I put my family in a diabetic coma over the holidays.

Do you find yourself in charge of making something in particular for the holidays? I’m usually in charge of desserts.

No complaints here.

Since none of these calories count, here was the opportunity to really go overboard.

My mother-in-law asked if I could make something for their annual Christmas lunch where all of us get together. Does an alligator pee in a swamp? Of course.

But, what to make? The family LOVES cheesecake, and I knew there would be over 30 people at the gathering and one cheesecake won’t cut it. So what do you do in a situation like this?

Make two cheesecakes.

And a cake.

And two types of cookies.

And another cake.

What about my side of the family for a Christmas gathering? Several people on my side are weirdly picky about what they like, so something that will easily make everyone happy is the way to do it.


So, here’s the Christmas dessert lineup to stuff our families like Hansel and Gretel:


Chocolate Oreo Cheesecake:  rich, chocolate cheesecake with an Oreo crust and Oreo chunks packed throughout the cheesecake, topped with chocolate ganache, fresh whipped cream and a mini Oreo cookie.


Tiramisu Cheesecake:  coffee cheesecake with a Nilla wafer crust, ladyfingers dipped in coffee and kahlua, and a mascarpone-cream topping with sprinkled cocoa.

Boston Creme Pie:  two layers of fluffy vanilla cake filled with vanilla pastry cream, covered with chocolate ganache.

Red Velvet Cake:  two layers of moist red velvet cake smothered with cream cheese icing.

Chocolate Chip Cookies:  thick, soft, and chewy chocolate chip cookies. No further explanation needed.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies:  two Ritz crackers sandwiching a thick layer of creamy peanut butter, dipped in white chocolate.

We had to make sure we saved chocolate chip cookies for Santa. He’s so needy.

The only promise I can make right now is to avoid eating any more desserts…for a couple days. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Gingerbread Rice Krispie Treats

While strolling through Wal Mart, the holiday baking section always catches my eye this time of year.  Well, I say that I was strolling, but it was more along the lines of a race-walking situation where I was headed for the finish line (being checkout).  I slowed down for a few seconds, then came to a screeching halt.  There they were…practically taunting me from the shelf…Gingerbread Marshmallows.  Was this an oasis in the dessert of shopping craziness in front of my eyes?  Clearly it was, so two bags were quickly thrown into my cart.  On I went, bolting for the self checkout aisle.  I couldn’t help but to fantasize about how satisfying some Gingerbread Rice Krispie Treats would be going into my belly.

With previous Rice Krispie Treat recipes, I’ve noticed that they’ve seemed a little dry.  Since I’m a huge fan of delicious desserts with moisture, I usually add a little more butter than what the recipe calls for…and in this case, some added cinnamon.  You’re welcome.

gingerbread rice krispie treats 1

Gingerbread Rice Krispie Treats Recipe

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 (8 oz.) bag gingerbread marshmallows

5 cups Rice Krispies cereal

extra butter for dish

Generously rub extra butter in bottom an dup sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish, set aside.  In a large pot, melt butter on low/medium heat on stove.  Continue to cook butter, stirring constantly, until slightly browned.  Stir in cinnamon and continue to cook for another minute.  Add marshmallows, reduce heat and stir constantly until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.  Remove front heat, immediately add cereal and stir well until mixture is completely coated.  Spoon mixture into buttered dish.  Use extra butter for rubbing on hands, then press mixture evenly into dish.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Have you ever found yourself staring at the dessert menu in a restaurant, unable to decide on just one item?  It’s a true crisis at times, especially when you want to order everything you see, but clearly your waistline doesn’t agree.  Your best option is to go out to eat with several people who have a weak spot for desserts so you can all share one, or everyone get something different to sample each one.  Numerous times I’ve been out with people who claim they don’t want dessert, but as soon as it hits the table, they’ve eaten more than I have.  How does that happen?


I was caught in this exact situation while looking over the dessert menu at a small restaurant in St. Petersburg that brings their desserts in from a bakery.  We ended up each getting our own dessert, rotating them around the table like it was a professional taste-testing event, nodding and making noises with each bite.  I couldn’t believe the amazing flavor of white chocolate with swirled raspberry filling throughout this cheesecake and an Oreo cookie crust.  We even took chunks out of my friend’s husband’s carrot cake that was so nicely packed in a to-go box.  Acting as damage control, we were preventing him from feeling guilty over eating such a large piece of cake.  Now that’s heartfelt consideration.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake (modified from allrecipes.com)

20 Oreo cookies

3 tablespoons butter, melted

10 oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

2 cups white chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

frozen whipped topping, thawed (optional for serving)

In a food chopper or food processor, chop cookies into fine crumbs.  In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  In a small saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, heat cream just until boiling, pour over chocolate chips in a small bowl, stirring together until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Let cool.  In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar  with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate.

Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce and whipped topping.  Store in refrigerator.

Edible Gifts

The holidays are here, which means the gift buying madness has been in full swing for almost a month.  Scrambling at the last minute to find some presents for that relative you really just don’t know what to get for them so you put it off until Christmas Eve, then spend the whole day freaking out what to get…and end up grabbing something out of frustration to wrap up for them.  We’ve all been there.  In fact, that’s how a lot of people do it!  Giving people homemade food as presents kills so many birds with one stone.  First of all, food gift baskets look amazing.  Second, if the food items are homemade, they’ll be impressed and feel special that you made it for them.  Third, even if it’s not homemade, you still took the time and effort to personally put together a basket just for them.  And last but not least…food disappears.  Which means that you don’t have to worry about the item collecting dust just in case they don’t like their gift just as much as you thought they would.  So many problems solved.  🙂


In the above picture, the little snowman is a small plastic container I picked up at the Dollar Store, and filled it with green and red M&M’s.  Kids usually seem  happy to receive chocolate, so this is a great little individual gift that you can put all kinds of different candies in.  The lemon poppyseed loaf was actually given to us by my husband’s aunt and uncle.  The loaf pan is ceramic, and super cute!  Perfect amount for us to have some slices with our morning coffee.


There are so many options when it comes to variety.  Usually when I put together gift baskets or tins, sticking with items that only need to be stored at room temperature keeps it simple, rather than forgetting to tell someone that their edible gifts need to be stored in the fridge…and sometimes those results can end badly.  Yikes!  These tins were picked up at the Dollar Store, then I stuck a bow on top of the red tin, then packaged some cookies in plastic treat bags, and tied with a twistie tie bow.


There are so many several fun ways to package your edible gifts.  You can do large gift baskets, small gift baskets, metal tins (which I have used for years, since they’re cheap, cute, and keep things sealed in air tight containers), package them in little plastic baggies with ties (great for individual goodie bags), or even do small trifles in decorated plastic containers.  You can pick up a variety of the metal tins at the dollar store, so it keeps your expenses down…and just separate the layers of goodies with wax paper or parchment paper.  And if you decide to do different flavors of cupcakes, several stores have decorated cupcake containers to store them in…and if you make a couple of different flavors, you can mix and match the different flavors with who you’re giving them to.  Shoot, you can even make quite a few mini bundt cakes with one batch of cake batter, package them individually and BAM!  There you go!  😀


If you want to get really creative, like my sister-in-law does for her employees every year, you could do something like this.  Here, she made rice krispie treats, shaped them in the form of Christmas trees, then sprinkled them with green sugar crystals.  And the cake balls…oh, the cake balls.  She did two different flavors, which is why some are red and some are blue (to distinguish the different flavors, of course).  When she told me she was baking last weekend and would love some help, I headed on over there.  While our kids played together and stalked us in the kitchen, I helped her with these little snowmen.  We used two different sized cookie scoops (small and medium) for the different sizes.  After we scooped out an even number of each size and stuck them on parchment paper, they went in the fridge to set.  Then, we rolled them into smooth little balls, dipped the larger one in melted chocolate with the toothpick sticking out, dipped the smaller ones and didn’t leave the toothpick in, then stuck them together.  She used the Reese’s peanut butter bells (seasonal item) as the hats, and piped on the rest of the decorations with colored icing.

photo 2

Here, my sister-in-law packaged some of the goodies together for her employees.  She used a plastic plate as the base, and got some decorative large Christmas bags that went over the plate, then tied it all together with ribbon.  Talk about a presentation!  Oh yeah, it’s safe to say that her employees are really spoiled with goodies this time of year.  😉


In this particular basket above, I made this for my mother-in-law last year.  It has homemade mocha hot chocolate mix, fluffy pancake mix (dry ingredients with instructions), homemade coffee liquor, peanut butter ritz cookies, dark chocolate covered apples, s’mores candy bars, a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant, and chocolate chip cookies.

If you’re going to a family gathering and you need to take something, a trifle is always a wonderful item to take.  I’ve had many people rant and rave over the Tiramisu Trifle and Oreo Trifle that have shown up at different events…and for good reason!  They are absolutely delicious!

Cookies and brownies are always a safe bet, but there are sooo many options to choose from…so here are a few room temperature item suggestions:

Eggnog Cookies
Pumpkin Cookies
S’mores Cookies
White Chocolate Macademia Nut Cookies
Brownie Cookies, Triple Layer Brownies and Pillow Cookies (double whammy with brownies and cookies, all in one!)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies
Chocolate Covered Oreos
S’mores Brownies
Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Brownies
Double Peanut Butter Brownies
Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Brownie Bars
Peanut Butter Shortbread Bites
Pretzel Turtles
S’mores Candy Bars
Chocolate Covered Almond Clusters
Dark Chocolate Covered Apples
Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
Pumpkin Bars
Rice Krispie Treats
Apple Pie Cookies
Lemon Bars
Candy Sushi

Now, if storing treats in the fridge isn’t an issue, here are a few store-in-the-fridge goodies:
Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie
Cookies ‘n Cream Fudge
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Oreo Truffles
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
Mini Oreo Cheesecakes
Black Bottom Pumpkin Pies

Again, one of the many things I personally love about these edible gifts is the fact that the options are endless.  You could pick just a few items and make a few small tins, or you could go all out and make tons and tons of stuff, like my grandmother has done for years.  😉  Either way, you end up with happy gift recipients!

Merry Christmas!

Eggnog Cookies

It’s December already!  Where has the year gone?  Either way, this time of year is my favorite.  Fires crackling in the fireplace, beautifully decorated and lit Christmas tree, all the Christmas lights on people’s homes, the music…and of course, the food.  Ironically, this is the time of year that I tend to lose a few pounds.  Why?  Because I’m so determined NOT to gain those extra holiday pounds, that I tend to go in the opposite direction, yet still allowing myself to indulge in some of my favorite foods.  Yes, I’m a rebel.

eggnog cookies

Last year after making some eggnog cupcakes, I decided to experiment with more eggnog recipes this year.  So, here is the first!  These cookies actually taste very similar to the sugar cookies that my mother-in-law has made before, and I couldn’t stop eating those…and naturally, that was the case with these.  Oh, except they have extra colored sugar crystals on top.  More sugar?  Yes, please.

Eggnog Cookies Recipe:

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup eggnog

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

red and green sugar crystals

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks, beat at medium speed with electric mixer until smooth.  Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined, do not overmix.  Using cookie scoop, form cookie dough into balls before rolling in colored sugar crystals, then drop batter so that they are 1 inch apart on baking sheet.  Bake 20-23 minutes.

Black Bottom Pumpkin Pies

While reading through a Fall Recipes magazine, I came across a recipe for a black bottom pumpkin pie.  I tried out the recipe, but wasn’t all that impressed with how it turned out.  The pumpkin layer was literally like pudding, and when I think of pie, I think of actually being able to cut a slice, rather than having to use a spoon to scoop it out due to the texture.  Well, back to the drawing board.  I decided to give it another shot, but change a lot of things around.

black bottom pumpkin pies

This time, an Oreo crust was prepared, but in a two 12 cup muffin pans.  How about make these little guys individual portions instead of a whole pie?  Sure!  The waiting process of letting them set in the fridge seemed like it took forever, because I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into them.  Well worth the wait.  Wow.

For the Crust:

20 Oreo cookies

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Process cookies into crumbs using small food chopper or food processor.  Mix together the melted butter with crumbs.  Using a medium size cookie scoop, distribute evenly between 24 lined cups between two muffin pans.  Bake for 5 minutes, cool completely on cooling racks.

For the Chocolate Bottom:

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

In 30 second intervals, melt chocolate chips in heavy cream in microwave.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixed with cream.  Drop 1 teaspoon of chocolate on top of each Oreo crust in muffin pans.  Put in refrigerator to set, about 15-20 minutes.

For the Pumpkin Layer:

2 (8 0z.) blocks cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed with electric mixer until blended.  Using a standard ice cream scoop, distribute evenly between all muffin cups on top of chocolate.  Use a spoon to spread evenly.  Set in refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.  Top with Maple Whipped topping.

For the Maple Whipped Topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup maple syrup

Using electric mixer, beat at medium speed until mixture is thickened and forms soft peaks.  Generously spoon or pipe on top of pies.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Here we go with some more Fall Recipes…and my family is a big fan of pecans. My grandmother makes a pecan pie every Thanksgiving, so here is a slight twist on this incredible pie, but as individual bars…and with chocolate. You can’t go wrong with nuts and chocolate, in my honest opinion.

chocolate pecan pie bars

Just make sure your food processor works…  Because when I hooked everything up to pulse the crumb mixture, it decided to stop working.  As I was fiddling with it and felt my level of frustration (and blood pressure) rise, I texted my husband, fussing about how our food processor sucks, and I was ready to REALLY break it.  Sigh.  The idea of using the blender came across my mind, but when it’s literally in the dishwasher and it’s running along, the options were diminishing.  Oh well.  So, the hand held Pampered Chef food processor came out of the cabinet, and I tried to improvise.  Moral of the story?  Have a better backup plan for these delicious yummies…because even out of all this frustration, they were delicious.  Maybe Santa can bring me a new food processor.  😉

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars Recipe:

For the Crust:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over sides.  Lightly grease foil.  Pulse all ingredients in food processor 5 to 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Press mixture on bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of prepared pan.  Bake crust for 15 minutes.   Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes) before topping with remaining ingredients.

For the Pie Layer:

1 bag mini semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter, melted

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 1/2 cups pecan halves and pieces

Sprinkle chocolate chips on crust.  Whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and eggs until smooth.   Stir in pecans, and pour mixture on top of crust and chocolate chips.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and set.  Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Chill for another hour in refrigerator.  Lift baked bars from pan, using foil sides as handles.  Transfer to cutting board, cut into bars.

Pumpkin Cookies

I’ll never forget the first time I had pumpkin cupcakes.  It was around Christmas several years ago, and my sister-in-law made them.  When she told me what kind of cupcakes she made, I grimaced.  Pumpkin?  That can’t be good.  I thought to myself.  Boy, I was SO wrong.  I couldn’t stop eating them, and have made them MANY times since then.

pumpkin cookies

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with pumpkin recipes.  And I’ll be honest, when I open that can of pumpkin puree that will be going into the recipe, it doesn’t look or smell all that appetizing…but literally every recipe that is thrown together with pumpkin turns out to be absolutely delicious.  Since it’s the fall, the perfect opportunities present themselves to experiment with more and more pumpkin recipes.  With these cookies, I was really impressed.  They were thick, soft, and addictive.  The icing on top is just an added sweetness to their yumminess.  I gave some to my sister-in-law to try out since she likes pumpkin recipes, and asked her how she liked them.  She responded, “Yeah, a little too much.  I want the recipe.”  I think she liked them.  😉

For the Cookies:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar, beat with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy.  Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, continue mixing until smooth.  In a separate smaller bowl, add all dry ingredients.  Gradually add dry ingredients to mixture, and continue beating until well combined.  Using a cookie scoop, place on cookie sheet or baking stone.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a very light golden brown on top.  Cool cookies on cooling rack.

For the Cookie Icing:

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3-1/2 cup milk (based on desired consistency)

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

combine all ingredients in small mixing bowl, and stir together until your desired consistency.  You’ll want it to be thick, but runny.  Dip completely cooled cookies one by one into icing.  place back on cookie sheet for icing to set.  Store in airtight container.

*Add some extra zing to these cookies by throwing in a bag of cinnamon chips or mini chocolate chips!

Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake

A while ago, I gave it a shot to make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake…and was very impressed and happy with how it turned out.  So, naturally, when I was looking for more Fall Recipes, I came across this one…and stopped.  And since I made Bananas Foster several months ago and will never forget about how delicious that was, this recipe was added to the “to do” list.  Immediately.

bananas foster upside down cake

With the original recipe I was looking at, the cake was made from scratch.  Although it was good, I still felt like it was lacking in a couple of areas, and decided to keep it simple by using a doctored cake mix recipe that I’ve used many times, but changing around the ingredients to include banana, vanilla, and cinnamon flavors throughout the cake.  This way, when the banana, pecan, and caramel rum topping is literally the icing on top of the cake for this one.  This cake is moist, delicious…and I’ll definitely be making this one again.

For the Topping:

3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 cup butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 ripe bananas

Melt butter in small saucepan.  Remove from heat, stir in brown sugar and rum.  Continue stirring until smooth.  Spoon into an even layer in a 10 inch round cake pan.  Slice bananas diagonally, place over the sauce in pan.  Sprinkle pecans on top.  Cover with cake batter, bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cake is a light golden brown and cake pulls away from sides of pan.

For the Cake:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 small box instant banana pudding mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in medium size mixing bowl, beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes.  Spoon batter over banana, pecan, and caramel rum topping.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cake is a light golden brown and cake pulls away from sides of pan.  Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, turn out to cool completely.

Pecan Pancakes with Caramel Apple Sauce

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a magazine at the grocery store that was packed full of Fall Recipes…so I grabbed it.  As I’m flipping through the different items, I wanted to make almost everything in there, all at once.  It was a bit distracting, and of course having to pick and choose what to make now, along with what to make later.  Well, since we recently went to an orchard and loaded up on apples, I decided to use this on my in-laws when we were all vacationing together at the beach.  They love my fluffy pancakes, so I decided to make these.  The pancake recipe is pretty much the same, except with a slight substitution of a small amount of light brown sugar and some added cinnamon.

pecan pancakes 2

The caramel apple sauce though…oh wow.  When I dressed my plate up to get some pictures and then sat down to eat, it was incredible.  I had to stop myself from eating every last bit of these three pancakes covered in bliss.  “Forget syrup, I’m making this for pancakes from now on!” I told my husband.  These were incredibly delicious, and I look forward to making them for my family next time!

For The Pancakes:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pecans

Heat skillet at medium heat.  Combine dry ingredients in medium size bowl.  Add wet ingredients, stir together using a whisk.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.  Measure batter 1/4 cup at a time, pour onto hot skillet.  Sprinkle a small amount of pecans on top of batter.  When you start to see bubbles on top of batter, flip pancakes over using spatula.  Cook until lightly browned on both sides, serve warm with caramel apple topping.

*If you’re not a fan of pecans (or nuts, in general), this recipe is very easy to omit adding nuts to each pancake.

For the Caramel Apple Sauce:

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter in small sauce pan at medium heat.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon, stir until dissolved.  Add apple slices, and cook in pan until apples are soft.  Serve warm over pancakes.

Pumpkin Bars

Well, it’s October…which can only mean one thing.  Fall Recipes!  So, for the rest of this month and up until Turkey Day, I’ll be diving into as many Fall Recipes as possible.  To me, Fall Recipes are when we start moving towards the warm comfort foods, but mostly dealing with apples, pecans, cranberries, cinnamon, caramel, gingerbread, and the big one…pumpkin.  So, we’re starting out with some Pumpkin Bars this time around.

pumpkin bars

As the fragrant flavors were swarming through the kitchen when these guys were baking in my oven, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them.  Luckily, I had some cream cheese icing left over from a hummingbird cake I made over the weekend to smother all over the top of them, which is exactly what I did.  I cut two pieces for myself and my husband (he shared his with our daughter, since he literally just wolfed down two s’mores cookies), and the two of them polished their piece off…which our daughter started asking for more.  As I was getting  her ready for bed, my taste buds were screaming at me to get another piece.  So, I got into a mental argument with myself over this.  That stuff was so awesome, you know you want another piece.  Don’t do it, you’re already full and you don’t need it!  So, I made the courageous decision to get that stuff OUT of the kitchen this morning.  Taking up space in the fridge is my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.  But holy cow, these will DEFINITELY be made again.  Amazing!

For the Pumpkin Bars:

4 eggs

1 cup white sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.  In a medium mixing bowl, add all ingredients and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until mixture is smooth.  Pour batter into pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool completely before topping with cream cheese icing.  Store in refrigerator.

For the Icing:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, and continue mixing until smooth.  Spread over top of cooled Pumpkin Bars.

Apple Dumplings

One day while my cousin and I were chatting on the phone, we were talking about different desserts.  Somehow we got on the subject of apple desserts, and she gasped, “Oh, I just LOVE apple desserts.  Especially apple dumplings, they’re delicious!”  I laughed and said, “What?  Apple dumplings?”  She explained to me what they were, and since we’re both big fans of allrecipes.com, I looked up the recipe that she was talking about on there.  Her husband’s family has been making them for years, and she always looks forward to them.  After looking it up and seeing how easy they were to make (especially using crescent roll dough), I made them a few days later.  I called her immediately after my husband and I gobbled ours down, exclaiming, “Oh wow.  Those were,  um,  yeah.  They were awesome.  Definitely making these again.”


First, you’ll need your apples.  Peel, core, and cut up into 8 slices.  If they’re a little too long for the crescent roll dough, just take a little bit off each side.  Roll them up in the crescent roll dough, tucking the sides in to make sure it’s all sealed up together.


Next, pack them all in to a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Melt your butter, mix with sugar and cinnamon, and pour over dumplings.  Next, pour in the Mountain Dew (yes, you read that right).


Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until a golden brown.


The combination of soft apples with the buttery texture of crescent rolls, mixed with cinnamon, sugar, and the citrus soda will give your taste buds a run for their money.  Devour.  Happily.

Apple Dumplings Recipe:

2 regular size cans of crescent rolls

2 granny smith apples

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter

12 oz. Mountain Dew

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking dish.  Cut each apple into 8 wedges and set aside.  Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles.  Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough, starting at the smallest end.  Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish.  Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon.  Stir well, then pour over the apple dumplings.  Pour the Mountain Dew over the dumplings.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.


Chicken Pot Awesome

In the evening when my husband and I are relaxing after our little pumpkin goes to bed, we usually unwind by sitting on the couch and watching a little bit of TV.  Whether it’s a movie, one of our favorite shows (that we pre-record to fast forward through the commercials), or something on one of our favorite stations, HGTV or DIY Network.  One night, we were watching House Hunters.  This particular episode was about five guys in their twenties who were looking to buy a house with a bunch of bedrooms so they could all still be roomies together.  Amazingly, what interested me the most in this show was when they were talking about the food they ate.  One of their favorite meals was called, “Chicken Pot Awesome.”  We laughed, and said, “What in the world is that?”  Well, when they explained that it was simply chicken pot pie with a bunch of bacon added in, we both gaped at the TV and said, “Wow!  That sounds AWESOME!”  Hence, the chicken pot awesome name.

chicken pot awesome

I decided right then that I had to make this for the hubster…shoot, and for myself too, because it sounded amazing.  Normally, he doesn’t get all that excited about food…but after a weekend of helping his brother move to Texas, I wanted to make something special for him when he got back.  I’d kept it a secret all weekend, but when he called to chat on his lunch break the day of his special dinner, I spilled the beans.  And honestly, I can’t remember a time I’ve heard him get that excited about a meal, because I told him we were also having Bananas Foster for dessert.  And trust me, it was worth it.  We’re sitting there at the table in silence, gobbling down all of the awesomeness.  This is something I will definitely be making again in the future.  And again…and again…you get the point.

Chicken Pot Awesome Recipe:

1 pound chicken, cut up into cubes
1 pound bacon
1 bag “steam in a bag” mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn and green beans)
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut up bacon into smaller pieces, cook in skillet until crispy, remove from pan.  Add chicken and cook in bacon grease until lightly browned and cooked all the way through.  Cook vegetables in microwave, according to package directions.  In a saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir until mixture becomes thick.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside. Place the chicken and bacon in bottom of pie pan. Pour hot liquid mixture over meat.  Cover top with crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Bread

A year and a half ago around the holidays, someone asked me if I had ever made a pumpkin loaf before.  I told her no, but that I wanted to try it out…and completely forgot.  Well, my best friend’s sister came in town to visit, and she was hoping to get some sort of goodies from me, since apparently I “tease” her with all of the food that’s posted on here.  😉  She’s actually a big fan of pumpkin, and it was her daughter’s birthday party that I made the pumpkin cupcakes for a while back, so I knew that this would be a safe flavor to make…so that’s what determined the pumpkin bread decision.  So, she has become another guinea pig, but gets free yummies in the process.  Double whammy.

pumpkin bread

My cinnamon honey butter goes wonderfully on this bread.  In fact, maybe it’s a little too wonderful on here.  I would say it kinda feels wrong to be eating something with such a wonderful holiday flavor…but nothing can feel wrong about eating pumpkin bread.  I guess the technical season that pumpkin flavored foods really starts getting in the swing of things is when October hits…but the good thing is that it continues through Christmas.  I will definitely be making this for the holidays and wrapping them up to be put into gift baskets!  🙂

Pumpkin Bread Recipe:

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups white sugar

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans, or two 9×5 inch loaf pans.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.  Bake for about 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for about 15 minutes, turn out onto cooling racks and cool completely.

Easter Cookies

Last week when I made the shortbread cookies for the first time, I knew that I had to make these for Easter as well.  They’re a great flavor that most people love…but I wanted to do a spin on it.  Most of the time, decorated cookies are sugar cookies with a cookie icing.  Well…since the original shortbread cookies were so delicious with chocolate drizzled over top, it seemed obvious that this had to be done in a decorating aspect as well.  So, here we are…  Something a little different,  yet traditional at the same time.  Chocolate melting wafers come in so many different colors, so the general idea seemed genius to me, especially after how well those cookies turned out last week.


First, make your dough.  Combine all of the ingredients and shape into a big blob, then cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  The dough can also be used for up to 3 days after making it, if stored in fridge.


Sprinkle surface with flour, along with more flour on top of dough.  Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.


Using cookie cutters, cut out the shapes of the cookies you want to make.


Place them on a cookie sheet or baking stone (preferably baking stone, since they cook so evenly).


Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a very light golden color.  Cool completely on cooling racks before decorating.


I melted the chocolate wafers in 15-20 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each time until completely melted.  Spoon a small amount onto cookie, then spread with back of spoon or toothpick.  Use a toothpick or squeeze bottle with melted chocolate to decorate how you like.


All finished!  When I was finishing these up, my husband came strolling into the dining room and asked if he could have a cookie.  This recipe was the one that he literally had cookies for dinner last week when I wasn’t home.  He said, “That’s all chocolate?  I thought that you’re supposed to decorate cookies with icing?”  I responded, “Well yeah, MOST of the time they are decorated with cookie icing, but chocolate is awesome, and I haven’t seen it done like this before.”  What can I say?  I’m a rebel.  With a cause.  For chocolate.  In all honesty, you could probably get a smoother look with the cookie icing or by putting the melted chocolate in squeeze bottles…just do what works best for you.  I can’t wait to eat the bunny cookie, he’s so cute.  Happy Easter!!

Shortbread Cookies Recipe:

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces dark chocolate wafers

4 ounces white chocolate wafers

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.  Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.