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.