Easy Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

Easy Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur


I’m not a big drinker when it comes to alcohol. A beer or a glass or two of wine every few weeks and the occasional vodka and lime-aid when I’m feeling nostalgic (my stepmother loved them back in the day), but straight hard liquor and I don’t get along. Except in my younger days, when we were all stupid about booze, I’ve never understood the drinking to get drunk idea. I mean really… who LIKES a pounding headache and hanging over the toilet for hours? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

One thing I do love however, is sweet creamy drinks. Kahlua and cream? I’ll take one! Baileys Irish Cream, straight up? Yep. It’s a weird “I love this in the middle of Winter” thing for me. The problem is affording the bottle. So, years back, I looked for and found about 900000 recipes for it. While it’s not exactly like Baileys, it’s a nice substitute when you either can’t afford the real thing or want something fresher and giftable. This can be poured into small flasks or bottles to make great stocking stuffers for the adults on your list. I’ve worked on this for years and now have it the way i like it. Feel free to change up some of the basics to appeal to you; less alcohol, more if you like a stiff drink, less or more chocolate of coffee, etc, etc, etc.

You also can’t get much easier than this recipe. Technically, you use a blender to mix it all up. but if you don’t have a blender, you could conceivably do this using a whisk. Just make sure you gets the eggs fully incorporated by adding liquids slowly and mixing well. Not matter how it’s done though, this takes five minutes. Tops. And the reward for that time is a really delicious creamy drink!

You know the drill… 🙂

Easy Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

  • 1 cup middle of the line whiskey (preferably Irish Whiskey if you want to be authentic. I have also used brandy at times to change it up. You could even use run if you’re feeling froggy)
  • 1 14ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup (something like Hersheys; the kind you would use in milk)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  1. Pour all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend. See how easy that was?
  3. Keep stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Best served cold.

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Easy Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur 2

White Trash Dip (Recipe Re-Do)

White Trash Dip

White Trash Dip

Lovely name, ehh? But since when did I ever try to convince you that I was classy, prim and proper? You love me like I am, right? Low class, strange, and always doing my best (such as that may be) to give you a giggle.

The first time I made this dip was not long after I started the blog. Lately, I’ve been getting quite a few people coming to it and while that makes me happy, it has, yet again, one of those photos that makes me cringe, cry copious tears of embarrassment, and

want to gouge my eyeballs out so that I don’t have to see it again. Yes, it’s that bad. I love the post I made to go with it because it’s one of my funnier ones (has cuss words; you’re forewarned) but I know that the photo makes baby kitten throw themselves off cliffs. So, it was time to remake this one. Partly because I’ve changed it a little over the years and partly, well, that photo *cries more*

This is one of the worlds easiest dips to make. Why is it called white trash, you ask? Because it’s fairly cheap to make and uses canned chili 😀 and because this is so not something you’d serve at a classy party with champagne and caviar. This is more beer, chips and family and friends you love gathered together. Perfect for a game or for family movie night, for a Christmas buffet, what have you.

This is creamy, meaty, a little bit spicy (easy to adjust), cheesy, great for digging into when you have the munchies.

You know the drill…. 🙂

White Trash Dip

  • 1 15 ounce can of your favorite chili
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced jalapeno (omit if you use the typically spicy chorizo, unless you really like the bite) plus extra for garnish
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage, cooked and crumbled (you can also use bacon, which is how I originally posted it)
  • 4 green onions, plus extra for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2 quart serving dish (I used  a souffle dish). Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, then scoop into the serving dish. Smooth top.
  2. Bake at 350 until browned on top and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with green onions and jalapeno. Serve hot.
White Trash Dip

White Trash Dip

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Nineteen Delicious Thanksgiving (and post Thanksgiving) Recipes

Thanksgiving Collage



 

Hewwo! I wanted to toss out some recipes from the blog that are perfect for Thanksgiving (or any other day, but we’ll concentrate on Thanksgiving for now 😛 ) Enjoy, have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving day, don’t eat too much and enjoy the company of those you love! <3

Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

This is definitely my most popular mac & cheese recipe and with good reason. It serves a large crowd, so it’s perfect for this time of year and it tastes amazing! Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes
I just posted these yesterday, but I wanted to make sure they got into this compilation. These are the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had or made and I’ve been making potatoes for longer than some of you have been alive! Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad
This Chilled Caprese Tortellini Salad is utterly delicious and so easy to put together. It gives you a side dish that doesn’t take a lot of work on a day when all you DO is work!

Orange Marmalade Brown Sugar Ham-001

We all totally love this Orange Marmalade Brown Sugar Ham Unless I’m in the mood to experiment, this is the only way I make ham anymore. It is great hot, room temp and makes excellent leftovers for sandwiches on a hearty thick sliced bread.

Brown Butter Blueberry Maple Cornbread

Brown Butter Blueberry Maple Cornbread

Speaking of bread :-P, this Brown Butter Blueberry Maple Cornbread may not be the type you’d make a sandwich with, but it’s oh so nice to have around!

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

Loaded Baked Potato Bread

On the other hand, one of my favorites for the holidays is my Loaded Baked Potato Bread. You can make this a couple days ahead of time and it’s such a moist, sturdy bread, that all you’ll need to do is give it a gentle reheating and it will be wonderful with dinner and make great leftover turkey or ham sandwiches later.

Oatmeal Rolls

I know this is a horrid photo; it’s from one of my oldest posts, but these Oatmeal Rolls are amazing! These are my family’s favorite rolls, ones that I turn to anytime I want rolls instead of loaf bread. You can’t tell the oats are in there, but they add so much flavor and moistness. I always recommend these for beginning yeast bakers.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing

I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t love this Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Icing . It’s always a hit and a nice change from all the pumpkin and pecan everything this time of year.

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

Or, if you’re like me, you love the flavor of fruit pies, but you hate that pesky making the crust part? Well, forget crust… use streusel! 😛 My Old Fashioned Apple Crisp is beyond easy and one of my favorite desserts. I’ve made it multiple times in the last few weeks.

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

Or if you want something even more old fashioned and homey, Wednesday night after all the other prep is done, throw this in the oven while you watch some TV and relax. Pound cakes always go over well and this Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake is one of the best you’ll find!

Quick & Easy Turkey, Bacon & Cheese Chowder 2

You and I both know you’re going to have leftover turkey, right? So what better way to use it up than in this Quick And Easy Turkey Bacon And Cheese Chowder ? This is fairly quick, really easy and so darn creamy and delicious, you’ll want to swim in it.

Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce

Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Creamy Vanilla Butter Sauce

If you’re looking for another apple type dessert, you can’t beat my Worlds Best Apple Spice Cake With Vanilla Butter Sauce. Yes, I said worlds best. Would I lie to you?

Cranberry Apple Cake

Cranberry Apple Cake

I made this Cranberry Apple Cake for the first time last year and it immediately became a family favorite! I can NOT say enough good things about this cake. Please make it or I’ll cry!

Creamy, Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas

Creamy, Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas

Here is another recipe for that leftover turkey. I know, the recipe says Creamy, Cheesy White Chicken Enchiladas, but I think you would have figured out for yourself that turkey can be substituted for the chicken, right? :-p

Spiced Pumpkin Latte

Spiced Pumpkin Latte

And of course you need something to drink, correct? This Spiced Pumpkin Latte is a nice warming drink with the perfect flavors of the season. You could also…ahem… make this a bit more adult with a shot of something in it. Just sayin’.

Decadent Extra Creamy Pumpkin Pie In A Cornmeal Crust

Decadent Extra Creamy Pumpkin Pie In A Cornmeal Crust

It’s Thanksgiving- you have to have pumpkin pie. It’s the law in all 57 states and 9,433 countries. So, if you’re going to have pumpkin pie, make sure it’s the best. This one- Decadent Extra Creamy Pumpkin Pie In A Cornmeal Crust definitely qualifies.

Deep Dish Pecan Pie

I’ve often wondered what makes certain things holiday traditions, but pecan pie is seriously up there on the list of things you have to have. Did I mention that whole “it’s the law” thing yet? While this isn’t the one I have made for many years, this Deep Dish Pecan Pie is awesome. It makes enough for one heck of a big crowd and isn’t quite as sweet and rich as the typical pecan pie. If you search through here, you can find the pecan pie I usually make. I just couldn’t bring myself to post it because it has to be in the record books as one of the worst photos ever taken of something that is actually utterly delicious 😛

Two last recipes for the leftovers for you.
Cheesy Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

I adore these Cheesy Chicken Fajita Quesadillas . I came up with them earlier this year when I wanted something crispy yet gooey. Turkey would work just fine in here.

And then there is….

Cheesy Chicken And Chorizo Enchiladas

Cheesy Chicken And Chorizo Enchiladas

these Cheesy Chicken And Chorizo Enchiladas. These are great if you want a bit more spice than the other ones I posted. Soooooo good!

So there you have it. 2015’s Thanksgiving picks. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and know that I totally adore all of you! Well, not YOU, cause you deleted and blocked me on facebook recently for no reason other than you are friends with a woman I can’t stand and you are a follower. 😛 But everyone else? Have a great Thanksgiving! (Sorry; I couldn’t resist that last bit, lol)
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Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes



Confession time again. As they say confession is good for the soul, my soul should be doing great by now, ehh? So here goes.

I don’t normally care for mashed potatoes. I know they are one of the American iconic dishes, they use potatoes and Lord knows I love potatoes and they are a traditional side dish to so many meals, especially Thanksgiving. But they just aren’t usually a favorite. I think it’s a textural sensory issue more than anything.

But with these potatoes, I may have to make an exception. While I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever think of it, a month or so ago, it popped into my head that as much as I love sour cream and onion potato chips, why not try it in mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving? So I did a smaller test batch to try it out and I am so very definitely making them this way for Thanksgiving dinner, sensory issues be darned.

These mashed potatoes are creamy and buttery with just enough sour cream and onion flavor to make it interesting. If you want a stronger flavor profile, add a couple of ounces more cream cheese. These are rather like a loaded baked potatoes, but creamy. Oh, so good. They are quick to pull together and as with any mashed potatoes, if you want to make these for the holiday dinner, just make them the day before, cover tightly with foil, refrigerate, then heat them in the oven or even a slow cooker the next day. This can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, quintupled, sextupletted… ok, I’ll stop now. Sorry.

These are NOT diet food, so don’t go read the recipe and faint, please. 😀

You know the drill… get to cookin!

Mrs. Cupcake, who is going to go eat some more potatoes.

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 to 7 medium potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp, divided
  • 4 ounces (half a container) whipped sour cream and onion cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • one green onion, thinly sliced
  1. Wash, peel and cube the potatoes. Place in a pot; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then turn down to medium and let cook until a fork easily pierces through a larger chunk. Remove from heat, drain into a colander and set aside for a minute.
  2. In the same pot, combine half of the butter (1/4 cup), cream cheese, milk, salt (use the smaller amount first. You can always add more salt, but you can’t take it back out) and pepper. Place over the still warm burner and let sit just long enough to take the chill off of the milk, about 2 minutes or so.
  3. Dump the potatoes into the pot and mash well. Then use a beater to whip them into a state of frenzied creaminess. See how easy that was?
  4. Spoon into your serving dish; dot with the remaining butter (if you don’t use it all, that’s fine), sprinkle with the sliced green onion and ground black pepper. Enjoy!!
  5. If you want to make them ahead of time, just spoon them into an oven safe serving dish, cover and refrigerate. Set them out the next morning, a couple of hours before dinner, then about 30 minutes before dinner, heat them (covered if you don’t want them to brown, uncovered if you do) in a 350 oven until hot all the way through.

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Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

 

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake



Twas the week before Thanksgiving and all over the internet, were recipes for pumpkin and pecan and chocolate and all sorts of heavy desserts….

Yes, I’m well aware that that didn’t rhyme at all and didn’t even have a decent rhythm to it, but by the time I typed out “Twas the week before Thanksgiving”, my brain had died out. I tend to take thinking minute by minute, obviously.

Seriously though, I figured I would give all of you a recipe for something a little lighter, something citrusy and not bogged down with 5000 calories. Mind you, if you’re anything like me, it just means one MORE dessert to eat during the holidays, not one DIFFERENT dessert. There is no way I can turn down my pecan pie or pumpkin pie or berry pie. So, I join the throngs of Americans who spend the later hours of Thanksgiving sleeping under a table somewhere, fork in hand, whipped cream smears on my chin and a happy smile on my face.

This cake is so easy to throw together and it really is such a nice change from the heavier things this time of year. The cake itself is moist, with a mild taste of both almond and lemon, along with the gentle crunch of sliced almonds on top. I got the original recipe from the cookbook “Luscious Lemon Desserts”. I changed it in that it didn’t have the almonds on it, I used lemon oil rather than lemon extract, which I don’t care for as it adds a bitter flavor to foods in my opinion, I added more vanilla as well as almond extract in the cake andddddd added a couple tablespoons of actual lemon juice to give it a very mild tartness. All in all, this was delicious and something I can see making year round.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon oil (if you absolutely have to sub lemon extract, use 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup almond paste, room temp
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup thin sliced almonds
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a greased 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper, then grease and flour the paper (or use a flour/oil combination baking spray). Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In another small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, lemon juice, lemon oil, and extracts
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the room temp almond paste and the butter. If it doesn’t beat well at first, do what I did- get a potato masher and mush the dickens out of it. It worked great. 😀 Beat in the sugar until fluffy.
  5. Once the sugar, butter and almond paste are nicely blended, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended.
  6. Alternate adding in the flour mix and the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour), beating just until well mixed each time.
  7. Spoon the batter carefully over the almonds in the pan, then spread it evenly.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan, on a rack for fifteen minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a plate to finish cooling.
  9. When cool, sprinkle the top generously with powdered sugar and cut into wedges to serve.

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Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

Elegant & Easy Lemon Almond Cake

 

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread



I am a Thanksgiving appetizer junkie.  By the time I finish cooking the actual meal, I am so filled up on appetizers that I have no interest in dinner. Of course, the taste testing I just HAVE to do *innocent smile* as I cook doesn’t help either. Mind you, none of this stops me from loading up a full plate just in case. I then eat three bites, cover the plate and become a total turkey pig a few hours later.

But nothing matches appetizers for me. I love small bites, love being able to pick and choose from nibbles of fun finger foods. One thing I particularly love is cheese. Combine that with what all of you know is one of my downfalls, something creamy, and I become a total glutton. Many years ago, I saw a recipe somewhere or another for Boursin cheese and just had to give it a try. The rest is history. Now I make it each Thanksgiving and Christmas. The original recipe has changed much over the years and I don’t even make it as per the recipe anymore.

This cheese is so darn good! If you love creamy spreads, you’ll love it. It goes great on crackers, veggies, and one way I love to use it to stuff chicken or pork chops with it. I’m a total peasant myself; this cheese spread and some Ritz crackers and I’m in heaven. Add in a glass of wine and yeah, baby, I’m good! 😀

This goes together so quickly you’ll think you missed a step. The most time consuming part; all of three minutes or so, is finely chopping the green onions and the garlic. Such a workout. :-p Then just put it into a pretty serving bowl, set out crackers and others dippers and watch your family and guests go crazy for it. You’re welcome. 😀

You know the drill….. <3

 Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup good quality Parmesan Cheese (not the grated stuff you sprinkle on spaghetti)
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced green onion (about 1.5 green onions should do it)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon Fine Herbes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (do NOT use more without taste testing. This is a simple mixture and easy to over salt)
  1.  In a medium bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat well on medium speed until creamy and fluffy. Scrape bowl once, and beat for another minute or so.
  2. Add in all the rest of the ingredients. Beat well to combine. Give it a small taste test for salt and seasoning. Keep in mind the saltiness of any dippers you may use before adding more salt to the cheese.
  3. Spoon into a serving bowl; smooth top. Serve immediately or refrigerate until about half an hour before serving time.

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Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

Creamy Homemade Boursin Cheese Spread

 

Maple Butter Pecan Pie

Maple Butter Pecan Pie

Maple Butter Pecan Pie



I’m totally ready to get started with Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes. Hopefully, you’re totally ready to get those recipes, cause it’s probably the vast majority of what I’ll be posting for a while. 😀

I sometimes think to myself that I wouldn’t be as enamored of the holiday season if it fell in Summer. I mean… “let’s go grill out some chicken for Thanksgiving dinner” or “how about we make some nice cold ice cream to serve on Christmas”?? Those just don’t have the same ring to them, even though I’m well aware that it’s only on this half of the world that is deep into Autumn and Winter when Thanksgiving and Christmas hit. But I’m one of those people who gets sad if it isn’t bitter cold on both days. I want cozy, homey, preferably snowy. Plus, cooking a large meal in the oven and making the house a sauna when it’s not cold out kinda sucks.

I already have two pecan pies up here on the blog. But one can never have too many pecan pies, am I right? I rather like pecan pie, obviously. My husband isn’t fond of it. Yet I let him stay around anyway. Go figure.

I wanted to change up this years pecan recipe for the blog. So when I saw this in an old cooking magazine I have, I had to give it a try. I absolutely love real maple anything and I knew from the ingredients in this that it would be good. It came with it’s own pie crust recipe, but I forgot to get some photos of it, so I’ll post that separately next time I use it. Meanwhile, just use your own favorite 9 inch pie crust; even a store bought one is fine if you swing that way.

This was a delicious pie. Nice glazed looking pecans on top (the recipe called for pecan halves, but I prefer chopped. You do you.), a filling that wasn’t overly goopy nor overly sweet, but has a subtle maple edge to it. It IS pecan pie however; don’t go into this not expecting very sweet 🙂 I love to serve my own piece of pie simply; just the pie, gently warmed, with a small puddle of heavy cream poured over it. Serve this with strong tea or coffee or a glass of milk for the kiddos.

You know the drill… <3

Maple Butter Pecan Pie

  • 9 inch pie crust
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups toasted pecan halves (I used more like just 1 cup because I prefer a higher ratio of filling to pecans)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten (have them standing by in a large measuring cup)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a 9 inch pie pan with the pie crust; crimp as desired. Gently cover the crust with foil, making sure to press it snugly onto the sides. Dump about a cup or so of either dry beans or uncooked rice onto the foil (you can let these cool afterward and save them in a ziploc bag to use the same way again); spread evenly. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes; until it is set, but not browned at all. Remove from oven, take the foil off and turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
  2. In a medium pot, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup and salt. Cooking, stirring frequently, just until warmed and the sugar has melted.
  3. Slowly drizzle some of the warmed sugar mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. You want to temper the yolks, but not scramble them by adding hot liquid to it too quickly. Do it nice and slow. When you have about half the sugar mix incorporated into the eggs, whisk the eggs into the pot containing the rest of the sugar mix. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Sprinkle the pecans over the bottom of the crust. Carefully pour the sugar/egg mixture on top of the pecans.
  5. Bake the pie at 325 for 35 to 45 minutes, until the filling is puffed (it will settle back down as it cools) and just off center looks set. It’s ok if there is still some jiggle right in the middle. That will firm as it cools.

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Maple Butter Pecan Pie

Maple Butter Pecan Pie

Cranberry White Chocolate Amaretto Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Amaretto Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Amaretto Oatmeal Cookies



I have a confession to make. *Takes a deep breath and sobs* No Amaretto was harmed in the making of this post. I lied!!! It’s just almond extract!!! *Throws myself at the mercy of the courts…. and cookie eaters. But, in my defense, how would Cranberry, White Chocolate and Almond Extract have sounded as a title? It needed excitement, pizzazz, oomph! Amaretto is exciting! Fine, maybe not so much, but you get my drift. So, when you make these cookies, just don’t tell anyone that the almond flavor is from almond extract and not amaretto. It will be our little secret. You, me and the 3 other people who actually read my blog. :-p

Now on to my whining weather report. WHAT HAPPENED TO AUTUMN!!!!??? It disappeared!! It’s the first week in November and I had to turn the A/C on last night because it was too hot in here to sleep comfortably. Who turned off the cold?! It is NOT, I repeat, NOT supposed to be 80 degrees during the day in November; not even in Kentucky. And other states that allow that nonsense need to stop it right now.

Because I said so.

On that note (as I watch two of my three readers back away slowly), let’s move on to the cookies.

I loved these. And they got the kid approved thumbs up too, which is always nice. One would think that any kid would give a thumbs up to cookies, but nope, not mine. With me having been baking all of their lives (heck, most of MY life) and running a food blog, they are more particular and have higher standards than the “normal” children. There is nothing more humorous than getting a verbose critique from a seven year old- “These are good momma, but they could be chewier/sweeter/crunchier”… whatever the specific food should be.

These have a nice nutty flavor from the toasted almonds. I deliberately toasted these a little browner than I usually do because I wanted a nuttier flavor. It worked wonderfully. So when you toast the almonds, get them to a nice medium brown color. Just make sure to give them a stir in the pan once to make sure they brown evenly. The cranberries added a nice tartness to the cookies and the white chocolate a creamy sweetness. Since these have oats and cranberries in them, feel free to eat them for breakfast. They’re good for you *coughcough*! Honest Injun! Even with the tablespoon of almond extract in these, the almond flavor is still fairly mild, so go ahead and add a teaspoon more if you want an extra punch of flavor.

You know the drill… 🙂

Cranberry White Chocolate Amaretto Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  •  2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (add an extra teaspoon if you want more almond flavor) almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (if you REALLY want to punch up the flavor, toast your oats for about 6 minutes or so at 350. Just make sure to stir once and also to let them cool COMPLETELY before adding them to the dough.)
  • 1 12 ounce package white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted at 350 until medium brown
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, at medium speed using a hand mixer cream together the butter, the brown sugar and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Scrape the bowl down and add the eggs and egg yolk. Stir in the vanilla extract and the almond extract. Beat just until blended.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture. Stir in (use a nice heavy wooden spoon) the oats, cranberries, white chocolate and toasted almonds. Make sure to dig down there to the bottom of the bowl and stir so that you don’t have parts of the dough with no add ins in it.
  5. Make rounded tablespoons of the dough and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 12 to 14 minutes; 12 if you want slightly chewier, 14 if you want crispier.  If, by chance, the dough is too soft to work with, cover the dough and throw it in the fridge for maybe 30 minutes, then proceed.
  6. Let cool on the pan for 2 to 3 minutes to give them a chance to firm up, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
  7. FYI- this dough freezes well. I made just part of the batch and have the rest frozen to use closer to Christmas.
Cranberry White Chocolate Amaretto Oatmeal Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Amaretto Oatmeal Cookies

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Easy Spiced Applesauce Oatmeal Quick Bread

 

Easy Spiced Applesauce Oatmeal Quick Bread 1



It’s FINALLY starting to get chilly during the day here. Am I the only weirdo who does a cheer for that? We’ve been able to leave the windows open and get fresh air, but it’s been warm during the day and only cooled off at night. Now, I had to close all but one window and it’s 66 in the house; a bit chilly, but nothing that socks and a sweater don’t take care of. I’m ready for comfort food weather; for nesting inside with a cup of tea and a blanket over my lap. I’m ready to be standing in front of the wood burning stove, listening to the crackling wood. I want to breathe in crisp air that smells of coming snow.

Ok, enough rhapsodizing. Yes, I know. Another apple recipe. But how can I resist? It’s apple season and they taste so good this time of year before they get shoved into cold storage! While I’ve said before that I have the type of cooking personality that doesn’t always pay attention to season- chili in August, anyone, Pumpkin bread in April?, there are some things that simply begged to be made at specific times of the year.

My husband picked up a handful of gorgeous Gala apples about a week ago and I held back one for this bread. The original recipe for applesauce oatmeal bread that I got from the King Arthur website didn’t call for fresh apples, but I couldn’t resist. That recipe also didn’t call for raisins or crystallized ginger or as much spice or wheat germ or toasting the nuts. In a nutshell (see what I did there? Huh, huh huh? 😛 ), it was pretty boring. Not anymore. My seven year old told me I need to make this bread every day because, “it’s soooo good, momma!”. High praise from a little boy for something that is not overly sweet.

This bread is nice and moist. With applesauce, diced apples and a small amount of oil, it was bound to be. Add in the spices, raisins, toasted nuts, toasted wheat germ, and crystallized ginger and this is actually both quite tasty AND not totally bad for you. It goes together quickly. Just keep in mind… “Mise En Place”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; having what you need already measured out and near your work space helps so much. When I don’t do this, that’s the times when I forget to add something. Don’t be me. 😛

You know the drill… get to cooking!

Easy Spiced Applesauce Oatmeal Quick Bread

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider (you could sub apple juice concentrate)
  • 1 cup diced apple (one medium apple)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oats (NOT the instant crap)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (if you prefer a sweeter bread, feel free to use sweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans (toast for ten minutes in a 350 degree oven, then cool.)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ ( you can sprinkle them over the nuts and toast them in the same pan with the pecans, but watch carefully; the wheat germ can burn easily)
  • 3 tablespoons diced crystallized ginger
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla extract and boiled cider (or apple juice concentrate). Add in the raisins and diced apple.
  2. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and the spices. Mix with the wet ingredients, stirring until just barely combined.
  3. Add in the oats, applesauce, pecan/wheat germ mixture and diced ginger. Stir until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with some oats to make it purty 😛
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool in the pan set on a rack for ten minutes, then turn it out onto the rack to finish cooling. Serve this warm with butter and jam or maybe some honey butter.

Easy Spiced Applesauce Oatmeal Quick Bread 3Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

Bon Appétit/ALDI $10.00 Challenge (Spicy Samosa Dinner Pie & Creamy Cucumber & Onion Salad)

Spicy Samosa Dinner Pie 4Creamy Cucumber Onion Salad 1



A couple of months ago, I was offered the opportunity to do a challenge for Bon Appétit and ALDI. Since Bon Appétit is one of my favorite magazines and web sites and I shop frequently at ALDI, it was a perfect fit for me. The challenge was to, like their resident chef did, to feed a family of four for under $10.00 dollars, using mainly ALDI ingredients. As a home cook who is always on a budget, that sounded cool to me.
A few years ago, I was under the impression that Aldi was a store that was limited in products, was all generic, didn’t carry GOOD products, etc. I have met many people who have thought the same. We all couldn’t have been more wrong! ALDI was started in 1961 in Germany (that, by the way, still shows as you can find a good amount of German products there, which is wonderful for those, like me, who lived in Germany at one time and still miss it!) and at this point, they have over 1400 stores in 32 states and are a major employer of more than 20,000 people. ALDI manages to maintain its low prices in a variety of ways- 1) Volume Purchasing. They don’t have 100 aisles and a stock of 20,000 items. They run fairly small and have an average of 1300 different items per store, running the gamut from fresh produce to meats to frozen goods to staples to some health and beauty products. Many of the things can’t be found elsewhere and are delicious. I recently bought some French Onion Soup in their frozen section that was wonderful to just heat and eat on a night when I didn’t feel like cooking. 2) They have their own brands. While you can find specials in there that are name brand, the majority of their products are their own brands and are tested, making them just as good, if not better, than the pricier name brand products. 3) Special Buys- ALDI has weekly special buys. These can include certain food products, small kitchen appliances there (I got a panini press there a few years back for under $20 dollars that we still use!) and seasonal items. ALDI’s is a blast to go to near Christmas. That whole German Christmas spirit comes out full force! And, 4) they are very definitely no frills. Not in a bad way, just not fancy. You won’t go there and find ladies hawking samples of the newest food craze, nor does ALDI have a bank or a pharmacy. This helps you get in and out without being distracted by 900 other things AND it allows them to save you some hard earned cash. Plus, at ALDI, you aren’t paying for them to supply you with things like cheap plastic bags that break if you put more than half a pound of food in them. You can either bring your own bags, which from what I’ve seen, is what most people do, or you can buy good old fashioned paper bags from them for 6 cents apiece. When it comes to the grocery carts, there is no teenage boy going out and gathering them up. The carts are made so that you insert a quarter in the slot of a cart that is attached to all the rest. That frees the cart, you shop, then when you’re done, reattach the cart and out pops your quarter. I like to use this as a lesson for my boys in paying it forward each time by leaving the cart there with the quarter in it for someone else to use. It’s the little things, right? 🙂
With ALDI products, as I mentioned above, you can find a little of everything. They have fantastic cheeses, which always draw me in. They also have convenience products, things like frozen egg rolls, which my husband adores or the squeezable applesauce packets, so loved by the little ones and that we frequently include in Joshies lunch. The other day, I bought some fantastic frozen manicotti for myself. 😀
Not sure where an ALDI is near you or even if there is one at all? If you check out this link, you can use their store locator to find a store near you. Curious about their products? This fact sheet shows you some of their products; things they have actually won awards for. Go check it out!
Now for the food! I wanted to do something a little bit different. I have mentioned before that I absolutely love Indian food. Well, I decided to try my own variation on the Samosa, making it easier by turning it into a one crust pie. This way, you’re not frying it and adding 5000 calories to it, plus the easy factor is definitely there. This pie is spicy, slightly exotic, yet still homey and comforting. I mean…pie! I served it with a cooling and creamy cucumber onion salad. You eat the pie and the mild burn hits you, then a bite of the salad leaves you saying, “ahhh”, lol. Here is my breakdown of cost. I was tickled to see that I came in a fair amount under the $10 dollar limit. Some of the ingredients I had to buy in larger amounts than what I used in the recipe, such as the ground beef, so I froze part and will use that another time and estimated my cost with just the parts I used.
For the pie-
Ground Beef- a 2lb package, of which I used half, was $8.00 dollars (this is delicious 80/20 beef, so not low quality in the least.)- $4.00
Can of diced potatoes- ( 15 ounce can)- 65¢
Frozen peas- 1 lb bag was 95¢ (I used 1 cup, so about 40¢)
Onion- 89¢ (I used a bit more than half, so we’ll estimate 50¢)
Red pepper- 90¢.( I used about 3/4 of it altogether, so about 23¢)
package of refrigerator pie crusts-$1.89- (I used one of the crusts, freezing the other for another time, so about 95¢)
Cucumber salad-
Bag of seedless cucumbers (which were baby sized and adorable, btw! 😛 )$1.89. I used about half, so 95¢
More onion and red pepper- included in cost above
Yogurt- a large 32 ounce container was $1.89 ( I used 1/2 cup, so about 25¢ worth.
Various spices, salt and pepper and the jalapeno, for both dishes- 25¢ or so.
Grand Total- $8.18.
So, for about $8 dollars, I fed myself, a 20 year old male, my husband and a six year old boy. And there is still a serving left of the pie for my husband for lunch tomorrow and some of the cucumber salad as well. Not bad, ehh? A filling meal that includes protein, carbs, veggies and even dairy for $8 dollars.
You know the drill. Get to cooking!

Spicy Samosa Dinner Pie

  • 1 pound ALDI ground beef
  • 1 15 ounce can Happy Harvest diced potatoes, well drained
  • 1 cup Seasons Choice frozen peas
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno (you could sub in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (feel free to use a touch more if you like. I personally love cinnamon in savory dishes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup hot water or beef broth
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice (bottles is fine, fresh is better)
  • 1 refrigerator pie crust, room temp
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • salt for sprinkling on the crust
  • Cucumber salad-
  • 2 cups thinly sliced seedless baby cucumbers (about 4 cucumbers)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup Fit & Active plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon salt (taste after prep and add more salt if you feel it needs it. Tastes vary on salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large cast iron pan ( or other oven safe pan), combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, red pepper and jalapeno (if using). Brown the meat over medium heat, stirring frequently to soften the veggies and thoroughly cook the ground beef.
  2. When done, drain well, then return to pan. Add the drained potatoes, the peas, the spices, and the salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. You want to get the spices from that harsh, raw taste to slightly cooked.
  3. Add in the hot water or beef broth as well as the lemon juice. This will help the pie not get dried out in the oven.
  4. Unroll the pie crust and lay it gently over the meat mixture. Tuck it in around the edges. Brush the crust with the melted butter, then sprinkle with some salt; about 1/4 teaspoon or so should do it. Cut a slit in the middle of the pie crust.
  5. Bake it at 350 degrees until the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remember; the filling is already cooked, so the only purpose of this is to cook the crust.
  6. While the pie cooks, make the cucumber salad. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, onion and red pepper. Give it a toss with a wooden spoon, then add in the yogurt, vinegar, sugar, dill, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then stir it again, making sure to get the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad until ready to serve. Stir once more just before serving. This salad is best on the day it’s made, so don’t make it before the day you want to serve it. The liquid from the cukes and the yogurt will make it watery otherwise.
  7. When the pie is done, let it cool for just a couple of minutes, then serve it up, with a side of cucumber salad!

Spicy Samosa Dinner Pie 1Creamy Cucumber Onion Salad 3