The Cookie Jar

cookiejarblog

This is a quick, affordable but personal gift for anyone who likes cookies (who doesn’t like cookies)?  Just grab a quart jar and layer in the ingredients, tie the directions to the jar and it’s ready to go.  Makes a very cute combo gift for a first apartment housewarming tied up with a wooden spoon.  Or extend the gift by giving everything needed to bake them – a cookie sheet, spatula, wooden spoon and bowl.

And don’t be afraid to customize it for the person you’re giving it to.  Layer in nuts, change to milk chocolate chips.  Try peanut butter chips with chocolate chips.  Mix it up!

Use the recipe below, or get it at AllRecipes.

The Cookie Jar
 

 

:
: cookies
: 24 cookies

Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces white chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Whisk flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, white sugar, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Stir butter and egg into flour mixture until dough is just mixed; drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until edges of cookie are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

 

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Mezzi Rigatoni & Chicken

Mezzi Rigatoni

And I’m back with another delicious and quick meal from Barilla.  I wouldn’t consider this a light summer meal necessarily – sauce and pasta isn’t what I think of for 80 degree weather.  But it has great flavors and comes together really quickly.  It would be another great weekday meal that’s pretty inexpensive to put together.  And you could do endless variations to the flavor profiles.

I made this one with breaded chicken, and to tell a secret it was precooked and frozen.  I just chopped it up, sauteed it frozen and it came out just great.  Give this recipe a whirl for a nice weekday treat.

Get the Barilla recipe here

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Mashed potato pancakes

taterpancake-blog

I started experimenting with potato pancake recipes and my first tries tasted ok, they came out either too mushy, too messy, not enough flavor. And I finally came back around to the key.  The universal truth: cheddar makes everything better.

These potato pancakes are an instant favorite.  They are crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.  They aren’t too eggy, they aren’t wet in the middle, and the cheddar both binds them and gives them a delicious flavor.  I like things pretty basic and I know most people don’t. This would be a great base recipe for a ton of variations.  I like mine with a healthy dose of black pepper but you could add chives, bacon, garlic, onions, or pretty much any herb to take the flavor to a new place.

So try these and let me know what your twists are.  I love them with ketchup and/or sour cream, tucked in next to some fluffy scrambled eggs and buttery brown toast.  Have I mentioned I really love breakfast?  Enjoy!

Mashed potato pancakes
 

 

:
: brunch
Cuisine: American
: 3

Ingredients
  • 2C cold mashed potatoes
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3T panko bread crumbs
  • ¼C flour
  • 3T oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions
  1. Heat skillet over medium heat. Line a plate with several layers of paper towel and set aside.
  2. Combine mashed potatoes, cheese, egg and panko in medium-sized bowl, stirring to combine well.
  3. Pour oil into hot skillet.
  4. Using an ice cream scoop, and scoop out potato mixture. Dredge potato scoop in flour on both sides, flattening slightly to about ½” thick.
  5. Gently place in hot oil, cooking until brown on both sides, approximately 4-5 minutes on each side.
  6. Remove to paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil, and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.

 

Or save this recipe at AllRecipes.com

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Baked Ziti with Cheese

zitiblog

Tonight was so very much a pasta night.  After a long day of meetings, meetings…meetings, it was time to have a little easy and delicious treat.  Cheese, tomato sauce, béchamel, pasta and cheese.  What else do I have to tell you here?  This single-serve sized baked ziti is a quick way to have some delicious comfort food in not a lot of time.

If you multitask, it’s about 30 minutes from stovetop to oven to table, and this recipe is easy to scale up or down.  I made 2 servings so that I’d have a little left over, since I’ll want it again but it’s dangerous for me to have a giant pan of pasta lurking in my fridge waiting for me to devour it.

I took a little shortcut and put the milk in the microwave while my roux was cooking together.  It will seem a little thin, but don’t worry, the sauce thickens up a bit in the oven.  I used panko breadcrumbs on top to give it a nice little crunch and cooked it until it was brown and bubbly.  Delicious!  Get the Barilla recipe at AllRecipes.

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Sugar & spice bars

spanishbarblog

I’ve been AWOL from the blog for a bit.  Life has gotten hectic again, and the things I enjoy most seem to get pushed aside for “more important” things.

But this morning as I was looking over the list of very big things I need to accomplish, it occurred to me that I haven’t done anything I wanted to do this weekend.  Need to, yes.  Should, yes.  But not want.  So in the name of balance, I present a small want.

These bars are pretty tasty – I can’t say they’re my absolute favorites as the recipe is written but they have promise.  I’d cut the clove in half, and drizzle them with some tangy cream cheese frosting next time.  But they were a nice little break in an otherwise “have-to” filled weekend so, if for no other reason, I like them a lot for that.  Give them a try if you like a cakey little cookie that packs a spicy punch.

Get the recipe for Donna’s Spanish Bars here

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Ashley and Whitney’s Popcorn and Pretzel Sweet Snack Mix

Salty & sweet combine to create this snack mix you will not be able to stop eating.

As if popcorn on its own isn’t addictive enough.  Let’s mix it up with pretzels, almonds…now pour some white chocolate over it.  I dare you to try to stop eating this.

I had the best of intentions when I made this batch of Ashley & Whitney’s Popcorn & Pretzel Sweet Snack Mix.  I’d planned to bag it up and take it to work, safe from my cravings.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  This perfect mix of salty and sweet didn’t make it past my recliner.  Make some – it’s really easy, made even easier with Reynolds parchment.  The white chocolate doesn’t stick to anything and you can just throw away any spillover.

So, again, I’m saying make this one.  It’s quick, it’s easy.  But be warned, you can’t stop eating it.

Get the recipe at AllRecipes.com

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Johnsonville Sausage 6 ingredient recipe makeover

sausagechopchop-blog

Another six ingredient makeover recipe starring Johnsonville Sausage.  How can you go wrong with sausage, egg and cheese?  This recipe originally featured ham, but I substituted it for sausage I had left over from another recipe in this quick and delicious breakfast.  You just heat the sausage first then add eggs, and sprinkle in cheese just before you pull them out of the pan.  Sausage is a perfect stand in for this easy breakfast.

Get the recipe here

Have you entered the Johnsonville 6 ingredients or less sweepstakes?  20 random winners will receive a Simply Calphalon 12-inch covered stainless steel skillet and two free coupons for Johnsonville Italian Sausage!  Get all the details here and get to pinning and making simple and delicious meals with Johnsonville!

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Candice’s Lasagna Omelet

lasagna-omelet-blogThis is a great way to use up lasagna leftovers, or make something that reminds you of a lasagna without all the work.  Candice’s Lasagna Omelet is a quick and easy recipe (6 ingredients!) packed with flavor.  I made this one with Johnsonville mild Italian sausage.  It lends a great flavor and it was super easy to make.  This would be a great brunch or even dinner combo.

Get the recipe for Candice’s Lasagna Omelet at AllRecipes.

Have you entered the Johnsonville 6 ingredients or less sweepstakes?  20 random winners will receive a Simply Calphalon 12-inch covered stainless steel skillet and two free coupons for Johnsonville Italian Sausage!  Get all the details here and get to pinning and making simple and delicious meals with Johnsonville!

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Not so deviled eggs

buttercream-eggs-blog

I’ve never molded chocolates before. I’m not sure I ever will again.  It takes a certain amount of patience I seem to lack.  But this recipe doesn’t require molds – you can just dip the eggs in chocolate which I did for most of these.  And it’s definitely worth the trouble – these are delicious!

The pretty molded ones (that I could get out of the molds!) are in front, and the more…rustic…versions are cleverly out of focus in the back.  The recipe is great – it makes many, many 2″ eggs.  I split the filling in half and added 1 cup of peanut butter to half of it, and they came out like some name-brand chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs I love so much this time of year. The vanilla half of the filling really tastes like butter cream.  I used dark chocolate on the outside and it gives these a nice balance.

Get the recipe for Butter Cream Easter Egg Candies at AllRecipes.com

The presentation is on the Flutes & Pearls Egg Tray from WiltonArmetale, which I received as a gift to review.  The tray is not only beautiful but very functional.  You can go from fridge, freezer or oven to the table and it retains the cold or heat to keep your food at the right temperature.  It’s not dishwasher safe, but cleanup is pretty easy.  I think this plate is as beautiful as it is function – I know I’ll get a lot of use from it.

Easter Prize Package

WiltonArmetale is giving away a huge prize package for Easter!  Enter to win over $400 in prizes including this awesome egg tray!

wilton

Get your entries in for your chance to win this great prize package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My Reynolds Ah-ha! moment – homemade slice & bake cookies

royal-blog

I started out this post thinking I was going to make these beautiful little cutout cookies, meticulously detailed with royal icing.  The best laid plans…

I have never been the best at cutouts – it all seems a bit hit or miss to me.  Getting the dough to the right texture has always been a tough thing for me to master.

As part of an AllRecipes AllStar activity, we were asked to make Karen’s Rolled Sugar Cookies.  I received a roll of parchment and some parchment sheets for my participation.

I mixed up the dough, and it seemed a little sticky but I wasn’t sure.  I chilled it, took it out…yes, sticky.

But I pressed on, rolling some flour into it and hoping for the best.  I cut a square fluted cookie…totally stuck to the cutter.  Tried again and again; no luck.

I did manage to get one square cookie out of the mess, so I decided to bake it on Reynolds parchment along with a few others that I sort of shaped from the wreckage.  Total fail.  Though they didn’t stick to the pan, and cleanup was very easy, it baked completely misshapen.  My dreams of beautiful cookies fading away.

So I sat deflated, thinking about how to salvage the project.  In my grumbling I thought I would have been better off buying a log of dough and slicing them off.  But I have dough I could slice…aha!

I took the remaining dough, and rolled it into a log inside a sheet of Reynolds parchment paper.  Then twisted the ends so that it was like a big cookie dough sausage, put it in a zip top bag and back into the refrigerator to let it firm up that way.

The next day I sliced the cookies off, formed them into egg shapes and off I went.  They baked up great!  I made a batch of royal icing (my first ever attempt) and mixed in several colors.

Again I had a few really bad looking cookies, but practice makes perfect.  By the end I had a few that I was really happy with.  I decorated on sheets of parchment to avoid getting food coloring and mess all over my kitchen table.

Reynolds really saved this project!  Discover and find more tips and timesavers when cooking with Reynolds Kitchens products here or in the footnotes of their recipes on Allrecipes.com.

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