Monday, December 11, 2017

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake


I have said it before and I'll say it again. I love Christmas cookies, but sometimes you just need CAKE. I have a few fun Christmas cakes here on the blog to choose from, including Egg Nog Cake , Peppermint Poke Cake and Candy Cane Bundt Cake, and now I am happy to share this great recipe with you, too.


This chocolate cake starts with a mix, and then gets doctored up with extra ingredients like pudding, sour cream and peppermint extract. It's topped with a cream cheese frosting and then sprinkled with crushed candy canes. It is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. It will look great on a Christmas buffet and be a great addition to the ubiquitous cookie tray!


Find more holiday cheer at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Hearth and Soul, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

1 box devils food cake mix
1 3.9 oz pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream (low fat is ok)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 candy canes, crushed

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding, sour cream, eggs, water, oil and peppermint extract. Mix with an electric mixer until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into a well-greased bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Allow to cool in the pan for 15-20 mins. Carefully invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely. If you aren't frosting and serving immediately, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate it.

To make the frosting, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Spread or pipe onto the cake. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Serves 12-16

Recipe Source: Tastes Better From Scratch

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mocha Peppermint Cookies


Coffee and peppermint together in a cookie. And also, chocolate. This was a brilliant idea. Not only that, but they're dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes. Beautiful, festive, delicious. These would be perfect for a cookie exchange, for giving as gifts, or for eating all to yourself. You choose. Really.


Quick note: the dough here needs ample time to chill, preferably overnight. So whip up the dough one evening, and you can bake the cookies the next day. Chilling the dough helps prevent the cookies from getting too flat in the oven. If you have a convection oven, you may want to use that setting, too. (I made these before I had the convection option, but I'll be making them again soon as an "experiment." Cookies are the best to experiment with, don't you agree?)


Find more great holiday ideas at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Home Matters, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Mocha Peppermint Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large candy canes, crushed

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts on high speed.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, instant coffee, and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes or until the dough is easy to scoop and roll.

Scoop and roll balls of dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each, into balls and place on parchment or silicon mat-lined baking sheets.

Bake the cookies at 350 for 8-9 minutes. The baked cookies will look extremely soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. They will slightly deflate as you let them cool. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Melt the chopped white chocolate in a glass bowl at 50% power in the microwave. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Dip each completely cooled cookie halfway into the white chocolate and place onto a parchment or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top of the chocolate. Repeat with the rest of the cooled cookies. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator to help the chocolate set.

Recipe Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, November 27, 2017

Eggnog Donuts


It's time to start baking! And planning holiday menus! And adding elastic to all your clothes! Seriously, though, this is such a fun time of the year to try new things and show love for family and friends by baking delicious treats. And these eggnog donuts are just the thing.


And really, donuts aren't so bad if they're BAKED, am I right? These have eggnog in both the batter and the glaze, and they are a delicious thing to wake up to, or to have mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee with, or for a bedtime snack with a big glass of milk. The possibilities are nearly endless!


These are wonderful as an addition to brunch. I served them with an egg bake and they were both a big hit. But nothing beats homemade donuts. If you don't have a donut tin, I'm sure you could find one easily and have it delivered to your house within the week. I'm just sayin'. No excuses. Make these donuts.


Find more holiday inspiration at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate.

Eggnog Donuts

Donuts:
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup Eggnog

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup Eggnog
Nutmeg for sprinkling

For the donuts, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream sugar and butter until smooth. Add egg and eggnog and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Pour batter into greased donut tins, filling each mold about 2/3 full. Bake at 325 for 12-13 minutes. Transfer donuts to a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and eggnog until no lumps remain. Dip donuts into glaze and return, right side up, to rack. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top, or sprinkle dried nutmeg on top. Makes 12 donuts.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Scandinavian Almond Bars


I am not exaggerating when I say these are one of my favorite cookies of all time. They are SO good. And SO addictive. And also, so attractive. Thin, crispy but also chewy, topped with an almond-extract laced icing, you will not be able to eat just one.


I also love that they are a different shape from other cookies. They look great on a cookie tray, and even though they're not "technically" a Christmas cookie, I tend to make them around Christmas because of that reason. They're also not fussy at all; so in a season when you want a great cookie that's not a lot of work, you can turn to these beauties!


If you're planning your Christmas cookie baking fiesta, be sure to add these lovely and delicious Scandinavian Almond Bars to the list!


For more great ideas, visit Inspire Me, Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share.

Scandinavian Almond Bars

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. milk

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup milk

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and almond extract; mix until fluffy. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt; mix well.

Divide dough into 4 pieces, and roll each one into a log about 12 inches long. Place 2 logs per cookie sheet 4 to 5 inches apart. Flatten each roll by hand until it is about 3 inches wide. Brush flattened roll with milk and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake at 325 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.

Meanwhile, prepare icing: in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth.

While the cookies are still warm, cut them crosswise at a diagonal, into slices about 1 inch wide. Cool slices on a wire rack. When cool, drizzle with almond icing.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Sweet Chili Chicken {Instant Pot}


When I served this last week, a teenager at my house said "this is my favorite experience eating chicken." That's a pretty ringing endorsement. And it was deserved - this is a great way to cook chicken - swimming in sauce in the instant pot, then finished off under the broiler to brown and crisp it up. I can imagine all kinds of other sauce options that would work well with this same method. Chicken thighs cook beautifully in the Instant Pot, and the few minutes under the broiler really makes all the difference, texture-wise.


If you want to make this more mild, leave out the crushed red pepper flakes. But even with them in, this was about the right amount of spice for my family - some of whom think ketchup is spicy. Ha!

There are many more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Sweet Chili Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup of chicken broth
3/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. crushed garlic
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Lightly rub each piece of chicken with the Cajun seasoning. In a measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Add the oil to the Instant Pot and set it for Saute. When it's hot, add the chicken a few pieces at a time and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side to lightly sear. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pot so the excess brown Cajun seasoning blends in with the broth. Stir in the sweet chili mixture. Stir and bring to a boil. Cancel the saute setting.

Add the chicken back to the pot. Secure the lid and set the pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Preheat the broiler on your oven, and then quick release the pressure when it is completed.

Transfer the chicken onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce and the honey. Generously glaze each piece with the sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds over each piece of chicken.

Broil the chicken for about 3-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and baste with any additional sauce. Serves 4-6.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Pressure Luck Cooking

Monday, November 6, 2017

Miso Meatball and Noodle Soup


It's definitely soup weather. More often than not in this transitional season, I want to eat soup. It's just so comforting, not to mention, it's warm. So I love finding new ways to prepare soup. This summer, I introduced my family to pho on a family vacation and it was a big hit. So I knew I had some room to add soup that was a little more ethnically diverse into the dinner rotation.

This is not truly pho, but it's pretty similar. You start with a great garlic and ginger base, add miso, and wonderful meatballs that are both spicy and sweet. Throw in some soba noodles and you've got a super delicious meal that's just a little different, but not "too" different, if you know what I mean.

You can make this more spicy by throwing in the jalapeno pepper earlier in the process. My family prefers things a little more tame, so those that wanted to used the pepper as a garnish.

You should be able to easily find both miso and sambal oelek in the Asian section of your grocery. I find that sometimes Target doesn't carry miso, but two other large grocery chains in my region do. It comes in a rather large package, but it lasts a while and can be frozen, too. (Need another recipe that calls for miso paste? Try these awesome Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps!)

With soups like this in my arsenal, I'm not scared of the cold weather. Bring it on! (Ok, well, don't bring it on too strong.)


Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Miso Meatball and Noodle Soup

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 cup diagonally sliced green onions, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 (1-in.) pieces ginger, thinly sliced
9 cups chicken stock
6 ounces uncooked soba noodles
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 pound lean ground pork
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 red jalapeno chile, sliced

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup green onions, garlic, and ginger; sauté 6 minutes. Add stock; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook noodles separately according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.

Combine honey, sambal oelek, soy sauce and ground pork in a small bowl. Shape pork mixture into small meatballs.

Remove ginger slices from stock mixture; discard. Stir miso into stock mixture and whisk well. Add meatballs to stock; cook 6 minutes or until done. Add noodles. Ladle soup into bowls (I needed to use a fork to get the noodles!) and sprinkle with remaining green onions, mung bean sprouts, and jalapeno chile.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, October 30, 2017

Almond Pear Cream Cheese Tart


Well, it has already snowed here in Minnesota. But that won't stop me from posting another fall dessert. I'm back with another creation using pears, the unsung hero of fall fruit. I loved this tart SO MUCH. Frankly, the crust was my favorite part, but the whole thing together was just irresistible.

A sugar cookie crust, topped with cream cheese, pears and crunchy almonds - what is not to love? I even ate this for breakfast one morning as I admitted on Instagram. I didn't even bother to peel the pears for the recipe, although the original did call for peeling. But pear peels are so thin, that it doesn't really make a difference; just adds a lot more work. I'd rather save my energy for other pursuits - like making more pear desserts.


I'm sure pears are still readily available no matter where you live, so keep celebrating fall and make this dessert!

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Almond Pear Cream Cheese Tart

Crust:
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup flour

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 cups sliced pears (about 4 medium pears)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

For the crust, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour, and mix well. Spread onto the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch round springform pan.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar until blended. (You can use the same bowl from the crust, no problem!) Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well. Spread evenly over the crust.

For the topping, toss pears with the sugar and cinnamon then arrange the pears on top of the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Loosen the sides from the pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Recipe Source: Bake or Break
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