Brioche French Toast with Berry Compote

FrenchToastBerryCompote

Surprise your mom this Mother’s Day and make her breakfast in bed. Skip your usual breakfast destination and make it yourself with this Brioche French Toast and Mixed Berry Compote. I love to make breakfast at home and am always in search of ways to make it a little more exciting – and restaurant like.

There are so many variations you can do french toast, it’s a really great vehicle to your favorite toppings or fruit. I love fresh berries so I decided to try and make a compote on the stove top with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, fresh orange juice, and a pinch of sugar. Berries have a lot of natural sweetness and one way to make this recipe a tiny bit healthier is to use less sugar in your compote. I have seen recipes with a whole cup! That is just way too sweet – agave or honey would be great as well.

For the bread: I decided to make this special and use challah because I could not find brioche in the store. They are similar and made with a lot of eggs. If you wanted to use whole wheat toast you could use that as well. Any white bread, whole wheat, challah or brioche would work. Since this is Mother’s Day you can make it extra special with a nice loaf of brioche.

Some other great toppings could be bananas, shredded coconut, chia seeds, walnuts, or even pure maple syrup! You don’t have to stick to this recipe, be creative!

Brioche French Toast with Berry Compote 

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of low fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 challah or brioche loaf cut into 1/2-1 inch thick slices – not including end piece (1 piece per person – cut in half when cooked)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups fresh mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
  • a pinch of sugar OR agave OR honey (use what you have)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh orange juice + 1 teaspoon of orange zest
  • Garnish: confectioner’s sugar for dusting

What to do:

  1. Prepare French Toast: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Pour into a large baking pan and place bread slices in pan for a few minutes on each side (do not over soak might fall apart).
    BriocheFrenchToast
  2. While bread is soaking preheat your pan with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
  3. Prepare the berry compote: In a small sauce pan place the 3 cups of berries,  orange  juice, zest and sweetener of choice. Over low-medium heat let berries reduce stir every couple minutes. Berries should form a sauce with a little bit of thickness to it.
    BerryCompote
  4. When butter is melted in pan carefully transfer soaked bread into skillet and cook until golden brown (about 4 minutes on each side may take longer). Transfer to a baking pan and move to oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the bread in batches. Add more butter as needed. May take several batches – do not overcrowd.
    BriocheFrenchToast
  5. Once all batches are done remove french toast from the oven cut in half and stack on top of each other, spoon berry compote over top and garnish with confectioner’s sugar and a few pieces of fresh fruit.BriocheFrenchToast

Serve with fresh squeezes orange juice and enjoy!!!

Happy Mother’s Day! 

~Hunter

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Pork Carnitas Tacos with Salsa Verde and Pico De Gallo

Pork Carnitas

Happy Cinco De Mayo! Celebrate May 5th with Pork Carnitas, Salsa Verde and Pico De Gallo that is perfect for your Healthy Mexican Fiesta.

This Pork Carnitas recipe works perfectly in tacos. Let the pork cook for a few hours in the oven with yummy aromatics like oranges, bay leaves, lime juice, cumin, and oregano. The result is pork that absorbs all that flavor and then is browned under the broiler for that crispy texture.

Pork CarnitasPork Carnitas

I also served this pork with a Salsa Verde that was inspired by a Mexican Restaurant that I frequently visit. They serve this green salsa on the table so you can add it to your dishes as you please. Salsa Verde is green and just uses tomatillo tomatoes to give it the green color along with fresh cilantro and jalapeno to adds some heat! I grilled the ingredients to add a nice smoky flavor.

Healthy Salsa Verde Salsa Verde

Pico De GalloTo add some freshness you can make my Pico De Gallo which helps brighten up your Pork Carnitas Taco! This Pico De Gallo is basically just roma tomates, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno which can be added to any of your favorite proteins.

You can also use this pork recipe for a Mexican Salad Bowl by putting the Pork Carnitas on top of a greens and adding the Salsa Verde, Pico De Gallo, Avocado, and whatever add-ins you like!

Pico De Gallo

Here’s How to Make the Photos Above:

Ingredients:

Corn Tortillas

For the Pork Carnitas:

1 4-5 pound bone in or boneless pork butt, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 orange juice and peel
juice of 1 lime (throwout the peel)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups of water

For the Salsa Verde:
4-5 tomatillos (outer layer removed and rinsed)
1 jalapeno (this adds heat unless you remove the seeds)
1 medium onion peeled and sliced in half
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup of packed cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Pico De Gallo
4-5 Roma Tomates
1 Small Red Onion
1/2 a Jalapeno, seeds removed
2 cups of chopped cilantro
1 lime
Salt and Pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a dutch oven or large pot that can go in the oven place the cubed pork, and all the other ingredients in the pot. Heat on burner over medium-high heat until the pork mixture begins to simmer. Cover and move to oven for 2 hours or until pork is tender enough to be pulled with fork. *If you bought a bone in pork butt and cut it off the bone put the bone in the pot also to add flavor*
  2. While pork is cooking heat grill over high heat and place the tomatillos, jalapeno, and onion on the grill. Let grill until they become blistered and slightly blackened. Put right into a blender with cilantro, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 cup of water. Move to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Next make the Pico De Gallo by dicing the roma tomatoes into small uniform pieces (remove some of the tomato seeds if it has a lot), the red onion the same size, half a seeded jalapeno, and finally fold in the chopped cilantro. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper. Put to the side.
  4. Remove pork from oven and use a slotted spoon to move pork to a cutting board. Remove the orange peel, onion and bay leaf into garbage. When just the cooking broth is left heat over high heat to a rapid boil until the liquid has reduced by half and become syrupy (20-30 minutes).
  5. While sauce is reducing shred meat if the pieces are still big and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Heat broiler to high and place rack in the middle of the oven. Spoon the reduced sauce evenly over the meat and toss to evenly coat. Flatten the meat out.
  6. Put under broiler for 5-7 minutes until the meat becomes browned. Remove from oven and flip the pork carnitas over, broil for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven.
  7. Warm taco shells in the oven while the meat is broiling and assemble taco with the salsa verde and Pico De Gallo!

It may seem like a lot of steps for the pork but it is so worth it! Do not skip boiling the liquid that the pork cooked in to pour over before you broil it. And definitely do not skip broiling the meat to get the crispy texture.

Enjoy your Cinco De Mayo with Pork Carnitas Tacos 

The Pork Carnitas recipe is from Pinterest and was originally posted on MyKitchenEsapades.com 

Healthy Easter Sunday Dinner Ideas

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.41.53 AMEaster is right around the corner and I thought it would be fun to give some of my favorite entertaining recipes that would make a great Easter dinner.

My last blog post was my 100th post! I am so happy that I have been able to keep up with blogging, going to school full time, and working. I am also about to reach my 200th blog follower so I am very thankful for all you guys taking the time to love what I do. These are some of my favorite recipes that I have made over the past year.

All of these recipes are so easy and most of them can be prepared a head of time if you are worried about having time to prep all your food! More importantly I try to make substitutions on all the recipes that I make to give them a healthy twist. But it’s important to remember that it is a holiday so if you want to indulge a little bit, you can and that’s as simple as using cream instead of a substitute like greek yogurt.

Here is a look back at my favorite recipes that would make the most delicious:

Easter Sunday Menu! 

Appetizers:

1. Cream of Asparagus Soup:
Spring Time Cream of Asparagus Soup
Spring Time Cream of Asparagus Soup

In my last blog post I gave you guys a recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup and this would make a perfect appetizer to your Easter dinner. Asparagus is in season during the spring so use it as much as you can! This recipe can also be made a head, just add the cream before you serve!

2. Party Friendly White Bean Dip:
Party-Friendly White Bean Dip
Party-Friendly White Bean Dip

I love this dip! It uses cannenelli beans, fresh herbs like parsley, and lemon juice. The result is a healthy yet delicious dip that everyone will love. This recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis. All you need is a food processor and this recipe could easily be doubled for a larger crowed. You could also serve this with home made pita chips or carrot and pepper sticks!

3. Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms:
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Doesn’t every holiday have to include stuffed mushrooms? Especially this recipe. I honestly really don’t even like mushrooms but lately I have been forcing myself to eat them and the taste has been growing on me. Regardless, I will eat these mushrooms whether I like the taste or not because they are that good! Stuffed with spicy sausage, marscapone, breadcrumbs, and herbs. Amazing!

Main Course:

1. Easy Turkey Lasagna:
Turkey Sausage Lasagna
Turkey Sausage Lasagna

Lasagna was always a staple in my house on Easter. Always made by my Grandma and we always had one with meat and one without. Now that she has stopped making it I always fantasize about her Lasagna when Easter rolls around. You could use ground turkey or do without the meat and it would still be the best lasagna ever.

2. Herb Crusted Pork Loin:
Herb Crusted Pork Loin
Herb Crusted Pork Loin

Not a ham fan? Make this herb crusted pork loin for those who do not wish to eat ham and they will love it! Pork loin doesn’t really have any flavor on it’s own so you need to load it with herbs and spices to make the pork stand out. Create a dry rub and cook the pork at a high temperature – the most important thing – let it rest. While it’s resting you can work on something else!

3. Rack of Lamb with Mint Basil Pesto:
Rack of Lamb
Rack of Lamb

 Lamb is very traditional on Easter. Some use leg of lamb and some rack of lamb. I am obsessed with this rack of lamb recipe especially the mint basil pesto that brings it to life. Rack of lamb can be expensive so if you are going to make it what better time then a special occasion like Easter.

Side Dishes:

1. Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes:
Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes
Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes

A skinny version of mashed potato that uses greek yogurt instead of cream or butter milk.

2. Oven Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Breadcrumbs:
Oven-Roasted Broccoli
Oven-Roasted Broccoli

Broccoli is always a crowed pleaser and this would go deliciously with the lamb or the roasted pork loin. More importantly it’s easy.

Dessert:

Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

To get some inspiration for dessert you can always check out my Healthier Sweet Treats page or just have your family bring dessert. After all, you’re doing all the cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great Easter everybody! And if you don’t celebrate all of these recipes would be great any night of the week!

~Hunter

Springtime Asparagus Soup

Springtime Cream of Asparagus Soup with Herbs and Lemon Juice 

Spring Time Cream of Asparagus Soup
Spring Time Cream of Asparagus Soup

Since in New York it snowed the first day of spring the only sign of spring is all the nice asparagus that has been in the market the past few weeks. Although its still early asparagus is in season April through late May. I love when this time of year rolls around and we begin to see a transition in the fruits and vegetables that are available in the super markets.

Asparagus can be very expensive when it is not in season so during the seasonal months I like to use it more frequently. This is the perfect time to try Cream of Asparagus Soup, especially if you are frequently making roasted asparagus and want to try something new. It’s nice to change it up and make something different and tasty like a creamy soup.

This Cream of Asparagus soup is also a good transition from winter soups into spring time meals. The weather is not quite warm enough but also still a little chilly in the evening and morning. Finishing the soup with fresh lemon juice really helps brighten up this soup for a warm spring day.

You can also make Cream of Asparagus soup for Easter this Sunday. It would make a great appetizer or entree for your family as it is light and bright. You can make this soup a head of time and add the cream right before you serve it so you can be sure the soup will not turn from re-heating the cream. If you don’t celebrate Easter just serve this at any dinner party or family gathering and everyone will love it!

I had some extra parsley and spinach in my refrigerator and figured hey they are green and might add some brightness to the dish! If you want to omit spinach and parsley you could.

Perfect Easter Cream of Asparagus Soup

What you need:
  • 2 pounds of fresh asparagus
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 3 small shallots, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons butter (coconut oil if vegan)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (vegetable if you want to make it vegan)
  • 1 cup water if needed to thin out soup
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (OTHER OPTIONS: half and half OR Coconut Milk OR Sour Cream OR Greek Yogurt – change amount to match ingredient)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • chives for garnish
  • juice of half a lemon for garnish
What to do:
  1. Wash and cut off asparagus ends that are tough. Cut asparagus into small 1 inch or so pieces. Reserve some of the tips if desired for garnish (if not ignore).
  2. In a large heavy pot melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft. Add asparagus pieces, pinch of salt and pepper and stir occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
    spring asparagus soup
  3. Add 4 or 5 (more broth equals thinner soup) cups of broth and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the fresh spinach and parsley, simmer for another 5-10 minutes until asparagus is very tender.
  4. Next, puree the soup in batches with a food processor or blender. If you have an immersion blender keep it in the pot and use that until smooth, caution blending hot liquids.
  5. Return soup back to pot and stir in 1/2 cup of cream or substitute season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  6. Serve soup hot with chopped chives for garnish and squeeze of half a lemon.
    spring time asparagus soup

The lemon really adds a lot of depth of flavor and brightens the soup! If you do not like lemon you can omit but I think it really made the soup great.

 

Enjoy!!

~Hunter

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

corned beef and cabbage

A traditional corned beef and cabbage cooked in a slow-cooker resulting in the moistest and tastiest corned beef recipe yet!

Happy Early St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!
This recipe was inspired for Tuesday’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us will wear green, go to a parade, or eat corned beef and cabbage. A great way to celebrate is to make this delicious corned beef recipe for you and your family!

You might be asking yourself… what is corned beef? I know I wasn’t really sure until one day I learned what it was. Corned beef is beef brisket cured in brine and boiled, served hot typically with cabbage, or cold, sliced for sandwiches. A rather salty piece of meat that is typically eaten around St. Patrick’s Day here in the United States. You will find the supermarkets stocked with packages of corned beef with a seasoning packet, as well as tons of cabbage on sale.
corned beef and cabbage

Take advantage of trying something different this St. Patrick’s Day and embracing the holiday, even if it is just with the meal you prepare. Interestingly enough from what I have read on the Internet people in Ireland don’t really celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like we do in America. If you want to do something to say you celebrated the holiday this Tuesday make this traditional meal for you and your family!

By the way, I didn’t think I liked corned beef and cabbage. I was wrong! This recipe was perfect and everybody loved it. I was a little skeptical because the corned beef cooks for a very long time in the slow-cooker. No worries everything will be ok, just be sure you have a big enough slow-cooker to fit all the yumminess!

What you need: 

  • 1   2.5 or 3 pound corned beef roast with seasoning packet
  • 2 small onions sliced thin
  • 1 pound bag of carrots, peeled, cut into thirds
  • 10 small red potatoes, rinsed and cleaned
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • For serving: Rye bread, spicy brown mustard

What to do: 

  1. Prepare your onions, carrots and whole potatoes.
  2. Place onions and carrots in the bottom of a large slow-cooker. Next place the corned beef roast along with the juices in the bag in the slow-cooker on top of the carrots and onions. Remove the small spice mix bag and sprinkle over and under the roast on the vegetables. Add 2 cups of water. Line potatoes around the corned beef roast in a circle.
    corned beef and cabbage
  3. Cover and cook for 7 hours on high. Remove potatoes and put on a dish and cover with tin foil. Cut cabbage into small pieces removing the outer layers and washing carefully. Arrange cabbage on top of the corned beef. Cover and cook for additional 1.5 hours.
  4. After 1.5 hours carefully remove the corned beef from under the cabbage. Place on a baking tray and cover with tin foil to rest. Put potatoes back into crockpot with the cabbage and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to eat slice the corned beef against the grain.
    Corned beef
  6.  Remove potatoes from slow-cooker arranging on the outside of a serving tray. Place some of the cabbage in the middle of the potatoes then lay the corned beef on top with carrots.
  7. Serve extra cabbage on the side.
    corned beef and cabbage

Yes, you read that right. This corned beef and cabbage recipe cooks for a total of 10 hours on high. The result is a perfectly tender and tasty corned beef with steamed cabbage and flavorful potatoes!

Helpful tips: Because this recipe cooks for so long and we wanted to eat around 4 pm the corned beef had to be put in at 6 in the morning. To avoid having to assemble so early we actually put this together the night before and popped the slow-cooker pot into the refrigerator. Then at 6 am my alarm went off and it came out of the refrigerator and into the slow-cooker base on high. And back to bed I went.

p.s. – The corned beef shrinks down quite a bit but could easily feed 4-6 people.

I am a believer. This will be a recipe we make every year around this time.

Thank you Happy Money Saver for this delicious recipe!

Valentine’s Day Hershey Kiss Cookies

 Valentine’s Day… a time to make your loved ones cookies!

valentines day cookies

If you are wondering what to get your loved ones this Valentine’s Day consider baking them something that they will really enjoy. Skip the boxed chocolates and make a few different types of cookies in a really cute cookie tin. These Hershey Kiss Cookies would make a great addition to that gift. They are colorful, cute, and really tasty.

My favorite part of the Hershey Kiss Cookies are the colors. Pinks, reds, and whites on the brown cookie really pop. You look at it and your like that looks really yummy!

Baking these on Valentine’s Day with your kids or boyfriend might be a really cute way to spend part of the day on Saturday. They will love rolling the balls in the sprinkles and of course the way they taste. You also get to spend time with the people you love <3333 – That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about!
This recipe is from The Kitchen is my Playground.

Be Mine Valentine Hershey Kiss Cookies

What you need:

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of valentine’s day sprinkles (about 1 bottle)
  • 25-30 Hershey Kisses candies, unwrapped

What to do:
Makes about 20 cookies

  1. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 1-2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, vanilla, and mix until just incorporated. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients until combined.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap (it will be sticky and might not look like enough dough but it is) refrigerate one hour.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll dough into 1 inch balls using a cookie scoop  or spoon to help you if you have one (but only filling it half way). Roll the ball in the sprinkles completely covering it. Place on a baking tray with non-stick spray about 2 inches apart. Slightly push down the the center of each ball with your thumb. Chill cookies another 10-15 minutes before baking.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; bake for 12 minutes or until set. While baking make sure your hershey kisses are unwrapped
  6. Directly after removing cookies from oven gently put the hershey kisses on center of the cookies – no need to press down – Let the cookies cool for 5  minutes and move to cooling rack or plate to continue cooling.
    *Be careful when cookies are still hot the chocolate can slide around. It’s when they cool that they become stuck to the cookies!
    hershey kiss cookies

Enjoy!

 

Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Valentines Day is around the corner and what better way to show your loved one you care about them then a homemade dinner?
Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs
Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs

This is a great dish that is perfect for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day. The short ribs are restaurant worthy without the big price tag and crowded restaurants. Sometimes it’s nice to skip the restaurant and stay home and cook dinner with your loved one. Show them you care.

beef short ribsMore about these Short ribs, wow are they good! They braise for a long time and absorb big flavors from the wine and herbs. I served this with decadent mashed potatoes and green beans (not shown in the picture). The beef becomes super tender and just falls off the bone. This was a big hit in our house! The recipe is courtesy of Food Network.com from Ina Garten also known as the Barefoot Contessa. Every recipe I make of hers comes out amazing!

What You Need: 

  • 6-8 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat or about 2.5 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 small fennel, fronds, stems, and core removed, large-diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (2 onions)
  • 4 cups large-diced celery (6 large stalks)
  • 5 carrots, peeled and large-diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 6 cups beef stock

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place short ribs on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper – roast for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn down to 300 degrees.
2. While short ribs are roasting heat a dutch oven over medium heat with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Once hot add onion, fennel, carrots, and celery. Let cook for about 20 minutes – vegetables will become very soft. Add minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomato paste and bottle of wine. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the liquid reduces by half, about 10 minutes.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pot. Place the roasted short ribs on top of the liquid mixture in the dutch oven and add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and the 6 cups of beef broth. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
4. Cover and move to oven to bake for about 2 hours (mine took more like 2.5-3 hours) or until meat is very tender.
5. Remove from oven and put short ribs on a plate on the side. Takeout the herb stems and skim the fat off the top. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Put the short ribs back into the pot and serve over mashed potatoes and green beans.

red wine braised beef short ribEnjoy! Everyone will love these, they are a real treat.

*Note To make mashed potatoes seen here*

-Peel and cube about 4-6 white potatoes. Put in a large pot with salted cold water. Bring up to a boil for about 20-25 minutes or until tender. Strain in a colander. Put 4 tablespoons of butter in the potato pot and let it melt a little then put potatoes back into the pot with about 1 cup of 2% milk (Start with less). Add Salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mash with potato masher or use a hand mixer (do not over mix – they will become pasty). Serve with short ribs.

Soft Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

 

 

Happy New Years Eve! Time to sneak in one last cookie before the New Year! 😛

Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies a twist on Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

butterscotch pecan oatmeal cookie

I love cookies. However, after New Years we all tend to get a little stricter in what we eat while trying to reach out New Years goals. So here is an Oatmeal Cookie recipe for old times sake, my last post of 2014. Let 2015 bring everyone happiness and healthiness to you. Instead of focusing on a specific goal this year I will just try and live a happier life and not let other people change that.

I find that Oatmeal cookies are always delicious because they have good texture from the old fashioned oats. There are countless ways you can change up the cookie and this time I literally just looked at what I had leftover from other recipes and that was – pecans and butterscotch.

I have never had an oatmeal cookies with butterscotch or pecans but it was a treat. The butterscotch is sweet but not overly sweet, it’s just right. Sometimes oatmeal cookies can become dry and crumbly, I hate when that happens. Luckily this recipe was far from that. My favorite cookies have a soft inside yet are a little chewy. I found this recipe on an Averie Cooks a baking blog.

I tested out some Christmas presents ( a cookie scoop and silicon baking mats) with this recipe and it was heaven! All the cookies are finally uniform and cooked evenly because of this, no messy hands while trying to make balls. I suggest if you like to bake you definitely look into one of these on Amazon. The baking mats are also amazing! You don’t need cooking spray all you do is put the cookie on the mat and it comes out perfect, it just slides right off. Amazon sells it for a pretty reasonable price and has good reviews here.

Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies:

What you need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar ( a little less if you do not like it to sweet or omit it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients (oats, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt)  in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer. Mix the butter and sugars until incorporated beat in the egg and the vanilla. Cream until light and fluffy for about (3-5 minutes) I do not have a stand mixer so I did it by hand and it was fine.
  3. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until it they are combined ( do not over mix). Fold in the pecans and butterscotch chips. Using a cookie scoop or table spoon form cookies on either a greased baking sheet or silicon mat. This recipe should make about 20 cookies. Press the center of the cookie down a little to flatten them.
    butterscotch pecan oatmeal cookie
  4. Either refrigerate dough for an hour or if you are lazy like me put it right into the oven and it still comes out perfect! Cook for 10-11 minutes. Watch when the cookies start to brown on the outside and are barley set they are done. Do not over bake them!
    butterscotch pecan oatmeal cookie
  5. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes and move to a cookie rack and then into an air tight container to store until they are eaten!
  6. Try one of your cookies!

Cranberry Pecan Holiday Bars

Cranberry Pecan Bars…

cranberry pecan bars

Happy Holidays! 

Take time for yourself each day as the Holidays rapidly approach. De-Stress and Re-Energize with relaxing activities. Don’t let the holidays overwhelm you its meant to be a time with your family and friends.

Baking is an activity that relaxes me. It might not be the best thing for my body but baking has become a fun hobby for me. If you love to bake also just try and find recipes that use substitutes for unhealthy ingredients and remember everything in moderation. Give them away if you do not want to eat the whole batch! I have been wanting to make a holiday bar and received this recipe from a friend and I am very happy with the results!

These Cranberry Pecan Bars come from Jenny Craig Christmas recipes. I have not made many Jenny Craig recipes but I did enjoy this one. It is not too sweet and you get the citrus from the orange which is a nice break from sweet desserts. These cranberry pecan bars would make a nice last minute holiday gift. They literally take no time to make and the ingredients are basic, my favorite.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup of margarine, softened
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange peel
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
    *note you could use butter or margarine just substitute 1 stick of butter. You could use a mixer or by hand.

What to do: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl beat margarine with electric mixer for 30 seconds (or by hand).
  2. Add half of the flour and half of the orange juice, brown sugar, orange peel, egg, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the remaining flour and orange juice, mix well. Stir in the pecans and cranberries.
  4. Spread in a baking pan 11×7 or whatever you have available.

    cranberry pecan bars

  5. Bake for about 25 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  8. Cut into bars.
    cranberry pecan bars

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

sausage stuffed mushroomsSausage Stuffed Mushrooms are a delectable treat! These are not an everyday snack and truly make any evening extra special.

Can you believe for the longest time i didn’t even like mushrooms? To tell you the truth I still am not crazy about them. However, when mushrooms are done right they are absolutely delicious. Of course this recipe is one of those times! My sister loves mushrooms so I have learned to like them as well!

This recipe suggests that you use sweet sausage but after trying this a few times we used spicy sausage and decided we preferred them with a little spice. If you and your guests do not like spice then you can use sweet and they are still just as good! This recipe is from Barefoot Contessa on FoodNetwork. Thanks, Ina!

Christmas and Holiday parties are right around the corner so what will you serve to your guests as an appetizer? If you try these stuffed mushrooms you won’t have any left, trust me!

Spicy Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms:

What you need:

16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from the casings
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2/3 cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

  1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss when with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and Marsala. Set aside
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in medium skillet. Add the sausage and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Brown sausage for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chopped mushroom mixture and cook 3 more minutes.
  3. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the panic crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients.
  4. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Turn off the heat, and stir in the parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let cool slightly.
  5. Line a baking dish with foil and spray with non stick spray. Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Place the mushrooms next to each other in a single layer.
  6. Bake until the stuffing is browned and crusty, about 50 minutes.

sausage stuffed mushrooms

You can stuff the mushrooms a head of time and bake the next day! Enjoy!