Strawberry Almond Tossed Salad

Oh my gosh, the other day was National Almond Day.  For those of you that don’t know, I am 100% ADDICTED to almonds.

As soon as I saw this recipe I knew that I had to try it because not only did it incorporate almonds, it also included one of my absolute favorite fruits: strawberries.

Didn’t it turn out beautifully?

The vinegar in the dressing gave it a big kick and next time I think I would use substantially less vinegar or maybe even try Italian dressing.

Don’t worry if you didn’t know that it was National Almond Day, I ate enough for everyone 😉

Strawberry Almond Tossed Salad

– 4 c salad greens

– 1/2 c almonds, toasted

– 1 c fresh strawberries, sliced

Dressing:

– 1/3 c cider vinegar

– 2 T sugar

– 1 t salt

– 2 T vegetable oil

– 1 T Dijon mustard

– 2 t poppy seeds

– 1/4 t pepper

Wash and dry salad greens.  Mix thoroughly all ingredients for dressing and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Toss greens, almonds and sliced strawberries with dressing.  Serve immediately.

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Homemade Almond Butters

I have a new obsession.  These are AMAZING.

These homemade almond butters were the first things that I made with my food processor that I got for Christmas.

I bought a huge bag of almonds from Sam’s Club and immediately began making these when I got home.

I couldn’t believe how easy they were to make and how delicious they were!  I made a set for me and a set for my mom (that’s why some of them have ribbons on them).

These butters are great spread on crackers, celery, fruit, or sandwiches…anywhere you would use peanut butter.  But, let’s be real, I ate most of mine straight from the jar with a spoon.

They both had very different consistencies, but I loved them both.  In fact, I just polished off the last of the cinnamon raisin variety a little bit ago. The roasted almond butter was more thin and oily while the cinnamon raisin was more thick and grainy.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the roasted kind, but that’s only if I HAD to pick!

Roasted Almond Butter

– 2 c whole raw almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 2 cups of raw almonds in single layer on baking sheet.  Roast in oven for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown and you can smell them.  After cooling, pour into food processor.  Pulse into small chunks. Turn on full speed for 7-10 minutes, checking after 7 for consistency.  Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every couple of minutes.  For creamier, oilier butter, keep going to 10 minutes or even a couple more.

Store in jars or plastic container.  Will store out of the refrigerator for 1 week, 3 months in the refrigerator and 6 months in the freezer.

Cinnamon Raisin Almond Butter

2 c raw almonds

– 1/4 c raisins

– 1 t cinnamon

– 1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread almonds in a single layer and bake for 13-15 minutes.  Cool for 20 minutes or so.

Place roasted almonds in a food processor and process for 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides.

Add remaining ingredients and begin to process again.

Process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides, about 3-5 more minutes.

Christmas Eve Mice

I’m a big fan of putting little decorative things as place settings at dinner parties (see Thanksgiving Dinner Turkeys).

I didn’t have my own Christmas dinner, but mom did and she asked me to make some cute for the tables.  I have had this recipe for months just waiting to be able to make them.

They turned out even cuter than I imagined and they were so easy to make!

All of my family kept complimenting me on them.  They must have tasted pretty good, too, because most of them got eaten!

The only word of caution that I want to give is to be careful if you transport them.  Their little ears will snap right off pretty easily.  I broke two of their ears off!  Oops!

Christmas Eve Mice

Prep: 25 minutes + chilling

– 15 double-stuffed cream filled chocolate sandwich cookies

– 1 c (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

– 2 t shortening

– 15 red maraschino cherries with stems, well-drained

– 15 milk chocolate kisses

– 30 sliced almonds

– 1 small tube red decorative icing gel

Carefully twist cookies apart, set aside the halves with cream filling.  Save plain halves for another use.  Melt semisweet chocolate chips and shortening.  Stir until smooth.  Holding each cherry by the stem, dip cherry in melted chocolate, then press onto the bottom of chocolate kiss.  Place on the cream filling of cookie with cherry stem extending beyond chocolate cookie.

For ears, place slivered almonds between the cherry and the kiss.  Refrigerate until set.  With red gel, pipe eyes on each chocolate kiss.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yield: 15 servings.

Our First Thanksgiving Dinner Party

AAHHH… That’s my sigh of relief and happiness.  Our dinner party couldn’t have gone any better.  I am so pleased.  My dad, mom, stepdad, Zack’s parents, two brothers and his brother, Caleb’s, girlfriend all came!

We have tons of leftovers, though.  I sent two whole trays of food home with my dad.  Next year, I won’t double the recipes like I did this time.

Everyone said everything was really good.  I’m so thankful for both of our families and for the fact that everyone gets along so that we can have dinners like this.

I spent all of today and yesterday cooking.  I am exhausted.  It feels so good to be sitting on my couch with my Zack doing nothing right now.

I’m just going to share all of the recipes from today in this post.  I hope you enjoy.

Be thankful for your families and for the time you get to spend with them.  I know I am.

Appetizer Course:

Here’s our appetizer table:


No Bones Chicken Wing Dip

Prep: 15 minutes

– 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

– 2 c (16 oz) sour cream

– 1 c ranch dressing

– 1/2 c buffalo wing sauce

– 2 1/2 c shredded cooked chicken

– 1 block (8 oz) Monterey jack cheese, shredded

– baby carrots, celery ribs, and crackers

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, salad dressing, and buffalo wing sauce until blended.  Stir in chicken and Monterey jack cheese.

Transfer mixture to a greased 2-qt baking dish.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Serve dip warm with baby carrots, celery, and crackers.

Yield 6 1/2 cups.

Main Course:

Our main table.  We used the oreo turkeys and little name cards as place cards.  I think it turned out adorable.


Roast Turkey

– 1 large turkey, neck and giblets removed

– 1/2 c butter, melted

– 2 large onions, peeled and chopped

– 4 carrots, peeled and chopped

– 4 stalks celery, chopped

– 2 sprigs fresh thyme

– 1 bay leaf

– 1 c dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Thoroughly rinse turkey.

Brush turkey with melted butter.  Place breast side up on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan.  I cooked mine in an oven bag in a roasting pan.  Stuff the turkey cavity with 1 onion, 1/2 the carrots, 1/2 the celery, 1 sprig of thyme, and the bay leaf.  Scatter the remaining vegetables and thyme around the bottom of the roasting pan (in the bag for me) and cover with white wine.

Roast uncovered 3 1/2 – 4 hours in preheated oven until internal temperature of thigh reaches 180 degree.  Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.

 Side Dishes:


Butterflake Rolls

1 t yeast

– 3/4 c very warm water

– 1/4 c sugar

– 1 egg

– 2 egg yolks

– 3/4 t salt

– 1/2 c buttermilk

– 2 1/2 – 3 c AP flour

– 1 stick butter, softened

Prepare a muffin tin for baking by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray, or tossing a small pat of butter into bottom of each cup.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix yeast in 1/4 c warm water until dissolved.  Add the sugar.  Whisk in the salt and eggs.  Beat in milk and remaining water until well mixed.

Use a wooden spoon to stir in about 2 1/2 cups of flour, adding more (up to 3 cups) as necessary to make a soft dough.  You want to be able to knead the dough and not have it stick to your fingers, but still have the dough be soft and pillowy.  Less is definitely more here.

Knead dough a few times.  Roll out dough to 1/2″ thickness and spread with a thin layer of butter (it should be about 2 tablespoons).  Fold dough in half, then spread with butter.  Repeat this 4 more times.

Once you’ve finished buttering, roll into 1/2″ thickness and cut dough into 1×1 inch squares.  Place 3-4 squares in each non-stick sprayed muffin tin.  Let rise about 45-60 minutes or until well-risen.

Bake in middle rack at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.


Stuffed Ham & Provolone Rolls

– 2 c herb flavored stuffing cubes

– 1/2 c boiling water

– 2 T + 2 t butter, divided

– 8 slices deli ham

– 8 slices provolone cheese

– 1 egg, beaten

– 1 T water

– 1/2 c dry bread crumbs

Combine stuffing, boiling water and 2 T butter.  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.  Top each ham slice with a cheese slice.  Spoon 1/4 c stuffing mixture over center of cheese; roll up and secure with a toothpick.  Whisk eggs and water together.  Roll ham rolls in egg mixture, then roll in bread crumbs.  In a large skillet over medium heat, saute ham rolls in remaining butter for 4-5 minutes, or until golden, turning only once.  Discard toothpicks before serving.

Yield: 8 rolls

Turkey Gravy

Prep: 10 min.  Cook: 7 min.

– 3 cans (14 oz each) chicken broth

– 1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup

– 1 t poultry seasoning

– 1/2 t black pepper

– 1/4 t garlic powder

– 1 c milk

– 1/3 + 2 T AP flour

– 2 T corn starch

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir in soup and season with poultry seasoning, pepper, and garlic powder.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer.

Warm the milk in the microwave and whisk in the flour and cornstarch with a fork until there are no lumps.  Return the gravy to a boil, and gradually stir in the milk mixture.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until thickened.  Be careful not to let the bottom scorch.


Stuffing

– 4 T butter

– 1 medium onion, chopped

– 3 celery stalks, diced

– 1/2 t salt

– 1 t ground sage

– 1 t dry thyme

– 10 c dried unseasoned bread cubes

– 1 1/2 c chicken broth

– 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a large pan.  Saute onions, celery, salt, sage, and thyme for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Turn off heat.  Add bread cubes and gently stir them into the onion mixture.  Slowly pour chicken broth over the bread cubes folding everything so the bread cubes do not break apart too much.  In a small bowl, gently whisk the egg and add it to the stuffing mix.  Continue to fold everything until the egg is incorporated.  Scoop uncooked stuffing into a medium casserole dish and bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until nice and toasty on top.

 

Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

– 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

– 3/4 c evaporated milk

– 1/4 c butter

– 1 c (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

Place potatoes in a large saucepan.  Cover with water; bring to a boil.  Cook over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes or until tender; drain.

Return potatoes to saucepan; add evaporated milk and butter.  Beat with hand-held mixer until smooth.  Stir in cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.



Sweet Potato Souffle

– 6 c mashed sweet potatoes

– 2 c sugar

– 1 t salt

– 4 eggs

– 2/3 c stick butter, softened

– 2/3 c milk

2 t vanilla

Combine with mixer and pour into greased casserole dish.

– 2 c brown sugar

– 1 c flour

– 2 c chopped pecans

– 1 stick melted butter

Mix well and distribute over potatoes.  Bake 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

 Deviled Eggs

See Deviled Eggs for recipe.

Green Beans

Just take some green beans, I used about 3 lbs here and then add a bouillon cube (1 per lb).  Bring to a boil then simmer.  The longer you let it simmer, the better they are.

Desserts:


Pecan Pie

Prep: 20 minutes.  Bake 50 minutes.

– Pastry for 1 crust pie

– 2/3 c sugar

– 1/3 c butter

– 1 c corn syrup

– 1/2 t salt

– 3 large eggs

– 1 c pecan halves broken halves

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and eggs in medium bowl with wire whisk or hand beater until well blended.  Stir in pecans.  Pour into pastry lined pie plate.  Bake 40-50 minutes or until center is set.

 


Colossal Caramel Apple Trifle (COLOSSAL = key word)

Prep: 40 minutes

– 1 package yellow cake mix

– 6 c cold milk

– 3 package (3.4 oz each) instant vanilla pudding mix

– 1 t apple pie spice

– 1 jar ( 12 1/4 oz) caramel ice cream topping

– 1 1/2 c chopped pecans, toasted

– 2 cans (21 oz each) apple pie filling

– 2 cartons (16 oz each) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Prepare and bake cake according to package directions using 2 greased 9-inch round baking pans.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, whisk milk, pudding mixes and apple pie spice for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft set.

Cut one cake layer if necessary to fit evenly in an 8-quart punch bowl.  Poke holes in cake with a long wooden skewer.  Gradually pour a third of the caramel topping over the cake.  Sprinkle with 1/2 c pecans and spread with half of the pudding mixture.

Spoon one can of pie filling over pudding; spread with 1 carton of whipped topping.  Top with remaining cake and repeat layers.  Drizzle with remaining caramel topping and sprinkle with remaining pecans.  Refrigerate until serving.


Pumpkin Pie

Prep: 20 minutes.  Bake 1 hr 10 minutes.  Cool 2 hours.

– pastry for 1 crust pie

– 2 large eggs

– 1/2 c sugar

– 1 t ground cinnamon

– 1/2 t salt

– 1/2 t ground ginger

– 1/8 t ground cloves

– 1 can (16 oz) pumpkin

– 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

– whipped cream, if desired

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Make pastry for unbaked one pie crust; before adding filling, partially bake pastry (carefully line pastry with double thickness of aluminum foil, gently pressing to bottom and sides of pastry. Let foil extend over edge to prevent excess browning.  Bake 10 minutes; carefully remove foil and bake 2-4 minutes longer or just until pastry begins to brown and has become set.  If crust bubbles, gently push bubbles down with back of spoon..

Beat eggs slightly in medium bowl with wire whisk or hand beater.  Beat in remaining ingredients except whipped cream.

Cover edge of pie crust with 2-3 inch of aluminum foil to prevent excess browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.  To prevent spilling filling, place pie plate on oven rack.  Pour filling into hot pie crust.

Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake about 45 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack 2 hours.  Serve with whipped cream.  After cooling, pie can remain at room temperature up to an additional 4 hours, then should be recovered and refrigerated.


Oreo Turkeys

– Double Stuff Oreo Cookies

– Candy Corn

– Whoppers

– Peanut Butter Cups

– Chocolate Frosting

– Writing icing (any color) for eyes

Grab a cookie and put some chocolate icing in the edge.  Stick some candy corn in.  The icing makes it stick better.  It’s easier if you do all the cookies through this step.

Next, secure the opposite end of those cookies to a bottom cookie with a gob of icing.  If they are not sturdy, you can set them against the wall until the icing hardens a little.

While they are drying, unwrap the peanut butter cups.  Take a sharp knife and cut a sliver off of one end.  It helps to gently cut in a sawing motion so you don’t break the peanut butter cup.  Cut from the bottom.

Place a gob of icing on the peanut butter cup and place it on the bottom cookie.

Glue a whopper on top of the peanut butter cup with icing.  I put frosting on the side of the whopper touching the peanut butter cup and the cookie.

Use another gob of icing and glue on the white tip of a candy corn for a beak.  Put two dots of your writing icing for eyes.


Hot Mulled Cider

Float a few apple slices and some cinnamon sticks in the drink as it warms.

– 2 qt apple cider

– 1 orange, quartered

– 1/4 c brown sugar, packed
– 1/4 t pumpkin pie spice

– 2 (4-in) cinnamon sticks

– 6 whole cloves

Combine all ingredients in a 3-quart slow cooker; cover and cook on low 2-4 hours.  Remove orange sections and spices before serving.

 

Halloween Goodies

I’ve been waiting for this all month.

I have a special section in my recipe binder entitled “Halloween” and I’ve been looking at it for weeks just waiting until I got to try them out.  Well, yesterday was finally the day.  At Zack’s place of employment, they are dressing up today and doing all sorts of Halloween-esque things, so I used that as an excuse to send these goodies with him.

I had a recipe for popcorn owls that was ADORABLE and the recipe I was most looking forward to trying out, but it was a disaster.  I thought about still including the recipe in here, but it was THAT much of a disaster that I threw it away.

I’ll still include a picture of the one owl I attempted.  To make them, you made popcorn balls (one big and one smaller) and stuck them together to form the body and head of the owl.  You then were supposed to decorate them with various candies and adhere them to the owl using marshmallow creme.  Well, the marshmallow creme did not hold and caused everything to slide right off, so I tried using some frosting.  Same problem.  I was disappointed.

See how awful it looks? Somebody needs to go to cosmetology school. I had to hold the eyes on until the last second when  I took the picture, because they slid off that fast.  They would have been adorable had they worked.  Oh well, at least my other stuff turned out well.

Quick Ghost Cookies

These were so easy to make and I think they’re adorable!  I talked to my mom yesterday and she was making a batch of these, too.  I guess great minds think alike!

These would be cute with mouths painted on, too, but I was pretty tired by this point (I made these next to last), so they will have to wait until next year to get mouths.

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes

– 1 lb white candy coating, coarsely chopped

– 1 package (1 lb) Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies

– miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Melt candy coating (in microwave, double boiler, or candy melter), stirring occasionally.  Dip cookies into coating, covering completely.  Place on waxed paper.

Brush ends with bakery brush dipped in coating where fingers touched cookies.  While coating is still warm, place 2 chips on each cookie for eyes.  Let stand until set.  Store in an airtight container.

Yield: about 3 dozen.

Miniature Witches

I loved making these.  It is strictly just assembling the parts (which I like) so it is more like you are doing a craft instead of baking.  I would definitely make these again.

You could used canned icing to decorate these, but I just used some left over icing from when I made cake pops (shown below).

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes

– 1/2 cup vanilla frosting, divided

– 36 mini semisweet chocolate chips

– 12 large marshmallows

– 1 drop each green, red, yellow food coloring

– 1/4 c flaked coconut

– 12 chocolate wafers

– 12 mini peanut butter cups

– 12 milk chocolate kisses

For the face of each witch, place a dab of the frosting on the bottom of three chocolate chips; press two for eyes and one for each nose onto each marshmallow.

For hair, combine green food coloring and a drop of water in a small resealable plastic bag.  Add coconut and shake well.  Spread a small amount of frosting on the side of marshmallows.  Press coconut into frosting.  Place 2 tablespoons of frosting in a small heavy duty resealable plastic bag.  Tint orange with yellow and red food coloring, set aside.

For hats, spread some of the remaining frosting in the center of the chocolate wafers, press the peanut butter cups upside down into frosting.  Lightly spread bottoms of chocolate kisses with frosting.  Place on the peanut butter cups.  Cut a small hole in the corner of pastry or plastic bag, insert a small star tip (I used tip 16).  Fill the bag with frosting and pipe stars around the base of each peanut butter cup.  Secure the hat to each witch with a dab of frosting.

Yield: 1 dozen.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

If you had asked me two weeks ago if I would try this (or even bake it) I would have looked at you in utter disgust.  My whole life I’ve had a strong aversion to pumpkin food, but I finally gave in last week and made a pumpkin roll…and it was delicious.

I had some pumpkin left over from it, so when I saw this recipe I knew it had to be added to the Halloween goodies menu.

I’m a big fan of fudge and this is AMAZING.  It has such a good flavor and it literally melts in your mouth.  It’s easy to make, too.

– 2 cups white sugar

– 1 cup light brown sugar

– 3/4 cup butter

– 2/3 cup condensed milk

– 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

– 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

– 1 package white chocolate chips

– 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme

– 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

– 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the sugars, butter, condensed milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice.  Heat until all the ingredients are combined and begin to boil.  Stirring constantly, allow the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes or until it reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove from pan and quickly stir in the white chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, nuts (if using), and vanilla until all ingredients are fully combined and the chips are melted.  Immediately pour the fudge into your prepared baking dish and let sit on a wire rack for at least 2 hours to cool.  Store in the refrigerator.

Cut fudge into squares before serving.

Halloween Cake Pops

I love the idea of a cake pop.  Bite size pieces of cake, mixed with icing, covered in chocolate?  Count me in!  I’ve been wanting to make some for a while, but hadn’t had a reason to until now.

The only “bad” thing about making cake pops is that there is so much idle time…wait for the cake to bake, wait for it to cool, wait for the balls to harden in the freezer, wait for the coating to harden…

I would definitely make them again, though.  I was very pleased with the way that they turned out.  I made half of them with the Halloween sprinkles like shown below and half just plain chocolate.

Here they all are arranged in their bouquets.  Aren’t they adorable?  I individually wrapped each one in a treat bag so that they would be easy to grab and take with them.

Cake:

– 2 1/4 cup AP flour

– 1 2/3 cup sugar

– 2/3 cup shortening

– 1 1/4 cups milk

– 3 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 5 large egg whites

– food coloring, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom and sides of 9×13 pan.

Beat all ingredients together except egg whites and food coloring in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Beat in egg whites on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in food coloring, if using.  Pour into pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack completely, about 1 hour.

Buttercream Frosting:

– 2 sticks butter, softened

– 1/2 tablespoon clear vanilla extract

– 1 lb confectioners’ sugar

– 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy.  Slowly add in confectioners’ sugar and continue creaming until well blended.

Add vanilla, 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or milk.  Blend on low speed until moistened.  Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency.  Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Make Pops:

– cake

– icing

– 1 bag melting chocolate (12 oz) any color

– 1 bag lollipop sticks

– 1 bag treat bags

Once the cake has completely cooled, begin gently crumbling the cake.  Place sections of the cake into a large bowl, 1/4 of the cake at a time.  When you’re finished, you should have a bunch of very fine cake crumbs.

Use two forks to work the icing into the cake.  Keep working until the icing is no longer visible.  It will eventually blend in entirely.

Next, roll the mixture into balls – make them about walnut size – a small ice cream scoop could help with this.

Pop them in the freezer, uncovered, for at least an hour.  The cake balls need to be very firm before coating them.

When cake balls are nice and firm, go ahead and melt your candy coating, stirring occasionally.

Insert a stick sideways into each ball (paying attention to flat part on bottom).  Now you can either dip in chocolate or spoon it over top.  Be sure to thoroughly coat bottom of ball where it meets the stick.  Lay them back down onto waxed or parchment paper, paying attention to flat part (put against parchment again).

Now decorate & put into treat bags!

Delicious and Easy Apple Snacks


Who doesn’t love apples?  They are sweet, juicy, easy to eat on the go…the reasons go on and on.  One of the main reasons that I love them is that they are so easy to manipulate.  You can slap virtually any topping on them and have a delicious, healthy snack.

Apples are also the perfect snack for kids, because they are finger foods!  Also, children love getting to put all the different toppings and making their own, unique snack (I know I loved doing this as a kid!).

For this apple, I put peanut butter on 4 of the slices.  I topped one of the peanut butter covered ones with cocoa powder, one with butterscotch chips, one was plain peanut butter, and one had cocoa crispies.  I topped another with honey.  The last one was covered with a smear of Nutella.

These are a fun way to experiment with different flavors and stay relatively healthy at the same time.

It’s apple season so get out there and pick some apples and make some apple snacks!

My FAVORITE Dessert – Peanut Butter Lovers Dessert

It’s no secret that I LOVE peanut butter.  I love it anyway you can imagine – on a spoon straight from the jar, any kind of baked goods, and with bananas.

Both of my parents share this obsession, too, and it’s growing on Zack.

That said, this is my absolute favorite dessert.  It is heavenly.

The only bad thing is, it’s really easy to make, so I make it more than I should…my waistline doesn’t like it 😉

What’s that in there? A hidden layer of chocolate?  OH YES.  Just another delicious part of this delectable dessert.

This dessert is best served cold (and really good frozen, too!).

Peanut Butter Lovers Dessert

Prep: 20 minutes.  12 servings.

– 15 peanut butter sandwich cookies (I used Nutter Butters)

– 3 tablespoons butter, melted

– 8 oz cream cheese, softened

– 12 oz whipped topping

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

– 2 teaspoons vanilla

– 2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolates, melted

Line a 9″ loaf pan with aluminum foil.  Crush 10 of the peanut butter cookies and mix with the melted butter.  Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the loaf pan until it is nice and compacted.

Mix the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in 3 cups of the whipped topping; mixing well.  Remove 1/2 cup of the cream cheese mixture into a small dish, stir in melted chocolate and set aside.

Spoon half of the cream cheese mixture into the loaf pan, over the cookie crust and spread evenly.

Add the chocolate mixture on top and spread evenly, trying not to mix with the bottom layer.  Add the remaining cream cheese mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and spread evenly.

Freeze for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Remove from freezer and invert onto a plate, remove the aluminum foil and then re-invert onto a serving platter (cookie crust should be the bottom).

Break the remainder of the cookies into medium sized chunks.  Top the dessert with remaining whipped topping and sprinkle with broken cookies.

Cut into slices and serve.  Store remaining dessert in the refrigerator.

Homemade Butterfingers

Butterfingers are probably my favorite candy bar.  They have the best flavor and such a wonderful texture.  I did not have a clue how they were made, so when I came across a recipe for them on the internet, I could not resist trying it out!

Plus, with only 3 ingredients, how could you go wrong?

These things turned out great! If they didn’t taste exactly like butterfingers, they were darn close!  I think it’s cool that they use candy corn as an ingredient, but it sucks that I will only be able to make them in the fall!

Some of them covered with the chocolate really well and others were kind of lumpy, but it definitely did not take away from the taste.

I will probably end up making a bunch of these in the next month or so, so that I can get it out of my system for the rest of the year! 🙂

Major YUM!

Homemade Butterfingers

Adapted From: In Katrina’s Kitchen

– 3 cups candy corn

– 1 cup peanut butter

– chocolate for dipping

Melt candy corn in the microwave for about 60 seconds.  Check and stir returning to microwave for 15 second intervals until completely melted.

Add peanut butter and combine.  Return to microwave if necessary to incorporate until creamy.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan and let cool about an hour.

Cut candy into desired shape and cover in melted chocolate.

Homemade Kit Kat Candy Bars

Poor Zack.  He’s been deprived.  He’s been asking me to make him some Homemade Kit Kats for months, but I’ve always either forgotten or decided to make something else.

Last night we were grocery shopping and he picked up a Kit Kat to put in our cart and I said, “okay, okay okay, I will make you some homemade ones when I get home.”

These things are difficult in some ways and easy in others to make.  They require no baking (the easy part), but they are nearly impossible to break into bars at the end (the hard part).

The end verdict: Zack says they were very good, but not too much like actual Kit-Kats…I guess I will keep trying.

You can see how poorly they broke up.  Some pieces wouldn’t break at all and others shattered.

A view of the bars still in the baking dish.  They look yummy to me. 🙂

Homemade Kit Kats

– 1 box square butter crackers (like Club crackers)

– 1 cup butter (2 sticks)

– 2 cups graham cracker crumbs

– 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

– 1/2 cup white sugar

– 1/2 cup milk

– 2 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

– 1 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

– 1 cup peanut butter chips

You need: a 13×9 inch baking dish, a smaller baking dish, plastic wrap, and cooking spray.

Spray the smaller pan with cooking spray and lay crackers edge-to-edge along the bottom.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the milk.

Add the sugars and bring to a boil.

Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour about 1/2 of the filling over the layer of crackers.

Make another layer of crackers in the same way as the first.

Pour the rest of the filling over your crackers.

Make a third layer of crackers on top.

Cover with cling wrap and put in the refrigerator to firm up (or freezer if you’re in a hurry).

Cut the pan of crackers into sticks after the candy has cooled and then returned to room temperature.

Melt the three kinds of chips in a double boiler, microwave, or candy melter until smooth and creamy.  Pay attention, because the butterscotch chips are difficult to get completely melted.

Cover a larger baking dish in plastic wrap.  Pour in a layer of chocolate and allow to set.

Arrange the bars you cut previously on top of the chocolate layer.

Coat the bars in another layer of chocolate, making sure to cover the tops and sides.

Once they’re set, break them up into bars.

Good luck!

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs are another one of those staple picnic foods.  My dad is a big fan of them and Zack likes the whites.  I don’t like them, though.  I’m not a big fan of mustard (unless it’s honey mustard!).

About a month ago, Zack and I went to my dad’s house and I cooked him dinner.  I decided to try my hand at making some deviled eggs for them.

They are the easiest side dish ever to make.  Just a few ingredients and a little bit of prep work and boom you’re done!

Deviled Eggs

– 6 eggs

– 2 tbsp mayo

– few grains of pepper

– 1/2 tsp prepared mustard

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/4 tsp paprika

Hard boil eggs. Cut into halves lengthwise and remove yolks. Mix  yolks and other ingredients together and refill egg whites.

Enjoy 🙂