Thursday, December 29, 2011

Candied Pecans

I made these for the previous salad post but lets be honest, I ate most of them NOT in my salad!  I just LOVE these!  They are so easy, so good and will be made often in my house! There are lots of recipes for these, they are all pretty much the same.  So here is what I did...

Candied Pecans
(2 cups of pecans)

2 cups unsalted pecans (or walnuts or almonds) 
2 T butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
nutmeg or cinnamon (or both)

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan.  Add the sugar, nuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg or both.  Stir constantly over medium high heat until the sugar melts and turns a golden brown color.  Once the sugar has melted and turns brown remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Mix well. Dump the candied nuts onto the cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and spread out as much as possible.  Let them cool completely. 

Use the nuts in salad or keep in an airtight container for munching! These would be great over ice cream as well!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poppy Seed Dressing

I got this recipe from my SIL Adena.  It is wonderful! I altered it slightly but will put the original on here with my modifications in parenthesis.  This dressing is quick and easy and I LOVE having it in my fridge!

Poppy Seed Dressing

1 1/2 T poppy seeds
3/4 cup rice vinegar (I used 1/2 cup rice vinegar and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar)
1 1/2 cups oil (I used canola)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 t grated onion
1/2 t salt
3/4 t dry mustard
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion (I omitted this)
1 lb. Mushrooms, sliced (I also omitted this)

Mix all the ingredients together in a salad shaker or whisk in a bowl.  I served this over Spring mix, crumbled Feta cheese, craisins, and candied pecans (recipe coming soon!).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

I have a love affair with muffins.  I could eat them everyday, although I try my best not to!  I also have a love affair with fresh blueberries, Michigan has taught me this.  So when I first saw these, I just couldn't resist (I did adapt the recipe though)!  The first batch I made I kinda forget to put in the egg (yes I am losing my mind, it goes a little more with each child I have) and had to add it AFTER the blueberries.  Lets just say they tasted great but the dull blue color just wasn't very appetizing to photograph.  But the whole thing made for a fantastic excuse to make muffins again!  He, he, he!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2 T sugar
1/4 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease or paper line a muffin pan. 

In a bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients.  In another bowl mix together water, oil, egg and vanilla.  Stir this into the dry ingredients until just moistened.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  (Do NOT defrost frozen blueberries)

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.  Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter in the muffin pan.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and was so excited to try it.  First off, homemade hot chocolate is divine!  Not to mention Mexican hot chocolate!  I whipped up a batch to take to my kids teachers and am already dying to make more for myself!  It is quick and easy and so great to have on hand!  This recipe will take the place of any instant hot chocolate that is now in my house!  I altered the original recipe to fit my liking.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix
(about 25 servings)

3 cups non fat instant dry milk powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 t salt
2 t corn starch
1 t cinnamon
1/8 t cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.

In batches, pulse through a food processor until smooth and well combined.

Store in a sealed container in a dry, dark place.  

To make the hot chocolate, mix 1/3 cup of the mixture into a mug of hot milk or water.  Serve with fresh whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peppermint Oreos

Over Thanksgiving we had some great friends stay with us.  On one desperate trip to Wal-mart we came across Candy Cane Oreos.  They were amazing and gone within minutes (desperate times call for desperate measures!) So, the next time we were at a store, we searched them out only to come up empty handed.  That got me thinking, why not just make our own.  Homemade is ALWAYS better.  Well, the days went fast and the nights went faster and we never got back to those Candy Cane Oreos.  But I have been thinking about them ever since and have FINALLY gotten to them.  I wanted to take my homemade Oreos to another level. So I found this recipe over at Smitten Kitchen.  I, of course, had to alter it to make it Peppermint (and a couple of other adjustments) but I made a few the original way too.  Let me just say, these are the real deal! A true homemade Oreo. So go ahead and skip Wal-mart (I know we all have a secret love/hate relationship with it anyway) and just go for the REAL thing!

Peppermint Oreos (and original too)
(25-30 sandwich cookies)

For the chocolate cookies:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/8 t salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 T butter, at room-temperature
1 large egg

For the filling: (peppermint)
1/4 cup butter, at room-temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract*
1 t peppermint extract
1 crushed candy cane (or 5 small candy canes)

*For original Oreos increase the vanilla to 2 teaspoons and omit the peppermint extract and candy canes.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a food processor, or the bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.  While on low speed, add the butter and then the egg. Continue mixing until  the dough comes together in a mass.

Place rounded teaspoons of dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Flatten the dough balls slightly.  Bake for 7-9 minutes until the tops look cracked. Cool completely.

To make the filling, place butter and shortening in a bowl and on low speed gradually add the sugar and extracts.  Once these are all incorporated, turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until the filling his light and fluffy.  Stir in the crushed candy canes, if using.

To assemble the cookies, place teaspoon sized blobs of filling in the middle of one cookie and top with another.  (I used a baggie with one corner snipped off to pipe the filling on.) Press down gently until the filling comes to the edges of the cookie.  Continue with the remaining cookies.  Now, go grab yourself a huge glass of cold milk and dip away!
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