Monday, December 31, 2012

Peanut Butter Balls

Christmas exploded at my house.

I have an explanation for this...we eat a lot of peanut butter?
That's what it looks like, anyway.

Or maybe I should say that Santa's workshop exploded at my house.

The irony is that we don't do Santa.

And I am thankful that my children did not spoil the truth about Santa for their friends and cousins that do do Santa.

This year, anyway.

I'm grateful for fun new things for myself and my children (I have discovered that new toys are as much a gift to the parents as they are the children-recipients).

But I'm simply not sure where to put everything.

So I'm in my basement, blogging, eating peanut butter balls, pretending that the disaster upstairs doesn't exist.

Hurricane Katrina's got nothin' on the Jones house.

PS.  If you've never had a peanut butter ball, do yourself a favor.  Make some.  They're better than Reese's cups.  Because there's more peanut butter in these, naturally.  And FYI, I buy peanut butter at Sam's.  Monthly.

Peanut Butter Balls
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 stick butter
1 lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 bar paraffin wax

In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Don't whip it - you don't want to incorporate air and make it fluffy - just mix until combined.  Form into small balls (about 2 tsp each) and roll until smooth.  Lay the balls on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for about an hour.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips with the paraffin wax in a double boiler (a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water).  Use a toothpick to dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate, leaving a small round circle of peanut butter showing at the top (like a buckeye).  Return to the sheet tray and use the toothpick to smooth over the hole left by the toothpick.  Cool until the chocolate is set.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I love buffalo wings.  Who doesn't.

But they're messy.  And fried.

So here's the solution: mix together blue cheese dressing, hot wing sauce and chicken.  And bake it in the form of a dip.  And eat with crackers and celery.

This is crazy easy and so good.

And I ate it during Christmas, because it's on my "dips, cookies and candy" diet.  The diet that begins the weekend before Christmas and continues through New Year's.


Until I remember that I have a gym membership and have to start making actual meals again for my family.  Instead of dips, cookies and candy.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup Frank's hot sauce (I liked the original hot sauce better; my husband liked the buffalo sauce better)
3 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
1 cups blue cheese crumbles, divided
Pita chips, celery sticks, and Townhouse crackers, for dipping

Blend together the ingredients and top with 1/2 cup of the blue cheese crumbles.  Spread in an 8x8 baking dish and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.  Serve with Townhouse crackers, pita chips and celery sticks.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coconut Balls

Crafty people make me sick.

You know the people that I mean.  You may even be one of *those* people.  The people that carve out time to make adorable, perfect projects with their adorable, perfect children in their adorable, perfect (read: clean) houses.

My non-perfect coconut ball filling.
That just ain't my reality.  My 4-year-old is usually flying around the house, pretending to be Tinky-Belle (that's Tinkerbell for all you lay people out there).  My 2-year-old rarely has anything on except a diaper (on a good day.  Most days she's buck-necked).  The baby only poops once a week, which is normal but very messy.

And we're getting, like, fourteen deliveries per day, each one of which my 8-pound dachshund lunges, barking hysterically, at the door, threatening to tear the UPS and FedEx guys limb-from-limb.  You see, I like to order Christmas presents.  Rather than, like, go to an actual store.  Please see notes above for reasons that venturing out into public to shop is not such a good idea for me and my children at this point in our lives.

Maybe I'll return to being a normal human being who actually shops in stores where I have to present an actual credit card to pay rather than just typing in my number from memory.

But probably no time soon.

And you probably didn't come here to read about baby poop, breast milk, and online Christmas shopping, did you?


So anyway, you should make these coconut balls.  They were really good.  I'm a texture freak, and today I didn't feel like putting anything crunchy (i.e., almonds) in my coconut balls, so I didn't.  But you totally could if you wanted.

They were little almond joy balls.  Yum!

And these were sweet (duh.  It's dessert containing chocolate, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.  Of course it's sweet!  And that's why I loved them.).  And very delicious.  And I'm going to serve them at my party on Friday night.  And if there are any left, I'll freeze them.

So I can crack my teeth and ruin my braces on frozen coconut balls because I'm too impatient to let things actually thaw before devouring them.

My orthodontist loves me.

Coconut Balls

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
14 oz. package sweetened shredded coconut
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups (about 12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bar paraffin wax (usually found on the baking or canning aisle)

Use an electric mixer to blend all the ingredients together.  Don't beat air into the mixture - just mix until combined.  Roll into small balls (about 2 tsp each).  Place on a parchment-paper-lined sheet tray and refrigerate for about an hour.

Melt the chocolate with the paraffin wax in a double boiler (a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water), stirring frequently.  Dip the cold coconut balls into the chocolate and place them back on the parchment paper.  Refrigerate until chocolate has hardened.  Store in the refrigerator.  These freeze well.

Makes 60-70 balls.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Baked Fontina

Merry Christmas, y'all.

'Tis the season...

of dips, candy, cookies...

and no main dishes.

I don't eat main dishes at Christmas.

I'm way too busy eating...

dips, candy and cookies!


A perfect example: I had a party with my cousins, and my menu consisted of...appetizers and desserts.

Here's what I made:

this baked fontina cheese dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Marinated pork tenderloin on little soft rolls
Sugar & Spice Rosemary Cashews
Roasted Jalapeno Poppers
Fruit (we needed something remotely healthy)

AND...for dessert, I made:

Coconut Balls
Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels

See?  No main event.  Just the yummy starters and sides.  And dessert, naturally.

This baked Fontina is just too good.  And too easy.  And special.

Baked Fontina Dip
Barely adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 1/2 pounds fontina cheese, cubed
3 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 loaves crusty bread, heated and sliced, for dipping

Spread the cheese cubes evenly in the bottom of a cast iron skillet.  Drizzle the olive oil evenly on top and then sprinkle the thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper on top.

Broil for 5-7 minutes, watching it carefully, until melted and bubbly and the top starts to brown.  Serve immediately with hot French bread for dipping.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cookie Swap & Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

So I went to a cookie swap with my MOPS friends.

Fun, right?!?

The only rule was that you had to show up with 4 dozen cookies.

Piece of cake.  I mean cookie.


And since having dozens of cookies in my freezer at any given time is just how I roll, a cookie swap was a no-brainer.

I am the self-proclaimed cookie monster, after all.

But I love cookies so much that deciding which cookies to take is a big decision!

I know.  I know.

So I took these.  They're so pretty and festive and Christmasy.

I love Christmas.

And I also took these chocolate chip bars.  With melted butter in the batter, which makes for a creamy, different (in a good way) batter.  So easy.  So good.

Yum.  Gooey, rich and a chocolate chip cookie in a bar form!


Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies

12 T butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 whole large egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Beat the butter and sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the vanilla, egg yolk and whole egg.  Beat until combined.  Add the salt, soda, flour and chocolate chips.  Stir until just combined.  Spread batter in a greased 7x11 baking dish.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 22-25 minutes until just set.  Cool and cut into squares.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Black Bean Chili with Turkey Sausage

Another Bunny recipe for you.

Chili...with tons of flavor from black beans and sweet Italian turkey sausage.

This is good and spicy, with tons of flavor...and finished with lime juice and cilantro, which just gives it FLAVOR, people.

So brown the meat with the onion.

And then add seasonings and spices and Dijon mustard...I've never added mustard to chili before, and it gives it a tangy flavor without actually tasting like mustard (my husband doesn't like Dijon but he loves this chili).

Now add the tomatoes, of course.

Simmer it for a little while before you add the black beans, lime juice and cilantro...

And I would have taken a picture of the finished product, but I forgot.  I made this for friends and by the time I made myself a bowl and topped it with cheese and sour cream, I was no longer thinking about this recipe or my blog.

I was only thinking about eating.

Black Bean Chili with Turkey Sausage

2 T olive oil
2 onions, diced
19 oz. (or a pound) sweet Italian turkey sausage (removed from casings)
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
8 oz. can tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 T cumin
4 T chili powder
2 T Dijon mustard
1 T salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 T dried basil
1 T dried oregano
2 T sugar
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

For serving:
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Avocado, sliced
Fritos or tortilla chips

Heat the oil in a large soup pot and saute the onions for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Add the sausage and ground beef and cook, breaking it up into little pieces with a wooden spoon.  When the meat is cooked, drain off most of the fat and return the pot (with the meat and onions in it) back to the stove.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, basil, oregano and sugar.  Stir it well to combine and toast the spices and herbs.  Add the crushed and diced tomatoes with the water.  Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Stir in the lime juice, cilantro and black beans.  Heat through and serve with desired toppings.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chicken Creole

This is a once-in-a-lifetime post.  Healthy food - on a Monday, no less!

This is how I eat it...rice on the top.
The stars must be aligned.

Start with the trinity...celery, onion, green peppers.
You shouldn't count on this happening again.

Chicken creole.  It's so full of flavor.  It's healthy.  It's pretty (I love red food).

My mom has been making this for as long as I can remember...and I've loved it for as long as I can remember.

I actually can't believe I'm just now sharing it with you.

I made it last week and it was so good I'm craving it and I'm going to have to make it again soon like tomorrow since I'm writing about it and looking at pictures of it and it makes me want to eat it again NOW!

This recipe actually is my grandmother's, and I love making things my grandmother and mama made!

This is how my husband likes it...rice on the bottom.

Chicken Creole

2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, seasoned with basil & oregano
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 T dried Italian seasoning
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed\
Hot cooked rice, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the onion, green pepper and celery for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Simmer for about an hour.  Add the chicken and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning - sometimes I add extra salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Serve over hot cooked rice.