Category Archives: Guest Chef

Oreo Snowman Cookie Truffles

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Jane makes so many cute and fun treats! She made those Peas and Carrots Cupcakes I posted last spring, and she recently made these Oreo Snowman Truffles. Some Oreo Truffles I’ve seen are made with the golden Oreos, but these are made with the yummy chocolate originals…my favorite! Jane took the photo I’ve posted above, and she said these are really easy to make. If you’re making these for a special event, you can make them a few days in advance and store them in the refrigerator. You don’t have to decorate these truffles as snowmen–you can leave them plain or roll them in sugar, nuts, or sprinkles, but they sure are cute as snowmen! Here is Jane’s recipe and instructions on how she decorated them…

OREO SNOWMAN COOKIE TRUFFLES (makes 40)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (18-ounce) package Oreo® Cookies, finely crushed
  • 1 package White Almond Bark  (for dipping the truffles)
  • a few discs of orange-colored Wilton Candy Melts

Crush cookies in food processor until finely ground. Add softened cream cheese to the cookie crumbs and process until well-blended.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Shape into 40 (1-inch) balls and place on cookie sheet. Freeze 10 to 20 minutes.

While cookies are in the freezer, lay out a sheet of wax paper. Melt the orange candy melts. Place melted discs in a small Ziploc bag. Cut a very small corner off one end of the Ziploc bag and squeeze out 40 small “noses” onto the wax paper, taking care to make a pointed tip; let cool.

While these are cooling, melt the White Almond Bark. Then dip the oreo truffles in the melted bark and place in a single layer on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Let them slightly set, then decorate by poking eyes and mouths with a toothpick.  Attach a nose to each truffle with a dollop of melted chocolate.

You can store these in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Have fun making this sweet winter treat! 🙂

If you’ve never melted bark or chocolate, or dipped cookie balls before, I found these tips over at Kraft in the Kraft Kitchen Tips section:

HOW TO MELT CHOCOLATE: Place unwrapped chocolate squares in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2-1/2 minutes or until chocolate is completely melted, stirring every 30 seconds.

HOW TO EASILY DIP COOKIE TRUFFLES: To easily coat cookie truffles with the melted chocolate, add them, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll truffles in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove truffles with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place truffles in prepared pan; let stand until chocolate coating is firm.

Note: If any melted chocolate remains after all truffles are coated, store in tightly covered container at room temperature until you’re ready to use for another recipe.

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Lidia’s Cookie Press Sugar Cookies

I received some really special homemade goodies just before Christmas from my friend Lidia and her family. Her husband Rick is a co-worker of mine. Lidia is a very talented baker and cook, (and a super Pampered Chef consultant) and she had made some homemade Hot Pepper Jelly, Sweet Hot Strawberry Sauce, and Pickled Eggplant…what a treat! And in addition to that, she had put together a plate of beautifully decorated cookies…too pretty to eat! But I didn’t let that stop me. 🙂  Those cookies tasted as great as they looked!

I thought the cookie press cookies looked so cute, and I’m happy to say that Lidia is sharing her recipe with us! Cookie press cookies are not only great around the Christmas and New Year holidays, they’re perfect for other special days like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day. They’re also a wonderful treat for tea time get-togethers and wedding or baby showers because they’re so pretty and dainty.

So, next time you want to make a really special cookie, keep Lidia’s recipe in mind!

LIDIA’S COOKIE PRESS SUGAR COOKIES

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream shortening, butter, and sugar, blending well. Add egg and almond extract to mixture and cream some more until well blended. In another bowl, mix flour and salt together, then add to the butter mixture. Fill your cookie press with the dough and press out cookie shapes onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes. Makes about 60 cookies.

After the cookies cool, you can have fun decorating them with your favorite decorating frostings and sprinkles. This little Christmas tree was one of my favorites. Have fun making these!

And thanks for sharing your recipe, Lidia!

Moving and Hot Ham and Cheese Rolls

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I’ve been busy moving these past few weeks, which is why I haven’t been posting much. My little house sold much sooner than I expected (one week, in fact!), so I had to find a rental place really quick! Now I’m in the process of unpacking…I’m not sure which is worse–packing things up, moving them, or unpacking them! I still have more unpacking to do, but the stacks and stacks of boxes are getting smaller…so things should be back to normal in the next few weeks.

Because of the move, I haven’t been cooking much. But a friend of mine, Brian, brought some Hot Ham and Cheese Rolls to work that his wife Elizabeth made and they were so good I asked him if I could share the recipe on my blog. They’re made with frozen bread dough, which cuts down on prep time, and they’re perfect for serving at breakfast or brunch. Brian took some great pictures of these rolls, too, to give you an idea of what they look like. Serve them right out of the oven while the rolls are warm and the cheese is melty, and you won’t be able to stop at just one!

ELIZABETH’S HOT HAM AND CHEESE ROLLS

  • 1 Loaf of frozen bread dough (purchased from the Freezer section of  your grocery store)
  • Ranch dressing
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound chopped deli ham
  • 4 oz. (or 1/2 of an 8-ounce package) of shredded Parmesan cheese

The night before, place one loaf of frozen bread dough in a glass 9 x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cover loosely with  plastic wrap that has also been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Place in refrigerator overnight or allow to thaw for a couple of hours on counter.

In the morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.  On a lightly-floured surface, gently roll or press dough loaf out into a rectangle shape (about the size of an 11 x 15″ jelly roll pan). Making these are similar to making cinnamon rolls: spread  a light coating of Ranch dressing all over the dough (just as you would spread the butter for cinnamon rolls), then sprinkle the chopped ham over the dressing and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over everything.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  You can add garlic salt, too.

Starting with the long side, roll up dough and toppings jelly roll–style (Elizabeth rolls hers about 2 1/2 times). Then pinch to seal the edges all along the length of roll.  Slice into 1-inch slices.  Place rolls, cut side down, in your 9 x 13” glass baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Cover with a towel and let rolls rise for about 30 minutes.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until lightly browned.  Makes about 15 to 16 rolls.

Elizabeth adds, “It’s so easy to just go ahead and do two loaves at the same time.  Roll both rolls out, then spread Ranch dressing on both, etc.  Same amount of work for double the rolls!”

Thanks, Elizabeth and Brian, for sharing this yummy recipe!

Eat Your Peas and Carrots!

My foodie friend Jane made some really cute cupcakes a few weeks ago. She made Peas and Carrots Cupcakes and Popcorn Cupcakes–I’ll show you the Popcorn Cupcakes in a little bit.

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The “peas” are green Skittles® and the “carrots” are orange Starburst® candies–just cut an orange square candy piece into fourths to get four cubes that look a lot like carrot chunks! Frost your cupcakes with white or green tinted icing, then add the candies on top, pressing them into the frosting.

Jane also showed me a photo of some other fun cupcakes decorated like food…I’ve seen photos of cupcakes like these on the web, and they’re called TV Dinner Cupcakes. This photo is from a lifestyle and design blog called BlackEiffel.

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Here are instructions for the TV dinner cupcakes from MarthaStewart.com…the instructions are also in the cookbook Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack.

TV DINNER CUPCAKES  (makes a total of 6 cupcakes)

You’ll need 6 vanilla cupcakes, baked in silver foil liners.

FOR DRUMSTICKS (makes 3):

  • 1/4 cup white chocolate melting wafers, melted
  • 1 cup Vanilla Frosting (homemade or canned)
  • 3 plain store-bought doughnut holes
  • 1 cup cornflake crumbs
Place the bone template (from the book Hello, Cupcake) on a baking sheet (or draw your own shape of half a bone–you’ll have to estimate the size). Cover with parchment paper; set aside. Place melted chocolate into a resealable plastic bag and snip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag. Following the bone template, pipe an outline onto the parchment paper. Fill the bone in with chocolate and lightly tap pan to smooth top of chocolate. Repeat process 3 times. Refrigerate until firm, about 5 minutes.
Spread vanilla frosting on top of 3 cupcakes, mounding it slightly. Place 1 doughnut hole on top of each cupcake. Spread frosting over the doughnut hole until it is smooth and covered. Place cornflake crumbs in a medium bowl. Gently press frosted cupcakes in crumbs to cover completely. Place cupcakes in a 6-cup disposable aluminum cupcake baking tray. Using a sharp knife, make a small slit in the top of each crumbed doughnut hole. Carefully peel 1 chocolate bone from the parchment paper and insert the pointed end into one of the slits. Repeat with remaining 2 bones and cupcakes.
FOR MASHED POTATOES (makes 1):
  • 1 yellow fruit chew, such as Laffy Taffys® or Starbursts®, cut into a 1-inch square
  • 3 tablespoons Vanilla Frosting (homemade or canned)
  • 1/2 tablespoon store-bought caramel sauce, heated
Spread vanilla frosting on 1 cupcake, mounding it slightly. Use a small spoon to create a well in the center of the frosting. Place cupcake in aluminum baking tray. Place yellow fruit chew in the well at an angle. Drizzle caramel sauce on top of cupcake so that it fills the well and spills over like gravy.
FOR PEAS AND CARROTS (makes 1):
  • 3 orange fruit chews, such as Starbursts®, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Vanilla Frosting (homemade or canned)
  • Green gel food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons green candies, like Skittles® or M&M’s®
Color vanilla frosting with green food coloring and spread on top of 1 cupcake. Arrange orange fruit chews and green candies on top of cupcake, pressing them into the frosting. Place cupcake in aluminum baking tray.
FOR CHOCOLATE PUDDING (makes 1):

Place chocolate frosting in a resealable plastic bag; press out all the excess air and seal to enclose. Snip a 1/4-inch corner from the bag. Pipe chocolate frosting into a spiral swirl onto the remaining cupcake. Top with sprinkles and place in aluminum baking tray. Serve.

Now here are the Popcorn Cupcakes Jane made–aren’t they cute? She followed instructions on how to make them at eHow.
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Here are the steps…Jane said they were easy to make! All you need are cupcakes, frosting, and miniature marshmallows.

POPCORN CUPCAKES

  1. Bake a regular batch of cupcakes, using a cupcake pan lined with paper or aluminum cupcake liners. Although white or light-colored cupcakes are easier to cover with icing, the cupcakes can be any flavor you like. Allow the cupcakes to cool (Jane used a cake mix to make her cupcakes).
  2. Frost the cupcakes with white frosting. Use homemade frosting, or simplify the process with boxed or canned frosting (Jane used canned frosting on her cupcakes).
  3. Cut an ‘X’ shape into the top of each miniature marshmallow, using a clean pair of scissors. Leave the bottom of the marshmallow intact. Cut enough miniature marshmallows to cover the top of each cupcake (about 30 to 40 miniature marshmallows).
  4. Press the miniature marshmallows into the frosting on the top of the cupcakes. Pile the marshmallows so the cupcake looks like a bag filled with popcorn.
  5. Place a small amount of water in a cup. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring to create a buttery color. Use a pastry brush or a clean paintbrush to coat the miniature marshmallows with the butter-colored water.
  6. Create bands from red construction paper, or use red and white striped gift wrapping paper. The bands should be large enough to wrap around the base of the cupcake — about 8 inches by 1 and 1/4 inches. Alternatively, create a band on your computer, then duplicate it several times. Note: Jane used a pre-made band she found at Scribd.com
  7. Wrap a paper band around the base of each cupcake, securing each band with a piece of clear tape.

Hope you have fun trying these out!

Linked to Foodie Friday, I’m Lovin’ It Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Make it Yours Day, Show and Tell, Strut Your Stuff.

Matt’s Couscous and Lentil Salad

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I have many friends who are great cooks, and Matt is one of them–in fact, I fully expect him to go to culinary school one day and become a professional chef! Everything he makes is really good. Like me, he loves baking sweets and rich desserts, but also likes making healthy dishes…like this Couscous and Lentil Salad. He brought it in to work for a special lunch gathering one day and I had the chance to taste some of it. I loved it! Not only does it taste great, it’s also made with lots of healthy ingredients…lentils, olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese…what’s not to like about this? 🙂 I asked Matt if I could have his recipe so I could share it with you. It’s a great side dish for lunch or dinner. It’s actually a good meal in itself if you’re wanting something light and healthy.

So thanks to Matt, you can try this too! Let me know how you like it!

COUSCOUS AND LENTIL SALAD

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 cup couscous (can also use quinoa)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced and mashed into paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves OR basil leaves
  • 1 cup arugula, stems discarded and chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber, seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • optional: can also add sweet peppers and/or kalamata olives, and use with any combination of the vegetables above. Also works well without the cheese.

Cover lentils with water by a couple of inches and simmer approximately 15 minutes, tasting periodically — they should be just tender and not mushy. Drain well and transfer to a bowl, and stir in one tablespoon vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Prepare couscous according to package directions using water or chicken stock and the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Fluff couscous after standing for 5 minutes and transfer immediately to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Whisk together garlic paste (made with the 2 mashed garlic cloves and salt) and remaining vinegar and oil to make a dressing; add salt and pepper to taste. Combine lentils and garlic dressing mixture with couscous and stir well. Cover and chill in refrigerator.

Before serving, stir in remaining ingredients and season to taste. Add more oil and vinegar if necessary.

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Matt said this recipe makes 6 to 8 side servings.