Countdown to 2017: Best Dessert

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You can never go wrong with dessert. At least, that's what I like to tell myself. Today I'm linking up with other bloggers to share the best dessert recipes from 2016 with you.

Sarah over at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes is the brains behind all of this!

These adorable hand pies are super easy to make with just a few ingredients and a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Or, use any cookie cutter shape that you'd like, but don't forget Valentine's day is only a little over 50 days away!


Oh.My.Chocolately.Goodness. If you like smores, you're going to love these cookies! You can cheat and purchase store-bought cookies like I did and then just slather them with chocolate frosting and a dollop of marshmallow fluff, then roll them in crushed graham crackers. I took these to my friends party and once the kids found them, they legit disappeared in the blink of an eye.


I can't even blame you for loving these brownies. Hot fudge always makes me feel like I'm eating something a little bit naughty, but combining it with the decadence of cheesecake and then piling all that goodness on top of a rich brownie? It's chocolate cheesecake overload in the best way possible. If you can manage to freeze some of these, I can also tell you that when you cave and eat one half-thawed, it's still as delicious as the first go-round.



To be honest, I'm surprised I didn't have more dessert recipes to share with you. Maybe you're all actually doing that thing where you eat pretty healthy. I should probably try that again since I have a cruise in 70+ days!




Countdown to 2017: Best Main Dishes

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I'm continuing the countdown to 2017 with Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. Today's countdown is for the best main dishes.

If there is anything I feel like I overshare on this blog it is main dish recipes. But, nearly everyone eats dinner right? And you likely have a main dish for dinner, so at least it makes sense.

I intended to choose the best recipe from each of the main dish categories on my blog, but unfortunately, there were a few where I didn't share a recipe in it all year! That will definitely be remedied for 2017!



Good to know you all aren't scared away by incredibly long recipe names. I mean, good grief, I'm not sure I could make a longer recipe name! But at least you know exactly what you're getting into with this recipe, right? Just reading the title leaves my mouth watering for that amazing Honey Whiskey BBQ Sauce again. After making the sauce, the slow cooker does the rest of the work for you, so I highly recommend getting this recipe on your to-make list right away!


Do you buy sauerkraut in the can or in the package? And have you ever managed to use it all up at once? I never have, which is why I was so glad to find this recipe. Now every time we have a dish using sauerkraut and I have some leftover, I add this recipe to the list and we use it all up! These meatballs eat like a meal on their own with the addition of rice and the sauerkraut mixed into the sauce gives the right amount of acidity to get through the fatty meatball. But if that's not enough for you, these are also great served with mashed potatoes!


As someone who feels like I'm serving pork tenderloin the same way over and over again, finding this recipe was amazing. Battered and fried, it completely changes up your typical baked, roasted or pan seared pork. And topping it with a relish including corn, bell pepper and cream cheese? Sold! 

If you roast the spaghetti squash in advance, this meal comes together in no time at all. I love that with just a few ingredients you can get such a flavorful and healthy dish. The added seasonings to the chicken sausage definitely help this recipe out, so be prepared to add spices if you choose a sweet or mild chicken sausage instead.


I love burgers. I love salad. I'm incredibly disappointed with myself that I never thought to combine the two before! Using traditional burger condiments to create a salad dressing really makes it feel like you're not eating a salad instead of a burger as punishment. You can't even tell this is a healthier choice!


Finding a good chili recipe is a hard thing to do. Over the years I've found that I prefer a turkey based chili to a beef one and that you can absolutely never go wrong with spice. This chili has chipotle chilies for heat.  




Countdown to 2017: Best Appetizers and Snacks

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Hi strangers. It's been a while since I've last posted. Sorry about that!

Sarah, of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, hosts an event the last week of every year to highlight the recipes made during that year. I've had plans to participate in this for some time now but never managed to get the posts scheduled in time to share. Not this year!

We're starting off the week with the best appetizers and snacks, which are right up my alley. I could host appetizer parties once a month and be the happiest person ever. When going back through my recipes for this year I was surprised to find that I didn't share as many of them with you as I thought I did.



Nevertheless, here's a combination of my favorites and your favorites (based on pins and page views)!

Funnily enough, we're having these meatballs on Wednesday. I love changing up the traditional ground beef style meatball and using another choice like chicken. These meatballs are light and pack a real punch of heat, hence the "firecracker" in the name.


I love that you all love these as much as I do! I just served these again on Christmas. The longest part about making this recipe is waiting for the cream cheese to soften up, and that's if you don't cheat and warm it up in the microwave like I usually do! Easy to make, healthy, and they're even red and green if you're serving them around the holidays!

Guacamole on it's own is delicious, but why not add in some sweet summer corn and salty bacon to make it even better? Creating this recipe for a blogging event is one of the best things I did this past summer. 

I figured these would be a huge hit. How can you go wrong with pizza flavoring topped into individual meatloaves cooked in a muffin pan? Maybe a little large for an appetizer, but a great option to have a party where you have some hungry guests. These can easily be adapted to your specific tastes.


I hope you enjoyed looking back on these best appetizers and snacks from 2016! 





#ImprovCookingChallenge: Hot Toddy

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The middle of December already. Where in the world has this year gone? The last two months have flown by in a complete haze, which explains why I've barely shared any holiday recipes with you this month. I'm going to try to get caught up for next week.

The ingredients for the final month of 2016's Improv Cooking Challenge were cinnamon and honey. I thought about making a cake or cupcakes or even cinnamon rolls because my coworkers go insane for them, but my creative side was hiding and nothing was standing out to me.



Then someone mentioned drinking a hot toddy and I knew that's exactly what I needed to make for this challenge. I don't know about you, but nearly every single person I know is sick. My office is covered in a haze of Lysol. I've went through an incredible amount of hand sanitizer and I've been pre-preemptively taking tons of vitamin C and cold medicine to fight anything off.

For years; 22 of them to be exact, I would get strep throat. Once a year, in March, every single year from age 2 to 24. Like clockwork, I would go from feeling perfectly fine to feeling like I was swallowing razor blades with tonsils so swollen I scared a few doctors. You'd think with that kind of track record, I'd get used to it, but if you have ever had strep throat, you know there is no getting used to it. You simply endure and count down the minutes until the antibiotics kick in.



I think I was 23 when I had strep throat and all of my friends were going out to the bar. I was past the contagious stage but not to the point where I wasn't in pain. Tired of staring at the four walls of my room, I went out. One of the bartenders heard how sick I was and made a hot toddy for me. Until then I'd never heard of it before. She didn't have cinnamon or cloves and somehow managed to scrounge up some honey in a dive bar to make me the drink. I still remember taking the first sip and feeling the instant relief on my throat.



Hot Toddy
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 2
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tsp honey
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3-5 whole cloves
    • 2 lemon slices
    • 2 tsp honey bourbon

Directions:
1. Add the water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, honey, cinnamon stick and cloves. Cover the pot and let steep for 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and cloves.
3. Add a teaspoon of honey bourbon and a lemon slice to each mug. Pour the steeped liquid on top.
4. Adjust to taste with honey bourbon and/or honey.
5. Drink warm.



While this is meant to soothe a sore throat, it's also a great drink to take the chill off on those icy winter nights. Next time you're feeling under the weather, whip one of these up and see how you feel after. 😊




#Foodie Extravaganza: Maple Pecan Bars

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It's time for the Foodie Extravaganza again AND I actually remembered to submit my recipe this time! I made a recipe for last month and then completely forgot that I was supposed to submit it prior to the event. Oops!

The theme for December is maple and the 17th is National Maple Syrup day. The event is being hosted by Lauren of Sew You Think You Can Cook.


I actually intended to go savory for this month since I had made maple bacon dijon green beans for Thanksgiving which were out of this world amazing but I forgot to pick up bacon at the store and needed a back up plan. Well, recently I cleaned out my baking pantry (yes, I have a separate pantry dedicated to baking goods)  and I found that I have been hoarding pecans. In November and December Aldi offers 6 oz. packages of pecans for like $3.99. How can one not simply buy them in bulk?



Maple Pecan Bars
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 16 bars
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • for the crust:
    • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • ¾ cup powdered sugar
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • for the topping:
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 cup pecans
    • pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter with the powdered sugar and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and salt and mix until combined.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add slowly add in the flour until combined. Transfer to a piece of wax paper, wrap up and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
4. Combine the egg, brown sugar, maple syrup, pecans and salt together in a bowl. Stir until combined.
5. Press the dough into the pan, using your fingers to even out and press to the edges. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
6. Pour the pecan filling on top and spread it to the edges to completely cover the crust. Return to the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just set.
7. Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator for 2 hours before slicing into 16 bars.



These smell amazing while they are cooking. Your whole kitchen and possibly your whole house will fill up with the smell of warm brown sugar, sweet maple syrup and pecans. You can choose to skip the refrigeration period, but the bars need to cool completely to room temperature before attempting to slice them. I found spraying a knife with cooking spray before making the cuts made it easier. 


Foodie Extravaganza

If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board!

Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Christmas Menu 2016

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Christmas is less than three weeks away! Are you ready?

Surprisingly, I've found myself pretty ready for this Christmas (except for a lack of recipes to share with you) and that's probably because I managed to get my menu planned really early and my family really isn't celebrating with gifts this year.

My mom, her fiance, my cousin and my aunt; which are the main people I buy gifts for because we spend the holiday together, are all going on a cruise this March. Over the summer I mentioned that maybe instead of celebrating with gifts this year, we could do a small limit and instead use the rest of the money toward purchasing excursions for the cruise. Everyone agreed and we've set a $10 limit.

All but one gift was purchased prior to November so there wasn't much to do there. Tom and I decided to finally scale back on Christmas for ourselves as well. The dining room table was my gift and we replaced the tv in the living room, which was his. We'll get one thing each for the cats and his family, plus my friends kids that I buy for all want gift cards. Super easy!

So needless to say, I'm not at all stressed about this holiday. Actually, that's not true, I did stress a little bit over creating the menu because I simply couldn't decide between having a ham or doing a roast. But then everyone raved about the cranberry sauce and I thought it would be perfect to put over a ham and that decision was made for me.

There will be seven of us in attendance which means we can all fit at my dining room table! I'm so excited for that. Part of me wants to create an elaborate multi-course Christmas dinner, simply because there is a seat for everyone, but I think I'll stick with my current menu. 😉

Christmas Menu 2016

Appetizers:
I'm entirely leaving this up to my aunt - I know she'll make a cheese ball but I'm not sure what else

Main and Sides:
cranberry ham 
bacon corn casserole
garlic mashed potatoes
butternut squash quinoa salad
maple bacon dijon green beans 

Dessert:
snickerdoodle cookie cake
candy cane brownie trifle
cheesecake - mom 

Drinks:
cranberry mules

I'm not sure yet if we're going to celebrate Christmas on Sunday or if Saturday is easier. It will depend on everyone else's schedule. I don't mind either way because I have off on Friday and Monday. 




#FilltheCookieJar: Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Cookies

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December first! There are only 24 more days until Christmas and I'm just sharing my first holiday recipe with you!

As usual, I am so behind but it's not like that is much of a surprise considering I seem to say that every.single.year. At least I'm consistently behind on sharing holiday recipes, right? Anyway, it coincided perfectly that theme for Fill the Cookie Jar this month was Christmas/Holiday cookies.


Fill the Cookie Jar is hosted by Cynthia of Feeding Big and it's a monthly blogging event where home bakers get together and share their favorite cookie recipes based on an assigned theme.


Peppermint is one of the few ingredients I love that Tom doesn't like at all. Which means anytime I make something with peppermint it's ALL MINE! Unless I decide to share it with my coworkers (which always happens) who love peppermint as much as I do. It should be no surprise that I chose to start off my holiday baking with a peppermint recipe.

Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Cookies
Inspired by: Yellow Bliss Road
Servings: 32 cookies
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 15.25 oz box Devil’s Food Cake mix
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 eggs
    • ⅔ cup chocolate chips
    • ½ tsp peppermint extract
    • 4 bars chocolate almond bark or 2/3 cup chocolate chips
    • 3 candy canes, crushed

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine cake mix, butter and eggs. Beat on medium speed until combined.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips and peppermint extract until combined.
4. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and place 1-2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until puffy and no longer glossy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. Meanwhile, place the chocolate almond bark or chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until melted and smooth.
7. Dip half of the cookie into the chocolate and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Return to the parchment paper to allow to chocolate to set. Repeat with remaining cookies.
8. Cookies will keep for 1 week in an airtight container. 





I went light on the peppermint extract because it is one of those flavors that can easily overwhelm a dessert, but I think I could have increased this to 3/4 of a teaspoon. The cookies are light and airy and full of chocolate flavor. The peppermint shines through nicely in the cookie and the crushed up candy canes gives a crunch to an otherwise soft cookie. 



I already know these cookies will be devoured! 


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