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Thanksgiving Treats

28 Nov

Oh, Thanksgiving. My favorite, most delicious holiday, and the day I always make a dessert trifle.

All of you FRIENDS fans must remember the Thanksgiving episode where Rachel makes the crazy jam, custard and beef trifle. Since that is my favorite show of all time, and one of my favorite episodes, for that past six or so years I’ve been making a trifle to celebrate the holiday. No beef though, just sweetness.

I always make my trifle a little different, and this year I went with a simple combination of Bailey’s brownies, fresh whipped cream, melted chocolate and crushed mini Oreos.

Bailey’s in brownies is amazing, I’ve already made some for my next dessert event, so easy too! I just subbed most of the water in the recipe for the liquor. They smell and taste decadent.

My whipped cream recipe is simple as well. Just whip up some heavy cream with a spoonful of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla. Be sure to chill the bowl and the whisk before beginning.

I really enjoyed the combination of thick brownies and lots and LOTS of whipped cream.

 

We also got together the Saturday after Thanksgiving at my house where I attempted to make French Silk pie. I figured it’s time for me to start working on some desserts I’m not too familiar with for my audition next weekend!

The crust was so easy and delicious. I used Carla Hall’s Perfect Pie Crust from The Chew. It was flawless. The flaws came later, when I attempted to make a filling from an App on my phone. Major fail, it was grainy and gross. Since I didn’t want to spend the entire night in the kitchen, I made a quick decision to melt an entire bag of milk chocolate chips and spread that in my crust, then I made some more whipped cream and topped it with that. Honestly I thought it was pretty delicious. It was nothing like french silk pie, but it was pretty yummy and I’d like some right now!

I also made mini pie crust cups for ice cream – loved these! Plus, they were great to send home with my nieces and nephews to enjoy whenever they wanted a crunchy cup.

Saturday morning I spent the day walking around Chicago tasting chocolate with my sister-in-law to be, Erin, so I have to say I had a really sugary few days – I hope you all had a sweet Thanksgiving weekend too!

Oh – and I made these mac & cheese cups as an appetizer!

And of course, honey butter!

There Were Desserts

8 Nov

the last two months, there just wasn’t typing/writing about them. Why? You may ask? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because I started working on social media campaigns for my job as part-time host of the BIG Radio Shopping Show, maybe it’s because I’m currently spending an hour a day watching General Hospital, or maybe it’s because I just forgot. Oops.

Either way, I’ve definitely been making and eating some deliciousnesses since those amazing jell-o jigglers. 

Here they are.

SEPTEMBERFEST was filled with Nutella Cupcakes

 

Cinnamon Swirl Breakfast Bread

Cute Pancakes including one for Sonny

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

And some of those super fantastic cinnamon brownies!

 

Next up – My sister’s birthday. I threw together some festive fall treats for Marilee’s celebration, and then I double dipped these items for a celebration the next day too, celebrating choosing dresses for my brother’s wedding with the other bridesmaids!

Cinnamon Chip Brown Sugar Drop Cookies

Funfetti Bites

 

And an amazing pumpkin cake with whipped brown sugar cream cheese frosting, which I surprisingly loved.

 

And, of course, Halloween meant some chocolate treats. Halloween Oreos filled brownies. Amazing.

 

Questions? Comments? You know where to find me! Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

Brunch is Better than Lunch

11 Apr

Lunch just makes me think of my dad asking for a sandwich. Boring. Brunch is filled with all of the things you could ever want, really, there are not rules at brunch.

I think next year I’ll give up something other than dessert for lent.

My reasons are multi-fold. Number 1, it wasn’t actually as difficult as I expected it to be. This may be because I turned to pizza and toast as “fun foods,” or because I wasn’t really able to spend a lot on ingredients, Number 2, I didn’t gain anything but a stomach-ache for the last three days when I reintroduced (and by that I mean overloaded) myself with candy, and Number 3, I just missed baking, making and writing here! I’ll just have to rethink this in about 10 months.

I have three things to write about, but I think I’ll do them backwards, because the best was the most recent – Easter brunch! Because my parents were on a cruise up until 9:00pm the night before Easter, I was the leader of the brunch. I have no problems doing that, just hand me a credit card and a full day for prep work and I’m ready. Plus it helped that I have fun little people to bake for and fun grown-ups who supplied the champagne.

I spent some time (ok, I spent a few days) deciding what I wanted to make (technically these aren’t all desserts, but they all did bake in the oven). I wanted an easy, overnight french toast and then a completely opposite egg bake – no bread. We had toast, of course, but I wanted to make something slightly healthy or at least give my eaters a choice.

I found a super awesome recipe for what I called the Egg Bake, and then I michelle-ed it. The recipe calls for spinach, green onions, mozzarella cheese and 8 eggs. I changed it by swapping out the onions for asparagus (which I chopped and roasted the day before), and then I used a bigger pan, 9×13, so I used 2 cups of cheese and 10 eggs. It was super fantastic and relatively healthy.

Then I made another egg bake with the exact same idea, but much heartier ingredients – bacon and potatoes. I cooked some frozen hash browns in a wok and spread them on the bottom of a 9×13 and topped that with super easy oven-roasted bacon. Seriously, go buy some bacon, foil cover a pan, and then 25 minutes later at 400 degrees you’re gonna be very happy. I topped the potatoes with the bacon, a bag of cheddar cheese and 11 eggs. I cooked both at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Next up – apple fritter french toast! I’m usually anti-store brand items, mostly just Jewel and Dominicks brand. I don’t know if maybe we had some weird cookies, oatmeal or what growing up, but I just didn’t like those. Target, however, always has delicious store brand items. I spent about 10 minutes in the bakery aisle, and came upon pure genius, apple fritter breakfast bread. I had a yummy looking recipe picked out, from the Pioneer Woman, but wanted to make it my own, so I swapped the bread for the apple fritter loaf, used half and half instead of cream and accidentally used softened butter in the topping. It was really good, but I definitely want to try it with the right topping and see the difference. I was most excited that all three of my “bakes” turned out, cooked, warm and yummy.

As for dessert, I went to my staple, chocolate covered strawberries. Remember the video? Always throw a little shortening in the chocolate so they look pretty.

Finally, chocolate chip, Oreo, brown sugar, giant brownies. Betty Crocker never steers me wrong. I mixed up the red box, added in 3/4 of the snack size bag of mini Oreos, half a bag of dark chocolate chips, half a bag of milk chocolate chips and about 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Mini Oreos seems liked a better idea than chopping up big ones, I love chocolate chips and I had some weird yearning for brown sugar, so that’s where the add-ins came from. I decided to cut them huge because they looked pretty, but mostly because they were unbelievably gooey and I knew I’d have trouble if I tried to cut them smaller.

We also had pineapple, toast (thanks mom), champagne, and of course, Easter candy.

 

Then I took a 4 hour nap.

Happy Easter!

Triple Treats for your Sweet

19 Feb

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. Flowers, romance, fun…

forget that, I’m just concerned with the chocolate.

In preparation for the sweet holiday, I decided to make three desserts for my roommates (and me) last weekend.

There was the simple dark chocolate kiwi, the sticky cookie dough truffle bars and the swirly strawberry puree champagne.

They were all delicious.

The kiwis were so simple and so cute, unbelievably cute actually. I peeled and sliced and then tried to stick candy sticks in the fruit. Some of them didn’t hold so well, but they were all able to be doused in melted dark chocolate. I’m not kidding when I say these were amazing. I’m pretty sure I ate them all and I’m also pretty sure I’m dipping some more kiwi in chocolate this Saturday to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

Chocolate covered cookie dough balls were equally as chocolate drenched, but a little more difficult, but only really due to my impatient-ness. Mixing the dough was fairly simple. Basically, you make your favorite cookie dough recipe but sub a can of sweetened condensed milk for the eggs and baking soda and/or powder. This makes the dough salmonella-free. Then the patience part came. You should really keep these balls in the fridge or freezer for an hour. I just didn’t want to wait that long to continue my chocolate dipping, and my Sweet Talk episode, so a few of my cookie dough balls were melty when dipped. I managed to wait a bit longer for the rest but the shape was a little droopy because of my insistence to continue. Still a fun activity and twist on the popular cake ball trend.

 

Finally, something sweet to drink! Take some frozen strawberries, puree them in a blender or mini blender or any way you can puree them, pour in a glass and then add the bubbly. Champagne over strawberries took a new, delicious twist.

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday! Happy Valentine’s Day!

The rests

25 Jan

I made three desserts that didn’t fit in my cookie categories of the fudgesthe dropsroll outsthe bars and the minty Oreo balls, and I call these the “rests.” Simply the “rest” wouldn’t be good enough.

I mean, if I had to put these almond biscotti in a category, they would be “the shapes” or “the cuts,” or they could fall into my oops at least they still tasted good category.

My grandpa is a cookie lover. He loves all things sweet, especially if they involve pecans or almonds. I love that he is honest about the sweets I make though. He won’t eat it if it’s gross, which is rare for sugar-lovers. Because he’s such a cookie trooper, I make sure to shape some biscotti for him every year. This one was my last of the bunch. Recipe #18. I think I save it for last because I know I’ll make them for him even if I’m burnt out. I mix and matched some flavors, which orange zest and anise seed and it was a success. I’d only put it in my oops-cookies because I tend to under bake biscotti the first time around and so when I slice them to bake again, they get a little crumbly and end up in my mouth instead of back in the oven. Taste testing is important.

Next we have Almond Cranberry-Chocolate Bark. I got this one from a recipe card in a fitness magazine, and it called for dried cherries, not cranberries, but dried cherries are sparse and pricey and Craisins were already in my cabinet. The christmas red fruit still cheered up the recipe, which is basically melted chocolate poured over toasted almonds and the Craisins. Equally as delicious as it is easy. Quite possibly foolproof.

Finally, for my mom and her hope for a light dessert, Chocolate Chip Meringues. These are pretty fun to whip up (literally whip). They are pretty easy as long as you whip to the right peaks, but most recipes for meringues are clear as to when you need soft or hard peaks. Also, it’s fun to add in your favorite chunks – mini chocolate chips on these. Cute, different, yum.

I’m definitely on a sugar-rush right now as I spent the last three hours diving head first into the office candy collection, hence the run-on sentences. Well, hence more than usual.

That’s the end of my Christmas collection. Sad face. Guess that means I better get to work on Super Bowl sweets and Valentine’s Treats!

The Fudges

8 Jan

If I could only make one dessert for Christmas — which my mom might be happy about, but will never happen — it would be our traditional fudge. I love experimenting with flavors and finding new recipes all over the internet and in cookbooks, but this fudge is not something you mess with or substitute. My mom made this every year for the holidays until I took over and put it at the top of the list. It’s super easy and even more super delicious. I’ve even won contests with it at a 4th of July fest, and made my first ever recipe video through the local newspaper when I was “Cook of the Week.”

Because I love it too much to keep to myself, I’ll give you the recipe:

  • 1 12 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 12 oz pkg milk chocolate chips
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 25 large marshmallows
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)
  •  Mix sugar, milk, vanilla and butter in saucepan. Boil 2 minutes. Turn heat off, add marshmallows, stir. Add chocolate, stir. Add nuts.

See, it’s super simple too! Be aware, it makes a LOT of fudge. I mean I could probably eat half a pan by myself, but I’m a special case.

I’ve never changed the recipe, but I have added things to do – red, white & blue m&ms, crushed Oreos, pecans and caramel (the 4th of July winner), and my favorite, sea salt atop the finished fudge. Such a great add-on.

This Christmas, I felt like one fudge recipe just wouldn’t be enough. I wanted to have a fudge department of my cookie tablescape, so I went to one of my favorite recipe sites, RecipeGirl, and found two great fudges to try: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge and Mint Truffle Fudge. Though the recipe writer, Lori, is pretty amazing with her choices, my desserts differed a bit. Technically with the PB ones, I screwed up the layering process, but with the Mint ones I used the Nestle bag of dark chocolate and mint chips as the fill in, so I probably used a different ratio.

I don’t eat peanut butter but I was told they were pretty delicious, despite the soft consistency – which was definitely due to my layering flub. The mint guys were a great flavor combo and served as an end of the night sweet – plus my niece enjoyed the simplicity of the recipe, it was easy to make with her!

Thanks to Lori for recipe inspiration, what are your favorite fudges? Or better yet, if you could only make or enjoy ONE holiday sweet, which would you pick?

1 of 18

2 Jan

As I mentioned here, my January blogs are probably going to be a mix of December stories and sweets that just didn’t make it in print yet.

Here we go with one (and the only video) of my Christmas desserts. I made 18 this year, I know I’m nuts. Especially since I did them all in 2.5 days. I enjoyed almost every minute though, which is great. That’s why I bake, right? Yes!

These Minty Oreo Balls were my spin on a well-known Oreo-Cream Cheese treat. I decided to flavor it up by adding chopped Andes Candies in the “batter” and dipping the chocolate covered balls in crushed holiday Pretzel Crisps. They were yum-tastic and added a great look to my Christmas table-scape.

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