Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Take on one of My Favorite Candy Bars

These candies are very similar in taste to one of my favorite candy bars, Take 5.  I love the mixture of the sweet, salt, and caramel; you just can't get any better than that.  I'm always looking for different combinations of sweet and salty and I will try almost anything at least once. 

The first time I had these candies Spencer and I were at our friends engagement party, I tried one and I was hooked.  I had a couple and then started trying to figure out what all it took to make these.  Spencer told me it was just pretzels, Rolos, and pecans; I thought that was too easy and there had to be more to it.  When we finally started talking to the host he told us that it was just pretzels, Rolos and pecans; I couldn't believe it.  That was almost too easy to make these tastey candies; there's not much to them at all.

I wanted to make these so bad after I tried them at the party but I really didn't have a good excuse.  I didn't want to make a batch just have sitting at the house since it made so many and they are so addicting.  Finally when Christmas came around Spencer's mom asked me to bring some snacks and appetizers over so we could have them to nibble on until the meal was ready.  Since the opportunity presented itself to make these I took it!  I'm so glad I made them, they were such a hit with everyone there.  The best thing is they are so easy!!!

Pretzel Candies



 

Chocolate Pretzel Candy

Ingredients:

Pretzel Candies



1 Bag small pretzels (I used pretzel waffles because the store was out of regular pretzels

1 Package Rolos candy

1 Package of pecan halves

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place pretzels in single rows on foil.  Unwrap the Rolo candies and place 1 Rolo on each pretzel.  Once all the pretzels are covered place in oven for 2-3 minutes, just until the candies are softened.  

Remove from oven and place pretzels on top of Rolos and press down.  Repeat process until all pretzels are topped.

   Pretzel Candies



Recipe from: Lance

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fried Chicken Casserole

I think that this is probably one of my favorite recipes to make; there's not a whole lot to it but it's so good.  The first time I had it was at a family get together; my aunt made it and it was incredible.  I got the recipe from her and it's been one of Spencer's favorites ever since. 
This recipe is a casserole but the topping on it tastes like the batter from fried chicken.  I think that it combines two popular items, casseroles and fried chicken and it gives you the best of both.  So in saying that; I must say that this is definitely a comfort food dish.  I love the creaminess in the casserole and then the crunch on top just gives it that something extra.
This is definitely a dish that the entire family can enjoy.  I would say that even some of the pickiest eaters would enjoy it.  This is great served by itself or would be pretty good served with or on top of a bed of rice.  It pretty much goes with any sides; it's a very versatile dish.  



Crunchy Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:

3-4 Chicken breast, boiled and shredded (if they are small use four)   
1 Can cream of mushroom soup
1 Medium container sour cream
Splash of cooking sherry
1 Sleeve Club crackers, crunched up
1/2 - 1 Stick butter, completely melted
Salt and Pepper to taste  

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl mix together cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and cooking sherry.  Once ingredients are combined, stir in the shredded chicken and mix.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
Pour mixture into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the crunched crackers on top and then pour butter evenly over the crackers, making sure all crackers are covered.  If you need to use a little more butter to cover all the crackers, that's fine.
Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until crackers are crisp and golden brown.
Crispy Chicken Casserole 

Recipe Source: My Wonderful Aunt

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Creamy Corn Casserole

Corn is one of my favorite vegetables, there's quite a bit you can do with them.  They can be very simple with just a little salt, or spiced up a little bit according to taste.  There are tons of different corn recipes floating around; they all sound so good and there are a lot out there I still want to try.  Although new recipes are so much fun to try sometimes you just can't beat the recipes that you were raised on.

This corn casserole has been a staple in my family for as long as I can remember.  Since I can remember I've always helped my mom make this and when I had the opportunity to help make the sides for a meal this was always a go to.  It's very simple but it's always consistently good.  Every time I have this recipe it just makes me think of home and mom's home cooking.

This recipe is also one of those that is so easy to adjust  according to taste.  I've made this for people that love spicey dishes and for people that can't handle that much heat; I just adjust the amount of jalapenos or type of peppers according to whom I am cooking for.  I prefer mine to have a little spice to it so I use quite a few jalapeno peppers, however, if you don't like that much spice you can cut back on the peppers or use banana peppers or some other type of mild pepper.  

This is definitely one of my all time favorite dishes.  It goes with so many things and it's also one of those sides that can be made ahead of time and then baked when the rest of the meal is being prepared.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and everyone that I've shared it with does.

Creamy Corn Casserole

Ingredients:
 Corn Casserole
1 Can cream corn
1 Can whole kernal corn, well drained
2-3 Tbsp butter
1 (8oz) block cream cheese, softened
3-4 Tbsp pickled jalapenos, sliced (optional)
1-2 Teaspoons jalapeno juice (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In an oven safe dish mix together butter and cream cheese.  Once combined stir in whole kernal corn, that has been drained, and cream corn.  Mix in jalapenos, juice and salt and pepper.  Before putting in oven wipe off sides of the dish so the excess mixture won't burn.
Corn Casserole
Once all ingredients are combined put in oven for 45 minutes.  Stir occassionally to ensure that corn doesn't burn to the bottom or sides of the dish.   Remove from oven and enjoy!
 Corn Casserole


Recipe source: Lynsey Lou's

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bacon Cheddar Dip

At work, we all decided to have a little Christmas party on Christmas Eve.  Everyone agreed to bring a few things that we could snack on throughout the day.  The desserts were already taken care of so I decided that I would make some sausage balls, so we could have something to eat on during the morning, and then I also made some dip. 

I wanted to make a dip that was pretty easy and that didn't need to be heated or kept warm while being served.  I started looking around on different websites to see if there was anything that just jumped out at me.  It's amazing how many different dips there are; it can be overwhelming especially if you don't have an idea of what kind you want to make.  I finally came across this dip on the Kraft Foods website and thought it sounded pretty good.  There were very minimal ingredients and it would only take a matter of minutes to put together.  Since I had some other stuff I needed to do in the kitchen I decided this was the one I would go with.

This dip was so easy to put together and didn't take hardly any time at all.  The recipe called for real bacon bits but I used real bacon and crumbled it up; which I think made it even better.  I made it the night before so it could chill over night and so the flavors would infuse a little better.  This is a dip that would be great served at any type of gathering any time throughout the year.  

Bacon Cheddar Dip
Bacon Cheddar Dip 

Ingredients:

1 (16oz.) Container reduced fat sour cream
1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4-6 Slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Green onions, sliced
Crackers to serve with dip (I used Triscuits)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together (except crackers) and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Bacon Cheddar Dip 

 Recipe Source: Kraft Foods

Saturday, January 10, 2009

White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins

I love the combination of chocolate and pretty much anything; I just think that there are endless combinations.  I try to pair new things together from time to time just to see what I can come up with.  Although the combination of white chocolate and cranberries is nothing new, they are two flavors that I've been wanting to work with for quite some time now. 

 I had planned on making some cookies with white chocolate and cranberries but one day muffins sounded good to me so I decided to incorporate the flavors in the muffins instead.  The muffins turned out incredible!  They weren't too rich for breakfast; they were just right.  All of the flavors just blend together and compliment one another so well.

 I also made them in a large muffin pan and that made it even better.  I just love the "Texas" size muffins, so any chance I get to use my pan I do!  There is a trick to cooking in a pan where the muffins are larger; turn the heat down and cook them a little more slowly than you normally would.  If you cook them at the normal temperature then the outsides cook a lot faster and end up burning before the inside cooks completely.  These were such a hit the first time I made them that I've made them three more times since. 

My mom tried them while she and my dad were visiting and she requested that I make them and bring them when we had Christmas.  Spencer took some to work for his breakfast a few times and he let some of his co-workers try them and I have recently received requests from them for a batch.  Needless to say they have been a big hit since I created my recipe.

Now on to the good stuff!!!

White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins

White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins   


Ingredients: 


2 1/2 Cups flour


1 1/4 Cups sugar


1 3/4 Teaspoon baking soda


2 Teaspoons baking powder


1 1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg


3/4 Cup shortening, (I used butter flavored Crisco)


2 Teaspoons cinnamon


1/4 Teaspoon all spice


Dash of salt


1 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla


3/4 Cup milk


2-3 Eggs, slightly beaten (It just depends on the consistency after the first two are mixed in; if the dough still seems to be a little stiff then add the 3rd egg)


1 1/2 Cup cranberries (I used dried but you can use fresh if you prefer)


1 Cup white chocolate chips


Sugar in the Raw, for garnish


 


Directions:


Preheat oven to 325 F. (Preheat to 350 if using a muffin tin with "normal" size muffins)


In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Once all the dried ingredients are combined cut in the shortening with a pastry blender.  Blend the dough until the shortening is incorporated completely; the mixture should look like a lot of tiny balls. 


With an electric mixer mix in the nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice and vanilla.  Once well mixed add in the milk.  Add eggs in one by one until all have been added.  Once everything is mixed together stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips.


Pour into greased muffin tins.  For the "Texas" size muffins I spooned a little over 1/3 cup of muffin batter in the tins.  Place muffins in the oven and bake on 325 for about 25 minutes.


Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw.  Remove muffins from pan and place on cooling rack.  Let cool completely before placing in a well sealed container.


 


WCC Muffins


Recipe Source: A Lynsey Original

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bite into some Bark!

The combination of mint and chocolate has been a favorite of mine ever since I can remember.  I've had many different goodies that have had those flavor combinations and I love them all.  So for the final part of the goody baskets I decided to make something that I enjoy everytime I have it. 

Peppermint bark, like a lot of other foods and sweets, has become more and more popular over the past few years.  It seems like whenever the stores start getting their Christmas stuff out the peppermint bark starts to be seen more as well.  William-Sonoma has some of the best peppermint bark I've ever had.  The chocolate is just incredible and it has just the right about of mint flavor in it where it blends so well.  I take my time eating their bark whenever I get the chance to have some because I want to savor the taste of it! 

After I had eaten some peppermint bark I decided that I wanted to try to make some.  It didn't seem like there would be that much to it and since I enjoy eating it so much I might as well figure out how to make some.  It really wasn't that hard to make at all.  Making it yourself also gives you the control to add as much or as little peppermint flavoring as desired.  I think my first time making it was right on the money; I loved the taste of it as well as everyone else that tried it.  This just might be a tradition from now on:).

 

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark



 

Ingredients:

1 - 1 1/2 Bags of chocolate chips (I used a combination of milk chocolate and semi sweet )

1 - 1 1/2 Bags of white chocolate chips

1/4 Teaspoon peppermint extract, divided

1 Dozen and a half peppermints, crushed

Directions:

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper.

Place chocolate chips in the microwave or double boiler and melt completely.  Keep a close eye on it to keep it from burning.  Once chocolate is melted stir in 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint extract and about 6 crushed peppermints.  Once everything is combined pour onto wax paper.  Place the chocolate in the fridge to harden.

After the chocolate has had time to harden and set repeat the process above using the white chocolate chips.  Once the chocolate is melted and everything is combined pour the white chocolate over the milk/semi sweet chocolate mix.  While the white chocolate is still warm and melted sprinkle the remaining crushed peppermints over the top.  Place chocolate back in the refrigerator and let harden.  (I let mine set over night)

Once the chocolate has set up and become hard, remove from the refrigerator and pull off of the wax paper and break apart.  Place in well sealed container and either keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Peppermint Bark



 

This is how I packaged it to go in the baskets:

Peppermint Bark



 

Recipe by: Lynsey Lou

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Salty and Sweet Makes an Awesome Treat!

I'm a huge fan of snacks and candies that have a mixture of saltiness and sweet; it's just the perfect combination all in one.  I think the Take 5 candy bars are some of the best out there because you get your mix of salt and sweet in every bite, you just can't beat that!  There are many things that can be made using the salty/sweet flavor combinations and each thing can have an individuals personal touch. 

Chocolate covered pretzels are another thing that I made to go in the goody basekts .  They are so easy to do but the presentation can be as fancy or as plain as desired.  I didn't do too much to these pretzels since they would be toted around and all that but they looked great anyway. 

I did two different varieties of these pretzels.  One of the batches were plain; pretzels dipped in melted chocolate bark and then drizzled with white chocolate.  The second the pretzels were dipped in chocolate bark and then rolled in crushed up peppermints and drizzled with melted candy cane Hershey Kisses.  Both of the flavor combinations were incredible and they were a big hit with all the recipients!

 

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Chocolate Covered Pretzels



 

Ingredients:

1 Bag pretzel rods

2-3 Squares chocolate bark

1/8 - 1/4 Cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Prepare a place with wax/parchment paper to set pretzels once dipped in chocolate. 

Melt chocolate in a double boiler until completely melted and smooth.  Reduce heat or turn off completely to avoid burning the chocolate or overcooking. 

Once chocolate is melted begin rolling pretzels in chocolate until desired coverage is acquired.  Place covered pretzels on wax paper and let set.  Continue process until all pretzels are covered.

Once the chocolate has set, place white chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish and heat until melted.  Keep an eye on the chocolate to avoid burning.  Once melted dip a fork in the chocolate and begin drizzling over the pretzels.  Let the chocolate dry before storing in a well sealed container.



For the peppermint rolled pretzels:

smash a handful of peppermints and place on a plate.  Repeat the dipping process as stated above.  Once the pretzel is dipped in the chocolate immediately roll in peppermint and then set on wax paper to cool.

Once the chocolate has set place about 6 candy cane Kisses in a microwave safe dish and melt.  Once they are melted dip a fork in the chocolate and drizzle over the top of the pretzels.  Plet set and cool before storing in a well sealed container.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels



 

Recipe by: Lynsey Lou

Red Velvet Cakeballs

I love to experiment in the kitchen and try all types of new things.  I come across a lot of unique recipes, ideas and presentations while I'm looking around different food websites and food blogs.  There are so many different ideas and takes on food; and they are all so interesting.  There are some that intrigue me so much that I bookmark them and have them as a must attempt recipe.  I must say that my "must attempt" list keeps growing longer and longer as I come across more amazing recipes.  Slowly but surely I will get to them all.

One of the things I have come across that I knew I must attempt were cake balls.  Cake balls have experienced a growing popularity over the past few months; I've seen them popping up on multiple websites.  They are just so much fun and there are so many different things that can be done with them.  They can be make in different shapes, sizes, flavors and even put on sticks to be made into cake pops.  They are so cute and the possibilities are almost endless!

After seeing these on quite a few websites I decided I wanted to attempt to make some.  I knew the recipe would make a lot and I didn't need those sitting around the house since it's just Spencer and myself most of the time.  I started thinking and I knew I wanted to do something for some of his co-workers so I decided I would do some goody baskets and fill it with some baked goods.  This would be the perfect time for me to try out the cake balls and not have a ton sitting around the house. 

The process of making these is pretty time consuming, so definitely keep that in mind whenever you start to make these.  I probably made it a little more lengthy than most people because I decided to make a homemade cake rather than using a cake mix...but it was worth it.  Plus I wanted to do Red Velvet cake and since that's my bosses favorite cake I wanted to make sure it would meet her expectations! (I had to take some goodies to her too!)  Even if you don't do a homemade cake it would be better to give yourself a couple of days to do the whole process. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sugar Cookies with Royal Frosting

Sugar Cookies


 

I had so much going on during the Christmas holiday that I barely had time to post any of the goodies that I made.  I baked so much stuff during the weeks surrounding Christmas that we had an abundance of stuff at our house constantly.  Not everything stayed; a lot of stuff was put in packages and sent to Spencer's work for his co-workers and other things were made to take to other people's houses. 

It just doesn't feel like Christmas without sugar cookies cut in all different Christmas shapes and icing them.  It's a great tradition to start with family and friends.  One weekend before Christmas we were keeping some friends kids and I thought they would enjoy making Christmas cookies while we were there.  Before we headed over to our friend's house I made the dough so it would have time to refrigerate and set before cutting out the shapes and baking them. 

After we had been over there for a while we decided it was time to start baking the cookies!  I rolled them out and used some powdered sugar as my "flour" substance so the cookies would have a sweet coating.  The dough rolled out perfectly and cut perfectly as well.  They baked up to a nice golden brown and of course we had to have a taste test when the first batch came out of the oven, and they tasted great.  After we got all the cookies cut and baked we let them cool for a while and then I made up the icing. 

Royal icing seemed to be a popular icing for decorating cookies this year so I decided I would try this icing out.  I was pretty excited about it because all the cookies I've seen iced with this icing look awesome.  All in all it was a pretty easy process mixing it up and getting the consistency that everyone describes.  I did cheat a little bit; since I wasn't at home I didn't want to try to transport eggs so I could get the egg whites so I got the egg whites in a carton (like you would find the egg beaters or something like that in).  They worked great; I recommend using these especially if you're a big fan of not wasting things (like egg yolks).  I really couldn't tell the difference between these egg whites and egg whites from a fresh cracked egg.  I was very pleased with the outcome of the icing; it stayed at a wonderful consistency throughout the decorating process.  It piped easily out of piping bags and it spread easily as well.  It does set up pretty quickly once on the cookie so if you're going to add sprinkles to them do it immediately after putting on the icing.  ***Next time I really want to try the flooding technique!

We had so much fun making and decorating these cookies.  The sugar cookies tasted great as well as the icing.  I got both of the recipes for the icing and the cookies off of Food Network.  They were both recipes from Alton Brown and if you don't have a favorite "cut out cookie" recipe I definitely recommend his. 

So now on to the good stuff!

Alton Brown's Sugar Cookies  

Sugar Cookies


Ingredients:

 3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Directions:

 Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.

 Now for the Royal Icing!

Ingredients:

3 ounces pasteurized egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions:

In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. Place icing in a pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired.

 

Recipe source: Alton Brown, Food Network

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Maple Cream Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet potatoes are being seen more and more in many different types of recipes now.  As society is going to healthier alternatives for meals more of the "better for you vegetables" are making appearances.  I have found myself trying to make more things with vegetables that are a little better for me; and sweet potatoes are one of the foods that I'm trying to cook with on a more regular basis.  I'm a huge fan of sweet potatoes so it hasn't bee too hard for me to incorporate them into my cooking.  It seems like more and more people have started cooking with them as well so it hasn't been hard to come across recipes for sweet potatoes.  This soup is just one of the many that I've come across lately.

When I was watching Rachael Ray's talk show I saw her making a soup with sweet potatoes.  I thought the concept sounded very interesting and I really didn't know what to think about it at first.  I watched her make the entire recipe because I was pretty curious of the outcome.  After seeing her make it the entire way through I was amazed, the soup was so hearty and with pairing of the white cheddar apple grilled cheese I knew it was something I had to try.  

Whenever I told people about the soup and what all it involved I got a lot of different reactions.  A lot of people didn't really know what to make of it or what to even imagine when I told them about it.  I had at least one other person that wanted to try it, Spencer, so I know I could at least cook it for the two of us.  Once I finished making it we sat down and ate it; it was definitely something different but we both loved it.  After I tested the recipe on us I took some to work to share with a co-worker and at first she didn't know what to picture but after I showed the soup to her and she tasted it she was hooked too.  


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