Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are enjoying the day with your friends and family. I sure am!

This morning, my boyfriend and I unwrapped presents and I got a Kindle with a purple cover! I was very excited. I also got two great additions to my kitchen artillery. My boyfriends mom got me Rachel Ray's oil and Vinegar set as well as a RR rimmed baking sheet. I couldn't wait to use them.

So I didn't! ;) I was free from helping out with dinner but I had to contribute some how, so I baked another great dish from Picky-Palate, and used my baking sheet for the first time. These mini mint truffle Kiss Pies are to die for! So easy to make, mess-free and delicious!

1 refrigerated pie crust
14 - 18 Hersey Kisses of choice, I chose mint truffle since I had some left-over
1 egg, whisked with 1 tbsp of water
Powder sugar for dusting

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out pie dough onto a lightly floured surface. Place 10 kisses around the edges of pie dough, about 2 1/2 inches apart (I used a metal 1/4 cup measuring cup and pressed firmly. It made the perfect, no-fuss circle.) Or by free-hand, take a knive and cut a 2 1/2-3 inch circle around kiss.
2) Once circles are made, take one pie/kiss piece and fold half of pie dough around top of dough and pinch edge around top of kiss. Next, fold up both sides of remaining dough up to the tip of the kiss pinching edge. Next, press together edges and form criss cross. Be sure all edges are firmly squeezed together or they will come apart in the oven. Continue cutting and folding until all dough is used up. I got about 18 rounds cut when I re-rolled my scraps
3) Brush all the pies with the egg white wash then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 20 - 28 minutes or until pies are golden. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Dust each with powdered sugar and serve.

If my instructions are confusing, check out Picky-Palate's page. She gave photo instructions, step-by-step.

She also took MUCH better photos than I! Sorry - I only had my cell phone handy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Tree Cupcakes!

The Holiday's aren't complete without an office party. My company hosts a catered party for all, then each division holds a Holiday luncheon on various days before Christmas. For my party, I had to create a dessert. I was beyond happy about that!! Many people were left to make entrees, which is never easy to do for 200+ people.

Obviously, I made cupcakes, which should be no surprise. While these were a simple dark-chocolate cake straight from the box, I decorated them to create a Christmas Tree. One cake had a yellow star, four were left un-iced to look like the trunk, then I squiggled green icing on the rest. After taking this photo, I topped the cakes with sprinkles, to be my "ornaments."

To top it off, these babies won me 2nd place in the company for best holiday themed dessert! ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Treats For All!

Holiday cheer is in full swing! I love baking and wanted to create the perfect treat for my friends and co-workers. While I have created quite the following with my yummy cupcakes, I decided to make little brownie packs for everyone.

I wanted to make a variety of flavors so I made three different brownie batches: my brownie-cookies, S'more brownies and a new flavor: Mint truffle brownies. For these, I just dropped Mint Truffle Hersey Kisses into regular brownie mix. It was delish!

Needless to say, I spent my entire day on Sunday baking, prepping and packing these cute little treats. To make them package friendly, I baked the brownies in muffin pans. They looked so cute and I was able to make the last minute decision to wrap them in cupcake liners. :)

How cute do these looks? Each brownie is sitting in a holiday cupcake line. The bottom is coated in a gold doily with a red foil on top. I placed them in clear candy bags and tied them with a little red ribbon. Not going to lie, I was really proud of myself when these were done! ;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Roast Beef Make-Over

Yesterday, I cooked a delicious beef roast. I ate left overs for lunch and still had more left in my fridge when I got home. I couldn't bare to have meat and potatoes for a third time in 24 hours but hate letting things go to waste. I had a major craving for pasta so I decided to create a butter braised beef pasta.

It was so quick and super tasty. While my elbow noodles were cooking, I melted 2 tbsps of butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and tossed in 2 cups of beef, cooking until the beef was heated through. I tossed this over the cooked noodles and topped with a little more butter, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. It was delicious! The butter cooked out the original gravy that was on the meat from the night before, and tasted amazing with noodles. I'll definitely be making this next time I make roast.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Fun-Day!

When I moved out of my family's house many years ago, my mom gave me her old crock pot (and by old, I mean a good 15 years old.) I've only used it twice before and have planned to use it many times since and somehow never get up the energy to get the food in the crock pot at a decent time. I know it's ridiculous since the point of a crock pot is to make your life easy, but I tend to sleep in really late on the weekends and by the time I wake up, I would have to eat dinner at 9pm in order to let the meat cook for 5 to 8 hours. PATHETIC!!!

All that changed today! I got my butt out of bed at a decent time and went straight to the kitchen to get a beef roast into the crock pot. I tweaked my mom's recipe and created the most tender, juicy, delicious roast I've ever had! You've got to try this! It will leave your house smelling amazing all day and your stomach full all night. :) (I know, I'm corny.)

1 3-4 lb beef roast (I had a beef bottom round)
1/2 cup flour
1 large yellow onion, cut into 4 quarters then separate each piece
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

3 carrots, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
4 to 5 potatoes cut into wedges

1) Plug in crock pot and set on high. Place onion into crock pot, immediately.
2) Pat roast dry, then coat in flour, shaking off excess flour. Season with salt and pepper then lay in crock pot on top of onion.
3) Pour water, garlic, mushroom soup and garlic on top.
4) Cook for about 5 hours.
5) With one hour remaining, drop potatoes and carrots into pot and cover.
*To serve, you can either shred the roast or remove from pot and slice. I prefer the sliced version. :)

After 5 hours of cooking the meat was beyond tender and the carrots and potatoes were perfect. I ate until I had to unbutton my pants! (haha TMI)

*Please excuse my awful picture. I was STARVING and did not want to waste any more time before stuffing my face :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


After baking and eating cookies for 5 hours, I just could not shake my cookie head ache. I had to cook a full dinner to try to repair the damage! Obviously, I was in no mood spend hours in the kitchen so I went for a sure-fire quick and delicious family favorite: Baked pork chops!

I served these with diced potatoes, fresh from the freezer! ;) I fried them until golden brown and whipped up some mushrooms while the pork was in the oven.

4 pork chops
bread crumbs
2 eggs
salt and pepper
4 tabs of butter

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish and set aside.
2) Scramble eggs in a shallow dish or bowl. Dip pork in eggs then bread crumbs. Place in greased baking dish then season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 1 tab of butter on top of each pork chop, then bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, until pork is tender when poked and no longer pink.

This meal was exactly what I needed! When I was done eating I had a full stomach and a clear head. A great end to a great day.


Cookie Mania!!!

I had my friends Lauren and Becky over today to have a cookie bake off! Last year we got together and decorated sugar cookies, but this year we wanted to actually put in some effort! I baked a batch of sugar cookies to keep with tradition, then each of us picked our favorite holiday cookie recipe and we set out on our baking spree. (I picked two...surprise, surprise!)

We started with Becky's grandmother's Ginger Spice cookies. She couldn't find the actual recipe, but found the closest one she could from All Recipes. When we started to make these
we had no idea how they'd turn out. This recipe calls for a LOT of molasses and and 4 cups of flour! They were very tasty but the end result made 50+ cookies!

Next we moved on to Lauren's Peanut Butter Blossoms. She had her own recipe from home, but if you want to check one out online, this is almost the exact same from These are one of my all-time favorite cookie and
oddly enough, was my first time making them. They were delish!

While the Blossoms were baking, we moved on to my mom's No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Drop Cookies. Again, has a close recipe.
These were a holiday staple in my house growing up and super easy to make. Plus, you don't have to worry what they look like! They'd be a great cookie to make with kids. :)

The last cookie on the docket was Paula Dean's Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies. OMG! THESE WERE AMAING!!! They were so soft, creamy and super chocolatey! It was as if you were biting into a mini little cake. These were a crowd favorite when I brought left-overs in to work.

By the time we were finished with all four batches, we were so sick of being in the kitchen. We had to force ourselves to decorate the cookies and that desperation left us with some pretty funny looking designs!

When all was said and done, we baked about 200 cookies in 5 hours. That's a lot of sugar!! We were left with achy stomaches and sugar headaches but it was a lot of fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicken and Rice

I just started getting Everyday Food Magazine and absolutely love it! It's so small, but packed with great recipes. The December issue has a section called "make it your own" featuring chicken and rice dishes done four different ways. The main image of this was the prepared meal freshly prepared resting in an enamel coated dutch oven! I was immediately hooked. Not only do I love chicken, but I just got the best deal on a Martha Stewart 5 Qt Dutch Oven and have been dieing to use it. This was perfect.

The four variations include: Chicken and rice with corn and sun-dried tomatoes, spiced yellow rice with chicken and veggies, Moroccan chicken and rice with chickpeas, and my choice: chicken with rice, broccoli and scallions. Yum!

On top of this being the first Everday Food recipe I prepared and my first time using my new dutch oven, this was also the first dish that required me to cut up and use a whole chicken! Boy, that was an adventure. The recipe only states that you need a whole chicken, cut in 10 pieces. Okay? So how do I get it into 10 pieces? I have no clue! I went to and found Alexandra Guarnaschelli's how-to video. It seemed easy enough. I soon learned it was not! After chopping away for 20 minutes. It wasn't perfect, but I definitely had that chicken taken apart. Alas, I was on to cooking!

1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (good luck!)
course salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp veggie oil
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, diced medium
6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 cups broccoli florets
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice (I used brown rice)
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven or heavy pot with tight fitting lid, heat oil over high heat. Cook chicken, skin side down until golden and crisp, about 6 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until browned, 6 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
2) Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, and celery to pot. Cook, stirring and scrapping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in in mustard powder, thyme, red pepper flakes and rice and cook 1 minute.
3) Add broccoli and scallions and season with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken, skin side up, on top of the rice mixture. Bring to a boil, cover pot, and place in the oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it was pretty easy and super delicious. The light flavors of the celery and broccoli mix with the heat of the pepper flakes created such a nice balance of flavors and meshed perfectly with the rice and chicken. I will definitely be making this again soon! (And when I do, I will try to replicate the image of the chicken and rice in the pot...I'm a dope and forgot to get that shot.)