Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Christmas Menu

-2009 Christmas Menu-

  • Appetizer

Farm Rich mushrooms which I received a coupon for a free bag awhile back. I used the oven method, stabbed each one with a toothpick and served with warm marinara sauce—everyone LOVED these!

  • Bread

Italian Loaf for Bread Machine

(for 2 lb loaf—22 slices)


  • 1 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c water
  • 4 tsp margarine or butter
  • 4 c bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast


  • Add to machine according to directions for bread machine and bake as a basic light colored loaf.


  • Main Dish

Italian Stuffed Pork Tenderloin



  • 3-4 lb boneless pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 c butter, room temp—I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 c Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c fresh chopped parsley, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1/2 Tbsp dried
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 c apple juice
  • 1/2 c apple butter


  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine butter, breadcrumbs, scallions, parsley, sage, and lemon juice. Place tenderloin on surface, cover with plastic wrap. Using mallet, pound until 3/4 inch thickness. Remove wrap; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread breadcrumb mixture within 1/2-inch of edge.
  • Starting from long side, roll up and tie with twine. Place in roasting pan. Roast until meat thermometer inserted reaches 170 F for 1 hr 15 mins.
  • In a small pot, cook apple juice and apple butter on medium-high heat until thickened, 5 minutes; cool. Brush over tenderloin during the last 10 minutes of roasting. Transfer turkey to platter and slice.
  • Side Dish

Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables


Recipe HERE!

  • Dessert

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cranberry Glaze



  • 2- 80z. packages of fat free cream cheese, block style
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg white
  • 1-8 oz. container fat free sour cream
  • 1/4 c + 1 2/3 c sugar (I used 1 2/3 C Splenda and 1/4 c sugar)
  • 1/4 c + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 c thawed frozen whipped topping


  • Position racks in center and lower third of oven. Place roasting pan filled halfway with water on lower rack. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 9 x 3 spring form pan with cooking spray.
  • Follow instructions for pie crust here, but omit the pre-bake.
  • On medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, 3 min. On low speed, beat in eggs/whites, one at a time. Beat in sour cream, 1/4 c flour and vanilla. On medium speed, beat 2 min.
  • Transfer 1 1/2 c batter to separate bowl; stir in pumpkin, pie spice and 1 Tbsp flour. Pour into crust. Bake 25 minutes or until center jiggles. Top hot layer with remaining batter. Bake 35 minutes or until center jiggles slightly when shaken. Turn oven off. Let cake stand in oven with door closed for one hour.
  • Run knife around edge of pan. Cool on rack. Chill overnight. Remove side of pan and spread cranberry sauce over the top right before serving. If desired pipe whipped cream in a star-tipped pastry bag.


Make sure to follow me on my Orlando trip for the next week!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Santa Still Came

Sunday we had Christmas due to the weather delaying things on Christmas day—it’s nice to have a white Christmas, but not when it keeps families from gathering. At least we could still do it, and only two days later. So I will let words do the talking today since I am finishing packing/planning for Orlando this Friday! I miss blogging, catching up with everyone, etc. but when I don’t have such a schedule it’s hard to sit on the computer at designated times! Tomorrow I will have the Christmas menu up with all the recipes for you :-)

What was your favorite present this year??

  • Started off Saturday night by making this beauty so it would be set to go Sunday afternoon.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cranberry Glaze




  • First time ever making a stuffed pork tenderloin. Melded a bunch of recipes together and it came out quite well—very easy too which was a unexpected plus!

Italian Stuffed Pork Tenderloin


  • The smell of fresh baked Italian loaf bread lured everyone in.


  • Loaded up my plate for a big feast which I needed because I made it all within a few hours excluding the cheesecake.


  • Of course I still had energy to open presents though. I was actually more excited to give everyone else theirs first!


Mom with her new fleece jacket and vest.


Dad excited about new books.


Grandma loves cards more I think haha.


Grandpa opening his new Express 101 cooking appliance.




Mom loves taking action shots obviously!

Here’s my highlight presents for 2009:

  • Toshiba Net Book for traveling!


  • Set of Rachael Ray Pans


  • Bamboo Cutting Boards


  • New Crock Pot



I also got a candy thermometer, meat thermometer, and lots of other little fun things.

Christmas was definitely worth waiting two days extra for!



Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Cancelled Christmas

Hope you all had an amazing Christmastime! As you can tell, I have been gone for quite sometime, but not because I was busy with Christmas—instead mother nature decided to dump over a foot of snow just a day before family traveling plans were supposed to take place. Instead I ended up 2 hours apart from my family on Christmas for the first time in 18 years! To say it was sad would be an understatement, but there was nothing any of us could do except hold back till things died down and recreate our own Christmas day which is what is happening tomorrow! The food I am serving is not just suited for holidays, so I think you’ll enjoy being able to try em’ anytime.

So here’s a white Christmas if that’s what you’ve been dreaming of:

And even though snow was predicted before Christmas, I never let it  turn me into a scrooge. Instead, I celebrated by taking a 2 hour road trip to Duluth to look at the famed Bentleyville—I have gone for many years. It’s all free and ran by one family. It really gets you into the Christmas spirit!

And last but not least, my 2009 holiday photo I thought I’d share!! See you all soon with food! :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two Toned & Tasty

2012 was a crazy movie guys! Did anyone else see it? If not, you should rent really gets you thinking as to what you would do on your last day alive. Say you love the ones close to you or the ones you haven’t said I love you to in a long time? Resolve meaningless conflicts? Make right things you’ve done wrong? Who knows, but whatever you’d do, try to do a few this holiday season since it is the most wonderful time of the year! (insert song here!)

So brownies are good and so are cookies, so what do you get when you combine the two? A double delicious dessert! I based this off of this recipe, but of course had to put a Christmas twist on it. Try these—they’re half box and half homemade.


Christmas Cookie-Topped Brownies


  • 1 box Betty Crocker brownie mix, and ingredients called for on box
  • 3/4 c Nestle swirled holiday chips
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbs water
  • a pinch of cinnamon


  • Mix together the brownie and cookie ingredients separately. 
  • Pour the brownie batter into the bottom of a parchment paper lined 9x13 inch pan. 
  • Drop the cookie layer over the top of the brownie layer. 
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Do you have any combos for brownies that you make?

Sorry posting/commenting has been a little MIA—tis the season for busyness.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tis’ the Season for Twists and Tips

When you hear of peanut butter blossoms, everyone envisions the same sugar-coated, tender peanut butter cookie, topped with a half-melted Hershey’s kiss right? I love traditions and all, but I figured why not give the original a yummy twist?!

The original peanut butter blossoms:

Peanut Butter Blossoms

My new and improved peanut butter bombs:


What’s the difference?

  • Start with a cake mix vs a cookie mix.
  • Instead of regular creamy peanut butter, I used a chocolate peanut butter, more specifically Dark Chocolate Dreams.


  • 1 box Betty Crocker Devil’s Food cake mix and ingredients called for on box
  • 1/2 c chocolate peanut butter, nutella would work as well
  • 1 bag of Hershey’s kisses, I used the candy cane—tis’ the season!


  • Preheat oven to the temp called for on the box.
  • Mix cake mix and called for ingredients together whisking in the peanut butter towards to end.
  • Roll into 1 Tbsp balls and bake according to package directions—start unwrapping kisses.
  • Once out of the oven, cool for 2 minutes, add kisses, and let cool completely.

Quick tip:

I usually dread melting chocolate due to the mess it makes and all the dishes I need to do. I wish Santa would bring me a dishwasher!! So I decided why not put my measured out chocolate into a freezer quart Ziploc bag and immerse it into boiling water, let the chips melt completely, then carefully take the bag out, snip the corner and decorate/frost/eat from there!! So much easier and saves a lot of time, which is what I am looking to do this season!


I am going to see 2012 in the theatre tonight—it’s only about 5 degrees out---brrrrr!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

I’m Not a Scrooge

  • *
  • **
  • *******
  • ************
  • 7 days left--check
  • Christmas cards sent--check
  • Wrapped the last present—check
  • Got ideas for a table setup—check
  • Finished the holiday grocery list—check
  • Finishing bagging up holiday goodies—check
  • Found a good fudge recipe to make for my dad—check
  • Made my first homemade sugar cookies with royal icing—er, check

Glad to hear most everyone is trying to keep the stress out of the holiday equation this year—I think it’s great that we can acknowledge what pushes our buttons such as mom’s perfectionist flare, pushy mother-in-laws or your obnoxious uncle…all it takes is a few deep breaths and a bite of your grandma’s famous pumpkin pie to calm your Christmas!

So today I decided to continue my baking extravaganza(glad you are enjoying all the cookies!!)and wanted to make sugar cookies from scratch. When I was younger, we’d always buy either the refrigerated Pillsbury logs of premade dough or the Betty Crocker mix in a pouch. So I could never say I have made them from scratch, but since I am a fan of making everything else from scratch, I figured why not? Then came the challenge of deciding on which recipe to make. Ohh the sugar cookies out there—they all looked delicious, but I finally settled with this one.

Annie’s Eat’s Sugar Cookies

Here’s what lured me into these:

  • Powdered sugar replaces granulated sugar which makes for a fluffier and melt-in-your mouth result.
  • The pairing of almond extract and vanilla extract combine for a perfect sugar cookie taste!!

So I rolled and I cut with numerous holiday cookie cutters..


So far, so good..

Then I baked and let em’ cool..


Then I nibbled a bit..

Outstanding—much better than store bought obviously!

And then, all of the beautiful pictures of sugar cookies with perfect royal icing started calling my name.

I have never worked with royal icing (recipe I used here)but I figured why not hit two birds with one stone.

So again I mixed, measured, and colored…


Couldn’t seem to get the exact consistency, but I figured what the heck, just keep going!

Grabbed the paintbrush and began the decorating.


Did about half and they turned out semi-ok.


I lost patience and figured I’d rather eat some more then mess around—at least they tasted delicious!

Me losing patience in the kitchen?!

Yes, it’s still me don’t worry—but I can officially say I’ve met something that can kick my butt in the kitchen. I can push some Hershey’s kisses in cookies, add a billion things, but to sit and precisely decorate—I think I will have to pull a scrooge folks!!

Still try these cookies plain though, they’re great!

What turns you into a scrooge when it comes to being in the kitchen?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jeweled, Spiced, and Everything Nice

I can’t believe Christmas in next week!!

I am a tad bit nervous to host my family at my place for the first time—well it’s the first year I’ve had my own place. Plus I am doing the cooking which shall be a blast!! I recently read an article in Body & Soul that talked about being stressed around the holidays and trying to make everything perfect and then we miss out on the true reason we even gather! So when a few cookies burn, or the cheesecake ends up cracking down the middle(fingers crossed mine doesn’t—always use a water bath!)—don’t fret, your family will still stick around, I guarantee it! Do you feel a lot of pressure around the holiday time?

Today’s post is a bit short—I have some TV/blog reading to catch up with!! No homework FOR ONCE!!

If you all decide to try these cookies, you will get endless compliments! An easy dough combined with some candied cherries to give a “jeweled” appearance will stand out at any Christmas bash—these are one of the recipes I make every year. Easy, tasty, and pretty—cheers!

Recipe HERE!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Search is Over

Before I get to the cookie of the day…

I was listening to the radio this morning as I was getting ready—it was the morning talk show between the two older guys who head the “Morning Show” and the younger gal who is the meteorologist. They always talk about random things, but today I was extra interested—they were discussing how often a person should eat cheeseburgers a week, then it went to how often a person should eat fast food a week, and then it got to the ingredients lists on popular condiments(more on that later). Anyway, I was thinking how it’s kind of funny how people automatically think fast food is filled with heart-clogging saturated fat, but there is actually a lot of healthier options popping up in this day and age. Some great examples here. I highly recommend the book Eat This Not That! Restaurant Survival Guide which I refer to quite often. It breaks down why something is bad instead of just saying, “Eat this, not that.” As for cheeseburgers or any fast food, I always think homemade can be made healthier, but nothing is off limits once and awhile.

As for the condiment ingredients discussion, they named off a bunch, but I was surprised by what was in Heinz 57 Sauce—why is there raisin concentrate and apple concentrate?? Just a reminder for me to really look at ingredients more thoroughly for packaged foods! How concerned are you with the ingredients in your food?

C-o-o-k-i-e Time!!

So guys, I am relieved to finally proclaim the search for the best molasses cookie is O-V-E-R after reading this post and making this recipe! I searched high and low since I started baking/cooking to achieve the fluffy yet chewy, cracked top molasses cookie—thankfully I stumbled upon this recipe which quieted all fears about finding the right molasses cookie!


Find the recipe/nutritionals/etc. HERE!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Biscotti from a Box

Biscotti- very dry, hard cookie or cracker. Biscotti originates from the Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked/baked”. It can be stored for a good amount of time. It was used during wars due to the non-perishable characteristic.

Most people will stop at the word “twice-baked” because they think it sounds too intimidating. I know when reading recipes of biscotti from scratch, it can seem as if it requires a lot more work than just a simple slice and bake cookie. Plus you can buy biscotti in stores, especially this time of year. Even I didn’t know if I wanted to attempt biscotti for the first time, but I really wanted to tie some up in small bags and give to coffee and cookie lovers!

After much contemplating, and eventually coming upon a recipe that seemed perfect—I decided everything deserves at least one try, right?

This biscotti is made from a cake-mix, which by the way you will see used in at least half of my holiday recipes because I had a huge stockpile of cake mixes I wanted to use up. I decided on using a Betty Crocker Butter Recipe cake mix and added 1 cup of Chocolate Mint chips. You could really customize this recipe to your heart’s content—vanilla cake mix with peppermint chips, yellow cake mix with cinnamon chips, dip em’ in melted chocolate and roll in some holiday sprinkles—definitely get creative with these. So did I manage to make a half-decent biscotti?



Betty Crocker Box Biscotti


  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Butter Recipe cake mix
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup Andes Creme De Menthe baking chips


  • Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick cookie sheet). In large bowl, mix cake mix, oil and eggs with spoon until dough forms (some dry mix will remain). Stir in walnuts and chips, using hands if necessary.
  • On ungreased cookie sheet, shape dough into 15x4-inch rectangle, using greased hands. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet on cooling rack 15 minutes.


  • Cut rectangle crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes longer or until edges are deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

What combo would use create for biscotti from a box?


Monday, December 14, 2009

Healthy for the Holidays

With all talk of cookies and fruit cakes floating around this time of year, it almost seems as if healthy goodies are kicked to the curb. Not the case here! I decided to put together my Top 10 healthy snacks that would be perfect to accompany a gift or even earn a spot at your holiday spread. How do you keep things semi-healthy during the holidays?

1.Nutridel Cookies


I recently got a chance to try these cookies that are prided to be  100% natural, contain no additives, preservatives, artificial colorings, flavorings or sweeteners of any kind AND they’re loaded with seeds, grains, nuts, fiber and sweetened with a touch of molasses. I got to try 2 of the 4 flavors—Almond and Flaxseed. But there is also Oatmeal and Pecan as well. Both were hearty, crunchy, and mighty tasty as well!

2. SweetRiot Cacao Nibs

These are great for anyone who likes to quiet chocolate cravings on the go—check out my full review here.

3.Food Should Taste Good Chips 

Needs some hefty and healthy chips this holiday—these fit the bill. A huge spread of flavors will be sure to satisfy everyone from your grandparents to the little ones. Check out my reviews here and here.

4.Dr.Kracker Crackers and Flatbreads


These are amazing and come in a wide range of flavors. Whether you want small crackers for dipping in holiday cheese balls, or flatbreads for homemade bruschetta with some cheese, either of these would be a star! Review here.

5. Kay's Naturals


Need some pumped up pretzels or little chips to nibble on? Kay’s Naturals can be your source. Reviews here and here.

6. Vitalicious

I am a big fan of this companies treats. Not only do they have healthy pre-baked goods, you can also buy mixes to whip up your own homemade goodness. These would be great for snacks if you’re having family stay over the holidays.

7. Decadent Dreams Bakery


Remember back in June when I won the Father’s Day Decadent Dreams Bakery Cookie giveaway?! Check em’ all out here—they were adorable, delicious, and would be perfect if you don’t have the time to bake/decorate cookies yourself.

8.Fiber Gourmet


I am a HUGE fan of the Fiber Gourmet company. Order there healthy/lo-cal mac and cheese to use in your holiday casserole dishes, or just serve it straight up! They also have a slew of fiber-filled noodles you could use if your making spaghetti too. They recently came out with a Cheez-it clone that of course is much better for you..check it out here.

9.Silk Eggnog


Recently got my hands on this Silk Egg Nog down at our local health food co-op. I wasn’t sure about it, but I was very impressed! It will be making an appearance at my holiday.

10. New Cool Whip Dips

Flavored Dips

In chocolate and strawberry, these were delicious for dipping fruit. They didn’t have the usual Cool Whip artificial taste when eaten straight. I bought another to keep for a sweet appetizer or ending to our meal…as if the pie won’t be enough ;-)

Cookie post kickoff tonight—stay tuned!