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Making Easter Sweeter

Posted by casey on March 27, 2013 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

It has been Easter project central over here taking advantage of another opportunity to center the boys’ activities around the upcoming holiday.  Their shirts have been sewn, baskets put together and hidden away, bunny bait made and distributed, and teacher baskets ready to go.  With entirely too many sweets around the house already, (especially given the fact that we don’t really eat them just make goodie plates for neighbors, friends & teachers) why not make one more?

Bird Nests

I am sure you have seen these or images of them around.  The Rice Krispie site even has instructions for them.  As usual, I have my minor adjustments to help out a long the way.

6 cups of Rice Krispies
1 bag mini marshmallows
3 Tablespoons butter
2 muffins pans coated in cooking spray
2 cups coconut
green food coloring (optional)
jelly beans (or other chosen egg shaped candy)
buttercream frosting (butter,powdered sugar, cream)

1. Begin by greasing/coating with cooking spray your muffin pans so they are ready to go.

2. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Once melted add your marshmallows and continue stirring until marshmallows are melted.

3. Once smooth, remove from heat, add your Rice Krispies and gently mix until coated.

4. Fill a small bowl with water to dip your fingers in.  Scoop the Rice Krispie mixture into each muffin spot using your fingertips to push down firmly.

5.  Push a dent in the middle of each “nest” and let it raise up on the sides.  Leave them in the pan to cool and then you can remove by spinning them out easily.

6. While those are cooling and hardening you can dye your coconut if you prefer to do so. I actually hate food coloring and usually skip the option especially if we or the boys will be eating it.  For gifts, I go with the cuter option for presentation which is the dyed coconut to look like grass.  So, here is the how too.  In 1/2 cup batches, take 1 tsp water and 5 or so drops of food coloring in a bowl. Mix together and then add 1/2 cup coconut stirring until evenly green.  Dump out onto wax paper to dry and repeat for all coconut.

7. Now, what the “official recipe” doesn’t have is frosting.  I wanted a way to help the coconut to stick and look fuller and who doesn’t like frosting?  I also wanted to put a dollop under the jelly beans to keep them from rolling off too.  I make a basic butter cream with softened butter (1/4 cup), powdered sugar (1/4 to 1/2 bag), and cream.  Whip your butter, add the powdered sugar and cream in rounds until you reach the consistency and flavor you like.  You can add various extracts if you like, for this because it wasn’t the flavor focus I stuck to plain ol’ vanilla buttercream.

8. Take each nest and fill the dent with a small spot of frosting.  Top with coconut and gently pat.  Then put a small circle of frosting in the center of the nest on top of the coconut for the jelly beans (or other chosen Egg shaped candies).  Place jelly beans in the order you prefer and there you have it, another adorable Easter themed sweet perfect for class parties, playdates, neighbors or if you fancy it, yourself.

A holiday twist on a classic treat. Get to hopping.

 

 
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Catching Bunnies – {Bunny Bait}

Posted by casey on March 25, 2013 in Holiday Fun, In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

With only a few days left until Easter we are all busy getting ready for the Easter Bunny’s arrival so why not entice him with some bait?

Bunny Bait

Popcorn – 1 cup of kernels popped
Sea Salt
M&Ms – 1 bag Easter colored M&Ms
Mini Pretzel Sticks
Vanilla Candy Melts
Sprinkles (optional)

Now, I first saw a recipe for this here but after seeing some various versions I made some minor changes too. Minor being I added broken up mini pretzel sticks for an added salty vs. sweet element…and changed the holiday theme from the original recipe I saw.

I also prefer to pop my own kernels over the stove instead of using microwave popcorn.  Less additives and better taste.  But, to each their own, so you do have that option and it would be about 2 bags of microwave popcorn.

The last change I made to the original recipe was using sea salt to salt my popcorn (since it wasn’t pre-salted microwave) The sea salt is stronger in flavor and sturdier in texture so it stands up to the sweet parts well!

– Line two cookie sheets with waxed paper.
– Pop your popcorn and place in a large bowl.  Add your broken up pretzel sticks and stir around to mix.
– Melt your candy melts either in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals or over the stove on medium low heat (I prefer the stove) until smooth.
– Drizzle over your popcorn/pretzel sticks while stirring the popcorn to coat.  I find the easiest way to do this is to pour the melted vanilla candy into a large liquid measuring cup and then drizzle from there.
– Next add you bag of M&Ms in batches and stir to spread evenly.  This is where you would also add your sprinkles for extra color if you choose to do so.

Pour the mixture out onto the cookie sheets lined with wax paper, or your counter covered in waxed paper spreading it out into an even layer to dry.  Once dry store or share in containers, baggies, mason jars, anything you can imagine!   It is a delicious salty/sweet treat that can be adapted to most any holiday but for now, enjoy using it to catch some bunnies! :)

We will be adding these cute oversized mason jars filled with bunny bait to Caden’s baskets for his teachers this week.  You will get a glimpse of those soon too!

Need a cute tag?  I made these and am happy to share.
Carrying On’s Bunny Bait Tag

Hey look, I already caught one bunny!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 11 {Peppermint Sugar Cookies}

Posted by casey on December 23, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

As December approached I had minty on my mind and adjusted my snowtop cookies to have a more thin mint taste as an alternative choice.  I also, kept thinking about just a hint of peppermint.  I figured, if you wanted to really taste peppermint you would eat a candy cane, and didn’t need a cookie for that.  But what about just a hint?

So, the result was a peppermint sugar cookie. I took my usual sugar cookie recipe (I’m sure yours would be just fine too!) and ended up adding close to 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract.  It sounds like a lot but I did it 1/2 teaspoon at a time taste testing in between and it suprisingly wasn’t getting very strong, which was what I was hoping for!

Now, the other option is making them into actual candy canes in addition to adding the peppermint extract.  You could just roll out the dough and use cookie cutters like plain sugar cookies.  I wanted to add another twist taking the concept of my candy corn sugar cookies and adapting it to candy canes.  I split the dough in half leaving one as is and dying the other half red.  I then placed chunks of alternating colors of dough into a loaf pan to chill.  Once ready you can slice it into long vertical strips and twist into a candy cane. Decorate with coarse sugar, and ta-daaaaaaaa peppermint sugar candy cane cookies!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 10 {Honey Spritz Snowflakes}

Posted by casey on December 22, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

One bite cookies are a dangerous necessity to the holidays.  Okay, maybe not a necessity as in I NEED it, but well, close. This hasn’t been a past traditional recipe but will be a new one added to the repertoire after this year! I found this recipe this year and it seemed to be the perfect tasty treat to manage your sweet tooth with just one bite.  It also just so happened to be another adorable addition to a package of sweet treats to give out – bonus!  I found it to be a nice homemade take on many of those butter cookies you can buy mass made tins of from your big box stores but so much fresher!

On the ninth Day of Christmas my mess of kitchen gave to me…

Honey Spritz Snowflakes, Decorated Pretzel SticksChocolate Chip Shortbread, Tricked Up Marshmallows, Festive Chicken Dinner, Minty Snowtop Cookies, Stovetop Potpourri, Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, Bailey’s Brownies and Butterscotch Toffee Shortbread

Day 10 – Honey Spritz Snowflakes

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
coarse decorating sugar

Original Recipe from Food Network Magazine

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.

2. Beat your butter and sugar on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

3. while that is mixing, whisk together your dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, baking powder) and set to the side.

4. Once your butter and sugar is nice and light, add in the egg, honey and vanilla beating until combined.

5. Reduce your speed to low and add the flour mixture beating only until just combined.

6. Fill a cookie press with your dough and press out the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.  If you do not have a cookie press, roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness using a small 1-2 inch cookie cutter to cut small shapes.

7. Decorate the cookies with any coarse decorating sugar or nonpareils.

8. Place one cookie sheet on the rack in the upper third of your oven and the other in the lower third.  Bake for 12-15 minutes total switching the cookie sheets on different racks halfway through.

9. Let set on the pan for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 9 {A Twist on Festive Pretzels}

Posted by casey on December 21, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

This year, as you saw with Minty Snowtop Cookies I have tried to reinvent a few of our holiday favorites that our friends, neighbors and families expect to receive from me.  I know, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  However, I wanted to have a prettier package of goodies to give and keep making small changes so everyone could have a taste of the typical and a taste of the new.

So, in addition to making my usual festive dipped pretzel twists, this year I am making dipped and decorated pretzel stick rods and they have been a hit.

On the ninth Day of Christmas my mess of kitchen gave to me…

Decorated Pretzel Sticks,  Chocolate Chip Shortbread, Tricked Up Marshmallows, Festive Chicken Dinner, Minty Snowtop Cookies, Stovetop Potpourri, Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, Bailey’s Brownies and Butterscotch Toffee Shortbread

Day 9 – Decorative Pretzel Sticks

Large Salted Pretzel Rods (1-2 Bags Depending on Quantity)
Package of Vanilla Almond Bark (or Chocolate)
Decorative Candy Additions (M&Ms, Toffee Chips, Mini Chocolate Chips, Creme de Menthe Pieces, Pecans,etc)

1. Lay out your pretzel rods on waxed paper.
2. Melt your chocolate over low heat.
3. Pour the melted chocolate into a tall drinking glass.
4. Slowly dip each pretzel rod one at a time into the glass, swirl around, pull out slowly and place on the waxed paper.
5. After dipping 3-4 and laying them on the waxed paper go back and decorate those with your additions. ** Decorating them immediately after dipping will cause the pieces to fall right off because it is still too melted **
6. Leave to sit on the waxed paper to dry!

I wrapped up clear cellophane treat bags with one stick of each kind and a pretty burlap bow for giving.  Festive and delicious!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 8 {Chocolate Chip Shortbread}

Posted by casey on December 19, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

It appears I am on a shortbread kick this year since I am sharing two new loved shortbread recipes with you (Butter Toffee was the other).  I am blaming it on my new affinity for my morning cup of coffee thanks to kiddo #2 and hot tea in the afternoon.  No, I don’t eat shortbread with my morning coffee because it is well, morning after all, but doesn’t the idea sound good?

Around the holidays I think a lot of your tried and true loved recipes get kicked to the side because you see them more year round, such as chocolate chip cookies.  So, this I find to be a great alternative to the normal which gifts well and you can decorate with festive touches as you see fit!

On the Eighth day of Christmas Treats & Eats my mess of a kitchen gave to me…

Chocolate Chip Shortbread, Tricked Up Marshmallows, Festive Chicken Dinner, Minty Snowtop Cookies, Stovetop Potpourri, Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, Bailey’s Brownies and Butterscotch Toffee Shortbread!

Day 8 – Chocolate Chip Shortbread

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or a little more if you can’t resist like me)

(Original Recipe from Food Network Magazine)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 inch square baking dish with foil that allows for an overhang over the sides of foil.

2. Beat your butter, vanilla and salt on medium until smooth ( a couple minutes).

3. Turn your mixer to low and add your powdered sugar until it is just mixed in.

4.  Add your flour gradually (2-3 batches) until smooth again.

5. Stir in your chocolate chips by hand.

6. Pour batter into your baking pan.  Wet your finger tips or flour them and push the shortbread down into the pan (yes it is dry and crumbly).  Use a knife to score 6 or so lines into the pan to make strips.  Then score it again the opposite way to make lines for pieces.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 min until the edges are firm and the top is dry.  As soon as you take it our use your knife to re-score the lines you initially put in. LET COOL IN THE PAN FOR 20 MINUTES!

8. After they have set in the pan for 20 minutes pull up the foil and cool completely on a rack.  Break or cut into the pieces once cooled completely.

Melt chocolate to drizzle on for decor, use colored chocolate melts to pipe on decor (I did holly leaves) or leave plain!

 
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Twelve Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 7 {Tricked Up Treats}

Posted by casey on December 18, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

Looking back on 2010 again, I shared a favorite “Grown Up Hot Cocoa” that we like to treat ourselves to on chilly evenings…or days when the kids have plain worn us out.  I am always trying to think of new ways to serve, decorate or add to the presentation of things and this isn’t much different.  What is really fun about it, is that the kids love it and is a great addition to their treats as well.  Caden had his first taste of hot chocolate the other evening and really enjoyed making these with me to have in his future cup of cocoa.

On the Seventh day of Christmas Treats & Eats my mess of a kitchen gave to me…

Tricked Up Marshmallows, Festive Chicken Dinner, Minty Snowtop Cookies, Stovetop Potpourri, Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, Bailey’s Brownies and Butterscotch Toffee Shortbread!

Day Seven – Festive Marshmallows

Ingredients:

One bag of Large Marshmallows (Or Jumbo if you are feeling really crazy)
Meltable Chocolate (Almond Bark, Candy Dips, Colored Chips)
Candy (Candy Canes, M&Ms, Chocolate Chips)
the key here is that it has to be a candy that will taste good in cocoa, or melt

Melt the chocolate, dip half the mar

Once you see the idea, the options really open up. Just remember you are going to drink it.  For example, I thought that coconut would look really pretty and festive but then decided that flakes of coconut in your cocoa would probably not go down well. :)  We stuck with the “red chocolate” to dip it in this time because it was brighter for the kids.  But, I think that a dark chocolate rolled it crushed candy canes is a more elegant approach (if you can call marshmallows elegant) for a dinner party.  Serve them with mini candy canes to hang over the cup, toothpicks across the glass, or dump them right in.

Even better?  Just put a whole one right in your mouth by itself when you are having a moment.

 
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Twelve Days of Christmas Treats & Eats Day 5 {Minty Snowtop Cookies}

Posted by casey on December 16, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

Back in 2010 I introduced to a new favorite of mine, the chocolate “snowtop cookie“.  Typically I hadn’t been a fan of chocolate cookies, I would of rather just had some chocolate.  Those cookies completely changed my mind on a chocolate cookie.

Another holiday staple I decided to toy with a batch this year to see how I could spice them up and add some more holiday cheer to them.  The result was a soft thin mint cookie we all have been waiting for, and it only took one change, adding in a bit on Andes Creme de Menthe chips. Mmmmm minty goodness!

On the fifth day of Christmas Treats & Eats my mess of a kitchen gave to me…

Minty Snowtop Cookies, Stovetop Holiday Potpourri, Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, Bailey’s Brownies and Butterscotch Toffee Shortbread!

Day Five – Minty Snowtop Cookies

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 oz semisweet  chocolate baking square
1 oz unsweetened chocolate baking square
1/2 cup Andes Creme de Menthe chips
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Place both chocolate squares, the Andes chips and your butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. LOW! (I find that everything melts more evenly if you cut the butter up as well)

2. Once the mixture is melted and smooth, pour it into a large mixing bowl (the one you plan to use with your mixer or combine everything in) and let it cool for a few minutes (while you complete the next step or so)

3. Sift your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and set to the side.

4. Check and make sure that your chocolate mixture is just a little warm or cool, not hot. (you don’t want to cook your egg when you combine it).  Once it is good to go stir your sugar into the chocolate until it is evenly combined.

5. Once the sugar is in and mixed around, add your egg and vanilla. Now beat it until it is light and fluffy.  Believe it or not, if you put your mixer on a higher speed and watch your ingredients you will see it look lighter and well…fluffier.No, BS.

6. Once everything is all light and fluffy, scrape the sides of your bowl to make sure all of the dough is in the middle, cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.  If you are going to need that bowl for more making feel free to transfer the dough but there is no real need.

7. Now that your dough is nice and chilled, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. (You can “grease” them but I think cookies bake much more evenly on parchment paper or a silpat). Pour your powdered sugar into a small bowl.

8. Scoop the dough and shape into 3/4 inch balls.  I find that the smallest cookie dough scoop available at Williams Sonoma or Bed, Bath and Beyond works perfect. (Yes, I said a cookie dough scoop, and yes it changed my cookie making life.)

9. Take each dough ball and thoroughly roll it in your powdered sugar to coat them nice and well.  Place on your cookie sheets and bake for 12 minutes. (They will puff up and almost look as though their centers aren’t done.  Take them out anyway, they cool to perfection!)

I love reinventing a favorite recipe!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats II Day 3 {Ginger Molasses Cookies}

Posted by casey on December 14, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

My mouth is watering just thinking of this treat. Yummmmmm. Gingersnaps…but not snapp…chewy…and delicious. The perfect holiday cookie and the perfect holiday treat to give out to friends and neighbors.  Simple, spicy and sweet. Yummmmm.

On the third day of Christmas Treats & Eats My Mess of a Kitchen Gave to Me…

Chewy Ginger Cookies, Bailey’s Brownies and Butterscotch Toffee Shortbread!

Day Three – Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

  • 2-¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ¾ cups Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ¼ cups Unsulphured Molasses
  • ½ cups Granulated Sugar, For Rolling Cookie Dough Ball In

Preheat your oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger into a medium bowl and set aside.  If you are lazy like me when I have been cooking all day, I through them all in a bowl and use a whisk to fluff and incorporate the ingredients.

Cream the butter and dark brown sugar on high speed until light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes).

On medium speed, beat in the egg and molasses and then increase the speed to high and mix until it no longer looks curdled.

On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and stop once combined.

Use a 1/4 cup scoop to measure each cookie and roll them into large balls. (Sure….you can make small ones, but isn’t it fun to have a giant cookie to hand out for a change?)

Roll each cookie ball into the granulated sugar and place 4 onto the prepared baking sheet (they will spread!).

Wet the tips of your fingertips and press down the center of each cookie.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.

Remove the pan let cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool fully.

The Perfect Holiday Cookie.  Perfect!

Don’t forget to relive our first go at Twelve Days of Christmas Holiday Treats & Eats from 2010!

 
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12 Days of Christmas Treats & Eats II Day Two {Bailey’s Brownies}

Posted by casey on December 13, 2012 in In The Kitchen, Sweet Treats

No these aren’t my good friend Bailey’s brownies…although I do have a neighbor friend with a little girl named Bailey who may have eaten some of these.  Unnecessary sidenote? Kind of.  Need your chocolate fix and something to warm your tummy?  Done and Done. My husband’s affinity for this liquor said I just couldn’t pass up this recipe and the straight out of the oven result proved a success.

On the second day of Christmas, my mess of a kitchen gave to me…

Bailey’s Brownies and Butterscotch Toffee Shortbread

Day Two – Bailey’s Brownies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a square baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt until combined. Set aside.

Melt your chocolate and butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave in 30 second intervals) and set aside to cool slightly.

Once the chocolate mixture is no longer hot,but still warm add eggs, one at a time, whisking constantly to incorporate the eggs. (important that you whisk constantly or temper the eggs so they don’t cook)

Whisk vigorously for about 10 seconds to incorporate fully.
Add sugar, vanilla, and Baileys and whisk until combined.

Add the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, folding until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, give it a quick wiggle to even out the batter. Bake at for about 18-20 minutes. (18 is perfect for mine)

Serve with whipped cream/ice cream and an extra splash of Bailey’s if you desire!

(Best fresh out of the oven, but to enjoy them later be sure to re-heat to soften again!)

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