Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

I love pecans, and I certainly have plenty of them from being able to pick them locally. I think the pecans are the best part of living where I do actually.

RECIPE: Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars 
Makes 2 8 x 8 Pans

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0389
Measuring Utensils
Food Processor
8 x 8 Baking Pans
Oven set to 375
Bowl
Spatula

INGREDIENTS:
Crust

1 1/4 Cups Flour
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Stick Butter
Filling
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Pecans
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Corn Syrup
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla

DIRECTIONS:
1) In food processor, combine the ingredients for the crust until the butter is course little chunks in the flour. You can also do this using a pastry blender and a bowl.
2) Pat the crust equally into the two pans and then bake for about 10 minutes until golden.
3) In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla.

DSCF03934) Beat in the eggs.
5) Melt the butter and add it and the pecans and chocolate chips to the mixture, making sure everything gets evenly coated.
6) Pour the mixture over the crust and bake again for 15 to 20 minutes until the center sets.
7) Let cool before slicing and serving. It must be chilled if you make it ahead of time or to store any leftovers you have.

DSCF0394I made one more chocolate than the other, because for office potlucks you have to bake for a variety of taste buds.

Christmas Jelly Linzer Cookies

I made a jelly over the summer specifically for this holiday season. I nicknamed it Christmas jelly, but its actually an apple blackberry jelly with hints of cinnamon. Not only is it a pretty color, but it is absolutely delicious. My mouth started watering as soon as I opened the jar. The jelly inspired me to make these linzer cookies, which were a big hit! I personally think the final result looked like stained glass.

RECIPE: Christmas Jelly Linzer Cookies
Makes 2 Dozen

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0312
Measuring Utensils
Mixer
Wax Paper
Pastry Board
Rolling Pin
Round
Small Cookie Cutters
Spatula
Oven set to 375
Baking Sheets
Cooling Racks
Sifter

INGREDIENTS:
1 Sticks Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoon Cream
1 Tablespoon Bourbon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
3 1/2 Cups Flour
Extra Flour for rolling
Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon Black Berry Apple Jelly (aka Christmas Jelly)

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF03161) In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
2) Beat in the egg, cream, and vanilla.
3) Mix in the salt, baking powder, and flour until a dough is formed.
4) Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill for a few hours or overnight. I split the dough in half when wrapping to make sure some stayed cool while I rolled out the other half.
DSCF03525) Dust a pastry board with the extra flour.
6) Roll out the dough and cut first using the circle cookie cutter.
7) For exactly half the cookies, use one of the small cookie cutters to cut out the center of the circle.
8) Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 6-8 minutes or until golden.
9) Let cool on a baking rack.
DSCF035510) Once cool, sprinkle all the cookies with powdered sugar.
11) Spread a layer of jelly on the non-powdered sugar side of one of the round cookies. Place a cookie with the center cut out on top with the powdered sugar surface facing out.
12) Store in an air tight tin with layers of wax paper between the cookies.
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2017 Sugar Cookie

Sugar cookies are one of those cookies that has a hundred and one different variations. I am still on the hunt for the absolute perfect sugar cookie, but these came in pretty close! They are an easy to manage dough, and the results were soft and delicious. Even two weeks after baking and storing in a tin, they still taste fresh and delicious. I also did a mix of decorating them with sugar before they went into the oven and decorating them with royal icing after they came out of the oven. Both styles were delicious!

RECIPE: 2017 Sugar Cookies
Makes a lot depending on sizes

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0305
Measuring Utensils
Mixer
Wax Paper
Pastry Board
Rolling Pin
Cookie Cutters
Spatula
Oven set to 375
Baking Sheets
Cooling Racks

INGREDIENTS:
2 Sticks Butter
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon Bourbon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 1/2 Cups Flour
Extra flour
Decorating Sugar
Royal Frosting

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF03101) In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
2) Beat in the egg, corn syrup, and vanilla extract.
3) Slowly mix in the salt and flour until a dough is formed.
4) Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill overnight.
5) Using only a piece of dough at a time, roll out the dough on a well floured surface. DSCF0357
6) Cut out your preferred shapes and transfer the cut out dough to a baking sheet using a spatula if necessary to prevent breaking or cracking.
(Repeat step 5)
7) If desired, decorate the dough with decorating sugar before baking in the 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the bottoms and edges just become golden.

8) Let cookies cool on racks.
9) If desired, when cookies are completely cooled, decorate with royal frosting by either pipping or spreading. I decided to try piping the frosting for the first time ever, and while it was a workout, it definitely gave the cookies a different look! DSCF0368

While the two tone snowflakes came out really pretty, I think my favorite result was from the snowmen! I just love the little red scarves and hats!

Jam It In Cookies

I have to admit, these cookies were my favorites (flavor wise) this holiday season. The cookies were the perfect level of sweet and melt in your mouth buttery. I also forgot how delicious the mixed berry jam I made over the summer was, and they perfectly complimented these cookies! Out of all the varieties I made (and there were a lot!) these cookies were the first to disappear.

RECIPE: Jam It In Cookies
Makes 3-4 Dozens

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0327
Measuring Utensils
Mixer
Cookie Scoop
Baking Sheet
Spoons
Oven set to 300
Silicon Mat
Cooling Rack

INGREDIENTS:
2 Sticks Butter
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
2 teaspoons Bourbon Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Mixed Berry Jam

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF03311) In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
2) Mix in the egg and vanilla.
3) Beat in the flour and baking powder until combined, but do not over beat.
4) Scoop out cookie dough and form into balls before placing them on an ungreased baking sheet. They will spread a bit so be sure to leave room!
5) Use a small spoon to scoop out a bit of the center of the cookie dough. Be sure to keep the scooped out bit to make more cookies!

6) Fill the cookies with the jam.
7) Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
8) Let cool on a flat surface, so I lined my cooling racks with silicon mats for cooling.

You may have noticed crumbs on one of the cooling racks, but that’s because one of the cookies “accidentally” broke and I had to eat it for quality insurance purposes…

Peppermint Patty Pinwheel

These chocolate and mint swirled cookies are beyond delicious! If you like eating peppermint patties or any combination of mint and chocolate, then I highly recommend you make this recipe for your holiday season! The great thing is that the flavors are winter without being distinctly Christmas, so you can definitely use them as a treat to ring in the new year!

RECIPE: Peppermint Patty Pinwheel
Makes 3 Dozen

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0318
Measuring Utensils
Mixer
Glass measuring cup
Wax Paper
Rolling Pin
Fridge
Knife
Baking Sheet
Oven set to 375
Spatula
Cooling Rack

INGREDIENTS:
1 stick Butter
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 Ounce unsweetened chocolate

DIRECTIONS:
1) In a mixer, cream together the butter, the sugar, and the peppermint extract.
2) Mix in the egg and milk.
3) Slowly beat in the flour, salt, and baking powder.
4) Remove half the dough from the mixing bowl and put to the side on piece of wax paper.
5) Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a measuring cup in the microwave being careful to check and stir it to ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn (nothing tastes worse than burnt chocolate).


6) Mix the chocolate into the rest of the dough in the mixer until thoroughly combined throughout.
DSCF03447) Roll out the different flavors of dough using a rolling pin using the wax paper. Attempt to roll them out to equal sizes.
8) Lay the mint flavor over the chocolate dough, slowly roll it up.
9) Wrap the log of cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill for about 3 hours.
10) Now you can practice you slice and bake skills from your childhood! Slice the chilled dough into 1/4 inch pieces. DSCF0346
11) Lay the sliced spirals on a baking sheet and then admire how cool all the spirals look!
12) Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the bottoms begin to brown.
13) Use a spatula to move the baked cookies to a cooling rack. When completely cooled, they can be stored.

 

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Smoky Nachoes

So you may remember my earlier post about the smoked tacos. Well, there was plenty of leftover delicious smoked meat after two or three meals of tacos. We decided to change it up a bit and make some fancy smoked meat nachos instead! Pair these nachos with a nice wine, and you have a relaxing and scrumptious meal.

RECIPE: Smoky Nachoes
Makes 2 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0266
Cutting Board
Knife
Cast iron pan
Can Opener
Baking Sheet
Cheese Grater
Oven set to 375

INGREDIENTS:
Smoked Meat
Canned Corn
1/2 a large Onion
Tortilla Chips
Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Salsa

DIRECTIONS:
1) Chop up some of the smoked meat and add it to a cast iron pan to start warming it.
2) Open a can of corn and add about half of it to the warming meat. Pour some of the extra meat juice over it all as it warms.
3) Cut the onion into long pieces and add into the corn and meat mixture.
4) Lay the tortilla chips out on a baking sheet.

5) Shred 4 to 6 ounces of the extra sharp cheddar cheese and sprinkle a layer across all the chips evenly.
6) Spread the beef, corn, and mixture over the cheddar cheese.
7) Bake in a hot oven until the cheese melts. My oven accidentally got turned to broil instead of off at the end which led to some extra crispy chips at the edges. (Whoops!)
8) Slide the chips on to plates and top with some nice flavorful homemade salsa.

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Eggnog Cookies

Every year, I try to do as many new Christmas cookies as possible. I figure if I try new cookies, I have a better chance of finding the perfect cookies to make up my cookie rotation. One of my new cookies this year was the eggnog cookies! If you like snicker doodles, this festive cookie is for you!

RECIPE: Eggnog Cookies
Makes 3-4 Dozen

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0285
Mixer
Cookie Scoop
Baking Sheet
Oven heated to 300 degrees
Spatula
Silicon Baking Sheets
Cooling Rack

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
Stick and a Half of Butter
2 1/4 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Non Alcoholic Eggnog
1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
2 Egg Yolks
Nutmeg for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF02861) In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
2) Mix in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3) Slowly stir in the eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks until mixed, but don’t over mix.
4) Use a scoop out rounded spoonfuls of dough onto non-greased baking sheets, sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg. DSCF0292

5) 
Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms begin to lightly brown.
6) Lay the silicon baking sheets over the cooling racks, move the cookies from the baking tray to the cooling sheets.
7) Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container. DSCF0294

Pepperoni and Spinach Stromboli

When you have leftover pizza dough you have three options: make another pizza, make a Calzone, or make a Stromboli. How do you decided what to make? It’s easy, because the only correction option is Stromboli. Stromboli is delicious. I made this with some of our leftover sourdough pizza dough.

RECIPE: Pepperoni and Spinach Stromboli 
Makes 4 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0278
Greased Baking Sheet
Cheese Grater
Oven set to 475 degrees

INGREDIENTS:
Sourdough Pizza Dough
Tomato Sauce
Pepperoni
Mozzarella
Oregano
Spinach

DIRECTIONS:
1) Press out some of the pizza dough over a greased baking sheet.
2) In the center of the dough, spread out some pasta sauce.
3) Lay down the pepperoni so that its slightly overlapping and covering all the tomato sauce.

4) Shred the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle it over the pepperoni.
5) Sprinkle the mozzarella over the pepperoni and then sprinkle oregano over it.
6) Pile fresh spinach over the entire thing, the more the better.
7) Roll the dough over the fillings and create a few slits to let out steam during baking.
8) Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake until crispy and brown.
9) Slide onto a baking sheet and serve in sliced sections.
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Smoked Meat Tacos

There is nothing better than smoking a huge chunk of meat, unless of course the meat was on steep discount! We used this meat for 4 different meals so it really came out super cost effective! Plus smoked meat is incredibly delicious and you can never eat enough of it.

RECIPE: Smoked Meat Tacos
Makes 2 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0242
Bowl
Basting Brush
Grill and Smoking Tube
Cast iron pans
Cutting Board
Knife
Spatula/Fork
Cheese Grater

INGREDIENTS:
Chunk o’ Meat
Orange Juice
Brown Sugar
Cilantro
Garlic Powder
Jalapeno Powder
Cheddar Cheese
Tortilla
Lettuce Mix
Pineapple

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF02301) Bowl begin marinating the meat in a mixture of orange juice, brown sugar, cilantro, garlic powder, and jalapeno powder.
2) Brush the meat with the marinade so that it really soaks up the flavor, turning every thirty minutes or so. I let it marinate for about two hours.
3) Light the smoking tube and then hot smoke the meat for about 3 hours.
4) Once you remove the meat from the smoker let it rest for about 20 minutes.
5)  In a small pot, bring the extra marinade to a boil to create a sauce. DSCF0244
6) Cut some of the meat into bite size pieces and put in a cast iron pan over low heat to keep it hot as you prepare the rest of the meal.
7) Shred some cheddar cheese, an ounce or two.
8) Heat the tortillas in a preheated cast iron pan. After you flip them, sprinkle with cheddar cheese so it starts to melt.
9) Shape the warm tortilla and fill it with the meat and a drizzle of the cooked marinade sauce.

10) Top with plenty of lettuce, and salsa if you are interested.
11) Serve with a side of pineapple for the full balance of flavors. DSCF0247

Thick Crust Pepperoni Pizza

I decided to experiment a little with my sourdough crust for this pizza. I upped the moisture content a little to attempt to create a more focaccia style crust. The results were crisp on the outside and wonderfully fluffy and chewy on the inside. The entire thing was topped in a decadent mixture of toppings so that after one slice you were full, but still craved another because of the flavor.

RECIPE: Thick Crust Pepperoni Pizza
Makes 4 Slices 

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF0255
Cast iron pans
Cutting Board
Knife
Spatula
Cheese Grater
Oven heated to 450 Degrees

INGREDIENTS:
Pizza Dough
Canned whole tomatoes
Oregano
Basil
Scarborough Fair Spice Mix
Half an Onion
Mozzarella Cheese
Pepperoni
Balsamic Vinegar

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF02571) In a pan, begin cooking the canned tomatoes with the oregano, basil, and some Scarborough fair spice mix (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme!) Let simmer for an hour or so until the tomatoes break down.
2) Thinly slice the onion and shred the mozzarella cheese.
3) Press the dough into a well greased cast iron pan.
4) Top with the sauce, spreading an even layer of cheese across the pizza. DSCF0259
5) Add a layer of onion over the entire pizza, because its tasty and a good source of vitamin c.
6) Lay the pepperoni over the entire pizza until its almost completely covered.
7) Sprinkle with basil and balsamic vinegar.
8) Bake until the crust is crisp and everything begins to bubble and brown.
9) Let cool slightly before cutting and serving. DSCF0260
Above is what it looks like before baking, and below is what it looks like when its baked and ready to be eaten! When I have pizza like this I wonder why I ever bother with order out!
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