Pistachio & Cranberry Cookies

You probably have figured out that I don’t bake that often, but when I do, I like to make something special.  I am not the best at following directions, which is why I tend to stick with cooking and winging my own thing.  I have been trying to bake a little bit more which has been so fun!  In trying to find the perfect recipe for the cookie swap last month, I stumbled upon this adorable semi-homemade recipe from one of my favorite blogs, The Girl Who Ate Everything.  I ended up choosing the Peppermint Pattie Cookies for the cookie swap, but still HAD to make these! Continue reading

Peppermint Pattie Cookies

 

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It’s Cookie Swap Time!!!

This is the third year I’ve participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I just love it.  Here’s how it works:  I whip up a huge batch of cookies and send a dozen to three different bloggers that I am assigned to.  My favorite part about it all… three different bloggers send ME a dozen cookies each!  It’s such a fun way to try new recipes and share with friends in the holiday spirit.  As if three dozen cookies isn’t enough, the best thing about the swap is that we raise money for an awesome cause, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.   How awesome is that?

This cookie recipe is screaming to be made for this holiday season.   Continue reading

Spinach Colcannon & the Kerrygold Holiday Contest

Back when I worked at Trader Joe’s, I was introduced to Kerrygold Butter.  At first, I didn’t understand why or how one butter could be different from another… but then I tasted it.  Wow.  Kerrygold uses milk from grass-fed cows to produce extra creamy, sweet, and rich butter.  You can absolutely taste the difference.  One of my co-workers from Trader Joe’s, Will, is obsessed with Kerrygold.  When I started my blogger partnership with them, I immediately thought of my friend Will and his love for this special butter.

Will- this recipe is for you!

This version of mashed potatoes isn’t just your normal Thanksgiving style smashed Yukons with some milk and butter.  This recipe was inspired by the Kerrygold butter itself- it is my version of the classic Irish dish Colcannon.  Typically, Colcannon is a mashed potato dish made with cabbage and loads of butter.  In this recipe, I used crumbled bacon, scallions, and in place of cabbage I used tons of fresh baby spinach.

Spinach Colcannon made with Kerrygold Butter

Ingredients:

3lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

8 Tablespoons Unsalted Kerrygold Butter, plus more for serving

3 slices Bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled

1 6-oz bag of baby Spinach

3 Green Onions, chopped

1 cup Skim Milk

Sea Salt, Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder to taste

Directions:

1.  Put the chopped potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes or until they’re fork tender.  Drain.  Put the potatoes back in the pot.

2.  In a glass measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave about 30 seconds at a time until warm.  Meanwhile, start to smash the hot potatoes with a fork or a potato masher.  Add the butter, a tablespoon or two at a time, mashing into the potatoes.  Now, pour about half of the milk into the potatoes and stir.  Add the chopped bacon, spinach, and green onions.  Stir.

3.  Add more milk if the potatoes are too thick.  It’s all about how you like them to taste!  Add sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder starting with 1/2 teaspoon of each.  Add a sprinkle more until you like the way it tastes.  Serve hot with a pat of butter on top.  Enjoy!

Click here to check out Kerrygold Butter and Cheeses!

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And for your holiday season enjoyment… check out this ah-may-zing song about… you guessed it!!  Colcannon!  Hilarious.

Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies & 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Oh hey bloggy friends!  It’s been too long, hasn’t it?

The holiday season is the perfect time to make happy food.  It’s a time to momentarily forget our diets, stop counting the calories, and just sit back and enjoy some yummy comfort food.  For me- that kind of food is dessert!  And my favorite dessert has to be cookies 🙂

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This is the second year I’ve participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I cannot wait to tell you about the delicious cookies I made!  Here’s how it works:  I whip up a huge batch of cookies and send a dozen to three different bloggers that I am assigned to.  The best part… three different bloggers send ME a dozen cookies each!  It’s such a fun way to try new recipes and share with friends in the holiday spirit.

Today, I’m going to share the recipe I made with you.  I have been dying to try this creative semi-homemade recipe from Southern Living for a few years now.  I left out the glaze topping in the hopes that they would be better for shipping to my FB Cookie Swap friends… and they turned out so fabulous!  I know it sounds a little strange at first, but the flavors are amazing.  The eggnog keeps the cookies unbelievably moist.  These are the perfect addition to your holiday cookies repertoire!

Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies

Ingredients:

1 Chai Tea Bag

1 package Sugar Cookie Mix (Betty Crocker)

1/2 cup Melted Butter (one stick)

1 large Egg

2 Tablespoons Eggnog

Cinnamon Sugar

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350. 

2.  Remove tea leaves from bag- discard bag.  Mix tea leaves, cookie mix, butter, egg, and the 2 Tablespoons of eggnog until well blended.  

3.  Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheets.  Flatten dough with the bottom of a glass dipped in cinnamon sugar.

4.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.  ENJOY!

Original Recipe from:  Southern Living

I am LOVING the Kerrygold butter I've been using this winter... so creamy!

I am LOVING the Kerrygold butter I’ve been using this winter… so creamy!

I got to make a huge batch- had to make FOUR dozen... three for the swap and one for us :)

I got to make a huge batch- had to make FOUR dozen… three for the swap and one for us 🙂

Flattening the cookies and adding some crunchy cinnamon sugar

Flattening the cookies and adding some crunchy cinnamon sugar

All done!

All done!

I love the flecks of Chai Tea that you can see throughout the cookies.  They are crunchy on the edges and nice and chewy in the middle.

I love the flecks of Chai Tea that you can see throughout the cookies. They are crunchy on the edges and nice and chewy in the middle.

Cotton Candy Birthday Bars

If you haven’t realized this on your own yet… I don’t bake very often.

Today I’m baking for a special reason.  It’s my sister’s birthday!!  (well tomorrow)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELISSA!

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I decided to make her these colorful Cotton Candy Bars as an homage to our childhood.  Mellie and I always chose the most disgusting  outrageously sugary and colorful flavors everywhere we went.  Whether it was ice cream, the soda syrup at Nifty Fifty’s, or the fluoride at the dentist office… you could put money on Mellie and I choosing the weirdest one.  Cotton Candy was always the winner over Bubblegum.

When I saw this recipe on The Domestic Rebel (the most amazing blog about sweets), I immediately thought about Mel.  I had to make these for her!

The best thing about The Domestic Rebel is that she does a ton of semi-homemade goodies.  These bars were so easy to make which was perfect for my busy weekday schedule.

Cotton Candy Birthday Bars

Ingredients:

1 Box Funfetti cake mix
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Canola Oil
2 pkts Duncan Hines Cotton Candy Recipe Creations Flavor Mix
1 cup White Chocolate Chips
1 can Duncan Hines Frosting Starter kit
Sprinkles

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, oil and ONE packet of the cotton candy mix with a rubber spatula until blended and combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Plop the mixture into the baking dish and using your hands, spread the dough evenly over the bottom.  Bake for 10-14 minutes (Hayley suggested 14-16 but after checking around 11 minutes, mine was ready to come out… so keey an eye!) until edges are lightly golden and center is set.  Allow to cool completely before frosting 
4. Stir the remaining flavor packet into the can of icing. Spread the icing evenly onto the cooled bars and top with sprinkles. Refrigerate for about an hour before cutting into squares.  

Recipe from:  The Domestic Rebel

You know you've seen these in the baking section this year!  I was super psyched to try them out.

You know you’ve seen these in the baking section this year! I was super psyched to try them out.

BLUE!!!!!!!

BLUE!!!!!!!

I could eat this whole dough ball, I swear.

I could eat this whole dough ball, I swear.

The mixture turns out pretty thick so I had to press down with my hands to spread it out as best as I could.

The mixture turns out pretty thick so I had to press down with my hands to spread it out as best as I could.

I had so much fun swirling the cotton candy flavoring into the icing :)

I had so much fun swirling the cotton candy flavoring into the icing 🙂

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YUM!  I just love how perfectly blue these babies turned out.  It’s not often you get to eat blue food… unless you have an awesome Mom like we did who let us put food coloring in our mashed potatoes!

So give these sugary bars a shot and let your inner child have some fun!  Happy Birthday Mellie!

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Chocolate-Banana Cream Poke Cake

Where have I been?  Oh, I’m sorry… I’ve neglected you because I have to work off all of the calories I’ve consumed over the past weekend!  Dave, Stella, and I joined my parents “Down the Shore (see post here)” to celebrate my Dad’s birthday.

I had to show off this AMAZING pic we got of Miss Stella at the beach from this trip :)

I had to show off this AMAZING pic we got of Miss Stella at the beach from this trip 🙂

We dined at one of our favorite restaurants, Chef Vola’s… eating LARGE portions of delicious home-cooked Italian food and even better desserts.

Although we ordered a slice and devoured Chef Vola’s’  famous Banana Cream Pie, I wanted to make a birthday cake for my Dad in honor of his favorite flavor combination:  Chocolate & Banana.

I feel like most people hate on Bananas and Banana flavored things.  I’ve never understood why?  I love it, and it is by far my Dad’s favorite thing ever.

After pinning and saving several poke cake recipes all over the internet, I though this was a great chance to try one out.  The best part about these cakes is that they’re very easy- they’re just doctored up cakes!

Chocolate-Banana Cream Poke Cake

Ingredients:

1 Box Golden Butter Cake Mix (or other yellow… whatever!)

Ingredients to make cake (3 eggs, 7 TBSP butter, water)

1 pkg Banana Sugar Free Fat Free Pudding Mix

1 pkg Chocolate Sugar Free Fat Free Pudding Mix (i used Chocolate Fudge mmm)

Ingredients to make puddings (2 cups Milk per packet, so 4 total!)

1 tub Cool Whip (light)

1 cup Crushed Nilla Wafers

Directions:

1.  Bake cake according to directions on the box.  Meanwhile, prepare the puddings.  Let the puddings rest for 5 minutes, they will thicken up right away.

2.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then take the handle of a wooden spoon and poke holes through to the bottom all over the cake.

3.  Spread the banana pudding over the cake making sure to get into the holes.  Take the wooden spoon again and poke a few more holes ontop of the banana pudding.  Spread the chocolate pudding over the banana, spreading evenly over the cake.

4.  Now, spread the Cool Whip over the puddings and cake.  Finish the cake by sprinkling lots of crushed Nilla Wafers on top.  

I want to recommend putting some sliced or chopped up banana in the pudding layer too!  But like I said, this is for my Dad and I didn’t want to “ruin” the dessert with fruit (haha).

We all loved this cake, it was perfectly moist and wasn’t too overly banana either.  I can’t wait to try out other poke cake recipes!  What should be next?!

They don't call it a poke cake for nothin'!

They don’t call it a poke cake for nothin’!

Yummy...

Yummy…

Banana first

Banana first

Then chocolate, mmm!

Then chocolate, mmm!

The finished product!

The finished product!

Hooray for Birthday Cake Cross-Sectionals!

Hooray for Birthday Cake Cross-Sectionals!

I rarely make desserts but when I do, I make it count!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bakes

Coffee & Chocolate Krispies

Coffee & Chocolate Krispies

Apple-Toffee Blondies w/ Brown Sugar Frosting

Apple-Toffee Blondies w/ Brown Sugar Frosting

Sweet & Sour Brisket

I have been a busy busy girl the past week or two with the holidays and some other things going on.  Dave and I split our holiday time between our two families so we got to celebrate Passover sedar twice!

I was so excited when my Mommom told me I could make something to help out this year.  I was back and forth as to what to make but finally decided to take on the responsibility of making the Brisket.  This would be a risky choice, having never made it before… but I was up for the challenge.  With the assistance of my crockpot and my handy-dandy Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I made one hell of a brisket!  Yay!

I realize Passover is OVER for this year, but there is always time for a good Brisket.

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Ingredients:

1 4-5lb Brisket (mine was 5.25)

1.5 teaspoons Sea Salt, plus some more for seasoning the meat

Black Pepper

1 cup Beef Broth

3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

4 teaspoons Paprika

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)

1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

2 Tablespoons Onion Powder

Directions:

Step 1:  Cook Brisket.  Season the meat with Salt and Pepper on both sides.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Place the meat in a slow cooker, pour the sauce over it, and set it to cook on LOW for 10 hours.  Your house is going to smell phenomenal.

Step 2:  Rest Brisket.  Resist the urge to eat the brisket… it’s going to get better with time.  While the meat is still hot, scrape off any large fat pieces on the edges.  There was a TON on mine.  Transfer the brisket into a baking dish, making sure to keep all of the sauce too.  Chill in the refrigerator for anywhere between a few hours to a whole day.  

Step 3:  Re-Heat Brisket.  An hour before you need to eat the brisket, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Remove the grease that has hardened on the top of the meat and sauce (or not, but it’s really nasty so I recommend it).  Remove the brisket from the dish and place on a large cutting board.  Slice while cold and transfer back into the saucy baking dish and spoon the sauce over the meat.  Bake in the oven until heated through, the sauce should be bubbly on the edges.  Serve immediately.

Recipe from:  the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Note:  The original recipe includes directions for cooking in the oven.  Briefly… Cook the meat in a 350 degree preheated oven in a dutch oven or in a baking dish tightly covered with foil.  Bake for 3 hours.  

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Had to stuff this bad boy in there!  It's amazing how much it shrinks though... so much fat to remove.

Had to stuff this bad boy in there! It’s amazing how much it shrinks though… so much fat to remove.

Gettin' Saucy!

Gettin’ Saucy!

This is all I had to dirty while making the brisket... love it.

This is all I had to dirty while making the brisket… love it.

I was SO nervous about this silly brisket!  I really wanted to make something big and new and exciting and I didn’t want to screw it up.  To add to my new recipe anxiety, I was stupid and didn’t read the cooking time until I had already started at 6:30pm on Saturday.  If I did it the right way, that would have meant to take it out at 4:30am.  LOL.

Lucky for me, Dave was out at a bachelor party and I was already waiting for him and awake at 2:30 to finish the brisket up.  Lesson learned:  read directions first.  Duh.

Cooled brisket with the grease scraped off.  Ready to be sliced.

Cooled brisket with the grease scraped off. Ready to be sliced.

It's easiest to slice the brisket when it's cold.  You'll get better slices whereas when you cut it after it's reheated it'll be more fork tender and fall apart.

It’s easiest to slice the brisket when it’s cold. You’ll get better slices whereas when you cut it after it’s reheated it’ll be more fork tender and fall apart.

Once the brisket is cut, I transfered it to my dutch oven to heat up for dinner.  Don't stress if the slices break a little... those will be the best bites!

Once the brisket is cut, I transfered it to my dutch oven to heat up for dinner. Don’t stress if the slices break a little… those will be the best bites!

 

What a great spread... brisket was so good.

What a great spread… brisket was so good.

Despite my nerves and anxiety, the brisket was awesome.  It was so easy to make and turned out absolutely perfect and delicious.  The brisket was so moist and flavorful, it was also the perfect combination of sliced pieces and the fally-apart pieces that sop up all the sauce.  MMM!

I do have to pat myself on the back once more and mention to you that my Dad who has NEVER tried Brisket in my lifetime not only tried this one… but really liked it.  Whatttttttttt?!

It’s a good thing when there are no leftovers, right?  I’d say next time I’d make a bigger one but this 5.25 lb baby hardly fit into my crockpot!

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