Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oreo Bark

While I made peppermint bark last year, I figured the Peppermint Pretzel Rods were enough and went with something I really wish I could try! Oreos may or may not be.. okay they are my one weakness. Though I haven't eaten a single one in months, that doesn't go to say I didn't smell them before I had my kid sister smash them up for these delicious treats! My husband's brother at one point asked 'Who made these 'cause they're friggin' good!'. That then turned into his other brother and dad trying it. I'd say that it went over pretty well. I had left over melted bark and chocolate chips so I went ahead and drizzled the top of the bark for a more appealing look and I'm glad that I did!

2/3 pkg. Oreos
2 pkg. milk chocolate, chocolate chips
2 pkg. white chocolate chips

Lay wax paper inside of a large baking pan or cookie sheet. While the chocolate chips are melting in the microwave, place 2/3 of the package of Oreos into a ziploc bag and crush. I let my little sister use a rolling pin and have some fun. Remember that you want some bigger pieces in there too, don't let the kids crush them all into crumbs! Take the melted chocolate chips and spread evenly onto the wax paper. Sprinkle a handful of the crushed cookie pieces over the melted chocolate chips. Allow to set while you melt your white chips. Spread melted chips over the now set chocolate chip spread. I try to do it fast before the white chips re-melt the chocolate chips so that they don't mix together. You can set aside a small amount of the white chips for drizzling later if you'd like. Take remaining cookie pieces and spread evenly over melted white chips. I take a fork (or spoon) and gently press them down into the mixture so that they don't all fall off once it sets. Cover with foil and set in fridge for 30 minutes or until set completely through. Break into desired bark pieces. Drizzle with extra melted white chips for a more appealing look.

Toffee Peanut Clusters

I'm a huge toffee fan, or I was when I was able to eat it! When we originally bought the chocolate for the clusters I noticed the bags of Heath candies sold and then when I got to thinking of ways to spice up my somewhat simple and boring peanut clusters I figured why not mix some in and sprinkle the top for decoration?

1 pkg. chocolate chips (milk chocolate)
3/4 pkg. Heath candy pieces
1 pkg. Spanish peanuts

Lay out about two feet of wax paper. Melt chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave until smooth. Mix in package of peanuts and 1/2 the bag of toffee candies. Once combined well, drop desired amount to create your clusters on the wax paper. Before the clusters set, immediately sprinkle with remaining 1/4 package of toffee pieces. Allow to set and eat 'em up!

Caramel Drizzled Peanut Clusters

Every year we make the same peanut clusters. Easy, delicious, and to the point. I mean, can you possibly go wrong with peanuts and chocolate? I think not. Well, what's better than plain 'ol peanuts and chocolate? Peanuts, chocolate, and carmel. Yum! We had already finished our holiday baking grocery shopping but I called my mom and insisted on picking up a few more ingredients to spice these bad boys up. I'm sure glad I did, they looks so much prettier and my brother basically ate the entire batch of 'em Christmas morning.

1 pkg. chocolate chips (milk chocolate)
1 pkg. spanish peanuts
1/2 pkg. caramel candies (unwrapped)
1-2 tbsp. water

Lay out wax paper large enough for your batch. About two feet should do it. Melt chocolate chips in bowl in microwave. Once smooth, mix in entire package of peanuts. Drop onto wax paper with a spoon in desired cluster size. I use a heaping spoonful. While clusters are setting, place unwrapped caramels into bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of water and microwave until melted. Take spoon and drizzle desired amount of caramel over the clusters. I used a good amount, and they must have been good because they sure did get eaten!

Peppermint Pretzel Rods

I hope all my little bloggers had the most delicious Christmas and Holiday season ever. I don't know about you, but our events are not quite over yet. We've got another Christmas gathering for my dad's side tomorrow night, the traditional meal? Prime rib. Mmm. We also do that on my mom's side, I have the honor of seasoning up and cooking that oh so expensive and mouth watering slab of meat. I must say, it was amazing this year. We only ended up doing a few of our holiday treats this year. With most of us in the house not eating sugary snacks I decided to just make a few plates of goodies and leave it at that. I first made these for my mom's Christmas Tea she used to throw for her interpreter friends. They sure are pretty but I'm not sure how many adults taste pallets enjoy the salty pretzel with the minty crunchy candies in the same bite. I know that my kid sister and the kids at my husband's Christmas event liked them. I supposed as long as someone eats them, they're successful, right? If not, they are a great little display candy!

1 pkg. pretzel rods
1 pkg. white almond bark
1 pkg. white chocolate chips
30 crushed up peppermint candies

Lay out a long sheet of wax paper on your counter or table. Melt chips and bark together in a bowl in microwave for a few minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Dip pretzel rod into melted mixture leaving about 1/2 an inch un-dipped. Immediately sprinkle all sides of pretzel with crushed candies. Lay on wax paper to set. Whaaa-la!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No-Roll Sugar Cookies

This batch got the thumbs up from my husband. I've made a few batches of these since we've lived in Georgia but I was sort of in a baking mood yesterday so I whipped up the dough, and then let it sit in the fridge over night. So inevitably, I had to again be in a baking mood today so I could actually bake them. I'm totally guilty of typically grabbing a cookie right out of the oven and shoving it in my mouth for the first taste test, but not anymore. So I had to patiently wait for my husband to return home for lunch from work and try them. They looked pretty perfect, not to toot my own horn or anything, I mean, when have I ever done that? I'm not the biggest fan of cut out sugar cookies. I've found that most of the time they taste like cardboard unless you've got a huge heaping hill of frosting loaded onto them, and I my friends, am just not that big of a fan of frosting. So, I googled my heart out, took a chance with this recipe, and am sure glad I did. They're so much easier and less messy than sugar cookie cut outs, not that I haven't made some delicious cut outs, and boy, can they be cute, but I haven't mustered up that much time for baking one thing in years, literally. My mom and I did the cut out and frosted cookies when I was in middle school. I had a really great recipe from my Home Economics class. I think the majority of the class ate more of the cookie dough than the actual cookies, but I really do wish I still had that recipe.

You can refer to this link for the recipe. A few tips from the chef herself would be to sprinkle the cookie with sugar after you have flattened it with your glass, and then again right when you pull them out of the oven. I only bake mine for 7 minutes, but my oven is a little funky. Regardless of this oven, I tend to always bake cookies for less time than required on recipes because they seem to cook just a bit more while on the cookie sheet, and no one likes a burnt cookie. Remove these cookies and place on a cookie sheet to cool almost immediately after removing them from the oven. I store them in an airtight container with a slice of bread or two to keep them fresh. They are tasty for days!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

Well, I have to trust my husband's cookie expertise since I wasn't able to try them myself. He seemed pleased enough. I'm sending some to work with him in a bit because with him being the only cookie monster in the house I don't want 1/2 a batch of freshly baked goodness to go to waste. Now, my husband came home earlier than expected. I had just finished my cookie photo shoot which was just in time for him to drink the milk and eat the spoonful of peanut butter. He first questioned me... thinking he caught me in some sneaking food ritual or something. Diet (not that I like that word...) or no diet, I don't like milk, and I surely don't like spoonfuls of peanut butter. Yuck. These were really easy but I have to admit, cookie dough that has to be placed in the fridge for 2-3 hours is sort of a pain unless you're on a baking spree and are able to knock out a few things in that time. I'll get on with how to make the cookies now... until next time bloggers, until next time.

1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. extra crunchy peanut butter
1/4 c. shortening
1/4 c. softened unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

**1/4 c. extra sugar for rolling

Mix first 7 ingredients together until well blended. Then add remaining four dry ingredients. Cover and place in the fridge for 3 hours. Using a cookie dropper, scoop and then roll into round ball with your hands. Roll around in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Make a criss cross design with a fork. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar if desired. Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack immediately.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chicken & Cabbage Soup

It's been tough for me trying to find things that fall into no carb categories for recipes. Now, I threw this together and even my husband agreed it was really good! Now, I'll admit, he did try a few spoonfuls, but his tummy is currently filled with a breaded and fried pork chop, baked potato topped with butter, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese... and creamed corn. Though I do smell like a fried pork chop, I'm glad there isn't one currently sitting in my stomach! Not that it didn't look delicious, but my jeans might disagree with me tomorrow! Now, this is only the second time I've cooked with cabbage since I've started my... new eating ways. I love cabbage and it's a nice change when you're getting sick of the same old veggies!

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
About 8 cups of water (sorry I eyeballed it!)
3 tbsp chicken bouillon
salt and pepper to taste (I go light on the salt because of the bouillon)
Pinch of parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 medium onion, sliced
1/3 head of cabbage, sliced

Place water in a large pot, heat over medium to allow chicken to cook through. Begin adding your seasonings once water has come to a boil. Remove chicken and slice into desired size. I personally don't like cubed chicken in soup, for whatever reason, so I sliced mine. Feel free to cube your chicken! Add onions and cabbage. Turn heat up to high and allow soup to boil rapidly, covered for 5 minutes. Turn heat down to warm-low, leave covered, and allow all the tastes to simmer together and the onions and cabbage to cook down for 30-40 minutes. Delicious!

For those of you who aren't watching what you eat... I would suggest incorporating potatoes, carrots, and bacon!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Green Olive Dip

Well, here it is. My husband's Grandma T has made this for years I'm told. His Grandpa B has told me (a few times) the story of when my husband and his brother were little. They were making their plates and his brother asks 'is this stuff any good?' with which his grandpa told him 'no' or 'it's terrible'... something along those lines. My husband turns around and goes 'that means it's good, take A LOT!'. Now, if you know all the key players in this story, it always makes me laugh just because I can picture it. Her version typically comes out a bit more smooth, but I didn't have a food processor and ended up having to use a hand chopper for my green olives. I found a lot of really similar recipes online but they all called for quite a bit of mayo, and that didn't seem right. I gave T a call and she led me in the right direction. I doubled the recipe since I was assuming there would be a ton of people, I saw one person touch it the whole time, and threw it out later that night. Well, lesson learned! Anyways, I myself am not a fan of green olives, but I did try it one time and I'll admit, if I liked green olives, I'd LOVE this dip! This is more of a cracker dip than a chip dip, but to each their own! Very rich in taste, but I love the idea of having something different. It just seems like you always see the same dips at parties and such. I like to mix it up... sometimes!

2 8-oz. pkg. Cream Cheese (room temp. for easier mixing)
4 tbsp. Mayo
1 medium sized jar Green Olives
1-2 tbsp juice from can

In a food processor combine all ingredients, chill, and serve with crackers or your choice of something else! If you don't have a food processor like me, use a hand chopper or chop a fine as you can with a hand knife and combine with remaining ingredients. Combine well with spatula and follow remaining directions above!

Deviled Eggs

Well, I know I've been nothing short of absent for... quite awhile now! I had a nice but very long 3 and 1/2 weeks back in Nebraska with family and friends while the husband went off to Fort Leonardwood & Fort Hood for some schooling! I've switched my eating over to very low carbs/high protein, started towards the end of October and here I am still going strong welcoming in December. Now, I'll admit, I've had a few nights where I watched my husband shove his face with pizza or cookies and have had to mentally remind myself 'I love my new jeans, I love my new jeans'! We were thinking about 15 people would attend our Thanksgiving feast, but for various reasons not everyone was able to show up. I cooked A LOT of food. I was satisfied with how everything turned out but it was A LOT of work and I was more than exhausted by the time everyone left the house. Now, I didn't capture pictures of all my amazing food, especially the turkeys, yes, plural. I wish I would have but I was running around like a mad woman trying to finish everything all at the right time and make sure everything was simply delicious. I prepped for twelve hours the day before thanksgiving, yes, twelve. I only managed to remember to capture two things. These eggs, and well, the green olive dip that I figured my husband would appreciate, but didn't touch. That's another story though! Now, these went over quite well, I think they stink, and well, don't like eggs period. But hey, they weren't for me and they did get eaten so that's all that counts!

18 large eggs
3/4 cup Mayo
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Paprika (to garnish)
1 tbsp. mustard

Place eggs in a single layer in large pot. Cover with water so that water is about 1 1/2 - 2 in. above water. Bring water to boil rapidly for 1 minute. Cover pan and remove from heat. Allow eggs to sit in covered pot for 15 minutes. Gently place eggs in strainer and run cool water over them. While continuing to run cold water, one by one, take the egg and tap it on the counter on the bottom of the egg. There is a small air pocket that allows for an easy starting point to peel. I allow the water to run over the egg while peeling. If the egg is stubborn tap it a few more times around the egg to break up the shell. After all the eggs are peeled, slice in half length wise and pop center of egg into a bowl. Combine mayo, salt & pepper, and mustard to yolk mixture and mix well, breaking up the yolks. Fill large ziploc bag with mixture. Cut the corner as to make your own 'pastry bag'. Fill the hole in each egg halve. Sprinkle paprika on top of each egg to garnish. Whaaaa-la!