Friday, December 19, 2008

Ho Ho Ho (Part II)

As previously mentioned, our family cookie swap is coming up this weekend and since I had the day off, I baked my Mom's contribution -- Toasted Smore Bars.

They're beyond delicious... gooey, chocolately, and perfect!

I got this recipe from the same magazine as listed in the Eggnog cookie post ("Holiday Cookies" by Cuisine at Home" and to be honest, I was slightly hesitant about putting Reese's peanut butter cups onto a smore bar. But I'm so glad I did! It adds a really great touch... however, I did make a batch up without the PB cups because of of the ladies involved in the swap doesn't care for peanut butter. In that case, I up-ed the chocolate chips to 2 C and upped the marshmallow to 2 C as well.


Crispy Toasted Smore Bars
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For the crust...
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/3 C all purpose flour
pinch of salt

For the toppings...
12 peanut butter cups, quartered
1 1/2 C mini marshmallows
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; coat a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
Cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. The mixture will look curdled - it's ok :)
Stir in graham cracker crumbs, flour, and salt. Reserve 2/3 C of this mixture to use as a topping.
Lightly spray your fingers with nonstick spray and then press the remaining graham cracker crumbs into the prepared pan (the layer will be thin). Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
After the crust is baked, top the hot crust with peanut butter cups, marshmallows, and chocolate chips; press lightly to adhere. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture in clumps over the top and press lightly.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until the marshmallows are puffed and just beginning to turn golden.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ho Ho Ho (part I)

So every year Mr. Tana-Licious' family does a big cookie swap... this year there are 10 lovely ladies involved which means 10 dozen cookies to share & I get to bring 10 dozen different ones. Not so shabby :)

I picked up a magazine at Lowe's last week titled "Holiday Cookies" by Cuisine at Home because the front cover had this adorable little cookie on it with holly decoration! I flipped open the magazine and found them... Eggnog Tea Cookies with Butter Rum Icing. I was instantly sold!!

So I took on the challenge of baking all 10 dozen this am and just finished the decorating. I'm really pleased with how they turned out... and I was shocked that there recipe does not call for actual eggnog! Just lots of nutmeg and then the rum in the glaze. Needless to say, one bite proved that they are very eggnog-y and very yummy!

My next baking endeavor will be Smores Bars from this same book... That's going to be my Mom's contribution to the cookie swap and as the resident baker of the house, I'm more than willing to help out!

Enjoy :)

Eggnog Tea Cookies with Butter Rum Icing

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2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir flour, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.
Cream the 2 sticks of butter with the granulated sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until just incorporated.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until blended.
Cover and chill dough for at least one hour (up to 24 hours).
Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon) and arrange onto a parchment lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch and light brown on the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

2 C powdered sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. rum extract or light rum

Blend powdered sugar, 2 tbsp. of butter, and rum together using a mixer.
Frost cooled cookies then decorate however you'd like.
Allow icing to harden before packaging.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


is a labor of love! ;)

I made this risotto dish a few weeks back for Mr. Tana-Licious and my Mom for supper. It was creamy and wonderful! I would omit the thyme next time because frankly, I'm not a huge fan. Other than that, I would make it in a heartbeat!!

I served it with some simple grilled chicken and sliced almonds.

Enjoy :)

Cauliflower Risotto with Brie & Almonds

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4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups water
3 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
5 ounce Brie, rind discarded, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Bring broth, water, and thyme sprigs to a bare simmer in a medium saucepan.
Meanwhile, heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté cauliflower with 1/4 teaspoon salt until crisp-tender and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add thyme leaves and sauté 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.
Add remaining tablespoon oil to pan, then add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring, until wine has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and briskly simmer, stirring, until broth has been absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 22 minutes. (There will be leftover broth.)
Stir in cauliflower, Brie, and salt and pepper to taste. Thin with some of remaining broth if desired. Serve topped with almonds.

I'm coconuts for you, Mom!

As mentioned in the Crab Dip post, we had a little birthday get together for my Mom in late November and I, again, was put in charge of cake duty!

Besides her love for anything crab, she also loves coconut.. which in my humble opinion, makes a much tastier cake!!

I made her a coconut layer cake with coconut buttercream... this cake was pretty dense with the coconut milk and really packed a coconut punch... which was exactly what I wanted!

Enjoy :)

Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

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2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lépez)
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Pinch of salt
4 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and sweetened cream of coconut in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients and then buttermilk, each just until blended.
Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with pinch of salt in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into batter.
Divide cake batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.
Place 1 cake layer on cake plate. Spread 1 cup Frosting over cake layer. Sprinkle 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut over. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut over cake, gently pressing into sides to adhere.

(Coconut Layer Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.)

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon coconut extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar (approximately 1 lb.) sifted
2 Tablespoons milk


In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
Add vanilla.
Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.
Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Happy Birthday Mom!
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I love a good quickie...

... a peanut butter quickie that is!! ;)

This recipe was shared with me by my future mother-in-law... she says it was her go-to cookie when the kids would come home and tell her they needed a couple dozen cookies for a bake sale the next day.

Simple and delicious... And quick!!

Enjoy :)

Peanut Butter Quickies

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1 egg
1 C sugar
1 C peanut butter

Combine all ingredients throughly. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completly on wire rack and then devour them!

Note: I scoop the dough with a cookie scoop and then roll them into balls. I then use a fork to make the traditional peanut butter cookie marks (I moisten the fork slightly and press into granulated sugar before I press the dough).

Who you callin' crabby?!

We had a lovely get together for my Mom's birthday at the end of November and I hipped up this yummy & easy crab dip! Being from Maryland, my mom has Old Bay running through her veins so this was the perfect birthday party appetizer for her!!

Enjoy :)

Crab Dip

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11 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 Tbs. mayo
12 ounces of crabmeat, drained and flaked
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large bread bowl

Preheat oven to 350. In bowl, combine cream cheese, onion, mayo, crabmeat, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt and pepper. Spread into a two-quart baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. While it's baking, cut a whole at the top of the bread bowl, and scoop out some of the bread to make room for the dip. Remove dip from oven, stir, and scoop into the bread bowl. Place on a baking sheet, and bake additional 10 minutes.