Monday, December 17, 2012

Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies

**It was one busy weekend in my kitchen!  Between trying to finish the last installment of my Dad's Cookie club and pull together Christmas cookies, it was a whirlwind!  
These cookies are sure to be this year's standout! **

One of my cooking baking philosophies is that food should be "real"

I think you should be able to recite an ingredient list without an advanced degree in bio-chemistry, in less than 45 seconds and without a stomach-ache at the end. 

I try to stick to foods that are homemade and contain five or less ingredients but, I will grudgingly admit that, it doesn't always happen.

These cookies are hands down better than other creme filled sandwich cookie you could find on a store shelf.  And you can recite the ingredients (and directions!) in less than five minutes!

Homemade Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies
(slightly adapted from Food Network)
(makes 3 dozen sandwiches)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate 4squares)
2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted PLUS
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
4 ounces sweet butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 eggs 

Microwave chocolate in 30 second intervals until smooth and melted (this took approx: 90 seconds)
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In mixing bowl, cream the butter,  vanilla and sugar, and beat to mix well. Add the melted chocolate, and beat until incorporated. Then add the  milk and the egg, and beat to mix well. On low speed add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beating only until incorporated.
Place the dough on a piece of wax paper, fold the sides of the paper over the dough, and press down on the paper to flatten the dough to a 1" thickness.
Wrap in the waxed paper and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (no longer or the dough will crack when you roll it out). (However, if you do refrigerate it for longer (even overnight) let it stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before rolling it out.)
Preheat oven to 400. Halve the dough (this will make it easier!)
Line cookie sheets with silpat or parchment paper. 
With a floured rolling pin (which should be refloured frequently to avoid sticking), roll the dough out until it is only 1/8" thick (thin). Use a cookie cutter the cookies as close to each other as possible.
Place the cookies 1/2" apart on the baking sheet. 
Leftover pieces of the dough should be pressed together and rerolled.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, until the cookies feel almost firm to the touch. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely before assembling
Peppermint Butter Cream Frosting
1 stick butter
3 ¾ cup powder sugar
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
1-2 tablespoon milk

In a large bowl with electric mixer at low speed, combine sugar, butter, milk and peppermint. Beat at medium speed 1 to 2 minutes until creamy. If desired, add more milk until frostIng is spreading consistency.

Candy Cane Garnish
4-6 crushed candy canes

After cookies have cooled, spread a small amount of frosting on each half of cookie.  Press cookie halves together and lightly roll the edges in the crushes candycane.  Serve with an ice cold glass of milk (or hot cup of coffee).  And hope at least one gets saved for Santa!!!!


These peppermint blossom cookies are another favorite of mine.  Jessica has the recipe but my only suggestion is to freeze the kiss, put it in the center of the cookie as soon as you take it out of the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring to cooling rack)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Italian Bread Soup

When I first saw this soup recipe I was a little confused.

Bread? Soup? (And no it's not in a bread bowl!)

But I like tomatoes and I LOVE croutons so I figured I'd give it a go.

This soup smells delicious and tastes even better!

The bread absorbs most of the moisture and thickens up the soup.

This soup is light but filling on it's own or could be paired with chicken or salad for a heartier appetite.

Italian Bread Soup
(from Sandra Lee) 
(serves 4)

2 cans (14 ounces each) reduced sodium chicken broth

4 cans (14.5 ounce each) fire roasted diced tomatoes
3 cups Caesar-style croutons
1 cup frozen chopped onion
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese 

 In a 4 quart slow cooker, combine chicken broth, undrained tomatoes, croutons, onion, and salad dressing mix. Cook on High for 4 to 6 hours. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 


(Notes: while the soup was delicious and easily reheated, I do not recommend freezing it.  Can be made vegetarian by subbing vegetable broth)
(Also, I apologize for the lack of photos... camera incident :/)

Monday, December 3, 2012

On the Go: Egg Muffins

This recipe was the result of extreme laziness.  

Let me explain. 

First, I saw a similar pin on Pinterest sometime last Spring (probably when I was supposed to be writing a paper and yet, I never actually pinned it...  double the laziness)

Secondly, I love Starbucks Spinach Egg White Wraps.  But couldn't the fathom the idea of walking 3 minutes to get one.

So, instead I figured I'd just whip up my own spinach and egg combination.  Oh yes, there's feta too... it makes everything "bet-a"   (and also lost any lazy points previously scored)

This literally took less than 3 minutes to whip up and after 20minutes, breakfast was served (and leftovers saved for the future)

These would be the ideal recipe to make on a Sunday morning and then saved for the rest of the week 
(or made ahead for a brunch (with easy cleanup) so you (and the kids) can have a healthy and hearty breakfast.

On the Go: Spinach and Feta Egg Muffins
(inspired by Pinterest; produced by Laziness)
(makes 6 muffins)

5oz package frozen spinach 
2oz fat free crumbled feta
5 eggs


Preheat oven to 350*

Defrost spinach in the microwave, approximately for 2 minutes.  Drain water. (I used a fine mesh strainer and also patted with a paper towel)

While spinach is defrosting, crack eggs and scramble with milk.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Mix in spinach and equally pour into muffin tin.  Bake for 20 mins. Let cool and either freeze or refrigerate for future lazy mornings.  

(Note: this recipe is easily doubled just use one or two less eggs than muffins needed.  However, extra egg mixture can be scrambled up and enjoyed that way as well)


Sunday, December 2, 2012

CrockPot Italian Chicken

This is one of my favorite CrockPot recipes.

As I've said before I love the CrockPot for being able to set it before a long day and being able to come home after the long day to a hot and delicious meal. 

This recipe is perfect to tailor to your own taste.  Prefer green beans? Toss 'em in.  At the CrockPot party, everyone is welcome!

Crockpot Italian Chicken
(from Sandra Lee)
(Serves 6)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of Italian salad dressing
1 package of Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
1 (8oz) package of fresh sliced mushrooms
1 (28oz) can of peeled whole tomatoes (drained)
1 (10.75oz) can of cream of chicken soup
1 (10oz) package of frozen artichokes 


In the crockpot add the mushrooms, artichokes, peeled whole tomatoes, and vegetable soup mix. Combine the cream of chicken soup, and the italian salad dressing in a bowl and mix until well blended. Add the chicken to the crockpot and pour the soup and dressing sauce overtop of the chicken to coat it. 
Cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours.  


(I had a few issues with my camera/upload/accidentally deleting all my pics... please forgive the lack of pictures!)