Thursday, December 22, 2011

Easy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Like many of you out there, I have become a Pinterest addict.  A few weeks ago, I spent hours pinning holiday cookie recipes.  One that kept popping up on my radar was a chocolate cookie made with devil's food cake mix.  It looked super easy -  so I made up my own variation.


Easy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies {makes about 4 dozen cookies}
-1 box of devil's food cake mix 
-2 tablespoons of melted butter
-2 eggs
-1/4 cup water
-crushed up candy canes...or you could use mint chocolate baking chips
-sprinkles {optional}

1. Put everything {but the candy canes} in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.  The dough becomes very stiff, so be prepared to get an arm workout in.
2. Once all is combined, fold in the candy cane pieces.
3. Spread parchment paper out on baking sheets and spray with a little non-stick cooking spray.
4. This dough is stiff, but also very sticky.  To avoid making a mess of everything, I used two small spoons to spoon the dough out onto the baking sheets.  I filled one spoon up with dough and used the other to push it onto the baking sheet.  These cookies will spread, so only use about a quarter sized amount for each cookie.
5. Sprinkle with red and white sprinkles {optional} and bake for about 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
6. Remove pans from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before removing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

This soup is low maintenance, full of flavor, and low fat.  You can't go wrong!

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper {makes 4 small servings}
-1 pound of tomatoes {I used a pack of Trader Joe's heirloom tomatoes}
-1 large red bell pepper
-1 large onion
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon dry oregano {fresh or dry}
-1 teaspoon basil {fresh or dry.....if you use fresh, use a small handful}
-a little olive oil
-salt and pepper
-1/4 cup low fat evaporated milk
-about 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1. Cut the tomatoes, red pepper, and onion into large pieces and spread out on a baking pan that is lined with foil.  Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and the garlic powder on top.  Toss the veggies so all are well coated and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes {until everything is tender}.
2. Remove pan from oven and set aside so that it can cool for about 20 minutes.
3. Spoon the roasted veggies into a blender and add about a cup of broth - just enough to get the blender going.  Blend until smooth {be careful if the vegetables are still hot}.
4. Pour the blended mixture into a large pot and add the evaporated milk and another cup of broth {or however much you need to achieve you desired thickness}.  Also stir in the oregano, basil, and some salt and pepper.  Bring the pot to a simmer, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.

I ate mine with a mozzarella and goat cheese grilled cheese on a thin bagel - yum!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Low Fat Broccoli and Cheese Soup

I figured this 12 days of soups thing would take me...oh, about 12 days.  I guess I was being a little too ambitious :).

My third soup is super easy, healthy, and, might I add, so delicious. Trust me, you won't miss all the fat and calories that come with a traditional broccoli and cheese soup.

- 3 cups of broccoli, chopped
-1 small onion, diced
-3 stalks of celery, diced
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 small yellow potato {about ½ cup chopped}
-4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
-1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk
-2 ounces shredded low fat sharp cheddar {or 1/2 cup}
-olive oil, salt, and pepper

  1. In a large pot, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onions, celery, potato, and broccoli for about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes – until the broccoli and potatoes are soft.
  3. Remove soup from the heat and stir in the fat free evaporated milk.  Allow to cool for about 20 minutes and blend {in batches} until smooth. 
  4. Return the smooth soup to the pot and re-heat.  Stir in the cheese and taste.  Add a little salt and some pepper.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Snickerdoodle Pear Mini Pies

This pie was a total accident.  Luckily, it was a delicious accident.

My husband loves snickerdoodles and always asks me to make them.  I usually just ignore the request, but since it was Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to indulge him.  

The night before Thanksgiving, I whipped up a batch of snickerdoodle dough and baked off half of it.   I stored the rest in the fridge thinking I would finish baking it later that weekend.

The next day {Thanksgiving}, I decided to make two different pies - banana cream and mini pear pies.  I am not a huge pie crust fan, so I used the left over snickerdoodle dough for the mini pear pies.

I wasn't too sure how they would turn out...but they ended up being a-maz-ing.  So good and so easy.  Pie crust can be a bit fussy, but this snickerdoodle crust was the opposite of fussy. If you can make cookies - you can make this crust!

Snickerdoodle Pear Mini Pies {makes 8 pies}

For the filling:
-4 pears, diced {you can also use apples or four cups of fresh berries}
-1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the Snickerdoodle Crust:
-2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup shortening
-1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
-1 1/2 cup white sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 large eggs
-cinnamon + a little sugar for dusting

**Note - you will have snickerdoodle dough left over, feel free to bake it into cookies, freeze it for later, or do what I do - eat it!  I love cookie dough :).

1. In a medium saucepan, cook the pears, brown sugar, and vanilla extract over low heat for about 10 minutes - until they are nice and syrupy.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar {for the dough}.  Add in the eggs - one at a time - and the vanilla extract.  Mix until all is completely incorporated.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Slowly add these dry ingredients to the mixer and blend until just incorporated.
4. Put the dough into the refrigerator for a few hours so it is nice and firm when you use it for the pies.

5. Line the bottom of small ramekins with a small amount of dough.  Since this dough is much sweeter than traditional pie crust - don't make the lining too thick.  Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of each pie base and fill the ramekin with the cooked pears.
6. Take another small piece of dough and flatten it into a disc the size of the ramekin.  Cover the top of each dish with one of these discs and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar.  Cut an X into the top of each mini pie and place them all onto a baking sheet lined with foil {mine bubbled over a little}.  
7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes - until the top is golden brown. 
8. Allow the pies to cool a little before serving. 

Enjoy these amazing little pies!

Designed by Jackie Ayr