Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chocolate Truffle Blossom Cookies from Hershey's

I am in the process of making homemade whole wheat bread and there is a timing to bread that can take hours based on the multiple risings it requires.  What's a girl to do while her dough rises?  Bake cookies of course!  Bread dough needs a warm environment to rise so a warm oven is a welcome on a cold rainy day.  These little chocolate morsels are Chocolate Truffle Blossom Cookies.  Recipe compliments of Hershey's Chocolate Truffle Kisses.

Chocolate Truffle Blossom Cookies
  • 48 Hershey's Kisses Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolates or Hershey's Chocolate Truffle Kisses.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white decorator's sugar or granulated sugar for rolling

Remove wrappers from chocolates; place in freezer for several hours or overnight.

Beat butter, 1-1/3 cups sugar, egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Refrigerate dough 1 to 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease. Shape dough into 48 equal (about 1-1/4 inch) balls; roll in decorator's sugar or granulated sugar. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; press chocolate piece into center of each cookie. Slide parchment paper and cookies to wire rack or remove cookies from greased sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes 48 cookies.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Miniature Pumpkin-Spice Cakes and New Bundt Pans

Sometimes a gift you would like for yourself is really in disguise as a gift for others.  I have had my eye on these miniature Bundt pans and finally treated myself to a set after the holidays.  I thought these would be great to use when you want to give a small treat to friends, co-workers and neighbors.  Sometimes a large cake is way too overwhelming.  But a miniature cake is just right.

I whipped up a batch (12) Miniature Pumpkin-Spice Cakes this morning.  They were featured in the October 2014 Victoria Magazine in the Cooking and Entertaining section (Page 36) with the actual recipe in the Recipe Index on page 89.

I could not find the recipe on-line but here is a link to the magazine:

Miniature Pumpkin-Spice Cakes

Nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger mingle with pumpkin and vanilla to fill each tasty bite, kept moist during baking thanks to dollops of Greek yogurt in the batter.  Serve this classic dessert with a fine dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, well packed
3 large eggs
1 (14-oz) can pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup Greek yogurt
3 ½ cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp baking soda
Garnish:  Sifted confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously spray 2 (6-well) miniature Bundt pans with baking spray with flour; set aside.

In a medium bowl and using a mixer at medium speed, blend vegetable oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until combined.  Add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and yogurt, beating to combine.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin-pie spice, ginger, and baking soda.  Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, and beat until batter is smooth.  Divide batter among wells of pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near centers of cakes comes out clean.
Remove from oven, and let cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Transfer cakes to a wire rack, and let cool completely.  Garnish with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.  Cakes can be stored, at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pre-Purchased Advent Inspiration

A small moment of inspiration. I love Advent gifts especially for adults. This year I spotted these great Advent tins from Starbucks already filled with treats. I gave one to my niece "as is" but then I realized that I could personalize them by adding my own touch. I purchased one for a friend as part of a birthday gift and several for work for recognition gifts. I then hand picked inspirational quotes for each person, printed them and tucked them into the tins. I originally wanted to alter the tins by adding card making embellishments to the top of each but the quotes took quite a bit of time to prepare and stuff. I was worried about running out of time (before December 1st) so I ended up leaving them undecorated. Another thing I love about these tins is that they can be reused.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sausage and Tortilla Breakfast Casserole by Macheesmo

Last night I whipped up a Sausage and Tortilla Breakfast Casserole, refrigerated overnight and then Alex slipped it into the oven while we were at the Turkey Day 5k Walk/Run.  I have a favorite Christmas Breakfast Casserole that I traditionally make but I was in the mood for a new flavor sensation.  I found this recipe on the Macheesmo (cooking with confidence) site:

Alex and I both really liked it.  Anthony still maintains that the original is his favorite.  I think with either you can't go wrong.  I am sharing his recipe here for easy reference.  The Macheesmo site is a lot of fun with interesting recipes and food combinations.  The picture above is from his web-site as I did not grab the camera fast enough before it was all cut up.  Enjoy!

Sausage and Tortilla Breakfast Casserole 
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 (4 oz. can) green chile
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 small corn tortillas
  • 4 ounces monterey jack cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh chives, garnish
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, add a drizzle of oil and sausage. Break up sausage and brown it well, cooking for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat.
2) Add diced onion and pepper to the sausage and cook for another 1-2 minutes until veggies soften. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in green chiles and remove from heat.
3) Whisk eggs together with milk, paprika, and red chile flakes. Roughly chop tortilla strips and grate cheese.
4) In an 8x8 baking dish, spread out about a third of the tortilla strips. Then top with half of the sausage mixture and half the cheese. Pour in half of the egg mixture. Repeat: tortillas, sausage, cheese, eggs. Top the dish with the last 1/3 of the tortilla strips.
5) Bake the casserole at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the egg is set in the center of the dish. Remove and let cool slightly.
6) Serve casserole while hot with fresh chives.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kisses Candy Cane Blossoms Recipe

I am already 4 batches of cookies deep since discovering my favorite Hershey's Kisses are back in the stores.  The Kisses Candy Cane Blossoms recipe should be on the back of the Candy Cane Kisses bag and it is also available on the Hershey's web-site.  I am posting it here for easy reference for myself.  I like to use white sugar sprinkles vs. red or green as I feel like the cookies have a classier look to them.  Less color but more sparkle.  Time to purchase more kisses as I have run out already.

Candy Cane Blossom Cookie Recipe

48 Hershey's Kisses Candy Cane Mint Candies (unwrapped)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 - 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extraxt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
Red, green or white sugar crystals, granulated sugar or powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from candies.
2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red sugar, granulated sugar, powdered sugar or a combination of any of the sugars. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 48 cookies.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Carnival Breeze Melting Chocolate Cake Recipe

I discovered post-cruise that guests devour 242,000 servings of the cruise industry’s most popular dessert, the Chocolate Melting Cake. If you’ve never sailed Carnival, the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake is very popular.  Julie and I will tell you first hand that this is the best and most consistently prepared dessert on board.  We won’t comment on the rubbery pumpkin pie incident.  I was able to track down a post from a cruiser who managed to get the official recipe from Carnival on her cruise.  Why didn't I think to ask?  As winter lays siege I may need to try my hand at this favorite to remind us of warmer weather days!

Carnival Chocolate Melting Cake Recipe (4 Servings)

6 oz. Dark Chocolate
6 oz. Butter
4 Eggs – room temperature
6 oz. Sugar
2 oz. Flour

Melt Butter and Chocolate: 
Mix eggs and sugar and whisk for a few minutes. Add flour.
Add the egg mixture to the melted chocolate. Stir together.
Pour the mix in greased ramekins.
Bake at 390 degrees for 14 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pan-Charred Green Beans with Tarragon

Last night I made this new recipe from the April 2104 Cooking Light magazine.  The recipe was simple and easy to follow and the green beans were wonderful.  I did double the recipe to ensure that we would have some leftover for lunches today. 

Pan-Charred Green Beans with Tarragon

Hands-on: 11 min. Total: 11 min.

Cooking spray
8 ounces washed and trimmed fresh green beans
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Heat a medium, heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat for 2 minutes.

2. Coat pan with cooking spray. Immediately add green beans to pan, shaking them into a single layer; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until beans are very lightly charred. Cook beans 5 more minutes or until crisp-tender and evenly charred, tossing occasionally.

3. Remove pan from heat. Let beans rest 1 minute. Add butter; toss until butter melts and coats beans. Add vinegar; toss. Turn on heat if necessary to evaporate most of liquid. Sprinkle beans with tarragon and salt; toss. Serve immediately.

Cooking Light:

Variation: Pan-Charred Asparagus:
In place of green beans, use 8 ounces (2½-inch) pieces of trimmed asparagus. Use 1½ teaspoons toasted walnut oil in place of butter and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in place of vinegar. After tossing asparagus with tarragon and salt, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

In place of green beans, use 8 ounces (2½-inch) pieces of trimmed asparagus. Use 1½ teaspoons toasted walnut oil in place of butter and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in place of vinegar. After tossing asparagus with tarragon and salt, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. - See more at:
In place of green beans, use 8 ounces (2½-inch) pieces of trimmed asparagus. Use 1½ teaspoons toasted walnut oil in place of butter and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in place of vinegar. After tossing asparagus with tarragon and salt, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. - See more at:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Extreme Jewelery Makeover - Sea Inspired

From ordinary to extraordinary! I purchased ocean inspired jewelery from Francine my AVON representative which I thought would make a great base for an extreme jewelery makeover. I next discovered sea inspired pendents and charms at Hobby Lobby. I placed them all in the talented and creative hands of jewelery artist Kelly Reed and she turned them into one of a kind works of art! 
I am so excited to wear them on our cruise and to Lake Tahoe. I have included pictures of the original jewelery (with the exception of a set of earrings) which represent the "before" pictures. The "after" pictures feature three necklaces, a very special charm bracelet, and several pairs of matching hand made earrings. She also combined the three individual anklets into one and added additional charms. I will treasure my new ocean inspired jewelry sets and am really looking forward to showing them off while on vacation. Thank you Kelly for sharing your talents with me!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

No Crust Italian Squash Pie

Thank you Rebecca Dally Rodriguez for the simple and delicious new recipe!

No Crust Italian Squash Pie

4 cups thinly sliced yellow squash (or vegetable of choice)
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
½ tsp. each salt, pepper and garlic powder
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups Romano shredded cheese (or cheese of choice)
Cooking Spray

Saute squash and onions in olive oil about 10 minutes and cool slightly.  Stir remaining ingredients in with squash and onions.  Pour into an oven safe pie plate (I sprayed mine with olive oil Pam cooking spray).  Bake 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.


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