I never had the traditional pumpkin or pecan pie for Thanksgiving dessert when I was growing up. To this day, I won’t touch a pumpkin pie. If pecan pie is my only option, I might indulge, but I don’t have the same affinity for it as most people. These pecan pie truffles, however, are another story. You can’t keep me out of my stash of them. I made mine with bourbon so that they would keep at room temperature (I’ll be shipping some to a special someone and serving them at my holiday party this year).
Recipe Substitution: If you don’t want to use bourbon in this recipe, you can use coconut or almond milk. If you do, be sure to refrigerate the truffles until serving.
Pecan Pie Truffles
Adapted from VegNews via Growing Up Veg
Makes 2 dozen truffles
- 2 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans (more for garnish, if desired)
- 1 c. graham cracker crumbs (~1 sleeve of Keebler graham crackers)
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbp. maple syrup
- 1/3 c. bourbon
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 12-18 oz. dark chocolate candy melts
Place graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, bourbon and vanilla in a food processor. Pulse until well mixed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon, portion pecan mixture into balls about 1-inch in diameter and place onto prepared baking sheet. Roll each ball between palms to shape slightly.
Freeze for 2 hours.
Melt candy melts in microwave. Using two forks, dip each truffle in candy melts. Allow excess to drip off before returning to baking sheet to set. Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.
Allow to set in fridge/freezer 2 hours before serving.
Store in an airtight container. Pecan pie truffles are fine at room temperature but I recommend storing them in the freezer if not serving within a few days.
I learned to drink alcohol by drinking girly drinks that didn’t taste like alcohol – Smirnoff Ice, Fuzzy Navels…. and this one, I hesitate to call it by the name I knew it for fear that I will offend you. But I’m going to tell you anyway. I knew this drink as a Dirty Girl Scout. You can bet that I got a lot of shocked looks when I recently started talking about this drink again, at work nonetheless. However, one sip of this concoction and I was no longer the lunatic talking about naughty-sounding things, but I was the genius who introduced them to the dangerously good liquid thin mint. I drink this all year long, you can dress it up for the holidays with a peppermint stick or a candy cane.
Liquid Thin Mints
1 oz. peppermint schnapps
4 oz. chocolate milk
candy cane or peppermint stick (optional garnish)
Place 1/2 – 1 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Add peppermint schnapps and chocolate milk. Shake like crazy.
Pour, enjoy, and try not to get too drunk.
Check out the below links for more contributions to the 12 Weeks of Holiday Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic
I’m always on the look out for easy, quick dinners that don’t make a huge mess in the kitchen. Bonus points if veggies are incorporated right in. After being up a couple times a night (Sophie’s almost 9 months old and still not sleeping through the night) and working all day, dinner needs to be as low-fuss as possible.
This recipe, or the version I had originally pinned from Shape Magazine (the link is apparently no longer good), fit that bill. One pot meal and a veggie made this pasta dish a weeknight reality. I updated the recipe to add a bit more flavor and freshness – a little extra red pepper flakes and some fresh basil. I also decided against using chicken stock to cook the pasta. Even with the low-sodium broth, I found it a bit salty and just… off. When I needed to add extra liquid, I used plain water, and that seemed to help.
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Adapted from Yummly
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 lb. spicy Italian sausage
- 12 oz. broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4-5 c. water
- kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/2 c. freshly chopped basil
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, crumbling it into pieces until completely cooked. Transfer to a plate, leaving behind as much of the oil and juices as possible. Add broccoli rabe and garlic to skillet. Sautee until beginning to wilt. Transfer to plate, again leaving behind as much of the oil and juices as possible.
Pour 4 c. water into skillet. As it heats, scrape bottom of the pan with a wooded spoon to loosen burnt bits. When boiling, add pasta. Cook 7-9 minutes, until not quite tender. Add sausage and broccoli rabe back to pan and continue cooking until pasta is ready and sausage and broccoli rabe are hot. If needed, add additional water (I had to).
Remove from heat. There should be little water left in the pan – just enough to be a sauce. Season with salt, red pepper flakes and toss with 1/2 c. grated Parmesan.
Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
I really enjoy making various candies during the holiday season because they keep so well. I can make the candy in advance and freeze it. I can give it away, and know that the recipients can store it for a while or freeze it if they are experiencing a sugar overload.
Of all the candies I’ve made, fudge (along with bark) ranks up there as one of the easiest and fastest to make. I’ve made chocolate fudge in the past, but this particular recipe highlights dark dark chocolate, one of my favorites. For some extra holiday pizzazz, I filled cookie cutters with fudge and individually packaged the fudge, instead of making a pan and cutting it into square. I’ll be mailing these goodies in holiday care packages and giving them as favors at a holiday party, but if you have kids, this would also make a cute stocking stuffer.
Thanks again to Meal Planning Magic for hosting the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats. Head over to her blog, or check out the linky at the bottom of this post, for more ideas for your holiday baking.
Dark Chocolate Fudge
Adapted from Taste & See That the Lord is Good via Chocolate and Carrots
Makes an 8×8 in. pan (or 8-10 2 in. cookie cutters worth)
- 3 c. good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 14 oz. can condensed milk
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- sprinkles (optional)
Line an 8×8 inch pan or Pyrex with parchment paper and set aside.
In a double broiler, melt chocolate chips and condensed milk. Stir regularly until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula or knife. Top with sprinkles, if desired.
Refrigerate until set.
Fudge in Cookie Cutters: Wrap the bottom of each cookie cutter in aluminum oil and set on a baking sheet before filling. Once set, remove the foil and package.
Freeze: To freeze fudge in pan, wrap tightly in saran wrap. To freeze fudge in cookie cutters, wrap or package each cookie cutter individually. Then seal in an airtight container.
For the first time in several years, I feel like we’ve had fall here in MD. Usually the weather goes straight from keep-your-ac-cranking hot to curl-up-in-front-of-the-fire cold. This year, we actually have had some beautiful fall weather. Sweatshirt weather. Apple picking weather.
While my apple picking buddy is away right now (and missed terribly!), I couldn’t let this year pass without a trip to the farm. My hubby and I took Sophie pumpkin picking for the first time. We had a picnic with some great friends. And I dragged my hubby to the apple orchard, to pick some of the tastiest apples of the year. Seriously. Apple picking apples taste sooo much better than store-bought apples.
I had a lot of plans for those apples, beyond eating. I probably didn’t pick enough. I made Apple Berry and Rosemary Shortbread from Desserts for Breakfast (who takes amazing photos if you haven’t visited her blog). I made a ton of apple sauce for Sophie (she only likes homemade apple sauce, not store bought apple sauce). And finally, I tried my hand at canning for the first time – I made apple butter, my contribution this week for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. While the apple butter is a great contribution to a holiday breakfast table, I’m planning on giving my jars as Christmas gifts to teachers as part of an apple-themed basket along with some apple-scented items from Bath and Body Works.
- I used Red Delicious apples for this recipe. The original recipe calls for 2 lbs. MacIntosh apples and 2 lbs. Granny Smith apples. However, author Eleanor Topp says that you can use whatever is fresh and local. The different types might “change the texture of the butter slightly, but starting with quality fruit is the most important thing.”
- The recipe refers to a “procedure for shorter processing time,” also from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving. Those directions are interspersed in the recipe below, so that you can time everything appropriately.
- I did not use any special canning equipment. I used a large stockpot instead of a canner, and regular kitchen tongs instead of canning tongs. The only thing I bought were mason jars.
- I found the labels for the jars at Money Saving Mom. Head over there to download your free printable labels.
Adapted from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving via Epicurious
Makes 7 cups (4 – 8 oz. jars)
- 4 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and diced (~10-12 apples)
- 1 c. apple cider
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
Get the apple butter started: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine apples and apple cider. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half and apples have started to soften.
Meanwhile, fill a boiling-water canner (or a very large stockpot) with hot water. Bring to a boil. Using tongs, place canning jars in boiling water. Water should come about 2 inches over the jars. Boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize. (This step took ~45 minutes for me.)
Continue with the apple butter: Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Increase heat again to medium-high and boil for another 20 minutes or so.
A few minutes before apples are ready, add lids to boiling water and sanitize according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Line a baking sheet with a couple of clean dish towels while you’re waiting.
Finish the Apple Butter & Can: Using an immersion mixer, puree apple butter to desired consistency. Remove jars and lids from canner/stockpot and place on lined baking sheet. Pour apple butter into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch of room to the rim. If needed, remove air bubbles from jar by sliding a clean spatula between glass and food. Add additional apple butter if needed.
Wipe rim of jar to remove any excess food. Center lid on jar and screw on band until fingertip-tight. Return sealed jars to the canner, adding boiling water if needed to ensure that the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Boil for 5 minutes.
Remove jars and return to lined baking sheet to cool to room temperature, at least 24 hours. Check jar seals – the lids should be turned downwards and should not move. Tighten band (mine came loose even though jar was sealed).
Label and store in a cool, dark place until giving away or enjoying.
Every November, I stock my freezer with fresh cranberries that begin to appear in the grocery store. Usually, I use them to make a cranberry pear tart, or some muffins, whenever the mood strikes. I tend to forget about this appetizer, which I first had back in college. I wish I had gotten a photo before we dug in. This brie, my contribution to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic, is a wonderful, seasonal, appetizer for the Thanksgiving of Christmas season.
Make Ahead: The cranberry mixture can be made earlier in the day. Top brie and bake just before serving.
Baked Brie with Cranberries
- 1/2 c. triple sec
- 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
- 1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1-8 oz. wheel of brie
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a small saucepan, combine triple sec, brown sugar and cranberries over medium heat. Cool, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst.
Place brie in an oven-safe serving dish. Top with cranberries mixture. Bake until brie has softened, 10-15 minutes.
Serve hot, with fresh bread or crackers.
I love sweets just as much as the next person, but I really didn’t want to post 12 weeks of desserts for the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic. I wanted to give you a couple of options that you could make during the holiday season, that while although a little sweet, don’t put you into a sugar coma.
So for this week’s treat, you have nutty granola. Be careful, it’s addictive – I have some on my yogurt for breakfast and then continue to eat it by the handful all day long. This granola is super easy and quick to make and keeps well (at least 2 weeks) if you can keep it around the house. It’s a great make-ahead breakfast for overnight guests or, tie a pretty bow around it, and give it as a gift to a food-lover or host for your own travels this holiday season.
By Books n’ Cooks
Makes enough to fill 2 large mason jars (7-8 cups)
- 1 c. roasted cashews, roughly chopped
- 2 c. old-fashioned oats
- 1 c. slivered almonds
- 1 c. sweetened coconut
- 4 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 3 Tbs. honey
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss to ensure that the vegetable oil and honey coat the nuts, oats, and coconut.
Spread onto prepared baking sheet. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until granola is golden brown. Remove from oven. Stir one more time before allowing to cool on the baking sheet.
Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.
My marshmallows got a little burnt (lesson learned: don’t multitask while something is under the broiler!) but these brownies were killer. Five of us ate our way through more of a pan than I’d like to admit. If you have kids, it’s a great alternative to actually assembling and roasting s’mores. If you don’t, well, it’s just awesome. I can’t wait to make this again during the holiday season!
This blog post is part of my ongoing contribution to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. Check out the links below for more holiday treats from my blogging friends.
Makes a 9×13 in. pan
- 10 graham crackers, broken in half (20 squares total)
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter
- 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 2½ c. mini marshmallows
- 1 c. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a 9×13 in. baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Lay 15 graham crackers along the bottom, breaking them and overlapping sides as necessary to cover bottom of pan. Set aside.
Break remaining 5 graham crackers squares into pieces and set aside, with the chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Put butter and unsweetened chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted, About 2 minutes total. Whisk in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour until just incorporated.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbles attached. Do not overbake!
Remove from oven and sprinkle marshmallows and chocolate chips over the top. Bake for another 3-5 minutes, until marshmallows begin to puff up. Remove from oven and turn on broiler. Press graham cracker pieces into the marshmallows. Bake for another minute or so, until marshmallows are golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
Use the parchment paper to life brownies out of pan and onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife, warmed briefly under hot water, to cut the brownies. Wipe the knife and rewarm under hot water as necessary.
Store in an airtight container.
While Christmas is still 3 months away, I’m already making lists upon lists of recipes I want to make for the holiday season. There are care packages to send, a holiday party to plan for, and menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas, and whatever other days my family invade my parent’s house. But let’s be honest. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I probably start thinking about food to share, crafts to make, and gifts to purchase as early as July.
Thus, it should come as no surprise to you that I’m once again participating in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic. Over the next 12 weeks, I’ll be sharing a holiday recipe for you to keep in your arsenal for your own holiday planning. Some items will get frozen for my own holiday plans, but more likely, my husband, coworkers, and friends will get treated to 12 weeks of Christmas Treats along with you. And now on to the recipe.
A few weeks ago, I received the latest (October/November) issue of Fine Cooking and flipping through it, I knew exactly which recipe I’d try first. Nope, it wasn’t one of the featured holiday pumpkin desserts. I was going to try one of the flavor combinations in the quick bread article. I figure, the recipe is a great recipe to have in my repertoire for unexpected company or a last minute event. The version I made – chocolate, coconut, almond bread – was a tasty snack for afternoon coffee, but would also make a great dessert. I made two loaves, one of which I plan on shipping to a special someone (unless it gets eaten first!).
Chocolate, Coconut & Almond Bread
Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 125 (p. 68)
Makes 1 loaf
- 9 Tbs. (1 stick + 1 Tbs.) unsalted butter, divided
- 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring pan
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 c. unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 c. sweetened, shredded coconut, toasted
- 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 – 1/2 c. slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 350.
In a small bowl, melt 8 Tbs. (1 stick) of butter. Allow to cool.
Using 1 Tbs. butter, grease bottom and sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan (if your butter isn’t softened, you can melt it and grease the pan that way). Sprinkle with a little flour on bottom and sides of buttered pan, tapping pan to move around flour, ensuring that pan is completely covered. Tap out excess flour over the sink. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Pour milk mixture and melted butter over dry ingredients and briefly stir with a rubber spatula until most of the wet ingredients are incorporated. Some dry streak are ok. Add toasted coconut and chocolate chips and stir until all ingredients are fulling incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Top with slivered almonds.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and return to rack to cool completely.