Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Mint and Chocolate
I think that is one perfect combination
 These cookies are so easy (are you noticing a recurring theme here lately?)
and so delicious
especially if you get one right out of the oven when it's still gooey
It's impossible to just eat three
the base is a boxed brownie mix so the cookies are extra fudgy and soft
How could you not leave one of these out for Santa?

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
1 (19.9 ounce) box brownie mix
1 large egg
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp water 
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 375 ºF. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine brownie mix, egg, water, peppermint extract and oil in large bowl. Stir until well blended. Scoop a Tablespoon of dough for each cookie and place about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheet. Top each cookie with crushed candy cane pieces.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until cookies are just set in the center. Cool for 3 minutes before removing to cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

White Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Bark

Here is another really easy and festive addition to your Christmas Cookie tins- and it's even Christmas-y colors too!
White Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Bark
here's how I made mine:
Melt some white chocolate over a double boiler, spread it out with an offset spatula on a large wax paper lined cookie sheet and then sprinkle it with chopped pistachios and dried cranberries (I used pomegranate infused ones) press the nuts and cranberries down slightly to make sure they stick and then let it set
Once it is solid break it into hunks and snack away!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Christmas Pretzels

 I am fully aware that these are not gourmet, fancy or difficult in any way, but I still adore them.
Sweet and Salty is my favorite flavor combo and these give me just that.
And they're pretty cute too!
I found these adorable holly and Christmas tree sprinkles in the dollar bins at Target and used them to decorate the quick and easy treat
What a cheerful addition to your Christmas cookie platter!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Eggnog Brigadeiros

Yesterday I spent most of the day in pajamas, drinking eggnog flavored coffee, listening to Christmas music and baking, cooking and candy making. 
In short; I was in heaven.
When planning what I was going to include in my Christmas goodie boxes I came across this recipe and had to give it a shot.
A Brazilian candy made of sweetened condensed milk, butter and spiced rum...seriously how could something with that ingredient list not be good?!
You start out with the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, butter and freshly grated nutmeg in a heavy saucepan and cook it on medium low heat constantly stirring. And stirring. And still stirring.
I may have wimped out during the constant stirring and asked Louis to take a turn at the stove.
After they are ready you chill it, scoop it into small balls and roll it in a coating
I chose a mix of grated white chocolate and colorful sprinkles to roll mine in
They are sticky and sweet and include rum
Do you really need any more convincing to try them?! 
Next time I think I will try the chocolate version and add frangelico at the end to do a Nutella spin on them!

What is your favorite Holiday treat to hand out?

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's never a bad time for a cupcake

Things have been crazy around here, as I'm sure it has been for everyone with Christmas right around the corner. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to blog as often as I'd like but I just wanted to share something sweet that I made recently

These sunny and bright cupcakes were made for a sweet family friend of ours to celebrate her birthday. Almond cake with Almond Cream Cheese Icing
a deliciously simple combo!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

So Thankful

I hope you all had a delicious Thanksgiving! 
I love Thanksgiving for reminding us of all the good things around us, for getting together with family and of course for the food!
A smoked turkey with roasted garlic gravy, dressing, rice, bacon wrapped glazed green beans, baked macaroni and cheese, bourbon pumpkin pecan tart and apple cream cheese danish tart was on our table and I'm really sad to say that it's mostly gone already!
 One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the leftover turkey that I turn into Gumbo. And there is no better meal to warm up with while decorating the tree and getting the house decorated for Christmas than Gumbo in my opinion!
 I am so excited to be getting ready for Christmas and Christmas with kids is so much more fun! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

At the Drive In

 I was asked to make cupcakes for a 65th wedding anniversary recently and I had so much fun creating treats for this event!
The party was being held at a drive in movie theater so we went with "popcorn topped" cupcakes
I was so pleased with the way these came out, I hope the happy couple enjoyed them!
 Half of the cupcakes were Almond Cake with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting and the other half was Mint Chocolate (one of my favorites)
 The "popcorn" topper is not actually what you think it is
It's mini marshmallows cut with sharp scissors and then lightly sprayed with Wilton's color mist
They aren't hard to make just extremely time consuming, but after it was all finished I thought it was really hard to tell that it wasn't actual popcorn

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

 I hope you are all having a Happy Halloween! We really had so much fun with the kids this year carving their pumpkins and getting geared up for Halloween night!
 As a thank you treat for Marshall's teachers I decided to make chocolate covered caramel apples. I used Granny Smiths since those are my favorite and they pair so well with caramel. I stuck the wooden stick through the core after scrubbing the skin with really hot water and a scrubber brush to remove any wax on the skin. Then I placed a green apple sour straw flavored candy on the wooden stick to act as the pumpkin's stem. After that I dipped each apple in melted caramels and then dipped them in a layer of orange candy coating. I cut fondant pieces for the face of the pumpkins and even thought they didn't come out as perfectly as the idea I had in my mind, I was still happy with the end result. I hope his teachers were too!
 Trick or Treat!

 Packaged up and ready to go!
 My Knight in Shining Armor ready for school.......and my princess still in pj's
 Enjoying the one extra apple I made!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

BBB Cook Off

The day of the contest started bright and early as all the contestants met for group pictures before the grilling began. We got to hang out on the fabulous rooftop while we waited for our turns to enter the kitchens. At about 9:30am I heard the first cork being popped and glasses of wine were being poured.
Believe me, having a winery put on an event like this is so much fun and I was loving every minute of it!
When it got closer to my time I waited right outside the sliding glass doors that led to the kitchens. this is definitely where the butterflies in my stomach started picking up!
Here was my outdoor grilling station. It was funny to look over at the office building across from us at all the people going through their normal workdays.
My time started and after a brief run through of how the appliances worked form the fabulous Chef Starr I started making the burger I had cooked 1 million times before

I don't know about you, but for me, I don't handle chaos well. It took me a little while to get comfortable and get in my groove. Even thought that prize money was in the back of my mind and the people and reporters were all around me I tried to block that out of my mind and just concentrate.
This usually doesn't happen when I'm making dinner on a Tuesday night
And these guys usually don't pop up when I'm at home making a sandwich
My kids don't ask me what my inspiration was for making my burger while packing school lunches for the week.
But I wish it did!
It was so much fun I think my face hurt the rest of the day form smiling so much
After all my prep inside I headed outside to grill
Getting ready to go inside and serve the judges my hands started shaking a little
And once I was in front of them my hands started shaking a lot
Luckily they were all so nice and I was honored to listen to the compliments they had for what I made for them.
I was so relieved that I finished without falling, dropping anything or causing a fire on my grill!
After presenting to the judges we each took a picture with our burger and wine pairing

Early in the morning I was too overcome with nerves to eat. Louis had left our hotel room and got me breakfast and coffee at Starbucks and I couldn't even touch it. Once I was done cooking and presenting I got to taste the other contestant's burgers.
Louis has an amazing ability to get pictures of me when I look my worst!
In the end I got the "First Runner Up" prize. It wasn't the grand prize but I had such an amazing time that I was ok with that. And I already have 9 ideas for burger recipes to turn in next year!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Prep Day for BBB

Upon arriving to Chicago for the cook off we were spoiled immediately. Staying at the gorgeous Hotel Palomar was such a treat and the  bottle of wine and beautiful set of salt and pepper grinders made such a lovely welcome gift!
I was so excited to see where we would be cooking the day of the event, and the World of Whirlpool Building didn't disappoint. Below is a picture of the kitchen I got to prep in and I was really sad I didn't get to take it home with me. Although I'm not sure how long it would stay all white with my kids! I got to review all the ingredients that were bought for me and set up all of the tools I had taken with me. I'm sure airport security thought I was a little strange to have chili powder, knives, a food scale and a cookie sheet in my luggage.
The night before the cook off we were treated to a beautiful dinner at Fulton's on the River
put on by the Trinchero Family Vineyards  with a wide selection of their wines to try. The restaurant is located directly downstairs from the rooftop that we would be grilling on the next day.
The building itself is stunning and it was so nice to sit by the water as the sun set.
Nothing like seeing your name on the TV screens to make you feel special!
The set up in front of my cook-station where people were able to sample my burger and vote for their "fan favorite"

Pickle Baked Chicken Tenders with Creamy Chili Honey Sauce

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