Christmas Crack, Bark, Balls & More

Hi Friends 🙂

 It is almost Christmas (!!!) so I thought I’d throw together a quick recap of the holiday cookies/treats I have been making lately (and a few pumpkin recipes that are good any time of year).

Christmas Crack

(Katie made it too)

Peppermint Bark

Gingerbread Bagel’s Christmas Bark

Mama Pea’s Cookie Dough Balls

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Oreo Balls

(and check out Averie’s Oreo Balls too – hers are covered in chocolate!)

Sugar Cookie Thumbprints

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Allie’s Vegan Pumpkin Blondies

Katie’s Pumpkin Pie Cookies

*Averie’s huge compilation post of holiday treats from other bloggers* Check it out!
 
Have a lovely, safe holiday (or if you are not celebrating, have a wonderful day!)

Sugar Cookie Jam Thumbprints

Hi Friends 🙂
The weekend is almost here! As you may recall, I got a Nook for my birthday, and last night I finally got a cover for it:

I love that my Nook is protected and I love the faux leather — plus it has all sorts of neat pockets inside. I’m plugging through the second to last Sookie Stackhouse novel — I’ll be happy when I’m done with that series!
Our cookie baking/exchange party got rescheduled to tomorrow, so I made one more batch of cookies to share with the group. This were so simple, but they almost seem like I put some effort into them 🙂
Sugar Cookie Jam Thumbprints
Here you have a choice: make your own sugar cookie dough, or use store-bought. I went with Pillsbury 🙂
And for the jam part of the cookie, I chose two flavors out of my Ikea jam stash:
I chose Cloudberry (no idea what that is!) and Blueberry.
Simply roll the dough into 1 inch balls (or smaller if you prefer), take a measuring spoon (or your thumb) and create a little “bowl” for your jam to sit in.
The Cloudberry cookies turned out really nice:
The blueberry ones exploded…I made the cookies too small and added waaaaaay too much jam. I’m sure they’ll still taste just as good 🙂

Averie posted a ton of dessert recipes yesterday, check them out!
What is your favorite, super quick, easy, crowd-pleasing dessert?

Dairy Free Beef Stroganoff

Hi Friends 🙂

I hope you day is going well!

For dinner on Wednesday night, I pulled some inspiration from one of my favorite blogs: N Her Shoes. I have been reading Bobbi’s blog for almost a year now. I loved reading about her marathon training, her recipes, her life! She has a strong faith which I appreciate and enjoy reading about. Last week she made Cooking Light’s Crockpot Beef Stroganoff, and it looked so good! I made a stove-top version since I didn’t have 8 hours!

Dairy Free Beef Stroganoff
 
I followed the Cooking Light recipe, except I made it on the stove top with browned ground beef and this “special ingredient”:

We get Tofutti brand soy cheese slices and cream cheese but I had never tried their sour cream. This dinner turned out so creamy 🙂

After dinner I worked out with Jillian:

I don’t have a kettlebell, so I used a handweight. It was a pretty good workout – it doesn’t seem hard at the time, but my legs were definitely sore the next day. I think this is the dvd that prompted all that scandal with Jillian? That she doesn’t have credentials or something? I can’t remember and to be honest I’m too lazy to look it up 🙂 If you have any idea what I’m talking about, let me know!

I’ve got some gifts to wrap and then Top Chef All Stars is on 🙂

Where do you get ideas/inspiration for your meals? Cookbooks? Cooking shows? Blogs? Family recipes?

Cinnamon BS Sweet Potatoes

Hi Friends 🙂
First of all, check out this tulip:
It just keeps growing and growing! I just can’t bring myself to trim it yet, I like that (for once) I am able to keep flowers alive in my house! I usually have such rotten luck with plants.
Thanks for the compliments on the Cupcake Hat Katie did such a nice job on it! Yesterday a stranger stopped me in the mall and told me she liked my hat — how nice!
I was getting more holiday shopping done last night and had a short amount of time to throw some dinner together. We had some leftover ham slices and I had bought sweet potatoes to go with them — but I really didn’t want to wait an hour or so for them to bake in the oven (even though an oven baked sweet potato is one of the most glorious things on the planet!). I opted for sliced sweet potatoes — which would roast much quicker than a whole one.
After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, I scrubbed, peeled and sliced one large (LARGE!) sweet potato. I tossed it with some canola oil and threw it in a dish. After 10 minutes in the oven I tossed the slices, and then baked for 10 minutes more. Then, sprinkle on some brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper:
And after 10 more minutes, voila!
Delicious roasted sweet potato pieces. I know, I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but just a few ingredients really make the flavors pop! (The more I look at the pictures, it looks like an apple and not a sweet potato, but please take my word for it) 🙂
These are called Cinnamon BS Sweet Potatoes because they have Brown Sugar on them, but also because this recipe is pure BS. But not as bad as this:

 

I’m sorry, I don’t remember where I saw someone else post this recipe, but it is hilarious! And yes, it is on the Food Network site!
Yep, this is a quick post — busy weekend for me coming up and I’m trying to get a thousand things accomplished before then. (For the millionth time, bloggers who post daily or more than once per day truly have better time management skills than me — I don’t know how you do it!)
Enjoy your day — and tell me about your favorite-quick-and-healthy-meal.

Easy Peasy Pumpkiny Muffiny

Hi Friends 🙂
Well, it only took me an hour and a half to get to work on Monday (usually it takes me 25-30 minutes…) It seems the amount of snow + budget cuts (?) equals terrible driving conditons, roads not paved well and tons of cars (and semi trucks!) in the ditch and blocking complete roads. Hopefully within a day or two things will be better!
Yesterday I was reading Shanna’s blog – and I saw the super easy fudge recipe she used — and it made me think of an old favorite: cake mix + can of pumpkin + chocolate chips = easy muffins.
I have been a baking fiend lately, and yesterday was no exception.
Easy Peasy Pumpkiny Muffiny
1 box cake mix (spice cake, yellow cake or devils food cake would work well)
1 15oz. can pumpkin
1/2 bag chocolate chips (or maybe pecans?)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or whatever the box mix specifies). Combine the cake mix with the pumpkin — keep stirring, it WILL eventually combine 🙂 Throw in chocolate chips and fold together. Drop by spoonfuls into prepared muffin tins (or muffin liners) – batter will be pretty thick. Bake for 17-20 minutes (or whatever the box mix specifies).
Out of the oven:
As you can see, they don’t “rise” much — but they are pretty dense little muffins.
*
I want to say thank you to Katie for sending me this adorable prize (I won her blogiversary giveaway):
Can you tell what it is? (not the chocolate bar…) It is a CUPCAKE HAT!!!
Katie I absolutely love it — and I have worn it every.single.day since I got it!
Question: What is your favorite muffin? Banana nut is my favorite, and Averie’s recipe is really really good 🙂

Chocolate Dipped Holiday Pretzels

Hi Friends 🙂
Here are a few more snow pictures from over the weekend:
Look at all the snow on our roof!!!
On Saturday Jason decided to go see how deep the snow was: (over his knees!!!)
On Sunday we were basically snowed in again, but I (foolishly) drove to Walgreens to pick up our Christmas photos — and got stuck on the way 😦 Thankfully a few people stopped to help push my car — that was so nice of them! I was planning on going to a Cookie Baking party, but that got postponed until next weekend…so I decided to do more holiday baking on my own.
Chocolate Dipped Holiday Pretzels
Here is what you need: pretzel rods, chocolate chips and candy. I used white chocolate chips, M&Ms, peanuts and candy canes.
The “recipe” is so simple: crush M&M’s, peanuts and candy canes (or whatever candy or nuts you are using). Melt chocolate in the microwave, roll pretzels in the chocolate and dip in the candy (or sprinkle the candy on, either would work) and set on parchment paper to dry. After a few minutes I moved them all into the freezer to chill for an hour or so.
Do you like my cute Mason jars? I bought them to use as candleholders, but they seemed like a good idea to hold my pretzels for a while 🙂
Jason was my taste tester and he liked the pretzels very much! The salty/sweet taste was apparently very good! You can check out the Christmas Crack I made on Saturday if you want another salty/sweet treat idea.
Are you in the holiday spirit yet? Are you finished with your holiday shopping?
Have a great day!
-Holly

Christmas Crack

Hi Friends 🙂
We were SNOWED IN all day yesterday:

Here is our basement window:

Some areas of the Twin Cities got 12-20 inches – can you believe that?!?! I am so glad that this happened on a Saturday and that we had no plans. (I was supposed to go to a Cookie Exchange Party, but that got switched to today, so it worked out fine).
While Jason did homework, I caught up on laundry, vacuumed, and BAKED:
Mama Pea’s Christmas Cookie Dough Balls (I used butter instead of Earth Balance)
These made the house smell soooooo good! I can’t wait to share them this afternoon.
I also made Christmas Crack. My sister-in-law sent me the recipe, and I had heard of it before, so I’m not sure who should get credit for this recipe – either way it is not mine!
Christmas Crack
1 sleeve saltine crackers
2 sticks of butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup crushed pecans (I didn’t include this, I just used sprinkles on the top instead)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with the saltines (note: line the pan with parchment paper first. I wish I had done this!). Boil butter and brown sugar for 2-3 minutes. Spoon quickly and gently over the crackers. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then spread the melty chocolate chips around. Sprinkle with pecans (or just sprinkles!) Cool in fridge (or freezer) until solid. Cut or break into pieces. Enjoy!

After baking for 5 minutes:

Cut into chunks:

I loved the salty/sweet taste of this – not a healthy treat by any means. It tasted like toffee with a chocolate layer on top.  I will be giving these away today as well 🙂
What is the weather like near you?
Do you like salty/sweet treats or do you prefer one over the other?

Banana Cashew Eggroll

Happy Friday Friends!

Yes – the title of this post is true. Near the end you will see the glorious Banana Cashew Eggroll. It was magnificent!

I had a wonderful birthday yesterday! Thanks for all the well wishes! The day was great and it started with a bouquet of flowers delivered to me at work:

(the card reads “from your loving husband”) – aaaaaaawwwww.

8 hours of work felt like 500 because I wanted to get out of there so badly. After listening to a few voicemails at lunch time and in the afternoon (thank you to everyone who left me those lovely messages!) I was more than ready to go home. Once 4:30pm rolled around I left work, came home and changed and then we were off to dinner.

Jason and I had only eaten here once, but it was so good and we couldn’t remember why we hadn’t gone back. We started with some veggie potstickers:

And some delicious cocktails. I had a Gin and Ginger (ginger ale, gin, lime) and Jason had the Effen Passion (passion fruit juice, vodka, ginger ale):

They were so refreshing — the ginger taste was so strong. Yum! For dinner, I ordered a chicken/veggie stir-fry with a lemon sweet/sour sauce:

The vegetables were so fresh and crisp and the sauce was light and flavorful. Jason got the teriyaki chicken fried rice:

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for: The Banana Cashew Egg Roll

“rolled by hand – crispy, with fresh banana, roasted cashew, brown sugar filling, served with creamy chocolate sauce”

Oh man – I didn’t think we’d ever find a dessert that even comes CLOSE to the Nutella Burger in Vegas – but this was BETTER! The banana + cashew flavor was amazing. I need to make this at home. After dinner we went to the theater and saw Tangled

It was so cute!!! I loved it. See the little green chameleon on the guy’s head? He was my favorite character! Too adorable. And Mandy Moore’s voice is perfect for Rapunzel. We loved it!

Hopefully this weekend I’ll make enough time to learn how to use my birthday gift:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you Jason for a lovely birthday – I love you!

***Have a great weekend everyone! Enjoy!***

-Holly

Holiday Balls & Bark

Hi Friends!

Loooooooong time, no blog, huh? Sorry for the disappearing act — I have been enjoying my “time off” — getting more rest, being more productive at work and at home and just not worrying about the blog. I was putting too much pressure on myself to blog every day — and with my all-or-nothing mentality, when I took a day off I decided to take a few WEEKS off.

Thank you for all of your kind emails and comments about where I am 🙂 For sure during the month of December I will blog when I can, but it will definitely be on a random schedule!

Last night for dinner I made a Pillsbury recipe: Chicken with Orange-Pecan Rice.

It turned out pretty good — I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, using less orange juice and subbing walnuts for pecans (we were out of pecans!). The chicken cooked nicely in the wild rice “bed”.

And for the rest of the evening, I spent my time in the kitchen. I have a Cookie Exchange party to go to on Saturday, so I got a head start on my baking:

Oreo Balls

Paula Deen’s Peppermint Bark (I think this is her only recipe without butter!)

Gingerbread Bagel’s Christmas Candy Bark

I still need to cut up the bark — I wanted it to solidify in the fridge, so I’ll wait until later today.

Today is my birthday 🙂 I am 27! I have no idea what our plans are, but hopefully I’ll have a nice post for tomorrow or Saturday 🙂

Have a great day!

Holly