Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Crêpe Bar

For our family Christmas party this year we decided to have a crepe bar.  It was a lot of fun!  I love crepes, but often forget about them.  We need to do this more often!

Crêpe Recipe:

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Make sure that the batter is mixed well so that there are NO LUMPS.  Use no more than 1/4 cup, and spread the batter around so it is very thin.  Cook on medium heat.
Topping suggestions:  bananas, peanut butter, nutella, honey, lemon juice, sugar, powdered sugar, ham, shredded cheese, jams, whipped cream cheese, chopped apples, caramel sauce, cinnamon sugar

My favorite combinations:  sugar and lemon juice, ham and cheese, apples with caramel sauce, whipped cream cheese with strawberries and nutella

Monday, December 28, 2009

English Toffee

Another favorite from "Christmas Recipes from the Lion House"

1 cup butter
5 tsp. water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup toasted almonds (see below)
1 8 oz milk chocolate bar (chocolate chips also work here)
1/2 finely chopped walnuts (optional)

In heavy saucepan mix butter, water, and sugar.  Bring to boil and cook at highest heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown and candy leaves sides of pan.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and toasted almonds.  Pour onto greased cookie sheet.  Break up chocolate bar into small pieces and sprinkle over top of toffee.  When chocolate starts to melt, spread evenly over top of toffee with knife.  Sprinkle with walnuts, if desired.  Allow to cool for 12 hours.  Break into pieces.  Makes about 12 lbs. candy.

Toasted Almonds:

Spread 1 cup blanched slivered almonds in shallow pan and coat with 1 tsp. salad oil or melted butter.  Roast in over at 300 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often.

Layered Peppermint Bark

17 ounces high quality white chocolate, finely chopped (don’t use chips)
6 ounces peppermint candy canes, crushed
7 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate
5½ Tbs whipping cream
¾ tsp peppermint extract

1. Turn large baking sheet bottom side up. Cover securely with foil. Mark 12×9-inch rectangle on foil. Stir white chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) until chocolate is melted and smooth and candy thermometer registers 110°F. (chocolate will feel warm to the touch). Remove from over water. Pour 2/3 cup melted white chocolate onto rectangle on foil. Using icing spatula, spread chocolate to fill rectangle. Sprinkle with ¼ cup crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

2. Stir bittersweet chocolate, cream and peppermint extract in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Pour bittersweet chocolate mixture in long lines over white chocolate rectangle. Using icing spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate in even layer. Refrigerate until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

3. Rewarm remaining white chocolate in bowl set over barely simmering water to 110°F. Working quickly, pour white chocolate over firm bittersweet chocolate layer; spread to cover. Immediately sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes. If you let the bark go much longer than this- it will be very hard to cut neatly.

4. Lift foil with bark onto work surface; trim edges. Cut bark crosswise into 2-inch wide strips. Using metal spatula, slide bark off foil and onto work surface. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections and each section diagonally into 2 triangles, or squares. You can also just break into large chunks and enjoy.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Christmas Caramels

Christmas wouldn't be the same without homemade caramels.  I make these every year with this same recipe.  The recipe came from my cookbook "Christmas Recipes from the Lion House."  I love the Lion House cookbooks.

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
dash of salt

Combine ingredients in heavy pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon.  Keep at rolling boil and cook till soft ball forms in cold water (about 15 minutes).   Pour into buttered 7x11 inch pan.  Cool, then cut into squares and wrap each piece in wax paper.  Makes about 75 piece of candy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winter Salad

I am always asked to bring this salad to holiday get togethers.  I love making it at Christmastime.  And it really tastes as good as it looks!

1 can beets, cubed
2 Tbs. veg. oil
juice from 1 orange (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup pomegranate juice (I've found this at Smith's Marketplace at Target)
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 med. red onion, thinly sliced
2 cans mandarin orange pieces
1 cup pomegranate seeds
5 cups of fresh greens (Spring Mix)

Whisk orange juice, pomegranate juice, vinegar, and 2 Tbs. oil in large bowl to blend.  Season vinagrette with salt and pepper.  Place onion in small bowl.  Cover with cold water.  Soak onion 1 minute, drain, and squeeze dry in kitchen towel.  Add beets, onion, orange slices, and pomegranate seeds to vinagrette in bowl, toss.  Season salad with salt and pepper, arrange on top of a bed of greens.

Veggie Pizza

2 tubes of crescent rolls
3/4 cup mayo
1 package dry ranch dressing seasoning
1-8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1/2-1 cup shredded cheese, cheddar and parmesan
assorted chopped veggies- carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, olives,
tomatoes, onions, peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, ect.

Flatten crescent rolls out onto a cookie sheet to make the crust.  Bake according to package directions. Remove from oven; let cool.  In a medium bowl: mix cream cheese, ranch, mayo until smooth.  Spread ranch mix on top of cooked and cooled crust.  Top with shredded cheese and chopped veggies.  Chill for 1 hour.  Cut into squares.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Brunch Punch

1 large can pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cups cranberry pomegranate juice
1/2 container frozen limeade concentrate
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 liter of Sprite

Float on top for decoration:  slices of limes, oranges, lemons.

Mix all ingredients in large bowl with lots of ice.

Hope your day was wonderful!  Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Kiss Centered Brownie Bites

Original recipe found on Picky Palate.  She remembered to take a picture of the inside.  Aren't they cute!

I just made up a brownie mix from a box.  I greased a mini muffin tin, then pressed the kisses in the center of each tin cup.  Be careful not to press the kiss all the way to the bottom or it makes it harder to get them out of the tin.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!


Brian has always loved baklava.  Last week I heard him banging around in the kitchen, only to discover him in there baking away.  He was watching the food network, saw Alton Brown making baklava, and decided to make some.  Nothing cuter than watching your husband cooking in the kitchen!  It turned out so good.  This recipe is a keeper!


For the filling:

  • 1 (5-inch piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons ground
  • 15 to 20 whole allspice berries
  • 6 ounces blanched almonds
  • 6 ounces raw or roasted walnuts
  • 6 ounces raw or roasted pistachio
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon rose water (we omitted because we couldn't find it)
  • 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
  • 8 ounces clarified unsalted butter, melted

For the syrup:

  • 1 1/4 cups honey
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh orange peel


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the cinnamon stick and whole allspice into a spice grinder and grind.
Place the almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sugar and freshly ground spices into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not pasty or powdery, approximately 15 quick pulses. Set aside.
Combine the water and rose water in a small spritz bottle and set aside.
Trim the sheets of phyllo to fit the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch metal pan. Brush the bottom and sides of the pan with butter; lay down a sheet of phyllo and brush with butter. Repeat this step 9 more times for a total of 10 sheets of phyllo. Top with 1/3 of the nut mixture and spread thinly. Spritz thoroughly with the rose water. Layer 6 more sheets of phyllo with butter in between each of them, followed by another third of the nuts and spritz with rose water. Repeat with another 6 sheets of phyllo, butter, remaining nuts, and rose water. Top with 8 sheets of phyllo brushing with butter in between each sheet. Brush the top generously with butter. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cut into 28 squares. Return pan to the oven and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and cool for 2 hours before adding the syrup.
Make the syrup during the last 30 minutes of cooling. Combine the honey, water, sugar, cinnamon stick and orange peel in a 4-quart saucepan and set over high heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Once boiling, boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and discard the orange peel and cinnamon stick.
After the baklava has cooled for 2 hours, re-cut the entire pan following the same lines as before. Pour the hot syrup evenly over the top of the baklava, allowing it to run into the cuts and around the edges of the pan. Allow the pan to sit, uncovered until completely cool. Cover and store at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to overnight before serving. Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy

8 buttermilk biscuits
3/4 pound of sausage (fatty sausage works best for this)
4 cups of milk
4-6 tablespoons of flour

Prepare biscuits as instructed on package. Brown sausage in skillet. As soon as sausage is completely brown, turn to medium heat. Add flour by the tablespoon, stirring constantly. Let the flour turn BROWN before adding another tablespoon (if you don't, your gravy will taste like flour). After you have added enough flour to make the gravy as thick as you like, add milk and stir with whisk.

Serve over biscuits.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Aloha Chicken

This is really too easy of a recipe to even post on a recipe blog, but since I often click through here when I'm menu planning, I guess I'll put it on here even though it is only a couple of ingredients.  That way I remember to plan it into my menu.  It's easy, and my family all likes it.

In crockpot put:
3-4 chicken breasts
1/2 bottle of bbq sauce

Cook for 3 hours on high, then add 1 can of pineapple tidbits and cook 20 additional minutes.

Serve over rice.


That's it.

I told you it wasn't much!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lemon Glacier Candy

2 pkgs. (10 1/4 oz. each) hard lemon drop candies, crushed
8 oz. vanilla candy coating

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Spread candies on a lightly greased jellyroll pan.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until candies melt, tilting pan as necessary to evenly cover pan.  Place pan on a wire rack to cool.  Stirring frequently, melt candy coating in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat.  Spread candy coating over candy layer.  Chill 10 minutes or until coating hardens.  Break into pieces.

These are pretty sour, so you need to really like lemon to enjoy these!  (Which I do.)  :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pasta with Caramelized Onions

1. Caramelize 2 lbs. sweet onions (vidalia is a favorite of mine), remove from skillet, set aside.  (Tutorial for caramelizing onions is HERE.)

2.  In skillet, add 8 oz. dry pasta (either angel hair or birds nests).  Cook and stir for 4-6 minutes or until pasta is browned.

3.  Add caramelized onions plus 2 cups of water to skillet.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Cover and cook 5 minutes.  Uncover and cook 5 more minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.  Serve immediately.

You could serve this pasta alone.  I served it tonight alongside ham and a few leftovers sides.

Pretzel Turtles

Whole nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews, any would work)
M n M's
Any other candy you want to use
white chocolate for drizzling over top (optional)

I have a big jar of holiday pretzels (trees, stars, bells).  They are so cute.  So I decided to use some to make some pretzel turtles.  Of course you don't have to have holiday pretzels to make these, the knot pretzels work just great.

To begin, you heat your oven to 350, then spread out pretzels on an ungreased baking sheet.  Top each pretzel with an unwrapped rolo, and bake for 3 minutes.  This will make them soft and gooey, but they'll still be holding their shape.  Remove from oven, and top with candy of your choice.

I topped mine with cashews, M n M's, and cinnamon gummy Santas.  I have drizzled these with white chocolate before, but didn't this time.

These are wayyyyy easy.  And  I am a fan of salty/sweet.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lemon Star Cookies

I was in a cooking store in Orem yesterday and I saw yellow sugar crystals. I had just barely seen a recipe in one of my magazine for these cute star cookies with sparkly yellow sugar crystals on them and had wondered to myself where you could purchase yellow sugar crystals. When I saw them in the store I knew it was a sign! I bought them and got excited to make these sparkly little cuties!  I love cookie bling.

Recipe from Taste of Home--Holiday Christmas Cookies and Candies

For Cookies:
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract (I doubled it)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

For Icing:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp. butter
3/4 tsp. lemon extract (again, I doubled it)
3 drops yellow food coloring or paste
3 to 4 Tbsp. milk
Yellow colored sugar crystals (I bought mine at the Bosch store, but you could even use regular sugar crystals, mix them with some yellow food coloring, and bake them for a few minutes on a cookie sheet if you can't find the yellow ones)
1.  In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and extract.  Stir in sour cream and peel.  Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Divide dough into three balls; cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until easy to handle.
2.  Remove one portion of dough from the refrigerator at a time.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut with a floured 2-inch star cookie cutter.  Place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
3.  Bake at 375 degrees F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks to cool.
4.  For icing, in a bowl combine the powdered sugar, butter, extract, food coloring if desired and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency.  Ice cookies; sprinkle with colored sugar.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen medium sized stars.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oreo Truffles--revisited

Remember these SUPER easy, SUPER good "Oreo Truffles"?

They are lovely drizzled with white chocolate, but at Christmas time they become a holiday treat when drizzled with red and green chocolate as well!

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

This is another one of those recipes where I tried to copy a favorite dish from a restaurant.  I love the "Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza" from the California Pizza Kitchen.  I ordered it everytime we went.  Then one day I went to order, and they had discontinued it when they redid their new menus!  :(  I was sad!

I think that they have actually put it back on the menu since, but I paid close attention so I could recreate it at home in case they ever pull this trick on me again.

I knew my kids would probably freak at this pizza, so of course I had a back up pizza ready too.


  • 1 (16 ounce) package refrigerated pizza crust dough
  • 4 ounces sliced provolone cheese
  • 2 Bosc pears, thinly sliced
  • 1 carmelized onion
  • 2 ounces chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 package spring greens, tossed in Ranch dressing


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll crust out on baking stone and bake crust for 6 minutes.
  3. Remove and cool.
  4. Layer with Provolone cheese. Top cheese with Bosc pear slices. Sprinkle with walnuts, carmelized onions and Gorgonzola cheese.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven 6-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned. Remove from heat. 
  6. Top with mixed spring greens tossed in Ranch dressing.

Here's what it looked like before I topped it with salad:

Mmmm, just like I remembered it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to carmelize onions

I love carmelized onions.  I like them on a lot of things:  potatos, steaks, fajitas, pizza, roast beef sandwiches....  They are just so good!  I found this tutorial on Simply Recipes and wanted to post it here so I can easily find it.

Print Options

How to Caramelize Onions

Quantities depend on how much caramelized onions you wish to make. In this example, 5 large raw onions yielded about 2 cups caramelized onions.


  • Several medium or large onions, yellow, white, or red
  • Olive oil
  • Butter (optional)
  • Salt
  • Sugar (optional)


caramelized-onions-1.jpg caramelized-onions-2.jpg
1 Slice off the root and top ends of the onions, peel the onions. Cut the onions in half. Lay them cut side down and slice the onions lengthwise to desired thickness. If you want, you can cut a little wedge in the tough rootball end of the onions and discard that part, but we haven't found this to be necessary, as this part of the onion softens and cooks with the rest over the long cooking time.
caramelized-onions-3.jpg caramelized-onions-4.jpg
2 Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process. (I add only about a teaspoon of sugar for 5 onions, you can add more.)
caramelized-onions-5.jpg caramelized-onions-6.jpg
3 Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. The trick is to let them alone enough to brown (if you stir them too often, they won't brown), but not so long so that they burn. After the first 20 to 30 minutes you may want to lower the stove temperature a little, and add a little more oil, if you find the onions are verging on burning. A metal spatula will help you scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the caramelization proceeds. As the onions cook down, you may find you need to scrape the pan every minute, instead of every few minutes. Continue to cook and scrape, cook and scrape, until the onions are a rich, browned color. At the end of the cooking process you might want to add a little balsamic vinegar or wine to help deglaze the pan and bring some additional flavor to the onions.
Store refrigerated for several days in an air-tight container.

Shattered Crystal Ball Jello--revisited

Remember THIS jello recipe from October?

It works great at Christmastime too!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Penne Pasta in Tomato Cream Sauce

My sister posted this one yesterday over on her recipe blog (Heather's Happy Haven), and it looked so
easy and good.

I love easy and good recipes.

And this one totally fit that description.

We had a super busy day running around playing catch up from the weekend, and taxi-ing the kids to their activities.  Happily, I was able to swing by the grocery store and pick up the ingredients for this on the way home.  I also picked up a bag of salad, pre-made garlic bread that only had to be warmed in the oven, and some frozen mozzarella sticks, and dinner was on the table 20 minutes after I got home.  I love that!


8 oz penne pasta
1 can Del Monte diced tomatoes with Garlic and Onion
1/2 cup fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried
3/4 cup cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and keep warm. Cook tomatoes over medium-high heat in a skillet until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, add basil and cream. Heat thoroughly. DO NOT BOIL. Toss with pasta and cheese. Serve.

(Tip: Do not substitute with half n half, use whole cream) The consistency changes with the half n half.

***When I made this I doubled all of the ingredients except for the tomatoes (none of my children will eat them) and used Del Monte diced italian tomatoes with garlic instead because that's all I saw at the store.  They tasted just fine with it.

Thanks Sis!

**Incidentally, Giada from the Food Network made a similar dish, but added shrimp.  If I weren't allergic, I think I would for sure try making it that way.  But for the rest of you shrimp lovers, you should check it out here.  It looks good!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Monkey Bread

(picture from google images--we gobbled mine up too fast to take a picture!)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 pkg. (25 oz) frozen white dinner yeast rolls, thawed (I made mine from scratch since I was making some dough for a pizza anyway)
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup butterscotch chips, divided
1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.  Tear each roll into 3 pieces.  Dip each piece into melted butter and roll in brown sugar mixture.  Place half of dough pieces on a greased 10 inch fluted tube pan.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup butterscotch chips and 1/4 cup pecans over dough.  Place remaining dough pieces in pan.  Sprinkle remaining butterscotch chips an pecans over dough.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

**Tip: Cover with aluminum foil if bread begins to brown too quickly.

Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Invert bread onto a serving plate.  Serve warm.

Sidenote:  We just got back from 8 days in Cancun.  It sure was fun.  Time to start cooking again, I guess.  I have to admit, as much as I love my kitchen, I enjoyed my break from it!


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