Monday, December 22, 2014

Buckeye Brownie Cookies

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Every year my girlfriends and I have a Christmas cookie exchange party. It's more an excuse for all of us to get together to catch up and drink some wine (we all have busy lives these days!), but throwing some cookies in the mix doesn't hurt. This year I had trouble narrowing down what I was going to make, so I turned to Pinterest like I normally do. These Buckeye Brownie Cookies were staring me down as soon as I turned on the computer, so they were my immediate pick.
And thank goodness I picked them. I devoured these. I ate two before they even had a chance to cool off. Whoops! They're a thick fudgy brownie cookie with a peanut butter filling and chocolate frosting on top. What's not to like? They're like a sophisticated version of a Reece's cup. Your teeth will sink into them and your eyes will roll in the back of your head from pure bliss. I know you know the feeling. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Makes 24 cookies
  • 1 (18-19 oz.) box fudge brownie mix
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup chocolate frosting, homemade or store-bought
  • Sea salt, for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine brownie mix with fudge packet, butter, cream cheese and egg. Stir until dough comes together, it will be very thick and sticky. I used my hands.

Form rounded tablespoons sized portions of dough into balls, placing on baking sheet about 2 inches apart, making an indentation with your thumb in the center of each.

In another bowl stir together peanut butter and powdered sugar. Form peanut butter into teaspoon sized balls and press into the indentations in the brownie cookies.

Press peanut butter down slightly because the peanut butter won't spread and you don't want the cookies to be too tall.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are set.

Transfer to wire rack to cool. When cooled top each cookie with about a tablespoon of chocolate frosting. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Cookies and Cups

Friday, December 19, 2014

Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

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I don't know about you all, but I still have a ton of Halloween candy floating around my house. At first I was ecstatic that Bradley was going trick-or-treating because that meant I was left to eat all of his candy, but I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach. There's so much of it! And there's no way I'm going to let it all go to waste.
I used those mini M&M packets from his jack-o-lantern bucket for these cookies. Since he can't eat them (yet), I don't feel guilty for stealing his candy. Next year might be a different story, but for now I'm doing it while I can get away with it. These are basically the softest and chewiest chocolate chip cookies you'll ever have with M&Ms in the place of chips. To. Die. For. You can even use holiday colored chocolates to make them more festive. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups M&Ms
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in M&Ms. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from Nestle Toll House

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5-Minute Microwavable Fudge

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I know not everyone bakes, and I get it. There's such a science to it and everything needs to be so exact. For me baking is a stress reliever, but for some people baking is what causes them stress. And I don't blame you. It's tough! But with all the holiday parties coming up, this fudge will make anyone believe you spent hours in the kitchen baking up a storm. When all you really need is 5 minutes and a microwave.
As soon as Chris showed me a video he found for the "easiest homemade fudge ever," I was in the kitchen. It really did only take me 5 minutes to prepare. The hardest part was waiting for the chocolate to set in the refrigerator. Just make sure it has time to sit at room temperature a little before serving...otherwise it might be a little gummy. But this was some of the creamiest fudge I have ever had. No one will believe this was "baked" in a microwave. Be the star of your holiday parties and make this fudge. I promise everyone will devour it! Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Line an 8x8" pan (for thicker fudge) or a 9x9" pan (for thinner fudge) with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large glass microwave safe bowl, add chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and butter. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir until everything is melted and combined. 

Add vanilla and salt to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. 

Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

Use aluminum foil to pick up fudge from pan. Flip over onto a plate or cutting board. Peel aluminum foil off of fudge and discard. Cut fudge into small pieces and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container and use wax paper to separate layers.

Source: My husband

Monday, December 15, 2014

Peppermint Chocolate Smoothie

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As a part of Williams-Sonoma's Smoothie Week, I was asked to create a fun and unique beverage for their "Not Your Typical Smoothie" campaign. Peppermint chocolate combinations are all the rage during the holiday season, so that's what I decided to go with. I see that combo everywhere...all the local coffee chains, in the candy aisle of my grocery store and now? In a smoothie.
Who can mess up a smoothie? You just toss a bunch of stuff into a blender, add some ice to make it thick and frothy and delicious, then you're done. Who can mess it up? Me, that's who. First of all, too much mint is a bad thing. A really, really bad thing. I must have forgotten how powerful mint leaves are because my first drink was total mint overload. So gross. But after scaling that back a little, I was on the right track. I also ended up needing more chocolate, because even though the mint flavor was tamed down, the chocolate needed to be spruced up big time so that it was the star of the smoothie (plus, you can't go wrong with lots of chocolate)! One thing I've learned is that trial and error are okay when in the kitchen :)
This smoothie is perfect for the holidays. It's thick, frothy, chocolaty and has just a hint of mint. My favorite part is the candy cane rim since it compliments the smoothie and adds some texture. Kids will love this drink just as much as adults. The VitaMix blender works perfectly for this recipe, so if you don't have one, it's not too late to ask for one this holiday season :) Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 small mint leaves
  • 4 tbsp. dry hot chocolate mix
  • 2-3 cups ice
  • 1 candy cane
  • 1 tbsp. agave syrup
  • Mint leaves, for serving (optional)

In a small saucepan, add the milk and mint leaves over medium heat. Heat until just about to boil then remove from the heat. Add the hot chocolate mix and stir to combine. Set aside for 20-30 minutes or until cooled.

In a blender, add cooled hot chocolate mixture. Add 2 cups of ice and blend. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup ice, or until it reaches the consistency you prefer.

Put the candy cane in a ziplock bag. Crush with a rolling pin.

Put agave nectar on a small place. Put crushed candy cane on a separate plate. Take two coffee mugs and put the rim on the place with the agave and swirl until fully coated. Then dip into the candy cane pieces until they stick to the rim and it is fully coated.

Pour the peppermint chocolate mixture into the prepared coffee mugs. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired.

Source: SK Original

Friday, December 12, 2014

Orzo with Roasted Garlic Tomatoes and Parmesan

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I have a new favorite side dish you guys! It has so much flavor and is ready in no time at all. It would be perfect for the holidays! Isn't it so festive with the red and green? I love a dish that is equally as pretty as it is delicious. 
This dish is absolutely bursting with flavor! I love roasted tomatoes (I use them in sauce all the time), but roasting them with garlic just makes them taste even better. The tomatoes alone make the orzo taste amazing, but the mild flavor of scallions plus the Parmesan make this dish creamy and so decadent. It comes together in 20 minutes and will have everyone's mouth watering. I love love love this easy dish and I'm positive you will, too. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (10.5 oz.) package grape tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a pie plate, mix the grape tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Put in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat the broth in a saucepan. Once boiling, add the orzo and cook according to package directions.

Once done, add the cooked orzo, tomato mixture, scallions and Parmesan in a large bowl and toss to combine. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Source: SK Original