Friday, January 29, 2016

Cinnamon Coffee Cake with Streusel

There's something about the smell of cinnamon permeating the entire house that makes you feel all warm and cozy.  That feeling is welcomed at all times, but even more so during these cooler months.

There are several recipes that come to mind when I think of cinnamon, but one that truly jumps out at me is coffee cake.  And a coffee cake isn't a coffee cake without streusel topping.  Can I get an amen?

Amen!

If we get right down to it, the coffee cake is just a plater for the streusel.  Because, in my humble opinion, the streusel is the best part of a coffee cake.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Brown Sugar Bourbon Apple Cider

While I love my fun in the sun, splashing in the pool, and toes in the sand, there is part of me that longs for the weather to turn cooler.  Soups and stews and everything comforting are some of my favorite things that come along with cooler weather.  But apples and cinnamon might possibly be my most favorite things that come along during this time of year.

Apples are readily available year around, but this time of year is apple season.  This is when apples are truly the best and this is also the time of year that those bottles of apple cider start lining the shelves of the market.  Oh, and do you know I discovered a new cider this year?!?!

Honeycrisp cider.

A cider made from my all time FAVORITE apples.  Those deliciously tart and sweet apples.  YUM.  I could barely contain my excitement when I saw it in the store.  It's like the heavens opened up, the angels were singing and the lights got a little brighter.  Okay...maybe that didn't really happen, but my excitement meter was through the roof!  And it's just as delicious as the apples themselves.

Monday, January 25, 2016

SRC: Hot Toddy

It's the last Monday of the month, so we all know what that means.  Right?  It's reveal day for The Secret Recipe Club.  This month I had Wendy's blog, A Day in the Life on the Farm.  Wendy is a retired police officer who now lives on a farm with her husband, also a retired police officer.  Wendy keeps her plate full with gardens, chickens, dogs, hosting exchange students, scuba diving, painting, quilting and of course cooking.  Whew, I'm tired just typing all that!

Wendy has a ton of recipes on her blog that sound amazing.  Bacon waffles (can you say YUM!), rhubarb berry coffee cakepull apart pizza breadkey lime coconut bundt cake, and Tagalong bundt cake are just a few of the very drool-worthy recipes that caught my eye while perusing her blog. I was torn by so many recipes, but ultimately ended up deciding on a beverage.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

French Hot Chocolate

I think it's safe to say that we've all heated up a mug milk, stirred in that packet of cocoa mix complete with mini marshmallows.  Right?  It was a staple in my house when I was growing up, and even now.  My only complaint was it wasn't chocolaty enough just using one packet.  And my mom felt my pain, so she would ALWAYS double the cocoa to milk ratio to add a little more chocolate flavor.

I sat by the fire and sipped on that warm mug of cocoa intently.  It was the best thing after a busy day playing in the snow...well, mostly ice in our neck of the woods!

While that cup of hot chocolate, with extra marshmallows of course, was always a welcomed treat on those cold days my mom and I both realized that more chocolate flavor was essential.  And I think it's safe to say that I've finally got a recipe that checks off all the requirements for a rich, silky mug of cocoa.

Chocolate chaud.  OR French hot chocolate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Apple Cider Whiskey Sour

Whiskey sours are a classic cocktail that have been around since long before my time.  People from all over have long enjoyed sipping on this classic cocktail.   If you're a whiskey person, odds are you've had at least one or two of these cocktails.

Although I could I could sip on the original version of this cocktail throughout the year, it's always a little fun to dream of seasonal variations.  Since we're in the dead of winter; apples and cinnamon are some of the first things that come to mind.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

{Baked} Hot Chocolate French Toast

I am beyond excited to be sharing this recipe with you today!

This is the first breakfast recipe I've shared not only this year, but in a long time.  And I have to say, this recipe is super indulgent and so worth the wait!

I have four words for you.  Hot. Chocolate. French. Toast.

That is right my friends, that infamous chocolate drink we sip on to warm us up has gotten paired with a beloved breakfast treat.  This is like hot chocolate and french toast got together and had a love child.  And oh, what a delicious thing it is.

Thick pieces of bread get torn apart, tossed in a pan then get doused in a chocolate, egg and milk batter.  It soaks all that goodness up, gets popped in the oven and when it's almost finished baking marshmallows get sprinkled over the top until the baking process is finished.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Roasted Tomoato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

I am one of those people who had to develop a taste for tomato soup.  Give me salsa, ketchup, pasta sauce, and even sliced tomatoes and I'm all good.  But, place a glass of tomato juice or a bowl of tomato soup in front of me.  Um, NO thank you.

It's not for lack of trying, I promise.  It was never one of those things that I longed for.  I'd heard and even seen the infamous grilled cheese and tomato soup duo but until about 8 years ago I had never tried it and never had the desire to try it.

I wanted to like tomato soup.  I wanted to have that classic duo, but it just wasn't happening.  Then one (very cold) day while I was at work, my boss and I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato bisque soup from a local restaurant.  I thought, if any soup was going to convert me it would be from this restaurant.  And you know what, it did!  I had finally found a tomato soup that I loved.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mushroom and Chicken Tart

The holiday breaks are over, school and sports are gearing back up and there's really no true break until spring break.  So, quick and easy meals are needed now more than ever.  While it's so easy to drive thru somewhere or call in take-out, let's face it, it's not the answer for every night of the busy week.

Take-out gets expensive.  Sometimes we don't choose the healthiest of options when we pull up to the drive-thru window.  We do what we've gotta do though.

So during the busy weeks, I love when I come across a meal that is easy, requires very little prep and utilizes simple ingredients.  That's just what we've got here with this mushroom and chicken tart.  A few simple ingredients and a little less than an hour is all you need for this deliciously satisfying meal.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Italian Lentil Soup

It's taken a while, but the winter weather has finally shown it's face here in Arkansas.  No, no snow flurries or frost just yet but we've finally experienced some chilly weather and dipped below freezing a time or two.  And what does all that mean?

Well, it's FINALLY time for soups and stews!  Cozy foods.  The foods I long for this time of year!

This past Sunday was prime soup weather.  I mean, we woke up to the high for the day and the temperature steadily dropped all day one.  Can you say cold?

So what better time to break out the crock-pot and whip up a big batch of soup?

Oh, and our church was also hosting an event and soups were on the menu.  So it just happened to be an all around perfect day for soup.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Year in Review: My Favorites

I truly enjoyed perusing the recipes I shared with you last year and seeing which ones were most popular among you, the readers!  I'd have to say, just like in 2014, our tastes were along the same lines last year; beverages and sweets seemed to top my list too!  However, there were some of my favorites that didn't quite make the cut so I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my favorites with you all!

Without further adieu, here are some of my faves from 2015.

One of my favorite desserts is the cannoli.  It's a simple, crunchy pastry shell that is filled with a delicious pastry cream and sometimes the ends are dipped in chocolate chips or melted chocolate.  There aren't just a ton of places that carry this dessert, so I don't get to enjoy it all that much...until now.  This cannoli cheeseball takes that amazing pastry cream filling, simplifies it (no heat or pans required), it gets rolled in a ball then then coated in chocolate chips.  I could face dive in this stuff, but I didn't, I used the next best thing, graham crackers to dunk into that amazing dip!

I have a weakness for all sweets, but brownies take that weakness to a whole new level.  I've always been a sucker for anything chocolate, but when it's a brownie...well, all bets are off.  Give me a pan of brownies straight from the oven and a fork and I'll be content in my own little corner for about an hour.  I go weak in the knees for those chocolaty, fudgy, stick-to-your-teeth brownies.  In 2015 I found my new "go to" recipe; these Thick and Chewy {Better than} Bakery Style Brownies.

I love those meals that assemble in a matter of minutes and even better when the crockpot does all the work.  This slow cooker honey mustard chicken checks those boxes and then some.  It requires a few simple ingredients, comes together in minutes and yields a perfectly moist and flavorful meal that the whole family loves.

A morning cup of coffee is an absolute must for me.  I very rarely go to coffee shops for my morning cup of joe, but there are days where I'd like something a little more indulgent than my basic coffee.  On those mornings I typically turn to this salted caramel brulee coffee.  This, my friends,is the way to start your day!

I haven't met anyone that doesn't love a big ol' slice of carrot cake slathered in cream cheese frosting.  What's not to love; moist cake packed full of warm spices and all wrapped with tangy, cream cheese frosting?  But, I was beyond giddy with this creation.  A flaky, carrot cake crust with all those warm spices, baked then filled with a tangy, smooth cream cheese filling.  A delicious twist on that infamous favorite. Carrot cake cream cheese tart

I've never been a huge fan of pimento cheese, until now.  I'm not sure what it is that makes this pimento cheese so different and soooo good, but it's converted me.  Take all those pimento cheese skeptics out there and feed them a spoonful of Capitol Bar and Grill's pimento cheese.  Terrific on a spoon, cracker or sandwiched between to fluffy pieces of bread.

Along with brownies, cookies are one of my major weaknesses.  So what happens if those worlds collide?  Well, only one of the richest, fudgiest, most decadent cookies ever.  This rocky road flourless cookie is packed full of gooey marshmallows, crunchy almonds, and intense chocolate flavor.  This cookie is a life changer.  Seriously.

Everyone needs a "go to" biscuit recipe.  One that rises perfectly, yields a slightly crunchy outside and a soft, fluffy inside.  I found that recipe this year; these easy biscuits are all of those things and so simple to make.  Welcome those weekends breakfasts with these delicious biscuits.

Who doesn't love sneaking a scoop of cookie dough straight from the bowl?  I know I am very guilty of that and I honestly have no shame.  But for all of you out there who need a peace of mind when eating cookie dough I have just the thing for you.  These salted chocolate chip cookie dough bars provide you with an egg free cookie dough that is spread over a delicious sugar cookie crust and topped off with a rich, chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of salt.  I'm thinking I need to make these again so very soon.

It's hard to beat a good cobb salad.  But this cobb salad has the addition of juicy, bbq chicken along side fiesta corn and buttery avocado.  This is one of our favorite salads.  BBQ Chicken Cobb Salad

The worlds of sweet and salty collide in these caramel popcorn treats.  Buttery, slightly salty popcorn coated in buttery, marshmallowy caramel.  Just like mixing your popcorn and sweets at the movies...only so much better.Caramel popcorn crispy treats

This dip, my friends, is like summer in a skillet.  Fresh corn grilled enough to give a slight char then mixed with poblanos, sour cream, lime and topped with chives.  It's colorful, flavorful and so addicting.  Grilled corn and chile dip

I can always judge just how good a meal is by the way the hubs responds.  And well, this roast was a homerun!  It was love at first bite for him and he raved about it for days.  Again, it's another one of those recipes that requires a few ingredients and the slow cooker does all the work.  Say hello to this Mississippi Roast.

The cold weather has been a little slow on showing up this winter, but on those few cold days we've had there's been no better way to warm up than with a mug of this salted caramel hot cocoa.  This mix makes a lot, making it idea for gifts as well as to keep some on hand when you need a little mug of cozy goodness.

Biscotti is one of my guilty pleasures for breakfast.  I resist making it on a regular basis because I could honestly eat my weight in the stuff.  But when the holidays rolled around I decided I could give into temptation and whip up a batch.  The flavor profile was all the doings of my little man; a mint and chocolate fanatic.  I'm not sure who love the stuff more!  So when you need a special treat or need to indulge whip up a batch of this chocolate peppermint biscotti.

Well friends, that's a wrap!  I tried to keep my list to 10, but I just kept coming across recipes that took me back to that first bite and I just had to relive the magic one more time!  The list could go on forever, but I decided it was in everyone's interest to give myself a 15 recipe limit.

2015 was a fun year and I enjoyed taking another look at everything that had taken place over the past year on LL's.  I can't wait to see what delectable treats come along in 2016!

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 In Review: Your Favorites

I cannot believe we have entered into another year.  It seems like yesterday I was sitting down to review your favorites recipes from 2014.  2015 has come and gone and it's been a year to remember, to say the least.

It was a year filled with many memories, some bad but most of them truly amazing that I will hold close to my heart forever.  I had tons of fun in the kitchen trying out several different new recipes, catering 2 large (for me) events, and watching my little guy's love for cooking grow even more.  Those were just a few cooking related accomplishments that took place last year.

A lot took place out of the kitchen too.  We started our first year of homeschool, which is going really well!  Since we're in the homeschool world we've been able to tag along with the hubs and spend time with him while he's been away on business.  We also spent an amazing week at the beach complete with crystal blue waters and the most amazing weather you could possibly ask for.  To wrap up the year we headed south to Orlando.  That's right, my little guy spent his last week as a 5 year old in the land of magic.  We hit up Sea World, Universal Studios, Island of Adventure, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs.  It was 8 days packed full of fun, magic and even snow!  It was pure joy seeing his eyes get so big and fill with so much awe and joy.  It truly was a magical experience for all of us!

2015 was an amazing year, to say the least.  I can't wait to see what's in store for 2016.

I want to thank you all for your support, encouragement and love throughout the year.  I am I so excited this year.  But, before we get started let's take a look back at some of your favorite recipes of 2015.

In January there were several recipes that got rave reviews, but the one that topped the list was Crack Sandwiches (A.K.A. Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders).  These little sandwiches are so easy to assemble and can be made ahead of time, making them ideal for snacks and parties as well as weeknight meals.  These are a crowd favorite for all ages.

I admit, there are some days when I look for an acceptable excuse to have a cookie for breakfast!  And this Orange and Dark Chocolate Biscotti gives you the perfect reason to dunk a cookie in your morning cup of coffee.  This biscotti is flavored with orange zest and juice with chunks of chocolate throughout.  It's made even more indulgent by taking a little dip in a pool of melted dark chocolate.  Yes, you're welcome!

Another one of your favorites were these cherry cream cheese puff pastry bites.  These little jewels are another one of those simple, yet impressive recipes.  A few ingredients, about 30 minutes and you've got a plate full of these beautiful, flaky puff pastries filled with bright red cherries and a drizzle of white chocolate.  These little bites are perfect for an indulgent breakfast, brunch, and even dessert!

I can't tell you how many gatherings I took this white bean and basil hummus to, but I can tell you that every time this dip popped up I was giving out the recipe from the time people took the first bite until after the bowl was scraped clean.  This is a terrific spin on the classic hummus and it's filled with bright and earthy flavors that scream spring and summer.

You guys are truly people after my own heart.  I'm a sucker for foods that bring a since of nostalgia, and I can't think of a better one than this blended root beer float.  This float is simple, it's a slight twist on the original floats we all know and love, but it changes it up just  a touch.  Blending the ice cream and root beer combines that creamy fizzy element we all know and love, giving us the perfect amount of each in every sip.

You know, we can't choose when a craving hits but sometimes we have a hard time quenching that craving when it's say....a cup of hot chocolate in the middle of a 90 degree summer day.  But, when it's a mug of frozen hot chocolate on a hot, summer day with a dollop of Nutella in the mix I'm all for that.  You all LOVED this frozen Nutella hot chocolate, making it one of the most popular recipe on the blog not only in June but the whole year!

This past summer was a doozy.  Each day felt like it was hotter than the one before and we were all looking ways to stay cool.  A cold drink is always in order and this homemade version of a soda fountain favorite was a delicious and fun way to beat the heat.  I can't tell you how many times I made these Homemade orange Italian cream sodas, they were a heavily requested treat over the warmer months.

It seems like sweets and beverages were the theme for the year.  Here's yet another beverage recipe that topped the ranks in 2015.  The simple, yet beautiful Gin, Lemon and Mint Martini.

Italian sub, Italian salad, I'm a sucker for anything and everything with salami, olives, pepperoni, and salty pickles.  These Italian skewers were no exception.  They are a cinch to make, even easier to eat and a true crowd pleaser.

Brownies are a favorite of practically everyone.  What's not to love; chocolate, fudgy, stick-to-your-teeth goodness.  But when you add chocolate stout to the mix it takes that beloved dessert to a whole new level.

We all know and love the goodness that is pepper jelly atop tangy cream cheese.  It's one of those simplistic recipes that is a crowd favorite.  But when you add tart cranberry sauce to the mix it takes this beloved favorite to a whole new level.  Pair with spicy pepper jelly and you've got a sweet, spicy, and tangy dip that is so addicting, but it also makes a great spread on ham and turkey sandwiches!

I think it's safe to say that anyone who visited a Starbucks during the winter months spotted those beautiful white frosted bars speckled with bright cranberries and drizzled with chocolate.  Those Cranberry Bliss Bars were one of their most popular items until they switched bakery items a while back.  But have no fear, all you bliss bar lovers, you can make those addicting, chewy bars in the comfort of your own home whenever that craving hits.  This recipe is a dead-ringer for those bars that previously graced those pastry cases in the coffee house.

It's been a fun walk down memory lane, remembering and drooling over all of these amazing recipes I had the opportunity to make last year.  I look forward to sharing my favorites of 2015 with you soon and then moving on to some tasty treats I have in store for you for 2016.  Can't wait to see what tops the reader's choice next this year!
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