Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Roasted Banana Pudding


It's the last day of the year.  Some people are planning their celebrations to ring in the new year, others are planning their feast with peas, cabbage and cornbread, and then there are others who are making those resolutions.  Oh, the infamous resolutions.  I believe everyone has a love-hate relationship with these little jewels.  They are made with the best of intentions but for some reason or another are forgotten by March or April. 

One of the resolutions that hits almost everyone's list every. single. year. is to shed to some extra weight.  Get fit.  Eat right.  I believe we have all made that resolution at least one time.  Am I right?  But then we find a deliciously decadent dessert that we just have to have and then we slip off the bandwagon.  Sound familiar?  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Date Rumaki

Well, we are T-minus three days till 2014!  Can you believe it?  Where has 2013 gone?  Just think, tomorrow night we'll be celebrating the end of another year and waiting for that big ol' crystal ball to drop. 
Since the countdown to the new year has commenced I'm sure plans and preparation for parties are well underway.  That means drinks are being mixed and bought and menus are being made.
Today I'm sharing a yummy and easy recipe over at The Way To His Heart.  Date Rumaki; it's simply dates stuffed with a sweet cream cheese mixture and an almond and it's wrapped in bacon and baked to allow the bacon to crisp.  It's a simple but amazing recipe.
I was introduced to these little goodies at my brother's wedding almost 2 years ago and have been infatuated with them ever since.  They are the perfect finger food and would make a terrific addition to your New Year's Eve spread.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Honey Peanut Butter Dipped Ritz Cookies

Chocolate and peanut butter is a classic combination that is loved by so many.  Peanut butter cracker sandwiches is another thing that is timeless and that is enjoyed by people of all ages.  There's just something so good about that combination; sweet, crunchy peanut butter on top of a flaky, salty Ritz cracker, it hits all the right notes.
Now what if you were to take all of the above; chocolate, peanut butter with a tough of honey, and crackers and combine them?  Pretty amazing, right?  These are so simple to make and they provide you with a quick and delicious dessert that's ready in no time. 

Chocolate Dipped Stirring Spoons

So are you still looking for some easy and fun options for gifts or favors?  Throughout today and tomorrow I'll be sharing several ideas that are simple and quick and the great options for easy gifts or for the person that has everything.
Throughout the fall and winter people  just can't seem to get their fill of hot beverages whether it's cider, coffee or hot chocolate you'll always find hot beverages in hand.  So whether you're looking for fun gifts to give, stirring sticks to have available at your parties or favors to send home with your guests flavored stirring sticks or spoons are a perfect option.
These are a fun and easy idea that can be customized to your liking.  Simply take some plastic spoons, dip in chocolate.  From there you can leave them just like that or sprinkle with broken up candies, chocolate pieces or even marshmallows.  You could also make fun chocolate designs on them to make them festive, like chocolate snowmen or white chocolate Christmas trees.  The options are endless and your imagination is your limit.
Make a variety of these and place them in cups at your drinking station; wrap them in a cellophane bag and tie them with a cute ribbon for favors, or package them up with your favorite  drink mix and place in a cute mug for a fun and quick gift.

Chocolate Dipped Stirring Spoons
Ingredients:


12 plastic spoons
3 Oz milk chocolate
Candy of your choice (I made hot chocolate and peppermint stirring spoons)
 -2 Tbsp peppermint pieces
 -1 1/2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips
 -1/2-3/4 Tbsp mini marshmallows

Directions:

Line a clean work surface with wax paper.

Chop the milk chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is smooth and completely melted.  Stir vigorously for 30 seconds.  Dip each spoon in the chocolate then place on the wax paper.

If topping with candy, sprinkle candy bits on immediately.  If decorating with a snowman or Christmas tree then allow the chocolate to dry before adding the design.

Allow the spoons to dry completely before storing or packaging.

Recipe source: A Lynsey Original

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Peppermint Saltine Toffee Bark

Last week I appeared on KARK 4 to present some edible and DIY Christmas gifts.  It seems like more and more people are turning to homemade gifts to give to friends, neighbors and co-workers.  There's just something that brings a smile to people's faces when they get a tin, box or basket filled with homemade cookies, candy and drink mixes.  Something so simple but that involves thought and love in the preparation of each item that it includes.
While I was on the set last week, one of the anchors said "what is it about peppermint?  You can add it to everything to give it a holiday taste, feel and look."  There is so much truth to that.  There's just something about that combination of red and white that instantly brings Christmas to mind at the first glance.
So when I started thinking about something easy that could fill those Christmas tins I instantly thought of saltine bark.  I made a batch of heath saltine bark a few weeks ago and it disappeared before I could get it out of my hands.  There's just something about the combination of saltines, brown sugar, butter and chocolate that when combined make an addicting candy.  It went so fast with the heath bits I decided to try it with a different topping, peppermint baking chips.
This was every bit as good as the original.  The bits of white chocolate and peppermint bits sprinkled over the semi-sweet chocolate no only scream Christmas but also taste amazing.  If you love the combination of chocolate and mint then this is the bark for you and all those chocolate and mint lovers.  This bark is so simple to customize with whatever flavor and topping you want; plain, toffee, peppermint, pecans, caramel, coconut, the list just goes on and on.  Whatever flavor combinations are your favorite, just be sure to make this bark and customize it to your tastes!


After I shared this with some of my co-workers, one of them said they were going to buy all the saltines in a 20 mile radius from their home.  Yes, they loved it that much, then they also said they were going to send me the bill for the bigger clothes they would have to buy after consuming all that bark.  So when you give this to your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers you may include a disclaimer!

Peppermint Saltine Toffee Bark
Ingredients:

40 Saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 Cup brown sugar
1 3/4 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 Cup Andes peppermint crunch baking chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

Like a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray then lay the crackers in a single layer over the foil.

Place butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has reached a boil, reduce to medium and allow to boil for 3 minutes.

Pour over the crackers and spread evenly, being sure each cracker is covered.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the caramel crackers. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then evenly spread the chocolate over the caramel crackers.  Sprinkle the peppermint chips over the chocolate. Allow to sit until the chocolate has hardened. Once the chocolate is hard, break the bark and store in an airtight container.

Recipe source: A Lynsey Original

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peppermint White Chocolate Cheesecake Dip

We're well into the Christmas season which probably means your tree is up, halls are decked and there are many presents under your tree.  Along with the decorations and shopping comes parties, gatherings and friends popping in.  A quick, no fuss, and yummy snack that can be thrown together in a snap is a must this time of year.
This dip is just that.  It can be prepared in under five minutes, no bake time needed and can be served with a variety of dippers.  Making this ideal for those friends that pop in or for a last minute get together at a friends house.  This is one of those dishes that looks impressive but doesn't take much effort.
During Thanksgiving I shared a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake dip that was amazing.  All the smooth, sweet goodness of a pumpkin cheesecake with none of the fuss.  It was the perfect recipe for fall and all those Thanksgiving gatherings.  And I can't tell you how many people I heard from regarding that dip; it was a hit and people were making it left and right.  So once we got through Thanksgiving and I had consumed my fare share of all things pumpkin I started transitioning into Christmas and thinking of all things Christmas.  For these recipes I started going through different goodies in my head that were associated with this time of year.  Once the thought process started the ideas began flowing.  
What are a few food items that come to mind when you think of Christmas?  For me it's chocolate, cranberries, white chocolate, hot cocoa, treats dusted in powdered sugar, peppermints and all things sweet.  Peppermints are a staple this time of year from tree d├ęcor, kid's art projects, to baking; those red and white minty candies are everywhere.  I stocked up on one of my favorite baking items for this time of year as soon as I saw them hit the shelves; these Andes baking chips are one of my weaknesses and one of my favorite things to cook with this time of year, so I new these were a must for this dip.  What pairs perfectly with mint?  White chocolate, of course! 
So it was a done deal; peppermint white chocolate cheesecake dip.  Yup.  That was happening.  This dip is to Christmas as my pumpkin cheesecake dip is to Thanksgiving.  It's a must.  You've got a smooth creamy white chocolate cream cheese that is beat until light and fluffy.  Fresh whipped cream is folded in to lend that airy texture that is so amazing.  Then a hefty does of Andes baking chips are folded throughout the cheesecake dip.  Bits of red from the mints shine through the frosty white cheesecake batter.  Then another sprinkle of the chips are tossed over the top along with bits of crushed peppermint; not only making a beautiful and simple garnish but adding a layer of texture and more minty flavor.  This dip will be a hit your Christmas parties or your festivities on Christmas day.  You may want to make a double batch to ensure that everyone actually gets to taste some, because I promise you won't be able to top with just one taste. 

Serve this with pretzels, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, chocolate covered graham crackers or chocolate dipped pretzel sticks.  Or just scoop it up with a spoon and enjoy pure bliss! 


Peppermint White Chocolate Cheesecake Dip

Ingredients:

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 Cup white chocolate, finely chopped and melted
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1/4 Tsp peppermint extract
1/4 Cup heaving whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Cup Andes peppermint baking chips
Crush peppermints, for garnish-optional

Directions:

Place whipping cream in a medium bowl and beat on high until it begins to thicken.  Once the cream has thickened, add the granulated sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Finely chop white chocolate and place in a microwave safe dish and heat in 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is smooth and melted.

Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat on high until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine.  Once the powdered sugar in incorporated increase spead and beat on high for 1 minute.  Add the peppermint extract and stir incorporate.

Add the whipped cream and gently fold in.  Add the baking chips and stir to combine.  Place in a serving dish, top with additional chips and crushed peppermint.  Serve with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, chocolate covered pretzels, or chocolate covered graham crackers.

Recipe source: A Lynsey Original

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chewy White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies


Tis the season to bake.  I believe it's safe to say that this time of year is the Olympics of baking.  From about mid November through the new year people's mixers, ovens, and stoves are getting the workout of their life.  From making dressing, baking that turkey and ham, all the sides and then the goodies; it's definitely a rat race.  But I love every minute of it! 


There are several types of cookies and flavor combinations that come to mind when I think of the holidays.  Peppermint and chocolate,  Mexican wedding cookies, gingersnaps, ginberbread, eggnog and so many others.  Another classic and ever so popular combination is cranberry and white chocolate; such a dynamic duo in my opinion.   


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chocolate Dipped White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Andes mints have been one of my favorite candies for as long as I can remember.  My aunt, who lived right down the street from me, had a crystal bowl sitting on a table right when walked through the front door and it was always filled with those delicious little mints.  Every time I went to her house I would head straight for that bowl and stock up on my beloved Andes mints.
As the years have progressed my love for that chocolate mint combination has only grown stronger.  Not only do my taste buds go wild but I'm instantly transported back to my childhood with each bite of that delicious combination.   
Not only do I love chocolate and mint, that combination is synonymous with Christmas time.  Smooth, delicious chocolate studded with flecks of red and white peppermint pieces.  Since I have a weakness for these flavors, I decided it was only necessary that I make cookies packed full of white chocolate chips and pieces of creamy, crunchy Andes peppermint pieces.
 
 And I honestly couldn't be more happy with how they turned out!  But, I'm even more excited to share these with you.  These cookies are soft and chewy and packed full of smooth white chocolate and bits of peppermint pieces.  Those Andes mint pieces are my weakness; I could literally eat them by the handfuls...you probably can too so I would strongly suggest buying an extra bag when you're gathering your ingredients to make these cookies!

Rich, Chocolaty Hot Cocoa Mix

Growing up I remember coming in from the cold winter weather all bundled up in my big coat, gloves, scarf and toboggan (Think Ralfie from the Christmas Story) and my cheeks were redder than red and colder than cold.  Once I shed all the winter garb my mom and dad had a fire going and a big ol' cup of hot chocolate waiting on me to help me thaw out and warm up.  Rich, warm hot chocolate topped with gobs of marshmallows, what better way to warm up?
To this day hot chocolate still holds a special place in my heart, and stomach and I still can't think of a better way to warm up than silky, chocolate deliciousness.  I always have a box, or two, of hot chocolate mix on hand for those days when hot chocolate is necessary.  Oh, and I have to have the kind with the mini marshmallows.  Because, after all, what's hot chocolate without marshmallows?   

Monday, December 9, 2013

Peppermint Sugar Scrub


How are you doing on your Christmas shopping?  Are you typically the person who starts in January and is finished by mid-July?  Or are you the type of person that every year has the best of intentions to start early but end up cramming everything in the week or two before Christmas?
I made the mistake of being in the second category of people a few years ago and swore to myself that I would never put myself through that stress again.  So far, I 've been able to keep that promise I made with myself.  I typically have most of my shopping done by mid-November, with the possibility of having to get a few things here and there between then and December 25th. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Heath Saltine Cracker Toffee Bark

Saltine bark, cracker toffee bark, Christmas Crack; this is a recipe that is known by many names.  The one thing you need to know, however, is that you need this in your life.  This is one of those recipes that surfaces every Christmas season and takes over the web.  Pretty much everywhere you turn or look you see some variation or another of this amazing bark. 
I have been making and enjoying this bark for years now.  And let me say, the name Christmas Crack, as bad as it sounds is perfectly fitting because of just how addicting this stuff is.  If you judge solely by looks or the list of ingredients you really wouldn't be wowed.  But with one, single bite of this stuff you'd definitely be addicted. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Minted-{review}

Can you believe we're T-minus 20 days to Christmas? Wow!

Christmas tree made from mutlicolored tape
Image courtesy of Julep
So are you in the Christmas spirit yet?  Are your trees up, halls decked and presents wrapped?  Or are you still looking for decoration inspiration and fun activities and projects to get you in the Christmas spirit?  If you're looking for fun, yet simple ideas that can be done on a budget and involve the entire family head on over to Julep, to get some inspiration.  Julep is a DIY/craft blog that is associated with Minted.comMinted is a one-stop-shop for all your paper good needs.  They specialize in high quality paper products ranging from party supplies, invitations, calendars, greeting cards and much more.  They've now expanded their brand by not only making customized paper goods, but sharing how you can make fun, creative and personalized goods right in your own home!          

DIY Cardboard Christmas Tree
Image courtesy of Julep
Having a party?  Make these fun, giant paper party balls.  They are a fun and simple way to add a festive pop of color to any room and all events. 
DIY Paper Party Balls
Image courtesy of  Julep
If you're anything like me, I'm always searching for creative and easy activities to do with my family during the holiday season and Julep is filled with a variety of ideas that's ideal for all ages.  The Julep blog is loaded with tons of creative ideas that range from homemade decorations to hang on your tree, to place cards, to fun crafts to do with your whole family. 
 
 How fun are these scratch off advent cards?  Customized and filled with activities for you and your family to enjoy throughout the entire Christmas season.  This is a craft that you can get your entire family involved in; get them to throw out their favorite Christmas movie, tradition, activity and so on and put them on the different cards.  Each day, scratch off a new card and find out what activity your family will enjoy.      
Scratch Off Advent Cards
Image courtesy of Julep

What about Christmas cards?  Have you given any thought to those cards that instantly brighten your day and everybody else's day that receives them?  If you're still looking for ideas and inspiration then head on over Minted, they have tons of card styles available and would be more than happy to fulfill your Christmas card order this year.  You can choose from a variety of predesigned cards; available with or without photos, but if you have a customized design in mind they would be more than happy to bring that design to life with a card that customized by you, for you.  Whatever you're trying to accomplish this holiday season, allow Minted and Julep help bring that dream to reality!

Full disclaimer- I was contacted by Minted.com to do a review of their site as well as help introduce their new blog in exchange for a credit to Minted.com.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own.    

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer

So have you seen the International Delight commercial where the lady is standing at the checkout stand counting the bottles of pumpkin spice creamer as they pass her by?  The checker is steadily checking and the husband is continuously pulling bottle after bottle of creamer out of the buggy.  Do you know this commercial?  Do you feel this ladies pain?  Oh the things we do to stock up on the short-lived seasonal goodies.  But the grief doesn't stop there.  What about when you go to the store to get that seasonal creamer you're craving out their sold out?  You then drive to the next store only to find out they're sold out too and then the devistation begins.   
I've been there, have you?  And I believe we're all in total agreement when I say, it's not a good place to be.  Well, I have the answer for all of your predicaments.  Homemade creamer.  Yup, that's right, homemade creamer.  And believe it or not, it's incredibly simple.

For the past few years I've been promising one of my friends that I would develop a recipe for her weakness, pumpkin creamer.  She anticipates this time of year for the rich, thick pumpkin goodness to pour in her coffee.  Well, I have finally fulfilled my promise with this pumpkin creamer.  And I must say, she was beyond thrilled when I showed up with a sample batch for her to test.  Her only request after her initial test, to add a little more cinnamon.  More cinnamon, well that was an easy fix.

Monday, November 25, 2013

SRC: Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are one of those things that at home at practically every event.  Potlucks, family reunions, parties, showers, and the list goes on and on.  You would be pretty hard pressed to walk into any type of event that offers food and not find at least one platter of deviled eggs. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chocolate Turkeys

Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without turkey.  I mean, this bird is a vital part of the tradition.  Not only is it the center of all kid's art projects during this time of year but it's also the show stopping center piece on everyone's table. 
So needless to say these two legged, feathered friends are the mascot for this time of year.  But that juicy, white meat doesn't have to be the only type of turkey you enjoy this year.  What about turkey on your dessert table?  In honor of the glorious bird, I decided to make these candy corn feathered friends that have been seen floating all over the internet.
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