Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Creme de Menthe Brownies

Quick & Semi-Homemade.
This is a fun way to add extra flavor and flair to brownies!

  • Brownie mix in a box (I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • Half a stick of softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons creme de menthe
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Bake brownies according to box directions. Let cool.

Using an electric mixer, combine confectioners' sugar, half a stick of butter and creme de menthe. Spread on top of the brownies. Melt chocolate chips and butter in the microwave. Use a disposable pastry bag to pipe a border and flowers in the corners.  Add sprinkles to decorate.  

* I adapted this recipe from Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana River Road Recipes IV Cookbook.  They call for unsweetened chocolate in the topping.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Amazing Coffee Cake

                                    Moist & Buttery!


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter (salted)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups chopped pecans
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 325.  Grease and flower spring form pan. Mix the flour & baking powder and set aside.

Cream the butter and add in the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.  By hand, fold in the flour mixture just until incorporated (to not over mix).  Place the batter in the pan,

Mix together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon. Place on the batter.  Melt butter in microwave and drizzle over the topping.

Bake at 325 for 55 minutes.

* I discovered this recipe on in 2009 It was submitted by DWBH.  I have altered the recipe significantly (toppings and baking time).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jicama flowers

Pretty little white jicama flowers!

Jicama is known as a yam bean.  It's a sweet and starchy treat!  Take your vegetable peeler and remove the brown skin, slice and use your favorite cookie cutter shape.  Add to green salads, place a tapenade on top or my favorite, fresh fruit.  A great pairing is the mandarin orange.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Antipasto! Presto!

        Too busy? Reach for your pickled and cured items & 
           place on cute holiday picks!  Tasty, salty flavors.

  • Pepperidge farm beef stick sliced and quartered
  • kalamata olives
  • fresh mozzarella cheese balls (Trader Joe's in herbed olive oil)
  • pepperoncini
  • green olives
  • marinated red peppers
  • marinated asparagus
  • marinated artichokes 

Can be prepared a few days in advance. Just cover with wet paper towels and replace paper towels each day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Veggie Appies

               A fresh veggie tray is an excellent addition to any party!

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • red peppers
  • orange peppers
  • celery
  • cauliflower
  • red cabbage
  • sugar snap peas
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • Two envelopes of Knorr vegetable recipe dip mix (sold in small boxes)
  • 32 ounces sour cream
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • Paprika for garnish
  • green onion for garnish
  • kale for garnish
  • Star cookie cutter for cucumber stars
Hollow the red cabbage and create a zigzag pattern.  Mix the dip and add to the cabbage (this can be done a few days ahead of the party). Sprinkle paprika on the dip as garnish.

Slice all veggies.  Place the carrots in water until the party.  Steam the broccoli for 3 minutes to enhance the color and soften just a tiny bit. Slice cucumbers about half an inch thick to create cucumber stars for the garnish.  Add kale on the bottom and sides and green onion as garnishes.

* The dip recipe is by Knorr and is on the box  (the recipe above is doubled).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shrimp Cocktail Cups

These cuties are light, fresh and tasty!  A great way to serve shrimp cocktail without a fork.  We love finger food!

  • 24 won ton wraps (usually sold in the produce area)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups bay shrimp
  • diced celery
  • cocktail sauce
  • parsley to garnish
Brush won ton wrapper with a little oil then place in a mini muffin tin.  Bake on 375 for about 6 minutes.  Let cool and store in an airtight container.  Layer starting with the celery, a dab of cocktail sauce, shrimp and another dab of cocktail sauce.  Assemble no more than an hour prior to your event.

*The won ton cups (without filling) can be made and stored for up to a week in advance of your event.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hors d'oeuvres

I call this a man's recipe since most men *love* it!

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Oysters in a can (oil or water)
  • Kale
Use a sharp knife and make a slit halfway through the tomatoes. Insert the oysters and serve on a bed of kale. It's that easy! Enjoy

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winnie's Peanut Butter Bars

            Best recipe for flavorful bars!  Ships and stores exceptionally well.

  • 12 ounces of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 5.28 ounces of graham crackers (crushed) - 1 square package plus one cracker from a second square package
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter

Place peanut butter and melted butter in a mixer.  Mix for a minute. Add the crackers and mix. Add the powdered sugar then pour into a 9 x 13 pan.

Melt chocolate and pour over the peanut butter mixture.  Use a knife to pre-cut squares.   Place in the fridge for an hour then remove and wrap in packaging.

The photo below shows 6 squares that yield large bars suitable for cellophane bags and gifting.

*Winnie is one of the best bakers I know! She has been making these yummy's for years and  says this recipe came from Sacred Heart Catholic Church's cookbook. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Buddha's Hand

What an odd lemony thing!  It is so fragrant and unusual that I couldn't resist buying it at the grocery store yesterday for about $2.50.  The Buddha's hand is indigenous to the lower Himalaya's and it grows as a shrub in frost-free areas like Southern California. This seasonal citron arrives in late fall & early winter. It has a thick peel and is, surprisingly, juiceless!

Use as zest and add to seafood, baking, salads, dressings and cocktails.

Store it at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, in the fridge for up to 4 weeks or zest and freeze for up to six months.

I plan to "candy" it for baking lemon chocolate chip scones.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fab Party Gift Basket

Don't know what to get for the person on your list who has everything? Pick a theme and run with it!  This New Year's Party Basket is sure to please!

  • Trader Joe's Orange Cream Soda
  • Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
  • Korbel Champagne
  • Mimosa Mix
  • Crackers
  • Brie
  • Orange Jell-o
  • Jell-o shot containers
  • Oranges
  • New Year's noise maker, confetti & poppers
  • Lottery scratch ticket
  • Basket from Joanne's
*I purchased all items for about $50.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cupid's Creamy Peppermint Punch

I served this punch at my daughter's 5th birthday party and the entire punch bowl was empty at the end of the afternoon.  I also served this at my annual cookie exchange and the punch truly has appeal to both kids and adults.

2 liters club soda
1.5 quarts Dreyer's peppermint ice cream
1 quart of egg nog
Crushed candy canes or sugar sticks to garnish

Mix the first 3 ingredients (ice cream should soften a bit before adding). Sprinkle with candies.  This can be made up to 2 hours ahead, just place it in the fridge.

Yield: 1 gallon

Decorating idea: line the rim of the punch bowl with mini candy canes

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Annual Recipes 2004

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peppermint Bundt Cake

This gem is so easy to make! 

Center Filling:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 box chocolate cake mix
8 ounce sour cream
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese (at room temp)
2 tablespoons milk
Crushed candy canes or peppermint candies  ( Place in a zip lock bag, seal and crush with a hammer or other solid item).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan.  Microwave the filling ingredients for 30 seconds, stir and heat a bit more.
Combine all cake ingredients, beat for 2 minutes and add to the bundt pan.  Spoon melted filling around the middle portion, staying away from the edges as much as possible. Bake for 35-45 minutes and cool completely.
Whisk icing ingredients together and drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle the crushed candies on top. Garnish with a silk flower.
This recipe is adapted from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks dated November 2003.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Live Long & Prosper

Giving a gift you know that someone will love is the best! We surprised Kirc last night with this gem; a lighted Star Trek tree topper of Spock.  If you're in the spirit of Star Trek this season, check out this nearly ad free link for memorable quotes & humor :

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fresh Green Bean Wreath

Hi friends,

Life is so busy around the holidays and I tend to struggle with getting healthy foods in my families tummies as we rush to and from kids practices & events. This one looks so pretty plated but often times you'll find this fresh green bean wreath recipe in a baggie or plastic container in my car. It tastes a lot better than a granola bar or bag of chips!

Delicious, beautiful & healthy!

Fresh Green Bean Wreath

 • 16 ounces fresh green beans
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
 • 1 (1.2 ounce) packet of Omega Trek Mix from Trader Joe's (cranberries, almonds, walnuts, pepitas, pecans and pistachios)

Steam green beans for 5 minutes. Place in a bowl with all ingredients and toss to coat. Arrange the beans in a circle on a serving plate. Slice the orange that was used for the zest and place in the center of the bean wreath. I serve this at room temperature.

 I saw a version of this recipe in a magazine at a grocery checkout line years ago. I make it every year!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fattigman Cookies

 These delicate and beautiful cookies are made just once a year.  We have stories over the years about a certain un named family member sneaking nearly all of the cookies. Ultimately, the final judgment is how thin can you roll your dough?  It’s not uncommon to hear Mom shouting “Thinner, thinner, and thinner”!  We have traditions and standards (these aren't doughnuts) to uphold here and thankfully, we know how to better hide the cookies these days.

Grandma Frieda would make these holiday cookies at home in Kodiak in the late fall and store them in her attic.  The brandy would have a chance to mellow and enhance the flavor of the cookie. This year, we made fattigman at my sister’s house & enjoyed using her granite pastry counter. To anyone who is remodeling or designing a kitchen…you never know when you’ll make 700 cookies in a morning…when you do you *must* have a pastry counter.

12 egg yolks
¾ sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cardamom ( I use the spice jar variety & my sister uses the freshly ground type that can be purchased at your local tea store)
3 tablespoons brandy
1 pinch salt
At least 3 cups flour 
Vegetable oil
Fattigman cutter
Powdered sugar for sprinkling once cookies are fried

Beat egg yolks well, mix in the sugar and cream and remaining ingredients except the flour. Beat well.  Fold in the flour a cup at a time until your dough loses its stickiness.  Your arm will burn.  Chill at least 2 hours.

Cut off ¼ of the dough, place the rest back in the fridge then, & roll your ¼ thinly on a floured pastry mat.  Use the fattiman cutter to shape & fold each cookie.  Do not re-roll dough that is unfold able the first time.  Save these pieces to fry at the end. Deep fry and sprinkle with powder.  Change your oil once or twice per batch. Store in a tin or airtight container between layers of paper towels in a cold area or refrigerator.

Yield: 225 cookies

Friday, December 2, 2011

Irresistible snacks!

Irresistible snacks for 22 kids

Crispy, sweet and salty mix perfect for the Girl Scout troop!

4 quarts popped popcorn (Add kernels once the corn oil is hot.  Cook on medium and salt when kernels begin to pop).
The entire box of Rice Chex
Half a bag of square pretzels
12 ounces of M & M’s
8 cups of Quaker Oat Cereal
2 cups brown sugar
1.5 cups corn syrup
Half a cup of butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

Grease 3 pans.  In a few large bowls mix popcorn, cereals, M & M’s & pretzels.  In a large saucepan, mix brown sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil for 8 minutes and stir about 6 times.  Remove from the stove and immediately stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda until it begins to foam (about a minute).  Pour over the popcorn mixture and bake uncovered at 280 degrees for 1 hour.  Stir every 15 minutes and rotate pans each time.  Cool completely & break apart for serving.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Santa Chair Covers

                                 $6 Holiday Chair Covers= Happiness!

Fresh Salad

 Mini Cucumber Salad

This is a great go-to recipe when my husband has burned out on sandwiches in his lunch.  We also like it for a side dish, although my kids won’t eat it, so I set a few cucumbers aside for them to eat plain.

·         Bag of mini-cucumbers sold at Costco
·         1 ½ cups white vinegar
·         1 cup water
·         ¾ cup sugar
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         Pepper to taste
·         2 tablespoons of dried dill

Thinly slice cucumbers and set aside.  Mix all ingredients and pour over cucumbers. Marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours and up to a couple of days.

*(Other options to add: sliced red or yellow onion, minced garlic, dried parsley, red pepper flakes, seasoning salt, fennel seeds, or cherry tomatoes, mint in place of the dill)