Tuesday, January 31, 2012

peanut butter pretzel pops party!

I wanted to "up the ante" on my usual dipped pretzels for Valentines Day this year. You might remember my recipe for peanut butter balls from a couple of months ago. I combined my pb balls & dipped pretzels, added lollipop sticks & made PEANUT BUTTER PRETZEL POPS! The only question I have is..."peanut butter pretzel pops, where have you been all my life?" I think you're gonna like these too!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Pops

1 recipe of Peanut Butter Balls found HERE. Follow recipe through step 2.
16 oz. white candy coating, like CandiQuik
a bunch of mini pretzels twists
6 inch lollipop sticks

1. Using a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop, measure out your peanut butter filling and press it between 2 pretzels, positioning the lollipop stick in the middle. Freeze until the peanut butter is very firm. P.S. ya know those little nubs on the sides of the pretzels? After I took the pic below, I cut those off to make them more closely resemble a heart. If you make these, do that BEFORE you start. :)

2. Melt candy coating in microwave on 50% power at 1 minute intervals until melted & smooth.

3. Dip pretzel pops into melted candy coating and sprinkle with sprinkles. I stuck my lollipop sticks into a Styrofoam box to set up but it would have been easier just to lay the pops on waxed paper.

I also made a bunch of pretzel pops WITHOUT peanut butter just in case you have some non-peanut butter lovers.

Pin It

Non-Peanut Butter Pretzel Pops

Dip pretzels in white candy coating & place on waxed paper. Sprinkle with sprinkles & allow to set up.
Use 4 inch (smaller) lollipop sticks and sandwich the sticks between 2 dipped pretzels, using additional melted candy coating as glue.


Monday, January 23, 2012

sweet heart valentine pops party!

Click HERE to join me on Facebook for the latest updates on new recipes!

Pin It

I had so much fun making these with my little girl today! Ok, she’s 16 & she’s taller than I am & she only made 1 & then she immediately ate it. But we DID have fun! That part is true. If you have little people at your house they will LOVE these. They would be super cute for a class treat, teacher gift or a little something for your VALENTINE!

I had good intentions when I bought these candy canes in December but never got around to using them as planned. I remembered seeing this idea in Family Fun magazine last year at the dentist office. I was happy to find the instructions again HERE.

After reading the reviews, I adapted the instructions a bit & I found these to be quick & easy. I made one dozen pops in about 30 minutes.

Sweet Heart Valentine Pops

24 mini candy canes
12 6" lollipop sticks
1 cup white candy coating, like CandiQuik

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. On a parchment lined baking sheet, arrange the candy canes as hearts with the lollipop stick centered in between the two candy canes. Bake for 3 minutes. You want them to be malleable, but not melted.

2. Remove from oven & shape candy canes into hearts by pinching the the bottom of the heart into the stick and pinching the top ends together. I also pulled the edges out to make my hearts more round and full. They will be hot & you need to work fairly quickly. If the candy canes harden before you have them shaped, just stick them back in the oven for a couple of minutes. I re-heated mine a few times before I got the hang of shaping them the way I wanted them.

3. Melt candy coating in the microwave at 30 second intervals on medium power, stirring between heatings, until smooth.

Pin It

4. Spoon the melted candy coating into the center of each heart, then top with sprinkles. Cool the pops before serving or wrapping.

Pin It

P.S. If you want to do this even easier, don't soften & shape the candy canes. Just spoon the candy coating right onto the arranged candy canes & sticks. You can also make these without the lollipop sticks.

P.P.S. I've made these a bunch & they DO NOT work with candy canes made in China (purchased at The Dollar Tree). China made candy canes do not soften in the oven. I've had really good luck with the brand shown above, Spangler & also some that I bought at Target that were made in Mexico.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

apple crostata AKA flat apple pie party


I would love to be a Food Network star but you know who I really want to be? JEFFREY (Ina Garten’s husband)! He hangs out at his house all day, typing on his computer or sitting on his gorgeous front porch reading a book & The Barefoot Contessa brings him delicious & lovingly prepared food three times a day. She pours his wine & butters his bread.

I have several of Ina’s cookbooks & I always have great results with her recipes. She’s not my favorite Food Network star to watch but the lady can cook! Today I made this beautiful Apple Crostata from Ina Garten & it was so much better than apple pie. I increased the ingredients for the cinnamon sugar topping because that's my favorite part.

I'm sure Ina is super nice in real life but her air of sophistication sometimes comes across as snobbish, in my opinion. The way she tells her viewers to “only use the best ingredients” bugs me. Duh, Ina, I'm going to use the “best ingredients” I can afford. But I’m not going to have live lobsters shipped to me to make your seafood bisque. And I don’t have an orchard outside my East Hampton Estates mansion or organic farmer’s markets in my small town. So yeah, if my tomato is a few days past ripe, I’m still going to use it.

Disclaimer: I’m probably just jealous. Ina is giving us under-achieving wives a bad name. We make our husbands go to work everyday & force them to microwave their own leftovers & butter their own bread after a hard day. If we catch them relaxing with a book, we nag that the Christmas lights are still up. Yep, jealous! I want to be Jeffrey!

Apple Crostata AKA Flat Apple Pie


for the pastry:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2-3 tablespoons ice water

for the filling:

1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large) *see note on step 5
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced


1. For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water and keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass.

2. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

4. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the pastry to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

5. For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. I actually cut my 1/8's in half because I wanted to make sure my apples cooked thoroughly. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. *I like to use a mix of tart & sweet apples so I used 1 of each: Granny Smith, Fuji & Jonagold. It was perfect! Toss the apple chunks with the orange zest. You won't taste the orange zest at all, but it brightens the flavors of the apples.

6. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

7. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples.

8. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.

9. Bake the crostata for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. I had to cover the edges with foil for the last 10 minutes because they browned too quickly. Allow to cool.

10. Serve warm or at room temperature with a little caramel sundae, dusted with cinnamon on the side.
Note: If you don't have a food processor, just use a pastry cutter. I don't usually use my food processor for pastry because my food processor is small. But this recipe worked perfectly in it & made it SO easy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

chocolate chubbies party!


Wow, what a great reason to immediately break any New Year's resolutions that involve cutting sugar and/or dieting (neither of which are my resolutions, thankfully). These are sinful; I know I’m a bad influence. This one is definitely a top tier recipe!

It’s a cookie! It’s a brownie! No wait, it’s a CHOCOLATE CHUBBIE! See that crackly, crinkly top, it’s my favorite part of a brownie, in cookie form! Whatever it is, the 3 kinds of chocolate, pecans AND walnuts involved are calling my name.

I adapted the recipe from THIS COOKBOOK: and the author, Sarabeth Levine, has a famous bakery in New York City. You can see her original recipe for Chocolate Chubbies right there on the amazon page. Read the reviews; this cookbook is a WINNER! I checked it out at the library to preview it & I love it too!

My sister introduced me to this delicious dark chocolate & it's perfect for the 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate called for in the recipe. It's Kroger's Private Selection Brand & is also available at Smith's grocery store. It comes in a bag & is sold right by the chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chubbies

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
9 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 62% cacao), finely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped walnuts


1. Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Put the butter, the 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate & 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on low power for 1 minute, stir. Cook at additional 30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted & smooth. Let stand, until cooled slightly, but still warm, about 5 minutes.
3. Whip the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and lightly thickened, about 30 seconds.

4. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla. Whip until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the tepid chocolate, making sure it is completely incorporated.

6. Change to the paddle attachment and reduce the mixer speed to low.

7. Gradually sift the flour, baking powder & salt into the egg mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, pecans, and walnuts, making sure the chunky ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough will be somewhat soft.

8. I used a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop & used 2 scoops per cookie. Portion the batter onto the prepared pans, placing the cookies about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake the cookies immediately—if you wait, they won’t be shiny after baking. Bake, switching the position of the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking, until the cookies are set around the edges (if you lift a cookie from the pan, the edges should release easily, even if the center of the cookie seems underdone), 12 to 15 minutes. Do not overbake.

9. Cool on pan for a few minutes & remove to cooling rack. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, with the layers separated by parchment paper, for up to 3 days.

Friday, January 6, 2012

pizza party!

Pin It


It’s PIZZA FRIDAY! A day I love to celebrate!

I honestly can’t remember the last time we ordered take-out pizza. I have nothing against take-out pizza, in fact I love it, especially Pizza Shack in Edinburgh, Indiana! For the most part, I just prefer to make pizza at home, where everything is fresh & everyone can get it the way they like it. I get my crispy crust & browned cheese, Monica gets her selected vegi toppings & Mark gets dinner to his stomach, hot out of the oven, instead of after the pizza takes a car ride.

This crust is simple & quick. It doesn’t require rising & it’s delicious. The sauce couldn’t be easier either. This recipe is from my 1986 Better Crocker cookbook. We make lots of different homemade pizza but this is one of the classics at our house!

Two tips for homemade pizza: Hot oven & pre-bake the crust before you add the toppings!

Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large mixing bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients; beat vigorously with a spoon 25 strokes. Let rest in the bowl 5 minutes.

Pizza Sauce

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion or 1 Tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Stir all ingredients for sauce together & set aside.


1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
Desired toppings: I like pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, green onions, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh rosemary & shredded parmesan.

1. Prepare Pizza Dough. Prepare Sauce. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. With this recipe I make one pizza on a a 15" PIZZA STONE. Lightly spray stone with cooking spray & toss a little flour across it.

3. Pat dough to the very edge forming the crust w/ floured hands. For a thinner crust or if you don't have a Pizza Stone, divide the dough into half & pat each half into 11" circle on a greased cookie sheet or 12 inch pizza pans with floured hands. "Dimple" the dough with your fingertips. This helps it hold flavor & also keeps it from bubbling up when you prebake the crust.

4. Optional: Drizzle dough with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil & sprinkle with 1 sprig of chopped fresh rosemary.
5. Bake dough for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove crust from oven.

6. Spread the sauce over the pre-baked crust.

7. Arrange cheese and desired toppings over sauce. I like to do sauce, half the cheese, meat & vegetables, then the other half of the cheese. Some picky people don't like pepperoni or mushrooms or black olives!

8. Then top with a sprinkle of Parmesan and more fresh rosemary or a bit of dried oregano or this AWESOME McCormick Pizza Seasoning Grinder. It's got the perfect blend of garlic, red pepper, onion, red bell pepper, etc. I love a sprinkle of this on my pizza before it goes in the oven.

9. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

10. Since I like my crust crunchy & my cheese browned I slide my whole pizza off the stone directly onto the oven rack for a few more minutes until it's nice & crusty. Then I slide the stone back under the pizza to remove it from the oven. I call this my ninja moves because it's freaking dangerous, the stone weighs a ton, the pizza is at least 450 degrees & the stone is probably even hotter so be careful if you do this!

Congrats on making it through the week! Friday is worth celebrating!

Pin It

Come share in the tomato love at the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day, sponsored this week by Pizza Home Chef. Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

salsa party!


If you know me very well you know that MEXICAN food is my very favorite! I love everything about it & I could eat it everyday. Sadly, I’m the only one in my family that feels that way. They like it but they don’t LOVE it or crave it on a daily basis like I do. And, I adore Mexican restaurants. I know they are Americanized & not always authentic but what’s not to love? Seriously, where else can you get free chips & salsa?!

This recipe will rival your local Mexican restaurant’s. Don’t be alarmed by the canned tomatoes. I almost guarantee that your local Mexican dive uses canned tomatoes, which are cooked, for their salsa (not to be confused with pico de gallo, which is made with fresh, uncooked tomatoes). My neighbor told me about the tomatoes shown below & I used them for the first time today. They gave the salsa a hint of sweetness, which I liked. I usually just use regular old canned tomatoes. You can also buy them with a bit of lime juice & cilantro or green chilies. Use whatever canned tomatoes you prefer.

It is easy to adjust the spice & heat in salsa. If you don’t like cilantro or cumin, leave it out. If you like it hotter, add more jalapeƱos, leave in some of the seeds or add a can of Rotel. To add another layer of flavor add a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. If you have fresh tomatoes feel free to substitute.

Remember that when you are cutting fresh jalapenos, you need to handle them with plastic gloves. I just grab a sandwich bag like this. They will burn your skin if you don't & it hurts for a day, trust me!



2 14.5 oz. cans whole tomatoes, drained
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded & deveined (I used 2 & they were on the large side)
2 cloves garlic, feel free to substitute garlic powder or garlic from a jar
1 handful of cilantro leaves (the stems can be bitter)
½ of a large white or yellow onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 squeeze of fresh lime juice


I have a small food processor & I like my tomatoes to be a bit chunkier than the rest of the ingredients so I process the tomatoes separately. Puree tomatoes then pour into a glass mixing bowl. Puree remaining ingredients together. I like the jalapenos, onions, garlic & cilantro to be smoother than the tomatoes. Then stir the smoothly pureed pepper/onion mixture into the pureed tomatoes. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Salsa will get thicker and more flavorful if refrigerated overnight. Makes 4 cups of salsa.

If you don't have a food processor you can use a blender.

Tips for restaurant-type salsa: They usually puree the ingredients quite a bit smoother than mine is. They don't usually add cumin or cilantro but I love them both so I add it to mine. And I think they use canned jalapenos instead of fresh.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...