Monday, December 31, 2012

Bacon, Parmesan and Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

 What could be tastier than Bacon, Parmesan, and Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms? These luscious bites taste amazing and are easy to make. I only made half a recipe for my husband and I this New Years Eve, but am wishing I made the whole thing. These are seriously delicious!
I hope you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. My sweet husband bought me a new camera for Christmas! I'm so excited to learn how to use it, so please be patient with me; I have a long ways to go to be sure.
But back to the bacon and mushrooms now, these addictive little appetizers.
 You will need to clean and stem the mushrooms. Just give the stems a good twist and they pop right out of the caps. Chop the stems, some onion and garlic. Saute and stir in the cheeses. Spoon yummy filling into mushroom caps.
 Bake these Bacon, Parmesan, and Cream Cheese Mushrooms for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. You might want to make more than you think you'll need as they are so addictive.
 My pictures don't do these tasty gems justice, but I will learn as I go. But don't wait to make these stuffed mushrooms. Anytime you need a scrumptious appetizer, I think you'll be very happy with this recipe.
Bacon, Parmesan, And Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
I made half of this recipe.

2 strips of bacon, cooked
1/4 cup minced onion, I used red onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces small mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Clean mushrooms. I personally wash them, because I'm weird that way.
Remove the stems from the caps. Dice the stems, the onion, and mince the garlic. Dice bacon and cook in skillet until crisp.Drain on paper towel.
In about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease, saute the onion and diced mushroom stems until softened and tender. Add the garlic and add the cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted. Stir in the cooked bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps. Use all of it, even if you have to mound it up. Place stuffed mushrooms into a baking pan. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and filling is hot. Enjoy and Happy New Year to my faithful readers!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Turtle Bars

 Decadent and addictive, these delicious Turtle Bars are perfect for your holiday cookie trays. With a crisp, pecan infused shortbread-style crust that is topped with a thin layer of caramel, then topped with chocolate chips and more pecans, your taste buds will be in heaven. Really, these are to die for, and I got the recipe from Grace at A Southern Grace. She has some of the sweetest, gooeyest confections on the web. Today is my birthday and I was wanting a sweet treat besides cake, and these Turtle Bars really hit the spot.
 This is a major birthday for me, I mean it's like the 'BIG' one. I am the big '60'! I can't believe it; I remember when my mother turned 60 and I thought she was ssooooo old. Now I know how young she felt! Anyway, these Turtle Bars were are so good. The crust is crisp, with the butter and the pecans that are also ground in. There is a thin layer of caramel; wish there was a bit more, but there is plenty of flavor. Chocolate chips are sprinkled on the confection right out of the oven so they will melt and you can swirl through the chocolate some. Then topped will pecans makes these bars a perfect treat. Give them a try for the holidays, OK!
Turtle Bars
Adapted only slightly from Grace

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pecans, chopped

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
pinch of salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips-I used Dark Chocolate chips that I had
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add crust ingredients to a food processor and process until fine crumbs. Pour into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan. Pack the crumbs firmly down evenly to form a crust.
Add  the 2/3 cup butter, the 1/2 cup brown sugar, and salt to a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until it begins to boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, and then pour evenly over the crust. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until all the caramel is bubbling. Don't over bake! Remove from the oven; sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Let set for 2-3 minutes and swirl melted chocolate chips with a knife. Leave some whole if desired. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and press nuts gently into the chocolate. (I sprinkled a little coarse salt over the bar, but it sort of disappeared). Cool, cut into bars, and enjoy! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tiger Butter - A Yummy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Candy

Need some homemade goodies for gifts still? This Tiger Butter candy is easy and quick to make, plus it tastes amazing too. If you've ever used Almond Bark, you can guess how easy this candy is. Almond Bark is found on your grocers baking isle, close to where the baking chips are.
In this recipe, both vanilla and chocolate Almond Barks are melted. Peanut butter is stirred into the vanilla. The peanut butter flavored Almond bark is poured into a prepared pan.
Then the melted chocolate is spooned in stips over the peanut butter mixture.
I drag a knife through the candy to cause a marbleized effect, then run the knife through again in the opposite direction. You also could just drizzle the chocolate all over the peanut mixture if desired.
Now it needs to set and harden. My kitchen was rather warm because of baking, so I placed the candy in the refrigerator to harden. Then brake it into pieces and devour.Yum! This is a perfect gift for friends, family, teachers, mail carriers, whomever. My husband loves this stuff, so I may have to make another batch for gift giving.
Tiger Butter Candy
Recipe from a friend of my husbands

24 ounces Vanilla Almond Bark
12 ounces Chocolate Almond Bark
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky

1. Melt the Vanilla Almond Bark in a large microwave safe bowl. Do it in 1 minute increments, so that you don't cook the candy and cause it to seize. Or melt candy in a double boiler if desired.
2. When completely melted stir in the peanut butter until smooth.
3. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl. It took about 1 1/2 minutes in my microwave.
4. Line a large baking sheet, ( 12x17 inches) with wax paper or parchment paper. Pour the Vanilla Bark mixture into the pan and spread it out evenly.
5. Spoon strips of chocolate over the melted Vanilla Bark mixture.
6. Drag a knife across the width of the pan to swirl the cany mixture. Then drag the knife across the length of the pan. Or, drizzle the chocolate over the vanilla,if desired.
&. Let the candy cool and harden. Keep away from the heat. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cinnamon Apple Pie with Crumb Topping

Cinnamon, how I love thee, especially in a homemade Cinnamon Apple Pie with a Crumb topping! My house smelled so delicious with the fragrance of apples and cinnamon while this yummy pie baked. I made this pie for Thanksgiving and then made it again last week because it is just so good, and because I forgot to take pictures of it earlier. The things we do for pictures! I've made variations of this Cinnamon Apple Pie with Crumb Topping for several years, but this last time I decided to use some oatmeal in the crumb topping. It was delicious, but not much more than just using flour. I love making a pie like this because I only need to make a bottom crust. I'm not a perfect pie crust maker, but the crust did turn out nice and flaky this time. You could use refrigerated pie crust, if desired, or a frozen deep-dish crust from your supermarket.
Peeling and slicing the apples consumes most of the time it takes to get this pie ready to bake. After you toss all the apples and filling ingredients together, you place the filling in the pie crust. While you don't have to arrange the apples, you do need to make sure there are no air pockets or gaps among the apples. Press them down slightly to fit, but heaping them up higher in the middle of the pie.
Then after mixing the topping together, it is just sprinkled over the apples. It may seem like there is too much topping, but use it all. It cooks down into a thin, buttery, crisp layer on top.
Let the pie cool, if you can, and then enjoy the fruits of your labor. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or some whipped cream if desired. I hope you enjoy.
Cinnamon Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
Adapted from here
I used a 10 inch pie plate for this pie with apples piled high. I like to mix tart and sweet apples in my pie, so I used about half Granny Smiths(tart), and half Galas(sweet). Golden delicious or other baking apples of your choice are fine. If you use all tart apples, you may need more sugar in the filling.
Purchased pie crust can be used if preferred. If using a frozen crust, buy deep-dish.

Crust: (my recipe)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) chilled, unsalted butter
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) chilled shortening
3-4 tablespoons ice water

7-71/2 cups of sliced apples. I used half Granny Smiths, and half Galas.
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon-I used Saigon cinnamon, but regular will work fine
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1 cup all purpose flour- (or use 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 cup oatmeal)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

For crust:
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add butter and shortening and use a pastry blender to cut them into the flour. Mix until it looks like a coarse meal, with butter being no larger than small peas. Drizzle ice water over the mixture; stir with a fork until moist clups form. Add more water if dough is too dry. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk.Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to about a 12 inch round. Transfer to a pie plate. Press dough into pan; trim overhang to 1/2 inch.. Turn edge under and crimp. Place crust in the fridge while preparing the filling.

For Filling:
Peel and core apples.Slice thin, about 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice. Drizzle with butter. Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in the apples. Set aside and mix the topping.

For Topping:
Mix flour, salt, sugars and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times. Add chilled, cubed butter and pulse until mixture looks like sand.

To assemble  and bake the pie:
Toss the filling to redistribute the juices. Transfer the filling to the crust, mounding higher in the center of pie. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pie. Bake pie at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then REDUCE the temperature to 350. If pie browns too much, lay a piece of foil over the pie. Bake for another 40 minutes or more, until the top is golden, the filling is bubbling thickly at the edges, and a paring knife inserted in the center of the pie goes easily through the apples. It could take as long as 1 hour and 20 minutes to fully bake. When done, remove from oven and cool. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Russian Tea Cakes (Cookies)

 Crunchy, buttery, sugar-dusted, delicious cookies are the way to describe these Russian Tea Cakes. I have also seen these called Mexican Wedding Cookies, and also Swedish Wedding Cookies. There may be more names that I haven't heard, but whatever you call them, they are delish.
My Christmas baking is getting started finally. My granddaughters have both been sick, and since I watch them during the day, I haven't done any baking until now. I came down with the virus too, so cooking, or even eating wasn't too much of a priority for me for a few days.
My husband and I have always loved these crisp, buttery, pecan filled cookies, and they have gone over very well when I use them in gifts for our friends and family. They are also a perfect cookies to serve at a Christmas Tea, or to help fill a cookie tray that you may be taking to a gathering.
 The cookies are rolled into 1 inch balls and baked. Since there is no leavening, they won't spread out, so you can get quite a few on baking sheet.
 When done the cookies will be lightly golden and have a few cracks here and there. I really should have used parchment paper to line the baking sheets as the bottoms of the cookies almost got too brown. Hopefully I'll remember next time.
 After the cookies come out of the oven, they need to be rolled in sifted confectioners sugar, then set on a rack to cool. The sugar will melt slightly to the cookies. At this point they can be placed in air-tight containers and frozen, if desired. I've frozen them many times in order to save them until closer to Christmas.
 However, if you are using the cookies right away, roll the cooled cookies in confectioners sugar again and place on a tray, or in containers for gift-giving.
 These little Russian Tea Cakes almost melt in you mouth. The dough is not very sweet, but after they are baked and dusted with sugar, they become one of my favorite Christmas cookies to bake, and consume. This recipe came from an old church cookbook that I've had for over 35 years and has been a family favorite. If you need another cookie to add to your list you may want to give theses a try. Happy baking!
Russian Tea Cake (Cookie)
From Lynda's Recipe Box, via an old church cookbook

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
extra confectioners sugar for dusting the cookies

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter and the confectioners sugar. Add the flour, salt and vanilla. Stir until the dough all comes together. Then add in the nuts and combine.
Roll dough into about 1 inch balls and place on baking racks. Bake for 14-17 minutes until lightly golden. Add some sifted powdered sugar to a bowl and take turns rolling the hot cookies in the sugar to coat them. Place cookies on a baking rack to cool completely. Cookies may be frozen at this point, or placed in air-tight containers until ready to serve. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again before serving. Theses yummy cookies are sure to be a hit. Bet you can't eat just one!
For other cookie recipes, click here. You will find Brown Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, and many other cookies and bars for your holiday baking.