Thursday, December 31, 2015

Caramelized Pear, Bacon and Brie Bites


Happy New Years Eve! I am a huge believer in setting goals and writing them down to help you achieve them! I have goals posted up in my closet that I read every day while getting dressed and it helps me to be able to see them each and every day to help achieve them! 

I am also a huge lover of appetizers and party food! When I was trying to develop a recipe for Krusteaz to share for New Years I couldn't help but think of something bite size! And believe it or not this is my first recipe that I have created using their famous pie crust! The product that started Krusteaz! So when I was given a choice of which product to use I knew that I had to go for an original! And I sure am glad that I did! It is a the perfect product for a mini appetizer! Add pear,bacon and brie and it makes this appetizer more than just a appetizer but a fancier appetizer for a special gathering! 

So I hope you enjoy this recipe for these little "bites" as much as I did! And Happy New Year! I can't wait to be able to accomplish new goals that I have set for my blog and am grateful for each and every one of you for reading, following, and trying out my recipes! 



Caramelized Pear, Bacon and Brie Bites

INGREDIENTS

Crust:
1 cup Krusteaz Pie Crust Mix
2-3 tablespoons water

Filling:
4 ounces brie, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon butter
1 large ripe pear, diced small
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 slices of cooked bacon, diced

INSTRUCTIONS


Can be found here!



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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Homemade Apple Cider




I was sent this recipe from a water company and made it and it was beyond amazing! We are normally not huge apple cider people but I could drink this daily! That is how amazing it was! I received my Christmas cards from Minted.com and listened to Christmas music while sipping on these apple cider and it was honestly a perfect moment! Plus the smell of this stuff cooking is amazing! My house smelled good all day long! 



HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER
INGREDIENTS:
·         12 medium apples, assorted types
·         2 oranges
·         4 cinnamon sticks
·         1 whole nutmeg
·         1 Tbsp. whole cloves
·         1 tsp. whole allspice
·         7 bottles of Jeju 16 Water (16.9 oz bottles)
·         1/2 - 1 cup brown sugar
DIRECTIONS:
1.    Wash the apples and oranges, and then roughly cut into quarters. (Don't worry about removing peels, seeds, or stems.)  Place in a large stock pot.  Add cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.  Cover with Jeju 16 Water, filling the pot until it is nearly full. Bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring occasionally. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 2 hours.

2.    Once the apples have softened after an hour or two, use a potato masher (or tongs or the side of a spoon) to mash the apple and orange slices once they are soft.  Cook for one more hour.

3.    Strain out the apple cider into a clean pitcher or pot.  To get the maximum juice out of the apples, you can press them through a fine-mesh strainer or strain through a cheese cloth.  Stir in your desired amount of sweetener until it is dissolved.

4.    Serve hot.


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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Reindeer


These cute reindeer were simple and fun to make and another addition to the photoshoot from a few weeks back. What you do is melt down chocolate break pretzel in half to create antlers. Stick a marshmallow on a stick and dip the marshmallows in chocolate and attach the pretzels. Lay down on parchment paper to dry. Add white sprinkles for the eyes and a red nose! 

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Reindeer

Marshmallows
Sticks
Chocolate Melts
Mini Pretzels
White Sprinkles
Red Dot Sprinkles

Melt down chocolate break pretzel in half to create antlers. Stick a marshmallow on a stick and dip the marshmallows in chocolate and attach the pretzels. Lay down on parchment paper to dry. Add white sprinkles for the eyes and a red nose! 




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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Donut Snowmen


Sometimes during the holidays life get so busy and you forget to slow down and spend some time with your children. I will admit that I literally have to schedule time to bake and do fun activities with my kids during the holiday months when I am baking orders 8 hours a day 6 days a week. Our family always does gingerbread houses together and my mom does "cookies with Nana" day where she takes all the grandchildren and gets matching aprons and cups and plates for each children customized and my kids look forward to it every year.


I was so glad that I had the chance to be apart of such a fun Christmas photoshoot where I created a few holiday "kid friendly" treats. This event kinda forced me to do some fun holiday food that of course when my kids saw me making them they had to be involved. So as I began making these little snowman my kids one by one started to trickle in and began to take over a job on the "building of the snowmen" and since we live in Arizona this may be the only snowman building they get to do all year haha!




So whether you are doing these for your children or grandchildren or if you are having a holiday party with your family these are a perfect addition! And one trick I will inform you on is to have a little Karo syrup handy just in case you need to start "glueing" snowman parts on!



Donut Snowmen

white Donut Holes
mini White powdered donuts
orange tic tacs
pretzel sticks
gum drops
mini chocolate chips
fruit by the foot/ fruit roll up (cut in strips)
starlight peppermint
Karo syrup (to "glue" anything while keeping it edible)

Place 2 mini donuts at the bottom and a donut hole on top. Poke little hole in the gum drop and place on pretzel sticks and then poke two holes in the sides and attach the pretzel stick arms. Use some Karo syrup and attach a gum drop to a starlight peppermint. Place on top of the donut hole to create the snowman hat. Poke holes and place 2 mini chocolate chips (pointy side in) to create the eyes and a hole for the orange tic tac nose.  Rip off a piece of the fruit roll up and create a scarf (you can cut slits in them to create the "scarf" effect) and place around the neck or below the donut hole and then on top with the donut hole.

These snowmen can be as simple or complex as you would like to make them. Add more or less. Let the kids have fun with them!




Photo Cred: Bridgette Marie Photography

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Pie



I obviously have a hard time letting pie go after Thanksgiving. But as much as I enjoy a good slice of pie I enjoy a good slice of freezer pie even more. My kids feel the exact same way! I also love pairing a good freezer pie with a yummy cookie crust. And nothing pairs better in my mind than chocolate and peppermint to celebrate the winter holidays!



I let my son be the first taste tester of this pie and he said it was the better after school snack ever! And is now going to be a staple at all my holiday get togethers! I of course had to use my go-to cookie mixes! Krusteaz has perfected their cookie mixes and this year they have even added more delicious ones! So to help simplify your holiday season grab some cookie mixes and you can easily bake gifts for neighbors, parties, and for Santa!

Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Pie

Crust:
1 package Krusteaz Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix
1 egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons water

Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peppermint candy canes, crushed
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
Toppings (optional):
Shaved chocolate
Crushed peppermint

FOR INSTRUCTIONS HEAD HERE! 


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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peppermint Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies



A couple of weeks ago I had a fun holiday photoshoot planned. I was asked to create a few different kid friendly recipes for the kids to enjoy as they sat on Santa's lap and wrote letters to Santa. (You can read more about it here)  plus there is a free santa letter printable! Such cute fun ideas for your family on that blog! You will definitely want to check it out!




When I was brainstorming what recipe I should add to the collection I came up with this little thing! It is a spin on normally chocolate chip cookies which makes them kid friendly and easy to make! Add a holiday twist by adding Andes Mints and you got the perfect (and easy) holiday cookie!




When people ask me some baking tips on what takes my baking to the next level I always say that there is a few things that you need to use quality ingredients for. 2 of those things are name brand powdered sugar and high quality vanilla extract! It makes a huge difference in taste when you use high quality vanilla. My favorite go-to vanilla product is this Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract. I use their paste all the time and their whole vanilla beans! Hop on their website and shop around! You will not be disappointed in their high quality products! 


Peppermint Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1 cup oreo cookie chunks
1 cup Andes Peppermint crunch pieces



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugars together. Add the egg and vanilla and blend it. Mix in flour, cornstarch,baking soda, and salt. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Then the oreo cookie chunks and andes peppermint crunch pieces. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes until barely golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Then serve.








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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey Brine and Turkey Tips and Tricks



The turkey should be the star of your Thanksgiving meal. There is certain steps that should be taken ahead of time to make sure that your turkey is juicy and delicious! There is nothing worse than having a dry turkey on your table for Thanksgiving. 

Lets 1st start with picking out the right kind of turkey! Did you know that Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farm turkeys have no growth-promoting antibiotics, the turkeys are raised on independent owned farms who produce high quality, wholesome turkeys to help provide the freshest high quality turkeys for your family! Plus their companies goal is to produce high quality ingredients at a low cost. If you can remember I visited a turkey farm where I learned all about their company and how their goal is to provide the highest quality of ingredients without having to sacrifice a good amount of your money on your meat. They sell their turkey at a price very comparable to conventionally raised turkeys! You can learn more about their company here!  They even have a fun Turkey Selfie Contest where you post a picture of your family around the dinner table with your turkey for a chance to win a $500 giving card to donate to a food bank of your choice! That is one more reason why I love this company. They produce great quality ingredients and give to the community! Hashtag #TurkeySelfie and head over to 700reasons.com to learn more about the contest! It runs until November 30th!


2nd make sure your turkey is completely thawed. On the back of your Honeysuckle White Turkey there is thawing directions. 


3rd Remove and discard any strings holding the legs in. Remove the giblets from the neck cavity and the neck from the body cavity. Trim away any large areas of fat or excess skin around the cavity and cut off the tail. Note: My Honeysuckle White turkey did not have this. It is already done for me so I only removed the gravy pouch and did not have to remove anything else or trim any excess fat!

4th Rinse thoroughly, inside and out, and then pat dry with paper towels.

5th Grab a large container big enough to hold your turkey and brine mixture or a ice chest works great too! You will need a large poultry bag if you are putting it in your fridge.



6th LETS BRINE!!! This will be a game changer for your turkey!



Brining a turkey before cooking adds moisture and flavor. No matter is you are baking, grilling, smoking, roasting, or frying your turkey you will want to do a brine to make sure that your turkey is moist and has a lot of flavor! Brining does take time but it is worth it! You should brine your turkey 1 hour per pound!



Turkey Brine
1 1/2 cups Apple Cider
1 gallon cold filter water
2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon peppercorns
3 whole bay leaves
3 oranges (you will only be using the peels)


Peel the rosemary from the steam and dice a few of them to get the oils from the leaves. Carefully cut the top and bottom off of each orange and then slice of the peel in sections Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil for 5 minutes then cool. Then you are ready to submerge your turkey. Make sure you submerge it fully.  Wether you put it in a large poultry bag or in a cooler. Meat should be kept below 40 degrees F at all time. You can store it in a cooler and use bags of ice to keep the turkey cool. Half way through your brining time flip the bag over to make sure that your turkey is evenly brined. Try to avoid over brining your turkey so that your turkey does not get mushy.



Remove turkey from the brine and bake your turkey according to the directions on the back of the package. Or if you like smoke it, roast it or fry it! I will admit we usually do a fried turkey and a baked turkey! Then serve! 

Note: This post is about turkey prep and not the process of cooking your turkey. You can find great cooking tips HERE. Below is a picture of a fried turkey!


Also Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White Turkey has a Hotline # 1-800-810-6325 that will give you great information on how to select, prepare, cook, and carve your turkey for the holidays! They are there Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm CT and 6:00 am to Noon on Thanksgiving Day! Or contact them at their website 700reasons.com and click on the "Contact Us" link!






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Adult Halloween Party 2015


Halloween is a BIG deal in our home. I host 2 different Halloween parties. One is with 12 women that come over at the beginning of the month and then during one of the last weekends of the month we have about 50 couples in our home for an adult only halloween party! This year was our 6th year doing it and is probably my favorite night of the year! Here are my previous years Halloween party posts here and here! The costumes each year just keep getting better and better! I always try to come up with something new to add to the party each year! This year I added my "spooky lab" decorations and also added taking polaroid pictures with a camera when each couple walked in the door and then had an Instagram board made by my sister here to clip on the pictures so each couple could see what everyone was dressed up like for voting! 






The best way to start a party is to send out the right invitations! That way people can know that this is really a party that they would like to be at! Minted helped me create the perfect invitations for my guests! They have fun envelope inserts and labels and can even print the persons name who you will be sending it to right on the front! Minted does more then just invitations they have amazing Christmas cards, stationary, art work, wedding invitations and so much more! Head here to check them out! 



Since out home can only hold so many people a lot of the party is outside. I have the guests bring appetizers and desserts to share and I love seeing what others bring! One of my favorites this year was this mini cherry cheesecakes! 


Also outside we set up a few games of corn hole and the men played all night long! 












And now for the costumes!!!!













































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