Monthly Archives: December 2014

Sausage, Feta, and Kale Frittata

I know the holidays aren’t technically over but food-wise, for me they are. After being pretty good at home before heading to my sister’s in Texas before Christmas, I had one good day where I stayed on track, keeping away from the cookies and watching my carbs. But then, poof! The next day was all downhill. Cookie after cookie went into my mouth and I couldn’t stop for days. And then I spent the entire flight home eating ALL of the chocolate that was in my stocking because I wouldn’t let myself eat it when I got home. So now I am home and watching everything that I eat. This Sausage, Feta, and Kale Frittata will be a good start to my mornings this week while I get myself back on track.

Leafy kale, crisp red pepper, spicy turkey sausage and tangy feta cheese make up this frittata which is so easy and quick to prepare. Frittatas are such a great option for breakfast because they take no time to make, are easy to portion out, and are quick to reheat when you are on the go. This frittata has some of my favorite veggies but spinach, onion, asparagus, broccoli and any favorite cheese could be substituted. I’m happy to have this for breakfast each morning. Although eating those cookies for breakfast was pretty fun too.

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Preheat broiler to high. Combine egg whites, eggs, salt, pepper, and milk; stir with a whisk.

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Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over ­medium heat. Sauté kale in olive oil until tender. Layer in sausage and bell pepper.

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Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.

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Carefully pour egg mixture over cheese.

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Cook over medium heat 5 to 6 ­minutes or until eggs are partially set; then broil 5 inches from heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned and almost set.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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Grilled Tomato, Smoked Turkey, and Muenster Sandwiches

I was talking with my friend the other day about how the best food to eat at a diner at 3am is a grilled cheese with tomato and French fries. I haven’t actually had such food in a really long time because I haven’t been to a diner, let alone at 3am, since I don’t know when. And that scenario at that time of night is the only time I will let myself eat such food. Since that conversation, I’ve had grilled cheese and tomato on the brain. It’s no wonder I found myself dying to make these Grilled Tomato, Smoked Turkey, and Muenster Sandwiches.

Slices of sourdough bread are smothered in a sour cream/Dijon mustard sauce, topped with turkey, tomato, and Muenster cheese before being buttered and browned until perfectly crunchy and oozing. This sandwich didn’t stand a chance with me. Fresh tomato with gooey cheese and yummy turkey? Sold! If only I had some French fries. And I was in a diner. And it was 3am.

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Combine red onion, sour cream, Dijon mustard, and thyme in a bowl. Spread 1 teaspoon butter on one side of each bread slice.

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Spread 2 tablespoons mustard mixture over unbuttered side of each of 2 bread slices; top each with 3 turkey slices, 2 tomato slices, 1 cheese slice, and 1 bread slice (with buttered side out).

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Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the sandwiches; cover and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

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Additions: None

Omissions:

  • Red onion

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Gooey Pretzel Caramel Bars

I’ve already given away dozens of the cookies and treats I’ve featured this week but I still have so many left in my house. It’s killing me. I’m trying sooooooo hard not to eat them and for the most part, I’m doing pretty good. Or at least I was. But these Gooey Pretzel Caramel Bars are evil little magic waves of sweetness and they are torturing me. They appear in my dreams, whisper my name when I’m standing strong, and wrap their sweet scent around me everywhere I go. My knees are getting weak.

Inspired by traditional Hello Dollys, I changed things up by using pretzel crumbs in place of graham crackers, caramel topping instead of butterscotch, peanut butter filled morsels in place of plain chocolate, and almonds instead of pecans. The result is basically…well…crack. I was doing so good on watching my sugar and this week it’s all down hill. I know that’s what happens during the holidays but I thought I could keep it under control. This is the problem with working from home. I no longer have an office to take all these leftover cookies to so instead they sit in my kitchen. They taunt me. Make fun of me. Call me names. This weekend may turn into a real battle. Me against them. I have a feeling these layer bars will be the victor.

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Gooey Pretzel Caramel Bars (adapted from Hello Dollys)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 ground pretzels
  • 1 9-oz package Nestlé Toll House Milk Chocolate Morsels with Peanut Butter Filled DelightFulls(or 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips and 3/4 cup peanut butter chips)
  • 1 12.25-oz jar caramel topping
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place butter in 13 x 9 inch pan and melt in oven. Swirl to coat bottom and sides with butter. Spread pretzel crumbs evenly over bottom of pan. Layer morsels over pretzels crumbs followed by caramel topping and almonds. 

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Pour condensed milk over almonds. Sprinkle coconut over condensed milk.

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Bake 25 minutes until edges are golden brown and bubbly.

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Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

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Easy Salty and Sweet Christmas Bark

I used to go with my mom to a small chocolate store half an hour from where we lived in Illinois every December. We would pick up bags of red, green, brown and white melting chocolate which we would bring home, melt and pour into different Christmas molds like wreaths, bells and snowmen. I really miss that. I hadn’t played with melting chocolate since then which was way too long ago. I found melting chocolate at Target and next thing I know, I’m throwing pretzels, chocolate cookies and peanut M&Ms into my cart. I ended up making this Easy Salty and Sweet Christmas Bark.

Why haven’t I been doing this before? Making bark is SO easy! And now that I know that, I’ve been looking up different kinds of bark on Pinterest and my mind is reeling. I want to make more! Now that I know where to find melting chocolate, how easy it is to work with and how stinking good it is, I’ll start making bark all year, not just during the holidays!

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Easy Salty and Sweet Chocolate Bark

  • 1 pound white melting chocolate (I used CandiQuik vanilla candy coating)
  • 1 cup pretzels (preferably holiday shapes – trees, bells & stars)
  • 6-8 chocolate sandwich cookies with red or green filling (like Oreo)
  • red and green m&ms (regular or peanut)
  • red and green sprinkles

Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or wax paper; set aside. Chop cookies into 1/4th; set aside. Melt chocolate according to package directions. Pour half the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet; spread to approximately 1/4 inch thick.

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Working quickly, add the pretzels, cookies pieces, m&m’s, and sprinkles over the chocolate in a sporadic pattern.

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Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate on top of the pretzels and cookies. Garnish with additional sprinkles; if desired.

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Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. Once set, break the bark into pieces.

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Chocolate-Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti

I didn’t grow up familiar with biscotti. I’ve only ever made it once and each time I make it, it seems daunting. But even though there are a few steps, it really is easy. I took some of this Chocolate-Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti to the Philadelphia Eagles tailgate I went to on Sunday and saw someone eat one, then walk over and grab another one. I hadn’t even tasted one yet so I tapped him on the arm and asked him how they were. “The best biscotti I’ve ever had,” he said. His wife agreed and said she’d never seen him eat TWO biscotti. I was thrilled!

With a chocolate dough base, these biscotti have dried cherries (my fave!) and pistachios mixed into the dough giving little flecks of red and green that seem so appropriate for the holidays. Dried fruit and nuts are such an amazing combination and putting them in a cookie is a great way to enjoy them without having to cut into a fruitcake. With one end dipped in a little semi-sweet chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate, these will sure to satisfy your chocolate sweet tooth.

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

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Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until blended.

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Stir in pistachios and cherries.

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Place half of dough on each prepared baking sheet. Shape each half into a slightly rounded log about 10 x 3 inches using floured hands. (Dough will be very sticky.)

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Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until dough is firm to the touch. Let cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack.

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Transfer logs to a cutting board, and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-wide slices with a serrated knife. Place slices, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Bake 4 minutes on each side or until crisp. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Dip ends of biscotti in dark chocolate, and drizzle with white chocolate, if desired.

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Place on wax paper to set.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Coastal Living magazine

Chewy Molasses Cookies

This really is my favorite time of the year. And I’m not just talking about Christmas time. I’m talking about cookie time! I know I can make cookies at any time during the year but the truth is I don’t. So I get giddy like I a little kid when I can carve out a weekend day to spend hours in my kitchen covered in flour baking batch after batch of cookies and treats. I had a lot going on this past weekend but I didn’t let anything get in my way when it came to baking on Saturday morning. The first cookie I decided to make were these Chewy Molasses Cookies.

Similar in flavor to gingerbread, these molasses cookies are soft, chewy, and mouthwatering. With warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves, these treats scream happy holidays and belong in anyone’s cookie jar. Ginger and spice and everything nice? Check! As much as I love baking cookies, I don’t like having cookies in my house so I bake for my family instead. We all live far apart and I love nothing more than filling up a tin of cookies, shipping them away, and having my family thankfully appreciate them. It makes me warm and fuzzy. Kind of like these cookies.

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Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place butter, 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add egg; beat 30 seconds.

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Add molasses; beat just until combined.

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Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed or just until combined. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 24 balls, about 1 1/2 tablespoons each. Roll balls in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or just until set.

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Cool 3 minutes on pan; remove to a wire rack.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Gingerbread Cocoa

It really is kind of amazing how different your house can feel once you put up Christmas lights. So when you have the lights on and look out the window to see it is snowing delicately outside, doesn’t your mind instinctively develop a hot chocolate craving? Not to mention that it’s so cold out that sometimes you want to drink something other than coffee to warm you up. This Gingerbread Cocoa is warm cup of festive comfy goodness.

Cocoa, sugar, apple pie spice, and ground ginger are combined with milk and whisked together until warm and smooth. The cocoa and spices melt away and develop a warm, subtle spicy flavor that will make anyone wonder what’s in this milky cup. This recipe called for a gallon of milk which was a little more hot cocoa than I needed so I cut this recipe in half… and in half again. I also used unsweetened vanilla almond milk because I’m crushing on it lately and it’s what I had on hand. The result was a creamy, chocolate-y thing that makes you go hmm. And perfect for a snowy day.

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Whisk together first sugar, cocoa, apple pie spice, and ground ginger in a pot or Dutch oven until blended; gradually whisk in milk.

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Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

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Transfer to a slow cooker, and keep warm on LOW, if desired.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Southern Living magazine

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