Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pretzel and M&M Holiday Treats

I just discovered these last year (thank you Pinterest!) and now I'm seriously asking, where have they been all my life??  They are so easy, so tasty and so much fun to make with your kiddos!  They will love helping you, from unwrapping the Kisses, to placing them on the pretzels - they can really help at every step!  

My 2 year old (soon to be 3!  Her birthday is Christmas Eve!) was so excited and happy to help me.  

Lots of yummy looking pictures follow...

You could really make these all year round.  Especially with the regular M&M's...during the Holidays, red and green would be fun, but I didn't think of that before I made these! 

I keep mine in the fridge and you can put out for a Holiday party in a cute festive bowl or plate.  They will be gone in a flash so make a ton!!   

Pretzel and M&M Holiday Treats

Round or mini twists pretzels
Hershey kisses

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Pour the pretzels onto a 11x18 baking sheet (completely cover it!) and start unwrapping the Kisses.  I used a medium size bag, but you will probably need the large bag if you are making for a crowd.  Place one Kiss on each pretzel and place pan in the oven.  Let the chocolate melt for about 4-5 minutes, just until you can push down on the top and it goes all the way down.  Pull the pan out of the oven and top each Kiss with an M&M.  Let harden a little, then store in fridge for a couple of days.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I always seem to have a few bananas in the freezer for just an occasion when I am craving banana bread.  FYI - that is such a great way to use bananas that are about to go bad...just throw them in the freezer and use them later!  They will turn black, but they are perfectly good to use months later.  This is actually the exact recipe I use for my banana bread, but obviously done in a muffin tin, rather than a loaf pan.  I love the chocolate and banana combination but you can substitute for nuts, or do both, or leave both out!  Completely up to you!  

The milk and vinegar mixture is actually a substitute for buttermilk.  Just let them sit together for about 5 minutes.  Or if you have buttermilk, add that in when I call for the milk/vinegar mixture. 

 Perfectly plump muffins! 

Loving taking pictures with my new camera!!  

Makes 12 muffins
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/3 cup milk
1/3 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (or spray with non-stick cooking spray).  Combine the milk and vinegar and set aside.  Using an electric mixer, combine the oil and sugar. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and add to sugar mixture. Add bananas and milk/vinegar mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Use an ice cream scoop to fill paper liners about 2/3 of the way full and bake for 25-30 minutes.  

(Source:  Adapted from Paula Deen)

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tomato Avocado and Mozzarella Panini

Tomato and Mozzarella sandwiches are one of my absolute favorites and we eat them often in our house.  But adding avocado and turning it into a panini definitely took our staple sandwich way up a notch.  Absolutely amazing!   

Quite frankly, eating it like this, without toasting the bread is fabulous as well.  I used Campari tomatoes (the smaller ones) and fresh slices of mozzarella.  

Gooey mozzarella and creamy avocado...are you drooling yet??

Makes 2 sandwiches

Tomato Avocado and Mozzarella Panini

2 fresh ciabatta rolls 
2 Roma or Campari tomatoes, sliced
6 slices of fresh Mozzarella
1 avocado, sliced
Mayonnaise (optional)
Balsamic vinegar
Italian Seasoning
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

After everything is sliced, spread the mayonnaise on open sides of the ciabatta rolls.  Preheat your panini maker or skillet.  Layer 3 slices of mozzarella, 2-4 slices of tomatoes (depending on which you use), and a couple of slices of avocado on each roll.  Add a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar over the layers, followed by a dash of Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.

Place sandwich on panini maker and close the lid.  Allow the bread to toast and the mozzarella to melt a little, about 7-10 minutes.  You can also use a skillet with a panini press.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Oven Toasted "Fried" Ravioli

I love this meal...it's simple, tasty and the whole family loves it.  Almost like eating fried cheese, but better!  I use a three cheese ravioli (and I always have these in the freezer - I get the huge bag at Sam's and it lasts forever) which has ricotta, Romano and Parmesan cheese.  And, these are toasted, not fried, which is healthier and less mess for you!

This serves 2, but can be easily doubled to feed your whole family.  They will love it! 

Serves 2

Oven Toasted Ravioli 

12 large frozen ravioli, thawed
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
cooking spray
Marinara sauce for dipping 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together.  In another shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan.  Dip each ravioli in the egg mixture, then the bread crumb mixture, then place on a baking sheet.  Spray the ravioli with cooking spray.  Bake until golden brown 10-12 minutes.  Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I finally got a real camera!  No more using my Iphone to take pictures for my blog!  I feel so professional.  I have been pining over the Nikon 3200 and my wonderfully awesome husband surprised me with it for our anniversary.  Well, anniversary/Christmas/birthday and probably next year's anniversary gift...

OMG, there is so much to learn.  I'm sure I will look back on these pictures and laugh at some point, but to me, right now, I am super stoked at how they look.  Yay!  Now onto the brownies...

This recipe is a super simple way to jazz up brownies from a box.  I love box brownies - no fail, super moist and fudgy every time.  And easy!  

The brownies are prepared according the package directions, then a mixture of butter, peanut butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla are swirled throughout the batter.  I used Martha Stewart's recipe for the peanut butter filling, so you know it's going to be good.    

 Makes 16 brownies

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies 

1 box of brownie mix and everything you need to make the brownies - eggs, oil, water (I used Duncan Hines Double Fudge, but use your favorite)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare brownies according to package directions.  Pour batter into greased 9x9 square baking pan.  

Make the peanut butter filling:  combine butter, peanut butter, salt and vanilla extract and stir until smooth.  Drop dollops of filling (about a tablespoon each) onto the batter, about an inch apart.  Using a butter knife, gently swirl the peanut butter filling through the brownie batter.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs.  

(Source:  filling adapted from Martha Stewart's Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies)

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving!  As you can see from how long ago my last post was, I was busy busy. My in-laws were visiting from Pennsylvania, staying in downtown Savannah in the cutest house on Greene Square.  We got to live like we lived downtown for a week, which was nice...walking to dinner, breakfast, strolling around.  It was great.  

As for Thanksgiving dinner, I had all these grand ideas about posting all sorts of recipes from the dinner and dessert, but it just didn't happen.  We did most of the cooking on Thanksgiving morning and I couldn't get all the pretty pictures before everything was consumed!  I managed to sneak in a couple here and there and thought I would share my pictures of not just the food, but of our Thanksgiving holiday.  Enjoy!

This was the first day that Nonni and Poppi were here.  We were walking to lunch at Moon River Brewing Company...Jules wearing her Princess Halloween costume.  She's a trip.

 This is Jules and her Aunt Nikki, or Tetta as we call her.  Long story short, there was an Aunt Tetta in my husband's family, or Tetta is Russian for Aunt (not that he's Russian, so maybe that's wrong, too?)?  I forget, but that's what we call her! 

Me and Baxter, one of my three fluffs.  Relaxing...

Jules and Poppi making an advent calendar that is a tradition in my husband's family.  The princesses helped, of course.  

Jules after her Preschool Thanksgiving program.  The sweetest little Indian!  

This recipe you will surely see posted on this blog, probably sometime soon.  This is a tradition in my family on Holidays...Tollhouse pie.  Sorry I don't have a picture of the inside, but it is a scrumptious chocolate chip pie and so easy to make.  Stay tuned for that one.  

Getting set up for dinner.  I love the little decorations that Jules brings home from Preschool.  So homey...

This is our attempt at getting a Thanksgiving family picture.  Believe me....this is a good as it gets.  It's next to impossible to get everyone to sit still.  

Me and Miss Bean...so very thankful.  She is my world!! 

Jules helping Nonni tear apart the bread for the stuffing.  This has been her "job" since last year when she helped my dad, Nonno do it.  

I love using lemons when I roast a chicken or turkey.  These came from my lemon tree!!  Cool, right??

And this delicious looking turkey is adapted from Ina Garten's Herb Roasted Turkey Breast.  OMG, really.  So unbelievably good.

Max was so sleepy at dinner, he fell asleep right at the table.  We all took naps afterwards, I mean, pretty much that's just what you do...

 And, what a perfect way to end such a lovely day.  Glass of Riesling and a fire...

How was your Thanksgiving?  Any recipes you need to tell me about?  

Come follow me on Instagram, too.  I'm addicted!  @bsgriffin
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Turkey and Two Bean Chili

Chili is one of the best comfort foods around.  Although it's great in winter, to me, chili reminds me so much of fall and football season.  This is a great recipe to make when you have a group coming over...it easily doubles or triples, so make as much as you need to feed your hungry crowd. 

Chili is so versatile too - you can even do all vegetarian and just use beans, no meat.  This is one of those recipes where you can truly make it your own by adapting to the flavors you like.

The result is a spicy, but not too spicy, super hearty chili.  And it really takes no time at all!  It just needs to simmer for about 10 minutes after all the ingredients are combined and you're ready to eat.  And by the way, it's fantastic the next day...just hope you have leftovers.

 Serves 4

Turkey and Two Bean Chili

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of ground turkey
1 tablespoon McCormick's Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic 
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 bottle beer (not light beer)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock

Heat a deep pot over high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the meat.  Season the turkey with the grill seasoning and sear it, browning and crumbling it for 3-5 minutes.  Transfer the meat to a plate and return the pot to the stove.  

Reduce the heat to medium-high and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add onions, green peppers and garlic and saute until tender, a few minutes.  Return the meat to the pot and season with the Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and cumin.  Add the beer to deglaze the pot and let simmer to reduce by half, 2-4 minutes.  Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes and chicken stock to the chili and simmer for at least 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine.  The longer it simmers, the thicker it will get.  

Serve topped with shredded cheese, corn chips, sour cream, chopped onions, etc.

(Source:  Adapted from Rachael Ray's Uptown Down-Home Chili)

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Magic Bars

Here's another one of those cookies that there are plenty of versions of...you might call them Layer Bars or 7 Layer Bars.  We've always called them Magic Bars and I usually only break this recipe out around Christmas time.  Yesterday, I guess I was just feeling a little festive!  Plus I had all the ingredients (minus the nuts which I usually omit anyway) and we needed a cookie in the house.  We always need some sort of sweet something in the house!  

I used a mix of baking chunks and regular semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I had them both in the cupboard, but you can use any size, any variety you like.

Right out of the oven...

I love how the sweetened condensed milk gives the edges sort of a caramel color and texture.

Magic Bars

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 9x13 pan, melt the margarine in the oven.  Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the melted margarine, then pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over entire pan.  Top with remaining ingredients and press down firmly.  Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and chill and cut into bars.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Chocolate Chip Blondies

I'm not sure if these are so much "blondies" as they are just plain and simple chocolate chip cookies in bar form.  But, regardless of what you or I may call them, one thing is certain - these are gooey and addicting, buttery, chocolaty and so good.  I pull mine out of the oven when the top starts to turn golden brown, whether they are completely done in the middle or not.  A little underdone gives them that chewy, moist center that I love.  

Chocolate Chip Blondies

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each one.  Add vanilla and mix to combine.  

In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.  Gradually beat in  flour mixture until combined. Remove bowl from stand mixer and add chocolate chips.  Stir by hand to combine. 

Pour batter onto a 9x13 baking pan and smooth so it's even across the pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.

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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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