December 20, 2009

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Shortbread Cookies

An impressive name, right? I love shortbread cookies, and as my sister stated, they are "definitely an under-rated cookie." I love the buttery, sugary goodness - it just melts in your mouth. I found the following recipe online, and then added my own little treat - Nestle's Dark Chocolate & Mint Chips...yum!

Original recipe: - Tina's Shortbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup Dark Chocolate & Mint Chips

1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl - set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually mix in the flour mixture, little by little until well-mixed. Stir in the chips.
4. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls. After placing them on the cookie sheets, lightly flatten the cookies with a fork.
5. Bake for 15 minutes (until golden brown). Remove from sheets and place on wire racks to cool.

December 12, 2009

Chocolate Crinkles goodies. I just couldn't wait to start making the holiday cookie recipes I've been looking over for the past couple of weeks. Chocolate Crinkles are not strictly holiday cookies, but I think they're pretty festive - especially if you add mint or peppermint extract in place of vanilla...which I thought to do AFTER I added the vanilla. So this recipe is for the original Chocolate Crinkles, but I hope to try out a minty one in the near future! Also, I'll be completely honest with you - these aren't the healthiest cookies, but they sure are delicious!

*Original recipe from - Chocolate Crinkles II

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar (I used organic)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. In a medium bowl, combine cocoa, sugar and vegetable with a hand-mixer.
2. Beat in eggs, one at a time - then stir in vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into sugar mixture.
4. Cover and chill for 4 hours (this allows you to shape dough into balls).
5. After 4 hours, remove from the fridge and heat over to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place powdered sugar into a bowl.
6. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (try not to make too big of ones!) while coating it in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the parchment paper onto a wire rack - it helps to keep the cookies on the parchment paper until they cool completely - a good 2 hours.
8. Enjoy!

December 8, 2009

Macaroni Salad

This is a great side dish to make - especially during the summer. It's very refreshing! Beware: it makes a LOT...which is good because it is quite delicious!

1 box (16 oz.) "salad macaroni" (although you can use any type of pasta)
3/4 C. chopped celery
1 small can pineapple tidbits
1 small can sliced black olives
1 cup cubed colby cheese
1 small package (2 oz.) slivered almonds (toasted)
3/4 C. mayo 

1. Cook the pasta, drain and rinse in cold water.
2. Pour the juice from the pineapple tidbits into a small bowl. Mix juice with 3/4 cup mayonnaise. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine pasta, pineapple tidbits, black olives, colby cheese and almonds.
4. Pour mayo/juice mixture over pasta. Stir well.
*You may add milk to reach desired consistency.

December 7, 2009

Crack Dip (Buffalo Chicken Dip)

This dip is so addicting that it has dubbed the nickname, "Crack Dip." I swear! Just Google "Crack Dip," and I promise that you'll find a variety of recipes for this great dip. I first heard about it on a site called, The Nest. I made it for a sorority alum party, and it was a hit - got a lot of requests for the recipe. Enjoy!

8 oz. package cream cheese - softened
1/2 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing (I used ranch)
1/2 cup hot wings sauce (Frank's Wing Sauce is best!)
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cans of cooked, cubed white chicken

1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix cream cheese, dressing, wing sauce and cheddar cheese together. Stir in chicken.
3. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
4. Serve with pita chips, crackers or celery. 
5. Become addicted. :)

Zucchini Bread

Yum, yum, yum. This bread is to-die-for! It makes two loaves, so you can keep one and give one to a friend (or keep both for yourself - I'm not judging!)

*Adapted from - Mom's Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup applesauce
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium-sized zucchinis)
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Use non-stick spray on 2 8x4-inch bread pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Sift flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon together in a bowl.

3. Beat eggs, applesauce, sugar and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in zucchini and chopped walnuts until combined. Pour batter into pans.

4. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

The Best Turkey Burgers

Although my husband and I currently live in an apartment, it has not stopped us from grilling up a storm. Case in point, we LOVE making these turkey burgers. To be honest, I grew up eating red meat every day of my life. Were turkey burgers ever in the picture? No! Since getting married, I've had red meat about 3 times - there are definitely healthier options (but please realize that I'll never turn away a great piece of steak!). We eat a lot of chicken, turkey and fish now - and it's great. Below is a divine recipe for great turkey burgers. Enjoy! *Adapted from - Mushroom Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers.

1 pound ground turkey
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat grill for high heat (or turn on your Foreman!).
2. In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Form into 4 patties.

3. Place on grill and cook for 10 minutes on each side (or 10 minutes total if using a George Foreman Grill).

4. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings. Mayonnaise and tomatoes are great!

Mango-Tomato Salsa

So fresh, yet just enough spice - it's a great combination! Use it as a dip for tortilla chips, or top grilled chicken with it - very versatile.

2 mangoes
3 medium tomatoes
1 serrano chile, minced
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 small bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
1 lemon, juice only
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Dice mangoes and tomatoes - mix in a medium bowl.

2. Add and combine the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Enjoy as you wish!

Honey-Berry Compote

I made this dish during the summer, and it was wonderful. My husband enjoys having well-balanced meals, so I tried looking for a great fruit side-dish that we could incorporate into our dinners. Between the two of us, this lasted us for a few dinners! I found the following recipe in The Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book.

i/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
2 cups halved green seedless grapes
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh halved strawberries
2 cups fresh raspberries

1. For dressing, whisk together in a small bowl the orange juice and honey.

2. In a large serving bowl, mix together grapes, blueberries and strawberries. Gently stir in dressing. Cove and chill for 2-4 hours.

3. Just before serving, stir in the raspberries. *These berries are far more delicate than blueberries and strawberries, and will lose their texture if chilled too long in the dressing.

Gourmet Mac & Cheese

I love that delicious-goodness that comes from a blue box - always have, always will. Since I'm now a grown-up (22 & married makes me a grown-up, correct?), I have decided to branch out and try variations of this childhood favorite. I found a great recipe on (love that site), and made some minor changes to it. Super rich and creamy - amazing!

*Adapted from Chuck's Famous Mac and Cheese on

8 oz. package elbow macaroni
8 oz. package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 oz. container cottage cheese
8 oz. container sour cream
1/2 cup Italian cheese blend (parmesan, asiago, fontina)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta - cook until done and drain. In a 2.5-quart baking dish, stir together macaroni, shredded cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, Italian cheese, salt and pepper. You may sprinkle additional cheese on top before baking.Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden. 

Christmas Bark

Ok, so this wonderful treat can be made any time during the year. Growing up, my mom only made it during the holidays in December, so for me, it's just a holiday candy. Feel free to make it whenever, though!

1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 c. butter
1/2 c. light brown sugar
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. pecans

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Place crackers in one layer on parchment-lined 9x13 jelly roll pan
2. Melt butter & brown sugar in medium saucepan. Cook until it boils and combines - stirring constantly.
3. Pour butter mixture over crackers evenly.
4. Bake 15 minutes.
5. Remove from oven & sprinkle chocolate chips over top. When they start to melt, spread evenly over crackers.
6. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
7. Refrigerate 1 hour, then crack into pieces.
8. Enjoy!

And so it begins...

I have thought long and hard about the type of blog I should start (and this is roughly my 4th attempt!). Here you'll find a collection of recipes, tips for the home, and just everyday life musings. Enjoy!