Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Brownie Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Bake a brownie mix (as directed) in a 9 inch spring form pan. Let cool completely.Soften a half gallon of this ice cream and spread over the brownie layer (I use about 1/2 to 3/4 of the container).
Top with fresh whipped cream and chopped up Peppermint Bark (candy canes would work too!) Freeze for several hours-preferably overnight.
Thanks sissy for this great (and really easy) dessert idea! It was a hit at the Karlson's for Christmas eve! Have you noticed every Christmas dessert I've made involves Chocolate and Peppermint? There is a pattern here...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chocolate Graham Toffee Bark

These delicious toffee candies start with plain graham crackers and are topped with chocolate and macadamia nuts. They make a fabulous fast and easy gift from the kitchen for any occasion.

1/2 pound (two sticks) butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 box (about) graham crackers (not crumbs)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional) I like almonds- but pecans would be good too

Preheat oven to 350˚

Arrange whole graham cracker
to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer, breaking up the last few (if needed) to fit the space.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add brown sugar and white sugar. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture gently bubble for 4 minutes. (Set a timer and watch this step closely). Remove from heat. Carefully pour sugar/butter mixture evenly over the graham cracker
layer. Spread to cover. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let rest until bubbling subsides. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Wait about 2 minutes for chocolate to melt, then use a spatula to gently spread chocolate chips into an even layer on top of the toffee graham cracker.

Optional: Sprinkle with the chopped
nuts, pressing down gently into the chocolate. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Break into 2-inch irregular pieces. Refrigerate any leftovers. Yield: about 1 pound candy bark pieces

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Peppermint Cheesecake

This recipe is from Sunset (a few years back). I love Sunset- have you seen the article this month on Frenso's Christmas Tree Lane? Check it out if you haven't.

Here is the recipe-

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 4 hours to cool and chill
MAKES: 12 to 16 servings

12 ounces Oreos, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coarsely crushed peppermint candy

1. Place cookies in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour into a buttered 9-inch round springform pan and pour melted butter over crumbs; mix to coat, then press evenly over bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake in a 300° oven until crust is slightly darker and looks a bit dry, about 10 minutes (leave oven on).

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Beat in sour cream. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in flour, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into pan over baked crust.

3. Bake until edges are just golden and center jiggles slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan rim. Place pan on a wire rack and cool cheesecake completely in pan. Cover and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Run a knife around rim again, then release rim. If any liquid has pooled on surface of cheesecake, blot dry gently with a paper towel.

4. Decorate top of cake with crushed peppermint candy, pressing it in gently with your hands.

Per serving: 356 cal., 61% (216 cal.) from fat; 6.3 g protein; 24 g fat (13 g sat.); 31 g carbo (0.6 g fiber); 373 mg sodium; 108 mg chol.

Notes- be sure to add candy just before serving- or else the top will turn pink the candy won't look as good.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Cookie Shortcut...

I love baking- but this is the craziest, busiest Christmas season I've ever experienced. So I'm looking for some short cuts. I'm not above pre-made cookie dough (okay, I used to be- but now I'm seeing the light!).

Try this-

Two ingredient Christmas cookies!

Roll the mini brownie bites into little balls (each package makes 40!) and dip the top into the peppermint crunch. Bake as directed on the Toll House package- and your friends will call you Martha! (Michelle P. did when I made these- I just smiled and nodded!).

I have to bring 4 dozen cookies to church on Sunday and Vons has the brownies bites buy one get one free- so this is my plan!

Easy Entertaining Breakfast

We had some friends over for breakfast on Sunday morning and I made this Omelet for two (I increased it to four) and it was so good! And great because it was EASY! I highly recommend it for breakfast, it was so fun to have people over for breakfast and then you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want.....we should have breakfast with friends more often. I also made my favorite (and famous) Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (the recipe came from Jill's mom actually). I'll post that recipe later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little Italy

This is really what my kitchen looked like about 2 hours before the party. But... here is the after... (The kitchen was clean too!)

We had a fun itunes mix going with Frank, Tony, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin that set the mood. I didn't take a lot of pictures at our house because I was busy hosting- but you can see the recipes here and here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Around the World Progressive Party

So the concept for this party was to have hors d'oeuvres at each house ending with dessert. Each home had a different country as their theme.
The first stop-
How cute is their sign?
This was not take-out for the record! These amazing asian hors d'oeuvres were made from scratch! Egg rolls, dumplings, chicken satay and lettuce wraps to DIE for! Very impressive- the other hosts including myself were feeling a little nervous after the Holck's went all out!
Great job Brad and Kel! Next post... our house aka "little italy".

Marinated Mozzarella and Grape Tomato Tree

I took this Friday about 3 hours before the party. Ben is my little "helper". I'm using that term loosely. Very loosely.

This was one of my crazy ideas that actually turned out! I have lots more pictures of the party I'll be posting later today.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Merry Christmas Boys!

This darling little blue kitchen is safely tucked away for Christmas morning for our two little boys! I love that it will encourage imaginary play- and who knows, maybe some day we'll have our own Emeril!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ina's Cheese Straws

I will not hide my undying love for all things Ina. These cheese straws are also on the menu for tomorrow night. I've got to pull my puff pastry out of the freezer right now before I forget. After this quick post-

2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it's 10 - 12 inches. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the Gruyre, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and some pepper. With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don't overbake or the cheese will burn. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pizzettes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto

How fun does a pizzette sound? Perfect finger food for the itailan themed Christmas party on Friday! I've been looking for a great new appetizer to try out- and this is the one! This will be the first Giada recipe I've made. When I used to get a weekly produce box I made a fig, goat cheese and prosciutto pizza and it was delicious! (What else do you do with figs?).

I'm also making Ina's Cheese Straws (thanks sissy for the recommendation!). The anti-pasta platter with tons of goodies I picked up from Sam's Italian market will be the centerpiece.

I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!