Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hummus Cups with Veggies

This appetizer is a simple as you can possibly get! It was a huge hit at my last party!! It took me mere minutes to assemble and every single "cup" was eaten by the end of the night! Oh, and it's a healthy little app, too! SCORE!!! This is going to be my new go-to!! Enjoy!

Pre-made fillo shells (click here for an example)
Your favorite store bought hummus, any flavor
Cherry Tomatoes
Bell Peppers
Any veggie you like!

Fill pre-made shells with a heaping teaspoon of hummus. Fill with cut veggies of your choice. Serve cold.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lemonade Cookies

My friend, Kim, shared these super yummy, tart yet sweet, cookies with me recently. She brought them to a friend's holiday party and we all wanted to know what fancy bakery she bought them from! We were thrilled to learn that we can make them ourselves AND that they are incredibly simple! Yay for that! The cookie part just melts in your mouth while the lemon icing gives the cookies a pop of flavor. They are hard to resist and impossible to just eat one. A perfect cookie for the holidays and yet, with its refreshing taste, a perfect cookie in the summertime, as well. 

Please note that these are truly called Limoncello cookies and are made with, well, Limoncello! Since I don't drink alcohol and never have any in my house, I made them without the liquor. I have had them both ways and they are equally delicious. So, do as you like!!! Thank you, Kim!!!

1 stick room temp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 whole egg
4 tablespoons lemon zest (I used two lemons)
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
5 Tbl Limoncello plus 1 Tbl lemon juice
5 Tbl lemon juice (this is what I used)

Preheat oven to 350F
Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and salt with a mixer until fluffy. Combine butter mixture with lemon zest and egg. Add flour slowly and mix until blended (dough will be sticky). Place dough on parchment paper or plastic wrap and form into a 10 to 12" log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer. If you are short on time throw it in the freezer for 45 minutes. (I froze my cookie "log" for four days before I baked it!!! I took it out of the freezer about an hour and a half before I sliced it- they turned out great).

Slice log into 1/2" thick circles and bake on a silpat or greased cookie sheet for approx 12 to 13 minutes. Let them cool on the cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack to ice.

For the icing:
Combine confectioners' sugar, limoncello (if using) and lemon juice. Submerge cookies upside down into icing and then set on a wire rack to harden. I had extra icing so I drizzled it over the top of the already iced cookies! Extra yummy-ness!

One batch made around 15 can easily double the recipe for more!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a blogger I feel like I am always looking for the latest and greatest recipes to share.....the chocolatiest cookies, the cheesiest bread, the casserole loaded with as many ingredients as humanly possible! In this Pinterest-loving world we live in (and believe me, I am one of those crazy Pinterest lovers) it seems that every recipe is on steroids.  No longer are mere brownies acceptable - heaven forbid! We must now load the humble brownie with cookie dough....AND Oreos....AND caramel....and why not pretzels, too? And you know, my dear readers, I have plenty of posts on this site that contain all of these ingredients- all at once, of course! And often when I make these baked-goods-on-steroids, my children and husband have one and are done. The rest get sent to my husband's office. Not that they aren't delicious, they certainly are......but, it makes me wonder if I need to re-visit my roots every once in awhile and crank out a good 'ol chocolate chip cookie to satisfy the troops. And it seems, this is what they really long for.....not an oatmeal, flax-laden, cinnamon chip filled, pumpkin cookie.....but, a simple chocolate chip cookie.

Now, on the outside, these cookies look as simple as you can get.....but, that secret really did add a bit of pizazz! How can a simple 1/4 cup of cream cheese really give a chocolate chip cookie such....depth???.....but, without changing the basic molecular yummy-ness of what a chocolate chip cookie is all about?! Try this recipe and see for yourself. I don't know if I can go back to making chocolate chip cookies without it! Oh, and the proof? Well, this family of mine who is used to homemade baked treats being offered to them every other day.....the ones who eat one only and tell me to send the rest to dad's office.....well, they ate the whole darn batch (minus a cherished few that I gave to my neighbor and the kids' teachers)....there were none left to share after that.....every one of them gone! And the fun thing is I kept the dough chilled in the fridge for three days and baked them to order.

Thank you to the blog Just A Taste (an awesome blog, by the way!!) for sharing this secret ingredient with the world and opening our eyes to all that the chocolate chip cookie is truly meant to be! Here is the recipe verbatim from Just A Taste:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, light brown sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, beating to combine, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. 
Drop 2- to 3-tablespoon mounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the mounds at least 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tart & Refreshing Cranberry, Celery, Apple Juice

Every now and then I feel the need to share a juicing recipe so you all don't think I just sit around and eat pumpkin cookies all day long! I've been making this refreshing juice weekly. It makes enough for me to have a nice big glass three days in a row (I store it in an airtight glass container in the fridge and I use a masticating juicer). The tart cranberries, sweet apples and salty celery sticks blend together to make a lip smacking, eye opening breakfast juice that makes me say, "Ahhh!" every time I take a sip! I hope you feel the same way! Enjoy!

12 oz bag of cranberries, rinsed well (about two cups)
8 small apples
1 bunch of celery
lemon, peeled (optional)

Put all the fruit and celery through the juicer. Re-juice the pulp if you have a masticating juicer. Drink within the day or store for a couple of days in an air-tight glass container.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pasta Salad with Broccoli & Pecans

I love this take on the classic cold broccoli salad. The cranberries and pecans give it a subtle sweetness while the bacon adds a nice salty/savory element. Adding the pasta really amps this typical side dish up to a filling main course.  My husband RAVED while eating - I will definitely make this again! Enjoy!

*This made enough for two adults. It can easily be doubled to accommodate a larger crowd.
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 6 oz cooked bow-tie pasta
  • 2 to 3 heads of fresh broccoli, rinsed and DRIED well
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbl white sugar
  • 3 Tbl red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans on a cookie sheet for 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool.
Cut broccoli florets from the stems and separate florets into small pieces. Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt in a large bowl. Add broccoli, cooked pasta, cranberries, pecans and cooked, crumbled bacon. Cover and chill for about 2 or 3 hours.  Enjoy!