‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

There’s something very satisfying about the peanut butter/chocolate combo, especially peanut butter and milk chocolate. Those two are part of classic combos that you easily think of, peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, cake and ice cream, just to name a few.

Also be sure check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes as well!:

Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

This week’s theme is Fancy Cookies! But nothing says fancy has to be hard. πŸ˜‰

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Peanut Butter Ball Fillings

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Butter Balls:
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of peanut butter (Note: You can use smooth or crunchy.)
1 cup of powdered sugar

Mix together a can of sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until thoroughly mixed.

Mix the powdered sugar in to the peanut butter mixture until incorporated a ball forms.

Take roughly a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it in to a ball. Place the ball on a lined baking sheet and repeat until you run out of filling.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Peanut Butter Balls

Next make your chocolate coating.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Chocolate Covering

What You’ll Need for the Chocolate Coating:
1 package of chocolate chips (Note: I usually use milk chocolate with peanut butter, but you can use dark or semi-sweet if you like instead.)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil

In a large glass bowl melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave on 10 seconds intervals, stirring between rounds, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Dip each peanut butter ball in chocolate until completely covered:

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Dipping in Chocolate

And place each ball back on the baking sheet:

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Dipped

Next make the peanut butter drizzle.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Peanut Butter Drizzle

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Butter Drizzle:
1/2 cup of peanut butter chips
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter

Melt the peanut butter chips with the coconut oil on the same 10 second intervals you used for the chocolate, stirring between, until melted. Once melted stir in the peanut butter until smooth.

Drizzle each covered peanut butter ball with the peanut butter drizzle and put them back on the sheet.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls: Done!

Notes: You can sprinkle with crushed peanuts if you want, instead of the peanut butter drizzle (honey roasted peanuts would be particularly nice) or you can dust them with cocoa.

The Best Sausage Balls You’ll Ever Eat

The Best Sausage Balls You'll Ever Make

If you’ve been around Dianne’s Dishes for a while, you know I’m all about making things myself, and not using mixes or pre-made things. That being said, some times, thinking out of the pre-made box is harder than others, this time however, that isn’t the case.

Most of the time when you come across a sausage ball recipe, it calls for baking mix. Some baking mixes aren’t bad, you actually turn the package around and it’s made with flour and things you recognize, however most of them contain chemicals and stuff I surely don’t want to eat, I don’t know about you.

This recipe uses flour, along with the ingredients you would have in your standard biscuit recipe, minus the milk and butter, to make a sausage ball that is simply fabulous. Most people have these things in their cupboards right now. So grab some sausage, cheese and cream cheese, head in to your pantry and grab some dry ingredients and let’s make some sausage balls!

What You’ll Need:
1 pound of sausage (Note: I prefer the hot variety. Look for a brand without MSG.)
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
4 cups of cheddar, shredded
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of a mixer, mix together sausage and cream cheese, until smooth.

Next add sugar, baking powder and salt and process until mixed in.

Now it’s time to add the cheese. With the mixer running, slowly add cheese, until incorporated in the sausage/cream cheese mixture.

After the cheese is thoroughly mixed in, slowly add in flour until a crumbly dough forms. Depending on humidity, and moisture content in your sausage and cheese, this could be really crumbly, or more doughy. It’s all good. Don’t sweat it if it isn’t exactly what you had pictured. You’re going to shape the balls with your hands, and it all comes together.

Once the dough is made you want to make “balls” roughly the size of a walnut and place them on a large baking sheet.They can be close, but make sure they aren’t touching. To make the ball roll a small about of dough between your palms until a ball forms. Remember when this is over to wash your hand thoroughly, you are dealing with raw pork here.

Once you have used all of your dough, place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

The Best Sausage Balls You'll Ever Make

Notes: Let’s talk cheese! You can do a mixture of cheese in these. I like to use cheddar or Colby, but you can also use Monterrey Jack for all or part of the cheese. A friend of mine likes to add in some pepper jack. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Cow Drop Cookies

This is the last week or our cookie roundup and I must say, I’ve had a lot of fun with this! This week I’m going with another chocolate/peanut butter combo, because you can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter! These are the perfect last minute cookie, and I have it on good authority that Santa really loves these! I’ll let you use your imagination and figure out why they’re called what they are. πŸ˜‰

Also be sure check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes as well!:

Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

This week’s theme was easy to make cookies and these are about as easy as you can get…just perfect for that last minute Christmas prep!

What You’ll Need:
1 stick of butter
2 cups of organic cane sugar
2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
2/3 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of peanut butter
2 cups of oats
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt butter with both sugars, cocoa and half and half in a medium sized pot and bring to a quick boil over medium heat. Boil for five minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until the peanut butter is completely melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla and then add oats, stirring until completely incorporated.

Drop by the rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Let set for an hour or two and serve. Store in an airtight container.

How simple and delicious is that?

Notes: You could use crunchy peanut butter if you liked. Sometimes I like to make these with brown sugar for part or all of the sugar. It gives them an extra oomph. Also I forgot one time to add the cocoa powder, and they were good that way too.

‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Gingerbread!

Gingerbread House

I’ve always loved making gingerbread houses. I’m not sure when I made my first gingerbread house, school perhaps? Or with my mom? But I remember making them, and loving the process. The first one I made was with graham crackers and a milk carton, if I recall. I even made gingerbread houses one Christmas for all my friends.

When Alexis was born I couldn’t wait until she was old enough to make them too, and once she was (we did our first gingerbread house when she was 3), we’ve made one every year since. We make a big production out of it…we make the cookies one day, along with hot chocolate, and then we assemble the houses the next. We make royal icing, get our candy together and construct away.

The secret to a good gingerbread house is a firm cookie, and these have a bit of a crunch to them. That also helps if you want to turn these cookies in to ornaments, because the firmness makes for a good ornament too. I’ll give you instructions on how to do that below as well.

Be sure and check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes for this week as well!:

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Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

The theme this week was formed and decorated!

Gingerbread House: The Pieces

What You’ll Need:
1 cup packed natural brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl cream brown sugar, butter and molasses until smooth. Add water and mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

Sprinkle some flour onto the surface you’re working on and roll dough out to between 1/4-1/8th of an inch thick:

Gingerbread House: Rolling the Dough

To make a gingerbread house cut out house shapes using a template, or gingerbread house cutters. To make ornaments, cut with the cookie cutters of your choice. If you are going to use the cookies for ornaments remember to make a hole for the string or ribbon to tie them onto your tree. You can do this by using a straw to make a hole at the top of each cookie.

Bake for 9-10 minutes and cool completely on the pan. Cooling overnight is best. You want them to get extremely firm, the firmer the better.

And if you’re like Alexis, then you’ll want a little bite of dough, or several bites of dough, or a lot of dough. It’s good dough. And it is eggless, if you’re worried about such things, which we aren’t, but there you go.

Gingerbread House: Dough!

And make sure you get plenty of flour all over yourself. On your face, on your apron, on the floor…I mean the bigger mess the better. Just ask Alexis! πŸ˜‰

After the cookies have cooled and sat overnight you want to make some royal icing if you’re making gingerbread houses (see below) or you can paint them if you’ve decided to make gingerbread ornaments.

Gingerbread House: Royal Icing

What You’ll Need:
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
8 cups of powdered sugar

Add all the ingredients to a large glass bowl and stir until mixed.

Beat on medium speed for 5-6 minutes until icing is thick and has a pearly sheen to it.

Use immediately to make your gingerbread house, or to decorate cookies.

Now you get to assemble your gingerbread house!

Take a piece of cardboard and cover it with aluminum foil. This will be your “yard” for your house. Next add a layer of royal icing for the “snow” on the yard, and this also serves as glue for the bottom of your house walls:

Gingerbread House: Snowy Yard

Now you want to put up your walls:

Gingerbread House: Putting it Together

I like to use a canned good, or a bottle to balance the walls on until the “glue” dries. Add a line of royal icing to each wall and balance them against each other. Once the icing dries you will do the same process to add the roof to the house.

While the walls are drying you can also start adding some of the decorations around the sides of the house:

Gingerbread House: Decorating

The roof can be tricky, because gravity, well she’s a bitch. You’ll need to hold the roof on while the icing dries. Be generous with the icing on the edges of roof peek, so that it has plenty to hold on to. This is when you can watch a Christmas movie, or something, while you’re sitting there holding the roof. If you’re really talented you can figure out a way to brace the ceiling with cans or bottles, but you have to have the perfectly situated can or bottle size and it’s easier said than done. Your best bet is holding it on and amusing yourself for a bit some other way.

Decorate with icing, candy, sprinkles or other embellishments if you’re going to cookie route. Whatever you like works. Just let out your inner cookie creator!

If you’re making ornaments paint them with craft or acrylic paints and let dry completely. Once the paint is dry you can “seal” the ornaments by painting or spraying on a coat of polyurethane if you want them to last for many years. If you want to make “Pissy” Gingerbread boys and girls, like the one pictured below, use a fluted cutter to cut a “bite” out of the side of their heads or even their foot if you want, because after all wouldn’t you be a little pissy too if someone took a bite out of you? ;o)

Pissy Gingerbread Man

See? Doesn’t he look pissy? I absolutely love these ornaments! To make a girl gingerbread person, paint a little bow on the other side of the head away from the “bite”.

I’ve made gingerbread houses for almost 30 years now. Wow. That’s a long time! Alexis gets a little impatient and doesn’t wait for her “glue” to dry so she ends up with a disaster house, more often than not. Being the laid back kid she is, she just goes with it. Last year she said her collapsed house was hit by a tornado. This year she explained it was caused by a tsunami. But hey, she kept decorating it anyway!

Gingerbread House: Decorating Her Disaster

I mean how disastrous does this look?

Gingerbread House: Catastrophee

Candy cane loss, Christmas tree chopped in half, Santa hanging out next to the rubble. The kid makes it fun, even if it’s not what you expect in a gingerbread house!

But what she really enjoys about the collapsed houses, other than having fun in general, is eating the parts!

Gingerbread House: If it Collapses, Eat it!

What’s not to like about a little nibble of gingerbread? Oh and royal icing. AND candy! πŸ˜‰

This was the first year my house collapsed too. I’ve made so many houses over the years, but this one just gave up. I think it had to do with the humidity in the air, as a friend of mine suggested. We had a very rainy day on Saturday, like ark worthy rain, and when I decorated the roof the weight of the icing and candy, just took out the house.

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I’d like to tell you I was as cool about my house collapsing as my 11 year old, but sadly not so much. As I’ve said I’ve never had one collapse I wasn’t impressed, so it took the wind out of my sails a bit, and it felt like a big defeat. But then again I nibbled on mine too, so that made it all better…well sort of! πŸ˜‰

Gingerbread disasters aside, a few years ago I made a Fangtasia gingerbread house:

Fangtasia Gingerbread House

I was a big fan of the Sookie Stackhouse books, and even though they didn’t end up the way I would have liked, this is still one of my favorite gingerbread houses I’ve ever made. I put a bite out of Bill’s head, like the pissy gingerbread men, as if Eric had gotten tired of his nonsense and finally taken a bite out of him to put him in his place. I made Sookie look Christmasy, and I did a cross between book Eric and SkarsgΓƒΒ₯rd Eric, by the pink spandex from the book, and the black muscle shirt from the show.

The point being, gingerbread can be anything you want it to be. Just have fun with it. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are about?

‘Tis the Season for Cookies: Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

I’ve been meaning to get back to the blogging thing for a while, and I’ve got plans for a redesign and change around for the the New Year, but when some online friends in a blogging group I’m in on Facebook started to talk about having a cookie post round up in December, I could resist and I signed up for ‘Tis the Season for Cookies right away!

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Week one’s theme is fruit and/or nuts and I knew these Pecan Pie Cookie Bars were just the thing! This is one of my all time favorite recipes that I got from a friend years ago. They’re just perfect for sharing during the holidays and make the perfect addition to a cookie tray or gift for someone on your list. They take the comfort of pecan pie and turn them in to an easily transported cookie bar that is a whole lot easier to take, not to mention a less messy alternative to share, than your traditional pecan pie.

Be sure and check out the Pinterest board for the group for more great cookie recipes from the other participants. We’ll be posting recipes each Monday for the next few weeks.

Also check out the other participants of ‘Tis the Season for Cookies to see their fabulous cookie recipes as well!:

Diana Cannone at To Di for Bakery.
Judy Chiappini at No Fear Entertaining.
Mandee Racer Pogue at The Kitchen Wife.
Marye Audet-White at Restless Chipotle.
Renee Joslyn at Flamingo Musings.
Sandy Smith at Eat Real.
And Sherri Jo at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl Jo.

Happy Holidays!

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

What You’ll Need for the Shortbread Layer:
1 1/2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 sticks of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a bowl stir together flour, sugar and salt until combined. Next add butter and stir until dough forms.

Mash flour mixture in to the prepared dish, spreading it out to cover the entire bottom of the pan.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

While the crust is baking, make the pecan filling. (See Below).

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars

What You’ll Need for the Pecan Filling Layer:
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of light corn syrup
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of pecans, chopped

In a large glass bowl melt butter in the microwave.

Once butter is melted add sugar, corn syrup, eggs and vanilla extract and stir until well mixed.

Next add the chopped nuts. (An easy way to “chop” the nuts? Put them in a ziplock bag and beat the snot out of them with a rolling pin. Not only do you get “chopped” nuts, you have the added benefit of getting out some of your frustrations at the same time. What’s not to like about that?) Stir nuts until thoroughly incorporated with the sugar/corn syrup mix.

Pour filling on to the baked shortbread crust and spread out to the edges. Return to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Let cool completely before cutting in to squares.

Notes: You can stir a package of chocolate chips into the filling if you like. You also do a mix of nuts instead of all pecans, or how about adding in some seeds of some sort like pumpkin of sunflower, for part of the nuts.

Cocktail Time: Red Hot Apple Pumpkin Martinis

Red Hot Apple Pumpkin Martinis

When I was a child growing up in Tennessee, my mom’s family always came down from her hometown which was about 3 hours from where we lived, each Thanksgiving for lunch. My mom made a fabulous spread with turkey and dressing and corn casserole and yeast muffins and deviled eggs and sweet potatoes and all sort of other yummy surprises. Her spread was large, fabulous and wonderful and it really took it out of her to prepare such a feast.

As I’ve gotten older, most of the years since Jamison and I married, we’ve had Thanksgiving here in Maryland and I’ve done the traditional Thanksgiving feast. This year? Not happening! I need a break! I briefly thought about taking a break last year and didn’t, but this year I was determined to make Thanksgiving easy on myself so I made reservations instead! My plan for Thanksgiving is to wake up, eat breakfast, then we’ll go with Jamison’s family to eat lunch, come home and relax and maybe have a cocktail or two along the way! That sounds like my kind of holiday!

This martini takes your classic fall flavors of pumpkin, apple and cinnamon and throws them together in a fabulous martini that will quickly become a fall favorite. The cinnamon gives it a bit of a hot kick and it just comes together perfectly! If you like the tastes of harvest, this is the martini for you!

Red Hot Apple Pumpkin Martinis

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of Apple juice or apple cider
1/3 cup of Atomic Hots Cinnamon Vodka or cinnamon schnapps
1/2 cup of Pumpkin Pie Vodka
1/4 cup of heavy cream or half and half
2 tablespoons of cinnamon syrup
Ice
Cinnamon sugar

Add all ingredients except the cinnamon sugar to a martini shaker and gently shake.

Rim the martini glasses with cinnamon sugar and pour mixed martini into prepared glass and dust the top of the drink with more cinnamon sugar if desired.

Red Hot Apple Pumpkin Martinis

Drink and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Notes: As always don’t drink and drive!

Easter Fun: Chocolate Covered Peeps

Chocolate Covered Peeps

It’s that time of year again, I’m not sure how we’re back here but we are, it’s Easter! Today I’m sharing a couple of fun little things to do, that aren’t complicated, and the kids will love. So break out the Peeps and get ready to color some eggs. It’s time to have some fun!

Oh and don’t forget to check out a few links at the bottom for egg salad and deviled eggs so you’ll have something to do with those eggs after you’re done dying them.

Let’s get our Easter on!

What You’ll Need for the Chocolate Covered Peeps:
Peeps (Note: Preferably bunnies)
Bamboo skewers
1 package of chocolate chips (Note: I used semi-sweet, but you could use dark or milk chocolate instead.)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
Sprinkles

Place chocolate chips and coconut oil in a glass bowl. Microwave for one minute and then stir. Next microwave on 20 second intervals, stirring between each round, until chocolate is melted and completely smooth.

Place a Peep on a bamboo skewer. You want to push the skewer all the way up in to the bunny to its ears. When you put chocolate on the Peep it’s going to get heavy and if you don’t push the skewer all the way in it will fall off in to your chocolate with the weight.

Chocolate Covered Peeps: Bunny!

Dip the Peep in Chocolate and use a spoon to cover the bunny completely with chocolate:

Chocolate Covered Peeps: Dipped in Chocolate

Hold chocolate covered Peep over a plate and sprinkle with your choice of sprinkles.

Carefully lay the chocolate/sprinkled Peep on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking mat, or wax paper and let chocolate harden.

Then eat!

Notes: These are good as is, or you can dip them into hot chocolate. Yum!

Kool-Aid Dyed Easter Eggs

What You’ll Need for the Kool-Aid Dyed Eggs:
White eggs, boiled and cooled
Kool-aid packets (Note: We use Tropical Punch, Pink Lemonade, Grape, Orange, Lemon Lime and Lemonade. They all worked except for the Lemonade. There isn’t enough color in the mix to work.)
1/2 cup of water for each packet of Kool-Aide
Narrow glasses (Note: You want them to be narrow enough so that the liquid will cover an egg entirely, but not too narrow or the egg won’t fit.)

First you want to boil your eggs. You’ve probably boiled eggs before, but I’m going to tell you right now how to boil the perfect egg.

Gently place eggs in a pot and cover with water until there is 2 inches of water above the top of the pile of eggs. Add in two tablespoons of sea salt, cover the pot and bring eggs to a boil. As soon as the pot begins a rapid boil turn off the heat and let the pot sit for ten minutes covered.

At the end of 10 minutes gently drain the pot and cover the eggs with cool/cold water. Let eggs sit for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove eggs from the cool water and let them cool completely to room temperature. At least an hour. (Note: This is only for coloring eggs. If you’re using the eggs to cook with once they’ve had the cool water bath they’re ready to go, or you can store them in the fridge for up to a week.)

When you’re ready to dye your Easter eggs here’s what you do…

Add Kool-Aid Powders to separate glasses (see note above about glasses) and then pour 1/2 cup of water in each glass. Stir to mix.

Using a spoon gently lower eggs down in the glass. Make sure to let the spoon rest under the egg so it won’t get stuck in the glass. Let the eggs sit for a few minutes, or as long as you like, until the egg reaches the desired color.

Place eggs in a carton to dry. The eggs with darken in color as they dry.

Repeat the process until all the eggs are dyed.

Store in the fridge after dying. The eggs can still be used for deviled eggs or egg salad if you don’t use them to hunt.

Notes: The Kool-Aid has citric acid in it so that is why you don’t need to add that or vinegar in to the glasses.

Sweets for Your Sweet: Salted Chocolate Truffles

Salted Nutella Truffles

I love truffles, and not the kind Italian pigs dig up, which I am sure are lovely too, but I’m talking chocolate truffles. I love truffles almost as much as I love cheesecake, and you all know how much I like that! It has its own category on Dianne’s Dishes! It’s a deep love, an abiding love, an all encompassing obsession. In short I love me some truffles!

I also love Nutella. It’s a recent love, but it’s a strong love. Chocolate and hazelnuts? What’s not to like?? I also love sea salt. Do you see a pattern forming here? Truffle? Check! Nutella? Check! Sea salt? Check! This is the collision of the perfect truffle/Nutella/sea salt storm!

Truffles are really easy to make. You’ve got a creamy center, dipped in chocolate, and then for added pizazz sometimes you even drizzle/sprinkle something on top of that. Truffles are big on wow factor, yet simple to create. They are perfect for a little gift, such as for Valentine’s Day, for that person in your life who is a chocolate lover like me. I know you have one of those, don’t we all?

One word for you….

Truffles!

Say it with chocolate. You’ll be glad you did! Heck, they’ll be glad you did too! ;oP

What You’ll Need:
1 – 13 ounce jar of Nutella
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 package of semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Coarse see salt (Note: I prefer either fleur de sel or Celtic sea salt for this. This go round I used the Celtic variety.)

In a large bowl stir together Nutella, sea salt and sweetened condensed milk, until thoroughly mixed. Next add the powdered sugar and stir until “dough” forms.

Scoop out “dough” with a tablespoon and roll it between your hands to form a ball. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready for the Freezer

The balls will flatten out a bit due to the heat of your hands, but don’t worry. You’ll be freezing them for a bit and this will sort itself out.

Freeze Nutella balls for 30 minutes.

Ten minutes before you remove the Nutella balls from the freezer, place semi sweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of coconut oil in a microwavable glass bowl and microwave on 20 second intervals, stirring between each one, until chips are melted.

Remove Nutella balls from the freezer and rolls them between your hands to make them more round:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Making Nutella Balls

They’re firm enough now to keep their shape:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready to be Dipped

Dip each ball in the melted chocolate:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Drizzling

It’s easiest to do this with a fork. Unlike Alexis however I wouldn’t taste the chocolate as you go. You’ll run out! ;oP

Place them on another sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready for Drizzle and Sea Salt

Melt 1 cup of 60% cacao chips with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil using the same method as above. Drizzle over the top of each truffle and sprinkle with coarse fleur de sel or Celtic sea salt:

Salted Nutella Truffles

Let harden and then enjoy!

Notes: You can use any type of chocolate you want with this. Milk chocolate would work, as would a white chocolate drizzle. It’s all up to you. If you want them to set faster you can stick them in the fridge.

Triple Bread Stuffing

Triple Bread Stuffing

One of the main reasons the holidays are my favorite time of the year is stuffing! Stuffing (or dressing, depending on what you want to call it) is often neglected during other times of the year and it really is a fabulous side dish no matter what the season.

There are many different ways to make stuffing. My mom makes a really fabulous corn bread stuffing that brings back memories of my childhood. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to like one made with various types of bread instead. Some people add oysters, some people add fruit…In short there is no wrong or right way to make stuffing. What matters is whether YOU like it or not!

To me stuffing needs some basic ingredients and you can’t forget the sage! Lots of sage is key! This stuffing is a very simple, yet fabulous side dish that is perfect for any meal. Stuffing…It’s not just for the holidays anymore!

What You’ll Need:
1/2 loaf of French bread, cut into cubes
1/2 loaf of Callah bread, cut into cubes
12 buttermilk biscuits, cut into cubes (Note: I make these. See below.)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
6 stalks of celery, chopped
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 large carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons of crushed dry sage
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 quart of chicken broth, at room temperature (Note: I make my own, but store bought is fine.)
2 eggs

I usually buy the Callah and French bread, but I make the biscuits. They’re simple. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of baking power and 1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar until completely incorporated. Using a pastry blender or a fork cut in 1 stick of softened butter until mixture is pebbly. Add 1+ cups of buttermilk to this mixture and stir to make your biscuit dough. Sometimes you need more buttermilk, sometimes less. It all has to do with humidity and such. You want a dough that you can handle without sticking to your hands. Roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into biscuits. Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Simple and delicious! If you don’t want to make the biscuits you and purchase them at the store. Most freezer sections have frozen buttermilk biscuits these days.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Cut all three breads into bite sized cubes. Toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and bake for 4-6 minutes until golden brown and crouton like.

Remove bread from the oven and let the cubes cool to room temperature.

When you’re ready to make the stuffing preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large stock pot saute onion and celery in a little extra virgin olive oil with the sea salt and pepper until just tender. Add the carrots and cook for an additional 1 minute and then remove from heat.

Once the vegetable mixture is off of the heat add the chicken broth, sage and thyme and stir to mix. Slowly add egg and stir until incorporated.

Place cooled bread cubes in a very large bowl and pour the liquid mixture over them and toss to coat.

Pour coated mixture into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Serve immediately or you can let it cool and freeze for use later.

Notes: You could add mushrooms in to this for an added treat. You could also use other kinds of bread. It’s a mix and match sort of dish.

Party Punch

Party Punch

It appears it’s becoming drink central around here with the last two beverage entries!

Alexis turned 8 a few weeks ago. I don’t know how it’s possible that she’s already 8! It seems like it was only yesterday that I held that little glow worm all wrapped up in the hospital. Other days? Well others it feels like decades, but luckily those days are few and far between! ;oP

This year Alexis wanted a Harry Potter party. I thought about being all Super Mom and making her a Hogwarts cake, which is what she kind of wanted, but decided in the end to order a cake and save my sanity. Maybe I’ll make her cake next year…..

Anyway….

Usually for her birthday I make some variation of Banana Punch, but I wanted something different. I asked on Twitter and FaceBook if anyone had a good fruit punch recipe that didn’t require gingerale or Sprite. If you’ve read for a while, you know my opinion on HFCS so I won’t go there again, but I was determined to get around that little problem.

I got several interesting recipes sent to me, but I knew that they weren’t Lex’s cup of tea. So I went out on my own as I often do and took clearer type juices that were 100% juice and an organic lemonade that was made with sugar. I used the Pomegranate for “color” and I ended up with a really fabulous punch that everyone seemed to enjoy. I’ll definitely be making this again!

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of organic cane sugar
4 cups of water
64 ounces of white grape juice
2 – 46 ounce bottle of pineapple juice
64 ounces of lemonade
32 ounces of pomegranate juice
Juice of 6 lemons
Juice of 4 limes
Club soda

First you want to make a simple syrup. Dissolve sugar in water over a medium heat until the sugar is melted. Remove from heat and let cool.

Next you’re going to need a big, big and did I mention BIG, bowl! Or you can divide it between two large bowls. That’s what I did, putting half of all the ingredients in one bowl and the other half in another bowl.

Mix together simple syrup, juices, lemonade and lemon and lime juice in a big bowl or half and half in to separate bowls as mentioned above. Stir to mix. Place in freezer safe containers that are the size that will fit into a punch bowl and freeze until solid.

Right before serving take one of the frozen containers and empty it out in to your punch bowl. Cover with club soda and stir to mix. The frozen juice combo will start melting and you end up with a really fabulous punch!

Add more frozen mix and club soda as needed.

Party Punch

Notes: You could use different types of juices if you wanted, but as I said above you want juices that are relatively pale, with the pomegranate for “color”. Red grape juice could be used instead of the pomegranate for a darker punch. Next time I want to try a pineapple/coconut combo instead of plain pineapple juice. For an adult kick add some rum or vodka.

http://www.diannesdishes.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-t.cgi/218