12.28.2012

My 2012 Favs!

.  Holy crap.  So much has been going on this month that I have completely neglected LSM.  Like, more so than ever before.  And I know I've been saying that a lot lately but it's gotten bad.

And by the way things are going right now, it probably won't get much better for a while.  But hey, it happens.  Get over it ☺

But for the time being, I've put together some of my most favorite and delicious recipes from the past year for you to enjoy.  Whether you missed them completely or put them on a baking list that you never got around to, here's a second chance to really make an impression on your friends and family.  Whether you're looking for an easy peasy or elegant recipe, I think this collection will have exactly what you need.  And if not...check out another blog.

JUST KIDDING!  Check out my recipes page above, duh!

Hope everyone's holidays have been blissful, I know I've thoroughly enjoyed mine.  But a recap on all of that later.  For now...get clickin' and have a happy New Year!  .



























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12.20.2012

Party Weekend and the Ugly Sweater 5K!

.  Hi everyone!  So this last weekend was quite a blur, what with work parties Friday and Saturday night and then a 5K run mid-Sunday morning.  Don't get me wrong though, it was a blasty blast.

Saturday was a complete whirlwind.  I took part in organizing the party, which was an end of the year bash for a group I'm a part of at work.  So Saturday was spent finishing desserts, putting together goodie containers, and whipping up a decadent Coconut Hot Chocolate.  Oh yeah, and forgetting to put my bread pudding in the oven [no joke, I seriously did that and had to bake the thing at the hosts house!].  But all in all, the party went over extremely well, which included some hilarious Minute to Win It games, an ugly sweater contest, karaoke, and of course, too much food to handle.  And I couldn't have asked for a better night with a more genuinely special group of people.


OH!  And I can't forget to mention the goodie bags [containers] that I made for the party, too.  Hollyann and I spent numerous hours rolling and dipping Christmas Cake Truffles and Apple Cinnamon Truffles to put in the cute little candy cane-striped boxes you see above for everyone to take home.  Needless to say it was quite a bit of work but very worth it.  Better to give than to receive, right?!

Then came Sunday morning and the Ugly Sweater 5K.  And what a great time that was!!

I ran the race with some of my most favorite people, Jess, Bailey, and a new found friend, Katie, and despite the winter chill, we all thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent together!  The course was great, with unique picture taking stops at every mile [e.g., trees and man-made snow, hot chocolate booths, and Clark Griswold's front lawn!] and lo' and behold, it actually started snowing the moment we crossed the finish line.  A Kodak moment, I would say.

So since so much went on this last weekend, I thought it'd be fun to once again share bits of my life with you in pictures.  Pictures say a thousand words anyway, right?  Enjoy!


P.S. check out Jess' blog, Blonde Ponytail, for her recap of the race day activities.  She's pretty much a beast [in a toned, outrageous body kind of way] so if you're looking for some New Year's Resolutions workouts, that's the place to stop!  .

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12.10.2012

Eggnog Fudge

Take it or leave it.

It's that simple.


When it comes to eggnog.

Am I right or am I right?  My conclusion is that you either love eggnog or you despise it.  There really is no in between with this distinctly thick and rich holiday beverage.  Personally, I'm an eggnog lover.  But I've definitely come across my share of haters.  So if you're the latter, I'd love for you continue reading my post but I'm fairly certain you won't find this fudge appealing.  Sowwy, guys.


But hey, if you're still here, you made a wise choice.  I was overly pleased with this fudge because not only is it oozing with eggnog goodness, but it's legit!  Sweet, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth fudge.  All of the key qualities a fine fudge must possess, right?  Correct.  And it doesn't get much more holiday-esque than eggnog. 

I had a hunch this was a smash recipe because it uses marshmallow fluff, and I'm a firm believer it's the key ingredient.  My first fudge attempt was for an SRC post, Cherry Walnut Fudge, and that recipe included marshmallow fluff as well.  And...it was the best fudge I'd ever had.  Let alone made.  The author of the recipe attributed the delectable-ness to the marshmallow fluff, so I'm stickin' with that.  And this Eggnog Fudge follows suit.


So how to describe this festive treat?  Well...it's rich and sweet.  The eggnog itself is complemented by white chocolate, marshmallow fluff, and salty butter.  And putting that all into one bowl will surely give you something scrumptious, but small bites are all you're going to need.  Well, you'll probably end up eating a lot of those little bites.  But hey, who's counting?  It's the holidays!  .

My Notes:
  • Be patient when making the fudge.  It will probably take several minutes to get the temperature where it's supposed to be, but it'll be worth it because you'll get the most perfect consistency!



Ingredients:
1/2 c. butter
2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. eggnog
2 c. sugar
10 oz. white chocolate chips
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Line a 9x9-inch pan with foil; set aside.
  2. Combine butter, heavy whipping cream, eggnog, and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once boiling, reduce heat a bit and using a candy thermometer, continue cooking until temperature reaches 234°F.  Remove pan from heat and stir in white chocolate chips until completely melted and blended in.  Add in marshmallow creme, nutmeg, and vanilla extract.  Stir until smooth and pour into pan.
  3. Sprinkle top with additional nutmeg (if desired).  Let cool to room temperature before removing from pan and cutting into small pieces (I found it best to put the fudge into the refrigerator to cool).
Yield: 32 servings


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12.04.2012

Celebrating My "Little" Brother


.  For one reason or another, I recently realized I have failed to mention on LSM a very important man in my life: my brother, Tyler.

As you may have noticed, I referred to him him as my "little" brother because even though he's four years younger, most people assume he's older simply for the fact that he dang near towers over me and I think my body alone may barely consist of one of his muscular legs.


To compare not only our physical appearances but also our interests is quite comical because we really could not be more complete opposites.  But hey, that's what makes life interesting!  I've watched my brother grow from a somewhat rebellious child to a driven, motivated, and humble young man.  Words can't explain the admiration I have for him and his passion for life.  He never takes a second for granted and is constantly on the move working towards his next goal.  We could all learn a thing or two from him, believe me.


Anywho, Tyler is now a senior at Winona State University and only has one more semester before he hits the 'real world.'  But his 'real world' reality is quite different than most, as Tyler is training to become a cop and is also a part of the ROTC program at school.  Crazy guy, huh?  But he's had an innate passion for these careers since he was a little tike.  Oh, the stories we could tell!


But an important celebration for his ROTC program involves an annual Holiday Ball where  families and friends comes together to honor the students and all of their accomplishments.  We're still debating this, but Tyler 'inadvertently' forgot to invite his family to the prior years Holiday Balls but fortunately for his final year, we made the cut.  So this last weekend I ventured back to Minnesota to participate in this special night!


As you can tell, I'm a bit sour about the fact that we only made one Ball because my family and I had such a wonderful time!  It was so amazing to finally meet all of the people that have been such an integral part of Tyler's life for the past four years.  And my, are they wonderful people!  It was a complete honor to be in a room filled with the future men and women who will be protecting our country.


So needless to say, my family and I enjoyed a full evening of fun chatter, wonderful food, beautiful clothes, and celebrating one of the most important people in my life.  Couldn't ask for more, really.  So while you weren't there, I wanted to share a few pictures of our beautiful night and dish about my younger brother.  He'll be so embarrassed ☺  .

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11.30.2012

Brown Butter Cranberry Shortbread


.  Heyyy-o!

How has everyone's holidays been?!  Well, just Thanksgiving I guess.  I know I say this every year but the holidays creep up on me faster and faster.  It's crazy.  Can you believe 2012 is near over?  And isn't the end of the world coming up quite soon here, too?  Just kidding.

Hopefully.

Anywho, my life has been a bit topsy turvy as of late and the holidays are not making anything calmer.  Aside from conjuring up Christmas presents for everyone, working, slipping in a workout or two, and attempting to blog, I also have several Christmas parties coming up that I'm oh-so-excited for.  But really, who wouldn't be?!  So needless to say, both my weeks and weekends are pretty much jam packed for the rest of the month.  And so here's my early apology for neglecting LSM.  It's already begun and I feel bad about it.  Sowwy.


As you can tell, it's been hard for me to get in the kitchen for one reason or another.  Too tired, too busy, you know the deal.  But I made myself bake something this week because I knew it'd make me feel better.  And the magic of baking worked.

I decided to go with something rather easy and uncomplicated because I was short for time and energy, but dang.  I'm glad I did.  I opted to try out une gamine dans la cuisine's Brown Butter Cranberry Shortbread because it seemed classic and simple, yet I knew it'd be a quality treat as this blog is one of my all time favorites.


And.  I was right.  The bar consists of a tart, jam-like cranberry filling nested atop a soft, brown buttery, shortbread and finished with crumble of the same shortbread mixture.  Does that make sense...?  In my head it reads funny.  But regardless, all you must know is that the combination of the sweet, brown butter shortbread, and [very] tart cranberry filling is one festive holiday treat that will keep you coming back for seconds.  Or thirds.  Addictive little buggers.

I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season.  As we well know, it only comes around once a year and even if you're feeling the stress of it all, take a breath and really enjoy it.  Family, friends, and food.  What more could we want?!  .

From une gamine dans la cuisine

Ingredients:

Crust and Crumble:
1 c. plus 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. sugar, divided
3/4 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3 c. plus 3 tbsp. all purpose flour

Cranberry Filling:
1 (12 oz.) bag fresh cranberries
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. orange juice

Directions:
  1. Line a 13x9-inch pan with foil; butter or spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Increase heat to medium and, stirring occasionally, cook the butter until it turns golden and develops a nutty aroma (about 5 to 8 minutes).  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cooled brown butter, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt until well blended.  Add the egg yolks and almond extract and whisk until smooth.  Using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour until you have a stiff dough.
  4. Transfer about 2 cups of the dough into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Refrigerate for 40 minutes.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar to the remaining dough and using your fingertips, work the sugar into the dough until it becomes crumbly.  Cover and set aside.
  5. In the oven, place one rack second from the bottom and the other rack second from the top.  Heat oven to 325°F.
  6. Once done, remove the crust from the refrigerator and prick the dough with a fork several times.  Place the pan on the lowest rack and bake 15 minutes or just until crust begins to set (don't worry if the center is still doughy, it's better to under bake at this point).
  7. For the filling, in a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid turns into a thick syrup and the cranberries take on a chunky, jam-like consistency.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the filling to cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. Spread the filling over the partially baked crust and crumble the remaining topping over the filling.  Place the pan on the highest rack and increase oven to 350°F.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crumb topping is golden brown.  Let bars cool for 1 hour before cutting.
Yield: 2 dozen bars

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11.19.2012

Secret Recipe Club: Apple Cinnamon Truffles

.  Dang SRC, you one upped yourself this month.

Truly.

Before I get into these luscious, creamy truffles you see before you, I must first talk about my November assignment: Mother Thyme.


For you bloggers, you know the blogs you 'favorite' and religiously follow?  Those blogs that in your mind you say 'one day, I'll have a blog like theirs...maybe.'  Well Mother Thyme, created by Jennifer, is one of those blogs for me.  Gorgeous pictures, slideshows, and organization like none other.  I kind of think only fellow bloggers can appreciate all of the techno things we find on certain blogs, knowing that so much effort goes into the smallest of things.  But bringing your idea to fruition is truly one of the greatest rewards.  And Mother Thyme is doing it right.

But to back up that lovely interface, Mother Thyme is crankin' out a variety of quality recipes, both savory and sweet!  Oh and guess what, she also has a cookbook!  Now that's legit, huh?

 
So no one should be shocked that I absolutely fell. in. love with these Apple Cinnamon Truffles.  First, how cute are they?!  But I'd like to let you know that they taste even better than they look.  Or sound, for that matter.  They are unreal!  For reals.

Let's start with the innards [probably not a great food descriptor but we'll go with it].  Smooth, creamy, apple delishness finished with a Fall-ey hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Uh, yum.  But to round the treat out, the apple [slightly] cinnamon filling is encased in a cinnamon white chocolate coating.  A super cinnamoney coating, to be exact.  And it all merries together just right.  

And to make these truffles even more appealing is the fact that the are stupid easy to put together.   In no time flat, you'll have an impressive [no bake] treat to go around the room.  And with all of the Thanksgiving craziness, who isn't looking for a dessert just like that?!  Well you are, trust me.


So once again, thank you SRC and especially Mother Thyme, for broadening my dessert spread. I can't wait to share these luscious truffles with family and friends, and I know they'll love me for it when I do!  I'll give you some cred though.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving week, I personally can't wait to eat my little heart out!  Now get bakin'!  .


From Mother Thyme

Ingredients:
1 package Golden Oreos
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c. chunky applesauce
2-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
10 oz. white chocolate baking bar (for melting)

Directions:
  1. Line a large baking sheet with wax paper; set aside.
  2. Break up Oreo cookies and place in a food processor.  Pulse until cookies are finely crushed.  Transfer to a large bowl and mix with cream cheese, applesauce, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg until well combined [you can use a spatula but I found it easiest to just use my hands].
  3. Roll filling into about 1/2 tablespoon balls and place on lined baking sheet.  Chill in refrigerator 15 minutes or until firm.
  4. Melt chocolate as directed on package.  Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  One by one, roll balls in chocolate and place back on lined baking sheet to cool.  Once all are done, place in refrigerator to set chocolate.
Yield: 3 dozen truffles

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11.13.2012

Musselman's Giveaway Winner, a Lucky Leaf Pie Filling Giveaway, and Cherry Cheesecake Pie


One giveaway ends and another begins. 

But who's complainin'?!

Can you believe this?  LSM has NEVER had one giveaway.  Not even one in it's almost two years of existance.  Yet in the past month, we've had three!  Weird how things work, huh?

So first things first.  The Musselman's Apple Butter Package giveaway winner!

Drum rolllllll, please...

Cyndi Hamm!

Congratulations, Ms. Hamm, you are officially LSM's second giveaway winner!  You should be receiving [or already received] an e-mail from myself to get some of the info I'll need to get you your Apple Butter package, which I can't wait for you to get because I had such an amazing time with it!

And now on to some more exciting news!


I have for you both another giveaway and a stupidly [outrageously delicious] festive holiday pie that you will not want to pass up.  I kid you not.

So let's get into the details for this giveaway.  Like the Musselman's giveaway, I was contacted to see if I would like to test out some Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Fillings and offer up a package to one of my readers.  And like Musselman's, I said heck yes

My BFF.  She makes me proud.

If you've read any LSM pie posts, you know that I adore pies pretty much more than anything.  Seriously.  Flaky, buttery crusts and sweet fillings will never be passed over by me.  No, sirree.  So there was no way I was skipping this opportunity.

After my acceptance, I received a substantial package in the mail a few days later filled with ALL sorts of goodies, including peach, blueberry, and cherry pie filling, a [SUPER ADORABLE] handmade warming towel, and three recipes demonstrating the various ways you can use the filling!  Hmm...AWESOME.


So what to do with all of these options?!  Well, make a pie, of course!  And that I did.  But not just any ol' pie.  Nah, I had to go for something a bit more creative.  A bit more sinful.  And, of course, holiday-ish.

And here's what I [a.k.a Woman's Day] came up with: Cherry Cheesecake Pie.

Yes, it's as good as it sounds.  And probably more decadent.


So what we have is exactly what you think.  The easiest, butteriest [word?], flakey crust you'll ever meet encasing an outrageously smooth, almond cheesecake, topped with the thick and creamy Lucky Leaf Cherry Pie Filling [seriously, it's impressive], and finished with a stunning pie crust lattice.

And even with all of those layers, this pie is actually quite simple.  And to make your life even easier, you can always use a store brought crust.  Though [like I'll say time and time again], it will never get any easier than this pie crust right here.


So what do you have to do to get the chance to make this very pie free of charge?  Leave a comment below, silly! Just tell me what creative recipes you'd try using the Lucky Leaf Pie Filling.  And to get some additional entries, follow Lucky Leaf on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and leave an extra comment below for each one telling me you did so.  Sweet and simple.  You have until November 24, 2012, so get commenting!

And just to recap, the winner will win the following:

1 (21 oz.) can Lucky Leaf Cherry Pie Filling
1 Seasonal Towel
1 Recipe Card
And lastly, I leave with you the recipe for this mouthwatering pie I made with the Lucky Leaf Filling.  Fo reals, it's pretty dyaaaaamn good.  That is all  .

 Adapted from Woman's Day

Ingredients:
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 (8 oz. each) packages cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 (21 oz.) can Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Filling
1 egg white
1/3 c. sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Prepare crust.  Roll one half of dough to fit a 9-inch pie pan and place into pan.  Crimp as desired.  With second half of dough, roll to fit a 9-inch pie pan.  Cut strips of dough for lattice.  Place pan and strips into refrigerator while preparing filling.
  2. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl.  Add cream cheese and beat on medium speed until smooth.  On low speed, beat in egg and almond extract just until blended.
  3. Spread batter evenly into crust; spoon pie filling evenly over top. 
  4. Beat egg white with fork until foamy.  Brush pastry strips with egg white and arrange strips across pie as desired.  Trim and press ends to bottom crust.  Brush rim with egg white; press on almonds.
  5. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cherries bubble (you may need to place foil or a pie crust shield on crust to keep from burning for the 15 minutes or so).  Remove to wire rack to cool for several hours or over night.
Yield: 8 servings

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