Saturday, December 29, 2012

Croque-Monsieur Madame

We love to experience new little restaurants whenever we can. I have mentioned before that small bistro-type places are our favorite. Recently we have been going to a delicious shop here in Omaha, and we just can’t get enough. From their upscale burgers to stuffed squash blossoms, everything is top of the line. The first time I went there I got a Croque Monsieur Madame and I just can’t stray from it! It is perfectly creamy, a little bite, and rich, rich, RICH. And boy do I like RICH!

Croque-Monsieur Madame Sandwiches
Printable Version

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg, optional
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 slices dense white sandwich bread
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
4 eggs, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg (optional), 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.
While sandwich is baking, prepare a sunny-side up egg, if desired. Top broiled sandwich with cooked egg, serve hot.

Makes 4 sandwiches
Recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mini Quiche

My sister makes these for her family all of the time. Every time she visits I beg her to whip them up, and I finally got the nerve to make them for myself. I love everything mini, and these are no exception. These mini quiches pack a punch, and are good at any time of the day! These are perfect to make for your Christmas get-togethers. They freeze and reheat in the oven or microwave amazing!

Mini Quiche
Printable Version

pie crust (refrigerated or THIS RECIPE)
6 eggs
⅓ cup cream
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¾ cup shredded cheddar jack cheese
¼ cup finely chopped peppers
2 tbs. chopped green onions

Roll pie crust very thin, to about ⅛”. Cut out circles a little larger than mini cupcake tins. Mix all of the ingredients together, pour into pie crusts and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Makes approx. 25 mini quiche

Recipe from Amanda

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sugared Pinwheels

I couldn’t stay out of these simple sugar cookies. They are beautiful to look at, but more enjoyable to eat! I have always been a tiny bit intimidated by these rolled-up-versions of sugar cookies, but LET ME TELL YOU...this was so easy. Way easier than rolling, and stamping, and re-rolling regular sugar cookie dough. And I’m not going to lie, you know those sugar cookie dough rolls with the cute little christmas trees or snowmen that you can get at the grocery store? These taste JUST like that! Except they are homemade, which therefore gives you all-out access to the dough. O shoot. I might have eaten just as much dough as actual cooked cookies! AND they can sit in your fridge or freezer until you are ready to cut them and cook them, even better. What a great recipe to have on hand!

Sugared Pinwheels
Printable Version

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon red or green food coloring
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon sanding sugar (clear or red), plus more for coating

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Remove half of the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Add the almond extract, cocoa powder and food coloring to the remaining dough and beat until incorporated; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate both pieces of dough until firm, about 1 hour.

Dust the dough with flour and roll out each piece on parchment paper into a 10-by-11-inch rectangle. Flip the red/green dough on top of the plain dough; remove the top piece of parchment and trim the edges. This is optional, but at this point sprinkle the ground cinnamon and sanding sugar on top. Starting from a long end, tightly roll up the dough, using the parchment to help; roll the log in sanding sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. If you choose to freeze your dough, at this point wrap in tin foil as well and place in a resealable plastic bag for up to 2 months. When it comes time to bake, move to refrigerator to thaw for 3 hours prior to baking.

Preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Slice the log crosswise 1/4 inch thick; arrange the slices about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until slightly puffed and lightly golden on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool.

Recipe highly adapted from Food Network Magazine
Makes about 20 cookies

Sunday, December 16, 2012


A decadent homemade yellow cake covered in a rich, creamy chocolate...topped with coconut. If I didn’t get you with that description, I don’t know what will! Cody is always throwing random recipes at me, and almost all of them turn out wonderful. This was no exception!

Printable Version

8 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup heavy cream
8 oz. unsweetened shredded coconut

Honey nut chex, crushed (if desired)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour and 8x8 baking pan, set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk sugar and egg whites until soft peaks form. Add butter, egg yolks, and vanilla; fold until combined. Add dry ingredients; fold until smooth. Pour into prepared baking pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. About 20 minutes. Cool 20 minutes. Invert cake onto a rack; cool completely. Cut into 16 squares; set aside.

Place chocolate in a bowl. Boil cream in a 2 quart saucepan over high heat; pour over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Slowly stir until smooth; set aside. Place coconut in a pie dish. Roll cake squares in chocolate, and then roll in coconut; (this is the time to roll in those honey nut chex if you decided to add them for an extra crunch!) transfer to a rack. Chill until chocolate sets, at least 1 hour.
Recipe from Savour Magazine
Makes 16.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Baked Doughnuts

Think regular doughnuts are just too greasy, too sugary, too fattening? Well, this is the recipe for you. These BAKED doughnuts are delicious, just like all of Melanie’s sweet treats! Straight from the oven these are melt-in-your-mouth amazing. I couldn’t stop popping these in my mouth! Wouldn't you love to find a plate of warm morsels on your doorstep this holiday season? I know I would...HINT HINT....

Baked Doughnuts
Printable Version

1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
A pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Place the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and sugar. Add the butter. Mix the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt. Beat the dough with the dough hook attachment (or with a wooden spoon and eventually your hands) for 2-3 minutes at medium speed. Adjust the dough texture by adding flour a few tablespoons at a time or more milk. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be very soft and smooth but still slightly sticky – don’t overflour! Knead the dough for a few minutes (again, by mixer or by hand) and then transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size (the exact time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen).
Punch down the dough and roll it out to about 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured counter. Using a doughnut cutter or a 2-3 inch circle cookie cutter, cut out circles in the dough. Carefully transfer the circles to a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. Be sure to make the holes large enough that as the doughnuts rise again and bake, they don’t fill in the doughnut hole with the puffiness of the dough. Cover the tray with lightly greased plastic wrap. (At this point, you can refrigerate the doughnuts overnight or proceed with the recipe.) Let the doughnuts rise for about another 45 minutes, until they are puffed and nearly doubled.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Start checking the doughnuts around minute 8. They should still be pale on top, not golden and browned, and just barely baked through.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Dip each one in the melted butter and toss  with the cinnamon and sugar. Serve immediately.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen doughnuts/doughnut holes
Recipe from melskitchencafe

Note from Melanie: These little beauties are best made and eaten the same day, preferably warm right from the oven. The great news is that you can make the dough, roll and cut out the doughnuts the night before and let them do their second rising in the fridge, covered. Remove them from the refrigerator and put them on the counter about an hour before baking. I used instant yeast in the recipe. If you only have active dry yeast on hand, proof the yeast with 1/3 cup of the warm milk and the sugar until it is foaming before adding in the rest of the milk and proceeding with the recipe.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cookies and Cream Bark

Still procrastinating those dreaded neighbor gifts? Dread no more. 2 ingredients...really?! Delicious...beyond delicious! Easy...yep! Seriously I have been getting compliments right and left about this amazing (THEY don’t have to know how easy it is!) Cookies and cream bark. If I was a good neighbor I would pair it with these Brigidaires and perhaps some of these Homemade Caramels, but to put it simply, I was lazy this year! These will hit the spot for everyone on your list, especially chocolate lovers!

Cookies and Cream Bark
Printable Version

14oz. Ghirardelli white chocolate chips or almond bark (I prefer almond bark)
20 oreos

Chop 15 oreos into approx. 9 pieces each. Crush the remaining 5 oreos using a fork or knife.
Line a 12x18 baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place chocolate in a double boiler over low heat and stir continuously, until chocolate is completely melted. I don’t have a double boiler, (which is crazy, I really need one! Hint. Hint!) so I simply use a heat resistant glass bowl that fits tightly on top of a saucepan with 1” of boiling water. Make sure to wear oven mitts, the glass bowl will get very hot. After stirring continuously and the chocolate completely melted, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add chopped Oreos and stir to combine. Pour mixture onto preparted 12x18 inch pan. Use a spatula to spread into a ¼” inch layer and smooth out top.
Sprinkle remaining Oreos on top of bark. Chill for about 10 minutes until chocolate becomes solid.
Lift whole bark out of pan by holding onto parchment or wax overhang. Split bark into pieces with a fork.
Recipe adapted from
When broken into approx. 3” squares, makes about 15.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Easy Homemade Caramels

Homemade caramels...Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without these. I have always made these the 'old fashioned' way...standing over the stove for 2 hours and stirring and stirring. I couldn't love it more! I absolutely LOVE the nostalgic feeling that I have of home. I absolutely LOVE spending the hours cooking for people that I hold dear. I absolutely LOVE having my mother right next to me making them, teaching me, and having the amazing conversations that we always happen to come upon.
HOWEVER...this time I tried doing it the easy way! I know...funny how after I told you how much I love making them the old fashioned way that I then tell you how I made them the easy way...ha! My mother in law makes this recipe and loves it, so I thought that I would give it a shot! They ended up just wonderful without all the work...which, when you are in a hurry or just don't have the energy to make the regulars, this is a great go-to. I have to admit, these taste a little different, but just as good! I am sure that I will switch back and forth between these two recipes for the rest of my Christmas's!  Enjoy...I hope that you feel the Christmas spirit as you are making these little gems!

Easy Homemade Caramels
Printable Version

2 cubes butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light karo syrup
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

Melt butter in large microwave safe bowl. Add brown sugar, white sugar, and light karo syrup. Then stir in sweetened condensed milk.

Cook in microwave for 13-15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Microwaves vary, you  may have to experiment with yours...mine is exactly 15 minutes!

To know when your caramels have reached the correct consistency:
Do the soft ball/hard ball test...Fill a small bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Drop about 1/2 tsp. of caramel into the cold water and let sit for 5-8 seconds. Using your fingers, pick up the ball of caramel out of the water; if it stays together and you can slightly squish the ball but not completely mash it, your caramels are done. If the caramel simply slips through your fingers and separates, cook for an additional 1-2 minutes and try the soft ball/hard ball test once again. Repeat until you get the desired consistency.

Remove from microwave and beat for two minutes with electric beaters and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.

Let cool (this usually takes about 2 hours), cut into caramels into desired size and shape, and wrap individually in wax paper.

Recipe from Laurel

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Brigidaires (Brazilian Chocolate Balls)

My husband has a new addiction...Saveur Magazine. He has an entire list of recipes that he wants to whip up...and did I mention, an entire list that he wants ME to whip up! Well, I was up to the first challenge he gave me, especially because it only had 6 ingredients, and three of them were chocolate! These fudge balls are simple, just require some stirring, which anyone can do. The first time we made these we handed them out to all our neighbors to enjoy, and the second time we made them for the faculty of my husband’s school. They are perfect for impressing a crowd, obviously!

Brigidaires (Brazilian Fudge Balls)
Printable Version

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup chocolate sprinkles

Bring butter, cream, and milk to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate and cocoa powder, and reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is the consistency of dense, fudgy batter, about 16 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; let cool. Chill until set, at least 4 hours.

Using a tablespoon, portion out fudge and roll into balls. Roll each ball in chocolate sprinkles until evenly coated. Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe from Saveur Magazine
Makes about 40

Friday, December 7, 2012

Shredded Chicken...the only way to do it!

I am in love with the rotisserie chicken. In L.O.V.E. Moist, flavorful delicious chicken in a snap, it just doesn’t get better to me! I use this chicken in all of my shredded chicken recipes, including enchiladas. Until NOW! Mel is a good friend of our family, and she is such an inspiratation to me for all her yummy recipes. If you haven’t gone and visited her blog, you won’t regret it...go check her out! CLICK HERE to visit her awesome site.

Her most recent discovery has made an appearance on my table 6 times in the past 3 weeks. So many different ways to use shredded chicken, therefore, this is a lifesaver. This chicken is so delicious, flavorful, and moist, just like a rotisserie chicken. This is now the only way I will make shredded chicken, and I won’t go back!

Shredded Chicken...the only way to do it!
Printable Version

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup water or low-sodium chicken broth

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken top-side down in the hot skillet and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes until golden brown on top. Flip the chicken, add the water or chicken broth, cover the skillet and let the chicken simmer gently over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (it will register 160 degrees on a thermometer). Don’t overcook or it might be dry. While the chicken is simmering, add additional water 1/4 cup at a time if the liquid evaporates too quickly. Remove the chicken from the skillet. Let it cool slightly before shredding. The cooked chicken will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Recipe from Mel at
Makes 3-4 cups of cooked, shredded chicken

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Crepe

O crepes. I could eat 10 of you, which is the problem! Thank heavens I made these last Sunday, after a very NOT good dinner! This redeemed me in my hubby’s eyes...These are so delicious. I am used to just normal crepes, but these are heavenly! A smooth chocolate batter that holds the perfect melt-in-your-mouth raspberry creme sauce.

Chocolate Raspberry Crepe
Printable Version

4 large eggs
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 cubes

1 cup strawberry jam
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella

For the crepes: Combine the eggs, milk, flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a blender or bowl. Blend or whisk by hand until the mixture forms a smooth batter.
Preheat a 10-inch nonstick crepe pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Melt 1 cube of butter in the pan. Add 1/4 cup of batter and quickly tilt the pan to form an even coating of batter on the bottom of the pan. Cook until set, about 1 minute. Using a heat-resistant spatula, carefully loosen the sides and gently flip the crepe over. Cook for 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining batter and butter.

For the filling: Mix the jam, mascarpone, and sugar  in a small bowl until smooth.
Spread each crepe with 3 tablespoons of the jam mixture leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold the two opposite ends of each crepe inward and roll into a tube shape. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Arrange the crepes on a platter.
Heat the chocolate-hazelnut spread over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly, until warm. Spoon over the crepes and serve.

Recipe from Giada