Elephant Cookies!

My fiance’s nephew just turned 3 years old, and for his birthday, I volunteered to make cookie favors. His favorite animal (of the moment) is an elephant, so I went on the search for an elephant cookie cutter. I found a great set called “Noah’s Ark” at Macy’s that had an elephant. Then, I used the standard Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix (remember I’m still on the search for that PERFECT cookie recipe, so in the meantime, I use my trusty mix) and went to town!

This is the first time I worked with flood icing, so I think I did pretty well considering! I’m now ready to make fun Christmas cookies using my experience with the icing!

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As you can see, my work is nowhere near perfect, but the kids loved them!

Eggnog Cookies and a couple of recipe revisits!

For my last day at my old job, my coworkers asked me to bring in some goodies for them. I decided to make Cranberry White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti (scroll down a bit for the recipe), Eggnog Cookies and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies.

The treats went over really well!

Here’s the recipe for eggnog cookies. These left for a very subtle spice taste, so if you want more eggnog, add more. Many people on Allrecipes adapted the recipe that way.

Eggnog Cookies
Source: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Cream sugar and butter until light. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake 20 to 23 minutes until bottoms turn light brown.

Check out the spread!!

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Cranberry White Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

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Eggnog Cookies

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Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

 

Dixie-booscotti!

Ok, I love my dog, Dixie. (Who doesn’t love their dog?) She’s such a little trooper dog. She’s a hunting dog for my dad, and she is 8 years old. Even at 8, she is very fit, but she gets SO tired. It’s cute to see her knocked out all day, twitching (chasing ducks in her dreams).

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Here she is falling asleep! :)

Anyway, I decided to make her (not so) little self a happy dog. I made her Rachael Ray’s “Isabooscotti”.

I didn’t drizzle carob, because I couldn’t get it to melt well, and didn’t want to add crisco at the chance of making her sick. So, it’s plain biscotti. :)

Isabooscotti
Source: Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (I used fresh ground peanut butter from Whole Foods. I spoil her :) )
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup carob chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Place the peanut butter in a medium bowl and microwave at high power to soften, 5-10 seconds. Whisk in the milk, then stir the mixture into the dry ingredients.
  3. Shape the dough into a long, flattened log and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes; remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Slice the log crosswise on an angle into 1-inch-thick pieces. Set the slices on their sides (they should look like biscotti) and bake until crisp, 10-12 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  4. Melt the carob in a microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. Thin the melted carob with 1 tablespoon water, if needed. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted carob over the biscuits. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

 

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Not the most appetizing looking. I cut these in half since I didn’t want to give her too much treat-age at once!

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Ok, I had to use flash here. It was dusk, and this makes her look like ghost dog! But let’s just say these treats were very well received. :)

Pumpkin (White) Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these pumpkin cookies last week, since I was on a serious pumpkin kick, as you can tell from previous entries. These were a little too sweet with the white chocolate chips, in my opinion. So, next time, I’ll omit them and let the pumpkin shine!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I did 1/2 cup applesauce, of course!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used white chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional and omitted)

Directions:

  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

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Pumpkin Bread

After yesterday’s pumpkin cheesecake brownies, I had to use up a good bit of the leftover pumpkin. So, I searched blogs until I found Katie’s adaptation for a classic pumpkin bread that would use up all the rest of that yummy pumpkin before it went bad in the fridge!

Of course, I subbed applesauce for butter here. It was still very good though! :) Thanks Katie!
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Classic Pumpkin Bread
Source: Good Things Catered adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 6 Tbsp butter, at room temp (I used applesauce instead)
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Have all ingredients at room temp and prepare 9×5 loaf pan.
  3. Whisk together flour, soda, powder, salt and spices thoroughly.
  4. In another bowl combine milk and vanilla.
  5. In large bowl of mixer beat butter until creamy (about 30 sec).
  6. Gradually add sugars and beat on high speed until lightened in texture (3-4 min).
  7. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  8. Add pumpkin puree on low speed until just blended.
  9. Add flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts beating on low or stirring with spatula until just combined. (Don’t overmix here! Really just stir until just combined. Sorry, I watch too much Alton Brown….)
  10. Scrape batter into pan and spread evenly.
  • Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (It took me about 75 minutes)

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    Yum! I love seeing the little spice specks in there!
  • Ok, drumroll for the POINTS* value (with my applesauce change in there)….

    Serves: 12
    POINTS*: 3

    YAY! So, POINTSwise, this doesn’t make for a bad breakfast at all!! :) Enjoy!

    Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

    So, yesterday I realized that I wanted to bake with more pumpkin. The Fall is only here another month and a half, so I need to enjoy pumpkin while it feels right! I saw on Cara’s Cravings a picture of these beautiful swirly pumpkin cheesecake brownies and knew I just had to try it. Thanks for the recipe, Cara!

    As far as for the diet, I didn’t really skinny it up that much (not that it really needed it as you will see in the POINTS* value), because it was election night and heck, I knew my family needed some fun food to enjoy the night with! I did make some changes on here, though.

    Pumpkin Spice Cheescake Brownies
    Adapted from: Cara’s Cravings

    Ingredients:

    Brownie Batter

    • 3/4 cup butter, melted (used 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup applesauce)
    • 1 cup sugar]
    • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
      (added 1/4 oz. semisweet baking chocolate)
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp cinnamon

    Cheesecake Batter

    • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves (I used 1/2 tsp nutmeg instead)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8″ square metal baking pan.
    2. Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients.
    3. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together by running a butter knife back and forth through the pan.
    4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.

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    Don’t they just look great? Ok, I won’t keep you waiting. Here’s the POINTS* value.

    Serves: 20 (I made them small because they are very flavorful brownies and you don’t need much to give the sweet tooth what it wants!)
    POINTS*: 4

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    Pumpkin Pie

    With the time change, I was anxiously awaiting Desperate Housewives to come on at 8. However, it was 5:30 and dark! I realized I needed to make the time zoom a little faster, so I decided to make a pumpkin pie.

    Not just any pumpkin pie, a Weight Watchers friendly pumpkin pie! I found this great recipe in Cooking Light, believe it or not. I’m being completely serious when I say I cannot tell the difference between normal pumpkin pie and this pumpkin pie!

    Pumpkin Pie
    Source: Cooking Light

    Ingredients:

    Filling:

    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk
    • 2 large egg whites
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin

    Crust:

    • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury) (I used premade frozen crust)
    • Cooking spray

    Topping: (I omitted this topping and subbed some Cool Whip Fat Free)

    • 1/4 cup whipping cream
    • 1 tablespoon amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
    • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar

    Directions:

    1. Position oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425°.
    2. To prepare filling, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pumpkin, and stir with a whisk until smooth.
    3. To prepare crust, roll dough into an 11-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under and flute.
    4. Pour pumpkin mixture into the crust. Place pie plate on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet on lowest oven rack. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove pie from oven); bake an additional 50 minutes or until almost set. Cool completely on wire rack.

    To prepare topping, beat cream with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the amaretto and powdered sugar, and beat until blended. Serve with pie.

    Serves 12.

    POINTS*: 4.5/slice (with 1 tbsp. whipped topping included)

    Seriously, try this recipe for the holiday season. You will not be disappointed! :) This is now going to be a favorite I’m bringing to every holiday I’m asked to bring a dish for!

    Check out my rack ;)

    Seriously…I love spices. Their smells, colors and most importantly, taste. I recently went on a Penzey’s spree with my friend in Dallas. What a fun store! I bought some Christmas gifts there too…I want to go back again!

    Anyways, I came home with so much stuff, I filled up the spice cabinet. However, I couldn’t figure out a pretty way to organize it all. However, thanks to a trip to Wally World, I found the best invention ever to solve my problem!! And it was only $4 to boot! Gotta love Wal-Mart! (sometimes..)

    Check this out! There is no before…I was too excited to organize it.


    It’s the metal rack on the second shelf to the left. It elevates row after row of spices so you can see what’s where. Here’s a better zoom-in.

    Sorry about the flash. I couldn’t get good light in there to see it all. I have my vanilla beans stuffed underneath the rack, and check out the homemade extract (in the Smirnoff looking bottle). It’s almost ready for holiday baking!!

    Crispy Yogurt Chicken

    I love baked chicken, but the problem I have is getting it crispy on both sides. Makes frying seem so much better, even though I’ve never fried chicken.

    When I saw this recipe, I was very interested. I thought, wow, I bet the yogurt lends some moisture and the lemon might tenderize the meat a little while baking. After seeing many raving reviews on this recipe, I decided to go for it and try it! My local Albertson’s had boneless, skinless breasts at $1.68/lb too!

    Crispy Yogurt Chicken
    Source: The Pioneer Woman

    Ingredients:

    • Chicken breasts (we used 3 chicken breasts which I split in half)
    • 2 cups plain, unflavored yogurt (we used fat free)
    • 2-3 cloves garlic
    • Parsley (I was cheap and used dried but PW recommended fresh)
    • The juice of one lemon
    • Salt
    • Butter
    • 2 cups (approx.) Panko Bread Crumbs

    Directions:

    • Begin by pouring 2 cups of plain yogurt into a mixing bowl. Peel and mince a couple cloves of garlic and add them to the yogurt. Next, chop up a small amount of fresh parsley and add to the yogurt as well. To this, add the juice of one lemon. Mix together to combine.
    • Rinse your chicken and pat it dry. Then, give it a nice sprinkling of salt.
    • In another bowl, place the panko crumbs. Add a little salt and stir together.
    • Butter a baking dish. (I used parchment to save calories). Place the chicken, one piece at a time into the yogurt mixture, thoroughly coating it. Then, roll the chicken in the panko. Cover each piece with bread crumbs and place in the baking dish.
    • Finally, place a slice of butter over the large part of each chicken piece.


    I ended up double buttering some pieces because they were so large (though I split the breasts).

    • Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 – 1 1/4 hours, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. When the chicken is nice and golden, remove from the oven and enjoy!

    POINTS*: 6 (We didn’t use all the panko and yogurt so I estimated a little bit less used for a more accurate POINTS value)

    This really was crispy chicken on both sides! Just look at that color!

    However, I will say, this lacked some kick in it. Next time, I’ll add a little hot sauce and Tony’s to the yogurt mixture to make it a little more Louisianian. We will definitely make this again!

    I ended up making onion soup potatoes, and rebaking the leftover green bean casserole and garlic bread to complete the meal!

    Autumn Spiced Ham

    I participated in the What’s Cooking recipe exchange for October/November, and was super excited when I received this recipe!

    I don’t know what nestie it’s from, so I’ll give you credit if you let me know!

    Autumn Spiced Ham
    Source: AllRecipes

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 tbs. butter
    • 1 (2 lb) ham steak (we used 1 lb. since it’s just the two of us)
    • 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
    • 1 green apple, cored and thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup maple flavored pancake syrup (we used light syrup)
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

    Directions:

    Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the ham on both sides in the butter until browned.

    I cut up the ham, as shown, to make it fit in the skillet!Lay the sliced apple over the ham. (A neat trick for slicing apples is put them in a bowl with orange juice to prevent browning until ready to use for your recipe. You won’t get orange flavor, I promise!) Pour the syrup over the apples. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally until the apples are cooked through.

    Sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve immediately.

     

     


    This recipe couldn’t have been easy enough! We were skeptical at first though, because we didn’t want an apple pie ham LOL! However, the taste was subtle and sweet. My fiance mentioned how yummy the apples were especially in the recipe.

     

    Serves 4
    POINTS*: 4

    I ended up making garlic bread with a whole wheat loaf of french bread, brushed on butter, Penzey’s Northwoods seasonings, Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle, granulated garlic and a little bit of parsley! Really tasty!

    I also made my fiance’s favorite dish, GBC! (Green Bean Casserole). Our favorite recipe is right here!

    All in all, this was a great dinner for a Friday night!! :)