Christmas Oreo Truffles

I made these again for the holidays. This time, I had MUCH more patience! I also used a food processor for a finer truffle and it worked out really well. :)

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Foil Pack Chicken Fajitas!

I receive the Kraft Food & Family magazine, which by the way is FREE! If you don’t have a subscription, get one. It’s a great source for easy recipes and ideas!

I found this recipe for chicken fajitas and decided that I should try to make this happen for my fiance and I. This recipe was great, though I think next time, I’ll sear the chicken before putting it in the foil pack. It’s a definite try and super easy clean-up wise, since the chicken is in the foil!

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It’s not the most photographic dish, but it’s still pretty good!

Foil Pack Chicken Fajitas
Source: Kraft

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups instant white rice, uncooked
  • 1-1/2 cups  hot water
  • 1 Tbsp. TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 4 small  boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
  • 1 each: green and red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup  TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick ‘N Chunky Salsa
  • 1/2 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Taco Cheese

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400ºF. Fold up all sides of each of four 18×12-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil to form 1-inch rim; spray foil with cooking spray. Combine rice, water and taco seasoning; spoon evenly onto centers of foil. Top evenly with remaining ingredients.
  • Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place in 15x10x1-inch baking pan.img_7180
  • Bake 30 to 35 min. or until chicken is cooked through (165ºF). Let stand 5 min. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening packets.

I’m entering this for Joelen’s Tasty Tools event for this month. The tool of the month is Baking sheets, and of course, I used a baking sheet to hold the foil chicken up and to catch anything that leaked out!

Banana Bread

I ended up noticing while making the Pumpkin cake, that we had some pretty ripe bananas on the counter. So, I forked out a recipe I’ve been eyeing for quite some time and went to work on this!

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Banana Bread
Source: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (omitted)Directions:

    1. Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2.  

  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add butter, eggs, nuts, and mashed banana. Beat until well blended.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

 

This bread was OK, but I think next time, I’m going to look for a recipe using MORE bananas. It had a pretty subtle banana flavor, and I wanted more! I love bananas! :)


Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

My office, before Thanksgiving, had a potluck dinner. We were asked to bring a dish, so of course, I was ready and eager to bake! I found this great pumpkin cake recipe off of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody and went to work!

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Pumpkin Cake
Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Ingredients:

¼ pound unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg (used 1 1/4 tsp. Penzey’s cake spice)
½ tsp salt
¾ cup 100% natural solid pack pumpkin
½ cup nonfat buttermilk
½ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Combine together in a medium bowl flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  • Place pumpkin and buttermilk in a small bowl and combine thoroughly. Set aside.
  • In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugars. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl .
  • Increase speed to high and beat an additional 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs and beat on medium for 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and beat on high for 30 seconds. With mixer on low alternate adding the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl.
  • Mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter, until smooth and thoroughly combined.
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  • Immediately pour the cake into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake on the center rack of a preheated 325F oven for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  • Invert cake onto a plate or cake circle. Turn the cake upright and refrigerate until needed.
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I knew I wanted a cream cheese frosting for my cake. So, I adapted a Cream Cheese frosting recipe I found off of Allrecipes. I added 2 tsp. of Penzey’s cake spice to the frosting and mmm, it was good!

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tsp. cake spice (mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc.)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.img_7164

Overall, this was a very well received cake. Coworkers loved it (as did I, obviously). What? Someone has to taste test the tops!! Mmm…
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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve read a lot of great reviews about this recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies. The only reason I made these (since they are SO not diet friendly) is because our over-generous neighbors were landscaping at the same time as my fiance and I. They gave us ALL of their leftover top soil (which was more than what we needed.we didn’t even have to open any bags that we purchased at Lowe’s). So, my fiance suggested that I bake them something. Any excuse to bake works for me! AND it felt good not to use applesauce haha!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Brown Eyed Baker from Baking Illustrated

Makes about 18 large cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
  • 1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)

Directions:

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.
  4.  Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.
  5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

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It took a lot of willpower to avoid eating this dough as is.

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Here’s my best effort to make sure the jagged edges stayed jagged. AND, here’s the Silpat debut!! The Silpat totally rocks way more than regular silicone baking sheets I’ve used before!!

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Here they are out of the oven. Yum!

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Finally, these babies are cooled and ready for a taste tester! Sorry, couldn’t help it!!

I will admit, these are some crazy procedures on this recipe (jagged edges on top, what?). However, follow them to the T! The cookies will come out a little gooey, but if you leave them on the baking sheet, they will finish baking into a perfect cookie! The jagged edges do bake into a neat looking top as well.

By the way, since this recipe used a yolk, there was a white left. So, I got bored, and I tried to make a meringue while a batch was baking up. I’ve never done it before! Super cool!! :)

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Oven “fried” Chimichangas

My fiance and I had some leftover rotisserie chicken from Target to use up. So, I searched online for ideas and found this great recipe for chimichangas on Recipezaar. Even better, it’s healthy!

Oven Fried Chimichangas
Source: Recipezaar

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup picante sauce or your favorite salsa
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped with some tops (about 1/4 cup)
  • 6 (8 inch)  flour tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
  • chopped green onion, for serving
  • picante sauce, for serving

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Directions:

  1. Mix chicken, picante sauce or salsa, cumin, oregano, cheese and onions.
  2. Place about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla.
  3. Fold opposite sides over filling.
  4. Roll up from bottom and place seam-side down on a baking sheet.
  5. Brush with melted margarine.
  6. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes or until golden.
  7. Garnish with additional cheese and green onion and serve salsa on the side.

These came out pretty good. I would add more cheese for next time, but I think this is a definite keeper in the recipe file for us!

POINTS*: TBA

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WC Fall Exchange

So, every 1-2 months, there is a gift exchange between members of the “What’s Cooking” board on the Nest. I always have fun compiling the package, as well as getting the surprise package. This time was no exception!

Carrie of Carrie’s Sweet Life sent me a Silpat and spoonula. I used those this weekend to do some baking, which I’ll post about in the near future. Let’s just say these are both AWESOME additions to my kitchen!! Thanks so much, Carrie!!!! Can’t wait to use these more in the kitchen!!!

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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. :)