cookie for eyes and the red hot at the bottom for a nose. Let the chocolate set and enjoy! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Carmel Kiss Cookies

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tablespoon salt
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup powder sugar
about 1 bag of Carmel Kisses

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
Melt chocolate chips. Cool.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
Cover and chill for 1 hour.

When ready to bake preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put powder sugar in bowl.
Form balls, then roll in the powder sugar.
Bake for 12-14 minutes.

When done baking, let them cool for a little while.
While still a little bit warm put the carmel kiss on top.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finally, I did some baking.

Holly and Heidi, thanks for letting me guest post. How I love baking at Christmastime. Unfortunately my kitchen remodel is in full swing right now so its been a very slow start for me. Thankfully I got to do some baking at work the other day and here's 2 Recipes:

These are something new I tried, and let me tell you, so rich and delicious (everything a christmas treat should be): Chocolate-Mint Truffle Cookies (from Taste of Home)

  • 32 Servings
  • Prep: 25 min. Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling


  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (4.6 ounces) mint Andes candies, chopped, divided
  • 2 teaspoons shortening, divided
  • 1/2 cup vanilla or white chips (I only used Chocolate Chips)
  • Optional toppings: chopped nuts, sprinkles and crushed candy canes


  • In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Remove from the heat; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Stir in the egg, sugars and extracts. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; stir into chocolate mixture. Fold in 3/4 cup Andes candies.
  • Roll rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 2-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until tops appear slightly dry. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  • In a microwave, melt 1 teaspoon shortening and remaining chocolate chips and Andes candies; stir until smooth. Melt vanilla chips and remaining shortening in a microwave; stir until smooth.
  • Dip half of the cookies in melted chocolate mixture; dip remaining cookies in melted vanilla mixture. Immediately sprinkle with toppings of your choice. Let stand until set. Yield: about 2-1/2 dozen.

And second, one of my personal favorites; its almost got a cake consistency, but has the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Cranberry Orange Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in 1 teaspoon orange zest and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in cranberries until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be spaced at least 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons orange juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the tops of cooled cookies. Let stand until set. Makes 4 Dozen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chocolaty Caramel Thumbprints.

Hello Holly! Thanks again for inviting me to post to your blog! I am finally done with my christmas baking and I have found a delicious and very easy new cookie recipe. It is call Chocolaty Caramel Thumbprints. Here is the recipe!
1 egg
1/2 cup butter softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
16 caramels
3 Tbsp whipping cream
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate pieces
1 tsp shortening
Separate the egg. Refrigerate yoke until ready to use. In a large bowl, beat butter for 3o seconds. Then add sugar and mix. Next add egg yolk, milk and vanilla.
In another bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, and salk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined. Wrap cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets. In a small saucepan, heat caramels and whipping cream over low heat until smooth. Set aside.
Slightly beat the reserved egg white. Shape the cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in the egg white, then into the pecans to coat. Place balls about 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Using your thumb (or the bottom of a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon), creat an indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake 10 minutes. After you remove the cookies, you may have to put an indentation back in each cookie if it puffs up from baking.
Spoon in the melted caramel. Then, in a small bowl, microwave the semisweet chocolate and shortning until soft. Drizzle over each cookie! Super easy and looks like a lot of work.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oreo Truffles & Nutterbutter Truffles.

Remember the last time I made oreo truffles? Click on the words "last time" to get the recipe.

Well, they are still an awesome treat and look ever so sweet dressed up for the Christmas season!
And how about paired with some nutterbutter truffles from Kate @ Framed? (click on "Kate @Framed for the nutterbutter truffle recipe).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mint Surprise Cookies.

I bought these Hershey's Bliss milk chocolate pieces with a creme de menthe meltaway center. I wasn't sure what I would do with them, but they look delightful!
Then when shopping for some candy melts I found this:

Which I turned into these little gems - mint surprise cookies!

Mint Surprise Cookies
(Recipe by Me)

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package Hershey Bliss Meltaways as shown above
1 container Wilton Drizzle Icing as shown above

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine flour and cocoa powder; set aside. In another bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, soda, powder, and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture.

Cut bliss candies in half. Shape dough into 1" balls. Press 1/2 bliss candy into ball. Cover completely.

Bake for about 11 minutes and allow to cool. Once cooled, drizzle icing on each cookie. Allow drizzle to cool.

For someone that does not like mint (me!) I have to admit these are pretty good. The mint taste is not overwhelming and it's a welcoming surprise to bite into the cookie and find the little mint.

And I've never used those Wilton Drizzle Icings before. They are pretty slick. I can make my own drizzle, but this makes for an easy and perfect drizzle every time. I might be sold!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza.

With all the baking I have been doing lately this pizza cooking was a welcome smell in our home! This is the perfect addition to any pizza party. And most people who try it fall in love. It is, after all, chicken, bacon, and ranch.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza
(adapted from Mom!)

Pizza Crust (homemade or boughten - enough for a 9x13 pan)
2/3 cup Bottled Ranch Dressing (I'm partial to Hidden Valley Ranch - Light)
1 cup Diced Chicken (that has been marinated in 2 tablespoons of fajita mix and then cooked)
1/2 cup Bacon (that has been cooked and crumbled)
2 cups Mozzarella (shredded)
1 cup Black Olives (sliced)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan. Line pan with pizza crust. Top with remaining ingredients in this order: ranch dressing, chicken, bacon, cheese, and olives. Optional: top with sliced red onions. Bake for 10-15 minutes.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dried Cherry & Chocolate Walnut Brittle

Wow, I don't know if I can top those White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies below. Nothing beats a good Christmas cookie!

I can't wait to get started with my usual holiday baking and cooking. Growing up, my sisters and I would always help with the treat making. Cut-out sugar cookies were always my favorite, but I also liked helping out with white chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate dipped peanut butter crackers, chex mix, and butter spritz cookies. It was tradition, and I always insisted on making those items. I feel the urge to get crackin'! This month is already flying by!

Our family would munch on goodies all month long, and we'd usually make up a new batch of items to take to my grandparents' farm on Christmas day to share with aunts, uncles and cousins.

We weren't much into candy-making; no brittles, no toffee, no marshmallows, and gasp - no fudge. I don't ever remember making candy when I was growing up... I suppose because these items are much more difficult to make. Also, molten hot sugar and small children do not mix.

Therefore, I feel deprived of candy making, and need to make up for it as an adult. So this holiday season I'm making it a point to create more candy recipes for my blog. Buttery chocolate-covered toffee, anyone? Peppermint Marshmallows? Wheee!

Making candy can be tricky business, but I'm up to the challenge. I even went out and bought a brand new candy thermometer! The one I had from 1970 wasn't doing the job. :) I used the new candy thermometer when I created today's recipe: Dried Cherry & Chocolate Walnut Brittle.

Traditional peanut or walnut brittle is delicious, but let's admit it - it's pretty boring, right? I thought I would spice up walnut brittle for the holidays and add dried cherries, dark chocolate, and crystallized ginger. Chocolate, walnuts, cherries and ginger are a match made in heaven!

Happy holidays!

Dried Cherry & Chocolate Walnut Brittle (Recipe from Sugar Plum)
Printable Recipe

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

Butter a cookie sheet well.

Stir together sugar, corn syup and salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; stir in walnuts and cherries, and continue to cook until mixture reaches 300 degrees F, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter and baking soda, quickly; pour onto cookie sheet, and spread out thinly using two forks.

Sprinkle ginger over brittle and gently press into surface. Sprinkle chocolate chips over brittle and gently press into surface. Cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Twelve Guest Bloggers of Christmas - Part 2.

In case you missed the frenzy of Guest Blogger posts around Thanksgiving, check out these creations:

Winter Salad by Robyn
I made this for Thanksgiving and plan to make it again for Christmas. I love adding a lettuce salad to the spread and this one is tasty enough and pretty enough to make the table!!

Amazing. Simply amazing. If you are lucky enough to eat from one of my Christmas treat platters you are likely to see these on it!

Hot Buttered Rum by Our Mom, Barb
I didn't have this at Thanksgiving enough though it was there. That means, I must have lots and lots from now until the New Year. It is DELICIOUS!

Pumpkin Dessert by Teresa
I did not make this yet, but doesn't it sound fabulous!? I thought so! As soon as Gary's cinnamon bread my flop of a chocolate mint brownie is gone I can purse baking again :)

And stay tuned for posts from:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

My favorite food, hands down, is Mexican. Poor Lucas, whenever we go out to eat, my first suggestion is always Mexican (Lucas' is Chinese) and again, when I go to visit him in EC, we usually make something Mexican at least once during the weekend.
I absolutely love playing around with entrees that I've either had, seen or simply heard of. So, this past (Thanksgiving) weekend, everyone was sick of turkey, so they agreed to let me make this recipe that came together in my head:

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

2 - 3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (salt and pep
2 Tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers (or one small can green chilies)
3/4 cup salsa
1 can seasoned black beans (drained and lightly rinse
8 - 10 flour tortilla shells
1 large can enchilada sauce

1 - 2 cups shredded cheese

Use cooking spray to coat 9x13 glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 375. Cook and shred chicken breasts (this is easiest using two forks). Add peppers, salsa and black beans. Fill tortilla with chicken mixture and roll, placing seam side down in baking dish. Fill as many tortillas as fit in one layer in dish. Pour enchilada sauce over and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Serve with toppings of your choice. Ideas: shredded lettuce, black olives, sour cream, etc.

This recipe is SUPER easy to make and really tasty! If you like Mexican food as much as I do (or, even if you don't), you will like this recipe. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies.

I am excited to devote lots of time from now until December 25th to baking and making candies for Christmas! Welcome to the bakery!

Up first...my cookie exchange cookie. White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies. I always try a new recipe for the exchange - making a single batch until I know the final product is deserving. And these - they are deserving!

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
.5 cup maraschino cherries - drained & chopped (I used my mini food processor this - it worked perfectly)
2.5 cups flour
.5 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter
splash of cherry juice
1 cup white chocolate - chopped
.5 teaspoon almond extract
3 drops red food coloring
white chocolate & sprinkles for dipping

Place flour, sugar, and butter into a food processor and pulse until mixture looks like fine crumbs. (You can also accomplish this using a pastry blender). Place mixture in large bowl. Add cherries, splash of cherry juice, chopped white chocolate, almond extract, and food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a ball.

Shape dough into balls - about .75-1.00 inches. Press balls flat using the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. Cook on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then move to cooling rack.

Once cookies are cool, melt some additional white chocolate and dip half of the cookie into the chocolate and then into sprinkles. Allow chocolate to harden.

Eat within a couple days or freeze for a couple months.

My favorite part of these cookies - giving the KitchenAid a break and using my hands!! It was kind of fun playing with the dough! And I had never used my food processor for dough before. I think I might be able to attempt another pie crust. Food processor and cold butter equals success!