Archive for the Category ◊ Holidays & Events ◊

08 Feb 2011 Milky Way Rice Krispie Treats

One more week until Valentine’s Day.  I wonder if I can pull together a week of chocolate posts?  LOL.  Of course I can!  Is there any ingredient I like more? Aside from chocolate (and coffee), what is my private, secret, shameful indulgence?  Rice Krispie treats.  I can’t be left in a room alone with them. Terrible, horrible-immoral-things happen.  So what better way to start out my Valentine’s Day posts than with a recipe for a chocolate Rice Krispie Treats?!

I try every recipe for  Rice Krispie Treats that I run across.  I have quite a collection of Rice Krispie recipes: Coconut, Browned Butter, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate-Cherry.  Sadly, not all the recipes I’ve tried have worked.  The coffee ones and the butterscotch ones, both made with pudding, were major disappointments.  Not this one though.  I found this recipe on a British food site, The Greedy Gourmet. These, these my friends, are winners. Only one problem though, there are no marshmallows in them! =:O  In fact, the entire recipe has only three ingredients! (I might try to remake this recipe with some marshmallows at a future date  because I do miss some of that marshmallow gooeyness.)  With no marshmallows, these Rice Krispie Treats are more crispy than gooey, but they are ohhhhh soooo good!

The original recipe was made with Mars bars, which is a UK chocolate bar very similar to a Milky Way bar, so I subbed Milky Way bars. The original recipe also called for slicing some additional Mars/Milky Way bars and laying the slices on top of the treats, then covering the entire thing with some melted chocolate.  I didn’t do that.  Five melted Milky Way bars stirred into 4 cups of Rice Kripies sounded decadent enough for me.

Milky Way Rice Krispie Treats

  • 5 Milky Way Bars (about 11 oz. total)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies
  1. Prepare a 8×8 or a 9×9 baking dish by spraying with Pam or smearing with butter.
  2. Pour 4 cups Rice Krispies into a large heat proof bowl and set aside.
  3. Chop the Milky Way bars and place in a small saucepan with the butter.  Over low heat stir the Milky Way bars and the butter until both are melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the Rice Krispies and stir well.  Coat as many Rice Krispies as possible with the chocolate mixture.
  5. Pour the Rice Krispie mixture into prepared square pan.  Press lightly on mixture to remove air pockets and to level out and flatten mixture.
  6. Let set.
  7. Cut into serving sized squares and enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Maybe you’ll put some of these in your kids lunch box this week? And, maybe, for Valentine’s Day dinner, you’ll consider a recipe for Hot Chocolate Lava Cakes.  My daughter made them for us last year…, yummm!  This year, she made four kinds of brownies.  I’ll be posting the two winners shortly (the bacon ones will not be posted…)

05 Feb 2011 Top Ten Superbowl Snacks

Here is my Top Ten List of  Superbowl Snacks…  Enjoy!

Crockpot Bean Dip: A must!  Serve with tortilla chips (my kids prefer “Scoops” ). Mix up the dip the night before.  Put in crockpot two or three hours before the party starts and leave it on low/warm for the entire length of the party.

Meatballs on Toast: Men and teenage boys can’t get enough of these.  Mix up the meat mixture in advance (the night before is fine), then broil as needed.  The recipe is delicious “as is”, but you can certainly put your signature on it. A friend of mine adds some curry powder and ground lamb to make Curried Meatballs on Toast.  Add some cilantro and cumin and red pepper, Mexican Meatballs on Toast. Oregano, basil, garlic, lemon pepper, Greek meatballs on Toast?

Bacon Asparagus Rolls: All veggies can be forgiven when rolled in bacon.  Delicious, “two more-ish” as my English Aunties say (as in, “I’d like two more of those, please)  and different.  These will make you a legend in your own time.

Baked Chicken Taquitos: A bit more substantial, but can be cut in half for finger food. Don’t forget to sprinkle with salt before baking.  Serve with a salsa for dipping.

Mozzarella Sticks:   Fried Cheese. Fabulous. My 2011 addition to my Superbowl snack line up, I know it will be invited back every year.  Make the night ahead and freeze, then fry as needed.  Can be reheated in the oven as needed.

Baked Spinach-Artichoke Dip: Might be a bit girlie for a Superbowl spread.  But let’s get with the times.  Girls like football, too.  Some men eat quiche, but even more men will eat Spinach Artichoke Dip.  This one is really for the girls though.

Blue Cheese Dip with Veggies: Come on, you have to have some raw veggies set out.  What better to dip them in than a strong, assertive blue cheese dip?  Dip must be make two hours ahead, but making it the night before is fine. Veggies can also be made ahead and stored overnight in refrigerator in  air-tight bags.  You just need three veggies, really, in order of importance: celery sticks, carrot sticks, and cucumber slices.

Gringo Grandma’s Chili: One always needs a pot of chili for Superbowl Sunday, especially if the game is in Texas! Set up a chili bar. Small bowls with spoons, chili in the crockpot, mini corn muffins or cornbread, hot dogs, buns, fries, grated cheese, onion, Tabasco…  This recipe makes a lot of chili, leftovers will freeze well, but also make a fine dinner for Monday.

Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets: Make ahead and freeze.  Use any boneless chicken.  Most like cubed chicken bread.  I prefer chicken tenders.  Make ahead, and just pull out of the freezer and bake.  Set chicken nuggets out next to a bottle of ketchup and a bottle of Ranch dressing.

Oven Baked Fries: You can’t get a more economical Superbowl snack. Make two pans of these. These should be a staple.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Have a great Superbowl Sunday (even if you don’t like football)!!  I always enjoy myself and I know next-to-nothing about the game 🙂

20 Jan 2011 Veggie Breakfast Casserole

Do you have a breakfast casserole in your repertoire?  Breakfast casseroles are great (but they don’t photograph well).  The bulk of the work is done the night before.  The casserole rests in the refrigerator while you sleep, and is taken out and baked in the morning. Breakfast casseroles are a wonderful thing if you are entertaining overnight house guests.  They are  convenient to make for groups of friends sharing a snow condo or the beach house.  They are a must for family gatherings such as Christmas morning and special occasion-baby shower, Valentine’s Day-brunches.  Breakfast casseroles are popular at potluck brunches.  You just gotta have one or two in your repertoire!

Here’s a good one to start with.  It’s based on a Spinach Strata recipe from epicurious.com, but I increased the spinach, added mushrooms, decreased the mustard and the eggs, and changed the method! I guess that means this recipe is adaptable.  Don’t like all that spinach? Use half and then add something else that you do like, diced and drained tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts, sauteed diced zucchini, maybe?  Want to add in a ¼ cup chopped bell pepper or spicy peppers? Go ahead!  Don’t have the specific cheese mentioned? Use what you like and what you have on hand (just don’t use all cheddar or you will have a greasy mess).  Want to saute fresh spinach instead of using frozen spinach?  Go for it! You could also add some browned sausage but I really think a few slices of good bacon on the side would be better. Be sure to add some citrus on the side, too, so that all the iron from the spinach can be absorbed!

My one problem with this recipe is that it makes soooo much! Breakfast casseroles are filling, a 9 x 13 inch pan full serves a crowd of 12 or so (variable of course, depending on how many hale and hearty men and teenage boys you have in the crowd), which is good for many occasions, but not so good for a  quiet brunch at home.  If you are making this just for you and your immediate family, half the recipe and bake it in a 9 inch square pan for a bit less than the stated cooking time.  Leftovers reheat well in the microwave and I have enjoyed this for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I think you’ll enjoy having this recipe in your repertoire.  If you get hooked on breakfast casseroles, I have a smoked salmon one to share, too 🙂

Veggie Breakfast Casserole

  • 2 (10-oz) packages frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, diced
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon  nutmeg
  • 8 cups stale cubed (1 inch) French. Italian or Sourdough bread (1/2 lb)
  • 2 cups (about 6 oz) coarsely grated good melting cheese such as Gruyère, Jack, Smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, cheddar (the combo used will affect the taste of your casserole, of course.  For the best taste, mix your cheeses.  Definitely don’t use a full 2 cups of SMOKED Gouda (overpowering smoked taste) or cheddar (too greasy).
  • 1 cup (about 2 oz.) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2  ¾ cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  1. Defrost spinach in the microwave and let cool.  Then squeeze–and I do mean s-q-u-e-e-e-e-z-e handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.  At least half your “spinach” will be green water.
  2. Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring, for a minute or so and then remove from pan.  Add diced mushrooms and another tablespoonful of butter and olive oil to the pan.  Saute mushrooms until cooked, about 5 minutes.  Raise heat, and boil off excess moisture.  Add mushrooms to onion spinach mixture.
  3. Pour bread cubes into a very large bowl.  Stir in cooled spinach mixture and cheeses.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Pour this mixture over the bread-veggie-cheese mixture in the large bowl.
  5. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Spread mixture evenly into corners and smooth the top. Chill the casserole, covered with plastic wrap, overnight (8 hours or so).
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F while casserole stands at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  7. Bake breakfast casserole, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Enjoy your breakfast casserole with some great coffee, sliced fruit and a slice or two of really good, salty bacon and thanks for stopping by my kitchen this fine, fine morning!

21 Dec 2010 Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Tomorrow we’re making Christmas sugar cookies then heading out to see the Christmas lights.  It’s finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here–after two weeks of relentless pounding.  First external with a broken pipe and the yucky clean up mess under the house, then internal with some sort of stomach ailment and tomorrow I have to deal with some expensive car issues… But it’s nothing that decorating a few Christmas cookies and then going out to look at some wonderful Christmas lights won’t cure!

I’ve only been using this recipe for sugar cookies for one year, but my “Gild-the-lily” friend Louise has been using it for a many years.  It’s quite a gift she is giving us, sharing this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Click here for the source recipe http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sugar-cookies-recipe The cookies are supposed to have “crisp edges and soft middles” and they do! Last year my daughter and I decorated these cookies with royal icing (see picture above), but we actually preferred to eat the cookies undecorated!  How shocking is that! I suppose a  light sprinkling of colored sugar would fancy these up, but I wouldn’t over do it. This cookie is very good “as is”; chewy, buttery and sweet!

We used an intricate snowflake cookie cutter last year, and the dough handled it well. No problems cutting out the shape, and the dough kept the shape and proportions when baked.  Not all sugar cookie doughs do you know!  I rolled the cookies out in a mixture of powdered sugar and flour and then baked them on parchment paper (I found out the hard way that cookies rolled out in powdered sugar stick to the cookie sheets).

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract (I used additional vanilla because I don’t care for almond flavor, and I am sure lemon, orange and rum would all work)
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In medium bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. With mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy, usually about 5 minutes. Beat in extracts and egg. Add flour mixture. Mix until moistened. Form dough into discs, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour before rolling and cutting into shapes. Bake 8 minutes until just golden at edges.

Thanks so much for stopping by my kitchen today! Sing with me now… “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” La, la, laaaa!

11 Dec 2010 White Chocolate Spice Cookies

Cut out cookies are as much a part of Christmas as eggnog, gingerbread, and peppermint.  What’s a cookie platter without decorated trees, stars, ornaments,  santa hats, snowflake, stocking and mitten?  I have a variety of cut out cookies to share with you.  I’ve already posted a gingerbread cookie recipe, which is decorated with white Royal Icing.  Later in the week I will post a cream cheese cut out cookie recipe, which can be decorated with colored icing and sprinkles.  Today I am sharing a White Chocolate Spice Cookie.   The cookie deliciously spicy from black pepper in the dough, and deliciously decadent from the white chocolate decoration. It’s a cut out cookie for grown ups, although my 2 year old grandson likes them as much as I do. His mom is the one person I know who doesn’t like these cookies.  She says they are “weird”. Hmpff. I think she’s weird.

My friend Kayte introduced this cookie to me in December of 1996.  I still have the original recipe, which was clipped from a Sunset Magazine from that same month and year.  I changed the method of making this cookie. Sunset’s directions said to mix the cookie in the food processor.  I didn’t like that at all.  The dough didn’t feel right at all, and the cookie was a bit tough so I have changed the recipe to reflect the more traditional method of mixing cookie dough.

White Chocolate Spice Cookies

2 cups flour
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (make sure you have fresh pepper, the stuff from last year won’t produce the result you want)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
6 oz. high quality white chocolate, chopped (the cookies pictured above were decorated with melted Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips)

  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, ginger, pepper, baking soda, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and allspice in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat softened butter for a minute or so.  Add in brown sugar and beat for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine water, lemon peel, and vanilla.  Then add to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Slowly add flour-spice mixture to butter-sugar-lemon mixture. Beat with electric mixer until all the flour has been incorporated.
  5. Divine dough into three balls, then flatten into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for an hour or so or until dough is firm enough to work with.
  6. Preheat oven to 325ºF and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll dough into sheets approx 1/4 inch thick (use minimal amount of flour) and cut with cookie cutters.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheeets
  8. Bake at 325ºF for 15 minutes or until cookie is a pale brown color .  Remove cookies to rack to cool.
  9. Melt chopped white chocolate on 50% power in MW for 2 or 3 minutes.
  10. Dip each cookie into chocolate, covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the cookie.  When all cookies have been dipped.  Use a fork to flick remaining white chocolate over undipped portion of cookie.
  11. Chill to harden the white chocolate.
  12. Store cookies in an airtight container.  Can be frozen for longer storage.  Makes 5-7 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutters used.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! I hope you enjoy this cookie, it’s been one of my favorites for thirteen years now, so I heartily recommend it!

10 Dec 2010 Peppermint Bark Cookies

Mmmmm…, the flavors of Christmas! For me they are gingerbread, eggnog and peppermint.  Last December Bon Appetit magazine featured this Peppermint Bark Cookie. It’s a shortbread base topped with melted chocolate, crushed candy canes, and then drizzled with white chocolate.  When cooled this bar cookie is broken into irregular pieces. Yes, a bar cookie!  This is a very easy cookie to make!

I can’t think of anything more Christmas-y than a plate of Gingerbread Folk, Egg Nog Spritz, and Peppermint Bark Cookies…, with Tangerine Sugar Cookies, Jam Pinwheels, Caramel Bars, Chocolate-Caramel Coconut Bars AND my soon-to-be-posted White Chocolate Spice Cookies, too 🙂

Peppermint Bark Cookies

2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces (approx 1 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (try to use a better chocolate than chocolate chips)
½ – ¾ cup finely chopped red-and-white striped hard peppermint candy canes ( 6 – 8 candy canes)
3 oz. (½ cup) white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina–no white chocolate chips if you want really, really good flavor)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray a jelly roll pan or quarter sheet pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving overhang on both short sides of pan.
  3. Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy about 3 minutes more. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.
  5. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork. Bake until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes (check after 20, mine got overcooked).
  6. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle chopped chocolate over hot shortbread. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over the melted chocolate.
  7. Melt white chocolate (I put in a small freezer Ziplock and MW-ed on 50% power for 90 sec. Squished to melt, cut a hole in corner of bag and drizzled over chocolate and candy canes). Drizzle white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
  8. Using paper overhang as aid, lift cookie from pan and transfer to work surface. Using large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in refrigerator in airtight containers between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper.

The cookie plate is looking spectacular now, isn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen so often.  This is FUN!