Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies {Christmas Tray 2012}

Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies
So red velvet just screams Christmas to me and these cookies are the perfect for the holidays. They start with a cake mix so they are very simple to whip up. I seem to always reach for cake mix whenever it comes to red velvet.  I think it’s because on one of Joel’s birthdays when we were still dating, I tried to make a homemade red velvet cake. It didn’t end well. It had a weird tang and texture so I really don’t know how I messed it up but I haven’t tried to make it from scratch since. I probably should try since I have a food blog and all. We shall see.
Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies
These cookies are rich, dense and of course, gooey. I’m really glad I was giving them away to our friends because I really couldn’t have had these sitting around my house. I’m totally a stress eater and I’m starting to feel a tad overwhelmed with the move so I probably would have eaten the whole batch. Not so good for the dieting.
Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies
If you aren’t up for cookies, these cake balls are one of my favorite treats ever and were featured as a great Christmas treat last year with funfetti cake mix but my personal favorite is red velvet.
Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies
Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies
recipe from Taste and Tell

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 box red velvet cake mix
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1, In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the cream cheese and the butter.  Beat in the egg, then the vanilla.  Beat in the cake mix until completely combined.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. Roll the chilled dough into tablespoon sized balls.  Roll in confectioners’ sugar, and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Stovetop Sausage Mac-N-Cheese

Stovetop Mac N Cheese
One of my very favorite foods is macaroni and cheese…I guess I never fully grew up. But seriously, what’s not to like about pasta covered in cheese? I’m normally a baked mac-n-cheese kind of girl but this creamy stovetop version definitely got me thinking. It’s so simple to throw together on a weeknight and it is lightened up with low fat ingredients which makes it even better (you can’t even tell)!

I love mac-n-cheese with broccoli so I usually steam some to stir into my bowl. Obviously, I like anything if it’s smothered in cheese.
Stovetop Mac N Cheese
Stovetop Sausage Mac-n-Cheese
recipe from Taste and Tell

4 ounces chicken sausage, chopped
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup (about 1 1/3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
5 cups hot cooked noodles (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta, use whole wheat to bump up the health factor)
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Heat a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage; sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in cheeses, onion powder, and garlic salt; cook 3 minutes or until cheeses melt, stirring constantly. Stir in pasta. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Stovetop Mac N Cheese

Dilled Egg Salad

Egg Salad
For me, egg salad is one of those things I have to be in the mood to eat and when I am it totally hits the spot. Egg salad doesn’t really require a recipe so this is just a start and you can add or subtract ingredients depending on your personal preferences. That being said, this is my absolute favorite recipe for egg salad because of the addition of the dill.

This is a great quick and easy sandwich you can throw together for the kiddos school lunch or for a last minute dinner. Plus, all the ingredients are staples so it can be thrown together anytime!

Dilled Egg Salad
recipe from Allrecipes.com

8 eggs
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I use the reduced-fat olive oil kind)
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 red onion, minced (we don’t care for raw onion so I left this out)
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced wheat bread

1. Make the perfect hard boiled eggs.

2. In a large bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, dill, paprika, onion and salt and pepper. Mash well with a fork or wooden spoon.

3. Serve on bread as a sandwich or over crisp lettuce as a salad.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark {Christmas Tray 2012}

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
If you are on Pinterest, I’m sure you have seen this recipe floating around. The second I saw it, I knew it would have to be featured here for the Christmas Tray series! What is more perfect than pretzels, chocolate and salted caramel for Christmas?
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
I know this is the second salted caramel recipe I have shared for Christmas this year but it’s a huge favorite in our family (as well as pretzels) so I knew it would be a big hit. My parents watched Noah recently so I whipped this up for them as a thank you. I sampled it before giving it all to them. I had to be able to tell you all what it tasted like. Oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog.
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
This is another simple and quick recipe to whip up at Christmastime. It seriously only took about 15 minutes from start to finish (not counting the freezing time). Throw a big handful in a cute cellophane bag, tie it up with a ribbon and hand out the happiness.
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
recipe from Mama Say What?

½  bag of mini pretzel twists
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 bag of chocolate chips
Sea salt or table salt (I used coarse sea salt)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then line a large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lay a single layer of pretzels down.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let it boil gently just until it starts to stick to the bottom and it forms a nice smooth caramel. You’ll want to let it bubble a little and get really thick. Remove from heat and pour evenly over the top of the pretzels (don’t worry if every single pretzel isn’t covered).

3. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for five minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. You can let the caramel melt the chips, but I prefer to put it back in the oven for one minute. Spread the chocolate chips around with a spatula until mostly melted. Sprinkle generously with salt.

4. Let cool on the counter top for a few minutes and then pop in the freezer for at least two to three hours. When it comes out of the freezer, break it up into uneven chunks with your hands and serve.

Jello Cookies {Christmas Tray 2012}

Jello Cookies
When I saw these, I thought Noah would love making and playing with the dough. Turns out, he just wanted to eat the dough.
Jello Cookies
Jello Cookies
And do this.
Jello Cookies
And this too.

He did enjoy rolling them in the jello powder and flattening them on the baking sheet. There was a whole lot of “Noah do it” going on in our kitchen. He is totally at that stage. I’m glad he wants some independence but man, it’s annoying sometimes.
Jello Cookies
I guess these weren’t the best cookies to make for Christmas. I literally stood in front of the jello for like 5 minutes trying to decide what flavors to use. None of them were particularly Christmas-y but I was dying to make these so I had to make it work. I thought cranberry could work but who likes cranberry jello? Not me. I finally settled on lemon and black cherry…yellow and dark red seemed to say holiday to me.
Jello Cookies
I think the colors turned out for Christmas. Not typical green and red but still festive. They taste like zingy sugar cookies covered in the sour sugar from gummy worms. Yum!
Jello Cookies
Jello Cookies
recipe from I {Heart} Naptime

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
4 (3 oz) pkg. jello (any flavors)*
Gel food coloring

1. Beat butter in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

2. Divide dough into 4 sections. Sprinkle 2 Tb of jello onto each section. Knead together with dough. You may want to add a bit of food coloring to make the dough more vibrant (I had to, especially with the lemon).

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in the extra jello from the packets. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of bowl.

4. Bake 8 to 10 min at 350 on lined baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

*I only used 2 jello flavors so I doubled the amount of powder in each half (rather than fourths).
Jello Cookies

Vanilla Bean Granola

Vanilla Bean Granola
Happy Thanksgiving a day early! I hope that you are all ready for your Thanksgiving festivities and are able to spend this wonderful holiday with family and friends. I am so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, especially those boys of mine. Here they are on Thanksgiving last year.
Joel and Noah {Thanksgiving 2011}
Here’s a sweet and simple breakfast idea for tomorrow morning. Or, for all you crazies out there, a quick breakfast to eat on the go while you wait in line at 3:00 in the morning on Friday. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Black Friday shopping but I need my beauty sleep. Me not getting enough sleep is not a pretty picture for anyone involved….you will get the grumpy, angry eyebrows. Trust me, when sleep deprived I do not use them sparingly.

Vanilla Bean Granola
recipe from Rachel Cooks

3 cups thick cut rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
1 tablespoon ground flax-seed
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
the pulp of two vanilla beans

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment or Silpat. In a large bowl, stir together oats, almonds, coconut, salt, brown sugar, wheat germ and ground flax. 2. In separate small microwavable bowl, stir together canola oil  and vanilla. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power. Add in vanilla bean pulp and whisk with a fork to separate beans. 3. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until everything is well coated. 4. Spread granola in an even layer over the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and then bake for 15-20 minutes longer until golden brown. 5. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally to break up chunks. 6. Store in airtight container. Makes approximately 5 cups.

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Although this recipe looked delicious, I was worried about making it because it seemed involved and complicated with the pounding, filling, wrapping, breading and baking. Turns out it wasn’t so bad once I had all the required ingredients collected and placed in a little assembly line.
Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
I knew I would love this recipe because it combines some of my very favorite foods: chicken, cheese and broccoli. Plus, it has a cripsy coating but is still healthy. I couldn’t really ask for more in a dinner. Well, maybe I could ask for more cheese but everything could always use more cheese in my world.

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
recipe adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny

4 chicken breasts
1/3 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
1/2-3/4 cup steamed and finely chopped broccoli (depends on size of chicken)
1 large egg
2 tsp. water
3/4 cup whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine egg, water and a little salt.  Beat with a fork to make an egg wash.  Set aside.  Fill a second bowl with breadcrumbs.

2. Butterfly chicken breasts then pound them to make them thinner and so that they are easier to roll.

3. On half of the chicken, sprinkle lightly with cheese then top with broccoli. Wrap chicken around to completely cover cheese, using toothpicks to secure.  Season with a little salt.  Dip chicken into egg wash, then breadcrumbs.  Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray and place chicken on cookie sheet.
Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Lightly spray chicken and bake about 25 minutes, until cooked.