Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Double Doozies

Hello my friends; do I have a treat for you! The other day at school, a mom brought us some chocolate cupcakes with peppermint icing. Since then, I have been on a quest to find out how to make this addictive icing, and what do you know, I found it. I am not, however, the biggest cupcake fan, but I do love a good cookie. That's when I decided to find a chocolate cookie recipe.

Today, both of my searches were completed, and it was time to put my idea to the test. I created the most decadent double doozie imaginable. The normal double doozie can be found at the mall with a chocolate chip cookie and vanilla icing, but mine are double chocolate chunk cookies with a peppermint buttercream icing. Oh, they were delicious. They are extremely rich and perfect with a glass of milk.

Enough talk; here's how you make these delightful little sandwiches:

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter at room temperature

1/2 cup finely crushed peppermint candy (about 7 peppermint sticks)

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

1 to 2 tablespoons peppermint schnapps or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the peppermint candy, confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1 tablespoon peppermint schnapps. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting lightens and is fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend up to 1 tablespoon milk or peppermint schnapps if the frosting seems to stiff.

Chocolate Cookies:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 t. salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. First sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt and then add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a small ice cream scoop or two spoons, place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake for approximately 8 - 10 minutes or until the cookies are still soft in the center but are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 - 3 inch round cookies.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peppermint Inspired Tables

I'm on a peppermint kick, I know. I can't help myself. I'm so excited about Christmas. This weekend as I was taking out my Christmas decorations, I found myself thinking that I had less than I remembered, which is fine, but I have found myself scouring the internet to find easy to make, cheap to buy decorations that don't look like either of those things. I keep telling myself that the tree isn't up yet, and that will make the difference, but I am keeping some of these ideas on the back-burner. Until then, here are some of the lovely red and white tables (and a kitchen just for kicks) that's I'll be keeping my eye on.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Biscotti

This Saturday, we are having a women's gift exchange at church. The rules are that you can buy, bake or make a gift. Each person brings six of the same gifts. I didn't have time to make something crafty that looks smart at the same time, and I've spent enough money this month, so I decided to make cookie plates. This is my first batch since these can easily be made ahead of time. I probably shouldn't have made them this early though because I fear that my husband is going to eat them all!

These cookies are so dainty and absolutely perfect. Scott said he wouldn't change a thing (which I take as a high compliment because he can usually find at least something to tweak.) These are the perfect biscotti to make if you have never made them before... Plus you can get out some of the holiday stress by beating the peppermints to smithereens on your counter. I hope you can try to make them, or just come to church on Saturday, and you can be the lucky recipient of one of my cookie plates.


½ cup sugar

½ cup butter, melted

½ teaspoon peppermint extract

3 eggs

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup miniature chocolate chips

½ cup crushed peppermint candy


Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, peppermint extract and eggs until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide dough in ½. Shape each half into two - two inch logs on the baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden; cool for 15 minutes. Cut rectangles crosswise into ½ inch slices. Place cut sides down, on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until light and crisp.

Picture Source

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Wait! Before you close this post because of your ideas of other split peas soup, you have to give this one a chance. I promise it's not a muddy green color! Instead, it's fresh with frozen peas, carrots and bacon. It is absolutely not a split pea soup.
Here is the recipe:
4 strips thick-sliced bacon
1 cup diced onion
2 carrots, sliced
1 very small head of cabbage
1/2 t. caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried split peas, rinsed and picked through
1 cup frozen peas
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute bacon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the bacon is crisp, remove it and drain on paper towel.
Add carrot, onion, cabbage and saute until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
Stir in water, broth, and split peas. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until peas begin to soften and break down, about 40 minutes. Stir in frozen peas and Worcestershire sauce. Return to a boil.
Top each serving with bacon, and delight in its easy deliciousness. :)

You could easily make this a Vegetarian meal by omitting the bacon and switching chicken broth out for vegetable broth.

Adapted from Cuisine at Home's Split Pea Supper.
Issue No. 73, February 2009

I'll work on a picture next time... I have a pretty bad camera and awful lighting! Not a great combo for making food look good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup and Sausage-Apple Empanadas

I don't know if you are like me, but when I think of Butternut Squash soup, I think of healthy food that I need to "get down" so I get my daily dose of vegetables. Well this soup made me a believer by taking away the bland flavor and adding a delightful kick. Here is what you need and how to make it:

2 T. each olive oil and butter
1 cup onion, diced
1 T garlic, minced
2 t. minced fresh sage
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/4 cup brandy
8 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1'' chunks
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Finish with:
8 baguette slices, toasted
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

Saute onion, garlic, sage, sugar, pepper flakes, and cinnamon in oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook until onion is soft, about 10 minutes.
Stir brandy into the onion mixture and simmer for 1 minute; add the squash, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Return soup to the pot.
Finish soup with cream, salt and pepper. Preheat broiler to high.
Toast baguette slices on a baking sheet under the broiler; sprinkle with cheese, then broil again to melt cheese 1-2 minutes. Top each soup with a baguette slice.

The soup is great, but the empanadas that accompany are marvelous. I would totally make these for a party, for breakfast or for any occasion that needs a little festivity. Serve these straight from the oven with your butternut squash soup for an absolutely perfect fall feast.

1/4 lb bulk Italian sausage
1/3 Braeburn apple, diced (I used ambrosia apples -- see previous post.)
2 T. chopped pecans
1 T. dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1 T water
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
Grated Parmesan cheese and paprika

Preheat oven to 400; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Saute sausage in a skillet over medium high heat until brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the apple, pecans, then deglaze with the sherry. Season the mixture, then chill while preparing the dough.
Beat the egg and water together; set aside. Roll the pastry dough out onto a floured surface to a 13" square. With a pizza wheel, cut the pastry into 8 triangles as if cutting a pizza.
Fill each triangle with a heaping tablespoon of sausage mixture. Brush the edges with egg wash, fold in half to enclose filling and crimp the edges closed with a fork. Place empanadas on the baking sheet.
Sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Source: Cuisine at Home: Splendid Soups and Sides

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Fall Find : Ambrosia Apples

Everyone talks about how great Honey Crisp apples are, but I never really got into them. They are tasty, but I always thought that the normal Granny Smiths tasted just as great and were easy to cook with or eat. But I have found an apple that rivals both, and I am so happy to share it with you; it's called an Ambrosia Apple.

I found them at Whole Foods, but I haven't looked for them anywhere else. They are so tasty. I have eaten them and baked with them, and they have been perfect each time.

Here are some more facts about the Ambrosia Apple: Considered an all-purpose apple, it is good for eating out of hand, for dessert or with cheese. Ambrosia is slow to oxidize and remains fresh and white for a long time when cut or sliced so it is excellent for salads, fruit plates etc. Ambrosia retains its shape when cooked so is beautiful in open pies or tarts. Ambrosia is harvested in early October and should be in most stores in November. Ambrosia is a sweet, low- acid apple with a heavenly aroma. Crisp in texture, its fine-grained flesh is crunchy and very juicy! It has been called "a very civilized, refined apple, destined to be loved by connoisseurs of the good life everywhere."

Compliments of Organicambrosiaapples.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cranberry Coffee Cake

I realize it has been over a month since my last post, and I will try to do much better! I don't really have any excuse, but I do has a delicious coffee cake as a peace offering. I made this last year for my friend's bridal shower, and was so sad to realize that cranberries are not sold in grocery stores all year long. However, when I was at Whole Foods Monday I saw that they were back, and I had to buy them. Hence the cranberry coffee cake.

This is one of the best coffee cakes ever... anything with nearly four sticks of butter better be good, but this has fruit and nuts too, so it must have some nutritional value. I will not post the calorie count because I think we are better off without it :) but this is something that you can certainly share with lots of friends. Everything in moderation right?

Here's the recipe:

Cranberry Coffee Cake

Cuisine at Home Issue #78

Makes 16 servings

Total Time: 1 ½ hours + Cooling

For the Streusel

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. minced orange zest

For the Cake

1 cup fresh cranberries

2 ¼ cup sugar, divided

Zest of ½ an orange

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. each table salt and cinnamon

½ tsp. baking powder

4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened


Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch-square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the edges to create handles; spray again.

Melt the ½ stick butter; stir in 2/3 cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, pecans, cranberries and orange zest. Set aside.

Pulse fresh cranberries, ¾ cup sugar and zest in a food processor; set aside. Whisk together the 2 cups flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and yolk; set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream the 3 sticks butter and remaining sugar. Add flour mixture and eggs alternately to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan; top with cranberry mixture and the rest of the batter, smoothing each layer. Use a knife to swirl batter and cranberries; top with streusel.

Bake cake 55-60 minutes; cool on rack 20 minutes before serving.

It's super easy and very delicious. I hope you can find someone to share it with!

I promise I won't be an awful blogger... I've got lots to share!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peachy Keen

I am going to be a copy cat, but I can't help it. Tonight, around 8:30, I decided I must make some type of dessert. Yesterday I bought Freestone Peaches at Paul's Fruit Market, and I knew exactly what I could make. I had seen the recipe for Peach Crumble Bars on Annie's Eats, so I decided to make them to eat tonight and to share tomorrow. This was the best thing I did ALL day! The recipe called for 5 cups of peaches, but I only had four, so I added 1 cup of frozen blueberries. I ran them under water so they wouldn't get the crust all soggy. Like I said, they are soooo good! You must make these before the peach season ends. Click on the picture to find the recipe!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Creamy Italian White Bean Soup

So sorry for the long absence! School has started again...so my time here has been few and far between. :( Despite my schedule, I am have no excuse to not make this. I think from the moment I started until the moment I finished, it took about 20 minutes to make! So try it for yourself. Hopefully I'll see you again soon!

Image Source

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3(16 ounce) cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (32 ounce) cartonchicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large saucepan, heat oil. Cook onion and celery in oil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, continually stirring. Stir in beans, chicken broth, pepper, thyme and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for 15 minutes.

With slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of the bean and vegetable mixture from soup and set aside.

In blender at low speed, blend remaining soup in small batches until smooth, (it helps to remove the center piece of the blender lid to allow steam to escape.) Once blended pour soup back into stock pot and stir in reserved beans.

Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring. Stir in spinach and cook 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat and serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Almond Crumble Peach Muffins

I love peach season! These muffins are moist and have the perfect sweetness. I took them to a faculty meeting, and everyone enjoyed them! The topping is the best; I could just eat that with a spoon. I hope you have a chance to make them before peach season ends!

Makes 18 regular sized muffins.


2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose, if you prefer)
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup plain yogurt (I used vanilla)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peaches, peeled, pitted and diced (about 3 medium peaches)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. vegetable oil (or melted butter)


Prepare the topping: In a bowl, stir together the brown sugar, sliced almonds and cinnamon. Stir in oil or melted butter until topping clumps together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, yogurt, oil, eggs and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the flour mixture. Sprinkle with peaches and stir, just until mixed.

Spoon batter into greased or paper lined muffin cups. Sprinkle with topping.

Bake in a 350° F. oven until tops are firm to the tough, about 25 minutes. let cool in the pan placed on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Source: Canadian Living

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Adobo Pulled Pork

All I can say about this recipe is mmmm. I have made this pulled pork twice now in two weeks, and both times it has been absolutely delicious. This is a perfect go to recipe, and would be wonderful for company for many reasons. You can serve it with lots of different side items, and you can cook it, and simply take it out of the oven when it is time to eat. The beauty of this is that you just throw everything in a pot, and then you leave it alone for 3 hours. This is my type of meal! Here is how you make it:

Juice of one orange
Juice of two limes
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil2 Tablespoons coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons canned chipotle peppers, chopped
6 pound pork roast, leg or shoulder (mine was 2 1/2 lbs, and I kept everything else the same -- still tasted great and tender)
1 cup water

Combine the first 10 ingredients in a heavy duty zip-top plastic bag. Add pork; seal bag and chill 24 hours, turning occasionally.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven for at least 15 minutes at 400.
Place pork in an ovenproof dish, pour marinade over pork and add water. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.Reduce oven temperature to 300, cover, and cook for about 3 more hours.
Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. To serve, shred pork and mix with its juices.

So here are some menu options:

The first time I made this, I made cilantro lime rice and black beans. Add some queso fresco and voila.
For round two, baby squash and baked sweet potato wheels with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme.

Either way, you will not be disappointed.

I will post pictures of the dish soon -- as you know, my computer continues to act up. Until then, here is where you can find the dish at Disney World.
The Crystal Palace -- Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Roasted Chicken Linguine

It's been a while since I've posted a main course recipe, so of course I turned to my tried and true source: Delicious Disney. This recipe comes from Shutters Restaurant at Disney's Vero Beach Resort. And let me just say, this pasta is sooooo good; it made our house smell simply amazing. I made it so that it was chalked full of herbs; I used fresh basil and oregano (compliments of Scott's mom) and a goat cheese that was encased in herbes de provence. I can't wait to eat the leftovers! By the time the pasta was done, everything else was prepped and ready to go. If you need a fast dinner this is perfect. It took about 15 minutes total to make and about 5 minutes for Scott and I to lick our plates clean. Here's how you make the linguine:

2 1/2 - 3 lb roasted chicken (I took a pound of roasted chicken from Whole Foods' Salad Bar)
1 lb dry linguine
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons pine nuts (I used walnuts because I had them on hand)
1/2 10 ounce bag spinach
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup goat cheese (Farmer's Market Find: Capriole's Herbes de Provence)
1/2 bunch basil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded for garnish

**I did add just a little chicken stock to give it a slight sauce**

Pull chicken from bones and tear into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Cook linguine according to package directors. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Heat all of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds (don’t let it burn). Add sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, stirring until nuts are lightly browned. Add chicken, spinach, and feta and goat cheeses, stirring until creamy. Add linguine and heat through. Add basil, then season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Love : Anthropologie

I know that Anthropologie isn't anything new... but I just adore the store. If I could, I would cover my house in everything from the plush chairs to quirky quilts from here. But I can't, so in the meantime I will just admire from a distance. In fact, Scott literally had to pry me from the store in San Francisco. I was awe-struck. Here are some of the favorites that I need in my house asap.

Bucket Pendant Lamp

What are your favorite things?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Peach Raspberry Preserves

I never wanted to can anything because I was terrified of botchulism. But then, I heard of freezer jam, and I realized that you don't have to worry about it because there is not any heating. So I decided to give home-made jam a try, and boy am I glad I did. Here is what you need to get started:*7 small canning jars*
*1 package pectin (I used Kroger brand)*
*4 fairly large peaches (You will need about 2 1/2 cups smashed)*
*1 cup raspberries (It should round the mashed fruit up to 3 cups)*
*4 1/2 cups sugar*
*2 Tablespoons lemon juice*
*3/4 cup water*


Peal and slice all of the peaches, and place them in a bowl. Add the raspberries, and smash all of the fruit into a mushy mixture. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and mix well. Then bring the water to a boil, and add the pectin. Stir to dissolve for one minute. Pour the water over the fruit and mix well. Fill the jars with the fruit, but leave one - inch of room at the top. Don't forget to wipe the rim and sides with a wet paper towel so that you'll be able to get them open again! Let the jam sit at room temperature for 24 hours, then put it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. This jam must be refrigerated. That's all!

You could substitute any fruits you want, but just make sure that you follow the directions on the pectin box. Enjoy your home-made jam!