December 13, 2010

Peppermint Brownies

I love brownies.. but these peppermint brownies are the bomb!

needed to make them

1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box (for cakelike brownies)

Peppermint Cream
1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1/2 package (8-ounce size) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Dark Chocolate Ganache
1/4 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Trees
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Make the Yummy Brownies

1.Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line13x9-inch pan with foil, letting foil hang 2 inches over ends of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray. Make brownie mix as directed on box for cakelike brownies. Spread batter in pan. Bake 26 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

2.Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat 1/2 cup whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form; set aside. In medium bowl, beat remaining Peppermint Cream ingredients on low speed until blended; beat on medium speed until smooth. Gently stir whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.

3.In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/4 cup whipping cream over low heat until hot but not boiling; remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips until melted. Let stand at room temperature about 1 hour or until slightly thickened.

4.Remove brownies from pan, using foil to lift. Cut brownies crosswise to make 3 equal rectangles. Trim sides if desired.

5.To assemble torte, place 1 brownie rectangle on serving platter; spread with 2/3 cup Peppermint Cream. Top with second brownie rectangle; spread with Dark Chocolate Ganache. Top with third brownie rectangle; spread with remaining cream. Refrigerate uncovered until serving.

6.Meanwhile, place a piece of cooking parchment or waxed paper on cookie sheet. Draw 1 1/2- to 2-inch tree outlines or trace around 2-inch tree-shaped cookie cutter, leaving 1/2 inch space between each tree. Center toothpick at bottom of and 1/2 inch into each tree outline. In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1 cup chocolate chips and the shortening over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted. Pour chocolate into decorating bag fitted with plain tip or resealable plastic bag; snip one corner. Starting at top of each tree outline, pipe chocolate over tree and end of toothpick within tree; fill center with random, squiggly lines. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens. Gently remove trees from paper; refrigerate until serving.

7.Just before serving, sprinkle torte with candies and arrange Chocolate Trees on top. Store covered in refrigerator.

December 11, 2010

"Pretzel stand" type pretzels

I love hot soft pretzels. yum! but they cost so much at those stands in the mall. I found a way to make them at home and not only do they taste just as good but you can make them for half the cost!


Pretzel Dough:
1 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

For boiling/baking process:
10 cups water
2/3 cups baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. water
Kosher salt

To spread on baked pretzels:
3 Tbsp. melted butter
Cinnamon Sugar for sprinkling pretzels

Make them!

In the bread machine pan (No bread machine? See below for traditional directions),

place the pretzel dough ingredients in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the dough cycle and press start.
After 5 minutes, check to see that the dough has formed a nice ball, not sticky or dry.
Add 1 to 2 Tbsp. of water or flour if needed.

** Traditional method (no bread machine):

In a bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar. Let
it sit until it is foamy. When it is foamy, add the flour
to the bowl. Form a dough and knead it on a lightly
floured surface until it is elastic and smooth (5-8
minutes). Place in a greased bowl and cover for 45-60
mins or until doubled. Then continue with the rest of the

When the cycle is finished, place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into eight equal portions. Roll each piece into a 24-inch “U” shape and then form into pretzel shapes.

In a large pot, bring 10 cups of water and 2/3 cups baking soda to a rolling boil.
Drop pretzels, one at a time, into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon and place on prepared baking sheets. (I use and LOVE my Silpat Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat on my baking sheets, but you can also use parchment paper.)

Next, beat one egg yolk with one tablespoon of water. Brush this mixture on each pretzel and then sprinkle each with a little Kosher salt.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until dark golden brown.
Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.

Alternatives to try:
Leave them plain with just a little bit of melted butter
Sprinkle with garlic salt
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning
Try with a marina, nacho cheese, or ranch dip

Snickers Cookies

I love making cookies! I love making any tasty treat! Okay, I admit it. I have the worst possible sweet-tooth in the world! So when I tell you a cookie is good. You gosh darn right better believe me. And these cookies are GOOD!


1 Cup. butter
1 Cup. peanut butter
1 Cup. sugar
1 Cup. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
3 Cup. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 bags of fun sized snickers, cut in half (or you can use mini snickers)

Make them, then eat them!

Cream butter, peanut butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Add flour and form into small balls (cookie scoop works great). Wrap the dough around the Snickers bar, completely covering it and making it somewhat round. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350. DO NOT OVER BAKE.

December 10, 2010

Christmas Morning Strata

My darling hubby makes this every year- we started making a double batch last year! We serve with fruit on the side- not too filling, but just enough to go back an hour later for a bit more . We also use this for birthday parties, baby/wedding showers, or just an easy weekend meal- ENJOY!!!


4 cups sliced & buttered French bread, cubed
1 bag frozen spinach (16 oz)- thawed - squeeze out water
6 to 8 ounces diced, cooked bacon, ham, or turkey ham
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup (HE DOES NOT LIKE MUSHROOMS, SO HE HAS REPLACED WITH CREAM OF POTATO SOUP or Cream of Chicken)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5 eggs
1 tablespoon minced onion, optional ( FRENCH'S ONIONS taste yummy too)

Make it! :)

Lightly butter a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Layer with half of the buttered bread cubes, spinach, bacon, and cheese; salt and pepper to taste. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Whisk together the soup, milk, eggs, and dried onion. Pour over slow cooker mixture. Chill for 1 hour or overnight (OVERNIGHT IS BETTER!). Cover and cook on low for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours.

Layered Enchilada Bake

Love Mexican as much as our family does? then you HAVE to try this! my husband loved it so much he ate thirds and left us no left overs!


1 lb. lean ground beef(or shredded chicken or ground turkey whatever!)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chunky salsa
1 can ) black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
2 Tbsp. chili powder
6 medium flour tortillas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup Tex Mex Shredded Cheese

Make It

HEAT oven to 400ºF. Grease your baking dish well, with butter or cooking spray.
BROWN meat with onions in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Stir in next 4 ingredients.
PLACE 3 tortillas in single layer on bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Cover with layers of half each of the meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers; NO tortillas go on top layer! Cover.
BAKE 40 min. or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted, uncovering after 30 min. Let stand 5 min. Top with your favorite fixings, such as tomatoes, lettece, more salsa, taco sauce.. so forth

Chocolate Peanutbutter Cereal Bars

These bars are so easy that the kids could make them (with a tad of help of course) and so tasty you will be wanting to make them everyday!

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 cups cereal ( Cocoa Krispies, Cheerios, Chex, basically what ever you got in the house!)

Make them!

Melt chips and pb together. (In the microwave for 30 seconds at a time i.e. 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir. Repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Or, put it in a double boiler and stir until smooth and melted.)

Stir in 4 cups of cereal. Pour the glob into a 9 inch baking dish lined in wax paper. Put it in the fridge until it sets. Slice and eat.

December 1, 2010

Cracker Bark

Totally fattening, but good for a treat on rare occasion! This is the perfect mixture of a salty/sweet snack that we love!


1 sleeve of saltine crackers
2 sticks of salted butter
1 cup of packed brown sugar
12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 oz bag of Reeces Peanut Butter Chips


Line a jelly roll with foil, placing a layer of saltines on it too. In the microwave, melt butter and brown sugar for 1 minutes. Stir until creamy/smooth. Pour onto cracker crust. Bake in oven for 15 mnutes on 350 degrees. When pulled from oven, immediately pour both bags of chips on top, evenly. Wait 5 minutes then spread to coat evenly. Let cool 30 minutes on stove-top, then place in freezer for 30 minutes. Break into 30 portions, about 2x3 long. Enjoy with a glass of milk or cup of coffee

Mango Salsa

This is my favorite summer time treat! Tastes great over icecream or served warm over chicken or fish!


1 Cup strawberries, hulled and finely diced
1 Cup orange or baby oranges, diced
1 ripe mango, peeled and finely diced (if you can not find mango, you can use peach instead)
1 Kiwi, peeled and finely diced
1 lime

to make
Zest 1 tsp of lime. Sqeeze 1 TB of lime juice. Combine lime zest, juice, strawberries, oranges, mangos, and kiwi; stir gently.

Apple Berry Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

A nice easy tasty treat! that is not only great tasting, but also pretty easy on the waist line!

Cinnamon Chips
4 flour tortillas
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 medium Granny smith apples
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
1 small orange
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. apple jelly

To make:
Preheat oven 400. For chips, lightly spray tortillas with water using kitchen spritzer. Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over tortillas, cut into 8 wedges and bake 8 to 10 min. Cool completely.

For salsa, peel, core and slice apples and chop into pieces. Slice strawberries and chop kiwi. Place fruit in a bowl. Zest orange and juice orange and add to fruit. Add brown sugar and jelly. mix gently. Serve with cinnamon chips.

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