Monday, December 20, 2010

Dog Chow

Most people are familiar with the holiday favorite Puppy Chow, Chex cereal coated in chocolate and peanut and sprinkled in powdered sugar. Well, this year I'm doing something a little different.....instead of Chex cereal I used Frosted Mini Wheats! So I thought a more substantial name was in order: Dog Chow!

I started off by melting and mixing together chocolate, peanut butter and butter.

Once melted and thoroughly combined, I added vanilla extract and poured it over my Frosted Mini Wheats and stirred until all the cereal was covered.

After the cereal was coated, I dumped it into a brown paper sack (my favorite method for this) and added the powdered sugar. I folded the top of the sack over and shook the sack to coat the cereal in the powdered sugar.

Once done, I divided it up into cute holiday sacks to give it away as gifts!

Hope these recipes over the past week helped to make your holiday treat making a little easier. I will be back January 10th with an all new dinner recipe. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dog Chow

7 cups Frosted Mini Wheats*
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

In microwave or on stove top, slowly melt together chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Mix together thoroughly. Once melted and combined, add vanilla extract. Pour over cereal and stir until cereal is coated. Place in sack or in large bowl with lid and add powdered sugar. Shake until completely coated.

*this recipe can also be used to make puppy chow. Replace the 7 cups frosted mini wheats with 9 cups chex cereal.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rosemary Spiced Nuts

I came up with the idea for these mixed nuts while watching a show on Food Network called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate..." They are super simple and warm nuts right out of the oven are so good on a cold day.

I started off with one pound of nuts. You can use any variety and  mix that you like. I like to use almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts. You want to get unsalted or lightly salted if possible. Since I was using four different varieties, I used about a cup of each to get a pound. It doesn't have to be exact.....but you want to fill a cookie sheet with a single layer of nuts. I placed them in a preheated 350 degree oven for ten minutes.

While the nuts were in the oven, I placed fresh rosemary, chili powder, brown sugar, butter and salt in a large bowl.

When the nuts were finished, I took them out of the oven and scooped them into the bowl with my spices and stirred them until the butter was completely melted.

Finished! And really good!

Rosemary Spiced Nuts

1 pound mixed nuts
1 sprig  fresh rosemary
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
up to 2 tsp salt

Place nuts on cookie sheet in single layer and in a preheated 350 degree oven for ten minutes. While nuts toast, place rosemary, chili powder, brown sugar, butter and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. When nuts are done, add into large bowl with spices and stir until butter is melted. Taste for salt and add more if desired.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lemon Cookies

I feel like I am cheating when I make these......they are that easy! And tasty!!

I started off with a bag of sugar cookie mix.

I followed the directions on the back of the bag for drop cookies and also added the zest of one lemon.

If you don't have a micro-plane, I really recommend one! They come in so handy for zesting citrus, grating cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger......My favorite being grating fresh parmesan cheese over spaghetti. Using a small cookie scoop, I scooped the dough onto a cookie sheet and followed the directions for oven temperature and bake time.

While my cookies baked, I juiced the lemon that I had zested.

I poured my lemon juice into a bowl and added powdered sugar. I added 1 1/4 cups to get an icing more on the runny side. It is dependent though on how juicy your lemon is and also if you just want a thicker icing. After 8 minutes of baking, my cookies were lightly browned on the bottom and I transferred them to a cooling rack.

I was able to get 33 cookies out of this batch. When they were all cool, I dipped them into the icing.

I placed them back onto the cooling rack so the extra icing could drip off and sprinkled them with white sparkling sugar.

Now, how easy were those!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

(Almost) Homemade Bread

Homemade bread is sooo good, but I just don't have the patience for it. So I started buying the ready made bread dough that you can find in a tube along with the crescents and biscuits at the grocery store. It satisfied that need for hot, fresh bread right out of the oven but I still wanted something more......Then one day I noticed a seam in the bread dough. I picked at the seam and realized that it could be unrolled! I marveled at the possibilities this opened! I could now make fresh baked HERB bread!!! So, start off with a tube of either French or Italian bread.

Find the seam and unroll the dough.

Very lightly brushed the dough with some olive oil and select your herbs. I happened to be making Beef Stroganoff for dinner so I wanted to mirror that flavor in the bread. I sprinkled this dough with thyme and then some grated parmesan cheese.

After you sprinkle on your desired flavorings, roll the dough back up and if you wish, cut a few slits into the top.

Still follow your package directions on oven temperature and time to bake your bread. I always start checking it though a few minutes before minimum baking time.

Look at that yummy swirl of goodness......

And how impressed will your dinner guests be when they sit down at the holiday dinner table to find freshly baked herb bread that compliments the flavors of your holiday meals!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gingerbread House

It snowed all day at my house today........

So, I thought this was the perfect time to try out the gingerbread house kit that I found while shopping.

I really enjoy making gingerbread houses, or at least I thought I did.......When the thought of making the gingerbread dough, baking it, getting it out of the molds in one piece, putting it together, and waiting patiently for it to dry so I could finally decorate it came to mind, I was dreading it. Then I realized I only really enjoy decorating them! When I happened upon this kit at the store, it was a no brainer! For ten dollars you get, the gingerbread house (already assembled!!!) icing, candy to decorate, instructions with ideas and the basic tools needed to decorate it. What a steal!!

Samantha was more than willing to sit with me while I decorated my little house and help me eat my mistakes.

She was also enjoying some animal crackers while I worked on the house, so I stole one of her animal crackers that might possibly pass for a deer.......

Everything I used to decorate my house came with the kit, except the "deer" and the white sanding sugar I used for the walkway up to the front door.

Happy Decorating!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

First Birthday

My daughter Samantha will have her First Birthday this Wednesday and we celebrated this past weekend. Instead of a recipe this week, I thought I would show off the birthday cake I made for her. It took me forever to come up with a design.......but once I did, I thought it would be perfect! It was important to me that everything used to decorate the cake be edible.

I made a vanilla bean frosting that I tinted light blue to frost the three tiers of french vanilla cake. I covered the frosting with white sanding sugar to look like snow and  pipped a white border around the bottom. Using a snowflake cookie cutter set, I cut snowflakes out of sugar cookie dough then frosted them and used the same sprinkles to decorate them.

The snowman is made out of rice krispie treats that I covered in fondant. His buttons, mouth, and eyes are rolled out of black fondant and his scarf made out of red fondant. His nose is an orange Tic-Tac.

Samantha seemed to like her cake!

And after the candle was out, she was ready to dig in!

From now until Christmas, instead of posting a dinner or dessert recipe once a week, I will be doing something a little different. I plan on doing a lot of holiday baking and treat making this year to make up gift bags  for some family and friends. I will be posting easy and simple treat recipes randomly throughout the weeks until Christmas. Many of these recipes are also fast to make since everyone is busy this time of year and perfect for give-a-ways and get-togethers. Some treats you can expect to see are Rosemary Spiced Nuts, Lemon Cookies, Puppy Chow and a few more! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Over a month ago, my friend Traci asked me if I ever made meatloaf and if I liked it. I had to tell her no. There just has always been something about the texture that I have never cared for and my Mom's recipe called for horseradish which I hate. Traci said that she had found a great recipe for meatloaf a while ago and that anybody she ever gives it to just loves it. Boy was she right! I have made this meatloaf several times since then. I am totally converted and am now a meatloaf lover! Just as long as its this meatloaf, of course. She had found the recipe from Taste of Home which is a wonderful website and magazine if you have never heard of it before. Here is a link to the original recipe which I highly recommend you trying also as it does have a 5 star rating. I changed the recipe some to fit my family's tastes and preferences a little better and my variation follows. Try them both or come up with your own variation and share it because I think you will see its hard to go wrong with this meatloaf.

I started by softening a chopped onion in butter and added salt and pepper.

While the onion softened, I mixed ground beef in a large bowl with egg, milk, oats and cheddar cheese.

After the onion softened and cooled for a few minutes, I added it to my bowl and mixed everything together with salt and pepper.

Then I split the mixture into quarters and formed four loaves on a cookie sheet.

I mixed the sauce of ketchup, brown sugar, bacon bits and BBQ sauce. This is one thing that I have done differently from the original recipe since I first made it. The original sauce calls for mustard instead of BBQ sauce. I have tried to like mustard and I just can't.....So whenever I see it used, I usually find something to replace it with. After the sauce was mixed, I poured it over my little loaves.

I then placed it into a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. When they were done, they were all bubbly and brown and smelled sooo good!

We have plenty of leftovers with this and it reheats very nicely. I served ours up with peas and wild rice.

If you come up with any variations, please share them below so we can all try too! Enjoy!


1 onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 lb ground beef
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
1/4 cup real bacon pieces (not imitation)
salt and pepper

Soften onion in butter over medium to medium-low heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cool. In a large bowl combine onion, egg, milk, oats, beef, cheese, 1/2 tsp salt and a sprinkle of pepper. Divide mixture into quarters and form 4 loaves on a cookie sheet. In a bowl combine ketchup, brown sugar, BBQ sauce and bacon bits. Mix well. Pour sauce evenly over the 4 loaves and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45  minutes or until beef is done.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Hope this is in time for Thanksgiving, but I think I have it figured out! In case you haven't seen, I have been working on a Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake and I'm really happy with this one.

I started with a refrigerated pie crust that I rolled out to fit in the deepest pie dish that I own.

I crimped an edge on the dough and placed it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to rest while I made the pumpkin pie part.

In a bowl, I combined pureed pumpkin, spices, evaporated milk, sugar and an egg. It is important to get plain pureed pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling.

This is a 15oz. can and in this part I only used 1 cup of it with the rest to be used later. Once I had everything combined, I poured it into my pie plate.

I placed it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes then without opening the door, turn the heat down to 350 for another 20 minutes. After this time, the filling should no longer be giggly in the middle.

The pie needs to cool completely before the next step.

The cheesecake part of the pie was the hardest for me to figure out. I needed something that I didn't have to bake again......and I found this:

It is really good and worked wonderfully! I put half of this in a bowl and mixed it with some spices and the remaining pumpkin. It worked best to use an electric mixer.

I found that a small, off-set spatula worked best for the next couple steps.

I spread the plain cheesecake filling over the pumpkin pie.

And then my pumpkin cheesecake filling over that.

Then it is all set! I tried to slice a piece to take a picture but it is hard to cut a perfect piece of pie.... It doesn't look perfect but it was really good, if I do say so myself. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

15 oz can plain pureed pumpkin, divided
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon, divided
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves, divided
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
5 oz can evaporated milk
1 refrigerated pie crust
1- 24.3 oz tub Philadelphia Ready to Eat Cheesecake Filling

Roll out pie crust to 12 inches and place in deep pie plate. Crimp crust and place in  refrigerator to rest for 15-20 minutes. Mix together 1 cup of pumpkin, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp cloves, egg, sugar and evaporated milk in a bowl. Pour into pie crust and place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. When time is done, without opening the oven, turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake another 20 minutes. When pumpkin filling is done, cool completely. In a separate bowl, mix together one half of cheesecake filling with rest of the pumpkin (should be around 3/4 cup), 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp cloves.
Spread plain cheesecake mixture over pumpkin pie filling and then spread the pumpkin cheesecake filling on top. Keep refrigerated.