Sunday, December 23, 2012

Yummiest Blueberry Muffins

Recipe slightly adapted from Mini Manor Blog

First off I just have to say that this recipe is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.  It is the perfect blueberry muffin! Moist cake, swirled berries on top and a thick streusel topping.  Heaven on Earth.  I highly recommend this recipe. It is not only delicious but super simple and easy too! I made these the other day, froze them tonight and then Christmas morning wa-la! We have homemade muffins!

Blueberry Muffin:
1 1/8 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 eggs
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. 2% milk
3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 t. vanilla 
2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries (I used frozen)

Combine everything together except the berries.  Once your jam and streusel is ready then fold in your berries gently.

1/2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries (I used frozen)
1 T. water
1 t. sugar

Combine in a small saucepan over medium heat.  As it heats through and thickens, mash it constantly with the back of a wooden spoon.  Once a "jam" consistency, take off heat.

* Cooks note: I would double this next time.  It tasted great with these measurements but I really think that a thicker jam on top would be even better *

4 T. brown sugar
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. flour
5 T. melted butter

Combine all together in bowl.  It will be like a pie dough consistency.  This is normal.  Once it gets to that stage, crumble into little pieces.

To assemble muffins, fill 24 paper lined muffin cups with the blueberry muffin batter.  Top with a dollop of the blueberry "jam" and swirl with a skewer to make a pretty design and disperse it.  Then top with streusel topping.  

Bake each pan separately at 375 for 15-20 minutes.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Recipe from Our Best Bites

Last night the Hubby and I had a date night.  We went shopping, out to dinner, got some dessert and drove around watching Christmas light displays while we listened to Christmas music.  There is just something about eating a Salted Carmel Brownie from your favorite bakery while Nat King Cole serenades you as you drive around watching amazing light displays that makes you really feel the Christmas spirit.

Something else that has helped me also get into that Christmas spirit is watching "White Christmas" (Bing Crosby, you have the voice of an angel) and making these Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

I thought this would be a fun Christmas cookie to make because c'mon, look at 'em! Chewy chocolate cookies mashed around fluffy peppermint frosting and rolled in crushed candy canes.  If that isn't a Christmas cookie then I don't know what is folks.

Have fun making these cookies for Santa!

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
5 T. butter
1 T. water
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 stick butter, room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. mint extract (taste as you go, you may want more)
milk as needed for consistency (barely any-just a splash or two)
2 drops red food coloring

To make cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.

In medium saucepan combine 5 T. butter, chocolate chips, brown sugar and water.  Heat over medium until melted.  Transfer chocolate mixture to mixing bowl.

Beat in egg.  Add dry ingredients and mix until it just comes together (don't over mix).

Measure out scant tablespoons of dough, roll and place on cookie sheets (the dough will be soft, this is normal.  If it feels too soft stick in fridge for a few minutes).  You want 12 balls per cookie sheet spaced out fairly far apart (you will have a bit of dough left over to do another cookie sheet).  Bake each cookie sheet for 7-8 minutes (you want to slightly under bake them).  Take out, let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to cooling racks to let cool off completely.

While cookies are cooling, combine all of your frosting ingredients and mix together in stand mixer or with a hand mixer and whip until nice and fluffy.  You want a nice, stiff frosting.  

Once cookies have completely cooled, spread half of the cookies with the frosting, then top with other cookies to make sandwiches.  Roll in crushed candy canes.

Easy Chili

As fun as the holidays can be they can also be stressful.  And I don't know about you but even though I love to cook and bake I don't want to be in the kitchen all day on Christmas.  Been there, done that and don't want to do that no mo'!

I got this amazing, easy chili recipe from my wonderful Sister-In-Law Chelsy.  It is a family tradition of theirs to have it every Halloween and when we visited them in October she made it for us! 

And when I say it is easy, cheap and delicious I truly mean it! The ingredient list is small but packs a punch when it comes to flavor.  It is also extremely light on your wallet!

I hope you make it! It is a healthy, hearty and well balanced meal that will be enjoyed by everybody!

1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can red beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can light kidney beans
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
12 oz jar salsa
1 lb ground beef, browned (I have never added this but you can if you want to)

Combine all together in a crock pot.  Cook over medium heat for 4-5 hours or until heated through.  Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baked Ziti

Recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

First off I just want to say that this dish will make you want to sing Christmas carols! It is so comforting, delicious and festive! It's the perfect casserole to have during any cold, Winter months.

If this were the Olympics I would give this dish a "10".

2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 lb Italian Sausage
1 lb ground beef
28 ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
2 cans (14.5 ounce) tomato sauce or marina sauce
2 t. Italian Seasoning
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces ziti, cooked until not quite al dente
15 ounce tub whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated from a block)
1 egg
fresh or dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium heat.  Toss in garlic and onion and heat for 5-8 minutes until onions are cooked down a bit and softened.  Add the sausage and beef and cook until browned.  Drain off most of the fat.  

Add tomatoes, tomato juice or marinara, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.  Stir and simmer for 25-30 minutes to let all the flavors blend.

While this is simmering, cook your pasta till it's cooked right before the al dente stage.  You want it to still have a bit of a bite to it so it doesn't get too soggy later on.  Drain and rinse with cold water to immediately stop the cooking process.

After the tomato sauce has simmered measure out 3-4 cups of sauce into another bowl and let it cool down.  

In a separate bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 2 c. mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, egg and a little bit of salt and pepper.  Stir just a couple times, you still want it to be slightly lumpy.

Pour the pasta into the bowl with the ricotta mixture and combine.  Add in the cooled tomato sauce mixture and combine.  Spread half of this in a 9x13 pan.  Top with half of the leftover tomato sauce.  Then top with half of the leftover mozzarella cheese.  Repeat the layer again with the pasta, tomato sauce and ending with the cheese.  

Bake 25-30 minutes until nice and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Top with a little fresh or dried parsley.  Enjoy! 

Last Minute Gift Idea - Cookie Mix

Happy Holidays ya'll! I hope that you have completely immersed yourself into the Holiday season and have really enjoyed all of the magic that this time of year brings.  

I made sure that this year I started decorating for Christmas even before Thanksgiving so that I could REALLY enjoy this time of year.  The reason why I did this is because it seems like Christmas comes and goes ridiculously fast! So for those of you who didn't start decorating before Thanksgiving and who need a last minute present idea, this simple and cheap project is for you.

First off, this project is all about deception.  People are going to think that you slaved away putting together a "homemade" cookie mix for them when in actuality, you are just giving them a pre-done mix from good 'ol Betty Crocker.  

Now some of you at this point may be turning up your nose at this project because it's not "homemade".  But hear me out! I have cooked with some of these mixes and they are awesome! I love to cook and bake and I find that these mixes are very close to "homemade" tasting.  

For my cute little cookie mixes I used her Gingerbread mix (oh my heavens does it smell and taste delightful!) but I only have a picture of the Pumpkin Spice because I accidentally deleted my Gingerbread picture.  That was definitely a "blonde" moment.  

Any who, for this simple project I just plopped the cookie mix into an adorable red damask plastic bag from Michaels (I believe it was 24 for $1.99), wrote out a tag with the instructions and then tied a cookie cutter onto the bag with some tulle and raffia.  And wa-la! I have an easy and great present to give! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sante Fe Stuffed Peppers

Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste

First off, Happy Holidays! I hope everyone is having a wonderful time getting ready for Christmas.  It really is a special time of year and since I have a lot of time off of work this month you will see a lot more recipes from me in the next couple weeks.  I know, I know.  I just made your day right? I thought so.

The only problem is that there are just too many recipes out there I want to try! Fo sure (yes I meant to put "fo sure" instead of "for sure".  I'm ghetto like that yo!) over the next couple weeks you will see Baked Ziti, The Best Blueberry Muffins and Pumpkin Cheesecake With Pecan Gingersnap Crust (I made this at Thanksgiving and it is the best cheesecake I have ever had.  Praise be to the powers who created this recipe!).  I also have a cute, cheap and fast Christmas gift idea for you that will be posted tomorrow.

Okay, so let's get this party started!

This recipe is truly delicious.  The best thing about it are the flavors.  It is spicy without being too spicy, meaning that it is great for anyone!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I enjoyed it so much that I ate 3.  Yikes!

6 green bell peppers (tops cut off, seeds taken out and cut in half lengthwise)
1 lb ground beef (the leanest you can find)
kosher salt
8 T. diced white onion
2 jalapenos, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (I just use the jarred stuff from Costco)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 t. cumin
2 t. taco seasoning
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. shredded pepper jack cheese

For Garnish: light sour cream and chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray large stock pot with cooking spray.  Toss in your beef and some kosher salt to taste and cook until browned.

Add onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, garlic, black beans, cumin and taco seasoning.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Uncover and throw in the corn.  Crank up the heat to about medium to medium high and cook for 8-10 minutes or until any residual liquid is gone.

Lay your peppers in a 9x13 and also an 8x8 pan (we're making a lot of food here folks!).

Evenly spoon your beef mixture amongst the peppers (I did mine using a large cookie scoop).

Give those babies a bath and pour in a tiny bit of water into each pan so that it barely, barely covers the bottom.

Tightly cover both pans with foil and stick 'em in the oven for 45 minutes so that the peppers can soften (you could probably get away with 30-35 minutes if you want leftovers because otherwise they may become too soft for leftovers).

Take 'em out and uncover.  Sprinkle with the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.

Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Take out and garnish with a side of light sour cream and green onion.