12 Days of Christmas Cookies -- Day 3: Hot Chocolate Cookies


I can think of few things more symbolic of cold winter weather, snow, and the holidays than a warm cup of hot chocolate.  I love hot chocolate.  My mom used to make me a cup every morning during the winter before I woke up for school.  Hot chocolate brings back some great memories for me.  And, guess what.  Someone made hot chocolate into a cookie!  Awesome!  These cookies taste just like the real deal.  They're definitely going into my cookie rotation.   

If you get these while they're fresh out of the oven, there is melty chocolate inside the cookies with melty marshmallow on top.  Delicious!  These definitely taste better when served warm, so if you don't get them fresh out of the oven, throw them in the microwave for a few seconds before eating them.  It will be totally worth it. 

Adapted from: Dine & Dash

Here's what you need:
1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 1/4 cups Flour
4 packages Hot Chocolate Mix
1 teaspoon Salt
1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 cups Mini Marshmallows
2 cups Chocolate Chips
2 tablespoons Milk

Here's what you do:
1.  In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. 

2.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

3.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, hot chocolate mix, salt and baking soda.

4. Slow add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Mix until well blended.

5.  My dough got a little dry and hard to work with, so I added the milk while mixing in the dry ingredients.  If your dough isn't dry, omit the milk.  If 2 tablespoons of milk isn't enough to make your dough workable, add more. 

6.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

7. Place by rounded teaspoon onto baking sheets.

8.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.

9.  As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, begin topping with marshmallows.

10.  After you've topped the cookies with marshmallows, remove them from the baking sheet to a cooling rack to finish cooling. 



12 Days of Christmas Cookies -- Day 2: Peanut Butter Cookies (with a Gluten Free option)


Generally, I dislike peanut butter cookies.  Usually they’re dry, in my opinion.    I like a soft, moist, chewy cookie.  And they don’t taste peanut buttery enough for me.  I’d much rather save the trouble of making those silly cookies and sit down with a container of peanut butter and a spoon.  My sister, Cindy, made some peanut butter cookies several years ago that I tried (mostly just to be nice).  Turns out, they were deeelicious!  They were super soft and very peanut buttery.  And, the best part, is that the recipe only calls for 4 ingredients!  I got the recipe from her and then lost it after making the cookies a few times.  Whooops!  So, this is my rendition of the recipe, from memory.

My friend Laura tells me these can be made gluten free by substituting gluten free vanilla for the regular vanilla.  Bonus!

Here’s what you need:
1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla (for gluten free cookies, use gluten free vanilla)

Here’s what you do:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix all ingredients together.
3.  Roll peanut butter into 1 inch balls.
4.  Bake for about 8 minutes.



12 Days of Christmas Cookies -- Day 1: Wedding Cake Cookies


Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, along with Black Friday, Christmas is going to be here before we know it.  So, I’m rolling out the 12 days of Christmas Cookies!  And I’m starting out with Wedding Cake Cookies – not very festive, huh?  Well, if that’s what you think, you’re wrong-o!  My friend Bobbie sent me this recipe.  I like these cookies because they are so simple to make.  They’re soft and buttery and kind of crumble in your mouth.  They kind of reminded me of Melting Moments Cookies.  They’re great for when you want a cookie that isn’t over the top sweet.

Here’s what you need:
1 cup Butter, softened
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Powdered  Sugar for rolling dough in

Here’s what you do:

1.       Combine all ingredients in large bowl. (Bobbie’s hint – use your hands to mix it up.  Good tip!)
2.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls
3.  Roll each ball in additional powdered sugar to coat
4.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes
5.  Immediately remove to cooling rack.

I added some food coloring to part of my dough (red and green) to make the cookies festive.  It was really hard to get the color all mixed in, which was disappointing at first, but I went ahead and baked them and the cookies came out marbled looking.  Unfortunately, I ate them too quickly and didn’t get a picture.  :-)  But, I promise, if you try adding food coloring, your cookies will look neat.



Baked Potato Casserole


I used to have the. most. delicious. recipe for baked potato casserole.  Now I can't find it.  If you've ever had a good baked potato casserole, you understand my devastation.  If you haven't, let me explain . . . 

Baked potato casserole is an amazing creation that everybody loves.  The recipe always makes about one million servings, so it's great for large gatherings (think -- holidays), or if you just feel like only cooking once this week (helloooooo college!).  It's a comfort food that compliments pretty much everything.  Or, it can be eaten as a meal by itself.  

Anyhow, I decided I wanted to make baked potato casserole for a work Thanksgiving luncheon.  That is when I discovered that I could find my recipe.  Devastation ensued.  Then I googled it.  I found Emeril's recipe, which definitely isn't my recipe, but it's at least kinda close.  And, it ended up tasting pretty good, so I scored. 

If I am ever reunited with my recipe, I'll post it here.  Hopefully, I'll find it when I finally get to move into my house and unpack (I promise I'm not making that up -- it will happen).  Until then, this will have to do. 

Adapted from Emeril

Here's what you need:

  • 5 Lbs Red Potatoes
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 1 & 1/2 Cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Lb Bacon, cooked until crip and crumbled
  • 1/2 Lb sharp Cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 Lbs mild Cheddar, grated (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Additional butter for baking dish
  • Additional sour cream for garnishing
  • Additional diced green onions for garnishing
  • Sliced black olives for garnishing
Here's what you do:
1.  Peel and cube the potatoes.
2.  Boil the potatoes until they are fully cooked. 
3.  Drain potatoes and put them in a large bowl.
4.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
5.  Add butter, sour cream, whipping cream, salt, and pepper to potatoes.  Mash until desired consistency. 
6.  Add 3/4 lb bacon, sharp cheddar cubes, half of the grated cheddar, green onions, and eggs.  Mix thoroughly.
7. Butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Spoon the potato mixture into the baking dish. 
8.  Top with remaining shredded cheddar cheese.
9.   Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and heated through and the cheese on top is melted and lightly golden. 
     Hint:  I halved the recipe and put part of it in a smaller baking dish and 
    part of it in a crock pot.  I refrigerated it over night and then  I took the 
    crock pot to work for the luncheon.  I cooked the potatoes on high for 
    about 3 hours and it was cooked all the way through.  It tasted just like 
    the pan that I had baked in the oven the night before.
10.  Garnish with additional sour cream, black olives and green onions. 


Peanut Butter Pie


There are certain dishes that I make every year, but only at certain times of the year.  This is one of them.  This is a delicious recipe that is easy to make, but tastes like it isn't.  I'm not sure where the recipe came from . . . I may have gotten it from my Aunt Julie.  But maybe not . . . 

Anyhow, who doesn't like creamy peanut butter with a little chocolate on top?  Nobody.  That's who.  So, why don't I make this pie more often, you ask?  Because it's very rich.  It doesn't matter how delicious a recipe is, too much of a good thing can be bad.  So, I save this pie for holiday time.  Although sometimes I make it and keep it in the fridge for breakfast.  For myself.  And I don't share.  

Here's what you need:
1 Block of Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 Cup of Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream 
1 Pie Crust (sometimes I use a graham cracker crust and sometimes I use a chocolate one)
Chocolate Dessert Topping or Spare Chocolate Chips for Topping (optional)
Whipped Cream for Topping (optional)

Here's what you do:
1.  Mix the Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter, Sugar, and 1/3 of the Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream until well blended. 

2.  Fold in the remaining Heavy Whipping Cream. 

3.  Gently spoon the mixture into a pie crust and smooth. 

4.  Drizzle Chocolate Dessert Topping on top and use a fork or knife to create a pretty design. 

     Hint:  If you don't have Chocolate Dessert Topping, melt a few chocolate chips with 
      some of the remaining heavy whipping cream.  Make sure you stir well to combine 
      and then put that on top of the pie and proceed with step 4. 

5.  Refrigerate for at least one hour. 

6.  Cut into tiny pieces for serving.  Top with whipped cream if desired. 



Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops


My sister, Brooke, gave me this recipe.  I may have changed it a bit because when she gave me the recipe she told me she used "some" bread crumbs, and "a lot" of Parmesan cheese.  I used to cook all carefree like that.  And then, I started a blog . . . 

So, I took her recipe and guessed about what "some" and "a lot" meant.  I think I must have been close, because the result was quite tasty.  It's also surprisingly simple to make.  And, I think it's pretty versatile. I served my chops with fettuccine alfredo and steamed broccoli, which were both a nice compliment.  Brooke says she usually serves hers with cheesy rice.  After having tried the chops, I'd guess that the cheesy rice would go well too. 

Here's what you need:
6 Thinly sliced Pork Chops
1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1 Cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Eggs
Vegetable oil for browning the chops 

Here's what you do
1.  Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.  

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until well beaten. 

3.  Put a pan on the stove on medium to medium-high heat.  Add vegetable oil and allow the oil to get warm.

4.  While you're waiting for the vegetable oil to heat up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover a cookie sheet in aluminum foil.

5.  Coat one pork chop in the bread crumb mixture.  Dip it in the beaten eggs.  Return it to the bread crumb mixture and coat again.  Immediately put the pork chop in the pan of warm oil.  Cook each side of the pork chop until it is golden brown and then remove from pan and place on cookie sheet. 

     Hint: While I had one pork chop in the pan cooking, I started step number 5 on 
      the next pork chop, paying close attention to the pork chop on the stove to 
      make sure it didn't burn. 

7.  Once all the pork chops have been browned and are on the cookie sheet, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the chops are cooked all the way through. 



Fiesta Chicken Pockets

Sooo, I have good news and I have bad news.  The good news is, I've made some really good food lately.  The bad news is, I've forgotten to take pictures of my good food.  Which means I can't post about them.  Bummer!

I do have one exception though.  Remember when I made these chicken pillows?  Well, I made them again, but I spiffied them up a bit.  I figure since you can go here and see something close to what they're supposed to look like, it's okay for me to post without a picture, right?  Besides, I don't have anything else to post right now.  And something is better than nothing, right? 

Also, nobody came up with any fabulous name ideas for the chicken pillows, so I went ahead and spiffied up the name myself while I was spiffing up the recipe.  It's no literary gold, but I'm pretty sure anything beats "chicken pillows".  I made these one Sunday after working on my house all day.  My mom had thrown the chicken in the crock pot that morning, which made it delicious and super tender, and I threw the pockets together that evening.  They came out delicious and were really simple -- especially since the chick was already cooked. 

Here's what you need:
2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Bunch of Green Onions
8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
2 Can of Crescent Rolls
2 Cans of Rotel, well drained
1 Can of Green Chilies, well drained

Here's what you do:
1.  Season the meat and cook it in the crock pot all day. 

2.  Finely slice the green onions. 

3.  Drain the Rotel and green chilies well. 

     Hint:  Failing to drain these well will result in the chicken pockets being 

4.  Mix the green onions, Rotel, and green chilies with the cream cheese. 

5.  Add the cooled chicken to the cream cheese mixture. 

6.  Open the cans of crescent rolls and divide the dough into 16 triangles. 

7.  Place one scoop of the cream cheese mixture in the middle of each crescent roll triangle.

8.  Roll up each crescent roll like a jelly roll (beginning with the widest end).

9.  Ensure that all seams are tightly sealed on each pillow. 

10.  Place the pockets on a cookie sheet, with as many seams down (against the cookie sheet) as possible. 

11.  Bake for about 12 minutes.  Remove them from the oven when the crescent roll is golden brown and flaky.


Cinnamon Buns


 If you're from the Kansas City area, you know about Stroud's.  If you're not from Kansas City, Stroud's is a restaurant here that makes some really good down home cooking food.  They're pretty well known for their fried chicken and their cinnamon buns.  The cinnamon buns are unlike anything else I've ever had.  They are light and fluffy and are covered in cinnamon and sugar -- there's no icing involved with these cinnamon buns.  Since I love their cinnamon buns so much, I decided to give making them a shot.  I googled recipes and found surprisingly few copy cat recipes.  I chose one of the few contenders and although the result was far from a Stroud's cinnamon bun, they were quite delicious.  This recipe results in a heavier bread than Stroud's cinnamon buns, which I think makes the biggest different.  These do require a bit of work and quite a bit of time, but, in the end, they're pretty worth it.

Slightly adapted from: Chow Hound

Here's what you need:
1 Cup Warm Milk
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Warm Water
1 Tbsp. Active Dry Yeast
About 5 Cups Bread Flour

2 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1 Cup Sugar
Melted butter

Here's what you do: 
1.  Mix warm water and yeast with about 1 Tbsp of sugar in small bowl.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl mix the milk, butter, salt, sugar, egg.

3.  Add the yeast mixture to the ingredients in the large bowl.  Mix well. 

4.  Add the flour to the mixture, one cup at a time.  Stir well between each addition of flour.  Eventually you may have to mix with your hands.  Keep adding flour until the dough is firm, dry and bounces back when poked.   

5.  Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with towel.  Place bowl in a warm place (I put mine in the laundry room).  Let the dough rise until it doubles in size. 

6.  Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, deflating it.  

7.  Let the dough rise until it doubles in size again. 

8.  While the dough is rising the second time, combine the cinnamon with one cup sugar.  Set aside until the dough is done rising.  (Feel free to manipulate the amounts of cinnamon and sugar to suit your taste.) 

9.  After the dough has doubled in size the second time, cut it into 12 roll shaped pieces (or however many you want, depending on the size of cinnamon buns you would like to have).

10.  Submerge each dough roll in melted butter and then immediately coat with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.   Place in greased 9 x 12 baking dish.

11.  Once all the rolls are placed in the baking dish, cover the rolls with a towel and allow them to double in size one more time.

12.  After the rolls have doubled in size, place them in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. 

I have some ideas to make these more like Stroud's cinnamon buns, so I'm going to keep trying on that.  But, in the meantime, Enjoy!