Sunday, December 9, 2018

♥ STRAWBERRY MINI CAKES


























This little cakes are just the right size for that pop in your mouth deliciousness.   Perfect Christmas treat!

Strawberry Mini Bundt Cakes
 1 cup of flour
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup of sliced strawberries (or much as you wish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bundt pans with baking spray and set aside.

In a bowl mix your sugar, eggs and soft butter. Add the flour slowly to the mix followed by the milk and lemon zest. Lastly, fold the strawberries into your batter.


Pour batter into your mini molds, bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Decorate them with powdered sugar and extra strawberries on top! 

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Pecan Meltaways























I loved these cookies growing up. I can’t remember a Christmas without them. My Mom would make them every year and they were always our traditional cookie that we would leave out for Santa. Every year she would hide a single Hershey’s kiss inside one of these cookies and we would get to pick which one we wanted. Whoever got the kiss when they took a bite would get to open one present early. I love these things. They literally melt in your mouth.



Pecan Meltaways



1 cup finely ground pecans
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse pecans with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar until nuts are very finely ground. Add butter and vanilla, and process until smooth. Scrape down the bowl frequently.
























Add in the flour and continue to blend until dough forms. With floured hands, shape dough by rounded teaspoon full into small balls.  

  
Place cookie dough balls one inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 16 - 18 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are light golden.

































Transfer cookies to wire rack. Cool for 3 minutes, then roll cookies in remaining confectioners' sugar and place back on wire rack to cool. When cookies are completely cool, roll in sugar once again. Repeat with remaining dough and sugar.

 

























Cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.







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My Three Layer Peppermint Fudge




This fudge is so pretty and festive for the holidays. It's always my go to when I want to make a special gift from the heart for friends, family and neighbors.  It takes a few steps, but it is so simple and so fast and so pretty to give away. And it is heavenly!  A layer of rich chocolate fudge covered by a layer of peppermint fudge and topped with a layer of white chocolate fudge!  Then it’s all covered with that familiar peppermint candy crunch.  This fudge is so creamy and so decadent!  Each layer has a distinct flavor of its own and when you bite into it, it melts in your mouth! This is a keeper my friends! 

  My Three Layer Peppermint Fudge

   3 (14 ounce) cans of sweetened condensed milk
   3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
   6 cups chopped white chocolate melting wafers or white chocolate chips
   1 teaspoon peppermint extract
   3 drops red food coloring
   Crushed peppermint candy for topping 

Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with on stick spray and then line it  with parchment paper. Then spray the paper.  I like to let the excess paper hang over the sides to use later as handles to lift out the fudge.























 In a medium non-stick sauce pan, pour in the first can of sweetened condensed milk and set heat too low. Add the semisweet chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour this bottom layer into the prepared dish and smooth out flat with spatula.


Clean that saucepan to use it again.  Pour the second can of sweetened condensed milk in the saucepan and place it over low heat again.  This time, add your white melting wafers or white chocolate chips and stir until white chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Mix in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, 3 drops of red food coloring. Mixture should be pink.  Pour this on top of the bottom layer in your dish and smooth out to the edges with and off-set spatula.


 Clean the same saucepan a final time to use again.  Pour the last can of sweetened condensed milk in the saucepan and place it over low heat again. This time, add you’re the remaining 3 white melting wafers or white chocolate chips and stir until white chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Pour this on top of the peppermint fudge and smooth out to the edges with an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle your crushed peppermint candy all over the top.  I like to cover completely but you can use as much as you’d like.



Place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours. Lift the fudge out by the parchment paper and cut into squares or smaller pieces.


NOTE:  Clean your knife in between cuttings to make sure you don’t get chocolate on your white or pink layers. Store in air tight container or in refrigerator.



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Raspberry Pecan Thumbprint Cookies


























I love this little cookie.  They are easy to make and easy to love.  They are on my holiday table every year but who says they are just a holiday cookie?  I make them all year round and fill the centers with different jellies to change them up a bit. They call for a few simple ingredients you've likely got on hand, they're super-easy to make whenever you want a delicious cookie! 

Raspberry Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons cornmeal
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely chopped pecans 
½ cup raspberry jam


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.

In a bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, nuts and salt and gradually add to butter mixture until blended (dough will come together). 

Pinch off the dough and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press centers of each down with your thumb or end of wooden spoon and bake for 16 to 18 minutes.  Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each indentation.

Cool on rack for 1 minute, then cool completely.


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Thursday, November 22, 2018

♥ Classic Autumn Pumpkin Roll

























So I have been making pumpkin rolls this week to give away to friends and neighbors and to freeze for the holidays. Everyone loves them and they really are easy to make. I changed it up a little this time and instead of sprinkling nutmeg and cinnamon on top, I added these tiny little shavings of white chocolate curls for the top of the whipped cream. I used my small grater for that. If you look close you can see them.
Classic Autumn Pumpkin Roll

For the cake: 


 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup Pumpkin (I use Libby's pure pumpkin)

To make the creamy cream cheese filling:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar, if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan and then line it with parchment or waxed paper. Then grease and flour paper and set aside. Arrange clean thin, damp cotton kitchen towel on counter. Do not use a regular dish towel that might leave impressions or fibers in your cake. Make sure towel is only damp and not wet.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Combine eggs and sugar in large bowl and beat until thickened. Add pumpkin and mix well. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; invert onto prepared towel. Remove pan; carefully peel off paper. Roll up the cake in towel while hot, starting with 10-inch side. Cool completely on wire rack.

Next, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until completely smooth and light. Add the vanilla extract and mix briefly to combine.

Carefully unroll the cake. Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the surface of the cake. Re-roll the cake, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, place the pumpkin roll on a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.


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Homemade Dinner Rolls (Yeast Rolls)


























These are just about the best dinner rolls you will ever have! Soft and light and fluffy and they rise so nicely. Easy to make and the house smells heavenly while they're baking!

Homemade Dinner Rolls (Yeast Rolls)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water (111 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening like Crisco
1 cup cold water
1 egg, well beaten
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, add a pinch of sugar to the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast. Beat in the remaining sugar, salt, shortening, cold water, and egg until well blended.

On low speed, beat in 2 cups of flour and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in enough of the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make soft dough. Place the dough in a well-greased bowl and turn to coat the dough. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes or so. Punch the dough down and refrigerate for 2 hours. The dough will almost double in size. 























Grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pull off pieces of the dough, about a 1/4 cup each and shape into 24 rolls. Place 12 rolls, sides touching in each of the 2 prepared pans. Brush with butter. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size again.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake the rolls until well browned on the top, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes.

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Apple Cranberry Sausage Dressing
























I still make my Mom's dressing after all these years.  There are hundreds of other dressings I could make but there is something about tradition and the fact that this dressing made her the super star every holiday!  It was the dish that brought out all the oooohs and ahhhhs.  She was well known for this dish and everyone loved it. And so I carry on the tradition and will make it for years to come.  In memory of my Mom, I present her.....

Apple Cranberry Sausage Dressing 

6 cups bread cubes
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
5 stalks celery, chopped including leaves
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean Sage Flavored)
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 Fuji or Gala apple, cored and chopped small
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup apple cider
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or more as needed)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 7 - 10 minutes until light golden brown. Transfer to a large bowl.


Add sausage to a large skillet over medium heat, stirring to break up clumps. Cook until browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked sausage and add to bowl with bread. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet and add 2 tablespoons butter.  Add onioncelery and garlic and saut√© for 4-5 minutes until softened. 

























 Add herbs and seasonings and cook for two more minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.  

Pour the mixture over the bread in the bowl and toss until bread cubes are moistNext de-glaze the skillet using the apple cider, stirring the bottom of the skillet to lift bits of onion and celery and garlic. Pour over bread and vegetables. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. 

Mix in the chopped apple and the dried cranberries. Mix again making sure everything is combined. Pour into a buttered 13 by 9 by 2 inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes until golden brown and slightly crisp on top. 











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Sweet Potato Casserole
























I can't remember a Thanksgiving or Christmas that this dish was not front and center on our table.  My Mom used to say it was a "southern thing!" Everyone loves it and it goes fast. Creamy, sweet, and smooth sweet potatoes with a crunchy pecan crusted topping. This is my kind of holiday casserole!

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (3 pounds of yams)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and bake the potatoes for about an hour or until soft and tender.  Let cool before peeling.  Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

























In a large bowl,  add sweet potatoes sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk. With an electric mixer, beat until smooth.  Add in butter and beat again until well blended.  Pour in a buttered 9 x 13 casserole dish and smooth out the top with a rubber spatula.  Set aside.

Pecan Topping

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

























Mix together brown sugar and flour.  Add melted butter and pecans and mix with until crumbly.   Sprinkle topping all over the top of the sweet potatoes.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until browned and hot and bubbly around the sides.
























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Monday, November 5, 2018

Chicken Biscuits 'n' Gravy























Go get your fat pants. You'll put on a few pounds just looking at this one! I can put this recipe way up there with my favorites. Probably just under chicken and dumplings. When I was young, I used to walk home from school wondering what my Mom was cooking for dinner and hoping it was this dish. It is amazing.  It is the ultimate comfort food.  

Chicken Biscuits 'n' Gravy 


Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold buttermilk

























 Whisk together the measured flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the cold butter pieces and toss to just coat them in the flour mixture. Place the bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes. 

 

Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, and working quickly so as not to soften the butter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it’s in pea-size pieces. Drizzle in the buttermilk and stir just until moist and dough comes together.

Generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the surface and dust the top with more flour. Using floured hands, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick circle. Using a 2-1/2-inch round cutter dipped in flour, cut out as many biscuits as possible (press straight down through the dough—do not twist the cutter, or the biscuits will not rise properly).

























Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps into a ball, pat it into a 1-inch-thick circle, and cut out more biscuits. Repeat as needed until you have 8 total. Discard any remaining dough. Bake until the biscuits have risen and are golden brown on top, about 15 to 16 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the gravy.

























Gravy

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
3 1/2 cups whole milk or half and half
1 rotisserie chicken, torn into pieces (breast or thighs or both)

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain well and set aside. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the flour, salt and pepper. You can add a pinch of cayenne here if you’d like to kick it up a bit. Cook, stirring frequently, until the raw taste of the flour has cooked off, about 1 minute.

























Gradually stir in the milk, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue simmering, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 1 minute more (the gravy will continue to thicken as it sits). Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Add the torn chicken pieces and the potatoes and stir to combine. Simmer on low heat for about 20 more minutes stirring every few minutes.  Serve in bowl or plate and top with a biscuit!

























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