Monday, December 28, 2015


  Are you hosting a New Year's Eve party? Here's a easy drink idea that will surely get the party going. I saw Allie and Georgia making it on the cooking channel, and immediately thought "oooo that sounds good!" It's the perfect signature drink for your party because it's FUN! And that's exactly what you want your New Year's Eve party to be! You can even make your own marshmallow vodka if you're so inclined. How fun is that?  So, be safe, have a great party, and may you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year! Enjoy!

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water

3 ounces marshmallow-flavored vodka, such as Pinnacle or Smirnoff
1 1/2 ounces hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
Ice, for chilling
 2 marshmallows, for garnish
1 teaspoon peanut butter, for garnish

  For the peanut butter simple syrup: Combine the sugar, peanut butter and 1 cup water in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pour the vodka, hazelnut liqueur, and 1 ounce of the peanut butter simple syrup into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well until chilled and frothy. Pour into small up glasses and garnish with a marshmallow that's been injected/stuffed with the peanut butter. Then try not to eat peanut butter from the jar with your hands.

 To make your own marshmallow vodka, chop up a couple handfuls of marshmallows and place them in a large mason jar, then pour regular vodka over them. Place the lid on the jar and leave at room temperature overnight. Give the jar a good shake every so often, if you so choose. The vodka will dissolve the marshmallows. That's all there is to it!
Instead of injecting marshmallows with peanut butter, I just rimmed the glass with a little of the simple syrup and then again in crushed salted peanuts.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Spinach, Artichoke, and Tomato Bites

 Here's the perfect little appy to serve at your next holiday party. They look really impressive (all festive in red and green) but they're easy enough for a culinary beginner.
 I was having a few friends over for a little holiday get together, and I wanted to serve something quick and easy. So I googled a few things (literally while I was standing in the middle of the grocery store) and I happened upon this Pillsbury recipe. (Actually, they called it Spinach Artichoke and Feta Bites, but since I wasn't using feta, I decided to change the title just a little. I'm sure the folks at Pillsbury won't mind!). They were done in no time, and were a HUGE hit among my friends. I'm sure your friends will love 'em too! Better make a double batch!

1 box (10oz) frozen creamed spinach, thawed
1 can (8oz) crescent dough sheet
1 jar (6oz) marinated artichokes, drained, chopped, patted dry
2 tbs drained chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
grated Parmesan cheese

 Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray. Unroll dough on work surface. Press into 12x8-inch rectangle. Using pizza cutter, cut dough into 6 rows by 4 rows, to make 24 squares of dough. Gently press squares into mini muffin cups and three-fourths of the way up sides. Add 3/4 teaspoon artichokes, 1 heaping teaspoon spinach, a couple of pieces of tomato and a sprinkle of grated cheese to each cup. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until dough is deep golden brown. Let stand 1 minute in muffin cups. Remove from muffin cups with fork. Serve warm.

If you'd like to use feta cheese as the original recipe does, just divide about 1/4 cup of crumbled feta evenly between all the cups and then proceed as directed. I used Parmesan cheese just because I like it better and I happened to have it on hand. Use whichever kind you like! 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Classic Peanut Blossoms

 This is one of those cookies that has been a favorite for years. Just like chocolate chips and snickerdoodles, these fall right into the "Classic Christmas Cookies" category. But somehow the recipe never made it to my blog. How is that even possible??? I swear I thought I had posted it at some point, but I was recently looking for them on my blog and they were nowhere to be found.
 So lets fix that! Here they are! Delicious and chewy peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's kiss placed right in the center. You just can't go wrong with the PB and chocolate combo, and they're easy enough that you can knock out a batch or two in no time. Goes perfectly with a tall glass of ice-cold milk. You could also pair them with a cozy mug of hot chocolate. Yum!

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
48 milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped
Heat oven to 375°F.
Combine 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in bowl. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking soda; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. If dough is too soft, refrigerate 30-60 minutes
Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar.* 
 Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Remove to cooling racks.

I like my cookies to be on the chewier side, so I always slightly underbake them. This recipe directs to bake them for 8-10 minutes, so I take them out of the oven at 8 minutes.
 *I used turbinado sugar to roll them instead of regular sugar. It gives a little crunch and it makes them sparkly! And sparkly is always good!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sweet and Saltines

 Here's an easy sweet treat for those of you who have an insatiable sweet tooth. It only takes a few minutes to make and the payoff is positively amazing! Plus, it has that sweet and salty thing that I absolutely love. They're delicious enough to make for a holiday treat, but simple enough to make anytime. I know there are probably several versions, but this recipe is from Trisha Yearwood. I think she and I would get along quite well in the kitchen! LOL
  You should definitely try this one! Enjoy!

Cooking spray
35 to 40 saltine crackers
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 cups)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Line 1 large or 2 small jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. 
Put the jelly-roll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully. Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife. 
Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Instead of using foil and cooking spray, I just lined my sheet pan with parchment paper. It worked perfectly!
Full disclosure, I didn't even measure my chocolate chips. I just sprinkled them evenly across the whole sheet. I also placed the pan back int he oven for about 30 seconds just to help the chips melt a little more evenly.
I think the next time I make this I'll use milk chocolate chips (since that's my favorite). Perhaps I'll use a combination of milk chocolate and semisweet chips.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Joey's Easy Eggnog Ice Cream

 It seems to me that people either LOVE eggnog, or they absolutely despise it. There never seems to be any in-between, am I right? It's true!! I happen to fall squarely into the first category. Frankly, I've never met an eggnog I didn't like. So, of course, I like finding recipes that use it as a prominent ingredient. I've made eggnog cookies, eggnog spritz cookies, eggnog fudge, eggnog bread, and even an eggnog and cherry trifle. I LOVE it all!! So then I thought, oh! why not make ice cream? When you make ice cream, you start with a base, often with eggs and cream, then you add a few flavorings and then freeze it. Well, with eggnog, you already have the base, so it's perfect! And then all you need to do is add a few things to bump up the flavor. EASY! Yes, I thought of starting by making homemade eggnog, but then that would defeat the purpose of using the eggnog as a ready made ice cream base. Know what I mean? So I just threw a few things together, tasted it, adjusted it, tasted it again, and here's where I landed! I asked a few of my friends to taste it for me and they all gave a BIG thumbs ups! I must say, I'm pretty pleased with it as well.
 So if you're as much of a fan of eggnog as I am, you should ABSOLUTELY make this! And if you don't own an ice cream maker, perhaps you can add one to your Christmas wishlist! Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups eggnog
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp rum flavoring
1 tsp grated nutmeg

Simply stir all ingredients together and then chill in your ice cream maker according to package directions. Then transfer it to another container and place in the freezer until firm. That's all there is to it! Serve with gingersnaps or your favorite sugar cookies. 

If you want to cut back a bit on the sugar, you can pull it back to 1/2 cup, but I wouldn't cut it back any further than that. Otherwise your finished product will be bland.

Snickerdoodle Bread

 I love finding new versions of familiar things. We've all heard of Red Velvet Cake, Apple Pie, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, right? But have you ever heard of Red Velvet Pancakes, Apple Pie Bread, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Cupcakes? Each one has the same flavor profiles as the original, but they've been kind of repurposed to come up with something new! That's exactly the idea behind this Snickerdoodle Bread. Fun, huh? It has the same wonderful cinnamon flavor as cookies, and it even has its signature cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. AMAZING! Makes  the whole house smell heavenly and it's perfect for gift giving too!
If you like Snickerdoodles, I know you love it!

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
10oz bag Hershey's cinnamon chips
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

 Pre-heat over to 350F and spray two 8x4-inch loaf pans with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pans; set aside. Recipe could be made as mini loaves or muffins; baking times will vary.  With an electric mixer, mix together the butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla, and beat on high power until creamed, light, and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add to bowl, beating on low speed until just incorporated. Set aside.
 To a small bowl, add the cinnamon chips, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour, and toss to coat chips in flour (to prevent them from sinking while baking). Add contents of small bowl (chips and any excess flour) to mixing bowl and stir until just incorporated. Turn batter out into prepared pans, divided evenly. Batter is thick. Smooth the tops of pans lightly with a spatula; set aside
 To a small bowl, add sugar, cinnamon, and stir to combine. Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over the loaf pans. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Allow bread to cook in pan before inverting to a rack to remove from pan.

 When you invert the pan to a rack, do it over a towel or sink, otherwise all the extra cinnamon and sugar will go everywhere.
Tastes great while it's still slightly warm. Also makes great French Toast or Bread Pudding!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Cookies

 Every year, when work gets really really busy, my boss and I like to bake Christmas cookies for our customers, just to show our appreciation. Usually, I just bake a tray of Mom's Butter Cookies, but this year I decided to add these delicious lemon cookies to the mix.
 You don't often hear of thyme being used in a cookie, but I remembered seeing Martha Stewart making them, and I figured, why not? Actually, instead of using Martha's recipe, I decided to try this recipe that I found on a baking blog called Treats. It's just a simple shortbread recipe with the addition of lemon and thyme. Now, I know there might be one or two of you who are crinkling your nose at the thought of putting fresh herbs into a cookie, but seriously, you won't even believe how tasty it is! The flavors of lemon and thyme are quite simply a match made in heaven! The lemon is subtle without being overpowering, and the thyme rounds everything out. It's the kind of cookie you could imagine having with a nice cup of tea. In fact, several of my customers said exactly that!
 So whether they're for Christmas or an afternoon tea, You simply must give them a try. I know you'll love them! And since I get so many requests for "anything lemon", we can now add yet another new and different lemon thing to our repertoire! Great then!

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 medium lemon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon extract, vanilla extract, lemon zest, chopped thyme and salt. With the mixer on low, gradually add flour, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Continue mixing until well combined.
Divide dough in half. Place one piece of dough on a large piece of plastic wrap; cover with a second piece of plastic wrap and roll out dough between plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness. Place on a baking sheet and transfer to refrigerator and chill until firm, about 45 minutes. Repeat process with remaining dough.
Using a 2-inch round fluted cutter (or other shaped cutter), cut out dough, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Transfer to prepared baking sheets.  Bake until firm, 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Instead of using plastic wrap, I rolled mine between two pieces of parchment paper. Use whichever you happen to have on hand.
You can place them RIGHT next to each other on the baking tray because they don't spread out at all. So go right ahead and get as many on the tray as you can fit. It'll save you baking time.
When I rolled mine, I rolled them VERY thin, so that they came out like little wafers. SO good! Tbh, I had no intention of doing that, but then it happened and I went with it. They were so crisp and delicious, I think I might stick to that idea the next time I make them.
I sprinkled them with a little turbinado sugar before baking. I like the little sparkle and crunch that it brings to the party. 
I also kept thinking (since I had rolled them so thin), I bet they'd be great to make into a sandwich cookie. I wonder what kind of filling I could do... hmm.. maybe something lemony and buttery? I'll have to think on it a little more!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Cherries

 I'm always trying to find Christmas cookies that are just slightly different, but still easy to bake. And of course, they have to be delicious! Well, here's one that fits the bill! Just looking at them, you'd think you're about to have your usual butter or shortbread cookie, right?  Buttery, yes, but then you get hit with a nice burst of citrus. It's REALLY a nice blend of flavors! And you can already see how lovely they look on a plate. Add them to your mixed tray of cookies to add a festive touch! They're perfect with a cup of tea or an ice cold glass of milk. I betcha Santa would love them too! Leave him a plate of them on Christmas Eve, and you just might get a few extra presents!
I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin!

2 sticks salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks, stirred
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted twice
Green and red candied cherries, for topping

 In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice and orange zest and mix until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl, then mix again. Add the sifted flour and mix until combined. Transfer the dough to a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Cut about 18 candied cherries in half. Roll the dough into small balls and set on the prepared baking sheets. Gently press 1 cherry half cut-side down into each ball. Bake about 20 minutes, removing the cookies from the oven before they brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Be sure to really press the cherries into the dough so that they'll stay centered in the ball of dough. A few of mine sort of baked sideways and wound up looking a little wonky. LOL 
Btw, I forgot to mention that this recipe is Ree Drummond's. Just giving credit where it's due! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Brownie Cookies

Ok, let me start off by saying that I think this just might be your new favorite chocolate cookie. Now, you may ask "Is it really that good?" In a word, YES! It's seriously that good! I've tasted many different chocolate cookies and the brownie-ness of this one just puts it WAY ahead of the others. It's everything you want in a chocolate cookie. It has DEEP chocolate flavor and it's rich and fudgy and chewy, just like a brownie. SO GOOD! And the dusting of powdered sugar makes it look perfectly festive on a tray of holiday cookies. They're easy to make too! So, thanx go to Ree Drummond for the recipe. I'll definitely be making these again and again. You should too!

4 ounces baking chocolate (unsweetened or bittersweet)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks salted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
 Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt it in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, until melted. Stir and let cool. Using an electric mixer, mix together the sugar and butter in a large bowl until totally combined. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the cooled chocolate. Scrape the bowl and mix again. Mix in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Scrape the bowl once more and mix. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir it together. Add it in scoops to the mixing bowl with the mixer on low. Scrape the bowl once and mix one final time until all combined. Scoop generous tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, then bake until the cookies are poufy and set, 11 to 12 minutes. Let them sit on the baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Once cool, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

To make your cookies all the same size, use a tablespoon to measure your chilled dough, then roll it into balls before placing on your baking sheets and baking as directed. You'll end up with perfectly round cookies that are all the same size!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Trisha's Cheese Boat

 Doing some holiday entertaining? Or just a movie night with friends? Here's the perfect thing to serve! It's REALLY simple to make and it's a total do-ahead. You just mix together all of the ingredients ahead of time, and then about a half hour before your guests arrive, scoop the mixture into a hollowed loaf of bread and bake. BOOM! Instant party! A, it smells amazing while it's baking. B, it looks impressive. And C, your guests will devour it! Works for me! When I saw Trisha Yearwood making it on her show, she was making it for friends for a poker night. My first thought was ooo Holiday Party! It would also be perfect for a Super Bowl party! (I hear people have them sometimes.)
 So whatever the occasion, give this one a try! I PROMISE it'll be a hit!

1 loaf French or Italian bread
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
10 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 ounces corned beef, such as Carl Buddig, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Large corn chips, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut an oval in the top of the loaf of bread, scooping out the bread in the center and make a "bread boat." Place the bread on a cooking sheet. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, Cheddar, beef, green onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot sauce, and chili powder until fully combined. Spoon the mixture into the hollow center of the bread loaf. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling, and serve warm with corn chips.

If you would rather do a bread bowl instead of a bread boat, just use a round loaf of any kind of bread. Sourdough, pumpernickel, all good!
 Don't have a loaf of bread? Just bake the filling in a casserole dish!
Not a fan of corned beef? Use any kind of meat you like! Sliced deli ham, crisped bacon, or for a spicier twist, how about chopped sliced pepperoni? You really can't go wrong!
Instead of corn chips, I used broken soft pretzels as dippers. Use anything you like!
To make it look even more rich and delicious, I melted some shredded Swiss cheese over the top, just to make it even more ooey gooey. Full disclosure, I had originally intended to reserve some of the Cheddar cheese to melt on top, but I inadvertently mixed it all in with the filling. I just happened to have some Swiss, so I figured why not? Turned out great!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

 You know how they say Oreos are milk's favorite cookie? Well, I think they might now have a little bit of competition. This is Martha Stewart's recipe and they're absolutely AMAZING! They seriously scream for a tall glass of ice cold milk. So rich, so peanutty, and they have that salty hit that is just perfect to cut the sweet. The cookies themselves are soft, kind of like a shortbread cookie, but they have this little crunch thing goin' on with the oats and the coarse sugar on the top. OMG it's insanely good. The combination of all of those things results in one of the best tasting peanut butter cookies you'll ever find! Not even kidding. I had to stop myself from eating them. Actually, come to think of it, the sparkle and crunch from the sugar was one of my favorite things. Be sure to include it!
 So if it's a holiday cookie swap, or an after school snack, or even just a treat before going to bed, I know you'll absolutely love 'em! If you have any peanut butter lovers in your life, this is definitely the one for them. Try 'em!

For the cookies:
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5 to 10 minutes. Spread oat mixture onto prepared baking sheet and let cool. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together remaining 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add peanut butter and mix until well combined. Add oat mixture and flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined. Turn dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Cover dough with a second piece of parchment paper and roll out dough, between parchment, to 1/4 inch thick. Carefully slide rolled dough onto baking sheet and transfer to refrigerator until chilled, about 20 minutes. Remove top layer of parchment paper; cut out cookies using a 2-inch round cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets; sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until golden, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets. When cookies have cooled completely, snip end of a pastry bag and squeeze peanut butter filling in a spiral motion on bottom side of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies to form sandwiches.

For the peanut butter filling:
3/4 cup peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

 Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Fill cookies as directed.

 I found it easier to handle the cookies after they were COMPLETELY cool. Even better when chilled. They seemed very fragile when I was assembling the sandwiches and many of them broke. I'm not sure if I did something wrong, but that's what happened. At first I wasn't going to post the recipe, but my friends tasted them and said OMG Are you KIDDING? So that settled that. They taste SO GOOD, that a little careful handling seemed well worth it. And once they were filled, I let them chill in the fridge for a while, and the filling helped to keep everything together just fine. Definitely worth making, but just handle with care!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Holiday Roll Ups

 Here's a simple and festive party appetizer for you. They're called Holiday Roll Ups and I saw them on Ree Drummond's show, Pioneer Woman. They're so easy, you don't even need to cook! You just mix up the filling ingredients, schmear 'em on some flour tortillas, and roll 'em up! Simple, right? The red and green bell peppers make them so festive and they're absolutely delicious. They're also a great time saver because you roll them ahead of time and then let them chill in the fridge to set up for a while. Before your guests arrive, slice them into rounds, and serve. Perfect party food!
 Oh, and here's a little party hint: Instead of placing all of your hors d'oevres on one big table, place them on smaller snack tables in several locations. Your guests will spread out and mingle a little more, instead of all hovering over the kitchen table. Clever, huh? Plan ahead, do things in advance, and your party will be a hit!
 In my opinion, the best holiday parties are simple and casual. Surround yourself with family and friends. Decorate with a few personal touches. Have some holiday music playing in the background. And, of course, serve some delicious picky-uppy foods that are easy to taste with just one hand (since you'll be holding a drink in the other). These roll ups fit right into that category. SO Good!!  Definitely give 'em a try!

2 packages cream cheese, softened
1 package ranch dressing mix
Freshly ground black pepper
5 flour tortillas
1/2 cup finely diced green bell peppers
1/2 cup finely diced red bell peppers
2 green onions, sliced
Mix the cream cheese, ranch dressing mix and the black pepper together thoroughly. Spread the mixture on the tortillas, and then sprinkle over the diced bell peppers and green onions. Roll up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until party time (for at least 1 hour). Slice into small wheels and serve.

To cut carbs, I used low carb tortillas, but feel free to use any you like. Regular flour tortillas, or even red or green ones, for an added festive touch. All good!
To make it even easier, I added all the filling ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer, (including the chopped peppers and green onions), mixed everything together and then proceeded as directed. Easy!
For larger roll ups, use burrito size tortillas. For smaller bite sized roll ups, use taco size tortillas. Great then!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Orange Marmalade Cookies

 A few weeks ago, I was in the mood to do some canning, so I decided to make a few jars of my Sweet Orange Marmalade. Out of all the jams and jellies I've made, this is definitely in my top 5 because it's has such a HUGE punch of fresh orange flavor without the bitterness that you might find in other marmalades. Anyway, I shared it with a few friends (just because that's how I roll), and I quickly got a text from my friend Alana that said "Sweet Orange Marmalade, for the win!" LOL I'm telling you, it's REALLY that good!
 Cut to the night before Thanksgiving when I was making my Candied Sweet Potatoes, and I figured OK! Time to make another batch of marmalade! I'll use some in the sweet potatoes and I'll drop some off to Alana. Perfect! (My niece, Terri was also an immediate fan, so I saved some for her too!)
 But then I still had a few jars left, so I decided to see what else I could make with it. 'Tis the season for baking cookies, so I figured, why not? It didn't take me very long to find this recipe on and I loved them from the very first bite. They're a nice refreshing change from your usual vanilla cookie, and they're just as buttery and crispy and chewy as you want them to be.
 So there you have it. They're perfect for holiday entertaining, gift giving, and you should DEFINITELY bring them to your next cookie swap. Better make a few extra batches!

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
6 tablespoons orange marmalade (any brand, or home made)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

 Preheat oven to 375°F
Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and orange marmalade and mix until thoroughly combined. Add additional marmalade if the batter is too stiff.
In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. With the mixer running, slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture until blended.
Drop by spoonfuls on the cookie sheet; do not crowd the cookies as the batter will spread during baking. Bake until the cookies spread out and are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Whenever I bake cookies, I ALWAYS chill the dough for at least 30 minutes, and I always use parchment. It's just makes everything so much easier. Just sayin!
I wanted to add a little more orange flavor so I added a few tiny drops of pure orange extract. You can also add a bit of grated orange zest.
To make perfectly round cookies, roll your measured tablespoonfuls of chilled dough into balls and then place them onto your baking sheet and bake as directed.
This recipe makes a very small batch. I imagine you can probably double it!
I suppose you could try this recipe with other flavors of jam or marmalade. Hmm.. I bet lemon would be delicious!! I'll let you know if I ever give it a try!