Artichoke & Jalapeno Ranch Dip: A Tasty Kitchen Recipe

Artichoke Ranch Dip
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I hope you all had a great holiday with your loved ones. I know we did! Christmas may be over, but with New Year's coming up, the need for good party food isn't over. I've got a delicious dip here that not only tastes great, is actually HEALTHY. Well, healthy insomuch that is uses creamy Greek yogurt and light mayonnaise to avoid added calories.

Throw in some ranch seasoning, hearty artichoke hearts, and spicy jalapenos, and you've got a deliciously decadent dip (now say that as fast as you can), that will be a great addition to any New Year's party spread...or football party.

Artichoke Ranch Dip
Have I got you drooling yet? No? Well, head on over to the Tasty Kitchen blog for my full step-by-step recipe post. You can grab the super handy printable recipe while you're at it!

Artichoke Ranch Dip


My Favorite Christmas Sugar Cookie

Sugar Cookies
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This is going to be a super quick post, I'm sure you're all neck deep in holiday baking, last minute christmas shopping, and wrapping mountains of presents.

But I just had to share a great recipe I tried today for cut-out sugar cookies. This recipe is by the awesomely talented Laurie, at Simply Scratch, and it's the best recipe I've tried for cut-out sugar cookies.

Usually my doughy men resemble some kind of Frankenstein mutation, turning into those cookies you stuff out of sight, never to embarrass you by actually being seen, let alone offered to company. But these babies had the perfect consistency making them super easy to roll out all pretty. Did I mention they taste awesome too? So buttery and light, and when you slather them with Laurie's Vanilla Frosting...oh man!
Sugar Cookies
Watch out Santa! Your Christmas cookies might be mysteriously missing tomorrow night...or at least missing a limb.

My little guy had so much fun making these, and was very proud of his army man sugar cookie he created.
Sugar Cookies

For the recipe, head over to Laurie's blog, Simply Scratch!

Enjoy!
Amber


Homemade Pumpkin Spice Mocha Frappe - Holiday Flavors

Homemade Mocha Frappe

Do you remember my Homemade Iced Mocha Frappe's? I love being able to make my own coffee drinks at home, without having to kill my wallet by going to Starbucks. It's so easy to make your own, and you can customize them any way to want.

Not a fan of cold drinks in the winter? Not a problem, just leave out the ice and keep your coffee hot instead of chilling it...now you've got yourself a snuggly, warm version.

Some of my favorite versions are Pumpkin Spice, White Chocolate Peppermint, Caramel, and Cinnamon. I just make a homemade syrup to flavor the mocha's how I want. For a Pumpkin Spice Mocha, I like to use the Pumpkin Spice Syrup I used in the Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider.

So, here's a remix on my homemade Mocha Frappe's - holiday style!

Pumpkin Spice Mocha Frappe
Serves: 2  Printable Recipe

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup milk
2 cups ice cubes
2-3 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp chocolate syrup
2-3 tbsp pumpkin spice syrup
whipped topping (for garnish)
chocolate syrup (for garnish)

Pumpkin Spice Syrup (adapted from Savvy Eats):
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp ginger

Directions:

Brew up your coffee...make it strong baby. Nobody likes weak, watery coffee.  Now allow it to chill for a bit. You do the same.  

To make the pumpkin syrup: Combine everything in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

For frozen Pumpkin Spice Mocha Frappe: Add chilled coffee, milk, chocolate and pumpkin syrups, sugar, and ice cubes into your blender, blend until smooth. Pour into a nice frosty glass, top with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and whatever else your coffee-loving heart desires. 

For hot Pumpkin Spice Mocha: Combine hot coffee, chocolate and pumpkin syrups, sugar and milk. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and extra syrup.

Enjoy!

Amber
Homemade Mocha Frappe


Cinnamon Bark Cookies: An Oldie But A Goodie

Cinnamon Bark Cookies

I've got a really unique Christmas cookie in my archives. It was just sitting there....all lonely...thinking it would never again get to share its Christmas deliciousness with food lovers again. So, I decided to dust it off and share it again. It's been a couple of years since I first posted this one, so I thought it was time to give it some love.

This cookie is kind of time consuming to make, but the results are so pretty it's worth it. It's a crisp, slightly buttery cookie with a mild cinnamon flavor. Perfect for eating with a hot mug of cocoa or cup of coffee.

Want the recipe? You can get it in my original post for Cinnamon Bark Cookies.

Enjoy!

Amber

Cinnamon Bark Cookies


A Day of Remembrance & Silence




Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

I have a confession. I may or may not have eaten an embarrassing amount of Hershey's candy cane kisses yesterday.
The evidence.

Oh come on.  Do you really think I ate all those by myself? No, wait...don't answer that. But let's just say I had, can you blame me?

Look how pretty they are.

While I did eat one or two, ahem, let's just say an indeterminable amount. Most of them went into making these puppies. I call them Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars. A buttery shortbread crust, a layer of toasted macadamia nuts and melty candy cane kisses, make these bars delicious.
Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars


Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

Yield: 16 bars   Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 salt
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
2 (10-oz) bags Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 pan. Spread the chopped nuts evenly over the crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Place the unwrapped candy cane kisses in a blender or food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Spread the candy pieces evenly over the hot crust/nuts layer. Allow to sit until the heat from the crust has melted the candy. You may need to use a spoon to evenly spread the melted candy. It doesn't need to be smooth, just make sure all of the crust is covered.


Allow to cool in the refrigerator until the candy has hardened and set back up. Cut into bars. Eat and enjoy!
Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

Recipe Notes:
I experimented with several ways to spread the candy on the crust. Spreading the blended pieces was the best way to keep the pretty swirly effect of the candy cane kisses, while getting even coverage. Melting the candy beforehand then pouring over the crust will result in a solid pink candy layer, rather than the swirled effect. Also, when cutting the bars, make sure your knife goes all the way to the pan and your cuts are clean. Otherwise the candy layer will separate when trying to remove the bars.


Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider: A Tasty Kitchen Post

Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider
I love winter - for about thirty days. During this time winter is magical and full of my favorite traditions that capture every sense.

Winter is for hot cocoa and fuzzy blankets. It's for taking fun treks in the snow that turn your nose red and your toes cold, so when you come home all you want to do is get warm and toasty in front of a fire. Winter smells like pine needles, old Christmas ornaments, and sugar cookies baking in the oven.

Yes, I'm known to wax poetic on occasion.

These things are why it's my favorite time of the year....for thirty days. After this, the cold get's really old and I'm ready for sunshine and warmth again.

One of my favorite ways to warm up on chilly days is a hot cup of deliciousness....like this Tasty Kitchen recipe for Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider. Holy cow was this stuff good!
Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider
For the recipe head over to the Tasty Kitchen blog, where you can snag the printable and read the rest of my post.
Enjoy!

Amber
Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider

Reminder: If you haven't already voted for my White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars in the Sweetest 16 Recipe Contest, I'd love for you to vote for my recipe. You can vote here.


White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars: Sweetest Sixteen Recipe Contest


White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars

Good morning! How's your Monday so far? Mine has been hectic. Thanks in part to a forgotten show-and-tell day at my sons school - which resulted in a mad dash back to the house to stash a bag full of toys for him to pick from. Because you know if I had brought just one, inevitably that one would have been the WRONG one.

Yes, my six year old is becoming a big boy. Gone are the days when everything Mommy did was perfect.

Sniff.

Anyway, crisis averted and I made another mad dash back to the house to get this post up. What's the rush you ask? Well, because this post is part of a recipe contest! If you have a soft spot in your heart for dear 'ol Amber, I'd reeeeeally love for you to vote for me.

Hypothetically, I'd come to your house and do all your laundry forever and ever. Hypothetically, of course. That counts...right?

Recently, I was asked to be a part of a Sweetest 16 Baking Recipe Contest, featuring 16 food bloggers. Since I'm a baker at heart and I love experimenting in the kitchen, how could I say no?

THE MISSION: Choose at least one ingredient from a box of goodies I was sent, create a delicious recipe with it. Go head to head against the other great bloggers in a March Madness style sweet 16 contest.

THE RESULT: One of the products I received was a Raspberry Cake and Pastry filling, so I decided to work with that. After rummaging through my cabinets to see what I had, I zeroed in on a fat bag of heaven's nectar - a.k.a white chocolate chips. What goes better with raspberry than white chocolate? So I threw them together and made a pan full of delicious babies that I like to call White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars.

They are gooood!

Each blogger will advance by popular vote in a March Madness-style tournament, and voting begins today!! The first round ends at 9:00pm on 12/12, so if you fee like it, pretty please, head on over and vote for my White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars!

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars
White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars
Yield: 12-16 bars   Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup Solo Raspberry Cake and Pastry Filling


Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and dry milk. Stir in the eggs and oil.. Press two-thirds of the mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Set remaining cake mixture aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the condensed milk, white chocolate chips and butter. Heat uncovered until chips and butter are melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over the crust.

Drop tablespoons of raspberry filling evenly over the white chocolate layer. Using a knife, drag the knife through the raspberry dollops, creating a swirl effect.

Drop teaspoonfuls of remaining cake mixture over the raspberry layer. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting.

Optional: Garnish bars with drizzled melted white chocolate.

Enjoy!

Amber

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars


2012 Holiday Gift Guide: What Every Kitchen Needs

There's just a little over two weeks left until Christmas, and the holiday shopping season is well under way. This was never more clear than on my recent trip/nightmare to Toys 'R' Us.

I'm pretty sure I almost lost a limb or two on several occasions. Note to my fellow parents: Avoid this place like the plague.

During the holidays I love checking out unique kitchen gadgets. Every kitchen needs to have a few awesome essentials and gadgets, and if they look great too, that's just icing on the cake.

Here are a few of my favorite finds...a few even made it onto my own wish list. I'll let you know what Santa brings me. The best part? You find all of these items online.

Perfect.



1.  New Metro Design Beater Blade. Such a good idea. This blade is a scraper/beater fusion. It scrapes the bowl as it mixes, saving you time in your busy schedule.

2.  Anthropologie Poppy Ring baking dish. Bake some brownies in this baby, and you'll want to dive in just to show off the pretty inside. FYI, I'm obsessed with Anthropologie.

3. Holiday Cookie Stamps from stampinup.com. I'm fairly certain Santa would love some cookies made with these.

4. Milk Jug measuring cups from Anthropologie. Besides being totally awesome, these measuring cups are pretty enough to leave out on your counter. No rummaging through your drawers for the right sized measuring cup. Oh come on, I know I'm not the only one who does that.

5. Oster MyBlend personal size blender. This blender is perfect for making single serving smoothies. The canister also doubles as a to go cup - complete with lid. Great for busy mornings!

6. Waring Pro Snow Cone Maker. Treat yourself to one of these and you can enjoy snow cones all year long.

Of course, once you get these fabulous gifts, you need to try them out with a recipe or two...purely for quality assurance purposes. Right?

Blackberry Cobbler Bars

Chocolate Snickers Layer Cake
With persuasion like this, do you really need any prompting to nab a few of these gift ideas for the kitchen lover in your life? What are some of your favorite gift finds this year? If you've come across something great, leave me a comment and let me know!

Happy Shopping!

Amber


Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chili: Cooking From Your Pantry

Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chilli

Do you like to hoard certain food items? I do. After being bedridden for months and unable to get to the grocery store, I quickly learned the value of having a well stocked pantry.

Previously, my pantry was shamefully lacking in basic staples. I try to cook with whole, fresh foods when I can, but sometimes that's not possible and you need to pull from your pantry reserves for a while.

Like when your head is constantly in the....porcelain throne. O.K. Side note: After racking my brain for a nicer term for what we all know I mean, I came across some very interesting names for it. Comfort Room. Place of Easement. Necessarium. Really? Who thinks these up?

Anyway, I didn't have a very good stockpile, so my husband was constantly running to the store every other day...or picking up fast food. Long story short, I am obsessed with hoarding the basics now.

My goal is to have a 3 month supply of everything. Should I ever be in that position again, I want the peace of mind knowing my family won't starve...or have to live on junk. So this posts starts my Cooking From Your Pantry series. When you have a cabinet full of ingredients, it's always helpful to have a good collection of recipes to use with it!

This white chicken chili is a recipe I got from my sister-in-law Christel. I love how thick, creamy and cheesy it is, thanks to a generous amount of cream cheese and cheddar cheese added to the mix. It's so hearty and filling, and is a great recipe for cooking from your pantry.

Enjoy!

Amber


Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chili
Yield: 8-10 Servings   Printable Recipe

2 cans white northern beans
2 cans corn
2 cans diced tomatoes, or 2 tomatoes, diced
2 cans diced green chillies
1 cup water or chicken broth
2 packages white chicken chili seasoning (I use Mccormack)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cooked (can also use a rotisserie chicken)
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
shredded cheddar cheese (about 1-2 cups)

Directions:

Place all ingredients except for the cheddar cheese in a crockpot, and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally. Towards the end of cooking time, stir in the cheddar cheese and allow to melt.

Recipe Notes: This dish also works really well made on the stove top, and is super fast to make. Just throw everything in a big pot and heat up. To save even more time, use a rotisserie chicken instead of having to cook your chicken.

Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chilli


Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars

Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars
I've got another tasty recipe of my mom's here. We just got to visit with them for a week, and she made these bars for us that were so good. 

Of course, anything with chocolate in it gets a thumbs up at our house, so these were destined to be a hit. They are so chewy and gooey right out of the oven, and the next day after they had set up a bit more, they were still chewy and delicious.

I adapted the recipe to suit my own tastes, and I love how simple they are.


Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars
Yield: 15    Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter


Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and dry milk. Stir in the eggs and oil.. Press two-thirds of the mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Set remaining cake mixture aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the milk, chocolate chips and butter. Heat uncovered until chips and butter are melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over the crust.

Drop teaspoonfuls of remaining cake mixture over top. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting.

Enjoy!

Amber

Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars





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