Gingerbread Cookie Dip

First there was Cookie Dough Dip. Then there was Brownie Batter Dip. Now, I bring your Gingerbread Cookie Dip! And as with the other dips, this dip is also made with beans!

I wasn’t quite sure how this one was gonna turn out, but it was much better than I expected! It really tastes like gingerbread cookies! I only had light brown sugar, but if you have dark brown sugar, that might make this dip a little darker and it will look more like gingerbread! I ate mine with apple slices and it was super delicious, but you can also use graham crackers, or if you want to be a little bad, cookies!

Gingerbread Cookie Dip

Ingredients:

– 1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed

– 2/3 cup dark brown sugar

– 1/4 cup natural peanut butter

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 2 tbs. molasses

– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

– 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

– 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

– 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until smooth. I didn’t need to add any milk to this one, but if it’s too thick for you, add some skim or soy milk!

Notes:
– Just like the other sweet dips I have made, you can use sugar substitutes for this, but just keep in mind that the molasses makes the sugar content higher in this dip!

Olive and Cream Cheese Penguins

Ok friends. It’s Monday and I know, it sucks. But, I’ve made you something that is surely going to cure your case of the Mondays. Though I had originally only planned to bring cookies to my lab’s holiday party this past weekend, I found out we were in need of more appetizers. I’ve seen these little guys floating around the interwebz in various places the past couple of year and have been dying to make them and took my lab’s party as the perfect opportunity. And let me tell you guys, these are the cutest appetizers ever!!

Yes, really! Now, I won’t lie to you guys. These little penguins took some time to put together. It took me some time to really figure out how to get the cream cheese into the olives neatly. As you can see, mine aren’t perfect, but I was making them at 10pm on a Friday night which means my OCD tendencies got away from me. I do recommend getting colossal olives. I accidentally bought extra large olives which worked, but I think the colossal olives would be easier to pipe the cream cheese into! You can use regular cream cheese if you want, but I wanted to give these more flavor so I used chive whipped cream cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce package flavored cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can small seeded black olives
  • 1 can colossal seeded black olives (can also use extra large)
  • 2-3 carrots
  • toothpicks

Directions:

  1. Start off by prepping all of your ingredients. Drain the olives. Slice your carrots into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Once the cream cheese has softened, put it in a bowl and whip with a hand mixer (if not already whipped). Then, spoon it into a piping bag with a small tip (I used a #5, but one that is slightly larger might be easier!).
  2. Take a carrot slice and cut a small triangle out of it. The triangle you have just cut is the nose and the remaining piece are the feetsies! Place the large piece of carrot onto a toothpick and slide all the way down. Then take one of the larger olives, and slice down one side. Then take your piping bag and pipe the cream cheese into the olive until it is filled and make sure you can see some of the cream cheese poking out of the slit you cut to make the tummy. Slide the olive down on top of the feet with the hole-side down. Then, take a small olive and insert the triangle you cut into the hole to make your penguin’s head. Slide the small olive on top of the stomach and there you go!
All images and text ©

Magic Bars

Ok y’all, today’s post is gonna start off a little mushy. First, I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for buzzing my Cranberry Orange Bars to the Top 9 on Foodbuzz today!! This is my first time to get in the Top 9 and I couldn’t be more excited! I have met so many wonderful friends from Foodbuzz and I am so thankful for each and every one of you!!

Alright now that we got that out of the way, we can talk about these Magic Bars. Every year, my Aunt Renée makes a bunch of cookies for Christmas and she always sends a big platter of them home with us. I will say that of all the cookies on the tray, the magic bars are probably the favorite in the family and are usually the first ones to disappear. Part of this might be because she is stingy with giving us the magic bars as my cousins try to hoard them for themselves (*insert evil snicker as I know they might be reading this ;) ). So anyway, once we bring the tray home and unwrap the plastic wrap, there are usually only like 4 or 5 magic bars on the tray. What the heck is up with that, yo?!

This year, Hubs and I will be traveling to California to spend Christmas with his family. I’m excited to spend time with them and I am REALLY excited because I finally get to meet my adorable little nephew who was born at the end of July! But going to Cali means I won’t be going home to Cleveland and won’t get to fight it out for the magic bars so when I decided to make a cookie tray of my own for my lab’s holiday party this weekend, magic bars needed to be on it!!

Classic Magic Bars

From Eagle Brand®

Makes about 24 bars

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup butter, melted

– 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

– 1 14-ounce can sweetened and condensed milk

– 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

– 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

– Optional: 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the melted butter and the graham cracker crumbs until it is fully moistened by the butter. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Add the crumbs to the pan, spread evenly and push down to form a crust. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crust. Then layer with the chocolate chips and then the coconut. Press down with a fork. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. I recommend letting the bars cool before cutting.

Suggested variations:
– Sprinkles (though, the nonpareils I used started to bleed so I’m not sure I would use them again).
– M&M’s (use red and green for the holidays!)
– Dried fruit – cranberries, raisins, etc.
– Butterscotch or peanut butter chips (OR, mix the chocolate and PB chips! YUM!)

Cranberry Orange Bars


Unless this is your first visit, you may have noticed my blog looking pretty different. I finally was able to transfer to a new host over the weekend and while the transfer process itself was pretty painless, it didn’t really occur to me that my layout would not go with it! Imagine my surprise to learn that I would have to re-do everything! I don’t know why I was surprised, I read that before, but I just forgot. So, this is what you get in 24 hours folks! I hope you like it! Over the next couple of weeks, I will be tweaking some things and will be adding some new features so stay tuned!

Now, onto the good stuff, these cranberry orange bars! I have a holiday party to go to at my advisor’s house this weekend and agreed to bring dessert. I decided on a cookie tray so I hope you all like cookies! I also hope you like cranberries because I have a lot of them in my freezer to use up! Since I am so busy during the week because of work and school, I wanted to get a head start by baking some of the cookies and freezing them until the weekend. These cranberry bars are sweet and tangy. They are also pretty easy to make!

Cranberry Orange Bars

Makes about 24 bars

Ingredients:

– 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

– 1 small orange, zested and juiced

– 3/4 cup water

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 box yellow cake mix

– 1 cup rolled oats

– 3/4 cups butter, melted

– 2 eggs

– Optional: 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

1. You’re basically going to start off by making cranberry sauce! In a saucepan, add the water and sugar. Stir until the sugar is absorbed. Add the rinsed cranberries, along with the orange juice and zest. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the cranberries pop and the mixture begins to thicken. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely (at least 1 hour).

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add the cake mix, oats, melted butter, eggs, and cinnamon. Mix until everything is well-combined. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups of the mixture. In a 9×13 baking dish, spray with non-stick spray. With the remaining batter, spread and push down into pan, forming a crust.

3. Spread the cooled cranberry sauce evenly over the “crust”. Then, with the 1 1/2 cups of batter you reserved, drop it by the spoonful evenly over the mixture. Then, with a knife or spoon, gently try to push down and spread some of each spoonful so it’s not as thick. You do not need to cover all of the cranberries and try to avoid pushing the batter down into the cranberry sauce. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let the bars cool for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars (trust me on that one!)!

 

 

Notes:
– If you want to try to make this sugar-free, then you can used Stevia or Splenda for the cranberry sauce. As for the cake mixture, look for sugar-free or no-sugar added cake mixes in your grocery store or in health food stores!

Holiday Gifts For Foodies

Gifts for Foodies

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I thought I would make a list of some of my favorite holiday gifts for foodies! Not sure about you guys, but at least half the items that are on my wishlist are cooking and blog related. I’ve scoured all of my favorite sites and compiled a list of some of my favorite things. And best of all, all of these items are $50 or less! Happy Shopping!

1. Amazon.com: Oster FPSTBW8207-S Electric Wine-Bottle Opener, Silver:…
$20 – amazon.com

This electric wine opener is the perfect gift for wine enthusiasts! It’s durable and works really well! I know this because I have given it to friends and family myself and everybody seems to love it!

 2. 3-Piece Snowflake Bowl Set in Christmas Entertaining | Crate&Barrel
$20 – crateandbarrel.com

I love these bowls!! I love the big, bright snowflake print and they would be perfect for baking and serving festive treats for the holidays!

3. Santa’s Elves Cookie Mix
$12 – crateandbarrel.com

Not only is this cookie mix cute and tasty, but it makes great gifts for co-workers or teachers. Crate and Barrel has a ton of other different types of baking mixes and candies that would also make great gifts on their own or in a gift basket!

4. Chanukah Salad Plates, Set of 4 | Williams-Sonoma
$40 – williams-sonoma.com

Um, how awesome are those menorah salad plates?! I love the beautiful blue color! These would be perfect for anyone that throws a lot of parties and can be used for not just salads, but appetizers and desserts!

5. Winter Berry Hand Soap & Lotion | Williams-Sonoma
$40 – williams-sonoma.com

Foodies do a lot of cooking and baking. This also means we do a lot of dish washing and in the colder months, this could lead to dry and chapped hands! This hand soap and lotion will keep hands clean, soft, and smelling just lovely! :)

6. Amazon.com: Cuisinart DLC-2ABC Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor, Brushed…
$40 – amazon.com or surlatable.com

While this mini-food processor may not be large enough for soups, it is perfect for dips, pesto, and salsas! (um, hello brownie batter dip!!). It also comes in tons of bright and fun colors! You can get them on Amazon or Sur La Table.

7. Amazon.com: Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker: Home & Garden
$46 – amazon.com
This fondue pot is by far one of my most favorite things in my kitchen.  Hubs and I love making fondue. This pot is easy to use and clean and all you have to do is plug it in! I use it for cheese, meat, and dessert fondue!

8. Large Holiday Baker
$20 – crateandbarrel.com

Us foodies can never have enough baking dishes. We love them in all shapes and sizes! Add a fun color and we love them even more!

9. Red Double Swirl Glassware
$6 – pier1.com

I’m not sure about you guys, but I could always use extra wine glasses. I love these festive glasses from Pier 1!

10. Froth & Pour Hot Chocolate Pot | Williams-Sonoma
$30 – williams-sonoma.com

Here’s a gift the whole family can enjoy! This awesome little pot blends, and froths hot chocolate for you and then all you have to do is stick in the microwave to heat it up!

What items are on YOUR holiday wishlist??

Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla-Pecan Butter

I have a confession. I don’t like brussels sprouts. I’m not sure why. It might be the texture or the fact that I hate the way they smell when roasting in the oven. Yeah, I know, I’m weird like that. But, something changed today. I made brussels sprouts that I actually liked! These pomegranate brussels sprouts may have made me a changed woman. They are roasted in delicious pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds and then topped with vanilla-pecan butter! Hello! Who wouldn’t love these? This would be a wonderful side dish to serve at your upcoming holiday dinner parties!

Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla-Pecan Butter

Serves 4-6

From Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

– 6 tbs. unsalted butter, softened

– 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or use 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

– 1/4 cup toasted pecans

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 1 lb. brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 3 tbs. pomegranate molasses

– 1/2-3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

– Optional: fresh lime and orange zest

Directions:

1. Combine the butter, vanilla, pecans, and season with some salt and pepper. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the brussels sprouts with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the brussels sprouts on a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes until a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and toss with the molasses. Return the sprouts to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

3. Remove the brussels sprouts and add to a bowl with the pomegranate seeds, vanilla-pecan butter, and the lime and orange zest. Toss lightly and serve.

Notes:
– If you don’t want to make your molasses yourself, you can buy it bottled, but I recommend giving it a try yourself! I made mine the night before and it was super easy and super tasty! I have a bunch leftover that I can’t wait to use on something else!

– Never seeded a pomegranate? Here is a great tutorial from the Shiksa!

– If you want to cut some calories from this, you can cut down on the butter. In fact, this would still be good without the vanilla-pecan butter as most of the flavor comes from the pomegranate!