Friday, December 31, 2010

Onion and Herb Biscuits

3 c baking mix
1 c buttermilk
1 TBSP dried onion flakes
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp chopped dried parsley

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Add buttermilk and onion to a mixing bowl and let stand 5-10 minutes to soften.

Add baking mix and parsley, mix until blended and dough is firm but sticky.

Spoon dropfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet, or sprinkle dough ball with baking mix and roll out to 1/4" on a floured surface. Use a glass or cookie cutter to cut out biscuits. (Something that makes approximately 2-3" biscuits is ideal).

Bake 8-12 minutes until biscuits are golden.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nifty Tip: Leftover Coffee

Ever have not enough for a full cup left in the pot? Not enough to be worth saving for iced coffee? Really not enough for anything in particular?

I have a spare ice tray that I pour leftover coffee into and freeze to make coffee cubes.

Once they set I throw them into a quart bag and use them for all kinds of things: frozen coffee drinks, adding to milk for a coffee flavor, using in iced coffee so the ice doesn't dilute the coffee as it melts and the most delicious- adding to some Baileys Irish Cream for a little cocktail!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Country Mouse's Beef Stew

My friend Country Mouse (who prefers not to have an Internet presence) is an awesome down-home country cook. Her food never disappoints and this easy, delicious stew blows away anything I have tried before.

1 package beefy or golden onion soup mix
1 onion cut into pieces
2 lbs Meat (any roast or steak)
Carrot pieces
Potato pieces ( small red or baby Yukon hold up the best)
1-2 stalks celery, chopped

Add water to slow cooker to cover. Cook all day on low.

After above is cooked, remove meat, trim remaining fat and pull apart meat with a fork. Return to slow cooker.
Add:
can of corn
can of green beans
can of diced tomatoes ( any flavor)
small can of tomato sauce

Cook for one additional hour on high.

If you need a thicker sauce, mix a tablespoon of flour with cold water and add to hot mixture or add 1 packet brown gravy mix.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nifty Tip: Stock Scrap Bag

Ever trim your bonless skinless chicken breast and have meat left between the fatty section and the breast? Or trim a steak or roast and have some meat left behind with the fat, or roast a chicken and have wings/drums that no one wants? Or the skin and bones from a roast that you do not want to use for stock that day? Tomato peels from canning salsa? Stems from bunches of herbs? Or even just the liquids from steaming veggies that hold those precious vitamins and nutrients that cooked out?

I keep "stock scraps" together in my freezer, each in its own labeled bag: poultry, beef, and vegetable.

When I trim meat, I add the fat if it still has meat attached. Same with the veggie liquid, scraps from onions/carrots/celery/etc, and other items listed above.

When I am making stock, I add the scrap bag to boost up the stock.

Next to nothing is wasted in our house!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Minestrone Soup

1 can Northern white beans
2 TBSP olive oil
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 stalk(s) celery, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 ounce(s) pancetta or bacon, sliced, diced
1 pound(s) all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium (8 ounces each) zucchini, 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 medium (1 pound) head savoy cabbage, sliced to equal 4 cups
1 large garlic clove, crushed
3 1/2 c homemade chicken broth or 2 cans commercial
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and pancetta; cook 10 minutes or until onions begin to brown, stirring occasionally.


Add potatoes, zucchini, cabbage, and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until cabbage wilts.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes with their juice, and 1 cup water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

In blender or food processor with knife blade attached, blend 1/2 cup beans with 1 cup soup until pureed. Stir salt, bean puree, and remaining beans into soup; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

** This is delicious topped with pesto sauce.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sugar Cookies (the Wilton recipe)

I found this recipe on the back of a cookie cutter I bought. Its delish and perfect for Christmas.




1 c unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
1/2 tsp no-color almond extract
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt



Preheat oven to 400°F.
 
In mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts.
 
Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.
 
Do not chill dough.
 
Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 in. wide and 1/8 in. thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 6-7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

COOKIE ICING

1 c confectioners' sugar
2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp flavored extract (I like lemon or peppermint)
1 1/4 c sugar and 1/3 cup water, boiled together to make simple syrup
assorted food coloring

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in simple syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more simple syrup.

Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

Soo Easy Dump Cake

1 can cherry pie filling
1 can crushed pineapple
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix pineapple and cherry filling in a 13x9 baking pan.

Sprinkle the cake mix over the top.

Slice the butter or cut into small cubes and place across the top of the cake mix.

Bake 20-30 minutes until butter is melted and top is golden.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Buffalo Chex Mix

4 cups Rice Chex® cereal
4 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
2 cups Parmesan-flavored crackers
2 cups pretzel twists
6 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 packet ranch dressing mix
2 teaspoons celery seed

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, crackers and pretzels; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in hot sauce and seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 4 to 5 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Asian-style Chex mix

3 c. corn Chex
6 c. rice Chex
1 c. Chinese noodles
1 c. Wasabi peas
1 c. raw almonds
2 TBSP soy sauce
5 TBSP butter
1 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP chili powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 250 degrees. In a 13x9 pan, melt butter, oil and soy sauce. Remove and whisk in the seasonings.

In a large bowl, mix dry snack ingredients. Pour melted butter mixture over cereal and toss well to coat. Return mix to pan.

Cook 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes

OR, in the microwave:

In large microwavable bowl, mix dry snacks; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in soy, sesame oil and seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.


Microwave uncovered on High 4 to 5 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

You can make this ahead and store up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Egg Sausage Bake (a Colehour house favorite!)

2-1/2 c. croutons (or enough to cover bottom of pan)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 lbs. pork sausage, browned and drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c milk

mix together in blender:
4-6 eggs
2-1/2 c. milk
3/4 tsp. dry mustard

Grease 9 x 13 pan. spread croutons on the bottom. Top with cheese, then sausage. Pour egg mixture over top. Refrigerate overnight.

Before baking - mix soup and 1/2 c. milk and pour over top.

Bake at 300 degrees for 90 minutes.

Giada's Spiced Pork Roast

1/4 c whole grain mustard
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin, patted dry with paper towels
1 medium onion, sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 c low-sodium chicken stock
Salt and black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Place pork in a 13X9 roasting pan and coat with the spice rub. Add onions, carrots, and broth.

Roast for an hour and 15 minutes under temp reads 160 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing to allow juices to settle. Serve with the roasted vegetables, and the pan juices seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Fudge

5 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine
10 oz. evaporated milk (1 1/3 c.)
15 oz Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 c. chopped toffee pieces

Grease a 13X 9-inch baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended.

Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test).

Remove from heat, stir in extract and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 of the nut pieces and stir in. Turn into greased pan and cool. Cover with the rest of the nut pieces. Makes 5 pounds.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peppermint Mocha Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix (plus ingredients it calls for)
1-1 1/2 c strong coffee
1 stick softened butter
3-4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c water
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 drops red food coloring
20 starlight mints

Make the cake according to package direction, substituting strong coffee for the water (for a real intense flavor try espresso instead).

Whip the butter, extract, food coloring, and water until light and fluffy (I use the Kitchen Aid, slowly turned up to the highest setting). Slowly add powdered sugar and continue to whip on higher setting until frosting is desired consistency, and appears light and fluffy. You can add a small amount of water at a time if its too fluffy.

In a food processor, crush mints to make a chunky dust. Frost the cake with the peppermint frosting, and sprinkle with crushed mints.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Biscotti

This recipe would have been lost when I lost my cookbook if it wasn't for Tracy Foley! I had happened to fax it to her in December, so she just faxed it back. Below are just suggestions for what you use for add-ins, but you can play around with the extract, zests, fruit, nuts and chocolate for endless choices.

Basic Dough
3 TBSP softened butter
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (or other) extract
2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda

Add-ins:
1/2 c shelled pistachios and 1/2 c dried cherries
1 TBSP grated ginger and 1 c craisins
1 TBSP grated orange zest and 1 c dark chocolate chips
1/2 c sliced almonds and 1/2 c shredded coconut (use almond extract for vanilla)
1/2 c peanuts, 1/2 c raisins (sub rum extract for vanilla)

Drizzle;
Melted white or dark chocolate, sprinkles, chopped nuts, shredded coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat first 6 ingredients in a large bowl with mixer on medium until well combined. Add your choice of flavorings and additions.

Divide dough in half and roll into 12" long logs. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, 3" apart. Bake 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. If you used chocolate, cool completely. Cut logs into 1/2" thick slices. Place slices upright on a baking sheet and return to oven. Bake 10-12 minutes until pale golden. Cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, or in a microwave safe glass dish for 30 seconds at a time, stirring, until smooth. Either dip cookies or use a form to drizzle chocolate over.

Makes 4 dozen.

Oven French Toast

I got this delicious recipe from my mother-in-law and was an instant fan. It's a little rich for everyday eating but makes a great brunch or special day item. I'll be using leftover frozen cranberries from this fall season for our Christmas batch.

1 loaf of French bread, sliced in half the long way (like you are making a sandwich)
8 oz cream cheese
1 dozen eggs
1 c milk
1 c real maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar

1-2 c YOUR CHOICE:
Fresh or frozen blueberries, peaches, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, cherries, walnuts, pecans, shredded coconut, thin sliced apples w/ cinnamon.

Spread cream cheese on the cut sides of the bread. Put halves back together and cut into 1" cubes. Scatter in a buttered 13X9 pan.

Sprinkle fruit/nuts over the cubes.

Mix eggs, milk and syrup. Pour over cubes and let sit overnight.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Sprinkle w/ powdered sugar.

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

5 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine
10 oz. evaporated milk (1 1/3 c.)
15 oz Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Grease a 13X 9-inch baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended.

Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test).

Remove from heat, stir in extract and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 of the nut pieces and stir in. Turn into greased pan and cool. Cover with the rest of the nut pieces. Makes 5 pounds.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

At home takeout : Fried rice

We make our own fried rice all the time. Its a cheap and quick dinner and great for using things up in the fridge. You can do any leftover meat like pork loin, steak, chicken, shrimp, leftover roast, or just all veggies. Good to add to the collection for making take-out like meals for a fraction of the cost!

1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 c leftover white or brown rice
1 onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 c shelled edamame (or frozen sweet peas if you prefer)
1 c leftover meat, chopped mushrooms, mixed veggies, etc - (your pick!)
1/2" ginger root, peeled
1-2 TBSP low sodium soy

Heat oil over high heat in a wok or large non-stick skillet. Add rice and cook for 3-4 minutes to crisp. Don't stir too often, just once or twice to keep it from burning. Add onions and garlic and continue to occasionally stir.

Once onions are soft, push the rice to the sides of the pan and make a well in the center. Add eggs and scramble. Once they have firmed a little, incorporate the rice in from the sides.

Add edamame/peas, and leftover meat or veggies of choice. Add in soy slowly until rice is lightly coated, and grate ginger root over pan.

This can be a meal on its on, or you can have it with oven-fried egg rolls, or teriyaki sticks. Picture below is with cream cheese wontons.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken

2 full boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
1 c chopped spinach
1/4 c onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
3-4 slices cappicola or prosciutto, chopped
1 TBSP oil from sun-dried tomatoes OR olive oil
1 roasted red pepper, thin sliced
8 slices bacon

course ground mustard
1 c shredded cheese
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Pound out chicken to 1/4" thickness. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.
In a skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add cappicola/prosciutto and cook until fat renders out, add spinach and peppers and cook 1-2 minutes longer.

Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese on each chicken breast. Top with 1/4 of the spinach mix. Roll chicken breast up, and wrap with 2 slices of bacon. Tie with kitchen string to hold together if needed.

Heat a cast iron skillet or saute pan over medium/high heat until its screaming hot. Add chicken breasts, turning to brown all sides. Baste the top with drippings and drain out the remaining bacon grease.  Drizzle with coarse brown mustard.  Continue cooking in the oven 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sausage Soup

1 lb ground sausage (pork, turkey, chicken)
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
3 medium sage leaves (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
1 tsp beef bouillon powder or 1 cube
2 14 oz cans tomato (no sodium added), your choice depending on how chunky you like the soup
1 can chick peas, rinsed
1 c frozen spinach
1/4 rice (your choice, I like mixed wild/brown)
ground black and crushed red pepper, to taste 

In a large soup pot, brown meat in olive oil. Once its almost cooked, add onion and garlic, and fresh herbs if using. Cook until soft.

Add tomatoes (I like 1-whole peeled, 1-fire roasted diced), chick peas, dried herbs (if using), bouillon and 3 cans water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add rice.

Cook 15-20 minutes until rice is done. Add spinach and stir in until mixed.

Monkey Munch

Some people call this Puppy Chow, some Muddy Buddies. Either way it is YUMMY!
9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put chocolate, peanut butter, and butter in a microwaveable casserole dish. Heat 60 seconds, stir, and then return in 30 second increments until everything is smooth and melted. Add vanilla.

Measure cereal in a large bowl. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal and stir well. Add powdered sugar and toss well to coat. (I use a large Tupperware bowl that has a lid so I can shake it up).

Pour onto a baking sheet  and cool in the fridge. Store in a gallon bag or the bowl you used to toss the mix and divide into 1 cup size gift portions.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Movie Night Snacks

Holiday Popcorn
3 c popped popcorn (air popped is the best)
3 TBSP butter, melted
1 TBSP Splenda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Put the popcorn in an extra large bowl. Pour the butter over popcorn, and lightly toss to coat the popcorn. Combine the sugar and spice in a small bowl. Sprinkle it over the popcorn, tossing to coat it completely.

Rich Homemade Cocoa
1 1/2 TBSP cocoa powder
1 TBSP Splenda
1 c milk
dash cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Whisk ingredients over low-medium heat, stirring constantly until hot. Adjust sweetness to taste. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cocoa powder, cinnamon or cayenne for presentation.

Toaster Oven S'mores
 For each s'more:
1 sheet of graham cracker
1/4 of a Hershey bar
1 marshmallow

Brake the cracker in half, place marshmallow on 1 side and chocolate on the other. Put in the toaster oven on broil until the marshmallow turns golden brown, turn over and toast the oven side. Sandwich together and VIOLA.

Kiddie Proof S'mores
 Substitute Nutella for the chocolate and fluff for the marshmallow. Spread 1 tsp of each on half the cracker. Sandwich for your little guys.

Do you have an air popper?


Candy Cane Fudge

This is also known by some as "that pink stuff". Its pretty, its creamy, it tastes just enough like candy canes without being too strong, and the mint helps offset the sweetness of the fudge. I have even had a few people tell  me they don't like fudge, but love this one.

5 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine
10 oz. evaporated milk (1 1/3 c.)
15 oz Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
6-8 drops pink food coloring
24 oz.  white chocolate pieces
1  c. chopped candy canes or starlight mints (I use the food processor or crush them in a ziploc with a hammer)

Grease a 13X 9-inch baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended. Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test). Remove from heat, stir in food coloring, extract and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add 1/2 of the candy pieces and stir in. Turn into greased pan and cool. Cover with the rest of the candy pieces. Makes 5 pounds.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Homemade Gifts: Flavored Olive Oil

Bormioli Rocco Country Home Helios Glass Oil Bottle
This year we are trying to focus on some love-filled homemade gifts. It not only saves on the budget but shows that you care enough to give your time. To save money I try to think about Christmas all year and pick up things when they are a great deal. My brother James mentioned this idea, and a week or two later I stumbled into a huge sale on the oil and bottles. Must have been meant to be .....

You will need:
Green glass bottles (1 liter) with corks OR glass oil bottles w/ stoppers- washed/dried
Extra virgin olive oil
A variety of herbs, spices, essential oil and/or flavorings (You can make many variations of herb-infused olive oil. Some suggestions for herbs and spices are rosemary, garlic, basil, bay, chives, dill, mint, marjoram, tarragon and thyme- Think of good salad dressing combos)

I picked:
Spicy Garlic Oil: Granulated dried garlic, dried diced jalapenos, crushed red pepper, dried whole Thai chilies
Lemon Rosemary Oil: Dried lemon peel, Dried rosemary sprigs, lemon essential oil

Directions:
Wash and dry your herbs. After washing, leave your herbs out to dry. Slightly tear or bruise the herbs so that they begin to release their aroma and flavors.

Once completely dried, loosely fill 1-2" of herbs in glass bottle. Use a funnel to pour in the EVOO and cover. Tightly cork/seal and let stand at least 2 weeks.

Create personalized tags including the type of oil, ingredients, and what you think its best for (salad dressing, dipping bread, sauteing/roasting veggies, marinating meat, stir-frying, etc).

Things to Keep in Mind:
- It is unsafe to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture ( garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs, etc).  The oil will not support bacterial growth but the water containing herbs will.

- Avoid a fresh garlic infused oil. They look great, they taste yummy, you see them in the Gourmet oil but it really isn't safe to make them at home without the commercial machinery. Buy dried granulated garlic, or use already flavored garlic oil for some of the EVOO.

- Garbage in=garbage out. You want to use a quality olive oil or the end quality will suffer. Also, you should use either fresh herbs that you dry, or newly purchased dry herbs (not the ones you got in a housewarming gift Spice Rack back in '01 and  just never knew what to do with them....).

- This project requires some planning ahead. If you want to do a large volume, you will want to shop around in the early fall for deals on glass bottles and the oil itself (I scored mine for $7.99/2L bottle at World Market in October!!!!). You will either need to plan to make the oil a couple weeks ahead, or include when the oil will be ready to use on the gift tag.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nifty Tip: Post Big Meal

Feeling overstuffed and overindulged?

Three to five servings of broccoli, kale or arugula the day after a big meal help flush out toxins from meats and processed foods. (Family Circle December 2010 )

Whats the best way to eat broccoli, kale, and arugula you ask? Here are my FAVES:
Broccoli- Roast with olive oil, chopped garlic, and black pepper in a 450 degree oven 10-15 minutes until ends start to char.
Kale- Saute with olive oil, thin sliced garlic, and the zest/juice from 1 lemon. Season with salt and pepper.
Arugula- Melt 1 TBSP butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 TBSP of flour and whisk until mixture forms a brown paste. Add 1 c light cream, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Continue whisking until edges just begin to bubble. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir until sauce thickens. Toss with whole wheat spaghetti until coated. Top with 1 c chopped arugula and 1/4 c shredded Parmesan and lightly fold in.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups white flour
1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks of softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetener (granulated works best)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
8-10 drops green food coloring
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat even to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine first 4 ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl (or the kitchen aid mixer bowl), beat next 4 ingredients until creamy. Add eggs, separately until incorporated into mixture. Add food coloring and extract and combined. Add flour mixture and beat until well blended.

Mix in by hand (even if you are using the mixer) 1 bag of chocolate chips.

Bake for 8-12 minutes depending on cookie size. Makes 4 dozen small cookies or 2 dozen large cookies.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Gifts: Snowman Soup

This is more of a gift idea than a recipe, but great to make up and pass out around the holidays.

For each "soup" you will need:

1 packet instant hot cocoa, any flavor or variety
2 candy canes, taped together to form a heart
1/4 c mini marshmallows OR 3-4 Christmas shape/color marshmallows in a snack bag
1-2 Hershey kiss es

On the card/paper of your choice, this message:
Was told you've been good this year
I'm always glad to hear it!
With freezing weather drawing near,
You'll need to warm the spirit.
So here's a little Snowman soup,
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water, sip it slow,
It's sure to do the trick!

If you are doing a few, you can just put the ingredients into a cute over sized mug and put the note in with it.

For a large batch, I put everything into a quart bag, and fit the note to the length of the top of the bag leaving the top half blank, then fold it over and staple to cover the zip top.

You can also go to Organized Christmas for really cute bag toppers like whats shown in this photo!

How I Made the Most of Thanksgiving Leftovers

As usual, I made way too much food in my insane worry that someone might go hungry at my house. Here is just some tips and bits about how I made the leftovers a little less painful for my family.

Thanksgiving Day
- Once you remove the turkey from the roasting pan and have made gravy, pour the remaining drippings into a container and refrigerate.
- After you carve the turkey, refrigerate the carcass and any veggies that we in/around the bird
- Wrap up leftovers within 2 hours of serving for safety

1-2 Days Later
- Make stock
- Make soup: Throw the wings/drumsticks into a stock pot. Add 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 4 cloves garlic, 1 sprig of fresh thyme and cook over a high rolling heat for 1-2 hours until the bones are clean. Strain the stock in a strainer lined with paper towels and add to a large soup pot. Add another couple sliced carrots and celery stalks, 1 sliced onions, and the meat from the strainer carefully checked for bones and cut to bite size. Cook until veggies are tender, salt and pepper to taste
- Make turkey pot pie: Use the leftover dripping to make more 1-2 more cups of gravy. Chop leftover turkey and line the bottom of an 8X8 baking dish. Add a bag of frozen mixed veggies, and pour gravy over the top to cover. Roll out an 8x8 square of pie dough to cover. Bake at 400 until golden brown and crusty.
- Make turkey salad: Throw chopped white and dark meat into a food processor with rough chopped celery and green onions. Add mayo, coarse ground mustard, and hot cherry pepper spread. Pulse until shredded/mixed well.

3-4 Days Later
- Make chocolate cranberry tarts: Roll out pie dough and cut to 3" circles with a glass or cookie cutter. Line dough in a 2.5" muffin pan. Place about 10 semi-sweet chocolate chips in each cup. Fill with 1-2 TBSP cranberry sauce. Bake until crust is golden.
- Make mashed potato cakes: For each 1 c of mashed potatoes add 2 TBSP chopped green onions and 1/4 c shredded cheddar. Mix well and form 5 patties. Dip in a beaten egg, and a mix of equal part bread crumbs and grated Parmesan. Cook over medium heat in a skillet with 2 TBSP vegetable oil, turning once, until golden on both sides.

My Mom's Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bar....and my Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Bars

When I was little my mom always made these yummy little treats when we were going to a party. I recently found the recipe and made them again, and then got the idea to flip them for my chocolate loving friends.

Nonny's Bars                                                             
1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 c water
1/4 c softened butter
1 c crunchy peanut butter
1 bag chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heavily grease a 13X9" baking pan.

Beat eggs, water, butter and peanut butter to blend. Add the cake mix, 1/2 a box at a time. Stir until mixed well and fold in chocolate chips.

Bake 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

FLIP IT!
Substitute chocolate cake for the yellow, and peanut butter chips for the chocolate.