Sunday, December 11, 2011

snowball truffles party!


It’s white chocolate & coconut! What more can I say besides DELICIOUS! These truffles would make a nice little gift & can easily be changed up with different flavors of extracts & coating. I’ve made them with almond extract instead of coconut extract & topped them with chopped almonds instead of coconut. Be daring & try lemon extract rolled in coconut. OR how about peppermint extract, topped with crushed candy canes! Use your imagination & make your wildest dreams come true with these!

They are super rich & tasty. The silky white chocolate center & the hard chocolate shell reminds me of Lindt Lindor Truffles. But guess what? Lindt doesn’t make coconut truffles, you do! Make some for Santa & I bet you will get something special in return!

You might be wondering what the difference is between white CHOCOLATE & white CANDY COATING. I use both for this recipe. I use white chocolate for the truffle center & candy coating for dipping the truffle in.

White chocolate contains cocoa butter, which is what qualifies it to be called chocolate. White chocolate also has sugar, milk fat & vanilla flavoring. White candy coating is usually sugar, oils, like partially hydrogenated stuff & more artificial flavors. White chocolate has a superior taste but the candy coating is so darn nice for dipping. Candy coating melts as smooth as butter & is much easier for dipping than chocolate. Definitely don't substitute candy coating for the white chocolate in the truffle mixture. It would probably taste good, unless you are a chocolate snob, but I think it would be too sweet. If you are a chocolate snob & don't want to use candy coating for the dipping, you can definitely use white chocolate for that too. Just add a tablespoon or 2 of shortening when melting the chocolate to smooth it out for dipping.

Snowball Truffles


1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon coconut extract
12 oz. Baker's premium white chocolate or any high quality white chocolate (not candy coating)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, for rolling truffles in
8 ounces white candy coating, melted for dipping


1. In a medium sized glass bowl, heat the cream, butter, extract & white chocolate in microwave at medium power for 1 minute intervals, stirring between each cooking time until chocolate is smooth & melted.

2. Stir in the powdered sugar. Refrigerate truffle mixture until firm for 1-2 hours.

3. I like my coconut shredded finer than it comes in the bag, so I pulse it a few times in the food processor. I like it even finer than I did today, but it's not even necessary at all. Place coconut in a small bowl & set aside.

4. Roll truffle mix into balls. I use my smallest cookie dough scoop to measure, which holds about 2 teaspoons. Place balls on wax paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze while you melt the white candy coating.

5. Melt candy coating in microwave on medium power, stirring often, until melted.

6. Take truffles out of fridge & dip into melted candy coating. I use a fork for dipping. Tap on side of bowl to remove excess candy coating & place dipped truffle into the bowl of coconut. Roll in coconut & sit on waxed paper until chocolate has dried.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

peanut butter balls party!


Don’t you just love how a recipe can recreate memories of the past . That is one of the things about cooking that brings me joy. Peanut butter balls are a Christmas tradition that I’m passing on to my daughter. Make these once & they will become a tradition at your house too.

Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate? These have a smooth rich center and chocolate coating just like Reese’s peanut butter cup. They are no-bake so your little ones will love helping.

This delicious holiday treat will disappear fast! We like them best COLD from the fridge! Crank up the Christmas carols & go make these!

Peanut Butter Balls

makes 4 dozen


1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar, see * in step 1
12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening


1. Using electric mixer, cream the peanut butter, butter & vanilla together. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time & mix well after each addition. * BEFORE adding the last half cup of powdered sugar, test the mixture. You want it to be stiff, not too sticky, and NOT CRUMBLY. It needs to hold together in a ball. You may need more or less powdered sugar depending on how creamy your peanut butter is.You may not need the last half cup of powdered sugar, depending on how creamy your peanut butter is.

2. Roll into balls. I use my smallest cookie dough scoop to measure, which holds about 2 teaspoons. Place balls on wax paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze for about 30 minutes to firm up.

3. Melt chocolate chips & shortening. I melt half the chocolate/shortening to start & melt the rest as needed . I use the microwave on medium power, cooking for 1 minute & stirring, repeating until melted and smooth. I use a small plastic bowl. You can use a doubler boiler instead of the microwave.

4. Take pb balls out of the fridge & dip into chocolate. I used to have THESE TOOLS, which I loved when I first started dipping chocolates. Now I've found that a fork is just as easy for me. I put a pb ball into the chocolate & scoop some chocolate over the top of it. Then lift the chocolate covered ball out with a fork, tap the fork on the side of the bowl to allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. You can also carefully scrape the bottom of the fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Then use a toothpick to carefully scoot the chocolate covered pb ball off the fork & onto the wax paper.

5. Allow to sit for an hour or pop them in the fridge to set up quicker.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

mexican wedding cake party!


Mexican Wedding Cakes are a Christmas tradition from my childhood. If you love butter & nuts, I made these just for you! They start with a crisp yet tender & delicate, shortbread-type butter cookie. Then you toss them in a blizzard of powdered sugar for a festive look & the perfect sweetness. I’ve ALWAYS loved these! I’ve seen them made with pecans, walnuts or almonds so use whatever nut is your favorite!

Baking these cookies today while listening to Christmas music kick started my Christmas Spirit! Being in the kitchen is where my joy begins & these cookies are a little bit magical just like Christmas should be. What puts you in the Christmas spirit?

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Yield: makes about 3 1/2 dozen


1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans, I toasted mine at 350 for 5-7 minutes


1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla & mix. Add flour & mix. Add pecans & mix. Set aside additional 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

2. Divide dough in half & form each half into a ball. Wrap separately in plastic wrap & put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill. This will insure that your cookies don't spread & flatten when baked.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape into 1 inch balls. Dough will be firm & slightly crumbly. Place on ungreased baking sheet 1/2 inch apart. (even when recipes say ungreased I still give it a tiny spritz with Pam cooking spray.) Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or just until cookies begin to brown on the bottom. They will still be somewhat pale on top. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Gently roll the warm (not hot) cookies in the remaining powdered sugar and place coated cookies on a rack to cool completely.

4. Repeat step 3 with remaining half of dough. After cookies are completely cooled, roll them in the powdered sugar again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

mom's holiday dinner rolls party!


Wednesday Thanksgiving Report: I’m getting excited; tomorrow is the day! I love to plan menus but there isn’t much menu planning for Thanksgiving, There is plenty of shopping & cooking & baking but the menu was set many years ago & we enjoy the long established traditional feast!

What’s on your menu? This is what we will be dining on:

Turkey and Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes (no marshmallows)
Mom’s Holiday Rolls
Pillsbury Crescents (don’t judge)
Homemade Cornbread Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole (for me!)
Deviled Eggs (for Mark)
Pumpkin Pie with real whipped cream
Individual Chocolate Brownie Mousse Trifles (for Monica)

I could easily live without the turkey, crazy, huh? I’m most looking forward to the sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy & homemade rolls. Speaking of rolls, the Pillsbury Crescents are for Monica. I know! What kind of child have I raised? She’s perfect in every other way, I swear! I live for homemade bread!

This recipe is another favorite family tradition. My mom has made these for every holiday as long as I can remember & they are so good. They are light & fluffy & buttery. They make any meal complete but they must be served on Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas.

Mom’s Holiday Rolls


1 package regular dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (approximately)


1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Set aside.

2. Scald milk in microwave. I put it in a 4 cup glass measuring cup & cook on high for a couple of minutes. You want it to boil but not boil over. While milk is hot, add butter, stir it a bit until the butter melts in the hot milk. (I accidentally used a whole stick of butter today & it turned out just fine.)

3. After milk & butter cools for a few minutes, stir the egg, salt & milk mixture into the yeast.

4. Using a fork, stir in sugar & 2 cups flour to form a batter.

5. Add enough additional flour to make dough easy to handle.

6. Knead dough on floured surface for five minutes. Add additional flour, if needed. Place dough in greased bowl covered with a damp cloth, in a warm place, to rise until doubled, at least 1 hour.

7. Punch dough down and shape into rolls. Place in greased 9x13 pan & cover & allow to rise again.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter & serve.

--> CONGRATS to my cute cousin, Kendall, who won a BLUE RIBBON at the fair with this recipe! I'm going to try the cloverleaf next time. He's a PRO & I’m so proud of him!! 

roasted chicken party!

What makes you feel like a Domestic Diva? For me, it's roasting 8 pounds of chicken breasts, then shredding & freezing the extra meat to create delicious dinners for my family. I do this every week or two & it gives me a head start on a few "busy night dinners".

After roasting, I freeze the chicken in 3 cup ziplocs, which is a great size for our family. I can easily put together a chicken pot pie, chicken chili, chicken garlic pizza, wild rice & chicken soup, chicken fettuccine alfredo or Mark just pulls some out of the freezer for a quick protein hit if he needs it. (He warms it up first!) The possibilities are endless & with the roasted chicken, half the work is already done.

You can season this up however you'd like. Today, I used kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, dried thyme leaves, fresh chopped rosemary, garlic powder & a few shakes of cayenne pepper.

I completely understand the "I-only-buy-boneless-skinless-chicken-breasts" philosophy. I like it that way too & I buy it boneless, skinless for things like stir-fry, fajitas, chicken parm, etc. But bone-in, skin-on is soooo much tastier for roasting. The chicken turns out more flavorful, tender and moist than the boneless variety. And, oh, the smell in your house will be divine! I roast mine low & slow but you can crank up the heat for a shorter cooking time. The skin will keep it tender if you don't overcook it.

This post is more of a cooking method than a step by step recipe to follow. You can use whatever herbs & spices you like. I keep them versatile so that the roasted chicken is nicely seasoned but can be used in almost any cuisine.

Roasted Chicken

I used 8 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
several shakes of cayenne pepper

1. Mix desired seasoning. Place chicken breasts on baking sheet, pat dry with a paper towel. Rub seasoning on front & back of chicken but mostly UNDER the skin.

2. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours or until meat thermometer measures 165 degrees.

3. Discard skin & pull chicken from bone Shred and freeze the extra chicken as desired.

 And I almost forgot to mention the cup of liquid gold that is in the bottom of the pan after you roast your chicken. Chill it so you can easily skim off the fat & freeze it in a separate ziploc with your chicken. Add the whole cupful of stock to the next thing you make that calls for chicken broth (like the chicken pot pie linked above) & you'll be boosting the flavor by about a kajillion times! You don't get that with boneless, skinless!

I'm thinking Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken Chili!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

chicken pot pie party!

Remember the frozen pot pies from the 70’s? They were a big treat at our house. I loved the individual servings in the mini pie tins & I loved that I could bake them myself. After they baked, I always tried to turn mine upside down on a plate without any of the gravy spilling out. Then I would carefully eat the very outside edge of the crust, that was usually a little burnt, still trying to keep the pie intact. Then I would stick my fork right in the middle. I can just see all of the steam coming out as I break it open to find the gravy as hot as lava & turkey, carrots, peas & potatoes. My favorite part was the gravy & the potatoes. There was something special about those little pies.

This recipe is reminiscent of those 50 cent pies but so much better. It has all of the same basic ingredients that qualify it for comfort food and it’s definitely on my list of favorites. What’s your favorite comfort food?

We'll be having this again soon with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!

Chicken Pot Pie


1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 cups cooked seasoned turkey or chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, if desired
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, if desired
Double recipe of pastry crust FOUND HERE or use 2 unbaked refrigerated pie crusts.


1. In a small saucepan, cook the cut up carrots in about a cup of boiling water. After simmering for a few minutes add the cut up potatoes & simmer for 5-7 minutes. I cook them together but the carrots take a couple of minutes longer to cook than the potatoes. You just want the carrots & potatoes to be PARTIALLY pre-cooked, since they will finish cooking while baked in the pot pie. Drain carrots & potatoes & throw in the frozen peas. The heat from the cooked carrots & potatoes will be enough to thaw the peas. Set aside.

2. In large saucepan, heat butter over low heat until melted. Add onion & celery & saute for 2 minutes. Add flour, salt & pepper. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to just a simmer. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken, vegetables, parsley & thyme.

3. Prepare pastry. Roll 2/3 of the pastry to fit the shape & size of the pan you are using. You can use 9x9 square or a 10" round pie pan. Today I used an 8x11 rectangle & had the perfect amount of crust.

4. Pour chicken mixture into pastry lined pan.

5. Roll remaining pastry into the size & shape of your pan and place over filling. Turn edges under & flute as desired. Cut slits into the top of the crust to vent.

6. Bake in 425 degree oven until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

P.S. Feel free to use a box of frozen peas & carrots or frozen mixed vegetables.

Friday, November 11, 2011

pumpkin spice kiss cookie party!

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Can you believe my husband hasn't touched the FRENCH SILK PIE I made? Have I mentioned that he is "health conscience"? I KNOW! When I first found out, it really made me question our relationship, ha! But, being a loving and supportive wife, I made him these cookies today. They are PUMPKIN spice kiss cookies; pumpkins are vegetables; vegetables are healthy. He will eat a half dozen of these & think I'm amazingly thoughtful! Everyone will be happy!

I'm whispering so he doesn't hear...These cookies are not particularly healthy. They don't even have any pumpkin in them. But they are creamy, little bites of heavenly cinnamon sweetness. Shhhh...They might even have as many grams of fat & sugar as a french silk pie. We don't know; we won't talk about it.

I got the recipe from my friend and neighbor, Mindy. Not only did she give me the recipe. she also tracked down the pumpkin spice kisses & delivered them to my door. Thanks, Mindy! Keep these kisses on your radar. I believe they are available in the Fall at Target & WalMart.

OR...EBAY...for $10 a bag! Dang!

Don't cut the kisses in half for the recipe. I just wanted to show you the goodness inside.

Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookies
click HERE to print recipe only
makes 4 dozen cookies


1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 package Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap Hershey Kisses and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until light and fluffy.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Gradually add to butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
 4. Place rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on a parchment lined or sprayed cookie sheet.
 5. Bake 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a Hershey Kiss into the center of the cookie. Move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

P.S. A reader commented below & suggested that you FREEZE the unwrapped kisses for a bit before you put them on the cookies. That way they won't melt. What a great idea! I'm going to give it a try next time. I love it when my readers share their ideas with me! Thanks!

P.S. A few people have commented that the dough is too dry. I'm not sure why that is for some,but readers below suggested to make sure your butter is softened & that your eggs are large & that your flour is not packed when measured. If yours seems too dry to shape as shown, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk. I had another reader who made them & added 3 tablespoons of molasses. She said they were YUMMY!

This is what happened to the first pan of cookies when I immediately pressed the Kisses in after baking. I swirled the melted kisses with a toothpick so the cream centers would show a bit. I let the cookies cool for a few minutes before adding the kisses on the rest & they didn't melt. I can't decide which way I liked them best, melted or kiss shaped. Happy baking!

9/24/12 update: I didn't have any kisses but wanted a sweet cinnamon treat tonight. I made these exactly as written, minus the kisses. Mixed up 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar in a separate bowl. Rolled the cookie dough into the cinnamon sugar mixture before baking, like a snickerdoodle. YUM! Here are a couple of a pics of tonight's version, soft, chewy, cinnamon sweetness!

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