Chocolate Saltine Pecan Crunch

chocolatesaltines

Every year for the last 3 years I have made chocolate crunch with different layers of chocolate. This year I wanted to try something new. I thought using chocolate and saltines was the weirdest combination until I tasted it! To my surprise it was awesome! Crunchy, sweet, salty, it has everything you want in a chocolate crunch recipe.  I’ve added a bit more then pecans as you will see in my ingredients. Chocolate saltine pecan crunch is great for the holidays, or any day for that matter. I plan to take mine to my brother’s house for New Years Eve, if it lasts the next few days in my house!

Ingredients

2 sticks butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 bag white chocolate chips

1/2 cup heath bar bits

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 sleeve saltine crackers, about 40

First you’ll want to line up your crackers side by side in a baking tray. Next a medium sized pan, melt your butter and add brown sugar.  When combined and melted, immediately pour on top of crackers. Spread out with a spatula until every cracker is covered in sugar and butter. Next while the mixture is still hot, sprinkle on your chocolate chips. Let them melt for a minute and spread the chocolate out until covering the crackers as well. Next, take your pecans, and heath bar, and add as your topping. Let sit for a few minutes and cool in the refrigerator until firm enough to break into pieces. Once it has cooled enough cut or break off into what ever size crunch you like. Place on a dish or store in Tupperware for safe keeping! Enjoy!

Recommendations

Add chocolate bars on top instead of chips for melting.

Use another type of chocolate completely instead of white.

Add, dried fruits, other nuts, granola, or anything you can think of as a favorite topping.

Christmas Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Christmas Cut Out Sugar Cookies

         So it’s a few days until Christmas so I wanted to make one more type of cookie. This Christmas cut out cookie recipe is light, buttery, and so good you’ll want to eat them all! You know can’t though right, or at least you shouldn’t! The thing I love about these cookies is that they stay soft, and are so simple and quick to prepare. I actually made half of the batch last night, and have some cookie dough leftover in my fridge to make today. You may want to freeze your dough too if you don’t have time to make them all the same day. Let’s get started with how I made them.

            Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

canned frosting

food coloring

sprinkles, edible sugar pearls, French dragees

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in your eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating until smooth. Wrap dough in heavy-duty plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour. This makes the dough easier to roll out later on.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

Next on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut with assorted holiday cookie cutters and place  at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned.  Let your cookies cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove from pans with your spatula and cool completely on wire racks.

To ice your cookies, you can use this recipe below, or use frosting from a can and add food coloring. That is what I did. I used cream cheese frosting and added my food coloring. You can make your frosting as light or as dark as you like.

Edible Paint Icing:

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Food coloring, optional

In a medium bowl, combine water and meringue powder; whisk until foamy. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add food coloring, if desired. Use immediately.

 

Rana’s Ravioli in Light Tomato Sauce

rana truffle ravioliAbout a week ago my husband and I attended an event in New York City for a special marble piece he took part in making. It was a beautiful evening with lots of people, and great food! Ravioli were being served all night from a company called Rana.  As a matter of fact, we each got a goodie bag of fresh ravioli to take home, I was thrilled. Tonight I think it’s time to eat them, so I’ve decided to make a light tomato sauce to spotlight the ravioli more. The ravioli they gave us are truffle ravioli with mascarpone cheese!  Here’s what you’ll need to make my light tomato sauce.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp. butter

1 small onion

2 tbsp. olive oil

1-15 ounce can tomatoes

dried parsley

salt and pepper

dried oregano

dried basil

1/2 cup half and half or cream for more richness.

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

In a large pot add enough water to allow for 2 packages of Rana ravioli. Approximately 24 ravioli. Once water has boiled cook ravioli as instructed on package. Set aside once ravioli are done.

In a medium sauce pan melt your butter and add olive oil. Add your onion, sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add garlic. Cook another 2 minutes. Next add your tomato sauce and simmer on medium low. Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley and half and half. Let your sauce cook for an hour on low. I always add more parmesan cheese at the end of my cooking time. You can plate your ravioli, and top with tomato sauce and more parmesan cheese.  This recipe serves 4 with 6 ravioli each. Enjoy!

Some things you may want to change are:

Using fat free half and half, or a light cream, or milk

Using fresh herbs for dried (here’s how I dried my oregano)

Switching to a different pasta besides ravioli.

This sauce can be used right away or put away in your freezer for another time.

Hershey Peppermint Kiss Cookies

hersheys  kisses chrismas cookies

Back to holiday baking today, and had some Hershey’s peppermint chocolate kisses on hand. These cookies are sweet, minty, and oh so good! They are popular to make at Christmas time, and pretty easy to prepare.  As you can see in my picture, I have bundled them up in a cute cookie tin. I think these make a perfect sweet holiday gift to share with friends and family. Save some for yourself though, after all your the one making them, you must taste them before giving them away! Here’s the Hershey’s Kisses Christmas Cookie recipe I’ve come to love…

Ingredients

1 bag Hershey’s Kisses Candy Cane Kisses
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
Red and Green colored sugar, optional

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove wrappers from candies (approx. 35)

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg until well blended. Next blend together flour, baking soda and salt. Add milk to butter mixture . Beat until well blended.

Next, shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in red and green colored sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. (you can make your cookies as small or as large as you wish by the way).

Bake 8 – 1o minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool 2 to 3 minutes. Gently press Hershey’s kiss into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack and let cool completely. Yields approximately 35 cookies depending on size you choose.

You can store them in a tin once the Hershey’s kiss has totally hardened. You may also freeze in an air tight container wrapped with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Bacon Egg and Cheese Breakfast Strata

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast StrataIt’s lightly snowing today, I am off from work, and the baby is still sleeping. Wanted to make something comforting, so why not a bacon, egg and cheese strata! I have made stratas in the past and they are always a winner. Stratas are so simple to make.  You can even prepare them the night before, and pop them in your refrigerator to bake in the morning. Mine however will be baked as soon as I am done preparing it. I can’t wait! My house smells of bacon as I type this. Yum! Soon it will be time to slice up some strata for me and Julian. This strata is definitely not a diet food, however, there is broccoli involved, and that’s good ;o)

 Here is how my breakfast strata was made…

Ingredients

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 small onion, diced

salt and pepper

grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups cheddar shredded

6 cups Italian bread cut up

5 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk of your choice

6 slices bacon

1 cup Oreida potato tots

In a frying pan or toaster oven cook 6 slices of bacon. This morning I used my toaster oven, and it took about 20 minutes on 350 degrees.  I prefer this method because of the oil splashing on my stove. After it has cooked set your bacon aside on paper towel lined dish until ready to use. Meanwhile, keep your toaster oven on warm for now if your going to use it for your recipe.

In a medium sized pan, sauté your onions, in butter and olive oil. Cook on medium low for a few minutes.  Add your broccoli next, cook for  5 minutes until softened. Next add salt, pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg to your onions and broccoli. While that’s cooking, shred your cheddar cheese, and cut up your Italian bread. Set them aside.( I want to say you can use whatever bread you love in this recipe. ) In a small bowl beat your eggs, and add your milk , potato tots half of your cheddar cheese.  After your onions and broccoli cool, mix them with your egg mixture.  To a buttered baking dish add your Italian bread pieces, next pour entire egg and broccoli mixture, and lightly press down to allow bread to soak up all the flavors. Sprinkle leftover cheddar and crumble bacon on top! Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. It may depend on your oven, or toaster oven with cooking time. You can also feel it it’s slightly firm. If it is , it’s done!  Top with sour cream for extra goodness…I’m out of it, too bad! Grab a fork and take a bite. You won’t be sorry ;o)

White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

white chocolate peppermint cookies

Ok so I love peppermint, I love peppermint and chocolate even more…
Today I made white chocolate peppermint cookies. It’s the first cookie on my Christmas cookie list, and they were a big hit! Both my husband and my little one loved them, and I even shared some with my good neighbor. I found this easy recipe on the back of my white Ghirardelli chocolate chips, and the only thing I really added was peppermint extract, red chocolate chips from Nestle, plus crushed candy canes for a minty topping. I know you will enjoy these, and perhaps you’ve already made them. I just wanted to share with you how I made them.

Ingredients

1 cup butter, (2 sticks) room temp
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons peppermint extract
3 cups unsifted flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
1/2 cup Nestle red chocolate chips, ( see side note at bottom)
2 tablespoons peppermint extract
crushed candy canes

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl cream your granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter until fluffy. Add your vanilla, eggs, and peppermint extract. Beat well. In another bowl add your flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in your white and red chocolate chips. Crush your candy canes and sprinkle on top of cookies. On an ungreased cookie sheet drop teaspoon sized dough and bake for 10-12 minutes. You can make your cookies your own size, I got approximately 5 dozen cookies!

Ok for the red chocolate chips I had to separate a bag of Nestlé’s holiday chips which had brown and green chips as well. I literally took all the red ones and added them to my recipe. Easy as that! You may freeze these, or chomp on them with friends and family right after they are done baking! Enjoy!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

creamy broccoli soupThere’s nothing like a bowl of creamy broccoli soup! Made this last night as a quick addition to my dinner, and is was pretty good if I do say so myself. I’ve tweaked this recipe a little to my liking by adding more milk then chicken stock, and it added a lot of creamy goodness! You can whip is up in a snap, and have it on your dinner table in under an hour. I used frozen broccoli florets in my recipe, but you may use fresh broccoli too. Here is how you can make this delicious creamy broccoli soup…

Ingredients You’ll Need

1 pound of broccoli, fresh or frozen

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 garlic cloves

1 small onion

1-2 tablespoons of flour

2 cups milk, any type

1/4 cup half and half

2 cups chicken stock, low sodium is what I used

salt and pepper to taste

nutmeg, just a dash

parmesan cheese for topping

bread sticks, sesame crackers, croutons, or whatever you like to dip into your soup.

In a large pot add your olive oil, butter, garlic, and onion. Let them soften a couple of minutes. Next add flour, this makes your soup thicken, stir well. Then add your chicken stock, milk, half and half, nutmeg, and of course broccoli. Let your soup cook on medium heat until broccoli is soft enough to puree in your blender. Mine took 30 minutes since my broccoli was frozen. Next puree your soup in batches in a blender, and add back to your initial pot. Taste your soup, this is where you add salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. You may serve your soup in a bread bowl, yum, or have some crackers or croutons on the side. This recipe can serve 4-6 people depending how much you fill your bowls! Enjoy!