Thursday, December 22, 2011

Orange Sweet Rolls with Cranberries and Walnuts

So you want to serve something warm and sweet and gooey to your family on Christmas morning, but you want the recipe to be quick and easy and you don't want to make the dough from scratch. What to do? What to do? Have I got the recipe for you! It starts with dinner rolls (yes dinner rolls!) and ends up being warm sweet rolls. Merry Christmas!

Orange Sweet Rolls with Cranberries and Walnuts
Makes one dozen

1 cup walnuts, coarsely choppes
1/3 cup dried creanberries
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
12 biscuites from 2 cans Pillsbury Homestyle biscuites
3/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp finely grated orange zest

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Genrously coat a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

Sprinkle walnuts and dried cranberries evenly over pan bottom. Mix sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Working one at a time, dip each biscuit into melted butter and then into cinnamon-sugar mixture. With long edge of pan facing you, arrange bisuits in three rows of four. Mix leftover butter and cinnamon-sugar mix, along with the orange zest; spread evenly over biscuits.

Bake until golden brown, 40 to 45minutes. Remove from oven; let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Invert onto serving platter, removing any of the remaining nut mixtures that may have stuck to the pan with a spatula to spread onto biscuits. Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Baked Brie

These bite-sized treats come together with puff pastry. It's buttery. It's flaky and light. It's buttery. It's totally buttery. They are sweet little cheese pockets. And they will haunt your dreams this holiday season. Psst! A lot of brie was eaten in the making of these pockets. Shh! These are best served warm. It's warm cheese baked in a buttery crust with sweet jam. If you need more convincing to make this...I just...dunno.

Baked Brie
Makes 24 squares

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1/2 wedge of brie, cold
1.3 cup guava jam (or any flavor you fancy)
1 large egg, beaten
Splash of milk

Cut the puff pastry into thirds along the creases. Cut each panel into four pieces. They'll be 2 1/4-inch tall and 3-inches wide. One sheet of puff pastry should yield 12 rectangles. cut each rectangle in half. You'll have 24 little rectangles that will create 12 little rectangle pockets.

Combine beaten egg and plash of milk. Brush 12 of the small rectangles with egg wash. Place a popsicle stick halfway up the puff pasty and press gently. Place a small sliver of brie (rind and all) on top of the egg wash (and stick). Top with 1/2 tsp of guava jam. Take another square of puff pastry and press between your fingers to make the rectangle slightly bigger. Place puff pastry on top of the cheese and jam. Use a fork to press the edges together. The egg wash will act as a glue. Make sure to seal the edges well by crimping with the fork.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 385 degrees. Place prepared bites on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with a touch of coarsely ground sea salt. Bake f0r 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles

During the holidays I always love pulling out the family cookbook and searching for goodies to share at parties and whatnot. Usually I'm looking for recipes I've enjoyed over the years, but every now and then I'll try something new. Like these truffles. Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles! Simple? Certainly. Tasty? You bet!

Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles
Makes 48

8 oz cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
5 oz bittersweet dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Coatings for truffles:
Toasted pecans, chopped (or other nuts)
Flaked coconuts
Cocoa powder

Using a mixer, slowly add powdered sugar to cream cheese, mixing well after each addition.

Add melted chocolate and vanilla and mix until smooth.

Chill several hours.

Shape into 1-inch balls.

Roll in coatings.

Chilled, covered until ready to serve.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cracker Pizza

Confession time: I've never mastered the pizza dough. But I found this recipe for cracker pizza and it is fabulous. I've grown quite fond of crispy, crunchy pizza. It's good eating if you ask me. And this recipe is as simple as it gets. Fifteen minutes from start to that first crunchy bite. The whole family has enjoyed it several times, for dinner and snacks. The kids can even make their own, using their own toppings and combinations. It's that easy.

Cracker Pizza
Makes one

1 whole large tortilla
2 tbsp. pizza sauce
1/4 cups mozzarella cheese
10 slices pepperoni
3 dashes pizza seasoning

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.

Spoon the pizza sauce onto the tortilla, spread it out almost to the edges, evenly.

Top with cheese and pepperoni. Sprinkle with pizza seasoning.

Bake for about 10 minutes. This will brown fast so pay close attention while it is in the oven.

You can modify this with any type of pizza toppings you prefer.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I usually leave the baking of this recipe to my sister-in-law since: (1) she is really good at it and (2) this is way too labor-intensive for me. But I had a free Sunday afternoon and what's a girl to do?

This sticky and divine dessert pairs perfectly with coffee (or tea!) and makes a great gift.

Serves 16

1 package phyllo dough
4 cups chopped walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 stick butter, melted
2 cups honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract

Remove phyllo dough from package and place in the freidge for 24 hours to thaw. Remove from fridge 1 hour before using.

When working with phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, then a damp cloth.

Toss together the chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thororughly butter a rectangular baking pan. Make sure the sheets of phyllo will generally fit the pan.

Butter the top sheet of phyllo with melted butter, then grab it and the unbuttered sheet below it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of the sheets buttered.

Sprinkle on enough walnuts to make a single layer. Butter two sheets of phyllo and place them on top of the walnuts. Add more walnuts, then two more buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat this a couple more times, or until you are out of walnuts. Top with 4 more buttered phyllo sheets, ending with a buttered top. Cut a diagonal diamond pattern in the baklava using a very sharp knife.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the baklava is golden brown.

While the baklava is baking, combine 1 stick of the butter, honey, water, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half the saucepan evenly over the top. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute, the drizzle on a little more until you think it's thoroughly moistened.

Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered for several hour.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Crepes

Think you can't make crepes? Think again. Okay, I took a little help from the grocery store, but what did you expect? I am a working mom, after all. These apple cinnamon crepes are dee-licious! Try not to pass out as you dig in!

Apple Cinnamon Crepes
Makes 2

1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup diced Fuji apple
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. reduced fat/light cream cheese
1/2 cup cool Whip Free, thawed
2 9-inch ready-to-use dessert crepes
1 tsp. fat free or light caramel dip

In a small nonstick pot on stove, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt with 2 tbsp. cold water. Stir to dissolve. Add diced apple and lemon juice and stir. Bring to medium heat and cover. Cook until apple has softened and liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes, uncovering often to stir.

Remove pot from hear and transfer mixture to bowl. Allow to cool for several minutes. Thoroughly stir in cream cheese. Fold in whipped topping.

Lay crepes flat on dry surface. Evenly distribute apple mixture between the crepes. Fold each crepe up envelop-style, first folding the sides in, and the folding/rolling it up from the bottom.

Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Place crepes in skillet with seam sides down. Cook them until slightly browned, about 1 minute per side.

Plate your crepes and drizzle them with caramel dip.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

Red velvet cake is so pretty and perfect for the holiday season. If you think your holiday baking list is set, think again. You have to make these cookies! They will wow everyone who takes a bite! They have a creamy cheesecake filling and a drizzle of white chocolate. Mmmm.... mmm.... mmmm... They're perfect for Christmas or even Valentine's Day!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies
Makes 10 giant cookies

For the cookies:
1 box red velvet cake mix
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cheesecake filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the white chocolate drizzle:
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted

To make cookies:
In a large bowl combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake, mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Warp the dough in plastic wrap. The dough will be oily. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

To make the cheesecake filling:
Using a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Using a teaspoon, scoop out cheesecake filling and place on a plate. Continue scooping out cheesecake filling into teaspoon balls until you have 10. Place plate in the freezer and freeze for at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. To assemble the cookies, take about 1/4 cup of red velvet cookie dough and flatten in your hands. Place a teaspoon of cheesecake filling in the center and wrap the cookie dough around the filling. Gently roll into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Scoop onto lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Only bake 3 cookies at a time. The cookies are large and will spread. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the cookies begin to crackle. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Melt the whiten chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or over a double-boiler. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let the cookies set until the chocolate hardens. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Banana Whoopie Pies

I'm always looking for shortcuts, especially during the holiday season. I mean there's no shortage of things for me to do - wrapping gifts, baking cookies, decorating the tree... Need I go on? So, when I stumbled upon this easy recipe for whoopie pies, I could not contain my glee. Incredibly easy and oh-so-yummy, you won't need a special occasion to make these.

Banana Whoopie Pies
Makes 4

4 Vitalicious VitaTops (any chocolate flavor), frozen
3/4 cup Cool Whip Free
1 banana, thinly sliced

Carefully slice one VitaTop in half lengthwise so that you are left with 2 thin round "slices." Place 1/4th of the whipped topping on the bottom Vita slice; then top with 1/4th of the banana slices, followed by the top Vita slice.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. Freeze until solid, about 1 hour.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Caramel Swirl Cream Puffs

The holidays are here and that means cakes, cookies, pies and sweet treats will be tempting you everywhere. You won't believe how incredibly good this dessert recipe is or that it is a mere 120 calories per serving! Yes, you read that right! 120 calories! For a dessert! And it tastes good! So, what are you waiting for?

Caramel Swirl Cream Puffs
Makes 12

1 package refrigerated Pillsbury Crescent
2 1/2 cups Cool Whip Free, thawed
3 tbsp. Jell-O Sugar Free Fat Free Vanilla Instant Pudding mix
1 sugar free chocolate pudding snack (60 calories or less)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. fat free or light caramel dip

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

Roll dough out into a 12"x9" rectangle. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 squares. Place each square of dough into a muffin cup, and press it into the bottom and up along the sides to form a little dough cup.

Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Put whipped topping in a large bowl and add instant pudding mix. Stir until blended, thickened and uniform.

Add chocolate pudding in dollops, and then gently swirl into the whipped topping mixture - do not mix until uniform.

Remove dough cups from the muffin pan and evenly distribute pudding mixture among them.

Drizzle each with 1/2 tbsp. caramel dip and the use the end of a spoon or fork to swirl it into the pudding mixture. Serve with berries, if you'd like.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bacon Banh Mi

This recipe for Bacon Banh Mi brings my favorite Vietnamese sandwich home, swapping out the usual array of cold cuts and charcuterie for bacon but staying true to the other elements that make this sandwich so balanced and irresistible.

If you can, start out with a good baguette; it's got the ideal crumb, chew and crunch to really make or break this sandwich. After that it's time to quick-pickle carrots and daikon, slice up cucumbers and jalapeño, and stir up an umami-rich drizzle of soy, Maggi, and fish sauce. And then fry up some bacon, slather on the mayo, and assemble. It's a truly remarkable sandwich, and there's something even more remarkable about being able to replicate it at home.

Bacon Banh Mi
Makes 4 sandwiches

1 large carrot, cut into 2-inch matchsticks 1/8 inch thick (about 2 cups)
1 small daikon radish, cut into 2-inch matchsticks 1/8 inch thick (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
16 slices thick-cut bacon
4 Vietnamese baguettes or high-quality hero rolls
1 teaspoon Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise into 8 strips
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut lengthwise into matchsticks
1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 16 sprigs)
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the carrot, daikon, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of salt in a medium mixing bowl. Using your hands, massage the salt and sugar into the vegetables until they begin to soften and exude liquid. Set the bowl aside at room temperature for 30 minutes, then drain the vegetables. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl or Tupperware container and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the vinegar mixture over the drained vegetables, and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 1 hour. (The vegetables should last at least 10 days, and will get better with time.)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the bacon over it. Bake the bacon until crispy, about 15 minutes, then drain on a plate lined with two layers of paper towels.

Remove the foil from the baking sheet and discard it, then place the four baguettes on the now-empty baking sheet. Toast for 3 minutes until the exterior is crispy. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, Maggi seasoning sauce, soy sauce, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar.

With a bread knife, slit the baguettes lengthwise, leaving a hinge to keep the two halves connected. Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise evenly inside each baguette. Stuff the baguettes with four slices of bacon, a quarter cup of the pickled vegetables, two cucumber strips, a few slices of jalapeño, and four sprigs of cilantro. Drizzle with the fish sauce mixture and season with salt and pepper. Close the sandwiches and serve.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies

So fast and delicious, these will become your new favorite cookies. I especially like them fresh out of the oven. After a few hours, they will become crispy, much like a traditional sugar cookie. That is, if you can wait that long.
  • Brown Sugar Cookies

  • Ingredients
  • ¾ cups white sugar, divided
  • ½ cups butter or shortening
  • ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • ¼ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons cream of tartar

  • Directions
  • Cream sugars and shortening, using only 1/2 cup white sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients.

  • Use a cookie scoop to form nice round balls and roll each dough ball in the remaining 1/4 cup white sugar. Don’t flatten

  • Bake at 350ºF for 12 minutes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Balls

This is a great recipe to make with the kids. They love getting their hands dirty. In fact, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry right now. Keep a wooden spoon handy for smacking those sneaky fingers!

Peanut Butter Balls
Makes 30 balls

1/2 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
8-ounces chocolate flavored candy coating

In a mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter and butter. Gradually add powdered sugar, stirring until combined. Shape into 1-inch balls; place on waxed paper. Let stand till dry (about 20 minutes).

Melt candy coating. Cool slightly. Dip balls, one at a time, into coating. Let excess coating drip off of peanut butter balls. Place on waxed paper, let stand til coating is firm. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella, Almond Butter and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe takes lots of love. And all good things are worth waiting for. You could try doing this recipe with only one frosting but it just wouldn’t be the same. The combination of almond butter and Nutella is absolutely divine. If you don’t want to make the cupcakes and prefer to combine the two ingredients instead and lick the butter knife, I won’t tell.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella, Almond Butter and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting


For the Cupcakes:
2/3 cup Nutella
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
2 ½ cups buttermilk

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
5 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups), sifted
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract*

Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup Nutella
1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 3 3/4 cups), sifted
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
black and brown food coloring, optional

Almond Butter/Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup Almond Butter or Peanut Butter
1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 3 3/4 cups), sifted
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

*clear vanilla extract is used to maintain a purer white color. If this doesn't matter to you, then you may use regular vanilla extract.

For the Cupcakes
Line 3 dozen muffin cups with cupcake liners or grease using non-stick spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes, until it is pale and thick. Add in the butter. Mix until combined. Add in the nutella. Now, add in the buttermilk. Beat until well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture in 3 increments and beat until smooth. Divide batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream the butter and cream cheese in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixture. Add the vanilla. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar as you continue to cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until fluffy and smooth, adding milk or additional sugar (if needed) to reach desired consistency.

Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream the butter and cream cheese in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixture. Add the nutella and vanilla and continue to cream. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar as you continue to cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until fluffy and smooth, adding milk or additional sugar (if needed) to reach desired consistency. For a darker brown add 1 drop brown and 1 drop black food coloring.

Almond Butter or Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream the butter and cream cheese in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixture. Add the almond butter or peanut butter and vanilla and continue to cream. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar as you continue to cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until fluffy and smooth, adding milk or additional sugar (if needed) to reach desired consistency.

To Decorate
Please see Kitchen Tip: Two Tone Frosting for Cupcakes fo
r detailed instructions on how to pipe three different frosting flavors simultaneously.