December 27, 2011

Almond Bacon and Cheese Crostini


 1 French bread baguette (1 pound), cut into 36 slices  
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese  
2/3 cup mayonnaise  
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted  
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled  
1 green onion, chopped 
Dash salt  
Additional toasted almonds, optional 

1.  Place bread slices on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400℉ for 8-9 minutes or until lightly browned. **

2.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cheese, mayonnaise, almonds, bacon, onion and salt. Spread over bread. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with additional almonds if desired. Serve warm. 

Yield: 3 dozen.

**These are very crusty.  If you want them a little softer don't prebake the bread.  Just bake after putting on the cheese mixture.  This is also good on regular french bread slices or baked potatoes etc.

December 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie and Caramel Peanut Butter Bars

from the Bite Sized Baker

Cookie Layer: (Nestle Toll House Cookies)

2 ¼  cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
nuts, optional

Caramel-Peanut Butter Layer:

 ½ cup evaporated milk
60 whole caramels, unwrapped (I used a package and a half of caramel bits)
½ cup peanut butter, melted
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F and grease 9 x 13-inch pan.**
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. In another bowl beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
  3. Spread half of cookie dough into prepared pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a double boiler melt caramels with ½ cup evaporated milk. (I did it in the microwave. 
  5. When caramel is melted and combined, add ½ cup melted peanut butter and pour over cookie base. Sprinkle 1/3 cup chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel.
  6. Turn out remaining cookie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large rectangle a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.  (I pressed it out on a greased piece of saran wrap and then flipped it over on top of the caramel.)
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.
**If desired line the pan with tinfoil before greasing then you can lift the whole thing out when you want to cut into bars.

December 22, 2011

Mint Oreo Truffles

6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 (15.25 oz) package cool mint oreos, finely crushed
 candy melts or chocolate chips thinned with a little oil
sprinkles etc., optional

1.  Mix the cream cheese and oreo crumbs until well combined.

2.  Shape into approximately 40- 1 inch balls. Freeze for about 10 minutes.

3.  Melt candy melts.  Dip balls in chocolate.  Place in a shallow pan and refrigerate for about an hour to set.  Store in refrigerator.

*If using sprinkles; sprinkle immediately after dipping.

December 21, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Candy aka Snickers

from Annette

1st layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups marshmallow creme
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts

Caramel Layer:
1 (14 oz.) package caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup whipping cream or evaporated milk

4th layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1.  Combine the ingredients for the 1st layer together in a small saucepan; stir over low heat until melted or smooth. (or melt in microwave).  Spread in the bottom of a lightly greased 13x9x2 inch pan.  Refrigerate until set.

2.  For the filling, melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add sugar and milk.  Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla.  Add peanuts.  Spread over the 1st layer.  Refrigerate until set.

3.  Combine the caramels and cream in a saucepan; stir over low heat until melted and smooth.  Spread over the filling.  Refrigerate until set.

4.  In small saucepan combine chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter for 4th layer.  Stir over low heat until melted and smooth.  Pour over caramel layer.

5.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Cut into 1" squares.  Store in the refrigerator.

December 20, 2011

Bars Fantastic

from Studio 5

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits
14 caramels unwrapped and cut in 6 pieces each (or 3/4 cup caramel bits)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1.  In medium bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.

2.  In a large bowl cream the butter, brown sugar and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Add dry ingredient mixture and mix until well incorporated.

3.  Divide dough in half and spread one portion as evenly as possible in the bottom of a well greased 9x13 inch pan.

4.  On a work surface place a piece of plastic wrap the size of your pan. Put the 2nd portion of dough, flatten the dough slightly, cover with another piece of plastic wrap the same size as the first and flatten with your hands or use a rolling pin to make it to the size of the baking pan, set aside.

5.  Sprinkle the white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, caramel pieces and toffee chips on top of dough in the pan. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap from the second piece of dough and place that side on top of the heath bar chips. Slightly press the dough down and remove the second piece of plastic.

6.  Sprinkle nuts on top of dough, if using, and bake at 350℉ for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 15 minutes then cut in bars.  Makes about 20.

Salty Caramel Oat Bars

from Cookies and Cups

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup finely crushed pretzels
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups rolled oats
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (11 oz.) bag caramel bits or 14 oz. bag wrapped caramels with 1/2 cup removed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped cashews
1 tsp. coarse sea salt (optional)

1.  Preheat oven 350℉.  Line a 15x10x1 inch pan with foil.

2.  With a mixer beat together butter and sugars together.  Add eggs and vanilla until incorporated.

3.  On low speed add in the pretzels, flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix in the oats.

4.  Set aside 1 cup of the batter.  Spread the rest of the batter into your prepared pan.

5.  In a medium saucepan melt together the caramel and sweetened condensed milk on medium heat.  Heat until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.

6.  Pour caramel mixture on batter.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and cashews.  Then sprinkle remaining dough on top.  Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top.

7.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until top starts to get golden brown.

8.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.  When cool lift bars out of pan with foil and cut into squares.

December 19, 2011

Carmel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

from Studio 5

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 box (7.4 oz) spiced apple cider instant drink mix (not sugar-free you need all 10 packets)**
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cups flour
1 (14 oz) bag caramels

1.  Preheat oven to 350℉.  Line cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

2.  In a small bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

3.  In another bowl cream together the butter, sugar, salt, and all the packages of apple cider drink mix.  Beat until light and fluffy.

4.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla and mix well.

5.  Gradually add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Refrigerate dough for about an hour.  (This makes the dough easier to work with; you can skip if you can't wait.)

6.  When you are ready to bake cookies; unwrap caramels and wrap about a walnut sized ball of dough around the caramels.  (Flatten your ball of dough and wrap the caramel completely and seal all the edges.)  Place on lined cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

7.  Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges.  DO NOT OVERBAKE.  When cookies are done pull them off the cookie sheet with the liner  Let cookies partially cool on parchment or liner.   When cookies are cool enough to be firm but slightly warm carefully twist off liner and allow to finish cooling upside down.

Yield about 4 dozen.  Depending on how much dough you use to wrap the carmels.

*If you forget and let the cookies completely cool and they stick to the parchment before you flip them, put them in the freezer for a few minutes and they will pop right off the parchment.

**You can find these by the hot chocolate packets usually.

December 15, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

French Vanilla  or Vanilla Cake Mix
3 eggs
½ cup oil
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 TBS white sugar
½ TBS brown sugar
1 TBS cinnamon

Cinnamon Buttercream:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp milk (if needed)
3 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp vanilla

Cinnamon-sugar to decorate

1.  Preheat oven to 350℉ and line muffin tins with cupcake liners (about 24). Spray liners with nonstick cooking spray if desired.

2.  In a large bowl, mix oil, eggs, vanilla and almond together.  Sift (for easy mixing) in about ½ of the of the cake mix and stir only until combined.  Add buttermilk and sour cream.  Sift in the last half of the cake mix and fill cupcake liners ¼ full. 

3.  Combine sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle generously over batter. Fill liners again over the cinnamon mixture with batter until ¾ full.  

4.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

5.  To make Cinnamon Buttercream; Beat cream cheese and butter for 2 minutes.  Then add powdered sugar, milk, cinnamon and vanilla.  Let beat for 3-5 minutes.  If too stiff—add more milk.  If too thin—add more powdered sugar.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top if desired.

December 10, 2011

Samoan Brownies

from Better Than Burgers

1 brownie mix for 9x13 inch pan (+ ingredients to prepare) or your favorite brownie recipe
3-1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 (14 oz each) pkgs caramels, unwrapped
1/2 tsp. salt
4 TBS milk
1 cup chocolate chips

1.  Prepare and bake brownies according to box directions and let cool.  I used this brownie recipe.

2.  To toast coconut; preheat oven to 400℉ and place coconut on baking sheet. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes until toasted. Watch closely so it doesn't burn.

3.  In a large microwavable bowl combine unwrapped caramels, salt and milk. Cook on high for 3-5 minutes; stirring every minute. Cook until all caramels are melted and smooth.

4.  Add toasted coconut and mix together. Spread over cooled brownies.

5.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until cooled.

6.  Melt chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over brownies. Let brownies sit on counter while chocolate sets. (about 1 hour)  Cut in bars.

December 5, 2011

Chubby Hubby Bars


2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp coarse sea salt (or regular salt)
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pretzels 
1 (8oz) bag of Reese’s Mini cups (or 2 cups coarsely chopped full sized Reese’s) 
1 (14 oz) bag of caramels, unwrapped 
1 TBS water 
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 350℉.  Spray a 9×13inch pan lightly with cooking spray. 

 2.  Beat together your butter and sugars until light and fluffy, approx 1 min.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix until incorporated. 

 3.  On low speed add in your salt, baking soda and flour, mixing until just combined. 

 4.  Slowly add in your Reeses and Pretzels, mixing until evenly distributed. Spread in your prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.  

5.  When cooled, melt your caramels and 1 TBS water in a microwave safe bowl stirring every minute until melted. Pour over your bars. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes to set caramel. 

6.  Melt your chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave and spread over caramel. Put back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. Cut into squares when ready to serve.

November 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Truffle Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Picky Palate

1-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter 
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 TBS vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp  salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1. Place peanut butter and powdered sugar into a large bowl and mix to combine. ( I used my hands.) Press into an 8×8 inch baking pan that has been lined with foil, sprayed with cooking spray. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350℉ and line a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or use a Silpat. 

3. Place butter and sugars into the bowl of a stand or electric mixer, mix to combine. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.

4. Place flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl, mix to combine. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips, just mixing until combined.

5. Remove peanut butter truffle pan from freezer and cut into cubes. They don't need to be perfect. Once cut up, put back in freezer for about 10 minutes.

6. Add peanut butter truffle chunks to your cookie dough, mix on low for just a couple turns of the mixer.  You want chunks and swirls throughout the dough so you bite into nice bits of peanut butter truffle.
7. Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 10-13 minutes, until cooked to your preference. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

November 25, 2011

Funeral Potatoes

from Our Best Bites

1 small-medium onion, diced small
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS butter
1 (28 oz-30 oz) bag shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups sour cream
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup
2-1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Optional:  Crushed potato chips, butter crackers, seasoned bread crumbs, crushed corn flakes, etc.

1.  Preheat oven to 350℉.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until transluscent.  Remove from heat.  Add the thawed hashbrowns, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, cheese, salt, and pepper.  Combine well.

2.  Spread the mixture in a greased 9x13 inch pan.  If using topping sprinkle on now.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the casserole is hot in the center and the cheese is bubbly throughout.

Serves 10-12 as a side dish.

November 20, 2011

Easy Parmesan Garlic Rolls

from Our Best Bites

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh or canned)
20 rise and bake frozen rolls (like Rhodes)

1.  Place the butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning in a microwave-safe dish and heat until melted. Whisk in the Parmesan cheese.

2.  Place the frozen dough balls in a large bowl. Drizzle the butter/cheese mixture over the dough and then toss quickly to evenly coat the dough in the butter and cheese.

3.  Place the dough in a 9×13inch  pan and allow to rise until doubled (follow the package directions).

4.  Bake according to package directions until the rolls are evenly golden on top and serve warm.

November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

from Your Cup of Cake

Cheesecake Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Pumpkin Cakes:
½ cup oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2-1/3 cup flour
1 TBS pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ cup milk
1-¾ cup pumpkin puree

Cream Cheese Buttercream:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon (optional)
milk, if needed

 1.  For Filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar until evenly combined.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Place in a small container and put in freezer while you make the cake batter.  (If you do this part overnight, put it in the refrigerator.) 

2.  Preheat oven to 350℉ and line pans with 20-24 cupcake liners.  Spray liners.

3.  Mix oil, applesauce, sugar and brown sugar together until smooth.   Add eggs one at a time and mix well (do not over beat and do not beat on high.)

4.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

5.   Add half of the dry ingredients to the oil mixture and mix.  Add milk.

6.  Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients. Mix in pumpkin puree.  Fill cupcake liners ¾ full.

7.  Take the filling out of the freezer and place small spoonfuls (between 1 ½ -2 teaspoons) on the top of each unbaked cupcake.  Slightly swirl into the batter.**

8.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until and inserted knife comes out with no orange batter on it.  The cream cheese will leave a little white on the knife, but that is normal. Let cool completely

9.   For Buttercream: Beat cream cheese and butter for 3-4 minutes.  Scrape the bowl as necessary.  Slowly add powdered sugar until combined.  Add vanilla extract and cinnamon.  Use milk to thin out the buttercream if needed. 

10. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.  Top with cinnamon sugar if desired.

**Next time I will fill half full then put cheesecake filling and top with more batter.

November 10, 2011

Yummy Pancakes

from Coleen's Recipes

3/4 cup milk
2 TBS white vinegar **
1 cup  flour
2-3 TBS white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 egg
2 TBS melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Combine the milk and vinegar in a small bowl for 10 minutes to "sour".  Set aside.

2.  Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the soured milk, egg and melted butter together. Pour into the dry ingredients and whisk until most of the lumps are gone, but don't over beat. 

3.  The batter will be thick, don't add any more liquid. Let the batter sit, undisturbed for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you will see bubbles in the batter, DON'T STIR.  Gently dip out a ¼ cup of batter and place it on a buttered grill or frying pan. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake and then flip with a spatula and brown the other side.

This recipe only feeds about 3 or 4 people, but doubles or even triples nicely.

**Don't skip the soured milk part of this recipe, you will not taste the vinegar in the pancakes. The vinegar super-activates the baking soda.

November 5, 2011

Almond Joy Brownie Bites

from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

brownie batter for a 9x13 inch pan (box mix or your favorite)
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
4 cups sweetened coconut
48 almonds
chocolate candy melts or almond bark

1.   Grease 2 mini muffin pans.  Fill 1/2 full with brownie batter. (You should get about 48) Bake according to directions.  When done remove from oven and let cool completely.  Remove brownie bites from pan.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk and coconut together.  Use your hands to roll coconut mixture into balls.  Press a coconut ball on top of each brownie bite.  Top with an almond.  Place brownie bites in freezer for about 15 minutes to harden.

3.  Melt candy melts or almond bark.  Remove brownies from freezer and dip the top in the chocolate candy melts.  Place brownie bites on a lined cookie sheet and put in fridge to let set.

November 1, 2011

Cinnamon Pumpkin Sheet Cake

from Picky Palate

1 box yellow cake mix (or white)
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1 box (3.4 oz) Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
1/2 cup sour cream
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (start with 1/4 cup and add a little more if needed)

1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and spray a jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Place cake mix, eggs, oil, milk, pudding, sour cream and pumpkin into a stand or electric mixer, beating until well combined, about 1-1/2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

3. Place butter into a microwave safe bowl and melt, about 30-40 seconds. Add brown sugar and cinnamon to bowl and mix until combined. Drizzle mixture evenly over cake.  Then take a knife and run it through to swirl.

4. Bake cake for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through and remove.  In a bowl add powdered sugar and cream or milk and mix until creamy and smooth. Drizzle over warm cake.   Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into squares. Refrigerate if not serving same day.

October 31, 2011

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

from Our Best Bites

1 batch sugar cookie dough (I used this dough)
yellow and orange food coloring

Sugar, sanding sugar, coarse raw sugar, or sprinkles
almond bark or white chocolate, melted

1.  Divide prepared sugar cookie dough into three equal portions.  Leave one as is and color one other portion yellow and another portion orange.

2.  Line a standard loaf pan with plastic wrap.  Gently press layer of uncolored dough into bottom of pan and smooth flat, keeping it at least 1/2-3/4 inches high (you don’t have to use the whole pan if you have a small batch of dough) or larger if desired.  Layer orange dough on top of previous layer and smooth.  Finally layer yellow dough and smooth on top.  (It helps to use plastic wrap to push the layers in the pan.)  Wrap plastic over dough and chill until firm, 30-60 minutes in freezer or 1-2 hours in fridge.  Or you can store the dough in fridge for 2-3 days before baking.

 3.  Remove plastic and slice loaf into 1/4 inch slices. Trim top of slice to make straight line.  Cut each slice into triangle shape and dip top side in sugar if desired.  Bake according to sugar cookie directions.  Cool completely and then if desired, dip ends in almond bark, white chocolate or frosting and decorate with sprinkles.

These cookies are small and cute.  Make loaf taller and shorter if you want the cookies to be bigger.

October 30, 2011

Melted Witch Puddles

1 tsp water
4 drops yellow food coloring
1-1/2 cups flaked coconut (we only needed half)
2 cups (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips (we only needed half)
6 TBS shortening divided
36 chocolate cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)
36 Bugles
4 cups vanilla or white chips**
36 pretzel sticks

1.  In a large resealable plastic bag, combine water and food coloring; add coconut. Seal bag and shake to tint coconut; set aside. 

2.  In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons shortening; stir until smooth.

3.  For witches' hats, place about 1/3 cup chocolate mixture in a resealable plastic bag; cut a small hole in a corner of bag. Pipe a small amount of chocolate on a cookie. Dip a Bugle in some of the remaining chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Position over chocolate on cookie, forming a witch's hat. Set on waxed paper to dry. Repeat with remaining chocolate, Bugles and cookies.

4.  For puddles, melt vanilla chips and the remaining shortening; stir until smooth. Place mixture in a large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; cut a small hole in a corner of bag. Pipe mixture into the shape of a puddle onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. (We didn't use a bag we just used two spoons to make a puddle.)

5.  Immediately place a witch's hat on the puddle. Place a pretzel stick alongside the hat; sprinkle reserved tinted coconut at the end of the pretzel stick. Repeat with remaining puddles, hats and brooms. Chill for 15 minutes or Let set up at room temperature. Store in an airtight container. 

Yield 3 dozen

 **purple or green candy melts would be cute also to look like colored witches 

October 27, 2011

Monster Caramel Apples

Monster Caramel Apples Recipe
Photo by Taste of Home
Monster Caramel Apples Rec 

8 to 10 medium apples
8 to 10 wooden sticks
1 cup butter, cubed
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
32 cream-filled sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped (optional)
8 oz white or chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped (optional)
toffee chips, toasted coconut, mini M&Ms, mini marshmallows, sprinkles etc.

1.  Wash and thoroughly dry apples; insert a wooden stick into each.  Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet; chill.  Place cookie crumbs in a shallow dish; set aside (if using).

2.  In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, milk and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook and stir until mixture reaches 248˚ (firm-ball stage) on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.**

3.  Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture to completely coat, then dip the bottom in cookie crumbs, and sprinkle or press in other toppings pressing lightly to adhere.  Return to baking sheet to cool.

4.  In microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth.  Transfer to a small plastic bag; cut off corner and drizzle coating over apples. (If using)

**Make sure to test the accuracy of your candy thermometer beforehand so the caramel doesn't get too hot.

October 25, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker

from Recipe Shoebox

2-1/2-3 lb beef roast
2 (14.5 oz each) cans beef broth
2 cups water
2 pkgs (1 oz each) dry onion soup mix (like Lipton's)
salt and pepper
2 TBS. oil
Crusty rolls
cheese slices

1.  In a skillet on medium high heat add oil.  While it is heating, salt and pepper roast on all sides.  In the skillet sear meat on all sides (Don't try to cook the roast just brown each side a little).

2.  Transfer the roast to a crockpot.  Pour onion soup mix on top of roast.  Add beef broth and water.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Or cook on high for 4-6 hours .  When meet shreds easily with a fork, shred the entire roast .

3.  Serve on sliced crusty rolls and melt cheese on top if desired.  Use juice from meat as au jus for dipping.

October 20, 2011

Butterfinger Brownies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
6 TBS cocoa
1 cup flour
16 (.65 each) butterfinger candy bars, crushed in big pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 325℉. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.  Cream butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

2.  Add cocoa and flour and mix until combined.  Gently fold in all but 3/4 cup of the crushed candy bar.  Pour into prepared pan.  Spread evenly.  Sprinkle remaining butterfinger on top.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  (Mine took 30 minutes)  Cool completely.  Cut in bars and enjoy.

October 13, 2011

Buttermilk Syrup

from Tasty Kitchen

1/2 cup butter (1 cube)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 TBS Karo Syrup
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

1.  In a large saucepan (about 4 quarts)  add butter, sugar, buttermilk, and Karo syrup together.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 2-3 minutes.

2.  Add baking soda and vanilla.  The mixture will bubble up and double in size.  Remove from heat.  Let sit to thicken, stirring occasionally.  Serve over pancakes, waffles, french toast etc.

October 8, 2011

Symphony Brownies

from Paula Deen

1 (17.6 oz) Brownie mix or make your favorite brownie recipe for a 9x13 inch pan
3 (6 oz) Symphony candy bars with toffee and almonds

1.  Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions.  Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  Spread half the dough in the prepared pan.  Place the candy bars side by side on top of the batter.  Cover with the remaining batter.  Spread evenly.  Bake according to package directions.  (about 30 minutes.)  Let cool completely.  Lift foil lined brownies out of pan and cut into squares.

October 4, 2011

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

from Our Best Bites

1 spice cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (12 oz) bag chocolate chips

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3 TBS butter

1.  Preheat oven to 350℉.  Line 24 muffin cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl combine cake mix, sour cream, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  (a couple of minutes)  Add chocolate chips and mix well.

3.  Divide dough evenly among muffin cups.

4.  Make streusel topping by combining sugar, flour and pumpkin pie spice.  Add butter and cut in with 2 knives or a pastry cutter until you get course crumbs.  Sprinkle on top of muffins.

5.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with no crumbs on it.  Cool on a wire rack before serving.

September 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

Peanut Butter Layer from Martha Stewart


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
4 eggs
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1-3/4 cups flour

Peanut Butter Layer:

1/2 cup (8 TBS) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt (I didn't use because I used salted butter)

1. Preheat oven to 350℉.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, melt butter in microwave.  Add oil, sugar, and cocoa.  With a wooden spoon stir in the eggs, salt, vanilla, and flour.  Stir until combined.  Set aside and make peanut butter layer.

3.  Mix together melted butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and salt until smooth.

4.  In prepared pan pour half of brownie batter and smooth evenly in pan.  On top of brownie batter add half peanut butter mixture by spoonfuls.  Then add rest of brownie batter by spoonfuls followed by rest of peanut butter mixture.

5.  Using a knife, swirl batters together until evenly distributed.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool and cut into bars.

September 23, 2011

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches


2 pound pork roast (I used shoulder roast) or beef roast
1 (12 oz) can rootbeer
1 (18 oz) bottle barbecue sauce
8 hamburger buns

1.  Spray a crockpot with nonstick cooking spray.  Put roast in bottom of crockpot.  Pour rootbeer on top of the roast.  Cook on high for about 6-7 hours or until roast pulls apart easily.  (Or low for about 10-12 hours).

2.  Drain pork roast well.  (If you used a bone-in roast remove bones)  Shred roast with two forks.  Mix barbecue sauce with shredded pork.  Serve immediately or continue to cook in slow cooker until ready to serve. (I cooked on low for another hour.)   Serve on toasted hamburger bun if desired.

September 18, 2011

Zucchini Brownies

from Lori E.

 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

6 TBS cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350℉.  Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and 2 tsp. vanilla until well blended.  In another bowl;, combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture.

3.Fold in the zucchini and walnuts (if using).  Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

4.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until brownies spring back when gently touched.

5.  To make the frosting, melt together the 6 TBS cocoa and butter; set aside to cool.  In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  Stir in to cocoa mixture.   Spread over the cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

**It isn't a misprint: You don't need eggs.

September 15, 2011

Pancake Muffins-Breakfast on the go

from The American Homemaker

3 cups pancake mix
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups water
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup cooked chopped ham or cooked crumbled bacon or browned sausage

1.  Mix all ingredients well.

2.  Grease 12 muffin cups well and divide batter evenly among the cups.  The cups will be full.  Bake at 400℉ for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool in cups for a few minutes before removing.

3.  Serve with maple syrup to dip.

September 10, 2011

Taco Seasoning Mix

2 tsp dried minced onions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp crushed dried red pepper
1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin

1.  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until mixed.  Label and store in a snack size bag in a cool dry place.   Use within 6 months.  Makes 1 package (about 2 TBS) Taco Seasoning Mix.

Taco Filling
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup water
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning Mix

1.  Brown ground beef in a medium skill over medium-high heat.  Drain excess grease.  Add water and Taco Seasoning Mix.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minuter, stirring occasionally.

Makes filling for 8-10 tacos

September 5, 2011

One-Pot Spaghetti

from Recipe Shoebox

1 lb. ground beef or ground sausage (or half of each)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large can (32 oz) chicken broth (4 cups)
3 cups water
2 cans (6 oz. each) tomato paste
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 box (12 oz) spaghetti noodles, broken in half, uncooked
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or other cheese, optional

1.  In a large saucepan cook the ground beef and/or sausage, onion, and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain grease. 

2.  Stir in the broth, water, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.

3.  Add the broken spaghetti, a little at a time, stirring constantly.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently, uncovered, for 17-20 minutes or until spaghetti is tender and sauce is of the desired consistency, stirring frequently.

Serve with Parmesan cheese.