Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Caramel Popcorn

I got TONS of M&M's for Christmas this year, and was looking for ways to use it up! I made this recipe, and sent it to New York with my family for my dad's mom to enjoy!

1 bag M&M's Brand Peanut Chocolate Candies for the Holidays
6 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla
1. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for five minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in vanilla and baking soda. In a large roasting pan, combine popcorn, M&M's and sauce mixture. Toss until completely coated.
3. Place in a 200 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then stir gently.
4. Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheets.

Tender Honey Yeast Rolls

Yeast intimidates. It never rises right for me, so I'm never happy with my final product. Well, this time I was determined to get it right. So I used my candy thermometer to make sure the water was the perfect temperature for the yeast - after 2 tries, it was perfect. I got the yeasty smell and the foam! I was beyond excited.
These rolls are amazing, I'll be making them again soon!

Thanks to A Cookie a day for the recipe!

4 cups bread flour *I couldn't find bread flour in my grocery store, so I used all-purpose flour (Start with 3 if you are hand kneading)
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 package dry yeast (1/4-ounce)
Vegetable cooking spray

Hand kneading instructions:
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the honey, egg and oil. Add roughly 3 cups of the flour and the salt until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 8 minutes. Do not be tempted to add too much flour. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.

Bread Machine Instructions:
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for placing first 7 ingredients into bread pan; select dough cycle, and start bread machine. Remove dough from machine (do not bake).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 30 seconds. Cover dough, and let rest 10 minutes.

Punch dough down, and divide into 12-18 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, and place on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 minutes. Uncover and bake at 400° for 13 minutes or until browned. Remove rolls from pans, and serve warm or at room temperature.
(About 5 minutes into baking I topped my rolls with 1 tbsp melted butter and 1 tbsp honey to give it that golden brown shiny coat)

I keep Chick-fil-A in business

Seriously, I love Chick-fil-A. I eat there more times than I care to admit, and have always wanted to replicate their food. Well, I stumbled across a recipe, and dove in! I couldn't find several of the ingredients, so this is my interpretation.

Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets

From: Runs with Spatulas, Originally from Insider's Recipes Master Edition, 2002

2 cups Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless, cubed) *I used 2 breasts
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups cracker meal *I used Chicken breader
1/4 tso paprika
2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 1/4 tsps McComick Season-all *I used Penzey's seasoned salt

Place cool water in bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon season−all and dissolve bouillon cubes in mixture. Place cubed chicken in water, mix, cover and place in refrigerator for 12 hours or next day. When ready to cook nuggets, mix flour, cracker meal, 2 teaspoons season−all and paprika in bowl. Heat oil for deep frying. Drain chicken. Coat nuggets in flour, cracker mixture and fry until golden. Chicken will be flavorful and juicy.

I let my chicken marinate for about 8-10 hours, and it was perfect. These are AWESOME!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chocolate Mint Candies Cookies

This year, I also wanted to try a new cookie recipe for the holidays. When I stumbled across a cookie recipe involving chocolate and Andes Candies, I knew this was it! These cookies are awesome... almost a brownie like cookie, with a hint of mint at the top!

Chocolate Mint Candies Cookies
Recipe from: All Recipes


3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (4.5 ounce) packages chocolate covered thin mints

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips until melted and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl, and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, be careful not to overbake. When cookies come out of the oven, Press one mint wafer into the top of each cookie and let sit for 1 minute. When the mint is softened, swirl with the back of a spoon or toothpick to make a pattern with the green filling of the mint wafer. For smaller cookies, break mints in half.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Another Christmas classic at my house is the Peanut Butter Blossom. This are my all-time favorite cookie, hands down. The recipe is simple, and comes together quickly.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Recipe from: Hershey


48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

About 4 dozen cookies. (We love these so much, we double the recipe!!)

Christmas Cutout Cookies

A regular cookie I have to have every year at the holidays, is the classic cutout cookie. But, I couldn't find the regular recipe my mother used. So I decided to use a new recipe, from my new Williams-Sonoma Cookie cookbook. Overall, I wasn't impressed with these cookies... but, my hubby gobbled them ALL down in 2 days, so they can't be too bad!!

Sugar Cookies

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, crem the butter until fluffy and pale. Add the granulate sugar in 3 additions, beating on low speed for 2 minutes after each addition. Beat the egg yolk and vanilla into the butter mixture until well blended.

Sift the flour and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended.

Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment (baking) paper.

Remove the dough disks from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out between 2 sheets of waxed paper to a thickness of 1/8-1/4 inch. Using cookie cutters, cut into curcles or other shapes. Repeat with the reamining dough portins, then gather up the scraps and reroll them. If the scraps of dough have become sticky, refrigerate them for 10 minutes before rerolling. For best results, do not roll the same dough more than twice.

Using an offest spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared pans. Sprinkle with sugar. If using an intricately shaped cuter, refrigerate the cutout cookies for 15-30 minutes before baking.

Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool briefly on the pans on wire racks before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I hope I win!!

Check out this awesome giveaway over on Baking Delights! She is giving away awesome gift baskets full of Hershey products!

I've entered - so cross your finger I win!!