Friday, December 25, 2009

Pretzels for Jeff

There are these certain pretzels that are pretty much fabulash. They come from my Grandma Dreese, and people have been known to gobble them up as soon as they are put out. Well, A friend from our church is absolutely obsessed with them. I finally gave him the recipe for Christmas! So, I feel as if it is only right if I share the recipe with all of you!

Grandma's Seasoned Pretzels
Items Needed:
One bag of broken pretzels (Wege works very well)
One cup of canola oil
One packet of ranch seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons dill
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon lemon pepper
1. Combine all ingredients and pour into large jelly roll pan. Bake at 325* for 20-25 minutes.
2. Remove from oven, place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Store in airtight container.

A Collection of Christmas Eve Recipes

As was previously established....we have Christmas Eve Dinner every single Christmas. Only, this year I was in charge. Yes, I love being in charge! So I created this yummy fabulous menu, and attempted to cook my first large chunk of meat ever. This is big for me, really big. So I'll share my menu.
  • Cranberry, candied walnut, feta, sliced apple, and greens salad (with homeade raspberry vinagrette)
  • Homeade Asiago Beer Bread (I'd share the recipe, but it kind of tasted like nothing, I'm not going to waste your time)
  • Baked Pineapple Stuffing
  • Mom's Red Beets (she insisted upon them!)
  • Phyllo and Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus Spears
  • Coconut Pecan Glazed Sweet Potatoes
  • Bourbon Dijon Glazed Ham
  • Berry Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
Homeade Maple Raspberry Vinaigrette
Items Needed:
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Whisk all items together until slightly thickened, store in an airtight container.
Berry Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
Items Needed:
  • One refrigerated Pie crust
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (8 ounce) container of thawed Cool Whip
  • One (21 ounce can) light Cherry Pie Filling
  • 3 cups quartered strawberries
  • One cup blackberries


1. Bake Pie crust as directed on the box. ( 9-11 minutes at 450*) Cool Completely.

2. Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until combined. Fold in cool whip.

3. Place mixture into pie crust and smooth.

4. In small bowl, combine cherry pie filling, strawberries, and blackberries. Place on top of the cool whip mixture. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the other recipes. I was so busy and excited about the food that I completely forgot! It was terrible! However, I feel as if you should have these recipes, they are sooo yummy, you don't even need a picture.
Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus Spears
Items Needed:
12 frozen asparagus spears
1/2 package of phyllo dough sheets
6 slices of proscuitto
Herbed Cheese Spread (I used a cheese ball)
1. Thaw the asparagus in the microwave oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 425*, and grease cookie sheet.
3. Keeping the phyllo dough damp with a cloth, take one sheet out of the package at a time and cut in two.
4. Take 1/2 a piece of proscuitto a spread the cheese spread onto it. Place proscuitto on phyllo dough. Place asparagus spear, with the head popping out, on the proscuitto. Roll.
5. Repeat with other 11. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.
Bourbon Dijon Glazed Ham
  • One fully cooked spiral cut bone in ham (9-10 lbs.)
  • 1-2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup bourbon

1. Preheat oven to 325*, Place the ham (fat side up) on a rack in a large roasting pan.

2. Score the ham in a diamond shaped pattern, and insert cloves into the openings, insert meat thermometer into thickest part of the ham, bake for one hour.

3. Combine ingredients for glaze. Brush hald the mixture onto the ham, bake for 30 minutes longer.

4. Brush the rest of the glaze onto the ham, bake covered for 40 mintutes longer, until thermometer reads 140* (If pan drippings begin to burn, then add 1/4 cup of water)

5. Remove from oven, tent with aluminum foil for 15 minutes before cutting.

Coconut Pecan Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Items Needed
4 lbs. Sweet potatoes (Peeled and cut into chunks)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light melted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
mini marshmallows
1. Place peeled and chunked sweet potatoes in a cooking spray coated crock pot.
2. Mix together the rest of the ingredients exept the mini marshmallows. Sprinkle over the potatoes.
3. Cook on high heat for 3 hours. Place into baking dish and add marshmallows on top. At 350* bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until marshmallows are golden brown.
Hope you have enjoyed all these yummy delights from my kitchen!

Christmas Party Surprise

So....I decided to make this cute little cupcake/cake arrangement for my High School. Due to the fact that I'm now a college girl and my old school has not recieved any of my baked goodness for along time. I thought that it was due. But, i needed to think of something festive and colorful! So this is what i stumbled upon! First, I started off by cutting out some green fondant trees. I figured that would develop some inspiration in me?
Then, I made mini red velvet cupcakes and a mini cake. (Yes, cake mix, guilty. However, cake mix is fabulous....this is previously established. If you beat it for the 2 2-1/2 minutes it called for....oh cake ever...I'm telling you....go now!)

Then I covered the mini cake with fondant, and green trees. PS the icing is Magnolia. Would I use any other buttercream? Well, no....never actually.

Chocolate Covered Fantasy

Chips, marshmallow, and peanut butter filled ritz are shown in this picture.
The wonderful thing about chocolate is that it tastes good on pretty much everything. Yes, there are a few exeptions to the rule...but you catch my drift.
Here are some other fun things to chocolate cover:
animal crackers
cereal clusters
peanut clusters
rice krispie treats
1/2 dip cookies
ritz bitz
mini oreos
teddy grahams
graham crackers
vanilla wafers
peanut butter globs
Use your imagination!

Gingerbread, Truffles, and Gobs Oh My!

No, My Christmas baking was NOT complete. I needed more! MORE! So, I did. And they are so cute, if I do say so myself. I have a teeny tiny feetish with midget gingerbread men!

So, not to dissappoint, but I didn't make these frome scratch. But, taking the gingerbread cookie dough and adding a bit of flour to it, and cutting out little midget men is practically like I homemade them. So, I my mind.

PS Pillsbury gingerbread cookie dough is the best!! Above, I gave these cute little midget's pants and some mini mini gingerbread sprinkles. (My mother adivsed me that they look like mini gingerbread feces...thanks you too.)

Gingerbread Sandwich cookies. Easy as cutting out gingerbread cookies, adding my whoopie pie filling, and sandwiching together!

Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles. One word....YUM! They are so sooo good. They are soo easy too, and you can make so many different variations.

Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles

Items Needed:

One pack of peanut butter stuffed oreos

One 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese

Melting chocolate


1. Crush whole package of peanut butter oreos.

2. Stir in softened cream cheese.

3. Roll into small balls, and refrigerate until hardened.

4. Coat in chocolate, and enjoy!

Makes approximately 30 minutes.

Mint Oreo Truffles! (A variation! I love variations!!)

Make just as the peanut butter truffles are made, only substitue mint oreos for the peanut butter.

You can also make strawberry milkshake oreo truffles, regular oreo truffles, and golden oreo truffles.

The whole little plate of truffle delight!

These are my "I had alot of extra stuff left and I needed to use it" gobs. Actually, they are quite scrumptious.
Christmas Gobs
Items Needed:
Randomn Amounts of the following:
Melted White Chocolate, Cherrios, Peanut Butter M&M's, and chips
1. Combine and pat into buttered pan. Let set, cut when set! YUM!!

Epic Coconut Marshmallow Fail

Yes, and epic fail. Well, sort of. I realized the other day that I had never tackled the marshmallow project, homeade marshmallows that is. So, I found a marshmallow recipe..and went to work.

As you can see I made one mistake in this picture. Yes, that is a meat thermometer and no, I do not own a candy thermometer as it suggested to use. it didn't bother me to bad. Another issue was the fact that I needed the sugary substance to come to 240 degrees...which as you can see...wasn't even listed on the thermometer.
Then, I beated it. For about 20 minutes. My poor kitchen-aid got so hot that I thought it was going to explode. It didn't though..that made me happy. After I was done mixing I poured it into a pan, but it didn't move. It hardened half way between taking it out of the mixer and pouring it into the pan, partly the reason I don't have a picture of the finished product. I will say, the taste wasn't bad...but i also forgot to butter the aluminum before putting the marshmallow on it. So...yeah....not so good. my guest and try to make this sticky, icky, homeade substance yourself!
Homeade Coconut Marshmallows
Items Needed:
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 3 envelops unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract


1. Line a 9*13 pan with aluminum foil, cover with butter

2. In a large metal bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of water, set aside.

3. In large saucepan on stove, combine water, sugar, light corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook without stirring until temperature reads 240* or soft ball stage.

4. Remove from heat, and add gradually to the gelatin mixture. Beat on high speed approximately 15 minutes (should be doubled in size.)

5. Beat in vanilla, pour into prepared pan. Let set for 6 hours to overnight.

6. Cut with knife coated in cooking spray. Roll in powdered sugar, coconut, sprinkles, or coat in chocolate.

Have fun!

Sugar Cookie Favors

So...we do Christmas Eve Dinner for friends and family who don't have relatives close by. This being said, I had some left over Sugar Cookie Dough from a prior post. So, I brought out the Williams and Sonoma Cookie Cutter and went to work!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Victory in Volvo!

So, Blake. Yes, my Volvo-obsessed beach bum brother. He did something incredible. He took this oober hard MSAT exam to get into a crazy Volvo institute in Arizona. He scored like 20 points better than the average. So what would Lauren do if there is good news in any area of Blakes life? Well, bake a cake of course! Apparently I messed up the "Volvo" emblem, but I think the boy is just full of crap. Below is a picture of Blake with his "I got game" T-shirt. Yeah Blake, we're amazing and can fix anything, BRAVO! We are all so proud of you, for real!

So, I thought that a strawberry cake would be in order. Since I know he likes it, and I was in the mood for a strawberry cake (yes, I can be a bit selfish!) I coated the wonderful cakey goodness in my magnolia cake icing recipe. (Listed in an earlier post!) I cut out fondant shapes, and covered the cake in white fondant.

Yes...I ate most of that. Ok..I'm exaggerating just a little, but I did put a work on it. Oddly, it was one of the best cakes I've ever made. was the Volvo I'm sure.

"From the Kitchen of Lauren"

From the Kitchen of Lauren. All of those lovely cookies needed homes. So..I packaged them up all sweet and pretty...and gave them to all of our friends! Take a look!
A few pictures of the finished product! Now, which one to eat first..........hmmmmmm?

Patties and Brownie Cut-outs!

Yes, Baking Day continued. I wasn't lying when I told you this was serious business. And now for a recipe that I make every single year. Homeade Peppermint Patties. Let me just are going to want to adapt this into your yealry Christmas baking ritual.

Homeade Peppermint Patties
Items Needed:
1 14-ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
green or red food coloring
6 cups powdered sugar
Melting Chocolate
1. In large bowl, combines sweetened milk, extract, and food coloring until smooth. Gradually add sugar and combine until well-blended. Knead lightly on floured surface. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment and slightly flatten into a patty-shape. Let dry in refrigerator 0ne hour. Flip over, and dry one hour longer. Melt chocolate, coat, and let set. ENJOY!

Chocolate Brownie Roll Outs (thank you SmittenKitchen!)
Items Needed:
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
One cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
one teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetend Hershey's Cocoa
1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
3. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add flour mixture.
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
5. On heavily floured surface, roll out dough. (Flour will bake off-don't worry!)
6. Cut out cute shapes! Bake for 8-11 minutes depending on size. They will be soft in the middle and pretty set on the edges.

The brownie roll-out cookie recipe cut with a teeny tiny flower shape cookie cutter.
Brownie cut-outs reindeer style. (Actually...rudolf style.)

More Baking Day With Torey!

More..More...More! Here is the evidence.

Peanut Butter Cup Tarts. Follow the recipe from Oct. 2009, just add festive Christmas sprinkles! PS...the batter is sssooo good to! Just be sure to bake more batter than you eat.
Also a prior cookie recipe. Oaty Oatmeal Cookies for Katherine recipe. Only, to these cookies I added randomn amounts of peanut butter, coconut, chocolate chunks, and M&M's. Be creative...PS these are SUPER YUMMY!'s what happened with these. This is my recipe for my chocolate chip cookies which I shared with you a few posts ago (I had added M&M's instead of choc. chips). Anyway, I went to dig out a pack of instant pudding and realized I only had two packs of sugar free in my
cupboard. (Freak-out Moment). Then, I added the two sugar-free packs instead, and baked them as normal. I rolled them into balls though. They didn't flatten out in the oven, and the puffed up. They tasted cakey-er. There were absolutely fantastic. So....fortunately this worked out. I used M&M's (as above) and choc chips (as below)

Baking Day With Torey!

BAKING DAY HAS COME! This is part one. Part two will come when I feel like coating a mass amount of randomn things in chocolate. Anyway...I invited my friend Torey to come help. You must understand something here. I don't bake with people. I'm a perfectionist who never lets ANYONE HELP! Really, not anyone. So I stretched myself, even said nice comments to her, and it didn't end up with either one of us in the oven. I'm so proud!

Almond Spritz Cookies
Items Needed:
1/2 softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup of crisco
1 large egg
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring
1. In large mixing bowl, cream butter, crisco, and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and almond extract, and food coloring (optional), beat well.
2. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl and gradually mix into the wet mixture. Press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350* for 7-8 minutes. Makes about 60 cookies.

Minty and Peanut Buttery Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies (as Shown Above)
Items Needed:
One Chocolate Cake Mix
1/3 cup of oil
2 eggs
peanut butter chips (optional)
mint M&Mss (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350* Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. combine cake mix, oil, and eggs. Add peanut butter chips or mint M&Ms or whatever the heck you want to throw in there. Roll into balls. Flatten slightly on cookie sheets.
3. Bake ten minutes. They will be little and puffy.

Whoopie Pie Cake Balls!!

After I had made those whoopie pies for my brother, I realized something. If you can make cake balls with cake and icing, why can't you make whoopie pie balls with whoopie pies and whoopie pie filling. I was off, and on a mission. I crumpled the cake as in the cake ball recipe and added icing. Let me tell you, it was absolutely AMAZING! Try it. Really, right now! Go! You'll be a changed person!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whoopie Wonders

This is, yet another, big moment. I'm about to reveal my whoopie pie recipe. My prized, loved, and delicious whoopie pie recipe. But it's ok, I'd rather share it with you, so that you too can make tasty morsels of delight. But there is a story behind these decadent circles. My brother, who is far far away in Flordia, beggs me every time he's home to make red velvet whoppie pies. For some reason I'm always soooo busy. Not today! Break is here! The last time he was home I actually was making a red velvet cake for a friend, and had a little extra batter left over. I then, made him about four whoppie pies. However, I didn't have enough time to whip up some of my delightful icing. Therefore, I did something horrible. I opened up a can. Yes, a can of icing. I'm disgusted with myself. The whoppie pie wasn't a fan of the can either. My brother liked it so much, that I actually found the half-eaten whoppie pie in my father's car two-weeks later. That won't happen again haha.

This recipe works for ANY flavor of cake mix. I've made strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, fun-fetti (0h my gosh!!) and red velvet so far. More to come I'm sure haha.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (of Wonder)
Items Needed:
One Red Velvet (or any kind) cake mix
water, oil, and eggs it calls for on the back
1 1/4-1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1. Mix the cake mix as directed on the package. Gradually add flour and continue to mix until very thick (almost like runny cookie dough). THe more flour you add, the more "puffy" they will be.
2. Bake for apporximately 12-14 minutes at 350*
3. Let cool. (Makes approximately 16 whoopie pies, depending on size)
4. Frost with the absolutely whoopie pie frosting recipe I'm about to share with you. (that is sooooo goood)
Absolutely Amazing Whoopie Pie Icing
Items Needed:
3 egg whites
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons of milk
2 1/4 cups of crisco vegetable shortening
6 cups of powdered sugar
1. Whip all ingredients together with hand mixer. The consistency will be that of a very thick whipped cream.
2. I use a giant Ziploc bag, and fill it whith the white stuff. Then I snip of the end and pipe a perfect circle of frosting onto the cookie, and top it with another!
This makes ALOT of icing, so you might have a bit left-over, but it's ok. You'll find SOMETHING to do with it ;)
I must say. This IS one of my favorite all-time recipes EVER! You must try!

Practice Packages

It occurred to me one day. OH MY GOSH, how in the world are all my college friends going to enjoy my delightful cookies if I'm not going to see them over Christmas! So, in the midst of finals, I pulled it out of me to make some cookie packages for my friends who were down deep in finals. It made them very very happy, and me happy because they loved them!

I know, more cookies. But listen, it's ok because.....well just because. These are special cookies though. These right here are my PRIZED chocolate chip cookie recipe. (Although these have mnms to be festive, can you blame me?) You should be thankful that I'm bequeathing this recipe upon you. You might be suprised what makes these so wonderful.

Lauren's Chocolate Chip Cookies/MnM Cookies
(Best Ever)
Items Needed:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package jello instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips/or MnMs
1. Preheat oven to 350*.
2. Combine flour and baking soda.
3. In another bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and white sugar, Beat in instant pudding mix until combined. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Slowly blend in flour mixture. Stir in whatever you feel like stirring in (choc. chips, M&M's, jawbreakers (haha that would be terrible, yet funny))

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges LIGHT golden brown. Enjoy, you won't be able to stop eating these tast morsels.
My precious little cookie packages!

Delightful Diva Day: Quiche and Toast

Let me just prepare you for these next two dishes. If you are on a diet of any kind, just leave. You are not even welcome to look upon these recipes. I'm sorry, not for you. Because the only reason these next two dishes are some of the best breakfast recipes I've ever made, is due to the fact that their ingredients are very naughty. But, who cares! At least for today!

Absolutely Outstanding Best-Ever Quiche (that pretty much sums it up)
Also, I made quiche cups with a "ham crust" The picture above was the leftover that we threw into a little pie dish. You can make it either way.
Items Needed:
1/2 small onion (diced)
1 package frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 (15 oz.) container of whole milk ricotta cheese (HAHA!)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
12 thin slices of deli ham.
1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Spray egular size muffin tin (12) with cooking spray.
2. In olive oil covered skillet, cook onion for five minutes on medium high heat, add spinach, pepper, nutmeg, and salt. Cook until liquid evaporates (appoximately 3 minutes)
3. Combine ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add eggs, stir until well-blended. Add semi-COOLED spinach mixture.
4. Place on slice of ham into each muffin cup. Distribute the egg miture evenly into each muffin cup. Pour the rest of the mixture into a mini pie plate, or more muffin tins.
5. Bake approximately 40 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes, remove by running a knife around the esges. Serve hot or cold.
Oh my Oh my Oh my, Raspberry Stuffed French Toast with Custard Sauce
Items Needed:
4 oz.Philly Cream Cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinamon
2 eggs plus two egg whites
5 cups milk, divided
1 loaf (24-inch) French Bagette, ends trimmed, cut into 18 slices.
1 pkg. frozen unsweetend raspberries, divided
1 pkg (4-serving size) jello Vanilla Instant Pudding
1. Beat softened cream cheese, sugar, canilla, and cinamon with electric mixer until well-blended. Add eggs and egg whites, one at a time, mmixing well after each addition. Slowly add two cups of the milk, beating in between.
2. Grease a 9*13 inch pan with cooking spray. Place 9 of the pieces of bread on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with half of the raspberries. Top with the rest of the bread. Pour the milk mixture over top of the bread. Let stand thirty minutes or refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350*
3. Bake forty minutes or until light golden brown. While baking, bring 3 cups of milk to a light boil, don't over cook. Add the pudding mix gradually. Whisk until blended. Remove from heat and let set for 5 minutes. Microwave remaining raspberries until softened. Serve with custard sauce and raspberries.

Delightful Diva Day: Coconut Fruit Salad and Chips

I bet you are wondering why in the world you would serve chips with Coconut fruit Salad. Oh ye of little faith. I must introduce you to something fabulash. Would you come along?
Hungry Girl's Coconut Fruit Salad
(Also, my favorite combination of all things good for me!)
Items Needed:
For Salad:
2 cups of halved strawberries
1 cup bluberries
1 cup red grapes
1 cup chopped peaches
2 large bananas, slices
1 large granny smith apple, chopped
For Glaze:
6 ounces fat-free vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup light coconut milk (I found it at Giant)
2 tablespoons of Splenda sweeter (or sugar hehe)
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon lime juice
1.In large mixing bowl, combine fruit.
2. In another bowl, combine all glaze items, toss over fruit salad.
3. Refrigerate unti you are ready to FEAST!

Cinnamon Sugar Chips:

Items Needed:

Flour Tortillas

Melted Butter

Cinamon and Sugar (Mixed to your liking)

1. Preheat oven to 350*, brush melted butter onto tortillas, cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters (or cut into wedges). Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until golden brown and crispy!

These go so perfectly with fruit salad it's not even funny. Really, I'm not laughing!

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