Beverages

Recipe—Creamy Hot Cocoa in a Crock-Pot

Over the weekend we had a holiday cookie decorating party for my son and his little buddies from school. It was wonderful! All the kiddos huddled around the table eating the cookie toppings quicker than they were putting them on the actual frosted cookies getting all hopped up on sugar. I love this time of year!

I wanted to have a little hot cocoa bar where all the kids (and grown ups) could make themselves a fancy cup of cocoa. I’m not talking little envelopes of dry god knows what. I’m talking thick and creamy REAL hot cocoa. The kind that fills you up and warms your belly, the kind that leaves a thick creamy mustache on your upper lip with every sip. I made this a couple of hours before the party and it was perfect! Along with a big crock pot full of pure joy I had bowls of marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, chocolate sprinkles, whip cream, and then of course some grown up mixers (Kahlua, Disaronno, Baily’s, Frangelico, and peppermint schnapps). Hey if you know me, you know I don’t half ass anything. 😉

This hot cocoa was by far the best I ever had! If you are having a few people and want to make something very special this holiday season then I recommend you make this hot cocoa. It will take every grown up back to their childhood days and will be memorable for all the kiddos.

Note: Makes 8–12 servings.

INGREDIENTS
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz bag chocolate chips (dark, milk, or white chocolate will all work)
2 c heavy whipping cream
6 c milk (2% or whole)
1 tsp vanilla

STEPS

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large crock-pot.
  • Turn on low.
  • Cook for 2 hours stirring occasionally using a whisk.
  • Ladle into a mug, add in your mixer (optional), and top with your favorite treats or leave as is.
Sweet Treats

‘Tis the Season for Baking

It’s the first week of December and I am going into the baking season full steam ahead! If you are looking for some cookie or bar recipes that are outside the norm then you have come to the right place! Here are some of my favorite sweet treat recipes that are sure to be a hit with your lucky recipients. Enjoy!

Holiday Sweet Treats

  1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
  2. Banana Toffee Cookies
  3. Chocolate Crackle Cookies
  4. Peanut Butter Cookies
  5. Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
  6. Craisin White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
  7. Sugar Cookie Bars
  8. Chunky Monkey Cookies
  9. Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
  10. Lemon Crackle Cookies
  11. Oreo Truffles
  12. Confetti Cake Batter Cookies
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Chocolate Crackle Cookies

A long time ago in a land far far away, I posted a recipe for Lemon Crackle Cookies. (Okay, it wasn’t that long ago nor that far away.) They were awesome! Perhaps the name Chocolate Crack Cookies would be more appropriate for this recipe since you will not be able to stop eating them! Since the base for my crackle cookies is a box of cake mix they are perfectly fluffy, super moist, ultra fudgy, and easier to make than any cookie should be. This recipe is very straightforward and easy. Anyone can make them. Really. I promise! While they may look complicated all you are doing is rolling the dough into balls, coating them generously with powdered sugar, and then baking them. They do all the fancy crackling while baking. Give them a try. Everyone you share with will be very pleased you did.

INGREDIENTS

2 (18.25 oz) boxes Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • In a large bowl mix together dry cake mix, eggs, and oil.
  • Put the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or plate.
  • Form small balls with the dough and then roll them in the powdered sugar. Be sure the cookies have a really thick coating of the sugar if you want them to have that crackle look.
  • Place at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 7–9 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cutting board or cooling rack.
Brunch, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Pistachio Bread

When it comes to the classic Jell-O one of my favorite flavors has always been pistachio. I know, I’m kind of a freak. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate but there is just something about the pistachio that is pretty fabulous too. When I saw this recipe for pistachio bread that called for my favorite tasty green pudding I knew I had to give it a try. I served this bread as a brunch item but with it’s cake base it could easily be a dessert. It ended up super moist, fluffy, and had just the right amount of nutty pistachio flavor. My four-year-old son got a kick out of making and eating green bread. It is so easy to make that I recommend putting the kiddos in the kitchen and letting them help. Such a fun recipe to make together!

INGREDIENTS
15 oz box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/4 oil
3/4 c water
3.4 oz package instant pistachio Jell-O pudding, unprepared
1 c sour cream
10 drops green food coloring
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 c pistachios or pecans, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Grease two bread loaves.
  • Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Divide the batter among the two loaf pans.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  • Cool 10 minutes and remove from bread pans.
  • Allow to cool an additional 15 minutes or more before slicing.
Uncategorized

27 Cookout Recipes

Cookout Banner

‘Tis the season for outdoor BBQs, cookouts, and potlucks. I have put together 27 of my favorite summertime recipes for you to try. You will find everything from drinks to desserts. Now get outside and have some fun with friends and some fabulous food. Enjoy!

REFRESHING BEVERAGES

1. Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
2. Blended Mango Margaritas
3. Summertime White Sangria

APPEALING APPETIZERS

Summertime Appetizers

1. Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball
2. Off the Chain Cheddar Crackers
3. Creamy Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups
4. Garlic Parmesan Wings
5. Queso Fundido
6. Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip

MUST HAVE SIDE DISHES

Summertime Side Dishes

1. Broccoli Salad
2. Classic Macaroni Salad
3. Crunchy Pea Salad
4. Italian Pasta Salad
5. Chili (The Classic Kind)
6. Potato Salad

THE MAIN DISH

1. Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos
2. BBQ Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop with Grilled Onions
3. Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Sammy
4. Mexican Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
5. Classic Chicken Salad Sandwich
6. Rio Grande Spice Rub Steak with Grilled Red Onions

SWEET TREATS

1. Banana Split Pie
2. Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip
3. Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes in Mason Jars
4. Triple Chocolate Parfait
5. Strawberry Pie
6. Personal Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Triple Chocolate Parfait

Last weekend we celebrated the hubby’s 35th birthday. (Happy birthday babe!) I wanted to make him a fabulous dessert but he is not much of a cake guy. You may remember this from last year when I shared a recipe for Snickers Cake. He does however like chocolate so I threw together these triple chocolate jars of goodness and they were a real hit! You have the nice cakey layer from the Oreos, a thick rich chocolate pudding layer, and then the Cool Whip combined with pudding creates a lite and airy chocolate mousse. Layer upon layer of tasty goodness! And I am totally loving desserts in mason jars. One of our guests couldn’t finish hers so we just threw a lid on it and she took it home for later. Super convenient and and so cute!

Note: This recipe will make enough to fill four 12 oz mason jars (pictured) or six 8 oz mason jars. These can be made a full day in advance. The Oreos take on a nice cake like consistency the longer they sit. 

INGREDIENTS
5.9 oz box instant chocolate fudge Jell-O pudding
3 1/2 c milk
8 oz container Cool Whip
20 Oreos, crushed

STEPS

  • Prepare instant pudding per package instructions using the milk.
  • Place pudding in fridge and chill for 20 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir together the container of Cool Whip and about half of the prepared pudding until well combined.
  • Place a heaping spoonful of the crushed Oreos in the bottom of your serving dishes and then top with a couple of tablespoons of the pudding, followed by a couple tablespoons of the Cool Whip mixture.
  • Repeat until the containers are full making sure to finish off with the crumbled Oreos.
  • Chill until ready to serve.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

As I announced a few weeks back after my break from blogging I started a new job back in August. It’s always a rough transition moving out of your comfort zone into something totally new. New environment. New responsibilities. New coworkers. Eek! It can be kind of nerve racking! Well the way I deal with nerves is food. Yes, I am an emotional eater! So I made a batch of these wonderful delicious bars but I couldn’t bear to eat them all so what did I do, I took them to work to share with my new co-workers. Way to bond and score some points at the new gig, right? Well these were a hit and I apologize that the recipe is 5 months late getting to you. Good news is I am still at my job so I must have made quite the impression with my tasty treats or maybe it’s my mad skills.

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

COOKIE DOUGH INGREDIENTS
5 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp sugar
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c flour
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • Line a 8” x 8” baking dish with foil making sure there is enough to go up all four edges of the pan.
  • In a medium bowl mix together all of the graham cracker crust ingredients.
  • Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking pan using a spoon or backside of a spatula making sure that it is firmly packed.
  • Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven.
  • While the crust cools beat together all of the cheesecake ingredients on low speed until smooth.
  • Pour the cheesecake mixture into the baking dish and set aside.
  • In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and salt until well combined and smooth.
  • Add in the flour until well incorporated.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Sprinkle small clumps of the cookie dough over the top of the cheesecake mixture making sure to cover most of the dish.
  • Bake until the cookie dough looks cooked and the cheesecake has set, about 25–30 minutes.
  • Move the dish to a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.
  • Chill in the fridge for a few hours.
  • Remove the entire “bar” from the baking dish by holding onto the edges of the foil and lifting it from the pan.
  • Slice into small squares and eat up.
Brunch, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Raspberry Turnovers

Over the summer my mom was coming for a visit and I was trying to think of something fun that we could do outside. I decided to take her, my husband, and son berry picking at Patrick’s Mountain Grown Fresh Berry Farm. It was a total blast!

We ended up picking 12 pounds of delicious raspberries and blackberries.

Within 24 hours of picking we made raspberry jam, blackberry jam, blackberry ice cream, blackberry cobbler, mixed berry hand pies, and these tasty raspberry turnovers. (Don’t worry, I will eventually get around to sharing all of those fabulous recipes.) We ended up making these for breakfast and oh my goodness were they tasty! The perfect balance of sweet and tart. While it may not be berry season right now, you can most certainly find some at your local market. So please, give these a try. They are the perfect treat for breakfast or dessert.

Note: If you don’t think you will eat these all in one sitting, no need to waste. Just freeze some of them! They freeze great and can easily be baked at a later date. Just place any extra unbaked turnovers on a wax paper lined sheet and freeze for at least an hour. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to an airtight bag or container. When you are ready to cook them just place them on the parchment paper lined baking sheet for 15–20 minutes and then bake as directed below.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c flour
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1/2 c raspberry jam
1 1/4 c fresh raspberries
1 egg
1 tbsp water
2 tsp sugar

STEPS

  • Spread the flour around your work surface and unfold the puff pastry sheets.
  • Cut each sheet into either 4 or 9 squares. It just depends how small or large you want your turnovers.
  • In a small bowl mix together the jam and raspberries.
  • Place an even amount of the raspberry filling in the center of each square of puff pastry.
  • Fold each puff pastry square in half diagonally gently pinching around the edges to seal.
  • Carefully transfer the turnovers to a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish them making sure they are at least an inch apart.
  • Using a the prongs of a fork carefully press down along the unfolded edges “crimping the pastry dough.
  • Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash over the top of each turnover.
  • Sprinkle the top of each with a little bit of the sugar.
  • Using a small paring knife cut one slit in the top to help with venting.
  • Place your baking sheet in the freezer for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350º while the turnovers are chilling.
  • Once they are finished in the freezer and your oven is preheated bake them until they are a nice golden brown, about 18–20 minutes.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Last weekend we went to another summer BBQ. This one was about two hours away and would be a long windy drive. I needed a dessert that would transport well. Pies seem to always end up squished and most of my Pyrex dishes wont fit in my ice chest. I have seen individual desserts in mason jars trending on Pinterest and I thought to myself, “I bet something like that would transport wonderfully.” And they did! Now what to put in them? Hmm…

If you have been following my blog for a while now then you may know that I love my cheesecake. I am not picky about my desserts but if it has the word “cheesecake” in the name I will lack all self control. So I knew I wanted some sort of cheesecake in a jar. (I know, pretty self-serving right?) Blueberries were on sale at the grocery store and so my decision was made. I would be taking individual blueberry cheesecakes in mason jars. They made a great presentation, were out of this world good, could not have been easier to serve, and they were fun to eat. In other words, they were amazing!

Note: I was able to fill six 8 ounce mason jars. You can get also get 4 ounce jars for smaller servings.

BLUEBERRY FILLING INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp butter
4 c blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp water

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c butter, melted
1 1/4 c sugar, divided
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c milk
8 oz tub of Cool Whip
mason jars (see note above regarding sizes)

BLUEBERRY FILLING STEPS

  • Melt the 2 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add in the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
  • Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the pot.
  • Lightly mash the blueberries with a hand held masher making sure to leave about half of the berries in tact.
  • Bring the blueberry filling to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
  • Cook the filling for 6–8 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Remove from heat.

CHEESECAKE STEPS

  • While the blueberry filling is cooling, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 c of the sugar.
  • Distribute the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of each jar saving a couple of spoonfuls for garnish.
  • Using a hand held mixer, beat together the cream cheese and remaining cup of sugar until well combined. Gradually add in the milk until it is nice and creamy.
  • Distribute the cream cheese filling among the jars. (I transferred my filling into a Ziploc bag, cut of the corner, and piped it into each jar.)
  • Add a layer of the blueberry filling to each jar.
  • Fill the rest of the jar with Cool Whip and sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumbs.
  • Add lids if you will be transporting your dessert.
  • Chill for at least one hour before serving.
  • Enjoy!
Snacks, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip

The other day I was going to be attending a pool party for one of my favorite munchkins. I knew there would be plenty of kids there and I wanted to bring a snack that all the kids would love and have fun eating. Well turns out the grownups liked this just as much as the little ones. This cookie dip was a HUGE hit! This is a cream cheese based dip blended with a scoop of dry cake mix giving it the true cake batter flavor. It was delicious! Super creamy and just the right amount of sweet. I’m guessing this will forever be a staple on our party menus.  It would be perfect for a birthday party or any type of social event, and I’m sure it will get people talking. This is by no means healthy, but sometimes you just need to relax and let the kids have a little fun enjoying a special treat. It’s all about moderation after all, not that you will be able to control yourself with this dip. So dive in, let loose, and enjoy this perfect youthful treat! I know you can’t resist.

Note: I served this dip with Nilla wafers but I know it would go great with graham crackers or animal crackers as well.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 c butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 cup dry funfetti cake mix
1 tsp vanilla
1/4–1/2 c milk
1/4 c sprinkles, plus more for garnish

STEPS

  • Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cake mix for 2 minutes.
  • Add in vanilla and cooled butter and continue beating for another 2 minutes.
  • Beat in the vanilla and then 1/4 cup of the milk. Add more milk as needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.
  • Transfer the dip to a small bowl for serving and garnish with additional sprinkles. Serve immediately with your favorite dippers or refrigerate until ready to serve. (Note: the dip will get very firm in the fridge so remove it 15–20 minutes before you plan on serving it to allow it to soften.)